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How To Use Naphtha For Stripping Factory Lube From Chain?

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How To Use Naphtha For Stripping Factory Lube From Chain?

Old 07-18-21, 10:24 AM
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markfleener
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How To Use Naphtha For Stripping Factory Lube From Chain?

Can anyone advice on how to use naphtha to strip off the factory lube from a chain before waxing it?

I got a Wippermann Connex chain and Klean Strip VM&P Naphtha. Should i dilute the solvent at all with distilled water? How long should i soak the chain? Might there be any chance of causing damage if i soak too long?
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Old 07-18-21, 10:26 AM
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...Do i just air dry it afterwards before waxing?
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Old 07-18-21, 10:38 AM
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It's pointless to remove the factory lube and then re-apply your own lube all over again...Just leave the the factory lube on until it wears off.
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Old 07-18-21, 11:01 AM
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Hint-the only place the lube matters is on the INSIDE of the chain rollers. All it does on the exterior is splatter off and collect dust. Unfortunately, it's impossible to simply lube the interior parts.
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Old 07-18-21, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by markfleener View Post
Should i dilute the solvent at all with distilled water? How long should i soak the chain? Might there be any chance of causing damage if i soak too long?
Soaking a chain in water is one of the worst things you could do for it. I'd give the factory lube a few hundred miles to do its job before considering stripping it out.
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Old 07-18-21, 11:21 AM
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What Thermo said.

I try to get at least a 100 miles on a new chain before throwing it into clean white gas. It is surprising the small metal pieces that come off the chain (Dura Ace). I never used a Connex. It will air dry quickly in the outside sun. I just lay it on clean cardboard. Just turn the crock pot on. When the wax has melted (almost an hour for my cheapie crock), I throw the chain in. I let it in there for a long time.....around an hour. Probably too long, but I have no idea how long it takes for the wax to get inside and that is where it is needed.

Edit: One reason I don't go more than 100 miles and do not ride in nasty conditions on a new chain before the wax treatment is easy of stripping. If too dirty, I have to ultrasonic first and then two different dunks in white gas. I've used denatured alchol in there too. But the process I explained above in addition to keeping the chain lubed gets me 10,000 miles on my recumbent chain.....with less than half the wear tolerance. That is when I put a new one on.

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Old 07-18-21, 12:02 PM
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If you want to go down the waxing route you need to completely strip off 100% of all grease/oil that's been previously applied. To do this naphtha is excellent, as is mineral spirits. A screw top gatorade bottle or similar is great for this sort of thing. Put the chain inside along with some clean solvent and shake like hell. Shake, rest, shake some more, over the course of 15 mins or so and then dump out the solvent into a different bottle (for recycling.) Add more fresh solvent and continue, but this time allow the chain so soak overnight. Shake, soak, continue. Do this until you are positive all the old lube is removed. At that point pull out the chain and hang it to dry out for several hours in the sun. After it's properly dry then you can go ahead with the wax treatment.
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Old 07-18-21, 01:02 PM
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A chemistry lesson for those who slept through, failed, or never took chemistry in their life:
Naptha is an old name for a hydrocarbon mixture made these days from petroleum. It is the same as paint thinner sold in stores today. It does not mix with water so do not use a mixture of water and naptha to clean your chain. Lubricants are long chain hydrocarbons so they dissolve easily in naptha or any other more volatile hydrocarbons. They do not dissolve in water readily unless you use a very strong soap solution, I've used cheap degreaser from the dollar store to clean chains followed by rinsing the chain with water and using pressurized air to blow out the crap. It removes a lot of grit and the lubricant. Hang it out to dry in the sun. I don't like the exposure to flammable solvents if I can help it.
Skip the use of denatured alcohol. It's expensive and a very poor solvent for hydrocarbons so doesn't work well on grease.
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Old 07-18-21, 03:10 PM
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Anyone clean their chains in an ultrasonic cleaner? If so, do you use degreaser or naphtha or what? Do you put it in a zip lock to reduce the amount used, filling the rest with water, or do you fill the whole cleaner with whatever you use?
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Old 07-18-21, 04:34 PM
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I clean mine with degreaser before rewaxing only because I have it on hand. It does take longer to dry than using paint thinner and you definitely want to make sure it's dry before you wax. Not just dry on the outside.
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Old 07-18-21, 05:56 PM
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Originally Posted by MattTheHat View Post
Anyone clean their chains in an ultrasonic cleaner? If so, do you use degreaser or naphtha or what? Do you put it in a zip lock to reduce the amount used, filling the rest with water, or do you fill the whole cleaner with whatever you use?
Use a small USC machine & fill it just above the min line which submerses the chain fully in a WD40/Bugoff window washing fluid concoction. Few bristle brush attempts with a few cycles in the USC machine gets it clean enough.
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Old 07-18-21, 10:51 PM
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I use a Chinese ultrasound set the temp to 30C. I use OMS which I guess is naptha, then paint thinner, then denatured alcohol. About 10 min each. Comes out squeaky clean. Then throw it in my wax crock pot at 190-200F. Got this from the friction facts / ceramic speed guy.

