RK says: "DO NOT USE KEROSENE OR WD-40 on a sealed chain!!"

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by sajohnson, Jul 16, 2019.

  1. sajohnson

    sajohnson Adventurer

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    I recently ran out of the chain lube I was using (Yamalube -- dealer recommended). It was always kind of tacky (even after drying for a few days) and picked up a lot of dirt, so instead of just buying the same stuff again I thought I'd do some research and see if there is something that might work better.

    I read a lot of chain lube threads here and needless to say, there are a lot of different opinions as to what is "best".

    There is some consensus that cleaning with WD-40 is a good idea. Some people use WD-40 exclusively. Others say WD-40 is bad for the O-rings and/or can get past the rings and dilute the factory lube.

    Being naturally curious, I went to RK-Japan, the mfr of the OE chain on my DR-Z400: http://global.rk-japan.co.jp/

    There I found the US distributor: https://rkexcelamerica.com/products/rk-chains/

    On their website I found this PDF: http://rkexcelamerica.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/1461079033a68e02b1b46743bafb1f09a74a0687b3.pdf

    In that PDF, in BOLD red font it says: "DO NOT USE KEROSENE OR WD-40 on a sealed chain!!"

    So I called the number listed: 760-732-3161. The guy who answered said they (RK Excel America) are 'middlemen'. They simply repeat what RK Japan tells them. He did say that WD-40 used to be OK, but is no longer recommended. He did not have any answers, so he connected me with marketing. The woman I spoke with confirmed that WD-40 is no longer recommended, because it disintegrates the 'nitrile butadiene' O-rings. Specifically, she said it "changes the molecular structure of the O-rings". She stressed that any cleaner or lube must be labeled "O-ring safe".

    Being a cynic by nature, it occurred to me that perhaps RK has their own products and saw WD-40 as the competition, but she said they sell nothing here in the U.S., only in Japan. So no conflict of interest.

    It looks like nitrile butadiene is not the most chemical-resistant material: https://mykin.com/rubber-chemical-resistance-chart

    I've ordered a can of Bel-Ray Super Clean lube to try, but I'm looking for an O-ring safe chain cleaner.

    According to the chart at the link above, denatured alcohol and methanol are fine, but there's probably something better.

    Oddly, it says kerosene is OK as well. Essentially all oils that I saw listed are safe.

    Stoddard Solvent is listed as being O-ring friendly. Near as I can tell, it is mineral spirits. Unless there is some reason not to use it I may go that way.

    In any case, I figured I'd pass that on FWIW.
    #1
  2. Beezer

    Beezer Long timer Supporter

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    uh oh.....
    #2
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  3. Themastermike

    Themastermike Think you caught me in a coma Supporter

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    Thanks
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  4. flei

    flei cycletherapist

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    Warning: lube fight imminent.
    [​IMG]
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  5. 9Realms

    9Realms Drawn in by the complex plot

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    I use "EK" not RK chains with great success. They are O ring chains, yep indeed.
    I clean them with Kerosene when deemed necessary, and I am a longtime fan of Belray Superclean lube. It doesn't fling! :-)
    I have not had O rings fall apart on me at all. I did try an "X" ring chain once, I don't recall the brand, but I saw pieces of the X rings eventually falling out. It spun me back to O ring chains again.

    You will like the Superclean!

    360 belray.jpg
    #5
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  6. dddd

    dddd Long timer

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    Why clean at all?
    That just removes the lube from pins and rollers more easily than you can add it back, and the cleaner left in will prevent the next lube from adhering...

    My chains last longer since I stopped using chain cleaner.
    Just lube over and wipe what comes out.
    #6
  7. Mikemm

    Mikemm Long timer

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    Maybe it has something to do with the Nitrile orings?

    Whenever people bring up how bad it is to use kerosene or Diesel I often laugh since thats what was actually recommended by Kawasaki in my old 250 Ninja manual...



    23EF014B-4869-4EF8-B34D-FF774A1BF866.jpeg


    How do you get the dirt and sand off the chain?
    #7
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  8. dddd

    dddd Long timer

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    I wrote: "just lube over and wipe what comes out."
    #8
  9. cagiva549

    cagiva549 whats a cagiva

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    My chains might get cleaned with solvent when I mount new tires or if I make a water crossing , otherwise maintaince free except lubed with chainsaw bar oil every 500 miles at least . Years ago I bought some RK chain lube and upon close inspection found it to be nothing other that old school chain saw bar oil . It makes a mess but chains run for 40,000 plus miles on my KTM 950 .
    #9
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  10. wfopete

    wfopete Suffer Fools; Gladly!

