Breathing New Life into an Israeli Made Stag Straight Grain


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to me from one of our estate purchases. Between us we pick up quite a few pipes for restoration. I try to work them into the restoration queue so that I can keep them moving. This next one is from our ongoing hunt – a beautifully grained freehand that has carved trails on the heel, across the back of the bowl and up the right side of the shank to the stem. It had a saddle vulcanite stem. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Stag [over] Straight Grain and on the underside reads Israel. The stamping is identical to many of the pipes that I have restored from the Shalom Pipe Factory in Israel and the makers of Alpha pipes. The finish had a lot of grime ground into the surface of the briar and in the carving. The bowl was thickly caked with an overflowing lava coat on the plateau rim top. The edges looked to be in good condition though there is some possible damage under the lava. The stem was oxidized, calcified, dirty and had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There were not markings or a logo on the taper stem. It had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the overflow of lava on the rim top. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the oxidation and the light chatter and tooth marks.    Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some stunning grain under the grime.  He took photos of the stamping on the left and underside of the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable.       I turned to Pipephil to read the article on Sasieni seconds (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-sasieni2.html). I have included a screen capture of the section on Stag below.I turned to Pipedia’s article on Sasieni Seconds and did a screen capture of the various pipes that they make (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Sasieni#Sasieni_Seconds). I have drawn a red box around the Stag brand.From the two sites I knew that the pipe I was working on was  one of these seconds. The S was shaped like a pipe on Stag  stamp on the shank in the above photo is the same on the pipe I am working on. The difference on mine was that it was stamped Israel rather than London Made.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.    The bowl and rim top cleaned up really well with the lava coat removed. The inner edge of the rim was in good condition.  The plateau was clean but had some darkening. It looked very good. The stem surface had some oxidation and some light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.   I took photos of the stamping (though a little out of focus) are clear and read the same as noted above.    I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole.Now it was time to do my work on the pipe I polished it with micromesh sanding pads using 1500-12000 grit sanding pads and wiping it down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust and debris.   I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The stain brings the rich reddish brown tone to life. It is a nice looking pipe.    I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and  cotton pads to remove the majority of the oxidation.    I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.      This Israeli Made Stag Straight Grain Freehand with a vulcanite saddle stem turned out to be a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Stag Straight Grain Feehand fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

A Story Of The Restoration Of An Old Battered Bewlay “General” That Went Awry…


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I had picked up a job lot of six pipes from a Curio Store on eBay. This lot contained brands like Barling’s, Parker and Orlik and other English make pipes. These are some of my favorite brands and I couldn’t pass them over even though they were in a hopelessly beat up condition. Here are pictures of the pipe lot that the seller had posted. The first pipe from this pipe lot that I decided to work on is a classic Billiards and is indicated in red arrow. This classic Billiard shaped pipe is stamped on the left shank surface as “BEWLAY” in artistic running hand over “GENERAL” in block letters and on the right shank surface as “MADE IN ENGLAND” in capital letters. The bottom of the shank bears the numeral (or is it letter) “0” towards the shank end. The stampings are mostly all worn out and can be roughly made out under bright light and under magnification. The vulcanite tapered saddle stem bears the logo of letter “B”.    This would be the first BEWLAY pipe that I have worked on and thus my curiosity was piqued. I first searched rebornpipes and came across a catalogue uploaded by Jacek A. Rochacki. However, the pipe on my work table finds no mention of it in the brochure. The article has an interesting snippet of information that is reproduced below.

Here is the link to the article – https://rebornpipes.com/2014/03/07/house-of-bewlay-pipes-tobacco-leaflets/

“Bewlay House was a chain of English pipe stores whose pipes were made by Barling, Charatan, and Loewe, so the English considered the Bewlay pipes a quality pipe in its own right. The English brand of Bewlay & Co. Ltd. (formerly Salmon & Gluckstein Ltd.), was in business from the early 20th century until the 1950’s. The brand ended up being sold and taken over by Imperial Tobacco Co. The shop chain closed in the 1980’s but there seems to be one shop still in business on Carr Lane in the city of Hull”.

Unfortunately, the catalogue has no mention of shape “0” and there are no apparent signs of other numerals being worn out. Having hit a wall here, I would like to request readers of Reborn pipes if they could fill in the void by sharing their knowledge with other readers.

Initial Visual Inspection
This pipe has a nice large bowl size equivalent to a Dunhill group size 4. The stummel is covered in dirt and grime of the overflowed lava and dirt accumulated over the years of heavy smoking and uncared attention to cleaning. The stummel boasts of some beautiful mix of swirls, cross and bird’s eye grain over the stummel surface that can be made out under the grime. There is a very thick layer of cake in the chamber and some damage is seen to the rim top surface and the rim edges. The stem is heavily oxidized with a few deep bite marks to the button edge in the bite zone. Here is how the pipe appears as it sits on my work table. Detailed Inspection Of The Pipe And Observations
The bowl has a decently wide rim and a chamber depth of about 1 7/8 inches. The draught hole is in the center and at the bottom of the chamber. The chamber has an extremely thick layer of hard cake with remnants of tobacco flakes embedded in it. The rim top surface appears to be damaged with dents/ dings and is covered in lava overflow, dirt and grime. The inner front rim edge appears to be charred (enclosed in a yellow circle) in the 11 o’clock direction. The outer rim edge has suffered a few blows on a hard surface resulting in a dented and chipped edge surfaces in 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock direction and the same in enclosed in a blue circle. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber and the inner rim edge can be commented upon after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. The chamber has very strong and sharp ghost smell to it. The stummel appears solid to the touch all around and hence I do not foresee any serious damage to the walls in the form of burnout/ deep heat fissures/ lines or pits. The darkened inner rim edge may be charred further than anticipated and the same will be confirmed after the surface has been thoroughly cleaned. I need to resort to topping the rim top in order to address the damage to the surface. The ghost smells should reduce once the cake from the chamber is removed and the shank has been cleaned.   The smooth stummel surface is covered in lava overflow, dust and grime through which one can make out the beautiful swirls, cross and Bird’s eye grains over the bowl and shank. The stummel surface has a few scratches, dents and dings on the either sides of the stummel, probably due to likely falls during its time with the previous piper. I could make out two fills, one at the back and one to the right side of the stummel (circled in blue). The briar is looking lifeless and bone dry. Once the stummel has been thoroughly cleaned, these damages will be more apparent. Thorough cleaning and rising under warm water of the stummel surface will confirm if these fills are required to be refreshed or otherwise and should also highlight the grain patterns. I shall need to sand the stummel surface with sand papers to remove and minimize the scratches, dents and dings. Micromesh polishing will further help minimize these dents and scratches to some extent. The mortise shows heavy accumulation of oils, tars and gunk and the air flow is not full and smooth. Cleaning of the mortise/ shank will further improve the seating of the stem and also further reduce the strong odors from the pipe.The high quality vulcanite tapered stem has a nice broad flare to the button end and looks good with the stout large stummel. The stem is so heavily oxidized that it appears brownish green in color! Deep calcification is seen in the bite zone from prolonged use of rubber bit. Some heavy tooth chatter and deep bite marks in the bite zone are seen on both the upper and lower surfaces of the stem. The button edges on either surface have been completely flattened with the lip edges seen as mere straight thin edges with no shape and sharpness at all. The tenon air opening is completely blocked with accumulated ash and oils/ tars that have dried out on the inside as well as on the outside. The horizontal slot has a crack to the upper lip and the slot itself is chock-a-block with gunk. The bite marks will be raised to the surface by heating to the extent possible and further will be filled using charcoal and CA superglue mix. The button end, including the button itself on either surface will have to be completely rebuilt and reshaped. I suspect that the upper lip, or whatever remains of it, is cracked in the center.   Overall, this pipe is in a filthy condition and will be a bear to clean up. There is likelihood that this pipe may spring a few unforeseen surprises during the restoration process. It was surely one of the most beloved pipes of the previous owner as it has been heavily smoked.

