Step 2: Determine what needs to be done.

Picture of Determine what needs to be done.
If you bought your pipe from ebay and the description was good you should already know.  But we will determine this now regardless.

 -Take a look at the rim.  Does it have 'cake' on it? Well if it does (like mine here) it will need to be removed.  If it's slightly charred there's only slightly destructive things that can be done to remove it but that's beyond the scope of this instructable.  
 -Look at the stem.  Is it oxidized?  Is there a lot of 'tooth chatter' around the bit?  There are several materials that a stem can be made out of and the type we'll be dealing with here is Vulcanite.  Eseentially hardened rubber.  This material will oxidize over time as the sulfur used in the hardening rises to the surface.  Lucite, and acrylic stems do not oxidize and are much easier to deal with.
-Can you remove the stem?  Gently twist the stem and try and remove it.   Don't twist or pull too hard as it's possible to crack/break the shank (the wood the stem fits in to) or break the tenon (the part that fits in to the shank) off which would be no good.

I couldn't take the stem out when I got this pipe so I put it in the freezer for a few minutes and the cooling allowed me to twist and remove the stem.

And now that we know what we need to do let's move on!

Joel40197 months ago

A very thin coat of Clear Fingernail Polish works well if it needs more help.

tevans19473 years ago
Ive got a question about stems. I bought a Dunhill on Ebay but the stem doesn't have the dot so it's obviously a replacement and the bite is too thick for my taste. Any idea of what type stem - Vulcanite or Lucite - would have the thinner bite or where I might find such a stem? THX.,
Formatt (author)  tevans19473 years ago
Congrats on the acquisition! By bite I presume you mean the thickness of the stem and this isn't a materials problem but simply how the stem was shaped. You can buy a replacement stem in the material of your choosing from places like PIMO Pipecraft but it will be no small feat to fit it to your pipe. There are no off the shelf replacements for these unfortunately. The best solution to your problem that I can think of is to contact a professional repair person to have one made for you. Pipedia.org has a section on "Care/Cleaning/Repairs" and in that section they list some repair places if that's what you need. The repair person you choose may even throw in a basic restoration.

Before I did that I would just get out a needle file and try to thin it to my liking. After all if you're thinking of sending it out anyway what have you got to lose?

Hope I helped a bit!
jaysin3 years ago
i have a question i bought a really nice and would be expencive pipe at a auction
someone reamed it wrong the top of the bowl is bigger then the botom and advice how to correct this
gundom25014 years ago
Since you seem to have done this a bit, perhaps you can help me out. I have a pipe that was given to me by a friend, and the pipe belonged to his grandfather. However, the stem is extremely loose. Do you have any tips for dealing with that?
Formatt (author)  gundom25014 years ago
Well most times that problem can solve itself after a varying number of smokes as the briar absorbs moisture. Rubbing beeswax on the tenon can also be a quick fix. But if it will fall apart if you hold it bowl down by the stem more drastic measures may be needed. Sending your pipe to a professional is one option, giving the tenon a quick dip in boiling water is another, or investing in a "stem tightener kit" from PIMO pipecraft.


That's about all that comes off the top of my head. Hope it helps!
Thanks for the tips!