Converting a Streamliner Metal Pipe bowl to fit a Kirsten Pipe

Blog by Doug Bisbee

Doug has been a reader of rebornpipes for a while now and he emailed me some work he had done fitting/converting a bowl from a Streamliner Metal Pipe bowl to fit a Kirsten Pipe. He sent me a series of photos of incredibly shiny bowls that are converted to fit a Kirsten just to show me what could be done. I was so impressed with the quality of his work that I wrote and asked him to put together a blog on how he achieved the shine and how he did the conversion of any metal bowls to fit a Kirsten barrel. He sent me the following step by step procedure using the bowl from a Streamliner. It is a pleasure to have Doug write this for rebornpipes and share not only his expertise but also his work. Doug sent me a step by step procedure that I have included below with a few of my own details. If you have a metal pipe or bowl you would like him to convert, you can email Doug at the following email address:, and he will do the conversion for you. He also has bowls for sale that he has already converted.


STEP#1 Bowls that are held in place with a center screw are the ones that work most easily. On this Streamline used to illustrate the process the bowl was held in place on the metal base with a center screw. The screw is not the same size as the one used to hold a Kirsten bowl on the base.  Remove bowl from the shank of the Streamliner pipe a with screwdriver. C1 C2STEP #2 To begin the process of fitting the Streamliner bowl to a Kirsten base the hole in the bottom of the metal bowl needs to be enlarged with a letter “O” drill bit.

STEP #3 Once the hole has been enlarged in the metal bowl with the “O” drill bit the hole in the briar bowl also needs to be enlarged with a 1/4-inch drill bit. (I do this by hand).C3STEP #4 The bowl in the photo below is from a different metal bowl but the principle is the same. After drilling the bottom of the bowl to open the screw hole it is time to sand and refinish the top of the bowl rim (I use Tung oil).C4STEP #5 I order Kirsten adapters from Kirsten in Seattle (Kirsten Pipe Company, 910 Lenora Street, Suite 156, Seattle, WA 98121) or they can be ordered online on their website at this link: You will need both the adapter and a long screw.

I like to polish the Kirsten bowl adapter so it matches the shine of the finished bowl. I do the buffing on a buffing wheel (spiral sewn & air flex) with brown compound. I also polish the outside of the metal bowl on the wheel.C5 C6 C7A neat trick that I use to polish in the grooves of the bowl is put the end of a pipe cleaner in the vice, smear metal polish on the pipe cleaner and hold the other end of the pipe cleaner in your hand pulling it tight and keep rubbing the bowl over and over it with the pipe cleaner in the groove of the bowl… it takes a long time but works very well. I use Mothers Polishing Compound for this.C8 C9STEP #6 After the polishing the bowl is ready to fit on the Kirsten Pipe base. C10 C11STEP #7 After polishing the bowl and adapter I put the Kirsten adapter on bottom of bowl. I put briar bowl in metal bowl and attach the adapter to the Kirsten Base from the inside of the bowl using the long Kirsten screw. C12 C13 C14 C15Now comes what I think is the really cool part!

STEP #8 I want the bowl to be interchangeable on either the Kirsten or the original base so I need to modify the Streamliner Base to take the new Kirsten long screw. To do that takes several steps that in essence involve creating a raised platform to accommodate the Kirsten Bowl adapter that you installed on the meal Streamliner Bowl. I put the original Streamliner bowl screw back in the shank of the Streamliner pipe base and drill the airway out using a #21 drill bit. I am careful to drill only 3/16 of an inch deep.C16STEP #9 Once the hole is drilled I use a 10-32 tap to tap 1/8-inch-deep threaded hole into the top of the screw.C17STEP #10 I use a grinder to grind off the top of the screw to remove the head. What remains is a collar that provides the base for the Kirsten adapter rest on and accommodate the long Kirsten screw.C18 C19STEP #11 With the collar in place and the newly tapped threaded insert the original Streamliner bowl will screw right on to the original base! If you didn’t look to closely you wouldn’t even know it had been converted! C20STEP #12 With the conversion done to both the bowl and the original Streamliner base, now any Kirsten bowl will fit onto your Streamliner pipe and your Streamliner bowl will fit onto any Kirsten pipe!C21STEP #13 The beauty of the process is that it can be done to almost any metal bowl on any of the pipes you come across. It takes a little ingenuity, but the modifications or conversion is not only possible but doable. The only thing that remains is to enjoy your new pipe!C22 C23 C24The following photos show some of the bowls I have converted. Once again if you have a metal pipe that you would like me to convert for you so that the bowls can be used interchangeably on the original base and on a Kirsten just email at the address above. We can talk about prices and time lines. I would love to do some work for you. Metal pipes are my passion and I love to smoke them. Thanks for looking and I can’t wait to hear from you.C25 C26



Three Cleanups for a Friend

Guest Blog by Robert M. Boughton

Member, International Society of Codgers
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors  under construction
Photos © the Author except as noted

How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?
— 2 Corinthians 3:8


As Chuck Richards, my good friend and mentor, has now worked his last official day at the local tobacconist where we enjoyed our pipes together on so many occasions – each of us often absorbed by our own thoughts – his presence is missed by many.  Almost every time I visit the shop, I see customers come in, eager to pick Chuck’s mind on one thing or another concerning pipes, only to learn that he is no longer there.  Then a young emeritus member of our pipe club, who moved away a couple of years ago to study engineering at Purdue, called a mutual friend and said he had some pipes that needed cleaning.  When he asked for Chuck, our common friend referred him to me.

