Daily Archives: November 3, 2014

Helping fulfill the “Gandalfian” Dreams of a Hungarian Friend

Blog by Steve Laug

Last month Laci, a friend from Hungary, came to our offices for training and work related ventures. We spent quite a bit of time together in training sessions over the course of his stay in Vancouver. Each day I picked him up at the bed and breakfast where he was staying and drop him off again in the evening. We talked, walked and ate together. The first day he was here he was sitting in my office next to my desk and we were planning our week. At this point in the visit I was utterly unaware that he was a pipe smoker. He noticed the pipe on my desk and asked about it. I told him about my love of restoring old pipes and all things pipes and tobacco. We started talking about pipes and tobacco and he shared what he liked to smoke and what pipes he had in his collection. He was by and large an aromatic smoker as he liked the sweet tastes that came with the tobaccos.

That evening we went out to dinner near his bed and breakfast and continued the conversation we had begun at the office. He spoke of the friends he had in Budapest who he met with to enjoy a pipe and the conversations to be had while smoking their pipes. He talked about the pipe he had and what shapes he particularly like. The conversation was no different from a hundred other conversations that I have had with pipe smokers around the world. You can probably fill in the blanks of the conversation and pretty accurately because I am sure you have had the same conversations yourself. Eventually the conversation came around to the types of pipe he dreamed of one day owning. He spoke of liking apple-shaped pipes whether bent of straight. He spoke of his dream of one day acquiring a Lord of the Rings style churchwarden pipe and smoking some LOTR tobacco. He said it like this “…the ultimate dream of mine is something like what Gandalf had…” At the moment he had no plan or date in mind for acquiring the pipe but he knew he wanted to get one.

We parted company that evening and I went home and looked in my pipe cabinet. I had several churchwarden pipes in my collection and most of them I smoke regularly. But there was one that I rarely picked up. There was nothing wrong with it but I don’t often pick up a CW to smoke and the one I made with the pipe I had purchased the day my eldest daughter was born always seems to get the attention. I took it out of the cupboard and turned it over in my hands. I waxed it again with a new coat of carnauba wax and buffed it with a soft flannel buff. It is stamped either VI-RA or VERA but it is hard to be certain of the spelling. I have hunted down both names online and in my reference books and have not found any information on the brand. The stem is vulcanite and the bowl is a sturdy briar with a rusticated finish. The base of the bowl was flattened so that the pipe can be set down on the desk or table and it remains upright. The stain is a medium brown with some black undertones. It was clean and had only been smoked once or twice since I bought it.

The pipe was my first churchwarden. I had been looking for one for quite a while and I purchased the pipe at an antique mall in Langley, British Columbia many years ago for a pretty decent price. The stem was badly oxidized and the bowl was dirty and worn. The finish was gone and the stain was spotty. I cleaned and restained the bowl with the brown stain. I polished and waxed the stem. The shank had a small crack in it on the right side so I pressure fit it with a nickel band. The band really sets off the pipe nicely and gives it a touch of class.VarioWarden Several days later Laci came to our home for dinner with the family and I presented him with his wished for churchwarden. I wish I had taken a picture of the look on his face when he took it in his hands and turned it over to take in all he could. He was excited with his new pipe. I included some tobacco with the pipe to further meet his wish – a Tolkien LOTR blend from Burlington on Whyte Tobacconist of Edmonton, Alberta called Longbottom Leaf. It is a gentle aromatic with a delightful smell in the bag and a great room note for those who are in the room when it is smoked.

The next morning he brought his pipe to work and we were able to take a walk along the Fraser River and smoke our pipes. He packed a bowl of the Longbottom Leaf in the CW and entered the world and realm of LOTR. We walked for about a half hour and then settled on a park bench overlooking the river to enjoy the rest of our bowls. We walked back to the office when we had finished quite satisfied with the day. I could tell that once he went home this new pipe would occupy a central place in his pipe collection. I gave him several other tobacco samples to take home with him including one made by Robert Boughton who writes on the blog. These will be shared with his Hungarian pipe smoking cadre the next time they gather.

Laci, if you happen to read this post let us know how the pipe is smoking for you. Give us a glimpse of the folks you smoke the pipe with and be sure to give them our greetings.

Restoring A Len Payne Twin Bore System Bulldog

Blog by Steve Laug

When I saw the rusticated bulldog shaped pipe in the display case at the Alberta antique mall I could not help but want to have a look at it. I asked the clerk to open the display case for me to have a closer look at it. The aluminum shank end look too substantial to be just an end cap or ferrule like Peterson’s and other older pipes have used for years. In fact it reminded me of some of the South African Keyser Hygienic pipes that I have in my collection. It had that kind of weight to the aluminum. The stem also had the same kind of look. It was a large diameter military mount stem that pushed into the shank end opening.

