Blog by Steve Laug
This Citation (second pipe down in the first column in the photo on the left) is a sister pipe to the Savinelli Classica 812 Canadian that I just restored. It is stamped Citation and 812 on the bottom of the shank. The sand blast is nowhere near as beautiful as the Classica but it has a charm all its own. It appears to be a combined blast and rustication – hard to explain but it is just too consistent to be a normal sand blast. It appears to have been rusticated and then blasted lightly. It has a dark brown stain as an undercoat and a light brown over the top. The high points on the finish are lighter brown and the smooth portions are also lighter brown.
The bowl had a pretty heavy cake and the lava had overflowed onto the rim. The finish was dirty but otherwise in decent shape under the grime. The rim appeared to be in good shape under the grime and there were no nicks or dings in the outer or inner edge of the rim. The stem that came with the pipe was not the original and it had been poorly fit to the shank. It was narrower than the shank and pinched at the saddle portion. It still had all of the fill marks from the person who had fit it to the shank. The underside of the button and a large chunk of the underside of the stem were missing. I would not be sad to throw away this poorly cut broken stem.
Inside the shank was pretty dirty and plugged. I could not blow air through the pipe and did not dare to try sucking on the shank. Who knows what might end up in my mouth! I would need to remedy that situation and I would need to make a stem for it. This would be a beautiful little pipe to go with the Savinelli Classica once it was finished – kind a light and a dark version of the same shape. At this point little did I know what kind of surprise lay ahead for me as I cleaned it up and restored this little pipe. The photo below shows the two pipes together. The next four photos give a clear picture of the state of the pipe – its finish, broken stem and tarred and cake rim and bowl. You can also see what I mean when I say that the finish is far to uniform for a sand blast but looks to have both a blast and a rustication. Someone help me out on this if you have any information.
I went through my can of stems and found a clear acrylic taper stem that would work perfectly with this pipe and with a little shaping would go well with the dark look of the finish. The tenon almost fit perfectly from the start. I only needed to lightly sand it to get a snug fit against the shank. The diameter of the stem was a little bigger than the shank of the pipe all the way around but would easily be shape to fit well.
If I had known what I found out later in the refurbishing process I would never have taken the next steps in the clean up. But I was oblivious so I did them unwittingly. I used the smallest PipNet reamer cutting head to take back the cake to what I thought was bare briar. I used a small pen knife to even up the job of cutting back the cake to smooth.
I scrubbed the outside of the bowl and the rim with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush and fine bristle brass tire brush to clean off the tars and lava that had overflowed the top of the bowl. I rinsed the pipe under warm water to remove the soap and the grime and dried it off with a cotton towel. The cleaned finish even more clearly looks to be a manufactured look to approximate a sandblast finish. But it was a great tactile finish and once polished would look great.
In the photo above you can see what looks like a smooth ring around the inside of the bowl. This was my first clue that things were not necessarily as they appeared. I went back to read a post on Facebook by Geoff Carmell about a Citation pipe he had found. Sure enough the finish was the same and the ring around the inside edge of the bowl was a meerschaum lining. With the way I had man handled it – reaming and scrubbing with the brass bristle brush it is a wonder that I had not damaged the bowl. I would do some work on cleaning that edge a little more gingerly later. Now I had to fit the new stem.
I sanded the stem with a Dremel and sanding drum carefully working it down to the same diameter as the shank and fitting the flow of the curves on the oval shank. This has to be done carefully and with a steady hand or you have to repair the damaged shank or cut another stem to fit. I proceed carefully and slowly. The photos below show the rough fit of the stem after the Dremel and sanding drum work.
I sanded the rough fit stem with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the scratches and fine tune the fit to the shank. I also sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to further fine tune the fit.
The next photos show the newly fitted stem and what the pipe will look like with the clear stem. It still needs a lot of sanding including file work on the airway and the button. It has a small airhole in the end of the button but I will need to cut and shape a slot.
All of the internal work and the work on shaping a slot are done with my collection of needle files. It looks like a lot of files but I usually only use three different files – a round, an oval and a flat oval. I use both the larger and the smaller files in these three shapes.
The slot is progressing from a round hole to more of an oval shape that matches the shape of the button. Still a lot of filing to do to get it finished. I worked on the button, slot, and airway to smooth things out and open them up with the smaller files as well. When I drilled the airway to turn the tenon the drill left a ridge on the inside of the airway in the stem that is a bear to sand out. I worked on it until it was as smooth as I could get it. There is still a small line in the airway but it is smoother than it was when I started. I am going to have to get some tapered drill bits. That would have made this task a minor hiccup in the process rather than a several hour ordeal. The airway is wide open and takes a fluffy pipe cleaner with ease.
I sanded the end of the button and slot with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the scratches and then went through the micromesh pads to polish it. I worked the stem over with micromesh sanding pads, wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with the remaining pads 3200-12000 grit.
With the stem done I figured I could put it off no longer. I had to work on the airway. It was seriously clogged. I could not push a paper clip through or even an ice pick. I used the drill bit on the KLEENREEM and could not get it through. I had to soak it with an alcohol wetted pipe cleaner to soften the plug and then I used a paper clip to push through the plug finally. Then I had to work through the drill bit and the pipe cleaners to get all of the gunk out. Finally I have good airflow. I cleaned out the shank with alcohol and pipe cleaners until they were clean. I cleaned the meerschaum lining on the rim with micromesh sanding pads and patiently just sanding the meer edge and the bowl. I was able to get much of the tars off the meer and now it shows golden. There are several spots where it is stained very dark. I buffed the bowl and rim with Blue Diamond and did the same to the stem. I gave the stem several coats of carnauba wax and the hand waxed the bowl with Conservators Wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean flannel buff and then with a microfibre cloth to raise the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I like the way it came out. (In the photos of the full pipe the stem came out looking opaque but it is absolutely clear as can be seen in the close up photo.)