Suggestions On Cleaning A Foul Tasting Estate

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mtwaller

Senior Member
Nov 21, 2018
404
7
Atlanta, GA
I purchased an estate pipe a few months ago and I’ve never gotten it to taste right, with 10 or so bowls of varying tobaccos. I’ve since determined that my problem likely rests within the mortise. It’s black as coal and smells like burnt rubber/tar. I don’t know if it’s actually charred, or simply infused with unsavory leftovers from hard smoking. There’s no measurable buildup of material in there, it’s still smooth and seems to be almost the original inside diameter.. it’s just pitch black and smells/tastes awful.
My thought is to buy a set of shank brushes and dip them in Everclear and repeatedly scrub and let dry and repeat a few times. Does this sound like a logical first step, or is there a better method for cleaning mortises? Also, if it is indeed charred, I wonder if I’d be ok to lightly sand that top layer away? It’s a Peterson Spigot, I’m assuming a half a millimeter of material gone inside the mortise would still fit ok since the stem is a tapered friction fit, and it looks like it contacts the silver cap on the shank and not the inside of the mortise itself. Thanks!

 

seanv

Preferred Member
Mar 22, 2018
1,005
46
Canada
I would not sand the mortise.

Did you do a salt and alcohol or coffee grind treatment on the bowl during your initial cleaning?

 

donjgiles

Preferred Member
Apr 14, 2018
865
23
I bought a set of ear cleaning tools to scrape the tars and nasties out of the shank.
https://www.google.com/search?q=ear+cleaning+tools+amazon&rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS796US796&source=univ&tbm=shop&tbo=u&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi5gdi_6OLiAhWvnuAKHWYHBlIQsxgIMg&biw=1536&bih=722
I also use q-tips and Evercear to swab out the shank.
It truly is amazing how dirty things can get in there without proper periodic cleanings.
Don

 

mtwaller

Senior Member
Nov 21, 2018
404
7
Atlanta, GA
I did not, the bowl was super clean and down to bare wood. I didn’t realize the mortise was so foul until recently, I guess I never really looked that close until now.

 

mikefu

Preferred Member
Mar 28, 2018
880
39
Colorado Springs
What about the inside of the stem? I’ve had some old estates that had a bunch of oxidation inside the stem that tastes like burnt rubber when smoking. Use some barkeepers friend or toothpaste on a cleaner and see if it comes out brown. If so, scrub it until they come out clean. Also, with the mortise, you can take a drill bit that is the same diameter as the mortise and turn it by hand in there to get off tar/goopy deposits that you’ve softened with alcohol.

 

nunnster

Member
Apr 17, 2019
116
5
Your brush idea sounds like a good first step, but if it's as bad as you make it sound, I would bring out the heavy hitters and not wasit time. Plug er up, poor some salt in your bowl and some high proof alcohol till its wet (I use isopropyl, but some are concerned about its use and use ethanol instead) and let it soak overnight, and if there is residual left do it again. On a couple of my estates that I didnt care either way if they got ruined, I have sanded the bowl down to bare wood, but I wouldnt dare to sand anywhere else. I believe there are others that could recommend ozone treatments and fancy alcohol retorts, but I have no experience with either so I cant tell you much about them.

 

dmcmtk

Preferred Member
Aug 23, 2013
2,896
18
I usually use twisted paper towel with iso (or everclear if that's your preference) isert, let rest for 5-10 minutes, and repeat. On a very tarred up shank, it can take 10 - 12 passes, always snipping off the dirty bit and re-twisting the paper towel. Kind of like with this pipe,



:D

 

alexnc

Preferred Member
Oct 25, 2015
590
3
Don't sand on the mortise. The spirit scrub is an excellent first step. I would do salt and alcohol treatment, maybe a few depending on how dark or clean the pipe cleaner is at the end.
While your doing that order a cheapo retort kit



They're easy to use, here's a tutorial
Repeat until the alcohol is clear at the end (or almost clear)
I've purged pipes I've used for Lakelands like Ennerdale so there's not a trace of ghosting

 

mtwaller

Senior Member
Nov 21, 2018
404
7
Atlanta, GA
Very helpful, thanks guys! I’ll start with the alcohol scrub in the shank then, if it doesn’t get it done I guess my next step is a full salt/alcohol treatment and see where it gets me. And Dave that spigot is absolutely gorgeous.

 

hawky454

Preferred Member
Feb 11, 2016
3,015
203
White vinegar works very well to neutralize any residual flavors. I had one hell of a ghost in one of my pipes that alcohol wouldn’t even touch but the vinegar did the trick.

 

mikethompson

Preferred Member
Jun 26, 2016
3,971
86
I always tell people to try the coffee ground trick first. Its the least dangerous to finishes. But I usually just do that for bowls.

 

pappymac

Preferred Member
Feb 26, 2015
1,838
7
I pack the shank with damp coffee ground when I do the bowls. Just have to rinse well to get all the grounds out when cleaning.

 
Dec 10, 2013
281
0
Cotton bowls and white vinegar, cotton balls and alcohol. If used, salt should be "kosher ", or sweet and coarse. So no iodin added !!

Work on the mortis and the shank with cheap nylon brush shanks and "thorned pipe cleaners dipped in iso.
https://www.amazon.com/Nylon-Brush-Tobacco-Cleaning-Stainless/dp/B00Q06MP4W

 

jpmcwjr

Preferred Member
May 12, 2015
13,546
156
Monterey Peninsula
I pack the shank with damp coffee ground when I do the bowls. Just have to rinse well to get all the grounds out when cleaning.
Indeed. Sometimes simply a good long flush with very hot water will not only clean the chamber, but freshen the mortise area as well. (Run down through the bowl and out the stem.)

 

mtwaller

Senior Member
Nov 21, 2018
404
7
Atlanta, GA
Good advice, all! I don’t have coffee grounds at the moment. I think I’ll buy a cheap little nylon brush and work that for a few days and see where I get. I really appreciate all the help! Glad to hear others have had success exorcising these demons before. I love this Spigot, I want it to start smoking right.

 

pitchfork

Preferred Member
May 25, 2012
3,800
2
Try vinegar. Baking soda also helps. Do them at the same time and you can make a volcano. :lol:

 

mtwaller

Senior Member
Nov 21, 2018
404
7
Atlanta, GA
Jesse you’re killing it with the comments!I used paper towels, cleaners, and a butt load of everclear today. It’s not perfect, but it’s WAY better than it was before. Big thanks to everyone for the help. I think I’ll do one more round with hooch, if it’s still not where I want it to be I’ll get some vinegar and a cheap brush. But as I said, it’s a vast improvement over the condition it was in.
Pitchfork, no volcanoes!
tkcolo forever uncleeeean! Love The League reference.