Savinelli Capitol Bruyere 6001


Blog by Johan Viviers

I received an email not too long ago while I was traveling in India for work from Johan. He wrote of his love or pipe restoration and how he had come across rebornpipes. After replying to his email about his work I asked him to send me a few photos of what he had done. He promptly did so. I asked him to submit a blog for the site and what follows after his brief introduction is his first blog for rebornpipes. Welcome Johan. It is great to have you here.

Introduction

I am Johan Viviers. I was born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa. As a child I was surrounded by pipe smokers. All of them had a Kaiser, because a man was not a man without a Kaiser!. My one grandfather though had a rotation.

I bought my first pipe at 28 from a Belgium man who had shop in Pretoria. He sold me a Peterson and sample tobaccos at first until we discovered my preference… and then after a further twenty or so years of wandering (a bit like Parsival did), I made a home in Portugal; and a home is not a home without a pipe being smoked in it.

So, the Why and the How of getting into pipe sanitation, recovery and refurbishment… I suppose I evolved into it. Maybe there are a “few roots” to be found in my dream of opening a pipe smokers’ lounge. Then too, the rest of the “roots” may also probably be found in the creativity that is born from the curiosity and wonder that surfaces when smokes a new tobacco blend or from a new pipe.

Last summer whilst sipping a beer on the local esplanade with a fellow piper, I told him that it is time for me to plant tobacco, figure out the bit between harvesting and blending and then to explore and create a blend. All for personal consumption of course. A 78 year old friend who’s a pipe smoker too, offered some land in exchange for a share of smoking tobacco.

I then spent most of my free time reading everything I could find on tobacco.  And on a day my favourite pipe broke. It happened on the same day that I discovered Dad aka Charles Lemon, which led me to rebornpipes. Well, all your stories filled me with such curiosity and excitement that I somewhat altered my priorities. As I am in the habit of recovering vintage furniture, floors in old buildings etc., it seemed that pipe refurbishing may deliver an even greater level of happiness and satisfaction.

So I set out by first buying three pipes at the local flea market and experimenting to find a “studio practise”. I had to discover for myself the materials and mechanisms of a pipe and also determine whether the natural products I work with every day is suited to briar. Well three experimental pipes later and I made my first refurbishment, the Capitol 6001. I worked on it for five days and on day six I sold it and reinvested the profit in other estates. I now own seventeen estates that are either refurbished or at various stages of recovery. And I have to confess that I do not wish to sell any of them because I am still marveling at their transformation, whether it being the sweet smell of the briar when I rendered it, or the smoothness of its surface before I finish it or its final transformation/outcome that I want to hold onto a little longer.

Even so, I will continue and grow the seventeen estates I have acquired and if I sell none of them now, I will put them to good use when I find the capital to open the Pipe Smoker’s Lounge that I am thinking of naming Maria do Purificacão: Where Ladies Without Beards Smoke Pipe.

The Restoration

Sand blasted and stamped Capitol over Bruyere with 6001 to the right on the underside of the bowl with no stem markings.

This Capitol according to both Savinelli and the young lady who sold me this pipe, is a 50’s production. The pipe belonged to her grandfather Fernando a property developer and it was his “thinking aid” she told me, hence the tooth chatter on the stem. He passed away ten years ago and since then this pipe remained in his desk drawer. Fernando’s home remained unoccupied for ten years, where this pipe remained until now.

Lisbon being a very humid city left it’s mark on both the bowl and stem. The stem was greenish yellow due to oxidation and the outside of the bowl was soft in places due to what I belief to be exposure to moisture in the air. There was no cake in the chamber, but the unevenness to the rim of the bowl made wonder whether Fernando may have been a “pipe knocker” like my friend Adam or whether it was the actual design by Savinelli. The tenon, however, was a snug fit regardless.

Given that this was my second attempt at an actual recovery of a smoking pipe I though long and hard as to how i will approach its recovery and given my fascination with “the story” an estate pipe arrives with, I decided to keep the uneven organic shape to the rim and even the tooth chatter on the stem.

To start I hung the bowl out in a an area that receives no direct sunlight and a natural flow of air until felt the bowl has expelled all the surface moisture it had collected. At the same time the stem was soaking in a solution of cider vinegar and coarse salt to loosen up oxidation.

I then filled the bowl with salt and alcohol and let it stand overnight as I have seen you guys do and the next morning I reamed the chamber a little and gave it a light sanding with 400 grit paper until I could detect the sweet smell of the briar. Once this was done I cleaned out the airway of the stummel with a dental tool to remove the oils and tars after which I passed 400 grit  paper rolled into a tube through the airway to be certain it is clean. Once this was done I washed the bowl and chamber down with a lukewarm solution of natural Marseille soap (a method to raising the grain and open the pores of the wood when I restore furniture) and rinsed it down with clean lukewarm water. I then filled the chamber and airway with tissue paper to absorb the excess water and wiped the outside of the bowl dry before I hung it out to dry for a couple of days (again in an area that receives no direct sunlight with the temperature constant at between 15 to 20 degrees Celsius).edfedfedf

I then took to the stummel and sanded it wet with 500 grit paper. I finished the stem with 00000 steel wool and then cleaned the airway by passing pipe cleaners dipped in a clean solution of the Cider vinegar and coarse salt after which I also washed the stem down with a solution of lukewarm water and Marseilles soap flakes, finishing it with clean water.

