Monthly Archives: January 2015

Restoring a Kaywoodie Prime Grain 40 Saddle Stem Billiard??

Blog by Steve Laug

In my gift box of pipes to refurbish there was a small Kaywoodie pipe that I would have called a Lovat but as I learned in looking up the line and shape number I would find that Kaywoodie called it something different. The red arrow points to the KW shape 40. KW

It is stamped on the left side of the shank Kaywoodie over Prime Grain over Imported Briar. On the right side of the shank it is stamped with the shape number. The stem was a short saddle stem. The pipe is in decent shape – certainly restorable. The finish was gone but there was some great grain on the back, front and sides of the bowl. The rim was a mess – out of round, scratches and knocked about enough to lose its sharp profile and edges. The bowl looked as if it had been reamed with a pocket knife. There was an oddly formed cake due to the scraping with the knife. The stem was clean but the button was misshapen with a large part of the top edge missing. The inside of the shank was dirty and the threaded tenon was black with a tarry build-up.KW1



KW4 Holding the pipe in hand I would call it a Lovat. Look at the pictures above and see if you would not agree to the shape designation. The problem is I turned to the Kaywoodie shape and line chart below and found that pipe shape #40 is designated as a saddle stem billiard. The first red arrow in the first shape chart below highlights the description on the catalogue picture. The second red arrow points out the line – Prime Grain – a mid-priced pipe in the KW line. So it looks like the pipe is a saddle stem billiard – even though personally I would still call it a Lovat.KW5 The next photo is a close of the state of the rim. You can see the knife damage on the inner edge of the rim and the scratches, dents, rounding that has been done to the top and outer edge of the bowl. The rim really was the part of this pipe that was in the worst condition.KW6 The next photo shows the rounded outer edges of the rim and the state of the KW thread stinger apparatus. It is a three hole stinger even though the inlaid black cloverleaf in white seems to point to an early era KW pipe.KW7 To begin work on repairing the rim edges I needed to ream the bowl. I used a PipNet reamer to take the bowl back to bare wood. I find that doing that gives me a clean surface to work on with the inner rim edge. The second photo below shows the freshly reamed bowl.KW8

KW9 With the bowl reamed it was time to top the bowl. This would be a fairly serious topping job – not a light one. There was a lot of damage to remove and it would take a fair bit of sanding to bring the top back to flat with sharp outer edges. I used my normal topping board and 220 grit sandpaper to top the bowl. I sand it in a clockwise circular motion.KW10 I checked my progress quite often as I topped the bowl. I sanded until the damage to the top of the rim and outer edge were gone. The process also cleaned up much of the damage to the inner edge of the rim as well.KW11 I wiped the stinger and the bowl down with acetone on cotton pads to clean up the aluminum stinger and to remove the remaining finish on the bowl and shank.KW12 The stem was overclocked about a ¼ turn. I used a lighter to heat the stinger until the glue was warm in the stem and then turned it back into the mortise and realigned the stem.KW13

KW14 The bowl had some deep, sharply edged dents in the briar. I cleaned them out and then used clear super glue and briar dust collected from topping the bowl to fill the dents.KW15


KW17 I sanded the patches with 220 grit sandpaper and then with medium and fine grit sanding sponges to remove the excess and blend them into the surface of the briar.KW18


KW20 I built up the top of the button with black super glue until it was close to the original thickness. I would sand and reshape it once it had cured.KW21 I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain thinned 3 parts to 1 part alcohol. I flamed it and restained until the finish had an even coverage.KW22

KW23 I hand buffed the bowl and shank with a cotton cloth that served to give it a light polish and also smoothed out the stain on the surface of the bowl, rim and shank.KW24



KW27 The stain was still too opaque to my liking and hid the grain on the pipe so I wiped it down with isopropyl alcohol on cotton pads to remove some of it and allow the grain to show through the finish.KW28



KW31 The photo below shows the pipe when I had finished wiping it down with alcohol. The finish is exactly what I was aiming for. I wanted it to be a warm brown that hid the repairs to the dings in the finish. It worked well.KW32 I sharpened the edge of the button with a needle file and then sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and a medium and fine grit sanding sponge.KW33


KW35 I continued to sand with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads. Between each set of three pads I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and then continued with the next set. When I had finished sanding with the 12,000 grit pad I rubbed it down a final time and then buffed it with White Diamond on the buffing wheel.KW36




