Daily Archives: September 6, 2016

Restoring a Well-Aged Double Walled Ceramic Baronite Pipe

Blog by Steve Laug

Steve, a pipe man in Northern British Columbia who sent me this old Baronite pipe said it belonged to his grandfather. That makes sense to me looking at the patina on this old double walled ceramic pipe. It is darkened with age like a well cured meerschaum. I have cleaned up quite a few of these but I have not seen one darkened to this degree. It is basically a bent apple shaped pipe with a windmill and canal scene on the front of the bowl wrapping slightly onto each side. On the left side of the shank it reads Holland and on the right side Baronite. I had a memory of the Baronite stamping referring to a line of pipes from a Dutch company called GoedeWaagen. I looked it up on Pipedia: https://pipedia.org/wiki/GoedeWaagen. I found the following information that confirms that the Baronite was a line of Double Walled Ceramic pipes produced by GoedeWaagen. I quote the short article in full:

Dirck GoedeWaagen became a master pipemaker on January 1, 1779 and took on his first assistant the following month. Soon after Dirck’s grandson fell in love with and married a girl from the illustrious De Jong family, legendary in the ceramic pipemakers guild in Gouda. He built a workshop in the Keizerstraat in Gouda, which continued for two generations until his grandsom Abraham GoedeWaagen moved the company to a new location.

In 1853, Pieter Goedewaagen purchased his father-in-law’s factory “De Star”, which becomes the basis of the modern GoedeWaagen company. In approximately 1880, Abraham’s grandson Aart GoedeWaagen persuaded his father Pieter to expand the business with an eye towards more models of pipes, and P. GoedeWaagen & Sons was founded in response. Within ten years the firm had hundreds of models and P. GoedeWaagen & Son was exporting pipes around the globe.

GoedeWaagen continued to make pipes, but also began acquiring other ceramics firms, including ‘De Distel’ in 1923, and in so doing acquiring the expertise to make decorated ceramics other than clay pipes. It is at this time that the company is granted a Royal charter and by the 1930’s Royal Goedewaagen is one of the top names in dutch ceramics.

While Goedewaagen pipes were originally traditional and figural clays, after the invention of the double walled clay pipe by Zenith, also a Gouda company, Goedewaagen began producing pipes in that commonly seen style, which they marketed as The Baronite Pipe, advertised for its clean smoking and health benefits. Since the company’s bankruptcy in 1982, however, they have made only the occasional souvenir pipe, including a line commemorating Holland’s monarchs.

