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First Time Chain Waxer Calling on Chain Waxing Gurus

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First Time Chain Waxer Calling on Chain Waxing Gurus

Old 07-20-21, 05:53 PM
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SoSmellyAir
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First Time Chain Waxer Calling on Chain Waxing Gurus

I waxed my chain for the first time yesterday and installed it today, and had to re-index my rear derailleur because the chain would not shift from the 3rd to the 4th physically largest cog. I am hoping that this is a one time event and not something I would have to do every time I install a freshly waxed chain.

The chain is a Shimano Ultegra 11 speed chain, with around 300 miles on the factory grease, then mild cleaning with Dawn dish detergent and a Sonicare toothbrush, then rinsed, dried, lubed with Rock N Roll Extreme, and ridden for about 100 miles, all in absolutely dry conditions. The chain (including the quick link) was then cleaned by immersion and shaking in acetone 4 times, including an immersion overnight, and dipped into melted Gulf paraffin wax at 210 *F in a covered Crock Pot on low setting, swished a few times during the first 30 minutes to release all air bubbles. The chain stayed in the Crock Pot for over 2 hours, and chain was measured at 210 *F to confirm that it has reached the equilibrium temperature. The chain was swished a couple more times, then the Crock Pot was turned off and the chain was removed after about 10 minutes and hung to drip; I did not wipe the chain as I was removing it from the wax. The chain was stiff with wax so I ran it around a breaker bar to loosen it and shed the biggest wax chunks prior to installing it onto the bike.

Am I doing something wrong? Thank you.
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Old 07-20-21, 06:39 PM
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sounds like you're doing it exactly right

but what a giant pain in the arse. I was into waxing for a couple of years and realized with a quick link I can remove the chain any time I want, clean it, and re-lube it without a a crock pot. I think NFS is a great lube product and I absolutely never ever miss waxing. I do love a clean chain though.

Last edited by eflayer; 07-22-21 at 07:45 PM.
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Old 07-20-21, 06:43 PM
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I don’t know if your doing something wrong. I recently waxed a new 105 chain and put 178 miles on it so far. Hopefully the adjustment wasn’t related to changing lubrication method.
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Old 07-20-21, 07:33 PM
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I think you are leaving too much wax on the chain. I hang the chain on a hook and wipe off all the exterior wax with a rag while the chain is still hot.
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Old 07-20-21, 07:58 PM
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When was it doing this - well in to your first ride?

Even after you break the chain, after cooling, it's still going to be a little stiff and the shifting may be a little off/sluggish. This usually only lasts a few minutes. No adjustments should be made to the derailleurs.
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Old 07-20-21, 08:19 PM
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Originally Posted by kingston View Post
I think you are leaving too much wax on the chain. I hang the chain on a hook and wipe off all the exterior wax with a rag while the chain is still hot.
Thanks for the tip, I will try this the next time.
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Old 07-20-21, 08:21 PM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
When was it doing this - well in to your first ride?
No, the issue happened when the bike was mounted on the work stand.

Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
Even after you break the chain, after cooling, it's still going to be a little stiff and the shifting may be a little off/sluggish. This usually only lasts a few minutes. No adjustments should be made to the derailleurs.
Thank you. I will keep that in mind for the next time.
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Old 07-20-21, 08:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Ghazmh View Post
I donít know if your doing something wrong. I recently waxed a new 105 chain and put 178 miles on it so far. Hopefully the adjustment wasnít related to changing lubrication method.
I hope so too. I will see next time.
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Old 07-20-21, 08:27 PM
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After a first test ride of only 23 miles, the chain and drivetrain are much dirtier looking than expected, but at least nowhere as greasy as with lube. I suppose the 4x acetone wash did not clean the chain sufficiently. We will see how many miles before I have to wax the chain again.
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Old 07-20-21, 09:26 PM
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might I suggest Squirt lube....much, much, much easier that all of what you went through.
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Old 07-20-21, 09:43 PM
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Originally Posted by jaxgtr View Post
might I suggest Squirt lube....much, much, much easier that all of what you went through.
Really? I understand Squirt is similar to Smoove, for which Zero Friction Cycling has very daunting application instructions, including similarly stringent cleaning steps:

