What Are Your Thoughts On This Argument 4 Effective Pipecleaner Use?

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

puffndave

Member
Apr 9, 2015
208
0
I've often been told that I tend to be a bit too argumentive, to the angst of those who I turn to for education on anything. I could argue the likelihood that Albert Einstein got that a lot as well, but this would not be the best use of what little social grace I have. It happens to be my style of sorting out questions which arise when presented with ideas for the first time, and arguing them to their logical conclusion seems the only way to resolve their validity or non-validity when it seems that nobody else sees a given piece of conventional wisdom from my angle.
Because I began experimenting on my own with the care of my pipes before I discovered pipe forums (it need not be said that I am definitely not Einstein), I began cleaning my pipes differently from the way that experts advise. They say never to remove the pipe stem, just run a pipecleaner in, and then back out. Works great when there is a filter or stinger to prevent you from entering the chamber, and then dragging a mouthful of ashes back into the stem, but my experience has not been so good with my unfiltered pipes (most of mine are). After ending up with a blocked stem or the taste of ashes a couple of times, I decided that there is only one effective way of cleaning the stem, and even the shank of a pipe without further blocking it: the stem should only move in one direction, which is away from the stem bit. This would necessitate breaking the rule of never-ever-remove-the-stem, and I did learn not to do this while the pipe is still hot (nor to ever leave it off for more than the time which it takes to push a pipecleaner through), and so far I guess I've been lucky. That a pipe tends to goop up and ghost in the shank is something I considered when I decided that a pipecleaner should only move in one direction, so later I tried, without removing my pipe stem, running a pipecleaner from bit to bowl after a smoke. In most cases, tweezers were required to continue moving the pipecleaner forward and out through the top of the bowl. Later I began to wonder if this was really a good idea, given that my cheap pipecleaners (I've never seen quality Zen pipecleaners on the market which are long enough for so much as the stem of an average churchwarden, so I've resorted to the thin, but 12" "Fuzzy Stix") had little padding around the wire, and with the force which is required to pull it through I could end up damaging my pipe by enlarging the draft hole.
If you have been patient enough thus far to read this through and consider the above thoughts, then thank you, thank you, thank you!!! What are your thoughts / counter-arguments on them?

 

pruss

Preferred Member
Feb 6, 2013
3,427
0
Mytown
Hmmm...
I am in the, "When the pipe is hot, don't remove the stem," camp. Here is my process for a post-bowl clean while the pipe is still hot.
1. Remove any remaining dottle or ash from the bowl with a pipe knife.

2. Run a cleaner from button to bowl through the stem and shank.

3. Fold a cleaner in half and ream the inside of the bowl to remove moisture, dottel, ash.

4. Blow through the pipe from button.

5. Ream the bowl with paper towel.

6. Run a cleaner down the airway from button to bowl again to ensure no tobacco or dottle remains in the airway.

6. Place bowl down on pipe rack and allow to stand for a day before using.
YMMV

-- Pat

 

xrundog

Preferred Member
Oct 23, 2014
737
0
Ames, IA
I often just run a pipe cleaner through, wipe the rim and the stem down and put the pipe on the rack. But I take pipes apart fairly often too so I can clean the tenon end (particularly if it's a conical end) and the shank airway a little better. It's no big deal
I have a lot of old pipes with bone screw tenons. I take those apart so I can wipe the tenon to keep gunk from freezing it in place. Like wise pipes like Kaywoodies with condensors. The fitting should be wiped off every time IMO.

 

lordofthepiperings

Preferred Member
May 3, 2010
6,319
19
Las Vegas, NV
I have no idea where this whole "rule" of never removing a stem has come from. I've seen many newbies mentioning seeing it online as gospel lately though.
I think the only "rule" as far as stem removal goes is to not do it when the pipe is still warm. Wait a few hours for it to cool down before removing it. Due to the expansion that occurs when it's heated you can screw up the fit of the stem by taking it apart while the pipe is hot.
Some guys refuse to buy a pipe that won't pass a cleaner, so they only buy pipes in person. Some, like me, don't care if they have to remove the stem to clean the pipe properly.
Like most things in the hobby, it's a preference.
If I don't need to take the stem off to pass a cleaner I usually don't. Once a month or so I will take those pipes apart to clean the tenon and clean the shank with a folded pipe cleaner.