I have no idea when this pipe was made but at least we now know who made it and where it was made. The stem is yellow Bakelite with a threaded metal tenon. I don’t know if that is original but it is in excellent shape. It is screwed into a cork insert in the shank of the pipe. It had deep tooth marks on the top and bottom sides near the button and into the top of the button edges. The bowl in this case had a fairly thick cake of carbon built up inside. The exterior of the bowl had a lot of dirt and debris stuck to the surface of the bowl and shank. The pipe reeked of strong tobacco. The rim seemed to have some spots of either damage or flaws from the original manufacture. There was also some tar buildup on the rim top. The brass band on the shank was oxidized and dull. Overall it was a dirty pipe in need of TLC.delft1 delft2I took this close up photo of the interior of the bowl and the rim. Note the airway at the bottom of the bowl that drops into the inner space between the two ceramic walls. The rim is also dirty with tar. In the second photo I removed the stem and you can see the crumbling cork insert.delft3 delft4I sanded the top of the bowl with a 1500 grit micromesh sanding pad to remove the tar and buildup without damaging the glaze on the ceramic. I reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Pipe Knife to scrape the cake back to the bare ceramic walls. Just a note – ceramic bowls like meerschaum bowls should be wiped out after each smoke to make sure that a cake does not build up in the bowl.delft5 delft6I pulled the cork insert out of the shank and it was dry and deteriorated. I wanted to try to rejuvenate the cork but it was too far gone and crumbled in my hands. A new cork could have been purchased from a pharmaceutical supply but I have always cut and shaped my own cork inserts for these from old wine corks. I cut a piece of cork the same thickness as the insert.delft7I traced the diameter of the old insert on the new piece of cork and cut off the excess with a sharp pen knife.  I shaped it with a Dremel and sanding drum until it was round. I twisted the cork onto a drill bit the sized of the tenon.delft8I sanded the diameter of the insert with the Dremel and sanding drum until the diameter was the same as the old insert and could be compressed into the shank of the pipe. In the photo below you can still see a slight ridge in the middle of the cork. I would need to smooth that out before I inserted it in the shank.delft9I scrubbed out the shank and the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I was able to get a lot of the grime and grit out of the shank. I was not able to clean in the airspace between the walls using this method.delft10I remembered reading somewhere that you could rinse out the inside of the shank and the airspace with water. I ran warm water in the shank and plugged the bowl with my thumb and vigorously shook the bowl. The warm water loosened the buildup in the airspace and soon chunks of dark tar fell out of the shank. I continued to shake and rinse the bowl until the water came out clean. The pipe began to smell fresh again.delft11Before I left for work this morning I repaired the deep tooth marks on the stem with clear super glue and let the stem cure all day. When I got home I cleaned the threads on the metal tenon with a brass bristle brush to remove the rust and oils that had accumulated there as well.delft12I filed the patches on the stem and recut the edges of the button and took the repairs down until they were even with the surface of the Bakelite stem.delft13I sanded the patched areas of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and reshaped the button as well. The surface of the patch blended in on both sides of the stem. There is a slight problem in sanding the yellow Bakelite stem in that the sanded areas are lighter than the rest of the stem. Polishing the stem will minimize this but it is definitely lighter. To me a smooth stem is far better than a rough, tooth marked stem so I am willing to live with the slightly lighter stem at that point. I have also found that as the pipe is used the colour eventually blends in.delft14I polished the stem with 1500-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each set of three pads. I am pretty sure that it does nothing for the Bakelite but it does give the micromesh pads more bite and add to the quality of the polishing.delft15 delft16 delft17With the stem polished it was time to twist the cork insert onto the tenon. I have inserted them directly into the shank before but find that this method works easier and keeps the cork from breaking in the process of inserting it.delft18Before I inserted it into the shank I rubbed the cork down with Vaseline Petroleum Jelly to soften the cork and make it easier to slip into the shank. Once the cork was greased I carefully pushed it into the shank.delft19I hand buffed the bowl and stem with Conservator’s Wax and a soft microfibre cloth to polish it and give it a shine. I was able to clean off the grime and leave behind the rich reddish-brown patina on the bowl. I polished the brass band with 6000-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I waxed it as well. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is ready for another long life of enjoyment. It looks and smells great. The polishing of the stem minimised the lightning of the yellow so that it almost is unnoticeable. I am hoping that Steve enjoys his grand dad’s pipe and lets his mind travel to the times he remembers him smoking it. Cheers. Thanks for looking.delft20 delft21 delft22 delft23 delft24 delft25 delft26 delft27


Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered by a Mastersen

Robert M. Boughton
Member, International Society of Codgers
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors
Member, Facebook Gentlemen’s Pipe Smoking Society
http://www.roadrunnerpipes21.biz (under construction)
Photos © the Author except as noted

I’m wild again, beguiled again
a simpering, whimpering child again
bewitched, bothered and bewildered am I.
I couldn’t sleep and wouldn’t sleep
when love came and told me, I shouldn’t sleep
bewitched, bothered and bewildered am I.
— “Bewitched (Bothered and Bewildered,” 1940), lyrics by Lorenz Hart (1895-1943), music by Richard Rodgers (1902-1979), a great American musical team

Since the song “Bewitched” was introduced by Vivienne Segal in the 1940 Broadway musical “Pal Joey,” there have been many covers. Written for a woman, quite a few have made it “their” song, from Ella Fitzgerald to Lady Gaga. Men have taken their shots, also, from Frank Sinatra to Rod Stewart. But when I was a teenager, I had the enduring privilege of seeing Lena Horne at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, and she did it, as the Chairman of the Board would say, her way. She sang some parts like a choir mistress in Heaven and spoke others in the husky asides of a barfly, keeping the audience enthralled and on the befuddling edge of tears and laughter. And so to hear the song in my mind is to relive the gruff silkiness of the lady’s inimitable voice.

