Pipe stem loose after every smoke

Log in

SmokingPipes.com Updates

Watch for Updates Twice a Week

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

GKB

Lurker
Aug 29, 2020
3
0
I have a Dunhill estate pipe that I really like. When I received it, the pipe stem was tight. After the first smoke it became loose, however. When it becomes loose, I've been heating the stem by rotating the stem near a candle flame and that tightens it up pretty good. Very tight in some instances, that is, until the next smoke. Then the same thing. Loose again. I've read all the different ways of tightening the stem, but I would really like to know the physics/mechanics of what is actually going on. Any ideas as to why this is happening?
 

Rpink53

Starting to Get Obsessed
Jan 31, 2020
260
2,871
Pittsburgh, PA
I tend to leave my pipes outside overnight and one in particular will always loosen, but after spending some time indoors it will go back to its original tightness.

Not an expert by any means but I assume ebonite stems are inclined to expand and retract since it is rubber?
 

romaso

Lifer
Dec 29, 2010
1,215
4,412
Pacific NW
Try rubbing beeswax on the tenon. May have to apply a couple times.
That usually works, but if not, try a light coat of clear nail polish on the tenon.
 
  • Like
Reactions: lraisch

AJL67

Lifer
May 26, 2022
2,038
11,175
Florida - Space Coast
Have the same issue with a '67 120, drives me nuts how loose the stem is, but after a few minutes of smoking it tightens right up, i like to pretend it was engineered that way, I haven't tried the nail polish yet but that's most likely what I'll do as I've seen that suggested many many times.
 

GKB

Lurker
Aug 29, 2020
3
0
Thanks everyone. I have thought about there being cracks in the shank but I can't see any. If there is, it is very small and undetectable with my eyes. I've tried the beeswax with another pipe but it didn't do much. I'd rather not put nail polish yet - but maybe down the road. The heating of the tenon really does work pretty well and I'm okay with doing it every time if that is what it takes to continue smoking this pipe. So far I haven't damaged the tenon with heating. I did heat it once and got it tight and put the pipe away without smoking for a period of months and it ended up loosening again just by sitting. I live in north Texas - so not too humid but not extremely arid either. I tend to think it has something to do with moisture or lack of it. You would think smoking would add moisture and swell the shank making it tighter after a smoke, but it is the opposite. While smoking it tends to stay tight. Go figure.
 
Jan 30, 2020
1,138
3,733
New Jersey
Unless there's a band on the shank, moisture can cause the entire pipe to grow which will expand the size of the shank to make a tenon loose. If I fit a tenon under very dry conditions, then fit a tenon and let the pipe sit at 50%-60% humidity on the shelf for a few weeks, the stem will just slide right out from the overall enlargement of the pipe from moisture.

Not sure if this is the cause to your particular issue, but going from a very dry environment to humid can cause a similar situation.
 
  • Like
Reactions: canucklehead

GKB

Lurker
Aug 29, 2020
3
0
Well, if increased moisture causes the shank to expand outward so that the mortise expands too, that makes sense. I would think the shank would expand in all directions, meaning the mortise opening would constrict due to expansion. But if the outward expansion exceeds any inward expansion, then I guess it would loosen. Still, why doesn't this happen with my other pipes? I've had the stem on this particular pipe on tighter than a lot of my other pipes before smoking and then it is loose a few hours after the smoke. Maybe a combination of moisture and cracks I just can't see so that moisture really has an exaggerated effect.
 

theSHAMOO

Lurker
May 20, 2022
6
6
I just recently spent a weekend in a cabin on a WV river. Prepacked a bowl of opening night and threw my lighter and pipe in a ziplock bag to go out kayaking. Had a great smoke while floating down the river.

Eventually I found some white water so I zipped the pipe up and braced myself. To no avail, I was tossed from my kayak and barely saved my belongings.

When I arrived back at camp, I dumped my belongings on the porch and forgot about them. Next morning I noticed the ziplock bag had taken in some water. The stem is now noticably looser. Maybe I'll try the nail polish if it really starts to bother me.
 

jpmcwjr

Moderator
Staff member
May 12, 2015
22,468
21,819
Carmel Valley, CA
I tend to leave my pipes outside overnight and one in particular will always loosen, but after spending some time indoors it will go back to its original tightness.
Well, don't do that!
Not an expert by any means but I assume ebonite stems are inclined to expand and retract since it is rubber?
Minutely. The briar will expand/contract more. And lubrication of tenon and mortise will affect the ease of extraction and insertion.
 
  • Like
Reactions: romaso and MattRVA

Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
1,689
3,596
Humansville Missouri
I have a Dunhill estate pipe that I really like. When I received it, the pipe stem was tight. After the first smoke it became loose, however. When it becomes loose, I've been heating the stem by rotating the stem near a candle flame and that tightens it up pretty good. Very tight in some instances, that is, until the next smoke. Then the same thing. Loose again. I've read all the different ways of tightening the stem, but I would really like to know the physics/mechanics of what is actually going on. Any ideas as to why this is happening?

This post deleted as it's off topic to the question asked in the OP.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Jan 30, 2020
1,138
3,733
New Jersey
I just recently spent a weekend in a cabin on a WV river. Prepacked a bowl of opening night and threw my lighter and pipe in a ziplock bag to go out kayaking. Had a great smoke while floating down the river.

Eventually I found some white water so I zipped the pipe up and braced myself. To no avail, I was tossed from my kayak and barely saved my belongings.

When I arrived back at camp, I dumped my belongings on the porch and forgot about them. Next morning I noticed the ziplock bag had taken in some water. The stem is now noticably looser. Maybe I'll try the nail polish if it really starts to bother me.
At least let it acclimate back to normal moisture before making any corrective actions. It just might need a few weeks to normal back out after taking a good dose of moisture.