Loose Stem attention - Puff Cigar Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 8 Old 02-14-2018, 12:21 PM Thread Starter
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Loose Stem attention

I'll just be honest and say early on with a couple of my pipes, I would get over anxious to clean right after smoking a bowl and would pull the stem from a hot bowl. I later learned that the pipe should be cool before removing stem for additional cleaning. Now I have a couple Briars with extremely loose stems. Almost to the point of bowl sliding off when cool.

I've done a little searching online and found several methods including tape, beeswax, and even heating the stem end to push it into a hard surface with result of expanding the tip diameter.

What do you usually do with loose stems?

Erik

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post #2 of 8 Old 02-14-2018, 12:44 PM
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My Savinelli 673 had a pretty loose stem when I got it and it has somehow worked itself out to be a nice snug fit over time. I don't know if this is normal or not.

I read something about this somewhere long ago where a guy wrapped the tenon with very thin wood (paper!) before inserting it into the mortise and his problem was solved. However, I'm sure you don't want to deal with this every time you clean your pipe so hopefully someone with more experience or knowledge about the subject will chime in here.
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post #3 of 8 Old 02-14-2018, 02:37 PM
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You can use fingernail polish or epoxy to coat the tenon, let it dry and sand it to fit. This might be the safest way, heat will work but you have to be very careful, too much pressure and your sanding the tenon to get it to fit. I would probably try the beeswax first.
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post #4 of 8 Old 02-14-2018, 03:20 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NightFish View Post
My Savinelli 673 had a pretty loose stem when I got it and it has somehow worked itself out to be a nice snug fit over time. I don't know if this is normal or not.
That may be because your wood wass very dry. After normal use, some moisture worked in and things snugged up. I read about a few instances like this. I think, that's what the beeswax might being trying to address as well. Putting a little moisture in the wood causing it to swell, ever so slightly.

I will be trying Nathans advise to start with beeswax and then move on to finger nail polish treatment if it does not work.

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post #5 of 8 Old 02-14-2018, 05:36 PM
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I found this on Pipedia. It echoes the advice of @OneStrangeOne and @ebnash.

Fixing a loose stem
Even if you're careful to never remove the stem from a hot pipe, you may occasionally be faced with a loose stem. Often this problem will fix itself with time, but if the stem is so loose that it is in danger of falling out, then something must be done. The safest bet is to take the pipe to a tobacconist or send it to a repairperson. These people will have a great deal of practice performing this task, and they will do it for a very modest fee. It is remarkably easy for an amateur to crack a shank while attempting this repair, as many of us can sadly attest.

Nevertheless, if you are determined to do this yourself, you must first determine what sort of stem you have. If the stem is lucite, the easiest fix is to apply a very thin layer of clear nail polish to the tenon, allow this to dry *completely*, and then carefully sand the tenon to fit. A vulcanite stem, on the other hand, is a bit more complicated, as you will need to heat the tenon and expand it in some way. There are a number of variations to this procedure, but the most common one is described below.

First, remove the stem from the pipe and insert a pipe cleaner into the stem so that it just reaches the end of the tenon (this is to ensure that you don't collapse the air hole). Next, carefully heat the tenon over a match for about five seconds (the intent is to soften the vulcanite, not melt it). Then gently press the end of the tenon against a flat surface, keeping the tenon as perpendicular to the surface as possible, taking care not bend the tenon to one side or the other. After the stem has cooled, test fit it. If the stem is still too loose, repeat this procedure. If it is now too tight, then see "What should I do with a stem that's too tight?" below. NOTE: It is *very* easy to ruin a perfectly good pipe with this technique, and I feel I should reiterate my earlier statement that this job is best undertaken by a "professional."

A variation on the above that has less chance of bending or ruining the tenon is the following: Insert a tapered mandrel into the tenon. Apply heat to the mandrel (an alcohol flame is recommended). As the heat from the mandrel transfers to the tenon and softens it, move the mandrel further into the tenon. Repeat as necessary to get the desired expansion. Remove the mandrel and place tenon in cold water to set. Note that PIMOmakes a 'Stem Tightening Kit' that uses this principle.