The Process
Abha, my wife, first cleaned the internals of the stem with stem brush, bristled/ regular pipe cleaners and 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. She scraped out the dried oils and tars from the tenon end with my fabricated knife and also removed the dried oils and tars from the slot end. She followed it up by sanding the entire stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to remove the surface oxidation. The amount of gunk that has been scraped out of the stem surface just to get to the black vulcanite shows that the oxidation was very deep and heavy over the stem surface. It has been our experience that sanding a stem before dunking it in to the deoxidizer solution helps in bringing the deep seated oxidation to the surface which in turn make further cleaning a breeze with fantastic result.   She, thereafter, dropped the stem in to “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution developed by my friend Mark Hoover. The solution helps to draw out heavy oxidation to the surface, making its further removal a breeze, while the minor oxidation is eliminated to a very great extent. The initial sanding helps to draw out the complete oxidation as the sanding opens up the stem surface that has been initially covered with oxidation. We usually dunk stems of 4-5 pipes that are in-line for restoration and this pipe is marked in pastel blue arrow. We generally allow the stems to soak in this solution overnight to do its work.While Abha was working on the stem, simultaneously, I worked on the stummel by first reaming the chamber with size 2 and followed by size 3 Castleford reamer head. I further scraped the chamber walls with my fabricated knife to remove the remaining carbon deposits where the reamer head could not reach. I scraped out the lava overflow from the inner rim edge and the rim top surface, especially from the area in 11 o’clock direction. Once the cake was reamed back to the bare briar, I used a 150 grit sand paper followed by 220 grit sand paper to remove all the traces of remaining cake and also to smooth out the inner walls of the chamber surface. Lastly, to remove the residual carbon dust, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. The chamber walls are sans any damage. The inner rim edge has a nice thick bevel which was revealed after the lava overflow was removed from the rim top and rim edge. Thankfully the inner rim was not charred under the lava overflow. There is a fill on the rim top surface in 11 o’clock direction (encircled in red) that has come to the notice after the lava overflow was scraped off. The rim top is still considerably darkened and will need deep cleaning. The outer rim and rim top damage will necessitate topping and creating a slight bevel to the outer rim edge.  I followed up the reaming with cleaning the mortise using cue tips, pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I scraped the walls of the mortise with my fabricated knife to remove the dried oils and tars. The ghost smells are still very strong and would need a salt and alcohol treatment.   I continued the cleaning of the chamber and shank internals with a salt and alcohol bath. I use cotton balls which is an at par substitute as I have realized over the years. I draw out a wick from the cotton and along with a folded regular pipe cleaner; insert it in to the mortise and through the draught hole in to the chamber. Thereafter, I packed the chamber with cotton balls to about quarter of an inch below the inner rim edge and soaked the cotton balls with isopropyl alcohol up to the brim. About half an hour later, the level of alcohol had gone down, having being absorbed by the cotton. I topped it up once again and set it aside overnight. By next afternoon, the cotton and alcohol had drawn out all the remaining oils and tars from the chamber and mortise, fulfilling its intended task. I removed the cotton balls and ran pipe cleaners through the mortise to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk and further cleaned it with alcohol and q-tips. The chamber now smells clean and fresh.   With the bowl internals clean, I move to clean the exterior of the stummel. I used a hard bristled tooth brush and Briar Cleaner, a product that has been developed by Mark Hoover, to scrub the stummel and rim top. I set the stummel aside for 10 minutes for the product to draw out all the grime from the briar surface. After 10 minutes, I washed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the stummel surface was clean and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. The stummel surface has cleaned up nicely with the beautiful grain patterns on full display. However, this cleaning has also revealed the fills (encircled in blue) that have gone soft. The spot of fill in the rim top (encircled in red) is now clearly seen. This too would need to be refreshed. Darkening around the outer edge (encircled in yellow) is suggestive of charred briar and would need to be addressed. With a sharp thin edged blade, I gouged out the fill to the right side and one at back of the stummel. However, I decided not to address the fill at the rim top at this juncture since I was, anyway, going to top it and there is always a possibility that the fill is not very deep and is eliminated completely.   I top the rim on a piece of 220 grit sand paper to even out the rim surface dents/ dings and also to reduce the charred outer rim edge surface that was noticed after the stummel was thoroughly cleaned. The rim top looks perfect with a flawless inner rim edge. However the fill, though reduced in size, is very much visible as a dot. The damages to the outer rim edge (marked in red) in the 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock direction, though minimized, will need to be addressed by creating a bevel. I removed the old fill from the rim top surface with a sharp dental tool till I reached solid briar underneath the fill.   While I continued with the stummel repairs the next morning, Abha removed the stems that had been soaking in the deoxidizer solution overnight. She cleaned the stem and the stem airway under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using a Scotch Brite pad and the airway with a thin shank brush. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little EVO to rehydrate the stem. This now gives a clearer picture of the extent of depth of the bite marks as can be seen in the pictures below. These will definitely require a fill even after I have heated and raised the vulcanite. It is now confirmed that the lip edge on the upper surface is cracked. This crack will be repaired when I rebuild the entire button on both the upper surface of the stem. With the stem cleaning in progress in some of the finest hands, I decided to refresh the fills that I had gouged out yesterday. Using the layering method, I filled these gouges with a mix of briar dust and CA superglue till the mound of the mix was slightly above the rest of the stummel surface. This helps in a better blending of the fill with the rest of the stummel surface while sanding and reduces the scratches caused by the use of a needle file as you have a correct perspective of the sanding that is required. I set the stummel aside for the fills to cure. I realized with a cringe that I had run out of medium CA superglue that was at my home and since the entire country being in a lockdown, I could not order for some. All that was available to me was very thin CA superglue that was almost of the viscosity of water. Not wanting to waste time, I had decided to continue my repairs using what was available only to realize at the very end how wrong that decision was…. Abha, in the meanwhile, had cleaned the stem and handed it over to me to deal with the damages that I had described during my initial inspection. To raise the deep bite marks in the bite zone, I heated the damaged potion with the flame of a candle. The heat from the candle flame helps to raise these bite marks to the surface as vulcanite has the property to raise and attain its original shape when heated. Though addressed to some extent, these bite marks would need to be filled with a mix of activated charcoal and superglue. The buttons would need to be entirely rebuilt and reshaped. The stem is cracked (indicated in yellow arrows) on the stem upper surface over the lip. Further stem repairs would have to be kept on hold till I got back to my work place where I have a couple of superglue tubes for the purpose.  With further stem repairs being on hold, I turned back to the stummel repairs. Using a flat head needle file, I sand the fill till I had achieved a rough match with the surrounding stummel surface. I sand the entire stummel with a piece of 220 grit sand paper to address the dents and dings to the stummel surface and also to further match the fill with the rest of the stummel surface. Though 95% of the scratches and dings have been eliminated, there still remains few very minor dings that are remnants of the deeper ones. I accept these dings as part of this pipe’s journey till date.   I addressed the inner rim darkening to the bevel in the 11 o’clock direction by sanding the inner bevel with the same piece of 220 grit sand paper. To address the dents to the outer rim, I created a slight bevel with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and index finger. The rim top surface definitely looks a lot better at this stage in restoration.    I followed it by wet sanding the stummel with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, wiping frequently with a moist cloth to check the progress. I really like the looks of the stummel at this point in restoration. The grains and the clean lines of this piece of briar is really appreciable.   Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The contrast of the dark browns of the flame and cross grains with the natural finish of the rest of the stummel adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel which may be insufficiently described in words and be rather seen in person. It is the two fills, one to the right and one at the back of the stummel surface that is an eye sore. I shall stain the stummel with a dark brown stain to mask these fills. Now, having rejoined my place of work after a hiatus of four months I need to work real fast to complete my backlogs of write ups and complete the repairs on pipes that were worked on during the lockdown period while at home. I have completed a few and now this pipe has inched forward on to my work table. While packing these pipes for its journey with me, I had noted all the issues that had to be addressed on each pipe. This one needed stem repairs; stem polishing and stummel staining to mask the ugly fills.

