Monthly Archives: September 2017

Dr. Grabow Meerschaum Lined Project


By Al Jones

Recently a member of PipesMagazine.com forum started a contest for the best restoration of a Dr. Grabow pipe. The rules were simple:

Rules:
cost of the pipe $10 or less,
Must have Original stems with spade
Show before and after pics.
The more hideous you start with the better.

You can view the member entries at this thread:
“What’s Under That Grabow” Contest

Before and after photos can be viewed at the link below. Members can vote for the best restoration, on October 15th.
Before and After Contest Photos

I’ve been very busy lately and we are leaving for New Orleans in a few days, so I decided that there was no time for me to acquire and finish and entry. But, I stopped by a small antique shop near my Maryland work travel on Friday and low and behold, I found this Dr. Grabow for $8. It was a Meerschaum Lined model, and unfortunately, didn’t have the Spade logo as required in the contest rules. Member Dave G messaged me that Meerschaum Lined pipes were made in Italy, and did not have the Spade logo, so that was the original stem. I checked with the contest organizer and he let me in on a technicality!

Since this was my first meerschaum lined pipe restoration, of course I checked on pipes completed by Steve. He had completed a Dr. Grabow Meerscaum Lined pipe, where I confirmed that the model was indeed made in Italy. Steve adds the folowing from his blog entry:

Originally imported from M. Gasparini in Italy for Grabow. Sparta finally figured out how to do them and only imported the “plugs”. Early Grabow Meerschaum lined pipes were stamped Italy with no spade. After 1989 Dr. Grabow got rid of Italy and added the spade.” So, my sense of it being Italian was correct. It also dates this pipe as pre-1989.

Indeed, the bottom of the stem, near the shank does have a faint “Italy stamp.

Below is the pipe as it was found. Rebuilding the chewed button was going to be the biggest challenge. There was one small fill on the front of the bowl.

Unfortunately, when I tried to begin removing the cake, I found that the meerschaum lining was broken in numerous places and crumbling. I decided to just remove the lining. For now, this is just a styling exercise. Later, when I have more time, I’ll look into rebuilding the meerschaum lining. This made the restoration of the briar a bit simpler. I used aclohol and super-fine steel wool to strip the finish. I topped the bowl slightly with 320 grit paper, then up to 1500 grit. I put some superglue in the fill and sanded it flush. The bowl was stained with Medium Brown stain, set with a flame. The bowl was then buffed with White Diamond and several coats of Carnuba wax.

I used black superglue to rebuild the button. The build-up was shaped with a small file. I removed the oxidation with 400 and 800 grit paper, which was also used to finish the button shaping. The stem was then finished with 800, 1,500 and 2,000 grit wet paper. It was then buffed with White Diamond and then Meguiars Plastic Polish.

Below is the finished pipe.

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Just added a new reamer to my collection: The Morabb Pipe Scraper


Blog by Steve Laug

I received a contact message from the rebornpipes site regarding the sale of a pipe reamer. There was no message or information, just the link to the eBay sale item. I went to the item and had a look. It was listed as The Morabb Pipe Scraper. Since I collect old pipe reamers this would be another unique addition to the collection. It was interesting looking and enough of an oddity that I threw a bid on it. I was the only bidder which did not surprise me and this morning I won the item. It is on its way to me in Vancouver from England. Should be here in a week or two but in the mean time I thought since it was unique enough I would write a quick blog on it and post it in anticipation of its arrival.The seller described it as follows and his description set the hook for me. “This little item is a classic 1930s example of the Pipe Smoker’s paraphernalia and was used to ream out the bowl of the pipe to clean it. It is approximately 6cms long and is adjustable to different bowl sizes. A nice addition to a collection of smoker’s requisites. The piece is stamped on the handles as follows: The “Morabb” original vintage 1930s adjustable tobacco pipe scraper/reamer. Nickelled (nickel plated) metal. Made in England. It has a UK Patent Number: 177053/22. It is a rare collectible item in very good condition (vgc)… I had never seen one of these before and there was something charming about it in my opinion. I was glad to be able to add it to my collection.The seller included the above photos and these two of the piece looking at it from the top. It was and interesting looking piece of tobacciana and one that fit well into my reamer collection.Since I had not heard of the brand and was unfamiliar with how it worked I did a bit of hunting on the internet. I wanted to see if I could find more information. I tried a UK data base search and was unable to find anything of help. No matter how I entered the Patent number I did not find any listings. However, I did find several listings for the same kind of reamer on the web. There was one that was still boxed on Worthpoint and on eBay. I am pretty sure it was the same piece. I scrolled through the photos and did screen captures of one that showed the box that the scraper came in and the contents of the open box. I also found a photo of the instruction sheet that came in the original package. Now the wait begins while the pipe scraper makes its way across the pond to Canada. I am looking forward to trying it out and seeing how it works. The directions are quite clear so I suppose if I follow them I will have the success that they promise. Thanks for looking.

