Daily Archives: November 16, 2013

Rejuvenating A Nicely Grained Merchants Service Apple

I bought a pair of older pipes on EBay for a good price. I have written about the refurbishment of the first – the ¾ bent Royal Falcon in an earlier blog post. This particular post is about the second pipe. It is pictured at the top of the first two photos below and on the left in the third photo. It is stamped on the left side of the shank with the words, Merchants over Service in block capital letters over London Made also in block caps though smaller stamp. There is a shape number stamped next to the above stamping and just prior to the stem – 519. The photos below were supplied by the seller in the EBay sale. The seller said that the finish on the pipe looked very good in the photos and the stem was in good shape without cracks, dents or tooth chatter. They also said that the bowl was clean but previously smoked.
MS pipe

While I waited for its arrival I did a bit of hunting on the web to find out what I could about the brand. There was not much information available and what was there was attached to Bing Crosby. What I found out about the brand on the internet turns out to have originally come from Jose Manuel Lopes great work called Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks. The Merchant Service Pipe was a former English brand of pipe made by Merchant Service Ltd. It was a firm created by Herbert Merchant (d.1944) and which later belonged to Holland Penny Limited. It turns out that the company was a favourite of the North American Entertainer Bing Crosby. That is not a lot of information and I would love to find some more. If anyone who reads this has more information please do not hesitate to post it in the response boxes below.

I took the pipe to my worktable this morning and worked on the stem. It was pretty clean though it had some oxidation on the left side next to the shank and some tooth chatter on the top and bottom of the stem next to the button. I sanded the stem with 1500 grit micromesh to remove the oxidation and to sand away the tooth chatter next to the button. I wet sanded with the micromesh pad until the finish was a matte black and free of oxidation and marks. The next four photos show the stem after this initial sanding.


The underside of the bowl was covered with many fills of a pinkish coloured putty that showed through the finish.

I decided to remove the largest of the putty fills and rework them with briar dust and superglue. To prepare the surface of the briar for reworking the fills I wiped down the surface of the bowl with acetone on a cotton pad. As I removed the grime and some of the dark buildup on the bowl a beautiful grain began to pop out on the briar. This one was going to be a beauty when I finished refurbishing it.




I cleaned out the inside of the pipe and stem before working on the fills. It took many pipe cleaners and cotton swabs to remove the buildup inside the stem and shank. The shank had a reservoir area below the airway and it had collected a lot of tars and build up. The stem was also dirty on the inside.

When I had finished cleaning it I removed the stem and turned the bowl over on the worktable to begin to pick out the putty in the fills. Once I had the putty picked out I wiped the surface down with acetone once again to remove the debris that might be left behind in the flaws. I packed briar dust into the cleaned areas and tamped it down into the grooves. Once it was tightly packed I dripped clear superglue into the repaired area and pushed some more briar dust into the superglue surface. When it was dry, which takes very little time, I would sand down the surface to make it match the bowl surface.

I sanded the superglue/briar dust fill with 220 grit sandpaper and a medium grit sanding sponge to remove the excess of the patch (I always overfill them as they tend to shrink as the glue dries). The third photo below shows the patch after the sanding has blended it into the surface of the bowl. I sanded it with micromesh sanding pads 1500-3200 grit to prepare the surface for the restaining. I wiped it down a final time with acetone on a cotton pad to remove all grit from the sanding. It was ready for a restaining.



I applied a dark brown aniline stain mixed with two parts isopropyl alcohol to one part dark brown stain. I used a cotton swab to apply it to the newly sanded area of the repair and flamed it and restained until it matched the rest of the bowl. When that was finished I gave a light coat of stain and flamed it to the entire bowl to blend in the restain on the bottom even more. The next five photos show the restained bowl bottom and then the retouched remainder of the bowl.





With the bowl finished and ready to go it was time to tackle the stem. I sanded it with micromesh sanding pads from 1500-12,000 grit. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit and dry sanded with the remaining grits. The next three photos below show the progressive shine building on the stem. Once it was finished I buffed it with White Diamond and then rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil to protect it. When it had dried I put it back on the pipe and took it to the buffer.



I buffed the entirety (carefully around the stamping) with White Diamond a final time and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean flannel buffing pad. Once it was finished I loaded up a bowl of Balkan Sobranie Virginian No. 10 and went for a long walk on a cool and dry fall day in Vancouver. It is a great smoking pipe and one that is one of my favourite shapes.





