Daily Archives: July 27, 2015

Bailey I miss you – thank you for your gentle kindness and the great memories you left us

Blog by Steve Laug

Bailey1Today is the first anniversary of the death of our Cocker Spaniel Bailey. He was more than a family pet to me as he was my pipe smoking companion, friend and caregiver during my stroke and bout with cancer. He was with us for fourteen amazing years. He left this life one year ago on Sunday, July 27, 2014 and when he left there was and continues to be a huge empty spot in our lives and our home.

The photo to the left is one of my favourites. It shows Bailey occupying his second most frequently chosen place in our house – lying on my pillow, on my bed. The first place he always chose was on my daughter, Sarah’s bed. I think he thought it was his bed and he let her use it. He slept there with her every night since he joined our family as a puppy. He hopped on my bed while I was making coffee, every morning. When I brought a cup of coffee to my wife, Irene, he would look at me and then jump off the bed to follow me down the stairs to our chair. He waited there on the chair for me to bring my cup of coffee and sit with him.

Most mornings I am up early before the rest of the family. Often I walk to Bailey’s grave in back part of our yard and stand and reflect on my friend. I have had many dogs through the 60+ years of my life but never have I had one that made such a mark on my heart as him. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of him. As I stand there I talk with him and vocalize the sense of loss I feel regarding him. His partner in crime, our Black and Tan Spaniel, Spencer wanders around the yard checking on things and then comes to stand with me at the grave side and I think he senses my sadness. Many an evening I sit in a chair at the graveside and enjoy a bowl of tobacco and quietly think about him. I was looking at my computer this morning and found this piece I wrote the evening he died.

It is a sad night at our house tonight as my 14 year old Cocker Spaniel Bailey died this evening. We have had him since he was a new pup so it leaves a big hole. He had been growing weaker over the month and my youngest daughter had been caring for him. She had carried him out to the yard to go to the bathroom and slept beside him on her bed. He was an amazing dog. When I had my stroke he checked on me several times a night to make sure I was breathing and when I came home from my cancer surgery and slept in my recliner he slept beside me and I could feel his wet nose as he checked on me through the night. He was a real friend and companion. We used to sit on the porch together while I had a pipe and lately we had a morning ritual – he would sit on my lap while I sipped my coffee each morning and when I went to take my shower he kept the chair warm. He will be truly missed. My girls and I dug a deep grave for him in our back lot and this evening we gathered round and laid his remains to rest. He went the way he lived – in the arms of his family – he loved us much and we gave it back to him as well. I sat by the grave as dusk came and fired up a pipe in his memory… I know the pain of loss will subside but he will forever be a part of our family’s life and memory… Bailey old friend rest well. I love you and miss you. You were the best… Farewell.

Someone sent me this beautiful article on one of the Forums I frequent. It really sums up what I am feeling as I write and read this piece about my old friend Bailey. There are still tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat even a year later. It is written by Ben Hur Lampman (August 12, 1886–March 2, 1954) who was a U.S. newspaper editor, essayist, short story writer, and poet. He was a long time editor at The Oregonian in Portland, Oregon, and he served as Poet Laureate of Oregon from 1951 until his death.

Where To Bury A Dog – by Ben Hur Lampman

There are various places within which a dog may be buried. We are thinking now of a setter, whose coat was flame in the sunshine, and who, so far as we are aware, never entertained a mean or an unworthy thought. This setter is buried beneath a cherry tree, under four feet of garden loam, and at its proper season the cherry strews petals on the green lawn of his grave. Beneath a cherry tree, or an apple, or any flowering shrub of the garden, is an excellent place to bury a good dog. Beneath such trees, such shrubs, he slept in the drowsy summer, or gnawed at a flavorous bone, or lifted head to challenge some strange intruder. These are good places, in life or in death. Yet it is a small matter, and it touches sentiment more than anything else.

For if the dog be well remembered, if sometimes he leaps through your dreams actual as in life, eyes kindling, questing, asking, laughing, begging, it matters not at all where that dog sleeps at long and at last. On a hill where the wind is unrebuked and the trees are roaring, or beside a stream he knew in puppyhood, or somewhere in the flatness of a pasture land, where most exhilarating cattle graze. It is all one to the dog, and all one to you, and nothing is gained, and nothing lost — if memory lives. But there is one best place to bury a dog. One place that is best of all.