 

pruss

Preferred Member
Feb 6, 2013
3,427
0
Mytown
I think the only "rule" as far as stem removal goes is to not do it when the pipe is still warm.
This is the rule I follow... I don't mind pulling a stem when the pipe is cool, but I prefer to clean immediately after smoking so I can pull up as much moisture as possible before it congeals and/or is pulled into the briar. I also pull all my stems once a month or so to clean with cleaners and isopropyl alcohol and to clean the shank.
-- Pat

 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,342
12
I've never experienced a problem breaking down a pipe when it is hot and when necessary to clear a partial blockage. I do not leave it apart long enough for the parts to cool, so pay no attention to the different cooling rates of the differing material. Never been a problem.
All pipes smoked during the preceding week are fully cleaned on Sunday. I ream bowls as needed on my briars. I do not run a cleaner through the stem and out the bowl. I twist and turn as I move it in and out (it's move an early girlfriend taught me, works well with pipes also.). By cleaning weekly I find I do not need alcohol, as a rule, as the residues have not "set up." A stubborn stem or bit will get reamed with a couple of bristle cleaners followed by a few swipes with a standard cleaner until one emerges as clean as it started.
A caveat: I do not smoke "goopy" blends.

 

puffndave

Member
Apr 9, 2015
208
0
I agree on not removing a hot stem, having the notion that the heat doesn't help its structural resilience. I never just take it off and allow it to lie, but as soon as the pipe has cooled down to room temperature I want to swab out any wet gunk, so I get that out, and get the stem back in within about a minute before letting the air take care of the rest.
Do you guys think that if I need to pull a pipecleaner all the way up through the top of the bowl (because I use cheap ones which kink, making it impossible to push them up once my tweezers lift the end), that this would exert enough force on briar or pear wood to cause damage from the wire?

 

puffndave

Member
Apr 9, 2015
208
0
Lordofthepipering:
Some guys refuse to buy a pipe that won't pass a cleaner, so they only buy pipes in person. Some, like me, don't care if they have to remove the stem to clean the pipe properly.
I wish I had thought to run that test before I smoked my last new Kaywoodie purchase (filterless and stingerless), as this brand has just shown me that it doesn't even bother with quality control anymore. My first two Kaywoodies have been fantastic smoking pipes, and my third was supposedly an upgrade with a gorgeous calabash-like shape. I wondered why this was the only pipe which I could not prevent from gurgling like hell, even when I slow-smoke the driest of blends and air out any that feel even a little damp, and then I noticed that the pipecleaner can never pass through stem and shank. When I shined a flashlight down the shank, I could see that the draw-hole was so badly off-center that if a cub scout did this as one of his projects, he would have been mortified with embarrassment! On account of my good prior history with that brand, and many positive comments on it, I had come to trust it too much - if I had done the test first, and it failed, I would have sent it back as defective. No more new Kaywoodies for me!

 

cigrmaster

Preferred Member
May 26, 2012
13,525
87
United States
I never break down a pipe that is still hot but that is me. Here is my technique for keeping my pipes clean.
I let my pipes cool over night then break the pipe down. I will take one or 2 fluffy cleaners depending on size of the bowl and wipe the inside of the bowl and then blow through the shank. I then take either one or 2 brislte cleaners again depending on the size of the shank, double them over and run them throught the shank, first twisting them and then running them back and forth. I will continue with the bristle cleaners until they come out clean. I then take one or two bristle cleaners and run them through the stem. I then take one or two fluffy cleaners and run those through the stem. Many of my pipes have stems that can take two cleaners and some of my pipes have a shank diameter greater than 4mm which can handle two cleaners doubled over through the shanks.
For deep cleanings I use Everclear, shank brush, bristle and fluffy cleaners along with Obidisian Stem Oil and pretty much do the same as above. I have never or will I ever use anything that is not drinkable on my pipes. Isopropyl alcohol has never touched one of my pipes. I also never rub the inside of my bowls with any type of alcohol. When needed I will take a pipe knife and use that to scrap and even out my cake.

