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Radice Buttons Breaking - Coincidence?

(47 posts)
  • Started 3 years ago by peckinpahhombre
  • Latest reply from briardan
  1. peckinpahhombre

    peckinpahhombre

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    Many people view Radice pipes as good smokers and I can't quibble with that.

    However, the experiences I have had with the brand have left me wondering whether there may be a deficiency in either the acrylic that Radice uses on their stems or in they way their stems are made.

    In my almost 4 years smoking a pipe I have only had issues with five pipe stems breaking. One incident was with a Castello that I dropped, resulting in a broken tenon on the stem, which I sent back to Castello in Cantu for repair.

    The other four incidents, however, have all been with Radice pipes, and none involved dropping the pipe in any way. In each of the four cases (the most recent of which happened only this morning), the same exact thing happened: the very end of the button, or lip, of the stem simply broke off in my mouth while I was smoking the pipe.

    I smoke numerous brands of pipes. Many have vulcanite stems, but many also have acrylic stems (including Castello and Savineli, among others), and I have never had this issue with any brand except Radice.

    And four times, no less, with the exact same thing happening in each case.

    Now, I do clench often, but it is starting to strike me as far more than a coincidence. Could it be that Radice uses a different type of acrylic than other brands, such as Castello or Savinelli? Could it be that Radice makes their buttons unusually thin?

    The issue could be me of course, but then if it is, I don't know why I haven't had the same issue with any of my other pipes.

    I am really struggling here, since each pipe was a great smoker, but as it stand now, I would never buy another Radice.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  2. fitzy

    fitzy

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    That's pretty disturbing Peck. I think you just need to give up pipe smoking and ship your tobacco cellar to me.

    Seriously though that sucks. I have been thinking about buying a Radice but after hearing this I think I'll stick to Caminetto, Savinelli and Castello.

    "These are ghosts that are more at home in a girdle-filled drawer than one of my pipes." Quote by Neil Archer Roan on lakeland ghosts
    Posted 3 years ago #
  3. georged

    georged

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    Please describe the break itself. Simple crack, a section actually came off, etc. Pic if possible.

    Dogs live such short lives... and spend most it waiting for us to come home
    Posted 3 years ago #
  4. peckinpahhombre

    peckinpahhombre

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    George, the exact same thing has happened in all four cases. The button litterally shatters. Pics of the latest victim are below.



    Posted 3 years ago #
  5. pruss

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    Peck can you get a clear shot of the area of the break? The focus is off on the button and I'd like to see how clean that plane is where the break occurred on the stem.

    -- Pat

    Posted 3 years ago #
  6. davet

    davet

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    Wow, looks like it must be very brittle, does it appear to be thinner than other bits ?

    Posted 3 years ago #
  7. peckinpahhombre

    peckinpahhombre

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    Best I can do with my camera:




    Posted 3 years ago #
  8. oldreddog

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    That's a pain in the stones peck.
    I just spent a fair amount of overtime money on a Radice rind nose warmer. Now I have a bit of a sinking feeling.

    Killing me won't bring back your apples.
    Posted 3 years ago #
  9. peckinpahhombre

    peckinpahhombre

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    Wow, looks like it must be very brittle, does it appear to be thinner than other bits ?

    I don't know if its thinner than bits on other pipes because the only brand I've ever seen a cross section of is my 4 Radice when they broke. All four seemed to be around the same thickness. Its like they just shattered in my mouth.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  10. georged

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    Acrylics are the same in the way all bread is the same. There's an effectively infinite number of combinations and ingredient proportions that will result in what APPEARS to be the same thing, but the performance/behavior characteristics will be different.

    Looks to me like Radice bought a batch of stem material that is unsuitably fragile for pipe stem use. No matter how hard you clench (within reason---a hydraulic Terminator jaw doesn't count), a stem should NEVER shatter or crumble. Period, no exceptions.

    I'm sure they are well aware of it, too. Such shattering is rare in the PipeWorld, and would stand out like like a sore thumb shortly after the pipes from a given batch were sold. Hopefully they will make it right if you contact them.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  11. peckinpahhombre

    peckinpahhombre

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    That's a pain in the stones peck.
    I just spent a fair amount of overtime money on a Radice rind nose warmer. Now I have a bit of a sinking feeling.

