Blog by Steve Laug
My brother sent me another box of pipes that he had picked up on eBay and in different shops. Included in this lot was a suede leather pipe pouch. It was dried out and worn with a zipper on the top and a zipper on the bottom. I unzipped the top area and found that it was canvas lined and had an old 3 way pipe tool inside. I unzipped the bottom and found a small compact Dublin pipe. It was a mess and looked well smoked and poorly cared for. The finish was worn and dirty but had an interesting sandblast poking through. The rim was caked with lava and it was hard to see any of the blast on the surface. The bowl had a very thick, hard cake inside that would need to go. The pipe was stamped Butz Choquin over Capitan on the underside of the shank. At the stem shank union it had the shape number 1635. The mouthpiece did not sit against the shank. There was a gap on both sides with the stem touching in the middle. When held up the light this gap was angled and large. It was also wider on the underside of the stem than the topside. The stem was oxidized and dirty. The slot in the button was closed to the size of a small thumb tack. I took some pictures of the pipe before I started working on it (I remembered to do that once again!). You can see the issues that I pointed out above as you look at the photos. I took some close up photos of the rim/bowl and the stem to try to capture how dirty this pipe was when I removed it from the pouch. In the photo of the stem you can see the gap I mentioned at the stem shank union. I decided to try a variety of methods to try to tighten up the fit of the stem. I started by carefully facing the shank on a topping board. I have had success in the past with this and was hoping that it would solve the issue.I also used a sharp knife to bevel the end of the mortise thinking that it would better accommodate the rise around the tenon.But none of these measures solved the issue of the fit against the shank. The fit was better but the gap remained. I would need to come up with another solution. I laid that issue aside and reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer. After reaming I used a brass brush to clean off the buildup on the rim. I was able to get rid of the thick tars and reveal the sandblast that was underneath.I scrubbed the finish on the bowl with acetone and cotton pads to remove the grime and grit in the crevices of the blast. The more I looked at the pipe the more I wondered if someone had not cut off the end of the shank to shorten it or to remove damaged areas. The number stamping was really close to the stem even before I faced it. I worked on the stem to clean it up. I used a dental pick to open the slot on the end and then used pipe cleaners and alcohol to clean out the tars and oils.I cleaned out the shank at the same time with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. While I was at it I thought a band might look good on the pipe and give me a clean edge to fit the stem against. I went through my box of bands and found a round one that was the correct diameter. I squashed it to the shape of the shank and heated it with a lighter. I pressed it onto the shank. It covered the shape number but did not affect the rest of the stamping.I liked the classic look of the nickel band on the shank of the Dublin and figured that once I had polished it and the stem I would have a good looking pipe. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the bite marks, the tooth chatter and the build up around the button. It also loosened the oxidation. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and gave it a rub down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit micromesh pads and then gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it a final coat of oil. I let the oil dry. I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to raise the shine on the stem and the band. I lightly buffed the bowl so as not to damage the sandblast. I gave the bowl a light coat of carnauba wax and the stem several coats of wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad and then by hand with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I think the band gave this particular pipe a touch of class. The pipe is a beautiful example of this shape. Thanks for looking.