Blog by Steve Laug
The Peterson I picked up on my trip was in great shape externally. The seller at the antique mall had cleaned up the outside of the pipe and polished the stem and bowl. The pipe was clean and shiny. The stamping was very clear on the ferrule and shank. The ferrule was stamped K&P Peterson’s and had three faux hallmarks as usual on the nickel ferrule of Peterson pipes. The shank was stamped on the left side with an arched Peterson’s over System and over Standard. On the right side of the shank the shape number has been stamped over with Made in the Republic of Ireland. The shape number is present under the over stamp and I can read the first two numbers clearly – 31_, but the third number is covered with other letters so it is not readable. I wanted to figure out the number stamping that lay hidden under the Made in the Republic of Ireland stamping. I went to the Peterson site and looked for the shape charts. I was able to identify the shape as a 312. Here is the link to the shape http://www.peterson.ie/p/5291/312-standard as well as a picture of the shape 312. I also found this shape chart of Peterson System pipes on Pinterest and included the link to it here: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/464996730250913354/ I was particularly interested in noting the size variation between the 312 and the 314. While the shapes are very similar the 314 is significantly smaller than the 312. The bowl had been wiped clean and had no cake inside. The rim was dirty and darkened with a thin buildup of carbon and oils. The inside rim was clean and the bowl was in round. There were no serious nicks in the bowl edges. The nickel band was polished and undented. The stem was lightly oxidized and had a light tint of brown. There were no tooth marks or bite marks on the stem. The pipe was in good shape and would be one of my easier clean ups. The inside of the shank and sump had a lot of tars built up inside. The airway was also dirty. The seller had used silver polish on the ferrule and there was a white buildup on the inside edges of the shank. The next photo below shows the underside of the bowl and stem. Both the finish and the stem were in great shape with no visible dents or damage. The tenon was wide open like it had been made for a filter. It could hold a paper Medico style filter. I have never seen a filter version of the system pipe. I am wondering if the stem is a replacement or possibly it was drilled out to open it up to receive the paper filter. Obviously the internals had not been cleaned. There was a buildup of hard carbon on the tenon end and on the inside of the tenon. It was hard and would not easily be removed. I cleaned up the stem and the sump with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol until they came out clean. I used a lot of pipe cleaners and cotton swabs before it was clean. I softened the carbon buildup on the tenon with alcohol and then sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper and scraped it away with a small blade to remove the hardened carbon. The bowl and shank had a heavy aromatic tobacco smell so I stuffed them both with cotton balls and used an ear syringe to put alcohol in both the bowl and shank. I set the bowl upright in an ice-cube tray and let it sit while the alcohol and cotton wicked out the oils and tars and sweetened the pipe. By doing this the pipe would be reset and could be smoked with any tobacco without picking up residual tastes. While the bowl sat soaking I worked on the stem to remove the oxidation. I sanded it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil between each set of three pads. I buffed it with White Diamond on the buffing wheel. Then I gave it several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it to a shine with a soft flannel buffing pad. After the bowl had been sitting for 4 hours I took the photo below and then pulled out the cotton balls. The alcohol had evaporated and left behind a brown/amber residue on the cotton balls. Once the cotton was out I ran a folded pipe cleaner through the bowl and the sump area of the shank. It came out clean. I ran a straight cleaner through the airway into the bowl. It also picked up a slight bit of residue from the soak but it was clean after a few swabs. Best of all the smell of the aromatic tobacco was gone and what was left was a clean new pipe smell. When the shank was dry I put the newly polished stem back in the shank. I gave the pipe a quick buff with some carnauba and polished it with a shoe brush to raise the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It has some slight rim darkening from the previous owner but otherwise it is like new. The bowl and shank are fresh and ready to be loaded with a bowl of fine Virginias or some Virginia/Perique. I have some aged 5100 sitting in a jar here ready to smoke and also a small jar of some blending Perique so I may have to mix a small batch just for the inaugural smoke on this pipe…The briar is beautiful and the refurbished pipe came out very nice. I am looking forward to having a bowl very soon – just have to let the bowl dry out and air for a couple of days before I load it up and smoke it. In the meantime I will just look it over and enjoy the beauty of the pipe.