Blog by Steve Laug
In celebration of his 1500th post on Smokers Forums, Chuck (Desertpipe) sent me an email regarding some packages that he was going to distribute to three folks on the Forums. Two of them came to the Vancouver area and one went to the East Coast of the US. I refurbished the older Barling that is heading east as a surprise to the new owner. (I posted the refurb on that old pipe on the blog https://rebornpipes.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/new-life-for-an-old-barling/ ) Now the wait for the package to come my way north and into my mail box begins.
Chuck posted on SF that he had mailed out the packages. On 08/23/12 I received this email from him regarding the package coming my way. It seems he has chosen two pipes for me to work on. I look forward to seeing them.
Back a decade ago, when I first started getting serious about understanding pipes, I discovered the wonderful world of size. I dawned on me that the size of pipes had radically changed over the course of time, related to the quality, cost and strength of tobacco. I put together quite a collection of pipes from many decades, and also a collection of tobaccos from as many sources and time frames as I could.
The two pipes coming your way are from this collection. The red stemmed pipe will need your magic touch to return to perfect, and I look forward to your take on the restoration. The other is one of my two favorites of this type. It has all the bells and whistles that make one collect very old examples, and I bet it finds a permanent home in your collection.
Enjoy, my Friend,
When I received the above email, my curiosity was piqued and I sent him an email asking about the age of the two pipes and this is his response via a reply email.
My best guess…..The red stem is early Redmanol time frame….puts it 1920’s/30’s? 14k gold filled band has no marks to help out. The horn bit folder (so far beyond cool as to be in a class by itself) is before that, as far as I have been able to trace, turn of the Century or a bit before?
Now I am even more excited to see what the package contains once it arrives. I have a weak spot for older pipes. The tension of the wait increases!
Today, 9/4/2012 Chuck’s gift box arrived. I opened it to find a tin of C&D Opening Night and two nice little old timers. The first is an old WDC bent pot with a Redmanol stem. The other is a folding vest pocket pipe. The shank has a 90 degree bend and the stem is horn. These are going to be great to work on.
I chose to work on the folding vest pocket pipe first. It is stamped Vogini over Venezia in an oval on the upward bend of the bowl to meet the shank. When it arrived the bowl was clean. There were a few scratches on the rim. There were small dents on the left and right side of the bowl. The band was set crooked with the back side lower than the front making a good seat for the shank impossible. The shank is briar and is a 90 degree bent piece. It is very unusual. There were fills on both the top and the underside of the horizontal part of the shank. The stem is a nice piece of horn that is actually quite tiny. It has tooth chatter on the top and the bottom side of the stem. There are two tooth dents on the underside next to the button. The orifice hole in the button is slightly off centre. This is a great looking old timer that should clean up easily and look amazing!
I have done a bit of research and find that the Venezia brand is definitely Italian and is either a Cavicchi mark or La Rocco but not sure which was an early company. The mark may even go back further into history that I am aware and than Who Made That Pipe reports. If any of you have any ideas on the age and provenance of this pipe let me know by posting a comment. Thank you ahead of time for the information.
On the evening it arrived I removed the band from the shank and glued, pressure fit it and reset it at a proper angle to seat the shank correctly. I used carpenters glue to reglue the band. I pressed it on and held it until it was set. I then wiped the bowl down with a cotton pad and acetone to clean off the grime and the remaining finish. I also wiped down the band to remove the oxidation that was built up on it.
I cleaned off the briar shank and the bowl with some more acetone to remove the finish completely and to clean it so that I could begin to repair the fills in the shank. The first photo below shows the pipe after has been wiped down with acetone completely. I avoid using acetone on horn stems. In pictures 2, 3, and 4 you can clearly see the cotton pads that I use with the acetone to wipe the pipe down. These are circularly pads that I pick up at a local store in the makeup section. They are used to remove makeup but I find them perfect for using with alcohol and acetone wipes. I dampen them with the liquid and then wipe down the surface. The dirty pads in the pictures show the dirt and stain that has been removed from the surface of the pipe.
Once the surface is clean, I picked the pink putty fills from the top and underside of the shank piece. I wanted to refill them with briar dust and super glue (pictures 1 and 2 below show the spots that were filled with the combination).
I sanded the filled areas (pictured in the next two photos) until they were smooth dark spots on the surface of the wood using fine and extra fine sanding pads. I continued to sand down the surface of the shank and the bowl until the spots were basically blended into the wood as much as possible. I also sanded the rim and top of the bowl to remove the scratches. The bowl and rim were sanded with micromesh pads 1500-2400 grit. The shank was also sanded with the same grits. Photos 3-4 show that finished look of the spots. Once they were sanded to that point I wiped down the shank piece with a pad and isopropyl alcohol to clean off any remaining dust on the briar.
I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem to remove the tooth chatter and the tooth marks on the underside. Horn is such interesting material to work with. I use a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the chatter and tooth marks. It is flexible so it is easy to conform to the curve of the stem. I also had to use emery cloth (fine grit) to remove the remaining marks left by the tooth dents.
I restained the bowl and the shank with an oxblood aniline stain, flamed it and then buffed it with White Diamond to remove opacity of the stain and polish it. I wanted the bowl and stem to match in colour rather than the original look of the darker shank and lighter bowl. I gave the entirety several coats of carnauba wax and a light buff with a flannel pad on the buffer.
From the above pictures you can see the colour of the shank and bowl are pretty close. I needed to do some work on the fit of the shank to the bowl. The briar tenon on that portion of the shank was loose fitting and could easily have fallen out at this point in the cleaning. I used a thin coat of super glue and sanded it down to make it a snug fit. Once the shank had a good flush fit and was snug to the bowl, I sanded it with micromesh pads 8000 and 12,000 grit to give it a shine. I gave it another coat of carnauba wax and set it aside.
I gave the tenon on the stem a thin coat of super glue as well and sanded it until the fit was snug. The stem had been loose and easily came out of the shank and would twist from side to side. The superglue made it fit perfectly. I continued to sand the surface of the stem with micromesh pads using the 1500 and 1800 grit pads before buffing it with White diamond. I went on to sand it with the pads from 2400-12,000 grit. Each successive sanding brought more of a shine to the stem. Once it was finished I gave it several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the whole pipe on the buffer to raise the shine.
The final pictures were taken this morning (9/5/12) after a quick wipe down with a polishing cloth. The next series of five photos show the pipe with the shank and stem extended and ready to smoke. There are several shots to show the state of the horn stem after the sanding and polish. It has a beautiful natural sheen to it that is amazing and only possible in horn. There is almost a warm glow that seems to come from within the stem. You can see that the super glue patches in the fills and the sandpits are fairly well blended into the shank.
The next series of four photos show the folded pipe ready to be put in the vest pocket and carried with me to the next event where I want to take a small pipe which folds up nicely into a small square and slips into my pocket. The grain on this little pipe is amazing.
I would like to once again thank Chuck for his generous gift of this old timer. I look forward to firing it up and smoking it over the remaining years I am around. I love these unique old timers that add colour and character to my collection. I often wonder what stories they would tell if they could speak. Ah well, I will now add my story to the list of those who have smoked and enjoyed this beauty.