The ultrsound is also good for general cleaning using OMS.

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Old 07-19-21, 06:16 AM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
It's pointless to remove the factory lube and then re-apply your own lube all over again...Just leave the the factory lube on until it wears off.
IME factory grease attracts road grime like s*** to a blanket. If you are going to use a wax lube then the grease has to be completely removed. If you ride first with the factory grease you just end up with a drivetrain full of grinding paste.
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Old 07-19-21, 06:40 AM
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It doesn’t have to be complicated and you don’t need an ultrasonic cleaner to remove lube from a chain. Put some mineral spirits in a can, add the chain and swish around for a minute. Pull the chain, dry with a paper towel and see if it feels clean. If there is still some residue repeat with clean fluid. Save the old fluid for next time in a glass jar. Any contaminants will sink to the bottom of the jar. If there’s a little oil left on the chain it will mix with the hot wax, another petroleum product.
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Old 07-19-21, 07:06 AM
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Think of the (minimal) factory lube as your secret sauce.

What do I mean by that? Every "wax your chain" advocate adds something, often more than one extra item, to the paraffin (Gulf Wax) for better adhesion, additional lubrication, longer application life, etc. Teflon beads, moly disulfide, even transmission oil are some of the favorites.

So open your new chain package, lay it on top of the paraffin bricks, and heat it up. Leave it in an extra 15-30 minutes after it melts for the paraffin to penetrate the crevices and mix with the factory lube. Install and ride. If there's a problem with the application, then you can start adding other secret sauce ingredients on the next waxing.
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Old 07-19-21, 11:17 AM
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The idea of Naphtha, which is also used as lighter fluid, in an ultrasonic, with heat, just gives me the heebie-jeebies. It's already really volatile, and flammable, at room temp without heating and vaporizing it with the cavitation of an ultrasonic unit. I use Naphtha for last minute cleaning when reassembling mechanical watches, like if I accidentally get oil somewhere it absolutely shouldn't be, because it dries really fast (volatile).

Mineral Spirits, aka Stoddards Solvent, is similar to Naphtha, but the hydrocarbon chains are longer, so it's less volatile, while still working just as well as a solvent. Most cleaning solutions for watchmaking are based on Stoddards Solvent, because it will strip off oils and leave the surface completely clean once dried, but it won't fill the air with hydrocarbon vapors.
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Old 07-19-21, 12:29 PM
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Because the California Air Resource Board (CARB) has banned many organic solvents, I am using acetone instead of odorless mineral spirits. I also have 70% isopropyl alcohol; should I do a final wash and rinse in that before I dip the chain into the wax?
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Old 07-19-21, 12:57 PM
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Naptha is not the same solvent as "Paint Thinner" in the Home Depot. Naptha/Coleman Fuel/White Gas/Light Fluid are all one in the same, basically, with different minor additives. Paint Thinner and Mineral Spirits are not the same solvent as naptha.

