Daily Archives: June 18, 2015

NEPAL PROJECT PIPE SALE 9 – A Simple Restoration on a Wally Frank Rusticated Canadian

Blog by Steve Laug

This is the ninth pipe from the box of pipes that I was gifted by a good friend of mine with the instructed purpose of cleaning them up and selling them with all of the proceeds going to the aid of earthquake victims in Nepal. Once again all funds raised will all go to the SA Foundation, and organization that has worked in Nepal for over 15 years helping provide recovery, housing and job training for women who are victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking. The ongoing earthquakes (over 300) that continue to shake Nepal have left much in ruins. The SA Foundation Project there was able to find new housing for the women and help with staff as well. Every dollar raised from the sale of these pipes will go to the work in Nepal.

This one is a Wally Frank Rusticated Canadian. It is stamped very clearly on the left side of the shank, Wally Frank Ltd. There are no other stampings on the pipe. It was in decent shape though dirty. The finish was in very good shape under the grime and the rustication is interesting and will look great after a cleanup. The bowl needed a light reaming and the shank and airway were dirty. The rim was dirty but still very sharp and crisp. The stem was oxidized and was rough to the touch. Everything else about the pipe looked really good.Wally1





Wally6 The externals of the pipe were sharp but dusty and had a build-up of grime in the grooves of the rustication. When I pulled the stem I was a bit surprised to see the stinger apparatus that was pressure fit in the tenon. It was thick with tars and oils.Wally7 I twisted the stinger out of the tenon with a pair of pliers with the jaws wrapped in tape to protect the metal when I clamped down on it to remove it from the stem. I cleaned it with alcohol and 0000 steel wool to remove the tars.Wally8 I was surprised how clean the shank was when I used pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to scrub it. The stem was the dirtiest part after the stinger was removed. I ran pipe cleaners through the airway and removed all the oils and tars that had accumulated behind the stinger.Wally9 I scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the dust from the grooves in the rusticated finish. Once it was scrubbed I put a thumb over the bowl and rinsed it off with cool water and then dried it off with a towel.Wally10



Wally13 The next four photos show the pipe after the scrubbing and drying. The finish is in great shape and will only need to be waxed and buffed.Wally14



Wally17 I put a plastic washer on the tenon between the shank and the stem so that I could sand it without damaging the shoulders of the shank or stem. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the small tooth marks on the top of the stem next to the button and also to remove the oxidation. I then sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to minimize the scratches left behind by the sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and then rubbing it down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and repeated the rub down with oil. I finished with 6000-12,000 grit pads and gave the stem a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I set it aside to dry.Wally18


Wally20 I buffed the stem and pipe with Blue Diamond Plastic Polish and then with a light buff of carnauba wax to protect it. I finished by buffing it with a clean flannel buff. I hand buffed the bowl with a shoe brush to make sure there was no residual wax in the rustication grooves. The finished pipe is shown below. It is ready for its new home.Wally21





Wally26 This Wally Frank Canadian is a very light weight pipe and the rustication and stain – a combination of browns and black gives it a distinctive look. It should make someone a great addition. If you are interested in this pipe email me with an offer at slaug@uniserve.com and we can discuss it. The entirety of the sale price will go to the Nepal project. I will pay the postage so that does not get taken off the proceeds. If you are interested in reading about the SA Foundation you can look at their website at http://www.safoundation.com.

Thanks for looking.

Repairing a hole in a stem on a Mario Grande Olivewood Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

When this Mario Grande Olivewood Billiard came to my worktable it had a large hole in the topside of the stem. There was also a large chunk missing from the bottom side of the button. The rest of the stem was in pretty decent shape and the combination of olivewood and acrylic looked quite nice. This repair would take a while as I would need to layer the patch materials and build up the hole until it was a solid flat patch on the stem. Blending it in with the black of the acrylic would also be a challenge as no two blacks are identical but this would be an interesting repair. The rebuilding of the button would also require careful application of the patch and a reshaping of the slot once it cured.

