Blog by Steve Laug
My brother continues to look for Kirsten estate pipes. He picked up this Kirsten because it looked like an old-timer. When I received it I could see that he was right about it being an older one. All the signs were there. The bowl was threaded directly on the barrel of the pipe and bottom cap that is on new models was not present. When the stem was removed there were no O rings on the end of the insert. The valve cap was stuck in the end of the shank and it could not be turned. The rim had a lava overflow on it and there was a heavy cake in the bowl. The screw mount in the bottom of the bowl was caked over to the point that it was stuck in the bowl. The metal barrel was oxidized and pitted. It had no shine left but looked like a well-worn pipe. The stem was oxidized and a dirty brown colour. There were tooth marks next to the button on the top and the bottom sides of the stem. The rod that ran through the barrel was dirty and coated with tars and oils that had hardened. The left side of the barrel is stamped Kirsten in script. The underside is stamped Pats. & Pats. Pend. USA M. The stamping along with the absence of O rings, the bowl screwed directly on top of the barrel pointed to a Generation 1 Kirsten which dated it between the years 1936-1958. In a previous blog I spelled out the features of each generation of Kirsten pipes that were released. https://rebornpipes.com/2012/11/03/kirsten-generation-1-1-5-2-3/ I quote the following from there: The wooden bowl on this generation connects directly to the metal barrel and there is no metal cup spacer. It is a pretty flush fit that goes flat against the barrel. On the underside of the metal barrel it is stamped with one or more of the following “Pat. Appl. For” (1936-38) and “Pats. & Pats. Pending” (1938-1958) over “Made in USA” – S” (or applicable size – S, M, L). There are no O-rings on the bit or metal shank insert. The M stamp on the pipe identifies it as a Medium sized pipe.
So I armed with that information I knew that the pipe I had, came from the time period of 1936-1958 and the lack of O rings on the mouthpiece and I assumed on the valve once I was able to remove confirmed that. I was ready to get to work on the pipe. I heated the valve insert with a heat gun to loosen the tars that held the cap in place. It did not take too long and I was able to insert a screw driver in the barrel and tap on the valve.The next photo shows the pipe taken apart. The condition of all of the parts is clear – dirty but functional. The knurled edges on the valve were damaged by previous attempts by someone else to remove the valve with pliers. In the photo above there are pliers present but I did not use them on the end cap.The screw in the bottom of the bowl was held in place by the cake in the bowl. The photo also shows the condition of the bowl and the rim. The other close-up photos show the stem and the tooth marks on both sides near the button. I sanded the stem with 180 and 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and the tooth marks. I was able to blend the tooth damage into the flow of the stem because fortunately they were not deep.I lightly topped the bowl on the topping board to remove the damage to the rim and the build-up.I reamed the bowl with the Savinelli Pipe Knife and took the cake back to bare briar. I sanded the inside of the bowl with a piece of sandpaper to clean out the remaining cake.I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with cotton pads and acetone to remove the grime and the remaining finish. I scrubbed the rod on the stem unit with acetone to remove the tars and oils. I did the same with the exterior of the valve.I cleaned out the tarry build-up in the valve/end cap with cotton swabs and alcohol.I cleaned out the barrel with cotton swabs and rolled cotton pads and alcohol pushed through the opening with a screw driver. I also pushed a rolled piece of 0000 steel wool through the barrel to polish the inside. I used pipe cleaners to clean out the threads in the opening on the top of the barrel.I cleaned up the screw and the airway through the screw with a dental pick, pipe cleaners and alcohol. I cleaned the threads on the screw with cotton swabs and alcohol.I polished the aluminum barrel with Meguiar’s Scratch X2.0 and cotton swabs.I restained the bowl with a dark brown stain pen. I put the bowl on the barrel buffed them with Blue Diamond on the wheel to polish the stain and even out the coat on the bowl as well as polish the aluminum. The next photos show the bowl and barrel at this point in the process. I cleaned out the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol and then worked on the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and gave it a coat of Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I set the stem aside to dry. I gave the pipe and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the barrel, bowl and stem with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to add depth to the shine. The photos below show the finished pipe. This one will also go on the store soon. If you are interested in it let me know. Thanks for looking.