Daily Archives: April 7, 2015

Restoring an old Peterson Canadian – the old pipe in the craigslist lot

Blog by Steve Laug

The fourth pipe I took on for repair from the craigslist lot was a small Peterson Canadian with a silver band and p-lip stem. It is the second pipe down on the right side of the photo below.craig5 The stamping on this old Peterson was unique enough that I wanted more information. It was different from any of the other Petersons that I have worked on. When I need specific information on a Pete I drop an email to Mark Irwin and he never fails to give the details I need. I sent him the following email:

“Mark, the Peterson that I need information on is a Canadian shape with a silver band. It has the p-lip stem in quite remarkable shape under the oxidation. The stamping on the pipe is interesting. On the top of the shank it is stamped K&P over DUBLIN and on the underside of the shank it is stamped Made in Ireland in a circle with the “in” in the centre of the circle. The silver band was black with oxidation but after a light cleaning I can see that it is stamped STERLING SILVER horizontally to the shank. Over that are the K & P in three shields. Underneath there are hallmarks stamped vertically to the shank. It looks to be the typical stamping. The first two shields are worn but seem to have the Ireland figure, the 925 silver stamp and a third that looks to be a P. Any information would help. Thanks Mark.” Pete1 Mark got back to me fairly quickly with this response:

“Peterson made a number of Canadian shapes back in the day, although the standard is now the 264. The Made in Ireland in a circle suggests tells us it what made before 1949, the lack of a hallmark (aside from the K&P in 3 shields) means it was made after 1938, as they quit hallmarking from 1938-1968. No shape number stamp would seem to confirm the 1938-1949. As they made very few pipes from 1942-1945, it probably fell on either side of 42-45. If you’ll measure the length of the pipe and bowl height and width for me, I’ll check it against the 1937 catalog, which featured full scale illustrations. The ‘37 catalog doesn’t list all the Canadian shapes, however, just the more popular ones. If you want to remove the band, you might find a number scratched in the wood—we think this has to do with the band, however, and not the shape number. GT&C were Peterson’s sole importer in Canada from about 1910-1960, and after the war, they primarily carried unbanded Petes. They also had their own shape numbers stamped by Peterson—the System pipes always carry a “1” in front of the Peterson numbers—“1307,” etc. Almost every Peterson System estate for sale from Canada on eBay will have that “1” on the Systems.”

I sent Mark some photos of the unrestored pipe so he could see the stampings and the marking on it and assess its date. He responded with the following email: “Okay, what you’ve got is a Kapet, the line between the DeLuxe and the lower K line. It’s a Kapet because of the Sterling. It’s not a DeLuxe because of the “special aluminum inner tube for easy cleaning” (1937 catalog, p. 1). The K also had the inner tube, but would not have the sterling mount. The bowl itself is the same size as the current 264, although the shank is a bit shorter than the current 264. I am surprised there is no Kapet stamp on the pipe, as the ‘37 catalog engravings plainly show line stamps. But it’s a pipe, and of course subject to the vagaries of production.”

When I saw the pipe I was not too excited about it because I had not cleaned it up at all or looked at it. It was in rough shape. The finish was worn and it had dents and dings. The rim was dirty and caked with tars and oils – the lava of use. The bowl was dirty and had a light cake and a raw briar bottom of the bowl. It had not been smoked to the bottom of the bowl. The band was dark and oxidized and unreadable. The stem was oxidized and had evidently sported a softie bit like all the other pipes in this collection. I cleaned up the band enough to send Mark the information. I was more excited by the pipe once I knew its potential age. His initial response put it before 1949 and after 1938. After seeing the photos of the pipe his dating changed to potentially 1937. Thus it was the oldest pipe in the craigslist lot. It was a decent piece of briar with mixed grain and no visible fills.Pete01

Pete02 After cleaning up the silver a bit I took the following photos. These are the ones that I sent Mark to help date the pipe and give me as much information as he could.Pete2



Pete5 I took some close up photos of the stem to show the inner tube more clearly as well as the state of the stem. As can be seen from these photos, under the oxidation the stem is in great shape with no tooth marks or chatter that needed to be address. The P-Lip was in great shape with no tooth damage to it either. The stem should clean up very well.Pete6

Pete7 I used a silver polishing cloth and silver polish to further remove the oxidation from the band. I also scrubbed it with some cigar ash and found that it worked extremely well to remove the tarnish on the sterling silver band.Pete8

Pete9 I sanded the oxidation and calcification off the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I then sanded the stem with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge.Pete10

