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Stem polishing; oxidation

(30 posts)
  1. jpmcwjr

    jpmcwjr

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    Most of the posts I've read about cleaning stems dealt with micro mesh, which my locals don't carry. So I bought some wet dry sand paper, 600, 1500 and 2500. One beater I am practicing on I used the 600. Took quite a while to get the oxidation off. What should I be using? (I also have some 400 in the garage some where.)

    Should one use Oxyclean first, last or not at all?

    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 2 years ago #
  2. chasingembers

    Embers

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    I just use Barkeeper's Friend. A bit more elbow grease, but the results are great!

    Damnation seize my soul if I give you quarters, or take any from you.
    -Edward Teach
    Posted 2 years ago #
  3. ashdigger

    ashdigger

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    I start with 400 then hit the Micromesh I think 1500 up to 2500 and then I use Obsidian oil. After that I go up to the finest grit dry and more Obsidian.

    Amazon sells micromesh.

    Reborn pipes has a great resto how to.

    Ubi Ignis Est?
    Posted 2 years ago #
  4. fnord

    fnord

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    I don't want to start another knife fight in a phone booth, John, but I do prefer a solid soak in bleach vs. Oxyclean and the "green" level also determines how long the stem soaks. Bleach is harsh, true. But it does a much more effective lifting of the oxidation than all the other solutions fellow restorers have proposed. I've tried them all and bleach works best for me.

    Now, if I die of Clorox-Soap-Hot Water-Everclear cancer in the next few months I'll apologize and admit I was wrong.

    I then follow up using every Micromesh pad in the kit I've ordered. It's important that all the pads have that equally well worn look.

    Fnord

    It ain't the way I wanted it! I can handle things! I'm smart! Not like everybody says - like dumb - I'm smart and I want respect!
    Fredo Corleone
    Posted 2 years ago #
  5. torque

    torque

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    It's the sulfur in the vulcanite that oxidizes. Most of the time the sulfur is only partially oxidized, that's why it can be a pain to get off. A method like oxyclean finishes oxidizing the rest of the surface sulfur making it "soft" and allowing it the be removed much easier. Once all the surface sulfur is oxidized it can be removed pretty easily with a mild abrasive like a magic eraser sponge or barkeeper's friend.

    The problem with using a heavy grit paper is that you basically sand away the top layer of the vulcanite exposing more sulfur to light, heat, and oxygen which starts the oxidation cycle all over again. It's better to "pre-oxidize" all the surface sulfur using the oxyclean method (or some other similar method), rubbing away all the oxidized sulfur using a mild abrasive, and then only using very fine grit papers to finish the stem. This will smooth the surface that has had the sulfur removed instead of exposing more sulfur. This involves a LOT more work but it's a much better method than just going after it with a heavy grit sandpaper or (just as bad) brown tripoli on a buffing wheel. Just my two cents on the subject.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  6. ejames

    ejames

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    Bleach followed by 400-600-800-1000 used wet.Buff with white diamond=Shiny.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  7. chasingembers

    Embers

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    When you submerge the stem in a chemical solution, then remove the oxidation, is the diameter of the tenon affected?

    Posted 2 years ago #
  8. danielplainview

    dave g

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    I've only used bleach on few very bad stems. It does bring them back to black again, but it will be rough and still need wet sanded.

    Bleach will eat any metal stinger, banding, and logos, so cover them carefully with Vaseline to protect.

    I prefer to soak with Oxy Clean then wet sand up to 2500-3000 grit.

    Be careful not to round off the stem face near the tenon.

    @chasing

    Just coat the tenon in Vaseline before soaking. I never try to deoxidize or sand it. A good alcohol scrub for the tenon is all that's needed.

    Make aromatics great again.
    Posted 2 years ago #
  9. pagan

    pagan

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    Magic eraser (Mr. Clean) works really well if you don/t have any micro mesh

    Nowhere in the world will such a brotherly feeling of confidence be experienced as amongst those who sit together smoking their pipes
    Posted 2 years ago #
  10. stvalentine

    stvalentine

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    Bench buffer - everything else is a royal PITA IMHO....

    "Ride it like you stole it!"

    The Old Swede
    Posted 2 years ago #
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    Anonymous

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    Pagan uses what I've used for quit a while on the estate pipes I purchase from eBay. The Magic Eraser does the trick. Then I finish it off with 1500 grit and mineral oil, takes some time but worth the effort. To stop oxidation from ever reoccurring, every other smoke I keep a rag nearby with Bee's wax and mineral oil and give a wipe down. I've never had the oxidation problems since. Hey, it's a good hobby and will keep you busy. I enjoy restoring old pipes.

    KEEP ON PUFFING!!!

    Posted 2 years ago #
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    Anonymous

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    Oh, you can buff with white diamond or Flitz Polish, will shine better then when it was new.

    KEEP ON PUFFING!!!

    Posted 2 years ago #
  13. jpmcwjr

    jpmcwjr

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    Gentlemen:

    THANK YOU! A compendium for sure, including some of our best and brightest. Back to the salt mines! More dunking and sanding. And I have plenty of mineral oil from my butcher block days.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  14. jeepnewbie

    jeepnewbie

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    JP I'm not sure where you are from, but if you have access to a Hobby Lobby you can pick up the micromesh 2x2 pads. As far as bleach and oxyclean I've only used oxy clean, but willing to try the bleach on my next batch of the restores. I usually let them soak then do all the magic eraser at the sink since they tend to turn it really dark fast. I then use 600 unless really bad pitting then I go 400. If there are holes I use small sanding sticks to try and get out the oxidation then work on filling them instead of sanding down to that level.

