Daily Archives: July 19, 2017

Breathing life into an 1890’s era CPF French Briar Horn Stem Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

I decided to work on another one of the older 1890s CPF (Colossus Pipe Factory) pipes that my brother and I found on our virtual pipe hunt in Montana. That antique mall had just received a large estate of older CPF and WDC pipes. We picked up 30 pipes and one pipe case. There were 11 unique CPF brand pipes. Included were the following pipes (the three pipes that I have already restored are listed as hyperlinks below and you can click on any of them to read about the restoration. The rest will be finished in the near future). I chose to work on the French Briar Bulldog for this blog.

CPF military mount Oom Paul
CPF The Remington, French Briar, (military mount)
CPF French Briar with Hallmarked band and horn stem. Filigree carving around bowl
CPF Pullman with Horn Stem
CPF Siamese with twin horizontal stems
CPF Cromwell with twin vertical stems
CPF Olivewood Bowl Sitting on Petals- Horn Stem
CPF French Briar Bulldog with Horn Stem (the pipe in this blog)
CPF French Briar with tarnished metal band and a Horn Stem (looks like mini-Wellington)
CPF French Briar Horn Shaped Pipe with metal band and Horn Stem
CPF Colon French Briar with Black Meer Bowl and Amber stem

It is a beautifully grained, long shank Bulldog with a horn stem. It is stamped with the C.P.F. in an oval logo. Arched above and below the logo it is stamped French Briar. There is a small flaw in the briar at the end of the Briar stamping. The finish was worn but the pipe was in otherwise good shape. There was a thick cake in the bowl and an overflow of lava on the rim top. The inner edge of the rim top appeared to have some damage but otherwise it was in good shape. The double ring around the bowl under the cap was undamaged and the center ring was unbroken. The horn stem was worn at the button and had been well chewed on both the top and bottom sides. The stem appeared to be underclocked in the pictures that follow but once my brother cleaned it up I would have a better idea with regard to that.

My brother took the following photos of the pipe before he started cleaning it. They give an overall picture and also close up pictures of the pipe from a variety of angles. He included a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It was originally stamped with gold filigree in the letters but that had pretty much worn out. You can see the flaw or gouge going through the AR on the word Briar.The next four photos show the grain on the bowl from a variety of angles. The finish is very worn and dirty but the grain is quite nice and there are no fills in the briar. The close up photo of the rim top shows the scratches and lava on the top and the slight damage to the inner edge of the bowl. A fairly thick cake lines the walls of the bowl and is peeling on the front edge.The next two photos show the underclocked horn stem and what appears to be red thread that had been used to align the stem. It had obviously not worked.The next four photos show the condition of the horn stem. It is dried, chewed and delaminating at the button on both sides of the stem. The button itself also has some tooth damage to the top and underside. There appears to be a lot of colouration to the striations of the horn and it should clean up and be beautiful once polished. My brother did an amazing job on the cleanup of this old timer. His work keeps getting better and better and does not damage the old briar or horn. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet Reamer and cleaned it up with the Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the airway through the tenon and into the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until it was clean. He scrubbed the externals with Murphy’s Oil Soap and was careful around the remaining gold filigree in the stamping on the left side of the shank. He was able to remove the tar and lava build up on the rim top and showed that inner edge was just lightly damaged. And low and behold once he had removed the thread on the metal tenon the stem lined up perfectly. I took the next four photos of the pipe when it arrived in Vancouver. I took a close up photo of the rim top and bowl to show how thoroughly Jeff had cleaned it. It would take very little work with a folded piece of sandpaper to smooth out the remaining damage to the inner edge of the bowl.He had been able to clean out the debris from inside the stem and also smooth out the exterior of the stem. The delamination of the horn would need to be stabilized and the deep tooth wear would need to be rebuilt to restore the taper of the stem.I decided to change my normal routine a bit and used amber coloured super glue from Stewart MacDonald to stabilize the horn around the button and up the surface of the stem for about an inch. This would bind together the strands of the horn and build up the tooth damaged areas on the surface. Once it dried I would be able to smooth out the repaired surface and blend it into the rest of the stem. I had an idea that the amber super glue would blend in better with the colours of the horn in this particular stem.I sanded the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the horn. I wanted a smooth transition between the repair and the rest of the horn. I also wanted to see if I had covered the damaged area of the stem surface well enough. I was pleased by what I saw once I had smoothed the repairs out. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and rubbing the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I dry sanded the stem with 3200-4000 grit pads to further polish it and gave it more oil after each pad. The oil serves to give life to the dried horn. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel before finishing polishing it with 6000-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil after each of the micromesh sanding pads and let it dry after the final pad.With the stem finished I worked on the inner edge of the bowl. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damage on the bowl edge. It did not take too much work to make it smooth once again. I sanded the top of the rim with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads (I forgot to take photos of the work on the rim top with the 3200-12000 grit pads).I used some European Gold Rub’n Buff to rework the stamping on the shank side. I applied it to the stamping with a cotton swab and then wiped off the excess. The photo below shows the stamping with the gold applied.I put the stem back on the shank and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I carefully worked over the shank so as to not damage the stamping. I gave the entire pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect the briar and the horn. 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 classic piece of pipe history. The shape and the finish of the pipe are exceptionally well done and show European craftsmanship that Colossus Pipe Factory was famous for. This is one of those pipes that will have a place in my own collection. It is just too beautiful to part with!

