In my antique mall grab bag was the bowl that is pictured below. It is stamped on the left side of the shank, Royalton over Smoke-Control over Deluxe and on the right side of the shank, Selected Briar over Pat. No.2326658. I had heard of Royalton pipes and have cleaned up a few of them in the years that have gone by. But I had never heard of the Smoke-Control or the Smoke-Control Deluxe. Obviously it was a system pipe of sorts, one of those creative ideas that lasted about as long as its maker. It never seemed to have caught on because in all the years I have been hunting and refurbishing pipes I have never come across one even to walk by in my prowls of thrift, junk or rummage shops. It was a brand unknown to me.
The bowl was in excellent shape and had not even been smoked to the bottom of the bowl. The bottom half of the bowl was bare briar. The top half was darkened but not carbonized at all. It was for all intents and purposes a new pipe. The shank was clean and contained a strange metal apparatus that filled the mortise and then stepped down to fill the airway all the way to the smoke hole in the bottom of the bowl. It was aluminum, the first ¼ inch was smooth and then it had threads that went to the bottom of the mortise. The airway was smooth. The finish on the bowl was non-existent. Whatever stain or coating had been on the bowl was no long present. The stamping was crisp and readable. There were no fills in the briar but there was a nice swirling mix of grain all around the bowl. The rim was clean and showed no burn or dent marks. The pipe was missing the stem. Judging from the mortise the stinger apparatus on this stem must have been a unique looking piece of hardware.
Since I had no idea what I was working on I decided to do a bit of digging on the internest and see if I could find out about the brand and kind of stem and stinger apparatus that it had. I wanted to know what the patent on the shank covered so that once I had a clear picture in mind I could hunt down a stem or work on one that would fit the shank in the meantime. I found out that Royalton pipes were manufactured by Henry Leonard & Thomas, Inc. (HLT) of Ozone Park, New York. HLT manufactured other brands as well including Dr.Grabow, Bruce Peters, Broadcaster and Vox Pop. I found on Pipephil’s logos page the two photos below that showed the stamping on the stem and the shank. The stamping on the bowl I had was a Smoke-Control with a hyphen rather than the one picture below and also was a Deluxe rather than a Supreme.
Mine was also stamped Selected Briar instead of Imported Briar. I could see that the stem had an aluminum faux band that sat between the stem and shank.
So far I had learned the manufacturer and the stamping on the stem and the faux band. I had not seen the stem. I did a bit more digging and found several advertisements that showed more of the stem. The first is from Popular Mechanics and it gave a clear description of the purpose of the pipe as well as the meaning of the Smoke-Control feature. The pipe had an adjustable valve that regulated the daft on the smoke to match personal taste and preference.
This advertisement spoke of both the Supreme Grade and the Deluxe grade of the pipe. The stinger that is shown in the picture could have been similar to the one in the bowl that I had found but it was not quite the same in terms of the sketched in lines on the shank of the top pipe in the picture. My bowl’s interior was different from the one in the picture so the stinger apparatus too must have been slightly different in the one I found. I went to the US Patent web site and did some more research and found the Patent Number of the pipe that I had. There was a description and a diagram of the pipe. The patent was taken out on August 10. 1943 by Arthur Koenigsamen of Jamaica, New York, assigner to Henry Leonard & Thomas Inc. of Ozone Park, New York. Reading the patent data, I am struck by the familiar hunt to develop a better smoking pipe to deliver a dry and cool smoker to the mouth of the pipe smoker and to make pipe smoking more appealing to those who might not try it otherwise. Have a look at the details of the patent and pay attention to each part of the apparatus in the shank and on the end of the stem. There are some unique features that are not visible in the pipe that is shown in the advertisement from Popular Mechanics.
The stem in the above drawing in Fig. 2 shows the tenon that would fit in the mortise in the bowl I have. It is threaded about mid-tenon with three bands. Before and after the threaded portion the tenon is smooth. The apparatus goes into the stem as well, Fig. 3, in a way that was not shown in the advertisement above. It appears that there is a cooling reservoir in the stem that traps moisture and delivers a cool smoke out the wide slot in the end of the stem. The mortise in the bowl I have looks exactly like the one in Fig. 5 and screwed onto the tenon in Fig. 4. The shank on the bowl that I have is set up precisely like the nipple unit in Fig. 5. It is aluminum and set in the shank. I have included the photo below showing and end view of the shank to show what the insert looks like. You can see the flat area, the step up to the threaded portion and then the step up to the airway just as is shown in Fig. 5 above.
My problem was that the bowl did not come with the unique stem unit that fit the shank. I tried several older Dr. Grabow stems and a Kaywoodie stem that I had here and the threads did not match those found in the shank. I had a choice to make, save the bowl until I found a stem someday by chance or to try to work on a stem and jerry-rig it to fit the shank system. I figured I had nothing to lose so I chose to work on a stem. I had just the right stem in my can of stems. It was a chubby stem from an Orlik pipe and the tenon was already shaped partially for a shank like this. The end of the tenon was slightly smaller in diameter than the portion of the tenon next to the stem itself.
