View Topic "UltraFast Chain Optimization Details and Formula"

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Posted By: Friction Facts
Total Posts: 46
Joined Date: Oct 18, 2012

Many requests have been received to share the UltraFast Optimization process in order for individuals and shops to condition chains themselves using the same or similar Friction Facts process.  This post contains the full details of the UltraFast Optimization, including step-by-step process, the formula, and DIY suggestions.

The UltraFast process is not highly technical or expensive, but it is very time consuming. The final formula for the Parrafin/Teflon/MoS2 was discovered by testing multiple commercially available lube bases.  Additionally, pure Teflon, pure MoS2, pure Graphite, and multiple types of wax, among other not-so common lubes were analyzed.  As the Paraffin/Teflon/MoS2 combination presented itself as the most efficient blend of the base lubes, that blend was then tweaked further by testing multiple variations of waxes and ratios of additives until the most efficient formula was identified.

The process used by Friction Facts incorporates relatively expensive run-in equipment and other equipment not commonly found in the shop or cyclists garage.  A DIY section with suggestions for optimizing a chain without special equipment is at the bottom of this post.

The UltraFast Chain Optimization process step-by-step:

 1) Chain is removed from packaging.

2) The chain is connected together using a Wipperman quick connect or lab-supplied removable pin.  Note- the Wipperman QC is asymmetrical.  It must be placed on the chain with the proper side towards the teeth of the cog/ring.

3) The chain is placed on the Full Load Apparatus for 1 hour (250W load, 95 RPM, 53T ring, 11T cog)

4) After the run-in, the chain is placed in an ultrasonic machine fully submerged in a bath of lacquer thinner and ultrasonically agitated for 10 minutes.

5) The chain is flipped over and agitated for an additional 10 minutes.

6) The chain is placed in a second US bath of denatured alcohol and agitated for 10 minutes

7) The chain is flipped over and agitated for an additional 10 minutes.

8) UltraFast Wax ingredients- 1 pound of household paraffin wax with a melting point of 140-150F, such as Gulf Paraffin.  5g pure Teflon (PTFE) powder (approx 2 teaspoons).  1g pure Molybdenum Disulfide (MoS2) powder.

9) The wax is melted and brought up to a temperature of approx 180F.

10) The PTFE and MoS2 are added to the wax. 

11) The PTFE will float on top of the wax due to the non-wetting characteristics of the material, and will resist dispersing in the wax.  A high speed mixer is used for homogenization of the wax and PTFE.  A basic milk frother works well.

12) The hot wax is poured into an ultrasonic machine.

13) The chain is heated to 225F in an oven.

13) The heated chain is submersed into the wax and agitated for 10 minutes. (note the ultrasonic machine is heated to maintain the temperature of the wax)

14) The chain is flipped over and agitated for an additional 10 minutes.

15) The chain is removed and hung vertically to cool.

16) The chain is placed on the Full Load Apparatus for 5 minutes at 250W. 

17) The Apparatus is slowed to 10RPM and pure PTFE is sifted onto the chain while it is rotating through the Full Load Apparatus.

18) The chain is run on the Full Load Apparatus for an additional 15 minutes.

19) The chain is removed and placed on the Full Tension Tester for verification of 5 watt performance and the screen shot is printed.

20) The Wipperman Quick Connect or removable pin is removed and the chain is packaged with original materials and is ready to be shipped.


DIY suggestions- 

As mentioned earlier, the process described above uses very specific equipment not typically found in a shop or cyclist’s garage.  A process is suggested below which can be performed with products found in the garage.  The most important parts of the process, lending to the highest efficiency gains, are noted.

