Rapid Re-oxidation on Vulcanite Stem

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mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
26,961
1,624
Got an estate pipe for a holiday gift, a Thompson mentioned in early posts. I spent an hour or so, while watching TV, polishing up the stem with a jeweler's cloth and a bandana, and a spot of Brebbia polish to brighten it up. Then I had a good smoke in its XL bowl. However, after all the polishing, as soon as it cooled and dried, the bit turned a brownish gray. I assume this is the old Vucanite, prone to rapid oxidation. I'm inclined to send it to a pipe repair person to replace the stem with an acrylic, since the briar is new looking, and has nice grain, and plateau on the rim; I'm thinking of a nice amber or tortoise shell look. I'm not concerned about maintaining the original stem. The stem might be an odd size because of the "West Germany" manufacture. Do some older Vulcanite stems oxidize immediately after every smoke?
I wouldn't mind replacing the P-lip like bit with a fishtail, and trading Vulcanite that oxidizes quickly with acrylic. Ideas? Suggestions?

 

georged

Preferred Member
Mar 7, 2013
2,609
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Both vulcanite/ebonite and acrylic are made according to a particular "recipe" of ingredients and processes, and some are better than others. Both good and bad examples abound in the PipeWorld.
Meaning, yes, "Insta-green" vulcanite stems exist.
Sorry to hear that one found you.
Unless I'm misunderstanding what you were referring to by "odd size", that's rarely a problem. Good acrylic is readily available up to one inch diameter, and vulcanite up to soda can size.

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
26,961
1,624
Thanks georged. I think the almost instant oxidation with this stem may be related to the age of the stem and collaterally the old formulation of the Vulcanite. I'm contacting a repair person or two. The cost on this seems reasonable, and it would step up the smoking experience a lot. A number of my pipes have Vulcanite stems, maybe half, and there is always a slight tendency to oxidize which has to be polished away and otherwise maintained. But this oxidation is immediate and not appetizing. The upside is that the briar on this has handsome grain and a nice bright like-new finish. There's a slight charring on the plateau rim, but not much. With a good fishtail stem, this pipe would be a beauty. Looks like a higher end Nording freehand.

 

sablebrush52

Preferred Member
Jun 15, 2013
9,990
1,184
If a stem has a serious build up of oxidation, the layer of oxidized material has to be physically removed. While the appearance can be improved with polishing, that doesn't remove the oxidized layer, and the color returns. Sometimes the best solution is to replace the stem. George made an acrylic stem for me for one of my Baralings from a material that has some "give" to it similar to vulcanite.

 

mikestanley

Preferred Member
May 10, 2009
1,330
37
Akron area of Ohio
If it were me, I would use wet/dry sandpaper on the inch and a half or so that goes in my mouth before sending the pipe away. I would start with 600, 800, 1000, 1200 and finish with 2000 grit, because that is what I have.
Mike S.

 
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