Daily Archives: September 24, 2014

Changing Directions in the midst of a Refurb – Plugging a Burnout in a Paul’s Canadian

Blog by Steve Laug

I am finally getting around to cleaning up the pipes I found on my recent pipe hunt. I decided to choose what I thought would be the easiest one. It was filthy and greasy. The top looked like it had been used as a hammer. I figured that it would clean up quickly and I liked the look of the briar that was peeking through. The bowl was stamped PAUL’S on the underside of the shank and Italy across the end of the shank. There is a stylized P on the stem. There was a sticky glue on the briar in several places that I think came from the price tag that was on the pipe. The bowl was really dirty and over reamed. The bottom of the bowl was almost flat. But there was a buildup of carbon from the top down about half way and there was tobacco fragments in the bowl bottom. The sides were no longer parallel and the airway entered above the bottom of the bowl. The stem was oxidized and had tooth chatter on the top and bottom of the stem.Plug1 Plug2 Plug3 Plug4I cleaned up the sides of the bowl interior with a PipNet reamer and used a dental pick to remove the detritus on the bottom of the bowl.Plug5I scrubbed the exterior of the briar with acetone to remove the grit, grime and grease from the finish. It actually took off the grime and took it down to the nice grain that I had seen peeking through. I think that the briar is oil cured as there is an oily texture to the wood.Plug6 Plug7 Plug8 Plug9 The top was so beat up that it had to be topped to smooth out the damage and restore the clean edges. I set up a topping board and worked on the top until it was smooth and the outer edges were sharp and well defined.Plug10 Plug11 Plug12I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper and a medium and fine grit sanding sponge to further clean up the finish. There was some darkening on the sides and bottom of the bowl and I wanted to bring it back to the same look as the shank and the rim. The idea was to bring the pipe back to clean and natural finish so that if I stained it the blend and matching would be much easier.Plug13 Plug14 Plug15 Plug16I decided to soak the bowl in an alcohol bath to remove some of the oils and grease on the surface. While it soaked I worked on the stem.Plug17I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation, calcium buildup and tooth chatter. I carefully sanded around the stamping on the stem to preserve it.Plug18 Plug19I used a needle file and a sanding stick to rework the edges of the button and sharpen the crease.Plug20 Plug21I took the bowl out of the alcohol bath and dried it off. Once the inside had air dried it was time to raise the bottom of the bowl to the bottom of the entrance of the airway. I mixed a batch of plaster of Paris and packed it in the bottom of the bowl until it was level. Things were looking good at this point. Once it was dried I would give it a coat of pipe mud and it would be good to go.Plug22 Plug23That was when things began to go south for me! I was sanding the bowl bottom and had found a spot that seem to give as I sanded on it. I had wondered if the bowl bottom was too thin from the over reaming but had not seen the soft area of the briar. I used a dental pick to exam the spot and with very little effort the end of the pick went right through the bowl bottom! BURNOUT. I poked around some more and found that there were several very soft spots. This was not what I wanted to find on what I thought would be a very easy clean up!! YIKES.Plug24With very little effort the entire area that was darkened broke away. I used a drill to clean up the ragged edges and make the hole round. I used a Dremel with a sanding drum to even out the edges and used it on the inside of the bowl to bring it back into round on the side where there had previously been a slope from a bad over reaming job.Plug25 Plug26 Plug27I had a round piece of briar left over from a plug I had cut for another burnout I had repaired. I smoothed out the bottom of the plug and fit it into the hole in the bowl. Once the fit was good and snug I glued it in place with wood glue then a top coat of super glue.Plug28 Plug29 Plug30 Plug31 Plug32 Plug33 Plug34 Plug35While the glue was hardening I used the Dremel and sanding drum to take off the excess briar from the plug.Plug36 Plug37I sanded the plug with 220 grit sandpaper to shape it to the curves of the heel of the pipe. The spots that appear as gaps around the plug are where the glue has already dried hard. These will disappear as the glue cures and hardens.Plug38 Plug39I sanded the entire pipe with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge and then wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratches from the finish and blend in the patch with the surface of the briar.Plug40 Plug41 Plug42 Plug43 Plug44 Plug45 Plug46I left the pipe overnight to give the glue time to cure. In the morning I sanded the bottom area of the bowl to smooth it out as the areas around the patches had swollen above the patch when they dried.Plug47Since the briar had been oil cured I decided to rub it down lightly with some olive oil and let it soak in. The next four photos show the pipe after the light rub down with oil.Plug48 Plug49 Plug50I spent a bit of time thinking about the next steps in the process. I had a decision to make – whether to leave the plug smooth and just stain the pipe and keep it glaringly present or to rusticate the bottom of the bowl and blend the plug into the rustication pattern. I decided to rusticate it. I took out the rusticator that Chris made for me and drew a boundary line around the area on the bottom of the bowl that I wanted to rusticate.Plug51 Plug52I pressed the rusticator into the briar and twisted it until the surface was roughened I used a brass bristle wire brush to knock off the loose briar and smooth things out. I buffed the rustication with White Diamond to smooth the high points.Plug53I stained the rusticated area with a black aniline stain and flamed it to set the stain. I sanded the lines around the rustication and the peaks on the rustication as well to get the look I wanted for this piece.Plug54 Plug55When I came home from work this evening I decided to extend the rustication back along the shank. I used the rusticator to work the briar and then stained the entire rustication with a black aniline stain.Plug56 Plug57I sanded the stem with my usual array of micromesh sanding pads to bring out the shine. 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 set of three pads.Plug58 Plug59 Plug60I mixed a batch of Plaster of Paris to rebuild the bottom of the bowl and raise the part that was untouched by the plug to the same height as the plug and to the bottom of the entrance of the airway from the bowl. I inserted a pipe cleaner in the airway and put the mix into the bowl. I tamped in the plaster mix with a pipe nail and the cuticle tool. It dried to touch fairly quickly and I wiped down the walls of the bowl with a cotton swab and water. I smoothed out the bottom of the bowl the same way. Once the plaster has cured I will give the bottom of the bowl and walls a thin coat of pipe mud to preserve and protect the new plug and the freshly shaped briar on the walls of the pipe.Plug61I buffed the bowl and stem with White Diamond and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a soft flannel buff to raise a shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The soft colour of the oil cured briar and the light coat of olive oil bring out the grain. The contrast of the rustication on the bottom of the bowl and the black stain on that gives the bowl a fresh look. One of the side benefits of the added rustication is that the bowl is now a sitter whereas before the rounded bottom of the shank made that impossible. The pipe needs to cure for a few days and then I will give it an inaugural smoke.Plug62 Plug63 Plug64 Plug65.

