By Al Jones
I was overdue for a challenge pipe as lately, most of my personal estate purchases have been in pretty decent shape. I was also looking for the right pipe to attempt Dave G’s stain stripping process (documented earlier on this blog). This one came from a forum buddy in India, who had it sent directly to me.
Taking the pipe out of the box, it looked pretty beat. The bowl top was damaged and it would surely need topped. The P-lip button had some teeth marks and the nickel band was corroded and dinged. It did appear to be a good candidate to test the new stripping process.
My smile turned to a frown as I attempted to remove the stem. It was impossibly stuck. To further complicate the stem removal, the stem was plugged shut as well, which didn’t allow me to get any alcohol into the bowl from that vantage point. I tried dribbling in some alcohol, but it didn’t appear much was going into the bowl (or any!). I put the pipe in the freezer for a few hours, but no dice on stem movement (recommendation: always tell your wife when you put a pipe in the freezer). Next, I tried soaking the entire pipe in alcohol, which also failed. Last last night, I sprayed in some PB Blaster, automotive penetrating fluid. This morning, it was still stuck fast. I used a piece of thin wire to work it into the stem, which was filled with some nasty looking crud. This did eventually allow me to get a bristle cleaner soaked in alcohol into the stem. I then inserted another alcohol soaked cleaner and dropped it onto the bowl of alcohol again. After an hour, I could detect some slight movement and a few moments later, I had success.
The system sump was filled with tobacco build-up, which took an hour to clean out with towels, bristle brushes and cleaners all dipped in alcohol. This pipe is a poster child for advocating the frequent cleaning of Peterson System pipes. The stem went into an Oxy-clean soak.
I topped the bowl using 150 grade paper on a flat work surface. Next it was sanded to a smoother finish using 320 grade paper and then wet sanded with 800 grade. The bowl was reamed and incredibly, in fantastic condition with no issues inside. I then soaked the bowl with sea salt and alcohol (might have been redundant by that point). Here is the bowl after topping.
Next up was to strip the factory finish. I used a heat gun to pull off the nickel cap. While it was hot and malleable, I used a dowel to push out a few of the dings. Using Dave G’s stripping method, I wiped the bowl down with Murphy’s Oil Soap (being sure to not get any into the bowl interior). I then wiped it down with alcohol. A solution was prepared using warm water and a generous helping of Oxy-Clean powder. I heated the bowl with a heat gun as Dave thinks that helps open the pores of the wood. Using some 0000 steel wool, I scrubbed the pipe down. I used a cloth around the nomenclature. Not surprisingly, the stripping process revealed some fills and actually pulled the putty. I applied a few drops of super glue to each spot and pressed in some briar dust. The spots were then sanded smooth with 800 grit wet paper. The nickel band was glued back in place. Below we see the bowl stripped and fills ready to sand smooth.
Now the pipe was ready to restain. I used some diluted Fieblings Medium Brown stain and set the stain with flame. The bowl was then buffed with White Diamond and waxed with Carnuba Wax.
I removed the stem from the Oxy-clean solution and filled the two tooth marks on top with black Superglue and accelerator. I used a file to reshape the button end then with 800 grit paper wrapped around the needle file. The oxidation on the stem was removed using 800 grit paper, than 1500 and 2000 grades. I followed that with 8,000 and 12,000 grade micromesh sheets. It was then buffed with White Diamond and Meguiars Plastic polish.
This one required most of the pipe restoration techniques and was a fun challenge. Here is the completed pipe.