I start with stem repairs since these take the longest. Here is how the damage to the stem looks as it sits on my work table. The crack is indicated by yellow arrows and would need to be repaired. The damage to the buttons and the deep tooth indentations that remain after the heating is also clearly visible. Once I have repaired these damages, the entire stem needs to be polished and the stem logo needs to be refreshed. And here I noticed that the super glue tubes that I had stashed before proceeding on leave, had completely dried out on me…. Can’t describe the agony!! So another delay of couple of days and I get delivered CA Wood Glue and not ALL PURPOSE that I always use. This too has contributed to the end results of this restoration.  Continuing with the stem repair, I inserted a triangulated index card covered in transparent tape in to the slot. The tape prevents the mix of superglue and charcoal from sticking to the index card. The moment I inserted the index card, a big chunk of the bite zone, including the button edge just broke off completely. My pain in restoring this pipe is increasing by leaps and bounds… Undaunted by this setback, I persisted with the stem repairs. I mixed superglue and activated charcoal powder and generously applied it over the bite zone, including over the buttons, on either surfaces of the stem and set it aside to cure. Once the fill has hardened, I shall file and sand the fills to match the surface of the stem and sharpen the button edges on either surface. This glue hardens immediately and allowed me only a few seconds of application whereas the all purpose CA superglue allowed me enough time to get an even spread over the damaged surface. The fill had hardened and with a flat head needle file, I worked on the filling till I had achieved a rough match with the surrounding surface and had sufficiently sharpened the button edges. It was at this stage that I noticed something that no pipe restorer is desirous of observing…air pockets in the freshly sanded fills! These air pockets are circled in yellow.   No option here but to redo the entire fill with a mix of charcoal and superglue but with the variation that this time around I mixed very little charcoal. I applied this mix and set the stem aside for the fill to cure.   I sand the stem fills a second time and again these dreaded air pockets surfaced in these same areas. To cut the whole story short, I had to repeat the fill five times with the same results. Finally I got frustrated and continued with the filing and polishing.

I sand the fills with a flat head needle file and reshaped the button, roughly blending the fills with the surrounding stem surface. For a better blending, I further sand the entire stem with 320 followed by 600, 800 and 1000 grit sand paper. This helps to reduce the scratch marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I polished the stem, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. I wiped the stem with moist cloth after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rejuvenate the vulcanite. The finished stem is shown below. Though the air pockets are now not so glaringly visible (if that’s any consolation….), I very well know that they are there and that troubles me no end. Maybe at a later date when someone decides to make this pipe his/ her own, I may rework the stem to make it flawless. Till then, I shall pretend that they don’t exist.  Now that I had made peace with the stem air pockets, I turn my attention to the stummel. As I had commented earlier, the fills are an eye sore against the beautiful grains and coloration of the rest of the stummel and hence to mask it, I decided to stain the bowl using Feibing’s Dark Brown leather dye. I heated the stummel surface with my heat gun to open up the pores on the stummel so that the stain is well set while being careful that I do not overheat the fill, a lesson learned while restoring Steve’s Alexander Zavvos pipe. I dipped a folded pipe cleaner in Feibing’s Dark Brown leather dye and liberally applied it over the heated surface, flaming it with the flame of a lighter as I went ahead to different self designated zones of the surface. This helps in the setting of the stain in the grain of the briar. The next evening, approximately 18 hours later, as Dal describes, I began to unwrap the stain in the hope to see beautiful grains. I mount a felt cloth buffing wheel on my hand held rotary tool and setting the tool at its slowest speed, again my recent experience while working on Steve’s pipe came in handy and the damage that can be caused due to heating while using the felt buffing wheel still fresh in my memory; I began to peel off the stain from the stummel surface first using Red compound. The stain was peeled out gradually. This is where the problem of using very thin superglue for the fill came in to focus. The thin glue had spread and was not noticed until I had stained the stummel and these areas presented themselves as light spots which did not take on the stain. I had reached the end of my tethers and I decided to move ahead with the restoration.   This was followed with wiping the stummel with a cotton swab and alcohol to lighten the stain a little as it was too dark for my liking. This also helps in cleaning the surface of all the residual stain and highlighting the grains. The grains really pop out from under the stain and the fills are hardly discernible. Save for the light spots where the thin glue had spread, I am quite pleased with the appearance of the stummel at this stage.   Next, I mount a fresh cotton cloth buffing wheel and polish the stummel with White Diamond compound. HUGE MISTAKE… the stummel had now taken on darker hues and the grains are now less prominently visible. Is it because of the White Diamond or some other reason, I do not know. The following pictures will help in comparing the stummel after wiping down with alcohol (above pictures) and after applying the White compound.   I have now reached the homestretch in this restoration project. To complete the restoration, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding. This too was a mistake, I feel since the stummel appears too dark with no grains visible at all!! However, the stummel and stem has taken on a nice shine. The only cosmetic, yet important aspect that remained was to refresh the stem logo. I applied a coat of white correction ink over the logo and once dried, I gently wiped it with a cloth. The logo is now clearly visible.  I mount another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks amazingly….dark!! The finished pipe is as shown below. P.S. This then is one project which has not given me the satisfaction that I usually experience after I have completed a restoration. So, if that is the case, then why am I taking the pain to even do the write up and posting it for others to read about my failures?

Well, the reasons are two fold…

Firstly, I am not too concerned with successes or failures. What matters to me is the journey. This project has been a journey of experimenting and learning. This was the first time that I used White Compound after staining and alcohol wipe as I had read that this compound brings in a further transparency to the stain. Well, apparently, this did not work for me. I would definitely like to learn the views of other more experienced professional restorers on the best method of staining and the process thereafter to increase the transparency of the stain.

Secondly, if through my mistakes somebody else is able to derive benefits, then the entire effort was worthwhile. This platform that was made available to me by Steve to learn pipe restoration has helped me immensely to learn the art and this write up is my contribution for a newbie to learn what needs to be avoided.

Thank you for your patience and valuable time in reading this far. Hope all the readers and their loved ones are in the best of health and spirits. Be safe and stay safe in these troubled times.

