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Rubber Bit Protectors

This is probably a dumb question, but here goes anyway. Is there a method that can be used to secure rubber bit protectors to small width pipe bits?


  • motie2motie2 Master
    edited January 5
    Someone here uses plastic shrink wrap, heat activated, sold at Home Depot type store. Someone will jump in with details......
  • @motie2
    That would probably be me. I’ve found some stems to be too thin for the soft bits so I looked at alternatives. Some people use electrical tape, but I didn’t like the taste or leavings adhesive in the stem. I bought a pack of assorted shrinkwrap tubing at Lowe’s. It comes in assorted diameter. I found a diameter that I could stretch out and pull over the bit.  It’s tight enough where you don’t have to heat it to keep from slipping and easily removed with an Exacto blade. It’s not nearly as thick as the rubber bits but still gives you a little cushioning. 
  • @motie2 & @ Pappyjoe;
    Thanks, I'll look into finding some. I wonder if you could use both the shrink wrap with the rubber protector over the wrap? I knew I would find an answer from the resident pipe gurus.
  • motie2motie2 Master
    And, as I've mentioned elsewhere, I cannot use the Softee rubber bits, even though I want to, because they make me drool..... not a good look.

    BTW, these rubber bits, many from our "friends" in China, come in varying qualities. Avoid the really cheap ones, which are of questionable quality.
  • @motie2
    "Made in China" is not how I prefer to spend my money, but its the only game in town for a lot of products. I had to swallow hard, and it took months to get. I won't be buying anymore.
  • motie2motie2 Master
    @opipeman here are ones made in USA

  • @motie2
    Thanks. I've never seen these before.
  • For the most part, softy bits make me gag. I have a terrible gag reflex anyway and there is something about having a thicker mouthpiece that brings on the gagging reflex. There are only two pipes in my collection that have a softy bit ... and only because I was noticing a bit of tooth chatter on the bit and didn't want to make matters worse. 
    I'm like a big baby when I go to the Dentist. It's not the pain of getting a shot of Novacane, hitting a nerve, or even having a tooth yanked out ... but I just can't tolerate that ribber putty they stick in your mouth and make you bite down on when making a mold. 
  • @ghostsofpompeii
    This is what I'm talking about with the shrink wrap tubing. I only use it on my vulcanite stems and it's actually almost paper thin compared to the thickness of the softy bits. Just be sure to by the black. You should measure the width of your bit and buy the tubing that is close to it. I found you can cut the length you want and it can actually be stretched a little to fit over a stem. I also wash mine in warm water before applying. I don't heat the tubing to shrink it either, that makes it harder to get off later.

    It comes in different colors also. I buy the black.


  • I have been using these for 37 years, can’t smoke a pipe without them.
  • @pipeman83
    Over the last few months, I've become that way myself. My original motivation was to avoid the expense of having to replace stems.
  • @opipeman, yes, you don’t get bite marks on your stems and when they wear out I just replace them, you can buy them in bulk from EA Carey, they come 50 in a tube, I think it was around $15 for the tube.

  • motie2motie2 Master
    But once again, don't buy the Chinese made ones of questionable provenance. 
  • motie2motie2 Master
    edited June 2020
    This may not be the right folder, but here’s an excellent article from www.pipestud.com

    << Today's Pipe Smoking Tip: A lot of pipe smokers (myself included), have a hard time telling the difference between a shiny black vulcanite stem and a shiny black acrylic stem. But did you know that it is actually very easy to tell the difference? There are, in fact, two sure fire ways to do it, even if both stems look shiny black. Take a bright penlight and put it right up to the acrylic stem. You will note that as you run the penlight up and down the length of the stem, the color is a uniform slate gray. Now, do the same thing with a vulcanite stem. You will immediately note that the color of the vulcanite stem looks brownish under the bright light. And, depending on the sulfur content, the color may vary a little as you move the light up and down the stem. Another easy way to tell the difference between vulcanite and acrylic stems is what I call, “the smell test.” First, grip the vulcanite stem firmly in one hand and then place the thumb on your other hand firmly down on the top of the stem and rub back and forth vigorously for about ten seconds. Then, put the rubbed part of the stem up to your nose and take a whiff. You will immediately note a burnt rubber smell. When you do the same thing with an acrylic stem, there will be no smell at all. >>

    I hope that by including the URL I avoid copyright issues.
  • As years go by and my collection grew I came to hate the vulcanite stems. More work trying to keep that yellowish staining at the tip of the mouth piece after each smoke; fading if the pipes are stored near a window where the morning sun shines through; the occasional off putting taste; and that rubber smell when giving the stem a deep cleaning. I'm constantly applying commercial stem oil (or olive oil) to maintain any sheen, and keep the black stem from taking on that chalky white hue.The only good thing about a vulcanized stem is if your stem becomes loose you can apply a little heat to the tenon, push down slightly to spread it out a bit, and then push it back into the pipe to form a tighter seal. You can't do that with an acrylic stem. But come to think of it ... I don't think I've personally had that problem with a pipe with an acrylic stem.
  • @ghostsofpompeii
    Per the advise I received from several of our brothers on thispipelife I purchased some Softybits at sofetybits.com. It took a long time to receive them, but they are outstanding. They fit all sizes of pipe bits that I have, and I highly recommend them. They cost a little more, but they are worth every penny.
  • ich4759ich4759 Enthusiast
    I have been using pipe bits and will not go back.  I like the feeling of my pipe being secure in my jaw.
  • Just my opinion, @ghostsofpompeii I share your disgust  with regard to cheap vulcanite, however well crafted ( from Germany ) vulcanite is a whole different thing as it is almost as stable as Lucite (acrylic).
    And I can not speak for anyone else, but for me I like the mouth feel vulcanite.  

  • @ich4759;
    I agree. I have had to have so many bits replaced that I have almost chomped through. One day i realized, I could spend that money on new pipes. I also like the feel and it protects the pipe. Who knows my widow may want to sell them and this will help her get top dollar. She has such a loving and considerate husband.
  • Some while back, there was a guy selling "a pound of pipe stems" for $32 on eB. Yup, I went ahead and bought one of them. The listing said that there would be approximately 50 stems in the bag, but I was bored and actually counted all 95 of them after they arrived. Lots of sizes and shapes and styles and lengths, but not a single one with an approx. 12mm tenon -- for which I have 3 old bowls awaiting new stems.
    So, I guess I'm pretty well fixed for re-stemming old cheap pipes well enough to at least smoke them, for some time to come. And, all vulcanite, too.
  • motie2motie2 Master
    edited November 2020
    In any event, only buy American made rubber bits.....BJLong or Softy Pipe bits are best. You can buy either of them anywhere.... eBay, P&C, Amazon, wherever.... Chinese ones are of questionable purity.

  • @motie2;
    Amen!!! I refuse to knowingly buy anything from China!
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