Monthly Archives: July 2016

A Berkeley Club 7118 Billiard that turns out to be Sasieni Made

Blog by Steve Laug

Inside the first boxed set of Picadilly Brand Genuine French Rustique Briar pipes that my brother picked up was a straight billiard that did not bear the markings that were on the bent billiard or on the other complete set of Picadilly pipes. This one had a familiar finish to me but I could not put my finger on it and identify it. It was stamped on the underside of the shank with the following: 7118 over Berkeley Club over London Made. The bowl end of the smooth bottom of the shank it was stamped England in an arch. The finish on the bowl sides was very clean. The rim was a bit beaten. The front edge of bowl had been knocked out on a hard surface repeatedly and left a rash. The entire top of the rim was also beaten up and pitted. It was the only part of the bowl that was in rough shape. The stem had some tooth chatter and some light tooth marks on the top and bottom sides near the button. There was some oxidation and a faded stamp with what looked like a B partially circled by a C.Berk2 Berk3I took a close up photo of the bowl and rim to show the cake on the bowl and the damage to the rim surface. I also took a close up photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank.Berk4I went online to Pipephil’s site Logos and Stampings ( and found the brand and the reminder that had niggled at the back of mind. The Berkeley Club with this stamping was made by Sasieni. The photo below came from that website and shows the same finish and the same stamping on both the shank and the stem.Berk1With that in mind I took the pipe apart to have a look at it. I was expecting the pipe to have an inner tube in the tenon. I looked in the bowl and the point extended into the bowl showing a glint of metal. However when I took the pipe apart there was no inner tube. I shined a light down the mortise and airway in the shank and sure enough the tube had broken off in the airway leaving the mortise unobstructed. I looked at the stem and saw the same – broken off slightly inside the tenon leaving it also unobstructed.

I decided to work on the rim top damage by topping the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board. It took some work to remove the damaged portion of the rim. The second photo shows the initial sanding and the third photo shows the finished topping. You can also see the chips in the cake at 12 o’clock in the third photo.Berk5I used the Savinelli Pipe Knife to clean out the cake in the bowl and work on the inside edge of the rim. I was able to remove all of the cake and smooth out the rim edge while keeping it in round in the process.Berk6With that completed I decided to drill out the broken inner tube in the shank of the pipe. I used a drill bit almost the same size as the airway in the inner tube. I increased the size of the bit until it was the same size as the airway and drilled out the broken tube. I never use a power drill when I am doing this – rather I use a cordless drill sans battery (I don’t want to inadvertently hit the trigger and regret it). I turned the shank onto the drill bit until it grabbed onto the tube and I was able to pull it out on the end of the bit. While I was pulling I also used the end of the Savinelli Pipe Knife to push on the end of the inner tube in the bowl. It takes patience but the result leaves behind no damage to the airway or the bowl.Berk7I scrubbed the rustication on the bowl with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap until it was clean. I rinsed it under running water to remove the soap and the debris. I dried it off with a soft cotton towel.Berk8I took some photos of the cleaned and dried pipe to get an idea of what I needed to do with the finish on the bowl and shank. The pipe looks really good other than the top of the rim that I will need to restain and polish.Berk9 Berk10I cleaned out the mortise in the shank and the airway in the shank and the stem. The airway was quite clean thanks to the broken inner tube. The mortise had some tars and oils that took a few cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol to remove. The stem was dirty on the inside and took considerably more pipe cleaners than the shank. I used pipe cleaners and alcohol to clean out the stem airway.Berk11To match the stain on the bowl sides I used a black Sharpie Marker and a dark brown stain pen to restain the rim top and the outer edges of the bowl.Berk12I cleaned up the inner edge of the bowl with a piece of sandpaper wrapped around my finger to smooth out the rough edges of the inner rim. It took a few passes to smooth out the edge but when it was done it looked much better.Berk13I gave the bowl a coat of Conservator’s Wax and buffed the bowl with a shoe brush to bring up the shine.Berk14I used the same method that I spelled out above – a stationary drill and drill bits to remove the broken tube in the tenon. I drilled until the bit caught a hold of the tube and then pulled the tube out of the tenon.Berk15I used some European Gold Rub ‘n Buff to fill in the logo on the stem. I applied it with a cotton swab and then rubbed off the excess. The finished logo is shown in the photo below.Berk16I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding with 6000-12000 grit pads. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry.Berk17 Berk18 Berk19I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the bowl and the stem with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and polish the wax. I buffed it again by hand with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It came out looking really good. This one will eventually be listed for sale on the store. You can send me an email or a message any time if you would like to add it to your collection. Thanks for looking.Berk20 Berk21 Berk22 Berk23 Berk24 Berk25 Berk26

