You got to hate ebonite...

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stvalentine

Preferred Member
Jan 13, 2015
808
5
Northern Germany
Well, there are good days in pipe restauration and bad ones. One day you turn a wreck into a princess and then there are days when nothing works out easily.

After the last days in my basement working on estates I have come up to the impression that there is a good reason why so many manufacturers use acrylic for stems. Even more so I believe that this is a great step.
When I refurbished a Rhodesian pipe a few days ago the stummel came out well. Not so the stem. It has the most stubborn oxidation I ever encountered! I have sanded it till my fingers bled, I have even cooked it in vinegar essence and I have tried every kind of chemical I could find in my basement - but to no avail! The oxidation wouldn´t budge. 8O Green as spring pastures and yellow as your buttercup. My next desperate move before I throw that darn thing aways will incorporate hot 60% vinegar acid. 8O
Then there was this nice Davidoff apple shaped pipe. It was one of the more expensive estates I bought. Easy peasy clean up job - or that was what I was thinking. The stummel came out well again but not that damn "hand cut" stem! After polishing I examined it under a bright light and what was that? Millions of microscopic cracks and even two larger ones at the tenon. 8O At least the seems to be stable but what kind of brittle ebonite was used by those darn Swiss???
Number three was a Comoy second, a sandblasted Everyman Billiard that came with a much too small stem. I rummaged through my donor pipes and found a fitting stem. I just had to sand down the tenon a bit and the diameter was a tad on the large side. After sanding and polishing I found a strange hairline on top of the stem that wouldn´t vanish. I have no idea if it is a real crack or whatever. :| I believe the donor pipe was from the war years so a substandard quality of the ebonit seems probable.
Sorry for the long rant but I guess I neede to vent a bit..... :roll:

 

mephistopheles

Preferred Member
Oct 14, 2014
545
0
You do great work, StValentine. I'm sure you'll get your projects to turn out well. Be sure to put some pictures up and keep us informed! We like to see the transformations. :D

 

elpfeife

Preferred Member
Dec 25, 2013
1,150
83
I have one Davidoff pipe and it has an acrylic stem. I didn't realize they used to sport( and maybe some still do?) ebonite stems.

 

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gambit88

Senior Member
Jan 25, 2015
341
1
I can understand that. Today I was working on some blank stems to fit a couple of bowls I had. One got a hairline crack during the bend and the other Im still doing tenon work on. My basement reeks of burnt rubber. I also have a few pipes that are starting to re oxidize after only one or two smokes. Its a pain but gives me something to do

 

menuhin

Preferred Member
Oct 21, 2014
642
1
@shaintiques

Barkeepers friend is great reducing agent that I use to shine my french copper cooking set, it saves my hours of cleaning with just scotch pad.

But in Europe, people can only order them from the UK, and usually they are not sold in their classic powder form.
@StValentine

Ich verstehe...

But I still love my pipes with ebonite stems much more (than those with acrylic stems) in terms of how they are lighter and the bite is much more comfortable.

My analogy is, ebonite VS acrylic == carbon steel VS stainless steel == real leather VS hard rubber, e.g. Kraton.

For durability sake and for ease of maintenance, the later is better; but for comfort and performance, the former is a winner. So I have to keep my obsidian oil or olive oil next to my pipe cleaner to remind myself to use it on the stem every week.
For light oxidation I just use those 'magic eraser' sponge, I have no experience in those greenish oxidized stems.

Good luck for your restoration projects, please post some photos of the results (before and after)! :puffy:

 

billypm

Senior Member
Oct 24, 2013
302
2
Bar Keeper's Friend is fabulous. I just discovered it and will not return to sandpaper unless faced with one helluva bad stem. I just use BKF with a damp rag or paper towel for a few minutes (like less than 5) and finish up with the red jeweler's rouge side of my Dunhill pipe cloth. Easy-peasey. And it's a done deal-- with minimal removal of material from the stem.

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
29,538
9,177
Another message here is that, when you pay a little more, or quite a bit more, for a pipe, part of what you hope

to buy are excellent materials. The briar that's truly aged and inspected for flaws. Bamboo least likely to split.

