Blog by Steve Laug
This is the fourteenth 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 an Ehrlich billiard stamped Enrlich over Imported Briar on the left side of the shank. The stem still bears the E in a circle stamping and on the underside reads ITALY. There is no shape number on the sides or underside of the shank. It may well have had one prior to the previous repair that had been done but I could see no sign of it.
Over the years I have had to rework many of the first pipes that I repaired and restored. Some of them were simple fixes that came with time and experience. Some of them were unfixable without some major reshaping. This time around the pipe that I am working on came with lots of issues that were not my own making. They were the issues that someone else made in fixing this pipe. It had a cracked shank and a restoration band. The previous repairer had glued the shank and then proceeded to sand down the shank to fit the band rather than using a band to fit the shank. The band was slightly small in diameter and did not match the shank above it. It had the characteristic “bulge over the belt” look that came to me in middle age. The sanding down of the shank also went too far in that with the band in place there was a large gap between the shank and the band all the way around the pipe. The edge against the part of the shank that remained was crooked and rough. It showed above the band when it was in place and also held the band at an angle. The band would not stay in place and was being held there by the stem.
The rim had been topped but not enough and there were still gouges on the outer edges of the bowl. The bowl was reamed but not all the way to the bottom of the bowl and the airway was very constricted where it entered the bowl. The finish was spotty at best and had a coat of varnish over the stain. There were some obvious fills in the bowl that really showed up through the spotty stain. Overall the bowl looked worn and uninviting. It certainly would not be a pipe that called to me from my rack. The stem was oxidized and dirty as well as been covered with deep scratches over the length from the band to the button. The tenon had also been taken down slightly so its fit in the shank was loose.
When I removed the stem the band fell free and I was able to examine the repair to the cracked shank that had made banding necessary to the previous repairer. You can see the angles of the cut against the shank that had been done by sanding that kept the band from seating on the shank straight.
I cleaned up the edge of the cut on the shank to make the band sit straight and then heated the band with a lighter to expand it to sit straight on the shank. When it was heated I pressed it against a hard surface and felt it slip into place. There was no need to glue it at this point as the gap between the shank and band was too big to connect the too.
I removed the stem and filled the gap between the band and the shank with briar dust. I packed the dust in with a dental pick and then put super glue on top of the dust to form a bond and fill the gap. I used a knife to bevel the inside edge of the mortise to accommodate the fit of the stem. I sanded the inner edge and the repair to the shank. The photo below shows the fill and the repair. It still needed to be sanded but the stem fit very well. The next photo shows the topping job that had been done on the rim top. You can see the scratches and the rough spots on the outer edge of the rim. I re-topped the bowl on the topping board using 220 grit sandpaper to clean it up. The next photo shows the re-topped bowl. The edges are all clean and smooth. The spot that looks rough on the back side is a fill that was along the edge. I sanded the bottom of the shank to take out some of the bulge against the band. I started with 220 grit sandpaper and then used medium and fine grit sanding sponges to smooth out the scratches. With the cleanup on the shank and rim finished I moved on to clean up the interior. I scraped out the bowl with a sharp knife to remove the remaining cake and clean up the bottom of the bowl. I used the drill bit from the KleenReem reamer to open the airway and remove all of the tars that had clogged the airway into the bowl. I scrubbed the mortise, airway and inside of the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until it was clean. In the photo of the stem shown below you can see the scratches that were left in the stem from the previous cleanup. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and then medium and fine grit sanding sponges to remove the scratches and some of the surface oxidation. With the scratches minimized I put the stem in a jar of Oxyclean solution to soak. I let it soak for about an hour and a half and then rinsed it off and dried it with a cloth. I rubbed the stem down with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and was able to remove the majority of the oxidation. I gave the stem a light sanding with the fine grit sanding sponge and then moved on to the micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and then rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I put the stem back in place and restained the bowl with a medium brown aniline stain. I flamed the stain and set the bowl aside to dry on the cork and candle stand and called it a night. The pipe was beginning to look better. I worked some more on polishing the stem. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit micromesh sanding pads and then rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I continued to dry sand with 6000-12000 grit micromesh pads and then buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the wheel.
I used Dave Gossett’s additional step in buffing the final pipe. I gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax and then a clean buff on a soft flannel wheel. I gave it a final hand buff with a microfibre cloth before I took the photos below. The pipe is finished and ready for the pipeman who will make it his/her own.
This Ehrlich billiard is a medium sized pipe, basically a Group 4 in Dunhill terms. The grain is quite nice and with the stain the fills blend into the finish quite well. The stain is a medium brown that allows the grain to show through to its advantage. It should make someone a great addition. If you are interested in this pipe email me with an offer at email@example.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.