Tag Archives: Repairing a broken stem

Rebirthing a Stem for Jennifer’s Dad’s Second Champ of Denmark 4 Freehand


I decided to change things up a bit and work on another of Jennifer’s Dad’s pipes. For the next pipe from the estate of George Rex Leghorn I have chosen a nicely shaped Champ of Denmark Freehand. This one has been sitting for a while now while I debated what to do about the broken stem. I find that sometimes the best solutions come to me when I wait! You may not have read about this estate before, so I will retell the story. I received an email from Jennifer who is a little older than my 64+ years about whether I would be interested in her Dad’s pipes. My brother Jeff and I have been picking up a few estates here and there, so I was interested. Here is the catch – she did not want to sell them to me but to give them to me to clean up, restore and resell. The only requirement she had was that we give a portion of the sales of the pipes to a charity serving women and children. We talked about the organization I work for that deals with trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and their children and she decided that would be a great way to carry on the charitable aspect of her Dad’s character. With some great conversation back and forth she sent the pipes to Jeff and he started the cleanup process on them. Once he had finished cleaning them all he sent them to me to do my work on them.

The Champ of Denmark pipe is stamped on the underside of the shank CHAMP over of Denmark and below that is the number 4. It came to us with a broken stem about an inch, inch and ½ above the tenon. The beautiful straight and flame grain around the bowl and up the shank is visible through the very thick coat of grime. It seemed like it had a dark stain but hard to tell. There were oil stains from George’s hands on both sides of the bowl obscuring the grain. It was so dirty that it was hard to see the colour well. There was a thick cake in the bowl and it had overflowed with lava into the plateau on the bowl top and shank end. It was a dirty and tired looking old pipe. The stem was badly oxidized but there were not any tooth marks or chatter on the surface. The button was in good shape. It had been sitting in boxes for a lot of years and it was time to move ahead with the restoration. Jennifer took photos of the pipes she was sending. I have included two she included from this pipe. I had some decisions to make regarding this stem. Should I replace it or should I fiddle with a repair? I would have to think that through.When the box arrived from Jennifer, Jeff opened it and took photos of each pipe before he started his cleanup work on them. There were two Champ of Denmark Freehands in the box – both were in bags and both had broken tenons and stems. There is something about classic Danish Freehands that is intriguing and I like working on them. The shapes seem to really capture the flow of the grain on the briar and this second pipe is no exception. The briar appeared to be in good condition underneath the grime. The finish looked intact under the grime. The bowl had a thick cake that had hardened with time. The lava overflow on the plateau rim but it could very well have protected the rim from damage. We won’t know what is under it until Jeff had cleaned it off. The stem was broken in the middle between the turned four sided decorative bead and the blade. It looked as if it had snapped when George was trying to remove a stuck stem. But that was a piece of the history of the pipe I would never know for certain. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started working on it. I include those below.Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the plateau rim top and on the shank end as well. It was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. The lava coat looks horrible but it points to a well-used, favourite smoking pipe. George must have enjoyed this old timer and when the stem broke he must have been frustrated.Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish – the grime and grit all over the sides and flat bottom of the bowl. It is a dirty pipe. Jeff took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It is very clear and readable. It reads as noted above.Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the broken stem showing the scratching, oxidation and tooth chatter on the stem surface. You can also see where the stem snapped – it is a very clean break and it is totally fixable. I will need to see if I have a small piece of tenon that can serve to join the two parts of the stem.When I worked on the previous Champ of Denmark back in June of 2019 I had done some research on the brand (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/06/22/restoring-jennifers-dads-champ-of-denmark-4-freehand/). I turned to that previous blog and quote that here in full:

I looked on the Pipephil site to get a quick overview of the brand. In the back of my mind I remembered a connection to Karl Erik. I could not remember the details of the connection (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-c4.html). I did a screen capture of the section on the brand that was shown on the site. I have included it below.In summary it says that the brand was distributed by Larsen & Stigart a tobacconist in Copenhagen, Denmark. The warehouse had a workshop that had such famous carvers as Soren Eric Andersen, Karl Erik Ottendahl and others.

