Author Topic: Throw out unused White Lightning Cold Wax today. Do it now!  (Read 3215 times)

Andre Jute

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During the lockdowns I bought six new watches for my collection, which was getting a bit expensive, so I switched to collecting folding pocket knives, which arrived with the latest collector-fashion: slip joint back springs so harsh, they couldn't be called anything but nail-breakers. I operate a keyboard for a living so, while I'm in a sense a manual worker, my fingernails aren't tough at all. The first reaction with a knife blade that is stiff to open is to check that the Chinese workmen who made it cleaned out the grinding gunge between the blade and the liner, a simple procedure of putting light oil into the "hinges" of the knife, between the slip joint formed by the corners on the tang-end of the blade and the back spring, which is in concept just a piece of flat metal (in practice it is shaped to be wider where the axle on which it pivots is located, and at the other end to fill in what would otherwise be an ugly empty space), and then working the blade until only clean oil comes out. But this is a fraught procedure, because the same Chinese who forego cleaning the knife properly (or at all) before delivery, also sharpen it.

Into this conundrum steps a piece of cycling lore. Until I switched to first the Utopia Country (a sort of superior, silent, but also fragile Chainglider) and then Chaingliders, I used those big, clanking Dutch plastic fully enclosed chain cases, and inside them as chain lubrication, I used White Lightning Cold Wax. What the wax would do was to flow on its own dilutants into the crevices between the component parts of the chain and surround, literally, the small specks of ground steel and aluminium, carry them out, conglomerate with other wax-surrounded specks of "dirt", and then fall off as a greyish ball into the bottom of the Dutch chain case. This process also left the chain clean and feeling waxy, and my bikes ran smoothly and as near to silently as the clanky chain cases permitted. Note, if you're reading about the benefits of White Lightning for the first time, that the chain case was part of service-system -- without the chain case I wouldn't have touched White Lightning or any wax lube because I live in Ireland where rain soon washes off such fancy treatments -- "soon" being relative to such known-sticky lubes as Oil of Rohloff; the chain case cut services to once every 6-14 rides instead of after every ride on an open chain.

So, I reckoned, instead of putting light oil into knives' works and working the slip joint a thousand times to lighten it up, I'd put White Lightning into the joint, let the wax dry, then work the blade a few times, all the black gunge would fall out as little gray balls of wax, the metal would be waxed, and Bob would be my uncle. And, as it happened, I had a bottle of White Lightning of which only a little had been used and I knew where it was stored.

The bottle, or what remained of it, stood in a tub with some other long-since disused lubes and oils. The plastic bottle crumbled away to my touch. The insides was a hard waxy substance which didn't respond to heat and didn't melt in artists' high-purity spirits. It was not difficult to conclude that whatever solvent kept the White Lightning liquid leached out of the plastic. It still smelt like something that starts with fluoro- though I don't know what. I kept a chunk of the white stuff in my study while I tested a few small broken-off pieces in i a little bottle of alcohol.

During this process, each day after lunch i had a splitting migraine. Eventually it came to me that the only thing different in my study was the white residue of the White Lightning. I double-bagged it and took it out to the rubbish, and the migraines were gone, but that evening I had what can only be described as a spastic episode (no, really), some kind of a nerve storm in which my arms flew this way and that, and my head jerked around, and I had no control, though I felt no pain. All the same, it is a serious warning. Fortunately it hasn't repeated since.

So,

1. Don't keep your White Lightning in rooms or airways in which humans (or maybe pets) must breathe.

2. If you cease using White Lightning for any length of time, throw out the bottle even if it still contains a substantial amount of White Lightning. You can always buy a new bottle of liquid wax. It costs considerably more to buy new lungs, and a new brain is unobtanium.

3. Even if the current label on White Lightning doesn't say anything about volatile poisons (my very old bottle didn't, and there wasn't even an ingredients list), don't breathe more of the stuff than you absolutely have to.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2021, 06:32:12 PM by Andre Jute »

in4

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Re: Throw out unused White Lightning today. Do it now!
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2021, 11:35:46 PM »
Im sure I recall a certain type of cider being named White Lightning. Never having tried it myself I cannot vouch for its quality or consider its merits for a place amongst the pantheon of Apple-based beverages. Suffice to say that observing the effects of drinking this legendary libation on the good fellows who enjoy a certain lifestyle, I can suggest that the effects of both identically named products are not entirely dissimilar 😉 😂
« Last Edit: May 25, 2021, 01:08:43 AM by in4 »

steve216c

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Re: Throw out unused White Lightning today. Do it now!
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2021, 05:47:21 AM »
Id never heard of White Lightning for bikes. But perhaps this explains why the Dutch all park their bikes outside in all weathers? And for those who keep their White Lightning greased bikes indoors, it could explain their liberal attitude to cannabis- if so many need to take the edge off recurring migraines?

