Monthly Archives: November 2014

A New Pipe for me – a Diebel’s K.C. Canadian

Blog by Steve Laug

NonameThere is a bit of a back story to this pipe. For as long as I can remember (you have to remember that may not be that long when you reach a certain age. Memory plays tricks on you) I have had two copies of Carl Ehwa Jr.’s The Book of Pipes and Tobaccos. One I am saving is pristine and one that graces my shelf. The other is for lending out and referring to when I am looking for information. It is a book I have read and reread and never tire of in the process. In a recent thread on Smoker’s Forums Ken posted to a thread on a review of the book some interesting information tying the book to a Diebel pipe that he had in his possession. He posted the pipe and then the information that Carl Ehwa Jr. was formerly a Master Blender at Diebels Tobacco and founder of McClelland Tobacco. He received several responses – one from Chris noting that the book’s dedication reads, “For my grandfather, Dr. W. C. McClelland…” I remember meeting Mary McNeil and sharing a limo back to the airport after the Chicago Show. In our conversation I found out that she was married to Ehwa when they started McClellands. He passed away and she married Mike McNeil who has always been a part of things there I believe.

Thanks to Ken I was given the impetus to try to find a Diebel’s pipe. I searched on Ebay and found one – a Diebel’s Canadian – to add to the collection. It should arrive very soon and when it does I will load a bowl of Christmas Cheer and read Ehwa’s book yet again. Adding a pipe to the read will be just one more dimension to the experience.Diebel Canadian

Diebel canadian2

Diebel Canadian3 I was excited to receive the Diebel pipe in the mail so when it arrived I opened the box expecting to see the pipe above. I expected it to be a normal length Canadian with simply the Diebel stamping. When I unwrapped it I found a Diebel pipe but a different one than the one I had purchased. It was stamped DIEBEL’S K.C. on the top of the shank and had a Savinelli shield on the stem. It had a band of gold as part of the stem. On the underside of the shank it is stamped Italy and Savinelli Product. There were no shape numbers on the pipe but it was the long shank Canadian that is common with Savinelli. It measures 7 inches long. The briar was dirty and stained on the sides and the back of the bowl with oils. It was quite dark. It appeared to have a matte finish. The rim was darkened with tars and some scratches on the top front of the rim. The inner edge was darkened and had some burning.Diebel1



Diebel4The bowl had a thick cake that was rock hard. It significantly reduced the diameter of the bowl. The stem had two tooth marks on the top near the button and on the underside was a deep bite mark. I removed the stem and inside it had been drilled to receive the Savinelli balsa filter. There was a new filter in the tenon.Diebel5



Diebel8 Examining the old Diebel’s stamped Savinelli left me with questions that needed answering. I wanted to know more about the Diebel’s pipe shop. I wanted to know if Savinelli made all of their pipes or if some were actually carved in the shop itself. I wanted to know if the other pipe, the one I had actually ordered was made by Savinelli as well or if it may possibly have had a different manufacturer. You can see that the pipe left me with many questions that would require some research to find answers.

I did some digging and found the Diebels web site. On the site was a section on company history. The link follows:

In reading through that section on the history of the company I learned that Fred Diebel learned pipe making from a local pipemaker, Fred Metz. He carved in house pipe made the way he had learned to make them from Fred. He also imported Savinelli and English made pipes. I am including a short section from that portion of the company history.

“When Fred Diebel returned from his World War II duty as a U.S. Navy pilot of lighter than air craft (blimps), he knew he wanted to own his own business. Diebel, who earned a degree in mathematics from Kansas City University (now UMKC), saved for his life’s ambition while working successively for two venerable retailers in Kansas City: Rothschild’s and Montgomery Ward.”

“In 1950, Diebel capitalized on his first entrepreneurial opportunity, buying into Afflick & Co., a tobacco shop located at 11th and Walnut in downtown Kansas City. The company was re-named Afflick & Diebel. There, Diebel became an avid pipe smoker and developed an interest in the arcane craft of pipemaking. He sought a noted local pipemaker, Fred Metz, to teach him the craft. Initially, the elderly German native refused. But eventually, Diebel’s persistence paid off and Mr. Metz consented, saying, “Young man, I will teach you to make pipes on these conditions. You buy the proper equipment and you promise to do it my way, the right way.””

