Daily Archives: December 10, 2016

A Stanwell Antique 127 with an Amber Shank Extension

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table is a beautiful little Stanwell Acorn. The finish on the pipe was in excellent condition. There were some tars and oil that had overflowed the bowl onto the rim but it was pretty clean. The cake was not too thick. The inner and outer edge of the rim was in excellent shape. The amber Lucite shank extension was in excellent shape and the mortise hole was in perfect condition. The underside of the shank is stamped with the Stanwell logo over the word Antique in script. To the right of it was stamped 127 which is the shape number. The stem was clean with some tooth chatter and quite a bit of oxidation on the top and the underside. The white Stanwell Crowned S logo was stamped on the left side of the stem.

The next series of photos were taken by my brother before he cleaned up the pipe. He did his usual thorough job of cleaning the inside and the outside of the pipe. He reamed the bowl and cleaned out the airways in the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners.antique1The next two photos show the two sides of the bowl. The left side of the bowl is a beautiful tight sandblast finish. The rim is also sandblasted as is the entire shank. The right side of the bowl is a smooth medium brown patch of briar that is on all of the Antique line of Stanwell pipes that I have seen.antique2The photo of the rim shows the condition and the thin cake in the bowl. The pipe was well cared for and did not need to have a lot of work done to bring it back.antique3The next photo shows the underside of the shank and the stamping. You can read the Stanwell stamping even though it is a bit faint on the left side. The Antique stamping is also light but the shape number is clear and deep.antique4The last two photos show the condition of the stem and the light oxidation and tooth chatter on the top side near the button. The Crown S stamping on the stem is in perfect condition.antique5The next four photos show the condition of the pipe when it arrived in Vancouver. I took the photos to show what the pipe looked like before I began the cleanup.antique6 antique7I took a close-up photo of the rim and the shank extension to show the contrast in colours and the condition of the rim at the point I received the pipe.antique8I also took some close up photos of the stem to show the oxidation and the light tooth chatter on both sides of the stem.antique9I gave the bowl and shank several coats of Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed the pipe with a shoe brush and then a microfibre cloth to raise and deepen the shine on the briar. I ran a pipe cleaner through the airway and the mortise and it came out clean.antique10 antique11The stem was lightly oxidized so I decided to only use micromesh sanding pads to clean it up. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and gave it a coat of Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and gave it a rub down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads. I set it aside after the final set of pads to dry.antique12 antique13 antique14I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish it. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The complexity of the contrast of dark and medium browns as well as a hint of black gives a dimensionality to this pipe that is quite stunning. It did not take a lot of work to bring it back but it was a pleasure to work on it. Thanks for walking with me through the process.antique15 antique16 antique17 antique18 antique19 antique20 antique21 antique22 antique23

A Pre-Republic Peterson System Standard Reborn

A month or so ago I was trolling eBay and ran across what I thought might be a Pre-Republic Peterson System 313.  I am not very learned in the different eras of many pipe companies but was fairly certain if I read the no-so-clear nomenclature right this was indeed a Pre-Republic era Peterson. Here are the photos the seller provided:

The pipe looked to be in pretty good shape so I thought I would take a shot at it. The seller had a Buy It Now or best offer price on it so I submitted my offer and went to do some research on the nomenclature in case my offer was accepted.After searching on Pipepedia and Pipephil I was sure that the pipe was indeed a Pre-Republic model. (The following photo shows the nomenclature and the small defect in the briar that probably kept it from being a higher grade pipe. The stamping reads “Made” on the top of the circle, “Ireland” in the bottom, and “in” in the center. These photos were taken by me after the restoration.)

A few hours later I received a counteroffer from the seller which I accepted. The seller was in Peru so now it was time for the dreaded wait.

When the pipe finally arrived I was eager to tear into the box to see what I had! When I took the pipe out of the protective wrapping my first thought was “Wow, this thing is tiny!”. I have one over System pipe that is an XL315, a pretty large pipe. I didn’t realize the 313 was going to be comparatively diminutive in size! I was pleased to see that the nomenclature was stronger than I expected it to be and that the pipe was in pretty well as-shown condition; there was a deep burn on the front, inside of the bowl that I didn’t make out in the photos. Here are a few pictures I took upon getting the pipe unpacked.

