Daily Archives: July 3, 2016

Restemming and Restoring a Hardwicke’s Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

One of the pipe bowls that came to me in the box of pipes from my brother was a tall nicely grained freehand that was stamped on the shank Hardwicke’s and Italy on the underside of the shank next to the shank stem junction. H1I had never heard of the brand before and it was not listed on Pipedia or on the Pipephil website. The more I looked in my usual sources such as Who Made that Pipe the more stymied I was about the brand. It was an interesting shaped bowl. The bowl had some dark marks on the shank, the bowl bottom and on the right side at the point and up the side midway. There was a thick coat of urethane over the entire bowl and the faux plateau. The rustication on the rim matched that of the end of the shank and had been done with tools. There was a thick coat of tars and oils under the urethane on the rim. The bowl itself had a thick cake in it that filled it from top to bottom. The first quarter inch down from the top of the rim had a darker stain that ran down the walls. (I almost forgot to take photos of the bowl before I had sanded all of the urethane off the surface. I stopped and caught these. On the lower part of the bowl on the right side there was a spot of real plateau.H2 H3I went through my box of stems and had a stem that would work really well with this pipe. It would need to have the tenon end reduced so that it would sit in the mortise.H4I decided to Google Hardwicke’s Cigar and Pen to see if the pipe could have been a shop pipe. It was made in Italy but the Hardwicke’s stamping pointed elsewhere. I found that there was a group of shops in Indianapolis, Indiana. The main shop was located at 743 Broad Ripple Ave, Indianapolis.H5One reviewer of the shop had this to say about the shop: “This small cigar shop is located just south of the circle, so in the heart of downtown. They carry a pretty impressive stock of cigars and the pricing is relatively reasonable considering their location. The staff is incredibly knowledgeable and willing to help you find something in your price range. They do have a lot of cigars at the $5 price point so don’t be put off by the fact there are also a lot of $15+ cigars.”

“They also have their own brand, which is rolled with several different tobaccos and in several sizes, these should not be overlooked, especially if you don’t want to spend a lot on your smoke.”

“They also offer pens, pipes, pipe tobacco and the usual array of cutters and lighters you’d expect from a cigar shop. I’ve only purchased cigars here so cannot comment the rest of their offerings, although their selection of pipes does seem good to me.”

Further digging found an article in the Indy Star newspaper about the Downtown shop closing. The article also says that the Broad Ripple Store remains open. I have included the link to the article as well the article in full. http://www.indystar.com/story/money/2016/01/20/smoke-free-downtown-landmark-hardwickes-exits/78800744/

Hardwicke’s Pipe & Tobacco, a long-time Indianapolis fixture, seems to have shuttered its Downtown store.

The inventory was being removed last week, and a store clerk said closure was imminent. The store now stands empty, void entirely of the fine cigars, cigarettes and pipes the retailer sold for five decades.

Hardwicke’s Broad Ripple store, which predates the Downtown shop, remains open. Staffers answering the phone there declined to comment on the fate of the Downtown location, which had occupied a storefront at 18 N. Meridian St., just off Monument Circle, since 1977.

The demise of Hardwicke’s Downtown comes amid a flurry of change for Indianapolis’ old-time businesses.

Last month Kincaid’s, the high-end meat market at 56th and Illinois streets that had been in the same family since its founding nearly a century ago, was sold. Virginia Jarvis Coiffures, a beauty shop for many of Indianapolis’ leading women since 1965, closed its doors Saturday. G. Thrapp Jewelers, in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood, closed Sunday after 33 years.

