NOTE: 3 additional photos of this check-valve are available. Click here for information.
 These are far better 
than leather, do not restrict the airflow like commercially made 
valves, cost nearly nothing to make & last forever. The one on my 
Hardie pipes has been there for about 15 years & has worked 100% 
perfectly, with zero maintenance required.

This valve consists of three parts:
 - The flapper part, much like a conventional leather valve, but 
   made of rolled-out silicone rubber sealant.
 - A projecting strip of tin secured in place underneath the hemp 
   of the blow-pipe end which enables the silicone flapper to be 
   mounted in an "inverted" manner.
-  Several feet of waxed dental floss. 



Click here for an illustration of this process.

- Lay a foot square piece of waxed-paper out on a flat surface. - Cut two 8" long by 1/2" wide strips of cardboard. I find that the cardboard backing up a pad of legal paper is just the right thickness. Lay one strip vertically along on the left edge of the waxed-paper & then lay the other strip similarily along the right edge. These strips act as spacers to ensure that the finished silicone rubber valve is of the uniform and proper thickness. You may want to alter the thickness of these spacers if you like a thinner or thicker valve. - Deposit a 1" diameter (or so) glob of silicone rubber sealant (I prefer the clear variety) in the center of the waxed paper. The best type of sealer to use is the that which smells of vinegar. Make sure the brand you use has no fungicides or other such high poisons. - Apply a second foot square piece of waxed-paper on top of everything, then take a baking-type rolling-pin and slowly roll it along the two spacer strips to flatten out the glob of silicone rubber. Let cure at least 24 hours. This makes a uniformly thick sheet of "rubber" from which the flapper valve, described below, is cut. Incidentally, this method produces excellent gaskets for a variety of other purposes. MUCH enlarged view of silicone rubber flapper valve: --- / \ <- This is supposed to / \ be round & made about / \ 1/8' smaller in / diameter than that ,--------------' | of the blow-pipe's | tail | plug-in end part. '---------------, , \ / Make the tail about 3/32" \ / wide and 3/8 to 1/2" long. \ / This tail is used to mount the \ ___ / flapper to the blow-pipe.

Click here for another view of this.

You will note that the shape of the silicone rubber flapper is very much like that of a conventional leather flapper. The main difference in the way the two work is that this rubber version's tail sticks "up" instead of "down". This is accomplished by the use of a projecting strip of tin. ------------------------------------------------------------------- HOW TO MAKE & INSTALL THE TIN STRIP This strip measures 3/32" wide by 3/4" to an inch long. I cut mine from old "Altoid" ("Curiously Strong") mint tin box (sold at any K-mart for a buck and a half, or at artsy-fartsy yuppie stores for $5).In any event it need be only thick enough to support the tail of the flapper part without bending. This strip is secured to the plug-in end of the blow-pipe by removing the blow-pipe's hemp & then laying the bottom half of the strip into the "groove" or "flattening" that is normally present underneath the hemp (it's purpose is to receive the tail of the normal leather flapper valve) (by the way, this valve will work even if there is not any such flattening) then carefully re-wind a good layer of waxed dental floss to a) make a snug fit for the blowpipe into it's stock b) fasten the tin strip securely under the floss windings. I much prefer dental floss here as it does not swell nearly as much as the traditional hemp, given all the nearly constant moisture at this point of a bagpipe. The "Hs" rep- resent the tin / H strip which | Ho <-- this is the tail, which is tied on is secured in | Ho place under- | Ho These "o"s represent the silicone rubber neath the | Ho flapper valve (Note tail bent UP 90 deg.)* dental floss | Ho windings that / Hooooooooooooooooooooooo also serve to \ H|~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~| \ ensure that | H|----------------------| | the blowpipe | H|----------------------| | Dental floss plugs into | H|----------------------| \ windings that it's stock | H|----------------------| / secure the tin snugly \ H|----------------------| | strip & make for |----------------------| | a tight blow-pipe/ |----------------------| / stock fit ~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~ | | | |<- BLOWPIPE | | * Tie the tail onto the projecting part of the tin strip with waxed dental floss. Use several inches of floss to ensure that the wrapped/tied area encompasses the whole length of the projecting part of the tin strip. Before positioning and tying, make sure the round part of the flapper seats/seals nicely over the hole in the end of the blow-pipe.

Click here for another illustration of this mounting method.

NOTES ON INSTALLING THE FLAPPER PART While the flapper part is shaped just like the conventional leather flapper, it achieves much of it's effectiveness by being mounted in an "upside down" fashion (the tail points upwards instead of downwards & gets tied with waxed dental floss to the projecting part of the tin strip. If you find that the rubber disk does not set concentrically over the blowpipe hole, a twist of the tin strip with a pair of pliers will fix.

Dennis Havlena - W8MI
Straits of Mackinac
northern Michigan

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