    "Keep it Classy"
    Posted 2 years ago #
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    phineastoad

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    very much a rookie but...

    Would Hydrogen Peroxide work?

    I have been collecting used pipes and use it for cleansing.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  16. ssjones

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    When you submerge the stem in a chemical solution, then remove the oxidation, is the diameter of the tenon affected?

    Absolutely. Any time you were removing oxidation, you are removing a layer of vulcanite and making the stem incrementally smaller. This is really only noticeable on sharp edges - the shank/stem junction, saddle or bulldog edges, buttons, etc. The key is to remove enough of the oxidation and at the same time, not alter the stem dimension any more than is necessary.

    That is why sometimes at the edge of my stems (at the shank junction), you'll see some remnants of oxidation.

    Al

    Posted 2 years ago #
  17. iamn8

    Nate

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    As a Dunhill fan, oxidation is a scourge... until I found those MrClean erasers. They work wonders and are aptly named.

    Nate @ Moody AL
    Posted 2 years ago #
  18. jefff

    jefff

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    Once you have it clean, grab a Jewelers cloth. Cosmic turned me onto these. One side is a very mild abrasive and the other is a wax.

    I have had no oxidation issues since I started using it.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  19. mathoozula

    mathoozula

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    I tried to get the oxidation off my beater Rossi by soaking the stem in rubbing alcohol. I'll admit I didn't know what I was doing because it became even more oxidized. I tried to rub some out, but it really wasn't working.

    I'm going to try the Magic Eraser suggestion. I think I may have oxidized the top level if its that kind of stem. Now I just need to clean it up and maybe it will stop in the future. I don't know, I'm no chemist. lol

    Posted 2 years ago #
  20. cynicismandsugar

    Jeffrey Deal

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    Recently I removed some oxidation using the Magic Eraser method with a bit of hot (distilled) water. It worked fine in removing the stem oxidation, but the gloss is now more of a matte finish. Then, I went ahead and polished the stem with Paragon Wax, but I couldn't get the smooth shine back.

    Is there any hope of polishing the stem back to a smooth shine, without a buffing wheel? Thanks, in advance.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  21. pagan

    pagan

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    I use a buffing wheel that attaches to my variable speed drill, clamp it in my vice and set it on the lowest speed and buff with Carnauba wax, works like a charm, both items available on the bay for under $2

    Posted 2 years ago #
  22. dino

    dino

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    ^Jeffrey, get a tube of Flitz Polish (non-abrasive, non-toxic)and some Obsidian oil. After using the Magic Eraser, polish with Flitz, and finish with Obsidian. The stem will look great.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  23. chapu

    chapu

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    Hey, fellows! So, I'm looking into restoring some old stems myself (bought a couple of estate lots over the internet). I've seen people talking wonders about polishing/buffing wheels made of fabric, so I got a couple of those to attach to my power drill. Now, I have some questions:

    I've seen a fellow on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voF3-nKdIdk) finishing a pipe by polishing both stummel and stem (vulcanite, I think) with brown tripoli and then buffing both with carnauba. But then I also saw people advocating for white diamond. So, what's the difference between brown tripoli and white diamond? Is one of the two more suitable for the stummel vs. the stem? What about polishing/buffing vulcanite stems vs. acrylic ones?

    Also, is the tripoli/diamond on a wheel a substitute for hand polishing with micromesh/magic eraser? I'm only asking because where I live, micromesh is a no-no. I can only get things that are similar looking, but not having a micromesh pad available for comparison, I'm not exactly sure just how similar they are. I'm trying to go for the high glossy finish, for what it's worth.

    Thanks a bunch!

    Posted 2 years ago #
  24. ssjones

    ssjones

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    @chapu:
    Brown tripoli is a more abrasive compound, you need to be careful with it, as the cutting properties can do more damage than good. White diamond is finer and a final finishing compound.
    Micro-mesh really isn't readily available, but easy to mail order (in the US).

    Posted 2 years ago #
  25. cynicismandsugar

    Jeffrey Deal

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    Thank you to Pagan and Dino. I've taken notes, and will be trying your suggestions with future projects.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  26. jpmcwjr

    jpmcwjr

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    Is the scouring side of a Scotch pad similar to micro-mesh?

    Posted 2 years ago #
  27. ssjones

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    @jpm , no nothing like a Scotch-Brite, much finer.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  28. chapu

    chapu

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    Thanks, ssjones! So, let's say I cannot get micromesh pads (I live in Argentina, getting things from abroad is no easy task, not to say nearly impossible), can I replace them with brown tripoli on a wheel in order to remove oxidation from old stems? Being careful, obviously. And then maybe finishing with white diamond and finally carnauba?

    Posted 2 years ago #
  29. ssjones

    ssjones

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    I don't like getting oxidation off a stem by buffing. Go to you nearest auto-body supply house and get some 800, 1,000, 1,500 & 2,000 grit wet sandpaper, then buff with white diamond. Micro-mesh is more for finishing. High grade sand paper does the same thing, much cheaper. I'm sure there are auto-body supply world-wide.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  30. chapu

    chapu

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    Ah, yes. That was what I was referring to when I said I could get my hands on something similar to micromesh. This is the confirmation I needed! So wet sanding, polishing and buffing it will be. Thanks!

    Posted 2 years ago #

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