Daily Archives: March 25, 2017

Recorking a German Porcelain Tyrolean or Wine Pipe

Blog by Steve Laug

The fourth pipe I chose to work on from the lot the fellow dropped by on his way out of town for his holidays was a family heirloom. He said it was his grandfather’s pipe and then his father’s pipe afterwards. It now was in his keeping. Somewhere along the way the bowl had been cracked but was held together by the brass rim cap. The domed wind cap was also missing. The pictorial scene on the front of the bowl was in perfect shape with no scratches. The bowl was held in place by a wrap of masking tape where there had originally been cork. The remnants of the old cork plug were still stuck to the sides of that portion of the lower cup. The stem was Cherrywood but his father had wrapped it with a leather lace because he liked the way it looked. The end portion of the stem was horn and had tooth marks on the top and bottom next to the chewed on button. The stem was held in the lower cup by a wrapping of thick tape that was wrapped around the end of the Cherrywood in place of the cork. There was a bit of original gold around the bowl portion of the cup. The bottom of the cup portion had some scratches and the porcelain parts of the pipe were dirty and sticky.This traditional German porcelain pipe has been variously called a porcelain wine pipe, Tyrolean pipe, Black Forest pipe, alpine folk pipe, and several other variations on those themes. There are two glazed porcelain sections – a wind-capped bowl (the wind cap was missing on this one) and what I’ve heard call the “chamber-pot” section, or “wine bowl”. I’ve heard and read that sometimes a little wine was put in the chamber pot bottom cup to both flavor and gentle the smoke. The two porcelain sections are fired with a white glaze with a pair of deer at a stream under the glaze.

I took some close up photos of the bowl front, the top and the bottom of the bowl to show the condition. The fired painted deer on the front is in excellent condition. The top of the rim is brass and the hinged wind cap is missing. The bottom of the bowl shows some wear and a rough spot in the porcelain. You can also see the wrap of masking tape around the foot of the bowl to keep it in place in the bottom cup/chamber pot. The end of the stem was wrapped in masking tape as well. This was done in place of the cork that would have originally been present to hold the stem in the bottom chamber pot. You can also see the wrapped leather lace that was glued to the Cherrywood portion of the stem.I unwrapped the tape from the end of the stem in preparation for fitting a new cork on the stem end. I wiped down the cherrywood with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the glue and tape residue from the wood. The piece of wine cork that is shown in the photo is the one I planned on using to recork the stem and the bowl end.I cut the wine cork in half with a sharp knife. I set up a cordless drill and turned the cork onto the bit by hand. I started by drilling a hole in the centre of the cork with a small bit to get started. I worked my way up to a drill bit that was the same size as the small end of the stem. J cleaned out the hole with a sharp knife to make it more smooth and round. I used a file to smooth out the hole in the centre of the cork and then shaped it with a Dremel and sanding drum. I continued to sand the cork with the Dremel and sanding drum to take it down until it fit in the chamber pot. The next photos tell the story. I drilled a hole in the centre of the other half of the cork and continued until the hole was the same diameter as the nipple at the end of the bowl. I took down the diameter of the second cork to match that of the part of the chamber pot that held the bowl in place. I sanded it with the Dremel and sanding drum until it fit snuggly in the pot. I could see from looking at the inside of the pot that there was originally a cork gasket glued in place at that point. The pictures tell the story. I scraped the walls of the part that held the bowl with a sharp pen knife and removed the remnants of cork I cleaned out the walls where the cork insert would go and where the stem would go using alcohol and cotton swabs. I sanded the inside with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel to clean it out. I scrubbed the top of each side with a scrubbing pad and some soft scrub to remove the grime that was built up there. I rubbed the outside of the cork with some Vaseline to soften and lubricate the cork and pressed it into the hole. I put a bead of white glue around the top edge of the cork and set it aside to dry. Once it had dried I used a file to smooth out the hole in the cork. I put Vaseline on the cork on the stem portion and on the end of the bowl and put the pipe back together. The photos below show how things fit together. I could see from the photos that I needed sand off a little more of the cork on the stem to get it seated correctly. The horn stem had tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. There were some tooth marks on the edges of the button on both sides. I sanded the marks out with 220 grit sandpaper to remove them. I polished the horn stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads. After the final pad I gave it another coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I scrubbed off the porcelain with Soft Scrub to remove the stickiness and grime. I unscrewed the horn stem from the Cherrywood portion and cleaned out the threads and the airway in both the stem and the shank portion. I put some Vaseline on the horn threads and put the stem back in place. I hand buffed the porcelain bowl and chamber pot with a soft microfibre cloth and gave the stem several coats of carnauba wax to protect it. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is ready for the fellow to pick up. Only five more of his pipes to work on before I give him a call to come pick them up. Thanks for looking.

