Restoring Metal Falcon, Viking, and Unbranded Pipes

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Rigidman

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Oct 10, 2020
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The aluminum pipes are easy enough to understand. Just polish it after the normal cleaning and sanitizing.

The ones I need to know about are the chromed ones. How do you deal with the chipped chrome?

I was thinking about sanding it down, or stripping the chrome off, and painting them, or polish them. Or is it better to leave them as is? I mean they're unbranded. I haven't seen a Grabow, Kaywoodie, Viking, Yello Bole, etc... with chrome. There could be, I have no idea.

I don't know if they chromed them. I do know the Nylons were chromed once but most of them lost all their chrome and are that beige color. They also chromed some of the naknock off metal pipes.

It's interesting that Falcon is the only survivor. I know there's a Elies free hand pipes. They have bowls for metal pipes too.

Found a couple places in the UK that sells new Falcons and bowls. They sell them on eBay too. Thought about getting one eventually, but I got plenty of old ones. They were in several lots I bought. I'm sure they sell them at other places as well.

What got me thinking about it is the new Falcons come in black, brown, and polished. I've seen them on eBay in red, blue, green, and a couple other colors. I think they were metallic though. Some of the bowls were painted Uthe same color as the shank.

Painting them black or brown would work for me. There used to be this place that sold spray cans of special colors. I bought copper patina. Still have some. There's a process where you under paint with black,or whatever dark color, let it set, then paint over it with copper, red, blue, or whatever, then take wadded up Saran Wrap and dab the paint.

It removes some of the top coat and the undercoat shows through. Lastly you clear coat it with a couple coats. You sand in between clear coats so it'll be nice and smooth. Then you polish it.

I've seen paint on custom Harleys like this at bike shows. Was going to paint the frame of the bike I was building before I had a dozen surgeries on my back.

Now it's collecting dust on the back porch. Parts for a whole bike just setting there. Tried selling it but this covid crap happened and everyone bought a bunch of toilet paper so they don't have money for stuff like that. Hell I even offered to accept a trade for a car or pickup. No luck.

I can't ride it. With my bum leg I need a trike. Not like a boss hoss, or one of those ones made from a VW pan and motor. More like a regular size chopper frame.

There was this Aussie that used to have a show that brought people on to build a bike in 30 days. Before that he was on biker build off. He built this sweet little trike. I'd like one like that.

Anyway, I think it'd be sweet to paint a pipe like that. I have some airbrushes and a airbrush compressor. I also have a regular compressor with a couple paint guns. But I could probably just use rattle cans. (My dad called spray cans rattle cans).

It'd be a pain to tape up but a 2 tone, 3 tone, or a fade paint job would be interesting too. LOL!! maybe do a faux patina on it.

So if you had a metal pipe with peeling chrome, what would you do with it? Paint it, strip and polish, or leave it be?

Thsnks
 
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Rigidman

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Yeah the Falcons are aluminum so they can actually be polished, or anodized. But some of the other brands just used steel, pot metal(?), cast metal(?), plastic/nylon. Basically cheap metal with chrome.

Now the chrome is gone so all that's left is a dull grey metal, or brown plastic. I've seen steel polished but it needs to be sealed or it'll turn grey again. On a biker build off show, they polished the fenders and gas tank. Took less time than paint. Forget what they did to the frame.

But I thought the steel ones could be painted like any steel. I guess the plastic/nylon ones can be painted too. Anything would be better than that ugly dull grey finish.
 
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kurtbob

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You could have them re chromed again like any other car or bike part but would probably be cost prohibitive on such a small piece? Possibly even like a paint dip like they do custom painted gun stocks etc?
 

Rigidman

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You could have them re chromed again like any other car or bike part but would probably be cost prohibitive on such a small piece? Possibly even like a paint dip like they do custom painted gun stocks etc?


Yeah I thought about that. They also have a ceramic coating they put on guns that should work. I have several metal brands and unbranded I bought in lots. I'm keeping 1, maybe 2. The rest I'm reselling after cleaning and restoration. I don't mind spending a little more on what I'll keep.

