Blog by Steve Laug
When my brother sent me the photo of this pipe it was one that I wanted to see close up. It was one of those oddities that seem to catch my attention. It is yet another attempt at finding the elusive perfect smoke. This one appeared to be unsmoked. He had the winning bid on eBay and soon it was on its way to Idaho. When it arrived it was indeed unsmoked and in very good shape. The shank was stamped Sterilizator Pipe in an arc over Deposee. The stamping was filled in with gold leaf. The name Sterilizator is catchy and the word Deposee in French is translated Registered. I looked online for any information on the pipe and came up empty. I will continue to dig but at this point it is not hopeful. From the photos that he took I can see a thin line around the shank end next to the stem. It obviously had a band originally but that was missing. I could also see from his photos that there were several large fills in the side of the bowl and the base. My brother scrubbed the bowl to remove the grime on the finish before he sent it to me. He is getting really good at the cleanup of the pipes that he sends me. Generally there is little for me to do. In this case he removed all of the grime from the finish which appears to have been a medium brown stain and lots of wax from the above photos. I took the next four photos to show the way the pipe looked when I brought it to my work table. I removed the stem and unscrewed the bowl from the base. The metal spacer ring was loose and came off the bowl once I removed it. The bowl had three holes in the bottom of the threaded neck that screwed into the base cup. The cup had an interesting clay tablet in the hollow bowl. It had a single hole in the top of the tablet and was like a spool. The inside of the ring in the middle of the spool had holes in it as well. The idea was that the smoke was drawn into the base and it goes through the top hole and out the holes in the ring. The base cup has twin holes that enter the airway in the shank. The fills in the bowl and base are visible in the photos below. The stem was in great shape with no tooth marks. The tenon was unique and I had not seen anything like it in any of the pipes I have restored.The front of the bowl had a large pink putty fill in it that really bothered me. I know that the pipe was unsmoked before and was new old stock and really did not to be removed and repaired. But it bothered me. In the photo below it is the shiny spot on the bowl.I used a dental pick to remove the fill. It was surprisingly soft and porous so it came out easily. The hole in the side of the bowl was quite large and deep. I also picked out a fill in the base on the left side near the bottom.I used the dental spatula to press briar dust into the hole in both the bowl and the base. I dripped clear super glue into the briar dust and pressed more briar dust into the glue.The next two photos show the repairs on the bowl and base. The glue had a slight bulge that I would sand down to match the surface of the briar. The second photo shows the stamping on the shank.I sanded the bowl and the base with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the patch in with the rest of the surface area. Once I was finished it needed to be refilled to get all of the tiny air holes in the repair but I would do that a bit later.I sanded the entire bowl and base with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I used a dental pick to smear all purpose glue on the inside of the brass spacer and then pressed it onto the bottom of the bowl.I wiped out the bowl in the base of the pipe with a few cotton swabs and alcohol and then put the clay spool back into the base.I put the base and bowl back together. I touched up the repairs and sanded them smooth. After that I sanded it with 3200-4000 grit micromesh sanding pads to polish it. I sanded the bowl with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to further polish it. I stained the bowl and base with a dark brown stain thinned by 50% to reduce the darkness of the stain. (Earlier Mark asked why I did this and my reply was that I am out of a lighter colour stain so I improvised.)I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down between each set of three pads with Obsidian Oil. With the pipe restored and the stem polished I put it back together and carefully buffed it with Blue Diamond. I worked around the gold stamping so as not to damage it. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I finished by buffing it by hand with a microfibre cloth. This one will grace my collection of oddities that have been invented in the passionate search for the perfect smoke. It is a beauty. Thanks for looking.