Contact IndyStar reporter Will Higgins at (317) 444-6043. Follow him on Twitter @WillRHiggins.
So now I knew that the pipe I had was indeed a shop pipe made for Hardwicke’s Tobacco Shop of Indianapolis. Now it was time to work on it and restore and restem it. I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the urethane finish that covered the grime and the burn marks. I sanded the burn marks and tried to reduce the damage to the briar. The more I worked on them the more I am convinced that they were not burn marks but rather dark stains that happened when the bowl was laid in something that left a stain mark. I remember when my mom made pickles when I was a lad and the jars of vinegar left dark rings in the oak table top. These looked identical to the ones I remember as a boy. I sanded and was able to remove several of them. I wiped the bowl down with acetone to clean off the stain and the dust.H6The rim was thickly caked. I worked on it with a brass bristle wire brush and a dental pick to remove the build up on the rim. You can see from the second photo the rustication pattern in the faux plateau on the rim. It is identical to the one that is cut on the end of the shank.H7I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and took the cake back to bare wood. I cleaned up the edges and the bottom of the bowl with the Savinelli Pipe Knife.H9I sanded the bowl with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge and then with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratching in the surface left behind by the 220 grit sandpaper. I remove the darkening around the top of the rim so the surface of the briar was the same over the entire bowl.H10 H11The bottom of the bowl shows a scratch in the surface that looks like it is a hairline crack. Looking at it with a magnifier I am pretty sure it is a scratch and not a crack.H12To deal with the darkened spots on the shank and the bowl bottom as well as the scratch I decided to use a contrast stain. I stained the bowl with a black aniline stain and flamed it. I repeated the process until the coverage was even.H13I wiped down the black stain with alcohol on cotton pads to remove the stain in the body of the briar and leave it in the grain.H14I washed it down with an alcohol damp pad and gave it a top coat of brown stain. I flamed it and applied it until the coverage was even. Then I set it aside to dry.H15I used the Dremel and sanding drum to reduce the diameter of the tenon. I cleaned it up with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I put the stem in the shank and took some photos of the look of the pipe at this point in the process.H16 H17 H18I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter on the top and bottom sides of the stem at the button.H19I cleaned out the airway with a pipe cleaner and alcohol. It was not dirty at all which surprised me.H20I wiped down the bowl with alcohol on cotton pads and then buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel.H21 H22I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads, gave it another coat of oil and finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry.H23 H24 H25I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. It removed a little more of the brown stain and made it a bit more translucent. I gave the stem and bowl several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. The new stem looks like it belongs with the pipe and the curve of the bowl and the new stain look great in my opinion. The grain on the pipe is very nice. The black and brown stain combination hides the dark mars on the shank and the bowl. They are still present but blend in nicely. Thanks for looking.H26 H27 H28 H29 H30 H31 H32

