Hole in the Wall Gold Mine: Butz-Choquin Cocarde Major Rhodesian


Blog by Dal Stanton

Even though it was a snow trudging kind of day, making it to the ‘Hole in the Wall’ paid off again.  I mentioned this visit before when I was writing up the restoration of the Stanwell Silver Mount.  On this visit, I saw the Stanwell for the first time, but didn’t bite.  The next time I would!  On this visit, I found another very nice example of St. Claude, France’s claim to fame as an historic center of pipe production – rivaling the UK for market share in Europe.  When I saw the Butz-Choquin Cocarde Major in the pipe basket on the cluttered Hole in the Wall shelf, my initial reaction was its size – a hefty guy.  My first assessment was that it was a Bulldog shape, then I noted the large rounded shank – a Rhodesian or a Bullmoose?  This one is going home with me regardless!  I looked in the basket for a good pipe to bundle and I saw an attractive, diminutive, Bent Billiard Sitter with a swan neck stem – unmarked, but a very nice looking pipe.  When I got home I took a quick picture of the bundled pair and put them in the ‘Help Me!’ basket for later attention.butz1 butz2When I take the BC Cocarde Major out of the basket, I am anxious to recommission this nice-looking Rhodesian, I decide.  The first thing I do is pull up Google Translator and insert Cocarde Major in the French to English machine.  I did not study French in school so help is appreciated.  I want to know if special meaning is attached to this St. Claude BC.  Cocarde translated into English as the word, ‘Cockade’ which was defined as, a rosette, roundel or knot of ribbons worn in a hat as a badge of office or party, or as part of a livery. With a little looking on the internet, I found these interesting French examples of Cocardes.butz3With this meaning for ‘Cocarde’ it put doubt in my mind regarding my original thought that ‘Major’ referred to large or big.  Attaching Major to the idea of the French symbol of national pride, it is most likely pointing to a level of rank, or when ‘Major’ is attached to another rank (e.g., sergeant-major) it denotes the ranking of one superior among those of the same rank.  I emailed a colleague living and working in Toulouse, France, whose command of the language could help.  His comments confirmed what I was thinking:

The word cockade refers to a national symbole for the French, like “cocarde tricolore’ refers to the French flag which is, of course, one of the most important symbols of the French people and national pride.  It has many meanings, but for example official cars or planes have this symbol on it.  You are right about the word Major, refering to a military grade. Used as an adjectif, “majeur” it means big.   I would conclude that this is simply the name of the pipe.  You can’t translate it literally.  The pipe’s name implies in my opinion that it is a symbol of French pride, like the French insignia for a general in the military.

With the symbols of French pride stamped on this BC Rhodesian, I have a greater appreciation for the pipe when I take more pictures now on my worktable.butz4 butz5 butz6 butz7 butz8The stampings on the left side of the shank are “Butz-Choquin” in an arched script over “Concarde” over “Major”.  On the right side is, “St Claude” arched over “France” over “1028”, the BC shape number.  Per Pipedia’s history of the name, when Jean-Baptiste Choquin of Metz, started out as a tobacconist and the business prospered.  In 1858, one of his employees, one Gustave Butz, fell for his boss’ daughter and they were married.  That same year, Butz and Choquin came together to form the enterprise that is now known as Butz-Choquin, and eventually moved the operation from Metz to St. Claude, known as “the world capital of the briar pipe”.  Looking on the internet, I found another BC shape ‘1028’ but was called a ‘Bourbon Major’.  The shape was that of a Bulldog, with the diamond shank.  I know there is debate regarding the difference between Bulldog and a Rhodesian classification, but I am happy with Bill Burney’s descriptive difference in the Pipedia shapes Chart, that the difference between the two is, the Rhodesian has a round shank and the Bulldog, a diamond.

So, looking more closely at the BC Rhodesian in front of me, I see that the surface is generally in good shape – striking grain patterns.  There are two noticeable fills that need addressing.  There is also a chip over the shank, where the double grooves meet – the grooves forming the border between the upper and lower cones of the Rhodesian stummel.  The chamber has thick carbon cake buildup and needs removal down to the briar for a fresh start.  The stem has very little oxidation and a couple distinct clincher tooth marks on the top bit and chatter above and below.  The stamped ‘BC’ stem marking is in good shape but the white color needs touching up.  The following pictures show the question areas on the stummel – mainly fills and the chip.butz9 butz10Even though the oxidation is minor, I put the stem in an Oxi-Clean bath for a few hours to raise the oxidation to the surface.  I first cover the stem ‘BC’ stamp with petroleum oil.  Turning to the stummel, I take the Pipnet Pipe Reamer kit and use the two smaller blades of the four available and remove the cake using first the smallest, then graduating to the next larger when the blade stops meeting resistance.  This cake is hard and crusty but vacates in short order.  I fine tune the reaming with my Savinelli Pipe Knife.  I’ve grown to like this handy tool.  What The Pipe Smoker blog says about it is spot on:

Basically, a three-sided scraper, it can be placed in the chamber exactly where it needs to be placed and then cake is scraped off with a simple movement of the wrist. It allows full control over where the cake is being reduced. It has a rounded tip, which means that it will not damage the bottom of the bowl. It makes no difference, whether the chamber is straight or conical, I can use the same tool on either. It requires no adjustment. 

