Daily Archives: April 9, 2016

A Challenging Yello-Bole Chesterfield

Blog by Aaron Henson

Although this is a standalone write up, it is also part 2 of an adventure I started with the rustication of a bent billiard about a month ago.

I found this Yello-Bole Chesterfield at a local flea market in town. It was part of a large estate collection, most of which were unsmoked uniquely carved pipes. My eye, however, was immediately attracted to the Peterson-like shape with military bit and P-lip stem and I was surprised to see that it was a Yello-Bole. The pipe was a bit grimy and oxidized with burn marks but after some talking we agreed on a price and I took it home.Chesterfield1The stampings on the bowl were very clear and deep, some of the nicest I have seen on an estate pipe that is as well used as this one. The left side shank read YELLO-BOLE over HONEY CURED BRIAR over CHESTERFIELD with the KBB inside the clover leaf on the left. The band was stamped with KB&B inside the clover leaf over NICKEL PLATED. The right side shank was stamped with shape number 2816C. The stem had the Yello-Bole yellow circle inset in the top and SOLID RUBBER stamped deep into the underside of the stem.

A quick search online and I was able to use the markings to date the pipe to the 1933-1936 time manufacturing period.

The briar was in great shape with beautiful bird’s eye pattern. The pipe was dusty and grimy and after wiping down with an alcohol soaked cotton pad I continued with my assessment. The rim was coated with a heavy crust of tar and there was a deep burn mark on the outside of the rim (major issue number 1). The bowl did not have a large amount of cake so I had to assume that the previous owner had reamed out at some point. And perhaps it had been over reamed, because the air hole entered the bowl about 2/3 the way down the chamber wall. This would lead to a mouth full of hot ash when you were half way through the bowl (major issue number 2). There were some minor bumps and scratches in the surface of the bowl but nothing that could not be buffed out.Chesterfield2 Chesterfield3The stem was in great shape. It was heavily oxidized with some minor tooth chatter but the airway was clear and the stinger was intact and in great condition.Chesterfield4I set the stem to soak in a Oxiclean solution and turned to the stummel. First I reamed the chamber back to bare wood. Next, I tried to clean the rim with Oxiclean on a wet green pad but the tar was just too stubborn so I resorted to a topping board and lightly sand away the tar build up. This is where I made my first mistake: I scuffed off a bit of the nickel plating when topping the bowl (I still don’t have a fix for this!). I have thought about taking the ring off and having it re-plated but several attempts to remove the ring with heat have not been successful.

To address the burn mark on the rim I used a worn piece of 220 grit sand paper I removed the burned wood trying not to remove any of the sound briar under the burn. I was surprised to see how deep the burn went and was at a bit of a loss on how to address it. As you can see below, a significant amount of wood as damaged.Chesterfield5I figured I had two options: 1) replace the burned material with glue/briar dust or 2) sand the rest of the rim to match and change the shape of the pipe. In either case I was going to need to refinish the briar so I wiped it down with acetone to remove as much of the finish as I could while I decided what I was going to do.

Looking into the chamber again, I listed out my options for addressing the air way issue. Again I came up with two options; 1) fill in the bottom 1/3 of the bowl with pipe mud, or 2) drill a new airway that comes out at the bottom of the chamber. I didn’t like either option. The first would have been a very large fill and volume change for the pipe and the second was fraught with potential problems – chiefly aligning the drill bit to come out at just the right point in the bottom of the bowl

So I figured it was time for some consultation. I outlined the issue in an email and included some picture and sent them off to Steve – our worthy “Professor of Pipe-ology” and blog host.

While I waited for Steve’s response I cleaned the inside of the shank and with alcohol soaked cotton swabs and pipe cleaners until then came out as clean as they went in. I also took the stem from the Oxiclean bath and removed the loose oxidation with a magic eraser. I cleaned the internals of the stem then polished it with micromesh pads 1500 – 12000. I used mineral oil every three pads to freshen the vulcanite and give the pads some traction. There was only one minor tooth mark that didn’t raise with heat and I filled it with a dab of black super glue and sanded it smooth with the 1500 mirco-mesh pad.Chesterfield6 Chesterfield7Steve responded with the recommendation of building up the burn spot with super glue and briar dust confirmed that I had the right idea. I was hoping that he had another trick up his sleeve because I knew that the repair would have to be covered up with either a very dark stain or rusticated. I applied three separate layers of clear super glue and briar dust to build up the rim then carefully sanded the repair to blend it into the shape of the rim. Chesterfield8 Chesterfield9I came across and older post where Kirk Fitzgerald rusticated a Peterson that looked very similar to my Chesterfield. Taking some note, I decided to try a similar type rustication. I lightly mark a ½” band around the top of the bowl with a pencil and corresponding area on the bottom of the bowl to balance the appearance. Using the 1/8” carving tool on a Dremel I added a dimpled texture in offset rows. I was glad I had tried using this tool on the previous project because the carving tool did have a tendency to skip on the harder grain. Chesterfield10The final texture hid the repair and was not so extensive as to hide the grain. I sanded the outside of the bowl with micro mesh pads 1500 – 3600 to smooth out the scratches.

Instead of drilling a new airway, which posed the risk of additional misalignment, Steve recommended using a needle file to elongate the opening so it extended to the bottom of the bowl. The excess space could then be filled with plaster creating a new airway. This proved to be tedious work. Below are two rough cross-section of the pipe. On the left is the airway as it was and on the right is the revised airway (in theory).Chesterfield11Filing was a slow process and it took some effort to keep the elongated hole from drifting off course. I went slow and checked the progress often. Once the hole was about where I thought it should be I used the stick of a cotton swab as the place holder for the new airway. It was the rolled paper type stick that could be bent to match the curve of the bowl. Holding stick in place with a rubber band around the rim I mixed a batch of thick plaster and pushed it into the elongated hole with my finger. When plaster came out the top of the hole I removed the excess from inside the bowl and set it aside to dry for 24 hours. Chesterfield12In my first attempt at this repair, I did not have plaster so I used pipe mud (a slurry of cigar ash and water). This did not work at all. It is great for filling in the bottom of a bowl but it was too loose to stand on its own as a fill/patch. I removed the pipe mud and started over with the plaster.

