Blog by Dave Gossett
A pipe shape this elegant deserves a better name than squashed tomato. I received this pipe looking more like a bruised tomato. It was beat up and chewed up. An LHS this shape doesn’t pop up very often so I was happy to accept the pipe in any condition.
Next I began to work out the dents by heating a butter knife with a propane torch and pressing it firmly to the dented areas with a damp rag between the two. This generates steam and lifts the dents out of the briar. This may have to be done several times to the same area depending how bad the dents are.
After steaming, I sanded the scratches from the rest of the briar, smoothed out the bowl chamber, prepping it for the carbon coating, gave it a light alcohol scrub with 0000 steel wool to remove the leftover patchy original finish, and finally, masked off the shank and polished the aluminum.
Here is a picture of all the materials used for the stem rebuild.
Cyanoacrylate glue (medium viscosity), activated charcoal. I use disposable things for mixing and application process. 25% charcoal/75% glue mixed thoroughly is the recipe. I mix it in bottle caps, and use a q-tip stem with a small scoop/spoon cut into the end to apply to the repair site.
The repair site needs to be scored and cleaned before the mix is applied. Once the material has cured, the tape covered cardboard plug is easily removed. Using a needle file I reshaped the button and then wet sanded the stem.
Back to briar.
Now that it has been steamed, sanded, and had the old stain removed, I applied a custom color mix of Fiebings, consisting of dark brown, a hint of orange, and a bit of oxblood, thinned a bit with alcohol.
The final step in the restoration after waxing is the carbon bowl coating. It’s a very simple detail to make an old estate pipe look fresh again. Maple syrup and activated charcoal. After the bowl chamber is clean and smooth, lightly coat the bowl chamber with maple syrup, then fill the bowl to the top with the charcoal. Leave it for one hour or more then dump the bowl and blow through the shank to remove the excess. Next is the hard part. Don’t touch it for 5 days. It takes 3-5 days for it to harden and cure. I usually give it a week just to be sure. Once it has set up, it’s as tough as a Savinelli carbon coating and looks just as good. The pipe will have the familiar slightly bitter taste of a brand new pipe, but it doesn’t last nearly as long. After you smoke a bowl or two it goes away.