What I'm reselling doesn't justify that type of investment. There is a chrome paint you can buy in a rattle can. Since it would cover several pipes the outlay wouldn't be too bad.

Would need to investigate its quality and appearance. I've also seen chrome for a paint gun. Anything you can spray in a spray gun can be used in a air brush. I think I have a little detail gun too. That way you only mix up what you need.

Depending on coverage and bowl size, a large bowl may cover 2 pipes. A small one might do 1. I have several air brushes. I paint, on canvas, so I tried my hand at airbrushing. Bought some books and DVDs. It's not difficult to learn. There are "drills" you do to get accustomed.

Some books and DVDs were created just to generate income. These aren't very informative. They generalize everything. Then there are ones that take you through the whole process. If anyone is really Interested pm me and I'll send you a list. The undetailed ones I resold. Of course now there's YouTube.

You can get a decent air brush for $20-$30. The compressors used to be inexpensive. I have 2-3 I got for $25-$40 each. Not sure what they are now. I bought mine 15-20 years ago.

The detail gun may do as many as 10(?). I think I have 5-6. May receive more. Still waiting on packages from eBay. Too many to remember what's in each.

Once they arrive I verify the item with the auction, then give feedback, or return it if its not as described. I've had a couple of those. They think because they put "as is" they think they can use it to screw you out of money. Not so.

I've also had a couple with mystery tobacco. Sometimes they threw in an extra pipe or 2. I've had a lot of pipes shipped with the stem removed. Some were difficult to put back together. So I let them acclimate to my environment and most went together easy. I cleaned the tenon of debris and wiped down the tenon with dry graphite lube.

Many you could tell right away that the stem had been replaced. They didn't seat against the pipe. Some had stripped threads that someone put in a unthreaded stem. (My stupid tablet is trying to decide if unthreaded is spelled correctly. The red underline keeps appearing and disappearing). I'll never get another fire tablet. If I get it as a gift I'm going to give it back, if I don't break it on their head.

I'm still wondering if heli coil will repair threads in a pipe. I've used them in many repairs when I was in the Army. I've also used it on wood furniture. They're a coil of wire, some are a complete insert. The coil you just thread in. The insert you drill and epoxy in. Others thread into original threads, with epoxy, but then the threads are smaller.

The insert sort of defeats the purpose, as does the one that reduces the thread size. If you have to drill the mortise, you may as well just restem it. Unless you're doing a restoration. Then you may want the extra work. But that would have to be on a historical piece. Something you're just going to smoke, I figure just make it operational.

If you had a large enough collection of pipe parts, you could remove a threaded insert from one of them too. Didn't seem too difficult of an operation on reborn.

I have a pipe, can't remember the brand right now. It came in a lot. Someone tried to pry out a threaded insert, unsuccessfully. It has 2 screws on either side if the center hole. The stem slips over a tenon. I think I would've tried to remove the screws. But apparently, what ever glue they used set the thing in very tightly. I'm guessing the shank may even be threaded.

I may detail the restoration on this one. Maybe a couple others. Post them here and reborn. Where would I post a restoration here? May add this question below so its not overlooked. I tend to get a bit wordy. With that I'll wrap it up

Thanks for your input.
 
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Rigidman

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Where do we post restorations? I saw where you post pictures of pipes. My thinking was pipe repair and maintenance. But thought that it may be under a different forum heading.

I also saw posts about restoration posts, but didn't see any place specific.

Thanks
 

niblicck

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Oct 7, 2020
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Rigid you got me thinking of some of the nylon pipes that I have that are chipping....I'm going to remove all of it on one of them and then get some of the Testors chrome paint used more for plastic models in the rattle can and give it a coating. I'll coat it with a high gloss rattle can from a previous restoration that has a high temp. rating.

Should be able to complete it this weekend, fire it up and get back to you with some results.
 

Rigidman

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Oct 10, 2020
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Rigid you got me thinking of some of the nylon pipes that I have that are chipping....I'm going to remove all of it on one of them and then get some of the Testors chrome paint used more for plastic models in the rattle can and give it a coating. I'll coat it with a high gloss rattle can from a previous restoration that has a high temp. rating.