A Nice Break – a 1971 Dunhill Shell 53 F/T Group 3 Bent Billiard


Breathing Life into a 1971 Dunhill Shell 53 F/T Group 3 Bent Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table came to us from an estate that Jeff and I purchased from an old pipeman in the St. Louis, Missouri in the US. It is a Dunhill Shell Bent Billiard that is in decent condition. It still has the tag in the bowl from the time the older gentleman purchased it. It is stamped on a smooth panel on the underside of the shank. On the heel of the bowl it is stamped with the shape number 53F/T followed by Dunhill Shell [over] Made in England11. That is followed by 3 in a circle followed by S for shell. Interpreting that stamp it is as follows: The 53 is the shape for a bent billiard and the F/T is the stem shape – a Fish Tail stem. The Dunhill Shell is the finish which is corroborated the S at the end of the stamping. The 11 following the D of England gives the date the pipe was made and identifies it as 1971. The stamping is clear and readable. The pipe has a mix of brown stains on a sandblast finish and some amazing grain that the shape follows well. The finish was dirty with dust around the nooks and crannies of the sandblast. The bowl had been reamed and cleaned before the older gentleman purchased it. The stem was lightly oxidized but there were no tooth marks or chatter. The stem has the Dunhill White Spot logo on the top of the taper stem. I took photos of the pipe to show what it looked like before I started working on it. I took photos of the bowl and rim top to show how clean they were and of the stem to show the light oxidation and lack of damages to the surface of the stem on either side.The stamping on the underside of the shank is shown in the photo below. It looks very good and readable. It reads as noted and explained above.I took a photo of the pipe as a whole including the label that was in the bowl when we received it. It is fascinating to see that when he purchased the pipe he paid $300USD for it. He had said he picked it used in the 1970s. The shape number on the tag is incorrect and should read 53 instead of 63. I turned to Pipedia’s section on Dunhill Root Briar to get a bit of background on the Duhill finishes (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill#Root_Briar). I quote:

Shell

A deep craggy sandblast with a black stain finish (usually made using Algerian briar) – the color of the stain used has varied over the years. Although there is some doubt as to them being the first to sandblast pipes, Dunhill’s Shell pipes, and the sandblasting techniques developed to create them are considered one of Dunhill’s greatest and most lasting contributions to the art of pipe making.

The documented history of Dunhill’s inception of the Shell is largely limited to patent applications — there are no catalog pages or advertisements promoting blasted pipes at the time. The preliminary work on the English patent (No. 1484/17) was submitted on October 13, 1917. The patent submission was completed half a year later, on April 12, 1918, followed by the granting of the English patent on October 14, 1918. This was less than a month before the end of The Great War on November 11th.

In 1986 Dunhill released a line of premium Shell finish pipes – “RING GRAIN”. These are high-quality straight grain pipes which are sandblasted. Initially only Ring Grain, but now in two different finishes. In 1995 the “Shilling” was introduced with Cumberland finish – it is an extremely rare series. These pipes exhibit a deeper blast characteristic of that of the 1930’s – mid-1960’s (and the limited ‘deep blast’ pipes of the early 1980s) and show a fine graining pattern. These are considered the best new Dunhills by many enthusiasts today and are very rare. The finish is sometimes described as tasting like vanilla at first, with the taste becoming more normal or good as the pipe breaks in.

I have also included a chart from the site from Dunhill spelling out the Standard Pipe Finishes and giving short information and a timeline.I turned to work on the pipe itself. It was very clean with just some dust on the finish. The stem was going to take a bit of work but the bowl was quite simple. The bowl had been reamed and cleaned and the shank was spotless. If the pipe had been smoked at all it was lightly smoked and did not even smell of tobacco. So I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to work it into the nooks and crannies of the sandblast finish. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 10 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The briar really comes alive with the balm. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. Because it was in such good condition I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.  This Dunhill Shell 53F/T Bent Billiard is a beautiful sandblast with the unique Dunhill Sandblast finish made in 1971. It is a great looking pipe that is in almost new condition. The dark finish that is identified as a black stain highlights some great grain around the bowl sides and the heel. It has some great rugged sandblast that Dunhill specialized in making. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and the stain works well to highlight the grain. The polished black vulcanite taper stem adds to the mix. With the dust gone from the finish and the bowl it was a beauty and is eye-catching. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel being careful to not buff the stamping. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished 53 F/T Bent Billiard is quite nice and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that like the other pipes I am working that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 5/8 of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. This pipe will be added to the British Pipe Makers section of the rebornpipes store soon. If you want to add it to your collection send me an email or a message! Thanks for your time.

Life for a Republic Era Irish Second Bent Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to me from one of our estate purchases. Between us we pick up quite a few pipes for restoration. I try to work them into the restoration queue so that I can keep them moving. This next one is from our ongoing hunt – a beautifully grained bent apple with a thick shank and a tapered vulcanite stem. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Irish Seconds and on the right side reads Made in the Republic of Ireland. It is obviously a Peterson’s second. In the photos you can see the large fills on the lower left side of the bowl. The finish had a lot of grime ground into the finish on the bowl. The bowl was thickly caked with an overflowing lava coat on the top of the rim. The edges looked to be in good condition though there is some possible damage under the lava. The stem was oxidized, calcified, dirty and had tooth chatter and some deep marks on the top and underside near the button. There were not markings or a logo on the taper stem. It had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the overflow of lava on the rim top. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the oxidation and the chatter and tooth marks.     Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some stunning grain under the grime.  He also took a photo of the large fill on the front left side of the bowl. Lots of putty in that area.He took photos of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable.     I turned to Pipedia to read the article on Irish Seconds (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Irish_Seconds). I quote it below in full.

Irish Second pipes begin life alongside Peterson pipes in Dublin, but at some point a flaw appears making future life as one of those celebrated pipes impossible. At this point the pipes were roughly finished, given a standard vulcanite stem instead of a P-Lip, and stamped only with “Irish Second” and “Made in the Republic of Ireland”. These pipes were sold at a far more affordable rate than Peterson pipes, but are believed to no longer be sold new.

I knew from previous research that the pipe was made in the Republic Era – the years between 1950 – 1989 because of the Republic of Ireland stamp. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.    The bowl and rim top cleaned up really well with the lava coat removed. The inner edge of the rim was in good condition.  The stem surface had some oxidation and some tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.    I took photos of the stamping (though a little out of focus) are clear and read the same as noted above.I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is tapered and narrow.Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. I decided to address the damaged fills on the lower left side of the bowl first. I took a photo of the area before I began my work. The fill was actually quite solid with some damaged areas and some shrinkage. I sanded the areas and wiped them down with alcohol to clean up any loose fill material. I filled in those areas with a clear super glue.   Once the patches cured I sanded them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and began polishing them with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. It really made a difference in that they were smooth and no longer pink in colour!  I wiped the bowl down with acetone to remove the stain around the bowl and prepare it for a new stain coat.   I restained it with Light Brown aniline stain. I applied the stain and lit it with a Bic lighter to flame the stain. It burns the alcohol off the surface and sets the stain in the grain.   I wiped the bowl down with alcohol and cotton pads to gain some transparency on the stained bowl. I also wanted the grain to stand out.    I buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to raise a shine on the bowl. The grain really stands out now that it is polished. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The stain brings the rich reddish brown tone to life. It is a nice looking pipe. I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I “painted” the surface of the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the tooth marks in the stem surface. The flame did an excellent job of raising the marks to the surface. I would only need to polish out the oxidation on the stem and not need to do a lot of sanding.   Because the oxidation was mostly on the surface and the tooth damage had been minimized I could immediately move ahead to polishing the stem. I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.   This Peterson’s Made Republic Era Irish Second Bent Apple vulcanite stem is turned out to be a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Irish Second Bent Apple fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Life for a British Made Nilsson Supreme Sandblast Bent Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to me from one of our estate purchases. Between us we pick up quite a few pipes for restoration. I try to work them into the restoration queue so that I can keep them moving. This next one is from our ongoing hunt – a beautifully sandblast apple or maybe a billiard with a tapered vulcanite stem. The pipe is stamped on the underside of the shank and reads Nilsson Supreme [over] Made in London England. The finish had a lot of grime ground into the sandblast finish on the bowl and some darkening around the rim top and edges. The bowl was thickly caked with an overflowing lava coat on the top of the rim. The edges looked to be in good condition though there is some possible damage on the back  inner edge of the rim top. The stem was oxidized, calcified, dirty and had tooth chatter and some deep marks on the top and underside near the button. The button itself was also worn down on both sides. There were not markings or a logo on the taper stem. It had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work.  He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the overflow of lava on the rim top. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the chatter and tooth marks. Otherwise the stem is quite clean.   Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some stunning grain under the grime.    He took photos of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable.  I checked my usual sources of information for the brand and came up empty handed. Neither Pipedia or Pipephil had anything. I am convinced it is a second line from possibly Charatan or even GBD but there are no shape numbers to help. So I will leave it at that unless some of you who are reading the blog have some information.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamaer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.    The bowl and rim top cleaned up really well with the lava coat removed. The inner edge of the rim had some damage at the back right otherwise it was in good condition.  The stem surface was rough with some remaining oxidation and some deep tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The surface of the button was also worn down.      I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is tapered and narrow.Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damage to the back edge of the rim. I gave the entire rim edge a slight bevel to blend in the damaged area with the rest of the bowl and make sure it was as close to round as possible.    I cleaned the rim top with some undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap on a paper towel to remove the remaining grime and sanding dust. The rim top definitely looks better. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The sandblast finish looks very good. The briar has a rich reddish brown tone to it. I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I filled in the damaged stem surface with black super glue and rebuilt the button surface and edges at the same time. Once the repair cured I smoothed it out with a needle file. I finished shaping button and blending in the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper. I also worked on the stubborn oxidation with the sandpaper.  I started the polishing of the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.   I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.   This English Made Nilsson Supreme Sandblast Bent Apple with a vulcanite stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Nilsson Supreme fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!  