KW40 I buffed the bowl and stem with White Diamond, cautiously around the stamping on the shank. I gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax and lightly buffed the pipe with a soft flannel buff. The finished pipe is shown below.KW41



KW44 In the process of repairing the inner edge of the rim I used a folded piece of sandpaper to bevel the inner edge to bring it back to round and to deal with the divot out of the left side of the edge. The finished rim is shown in the close up photo below. The inner edge is better than it was when I started and looks close to round. I have included a variety of photos of the rim and the stem for your viewing. This should be a great smoking old Kaywoodie.KW45



My Process for Repairing and Polishing Horn Stems

Blog by Steve Laug

I recently worked on repairing a horn stem and thought I would document the process. I have found that when working with horn a conservative approach is the best. I do not change the profile of the stem or thin the button. I do not change the taper or thin the bit at all. I only want to bring it back to its original shine and gloss and make it look as close as possible to what it was like when the original owner purchased the pipe that carried it. I also want to make the surface smooth and unbroken again so that it does not soften with further use.

The horn stems I have worked on have all had tooth chatter and bite marks for up to an inch from the button. Unlike tooth chatter on vulcanite or Lucite the chatter on a horn tends to splinter or break through the soft surface of the material. It leaves a rough feeling behind and if not taken care of will splinter away from the marks. It will also soften as the shine and polished surface has been broken and it can become spongy. The trouble with a stem that has worn that far is it is very difficult to bring back. In the case of this stem the surface was broken and in the centre of each rough area there was a deep tooth mark – only one that was almost round in shape.Terminus12

Terminus13 My first step in the repair process and the eventual polishing is to sand the rough area smooth and clean up the area around the tooth marks. I sand with 220 grit sandpaper folded and minimally work over the area to its furthest reaches. In this case I worked the area into a rectangular shaped pattern. I feathered the rough surface into the surrounding stem. Then I wiped off the surface with tepid water on a soft cotton pad.

With the stem surface smoothed and the roughness removed and blended into the surface it was time to repair the two tooth marks – one on each side of the stem. Over the years I have used clear super glue to make these repairs in horn stems. I find that the translucency works well with the warmth of a polished stem and though the repair is visible it is smooth and seals the surface around the roughened tooth marks. The fact that it is sealed keeps the horn from further splintering and softening. The high ridge on the button allowed me to patch both sides simultaneously without the glue sticking to the worktable while it dried.Terminus14

Terminus15 When the super glue has hardened/cured I sand the patches with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the small bump that is made by the patch. I work the sandpaper to smooth out the patch with the surface of the stem. In this case I sanded both sides. In the photo below you can see the two rectangular spots on the stem surface. These are the spots where the patches were placed. The tooth marks are gone. All that remains is to do some more sanding to blend the rectangle into the stem.Terminus16

Terminus17 The next step involved sanding the stem with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge to further feather in the patch to the stem surface. I wanted the patch to be seamless with the horn so that when I ran my tongue or finger across the repair it would be unnoticeable to touch. Once I had finished with the sanding sponges the surface was smooth. The scratches left behind by the 220 grit sandpaper were gone. The rectangular patches were disappearing.Terminus18

Terminus19 The next step involved sanding the stem and polishing it with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh 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. The oil was absorbed into the surface of the horn stem and lubricated the surface and provided a bite for the sanding pads. The repairs have ceased to be rectangles and now were small patches over the tooth marks in the stem. The surface was smooth even though the damage could be seen through the clear patch at this stage in the process.Terminus25

Terminus26 Each successive grit of micromesh smooth out the surface, deepened the shine and feathered the patch into the finish.Terminus27

Terminus28 The final set of three pads really brought a deep shine to the stem. The patch though visible is smaller than any of the previous pictures.Terminus29

Terminus30 When I had finished with the 12,000 grit pad I gave the stem a light buff with White Diamond on the buffing wheel and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. Buffing a horn stem takes a light touch. You do not want to press the stem into the wheel too hard as the heat generated will cause the horn to separate. (I speak this from experience after having done it and having to start over with my sanding process.) The finished stem is shown below. It is smooth and the variations in colour of the stem make it really look living. The colours and stripes almost undulated as it is turned over under a bright light or outside in the sunshine (uncommon in Vancouver in January).Stem1



Stem4 I really enjoy working on horn stems and also smoking them. They have a feeling in the mouth that no other stem material even approximates. They are not for a clencher or a biter that is for certain. They need to be cared for – wiped down after each smoke and given new coats of wax regularly. But this one and others in my collection have survived far more years and in better shape that I have. I am always on the lookout for another horn stem to work on. If you have not restored one or smoked one – you really need to give it a try.