“In 1954, Diebel determined it was time to strike out on his own. He saw the Country Club Plaza as a shopping and business district on the rise. So with a bankroll of $1,000, he purchased two display cases for $100 each, tools, tobacco product, and signed a lease. Fred Diebel, Pipemaker, Tobacconist was born at 4625 Wornall, across from Putchs’s Cafeteria (now Houston’s) and next to Renner’s Shoe Repair. The enterprise was successful from the beginning, though not in the way Diebel expected. He underestimated the strong demand for pipe repair and found little time for the pipe making work necessary to supply his retail pipe business. In order to manage the growth demand for new pipes, he began importing pipes from England.”

“For more than a decade, Diebel specialized exclusively in pipes, pipe repair, and pipe tobacco. Customers requesting cigars or cigarettes were politely but firmly referred elsewhere. Mr. Diebel’s philosophy may have been guided more by personal disdain for any smoking related product that did not involve a pipe than by visionary marketing theory. Nonetheless, he became one of the early niche retailing pioneers…”

“…The company also began manufacturing pipe tobacco. Conditioning, cutting, casing, blending, pressing and packing operations occurred in a warehouse located in the caves at Bannister and Holmes. Manufacturing continued through the early 1980’s. The business continued to grow as a family business, with Diebel’s wife plus his two sons and daughter working in the shops and manufacturing facilities during their teen and young adult years.”

I love learning the history of a brand. Further reading on other sites led me to the information that Savinelli made Diebel’s pipes. With that information I went on to clean up the pipe. I reamed it with a PipNet reamer, starting with the smallest cutting head and working up to the second head. I reamed the cake back to bare wood. The cake and bowl smelled of a heavily cased aromatic. The inside of the shank and stem was black with tars.Diebel9

Diebel10 I wiped the bowl down with acetone on cotton pads to remove the grime and the finish. The black grime came off easily with repeated scrubbing.Diebel11

Diebel12 Once I had cleaned the grime and tars off the rim I could see the darkened damaged area of the top of the rim and the inner edge of the bowl. Though it is hard to see there were some deep scratches on the top of the rim on the right front side. They were quite deep gouges. The bowl would need to be topped to remove the damage and minimize the burn marks.Diebel13

Diebel14 I set up a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper on top of it. I turned the top of the bowl into the sandpaper in a circular motion, clockwise until the damaged area of the gouges and burned area was gone. I sanded the rim with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches left behind by the sandpaper. I used a folded piece of sandpaper to remove the burn damage on the inner edge of the rim. I sanded the bowl with the medium and fine grit sanding sponges to clean up the remaining dark areas. I wiped it down a final time with acetone on cotton pads.Diebel15


Diebel17 With the bowl cleaned and ready to finish I set it aside and worked on the stem. I sanded the tooth marks with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damage of the tooth marks.Diebel18

Diebel19 The tooth marks on the top of the stem cleaned up nicely, leaving behind two small divots that I needed to repair with super glue. The damage on the underside was much worse – the dent was deep and needed a large fill. The first photo below shows the repaired underside tooth mark. The second photo shows the repairs of the marks on the topside. I used clear super glue and an accelerator to harden it. Some might ask why I used clear super glue instead of black super glue and to be honest I am not sure why, I picked up the tube of clear glue and used it as it was closest to pipe at hand. Both work equally well for me.Diebel20

Diebel21 I sanded the glue patches with 220 grit sandpaper and then with medium and fine grit sanding sponges. I sanded until the surface of the patch was blended in with the surface of the stem. You can see from the photos that the clear glue worked well.Diebel22

Diebel23 At this point in the process I gave the pipe a coat of medium walnut Danish Oil stain. I set the pipe on a cork to dry while I went to work for the day.Diebel24 When I came home I buffed the bowl and shank with White Diamond and then worked on the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads and then dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I buffed the stem with White Diamond and then rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. Once it was dry I gave the bowl and stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a soft flannel buffing pad to raise a shine.Diebel25


