Daily Archives: May 15, 2016

Gotta Love this Sandblast on the Ehrlich Diamond Shank Bent Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

When I saw this Ehrlich Sandblast Diamond Shank bent Billiard I was immediately drawn to the cragginess of the blast on the bowl. The deep lines and grooves of the blast that go all around the bowl are really nicely done. The ridges and grooves flow with the cut of the pipe and give it a distinctive flare that I was taken by. The finish was worn but in decent shape in the EBay photos but it still looked good. When I picked up the pipe from my brother on an April visit I could not wait to work on it. I took these photos to show the state of the pipe when I received it. The finish was worn and dirty – lots of grime in the deep grooves. The rim was pretty clean. I field reamed it when I was at my brothers and took back the cake that was there to bare briar. The shank had a smooth portion on the left underside where the EHRLICH stamp resides. I have no idea how to tell the age of their pipes as all the ones I have had over the years have had the same stamping. Some added a second line – Supreme, etc. – but this one only had Ehrlich. The band on the shank end is stamped Sterling. It was obviously put on the shank after the blast and was a shop cosmetic addition. It does not hide any cracks in the shank. The stem was oxidized and had some serious bite marks on the underside that would need to be addressed. I liked the shortness of the stem as it gave the pipe a compact look that worked with this pipe.Erl1 Erl2 Erl3 Erl4I took some close-up photos of the rim and the stem to show their condition. The rim had no buildup or tars on it. The thin edges were lightly grooved – almost looked like the pipe maker had rusticated the rim to match the look of the bowl rather than risk sandblasting it. The stem was another story. The top side had lots of small dents that looked like they had been buffed out and the result was a wavy top surface. The underside had deep bite marks and tooth indentations that amazingly did not break through the surface and leave holes. I think that the thickness of the stem prevented the bite marks from going through to the airway. The sharp edge of the button and the top and bottom surfaces were pretty much obliterated by the “chomper” who had previously owned this pipe. Erl5 Erl6 Erl7I cleaned out the deep tooth marks on the stem with alcohol and cotton swabs. I removed the debris in the pits and grooves with a dental pick. I dried off the stem and then filled the bite marks with black super glue. I built up the button and filled in the sharp groove. I would need to recut that once the glue had cured. I laid the stem aside to let the glue harden.Erl8I scrubbed the grooves and ridges of the bowl and shank with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap. I rinsed the bowl under running water and dried it off. The scrubbing had done a great job removing all of the grit and grime in the ridges and grooves of the sandblast.Erl9 Erl10 Erl11 Erl12 Erl13While the stem repair cured I worked on the bowl. I wiped it down to remove any remaining dust and then put a large cork in the bowl so that I could hold on to it while staining the bowl. I used a dark brown aniline stain that had been thinned to 50% with isopropyl alcohol to restain the bowl. I flamed it to set the stain in the blast.Erl14 Erl15 Erl16 Erl17I wiped down the bowl with alcohol on cotton pads to make it a bit more transparent and allow the dark black in the grooves to show through.Erl18 Erl19I hand buffed the bowl with a shoe brush to get a bit of a shine on the briar.Erl20With the externals pretty well cleaned up and restored I addressed the internals of the bowl and shank. I cleaned out the mortise and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. To my surprise there was not much tobacco debris or oil in the shank. What came out with the cleaning was the original brown stain. Evidently the bowl had been dipped in stain. The amount of stain that came out on the pipe cleaners and cotton swabs was amazing. You can see it in the photo below. I scrubbed it until it was clean and I could see bare briar on the sides of the mortise.Erl21I sprayed the stem repair with some accelerator to harden the super glue more quickly. I decided to use it this time. I usually let the repair cure over night, but this time I was a bit impatient. When the glue was hard to the touch I used a series of flat needle files to begin flattening the repair and shaping the sharp edge of the button on both sides of the stem.Erl22 Erl23 Erl24 Erl25With the button edges cleaned up and the slot opened slightly with the files I sanded the stem surface with 180 and 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repairs and minimize the file marks in the vulcanite.Erl26 Erl27I wet sanded both sides of the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to blend in the repair on the underside. I rubbed it down with a coat of Obsidian Oil. Erl28 Erl29I dry sanded both sides with 3200-4000 grit sanding pads to further blend in the patch on the underside. By this point it was beginning to disappear into the shine of the stem. I gave it another coat of oil. Erl30 Erl31I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it a final coat of oil and let it sit until the oil was dry.Erl32 Erl33I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond and lightly touched the blast with the polish. Too heavy a touch and the grooves fill in with the polishing compound so it is critical to have a very light touch. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I sparingly applied some Conservator’s Wax to the bowl and hand buffed it with a shoe brush and with a clean buffing pad. I finished by hand buffing the pipe with a microfibre cloth to give depth to the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I really like the way the stain turned out and I am pleased with the repair to the stem. Thanks for looking.Erl34 Erl35 Erl36 Erl37 Erl38 Erl39 Erl40

