Daily Archives: June 29, 2017

Giving the Sultan a much need facial

Blog by Steve Laug

Several months ago, I received a box of pipes to be refurbished from a friend in northern British Columbia named Steve. The box contained some nice Danish briars, some meerschaum pipes and a ceramic as well that needed attention. I went through them and made suggestions for him. Together we did a bit of prioritizing. I have cleaned, restored and sent quite a few back to him already. In the box there were several that I took out of the equation because I was not sure of the point in cleaning them up – one was a black pyrolytic “The Pipe” billiard with a very rough stem and another was this little meerschaum sultan.

My original plan had been to send this pipe and The Pipe back to him untouched but the other evening I had been working on an old C.P.F. with some major issues and I wanted to work on something that was a bit more mindless. Sometimes a change of view is as good as a rest. I just was not ready to shut down the shop for the night so I thought through what I had in the repair and renovation queue and opened the box that Steve’s remaining pipes were in. I looked through them and decided to work on the Sultan.

The Sultan looked rough to me as it had definitely seen better days. The meerschaum was a dirty grey colour with darkening in all of the grooves and around the cheeks and eye sockets. There was a heavy cake in the bowl and the rim had a heavy lava overflow that was thick on the surface. The stem had tooth marks and what looked to me like marks left behind by a pair of pliers when someone was adjusting the fit against the shank. Somewhere along the way someone had put a paper washer on the metal threaded tenon and wrapped thread around the tenon so that the stem lined up with the shank a bit better. One thing that could be said in the pipe’s favour was that the shank was beginning to show some colour. I took some photos of the pipe when it arrived and have included them below. The close up photo below shows the rim top and the thick cake in the bowl. The inner edge of the rim looked pretty rough but I would be better able to tell its condition once I had reamed the bowl.I put it on the work table and took a few more photos in better light to see if I could show the condition of the pipe before I started my work. These pictures more adequately show the dirt on the meerschaum in all of the grooves of the turban and the face.The next photo looking down the bowl from the top shows the crumbling cake in the bowl and the thick tar on the rim top. The second photo shows the dirt in the grooves in the carved beard.I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer to take the cake out of the bowl completely. A pipe man should never let a cake build up in the bowl like this one had. I cleaned up the reaming in the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and took every remaining bit of cake out of the bowl. I unscrewed the metal tenon from the stem and used a pair of pliers to unscrew it from the mortise of the pipe. The metal tenon had been turned through a cork and the cork screwed into the mortise of the meer. It provided a tight connection but when the stem was in place the metal tenon turned in the cork. I had a new replacement tenon in my box of tenons. I used the Dremel to reduce the threads on the portion of the tenon that screwed into the stem. The other part of the tenon had the proper threads for the mortise. I aligned the tenon in the mortise and twisted and pressed the stem onto the other end.  I did a bit of fine tuning to adjust the alignment but it worked very well. I filled in the tooth marks and the marks on the saddle portion with some amber super glue. I lightly sanded it to blend it into the rest of the stem material.With the stem finished, the new tenon in place I turned my attention to the meerschaum bowl and giving the sultan a facial. I scrubbed it with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap. I scrubbed it under gently running water and rinsed off all of the grime and darkening from the grooves, around the eyes and in the beard and turban.I dried off the bowl and put the stem in place in the shank. I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to give the stem a shine and polish the minute scratches that were in the meerschaum. I took photos of the pipe when I finished buffing it. You can see from the above photos that I was able to remove the grime from the meer and leave behind the patina. It had potential to be a beautiful pipe once it had darkened even more. I waxed it with a product that is made of White Beeswax called Clapham’s Beeswax Polish. It is soft so it is easily applied to the meerschaum. I warmed the meerschaum so that it would absorb the wax. I buffed the pipe and stem with a clean buffing pad and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It turned out to be a nice looking pipe. I think Steve is going to enjoy this one. Looking forward to hearing back from him. Thanks for looking.

GBD New Era Bent Billiard (510F)

By Al Jones

I thought that I had seen all of the GBD shapes, particularly those in the Bent Billiard, Bulldog and Rhodesian family. But this is the first 510 shape that I have encountered. I was surprised to find the shape number listed on Jerry Hannah’s old shape list, but Google yielded no other examples. The shape is very similar to the Dunhill 120 and a bit more elegant than the shape 508, a more common GBD bent billiard. This one has the brass rondell and straight line “London, England” stamping of a pre-Cadogan pipe. However the rondell is smaller than typical and similar to the rondells on my hallmarked 1930’s era GBD’s. The button is also shaped differently than later model GBD’s. Like many New Era grade pipes, this one has the bullet style tenon. Mike Hagley tells me that this tenon was introduced in the late 1940’s, but I was never able to determine when it was discontinued.

