Restoring a Savinelli Extra 606KS with an Accidental Stem


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe from the estate lot that I brought to my work table was a Savinelli Extra Bent Billiard. It is stamped Savinelli in an oval over Extra on the left side of the shank and on the right side was the Savinelli shield with an S inside and to the left of that was the shape number 606KS over Italy. It was a great looking piece of briar with swirled grain on the left side of the bowl and birdseye on the right side and cross grain and mixed grain around the shank and the front and back of the bowl. Even the rim has some nice grain.

The odd thing was that the stem that was on the pipe was obviously not the right one. The diameter of the shank and the stem did not match. It was a saddle stem and was a little shorter than the original one. It was obvious that the estate owner had put the stem in place on the shank and used it on this pipe because it had the same tooth chatter and marks as the rest of the lot.

My brother took photos of the pipe before he cleaned it up. I have included those here. There was a cake in the bowl and the lava had overflowed onto the rim top. The lava was heavier on the back side of the rim top. The inner bevel and the outer edge of the bowl were protected and they looked to be in good shape under the grime.He took some close up photos of the bowl sides and bottom of the bowl to show the grain and the condition of the pipe. The next photos show the tooth chatter and tooth marks on both sides of the stem near the button. Even though it was the incorrect stem it was definitely the one that had been used by the owner of the rest of the pipes.My brother did a thorough cleaning of the pipe – the bowl had been reamed and the finish scrubbed with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime and the tarry build up on the rim top and beveled inner edge. The inside had been scrubbed clean as well. When the pipe arrived in Vancouver it was very clean. I took the next four photos to show the condition of the pipe when it arrived here. I took a close up photo of the rim and the inside of the bowl to show how clean both were. He had really done a great job on the bowl and rim.The next two photos show the condition of the stem but what you should notice is how the diameter of the shank and the stem do not match. The stem is slightly smaller in diameter than the shank. The joint is circled in red in both photos below. Look at the difference in the shank and the stem diameter inside the red circle.My brother has picked up my habit of picking up loose stems along with pipes and he saw a stem sitting at the sale. It was priced high so he left it and went back the next day to pick it up half price. He bought it, cleaned it and put it in the box of cleaned pipes that he sent to Vancouver. When I unpacked the box I put the stem on the top of my work table. When I was working on this pipe I happened to glance at the stem on the table. It looked like it was the correct diameter stem for the Savinelli. There was a faint Savinelli Crown stamp on the left side of the stem. I was pretty sure that this was the right stem for the pipe. I removed the incorrect stem from the shank and put the new stem in place there. The fit was perfect and it looked really good. The new stem also had the characteristic tooth chatter and marks as all of the other stems. They are on both sides of the stem near the button. The stem was also lightly oxidized.I sanded the tooth marks and chatter with 320 grit sandpaper to remove them from the surface of the vulcanite. Fortunately like the other stems the tooth marks and chatter were not too deep in the stem surface.I ran a pipe cleaner and alcohol through the airway in the shank and stem and folded it and wiped the inside of the mortise clean. The pipe was spotless on the inside.I cleaned up the remnants of cake in the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I scraped the cake back to bare briar and smoothed out the bowl walls.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. At this point the light of the flash revealed more oxidation on the stem.I put the stem in the shank and buffed the pipe with red Tripoli to remove more of the oxidation from the stem surface. I polished it again with 3200-4000 grit micromesh pads and rubbed it down with another coat of Obsidian Oil. It is definitely improving but there is still oxidation that is showing through in the flash.I buffed it hard with Blue Diamond with the stem in the shank and was able to remove the remaining oxidation. I polished it with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it another coat of Obsidian Oil.I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond a final time to polish it and remove the small minute scratches. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine in the stem and briar. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a beautiful grained piece of briar and with the correct stem it looks much like it must have looked the day it left the factory. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outer bowl diameter: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. This beauty will also be going on the rebornpipes store and can be added to your collection. If it interests you contact me by email at slaug@uniserve.com or by private message on Facebook.

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