I love the odd and unusual – Restoring a Jima

Blog by Steve Laug

JimaMy brother picked this one up on eBay for me and as I had never seen one or worked on it I was quite excited to see what it was like. For some reason I love the odd and unusual attempts at the cooler, drier smoke and this one fits that category – or at least it did when I saw it.

I brought it to the work table this evening after work and tried to figure out how to take it apart. Rather than break it I took photos before I did any research and also used my lens to read the imprint on the underside of the stem and on the tube in the centre of the shank. The shank tube was easy as it read JIMA on the top and the bottom sides. The topside of the stem also read JIMA in gold stamping. It was the underside that was a bit harder to decipher.

Here is what I read: running along the middle of the stem centered between the button and the rest of the stamping is the number 95295. I have no idea what that means but perhaps it has something to do with the colour of the pipe. Then in upper case letters, stamped near the shank/stem junction in a stack are the words: Breveté France over & Etranger over Modèle Deposé over Made in France. The stem is clearly plastic. The edges of the stem are not tapered from the top and bottom surfaces but are squared off. The button is comfortable and not too thick and the slot is wide open and takes a fluffy pipe cleaner.

There is a larger tube in the center of the shank between the metal supports of the shank that has ridges and is capped on both ends. I did not want to damage it so I left it alone until I did a bit of research to learn how to take it apart. The exterior bowl is a plastic cup with a metal ring on the top that holds in what appears to be a clay bowl. The bowl is quite clean with no cake or tars. The airway enters the bowl at the bottom side back in line with the tube on the exterior. The ring on the top is gold coloured metal. The underside of the plastic bowl has five holes arranged like the number five on a dice. I took some photos of the pipe to shows what I have been describing above. The condition of the pipe was quite good – dirty but really in decent shape. There was some slight tooth chatter on the top and bottom sides of the stem near the button.JimaA JimaBI took some close up photos of the bowl and the stamping on the stem to illustrate what I was seeing.JimaC JimaDWith the description of the pipe and its condition completed above it was time to do a bit of research to see if I could learn about the pipe and also about how to take it apart. I came upon a wealth of information on Pipedia. The advertisement above and the text of the article have been included for ease of access. I thank Pipedia for the information and would encourage you to follow the link https://pipedia.org/wiki/Jima to see the amazing photos of a pipe exactly like the one I am working on. Here is the article:

An innovative system pipe, the “Jima” (for export also known under the name “Garland” and to a lesser extent in the Netherlands) was a pipe with a silver-plated or gold-plated steel metal frame, connecting a plastic mouthpiece to a plastic outer shell that housed the pipe bowl. This plastic pipe came in a few different colors, black and ivory being the most popular and later various mottled pastel shades showing depressing sales.

While the housing was made of hard plastic, the bowl proper was made of pressed white clay which has been mistaken for meerschaum or sepiolite. The bowl was made detachable by using a screw in fitting which could be loosened or tightened using an Allen key. The fittings on both the bowl and evaporator (stinger) used a plastic compression gasket to keep tar and moisture from seeping out and air from leaking in.

The “Jima” was equipped with an innovative filter design previously unemployed which made it an unforgettable part of the system pipe revolution that began in 1880 with the increasing popularity of new, moist aromatic tobaccos. In the “Jima” was found a filter which was made of spiral wound (sometimes double wound) “electrostatic” metal wire dubbed the “filtres serpentins helicoidaux”. It was said that the electrostatic properties of this filter caused the tars and residues to cling more readily to the filter medium. It is more likely that the extreme turbulence produced by this system caused particles of tar to fall and moisture to condensate as the smoke cooled rapidly. In this instance the evaporator worked to great effect relative to the amount of tar and moisture which accumulated in the stem.

To access the filter, the stem (plastic and in other iterations metal) can be unscrewed, by use of a spring system, or simply slid back, tilted downward and finally pulled off. In nearly every instance the words “Breveté France & Etranger” or “Modèle Deposé Made in France” can be found on the underside of the mouthpiece near the stem.

