Monthly Archives: November 2016

Polishing a Chair Leg/Fancy Stem


I have a GBD Tapestry that I am restoring, hopefully it will be done in the next day or so. I really like the Tapestry line; this makes my second one in different shapes. They have a fancy “chair leg” stem that while attractive are a pain to polish, especially if they are heavily oxidized, as this one was. 


You can see the “problem” areas in the photos. Unfortunately I forgot to take photos before beginning to remove the oxidation and calcification, which were quite thick. 

Remembering back to the first one I restored, I thought that sharing the method I use on this type of stem would be helpful to others. It’s not a fast process but it is pretty well foolproof because no machines are used, only “you power” and buffing compound on a piece of thin leather lace. 

I use 3/32″ lace but it also comes in 1/4″. I imagine other materials would work, too. I drag the lace across the bar of compound to load it after putting the stem in a hobby vise. (I use this table top vise with only my hand for holding the vise in place – it has rubbed coated jaws – so I don’t put too much stress on the stem and possibly break it.) I take one end of the lace in each hand and rub it using a “sawing” motion (pull the lace toward me with my right hand, then my left, repeat) in the crevices, reloading the compound as needed, until the oxidation is gone. 

It does require some time and effort but there’s almost no chance of getting the stem out of shape, ruining the graceful lines, or breaking it. 

