Monthly Archives: October 2012

Banding a cracked shank – Pressure fitting a metal band on a pipe shank


Blog by Steve Laug

There are many options in terms of the bands that can be used to repair a cracked shank or to give a cosmetic facelift to a pipe shank. Pipe Makers Emporium carries nickel, silver and gold bands in both short and long lengths. They also carry end caps should you want to use an end cap on a pipe or do a repair on a Peterson pipe. I have included pictures of the options that you can choose with regard to bands. I personally purchased the nickel banding assortment that is in the first photograph. It gives you a wide range of diameter bands that can be used. From this I then replenished the areas that I needed more and also added some silver, gold and end caps to the lot. This set up has worked for me for many years and I just add as necessary.
Bands1

Bands2

Bands3

Bands4

Pipe Makers Emporium also sells a banding tool that they advertise as making banding more simple. I have not used the tool as I find that my method works well for me. I will detail my procedure below and include photos of the process.
Bands5

My process for banding a pipe will be seen in the following photos and the accompanying description of the work.

The pipe that I needed to band had a crack in the shank at the top. You can see the length of the crack. I always clean it out with a dental pick and drip some superglue into the crack and squeeze it together with a clamp that has rubber on the teeth. Once the glue is dry – which is actually very quick – I choose a proper band (in the case of the pipe that I picture below it is a 13.5mm nickel band). The ideal choice is a band that is approximately the same size as the diameter of the shank. You do not want it too large as it will slide when the pipe is disassembled or heated. You also want one that will bind together the crack in the shank. The 13.5mm was perfect and matched the size of the shank.
Bands6

Bands7

Bands8

I place the band on the end of the shank – in this case it only fit minimally along ¾ of the band. One edge was too tight to fit. I heat the band with a heat gun, being careful not to burn wood – this generally only takes a few moments.
Bands9

Bands10

I then pressed the shank into the band on a piece of soft carpet that is on a solid table top. Do not force the fit as a heated band will tear. Reheat it until it is pliable enough to fit the shank well. When you are satisfied as to the fit and placement of the band, cool the band slowly before proceeding to work on the edges. I use room temperature water and dip the end of the shank with the band into the water. If you use the tool here you can press the end into the bowl at the end of the tool to round the edges and make for a nice fit. I use a piece of tightly woven wool carpet and twist the end of the banded shank into the carpet. In my opinion this does the same thing as the shank tool.
Bands13

When the band is in place the pipe is ready for the stem to be refitted. Often the tenon will need to be reduced in diameter to fit the tightened shank. In the case of this pipe I needed to fit a stem as the bowl did not come to me with its stem. I used sandpaper to turn the tenon down to size on an older stem that I had in my jar of stems. The next series of photos show the band in place on the shank. It is pressure fit and it is tight and immovable. The third photo shows the top view of the shank and you will notice that the crack that was very visible before is now no longer visible. The fourth and fifth photos show an end view of the fit of the band. It is flush with the end of the shank so that the new stem will fit snugly in place.
Bands14

Bands15

Bands16

Bands17

The next series of four photos show the new stem that is fitted to the pipe. There is still some oxidation that needs to be removed from it but you can see the fit and finish of the stem and the banded shank.
Bands18

Bands19

Bands20

Bands21

Advertisements

Restemmed a Couple of Interesting Smaller Uniques


I am posting pictures of two pipes that I finished up that needed new stems. I am putting them into one post as I did the two of them at the same time. The first is unique in terms of cut and shape of the bowl. The second is unique in terms of its size.