Soon after, I received an email from the young man, Joe Allen, who no doubt still looks too young to be smoking a pipe by the day’s legal standards.  I found out Joe was concerned with three pipes he described as having excess cake and some rim burn and other typical problems he wanted cleaned up by someone he knows and trusts.  I made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.  No, I didn’t have to kill my friend’s horse and put its head in his bed; I have trouble picturing Joe atop that amazing species of animal, although for all I in fact know about him he could be a country boy who grew up on a farm with horses and cows and all the rest, and be outraged at the suggestion that he is in any way equestrian challenged.

All I knew about Joe’s present whereabouts was that he changed his major from engineering (thank God) and moved to Missouri to go to med school and become a surgeon.  Now, that’s more the speed of the Joe Allen I remember.Joe1For Joe, I was tempted to tell him to send them to me with a return label so I could do the work for free.  But then my senses returned.  I just can’t keep cleaning and fixing my friends’ pipes without getting something in return other than the pleasure of working on their beautiful prizes!  So we settled on $10 each, which included return postage.  I didn’t even have a clue as to the kind of pipes Joe was sending me, except of course that they were designed for tobacco.

For that and other reasons, I was excited when the insured box arrived at my Post Office several days later, $30 in cash tucked with a note in an envelope stashed inside.  When I got to my car, I used my handy flip knife to open the well-wrapped package that was padded with the exceptional care for the precious cargo one would expect from a future surgeon.  I knew from the layers of bubble wrap that stuffed the small USPS Priority Mail box, and in particular upon finding the three pipes in question wrapped in smaller taped pieces of the same material, that they were cherished and adored by Joe.  I was honored that he entrusted his treasures to me and determined not to disappoint him.

Anyone who knows me, even if only from my blogs here, might have guessed that I had to get a look at the pipes right then and there.  With complete respect and care for the contents, I removed each of the neat little bubble-wrapped pipes one at a time.  I was surprised and pleased by the variety.

The first was a Hardcastle of London rustic bent billiard #45 of a beautiful, dark red color.  There are two stamps on the bit, an H on the left side and, in capital letters across the underside where it meets the shank, the word France.  I can find no mention of French made Hardcastles and suspect this may have been from a convenient bit supplier.  Steve confirms my guess.  But the fine briar smoker was in excellent, almost new condition that appeared to present no problems, although of course one popped up that I will describe later.

The second was a very nice Dr. Grabow smooth straight billiard with the name Bucko and a yellow spade on the left side of the bit.   My first impression of the Bucko, other than its wonderful vertical grain around both sides and the back and a nice birds-eye on the front, was that the bit seemed to be a replacement, as it was not flush with the shank opening.  I was happy, though, to see the bit rather than the shank was too big in places, just right on both sides and only extended too far on the top and bottom.  I knew I could fix that.

Then came the last pipe, and I even guessed the brand from feeling the shape through the bubble wrap: a classic K&P Peterson of Dublin System Standard smooth bent billiard.  Admiring it, I was startled when the bit popped out in one of my hands holding it with reverence.  Giving it an easy slight twist back into the nickel banded shank, it did it again.  And again.  Well, I ventured to guess, this little beauty was going to be an interesting challenge.Joe2I could not wait to get to work on them, having estimated a two-day turn-around.  First, of course, I had to stop by the tobacconist for a little relaxation and contemplation while I puffed one of my own pipes and studied Joe’s excellent set awaiting my gentle ministrations.  All of them, which were nowhere near as dirty or caked-up as Joe indicated, presented interesting challenges nevertheless.

RESTORATIONS – DR. GRABOW BUCKOJoe3 Joe4 Joe5 Joe6For all the nasty talk about the brand, I have to admire the appealing visual twists on classic shapes that Dr. Grabow will throw into some of its designs, in particular the older ones.  Take this billiard, for example, with the unusual oblong aspect of the tapering shank.  At a glance, the problems that presented with the stout little Bucko were all minor.  There was slight rim darkening, far less than average chamber char, and a small amount of the original stain on the top of the shank that appeared to have been applied with some haste resulting in a shiny patch where heat drew out the liquid, which then re-dried.  Then again, perhaps the Bucko’s stummel had faded everywhere else, and that little area was all that remained of the factory finish.  Another possibility is that whoever chose the replacement bit prepped the wood for a refinish that for whatever reason was never applied.Joe7Closer inspection reaffirmed the theory of a replacement bit that was added without quite enough attention to detail, although the sides were perfect.  Again, only the top and bottom were misaligned. Joe8I began with the rim, which came clean after firmer than usual rubbing with superfine “0000” steel wool, and went for my usual approach on the chamber:  I used my Senior Reamer before sanding, first with 150-grit paper, then 180, 220 and 320.Joe9 Joe10I decided I might as well get the only real challenge with the Bucko out of the way and regarded the bit.Joe11I started with 220-grit paper to take off the excess Vulcanite on the top and bottom, but that got me nowhere.  I reached for the 180, and about a half-hour later was done with the fitting task.  I tossed the scratched bit in a preliminary OxiClean wash.  The scratches came off with wet micro meshing from 1500-12000. Joe13 Joe14 Joe15I took a close look at the scratches on the stummel.Joe16 Joe17With only the steel wool and the full range of micro mesh, wiping the wood with a soft cotton cloth between each grade, I was able to give the briar a nice, even smoothness.Joe18 Joe19Joe20 Joe21I retorted the pipe with Everclear.