I turned then to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Champ_of_Denmark) to see if I could get a bit more information. I quote in full from that site:

“Champ of Denmark” were made for and distributed by Larsen & Stigart by Karl Erik Ottendahl. Larsen & Stigart had some indoor carvers at certain times, too (e.g. Søren Eric Andersen) and among other things they managed to supply Dunhill with wild Danish fancy pipes.

In an endnote under the article on Karl Erik (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Erik) I found some more information. I quote the endnote in full.

¹ It is almost impossible to draw a sharp line between some of these brands… Larsen & Stigart – once a famous Copenhagen pipe shop, now almost forgotten – offered pipes produced by KE stamped “Larsen & Stigart” as well as pipes stamped “Larsen & Stigart” + “Champ of Denmark” or “Larsen & Stigart” + “Shelburne”. Almost needless to say, there are pipes stamped “Champ of Denmark” or “Shelburne” only. And the only reason is inconsistent stamping??? (BTW Larsen & Stigart employed own indoor carvers for appr. one decade – e.g. Søren Eric Andersen. They even managed to supply Dunhill with wild Danish fancy pipes.)

Now I had the verification of the link to Karl Erik Ottendahl. The pipe was most probably made by him for the pipe shop in Copenhagen. Before I get on to cleaning up the pipe I thought I would once again include the tribute that Jennifer wrote to her Dad for the blog. She also sent some photos and an article that her Dad wrote for Jeff and me to be able to get a feel for him. I have included those below. Note in each of them that he is holding a pipe in his left hand. I asked her to also send me an email with a brief tribute to her Dad. Here is her tribute from an email to me.

Steve, I want to thank you again for accepting my dad’s pipes.  They were so much a part of my dad’s life that I could not simply discard them. But as his daughter, I was not about to take up smoking them either. *laughing* I think my dad would like knowing that they will bring pleasure to others.  I know that I do.

I’m not sure what to say about his pipes. I always remember Daddy smoking pipes and cigars.

First a bit about my dad. Though my father, George Rex Leghorn, was American (growing up in Alaska), he managed to join the Canadian Army at the beginning of WWII, but in doing so lost his American citizenship.  He was fortunate to meet a Canadian recruiting officer who told him the alphabet began with “A” and ended with “Zed” not “Zee”, and also told him to say that he was born in a specific town that had all its records destroyed in a fire.  When the US joined the war my dad, and thousands of other Americans who had made the same choice*(see the link below for the article), were given the opportunity to transfer to the US military, and regain their citizenship.

After WWII, my dad, earned his degree at the University of California Berkeley and became a metallurgist. There is even a bit about him on the internet.

He loved taking the family out for a drive, and he smoked his cigars on those trips. (As a child, those were troubling times for my stomach.)

I most remember my father relaxing in his favorite chair with a science fiction book in one hand and a pipe in the other… Sir Walter Raleigh being his favorite tobacco… and the pipes themselves remind me of him in that contented way.  If I interrupted his repose, he’d look up, with a smile on his face, to answer me.

It seemed he smoked his Briarwood pipes the most, though he had others.  At the time, it was only the Briarwood I knew by name because of its distinctive rough shaped bowl.  And it was the Anderson Free Hand Burl Briar, made in Israel, which I chose for his birthday one year, because I thought he might like that particular texture in his hand.

At least two of his pipes, he inherited from his son-in-law, Joe Marino, a retired medical laboratory researcher (my sister Lesley’s late husband)… the long stemmed Jarl (made in Denmark), and the large, white-bowled, Sherlock Holmes style pipe.  I believe Joe had others that went to my dad, but Lesley was only sure about those two.

The Buescher, corncob pipe my older sister Lesley bought for Daddy while on one of her travels around the States.

A note on the spelling of my sister’s name…

My dad met my mother, Regina, during WWII and they married in Omagh, Ireland.  My mother was English and in the military herself.  The English spelling of Lesley is feminine, and Leslie masculine, in the UK… just the opposite of here in the United States.  I guess my mom won out when it came to the spelling of the name.

I’ll send you photos of my dad soon, along with his WWII experience story.

