Refreshing a Coral Finish Meerschaum Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

I am on a meerschaum refurbishing binge. I have a few in my box of pipe to be refurbished. This one is a bit unique to me. I have had rusticated meerschaum pipe from Manx Pipes and Nording but I have never had one with what to me looks like this one. I have labeled it a coral finish because it not only looks like it with the carved grooves and pits in the finish but tactilely it also feels like a piece of worn coral. The bowl finish was dirty – more dirty than coloured. The photos below actually make it appear a bit darker than it was when I started. The grooves and pits were lined with dust and debris. The rim had a tarry buildup that was hard and black. The bowl had a light cake forming on the inner walls. The stem is probably made of acrylic or if earlier Bakelite. It has a swirled amber appearance becoming clear in the last third of the stem to the button. There is a single black dot on the top of the stem. The stem has a push tenon and the shank an insert for the tenon. These are either nylon or Delrin. They lead me to believe that the pipe is a bit newer. It does not look like a replacement tenon. The airway in the stem was darkened with tobacco stain. This would give me a chance to use my newly worked out method of cleaning clear stems.c1 C2I took a close-up photo of the rim to show the build up on the back of the top along with darkening to a lesser degree all the way around the top of the bowl. I also took a photo of the top and bottom of the stem. Though they are clear enough they do not show the rippling and tooth marks in the surface. It looked to me like someone had tried to buff out the tooth marks and ended up with a wavy surface on the stem. You can also see the staining of the airway in the clearer portion of the stem.C3I decided to use a gentle soft scrub product to clean the exterior of the meerschaum and the tarry buildup on the rim. I scrubbed it with a tooth brush and rinsed it under running water. I dried it off with a towel. I used a brass bristle brush to work on the rim top. I was able to remove much of the tarry buildup on the rim and rinsed it once again with running water.C4 C5I reamed out the light cake with a Savinelli Pipe Knife and took the cake completely out of the bowl.C6I worked on the inside of the airway with mini-needle files to smooth out the drilling and the slot. It took three different needle files to remove much of the roughness – a round, an oval and a flat oval file.C7I scrubbed the inside of the stem with bristle pipe cleaners and soft scrub cleanser. With repeated scrubbing alternating with the needle files I was able to remove the majority of the staining in the airway. I scrubbed the airway and mortise in the bowl with alcohol and pipe cleaners.C8To remove the waviness of the stem and the tooth marks I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper and a medium grit block. I was able to remove the wavy lines and the tooth marks and restore the taper of the stem.C9I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 micromesh sanding pads and wiped the stem down with a damp cotton pad. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and wiped it down again. I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads and wiped it down a final time to remove the sanding dust.C10 C11 C12I buffed the bowl and stem lightly with Blue Diamond on the wheel. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the stem and bowl with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message on Facebook or respond in the space below the blog. Thanks for looking.C13 C14 C15 C16 C17 C18 C19


1 thought on “Refreshing a Coral Finish Meerschaum Billiard

  1. Dave Cooley

    Thank you, Steve. I’ve been following with great interest to find a method to clean my clear stemmed pipes. The technique you used gives me hope.


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