Blog by Andrew Selking
I’ve been out of touch for the past few months, between moving, home renovation, and finding a new job my free time has been limited. Dave is sneaky though, he sent a picture of a pipe he bought and asked me if I thought I could fix it. Of course I said yes. Here is the pipe as it looked upon arrival. There is an obvious chunk missing from the button, but there is also a small crack on the other side of the stem. That was uglier than it looks.
I did my normal procedure of cleaning the inside of the pipe first. Dave was kind of worried about how the alcohol might affect the finish, so I used new alcohol and only left the bowl in for about 45 minutes. I soaked the stem in an Oxyclean bath.
The tar on the rim came right off after removal from the alcohol bath. Next I reamed the pipe using my Castleford reamer, used a brush on the inside of the shank, followed by a retort of the bowl. As I suspected the pipe was pretty clean.
As you can see the missing chunk is a problem. The crack on the other side looked like it could keep going, so I drilled a hole to stop it. You might notice a slight micro crack to left of the main crack. Turns out there was a chunk of vulcanite hanging on like a loose tooth. Of course it came out very easily, leaving a stem that was missing most of the button on both sides.
The first thing I do when building a new stem is fit some rolled up wax paper inside the stem. I’ve found that the CA glue does not stick to it and it helps give shape to the inside of the stem. I use ground charcoal (which I purchased at the pet store and ran through a coffee grinder and sifter) and CA glue. I started by filling in the hole that I drilled to stop the crack. Once I had that filled in and sanded smooth, I started building up the stem below the button. I forgot to mention that I use CA accelerator throughout the process. I find that you can work the glue within 2 to 3 minutes instead of having to wait overnight.
Once the stem was repaired, I put layers of clear tape on the stem under the button to serve as a form for the glue. Once the tape was even with the button, I started adding CA glue and charcoal. I put a small amount of charcoal on the bottom of a plastic cup, add a drop or two of CA glue and mix it with a push pin. I use the push pin to add the material to the stem, followed by a few drops of accelerator. Once the material is built up, I start to sand and file it into shape. I use needle files and 400 grit sand paper. This gets me to the final step, which is addressing the micro pits.
I filled the micro pits with a mixture of CA and charcoal, but used much less charcoal than before. I used 400 grit sandpaper and needle files to get the final shape. I then used 1500-2400 grit micro mesh with water to smooth it all out. Since the bowl was in nice condition and I wanted to preserve the finish, I started polishing with 3200 grit micro mesh. I used a progression of 3200-12,000 grit micro mesh on both the bowl and the stem. Here is what it looked like once it was ready for the buffer.
I polished the stem using my rotary tool with a felt pad and white diamond, followed by carnauba wax. My rotary tool has variable speed and I use the lowest setting. I used white diamond and carnauba wax on the bowl with the buffing wheel. Here is what the pipe looked like when I finished. This is my second repair of this type. My ultimate goal is to do repairs that look like the original. Thanks for looking.