The Lee Hidden Screw Stem

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Briar Lee

Briar Lee Expert Extraordinaire
Sep 4, 2021
475
1,061
Humansville Missouri
I have some old pipes that have been repaired with a band, and others that have had the stem replaced.

The best system is likely the type on Danish freehands, where the shank is too large to crack, and replacement stems are push in generic.

On the Lee pipes I love so much, there is a hidden screw stem, that appears to be a push stem type.

The front is like a Kaywoodie, only recessed in the shank, and screwed and not pressed into place.

The rear part screwed, and was not pressed into the stem, like a Kaywoodie. It is adjustable using pliers and patience, to realign the stem to the front.

I’m of the opinion the Lee was almost fully finished before some kind of marvelous little machine was used to drill perfect seven pointed holes in the stem, and then a gold alloy seven pointed star, one for each grade, was pressed in, then the stem polished.

You can take a stem from any Lee and it fits another, but the stars don’t align with the top.

The Lee system doesn’t leak, I’ve never seen a cracked shank, but if you bit through one, a duplicate replacement would just about have to be done using Lee’s machine that pressed in 7 pointed gold stars.

The last Lees used stamped stars filled with gold leaf, that easily rubs off. First production was 7 pointed stars, middle production had 5 points on the stars.

I own a few of the very last Lees, that used a push stem, and what may be a moulded stem, and stamped gold leaf stars.

Whether a Lee hidden screw stem (with removable stinger) was best is debatable. But you’ll never need a band, and if a stem is replaced you can tell.

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seanv

Preferred Member
Mar 22, 2018
2,167
4,961
Canada
Thanks for the info. You post about these pipes often and it has sparked my interest. I would like to find a Lee pipe and restore it back to life.
 
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Briar Lee

Briar Lee Expert Extraordinaire
Sep 4, 2021
475
1,061
Humansville Missouri
This morning I have to hurry off to court, but I should supplement this thread with Lee’s ingenious removable stinger.

I have a drawer with several dozen Lee stingers.

I always remove them from a Lee, because they work so well.

Kaywoodie used a fixed stinger, and on early pre war pipes it had a large ball with four holes. The channel had to be large enough for the ball to go through.

Lee’s removable stinger doesn’t look removable, because it fits so tightly in the rear screw fitting. But, using a pair of pliers they all jerk out.

The Lee stinger is a radiator, and it fits flush up inside the shank. It collects tars so well it gunks up quickly.

Lee, for all his bravado about Lee being the World’s Finest Pipe, really didn’t hawk the improved Kaywoodie system he’d made.

You have to discover that on your own.
 

OzPiper

Preferred Member
Nov 30, 2020
1,423
5,503
69
Sydney, Australia
This morning I have to hurry off to court, but I should supplement this thread with Lee’s ingenious removable stinger.

I have a drawer with several dozen Lee stingers.

I always remove them from a Lee, because they work so well.

Kaywoodie used a fixed stinger, and on early pre war pipes it had a large ball with four holes. The channel had to be large enough for the ball to go through.

Lee’s removable stinger doesn’t look removable, because it fits so tightly in the rear screw fitting. But, using a pair of pliers they all jerk out.

The Lee stinger is a radiator, and it fits flush up inside the shank. It collects tars so well it gunks up quickly.

Lee, for all his bravado about Lee being the World’s Finest Pipe, really didn’t hawk the improved Kaywoodie system he’d made.

You have to discover that on your own.
Wait. I'm having a problem understanding the point you're making.

Firstly, you assert that the Lee's stinger is "ingenious".

Somewhat later you declare "they work so well".

Towards the end of your post, you state that "Lee .........didn't hawk the improved Kaywoodie system he'd made"

If Lees are really the bees knees of the pipe world as you bang on and on about, and if his stingers are so bloody ingenious, then why would he have to improve on them. And confusingly (for me) install them in Kaywoodies, rather than his magnum opus - the Lee pipe.

But what totally confuses me is why you would remove this wonderful, ingenious device that works so well from all your Lee pipes and leave them in a drawer 😏
 

alaskanpiper

Preferred Member
May 23, 2019
7,416
21,935
Alaska
Fo Sho - nothing wrong with it, just unusual. I save my soup stories for the Lobster bisque. :)
Being here in the first place is unusual, so I'd say unusually unusual! But yeah, I feel you on the bisque analogy. Sometimes I (and especially my wife/wallet) wish I had a taste for the Campbell's.

