Blog by Steve Laug
This is yet another pipe that my brother Jeff picked up in Montana and sent my way. It is stamped Wm Wales on the left side of the shank and on the right side it is stamped Grecian in script. The stamping though a different script than that found on the Carey Magic Inch pipes is similar in the way it is stamped and the stamping of Grecian on the right side of the shank. I did some digging on the internet and found nothing about the brand other than several pipes with the same stamping for sale. There is nothing about the brand on the various pipe information websites. There is nothing about the brand on Who Made That Pipe or in Lopes book so I am left with a bit of a mystery.
The pipe has some pretty decent grain on it. The sides of the bowl have some interesting birdseye grain and the front and the back of the bowl have cross grain on them. The stem is a mix of grains. The finish was worn and dirty. The rim had a cake of tar and grit on the top of the bowl. The inside of the bowl had a hard, thick cake that almost filled the bowl. The rim itself was undamaged and showed no burn marks or damage to either the outside edge of the rim or the inside bevel of the rim. The stem was at first glance workable but upon examination it had a crack in the centre of the button on both the top and bottom sides. There were also tooth marks that were deep and one split the button. The surface of the stem was wavy and rippled from the way it had been buffed. The slot in the stem was clogged and no air would go through the airway.
The next two photos show the damage to the stem. The more I looked at the damage the more I realized that a replacement stem would be less work than fiddling around with repairing the damage on that one.
I tried to ream the bowl with a PipNet reamer and found that the cake was so hard that reamer did not even cut into the surface of the cake. I tried a KLEENREEM reamer and made no headway either so I dropped the bowl in an alcohol bath to soak. It would soften the cake and clean up the grime on the finish of the rim and bowl as a bonus. While it soaked I looked for a new stem in my can of stems and found one that would work quite well. It was a little larger in diameter but once I fit it to the stem some sanding and shaping would take care of that. In the morning I took the bowl out of the alcohol bath and worked on it to ream it. I used the PipNet and the KLEENREEM reamer on the bowl. I also used a pen knife to work at cutting away the hard cake. In the process of reaming I found that the bowl was conical in shape rather than U shaped. I used the drill bit from the KLEENREEM tool to open the airway in the shank.
Once I had cleaned out the shank and the bowl with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs I fit the new stem to the shank. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the tooth chatter and the oxidation. I sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to further remove the scratching and oxidation. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil.
I sanded the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads on the briar and the stem and then rubbed down the stem with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished by dry sanding the stem with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil.
I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the wheel and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean flannel buff to raise the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The grain really shines through in the photos. It is a beautiful piece of briar. I would love to know more about the history of the brand to give more depth to my understanding of the pipe.