Giving It the Old College Try, As a Favorite Substitute Teacher Used To Say – Robert M. Boughton

Guest Blog by Robert M. Boughton
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors
Photos © the Author

“What is the real purpose behind the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus? They seem like greater steps toward faith and imagination, each with a payoff. Like cognitive training exercises.”
— Author Chuck Palahniuk, in a Seattle Times interview, November 18, 2005

Attention, working memory, processing speed, long-term memory, visual processing, auditory processing, logic and reasoning are the primary aspects of cognitive thinking, or the ability to learn. That’s why I kicked myself, in the figurative sense of course, the other day when I finished this restoration project and discovered I had deviated from my normal habit of photographing each part of the project – in this case, the pipe before it was restored. I mean, that’s not really an important step, after all, only the key to understanding the significance of the end product.

My excuse is that I bought a lot of eight pipes on eBay, knowing they were in foul condition but rather desperately needing more ware for my online store, and in the repetitious task of documenting all of their original conditions from every angle, the one slipped past me. However, being more attentive by nature, I have managed to forgive myself, if not without some wicked self-chastising.

Anyway, I bought that particular set for several reasons: nobody seemed to see what I did, that hidden in the apparent wreckage (at least to someone with an eye to get past all of that) were an unusual Savinelli huge billiard, a Ropp cherry wood, a smooth and well-colored old meerschaum bulldog and a Longchamp pigskin billiard, all of which appeared to be vintage; the bidding was low, I thought – I won for $32.50 with free shipping, more than the price for any one of them with careful work – and I was determined to have them, without sniping, at a sane cost I was confident of achieving by scaring off the competition with a max bid that had to seem outrageous to the others who were watching. I wonder if any of the unfortunate amateurs even took another look to see who won. And, oh, the thrill of victory in the best example of the open market that is eBay, even at its downright dirtiest.

Only one of the eight, a very old corncob, was burned out. In fact, that is putting it over nicely, for there was a glaring hole in the bottom that I confirmed with a poke from my pocket three-in-one pipe utility tool, but even it offered an excellent age-browned stem and gold-colored shank plate that fit an old restore with a crack I’ve been working on. The beautiful Savinelli Punto Oro marked “Herman Marcus” – which the eBay seller misidentified in the ad as a “Neiman Marcus” – on the right shank is very badly caked like the others and has an original short stem that for whatever hair-brained reason was bent up and back and not surprisingly has a chunk out of the lip. Call it foolhardiness or even plain arrogance, but I think I can fix the chunk. The other six pipes are finished, but this account concerns only one.