An Interesting Find – An FEC Cased Briar with a lot of Bling


Blog by Steve Laug

My brother Jeff sent me a link to a pipe he thought might interest me on eBay. He was right; we bid on it and won. The shape of the clamshell case (even though it is worn and tired looking) caught my attention. At its widest point it is 4 inches long, it is 3 ¼ inches wide and 2 inches tall. It is the perfect size case to put in a coat pocket with not too much of a bulge. The brass catch/latch was visible and was attached with nails to the front of the bottom half of the case. The wooden case is visible under the worn leather. On the back side of the case you can see the hinges, also attached with nails. (He took photos of the case and the pipe before he cleaned it up.)The plush red lining covered entire inside of the case. While it was worn and a little soiled it still showed some of its original glory. The top half of the case had a gold banner with FEC in a shield and two ribbons unfurled below the shield that read “FINEST QUALITY”. The bottom half the plush lined case had been form fitted to hold the bowl and stem separated but safely held in place. Then the pipe itself was intriguing. It looked to be in decent condition and was a brand with which I was unfamiliar. It looked very old and clean for a pipe of this age.Jeff took a photo of the inside of the case to show the form of the underside without the pipe and stem in place. It is obvious the case was made especially for this pipe and stem. The fit is perfect and the forms match the shape of the bowl with its bling and the saddle stem.Jeff took photos of the pipe and stem from various angles to capture the condition of the pipe. Other than some grime and dirt from sitting and the normal cake and tars in the bowl and shank the pipe was in really good shape. There were some scratches and dings in the briar and in the Bakelite stem but nothing too serious. The first and last photos below show the FEC shield on the left side of the shank. It was worn on the right side of the shield but it was very clear. The filigree shank and rim adornments were in really good condition with no chipping or scratching. There were also no nail caps showing that held both in place on the rim and the shank. The flat portion of the gold rim top was dented and there was some darkening. The next photos show the rim top and sides of both the rim cap and shank cap. There was grime and grit in the swirls of the gold but other than being dirty it was in good condition.  The next photo is a view of the pipe looking down the end of the shank. The build up of tars and oils on the walls of the mortise are very clear. The debris flowing out of the end of the tenon is also visible in this photo.The stem was a bit of a wreck with tooth chatter, tooth marks and nicks all around the top and underside. The airway in the stem is black with tars and oils. The third and fourth photos below show the nicks and scratches in the tenon of the Bakelite stem. The fifth photo below shows the airway at the end of the tenon – note how dirty the airway is. As I mentioned above I had no idea of who made the FEC brand or even what country it came from. In many ways it looked like an older American pipe of the same ilk as CPF or WDC. The gold filigree on the cap and shank made me think of both of those but hunting for an American brand with those initials turned up absolutely nothing. I looked in the index of my copy of “Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks” by Jose Manuel Lopés’ and found a listing. It was short and to the point but now I had my information.

FEC is the old English brand of Friedrick Edwards & Co., established in London around 1884, and which mainly produced meerschaum and calabash pipes. The company was bought in 1904 by S. Weingott & Sons, but continued separately until 1916.

Armed with the company name behind FEC I went back to the web and did some more searching. I found the same information as quote above on Pipedia. I also found a Briar Pipe Makers in London Directory on Pipedia. There was a listing for FEC. https://pipedia.org/wiki/Briar_Pipe_Makers_in_London_Directories. It read as follows:

Edwards, Friedrich & Co. – 25 Gingshouse St., W [at this point in time, John Solomon Weingott was a full partner of F. Edwards & Co. who were primarily meerschaum pipe makers]

Now I had some idea of the age and provenance of the pipe in my hands. It was made in the FEC factory at 25 Gingshouse St., W in London, England. Since Friedrich Edwards & Co. made primarily meerschaum and calabash pipes before joining with S. Weingott & Sons in 1904 I was pretty confident that this pipe came out after that merger. I knew that the brand continued separately until it was subsumed by S. Weingott & Sons in 1916. That gave me the dating parameters for the pipe. It was made between 1904-1916 which certainly fit the style of the pipe and its ornamentation.