I greased two pipe cleaners with Vaseline petroleum jelly so that when I put the patch in place it would not stick to the pipe cleaners. I wiped down the surface of the stem with alcohol on a cotton pad to clean it before I put the pipe cleaners in place. I inserted one from the tenon end and one from the button end as the hole was larger in width than one pipe cleaner. I wiped away the excess Vaseline that squeezed out of the hole with a damp alcohol pad to make sure the surface was clean and the patch would stick.hole1

hole2 I mixed one capsule of finely ground charcoal powder (I get this at a pharmacy where it is sold as a digestive) with some black super glue (cyanoacrylate glue). I mixed them together until I had some thick paste that could be applied to the hole. I have found that the combination of the two hardens and makes a secure patch.Hole3 I applied it to the hole in the stem with a dental pick making sure that I pushed the glue into the hole and against the pipe cleaners. I did not want it to be just a surface repair but one that bonded to the edges of the hole.Hole4 I did not use the accelerant on this repair as I find that when I spray it on the glue it leaves air bubbles and I have to sand and repeat the repair. When it was dry at the surface, I removed the pipe cleaner carefully from the airway and then turned the stem on end and rebuilt the area where the button was damaged and missing a piece of acrylic. I applied the glue mix with the dental pick and pressed it into place in the missing area. I also build up the edge of the button where it was missing. This was a bit tricky in that I did not want to close the airway.Hole5

hole6 I set the stem aside to cure for two days before I began the sanding of the patch and the shaping of the button. When I picked up the stem to begin sanding I took the following photos of the hardened glue.hole7



Hole10 I started sanding with 220 grit sandpaper but quickly moved on to using a flat file to remove the excess and flatten the repaired area and the button.hole11



hole14 Once I had filed the excess flat I went back to sanding with 220 grit sandpaper. I sanded the stem flat and then used medium and fine grit sanding sponges to clean up the scratches. There were still small air holes in the patch that needed to be addressed.hole15 I applied some more black super glue not mixed with charcoal to fill in the air holes in the patch.hole16 Once the patch dried I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper, a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge and then moved on to sanding with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I paused between sanding and wiped off the dust to check the small air holes.hole17


hole19 Once I finished with the micromesh pads I buffed the stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish and give it a shine. I gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax and then buffed it with a clean flannel buff to raise the shine to another level. The finished pipe and stem are shown in the photos below.hole20



hole23 I took two close-up photos to show the stem repair to the top of the stem and also to the button. The pipe is ready for its owner to pick it up and put it back in rotation.hole25


A Possible Peterson Croydon That Could Be the Twin of another Reborn Pipe; or, Two Minds with Almost a Single Thought

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

“There comes a time in every rightly-constructed boy’s life when he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure.”
― Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain, 1835-1910), U.S. author and humorist, in “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” [1876]

I often wonder what my life would be like today had my mother married the man she loved – a well-known Apollo Program astronaut who later even tried to convince her to leave my dad. But she chose the space research and development nerd in the Brooks Brothers suits instead of the man in the dark blue uniform – which he sometimes traded for a big, bulky, white one with a sealed helmet to protect him from the void of space – who had the Right Stuff.Rob1 By the time he called again, I was about 10, living in the well-to-do Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights, and Tricky Dick had somehow just been re-elected President. Even I knew what a mistake that was. I got out of bed late one night during one of my parents’ Gatsby-like parties to answer the phone upstairs in the hallway. A hushed voice, halting in surprise, asked, “Is Kit – your mother – there?”

I told him she was at the party downstairs and said I could go and get her, but he quickly said no, asking me to have her call him and giving me his nickname. He must have thought I wouldn’t know who he was, but meeting him when I was just a toddler was something I never forgot. “Yes, sir, I’ll tell her, Colonel So-and-So [not his real name],” I replied, and can still hear him almost choke up over the long-distance phone line 43 years ago. Speechless for a moment, he at last suggested I just tell my mother in the morning, and I said, like a good little soldier on a mission, “Okay, sir. I understand.” And somehow I did.

Some events seem probable had my mother not married the man in the Brooks Brothers suits: I likely would have followed the astronaut to the Air Force Academy, and he would have been proud of me until he died some years back, unless I beat him to it in the service of my country. But the rest is blurry, except that I am still fatherless although my dad is alive and well.

Oh, and one more thing. I would not be here in beautiful Albuquerque, searching for treasures in pipe lots and one at a time and all the other right places.