Joe22After using the electric buffers to apply red and white Tripoli, White Diamond and carnauba to the bit and all of the same except for the red Tripoli to the stummel, here is the finished Bucko.Joe23 Joe24 Joe25 Joe26 Joe27 Joe28PETERSON SYSTEM STANDARDJoe29 Joe30 Joe31 Joe32 Joe33 Joe34I started by reaming and sanding the chamber and dispensing with the light rim char.  After giving my Senior Reamer a few turns in the chamber, I used 150-, 180-, 220- and 320-grit papers to make it ultra-smooth, but the steel wool was not enough to do the trick with the rim so I used a light touch of 320-git paper for the rest of the burns there.  As the second photo below shows, it turned out quite well. Joe35 Joe36There were some scratches and light pocks on the stummel that I eliminated by lightening the color of the stummel somewhat with steel wool.Joe37 Joe38Then I applied Fiebing’s Brown boot treatment to the stummel, let it cool and removed the thin layer of residue with 12000 micromesh.Joe39 Joe40The bit that appeared at first to be loose worked itself out somehow, maybe with the retort I did next.  And that was it, other than buffing the wood with white Tripoli, White Diamond and carnauba.  This was the only time I didn’t need to do anything to the bit.Joe41 Joe42 Joe43 Joe44 Joe45 Joe46HARDCASTLE OF LONDONJoe47 Joe48 Joe49 Joe50 Joe51 Joe52 Joe53 Joe54 Joe55Just to shake things up a bit, as I never start with the bit, that’s what I’m going to do.  Besides, this one is so easy, I might as well get the hardest part out of the way.

When I removed the bit the first time, I noticed it was so tight it wouldn’t budge.  Afraid of breaking either the tenon or part of the shank, I followed one of Chuck’s first lessons to me. Grasping the bit firmly in one hand – prepared to stop if I felt one more hint that a foreign substance was making the two parts stick – I turned the stummel with my other hand.  The sound was awful, but the parts came loose with a slowness I didn’t rush.  All that was needed to loosen the bit so it was easy to turn into the shank was a couple of tight turns of steel wool around the tenon.

The discoloration is shown just as it in fact appeared with my own eyes for once, rather than the camera’s POV.  In my opinion, just as a camera will add a few unwanted and unfair pounds to humans, so will it give a more flattering gloss to Vulcanite than the material often deserves. I gave it an OxiClean bath for about a half-hour.Joe56 Joe57And here it is after the bath and a brisk rub down with a soft cotton cloth.Joe58After wet micro meshing from 1500-12000, buffing on the wheel with red and white Tripoli, White Diamond and carnauba, and re-filling the empty H with a white china marker, this is the final result.Joe59I reamed and sanded the chamber and rid the rim of dark marks.  I used the same approach as the first two pipes on the chamber, and again, only steel wool was needed for the rim.Joe60 Joe61All that was left before the final buff was to retort the pipe, and as always, I was glad I did.Joe62Coating the already beautiful, rusticated red briar with Halcyon II wax, I set it aside to dry before wiping it down with a soft cotton cloth.Joe63 Joe64I was almost sad to be finished.Joe65 Joe66 Joe67 Joe68 Joe69 Joe70 Joe71CONCLUSION

Now I have to return these three fine pipes to their owner.








Marxman Jumbo Lovat

Blog by Aaron Henson

Several years ago when I was first getting into our hobby, I stopped into a local antique store looking for practice pipes.  This particular store did not have much and what few they did were dirty, heavily caked and $25 each. The dirt and the heavy cake didn’t bother me but dropping 25 clams on an old briar pipe for practice was not going to happen.

A few weeks ago, one of my jobs happened to take me past this same store. It had been two years since I had been in so I thought it might be time for another look.  After my last visit I wasn’t expecting much.  When I asked the gentleman behind the counter about pipes he directed me to the same old display case at the back of the store.  The same pipes were on display but this time the price tag had been changed.  Clearly the pipes had been in inventory too long and he wanted to move them because now they were two for $10.   Not one to pass on a deal this good, I selected four large bowl pipes including the Marxman below (shown second from the top) as well as a large caliber Emperor and an unmarked Custombilt look-alike. L1The Marxman is a truly large pipe (and not the largest of the three) with a bowl diameter of 1 1/2”, chamber diameter of 1” and a depth of 1 5/8”.  The shank is a whopping 7/8” in diameter and the bit is that same width. The following page from a 1946 ad for Marxman calls the large size a “Jumbo” but I do not have any way of telling what letter size it might be.L2For background, Marxman only made pipes from 1934 until 1953 before being bought out by Mastercraft.  But Bob Marx’s short run made an impact on Hollywood and on US pipe makers in general. Pipedia has a short article on Marxman.L3Taking the pipe to the work bench I started by cataloging the things that needed to be done.  The bowl had a thick cake built up. So much so that I had to start with the smallest head on my Castleford reamer (and the largest head was too small to be effective to finish reaming the bowl).  The rim had a significant buildup of tars and a couple burn marks.  The outside of the stummel was grimy and had some dents but nothing too devastating.  On the bottom of the bowl there were two dark burn marks.  They were located on the bottom side of the shank which made me think they were not burn-outs but with the bowl cake so thick I could not be sure.  When I removed the stem, I could see that the end of the tenon, the stinger and the inside of the shank were all coated with a heavy tar.  This was going to be an arduous cleaning job. L4 L5For as much build up as there was in the stummel there was little in the way of tooth chatter or marks on the stem.  One small tooth dent on the top side of the stem was all. The button was quite small but the slot was nicely formed. Aside from some oxidation, all in all the stem was in great shape.

I set the stem to soak in an Oxiclean bath to loosen the oxidation and the tar build up in the air way and turned my attention to the stummel. First I reamed the cake out of the bowl. I could not believe just how much there was!  I took it back to clean briar to make sure there was no burn through. After the largest reaming head, I still needed to finished off the chamber with 80 grit sand paper wrapped around a dowel. There was a slight loss of briar about half way down the bowl but no burn through. If I had to guess, the previous owner may have been in the habit of half loading the pipe early in its life.