My blog today is about a lesser-known pipe brand called Monarch, which was established in Hartford, Connecticut in the 1930s and also distributes the Carey Magic Inch and Aerosphere pipes. Specifically, this concerns an apple shaped sitter with a bizarre patented tenon that screws into the shank. Once inserted with great difficulty, the tenon leaves a jet engine-like protrusion with a tiny piece of the rod that snaps onto the stem. Robert1At the time I believed my greatest problem would be disassembling the pipe, as something within the complex tenon system went awry and left the stem and cap spinning out of control with no purchase whatsoever. Naturally, I consulted my friend and mentor, Chuck Richards, first. He examined the pipe, sighed, made a doubtful face and suggested I give the whole thing a hot alcohol flush to see if that might loosen things up. But he was making no promises. And so, just for backup, I emailed our host, Steve, and posed my question. He said he had encountered the same problem once or twice in the past, and the only way he was able to get the pieces apart was to wiggle the stem carefully back and forth for as long as it took to do the job. Steve suggested the process could take some time and be quite tiring.

And so I decided upon a course of compromise. I gave the pipe a normal cold alcohol flush just to remove some gunk, which it did, and as I was quick to wipe up the overflow, it cleaned the bowl and shank well also. Then I commenced the wiggling. Steve was correct. The darned thing wanted to put up a fight. But maybe I lucked out, or the pipe just felt the negative vibes beginning to emanate from my psyche, because after about a half-hour of this nonsense the stem popped off. I was sure I had broken it!

Uncovering something out of a sci-fi comic book from back in the day, before anyone from Earth at least had ever traveled into space, or perhaps more like a diagram one might see in an old tech manual on airplane engines, I grasped the bowl and shank firmly in one hand and seized the curious bulb with two fingers of my free one and tried my hardest to twist. This approach got me nowhere but hot and sweaty.
Acutely aware of how easily I might demolish the entire pipe with one fell move but needing in the worst way to get that thing out of the shank, I wrapped the extending end of the tenon in a few small pieces of cotton and found some pliers. I started with the least necessary force and worked my way up a few notches before thinking better.

Sitting down and applying all of that processing (in particular visual), logic and reasoning I mentioned in the beginning, I noted the small opening in the exposed end of some sort of rod as yet unknown to me but most certainly to become so. And I remembered something (learning) I had done before to extract similar parts jammed in admittedly more sturdy objects. Rummaging through my toolbox, I found a small screw and screwdriver and with all due respect for the frail pipe, not to mention the unknown integrity of the odd tenon, forced the screw a short distance into the hole, where it jammed as I had intended.
Reversing the turn of the screw, no pun intended, I was rewarded almost at once with movement of the rod. Soon it became loose enough to finish by hand, and then the whole, approximately two-inch, grimy rod, along with the bulbous end and the stem cap, were in my hands. I know pride is supposed to be a sin, but not in all cases, and at any rate, there it is.

The patented supertenon, which appeared not to be intended for removal in order to accomplish such trivial tasks as cleaning the pipe now and then, suddenly told me, as clearly as if it spoke the words, why I found it and the inner shank coated with vile muck accreted over the decades. Intense alcohol scrubbing with stem cleaners corrected that problem.

But then there were the bowl and rim to make right again, and I emphasize that term. The iniquitous conditions of the two, un-photographed as they may be, can be approximated by a shot I took of those areas of another pipe from the same lot:Robert2Although clearly not even the same material as the Monarch apple, the rim scorching and cake buildup in the bowl are for all intents and purposes identical.

I reamed that bowl with vigor and then sanded it, first with 150-grit paper and then 400, for about 40 minutes, until it was completely clear of carbon and down to the briar at the top. I used 220 on the rim, then micro-meshed it with 2400.

In this way time flew, and the hour arrived to reassemble the pipe. I really had no idea how that would go, but after a few tries I managed, with the rod inserted through the holes on either end of the bulb and decorative cap that was attached to it, to turn the crazy tenon as far as it would go back into the shank. Relieved that the cap was snug in place, I made several tries to line up the tiny exposed end of the rod with a space station-like dock deep inside the hollow stem.Robert3 For some odd reason I felt like Major Tom floating in a tin can. At last I heard a happy click of connection, and the pipe was as whole as it could be.
You see, that was the problem right there. Even after I buffed up the stem with red Tripoli and White Diamond, and the briar with the works, I just was not satisfied with the wicked little Apollo 13 shimmy thing going on between the stem and the tenon. My attention, working memory, processing speed, long-term memory, visual processing, logic and reasoning were all whirring at full capacity as I tried to rationalize putting this piece of horse pucky up for sale on my new Web store, but something in my subconscious still refused to learn this new trick.

Therefore, I went to the Google chalkboard to see if I could work it out by looking up “Monarch tobacco pipe tenons,” which was actually a suggested search, and found images of them. And what do you know, but right there, number one, was my hideous creature.Robert4 Take special note of two items of intelligence we can gather from this photo: the significantly greater length of the rod sticking out of the bulb, and the still far too big of a gap between the exposed rod and the connector in the stem of my Monarch. The first thought I had was to disassemble the doggone thing again and see if I had somehow made a mistake – which does happen sometimes – and perhaps the tenon was screwed in too tightly. I’m sorry to say it wasn’t.