Initial run-in period:  This is very important.  A simple run-in can decrease chain friction by 0.5 watts or more.  Friction Facts performs the run-in on the clean environmentally controlled lab equipment.  However, run-in can be performed by riding with a new chain for one or more hours on an indoor trainer or a very clean road surface.  One limitation of this DIY run-in is the fact that the chain could collect road grit if it is not performed on a trainer.  This grit could affect the final efficiency if the grit is not fully removed during cleaning and prior to waxing. If a trainer is not available, riding in the cleanest conditions possible for run-in is suggested.  Also, Friction Facts uses an 11T rear cog for run-in.  This small cog forces the chain to articulate at a greater angle, which in turn ‘polishes’ a greater angular section of the pins and sleeves.  If possible, perform the run in on the smaller cogs.

Use of a quick connect is suggested.  The chain must be fully removed from the bike for the waxing process, and then placed back on the bike.  A quick connect simplifies the removal and re-installation of the chain.  Also, by using a quick connect, it is easier to use the UltraFast chain just for race day, and then switch to a training chain when not racing.

After run-in, a second important aspect of the process is to thoroughly remove the factory lube, the chain self-contributing contaminants created during the run-in (ie, microscopic metal particles, any manufacturing by-products), and any road grit if a trainer is not used.  This cleaning removes the contaminants found between the sliding surfaces of the chain, and also preps the metal surfaces to receive the hot wax and create a strong physical bond.  In the lab, US cleaners work very well for this step.  For DIY, without US cleaners,  take a glass half-gallon drink container (or container made of a material resistant to the thinner), fill the container with 5 inches of lacquer thinner, then drop the chain into the container.  Attach a string to the chain for easy retrieval.  Physically shake and agitate the container to clean the chain.  It is speculated that this physical agitation should work almost or even as well as the US.  Repeat this cleaning process with denatured alcohol to ensure the chain is completely stripped.

Lacquer thinner is not user friendly and requires proper disposal.  However, this solvent works well to completely strip the factory lube and leave the chain residue-free.  Any other chain cleaning product and cleaning method could work also as long as the end result is a fully cleaned, fully stripped, residue-free chain.

The UltraFast Wax Formula-  In order to determine the most efficient formula, many custom blends of waxes, PTFE, MoS2, and graphite were analyzed.  The blend (containing the respective levels of additives described in the section above) is the most efficient lube tested in the Friction Facts lab, at the time this post is being written.  Pure paraffin, without using the PTFE and MoS2, can also be used as an alternative for DIY.  However, the chain will not be as efficient without the additives.  The additives decrease friction by an additional 0.25 to 0.50 watts when compared to pure paraffin alone.  Various waxes were tested, including high melt temp paraffin.  Standard household Gulf Paraffin Wax tested most efficient, and should be used.

Waxing the chain- A double boiler, crock pot, or fondue pot can be used to melt the wax.  Wax vapor is flammable.  Caution should be used when preparing the wax.   PTFE and MoS2 can be mixed in to the wax with a whisk or electric milk frother.  In the lab, US machines are used to infuse the hot wax into the chain links.  If a US machine is not available, it is speculated that submersing the chain in the liquid wax and stirring the chain for several minutes would allow the wax to fully penetrate the links, but this has not been confirmed by testing.  In the lab the chains are heated to 225F prior to submersing in the wax.  By using pre-heated chains, the wax can infuse the links immediately upon submersing.  If pre-heating is not performed, the wax will harden on the outer surfaces of the cooler chain upon submersing.  The wax will then have to transfer heat to the chain before infusion can occur.

After stirring the chain in the hot wax for several minutes, the chain can be removed, hung vertically, and allowed to cool completely.  After cooling, the chain can be installed on the bike.  A 30 minute pre-race run-in will loosen up the chain. 

The final sifting of PTFE increases the efficiency slightly.  This step can be skipped if PTFE and MoS2 are not going to be used.

It is speculated that this DIY method, without using special equipment, should produce a chain with friction losses within a half watt or so of a Friction Facts lab produced UltraFast Chain.

Posted : Dec 11, 2012

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View Topic "UltraFast Chain Optimization Details and Formula"