Diebel27 The finished pipe is shown below. It is cleaned and ready to smoke. The overall look of the pipe is clearly a Savinelli to me. It is distinctively Italian. The taper of the stem, the sharper edges on the sides of the shank and the bowl shape all say Italian. The band on the stem is various sizes of gold stripes that encircle the stem at the shank union. The walnut stain gives the pipe a contrast look and makes the grain stand out. The finish is warm an earthy in tone and the smooth feel in the hand is comfortable. I am looking forward to loading up a bowl and enjoying an inaugural smoke.Diebel28



Diebel31 Now I am waiting for the arrival of the original pipe I purchased from the seller in Eastern Canada. I look forward to seeing if it is one of Fred Diebel’s own hand-made pipes. The look in the first trio of photos above is certainly different from the look of the Savinelli. When it arrives I will clean it up and do a write up on it and a comparison with the Sav.

Comoy’s Satin Matte Bent Christmas Pipe, In Four-Part Harmony – Robert M. Boughton

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

This blog is dedicated to my older uncle, Frank Lee Grannis (1945-2014), who was maybe Arlo Guthrie’s biggest fan. Frank once snapped a black and white photo of a teenaged Arlo, at an outdoor music festival somewhere in the countryside, smiling and signing an autograph for another fan who was about Arlo’s age. I lost the photo in my younger, wilder days, or I would include it here, but the image will always be in my memory.

Let’s get Santa Clause ’cause:
Santa Clause has a red suit
He’s a communist
And a beard, and long hair
Must be a pacifist
What’s in the pipe that he’s smoking?
—Arlo Guthrie, U.S. singer-songwriter-musician, in “The Pause of Mr. Claus” (1968)

Now friends, tonight we’re gonna sing you a song, a Christmas carol in four-part harmony. The song…the Christmas carol is part of an album called “Arlo.” That’s my name. Some of you right about now might be thinking, thinking in your private thoughts there in your heads, well, this Arlo fella must have a pretty big ego. I mean, to go and name an album after himself, he must have let all that fame and fortune go to his head. I don’t know about the fame and fortune part, because all that doesn’t last long, but my head, my head is really sort of small. We’ve never actually met. All of you out there and me, that is.But that’s not what I came to talk about. Came to talk about a pipe. Remember the pipe? This is a story about a pipe.And I’ll get to it. In time, and four-part harmony.

So there I was, sitting on a bench, looking for a song to start with. I didn’t find it. I’m not proud…or tired.Out of all the songs I wrote, there I was, on the bench trying to pull just one verse from my head, but nothing would come.I knew right then and there I had to get ahold of Steve Laug, he’s a good friend of mine. We’ve never actually met. But we write emails back and forth to each other all the time. Now friends, if you ask me, that’s one hell of a way for folks to talk. Sort of like writing a story, in four-part harmony.

And then it hits me that it would be a friendly gesture to sing a Christmas carol about the guy who started it all. A guy in a red coat who has a beard, and all he does is give presents…for free…to all the rest of us. Must be something deranged about a guy like that.Living in Canada…living at the North Pole, it’ll do that to a guy.

Now, Steve and me, we never exactly said anything about any quote. All we talked about was the pipe. Remember the pipe? Anyway, I sent him a picture with the email, an eight-by-ten color glossy with all the details written down, and I said I thought it was what’s called a brandy shape, and Steve, he says it’s like a BBB he has that’s the same shape, only it’s a Christmas pipe. Well, I never heard of any Christmas pipe shape, but Steve knows more than I do. And later on he wrote back and sent a picture of his BBB, an eight-by-ten color glossy with all the details. And the two eight-by-ten color glossies with all the details were almost the same.

And the good news is, that’s when I remembered this Christmas carol I wrote, in four-part harmony, because it was about Santa Claus, even though it’s spelled with an “e” in the song. Don’t ask me why, you can figure it out. Now, everyone knows old Santa is all about Christmas. So that’s about how that story goes.

Now I’ll get on with the other story, about the pipe. Remember the pipe?

