Tag Archives: Repairing a cracked acrylic stem

Repairing and Refurbishing a Jobey “Gondoli” From Steve’s Grab Box


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Steve, my friend and mentor, had sent me a pipe lot of 15 pipes for restoration about 3 years back. These assorted pipes were requested by me with an intent that these would provide me with an opportunity to further hone my skills and gain experience in tackling varied issues that one may come across during restoration. Each of these pipes has its own set of issues to address and I look forward to work on each one of this pipe lot. Here is the picture of the pipes as I received it. The one marked with a red cross is a Dunhill Root that has been restored by Steve for my personal collection.

I have worked on a no name straight billiard and an Oom Paul from this lot and both turned out to be beautiful pipes. The next pipe from this lot that I selected to work on is a Jobey “GONDOLI” and is marked with a green arrow and numeral 3.This pipe has a nice hand feel to it and the classic Prince shape with a beautiful variegated fancy stem makes it a very attractive looking pipe. The stummel boasts of beautiful mixed grains. It is stamped on the left side of the shank as “Jobey” in fancy script over “GONDOLI” in capital letters, towards the shank end. On the right side of the shank it is stamped with shape code “965”. The variegated acrylic stem with swirls of brown carries the trademark logo of JOBEY in a brass roundel atop the surface of the stem.I had previously worked on two Jobey pipes and had researched the brand at that time. Here is the link for the research and write on the pipe.  A Simple Restoration of a “Jobey Filtersan # 690” | rebornpipes

No other information was available on the internet that I could link with the GONDOLI line or the shape code # 965. Any assistance in unearthing additional information is most welcome!!

Initial Visual Inspection
This grab bag that Steve had sent me contained few pipes that Jeff had already cleaned and sent across to Steve for further restoration. Thus, unfortunately, before condition pictures are not available with me to share with the readers, but fortunately, I get to work on a pipe that Jeff has already worked his magic upon and presented me with a clean pipe. Below are a few pictures of the pipe as I had received it. Detailed Inspection
The chamber is nice and clean with thick walls without any damage. The rim top surface has a couple of darkened areas which should be easy to clean up. The inner and outer rim edges are in decent shape and the chamber smells clean.The external surface of the stummel has been cleaned and lacquer coat has been removed in most of the places. However, a few spots remain where the lacquer coating is visible. The stummel had a reddish orange stain that has been cleaned out but would need to be eliminated completely (personal choice!). There are a few fills (encircled in pastel blue) at the back of the stummel that would need to be refreshed. There are few dents and dings over the stummel surface that needs attention. Through all this patchy lacquer coat and stain, beautiful Angel’s hair peeks out from the smooth surface. Once the stummel is cleaned and polished, these grains will pop out in all their refined glory. All in all as it stands now, this is one dull and tired looking stummel that requires a lot of TLC!! The mortise is threaded to accommodate the screw-in Jobey link tenon which was patented by Jobey. The mortise is otherwise clean but for the accumulation of dust and grime from three years of storage. This will need to be thoroughly cleaned. The famed Jobey-link Delrin tenon is shown below.The variegated acrylic fancy stem with swirls of browns and grey look very attractive, but to put it mildly, is an utter mess!! It has bite marks (encircled in green) on both upper and lower stem surface with minor tooth chatter all over the bite zone on both sides; however, these should be an easy fix. The real serious damage to the stem can be seen at the tenon end. There is a deep crack from the face of the tenon end on either surface that extends right up to the shoulders of the stem. Along the way this crack on either surface, has further bifurcated in to a couple of more cracks extending to the sides. The extents of all these cracks are indicated with red arrows.

Note: This is one tricky stem repair that I would be undertaking. I had half a mind to completely replace this stem with a new one rather than repair it. But I wanted to preserve the originality of the pipe and secondly, I did not have a suitable acrylic stem to match the beauty of the original stem and pipe combo. So repairs to this stem are the way out for me at the moment. The Process
Firstly, I cleaned the stummel exterior with Murphy’s soap and hard bristled tooth brush. I used an abrasive Scotch Brit pad to completely eliminate the lacquer coat from the surface. I diligently worked the rim top surface to remove the minor traces of darkened stains that remained. With a shank brush, I thoroughly cleaned the mortise of all the dust that had accumulated inside and along the mortise walls.