Jennifer

*https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2013/10/22/the_americans_who_died_for_canada_in_wwii.html

I am getting more and more spoiled on working on pipes that Jeff cleaned up. So much so that when I have to clean them it is a real chore! This pipe was a real mess just like the other ones in the collection. I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looked really good when I got it. The rim top plateau looked lifeless but clean. We were not sure what I would do with the stem so Jeff cleaned the internals and scrubbed the exterior in case I chose to try to repair it. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I actually forgot to take many photos before I started my part of the work but I did have one with the pipe and the broken stem. The briar is beautifully grained and clean. The rim top plateau is cleaned as well. It looked good. The shank extension was vulcanite and it was badly oxidized and would need to be sanded and polished.My first thought was to replace the broken stem with another freehand stem. I went through my stems and chose the one that is shown in the photo below. The length was right and the tenon was close. I set up my cordless drill with the PIMO tenon turner and adjusted the diameter of the tenon to fit the shank extension. I put it in the pipe and took a photo of the pipe to get a sense of how it looked. I actually did not like the shape of the stem or the way it looked. I would need to think through how to address the snapped stem. I was not happy with the look of the new stem. It was too think and clunky looking to me to fit the style of the pipe. I decided not to use it so I did not even bother bending it. I turned back to the broken stem and thought long and hard about it. I went upstairs and had a coffee and a short nap before I finally came up with a plan. I headed back downstairs and dug through my parts boxes for broken tenons. I even keep those around when I pull them from a shank. I have a good assortment of them in various diameters. I picked two possibilities and laid them out. From the two I chose the smaller one. Now the plan was beginning to take shape. I was going to drill out the two parts of the stem and rejoin them together with the piece of tenon. (Forgive the blurry photo but you get the idea. I would drill a hole in each end and use the tenon to rejoin them.I started opening the airway in both halves of the stem with a drill bit slightly larger than the airway. I worked my way up to the bit that is shown in the photos. It was the slightly smaller than the piece of tenon that I was going to use for the joint.I reduced the diameter of the short tenon piece with a Dremel and sanding drum. I worked on it until the fit in the drilled airway was perfect. Once that was done I used the Dremel and sanding drum to take down the diameter a bit more on the second half of the tenon. I topped it on the topping board using the blade side as a handle. Once the fit was right on both sides I glued it in the blade side with clear Krazy Glue and pressed it into the hole.  I cleaned up the end of the tenon and coated it with a layer of clear Krazy Glue. I pressed the second half of the stem in place on the tenon insert and aligned the four sided bulb on the tenon end of the stem.I set the stem aside to let the repair cure and turned my attention to the oxidized shank extension. I sanded the oxidation off with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. The third photo shows the plateau top and how the nooks and crevices look on the rim top. I polished the bowl and rim with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down between pads with a soft cotton cloth. You can see the progress in the shine as you go through the photos. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl and the plateau on the rim top and shank end with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point. I am very happy with the way the pipe is looking at this point in the process.  Jeff’s clean up of the rim top looked very good. I decided to leave the darkened areas and darken the remaining valleys in the plateau with a Black Sharpie Pen to give the rim top a contrast look with the high smooth spots. It also gives the plateau more definition and gives it a clean look. The finished rim top looks very good.I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I inserted a pipe cleaner in the stem to protect the airway from collapsing when I heated it. I painted the surface of the stem with the flame of a BIC lighter until the vulcanite was soft. Once it was pliable I bent it to match the angle of the bowl top. I held it at that angle and cooled it under cool water to set it.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to smooth out the repair in the middle of the stem and to remove the oxidation that remained on the stem surface. I smoothed out the repair in the mid-section of the stem with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper on the edge of my pen knife blade. I followed that with the 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish and a cotton pad to remove remnants of oxidation and to further blend in the sanding. The stem was showing some promise at this point in the process.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I finished by wiping it down with Obsidian Oil after each pad and set it aside to dry. I carefully buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and did the same for the bowl and vulcanite shank extension. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax separately as the angle of the stem and shank made buffing this a bit tricky. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The polishing of the briar makes the grain really pop. The polished black vulcanite bit seemed to truly come alive with the buffing. This Freehand feels great in my hand and is what I would call and Egg/Oom Paul. It is one that could be clenched and smoked while doing other things as it is very light weight for a pipe this size It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it from Jennifer. There should be a lot of life left in this Champ of Denmark by Karl Erik. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 ¼ inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This is one that will go on the rebornpipes online store shortly. If you want to carry on the pipe trust of George Leghorn let me know. Thank you Jennifer for trusting us with his pipes. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners, we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.

