Blog by Steve Laug
I came across this beautiful sandblast bent bulldog on Ebay and put a bid in for it. I was the sole bidder and won it for a decent price plus reasonable shipping from Great Britain. The pipe is stamped on a smooth spot on the bottom left side of the shank. It reads SANDHURST #16 and next to that it is stamped C.A. SANDER over SWANSEA. The seller stated that the pipe was in a good used condition, and had some wear. He also said that the measurements of the pipe are 135mm or 5.5 inches long, bowl size 35mm or 1.4 inches x 28mm or 1.10 inches. From the photos he included in the sale the finish on the bowl looked to be in excellent shape. The rim was very clean. I could not see the inside of the bowl but the way the rim looked I was guessing that it was very clean. The sandblast was nicely done with some deep craggy ring grain. There was no ring around the cap on the bowl. The stamping on the shank was clear but was weak in spots. The stem was lightly oxidized but had no tooth chatter or bite marks.
I knew next to nothing about the maker of the pipe. I could ascertain from the stamping that the pipe was made by a C.A. Sander in Swansea. I remembered that Swansea is in Wales so I had something to start with. I looked in Who Made that Pipe and also in Lopes book and could find nothing listed for that maker. I used Google to see if I could find any information on the company and looking a company of that name in Swansea, Wales. I actually found out that the company started in 1977 and closed in 1998. It appears from the information that I found to have been a family owned and operated company with broad interests. There was no mention of pipes in any of the company documents that I could find. I wonder if the brand was not just one of many avenues for the company to expand its horizons. I found two pipes online with the CA Sander stamping these included the Oxford and the Sandhurst. Both the Oxford and the Sandhurst are sandblast finish pipes with a dark stain. There was no other information available that I could find listed online. Does anyone have any information on the brand? (I have included a photo of the stamping on a stemless Oxford Bulldog that I just purchased on eBay for comparison.) When the pipe arrived it was in far better shape than the seller intimated. The bowl was lightly smoked if at all. There was no cake and the darkening did not extend to the bottom of the bowl. I ran a pipe cleaner through the shank and the stem and it came out clean. There was dust in the shank that came out but no tobacco oils or tars. The stem was actually less oxidized than I expected and would clean up very easily. There were some tiny tooth chatter next to the button on the top and the bottom side of the stem. There were some small nicks in the vulcanite on the top right side midstem.
I took a close up photo of the rim and bowl to show the excellent condition of the rim and bowl. The second photo below shows the nicks in the stem that I spoke of above. This should be an easy clean up.
The slot in the button was very thin and I was unable to get a pipe cleaner into the airway from that end. I used three different needle files to open it wide enough to take a thick pipe cleaner easily. Once it was open I sanded the inside of the slot to make it smooth. The draw on the pipe is much better after opening the slot. The narrowness of the slot makes me wonder if that is why the pipe was not smoked more.
I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation, smooth out the tooth chatter and the two nicks on the right side. Once they were gone and the stem was smooth I used a medium and fine grit sanding sponge to begin to minimize the scratching. I put a plastic washer between the stem and the shank to keep the shoulders sharp and protect the shank while I was sanding.
I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and then rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. The oxidation is disappearing and the dark black of the rubber is beginning to stand out. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit micromesh pads, gave it another coat of oil and finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and then set it aside to dry.
I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the wheel and then gave them multiple coats of carnauba wax. I polished the pipe with a clean flannel buff and then gave it a final buff by hand with a microfibre cloth. The stem cleaned up amazingly well. The pipe is ready for a inaugural smoke. The draw is wide open and easy! Thanks for looking.