    Don't get me wrong. I don't want to diss the brand. Maybe they just don't work for clenching, at least for my mouth pattern. I have 18 Castellos in the rotation, four Savs, and one Caminetto and never had an issue, so maybe those brands just suit me better.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  12. pruss

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    Man... that's interesting. I default to George as he's seen WAY more stems than I ever have. But that button looks suspect to me. The ovoid shape around the airway appears to be different material or at least different colour than the rest of the material which made up the stem/button.

    Very interesting.

    -- Pat

    Posted 3 years ago #
  13. peckinpahhombre

    peckinpahhombre

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    I'm sure they are well aware of it, too. Hopefully they will make it right if you contact them.

    I tossed the other three in the bin and will do the same with this one. Not really worth my time to be chasing them for a $190 pipe. I will likely refrain from buying another, however.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  14. georged

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    The ovoid shape around the airway appears to be different material or at least different colour than the rest of the material which made up the stem/button.

    That's the base of the funnel.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  15. oldreddog

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    No worries peck I take your point that they are good smokers, mine is an instant favorite, and you are being quite fair to the brand. It's just when I saw your post I was thinking ah feck.
    Georged has alleviated my worries though

    Posted 3 years ago #
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    frozenchurchwarden

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    FYI if anyone is taking pics with their cell phone.

    Camera lenses can only focus so close, some lenses do have a very close minimum focus distance, but even those will have their limits (though sometimes the theoretical minimum focus distance is inside the lens, it's still a distance away from the sensor).

    Most cell phone cameras are designed for wide angle images, not close-ups. Trying to fill the frame with a small object is going to place the subject too close to the camera, it physically can't focus at that distance, so the software ignores your attempts and focuses on the next thing back that can be focused on.

    If your images are turning out blurry, move the object farther away so that the camera can actually focus on it, then crop the image later.

    It may seem counter intuitive not to fill the frame, but we have plenty of resolution nowdays, the detail on a tiny spot that's in focus is going to be greater than something filling the frame that's out of focus.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  17. peteguy

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    I assume the coincidence of all 4 being Radice would exclude these were bought as estates from the same person, etc. I was just thinking of the last few months and seeing all of the super glue threads. You probably bought them new anyway. Craziest thing I have ever seen whatever the reason. I think I will go back to mis-pronouncing their name....

    Posted 3 years ago #
  18. dcrguns

    dcrguns

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    That really stinks. I was thinking of getting a couple of Radice pipes but I think I will pass now. Thanks for posting this.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  19. georged

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    I'm afraid this just became a non-issue.

    I did a bit of P.I. Google-fu, found his driver's license photo on a database, and discovered that Mr. Hombre is a rather, um, unique individual. (pic attached)

    It's safe to say that the problem he has with pipe stems is not something that most people need to worry about.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  20. oldreddog

    oldreddog

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    georged

    Is that stem in his teeth?

    Posted 3 years ago #
  21. bonehed

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    Love the faux bamboo though...

    Posted 3 years ago #
  22. homewaters

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    Hi Peck,

    I once owned a laser cutting/engraving machine and I used to clean the residues from the heat and smoke produced by the laser on wood and plastic with alcohol. All was good until I started working with Plexiglass Acrylic sheets. Wherever there was a sharp angle in the cut, the acrylic would eventually crack. When I read your post, it reminded me of the same problem...

    If you are cleaning your acrylic stems with any kind of alcohol, you might be experiencing the same thing. I assume the button on a Radice may have a very sharp angle where that lip meets the stem? If you are using rubber bits, maybe some of the alcohol got trapped in there and it made the problem even worse. I am not a chemist by any mean but I read that alcohol can destroy the polymer chains, creating cracks.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  23. aggravatedfarmer

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    I would assume its acrylic quality if each stem were different. If each stem is exactly the same bit, length, and girth. Then craftsmanship may be to blame.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  24. papipeguy

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    That's some serious damage. I've had my Radice Rind for 8 years with a clear Lucite stem. No problems to date but I think an email to them is definitely in order. That just isn't right with one pipe let alone four.

    Blowin' smoke since 1970.
    Posted 3 years ago #
  25. peckinpahhombre

    peckinpahhombre

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    homewaters, thats an interesting theory. This pipe did not have a rubber bit, but I when I clean my pipes I do use 99% iso. The stuff evaporates in seconds, but if it is a chemical reaction then that would mean nothing. I am still a bit mystified that I have only had the issue with Radice though.

    Interestingy I found this thread at the PSF forum talking about this issue, though the "experiment" at the end suggests it may not be a problem.

    http://pipesmokersforum.com/community/threads/clean-acrylic-stem-with-alcohol.15449/

    Posted 3 years ago #
  26. samcoffeeman

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    I just say Acrylic sucks donkey balls anyway.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  27. peckinpahhombre

    peckinpahhombre

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    I just say Acrylic sucks donkey balls anyway.