Should be able to complete it this weekend, fire it up and get back to you with some results.


I forgot about testors paint. I use it on the models I build once in awhile. Never used the chrome. I have researched some high temp paint. Haven't seen any in chrome.

I think I'm going to just paint one of them and put it on eBay. I'll paint one of mine first and smoke it to see how it holds up. Then just let potential buyers know it's been painted with high temp paint and that it's been tested.

Long term you never know. I mean has anyone done any testing on inhaling heated chrome, anodizing, or the paint they use on "white" briar, or colored pipes. Probably not.

I think some of the high heat ceramic paints today should be fairly safe. Many are water based, or at the very least very low VOC. Just read the label and the MSDS and be careful of what type you buy.

I believe testors changed their paint a while back. I still have some enamel from before that. I put a O ring in the lid. Their cardboard insert never lasts very long. So I take it out and insert an O ring. Saves the paint from drying out.

If I'm going to store them for awhile I add s little thinner to each container and shake well. Hell I think I still have paint from the 80's.

Another paint that may work is sign paint. Like 1 Shot. I'm pretty sure its lead free now. But House of Color has pinstripping paint and airbrush paint that's water based.

That would be sweet, a pipe with little thin hot rod pinstripes!

Thanks
 
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newbroom

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I can see some merit in metal pipes, but not enough to smoke one.
Maybe if the metal was stainless steel, it would be more heat resistant and less subject to deterioration.
I have wondered about whether or not the aluminum pipes like Kirsten, and Falcons and such had anodized interiors? That might help make them less prone to toxicity.
 
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ssjones

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Yeah the Falcons are aluminum so they can actually be polished, or anodized. But some of the other brands just used steel, pot metal(?), cast metal(?), plastic/nylon. Basically cheap metal with chrome.

Now the chrome is gone so all that's left is a dull grey metal, or brown plastic. I've seen steel polished but it needs to be sealed or it'll turn grey again. On a biker build off show, they polished the fenders and gas tank. Took less time than paint. Forget what they did to the frame.

But I thought the steel ones could be painted like any steel. I guess the plastic/nylon ones can be painted too. Anything would be better than that ugly dull grey finish.

7-8 years ago, I reworked a lot of Falcons, so I can only speak to them.

The aluminum can be polished, but polished aluminum doesn't stay that way long, depending on your climate. You can seal aluminum, Eastwood makes a spray coating that helps retard.

When you say "steel" above- I assume you are talking about stainless steel. Stainless is harder to polish, but once it is, it stays that way.

Pot metal, or soft metal can be polished, but stays that way for only a very short time.

Don't take Falcon stems apart, they weren't mean to be disassembled (press fitted). SOMETIMES you can luck out and replace a stem, most of the time, you ruin that part (I just discarded a drawer with many ruined Falcon stems that happened before I learned my lesson).

Bowls, you can't mess up - I used to contrast stain them, and they came out well.
 
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Rigidman

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7-8 years ago, I reworked a lot of Falcons, so I can only speak to them.

The aluminum can be polished, but polished aluminum doesn't stay that way long, depending on your climate. You can seal aluminum, Eastwood makes a spray coating that helps retard.

When you say "steel" above- I assume you are talking about stainless steel. Stainless is harder to polish, but once it is, it stays that way.

Pot metal, or soft metal can be polished, but stays that way for only a very short time.

Don't take Falcon stems apart, they weren't mean to be disassembled (press fitted). SOMETIMES you can luck out and replace a stem, most of the time, you ruin that part (I just discarded a drawer with many ruined Falcon stems that happened before I learned my lesson).

Bowls, you can't mess up - I used to contrast stain them, and they came out well.

Yeah I meant metal. I figure most the knockoffs are pot metal, maybe aluminum. But pot metal can be polished to a degree. That's why I was considering just painting them.

Yeah the metals that will tarnish over time if they're not sealed. Even wax is better than nothing. Just some clear or we used to seal the brass prop of the LCU with polyurethane.