I slowly turned the vulcanite stem into the metal mortise, being careful to hold the stem straight as I turned it in place. I figured that by doing so I could score the vulcanite with the metal threads of the mortise and in so doing tap thread the tenon on the vulcanite. Low and behold it worked. The stem fit tightly against the face of the shank. The diameter of the stem would need to be adjusted but otherwise the fit was good.
I carefully sanded the stem and the shank avoiding the stamping. I did not want to damage the stamping on either side of the shank. I sanded with 220 grit sandpaper and a medium and fine grit sanding sponge. I sanded the rest of the bowl and the rim as well. When I finished the fit of the stem at the shank was smooth.
At this point in the process things were going too well! Everything was working without a hitch and the pipe was looking really good. This is when things inevitably take a turn for the worse and they certainly did in this case. I unscrewed the stem from the shank in preparation for staining the bowl. I wanted to clean out any briar dust that was trapped between the stem and the shank. I cleaned out the dust and blew air through the mortise. I then slowly and carefully screwed the stem back in place in the shank. They no longer lined up! The fit of the stem against the face of the shank was not tight. The smooth transition between the shank and stem was no longer there. The fit was not right. I took the stem off and examined the mortise and tenon. I could see that the insert in the shank had definitely been pushed deeper into the mortise. When I started it was even with the face of the end of the shank and now it was sunk in and the mortise bevel showed as it probably should have from the start. Arggghhh. Now the fit was off and the diameter of the stem would have to be corrected again. The big problem was that the way the stem fit against the end of the shank was no longer perfect. There was a gap that I could not correct no matter what I did in adjusting the insert or the stem.
I decided that I would have to band the shank, not as a repair on a bad shank but as a cosmetic measure to clean up the fit of the stem and the shank end. This irritates me to no end in that as you could tell from the above photos it was perfect! Ah well so goes the life of the pipe refurbisher who is restemming old pipes with replacement stems. I adjusted the diameter of the shank to fit the flow of the shank without the band. Once again it was round and smooth. If there had not been a gap at the bottom of the shank/stem union a band would not have been necessary. I looked through my box of bands and found a band that would fit and not go to deeply up the shank as to cover the stamping. I found just the right band. I put all purpose white glue on the shank and pressed the band in place. Once the glue had set I screwed the stem on to the shank and lined everything up. The fit and finish of the stem and shank looked good. I actually liked the band on the shank as it broke the line between the shank and the stem and added a bit of bling to look of the old bowl. I guess I can live with the look of the pipe after all. It is not what I wanted when I started but it would do.
I wiped down the bowl with isopropyl alcohol on a cotton pad to remove any excess glue that had seeped out around the band and removed grime from my finger prints on the bowl. I gave the bowl a first coat of dark brown aniline stain thinned 1:1 with alcohol. I flamed the stain and then wiped it down with an alcohol pad. I buffed it with White Diamond to see what the finish looked like with the brown stain. While I liked the look, the mottled look of the grain seemed to need some more colour and contrast to make it look right. I was not sure what I would use for a top coat so I set it aside and worked on the stem.
I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation that remained after cleaning and then sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge. Once I had finished this I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads. Several times mid stream I went back and sanded with the sanding sponges and started over with the pads to clean up places where the scratching still showed or where the oxidation was stubborn. When I finished with the first three pads I rubbed down the stem with Obsidian Oil and screwed it back on the bowl.
Now most of you probably would have just finished sanding the stem with the remaining micromesh pads but not me. I got distracted with the stem back on the bowl and decided to give it the second coat of stain. I took it to the buffer and buffed the bowl and the stem with Tripoli and White Diamond before going back to the work table to give it a second coat of stain. For the second coat of stain I decided to use an aniline based oxblood stain. The rich read colour would go well with the mottled grain of the bowl. I applied the stain, flamed it, applied it again and flamed it again as often as necessary to get an even finish. Once it was dry I wiped it down with an alcohol wet pad to remove the excess stain and make it more transparent. I buffed it with White Diamond. This stain coat had the desired effect and I liked the finished look of the bowl.
I took the photo below to show the threads that were cut into the vulcanite tenon to give an idea of what the finished tenon looked like after all was said and done. The fit in the mortise is snug and the stem screws into the mortise easily.
I went back to sanding the stem with the remaining grits of micromesh pads. I dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads and once again had to go back and sand with the sanding sponges near the button to deal with the stubborn oxidation. This involved having to start over with wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads but once I had finished the oxidation was gone. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil again and when it was absorbed into the vulcanite I buffed the stem and bowl with White Diamond.
I polished the nickel band with silver polish and gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect and give it a shine. When finished I buffed it with a soft flannel buffing pad and brought it back to the work table for the final photos. The old Smoke-Control Deluxe is back in action. The bowl looks great; the stem works even though it is not original. The band gives just the pipe an air of elegance that I had not expected. I look forward to breaking it in and enjoying a smoke in what for all intents and purposes is a new old stock bowl.