Blog by Steve Laug
The Savinelli Tortuga line is an interesting looking line of pipes. It comes with a tortoise shell Lucite stem that has an amber looking stem. The mottled browns, golds and yellows of the stem shimmer in the light when they are polished. The pipes are aptly named for the look of an animal they convey. Tortuga is the Spanish or Catalan word for Tortoise and it shows in the design of these striking pipes. The pipe that I am working on at the moment is one of those beauties. It is stamped Savinelli over Tortuga on the left side of the shank and on the right it is stamped with a Savinelli Shield followed by the shape number 114KS over Italy. In the photos from the eBay seller the pipe appeared to be in decent shape. The finish was darkened with grime and the rim had some darkening and tars on the top but the inner and outer edges of the bowl appeared to be in great shape. There was a light cake in the bowl. The stem looked good as well (what could be seen in the photos as they were cut off at the button). There appeared to be a stamp of some sort on top of the stem. I assumed that it was the standard Savinelli S shield. From the pictures it appeared that the tenon was white. Over all, the pipe looked to be in decent shape and since the pipes are now discontinued they are no longer available.Each briar of this series sported not only a tortoiseshell-patterned stem, but also a domed, shell-like cap with a foam-rubber stopper. The purpose of the stopper was to preserve an unfinished smoke which one wishes to pick up again to finish later The domed lid on this bowl had long since disappeared with this pipe. In fact I have never seen one over the many I have cleaned up that came with the matching lid. I found a picture on the web that showed the pipe with a lid on the bowl.My brother cleaned up the externals and did a light cleaning on the internals of the pipe. He was able to remove the grime in the finish and broke through the light varnish coat on the bowl. When it arrived in Vancouver it was in decent shape. The finish appeared a bit mottled from the cleaning but the rim was very clean. The bowl had been reamed and cleaned. The stem looked good but had some light tooth chatter at the button on the top and underside. The Savinelli logo of the S within the shield was stamped on the top of the saddle stem in gold. It was in great shape. When I removed the stem I saw that it was set up the Savinelli unique 6mm filter system. In the shank/stem a bore of 6mm was drilled to hold a triangular piece of balsa wood. This lightweight piece of wood is extremely porous and absorbs tar and nicotine from the smoke. The tenon was white Delrin. The tenon was stained, but otherwise clean. I took some close up photos of the rim and the stem to show the condition. This pipe was in excellent shape other than wear and tear to the finish. The stem shows the light tooth chatter in the photos below.I started my work by removing the rest of the varnish coat and the spotty top finish on the bowl. I wiped it down with acetone on cotton pads and was able to smooth out the finish. The nice oxblood stain looked more even once the pipe had been wiped down. Once it was polished the finish would look great. After I wiped it down I took some photos of the stamping on the shank. You can see the name on the left side of the shank. It is very clearly stamped and there are no issues with the stamping there. On the right side the stamp is very readable however, the Italy stamping is faint at the beginning of the word and the middle of the shape number is lighter than the rest of the stamping.Because of the wide diameter of the mortise I used a dental spatula to scrape out the hardened tars in that area. I cleaned the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I cleaned out the 6mm tenon with cotton swabs and alcohol and scrubbed the stained area on the end.The tooth chatter was not deep so I decided to work on it with the micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and was able to remove the chatter. I polished it with 3200-12000 grit pads to get the shine back on the stem. I rubbed the bowl down with a light coat of olive oil and let it dry. I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and worked on some of the remaining scratches on the stem edges. I was able to polish those out. I buffed the bowl and worked on the rim edges and top to smooth out any marks that remained in those spots. There were a few small nicks in the bowl and most of them disappeared in the buffing. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. It is important to take this step in the buffing process as it really adds to the shine of the pipe. I finished by hand buffing it with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This one will also end up on the rebornpipes store when I get a chance. I will include a 6mm balsa wood filter for it. It is a beautiful pipe that would make a nice addition to any pipe man’s rack. If you are interested contact me via email at email@example.com or through messenger on Facebook. Thanks for looking.