+1 for running chain first to "break it in". My experience has been to run the chain new for about 100 miles then strip. Naptha will work as will mineral spirits. Personally I use mineral spirits or orange cleaner.

I then diverge from the norm. Melted wax doesn't really "creep" into the roller bearings very well. It needs something else to do that. I shave about 3/4 of a bar of Gulf Wax (paraffin in the grocery store and used for "canning") into a quart Mason jar and let it dissolve. I then soak the chain in that overnight. I hang the chain to dry thoroughly for a couple days and then wax the chain in molten wax or hit it with my favorite, Squirt lube.

What the first treatment does is disperse wax into every nook and cranny of the rollers and then the naptha evaporates leaving behind the wax.


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Old 07-19-21, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir View Post
Because the California Air Resource Board (CARB) has banned many organic solvents, I am using acetone instead of odorless mineral spirits. I also have 70% isopropyl alcohol; should I do a final wash and rinse in that before I dip the chain into the wax?
I can't think of a reason to rinse in isopropanol, especially 70%. What are you expecting to accomplish with it?

I ask that, because among amateur watch repairers, you'll often see novices asking about rinsing in isopropanol after having cleaned the parts in mineral spirits. It just seems to be something people think it needs, but they can't identify what they think it will remove that hasn't already been removed. It doesn't really add anything to the cleaning process, as far as I can tell, beyond putting water back into the equation. The mineral spirits should have removed all the oil/grease, and when dried should leave the chain completely clean.
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Old 07-19-21, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
I can't think of a reason to rinse in isopropanol, especially 70%. What are you expecting to accomplish with it?

I ask that, because among amateur watch repairers, you'll often see novices asking about rinsing in isopropanol after having cleaned the parts in mineral spirits. It just seems to be something people think it needs, but they can't identify what they think it will remove that hasn't already been removed. It doesn't really add anything to the cleaning process, as far as I can tell, beyond putting water back into the equation. The mineral spirits should have removed all the oil/grease, and when dried should leave the chain completely clean.
Neither can I, but various instructions mention either denatured alcohol or isopropyl alcohol after odorless mineral spirits, which I cannot buy.
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Old 07-19-21, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by drlogik View Post
Naptha is not the same solvent as "Paint Thinner" in the Home Depot.
In some other states it could be but certainly not in California.
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Old 07-19-21, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir View Post
In some other states it could be but certainly not in California.
To the best of my knowledge, you can't even buy VM&P Naphtha here. You can still buy Ronsonol, which is Naphtha and it's what I use on the bench for those last minute cleaning tasks, but of course it's in a small bottle that doesn't hold enough to do a chain. But mineral spirits can still be had at the local Home Depot.

"Paint Thinner" could be lots of things, since it describes a use, rather than a composition, so I stick with the mineral spirits.
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Old 07-19-21, 01:37 PM
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In some other states it could be but certainly not in California.
Yeah, could be. California has much tighter restriction on VOC's than other States. Here in NC we can buy just about anything...including Toluene, MEK, etc.
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Old 07-19-21, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
You can still buy Ronsonol, which is Naphtha and it's what I use on the bench for those last minute cleaning tasks, but of course it's in a small bottle that doesn't hold enough to do a chain.
That is basically the lighter fluid for Zippo lighters, right? Given how volatile it is, I would probably need to buy 10 cans to soak a chain.

Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
But mineral spirits can still be had at the local Home Depot.
Although HomeDepot.com lists the CARB version as being in stock, it is unfortunately not for sale anywhere in the South Coast Air Quality Management District. I discovered this yesterday at the third Home Depot I visited.
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Old 07-19-21, 01:46 PM
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Naptha/Ronsonol is a pretty harsh and violently flammable solvent to clean a chain. I love the stuff but would never use it in open air. Just too darn dangerous. Since it's difficult to source in California, I'd opt for Mineral Spirits. Much less flammable and probably just as effective for the purpose.
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