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

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

  1. rokytnji

    rokytnji Been here awhile

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    Careful. I caught flak on this site for mentioning diesel fuel and used motor oil.
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  2. Amphib

    Amphib A mind is like a parachute....

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    I'm personally not passionate about this. It doesn't bother me what anyone uses, but I've seen too many stories of guys using wd40 with good results. This just seems like an irrational fear. This isn't an airlock seal on the space station. Disintegration on the molecular level? A chain is a wear item. I would imagine heat cycling and stress would degrade the molecules too.

    I'm currently running a wd40 cleaned chain that has 11000 miles on it. Chain is like new. Given how I abuse it, the weather, water crossings, mud, and dirt..... What sort of catastrophe am I awaiting? A clean chain is an inspected chain. But like you said, there's many products out there, I use wd40 because I always have it around....I don't have to bother with another special product I have to source and stock and the little travel cans are handy.
    #22
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  3. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    I like DuPont teflon chain spray. Wally sells it cheap and it's clean and not so messy as some. I also use it on our mtn bikes. Wally quit carrying the DuPont degreaser and I got a couple btls for like a $1 each. They also sell off the chain spray at the end of the season cheaper.
    I have my doubts that cleaning off a chain that has serious crap on it wont benefit as long as it's done so as to not damage the nitrile O-rings. WD-40 is not my cleaner of choice in the shop- mineral spirits/diesel fuel first choice, then stronger stuff as makes sense. I mostly use ATF in my WD-40 sprayers now as my only ever gallon of WD-40 bought when they invented Sams (so called) club finally is gone bye bye.
    #23
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  4. 2 SPOT

    2 SPOT bring the rape whistle

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    yeah lots of people think you need to buy expensive cleaners to wipe off a countertop also:lol3
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  5. sajohnson

    sajohnson Adventurer

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    I can't say I disagree. As you pointed out, there are a lot of people using WD-40 with no obvious problems. It is certainly easy, convenient, relatively clean, and cheap. If I'd been using it for years without any issues I'd be reluctant to stop too.

    Because RK is recommending against using WD-40 (and kero) though, I wouldn't describe the decision to not us it as an 'irrational fear'. It isn't some wild theory spread around on Internet forums by mentally unstable trolls. Not using WD-40 is just following the mfr's instructions.

    That said, RK's recommendation may be:

    * Complete bs.
    * CYA language.
    * Created to help the cleaner & lube companies gain market share.
    * True, but of little/no real world concern.

    Or, it may be completely legit. We don't know and probably never will, unless perhaps the O-ring mfr confirms or denies it.

    Like you, I'm not passionate about this. I couldn't care less what others do. But as a technician, I'm naturally curious, and when working on something I try to determine the best supplies, tools, and procedures to use. That's what led me to RK's website and their PDF about chain maint and cleaning. If there were no other options -- or there were, but they were crazy expensive -- then I'd go ahead and use WD-40 and not look back. As it is, I'll find something else -- knowing that WD-40 may actually be fine, but seeing no reason to chance it.
    #25
  6. dustin2

    dustin2 VFR800

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    How long is that?
    #26
  7. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    Preach it man!
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  8. Newbusa

    Newbusa Long timer

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    Somebody here or on another website I frequent actually soaked the o-rings out of a chain in a jar with WD40 and found the WD did not eat the o-rings.
    #28
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  9. sajohnson

    sajohnson Adventurer

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    That's right -- there are a few posts and YouTube videos that show o-rings being soaked in WD-40 for a period of time and swelling very little, if at all.

    FWIW -- swelling is not what RK is warning about. They claim that WD-40 damages the o-rings "at the molecular level".

    Also, soaking an o-ring is not the same as actual use.

    Of course, RK also advises against using kerosene, yet every chart I've looked at shows nitrile butadiene o-rings are compatible with kero.

    To be fair, the charts do not specifically list nitrile butadiene o-rings. They show "Nitrile, Buna-N". IDK if that is the same material. It is the only "nitrile" listed though:

    https://www.marcorubber.com/o-ring-chemical-compatibility-chart.htm
    https://www.allorings.com/o-ring-compatibility
    https://www.efunda.com/designstandards/oring/oring_chemical.cfm?SC=none&SM=Buna-N (Nitrile)#chem

    They also indicate that ATF and detergents are OK.