Life for an American Made Classic – A Bertram Washington DC 60 Pot


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to me from one of our estate purchases. Between us we pick up quite a few pipes for restoration. I try to work them into the restoration queue so that I can keep them moving. We picked up over 120 Bertram pipes from an estate that a fellow on the east coast of the US was selling. This next one is from that estate – a beautifully grained Pot 60 Grade Bertram with a tapered vulcanite stem. The pipe is stamped on the left side with the Grade 60 number and just above that it reads Bertram [over] Washington D.C. The finish had a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the bowl and some darkening around the sides of the bowl. The bowl was thickly caked with an overflowing lava coat on the top of the rim. The edges looked to be in good condition. The stem was oxidized, calcified, dirty and had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There were not markings or a logo on the taper stem. It had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work.   He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the overflow of lava on the rim top. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the chatter and tooth marks. Otherwise the stem is quite clean.    Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some stunning grain under the grime.   He took photos of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable.   As I have worked on Bertrams I have written on the brand and have included the following information. If you have read it in past blogs, you can skip over it. If you have not, I have included the link to Bertram history and information. I would recommend that if you don’t know much about them take some time to read the background. I include a link to the write up on Pipedia (http://pipedia.org/wiki/Bertram). Bertram pipes were based out of Washington DC. They were popular among famous politicians and celebrities of the time. They made many products for them from FDR’s cigarette holders to Joseph Stalin’s favorite pipe. They were considered some of the best America had to offer till they finally closed their doors in the 70s. Bertram graded their pipes by 10s and sometimes with a 5 added (15, 25, 55 etc.), the higher the grade the better. Above 60s are uncommon and 80-90s are quite rare. I have worked on one 120 Grade billiard. I have several blogs that I have written on rebornpipes that give some history and background to Bertram pipes. (https://rebornpipes.com/2015/06/16/an-easy-restoration-of-a-bertram-grade-60-217-poker/).

I have included the following link to give a bit of historical information on the pipe company. It is a well written article that gives a glimpse of the heart of the company. http://www.streetsofwashington.com/2012/01/bertrams-pipe-shop-on-14th-street.html#

From this information I learned that all of these Bertrams were made before the closure of the shop in the 1970s. This Bertram Pot with stunning grain has no fills around the bowl or shank. This pipe has a 60 Grade stamp on it which I am sure explains the quality of the briar.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamaer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.  The rim top cleaned up really well with the lava coat removed. The inner and outer edge of the rim looked to be in excellent condition.  The stem surface looked very good with a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.      I took photos of the stamping on the shank. The Bertram Washington DC is on the left side of the shank toward the top. Lower on the shank it is stamped with the Grade 60 number.  I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is tapered and narrow.    Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth.  I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.     I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I “painted” the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the tooth marks. I was able to lift the majority of them. The ones on the top side came up easily. On the underside next to the button there was one remaining mark. I filled it in with clear super glue. Once the repair cured I smoothed it out with a needle file. I finished shaping it with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it into the button and sharpen the edge.    I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.   This Bertram Washington DC 60 Pot with a vulcanite stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Bertram 60 Pot fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!  

Breathing Life into a Hexagonal Meerschaum with a Bakelite Stem


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to me from one of our estate purchases. Between us we pick up quite a few pipes for restoration. I try to work them into the restoration queue so that I can keep them moving. This next one is a smooth hexagonal block meerschaum pipe with a yellow Bakelite stem. The there is no stamping on the pipe. The finish had a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the bowl and there was definitely some patina developing in the shank, heel and one side of the bowl. The bowl was caked with a light lava coat on the top of the rim. The edges looked to be in good condition. There were a lot of scratches in the meerschaum on all sides and the top of the bowl. The stem was in dirty and had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There were not markings or a logo on the taper stem. It had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work.   He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the overflow of lava on the rim top. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the chatter and tooth marks. Otherwise the stem is quite clean.  Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the meerschaum looked like. It is a well carved hexagon. Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.  The rim top cleaned up really well with the lava coat removed. The inner and outer edge of the bowl looked to be in excellent condition.  The panel on the left side had some darkening and a few stain spots. The stem surface looked very good with a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.    I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is tapered and narrow.Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. I polished the scratches in the meer and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth.  I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the meerschaum. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.     I rubbed the bowl down with Clapham’s Beeswax Polish. I let it dry on the meerschaum and then buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth. It really adds some depth to the finish.  I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. It was in good condition and the tooth marks were light so I figured they would polish out fairly easily. I polished the Bakelite/amberoid stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.        This Hexagonal Meerschaum Billiard with a Bakelite/amberoid stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Hexagonal Meerschaum fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 inch wide x 1 ½ inches long, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

A Fresh Lease On Life For a Castello Sea Rock ‘A’


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I had restored a Castello Sea Rock from my inherited pipe lot, my first Castello pipe, last year while Steve, Jeff and Dal Stanton had visited me in Pune, India (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/06/07/a-simple-restoration-of-a-castello-sea-rock-briar-56-f-pipe-with-steve-and-jeff-laug/)

Since then after I had smoked this pipe, I always wanted to lay my hands on another Castello. They are fantastic smokers, I say. However, the prices of Castello pipes had gone through the roof and to some extent, beyond reach. During one of my search on eBay for estate pipes, I came across this Castello Sea Rock pipe that was being sold for a considerably lesser price and it had the option for Best Offer. The long and short of it is that my best offer was accepted by the seller and the pipe made its way to Abha, my wife. That this pipe was being sold for such a low price was a pointer that there were issues with this pipe, but what exact issues and the extent of these issues was neither described by the seller nor were they visible in the pictures provided by the seller.