Right now there a lot of auctions at eBay for estate Falcons. They want more than a new one. When I started buying about a month ago, they were like $10-$20 depending on shape. Now they want $50+. Its crazy. Not sure if they're being bought at that price, but they sure are trying.

I wish there was an easy way to put logos onto stems. It'd be nice to replace some of those plastic/nylon stems on some metal pipes.

If the stems gone, no problem. But I think it'd be nicer with a ebonite or acrylic stem. Nylon doesn't polish well. I read the reborn pipes story on the refresh on a Dr. Grabow CDL. Looking to get one at the right price.

Thanks
 

Rigidman

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Oct 10, 2020
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I can see some merit in metal pipes, but not enough to smoke one.
Maybe if the metal was stainless steel, it would be more heat resistant and less subject to deterioration.
I have wondered about whether or not the aluminum pipes like Kirsten, and Falcons and such had anodized interiors? That might help make them less prone to toxicity.

There is this coating they use for Harley exhaust pipes. You can pour it in and turn the pipes until thoroughly coated then dump excess back into container. I believe its ceramic. Then you can either install and run the pipes or put them in an oven. But this stuff is pretty thick so it'd probably seal up the inside of the pipe. But outside should be fine.

My understanding is that by time the heat reaches inside, it starts cooling but that was their belief in the 60s and 70s. Now we know better. The people that smoke them, Falcons and Kirstens, love them.

Dunhill, and others, put aluminum inner tubes and stingers, in their pipes for a while. I think its Stainless, copper(?) and several other metals you can't smoke from because they could be toxic. But I see all these metals used in left handed pipes on eBay so I don't know anymore.

Its like the woods that you can't put in your fireplace because you might not wake up the next morning. But they make pipes out of them. Go figure.

Then there are several new pipe makers using metal stems and briar bowls similar to the CDL. If that pipe was debuted today, they'd probably make a fortune. Back then they couldn't give them away. But the people that bought them or tested them in the limited release areas, loved them.

The Yello Bole had a briar bowl, metal shank, and metal screen at the bottom. Then the nylon pipes that the heat caused the chrome to peel. I mean what where they thinking? A plastic chrome pipe, did they really think it wouldn't peel?

Then there are the total metal pipes. I believe they're aluminum. Can't remember who makes them. Saw a few on eBay. Look like normal pipes, not a Falcon, but its all metal, even the bowl.

I bid on a few but was outbid. I wasn't paying that much. So someone loves them, A LOT!!

Thanks
 

jhowell

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Jul 25, 2019
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Just pay attention. Any paint will eventually dry out. My dad used to let the thinner set on top to prevent air from drying the paint. When he needed to use it he just shook it till mixed. He did this with old oil house paint too.
Years ago I learned that with oil-based house paint to take a deep breath, hold it, then exhale into the can before putting the lid on. The CO2 displaces the oxygen in the can and prevents a skin from forming...
 

jhowell

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I have used the "chrome" spray paint with good results. On aluminum, there is a special primer (can't remember what) that gives superior adhesion.
 

Rigidman

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I have used the "chrome" spray paint with good results. On aluminum, there is a special primer (can't remember what) that gives superior adhesion.

Are you referring to testors chrome paint? They may be able to suggest the correct steps and primers that promote adhesion. They may even supply it. They may even have a metal model version. Since metal models have been around for some time. They gave an air of realism to model building. I've seen models with upholstered interiors. I have a GMP Road Runner with such an interior. I also have a 33 Ford with metal aircraft seats. Big ol' supercharged Hemi in the engine bay. With plastic chrome valve covers.

Thanks
 
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jhowell

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Jul 25, 2019
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382
Are you referring to testors chrome paint? They may be able to suggest the correct steps and primers that promote adhesion. They may even supply it. They may even have a metal model version. Since metal models have been around for some time. They gave an air of realism to model building. I've seen models with upholstered interiors. I have a GMP Road Runner with such an interior. I also have a 33 Ford with metal aircraft seats. Big ol' supercharged Hemi in the engine bay. With plastic chrome valve covers.

Thanks
I am referring to the rattle can type from an automotive store. The primer I referred to is zinc chromate...
 

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