Chain maintenance 1.0

ER Classics Desktop 2022

Chains. Indispensable wear parts that require maintenance. In the past, when not everything was better, but it was nice and clear, cleaning and lubrication - chain maintenance - of the secondary chain was quite a ritual.

The moped got on the box. Then you turned the rear wheel this far - or as often, because the case could be dirty - around until you had the locking link, the "fish." Fish swim with the nose forward, so the round side of the connecting link must point in the direction of travel by the way.
You cleaned the area around the connecting link with kerosene and a brush that was never suitable for painting with it afterwards.

You could remove the fish with a flat screwdriver or with the flat jaws of pliers, using the rear pin of the link as a reaction point. Then the closing plate could be removed from the link and the closing link could be pushed out backwards. Then the chain was 'broken' and he could get off the sprockets.

Today, crafty systems are for everything

Also for cleaning chains. You used to clean the chain with a brush and a lot of kerosene. For the young among us: That archaic product is the 'household name' of the petroleum fraction with a boiling point between approximately 150 ° C - 290 ° C, equal to kerosene and just above that of gasoline, used for lighting and heating. Before the advent of natural gas, this fuel was used in many households. Petroleum lamps were used to illuminate and a paraffin stove to cook meals. The water for tea or dishes was also heated on it. It was for sale at the chemist or from the petroleum man or oil farmer, a small self-employed person who went to door with a cart. He filled the barrels and put smaller quantities in petroleum jugs.

Nice to dip

With plenty of paraffin you removed grease and dirt and the finished product tipped down the drain. After all, it was the time that a renowned motor magazine also gave the tip what to do with your waste oil: You dug a hole about thirty-forty centimeters deep, and filled it with gravel. And then you poured in the old motor oil. The text spoke of a simple and neat solution to get rid of the old oil.
After cleaning the chain with kerosene, it had to dry for a few hours to a day, depending on the outside temperature. After all, the cleaning agent had also gotten between the pins and bushings of the chain.

Where there is smoke… There is chain grease

Then it was time to get the can of chain grease. That was a solid fat that had to be heated to become liquid and penetrating. As a youth I once did that on my parents' gas stove. I soon left the parental home. There it smelled of chain grease for a long time to remember. Later I got a kerosene burner that heated more gently and in which I burned my dirty kerosene. Outdoors, yes. When the fat had turned into oil, the chain was allowed to swim. For a few hours. So that the greasiness could also get back between the pins and bushes. Then you fished the hot chain from the fat with tongs and let it drain and cool. You would of course put a few old newspapers under the chain to avoid slippery spots on the floor. And after about 500 kilometers that party had to be celebrated again. Real motorcyclists always had a cool chain in stock.

“Every advantage has a disadvantage” (Nr14)

None of that is really necessary anymore. Modern (riveted) O- and X-ring chains have an infinite lifespan for classics with minimal maintenance. There is a small 'but' with that. The seals in the links create friction in the chain. And friction costs power. This became apparent after the installation of an O-ring chain on a classic 90 cc Hondaatje. With a new chain, the top speed of that brave 90cc motorcycle was more than 5 mph lower than with a freshly greased chain and 7 mph slower with a completely dry, clean chain. And that made him just too slow to get along on back roads. So you see again: “Every advantage has a disadvantage”. That is a saying of Johan Cruyff. So it must be true.

Furthermore, nowadays there is of course a range of handy things to clean and lubricate chains. Including the whole world of aerosols. Chain grease in those spray cans is also available for 'classic' chains and O- and X-ring chains….

By the way: a cardan drive is not maintenance-free, but low-maintenance.


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  1. Petroleum was indeed beautiful stuff and could be found in every household. Was used for all sorts of things, whether or not 'enriched' with a little oil. Almost all of the Netherlands also heated its house with it. Apartment dwellers often had a 100-liter barrel on their balcony, which was then filled by the oil farmer with a raised hose.
    As far as the direction of travel of the chain link is concerned, whole tribes have indeed been misled: direction of travel in the lower reaches or the upper reaches of the chain ?? Matter of interpretation ;-). Many people could walk back hundreds of meters to find their chain if that thing was incorrectly mounted. I preferred to say 'closed side with the direction of rotation'
    But of course everyone now understands what you mean.

  2. …. “So the round side of the connecting link must point in the direction of travel by the way”….
    Now I want to be wise: if the fish is at the top of the chain, your story is correct, but if it is then turned a little further so that the fish is at the bottom of the chain ... your story will not end
    To make it all worse and make it even wiser: the hands of the clock don't go around right either, because the hands go from right to left from quarter past to quarter before …… oohhhh I'm wise wijs 🙂
    This stupid nonsense can be removed by the moderator !!!

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