Still, the exercise in self-doubt was a success in that without it I might not have observed the length of the tenon loose in my hand again and imagined it re-inserted into the shank without the bulb and cap in the way. I mean, I never really liked it from the beginning, let’s face it, and so the notion of tossing it into my growing assortment of pipe odds and ends was rather appealing.

I made a battlefield decision and thought, what the heck. I’ve already spent too much time on this fanciful, vintage and even patented experiment in pipe making, so what are a few more minutes? After re-screwing in the rod without the bulb and cap, I snapped on the stem – and it indeed was a much better fit.Robert5 Robert6 Robert7 Robert8 Robert9 Robert10 Robert11
Now that all is said and done, I am happy that I did the work of making this sad example of pipe craft look beautiful again and ready to smoke in some fashion. But the bottom line is, I don’t even want to keep it around to use for my own enjoyment, so I certainly won’t sell it to anyone. First thing after finishing this blog and dispatching it, I intend to remove the pipe from my online store, where I have already posted it for $35. To me that would be the same as robbery, and even offering it free with the purchase of another pipe would be a cruel joke to play on some unsuspecting customer. Besides, it would only come back to me by the power of three times three. Maybe I’ll give it to a friend who is particularly fond of apples, with a copy of this blog. At least I have made it reasonably easy to remove the so-called tenon now.

To me, this is the real purpose behind the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. Learning.

John’s First Restoration – A Danish Sovereign Peewit #30

When John and I got home from our pipe hunt we spent the evening and the next morning working on the pipes he had found. We figured that the best way for him to learn how to refurbish pipes was to work on this lot together. That way he would learn as he worked with me on the pipes and we could discuss any issues that might arise during the process of the cleanups. He was intrigued with the idea and liked working with his hands so it seemed like this might be a part of the pipe smoking hobby that he could use to unwind and clear his thoughts from the heavy work of his day to day work as a Presbyterian minister. For his first pipe to refurbish he chose to restore a Danish Sovereign Peewit Shape #30. It is shown in the picture below and is the second pipe in the first row at the top. Walking through the entire process with him on this pipe and one of the others that he did taught him everything from removing the cake, cleaning the finish on a bowl and restaining it to cleaning and polishing a stem to the point that it shone. IMG_2050 Once again I forgot to take photos of the pipe before we started but remembered after I had reamed it with a PipNet reamer. The bowl was badly caked and the rim had a thick buildup of tars and oils. The briar had a nice blast on it and the stain was worn in quite a few spots. The stem was odd on this particular pipe. The tenon had a sleeve on it that added diameter. It appeared that somewhere along the way the shank had been redrilled larger than the original tenon so the sleeve was a necessity. The bowl was drilled way off centre to the right so the airway entered the bowl on the right side of the bottom of the bowl. The bowl itself was round but the pipe itself was way out of round with far more briar on the right side than the left. Danish1 Danish2 Danish3John scrubbed the bowl with a tooth-brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime and the old finish. He used a dental pick to remove the remainder of the buildup on the top of the rim. He rinsed it under running water to remove the soap and grime and dried it with a soft cloth. He used a dark brown stain pen (thanks Greg) to match the stain on the bowl in those areas on the shank and rim where the stain had worn off. He buffed the bowl with White Diamond and then gave it several coats of carnauba wax and hand buffed it with a shoe brush. Danish4 Danish5 Danish6The stem needed a lot of attention. There were some tooth dents in the surface of the stem on the top and bottom side. We set up the heat gun and heated the vulcanite to lift the dents. We also adjusted the bend in the stem while we were at it with the heat gun.Danish7 Danish8 The next photo of the end of the tenon shows the sleeve that had been added to the tenon to increase the diameter. Danish9John sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the calcification and the oxidation. He also used that to sand out the remnants of the tooth marks after we heated the stem. He then sanded the stem with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge to remove the scratch marks left behind by the sandpaper. Once finished he moved on to sand with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I had him rub the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each set of three pads. He buffed the stem with White Diamond and then we waxed it with some Renaissance Wax (he will not have access to a buffer at home so I was trying work as much as possible without one).Danish10 Danish11 Danish12 Danish13I had John give the pipe another coat of Renaissance Wax and buff it with a shoe brush to raise the shine. The finished pipe is shown below in all of its new sheen. I think John will enjoy smoking this one. I know when I refurbished my first pipe it seemed to smoke exceptionally well. I think it is the time spent bringing it back to life that makes this happen. Great job on this one John, it is a refurbished pipe to be proud of. Be sure to let us know how it smokes when you fire it up.Danish14 Danish15 Danish16 Danish17