Monthly Archives: September 2014

Cleaning Up an Old Ropp Cherrywood That Was Once Given Love and Attention – Robert M. Boughton


Guest Blog by Robert M. Boughton
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors
http://www.roadrunnerpipes.com
http://about.me/boughtonrobert
Photos © the Author

“Action is character.”
— F. Scott Fitzgerald, in a note to himself on a page of “The Last Tycoon,” his final and unfinished novel (published in 1941)

INTRODUCTION
The great American novelist and short story writer quoted above, who is lesser known for his screenwriting work, and for good reason, only resorted to the genre to make ends meet while he attempted to dry out. Note I write attempted, as he died of alcoholism in 1940 at 44. Nevertheless, he knew from both experiences that memorable characters, and therefore their stories, are created far more through their actions than their words.

Fitzgerald was among the best at describing what all of his characters do in his own unique way, although that in no way detracts from the words they speak. His unvarying craft of employing the rule he penned to himself on his final and half-finished manuscript has become the basis of most good present-day screenwriters’ rule of thumb, “Character is action, not dialogue.”

And so it is with this Ropp cherrywood. Its condition tells the whole story of the man who smoked it through the inconsistent actions he took to preserve it. The wood of the bowl and shank was kept as the pipe’s probable one owner obtained it. The stem, however, was left with scratches and minor tooth marks. And while the bore, mortise and draught hole showed clear signs of being cleaned almost with fanaticism, the chamber did not fare so well. Although nowhere close to being as filled with cake as the other pipes I described in prior admitted diatribes, I still removed enough carbon to fill the chamber whence it came.
All of this suggests to me that the lovely cherrywood was adored by its previous owner, who indeed smoked it so often it may have been his only pipe. His sole lack of full attention was to the chamber.

In a recent purchase of several lots of pipes on eBay, the first of which had some gems that were grotesque from abuse, I still saw that I could restore their luster. Some of my recent blogs have hinted at my ill opinion of those who treat their pipes with such disrespect. I even resorted to outright railing against these unknown enjoyers of the fair leaf. But in fact, the truth is that they know not what they do. When I received it in the mail, the condition of a Ropp natural cherrywood Air Dry system pipe [see “The Revolution of the System Pipe”], with a small brass tube inserted in the bottom of the bowl and leading to the chamber to relieve excess heat, was a little more complicated.

I own a more conventional Ropp natural cherrywood De Luxe, canted and flat on the bottom and therefore a sitter as it should be.

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I considered swapping it with the more recent Air Dry, which has a rounded bottom and is already listed for sale on my online store. My only reasoning being that the Air Dry was more novel and might be older, I had a change of heart, in the literal sense. The more I thought about it, the more certain I became that the Air Dry’s long-time owner would not have traded it for anything. Who was I to give up with such nonchalance one that has served me so well? Besides, my De Luxe might just be older.

THE PIPE RESTORATION
The first thing I did was disassemble the pipe, meaning I unscrewed the stem and shank from the bowl.

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There was blackening beyond the screws in the bowl’s hole [picture 3]. I saw that the threads of the shank itself were blackened [picture 2] and so I cleaned them right away with alcohol and also followed my initial quick clean routine to find if there were any obstructions in the parts. To my happy surprise, given the first impression of the chamber [picture 7], the quick clean was all that was necessary. Without doubt, these were the easiest stem and shank I have ever had to clean, leading to my surmising in the Introduction as to the complicated character of the original owner.

I also noted the small, unpolished areas of wood around the shank hole in the bowl [picture 3] and both ends of the shank [picture 4], although the stem side’s roughness does not show in the last picture. A fast buffing of the bowl’s hole and the tips of the shank (excluding the threads) with red and white Tripoli, White Diamond and carnauba made them shine like the rest of the wood. The following photos are the pipe before any work was done.

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Starting the hardest part of the restore, which was pretty straightforward with nothing of special difficulty, I put my reamer to the bowl and began the process of turning it at increasing depths with great care to protect the cherry wood. Most of the top quarter-inch cleared down to the wood. The rest came in time. Altogether this stage took me about a half-hour, including the final sanding with 220-grit paper to make the chamber smooth and even all the way down.