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Refurbishing a Boswell 2003 Spiral Twist Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

Another interesting pipe that Jeff picked up was a Boswell Spiral Twist Bent Billiard made in 2003 by the Boswell father and son team. It was in excellent condition and came in its original packaging. It had some beautiful grain and was well laid out on the piece of briar. The stem was vulcanite and was lightly oxidized on the left side and top. It looked like it had been on display and the sun had oxidized the stem over time. The spiral of the cut in the briar worked itself across the bowl and around the shank. The gracious curves of the pipe are highlighted by the spiral pattern of the carving.My brother took some photos of the pipe to show the condition before he started his clean up work on it. The pipe had been smoked and had a light cake but it had been well cared for by the previous pipe man. There was also some tooth chatter on the stem on the underside near the button though the top side was clean of chatter. The rim top was very clean without any tar or lava overflow from the bowl. The stamping on the underside of the shank was clear and readable. It read Boswell in script over 2003 USA. The pipe was made in 2003.The close up of the shank stem junction shows a clean, tight fit. The close up photos of the stem shows its overall condition. (The oxidation on the top and left side of the stem does not show up well in the stem photos but it is present.) I did some reading to reacquaint myself with Boswell pipes. I read their website and also the entry on Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/J.M._Boswell). I find that reading the information on a pipe brand before I work on it gives me a sense of the passion and art of the craftsmen who made the pipe. That was true of this pipe as well. I quote from that entry now to give you a sense of the information that I found on the Boswells and their craftsmanship.

Photo courtesy of the Boswell’s Pipes Website

J.M. Boswell is considered to be one of the finest Master pipemakers in the world. His reputation is exemplary, and his craftsmanship is legendary. Working from sun up till the midnight hours, 7 days a week for most of the past 40 years, J.M. has produced thousands of handmade pipes for folks to enjoy. His dream, back in the 70s, was to make the best smoking pipes with the highest quality briar wood at an affordable price. J.M. Boswell has succeeded in doing so.

The Chambersburg store is located on the historic Lincoln Highway (rt 30), about 20 miles west of Gettysburg.

J.M. became a U.S. importer for Briar wood so that he could supply briar to other pipemakers. By doing this, he was able sell his own pipes at an affordable price. With the finest quality Briar available in the world, years of skill and his pipe master’s hands working to form the most beauty from a block of prime briar, a Boswell pipe is born…

J.M. and his son, Dan take great pride in making high quality handcrafted, American made smoking pipes. Admired for their craftsmanship, their handmade pipes are created for the rigors of everyday use and truly made to last.

Boswell’s is a family – owned business with a family environment. Every family member has a role within the business. J.M.’s wife Gail takes all of the photos – for the website, Instagram, and Pinterest; she also maintains the museum and store. Daughter Rachel manages estate pipes online, while Dan’s wife Julie takes the phone orders, and runs the shipping department.

J.M. and Dan, who work full time, side by side together, have created pipes that range from the smallest to the largest smoking pipes made in the world. Dan has known he wanted to follow in his fathers’ footsteps since he was a young boy, helping J.M. after school and during summer vacation. He has been working for the family business full time since he graduated high school, and plans on continuing the proud family tradition for many years to come.