Reconstructing a Broken Stem on a 1964 Dunhill Shell 253 f/t


Blog by Paresh Despande

I had just finished a second of the 30 pipes from my Mumbai Bonanza find, a 1979 DUNHILL BRUYERE 51671; here is the link to the write up; https://rebornpipes.com/2019/03/13/reconstructing-a-broken-stem-on-dunhill-bruyere-51671/

I was fortunate enough to have heeded to the advice of my dear friend and mentor, Mr. Steve, and struck a deal with a trash collector from Mumbai. He did not know what he was selling and I did not know what I was buying as we reside in different cities!! The argument that Mr. Steve presented was that if not anything, I shall at least have some spares and this was logical. I struck a deal and here are pictures of the pipes that I received in this lot. This lot contains some very nice collectible pipes, a few well known brand pipes and some mediocre pipe brands. Overall, with seven Dunhills, a Preben Holm #1, a couple of Made in England Pete System pipes, Charatan’s, Custom-Bilt, Stanwell and other assorted pipes, I would say that I had hit a huge jack pot!! Hence, I like to call this find as “Mumbai Bonanza”.

The pipe that I decided to work on next from this find is another Dunhill, a 1964 Shell Briar billiard, and is marked in an indigo circle in the picture below. It is stamped on the heel and the underside of the shank with the shape number 253 over a star followed by F/T followed by DUNHILL over Shell Briar over the COM stamp Made in England 4 which dates it as being made in 1964. This is followed by Group size number 4 in a circle and letter S for Shell. Dunhill White Dot adorns the top of the vulcanite stem. The stampings are deep, crisp and clear. I tried to search on pipedia.org for the significance of the star on the heel. However, the information available did not match with the stampings on the pipe on my worktable. I approached members in my group on FB. Their learned response indicated that Dunhill stamped their replacement stummel with a star at the bottom of the heel. They also assured me that these replacement bowls are intrinsically original with same quality as the original and that this does not affect the value of this pipe.

With assurance, I move ahead with the restoration of this beautiful medium sized and sandblasted Dunhill billiard.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The chamber is clean with a thin layer of cake which indicates that the pipe has been kept clean by its previous Steward. From what I can see, the chamber walls appear to be without any damage. The chamber is odorless. There is an overflow of lava on the rim top surface. The inner rim edge show minor unevenness which should be easy to address. It is the outer rim edge that shows significant damage in the form of dents, dings and scratches, all along the circumference. This must have been caused due to hammering of the edge against a hard surface to remove dottle!!!!! This being a Dunhill Shell, it will be a challenge for me to fix these dents. The mortise is clean and so is the shank airway. The condition of this pipe is very similar to the earlier Dunhill Bruyere that I have restored and makes me wonder if these could have come from the collection of the same Steward. The stummel boasts of some beautiful sandblast patterns, a mix of straight and cross grain all around. It is dirty with grime and tar filling in much of the craggy finish. The briar looks lifeless and dull which is nothing serious to address. The round shank of the Billiard flows into a long tapered stem which has a flare, like a fish tail, at the button end and hence the stamp F/T. The vulcanite stem shows significant damage to the button end, in fact, there is no button at all, similar to the Dunhill Bruyere that was restored earlier!!!!! This convinces me that there is a high probability that these have been previously enjoyed by the same Steward. The stem end is missing, well, about an inch of vulcanite. This pipe would have been his favorite and he had continued to enjoy bowls of his favorite tobacco long after the button end had been chewed off. This is evident from the significant tooth chatter on both the surfaces of the stem. I intend to reconstruct/ rebuild this portion of the stem, including the slot, while maintaining the stem and general profile of the pipe. This will require major repairs. The quality of vulcanite is good. The condenser tube inside the stem however will have to be cleaned and sanitized. In this project, repairs to the damaged outer edge and stem rebuild will be a major challenge, the stem more so, as achieving the fish tailed profile of the stem will need to be adhered to for overall aesthetic appeal of this piece of briar. Having just finished the tedious restoration of the Dunhill Bruyere, I am aware of the challenges this restoration will present en-route.

