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. I 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. I 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.I 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.I 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.I 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. I 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.I 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. I 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.I 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. I 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.