I dropped the stem in a warm Oxiclean bath while I began to clean the dirt and grime from the stummel. As I removed years worth of crud with cotton pads and both alcohol and acetone I began to really like what I was seeing! There were a few issues showing up now, but not anything too major: the rim cleaned up well but was burned worse than I thought, the nickle band had loosened over time and move up a little and was stained with tars (I think). All of these things were in my mind a good trade-off for the better than expected stamping though.

When I took the stem from the Oxiclean bath I scrubbed it down with a magic eraser to take off the loosened oxidation. Here’s what the pipe looked like at his stage; you can see the line where the band has moved over time.img_0207It was now time to start cleaning the internals of both the stem and stummel.

As I mentioned, this pipe has a rather small bowl; my smallest cutter on my PipNet set wouldn’t fit inside the bowl to ream it! The cake was hard but not terribly thick so I used the blade on my Sheffield pipe tool and some 320 wet/dry paper to ream back to bare briar. while I was doing the reaming I found was the burn on the rim was soft and would require more than just topping it. I decided to finish the internals before turning my attention to this problem.

I took a cotton swab soaked in alcohol and ran it through the stem; the P-Lip stem has a graduated airway, starting out very open and narrowing as it get closer to the button. As I turned the stem over to scrub the inside with the cotton swab a horrible goo ran out of the P-Lip!img_0200Needless to say, the pile of cotton swabs and pipe cleaners were only a representative sample of what it took to get the stem clean. And the well/mortise and airway of the pipe was equally nasty’ I really hadn’t expected this given the maintained cake in the bowl. I stuffed a cotton ball in the bowl and a cotton swab in the air hole, filled the bowl with alcohol and left it to sit over night. I completed cleaning inside the stem before going to bed.

The next day I removed the tar-stained cotton ball and swab from the stummel and  began to work on the burned rim issue after the pipe had dried an hour or two. I began by topping the bowl with 320 wet/dry sandpaper, checking my progress often. There was another smaller darkened area I wanted to remove, too, if I could, but I didn’t want to remove more briar than I had to.When the smaller spot was gone and the worse spot was improved I wiped the bowl down with alcohol to clean any remaining dust from it’s surface and began to polish it with micro mesh. I got up to about 2400, I think, and decided the burn was still too noticeable. I went back to work on the rim with a folded piece of 320 grit paper and worked a bevel on the inner edge of the bowl, then repeated polishing with micro mesh as before. The results were much better to my eye.

I moved on to the stem now, setting the bowl aside for later. The stem wasn’t in particularly bad shape, mostly just oxidized, as some of the previous photos show.There was a couple of deeper tooth marks on the bottom and top near the button that had to be filled. I sanded the oxidation off using 320 grit paper then cleaned the stem well with alcohol on a cotton pad. I picked at the deepest dents and the button “steps” with a small “toothpick” knife I have to make sure all the oxidation was out of the dents and grooves. After giving the areas a spray of CA glue accelerator I applied clear CA glue to both spots, gave it another spray and then let it sit a few hours to cure well; I didn’t want the glue to run while it cured or I might have skipped the accelerator altogether. (I didn’t remember to take many photos during this process.) After the glue cured I used needle files and sandpaper to smooth and better blend the patches, after which I polished the stem with the full range of micro mesh pads, 1500-12000.

Now that the stem and stummel were fully ready, I moved to the downstairs workshop for the finishing touches on everything. I began with my heat gun, warming the band to expand it and press it back in place; I pressed it into an old buffing wheel, using the center hole to help fix the slight out-or-roundness that had gotten in the band, too.

Next I used a dark brown stain pen to re-stain the bowl. I covered it entirely, as evenly as possible, twice and let it dry for a little while before using another alcohol dampened cotton pad to wipe off some of the excess to allow the grain to shine through. Next up was buffing with the Dremel. I used brown Tripoli on the stummel and nickle band first and then white diamond and blue compound on both the stummel and stem. I finished up with a few coats of carnauba wax on the entire pipe and a hand buff with a micro fiber clothe to raise a nice shine. I am really pleased with how the pipe came out overall and think the beveled rim idea to fix the burned area blended in very well. Before you see the finished pipe I must confess the first bowl I smoked in it was horrid! I had to go back and do a second alcohol treatment and I soaked the stem in alcohol and cleaned it again, too. The second cotton ball was even more tar-stained than the first! I had to re-wax and buff the whole pipe, too. But the next bowls proved it was well worth the effort as the pipe now smokes dry and sweet!