After the Savinelli pipe knife scrapes the chamber wall, I wrap 240 grit paper around a Sharpie pen and sand the chamber removing the last vestiges of carbon.  I then wipe the bowl with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  The chamber looks great.  I fold up the paper towel and my work station is clean again.  Pictures show the progress.butz11 butz12 butz13 butz14I then switch to the internals of the stummel and clean the mortise and airhole with pipe cleaners and cotton swabs dipped in isopropyl 95%.  After some extended effort, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs are coming out clean.  Later, I’ll add another measure of cleaning by giving the stummel a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  I like to go the extra mile when I’m preparing a pipe for a new steward.  The picture shows the progress.butz15Turning to the stummel externals, I remove the grime on the surface and clean the rim.  I use undiluted Murphy Oil Soap with cotton pads.  I use a bristle tooth brush as well to clean the double grooves circling the cone.  I also employ a brass brush to clean the lava and grime off the rim.  The pictures show the progress.butz16Time to fish the stem from the Oxi-Clean bath.  It’s amazing that even when the stem looks to have little oxidation, the Oxi-Clean bath raises the oxidation to the surface.  I wet sand with 600 grit paper to remove the bulk of the oxidation from the vulcanite and then follow-up using 0000 steel wool. Throughout this process, I give care to work around the ‘BC’ stem stamping.  Pictures show the progress.butz17With the tooth dents on the upper bit, I attempt to remove by using a lit candle’s heat to raise the indentations by expanding the vulcanite but it wasn’t working well.  So, I apply a small drop of super glue to the spots and then apply an accelerator to cure the glue.  After a few minutes, I use the flat edge needle file to file down the superglue patches to the vulcanite surface.  While I have the file out, I file the button lip, upper and lower, to give them more definition.  I follow with applying 240 grit paper to remove the file marks and to fine tune and blend the superglue patches.  I follow with 600 grit paper and then 0000 steel wool.  The pictures show the progress.butz18 butz19 butz20 butz21I clean and freshen the internals of the stummel further with a Kosher Salt/alcohol soak for several hours.  I set the stummel in a sturdy egg carton and twist a cotton ball and feed it into the mortise, pushing it in with a straight wire.  I then fill the chamber with kosher salt which is not iodized – which can leave a taste.  Then, I fill the chamber with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces above the salt.  The pictures show the process.butz22The next morning, the salt/alcohol soak had run its course and from the darkening of the salt and the cotton wick, the process effectively cleaned and freshened the stummel internals even after the plethora of pipe cleaners and cotton swabs.  I dump the old expended salt and thump the stummel on my palm, then use a paper towel and wipe the bowl.  I use bristle brushes to clean the mortise and again, pipe cleaners through the airway to finish the cleanup.  As billed, the soak works.  Pictures show the soak results.butz23With the internals of the stummel clean, I clean the internals of the stem.  Using pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% I work on the stem.  After I begin, even though the ¼ bent saddle stem is not an extreme bend, I’m surprised that I am not able to move a pipe cleaner through the stem without difficulty.  Finally, I pass a bristled pipe cleaner through and move it back and forth, hoping that it loosens up the passageway. It doesn’t.  I decide to use the technique that Charles Lemon used on Dad’s Pipes (See here: Link) of expanding the airway by heating the stem and moving a pipe cleaner through.  Just to be on the safe side, I draw an outline of the stem’s bend to use as a template for a comparison after I re-bend the pipe back to the original.  I first straighten the stem by warming it with a heat gun until the vulcanite becomes pliable.  After inserting a pipe cleaner through the stem, I then reheat the stem and return the stem to the ¼ bend.  Now, back to the original curve comparing to the template, without difficulty I complete the cleaning of the stem using isopropyl dipped pipe cleaners moving freely through the airway.  I also clean the crud out of the slot with a dental probe.  Pictures show the process.butz24 butz25Before starting the micromesh phase to raise the luster of the BC bent stem, I use Miracle Eraser on the ‘BC’ stem stamp to remove the oxidation without applying an abrasive to the stamp.  It does seem to help.  Then, I wet sand the stem using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, followed by dry sanding with 3200 to 4000, then 6000 to 12000.  I complete each set by applying Obsidian Oil to revitalize the vulcanite.  To watch the stem gradually pop, is an amazing process.  This Butz-Choquin is cleaning up nicely.  I set the stem aside to dry.butz26 butz27Now I return to the stummel and take a close look.  After cleaning with Murphy’s Soap, I detect about 4 or 5 fills on the surface that need addressing. The fills are solid but with some, I’m able to scrape of the upper layer of the fill.  There is also a chip in the double grove going around the stummel.  With the smaller fills, that are not pitted, I use dye sticks, starting with a lighter hue and graduating to a darker hue, until the blend is best.  I then use a lightly dampened cotton pad with isopropyl 95% to dab the areas to blend further with the surrounding briar.  The pictures show the progress.butz28 butz29With those more pitted, I mix a bit of superglue and briar dust to form a putty and apply on the pitted fills.  Carefully, I also paint the groove chip and before the putty start hardening, I clear overflow putty from the grooves with a sharp dental probe.  I use an accelerator to cure the briar dust putty patches more rapidly.   After a short time, I sand each putty fill to bring it to the briar surface.  I first carefully use a flat needle file to work the putty hills down to almost surface level then I use 240 grit paper to sand to the surface level.butz30 butz31 butz32Decision time.  I want to restore this Butz-Choquin as close to the original shade as I can.  I discovered on TobaccoPipes.com a BC in the same shape group as the Cocarde Major – 1028.  In the picture below, the shade of the stummel is light and I think I can achieve this by simply sanding the stummel and restoring the briar to its original natural luster – MINUS what appears to be an acrylic finish below. I can still decide to apply a stain at the end of the sanding process after I have a better idea of the briar as it emerges.  The shape below is a BC Cocarde 1025 – the only difference I detect is the tapered stem versus the saddle stem.butz33First, I want to freshen the rim lines and re-cut an inner bevel which will look better and remove discoloration on the inner rim edge.  The rim has a subtle slant toward the chamber.  I cut the initial bevel using a coarse 120 grip paper rolled tightly.  When I reestablish the bevel, I follow by sanding with 240 grit sanding paper.  I then sand the stummel using a medium grade sanding sponge, followed by a light grade sanding sponge.  I am careful to work around the stampings on the sides of the shank.  Before I move on to the micromesh sanding, I use dye sticks to help blend the fill patch areas that are not yet blending.  After applying the dye stick, I then lightly dab the area with a cotton pad slightly wetted with alcohol.  This helps blend with the surrounding briar.  The pictures show the progress.butz34 butz35 butz36 butz37I follow by using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 and wet sand the stummel.  After this, I dry sand using 3200 to 4000 then finish with pads 6000 to 12000.  I then run a toothpick through both grooves connecting the upper and lower domes of the Rhodesian to remove residue remaining from the sanding process.butz38 butz39To step back and take in the big picture, I reunite stem and stummel and take a picture.  I see two distinct briar dust putty fills that are looking like I should have used a clear superglue fill instead.  They are darker than the surrounding grain environment – not an ideal situation.butz40I decide I can live with the fill on the upper cone, next to the rim.  It is smaller and I hope that it will blend after applying a light brown stain which is looking like will be needed.  With the larger lower fill, I will delicately try reaming the fill with the point of a Dremel tool to remove the putty.  Depending on how that goes, the next step will be to shape the fill somewhat so that the shape is less circular and flows more with the surrounding grain pattern.  Then, I will fill the new hole with clear superglue, sand and again be back to where I am now – hopefully with better blending.  Phase one seems to go well – very carefully.  With the Dremel tool I clean the putty fill and shape the pit circle to flow with the grain.  I then spot-glue and use accelerator to cure the new clear patch.  Looking good so far.   I use a flat needle file to remove the superglue fill mound almost to the briar surface, then I use 240 grit paper rolled, to strategically stay on top of the glue to bring it down to surface.  I follow with 600 grit, then steel wool, then the full array of 9 micromesh pads, 1500 to 12000.  I touch up a bit with a light dye stick and blend with a cotton pad with a bit of alcohol.  I am now back to where I was at the beginning of the detour. The fill is still visible, but doesn’t jump out proclaiming, “Here I am, Boys!”  The pictures show the detoured progress.butz41 butz42 butz43 butz44Now, to promote blending throughout the entire stummel, I use Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye.  I warm the stummel to open the grains to receive the dye.  Using a doubled-over pipe cleaner I liberally apply the dye over the stummel careful to achieve full coverage, rim and grooves.  I then flame the aniline dye with a lit candle and the alcohol immediately burns off, setting the dye in the grain.  To achieve total coverage, I repeat the process above after a few minutes, complete with flaming.  I put the stummel aside to rest and I’ll return to it after work this evening.butz45One last task to do before heading to work.  I want to freshen the ‘BC’ stem marking with white acrylic paint.  I put a small dab of paint over the ‘BC’ and then use a toothpick to spread the paint, making sure the marks are fully covered.  Tonight, after the paint is fully cured, I’ll scrape off the excess leaving a fresh Butz-Choquin stem.butz46Back home and ready to go.  The white acrylic paint has fully cured on the stem marking.  I take a toothpick and gently scrape the excess paint away using the side of the toothpick.  Doing this, the toothpick passes over the top of the stamping leaving the indentations fully renewed.butz47Time to ‘unwrap’ the fire crusted stummel after applying Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye.  Using the felt wheel, I set the speed of the Dremel to the slowest possible and using Tripoli compound, after purging the wheel of old compound with the sharp edge of the Dremel’s adjustment wrench, I remove the crust from the stummel.  I take a picture to show this process.  After the crust is removed, I use cotton pads wet with isopropyl 95% to wipe down the stummel.  I lighten the stummel’s hue a good bit aiming for the original as closely as possible and to blend the dye across the grain.  When I reach the hue that looks good, I switch to a cotton cloth wheel mounted on the Dremel, and after reuniting stem and stummel, I apply Blue Diamond compound both.  I’m loving watching the grain on this BC Cocarde Major Rhodesian start popping – it is truly an amazing process and the components of such fine abrasion produce such a result in the briar. When completed with Blue Diamond I give the pipe a buff with a felt towel, not so much for shining but to remove residue compound before I apply the wax.  After mounting the cotton cloth wheel on the Dremel, I increase the speed to the second slowest speed and apply several coats of carnauba wax to stem and stubble.  When finished, I rigorously hand buff the pipe with a micromesh cloth.butz48 butz49The grain on this Rhodesian is placed perfectly to enhance the proud, chin forward carriage of the stummel.  The horizontal flame grain crosses the heel of the stummel and flows to the sides terminating in bird’s eye – a beautiful showpiece of briar that is well-suited to bear the name of French pride – Cocarde Major.  This Butz-Choquin Rhodesian, another traveler from St. Claude, is looking for a new steward.  I sell the pipes I restore and give the profits to benefit the work we do here in Bulgaria with the Daughters of Bulgaria – rescuing women and children who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  If you are interested in adding this Butz-Choquin Cocarde Major Rhodesian to your collection, you can find it at the store at my blog site, The Pipe Steward.  Thanks for joining me!butz50 butz51 butz52 butz53 butz54 butz55