Restoring a Horn Stem Terminus Apple – An Early Version of a Reverse Calabash

Blog by Steve Laug

Terminusa I was gifted a beautiful rusticated Terminus apple from Anthony Cook. At least it has the potential to be a beautiful pipe to my eye. I have kept an eye out one of these old system pipes for a long time. They are like an early reverse calabash design. From my reading and observation it is both similar and different from the Keyser Hygienic pipes that I have written about before on the blog. It is similar in that it has an aluminum condensing contraption in the mortise of the shank with a centre tube that extends about ¼ inch beyond the end of the shank and rests in a larger tube in the military mount stem. This is the similarity – tubes, condensing contraption and the military mount stem. The dissimilarity is that at the end of the mortise where the flat base of the condensing unit sits there are two airway entries toward the top on either side of the centre tube. In the bowl there are also two airways at the bottom of the bowl. I found an online photo of the apparatus in the mortise and also how the stem and shank fit together. The Terminus I have is older than the one in the photo but the design is the same.Terminusb Terminus was a St. Claude, Francepipe maker. This is one of the early models, dating from the beginning of the 20thCentury.The patent was for an inner tube in the shank with two draw holes either side and a smaller inner tube in the stem, thus keeping “gunk” to a minimum.A straight apple with cow horn saddle bit.5.25 inches (13.5cms) long. Bowl height 1.75 inches (4.5cms). Looking up the name on Pipephil Logo and Stampings website I found the following information.Terminus4 On the screen capture from the site above you will note the phrase patented anti gunk system by Jean Masson. I clicked on that and was taken to the following information.Terminus4a There are several differences that I can see between this diagram (pictured below) and the pipe I have in hand. The first difference is that the back end of the condensing chamber is flat and does not have an extension or well on the bottom side of the chamber. The entire chamber extends the length of the mortise up to the two airways. The second difference is that the condensing chamber actually continues in the stem and there is a larger draw tube that the smaller tube in the mortise rests in. The third difference is that the stem is military mount and fits into the mortise around the smaller tube in the mortise. The tube seems to extend as far up the airway in the stem as I can see with a flash light.Otherwise the diagram gives an approximate idea of how the system fits together.Terminus5 Anthony sent me several pictures of the Terminus Pipe he was sending to give me a feel for what was coming. Overall it looked to be very workable. There was nothing in the pictures that gave me pause in terms of what it would take to clean it up. It appeared that the finish was basically gone – or it may have been a natural finish it was hard to tell. The horn stem looked interesting. It looked to be quite large and the taper on it was unique to the horn stems that I have worked on and kept in my collection. The tars on the rim did not seem to hide damage to the inner or outer edge of the bowl. The twin draught holes in the bottom of the bowl seemed to be hidden in the cake on the sides of the bowl. The condensation chamber in the mortise had a thick build-up of tars and oils that would be a challenge to get out.Terminus1


Terminus3 When the package arrived I quickly unwrapped it and took out the pipe. I really like the look and feel of it. It was comfortable in the hand and showed a lot of potential under the worn finish and dirt. It is stamped on a smooth rectangle on the left side of the shank with Serie No. 8349 in an arch over Terminus over Pipe. Under that it is stamped Brevete S.G.D.G. in a reverse arch. On the right side of the shank is a matching rectangle that is stamped 3036 over GP.The first four photos below show the pipe as it appeared to me fresh out of the box. The finish was slightly worn but underneath the tight rusticated pattern (almost a blast) was some beautiful ring grain that shone through the rustication. The bowl appeared to be unstained natural briar and would clean up very nicely. The stem was horn and had some tooth chatter on the top and bottom sides and also a deep tooth mark on both. The colour of the horn varied from a cream colour to a dark brown and seemed to move in waves that ran the length of the stem. When polished this stem would be beautiful.Terminus8



Terminus11 The next two photos are close-ups of the top and bottom of the stem and show the tooth chatter and the deep bit mark on both sides.Terminus12

Terminus13 I decided to address the chatter and bite marks on the stem first. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the tooth chatter and the wear around the button. I also wanted the surface of the stem smooth before I repaired the bite marks. I sanded the stem with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to smooth out the surface then wiped it down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I used a drop of clear super glue to fill the holes on the top and bottom. And set it aside for ½ hour for the glue to cure.Terminus14