All that was left to do was finish up the scratched stem with minor chatter and the wood. I used #1500 micromesh on most of the stem and 200-grit paper for the teeth marks, and spun it on the buffers with red Tripoli and White Diamond. The shank and bowl I could have left alone, but since it was a bit duller than it could be I applied white Tripoli, White Diamond and carnauba.

As with my De Luxe, a dab of beeswax was needed to hold the stem in place.

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CONCLUSION
I figured out at last that those who enjoy pipes are complex characters, perhaps or perhaps not more so than others. As William Shakespeare, a greater writer even than Fitzgerald, had Jacques put it in “As You Like It,” Act II, sc, vii:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts….

Shakespeare, who is believed to have written the play c. 1600, when he would have been about 36, knew better than anyone about the importance of action to character. He made his final exit when he was 54 – but in those days, that was common.

A Note of Clarification on the Monarch Apple Fiasco – Robert M. Boughton


Guest Blog by Robert M. Boughton
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors
http://www.roadrunnerpipes.com
http://about.me/boughtonrobert
Photos © the Author

Last week, a blog of mine called “Giving It the Old College Try, As a Favorite Substitute Teacher Used To Put It” [https://rebornpipes.com/2014/09/24/giving-it-the-old-college-try-as-a-favorite-substitute-teacher-used-to-say-robert-m-boughton/], about a Monarch apple with an absurd tenon contraption that screwed into the shank with more or less permanence. Really, the nice-looking briar apple, as it was designed, was the worst example of pipe engineering I can imagine – and the maker even had the nerve to patent the monstrosity.Robert1I described my great difficulty trying to keep the pipe intact with its worse than useless tenon and my eventual semi-success by removing an obnoxious, bulbous extension that protruded from the shank to connect to the stem, much as a Space Shuttle docks with a station way up beyond the limit of the Earth’s atmosphere. However, at the time, I was so caught up with the notion that the tenon was necessary as to miss the obvious. Here was my final effort, which was far from perfect in its sturdiness.Robert11After writing that I wouldn’t even give the ridiculous pipe away to anyone who purchased another one on my Web store, I became more and more fixated on finishing the project some unknown right way – using the right stuff, so to speak. I considered all kinds of possibilities, including tracking down a replacement rod of appropriate length and design to replace the original. Now that, I must admit, was stupid.

Then I showed the pipe with all due meekness to Chuck Richards, my friend and mentor, describing its imperfections and showing him the reason. But all he had to say was that the stem had a minor crack in the lip anyway, and it would break altogether in time. I figured that meant sooner than later. And so my immediate brainstorm was to go ahead and offer the pipe for free with another purchase and include both the original and a prepared replacement stem.

Still, the only real solution eluded me! But at last, by George, I got it! Remove the whole wretched tenon and replace the stem!

And so, that I did, spending hours sanding down the new stem’s tenon to fit. I even added a brass band to make up for the dorky faux band that was attached to the original tenon-lunar module piece.Robert1Satisfied of a job done right, I filled the bowl halfway with some good Gawith Full Virginia Flake and spent the next hour or so puffing away in delight. I could taste the natural sweetness of the Virginias all the way through. Minus the tenon and with a stem that attached without it, the old Monarch became a good pipe after all.

I have decided either to keep the unique but dreadful tenon as a souvenir or maybe donate it to the local space museum.

That is all.

Restemming and Restoring a Diamond Shank Commodore Canadian


Blog by Steve Laug

This pipe bowl came up on eBay and I bid on it. I really liked the diamond-shaped shank and the pipe looked to be in great condition. I did a bit of research and found that the brand was either made by Comoy’s or Charatan. The style of the stamping, which read Made in London over England, made me more inclined to think it was a Charatan made pipe. The diamond shank and the overall style of the pipe also seemed to point to it being Charatan made. The photos below were the ones included by the seller. Commodore1 Commodore2 Commodore3 Commodore4The sandblast was very rugged and craggy. The rim had a lighter blast and the shank had a blast about 2/3 of the way back from the bowl toward the stem. The last 1/3 was rusticated to match the blast of the first portion of the bowl. The diamond shank was flattened – it was wider from side to side than it was tall. The sides of the shank were sanded smooth and the bottom left side of the shank was smooth and stamped COMMODORE over Made in London over England. The bowl had a light cake and some shards of tobacco still in the bowl. The finish was in very good shape other than the sides next to the shank end – it was worn and the stain was worn. The rim had some tars on it and a light build up. There was not a stem with this bowl.