 

puffndave

Member
Apr 9, 2015
208
0
Bristle cleaners? I never thought of that, didn't know you could get them. I'm sure it's better than my dirt cheap Fuzzy Stix plan, with 1/16 in. and thinly-woven "chenille" strands.

 

phil67

Preferred Member
Dec 14, 2013
2,052
0
Also look into getting a few (as they are cheap) shank brushes. Wouldn't be without them when I find the need to give a pipe a good cleaning combined with 151 proof grain alcohol and then a swab out with extra absorbent pipe cleaners.


 

zekest

Preferred Member
Apr 1, 2013
1,137
0
After I finish smoking a pipe I do the following:
1. Dump the ash out.

2. Insert a pipe cleaner into the pipe from bit-to-bowl.

3. Let that pipe sit that way in the pipe rack until the next day.

4. In the morning, I remove the bit from the shank.

5. Remove the pipe cleaner that almost always stays in the bowl.

6. Wipe out the bowl with a paper towel (I use a square of cotton cloth cut the same size as a 12 gauge cleaning patch. I'm a competitive shooter and have these by the hundreds).

7. Use a fresh pipe cleaner, doubled over, to clean the shank right into the bowl.

8. Re-assemble the pipe and place it back in the rack to sit at least one full day.
The pipe cleaner absorbs all the nasties and moisture overnight. I did not invent this procedure, I read it on a forum here, or some other place. I have been doing this for over two years with no ill effects.

 

settersbrace

Preferred Member
Mar 20, 2014
1,565
0
As you can see there's an endless array of methods and quirks in everyone's cleaning/maintenance ritual. Stick with and continue to develop what works best for YOU. If your stems start falling out of the pipe, you'll understand why, conversely if the get stuck in the stummel like they were welded, you'll know why. It's a trial and error thing and different pipes sometimes require special treatment that your others may not. I personally prefer to minimize the number of times I pull a stem but it's because I've had negative experiences over years of pipe smoking. As long as everything is chugging along ok, don't over think it, just enjoy!

 

jkrug

Preferred Member
Jan 23, 2015
2,872
0
I pretty much follow Pat's routine to a T and only disassemble my pipes when they are cool.

Pulling the pipe cleaner all the way through in one direction would probably frustrate the hell out of me. :puffy:

 

alexnorth

Preferred Member
Apr 7, 2015
602
0
When finished smoking I scoop out all the ash and any dottle. Let the pipe rest until it's cool, usually an hour or so. Then I pull the pipe apart and use one cleaner for the shank and bowl and one for the stem

 

mortonbriar

Preferred Member
Oct 25, 2013
911
3
Hey I have noticed you can buy pipe cleaners in a coil so you can chop your own extra long ones for your churchwardens, just another option I guess...

I pull the pipe apart if need be, but in general i just pull the cleaner out fast if it has gunk on it, and then run a clean one through and keep puffing, that seems to get the taste out.
Isaac

 

newbroom

Preferred Member
Jul 11, 2014
5,493
3
The 'crux' here seems to be Dave's OCD about a one way trip through the pipe. He wants validation for his idea that pulling the pipe cleaner through the bowl from the stem is a good idea.

My thoughts on this are that this practice could lead to distortion of the draft hole, which may or may not be beneficial. The angle necessitated to pull the cleaner up through the bowl would exert some pressures on the draft hole each time, possibly causing it to enlarge over time.

 

puffndave

Member
Apr 9, 2015
208
0
I think you're right about it distorting the hole, the more I think of it. Now that I've seen other ideas and tools which are available, I'm not going to worry about it anymore. There was a time when I was starting out, and I plugged up my pipe stem, and then I noticed that pushing the pipecleaner in one direction did a better job of removing black gunk which I could see in my transparent Lucite stem. So I can just remove it later, or avoid pushing all the way into the bowl and use something like a bristle brush to to deal with the shank once a week. How's that for progress with the OCD?
Thank you, All, for sharing your great ideas and routines!