Help with bone stem meerschaum please

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

oakbear

Junior Member
Dec 27, 2011
98
0
UK
Hi all,
Recently i bought an old billiard shape meerschaum with a bone stem from ebay. It wouldn't pass air and was quite heavily caked, but i sorted the cake with salt/alcohol soaks and ream.
There are a couple of problems though, which might be related.....
Firstly, i can't remove the bone stem, it's fixed solid. It's an old pipe, and i'm not sure if this is part of the design?
Secondly, i can feel some kind of blockage in the meerschaum section, and i won't pass even a narrow cleaner. With repeated cleaning i got it to pass air, but not enough for a proper draw. I then tried a stiff wire, which seemed to shift the block, but now there's no air again.
Any ideas or tips please?

 

pstlpkr

Preferred Member
Dec 14, 2009
9,739
0
Birmingham, AL
Hey Oakbear!

I think this is probably a question that Fred or UncleArthur should field.

I wouldn't feel safe offering a suggestion for removing the stem or unblocking the draft hole.

Just click on the links above and send them a PM just in case they don't see this string.

 

zunismoke

Member
Nov 3, 2010
185
0
NC
I had one that was totally blocked once. I kept using bristle cleaners soaked in alcohol. Must have used 20 cleaners, ran some from the bowl side by curving the cleaner. Finally got a cleaner all the way through. I have another meer I am working on as well, same problem.

 

zunismoke

Member
Nov 3, 2010
185
0
NC
What works with most things that are seized pretty tight is to put the pipe in the freezer for about 1/2 hour. Take it out and then try removing the stem. Got that from Uncle Arthur.

 

tokerpipes

Preferred Member
Jan 16, 2012
1,725
0
Jacksonville Beach Fl
With it beeing meer you really want to be careful. The bone is more dense than the porous meerschaum and it might make the tennon snap off. Just to be safe I would wait on the advice from UA. Sounds like an interesting piece would love to see some pics.

 

lonestar

Preferred Member
Mar 22, 2011
2,822
0
Edgewood Texas
I got an old meerschaum once and I worked on it for awhile to get a pipe cleaner through the stem. When it finally came out in the middle of a ball of tar, was something yellow and sorta fluffy looking. I thought it was odd but kept cleaning. Eventually pulled out an entire ball of feathers that was imbedded in gunk . I dont know if cleaning pipes with chicken feathers was common back in the day, or if this guy was just way too cheap for pipe cleaners, but in case anyone is wondering... feathers make horrible pipe cleaners.

Zuni is right. Sometimes it just takes lots of patience and alcohol soaked cleaners.

 

tokerpipes

Preferred Member
Jan 16, 2012
1,725
0
Jacksonville Beach Fl
really the big feer of alcohol with meer is if it pressed meer rather than block. pressed will start to crumble. block can get damage but its relativly less damaging than on pressed . if you are not sure if ite pressed or block when in doubt dont do it.

 

oakbear

Junior Member
Dec 27, 2011
98
0
UK
Thanks for the help folks. I'll send a PM to aformentioned experts for guidance.
I had thought of the freezer but an unsure about the meerschaum, especially as it has a hairline crack on the outside of the bowl. It doesn't go through, and looks to be just on the surface, but i'm not certain.
As for alcohol, it's bit late, as there's been enough whiskey poured into it to make for a decent night out!

No sign of any damage from it though, unless it's inside...
The blockage itself feels hard if that makes sense? Like the pipe isn't drill out all the way. There's no give at all, even with stiff wire. I wonder if some meer has crumbled maybe?! Or grit stuck in it?!

 

fred

Preferred Member
Mar 21, 2010
1,510
0
From what you've posted, it is difficult to say what the problem comes from. If the bit is indeed bone, then likely the connector is a bone screw. It is not unusual for bone to bond to Meerschaum. As for what the obstruction is, that's anyone's guess. The crack in the Block doesn't sound good either. Using the freezer to loosen bits on a Meerschaum isn't a good idea, especially when bone is involved, as it is stronger than the Block. The salt/alcohol soak is not a good idea for Meerschaums either, as it can weaken the structure of the Block. If the shape of the Pipe is straight, then try and run Pipe cleaners thru the bowl instead of going thru the bit first. You might try to get things settled with the Seller, as returning this Pipe might be your best option, instead of putting more money into it for a professional repair.

 

oakbear

Junior Member
Dec 27, 2011
98
0
UK
Thanks Fred!
It was part of a lot, and very cheap, but it's a lovely item which feels old, so it'd be a shame not to try and save it.

I've tried running a cleaner from the bowl, but the block seems solid. If i could get the stem off in one piece i might have a chance of getting to it. If it comes to it i'll carefully use a drill by hand.

Any ideas for unsticking the stem without a freezer?
I wasn't aware salt/alcohol could damage meerscahum. Any tips on cleaning heavily caked meers?

 

oakbear

Junior Member
Dec 27, 2011
98
0
UK
Well it's fixed!
I threw caution to the wind and tried the freezer. A 2mm metal rod managed to move the blockage down the pipe towards the bowl about an inch, but then it stuck fast. I could feel it with a cleaner from the bowl, but couldn't see it. i tried the freezer again, but nothing....

...So i ordered a drill bit!
The draw hole is only 2mm all the way down, and not being able to removed the stem, it needed to be 120mm long! I found a suitable bit in the end and tried to drill by hand.

I could feel the block 'catch' as i turned the bit, but still no budge.
So i hooked it up to the power drill. 2 seconds later it was through.

There was little or no debris, although there were a few shards of metal which didn't look like they'd come off the drill!
It draws well now, and smokes superbly!
I'll try a pic later....

 

spartan

Preferred Member
Aug 14, 2011
2,964
0
PipeSmoker -- 1
Meerchaum ---- 0
Congrats on showing that pipe who the boss is. So the final conclusion was that there was metal in the airway?
Was the previous owner Dr. Doom or something? Smoking metal flakes... Obsurd!