Daily Archives: September 7, 2012

Restemmed Savinelli Hand Carved Folk Art Bowl

I picked up the three pipes below at an antique mall in Washington. The third one is the one about which I am writing this article. It came with the two stems pictured with it below. Neither of them fit the pipe. I decided to work on a tapered stem for this one. The bowl as badly faded in terms of colouration. One side was darker than the other. The rim was darkened and tarred. What attracted me to this pipe was the interesting folk art carving on the bowl. There was a hand carved vine that was carved around the bowl top with and interesting line on the top and bottom of the design. There was also a sheaf of leaves on the front of the bowl. There were also the initials C. J. I believe carved in the front of the bowl. They were done in an old Germanic style script. The carving was nicely done and very folksy. I decided to pick it up rework it.


The first thing I did to it was to clean and ream the bowl. I wanted to have it clean to work on. I do what I call a field dress when I pick them up in the shops. I generally have a bottle of Isopropyl alcohol and a small reamer and pipe cleaners to get the major grime off. I have added some cotton pads to that kit. I cleaned enough to bring home with less work to do at home. I finished cleaning and reaming it. I scrubbed the top of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush until the tars and grime were gone. I scrubbed the carvings as well and wiped off the soap. Once it was clean I found a nice taper stem in my can of stems and fit the tenon to the mortise. I then used my Dremel to get the stem diameter to match the shank. When it was as close as I could get it with the Dremel I dropped the bowl in the 99% alcohol bath to soak while I worked on the stem with sandpaper – 240 grit, 400 and 600 grit wet dry and water – to remove the scratches and smooth out the surface and flow of the stem.

When I took the pipe out of the bath I dried it and looked at the shank. I kind of like the look of a nickel band on these chubby pipes so I pressure fit a band on the shank. I then restained the pipe with some medium brown Feibings Shoe Dye (an aniline stain). I flamed it to set the stain and then took it to the buffer to polish the new stain. The carving held a bit of the stain so they are just a shade darker than the rest of the bowl.

I sanded the stem with my micromesh list – 1500 – 6000 grit pads. Once done I buffed the stem (on the pipe) with White Diamond. I gave the whole pipe several coats of  carnauba wax to build a shine and make the grain shine. ImageImageImageImageImage

Chuck’s Gift Pipes Part 2 – an Old Diamond Shank WDC Pot with a Bakelite Stem

The second pipe in the gift from Chuck (desertpipe on Smokers Forums) was an old WDC with a Bakelite or Redmanol Stem. It is a beautiful translucent red stem. The band has gold filigree like scrolling on each of the four sides of the diamond shank band. The bowl was clean but in need of a light reaming. The finish was broken but did not seem to hide any obvious fills in the dark colour. The stem was over turned almost a quarter turn (pictures 1-3 below). The tenon was a bone tenon screw mount into a thread shank (picture 4 below). The stem also had two tooth marks one on the top that was not too deep and one on the underside that was deep (pictures 5-7). The button was missing an edge on the right side. It was almost like a piece of the button had been sliced off and it was a smooth angle (picture 8). The stem had some kind of buildup on it near the shank junction. At first it looked like chips or flake on the surface of the stem but upon inspection it was just buildup. The orific button was central and the curvature of the button face was nicely done. This one showed some promise. I was going to need to figure out how to correct the over turn on the stem. ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

I took the pipe apart and reamed the bowl carefully. It was lightly caked but I wanted to smooth out the surface of the walls to get a clean start to the building of a new cake. I personally prefer removing the old cake so that I can build a good hard cake of my own making rather than live with the ghosts of the old one. The next two pictures show the Pipnet reamer that I prefer using on these old pipes as it is very controllable and easily handled. Image

