Blog by Steve Laug
I received an email a few weeks ago from Mario. He has been following the blog for some time now and had enjoyed reading the posts. He wrote that he had purchased a pipe on Ebay for a good price. He attached some photos of the crack in the shank and wondered if I would be willing to take it on. I wrote back and asked for some photos so he sent me the following two photos. The first shows what appears to be a crack in the shank just ahead of the gold band between the shank and the stem. I have circled the damaged area in red in the photo below.The second photo shows the shank end of the pipe. The band wraps over the end of the shank which was a plus to my mind. The band was tight on the shank according to the seller. My thinking was that the band would hold the crack together and it would be easier to work with. (The tenon on the stem is also a 9mm filter stem).I wrote back and told him I would be glad to work on it. He wrote back when the pipe arrived at his place. As he looked it close up he wrote that the crack did not look as bad as he had expected. It appeared to be possibly a flaw in the briar. He also wrote that the end of the flaw near the band did extend to the edge of the band. He packed up the pipe and sent it to me in Vancouver. When it arrived I loved the look and shape of the pipe. The long shank and the shape of the bowl work well together. The gilt ring around the outer edge of the bowl and around the shank is what gave the pipe its name. It is stamped Stanwell of Gilt Edged on the left side of the shank. On the underside it reads Made in Denmark. On the right side of the shank it reads 124 which is the Stanwell Shape number. According to information compiled by the late Bas Stevens regarding Stanwell shapes the 124 is a freehand, long conical shank, with a short saddle mouthpiece. It was designed by Sixten Ivarsson. Here is the link to the full blog post that Bas gave permission to post on rebornpipes: https://rebornpipes.com/2013/09/03/stanwell-shapes-compiled-by-bas-stevens/
I took the following photos of the pipe when it arrived and before I started to work on it. You can see the damage to the rim – including both dents and a slight burn on the back inner edge toward the right side. There were also some dents on the top of the shank just ahead of the crack in the briar. The pipe was sold as clean and restored but it was far from clean by the smell of tobacco and the oils in the shank and stem. There was some tar and oil on the top of the rim so I wiped it off with a cotton pad and took the following close up photo. It is hard to see but there were light dings in the rim top and the damage at the rear which I have circled in red.The stem was clean on the surface but there were ripples and ridges from buffing as well as some slight tooth indentations on both sides near the button and on the button.I sanded the damaged/flawed area on the top of the shank and probed it with a dental pick. Interestingly if it was a crack it was sealed tightly and there were no soft spots in the surface. It also appeared that the top finish had run slightly leaving a sag mark on the shank. I examined it with a bright light and lens and could see that the flaw ended a good 1/8th inch before the band and that the other ended. I decided to not drill the ends of the crack because it was a tight fit and also because when I looked at the inside I could see no trace of the crack coming through. I filled it in with clear super glue and when it dried I sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper.I cleaned up the rim top with 220 grit sandpaper and lightly beveled the inner edge to clean up the burned spot. I did not want to bevel it too much but only enough to match the rest of the rim bevel. When I finished shaping it I sanded it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to remove any scratch marks. I steamed out the dents on the top of the shank and polished them and the repair with micromesh sanding pads. I stained the rim edge and repair with a medium brown stain pen. I used a black Sharpie pen to continue the grain marks through the repair on the shank.I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth. I took the following photos of the pipe and sent copies to Mario. We are both really pleased with the way the pipe has come out to this point. Here are some close up photos of the shank repair and the rim clean up. It looks much better than when I began the work.I set the bowl aside and started to work on the stem. I sanded both sides with 220 grit sandpaper and took the photos to show the marks, ripples and dents on the surfaces.I cleaned out the tenon area with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners to remove all of the oils and tars in airway and the area where the filter would have been. It took a lot of pipe cleaners and cotton swabs to remove all of the debris. The next photo shows about half of the cotton swabs and pipe cleaners that I used on the stem.I examined the inside of the mortise and airway with a pen light and could see that the shank was thickly caked with a hard coat of tars. I used a dental spatula to scrape away the debris in the mortise. It took a lot of scraping to remove the buildup to see the briar. I cleaned out the shank and airway with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners until it was clean. The pipe smelled much cleaner though still smoky. I pressed cotton balls into the bowl and rolled a cotton pad and inserted it in the shank. I used an ear syringe to fill the bowl with alcohol. I tipped it so that the alcohol ran into the shank. I filled it until the cotton was covered in the bowl. I set the bowl aside to let the alcohol do its work in drawing the oils out of the briar. I set the bowl aside and turned to the stem.I finished sanding it with the 220 grit sandpaper to remove all of the ripples and dents in the stem surface. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. After each set of three pads I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. After the last rubdown of oil I set the stem aside and let it dry. I let the cotton balls and alcohol sit in the bowl for 6 hours. I took the following photo of the darkened cotton balls. I removed the cotton balls and cleaned out the shank, airway and bowl with cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I was able to remove a lot more of the tars in the shank.Once the shank was clean and the walls were clean and had dried I put the stem in place on the shank. I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The stem is smooth and glassy, the rim is much better and looks smooth, and the flaw/crack in the shank is smooth to touch and virtually invisible. It will be heading back to Mario this week and I look forward to hearing what he thinks of his pipe now. Thanks for walking along with me through this restoration.