The pipe with its large Billiard bowl and a triangular shank looks beautiful. The stummel has deep and craggy rustications that feel tactile in the hand. The shank end is adorned with a gold/ brass band that add a touch of classy bling to the appearance of the pipe. The flat lower surface of the stummel is smooth and bears the stampings on this pipe. It is stamped as “CASTELLO” over “SEA ROCK BRIAR” followed by the letter “A”. Towards the shank end, it is stamped as “MADE IN CANTU” over “ITALY” over “HAND MADE”. Stamped at the very end of the shank and partially covered by the gold/ brass band is “CARLO SCOTTI” in an oval.  The triangular Lucite stem is stamped on the lower flat surface as “HAND MADE” over “CASTELLO” over code “# 3”.  The trademark WHITE BAR adorns the upper surface of the stem.    I had researched this brand extensively when I had worked on my first Castello, link for which I have provided at the very beginning of this write up. In order to establish the provenance of this pipe, I revisited the Briar Blues site where a detailed history and dating guide is available for the discerning reader. I have reproduced the entire article here for posterity as the external link provided on pipedia.org did not work.

https://briarblues.com/castello/

CASTELLO – DATING & INFORMATION GUIDE

NEW INFORMATION JUST IN – The very first pipes made by Carlo Scotti were in 1936 in Switzerland!!!

1947 – Carlo Scotti begins the company. In the beginning (1947 – 1949, maybe 1950 ) the pipes were stamped Mi Reserva ( my reserve ). Later the Reg No was added. This Reg No has nothing to do with shape numbers, but is merely the Castello company trademark.

Vulcanite stems used until? This is an interesting question. From early Castello pipe advertising from the Wally Frank and later Hollco Rohr companies it says the pipe comes with Vulcanite stems. However the photos appear to have pipes with Lucite stems. To our knowledge no one has yet seen a Vulcanite stemmed Castello with the faux diamond logo inset.

The Old Sea Rock and the Sea Rock co-existed. As far as I know, the OSR was US only, imported by Hollco Rohr, and sported the rhinestone. The Sea Rock goes back to the early days.

There was an Antiquari (not Old Antiquari) that was also a Hollco import, and was fume top and rusticated. I think it was only around for a couple of years.

Stem logo’s. White bar, black dot, and faux diamond. The first stem logo was the white bar. However once Castello began it’s working relationship with The Wally Frank Co a different stem logo was required, as The Wally Frank Co had a line of pipes named White Bar.

The faux diamond logo was created and used primarily for the US market for many years.

Castello still occasionally put rhinestones in the mouthpieces, just to maintain it’s value as a trademark. It’s not on many pieces. The black dot logo is used on Castello pipes with white Lucite stems.

Shape numbers. Shape numbers are all 2 digits. A 2 in front indicates a “fancy” interpretation, a 3 in front means that the carving is somehow unique. I don’t know when the change was made, but currently, a π symbol is used instead of the 3xx.  It may be seen on a variety of finishes, that may have a unique carved section or some other interesting feature.

Hollco Rohr begins distribution in the mid to late 1960’s when they take over the Wally Frank Company.

Big Line – stamp used from 1968 – 1972. Replaced by Great Line, although still used on huge pipes.

Colored Lucite stems – used in the 1970’s and on occasion today although the material is difficult to find.

Pre K grading. Late 1950’s to mid 1960’s the pipe carried stamps which indicted sizes. These were as follows; SA, SB, SC, and SS. SA being the smallest and SS the largest.

K grading begins. In 1969 Franco ( Kino ) Coppo joins the firm. In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s the company began the use of the K grading. The upper case large K, was used for non smooth pipes to designate size. For smooth pipes to indicate a combination of grain quality and size. These are also the years that Castello switched from machine made pipes that were hand finished to completely hand made pipes.

Switch from large K to small k in an oval. In 1982 the company changed from the use of the large upper case K grading to a small lower case k within an oval ( 2 k or greater ) or circle for single k grades.

1984 – 1985 Franco ( Kino ) Coppo takes over the running of the firm. The Kino “knickname” given to Franco by Carlo Scotti, and is a shortened version of his full birth name, Franchino.

The Natural Vergin were issued in 1967 first but only in 1985 they started to be produced in series only on the natural carved pipes.

1987 – the 40th anniversary Castello begins the number within a castle stamp. The number added to 1947 gives the year of pipe creation. ie 50 within a castle = 1947 + 50 = 1997.

1992 – Carlo Scotti passes away.

US stamp begin in 1997

KINO stamp begin in 2007 – 60th anniversary. Kino is Franco Coppo’s nick name.

X – stamped on pipe. This stamp is added to pipes that are picked up directly at the factory by customers. Indicates a “friendship” pipe.

Ever wonder where your pipe came from? Which shop had it first? If so, read below;

N1 = Novelli ( Italy )
N = Noli ( Italy )
F = Fincato ( Italy )
LO = Lorenzi ( Italy ) ( this shop has closed and they used to add a * on every pipe )
B = Bonfiglioli ( Italy )
BO = Bollito ( Italy )
B15 = Bollito ( Italy )
V = Agide ( Italy )
SO = Tabaccheria Scarafioffi ( Italy )
JO = Osstermann ( Austria )
R3 = Ruocco Raffaella of Savona ( Italy )
L – Lanzola ( Italy )
US = sold into the US via the US Castello agent
A = “Amicizia” or friendship. That is the stamping for the pipes given for free to friends. It is quite rare.
LOB = is part of a large collection that the factory just re-purchased and they stamped with LOB (Legendary old briar)

The information gathered on this page comes from a variety of sources on the internet and through emails and conversations. I’d like to Thank these gentlemen for their help; Marco Parascenzo, Franco Coppo ( via Marco ), Greg Pease, Mike Penix, Bob Hamlin, Chris Jones, Mike McCain, and Mike Davis

Current finishes, grades, & SRP in US dollars;

Castello US prices have not increased since 2012!!
Sea Rock Briar – carved finish – various stains
k 380.00, kk 395.00, kkk 405.00, kkkk 425.00, G 450.00, GG 550.00, GL 615.00 & GGG 615.00
Old Antiquari – sand blast – various stains
k 415.00, kk 415.00, kkk 450.00, kkkk 450.00, G 530.00, GG 675.00, & GL 675.00
Trademark – smooth – various stains
k 430.00, kk 430.00, kkk 480.00, kkkk 480.00, G 500.00, GG 660.00, & GL 660.00
“Castello” – smooth – various stains
kk 550.00, kkkk 590.00, G 600.00, GG 690.00, & GL 690.00
Perla Nera – smooth polished black
k 560.00 & kk 590.00
Collection – smooth – various stains
k 595.00, kk 655.00, kkk 750.00, kkkk 825.00
Occho di Pernice – smooth – graded birds eye
k 685.00, kk 750.00, kkk 800.00, kkkk 855.00
Aristocratica – smooth – fumed rim
Trade Mark – 595.00, “Castello” – 690.00, Collection – 865.00, Collection Great Line – 910.00
Castello Collection Fiammata – 1090.00, Collect Great Line Fiammata – 1545.00
Dune – carved
k – ???.00, kk – ???.00
Big Line – various grades
Sea Rock – ???.00 Old Antiquari – 900.00, “Castello” – ???.00, Collection, ???.00
Collection Great Line – smooth – free style
k 780.00, kk 850.00, kkk 1000.00, kkkk 1270.00
Collection Fiammata – smooth – graded straight grains
k 970.00, kk 1150.00, kkkk 1270.00, kkkk 1600.00
Collection Great Line Fiammata – smooth straight grain free style
k 1660.00, kk 2300.00, kkk 3100.00, kkkk 3780.00
Special Series – Cavallo, Riso, etc
Sea Rock 765.00, Old Antiquari 810.00, Trademark 950.00, Castello 1050.00,
Collection 13000.00, Occhio di pernice 1300.00, Fiammata 1455.00
Preziosa ( semi precious stone floc )
Perla Nera 950.00, Castello 980.00, Collection 1180.00, Collection GL 1390.00,
Madreperla 1545.00, Fiammata 1700.00

