Stem oxidization and cleaning...

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Stem oxidization and cleaning...

Post by Atom » Thu Sep 09, 2010 11:30 am

Seeing as I am poor in the literal sense, and cannot afford new stems, or one of those amazing non-oxidizing savinelli's (note to self, rob bank, buy sav') my question is simple...
What is the best, and most affordable way to clean my oxidized stems?
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Post by Thoth » Thu Sep 09, 2010 12:04 pm

Alot of people here swear by Walker's Stem Restorer.

For light oxidation I just use brass or copper polish and a lot of elbow grease. For very heavy oxidation like on estate pipes, a soak in straight bleach careful to p[rotect any metal parts with vaseline (bleach with corrode the metal). The bleach gets rid of the oxidation but leave the stem with a matte surface that needs to be polished, which I do with the brass polish and elbow grease.

I have heard of people wet sanding with 800-grit paper, to me though it seems like a high likely hood of screwing things up.

Also I have have considered experimenting soaking the stems in dye remover, since it is a powerful reducing agent in hopes of reversing the oxidation but worry of various side reactions of the vulcanite and the reducer.
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Post by Steverino » Thu Sep 09, 2010 12:10 pm

Atom, there are many ways that are all pretty economical. They way I prefer to do it is to get some fine wet-sand paper (400, 800, 2000) from Walmart and sand them, then buff them with the appropriate grits. Of course it helps to have an electric buffer, mine probably cost around $15 dollars and consists of an electric motor with some different buffing wheels I can put on it. Some people like to bleach the stems in Clorox, then buff them. If you do this, make sure you protect any metal parts or delicate emblems with some petroleum jelly or some such. Another method is to use the Walker Briar Works stem restoration kit. I have this as well and find that it is most efficient on lighter cases of oxidation. I prefer something a little stronger on heavily olived stems.

Edit: If you decide to make a buffer, use a motor with as slow an rpm rating as you can find. Mine is 1725. Some two speed fan motors are 1725 and 1140. Don't use a grinder, they're usually 3450, although I have seen some variable speed grinders lately that would probably be suitable.

Edit: Thoth mentioned about messing up a stem with sanding - he's right, you can sand it too much so that it no longer matches the shank just right. You can also buff it too much and the same thing will happen. The moral of that story is, don't mess it up. Don't sand any more than necessary and always buff with the stem on the pipe. And of course when trying anything new, it's always best to learn on something that won't matter if it gets messed up.

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Post by adauria » Thu Sep 09, 2010 2:11 pm

Thoth - do you use Brasso for that purpose?

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Post by Thoth » Thu Sep 09, 2010 3:09 pm

I have a bottle of it but haven't used it for stems after they reformulated it. It will polish the stem nicely but it seems like you need to work a little harder to get the same effect you had with the older formula (maybe I'm just getting old and feeble). It works, though.

I use a different brass polish , Hope's Brass Polish. I had picked up on clearance from Bed, Bath and Beyond.
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Post by Atom » Thu Sep 09, 2010 9:15 pm

Thanks every one! This will be a fun addition to my monthly pipe cleaning this saturday...
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Re: Stem oxidization and cleaning...

Post by Goose55 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:29 pm

I have had very good and quick results using first 600 grit wet/ dry sandpaper, followed by 1000 grit, and then automotive finish swirl mark remover. Might take maybe 1/2 hour of diligence per stem.
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