I got mixed up online with some poor fella who was selling seven pipes all together and didn’t have a clue what all was in there. ’Cause my eye went straight to one with a white C on the stem and even I knew what that meant. The listing, in micro-mini small print at the bottom of the page, that you’re not supposed to read, called it a “Como’s Bent Billiard,” but I took a closer look and made out the blurry Y after Como. So there I was, still sitting on the bench and having a good old time knowing how nobody else knew the Como pipe was in there with all the others, and that’s why the price was so low with time running out.Rob2 I’d like to dedicate this Christmas carol to all the pipe-abusing S.O.B.s out there who have been bad little boys and girls and ought to keep that in mind this coming Christmas. It’s called “The Pause of Mr. Como.” Now here’s how the song goes.

Meanwhile, back to myself again after a brief diversion, I will describe the pipe as I received it. Although there were bad cake buildup in the chamber, rim burning, ubiquitous scratches on all sides of the bowl and a stem in dire need of work and polishing, the allure of this excellent Comoy’s example was almost intoxicating, and I haven’t tasted alcohol in 26 years – not that you could tell after reading my Introduction.Rob3






Rob9 I like to start on a rim with super fine steel wool, as I did with this pipe. In general, this approach takes off most or all of the char and leaves the wood beneath without a single new scratch and often even shiny. This time I got nowhere with the regular method, and so I switched to 400-grit paper, which removed the char as well as dings and scratches I uncovered. Of course, the sandpaper also took off the old stain.

With the rim clean and smooth, showing the fine grain, I found my old Senior Reamer in its box and took on the chamber.This time, the reamer worked as it should. Almost all of the buildup was reduced to dust. A little quick sanding with 120-grit paper was needed before smoothing with 400.Rob10 Now, as I described earlier, the outer wood was scratched almost everywhere. I very much wanted to avoid ruining the good, light stain of the original. Having learned that micromesh can go a long way, from advice of my mentor, Chuck Richards, as well as our host and several previous readers, I put the theory to a tougher test than I had before.

And you know what? I think they’re on to something! Starting with 800-grade, I was able to eliminate all but the most insignificant scratches. I then worked my way up from 1000 to 1500 to 2400 and ending with 3200, leaving the briar– well, leaving the briar as smooth as it must have been the day it left the Comoy’s shop.

Taking on the stem only required heavy sanding and buffing with 1500, 2400 and 3200 micromesh.

Cleaning the pipe turned out to be the hardest part. I just kept dipping the bristly cleaners in Everclear one half at a time and scrubbing away until they came out of the shank and stem clear.Rob11



If I had kept this fine example of Comoy’s craftsmanship, I would prize it as the best as compared to the two I own. However, as fate would have it, the pipe sold almost as soon as I posted it on my restored pipes Website. My only consolation is that I have reason to believe it is in adoring hands.

Carving and Rusticating My First Pipe

Blog by Greg Wolford

Last winter sometime I got myself a pre-drilled pipe kit from an eBay auction; it is from Mr. Brog and is pear wood. I don’t remember exact how I did it but I really messed it up with a terribly wavy cut on the front using a coping saw; I made a few other small cuts that weren’t bad but made the block a mess added to the front cut. I was very unhappy with myself over it and put the kit away, forgetting about it, figuring it was a total loss.

Last week my son found it while he was carving a briar kit I’d bought him a few months ago and gave it to me. I decided that I was going to go ahead and try my hand at carving it, to get a feel for the process and maybe even salvage it. Considering the bad start I had, I didn’t plan on writing about this so I didn’t take many photos. But I’ve been asked about how I rusticated it so here we go.

I used only files and sandpaper, no more sawing (LOL), to do all of the rest of the pipe except for two things: the rim I carved lightly with a Dremel and I buffed it lightly on the buffer. This is an idea I’d where I started, with the wavy face:


I used various files, including the above pictured vulcrylic file, to shape the block; my plan was to get a volcano type shape and hide the poor face-cut in the process. This proved to be a challenge since the front couldn’t be shaped too much or I’d end up with a much too thin wall.

I filed and sanded, slowly bringing out, more or less, the shape I had in mind. I also worked at the shank to a decent transition to the stem, which was a fair amount of work with all the material that needed to be removed. After I had gotten as far as I felt I could go with the shaping and was fairly happy with it I decided this would be a rusticated pipe; it would blend the faults better I thought and, being pear, there was no grain to speak of.

