Reworking a Chewed Savinelli Alligator Stem

I picked up this Savinelli Alligator from a life-long friend some time back, along with a meerschaum pipe. They both needed a good cleaning but they also needed major stem repair. My friend is a clencher, an understatement, to be sure, and had bitten through both stems. When I saw the pipes I asked him if an alligator had been smoking the Alligator! I have lost the “before” pictures on this one so I’ll have to describe the condition it was presented to me in.

I’ve found that pipes with green stain don’t seem to fair very well; all of them loose their color in my experience. This Alligator was no exception; it was a grimy natural color with only a hint of green in the rustication. The bowl was heavily caked with a crumbly vanilla cake and an overflow of lava on the rim. I did the normal clean up routine on it to get it ready for cosmetic work and stem repair.

The stem, as the photos show, had a sizable chunk missing. I had a few options that I considered. I thought about replacing the stem but that would mean sacrificing the original. It also was not an easy task to find a green lucite swirl that matched and was the right dimensions. I thought about trying to rebuild the end of the stem. I even ordered some epoxy pigment to color-match the repair. But it would be a huge repair and I wasn’t sure it would hold up.

After weighing my options I decided to cut off the damaged end, saving as much length as possible and cutting a new button. I used a Dremel cutoff wheel at 15k RMP to remove the end. I used a combination of files to thin and reshape the stem, cutting a new button in the process.

Once the button and stem were shaped to my satisfaction I began sanding and polishing it with wet/dry paper (220-grit) and the full range of micro mesh. I then polished the stem with Meguir’s ScratchX 2.0. The stem looked good; time for the stummel.

I cleaned the stummel with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the left over grime and oils. Then I applied a couple of coats of Fiebimg’s green leather dye, making sure I had a nice even coat. I buffed the pipe with white diamond to remove the extra dye and set up the shine on the wood and stem. I then gave the pipe several coats of carnauba wax and a hand buff with a micro fiber cloth.

The Alligator still has some battle scars but my buddy can smoke it once again. Our local university’s colors are green and white, the reason he bought a green pipe. I’m happy to say his Marshall University Pipe will ready for service come Homecoming game day.

2 thoughts on “Reworking a Chewed Savinelli Alligator Stem

  1. Alex


    Excellent work on this. I have an early 30s Kaywoodie with a damaged/broken button like this (perhaps not as bad). My initial thoughts were to restore it with charcoal and superglue then reshape, but I’m almost considering this option.


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