Smoove-Advanced-Guide.pdf (zerofrictioncycling.com.au)

You are saying it is much simpler in practice?
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Old 07-20-21, 09:54 PM
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Use a chain oil on the connecting link.
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Old 07-20-21, 09:57 PM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir View Post
Really? I understand Squirt is similar to Smoove, for which Zero Friction Cycling has very daunting application instructions, including similarly stringent cleaning steps:

Smoove-Advanced-Guide.pdf (zerofrictioncycling.com.au)

You are saying it is much simpler in practice?
Loads simpler. You just need to make sure all the factory or oil based lube is gone, then apply this stuff. Reapply every 300 miles give or take, if you get caught in the rain, just check it to make sure if you need to reapply. Can't be any easier that. No crock pot needed. The initial cleaning was the most effort, took a few trips through the de greaser and a little scrubbing, but once I got through that, and you apply squirt, when I need to reapply, I can just wipe it down with a rag and reapply. No muss no fuss. After you do the initial cleaning a trip through some denatured alcohol is a good thing as well. Dries off very quickly.
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Last edited by jaxgtr; 07-20-21 at 10:04 PM.
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Old 07-20-21, 10:03 PM
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Never used smoove, but that seems a little excessive based on that link.
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Old 07-20-21, 10:04 PM
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The tricky bit to waxing is completely stripping the original lube. That's why some folks resort to risky stuff like gasoline as a solvent. (Please don't do that.) Others use ultrasonic cleaners with safer (read: non-combustible/flammable) solvents.

Last year I misplaced my waxing setup. Had to clear out my apartment temporarily on short notice so they could install new flooring. Never could find my waxing setup, crock pot, etc. Probably buried under a stack of boxes in the closet.

So I tried Rock 'n' Roll Absolute Dry and Gold. Reportedly both use naphtha and PTFE powder ("Teflon"), with Gold adding a bit of light oil lube. Both run very slick and reasonably clean, even the Gold despite the addition of a bit of oil. The Gold lasts longer per application and runs quieter. So I've stayed with RnR Gold for more than a year.

I don't use RnR lubes as they recommend. Instead of pouring it on liberally, I use a needle dropper and apply about a dozen drops randomly just before every ride, starting with a clean but not degreased chain. Eventually it distributes to the entire chain. So far, so good. Applying it as RnR suggests will go through a bottle very quickly and can get expensive.

My only gripe about wax was it never lasted long per applications. One or two rides and the chain would sound jangly again. While chain noise isn't necessarily a good indication of friction, it was hard to tell when the chain needed to be rewaxed. I usually rotated two or three identical chains every 200-400 miles or so, depending on weather, noise and whim.

Last year I bought some powdered PTFE (took a few weeks to ship from China). I plan to try homebrewing my own "dry" lube using PTFE in solvent. I doubt it'll be any better than RnR Absolute Dry or Gold, but might be a little cheaper.
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Old 07-20-21, 10:07 PM
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Originally Posted by jaxgtr View Post
Loads simpler. You just need to make sure all the factory or oil based lube is gone, then apply this stuff. Reapply every 300 miles give or take, if you get caught in the rain, just check it to make sure if you need to reapply. Can't be any easier that. No crock pot needed. The initial cleaning was the most effort, took a few trips through the de greaser and a little scrubbing, but once I got through that, and you apply squirt, when I need to reapply, I can just wipe it down with a rag and reapply. No muss no fuss. After you do the initial cleaning a trip through some denatured alcohol is a good thing as well. Dries off very quickly.
I don't find the crock pot part difficult. It is the deep cleaning part to remove factory grease and prior oil-based lube that I seem unable to manage.