I’ve been wanting to try my hand at rustication and make a tool for a while. I’ve read many ideas on how to do this, mostly on this blog, so I knew what I wanted to try. I have many small screwdriver bits lying around from cheap screwdriver kits I’ve had over the years. The bits are usually not very hard and of low quality, often stripping out on tough screws/bolts; one of these would be my starting point. I held the number 2 Phillips head bit I chose in a pair of vice grips while using a Dremel cutting disk to cut the “X” on the bit tip. This is what I ended up with:


There are now four cutting “teeth” on the bit, one which is slightly longer than the others (by accident I might say). I then chucked this up in a battery-powered screwdriver that had an adjustable handle; it can be used anywhere from straight to a 90-degree angle. I pressed the bit into the wood, depressed the switch, and began rusticating the stummel. This turned out to be a rather fun and enjoyable process I soon found. By varying the pressure, time the bit was rotating, and letting the tool “walk”, I was able to get a pretty interesting and fairly consistent pattern.





I used a small carving bit in the Dremel to lightly carve the rim because the smooth rim didn’t match the pipe in my opinion.

I then scrubbed the stummel with a wire brush, to knock off the dust and debris from the process. I applied Fiebing’s mahogany leather dye, two coats which I dried with the heat gun rather than flaming because my grandson was helping me with this entire project. I hand buffed the extra stain off with an old rag and steel wool. Next I sanded the wood lightly with 320-grit paper to knock down the really sharp edges that remained. Them I buffed the stummel with Tripoli to further reduce harsh edges and give it a very small amount of contrast. Lastly, I waxed it with Halcyon II and buffed it by hand with a shoe brush.



In the end I saved the kit, though it’s not as nice a project as I’d hoped for. But this system of bits ground into various shapes and used with the battery-powered screwdriver is an idea I really think made the project a success. I think that making different tools from different bits coupled with the variations one can achieve with the driver are a great tool to play with in the future, one that I hope others will find useful, too, and maybe find better variations on the idea to share with us for future use. Below is the driver, bit, and extension I used.


Comoy’s 440 Tradition Restored

Blog by Al Jones

I thought that I was done buying pipes for 2014 but this Comoy’s Tradition 440 popped up on Ebay and I couldn’t resist.  This shape is similar to the 498 Extraordinaire that I own, but slightly smaller.  It also has an attractive fish-tail style button that I prefer.

The stamping of “Comoy’s” with the slightly larger “C” and the apostrophe was started in the 1950′s and the round “Made In London” with England below was also used in that era. The pipe could have been made from the 1950′s to the end of the Cadogan era in 1982 (give or take!).

Despite a massive, overflowing cake, the pipe appeared to be in very good condition.  The stem was heavily oxdized but the nomenclature was strong and the stem free of any visible dents (sometimes they hide under the oxidation).  The 3 piece “C” stem logo was intact, but cracked a bit, which is not unusual.    When it arrived, there were no surprises.  The stem fitment was very good as well.  I was hopeful the bowl rim would be undamaged under the cake, which is also often the case.

Comoys_440_Tradition_Before Comoys_440_Tradition_Before (2) Comoys_440_Tradition_Before (4) Comoys_440_Tradition_Before (3) Comoys_440_Tradition_Before (1)

I put a dab of grease on the stem and soaked in a mild Oxy-Clean solution.

Using my smallest Castleford reamer bit, I started removing the cake.  The bowl was in very good condition.  Using spit and a rag, I slowly removed the cake from the bowl top.  Once most of the build-up was removed, I used a worn piece of 8000 grit paper to lessen the rim darkening.  That worked very well on this pipe.   The bowl was then soaked with alcohol and Sea salt.

I started on the stem with 800 grit wet paper, progressing thru 1000, 1500 and 2000 grades.   8000 and 12000 grade micromesh sheets were used next.  I followed this with a light buff with White Diamond and then the super-fine Red Jewelers rouge.  Some stems really respond to the Red rouge, but care is needed not to get it on the white stem logo.  The stem was now in near mint condition.

I buffed the bowl lightly with White Diamond and then with several coats of Carnuba Wax.