Resurrecting a Butz Choquin Commander 1028 Rhodesian

Blog by Steve Laug

This is the third pipe that I a working on for the pipe smoker who stopped by my house last week and dropped off his pipes for repair. This one is a Butz Choquin Rhodesian. It is stamped Butz Choquin over Commander on the left side of the shank and under that it is stamped Filtre Extra. On the right side, the shape number 1028 is stamped. It was another one that had a replacement stem that is a tight fit in the shank. The owner was pretty sure that the replacement stem is what cracked the shank in two places and that certainly could be true. The stem was oxidized and had tooth marks on both sides just in front of the button. The briar is in rough shape. The rim had a coating of lava that overflow from the bowl and had a lot of nicks and dings from where the pipe had been knocked against a hard surface to remove the dottle. The bowl had a thick crumbly cake that was uneven. There were burn marks around the outer edges of the rim. The double ring had been nicked and some of the band around the top of the bowl was broken. The shank had two cracks on it – one on the right side that extended half way along the shank and one on the top left that was about a ¼ inch long. The finish was gone and the stamping had been over buffed somewhere along the way so it was hard to read. I took a close up photo of the rim and bowl to show the damage and overflow onto the rim. The nicks and roughness are visible in the bowl. It appears that the bowl had been over reamed somewhere along the way and there was a gap between the bottom of the bowl and the entrance of the airway into the bowl. The second photo below shows the crack in the shank on the right side. It was quite long and rough to touch.The next photos show the condition of the replacement stem. You can see the oxidation and tooth marks on both sides and on the button top itself.I took some close up photos of the cracked shank. I circled both cracked areas in red. (I apologize for the blurry second photo. I should have checked the pic before I move on but did not. The crack is still visible.)I drilled a small hole with a microdrill bit at the terminus of both cracks to stop the crack from expanding further. (Again they are circle in red in the photos below.)I pressed briar dust into the cracks and put super glue on top of the dust to fill in the crack and the drilled hole. I sanded the fills until they were blended into the shank.I put the band onto the end of the shank and heated it with a heat gun to expand it. Once it was hot, I pressed it down against a board that I use for this purpose. Make sure to hold the shank straight up and down to keep the band moving up the shank evenly.Once the band was in place on the shank and the end was even with the end of the shank I let is cool. As the band cooled, the cracks were held tightly together and from the end of the shank were visible only if you knew where to look. I took photos of the newly banded shank to show the look of the pipe with the band. I lightly topped the bowl on the topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the rim damage and burn marks.I reamed the bowl with the PipeNet reamer and the Savinelli Fitsall Reamer to take the cake back to the bare walls. I sanded the bowl with sandpaper to smooth it out. I scrubbed the rim and airway in the shank and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. There was still work to do but it was getting there. I sanded the oxidation and build up on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove it and the tooth marks. Those that could not be sanded out I filled with black super glue.I cleaned out the grooves around the bowl with a thin blade and wiped it down with alcohol. I sanded the rim cap and the ring to smooth out the damage and give me a clear picture of what I needed to do to repair these areas. The two photos below show the damaged areas.I filled in the missing spots on the ring with super glue and briar dust. I used a sharp knife to clean out the rings from the excess glue and fill. I used a piece of sandpaper to sand the edges on the centre ring. I was able to fill in the majority of the damage though there were still some spots on the ring that showed damage.As I cleaned and sanded the rim cap with micromesh sanding  pads I noticed one more small crack on the left side of the bowl from the edge of the rim down the side of the bowl. It was not all the way through the bowl into the inside of the bowl but it was there. I used a microdrill bit on the Dremel to drill small holes at the end of the top edge and also on the hook of the bottom edge of the crack. I filled in the holes and the crack with super glue and briar dust. I sanded the spots once the glue had dried. I smoothed out the repair to blend it into the rest of the briar.I stained the bowl with dark brown aniline stain and flamed it with a lighter to set it in the grain. I repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage on the briar. The stain blended the repairs on the shank and the bowl with the rest of the briar. They are still visible if you know where to look but really look like small black spots in the briar.I hand buffed the bowl with a microfibre cloth and took the following photos to show the state of things at this point in the process. I am pretty happy with the finish at this point. I opened the slot in the button with needle files – both a flat oval and thicker oval to make it easier to pass a pipe cleaner through to the bowl. Once it was clearly opened I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the file marks in the slot.I turned my attention to the surface of the stem. The oxidation was deep and it took some work to get it out. I worked on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the surface oxidation. It removed much of the oxidation but there was still work to be done. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads. The photo below shows that there was still some oxidation to work on. I buffed it with red Tripoli to further remove the oxidation. I was happy with it once it was buffed. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads. The second photo shows the stem after that buffing. The oxidation was finally conquered. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with the last three grits of micromesh – 6000-12000 grit pads and rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I set it aside to let the oil dry.I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish out the last of the scratches. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax with the wax wheel. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The third pipe is finished for the pipe smoker who dropped them by for me to restore. This one had a few challenges but I think they were met and the pipe looks better than when I began. Thanks for looking.