I, like many here, could probably sell my collection and buy every goddamn Pipe by Lee ever made. Or, you know, a car. But hey, I like variety and the heart wants what the heart wants.
 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
26,774
33,325
Helena, Alabama
Ed used to be a member here who had the largest most extinctive collection of Dr Grabows I had ever seen, with all of the displays, ads, and swag to go with them. Of course, as most know, Ed met an untimely demise.. but, he never proclaimed Grabows were better than any other pipes, and he most certainly didn't hit a bunch of threads with it.
I respect that someone collects these Lees, and honestly, I had never heard of them before all of this. But... maybe tone down the sales pitch.
 
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Briar Lee

Briar Lee Expert Extraordinaire
Sep 4, 2021
475
1,061
Humansville Missouri
Wait. I'm having a problem understanding the point you're making.

Firstly, you assert that the Lee's stinger is "ingenious".

Somewhat later you declare "they work so well".

Towards the end of your post, you state that "Lee .........didn't hawk the improved Kaywoodie system he'd made"

If Lees are really the bees knees of the pipe world as you bang on and on about, and if his stingers are so bloody ingenious, then why would he have to improve on them. And confusingly (for me) install them in Kaywoodies, rather than his magnum opus - the Lee pipe.

But what totally confuses me is why you would remove this wonderful, ingenious device that works so well from all your Lee pipes and leave them in a drawer 😏

I like lots mo’ noco-tine!

If you own several of Kaywoodie’s Drinkless 4 hole ball stinger pipes, you’ll see where the balls start out long, and with a large ball, in the early thirties.

The shank of the pipe had to be drilled with a larger chamber.

By 1952 the Kaywoodie stinger is almost as small in diameter as a Lee stinger, and Kaywoodie switched over to three holes.

Kaywoodie always kept the aluminum ring that doesn’t lend itself to as good of an airtight fit as Lee’s recessed front fitting. Later in the fifties Kaywoodie turns a small ring in back of the stinger to accept a rubber O ring if the pipe leaks.

The Lee stinger came in dozens of slightly different shapes. All fit every Lee, Briarlee, and Pipe Maker I’ve ever bought.

Lee, just made a better pipe, in my opinion. Kaywoodie had special pipes that cost over $10, but almost every Lee shape was available in the $25 Five Star Grade and the only thing more money bought, was better grained briar.

A Lee was the highest priced regularly cataloged pipe in the world, with the $25 Five Star Grade.

As the little boy said, Lee didn’t peddle no junk, no sir.

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alaskanpiper

Preferred Member
May 23, 2019
7,416
21,935
Alaska
he never proclaimed Grabows were better than any other pipes,
I have to believe that some of this is a bit "tongue in cheek" on his part? But then again, as you point out, it does seem to work it's way into damn near every post.....IDK.

Coincidentally I am enjoying a fine Budweiser. It's tough to find a beer that has been crafted just like a Budweiser Lager (that is to say, perfectly) these days. Their patented use of only the finest adjuncts man can find to supplement their malted barley and deliciously scientific Idaho hop pellets with 50% Alpha Acid is unrivaled in the world. Just after prohibition they were fortunate enough to get their hands on the finest brewing equipment ever made, none has been found to that quality since. I often giggle over folks out there paying dozens of dollars for fine beers when I can find my cans of spectacular Budweiser readily available for mere pennies almost anywhere.

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telescopes

Preferred Member
i
I have to believe that some of this is a bit "tongue in cheek" on his part? But then again, as you point out, it does seem to work it's way into damn near every post.....IDK.

Coincidentally I am enjoying a fine Budweiser. It's tough to find a beer that has been crafted just like a Budweiser Lager (that is to say, perfectly) these days. Their patented use of only the finest adjuncts man can find to supplement their malted barley and deliciously scientific Idaho hop pellets with 50% Alpha Acid is unrivaled in the world. Just after prohibition they were fortunate enough to get their hands on the finest brewing equipment ever made, none has been found to that quality since. I often giggle over folks out there paying dozens of dollars for fine beers when I can find my cans of spectacular Budweiser readily available for mere pennies almost anywhere.

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Well now, if you happened to live in Saint Louis, you wouldn’t just be whistling Dixie.

Bravado is clearly common on this forum by many members who are guilty of it. A pool hall owner, a man with a race car metabolism, and an Ozzy or two come to mind, but ultimately they all add color to the conversation. One wouldn’t own anything thing but an artisan American Pipe, another trashes good pipes after use, and some sing the praises of water washing or the curses of water washing on many unrelated threads. It is what it is.

As for me, I enjoy being amused by it all. We all should.