“Frankensteining” a Badly Damaged C.P.F. Cromwell Double stem pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

This is the second C.P.F. Cromwell Double stem system pipe that I have worked on (https://rebornpipes.com/2017/07/01/out-damn-spots-a-c-p-f-cromwell-double-vertical-stem-bent-billiard/). This one was in very rough shape but the stem was in much better condition. Like other older C.P.F. pipes this one has some real charm that deserved to be repaired and brought back to life. Like the other Cromwell it is on the petite side of things – 4 ½ inches long and 1 ½ inches tall. It was a nice piece of briar, a mix of grains. The silver collar on the shank is stamped with the same faux hallmarks and the C.P.F. in an oval logo as the previous one. It is probably silver or at least plated but I am not sure. The stem is the unusual part of the mix. It has two silver plated spigot tenons that fit into openings in the silver collar. The twin stems merge into one single airway. In the previous blog I posted a line drawing on the pipe showing the flow of air through the bowl to the button. I include that below as it is quite unique to this particular pipe.He took photos of the pipe from a variety of angles to show the uniqueness and the condition. The finish was worn and the top of the bowl had been burned and sanded down by about half of the briar. It was uneven and broken looking. But I think that the pipe still had some life in it. I was toying with the idea of “Frankensteining” the pipe. I was thinking about bonding the upper portion of another pipe bowl to the damaged portion of this bowl. The left side of the shank is stamped in worn gold leaf C.P.F. in an oval over Cromwell in script. There is no other stamping on the bowl. The stem is also stamped on the left side and reads PURE RUBBER on the top stem and C.P.F. in an oval on the lower stem. This pipe is also from the virtual pipe hunt my brother and I did in Montana. The photos he took are shown below. The next two photos show that the pipe continued to be smoked even after all of the damage. It must have been someone’s favourite pipe as you can see the cake that is formed around the inside walls of the bowl. The rim top and edges are absolutely savaged and it looks like someone took a rasp or file to the top to try to smooth out the damage. A view from the front of the bowl shows the damage to the top of the bowl and how it dips dramatically at the front. The bowl sides are scratched and damaged as well.The next two photos show some of the nice grain that remains on the bottom and sides of the bowl.The stamping on the left side of the shank is very readable – C.P.F. in an oval logo over Cromwell in script format. The metal ferrule bears the C.P.F. in an oval logo flanked on the left by the same three faux hallmarks that were on all of the other C.P.F. pipes.The double stem inserted in the ferrule has end caps that are also metal and pressed onto the vulcanite. The stem is stamped Pure Rubber on the top stem and the C.P.F. in an oval logo on the lower stem. The stem is oxidized but it is in good condition.The stem surface at the top and underside near the button is worn and has tooth chatter and wear on the sharp edge of the button.When the stem was removed from the shank the inside of the mortise was dirty and had a lot of oxidation and buildup on the inside and on the stem caps. The airways were also dirty and almost clogged.Once again Jeff did his usual thorough cleanup of the pipe. He reamed the bowl and cleaned out the internals – both sides of the twin mortise, and the convoluted airways 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 briar was really a nice piece with flowing straight and flame grain running up the sides of the bowl and shank and birds eye on the bottom of both. The rim top was basically gone and what remained was very damaged with missing chunks of briar on the inner edge. The angle of the remaining rim was lower in the front than it was in the back. The bottom of the bowl was over reamed. I took a close up photo of the rim top and bowl. It was really damaged but it was clean. You can see the chips and missing chunks of briar in the rim top. The bowl is totally out of round and is rough with file marks on the top surface.The OxyClean soak had brought the oxidation to the surface of the vulcanite. It was evenly distributed over the entire stem surface. There was some tooth chatter and marks on the stem that showed up with the soak. They are not deep so they will easily cleanup.I topped the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board. I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on a cotton pad to clean up the dust from the topping process. I put the stem in the Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer to soak and turned my attention to working on my idea for the bowl repair. I went through a box of bowls and stuff I have here for repairing pipes and I found a bowl that originally came from a metal pipe that had an open bottom. It was solid with no fills and it was one I had around that did not fit any of the metal bases in my drawer. I decided it would work really well as the replacement for the top half of the bowl. It was time to begin “Frankensteining” the two parts so that they would fit together. I used the sanding drum on the Dremel to sand off the threads on the bowl base and also sand out the inside of the Cromwell base.I built up the top edge and rim top of the bowl with a combination of briar dust and clear super glue. I wanted to build an even surface for the base of the bowl to rest on. I wanted the bowl to anchor firmly in the base using the smoothed out threaded portion of the bowl.I took photos of the bowl top after I had topped it on the topping board. You can also see the sanding marks of the sanding drum on the inside of the bowl.I applied super glue to the edges of the top bowl and on the inside of the base and glued the bowl to the base. I held it in place until the glue set. When it had dried I filled in the gaps between the bowl top and base with super glue and briar dust as shown in the photos below. This is where I begin to shape the “Frankenpipe” and bring the two parts together. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to begin to blend the two parts together. I need to reduce the diameter and flow of the top of the bowl so that it would blend in with the sides of the base portion of the bowl. It was going to take a lot of sanding but I think it actually would work. At this point the bowl is quite tall and that would need to be shortened. I took the stem out of the Before & After bath and dried it off with a rough cloth to remove the oxidation and sludge that clung to the surface of the vulcanite. I cleaned out the airways in the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol. I sanded out the tooth marks at the button on both sides and wiped the surface with Obsidian Oil. I was so intent on cleaning it up that I forgot to take photos of the stem work.I still needed to polish the stem with micromesh sanding pads but I would do that later in the process.

