Is it OK to Never Remove the Stem ?

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captainFrank

Lurker
Apr 6, 2024
15
15
Why not, if you can get a pipe cleaner through it and clean it properly. I have a nice little Castello, Old Antiquary, Canadian about 30 years old. Shortly after I bought it a large chip broke off the tip of the shank right where the stem fits in. A hidden flaw in the wood. Tried, couldn't fix it so it would hold. Finally I gave up and just glued the stem and broken piece all together. Works fine and smoke it all the time with no problem. puffy
That is very encouraging, thanks for sharing !

At this point I am sure the stem on my pipe is glued with the shank on the inside, supporting the cracks. No problem with getting a pipe cleaner through, so as you said, I'm pretty sure it'll be fine for years to come.
 
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woodsroad

Lifer
Oct 10, 2013
12,049
17,373
SE PA USA
Rusticated pipes are defective to begin with. The gouging and scarring is added to obscure the pre-existing gouging, scarring, pits, etc. It looks like that crack followed one of those gouges. Regardless, it's a nice looking pipe. Smoke it and enjoy it. There will eventually be a buildup of crud in the "filter" cavity that you will not be able to remove. Whether that creates a negative smoking experience for you or not is up to your taste and perception. At that point, if you've become attached to this pipe, it would be well worth it to send it off to a qualified repair person and have the situation remedied. The cost of the repair is not material if you really like the pipe. Or you can eBay it, and just be honest that the stem is not removable.
 

captainFrank

Lurker
Apr 6, 2024
15
15
Rusticated pipes are defective to begin with. The gouging and scarring is added to obscure the pre-existing gouging, scarring, pits, etc. It looks like that crack followed one of those gouges. Regardless, it's a nice looking pipe. Smoke it and enjoy it. There will eventually be a buildup of crud in the "filter" cavity that you will not be able to remove. Whether that creates a negative smoking experience for you or not is up to your taste and perception. At that point, if you've become attached to this pipe, it would be well worth it to send it off to a qualified repair person and have the situation remedied. The cost of the repair is not material if you really like the pipe. Or you can eBay it, and just be honest that the stem is not removable.

Thanks for the insights and advice woordsroad ! I'll keep that in mind. Actually I prefer the look of a nice smooth briar, this is my only rusticated/sandblasted pipe. I have just started to build my collection so I thought it was a cheaper way to add one more pipe into rotation and also "test" the comfort of 626 shape from Savinelli (my other 3 briar pipes are all straight billiard).
 
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Aug 11, 2022
2,434
19,188
Cedar Rapids, IA
Hi everyone,

I'm new to pipe smoking. Have just received a brand new Savinelli Avorio rusticated and the stem was reeeaaally tight. After repeated twisting and pulling, and some elbow grease eventually managed to get the stem out for inspection and cleaning before lighting the pipe up for the very first time.

However, when I attempted to insert the stem back ... the shank cracked in 3 places. Two hairline cracks joined about 1/4" down the shank...
I had this happen with a Missouri Meerschaum Ozark model. No idea that the stem was so tight until I went to twist it off, and the shank loudly cracked in 3 places! Fortunately, wicking superglue into the cracks and lubing the stem with wax has kept it in service.

Lesson learned: hold a pipe by the shank (rather than just the bowl) when twisting off the stem!
 
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captainFrank

Lurker
Apr 6, 2024
15
15
I should probably start a new thread on this but since cleaning was mentioned so often, I clean my pipes after every smoke, once the pipe cooled down, with a pipe cleaner dipped into Jack Daniels (after squeezing the excess alcohol out). I clean both the inside of the stem and the bowl.

Am I overdoing it ?
 
Dec 3, 2021
5,191
44,415
Pennsylvania & New York
I should probably start a new thread on this but since cleaning was mentioned so often, I clean my pipes after every smoke, once the pipe cooled down, with a pipe cleaner dipped into Jack Daniels (after squeezing the excess alcohol out). I clean both the inside of the stem and the bowl.

Am I overdoing it ?

Cleaning a pipe after each use is a great practice. However, alcohol is known to to create micro-fissures in acrylic stems (which most modern Savinelli pipes have).
 
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Piping Abe

Part of the Furniture Now
Oct 27, 2021
563
1,564
North Dakota, USA
Cleaning a pipe after each use is a great practice. However, alcohol is known to to create micro-fissures in acrylic stems (which most modern Savinelli pipes have).