    Sam, when it comes to any issues involving the sucking of balls, I always defer to you as the acknowledged expert in the field.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  28. homewaters

    homewaters

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    I found this video on YouTube. It is the same reaction I remember happening after trying to clean some Plexiglass I had just cut with the laser. In the video you can see the person applying heat to the edges and when I was using the laser it was heat creating the cut as well so I wonder if that would be the reason why you have the problem with Radice and no other brands. Perhaps heat is used in their process of finishing their buttons and it could be a different process for other makers.

    http://youtu.be/w8MEhbH6DK4

    Posted 3 years ago #
  29. jpmcwjr

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    Well, it got me thinking a bit about clenching.

    Don't get me wrong. I don't want to diss the brand. Maybe they just don't work for clenching, at least for my mouth pattern. I have 18 Castellos in the rotation, four Savs, and one Caminetto and never had an issue, so maybe those brands just suit me better.

    My clenching seems to avoid pressure on the button. But that hardly explains in your case why only the Radice, unless it's the things you've pointed out- thinness of stem, method of cleaning, perhaps alcohol weakening, perhaps manufacturing process. Have or had you had other Radices that didn't shatter?

    I know that you believe you understood what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
    Posted 3 years ago #
  30. snagstangl

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    I am with everyone else. Having lucite simply shatter is crazy. I did see something about you tossing those in the bin. If you pitched them maybe you could send them the free pipe project. Or send it to me, I would cut a new stem for it just to have a Radice.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  31. shutterbug

    shutterbug

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    Peck:
    Here are some of my Radices and the buttons. They all seem to be fine when I smoke them but, I always use a softie and I do clench...I haven't found anything really wrong with them. Your pics look like there's a bit of age and deterioration that caused it to crumble. Please don't bin them! I love the brand and might be willing to buy some of yours if you are willing. I'm in the GTA so it won't be such an issue.






















    Shutterbug

    Posted 3 years ago #
  32. shutterbug

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    To add:
    I do clean them after every smoke, and they see their fair share in the rotation. I use 99% alcohol, and run cleaners through them like crazy. I clench relatively normally, and the only issue for me seems to be the twin bores, where they might be a bit more fragile, but not to the point where I coddle them. I like the acrylic, and think it is harder and more durable than my vulcanites, but that's just my opinion. If anything, I believe it could be just age that deteriorates them to the point that with some clenching strength, they could shatter. Peck were they all bought during the same period or from the same estate (if they were estates)? How old are they if you can date them?

    Shutterbug

    Posted 3 years ago #
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    frozenchurchwarden

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    Peck:

    I tossed the other three in the bin and will do the same with this one. Not really worth my time to be chasing them for a $190 pipe. I will likely refrain from buying another, however.

    What bin? Tell me it's a spare parts bin, or a toy bin, just... ouch that's harsh.

    Stem replacements aren't that expensive.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  34. disinformatique

    The Pipe Monk

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    Someone at Radice needs to get their butt kicked for purchasing sub-standard acrylic.

    Albert Einstein was once quoted as saying, “I believe that pipe smoking contributes to a somewhat calm and objective judgment in all human affairs.” One of the reasons behind this statement is that pipe smoking is meant to be a slow leisurely activity. It takes patience to smoke a pipe. Unlike cigarettes and cigars, there is a certain amount of technique to smoking a pipe. Where cigars and cigarettes can just be picked up, lit and puffed on, pipes require the development of a technique in order to get the best smoking experience.
    Posted 3 years ago #
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    lestrout

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    Yo Pec et al

    Many acrylics in general, and Lucite in particular, are polymethylmethacrylate. How the finished plastic would respond to solvent attack and stresses would depend on the processes in forming the piece and stuff like the molecular weight distribution of the polymer chains. Just because both ethanol and isopropanol evaporate quickly wouldn't necessarily be the main factor. If there was any porosity or microcracks (or cracks) in the pipestem or if there is a tendency for the alcohol molecules to be absorbed, reacted or bound (hydrogen bonding or plain molecular attraction - this is the way soap works on oils) by something in the stem; and especially if there was latent stress within the pipestem structure, that latent pressure could be relieved suddenly by the exposure to a solvent.

