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 Stem cleaning

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Idlefellow

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Location : The Kansas Prairie
Registration date : 2009-02-24

PostSubject: Stem cleaning   Mon Jan 24, 2011 3:05 pm

Short of a buffing wheel and tripoli or rouge, is there anything that really works for cleaning the oxidation from pipe stems? I've got some that are pretty bad, some not so much. I've tried the Mister Clean magic eraser, which sort of worked. I've tried toothpaste, which doesn't. I've even gone after really bad ones with 0000 steel wool, but then you have to figure out a way to polish them. So tell me, brothers: is there anything easier that actually works? Thanks...
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MisterE
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Location : Mexico City
Registration date : 2009-08-24

PostSubject: Re: Stem cleaning   Mon Jan 24, 2011 3:17 pm

Try some fine sandpaper 300-600. Toothpaste is only good as a finisher after the majority of the gunk is gone, but it works. A good buffing wheel is ideal but most of us dont have one around..

The bleach treatment can also help get off the the really cruddy stuff- just be sure to have the tenon protected with vaseline so you dont eat it away. There are several step-by-step videos about this on youtube...

Piet walked me through the process and its not as hard as youd imagine...

Once its clean, wipe it with a little nose wax (yes the oil from around your nose!) to polish it up and give it luster. Thes will protect it from oxidation in the future as well...
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Thomas Tkach

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Age : 31
Location : North Dakota
Registration date : 2010-11-24

PostSubject: Re: Stem cleaning   Mon Jan 24, 2011 6:55 pm

Even if you sand up to 800, it still won't shine. If you don't mind the matte finish, maybe go that route, but I always have to hit the buffer to get things to look good--that is after bleach and sandpaper. Maybe sanding up to 1500 or so would make up for not buffing, but I'll keep using my buffer.
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KevinP

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Registration date : 2011-01-18

PostSubject: Re: Stem cleaning   Mon Jan 24, 2011 7:31 pm

You don't need to buy a whole big buffing machine. Some hand-held drills or even good quality electric screwdrivers can take one-inch buffing wheels. Because they are smaller they need, I believe, to run at higher speeds which some models might not be capable of, though even these will do a not-bad job.
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Tommy

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Location : Central Oklahoma
Registration date : 2010-12-30

PostSubject: Re: Stem cleaning   Mon Jan 24, 2011 8:00 pm

I am not a chemist, but from what I've learned and I have no doubt is true, the "oxidation" is not oxidation, it's the sulfur leaching out of the vulcanized rubber. Sulfur is used in the vulcanization process and as the chemical bonds weaken over a period of time the sulfur is released causing the yellow color. (I know it looks green).
Sodium Hypochlorite (Clorox) actually turns the sulfur black.

If soaked in bleach (Clorox) emblems will deteriorate and aluminum stingers will dissolve, and therefore must be protected with a coating of Vaseline along with the tenon. This soaking will roughen up the surface of the stem, requiring you to smooth it back down.

I soak stems in bleach for no more than one hour and then use 800, 1000, 1200, and 1500 grit wet-dry sand paper. Finishing them off on a buffing wheel. You might...with a lot of elbow grease, after sanding, hand buff the stem with jewelers rouge and a cotton rag.
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Thomas Tkach

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Age : 31
Location : North Dakota
Registration date : 2010-11-24

PostSubject: Re: Stem cleaning   Mon Jan 24, 2011 10:40 pm

From what I've read, tripoli compound is comparable to about 800 or 1000 grit sandpaper, so sanding farther than that and then going to tripoli would be counter-productive. I believe the numbers are different for micromesh and regular sandpaper, though.
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Idlefellow

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Location : The Kansas Prairie
Registration date : 2009-02-24

PostSubject: Re: Stem cleaning   Tue Jan 25, 2011 12:37 pm

So...no? I guess I'll have to finally get around to putting the buffing wheel I bought onto my bench grinder Wink .
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Frost

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Age : 39
Location : Somewhere near Philly, PA
Registration date : 2009-12-31

PostSubject: Re: Stem cleaning   Tue Jan 25, 2011 9:38 pm

I usually just hit 'em with the magic eraser and then use one of the stanwell pipe wipe cloths to get the shine back. Seems to work ok, but I haven't tried it on anything that was seriously oxidized or sulpherized or whateveryawannacallit.
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GCook

