Soldering/brazing/welding steel, bicycle chains?


i am working on a project (in Vienna, Austria), and a part of that process will be that i would have to clean a bunch of used bicycle chains and create other, rather smaller objects out of them. they dont have to hold a lot of weight, they vary from 4 to 6 chainlinks or so. At the end I think I will have between 50 and 100 maybe 200 pieces, so it's not an industrial amount but not a single few pieces either.

FYI: bicycle chains are made from steel, they are not stainless steel, usually its chromed, there is nickel in it, so when its used they surfaces are often damaged, so it has rust on the surface as well. it has really small hidden parts where grease, dirt and rust stays hidden and stuck too.

For the cleaning: I have been cleaning chains to create prototypes and individualised pieces so far with Terpentine and experimented with other types of Degreasers, Soaps, with toothbrush method:) and rags, also other kinds of paint thinners (terpentine doesnt smell so bad, but still removed a fair amount of grease dirt and rust) Degreasers are not very effective, soap and toothbrush and rags take a lot of time. Soaking in terpentine helps but its still time consuming. I havent tried aceton yet. Vinegar and stuff like this dont seem to be so effective either...

For assembling/connecting: I have used for individual pieces chain tools (putting a small pressure on the chain link pins, so they are not flexible anymore (as chains supposed to be normally) and then forced bending them in the position they should be in. This is stable enough for the stuff I want to do (they are only decorational) but it's a lot of work, takes a really long time. I did welding too (MIG), but the plates are individual pieces, it doesnt weld so nicely, or its not so easy, and I dont have my own welding machine in my workshop space, I have one in a different place i can use, but i dont want to invest and buy one just for this, and it would be nice if I could do the whole project in my own space, and i wouldnt have to transport so much stuff all the time back and forth... and it's not necessary to have it that strong as i can actually get it with welding, because it doesnt have to be that resistant, doesnt have to hold so much weight, as they are going to be only smaller decorational objects anyway.

Ideas and tips that came up, havent been tried yet though, or didnt really work yet:
- soldering: with gas flame (torch) and simple solder. i tried shortly, didnt really work though, didnt connect, maybe i give it a try again, not sure what i did wrong though, maybe its just not the right method?
- using screw glue (not sure if thats the right name in english:) rather smaller amounts or transparent ones, applying it at the inside points, so it still looks nice.
- i havent tried epoxy and i am not a huge fan of the idea, but i dont know enough about the costs, process and the environmental effects of it...
- it is an option also to use some temporarily working, not very great but cheap and fast method for assembly as preparation and then just quickly fill holes by welding, i thought about trying soldering or screw glue before welding and just zack, zack zack weld them one bye one, it would be easier if they are somehow already fixed in the position they should be in (as they are small and very flexible pieces of metal otherwise), problem is though that whatever i use as preparation, will be quickly burned by welding, which is in terms of environmental effects not so great, but also has aestetical consequences i guess.
- i just read about brazing, i am not sure yet what i would need for it, for smaller stuff, what is the difference between brazing and soldering exactly and how well it would work, what are the costs of investment etc.

- for cleaning: one idea i havent tried, just read about it is sandblasting. I would probably have to ask some company to do that, as i really cant afford to invest much more money in equipment right now, not sure if i even have the right space for that, and it seems anyway for 50 or 100 pieces disproportionate somehow. I would like to use a method that is not too bad in terms on enviromental-friendlyness or how to say, not very damaging or too bad chemically etc.

it would be important that whatever i do, the endresult:
- holds more or less
- looks nice, either invisible the parts or things, materials i add so it holds, or it has the same colour/material like some kind of metal. it can be that i will paint it over with some metal silver colour at the end if necessary, for having a consistent colour surface, or to prevent from rusting afterwards.
- should be cheap during the process, so low running costs and more or less environmental friendly, and preferably some method to use tools that are cheap or i have access to, not very expensive to invest.
- i prefer to do things by myself and not outsource the process to companies unless it has big advantages (like for example if it turns out sandblasting is cheap and really environmental friendly i would consider it actually:)))

i am really happy for any tips on these things, before i spend more money on stuff just to try it out and find out it's stupid, or not what i need, not what i am looking for:)

Stick with the chain tools master links to link chain ends back together.
bikese_xual (author)  mpilchfamily3 years ago
thats not going to work, cause i need to have it fix and not flexible. i am not trying to fix a bike, i am making something else out of old chains, and it has to be fix at all points of it, and faster to make that using chain tools and handpressure. also it has to be possible to use the actual old chains:) so thanks for trying, but thats totally not useful in my case:(