Blog by Steve Laug
Off the workbench today is a nice little Dr. Plumb Tween Size Prince (that is what the stamping on this one says). It was pretty rough looking as can be seen from the before shots. I had reamed it before I remembered to take the photos, so the bowl is very clean in the photo below.
The bowl, in fact, was very dirty with tars and crumbling cake as well as a thick white “gunk”, for lack of a better word, in the bowl and all the way through the shank. I have no idea what it was other than the fact that it had a plastic feel to it. It was stringy and literally all over the inside of the bowl and shank. I had never seen anything like this in the years I have been refurbishing pipes. It came out with the reaming of the bowl and out of the shank with alcohol soaked pipe cleaners and a shank brush. It took some time to clear it out. Many pipe cleaners later it was clean. The state of the bowl when I got it told me that obviously this little guy (5 inches long, group one sized bowl) was a great smoker.
I stuffed the bowl with cotton bolls and filled it with alcohol using an ear syringe.
I removed the stem and put a cork in the shank so that the alcohol would go all the way into the shank. I wanted to make sure that all of the remnants of white stuff and tars were removed from the bowl before I went further in cleaning it. I left it overnight and the next morning removed the cotton bolls and plug and cleaned out the bowl and stem with pipe cleaners. The bowl smelled fresh and almost new once that final cleaning was done and the alcohol evaporated. The bowl was then dropped in an alcohol bath for a soak. While it was soaking I went to work on the stem.
The stem took quite a bit of work to restore as it was badly oxidized. I had soaked it in Oxyclean while I worked on the bowl so now when I took it out the oxidation had softened. I buffed it with Tripoli, sanded with 240 grit sandpaper, buffed again with Tripoli, sanded with 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper until I was able to get the grit off and then polished with micromesh pads from1500-6000 grit. Each level of micromesh gives the stem a deeper polish and shine to the stem. In buffing a stem by itself, I always avoid the saddle area or the area next to where it joins the shank as it is very easy to over buff this area and make rounded shoulders on the stem and ruin the stem/shank junction. Once that was finished I laid it aside with a coat of Obsidian Oil and turned again to the bowl.
I removed the bowl from the alcohol bath and dried it off. The bath removed the remnant of finish and all of the oils and grime on the bowl. I used the 3200 and 4000 grit micromesh pads to sand down the bowl, being careful to not damage the stamping. Once it was smooth, I wiped it down with a soft cloth dampened with Isopropyl alcohol to remove the sanding dust and then stained the pipe with a light cherry coloured aniline stain. (I mixed the stain by adding Isopropyl to the oxblood stain until it was basically a light cherry coloured wash.) I flamed it and then put the stem on and buffed both the bowl and stem with White Diamond and finished it with several coats of carnauba wax. Here is the pipe ready to smoke!