NOS Picadilly Brand Genuine French Rustique Briar

Blog by Steve Laug

My brother bid on a boxed set of pipes that was in a box covered with a green alligator pattern material. Inside the box was a yellow linen lining with a diamond logo on the inside of the lid that read Picadilly Brand Genuine French Rustique Briar Price $15.Pic1When he received it in the mail and opened it the set of pipes inside was not quite what he had expected. There was Redmanol or red Bakelite cigarette holder, a bent billiard with a Remanol or Bakelite stem with an orific button. The shank was stamped Real Briar over Made in France. The stamping was set with gold. The second pipe in the box was a billiard with a vulcanite stem that was notably newer in age than the bent billiard. It was stamped on the underside of the shank with 7118 Berkley Club over London Made. At the bowl end of the shank the word England was stamped in an arc. The fourth indentation which should have had a cigar holder held a Lovat stem from a screw mount shank. It obviously did not go with this set. Thus looking at the set we could see that the cigar holder and the straight billiard were missing.Pic2Not long after receiving the set in the mail he was scanning eBay and found another boxed set that bore the same gold filigree diamond on the lid. It was in a brown vinyl box with a linen coloured lining. The exterior and the interior of the box were in great shape. This one had both the straight and bent billiard and the cigar holder but was missing the cigarette holder. We talked about it and decided to bid on it. He won it and soon it was on his desk next to the other one.Pic3 Pic4He put the cigarette holder from the first case in the second one. He compared the bent billiards and kept the one that came with the second case. The entire set was new old stock. It had not been smoked and it was in great shape. The only issues were that both Bakelite stems were overturned and the surface of each bowl that faced upward was dusty in the grooves and crevices. The bowls were pristine. The cigar holder also was unsmoked though it had obviously been held between someone’s teeth as there were some tooth marks in the top and bottom side near the button. The cigarette holder from the first set was also unused. Putting the four pieces together in the second box gave a full unsmoked new old stock collection. We were excited.Pic5I took the pipes out of the case and lined them up on the work table. The rustication on both billiard pipes was dusty on the exposed side. The rims on both were clean but had some sticky substance on the surface. The Redmanol/Bakelite stems were both oxidized and dull. The stamping on both pipes was gold. The Bakelite stem on both pipes had been overturned. The straight billiard had a paper washer between the shank and the stem to try to compensate for the overturned stem. The surface of the pipe stems and the cigarette holder were all free of tooth marks or dents. The cigar holder was also dusty on the exposed side and the Redmanol/Bakelite stem had some tooth dents on both sides near the button even though the holder was unsmoked. The stem was also overturned on the cigar holder.Pic6I decided to work on the straight billiard first. I took photos of the pipe before I started working on it. You can see the paper washer between the stem and the shank. You can see the sticky substance on the top of the bowl rim.Pic7 Pic8I took a photo of the gold leaf stamping on the shank. The Made in France stamping is double stamped on the Made In portion. France was single stamped.Pic9The tenon was metal and it had glue or something that had been added to the threads to try to align the stem and shank. I removed the paper washer and threw it away. I picked out the glue in the threads with a dental pick. The mortise was threaded directly into the briar.Pic10I used a 1500 grit micromesh sanding pad to remove the sticky substance on the rim top. It was hard and tacky so the micromesh worked well to remove it. The rim surface was clean and undamaged when I was finished.Pic11With the pipe and tenon cleaned up I used a Bic lighter to heat the metal tenon. Once the glue in the stem softened I screwed the stem back in place and aligned the stem and the shank.Pic12I scrubbed the rustication of the bowl and shank with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush. I rinsed it under running water to remove the soap and debris.Pic13I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and rubbed it down with another coat of oil. I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads, gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set the stem aside to dry.Pic14 Pic15 Pic16I lightly buffed the stem with Blue Diamond and gave it several coats of carnauba wax. I gave the bowl a coat of Conservator’s Wax and hand buff it with a shoe brush. I hand buffed the whole pipe with a microfibre cloth to raise a shine. I took a few photos of the finished pipe before moving on to the second one.Pic17 Pic18I worked on the bent billiard next. It had not been smoked and was clean. The stem was overturned. The gold leaf stamping was in great shape and was single stamped. The stem had an orific button and was made out of Redmanol/Bakelite. It was oxidized but in good shape with no tooth marks or chatter. The bowl was in great shape and still pristine new briar. The rim had some sticky material on the top the same as the other billiard. The rustication was in good shape but it was dusty on the exposed side.Pic19Pic20I sanded the rim with a 1500 grit microfibre sanding pad to remove the hardened sticky substance on the top of the rim. I scrubbed the bowl with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the dust from the rustication. I rinsed it under running water to remove the soap and debris and dried it off.Pic21I used the Bic lighter to heat the metal tenon until the glue in the stem was warm and then screwed the stem onto the shank to realign it. Once it was aligned I let it cool. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and gave it a coat of Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads, gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry.Pic22 Pic23 Pic24I gave the bowl a coat of Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed it with a shoe brush. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond and gave it multiple coats of wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad and then hand buffed the pipe with a microfibre cloth. I took the following photos to show the finished pipe.Pic25 Pic26I turned next to the cigar holder. It was in decent shape though it too had dust on the exposed side. The stem was overturned and there were some tooth marks in the surface of the Bakelite/Redmanol stem next to the button on the top and bottom sides.Pic27The inside of the holder was pristine and had not been smoked.Pic28I unscrewed the mouthpiece from the holder and cleaned up the threads with a dental pick and a tooth brush.Pic29I cleaned out the inside to remove the dust with cotton swabs and alcohol. I gave the threads a coating of clear fingernail polish. I wanted to build up the thread slightly so that the mouth piece would align correctly.Pic30I sanded out the tooth marks with 220 grit sandpaper. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and gave the stem a coat of Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding with 6000-12000 grit pads, gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry.Pic31 Pic32 Pic33 Pic34I gave the briar part of the holder a coat of Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed it with a shoe brush. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond and gave it several coats of carnauba wax. I lightly buffed the holder with a clean buffing pad and then again by hand with a microfibre cloth. I set the cigar holder aside until I had finished the rest of the set.

I had one more item to clean up. The cigarette holder from the other box was oxidized and dull. There were no tooth marks or bite marks in the Redmanol/Bakelite. There were a lot of scratches in the surface of the holder that needed to be polished out to remove them.Pic35I wet sanded the holder with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and gave the holder a coat of Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit sanding pads, gave it a final coat of oil and set the holder aside to dry.Pic36 Pic37 Pic38I buffed the holder with Blue Diamond on the wheel 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. I set the finished cigarette holder in the case.

I put the pipes and holders back in the case and took some photos of the finished pipes in place in the case. It is a great looking set of pipes and holders and shows some age on it. I wish I could figure out who made it but so far I have not been able to find any information in my usual spots on the web. Thanks for walking with me through this refurb. Thanks for looking. If any of you have any information on the set let me know in the comment box below.Pic39


Another ‘Hole in the Wall’ Find – BBB Banker Bent Volcano

Blog by Dal Stanton

Last April, during one of my earlier visits to what I have affectionately named, ‘The Hole in the Wall’ antique store near the Zhenski Pazar (Women’s Market) in downtown Sofia, Bulgaria, my eyes locked on to a very handsome pipe that called out to me resolutely – “Take me home!”  The pipe was a slightly bent volcano shape, brandishing a broad flattened oval shank and stem that drew my attention.  In my small collection of pipes then, and even today, I have nothing like it.  After taking in the unique shape, the briar grain, obscured by layers of grime and old wax, gave me an internal ‘wow!’ that I carefully kept hidden from the shop owner who would see my excitement as potential greater profit for him – so I played it cool.  I looked at how the grain moves horizontally across the bowl and shank giving the appearance of a tiger pattern looking down on the shank.  Looking straight at the bowl the grain looked like horizontal flames terminating on the sides of the bowl with Birdseye patterns – I was anxious to work on this pipe.  The top of the shank was imprinted with the classic BBB diamond mark over Banker.  Underneath the shank had London, England over 739.  The stem top also had the white diamond BBB mark.  I also spied another pipe in the basket that looked like a good candidate to bundle with the BBB Banker, a French Jeantet Fleuron 70-7 which helped me negotiate 30 Bulgarian Leva for the pair – about 16US.  Not a bad deal at $8 a pipe!  The first picture is the Jeantet followed by the BBB Banker after I arrived home from the ‘Hole in the Wall’ with my newest acquisitions:Bank1 Bank2 bank3 Bank4 Bank5 Bank6 Bank7 Bank8 Bank9I found a lot on the internet about the BBB name.  The small blurb in Pipehill describes the evolution of the BBB moniker:

BBB: ” Best British Briar” is now a brand of the Cadogan Company (Oppenheimer group). American rights to use the brand name were sold to Wally Frank in 1980.

Founder of the brand in 1847: Louis Blumfeld. The oldest pipe brand name in the UK has been registered in 1876 (Blumfeld Best Briar).

