I picked up this Keyser Hygienic on EBay because it caught my eye. I have three other Keyser Hygienic pipes and they are all very similar in terms of the system. They are briar bowls and shanks with an aluminum mortise with a tube in the centre running to the airway in the bowl. This is matched with a military mount stem with a tube with a down turn on it that fits into the airway in the mortise. The swirling smoke rolls around the inside of the mortise where the moisture in the smoke condenses on the sides of the aluminum mortise. The cooled air is drawn into the down turned tube in the stem and it delivers a cool, dry smoke. The system is fairly straightforward and simple. The genius of the design is that any stem fits any pipe of the same size. Replacement stems are easily purchased and all that is necessary is the size of the pipe and the replacement will be a ready fit.
But this new Keyser was unique in all ways. The system design seems like a prototype of the original or maybe a step toward the ones that I have. It is composed of a short shanked briar bowl and a metal tube that has a normal vulcanite tenon. This sits in the shortened shank. Inside the tube is a second tube that extends ¾ of the way up the barrel. The inner tube is the extension of the airway in the tenon. The stem is a short pressure fit stem with a shoulder that allows it to ride on the end of the outer tube. On the end of the stem is a down turned short tube that draws air in to the mouth piece from the condensing chamber of the tube. It is a fascinating design. It is that uniqueness that caught my eye – that and the stamping/engraving on the outer tube which reads as follows:
KEYSER HYGIENIC PIPE
Keyser Manufacturing Co.
Pat Appns Brit 34B20/47
The next series of seven pictures shows the pipe as it appeared in the EBay webpage. The seller did a great job describing the current state of the pipe and the areas of concern. The seller notes some of the scratches on the outer tube and the darkening of the rim. He also noted the tooth chatter and scratch marks on both the top and underside of the stem.
When the pipe arrived I unpacked it and examined it. There were indeed tooth chatter/marks on both the top and bottom of the stem. There was a cigarette burn mark on the bottom of the shank where it meets the bowl. It was not a deep burn and there was no charred wood just a dark mark. The rim itself also had some issues. While the surface was not charred there was a burned area on the front inside of the bowl and on the front outside of the bowl. It looked to be damage from a lighter used in the same place repeatedly over time. The remainder of the finish was in pretty good shape but the entire pipe would need to be stripped in order to address the burn marks on the rim and the side of the shank. The inside of the bowl and shank were very clean. The pipe had not been reamed but there was a light cake that smelled like an aromatic. The barrel was tight on the shank but I carefully was able to remove it. The vulcanite tenon on the end of the barrel was undamaged but the airway was closed in with tars. The way the tenon was attached to the barrel was interesting. The end of the barrel was bonded to a circular plug of vulcanite with the tenon an integral piece of the part. The stem was frozen in the barrel and could not be removed. The button on the stem was unmarked and the tooth marks were actually mid stem on the top and bottom sides. The vulcanite stem was oxidized and would need to be cleaned. The next four photos show the items that I have pointed out in this paragraph.
I was able to remove the barrel and tenon from the shank of the pipe by carefully twisting the barrel free of the shank. I always hold tightly to the shank with one hand right next to the shank and then twist with the other hand. I try to maintain equal pressure on all points so that the shank is not strained or cracked in the process. The next photo shows the tenon on the barrel. It is almost the same length as the shank and the airway is lined up very closely to the airway in the bottom of the bowl. I cleaned out the mortise with cotton swabs and Everclear and found that it was quite clean. I also cleaned out the barrel from both ends but was not able to get a pipe cleaner to go all the way through the pipe from button to tenon.
The next three photos show the front of the bowl and the extent of the burn marks on the front outside of the bowl and the front inside of the rim. These were two areas that would need to be worked over to minimize the burn marks on the finished pipe.