If you bury him in this spot, the secret of which you must already have, he will come to you when you call — come to you over the grim, dim frontiers of death, and down the well-remembered path, and to your side again. And though you call a dozen living dogs to heel they should not growl at him, nor resent his coming, for he is yours and he belongs there.

People may scoff at you, who see no lightest blade of grass bent by his footfall, who hear no whimper pitched too fine for mere audition, people who may never really have had a dog. Smile at them then, for you shall know something that is hidden from them, and which is well worth the knowing.

The one best place to bury a good dog is in the heart of his master.

The photo below pictures well our relationship with each other. He had an uncanny ability to make me laugh and to make me cry. I remember the night of this photo. We had company visiting from Budapest and had just come home from dinner at the Thai Restaurant across the street from our house. I came into the house and was met as usual by Bailey. He always sat at the door waiting. He had an uncanny ability of knowing when we would come home and be there when we opened the door. He begged to be picked up and then gave me a big kiss on the lips. He caught me off guard and I just laughed out loud. He kept kissing me and finally I let him down to go and hang up my coat. When I came back he was busy visiting our guests and welcoming them to our home. He loved people and always wanted to be the centre of their attention when they came. He would sit next to them or climb on their lap and make them pay attention to him. He was a one dog welcome committee to all who came through our door. When I sat down in my chair he jumped down and came over to my lap and snuggled in close for the rest of the evening. He always hated missing anything so he would only go to bed once everyone had left.Bailey2 I still find myself coming home from work or a trip and expecting him to be waiting at the door for me. I expect him to give me his “Bailey greeting” – a vociferous mixture of grumbling and whining that sounded like talking. His mouth would move like he was telling me what had happened throughout his day. Then he would move around my legs and wiggle allover waiting to be picked up. If I walked by he would follow me complaining with his back end walking almost sideways and his tail wagging non-stop.

Bailey loved riding in the car. I only needed to ask if he want to go bye-bye and he was at the door waiting, grumbling that I was not moving fast enough to his liking. When I opened the door he would race down the steps and out the gate to the car and sit by the passenger’s door until I could open it so he could get in. Then when I went around the car to my side he would race across the car to welcome me when I got in. He would climb on my lap and sit while I started the car. When I took Sarah to work Bailey would ride along and sit on her lap. He enjoyed looking out the window and when people caught his eye in a car next to us he would wiggle with pride. He was great to ride with. When we dropped Sarah at work he would sit in the seat and watch as she unlocked the door to her store and when she went inside he would cry because he missed her. I miss those morning rides together.

Bailey was the ultimate showoff. He loved to go for walks in the neighbourhood and nearby park. He was in his element when others would comment on how beautiful he was with his red flowing hair and green eyes. He would stand up taller and puff out his chest and swell with pride. He loved to look at his reflection in the mirror of the wardrobe by my bed and tilt his head from side to side and move around to get a perfect look at himself in the mirror. When we would come in and see him strutting for the mirror he would make noises and wiggle until we sat with him and told him how handsome he was. The next photo shows him in all of his showoff glory. He loved sweaters, bandanas and even sunglasses. He loved jingling his jewelry (his name tags, rabies tag and license) when he walked. He was a total drama queen.Bailey3 This morning as I write this blog my mind is filled with memories and my eyes are wet with tears. The things I have written and many other moments that are fresh in mind fill me with a sense of thankfulness that you lived with us and shared our lives Bailey. I have one lingering regret – that when I come home today you will not be at the door waiting and give me a report of your day and a huge kiss. I miss you as much today as I did the evening you died. The sadness is manageable and the grief has moved deeper though it does not take much to bring the tears to my eyes and remind me of the hole that you left in my heart. Thank you my friend you will live on in my heart for as long as I live.

Whitehall Thermofilter Rebuild

Blog by Dave Gossett

This pipe was part of an estate lot I received a few weeks ago. Borderline firewood. I was just going to throw it in the pipe parts box but decided to make it my nightshift project at work. It passes the time and keeps me awake.

I have American and English made Whitehall’s but this one is stamped Italy, so It would make a nice addition to the Whitehall collection if it came out looking presentable.

I initially planned to use this pipe for practice and try my hand at beveling a rim, so I didn’t take very many pictures of the rebuild.