Steve also posted a blog on the history of BBB pipes a few years ago using the French article:

I discovered that there are many BBB collectors and enthusiasts in my research.  Unfortunately, I could find nothing helping me to date or place my BBB Banker except some informed guesses comparing to the BBB stamps (pictured below) depicted in the French article Steve posted above which would probably date the Banker at the earliest in 1989 when the Cadogan Company consolidated manufacturing its various pipe lines at Southend-on-the-Sea, but more likely in the 2000s – not a terribly old pipe (Can anyone help me on that?):Bank10The condition of the Banker is generally good.  There is some cake build up in the chamber but I still want to ream the bowl down to the briar for a fresh start and to be able to make sure there are no problems lurking beneath – which I really don’t expect.  The rim has light grime and lava on it, but a significant wearing down of the front lip so that bare briar is exposed.  The stummel looks to be in good shape – I detect one fill underneath but it looks to be solid and will blend well.  The stummel grain is dulled and obscured by grime and oil build up.  The stem is in good shape – showing almost no oxidation, but has a tooth dent on the lower side of the bit.  I take a fresh close up of the rim to mark the progress.  I begin with reaming the bowl with my Pipnet reaming kit.  As I’ve become accustomed, I try to do the dirtier part of the cleanup on the 10th floor balcony adjoining our bedroom where my work-station is here in Sofia, Bulgaria.  Sometimes I wish I had a basement work area, but we do what we must!  I use only the two smaller blades of the four blades available to ream the cake down to the briar.  I follow the use of the reaming blades with 120 grit sanding paper to clean the cake further and finish with 240 grit on the chamber wall.  The bowl looks good.  True confession – while I was reaming the bowl my thoughts drifted off to a Savinelli reaming knife – on the eBay block, that I’ve had my eye on – one like Steve often employs.  There are still a few days left in the auction and I’m hopeful that I might add it to the arsenal!  I’ll let you know!  In order to get a better idea of the rim’s condition, I clean the external stummel with Murphy Oil Soap and work on the grime covering the rim.  I use cotton pads with undiluted Murphy’s.  I also employ a brass brush to work on the rim.  After the cleaning, I take the stummel to the sink and rinse it with cool tap water.  The pictures show the progress.Bank11 Bank12 Bank13 bank14Ok, for you who have years of restorations under your belts, here are some newbie musings – your patience appreciated!  At this point I realize I need to top the bowl to repair the front lip of the rim – it won’t take much but it is needed.  When one takes the rim down to the bare briar, I’ve learned that one also must have a plan for matching the hue of the old stain if one desires to keep the old stain tone matching the bowl.  I like the color scheme of the BBB Banker and I desire to keep it.  To keep it, I need to match the rim color tone with the rest of the stummel AND I need to address the very minor scratches and wear marks on the stummel surface BUT NOT sand it aggressively to remove the stain.  It is in some ways much easier to take the briar down to the wood with acetone and sanding and then apply new stain and voila!  New surface and color all blended and ready to go.  I know this situation calls for use of polishing compounds and such, which is a more passive approach to dealing with the surface – more opportunity to learn new things!  So, I move forward with topping the bowl with the aim of maintaining the current rich, deep red tones – we’ll see how it goes.  I took the BBB Banker to the topping board – 240 grit paper on a chopping block and rotated it on the paper in a gentle clockwise circle not applying too much pressure – letting the grit do its work.  To make sure I wasn’t leaning into the damaged lip area as I rotated, I eyeballed that the damaged area was untouched during the early rotations which meant the topping was true – I took a picture at this point (second picture).  I took off only enough to clear out the front lip problems.  I think it went well and the bowl looks perfectly round.  As I often like to do, to add a classy touch to the rim I bevel the inside lip.  I make the initial cut of the bevel with 120 grit sanding paper followed by 240 grit.  I’m satisfied with the bevel – not too much but just an accent.  I use micromesh on the rim from 1500-12000 to complete the rim repair preparing it for stain later.Bank15 Bank16 Bank17 Bank18 Bank19Now, the stummel surface.  I have questions rolling through my mind regarding how aggressive I can be to remove small scratches and wear blemishes but maintain the original patina of the briar as it came to me.  I elect to micromesh the stummel surface and leave the small blemishes.  I do not start with the coarsest pad (1500) but at 2400 – gentle approach (though the first picture below shows the 1500 it was not used).  I’m not sure this is the best plan but I can always back up to a more aggressive posture if I’m not satisfied with the results.  After a quick email with Steve, I feel better about the course of action.  I continue on the stummel with micromesh pads 3200-4000 and 6000-12000.  I am loving the briar grain popping out through the micromesh process – one of God’s small creations each piece of briar.  The pictures show the progress:Bank20 Bank21 Bank22As I put the stummel aside to work on the stem, I realized that I was so involved in working on the externals that I forgot that I hadn’t cleaned the internal of the stummel nor stem.  Before working on finishing the stem I decide to use the retort to clean the internals.  Last time I used the retort, an alcohol saturated cotton ball was launched from the bowl during the process.  I was gun-shy of the retort to begin with when I first acquired it – the launch didn’t help.  Notwithstanding, I unwrap the retort, get out the vodka, and proceed to let the retort do its work.  The pipe was surprisingly clean.  After two retort cycles, I finished off with cleaning the internals of stummel and stem with Qtips and pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol.  I think it’s better to clean internals earlier in the process….Bank23 Bank24 Bank25Now to the stem externals.  Earlier, I applied black super glue to two significant tooth dents on the underside of the bit (visible in picture above).  I use 240 grit sanding paper to remove the excess super glue removing traces of the dents as  well as file marks after using a needle file to fine tune the shape of the button. There was very little oxidation on the stem or teeth chatter so I proceed to wet sand with micromesh 1500-2400 and apply Obsidian Oil to the stem.  I follow by dry sanding using 3200-4000 micromesh pads and then the same with 6000-12000 and apply Obsidian Oil and set the stem aside to dry.  I’m pleased with the vulcanite ‘pop’ – that wet reflective look is great.Bank26 Bank27 Bank28 Bank29Well, I mentioned earlier that I was hopeful to add a Savinelli pipe knife to my tool box.  Steve speaks highly of this tool and has increasingly put it to good use in his restoration work.  He also posted a blog describing it when it arrived on his work table in Vancouver.  When I saw one on the block in the eBay’s estate pipes in tobacciana listings a few days ago, I decided to watch the auction and see if I could snag it – it seemed to be calling out to me: “I want to live in Bulgaria!”  As you would guess, others were watching too.  I’m thankful that my bid was sufficient and my new Savinelli pipe knife will be delivered to my daughter and son-in-law who live in Denver.  They will carry it with them to Bulgaria (along with some other supplies I’ve ordered including 32 oz. of Lane BCA Cavendish tobacco which I discovered with great enjoyment on my last trip to the US) when they visit in September!  My son-in-law had no problem agreeing to find space in the suitcases when I bribed him with sharing bowls together of the Lane BCA!  So, I’ll look forward to their arrival for the additional reasons that they will be packing new supplies and my new pipe knife!Bank30The BBB Banker slightly bent volcano is now in the home stretch.  After topping and sanding the rim with micromesh, I left the rim the bare wood until I finished the sanding of the stummel. I did this so that the stain I would eventually apply to the rim would be more closely matched.  Using an Italian brand stick, I applied a dark Mahogany stain to the rim and before it dried, lightly wiped it with a dry cotton pad to remove uneven stain application – the first two pictures below show before and after application of the stick.  I’m very satisfied with the match up of stummel and rim and am anxious to finish the stummel.  Living on the 10th floor of a former Communist block apartment building and with my work station in my bedroom (shared with my gracious and understanding wife!) space is at a premium.  My Dremel high speed tool is my workhorse when it comes to the polishing wheel.  Starting with a felt wheel, I first purge the engaged wheel by using the flat edge of the Dremel’s metal tightening wrench against it.  This softens the wheel and rids it of residue Tripoli caking from previous jobs.  With the newly purged wheel, I begin the final polish of the BBB Banker applying Tripoli to the surface addressing the minor pits and scratches on the bowl surface that I did not sand out aggressively to guard the beautiful patina of this piece of briar.  Bank31 Bank32 Bank33Finished with the Tripoli and Blue Diamond, I change to a cotton cloth wheel for the Dremel and apply several coats of carnauba wax.  I use the slowest setting for the Dremel and keep a continuous circular rotation over the briar surface – oh my, does the grain pop!  I cannot say exactly when this pipe was made, but if it’s been since 1989, someone employed by Cadogan Company’s Southend-on-the-Sea pipe making plant did an amazing job with the choice of this piece of briar and the volcano shape it became.  The grain is beautifully showcased in horizontal movements laterally across the stummel so that one can see the horizontal flame grain facing the stummel straight on and then move to the sides of the stummel and see the grain emerge in Birdseye perspective and swirls.  In the beginning I described the top-down view of the broad, flattened oval shank as reminiscent of tiger fir to me – now as I look at it zebra also comes to mind.  Another example of the beautifully showcased briar grain in the Volcano shape is the broad landscape of its underside – from across the broad shank to the front lip of the volcano base, runs a robust dissecting flow of grain that is majestic from my vantage point.  Yes, I confess, I’m a briar grain junkie.  Its beauty reminds me of its Maker.  With my last application of carnauba wax on stem and stummel, I change to a clean cotton cloth wheel and buff the entire stummel and stem.  Then I give the BBB Banker bent volcano a brisk buffing with microfiber cloth to bring out the richness of this briar even more.  I’ve enjoyed this restoration and look forward to loading the BBB Banker with its first bowl of tobacco in my hands.  Thanks for joining me!Bank34 Bank35 Bank36 Bank37 Bank38 Bank39 Bank40 Bank41 Bank42