My mother has always been a devotee of Freudian psychology. Being more agnostic regarding the Austrian neurologist who pioneered psychotherapy, my father tended toward dismissing all of the man’s work despite the lasting innovations. Therefore, in general, I began to take my mother’s view of the matter, until I was older and found a balance between my parents that they, alas, did not.

Now, bear with me, there’s a point coming. My dad told me one day that the songs people whistle or hum, without even thinking about it, reveal their subconscious moods. He was in the frequent habit of popping out such tidbits of knowledge, and for that I am forever grateful. I realized I had stopped listening to anything else he said maybe a half-hour earlier, having dissociated deep into myself, as far away from my dad as I could get. In fact, at least on a conscious level, I forgot my dad was there until he made the casual comment, and I stopped humming. I had to stop everything, including the gardening and general cleanup work we were doing on the patio, to figure out what was the tune, and I still remember now: “Cat’s in the Cradle,” by the late great Harry Chapin.

That’s right, I was humming about a father and son who never take the time to sit down together and have serious talks. I was not aware I even knew the story of the lyrics that well, but liked the tune. My dad and I had both heard it countless times, no doubt, as the spring afternoon I’m describing was in 1978, when I was 16, and the song came out in 1974 and won the Grammy for Best Male Pop Performance. Snatches of the words came to me: “I’m gonna be like you, Dad, you know I’m gonna be like you,” and “But we’ll get together then, you know we’ll have a good time then,” and “He’d grown up just like me, my boy was just like me.” The smirk on my dad’s face, with its annoying and condescending twist of the lips, said everything. He knew he had figured me out at last, although not his own contribution, and he was right, so I grinned, my own expression of false pride I learned from my father. I could see it stung my dad, and I’m now sad to say I was happy.

Thinking back on that encounter with my dad, as I began to find my own twisted path in the world, I consider it odd that he so berated basic Freudian theory of deep subconscious conflicts influencing our conscious actions. After all, humming a Harry Chapin tune that summed up my subconscious feelings at the time seems to me nothing less than proof of a simple variation on what we still refer to as a Freudian slip. Had my conscious mind picked the song, it would have been “”Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright,” by Bob Dylan.

As I began work on this ornery, perplexing pipe 16 days ago, and continuing through to its completion, I found that I was humming the refrain from “Bewitched.” Sometimes I even broke out into the repetition of words that came back to me. And so I understood I was making a musical Freudian slip of sorts. The Mastersen freehand had many flaws to overcome, and I was indeed bewitched, bothered and bewildered at the challenge of removing them. I had also come to love the pipe without ever having tried it and, like the story of “Bewitched,” despite its presenting difficulties.mas1 mas2 mas3 mas4So blackened and grungy was its bowl, so almost thorough the filling of the chamber with cake, so worn and grimy the shank, and so ruined the once typical Danish freehand plateau style rim as well as the reparable-but-not-worth-the-work bit, I did not even know what brand of pipe I had.

That is, until a happy coincidence that occurred at the monthly Moose Lodge meeting of my pipe club on the third Thursday of last month, August 18. One of my fellow pipers, Daryl (for whom I cleaned up an antique KB&B Redmanol socket pipe not long ago), showed me a beautiful Mastersen of which I snapped a photo with my Nikon. Due to the increasing instability of that camera, which is cheaper to replace than repair, the photo is nowhere to be found. At any rate, I handed my dingy and as yet unknown pipe to Daryl, who said, “Ah, another Mastersen!”

That was how I learned what I had. I ask you, what are the odds? Bestowed with a vision of the potential for a real beauty if restored with the necessary attention and care, I experienced a sudden sense of urgency to fast-track my Mastersen. I still did not even know how it was spelled, thinking it was the same as Bat Masterson, the famous TV dandy, gambler and lawman played by Gene Barry, who preferred his wits and cane to his gun for four seasons from 1958-1961. The same error by other pipe collectors and sellers accounts for the reason more examples can be found online using the spelling of Bat’s last name.

