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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Home Brew chain lube - Why dilute synthetic motor oil with mineral spirits? Why not just use it straight? I can see dissolving regular motor oil because it's thick but synthetic just pours right out. It would seem to me if you put it in a squirt bottle or can, when you put a drop on the link, it will seep down into the link. I don't see why it would need to be thinned. When it is thinned, it has a greater chance of running out and being thrown off when riding. And in the winter time we all keep our bikes inside, either a garage or the house, and if necessary, keep the synthetic oil inside the laundry or furnace room in a small squeeze bottle. I'm going to be using a small shampoo or hand lotion bottle for application.

I have left synthetic oil outside in 20 degrees, and it pours into the car like it was summer. I have not noticed any difference in viscosity between different viscosity's in the winter time. Synthetic oil has been around since the 30's and is used extensively in the northern cold climates.

I'm going to start using straight synthetic oil and probably put it on every couple hundred miles without cleaning the chain and then periodically I'll clean the chain and see how dirty the chain is by draining the cleaner through a paper towel. I might after awhile, try some diluted with kerosene, then filter through a paper towel, and see which way regularly looks cleaner. When I clean the chain, I use a stiff parts brush over a 1/2 gallon empty milk/juice carton with some thinner/kerosene in it. I do this three times as the solvent comes out cleaner each time.
 

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Simple answers

lawrence said:
Home Brew chain lube - Why dilute synthetic motor oil with mineral spirits? Why not just use it straight? I can see dissolving regular motor oil because it's thick but synthetic just pours right out. It would seem to me if you put it in a squirt bottle or can, when you put a drop on the link, it will seep down into the link. I don't see why it would neet to be thinned. When it is thinned, it has a greater chance of running out and being thrown off when riding.
First, the "full strength" of undiluted motor oil is hard to wipe off your chain, so your chain will become a dirt magnet if you lube with plain oil. Second, straight oil is not NEARLY as thin as home brew, so it is more difficult to get it into every nook and cranny. Third, it will not displace and dissolve the crud in your chain so it doesn't do any cleaning tasks. Finally, your argument about "running out and being thrown off" is nonsense - you want to flush the chain and have the lube run off, as that is part of the cleaning process, and once the solvent evaporates, all that is left behind is the oil, and that oil is no thinner than the oil you started with and so won't be thrown off.

Other than these points, your proposal is just fine. :)
 

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I have been using motor oil without diluting...

... and have had no problems so far....

I went to the auto shop, shook different bottles of motorcycle engine oil to find the sloshiest(least viscous) oil, bought it and applied it direct to my chain. I really apply LOTS of the stuff that it just drips off the chain with all the dirt together. The oil seems less thick as compared to my Finish Line Wet lube and hence I did not bother to dilute it. It will go into the rollers if you let it soak overnight and back pedal the bike in the stand abit...

And btw, wat does the SAE ratings on the oil mean?... Mine is SAE 15W50...
 

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I just use 1 part full synthetic Zero wieght motor to 3 parts mineral spirits. I wipe the chain a few times pour some lube on my fingers and work in it along the chain. let it sit until I need the bike and wipe off. My drivetrain stays fairly clean and its cheap, so thats onless overpriced bicycle item to get.

Applying lube with your fingers keeps more of the lube to the outside of the chain and to the chain plates rather than puring it over the top making it hard to remove excess oil. in the center of the chain
 

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kpcw said:
To anyone who wants to disagree with Kerry Irons on this...really, why be so silly. THE MAN is to bikes what Bruce Lee was to the Green Hornet. Listen to him and do as he suggests or not, but he is right.
LMAO.....:D
 

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Vinokourov said:
... and have had no problems so far....

I went to the auto shop, shook different bottles of motorcycle engine oil to find the sloshiest(least viscous) oil, bought it and applied it direct to my chain. I really apply LOTS of the stuff that it just drips off the chain with all the dirt together. The oil seems less thick as compared to my Finish Line Wet lube and hence I did not bother to dilute it. It will go into the rollers if you let it soak overnight and back pedal the bike in the stand abit...