It had several fills and deep gashes in the briar, and the button on the stem was completely MIA.Dave1


Dave3 I started off with some aggressive sanding of the briar with 200 grit. This pipe lost some serious weight. It couldn’t get any worse so I went for broke and sanded down past the fills and gashes working around the stampings until I had a smooth stummel.

Next I gave my first rim beveling a shot. Using a rolled piece of 200 grit angled at 45 degrees, I turned the bowl slowly with one hand while sanding with the other. After trying this, I now have a new found respect for carvers that shape pipes by hand. I stopped frequently and eyeballed the rim closely to make sure it was symmetrical.

After I was content with the shape I worked my way up the grit ladder until it was smooth as babies butt.

The briar was starting to look pretty good. If I couldn’t save the original stem I would have found a substitute. The Thermofilter was similar in size and shape as my old 1919 old Loewe & Co. pipe with an antique rounded button that was popular at the turn of the century, so I modeled the stem rebuild after the Loewe.Dave4

Dave5 This is the biggest stem rebuild I’ve tried so far. This recipe is great for fixing tooth holes or small missing portions. Only time will tell if an addition this large will hold up. Here is the link of how I rebuild stems if anyone wants the details.

I piled on the mix and filed it about five times before I found the shape I was going for.Dave6




Dave10 American WhitehallDave11 English WhitehallDave12 Italian WhitehallDave13 It would be interesting to know how many other countries accompanied the Whitehall name.

Cleaning up a Hilson Made in Belgium Meerlined Bulldog, Shape S60

Blog by Steve Laug

This is another pipe from the Idaho Falls antique mall. The funny thing is I went back another day to show my daughters some of the antique jewelry and did not think much of looking for more pipes as I had already cleaned out the ones I had an interest in. One of my daughters called me over to a display case where there was a pipe rest with a golden Cocker Spaniel on it. She thought it would be a great memory piece for me. I looked in the case and there on the bottom shelf was a pipe that I had not seen on the previous day. It was a nice straight Bulldog pipe. The bowl looked like it was a mess but the briar and stem looked to be in pretty good shape. I had the clerk pull it out and was surprised by the stamping on it. It read Hilson over Made in Belgium on the upper left side of the shank and Imported Briar in an arch over Block Meerschaum on the upper right side of the shank. There were some other letters underneath the arch that ran in a straight line but I could not read them without a lens. Of course I had to have the old pipe. I knew that it at least was made before Gubbels Pipe Factory in Holland bought out the Hilson brand in 1980 because of the Belgium stamping.Hilson1

Hilson2 When I got home I looked at the shank under a bright light using a lens and could see more clearly some of the marks under the arch. The arch appeared to be over stamped and underneath on the left of arch it read S and the other letters faded out. On the right side of the arch it read TYLE. I am wondering if it originally read S60 (which is the shape number that has been more recently stamped on the underside of the right side of the shank) BLOCK STYLE in a straight line over MEERSCHAUM (the center and bottom words in and under the arch). If so then when it left Belgium and headed to the USA it must have been over stamped with the arched IMPORTED BRIAR which is stamped with a slightly smaller font. I also examined the stem and found that on the underside of the right side it had a small stamped M and what looked like part of an E. All of that will remain a bit of a mystery but it makes this old pipe interesting.

The briar portion of the pipe was in pretty decent shape. I was not sure about the briar on the rim as it was pretty covered with an overflow of tars that had come up out of the bowl and over the rim. The meerschaum bowl was invisible at this point in the process. It was somewhere inside the mess but how far down I was not sure. I had no idea of the thickness of the Hilson bowls in comparison with others. The other Hilson Meerlined pipe I had did not have the lining and the briar was very thin so I was thinking that this one would be like that. The finish was dirty on the rest of the bowl but did not have any damage. The briar looked pretty decent other than a few small fills on the underside of the shank. The stem was dirty and lightly oxidized. The pipe and the stem smelled awful! The bowl smelled like old cigarettes left in an ashtray in the rain. The stem smelled like old tires with a hint of sulfur. It would take a bit of work to clean up this one without damaging the meerlined bowl.Hilson3

Hilson4From a bit of research on the web I found that the company was originally started in 1846 by a German named Jean Knödgen who produced clay pipes in Belgium. According to a note on the Pipephil website it seems that in the late 19th century Jean Hillen married into the Knödgen family and later took over the company. He changed the company from a clay pipe producer to a factory able to manufacture briar pipes. Jean Hillen had 2 sons: Jos Hillen was responsible for sales and Albert Hillen was responsible for the production. After WWII his son Albert founded the HILSON brand which was a combination of Hillen and Son and exported his pipes all over the world. The brand did very well in the 1960s and 1970s and the brand was sold throughout Germany and Europe. In 1980 the company ran into financial difficulties and was bought by the Royal Dutch Pipe Factory owned and operated by Gubbels who still makes the Big Ben pipe.