THE PROCESS
Since the stem has significant damage, and from my experience of stem repairs this will be time consuming and laborious part, I start this project by tackling the stem first. I had decided to rebuild the entire stem including the button and the slot, while giving the button end a slight flare which is the trademark of a fish tail stem. This decision was partly dictated by the fact that I do not have a rotary cutting blade to cut the damaged button end and partly to my innate desire to maintain the originality of the pipe. It’s a Dunhill after all!!

Now that I was clear about the path to be followed, I first flame both the surfaces of the stem with a Bic lighter. The heat from the flame raises the vulcanite to the surface and takes care of the tooth chatter that was seen earlier. I sand the stem end with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to erase the scratches and provide a smooth surface for the intended fill. I cleaned out the internals of the stem with hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. Once I was satisfied with the internal cleaning, I wiped the stem surface, particularly the damaged button end, with a cotton pad and alcohol to remove any traces of dirt and grime. To begin the stem repairs, I smeared a folded pipe cleaner with petroleum jelly and inserted it in to the stem airway. I prepared a mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal and generously applied it over and extending beyond the broken surface and set it aside for curing over night. I have not researched and measured the exact length that I had to reconstruct, but eyeballed the length using the longer right side of the stem where a portion of the button was still intact. Before moving ahead, I would like to mention here that I had applied this mix in layers, over the week, to achieve sufficient thickness which would help during the filing and sanding while shaping the button and achieving the correct stem profile. While the stem repair was set aside to cure, I moved ahead to deal with the stummel repairs. There was practically no cake in the chamber and so I directly used a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper to sand out the traces of cake and expose the walls of the chamber to ascertain that there are no cracks/ heat fissures. I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol to remove the carbon dust left behind by all the reaming and sanding process. The walls of the chamber were solid with no damage. This was followed by cleaning the mortise by scraping away at the dried gunk with my fabricated spatula and followed it up with further cleaning using cue tips, pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This eliminated all traces of old smells from previous usage.Continuing with the cleaning regimen, using a soft brass wired brush I gently scraped away the thick lava coat in the blast of the rim. With a hard bristled tooth brush and dipped in undiluted Murphy’s oil soap, I very deliberately scrubbed the sandblast finish on the stummel and the rim top. The stummel and rim top was dried using paper napkins and soft cotton cloth and set it aside to dry out naturally. The stummel looks fresh and clean. The damages to the outer rim edge are now clearly visible in the above pictures after the cleaning. At this point in the restoration, I was faced with the dilemma of whether or not should I top the bowl to address the rim damage. The issue was recreating the sandblast on the rim top after topping. I put this question to my friends from pipe restoration community on FB. Mr. Steve and Mr. Mark Domingues suggested that I stain the damaged areas with a stain pen and if this does not work, topping is the only recourse available. I went ahead with the suggestion and stained the damaged rim edges and rim top using Mahogany color stain pen. After it had dried completely, I again stained it with dark brown stain pen to darken it further. I set it aside for several hours before working on it any further. Here is how the rim appeared at this stage. Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful contrasting hues colors that are unique to this sandblast pipe, on full display. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. I had hoped that the balm would work its magic on the filled area and help in blending it a bit, and in this instance, the blend was perfect. The damaged surface has blended to an extent that it appears like a sandblasted surface. Sometimes in life, the most difficult issues have the simplest solutions!! I set the stummel aside and turned my attention to the stem repair. The fill had cured nicely and I moved ahead and began the process of filing and shaping the button end with a flat head needle file. This time around it was more  challenging as I had set for my self the aim of creating a fish tail shape (or rather as close a match to fish tail as possible), a straight thin slot and a concave shape to the button end as seen on original stems. Learning from past mistakes, I marked a straight line for the slot orientation and using only the tip of the pointed needle file, I carved out the slot. I followed it up by sanding with folded pieces of 180 grit sand papers to laboriously shape and widen the slot, always taking care to maintain a straight line. Once I was satisfied with the profile of the slot, I went ahead and shaped the button by first achieving a rough shape with a flat head needle file and there after fine tuning it by sanding it down with a 220 grit sand paper. Unfortunately, being so engrossed in this process made me forget to take pictures of the progess of these stages.

