Blog by Steve Laug
The third pipe my brother Jeff picked up in the lot from the Montana was one of my favourite shapes. In the photo below of the pipes at the seller’s antique shop it is the pipe on the far right of the picture. Looking at it in the photos I wondered if it was a Peterson 999 or a GBD 9438 two of my all time favourite pipe shapes. I was pretty excited to see what it was once he got the pipes. Everything about that pipe shape made me think that my guess was not far off. When the pipes arrived in Idaho my brother called and read me the stamping. The pipe was stamped on the left side of the shank Chadwick over “Supreme”. On the right side it was stamped Imported Briar. At that point I was scratching my head. It still looked like an English-made pipe to me but I had not heard of the Chadwick brand. When the pipe arrived in Canada I looked it over and was still convinced it looked English-made. I looked in Who Made that Pipe and it was listed there as made by Wally Frank in the US and England. The next photos show what the pipe looked like when it arrived here. There is a lot of promise underneath all the grime. There was a thick cake in the bowl and the rim was covered with the overflow of tars and oils down the sides to the double ring. The finish was dirty and almost gone. I am not sure if the pipe had a natural finish or was stained but it was no longer clear what the original had been like. The double ring had a large chunk missing on the front of the bowl. There were two fills on the bowl front that were shrunken and looked like dents. The shank was dirty. The stem was chewed and gnawed on to the point that the button was virtually gone on the top side. There was a chunk missing from it on the top middle of the button. There were deep tooth marks on the top and bottom of the stem near the button. The stem was oxidized and scratched and had a build-up of calcification about an inch up the stem toward the shank. Inside the stem and shank was very dirty. The airway to the bowl was clogged and I was not able to blow air through it. It looked to me that there had originally been a stinger in the tenon but it was no longer present.
I took some close up photos of the stamping and the condition of the bowl, rim and stem before I went to work on restoring it. You can clearly see the stamping on the left side of the shank – Chadwick Supreme. The rim is in nasty condition. I am not sure how the last pipe man had ever fit much tobacco in the bowl. All I know is that it must have smoked really well because it looked as if he had never laid it down. The stem condition is also clearly shown with tooth marks and gnawing on the button top and bottom.
Before I started cleaning it up I wanted to learn a bit more about the brand. I have cleaned and used quite a few Wally Frank pipes over the years and knew that other companies in Europe often made their pipes for them. It was highly likely that this was a British made pipe. I checked on Chris Keene’s Pipe Pages and found the Chadwick name in the Wally Frank Catalogue for 1939. None of the other catalogues would open but at least I had the information that I needed. The first photo below is of the whole page. The second is of the right top corner where the Chadwick line is mentioned. The third is of a Chadwick Display Cabinet that was provided to tobacconists and stores that sold the line.
Now I knew that the Chadwick line was indeed made in England. My guess was correct and I would go one step further and guess that they were made by Comoy’s or GBD. The advertisement says that the pipe was “custom-made in London with the deliberate precision of English master pipemakers. The Chadwick is our sincere effort to present a fine quality London made pipe from sweet smoking Algerian Briar Root at a modest price.”
What interested me was that the pipe came in three different finishes – Rough-Rugged, Natural and Dark. I am pretty sure that the one I had was originally dark finished as the dark finish would hide the fills on the bowl and they would be blended into the briar. That gave me the direction that I would go in restaining the pipe once I got to that point in the restoration process.
I love reading these old catalogues and seeing the life time warrantee on the pipes and the fact that the pipe originally cost $2.50 with postage paid from the Wally Frank factory.
Armed with that confirmation of British origin for this old pipe I went to work to restore it to its former glory. I worked on the bowl first. I wanted to ream back the cake to bare wood to see what I was dealing with in the bowl. I set up the PipNet reamer with the smallest head first and found that the cake was incredibly hard. The cutting head barely made a dent in the cake. I took the largest sized cutting head – same diameter as the bowl and work on it and with a lot of force was able to begin to make a dent on the cake. It was just too hard to go too deep with the tool. I used a pen knife to try to cut back the lower portion of the cake but could not even cut into it because it was so hard.