Ria_io Selection Italy Full Bent Billiard


Blog by Dal Stanton

The pipe before me now was acquired from an eBay seller in Arkansas.  The full bent shape (billiard or egg?) as well as the reddish, highlighted rustification drew my attention to this pipe – the rustified bowl reminded me of a bee hive – the tree hangers that Winnie the Pooh greatly coveted.  Undoubtedly, a good choice for those pipe wielders who enjoy the tactile and sensory connection with the briar.  Overall, it looked like it would fit well in a new steward’s palm.  Information about the pipe was scant from the eBay seller, as is usually the case: Selection from Italy, was all.  The eBay pictures describe some of the strengths and needs of this beehive rustified bent billiard:rialto1 rialto2 rialto3 rialto4When I retrieved the pipe from the ‘Help me!’ basket and put it on my work table here in Sofia, Bulgaria, I took some additional pictures to fill the gaps and show some problem areas.  The rim of the bee hive bowl shows significant wear and some chips out of the briar.  The immediate question in my mind is, can the chips be repaired to maintain the rustified rim and the tight bowl crown or will I need to top the rim and loose some valuable real estate in the process of its repair?  AND to re-rustify the rim – a first for me.  The inner bowl appears to be in good shape – mild cake but I will ream it and bring it down to briar for a fresh start.  The stummel needs a thorough cleaning of the rustified mountains and valleys.  The bent stem is in good shape – mild oxidation and tooth chatter around the bit.  With a closer look at the nomenclature on the lower shank I discover a marking that is barely perceptible and due to a rustification canyon dissecting the middle of the word, a letter is missing of what appears to be a 6-letter name: RIA_IO over SELECTION with ITALY off to the right side.  Since the pipe is from Italy, I searched Pipedia.com and Pipephil.eu and could not identify an origin.  I went to Google Translate’s Italian to English tool and inserted every potential letter in the #4 slot and only came up with two cogent, Italian words: 1) Riario: The name of a prominent Italian family in the 1400s from Savona, near Genoa, which had special ties with and enjoyed the favor of Pope sixtus iv.  This does not seem to be too helpful in establishing the credentials of this pipe.  The only other translate nibble was: 2) Riadio, English: Radio.  Therefore, Radio over Selection?  Maybe.  Does anyone recognize this name: RIA_IO??rialto5 rialto6 rialto7 rialto8I take a second and third look at the rim damage and put the brain in gear to come up with a plan.  The first order of business is to plop the stem in the Oxy-Clean bath to raise the oxidation in the vulcanite.  Following this I will ream the bowl down to the briar and then clean the exterior of the rim and stummel to get a better look at the briar surface – the canyons and crevices in the rustification can hide a lot of crud.  We need to clean things up.  Using the Pipnet reaming kit I use the two smallest blades to navigate the narrow fire chamber.  After these blades, I fine-tune the ream using the Savinelli pipe knife.  Then, I roll up 240 grit paper around a dowel rod and sand the bowl from top to bottom.  Finally, I wipe the bowl down with a cotton pad and a bit of alcohol.  The picture shows the reaming tools.rialto9With undiluted Murphy’s Soap I go to work cleaning the rim and stummel surface.  I use a bristle tooth brush to do the job.  I’m careful to keep the internals dry during the wash.  After scrubbed, I rinse the stummel in warm tap water.rialto10What the clean-up reveals is a lot of work I did not see before.  I’ve never tried my hand at the rustification process, but I will need to do that to bring this pipe back to its original condition.  The upper front of the stummel is almost completely flattened and void of the rustification patterns.  It looks as if this section was dragged across the pavement and skinned up.  This skinned up damage goes right up to the rim as chunks of the briar are missing.  This pipe has taken quite a beating.  Even though it wasn’t my desire, I’ll need to top the bowl to remove as much damage as possible while maintaining shape integrity.  I’ll need to read up on rustification techniques and give it a go.  The only redeeming aspect of the front bowl skin up is that shadows of the former patterns are detectable which can be followed.  Bringing a new finish to the skinned patch, blending the colors too, will be a challenge.  The next pictures show the damage but also serve to be a record of the appearance of the rim when I try to imitate it. rialto11 rialto12I begin this daunting project by topping the rim using a chopping board and 240 grit sanding paper.  I’m careful to let the inverted stummel ‘free stand’ to make sure I’m getting a level top.  I rotate the inverted stummel in a circular motion checking my progress often – I don’t want to take off more than is necessary. I’m careful to keep an eye on the full bend shank as well – there’s not a lot of clearance.  The rim does not need to be totally topped smooth because I will be re-applying rustification yet the topping restores a foundation of healthy briar.  rialto13 rialto14I need to reestablish the rustification patterns in the damaged area.  I’ve read about this but there’s nothing like doing….  I’ve chosen different Dremel wood chiseling tools which I hope will emulate the patterns already in place on the beehive bowl.  Easy does it!  Patience!  Prayer! The following pictures chronicle my slow, experimental approach reestablishing the rustification in this worthy pipe.rialto15 rialto16 rialto17 rialto18 rialto19 rialto20 rialto21 rialto22 rialto23Regarding the hurdle of refinishing the stummel surface in a way that hopefully blends with the native scheme, was a question that required a better mind than what I could bring to bear – an email off to Steve would hopefully remedy this novice’s paralysis.  While waiting for a reply from Steve in Canada, I went to work on the clean-up of the stem and stummel internals.  Fishing the stem out of the Oxy-Clean bath, I sanded the raised, classic olive green oxidation with 600 grit paper then with 0000 steel wool.  Now for the internals.  I use Q-tips and alcohol to run through the stem making sure that the primary gunk was moved.  I did the same with the stummel – it took some time to open the airway with pipe cleaners.  To loosen the clogging, I poured some isopropyl 95% down the mortise to let it soak.  I also gently employed a short piece of cut hanger to help push through the gunk.  With airway open, I reunite stummel and stem and utilize the retort to clean the internals.  After the retort did its work, I finish the internal cleaning job with Q-tips and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl.  The internals are clean!  The pictures show the progress.rialto24 rialto25 rialto26 rialto27The bit area of the stem is not in bad condition.  I use the heat of a candle to help raise the tooth dent on the lower bit and sand upper and lower with 240 grit paper to work out the very light chatter.  I redefine the button lips with a flat needle file. rialto28 rialto29 rialto30I continue with the micromesh phase of the stem restoration.  With micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand followed by a coat of Obsidian Oil.  Then with micromesh pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000 I dry sand, following each set with an application of Obsidian Oil. The pictures show the progress.  I love the wet ‘pop’ look on polished vulcanite!rialto31 rialto32Steve’s email arrived and the plan is set.  Using Oxblood Leather Dye, I first stain the peaks of the rustified bare briar.  I use a folded pipe cleaner to apply the dye.  I also apply it to the rim – a splotch there and a splotch there – trying to vary the application.  I lightly flame the Oxblood to set it in the grain.  Then, taking a Sharpie black pen point, I highlight the deep crevices of the rustification and mark here and there on the rim – seeking to be random.  After this, I used Fiebing’s Dark Brown Dye and applied it over the entire repair area and the rim.  I lightly flamed it and then lightly rubbed the surface with a cotton cloth to soften the look.  Finally, I took a cotton pad with some alcohol – not much, and lightly rubbed the peaks of the rustification to release the Oxblood.  The result was not exactly emulating the red flecks over the stummel, but I grew to like the subtler interpretation of the new finish in contrast with the original.  I’m pleased with the finish.  The pictures tell the story.rialto33 rialto34 rialto35 rialto36 rialto37 rialto38The home stretch.  I apply Museum Wax to the stummel and buff it with a shoe brush to protect the rustification and bring out a nice shine.  Reattaching the stem, I apply coats of carnauba wax with the Dremel wheel to shine and protect the stem.  I know that carnauba is usually not applied to a rustified bowl but since I was using the Dremel wheel, I gave it a go.  I really liked the results.  I could angle and maneuver the wheel to work the carnauba over the rustified surface and I could easily detect the movement of the wax as I pushed it around with the Dremel wheel. It shined the stummel nicely.  I completed this project with a rigorous buff with a micromesh cloth.

I like the rugged looks and feel of this large fully bent bee hive billiard from Italy.  It fits the palm well!  I hope that it finds a good home with someone soon!  Thanks for joining me!rialto39 rialto40 rialto41 rialto42 rialto43 rialto44 rialto45 rialto46 rialto47 rialto48 rialto49