I used finger nail polish remover (acetone) to remove the finish from the bowl. I wanted to have fresh wood to work on with the new stain and finish. I wiped it down with the cotton pads that are visible in the pictures below. I find that these are perfect for wetting with the acetone and rubbing off the finish. Once I had wiped it down and the finish was gone sanded the bowl down and also topped the bowl just a bit. The edge of the bowl had been rounded quite a bit and the rim was not clean. I sanded it carefully to remove the scratches and the dents as well as to level the edges and give the surface a more crisp sharp edge. I also sanded the inner edge to smooth out some of the out of round portions of the bowl. I was careful in the sanding and the wiping down with acetone to not remove the gold paint that had been put in the stamping of the triangle and WDC logo on the shank. Pictures 1-2 below show the bowl after sanding and wiping down with acetone. Picture 3 shows the top of the bowl and rim after the slight topping and sanding. Picture 4 shows the nice graining on the diamond shank and the “keel” on the underside of the bowl. ImageImageImageImage

Once I had the bowl clean I decided to work on the bite marks on the stem. Picture 1 shows the bite mark on the top of the stem. It was not too deep so I was able to raise it a bit with boiling water and then I sanded out the remaining tooth mark. Picture 2 shows the underside of the stem with the bite mark. It is on the low part of the stem near the button. It is a bit hard to see in the picture but it was significantly deeper than the one on the top of the stem. The heat lifted it a bit and I was able to sand it but it still was present and too much sanding would have changed the curvature of the stem. ImageImage

The button, seen in the first picture below, is missing a portion on the top right (or lower left in picture 1 below). It does not have the graceful curve of the other side but is actually a slice or a flat spot on the button that tapers into the stem with no edge. The second picture shows the first layer of the fill I added with super glue. I wanted to build up the missing portion by layering superglue until it was repaired and then shape it with sandpaper and files. ImageImage

While the superglue patch cured a bit I decided to work on the over turned stem. To correct that overturn I would need to loosen the bone tenon in the stem. In the past I have heated the tenon and then turned the stem like I have done on the metal tenons on Kaywoodie pipes. This one was a totally different fix. In picture 1 below I filled a cup with water and boiled it in the microwave for 3 minutes. Once I removed it from the microwave I placed the stem in the bowl – tenon down in the boiling water. I repeated this until I was able to loosen the tenon. Picture 2 shows the tenon loose and free of the stem. The threading on the portion in the stem is finely threaded. I tried different methods to align the stem. Picture three and four show the tenon screwed into the shank to different levels. I then would twist the stem on until it was tight. No matter how many times I did this and no matter how many turns I could not get it to align properly with the shank. It was always either a ½ turn or a full turn off. I wrapper the tenon with cotton thread and reinserted it to lift the tenon a bit from the stem. The results were categorically them same – overturned or under-turned no matter how many ways I tried it. I was mystified on how to do it so I set it aside and went to bed for the night. ImageImageImageImage

This morning when I got up I had an idea on how to tackle the overturn. In the middle of the night I woke with a thought – what if I turned the stem back and forth a bit and see what happened. I remembered the concept of self adjusting emergency brakes on a car. On one of my old cars I would put the car in reverse and pull the emergency brake on and off until it was adjusted. I adapted that with the stem. I turned it forward and backward a few times and sure enough after a few turns the stem was aligned properly! I could not believe it! I don’t know what I would have done had I not had that flash of memory in the middle of the night. Picture 1 below shows the aligned stem and the sanded smooth bowl ready to be stained. Image

I restained the bowl with an oxblood stain applied with a cotton swab. I was careful about putting too much stain on the gold stamping of the WDC in the Triangle. I wanted to retain that feature. Once the stain was applied I flamed it with a match and then rubbed the surface with a piece of flannel to remove the excess stain and allow the grain to show through. I then took it to the buffer and buffed it with White Diamond to bring back a good shine. I coated it with several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a flannel buff to polish it. The four pictures below show the final look of the bowl after the stain and the wax. Picture 3 shows the nice grain on the “keel’ of the pipe. I love the cross grain on this old beauty. Picture 4 shows the polished rim and top after buffing. The edges are now crisp and much more defined than in the original photos of the pipe. ImageImageImageImage

