Does My Stem Need a Good Clean?

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Kevin B

New member
Apr 3, 2020
3
3
EDIT: Fixed Capitalization in Title (See Rule 9) - Bob

So I recently picked up a vintage Big Ben pipe with the intention of restoring it. Now i have cleaned and reamed out the bowl, but im not sure what to do with the stem. It looks really dirty and oxidized but the thing is that its feels smooth and i've tried to scratch the top with my nail but and the oxidized 'finish' doesn't seem to come off. Is this the actual color of the stem or is it just really dirty? Also i can't really find too much information about this pipe. The Brand is "Big Ben" And the model is "Dr Key 5452" If anyone could help me with my problem i'd be very thankfulindex.jpgindex3.jpg
 

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brendan18

Member
Apr 27, 2015
229
100
The stem is oxidised to hell. From the tenon you can see what the colour should be. Have you washed the stem? If not, you can see a lot of oxidisation come with toothpaste.
 

Kevin B

New member
Apr 3, 2020
3
3
The stem is oxidised to hell. From the tenon you can see what the colour should be. Have you washed the stem? If not, you can see a lot of oxidisation come with toothpaste.
I have tried to clean it with some rubbing alcohol and a toothbrush. Is there any way i can still make my stem usable? Maybe sand it?
 
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BROBS

Preferred Member
Nov 13, 2019
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Sand it with 600 grit then 800 grit then buff with white diamond or a polishing cloth. 👍

good luck it’s going to be a lot of work.
 

brendan18

Member
Apr 27, 2015
229
100
I would use alcohol so much, because if not mistaken it can stimulate oxidisation. What i would recommend is get a microfiber cloth put some toothpaste and water on it, and rub it on the stem. The toothpaste has fine abrasive particles that will help remove oxidisation. Put some toothpaste on an bristle pipe cleaner to clean the airway.

Or use wet 2000grit sandpaper to make as black as possible. 2000grit, because it minimises the material being removed.

Be careful with the stem marking. I would take a needle and deepen the marking so that it doesn't disappear when cleaning the stem.

This is what i would recommend, but there are a lot of videos of stem restoration. For example,
 

chasingembers

Preferred Member
Nov 12, 2014
21,050
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A lighter? How?

Quickly heat the stem and wipe it with a wet paper towel. I had a video of it, but YouTube deleted it for inappropriate content : tobacco.
 

greeneyes

Preferred Member
Jun 5, 2018
562
1,458
I've got six pipes soaking--the stummels in wood alcohol, and the stems (very oxidized) in warm water with a tablespoon of OxyClean. After soaking much of the oxidized exterior becomes a sludge that comes off with a few passes of a sponge (I find it also helps to loosen the crud inside the stem as well). Then I finish with some fine grit wet-or-dry sandpaper (1000, then 3000) and olive oil or obsidian oil.

oxyclean.jpg
 

elessar

Senior Member
Apr 24, 2019
359
433
All good suggestions. I use wet sanding finishing at 12000grit (going from memory on that). The other methods work also. I haven't tried the lighter but I definitely will in the future. Keep in mind that removing the oxidation will reduce the diameter of the stem. You are removing material. It may or may not be noticeable though.
 

BROBS

Preferred Member
Nov 13, 2019
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All good suggestions. I use wet sanding finishing at 12000grit (going from memory on that). The other methods work also. I haven't tried the lighter but I definitely will in the future. Keep in mind that removing the oxidation will reduce the diameter of the stem. You are removing material. It may or may not be noticeable though.
The lighter removes no material but I haven’t found it to remove incredibly deep oxidation.
 

mingc

Preferred Member
Jun 20, 2019
697
1,406
Portland, Oregon

Quickly heat the stem and wipe it with a wet paper towel. I had a video of it, but YouTube deleted it for inappropriate content : tobacco.
Will a heat gun work, or must it be a flame?
 

Kevin B

New member
Apr 3, 2020
3
3
Here’s a little update on the big ben pipe that i’ve been working on. The stem is turning out great i think. I just started cleaning it with a toothbrush and rubbing alcohol. Still have to buff it out but i’ve come a long way since yesterday i’s say.
Thank you for all the helpful information!07907525-BC14-4745-B09F-AE29199B11FF.jpeg4FA33EC0-4261-423D-A4D2-95BEE5B836D8.jpeg6CC34F38-0B51-47FE-A971-2CAC372DC08F.jpeg
 
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