I turned back to the bowl and continued to sand with the Dremel and sanding drum shaping the bowl top to match the flow of the base. I shortened it each time I sanded the sides but it was going to take some time. I put the stem back in the shank and took photos to see where I stood with the reshaping work. You can begin to see the shape of the new pipe emerging as I sand it. I removed more of the height off the top of the bowl and continued to sand and remove excess briar around the base and sides to blend the two parts together. The photos tell the story. I continued to shape and shorten the new bowl with 220 grit sandpaper. I worked on the inside of the bowl using the Dremel with a sanding drum to smooth out the joint of the two parts. I followed up by using 180 grit sandpaper. In the photos below the pipe is beginning to take shape.To protect the joint on the inside of the bowl from potential burn out or damage I mixed a batch of JB Weld and used a spatula to apply it to the inside of the bowl. I decided to stain the briar with a dark brown aniline stain to make the grain stand out on the briar. I would sand it all off but the dark brown would highlight things well. I would not be able to hide the connection between the two parts of the bowl so I was thinking that I could leave the shank darker, the bottom a shade lighter, the junction between the two black and the top portion lighter. It would have a contrast like a meerschaum. I stained it and flamed it to set the grain in the briar. I repeated the process multiple times. While the stain cured on the bowl I worked on the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiped it down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with the oil after each pad. Once again I was so absorbed in working on the bowl that I forgot to take photos of the stem work. I set the stem aside to dry and went back to the bowl. I sanded the bowl with 180 and then 220 grit sandpaper to remove the stain coat on the bowl. The dark band is not even but it looks really good to me. I touched up the stamping on the left side of the shank with Rub’n Buff European Gold. I applied it with a cotton swab and buffed it off with soft pad. It is very readable and clear.With all of the touch ups finished and sanding finished on the bowl it was time to polish the briar. I really like to polish it with micromesh sanding pads as it brings the grain to the surface and gives the briar a deep shine. I work the same each time – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-120000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. I polished the ferrule and the stem ends with the micromesh pads at the same time. I wiped them down with a jeweler’s cloth to protect and give them a shine. I buffed the bowl and stem separately with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel being careful around the joint of the two parts of the bowl and the metal end caps on the double stem. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I rubbed the bowl down with a light coat of olive oil and buffed it with a soft microfiber cloth to deepen the shine on the bowl. The repaired pipe is shown in the photos below. I am pretty happy with how it turned out. In a few days I after the JB Weld has cured in the bowl I will give the bowl a coat of sour cream and charcoal powder to further protect it. What do you think of this Frankenstein pipe? Thanks for looking.

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