Blog by Steve Laug
This pipe came to me as a fund raising donation for Smokers Forums. The donor wanted this and other pipes he sent cleaned up and restored then sold for the support of Smokers Forums. This pipe is a large Hercules Billiard made by Savinelli. It is stamped Hercules on the left side of the shank and on the right it read 111EX over Italy. This big pipe had some stunning grain. It would clean up very well. The finish is dull and dirty with grime but the briar is in excellent condition with no dents or flaws. There was a thick and uneven cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava on the rim was also heavy. In my experience the thick lava on the rim generally protected the rim from damage. The inner bevel on the rim and the edge was also undamaged. The stem was oxidized. The stamping on the stem shows well in the photo below but it was actually very light and faint. It would be virtually impossible to save it once it soaked and was cleaned up. It was almost like a decal applied to the stem rather than stamping.
I worked on the buildup on the rim with 0000 steel wool. Working it around the rim I was able to remove all of the tar and lava without damaging the finish. I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to remove the grime and the wax buildup. I believe these pipes had an oil finish originally and were not stained. The grime came off easily and the grain just popped!
I cleaned out the interior of the bowl and the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they came out spotless. I also folded each pipe cleaner and swabbed out the inside of the bowl to remove the dust and particles left behind by the reaming.
I gave the stem a light sanding with 220 grit sandpaper and then with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge to remove the oxidation. I worked carefully around the stamping to see if I could preserve it. So far so good on that point.
I worked on the stem with micromesh sanding pads to remove the rest of the oxidation and to polish the stem. The first 1500 grit micromesh literally obliterated the stamping. That kind of thing bugs me but I can’t go back and change it. The decal/stamping was gone. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads and then rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave the stem a final coat of oil and let the oil dry before taking it to the buffer.
I gave the bowl a light coat of olive oil and rubbed it in. I let it absorb over night. In the morning I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond and then gave both multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect. I buffed it with a clean flannel buffing pad to raise the shine then finished by hand buffing with a microfibre cloth. The only flaw in the process was the removal of the stamp/decal on the stem. For that I apologize. Otherwise the pipe is a stunning piece of craftsmanship. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I think this pipe will be a great smoker for whoever decides to add it to their rack.