The pipe was in fairly decent shape as received. The bowl had some dings, particularly on the bowl top. The stem was mildly oxidzied and the bowl had a mild cake.

I reamed the bowl and soaked it with alcohol and sea salt. While the bowl was soaking, I used 400, 800, 1500 and 2000 grit paper to remove the oxidation on the stem, then followed with 8,000 and 12,000 grade micromesh. The stem was then buffed with white diamond and Meguiars Plastic polish.

I used an iron and a wet cloth to stem out the dents, most of which came up nicely. I was able to minimize the others with some 2,000 grit wet paper, followed by a white diamond buff. Some handling marks were near the nomenclature, but those couldn’t be fixed. The nomenclature is worn and I didn’t want to risk damaging it further.

Below is the finished pipe. I’m curious if anyone else has encountered this GBD shape.



I use Conservator’s Wax for polishing briar, metal and rubber

Blog by Steve Laug

For the past few years I have been using a Canadian made product called Conservator’s Wax on pipes with either rusticated or sandblast finishes. I have mentioned often in my blogs on those pipes and I am surprised that more of you have not asked me about the product and what it is.

For years I had read about Renaissance Wax on different forums and how well it worked on briar pipes but I could not find it here in Canada (though I am told that it is now available). I always planned on getting a can from Amazon to try out but somehow never got around to ordering it. I wondered if there was not something like that here in Canada that I could purchase and experiment with.

One day I was visiting one of my favourite tool shops – Lee Valley Tools. To me it is the kind of place I can spend an afternoon or more wandering and looking at the assorted tools and supplies that carry. I was in the wood polishing area looking at sandpapers, micromesh and other wise and came across this little silver can that said it was for polishing woods and other things. I asked about it and one of the gents there said that he had used it for years on wooden bowls and other pieces that he had turned on his lathe. I said it was a very light weight wax that really polished well and lasted to protect the pieces he had made.

After reading the details of the product while I was in the shop I thought that it might be something like Renaissance Wax. It seemed like it would be worth a try to see what it worked like on pipes. Here is a summary of what I read:

CONSERVATOR’S WAX is a blend of highly refined microcrystalline waxes of fossil origin (petrochemical based) based on a formula which has become the standard material used in museums and art galleries and by professional conservators and restorers the world over. This high performance, crystal clear wax may be used on wood, metal, ceramics, ivory, marble, polished stones, leather, plastics, gilding, cast resins, photographs, and like materials offering excellent moisture resistance and protection against heat and finger marks. Its application on exterior surfaces enhances weather resistance. Apply it with a soft cloth to gently remove built-up dirt and grime and old wax, then buff when dry to polish to a soft sheen.

I brought it home and have been using the same can for 4 or 5 years now. It does not take much of the wax to do the job. I apply it by hand to the surface of rusticated and sandblast pipes as well as plateau on the rim of some freehands and let it dry. I buff it with a shoe brush and I have been very pleased with the results. It does not clog up the crevices, valleys or depths of these finishes and provides a lasting shine. I find that it is equal to Halcyon II wax in terms of its polish and workability on rough finishes. I have also used it on smooth finishes as part of the experiment and found that it works well. For me it does not replace carnauba for smooth surfaces but it is certainly workable.

In terms of its polishing and cleaning capabilities I have used it on briar that I have restained and it seems to buff out the tiny scratches that have been left behind from all of my polishing and buffing. I have used it on stubborn oxidation on vulcanite stem and found that it did not have the polishing ability to remove that from the hard rubber. It did however; work very well in hand cleaning the oxidation around stem logos and stamping without damaging those areas. On large oxidized areas there are other products that do a better job. I have also used it to polish and clean metal bands and ferrules and it cleans off oxidation and tarnish in the stamping and hallmarks quite well. It not only cleans but leaves behind a nice shine on nickel, silver and brass.

I can recommend it to those of you who cannot find Renaissance Wax or do not want to order the small jars of Halcyon II wax. It is a suitable replacement and one that I use regularly. As I mentioned, the small 125ml container that I have has lasted for 4-5 years and I work on a lot of pipes. I will definitely pick up another can when I visit Lee Valley Tools in the near future. It is a product that I keep on hand. Give it a try and see what you think.