Rejuvenating a Made in Leeds, England Ben Wade Natural Grain Lovat


Blog by Steve Laug

This little Ben Wade Lovat is the fourth pipe of the lot from Eastern Canada that I am restoring for a pipe man from there who sent it to me. It is stamped on the left side of the shank BEN WADE over Natural Grain and on the right side of the shank it reads Made in Leeds over England and a shape number 20 V near the bowl shank junction. The finish was natural and either unstained or stained with a light tan stain. The grain is quite good on the pipe. The rim is in rough shape from having been knocked on hard surfaces to remove the dottle. There were dents, dings and roughening. The bowl was slightly out of round. The stem was good quality vulcanite and has light oxidation at the joint of the stem and shank. There was tooth chatter and tooth marks on the top and bottom side near the button.ben1 ben2I took some close up photos of the rim and the stem. You can see the damage to the outer and inner edges of the rim as well as dents in the rim top. The cake has been poorly reamed from the bowl and there were some gouges in the briar walls that will need to be sanded out. The stem photos show the tooth chatter and marks as well as the small band of oxidation next to the shank.ben3 ben4I have always heard that the Ben Wade Company made quality English made pipes prior to its purchase by Herman Lane but I did not have any idea of the history of the brand. I did a bit of research on it and found the following helpful information on Pipedia. The link follows the quoted portion.

The company was founded by Benjamin Wade in 1860 in Leeds, Yorkshire, where it was located for over a century. Ben Wade started as a pipe trader, but yet in the 1860’s he established a workshop to produce briar pipes. The pipes were made in very many standard shapes – always extensively classic and “very British”. Many models tended to be of smaller dimensions. Ben Wade offered a very high standard of craftsmanship and quality without any fills. Thus the pipes were considered to be high grade and a major competitor to other famous English brands. The often heard comparison to Charatan seems to be a little bit inadequate because those days’ Charatans were entirely handmade.

In the II World War the factory was destroyed by German air raids on Leeds. But the Ben Wade family decided to re-build it immediately after the war and pipe production was re-started soon and successfully linked to the fame from the pre-war years. Even though the owner family decided to leave pipe business and sell off the firm. The family went into negotiations with Herman G. Lane, president of Lane Ltd. in New York at about the same time as the Charatan family. Lane Ltd. bought both firms in 1962.

Herman G. Lane had been Charatan’s US sole distributor since 1955 and Charatan always remained his pet child. But Ben Wade was treated in another way by its new owner. The fabrication of pipes was reduced and the factory in Leeds was closed in 1965 finally.

So this was the end of Ben Wade pipes stamped “Made in Leeds, England”. https://pipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Wade

The pipe I was working on was stamped “Made in Leeds, England” thus effectively dating it to the period the company was owned by the family. I know that it was made before the closing of the factory in 1965. So I had the last date it could have been made. Judging from the age of the rest of the auction lot my guess would be that this pipe also came from the 1930s. The style and cut of the stem leads me to place it in that period.

I cleaned up the reaming in the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and took the cake back to bare wood. It took some work to smooth out the gouges in the bowl walls. I was able to remove many of them leaving only a remnant behind. I wrapped a dowel with sandpaper and sanded the bowl walls after I had reamed it.ben4a ben5To remove the damage to the rim edges and the top I topped the bowl on the topping board. I did a minimal topping to just even things out and clean up the surface.ben6I scrubbed the bowl surface with acetone on cotton pads to remove the grime and oils that were embedded in the bowl sides. I wanted to get the briar clean so I could retain the natural finish.ben7 ben8I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give the inside rim a light bevel to bring the bowl back into round. I also used in on the outside edge to soften it.ben9With the bowl clean I lightly sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to take out the scratches and smooth out the finish. I sanded it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads as well. When I had finished sanding it I wiped it down with a last wipe of alcohol on a cotton pad in preparation for giving it a light coat of oil. I rubbed the bowl down with olive oil and polished it by hand.ben10 ben11I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the entire stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and the tooth chatter. I “painted” the tooth marks in the stem with a lighter flame until they lifted. I sanded the damaged areas with the sandpaper until the surfaces were smooth and showed no more sign of tooth damage.ben12I wet sanded the saddle portion of the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads and then used Rub ‘n Buff European Gold to fill in the portions of the BW stamp that still showed on the stem surface.ben13I cleaned out the interior of the mortise and the airways in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners until they were no longer dirty and oily. As you can see from the photos below it took a few swabs and cleaners to get to that point.ben14I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads. After the final rubdown with oil I set the stem aside to dry.ben15 ben16 ben17Once the oil had dried I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and then gave them both multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos that follow. It came out quite nice with the grain popping through over the bowl and shank. The pipe will soon join the others in the lot on the return trip to Eastern Canada. Thanks for looking.ben18 ben19 ben20 ben21 ben22 ben23 ben24 ben25

 

An old Sasieni Sashar London Made 901 Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The third pipe I worked on from the pipe man in Eastern Canada who picked up that old lot at an auction is one that is stamped on the left side of shank with the name Sashar over London Made. On the right side of the shank it is stamped with the shape number 901. The rim was worn and whoever cleaned the pipe before I got it removed a lot of the finish. The inner bevel of the rim had a burned area on the right front side. The outer edges of the bowl were worn. The stem was good quality vulcanite and had light oxidation and tome tooth marks on both sides of the stem near the button. The inside of the shank and the stem was very dirty with tars and oils. There was a stinger in the tenon that extended into the bottom of the bowl. There was a light cake in the bowl that would need to be cleaned up as well.sas1 sas2I remembered that the Sashar line was made by Sasieni. I could not remember any other information on the brand. I did a Google search and found that there was a write up on rebornpipes – go figure. I looked and it was a blog that Al Jones wrote on a Sashar pipe that he worked on. Here is the link https://rebornpipes.com/2016/12/19/sasieni-sashar-restoration/.

