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Does WD40 hurt o-rings? A test....

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A perennial question for those of us who like to clean our chains with WD40 is: does WD40 do damage to the rubber o-ring?

I've heard enough guys say "I've been cleaning my o-ring chains with WD40 since 1815 and I've never had a problem" (or something to that effect) that I've just gone ahead and used WD40 on my chains and not worried about it.

But last month, I found myself sitting in the garage with an o-ring, some WD40, and a camera -- and I conceived of a grand test that would NOT answer the question once and for all. But I figured I'd do it anyway.

I would soak an o-ring in WD40 for a month and see what happened.

Here's the WD40:

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On February 18, 2008, I took an o-ring from a Regina master link and put it in a little pool of WD40.

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I checked on the o-ring a couple of days later. It looked fine. It hadn't dissolved or anything.

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After the o-ring had been soaking in the WD40 for over a week, I pulled it out and checked on its elasticity. As far as I could tell, the rubber was holding up well. After being stretched out, it returned to its original shape just fine. I then freshened up the WD40 and left the o-ring to soak some more.

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Tonight I realized it had been about a month that the little o-ring had been soaking in WD40. Time to put this "experiment" to an end. I stretched the o-ring out again to see if it had lost any of its elasticity or if it would deform. From what I could tell, the little o-ring was just fine after nearly 30 full days soaking in WD40.

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So if the function of the o-rings in an o-ring chain is to keep water and dirt off the roller pins and to hold the grease in place, it looks like the o-ring rubber is not affected by WD40 in a way that would inhibit it from doing its job. And, of course, if you're wiping your chain down with a WD40 soaked rag or even spraying the chain directly with WD40, the exposure of the o-rings to WD40 is nowhere near what the o-ring in this little test was exposed to.

You too can have this kind of fun by devising your own o-ring tests and posting the results online. Now that I think of it, I find myself very curious about the effects of a propane torch flame on o-ring rubber. Would it last a month?

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I always use both WD-40 AND chain lube. After a bike wash I air dry the chain then spray down with a light coat of WD-40. Let sit for about 10 minutes then spray down a nice coat of chain lube. My chain has been on my bike now for almost 2 full seasons of MX racing plus all my regular desert riding with little to no stretch or tight links.

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Thanks Ill sleep better at night now. Just kidding,thats awesome,I have wondered about that myself.Thnks for sharing!!!! :confused:

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Applying a controlled scientific method to a common application. Now that's discovery channel stuff right there! :confused:

I have also wondered if the WD40 would be sufficient lubricant for the chain or is it just a good top-coat/cleaner but the chain still requires additional lubrication. Heck I use the stuff to lubricate just about everything mechanical thing I own... but never really depended on it for my chains. Hmmmm :excuseme:

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why would anybody have thought wd-40 would hurt o-rings? I've never heard of that before. That stuff would't hurt anything I know of.

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How dare you try to bring facts and logic to this arguement. You some kinda wiseguy? How do you know the o-ring wouldn't have disolved on day 31.

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Applying a controlled scientific method to a common application. Now that's discovery channel stuff right there! :confused:

I have also wondered if the WD40 would be sufficient lubricant for the chain or is it just a good top-coat/cleaner but the chain still requires additional lubrication. Heck I use the stuff to lubricate just about everything mechanical thing I own... but never really depended on it for my chains. Hmmmm :excuseme:

I don't think you'll find anyone that'll say it's good enough for a chain lube.

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I don't think you'll find anyone that'll say it's good enough for a chain lube.

Once the WD40 has done it's job cleaning and protecting... what is the preferred chain lube to apply? I've been using ChainWax for a while (a few years) but no experiment to indicate how well it is performing. Thoughts?

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I believe WD40 is more of a 'solvent' than a 'lubricant' and therefor may get behind the o-ring into the roller and dissolve the grease that's in there. If the grease gets thin enough to run out, the chain will be history in no time.

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I have always prefered to use kerosene to clean my chains but used WD40 many times last year as it was easier to use at the time.

This really isn't a chain lube, but its what I've been using lately and I like it even better than maxima chain wax-

http://www.webbikeworld.com/t2/motorcycle-chain-lube/dupont-teflon-chain-lube.htm

Thanks for the review, I wish more people in the motorcycling world would see it. There is a guy on another forum that only cleaned his chain with WD40 on his street bike, and it lasted him over 30,000 miles (OEM chain).

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The "WD" in WD40 stands for water displacement. Based on that and without any other knowledge I would gather that it might dry rubber out as well. But after using it for just about everything for many years I wouldn't hesitate to use it soley as chain lube.

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The O and X ring used in motorcycle chains is not rubber, it's chemical resistant Nitrile. Although I wouldn't recommend it, you could soak the chain in gasoline and it wouldn't hurt it.

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Thanks.. I start use WD40 on my Chain 6 months ago, I spray the chain every time I use the DRZ and it seems working good. But now I'm really quiet!

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why would anybody have thought wd-40 would hurt o-rings? I've never heard of that before. That stuff would't hurt anything I know of.

Every motorcycle parts salesperson I've talked to at dealers has said this. Why? Because they want you to spend $7.95 on their "specialized" chain lube as opposed to $2.97 at wally world for a can of good old WD-40.

I've used WD-40 on my WR 450f's chain since it was new and guess what? 800 miles later the chain looks like the day I bought it and it is not stiff or kinked up.

Before that, I put almost 2500 miles on my old TT-R 250 servicing the chain with nothing more than WD-40...no ill effects.

I've come to realize the most important thing in chain maintenence is to clean the chain completely and then oil it so that no rust forms on it. Especially true after muddy rides.

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Every motorcycle parts salesperson I've talked to at dealers has said this. Why? Because they want you to spend $7.95 on their "specialized" chain lube as opposed to $2.97 at wally world for a can of good old WD-40.

I've used WD-40 on my WR 450f's chain since it was new and guess what? 800 miles later the chain looks like the day I bought it and it is not stiff or kinked up.

Before that, I put almost 2500 miles on my old TT-R 250 servicing the chain with nothing more than WD-40...no ill effects.

I've come to realize the most important thing in chain maintenence is to clean the chain completely and then oil it so that no rust forms on it. Especially true after muddy rides.

I guess I could see why they would say that. But here in North Dakota, I've used WD-40 my whole life on my rubber door seals on vehicles after we wash them in the winter so the doors don't freeze shut. Doors won't stick to the rubber with the stuff on them. The only thing I could say negative about using it on your chain right before you ride is that it is pretty thin and most of it might fly off, however a large percentage will get down inside really fast with a non-o'ring chain.

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Automatic transmission fluid works really well also

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I believe WD40 is more of a 'solvent' than a 'lubricant' and therefor may get behind the o-ring into the roller and dissolve the grease that's in there. If the grease gets thin enough to run out, the chain will be history in no time.

:confused:

Its when it gets by the o-ring that it causes the problem not the o-ring itself. Its the same as using a pressure washer and water gets by the o-ring. The problem with wd-40 is as mentioned above it will break down grease which is the sealed ingrediant behind the o-ring that makes this type chain work so well. If you would like to test this theory, use wd-40 to clean things like grease, glue etc.... and see how well it works.

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If it gets past the orings they are worn out anyway.

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