Draw too tight, even after opening... solution?

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beastinview

Part of the Furniture Now
Jan 5, 2016
504
1
I bought a Stanwell pipe off eBay a while ago, and it's fine except the draw is way tighter than I like, and I just can't get it to smoke well. I know some like a tight draw, but I just can't keep anything lit in it, and I don't have this problem in any of my other pipes.
I read articles about how to open the draw with a drill bit and I did so. The problem is that even after doing all this, the draw is still just as tight: apparently the "tightness" is produced by the bend of the stem. I did drill out the stem, but I can't get through the bend.
What should I do? My first thought was to straighten the stem, drill it straight through, then rebend it. The stem doesn't seem to become flexible when heated like vulcanite, as I've bent and straightened those before. I believe it's acrylic or lucite? I heated it up quite a bit in hot water and with a hair dryer, and couldn't get it to straighten at all, and I was cautious of heating it much more than that. Will I actually need to heat water to boiling to bend a stem like this?
The other thought I had was if there exist something like a flexible metal pipe cleaner, threading it through the stem and attaching it through the pipes to slowly scrape the bend out to be more open. When I google thinks like "metal shank brush," it looks more like something a chimney sweep would use, so I'm not sure if such a thing exists.
Here is a picture of the pipe. (Not actually my pipe, but exact same model.)

004-001-6775.jpg

Advice?
I think it's a very beautiful pipe, perhaps even my best looking briar, but it smokes so terribly that at this point I may as well toss it in the trash if I can't get the draw more open!

 

clickklick

Lifer
May 5, 2014
1,695
192
I prefer a soft flame candle or a heat gun. Just don't get too close and take your time. Acrylic can boil and pit.

 

georged

Lifer
Mar 7, 2013
4,100
7,171
Opening airways over their entire length is a tricky business.
The questions you are asking strongly suggest you're going to wreck the stem if you continue. (Specialized tools and techniques must be used)

 

aldecaker

Lifer
Feb 13, 2015
4,407
39
Check out a product from Flexi-File called "Shape Shifters" (Item # 0908). It is a bendable aluminum core with abrasive bonded to it. You may be able to open up the bend area of the stem without having to straighten it. They are 7.5" x 1/8", and come in a range of grits.

 

zack24

Lifer
May 11, 2013
1,726
0
Check out a product from Flexi-File
This will destroy the stem in about 2 minutes if you try it without straightening the stem- you'll cut through the bottom of the curve.
Send it to George or some other repair guy to open it up- you'll be happy with the results....

 

beastinview

Part of the Furniture Now
Jan 5, 2016
504
1
Thanks for the input, everyone. I'll weigh my options. I don't want to damage it, but it's not really worth anything to me as it is. On the other hand, I don't want to spend a whole bunch sending it off considering I didn't pay much for it in the first place and could just buy another pipe without problems instead.
What is the diameter of the hole in the stem at the tenon end?
I'll have to check when I get home. It is quite small, though.

 

zack24

Lifer
May 11, 2013
1,726
0
@zack24- So, you have used this product, and gotten disastrous results?
Nope- never used it-actually sounds like a really good product for sanding airways in a stem before they're bent.... Using a flexible abrasive in a bent stem will likely destroy the stem because the pressure will be on the lower side of the curve and if done with enough force to enlarge the airway adequately will probably sand through the bottom of the curve..Didn't mean to sound quite so opinionated, but I make around 50 pipes a year and have managed to find some really innovative ways to destroy them along the way.....(and I actually did destroy a stem trying to use a different type of flexible file on a bent stem)
One way to get good results is to straighten the stem first with a candle flame or heat gun. Once it's straightened, one approach that works is a tapered 10mm drill bit from the tenon side- drill to within 3/4" of the button. Several ways to make the funnel on the button side- needle files, 9/64" drill bits, and sandpaper all will help get there. This gives you a nice diameter airway tapering into a flat funnel.
Georged probably just whips out his curved drill bit and doesn't worry about straightening it... 8)

 
Mar 1, 2014
3,388
4,279
I'd use an oven.
As mentioned, heat guns can boil the surface, it's way too fiddly and time consuming getting something like that to heat up by the right amount evenly (I've done it but it's not fun), but if you use an oven you can gradually bring the material up to just the right temperature, and by soaking for 10 minutes or so you can guarantee that the full thickness is at the right temperature and avoid potential internal fractures.

Just be aware that getting it wrong can also turn your stem into a puddle and make you spend an afternoon scrubbing plastic smells out of your oven.