The first steps I took in this process I forgot to document with my camera. The battery was dead when I did remember so I will have to describe it with words. I went through my can of stems to see if any of the diamond-shaped stems would fit this shank. None of them were wide enough for the width of the shank. I had several oval stems that were close in width and height. I looked through the stems until I found one that was the right height and width for the shank. I turned the tenon on a PIMO Tenon Turning Tool until it was a close fit and then sanded it by hand until it fit snuggly in place. The end of the shank was not quite square so there was a slight gap on the side corners. Filing and shaping the stem would help with the fit. I shaped it with a Dremel and sanding drum as well as hand sanded until it was a flattened diamond. I sanded the stem in place on the shank to make the transition smooth between the shank and stem. It took a lot of sanding to shape it correctly.IMG_2324 IMG_2325 IMG_2326 IMG_2327The photo below shows the shape of the finished stem. There was still a lot of work to do to smooth out the end of the tenon to remove the casting marks and to smooth out the diamond shape of the stem but the diamond shape was basically finished.IMG_2328I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer to remove the slight cake and the tobacco shards that were stuck to the sides of the bowl.IMG_2131I used a brass bristle tire brush to clean the rim top and remove the overflow of cake on the top. I wiped it down with a cotton pad and alcohol to remove the dust and clean out the grooves in the blasted rim.IMG_2333 IMG_2334I wiped down the bowl and shank with cotton pads and alcohol to remove the dirt in the finish and prepare it for working on the shank.IMG_2335 IMG_2336I used a dental burr in the Dremel to re-rusticate the shank area where I had sanded it smooth. I ran the Dremel at a slow speed to match the pattern on the rest of the shank.IMG_2337 IMG_2338 IMG_2339 IMG_2340I wiped down the rusticated shank area and wiped down the dust on the rest of the bowl to prepare it for the new stain coat. I used a black aniline stain for the stain on the newly rusticated areas and also gave the entire bowl a coat of the black stain to cover the worn areas. I applied the stain, flamed it and repeated the process until the coverage was even on the bowl.IMG_2341 IMG_2342I hand buffed the pipe with a rag I use for that purpose. It picks up the stain coat and evenly spreads it across the bowl and rim.IMG_2343 IMG_2344 IMG_2345 IMG_2346I buffed the pipe with White Diamond to polish the new stain and to blend it better with the rest of the bowl colour. The next series of four photos below show the pipe after this initial buffing.IMG_2351 IMG_2352 IMG_2353 IMG_2354I decided to give the bowl a coat of wax to see what black looked like when polished. I wanted to see if I would need to give it another coat of stain to highlight the higher spots on the sandblast. I applied it by hand and then buffed it with a shoe brush.IMG_2355 IMG_2356 IMG_2357 IMG_2358 IMG_2359 IMG_2360I set the bowl aside to work on the stem. I sanded it some more with the 220 grit sandpaper and then with the medium and fine grit sanding sponges. I followed those up by sanding with my usual array of micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each group of three pads. I buffed the stem with White Diamond to polish it.IMG_2361 IMG_2362 IMG_2363I decided to give the pipe a second coat of stain to highlight the black. I used a oxblood stain to give it the contrast that I was looking for. I applied the topcoat of stain and wiped it off. I buffed the pipe and stem with White Diamond again to polish the stain coat and stem.IMG_2364 IMG_2365 IMG_2366 IMG_2367I waxed it with several light coats of carnauba wax. I use a light touch so as not to gum up the wax in the sandblast. At the same time I want the shine that a good coat of wax gives the bowl and stem. The finished pipe is shown below. The new stem works well with the shape of the shank and gives the pipe a quiet, understated elegance. I hope to load up a bowl and give it an inaugural smoke tomorrow out on the front porch and relax with a good bowl of aged Virginia.IMG_2370 IMG_2371 IMG_2372 IMG_2373 IMG_2374

