Daily Archives: August 28, 2012

Review of Crosby Pocket-sized Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

I received this pipe through the generosity of a good friend. I had been with him when John posted a pipe like this on his website for sale. When I went to purchase it someone had beat me to it. It turned out to have been my friend so he had John make a second one for me. When the pipes were completed he came by the house to drop my surprise gift off and to sit and smoke the two pipes together. I think of him and his generosity each time I look at this beauty.

In this review I want to look at the pipe from a more technical side and walk through its construction, feel and delivery of the smoke to me. I drew the pipe from the smooth black leather pipe sock, stamped with Crosby’s signature and USA in gold. Here is what I found.

In my hand the pipe is very light weight. I do not have a scale to weigh it in terms of grams or ounces but I can say that the weight is light. It is nicely made and roughly 4.5 inches long. The shape and weight make it easily a sitter even though it is not flattened on the bottom of the bowl or the shank. It is so light weight and balanced that, like the Morrisette I reviewed earlier, it is easy to leave in my mouth without clenching while I am driving home from work. The construction and eye to detail is very good. The finish is rusticated with a craggy tight rustication. John left a band at the end of the shank to facilitate the shank stem junction. The bottom of the shank also has a spot in which John stamped Crosby and the year of make – 09. In terms of stain and colour this is interesting. John seems to have stained it with a series of stains. It is almost matte black when viewed without a bright light. But with light there are hints of browns, reds and blacks. As I turn the pipe over in my hand the colours shift and are visible. The rim of the bowl is also rusticated with the same roughness as the bowl exterior. The rustication and finishing job on this pipe is very well done.

The stem work is nicely made. It is hand cut from acrylic but is soft in the mouth. It is a Cumberland like material in greens, yellows, olives, browns and blacks. The stem/shank joint is perfect – no gap whatsoever. It is a modified saddle stem – asymmetrical in shape. The slope on the top of the stem is at a sharper angle than that on the bottom of the stem. Both are cut with what looks like an eye for tree ring like striations in the acrylic. It is a fairly wide and flat stem that is very comfortable in the mouth. It has a nicely shaped button that is sharply cut and catches well on the back of my teeth. The slot in the button is a smooth V slot that facilitates the movement of smoke across the mouth. The colour on the end of the button is like a bulls eye – rings and rings that almost centre on the whole. The stem is polished with no scratches or file markings at all. Very clean. But the material is such that it goes very well with the matte finish of the bowl. Very nice feel in the hand.

Moving to the inside of the pipe – the mechanics of the pipe are very good. The angle of the drilling of the bowl takes advantage of maximum bowl thickness and depth. The draught hole was precisely where it should be. The bottom of the bowl is of relatively the same thickness as the walls of the pipe. Nicely laid out John!! The bowl was uncoated and very smooth. There are no rough spots where the draught hole entered the bowl. The inside of the airway in the shank and the bowl were very smooth with no extraneous roughness from the drilling. The same is true with the inside of the stem, which was also very smooth. Holding light to the bowl revealed a clean and smooth airway with no impediments. The drilling from the draught hole to the hole in the end of the shank is wide open and unimpeded. The tenon is delrin I believe and is open to draw the smoke through evenly. The opening airway in the end of the tenon is wide open and proceeds to the button in a smooth open path. There is no roughness or constriction where the delrin tenon ends and the stem material begins. This transition is smooth. The airway flattens out like a squeezed drinking straw so that the diameter does not change but is flattened and opened. The draw on this pipe is very smooth – no whistling sound and no sense of having to suck or work to get the air to move through. The draw on the pipe is effortless. From the first smoke it was a very easy pipe to smoke. Once lit it was effortless to smoke.  A pleasure to smoke, exactly what I have come to expect from the other Crosby pipe I have and what I hear others saying about his pipes.