Restoring a Pair of Mountbatten Authors

Blog by Steve Laug

My brother sent me pictures of the first pipe in this pair of Mountbattens and wondered what I thought of it. We decided that it was worth a bid as the shape interested me. I had no idea who produced Mountbatten pipes, but this one had the look of an older one. The narrow taper on the stem back to the button, the darker stain, the narrow slot in the rounded button and the stepped down tenon all pointed to a pipe from an older time period. This one was stamped on top of the shank Mountbatten over Made in England. On the right side of the oval shank it bore the shape number 819. The finish was in decent shape other than a badly beat up rim top. The cake in the bowl was pretty thick. The stamping was distinct and clear. There were some dents and dings in the bowl sides. The stem had what appeared to be a surface logo on top of the saddle. It was not stamped and was peeling on one edge. It was oxidized and had some tooth marks on the top and underside near the button edge. The slot was so narrow that a pipe cleaner would not easily pass through to the bowl.Mt1Mt2 Mt3 Mt4He sent a picture of the second one as well – same shape as the first but having a different shape number and a Lucite stem. It was a newer version of the pipe. The shape was similar but slightly smaller. The taper on the stem was not as drastic and flowed to the button ending at the button almost the same width as the beginning at the saddle. The button shape, the shape and style of the slot in the button end, the stamping of the M on the top of the saddle all were signs of a newer version. This one was stamped on top of the shank Mountbatten over Royal. On the underside of the shank it was stamped Made in London over England. Under that near the stem shank union was the shape number. It was different from the older one – 207. The finish on this one was lighter and more of a matte. There were also quite a few fills in the sides of the bowl that were pink putty. They were pretty well blended into the grain so they would be fine. The bowl had a light cake in it and the beveled inner edge of the rim was darkened and had some lava that ran over the top edge. The Lucite stem was in good shape with some small tooth marks on the top and underside near the button.Mt5 Mt6 Mt7 Mt8This would be a fun pair of pipes to clean up and restore. Before I started to work on them I decided to do a bit of research on the brand. I started with my usual first stop – PipePhil’s Logo and Stampings site. I found out there that the pipe was made by Charatan. There were pictures of a variety of stampings on the stem and some beautiful looking pipes but no other information. Here is the link to that page: http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-m7.html.

I did some further digging and found a link on Pipes Magazine’s forum where the brand was discussed: http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/mountbatten-pipe. There was a discussion on that thread regarding the brand. Quite a few of the respondents originally said that the brand was a Charatan second. There was one dissenting voice that led to more responses similar in tone. The fellow said that the pipe was not a second. There was a quote from another site.

I googled the information and found that the quote came from a thread on pipes.org. Here is the link: http://pipes.org/forums/messages/23/45025.html?1169997817 I quote the original dissenter on the Pipes Magazine site in full because of the information that it gives. The original poster was Bill Ramsey. Here is Bill’s reply:

“Friends, after 40 years of nosing around pipes, what I have gleened is this: Charatan sold its seconds under private labels and later acquired the English rights for Ben Wade for just this purpose. Mountbatten, on the other hand was not a “second”(in that there was some physical deformity in the pipe) but rather a first line production from Charatan’s apprentice program. Each Charatan carver might have four or six apprentices at any one time of various skill levels. As they improved and started cutting pipes themselves, these pipes had to move… thus the Mountbatten. These were made on Charatan tooling with Charatan materials and teaching. Bear in mind that there was a high attrition rate and , perhaps, one apprentice in nine or ten made it to cutting their own bowls much less a Charatan carver. This is why you see more Charatans than Mountbattens on the market. You’re never going to put your kid through college by selling one but you’ve got a day to day workhorse of the first order. Good luck and happy puffing.”

