Bringing a FILTO SYSTEM Pipe Back to Life

Blog by Steve Laug

I have had this pipe sitting in a parts box for a while now. It was missing a few parts – notably the end plug. It had a copper coloured barrel and a black vulcanite mouthpiece that was oxidized. There were no tooth marks on the stem. The bowl was painted with a dark brown paint and had a shine. The rim was dirty with lava from the overflow of the bowl. The bowl had a thin, uneven cake on the walls. There was a screw in the bottom of the bowl that was similar to Kirsten screws. It had a hole in the centre that allowed the air to be pulled from the bowl into the barrel. It was stuck in the bottom under the cake that held it in place. The inside of the barrel on the end that was missing the end plug was thickly caked with tars and oils. There appeared to be something in the barrel part way down that closed off the barrel. The side of the barrel is stamped FILTO over Burgaw, NC over PAT. MADE IN USA.Filto1Filto2

I took the pipe apart so that I could look at the pieces. The next photos show the barrel, bowl, stem and screw. The screw is interesting in that it had a collar that kept it lifted above the bottom of the bowl. There seemed to be a build-up of something on the top of the barrel where the bowl sat.Filto3

I did a bit of hunting on the web to see if I could figure out what was missing in the barrel. I knew that the end cap was missing and that it was a pressure fit. I also wanted to know what the card board piece was that seemed to be in the middle of the barrel. When I took the above photo I had not removed it from inside the barrel as I did not know what it was and did not want to damage it. I checked the Smoking Metal Website which is my first stop when seeking information on metal pipes. The site not only had the pipe listed but a variety of photos of the internals and of the models that were available. I have included the link and the short text that was included on the site.

“Made by Filto Pipes Inc. of Burgaw, North Carolina, inventor Robert L. Smith, US Patent #33170468 23rd Feb. 1965. The stem, sealing ring and filter holder design mentioned in design by Aristocob. The bowl and stem are in a great variety of colours, all interchangeable.The spring clip in the bit assists in holding the filter in place. There are two version of the stem one with a spun front end and more common with a plastic push fit end cap.”

The photo below shows the parts that are enumerated in the above quote. There are two different barrel designs shown as well. The top one seems to show that the end is rounded and closed like a cigar cap. The red pipe below shows a plastic ridged endcap. The close up of the two bowls at the bottom show both ends. It is obvious that the one I had was like the pipe on the left side. Filto4

The photo below shows many different models of the same pipe. There are obviously two different styles of stems – a saddle stem like the one I have and a tapered stem.Filto5

Now I understood the shape of the end cap and also what the cardboard in the barrel was. I took a photo of the stamping on the barrel. It is clear and easy to read.Filto6

I reamed the bowl with the PipNet reamer and took the cake back to bare briar. I cleaned up the reaming with the Savinelli Pipe Knife.Filto7

I pushed the cardboard out of the barrel and it was marked FILTO filter. The cardboard was a filter that allowed the air to flow around the edges and caught the tars and oils on the end of the filter. This one was unused.Filto8

I cleaned out the inside of the barrel by pushing rolled cotton pads soaked in alcohol through the shank. I also used cotton swabs and alcohol to further clean out the barrel. I scraped the cardboard gasket from the top of the barrel where the bowl sat using the dental spatula. I cleaned the outside of the barrel with alcohol and cotton pads.Filto9

I cleaned out the inside of the tenon on the mouthpiece insert with cotton swabs and alcohol. I ran alcohol soaked pipe cleaners through the mouth piece and tenon to clean out the tars and oils.Filto10

I decided to make and end cap or plug out of briar. I had a piece of briar that was next to the bowl. I had cut it off a while back to use for other purposes. Since it was drilled with an airway I needed to also make a round plug for the airway in the centre of the briar piece. I rounded out the shank piece and the small chip with a Dremel and sanding drum to make the end cap/plug. I round the chip until it fit perfectly into the drilled airway on the briar. I pushed it into the airway and glued it in place with super glue. I used the Dremel and sanding drum to smooth out the end that would go inside the barrel and the end that would stick out.Filto11

I used the Dremel and sanding drum to shape the end of the plug to be shaped like a cone. It continued to shape it until it would pressure fit into the end of the barrel.Filto12

I shaped it like a cone and rounded the end. I cut a small band around the diameter of the end that would sit in the barrel. There was a step down inside that the cap sat against. I pressed it into place and continue to shape it with 180 and 220 grit sandpaper.Filto13

Once I had it shaped correctly I stained it dark brown with a stain pen and buffed it until it shone. I sanded it with 3200-4000 grit micromesh to give it some polish and thin down the opacity of the stain.Filto14

Looking at the spring clip that held the filter in place in the shank I made one that was similarly shaped out of a paper clip. I bent it to fit into the cardboard filter and to sit in the metal tenon of the stem.Filto15

I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the calcification that was built up on the mouth piece at the button. There was some light oxidation on the saddle portion as well. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and gave it a coat of Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit sanding 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.Filto16Filto17Filto18

I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the wheel and gave it several coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth. I put the bent paperclip in the filter and in the end of the tenon.Filto19

I lightly polished the bowl and barrel on the buffer using Blue Diamond. I gave both a coat of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean pad to polish it. The bowl had a few dents and dings that I left as I found them because of the painted finish. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The first four photos show the finished pipe as a whole. The last three show it in pieces.Filto20Filto21Filto22Filto23Filto24Filto25Filto26


3 thoughts on “Bringing a FILTO SYSTEM Pipe Back to Life

  1. pipesrevival

    The pipe came out beautifully as did the Kirsten, in your opinion how do these aluminum and briar bowl pipes compare to a standard briar. I’ve had a few pass though my hands but always passed them along but now I’m curious, do they draw well, are they air tight ?


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