Restemming and Restoring a Made in Denmark Apple

Blog by Steve Laug

I got an email from a fellow in Dawson Creek, British Columbia asking if I would be willing to work on a pipe that he had that was one of his favourites. It was an apple that he really liked and he liked the patina on it as well. This is what he wrote to me: Sir, I have a pipe in need of your skills. I was visiting City Cigar on a trip to Vancouver and William recommended you. I’ve inherited a pipe from my dad that needs to be refurbished. I wish to add a new curved stem. The old stem’s very loose. I will mail, or ship the pipe to you, as I live in Dawson Creek, BC. Once we discuss price & details. After leaving City Cigar, I was left with the impression that you’re “the guy” for the job.” 

I asked him to send some photos of the pipe and give me a look at the pipe. The next two photos are the ones that he sent to me. The saddle stem looked like a replacement to me. I had him send the pipe to me for a closer look.apple1When it arrived I could see that my assumption about a replacement stem was correct. Whoever had added the new stem had sanded the shank and removed half of the stamping on the shank. I could read that it said Made in Denmark and that there were no other stampings. The shank was significantly lighter in colour than the bowl. The rim was dirty and had a chip out of it and its top was damaged. There was some concrete rash on the back side below the chip where the bowl had been knocked on concrete.apple2 apple3I took a close up photo of the bowl top to show the extent of the damage and the uneven cake on the bowl sides. I also took photos of the stem and shank junction to show how the shank had been sanded to meet the stem diameter.apple4

I also took a photo of the back side of the bowl showing the horizontal line across the bowl. That line was a large fill that bulged and stuck out the surface of the bowl.apple5The bowl was covered with a thick grime and sticky material. I wiped it down with a cotton pad and alcohol to remove the grime and get back to the finish. The grain really began to shine through once I had removed the gummy buildup. The left and right sides of the bowl showed some nice birdseye. The front and back showed cross grain that ran along the top and bottom of the shank. The birdseye ran along both sides of the shank.apple6I topped the bowl on a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damaged portions of the rim.apple7I sanded the backside of the bowl to smooth out the bulging fill that ran across the bowl.apple8I sanded down the outer edge of the rim to remove the rim damage and also the burn and darkening on the edges. I scrubbed the bowl down with acetone and cotton pads to remove the finish so that once it was clean I could blend in the lighter portions with the rest of the bowl.apple9 apple10The owner wanted a new stem for the pipe so I went through my can of stems until I found one that would fit. He wanted a taper stem and the one I found would suit the bill. He also wanted it to have a slight bend in the end. This sharply tapered stem would make that an easy fit and fix. The stem was slightly larger in diameter than the shank so I would need to reduce it to match.apple11I took off the excess vulcanite with a Dremel and sanding drum. I worked on it until it match the shank diameter.apple12 apple13I took it back to the work table to hand sand it. I used 180 grit sandpaper and took back the excess stem material.apple14I sanded the stem further with 220 grit sandpaper until the transition between the stem and shank was smooth to the touch. I heated water in the microwave until it was boiling and put the stem in the water to soften it enough to put the bend in it. I bent it just enough to give it a jaunty look.apple15 apple16I used the medium and the dark stain pen to touch up the shank. The combination of colours matches the rest of the bowl colour.apple17 apple18I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to begin polishing it and to begin to remove the scratches. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I set it aside to dry.apple19 apple20 apple21I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and polished the briar and the stem. The polishing took out the last of the scratches in the vulcanite stem. The fill on the back of the bowl blends in perfectly now and it is smooth to the touch. The transition from the stem to the shank is also smooth. The slight bend in the stem works well with the pipe. It is finished and ready to go back to Dawson Creek. Hopefully the owner will enjoy the new stem and the virtually “new pipe”. It still carries with it the memories of his dad giving it to him. It still as some of the marks of its story but the look and the feel of the pipe are better than when we began the journey. Thanks for looking.apple22 apple23 apple24 apple25 apple26 apple27 apple28 apple29

Deghosting a Stinky Champagne by Savinelli 606KS

Charles a good description the process of destinking a bowl with charcoal. I have done this but have not written it up at this point. I am reblogging it on rebornpipes to pass it on to the readers of the blog that might read this here. Thanks for doing the work.

The aroma of a pipe is one of those olfactory experiences that can thrill the senses and trigger a flood of memories and emotions – chats with Grampa on the front porch, the texture of the bench seat in an aluminum fishing boat, the scent of a campfire or the warm hazy aftermath of Christmas morning.  I’ve had fellow pedestrians deliberately alter the course of their afternoon stroll in order to get a whiff of my pipe and even stop me to share their pipe recollections. Sometimes I think that if I could bottle the scent of burning pipe tobacco, I could make a fortune.

Yes, the reaction to a quality tobacco burning in a good, clean briar is almost universally positive. But everything changes when that same pipe is neglected, transformed from a stalwart briar companion to a stinking wooden husk packed full of soured, congealed tars and fouled…

View original post 1,379 more words

Doing Shaping Work on a Comoy’s Grand Slam Pipe 66

Blog by Steve Laug

Recently I traded the Simpson Sandblast Billiard that I restored with a reader of the blog for a Comoy’s Grand Slam 66. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Comoy’s over Grand Slam over Pipe. On the right side it has the classic Comoy’s Circle Made in London over England Com Stamp and further along with the shape number 66. The finish was in decent shape though there was some sticky dirt buildup on the sides. The right side of the bowl had a small divot on the bottom front of the bowl. On the left side of the bowl there was a ring or a small trough that was indented in the bowl from the left rear of the bowl to left front of the bowl. It looked like a dent in the briar. It is very clearly shown in the second and the third photos below. The stem had some oxidation and three deep tooth gouges on the top of the stem and one on the button top. There were also some deep tooth marks on the underside of the stem and the button. The C stamp on the stem is a newer stamp in the vulcanite that is painted with a white paint.Comoy1 Comoy2 Comoy3I measured and studied the side of the bowl before I decided what to do with it. I was not sure if the trough was caused by and issue inside of the bowl so my brother and I both cleaned and checked that out and could see nothing. I turned to look at the outside of the bowl and noticed that the bowl actually bulged above and below the line. That line itself actually was the same height as the rest of the bowl apart from the bulge. The bulge was thus briar that needed to be removed rather than the line a dent of missing briar. I breathed a sigh of relief and began to work on restoring it to normalcy.