Terminus15 When the glue had cured I sanded the two patches with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the stem. The two photos below show the patches after sanding and before I worked over the stem with the medium and fine grit sanding sponge.Terminus16

Terminus17 I sanded the stem with medium and fine grit sanding sponges to further blend in the repairs and smooth out the nicks in the surface of the horn.Terminus18

Terminus19 I cleaned out the shank, condensing chamber in the shank and stem and the airway in the stem and two airways in the end of the shank using alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I did not use the retort on this one as I am not clear on how the boiling alcohol would affect the horn stem. It took a lot of soaking and scrubbing before the aluminum chamber in the mortise and the chamber in the stem were clean and shiny once more I reamed the pipe back to bare wood and the used a dental pick to clean out the debris from the twin airways in the bottom of the bowl.Terminus20 I scrubbed the surface of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush and then rinsed it off with running water. I dried it off then wiped the bowl down with acetone on cotton pads to further clean the dirt and wax from the bowl surface. I scrubbed the aluminum shank band with silver polish and then lightly sanded it with the 1500 grit micromesh sanding pad.Terminus21

Terminus22 I worked on the tars and oils on the rim with saliva on a cotton pad and then used acetone on a cotton pad and was able to remove all of the build up. The grain really stood out on the rim and was a nice contrast to the rusticated pattern of the bowl.Terminus23 With the mortise and airways cleaned out I decided to use the cotton ball and alcohol treatment on the bowl to remove the heavy aromatic tobacco smell that still hung onto the pipe. I stuffed the bowl with cotton balls and used and ear syringe to fill it with isopropyl alcohol. I let it sit all day while I was at work. When I returned in the evening the oils had wicked out of the briar into the cotton. Once I removed the cotton and the bowl dried out the smell was gone and the bowl was fresh.Terminus24 I sanded the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the horn down with Obsidian Oil in between the sanding and while the oil was drying continued to sand with the pads. I find that the oil gives the micromesh the kind of bite on the horn stem that really raises the shine and removes the scratches and marks left behind from age.Terminus25





Terminus30 After polishing with the micromesh I buffed the stem with White Diamond and then gave it several coats of carnauba wax to protect it. I decided to rub down the bowl with some olive oil on a paper towel. I rubbed over the surface of the bowl so that oil went down into the grooves and soaked in. Once the oil had penetrated the briar I wiped it off with a soft cotton cloth and hand buffed it with a shoe brush.Terminus31 This morning I gently buffed the pipe and stem a final time and gave it a light coat of carnauba wax. I finished by buffing it with a soft flannel buff to give it a shine and make the horn material glow. To me there is nothing more beautiful on these old pipes that the warm luminescence of polished horn. In this case the variations in colours from cream to dark brown and everything in between gave the stem an almost three dimensional look. The oil enlivened the old briar without muting the ring grain that shone through the rustication. To me this old pipe just glows with deep inner warmth that will make it a pleasure to smoke. I am looking forward to the interesting smoke that the twin airway in the bowl and the condensing chamber in the pipe and stem will provide. The draught on the pipe is quite open so it should smoke well. My guess is that it will deliver a cool smoke. The horn stem provides a unique feel in the teeth and mouth that nothing quite rivals. The finished pipe is shown below.Terminus32



Terminus35 The final photos give a close up view of the parts of the pipe beginning with the cleaned and polished rim and walking you through the condensation chamber and a photo of how the two tubes intersect when the stem is in place.Terminus36




Making an Ehrlich Sandblasted Billiard Less Dreary

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

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore –
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door –
Only this and nothing more.”
― Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849), U.S. poet, author, editor and literary critic, in “The Raven,” 1845

My inspiration for restoring an Ehrlich Sandblasted Straight Billiard acquired online as part of one very good estate haul was much like the opening lines to Poe’s most famous poem, except that no raven appeared to quethe negativity. Instead, the insight I gained from the gentle rapping on my creative door, which is how most of my contemplative phases before any restoration pass, was to transform the original dark and dreary pipe into something lighter and bolder.Rob1 Rob2 Rob3 Rob4 Rob5 Rob6 Rob7 Rob8 Rob9 THE RESTORATION
There are times when, to make something better of a pipe – whether it appears to have passed through a wood chipper or looks okay or at least nice enough as it first appears – calls for drastic action, such as stripping the old finish. There are two ways I know to accomplish this: the more invasive and time-consuming sanding approach, which always carries the contingency of scratches, and the faster, smoother method of soaking in Everclear. On rare occasions I have needed to start with the soaking and finish with light sanding, but for the most part I now try to avoid stripping at all because of my early restorations when I was gung-ho for the total overhaul idea. I soon enough learned there was a good reason for the darker finishes that so offended me, with a few notable exceptions.