A less radical (and *much* safer) procedure that has been recommended to me by several people is to simply rub the stem's tenon against a block of beeswax until the tenon is well coated. Once this is complete, reinsert the stem. I am told that the joint will tighten after a smoke or two.

Another less radical approach to try if the beeswax method doesn't work, is to simply heat the tenon and then allow it to cool. Very often the tenon will have expanded just enough to make a decent fit. Rather than an open flame, I suggest carefully using a heat gun, or a handheld hairdryer on high heat aimed at the tenon.
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post #6 of 8 Old 02-14-2018, 05:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piper View Post
I found this on Pipedia. It echoes the advice of @OneStrangeOne and @ebnash.

Fixing a loose stem
Even if you're careful to never remove the stem from a hot pipe, you may occasionally be faced with a loose stem. Often this problem will fix itself with time, but if the stem is so loose that it is in danger of falling out, then something must be done. The safest bet is to take the pipe to a tobacconist or send it to a repairperson. These people will have a great deal of practice performing this task, and they will do it for a very modest fee. It is remarkably easy for an amateur to crack a shank while attempting this repair, as many of us can sadly attest.

Nevertheless, if you are determined to do this yourself, you must first determine what sort of stem you have. If the stem is lucite, the easiest fix is to apply a very thin layer of clear nail polish to the tenon, allow this to dry *completely*, and then carefully sand the tenon to fit. A vulcanite stem, on the other hand, is a bit more complicated, as you will need to heat the tenon and expand it in some way. There are a number of variations to this procedure, but the most common one is described below.

First, remove the stem from the pipe and insert a pipe cleaner into the stem so that it just reaches the end of the tenon (this is to ensure that you don't collapse the air hole). Next, carefully heat the tenon over a match for about five seconds (the intent is to soften the vulcanite, not melt it). Then gently press the end of the tenon against a flat surface, keeping the tenon as perpendicular to the surface as possible, taking care not bend the tenon to one side or the other. After the stem has cooled, test fit it. If the stem is still too loose, repeat this procedure. If it is now too tight, then see "What should I do with a stem that's too tight?" below. NOTE: It is *very* easy to ruin a perfectly good pipe with this technique, and I feel I should reiterate my earlier statement that this job is best undertaken by a "professional."

A variation on the above that has less chance of bending or ruining the tenon is the following: Insert a tapered mandrel into the tenon. Apply heat to the mandrel (an alcohol flame is recommended). As the heat from the mandrel transfers to the tenon and softens it, move the mandrel further into the tenon. Repeat as necessary to get the desired expansion. Remove the mandrel and place tenon in cold water to set. Note that PIMOmakes a 'Stem Tightening Kit' that uses this principle.

A less radical (and *much* safer) procedure that has been recommended to me by several people is to simply rub the stem's tenon against a block of beeswax until the tenon is well coated. Once this is complete, reinsert the stem. I am told that the joint will tighten after a smoke or two.

Another less radical approach to try if the beeswax method doesn't work, is to simply heat the tenon and then allow it to cool. Very often the tenon will have expanded just enough to make a decent fit. Rather than an open flame, I suggest carefully using a heat gun, or a handheld hairdryer on high heat aimed at the tenon.
Duct tape..

Seriously I've done all of the above.. The easiest is the beeswax, second easiest is super glue/ nail polish then sand it.. If you don't know what you're doing DO NOT heat any part of the tenon-stem. Alot can go wrong and it's a pita to fix.

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post #7 of 8 Old 02-14-2018, 06:51 PM
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Nothing teaches you better than making mistakes...first time I took the stem out from a hot pipe I knew I did something stupid and have never done it again.....that mistake has paid dividends about never doing it again. Same thing goes for lighting cigars...tired of them tasting like a briquette????...... then light them with some patience and quit whining how they taste like lighter fluid or scorched tobacco. 1minute of lighting your cigar is too much after you've paid $10 or more for it....but you want to use a road flare to get it going ASAP....what am I missing here?......My mind feels constipated today....don't judge me. 😕
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post #8 of 8 Old 02-14-2018, 10:33 PM
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Beewaxs works for me. But Iíve also hard fingernail polish with sanding works too.


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