Daily Archives: November 29, 2013

Refurbishing and Restemming an Unsmoked Small Paneled Rhodesian


I am scraping the bottom of the box for pipes to refurbish. It is clear that I am going to have to go on the hunt again soon. At the bottom of the box I have a few small/tiny pipe bowls that have come to me from a variety of sources. I believe this little one came from Mark Domingues as well. It is unsmoked and stemless. The bowl was in pretty fair shape though the finish coat was varnish of some sort. The stain was spotty under the varnish coat. There was one dominant fill on the left side of the bowl on one of the panels. The drilling is a bit of centre in the bottom of the bowl – slightly to the left of centre. The drilling was wide open and the draught on the bowl was very good. The bowl did not have a ring around the top before the bevel to the rim. It was a smooth transition. I have had several of these older Rhodesian and Bulldogs in the past and they generally had horn stems. This one did not have any stamping on it so I have no idea as to the maker. There was also no stem present. I had a smaller nylon stem in my box of stems that took very little work on the tenon to make for a snug fit in the shank.
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Once the stem fit well in the shank I sanded the shank and stem to get a good smooth transition between stem and shank. I used 220 grit sandpaper to do the rough work and then used a medium grit sanding sponge to clean up the shank and stem. The stem had casting marks on both sides of the stem and also heavy tobacco stains around the button and in the slot. The airway was virtually clogged and I could barely get a straightened paper clip through before I worked on it with Everclear and bristle pipe cleaners.
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I decided to sand the stain off the shank and rework the taper on the pipe from button to bowl. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the excess briar and nylon and smooth out the taper. What I wanted was a clean smooth line from button to bowl. The next four photos show the shank and the stem after sanding with the 220 grit sandpaper. The flow is smooth and even and the lines are very graceful. The casting marks are gone from both sides of the stem and the button is cleaned of the majority of the stains.
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I wiped the bowl and shank down with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the varnish finish and some of the stain on the bowl in order to make it easier to match the stain on the newly sanded shank and the bowl. I also sanded the bowl, shank and stem with a fine grit sanding sponge to remove scratches left behind by the sandpaper and to prepare the stem for sanding with micromesh sanding pads.
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I sanded the entire pipe and stem with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded the stem and the bowl with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanded the bowl alone with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I did not want to make the briar to smooth to take a good coat of the stain.
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I stained the bowl with a medium brown aniline stain mixed 2 parts stain with 1 part isopropyl alcohol to get the colour I wanted. I was going for more of a wash than a deep coat. I wanted the grain on the shank and bowl to come through the colour. I used a black permanent mark to draw grain marks on the two fills and to make it easier for the stain coat to blend in and hide the putty marks.
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Once the stain was dry I buffed the bowl with White Diamond to give it a shine and then reinserted the stem and lightly buffed the stem with White Diamond as well. The nylon stems take a very soft touch or they are easily damaged. I gave the bowl and stem several coats of carnauba wax to protect them and then lightly buffed the pipe a soft flannel buffing pad. The finished pipe is pictured below. It is not a big pipe in any sense but should be a great flake pipe. The second photo below gives an idea of proportion by the inclusion of my hand with the pipe. The yellow nylon stem approximates the unique colour and look of the horn stem that must have originally graced this little bowl. The stem is thin and the new taper gives a very delicate look to the new pipe.
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