Blog by Steve Laug
My brother Jeff got a call from an auction house that does estate sales. He had built relationships with the owner and his son in law over the past months and we had purchased other pipes from them. This time they were calling about a lot of what they called higher end pipes that they had coming up on a weekend estate sale. They talked a bit and he asked if they would mind sending him a list of the pipes that were coming up. They went one step better and sent him the two photos of the pipes as a preview of what was going on sale. We looked them over and chose a few of them for purchase if Jeff had the chance. (It is times like this that I wish I lived close so I could go with him to these sales.
He went on a Friday morning and stood in line for the doors to open. When they did he went in and they handed him a bucket and the box of pipes that they had set back behind the counter for him. There were indeed some nice pipes in the batch and certainly pricier than the average lot we find at antique sales and malls. There were quite a few Savinelli products, Stanwell, GBD, Aldo Velani, Nording, Il Ceppo, Barlings, DiMonte and a Chacom Sahara. They made him a proposition for the entire lot of pipes and he went for it. He came home with all of the pipes in the photos to the left.
He called me on FaceTime and we were both pretty excited by what he had picked up. We went through them and noted the names and brands. We noted all of the stamping on the shank of each pipe. I got more excited as we noted each pipe and its condition. We realized that they were in pretty decent shape other than the usual dirtiness and grime from smoking. There were not any damaged rims or bowls. There were tooth marks on the stem that would need to be cleaned up but really it was a very nice lot of pipes. We had done well with the purchase.
This afternoon I was greeted at my door by the box that he had sent my way. I excitedly opened cut the tape on the box. Like a child at Christmas I tore in to the box to see what was inside. I pulled away the bubble wrap that he had put around each pipe. Now I was really excited by the pipes that he had sent along for me.
I chose to work on the Chacom Sahara first. It is a beautiful brandy shaped pipe that was in decent shape. It was stamped on the left side of the shank with the brand CHACOM over SAHARA. On the underside of the shank next to the stem shank junction it bore the shape number 864. The stem bore the Chacom CC oval logo inset in the vulcanite. There was a band of faux horn/Lucite that was part of the stem. It sat between a thin band of black and the rest of the tapered stem. My brother took the following photos before he worked on the pipes.The finish on the bowl was in excellent shape. There was a thin cake in the bowl and an overflow of lava on the rim top. Sometimes this can be a good sign in that it can protect the finish underneath it. Other times it was a bad sign and hid a lot of rim burn and damage. I wondered what would be underneath this buildup. He took a photo of the pipe from the top and a close up photo to show the condition of the bowl and the rim.He also took some close up photos of the bottom and sides of the bowl. The finish was in excellent condition all around the bowl. Jeff took some good photos of the stamping on the shank. The first shows the left side of the shank. The second shows the shape stamping on the underside of the shank. The third shows the CC logo oval on the right side of the stem.He also took some photos of the chatter on the top and underside of the stem next to the button. Fortunately none of them were too deep.Jeff did his usual thorough cleanup of the pipe. He scrubbed the interior and exterior and sent me a very clean pipe that I only needed to put the finishing touches on. The next four photos show the pipe when I brought it to my work table. The pipe looked really good. The finish on the bowl sides, bottom and shank were in excellent condition. The stem was clean as well other than the light oxidation and the tooth chatter. The rim top had been cleaned up but it looked dull. I took a close up photo of the rim to show what it looked like after Jeff had cleaned it up. The top was clean and free of all build up. The finish on the rim was a bit dull but it looked like it would polish up nicely.I forgot to take a picture of the tooth chatter before I started working on it. I sanded the surface with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter and marks. I was able to remove all of them without changing the profile of the stem. I left behind the usual scratch marks after sanding with 220 grit sandpaper.I wiped the stem down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust and took the following photos before I polished it with micromesh sanding pads.I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol. My brother had done a great job cleaning both so that nothing came out. It was very clean on the inside.I scraped out the last of the cake on the bowl walls with the Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife until the walls were clean.I polished the 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 pad. The oil both enlivens the rubber and provides bite for the sanding pads. I polished it with the 12000 grit pad and gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. (I forgot to take a photo of sanding it with 4000-6000 grit pads.) To give the rim top a shine like the rest of the bowl I buffed it with Blue Diamond and then applied some Cherry Danish Oil to the rim top with a cotton swab. I repeated the process until the top of the rim just shone. It looked like the rest of the bowl once again. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. It polished out all of the minute scratches in the surface of the vulcanite and the briar. It does a great job with a soft touch when polishing briar and the shine that the Blue Diamond gives rubber is almost glassy. I gave the bowl and stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It really is a beautiful looking pipe. The layout of the grain with the brandy shape is really well done. This one will soon be for sale on the rebornpipes store. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know either by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or a private message on FaceBook. Thanks for looking.