Cleaning My Beloved Radice Aero Reverse Calabash Pipes

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GlassMan

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Jul 13, 2020
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87
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Hello all. I’ve searched on here and elsewhere. I’ve read GL Pease’s article on this exact pipe series. I’ve asked fellow pipers. So far, I haven’t found a suitable answer.

I’m new. Not a seasoned pro, but deep enough into this hobby to not feel like a complete fool.

I had always taken the stem off the pipe I smoked that day after it had cooled off all the way to clean it better (folded over pipe cleaner through the mortise and tenon separately as you can’t do this through the button end.) That is, until I read an article on smoking pipes about cleaning. I believe it was by Chuck Stanion. I’ll link it. He basically said don’t take your pipe apart very often at all to clean deeply. Only after many bowls (weekly or monthly if I recall). I was doing it after EVERY bowl.


Now I get his advice and have begun sort of following it more for some of my pipes. General theory is less wear and tear on the mortise and tenon. My question/the caveat to his advice revolves around my Radice Rind Aero Reverse Calabash.

As most of you know, the reverse calabash has a large condensation/cooling chamber between the smoke hole and the stem. Without getting out a caliper I’d say it’s at least 5/8” diameter, maybe 3/4” deep? After a decent sized bowl of what I believe to be appropriately moist Virginia, it has a significant amount of moisture in it. Probably only about 5 real “drops” if you tipped it over, but enough that a thorough paper towel swab out Is necessary. If not, the second bowl would be gurgle city. Also, it seems odd to me to leave it to absorb into the briar. So much gross resin moisture that I don’t think is adding anything to my pipes nutty character. So I swab it out every single time, after the pipe has completely cooled.

So the REAL reason I ask is because of something super strange that happened to me this week. I live in Phoenix. 115 degrees lately and very low humidity. I drove up to northern Arizona this past week Where it was nearly 60 degrees cooler and significantly more humid. My purchased new 4 month old Radice Aero that has always had an exceptionally snug stem fitment literally was so loose it fell out from gravity/it’s own weight if I tipped the stem down. I understand that things contract when they get cold and expand when hot, but this seemed extreme. Does anybody think I’ve caused damage? Is there any solution? The pipe is as tight as it always was now that I’m home, but I’m wondering what’s going to happen come winter here. Also, what would have happened if somebody in Alaska bought the same pipe (would it have been unacceptably loose upon arrival to a cold city)

I also find this interesting. Different pipe makers in different regions making the stem to briar fitment in different temperatures/climates year round, then shipping those pipes to potentially opposite climates. It reminds me of how a door in my house swells and sticks in the summer and is perfectly functional in winter due to the expansion and contraction.

Also, does anybody know what the little black bushing material is on the inside of the Aeros? I’ll include photos in a follow up post.

Thanks!
 
Last edited:

alaskanpiper

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May 23, 2019
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I live in Alaska. Some pipes that are shipped in the winter show up with loose-ish stems, especially if they come from warmer climates. Some I could spin with the tap of a finger. They usually fit perfectly well after one smoke as the rubber gets warm again and then cools at room temp inside.

I’d guess the heat then cool just changed the rubber a bit, another smoke to get the rubber warm and then immediately letting it cool inside may do the trick. If that doesn’t work you could youtube the candle trick to reset the tenon (See video below).

I doubt the regular stem removal has done any kind of permanent damage, especially not in only 4 months.

 
Last edited:

GlassMan

New member
Jul 13, 2020
44
87
Tempe
I live in Alaska. Some pipes that are shipped in the winter show up with loose-ish stems, especially if they come from warmer climates. Some I could spin with the tap of a finger. They usually fit perfectly well after one smoke as the rubber gets warm again and then cools at room temp inside.

I’d guess the heat then cool just changed the rubber a bit, another smoke to get the rubber warm and then immediately letting it cool inside may do the trick. If that doesn’t work you could youtube the candle trick to reset the tenon (See video below).

I doubt the regular stem removal has done any kind of permanent damage, especially not in only 4 months.

I appreciate it. I guess the bigger question, “would you clean that pipe after every bowl the way I described?”
 
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chasingembers

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Nov 12, 2014
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I've disassembled and cleaned and polished every pipe I've owned over the past thirty years immediately after smoking it.
 
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GlassMan

New member
Jul 13, 2020
44
87
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Likely an internal vulcanite or acrylic ferrule to reduce wear on the tenon.
I guess that’s pretty obvious I could have assumed. It does seem like this sort of pipe is more prone to expansion and contraction. The bigger the mortise, the more it could expand. Seems logical. Same thing applies to other materials in different ways. The bigger the piece of wood, the more it can potentially warp, etc.
 
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chasingembers

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I guess that’s pretty obvious I could have assumed. It does seem like this sort of pipe is more prone to expansion and contraction. The bigger the mortise, the more it could expand. Seems logical. Same thing applies to other materials in different ways. The bigger the piece of wood, the more it can potentially warp, etc.
Did they come with slotted tampers?
 
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chasingembers

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The lighter one did as I bought it brand new. The darker one was an eBay find and had no tamper. I never really use it for cleaning as it seems like more fuss, but I do love the design and functionality of the slotted tamped. Reminds me of gun cleaning tools.
Yeah, cotton swabs are easier for cleaning the cooling chamber.👍
 
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newbroom

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Jul 11, 2014
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I tend to smoke the pipes the require least effort to maintain. I agree that dismantling a pipe after every smoke is adding wear and tear.
If it doesn't pass a cleaner, it will sit till I am inspired, and have time to maintain the thing post smoke.
 
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jpmcwjr

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May 12, 2015
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I remove the stem as seldom as possible.

It's less likely that the vulcanite is contracting or expanding than a briar mortise. Wetting the mortise either directly or through smoking will tighten the fit. Drying it out will loosen it. There are other factors, such as reducing friction when it's wet, making it seem looser, and opposite, it'll feel tighter when the mortise is dry due to friction.
 
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cigrmaster

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May 26, 2012
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I clean my pipe after every bowl. I break it down, clean the stem, shank, mortise and bowl. The bowl I make sure not to get rid of anything but loose ash and tobacco, don't want to mess with the cake. I have never had a problem with a pipe being to clean.
 

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