I’m very pleased to add this one to my small collection of Comoy’s pipes.   The last two shots show the comparison to the 440’s big brother, a 498 Extraordinaire.

Comoys_Tradition_Finished Comoys_Tradition_Finished (14) Comoys_Tradition_Finished (4) Comoys_Tradition_Finished (5) Comoys_Tradition_Finished (1) Comoys_Tradition_Finished (15) Comoys_Tradition_Finished (12) Comoys_Tradition_Finished (2) Comoys_Tradition_Finished (6) Comoys_Tradition_Finished (7) Comoys_Tradition_Finished (9) Comoys_Tradition_Finished (10) Comoys_Tradition_Finished (11) Comoys_Tradition_Finished (8) Comoys_Tradition_Finished (13)




A Sweet KBB Yello-Bole Honey Cured Bulldog – Robert M. Boughton

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

You can’t stop us on the road to freedom
You can’t stop us ’cause our eyes can see
Men with insight, men in granite
Knights in armor intent on chivalry
She’s as sweet as Tupelo honey
She’s an angel of the first degree
She’s as sweet as Tupelo honey

Just like honey, baby, from the bee — Van Morrison, Northern Irish singer-songwriter-musician, “Tupelo Honey” (1971)

As my good friend and mentor, Chuck Richards, commented at a recent gathering of local enjoyers of the fair tobacco pipe in general, Kaufman Brothers & Bondy created the Yello-Bole line in 1932 as a less expensive alternative to its regular stable of Kaywoodie, Reiss-Premier and of course KB&B pipes.

Now the name Yello-Bole is synonymous with the terms second-rate and, worse still, just cheap, as though the measure of a good smoke were ever determined by its price. [See, for example, Peterson’s late great and noble attempt in years gone by to make pipes affordable to the Everyman.]

But its older products, such as the KBB Yello-Bole Imperial Bulldog of this discourse, “Cured with Real Honey” and with the KBB in a clover, as well as a tell-tale encircled “I” on the stem (might it be ambera?) – although crafted with briar deemed unsuitable for the older brothers of the family – nevertheless was still made from higher quality pieces of that fine wood than is, in general if ever, available today.

Also, the KBB Yello-Bole Imperial Bulldog is a definite vintage specimen (another present day determinant of value), based on the four key signs contained on the pipe, which date it to anywhere from the 1930s to the 1950s.Rob1








Rob9 Beginning with the rim, I removed most of the blackening with a quick rub of purified water, and the rest except for one small, pernicious burn with a light touch of super fine steel wool that left no new scratches but also made clear the blemishes that were already present. Rob10 I sanded the rim with 400-grit paper and micro-meshed with 1500, 2400 and 3600 grades. I later succeeded in removing the one remaining burn mark shown below.Rob11 Moving on to the chamber, I was startled when most of the cake crumbled from the walls with a couple of turns of the reamer. Still more shocking was the sudden appearance of a thin coat of the original yellow product of honey curing. I knew I had a rare find and wondered at the short-term but intense enjoyment of the pipe that could have led to more than average cake but left the prominent yellowing intact. The rest of the cake came clean with gentle 400-grit sanding.

Staying with the 400-grit paper to remove scratches and dings on the beautiful briar, I lightened the color still more and found a few fills and other grain flaws that accounted for why this finely shaped bulldog didn’t end up with, say, a Kaywoodie stamp.Rob12



Rob15 Using micromesh at an escalation from 1500 to 2400 and 3600 grades eliminated the remaining scratches.

The cleaning of this pipe was achieved with refreshing ease and the expenditure of few bristly cleaners soaked in Everclear.

In a difficult choice, I decided to re-stain the briar with a medium as opposed to the original light brown color. I applied Lincoln boot stain and flamed the alcohol out before removing the char with 2400 micromesh and smoothing it out using 3600.

To polish the prepped pipe, I used red and white Tripoli, White Diamond and carnauba, and after rubbing the wood with a cotton rag saw it needed another round on all of the buffers except the red Tripoli.

I finished the stem with red and white Tripoli before White Diamond.Rob16




This was a very pleasant and relaxing restoration, in particular following my Ben Wade and the Chamber of Horrors brush with terror.