I sanded the side of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper to try to minimize the groove in the bowl side. The photos below show the progress of the repair. The first photo shows the first sanding on the bowl side. With the initial sanding you can see length of the groove on the side of the bowl. I sanded the bowl side on both sides of the groove until the groove disappeared. I was actually surprised that I was able to remove the damage to the bowl without making the bowl any thinner in the process. It was almost as if when the bowl was turned in the factory the cutting head that turned the bowl slipped and left a hump above and below the groove. Thus the groove itself was actually level with the rest of the bowl other than the humps.Comoy4 Comoy5 Comoy6 Comoy7In the next photo you can see the slight divot at the 11 o’clock position at the top of the photo. It was a deep cut in the briar that must have happened when the pipe was dropped somewhere along process. I sanded it smooth and filled in the divot with clear super glue and briar dust. Once the repair cured I sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out and blend in the repair. I sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding block to remove the scratches in the briar.Comoy7a Comoy8The rim on the bowl had a light buildup of tars so I lightly topped it on the topping board to remove the buildup. I topped it against 220 grit sandpaper then against a medium and a fine grit sanding block.Comoy9 Comoy10 Comoy11 Comoy12I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain thinned with alcohol to match the colour of the existing finish. I applied it to the surface and flamed the stain. I repeated the process until I had a good even coverage on the bowl sides.Comoy13 Comoy14I wiped the bowl and shank down with alcohol on cotton pads to even out the colour of the stain and make it more transparent. Once that was done, the finish of the bowl looked really good to my eye.Comoy15 Comoy16 Comoy17 Comoy18The stem was a newer style Comoy’s as noted above because of the style of the logo. It was stamped into the vulcanite and then painted. There were some significant bite marks on the stem that needed attention. The lighter tooth marks I was able to sand out with 220 grit sandpaper and remove them. There were others that were quite deep. I cleaned the surface of the stem and used a thick black super glue to fill in the tooth marks. Comoy19I sanded the repaired spots with 220 grit sandpaper and cleaned up the sharp edge of the button with a needle file. I was pleased with the overall look of the stem once the repairs had been sanded smooth.Comoy20I wet sanded the surface of the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to begin the process of polishing the stem. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil.Comoy21Before proceeding further with the micromesh I decided to touch up the “C” stamp. I used a fine bristle brush and white acrylic paint to fill in the letter. I sanded off the excess with the 1500 grit micromesh pad and went over that section with 1800-2400 grit to match the rest of the stem.Comoy22I dry sanded the stem with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of Obsidian Oil. I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads, gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry.Comoy23 Comoy24I polished the pipe and the stem on the buffing wheel with Blue Diamond polishing compound and gave the entire pipe several 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. The adjustment to the left side of the bowl worked well to smooth out the bulges and crease and the pipe looks as it should have when it left Cadogan. Thanks for looking.Comoy25 Comoy26 Comoy27 Comoy28 Comoy29 Comoy30 Comoy31

A Pipe with a Story – an R.V.W. Handmade 5 pipe

Blog by Steve Laug

My brother sent me pictures of a pipe he found on eBay that grabbed his attention. It was not so much the pipe but the story of the pipe that caught his eye. He sent me the link and I had a look but was not sold on picking up the pipe. But he wanted it so he threw in a bid and won the pipe. He wrote to the seller and asked about it. He received a reply that the pipe had been found in Northern Michigan, US in a mud bank on the Rifle River – farm country in the middle of nowhere. They had no more information. The pipe was dark and looked like the mud bank it had been found in to my eye. The stem looked too long and the flow of the pipe did not work for me.R1The stamping on the pipe was pretty clear which surprised me. On the underside of the shank it read R.V.W over Handmade and then a 5 underneath that. That piqued my interest a bit so I decided to wait and reserve judgment until I saw the pipe.R2 R3 R4While I waited I did a bit of research and found out the pipe was made by Randy Wiley. I Googled to find his website and was directed to his Faceboook page. The link follows: I sent him a message on Facebook and related the story that my brother told me. I also included the above photos of the pipe supplied by the eBay seller. The next day I received a message back from Randy. Here is what he wrote: “Hi Steve, Wow, Glad there wasn’t a body with it. I’ll bet it was dropped while fishing. I’ve heard many stories. One day someone will find a pipe while scuba diving. I know the owner. This pipe is a second, RVW. It retails today for around $105.00”

When I first read his response I missed the part about him knowing the owner. This morning I read his response again as I was working on this blog and wrote Randy back regarding that line. I wonder if the original owner would want the pipe returned. We shall see.

When I was in Idaho I taught my brother to do the initial clean up on the pipes. It has been a real help for me. With the box of pipes to be refurbished filling up on this end it is really nice to have him work on them ahead of time. When I get them they have been reamed and the internals all cleaned so it makes my work much quicker. Because this one attracted his attention he really liked the cleanup of it. He reamed and cleaned the bowl and shank as well as the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the debris left behind by the mud bank. He took the following photos to show the pipe after his cleanup work. The straight grain on the left side, back and front of the bowl and the birdseye on the right side are beginning to show through.R5 R6 R7 R8 R9When I received the pipe I brought it to the worktable and took some photos of it before I began to work on it. While the grain was showing through it was still too dark to my liking. There were also many tiny nicks and pits in the surface from time spent in the mud by the river. These would need to be sanded out. The rusticated portions on the bowl sides and edges were also in need of deeper cleaning. The heel of the pipe had been knocked around and had many nicks and pits. The combination of smooth and plateau on the rim also needed deeper cleaning. The stem still seemed too long to me and if I end up either keeping the pipe or selling it I think I will make a second stem that is more proportional to the pipe in my opinion. The stem was oxidized but did not have any tooth marks or chatter.R10 R11I ran the Savinelli Pipe Knife around the inside of the bowl out of habit with little effect because my brother had done a great job reaming this one.R12The bowl had some white debris in the bottom which I think was water marks from its time in the mud. I used alcohol pipe cleaners and cotton swabs to remove that debris. I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl and shank to remove more of the dark stain with acetone on cotton pads and was able to remove some more dark stain. There was more work to be done in this area but I would keep trying.R13 R14I scrubbed the exterior with a bleach mixture to further remove the stain. The next photos show the effect of the bleach on the stain. The grain is beginning to show.R15 R16I went through my stem can and found a nice amber Lucite stem that was the right length to my eye and would be a great contrast with the bowl. I did not have to do any fitting or tenon work as the stem fit in the mortise perfectly from the start. The stem was bent too much and would need to be straightened and bent to match the flow of the bowl. You can see in the photo below that the new stem is about an inch shorter than the one that came with it when I got it. I put the stem in place and took some photos to get an idea of how the pipe looked with the stem. You can also see the effect of the bleach on lightening the stain on the bowl in these photos.R17 R18 R19I used a Sharpie pen to darken the plateau areas on the end of the shank and the top of the bowl. I also used it on the rustications down the bowl sides and front.R20 R21I used Watco’s Danish Oil with a Cherry Stain to stain the bowl. It is an oil based product and as it dries on the surface it darkens to a black cherry. I applied the stain with a cotton pad and let it absorb into the warm briar.R22When it had dried I buffed it off. The stain had darkened and with the natural darkening that had happened as the pipe lay in the mud the overall appearance almost a rich charcoal grey with red undertones.R23 R24I forgot to take photos of the process of rebending the stem but what I did was boil water in the microwave in a cup and then heated the stem until it was flexible in the hot water. I inserted the tenon in the mortise and then bent the stem to match the flow of the bowl. I held the stem under cool water to set the new bend. There was some tobacco stains in the stem from a previous pipe it had graced. I cleaned it out with pipe cleaners and cream cleanser/soft scrub cleanser until all of the stains were gone.R25There was a groove in the stem on the top side about a ¼ inch from the saddle that I sanded out with 220 grit sandpaper. I worked over the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding the stem with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads.R26 R27 R28I sanded the bowl with micromesh sanding pads to try to lighten the dark cherry colour of the stain. I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads to polish the briar.R29While I was finishing polishing the pipe, I received an message from Randy regarding the previous owner of the pipe. He said that he had confused it with one that had been lost while scuba diving. So he could not remember who had purchased this one. I had also asked whether the stem was original and he was not certain.I actually found that to be good news as I did not like the stem that it came with.

