Chain Waxing

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by CJ Smith, Apr 17, 2007.

  1. CJ Smith

    CJ Smith New Member

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    After posting a post earlier that asks cyclists what do they do on rainy days
    (it can be found here: http://www.cyclingforums.com/showthread.php?p=3239780#post3239780), I thought about it's content and came up one about how I wax my chain (sic).


    Personally, I have had a can of chain wax for years (yes, you have to double-boiler it). Friends have in the past ask me how I keep my chain so clean and what lube have I been using. Purchasing a new chain not as needed, but every 2,000 miles is the first rule. Then, in between I clean it by hand, the old fashioned way. I use a degreaser and an old toothbrush, before dipping it into the wax (you can substitute with a new toothbrush from your wife/husband or girl/boyfriend, then be sure to make it disappear into your bike toolbox afterward... and don't blame me heh, heh).

    Dipping your chain can be simplified by grabbing a standard metal-wire coat hanger, one with a diameter that fits between your chain links and snipping two STRAIGHT pieces from it about 6 - 10 inches in length. Thinner, more flexible wire works too, but with a ridgid piece you can manipulate the chain, if need be, left or right with a simple twist of the wrist.

    The next thing you should to do is put a large bend in one end that is comfortable enough to wrap roughly 1/2 way around your index finger (be sure [when dipping] to hold the bitter end of the bend with your thumb). On the other end put a small tight bend (make it so that it can easily be slipped in and out of the final chain link). BE SURE YOU MAKE TWO OF THESE.

    Heat up your wax until it is nearly in a liquid state via a double-boiler method. Additionally, I use an old fork (just not your own favorite one - then add that too to your tool box) to stir up the small pieces of wax. When all the chunks have melted, slowly feed your chain, coat hanger pieces hooked through both ends of it, into the wax. Be certain that you are firmly holding the leading end's piece of coat hanger and you have the bitter-end pinched against your index finger with your thumb.

    Picture this: it should flow into the wax kind of like watching a roller coaster plummet downward, then head back up from a side view.

    If you are doing this correctly you will be leading an end in and at the same rate that you will be pulling it out. Slow your pulling rate if the wax doesn't appear to be setting/drying quick enough. The last 4-5 inches of the pull you will probably be standing with one arm raised in the way in the air. Helping with this I have been known to set my tool box next to me (It can hold my weight easily) or a small step ladder for the final bit. Just before the last 6-10 inches come out of the wax I step up, dropping the coat hanger part that is at the un-dipped end. This, of course, depends on the length of your chain, your height and the length of your arm. If you are 3 foot 2 inches tall and are doing a chain off a tandem or similar... Well, you have waxing issues that need to be addressed outside of this posting.

    In closing, I have been waxing since 1989, but that doesn't in any way mean that I am closed to new methods. So I ask, "Are there any other chain waxers that have ideas to share with this middle-aged coot and the rest of the inquiring minds out here in forum-land?"
     
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  2. graphixgeek

    graphixgeek New Member

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    I wish I had the time to wax my chain...maybe when summer vacation rolls around. I have been wanting to subject the ol' commuter's chain to the wax treatment....
     
  3. kdelong

    kdelong Well-Known Member

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    I am glad to see that I am not the only "waxer" left out there. The only difference is that I use an old electric frying pan instead of a double boiler. Since the heating coil is fully enclosed and thermostat controlled, I don't think that there is any reasonable chance of the wax catching fire. My only concern with the double boiler method is that the wax may not reach a high enough temperature to flow as well as it should. A real oldtimer told me years ago that the optimum temperature would be above 400 degrees.
     
  4. autom8ed

    autom8ed New Member

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    When i used to wax my motorcycle chain, i would simply ride for a few miles and spray on the wax while the chain was still warm from the ride.. then ride again to spread and set.

    I stopped using wax in general because for me it tends to attract and hold dirt a lot more than simply keeping the chain clean (degreased).. and was aesthetically unpleasant. Perhaps it was the spray wax, but i didn't know of any other method at the time.. Is there a big difference between the modern can of spray wax vs. the method u just described?
     
  5. kdelong

    kdelong Well-Known Member

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    I can't really say as I never used spray wax. I always buy solid blocks of parrafin wax and melt them as mentioned above. Spray wax would have to have some sort of carrier and liquifier to be sprayed, and these chemicals are probably what attracted the dirt. Using the methods above will give you a well lubricated bicycle chain that will not attract any dirt. I cannot address the motorcycle issue, no experience. You will notice little white flakes the first couple of times that you ride but that is just dried wax coming off. It won't hurt anything.

    My personal experience with wax is that there is less chain maintenance and it seemed to increase the lifespan of the chain. I used to get about 2000 miles out of my unwaxed chains versus 2500 miles out of my waxed chains. This might also be explained as being due to advances in chain technology since I have been waxing my chains for nearly 30 years.
     
  6. graphixgeek

    graphixgeek New Member

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    For now I am relegated to using drip wax-type lubricants like White Lightning...[​IMG]
     
  7. vadiver

    vadiver New Member

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    How often do you do this proceedure?

    If you have not put oil on your chain, where does the grease come from that you need to degrease?
     
  8. kdelong

    kdelong Well-Known Member

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    I normally only need to do it about twice a year, about 1200 miles in my riding schedule. The degreaser dissolves any old wax and dirt that may have accumulated since the last wax treatment.
     
  9. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    Well, judging by your results, I'd say waxing sucks. My last chain, a Campy C10, went over 5000 miles, using my ProLink tx every 200 miles or so, and the only reason I got rid of it was because I was changing to a KMC X10SL chain. The Campy chain showed almost no wear when checked against a steel rule. You should get much greater than 2500 miles out of a chain.
     
  10. Retro Grouch

    Retro Grouch New Member

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    Hmmm - A stolen toothbrush, a bubbling pot, a bent coat hanger wand, and a strange rubric for holding the chain; is there an incantation that goes with that process?
     
  11. CJ Smith

    CJ Smith New Member

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    Oh I didn't mention the cult haircut, the 5 sided tattoos and burning midgets strapped to an inverted titanium cross, did I? I usually forget those tidbits. My most heart felt apologies! Now where the heck is my "canister of freeze-dried Eye of Newt (the amphibian not Gingrich)"


    A sailor's wife had chesnuts in her lap
    And mounched and mounched and mounched
    Give me, quoth I.
    "Anoint thee witch!" The rump fed runyon cries
    Her husband to Aleppo gone, master o' the "tiger";
    But in a sieve I'll thither sail
    And like a rat without a tail
    I'll do, I'll do and I'll do.
    - Macbeth - Act I, Scene II
     
  12. garage sale GT

    garage sale GT New Member

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    The liquefied wax products dry up as dry as a candle. However, I have tried two brands and find they start to squeak in a hundred miles or so. They require frequent renewal. Much more so if you are caught out in the rain.
     
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