    My guess, since most Radice stems, and for that matter, most Lucite and acrylic stems, do not seem to fail Peck's way in great numbers, is that a combination of factors obtain here:

    1) his 4 Radices have in common whatever acrylic stems Radice uses
    2) maybe Radice uses heat and/or physical shaping in a unique way to form the buttons
    3) Peck has an unusual way of clenching or biting on his stems, that induces or aggravates latent stresses
    4) he puts alcohol on the stems.

    Although ethanol and isopropanol are similar (compared to water, hydrocarbons, acids, ketones, esters, etc) chemically, they do differ in solvency effects. One set of plastic pieces may be fine with the one alcohol, but not the other.

    hp
    les

    Posted 3 years ago #
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    bigpond

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    The first thought that leaps out is they expand the slot using a drill at high rpm's rather than files alone.

    Good post Les.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  37. peckinpahhombre

    peckinpahhombre

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    I did receive a few private emails from folks who have had issues with Radice, including one prominent pipe seller who informed me that he is extraordinarily careful with Radice stems and their cleaning because he has had a number of issues with them cracking and splitting at the button and elsewhere. This has been a real eye opener for me.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  38. rhoadsie

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    Well crap, Radice pipes are a favorite of mine. I guess I have to rethink their position in my PAD.

    Posted 3 years ago #
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    bigpond

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    one prominent pipe seller who informed me that he is extraordinarily careful with Radice stems and their cleaning because he has had a number of issues with them cracking and splitting at the button and elsewhere

    Did he have any insights as to what may be the source of the stem issues?

    Posted 3 years ago #
  40. jpberg

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    Peck, were any of them twin bores?

    Posted 3 years ago #
  41. peckinpahhombre

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    None were twin bores.

    Did he have any insights as to what may be the source of the stem issues?

    He indicated that based on the Radice pipes he has seen they use a much "stiffer and harder acrylic" than, say, Castello. He said: "I am extra careful when cleaning Radice stems and never do I use a drill bit to loosen material in the stems. I have had tenons shatter, buttons split, and holes just show up mid stem on Radice’s"

    Posted 3 years ago #
  42. cosmicfolklore

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    Yikes! I have a Radice bulldog, but it has a vulcanite stem. Love it! But, I'll have to make sure that any more Radices I get don't use acrylic. Thanks for the heads up.

    Michael
    Posted 3 years ago #
  43. fishingandpipes

    fishingandpipes

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    So what do people use to clean acrylic stems if not alcohol? I mostly avoid using alcohol, though recently did a thorough cleaning of all my pipes (pretty much all acrylic stems) and did use it. I rinsed them with water after to get it off quickly, though...

    Posted 3 years ago #
  44. agnosticpipe

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    I found this discussion interesting, not because I have any Radice pipes, but I've come across a couple of Ascorti pipes that look to have suffered similar problems. In the last year I have bought two Ascorti Business pipes that have had rather large chunks missing from the button. I got them rather cheap because of this, but have been able to restore the buttons with black super glue. The chunks that were missing were maybe about 1/4" or less square and looked to have been broken out not chewed through. So far they've been smoking fine, but then because they are rather heavy pipes, I don't clench them that often.

    I don't know if this means anything at all, but these two pipe makers have a shared past, and maybe use the same materials, and or the same manufacturing style. Just thought it was interesting to think about.

    The pipe smoker formerly know as agnostic pipe
    "Fried food, hard liquor, and tobacco, that's the holy trinity!"- Stacy Keach
    Posted 3 years ago #
  45. fishingandpipes

    fishingandpipes

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    I actually had a Bonfiglioli this happened to as well, a white acrylic stem.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  46. briardan

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    I think you should contact Radice and possibly ask if they can use Vulcanite. They do make vulcanite on some pipes but only 10% of the pipes get one according to the website. I'm sure it is better they know about this problem so they can address the issue. No feedback is worse than bad feedback when you are trying to create a quality product. I have not had this problem, but I never rest my pipe in my mouth. I used to collect Radice's but have recently switched to Savinelli. It's not due to lack of smoke qualities but lack of comfort. I find older PUNTO ORO'S, NONPARIEL's, GUILBLEO D' ORO'S, and AUTOGRAPHS used vulcanite stem which in turn are more comfortable and more forgiving. There sizes also fit my needs as many Radice's tend to be clunky. I find Savinelli's are very consistant and haven't had a bad one yet.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  47. briardan

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    Rich Lewis also can fabricate a Radice stem if you prefer to send it domestically. He can also used Vulcanite to prevent this from happening again.

    Posted 3 years ago #

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