Renewing a Savinelli Punto Oro Canadian 804


Blog by Steve Laug

This is the last of the lot of pipes I picked up on my recent pipe hunt. It is pictured as the second photo down from the top in the photo below. It is stamped on the smooth underside of the shank Savinelli Punto Oro and next to that is the Savinelli shield next to 804 over Italy. The blast on this one is rugged and very clean. The shape is a tall bowl with an oval long shank – the sides of the oval are sharp on both sides and the curve of the top and the bottom of the shank a subtle oval shape.IMG_2049The finish on the bowl is in excellent shape. There are no dents or scratches in the bowl. The bowl had a thick cake that was crumbling toward the bottom of the bowl. The rim had a buildup of cake that had spilled over on to the top. The edges of the rim on both the inside and outside were crisp and sharp. The stem was oxidized and had a line of calcium around the stem about 2/3 of the way up the stem. I wonder if the pipe did not have a softie bit at some time during its life. There was light tooth chatter by the button. The inside of the stem and shank were dirty and there was a buildup of dark tars.Sav1 Sav2 Sav3 Sav4I reamed back the cake to bare wood using a PipNet reamer. I know that others who restore pipes don’t do that drastic a reaming but that is the method I use as I find that once cleaned the bare wood minimizes ghosting in the bowl.IMG_2131I cleaned out the stem and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol (99%). I cleaned them until the cleaners came out white and no more oils remained.Sav5 Sav6I wiped down the rim with alcohol to wet the overflow of cake and then used a brass bristle brush to scrub the rim.Sav7 Sav7a Sav8 Sav9I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and with medium and fine grit sanding sponges to remove the oxidation and calcium deposits. I also sanded until the tooth chatter was removed from the top and bottom sides of the stem.Sav10Sav11Sav12I used the Guardsman stain pens from Greg to touch up the rim and the edges of the rim and the shank.Sav13I buffed the bowl and shank with White Diamond to polish and blend in the new stain on the rim and shank.Sav14 Sav15 Sav16 Sav17I sanded the stem with my usual list of micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed it down after each set of three pads with Obsidian Oil and then gave it a buff with White Diamond.Sav18 Sav19 Sav20I put the stem in place and then buffed the entire pipe with White Diamond, lightly on the briar and a little heavier on the stem. I gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a soft flannel buff to polish and raise the shine on the pipe. The photos below show the finished pipe – cleaned and ready to be smoked.Sav21 Sav22 Sav23 Sav24

