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Chain cleaning and storage

Brewz

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After a day using the saw, I always clean the saw out and check it for issues.

I was looking at my chains I have sitting around and was wondering what people do to clean them up and store them between uses.

I am mainly concerned with my new 42" bar and chain.
It won't be used often and with 135 links of Stihl chain being a fair investment here in Australia, I would like to keep it in good condition.

What do you go to lean chains after use when they are gunned up with muck, and how do you store them ?
 

CR888

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Spray with caustic base cleaner, let sit for few mins (maybe brush with brittle brush if badly gummed up), rinse, grinder, snap lock samich bag with lil squirt wd-40 and label with sharpie. Sharp & ready to go for next time. I won't file grind during the day rather switch to fresh ground chain when dull, at end of day I grind ALL chains and store so ya ready to go next day/time. Between top handles, polesaws, and many worksaws I easily have over 100 chains in circulation. Wear eye protection and try not to breathe the caustic spray as it really cleans the sinuses.lol
 

Brewz

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I always keep a spare chain with me for each saw I am using but like to touch the chain up with a single file stroke every tank or 2 while cutting to keep it sharp.
Gives me a chance to cool off.
A 10 minute break in the shade is welcome in 30 to 40 deg c heat.

It is the gum and gunk on the chain I am interested in removing before putting chains away.

I am also going to make a hanger rack to hold my bars up on the wall in stead of laying around in the garage.

Also gunna make a spot I can sit the power heads and set up a chain to make them a bit harder to pick up and walk away with
 

CR888

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Stihl has one, not sure about oven cleaner but the box of spray bottles I bought is made by Solo and everything is written in German.:( But the smell and strength of it, makes me figure it's caustic base. There is many citrus based cleaners and stuff but they are useless compared to the strong stuff, even heavy sap/gum that won't come off unless you wire brushed it (not good idea) dissolves straight off and all you need to do is rinse with water. I usually just clean with compressed air and grind but sometimes you find really sappy wood that builds up and binds the chain, that's when they get the treatment.
 

Brewz

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Mmmm, I have some really good cleaner that I used in my home brewery to dissolve buildup.
I recon that would work and its very safe to use as well.

I remember dropping a 20 year old baking tray with stuff oven cleaner wouldn't move all built up under the the lip.
It melted off like tar after a 10 min soak.

I will give it a go and report back on how it goes.
 

CR888

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The right stuff disolves that plant gum near instantly and a rinse of water sends it down the sink. Your chains will have that new polished shiny glimmer and move freely better than new. Good for similar build up on hedge trimmer blades and inside mower decks too.
 

Brewz

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Tonight I tried the stuff I used to use in my home brewery.

Its called PBW. It worked great and is safe, biodegradable etc etc.

IMG_1894.jpg

Here is the dirty chain. I just hate storing chains like this.
135 links of Stihl chain cost me about $100 so I plan to look after it if its going to be used occasionally.

IMG_1890.jpg

Added a teaspoon of PBW to enough hot tap water to cover the chain.
15 minutes soaking and it looked like this.

IMG_1891.jpg

What was left on there was soft and loose so I dropped it in the laundry tun and brushed it down with a soft brush under clean warm water to take off all the soft stuff.

IMG_1892.jpg

Blew it off with compressed air, hit it with some WD-40 and blew it off again to push the oil in all the gaps.
The chain now looks like it did when I brought it home new.
Its also not a "sticky" as it was and the links move freely.

very happy!

IMG_1893.jpg
 

Wolverine

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After sawing up 50 + soaking wet apple trees, our (my son and I) chains were full of gummy sap/resin. I soak 'em in hot water with purple power for a few hours then brush them off, like the above pic. Then they get rinsed off in hot water really good, hung very close to the wood stove if possible to dry, if not compressed air does the job. Then a thorough soaking w/ WD for storage.
k2-_d1989d2b-b4d1-48b8-a2e8-58ee6a17febb.v1.jpg
 

Philbert

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I have tried a number of things - I clean up chains for some disaster response groups, and have also scrounged/salvaged/rehabilitated a large number of chains. Some are pretty gunked up.

A simple way is to stretch out a loop of chain against a nail or screw in a board, on a bench, spray it with WD-40, and hit it with a stiff brush.

If you have a parts cleaner for other mechanical work, that is also an option. Some guys use their ultrasonic parts cleaners (USC).

Normally I will use a commercial, water-based degreaser. They are not all the same: read the labels. The ones with sodium hydroxide (lye) work the fastest and the best. I submerge the chain for a few minutes to let it soak (I don't like using the spray cleaners that put that stuff in the air). I use old tooth brushes, and sometimes, a small stainless steel scratch brush (looks like a tooth brush; found at welding supply stores) for any stubborn stuff or light, surface rust.

I rinse well in clean water, then dry in an oven at 150 to 200 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes on an old cookie sheet to get all the moisture out.

Then I repair, debut, or sharpen as needed, ad spray them down well with WD-40 to relube up around the rivets.

I don't do this every time, and I try to do chains in batches. Takes 2 or 3 minutes per chain, aside from the oven and sharpening time.