The next pictures show the work I did on the button to build up the worn part. Picture 1 shows the state of the patch after the first layer of super glue. Picture 2 shows the second layer of super glue. The button is starting to come back to the original shape and match the other side. Picture three shows the superglue patch to the deeper tooth mark on the underside of the stem. I had heated and sanded the spot but it did not rise any further so I filled the remaining tooth mark with clear super glue. I have found that the clear superglue works very well on Bakelite and on horn stems. Once sanded and blended in with micromesh it is virtually invisible. Picture 4 shows the stem from an end view. On the right top you can see the damage to the button. You can also see that the super glue is building up the area to match the left top. After this photo I added several more layers of super glue. ImageImageImageImage

The next picture shows the continued build up of the button with the super glue. The first picture shows that the curve of the button is coming back to match the left side of the button. My goal was to build up the button on the right side to a point where it was actually a bit overfilled and slightly larger than the curve on the left and then sand it until it matched. Image

Picture 1 below shows the recut button. I used needle files to cut the edge of the button to a clean sharp edge differentiating it from the smooth curve of the stem. I also sanded the stem and the edge of the button with fine grit emery cloth to make the transition between the button and the stem very clear. Picture 2 below shows the button from the end after I have begun to shape the right edge to match the left edge. The angles and shape are like a North American football. ImageImage

From this point on the shaping progressed to 1500 grit micromesh as I wanted to fine tune the shaping and smooth the transitions and angles of the button. The first picture shows the edge is clean and sharp. The brown spots at the top of the photo are the remnants of sanding dust after using the micromesh pads. Picture 2 shows that the shape is curved and the match of left and right is virtually perfect. ImageImage

The next series of photos show the button after sanding with the 1800 grit micromesh pad. Pictures 1 and 2 show the stem in profile. The button is distinct and clear in the pictures. Picture 1 is of the left side – the unrepaired side of the stem. You can see the sharp edges of the cut between the stem and the button. Picture 2 is the right side in profile – the repaired side. Again the sharp edge of the cut between stem and button are clear. The slope of the button matches the left side as well. The stem repair on this one is done. All that remains is to polish it with the remaining grits of micromesh. Picture 3 shows the stem from the top. You can see the new edge of the button and the nice straight edge from left to right. The surface is smooth and once the remaining sanding is done it will look as good as new. Pictures 4 and 5 show the button from the end. You can see the nice curves of the “football” on each end and the gentle curve to the middle of the button over the orifice airway. ImageImageImageImageImage

I worked on the stem and button with micromesh pads from 1500-12,000 grit and water to shape and polish the button and the stem. One of the beauties of the Redmanol stem is the rich ruby glow to the stem when the light reflects off of it. That glow is hard to capture in photos but it is what I was aiming for in the polishing of this stem. Picture 1 and 2 show the finished button on the pipe stem. It is a perfect match on the left and the right. The super glue patch and build up blended in perfectly and even in hand is not visible. I love the way it blends with this Redmanol/Bakelite stems. ImageImage

The next series of photos (pictures 1-4) show the finished pipe. It has had many coats of carnauba by this point and is back to its original lustre. The oxblood stain brings the deep richness of the bowl back to the surface and it looks like it must have in much better days. Pictures 5 and 6 show one last look at the stem. The button is smooth and the transition between the stem and the button is crisp and clean. The “football” shape of the button is restored and the pipe is ready to smoke. ImageImageImageImageImageImage

Thank you once again Chuck for giving me the opportunity of restoring this pair of old timers to life again. It has been a pleasure and each was a challenge in its own way as I worked to bring them back to life again. I look forward to firing up a bowl in each of them in the course of the weekend ahead.

Resurrecting a Barling “Fossil” – Gan Barber

When I put this Barling away in my ‘Lazarus’ box, I thought that it might be from the Early Transition period, and therefore made from the last of that century old Algerian briar that Barling’s were famous for. I had not looked carefully at the nomenclature obscured beneath the grime. Noting that it was a Barling’s, I stored it away, looking forward to the opportunity to smoke from a piece of classic wood.

When I pulled it out and inspected the markings I was disappointed to find it had all the earmarks of a post transition period pipe.  The Barling was in script, the model number had four digits, and T.V.F was stamped on the shank. Further, the bowl was not particularly well carved and there were several major fills – something you would never find on a Pre-transition family era pipe. Oh well. I decided to proceed with the refurb anyways.