I took the pipe to the buffer and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond and then gave it several coats of carnauba wax. The briar has many small pits in the surface that I am convinced came from its time spent in the mud alongside the river. Part of me wanted to sand them out and remove them but another part, the part that won decided to leave them to bear witness to the shadow life this pipe had before it was found. I took the next photos with the blanket background as it seems to allow the grain to stand out a bit.R30 R31 R32 R33The next photos I took against a light blue backdrop to show the contrast between the amber stem and the dark cherry stain. Thanks for looking.R34 R35 R36 R37 R38 R39

Converting a Streamliner Metal Pipe bowl to fit a Kirsten Pipe

Blog by Doug Bisbee

Doug has been a reader of rebornpipes for a while now and he emailed me some work he had done fitting/converting a bowl from a Streamliner Metal Pipe bowl to fit a Kirsten Pipe. He sent me a series of photos of incredibly shiny bowls that are converted to fit a Kirsten just to show me what could be done. I was so impressed with the quality of his work that I wrote and asked him to put together a blog on how he achieved the shine and how he did the conversion of any metal bowls to fit a Kirsten barrel. He sent me the following step by step procedure using the bowl from a Streamliner. It is a pleasure to have Doug write this for rebornpipes and share not only his expertise but also his work. Doug sent me a step by step procedure that I have included below with a few of my own details. If you have a metal pipe or bowl you would like him to convert, you can email Doug at the following email address:, and he will do the conversion for you. He also has bowls for sale that he has already converted.


STEP#1 Bowls that are held in place with a center screw are the ones that work most easily. On this Streamline used to illustrate the process the bowl was held in place on the metal base with a center screw. The screw is not the same size as the one used to hold a Kirsten bowl on the base.  Remove bowl from the shank of the Streamliner pipe a with screwdriver. C1 C2STEP #2 To begin the process of fitting the Streamliner bowl to a Kirsten base the hole in the bottom of the metal bowl needs to be enlarged with a letter “O” drill bit.

STEP #3 Once the hole has been enlarged in the metal bowl with the “O” drill bit the hole in the briar bowl also needs to be enlarged with a 1/4-inch drill bit. (I do this by hand).C3STEP #4 The bowl in the photo below is from a different metal bowl but the principle is the same. After drilling the bottom of the bowl to open the screw hole it is time to sand and refinish the top of the bowl rim (I use Tung oil).C4STEP #5 I order Kirsten adapters from Kirsten in Seattle (Kirsten Pipe Company, 910 Lenora Street, Suite 156, Seattle, WA 98121) or they can be ordered online on their website at this link: You will need both the adapter and a long screw.

I like to polish the Kirsten bowl adapter so it matches the shine of the finished bowl. I do the buffing on a buffing wheel (spiral sewn & air flex) with brown compound. I also polish the outside of the metal bowl on the wheel.C5 C6 C7A neat trick that I use to polish in the grooves of the bowl is put the end of a pipe cleaner in the vice, smear metal polish on the pipe cleaner and hold the other end of the pipe cleaner in your hand pulling it tight and keep rubbing the bowl over and over it with the pipe cleaner in the groove of the bowl… it takes a long time but works very well. I use Mothers Polishing Compound for this.C8 C9STEP #6 After the polishing the bowl is ready to fit on the Kirsten Pipe base. C10 C11STEP #7 After polishing the bowl and adapter I put the Kirsten adapter on bottom of bowl. I put briar bowl in metal bowl and attach the adapter to the Kirsten Base from the inside of the bowl using the long Kirsten screw. C12 C13 C14 C15Now comes what I think is the really cool part!

STEP #8 I want the bowl to be interchangeable on either the Kirsten or the original base so I need to modify the Streamliner Base to take the new Kirsten long screw. To do that takes several steps that in essence involve creating a raised platform to accommodate the Kirsten Bowl adapter that you installed on the meal Streamliner Bowl. I put the original Streamliner bowl screw back in the shank of the Streamliner pipe base and drill the airway out using a #21 drill bit. I am careful to drill only 3/16 of an inch deep.C16STEP #9 Once the hole is drilled I use a 10-32 tap to tap 1/8-inch-deep threaded hole into the top of the screw.C17STEP #10 I use a grinder to grind off the top of the screw to remove the head. What remains is a collar that provides the base for the Kirsten adapter rest on and accommodate the long Kirsten screw.C18 C19STEP #11 With the collar in place and the newly tapped threaded insert the original Streamliner bowl will screw right on to the original base! If you didn’t look to closely you wouldn’t even know it had been converted! C20STEP #12 With the conversion done to both the bowl and the original Streamliner base, now any Kirsten bowl will fit onto your Streamliner pipe and your Streamliner bowl will fit onto any Kirsten pipe!C21STEP #13 The beauty of the process is that it can be done to almost any metal bowl on any of the pipes you come across. It takes a little ingenuity, but the modifications or conversion is not only possible but doable. The only thing that remains is to enjoy your new pipe!C22 C23 C24The following photos show some of the bowls I have converted. Once again if you have a metal pipe that you would like me to convert for you so that the bowls can be used interchangeably on the original base and on a Kirsten just email at the address above. We can talk about prices and time lines. I would love to do some work for you. Metal pipes are my passion and I love to smoke them. Thanks for looking and I can’t wait to hear from you.C25 C26



Three Cleanups for a Friend

Guest Blog by Robert M. Boughton

Member, International Society of Codgers
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors  under construction
Photos © the Author except as noted

How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?
— 2 Corinthians 3:8


As Chuck Richards, my good friend and mentor, has now worked his last official day at the local tobacconist where we enjoyed our pipes together on so many occasions – each of us often absorbed by our own thoughts – his presence is missed by many.  Almost every time I visit the shop, I see customers come in, eager to pick Chuck’s mind on one thing or another concerning pipes, only to learn that he is no longer there.  Then a young emeritus member of our pipe club, who moved away a couple of years ago to study engineering at Purdue, called a mutual friend and said he had some pipes that needed cleaning.  When he asked for Chuck, our common friend referred him to me.