Hilson meerschaum-lined briar pipes were manufactured in Belgium at the original Hilson factory in the 1970’s and used Block Meerschaum to make the inserts for their pipes. This was much better quality than most meerschaum lined pipes. Usually the lining was made of pressed meerschaum which was made from ground up meerschaum. Block Meerschaum is carved from the meerschaum as it is mined. High quality meerschaum pipes are always made from block meerschaum.

I took the next three close-up shots to give an idea of the state of the bowl when I started. There is a hint that it is a meerschaum lined bowl when you see the line on the edge of the bowl just inside of the briar. The thick coat of carbon built up on the rim and down into the bowl made it hard to see. I was glad that this was a block meerschaum insert rather than a compressed one because there was some hope that the bottom of the bowl had not begun to disintegrate of break up. The second and third photos below give an idea of the stamping on the shank of the pipe.Hilson5


Hilson7 The next photo shows the stinger apparatus in the tenon of the pipe. Most of the other Hilson pipes that I have worked on have an inner tube extension rather than a tenon so this was a new one to me. It is also unique among the stingers that I have seen.Hilson8 I decided to top the bowl to remove all of the carbon build-up and see what was happening with the top of the meerschaum insert and the briar rim. I knew that the cake in this one was out of control but I wanted to see if I could see the original inner line before I dealt with the cake.Hilson9 The next photo shows the topped bowl. Once I had it topped I folded a piece of sandpaper and worked at the inner edge to remove the cake. I wrapped the sandpaper around my finger after the initial sanding and went as deeply into the bowl as I could reach. There was some staining around the back and right side of the meerschaum lining where it came in contact with the briar. I think some of the tars and oils wicked into the meerlining and stained it.Hilson10 The surface of the rim was scratched from the 220 grit sandpaper so I used a medium and a fit grit sanding block and cleaned up the rim.Hilson11 The next two photos show the rim and the bowl after reaming. I reamed what I could not reach with a sharp pen knife and removed all of the cake in the bowl.Hilson12

Hilson13 I removed the stinger from the tenon. I always twist the tenon rather than just pull it in case it is threaded. In this case it came out easily enough.Hilson14 I was going to use the retort to clean this pipe but thought better of it as I did not want to soften or damage the meer liner with the alcohol. So, I resorted to the old tried and true method of cotton swabs and alcohol to clean out the shank and wipe down the inside of the bowl. It took a lot of swabs to get the shank clean. The mortise ran the length of the shank to accommodate the long stinger.HIlson15 The stem took a lot less work. After just a few pipe cleaners and alcohol the pipe cleaners came out clear.Hilson16 I scrubbed the stinger with alcohol and 0000 steel wool to remove the tars that had stained the aluminum.Hilson17 I wiped down the bowl with alcohol on cotton pads and then took the following picture to show the state of the pipe thus far. It is going to be a beautiful pipe.Hilson18 I wiped the bowl and shank down with a light coat of olive oil to enliven the briar and bring out the grain. The birdseye grain on the sides of the bowl were stunning. It is hard to see with the freshly oiled bowl but in later photos it will stand out.Hilson19



Hilson22 The stem was cleaned and ready to polish. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 micromesh sanding pads and then gave it a coat of Obsidian Oil. Before the oil dried I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil and then sanded it with 6000-12000 grit pads to finish the shine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and let it dry. Once dry I buffed it with White Diamond on the wheel.Hilson23


Hilson25 I buffed the finished pipe with Blue Diamond Polish on the wheel and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean flannel buff and then again by hand with a microfibre cloth to bring depth to the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. Other than the stain around the back and right side edge s of the meerschaum lining the pipe looks like new. It should offer many more years of service.Hilson26