Daily Archives: August 26, 2017

Repairing a broken shank and crooked alignment on a Joh’s Churchwarden

Blog by Steve Laug

I received an email a few weeks ago from a fellow in Vancouver named Chris, asking if I would have a look at a cracked shank on his Joh’s churchwarden. He figured that it was not repairable but wanted to know if I would cut back the broken shank and refit the stem. I asked him to send me some photos of the damaged shank so I could see it myself. He sent me two photos of the pipe – one from the left side and the other from the top. The photos showed some extensive damage to the shank. There were cracks on the top, the bottom, the right and the left side of the shank. There was a large chunk of briar missing on the left side of the shank. It also appeared to me that the diameter of the stem was smaller than the diameter of the shank and that the stem sat toward the left side of the shank.Chris brought the pipe by my office for me to have a look at. We sat in my office and he went over the pipe with me. It was a nice looking pipe with two rusticated panels on the left side of the bowl and the rest of the bowl and rim were smooth. The pipe was in good shape other than the broken shank. The rim had some darkening and oils on the back side. The stem was in excellent condition with no tooth marks at all on either side. We made the decision to work on it and see what I could do repairing the damage. I took photos of the pipe when I brought it home from work and put it on the work table.I took close up photos of the cracked and broken shank. You can see the extensive damage and the difference in the diameter of the shank and the stem. I used a microdrill bit on the Dremel and drilled pin holes at the end of each crack to stop the cracks from spreading further.I used a combination of super glue and briar dust applied in layers to build up area where there was a missing chunk of briar in the left side of the shank. I built it up until the missing chunk was replaced with the mixture. It was not pretty but it was better than it was when I started the process.I sanded the repair with a sanding drum on my Dremel. The sanding drum smoothed out the repair on the exterior of the shank. The next series of three photos show the repaired area of the shank. I used a needle file to smooth out the inside of the mortise and to begin to return it to round. I would do more work on that once I had pressure fit a nickel band on the shank. I heated the nickel band with a Bic lighter to expand it and pressed it onto the shank of the pipe until the edge of the band and the edge of the shank end were even.I remembered that I had not filled in the pinholes that I had drilled. I used clear super glue and a tooth pick to put a bead of glue on top of each pin hole. When the glue had dried I sanded the shank repairs smooth with 220 grit sandpaper until they were blended into the surface of the briar.I polished the sanded areas of the briar and the dirty top of the bowl with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped the shank down with a damp cotton pad to remove the dust. I used a medium brown stain pen to touch up the sanded areas around the shank. The medium brown blended perfectly with the existing stain. I polished the bowl and shank with 3200-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads and wiped it down with a damp cotton pad to remove the sanding dust on the surface after each pad. Before I took photos of the polished stummel after using the 12000 grit pad, I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed the pipe on the buffer with a clean buffing pad to give it a shine. The polished pipe is shown in the photos below. I took close up photos of the shank repair and band to show the look of the repaired shank. If you look closely you can see the repaired cracks and the tiny pinholes but the pipe looks very good with the new nickel band and blended stain. I reshaped the mortise with needle files and built up the left side of the tenon with clear super glue to move the stem toward the centre of the shank. Once I had finished the alignment was far better than when I started and the stem looks more centred in the shank. I used a tooth pick and super glue to fill in the gap between the band and the right side of the shank. You can see from the photo that the shank was not round but more oval and slanted to the left. With the band and the repair the shank is round and the mortise end looks far better.I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect it. I used a very light touch on the rusticated portions of the left side of the bowl. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe is well proportioned with the following dimensions Length: 10 inches, Height: 2 inches, Bowl diameter: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos that follow. I think Chris will be happy to see one of his favourite pipes returned to his rotation looking better than when he left it with. Chris if you read this – tell us what you think. Enjoy. Thanks for looking.

Restoring a Made in England Cumberland Acorn

Blog by Steve Laug

The stamping on the next pipe that crossed my work table was faint but it read Cumberland over Made in England. There is no shape number and no other name on the pipe. There is nothing Cumberland about the pipe as far as I can tell – the stem is black vulcanite and appears to be original. The finish is sand blast and quite nice though there are some sand pits in the bowl that are quite large and have been filled in. The rim and bowl are in good condition. The stem was badly oxidized and had a few tooth marks but otherwise clean. Like I said nothing Cumberland about it. I looked on Pipephil’s site and as expected nothing with this name other than Dunhill. I looked at Who Made That Pipe and they list it as UNKNOWN. So the mystery remains. I have no idea who made this nicely shaped acorn but I know that it was made in England. Anyone have any ideas?

