Chain lubrication (alternatives)

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Chains as power transmission can be found as an alternative to cardan drives, connecting rods and V-belts , in machines and transmissions, but also in bicycles. They can be found as drive elements in conveyor belts, under construction machinery and tanks. Chains generally require lubrication to reduce wear. There are the following alternatives:

Fat pack

Before use, the chain is provided with an internal, and possibly external, grease pack. which provides lubrication for a certain operating time. If the grease pack is reduced during ongoing operation or washed out by chain cleaning, the chain must be replaced or the packing or lubrication renewed.

Manual oiling

The chain is oiled from the outside regularly or if necessary, the oil runs through the capillary effect (creep effect) into the inside of the chain when properly oiled . This can be done by hand (lubricating can, spray oil), with an oil bath, oil rump or in another way. The use of lubricating oil usually requires a shorter interval compared to the grease pack, but it can also be replaced more easily, even with the chain installed, with little effort by hand or by machine. Bicycle chains may only be greased with special lubricants. Ordinary oil destroys today's modern circuit chains.

Oil bath

The chain runs in whole or in part through an oil bath and submerges in the oil. This is the most thorough type of oiling, usually accompanied by an encapsulation of the chain. Chains in an oil bath also achieve a high mileage due to the encapsulation (dirt stays outside). One example is the chain mileage at Heinkel Tourist , which according to some sources reached 50,000 km or more. In gearboxes, this is a common form of lubrication. In four-stroke engines , the chain that drives the camshaft (s) is lubricated with engine oil.


Oiler on a steam engine

An oiler supplies the running chain continuously or periodically with new oil and lubricant, dripping or spraying. Simple oilers are often found on larger stationary machines, e.g. B. steam engines or machine tools. Oil systems (automatic lubrication systems) are, however, also available for mobile machines, locomotives such as construction machines, or are installed here. The Lubmatic is an oiler for bicycles .

Surrounding medium

A chain can be lubricated by the surrounding medium by using suitable materials in the chain and track. This is used where regular lubrication is difficult or impossible due to the effort or the associated lubricants. Some treadmills in the food industry are kept functional with water, others with the abrasion of the chain tracks.

Even on bicycles, snow or organic material can poorly clean a dirty or rusty chain or make it passable for a few meters.


  1. Chain maintenance on bicycles - myths, legends, nonsense


  • Richard Hallet, Gerhard Brown (photos): Bicycle maintenance-care-repair. (Original title: Cycle maintenance , translated by Klaus G. Erdbrügger), BVA, Bielefeld 2003, ISBN 3-87073-308-X .
  • Rob van der Plas: Bicycle repairs made easy. First aid for at home and on the go, BVA Bielefelder Verlaganstalt, Bielefeld 2006 (first edition 1996), ISBN 3-87073-185-0 .
  • Jörg Urban, Jürgen Brück: Bicycle repairs, maintenance and breakdown assistance. Gondrom, Bindlach 2007, ISBN 978-3-8112-2938-9 .