Blog by Steve Laug
A friend on Facebook messaged me not long ago with a proposition. I had repaired a pipe for a friend of his before Christmas and now he had one for me. He would send it up with some pipes to add to my refurbishing box. The one he had for me to repair was a Radice Brown Canadian with a gold band. The pipe arrived with the broken tenon stuck in the shank. In looking it over I could also see a small crack coming out from under the band that would need to be addressed. I used my usual tenon pulling method and was able to wiggle it free of the shank. The tenon was Delrin and was threaded so that it screwed into the stem. It had broken off leaving two full threads remaining on the end of the tenon. The second photo below shows the pulled tenon and the broken remainder of the tenon in the stem.
I drilled out the broken tenon using a drill bit slightly smaller than the diameter of the hole in the stem. As I drilled it the broken tenon stuck on the drill bit and I was able to unscrew it from the stem. The photo below shows the freshly drilled stem. There was a lot of clutter left behind by the drill that I would need to clean out. I used a dental pick and pipe cleaners to remove all the debris and open up the airway in the stem. I noticed that there was a ridge on the inside of the bowl toward the bottom from whoever had reamed it before I received it. Once I had the tenon out of the shank and the stem drilled and cleaned I examined the pipe carefully. From experience I have seen that when a tenon snaps there can also be collateral damage such as a cracked shank. The band on the pipe was loose so I slid it off and examined the shank. From the end view photo below you can see a crack at about 11 o’clock. It ran up the shank for about ¼ inch and then turned downward along the side of the shank. It extended for almost an inch along the side of the shank. There was a slight crack that split off of it and headed backward toward the end of the shank as well. I used a microdrill bit on the Dremel and drilled a small pin hole at the end of each branch of the crack.
I put a light line of white all purpose glue around the shank and pressed the band in place. I cleaned up the overage of the white glue. I used a dental pick to guide super glue drops into the drill holes and along the crack.
I sanded the repair I had made to the cracked shank with 220 grit sandpaper and then with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge. I sanded the repair area with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and then stained it with a light coloured stain touch up pen. The colour matched the rest of the bowl and shank and once it was polished blended in well. The two dark spots on the side of the shank were the filled drill holes. They are smooth to touch. I used a needle file to smooth out the ridge at the bottom of the bowl and blended it in with the sides of the bowl as much as possible. I cleaned out the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I used a dental pick to clean out the slot on the stem and then ran pipe cleaners and cotton swabs through it to clean up the threads in the tenon end and the airway throughout the pipe. I set the bowl aside and began to work on the stem. I decided to fill the missing dot on the top of the stem before I replaced the tenon. I screwed the broken tenon in to give me something to hold onto while I worked on the stem. I used a knitting needle that was ivory coloured and cut it down with the Dremel until I had a piece that would fit in the hole in the stem. I glued it in place with super glue and then cut off the body of the needle leaving just a small piece in the hole. I sanded it with the sanding drum on the Dremel and brought it as close to flush with the surface of the stem as possible without damaging the stem.
I sanded the dot flush with the surface of the stem with sandpaper and then with the sanding sponges and micromesh pads. I removed the broken tenon and prepared to cut a new tenon. For the material I used a small stem that I have been cannibalizing for tenon repairs. I cut off a piece of the stem that would give me material to work with using a hacksaw. I used the Dremel and sanding drum and two different rasps to reduce the diameter of the end of the newly cut tenon that would insert into the stem. It had to be the same diameter as the threaded end of the old tenon. When I had the tenon fit I cut the length back to match the length of the previous tenon. I put some clear super glue on the small end of the tenon and pressed it into the stem. I ran a bead of clear super glue around the insertion point of the new tenon to make an air tight fit. The photo below shows the new tenon in place in the stem sitting next to the broken one. I sanded the new tenon with micromesh sanding pads to polish it and readied it for the shank. Once it was clean I pushed the stem into the shank and took a series of photos to show the newly stemmed pipe. I quickly sanded the gold band with 6000-12000 grit micromesh pads to remove the scratching and grooves that had been present when I received the pipe.
I sanded the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiping down the stem with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and then gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding with 6000-12000 grit pads and then gave it a final coat to wipe off the sanding dust.
I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the wheel and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean flannel buff. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth and then set it aside for photographs. I hand polished the band with a jeweler’s cloth to give it a shine to match the stem.