I did some more searching and found a short writeup on Wesley’s – a pipe shop in South Africa about the pipe brand. It was under a heading there entitled SASIENI. I quote from that site the following: “Joel Sasieni started as an apprentice with Charatan, moved to Dunhill when it opened in 1910, and started his own company in London in 1918 making high grade pipes largely for the US market. They also manufactured pipes under the brand name Sashar (specifically for South Africa) for pipes a little down the line. The company was sold in 1979 and the pipes are now made by a completely different firm.” http://www.wesleys.co.za/refurb04.html

Now I had a bit of information on the brand. It was a Sasieni made pipe manufactured under the Sashar brand name for South Africa. Armed with that information I turned to working on the pipe. I took close up photos of the rim top and inner edge as well as the tooth marks on the stem. In the photo of the bowl you can see the damage on the inner edge of the bowl. The bowl was slightly out of round and there was a burn mark evident mid rim on the right side of the bowl.sas3 sas4In order to clean out the airway in the stem I needed to remove the inner tube from the tenon. I heated it with a lighter until the oils and tars holding it in place warmed up. I wrapped the jaws on a pair of pliers and used it to turn the inner tube out of the tenon. With the tube removed I was able to clean out the airway without impediment.sas5I used a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper to rework a bevel on the inner edge of the bowl. Once I had the bevel cut I worked on it again with 220 grit sandpaper and 1500 grit micromesh sanding pads. I rolled a piece of 220 grit sandpaper into a tube and wrapped it around a dowel and then my finger to sand the inside of the bowl and clean up the remaining cake on the walls.sas6 sas7I used a dark brown stain pen to restain the top of the rim and the inner and outer edge of the bowl. I spot coloured it with a black Sharpie pen and blended the two together to get the finish to match the rest of the bowl.sas8I used a wet cloth and a butter knife to steam out the dents in the back side of the bowl. I heated the knife in the flame of the burners on my kitchen stove. When hot, I folded a wet towel against the dents in the briar and laid the hot knife on the wet cloth. It generated a fair amount of steam. I repeated the process until the dents were lifted.sas9 sas10I used 99% isopropyl alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners to clean out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem. They were not too dirty so it took very few cleaners to clean it. Once the stem was clean I put the inner tube back in place in the tenon.sas11I sanded the tooth chatter on the stem at the button with 220 grit sandpaper to remove it and the few tooth marks that were also present on both sides of the stem near the button.sas12I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads. After the last set of pads I gave it a final coat of oil and let it sit and dry.sas13 sas14 sas15I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the briar and the vulcanite. I gave them both multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is ready to go back to its owner in Eastern Canada. Thanks for looking.sas16 sas17 sas18 sas19 sas20 sas21 sas22 sas23

New Life for a KBB Yello-Bole Sandblast 2705 Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

This is the second pipe that was sent to me by a fellow Canadian for a cleanup and restoration from the lot he had picked up in a local auction for a great price. This one is an older Yello-Bole sandblast billiard with the KBB cloverleaf on the underside of the shank. It has a great looking rugged sandblast on the bowl that highlights the grain. The overall finish appeared to be in good shape though the crevices in the blast were dirty. The bowl had been cleaned before the auction and there was some scratching on the bowl walls. There was still an overflow of tars in the finish that remained on to the rim in the parts that were not damaged. The outer edge of the rim had the look of a pipe that had been smoked hard and knocked out on anything close at hand no matter what it did to the pipe. There were nicks and dings all the way around the rim top and edges. The first five photos that I have included are ones that I received from the pipe’s owner when he emailed and asked me about repairing his find. The first is an overall view of the pipe. yb1The second and third photos are close up shots to clearly show the extent of the damage to the rim top and outer edges. As far as I could see from the photos the inner edge of the rim appeared to be in great shape. The outer edge was another story.yb2The last two photos he sent show the fit of the stem against the shank and the stamping on the underside of the shank. From the first photo it did not appear that the stem was properly seated in the shank. My experience has been that the stems on these older Yello-Bole pipes had an excellent fit but when tars collected around the walls of the shank surrounding the spade stinger the stem would not properly seat. I was hopeful this would be the case with this one. The second photo shows the clear stamping on the underside. It is stamped with the four digit shape number 2705 which is a billiard number and after the 5 is the letter u. The KBB cloverleaf is followed by the classic Yello-Bole stamp and under that it reads Algerian Bruyere.yb3When the pipe arrived I snapped some photos of the condition of the pipe before I started the cleanup. The stem had light oxidation and the yellow O logo was perfect. The inside of the shank was quite dirty so my assumption regarding the reason that the stem did not seat properly was correct. Unfortunately before I took the photos I had done some cleaning on the rim top and edges. I used a sanding block on the edges to knock off loose debris and a dental pick on the rim. I touched up the raw briar with a black Sharpie pen because I have learned that when it is mixed with a dark brown stain I can get a match to the colour of the stain on the bowl. blast1 blast2At this point in the process I used a brass bristle tire brush to scrub out the crevices and sandblast on the top surface. I did this to prepare the rim for restaining, to clean out the blast crevices and to smooth out some of the roughness I have found that this brush does a great job in lifting the dust and tar while not damaging the briar. The brass bristles are soft and do not scratch the briar but make easy work of the tars and build up on the rim of a blast. I scrubbed the inner beveled edge with the brush and it came out looking undamaged. The sandblast reappeared on the rim top as well.blast3I used the black Sharpie pen again to add a dark colour in the chips and nicks in the finish around the edges and the top of the bowl. When that was finished I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain thinned 50/50 with isopropyl alcohol. I fired the stain with a lighter and repeated the process until I was satisfied with the coverage on the bowl. You can see that the nicks along the edges of the rim look very good. The rim top needs to be polished and it will look the same after I have waxed and buffed it.blast4 blast5I probably should have cleaned up the inside of the bowl earlier but as I worked on the rim first it almost escaped my notice. In the last photo above I could see the cake in the bowl and what appeared to be some damage to the inside wall of the left side. I used a Savinelli Fitsall Reaming knife to take the cake out of the bowl. I was able to ream back the walls and the apparent damage disappeared. I used a pen knife to scrape the hard tars that had collected in the shank and mortise. I was amazed at the amount of powder that came out of the shank. It was thick and black and proved my point made earlier about it keeping the stem from seating properly against the shank.blast6I scrubbed the mortise and the airways in the stem and the shank with 99% isopropyl alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until I removed all of the grit and grime from those areas. I cleaned the spade stinger with alcohol and pipe cleaners and polished it with 0000 steel wool until it shone.blast7The pipe smelled of old aromatics and even with the bowl and shank clean the smell was present. I stuffed the bowl with cotton balls and used an eye dropper to fill it with isopropyl alcohol. I have found that cotton balls work as well as Kosher salt does and it is not as messy. I put a cotton swab in the shank up to the entrance of the airway into the bowl as it wicks alcohol into the shank and draws out the oils in that area. I put the pipe bowl upright in an ice-cube tray and let it sit over night to let it do its magic. The second photo shows the cotton balls, discoloured with the oils after sitting 8-9 hours. Once I removed the cotton balls I scrubbed out the shank and airway to remove any remnants of alcohol left behind and set the bowl aside to dry.