I shaped a soft wood stir stick into a narrow spatula shape and used it to clean out the caked gunk in the shank. I also need a short piece of wire coat hanger to open the air way. I finished scrubbing the internals of the shank with bristled pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol and cotton swabs until they came out clean.

Now that the insides were clean I turned to the outside of the pipe.  The rim was heavily coated with crusted tar/lava.  I had hoped to clean up the rim without needing to top the bowl but that was not the case. There were some burn marks in the rim under the tar build up that were best removed at the topping board. When topping a bowl, I use 100 grit paper on a smooth flat surface and work the bowl in a circular motion. I have recently started rotating the bowl a quarter turn every 10 passes. This helps me keep the topped bowl level by ensuring I don’t put too much pressure on one side of the bowl all the time.L6I started cleaning the outside of the pipe by wiping down the briar with acetone. This removed the wax and grime build up. I had hoped that the burn marks on the bottom of the shank were superficial and would be removed with a light sanding but I was mistaken.  I am not sure what happens to the pipe but it appeared to have been exposed to a significant heat source because the burns were deep. The wood was not damaged, that is to say there was no charring.  After a significant amount of sanding with 220 grit I had removed as much of the burn as possible without significantly impacting the shape of the pipe. I was careful to sand the entire area around the burn to blend, or feather, the repair.  Even so, it did not completely remove all of the burn mark.L7Next I steamed out dents by wrapping the bowl with a wet terrycloth rag and applying a clothes iron. The important thing here is to keep your fingers away from the steam and the iron away from any stamping.

I finished the bowl by sanding the outside with 1500 – 3200 micro mesh pads. I also took the liberty of beveling the inside of the rim which I thought gave the large bowl some visual character.L8Even though I sanded the chamber back I could still smell some ghosts of the old tobacco so thought I would give the pipe a salt and alcohol soak. I let sit for 24 hours but there was still a residual odor.  Before I was done with the restoration, I had to run three tubes of grain alcohol in a retort through the pipe before the pipe was truly clean (sorry no pictures). L9

The original finish was very light colored, almost a natural. To hide the remnants of the burn I decided to go with a light brown stain and contract the worm grooves with a slightly darker stain to make them stand out.  This would also help hide the burn.L10The stem was an easy clean for a saddle bit. The Oxiclean bath had loosened the crud in the airway and a few passes with bristled than soft pipe cleaners took care of the internals. The outside I sanded with 1500 grit micro mesh then added a small drop of black super glue to the one small tooth mark and a another dent that I didn’t want to sand out. I had tried to raise both with heat first but with little success hence the super glue.  Continued sanding with micro mesh pads up through 12,000 grit. I kept the pipe assembled during this process in order to keep the shank-stem connection flush.L11

With sanding and polishing complete I coated the entire pipe in mineral oil and let sit overnight. The mineral oil seems to help hydrate the briar and vulcanite of the stem.L12After 12 hours I wiped off any remaining oil and took the pipe to the buffer.  I went over the whole pipe with red diamond then applied multiple coats of carnauba wax.  As a finishing touch I decided to apply a bowl coating to the chamber.  I wiped the inside with maple syrup then add a table spoon of charcoal powder.  Placing the heel of my palm over the rim I shake the pipe until the charcoal evenly coats the inside.  I let the pipe dry for a week before dumping out the excess charcoal.

Now it’s time to “Relax with a Marxman”.  Thank you for taking the time to look.L13 L14 L15


Restoring ‘The Professor’ – WDC Milano Hesson Guard

Blog by Dal Stanton

This pipe was gifted to me in 1980 while a seminary student.  I was Professor Freundt’s student assistant and I spent much time with him in his office which was a virtual jungle of books, papers and journals – heaped in piles here and there yet the professor knew where to find the most obscure minutia.  Added to the smells of old books and leather covers were the tobacco and smoke that regularly provided an upper layer haze in his work space.  The Professor introduced me to the art and enjoyment of smoking pipes – now some 36 years ago.  I was young and eager, soaking in the ambiance of academia at a post-graduate level and pipes I discovered, were very comfortable partners in this environment.  Professor Freundt gave me the Hesson Guard, showed me how to pack its first bowl in my hands, and I smoked it, adding my offerings to the perpetual haze.  After these days, pipe smoking was put aside until last fall when Steve reintroduced me to it.  At this point, 3 pipes made up my collection: a corncob I also bought during those seminary days to use while fishing and duck hunting, a Willard I received after my grandfather’s passing (a future restoration), and the WDC Milano Hesson Guard that I had tucked away in drawers over the past three and a half decades.   Anxious to put a pipe back into service last fall, I grabbed the Hesson Guard, to clean it and do what I thought then were needed repairs….  I made a mess of the pipe – cracked the shank, reamed out the mortise so that the metal tenon was too loose – sloppy repair with super glue….  I’m anxious now to return to ‘The Professor’ (its given name) and try to make amends for the rough treatment he received last fall!

The right side of the shank is stamped with the well-known WDC inverted triangle next to Milano over Real Briar.  The left side holds Hesson Guard.  The bottom of shank had PAT. 1855800 which enabled me quickly zero in on the dating of the pipe.  The patent application was submitted by the inventor of the special internals, William W. Hesson, in 1930 and granted two years later.  An excerpt from the patent documentation describes the essence of the design:

The principal object of the invention is to provide a pipe which will eliminate contamination of the natural aroma of the tobacco through noxious secretions and which will remain sweet and clean.  A further object is to devise a construction of pipe which will be simple and inexpensive to manufacture and which. will be devoid of pockets to harbor noxious elements.  The principal feature of the invention consists in the novel arrangement of a tubular resilient member surrounding and embracing a metal stem which extends from the pipe bowl to the mouth piece and forming a seal to prevent the seepage of moisture around the metal stem.