JOHN CROSBY PIPES http://www.crosbypipes.com/

ImageImageImageImage

Advertisements

Review of Gabrieli Quarter Bent Brandy


Blog by Steve Laug

I wrote this review several years ago now and post it here as I wrote it then. Dan still makes great pipes and they are reasonable in price. Dan is one of the makers that I have learned much from in terms of staining and stem work. He has always been available to me when I have a question or need a tool. We have spent many hours communicating across the continent via Skype and for that I am thankful. I have two of Dan’s pipes and love them both.

Yesterday (11/5) I received my Gabrieli pipe in the post from Dan. I have been waiting anxiously to have it in hand since he posted it here on the forums as a piece in progress. It is a beauty to be sure. The length of the pipe is 6 inches and the bowl height is 2 inches. The chamber diameter is 7/8 inches and depth is 1 ¾ inches. When it first arrived I thought it seemed large but it is very nice in the hand and the largeness is more in terms of appearance than reality. The overall shape is a ¼ bent brandy bowl that is quite large with an elongated shank that is pencil like. The combination works for me quite well. The stamping is also unique. On the stem and shank junction it is hand stamped Bethlehem, PA. On the left side in a smooth circle it is stamped Gabrieli arched over USA. On the shank right side is a Moravian cross with the date and grade stamp.

The finish on the outside of the pipe is rusticated in a finish not unlike the sea rock rustication on some of the Castellos I have seen or other brands that have a similar pattern of rustication. There is a deep craggy feel and look to the rustication on the bowl with a randomness to it that adds to the overall appearance. On the shank the rustication changes appearance a bit to more vertical striations and patterns. The variation between the bowl and the shank is actually very nice and they blend together well. On the rim of the pipe Dan left a bit of plateau on the right rear rim but the way it is in appearance carries through the rustication pattern from the bowl but a bit deeper. The rest of the rim is smooth with a slight edge protruding onto the bowl all the way around the pipe forming a smooth band around the outer rim that matches the smooth band at the shank stem junction.  The staining on this appears to be a blend of darker/medium brown with a red undertone that is interesting. It really goes well with the shank stem extension of Masur Birch set into the stem between a band of Cumberland and a Cumberland stem. The colour of the pipe is a beautiful match to the Cumberland stem colours. Nicely done Dan. The stem itself is a well made half saddle stem. The top of the stem is saddle shaped and the underside a gentle taper. The design along with the slight bend makes it fit very comfortably in the mouth. It also rests well enough that it can be clenched quite easily. The tenon is delrin and is funneled at the end for good mechanics. The button is exactly the way I like them – thinner on the edges with a gentle rise at the centre top and bottom. It fits well behind the teeth for a comfortable feel. The draught hole in the end of the button is also funneled to deliver a mouthpiece that has the same diameter from start to finish. Comfortable and well executed. A pipe cleaner passes easily through the pipe with no obstruction.

The mechanics of the pipe are nicely done as well. The bowl chamber is fairly large with a slight chamfering around the inner edge of the bowl. It is coated with some kind or precarb coating that has no flavour attached to it. (Whew!) The draught hole is centered at the bottom of the bowl and seems to have a slight funnel as well – like a shallow Y- leading into the shank and stem. There is a very easy and open draw to the pipe. The fit of the stem to the shank is very good. Smooth and tight. The tenon sits deep in the mortise – if  not exactly the same length then impressively close! The fit of the tenon is also smooth. The drilling of the draught in the shank is straight but to accommodate the bend in the pipe it has the small u at the bottom of the mortise that is barely noticeable but present. The air pulls clearly through the pipe with no whistling at all. Using a light to shine through the various airways reveals smoothly executed airways on the inside. Very nice mechanics.

Today I gave it the inaugural smoke. I loaded a bowl of Red Ribbon (1983) and took a long walk at work. It packed very easily and lit well. The draught on the pipe was superb. The smoke was uncomplicated and effortless. It was smooth from the get go with none of the new pipe break in woes. The bowl coating is tasteless and does not change the taste of the tobacco. I am looking forward to another bowl on my drive home from work.