A Stanwell Danish Star 64


Blog by Steve Laug

My brother sent me a nice looking Stanwell shape 64 with a nice plateau top. The briar itself was in good shape. There were no dents of nicks in the briar. The finish was in great shape. The rim was decent but the plateau was clean and in decent shape. The high spots were the same brown as the bowl and the nooks and crannies were dark brown or black. It was stamped on the left side of the stem with the words Stanwell over Danish Star. On the right side it was stamped with the shape number 64. On the underside of the shank it is stamped Made in Denmark. The stem was lightly oxidized and there were tooth marks on the top and underside near the button. The bite marks on the underside were deep but the ones on the topside was a bite through into the airway.danish1 danish2I took a close up photo of the top of the bowl. It shows the grooves, crevices and the high spots on the plateau top. It was dirty and there was dust in the grooves of the rim.danish3I took close up photos of the stem to show the condition of the top and bottom side of the stem. The photo of the top shows the bite through and the tooth marks that were further down the stem top. The photo of the underside shows the tooth marks there as well. The tooth marks were deep and large. There were also bite marks on the top and the bottom of the button.danish4I sanded the surfaces of the stem and cleaned out the dents in the surface with alcohol and cotton swabs. I greased a pipe cleaner with Vaseline and inserted it into the airway of the stem. I mixed a putty of charcoal powder and black super glue with a piece of straightened paper clips. I filled in the bite through with putty and the paper clip until it was thickly covered. I filled in the dents in the surface of the stem and built up the worn spots on the button edge. I sprayed the repairs with the accelerator to harden the repair.danish5 danish6 danish7When the glue had hardened and cured I used a file to smooth out the repaired spots on both sides of the stem.danish8I sanded the repaired areas with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface and remove the scratches left by the file. It took some time but I was able to sand out the scratches.danish9I filled in some of the air holes in the repair with clear super glue and sanded the surface with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the stem.danish10I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set aside to dry.danish11 danish12 danish13The plateau top was in great shape. I used a black Sharpie pen to highlight the grooves and crevices in the rim top. I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to raise a shine and remove the last of the scratches on the vulcanite. I buffed the bowl surface to polish out the light scratches in the briar. The Blue Diamond gave the finish on both the bowl and the stem a high shine. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The colour of the stain on the pipe really makes the grain stand out clearly on the pipe. Thanks for having a look.danish14 danish15 danish16 danish17 danish18 danish19 danish20 danish21