I was curious to compare my Hesson Guard with the patent diagram which essentially is a long metal tenon meeting up with a metal sleeve at the base of the bowl and shank junction.  This design, along with many other designs, was to eliminate the moisture build up, gurgle and gunk.  Figure 1 (below) is followed by my overlay comparison picture – the tube inserts quite a way according to the 1930 design.  Following are pictures telling the current story of The Professor:H1 H2 H3 H4 H5 H6 H7 H8 H9 H10 H11The pipe is attractive and has a good feel in my hand.  The free-hand sculpting on the bowl gives the appearance of flames rising and is showcased in 3 paneled murals around the bowl. I notice that one of the panel dividers has been damaged at the top by cutting the briar.  It looks like they were seeking to connect the panels – not sure.  That will need to be filled in.  The rim will also need some gentle repair to what appears to be nicks created by wear and tear.  The cracked shank will need repair to keep it from growing and cleaning up the metal tenon and creating a good fit with the mortise might be a challenge.  The bit has very mild tooth chatter.  The last picture above captures not only the crack in the shank but the metal sleeve deep in the mortise that the chamfered tube/tenon docks with to create a dryer smoke – according to the patent information.  Before any cosmetic restoration takes place I first must deal with the major issues of the shank crack repair and the tenon/mortise fit.  I start the crack repair by drilling a small hole at the end of the crack to keep the crack from creeping up the shank.  I use my Dremel tool and a 1.5mm drill bit to make the hole. I utilize a magnifying glass to trace the crack which had become a ‘hairline’. I’m careful not to drill too far and breach the mortise wall.  Next time, I want to use a 1mm drill bit to leave less of a footprint.  Next, after inserting the tenon into the mortise to expand the crack area for glue penetration, I create a mixture of briar dust and CA Instant Glue filling the hole and running a line of glue along the crack.  I then sprinkle briar dust over the entire area and wait to dry.  The timing worked out well as my wife just called me for lunch!  After lunch, I work on cleaning up the tenon removing the old superglue with fingernails, Winchester knife, brass brush and 240 grit sanding paper – back in pristine shape. H12 H13 H14Well, after about a week, I return to the Milano Hesson Guard after my wife and I take advantage of the summer opportunities at the Black Sea coast.  We enjoy some days at the beach near our favorite coastal fishing town, Sozopol. While at the beach, I thought about the Milano and how best to approach the overly loose tenon/mortise fit.  Instead of applying clear nail polish around the metal tenon, which is what I did before, I attempt to rebuild the mortise wall by applying a very gentle coat of superglue on the inner wall of the mortise, rotating it as I applied superglue to achieve, what I hope, will be an even texture around the mortise wall.  Amazingly, this seems to have worked!  After drying, I gently reach into the mortise to remove some superglue ‘bumps’ with a needle file and I use a tightly rolled piece of 240 sanding paper carefully to smooth things down.  I don’t want to inadvertently remove too much of the restored mortise wall! I also give the crack repair a light, strategic sanding with 240 grit paper, careful to guard the stampings. I refit the stem and to my relief, a snug fit was restored.H15 H16 H17With the stem refitting correctly and inserted, I return to the shank crack to finish sanding it to remove the excess superglue – I do this with stem in so as to not create unevenness between the mortise and stem shoulder.  Satisfied with the shank crack repair and rebuilding the mortise wall, I put the stem in an Oxyclean bath for a soak to soften up the moderate oxidation buildup. I move my attention to the bowl to ream the mild cake down to the briar and then move to rim repairs and then to the panel repair.  I want to have all these completed before looking at the general stummel cleanup and refinishing. I move out to the 10th floor balcony adjoining my bedroom work station with Pipnet reaming kit to minimize the airborne cake soot – maximizing happy wife status!  I started with the smallest reaming blade moving to use 3 of the 4 blades available to remove the moderate cake in the bowl.  I finished the reaming by employing 120 grit paper on the chamber wall to remove remaining cake and smoothing the wall.  I took a close up of the chamber and rim to show progress and to get a good idea of how to approach the rim repair.  Inspecting the rim, I place a drop of superglue on one particular ‘dent’ that reached significantly down the external side of the bowl.  I’m hoping that this small fill will enable me not needing to take as much off during the bowl topping to repair the rim.H18 H19 H20 H21After the superglue sets up on the rim dent fill, I top the bowl using 240 grit sanding paper on top of a chopping block.  Since the day is beautiful, I again move to the 10th floor balcony to do the work. With the rim having no burns, I expect the surface to plane off evenly without pulls toward softer burned areas of the rim.  I rotate in a clockwise circular even motion and take off only as much as needed to remove the damaged area of the rim.  As I like to do, I create a small bevel on the inner wall of the rim to give a more finished, classier look.  I use 120 grit paper to form the initial bevel angle followed by 240.  I also decide to give the outer rim edge a slight sanding to round off the lip which seems to be consistent with the original Milano design.  Again, I make the initial cut on the lip with 120 grit paper and finish off with 240.  I have grown to appreciate more the rim presentation in finished pipes.  To me, the rim, it’s nuances, are the first thing the eye is drawn to when looking at a pipe – much like the first thing one sees when looking a person are the eyes, then one follows by taking in the general appearances.  The following pictures show the Milano’s rim progress.H22 H23 H24 H25You can see in the immediate preceding picture the rim superglue fill spot at the 11 o’clock position of the rim and the ongoing panel repair just below it (to the left in the picture).  Before moving to the stummel finishing, I now need to resolve the panel repair. I realize at this point with all the stummel repairs (cracked shank, topping and panel line), I will be removing the finish and refinishing the surface in order to achieve an even briar tone appearance.  Now, continue to ‘heal’ the panel cut – earlier I applied superglue to it to build it up.  I take a close up of the panel as it is now in order to know what I have. In order to blend more, I rough up the original superglue with a Dremel stone sander instrument. I apply on top of it a thick mixture of superglue and briar dust to form the restored surface that will join the side briar panel with the solid ring around the top of the bowl. I use toothpicks to mix, spread and tamp the mixture into place. I want this briar dust putty to setup well so I put the stummel aside for the time and turn to the stem which has been soaking in Oxyclean.H26 H27 H28The Oxyclean bath did the job of bringing the oxidation to the stem surface. I attack this initial layer with 000 steel wool and then use 240 grit paper to address the minor tooth chatter – I take pictures of bit top and bottom before starting to show progress. In order to have a good match between the mortise and the stem, I want to eyeball what the fit looks like before I proceed further.  As I suspected, with all the superglue applied to the mortise area, the fit between mortise end and stem was not flush.  I took the stummel back to the topping board and gently rotated the shank end on the board to regain a flush docking between stummel and stem.  After a few rotation cycles and testings to eyeball things, I am satisfied.H29 H30 H31 H32 H33 H34Before starting the micromesh cycles for the stem finishing, I need to remove the lip that I discovered with the shank end over the stem.  With the topping of the shank end, I enlarged the circumference of the end just a bit so that it was a bit larger than the circumference of the stem shoulder – primarily on the lower side of the shank.  I use 240 grit paper to even out the difference between the shank and stem – leaving the stem in place to assure a good, smooth transition! I am careful to use my thumb to cover and protect the nomenclature as I move around the shank with the sanding paper.H35Now to the panel repair below the rim. Using 240 grit sanding paper I bring the hardened superglue and briar dust mixture down to the bowl surface careful to maintain a rounded surface and not to flatten out the area of sanding focus.  The pictures show the progress.H36Dal