I did, however, pick up a few pieces of information along the way about Mastersen pipes. According to pipephil.com, and suggesting the brand is still in production, “Mastersen is [emphasis added] a brand of the former Shalom Pipe Co. [of Israel] which was later bought by Mastercraft.” Mastercraft, in turn, was taken over by Lane Ltd. A contributor to the Dr. Grabow Collector’s Forum (DGCF) noted the Shalom connection but added that Mastersen pipes were manufactured from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s as redemptions for Brown and Williamson’s Sir Walter Raleigh tobaccos. In this case, I suspect Pipephil was correct but meant to make clear that Mastersen was made by Shalom only, and the DGCF man had it right about the time period and redemption points.

Here are two shots of Mastersens I found online, the first with nice vertical grain, and the second showing the plateau rim type natural to the brand’s freehand pipes. Neither is anywhere near the quality of the specimen Daryl is so lucky to own, with its exquisite, perfect, vertical grain and strawberry blonde shade.mas5RESTORATION
Daryl’s beautiful example of what a Mastersen freehand could look like served as a wondrous counter-spell to the initial bewitchment that froze my thoughts of starting the job. Still, I was bothered by the apparent lack of any plateau remaining on the rim and the resulting need to do something about that dilemma. And of course the stem bewildered me more than a bit. (Ha-ha.)

Setting the bit aside for the time being, I began my assault on the stummel by soaking it in Everclear and then giving the still-caked chamber a 40-minute preliminary reaming, as that single good, long one proved insufficient to mend the old ways of the small space. The next pictures show before, during and after. mas6 mas7 mas8I continued the corrective measures with both my Senior Reamer and a new “one size fits all” type I found online. The little thing was so inexpensive I couldn’t help getting one to see if it worked. I have to say it has its uses, which are limited, but this chamber of horrors was one of them. I suppose the best way to describe the only function I’ve found for the less powerful reamer is by comparison to micro meshing after sanding. The small reamer has a certain precision that smooths away some of the rough edges left by its Senior counterpart. Maybe for those of you who have seen real combat on the battlefield, it would be like sending in the Army Corps of Engineers to clean up the devastating work of Marines.

The reaming complete, I turned to sandpaper, first on the rim and chamber with 150-grit, then working up the fine line to 180, 220 and 320.mas9I used the same progression of paper, minus the 150-grit, on the bowl and shank. That was enough for the first night.mas10 mas11 mas12The next day, Saturday, I slept late, meaning 9 or so in the morning, for the only time my cerebral RAM can access. I arose in an excellent mood made better by starting my first giant mug of strong, rich French Market coffee mellowed with chicory. Since I was in such a clear, positive frame of mind, I savored the moment more by turning to the bit that was wrecked by the havoc of some poor soul who must have suffered from a sort of waking temporomandibular joint disorder, even though there is no such malady since the real thing occurs while one sleeps. It’s called everyday teeth grinding when one is cognizant, and if a pipe smoker is that angry he ought to give up the best known form of relief from stress altogether. I ran a couple of cleaners through the air hole, first a dry run and then soaked with Everclear, and used the last of my supply of OxiClean to give the bit a bath. And now I’m gonna show you some 8×10 color glossies of that ordeal. You see, I was still of the mind that I might take the time to salvage the heinous wound to the mouthpiece of this bit.mas13 mas14 mas15 mas16By this time I already knew I was going to find a replacement somewhere, but once I start something I have to see it through. Therefore, I used more of the fine steel wool and then micro meshed from 1500-12000, just for the sake of it. Be all you can be (for now), mighty bit!mas17 mas18I did find a replacement in a bag from my recent move to better digs that I’ll show you later, because I’m sick of the entire idea of bits for now and it’s out of order, and I did keep the original for some unknown pipe I will restore for my own use rather than to sell to a trusting and hapless buyer.