Philbert
 
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Philbert

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Here are some photos I posted previously on another site:

SuperClean is one brand of water based degreaser with sodium hydroxide that I use. There are other brands. This costs me about $8/gallon and gets diluted 50:1 or so. I use it until it turns black and no longer works. Cut down jug for soaking. Small basin for rinsing. I do this in a deep laundry tub, wearing protective gloves and goggles, to minimize splashing other stuff.
Super Clean.jpg

Wire brushes, I like the second one from the right, but a used toothbrush gets most of it off.
wire brushes.jpg

Used cookie sheets from garage sales to keep things separate, clean, and promote domestic tranquility.
cookie sheet oven.jpg

WD-40 tray: another used cookie sheet lined with an absorbent shop towel. I bought a gallon several years ago and use the pump sprayer - it is more economical, and lets me concentrate it on the chain, and not put it up into the air.
WD-40 Tray.jpg


Philbert
 

Locust Cutter

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So what is wrong w/using a wire wheel to de-gunk, assuming you're going to sharpen the chain immediately afterwards?
 

Philbert

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So what is wrong w/using a wire wheel to de-gunk, assuming you're going to sharpen the chain immediately afterwards?
A wire wheel will remove some heavy gunk on the outside, but it will not clean in between the links, etc., as well as the chemicals/ solvents. Cleaning that gunk out, then re-lubing after sharpening, helps the chain flow smoothly.

Philbert
 

Wilhelm

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After a day using the saw, I always clean the saw out and check it for issues.

I was looking at my chains I have sitting around and was wondering what people do to clean them up and store them between uses.

I am mainly concerned with my new 42" bar and chain.
It won't be used often and with 135 links of Stihl chain being a fair investment here in Australia, I would like to keep it in good condition.

What do you go to lean chains after use when they are gunned up with muck, and how do you store them ?
I have yet to catch myself "cleaning" a chain loop!
However much a loops gunks up while cutting certain wood types, I know it will "self clean" itself while cutting fresh oak, beech or hornbeam - so why bother cleaning it in the first place?

I cut wood, sharpen the chain when deemed necessary, and just put the loops away being mounted on the saw or hung up on the wall.

What needs be said is that I have only about 8 loops of chain in use for four saws, that makes things relatively worry free for me.

Once I incorporate the usage of some new loops I acquired (PowerSharp and carbide tipped), I'll just make sure that the stored loops are oily enough so they don't rust!
 

Philbert

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I know it will "self clean" itself while cutting fresh oak, beech or hornbeam - so why bother cleaning it in the first place?
Some of us could wear the same clothes for a long time, as long as it is 'our stink' - would not want to put on someone else's clothes that had not been washed in a long time. Same thing with chains - if it is your own dirt, less of a problem than someone else's.

When I get used chains, l like to be able to inspect them - can't see a lot of things. Posted some examples in an A.S. thread:
http://www.arboristsite.com/community/threads/philberts-chain-salvage-challenge.245369/

On a clean chain, I can see cracks, rust, improvised repairs, etc. Also, a clean chain will oil better, and keep gunk out of my grinder, etc. Running through beech will not clean out around the rivets and between the tie straps, etc.

Philbert
 

Wolverine

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so why bother cleaning it in the first place?
When you chainsaw mill, it really can gunk up chains. It's not something I do every day, week, month. So after finishing the log, instead of letting the gummed up chain sit as is, it's best to clean it. Wish I had a pic, if you've never seen it you'd understand.
 

Wilhelm

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Some of us could wear the same clothes for a long time, as long as it is 'our stink' - would not want to put on someone else's clothes that had not been washed in a long time. Same thing with chains - if it is your own dirt, less of a problem than someone else's.

When I get used chains, l like to be able to inspect them - can't see a lot of things. Posted some examples in an A.S. thread:
http://www.arboristsite.com/community/threads/philberts-chain-salvage-challenge.245369/

On a clean chain, I can see cracks, rust, improvised repairs, etc. Also, a clean chain will oil better, and keep gunk out of my grinder, etc. Running through beech will not clean out around the rivets and between the tie straps, etc.

Philbert

When you chainsaw mill, it really can gunk up chains. It's not something I do every day, week, month. So after finishing the log, instead of letting the gummed up chain sit as is, it's best to clean it. Wish I had a pic, if you've never seen it you'd understand.
It is a matter of ones usage!
I exclusively use new brand loops without fixes on them, and any misuse could only come from me.
Also my few "in use" chains rarely gunk up, nor do I really grind my chains.

I understand the need to clean up chains that were in somebody else's use, or chains that get dirty from a specific usage (milling) - nothing wrong with that!
I just don't encounter such situations, or it is a extremely rare occurrence.

My post was not meant to offend or criticize anybody, I just outed my usage behavior.

This chain gunked up by pear because I finished the job at hand with it been completely dull, I sharpened the loop and it cleaned itself to a shine while cutting other wood.
DSC00194.JPG DSC00196.JPG

I'm off to work, cheers!
 

CR888

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Some species have sap that forms a black tar like build up on my chains, sure noodling a cleaner round can clean it up to an extent but I often don't have that nice round of wood all the time. Most times a blast of compressed air is all they get before going on the grinder but when the nasty sap is on thick a chemical soak, srub with coarse brush and rinse is needed so they don't clog up my pink grinding wheels. I have lots of loops of chain in various gauges, pitches & drive link count. They are always sharp and ready to go filed away in my chain draw, at the end of a days cutting any chains used get ground and put away. I don't want to be grinding chain before work, that's more annoying than doing it at the end of the day.
 

Brewz

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It must be the sap in the eucalyptus.

I guess that's why they call them gum tree's

After I cut green ironbark, there is a red/brown layer on everything that sets hard like an enamel layer and only a hot chemical bath or a file will remove it.
 
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