Calabash No Name from eBay


Blog by Dal Stanton

After celebrating our daughter’s wedding and family reunion in the US and returning to Bulgaria, I was anxious to begin a new restoration.  While in the US, I added a few pipes to the pool when my wife and I stopped at an antique store advertised on an interstate billboard between Nashville and Chattanooga – this story for the future.   I’ve developed a bit of an eBay purchases trove and I found in the ‘Help Me!’ basket what I believe is a Calabash shaped unmarked briar from a seller in New Mexico.  I was drawn by the shape and the lateral movement of grain – a very nice looking piece of briar with great potential.  I wasn’t sure on the shape and checked out Pipedia’s Pipe Shapes Chart (Link) and Calabash seems to be the best fit – please let me know if I missed!  The seller’s pictures provided a descent chronicle of the pipe’s strengths and needs.cal1 cal2 cal3The pictures reveal stummel externals in very good shape except for heavy oil and lava overflow on the rim.  The stem is heavily oxidized and has a tooth hole on the underside of the bit – definitely an eye tooth hanger!  Both upper and lower button areas have teeth bites and significant chatter.  The button lip will also need smoothing and redefinition.  By the looks of this pipe, it was someone’s well-loved and used partner in life.  When I put the Calabash on my worktable I take some additional close-ups to focus on the problem areas and I take a closer look.  In the bowl, I discover what appear to be cracks in the briar in the front and backsides.  At this point, I’m not sure if this is only superficial within the cake or if it presents other problems.  I also take a closer look at the stem hole after inserting a pipe cleaner.cal4 cal5 cal6Before I can make a clear assessment of the bowl and the cracks, I decide first to ream the bowl with the Pipnet reaming kit to reveal the wall’s condition and to clean up the rim.  I also remove the stem and plop it in a bath of Oxy-Clean to begin softening the heavy oxidation in the vulcanite.  I use 3 of the 4 blades available in the Pipnet kit.  The cake was light.  I finish the reaming process using the Savinelli pipe knife and clean the walls by sanding with 240 grit paper pinched with the Savinelli knife.cal7 inspect the cracks in the bowl and decide to shoot a question off and some pics to Steve to get his input.  I then use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and clean the stummel surface with cotton pads. In addition, to remove the thick lava on the rim, I utilize a brass brush which will not scratch the wood.cal8 cal9Putting the stummel aside, I retrieve the stem from the Oxyclean bath and wet sand the raised oxidation with 600 grit paper and follow dry sanding with 0000 steel wool.  In anticipation of working on the patch for the tooth hole I want to clean the internals of the stem.  I use several pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% and things are cleaning up well.cal10With the stem cleaned up from I move to repair the tooth hole.  This is a first time for me so I fill my mental cup reading several different blogs regarding hole repair and techniques.  One of the necessary ingredients for a repair is activated charcoal powder mixed with superglue to create a putty for the hole patch.  Living in Bulgaria, I was not able locate activated charcoal in powder state but we do have pet stores and we do have aquariums which require charcoal for the filtering system.  The problem is that this charcoal comes in a granulated form.  This problem was solved with a technique and tool going back some millennia with the use of a pestle and mortar.  I pictured a comparison of before and after below.  My only concern is that the charcoal powder I am producing with the pestle and mortar is fine enough to form a smooth blended patch.  We will see.cal11With activated charcoal powder now in hand, I take another close-up of the damaged bit.  To provide a good bond between the patch and vulcanite I score and roughen the area with 240 grit sanding paper, working the paper around the hole and to loosen and remove debris in the hole itself.  I follow that with a Q-tip cleaning dipped in alcohol.  I want the area clean.  I cut a piece of an index card, fold it into a hard point that will fit in the button and wrap the end with tape and then put Vaseline over it to assure that the patch has a solid surface underneath so putty doesn’t leak into the airway and will easily slide out after the patch sets. I pour a small mound of charcoal on an index card then I drip a small puddle of Starbond Black Medium KE-150 glue next to the charcoal.  Using a toothpick, I begin to mix the glue and charcoal a bit at a time so that I can judge the viscosity of the emerging putty – I’m aiming for a honey-like thickness.  When the putty begins to thicken as I add charcoal, I arrive at what I hope is the accurate brew!  Using the toothpick as a trowel, I apply charcoal putty to the hole, tamping each application and making sure I reach the depths of the hole and over-cover the damaged area building a bit of a mound.  After the patch cures, I will remove the excess putty.  I’ll give it a full 48 hours before continuing the work to assure the patch is solid and good for years to come.  After the patch sets a bit, I flip the stem and apply drops of Starbond Black Medium KE-150 to the tooth dents on the upper bit area.  The pictures show the progress.cal12 cal13 cal14With the stem patches curing I return to the stummel.  Steve’s email arrived with his reply to my questions about dealing with the cracks in the inner bowl.  He described his method of applying a paste made from a mixture of cigar ash and water to the cracks and bowl wall.  Yes, I remember previously reading about this in one of his restores!  This will come later after I’m able to collect some cigar ash – Cubans are readily available in Bulgaria.  I want high quality ash!  I take another close-up of the stummel as I re-inspect the surface.  I find one small crevice which I will fill with clear super-glue.  First, using a cotton pad I clean the surface of the stummel with acetone to remove any residual finish.  I then apply a drop of super glue on the small crevice above the shank junction and put the stummel down for the night to let the superglue fill to cure.cal15 cal16The next day, ready to move forward, I strategically sand down the superglue fill with 240 grit paper removing the excess glue bringing the patch down to the briar surface assuring a good blend.cal17When I think of the classic Calabash look, the stummel shape is crowned with a distinct cap.  To enhance this look and to remove some damaged, colored briar around the inner rim, I want to enhance and augment the bevel already present.  Using a coarser 120 grit paper tightly rolled, I cut the fresh bevel then I follow using a rolled-up piece of 240 grit paper to smooth the new bevel.  Pictures show the progress.cal18 cal19Before continuing with the rim repair and the stummel finish, I want to clean the stummel internals with a retort but I’ll need to return to the stem bit repair and do the sanding on the patches first.  The retort’s rubber hose will not expand enough to attach directly to the shank so I need to utilize the stem.  I am anxious to see how my first attempt at a hole repair faired.  Utilizing a flat needle file and 240 grit paper I sand the patch down to the stem surface. The patch is blending well but I detect very small, what I assume are air pockets, emerge during the sanding.  From my reading, I found that this is normal, but these appear to be too small to treat with a bit of superglue. I’ll keep my eye on this during the stem finishing phase.  On the upper bit, I also sand the superglue patches of the tooth dents to the stem surface with 240 grit paper.  With a needle file, I redefine the button lip a bit smoothing out where there were tooth bites.  The pictures show the progress on both the underside and the upperside of the bit – I’m liking what I see.cal19a cal20I don’t want to proceed any further until cleaning the internals of the stummel.  I will use the retort to accomplish this.  With cotton ball in the bowl, alcohol boiling in the test tube I begin the process.  I take a couple of shots of the progressive dirtying of the alcohol.  I forgot to take the final where the used alcohol was almost clear.  After the pipe cools from the retort, I remove the stem and finish the internal cleaning with some Q-tips and pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol 95%.   Internals are clean!cal21 cal22 cal23Turning again to the stem, I begin the micromesh process.  I wet sand with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400. Before applying Obsidian Oil, I want to take a close look at the tooth hole patch on the underside of the bit.  I’m not happy with what I find. With the first set of micromesh sanding pads the pocketing in the patch is more pronounced.  Air pockets?  Or, perhaps my charcoal powder was too coarse?  I’m not satisfied with these results so, even though it is a detour, I want to try to rectify the problem.  I apply a thin coat of CA Instant Glue over the area.  I’m hoping that the glue will fill the pocket and allow a smoother surface to emerge – enhancing the blend with the native vulcanite.  I clean the area with a bit of alcohol on a cotton pad then I apply the CA Glue.  I’m hopeful that this will do the trick.cal24Turning now to the stummel externals, I first use a medium and then a light grade sanding sponge, focusing on the rim to work out pits and roughness left over from the lava clean up.  Following the sanding sponges, I wet sand the stummel using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  As I watched the beauty of the grain emerge, I made the decision not to apply a stain but to keep the natural briar – a rich, thick, swirl of honey.  This no name Calabash is dressing up nicely.cal25 cal26Time to return to the stem and complete the lower bit tooth hole patch and to prepare the stem for the waiting bowl.  I ‘gently’ approach the sanding with 240 grit paper to lightly smooth the re-superglued patch down to the stem surface.  The ‘gentleness’ is due to not wanting to sand deeper than the reapplication, increasing the potential of uncovering new pockets.  I also again apply the flat needle file to define the lower button lip and then remove the file marks with the 240 grit paper.  I follow with 600 grit sanding paper and finally, I finish with 0000 steel wool.  I think the hole patch is improved and now I’ll trust the rest of the finishing and polishing process to blend the patch as much as possible.  In the picture below one can still detect the patch boundaries but the surface is much smoother.cal27With tooth hole charcoal superglue putty patch officially completed, I restart the micromesh sanding process by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400 followed by an application of Obsidian Oil to absorb into the vulcanite surface. Then dry sanding with micromesh pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000, completing each set with an application of Obsidian Oil.  The pictures show the progress.  The last picture in this set I flip the stem to show the hole repair.  I think it’s ok, and as they say, “It is what it is.”cal28 cal29I have two mini-projects left before I begin the final polishing and waxing processes with the Dremel.  I want to dress up this ‘No Name’ Calabash with a band.  The beauty of this pipe emerged along the way and the classy Calabash shape just cries out, “Band!”  So, band it is.  I think it will look great.  The other project is to fill the cracks in the bowl with ‘Pipe Mud’ per Steve’s email response to my questions earlier in the restoration. I recalled reading about ‘Pipe Mud’ before and it didn’t take long to find it in the vast Rebornpipes.com archives.  Steve’s tutorial was helpful and to the point by point as usual (See: Link), but also of value for newbies to the hobby are the comments following – more links and practices to add to the mix!

