Topic: Questions about Spiral Arts Blowpipes.


What could be causing scaling in my blow pipe?

Answer:I have a baroscope, which is like a little microscope you can look inside pipes with and it will look down, you can look all the way inside the pipe and look in there, so we can see inside and examine the inside of the pipes and actually what may have happened. On one instance we received a pipe where the head had been ground down. My hunch is that it got dust from the grinding of the pipe in the pipe and thats probably where the scale came from. Grinding dust will collect when it heats up. The area in a steel pipe that typically will scale is just above the head where the weld is, thats the area in a steel pipe that typically will scale.


What's a pipe cooler?

Answer: A pipe cooler is something people use to cool their pipes, after a gather, or after they have actually been working on it a while they will lay their pipe in a pipe cooler and cool down the body of the pipe. I think people will tend to start in the middle and then go towards to the end of the pipe, go towards the head. Obviously, well what happens is cooling the steel when you are using a pipe cooler, it can cause your pipe if there is scale on it, it flakes off when you cool it right up to the joint. So, of course we recommend it, that if you are using a pipe cooler to cool it as shallowly as possible and only where you are going to be gripping not all the way up to the head. If you are, you know people will sometimes cool their pipes all the way up to the neck where the welds at and of course when they do that any scale that is in the pipe will flake off at that time. Scale is sort of like, it is sort of like glass in that sense because it, it has a different expansion than the steel and it will snap off and flake off when you get it, when you cool it from a hot temperature. You never want to go up to the weld, to your weld joint there to cool a pipe because thats kind of the weakest link of the pipe if there is one. At least you dont want to do that while you are blowing. If that happens before you are blowing it can be, it is one of the ways you can use to break scale lose. But you have to sort of be aware of what you are doing. If you heat your pipe up and quench it and then turn it upside down and tap it over a piece of white paper and scale falls out, that is one way of knowing, that is one way of getting scale out of the pipe, or you can loosen scale that is in a pipe. Now for getting scale out if you want to remove the scale that is in there, there is a variety of different possible techniques. One of course is pinging the pipe.


How do you clean your blowpipe?

Answer: Generally, well to add about the scale issue, once you have overheated a pipe once I am not saying that you, that everybody does this, I, steel scales that is physics of metal, if you overheat it, I dont know what to call overheating but if it gets going it gets mill scale or fire scale. And once you get that it doesnt go away until you remove it and if you do not clean it out, itll, every time you use the pipe you are going to get a little bit more even if you dont overheat the pipe again. And I use a round piece of metal to ping the pipe right above the weld to knock the scale out and then I use compress air to blast it out and the reason I use a round piece of metal is so that we have minimal contact with the surface you dont want to use a flat bar or a hammer because you are going to dent your pipe up pretty bad. And I hit it many times, you know hundreds of times repeatedly short sharp blows and then blow air through it, check it again, check it again, and until it doesnt come out any more. Then you should be good to go but for, like I said if you overheat it once, you are going to have scale forever unless you intentionally clean it out. You can also and usually if you turn it and shake the scale out via the mouthpiece it will come out easier because it doesnt have a ridge to go over the step before the head is attached to the body. And if you dont have to quench your pipes, dont quench them, and also when you do have a quench bucket, make sure that the water level in that quench bucket is no more than a few like 4 inches deep, dont go up over the well in your quench bucket, and if you dont have to then dont do it. Because its that expansion and contraction that is going to make the scale pop off if its there. There is also the possibility if youve got a pipe that is scaling or has just begun to scale, and it is a new pipe, there is a possibility that there was something wrong with the pipe in the manufacturing of it, that we did something wrong. It could have been burned during the welding process, those type of things can happen. , If there is a problem we will take care of it and we will stand behind it. We don't want to have that product out there, we will refund someone's money or replace the pipe , whatever they prefer.


Usually I get almost a year out of a pipe, what do production studios get?

Answer: For example, the Chihuly Boathouse uses some of our pipes, the stainless bodied ones and they literally abuse their pipes and their pipes have lasted since they bought a batch of about I think it was about 2 dozen from us and they have lasted over 2 years now without any problems.


When talking about scaling coming from the pipes , lets say chunks versus dust, in terms of mesh can you relate it to sand or anything like that?