What a mess – a Georgetown Made in London, England Canadian


Blog by Steve Laug

The grain on this old Georgetown Canadian really spoke to me when I took it out of the box of pipes from my brother. The mix of diagonal cross grains on the sides of the bowl and the birdseye on the front and back of the bowl and the top and bottom of the bowl and shank are really quite stunning. The bowl itself was incredibly dirty and the finish had rubbed and baked in grime all over. The rim was thickly caked with an overflow of lava the came from a bowl that was so caked that there was hardly room for any more tobacco. The stem was oxidized and there was a thick white build up of what I call calcification that comes from saliva and use. The slot in the end of the button was almost closed off with merely a small space mid slot. It was truly a mess that caused me to wonder what I would find once I cleaned and reamed the bowl.Geo1 Geo2I took some close up photos of the rim and bowl as well as the stem to show the extent of work that would have to be done to clean it up.Geo3 Geo4I also took a photo of the stamping on the shank to try to capture how it looked. It read MADE IN LONDON on the top line and under that ENGLAND. Stamped high and touching the bottom of the letters of the England stamp is the GEORGETOWN stamp.Geo5I reamed the bowl with the PipNet reamer starting with the smallest cutting head and working up the third head. The cake was harder toward the bottom of the bowl so I worked on smoothing it out with the Savinelli Pipe Knife and finished with the third cutting head of the reamer. You can see the rim damage on the inner edge of the rim at the back of the bowl in the photo below.Geo6I topped the bowl on the topping board until the damaged areas were minimized on the rim surface and the thick hard lava build up was gone. You can see the out of round areas on the inner edge of the rim in the second photo below.Geo7I scrubbed the surface of the bowl with acetone and cotton pads to remove the grime and the waxes on the finish. If you look closely at the pipe you will see a multitude of fills that are well placed in the grain of the pipe and barely visible.Geo8 Geo9I worked on smoothing out the damage to the inner rim by beveling it with the Dremel and sanding drum and then sanding it with a folded piece of 180 and 220 grit sandpaper. I smoothed out the scratches with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads.Geo10I started cleaning out the shank and the airway with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol but found that I would need to use too many of them to be effective. I put the stem in place on the shank and set up the retort to boil alcohol through the pipe. I used five test tubes of alcohol before finally I was able to get one that was clear after boiling it through.Geo11 Geo12 Geo13I cleaned out the airway in the shank and the stem as well as the mortise with a few pipe cleaners and cotton swabs to remove the remnants of alcohol and debris left behind by the retort. I used the light brown stain pen to touch the area on the rear side of the bowl where I had done some light sanding and repair as well as the area around the shank stem junction that was lighter.Geo14I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 micromesh sanding pads and gave the stem a coat of Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads, gave it another coat of oil and finished sanding with 6000-12000 grit pads. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry.Geo15 Geo16 Geo17I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and then gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and then hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I am still trying to figure out who made the pipe. I know that the Made in London, England stamp was used by Barling and in the pre-Cadogan era by GBD. If anyone can give me more definitive information regarding the maker of these pipes for the Georgetown Tobacconist please contact me in the comment section. Thanks ahead for your help and thanks for journeying with me on this refurb. Geo18 Geo19 Geo20 Geo21 Geo22 Geo23 Geo24 Geo25

Sofia Hole in the Wall #3: A Butz-Choquin Rocamar with a Cumberland stem


Blog by Dal Stanton

This is my third restoration from what I called the ‘Bag of 4’ that Steve and I saw at the ‘Hole in the Wall’ antique store during his visit to Sofia, Bulgaria.  Thanks again for indulging my ‘newbie’ offerings. My favorite of the bunch was a Savinelli Tortuga (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/06/18/sofia-hole-in-the-wall-find-savinelli-tortuga/).  The second, which I didn’t write up, was a beautiful Danske Club Vario, which I discovered on Pipedia is a Stanwell second.  Behind the Tortuga, the Vario was a close second. It is now next to my Tortuga in regular rotation – a great addition to my growing collection. Take a look at a few pictures of the finished Danish Danske Club Vario. I’m drawn to the blended smooth and sandblasted briar finishes on this pipe:Dal1 Dal2The markings I found on pipe #3 on the left side is Butz-Choquin over Rocamar with a ‘Filter 9’ diagonal imprint.  On the right side, St. Claude, France 1333, which I assume is the BC shape or series number.  The Cumberland stem has the BC imprinted marking.  From Pipedia I discovered a bit of the early history of the name from Pipedia:

“Jean-Baptiste Choquin of Metz started out as a tobacconist. This enterprise was prosperous; he had several employees. Among those, there was a certain Gustave Butz who was its first workman and who became his son-in-law by marrying Choquin’s daughter Marie in 1858.  In 1858 Jean-Baptiste Choquin created, in collaboration with Gustave Butz, the Choquin pipe. This bent pipe with a flat-bottomed bowl was finished with an albatross-bone mouthpiece, fixed with silver rings.  In 1858, still in Metz, Gustave Butz built an establishment for the manufacture of the Choquin pipe which took the name of -. In 1951, the Berrod-Regad company bought the trademark, continuing manufacture until 2002. Departing from Metz, the workshop was relocated to Saint-Claude, then also called ‘the world capital of the briar pipe,’ under the Berrod-Regad group.”

I could find nothing specific about the series name Rocamar so I decided to send an email to Butz-Choquin using their info contact from their current website which is under construction (http://www.butzchoquin.com/).  We’ll see where that goes.

