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Primary chain lubrication

I’ve been reading up on belt drive conversions for my Norton Dominator but decided to stick to a chain. One thing that struck me was that as the belts run dry then the clutch bearing is grease lubricated rather than relying on the chaincase oil.

This then made me wonder if the primary chain could be lubricated by linklife before installing and then maintained by spraying with an aerosol in a similar way to a rear chain?

This would then do away with the inevitable oil leak from the tin chaincases and also the occasional clutch slip under heavy acceleration.
It sounds too simple a solution so I must be missing something.

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Someone I knew tried it on a Commando in the 70s. Chain didn't last long. The problem we decided was the speed of the chain so the Linklyfe was thrown off, certainly the inside of the primary cover was covered in the stuff. Also, the chain ran hot which might simply have aided the flinging off of the lube but might have affected the wear too.

Remember that the clutch bearing is only spinning when the clutch is pulled in so a sealed bearing will last a long time.

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The oil is doing a cooling job too.,a sealed clutch bearing only comes with an expensive clutch.I have heard that some get on fine with regularly spraying the chain with lube ,Not for me . If you have the patience a case can be 99% leak proofed.

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I tried running a dry primary and lubed the chain with chain lube.  After 500 miles I had to adjust the chain, at just over 2000 miles the chain was knackered - maybe a bad chain - but I went back to oil in the primary soon after.

When I spoke to Andy the chain man he said it was because the chain is not supposed to be run at 7000 rpm on the engine sprocket with only chain lube.

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Back in the  1970s, I was given a large drum of low melting point grease and decided to experiment with it as an alternative to the oil in my primary drive which was messing up the road outside the houses of people that I was visiting regularly on my 99.

To my surprise this conversion actually worked. When cold the grease was solid so did not drip out of the cases and once the engine warmed up it melted and lubed the chain.

The plan went to pieces, one day, during a long run between Portsmouth and Weymouth when the clutch began slipping. No prizes for guessing what had happened!!!

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The Manx which have no chaincase relies on a drip feed of oil to the primary chain. I've not figured out yet about clutch roller bearing life. I don't think modern race regulations allow drip feed on the chain, so I spray chain lube on the chain. Most seems to fly around so I clean and respray when back in the pits. A price to pay for keeping it original. On chain life I can't tell yet, but I know that my Manx had a chain break at the last lap in the -62 Junior TT. The dents on the chain guard confirms it.

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I have read up a bit on chains, it appears they were never intended to suffer the abuse we give them. They should be running at a constant speed on fixed centers over decent sized sprockets with constant lubrication. Some of the early scooters almost met these conditions and the chains last forever. So its just our badly designed bikes that's the trouble.

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I'm pretty sure Robert's remark is why Renold pulled out of marketing motorbike chains.  Their business is in industrial chains - with a huge variety of types and sizes -and they don't approve of putting anything up to a hundred or more HP through an exposed chain, especially one as small as that needed on a bike.  It's so far outside any reasonably rational chain design they left the business to others.

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hello  all you need is Lucas primary chaincase oil  made for H-D big twins  just try it and see  yours  anna j

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I use Lucas products on my shaft Drive Kawasaki's; Helps Quieten Noisy Gears Oil Sae 75W/140 Manual Transmission Lubricant Additive

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    When I was at school my father's daily transport was a 1951 Norton model 18 and sidecar. We never had much money so any expense on the bike was only when necessary. Every summer dad would take out a loan so we could go for a holiday on the outfit, usually to Devon/Cornwall and one year to the Lake District. With mum, dad, my sister and myself and our luggage, the all-up weight was about 9cwt. We climbed hills such as Porlock, Lynton and the Kirkstone Pass all courtesy of the standard 1/2" x 5/16" primary chain and I don't ever recall being stranded by a broken chain. So what's happened nowadays ?

 The Edgar Franks oil-bath chaincase is quite often maligned as a problem, but before you write it off, have you had a good look at it ? Most people concentrate on the outer cover as being the reason for the leak, but the main culprit is often the back cover. You need to strip all the side off to check the following...... engine breather collecting oil behind the case, loose or missing rivets on the bottom bracket (often over-looked), back chaincase worn through by chain rub or cracked because of vibration. Anything metal whizzing around is going to be difficult to keep oiled and although not the best chaincase, it can do the job.

 

I use to love all the adverts for British industry and products in the TT Magazines.

Was it not also that competitors came along who could manufacture chain cheaper, though the quality may have been not as good, Renold's apparently refused to certify their chains to ISO standards as their products were considered of a higher quality than the standard proscribed, and the Market was fickle.

I have some Perry's chain somewhere, I don't know anything about it as yet!

 

http://www.toogood.org/chains/chains_facts.htm

 

John

Hi Phil, couldn't you have used the circular shield from an earlier Norton clutch to shield the plates from the flying grease?

This then could have been a successful mod and caught on and be cheaper than the Belt conversion option!

It would have been known as the Hannam Grease Conversion!