Hope the head is feeling better now. H hi pod luck with those Chinese knives.
If only my bike shed were bigger on the inside...

leftpoole

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Re: Throw out unused White Lightning today. Do it now!
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2021, 11:58:35 AM »
Andre must have run out of work! What on Earth is he really on about? Keeping a high profile? Sad.

julk

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Re: Throw out unused White Lightning today. Do it now!
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2021, 01:54:19 PM »
Andre,
I am relieved you found the cause of your recent maladies.
I had never heard of white lightning but will avoid it if I ever come across any.

If you still wish to use a wax lube then i can recommend a SA product called Squirt.
https://www.squirtcyclingproducts.com/portfolio_page/squirtchainlube/
It is water based and solvent free, there should be no danger sniffing this one!
I use it on my Brompton chain to remove the risk of getting chain oil on me or my clothing
(I normally lead a sheltered life riding a Rohloff Thorn with a ChainGlider).

I go shopping on a Brompton as I can take it with me into the shop folded and put in the trolley.
Leaving an expensive bike outside a shop in Dalkeith (Midlothian) can be risky.
Julian.

j-ms

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Re: Throw out unused White Lightning today. Do it now!
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2021, 06:38:09 PM »
Despite Squirt being a South African product my LBS only stocks White Lightening, which is my lubricant of choice (for my bicycle chain, of course). 

The first problem with White Lightening is that, because it is as close a petrol bomb as one can get, one can't take it on an 'plane.  It might be a good idea for me to get my hands on some Squirt (even though the product name suggests that it might be for uses other than lubricating bicycle chains).

The other problem with White Lightening is that it washes off the chain at the first suggestion of rain (which is something of which we have seen little here in the Eastern Cape during seven years of drought). 

So why is Andre using it in Ireland where I would expect there to have been more rainy days in the past month than I have enjoyed since being stuck back in South Africa over the past year ?

John Saxby

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Re: Throw out unused White Lightning Cold Wax today. Do it now!
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2021, 10:18:57 PM »
Jaysus, Mary an' Joseph, Andre, that's serious bizness.  Glad you're OK after all that.

Never seen or heard tell of White Lightning Wax, but I'll steer clear of it. (Back in the day, the NY Yankees had a very good right-handed pitcher whose nickname was Louisiana Lightning, a Cajun guy named Ron Guidry. The pundits would wax grandiloquent about him, but so far as I know, bicycle chains never entered the conversations.)  (On the subject of toxicity, few things are as toxic as a misplaced metaphor, eh?)

+1 for Squirt, which I also buy 'cos it's Soufafrican.  Purple Extreme is also superior chain lube, tho' not so easily found.

Andre Jute

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Re: Throw out unused White Lightning Cold Wax today. Do it now!
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2021, 12:33:24 AM »
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Im sure I recall a certain type of cider being named White Lightning.

We keep a cider called Orchard Thieves in the liquor fridge. In the summer I put it in a Thermos to keep it cool and dole it out to pedalpals when we stop, just a small refreshing cup, not enough to make anyone fiddly. Despite its suspect name, the ladies love it.

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...luck with those Chinese knives.

Actually, I wanted to buy a Sheffield knife to replace the Joseph Rodgers of fond boyhood memory but there was nothing in stock. Then I tried to buy a Taylor's Eye Witness pocket knife and the only dealer who even replied to me would only post me the poncey 200 pound collector's version, whereas I wanted a knife to use. I didn't mind if it was overpriced, but it would get mucky with oil paints soon enough, so it shouldn't be too fancy or it would look out of place in my paintbox. Heinnie Haynes, apparently the leading British seller of knives, told me to buy a Rough Ryder "American" made in China knife for a first venture, which was excellent advice, except that the knife I chose was too pretty to do to it what I intended, which was to break it up for the blades which I intended to rehouse in copper I already have, engraved with tools and skills I already have, too. So next I bought two knives in China for about 40% each of the Rough Ryder price -- and one turned out to work so smoothly (though the scales came from mismatched rams) that I'm reluctant to take it apart, and the other, another nail-breaker like the Rough Ryder, is too pretty, as well.

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Sad.

Thank you for your concern, Mr Trump.

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If you still wish to use a wax lube then i can recommend a SA product called Squirt.
https://www.squirtcyclingproducts.com/portfolio_page/squirtchainlube/
It is water based and solvent free, there should be no danger sniffing this one!

Thanks for the recommendation, Julian. I've noted it for when (if...) I ever put my other bikes back on the road, but for the only bike in current in use the experiment of running the chain for its entire life on the factory lube inside a Chainglider has proven so riotously successful, and the Rohloff has proven so ideally matched to my changing needs, that I doubt the other bikes will ever be fetched down from the loft. And I have plenty of Oil of Rohloff, which I've found to be a superior lube, though on the bikes of pedal pals rather than my own, because the occasion has simply not arisen.

The irony of these events is that when I paint in oils I'm enough of an authority to advise others on which of the non-toxic solvents to use to protect themselves, their children and their pets -- but I never suspected the chain wax in the plastic bottle. I've since received expert advice to throw away all lubes past five years old, which I intend to follow.

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The other problem with White Lightening is that it washes off the chain at the first suggestion of rain (which is something of which we have seen little here in the Eastern Cape during seven years of drought). 