Tonight and tomorrow (Wednesday and Thursday), before the monthly official meeting of my pipe club at the local Moose Lodge, I will attempt to power through as many of the easier prospects as possible from my recent online purchase spree. The highlights include what I believe is a Comoy’s Smooth Bent Satin Matt Short Brandy #1770 (Made in London in a circle); a Kaywoodie Silhouette Bent Rusticated Squat Apple; a Kaywoodie Smooth Bent Signet Billiard; an Ehrlich Rusticated Straight Billiard; a LHS Park Lane Smooth Straight Poker; a Reinhard’s Smooth Straight Billiard; an Amadeus Greek Bent Billiard; a Parker Tall Tan Straight Poker; a unique small Town and Country Round-Bottom Straight Squat Rhodesian; a no-name Gourd Calabash Meerschaum Lined; a trio of old Missouri Meerschaum corncobs…and another KBB Yello-Bole, this one a Straight Four-Panel, also with the KBB in a clover but a yellow circle on the stem.

The first person to post a response challenging my ability to pull off the restorations/refurbishes of the above pipes before tomorrow night, and willing to bet a free pipe from the loser to the winner, is on for the bet. I will post before and after shots in a blog on my business Website, noted at the top of this submission, by 9:00 p.m. MDT (U.S.) tomorrow.

Our host, I trust, will vouch for my honesty in this type of wager.

An Old Meerschaum Bowl Restemmed and Reborn

Blog by Greg Wolford

Over the past couple of months I’ve been moving my workshop upstairs to an empty bedroom. With winter’s quick approach, I wanted to be ready for the bone-stiffening cold so I could do more restorations this year. All but the buffer had been moved into its new home and was close to being tidily organized when my plan went south; our son was moving back home and would need my new space back for his room!

It was a rather quick transition so all of my supplies were hastily packed up and moved back to the basement garage. In my rush, I didn’t think to make notes on boxes or anything else to help me sort through it later, I only packed quickly and securely and moved it all out. I felt like I got evicted! (Please note, that is not what happened to my son.) So finding any of the half-dozen projects I had in the works is now a daunting challenge; our garage serves as a catch-all of sorts, with our laundry area, my workshop, my wife’s “over flow” from her antique booth, and all of my son’s extras now piled in there.

The other day I did manage to find an old meerschaum bowl that I’d began to work on. It came to me in a lot I had gotten a couple of months ago I think, along with another bowl and aOld Meer couple of pipes (this is the only before photo I have).  In fact, this bowl was the main reason I got the lot; it looked old and interesting to me.

After doing a little research and getting some comments from friends on Instagram and Facebook I think it may be an Austrian meerschaum; I originally thought it was African. If I am correct, this pipe, well, bowl, is probably over 100 years old. It originally had a wooden shank extension which is now long gone. At first I thought of trying to make some sort of extension to replace it but soon decided that was more than I was willing to risk/attempt on this bowl.

(I forgot to take photos along the way; sorry folks.)

There was a think but soft and crumbly cake in the bowl and lots of oily build up in the shank. I gently reamed the cake back to very close to the meerschaum walls with my Castleford reamer, followed by an old round-ended, dull knife that I use for this purpose. Then I used some 400 grit wet/dry paper to get the last of the cake out and leave a nice, smooth bowl.

For the shank I stared with the poker-end of a Czech-tool, opening up the airway very gently. Then I moved to pipe cleaners that were dampened with isopropyl alcohol. Then I used alcohol dampened and dry cotton swabs to clean the shank. Do note the term dampened here; you do not want to get the meerschaum too wet. It took some time and many cleaners and cotton swabs to get the shank clean; there were also bits of meerschaum that were loose or came loose in the cleaning process that had to be removed. I also wiped out the bowl with several dampened cotton swabs after cleaning the shank. I also wiped off the outside of the bowl with alcohol dampened cotton balls; other than the rim, the exterior was quite clean. Then I let the pipe rest, to dry, overnight.