The BC Rocamar has an attractive fiery grain and the bent billiard chimney is tall and elegant to me – perhaps tending toward an egg shaped bowl.  What I’m drawn to also is the bent Cumberland stem – my first to work on.  Not quite knowing what kind of stem it was I did a bit of research and discovered pipesmokersforum.com a thread discussing this stem:

“Cumberland proper is a vulcanite rod made up from red and black rods, melted and swirled together for the brown/red marble effect. It is very soft, and oxydizes fairly quickly if the protective wax coating is scraped off. There is a harder version in ebonite, which has a higher sulfur content if I understand these things correctly, but the color combos are not quite as subdued as the vulcanite version. It’s a bit more “brick” colored.”  Another comment I read was that if one found a Cumberland stem it was most likely hand cut – to me that is cool.  Helpful information.  Here are pictures of the BC Rocamar when it arrived home from the Hole in the Wall:Dal3 Dal4 Dal5 Dal6 Dal7The briar is in great shape and will need basic clean-up.  The rim shows a burn scar about 2 o’clock and lava build up.  As the comments about Cumberland stems and oxidation stated, this one had its share.  The bit has significant teeth chatter and some significant divots that will need repair.  Yet, I see the potential of the color swirl of the Cumberland being a very nice augmentation to the fiery briar stummel.  The filter casing had dislodged from the stem and that will need to be reattached.  I decide to drop the stem in an Oxyclean bath to start working on the oxidation while I turn my attention to the bowl – whoops, that is after I retrieved the stem from underneath the bed – I forgot it was on my lap when I stood to head for the Oxyclean!  I took a close-up of the rim and bowl before I go to work.  I moved from the bedroom work table to the 10th floor balcony mobile work station with Pipnet reaming kit in hand.  I want to minimize pipe soot being released into the bedroom atmosphere resulting in a happier wife.  I use only the two smallest blades from the reaming kit to take the cake down to the wood.  I finish the fire chamber by rubbing it with 120 then 240 grit sanding paper to smooth and clean the chamber walls even more.  Turning to the rim, I clean it with isopropyl 95% and a brass brush which will not scratch the surface of the bowl. I want to see the rim wood clearly before I top the bowl to repair the burn scar and reveal the briar.  With the sunshine helping I can see the rim (and holding tightly not to lose it over the edge!).  I note that the rim circumference is small as the sloping shape of the bowl culminates. Dal8 Dal9 Dal10 Dal11I move to top the bowl but with a view to take off as little as possible to preserve the dimensions of the slender egg-peeked chimney of the bowl.  With the stem soaking in the Oxyclean bath I’m not able to reattach it to the stummel to help make sure I’m maintaining a true perpendicular top and not leaning into the softer burned area.  Before rotating the bowl to top it, I let it free stand and gently rotated the pitch of the bowl so that I could ‘feel’ the low spot where the rim was burned.  By doing this I was able to acclimate to the ‘healthy’ flat part of the rim during the sanding rotation.  It worked well!  I took a picture after only a few rotations on the topping board.  It revealed that I wasn’t fudging into the low spot as it was not yet impacted by the sanding but the other ¾ of the rim was.  I’m careful to keep eyeballing the progress.  I use 240 grit paper on a chop board as my topping table. Moving in a circular, even motion I remove only what is needed.  Satisfied with the topping, I made a small bevel on the inside of the rim using 120 and 240 grit paper.  I did this to take out a bit of inner rim damage and a small bevel is always nice and gives a classy touch. I followed this by using micromesh (1500-12000) on the rim to remove all scratches.  The pictures tell the story.Dal12 Dal13 Dal14 Dal15I decided to wait on staining the rim using a stain-stick and move to the cleaning of the internal and external of the bowl.  The reason I did this was I was able to differentiate the actual unstained color of the briar by looking at the newly repaired rim and compare it to the bowl color.  The rim briar leaned brown whereas the bowl, to the reds.  With cleaning with Murphy’s Soap of the external bowl, I expect there to be a slight change in the color of the bowl briar.  