And btw, wat does the SAE ratings on the oil mean?... Mine is SAE 15W50...
society of automotive engineers (SAE).. they developed this rating to tell you the viscosity. 15 is the cold viscoisty, 50 being the hot (yeah, it gets thicker as it gets hotter)..

a 15w-50 is quite thick, i dilute 5w-30 synth down into 3 parts of spirits. seriously, try it - got nothing to lose, mineral turpentine is cheap and useful to have around... your oil will also go further and will attract dirt less... At least thinner is better in my conditions, it is reasonably dusty where i ride... i've always noticed a thicker mix gets the chain dirty much quicker.
 

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interesting...

wankski said:
society of automotive engineers (SAE).. they developed this rating to tell you the viscosity. 15 is the cold viscoisty, 50 being the hot (yeah, it gets thicker as it gets hotter)..

a 15w-50 is quite thick, i dilute 5w-30 synth down into 3 parts of spirits. seriously, try it - got nothing to lose, mineral turpentine is cheap and useful to have around... your oil will also go further and will attract dirt less... At least thinner is better in my conditions, it is reasonably dusty where i ride... i've always noticed a thicker mix gets the chain dirty much quicker.
Won't thinner harm ur paint jobs, clear coats and carbon fibre? Wat is the most 'frame frenly' mineral spirit to dilute ur oil with if there is any?
 

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Vinokourov said:
Won't thinner harm ur paint jobs, clear coats and carbon fibre? Wat is the most 'frame frenly' mineral spirit to dilute ur oil with if there is any?
well, i found mineral turpentine to be the best to suspend oil - it does a fantastic job.

as for your concerns it really doesn't matter - if you properly do your chain, there wont be any left, and certainly nothing (including oil), should drop from your chain...

you want to first really clean your chain in a kerosene bath - then dry it off and drop it into your home brew, remove - wipe off excess and hang to dry. Of course this can only really be done properly with a quick link chain. Get the link, its awesome...you can totally remove the chain in a couple of seconds, so useful for so many things, not least of which proper chain care.. (sram for shimano, connex for campy...)
 

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lubing is not cleaning...

The idea behind home brew is not only to lubricate, but to flush out dirt. I mix mine as thin as 6/1 and apply it after nearly every ride. I fold a paper towel so it's 8 layers thick, hold it under the lower section of chain and apply the lube heavily, to it runs off, into the towel. By the time I get all five sections of chain lubed, the towel is pretty wet with excess lube. I use another towel to wipe the chain dry and clean the chainrings.

Mineral spirits (paint thinner) won't hurt the paint on a bike, but if you slop it on a self-adhesive chainstay protector or clear vinyl framesaver tape, it may loosen the adhesive.

With this lube, you have to apply it just after riding, to allow time for the mineral spirits to evaporate before riding, otherwise it will splatter onto the rear wheel when you ride.

Frequent lubing in this manner can increase chain life by 2-4 times.
 

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Not entirely correct

wankski said:
society of automotive engineers (SAE).. they developed this rating to tell you the viscosity. 15 is the cold viscoisty, 50 being the hot (yeah, it gets thicker as it gets hotter)..

a 15w-50 is quite thick, i dilute 5w-30 synth down into 3 parts of spirits. seriously, try it - got nothing to lose, mineral turpentine is cheap and useful to have around... your oil will also go further and will attract dirt less... At least thinner is better in my conditions, it is reasonably dusty where i ride... i've always noticed a thicker mix gets the chain dirty much quicker.
Multiviscosity motor oils are not thicker at higher temperatures than at lower temepratures. They just do not thin out as much as single viscosity motor oils.

The SAE number (10,30, 40) was originally the time it took a fixed amount of oil heated to 100 celsius to drain though a standard orifice. A 10 weight oil took approx 10 seconds, a 30 weight oil took approx 30 seconds. More advanced rheological tests are used now instead of the simple drain time. "W" stands for winter and iis an indication that the oil is good for cold weather operation.
 

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Simple answers might be wrong--Is Kerry Fallible?