I decided to soak the bowl and soften the cake in an alcohol bath. I dropped the bowl into the bath and left it overnight to soak and soften the cake. In the morning I took it out of the bath and dried it off with a coarse cotton towel. The soak also had the effect of softening the lava on the rim and cap so that when I dried the bowl most of it came off in the process. I was able to ream it back to bare wood with the use of a PipNet reamer and a KLEENREEM reamer. I used the drill bit part of the KLEENREEM tool to open the airway into the bowl and remove the clog. With that gone I could freely blow air through the bowl. The final photo in this set shows the conical bowl on the reamed pipe.
I wiped the bowl down with acetone on a cotton pad to clean off the remaining finish and the grime left behind after the soak and the reaming process. The damaged rings on the front of the bowl are visible in the photos as is the damage to the rim top.
I lightly topped the bowl on a topping board using 220 grit sandpaper to flatten the rim top and to remove some of the rounding to the outer edge of the bowl. I used a dental pick to remove the fills that had shrunk on the bottom front of the bowl in preparation for replacing them. I packed briar dust into the holes and then dripped super glue onto the packed briar dust. I packed briar dust into the missing section of the double rings on the front of the bowl. I put super glue on top of the briar dust fill to build up the repair. I added more briar dust on top of the fills on the bowl front and on the repair to the rings. I sanded the patches on the bowl front with 220 grit sandpaper and smooth it out to match the surrounding briar. I sanded the patch on the ring repair with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it out. There were still some low spots on that repair so I refilled the area with some more super glue.
I set the bowl aside to let the repair on the rings cure before I cut the new rings into the bowl front. While it was sitting I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and the calcification. I wanted to clean up the stem before I worked on repairing the tooth marks and gnawed button. I cleaned the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners.
I scrubbed out the tooth marks on the stem and the button with a cotton swab and alcohol in preparation for the repair I would do there. I mixed the patching material using finely crushed charcoal capsules and black super glue. I mixed the two to blend the materials. I use super glue that gives me 45 seconds of time before it hardens so I have to work quickly.
When I had the paste mixed well I applied it to the tooth marks and built up the button with a dental pick and dental spatula. The repair is anything but beautiful at this point but the mixture adds strength to the repair that the glue by itself does not give with tooth marks and damage of this magnitude.
I set the stem aside to cure and went back to the bowl. I used a Buck Knife, a pen knife and a sharp-edged needle file to cut the lines in the patch on the bowl front. I wanted the new lines to connect seamlessly to the lines on either side of the repair. These three blades always have worked for me to get a good straight line match. When I had finished cleaning up the lines on the bowl the stem repair had cured enough to begin to shape the button and clean up the tooth repairs. I sanded them with 220 grit sandpaper to begin to shape and smooth out the repairs.
When I had the basic shape of the button set up the surface was quite porous on the button surface and in one spot on the tooth repair on top of the stem so I gave them a top coat of clear super glue to fill in the pores left behind by the super glue/charcoal mixture. I set that aside to dry.
I cleaned the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. It was one dirty shank. It took a lot of scrubbing to clean out the grime. I scrubbed until the cleaners came out clean and white. I wiped the bowl down with alcohol to remove any last dust or grime in preparation for staining the briar.
I decided to stain the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain that I had thinned by half to give it a medium brown colour. I wanted to aim for the dark stain that was noted in the Wally Frank Catalogue above. I figured it would give me good coverage on the fills and the repair to the rings. I applied the stain with a cotton swab and then flamed it with a lighter to set the colour in the grain. I wiped down the freshly stained bowl with alcohol on cotton pads to even out the stain and to give it more transparency so that the grain shows through. When I was through I was happy with the colour and with the way it hid the fills on the bowl and the repair to the ring on the front of the bowl.
I filed the slot in the stem to smooth it out and shape it. I also sanded the stem with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to further shape the button. I wet sanded the stem and button with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit micromesh pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished by sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I set it aside for the oil to dry.
I sanded the bowl with the micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit to polish the briar – bowl, shank and rim, to bring out the grain. When the grain began to pop I buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond on the wheel and then gave both multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean flannel buff and then with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a far cry better looking than when I started. This one is a keeper. Thanks for looking.