The first is a no name spiral cut piece of briar that is unique in terms of the cut and shape. It is almost like a cylinder on a motor in terms of defusing the heat from the bowl. I have smoked it and it does not heat up at all no matter how I puff on it. I used a pre-moulded stem that I turned the tenon on and cut to fit with a Dremel. I chose the saddle stem because of the look of the profile. I sanded it with 280 grit sandpaper until smooth and then followed up with my usual combination of 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper and micromesh pads from 1200-12000 grit.
IMG_5723

This is the second pipe that I restemmed in this series of pipes. It also is a no name brand. There is no stamping on the bowl. It is 4 inches in length but has a full sized bowl. It is a great little pocket pipe. It has a beautiful sandblast that is rustic and deep. I also used a pre-moulded stem that I turned the tenon on and cut to fit with a Dremel. I chose the saddle stem because of the look of the profile. I sanded it with 280 grit sandpaper until smooth and then followed up with my usual combination of 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper and micromesh pads from 1200-12000 grit. Once it fit well I heated it with my heat gun and bent it with a slight downward angle.

Both pipes were buffed with White Diamond (most attention to the stem) and then given multiple coats of carnauba to the stems. I used Halcyon II wax on the sandblast bowl and carnauba on the finned bowl to give them a sheen.

ImageImageImage

New Life for a BBB Ultima Thule Pocket Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

I picked up this little BBB in the same lot as the little BBB bulldog that I posted about recently. It is a similar pocket size (4 and ½ inches) and needed a bit of work. It is stamped BBB in the standard diamond and over that Ultima Thule. (According to Wikipedia the name refers to any distant place beyond the known world.) Under the diamond it is stamped Own Make. The first two pictures are the EBay seller’s photos. When the pipe arrived I can honestly say that the seller did a great job on taking honest photos. The pipe was solid but in rough shape. The rim was slanted toward the front and round all the way around with many nicks and dents in it from tamping the pipe out. It was still round on the inner edge which is pretty amazing on these old timers. This was a pretty well cared for pipe other than the tamping. The finish was dirty and spotty – lighter in some places than others – with a mottled look to it. The stem was oxidized and the edge/ shoulder at the shank junction was rounded and no longer a good smooth fit. There were no bite marks on the stem and the surface was smooth under the oxidation. This would not be a bad clean up.
ult1

I separated the stem and bowl and reamed the bowl. I wiped the exterior with acetone to remove the remaining finish and the grime. Then I placed the bowl in the alcohol bath to soak while I worked on the stem.

The stem actually was relatively easy to clean up. I wiped it down with a damp magic eraser and removed the majority of oxidation. Then I sanded it with 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper followed by 1200-6000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I gave it a coating of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. Once the bowl was finished I would buff them together. I did not want to chance rounding the edges even more. I also did not want to lose any more of the button on the pipe stem by over buffing.

I removed the bowl from the alcohol bath after 1 hour of soaking. I dried it off and cleaned out the shank with pipe cleaners, shank brush and cotton swabs soaked in isopropyl alcohol. I worked those until they came out clean. I used sandpaper on the interior of the bowl to smooth out the remaining cake and clean the surface. I wiped it down with cotton swabs and isopropyl afterwards. I used the sanding board and paper to top the bowl and bring it back to a flat and even condition. I did not have to remove very much of the top but I wanted it to be straight and not slanted toward the front. I used my normal variety of sandpapers (280, 400 and 600) to do this and finished it with micromesh sanding pads 1200-6000 to remove the remaining scratches. I wiped down the bowl with a cotton pad dampened with acetone to remove any sanding dust and remnants of the topping process. I restained this bowl with an oxblood stain thinned with isopropyl to arrive at the original colour. I flamed the stain and when dry took it to the buffer and gave it a buff with White Diamond.

I reinserted the stem and the gap and roundness of the shoulders on the stem made a smooth fit impossible to attain. I decided to use an old BBB band that I had in my box and heated it and pressure fit it to the shank. I liked the finished look of the pipe. I gave the entirety several coats of carnauba wax and a polishing buff with a clean flannel buffing pad. The pictures below show the finished product.
ult2

ult3

Refurbished – A Stunning New Look for a Butz Choquin Billiard


I picked up this old Butz Choquin in a lot I was given by a friend and it was in very rough shape. I somehow neglected to take any pictures of what the pipe looked like when it arrived. But it came stem less and the rim was ruined. It had been hammered on concrete or something like that as it was stippled and rough. The inner rim was ruined as it seemed to have been reamed with a pocket knife and it was cut and grooved at all different angles. To have topped it I would have had to lose almost a half an inch on the pipe. In my opinion that would have ruined the billiard profile and created a pot shape. I decided to try something different on this one. The finish was shot as well and the stain was gone. It was a dull brown with much dirt and grime ground into the surface of the briar.

I reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer (like a Castleford T handle reamer) to even the sides of the bowl and smooth out the inner surface. I wiped the bowl down with acetone to clean off the grime and grit. Once it was clean I hunted down a stem blank that would work on a pipe with this sized shank. I cut the tenon with my Pimo tenon turner and shaped the stem to a clean fit with my Dremel. Then I took the bowl and dropped it in the alcohol bath while I worked on the stem. I sanded the stem to remove the scratches left by the Dremel. I also shaped the button a bit to change the shape and open up the slot to an oval.

I took the bowl out of the bath and dried it off. I gave it another wipe down with the acetone to give me a clean surface to work on. I then went to work on the rim. I wanted to chamfer the rim inward toward the bowl to remove the damaged material and give it a different look. I topped the bowl first to get a smooth and even surface. From there I sanded the inner edge of the rim with a folded piece of sandpaper (280 grit). I use a one inch square piece of sandpaper folded into quarters. Then I set the angle I want to have on the chamfer by the way I hold the paper. I sanded it until I got it at the angle I wanted and removed the damaged material. Once I had the angle right I then changed the grade of sandpaper sanding it with 400 and 600 grit wet dry and then with the micromesh sanding pads from 1500 to 6000 grit.

At that point I put the stem back on the pipe and sanded it until the transition between the shank and the stem was smooth. I wanted it to be a fit that appeared to be seamless. Once I had that done and had sanded the stem smooth with the various grades of micromesh sanding pads I took it to the buffer to give the stem a shine. I brought it back to my work table and sanded the bowl and shank until they were also smooth. I did not sand around the nomenclature as I wanted that to be intact.

I decided that I would give the bowl a contrasting stain finish. I heated the briar with a blow dryer to warm it up and open the grain on the bowl. Once it was warm I stained it with a black aniline stain. I flamed the stain and let it dry. I took it to the buffer and buffed it with Red Tripoli to remove the black stain from the surface of the briar. This takes off the extra black and leaves it in the softer grain of the briar. I sanded it again with 600 and 800 grit wet dry sandpaper and then buffed it again with White Diamond. I wanted contrast between the black that was deeply set in the grain and the harder smooth surfaces. Once that was done I wiped the bowl down with acetone to tone down the blacks and to clean off the surfaces that did not have the stain set in them. I restained the pipe with a Medium Brown aniline stain and flamed it as well. Once it was dry I buffed it with White Diamond to polish it. The whole pipe was then given multiple coats of carnauba wax and a finish buff with a soft, clean, flannel buffing pad.

While I liked the look of the pipe at this point I decided that it needed a bit of bling to finish it off. I have a box of bands here and found one the correct size – a nickel band that would add just the touch I was looking for. I heated the band with my heat gun and pressure fit it on the shank of the pipe. The finished product is in the photos below. This pipe found a new home with a friend on one of the online forums. I am sure he has enjoyed it as it was a great smoking machine.

