Sheldon chain shake-clean for gears?


Legendary Member
I've always sworn by Sheldon's spirit in a coke bottle and give it a damn good shake to clean my chains, and now I'm transferring all my old bits onto a new frame, I wondered whether it might work to clean up my frankly filthy old gear mechs. Stick 'em in a lunch box with some parafin, give 'em a damn good shake, then dry them off and lubricate with 3-in-1/wd-40/pro-link chain lube in all the right places. Does this sound like a good idea, or deranged? Am I likely to damage anything? If it does sound sensible, what should I use for the lube? Any thoughts appreciated.


Rohan Man
Bugbrooke UK
I don't think this method will get all the gunge out of the tension/jockey wheel bearings. Remove the fixing bolts, disassemble the cups/wheels and clean in spirit using an old toothbrush to remove the stubborn stuff. Lubricate and re-assemble. I'm guessing modern Shimano etc stuff uses "slippy" plastic runnung in metal cups. IIRC I had a Huret in the seventies with BB's in the tension wheel.

As to lubricant, although Ricard Ballantine commended WD40 most now would say it's more a water displacer than long term lubricant.


New Member
Definitely take apart the jockey wheels and back plate before shaking 'em around. And make sure you don't ding the finish on your mech with all that roughhousing (I ususally use a parafinny toothbrush for mechs).

Regular bike grease is fine for reassembling jockey wheels.


Legendary Member
Thanks - so....nothing wrong with doing it, but it won't be enough? Thanks for that. Other than regular grease for the jockey wheels, what should I use for the other moving parts - pivots and the like? My instinct is to use 3-in-1 - but is this just asking for grit problems? (Incidentally, these aren't 'modern' units: one's Sun, t'others Shimano 600, both are '80s, I think.)
3-in-1 should be left on the shelf of whatever shop has it.

It is a low quality organic oil that leaves a sticky paste yuk yuk yuk

Fully synthetic lube is best. My current favorite is FinishLine ProRoad
Back when I had derailleur thingies to clean, I used an ultrasonic jewellery cleaner. it geot them sparkling with hardly any effort, just strip down, in the container with the hazardous solvent of youer choice, switch on and leave until ping!
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