When the pipe arrived in Vancouver, I could see that Jeff had done a lot of cleaning and scrubbing on before he sent it to me. The scrubbing of the gold filigree would have been a labour of love in that it was so intricate and detailed that the grit and grime would have fought hard to remain in all of the crevices. He had reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He cleaned up the rim and the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime and debris on the briar itself. He exercised care around the gold stamping on the left side of the shank. He had cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. The stem damage was clearly visible and the nicks and marks stood out in clarity. There were some deep tooth marks on both sides of the stem at the button and the slot in the button still had some tars and dark spots in the corner of the slot. When I brought the pipe to my work table I took some photos of it as I opened the case. It really was a beautiful old pipe. I took it out of the case and put it together to get a feel for its size and appearance. While it was petite it still have a full sized bowl. The briar had some great grain patterns around the bowl and shank. Jeff had done a great job cleaning up the gold filigree on the rim cap and shank cap. It looked amazing and had a rich shine to those spots on the pipe. The dents on the top of the rim can be seen in the photo below as can the clean bowl. I took a picture of the FEC Shield on the left side of the shank to show the condition of the stamping.When it arrived I could see that he had really worked over the stem and the airway from the top and bottom looked clean. The tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside are shown in the photos below.I decided to start working on the stem as it was the part of this pipe that needed the most work. I sanded down the tooth chatter with 220 grit sandpaper and was able to remove all of the chatter and some of the lighter tooth marks. I sanded the scratches and nicks on the rest of the stem and the tenon end and was able to smooth most of them out.I wiped off the stem with a cotton pad to remove the sanding dust and filled in the deep tooth marks on both sides near the button with amber super glue.When the glue repairs had cured I sanded them flat with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the rest of the surface of the stem. I was really happy with the blend achieved by the amber super glue and the Bakelite stem.I cleaned out the remaining dark spots in the slot in the button and the tenon area of the stem with pipe cleaners and warm water. I was able to remove all of the left over darkening and the stem looked better.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad and then proceeded through the pads. After the 12000 grit pad I gave it a final coat and let it dry. I spoke with Jeff this morning and he told me that the top cap was not glued or pinned to the top of the bowl and could easily be removed. I wiggled it free without doing and damage to the edges. I used a small flat blade screw driver that fit perfectly in the last ring before the opening. It worked to smooth out much of the dents and damage to the top of the rim. While I was not able to remove all of it I was able to minimize it in this manner. I decided to pressure fit the rim cap back on the top of the bowl rather than glue it or pin it. I figured that way if I wanted to try smoothing out the rim cap some more I could do so in the future. I polished the top of the rim cap with micromesh sanding pads to further minimise the scratching on the top. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down afterwards with a soft cotton pad to raise the shine. I touched up the FEC Shield stamp on the left side of the shank with Rub’n Buff European Gold. I applied it with the tip of a pipe cleaner and worked it into the grooves of the stamp. I removed the excess with a damp cotton swab and polished the finished shank with a soft cotton pad. I was able to fill some of the grooves toward the top right of the shield and a bit of the letters. The stamping on the bottom right side of the shield was too shallow to hold the gold.I buffed the pipe bowl and stem independently with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish them both. I worked over the briar around the bowl with the Blue Diamond and lightly buffed the gold rim and shank cap. I carefully gave the briar several coats of carnauba wax and then Conservator’s Wax in the hard to reach spots. I buffed the briar and caps with a clean buffing pad to a raise a shine. I gently buffed the stem with Blue Diamond so as not to melt it or cause damage. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed bowl and stem with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. I put the stem in the shank and hand buffed it once more. I am quite happy with the finished pipe. It is a beautiful piece of briar and the stem picked up a nice shine that brought it back to life. The dents in the rim cap while still present look much better. The finished pipe is shown in the photos that follow. Thanks for looking and enduring my obsession with these pipes from another time.

Rescuing a Cracked & Beaten 1960 Dunhill Shell Briar 142 Dublin


Charles has done another old dog rescue. His ingenious pinning of a cracked shank, reshaping and reworking a damaged rim and putting a dot on the stem is a great tutorial. Everything is well done but there can be no mistake that the stem is a replacement.