A Reborn Peterson Tankard


Blog by Steve Laug

I have looked for one of these little Peterson Tankards for a long time. I have always liked the delicate simplicity of the pipe. The bowl is a round tankard and the pencil shank with the silver Peterson collar looks elegant. The rim is rounded and crowned. The stem has a gentle bend that allows the pipe to sit plat on the base. It is stamped on its base Peterson Tankard, Made in the Republic of Ireland. The pipe is pictured in the photo below, the third pipe down. It was one of the five I found on my recent pipe hunt.IMG_2049The Tankard was in worn but decent shape. The finish was dirty and there was darkening around the bowl middle from the hands of the previous owner. The rim had a thick buildup of tars and oils that had hardened. There were burn marks around the inner edge of the rim at the back of the pipe and the right front. The burn on the front of the bowl was more extensive that then one on the back inner rim. The bowl had a thick cake in it and the shank was dirty. The stamping was readable but faint. The stem had tooth marks on the top and bottom sides of the stem near the crease on the P-lip. It was badly oxidized and there was a heavy calcification around the stem about an inch in from the button. The silver ferrule was clean and would shine up easily.IMG_2123 IMG_2124 IMG_2125 IMG_2126I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer to remove the cake back to bare wood. I scrubbed down the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap on a cotton cloth and wiped it off to clean the briar.IMG_2128 IMG_2260 IMG_2261 IMG_2262 IMG_2263The next photo shows the reamed bowl and the caked rim top. It was very thick so it would take some work with sandpapers and oil soap to remove the tars. I scrubbed it with the soap and then with alcohol to remove as much of the tars as possible. I then sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper and a medium grit sanding sponge. I wiped it down with acetone once I had finished sanding it. The extent of the rim damage can be seen in the second photo.IMG_2264 IMG_2265I wiped down the finish with acetone on cotton pads to completely remove the wax and the finish from the outside of the bowl.IMG_2266 IMG_2267 IMG_2268I set the bowl aside to work on the stem. I used a Bic style lighter to “paint” the surface of the stem and lift the tooth marks. Doing this I was able to remove many of the tooth dents and lessen the depth of the remaining ones.IMG_2269 IMG_2270 IMG_2271I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the rest of the dents and the oxidation and calcification. I reshaped the button and the crease to sharpen them. There was one tooth mark that I could not minimize further without damaging the thickness of the stem at the crease. I used a clear super glue to fill that spot. Once the glue had dried I sanded it and then used a needle file to reshape the crease and smooth things out. I sanded the repair with 220 grit sandpaper and then with medium and fine grit sanding sponges until I had blended it into the surface of the vulcanite.IMG_2272 IMG_2273 IMG_2274 IMG_2275 IMG_2276I sanded the stem with my usual array of micromesh sanding pads to polish and finish it. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil between each set of three grits. Once I finished with the micromesh pads I buffed the stem with White Diamond and then gave it several coats of carnauba wax to protect it and give it a deep shine.IMG_2281 IMG_2282 IMG_2283I decided to leave the finish natural and not stain it. I rubbed it down with a light coat of olive oil to enhance the redness of the briar.IMG_2277 IMG_2278 IMG_2279 IMG_2280I took a close up photo of the rim to see if the scratches were still visible. At the back side of the rim there were still some scratches that I needed to work on more to remove. I also wanted to see if I could also remove some more of the rim damage from the burn marks.IMG_2288I sanded the rim with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to work on the scratches and the burn marks. Working on the surface with the sanding sponge I was able to remove the scratches and some more of the burn marks from the surface.IMG_2289 IMG_2294I sanded the bowl with the same fine grit sanding sponge and then buffed it with White Diamond. I took special care around the stamping to make sure that I did not damage the light stamping. I gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax and lightly buffed it to a shine with a soft flannel buffing pad. The finished pipe is shown below. The birdseye grain on the sides and the cross grain on the ends both work really well. It is a beautiful pipe and I think it will be a great smoking pipe as well. It should provide many more years of service and certainly live beyond my lifetime to be passed on to a new generation of pipemen.IMG_2290 IMG_2291 IMG_2292 IMG_2293