I received a comment on the blog and on my Facebook page both confirming what I asked regarding the maker of this pipe. Al Jones (upshallfan) and Dan Chlebove both figured it was made by Charatan. I did some searching online and found a Charatan Shape Chart on Al Pascia’s website. Sure enough, the shape was on the chart. It is the Salisbury Shape 173. Dan noted that it was an older one because it did not have the Double Comfort style bit on it. I think that the scar on the front of the bowl and the sandpit on the back make it a Charatan Reject. Thanks for the information gentlemen.My brother took the photo above and the ones that follow to show the condition of the pipe when it arrived in Idaho. The finish was very dirty and there was a lot of grime and dirt in the grooves of the sandblast. There was significant tar and darkening on the rim top and edges. The bowl had a thick cake and it had overflowed onto the rim top. The stem was lightly oxidized and very dirty with the slot almost closed off with tars. There were tooth marks and chatter on both the top and underside of the stem near the button and tooth damage to the sharp edge of the button on both sides.The next photo shows the cake and the overflow on to the bowl top. I have found that generally this kind of buildup protects the rim top as well as the inner and outer edges from damage.The next photos show the interesting sandblast finish on the bowl from various angles. Looking past the dirty finish it is an interesting blast. The first photo below shows the sandpit on the front of the bowl but future photos will give a better view of that spot.I have included both of the next photos because together they give a clear view of the stamping on the underside of the shank. The first one show the CUMBERLAND stamping though the Made in England stamp is blurry. The second is the reverse. The shank is stamped on the curve of the shank so it is hard to get a clear photo of both at the same time.The close up photos of the stem surfaces show the tooth marks, chatter and damage to the edge of the button on both sides.Jeff did his usual thorough cleanup of the pipe. He reamed the bowl and cleaned out the internals – mortise, airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the briar with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove all of the grim and grit in the finish and clean out the areas around the sandpits. He rinsed the briar under running water and dried it with a soft cloth. He soaked the stem in OxyClean to bring the oxidation to the surface and remove the grime. When the pipe arrived in Vancouver it certainly looked different than it did when we picked it up. I took the photos below to show the condition of the pipe when I brought it to the work table. The finish looked amazingly clean. The rim top looked better without the tars and buildup. There was some darkening on the rim top but the edges of the rim looked very good.The OxiClean had done the job and the oxidation was on the surface of the vulcanite stem. It was pretty green. I dropped it in the Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer to soak for 24 hours while I turned my attention to the stummel. The “Harry Potterish” scar (flaw/sandpit) on the front of the bowl was quite deep but it was not cracked. To me it took away from the overall look of a nice sandblast. There was also a round sandpit on the back side of the bowl on the left toward the top edge that also needed attention. I used a brass bristle brush to scrub out the remaining debris in those areas. I filled them in with clear super glue to blend them into the surface of the briar better. When the repairs had cured I carefully wiped around the edges with acetone on a cotton swab to remove the excess glue. I have found that the super glue repairs leave a shiny spot on the finish if you don’t remove the overage. To blend the repairs into the briar even more I topped up the repaired areas with black super glue. It would blend in better with the final stain that I was planning on using on the briar. I cleaned up the areas with a cotton swab and acetone to remove any excess glue in the surrounding sandblast. I warmed the briar and stained it with a dark brown aniline stain. I applied the stain and flamed it several time until I had an even coverage on the stummel. I set the pipe aside for about an hour and worked on another pipe I have on the work table. When the stain had dried I wiped it off with alcohol on a cotton pad to make it more transparent and show some of the underlying grain. I like the contrast that happens in the finish when I wiped off some of the stain. Notice the repaired areas on the front and back side of the bowl. They blend in quite well with the darker finish. I gave the sandblast several coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a shoe brush to raise the shine. I really like the new colour on the bowl and find that the repaired areas really do blend in quiet well with the rest of the finish. It also blends in the darkening on the rim top and gives the pipe a richer new look. I took the stem out of the Before & After soak and dried off the stem with a rough cloth to remove the remnants of the soak and the oxidation that it had lifted. The next two photos show the stem after the soak. There is still some deep oxidation that will need to be addressed but it looks far better than it did when I started.I put the stem on the stummel and took some photos to get an idea of where I was at with the restoration. The pipe is going to look good once I am finished. I used some black super glue to repair the edge of the button on both sides of the stem. Once the repair dried I sanded the repairs and the rest of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to shape the button and to remove the remaining oxidation. I worked on the saddle portion of the stem carefully so as not to round the edges where it met the shank of the pipe. It was looking better but more work was necessary to bring it to a full shine. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiping the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished the stem with Before & After Pipe Polish to further remove the scratches left behind by the sandpaper. I dry sanded the stem with 3200-12000 grit micromesh pads to deepen the polish. I wiped the stem down after each pad and set it aside to dry after sanding with the 12000 grit pad. I put the pipe back together and polished it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I find that Blue Diamond Plastic polish really takes out the scratches in the vulcanite stems. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and polished it with a clean buffing pad. I hand waxed the sandblast bowl with a final coat of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the bowl and stem with a microfiber cloth. The darker stain blended the repaired sandpits and the darkening on the rim top into the rest of the finish. It turned out to be a nice looking pipe – its dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Bowl diameter: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store soon. If it interests you, send me an email to slaug@uniserve.com or a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.