DadsPipes

When it comes to the regular care and feeding of one’s pipes, it seems that pipe smokers can be divided into one of two camps – those who treat their pipes well and those that do not. In the first camp you will find people who clean their briar, meer or cob before it blocks up with tar, those who trim the carbon in their bowls to a respectable thickness when it gets unruly, and those who take care to avoid inflicting damage to their favourite piping companions. In the second camp are those who do none of these things and who, to my mind, seem to almost go out of their way to treat their pipes with disdain.

As a pipe restorer I see the handiwork of the latter group regularly, and often wonder what was going through the piper’s mind. This 1960 Dunhill Shell Briar 142 Dublin is…

View original post 2,000 more words

Cleaning up another CPF – this time it is a square shank Bulldog Setter


Blog by Steve Laug

If you have been reading rebornpipes for long, you will have figured out that I really like older C.P.F. pipes (Colossal Pipe Factory). I have quite a few of them in my collection and really like them. The history is an intriguing and enjoyable part of the brand for me. The artisanship and design of these pipes captures my appreciation and admiration. The shapes are always unique; even in the same line the shapes vary from pipe to pipe. The creativity and inventiveness of the smoking delivery systems of their pipes are always a pleasure to study. The variations of Bakelite bases and stems with briar bowls, briar bowls with Bakelite stems, briar bowls with horn and with vulcanite stems. The names the company gave their pipes always has me wondering where they came from. Sometimes they seem to be humorous like the Siamese conjoined stem pipe I just finished and sometimes descriptive like this one – the square shank, horn stem Setter. The pipe came from Jeff in a box he shipped to me just before he left for his European adventure. The box arrived last evening. I was like a kid on Christmas morning. No matter how many boxes he sends my reaction is always the same. There were two C.P.F. pipes that immediately caught my attention. Jeff had shown me these two on FaceTime before he left so I was awaiting their arrival. When he was cleaning them both he somehow switched the stems in a hurry and in the process broke the tenon off the wrong stem in the shank of this pipe. Both pipes had a bone tenon so it is easy to understand what happened. He had put both pipes in individual bags in the box. When I saw this one, I decided it was the next one I wanted to work on.The pipe is a bulldog with a square shank and square tapered horn stem. It has twin rings around the top of the bowl. The shank had a gold coloured ferrule on it with the end turned over to cover the exposed end of the shank. On the left side of the ferrule, it was stamped with the C.P.F. oval logo. There was no other stamping on the metal ferrule. The bowl had a thick cake that lightly overflowed like lava over the top of the rim. The inner edge of the rim shows a lot of damage from what looks like reaming with a knife. The outer edge showed some nicks on the right side and a few on the left front. Jeff took some photos from different angles showing the condition of the bowl. It was a beauty. The grain was quite nice and the twin rings around the rim were in excellent condition with no chips. On the top of the shank there was faint gold lettering reading Setter in a Germanic script that I have come to expect on C.P.F. pipes from this era of the late 1890s to early 1900s. The finish was worn and dirty as expected on a pipe of this age. The two photos that follow that are different views of the shank and the ferrule. The ferrule appeared to have slipped off during its life and there was a dark space just in front of it showing its original position on the shank. The diameter of the stem was larger than the diameter of the shank so it looked a little awkward making me wonder if it was not a replacement horn stem. If not it was poorly fitted and would need to be properly fitted to the shank. There were issues with the stem that might lessen with reshaping but they were present and can be seen in the photos below. These included deep nicks on the edges of the square stem – a chip at the right corner near the shank, a nick on the right side about a ½ inch from the shank end, and another on the left side that looked like a wormhole.The threads in the shank were evidently worn and someone had wrapped the bone tenon in scotch tape to facilitate a tight fit. I have seen this done often so it is not a surprise but it also makes me wonder if the stem is not a replacement. I won’t know until I check out the threads in the mortise when it arrives.The button showed some wear and tear and there was light tooth chatter on both sides of the stem. Fortunately it appeared that there were no deep tooth marks present.Jeff did a lot of cleaning and scrubbing on the pipe before he sent it to me. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He cleaned up the rim and the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and removed the grime and debris of the years. He had cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. The bone tenon on the stem was in good condition. The stem damage was clearly visible and the nicks and marks stood out in clarity. I drilled out the broken tenon in the shank of the pipe so that I could put it back together and check out the fit of the stem to the shank. Over the years I have developed my own method of drilling out a broken, threaded tenon. It may be different from the one that you use but it works for me. I followed that procedure on this pipe. I set up a cordless drill on my worktable and put a drill bit a little larger than the airway in the broken tenon. I slowly twisted the stummel onto the drill bit. I wanted it to