A Canadian Pipe Maker I had never heard of: Leonard Payne Pipes

Blog by Steve Laug

On a Saturday not too long ago I went on a pipe hunt in Vancouver. I began at the Vancouver Flea Market and worked my way back toward my home. I stopped a quite a few antique shops and “malls” in my hunt for old pipes. I found a few at the flea market and several old timers at the shops that I left behind. However, one pipe caught my eye. It was not a brand that I had seen before or heard of.It was a nicely shaped thick shanked apple that needed very little work. It had a bit of tarry build up on the rim, some tooth chatter on the stem and minor oxidation. It grabbed my attention. The stamping was Leonard Payne on the left side of the shank and Made in Canada on the right side. The stem bears a green dot in the centre of a white circle on the left side of the stem. I decided to do a bit of research on the web and found the following advertisement that highlighted the pipes.
Payne Pipes

Further digging with Google came up with this short note from alt.smokers.pipes forum. It was written by Mike Glukler of Briar Blues. I quote it below in full. (https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/alt.smokers.pipes/RrICLiVgE2o) “Leonard Payne was based in B.C. for many years. He came to Canada from England. He had shops in Surrey, B.C. and Kelowna, B.C.Interesting fellow. Gruff as the day is long. When you bought a pipe it was handed to you in a paper bag. No sock, no box. Most of his pipes carried a “carburetor” system at the shank / stem junction.Another Payne idea was his shanks. Almost all his pipes were two pieces. He’d turn the bowl and shank, then cut off the shank and reattach with glue (not always with the same piece of briar, so many did not match grains). His thinking was that the shank being the weakest link, if cut and glued would never break and thus “correcting”the weakest link.You may find his pipes on E-Bay on occasion listed as a Len Cayne. The P in his stamping looks more like a fancy upper case C.”

That is the extent of information that I could find on the pipe. It was a Canadian made pipe carved by an eccentric BC pipe carver. The one example I purchase was a single piece of briar without the broken and reglued shank that Mike mentions above. It is a light weight piece of briar and the fit of the stem and shank is very well done. The gap between the end of the tenon and the end of the mortise is very small – just enough to allow for expansion. The finish was very good and the stain well done.

My clean up on the pipe was very simple. I sanded out the tooth chatter on the stem near the button and polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads from 1500-12,000 grit. I then took it to the buffer and used red Tripoli and White Diamond on the buffing wheels to further polish the stem. I reamed the bowl and cleaned the tars off the rim and polished it as well with White Diamond. I am careful when buffing the shank area where the stamping is so that I do not harm the stamping. Once I was finished with the polishing I gave the bowl and the stem several coats of carnauba wax. I polished the pipe with a soft flannel buffing pad. The finished pipe is pictured below.



Fast forward several months to a conversation had with a friend in Ontario via email. She had come across several Leonard Payne pipes and done the same research I did. She found the same information I did and sent me photos of the three pipes she found. We talked for a while and I offered to restem a pipe of hers. She sent me the pipe for work and then also the nice little Leonard Payne Zulu/Dublin pictured below.

She said that it needed some TLC but it was really in quite good shape. The finish was clean, though somewhat spotty. There were very few scratches or dings. There was a scuff mark on the bottom of the shank next to the stem and the stem was slightly scuffed in the same area. The rim was also clean. The bowl was already reamed and relatively clean. The bowl and shank smelled of Latakia but the pipe really seemed to be hardly smoked and certainly not broken in to the bottom of the bowl. The stem had some ripples in the surface near the button and in those were the remnants of tooth marks. The shoulders of the stem at the stem/shank junction were slightly rounded from sanding or buffing with the stem off the pipe. There were two small spots of oxidation around the logo.




I sanded the stems and shank with a fine grit sanding sponge and used a sanding block to reduce the rounding to the shoulders of the stem. I then sanded the stem with micromesh sanding pads from 1500-12,000 grit to polish the vulcanite. I rubbed stem down with Obsidian Oil and let it soak into the surface. Once it was dry I buffed it with White Diamond and then carnauba wax. The ripples in the stem are gone and the oxidation around the logo is also gone. My Black and Tan Cocker Spaniel decided to sit and “help” me this morning. He has learned that I generally have some dog chews at the work table but he gives me the illusion that he is really interested in what I am doing!




I set the stem aside and worked on the bowl. I found that though the finish was clean it was faded and spotty in places. I decided to give it a coat of medium walnut aniline stain mixed with linseed oil to even out the finish and give it a shine. I applied the stain with a cotton pad and then buffed it by hand with a cotton cloth when it was dry.



I reinserted the stem and gave the entire pipe a buff with White Diamond and then gave it several coats of carnauba wax. I finished by buffing the entirety with multiple coats of carnauba wax. The finished pipe is pictured below. This nice little pipe is cleaned, restored and ready to smoke. It joins the other Leonard Payne pipe in my collection.