Thanks Dan for a well made pipe that smokes as good as it looks!

The Resurrection of a Thomas Spanu Olive Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

I was gifted this old Thomas Spanu Bamboo shanked bent billiard made out of Olive wood. It was originally a beautiful pipe. The grain on the olive was very nice and the bamboo shank had a nice patina to it. The problem was that it was snapped at the shank bowl junction and the bamboo at the mouthpiece had a crack that was separating. I knew it was this way when my friend sent it to me. But I was not prepared for the mess that it truly was. What was a shame about it was that the pipe was barely smoked. The bottom of the bowl was still raw wood. I knew I had to give this a try.

I utilized the same procedure that Gan spelled out in his post here on the blog regarding the work on the Peterson. https://rebornpipes.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=3034&action=edit I used the same epoxy he recommended – a fast set epoxy – JB Kwik. It is extremely strong (though not as strong as regular Weld Bond), heat resistant to 500+ degrees F, impervious to moisture, and has a clamping time of only 3 minutes. I learned of this method from Gan early on when we were sharing tricks of refurbishing with each other. I mixed the two parts of the JB Kwik (epoxy/catalyst) and had plenty of working time to align the two pieces of the pipe stummel. I held them together tightly for three minutes and then released. The bond was good and though it shows because of the angles of the grain it is strong.

I then sanded bowl and the shank with 240 grit sandpaper to reduce the width of the glue. There was no way to hide the mark but I wanted to minimize it. I sanded until the line was thin and not overlapping on the surface of the olive wood. The picture below shows the bowl at that point in the process. I also used a small hacksaw to trim back the broken and cracked bamboo on the shank. I wanted to remove the entire cracked portion and then strengthen the remaining bamboo. To strengthen it I dripped superglue on the open end and then faced the new end on my sanding board to get a smooth flat surface for the stem.

Image

After the preparation and repair was done I sanded the bowl with micromesh pads to remove all scratches and then buffed the shank and bowl with White Diamond to give it a final polish. I did some work on the stem (Lucite) to make the fit and transition more even. I sanded it and then polished it with micromesh and Tripoli and White Diamond to smooth it out.  I then gave the entire pipe several coats of carnauba wax which I buffed with a soft flannel buffing pad. It is not beautiful and the repair shows, but the pipe smokes very well

Image! Image ImageImage

September 2, 2012 – This evening I decided to try rusticating the shank as Gan recommended in one of the comments. I used the modified Philips screwdriver that I used for rustication. Once I had it rusticated I restained it with medium brown aniline stain. I stained the shank and then the bowl as well. I wiped down the bowl with a bit of acetone to lighten the bowl colouration. Here is the finished product. It worked well Gan. Thanks for the recommendation Gan. 
Addendum:
I reworked the stem on the pipe this afternoon to try and get a closer match to the bamboo shank. It is better but still far from perfect. IMG_8063 IMG_8064 IMG_8065

Another Bakelite Pipe Gadget – Tobacco Jar


Blog by Steve Laug

I seem to be drawn to Bakelite Pipe Gadgets. When this one came up on EBay I could not pass it up. I put in the bid that I was willing to live with and “won” this piece with no other bidders on the table. I have no idea what the age is on it but it is in great shape. The threads on the lid and the jar are undamaged. The Bakelite is a nice dark, mottled finish – almost the colour of a stoved Virginia leaf. The script on the lid looks great and the rusticated surface surround the script is really a nice touch. I believe that it was done to provide a surface to strike a match on once the pipe was loaded with the tobacco. There is a cast pattern of tobacco leaves that form a border on the lid and on the bottom of the jar. There are no dents or cracks in the bowl and it is flawless. I polished it with White Diamond and gave it a light buff with carnauba wax. The jar purports to be airtight but is not. It keeps tobacco fairly well for about a week and then it begins to dry out. It holds a place in my pipe cupboard and is a nice piece of tobacciana. ImageImage

Two men and Pipe Restoration via Skype – Part 2


Blog by Steve Laug

A month ago I posted the first part of this blog entry and you read through the interaction of Carl and me as we worked on a nice little billiard and brought it back to life. We did this through interacting on Skype and posting on Pipe Smokers Unleashed Forums as we did the work. It was a great experience and one that is worth repeating should anyone want to give this a try.

