How to Break a Chain

Ementes Technologies
Ementes Technologies

Whether you ride a bike or simply work with chains on a regular basis, you will almost certainly come across a situation where you will need to break a chain in order to remove and repair it at some point. If you’re attempting to break a bike chain, you may need to use pliers if the chain has a master link, or you may be able to use a chain tool that will break one of the rivets if the chain does not have a master link. Fortunately, whether you’re working with a chain tool, pliers, or bolt cutters, there are some simple and straightforward methods for breaking a chain that you can follow.

Method 1 Using a Chain Tool

1. Make certain that the chain is taut. When you’re trying to break your chain, you’ll want to make sure there’s no slack in the chain. If you’re working on a bike chain, move the chain to the largest front and rear sprockets possible before continuing. Move it to the smallest cogs and tighten the chain as much as you can by wrapping it around the derailleur pulleys and pulling on the chain.

If the chain is wrapped around the derailleur pulley, make sure that the pulley does not pull the chain back so far that it comes into contact with the pulley or the chain itself.

2. Locate the special connecting rivet and take care not to break the chain where it connects. It is common for connecting rivets to be distinguished from other rivets in the chain; they may be distinguished by special flaring or colour that other rivets do not have. Whenever you are preparing to break the chain with a chain tool, make sure that the rivet you are breaking is at least several rivets away from any connecting rivets in the chain.

For help identifying connecting rivets in your chain, search for the brand name of your chain and the words “connecting rivets” in your search engine. It’s likely that the manufacturer will have a picture of the connecting rivets on their website if your chain has them.

3. Place the chain tool on the rivet where you intend to break the chain and pull the chain out. Make sure the driving pin of the chain tool is in contact with the rivet in a straight line and that the two are in contact with each other. To ensure that the rivet is aligned with the receptacle on your chain tool after the pin has been removed, make sure that it is aligned with the receptacle on your chain tool.

When retraction of the driving pin is required, you may need to unscrew a portion of the chain tool to make it easier to place the tool onto the rivet.

You must make certain that the driving pin is centred in the rivet head; otherwise, you will not be able to force the rivet out.

4. To break the chain, pry the rivet out with your bare hands. Following successful alignment of the driving pin with the rivet head, turn the handle with great force to slowly drive the rivet out of the front plate and partially through the rear plate. (See illustration.) Before removing the rivet completely, pull the pin out and break the chain with your thumbs, leaving the rivet protruding slightly from the rear plate as a temporary measure.

If you decide to reconnect the link, you will be able to locate the hole much more easily using this method.

If you do not intend to reinstall or repair the chain, you may remove it completely by pushing the rivet out with the chain tool.

Method 2 Using Pliers

1. Make sure the bike chains are taut by shifting them. Transfer the chain to the largest front and rear sprockets, and then to the smaller cogs so that it wraps around the derailleur pulleys, in order to avoid any slack in the chain. This will ensure that the chain is as taut as it possibly can be.

If the chain is wrapped around the derailleur pulley, make sure that the pulley does not pull the chain back so far that it comes into contact with the pulley or the chain itself.

2. Find the master link on the chain and remove it. In a linked chain, the master link will have a pair of side plates that are distinct from the other links and may even be a different colour from the other links. When using pliers, this is the link that will be disengaged in order to break the chain.

In addition, an embossed arrow pointing towards the inside of the chain loop will most likely be found on the master link itself.

3. Disengage the master link with the help of the pliers. The pliers should be positioned over the master link so that one head is placed on the outward side of the master link pin and the pliers will be squeezed in the direction indicated by the arrow on one of the side plates. The other head should be placed on the outward side of the opposing pin, as shown in the illustration. Afterwards, squeeze the pliers together to press the pins together, and then press both side plates inward until the link breaks.

Special pliers designed specifically for use on master links will automatically press the side plates inward for you if you are using such pliers.

Method 3 Breaking a Chain with Bolt Cutters

1. Adjust the cutters so that they are in proportion to the strength of the chain. The majority of bolt cutters are equipped with an adjustment bolt that allows you to fine-tune the tension on the blades as needed. Use this bolt to adjust the tension on the chain you’re breaking to the appropriate level for the hardness of the chain you’re breaking and your own operational comfort.

When working with small chains, such as bike chains, you will most likely not need to adjust your bolt cutters; the weakest setting will most likely be adequate.

2. Mark the spot on the chain where you want to make the break. A marking line, or even a small dot, can be used to ensure that you are cutting cleanly in the correct location. Mark the location of where you want the cut to be made with a marking pen or pencil. To make the mark, you can use a marker, paint, or a sharp blade.

If at all possible, you should also clamp the chain before cutting it in order to make the chain more difficult to break. While it is recommended, it is not strictly necessary when using bolt cutters to break a chain of any kind.

3. Cutters should be positioned over the mark after opening the blades. Make sure that the blades of the bolt cutters are open as far as possible before continuing by pulling the handles of the bolt cutters apart to open the blades. Once this is accomplished, move the cutter head so that the marked portion of the chain is located between the blades.

4. Apply force to the blades as they are closed. Move the handles back towards one another to close the blades over the chain, starting slowly and working your way up the chain. Once the blades have made physical contact with the chain, close the blades and apply force to the chain until the chain is snapped or otherwise damaged.

When closing the blades, make sure you have a firm grip on the knife. Because of the looseness of your grip, the blades may slip away from the material and cause injury to you or others in the immediate vicinity.

Some chains may require you to break away from your initial cut, reposition the blades over the cut, and apply force a second time before they are finally broken, so be patient.

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