Friday, January 15, 2010

In case you missed it ...

The discussion of pipe cleaning techniques planned for last night's meeting of The Ozark Pipe Smokers was better than expected, thanks to Vice President Jeff, who prepared a demonstration.

All eyes lit up when Jeff pulled out a (sadly deplenished) bottle of Everclear, but it was not, I repeat, NOT passed around the room for everyone to have a taste. Maybe next time.
The Everclear, which we learned was available in Washington County liquor stores and the Jane, Mo., Walmart, is the basis for the cleaning process. Jeff recommended the use of pipe cleaners, starting with bristled cleaners or bristle brushes, dipped in Everclear and run through the stem. He said he inserts from the tenon at first, because it is easier to get the cleaner back out if the draft hole is too tight.
That process continues in the shank, with a special emphasis on the mortis, where the bowl and the stem meet, which can accumulate large amounts of gunk, especially if the fit between the two pieces isn't exact.
Before adding anything to the bowl, Jeff plugs the shank with an ear plug, the kind at Walgreen's with a string attached. Actually, he said, he also used the string to set the pipe on, helping it stay upright.
Jeff recommended filling the pipe about one-third with Everclear (using an eyedropper to avoid getting alcohol on the outside of the bowl) and then adding sea salt, alternating as needed, until the pipe is full of both. He said he leaves the pipes with the salt/alcohol mixture sitting for at least 24 hours, at which point, he'll scoop out the salt. On rare occasion, he's needed a second treatment, but generally at this point, he is ready to wipe out the bowl with an alcohol-dampened paper towel. He leaves the bowl and stem separated for another 24 hours while they dry.
To polish the outside of the bowl, Jeff recommended Murphy's oil soap, mixed 50/50 with water. It should be applied gently, Jeff said, because it can remove some of the stain. He preferred Halcyon II wax over Paragon or carnauba for the final polish. For lighter jobs, he said he used the Stanwell polishing cloth.
For vulcanite stems, even or especially for heavily oxidized stems, Jeff uses Flitz Metal Cleaner. The blue solution can be worked into the stem, he said, and then the effects continue as it is buffed with a dry portion of terrycloth. Without using much pressure, Jeff returned an oxidized stem to a like-new shine. He said it could take 30 minutes for some stems. He said he has not seen it remove an emblem.
"If you've got faint scratches, it'll take most of your scratch marks off," Jeff said. It does not, however, remove bite marks. He also said it works as a polish and can prevent future oxidation.
For metal bands, he recommended a Sunshine Polishing Cloth after the wood and stem had been taped over using blue painters tape.
During next month's meeting, on Feb. 12, we have chosen to discuss cellaring methods. Bring your stories and suggestions and questions and, if you want to share, your aged tobacco.

1 comment:

  1. Great write up Tom. Sorry I missed the meeting.

    I wanted to add, the reason an eye dropper is used to add Everclear to the bowl is obviously to keep it from spilling out over the top of the boawl. Also, the cleaning solution(in this instance Everclear) will fade and ever remove the finish on a pipe. I learned this the hard way. Be very careful when adding solution tot he boarl or you might end up having the stain taken off the outer bowl of your pipe.