This is part 2 of that restoration via Skype. It will also be published in Pipe Smokers Unleashed Magazine in the September issue.

Carl and I ended our evening of work on the billiard with these last few comments.

SL – Nicely done. It looks like a “new” pipe. Fire up a good bowl of something and enjoy it. Tomorrow is sanding and staining day for the Dublin. Let’s see if we can get her looking as nice.

CH – Yeh, I’ll let the tea steep overnight so it is really dark.

SL – Do you have superglue there? We will need it on the fills tomorrow. If not we will be creative.

CH – This is the DR mate LOL.  Superglue is too technical for these people. I have the wood filler though and the tea LOL.

SL – We will make it work. I will check with you tomorrow when I have a bit of time to walk you through the other one. You can sand it some more if you like. Keep the stem on so you do not change the shape of the shank on it. Enjoy it. Once you have it ready we will look and see what we are dealing with. Enjoy the “new” pipe.

The next morning we reconnected on Skype to work on the Dublin. Carl had posted the following on the forum describing his work in prepping the pipe for the next lesson on staining.

CH – Ok guys, Dublin on the table today to carry on. This pipe requires a bit more in terms of restoration as I really wanted to try a re-stain and do more work on it. Here is a picture of what it looks like right now.

Image

First thing I did this morning was fire up the billiard with a bowl of CH and thought about what I wanted to do. I was intending to try and get a more contemporary look to the pipe with a pale stain but a couple of things are working against that at the moment. The first is the number of fills on the pipe and I only have access to my mahogany wood filler. The second is that when you wipe the bowl down with Isopropyl the briar color is quite dark and will actually make a good match to the filler I have.

Ok work done so far this morning while sipping away at the billiard.
– Sanding of bowl with 220 to remove all traces of previous finish.
– Next I wanted to remove as much of the chipping on the rim as possible so I took a piece of 220 and laid it on a glass desk that I have and sanded the rim in circular motions, alternating between clockwise and anticlockwise to keep the profile of the bowl intact. I did this for about 20 minutes or so and removed all chips apart from one that has about 1mm left on it and is hardly noticeable. The rim has a nice crisp sharp edge and when we stain I will look again to see if I need to push to remove that last tiny bit.
– I then looked at the fills on the pipe and as I am going to refill these I used a small flathead screwdriver take out the old filler.
– All sanding was done with the stem in place to ensure that the profile of shank to stem is not lost.

That is the stage where we are at the moment and the image above shows the current status of the Dublin. It looks very good. I will wash the bowl down with Isopropyl alcohol to remove any of the sanding grit and filler grit that may be left. Once that is done I will work on those fills. Then re-sand the bowl to blend in the fills. Glad to see that they match the colour of the wet briar. Hopefully they can disappear a bit into the briar.

As I didn’t have an old toothbrush (going to have to start saving them) I used an old 9mm pistol brush to clean the bowl with Isopropyl. When I was sure that all traces of the old filler were out and that the bowl was clean I then filled the holes with mahogany wood filler. I used a piece of cardboard from an old battery packaging that was fairly strong but flexible. This allowed me to push the putty right into the holes. I then tamped the putty with the flat edge of a screwdriver to ensure that it was really packed in.
Image

As you can see I really overdid the filler. This will ensure that all gaps are filled and I can sand down to the bowl profile evenly.

SL – Looking really good. Once it is dry sand it down to the bowl surface. I think the putty will dry lighter than the briar but it is better than the pink filler that was there.