Gary, my friend and colleague who lives in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, happily responded to my plea for ‘quality’ cigar ash.  I am now in possession of ash the byproduct of 2 Cubans – the second of which he smoked with me Thanksgiving Day evening as we gathered to celebrate together in Sofia – I smoked my favorite black Cavendish blend, Lane BCA, in the pipe I call, Ole Pot.  I take a couple close-ups to get a look at the cracks in the bowl. I’m not sure the source of these crevices but they appear to be grouped mid-way down the bowl both in the front and back of the bowl wall.  On a hunch, I look at the exterior and I think my hunch is correct.  The grain of the stummel moves horizontally though the bowl.  When I look at the front and back of the external grain patterns, I find birds eye grain pattern – which represent the cut through, perpendicular perspective of the grain.  The sides of the stummel reveal the side of the grain – the horizontal flow.  So, these cracks appear to me to be the grain splitting – it appears like dry split wood.  Not sure ‘why?’ but this is my theory.  The third and fourth pictures below show the external theory:cal30 cal31First, to prepare to make the pipe mud, I take the Cuban ash and crush it with the end of a pipe nail.  With tweezers, I picked out debris and make sure there are no large chunks.  The gray powder in the pictures is the aim.cal32Next, I use a dental probe to dig a bit in the cracks to make sure there is no loose debris.  Then I take a few bent pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl and clean the bowl wall.  I put the ash in a shot glass and slowly add water with an eyedropper and mix the mud with the pipe nail.  When the consistency of the mud is like paste, I use a bent pipe cleaner to paint the mud on the wall – careful to tamp in to fill the crevices.  I keep an eye on the areas with crevices as the mud dries in the bowl, making sure that it doesn’t shrink, but remains even with the bowl wall – as Steve’s tutorial instructed.  In about a half hour the mud is dry and forms a pretty hard surface.  The pipe mud will form a foundation for a cake to develop which provides a protective layer for the briar.  Until this happens, care is given to not ream or aggressively scrape the bowl wall.   The pictures show the progress.cal33The next project is adding a band to dress up the No Name Calabash – a touch of class.  The shank diameter is 17.5 millimeters in diameter and I fish out a 17.5 band to match the diameter.  Some months ago, I purchased an assortment of bands to have on hand from J. H. Lowe’s online store.   I’ve done one band previous to this, my first restoration which Steve published on rebornpipes (A Newbie Restore of a Dr. Plumb 9456) which went well.  The mantra I remember from Steve’s tutorial on banding (Link) was the need for patience in applying heat and micro-inching the band up the shank – a hot band could tear if forced to quickly. I set up a handy work station on a solid wooden stool that I can straddle.  I fold a towel and place it over a chopping block to provide a firm, but soft foundation to use as I press the stummel inching the heated band up the shank.  My air gun fits nicely on the platform as well.  About 1/10th of the band fit over the end of the shank at the beginning.  I heat the band rotating it, careful not to burn the wood then put it to the toweled surface and press – firmly but only a bit.  Repeating the process several times.  The pictures below show this.  The last in the set shows the progress of the band’s movement up the shank – almost home!cal34 cal35It was going so well, until it wasn’t!  With millimeters left before the band was flush with the shank, a press against the surface caused a portion of the band to crimp (pictured).  This was not part of the plan.  Different possible scenarios fill my mind for next steps to try to back out of the situation and to salvage the banding project.  I’m concerned that the band has torn at one of the crimp points because I can detect a sharp edge to the touch.  Time for an ‘SOS’ message to Steve with the picture below.cal36Steve’s response was helpful – to heat the band as before and with a small flat screw driver, straighten out the crimping and then continue again with the heating and pressing to bring the end of the band flush with the shank.  The following pictures show the salvage operation.  I begin by heating and bringing the bent edge back out using a small flat head screw driver.  As this progressed, I improvised, using the round head of a pipe nail to help reestablish the round of the band by heating and placing the head in the lip of the band and rolling it like a wheel while rotating the stummel.  Once things start regaining normal, I use a needle file gently filing the edge to remove sharp splinters.  I also filed a bit on the external ‘pucker points’ that help reestablish roundness and a smoother surface, but not perfect.cal37 cal38 cal39As I return now to heating and pressing to complete mounting the band on the shank, my concern is the weakened area of the band will simply crimp again with the process.  I decide to heat the band up a bit more than I did before, hopefully to enable the band expansion more economically and to add more towel padding between the band and the hard surface below.  I return to heating and pressing and thankfully, the result is a seated band with a few battle scars along the way!cal40 cal41When I attempt to rejoin the stem and new banded stummel, I find that increased compression on the shank from the new band has created a tighter mortise/tenon fit.  To release some of the tightness of this fit I wrap the tenon with 240 grit paper and rotate it to reduce the size of the tenon but keep it in round.  I rotate and test the new fit several times until I get it right.  I don’t want to take too much off the tenon and have a loose fit.  I get my first look at the reunited stummel and stem and I like what is before me! I take a close-up on the underside of the shank to show the area of the band crimp and repair.  I’m satisfied now with the repair job; I will see if I can improve it through the polishing process.cal42 cal43Now the fun begins!  With stem and stummel united, I begin the polishing phase using Tripoli over stummel and band.  I mount the Tripoli wheel in the Dremel’s hand-held extender and power it up at the lowest setting (RPMs) and after purging the wheel with the tightening tool, I light tap the wheel on the Tripoli bar and apply it to the surface.  With all the compounds, I do not apply too much vertical pressure to the wheel but allow the speed of the Dremel and compound to do the work.  After the Tripoli, I switch to the Blue Diamond wheel and repeat the process above but include the stem as well as stummel and band.  After this, I give the pipe a good rub down to remove powder left over from the compounds.  With the carnauba wheel mounted (after purging) I apply several applications of carnauba wax then change the Dremel to a clean wheel and buff the entire stem and stummel.   I complete the polishing with a brisk buff with a micromesh cloth to bring out the depth of the briar even more.