Answer: Stainless steel when it scales, for example if you got a stainless body pipe the scale is not flakey, it is powder and with a steel body pipe, the flakes will be chunkier and more apparently flakes, it is really possible to get contaminants of grinding dust because we have to clean our pipes out before we weld them together because if you dont the dust that is in there, the metal dust will clump together and come out and appear to be scale. Stainless steel is really dusty and fine when it scales and steel will give you varying degrees of scale from dust to significantly large flakes, I mean you can get flakes that are like an eighth of an inch across if youve got a really overheated pipe and it has been very hot and then plunged into water, its, it varies, usually if youve got a stainless steel pipe that scaling, you might not even know it because the dust is so fine, but like you say for instance if you are doing a, the inside of the piece, your first overlay is a white one its really going to show up,and that would be the trick to really see if its scaling with a stainless steel pipe. Weve always found it really easy to get scale out of a pipe by just tapping the joint and holding it over a piece of paper and if you see scale in that situation that seems to be the most sensitive situation, I mean the pipe will definitely spit out any scale or it will begin to spit scale out.


What do you suggest that people do for regular maintainence on their pipes?

Answer: Id like to suggest that people do regular maintenance on their pies and do take a round piece of metal and tape it around the joint periodically and shake it up because I am not saying that its, its anyones fault, ours in manufacturing or our choice of materials or theirs in how they use their pipes but the basic fact over all is it is the physics of metal and you get metal hot and it scales. I dont care what it is, you get it hot enough it is going to scale. So and for example these stainless steels that we are using for pipes for even the hedge for example, have only existed for the past 50 years. So they make, you know a few thousand years before that it was all steel, they didnt have the stainless that we have now, those all came about during the war and stainless was created for the orange juice industry and people used to have to take and maintain their pipes this way. Its kind of vice versa, you know its a you are working from a steel or a metal workers point of view, there is a lot of things I dont understand about glass and from a glassblowers point of view I can understand there is a lot of things that they dont understand the physics of metal, but I think that if people can just tap their pipes around the joints and just check them out periodically, just a check up, even if they are not getting scaled, just do it as a check up, see whats going on so its clean and you dont get into a problem. There are some people that clean their pipes everytime after they use them. Its like changing the oil and taking care of it and keeping maintenance up to date.Its just really critical especially if you are heading into a piece that you are going to put 4 or 5 hours worth of work out on the bench, you know one little piece of scale could ruin that whole thing. You want to make sure that you are not going to have scale on that pipe before you put it on the bench. And if its the steel body pipe then you know it is a few years old, you absolutely need to check it in those kind, in that kind of a situation before it goes to the bench to make sure you are not about to expose your piece of scale.


I am wondering is the pipes or the steel in the punties is that the same type of steel? Also, as a side note on what was being said, I clean my pipes with a brass gun cleaning brush and that seems to work good for me but anyway I was wondering about if the punties are the same type of steel as the pipes?

Answer: The heads on our large punties that have stainless heads, those are the same type of stainless steel, the steel bodies are the same as the where ever we are selling a punty with a steel body punty it would be the same type of steel that we use in our pipes, the head is the same 310 stainless steel head and for some of our small diameter punties, like 10 milimeter punty or there is a variety of our small punties that are solid steel and those punties scale very quickly and they degrade very quickly but thats from what weve always heard from people, thats really kind of what they want, they dont want the stainless tip, they like the tips that wear down a little bit, but we do also make them on request, we will make a tip stainless, if you want a stainless tip on what would otherwise be a regular mild steel tip punty.


What is your recommendation for straightening the punty or pipe or any piece of equipment?

Answer: Okay, never straighten it hot. Never ever, ever, ever. Never whack your pipe against anything hard, the way to straighten the pipe is to first, it would be nice, you can do it on a bench but the rails are a little bit too tight to reach end to end, but roll it on the bench, find the high spot and I intend to mark it with a sharpee, you can do this visually, it takes a little bit more time, if you dont have any gauges or a bench to do it on. But roll it find the high spot, mark it and straighten it with your hands. Straighten the body with your hand, keep rolling it until it looks right then address the issue of the head and support the head at the weld and, roll it, find the high spot, mark it with a sharpee and use a soft faced hammer, never anything hard and I wouldnt recommend rubber, like a dead blow with a plastic head. Find that high spot and start off gentle and give it a whack, roll it and keep checking until you get it where you are going and its crucial that you mark it with a pen, because if you go over straighten it, itll you know bend the opposite way and you might keep bending the head back and forth and not realize that you are doing that. It takes a little bit of patience and time but its worth it in the long run as opposed to knocking your pipe on the edge of a bench because generally what people try to do that, you know they see the high spot and they think that its going to flop into a straight position when they hit it. Generally they miss and hit the pipe in the body rather than on the weld and it doesnt straighten the head and it bends the body or anything or you can end up with a Z shaped bend on the end. And then the pipe is pretty much done for, its all over, its out of round and its got two bends and its very difficult to fix. Thats when you get those sort of square shape body to it. Never ever straighten it hot and never whack it against anything, you can hit it with a hammer, you can push it with your body, thats fine but never hot and never swing your pipe against anything.

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