But by either route, the initial result will be a striking step backward in the pipe’s aura. In other words, the wood is going to look like it’s been scorched by the fires of Hell. Still, I knew this was an occasion that merited stripping, and the pipe in question being sandblasted was one reason I chose the kinder, gentler Everclear.

Taking advantage of the fifteen minutes needed for the Everclear to do its work on the bowl and shank, I set upon the task of working out the few kinks in the stem. Starting with purified water on a small square of cotton cloth, I gave it a bath, then used 200-grit paper only on the bite mark below the top lip, which with concerted rubbing, to my surprise, eliminated any sign that the chatter had ever been there. I was able to finish spiffing up the stem with 2400, 3200 and 3600 micromesh.Rob10

Rob11 Removing the briar from the alcohol, I wiped down the outside and scrubbed the chamber with more cotton cloth pieces and scoured the inside of the shank with a wire-handled cleaner before I set it aside to finish drying.Rob12





Rob16 Other upsides to the Everclear method were that the rim burn was gone and the chamber, which was not in the usual horrid state to begin with, needed no reaming at all and came smooth not even starting with my customary 150-grit first line of attack but an easy sanding with 320-grit paper.

I seized the opportunity to retort the pipe before moving to the buffing of the wood with a progression from superfine steel wool to 2400, 3200, 3600 and 4000 micromesh. I only snapped one photo of the results of this step. It captures the nice return of a lighter, golden, more natural shine to the briar as well as the only nomenclature on the Ehrlich, a brand that hails from Boston, Massachusetts.Rob17 Ready to turn the finished parts on the wax wheels, I used red and white Tripoli and White Diamond on the stem and added carnauba (not having any Halcyon II) to the bowl and shank. The carnauba only needed more intense rubbing with a soft cotton cloth to clear out the excess.Rob18





I’ve said it before. I’m more of a naturalist when it comes to pipe restoration, or a believer of using the truest color of the wood to its best effect, although for good cause I have strayed from the ideal. Most of the times I see an over-dark stain for no apparent good reason, I have an overwhelming urge to uncover the obscured richness of the wood beneath. I think I succeeded with this Ehrlich.

Royal Comoy 603

Blog by Al Jones

I found this Royal Comoy 603 “sitter” in the estate drawer at my local shop, JB Hayes in Winchester Virginia.  The pipe looked in pretty good shape with oxidation on the stem and some darkening around the rim.

Royal_Comoy_603_Before Royal_Comoy_603_Before (1) Royal_Comoy_603_Before (2) Royal_Comoy_603_Before (7) Royal_Comoy_603_Before (8)

I couldn’t find much about the Royal grade and this one was particularly unusual in that it was only stamped “Comoy” versus “Comoys”.  The only reference point I could find was an old Ebay ad from Tony Soderman see below and the accompanying picture.  He describes the grade as below.  I find very few use of the singular “Comoy” stamping.  This pipe doesn’t feel like a Blue Riband quality grade and my selling price definitely didn’t reflect that either.  Tony uses “Comoy” and “Comoys” in his ad titles which makes the designation a little less clear.  At any rate, it is a Comoy not often seen.

Old timers know that the ROYAL COMOY was the predecessor to the fabled “Blue Riband”!!! The name is from the “old” Comoy’s Nomenclature (like “Prima,” “Grand Slam,” “Old Bruyere,” “Lions Head” and so on). Those pre-date the more familiar modern grading (like “Selected Straight Grain,” “Blue Riband,” “Specimen Straight Grain” and so forth). While the Blue Riband was NEVER Comoy’s highest grade, the ROYAL COMOY originally appeared as the absolute top-of-the-line Comoy in the late 1930’s! (ALL pre-World War II Royal Comoy’s were top-of-the-line pipes!) The Royal was “downgraded” only though the addition of higher grades (much like Charatan did indirectly downgrading their top-of-the-line “Supreme” through the addition of higher grades)! Shortly before World War II, Comoy replaced the ROYAL COMOY with the Blue Riband (at the same time as they introduced the Specimen Straight Grain). The ROYAL COMOY reappeared after World War II and was always a HIGH GRADE Comoy – – – either at or near the TOP-OF-THE-LINE!!!