Last edited by SoSmellyAir; 07-20-21 at 10:13 PM.
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Old 07-20-21, 10:12 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
The tricky bit to waxing is completely stripping the original lube.
This is the part I am not accomplishing.

Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
So I tried Rock 'n' Roll Absolute Dry and Gold. Reportedly both use naphtha and PTFE powder ("Teflon"), with Gold adding a bit of light oil lube. Both run very slick and reasonably clean, even the Gold despite the addition of a bit of oil. The Gold lasts longer per application and runs quieter. So I've stayed with RnR Gold for more than a year.

I don't use RnR lubes as they recommend. Instead of pouring it on liberally, I use a needle dropper and apply about a dozen drops randomly just before every ride, starting with a clean but not degreased chain. Eventually it distributes to the entire chain. So far, so good. Applying it as RnR suggests will go through a bottle very quickly and can get expensive.
There is a low VOC version for California so I doubt that the solvent is naphtha, given that naphtha is not available as a solvent at any of the home improvement stores. I used Rock N Roll Extreme before and applied only a drop per chain roller, both preceded and followed by backpedaling and wiping. Within a 100 to 150 miles the chain would develop the greasing black paste, which is why I want to try waxing. If waxing does not work out I will probably switch to Rock N Roll Gold.
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Old 07-20-21, 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir View Post
I don't find the crock pot part difficult. It is the deep cleaning part that I seem unable to manage.
Initial cleaning can be a pain, but I usually just soak the chain in a citrus based de-greaser you can get practically anywhere, I pick mine up at home depot. It helps break it down over night. Then I use a 5 gallon bucket and add some new de-greaser and scrub the chain with a small stiff bristle brush....swash it around the bucket, let it sit for a while, scrub it up again and the rinse with some clean water. If it still feels tacky, use the bush again. Maybe leave it overnight in the stuff again and repeat. Should be clean after that...rinse with water, dry with a towel, submerge in some denatured alcohol for 5 or 10 mins, pull it out, wipe it down and let it hang to dry. Should be dry in about 10 to 20 mins. I typically do all of this in my garage, and have a fan blowing on it.

Once the chain is dry, put it back on the bike, put a drop per roller, let it dry for 20 mins, repeat. Let it dry over night, you are ready to ride. When it is time to reapply after 300 miles or so, grab a clean cloth, wipe the chain, add a single application of Squirt. and you are good. There have been times where I only needed to apply around 500 miles, so it depends on the conditions, did you get caught in the rain, etc. Once you get the feel for it, you know when you need to reapply.
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Old 07-20-21, 10:32 PM
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Originally Posted by jaxgtr View Post
Initial cleaning can be a pain, but I usually just soak the chain in a citrus based de-greaser you can get practically anywhere, I pick mine up at home depot. It helps break it down over night.
Last time I put my bike chain in straight Purple Power degreaser, put it on top of the laundry machine to agitate, then left it overnight. The chain was pretty clean, but then it had a broken link fairly soon afterwards due to hydrogen embrittlement. So I am a little wary of using a citrus degreaser on a bike chain.
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Old 07-21-21, 12:57 AM
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I didn't have good luck with Squirt, and I have reason to believe ZFC when they say it's actually not that great unless you can work it into the chain, which takes a very long time. My experience was with a new chain that I thought I cleaned thoroughly with OMS and denatured alcohol, but with Squirt the chain gunked up after every ride and was noisy within 50 km despite repeated application (nearly the entire bottle). I have a lot less fuss using NFS, but now I'm trying Silca's new wet lube because I also have no confidence that a wax-based lube works for me without a pristine new chain.
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Old 07-21-21, 05:46 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
I don't use RnR lubes as they recommend. Instead of pouring it on liberally, I use a needle dropper and apply about a dozen drops randomly just before every ride, starting with a clean but not degreased chain. Eventually it distributes to the entire chain. So far, so good. Applying it as RnR suggests will go through a bottle very quickly and can get expensive.
The issue that I think might exist (if you believe RnR's marketing), is that the liberal dousing with their lube, puts enough liquid on the chain to flush and carry out any grime inside. Sporadic drops will get into the chain, but you lose the self-cleaning aspect. OTOH, I suppose you could remove the chain once in a while, and do an OMS clean in a shaker bottle instead.
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Old 07-21-21, 06:08 AM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir View Post
I waxed my chain for the first time yesterday and installed it today, and had to re-index my rear derailleur because the chain would not shift from the 3rd to the 4th physically largest cog. I am hoping that this is a one time event and not something I would have to do every time I install a freshly waxed chain.