I learned three new skills to put in my tool box – making and applying Pipe Mud, rescuing a botched band mounting, and repairing a tooth hole using a charcoal super glue putty.  Not bad.  I’m very pleased with this ‘No Name Calabash’.  The honey-colored briar is stunning as it flows through the stummel – the depth of the grain almost appears 3-dimensional.  The band is a nice addition – it dresses it up, like putting on a tux. I trust that this pipe finds a good home.  Thank you for joining me!cal44 cal45 cal46 cal47 cal48 cal49 cal50 cal51

 

A Barling’s Make ‘Ye Olde Wood’ Pre-transition 37


Blog by Kent Mosher

Kent and I both graduated from Multnomah in Portland, Oregon though a few decades apart. We connected on Facebook in one of the pipe smokers groups. I invited Kent to write up some of his restorations for us on rebornpipes. I also asked for a brief bio to introduce him to the readers. I include the bio below and immediately following that is his first restoration on rebornpipes. Thanks Kent for the blog and a warm welcome to rebornpipes.

I have been smoking a pipe since I was 18 years old. While pipe smoking was in my family history with my Grandfather, he died before I was born and my father smoked his dad’s pipes only a few times when I was a kid. So my journey into the pipe was completely unguided and self-taught (and a secret from my parents at the time). I had no mentor or club or YouTube to teach me how.

Being a young man when I began my journey into pipe smoking, I did not have much of a pipe-buying budget to speak of. I found that I could acquire higher quality pipes for my collection by buying vintage and used pipes (I only later learned these are known as estate pipes) instead of new pipes. My first real pipe was an Ebay purchase of a Savinelli 614 Silver, which I chose based on the little knowledge I had of quality pipe makers at the time (and the oom-paul shape made it easy to hide from my parents).

After that, I just always opted for estate pipes when shopping for an addition to my collection. In fact, I didn’t purchase a new, unsmoked pipe for 13 years. But it took me a decade before I learned how to properly clean up a used pipe. Once I started cleaning up my own collection using acceptable methods (mostly learned from rebornpipes) I realized how much I enjoyed breathing new life into derelict pipes that should otherwise last several lifetimes. So I keep learning ad experimenting, some ideas succeed and some fail. I’ve ruined a few pipes beyond repair. I saved a few from the grave. I am grateful to Steve and all the contributors to Reborn Pipes blog for teaching me the way into something I now deeply enjoy.

A good briar pipe, under the care of the sort of character that pipe smokers tend to be, should outlast its owner for several generations. When you invest in a pipe, you are folding in a piece of family lineage that will connect you to generations ahead of you.

To date, my most valuable pipe is not my most expensive one. It is the one given to me by my dad, who, as a young man bought it as a gift for his dad; a man who died before I was born. I never met my grandfather, but every time I smoke his pipe, I engage with him as a third generation owner of a piece of his daily life.

This is the sort of experience I hope to offer to those who receive pipes I have worked on. To give something upon which, after many years of enjoyment, you and those after you will not be able to put a price.

Here is his restoration of a Barling’s Make.

I buy lots of estate pipes on eBay. And lots at yard sales and antique shops. Though they are much harder to find in your own local antique stores, there is something much more satisfying about finding a great pipe buried among the shelves and bins of cluttered antique dealer booths. eBay pretty much offers anything you might want to add to your collection, if you have the money to spend and want it enough. Local estate pipes have to be found and you never know what you may or may not come across.

If estate pipe shopping on eBay is like following GPS directions to predetermined coordinates. Then local estate pipe shopping is like being on safari and making an unexpected discovery of buried treasure that others have been passing by.

For this reason, there are certain kinds of pipes I hope to add to my collection that I refuse to buy online because I want them to be one of those rare finds that I actually found.

I recently marked one of these off my list; A Barling’s Make ‘Ye Olde Wood’ pre-transition model 37. While at an antique mall, I picked up a common pipe stand for $29 (I see one just like this at almost every antique mall I visit, but I won’t buy them for more than $10) and looked inside the humidor and found a real diamond of a pipe find. Rustling around in the dusty corners of old shops doesn’t always pay off. But when it does, it sure feels amazing.barling1 barling2 barling3I was able to date this pipe, based on the stamp style and model number to the “Pre-transition” or “Family Era” between the years of 1941 and 1962. You can find the lengthy and near-scholarly article on the production history B. Barling and Sons pipes here: https://pipedia.org/wiki/Barling.