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  11. Cogswell

    Cogswell Trying to live the new normal.

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    Use automatic transmission fluid and a toothbrush to clean the chain. Wipe off excess with a clean rag, and use the lube of your choice.
    #11
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  12. Mikemm

    Mikemm Long timer

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    Yea, i read what you wrote, but its quite lacking in information. "lube over"... lube over what? Lubricate over the chain? over the old lube? over the dirt and sand?

    obviously, now, you meant just throw more lube on it...
    #12
  13. dddd

    dddd Long timer

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    Sorry.

    Most chain lube (preferably chain wax) come in a volatile mix that penetrates and just so happen to clean too while liquid, if you wipe the excess within 20 seconds I'd say. I might be too generous, but knowing that the lube must get the best chance to get past the rings* (soaking them at least), and under the rollers, I choose to put a lot. This automatically cause some stuck dirt to flow out. Using a rag, I wipe the top, bottom and sides of the chain. There will always be a film left on there, preventing rust.

    There is no dirt on the rollers of course, and the chain doesn't bend so far and so much that the dirt on the rings would ever damage them so rapidly. Dirt on the plates is just for looks; that why many people don't even bother wiping.

    Less sticky lube (not wax but oils) will fling off taking the dirt with them. It's the main reason why chain lubed by auto chain oilers are so clean. I don't mind manual oiling. It's 20 seconds including opportunistic wear and slack inspection.

    So that's it. If you use a sticky lube, it's probably dripping on application, so that's the moment to wipe the excess and gunk.

    *Yes, getting lube past the ring. Exactly like water does which explain the swollen rust causing kinks.
    #13
  14. JohnE65c

    JohnE65c Been here awhile Supporter

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    Why marketing and not engineering? It sounds like marketing consulted with the corporate lawyers and this is the c.y.a. response that was provided.
    #14
  15. dtysdalx2

    dtysdalx2 Knowledge is horsepower

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    :dunno

    Wd-40 Specialist 10 oz. Aerosol Can, Clear Color Model: 300493
    from Grainger Industrial Supply

    5 product reviews
    WD-40 · Spray · Liquid


    A line of best-in-class specialty maintenance products formulated to give trade professionals the performance they need to get their specific jobs done right. WD-40 Specialist products are proven more effective than the leading competitors in ASTM and other industry accepted test methods and all are 50-state VOC compliant. Penetrates into chain inner links, pins, bushings and rollers. Penetrates and lubricates internal chain mechanisms. 2. Displaces contaminants and trapped moisture 3. Dries quickly inside links (non-fling) 4. Provides long-lasting lubrication on chain and sprockets 5. Protects chains and sprockets against rust and premature breakage. Safe on O-Ring chains WARNING: This product can expose you to chemicals which is [are] known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.


    DuPont Motorcycle Degreaser, 11 oz:

    • For chains and sprockets
    • DuPont degreaser is designed to melt away grease, dirt, wax and grime while leaving delicate O-rings unharmed
    • Independently tested to be safe for all sealed chains, including O-rings, X-rings and Z-rings
    #15
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  16. 2 SPOT

    2 SPOT bring the rape whistle

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    i keep it simple and cheap, brush off with a chip brush, lube with 90w gear oil, wipe off excess with a rag.
    #16
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  17. Amphib

    Amphib A mind is like a parachute....

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  18. sajohnson

    sajohnson Adventurer

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    I think that was very common. The CSR at RK said that until recently they used to recommend both WD-40 and kerosene.

    Their story is that they recently discovered that kero and WD-40 actually do cause the O-rings to disintegrate "at the molecular level".
    #18
  19. sajohnson

    sajohnson Adventurer

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    It's possible that it is CYA. I have no idea, but I was told the PDF came from RK-Japan -- not marketing. The woman I spoke with did have a clue, but she was merely confirming what the PDF says.

    It could be BS; it might be CYA language; maybe the chain cleaner & lube mfrs got together and bribed RK to advise against kero and WD-40 -- or maybe they are telling the truth.

    I'd rather be safe than sorry, but it sounds like a lot of people have been using WD-40 without a problem. Personally, I'll just use a different cleaner -- no big deal.
    #19
  20. sajohnson

    sajohnson Adventurer

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    I've seen both. They're well done.

    A couple thoughts:

    * There's a difference between soaking, and being exposed to the stresses, contamination, heat, etc, in actual use.

    * RK claims that the disintegration is at a molecular level. If this is true, then that would not be discovered in those tests.

    Personally, I have no stake in this. I certainly don't know what's true and what isn't. My thinking is that because there are so many options for cleaning besides WD-40, I'll just use one of them.
    #20