    Alcohol is also apparently alright, but there are better cleaners.

    Again -- I have not spoken with any o-ring mfr to confirm that "Nitrile, Buna-N" = "nitrile butadiene".
    #29
  10. Grreatdog

    Grreatdog Long timer Supporter

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    So I shouldn't mention I still clean air filters with gasoline? :lol3
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  11. sajohnson

    sajohnson Adventurer

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    The EPA is on its way as I type this... :D
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  12. Beezer

    Beezer Long timer Supporter

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    and I mix my air filter oil with gas to make it more workable as well
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  13. sajohnson

    sajohnson Adventurer

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    Lock him up! Lock him up!! :lol3
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  14. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    User two stroke premix.... cleans and oils in one step !

    (Seriously, yes)
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  15. Newbusa

    Newbusa Long timer

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    I also happen to be one of those guys that clean my chain with WD40 ,been doing it for as long as I can remember, never noticed my chain wearing out any quicker. In fact, my chains typically last at least 20 to 30 k.
    #35
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  16. sajohnson

    sajohnson Adventurer

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    #36
  17. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    If you don't get it chock full of grease, you don't need degreaser ;-)
    #37
  18. Grreatdog

    Grreatdog Long timer Supporter

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    Any degreaser would scare me on any type of chain but especially o or x ring. All I ever want to do is get the mud and grit off then keep it from rusting.

    Soap and water work just fine for cleaning followed by, yes, WD40. As in "Water displacing mixture 40" that was specifically designed to displace water then stop corrosion.

    I just wash the chain when I wash the bike, spray it with WD40, run it through a dry rag to clean off excess oil and call it day. I have yet to destroy a DID x-ring chain with that method.
    #38
  19. sajohnson

    sajohnson Adventurer

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    I just got off the phone with tech support at MarcoRubber.com.

    RK's "nitrile butadien"o-rings are the same as "nitrile Buna-N" and these: https://www.marcorubber.com/buna-n-o-rings.htm

    Common Names: Buna-N, Nitrile, NBR, Acrylonitrile Butadiene Rubber.

    Trade Names: NipolĀ®

    The guy I spoke with said kerosene is fine, generally speaking, per their compatibility chart:

    https://www.marcorubber.com/o-ring-chemical-compatibility-chart.htm

    He went on to say however, that kerosene is a solvent and it could get past the o-rings and dilute/dry out the factory lube. So that's one potential reason why it is no longer recommended by RK and Suzuki (2013 DR-Z400 manual, p.7-24).

    He confirmed that the primary compatibility test is to soak the o-rings in the substance for anywhere from 24 hours to 30 days -- depending upon the application -- then check for swelling. <10% swelling is considered 'excellent', 10-20% is 'good'. BUT -- that is not the only concern. O-rings becoming dry/brittle and/or cracking is also a potential issue -- one that most of the YouTube testers do not check for, or if they do, they may not be able to see minute cracks. A durometer test is also performed. In short, just a lack of swelling does not necessarily mean it's A-OK.

    He also suggested that there may be environmental reasons why kerosene is no longer recommended.

    It occurred to him that perhaps RK is trying to sell their own chain cleaning product (or that of a specific mfr) but I told him that was not the case.

    WD-40 is not listed -- for the most part only chemicals are on the compatibility chart. So in order to determine compatibility it is necessary to find the MSDS sheets and check all ingredients for compatibility. Even if it is 'compatible' there is still the concern about it getting past the o-rings.

    For anyone looking for an alternative, he said the aerospace industry uses orange/citrus based cleaners where there is potential for contact with Nitrile o-rings.

    Dawn dish detergent is also OK.

    I asked about Simple Green and he said again that to be positive that it is compatible it is necessary to look up each ingredient.

    Their number is: 800-775-6525
    #39
  20. tag3

    tag3 Doofus

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    So, your saying to spray down the chain and wipe off the excess. WITHOUT CLEANING THE CHAIN. Got it.
    #40