I have written about this alternative to the salt and alcohol treatment in an earlier blog that can be read here. https://rebornpipes.com/2013/02/10/sweetening-a-pipe-an-alternative-to-the-salt-and-alcohol-treatment/blast8I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the light oxidation and the light tooth chatter at the button. It did not take too much sanding to remove those from the stem.blast9I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. This is my normal routine and if you have been following the blog for any length of time you know that I always follow this procedure with the stems. Between the 4000 grit pad and the 6000 grit pad I buffed the stem with White Diamond and then went on to use the final three grits of micromesh pads. I gave the stem a rubdown with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads and after the last set put it aside to let the oil dry.blast10 blast11 blast12I hand waxed the bowl with Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a shoe brush. I find that the wax does not clump in the crevices of a sandblast finish like carnauba does so I always hand wax this kind of finish. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the bowl and stem with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and then hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is ready to go back across Canada to its owner. It is a beauty and I think he will enjoy it. Thanks for looking.blast13 blast14 blast15 blast16 blast17 blast18 blast19 blast20

 

Reworking a very damaged Toogood’s Make “A” Billiard 12F.


Blog by Steve Laug

I was contacted by a fellow Canadian who had just picked a nice selection of 6 older pipes at an auction. He picked them up for a very good price. Five of the six pipes were in very good shape. There was an older Dunhill Duke St. SW Lovat, an L&Co small billiard, an older KBB Yello-Bole 2705 sandblast billiard, a Ben Wade Natural Grain Lovat, a Sashar billiard made by Sasieni for South Africa and this older Toogood’s Make A billiard. The little billiard is stamped on the left side of the shank 12F and next to that is Toogood’s over Make over A. On the top of the shank flowing down the right side it reads Made in over England over Sun Dried over in Surrey. I was unfamiliar with the brand and I could not find any information on it on the web. My usual sites did not give me any information. I checked in my copy of Who Made That Pipe and information that the brand was made by Mason & Toogood. It listed 12 different variations on the brand. I have included a screen capture of the section from the book that shows the brand.too1aI searched the web for information about Mason & Toogood in Surrey, England but I could not find anything under that heading either. Perhaps some of you reading this may have some information on this brand.

I took some pictures of the pipe before I did any clean up or restoration on it. I chose to work on this one for the challenge more than anything else. I knew that even once it was restored it would not have any particular value but I like the challenge and enjoy seeing what I can do. You can see the deep gouges on the right side of the bowl from the rim down about ¼ inch. There were also some deep marks and scratches just below the gouges. I took photos of the side of the bowl and also from the top down showing the depth and extent of the damage to the right side.too1 too2I took a photo of the stamping on the shank sides to record the information and to see if any of you recognize it once you see the photos.too3I took some close up photos of the damaged bowl side and the rim top. These show the depth of the gouge and the deep nicks on the rim and the bowl side. It was in rough shape and would take some patience to rebuild the side and the rim.too4I reamed the bowl back to bare briar with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife in preparation for the work on the side and rim top.too5I decided to top the bowl on the topping board to remove the damage on the rim top. The gouges on the top of the rim were not as deep as the side. The photo below shows the rim top after topping the bowl.too6The next series of photos show the rebuild of the rim edge, top and side of the bowl with a mixture of clear super glue and briar dust. I layered on the glue and the dust to bring the level of the side up to the same thickness and height as the rest of the bowl.too7I sanded the repaired area with 180 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repair and blend it into the surface of the bowl. Once I had it smoothed out I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the scratches. The next series of photos show the progress of the repair at this point.too8 too9I sanded the bowl repair with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge and then with 1500-3200 grit micromesh sanding pads. I was able to remove the scratches in the briar with the sanding pads. I stained the bowl side with a dark brown stain pen to match the rest of the bowl colour. This was the first coat of stain. I would follow it with darker coats to try to blend it in better with the bowl side.too10I sanded the freshly stained rim and bowl side with 1500-3200 grit micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratches that showed up on the pipe after the first coat of stain. I restained the bowl side and top with a dark brown aniline stain and flamed it with a lighter. I gave it a second coat and repeated the flaming of the stain to set it in the grain.too11I buffed the bowl with White Diamond on the buffing wheel to raise the shine. The photo below shows the bowl at this point in the process. I still needed to blend the repair into the briar with a black Sharpie Pen. The photos below show the repair before the black Sharpie touch ups.too12The stem was in pretty decent shape with light oxidation. The stem had an aluminum inner tube that was set in the tenon and seemed extend quite a ways up the inside of the airway in the stem.too14I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the scratches and the tooth chatter on the stem surfaces at the button on both sides. I smoothed out the surface of the stem and then polished it with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads. After the final sanding pad I gave it a last rub down with the oil and set it aside to dry.too15 too16 too17I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deep the shine. The repair still shows on the right side; but the pipe is useable and it looks pretty good. The repair blends into the stain on the rest of the bowl. It is smooth to touch and the rim also is in good order. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I took some close up photos of the repaired side and rim to show how they look up close. While I still do not know who made the pipe, I like the look of the pipe. The maker laid out the pipe to flow with the grain. The straight and flame grain on the bowl sides, front and back sides looks great and the sandblast on the bottom of the bowl and shank looks good. Thanks for looking. too18 too19 too20 too21 too22 too23 too24 too25 too26 too27

Refreshing a Comoy’s Golden Grain 110 Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

This is yet another from the old pipeman’s collection that came to me from the local pipe shop. It is a beautifully grained Comoy’s Billiard. The stamping on the pipe is very readable and clear. On the left side it reads Comoy’s over Golden Grain with a C on the side of the stem. On the right side of the shank it is stamped with COM (Country of Manufacture) circle Made in London over England and shape number 110. The finish is decent with a medium brown stain with great grain showing through. It is in good enough shape that I hope to not have to refinish it but rather just clean and renew the finish. There is thin cake in the bowl and rim darkening. The stem is oxidized and there is light tooth marks on top and bottom of the stem near the button. There is also some calcification from a Softee bit on the stem and button.gold1 gold2The photo to the left showgold3s the condition of the rim. The inner beveled edge of the rim is cake and dirty. There is a light lava overflow on the rim and some darkening as well. I am hoping that I will be able to scrub this off and also clean up the inner rim bevel in such a way that I can leave the original finish unaltered. It will take some slow and patient work to restore it and not just refinish it.

I reamed the bowl back to clean briar using a PipNet pipe reaming tool and a Savinelli Fitsall Reamer. I carefully worked the reamer over the beveled rim to remove the buildup on the edges of the rim.gold4I scraped the rim edge and bevel with a sharp pen knife to remove the carbon buildup that was there and scrubbed the rim and bowl with a small bit of Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the darkening and grime left behind after the scraping. The photo below shows the rim after this work over. It is looking pretty good at this point.gold5I cleaned out the internals of the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with 99% isopropyl alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs.gold6I “painted” the tooth marks in the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to raise the vulcanite. I am so thankful for the fact that vulcanite has memory and when heated will return to its original state if the tooth marks have not broken the edges. In this case it worked very well and I was able to minimize them with the flame and finish working on them with 220 grit sandpaper. I sanded the stem and removed the oxidation and the calcification on the button end.gold7I polished the cleaned stems with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I buffed the stem with White Diamond after the 4000 grit pad and then finished with the remaining three pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads and after the final rubdown set it aside to let the oil dry.gold8 gold9 gold10Once the oil dried I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing wheel to raise a shine on the bowl and stem and then hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a beautiful grained Comoy’s made pipe that should provide years of good smoking to whoever adds it to their rack next. It will be available for purchase on the rebornpipes store later today if you wish to add it to your collection. Thanks for looking.gold11 gold12 gold13 gold14 gold15 gold16 gold17 gold18 gold19

 

 