Soon after, I received an email from the young man, Joe Allen, who no doubt still looks too young to be smoking a pipe by the day’s legal standards.  I found out Joe was concerned with three pipes he described as having excess cake and some rim burn and other typical problems he wanted cleaned up by someone he knows and trusts.  I made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.  No, I didn’t have to kill my friend’s horse and put its head in his bed; I have trouble picturing Joe atop that amazing species of animal, although for all I in fact know about him he could be a country boy who grew up on a farm with horses and cows and all the rest, and be outraged at the suggestion that he is in any way equestrian challenged.

All I knew about Joe’s present whereabouts was that he changed his major from engineering (thank God) and moved to Missouri to go to med school and become a surgeon.  Now, that’s more the speed of the Joe Allen I remember.Joe1For Joe, I was tempted to tell him to send them to me with a return label so I could do the work for free.  But then my senses returned.  I just can’t keep cleaning and fixing my friends’ pipes without getting something in return other than the pleasure of working on their beautiful prizes!  So we settled on $10 each, which included return postage.  I didn’t even have a clue as to the kind of pipes Joe was sending me, except of course that they were designed for tobacco.

For that and other reasons, I was excited when the insured box arrived at my Post Office several days later, $30 in cash tucked with a note in an envelope stashed inside.  When I got to my car, I used my handy flip knife to open the well-wrapped package that was padded with the exceptional care for the precious cargo one would expect from a future surgeon.  I knew from the layers of bubble wrap that stuffed the small USPS Priority Mail box, and in particular upon finding the three pipes in question wrapped in smaller taped pieces of the same material, that they were cherished and adored by Joe.  I was honored that he entrusted his treasures to me and determined not to disappoint him.

Anyone who knows me, even if only from my blogs here, might have guessed that I had to get a look at the pipes right then and there.  With complete respect and care for the contents, I removed each of the neat little bubble-wrapped pipes one at a time.  I was surprised and pleased by the variety.

The first was a Hardcastle of London rustic bent billiard #45 of a beautiful, dark red color.  There are two stamps on the bit, an H on the left side and, in capital letters across the underside where it meets the shank, the word France.  I can find no mention of French made Hardcastles and suspect this may have been from a convenient bit supplier.  Steve confirms my guess.  But the fine briar smoker was in excellent, almost new condition that appeared to present no problems, although of course one popped up that I will describe later.

The second was a very nice Dr. Grabow smooth straight billiard with the name Bucko and a yellow spade on the left side of the bit.   My first impression of the Bucko, other than its wonderful vertical grain around both sides and the back and a nice birds-eye on the front, was that the bit seemed to be a replacement, as it was not flush with the shank opening.  I was happy, though, to see the bit rather than the shank was too big in places, just right on both sides and only extended too far on the top and bottom.  I knew I could fix that.

Then came the last pipe, and I even guessed the brand from feeling the shape through the bubble wrap: a classic K&P Peterson of Dublin System Standard smooth bent billiard.  Admiring it, I was startled when the bit popped out in one of my hands holding it with reverence.  Giving it an easy slight twist back into the nickel banded shank, it did it again.  And again.  Well, I ventured to guess, this little beauty was going to be an interesting challenge.Joe2I could not wait to get to work on them, having estimated a two-day turn-around.  First, of course, I had to stop by the tobacconist for a little relaxation and contemplation while I puffed one of my own pipes and studied Joe’s excellent set awaiting my gentle ministrations.  All of them, which were nowhere near as dirty or caked-up as Joe indicated, presented interesting challenges nevertheless.

RESTORATIONS – DR. GRABOW BUCKOJoe3 Joe4 Joe5 Joe6For all the nasty talk about the brand, I have to admire the appealing visual twists on classic shapes that Dr. Grabow will throw into some of its designs, in particular the older ones.  Take this billiard, for example, with the unusual oblong aspect of the tapering shank.  At a glance, the problems that presented with the stout little Bucko were all minor.  There was slight rim darkening, far less than average chamber char, and a small amount of the original stain on the top of the shank that appeared to have been applied with some haste resulting in a shiny patch where heat drew out the liquid, which then re-dried.  Then again, perhaps the Bucko’s stummel had faded everywhere else, and that little area was all that remained of the factory finish.  Another possibility is that whoever chose the replacement bit prepped the wood for a refinish that for whatever reason was never applied.Joe7Closer inspection reaffirmed the theory of a replacement bit that was added without quite enough attention to detail, although the sides were perfect.  Again, only the top and bottom were misaligned. Joe8I began with the rim, which came clean after firmer than usual rubbing with superfine “0000” steel wool, and went for my usual approach on the chamber:  I used my Senior Reamer before sanding, first with 150-grit paper, then 180, 220 and 320.Joe9 Joe10I decided I might as well get the only real challenge with the Bucko out of the way and regarded the bit.Joe11I started with 220-grit paper to take off the excess Vulcanite on the top and bottom, but that got me nowhere.  I reached for the 180, and about a half-hour later was done with the fitting task.  I tossed the scratched bit in a preliminary OxiClean wash.  The scratches came off with wet micro meshing from 1500-12000. Joe13 Joe14 Joe15I took a close look at the scratches on the stummel.Joe16 Joe17With only the steel wool and the full range of micro mesh, wiping the wood with a soft cotton cloth between each grade, I was able to give the briar a nice, even smoothness.Joe18 Joe19Joe20 Joe21I retorted the pipe with Everclear.

Joe22After using the electric buffers to apply red and white Tripoli, White Diamond and carnauba to the bit and all of the same except for the red Tripoli to the stummel, here is the finished Bucko.Joe23 Joe24 Joe25 Joe26 Joe27 Joe28PETERSON SYSTEM STANDARDJoe29 Joe30 Joe31 Joe32 Joe33 Joe34I started by reaming and sanding the chamber and dispensing with the light rim char.  After giving my Senior Reamer a few turns in the chamber, I used 150-, 180-, 220- and 320-grit papers to make it ultra-smooth, but the steel wool was not enough to do the trick with the rim so I used a light touch of 320-git paper for the rest of the burns there.  As the second photo below shows, it turned out quite well. Joe35 Joe36There were some scratches and light pocks on the stummel that I eliminated by lightening the color of the stummel somewhat with steel wool.Joe37 Joe38Then I applied Fiebing’s Brown boot treatment to the stummel, let it cool and removed the thin layer of residue with 12000 micromesh.Joe39 Joe40The bit that appeared at first to be loose worked itself out somehow, maybe with the retort I did next.  And that was it, other than buffing the wood with white Tripoli, White Diamond and carnauba.  This was the only time I didn’t need to do anything to the bit.Joe41 Joe42 Joe43 Joe44 Joe45 Joe46HARDCASTLE OF LONDONJoe47 Joe48 Joe49 Joe50 Joe51 Joe52 Joe53 Joe54 Joe55Just to shake things up a bit, as I never start with the bit, that’s what I’m going to do.  Besides, this one is so easy, I might as well get the hardest part out of the way.

When I removed the bit the first time, I noticed it was so tight it wouldn’t budge.  Afraid of breaking either the tenon or part of the shank, I followed one of Chuck’s first lessons to me. Grasping the bit firmly in one hand – prepared to stop if I felt one more hint that a foreign substance was making the two parts stick – I turned the stummel with my other hand.  The sound was awful, but the parts came loose with a slowness I didn’t rush.  All that was needed to loosen the bit so it was easy to turn into the shank was a couple of tight turns of steel wool around the tenon.

