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32 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 11.14 Taking the heat out of chain grinding Grinding metal is primitive. Like a pagan ritual, something must be burned; something must be sacrifced. Grinding lawn mower blades is bad enough. Greens mower grinding gives people the willies. Grinding on tiny little hardened steel chainsaw teeth can give some folks the blithering shudders. Fear not. The solution lies in sacrifce — of wax. Visit any metalworking factory and you'll see streams of liquid pouring onto each cut - ting and grinding operation. You'll see steam coming off the point where steel meets stone (or saw teeth or tap or lathe bit). The liquid is usually water-soluble oil and water. The water absorbs heat at the point of friction. The oil lu - bricates the site. The liquid is captured and re- cycled — too messy to duplicate in most golf course service shops. Old-time machinists used a different system — "an extreme pressure lubricant (that) pre - vents the buildup of frictional heat. It improves overall tool life and productivity when sawing, drilling, milling, grinding, threading and tap - ping." That's how Lenox describes its Stick Lu- bricant. Other makers say similar things. That magic lubricant is a wax "lube stick" that looks like a crayon. Tap the grinding wheel with a lube stick, grind a tooth, repeat and re - peat until the chain is all nice and sharp. The oily wax lubricates the steel-wheel interface, ab - sorbs heat and melts, then evaporates. The wax helps keep the grinding wheel pores from loading up with steel fakes, reducing the need to re-dress the wheel. While not as cool and slick as a stream of oily water, the wax fts what Grandpa Mike al - ways said: "Something is better than nothing." But there's prep work before grinding. A saw chain should always be cleaned of sap, pitch and pine tar. These sticky substances in - sulate the steel, trapping heat and slowing the wood cutting. I've had good luck soaking chains overnight with liquid Goo Gone solvent and with brushing on various brands and variations of thick gel hand cleaners. Do not use products with pumice or other grit, however. After a good soak, rinse with running hot water, shake off the excess, then run the chain against a soft wire wheel. The chain is easier to inspect. Hold the chain with the drive links parallel to the ground. A deep droop Getting a lube stick ain't easy While the mountains of northeast Georgia have industrial operations, from chicken pro- cessing to making zippers and tractors, it wasn't easy fnd- ing wax stick lube. The cost isn't high — 12- to 14-ounce tubes run $10 to $15 and last forever — but no one in the area stocks it. I got my FMT brand Stick Wax tube by special order from the local Fastenal industrial supply. I got Granberg G-440 Kool-Grind from an eBay vendor; it's the only stick wax I found that specifcally says it's for chain grinding. Use your favorite Internet search engine to hunt for "wax stick lube images" and "grinding lubricant images." You'll come up with several product names. Search the Web, or your local stores, for those products, and you'll fnd someone willing to supply you. The FMT stick wax worked OK on the grinder, but its softness makes it especially useful for coating drill bits and saw blades. It eases cutting and drilling aluminum, brass and copper, which tend to be sticky. It also eases wood cutting, especially ripping with hand or table saws. We used wax sticks in high school shop class, but it took almost 50 years to remember how well it works. Once you have some, try it with all your metalworking. I think you'll like it. — S.R.N. (shop) Scott R. Nesbitt ORPguy@windstream.net means there's excess wear in the links and riv- ets — scrap it, or scrap it after using it to cut dirty tree stumps. If the chain is good, inspect for cracks, loose rivets, broken teeth or drivers and other repairable defects. Now with chain on the grinder and lube stick in hand, proceed to sharpen and drop the depth guides. Next month, I'll explain the mechanics of how sharp chain cuts quickly. Scott R. Nesbitt is a freelance writer and former GCSAA staff member. He lives in Cleveland, Ga. Left: Stick wax intended for grinders can be aligned with the notch in the shield, then allowed to ride the wheel for a short distance, applying a light application of the lubricant. Right: A wheel treated with lubricating wax throws off a modest number of sparks (top), compared to the torrent of sparks from an undressed grinding wheel. Photos by Scott Nesbitt