Another Wedding Trip Pick: A 1961 DUNHILL EK Shell Briar Made in England 1 4S


Blog by Dal Stanton

Unbelievably, I found this classic Dunhill EK Shell Briar at Madeline’s Antiques & Uniques during the trip for our daughter’s wedding in the US last November. Madeline’s was one of those picker paradises waiting on the I 24 Exit near Manchester, TN, that thankfully, we did not drive past! I had pleasure restoring and gifting our youngest son on Christmas in Denver, the Aged Imported Briar Poker (Red Dot) pictured below on the bottom (See: Link) and the restored Poker’s picture following. Now, shift two pipes above the Poker in the picture below, and you’ll see the Dunhill EK Shell Briar that now has my attention after rescuing him from my ‘Help Me!’ basket here in Sofia, Bulgaria.dal1 dal2At 5 3/4 inches in length, it is a nicely sized square shanked paneled billiard – a very nicely blasted Dunhill Shell pipe.  The stampings are worn but legible on the lower panel of the squared shank.  On the left quadrant, it reads, “Dunhill” over “EK Shell Briar”.  The right reads, “Made In” over “England 1”. Then, to the extreme right on the shank’s edge is 4 ensconced in a circle followed by S.  On the top panel of the squared, tapered stem is embedded the well-known Dunhill white dot – a mark of excellence since 1915.

In 1915, the famous white spot was introduced for very practical concerns. With straight pipes, customers had trouble knowing which way to insert the handmade vulcanite mouthpieces. So, Alfred Dunhill ordered white spots to be placed on the upper side of the stem. This very practical solution would become a definitive trademark of Dunhill pipes. The “white spot” soon became known as a symbol of quality. (Link to Pipedia’s history for Dunhill)

This is my first opportunity to research Dunhill to understand better the heritage of the pipe on my work table.  There is much information about Dunhill on the internet, which is nidal3ce change.  My impressions of the founder, Alfred Dunhill, are that he was a talented and creative businessman, who understood well that a quality product would create a financial boon along with understanding the ‘needs’ of a market.  Per Pipedia, in 1893, he inherited a harness business at only age 21, but was savvy enough to see the approaching reality of the automobile and he leveraged his company to prepare for it. He started, “Dunhill Motorities” to capitalize on this new industry. His first experiment in pipe making was to accessorize for the ‘new’ and sophisticated needs of those now driving cars which were faster than horse and carriage.  To me, this epitomizes Alfred Dunhill’s approach to business and perhaps, to life as well. With wind in the faces of potential customers, he birthed the idea of marketing a pipe with a windshield! We laugh, but this says something about the man who guided his company through the Great Depression when many pipe manufacturers were closing their door.  Dunhill expanded.  The Pipedia synopsis describes the world-wide growth of Dunhill Pipes and their association with quality – the preferred pipe of the rich and famous and the aristocracy.  This ‘market share’ was due in part to Alfred Dunhill’s practice of giving pipes to the English military officers during WW1.  Altruism or good marketing?  During that time the aristocracy of England was awarded military commissions by birth-right.  Dunhill was a smart businessman, there’s little doubt of this.  I also read that it was Alfred Dunhill who kept Winston Churchill well-supplied in cigars.  Another interesting thing I saw as I did my research was threads and discussions arguing why Dunhill pipes are more expensive than most?  Quality or overrating based upon a name?  This Pipe Magazine thread is one example.

The largest part of my curiosity regarding Dunhill is to understand better the creation of the ‘Sand Blast’ finish, or as it’s called in Dunhill Land, Shell.  In my diminutive time rescuing and restoring pipes, I’ve never had clarity in my mind about the differences between blasted and rustified surfaces – and variations therein.  These distinctions are clear to most enthusiasts in pipe collecting and restoration but I’ve been a bit slow on the uptake!  I’m looking at the Dunhill Shell Briar – my first thought had been that it must have something to do with shells on a sea shore….  This small article was especially helpful from the same Pipedia page:

Shell

A deep craggy sandblast with a black stain finish. Dunhill patented the sandblast finish in England in 1917 (Patent No. 1484/17) and the U.S. in 1920 (Patent No. 1,341,418). See The Art of Sandblasting, by R.D. Field, for in depth look at Dunhill’s revolutionary new finish. The deepest and craggiest finishes were from Algerian briar, which is softer and yields more to the blasting. These are found in circa 1920’s, 1940’s, and 1960’s Shells. The pipes were double blasted until the 1960’s, and then the double blast technique resumed in the 1980’s calling it the “Deep Shell” finish. During the 1960’s and 70’s Dunhill could not acquire the Algerian briar. Consequently, the company’s sandblast pipes were much shallower and less distinct. Once again Dunhill showed itself to be innovative, inventing the “double blast” technique to bring about a deeper blast even with harder briar. The black shell sandblast finish uses a stain the was developed for the color, not the taste. They have a more bitter taste, even when well smoked.

Now I have it.  The knowledge that blasting highlights briar grain by removing softer wood through the process has changed how I now look at the surface of a blasted pipe or with Dunhill, a Shell pipe.  ‘Shell’ reportedly came from observations of the earliest experiments with sand blasting briar shapes – they were shriveled and looked like a ‘shell’ – that is, a shadow of their former states.  Even with the limited number of restorations I’ve done to date, it is obvious that I thoroughly love and enjoy working on smooth briars, simply for the challenge and delight of witnessing the beauty of briar grain appear.  Now, I study the Dunhill EK Shell Briar with a new appreciation for a different perspective on the same beautiful grains but revealed via blasting.  So much for my reflections!  Here are pictures of the Dunhill I’ve been reflecting upon!dal4 dal5 dal6 dal7 dal8 dal9Before I begin the restoration work, one last tick on the research list – the nomenclature.  The two pictures above show the markings on the lower shank panel.  I admit, when I first started trying to make sense of the plethora of information on Dunhill dating, it was daunting and a bit confusing, but as I looked at R.D. Fields’ A Dunhill Pipe Dating Guide published in Pipedia, Pipephil’s unbelievable charts, and tooling through all the examples of Dunhill nomenclature exemplified year-by-year, and also Pipephil’s, Dunhill Dating Key – pieces started coming together.  Reborn Pipe’s reposting of Eric Boehm’s Dunhill Shapes Collated was helpful as well.  When I first looked at the pictures above, I had missed the ‘E’ of the EK Shell Briar which is barely legible due to the wear next to the heel of the stummel.  Boehm’s information about ‘EK’ shape was: “Quaint Shape” Hexagonal panel billiard, square shank, angled tapered bit “Stand-up” 1928.  The EK Hexagonal panel is interesting in that a hexagon has 6 sides.  Over the years, this shape may have added more angled variety.  This EK is either squared if you only count the 4 major panels, but it is possible when including the tapered, smaller panels creating the corners, 8 panels are encircling this stummel.  The Pipephil Dunhill Shape Code chart calls the EK a square panel and provides an example of an EK 1958.  The markings are:

EK = Square Panel (shape letters)

4 (in circle) = Bowl Size

S – material: Shell or sand blasted

The dating of this pipe is 1961, based upon the suffix number ‘1’ following ‘England 1’.  Clear? Starting in 1955, Dunhill stopped including the full patent number in the nomenclature.  So, for Dunhills without the patent number, if the number following the ‘England’ is 5-0 (underlined or a subscript) then it would be the year 1950 + X = Year.  So, a Dunhill having ‘England 5’ is from 1955.  With the 1960s the system changed to 1960 being the base starting point with suffix numbers added to ‘England’ that were not underlined or subscripted, but the same size as the D in England.  Are you confused – I was, but it finally became clear.  The dating suffix in the picture above is ‘England 1’ which indicates a dating of 1960 +1 = a 1961 dating!  If I had an ‘England 24’ it would be dated 1984.  I found another EK Shell Briar on this finished eBay listing which was “London 8” – 1968.dal10

Pipe Pages had this example of an Owl Catalogue of 1962 with a picture of the same EK shape in the center but its dating would look like this: “England 2”.  I don’t know if this makes it clearer, but I am thankful for Dunhill dating his pipes!