And stem material that will last for the duration. When that is true, as it sometimes is, you get your money's worth.

 

misterlowercase

Preferred Member
May 31, 2012
4,296
8
The most stubborn oxidation I've come across is on an old Charatan, took a lot of elbow grease.
On bad cases, I usually soak the stems in OxiClean for a few hours.

Unsure if there's a similar product available in Germany,

but it's great to prep stems for sanding.
For sanding,

I use Micro-Mesh pads in the graduated grades and they work great.



Schleifpads Schleifpapier Micro Mesh 1500-12000 Lac

.

 

menuhin

Preferred Member
Oct 21, 2014
642
1
Bar Keepers Friend in European packaging:

http://www.amazon.de/BAR-KEEPERS-FRIEND-POWDER-ORIGINAL/dp/B00BLKGJ2G

 

frozenchurchwarden

Preferred Member
Mar 1, 2014
2,164
385
To put a positive spin on it: Since we know that the vulcanite stems are going to oxidize and fall apart eventually anyway, I'm becoming much more willing to actually clench my vulcanite stems, versus the acrylic ones which I try not to even put a tooth on because they actually have a chance of lasting lifetime.

 

stvalentine

Preferred Member
Jan 13, 2015
808
5
Northern Germany
I have one Davidoff pipe and it has an acrylic stem. I didn't realize they used to sport( and maybe some still do?) ebonite stems.
So I might be mislead here and that darn stem is made of acrylic in the end. :? This would explain the micro cracks though.... :roll:

Maybe I order some of that Bar Keepers Friend too. Should be no problem via Amazon.
Thank you Gentlemen for encouragement! :worship:

 

ssjones

Moderator
Staff member
May 11, 2011
14,867
1,707
Maryland
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I've been there and cursed some brutally oxidized vulcanite. The worst I've encountered was this GBD Tapestry "Chair-leg" stem. My finger were raw after hitting all the creases in that one. It was my first 9438 and still a favorite. Everytime I smoke it, I think about the hour or two of wet sanding.
So, despite the challenges, I still love my Vulcanite stems.




 

chasingembers

Preferred Member
Nov 12, 2014
20,982
14,102
I agree with Barkeeper's Friend. I actually prefer ebonite/vulcanite/cumberland stems, and my purchase of a pipe is strongly influenced by it. I really have to love a pipe to buy one with a lucite stem.

 

woodsroad

Preferred Member
Oct 10, 2013
8,419
526
stvalentine, if you can not get BKF, look for oxalic acid. it's the primary ingredient in BKF. I would guess that there are surfactants added...not sure what else. Oxalic acid and a few drops of dish detergent should do the trick.

 

stvalentine

Preferred Member
Jan 13, 2015
808
5
Northern Germany
@woodsroad: It seems to be the acid that does the trick. My test with vinegar essence was 90% successful today. The major part of the green mess simply vanished. Vinegar acid and a lab beaker are already ordered. Although this will be a mess and is best done outdoors I still hope that this will be the solution. There must be a better way than this endless sanding. I will keep you all posted.
p.s.: As it seems oxalic acid can be ordered via Amazon too. Might be something to try...

 

ssjones

Moderator
Staff member
May 11, 2011
14,867
1,707
Maryland
postimg.cc
Any oxidation can be sanded off, with the right grade of paper. If the oxidation is thick enough, a lower grit paper is the only thing that will remove it. All the chemicals, etc. are not as abrasive as the right paper. I do soak my stubborn stems in a mild solution of Oxy-Clean for a few hours, that does seem to loosen up the oxidation.

 

woodsroad

Preferred Member
Oct 10, 2013
8,419
526
Oxiclean is not the same as Bar Keepers Friend. The active ingedient in Oxyclean is Sodium percarbonate.

 

phil67

Preferred Member
Dec 14, 2013
2,052
2
If and when you happen to clean it up I would strongly suggest that you apply a small dab of ChapStick on the stem and rub it in all over after smoking. It contains an anti-oxidant that keeps the stem protected from oxidation and works like a charm for me.

 
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