Blog by Steve Laug
In 2002 my wife and I celebrated our 25th Wedding Anniversary and were gifted a trip to the United Kingdom. We landed at Gatwick Airport in London and took the train on a loop around the UK. We stopped in Cambridge and York for a few days. We traveled up to Edinburgh and then back to Oxford and Bath. We returned to London and spent a few days there. At each spot we stopped along the way we hunted down various tobacco shops. It was a real treat to visit shops around the UK. As I visited each one I was fairly certain that many of them would disappear over the years ahead. I was not sure when we would get back for another visit so I wanted to visit as many as possible (as of 2017 that turns out to be true). One of my favourite shops was the Frederick Tranter shop in Bath. It was not a big shop but it was packed with pipes and tobacco. It smelled and looked like a proper tobacco shop. I have written about it previously on the blog. Here is the link: https://rebornpipes.com/2014/03/01/remembering-my-trip-to-frederick-tranters-in-bath-england-in-2002/. I have included two photos of the shop that I took when I visited there. It really was a quaint shop and one in which I would enjoy spending a lot of time smoking a bowl and enjoying wares.Since the day I visited the shop and bought my first Tranter pipe, I have kept an eye out for Frederick Tranter Pipe Shop Bath pipes. When I saw this one on Ebay I liked it. It was a nicely shaped Lovat with a briar wind cap attached to the rim by a brass screw. The cap swivels right and left so that the pipe can be filled and lit. I put a bid on it and won. The next two photos are ones that the seller included. The pipe looked to be in good shape. The cap is not exactly the same diameter as the bowl but it does cover the bowl.The stamping on the shank of the pipe is very clear and sharp. On the left side it reads Frederick Tranter over Pipe Shop Bath. On the right side it reads Countryman. There are no shape numbers or other identification marks on the pipe. From my previous interaction with the shop and researching the brand I found that Cadogan made many of the pipes for them. I am not sure what the age is on this one but it is a great shaped Lovat. I took some close up photos of the wind cap on the top of the bowl. The first shows the cap in place over the top of the bowl. The brass screw in on the back side about middle of the rim top. There were four equal sized holes on the top and the edges crowned. The second photo shows the bowl with the cap removed by unscrewing the brass screw. The top of the rim had some tarry buildup and there was a light cake in the bowl. The inner and outer edge of the bowl were in perfect shape.I took a close up photo of the outside and the inside of the cap. The inside is slightly indented and had a carbon buildup. At first I thought it was burned however when I cleaned it up I found that it was only covered with carbon.I took photos of the stem surface on both top and bottom sides. It was oxidized and there was some gummy substance on the stem from what appeared to be a price tag.I scrubbed the surface of the bowl with alcohol on cotton pads to remove the grime. I scrubbed the rim top as well and I was able to remove all of the buildup. This was a nice looking piece of briar with birdseye and cross grain around the bowl.I reamed all of the cake out of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I took it back to bare briar. I scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they were clean. I was surprised that the overall condition of the airways and shank were so clean.I rubbed the bowl and shank with Cherry Stain mixed with Danish Oil. I wiped it off and polished it by hand. The hand polished bowl is shown in the photos below. The stain made the grain really stand out and gave the pipe a fresh look. The stem needed a lot of work to remove the oxidation. I sanded the stem down with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the heaviest oxidation. The tenon had marks on it that I would need to leave to keep the snug fit in the mortise.I cleaned up the metal twisted stinger to remove all of the oils and tars that had collected there. I polished it on the buffing wheel and with a microfibre cloth. I put it back in the tenon. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and buffing it with red Tripoli. I reloaded the buffing pads with the Tripoli and worked over the angles of the stem and saddle to get as much of the oxidation out of those spots as possible. I dry sanded the stem with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down repeatedly with Obsidian Oil and after the final pad I left it to dry. There was still some oxidation remaining on the stem so I reworked it with the buffing pads and Tripoli. I worked on it until I had removed the remaining oxidation. I buffed it with Blue Diamond to polish it further. In the final photos there are still spots where the Tripoli showed up under the bright light of the flash but the stem now glows. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a beautiful looking older Lovat. The rounded button end and slot were smooth and comfortable. The vulcanite shone and the briar really looked good. I buffed the pipe with carnauba wax and then with a clean buffing pad to give it a shine. I took it back to the work table and hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. Thanks for walking with me through the refurb on this pipe.