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Sunday, 28 March 2010

Graham B's Top Tips, Part III.

Ok ya'll, here's another word or two from Graham B, our Top Tip man who writes books about Improving Classic Motorcycles and Speedometer Repair. Looks like he's getting his chain all spruced up and ready for summer...remember summer?

Linklyfing a chain, By Graham B.

I treat my final drive chains with a product called Linklyfe which I find gives very good protection and doesn’t fling off. I’m not sure if Linklyfe is still available but there is I believe a similar product called Castrol Chain Wax – if anyone has experience of both then it would be great to hear from you how the two compare.

My well used can of Linklyfe

As far as I’m aware, O or X ring chain is not suitable for treatment with Linklyfe as the heat may damage the O/X ring seals.

The trouble with oiling a chain is that it is easily washed off by rain. I find that Linklyfe stays on for much longer and one treatment will last for most of the winter.

Linklyfe comes as a solid in a shallow can that you heat to melt. The can acts as a bath to fully submerge the chain in. The following is the way I do it. You may have to adapt the procedure to suit your setup.

The bike is put on the centre stand in neutral so the rear wheel can be spun freely. Newspaper is put on the ground under the chain to stop chains picking up grit from the ground. The connecting link is removed and put somewhere safe where it won’t get mixed up with the connecting link of my spare old, worn out chain. Always keep an old chain, it’s not only handy for this job but for another I’ll describe at a later date. If you haven’t got a spare chain then you can still Linklyfe the chain but a spare saves time when it comes to threading the new one back over the gearbox sprocket.

The old chain is attached to the new one at the rear sprocket using the old chain’s
connecting link. The old chain is wound all the way onto both sprockets and secured with its connecting link.

The new chain’s connecting link is reconnected to one end only of the chain so it is not a loop but a long strand.

I use a rag that is already mucky enough to be destined for the bin to wipe as much of the dirt as possible off the chain. At this stage I either wash the chain in paraffin or cheat and go straight on to Linklyfing. The proper way is to wash every bit of grit out of the chain with paraffin so I make the decision of whether to wash based on how gritty the chain feels. Paraffin takes days to dry off. It may be ok to Linklyfe the chain with the paraffin still wet. I’m not sure about this, if it evaporates in the heat then no problem but it may dilute the Linklyfe it is submerged in.

I’ve made up a section of wire coat hanger to hang the chain from a garage roof beam while draining excess Linklyfe back into the can. This hook is attached to the chain by squeezing together the ends round the connecting link pivot. The hook stays attached throughout. Otherwise it’s quite tricky getting purchase on a hot chain when you
can’t see what you’re doing while it’s submerged in black Linklyfe.

A hook to hang the chain by made from a wire coat hangar

Squeeze the ends of the hook round the chain with pliers so it won’t come adrift while submerged.

Decide where you’re going to hang the chain. Hang the chain by the hook and cover the floor and the surrounding area under it with newspaper. There may be splashes later when the excess drips off the chain so the newspaper needs to cover a wide area. Place the open Linklyfe can centrally under the chain and mark the newspaper so you can replace the can in exactly the same spot. Try to make the length of the hook such that the end of the chain hangs no more than six inches above the can – this will minimise the distance any splashes travel.

Coil the chain loosely into a spiral and lay it on the yet to be melted Linklyfe with the end of the attached hook hanging outside the side of the tin so it will stay cool and dry while heating.

To carry the chain and can of molten Linklyfe I use molegrips locked tightly onto one side of the can and pliers on the other. Two sets of molegrips would be better if you
have two.

How to carry the can once it has been heated. Molegrips are best as they can be locked in place. If using pliers do not slacken your grip!

I suggest rehearsing carrying the can while it is cold from where it is to be heated to
where the chain is hung. Make sure the route is clear. If the molten Linklyfe is spilt it will be incredibly difficult to clean off of carpets as well as causing burns if you get it on yourself.

I heat the can on the kitchen stove, having closed all doors to the rest of the house. It gives off strong but non-toxic fumes as it is heated. You can heat it on a gas burner in the garage but make absolutely sure it is stable and won’t fall off the burner.

It may smoke a little as it is heated. But if it smokes a lot it may be nearing its flashpoint (450F) so back off the heat straight away. As the Linklyfe melts the chain will sink into it. The chain needs to be in the molten Linklyfe for five minutes, gently agitated by the hook and/or a screwdriver to ensure the Linklyfe finds its way into all the links. The chain needs to be in there long enough to reach the same temperature as the Linklyfe so that excess drains away when it is hung up. Pull it out too soon and the coating will be too heavy.

Turn off the heat, attach the molegrips and calmly carry the can and chain to the
chain hanging area. Position the can on the marks on the newspaper and without delay, pull the chain out of the molten mix using the hook and hang it up to drain. Be aware that the chain will be hot so use pliers to grab the chain if it has doubled up on itself and needs uncoiling.

If you have got the temperature of the Linklyfe just right then the chain comes out with an even and light coating – you should still be able to read the manufacturer’s name on the sideplates. If the Linklyfe was too cold, there may be some lumps of it on the chain. These can be removed using a very light application of a blowlamp and
they will dribble down the chain and off the end – don’t overdo this and melt
all the Linklyfe off the chain.

Leave the chain for an hour to cool and then remove the hook and refit to the bike. Double and triple check the spring clip of the connecting link is refitted the correct way round with the closed end facing the direction of travel (ie the closed end is nearest the engine when on the upper chain run). This is so that any brushing of the chain against the chainguard etc does not pull the spring clip off.

While we’re on the subject I suggest adding checking the spring clip to your weekly tyre pressure etc checks. If the spring clip falls off the connecting link will break soon
after so check the clip is there and fitted correctly.