With a new appreciation for Dunhill, and the EK Shell Briar, Made in England 1, 4S, before me, I hope that I can recommission this pipe for another lifetime and to serve another steward!  The stummel generally looks good – it needs to be cleaned thoroughly – the internals and the blasting.  The cake in the chamber needs to be removed to the briar to allow a fresh start and to examine the chamber wall.  The rim is seriously caked with oils and lava flow and the rim has a small chip on the shank-side panel which will need coloring and blending.  The lower shank panel with the Dunhill nomenclature is already worn – I will clean the area but stay clear of any abrasives.  I thought I detected a crack in at the 4 o’clock mark looking at the shank, but with a closer look, thankfully it is grain and not a crack!  The stem is the challenge.  The oxidation is heavy and needs to be removed.  The button has a bite-through on the lower side that breaches the lip.  The button will need rebuilding and the hole patched.  I remove the stem from the shank and put a pipe cleaner through the airway and plop it in an Oxi-Clean bath to start addressing the heavy oxidation.dal11With the stummel, I take the Pipnet Reaming Kit to address the cake build-up in the chamber. I take another picture of the cake to mark the progress.  For easier clean-up, I always put down a double layer of paper towel to catch the exorcised carbon.  I use the two smallest blades of the 4 available to me to ream the chamber.  Starting with the smallest, then the next larger size.  After this, to fine tune the reaming, I use the Savinelli Pipe Knife by scraping the walls further.  Then, wrapping 240 grit paper around a Sharpie Pen, I sand the walls to remove the smallest traces of carbon and to bring the chamber again to briar.  I finish by using a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% and wipe the chamber to remove the carbon dust. After inspection, the chamber walls show no sign of burning through though I do detect heat fissures that are not serious, but need attention in the last stages of the restoration.  The pictures show the reaming process and inspection questions.dal12 dal13 dal14 dal15Before moving to the external cleaning, I tackle the internals – using cotton swabs and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% I clean the inside airway.  The resistance is significant so I take a drill bit, the size of the airway, and ream and scrape it – trying to dislodge the gunk and bring it out.  I continue with cotton swabs and pipe for some time – also utilizing sharp and spaded dental probes to reach and scrape into the mortise.  After some time, the pipe cleaners started returning less soiled.  I’m calling the frontal siege completed, but at the close of the day, I will commence the Trojan Horse attack to further clean the internals with a Salt and Alcohol soak.   The pictures show the progress.dal16Now to the externals.  Using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap, I scrub the rim and blast surface using cotton pads and a bristled tooth brush to get into the crags and crevices.  I also use a brass wire brush on the rim to loosen the crusting.  The brass wire will not harm the briar. dal17Ridding the rim of the lava crust reveals several nicks and bare briar around the rim panels.  I also note that there are several places along the shank/stem junction that have lightened because of wear.  I use furniture repair markers starting with the lightest hue (Maple) and methodically start touching the rim spots as well as around the shank.  When the ‘scarring’ or lightened areas are still evident, I graduate to the next darker brown hue, then a third stick darker still.  Looking for the blending to occur.  As I go, I have a cotton pad lightly dampened with alcohol to wipe the areas gently to create more blending of the dyed areas along the rim and shank.  The first 3 pictures show the problems (forgot to picture the shank!) and the last 3 after using the dye sticks.dal18 dal19 dal20 dal21With the stummel repairs completed, I give the internals more cleaning and freshening.  I put the stummel in the egg carton and fill the bowl with Kosher Salt and twist a cotton ball and stuff it down the mortise, to help draw out the left-over gunk.  I then fill the bowl slowly with isopropyl 95% until it reaches the level of the salt.  I put it stummel aside and let the salt/alcohol soak to do its thing.dal22With the stummel soaking, I fish the stem out of the Oxi-clean bath.  The bath did a good job causing the olive greenish oxidation to rise to the surface.  Using 600 grit paper, I wet sand the stem taking off the raised oxidation.  I follow this with using 0000 steel wool – removing more oxidation and shining and smoothing the vulcanite stem.  I’m careful to avoid sanding over the shoulders of the stem to round off the squared shank.  The pictures show the progress.dal23I turn now to the internal stem airway using pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%.  As hoped, the resistance was little and the pipe cleaners were coming through the airway and emerging clean. dal24With clean internals, what remains is to rebuild the button and patch the bite-through hole from the former stewards clinching.  I create a slot insert using an index card cut to fit and then covered with slick scotch tape – the plastic looking kind.  This will keep the charcoal-superglue putty from sticking to the insert.  The insert serves two purposes.  First, it protects the airway from putty dripping down and plugging things which would add significantly to the work load!  It also provides the form underneath the hole to shape the fill.  I open a capsule of activated charcoal on an index card and I mix it with Hot Stuff Special ‘T’ CA glue – after I place a puddle of it next to the charcoal.  Gradually, I pull charcoal into the puddle of CA glue using a toothpick until I reach a viscosity of molasses and then strategically I dollop the putty in to the tooth hole and around the button – more than needed so that during the sanding phase there’s enough material to shape the button adequately.  Just as an experiment, I’m putting the putty on a bit wetter than usual and use an accelerator to cure it more rapidly.  I want to see if the result might be fewer air pockets in the patch material.  The pictures show the progress with the button patch and rebuild.dal25 dal26 dal27After a fruitful day at work, I’m anxious to return to the worktable.  The Kosher Salt and alcohol bath has run the course and as expected, the salt has darkened and the cotton stuffed into the mortise has acted as a ‘wick’ drawing out the oils and tars – thank you Charles Lemon of Dad’s Pipes for the suggestion of using cotton rather than a cork.  It worked well.  After dumping the salt, I wipe the chamber with a paper towel to remove all the residue salt.  I also employ bristle brushes to clean out the mortise to remove all the old used salt.  Then I return to using some cotton swabs and pipe cleaners down the mortise and they came out clean. Job done.  The pictures show the progress.dal28Many of the pipes I’ve been restoring have had significant stem issues – splicing the L J Peretti, and several button rebuilds have come my way.  I like to think I’m getting more practice resulting in better results!  So is the hope.  I take fresh pictures, top and bottom, of the patched area using activated charcoal dust and Special ‘T’ CA glue to mark the progress.  Beginning from the slot-side, I use a sanding drum with the Dremel to remove quickly the large hunk of runover.   Then, using a flat needle file, I work toward bringing the new edge of the button to where the original slot is.  After this is accomplished, I carefully file inside the slot to shape it. Care is given because the lower slot lip in the center, is 100% patch fill from the tooth hole breaching the slot.  The patch material tends to be softer than the vulcanite so the center – lower area of the slot may be soft and give up too much territory as I file.  I gently (and patiently!) use the small circular part of a pointed needle file to shape the inner part of the slot.  It looks good.  Pictures show the progress to establishing the new rough slot.dal29 dal30 dal31Now I establish the upper edge of the shank-side of the button lip.  I do this by eyeballing a logical place to have the lip – maybe giving me a little more lip than needed now – I can always file it down, but can’t file it up! I place a score in the patch bulge with the corner edge of the flat needle then gradually file the score across the button and moving downward toward the original stem surface.  As I file with the flat needle file, I keep the left edge of the file off the stem and lean into the patch area. I don’t want to scar up the stem for no reason!  Pictures show the gradual, patient shaping process with the file.dal32 dal33With the top shape-out completed with the file, I flip the stem and repeat the process on the bottom side.  I follow the button line from the top to the bottom by continuing to score the line around the excess on the stem edges, filing and rounding the button on the left and right.  I use the stem’s lines on the left and right sides, coming from the shank-side to create the line through the left and right side of the button.  At the end, it’s a smooth transition on the sides from the stem’s sides to/though the button’s sides. I picture what I’m attempting to explain in the last picture in this set below.  I’m also careful to uncover gradually the tooth hole patched area in the center bottom.  I expect the patch area to be softer than the vulcanite and I want the patch to blend.  The pictures show the progress on the lower side of the button.dal34 dal35The last two pictures show the completion of the button shaping upper then lower, using 240 grit paper followed by 600 grit paper and 0000 grade steel wool to catch the button repair area with the rest of the stem.  The button rebuild looks great and the hole patch is blending well.dal36 dal37At this point I take a close look at the patch area and I see some air pockets – not many, but some.  That cannot stand for the recommissioning of this 1961 Dunhill.  What comes to your mind when you reflect on 1961?  This is what I see, a ’61 Chevy with this Dunhill along for the ride!  Perhaps I need to acquire one of Alfred Dunhill’s Patent Shield Pipe too!dal38This Dunhill might be a good Birth Year Pipe for someone if I can give it up.  I take regular superglue and make a small puddle and use a toothpick to hole drop glue and paint some areas to fill the air pockets and I follow by spraying the fills with accelerator.  Following this, I sand the fill areas with 600 grit paper and then 0000 grade steel wool.  I declare button repair consummatum est! dal39 dal40 dal41I take the Dremel and finally fabricate a plastic washer to guard against sanding down the shoulders of the stem.  Using the washer with the stummel providing the resistance, I wet sand with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sand using the next set of 3200 to 4000, then 6000 to 12000.  I follow each set of three with an application of Obsidian Oil to revitalize the vulcanite.  My, this stem and Dunhill White dot are ready for the ’61 Chevy convertible!dal42 dal43I may have created a problem showing the ’61 Chevy paired with a British-born pipe.  So, I suppose this British made ’61 MGA Roadster would do OK in a pinch 🙂dal44With the micromesh phase completed, I turn again to the stummel.  Previously, I applied dye sticks to lightened wear areas to give a fresher look.  I look at the rim a little closer and it still appears crusty and black – lacking the light reddish speckling present in the rest of the stummel.  I lightly sand the rim with the 1500 micromesh pad and then use my pen knife and gently scrape the top.  I only remove the crust on the sand blasted surface.  After scraping, I return to Murphy’s Oil Soap and with a brass brush, scrub the rim again and rinse with tap water.  I’m seeing a better contrast of hues now in the blast textured surface. I then take the darker hue stain stick and randomly paint portions of the rim to add more contrast and interplay and then lightly dab and wipe with a slightly wetted cotton pad with isopropyl 95% to blend.  I want to keep the original color of the EK Shell Briar and the look of a classic 1961 Dunhill.  The pictures show the progress.dal45 dal46Using a cotton cloth wheel, I apply Blue Diamond compound to the stummel.  I set the Dremel speed to 1, the slowest possible.  With the Dremel’s wheel, as small and concise as it is, I can rotate the stummel and guide the wheel so it’s going with grains – maneuvering in the peaks and valley of the Shell moonscape surface.  I don’t overload the wheel with compound and press with too much force downward, but allow the RPMs of the Dremel and the compound to do the work.  After completing the compound application, I hand-buff the stummel with a flannel cloth to remove the loose compound residue before applying the wax.   With the stem and stummel reunited, I give both several coats of carnauba wax.  I use a separate cotton cloth Dremel wheel dedicated to carnauba, I set the speed at 2, with 5 being the fastest setting.  As I did with the Blue Diamond, I utilize the strategic smallness of the Dremel’s wheel as I maneuver to distribute the carnauba wax without gunking up in the Shell textured surface.  Following the wax, I give the Dunhill a brisk hand-buff with a micromesh cloth.