At that point I would go to work again on the color of the rim aiming for the best match.  I decided at this point to move to cleaning the internals of the stummel with Q-tips and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%.  I found the internals to be amazingly free of muck and it was not long before Q-tips and pipe cleaners were coming out clean.  Turning to the external cleaning, I used Murphy’s Soap undiluted with cotton pads to remove the wax and grime on the bowl.  The bowl itself is in great shape – no significant scratches or fills.Dal16 Dal17At this point, I came to a road block which necessitated a quick email to ‘Master Obi-wan Steve’ for his input.  After the Murphy’s Soap cleaning I was expecting/hoping the high gloss finish on the bowl to have been dulled – getting to a more natural grain look not competing so much with the bared rim – at least this is what was in my mind.  My hesitations were not wanting to be too aggressive with the bowl finish and mess up the patina that is under the gloss….  With the time difference between Sofia and Vancouver, I put the stummel aside and turn to the much anticipated work on the Cumberland stem – what to me is the unique part of this BC stummel/stem ensemble.  After I extract the stem from the Oxyclean bath, I take some pictures to chronicle the progress.  After an initial buff with 000 steel wool to remove the surfaced oxidation, I take a closer look at the significant teeth divots on the bit and decide to apply super glue to the top and bottom to be able to redefine the button and cover the chatter damage. I want the superglue patches in place before beginning the sanding of the stem.Dal18 Dal19 Dal20 Dal21With the superglue curing, Steve’s reply came about my bowl conundrum and it is now decision time. He suspects that I’m dealing with a urethane finish much like he just dealt with in a Jobey restore (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/06/29/i-thought-this-one-would-be-easy-boy-was-i-wrong/) that was a bear to remove. The options before me are to either come up with a high gloss finish for the rim seeking to match up with the bowl or to aggressively remove the plastic, gloss finish and rescue the beautiful briar beneath.  The close-up picture below revealing the bare briar in rim repair sealed my decision – I put the bowl in an overnight alcohol bath hopefully to soften the glossy finish to be revisited tomorrow.  The time had come to watch some European football – Portugal and Poland – on my widescreen HDTV in my favorite recliner.Dal22The next day, with Poland and Portugal playing to a 1-1 tie the night before, I was anxious to see if the alcohol bath made a dent on the glossy finish.  Upon inspection (picture 1) it was still pretty shiny so I took a light grit sanding sponge to loosen the finish.  I was careful to lightly work around the nomenclature.  This did the trick.  The alcohol bath undoubtedly softened things up.  After the sponge sanding, I followed with rubbing the bowl with acetone with cotton pads to draw the stain out of the grain.  I finished with wiping down the stummel with isopropyl 95% to make sure all was cleaned and no grit left behind.Dal23 Dal24 Dal25I feel like I’m on a roll and I’m anxious to see the grain of this piece of briar unveiled.  I use micromesh pads from 1500 to 2400, 3200 to 4000, and 6000 to 12000.  The pictures below show the progress.  I have to be honest, this is perhaps my favorite part of the restoration process – each set of micromesh pads brings out more of the grain revealing the profoundly unique ‘fingerprint’ of each piece of briar we handle.  I euphemistically think of micromesh pads as ‘magicmesh’ pads – they bring the wood to life.  In my opinion, the grain that I’m now enjoying is much more satisfying than looking through the plastic shiny sheen of the original Butz-Choquin design.Dal26 Dal27 Dal28I decide to put the bowl aside and focus now on completing the Cumberland stem clean up and restoration.  I want to have an idea of the colors of the finished stem before I decide on the best finish for the stummel.  I like working on a clean stem so I first clean the airway using pipe cleaners and Q-tips dipped in isopropyl 95%.  During the cleaning, I saw something that I had missed before.  The button airway opening has a divot – I’ll need to add that to the list.  The superglue applications on the bit and button have had plenty of time to dry.  I use 240 grit sanding paper and needle files to work on the bit and button repair.  