That was just the kind of information I had been looking for. I close this section on the history of the brand with a quote that pretty well sums up the details that I had learned. It is taken from the same conversation that is traced in the last link above. “Yup now I know Mountbatten pipes were the fruit of an apprentice’s labor made under the supervision of a Master Pipe Maker at Charatan, most likely in the pre-Lane era; not a second, but a “sub-brand” (even though many experts still classify them as seconds anyway).”

A bit better educated about the pipes I was working on I was ready to start the refurbishing process on them both. I took some close up photos of the rims of both pipes. The first one is the older 819 pipe and the second is the newer 207 bowl. The damage to the first bowl would require topping while that on the second was less extensive and would only need a cleanup.Mt9 Mt10I set up my topping board and topped the 819 carefully so as not to remove more of the top than necessary to flatten and remove the damage to the outer edge of the bowl and rim.Mt11 Mt12

I reamed the bowl of the newer bowl with the Savinelli Pipe Knife and took out the thin cake that was on the walls. I used a flat penknife blade scrape the lava from the rim face and the inner bevel on the rim and then wet sanded the top with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. The photo below shows the cleaned up rim surfaces.Mt13 Mt14 Mt15I carefully scrubbed the bowl walls and shanks with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the grime. It did not take much scrubbing to clean up both bowls.Mt16 Mt17 Mt18 Mt19 Mt20 Mt21 Mt22 Mt23 Mt24

I sanded the topped bowl on the older, darker pipe with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads until the scratches left behind by the topping were gone. I then stained the top of the bowl with a dark brown stain pen. I stained the top of the lighter, newer bowl with a light brown stain pen to match the bowl sides.Mt25 Mt26

I cleaned the internals of both pipes: mortise, airway in the shank and stem and the slot in the button with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners.Mt27 Mt28 Mt29 Mt30

The stem clean up on each of the pipes was slightly different. The vulcanite stem needed the most attention. I sanded the tooth marks on the top and bottom side of the stem next to the button with 220 grit sandpaper and followed that with 280-600 grit sandpaper. I soaked it in Oxyclean overnight to soften the oxidation. I removed it in the morning and after drying it off scrubbed it with Meguiar’s Scratch X2.0 to remove the softened oxidation.Mt31 Mt32 Mt33The Lucite stem was much easier to work on. I sanded the tooth marks on both the top and underside of the stem at the button with 220 grit sandpaper to remove them. It took some focused sanding to remove the two marks but once I was done sanding them they were no longer visible.Mt34 Mt35With the oxidation taken care of on the vulcanite stem and the tooth marks removed from both stems it was time to work on them with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded both stems with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads.Mt36 Mt37I wiped the vulcanite stem down with Obsidian Oil and then dry sanded both stems with 3200-4000 grit micromesh sanding pads.Mt38 Mt39I wiped down the vulcanite stem with another coat of oil. I sanded both stems with 6000-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I gave the vulcanite stem a final coat of oil and set it aside. Once the oil dried I would put the stems on the bowls and buff them.Mt40 Mt41I put the stems back on the pipes and gave them a final buff with Blue Diamond polish on the wheel. I gave both multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed them with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed them with a microfibre cloth to add depth to the shine. The finished pair are shown in the photos below. The young apprentice carvers at Charatan did a great job in shaping and finishing these two pipes. They look great together. The mystery to me is the different number stamps on the pipes. They are similar in shape even though the newer is a little smaller. They look like they came from the same shape chart in terms of appearance. I suppose I will never know why the numbers are different but I do know that both should be great smoking pipes. Thanks for looking.Mt42 Mt43 Mt44 Mt45 Mt46 Mt47 Mt48 Mt49 Mt50 Mt51 Mt52