Blog by Steve Laug
This pipe grabbed my eye because of the classic prince shape. The bowl was dirty and caked. The rim is tarred and caked as well. The finish was scuffed and dirty, but there looked to be some nice grain underneath. The stem had tooth dents that were quite deep and the oxidation was odd in that it was streaked more than solid. The tenon was stainless steel and quite long. It can be seen in the first picture below. The alignment of the stem to the shank was slightly off as the tenon was inserted into the stem a bit high. In pictures 4 and 5 you can see that the stem is lower than the edge of the shank. I reamed the bowl and cleaned the shank. The shank was plugged so I used a straightened piece of wire to push through the clog into the bowl. I repeated the push with the wire until I had cleaned out the shank. I finished cleaning it with many pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and a shank brush and isopropyl alcohol. Once I had finished the bowl I sanded the top with micromesh fibre pads from 1500-2400 grit. I wiped it down with cotton pads soaked with acetone to clean off the finish. Then I put the bowl in the alcohol bath and let it soak while I worked on the stem.
The next series of pictures show the bowl after I took it out of the bath. I reinserted the stem so that I could work on the bowl a bit more. You can see from the pictures in this series of photos that I had buffed the stem with Tripoli and also done the initial sanding of the stem and removed most of the surface oxidation.
At this point in the process I pressure fit a band on the stem to help with the alignment of the stem. There was enough give in the stainless steel tenon to hold it in place with the nickel band. The band also gives the little prince a classy look (at least in my opinion!). I then did a lot more work on the stem. I used a heat gun to raise the bite marks as much as possible. They came up significantly but not completely. I sanded the stem near the button with 240 grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface. The five pictures below show the sanding process. I used a medium grit sanding pad after the 240 and then also used a fine grit sanding pad. I was trying to minimize the dents and isolate the deeper dents. The fourth and fifth picture below shows the stem after sanding. I wiped both the top and the bottom of the stem down with alcohol to clean the surface and prepare it for the super glue patches.
The next two photos show the super glue patches. I used clear super glue on these patches as the dents were black and I was hoping that the clear would allow the black from the vulcanite to show through the glue and make the patches blend in clearly and match. You will notice that I used drops of super glue and applied it by dropping the glue on the stem. Once one side was dry I dropped the glue on the other side.
Once the super glue was dry I sanded it with 240 grit sandpaper and the fine grit sanding block. The next two photos show the first stages of the sanding. The spots are still large and very visible in these photos. I continued to sand them until they were well blended. Once it was finished I used micromesh pads to sand it until it was smooth.
The next two photos show the stem in its finished condition. I sanded it with micromesh pads – 1500, 1800, 2400, 3200, 3600, 4000, 6000, 8000, 12,000 grits to bring the stem to this final state. The patches are well blended into the finish of the stem and are virtually invisible to those who don’t know where to look.
The next series of four photos show the pipe after buffing with several coats of carnauba wax and then a soft flannel buff. The finish came out very smooth and the patches are not visible. The stem looks new. In the light of the flash a hair on the underside of the stem is visible. The pipe is now ready to fire up with its inaugural bowl.