Gail’s family background has involved pipes since long ago- her Father, Uncles, and Aunt made pipes in the late 1930s for the Weber Pipe factory in Jersey City, New Jersey. Her father’s family lived on Cator Avenue, the same as the factory, and they would walk to work each day. Their family history brings an incredible depth and passion for pipemaking!

“Over 70 years of pipe history in our family, and still continuing.”

The pipe arrived in Vancouver after my brother had done a thorough cleaning. He had reamed out the thin cake from the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He had cleaned out the internals – the mortise and the airways in the shank and the stem. I scrubbed off the grime on the surface of the briar and lightly buffed it with a cloth to dry it. It was ready for a very easy refurbishing. When I brought it to my work table I started by taking a photo of the box.The backside of the box reads:

Dear Pipe Smoker: J.M. Boswell crafts each of his pipes exclusively by hand! From the bare briar block to the final stain and polish, each step is a hands on procedure in old world tradition. Boswell pipes feature individual craftsmanship and style.

Additionally, J.M. Boswell has developed an exclusive bowl coating that greatly shortens the “break-in” time of a Boswell pipe and gives a sweet smoke from the very first bowl full. This coating is applied to each new pipe that Boswell makes.

One more compelling feature of Boswell pipes: “Their cost”! Boswell pipes can be had at a fraction of what most import pipes are. This is a feature pipe smokers find gratifying.

Our second feature is repairs by Boswell. J.M. Boswell has no peers in the quality and speed in which he gives “Turn-around” on pipe repairs, from stem replacement to banding, to reaming and cleaning.

I will be glad to answer any questions that you have regarding all the features of Boswell’s pipes, my repair work, plus the crafting process which can be witnessed first hand at our store and pipe making shop at 586 Lincoln Way East in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

Cordially J.M. Boswell, Owner.

Here is what the pipe looked like when I opened the box at my work table. The stain and the finish are really well done. The shape is quite compelling and the hand feel is very good. I took a close up photo of the rim and bowl to show the condition. The rim and inner and outer edges are very clean. There are remnants of the Boswell bowl coating mentioned on the box that can be seen in the photo.The next two photos show the oxidation on the topside and the tooth chatter on the underside of the stem.Since the bowl was in such great condition I started with the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter on the underside of the stem and the oxidation on the top and left side with 220 grit sandpaper being careful not to damage the thin edge of the saddle that sat against the shank. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil after each pad and after the final pad I set it aside to dry. I ran a pipe cleaner and alcohol through the mortise and shank to see if there were any issues there. My brother’s cleaning job was excellent so there was only dust from my clean up in the shank and mortise.I decided to give the bowl a coat of Conservator’s Wax to see if there were any spots that needed a bit more attention. I applied the wax, let it dry and buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth. The next photos tell the story. The pipe was in excellent condition. I put the stem back in place on the shank and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. 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 microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe is a beauty and one that is tempting to hold onto for my own collection. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Diameter: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I will soon be adding it to the rebornpipes store. If you would like to add it to your collection send me an email at slaug@uniserve.com or a private message on Facebook. Thanks for walking through the refurb with me.

Restoring a Unique Motorist Patent Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