 

 

John

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Hello now the chainman  tells us that Renolds chains are made in France  and their crap compared to the British ones I use the best America Chains  Diamond chains  Indianapolis USA  you can still buy them if you look  and they have a good long life hard waring  tested in 200-mile desert runs  these are the toughest races in the world  so when you buy a chain buy a good one     yours  anna j   

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See my attachment!

What about Perry's chains of Regina?

 

Can you get Diamond chains without being ripped off by the Customs and Post Office?

 

John

In reply to by john_hall11

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hello yes  see RGM MOTORS  THEY HAVE SOME IN STOCK  BOY'O  But good chains are not cheap  Yours  Anna J

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Having used Renold chains for over 50 years, I have noticed no difference in how long they last. What does ruin them is road salt. One winter's commuting and you need a new chain, regardless of how often you lubricate it or what make it is.

I did once ride the pre '65 Scottish using a non-Renolds chain supplied by a reputable dealer. I had to adjust it before every section. Not impressed.  

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I can see a possible advantage of belts, because a chain can be subject to vibrational harmonics at certain resonances, but if the engine is spot on and well set up, perhaps for the most part the rough vibrational harmonics patches can be avoided, plus the oil is cooling and lubricating the chain and probably aids in engine cooling too!

 

However, a chain will rarely snap!

 

 

John 

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What about O-ring or X-ring chains? Maybe size is the problem for that suggestion? Mind you, if you get the chain case to hold oil the problem goes away, assuming you have good quality chain.

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The way forward with chains is to seal them with 'X 'or 'O' rings. Back in the last 60s and 70s I used to get 8 to 10 thousand miles out of a Renolds rear. No chance of that anymore. In the 80s & 90s 'O' rings became the favourite and I must admit that despite being twice the price of a standard chain,  I was getting up to 30 thousand miles from a good brand.

John mentioned a name from the past in an earlier posting - Perry Chain. This was a very basic industrial chain that was used by many factories to operate moving belt systems. It seemed to come in boxes of 25ft lengths. My job at each yearly service was to renew all the factory chains and dump  the old ones plus all the odd lengths that were left over. Which by coincidence were 1/2" x 0.305". For around 10 years I never bought a replacement primary chain.

Perry also supplied boxed lengths of smaller 3/8 x 5/32" chains which of course were magneto chain size. The problem with these being the side plates were so thick they were around 50% wider than the equivalent Renolds. Of interest was that every box had a warning sticker informing of the max revs the respective chains were suitable for....All under 5000rpm!!!

John re your clutch basket shield. Good suggestion.....just 50 years too late!!!

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As I understand it they're not designed for the higher speeds that primary chains run at.

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Regarding the rear chain, it may be that it isn't the chains that are not as good as they were, but the lubricants that are available for them nowadays.  As the vast majority of bikes now come with o-ring chains, the lubricants supplied are only needed for, and designed to to go between the roller and the outside of the bush, a relatively high surface area for its size. Chain wear (as we measure it) is the wear between the pins and the bush, a much smaller area, the bit an o-ring keeps grease in. 1, this is more difficult for the spray grease to get to,  and 2, it is loaded for 70% of the time, not just while it is entering and exiting the sprockets. Less and inadequate lube + load =  more wear.

Regards,  George. 

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A Scottoiler could be a sensible fit. Drips oil exactly where it is needed in small quantities,  chaincase catches the excess, Scottoil is quite high viscosity so should be easy to contain. Pipe could be fed through the hole where the wires go in/out. Flow stops when not running...has it been tried?

Regards, George 

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I have in the past removed rear chain,washed in petrol then bathed in hot linklife , An occasional brush with some ep90 till it looks gritty then start again. I became the keeper of an Immac Honda 1000 ,all looked perfect. rear chain appeared well adjusted ,waxed but a little dry to me. I checked the Honda book, EP 90 recommended.I brushed on some. Went for a 50 mile burble, Came back and found the chain hanging loose,very loose. The EP90 had found its way into the stiff (waxed) chain links and actually LUBRICATED it. So much for chain wax. Ep 90 is a bit messy but its doing the job. My son ran a big Yamaha and fitted a Scottoiler , End of wear and maintenance, I have now fitted the Scottoiler to the 99 . I expect I will have to check the reservoir once a year.Since getting the primary to hold oil I don't think about it at all.

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hello well I use for the rear chain  a coloured chain grease  on my bikes mostly gold  witch does two jobs in one go  looking good and well lubricated  yours  anna j 

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The point we are making is that  chains need lubrication ,to stop rust, to clear away contaminents,to keep cool and to provide free movement . In ideal conditions a chain can be 99% efficient . Our simple chain needs lubricant to get inside . A spray of wax will not do that. I doubt a brushed on coat of grease will do that. A foaming spray grease that solidifies will work,but will collect grit. A constant supply of oil is the best. An oil bath provides that, An efficient oiler is 2nd best.I now have both on my 99,  Happy daze!!. All I need now is a dry clutch inside the oil bath. Just like the one on the Rudge Ulster.

 

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