The next evening, I used 100 grit sand paper wrapped around a ¼” dowel to remove the excess plaster and smooth out the repair. I carefully twisted the swab stick and it came free without damage to the patch. The next time I do this I will coat the stick with wax before securing it in place. The wax should help the stick pull free without bonding to the plaster.

It was time to finish the bowl. I chose to use straight Fiebing’s dark brown stain on the rusticated areas and then wiped it down with alcohol pad. Chesterfield13Next I applied straight light brown to the rest of the bowl. After setting the color with heat I wiped the entire bowl with an alcohol pad to blend the colors. Happy with the results I took the pipe to the buffing station. I buffed the stem and stummel separately so I could get to all the area a little more easily. I started with white buffing compound then finished with multiple coats of carnauba wax.

With the outside of the pipe complete I wanted to cover up the plaster patch inside the bowl so I applied a bowl coating. Using my finger I spread a thin coat of maple syrup evenly over the inside of the bowl then poured in the contents of a dietary charcoal capsule. I put my palm over the top of the pipe and shook the pipe so the charcoal powder covered the inside of the bowl. I set the pipe aside to dry for 5 days before emptying out the loose powder.

I want to say “Thank you” to Steve for his advice on this one… and thank you for reading.Chesterfield14 Chesterfield15 Chesterfield16 Chesterfield17 Chesterfield18

Refreshing a Beautiful and Unusual Clairmont Pipe

Blog by Steve Laug

Once again my brother Jeff scored a beautiful and unusual pipe. It is stamped Clairmont on the left side of the shank. On the underside it is stamped MY PIPE and Handmade Italy. On the right side it bears the stamping 810 (it appears to be double stamped). The briar is naturally finished with no stain. There are some small fills on the shank extension and one on the left side of the bowl on the underside of the outer rim lip. They are small but visible at this point. The bowl had a slight cake in it that was uneven and there were some tobacco remnants on the bottom of the bowl. The top of the rim was dirty as was the rest of the finish. The Cumberland stem was in good shape but there were some light tooth marks on the top and underside next to the button edge. The slot in the end of the stem was rough and uneven. There was some red (maybe Tripoli) in the edges of the slot.Spanu1 Spanu2 Spanu3 Spanu4I took the pipe apart and photographed the parts. The shank insert is pressure fit in the mortise of the bowl. It is a good snug fit with no looseness. The stem fit in the other end is also very snug and clean. The green dot on the Cumberland stem looks good. The tenon on the stem is integral to the stem. The finish on the stem is dull.Spanu5 Spanu6 Spanu7While I really liked the looks of the pipe and knew it was Italian handmade I had no idea who made the brand. The stamping MY PIPE on the underside still has me mystified. I don’t know if the maker stamped it that way or if the first owner had it stamped that way. I will probably never know that but I wanted to know who made this pip as I had never seen this brand. Like always I begin the hunt for information at one of my favourite websites Pipephil’s Logos and Stamping site. It did not take long and I found the information at this link: http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-c5.html.

The site showed a nice looking full bent pipe with a Lucite stem that had the green dot on the top side just as the stem I had did. The stamping was the same in terms of the script Clairmont. The Sardinian Briar * stamp was not present on mine. I found out that the brand was created by Alberto Paronelli in the 1970’s. I found that the pipes were usually crafted by Tom Spanu. Both of those names were familiar to me so that help. I have one of Tom’s Olivewood pipes and love it. The link gave information on the name. It turns out that “Clairmont” is a Francization of “Chiaramonti” which is the birthplace of Tom Spanu.Spanu8Now I knew that I was dealing with a 1970’s era pipe made by Tom Spanu and named after his birthplace. For me this solidified the connection to Spanu. It was time to work on his pipe. As I worked on it I wondered if the MY PIPE stamp on the bottom was stamped by Tom and this was one of his own pipes. I cleaned up the internals of the pipe, reaming the bowl with the Savinelli Pipe Knife and scrubbing out the airways from button to bowl with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. Spanu9 Spanu10 Spanu11 Spanu12I scrubbed down the exterior of the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to remove the grime and oils that were dirtying the natural finish of the bowl and shank extension. I was able to get quite a bit of the rim darkening off this way. The crowned rim top is beautiful.Span14 Spanu13I thought it was fitting to rub down an Italian natural finish pipe with a light coat of olive oil. I rubbed down each of the briar parts of the pipe and put it back together. The olive oil brought life back to the briar and the grain began to shine through. This is a beautiful piece of briar.Spanu14 Spanu15 Spanu16 Spanu17I set the bowl and shank aside and worked on the stem. I sanded the surface of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth marks and smooth out the flat surfaces.Spanu18 Spanu19I sanded the end of the button to clean up some of the nicks and damage there. I also used a needle file to clean up the inside of the slot and smooth out the lines.Spanu20I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to smooth out the scratches. I dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit micromesh pads to progressively polish the stem and bring the depth of the Cumberland back to life.Spanu21 Spanu22 Spanu23I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the wheel and then gave the entire pipe several coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to add depth to the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I like this one a lot so I think it will probably stay in my collection. Thanks for looking!Spanu24 Spanu25 Spanu26 Spanu27 Spanu28 Spanu29 Spanu30 Spanu31