French brand created in the 1960s by Mayeux, which had a very modern look. This modern look was emphasized by the manufacturer in the promotion material. The slogan speaks of “la pipe de l’an 2000” or “The pipe of the year 2000”. The factory was sold to Chapel Frés, which became part of the Berrod-Regad group in 1987. The Jima pipe is no longer made.

I also found several photos of the pipe. The first one comes from the Smoking Metal website (which is a huge resource for information on metal pipes and those made of alternative materials). Here is the link: http://www.smokingmetal.co.uk/pipe.php?page=159. It shows the pipe taken apart so with instructions above and the photo I could had an idea of what I was working toward as I took it apart.jima1I found the second photo of the pipe when I googled pictures of the JIMA pipe. The filter and tube are different but I can see that the threaded insert in the outer bowl the shape of the inner bowl are like. The fitting is shown on the right side of the photo the second item down. Once that fitting was removed the inner bowl lining could be removed. In both photos you can also see the unique filter material that was inside of the centre tube. The bowl to me is truly an odd looking piece with its fins and shape.Jima2After reading the above material and studying the photos I was able to take the inner tube out of the shank. I slid it backwards and dropped it down between the two arms. The filter in this pipe was like that in the first photo above – almost a coiled spring. I decided not to take out the insert on the plastic outer bowl but to clean it while it was in place. If I chose to do so I could remove it with an Allen Key later.Jima3I worked on each section of the pipe separately. I cleaned out the centre tube with cotton swabs and alcohol until it was shiny on the inside. It was amazing how much tar and oil lined the interior of the tube.Jima4I scrubbed the plastic compression gaskets on both the bowl and the stem side of the pipe with cotton swabs and alcohol. They had some tars and oils on them. I cleaned out the airway into the bowl with pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. Looking through the holes in the bottom of the plastic outer bowl I could see that the inside was quite clean. I cleaned out the airway in the mouthpiece with pipe cleaners and alcohol. The tube coming out of the stem end had the airway entrance on top of the tube rather than in the end. It is an interesting contraption.Jima5 Jima6The double spiral wound “electrostatic” metal wire filter, also called the “filtres serpentins helicoidaux” was oily and dirty. I cleaned the interior and the exterior with pipe cleaners and cotton swabs and alcohol. I spread apart the coils and used a brass bristle brush to scrub the wires until they were clean.Jima7 Jima8I scrubbed the exterior of the plastic bowl with alcohol and cotton swabs and pads. I sanded the bowl sides and the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to bring back the shine and remove the scratches in the plastic. I gave the stem and bowl a coating of Obsidian Oil and then sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I gave it a second coat of oil (I know that it is not absorbed into the plastic but the stem is an odd mixture of rubber and plastic and the oil works). I sanded it with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it a final rub down with the oil. Jima9 Jima10 Jima11I put several coats of Conservator’s Wax on the pipe and hand buffed it with a shoe brush and a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown below. It is a unique pipe that is a mixture of system pipe and clay pipe – it should be a unique smoking experience. Thanks for looking.Jima12 Jima13 Jima14 Jima15 Jima16





6 thoughts on “I love the odd and unusual – Restoring a Jima

  1. Vincent


    I just bought one of these used from eBay. It was easy to clean, even the bowl. It truly IS the coolest and cleanest smoke I’ve ever had. One caveat, the airflow is so good that even the fully burnt ashes will stay hot and you can end up smoking charcoal! But seriously, it is the nicest smoking pipe in my collection.

  2. Chris Dumoulin

    One of the guys in our local pipe club has a bunch of Jima pipes and, after learning of my love for French pipes, gifted me one. It is honestly one of the coolest and cleanest smoking pipes in my collection! I was sceptical but, despite looking kinda goofy, the thing delivers on its promise.

  3. Al

    That has to be the most complex smoking apparatus I’ve ever seen. A lot of engineering went into this pipe. Thanks for bringing another unique pipe to us, Steve.


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