Another old timer, a Mastercraft Bulldog was in my box of bowls without stems. The squat shape of this little bulldog caught my eye.
The bowl pretty rough looking. The finish was gone and the top had been used as a hammer so it was badly dented and the roughening of the wood left a lot of splintering edges. It was also badly caked and still had a remnant of tobacco left in the bowl. Since it was missing its stem I have no idea when the bowl and tobacco got separated from the stem. I have a coffee can in which I keep a wide range of stems that I have picked up and another can of stem blanks that need to be shaped and fit to the new pipe. For this pipe I found an old stem in the can that was a perfect fit once I removed the old stinger type insert. The stem was badly oxidized virtually brown. There were no tooth marks on the stem and no dents that needed to be repaired.
I reamed and cleaned the bowl and shank until the pipe cleaners came white. I use 99% isopropyl alcohol for doing this as I find that it works well and evaporates quickly leaving no residual tastse. The top had been hammered so much that the bowl had to be topped so that it would be smooth again. The trick with this one was not to remove too much of the top and thus change the angles of the bulldog shape. So I removed enough to give me a smooth surface to work with but not enough to change the shape. Once it was topped and sanded I put it in the alcohol bath and left it while I worked on cleaning up the stem.
I had soaked the stem in a mixture of Oxyclean to soften the oxidation and prepare it for the sanding that would be necessary to clean it. Once I remove it from the soak I buffed it with Tripoli to remove the oxidation that had softened and then sanded it with 240 grit sandpaper. Once I had removed the brown surface I used 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper to continue the smoothing and polishing process. I finished the stem with the micromesh pads from 1500 – 6000 grit. Then I set it aside to wait until I had finished bowl and polish the entirety on the buffer.
I took the bowl out of the alcohol bath and sanded it with the micromesh pads to remove the surface scratches and remaining marks in the bowl surface. I steamed out the dents with a damp cloth and a hot knife and then sanded them smooth again. I restained this bowl with a Medium Brown stain. I flamed it to set the stain, inserted the stem and then took it to the buffer and buffed it with White Diamond to polish it. The entirety was then given several coats of carnauba wax. This one found a new home with someone who loved the shape and it is providing a great smoke for them.
I refurbished this interestingly shaped no name pot/rhodesian/bulldog (?) or you name it shape. I was drawn to it and liked the look of it when I found it in my box of pipes and bowls that I have gathered for refurbishing. It is a box I have that at one point held over 300 pipes that needed work but is slowly shrinking even though I add to it each time I go scavenging. I am pretty much incorrigible about picking up estate pipes and hunting for them. I am getting more picky over the years as to what I want to work on but I pick up ones that will be a challenge to me or that I like the brand or the shape.
This one was truly a mess. I forgot to take pictures of what it looked like when I took it out of the box but I will describe it to you. In many ways it was no different than most of the others that I work on. The bowl was caked to the point of barely holding any tobacco any longer. It was a tarry mess on the rim and running down the sides of the bowl. There were dents and deep “wounds” in the briar of the rim. It also was without a stem. The silver band on the shank was badly beat up and to be honest the pipe was downright ugly. But in its ugliness I saw something that drew me to pick it up and see what I could do with it. So I took it to my work table and it became a project that took me two days.
I did what I call field dressing the pipe the first day. That includes reaming the bowl and cleaning out the grit and grime from the shank and bowl. I washed the bowl down with acetone to remove the overflow from the bowl and rim on the outside of the bowl. I also removed the dirt and grease marking on the bowl. Once it was clean I fit a stem for it. It has a diamond shank, and those have always been a challenge for me to make a proper fit. I find that on these old timers what appears to be a diamond with equal sides never truly is equal. Each side on this one had a different measurement. I used a blank that I had here and shaped it to fit. It is difficult to get each side correct and maintain the shape to fit the shank. I cut the tenon with my Pimo tenon turner and worked the shape for a long time to make it flow with the shank. It took a long time because I would get one side perfect only to lose a bit of the angle on the next side. I finally was able to get the angles right and fit the stem to the shank well. In the finished photos you can get a bit of an idea of the work involved in that.
I then removed the silver band and put the bowl in the alcohol bath while I tried to straighten and smooth out the silver band. I got a lot of the wrinkles and dents out of it but a few still remained even after my work. I set it aside to reinstall on the shank once it was restained and turned my attention to sanding and polishing the stem. I used 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper as usual to remove the scratches and marks left by the shaping. I then use my normal regimen of 1500-6000 grit micromesh to bring a shine to the stem. When I had it finished and ready for the buffer I put it aside and went back to the bowl.
I removed the bowl from the bath and sanded it with the usual variety of sand papers and micromesh pads. Then I restained it with a cherry stain that I use on some of the older pipes as I have found that it brings out the old colours from the briar and really looks good. I then sanded again with micromesh and put the stem on it before taking it to the buffer to polish it with White Diamond. Once that was finished I gave the bowl and stem several coats of carnauba wax.
There are no stamping or marking on it all. But the unusual shape continues to attract me in an odd way. It is 6 inches long, bowl height is 2 inches. The chamber diameter is 1 inch and the chamber depth is1 1/4 inches. The rim is chamfered and clean. Anyone have a name for the shape??