The verdict is yours is the new look stunning or not?
bc1

bc2

bc3

bc4

bc5

New Life for a BBB Short Dog


I picked up this little BBB Bulldog on EBay and knew it would take some work. In the photo below you can see the cut in the stem – a groove or channel that served as a dental grip for the pipe. It is just in front of the button. There was some minor oxidation on the stem as well. The button had an orific opening (round hole in the button) rather than a slot. The rim and sides of the bowl were dirty and there was some darkening around the edges. The bowl was caked with a thick cake that would need to be reamed. The photo below is the one that was on EBay.
BBB1

When the pipe arrived it was smaller than I had imagined. No problem there as I like these pocket sized pipes. The stamping on the shank only had the BBB logo in the diamond. No name or other identifying marks were on either side of the shank. The stem did not have the BBB stamp or roundel. The finish was not too bad. The majority of work would need to be done on the rim and the top edges of the bulldog bowl. The stem was going to take some work to get rid of the trough that had been cut in it by a previous owner as a kind of dental bit. The bowl was not as caked as it had appeared in the original picture but had been over reamed and was out of round. The walls at the top appeared to be thinner than normal on a pipe of this shape.
bbb2

bbb3

You can see the size of the pipe from the photos above with the ruler. It is four inches long and delicate in the hands. I went to work on the stem first with my needle files and sandpaper to remove the trough on the top of the stem and the underside of the stem. This took some work as it could have radically changed the slope of the stem. I worked to keep the angle looking right from the saddle to the button. It took quite a bit of time to remove the excess vulcanite and reshape the blade of the stem. I sanded the stem smooth and then progressed through the micromesh grits 1500 through 12000. I put it back on the pipe and took it to the buffer and buffed it with White Diamond until it shone. Then I removed the stem and set it aside while I worked on the bowl.

The bowl needed most of the work on the area of the rim and the edges following down the bowl. There was lava and also darkening. I worked on the rim and the darkening with acetone on a soft cloth. It removed the majority of the darkening and grime. I decided to top the bowl minimally to smooth out the surface. I chamferred the inner rim with a folded piece of sandpaper to minimize the chatter from the over reaming. The pipe was given a coat of medium brown aniline stain, flamed and then buffed gently with White Diamond. The entirety was given multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed with a soft clean flannel buff. The final picture below has a Canadian penny included to give an idea of size. This will be helpful to those who are familiar with US and Canadian money. To others who are not you can refer to the photos above with a ruler. This is a nice little pipe that smokes very well. It also fits nicely into a coat pocket or shirt pocket!
bbb4

bbb5

bbb6

bbb7

Do something crazy, I dare ya! – Piet Binsbergen, 27 October 2012


Well I am a painter by trade. www.art.co.za/peterbinsbergen

I have not painted in some time as I have taken time out to work on a PhD in the field of art. I must admit, the timing is good as I kind of painted myself into a corner over the last 10 years. My passion is pipes. For some years I have been learning the trade of repair which was born from the need to be self-sufficient. I came to learn that imitating textures on canvas has become limiting. I surround myself with exotic woods and various metals which have tickled my senses and opened doors. I have no idea where I will be going in future but my research may reveal the way ahead.  For now I am having fun, and here is my way of expression.

It started in the form of Hot Rods. Pipes I could express myself with and push the boundaries. I have still felt that I am holding back. I spend much time with the South African pipe maker Jean du Toit, aka Jan Pietenpauw (www.pietenpauw.co.za). We get into interesting debates about pipes and pipe lore and I have learnt much from him over the past few years. Sometimes we collaborate, sometimes argue about shape and form but in essence the man is a sculptor. For this reason I will not carve pipes from scratch. I simply cannot compete with master carvers of our time. Besides, my interests lie elsewhere.

While working on my Hot Rod pipes I came to realise that I may be dabbling in art of some sort. The conceptualization process is the same, the medium differs. I decided that the pipes need to tell a story, places I have been, found objects I may have collected while being out and about. This idea came to me while making up the S.A.Y. 15 Plumbing pipe after a visit to my father-in-law out of town. I have nothing to lose; the pipes belong to me and not my clients.

I admire Ollie Sylvester for doing what he does. Steven Downie is the Guru. These are people who are really pushing the boundaries. In no way do I compare myself to these people; I just set about doing what I do.

Here is my “Davey Jones” pipe inspired by watching “Pirates of the Caribbean”, I noticed that “Mr. tentacles” himself smokes a real basic pipe. Here is my version.

