Blog by Greg Wolford
This year has not been a banner one, so far, for me personally. The harsh weather, an accident, and a failure of one of my orthotics has had me mostly sidelined since the first of the year. My workshop is downstairs, in the garage, and it isn’t exactly the warmest, most comfortable place to work in the temperatures we’ve had, not to mention the difficulty of actually getting myself up and down the stairs … but I digress … so I’ve been able to do very little work on either of my hobbies so far in 2014.
Last week my wife had a little pity on me and allowed me to bring a few necessary tools and supplies up to the kitchen so I could work on a few old pipes; leather work is out of the question until the temperature and my body cooperate. I think she knew I was getting a bit restless, not being able to get into any of my projects. When I said she “allowed” it, she corrected me with “I didn’t say you could do that” but she didn’t send it all back down to the shop either, so I take that as permission I told her! LOL
Now, I must admit that my photographs, when I remember to take them (that’s a preview hint that I haven’t remembered as often as I should have), aren’t as good as I would like but I don’t have as good a set-up as I normally do. So, I ask you to bear with me on the quality and quantity of them.
Sometime back I acquired an older Kaywoodie model 33. It is an apple shape with a rounded bowl-top. The pipe was in pretty good condition other than the front edge was damaged from being knocked-out and the bottom of the stem had been bitten off. because of the stem damage I put off working on this pipe for months; I wanted to save the stem but didn’t have the black super glue yet, which I planned on using, to do the job. Here are a couple of photos (all I could find) of it before I started working on it.
Unfortunately all I can find are some photos that I used it as a “prop” in and one of the underside of the stem. You can see the pipe itself wasn’t too bad but the stem was another story.
Initially I tried to patch the chip with black super glue; I tried this three times: the first attempt the pipe cleaner I was using as a plug absorbed all the glue and the other two times, using different materials for the plug, the patch failed. It turned out that the chip was just too large for me to patch well so I decided to cut it off and file a new button since there seemed to be plenty of room to work with on this stem.
I used a hacksaw on a small frame to remove just behind the bite through. When I looked at the air hole I noticed two things, neither good: first I had closed off the airway accidentally with the glue and second the air hole wasn’t drilled center. I fixed the glue-plug problem quickly by drilling out the hardened glue with a pin vice and then picking out the small fragments that were left. One problem down – now onto forming a new button and slot.
I used various needle files to shape the new button, being timid about not getting it too thin. I recently bought a new set of Kobalt needle files, a big upgrade from my old ones, and found that this (only my second or third time making a whole new button and transition) went much smoother and faster than in the past. I also used the files and a bit of sandpaper to open and funnel the slot, again I was a bit timid in not going too thin; I have done that once and suffered a cracked bit afterward. This is a fair representation of what I ended up with:
Once I had the stem to my satisfaction I turned to the stummel.
I had at some time past already reamed the bowl lightly, it had very little cake, and cleaned the shank and stem. I now began by cleaning the stummel with acetone wetted cotton pads to remove the old finish and dirt. After the acetone I moved on to some alcohol wetted pads to lighten up the grime on the bowl top. When it was sufficiently clean I decided to use some 400 grit sandpaper to lightly smooth the edge damage. I didn’t know it at the time – because I failed to look first, a fault I have all too often – but the rim was supposed to be rounded. Luckily I liked the general look of the rounded top and thought it might be the way it was supposed to be so I wanted to keep it rather than topping the entire bowl. I personally like, in general, the less sharp lines on a bowl top so this was an easy choice – one that turned out to be a good one as well.
Once I had reduced the damage to the rim and front, keeping the shape as close to original/symmetrical as I could, I moved to micro mesh pads to sand and polish the bowl top. After getting through the first two grades I thought the entire pipe would look nice just polished with the micro mesh. At this point I reassembled the pipe and began to look for nomenclature to avoid during my polishing; this is when I discovered my “mystery”.
On the bottom of the stem, a origianl Kaywoodie, three-hole stinger with white clover logo, I saw something I had never seen before: there was stamping on the vulcanite “D-2”. This immediately intrigued me; I knew I would have to find out more about that … but lets’ wait a paragraph or two on that.
I polished the entire pipe with all of the micro mesh grits in order from 1500 – 12000, avoiding all of the stamping, including on the stem. I wet sanded the stem (only) through 4000, then polished the stem with plastic polish, before finishing the entire pipe through 12000 grit. I then applied Halcyon II wax to the entire pipe and hand buffed it. I was really pretty pleased with the results, considering I didn’t have access to my buffer and this was, more or less, my first experience with the Halcyon wax.
I missed some file marks on the stem, and the “bits” near the bit; I figure when I can properly buff the pipe I will get those taken care of, as well as put a better shine on it with some carnauba wax. But until then I am enjoying this old gal just as she is!
The stem still has oxidation near that stamping, which I began to research after I finished the work on the pipe. None of the other Kaywoodies I have, or have ever had, have any stamping on their stems like this one does. I scoured the ‘net and asked as many folks as I could think of to no avail … well, almost none. I am a member of the Kaywoodie Pipes Group on Facebook and one of the members there is Bill Fuerbach is as well. He saw my question that I posted about the stamping in that group and replied as follows:
Hey guys. I’ve seen this also on some older Kaywoodie stems. unfortunately at this time I don’t know what the significance is. :(:(
So unfortunately there is not yet an answer to what the stamping means or its significance is – and the mystery remains … If by chance anyone what reads this knows the answer I would really appreciate it is you would leave a comment with the answers!
I received an email from Chris at PipePages about this question. He said in his personal opinion, and that it is only a guess, that it could be a factory replacement stem and the number was a style/guide for the repairman to know which stem to use. Although it is only a shot-in-the-dark type of guess, it seems like a plausible answer to me.