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How do you clean an estate pipe?

Posted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 12:41 pm
by jruegg
Just received my first ebay pipe win, a Savinelli classica. I don't want to put my mouth on someone else's pipe. How do you effectively clean the pipe, kill any bacteria, etc.

Thoth, I'm looking in your general direction for help.

Thanks all

Posted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 12:55 pm
by Stan41
I soak the stem in 190 proof grain alcohol (everclear) for several hours then scrub it up with pipe cleaners.
Put the pipe back together, fill the bowl with non iodized salt, then using an eyedropper I fill the bowl with everclear. Leave it alone for 24 hours.
Empty the salt, scrub up with pipe cleaners, and allow it to dry for several hours. Then smoke it.
Stan

Posted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 2:10 pm
by Steverino
Stan's got it nailed. I might mention the issue of carbon cake. If there is substantial cake in the bowl, you might need to ream it out first. Most writers seem to feel that any extant cake should be no thicker than a dime. The primary reason for this is that, when heated, there is a danger of the cake expanding before the briar, possibly causing the bowl to crack. I've gotten hold of a few estate pipes that had huge cake in them and it's usually fairly easy to ream out. Reaming down to briar is optional and some people prefer to do this so they can start over on a brand spanking new cake and don't take any chances on the old cake harboring a bad flavor. Hope you enjoy your "new" pipe!

Posted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 2:21 pm
by jruegg
Steverino wrote:Stan's got it nailed. I might mention the issue of carbon cake. If there is substantial cake in the bowl, you might need to ream it out first. Most writers seem to feel that any extant cake should be no thicker than a dime. The primary reason for this is that, when heated, there is a danger of the cake expanding before the briar, possibly causing the bowl to crack. I've gotten hold of a few estate pipes that had huge cake in them and it's usually fairly easy to ream out. Reaming down to briar is optional and some people prefer to do this so they can start over on a brand spanking new cake and don't take any chances on the old cake harboring a bad flavor. Hope you enjoy your "new" pipe!

I don't think it needs to be reamed as there is not much cake. My main concern was disinfecting the bowl/stem before I light it up. I don't want to inadvertently give myself something!

Posted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 2:30 pm
by jruegg
Ok, here's what it looks like. Again, my main concern is disinfecting it. Looks like there's orange 'gunk' on the stem. Bowl smells like aromatics were smoked, perhaps SWR. There were large chunks of flakes in the bowl which I cleaned out using my pipe tool and some pipe cleaners. I'm going to have to pick up some alcohol either way, do you recommend a particular brand/flavor? (I don't drink)

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Posted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 2:48 pm
by Cliff
It's a beuaty. Clean it well as advised and enjoy your treasure

Posted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 2:51 pm
by Stan41
I don't know of but one brand of grain alcohol: Everclear.

If getting everclear is a problem, 95% rubbing alcohol will work just as well.
Stan

Posted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 2:53 pm
by Stan41
I don't think it needs to be reamed either, but I would scrape the stuff off of the rim.
Stan

Posted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 3:09 pm
by PoppaPig
I feel so dirty.. Never cleaned an estate.. I suppose all but one of them were my grandpa's and great grandpa's anyway. The germs and bacteria that don't kill you just make you stronger ;) Besides Everclear is for drinking 8O

Posted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 4:09 pm
by jruegg
Stan41 wrote:I don't know of but one brand of grain alcohol: Everclear.

If getting everclear is a problem, 95% rubbing alcohol will work just as well.
Stan
Didn't understand that everclear was a brand. Shows how much I drink, which is none. Called the local Liquor Barn and they have it in stock. My wife will pick some up on the way home. If all goes according to plan, I'll be smoking a Savinelli by Saturday night.

Posted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 4:12 pm
by jruegg
Stan41 wrote:I don't think it needs to be reamed either, but I would scrape the stuff off of the rim.
Stan
The only thing on the rim is what I would call black 'stain' from fire. The rim of the bowl has been rusticated along the same lines as the outside of the pipe. It doesn't look like there is much to "scrape" and I don't want to dig into the wood. Was thinking of taking a paper towel damp with the alcohol and rubbing the rim with it. Think that will help?

Posted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 10:46 am
by dasmokeryaget
Stan41 wrote:I soak the stem in 190 proof grain alcohol (everclear) for several hours then scrub it up with pipe cleaners.
Put the pipe back together, fill the bowl with non iodized salt, then using an eyedropper I fill the bowl with everclear. Leave it alone for 24 hours.
Empty the salt, scrub up with pipe cleaners, and allow it to dry for several hours. Then smoke it.
Stan
I tried soaking a stem in alchohol like you sa above and ended up with a terminally gold stem. The local tobacconist couldn't fix it.

