Rusted Bike Chain & Gears

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Rusted Bike Chain & Gears

Postby Leo » Sun Mar 06, 2011 3:30 pm

I just pulled my playa bike out of the back of the shed and discovered that the chain and gears are rusted. The rest of the bike looks OK. Any ideas on how to de-rust (un-rust?) the chain and gears? I heard that the playa dust is corrosive, so now I'm a believer.
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Postby Trishntek » Sun Mar 06, 2011 3:42 pm

Over the years, for rust-busting, I'm a big fan of WD40. You just gotta let it soak and give it time to penetrate and loosen the joo-joo. Then after a day or two, just take a wire brush to it and rinse with more WD40. Lubricate with a light household oil and it should be good to go.
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Postby teardropper » Sun Mar 06, 2011 4:02 pm

Yeah, that'll happen. Trishntek's right, that's about it. To prevent that, just clean it and lube it right after you get off the playa. I let mine sit all winter with oil on the chain, but clean it an put a dry lube on before going to BLC. I think the oil can attract that dust and gum it up out there.

And there has been discussion about the corrosive nature of the playa. I'm with you, very corrosive.
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Postby DB Cooper » Sun Mar 06, 2011 4:37 pm

I use chain wax on my chains (apply before and after the playa). It doesn't attract dust like oils (WD-40 is about the worst thing to use).
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Postby mdmf007 » Sun Mar 06, 2011 4:51 pm

I would replace the chain depending on how bad its seized up. Hate to say it but they are pretty cheap at the big box stores.
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Postby phil » Sun Mar 06, 2011 4:54 pm

DB Cooper wrote:I use chain wax on my chains (apply before and after the playa). It doesn't attract dust like oils (WD-40 is about the worst thing to use).


It would be if you were using it before you went to the playa. But after the chain has rusted up, it's a good chemical to get the rust and crud off. Then use chain wax after the chain is clean.
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Postby DB Cooper » Sun Mar 06, 2011 6:20 pm

coca cola, lemon juice, molasses, muriatic acid, vinegar and lots more all work better for getting rid of rust. (I am biased, I hate WD40 I think its a horrible product). don't ever use wd40 as a lube, it sucks
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Postby teardropper » Sun Mar 06, 2011 9:06 pm

DB Cooper wrote: don't ever use wd40 as a lube, it sucks


Yeah, it's not a lube. But works as a cleaner. I don't use it on the playa, my chain cleaner is in the motorhome, or I'd tell you the brand. I use it with good rags and reapply the dry lube on the playa.
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Postby some seeing eye » Sun Mar 06, 2011 9:25 pm

Playa doesn't deep rust (or corrode aluminum in a year). As mentioned neutralize with vinegar say 8:1, even pressure wash or scrub with a brush or whatever you need for the crevasses after. Then lubricate. WD40 is cheap, but very lightweight and not protective - bike shops know better. Get a chain tool or service at your local bike shop and have a playa chain and a city chain, switching between. Chains are $5-10. Chain tool $5-10. Don't overestimate a season of rust, bikes are rugged.
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Postby Playa-Tom » Sun Mar 06, 2011 9:51 pm

WD-40 displaces water, blast the chain with WD-40 and free it up then use a good dry lube. Before the burn give it another shot of dry lube.
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Postby DB Cooper » Sun Mar 06, 2011 9:57 pm

that playafied dry rusty chain has lots of water that needs displacing? interesting
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Postby DrPeffer » Mon Mar 07, 2011 12:15 am

Replace the chain. Then, this year, do it right (like I do):

The next morning after getting back from the Playa...Not two or three days later, but the very next day...Spray your bike down with vinegar/lemon juice/club soda/something slightly acidic. Watch and listen to it bubbling! Then, simply hose it down with water. Nothing more exotic is needed. Then, lube up all the works (chain, gears)...

And that's that 'til next year.

My bike has seen 4 burns now, and has come back caked with Playa each time. As long as you get to it IMMEDIATELY, it'll stay perfect.
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Postby Mr. Lubey » Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:41 pm

The key is to clean the chain with a water based chain cleaner (vinegar solution is OK). Dry chain throughly (overnite) and then when lubing wipe off as much of the lube material as possible. Any extra lube on the chain will only attract more dust and grit. A dry. waxy MTB type of lube works best. WD-40 is the worst on the playa.

