Blog by Steve Laug
In the batch of pipes my brother purchased from an antique shop in Montana for me to clean up was the pipe pictured in the photo below – on its side on the pipe rack on the left of the photo bearing a $19 price tag. Turns out it is a Carey Magic Inch Freehand Pipe. It is stamped on the left side of the shank: Free Hand over Carey over Magic Inch. Underneath that is stamped a PAT. No. 3267941. On the right side it is stamped: Mediterranean over Briar Israel. The stem has three horizontal vents on the top and on the underside of the stem. There is a logo – a C in a box on the top of the stem behind the vents. I did some research on the “Magic Inch” System and found out that it has been a Carey’s tradition for over 50 years. On their website they say that they have sold over 1,000,000 pipes. They describe the “Magic Inch” as: “an air chamber inserted between the imported briar bowl and the vented mouthpiece which allows cool outside air to enter and mix with the warm tobacco smoke inside the “Magic Inch” chamber. Tobacco tars, oils and moisture, are squeezed out of the smoke. The residue drops to the bottom of the chamber and is absorbed by the Papyrate sleeve.” http://www.eacarey.com/magicinchinfo.html
They provide the following diagram on their website and I have included it here to show the unique system. I found a second diagram on the English Carey website. http://www.eacarey.co.uk/2010/10/the-carey-magic-inch/
I quote from their site as it gives some interesting history on the system: “A Carey pipe looks better and feels better than any ordinary pipe. It also smokes like no other pipe you’ve ever known, and that’s mostly thanks to the patented ‘Magic Inch’, an invention that revolutionised pipe smoking. Designed and patented by EA Carey in 1948 it was the result of a dedicated pipe smoker seeking a cooler, drier smoke whilst not detracting from the fulsome flavour of choice tobaccos. After years of research and the discarding of many ‘good ideas’ Carey settled on the basic design of the system and set about refining that design into the simple but highly effective device that is the basis of Carey Magic Inch pipes over 60 years later. Even today, more than 30 years after it was first introduced into Europe and particularly the UK, we have many seasoned pipesmokers who are still discovering the amazing difference and improvement in smoking pleasure they obtain from the Magic Inch system. It is not a trap or filter or other such sludge forming gadget. In fact, like all great discoveries and inventions, the secret is simple. By cooling, condensing and evaporating moisture with every puff, it prevents the tar, sludge, bite and bitterness that you may find in other pipes, ever reaching your mouth.”
They go on to describe the system in a classically English way: “The system has been designed to allow a precise amount of outside air into each puff of smoke. Unique moisture ports then dissipate wetness, tar and nicotine into the 2 ply Papyrate sleeve, protecting the smoker from unwanted materials. The Papyrate itself provides excellent absorbency for dryer smoking and increased durability. Subsequently the Magic Inch chamber releases moisture through evaporation during resting periods between smokes. Neither a filter nor a standard ‘push bit’, a true innovation.” All Carey Magic Inch pipes are made from top quality Mediterranean briar designed, crafted and inspected by experts who take pride in their craft.
With this background information I started to work Carey Magic Inch Freehand that my brother had picked up for me. The bowl was quite clean on the inside – a light cake had formed. The rim had some darkening but was also very clean. The carved patterns on the pipe were very similar to some of the Alpha pipes that also had similar Frankenstein-like stitches on the worm trails carved into the sides and bottom of the bowl and shank. I would not be surprised if it was actually carved in the old Alpha Pipe Factory in Israel. The finish on the pipe was in very good shape and did not need to have anything done to it but clean it. The shank bears the stamping of Israel on the right side. The shape is a block/poker shape that never really was my cup of tea. I always look at them and feel like the carver stopped somewhere along the way and never finished carving the pipe. The rustication on the rim matched that on the shank end. The stem was typical Carey plastic and would be hard to work on. It had tooth chatter on the top and the bottom sides of the stem and some tooth marks that also went onto the button itself.
I took the stem off the pipe to get a picture of the Carey Magic Inch system. The stem sits over a mortise insert with a one inch long perforated tube that extends into the stem when it is in place on the shank. The stem was dirty on the inside and the tooth chatter and dents marred the top and bottom sides near the button.
I scrubbed out the stem and the shank with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol until the pipe cleaners and swabs came out clean. I find the plastic material used on these stems to be a challenge to clean up and remove the damaged areas. Once it is sanded all of the polishing has to be done by hand. The heat of the buffer pads can seriously damage the stem by melting it. I sanded the tooth marks and chatter with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage. There was one spot on the top of the stem near the button that needed to be patched with clear super glue. It was a deep tooth mark that no amount of sanding would remove.
When the patch cured I sanded it with the 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it out with the surface of the stem. I sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches. Normally I wet sand the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads but with this material it only gets muddy and makes a mess. I used some Obsidian Oil to rub down the stem between each pad and sanded it until the scratches began to disappear. I continue the process with 3200-4000 grit pads with the oil between each pad giving me some bite on the plastic stem. I forgot to take a picture of this step (I had already spent over 1 ½ hours on the stem at this point). I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads and the oil. When I had finished I rubbed it down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and let it dry.
I hand waxed the bowl and the stem with Conservators wax and buffed it with a shoe brush. I finished by buffing it with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is cleaned, restored and ready for whoever wishes to purchase it from me. It is not my style of pipe but I am sure it will make some pipe man very happy. Just email me if you are interested and make me an offer at firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks for looking.