This is the resource I used to date this pipe.

Two of the basic markers are these:
1. The size category of “EL” began in 1941.
2. The word “Barling’s” arched over the word “Make” as well as the 2-digit model numbers was used until 1962, after which they changed to 4-digit models numbers, marking the beginning of the “Transition Era” for the company.barling4 barling5Since the rim of the bowl had a fair amount of buildup, I decided to clean that area up first and see what condition the rim was in under the gunk. I used a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser wetted with saliva to rub away the buildup. It only took a few minutes of scrubbing to clear the rim of the junk and reveal a very beautiful top of the bowl.barling6I was really torn about the next stage of restoration. On higher value pipes, I always try to leave a pipe as original as possible, only make changes to its form or appearance if they are not necessary to remediate damage or excessive wear. Two things happened that influenced my decision in this matter.

  1. Unfortunately for this pipe, the sides of the bowl were very badly scratched and dented beyond what I might otherwise call a reasonable level of “character.” These needed to be fixed to make the pipe look as good as its reputation.
  2. When the stem came out of the OxyClean bath, I discovered that the detergent had removed the color from the famous cross pattern “Barling’s” stamp. I switched to using OxyClean primarily because of its non-threatening effects of stamp coloring and inlays. But this was the first time I have seen OxyClean have this effect. I knew that classic white stamp had to be saved somehow. The stem was also still a bit oxidized in some areas after the bath.barling7 barling8 barling9 barling10barling11So, I made the decision to sand the damage out in order to fully restore the finish, including the stem stamp coloring. Before starting with any abrasives, I slowly ran all the dented areas, including the tooth chatter in the bit, over my heat gun to help lift out any impacted material in an effort to reduce the depth of everything that needed sanding. It helped a little, but still left much work to do. I started with the stem stamp. I stole some white nail polish from my wife’s bathroom drawer and used it to generously fill in the stamp, leaving extra over the top to sand down.barling12I set the stem aside to let the nail polish to harden and got to work on the stummel. I sanded the stummel in two parts. Since the bowl had all the damage, I began wet-sanding the bowl only (leaving the shank alone) with 220 grit sandpaper. I followed that with a 320 grit wet-sand, and didn’t do any sanding of the shank until I got to 400 grit. At this 400 grit point, I attached the stem to begin sanding it as well along with the shank.Even in sanding the shank, I did not sand the nomenclature at all at this point. I carefully avoided all stamps with the courser grits, only giving a light passover of the stamp markings with 600 and 800 grit, just enough to break the gloss finish so it would take new stain. Once I reached 600 grit wet sanding, I now sanded the entire pipe and stem uniformly. I followed that with 800 grit over the entire pipe and stem, still treading very softly over the stamp markings.With all the sanding complete out to 800 grit, the stem came out almost exactly like most Barling’s of this age look present-day. They always have slightly worn centers of the stem stamp with solid color in the ends. It doesn’t look like a new stem. It looks like an old stem in really good condition. I was pretty happy with the result.

    The whole pipe overall was looking really good, now scratch and dent free, sanded to 800 grit across the board (the dark areas on the stummel are just water that was on my thumb).barling13barling14barling15From here, I took the whole pipe and stem together to my first polishing wheel loaded up with Brown Tripoli compound. Brown Tripoli has proven, for me, adequate to remove 800 grit scratches, and most 600 grit, when polished perpendicular to the direction of sanding.barling16barling17barling18barling19 After insuring all the scratches were polished out, I was ready to stain the stummel. I went with PIMO Pipecraft’s Brown Mahogany dye, because, among the colors I had on hand, it looked closest to the original color. I flamed off two applications of the dye and left the pipe for several hours to dry. I came back after some time and polished out the new dye with brown Tripoli compound.

    Then I wiped the whole pipe of any residual deposits of Tripoli compound and put it to my second polishing wheel loaded with white diamond compound to help give it a lasting gloss finish.

    I hand applied two coats of Halcyon II pipe wax, let it dry a few minutes, and then buffed it out with a dry flannel wheel I have set up to turn at 55 rpm on a small drill press I modified to be solely used for slow speed buffing.barling20barling21barling22barling23barling24 The end result, I am really happy with. I hope that I have preserved this rare and great pipe in name and age. I won’t be selling this one, per the sentiments stated in my opening paragraph. I look forward to enjoying this pipe for years in my collection as one of those rare gems I discovered in the real world, away from eBay.

Kaywoodie SuperGrain Streamliner 66


Blog by Aaron Henson

In June of 2016, Steve posted a great restoration of a Kaywoodie 61 by Lance Leslie.  Lance referred to the 61 as “the circus pipe”, a name his Grandfather had given it, no doubt because of the unique shape and the oval bowl.  At the time, I thought Lance had done a great restoration but I was not moved by the shape of the pipe.  Little did I know that in about a month’s time I would stumble upon its cousin, the 66, in a second hand store in Dallas.

The Kaywoodie shapes 61, 64 and 66 are EZ-set pipes (flat bottom) that are known as “Streamliner” shapes (pipedia).  I assume that the ‘streamline’ name comes from the oval shaped bowl that gives the pipe a slim profile and made it easy to fit into a vest pocket.  Although Kaywoodie had several other shapes that were “vest pocket” shapes, only the 61, 64 and 66 were called Streamliner shapes.

