Blog by Steve Laug
Not too long ago I received an email from Dave Gossett regarding another LHS Sterncrest that he had picked up. He asked if I had any hints on how to remove a broken metal mortise and broken off stinger from the shank of a pipe. He sent a picture of the issue and I wrote back regarding drilling the broken mortise insert out of the shank. He also posted on the Dr. Grabow Collectors Forum looking for help. “Does anyone have any ideas how to get this out of the shank without damaging the pipe (further)? I received this in an estate lot. Looks like somebody gave it hell already. I tried putting a screw in to remove it, but it has been gouged so badly that it won’t budge. I left it as is to keep from further damaging the shank. It has the stinger inside as well. I would have tried to file it or hot exacto knife the vulcanite but with the stinger, I don’t think this will work either. The mortise has been chewed up but I think if I can remove the debris, using a replacement stem with an extra-long tenon should make a good seal past the damaged area.”
I wrote my suggestions along with those of others on the forum and looked forward to hearing from Dave and seeing some more of his craftsmanship on this old timer. A month or so passed without any follow-up post or emails regarding the pipe. I found myself wondering what he had done with the pipe and if he had been able to use the method I wrote about on the forum and in the email. Being a bit impatient and I suppose nosey as well, I wrote Dave to see if he had had any luck clearing the shank of the pipe. He wrote back:
“On another note, I bought a Sterncrest 14k with the tenon and stinger broke off in the shank. Do you do repair work for hire? I tried putting a screw in the broken tenon to remove it, but it won’t budge. The eBay genius I bought it from gouged the hell out of the mortise trying to remove it. I’d like to have it removed and get a stem replacement fitted for it. I’ll order the replacement stem and send both together if you’re interested.”
I wrote him back and said I would gladly remove the broken tenon and ruined mortise apparatus for him. I offered to do it for nothing as I like the challenge. I also have more than enough stems here that would probably work with the pipe so I suggested he just mail it to me and let me have a shot at clearing things up.
I was away this past week and when I returned there was a box waiting for me. I opened it and removed several pipe bowls and stem that he sent as gifts. I unwrapped the bowl that needed attention and had a look at it. I was pretty sure that the method I suggested would work very well and remove the ruined mortise. I was hoping that once I had removed that I would be able to push the broken tenon out of the bowl and shank.
I set up my cordless drill and put a drill bit the same size as the mortise in the shank of the pipe. I tightened it in place in the chuck and then hand twisted the bowl onto the drill bit. I never use a power tool to do this as it can create more problems that it cures. Because of the extensive damage to the shank and to the aluminum fitting I chose a bit the same size as the mortise rather than starting with a smaller one. My idea was to twist the bowl onto the bit until I had removed the mortise apparatus and opened up the shank so that the tenon piece could be removed.
It did not take too long to carefully twist the bowl onto the shank enough that the broken part was removed. A side benefit was that in doing this I also smoothed out the inside of the shank and removed many of the gouges in the side walls of the mortise. I would need to use a needle file to further smooth out the spots in the shank where the marks were deeper than the drill bit could remedy. When I had finished removing the mortise insert I used a dental pick to push the broken tenon piece out of the shank. The tenon/stinger extended into the bottom of the bowl so I put the end of the pick in one of the holes in the top of the stinger and pushed the apparatus back into the shank. It was not stuck so it moved easily into the shank and with a light tap of the end of the shank fell out on the work table. With the airway cleared of impediment I used a small round needle file and a sanding stick to clean up the inside of the shank and to prepare it for a new push stem that I would fit to the shank. I removed a lot of the damage to the shank with the files though some of it was too deep into the briar to completely remove. I gave the inner edge of the shank end a slight bevel with a sharp knife. It was not perfect as the hack job on the shank end was very rough. I was able to smooth it up quite a bit. The first picture below shows the shank end before the bevel. The second one shows the slight bevel. I am sure that Dave will clean it up even more in his refurb.
For fun I salvaged the broken tenon and cut off the broken part with a hack saw. It will need a small tube extension to extend it fully into the bowl but it is going back to Dave so he can decide if he wants to use it.
The stinger was just over a half inch too short and I did not have a tube to extend it. I did have another stinger apparatus that was the right length. It fit perfectly in the tenon and extended the right distance into the shank. I am pretty sure it is another iteration of the LHS system but it is slightly different. I inserted it in the tenon and took the next photo. I put the stem in the shank and took a photo of the stinger end in the bowl.
I will send both stingers to Dave when I return the pipe. I did not ream or clean the bowl as Dave wanted to do the restoration work himself. I had a hard time not falling prey to the temptation to ream the bowl or clean up the pipe but somehow I succeeded. I kept myself to the task at hand. I went through my stem can and found a stem that would work well with the shank diameter. It has some scratches and will need a bit of fine tuning make the fit perfect but it is a good starting place.