This is a collaboration piece between Jan Pietenpauw and myself. He is in the process of carving the BIPS form 2013 poy’s. This stummel was misjudged on his part while in the jig on the lathe. The shank cracked in the process and it landed up in his trash box. Now I love his trash box. I have lifted many “Not good enough” stummels from that box in the past. Nothing wrong with them at all, they just do not fit the master’s creative bill, but they sure fit mine at times.

The shank ring is aluminum. It was polished at first but it looked to new so that too ended up under the Dremel. The idea was to create something that looked like it came from Davey Jones’ locker, polished and cleaned. It is the first time I have taken a Dremel to a stem. This is a pre-moulded stem with an olive shank ring added. I went crazy trying to create the same texture as on the pipe so it would eaten or drift wood rotten. The contrast between the textured area and the high polished stem was a little close so I got the needed contrast by adding an oil paint white wash to the textured are before polishing the stem. Finally, to add to the craziness I heated the stem and formed the bend.

Here is the craziest pipe I have ever done!

Enjoy.
crazy1

crazy2

crazy3

crazy4

crazy5

Polishing Stems (PART 1) Piet Binsbergen


I have had some questions about polishing stems.

I must warn that I will not be held responsible for any damage you may cause to pipes following this method. The process is relatively fail safe but certain circumstances that may be beyond my control, I simply cannot be held accountable for. I do suggest that you do a couple of trial runs using old or broken stems before you attempt this process with your beloved birth year Dunhill.

I will share with you my process. Please bear in mind that there are many ways to skin this cat, this is my way of doing things but this does not mean that I reject any other processes that other pipe repairman use.

I use two approaches. Firstly it is important when doing up a pipe to try and save the stems at all costs. So process 1 involves cleaning and polishing stems that have tarnished.

Secondly, especially when it comes to hotrods, I use pre-moulded stems. I am able to hand cut stems from rod stock but I find the process way to involved and time consuming for what I am doing. Call me a cheat but I find this works really well for me. My preferred medium is vulcanite and ebonite but I do not turn down Lucite stems if they come my way. Lucite is problematic in the sense that it has little give and little room for error. On the up side of it Lucite does not tarnish.

Part 1

Saving Original stems

As most of you know vulcanite is compressed rubber, the same stuff your car tyres are made of to a point. This rubber is just compressed way more. I have found different qualities of the stuff over the years and have notice some being more superior to others.

I do not have much to add here due to the fact that Steve Laug is doing some ground breaking work with regards to original stem repair. He manages to remove teeth marks and patch holes in bits. I have studied his technique but will need to pick his brain a little more before I perfect this process. For me, as soon as a stem has a hole in the bit, I replace it with a pre-moulded stem. (This process of his is archived on this blog.) I love tapered stems. There seems to be more ‘meat’ to work with and more ‘meat’ means there is room to open up the draft holes, file out teeth marks and restore the stem as good as new. Saddle stems prove to be a bit of a challenge due to the fact that there is not much room to move.

Most stems look like this, and believe me these are good ones!
Stems1

What I usually do is drop them into a bleach bath. Household bleach does the trick for me. Here in RSA I use a product called ‘Domestos ‘.
Stems2

WARNING: Be sure to coat the tenon and nomenclature (If any, like say the GBD rondelle) with Vaseline (Petroleum Jelly).
Stems3

This protects the stem material from coming into contact with the bleach. If you do not do this you will end up needing to resize the tenon as the bleach may eat away at it. As soon as the needed parts are coated, I drop the stem into the bleach. It will bubble a little and you will immediately notice the liquid turning brown. Depending on the extent of tarnish and the quality of the vulcanite will depend how long I leave the stem in the bleach.  A good average for me is 20 min.

Below is a picture of the stem in the bleach for a minute or so. It looks scary I know, but it works.
Stems4

Remove the stem from the bleach and rinse in warm water. Wipe off the Vaseline from the tenon. This process has an added bonus as it tends to eat the muck out of the draft hole in the process.