The stem had some mild teeth chatter that I knew would be an easy fix.  The famous three-piece drilled “C” stem logo was missing the black, center rod.

Royal_Comoy_603_Before (4)

I reamed the bowl and gave it a soak with alcohol and sea salt.  While the bowl was soaking, I soaked the stem in a mild mixture of Oxyclean and water.  I put a dab of grease over the stem logo to protect if from any further damage.

After soaking, I used a worn piece of 8000 grid to remove a majority of the darkening around the rim.    Later, with the bowl was polished with White Diamond rouge and a few coats of carnuba wax.

I added several layers of black superglue with a needle to fill the empty center drilling.  After it was slightly overlapping the hole, I sanded it smooth with some 2000 grit wet paper.  I was very pleased with the result.

The stem was mounted and I removed the oxidation with 800, 1500 and 2000 grit wet paper.   Next, I used the 8000 and 12000 grades of micromesh.  The stem was then buffed with White Diamond and Meguiars plastic polish.

The pipe was purchased by a gentleman in Japan, who has told me he reads this blog.  I hope he enjoys this neat little Comoy.

Royal_Comoy_603_Finished (6) Royal_Comoy_603_Finished Royal_Comoy_603_Finished (1) Royal_Comoy_603_Finished (2) Royal_Comoy_603_Finished (5) Royal_Comoy_603_Finished (3) Royal_Comoy_603_Finished (4) Royal_Comoy_603_C_logo_Detail_Finished

Peterson’s Made for Shannon Airport 606

I read this refurb by Mark with great interest as I wanted to know about this particular line of Peterson Pipes and what he would do with the damage. Thanks Mark for letting me reblog it on the rebornpipes blog.

Lone Star Briar Works Blog

Here is a Peterson’s Shannon Airport 606 with the made in Ireland circle format. The circle format means pre-republic but being made for Shannon Airport must not be from that far back but I didn’t research it any further.  
This pipe came from a Facebook  forum member who wanted it restored to a smoke able condition. He was gifted a bag of pipes and this was one of the

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Every man has a right to a Mastercraft Pipe – A Mastercraft Pipe Catalogue

I recently posted a blog about cleaning up a Mastercraft De Luxe billiard and received an email from Andrew Selking telling me that he had a Mastercraft catalogue from the 1930’s and he sent it to me as an attachment. We both thought it would be great to post it here for the ongoing information of refurbishers who like to know a bit of the history of the pipes they are working on. Here is the brochure for your enjoyment. Thanks Andrew.MC 2 (4)

MC 2 (1)

MC 3 (2)

MC 3 (3)

Breathing New Life into a Mastercraft De Luxe

Blog by Steve Laug

MC1Another one of the gift pipes that caught my eye was one stamped on the left side of the shank Mastercraft De Luxe in the shield like the one on the left. On the right side it is stamped Century Old Mediterranean Briar Israel. I have worked on quite a few Mastercraft pipes and know that the company never made pipes itself but had makers in Italy and other places make the pipes for them. I have written another blog on the lines within the Mastercraft hierarchy and know that the De Luxe was pretty high up the list of their pipes. Here is the link to the hierarchy blog

When I took the pipe to the worktable my first impressions were that it was in pretty decent shape. But as I looked more closely I could see the issues that were there. The bowl had some fills in the surface on the front, left side and the underside of the shank that had shrunk and were pitted pink putty. The right side of the bowl had a deep scratch in the briar at a diagonal to the bowl that cut through the finish. The varnish coat that was on these older MC pipes was flaking around the damaged rim and around the pitted fills. The rim had some charring and darkening that would need to be addressed. When I took out the stem a previous owner had coated the entire tenon with very soft waxy substance that had gone rancid. It was all over the mortise and inside and outside of the tenon. It was thick and not easily removed. The stem was oxidized and the stamping on the side had been put on at an angle which meant that the whitening only was on one side of the MC oval. The aluminum band on the stem that fit against the end of the shank had marks on it like it had been turned with a pair pliers. It was more of a mess than first met the eye.MC2



