Repairing a Pitted Stem.

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Franco Pipenbeans

Part of the Furniture Now
Jan 7, 2021
588
1,439
Yorkshire, England
I bought an estate pipe and the stem is quite pitted; it looks like someone has tried to do a bleach bath or similar at some point.

Anyone know if there is any way of getting it back to a nice finish or has it gone for good?
 

MilesDavis

Starting to Get Obsessed
Jun 16, 2022
187
424
I bought an estate pipe and the stem is quite pitted; it looks like someone has tried to do a bleach bath or similar at some point.

Anyone know if there is any way of getting it back to a nice finish or has it gone for good?
I have found that Barkeeper's Friend can leave a pitted finish. I posted a couple days ago my method. Full strength AWESOME cleaner ($1.25 at the DollarTree) and wet sanding with various grades of wet/dry sandpaper (400 to 3000 grit), switching from the detergent to fresh water. (I sometimes will wet sand with 190 proof alcohol and 3000 grit.) To get a real high gloss I'll then use Tripoli compound and a 1-inch polishing wheel on my Dremel.
 

Franco Pipenbeans

Part of the Furniture Now
Jan 7, 2021
588
1,439
Yorkshire, England
I have found that Barkeeper's Friend can leave a pitted finish. I posted a couple days ago my method. Full strength AWESOME cleaner ($1.25 at the DollarTree) and wet sanding with various grades of wet/dry sandpaper (400 to 3000 grit), switching from the detergent to fresh water. (I sometimes will wet sand with 190 proof alcohol and 3000 grit.) To get a real high gloss I'll then use Tripoli compound and a 1-inch polishing wheel on my Dremel.
I think that is beyond me I’m afraid and the missus might kill me if I start buying “proper” tools to fix up pipes! ?
Pictures please. I'm envisioning the surface of the moon.
It’s not that bad it just feels rough to the touch. I think someone has given it a bleach bath and then I may or may not (?) have made the issue worse by giving it a dip in Oxy-Action…not to worry! Help is on the way in the form of manicure blocks and some of Savinelli’s finest stem polish!
Jeez, this “hobby” is starting to get expensive - I’ve ordered a noodle press, an estate pipe and £75 worth of tobacco and accessories in the last five days!! ?
 

runscott

Part of the Furniture Now
Jun 3, 2020
530
1,164
Washington State
It’s not that bad it just feels rough to the touch. I think someone has given it a bleach bath and then I may or may not (?) have made the issue worse by giving it a dip in Oxy-Action…

Okay, I'm sucked into the hellhole vortex of discussing pipe stem oxidation :(

The oxy bath is fine for badly oxidized stems. I always hate to say this, as there are those who disagree strongly, and as I said in another thread, I'd almost prefer to talk religion (which I hate to discuss!). My preferred soak is the B&A stuff, but it's nastier to deal with and I'd rather soak 6 or so stems at a time. With oxy I can whip up a quick batch for one pipe.

The pitting you are concerned about is probably after an attempt to remove oxidation (that's what it looks like, but I'm only guessing). Remember - the oxidation is the bad stuff that has to go. The good stem material doesn't leave along with it when you soak; however, depending on the quality of the rubber stem (some are much better and denser than others) and the level of oxidation, it may look like good stem material has left (bad pitting). But it hasn't. And the pitting is never horrible after a soak - much of it is oxidation that has loosened and accumulated and now just needs to be scrubbed off. The good stem material is just hiding beneath the gunk.

After the soak, there are, again, many ways to attack what remains of the problem, but start with scrubbing off as much of the bad stuff as you can, by conventional means. If my stem looked as bad as yours, I would certainly then hit it with 600 grit sandpaper, then either begin going through the micromesh progression or start with the less fine of the two B&A polishes.

But as Curly said, "there is more than one way to skin a cat". George Dibos has said the same thing, during a pipe stem restoration discussion - to me, directly, so I know he means it, and I know all of you take his word as gospel (as do I). So...go skin your cat however you wish.
 

Chasing Embers

Captain of the Black Frigate
Nov 12, 2014
37,421
79,444
Okay, full forum membership less one. I agree that everything he does works, and works as great as any of my methods, but I don't have his tools, unguents, tinctures, etc., or his skills and experience...thus, different methods, methods that still work.
The makeshift metal shiv for removing rim build-up lost my devotion.
 

runscott

Part of the Furniture Now
Jun 3, 2020
530
1,164
Washington State
I think a lot of the disagreement as to techniques for cleaning pipes, has to do with the amount of cleaning necessary. When I clean the pipes in my rotation, there's almost no effort involved - I wipe off the rim and buff the bowl and stem with a piece of t-shirt cloth (or just use the underside of the t-shirt I'm wearing), sometimes a touch of spit on the rim first.

Estate pipes are a different ballgame.
 

Chasing Embers

Captain of the Black Frigate
Nov 12, 2014
37,421
79,444
I don't consider either of your examples to be really bad rim build-up, and I wouldn't have put a knife to either.
Even pipes I've cleaned for others I've yet to find any carbon that needed a blade. Even the worst cakes I've seen could be wiped away with a damp paper towel wrapped around my finger. I've given up abrasives and blades for any sort of pipe cleaning.