The bit repair looks good so I move to micromesh and the homestretch.  I wet sand using 1500-2400 and then apply Obsidian oil to the stem.  At this point, I inspect the repair work on the bit to make sure there are no scratches that I’ve missed before proceeding.  I’ve learned that often scratches are covered by the rough vulcanite.  With the Obsidian oil on the stem I dry-sand using micromesh pads 3200-4000 and apply more Obsidian oil.  I do the same with the last set of three – 6000-12000 and give a good coat of oil and put it aside to dry.  The pictures show the progress rejuvenating the Cumberland stem.  I like what I’m seeing.Dal29 Dal30 Dal31 Dal32 Dal33 Dal34 Dal35I had one undone job – re-attach the filter casing to the stem.  My assumption is that it was initially glued and after inspecting the inside of the stem, I detected residue that I assume was the glue previously used.  I clean the old gunk off the housing and the inside of the stem with alcohol and cotton pad and reattach the housing with superglue.  To get the job done I used my Winchester pocket knife and a dental pick to dig out the old glue.  With the filter housing reattached, the stem is complete.  I really like the rich color of the Cumberland stem.Dal36 Dal37After allowing the filter housing glue to dry I want to see the lay of the land, I rejoin the Cumberland stem to the stummel (picture #1 below).  I decide to stain the bowl with a new stain I found at the German owned ‘Mr. Prakteker’ –  like Home Depot in the US.  Finding alcohol-based stains in Bulgaria has been a challenge so I’ve been mixing my own batches up to this point. The brand is Italian and the cost was a bit more – I’m hoping that translates into better quality. When I opened the tin, a whiff of the stain revealed alcohol.  With the help of Google Translate, the flavor of the stain is Dark Nut.  The Bulgarian stick-on information tag said Dark Walnut.  My thinking is to aim for a darker stummel to blend with the darker hues of the stem.  If this succeeds, then I’m hoping the reds of the Cumberland stem ‘pop’ more instead of competing with the stummel.  We’ll see!   I can use alcohol-dipped cotton pads to lighten the stain after application if I choose.   After setting the stummel up on the cork/candle stand I apply the stain undiluted with a cotton swab to see how it goes.  I liberally allow stain to move over the inverted stummel – making sure of coverage over the inverted rim.  After a good covering I use a lighter to fire the stain which is a quick-combustion of the alcohol leaving the stain to set well into the grain.  The Italian stain ‘fired’ as hoped!  I repeated the procedure and then used the alcohol dipped pads to clean off the burn layer of the stain revealing how the grain received the stain – it’s never the same!  I take a picture to do a quick compare of stummel and stem.  After comparing I’m thinking that I like the dark hue but it needs some reds so I decide to add a layer of Cheren stain – red which I will mix with alcohol as it is a water based stain.  In my mind I’m thinking of the ‘Ox Blood’ depth that Steve uses – which is not found in Bulgaria!  I think the addition of the red stain does the trick (last picture) though it’s difficult to see the difference comparing the last two pictures.Dal38 Dal39 Dal40 Dal41 Dal42Next, I apply several layers of carnauba wax to the stummel and stem with Dremel and cotton wheels.  I’m careful to keep the Dremel wheel moving in rotation over the wood and use the lowest speed so not to overheat the wood. The buffing brings out the grain and the luster of the Cumberland stem.  I continue the buffing with a clean cotton wheel over the entire stummel and stem surface.  I finished with a thorough vigorous buffing with microfiber cloth to bring out the grain depth while watching Germany and Italy’s World Cup match.  The recommissioning of this Butz-Choquin Rocamar was more of a project than I was expecting.  I prefer the finish now before me to the shiny finish I started with.  I like the new color scheme for the bowl and Cumberland stem – I believe it works well.  The reds in the Cumberland stem match the grain amazingly well and the grain swirl in the rim has the appearance of continuing in the stem – a neat effect.  I’m very pleased with the color blends.  Another project done with new things learned to draw upon for the next candidate brought back to life!  Thanks for joining me!Dal43 Dal44 Dal45 Dal46 Dal47 Dal48 Dal49 Dal50