Homebrew lube 101: a couple questions
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  1. #1

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    Homebrew lube 101: a couple questions

    So I did a search on the formula for brew chain lube. The consensus is a 3-1 to 4-1 mix of mineral spirts to motor oil. The only question I have are:

    1. Why do most people prefer synthetic motor oil? I can't imagine it making a difference on a bike chain after about 10 hours (150 miles) of riding.

    2. What weight motor oil and why. If it doesn't matter, I'll just use what I got in the garage (10W-40).

    I know the home brew issue has been done to death here, but I don't believe these questions were answered.

    Thanks for your patience on this boring topic.

  2. #2
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    cause it's cheap and better...

    Sure you can use ordinary motor oil, but synthetic oil is only $4 a quart and mixed with a gallon of mineral spirits, makes 160 ounces of lube for $8.

    Synthetic oil can greatly reduce wear in an engine, so it certainly can't hurt to use it on a chain. FWIW, since I increased my lube applications to after almost every ride, my chain wear seems to be lower than ever. It's scarcely measureable after 3000 miles. A lot folks are tossing chains at that mileage.

  3. #3
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    synthetic oil

    Synthetic oil is man-made, has equal sized molecules, natural oil does not. I don't understand why syn oil is better. You can compare and see if there's a difference.

  4. #4

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    Once you guys make your own chain lube what do you put it in to apply it to the chain? I was almost considering cimply dipping a sparkling clean (acetone does wonders) chain into the solution, leaving it for a short amount of time, hanging to dry and wiping off the excess. Seems like this would lube the parts that need it and reduce build up. What do ya think?

    Justin

  5. #5

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    I was hoping to avoid a trip to Target.

    Quote Originally Posted by C-40
    Sure you can use ordinary motor oil, but synthetic oil is only $4 a quart and mixed with a gallon of mineral spirits, makes 160 ounces of lube for $8.

    Synthetic oil can greatly reduce wear in an engine, so it certainly can't hurt to use it on a chain. FWIW, since I increased my lube applications to after almost every ride, my chain wear seems to be lower than ever. It's scarcely measureable after 3000 miles. A lot folks are tossing chains at that mileage.
    Alright, I'll buy the syn oil. But does it matter what weight I use?

    Thanks, C-40.

  6. #6
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    down the page...

    The link below covers it all, including a good application technique. To clean a chain, I use three old water bottles. One holds old solvent (mineral spirits not acetone) to allow the dirt to settle to the bottom. When I need to clean a chain, I pour about 3/4 of the solvent into a second water bottle, drop in the chain and shake well. Pour the used solvent back into the old solvent container. Mix hot water and Dawn in a third bottle, drop in the chain and shake well. Pour out the soapy water and refill with hot water for a final rinse. I finish up with a WD-40 spray to remove the water, and usually relube the next day, although the WD-40 is a good enough lube for one ride (it's about 30% oil).

    http://forums.roadbikereview.com/showthread.php?t=26336

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by NoMSG
    Alright, I'll buy the syn oil. But does it matter what weight I use?
    It doesn't matter really. I found some Mobil 1 gear oil in the shop and have been using that lately with good results. Just cut it a little with thinner and you are good to go regardless of which type of oil you use.

    My cleaning technique is a little simpler than C40's. Used solvent is stored in an old gas can with a tight lid. Heavy sludge settles to the bottom which allows clean solvent to be poured off into a bottle for reuse again and again.

    - Shake the chain in a plastic water bottle full of solvent

    - Dump out solvent and remove chain from bottle

    - Small splash of clean solvent in the bottle and swish around to get the grit out.

    - Chain back in bottle for a second rinse with solvent. At this point the chain is fairly clean. I let is soak for 15 min. or so if I have time.

    - Remove chain, wipe off with rag and hang up to dry - takes about 15 min. or so.

    - Reinstall chain and lube as always.

    The water rinse is not needed in my opinion.