I pulled a beautifully grained twin bore saddle bit Canadian from a drawer of miscellaneous pipes that I randomly smoke. It has no maker’s name, and is simply marked “France” 255. What a great smoker. Dry and sweet, it sang with the sample of Rincon De LA Pipe No. 1 sent to me compliments of 4noggins Tobacco.  So, what’s in a name? You just never know…..

The pipe was in poor condition, having been snapped at the bowl junction where the shank was very thin. Image

The airway was also drilled off center, which may have contributed to the break. Image

Dirt and grime aside, the bowl chamber was not scorched or heavily caked. The stem had some tooth marks, but was more dirty than oxidized. Image

The bowl and shank were placed in my trusty container of 91% Isopropyl alcohol (99% is hard to fine in my neck of the woods) and left to soak for several hours. Meanwhile, the stem went into a bath of Oxy-Clean for 30 minutes, mostly to loosen any residual tars in the airway. Once soaked, pulling several bristle cleaners through the airway was all that was needed to clean out the gunk. After wet scrubbing the exterior with synthetic 0000 wool and Oxy-Clean, the stem was set aside to dry.

Once the bowl was done soaking, I cleaned the small amount of cake from the bowl with my Senior reamer, dipping the bowl in the bath to rinse out the bits and pieces that came free. Next, the exterior surfaces were scrubbed with the synthetic 0000 wool, working wet with clean alcohol.

At this point, with the cleaning finished, the Barling was beginning to come back to life. I set the pipe aside for the evening to let everything dry thoroughly before moving on to the bonding phase. Image

I used my favorite epoxy, JB Kwik to bond the shank back to the bowl. I set the two parts on a clean work surface, aligned as closely as possible, before mixing the epoxy. I applied a thin layer to both surfaces. I pressed the shank and bowl together, taking care to align the fracture, and let as much excess as possible squeeze out to minimize the joint. Hand pressure for three minutes is all that is needed for the initial bond. I then set the bowl down and let it rest for another 7 minutes (approximate). Under ideal temperature, humidity and proportioning, JB Kwik reaches a rubbery stage after 10 minutes.  At this point, I removed the excess epoxy that squeezed from the joint with the tip of a utility knife blade. It peels off like a rubber gasket if you catch it at the right point as it cures. I then used the bit from my Senor reamer to carefully remove any excess epoxy that may have gotten into the airway. Care must be taken to work slowly and with very little pressure, as any leverage against the shank my cause the newly bonded joint to fail. Once the excess epoxy has been removed, I let the stummel cure for at least 6 hours.

With the pipe joined and epoxy cured, it was time to take the bowl and stem to the buffer for an initial polishing with red rouge. After cleaning any residual compound off with alcohol, the bowl was ready for stain. The stem needed some sanding to clean up the faint scouring from the synthetic 0000 wool. The Barling Cross logo was a faint memory, so conserving it was not a concern. 2×2 flex micro-mesh pads, 1500 through 4000, did the trick.

After two wash coats of Feibing’s Medium Brown aniline dye, and spot staining the two rather large fills (sorry, the photos were not usable), I wiped the bowl down vigorously with a micro-fiber cloth and set the stain with a table-top lighter. The micro-fiber cloth works wonders in evening out the coats of dye. Uneven coating or overlap marks blend beautifully when wiped down just after the dye dulls completely.

With the stain applied, the fills touched up, and the stem sanded, all that was left was a gentle once-over with white diamond, followed by three coats of carnauba wax on the bowl. The stem received a white diamond buff, followed by two coats of Briar Works Stem Wax and Sealer. I prefer to protect the stem this way, as my saliva tends to react with straight carnauba, leaving an unsightly white stain. ImageImage

I’ll save the repair of the tooth dents on the stem for a future essay…..

It may be inferior, when compared to the legendary family era Barlings, but it was still fun to resurrect a pipe that could be half a century old. Sandblasted or rusticated pipes are much easier to repair in this manner, as the rough texture tends to hide the repair. The fracture is only evident on the smooth portion of the stem where the nomenclature resides.

Thanks for looking.