Kerry Irons said:
First, the "full strength" of undiluted motor oil is hard to wipe off your chain, so your chain will become a dirt magnet if you lube with plain oil. Second, straight oil is not NEARLY as thin as home brew, so it is more difficult to get it into every nook and cranny. Third, it will not displace and dissolve the crud in your chain so it doesn't do any cleaning tasks. Finally, your argument about "running out and being thrown off" is nonsense - you want to flush the chain and have the lube run off, as that is part of the cleaning process, and once the solvent evaporates, all that is left behind is the oil, and that oil is no thinner than the oil you started with and so won't be thrown off.

Other than these points, your proposal is just fine. :)
I'm not sure that diluting motor oil with mineral spirits is a good idea. It is a fallacy that all of the mineral spirits evaporate. As the mole fraction of mineral spirits decreases, the vapor pressure and evaporation rate decrease. What is left behind is not just the oil, but is the oil and some unevaporated solvent. Small amounts of solvent dilution can have a large impact on the lubricating ability of oils. I recall that a 5% fuel dilution can cause a 50% reduction in the protective film strength of lubricating oils--can't swear to it or cite a source, but I'm pretty sure that it's right. I would not be at all surprised to find more than 5% solvent remaining in the oil daysafter using homebrew. I simply use Mobil 1 0W20 and wipe off excess with an old rag. Unless I see data on how much solvent remains in the lubricant and on the effect of the residual solvent on the lubricant properties, I'll keep wiping my chain with straight low weight synthetic oil. I'm getting long chain life, easy shifting, no squeeks, and my chain is not a dirt magnet. I don't have to mess around with solvent.
 

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it works!

You're probably right that it would take a long time for all of the mineral spirits to evaporate. In the winter, I only ride one of my bike occasionally, and my chains are noticeably drier if the bike has been sitting for weeks.

Some of the expensive lubes like ATB (absolutely the best) use very expensive, but rapid drying solvents in the mix. A 4-ounce bottle sells for about $8 and costs about $4 to make, according to the manufacturer. Both the solvent and the lubricant are very expensive. Compare a product like that to homebrew, that costs about 20 cents for the same amount.

I've used nothing but homebrew for about 7 years. Applying this lube every 150-200 miles would yield a chain life of at least 7000 miles. Applying it after nearly every ride can extend the life to 20,000+. With the frequent application method, I dilute about 6/1 rather than the more common 3 or 4/1. Regardless of how much the the lubricating properties are reduced by thinning with solvent, the chain life alone proves it's still more than adequate. My experiments tend to support the idea that frequent lubing/flushing (to remove dirt) is more important than extremely high film strength.

The lubrication engineer who developed ATB suggested to me that I should try some methanol to speed up evaporation. I haven't found it readily available, so I haven't tried it yet. Naptha might be another alternative, since it's touted as a faster drying thinner for oil base paint, but it's more expensive than paint thinner. I alternate between two bikes so evaporation time is rarely an issue. I've even lubed early in the morning and rode within 5-6 hours with no sling-off.
 

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Fallacy unveiled

Reynolds531 said:
I'm not sure that diluting motor oil with mineral spirits is a good idea. It is a fallacy that all of the mineral spirits evaporate. As the mole fraction of mineral spirits decreases, the vapor pressure and evaporation rate decrease.
Simply stated, this is not correct unless the oil serves to depress the vapor pressure of the solvent. The total vapor pressure of the oil/solvent mixture does decline because the mole fraction of the solvent is declining, but the vapor pressure of the solvent doesn't decline. Also, since there is essentially zero solvent in the atmosphere, the driving force for evaporation is still high. While there is "some" solvent remaining after time, it would not likely be 5% or anything close to it. Unless you have some data on vapor pressure supression of mineral spirits by motor oil, your argument does not hold up.
 