Looking online last week for background information on Croydon, I found links to various sites showing versions said to be made in London and Surrey, England as well as Spain, but without photos showing the nomenclature. Then I found a site for a definite Croydon brand from a Dutch carver named Lex Brouwer. There were also several sites for other brands, including Hilson and Peterson’s, with Croydon lines. I felt safe ruling out Hilson, which is known for its meerschaum lined chambers and mostly glazed clay bowls and shanks. Imagine my surprise to find an old Reborn Pipes blog by our host himself, from three years ago (June 20, 2012), about a ruined Croydon he believed was an old Peterson and of course re-made it to look perhaps better than new! Here are, top to bottom, his Croydon before restore and mine:Rob2

Rob3 Clearly, the similarity of the two pipes, other than the identical stampings of CROYDON over BENT, is not in these two before shots. What is amazing is how alike our vision of the finished pipe should be. (No fair skipping ahead to see what I mean! Bad habit!) Maybe even scarier is the fact that Steve’s modifications were made by necessity, about which you can read at https://rebornpipes.com/2012/06/20/old-croydon-reborn-3/, while mine were just for the sake of personal preference and nothing else. I might just as well have reamed and sanded the chamber, scrubbed and retorted the insides, lightly micro-meshed the bit below the lip and given the whole thing a nice new buffing.Rob4





Rob9 But I’m just sick and tired of all the rusticated pipes that are finished with black stain! Enough is enough, I say! At least for this restoration, which I can only call that because of the initial stripping of the insidious stain, starting with 300-grit sandpaper followed by 400 and micromesh every grade from 1500-4000.Rob10





Rob15 I wanted to remove as much of the black from the crooks and crevices of the rustication as possible. Yes, my goal was to eradicate it if possible, which proved impossible with my knowledge – short of soaking only the wood in Everclear, which was problematic what with having to plug both ends of the draught hole and keeping the metal tilted up and out of the 95% alcohol. I suspect the alcohol would have eaten its way past any stoppers I might have devised anyway, and besides, I have had enough experience stripping pipes this way to have learned that less, in most cases, is better. Of course, in the case of Steve’s Croydon, he had absolutely no choice but to do a total makeover, even to the point of considering the idea of re-Christening the completed work a “Croydon-Reborn.” Reading his blog, I was touched by the apparently sincere struggle he had with the entire process he has many times since performed with ever-increasing brilliance.

At any rate, I chose the kinder, gentler approach of going over the wood again, but with super fine 0000 steel wool and focusing my tiring hand-work on the celestial but microcosmic canals and pocks. Then I did the full range of micromesh again from 1500-4000.Rob16






Rob22 As is apparent, my efforts to remove even a little more of the blackness were fruitless. I should have known better than to try, but still not refrained from using the steel wool and another thorough micromesh progression for its fine effect on smoothing the wood and making it glow.

It was time, if not overdue, for retorting, which took a surprisingly low number of Pyrex test tubes of boiled Everclear shot through the stem and shank into the chamber filled with cotton that came out with any brown, and another to boil up and drain out several more times to confirm the job was done right.

Now, for the point of all this technically unnecessary work obliterating the certainly OK original black stain. What I was looking for was something closer to the briar’s true color but dark enough to cover the grain and fill in the grooves. I decided on Lincoln Marine Cordovan (Burgundy red) boot stain, knowing that except with the lightest shades of briar, it leaves only a subtle redness. Here it is, first stained and flamed, then gently buffed with 3200 micromesh and then after being hand-coated with Halcyon II to sit a while before buffing on the clean wheel.Rob23


Rob25 Everything so far had worked out just right to do the minor clean up needed on the upper top and bottom of the bit, and including the lip, while the wax on the briar dried a little and worked into the wood. I micro-meshed the bit with 1500, 2400, 3200 and 3600 before buffing with red and white diamond, using the clean wheel and a soft cotton rag after both. Below are two shots before and one after, as both sides ended up the same.Rob26


Rob28 The last part of the job was to put the briar to the clean buffer with a light touch, re-join the two separated parts of the pipe and again wipe the whole thing with a cotton cloth.Rob29






Rob35 I caught the slight smudge on the top of the stem in the photos above after taking them and fixed the problem. Now for the final, left view photos of Steve’s finished Croydon and mine side-by-side.Rob36 CONCLUSION
This was, of course, no competition, if only because of the fact that Steve’s was done three years ago, a few months before we ever “met” online. But had they both taken place at the same time, his would, hands-down, be the winner. Being able to take a pipe in the abominable condition in which Steve found his and clean it, rusticate the bowl and shank himself and replace not only the stem but, it appears, the band using the exact types with which an original is created astounds me…and inspires me.

If I still drank, Steve, I’d have two, one for me and one for you. But I wouldn’t stop there, so I guess I’ll have to settle for a Monster!