    Like C40, my chains show almost no wear after several thousand miles. I'm not a big guy however which does matter as far as wear is concern.

    As a side note, a good friend of mine is a big strong sprinter type what really tears up chains and sprokets. He turned some nice 7700 series Dura Ace chainrings to junk in only one season. Lube is important for lasting performance but if you mash, you will still tear stuff up.

    Ed

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by XCGEEK
    I was almost considering cimply dipping a sparkling clean (acetone does wonders) chain into the solution, leaving it for a short amount of time, hanging to dry and wiping off the excess.
    XC -- assuming you've got a conex link or power link, your proposal will work perfectly. It's what I do. Don't bother with the acetone step, though.... just put the chain in a can of homebrew after your ride. The paint thinner in the HB will do just as well as acetone in breaking down the bad stuff.

    Agree with C40 re chains lasting. I finally broke down and bought a chain checker and was shocked to see no measurable stretch on two chains that I normally would have considered aged.

  9. #9
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    my experience to date

    Quote Originally Posted by NoMSG
    So I did a search on the formula for brew chain lube. The consensus is a 3-1 to 4-1 mix of mineral spirts to motor oil. The only question I have are:

    1. Why do most people prefer synthetic motor oil? I can't imagine it making a difference on a bike chain after about 10 hours (150 miles) of riding.

    2. What weight motor oil and why. If it doesn't matter, I'll just use what I got in the garage (10W-40).

    I know the home brew issue has been done to death here, but I don't believe these questions were answered.

    Thanks for your patience on this boring topic.
    I use Mobil One synthetic 10/30w because that's what the original recipe called for that I tried and I am too lazy to switch. I imagine regular oil would be just fine but for as little as I use the cost difference is minimal. I doubt you could notice a difference between 10/30 and 10/40 but I have tested that thoery either. Perhaps someone could try testing various combos, but for now I just stick with what's worked in the past.

  10. #10
    Arrogant roadie.....
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    Don't use Dawn! Even a little bit of leftover detergent inside a link will destroy the lubrication properties of the oil.
    We are the 801
    We are the central shaft

  11. #11
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    nonsense...

    I always do a final rinse with hot water, then the WD-40 spray. There can't be any significant amoutn of soap left after that. It's not different than using a water soulble degreaser, rather than mineral spirits for the whole process.

    You're also wrong about the soap. The definition of grease:

    A lubricant composed of an oil or oils thickened with a soap, soaps or other thickener to a semisolid or solid consistency.

  12. #12
    Every little counts...
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    From a restaurant supply store, I buy a clear plastic squeeze bottle for condiments. Use a pin to mae a tiny hole in the top, do not clip the nozzle like a tube of caulking.

    Mark the bottle into quarters and fill the first with oil, the rest with spirits. Use a stick pin in the top to stop it from leaking when travelling.

    IMHO I find regular mineral spirits evaporate faster, drier, and cleaner than low-odour spirits.

  13. #13
    Call me a Fred
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    Quote Originally Posted by C-40
    I always do a final rinse with hot water, then the WD-40 spray. There can't be any significant amoutn of soap left after that. It's not different than using a water soulble degreaser, rather than mineral spirits for the whole process.

    You're also wrong about the soap. The definition of grease:

    A lubricant composed of an oil or oils thickened with a soap, soaps or other thickener to a semisolid or solid consistency.
    That is correct, unfortunately, Dawn is not a soap, it is a detergent. Detergents are a different chemical class than soaps. You can't make grease with detergents.
    Mike

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  14. #14
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    I'm no chemist...

    But I still say that the concern of residual "detergent" after a hot water rinse and WD-40 spray is silly, particularly since I often apply 4/1 mineral spirits and oil after all that.

  15. #15

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    nevermind I figured it out...forget it
    Last edited by moosryan; 04-10-2005 at 10:38 AM.

  16. #16

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    It does not matter

    On your chain oil is oil.

    People think it is better because it cost more.

    I think syn oil might not brake down as quick in a motor esp. when high heat is applied.

