I spoke with Mark Domingues via email regarding an old Peterson bent billiard he had with a cracked shank. We emailed back and forth regarding different ways of addressing the crack. Mark did not want to band the pipe as he liked the look of the briar and vulcanite sans band. We spoke of ways to repair the shank internally using a Delrin or aluminum sleeve that would be epoxied in the shank. The tenon would have to be resized to fit the new diameter of the shank. Mark responded by sending me the pipe to have a go at. I looked through my repair parts and found a white Delrin tenon that I had cut for me for a different repair I was doing. The tenon was almost the diameter of the inside of the shank, the mortise area. To achieve the fix I wanted to do it would need to be drilled out and turned down for a proper fit as a sleeve insert. The trick would be to allow proper space for the epoxy to be used to hold the repair in place. Too thick and the split in the shank would open up again. The sleeve would also need to be scored to give the slippery surface of the Delrin some bite against the inside of the mortise. I cleaned out the shank carefully with Everclear to insure that the interior surface was clean and I would be able to get a good measurement for the sleeve. Then I ran into a problem due to the lack of equipment I have available for this work. I had no way of anchoring the tenon to drill it out or to turn down the exterior of the tenon. I do not have a lathe which would have made the fix a very simple job. So I set the pipe and the Delrin aside and did a bit of thinking about how to proceed.
Several weeks later I was planning a work related trip to Calgary, Alberta and then later up into the northwest part of Alberta. I knew I would be passing by the area where Todd Bannard, aka Sasquatch on several of the pipe forums, lived. Todd is a pipe maker whose website is Briar, Sweat and Tears http://www.briarsweatandtears.com/ Todd makes some great pipes. I figured he would have a lathe. I gave him a call and asked if I could stop by for a visit and if he could turn a piece of Delrin to size for a shank repair. It would require him to drill it out and to also turn down the outer diameter to make a sleeve. Todd agreed to give it a go. I packed the pipe, stem and the Delrin in my bag and looked forward to my visit with Todd.
After our initial chatting and smoking a bowl together Todd had a look at the piece of Delrin I had brought along. He shortened the Delrin tenon to the proper length for the sleeve insert. He set up his lathe with a chuck to hold the tenon solidly in place and then inserted a drill bit in the other side. He advanced the bit slowly into the spinning Delrin until the airway opened up. He repeated the process with a second larger drill bit until the interior airway was opened as much as could safely be done with the bit. He turned the outside down to size, checking several times by inserting the Delrin into the mortise of the pipe. Once the fit was smooth and easy he reduced it slightly to give room for the epoxy that would also fill space. He turned grooves into the outer surface of the sleeve in order to give it some bite for the epoxy when inserted into the shank. With that done the rest was up to me. Todd and I smoked another bowl in his back yard before I headed out for the rest of my trip north. I cannot thank Todd enough for his willingness to use his skills and lathe to turn the sleeve for me. The next few photos show Todd’s set up on the lathe and his work in drilling it out and turning it down.
When I returned home from my trip to Alberta I set to work on the pipe. I laid out the pieces – the stem, the Delrin sleeve and the bowl in preparation for the repair. The first step for me was to open up the crack in the shank so that I could glue it together. I wanted the crack to bond together but no overdo the glue and harm the finish on the pipe. I inserted the stem in the shank and applied enough pressure to open the crack. I dripped clear superglue into the crack and then clamped it together until it dried. I used micromesh sanding pads to remove the excess glue on the shank.
With the crack repaired it was time to insert the Delrin sleeve. I mixed a two-part quick drying epoxy and put the sleeve over the end of an artist’s paint brush to make it easier to coat the outside of the sleeve with the epoxy. I used a dental pick to spread the glue on the sleeve and made sure that I had covered it completely. When the sleeve was evenly coated I left it on the paint brush handle and used that to press the sleeve into place in the shank. I adjusted the fit with a dental pick and set it aside until it was dry. The next two photos show the sleeve set in place in the shank.
After the epoxy set I used needle files to open the inside of the sleeve as much as possible in order to achieve a good fit for the stem. The original tenon had a smaller step down portion that was the perfect size for the sleeve. I carefully worked with a half round file and then with round files to evenly open the sleeve. When I had a good snug fit on the step down portion of the tenon I sanded down the rest of the tenon to match the smaller step down end. I used a Dremel, a rasp and needle files to reduce the tenon to the same size as the step down end. I worked on it until it fit snugly in the shank.
I sanded the tenon with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth off the marks left by the rasp and the files. I followed that by sanding the tenon with micromesh sanding pads until it was smooth. I used a sharp knife to smooth out the countersink in the shank of the pipe so that the transition from the briar countersunk portion and the end of the sleeve was smooth. The stem slid snugly into place and the repair was finished. All that remained was to polish the newly cut tenon to remove the marks of the files and sandpapers.
I buffed the pipe and stem with White Diamond on the buffer. I used a light touch so as not to damage the stamping on the shank and to polish the stem. Once finished I buffed it again with carnauba wax and a clean flannel wheel to polish the wax. The finished pipe is pictured below. The repair on the shank was done on the left side at the 9 o’clock position. The first photo shows that side of the shank. The crack is repaired and barely visible. The pipe should continue to serve its purpose for a long time.