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. I’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 .
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. 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. With the bowl and stem cleaned, buffed and sanded I was ready to stain the bowl. 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. I applied three coats of purple dye letting it dry between coats. Then I applied three thinner mixed coats of black.
With the staining done I now needed to let it dry for a bit. The next photo shows the pipe back together and rubbed with mineral oil. It is ready for buffing after it dries some. After photos:
This particular poker is also a less common shape stamped model.
It is a good pipe to smoke my favorite Old Codger Burleys OTCs in.
I have the Author shape, and now know how to stain it properly. Many thanks.
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.
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 .
You definitely want some Old Codger OTC in a Grabow Poker!
Nothing better than some good ol American burley in a Grabow
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.
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 .
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.
Glad you enjoyed it and found it beneficial