Grabbing the steel wool again, I put it to better use on the stummel, with gentle rubbing.mas19 mas20 mas21Lo! How a simple micro mesh progression from 1500-12000 will change the hue of briar!mas22 mas23 mas24Three days almost to the hour after I began this project, there was no more putting off the inevitable: doing something to make the rim rough rather than the usual desired velvety smooth. Part of me that had no trouble adapting to the rule “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” one of my dad’s many maxims, hated the notion of touching a rim that was “perfect” the way it was.

In the end, I knew that a smooth rim on a Danish freehand style pipe was anything but perfect, and I considered my options, which seemed to me to number three. 1) I could rusticate the circular top, but the Mastersen freehand is not a rustic pipe. 2) I could reshape the top and try to roughen it up, but I’ve never done that before, to be honest. 3) I could leave it flat but give it some sort of texture.

The last choice seemed the best way to go, and that’s what I did. Starting out with a couple of level but tentative strokes of a wood file, I succeeded in making the following beginning, which I later gave more depth. mas25I came across a surprising number of other Mastersen freehand restorations, and two of them recounted the same obliteration of the rim and chamber stuffed with carbon char. The common rim problem suggests to me a straight, shallow plateau that lends itself to being burned away by the average pipe enjoyer. I don’t know what to make of the mystery of the overflowing chambers. The two reviews of these pipes’ level of smoking quality are very high, one coming from a regular participant in an online pipe forum and the other from my friend Daryl. Given my run on inexplicable coincidences, maybe both Mastersens were smoked close to death by the same perp.

But on with the restore I must go. The beautiful briar needed a light stain, and I didn’t want to overdo that part of the task. The only problem was that I wanted the bowl to be a tad darker than the shank, and the darker stain I had was very dark, Lincoln Marine Cordovan (deep maroon) alcohol-based leather conditioner. Taking a wild chance, I used that on the bowl and rim and Fiebing’s Brown on the shank. I was surer than the first people to test the A-Bomb were with the risk they took that I could remove enough of the excess darkness from the bowl without scratching it. The scheme still must sound plain crazy. Anyway, after flaming out the alcohol with a Bic, I set it aside for 10 minutes. mas26 mas27The father of my best friend in high school used to wake up or snap out of a reverie, stretch, yawn and say, “Well, hell!” Those are the words that came to my very conscious mind as I chose 500-grit paper to begin eliminating the ash-like residue and over-darkness from the stain. mas29I applied Halcyon II wax and let it sit for 20 minutes before rubbing the stummel with the same soft cotton cloth shown above.mas30The next photos don’t quite show the subtle difference, but it is there, as I think the final shots will reveal. I was almost done, I thought. All that was left with the stummel was to make the color still lighter. Using the finest third of my micro mesh pads, I gave it a strong buff with 4000, 8000 and 12000, and even then resorted once more to the super fine steel wool. My rim work is clear here.mas31 mas32The stummel finished, I looked for the bit and remembered I had not yet built up the tenon that was too narrow to fit the Mastersen shank. With other more pressing business to tend, I did not begin that stage for another two days. When the other matters were caught up for the time being, I considered the discolored replacement bit and gave it an OxiClean bath with a scoopful from a new tub of the powdered detergent and bleach and removed the resulting crud that was leeched out of the Vulcanite/Ebonite with 320- and 220-grit paper. I also buffed with the full range of micro mesh. As a point of interest, did you know if you Google Ebonite, almost all of the links are to bowling balls? It seems that is now the primary material for the balls used by serious participants in that sport, as it can be given color. mas33 mas34I started the process of building up the tenon with Black Super Glue. This part took several more days. After the first layer, I added fine scrapings of Vulcanite from an old bit thrashed beyond hope of repair.mas35 mas36 mas37 mas38At last the two pieces of the puzzle fit together, and I connected them.mas39 mas40 mas41 mas42 mas43 mas44 mas45 mas46CONCLUSION
Although the grain does not have the same uniform, vertical tightness and the color is not as light as I hoped to achieve, I can say without hesitation the task was worth every bit of bewitchment, bother and bewilderment I encountered. But this seems like the perfect way to celebrate Labor Day, although this was a labor of love, not work.

But in all honesty I should add that Daryl’s recent fine acquisitions are beginning to get on my nerves.