Blog by Andrew Selking
To paraphrase Samuel Clemmons, reports that I’m no longer messing with pipes are greatly exaggerated. Between a cross country move, a new house, renovations to said house, and trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, I have not spent as much time working on pipes as I would like. I did manage to squeeze in this nice Kaywoodie Flame Grain Meerschaum lined doggie.
According to a Kaywoodie brochure from the era, Flame Grain pipes were made from “200 to 400 year-old briar burls…the last of their kind to be found in the world.” The meerschaum inlaid Flame Grain is a “superb Flame Grain Kaywoodie with an inlaid inner bowl of imported Turkish meerschaum. This pipe combines the outstanding qualities of the two best materials in the world in which to smoke tobacco.” This pipe represents the pinnacle of American pipe making. As a point of reference, in 1947 this pipe would sell for $12.50 while Dunhill pipes started at $10.00.
As you can see, it took some imagination to see a pipe that might compete with a Dunhill.
The stem was under-clocked and heavily oxidized. The bowl had very thick cake and a buildup of tar on the rim. There was some kind of protective finish on the bowl that left a film after the alcohol bath. Additionally, the stinger was cut. On the plus side, I could see some really nice grain and the stem was virtually unmolested.
The first thing I did was soak the bowl in alcohol. I was hesitant to do that, because I was afraid the alcohol would cause the meer lining to deteriorate. At the same time I was also worried that if I didn’t soften the cake first, just using the reamer might damage the lining as well. I compromised and soaked it for about two hours and the cake came out nicely.
While the bowl was soaking, I used Oxyclean and warm water to soak the stem. Since it was missing the end of the stinger, it was easy to get the worst of the gunk out with a pipe cleaner. As I mentioned, the stem was under-clocked. To fix this problem I usually heat the stinger with my heat gun until I can easily rotate back into place. As the tip of the stinger heats up it transfers heat into the stem and loosens the glue. The whole heat transfer thing wasn’t working very well with this pipe, so I stuck a small nail in the stinger. That worked like a charm.
Next I did a retort on the bowl and stem.
After scrubbing the insides with brushes, q-tips, and pipe cleaners, it was time to tackle the exterior issues. I used 0000 steel wool with acetone to remove the tar build up on the rim.
I continued with the 0000 steel wool over the rest of the bowl to remove the film on the finish. After cleaning the bowl, I used 3200-12000 grit micro mesh to polish the bowl. This is what it looked like afterwards.
I used 400 grit wet/dry with water to remove the oxidation from the stem, followed by 1800-2400 grit micro mesh with water. I finished the stem with a progression of 3200-12,000 grit micro mesh.
I set up my buffer and polished the bowl with white diamond and carnauba wax. I used my variable speed rotary tool with white diamond and carnauba wax for the stem. Here is the finished pipe. Thanks for looking.