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Not so fast

Kerry Irons said:
Simply stated, this is not correct unless the oil serves to depress the vapor pressure of the solvent. The total vapor pressure of the oil/solvent mixture does decline because the mole fraction of the solvent is declining, but the vapor pressure of the solvent doesn't decline. Also, since there is essentially zero solvent in the atmosphere, the driving force for evaporation is still high. While there is "some" solvent remaining after time, it would not likely be 5% or anything close to it. Unless you have some data on vapor pressure supression of mineral spirits by motor oil, your argument does not hold up.
There are at least two effects that keep the mineral spirits in the oil. First, as you point out, the vapor pressure of the mixture declines as the mole fraction of the mineral spirits decline. As the vapor pressure declines, the evaporation rate declines. Also, mineral spirits are mostly C9 to C12 alkanes. As the mineral spirits evaporate, the residuals left in the oil become enriched in the lower vapor pressure, heavier components. I think that you might be grossly underestimating the time it takes for the mineral spirits to evaporate from the oil. A 10 mole percent solution of dodecane in motor oil only has a vapor pressure of about 0.03 torre at 20 C.

I don't really think the residual solvent is a huge problem, but I also don't think there is any significant benefit to diluting down the motor oil. Motor oil is a good cleaning solvent. It will penetrate into every nook and cranny in the chain, and if you wipe the chain dry with a rag after lubing, the chain stays clean. I have a clean chain, smooth quite operation, very long chain life, and no time waiting for the solvent to evaoprate. Between my kids, my wife and me I have 9 bike chains to maintain. Straight 0W20 synthetic oil is a simple, effective, inexpensive chain lubricant. I think homebrew is a bunch of nonsense.
 

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Thanks for the education. I've read many times of C40 and Kerry Iron's advice on chain lube and even thought of doing it but being basically lazy, I couldn't see doing this after every ride. Motor oil is something I tried, but for the life of me it seems no matter how clean I wiped the chain after a ride, the chain looked like it wanted to, and did, weep oil. I've also tried the pricey bike specific synthetic lubes and found them price-performance lacking. What works for me is sewing machine oil. It's color is urine yellow. This lube penetrates the chain links really well and stays put. I really like it and it's cheap too.
 

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tried it?

Reynolds531 said:
I think homebrew is a bunch of nonsense.
The idea of using a solvent to thin a lubricant and insure good penetration is nothing new. There are dozens of similar products on the market. Most are so expensive that they recommend applying one drop to each pin.

I wouldn't argue that 0W30 oil will penetrate to the pin and bushing just fine, but it sure won't flow good enough to expel old dirt and lube. That's the big advantage with homebrew; you can apply a large amount and flush away dirt, which is a major cause of wear. Can you use a chain for 6000 miles and only show 1/64 of an inch elongation per foot? That's what I'm getting with my method. It's 2-3 times the life that I was getting when I only applied the lube once a week.
 

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I tried it

C-40 said:
The idea of using a solvent to thin a lubricant and insure good penetration is nothing new. There are dozens of similar products on the market. Most are so expensive that they recommend applying one drop to each pin.

I wouldn't argue that 0W30 oil will penetrate to the pin and bushing just fine, but it sure won't flow good enough to expel old dirt and lube. That's the big advantage with homebrew; you can apply a large amount and flush away dirt, which is a major cause of wear. Can you use a chain for 6000 miles and only show 1/64 of an inch elongation per foot? That's what I'm getting with my method. It's 2-3 times the life that I was getting when I only applied the lube once a week.
I had two problems with 4:1 mineral spirit/oil when I used it. It didn't provide lubrication that lasts as long as undiluted oil. I'm not going to clean my chain after every ride. When I used homebrew, I'd get chain noise after a couple hundred miles With undiluted oil I can go for much longer periods and have never had the chain noise I got with homebrew. Also, when I used homebrew on my beater in the winter, I'd get some oil splattering even after waiting a day to let the homebrew evaporate. I never get oil splattering with straight oil.

I suspect that if you lube and wipe your chain with straight 0W20 after every ride, you'd still get very very long chain life, maybe as good as homebrew, maybe better.

I don't know how long my chain will last. I haven't worn out a chain since I switched from Triflow a couple of years agor. I don't really care if the chain doesn't last much longer than 2 years (6000 miles for me). I use SRAM PC 58s that only cost about $20,

Mostly, I'm sticking up for Lawerence's idea. He got dissed for suggesting a technique that I know works very, very well. I also like to be iconoclastic.
 