I like the panel patch and it will blend with a darker stain.  On a roll, I launch into the clean-up of the stummel and especially the ‘flame murals’ which are filled with grit and dust.  I use a tooth brush with Murphy’s Wood Soap undiluted and work over the entire stummel with special focus in the fire sculpting to remove the surface finish.  I follow this with rubbing down the stummel using cotton pads and tooth brush with acetone to remove the finish deep in the grain of the briar.  I finish my clean-up of the surface by picking the carved crevices with a dental tool.  Using micromesh sanding pads, I sand the high points of the stummel.  Using 1500-2400 I wet sand.  Following, 3200-4000 dry sand and finishing dry-sanding with 6000-12000.  The pictures show the progress – I’m liking the briar grain the micromesh process is bringing out.H38 H39 H40 H41 H42At this point, I have two questions about how to proceed before staining the stummel.  First, I need to clean out the ‘flame’ sculpting and use a black fine tipped permanent marker to darken the flames to give more contrast after the stain is applied.  The other question was how do I treat the stampings of the WDC Milano – Hesson Guard?  Do I protect it from the stain?  Do I cover them with Vaseline?  What? Upon closer inspection, I notice that the left side stamping, Hesson Guard, appeared to have gold left over in the ‘Hesson’ lettering – the rest having worn off (picture below) after the crack repair.  After a quick email to Steve, his input revealed that both sides would have originally born the gold lettering.  So, from my model kit (I’ve been involved in a project for several years building the USS Constitution sailing ship) I discover a bottle of Testors Gold Enamel Model Paint and my wife finds a small brush which I trim with my knife to create a more distinct point.  With Steve’s counsel stored in my mind, I applied the paint over the lettering and wiped off the excess.  To my relief and joy, the gold paint adhered to the crevices of the lettering and the overflow came off with the paper towel.  My first stamping restoration with paint worked well!  Steve also said that there was no need to worry about the new lettering during staining – that the gold paint would repel the stain.  Careful to avoid the new gold lettering, I clean the bowl with isopropyl using a tooth brush to get rid of the residue from the sanding and then I move to highlighting the flame sculpts to bring greater definition to the paneled murals in the finished pipe.  The pictures tell the story.   H43 H44 H45 H46 H47Time to stain and I decide to use a mixture of an alcohol-based Italian stain I found here in Bulgaria with a color description of dark nut.  I want this as the base, but I mix it with a mahogany color water based stain to bring out a slightly more redish tone in the briar.  I think the red will work with the flame sculpting motif and I think this will look good – but of course the briar does what it will with the hues!  After mixing the stains in the shot glass, I apply the mixture to the stummel mounted on the cork and candle stick with cotton balls making sure to cover everything and getting a good thick coverage.  After applying stain, I use the butane lighter to flame the stain.  With the mixture that I made, the alcohol content was too low to ‘flame’ so I evenly moved the lighter flame across the surface to evaporate the alcohol setting the dye in the grain of the briar.  I repeated the process again and set the stummel aside to dry.H48With the stummel put aside, I turn again to the stem.  I re-inspect the button area after the earlier sanding to remove the teeth chatter.  I decide that the button needed a little more attention.  I use 240 grit sanding paper and a needle file to fine-tune the shape of the button before starting on the micromesh cycles.  I wet-sand the stem using 1500-2400 and complete the cycle by applying Obsidian Oil.  While still wet from the oil I continue to dry sand with 3200-4000 micromesh pads, again concluding the cycle by applying Obsidian Oil. The final cycle, 6000-12000 is used and a final coat of Obsidian Oil and I put the stem aside to dry.  I love watching the shine of the stem progressively make it to the surface getting that final wet, reflective look in the stem.  Nice!  The stem pops.  The pictures capture the progress!H49 H50 H51 H52For me, beginning the process of finishing the stummel after the staining dries, is like opening a Christmas present.  The anticipation is to see what actually is under the crust of flamed stain and what the briar grain will reveal.  With the Dremel tool, I begin to remove the ‘wrapping’ using a felt wheel.  Also with a felt wheel I polish beginning with Tripoli and then move to Blue Diamond.  I focus on bringing out the contrast of briar ‘flames’ showcased in the three panels.  I switch to a cotton cloth wheel and apply carnauba wax to both stummel and stem.  After several coats of carnauba, I complete the job by giving the pipe a clean cotton cloth wheel buff followed by a rigorous buffing with a micro-fiber cloth to bring out the deep tones of the briar.H53 H54I’m pleased with the revitalization of ‘The Professor’, WDC Milano Hesson Guard.  I think Professor Freundt, if he were alive today to comment, would agree.  The rich dark tones of the briar, with the hints of deep reds, reminds me of the myriads of leather bindings and books that filled his hazy office.  I’m pleased with the results.  Thanks for joining me!H55 H56 H57 H58 H59 H60 H61 H62