Chuck

Posted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 4:29 pm
by N8
Gorgeous pipe Jeremy! Hope you are able to get her shined up soon!

Posted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 8:04 pm
by jruegg
N8 wrote:Gorgeous pipe Jeremy! Hope you are able to get her shined up soon!
Are you serious? ;)

Posted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 8:18 pm
by Bigwill
My advice:

Ship it off to one of your CPS brothers with more experience (and tools on hand) to refurbish the pipe. And spend your time reading that wonderful set of the writings of the Church Fathers there!

Posted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 8:29 pm
by Cleon
This might sound gross, but spit is just about the best thing possible to remove rim tar. I've tried it all and I have found nothing better. Just spit on your finger and dab it on. You might have to let it sit a while. Then scrub, scrub, scrub.

Posted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 8:34 pm
by N8
jruegg wrote:
N8 wrote:Gorgeous pipe Jeremy! Hope you are able to get her shined up soon!
Are you serious? ;)
I mean, I could do it for you, but I'm very expensive! ;)

Posted: Mon Apr 05, 2010 8:17 pm
by Jake
dasmokeryaget wrote: I tried soaking a stem in alchohol like you sa above and ended up with a terminally gold stem. The local tobacconist couldn't fix it.
Chuck,
I know this is kind of an old post, but just in case you haven't been able to get your stem to darken back up, I'll tell you what I did for the same problem. I had soaked the stem in a little dish of Glenlivet scotch, and it turned that light brown, gold color (so it wasn't just the Everclear that did it to your pipe). I took a tiny bit of olive oil and rubbed it into the stem, and the color came right back.

-Jake

Posted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 12:30 am
by Rusty
Jake wrote:
dasmokeryaget wrote: I tried soaking a stem in alchohol like you sa above and ended up with a terminally gold stem. The local tobacconist couldn't fix it.
Chuck,
I know this is kind of an old post, but just in case you haven't been able to get your stem to darken back up, I'll tell you what I did for the same problem. I had soaked the stem in a little dish of Glenlivet scotch, and it turned that light brown, gold color (so it wasn't just the Everclear that did it to your pipe). I took a tiny bit of olive oil and rubbed it into the stem, and the color came right back.

-Jake
Yes, don't immerse your vulcanite stems in solvents. They will really oxidize like mad. Other nifty ways to make it oxidize right in front of you include applying vinegar, alkaline household cleaners (scrubbing bubbles is not for your stem), even water (esp. hot water) will accelerate oxidation. In fact just looking crooked at vulcanite will cause it oxidize. Oh and displaying vulcanite stemmed pipes will also require you to spend hours scraping away the oxidation. It's a lot of trouble and work just to encourage some anti to whine at you about smoking. Yes, vulcanite, what a wonderful material! :wink:
Vulcanite stems are happiest in the dark. So get used to displaying them in the dark. Anti's all have bad eyesight so there's another good fit!

The answer, after you immerse them, is steel wool or sanding to abrade away the sulfur oxidation. And yes, you'll feel guilty! You'll only ever make the mistake of immersing it once. Some throw an already badly oxidized vulcanite stem into bleach to reduce the oxidation. These people are trying to make a vulcanite solution. OK so the surface turns a different colour and you still have to sand it anyway. Wonderful - don't bid on pipes with oxidized stems.

The Magic pads have a bit of abrasive on them and will clean up light surface oxidation pretty well but then you need something to polish the surface. And you want to polish it; a matte surface has more surface area exposed to oxidize. Still a lot less work than the immersion route.

The olive oil or wax will protect the stem from more oxidation but to see if it's black or dark green look at it in the natural light.

You really dipped it in a single malt? Wow. I'm not sure how to take that. You either really like the stem or really hate the Glenlivet. I'm afraid to ask. I drink the single malt and lie to the stems about the Green Stripe which I foist on them. I tell 'em they're getting the good stuff - "so don't go green!" Stems are stupid, they don't know single malt from turpentine. 8O

Posted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 3:13 am
by TNLawPiper
jruegg wrote:
Stan41 wrote:I don't think it needs to be reamed either, but I would scrape the stuff off of the rim.
Stan
The only thing on the rim is what I would call black 'stain' from fire. The rim of the bowl has been rusticated along the same lines as the outside of the pipe. It doesn't look like there is much to "scrape" and I don't want to dig into the wood. Was thinking of taking a paper towel damp with the alcohol and rubbing the rim with it. Think that will help?
Don't get alcohol close to the exterior of the pipe!