For a better blending, I further sand the entire stem with 220 followed by 400, 600 and 800 grit sand paper. This helps to reduce the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with alcohol after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rehydrate the vulcanite. The repairs have blended in very well and the stem now looks shiny black and beautiful. The internals of the stem was once again cleaned out using alcohol and pipe cleaners to clear the airway of all the debris resulting due to the sanding. The finished stem is shown below. To finish, I re-attach the stem with the stummel. I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel to my local machine which is similar to the Dremel.  I set the speed at about half of the full power and applied White Diamond compound to the entire pipe. I wiped/ buffed the pipe with a soft cotton cloth to clear it of any leftover compound dust. I then mounted another cotton cloth wheel on to the polishing machine and applied several coats of carnauba wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The completed pipe looks lovely, fresh and vibrant. I cannot thank enough my friends Mr. Dal Stanton, Mr. Sam Vior, Mr. Victor Naddeo and Mr. Steve for helping me to research and complete this lovely 1964 made Dunhill Shell billiard.

 

Repairing a broken Peterson stem


Blog by Joe Mansueto

Joe Mansueto sent me this link to a helpful tutorial on how he repairs broken stems. I thought it would be helpful to post it after I just posted Dal Stanton’s stem repair piece on the blog today. Here is the original link to the Dr. Grabow Web Forum if you want to have a look at the original post and the responses there. http://drgrabows.myfreeforum.org/ftopic9615-0-asc-0.php. Here is Joe’s article.

A new friend snapped his Pete stem… glued it… dropped it… lost some pieces… This is what it looked like when it arrived for me to work on.pete1I drilled some small holes into each face to create ‘roots’ for the patch material…pete2Once the repair dried I sanded it until it was smooth. The photo below shows the stem after sanding. It came out smooth.  A bit of a buff is all that’ needed…pete3Back in service… The next photo shows the finished repair. The pipe was ready to go back to its owner for many more years of service.pete4After completing the repair I received a lot of responses and questions about how it was done and if I would make a tutorial for the above repair. The tools/supplies I used (prior to buffing) include 91% isopropyl, a Dremel (with a scribing bit), activated charcoal, and high-quality CA (cyanoacrylate). I say ‘high-quality’ because I get it from a professional wood-turner… and after using his product… the strength and speed of adhesion seems better than anything else I’ve used.

Here is the step by step process:

  1. ‘Rough up’ the faces / areas being joined. I used the scribing tool on a Dremel. This provides a rough surface for the patch material to adhere to.
  2. If you want to use the “roots” process that I’ve used, you simply use a tiny drill bit…or a tiny scribing tool to push some holes into the face…making sure you don’t drill in and back “out” again…lol.

Here is an image showing where I might drill holes. With these ‘roots’…the holes do NOT need to be directly across from the roots being drilled on the face of the other broken piece.  If I were inserting some very thin gauge wire into these roots (which would lend even more strength)…you’d have to make sure these holes lined up perfectly across from each other…and that’s a whole ‘nother tutorial! pete-jpgScrub clean the 2 faces being joined…I used the 91% iso and a toothbrush…and let it dry well.

  1. I used a pipe cleaner as you can see, to keep the 2 faces lined up. Critical to that detail is covering the pipe cleaner in ‘shiny’ scotch / packing tape…because if the patch material gets to the pipe cleaner (and it will), it won’t stick to the shiny tape. The pipe cleaner not only kept these 2 pieces lined up, but also is essentially what “held them together” in place, while the patch dried.
  2. The patch material is made from the CA and activated charcoal. I used medium viscosity CA. The mix is “close to” 50/50 between the 2…the consistency is more like molasses than honey…very thick.
  3. To begin with…I used a sharp ended toothpick to jam the patch down into each root. Then covered both faces…held onto the pipe cleaner at one end…and pushed the broken tip down onto the rest of the stem.  I made sure that they were sitting at the correct angle…then I smeared enough of the patch to be sure it was all filled / covered.
  4. Once hard (I let it sit 30 min), I filed off the excess back down near the surface of the surrounding stem…and had to add a 2nd small patch to a spot where it had caved in just slightly.
  5. Dried again…filed it down with multiple needle files.
  6. Wet sand (360, 500, 800, 1000).
  7. Buffed with Tripoli, followed by white diamond.

It is a bit of work just to save a stem…but it’s been a while, I needed the practice….and I preferred doing this instead of refitting the pipe with an aftermarket stem.