Options

briar shank or stem application + 75.00
silver floc or band + 90.00
18 k gold band + 500.00 – now a very rare addition, due to gold cost
18k gold band with lacquer inlay + 500.00
silver pin / nail + 160.00
common stone inlay + 105.00
special pi trim + 55.00

From the above, it is evident that the pipe currently on my work table is from an early time period of Castello pipe making as evidenced by the stamp of SEA ROCK and WHITE BAR. That this pipe is stamped with the letter “A” is indicative that it was given for free to friends and IT IS VERY RARE. Lady luck smiled upon me during this purchase for sure!!

Initial Visual Inspection
This pipe has a large bowl with a depth of 2 ¾ inch. The chamber has an even layer of thick hard cake. There is a heavy overflow of lava over the rim top surface. The rim top has darkened considerably. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber and the inner edge can be commented upon after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. The ghost smells in the chamber are not very strong.The deeply rusticated stummel surface has a very beautiful texture and is covered in dust and grime. The fact that the rustications are dusty and filled with dirt is accentuated more due to the contrast of dark and medium brown stains on the stummel and the shank. The briar is looking lifeless and bone dry and has taken on black dull hues. The smooth bottomed shank that bears all the stummel stampings, has deep scratches akin to road rash marks.The mortise was full of oils, tars and gunk and air flow was restricted. The shank end gold band made me wonder if it was a shank repair band or otherwise. However, the shank has no cracks and hence it is definitely an original adornment. The seating of the stem in to the mortise is not flush. This could be either a result of the accumulated gunk and grime in the mortise or incorrect drilling of the mortise (unlikely on a Castello though!) or a bent stem tenon.The high quality Lucite stem is nice and shiny. Some minor tooth chatter and a couple of deeper bite marks are seen on both the upper and lower stem surfaces in the bite zone. The tenon end had accumulated oils/ tars that had dried out on the inside as well as on the outside. The horizontal slot is filled with grime that will have to be addressed.Initial Cleaning By Abha…
The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 40-50 pipes and these have now reached me for further restoration). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

Next she cleaned out the internals of the stem air way and immersed it in “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution along with the stem of other pipes in line for restoration. Once the stem had soaked overnight, she cleaned the stem under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using Scotch Brite pad. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stem.

The Process
Finally back at my work place… After enjoying a compulsory extended leave of three months with family and having honed my culinary and domestic chores skill set, I was happy to rejoin my duty and get back to completing the pending pipe restorations.

I start this project by addressing the tooth chatter and bite marks on both the surfaces in the bite zone. Since this was a Lucite stem, heating the bite zone with the flame of a lighter would have damaged the stem further; hence, I filled the deeper bite marks with a mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal and set it aside to cure.Once the fills had cured, using a flat needle file, I reshaped the button and roughly matched the fills with the rest of the stem surface. I further fine tuned the match by sanding the filled area with a folded piece of 320 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger. I followed it up by sanding the entire stem surface using 400, 600, 800 and finally with a piece of 1000 grit sand papers. This serves to reduce the sanding marks of the more abrasive sand papers. I also sharpened the button edges while sanding. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the sanding dust from the surface. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil over the stem to impart a shine.To bring a deep shine to the Lucite stem, I polished it by wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. I wiped the stem with a moist cloth and rubbed it down with “Before and After Extra Fine Polish” to remove the minor scratches left behind by the sand paper while polishing the stem to a nice black glossy shine. The finished stem is shown below. I took a closer look at the walls of the chamber to ascertain the condition of the chamber. To my chagrin, I noticed a distinct line (marked with yellow arrows) extending for about an inch from the inner rim edge in to the chamber. It was the beginning of a heat fissure and from the point of origin (circled in green), there were other two heat lines (marked with blue arrows) extending roughly perpendicular to the first. However, these heat lines were very minor and extremely superficial while the one that moved up towards the rim was slightly deeper. I checked the external stummel surface under bright light and magnification for any corresponding crack. It was heartening to note that there were none! I thoroughly checked the rim top surface and was relieved to note that there is no damage.With my sharp dental pick, I probed and removed all the charred briar wood from the crack. It was a big relief to note that the crack did not go all the way to the outside of the stummel. Here are a couple of close up pictures of the crack to the chamber wall. I conferred with my Guru and mentor, Steve, over Face Time video call and after seeing the crack, he concurred that it was best to fill just the crack inside the chamber with J B Weld followed by a coating of activated charcoal and yogurt to the entire chamber for further protection. Before proceeding with further repairs, I thoroughly cleaned the rim top to completely remove the lava overflow from the rim top surface Murphy’s Oil soap and a brass wired brush. To protect the crack from coming in to direct contact with the burning tobacco and also to prevent the heat from reaching the external crack to the stummel and causing a burnout, I plan, firstly, to fill only the crack of the chamber with J B Weld followed by a second coat of activated charcoal and yogurt to the entire chamber which would assist in faster cake formation. J B Weld is a two-part epoxy Cold Weld that consists of two parts; hardener and steel which are mixed in equal parts in a ratio of 1:1 with hardening time of 5-6 minutes and complete curing time of 6-8 hours. I poured the contents of the two tubes and mixed it well. With a flat bamboo frond, I applied this mix and filled the intended crack. I worked fast to ensure a complete and even filling of the crack and set the stummel aside for the J B Weld to harden.By the next afternoon when I got back to working on this pipe, the J B Weld coat had completely cured and hardened completely. With a folded piece of 150 grit sandpaper, I sand the weld coating to a smooth surface till I had as thin a coat as was essential to protect and insulate the crack from the direct heat of the burning tobacco. The Weld coat has completely covered only the crack and the point of origin which can be seen as a thin line. I am very pleased with the repairs at this stage. Next issue to be addressed was that of the numerous deep road rash marks that were seen to the flat lower surface of the stummel. With a folded piece of 180 followed by 600 and 800 grit sand paper, I diligently sand away the road rash marks from the lower flat surface of the stummel taking care that the stampings are preserved in total. I followed it up by polishing the surface by wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. Though the road rash marks are not completely eliminated, they are greatly reduced. The road rash marks to the gold band are now distinctly visible in the last picture. The last issue that needed to be addressed before final polishing was that of the seating of the stem tenon in to mortise. The pictures below will give the readers an idea of the issue that I needed to address.    I checked the drilling of the mortise and it was perfect as expected. Next I checked the shank face and the gold band for unevenness but it was nice even and the band sat flush with the shank face. But yes, the seated stem in the mortise had some play in the fitting. I conferred with Steve on Face Time and he asked me to hold the stem upright with tenon side up. Immediately, it was apparent to both of us that the tenon had bent a little and was off center. To address this, I heated the tenon with the flame of a lighter till it was slightly pliable and carefully seated the tenon in to the mortise. Once completely seated, I adjusted the alignment and held the stem in place till the tenon had cooled down sufficiently. Again, though the seating is not perfectly flushed, the alignment of the stem and shank is near perfect. It has to be understood that we pipe restorers are undertaking repairs to the existing damages to make them functional again and not making new pipes, though we do strive for that kind of perfection. All said, I am quite pleased with this repair.  I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The dark browns of the raised portions of the sandblast contrasts beautifully with the rest of the dark stummel and makes for a visual treat. It really is a nice piece of briar. To protect the J B Weld coated crack from the direct heat of the burning tobacco, I coat the complete chamber walls with a mix of activated charcoal and yogurt and set it aside to harden naturally.To put the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding.    Next, I mount another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax to impart a nice gloss to the finish. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. Lastly, I polish the gold band with a jeweler’s cloth to a nice and radiant shine.  The rustications on this finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and coupled with the brand, vintage, rarity and the contrast that the gold band imparts, makes it quite a desirable pipe. This pipe shall be joining my small collection of Castellos to be admired and be happy that I have restored it to its former beauty and functionality. P.S. Just out of curiosity, I took the stummel to my family goldsmith to check if at all the band at the shank end was gold or a brass made band. I was pleasantly surprised to be told that it was indeed an 18 carat gold band!! I am sure whoever the “FRIEND” was that received a Castello pipe with an 18 carat gold band had to be someone very dear to Carlo Scotti!! If only the pipe could tell me all about this friend…      