The Kaywoodie shape list further describes the 66 as a “forward leaning apple” and indicates that this shape was manufactured during the following two periods: 1935-1937, 1952-1960.  I was not able to pin down the manufacturer date any closer but based on its condition, I suspect it to be in the latter, post war, time period.

Once I had the pipe in hand I was drawn to it unique shape; kind of a boat shape with a curved prow.  Although a little odd feeling in the hand, I found it appealing.  Additionally, I could see that the quality of the briar under the grime was fantastic.  Of course, the pipe came home with me.kw1 kw2Inspecting the pipe at the workbench, there was a light build up on the rim with some under laying burn marks.  There was a medium cake formed in the bowl but it was not overly hard.  The stummel had some handling dings and scratches but none were very deep.  I looked for fills but found none and confirmed that the grain was superb.kw3The stem had a light amount of oxidation and a deep scratch about halfway down in the underside.  There was a little chatter around the button and a moderate tooth dent in the bottom side of the stem.  Removing the stem revealed the threads and the aluminum stinger to be in good condition, albeit covered in dried tars.kw4I began working on the stem by applying heat from a lighter to raise dent and even out the tooth chatter.  This was very effective but had the added effect of bring out some oxidation around the bit.  I set the stem to soak in a mild Oxi-clean bath and turned my attention to the stummel.

The first thing I like to do is clean out the bowl.  This gives me a good feel for the true condition of the briar.  Because of the narrow oval shape, I could not get any of the Castleford reamer heads to fit.  So I resorted to carefully scraping out the cake with a dull jackknife and finishing with a rolled piece of 80-grit sand paper.kw5With the cake gone, I discovered something that I was not expecting.  There were two air holes in the bottom of the bowl; one at either narrow end of the oval.  Inserting a pipe cleaner into the shank I could see that the airway extended straight under the bowl and both holes opened down into it.kw6Using a cotton pad and alcohol, I scrubbed the rim and was able to remove most of the tar.  I was happy to see that the much of what I thought was burn came off with the alcohol pad.  The burn marks that remained were on the inside of the rim and not very deep.kw7Before doing any other work on the stummel I wanted to try to lift any handling damage with steam.  I laid a clean, damp terry cloth rag over the wood then applied at clothes iron on high to the damp cloth.  The resulting steam will often lift the dents and shallow scratches that comes with handling or rattling around in a box or drawer.  It will also lift and remove the manufacturer’s stamps so be careful around those.

After steaming I used 320 grit paper I carefully sanded the rim trying to keep the original rounded shape while removing the burn marks.  Then I scrubbed the internals of the shank with cotton swabs until the swabs came out clean.kw8I wanted to sweeten the bowl and remove any ghosts of the former owner’s tobacco so I decided to do a bowl soak.  I plugged the shank with a cotton swab and packed the bowl with a cotton ball.  Then I filled the bowl with Isopropyl alcohol.  The alcohol draws out the old tobacco oils trapped in the briar from the briar and they in turn get trapped in the cotton.  While the bowl soaking, it was time to work on the stem.kw9Taking the stem out of the Oxi-clean bath I lightly sanded the stem with 500 then 1000 grit paper to remove the remaining oxidation and to smooth out the remaining tooth marks.  I cleaned the stinger with some 0000 steel wool and ran pipe cleaners through the internals until all was cleaned.  I polished the stem with the full range of micro mesh pads.  I apply a bit of mineral oil to the stem every few pads. This seems to help in the polishing process.kw10 kw11 kw12I finished the stummel by sanding with 1500 – 4000 micro mesh pads then wiped everything down with a light coat of mineral oil and let it set over night.  The next day, after work, I took the pipe to the buffing station and finished the polishing with red diamond compound.  Wiping off the excess rouge with a cotton cloth I changed buffing pads and sealed the pipe with three coats of carnauba wax.

Overall this was another easy cleanup, but I am very happy with the results. The more I worked on the 66 the more I came to like the shape.  Thank you for taking a look!kw13 kw14 kw15 kw16 kw17

 

GBD New Era 133 Restoration


By Al Jones

I love finding GBD “New Era” pipes, they are a definite step up the quality ladder, in contrast to the more commonly seen “New Standard” grade. This one is a Shape 133. It looked in decent condition, but held a few surprises. When the pipe was delivered, I discovered that a previous owner had filed the bottom flat to make it a sitter. There was also an issue with the button. The other issues were minor and typical of an estate pipe – bowl top build-up and an oxidized stem.

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The pipe was reamed and soaked with alcohol and sea salt. The stem was soaked in a mild Oxy-Clean solution. I used a cloth and warm water to rub off the majority of the build-up on the bowl top. The rim was slightly darkened, but I was able to lighten it with some 2000 grit wet paper. I buffed the bowl with White Diamond and several coats of carnuba wax.

The stem had a few dents that I was able to raise with some heat from a lighter. There was one sharp tooth impression that under magnification, showed it was a crack that went up into the edge of the button. I used some black Super-glue with accelerator to fill the tooth mark and over the top of the button. That was sanded flush with 800 grit paper, followed by 1,000 and 2,000. I removed the oxidation from the stem with with 800 grit, than working thru 1,000 and 2,000 grades. The final prep was with 8,000 and 12,000 grade micromesh followed by buffing with White Diamond and Meguiars Plastic Polish.

Below is the finished pipe. You can see from the tenon, that on New Era pipes, GBD spent a little more time on that detail as well.

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