I used my PipNet reamer to ream out the soft aromatic cake in the bowl and then recleaned the shank and the inside of the bowl with pipe cleaners and Everclear to remove the carbon dust that came from the reaming process (Photo 1 below). I wiped down the outside of the bowl and shank with a cotton pad and acetone to remove the finish on the pipe (Photo 2 below).
The next series of fourteen photos show the topping of the bowl to remove the burned area on the inside of the rim and the front outside edge. The burn had rounded the outside edge and made it appear out of round when looking at it from the top. I wanted to top the bowl enough to bring the top view back into round, minimize the wood damage in both spots and clean up the sharp edge of the bowl. I used two different sanding sponges – medium grit (black coloured sponge) and a fine grit sponge (yellow coloured sponge) both pictured below to start the process. I went on to use medium grit emery paper on the hard board to further top the bowl and ended with 320 grit sandpaper on the board. I polished the finish of the topped pipe bowl with the fine grit yellow sanding sponge. I also worked on the burned area that extended down the front of the bowl with the two sanding sponges.
While I was working on the bowl I put the barrel and stem unit in the freezer to try to break loose the stuck stem. I have found that the varying contraction time of the metal and vulcanite will often loosen the stem. Once it was in the freezer for 30 minutes I could easily remove the stem and give the inside of the barrel and the stem a thorough cleaning with pipe cleaners and cotton swabs dipped in Everclear. I cleaned them until both came out clear. The next five photos show the broken down stem and the tube on the end of the stem that I was talking about above. There is one photo of the barrel but it is too dark to see the inner tube.
Once the stem and barrel was clean it was time to deal with the tooth marks and chatter on the stem itself. I sanded the top and the bottom with 320 grit sandpaper to remove the marks and the chatter. None of them were too deep. They were more of a ripple like effect on the surface of the vulcanite. I sanded them flat to the surface of the stem and then went on to sand the stem with micromesh sanding pads from 1500-12,000 grits. The next four photos show the progress of the shine.
After shining the stem with the micromesh I took it to the buffer and buffed the stem with White Diamond and then rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil and finished it with a coat of carnauba wax. I put the stem back in the barrel and lined up the stem with the stamping on the side of the barrel. I gave the entire barrel and stem another coat of carnauba wax and hand buffed them. The next three photos show the assembled barrel and stem unit polished and ready to put on the bowl once it was restained and ready.
I sanded and resanded the bowl with fine grit sanding sponges and then sanded it with micromesh sanding pads from 1500-3200 grit. I wiped it down with acetone between sandings and again when I was finished to prepare it for staining. The next three photos show the prepared pipe ready for staining. The burn mark on the bottom of the shank is gone with very little sanding and no change to the shank surface itself. The one on the front of the is minimized and the one on the rim is also virtually gone. The bowl is ready for a new finish coat.
I restained the bowl with an oxblood aniline stain, flamed it and restained and reflamed it. I rubbed it down with a cotton terry cloth to smooth out the stain and then took it to the buffer. I always buff with my thumb in the bowl to ensure that the buffer does not grab the bowl from my hand and launch it against the wall. I rotate it slowly in my hand and with a light touch buff the shank. I am careful not to apply too much pressure and round the shoulders on the shank. I normally do not buff with the stem off the bowl but in this case I did not want to risk buffing off the black paint on the barrel so I chance the buffing on the bowl alone. The next three photos show the buffed bowl before polishing.
I reassembled the pipe and then hand buffed it with multiple coats of carnauba wax and polished it with a shoe brush. The stem and bowl have a great shine and the bowl has some beautiful grain on it. I look forward to smoking this one and comparing it with my other Keyser Hygienic pipes. The final four photos below show the finished pipe. I have yet to do the research on the patent information on the barrel but I am hoping to find out a bit of history on this piece.
From the photo of the bottom of the bowl and shank above you can see that the burn mark there is eliminated in its entirety. Also in the photo of the rim above and the one of the front of the bowl below you can see that the burn mark is gone and what remains is blended into the stain.