I wish to thank each one for sparing their valuable time to read through this write up and each one is always in my prayers. Stay home…stay safe!!

Breathing Life into a Mehaffey Pipe Shop R4 Acorn


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to me from one of our estate purchases. Between us we pick up quite a few pipes for restoration. I try to work them into the restoration queue so that I can keep them moving. This next on is an interesting looking piece – a smooth oil finished Acorn shaped pipe. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads R4 followed by Mehaffey and on the right side it is stamped R4. The finish had a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the briar. The bowl was heavily caked with a lava coat on the top of the rim. The edges looked to be in good condition. There were some flaws in the briar on the heel toward the front that would need to be cleaned up. The stem was in dirty but not oxidized and had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There were not markings or a logo on the taper stem. It had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work.   He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the overflow of lava on the rim top. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the chatter and tooth marks. Otherwise the stem is quite clean.  Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar looked like. There is some nice grain around the sides. You can also see the flaws in the final close up photo of the heel.   The stamping on the left and right sides of the shank are clear and readable and read as noted above. I turned to Pipephil to find if there as any information included on the brand. There was nothing listed. I turned then to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Mehaffey). There was limited information there on the brand.

E.A. Mehaffey operated a pipe & tobacco shop in Wheaton, Maryland. He used to make pipes for many years but as legend has it, his house tobacco mixtures were much more prestigious than his pipes. Mehaffey was in business up to the 1980’s.

I also turned to a previous blog on rebornpipes that wrote earlier (https://rebornpipes.com/tag/e-a-mehaffey-pipe-tobacco-shop-in-wheaton-maryland/). In that blog I quoted a previous blog by Dal Stanton on the brand and it confirmed what I noted above. I quote from there.

Dal Stanton who has written blogs for rebornpipes had worked on one Mehaffey pipe so I turned to that blog to see what he had found previously (https://rebornpipes.com/tag/e-a-mehaffey-pipe-tobacco-shop-in-wheaton-maryland/). I followed the link on the blog and turned to Pipedia to see if there was any additional information added since Dal had been there previously (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Mehaffey). There was not much information available but I quote what was there in full.

While this statement does not engender enthusiasm for E. A. Mehaffey’s pipe production, the Acorn with a Natural finish is a very nice piece of briar. Both sides of the bowl show a mix of grains. On the front of the bowl there is some nice flame grain and on the back some swirls of grain. This is a beautifully styled and positioned Acorn shape has a tapered vulcanite stem that fits proportionally well. Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it. The rim top cleaned up really well. There is one flaw/fill on the front of the rim top. The inner and outer edge of the bowl looked to be in excellent condition. The stem surface looked very good with a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.    The stamping on both sides of the shank is clear and readable. The left side is stamped with an R4 followed by Mehaffey. On the right side of the shank it is also stamped with R4. On the left side the 4 was stamped as a superscript and on the right side it was stamped with a subscript 4.   I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is tapered and narrow.Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. I filled in some flaws in the briar on the front of the heel with clear super glue. The flaws had twisted shapes and turns as noted above so I did not use briar dust.   I polished the repaired areas and the rest of the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth.  I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The grain has come alive.    I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. It was in good condition and the tooth marks were light so I figured they would polish out fairly easily. I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.        This Acorn R4 pipe from E.A. Mehaffey Pipe & Tobacco Shop in Wheaton, Maryland is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. It really is a piece of pipe shop history as more and more of them disappear. The smooth oil cured finish around the bowl is quite beautiful and highlights the grain and works well with the polished vulcanite taper stem. The repaired flaws in the heel of the bowl are still visible but are now smooth to touch. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Mehaffey R4 Acorn fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Breathing Life into a mixed finish Serafini Oom Paul


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to me from Jeff’s pipe hunts or auction purchases. Between us we pick up quite a few pipes from our hunts. I try work them into the restoration queue so that I can keep them moving. This next on is an interesting looking piece – a mixed finish Oom Paul shape (smooth panels and shank with a rusticated body to the pipe). The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Serafini. The finish had a lot of grime ground into rustication and the smooth finish on the briar. The bowl was heavily caked with a lava coat on the top of the rusticated rim. It was hard to tell how the inner edge of the rim actually looked until the bowl was reamed. The stem was in oxidized and had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There were not markings or logo on the fancy turned stem. It had promise but it was very dirty. I took some photos of the pipe before I started my cleanup work.   I took a photo of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the overflow of lava on the rim top. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the chatter and tooth marks. Otherwise the stem is quite clean.  The stamping on the left side of the shank is clear and readable and reads as noted above. The stem does not seat properly in the shank. You can see that in both the photos above and the one below. I did some searching on the internet in my other sources Pipedia and Pipephil to see if I could find any information on the brand. Unfortunately there was nothing on either site regarding the brand. I did some hunting on the word Serafini and found that it means the burning ones and refers to a type of celestial or heavenly being in the Abrahamic Religions. It is also a common Italian family name. Other than that the make of the pipe was not clear. Can any of you who are reading this shed some light on the brand??

I reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer with the third cutting head. I took the cake back to bare briar and removed the rest of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I sanded the walls of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around piece of dowel.  I scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. I worked the soap into the rustication of the briar with the tooth brush. I rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. The soap also removed a lot of the shellac finish on the smooth portions of the bowl and shank.    The varnish or shellac coat was pealing. I wiped the smooth portions of the bowl and shank down with acetone on a cotton pad. I was able to remove remnants of the shiny coat with the acetone. I took a photo of the shank end to show the crack at the top of the shank. It was tight but nonetheless very present. I went through my bag of bands and found a copper/brass band that would bind the crack and not cover any of the stamping on the shank. I used a tooth pick to coat the shank end with all-purpose white glue. I pressed the band in place on the shank and took photos of the newly banded shank. I cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners.I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. You can see the sparkle in the rustication surfaces as the light hits them.  I sanded out the tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem at the button. I also sanded the oxidation on the stem surface with both 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.      This Serafini Oom Paul is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The mix of finishes – smooth portions and and rusticated finish around the panels. The combination of brown stains makes the smooth panesl and rustication almost sparkle and works well with the polished vulcanite taper stem. The polished brass band/end cap looked great with the briar and the vulcanite. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Serafini Oom Paul fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!