Breathing New Life into an Astleys 48 Cherrywood


Blog by Steve Laug

The third pipe from my recent pipe hunt that I chose to restore was the last one pictured below. It is a rusticated Astleys Cherrywood style pipe with a tight rustication pattern resembling a sandblast. I think the process may have been to rusticate and then to sand down the high spots until they were smooth. The texture is really well done and comfortable to hold. The pipe is a light weight with a classic look.IMG_2049The finish was in pretty good shape with a few worn spots where the stain was rubbed off on both the bowl and shank. The rim had a buildup of tars and oils that had hardened and formed a scale on the rim. The bowl had a thick cake that choked out the diameter of the bowl. The stem had been over bent to the point it hung oddly in the mouth rather than the way the original bend had made it hang. It was also oxidized and had a buildup of calcium around the button end of the stem that covered several deep tooth marks on both the top and bottom sides of the stem.IMG_2115 IMG_2116 IMG_2117 IMG_2118As shown in the photo above the bowl had been stamped on the smooth bottom of the bowl. It read Astleys over 109 Jermyn St.Under that was stamped London over 48. I looked up the shape in an old Astleys catalogue (page pictured below) and found the 48 was round Cherrywood Briar. The description stated that it was a copy of an old English cherrywood with a flat base. The correct bend can also be seen in the photo below from the catalogue.astleys-booklet_page_07I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and took the cake back to bare wood. The oily, sweet, aromatic smell was more than I wanted to deal with in terms of ghosting.IMG_2231IMG_2232IMG_2233IMG_2234I cleaned out the internals with isopropyl alcohol and cotton swabs and pipe cleaners until they came out clean. I scrubbed the pipe with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a soft tooth brush for the sides and shank. I used a brass bristle tire brush to clean off the buildup on the rim. I then scrubbed the rim again with soap. When the scrubbing was finished I rinsed it with running water and dried it off with a cotton towel.IMG_2238IMG_2239IMG_2240IMG_2241IMG_2242I used the stain pens from Greg to touch up the worn spots on the finish of the bowl and shank. I buffed the bowl with a shoe brush once the stain was dry.IMG_2243IMG_2244IMG_2245IMG_2246Once the bowl was cleaned and buffed I turned to work on the stem. I used a needle file to give better definition to the crease on the button and clean up the bit marks on top of the button on both sides. I heated the tooth marks with a Bic lighter to raise them and then sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the small marks left behind. I also sanded to remove the calcium and oxidation on the stem.IMG_2247IMG_2248Up to this point I worked on the stem off the pipe. I avoided the area on the saddle where it sat against the shank so as not to round the shoulders. I cut a plastic washer and put it between the stem and the shank to allow me to work on the shoulders without damaging them when I sanded. I lightly reworked that area with the 220 grit sandpaper and then sanded the entire stem with medium and fine grit sanding sponges.IMG_2249IMG_2250There were still some small divots in the top of the stem so I removed it from the pipe and sanded them once more with the 220 grit sandpaper and the sanding sponges.IMG_2251I sanded the stem with the usual battery of micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each set of three pads. As the stem absorbs the oil the oxidation comes to the surface and the oil makes sanding much simpler. When I finished with the 12,000 grit pad I gave it a light buff with White Diamond.IMG_2252IMG_2253IMG_2255I gave the light spot on the shank shown in the above photo a touch up of stain and then put the stem back on the pipe and buffed the whole pipe lightly. I gave the bowl several coats of Halcyon II wax and then buffed the stem with more carnauba. I gave the entire pipe a light buff with a soft flannel wheel. The finished pipe is shown below.IMG_2256IMG_2257IMG_2258IMG_2259

A Face Lift for a Battered Old Meerschaum Bulldog – Robert M. Boughton


Guest Blog by Robert M. Boughton
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors
http://www.roadrunnerpipes.com
http://about.me/boughtonrobert
Photos © the Author

“Age should not have its face lifted, but it should rather teach the world to admire wrinkles as the etchings of experience and the firm line of character.”
— U.S. author Clarence Day, 1874-1937

INTRODUCTION
I agree that facelifts in most cases are attempts, nothing more than vain at best and narcissistic at worst, by those with money to burn to avoid the inevitable, and often enough have undesired effects the recipients deserve. However, in the case of a very battered and generally abused meerschaum pipe, as with some people who have suffered at the hands of others, at least a bit of a makeover is in order. This holds true with a bulldog, the animal breed of which many coarse or misguided folks think lacks beauty in the first place.

The unknown brand I will discuss, clearly a fine Turkish block example, is one of those exceptions. For reasons which will be obvious it resembled a dog that had been in a fight. I received it as part of a lot of eight from eBay that I purchased in large part because I saw the poor bulldog alone among all of the briars, and upon closer scrutiny with the magnifier observed it was filthy and somewhat oddly colored and had horrible scratches all over its once smooth, white, pristine body. Some unknown carver trying to eke out a living as his father and generations before him had done likely made it without even a signature of any sort, as is unfortunately all too common among Turkish crafters due to the central nature of humility in Islamic beliefs.

