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Anyone have a home brew recipe for chain cleaning?(19 posts)

Anyone have a home brew recipe for chain cleaning?shakyfish
Oct 7, 2003 2:13 PM
Anyone have a replacement for the expensive Park Bio-Chain Brite? I use the Park Cyclone system.

Or a different brand to suggest that is cheaper?


a rag?gtx
Oct 7, 2003 2:26 PM
Try not to let it get too dirty to begin with, but even with my mtb all I do is run it through a rag til it's clean, then relube and I'm done. I don't like solvents on my chain. I'll use a light solvent to clean the cassette from time to time, cause with a cassette you can get all the solvent off.
re: Anyone have a home brew recipe for chain cleaning?Humma Hah
Oct 7, 2003 2:44 PM
Low-VOC mineral spirits. Probably not as environmentally friendly, though. OK if you use it sparingly, and dispose of any waste responsibly (drop it off at a recycling center or on "recycling day").
No mineral spirits-try camp fuel or white gasGreg B
Oct 8, 2003 4:21 AM
Camp fuel doesn't attack seals, plastics or soft rubber components. It also leaves NO film when it evaps. Follow with your favorite lube.
You must have a death wish ...Humma Hah
Oct 8, 2003 7:16 AM
Camp fuel is just a special grade of gasoline.

And bicycle chains don't have seals, plastics, or soft rubber components. (Motorcycle o-ring chains do, but are too stiff for bicycles, and don't require cleaning anyway).
Good lube equals easy cleaningDropped
Oct 7, 2003 2:57 PM
I'd suggest that to make your chain easier to clean, you start by using a simple home brew lube such as the common mineral spirit/motor oil combo. I've seen people suggest 3:1 or 4:1 ratios.

Ever since I switched to homebrew lube, I find that not only does it last longer than the expensive stuff you get at your LBS, but I get a lot less crap built up on the chain. Makes it easier to keep the chain clean.
Good lube equals easy cleaningmoots
Oct 7, 2003 3:30 PM
How about chain cleaning sloutions? A half gallon of Pedros cost me almost $50.00. Would any citrus based cleaning solution, like something from homedepot work?
Mineral Spirits. $5 half gallon. nmSpunout
Oct 8, 2003 3:46 AM
No need to clean your chainKerry Irons
Oct 7, 2003 4:05 PM
Assuming we're talking road riding, use the following technique for successful ProLink or homebrew lube application and use:
1 - wipe the chain, cogs, pulleys, and chainrings clean with a rag.
2 - drip on lube while pedaling (forward is better) so that the chain just starts to drip lube. Aim the lube between the side plates and between the bushings and the side plates.
3 - run through all the gears several times, front and back.
4 - wipe the chain, cogs, pulleys, and chainrings clean with a rag.
5 - repeat 2-4 if the chain was really dirty

If you do this every 300 miles or so, you will not get any significant gunky buildup, and you won't have to clean the chain. Also, you'll only need one 4 oz. bottle of ProLink for every 5-10K miles. However, no lube is "perfect." A brite shiny chain that is clean to the touch but is well lubed and gives long mileage is still not possible. IMO, ProLink is the best compromise.

Three schools of thought: 1) wax lubes (White Lightning is the leading brand), 2) oil lubes (numerous brands, with probably TriFlow and ProLink the leaders), and 3) "magic" lubes that leave some sort of super dooper residue behind (Boeshield). Wax lubes, begun originally by folks soaking their chains in melted paraffin, tend to be clean to the touch, not hold up well in the wet, require relatively frequent application, and in White Lightning's case, are fairly expensive on an annual basis. Oil lubes may have all kinds of secret ingredients and additives, but hold up well in the wet, go long between applications, and if not applied properly, can be really dirty. Type 3 lubes claim that their ingredients leave behind some sort of much superior surface effect than wax or oil, and reported results are mixed. My own preference is for ProLink, which is an oil/additive package diluted perhaps 3X in odorless mineral spirits (OMS). You get a chain cleaning while applying due to the solvent effect, and then if you wipe things clean, oil is left only where needed after the solvent evaporates. TriFlow is just as good a lube, but very hard to wipe your chain clean enough after application to prevent a very messy build up. Some swear by simply diluting 1 part motor oil in 3-4 parts OMS and getting a much cheaper alternative to ProLink (which only costs about $6.5 per 15K miles). Recent simple tests have shown that ProLink leaves behind a more waxy residue than oil/OMS, so it is different than just that.
re: Anyone have a home brew recipe for chain cleaning?10speedfiend
Oct 7, 2003 4:38 PM
Simple green works great! But a little pricey. I use Home Depot Generic brand "simple green". I use an empty 2litre Pepsi (mouth is biggest)bottle as per Sheldon Browns web site. Dump simple green inside bottle, chain follows, replace cap and shake. Let sit overnite. Use an old spoke to fish it out. Wipe dry/clean. Re-install chain and lube with favorite Lube. I have never used a cleaning machine, but I suspect simple green will work just fine. Oh yea, they claim to be bio-degradable.
I dilute the Simple Green 1/2 n 1/2 w/ water...JFR
Oct 8, 2003 11:28 AM
...and use the Finish Line chain cleaning machine with good results.