The chain is a Shimano Ultegra 11 speed chain, with around 300 miles on the factory grease, then mild cleaning with Dawn dish detergent and a Sonicare toothbrush, then rinsed, dried, lubed with Rock N Roll Extreme, and ridden for about 100 miles, all in absolutely dry conditions. The chain (including the quick link) was then cleaned by immersion and shaking in acetone 4 times, including an immersion overnight, and dipped into melted Gulf paraffin wax at 210 *F in a covered Crock Pot on low setting, swished a few times during the first 30 minutes to release all air bubbles. The chain stayed in the Crock Pot for over 2 hours, and chain was measured at 210 *F to confirm that it has reached the equilibrium temperature. The chain was swished a couple more times, then the Crock Pot was turned off and the chain was removed after about 10 minutes and hung to drip; I did not wipe the chain as I was removing it from the wax. The chain was stiff with wax so I ran it around a breaker bar to loosen it and shed the biggest wax chunks prior to installing it onto the bike.

Am I doing something wrong? Thank you.
Why are you leaving the chain in the wax for two hours? I have 3 chains for each of two bikes so wax 5 or 6 chains at a time. I hook the chain with a bent coat hanger, immerse it in the wax while swishing it around a little, wait for the bubbles to stop and pull the chain out. I wipe the chain with a shop towel while pulling it out and the hang it to dry. I donít know about acetone, I just use mineral spirits for the initial cleaning. A little oil residue on the chain will dissolve in the hot wax so no need to have it perfectly clean.
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Old 07-21-21, 06:16 AM
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Can't buy a gallon of Coleman Fuel in California? Now, I understand the campfire cooking on the Pacific Crest trail.

The best way to get rid of the factory lube is to first ultrasonic it with Simple green, water. Then, one or two soaks in wide mouth plastic juice bottle filled with white gas aka naptha or Coleman fuel. I shake and then let it sit. I let it dry. I start up the crockpot. Put the chain in there for an hour or two. Getting the wax into the chain links and pins is not that easy. When I remove it, I lay it flat and "blow dry" off the excessive wax pin by pin using a heat gun on a lower setting. After 200-250 miles, I will apply Smoove or Squirt, to each roller and pin. After around 5-700 miles and if the chain is not dirty, it is removed and put directly into the molten wax. I rarely strip it again.
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Old 07-21-21, 06:19 AM
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
Why are you leaving the chain in the wax for two hours?...
I put the chain on top of the cold hard wax when I turn the crock pot on low and come back later to fish it out. There's really no reason not to leave it in there for a while so the wax has a chance to get into all the pins and rollers. A hot chain also makes it easier to wipe off the excess wax.
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Old 07-21-21, 06:30 AM
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Originally Posted by kingston View Post
I put the chain on top of the cold hard wax when I turn the crock pot on low and come back later to fish it out. There's really no reason not to leave it in there for a while so the wax has a chance to get into all the pins and rollers. A hot chain also makes it easier to wipe off the excess wax.
That doesnít work so well when youíre doing multiple chains. With hot liquid wax it gets into all the pins very quickly. Any moisture on the chain quickly boils off and any residual oil dissolves in the wax.
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