One last need on the check-list before recommissioning this 56-year-old Dunhill.  After this many years of active service, heat fissures had developed in the chamber. I want to coat the chamber with a mixture that helps protect the briar while at the same time provides a temporary foundation for the cake to develop which will provide the long-term protection of the chamber briar.  I have heard, and repeat here, proper cake depth to be maintained is about the thickness of a US dime.  It would have been easier to do this before polishing the stummel, but I forgot until now.  No problem. dal47In the past, I’ve used a coating mixture of activated charcoal dust and sour cream (here on Reborn Pipes) – which works wonderfully and leaves no taste or smell – it is inert.  Since I don’t see any sour cream in the refrigerator, I decide to use the method that Charles Lemon uses which he described here on Dad’s Pipes using maple syrup and activated charcoal as the main ingredients.  Since we do not have maple syrup in Bulgaria (bummer!), Charles assured me after an emailed question, that honey, plentiful in Bulgaria, would serve well as a substitute.  Charles’ directions are straight forward, which I follow:

  1. Insert a pipe cleaner in the stem of the pipe to keep the airway open.
  2. Wipe maple syrup around the inside surfaces of the bowl. Try for a nice even layer.
  3. Pour activated charcoal powder into the bowl right up to the rim.
  4. Allow the pipe to sit for an hour or more. This gives time for a layer of charcoal powder to be absorbed by the syrup.
  5. Dump out the excess charcoal powder, remove the pipe cleaner from the stem.
  6. Now the hard part. LET THE PIPE SIT FOR 5-7 DAYS. The bowl coating will cure smooth and hard.
  7. After curing, your pipe is ready to go!

These pictures show the progress with the final picture a few hours after clearing the excess charcoal.  I will need to let the pipe sit now for 5 to 7 days for the bowl coating to fully cure, which will not be a problem! dal48 dal49 dal50I’m very pleased with the outcome of the stem/button repair.  There is no perceptible indication that there was a hole that breached the lower button lip.  The Shell Briar cleaned up well and shines with a rich, deep, brown/burgandyish textured shade.  When restoration began, I did not realize how I would grow to appreciate the name, “Dunhill” and the pipes bearing this respected name.  The debate will remain regarding Dunhill’s higher pricing – whether one is paying for only a name or for advanced excellence in a pipe.  I suspect that both are true.  After seeing the beauty of this 1961 Dunhill EK Shell Briar emerge, especially as he responded to the carnauba treatment, coupled with the solid feel of the 4-paneled, square billiard bowl, and the strong bearing of the squared shank transitioning into a squared stem that gracefully tapers to the button –  and, all is crowned with Alfred Dunhill’s happenstance white dot mark of excellence – and I agree, I am looking at a quality pipe.  I’m conflicted whether to keep this Dunhill, my first, or to put him up for adoption???  Oh well…. I sell my restorations with a special purpose.  The profits help the work we do with the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and children sexually exploited and trafficked.  This vintage 1961, Dunhill EK Shell Briar, Made in England 1, is ready to serve a new steward.  If you’re interested in adopting him and helping the Daughters, go to my blog site at The Pipe Steward Store and check it out.  Thanks for joining me!dal51 dal52 dal53 dal54 dal55 dal56