Chain drys overnight and is lubed w/ Prolink next day.

I clean my road chain if I'm already doing the mtb chain and the road chain looks a little grimy (which is not that often).
Orange cleaner works greatElefantino
Oct 7, 2003 5:24 PM
Keep it simple: Don't let the chain get too dirty, get the generic orange concentrate at Wal-Mart, use it a little extra strength, put it on a rag, wipe, lube, ride, be happy.

Or you can spend a lot of money on stuff that works just as well that you have to have a hazmat permit to use.

2nd that - cheapo generic orange cleaner (nm)OffTheBack
Oct 8, 2003 3:13 AM
Industrial degreaser from Smart&Final, 5$/gallonPeterRider
Oct 7, 2003 11:58 PM
Now, I don't know if Smart&Final is a company you find in the whole US or only in SoCal. If you find one, it's the kind of degreasers that is used to clean dishes in cafeterias. Very strong, incredibly great on bike stuff, don't leave you hands too long in it or use rubber gloves.

A Couple Of ChoicesGregory Taylor
Oct 8, 2003 5:46 AM
I've been swung over to the "let your lube do the cleaning" camp after using Pro-Link and some WONDERFUL stuff called Rock-n-Roll Lube. This lube stays pretty clean, and does a good job of flushing crap out from under the rollers. If you stay on top of it, and follow the directions, its just lube and wipe. Chain and component wear is good, so no worries there.

Mineral Spirits is a good cleaning fluid, especially with low aromatic types that can (in theory) be used indoors. It's harmless on paint, and I've never had it attack any rubber or plastic. Cheap too.

However, if you want to get stuff REALLY clean, a spray can of automotive choke and carburator cleaner is tops. It's horrible to paint, can attack rubber and leather, occasionally causes explosions, and is highly toxic to boot, but it works wonders on cassettes, etc. I've even used it on really gunked chains with excellent results. Take the chain off of the bike, spray it heavily to get inside the rollers, let it work, and then wipe it down.
re: Anyone have a home brew recipe for chain cleaning?tarwheel
Oct 8, 2003 6:21 AM
I've switched from using ProLink to homebrew, 3 parts odorless mineral spirits to 1 part motor oil. My chain is quieter and cleaner, and the homebrew is much cheaper. I also use Connex/Wipperman links on all of my chains. Periodically (eg, every 3 months), I remove the chain and soak it in homebrew overnight to give it a thorough cleaning. Then I just dry off the chain and reinstall.
Similar scheme, refined ...Humma Hah
Oct 8, 2003 7:34 AM
I keep three gallon paint cans, one with really dirty mineral spirits, one with semi-dirty mineral spirits, and one with my mineral spirits/Mobil 1 motor oil mix that stays fairly clean.

I made a hardware cloth basket to put parts in to immerse in the solvents, starting with the dirty stuff. I use this system to wash chains, bearings, freewheels, and any other gunky parts. When done, I just put the lid on the cans and save 'em for next time.

By taking the chain off and soaking it, you can really get it deep-cleaned. Keep agitating until no gunk drips out of the links. I don't bother cleaning a chain on the bike other than a quick wipe, because just applying solvents to a chain on the bike is likely to drive grit INTO the links.
Oct 8, 2003 8:43 AM
Works great, and it is cheap.
Zepp Citrus cleaner -- can't be beatpmf1
Oct 8, 2003 9:08 AM
Its $7/gallon at Home Depot. Works great. I use it full strength. As far as I can tell, its the same stuff Finish Line sells for $387/gallon.