Once the clerk took it out of the case I looked at the underside of the diamond shank to see if it was a Keyser pipe – it wasn’t! It was stamped Len Payne. Now I was wondering. In the past I had written about pipes by Len Payne on the blog https://rebornpipes.com/2013/11/16/a-pipe-maker-i-had-never-heard-of-leonard-payne-pipes/. But I had not seen one with this kind of apparatus on the shank. I am including the quote below from Mike Glukler of Briar Blues that gives a quick summary of the brand. Not the bold italicized sentence in the paragraph below that applies to this pipe.

Leonard Payne was based in B.C. for many years. He came to Canada from England. He had shops in Surrey, B.C. and Kelowna, B.C. Interesting fellow. Gruff as the day is long. When you bought a pipe it was handed to you in a paper bag. No sock, no box. Most of his pipes carried a “carburetor” system at the shank/stem junction. Another Payne idea was his shanks. Almost all his pipes were two pieces. He’d turn the bowl and shank, then cut off the shank and reattach with glue (not always with the same piece of briar, so many did not match grains). His thinking was that the shank being the weakest link, if cut and glued would never break and thus “correcting” the weakest link. You may find his pipes on E-Bay on occasion listed as an L. Cayne. The P in his stamping looks more like a fancy upper case C…- Michael J. Glukler

I removed the stem from the shank to look inside and found the carburetor system that Mike refers to in the above quote. The inside of the shank was aluminum so the end cap fit over the outside of the shank and was inset into the interior and formed a collection chamber for moisture. It was dirty with oils and tars. In the centre of the chamber was a tube that extended half the distance up the shank to the end. In the stem was an aluminum tube that was smaller in diameter than the shank tube and when the stem was inserted the stem tube fit in the shank tube. The tube thus formed a straight line from the bottom of the bowl to the end of the stem.Payne1 The Payne inner tube system differed from the Keyser system in that the two tubes interlocked and formed a seamless tube from bowl to button. In the Keyser system the tube in the stem had a downward angle and the one in the shank was shorter. The tubes did not meet or join. Rather the air was swirled around the aluminum chamber and then drawn upward into the downward point tip of the stem tube. In the cutaway drawing below you can visualize the Payne stem with the shank tube extended further into the shank and the stem tube inserted into the shank tube when the stem was in place.keyser The stem itself in this case was a twin bore stem where the airway split into a Y and ended in the button with two holes – one on either side of the button. The theory was it made a more bite proof stem.Payne2 So while the externals and stem appeared to be the same the internals were markedly different in their execution.

The bowl itself was clean but the rim was dirty and damaged with small dents and places that could not be steamed out. The bowl would need to be lightly topped. The finish on the rusticated bowl was in great shape with little wear. The grooves had been stained with a dark brown and the high smooth parts were stained with a lighter brown stain to make a contrast. The aluminum shank cap was scratched and dull. The interior of the pipe was very dirty. The stem was high-grade vulcanite and was lightly oxidized and coated with a sticky substance like price sticker glue. There were no bite marks in the surface and under the grime it was clean. The button had the twin bore system and was also clean and undamaged.Payne3 Payne4 Payne5 Payne6I took the pipe apart so that I could clean the internals and work on the top of the rim. The beauty of this old pipe was that it did not need to be reamed as it was clean inside the bowl. The next two photos show the diameter of the military stem and the overall look of the stem.Payne7 Payne8 I set up the topping board and the 220 grit sandpaper in order to lightly top the rim of the Payne. I pressed the rim against the board and moved it in a circular motion to remove the damage to the rim and the hard buildup.Payne9 Payne10 Payne11 I cleaned out the inside of the end cap insert to remove the tars and oils with alcohol, folded pipe cleaners, and cotton swabs. I cleaned out the airway with pipe cleaners and alcohol.Payne12I used the Guardsman stain pens to stain the rim. I started with the lightest stain and moved to the darkest stain. I wanted to match the stain on the rim to the stain of the bowl. Once it was dry I buffed it with White Diamond and then lightly wiped it off with alcohol on cotton pads to lighten it slightly to get a more correct match.Payne13 The stem was in good shape and did not have any bite marks or tooth chatter. I sanded it with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads. In between each set of three pads I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil.Payne14 Payne15 Payne16 I waxed the stem with carnauba wax and buffed it with a soft flannel buffing pad to raise the shine. I sanded the aluminum end cap with the micromesh pads to polish the metal and remove the scratches. Once the aluminum shone I waxed the bowl and stem with carnauba and buffed it with a soft flannel buffing pad. The finished pipe is shown below. It is ready to load up and smoke with its inaugural bowl of tobacco. I am wondering how the tube system works in delivering a cool smoker and how the smoke compares to the Keyser Hygienic pipes. Time will tell.Payne17 Payne18 Payne19 Payne20