Also remember that plastic becomes brittle if it cools too quickly. After you drill it and bend it back you should re-heat the stem to a temperature just below the point where it bends and let it cool off slowly over a few hours in the oven.

 

beastinview

Part of the Furniture Now
Jan 5, 2016
504
1
Any suggestions on oven temp? May give it a tentative go. I am a cautious guy, so I have that on my side at least.

 

jefff

Lifer
May 28, 2015
1,915
6
Chicago
I don't know where you live or what the pipe costs. I do know that if I don't mind waiting 6 weeks or so, I can get a very nicely cut vulcanite stem for 20.00.
I would pay twice that if I had too.

 

sasquatch

Lifer
Jul 16, 2012
1,597
2,501
Dip the part of the stem you need to unbend in boiling water. Yes, it needs to be boiling. That's just enough to do acrylic. The oven stuff is dangerous because it could change the fit of the tenon.
Hang it upside down in a pot of boiling water, it'll probably straighten on it's own. Then you can file it out with any number of small tools, drilling is very dangerous.
Then boil again, re-bend, and cool.
Never had brittle issues with acrylic, I cool it as fast as I can because it's burning my hands. :)

 

ejames

Lifer
Oct 6, 2009
3,916
15
One way to get good results is to straighten the stem first with a candle flame or heat gun. Once it's straightened, one approach that works is a tapered 10mm drill bit from the tenon side- drill to within 3/4" of the button. Several ways to make the funnel on the button side- needle files, 9/64" drill bits, and sandpaper all will help get there. This gives you a nice diameter airway tapering into a flat funnel.
10MM ? That sounds rather large. 8O Larger than then tenons I generally use--5/16'--8MM.

 
Mar 1, 2014
3,388
4,279
Dip the part of the stem you need to unbend in boiling water. Yes, it needs to be boiling. That's just enough to do acrylic. The oven stuff is dangerous because it could change the fit of the tenon.
If boiling water will do it then that definitely sounds way better, I was expecting acrylic to need higher temps, but now that I know this I'm probably going to use water from now on.
For the drill bit I've been using these if I want a large draft hole: http://www.leevalley.com/en/Hardware/page.aspx?p=40392&cat=1,180,42240

(If you're in the U.S. you can probably get something cheaper on Amazon)
That said, even 3/16" gets dangerously close to the same thickness as many stems, especially a saddle bit like the one pictured. I've basically given up on going that large all the way through most stems, plus I think a 3/8" draft feels way too open sometimes, 5/16" is the largest I'll go now, but I'm usually quite happy to just give it a 1/8" draft.
I find it's good to drill the draft hole in multiple steps, if you're trying to do this by hand it's easy to go off kilter, I'll basically run through every size of drill bit that I have working up to 1/8", so that's usually three or four steps.

 

georged

Lifer
Mar 7, 2013
4,100
7,171
If boiling water will do it then that definitely sounds way better, I was expecting acrylic to need higher temps, but now that I know this I'm probably going to use water from now on.
Acrylic stems vary considerably regarding how hot they need to be before becoming pliable.
PS --- on another subject, that goddammed rolling-animated-flickering "Carey's Smokeshop" ad on the left margin of this page is INSANELY irritating. Go ahead... try typing with that thing in your peripheral vision and NOT either punch your computer screen or phone Carey's to tell them they successfully ran off yet another potential customer with their obnoxious, intrusive advertising. (I wouldn't buy a damn thing from them if they were the last smoke shop on the planet.)

 

jpmcwjr

Moderator
Staff member
May 12, 2015
22,558
22,053
Carmel Valley, CA
GD-
You can slide your whole browser window to the left to run the unwanted material off screen.
BTW, I feel the same way about animated GIFs some use for avatars.

 

georged

Lifer
Mar 7, 2013
4,100
7,171
Excellent idea, jpmcwjr. I should have thought to do it. Thanks.
10-4 on repetitive, animated GIFs. As "advertising" or otherwise. They're the visual equivalent of a kid running around a restaurant blowing a police whistle. :evil:

 

zack24

Lifer
May 11, 2013
1,726
0
@ejames 10MM ? That sounds rather large. 8O Larger than then tenons I generally use--5/16'--8MM.
What can I tell you- I like really, really open drafts... :idea: (That's what I get for posting when I'm distracted)- I actually use a tapered 5/32 for the stem and straight 5/32 for the shank. That with a tapered funnel works very well...

 
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