Mortise Tight/Sticky After Cleaning

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geopiper

Member
Jan 9, 2019
129
20
Used 91% isopropyl alcohol and bristle cleaners on the airway and interior of mortise. Ran a clean fluffy cleaner through. Finished with a apple-whisker soaked cleaner.
I cleaned 35 pipes this same way. 2 of them however, were left with very tight mortises the next day. I let them sit another day (2 days total) then tried to insert the stem again but the mortise was still tight. I thought maybe the sweet whiskey left a residue so I cleaned the mortise and tenon with hot water, wipes it away and tried the stem again but it was still very tight.
Before I resort to lightly sanding the tenon with high grit sandpaper till it fits, are there other suggestions on what I might try to get the stem to fit again? Beeswax, non-scented soap, other...
thanks.

 

skaukatt

Senior Member
May 9, 2009
382
5
I use a pencil and draw or rub the graphite tip (I guess it used to be lead) on the tenon of the stem, this usually does the trick for me. The graphite acts to lubricate and causes a very nice glide when reattaching stem to shank.
I have heard that at some level, the graphite from the pencil acts as an abrasive to remove material (IMHO, ever so minutely and probably over decades of constant use), so some may balk at this practice.
Beeswax is another thing I use very often.

 

zack24

Preferred Member
May 11, 2013
1,726
0
If the whiskey was 70 proof, that's 35% alcohol and 65% water. Mortise soaked up the water and swelled slightly when you left it to dry overnight. Using hot water on the mortise made the problem worse. It's not a great idea to ever leave a stem and pipe separated. Fixing it correctly is tough because anything you do is going to change the dimension of either the mortise or the tenon. I would probably go with sticking the stem in the freezer- kinda guessing- but a nice non-destructive test...

 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
19,193
3,037
Outer Space
do nothing. If it is moisture making it swell, then it's best to just wait... Try again tomorrow, then again the next day. But then after that if it still won't go in, you'll have to delicately, with a very light touch finesse a chainsaw to it to get it to fit.

But, I'll lay money down on just setting the pipe aside for a few days. Because, if you pull it out of the freezer, put it together, and it is some build up of wax making it not work now. When it is frozen, you fit it, and then as it all comes to normal temperatures, you risk cracking something.
We are all assuming you haven't gotten something into the mortise that is making it tight. But...

 

geopiper

Member
Jan 9, 2019
129
20
No, there isn't something lodged in the mortise. I left the stem out of the stummel for a day to dry after the cleaning and didn't expect the mortise diameter to change that much. I'll give it a few additional drying days, then see what happens. Wasn't there a post somewhere on this site about the lack of effect of water on a pipe? Anyway, thanks for all the advice.
I'll try beeswax first, the some gentle tenon sanding if the wax doesn't work.

 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
19,193
3,037
Outer Space
Wasn't there a post somewhere on this site about the lack of effect of water on a pipe?
http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/pipe-water-torture-winter-vortex-edition

http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/briar-pipes-and-water-1
There was swelling, but of the whole mortice, which caused the stems to be loose. But, after drying for a day...
The trick to rinsing with water is to dry your pipe inside and out afterwards. But, it sounds like something else is going on. There are so many variables that the reader can only guess at, since we weren't there.

 

sablebrush52

Preferred Member
Jun 15, 2013
10,241
2,251
Give them another day to dry then try to insert the stems again. Sanding down a tenon is a bell that you can't unring. If they're still super tight, try some graphite.

 

geopiper

Member
Jan 9, 2019
129
20
Success. I let them sit for another day and, viola!, they fit together again. This was strange because the other 30+ pipes I cleaned the same way on the same day didn't have this issue.
For what it's worth, both pipes were dunhills with a silver band.

 

carolinachurchwarden

Preferred Member
May 9, 2018
1,682
17
Raleigh, NC
Could have just been a difference in the grain. Soft grain absorbs more than hard grain, so if one has more soft grain than the other, maybe it absorbed more fluid than the other? Anyways, glad it all worked out for you!

 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
19,193
3,037
Outer Space
Ha ha, you didn't mention the silver band. Silver is highly temperature conductive, one of the best, so it shrinks and expands quickly to temperature rises and drops, faster than the briar. It could have played a part as a variable in this.

 

sablebrush52

Preferred Member
Jun 15, 2013
10,241
2,251
Success. I let them sit for another day and, viola!, they fit together again.
Congrats! I'm not surprised. People think all briar acts the same. It doesn't. I've found that a few of my pipes can reliably take longer to regain their fit after a cleaning. But, given the extra time, they eventually return to a good fit.

One of the issues I'd had with my Dunhills was that a number of them seemed to be more reactive to changes in environment, or simple use, with the fit between the shank and stem less consistent at different times of the year than any other make of pipe that I have owned. It's one of the reasons that I eventually stopped smoking Dunhills. On the other hand, my Brebbias always take a licking and keep on ticking.

 

balkisobrains

Preferred Member
Jun 27, 2016
1,192
28
In general, I have found beeswax to be very grippy & won't make it much easier to to fit a tight tenon, & can make it harder to get them apart.
My rule of thumb is graphite powder if it's tight, beeswax if loose, & I try to avoid sanding the mortise or tenon. :puffy:

 

shermnatman

Member
Jan 25, 2019
257
4
Dunhill pipes, eh? You better send them to my PO BOX; this could be a manufacturers' defect which might harm you. Although special testing will take a long time - can't say when they would be shipped back to you - I will test them for you, no charge. ;-) - Sherm Natman

 

olkofri

Preferred Member
Sep 9, 2017
3,519
2,559
I use the pencil trick, 'cept that I use a Staedler 6B. :P
I've only had the issue with cobs, though.

 

oldbaccy

Junior Member
Mar 31, 2019
65
1
Tried the beeswax, made the stem even tighter. The graphite helps. Ended up using foam sanding pads from 320 grit on up to 3,500 grit and stem removal is like butter now. No air gaps and simple removal. Just fold the foam sanding pad around the tenon and twist. Don't over do it.
These are what I've been using for pipe repair/tinkering:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Sackorange-3-X-4-Soft-Touch-Sanding-Pads-27-PCS-Mesh-Polishing-From-320-To-3500/292915847426?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649
You can clean these pads with a gentle soap/water mr. clean magic eraser bath when you're done and the pads end up looking new again after drying. Just make sure you press all of the water out of them on a paper towel after cleaning them with the mr. clean magic eraser or they'll discolor.