MTB Chain Deep Clean & Derailleur Idler Wheel Questions

Discussion in 'Bicycle Mechanics and Repairs' started by woodbine, 6 Jan 2019.

  1. woodbine

    woodbine Active Member

    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    I have an old British Eagle MTB with 18 speed Shimano Uniglide. I have two questions;

    The chain (KMC) is approx. 4 years old and has been regularly cleaned and oiled in situ. I have measured the chain and it has no stretch yet. I would like to take the chain off and soak it in some kind of solvent to really clean the chain. What is recommended - petrol? Some kind of degreaser? What should I rinse it with after using solvent/degreaser?

    Re. the two small plastic jockey/idler wheels on rear derailleur (not sure what they're called) - last time I had these off, I greased the inside of the wheels with standard Castrol LM grease. I'm going to remove them, clean and re-grease. Is the Castrol ok, or should I be using something different? Also, how long do these wheels last? Mine are original and best part of 30 years old. Are new ones for my bike available?

    Thanks for any advice and help.
     
    Last edited: 6 Jan 2019
  2. fossyant

    fossyant Ride It Like You Stole It!

    Location:
    South Manchester
    You can buy Tacx jockey wheels if the old ones are star shaped - that's what I use on my 90's MTB. As for the chain, I occasionally use degreaser, just rinse off, and re-oil. (I get 5l of Screw Fix no nonsense Degreaser for £8.99 - lasts ages and is good for cleaning the kitchen too).
     
  3. Yellow Saddle

    Yellow Saddle Veteran

    Location:
    Loch side.
    Wear parts like chains, idler pulleys, tyres, spokes and just about everything else on a bicycle cannot be measured in age. Only mileage counts. A chain can be 100 years old and still be within spec.

    Even then, dirty mileage is worse than clean mileage.

    You said you measured yours. What length did you get for 12 links?

    Chains can be cleaned in any solvent. Anything that dissolves oil is fine. But when choosing, consider how you will dispose thereof.

    Any soapy degreaser and water will give a good enough rinse. That includes Fairy.

    They pulley wheels (or idler wheels or jockey wheels, all are correct) can be lubricated with any petrolium based lubricant. A bit of grease, a drop of oil, it doesn't matter. Use what you have available. Those wheels last as long as they last.

    The bottom one wears first (it has to cope with all the chain tension in the bottom run). It should be replaced once the teeth tips become sharp. When new, they are very blunt. The bottom one not only wears in the chain roller interface, but also sideways, especially if you cross-chain a lot. Exaggerated sideways wear causes chain derailment from the bottom of the pulley, upwards, causing huge damage to spokes and jockey.

    I don't know if new ones for your bike are available. Check with a retailer.
     
    Spiderweb likes this.
  4. Yellow Saddle

    Yellow Saddle Veteran

    Location:
    Loch side.
    I'm gonna buy can of your recommended stuff. It better be good, otherwise you'll be in my cross hairs.
     
    fossyant likes this.
  5. fossyant

    fossyant Ride It Like You Stole It!

    Location:
    South Manchester
    I'm happy with it. It doesn't smell, used in the kitchen as well on the bike/car. Did a grand job of cleaning the sides of the engine bay. Dilute to the required strength (very little in the kitchen).
     
    Yellow Saddle likes this.
  6. rogerzilla

    rogerzilla Guru

    Not petrol, because of the explosive vapour. Paraffin (stinky) or white spirit (light paraffin, less stinky) are safer. Shake the chain in a plastic bottle of the solvent, then wash it in a strong solution of dishwashing liquid, then rinse thoroughly and immediately dry in an oven at 100 deg C. For best results, re-oil while the chain is still warm, as this helps the oil flow to the inside of the rollers.

    You can only really measure stretch with a clean chain. I'd be surprised if it's not stretched, although a chain only used in dry conditions has an easier life. I have ruined a chain (by which I mean 1/16" per foot of stretch) in 500 miles of winter commuting although my route doesn't include filthy back lanes these days.
     
  7. Yellow Saddle

    Yellow Saddle Veteran

    Location:
    Loch side.
    Capillary action is stronger than you think. It is impossible to not get 100% perfect oil flow inside a chain's rollers within two revolutions of the crank, no matter the temperature.
     
    JhnBssll, mickle and Drago like this.
  8. sleuthey

    sleuthey Veteran

    Coincidentally I did my annual (1500 mile) deep clean of chain and cassette yesterday.

    I took them both off the bike, placed in a tub of wire spirit and brushed them clean. Then repeated with water and washing up liquid before leaving to dry in a warm room over night.

    Today I refiitted them and lubricated with Wilkinson's multipurpose cycle oil.
     
  9. Ajax Bay

    Ajax Bay Veteran

    Location:
    East Devon
    Shake rinse in paraffin. Drain off paraffin and dispose responsibly. Wash rinse in warm water (several times) imo water will do it: any residual paraffin will evaporate off (>>>). Paper towel dry and then dry on CH radiator. Refit and oil and wipe and pause, and oil and wipe. Coincidentally I did this half life deep clean of current chain yesterday.
    As far as jockey wheels, BBB do a pair for a tenner with minute bearings in (as opposed to the bushes the OP's will have). Entirely compatible. Of course after a good clean the OP's will probably be fine and will benefit from a little grease during refitting. Threadlock on the jockey wheel bolts recommended.
     
  10. OP
    OP
    woodbine

    woodbine Active Member

    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    Thanks for all your replies - really appreciated. After reading your replies (and being a cheapskate), I plan to do the following. Remove chain and put in plastic drinks bottle with some white spirit. Give it a shake and leave to soak in. Then repeat in clean bottle. Then rinse chain under tap, dry with rag and give a spray of WD40. Leave overnight for WD40 to chase out any water/moisture. Wipe chain, refit and oil.

    Does this sound like a good plan? Presuming my use of WD40 is OK?

    Will also take the idlers out at the same time as removing chain and assess to see if they are good or need replacing.

    Thanks again for any help.
     
    Last edited: 9 Jan 2019
  11. OP
    OP
    woodbine

    woodbine Active Member

    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    Thanks for your reply. I measured the chain over 24 links at 1/2" per link. It came out bang on 12". From this I deduced that there was no wear in the chain, and that my regular cleaning and oiling routine with Finish Line wet oil is paying off.
     
  12. the snail

    the snail Veteran

    Location:
    Chippenham
    Personally I wouldn't bother washing the chain after cleaning with white spirit, just wipe off, let it dry and re-lube. If you leave the ws in a container all the dirt will settle out and you can pour the ws off and re-use it.
     
    DCBassman likes this.
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