My brother Jeff has an eye for unique pipes. He seems to find more of them than I ever picked up on my own. The next pipe on my work table is classic example of one of his finds. It is a beautiful Bulldog with nice grain around the bowl and when the top cap is in place it looks like it was not drilled. It is stamped Motorist on the left shank in script and Patent on the right shank. On the underside of the right shank it is stamped Italy. I can find no information on the make of the brand but it is possible that it was made in Italy for either Wally Frank or Mastercraft, both had a broad reach of makers that they imported. I am not sure it will ever become clear who made the pipe but it is an interesting piece of pipe history that is well worth restoring. There was a cake in the bowl and lava on top of the bowl once the cap was removed. The inside of the cap was also dirty. The threads on both the cap and the bowl were not damaged. The next set of photos came from the seller’s EBay listing.It has always puzzled me why sellers do not align the stem before they take photos. Often a crooked stem can be a problem but this one appears to have been misaligned. We will know more once it arrives.The finish on the pipe looks to be in pretty good shape underneath the grime and paint specks on the surface.On the top of the rim there were two drilled holes that went through from the rim (first photo below) to the bottom front edge of the bowl (second photo below). I believe they were drilled to draw air into the bowl and help the tobacco burn. The first photo shows the cake in the bowl and the buildup on the rim top. It is a dirty pipe.On the front underside of the bowl you can see the other end of the holes in the rim. They go straight down from the rim and out the front bottom edge. They run between the outer and inner bowl for the airflow into the bowl. I wonder if in some strange way they also cool the bowl.The threaded cap is much the same shape as the cap above the twin rings on a regular bulldog pipe. The cap has threads on the inside that match the threads on the bowl itself. The briar is a pretty piece. There is a small fill on the front edge that blends in very well. The inside of the cap has some tars and carbon on the top portion but there is no burning to the briar.The bowl is stamped Motorist on the left side as shown in the first photo below. The second photo shows the stamping Patent on the right side of the shank.The stem was oxidized and there were some deeper tooth marks and chatter on the underside near the button and chatter on the top side near the button. The edge of the button was worn on the top side.When the pipe arrived in Idaho my brother took some better photos of it to show the finish and the condition of the pipe. You can see the paint flecks on the briar and the general grime that is even in the stamping on the shank sides.His photo of the rim top and the cake in the bowl is clear and shows that the cake is quite thick. The lava overflow on the rim top is also thick and continues onto the shelf that the cap rests on when it is screwed in place.The first two photos below show the sides of the bowl and also show the drilled air holes in the bowl sides on the left and right. The third photo below shows the underside of the bowl and both air holes. The grain on the briar is really nice and follows the flow of the bowl. Jeff took close up photos of the rim top and the inside of the cap to show the carbon buildup on those two areas.The next three photos show the stamping on the pipe as noted above. Notice the debris that is ground into the grooves of the stamping.He took photos to show the condition of the stem. The chatter on the top side was not as bad as I had expected but the marks on the underside were very deep and had sharp edges.Jeff did his usual thorough clean up and when I received the pipe there was little for me to work on in terms of cleaning. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. He scrubbed the surface of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed it with warm water. He soaked the stem in OxiClean to soften the oxidation and bring it to the surface. All that remained was for me to breathe some life into it through the restoration process. I took the following photos to show the condition of the pipe when it arrived in Vancouver. The oxidation on the stem was now on the surface, thanks to the OxiClean soak. The tooth marks were also very clear so now it would not take much to repair them and restore the stem to its original black lustre.The lovely grain on the bowl cap and the bowl are well laid out. There are some small sandpits on the cap that do not detract from the beauty. The twin air holes in the bottom front of the bowl are aligned well and are a distinctive feature of the pipe.When I removed the cap from the top of the bowl I could see how well my brother had cleaned up the inside of the bowl, the rim top and the inside of the cap.I wiped the stem down with Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer to remove some of the oxidation and though it did not work well it did clean up the area around the tooth marks. I “painted” the bite marks with the flame of a Bic lighter to raise them as much as possible. Many of the surface bite marks lifted, but the deeper ones I filled in with Black Super Glue. I sprayed it with an accelerator to dry it and allow me to work on it more quickly. Once it had dried I was ready to clean up the stem and smooth out the repair. I ran a pipe cleaner dipped in isopropyl alcohol through the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem and worked on the slot with a dental pick. It did not take too much work to leave both the bowl and the stem clean.I scrubbed the stem surface with Brebbia Stem Polish and a cotton pad to remove more of the oxidation. While it removed a lot more of the oxidation there was still some in the curves of the saddle stem that needed more work. I worked those over with 220 grit sandpaper to get more of the oxidation off the stem.I polished the curved portion of the saddle on the stem with micromesh sanding pads to remove the oxidation further. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads. As I cleaned up the underside of the stem at the saddle there was a small piece of metal embedded in the rubber which pointed to a wartime manufacture date for the pipe (WW2). I have read that they used rubber from old tires to make stems in that era. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and let it sit to dry.I polished it more with 3200-4000 grit pads and rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. There was still some oxidation in the curves on the transition between the saddle and the blade of the stem.I buffed the saddle area with red Tripoli and Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to remove the last of the oxidation and to polish it. I polished it further with 6000-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I finally had conquered the oxidation and the stem shone.I buffed the finished pipe with Blue Diamond once more to polish the pipe and gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine on the pipe. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos that follow. It is not only an interesting piece of pipe history it is also a beautifully made pipe. The contrast between the rich reddish, brown stain and the black of the vulcanite stem work really well together. Thanks for walking with me through the restoration process.