When I read this post by Ed James (Ozark southpaw) on Pipe Smoker Unlimited. This is the link to his post: http://pipesmokerunlimited.com/showthread.php?3186-Medico-Ventilator-unventilated I thought I would love to try that as well. Here is Ed’s first post in that thread that got me started thinking about the project. Ed also is a refurbisher of long standing and does excellent work. Here is his website: http://www.ozarksouthpawpipes.com/index.html
On PSU Ed wrote; “I’ve had a few of these and they smoke fine, although sometimes it was hard to get the filter seated so the pipe will draw as it should. If you’re not familiar with the Ventilators, they cannot be smoked without a filter. I smoke mostly filtered pipes, but thought I would see if I could make a Ventilator filterless. Accomplished it by turning a piece of briar the length of the shank and epoxying it in place. For the stem I used a vulcanite blank after replacing the tenon with delrin and adding a ring of tortoise shell acrylic. On my third bowl in it and it is smoking fine.”
Here is the pipe – pictured below. It is a nice looking sandblast that Ed “unventilated”.
So today was the day that I got to finally work on “unventilating” one of my own. Mark Domingues (dogtalker) recently sent me a few old bowls and pipe parts that needed some work. In that package was a Medico Ventilator. It was not as nice as the one Ed worked on, pictured above, but it was a Ventilator sans stem nonetheless and it was the opportunity I was looking for to try my hand at unventilating the Ventilator. This bowl was absolutely clean. I don’t think that it had been smoked other than maybe the first light or so. The bottom 2/3s of the bowl was still virgin briar. The bowl had the typical Medico lacquer coat and there were carved leaves all around the outside of the bowl. I decided to leave the finish alone and rework it as it stood. One day I may remove the finish but for now it will remain as it is.
I have kept a few unredeemable bowls around in my box of stuff and they came in handy this time. I took two different bowls out of the box and used a hack saw to cut off the shank as close as I could to the back side of the bowl. My plan was to follow Ed’s instructions noted above about turning a piece of briar to fit inside the Ventilator tube. I do not have a lathe so I decided to repurpose some briar shanks to do the same job.
After cutting them off the bowl they were ready for me to begin shaping them. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to take the diameter of the cut off shanks down to the diameter of the tube on the Medico. The next seven photos show the process of removing the excess briar. I used two different pieces of slightly different lengths that could be used depending on the stem I chose to use. The one pictured in the first seven photos below was about ½ inch shorter than the length of the tube. I thought about using a plug in the bottom of the tube but later decided to use the longer of the two briar tubes.
I used both the Dremel and 220 grit sandpaper to shape the briar tube to fit in the Ventilator. The first one was just briar. The second one was off of a screw mount shank. I decided to leave the aluminum in the shank and use that to but up against the aluminum seat in the Ventilator tube.
I sanded both tubes so that I could try both and see which one I wanted to use. I chose the long of the two with the aluminum base. I inserted it in the shank of the Ventilator with the aluminum end in first. I pressed it into place in the tube. It is a pressure fit so I did not need to glue it to fasten it in place. I chose not to use epoxy or glue to hold it in place and opted instead for a tight fit. Once in place it was slightly longer than the tube. The aluminum was tight against the interior and could go no further. I used the Dremel with the sanding drum on it to remove the excess briar. Once was flush against the aluminum it was time to fit a new stem to the shank.
I had several saddle stems in my can of stems that would work on the new shank insert. I turned the tenon down with a PIMO tenon turner until it was close to the right size and then finished with sandpaper and files. I used a file to shape the seat in the insert so that the stem would sit well against the tube. The next three photos show the newly seated stem in place.
I took the photo below to show the fit of the briar tube in the aluminum shank. There was a small divot out of the edge that is visible at about the ten o’clock position on the shank. This would be smoothed out as I beveled the inner edge of the shank inward.
I beveled the shank inward with small round needle files to give the stem a proper seat in the shank. I used some cherry aniline stain to stain the briar shank inset in the fins on the aluminum. I applied the stain with a cotton swab and wiped it off. I sanded the aluminum with micromesh sanding pads. I used the 1500 and 1800 grit to polish the aluminum and remove the scratches that were present on the shank.
I sanded the stem with a Dremel and sanding drum and then with 220 grit sandpaper to bring the diameter down to match the shank. I continued to sand until the scratches were minimized. Then I progressed to sanding with the micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500 and 1800 grit and then dry sanded with the remaining grits of pads from 2400-12,000 grit. I decided to fit an acrylic ring on the stem with a slight ridge to match the slight ridge at the junction of the aluminum and the briar near the bowl. I liked the look of the black blue ring so I epoxied it in place. It began as a square piece of acrylic that had been a spacer on another stem. I shaped it with a Dremel to build a slight ridge that would parallel the one on the front of the aluminum shank.
With the spacer glued in place the new look of the stem was more complete to my eye. The stem still needed a lot of sanding and shaping. I used the 1500 and 1800 grit micromesh sanding pads once again to sand the newly added ring and the stem. I worked through 2400 and 3200 grit sanding pads to give yet more polish to the stem. I wet sanded right through 3200 grit this time, something I rarely do to polish the ring and the stem. I continued to dry sand the stem to a shine with the remaining grits of micromesh sanding pads (3600-12,000).
Once the sanding was finished I buffed the stem with White Diamond on the buffing wheel and then gave the pipe and stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed with a clean flannel buff to give it a shine. The finished pipe is pictured below. It is now a working pipe – an “unventilated” Ventilator. Thanks Ed, for the great idea on doing this Ed. It was fun to figure out how to make it work. Your “groundbreaking” made it much easier however!! Again I say thank you.