CH – Once I have sanded it down we will want to do some work to highlight the beautiful grain that is on that one. I would like to see if we can make it pop a bit. It will also help to hide the fills and make them a bit less obvious.

SL – That is what we are going to want to highlight with our staining. Hopefully we can make it pop. I usually use black stain to do that. But we will make do.

After sanding the filler Carl took these photos to show me the pipe. The fills are very visible as the putty dried much lighter in colour than it was when wet. We will have to do a bit of work to hide the fills under the stain. This will not be a light tan coloured pipe at this rate.

Image

SL – Use the tea to paint the grain lines. Then follow it up with the medium brown stain applied with a brush on the grain lines, flame it and then buff it. When you are done send me a photo to see where we stand.

CH – Here is the pipe with the tea and then medium brown stain on one side to test how the filler shows.

Image

SL – It is looking really good. Put some stain on the shank near the stem. We will then use a black permanent marking pen to follow the grain lines through the fills. This will help hide them under the stain. Continue to re-stain the pipe until it is all brown and evenly stained. Then buff with Tripoli then White Diamond and finally carnauba wax.

Carl went on to use the marker on the fills and then re-stained the pipe several times. He flamed it after each stain and then buffed the pipe.

CH – I have done it and here is the final result is not too bad for a beginner I think……
ImageImageImageImage

SL – Fills covered pretty well Carl. If I did not know they were there I would not see them. They are hidden quite well. Nicely done for sure. You have two “new” ones you can be proud of. Well done. Got the bug now?

CH – Best fun I’ve had with my clothes on LOL. Now where is that damned lathe and band saw.
If it is as much fun to carve as it is to refurbish then I’m hooked and can’t wait to get back to the UK and make a little workshop.

SL – As the voice guide in the process I have got to say I had a great time as well. The final product tells the story. Working through the process via Skype and reporting it here was very cool. Enjoy your new pipes!

A Unique Piece of Pipe History – A Royden Meer-Tone


Blog by Steve Laug

I picked this old Royden Meer-Tone up in a sale on EBay where a friend wanted the tobacco pouch that came with it. I won the bid and the result was he got the pouch and I got to keep this unique little pipe. It is different than any I have seen. I have done some research trying to find information on it and cannot find much at all. I have seen several on EBay that are unsmoked, some on Etsy that are also unsmoked, one even in a box. But there is not any information on the manufacturer that I can find. Anyone know anything about this brand and maker? Let us know.

The stem is a yellow nylon, the bowl is a white plastic (maybe Bakelite) and the lining of the bowl is a meerschaum cup inserted into the bowl and drilled on the side like a regular pipe. The meer cup is fit tight to the bottom of the bowl with no airspace between it and the bottom of the bowl. When it arrived the meer was dirty – possibly smoked just a few times as the bottom of the bowl was still clean. The top half of the bowl and the rim were darkened. The shank had a fine crack in it.

I used 1500 grit micromesh to clean up the rim of the insert and the outer edge of the bowl. I also used the micromesh to polish the plastic bowl that the insert sat in. There were rub marks and some scratches that the micromesh took care of. The nylon stem was dirty on the inside and stained with tobacco oils. I cleaned that with some alcohol on pipe cleaners and a shank brush until it was clean. The inside of the shank was also dirty and I cleaned it as well. I repaired the crack in the shank with a little superglue and then banded the shank with a pressure fit nickel band. The stem had tooth marks (fortunately not deep). I am not sure about heating a nylon stem to raise the marks so in this case I sanded them with 240 grit sandpaper until they were gone. I used 400 and 600 grit wet dry (you probably have gotten the pattern by this point in my stem refurbishing) and then used micromesh pads 1500-12,000 grit. I find that the 8000 and the 12,000 add a noticeable shine to the stem.

The pictures below give you a good idea of what the pipe looks like. It is a small pipe – roughly 5 inches in length.

ImageImageImageImage