Daily Archives: July 6, 2014

Resuscitating a Peterson Donegal Rocky 338 Bent Billiard

A few weeks ago one of the EBay sellers that I have bought several pipes from over the years had three Peterson bowls, sans stems listed for sale. They were in rough shape but I decided I wanted to give refurbishing them all a try. Besides one of them was a 999S and I love the 999 shape. That alone would have pushed me to make a bid on this lot. I ended up buying the threesome for more than I usually pay for pipe bowls but I figured it was worth the effort. This is the photo of the threesome from the sale listing.

The first of the three Peterson bowls is on the worktable at the moment. The finish was very rough on the pipe. It had built up grime in all of the grooves of the rustication. The inside of the bowl was caked almost to the top of the rim. The shank was one of the foulest things I think I have seen before. It was caked with oily tars from just inside the edge of the mortise to the bottom of the mortise. The rim was badly damaged with the front edge burned down lower than the rest. The rim was ragged looking and uneven all the way around. It looked to be solid though underneath the damage. The stamping on the underside of the shank said Petersons Donegal Rocky with the shape number 338. All the stamping is quite faint but still readable with a lens.

I cleaned and reamed the bowl. It is funny how short and easy that sounds but in this case that was not true. The cake in the bowl was like concrete and had totally closed off the bottom half of the bowl. The remaining top half had a slight slice to the airway but that effort was useless as the shank was completely clogged and no air could go through. I reamed as much of the bowl as I could with a PipNet reamer, not even getting as low as the airway. This stuff was very hard. I cleaned the shank with alcohol and cotton swabs. I tried to push a pipe cleaner through the clogged airway in the shank and was unable to get it to through. I decided to throw the bowl in an alcohol bath to soak for several hours to loosen things up.

When I took it out of the bath the alcohol soak had done its work. I was able to ream the rest of the way to the bottom of the bowl and completely remove the cake. I was able to push a wire through the airway and then cleaned out the airway and shank with cotton swabs and some assorted dental tools (thanks Joyal).

I scrubbed the rusticated finish of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush. I used a soft brass bristle brush to work on the rim and clean up the loose build up. Once I had scrubbed it I rinsed it with warm water. I dried it off and still had to do some more scrubbing. I cleaned the inside of the bowl and shank with the dental tools and cotton swabs and alcohol.

The rim was so badly damaged and uneven with the burned area that I topped it using the topping board and 220 grit sandpaper until it was flat.


I went through my stem can and found a three inch long stem that was approximately the same shape and length as the original stem. I turned the tenon with the PIMO Tenon Turning tool and removed the castings on the sides and the end of the stem. I further shaped it with the Dremel and sanding drum.




I wanted the top of the bowl to have the same rustication that it originally had before all the rim damage. It had a pattern that was similar to the rustication on the bowl itself. I looked on line to find photos of the rim of a Donegal Rocky that would be a pattern for me to copy. I put a dental bur that Joyal has given me on a Dremel tool and set the speed to a slow speed and used it to rusticate the rim to match the pattern in the photo of the bowl.
I wiped the bowl down with a cotton pad and alcohol to clean off the dust from the rustication and then stained the whole bowl with a dark brown aniline stain. In the photos below the rim is obviously much lighter in colour than the rest of the bowl so it took five coats of stain before it matched the bowl. I applied the stain and flamed it with a lighter to set the stain repeatedly until the coverage was correct.

The brown was very dark and the original contrast look on the Donegal Rocky was not evident. I wiped the bowl down with acetone on cotton pads to lighten it and bring back some contrast to the rusticated finish. In the photos below the properly darkened rim is visible.


I lightly buffed the bowl and rim with White Diamond and then applied some Halcyon II wax on both and then buffed with a soft flannel buff. I knew that I would have to wax it again once I had finished but I always put a coat of wax on the bowl to protect the finish when I give it a more thorough clean. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the casting marks and the Dremel marks. Once I had the initial sanding finished I decided to bend the stem. I heated it over a heat gun until it was pliable and bent it over and old rolling pin. I used a photo of 338 I found on the net as a template for the bend in the stem. I made the photo life sized and laid the pipe against the computer screen to match the bend. Once I had the bend correct the rest of the stem work could begin.








I removed the stem from the bowl, stuffed cotton bolls in the bowl of the pipe and used an ear syringe to fill the bowl with isopropyl alcohol. I set the bowl in an old ice cube tray that keeps the bowl upright. I set the tray aside to let the alcohol sweeten the pipe and draw out the oils in the bowl and shank.
Four hours later the alcohol had begun to pull out the tars and oils into the cotton.
Twelve hours from the starting time, the cotton was a dark brown and most of the alcohol had evaporated. I pulled the cotton out of the bowls and wiped them dry with a cotton swab soaked in clean alcohol and they came out clean other than a little bit of the detritus that had collected in the bottom of the bowl. I swabbed out the shank and airway as well with pipe cleaners and cotton swabs dipped in alcohol and the shank was clean. The pipe smelled sweet and ready to smoke.
I turned my attention to the stem and sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge. It removed the majority of scratches from the surface of the stem left behind by the 220 grit sandpaper (I believe these sponges are equivalent to 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper).

The rustication that I did on the top of the bowl rim is very clear in the next photo.

I sanded the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads. Between each set of three grits I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil and let it soak into the vulcanite.


When I had finished sanding with the 12,000 grit pad I rubbed it down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and when it had dried buffed the stem with White Diamond and a Blue Plastic buffing compound. I then gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax, buffing with a soft flannel buff between coats. I waxed the bowl with Halcyon II wax and hand buffed it with a soft bristle shoe brush and a cotton buffing cloth. I used the 6000, 8000 and 12,000 grit micromesh pads to polish the nickel band and then gave it a buff with a silver polishing cloth. This old Peterson 338, that must have been an incredible smoke to have been smoked as hard as it was, is now ready to enter the next era of its life and provide the same kind of service to me. I look forward to smoking it later in the week once I am sure the alcohol in the bowl and shank has all evaporated. I have to tell you, I am looking forward to having a bowl in this old timer.