Blog by Steve Laug
This pipe came to me in a box of pipes that a friend brought by for me. He was getting rid of a bunch of the pipes that he no longer smoked and thought I might enjoy cleaning them up. This one is stamped on the left side Regal over Dr. Grabow and on the right side, Imported Briar over Adjustomatic over Pat. 2461206. When I took it out of the box it had a half stem. The rest of it had been broken off and it was about 1 ½ inches long. I took it off and put the bowl back in the box. I have no idea what I did with the old stem; I have looked for it for a while now as I wanted to pirate the Adjustomatic tenon from the stem. It will show up when I least expect it and I will deal with it then. Yesterday I took the bowl out of the box and was looking it over. It was in very decent shape. The finish was clean. There were some lighter marks on the back right outside edge of the rim but other than it was clean. There was no cake in the bowl. It was worth a little time to see what I could do with it.
I went through my can of stems and found a Dr. Grabow stem that was the proper diameter. It was in decent shape. There were tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem next to the button. The button itself had some tooth dents. There was some calcification on the surfaces as well. The tenon and stinger were black with tars and oils but would clean up easily enough. The only thing with this stem and tenon is that it was not an Adjustomatic stem but it would do.
I cleaned out the shank and mortise with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol. The shank was pretty clean and it did not take much to remove the little that was there. I removed the stinger and cleaned out the stem with alcohol. It too was not in to bad of shape on the inside. I cleaned the stinger and tenon with alcohol and 0000 steel wool.
I heated the stem and raised the tooth dents as much as possible and then sanded them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper. One of the divots was a little too deep to raise so I filled it with a small batch of black super glue and sanded it smooth.
I used a needle file to redefine the sharp edge of the button and make a clean line on both sides of the stem. I sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches from the vulcanite and then wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I sanded the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and then wiping down the stem with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads, gave it another coat of oil and then continued with 6000-12000 grit pads. Each successive grit of pad made the patch disappear and blend into the surface of the stem. I gave the stem a final rub down with Obsidian Oil and let it dry.
I buffed the 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 on the wheel and then hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth for a final deep shine. The following photos show the finish pipe. It should work well for many years to come. This one is for sale should anyone wish to add it to their rack. Email me and let me know.