Restoring a Dr. Grabow Starfire Wirecarved 85 Poker

Blog by Troy Wilburn

This pipe is a Dr . Grabow Starfire Wirecarved shape no.85 I picked up recently from an online auction. This is my favorite Dr. Grabow shape and I own several poker model 85s. Most of them are from the RJ Reynolds coupon era. Although the Starfire wasn’t a coupon pipe the quality was just as high on them as the RJ Reynolds pipes. Iā€™m a big fan of the black wirecarved finish on the Starfires and Belvedere’s.

The pipe was in good shape although the wire carving was a little worn and the stem, an Adjustomatic, was stuck from corrosion. I did manage to get it unstuck after twisting on it several times really hard with hands and did not have to freeze it over night .

Before photos:Dr1



Dr4 After cleaning out bowl and shank I soaked bowl in alcohol and scrubbed it many times with a tooth brush trying to get as much dirt and residue as I could out of wire carving to make it crisper looking.Dr5 After a good soak in some OxyClean I managed to get stinger removed from stem and do some scrubbing on it with a scotch brite pad. I also oiled and heated the Adjustomatic and got it working correctly again.Dr6 With the bowl and stem cleaned, buffed and sanded I was ready to stain the bowl.Dr7 I decided to try a two part stain, so I mixed up some purple and black. The finish on Starfire and Belvedere wirecarved pipes is not a true black but black with purple undertones.Dr8 I applied three coats of purple dye letting it dry between coats. Then I applied three thinner mixed coats of black.Dr9

Dr10 With the staining done I now needed to let it dry for a bit.Dr11 The next photo shows the pipe back together and rubbed with mineral oil. It is ready for buffing after it dries some.Dr12 After photos:Dr13


Dr15 This particular poker is also a less common shape stamped model.Dr16




Dr20 It is a good pipe to smoke my favorite Old Codger Burleys OTCs in.Dr21

9 thoughts on “Restoring a Dr. Grabow Starfire Wirecarved 85 Poker

  1. Anthony

    Great job on that restore! Nice attention to detail on that stain, too. I have a Belvedere up on the worktable now. I wish I’d seen this before I did the staining.

    1. Troy

      From my experience the Belvedere’s have a slightly more muted purple undertone than the Starfire wire carved . So if i was doing a Belvedere i would do darker less thin black over the purple .

  2. Andrew

    Nice job on that one Troy! I especially like the two tone finish. Maybe you could explain how the adjustomatic works. I usually just take mine out and leave it that way.

    1. Troy

      Its just a way to keep from overclocking your stem like say for instance Kaywoodies are prone to do . When they work good its a nice option but when the pipe is neglected or not cleaned or years at a time and they lock up its a pain to get them unstuck.
      I like a adjustamatic ,with proper cleaning and a small amount of maintenance they a trouble free .

  3. Dave

    Thank you Troy, for sharing this refurbish, and history of this fine “Poker”. I have several pipes with this finish, but had no idea they were wire carved. I will enjoy them even more with this added knowledge.


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