Is there proof of this? There are different kinds of acrylic, so that matters. And i’ve never seen someone show an acrylic stem with micro fissures from using alcohol
 

OzPiper

Lifer
Nov 30, 2020
6,102
33,064
71
Sydney, Australia
I clean my pipes after every smoke, once the pipe cooled down, with a pipe cleaner dipped into Jack Daniels (after squeezing the excess alcohol out). I clean both the inside of the stem and the bowl.

Am I overdoing it ?
Just pipe cleaners after each smoke should suffice.
I use alcohol only if the pipe tastes “off” and needs a deep clean
 

captainFrank

Lurker
Apr 6, 2024
15
15
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OzPiper

Lifer
Nov 30, 2020
6,102
33,064
71
Sydney, Australia
Any chance that that company (and others like them) are also selling some *special* proprietary pipe cleaning products ;) ? I have an impression that people have used alcohol to clean their stems for ages.
Alcohol is fine for vulcanite/ebonite stems.
Use liquid eg dishwashing soap for acrylics
Why go to the extra expense ?
 

captainFrank

Lurker
Apr 6, 2024
15
15
Alcohol is fine for vulcanite/ebonite stems.
Use liquid eg dishwashing soap for acrylics
Why go to the extra expense ?

I have half a bottle of Jack Daniels that I have no intention to drink :) Thought I might just use it at something instead of pouring it out down the drain.
 
Aug 11, 2022
2,434
19,188
Cedar Rapids, IA
Is there proof of this? There are different kinds of acrylic, so that matters. And i’ve never seen someone show an acrylic stem with micro fissures from using alcohol
I’m not sure whose brilliant idea it was to make a shot glass out of acrylic, but this is the sort of thing that happens:

IMG_3622.jpeg

I have another acrylic device that I damaged by cleaning with alcohol, but it’s off-topic for this forum. 😉
 

Searock Fan

Lifer
Oct 22, 2021
1,979
5,502
U.S.A.
Rusticated pipes are defective to begin with.
True; however the same hidden flaws can be present in smooth pipes as well. And we should remember that the shape of a smooth pipe is often determined by the flaws in the wood the maker could see. With rusticated the maker assumes the "flaws" are superficial and minor and carving or blasting will solve the problem. When I was making pipes I can't remember ever seeing a piece of briar that didn't have some flaws. The trick was to work around them... if possible. If not, then rusticated it. And if that didn't work, chuck it. puffy
 
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newbroom

Lifer
Jul 11, 2014
6,241
8,195
North Central Florida
I had a wonderful smoker that blew up one day upon reinserting the stem. It broke my heart. I had been smoking my estate purchased Lorenzo rusticated bent billiard for a few yrs and it was a dependable workhorse. I never expected what happened. It was a jolt. Luckily, I have 80 or 90 other pipes to use and to become more reliant upon.
I haven't bought a pipe in years, but when I started smoking pipes I was enthralled by the ebay market and by the sampling of as many blends as I could muster. I'm 'celebrating' 10 yrs as a pipe smoker this month!
 

captainFrank

Lurker
Apr 6, 2024
15
15
About acrylic stems and alcohol:

From what I have read it seems that certain treatments, such as applying heat to make acrylic more malleable and look polished, severely impact acrylic resistance to alcohol. Most likely the shot "cup" above was treated that way. Those treated acrylics react pretty quickly on contact with alcohol and the effects are dramatic (as can be seen above).

Non heat treated acrylic doesn't seem to be very sensitive to alcohol and I'm guessing the alcohol grade might play a part.

What I've found interesting is that this acrylic sensitivity to alcohol seems to be a rather new finding. The article mentioned earlier is from 2022. I've watched several YouTube videos detailing pipe cleaning and they all use alcohol to clean the stem ! And some of those videos are at least 7 years old ! One of those old videos clearly states that the stem is acrylic, the gentleman presenting the procedure is using alcohol to clean it, and the the video has been watched over 150K times. Now if only 1000 of those say 100K+ pipers had their stems destroyed by alcohol over the years, I imagine they would have flooded the forums asking for help.

Has that actually happened ? If it hasn't, I would conclude that at least the old acrylic stems aren't reacting to alcohol although for those manufactured these days ... the jury is still out.
 
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jpmcwjr

Moderator
Staff member
May 12, 2015
25,158
28,175
Carmel Valley, CA
There's often no reason to use alcohol on a pipe, save for heavily ghosted estate pipes.

A frequent flush with very hot water will do wonders, and may preclude build up in the mortise (and empty cartridge chamber).

This can be done immediately after a smoke, while the pipe is still hot.
 
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