The next morning I examined the shank and found it to be a little rough inside. There was also a small divot in the bottom of the “lip” where the extension was and the new tenon would enter. I took the same dull reaming knife and scraped the mortise very gently to smooth it out; this took only a couple of passes and removed very little material but made a bug difference. I put a drop of amber superglue in the divot and sprayed it lightly with glue accelerator (I used a cloth to cover the pipe from over-spray) and then let it cure for a little while as I piddled with other things in the garage. I repeated this a second time and the result was a nice hard, smooth mortise entrance. Now it was time to decide on a stem.

Since the extension was gone, the mortise was very large, which would limit my stem options. I looked through my stems and found two candidates that had tenons large enough to work: a fancy vulcanite one and a long, round tapered acrylic one. It was a pretty easy choice when I put them up to the pipe to compare: acrylic wins by a long shot! The amber/bronze color of the stem just looked “right” with this bowl to my eye so now it was time to fit it.

I used my PME tenon turning tool to slowly reduce the size of the tenon.I noticed as I was cleaning the shank that the mortise narrowed a bit, probably from material loss both previously and current, closer to the bowl. So, as I test fit the tenon and found it stopping at the point of the narrowing I began to turn the tenon only about halfway up the total length. By doing this in small increments I was able to tell when the tenon was almost a perfect fit, which is when I switched to 320 grit paper and sanded the tapered tenon smooth and to a very nice fit.

The new stem was in nice condition, without a lot of drawer-dings, so it didn’t require much polishing: a little sanding with 220 and 400 grits, some plastic polish and a buff (lightly) with Tripoli and white diamond. I then used a heat gun to soften the stem and put the bend in it that I wanted and was pleased with. One more round of plastic polish and then everything got a coat of Halcyon II wax.Old Meer (1) Old Meer (2)Old Meer (3) Old Meer (4)

I’d love to tell you how wonderful the old ‘meer smokes but I can’t. You see, my son, the source of my “eviction”, saw the bowl on my work table and fell in love with it, before it was even cleaned up. So, after I got it all finished I took it straight to him to “see what he thought”; he really went nuts over it all reborn! As you have probably guessed by now, the old ‘meer now has a new home in his pipe rack, his first meerschaum pipe, which I hope and expect will serve him well with many good smokes for many years to come.

City de Luxe (GBD) 357 Prince Restoration

Blog by Al Jones

I found this nifty City de Luxe Shape 357 in a box of estate pipes at my local shop, JB Hayes in Winchester VA.  City de Luxe pipes are made by GBD and the 357 “Prince” shape is a classic.  I find the brass star logo to be as attractive as the GBD rondell (and easier to work around!).  At first glance, I thought it would be an easy restoration.  But, after getting it home, there appeared to be a scorch mark on one side of the bowl.  Like many City de Luxe pipes, this one had a twin bore stem and was stamped “Tuskan Lip” with a Patent number.

City_DeLuxe_357_Before City_DeLuxe_357_Before (2) City_DeLuxe_357_Before (1) City_DeLuxe_357_Before (3)

I tackled the scorch mark on the bowl first.  A worn 6″ x 3″ sheet of 8000 grit Micromesh removed the mark without altering the profile of the bowl or bowl top.

City_DeLuxe_357_Before (5)

The stain was lightened in that area so I decided to restain it a darker brown, using Fieblings Medium Brown at full strength.  After the stain was applied and set with a flame, I set it aside to dry completely.  I then buffed the stain down to a lighter color with some White Diamond, while being careful to stay away from the excellent nomenclature.

City_DeLuxe_357_Before (6)

The stem only had minor teeth marks and was an easy restore.  I had to avoid the stamping on the underside of the stem. I started with 800 grit wet paper, moving thru 1000, 1500 and 2000 grades.  8000 and 12000 grade micromesh sheets were next, followed by a light buff with White Diamond rouge.

Here’s the finished pipe.  It was sold to a pipe forum member who owned another City de Luxe “twin bore” stemmed pipe.

City_DeLuxe_357_Finished City_DeLuxe_357_Finished (2) City_DeLuxe_357_Finished (4) City_DeLuxe_357_Finished (6) City_DeLuxe_357_Finished (3) City_DeLuxe_357_Finished (1) City_DeLuxe_357_Finished (5) City_DeLuxe_357_Finished (10) City_DeLuxe_357_Finished (11)