Blog by Steve Laug
This petite and unusual disk shaped pipe came to me in the lot my brother and I found on our virtual pipe hunt in Montana (https://rebornpipes.com/2017/04/26/a-virtual-pipe-hunt-a-new-way-to-experience-the-joy-of-a-pipe-hunt/). It was in the same lot as the older C.P.F. and WDC pipes that I have been working on. I am guessing it is from the same era as the rest – late 1880s through early 1890s – but I am not positive. I can find nothing on the WDC Monitor in my pamphlets, books or online. The dimensions give you a picture of the size – length 4 ½ inches, height 1 3/8 inches, diameter of the bowl 1 inch, diameter of the chamber ½ inch. I have also included a photo of the pipe next to a Canadian Toonie ($2 coin, same size as the American $2 coin) for you to get an idea of the size of the bowl (the second photo was taken after I had begun the cleanup on the stem and band).The pipe was in decent condition. The finish was worn and dirty. There was a cake in the bowl and the inner edge of the rim was damage slightly on the back edge. There was lava on the top of the rim but it looked like it was not too heavy and it did not appear that there was burn damage. There was one fill/sandpit on the front side of the bowl near the top. The stem was like the WDC Wellington faux P-lip with the airway coming out at the end rather than on top. It was oxidized and dirty. There were some light scratches and chatter on the stem but it was in decent shape. The brass band was oxidized and dirty with some heavy buildup on the edges where it met the briar. It was also loose on the shank. My brother took quite a few photos to show the look of the pipe. It really is an interesting shape and one that I have not seen in this aged pipe before.The stamping on the shank of the pipe had some faded gold leaf and read Monitor in script and underlined on the left side and WDC in a triangle on the right side. The stamping was very sharp with a little shallowness on the capital M of Monitor.The grain on the bowl was very nice and the carver had placed the shape on the grain to highlight the variety of grain – birdseye, cross grain and flame. It is a good looking piece of briar and I could only find the one fill. The next two photos show the bowl. Notice not only the cake and the lava overflow on the rim but also the small nicks on the back, inner edge of the rim in both photos.The stem was oxidized as noted above and had scratching but did not have any tooth marks or chatter. The airway in the button was still round and did not show signs of damage. The WDC triangle logo was stamped on the top side of the stem behind the saddle and on the underside of the stem it was stamped SOLID RUBBER. The Solid Rubber stamping was fainter than the WDC logo on the top side of the stem with the word Rubber fading toward the end.Jeff thoroughly cleaned the pipe before he sent it to me. He reamed the bowl and scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the externals of the briar with Murphy’s Oil Soap and put the stem in a bath of Oxyclean to bring the oxidation to the surface and soften it. The next photos show what it looked like when it arrived in Vancouver. He did a great job cleaning up the rim and other than the small nicks on the back side of the inner edge it looked flawless.The oxidation on the stem came to the surface after the Oxyclean soak and it had that “wonderful” brown tint that would need to be removed.I wiped the bowl down with a soft cotton pad and a little alcohol to remove any dust or debris left behind by the packing material and dried it off. I used some Rub’n Buff European Gold to touch up the stamping on both sides of the shank. I reglued the band with a white all purpose glue and polished it with micromesh sanding pads.I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to work over the damage to the rim edge and it did not take too much work to remove it without damaging the shape of the rim or the bowl.I polished the rim top and rim edge with micromesh sanding pads to smooth out the remaining scratch marks from the sandpaper. I hand buffed the bowl a microfiber cloth and took the next four photos to show where I was at with the pipe at this point. I rubbed the stem down with Brebbia Stem Polish to remove as much of the oxidation as I could. I worked on it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I took the next photo to show the stem at this point. There was still oxidation that shows up under the bright flash.I worked on the stem some more with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to further remove the oxidation and when I was happy with the result I used some Rub ‘n Buff European Gold to fill in the WDC Triangle logo on the top of the stem behind the saddle. Like its name you put the gold on the place you want it to be and rub it off. The next two photos show the process. The excess gold turned the area around the stamping gold as well. I would need to buff it off and finish the polishing with micromesh pads.I buffed the stem with red Tripoli to polish it further and remove some of the excess gold on the stem and saddle. I polished it with 3200-4000 grit micromesh pads and rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil.I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish it more. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a nice piece of briar and a unique old timer that is over a hundred and twenty years old. In the photos the flash revealed yet more oxidation :(. This would have to be polished out later. Off to work now. Thanks for walking through the process with me.