So why is Andre using it in Ireland where I would expect there to have been more rainy days in the past month than I have enjoyed since being stuck back in South Africa over the past year ?

Be grateful you're not stuck in the Western Cape, J-MS, where the winters are not only wet but cold and windy, or on the Transvaal Highveld, where it is hot, muggy and wet, with copious thunder and lightning strikes.

I started using the White Lightning Cold Wax because I had found White Lighning's Teflon grease great for assembly and very clean -- important to me because I invariably cycle in street clothes, not dedicated cycle gear, and because I work at home and so could choose my rides to fall between the rainfalls. Here in West Cork we actually have more hours of sunshine than rain, and much of the "rain" is the sort of very light drizzle that doesn't wet a good Aran sweater, which we call "a soft day" -- it might not be fun to tour in it from dawn to dusk, but for a ride for exercise with friends and hot lemon tea in the flask, an hour or two door to door, before the cold reaches your bones (if you need a hot shower when you return, you rode too far), it's a day and a ride very pale-skinned cyclists like me appreciate.

But the main reason I got away/persevered with the White Lightning was that at the time when I first started using it I was testing full chain covers in the process that led me to recommend the then-novel Chainglider. If you're interested in the state of the chain case a dozen years ago, you could dip into:
A Fully Enclosed Chaincase That Works:
http://thorncyclesforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=2233.msg10717#msg10717
The Cold Wax worked like it was supposed to, and it never saw water because I didn't ride in rain all that extensively and it was inside a Dutch full chain case, in which it was good for a week or a fortnight of casual rides.

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+1 for Squirt, which I also buy 'cos it's Soufafrican.

Thanks, John. That's a lot of votes for Squirt, the bicycle wax so popular you'd swear it comes with a stick of ostrich biltong.

John Saxby

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Re: Throw out unused White Lightning Cold Wax today. Do it now!
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2021, 03:14:46 AM »
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ostrich biltong

Mmmm... kudu for me. Hard to get in these parts, tho'.

chacun son got?

But on the subject of knives, you might check these: https://www.grohmannknives.com/index.php/products/outdoor/all-items Worth a visit to Pictou, Nova Scotia, when The Situation allows  ;)

I nearly sent you a link to Lee Valley Tools' offerings (!) but they recently stopped carrying Grohmann's products.

leftpoole

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Re: Throw out unused White Lightning Cold Wax today. Do it now!
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2021, 09:54:29 AM »
https://thefuturekept.com/products/joseph-rodgers-british-made-pocket-knife-rosewood?variant=847142895&currency=GBP&utm_medium=product_sync&utm_source=google&utm_content=sag_organic&utm_campaign=sag_organic&utm_campaign=gs-2018-11-18&utm_source=google&utm_medium=smart_campaign&gclid=CjwKCAjw47eFBhA9EiwAy8kzNAsHklXeb4eBaFSD0beszpR6la0cVi8I0fh4uuhPiyPWmWY1FJpytRoCXv0QAvD_BwE

Sheffield made knives are available from numerous online retailers. But of course one can obviously contact the manufacturer direct!
I was born in Sheffield and even now at age 71 I am proud of Sheffield and steel plus of course Joe Cocker who went to 'my' School.!!

Andre Jute

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Re: Throw out unused White Lightning Cold Wax today. Do it now!
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2021, 06:43:07 AM »
Thanks for the link, Leftpoole. Yes, that one is new to me. Here's a collection of Sheffield knives, from farmer's working knives to fancy collectors' knives, to feast your eyes on:
https://www.sheffield-made.com/acatalog/Pocket_Knives.html

leftpoole

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Re: Throw out unused White Lightning Cold Wax today. Do it now!
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2021, 08:34:31 AM »
Thanks for the link, Leftpoole. Yes, that one is new to me. Here's a collection of Sheffield knives, from farmer's working knives to fancy collectors' knives, to feast your eyes on:
https://www.sheffield-made.com/acatalog/Pocket_Knives.html

I had seen this shop on previous occasion. I actually still have some relations in Sheffield living on the same road!

j-ms

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Re: Throw out unused White Lightning Cold Wax today. Do it now!
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2021, 12:58:53 PM »
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ostrich biltong

Mmmm... kudu for me. Hard to get in these parts, tho'.
I'm with John on this one.  Kudu comes first but any game biltong before beef and beef before ostrich.

Andre Jute

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Re: Throw out unused White Lightning Cold Wax today. Do it now!
« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2021, 10:44:09 PM »
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ostrich biltong

Mmmm... kudu for me. Hard to get in these parts, tho'.
I'm with John on this one.  Kudu comes first but any game biltong before beef and beef before ostrich.

I was born in Oudtshoorn, Ostrich Capital of the World.

PH

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Re: Throw out unused White Lightning Cold Wax today. Do it now!
« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2021, 09:50:54 AM »
As we've somehow wandered  ;)
The cutlery collection at Sheffield Industrial Museum is well worth a visit should anyone find themselves in the area.  I was fascinated by the way Gentlemen used to carry their own and what a status symbol it was, and anyone who thinks the camping spork is something new might be shocked.