A few spots of Linklyfe will be thrown off the chain in the first couple of journeys but after that it will settle down and be a much cleaner and better protecting alternative
to oil. And the chain will look like new, last longer and soak up less bhp !

The end result – a thin even coating that will make the chain last and last …

Thanks for your top tips Graham, can't wait for some more come next winter! You can find out more about Graham's books at


Bodger said...

This appears to work aand stick to a chain a lot better than the old spray stuff that I've used in the past. Too bad we cant get it here in the Colonies.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful stuff, Linklyfe. I used it on my bikes back in the 70's.
Do be very careful using it though, I remember spilling copious quantities of the stuff on Mother's cooker. It was a pig to clean off.
I'm sure Mrs B.C. would be mpressed!

Stuart :-)

Bantam Cub said...

Remember Linklyfe, but don't think it's still available. Try 'Putoline Chain Wax' which I think is similar (?)
[scroll down to get past the sprays]

U N said...

Great article, and brought back lots of happy memories. I had a tin of 'Honda Lubricants Chain Grease (made by Filtrate)', which was probably repackaged Linklyfe. I used this tin for at least 20 years until I gave it away after buying a bike with an 'O' ring chain. For all I know, It might still be in use!
You're lucky if you get away with using the kitchen stove - I got away with that once then was banished out to the shed with a camping stove!
There also used to be a Duckhams version in a pale blue tin, but the only grease I could find on the Web now is 'Putoline Chain Wax'. Google it to find suppliers.
Despite the picture on the tin, don't use Linklyfe on bicycle chains, it's too thick and the chain catches in the derailleur.
However, in this age of good modern chain sprays and Scottoilers, is it really worth the effort? Decent chain spray (like PJ1), allowed to dry overnight, will stay on even after two week, 85 mph trips across France, but I suppose boiling your chain gives you a greater degree of 'involvement' with you bike! You take your choice!


Gorgeous Biker Chick said...

Yay, keep those chain lubing comments coming people. I find the best way to oil the chain on Cubbie is to simply make sure there is oil in the tank, and as if by design, some of it will find its way to the chain sooner or later. Usually sooner, it has to be said.

PS I'm stuck on a train somewhere between Berwick and Edinburgh. Can someone please bring food. Been here for over 2.5hrs nows. Just been told we're going back to Berwick where we will get a bus to Edinburgh to continue our journey. I don't think so somehow - the last train north of Ed leaves in about an hour.


Anonymous said...

Did a search for Linklyfe and did'nt find it mentioned this side of the pond...but at there was a discussion about chains...and e3steve in Spain was talking about Linklyfe and how you could get it from a catologue on line at .I'm assuming that's a company in the U.K. He also talks about boiling the chain in water a couple of times to drive off grit and such...then hanging while steaming hot to dry...and then proceeding to the hot Linklyfe treatment. Just had this recollection of C3PO being dipped in a hot oil bath, maybe that was molten Linklyfe. I seem to remember a hot grease experiment or two my brother and I did after reading something in an old motorcycle manual. If I can get a tin of the stuff, I might give it a try. Bodger, I've got pics of 441's from the show in Santa Clara to send you. GBC, got cub pics to send to you. As soon as I can get to a computer to download them from the camera. Hairy Larry

U N said...

Hope you got home OK, or at least found somewhere reasonable to stay in Edinburgh.


Anonymous said...

Whats wrong with yer "4x4" that yer gettn the train.Hope you got home ok miss. Food, well buy your own for once! Anon 1067.
Ye will no get sympathy on yer blog.
Oh awrite then "poor wee soul" Will that do.

Gorgeous Biker Chick said...

For some reason, the company I work for, Anon 1067, prefer to pay the cheapest form of travel, and for a trip from Aberdeen to Leeds, I don't think that's gonna be a 4x4!

So the update is, I finally got to Aberdeen in a taxi at 3.30am this morning, after the previous taxi we were in crashed into the central reservation. ALl roads north are blocked, and I've missed breakfast.

Bodger said...

Good to see you made it back in one piece though slightly poorer for it after taking two taxis, with a prang up to boot!

Gorgeous Biker Chick said...

No cost on my part Bodger, Scot Rail are picking up the tab for the taxis, something like £120 for each taxi from Dundee to Aberdeen...and there were 4 in total... Someone will have to refund me for 2 nights in the hotel though, I ain't standing for that!

Thanks for chatting peeps, makes the time pass a bit quicker. Am on the Vodafone dongle the noo, which costs me, but only pennies, and then I've got free wifi at the hotel for the rest of the day / night so time should pass quite quickly. Mrs BC is at home slogging through the drifts to feed the sheep by herself, I feel really quite bad about that, but short of walking 45miles, there's nowt I can do!

Gorgeous Biker Chick said...

Its amazing how talking about something as simple as sticking a chain in a tin of molten wax can generate different views and opinions, and different products that people use in different countries.

Just heard from 'Our Graham' that he will do some more tips for us in the future, good man.

And just to update you on the snow situation, I'm in me hotel room again tonight and hope to get a bus home tomorrow and a lift the rest of the way. Just checked 3 weather forecasts...all different...hah, we shall see what happens in the morning.

Anonymous said...

Just read all the UK weather news at BBC mobile...sounds like winter is back with a vengeance. About 40 miles from my place it's snowing again, they had chain controls up this morning early...haven't watched the weather yet this evening , but imagine its blowing up there in the Sierras. Sounds like it's pretty rough in Scotland right about now. Stay warm and be safe, read about the tragic school bus accident over there.. so sad. Hairy Larry

And that plate of fish and chips must have been very tasty!


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