Extreme Bent Stem Cleaning Issue

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skaukatt

Senior Member
May 9, 2009
382
5
Here’s the condensed story, read on below for the entire story if you are bored and have time…
I have a pipe with a stem that has an extreme bend, almost a 90 which has caused two stems to develop “break through” holes due to the cleaner hitting at the bend and scraping against the interior draft hole and wearing away that same spot after repeated insertions. The stem has an almost 90 degree bend (an extreme downward bend) just past the button. The pipe fits into a case so there's no choice about the stem angle it has to have this bend to be able to fit inside the protective case. I am now 2 stems down, granted over 32 years of smoking/cleaning it. I had the stem replaced and it has happened again. I sent the damaged stem to our own, ssjones, (Al, Thank you!!!) who repaired the hole beyond being able to detect it, a miracle worker, he is!
I have a few ideas about how to deal with this but thought I’d ask how you would handle cleaning the stem after smoking the pipe.
Any ideas would be appreciated. As I said I have a few ideas from the easy to the more complicated but would love to know if anyone ever dealt with this before and what you did.
Lou
Here’s the back story and the history…
I have a wonderful meerschaum, my favorite, a carved Viking figural by Yunus Ege. I purchased the pipe at a local Arnold’s Tobacconist in Queens, NYC in 1985 and being a MN, Vikings fan, albeit from NYC, I have smoked it multiple times during the Vikings game on Sundays – for years.
Here’s the problem… Seems like a probable design flaw but the stem has an almost 90 degree bend (an extreme downward bend) just past the button. The pipe fits into a case so there's no choice about the stem angle it has to have this bend to be able to fit inside the protective case.
In 2013, a hole developed (popped through from inside) where the pipe cleaner continually hits the interior of the stem at the point just at the bend. The wire from the cleaner gauged a hole over time of repetitive insertions. BTW, the cleaner never passes completely through due to the fitting screwed inside from the tenon end of the stem. This causes me to clean the stem by inserting the cleaner from both the button end and the tenon end.
Long story short, I’ve had a replacement stem, actually two of them made, with the the help of Beth from SMS Meerschaum and Dave Wolf who collaborated on the stem, and now the replacement that I have been using just developed a hole in the same spot. By having two stems made at that time gives me a brand new stem, never used as a replacement but I had hoped that I never had to use it. I still don’t as I sent the damaged stem to our own, ssjones, (Al, Thank you!!!) who repaired the hole beyond being able to detect the issue, a miracle worker, he is!
I have a few ideas about how to deal with this but thought I’d ask how you would handle cleaning the stem after smoking the pipe.
Any ideas would be appreciated. As I said I have a few ideas from the easy to the more complicated but would love to know if anyone ever dealt with this before and what you did.
Lou




 

dmcmtk

Preferred Member
Aug 23, 2013
3,337
777
Lou, I'm going to ask a dumb question, do you put a bend in the cleaners before using them? The only other thing I can think of is trimming the end of the cleaners with scissors, as sometimes the wire protrudes beyond the "fluff".

 

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skaukatt

Senior Member
May 9, 2009
382
5
Thank you, Guys, for your replies, I appreciate it! Yes, I absolutely pre-bend the cleaner to make the insertion a little easier, problem is, it's such an extreme angle the wire from the cleaner always hangs up at that spot. I also try twisting it but I can hear the scraping take place and it's cringe-worthy!
I've tried moistening the cleaner to make it slippery and compressed, I've tried bending it but nothing helps.
As I mentioned, another issue, separate from the hole producing one, is that the cleaner will never pass completely through the stem because the tip of that screw in tenon blocks the cleaner's path - the cleaner actually gets hung up on the edge of the top of that part (it's a 2 part tenon, one screws into the shank of the pipe the other screws into the stem, as I am sure you are familiar with). This causes me to have to insert the cleaner from both ends of the stem when I clean the pipe. This does work though to clean most of the stem's airway.
One of my solutions is to insert the cleaner just to the point that it hits that part of the stem and back off a bit just cleaning the slot (at the button) and maybe just past it (the good thing is that mostly all of the residue collects at the tenon (other) end so the button end never really gets dirty.
My other solution is to find someone who can make a custom case that will fit the meerschaum pipe and have a stem made with a more graceful bend - this is the more complicated solution.
Any other ideas???
Thanks, guys!

 

skaukatt

Senior Member
May 9, 2009
382
5
In addition to a bend, also push it through from the tenon end.
Thank you, tried that too and in fact I clean the stem from both ends - see my reply above that explains this...

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
31,123
15,227
I may not entirely grasp the question, but just to say ... I long ago quit expecting a pipe cleaner to pass through fully bent pipes from the bit to the bowl. I do bend the pipe cleaner and see what I can do, but it's wire, and in some cases the turn is too great. I wait for a full cleaning, take off the stem, and the bowl is always accessible through the shank. The pipe cleaner not doubling around to enter the bowl (even when the pipe cleaner is bent) has never concerned me much. What fascinated me about the entry was that the pipe had been smoked and cleaned enough to have the pipe cleaner wear a spot in the airway! That is some impressive pipe maintenance, however wrong-headed my response may be otherwise. Kudos to skauk'!

 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,969
1,604
I've never worked a hole in a bit. The bend in the tip should by minimal. Insert the cleaner with the tip pointed down so the end is not meeting the top of the bend, push it gently past the bend and proceed as normal. Again, the bend should be slight, just a hair in from the tip, no more than is necessary to keep the tip from engaging the bit. Wish I could be clearer, sorry.
That's what works for me.

 

wyfbane

Preferred Member
Apr 26, 2013
4,123
308
Is the passage wide enough to fold cleaner in half and stick the bend into It? That way there is no pointy wire.

 

skaukatt

Senior Member
May 9, 2009
382
5
Is the passage wide enough to fold cleaner in half and stick the bend into It? That way there is no pointy wire.
Unfortunately, it is not wide enough to take a folded over cleaner.
Thank you all for the replies!
Lou

 

mawnansmiff

Preferred Member
Oct 14, 2015
5,477
1,626
Sunny Cornwall, UK.
"Unfortunately, it is not wide enough to take a folded over cleaner."
Perhaps you could try doubling over a Falcon cleaner? They are considerably thinner than 'regular' cleaners.
Regards,
Jay.

 

skaukatt

Senior Member
May 9, 2009
382
5
Perhaps you could try doubling over a Falcon cleaner? They are considerably thinner than 'regular' cleaners.
Thank you, Jay, that's the kind of answer I'm looking for! I will have to check these out and try these cleaners.
Lou

 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
20,226
6,687
Outer Space
Good, good, I'm glad we started making headway. My suggestion was going to be "smash!!" I tend to not have the patience for too much fidgety stuff. I've thrown a pipe out the car window, because of similar issues. Life is too short of finicky... stuff.

 

skaukatt

Senior Member
May 9, 2009
382
5
I want to thank all of you for your input and especially to Jay for informing me about the existence of the Falcon Extra Thin Cleaners, which I ordered today - we'll give these a try, maybe I found the solution!
Lou

 

cortezattic

Preferred Member
Nov 19, 2009
15,151
7,600
Chicago, IL
I hope that works for you. I was going to suggest to simply flush the stem with warm water. After all, how much crud can accumulate that high up the draft hole?

 
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