MC5 The next photo is a close-up of the rim to show some of the damage to the outer edge and the beveled top that would need to be addressed. This would be slightly more complicated than just topping the bowl and resurfacing things. I would have to hand sand the bevel and the edges to minimize the charring and the dents on the back outer edge. I would also need to work on the inner edge of the rim to bring it back into round condition.MC6 To facilitate the clean up on the rim I reamed the bowl back with the third cutting head of my PipNet reamer. The bowl is quite large with a diameter of 7/8 inches. I took the cake completely out of the bowl and took it back to bare wood in order to work on the inner edge of the rim.MC7 The next photo shows how the reaming with the cutting head smoothed out the surface of the inner rim considerably and made my work simpler.MC8 I decided to try to whiten the stamping on the stem (for a bit of a break from working on the bowl). I wanted to see if I could gain anything from the lighter stamping on the one side of the oval. I used a liquid white-out to fill the stamping and when it dried rubbed off the excess. It looked good initially but the stamping on the topside and the left leg and top of the M was too shallow to hold much of the whitener.MC9 I scrubbed out some of the mortise and airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners to remove the rancid smelling waxy substance (the more I worked with the more it smelled and worked like lard). It took quite a bit of scrubbing to remove the thick coat of this substance. I then used a retort on the bowl and stem and boiled it out three times before I was greeted with clean alcohol. The first boil the alcohol came out black, the second time it came out amber and finally the third time it came out clean. I scrubbed out the airway and the shank a final time with the pipe cleaners and cotton swabs and the shank and stem were finally clean.MC10






MC16 With the interior cleaned out it was time to work on the exterior of the bowl. I scrubbed the surface of the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to remove the varnish topcoat and the grime from the finish. Then I picked out the pink putty fills and replaced them with briar dust and super glue. I put a drop of glue in the pit, tamped in dust and then a bubble of glue on top of the patch. The next two photos show the patches after they had dried and before I sanded them.MC17

MC18 I sanded the patches with 220 grit sandpaper and followed that with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge to blend it into the surface and remove the scratches. Strangely the briar dust and super glue patch did not turn black this time as I was counting on. It was almost tan coloured. I would have to use a black permanent marker to etch in lines to match the grain around the repair and then sand them lightly to blend them in. I also sanded the horizontal scratch on the right side of the bowl until it was smooth. When I had finished sanding I scrubbed the bowl another time with acetone on the cotton pads.MC19



MC22 I sanded the bevel on the rim and the inner and outer edges of the rim with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper and then with the sanding sponges to minimize the damage and bring the bowl back into round. I wiped down the rim with the acetone to clean up the dust.MC23 I decided to stain the pipe with a dark brown aniline stain thinned 3:1 (3 parts stain to 1 part alcohol). I wanted the stain opaque enough to cover the fills and mask them so that they did not stand out but also did not totally hide the bird’s eye and cross cut grain on the shank and bowl. This mixture of stain worked well.MC24




MC28 After I had flamed the stain to set it I rubbed the bowl and shank down with a coarse cotton cloth to blend the finish and hand buff it. I wanted to remove some of the opaqueness on the sides of the bowl and lighten the finish slightly. Once it was done I set the bowl on a cork to dry while I worked on the stem.MC29 I lightly sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter and some of the oxidation. I used the lighter to paint the flame across the surface of the stem to burn off the oxidation and also heat the tooth marks to lift them. I was able to raise all of the tooth marks using this method. The key is to keep the flame moving across the surface and to not stop in any one place too long. Once I had flamed the stem I wiped it down and sanded it with the medium and fine grit sanding sponges. I also sanded the aluminum ring to smooth out the damage on its surface and prepare it for polishing.MC30

MC31 With the oxidation removed I sanded the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads. In between each set of three pads I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil before moving on to the next set of pads. When I finished sanding with the 12,000 grit pad I rubbed it down a final time with the oil and when it dried put the stem on the pipe and took it to the buffer.MC32


MC34 I buffed the pipe with White Diamond and gently buffed around the stamping on the shank and the stem. I gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a soft flannel buff to raise the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The last two photos below show a close-up of the rim to show how the beveling and shaping worked to restore the look of the top of the pipe. It is ready to re-enter a life of usefulness for its next companion. It should be a great smoking pipe for whoever takes on the trust next.MC35






Cleaning up a Falstaff Diamond Shank Billiard 101

Blog by Steve Laug

The second pipe I chose to work on from the gift lot of pipes I received was a long shank billiard that is stamped FALSTAFF over London England on the bottom left side panel of the diamond shank. The panel of the diamond with the stamping is smooth with the rest of the pipe being sand blasted. Next to the stem shank union there is a shape number on the same panel that reads 101. The photo below sows the stamping on the shaft. The pipe was relatively clean with no cake and the interior looked clean. The finish was natural though dirty, spotty and dry. The stem had some light oxidation and tooth chatter at the button.Falstaff1 In my search for information I posted about the pipe on Pipe Smokers Unlimited and received a response from Dave (dmcmtk). Dave is a great source for information on British pipes so I was hoping he would have something to offer regarding the brand. To my eye the pipe had a bit of a Charatan look but I could not be sure. Dave did not let me down, here is his reply:

“The Falstaff looks like a nice pipe. My first thought, seeing the square shank and COM was Charatan’s. From Pipedia’s Charatan page
London Straight Grain

The next series of four photos shows the pipe as it looked when I brought it to the worktable. I took some photos of the pipe right out of the work box. It has an interesting shape and blast to it. I like the intentional smoothing of the high ridges on the blast. I don’t think this is from wear as the pipe is virtually unsmoked.Falstaff2

Falstaff3 There is a slight rim darkening but the bowl is not caked and there was bare briar from mid bowl down to the bottom of the bowl.Falstaff4

Falstaff5 I took a close up photo to show the state of the bowl and rim. This was going to be a relatively easy clean up.Falstaff6 I scrubbed the briar down with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to get into the crevices and remove the dust and grime that was deep in them. I rinsed the bowl off with running water from the tap and dried it off with a cloth.Falstaff7 The clean bowl is shown below after the scrub and rinse. The oils and waxes are gone and the finish is clean and dry.Falstaff8



Falstaff11 I gave the pipe a light buff with White Diamond.Falstaff12



Falstaff15 I lightly rubbed the bowl and shank down with some olive oil on a soft paper towel to get deep into the grooves and bring some life back to the dry briar. Once the bowl is rubbed down I set it aside to let the oils penetrate and dry off before I rub it down with a soft flannel cloth and give it a coat of Halcyon II wax.Falstaff16



Falstaff19 I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the surface oxidation and tooth chatter around the button on the top and bottom sides.Falstaff20


Falstaff22 I followed that by sanding with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper and then a fine grit sanding sponge to remove more of the scratching.Falstaff23


Falstaff25 I sanded the stem with micromesh sanding pads next – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads. Between each set of three pads I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil before sanding with the next three grits of pad. When I had finished with the 12,000 grit pad I rubbed it down a final time with the oil and let it dry.Falstaff26


Falstaff28 Once the Obsidian Oil was dry I buffed the stem with White Diamond and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I gave the bowl several coats of Halcyon II wax and then buffed the pipe with a soft flannel buff. The finished pipe is shown below.Falstaff29



Falstaff32 The next two photos give an idea of the shape of the pipe. It is quite unique in terms of the diamond shank but the diamond shape carries through the bottom of the bowl. The first photo below shows the shape of the pipe from the front. The second shows the shape from the rear, looking down the stem and shank.Falstaff33

Falstaff34 I took the final two photos to give a close up view of the pipe and stem and show the blast finish on the pipe. It is a beautiful looking pipe and one that should serve well for many years to come. I don’t intend to leave it in its almost unsmoked condition but will break it in and enjoy the craftsmanship that made it what it is – a smoking instrument.Falstaff35


A Trio of Peterson Stems

Blog by Al Jones

These three Peterson’s belong to a fellow member of the Frederick Pipe Club (Maryland).  He asked me if I could remove the oxidation on the stems.   I tackled all three this afternoon and they are ready to deliver on the next club meeting.

First up was this Shape 999 Killarney


GS_Pete_999 (1)


GS_Pete_999 (2) GS_Pete_999

I used  my typical routine of 800 grit wet paper, followed by 1500 and 2000 grades.  Next up was 8000 and 12000 grade micromesh.  I followed this by polishing on my buffer White Diamond and then Meguiars Polish.  The brair was in good shape so I only gave it a buff with Carnuba wax.

I followed the same stem regimen for the other two pipes.

Next up this Peterson Limerick.  I forgot to take a “Before” picture until I was almost done with the 800 grade paper.  This one has the most heavy coat of oxidation.  The nickle band was polished with some Blue Magic metal polish.   I gave the briar a light buff with White Diamond and then several coats of Carnuba wax.   This one has some very nice cross grain and birds-eye.

GS_Pete_Limerick (1) GS_Pete_Limerick (2) GS_Pete_Limerick

Last up was this Meerschaum pipe with a Sterling Silver military style stem fitment.  The oxidation on this one was stubborn, particularly around the P-lip button creases.  To remove the oxidation in this area, I wrap each grade of paper around a very thin knife.

GS_Pete_Meer (1) GS_Pete_Meer (2) GS_Pete_Meer