Easy Cleanup of a M&T Bent Horn Bulldog

Aaron Henson – 7/23/16

I have not been very good at documenting my last few restorations. Once I get into a project I tend to get so focused I forget to take pictures, especially if it’s a repair that is technically challenging or that I have not done before. The most recent example of this was an unsmoked M&T bent bulldog with a horn stem.  Even though it had never been used (it still had the factory purple putty bowl coating) it had a few issues to be addressed from its 40+ years of tumbling around in a drawer.M1When I saw the pipe in the case at the antique store the first thing that caught my eye was the horn stem and I knew I wanted it. In all honesty, I wasn’t one hundred percent sure that it was horn until I got it home. A couple of passes with a 2400 micro mesh pad and a sniff test confirmed my suspicions – it’s the same smell as when you use an emery board on a finger nail. M2I started with a little research into the brand.  The only M&T that I could find was the German pipe maker Müllenbach & Thewald.  They made pipes from 1830 until the 1972.  The company still exists but is solely devoted to mineral mining.  You might think this strange but M&T was known originally for clay pipes. In 1860 they branched into making wood pipes.  A short article on M&T can be found on Pipedia.

I began the restoration by performing triage of the issues to be addressed. The bowl was clean but had a dull finish that was marred with some dents and minor scratches. The factory bowl coating was starting to chip and a there were three small fills on the outside of the bowl that needed to be repaired. A close inspection of the shank revealed a small crack where the aluminum tenon inserted (seen in the picture below). I had assumed the narrow band was original to the pipe but perhaps it had been added to reinforce the shank?  I may never know the answer to that.  All in all the bowl was very good condition.M3The stem too was in almost “like new” condition.   A few scratches but the button was well define and, of course, no tooth chatter. The aluminum tenon was a little rough around the edges but the fit to the shank was fine.

I started by applying a thin coat of mineral oil on the stem. This seemed to ‘hydrate’ the horn and give some bite to the micro mesh pads. I worked through the 1500 to 12000 pads stopping to apply oil as the horn dried out. The button was quite large and the edges sharp, a bit more than I like. But I kept it original and only slightly smoothed the corners while polishing. I smoothed up the edges of the tenon and set the stem aside.

The first order of business was the cracked shank. Using a 1/64 drill bit, I drilled a hole at the end of the crack to stop its spread then filled the crack with clear supper glue.  Then I picked out the three putty fills and using a super glue and briar dust mixture, refilled the pits. Once cured I sanded the repair smooth.M4I steamed the dents out of the briar with a clothes iron applied to a wet cloth wrapped around the stummel – keeping away from the stampings and fingers.  I sanded the entire stummel up to the 3200 micro mesh then wipe down with alcohol before I stained.  In this case I tried to match the original color with several coats of different browns aniline dyes.

Before reassembling I decide to remove the factory bowl coat and leave it bare briar. Then I wiped the whole outside of the pipe with mineral oil and set it aside for twelve hours before taking to the buffer.  The oil seems to hydrate the briar and brings out a nice shine when waxed.  I first buff with red diamond, wipe off the residue with a soft cotton cloth then apply three coats of carnauba wax giving the pipe a little rest between each coat.

The bent bulldog is one of my favorite shapes and I love the horn stem.  I’m not sure when I will get around to breaking it in.  It might just stay unsmoked for a while.M5 M6 M7 M8

Restoring a Piece of History – A Mastercraft Mark II Zeppelin

Blog by Mike Zarczynski

I first read about Mike’s restoration of this Zeppelin on Facebook in one of the pipe smoking groups. Because I was so impressed with what he had done with the pipe and because I have been looking for one to restore, I wrote him a message and asked if he would be willing to do a write up for rebornpipes. It is a privilege to have him post his first blog here and show us some of his work. I think you will enjoy the work he has done on this unique piece of pipe history. He has written a brief introduction to himself so rather than repeat it I will let him tell you in his own words. “I’ve been restoring pipes for about a year now, I started when I first became inspired by Steve’s blog rebornpipes (it is an incredible honor to have been requested to write an article for the blog). At first it was a way to avoid paying list price for big brands, but now it’s a full blown addiction. I’ve restored fishing gear most of my life and once I started smoking I realized pipes were an obvious choice to fill the need of fixing things.”

The pipe itself:
Being an avid reader of both Charles’ and Steve’s Blogs, I read an article on an odd pipe. Charles had restored a Master-craft Zeppelin pipe for a family member, but one thing crossed my mind, how did it smoke? Months passed by of watching the type and shape, and almost winning a few auctions had me wondering, just how rare is this pipe? I read on pipephil that there were two main versions, Mark I, a smooth pipe, and Mark II, a rusticated pipe. Being a fan of rusticated pipes, I started searching for the second variety. (The idea of rustication is to give as much surface area as possible to dissipate heat.) I finally won an auction and the pipe was received on a Saturday following the transaction.