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Parallel universes

Reynolds531 said:
I had two problems with 4:1 mineral spirit/oil when I used it. It didn't provide lubrication that lasts as long as undiluted oil. I'm not going to clean my chain after every ride. When I used homebrew, I'd get chain noise after a couple hundred miles.
So, to poke you a bit, every ride you do is a couple hundred miles? IME, ProLink or home brew are good for about 350 miles, but a lot of that will depend on how dusty your local environment is. Also, it has always been stated that you go 3:1 or so if you want more miles between cleanings and 5:1 or higher if you want a cleaner chain. Along with C-40, I think the key feature of solvent based lubes is that you get a thorough flushing of the chain with each application. I do my chain after 300-350 miles and typically get 10K miles per chain riding mostly flat roads, not a lot of dust, and rarely caught in the rain. My wife, who weighs 125 lb. to my 180 gets in excess of 15K miles per chain. If I lived in the Pacific NW, I would be lubing and cleaning more often. C-40 lubes after every ride, and that will maximize chain life, but IMO that is not necessary.

Back in the day I used to use straight oil as well, but it was much harder to wipe off the excess, the chain attracted more dirt, and the chain required some sort of additional cleaning process on a regular basis as a result. With the solvent based lube, your chain is cleaned with each lube application and remains clean throughout its life. Removing the dirt and grit is the key to long chain life, as otherwise the grit acts as a grinding compound. If your chain was spitting lube 24 hours after application, it was either VERY cold where you live or you didn't wipe the chain thoroughly after the lube job.
 

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Pluses and minuses

Kerry Irons said:
So, to poke you a bit, every ride you do is a couple hundred miles? IME, ProLink or home brew are good for about 350 miles, but a lot of that will depend on how dusty your local environment is. Also, it has always been stated that you go 3:1 or so if you want more miles between cleanings and 5:1 or higher if you want a cleaner chain. Along with C-40, I think the key feature of solvent based lubes is that you get a thorough flushing of the chain with each application. I do my chain after 300-350 miles and typically get 10K miles per chain riding mostly flat roads, not a lot of dust, and rarely caught in the rain. My wife, who weighs 125 lb. to my 180 gets in excess of 15K miles per chain. If I lived in the Pacific NW, I would be lubing and cleaning more often. C-40 lubes after every ride, and that will maximize chain life, but IMO that is not necessary.

Back in the day I used to use straight oil as well, but it was much harder to wipe off the excess, the chain attracted more dirt, and the chain required some sort of additional cleaning process on a regular basis as a result. With the solvent based lube, your chain is cleaned with each lube application and remains clean throughout its life. Removing the dirt and grit is the key to long chain life, as otherwise the grit acts as a grinding compound. If your chain was spitting lube 24 hours after application, it was either VERY cold where you live or you didn't wipe the chain thoroughly after the lube job.
For people like me, who are sometimes a little negligent on the chain maintenance, I'm convinced from experience that straight motor oil provides longer lasting lubrication, especially in foul weather. For those who religiously clean their chain and measure the wear to the 1/64", dilute homebrew is just fine. I still think that you're probably grossly underestimating how much solvent remains behind for days when the vp is only a few hundreths of a torre, but it's probably irrelevent--5-10% solvent in the oil must not cause too much problem.

My main point is that Lawerence's suggestion works just fine, has some advantages over using solvent dilution, and he shouldn't be dissed.
 

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Reynolds531 said:
Multiviscosity motor oils are not thicker at higher temperatures than at lower temepratures. They just do not thin out as much as single viscosity motor oils.

The SAE number (10,30, 40) was originally the time it took a fixed amount of oil heated to 100 celsius to drain though a standard orifice. A 10 weight oil took approx 10 seconds, a 30 weight oil took approx 30 seconds. More advanced rheological tests are used now instead of the simple drain time. "W" stands for winter and iis an indication that the oil is good for cold weather operation.
ahh, that actually makes more sense... :D thanks for the correction!
 
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