Blog by Steve Laug
I have been doing a bit of reading on the Dr. Grabow Collectors Forum and have been learning a lot from the folks there. On one of the threads on refurbishing Scot wrote and asked about restemming an older Weber Deep Grain Lovat. He had it sitting and did not feel confident about doing the stem work on it. I offered to restem it for him for the postage. When the pipe arrived I took it to the work table and took the following photos. The bowl had some really nice grain on it. The finish was rough with a lot of scratches, dents and nicks. Next to the band the finish was work off on the right side. There were some deep gouges and a scratch across the surface on the right side of the bowl. The rim was in rough shape. The outer edges were beat up pretty badly with gouges and chunks missing from the edge. The inner edge was clean and undamaged. The top of the rim was very rough. There were nicks and dents and it was almost crowned looking – though uneven. The bowl was badly caked forming a thick ring about mid bowl. Below that the cake was almost non-existent and above that it was flaking off in sheets. The stem was worn out with a large bite taken out of the top side near the button and the underside it was cracked. It was ruined.
When Scott first sent it I was under the impression that he merely wanted me to make a new stem for it. After I saw it I wrote him and asked if he wanted me to clean it up and restore it for him. While I waited for his response I worked on the new stem. I had a stem that was the same length and had a tenon that was not only the right length but also almost the right diameter. I sanded the tenon down lightly and fit the stem to the shank. It was perfect in diameter on the bottom side of the band but was a little large on the top and left side of the saddle.
I put a plastic washer between the shank and the stem so that I could sand it to the edge without rounding the shoulders of the stem. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to shape it and fit it to the band diameter. I also sanded off the oxidation that was on the surface of the stem and some of the wavy lines that were present on the flat surface of the blade.
Once I had removed the majority of them 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 between each set of three pads.
There were still some scratches present on the stem that would go once I had buffed it with Blue Diamond but just before I took it to the buffer I heard back from Scott. He said he would be glad to have me give the pipe a work over. Given that go ahead I set aside the stem and turned to work on the bowl. Once I had the bowl finished I would buff the entire pipe.
I reamed it with a PipNet reamer starting with the smallest cutting head and then finishing with the second smallest head. With that I took the crumbling, flaking uneven cake back to bare wood. I figured that Scott could start over and build an even hard cake of his own choosing.
I took a few photos of the bowl to record the damage and scratches to the finish. I wanted to not only get a good look at them but I also wanted to document them. The right side of the bowl had a large series of scratches and grooves from what looked like dropping the pipe on concrete. There were also scratches on the shank and outer edge of the rim. In fact the rim edge was very rough. The left side of the bowl also had some scratches that were pretty deep. The top view of the rim shows the missing chunks of briar around the edge of the bowl and the uneven crown that came from tapping the bowl out against a hard surface. The underside of the shank had a rough spot next to the band and quite a bit of scratching.
I washed down the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to remove the remnants of the finish before I worked on the scratches and dents in the bowl and shank. topped the bowl on a topping board to remove the damaged surface and outer edge of the rim. Once I had the bowl topped and the rim smooth and flat again I decided to repair the missing chunks of briar on the outer edge and the deep cuts on the right side of the bowl. I sanded the edge and scratches with a sanding sponge to clean up the jagged edges. I wiped the areas down with alcohol. I then filled the cuts and the missing chunks with superglue and packed in briar dust to fill them. I generally overfill them and then sand them back until they are smooth and blend into the surface area around them.
I sanded the fills with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper and then with sanding sponges until I had blended the area in with the surrounding surface of the bowl. I took the next two profile photos of the pipe to show the clean look of the bowl rim. Notice on the second photo the repair to the cuts on the right side of the bowl toward the lower ¼.
The next photo shows the newly topped and repaired rim from the top. I sanded the bowl surface with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge being careful around the stamping so as not to damage it. Once it was smooth and the scratches minimized I rubbed down the bowl with a light coat of olive oil. The olive oil gives some life to the grain and highlights the areas that I still needed to sand. The next four photos show the pipe after it had been rubbed down with a soft cloth after the olive oil.
I took another close up of the rim to show the repairs and how the olive oil brought out the colour of the rim so that it matched the rest of the pipe. I then took the pipe to the buffing wheel and buffed it with Blue Diamond Plastic Polish. I worked the stem over with the polish and then buffed the briar as well. Afterwards I gave the bowl and stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean, flannel pad to raise the shine of the wax. The finished pipe is shown below. Tomorrow I will get it packed up and sent back to Scott. It should serve him well for a good many years to come. Thanks for letting me work on this old pipe. It was a pleasure.