PROBLEM: But fear not. If you draw on the stem you will taste 2 things. Firstly, you are going to get a strong taste of bleach, secondly, you may taste the left overs from the ghosting of the previous owners blend. If it were aro’s you will really taste it. This is easy to get rid of.

The next step involves scrubbing out the daft hole. I use bristle brushes and bristle pipe cleaners. If I choose to open the stem to my preferred 4mm, I do it at this stage.

Interesting Observation: I have had clients complain that a pipe ghosts flavours of tobacco even when the bowl has been well refinished. Did you know that vulcanite is porous and will hold the ghost in the same way the bowl does. If you do not believe me remove a stem from an old pipe and draw on it, you will taste the ghost! The bleach bath cures this problem to a point. Further manual scrubbing aids the removal of the ghost.

The picture below shows how much dirt and grime is loosened and scrubbed out of the draft hole during this process.
Stems5

In order to remove all ghosting of tobacco, bleach and in order to sanitize the stem, I soak the stem in alcohol for an hour. I use Isopropyl alcohol (96%). Now this stuff is poisonous in a big way if ingested but research has proven that as soon as it has evaporated it is harmless. This is the same stuff used by hospitals to clean and sanitize operating theatres and equipment so go figure. After an hour remove the stem from the alcohol bath and rinse with clean water.

Here is a picture of the colour of the alcohol once the stem has come out a soaking for an hour.
Stems6

Notice the stem may turn white, light green or matte black depending on the type of vulcanite used by the manufacturer. I have noticed that most Peterson stems for example turn white. If you draw on the stem at this stage will taste nothing. I will be as good as new.

Sanding and polishing: You may notice the following, the stem may be smooth with colouration or it may look matt black and be rough textured. Start sanding. I use 400 and work my way up to 800 grit sand paper. This is a time consuming process, do not take any short cuts here. The last thing you want is a stem with a high polish that is full of surface scratches.

By the time I reach 800 grit I move to the buffer. I use Tripoli (Brown wax) which is equivalent to 800 grit sand paper and move onto White Diamond which is the same as 1200 grit. If you do not own a buffer, you can still get the same finish but the process will just take longer as you will hand sand up to 1200 grit and beyond.

The pictures below show the buffing process. Note that the picture of the stem on the right is not the finished product but shows what the stem looks like after buffing.
Stems7

By this stage the stem should shine and you should be able to see your reflection in the material. If not revert back to sanding, you have taken short cuts!

Depending on the type of material, as vulcanite differs in hardness, I continue hand sanding with 1500, 1800, and finally 2000 grit. Here you may notice the stem may start to dull a bit. The final polishing stages involves Brillo, or what we call Silvo here in RSA.  Silvo is a jewellery polish. Polishing is now done by hand using a soft duster cloth.
Stems8

Finally, and you may laugh, but, I use tooth paste as the final step. This is a trick I learnt from a flute maker who high polish silver. Think about it, it really is quite logical. Toothpaste is a fine, very fine, rubbing compound. This process is also done by hand using a soft duster cloth.
Stems9

A final word of advice: Vulcanite is light and air sensitive. The more light the faster the tarnishing process will start. To avoid further tarnishing I run the stem including the bowl over a slow spinning buffer using carnauba wax. This forms a protective layer on the vulcanite keeping the oxidation process at bay. When done smoking your pipe, wipe the bit clean with a soft cloth. Saliva (Ph levels) mixed with the smoke is what makes pipes so yukky around the bit area. My stems are always clean and oxidation free. Besides standard cleaning after smoking I run the stem over the buffer to seal them up again from time to time.

Here are a couple of pictures to wet your stem polishing appetite. These are a herd of refurbished GBD that belong to “Muddler”. Stems can look better than new if you take the time and put in the effort.
Stems10

A Peterson Kildare.

Before and after
Stems11

Stems12

Good Luck and enjoy!