THE RESTORATION
This unfortunate meerschaum was in about as bad shape as I had ever seen any pipe I still wanted to buy. I thought, if not I, then who? There were others of more merit in the lot, but that one cried out to me. Then again, I do have a sizable collection of meerschaums and knew I would be more than happy to keep that one if things didn’t work out restoration-wise. A former roommate told me many years ago that I am attracted to strays, and although he said it with sarcasm I told him he was right. I see nothing wrong with that trait. By the way, I also tend to root for the underdog – although not as often in organized sports– such as the bull versus the matador. Nothing pleases me more than seeing a jerk in a pompous outfit, with all kinds of helpers, gang up on a bull and find himself gored and bleeding out. But that’s just a dark part of me.

THE PIPE RESTORATION

I have had fair success restoring meerschaums, including the following befores and afters: Robert1 Robert2 Robert3 Robert4And so I figured I would give this poor ol’ dog a shot:Robert5 Robert6 Robert7 Robert8 Robert9 Robert10 Robert11Despite the deplorable condition of the bowl and rim, I knew from the past that they would be the easy part of this job, so I tackled them first. I reamed the bowl and then used #800 micromesh to smooth it out. Surprisingly, with a light touch and a piece of 400-grit paper, I took the blackness right off of the rim and didn’t hurt the coloring at all. There were a few dings that rubbed out easily with #1000 micromesh.

The hard part, I knew and remember already indicating, but it bears repeating, was to remove as many of the scratches and other blemishes as I could with a minimum of damage to the nice if oddly distributed color on the outside of the bowl and shank. The spread of yellow and orange, not to mention the lack of any shine to the meerschaum, suggested over-hot smoking of this delicate if strongly shaped and named pipe. That conclusion would seem to be a no-brainer given horrendous caking within the bowl and cooking of the rim. And somehow I doubt the maker never treated it with beeswax or something else, yet it was as flat as could be.

My experience with washing the outside of a pipe with distilled water in general is that it seems to give a brighter light on the job at hand by removing all of the filth that has built up over time smoking any pipe. I could see this one was going to be worse than most, but nothing prepared me for the indefensible groping with dirty hands by whatever anti-aficionado of pipe smoking who had abused the bulldog with apparent joyful perversity. Why, I even had to scrub the muck out of the trademark groove beneath the rim! The result was not one or two, but three small pieces of cotton cloth spent and blackened with the physical dirtiness of some variety of pipe lecher.

Therefore, with the highest care, I applied stronger use of the #1000 micromesh to the seemingly endless scratches and other stray marks, like signs of skin cancer, that were everywhere. When I had stopped and resumed again time after time, finding more and more marks upon this wonderful pipe, I was at last as satisfied with the results as I knew I would ever be.

Then I used more stem cleaners and pipe freshener than I had ever expended on a single pipe, let me just say that, to sanitize the stem, shank and bowl, and by the end of it I have to admit only the stem came out perfectly clean. But I knew it was sanitized and ready to smoke one good bowl of tobacco, so I chose my own blend of burleys, Oriental, perique, a touch of Cavendishes and a bit of Virginias including red cake that I call Sneaky Rabbit (and which will soon be a house blend at my favorite tobacconist) to smoke the pipe once.
True enough, I wanted to know how this unusual bulldog smoked, but my main reason for lighting up a pipe I intend to sell and therefore knew I would have to give another quick clean was to heat the meerschaum enough to melt beeswax from a bar evenly over the outer area. I swear to it! I had researched online different processes for accomplishing this necessary completion for previous restorations, and the method I described had worked before so I knew it would again.

And so, once the smoking enjoyment had reached a high enough degree, I began applying the beeswax as described, and it worked just as well as I was certain it would. I took my last puffs of the pipe and cleared out the ash with care quickly before rubbing the beeswax vigorously into the meerschaum with a big soft cotton cloth.

The stem, despite the awful damage inflicted on the meerschaum, to my great surprise was in okay shape and only need some sanding and micro-meshing to prep it for a spin on the wax wheels.

Here are the final results:Robert12 Robert13 Robert14 Robert15 Robert16 Robert17 Robert18CONCLUSION
This was a work of love, and I know the results are a little rough around the edges. But I was determined throughout the process to assure that no more damage than had already been perpetrated against this pipe be made. It is already up for sale, but if nobody ever buys it, I know it is safe in my possession.