Restemming and Refurbishing a Planter Opera Pipe


This is the fourth bowl that I chose to work on from the antique mall lot. It had some great potential to clean up well as it was by far one of the least damaged of the bowls. It is stamped Planter over Made in France on the left side of the shank. There is no other stamping on the bowl or shank. There is no shape size or numbering on the shank. The right side is unmarked. I looked it up online and did not find any maker for the pipe. Pipephil did not have in on his logos and stampings pages nor did any of the other sites I frequent when searching for info online. I turned to my books and found out from “Who Made That Pipe” that the brand was made by Comoy’s in France. I checked Lopes book and it was not listed. The bowl itself was pretty clean on the inside and the interior of the shank was also clean. It barely looked to have been smoked. There were a few remnants of unsmoked tobacco on the walls of the bowl. On the exterior, one side of the bowl was clean and the other was covered with a greasy, dirty buildup. There was some nice looking grain under the grit and grime – both birdseye and cross grain. It looked like it would clean up nicely. There was one small fill on the right side of the bowl. The metal band was tarnished and yellow. The bowl did not come with a stem when I bought it at the antique mall.
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I went through my can of stems and found one that would fit with very minimal adjustments. I sanded the tenon with a folded piece of sandpaper and it fit well against the shank. There were some issues on the diameter of the stem. It appeared that it was slightly out of round on the right side. It would need to be sanded on the right side, top and bottom for a perfect fit.
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The band was not totally in place on the shank. It had slid toward the end of the shank over the years so I needed to heat it and press it into place. The benefit to this was that it heated up the yellow buildup on the band and it came off quite easily with some silver polish/metal cleaner. I scrubbed the band with some Hagerty Tarnish Preventative Silver Polish that I bought years ago at a jewelry shop. It removed the tarnish and oxidation and with repeated scrubbing it cleaned out the tarnish in the hallmarks.

I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the greasy buildup on the right side of the bowl and shank. I followed that up with a wipe down of isopropyl alcohol to finish removing the grime. I sanded the stem on the right side to remove the excess vulcanite and make it line up with the band. I always look at the end view of the pipe and see if the diameter of the stem matches the edge of the band that it will sit against. I strive to make it the same all the way around as I think it looks better when done that way. I used 220 grit sandpaper and a medium and fine grit sanding sponge to get the fit right. In the photos below the pipe is shown after all the scrubbing and fitting of the stem.
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You can see from the few steps taken with the pipe that it was a very simple clean up. It took more time to fit the stem that it did to clean up the bowl and band. I gave it a quick buff with White Diamond before working on the stem. I took it back to the work table and sanded the stem with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge (the pink square pictured above is one of those sponges). I then sanded the bowl and stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads.
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I finished by rubbing down the stem with Obsidian Oil and when it had been absorbed into the stem I buffed the stem and bowl with White Diamond. I gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect and give it a shine. I finish with a soft flannel buffing pad on the buffer. The finished pipe is pictured below. Sometime today I will load a bowl and give it a smoke.
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5 thoughts on “Restemming and Refurbishing a Planter Opera Pipe

  1. Pingback: Refurbishing another Old Pal – this time a Long Oval Shank Billiard | reborn pipes

  2. Dave Cooley

    Lovely pipe. I have thought about trying out an opera pipe for some time. They look so eloquent but I have wondered how hard it is to properly maintain the oval shaped bowl. Thanks for sharing this refurbish with us.

    Reply
  3. Jacek A. Rochacki

    It is real pleasure to see this pipe and process of it’s restoration. At the metal band we see original “gothic like” markings, that I often found at French made pipes. Congratulations !

    Reply
    1. rebornpipes Post author

      That band is what caught my attention on this one Jacek. It is indeed very Gothic. It could easily be used in some of today’s Steampunk pipes. Thank you.

      Reply

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