The pipe was in great shape, no corrosion on the aluminum, a bit of oxidation on the stem, and two fills on the briar. One of the fills had shrunk to the point it needed replacing, but the other could stay.Marx1 Marx2 Marx3First off is to ream the bowl, and scrub the outside (I prefer to work on a clean pipe.) The interior of the pipe was in decent shape with no major burn outs or char. I popped the large fill out and started filling it with layers of CA superglue mixed with briar dust. The result worked nicely and was re-rusticated with a Dremel.

After a good retort and scrub of the “smoke chamber”, I could shine the aluminum in the interior. I shined the nosecone of the zeppelin with 6000 grit sandpaper to give it a shine, but leave the oxidation to give it an antique look. I sanded the stem with 600-6000 grit sandpipers to remove any oxidation and to give it a shine. The stem was also cleaned with 70% isopropyl alcohol and pipe cleaners.

I chose to re-stain the pipe to give it a more contrasted dark-light look with the rustication. I set the dye with the flame of a lighter (gotta love the blue flame of this step) and set it to finish drying. After a quick wipe down and hand buff with conservative wax, the pipe was pieced back together and a “bowl” of Prince Albert Burley was packed to try to give it a start of a cake once again. Here are the results of this restoration:Marx4 Marx5 Marx6 Marx7 Marx8Thank you to Steve Laug and friends for not only letting me write an article on my restoration, but for serving as inspiration and entertainment for this past year, and for the many years to come.


Day Trips and Memories

Family day trips were always popular in our family. Many is the time I remember going for day-long rides with my Papaw in his pick-up truck – Granny was usually at work since they worked opposite shifts – out country roads many of which don’t exist today. We would stop at mom & pop stores and get our lunch. Papaw would tell the old man behind the counter he wanted whatever lunch meat he was in the mood for that day, cut about half an inch thick, on bread (white bread was a given) with mayonnaise and then asked what I wanted; I always wanted the same thing he’d ordered – even when I had no idea what the lunch meant I was getting was. The old man would get the items from the deli case and start making our sandwiches while we picked out a pop, soda for you northerners, which was usually a Hire’s Rootbeer. Papaw would toss a bag of chips on the counter and we’d set our rootbeers up there, too. He’s then dig out his billfold, as he always called his wallet, and tell the man, “Put it all in a poke for us, please.” (That’s a paper bag, again for you younger and/or norther folks.)

We’d load into the truck, always a Chevy or GMC and usually orange or red in color, and drive down the road a few miles until we found just the right spot, where we’d pull off the side of the road in the shade and park. The tailgate served as both our picnic table and benches. Occasionally Papaw would light up his pipe; he only had one that I know of. More often he would get a jaw-full of Redman or Levi Garrett afree we ate and we would talk – for hours some days. I honestly can’t remember most of the conversations we had on those drives. But the memories I do have are vivid and very dear to me.

Now I am the “Papaw” and we still carry on this tradition, granted, in a slightly modified version; we usually pack a lunch (there aren’t many mom & pop shops that fix you a sandwich anymore) or hit a restaurant. And there’s always at least three of us: Papaw, Granny, and grandson. Occasionally our son goes along too, if he’s not working.

A week or so ago we had one of these all too rare times when the four of us took a spontaneous road trip to Carter Caves State Park in KY. The drive isn’t too far and, while not as popular a destination as it once was, it’s a beautiful place to visit with a lot of activities if you plan for them.

We arrived around 1:00 pm I think and drove a little loop through the main part of the park to 1) get the lay of the land and 2) give Granny and the grandson a bathroom break. Once the “necessaries” were out of the way, we drove back down to the entrance of the park no began our look for the spot. My son and wife both had input on where it should be; neither agreed, to no big surprise LOL. But none of them were right in my mind. I suddenly stopped the truck, scanned the area and decided this was it! To some protest, I pulled off the road onto a parking shoulder and parked my Silverado. While the other two questioned my judgement, I asked my grandson what he thought about the spot. “If you like it it’s perfect, Papaw.” Issue settled.

We unpacked what little we had taken and set up next to a real picnic table with real benches and the dispute quickly dissipated: it was shady, comfortable, had a great view and was close to but a safe distance from he creek, perfect to hear the water gently flowing by.

My son and grandson geared up for their hiking adventure, my wife settled into a comfortable spot at the picnic table, and I got set up in my bag chair. The young ‘uns headed off on their adventure and I broke out my pipe. I loaded it up with a favorite blend; it took fire nicely, enhancing my anticipation of a nice, relaxing afternoon. As I sat there, bluish smoke gently swirling around me, listening to the gentle babbling of the creek, I was transported back in time it seemed. My wife was walking along the creek’s edge picking up interesting rocks for my grandson and me (we have 3-5 stones from everyplace we visit, another hobby/collection we share) and she seemed 20 years younger – as did I! It was a most perfect, peaceful, and serene few of hours spent just enjoying each other’s company and God’s wondrous creation.image

All too soon the sun had moved as the hours ticked by and devoured our cool shade. It was well timed though as about the same time the boys were winding up – or winding down from – their adventure. My grandson had packed back 5 stones, the same number I had collected with my wife’s help. We settled on 6 or 7 to bring home and packed them and everything else up in the bed of the truck. It had been a splendid day indeed!

The drive home was a much quieter one than the trip there; everyone had worn themselves pretty much out. As I drove with the radio softy playing, I couldn’t help but reflect on those trips with my Papaw. And wonder how much he must have enjoyed them; I often wish he was still around to talk about those and many other things. But the main thought on my mind during that drive home and in the days since was quite simply this: it’s really good to be the Papaw.