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Age : 63
Location : Sunset coast of Michigan
Registration date : 2011-01-03

PostSubject: Re: Stem cleaning   Thu Jan 27, 2011 7:24 am

I use 3 products (mostly related). The cheapest is generic rubbing compound, found near the car polishes in stores. Two good products made in Germany: Flitz, also used as a silver polish and priced accordingly, and Simichrome polish, my go-to for regular maintenance, which is toothpaste-like. It is astounding how much yellow-brown comes off a really oxidized stem. I start with the rubbing compound because it's cheap and cuts through the crap and finish with the latter. Pipe shops also sell products similar to the above in tiny bottles for high prices, one of which is packaged by Brebbia.
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innovador

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Location : Ecuador
Registration date : 2011-01-21

PostSubject: Re: Stem cleaning   Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:30 pm

I have done what Tommy suggests and it have worked for me.

MisterE, toothpaste uh? Great idea. I would try that next time.
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Idlefellow

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Location : The Kansas Prairie
Registration date : 2009-02-24

PostSubject: Re: Stem cleaning   Mon Jan 31, 2011 10:19 pm

An epiphany! Bet a cloth wheel on my Dremel will do the job, plus I get to do it in the comfort of my study, not standing in the garage (supposed to have -0 wind chills tomorrow). Off to Home Depot (they got Dremel stuff). Woo Hoo!
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Bahnzo

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Location : Colorado
Registration date : 2011-01-27

PostSubject: Re: Stem cleaning   Mon Jan 31, 2011 11:08 pm

Idlefellow wrote:
An epiphany! Bet a cloth wheel on my Dremel will do the job, plus I get to do it in the comfort of my study, not standing in the garage (supposed to have -0 wind chills tomorrow). Off to Home Depot (they got Dremel stuff). Woo Hoo!

Please let me/us know how this works. I had the same idea a few days ago; just not your gumption to get off my butt and try it. Seems like it should work however.
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LL

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Location : KCMO
Registration date : 2007-12-29

PostSubject: Re: Stem cleaning   Tue Feb 01, 2011 1:11 am

Idlefellow wrote:
An epiphany! Bet a cloth wheel on my Dremel will do the job, plus I get to do it in the comfort of my study, not standing in the garage (supposed to have -0 wind chills tomorrow). Off to Home Depot (they got Dremel stuff). Woo Hoo!

It's an often-thought-of solution that does not work. You'll scallop and burn the stem no matter how careful you are.

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Smokntaz

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Age : 50
Location : GVRD, British Columbia
Registration date : 2010-09-29

PostSubject: Re: Stem cleaning   Tue Feb 01, 2011 5:53 pm

LL wrote:
Idlefellow wrote:
An epiphany! Bet a cloth wheel on my Dremel will do the job, plus I get to do it in the comfort of my study, not standing in the garage (supposed to have -0 wind chills tomorrow). Off to Home Depot (they got Dremel stuff). Woo Hoo!

It's an often-thought-of solution that does not work. You'll scallop and burn the stem no matter how careful you are.

Yes, I have fallen victim to this. I'm just glad it was a cheapo estate pipe!
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Bahnzo

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Location : Colorado
Registration date : 2011-01-27

PostSubject: Re: Stem cleaning   Tue Feb 01, 2011 5:59 pm

LL wrote:
Idlefellow wrote:
An epiphany! Bet a cloth wheel on my Dremel will do the job, plus I get to do it in the comfort of my study, not standing in the garage (supposed to have -0 wind chills tomorrow). Off to Home Depot (they got Dremel stuff). Woo Hoo!

It's an often-thought-of solution that does not work. You'll scallop and burn the stem no matter how careful you are.


Is this because the Dremel has a very high RPM?
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Thomas Tkach

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Age : 31
Location : North Dakota
Registration date : 2010-11-24

PostSubject: Re: Stem cleaning   Tue Feb 01, 2011 7:47 pm

I have used a dremel on all my refurbs, but one with an adjustable speed (set on low) and a cloth wheel no bigger than 2". I haven't burnt or scalloped anything, though I am not completely satisfied with my results. A real buffer is obviously ideal, and when space and money allow I will get one (or hopefully a lathe, so I can make pipes).
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