To complete I prepared a prepared Carnauba Wax emulsion with 15% natural Green Umber pigment and entered the solution with a lint free cloth into the bowl, stummel and chamber and hung it out to dry. An hour after application, I passed a clean lint free cloth to remove any excess. Then I rubbed the Carnauba wax emulsion into the stem and hung it out to dry alongside the bowl.

Twenty-four hours later I hand rubbed both the bowl, chamber and stem to bring out its lustre and then I got so excited that I had to fill the pipe with Hal O’ The Wynd and smoke it. What a sweet smoke, so much so that I named this here pipe Fernanda

Later that day, Fernanda and I sat in a coffee shop savouring another bowl of Hal O’ The Wynd and I sold her to a fellow piper there and then. This sale financed a purchase of nine other estate pipes.

7 thoughts on “Savinelli Capitol Bruyere 6001

  1. James Prentice

    From one South African to another, greetings there Johan – great story and great work. I am intrigued about your technique on a few points. Did you put your carnuba, green umber emulsion into the interior of the bowl and if so did this give any flavour to the smoke? I am also curious as to why you use apple cider vinegar and salt – do you find this is better than 91% alcohol?
    James Prentice

    Reply
    1. johanviviers

      Hello James. It is a pleasure to meet a fellow South African that enjoys a story here at rebornpipes.

      The Carnauba does not flavour the tobacco. Also, I now only realise that I didi not document the procedure correctly. The Carnauba mixed with the green umber pigment was only applied to the bowl and the rim. Given the shape of the rim I probably coated the top 5mm of chamber wall with this mixture. The rest of the chamber received a light coating of only Carnauba wax emulsion and I did so only because I wanted to rehydrate the pipe. Although the green umber is a natural pigment and does not burn like synthetic pigments, it does produce some smoke but without odour when exposed to direct heat. I must also point out that the chamber was completely smooth to the eye and touch and therefore, it would be unlikely for any excess deposit of Carnauba to form. It is easy to check for excess deposits though. Simply wipe the chamber with a wet cloth and inspect it for white marks once it dries.

      I only used the coarse salt and cider vinegar solution because I couldn’t find the alcohol and since vinegar and coarse salt loosens rust and oxidation on metal, I thought I may as well try it. It may also have been a blessing in disguise that I did so, because I ended up entering Carnauba into the stem and as a rule a natural wax combines with water or natural turpentine whereas synthetic wax combines with alcohol or white spirits.

      In conclusion I would like to add that I prefer smoking pipes that are only oiled or waxed. They behave in more gentle manner.

      I trust that I have answered your questions. If not, let me know.

      Reply
      1. James Prentice

        Thanks Johan for the detailed explanation, much appreciated.

        Getting the right supplies in South Africa is not that easy, for instance, we do not get Murphy’s Oil Soap and we have to be resourceful in seeking out alternative supplies. I have been battling to get a pure carnauba wax cake in SA.

        Keep the good work up and have a smoke for me in that cafe!
        James Prentice

        Reply
        1. johanviviers

          I understand your dilemma. I cannot find Murphy’s soap here either. As for the Carnauba, I use a wax emulsion that I buy from a company called Kreidezeit. I also have it in cake form. You should look at the Kreidezeit products. 1l of the carnauba wax emulsion costs about 11€. See here:

          https://www.kreidezeitshop.de/reinigungs-pflege-und-loesemittel/

          My substitution options for Murphy’s Soap is either pure Marseilles soap flakes or natural balsamic turpentine that Kreidezeit also produces and are used by beekeepers on their hives.

          Here is the general online shopping link:

          https://www.kreidezeitshop.de/

          Reply
          1. James Prentice

            Hi Johan. Thanks for reply and links. Because of the lack of Murphy’s Oil Soap in this country I use an olive oil soap that I found it seems to work quite well and have recently bought Meguiars Carnauba Wax liquid which I presume may be quite close to the emulsion you use. As yet I have not tried it but will do so in the next few days.I have 18 pipes in for restoration at the moment, so will be busy. Regards thanks again for links.
            James Prentice

            Reply
  2. Todd L. Platek

    Wonderful tale. Looks like hanging out in coffee shops and smoking pipes is another good reason to visit Lisbon.

    Reply
    1. johanviviers

      This is a great city to visit Todd. It is different to Athens and Cape Town, but it compares favourably as we are all similar in our pursuit to maintain the quality of our lives. Bring a selection of your favourite tobaccos, because finding good pipe tobacco here in Lisbon has become difficult.

      Reply

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