I was getting ready for the weekend when my wife and I are planning on getting some riding in. I was giving our bikes a thorough clean and checkup.
Both bikes have chains fitted with removable links. (Power Links. Pictured left.) I find the best way to remove these links is to place two thin screwdrivers, one on either side of the Power Link.
Hold the screwdrivers with one hand and then squeeze them together using a pair of pliers. (See Picture below. Right.) This will force the two halves of the link towards each other and they fall apart.
I clean the chain by placing it in a screw top jar about one third full of Lacquer Thinner, a pretty good solvent for removing grease.
Place the top on the jar and give it a good shake. Pull the chain out and wipe it dry with a rag, or a shop towel. Lacquer thinner evaporates quickly leaving the chain clean and dry.
I then found I was out of chain lube with time running short, no time to run to the store.
I have used regular motor oil before but it just leaves the chain a sticky mess that attracts dirt. Then I remembered, just this week I was mixing oil with gasoline to put in my leaf blower with a two-stroke engine.
Those not familiar with the workings of a two-stroke engine, the gas and oil mixture enters the engine via the lower part of the crank case. Oil has to be mixed with the gas to a ratio of 1 part oil to 16 parts gas, and is there to lubricate the piston and the crank bearings.
It occurred to me if an oil/gas mixture will lubricate a high speed engine, it would certainly lubricate a bicycle chain. I mixed about 1 part motor oil to 8 parts gas. Placed the mixture in the same screw top jar, dropped the chain in and let it soak for about 5 minutes, long enough for the mixture to penetrate inside to reach the pins and rollers.
I fished the chain out and wiped it down again with a shop towel. The mixture felt oily on my hands, so I figured the chain was well lubed. The gasoline would soon evaporate and leave the chain relatively dry, but with a film of oil between the plates, pins and rollers where it was needed.
Replacing the chain on the bike, I run the chain over the cassette, and around the rear derailleur pulleys. I place the front derailleur in the inner ring position. I don’t put the chain on the chainwheel but rather thread it over the bottom bracket shell, and through the front derailleur yoke.
I do this to allow extra slack in the chain, if I place the chain on the chainwheel I then have to fight the tension of the rear derailleur spring. I put a little lube on the two halves of the Power Link. Put each half of the link in either end of the chain, and link the two together, making sure the pins go in the big hole.
Next I hold the two pieces of the power link together between my left thumb and forefinger. I hold them as tight as I can to ensure the pins don’t slip out of the holes. I place the cranks horizontal with the chainwheel side crank forward. Still holding the link tight in my left hand, I reach behind the chainwheel with my right hand and lift the chain onto the inner chainring.
Don’t let go of the link yet, but push down hard on the right pedal. Hear the plates of the Power Link snap into place. (No tools needed this time.) Now I can let go and inspect the link to make sure the pins didn’t slip out, and the side plates of the link are snug in place like all the links in the rest of the chain.
I'm hoping the chain won’t attract a lot of dirt, and it shouldn’t because the oil is thinned down with the gasoline, and the outside of the chain looks clean. I may just use this method again because drippin oil from a bottle on every link is tedious and messy.
“Isn’t it dangerous to use gasoline like this?” Well yes, I wouldn’t recommend doing it in the living room, but outside, or in the garage with the door open. It is no more dangerous than mixing gas and oil and putting it in my leaf blower or lawn mower. I wouldn’t do that in the living room either.