Note: The reddish orange stain on the stummel has reduced significantly, but not completely. I would need to resort to other stronger measures to eliminate the old stain. The rim top is now clean and the lacquer coating from surface has been removed completely. The fills would need to be refreshed. Next, I wiped the stummel with pure acetone on a cotton swab to eliminate the minor reddish orange stain that remained on the surface. The acetone worked well and the stummel is now free of the old stain, presenting me a fresh canvas to work further. Continuing with the stummel refurbishment, I decided to refresh the fills at the back of the stummel. Using a sharp dental tool, I removed the old fills and cleaned the area with a cotton swab and isopropyl alcohol. The gouged out spots were filled with clear CA superglue and set aside for curing.With the stummel fills set aside for curing, it was time to undertake the repairs to the stem. I first cleaned the stem surface with isopropyl alcohol on a cotton swab. Using nose pliers, I gently flexed the crack just enough for the superglue to seep in. I applied a generous layer of clear CA superglue of medium viscosity over the crack and flexed it a couple of times to make sure that the glue had seeped in to the crack. I pressed the crack together in a vice and set it aside for the glue to cure.

Note: The last picture shows that the glue had seeped completely in to the crack and inside the stem opening that houses the tenon. I shall resort to sanding to remove the excess glue from inside the stem.  Once the glue had completely hardened, I applied another coat of superglue over and around the cracks on either surface. I spot filled the tooth indentations in the bite zone with clear CA superglue and set the stem aside for the glue to cure.Next, while the stem fills are curing, I sand the stummel fills with a flat head needle file to achieve a rough match with the rest of the surface. To achieve a better match and also to address the dents/ dings over the stummel surface, I sand the entire stummel surface with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. I also work the rim top surface and inner rim edge with the sandpaper to even out the rim edge. This sanding also helps in removing residual old stain while providing a smooth surface for the next stage which is polishing cycle using complete set of micromesh pads. I was especially very careful while sanding the sides of the shank around the stampings, as it is very easy to miss out the stamp and one swipe of the sand paper is enough to ruin/ damage the stampings. To remove the sanding marks and bring a deeper shine, I polished the stummel with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 pads. I wiped the surface with a soft cloth at the end of the micromesh cycle. The shining stummel looks amazing with a deep brown coloration and beautiful Angel’s hair grains popping over the stummel surface. 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 darkened grain patterns on full display. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. The next afternoon, I work the stem as the fills had hardened nicely. First, with a flat head needle file, I sand the fills in the bite zone to achieve a rough match. I further fine tuned the match by sanding the filled area with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger.Next, I sand the excess glue from over and around the crack using a flat head needle file followed by a piece of 220 grit sand paper. I used a round needle file and a rolled piece of 220 grit sandpaper to sand out the excess glue from inside the stem opening for the tenon. I also remove excess glue from within the grooves of the fancy stem.

Note: I was careful to maintain a very thin layer of glue over the cracked surface as it would lend additional support and rigidity to the cracked area. Also, I was extra careful while sanding the inside of the stem opening for the tenon to achieve a smooth and even surface for the seating of the tenon.One of the probable causes for the cracks over the tenon end of the stem could have been a very tight fitting tenon. I lightly sand the smooth end of the Delrin tenon with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to achieve a snug fit (not tight and not very loose) in to the stem opening for the tenon. I frequently checked for the seating as I did not want to open up the cracks again. At this stage I am very pleased with the stem repairs and the seating of the Delrin tenon in to the stem.

Note: While sanding the smooth end of the Delrin tenon, one has to be careful and ensure an even all around sanding of tenon as it directly affects the seating of the tenon in to the mortise and thus the seating of the stem face against the shank.  Next I dry sand the entire stem surface using 600 and 800 grit sand papers followed by wet sanding with 1000 grit sandpaper. This serves to reduce the sanding marks of the more abrasive sand papers. I also sharpened the button edges with the sand papers. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the oxidation and sanding dust from the surface.I followed up the sanding regime with micromesh polishing to bring a shine on the stem surface. I wet sand the stem with 1500 to 12000 girt micromesh pads. I rub a small quantity of olive oil (though not necessary for acrylic stem) in to the stem surface to hydrate it and set it aside. The stem looks nice and shinning.Now, on to the home stretch!! I very excited to see the result of the final polishing cycle with Blue Diamond and carnauba wax.

To apply the finishing touches, I first mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks fantastic, the beauty of which is accentuated by its classic shape, size and hand feel. P.S. The stem repairs are solid and with a little care while handling, this pipe should last a few more decades. This pipe is all set for a new home and is now truly ready for a long hiatus with a new piper, providing years of service in future.

Thank you all for reading through this write up and for the valuable time you have invested in doing so. If any reader is interested in adding this pipe to his/ her pipe rotation, feel free to contact me at deshpandeparesh@yahoo.co.in