The discoloration is shown just as it in fact appeared with my own eyes for once, rather than the camera’s POV.  In my opinion, just as a camera will add a few unwanted and unfair pounds to humans, so will it give a more flattering gloss to Vulcanite than the material often deserves. I gave it an OxiClean bath for about a half-hour.Joe56 Joe57And here it is after the bath and a brisk rub down with a soft cotton cloth.Joe58After wet micro meshing from 1500-12000, buffing on the wheel with red and white Tripoli, White Diamond and carnauba, and re-filling the empty H with a white china marker, this is the final result.Joe59I reamed and sanded the chamber and rid the rim of dark marks.  I used the same approach as the first two pipes on the chamber, and again, only steel wool was needed for the rim.Joe60 Joe61All that was left before the final buff was to retort the pipe, and as always, I was glad I did.Joe62Coating the already beautiful, rusticated red briar with Halcyon II wax, I set it aside to dry before wiping it down with a soft cotton cloth.Joe63 Joe64I was almost sad to be finished.Joe65 Joe66 Joe67 Joe68 Joe69 Joe70 Joe71CONCLUSION

Now I have to return these three fine pipes to their owner.








Marxman Jumbo Lovat

Blog by Aaron Henson

Several years ago when I was first getting into our hobby, I stopped into a local antique store looking for practice pipes.  This particular store did not have much and what few they did were dirty, heavily caked and $25 each. The dirt and the heavy cake didn’t bother me but dropping 25 clams on an old briar pipe for practice was not going to happen.

A few weeks ago, one of my jobs happened to take me past this same store. It had been two years since I had been in so I thought it might be time for another look.  After my last visit I wasn’t expecting much.  When I asked the gentleman behind the counter about pipes he directed me to the same old display case at the back of the store.  The same pipes were on display but this time the price tag had been changed.  Clearly the pipes had been in inventory too long and he wanted to move them because now they were two for $10.   Not one to pass on a deal this good, I selected four large bowl pipes including the Marxman below (shown second from the top) as well as a large caliber Emperor and an unmarked Custombilt look-alike. L1The Marxman is a truly large pipe (and not the largest of the three) with a bowl diameter of 1 1/2”, chamber diameter of 1” and a depth of 1 5/8”.  The shank is a whopping 7/8” in diameter and the bit is that same width. The following page from a 1946 ad for Marxman calls the large size a “Jumbo” but I do not have any way of telling what letter size it might be.L2For background, Marxman only made pipes from 1934 until 1953 before being bought out by Mastercraft.  But Bob Marx’s short run made an impact on Hollywood and on US pipe makers in general. Pipedia has a short article on Marxman.L3Taking the pipe to the work bench I started by cataloging the things that needed to be done.  The bowl had a thick cake built up. So much so that I had to start with the smallest head on my Castleford reamer (and the largest head was too small to be effective to finish reaming the bowl).  The rim had a significant buildup of tars and a couple burn marks.  The outside of the stummel was grimy and had some dents but nothing too devastating.  On the bottom of the bowl there were two dark burn marks.  They were located on the bottom side of the shank which made me think they were not burn-outs but with the bowl cake so thick I could not be sure.  When I removed the stem, I could see that the end of the tenon, the stinger and the inside of the shank were all coated with a heavy tar.  This was going to be an arduous cleaning job. L4 L5For as much build up as there was in the stummel there was little in the way of tooth chatter or marks on the stem.  One small tooth dent on the top side of the stem was all. The button was quite small but the slot was nicely formed. Aside from some oxidation, all in all the stem was in great shape.

I set the stem to soak in an Oxiclean bath to loosen the oxidation and the tar build up in the air way and turned my attention to the stummel. First I reamed the cake out of the bowl. I could not believe just how much there was!  I took it back to clean briar to make sure there was no burn through. After the largest reaming head, I still needed to finished off the chamber with 80 grit sand paper wrapped around a dowel. There was a slight loss of briar about half way down the bowl but no burn through. If I had to guess, the previous owner may have been in the habit of half loading the pipe early in its life.

I shaped a soft wood stir stick into a narrow spatula shape and used it to clean out the caked gunk in the shank. I also need a short piece of wire coat hanger to open the air way. I finished scrubbing the internals of the shank with bristled pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol and cotton swabs until they came out clean.

Now that the insides were clean I turned to the outside of the pipe.  The rim was heavily coated with crusted tar/lava.  I had hoped to clean up the rim without needing to top the bowl but that was not the case. There were some burn marks in the rim under the tar build up that were best removed at the topping board. When topping a bowl, I use 100 grit paper on a smooth flat surface and work the bowl in a circular motion. I have recently started rotating the bowl a quarter turn every 10 passes. This helps me keep the topped bowl level by ensuring I don’t put too much pressure on one side of the bowl all the time.L6I started cleaning the outside of the pipe by wiping down the briar with acetone. This removed the wax and grime build up. I had hoped that the burn marks on the bottom of the shank were superficial and would be removed with a light sanding but I was mistaken.  I am not sure what happens to the pipe but it appeared to have been exposed to a significant heat source because the burns were deep. The wood was not damaged, that is to say there was no charring.  After a significant amount of sanding with 220 grit I had removed as much of the burn as possible without significantly impacting the shape of the pipe. I was careful to sand the entire area around the burn to blend, or feather, the repair.  Even so, it did not completely remove all of the burn mark.L7Next I steamed out dents by wrapping the bowl with a wet terrycloth rag and applying a clothes iron. The important thing here is to keep your fingers away from the steam and the iron away from any stamping.

I finished the bowl by sanding the outside with 1500 – 3200 micro mesh pads. I also took the liberty of beveling the inside of the rim which I thought gave the large bowl some visual character.L8Even though I sanded the chamber back I could still smell some ghosts of the old tobacco so thought I would give the pipe a salt and alcohol soak. I let sit for 24 hours but there was still a residual odor.  Before I was done with the restoration, I had to run three tubes of grain alcohol in a retort through the pipe before the pipe was truly clean (sorry no pictures). L9

The original finish was very light colored, almost a natural. To hide the remnants of the burn I decided to go with a light brown stain and contract the worm grooves with a slightly darker stain to make them stand out.  This would also help hide the burn.L10The stem was an easy clean for a saddle bit. The Oxiclean bath had loosened the crud in the airway and a few passes with bristled than soft pipe cleaners took care of the internals. The outside I sanded with 1500 grit micro mesh then added a small drop of black super glue to the one small tooth mark and a another dent that I didn’t want to sand out. I had tried to raise both with heat first but with little success hence the super glue.  Continued sanding with micro mesh pads up through 12,000 grit. I kept the pipe assembled during this process in order to keep the shank-stem connection flush.L11

With sanding and polishing complete I coated the entire pipe in mineral oil and let sit overnight. The mineral oil seems to help hydrate the briar and vulcanite of the stem.L12After 12 hours I wiped off any remaining oil and took the pipe to the buffer.  I went over the whole pipe with red diamond then applied multiple coats of carnauba wax.  As a finishing touch I decided to apply a bowl coating to the chamber.  I wiped the inside with maple syrup then add a table spoon of charcoal powder.  Placing the heel of my palm over the rim I shake the pipe until the charcoal evenly coats the inside.  I let the pipe dry for a week before dumping out the excess charcoal.

Now it’s time to “Relax with a Marxman”.  Thank you for taking the time to look.L13 L14 L15