Blog by Steve Laug
This pipe came to me with the Meerschaum Sultan that I restemmed. It is stamped Shamrock on the top of the shank and “A Peterson’s Product” Made in the Republic of Ireland on the underside. On the right side near the bowl shank union it was stamped 268. I looked the number up and it is the shape number for a Zulu shape. The gentleman in Chile wrote: “I only have the bowl (I’m not acquainted with the minor brand) with an inappropriate mouthpiece which makes it impossible to smoke. I don’t remember how it got into my collection and certainly it’s not a pipe I purchased myself. It has a heavy cake and is a second-hand. If a proper mouthpiece could be made and a proper tune-up, it could make a fine pipe.” He included the following pictures. When it arrived I took it out of the box to deal with when I had finished repairing the Sultan Meerschaum pipe. It was a nice piece of briar with mixed grain and a worn finish. The stamping on the top of the shank was clear and sharp. The stamping on the underside showed clearly on the left side as you read it but as you got to the right side it was fainter. The rim was dirty and had a flaky coat of lava overflowing from the inside of the bowl and the thick cake there. The inner and outer rim looked good with no dents or chips. The bowl sides, front and back had some light dents in the finish. The stem was a billiard stem that had been stuck in the shank. It fit snugly but absolutely did not match the oval shank.
I took a close up photo of the rim and the bowl to show the thickness of the cake. Toward the bottom of the bowl it got thicker and reduced the size of the bowl at the airway. I looked at several Peterson shape # 268 Zulus to get an idea of what the stem looked like originally on this pipe. I went through my can of stems and found several that would work on this pipe. The one that was the closest to matching the diameter of the shank of the pipe was a brand new stem blank that still had the castings on the sides and end of the button. The slot was constricted but the length and shape would be easy to match to the shank. I drilled open the airway to accept the rod of the PIMO tenon tool. And then set up the tenon tool on a cordless drill. The current tenon was too long for the tool to cut all the way to the end of the tenon so I used the Dremel and sanding drum to shorten the tenon. I put it on the tool and adjusted the set screws and took off the first round of material. I did three adjustments to turn the tenon down to a fit in the mortise. I fine tuned the fit with 220 grit sandpaper.
I took off the majority of the excess vulcanite with the Dremel and sanding drum. I put it back in the shank and the fit was better. The rest of the work would have to be done by hand sanding. I hand sanded the stem until it was smooth and the transition between the shank and stem needed some fine tuning then set the stem aside and worked on the bowl. Contrary to my normal pattern I wiped off the outside of the bowl and shank with acetone on cotton pads to remove the finish and the grime that had been ground into the briar. Once it was gone there was some nice grain showing through.
The top of the bowl was caked and the lava was very hard. I tried to scrape it carefully with a pen knife and gave up. I resorted to lightly topping the bowl on the topping board to remove the thick lava build up.
I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer starting with the first cutting head. I finished with the second cutting head which was the same diameter as the inside of the bowl. I cut the cake back to bare briar so I could assess the inner bowl walls. They looked very good with little burn or damage. The cake had protected them.
I fine tuned the sanding on the stem and shank fit with 220 grit sandpaper and shaped the stem to match the oval of the shank. The flow of the bowl and stem were looking really good at this point in the process.
I cleaned out the inside of the mortise and the airway in the stem and shank with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I used the dark brown stain pen to touch up the rim and the end of the shank to match the stain colour on the rest of the pipe. I rubbed it down with a light coat of olive oil to give some life to the dry wood. I gave the bowl a quick buff with Blue Diamond and then gave it one coat of carnauba wax and hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth. The “new” look of the bowl is shown in the photos below.
With the bowl stained and oiled I used a heat gun to bend the stem and get the proper angles that I had found online on the 268 shaped pipes. I heated the stem until it was pliable and then bent it over a round can to get a smooth angle. I took photos of the pipe with a bent stem to give a feel for the finished look.
I fine tuned the fit of the stem to the shank by beveling the inner edge of the mortise in the shank and then cleaning the area around the tenon stem joint. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh and then rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit micromesh pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding with 6000-12000 grit micromesh pads and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I laid the stem aside to dry.
I put the stem on the pipe and buffed the entirety with Blue Diamond and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad and then by hand with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is ready to go back to Chile. Sometime early this week I will pack the two repaired pipes up and make the trip to FEDEX to send them back. I look forward to hearing what the two of them smoke like for the Chilean pipeman. I like the new looks of both of these pipes and I think he will as well. But I have to tell you I am a sucker for the Zulu shaped Petersons. This one is a beauty!