Blog by Steve Laug
My brother found a group of pipes for sale in a Montana antique shop and negotiated a deal for sixteen of them. They arrived here in Canada yesterday. The first one I tackled was a Dr. Grabow Viscount in the colour line – it is kind of a pick axe shape and it is painted a bright cherry red. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Viscount over Dr. Grabow and on the right side Imported Briar over Adjustomatic and the patent number 2461905. In the picture to the left it is the fourth pipe down. I knew from an earlier Viscount that I had restored that the shape number of this one was #39, a unique Dr. Grabow shape!
When it arrived the painted surface was in excellent shape. There were no chips or nicks in the paint which is what I normally find in these pipes. The rim was clean of damage though there were some tars on the back edge of the flat rim. There was no rim damage however and the paint, even on the rim was in great shape. The stem was overturned and the Adjustomatic feature did not work. It seemed to be stuck in the position in which it arrived. The stem was oxidized and there was some tooth chatter and tooth marks on both the top and the bottom of the stem. The spoon stinger was dirty and slightly corroded. It was a pressure fit in the tenon so I would be able to remove it from the stem to clean out the inside of the stem. The shank was dirty and there was a light cake in the bowl. The photos below show the condition of the pipe and the overturned stem.
I did a quick Google search to get an idea of the era of this pipe. I knew I could ask on the Dr. Grabow Collectors Forum but thought I would see if I could hunt down some information. I found the following advertisement for a Christmas pipe. The advertisement comes from the 1970s so I am guessing that the pipe I have is also a 70’s era pipe. I heated the spoon stinger and was able to pull it out of the tenon. It was a pressure fit rather than threaded so it was quite simple once it was heated and the grit softened. I heated the metal tenon in the stem to try to loosen the build up that held it tight. Normally the Adjustomatic can be reclocked without resorting to heating the tenon. In this case it was stuck. I heated it with a lighter until it was loose again. I screwed it into the mortise and was able to move it freely and adjust the fit of the stem to the shank.
I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter and tooth marks and remove the oxidation. I followed that by sanding with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches. I scrubbed the rim with cotton pads and saliva to remove the tars without damaging the painted rim.
I sanded the sponge with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and then rubbing the stem with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I buffed the stem with White Diamond and then finished sanding with 6000-12000 grit pads. I gave it a final coat of the oil and let it dry.
I lightly buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the wheel and then gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean flannel buffing pad and then hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I was unable to remove all of the darkening on the back side of the rim but it is smooth to touch. Thanks for looking.