    Most of the homebrew people here are ritualistic.
    It makes them feel better as they are doing their voodoo magic on the chain with syn. Mobil 1 oil.

    It also gives them the High tech feeling because deep down inside they are smart enough to know they are using low cost money-ass lube.
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    Last edited by Florentine Pogen; 04-10-2005 at 12:13 PM.

  17. #17
    n00bsauce
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    I use 5W-30 and a 3:1 mix. 5 weight oil is thinner and I think it gets into the places it needs to be more readily. Probably the same as 10W and a 4:1 mix.
    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." Voltaire

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  18. #18

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    I'm a home brew convert

    OK...I have been using this for about a month now, and the chains on my bikes are the cleanest and quietest they have ever been.

    Let me know who thought it up so I can send them a check!
    So, if I understand this, I am a Clydesdale Fred who is a borderline poser? I thought I was just slow!

  19. #19
    SCW
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    Quote Originally Posted by cthomas
    OK...I have been using this for about a month now, and the chains on my bikes are the cleanest and quietest they have ever been.

    Let me know who thought it up so I can send them a check!
    That was me, and the bill is in the mail

  20. #20
    JP
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    Good Stuff

    Thanks for the homebrew info. Works great in Seattle area where everything is wet and dirty. I seem to like the mixture on the "oily" side. Really helpful.

  21. #21
    xxl
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florentine Pogen
    On your chain oil is oil.

    People think it is better because it cost more.

    I think syn oil might not brake down as quick in a motor esp. when high heat is applied.

    Most of the homebrew people here are ritualistic.
    It makes them feel better as they are doing their voodoo magic on the chain with syn. Mobil 1 oil.

    It also gives them the High tech feeling because deep down inside they are smart enough to know they are using low cost money-ass lube.
    Synthetic oils, like Mobil 1, often have PTFE additives, just like some of the OTC chain lubes. This drives up the cost a bit, and possibly performance in a car engine. On a bike chain, it's not really needed, since not even Cipolini generates that much high-speed friction. But, it can't hurt, and it doesn't cost much extra.

    I asked a relative of mine, a chemist who worked with "lubricant engineering" for Stauffer Chemical, about this years ago, when PTFE was being added to everything but Gatorade, and he told me that PTFE additives really did make things better, but the benefits would only be manifested at high speeds, such as in a motor bearing. Otherwise, it's overkill.

    I'm looking into purchasing vials of Eddy's blood, to be mixed into my homebrew....

  22. #22

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    Question

    Quote Originally Posted by C-40
    Sure you can use ordinary motor oil, but synthetic oil is only $4 a quart and mixed with a gallon of mineral spirits, makes 160 ounces of lube for $8.

    Synthetic oil can greatly reduce wear in an engine, so it certainly can't hurt to use it on a chain. FWIW, since I increased my lube applications to after almost every ride, my chain wear seems to be lower than ever. It's scarcely measureable after 3000 miles. A lot folks are tossing chains at that mileage.
    C-40, Question. Is this mixture of 1 quart oil to a gallon of mineral spirits exact or
    just a matter of convenience? Also, is your term "mineral spirirts" really mineral spirts
    or just paint thinner. I thought mineral spirts, paint thinner, lacquer thinner all have a
    low heat of vaporization which means they all slowly evaporate at room temp.
    Do you care to elaborate, I am looking to cook up my own undrinkable moonshine
    myself.
    ;)

  23. #23
    n00bsauce
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    Some use 4:1, some use 3:1. It's not exact. If you ride in wetter conditions maybe the 3:1 mixture would be better. Experiment and use what works best for you. That's the beauty of "homebrew". It's what you make it. Yes, "mineral spirits" means "mineral spirits". They may have some similar characteristics but mineral spirits works the best (I think it has the least amount of contaminants). I use the low odor variety while some prefer regular because they believe it evaporates faster. Whatever works for you.
    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." Voltaire

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    "We are all ignorant about most things."
    Mel Erickson

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