Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe I brought to the work table was a little bent CPF French Briar billiard. The photos below shows what it looked like before my brother did his clean up on it. It is another one from the lot of pipes my brother and I picked up on our virtual pipe hunt in Montana. I have written about several of the other CPF finds with the latest being a nice little CPF horn stem bulldog. Just a reminder – CPF stands for Colossus Pipe Factory. The brand was made in the late 1880s and 1890s. This little bent billiard comes from the same era as the other pipes in this find. It was very worn and looked to be in rough condition. The finish was non-existent and there were a lot of nicks, scratches and grime on the surface all around the bowl. There was a thick, crumbling cake buildup in the bowl and it overflowed on to the top of the rim. It looked like the inner edge of the bowl was damaged from reaming with a knife but I could not be certain until the cake was gone. The gold band on the shank was so badly oxidized that it was impossible to see what was under the grime and sticky debris on it. The horn stem had tooth marks on the top and underside near the button and looked like it was delaminating along the edges and the bend on the underside. The horn was very dry. Jeff took some close up photos of the bowl and rim from the top. You can see the crumbling condition of the cake in the bowl and the thick overflow on the rim top. It was really hard to see the condition of the inner edge of the bowl.The grain underneath all of the grim on the sides of the bowl was really quite stunning, even through the debris, grime and buildup. The birdseye and cross grain stain out really well even through the dirty surface. The oxidation on the band was also heavy and very rough. It is hard to know what is underneath the corrosion.The stamping on the left side of the shank has the standard C.P.F. logo in an oval with French arched over the oval and Briar arched underneath. The stamping on the C.P.F. is fainter than the stamping on French Briar. The second photo shows the junction between the band and the horn stem. The horn looks rough and grainy.The next four photos show the stem from various angles. The first and second photos show what looks like delaminating on the left side near the button. The third and fourth photos show tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem at the button. The tooth marks on the top are deep. Jeff thoroughly cleaned the pipe. 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 the stem. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime and grit on the bowl. He scrubbed the tenon with a tooth brush and removed the tars and oils. I took photos of the pipe to show the condition it was in when it arrived in Vancouver. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the condition it was in after my brother had cleaned it up. It is amazing to me that he was able to remove the thick buildup on the rim top and the crumbling cake in the bowl and leave no debris behind. It was better than I had expected. The rough spots would be easy to sand out and smooth the ridges and bring it back to round. It appeared that the pipe had never been smoked to the bottom of the bowl as the bottom of the bowl is raw briar.The next two photos show the condition of both sides of the stem after the cleanup. Note the roughness on the underside of the stem and the tooth marks/chatter on both to top and the bottom near the button.You can see the oxidation on the band in the photos above. It is not clear what colour it is. The sticky grime was cleaned off but the oxidation would need to go. I sanded the band with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads to remove all of the sticky substance and the oxidation on the surface. It came off really easily with some polishing. I glued the band in place on the shank with white glue and let it dry.I smoothed out the damage on the inner edge of the rim with 220 grit sandpaper and gave it a light bevel to minimize the damage. I stained the beveled edge on the bowl with a black Sharpie pen to blend it in with the inside walls of the bowl. I wet sanded the bowl and rim with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cotton pad to remove the sanding grit. I polished the band while I worked on the bowl with the same grits of micromesh pads. The following photos showed the polishing on the briar. I touched up the gold leaf on the CPF French Briar logo with European Gold Rub’n Buff. I applied it with a cotton swab and wiped down the excess gold. The light of the flash showed more of the gold buff that needed to come off.I stained the bowl with a 50/50 mix of dark brown aniline stain and isopropyl alcohol. I applied the stain and flamed it with a lighter. I repeated the process until I felt the coverage was even. Once it dried I took some photos of the stained bowl. It is too dark to my liking but the coverage was even. I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on cotton pads to make it more transparent and let the grain show through. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads to further remove the stain and make the grain show through. The process of unveiling the grain is shown in the photos that follow.With the bowl finished I worked on the stem. I used some small drops of super glue to fill in the tooth marks on the stem surface and the button. Once the repairs had dried I sanded them smooth to blend them into the surface of the stem. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil on a cotton cloth. I gave it a final coat after the last pad and set it aside to dry. I buffed the stem and bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel to polish it. I gave the stem and bowl multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the waxed bowl and stem with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos that follow. The old timer looks really good and should have long years of life in it. I look forward to enjoying this pocket sized pipe. Thanks for walking with me through the process of the restoration.