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Postby Bob » Sun Mar 13, 2011 11:17 pm

Narwhal jizz.
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Postby AntiM » Mon Mar 14, 2011 6:14 am

Bob wrote:Narwhal jizz.


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Postby The CO » Mon Mar 14, 2011 11:43 am

Yeah, if it's been sitting that long, buck up and by a new chain.

My post-playa method:

1-ASAP afterburn, spray entire bike with vinegar solution. Spray extra on any moving parts.
2-Spray with Awesome brand cleaner (from Dollar Tree).
3-Scrub with a brush, paying attention to chain & moving parts.
4-White Lighting brand chain cleaner: use on chain.
5-Repeat as needed until clean (1-4 cycles)

I use Pedros Ice Wax for pre-playa lube, but any decent wax lube will work.
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Postby Teo del Fuego » Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:14 pm

WD-40 is actually a wonderful product when use for its intended purpose. Chain lube ain't one of them.
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Postby sparta981 » Mon Mar 21, 2011 4:18 pm

I haven't been to BM, (yet) but I thought I'd share. Any time I go somewhere with my bike, I bring a chain of master links. My bike is a chain eater, so my regular chain is about 10% master link.
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Postby Elliot » Mon Mar 21, 2011 9:12 pm

You may also find that your freewheel is rusted stuck. I've freed up some very stuck ones with WD-40 and rocking the freewheel back-n-forth. But you must get the WD-40 into the freewheel mechanism, which means you need to study a working freewheel until you see which part turns and which part is stationary. That tiny gap is where you spray it.

I believe we learned earlier (from the Material Safety Data Sheet) that WD-40 is mostly a solvent similar to kerosene, with a little light oil thrown in. Not a lubricant, no. I'd be interested in trying straight kerosene as a rust-loosener. Might do the job cheaper?
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Postby FIGJAM » Mon Mar 21, 2011 9:27 pm

vinager does a great job on rust.
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Postby erbal » Tue Mar 22, 2011 3:21 am

OK ... coming from a fairly rusty background (I have a 1967 morris minor which was originally more rust than metal), a good way of dissolving rust is phosphoric acid ... there is a bunch of phosphoric acid in cola.

I would remove the chain (if you move along the length of the chain you will find one link that is more like a clip than a link, pop this one apart and the chain will come off without you needing to take the bike apart), try flexing it a bit to loosen up the rust and then leave it to soak in acid for a few days.

Ideally you might to bend the links of the chain every day (wrap it round a pipe) to loosen stuff off.

Once you are done dissolving the rust, you need to wash that sugary stuff off the chain & let it dry. Then get a pot of oil .... used engine oil is ideal ... dump the chain in there for a week or two, again it would be a good idea to move the links about.

After a while you should have a chain that's fine & dandy, replacing it is just the disposable culture talking, with just a little work you can save both the environment and your pocket!


Next year, just take the chain off when you get home, wash it in vinegar to neutralise the dust and then dump it in a pot of oil (jam jars are ideal for this) & tape the pot to your bike so you dont loose it ;)
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Postby Zed the Mailman » Sun Apr 03, 2011 12:39 pm

Having your chain run smoothly is a pretty important part of a well-running bicycle. After soaking in a mild solvent like kerosene or WD40 and scrubbing it with a stiff bristle brush, if the chain still doesn't run smoothly get a new one. This year give your bike a proper cleaning when you get back from the playa. It's really the least you can do for a machine that serves you so well out there. I like diluted simple green and a couple different brushes. I don't think it matters much that you use a acidic wash as long as you actually wash it properly when you get back. That means wetting, then soap/simple green brushing every inch, then rinsing. Pay particular attention to the chain and use straight Simple Green or citrus degreaser if necessary. Lube the chain and other linkages and It'll be good for another year. You DO NOT need to split the chain and soak it for a year after going to Burning Man. All you need to do is clean it properly and lube it. Avoid splitting chains unnecessarily.
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