Pete11 I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and took it back to a very thin cake. I also scrubbed the rim with isopropyl alcohol to remove the tarry buildup that had accumulated there. It took a lot of elbow grease and hard scrubbing but it all came off. There was some darkening on the inner and outer edge of the rim. I also scrubbed the bowl down with the alcohol on cotton pads to remove the grime and dirt on the finish.Pete12



Pete15 I scrubbed out the shank and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol until it was clean. The pipe even smelled fresh!Pete16 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 stem down with Obsidian Oil as usual between each set of three pads. Once it was finished I buffed the stem with Red Tripoli to get some of the stubborn oxidation off at the tenon end and the Blue Diamond. I took it back to the work table and repeated the dry sanding with 4000-12,000 grit pads.Pete17


Pete19 I buffed the finished pipe with Blue Diamond and then gave the stem and bowl several coats of carnauba wax to protect the finish and stem and give it a shine. I then buffed it with a clean soft flannel buff to raise the shine. The finished pipe is shown below. It is ready to load with a bowl of my favourite Virginia and be reintroduced to what it was made for.Pete20







ADDENDUMI find I need to correct this post. Instead of rewriting it and changing it I decided to add this to the end of the story.

After doing a bit more research and receiving another email from Mark I took the pipe out into bright light and used a jeweler’s loop to see if I could read the faint hallmarks on the band. Mark sent along an older Peterson Hallmark chart and I compared the faint stampings to the chart. I could see a cartouche with a P in it that led me to amend my original post – the pipe is not a 30s era Pete but rather a Pete from 1981. Ah well. The thrill of having an old one lasted for at least a day…Peterson Hallmark Chart

Using a Rotary Tool to Buff Stems

Blog by Andrew Selking

I have been looking for a better way to make my pipe stems look good for a very long time. I started out just using high grit sandpaper, next I got a buffing attachment for my drill, after that I moved up to an actual buffer. I added micro mesh sanding pads, white diamond rouge, and carnauba wax, but still had problems with getting a consistent shine. Of course the other problem with buffing stems, especially stems with sharp edges, is the tendency for the buffer to catch the edge and fling the stem across the room. How could I ever improve my stem work?

Fortunately one of the pipe restoration gurus who does this for a living let something slip on a discussion board. He mentioned that he uses a variable speed buffer. My first thought was, “that sounds expensive,” but after giving it some thought I realized that I had a variable speed rotary tool (that’s what you call a Dremel knock off). I paid $19.99 from Harbor Freight tools and it even came with a large selection of attachments.

Here is a recent example of a stem I did using this tool. The previous owner did take care of the pipe, it was well waxed and clean inside, but if you look closely you can see the telltale signs of oxidation.Andrew1 I gave the stem my usual soak in Oxyclean, which revealed the full scope of oxidation to be dealt with. (Sorry the pictures are a bit blurry).Andrew2

Andrew3 Some people have asked me why use Oxyclean if it makes the stem look so bad. The answer is, the oxidation is present regardless whether you choose to address it or not. If you polish over the oxidation you will eventually end up with a shiny brown stem.

To remove the oxidation I use 400 grit wet/dry sand paper with water. Since the water makes the stem artificially shine, I dry it to make sure I get all the oxidation. Another trick I learned from one of the articles on Steve’s blog was to use a washer at the end of the stem to prevent rounding the shoulders. It’s well worth the effort. Since this stem had so many flat surfaces, I use a small plastic kitchen scraper as a sanding block with the 400 grit.

After the 400 grit I use 1500, 1800, and 2400 grit micro mesh pads with water. Here is the stem after that treatment.Andrew4 While I waited for the stem to dry I retorted the pipe and cleaned the shank. I didn’t take pictures of the process since the pipe was basically new. Once the stem was dry I used a progression of micro mesh pads from 3200 to 12,000 grit to polish the stem. In my opinion polishing with the micro mesh pads is the real key to a nice looking stem. As you progress to a finer level, you’re removing the scratch pattern from the previous one.

Now comes the fun part, making it shine! This is what my set up looks like. The rotary tool, white diamond, carnauba wax, and the felt pads for polishing.Andrew5 Notice the speed adjustments.Andrew6

Andrew7 To buff the stem, I set the speed to 1 and load the felt pad with white diamond. I hold the stem in one hand and apply the pad with the other. It is important to keep the pad moving, if you leave it in one place too long it will start to dig into the vulcanite. This isn’t a fast process, but I find I can get a lot better control and consistency with the shine. Once the stem is buffed to a high luster, I switch out buffing pads, turn the speed to 2, and proceed with the carnauba wax. As you can see the stem turned out pretty well.Andrew8

Andrew9 Here are some gratuitous pictures of a dead sexy pipe. Thanks for looking.Andrew10