grab onto the tenon and allow me to either twist it free or break it enough that I can remove it without damaging the threads in the mortis. I repeated this several times until the broken tenon came out on the bit. I blew the dust out of the shank. The pipe was now ready for me to work on.I checked out the threads in the mortise and they were slightly worn but not too severely damaged. They would easily be renewed for a better fit. I screwed the stem on the shank and took the following photos of the pipe before I started my work. These photos are kind of a benchmark for me to compare the finished pipe with the original shown in the photos. Note the fact that the stem is larger in diameter than the shank as noted above. It is the right shape but it sits above and below the top of the ferrule on the shank. The fit on the sides of the shank is perfect. That kind of fit makes me think that perhaps this was a replacement stem. The shape was correct but the fit was off. I have worked on enough C.P.F. pipes to know that they do not send them out of the factory with this kind of sloppy fit. Jeff had managed to clean up the rim quite well. The bowl was clean and the inner edge damage was clear.The next photos show the nicks and worm hole in the stem. These would need to be repaired. The side view photos show the fit of the stem against the shank. You can see from the photo that the top of the stem is significantly higher than the top of the ferrule and shank. I decided to address the nicks and worm hole first. I was not sure how much of the repair would be left once I reshaped the stem but I figured I might as well start with smoothing those out before I started shaping. I sanded the stem to smooth out the tooth chatter and the edges of the damaged areas first. I wanted to see if I had any filling to do around the button before I repaired the damaged areas. Fortunately there were no deep marks at the button. I filled the nicks and hole in with amber super glue. The photos below show the stem repairs from different angles. Note that the damage was on the top and side mid stem on the left and toward the front on the right. Once the glue dried I used a needle file to smooth out the repairs and blend them into the surface of the stem. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to further blend them in. I used the Dremel and sanding drum to reduce the height of the stem on the top and bottom at the shank as well as adjust the width on both sides. Once I had it close I sanded it more with the 220 grit sandpaper. I painted the thread on the bone tenon with clear fingernail polish and let it dry. Once it was dry I screwed it into the shank and it was a snug fit. You can see in the photos below that the fit to the shank in terms of height and width is getting much closer. I sanded the stem until I was happy with the transition between the stem sides and the ferrule. I wanted it to be smooth. It took a lot of sanding to get it to the place where I was happy with the flow. I was happy to see that the sanding removed much of the repaired areas from the stem. The right side repairs are virtually invisible and on the left side it was quite small. Once it was there I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished the stem with Fine and Extra Fine Before & After Pipe Polish to further remove the scratches. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I set the stem aside and turned my attention to the damaged rim and edges of the bowl. I lightly topped the bowl to remove the damage on the surface and the outer edges of the rim. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to reshape the inner edge of the rim and bring it back close to round. I wiped down the surface of the bowl with alcohol on cotton pads and then put a drop of clear super glue in the damaged spot on the right side edge of the rim and bowl. When the glue dried I sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and polished it with 1500-4000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I used a dark brown stain pen to blend the repaired area on the side of the rim cap and the top of the rim into the existing colour of the pipe. It did not take much work to get a good match. I tried to add Rub’n Buff European Gold to the stamping on the shank top but the stamping was not deep enough to hold the repairs. I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the briar and the stem. I gave the entire pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. I am quite happy with the finished pipe. It looks far better than it did when I started the restoration. The fit of the stem to the shank and the overall look of the bowl is better. The small burn mark on the right side of the rim top is a beauty mark of the past life of the pipe. The rim and bowl look very good. The finished pipe is shown in the photos that follow. Thanks for looking and enduring my obsession with these older C.P.F. pipes.

Bringing New Life to a C.P.F. Siamese Parallel Twin Stem Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

Like other older C.P.F. pipes I have in my collection this one has some real charm. It is another pipe on the petite side of things – 4 ½ inches long and 1 ½ inches tall. It is not a bad piece of briar, a mix of grains. The finish was worn with some gouges in the right side and the bottom of the shank and bowl, but the pipe looked like it still had some life in it. This older C.P.F. may well show a bit of the tongue and cheek humour of the era in the name that is stamped on the shank – Siamese = conjoined stems. The top of the shank bears the name Siamese in worn gold leaf over the logo of C.P.F. in an oval. The silver plated ferrule on the shank bears a series of faux hallmarks and the C.P.F. in an oval logo on the top side. The top of the stem is stamped the C.P.F. in an oval logo. The stem is unusual in that it has two silver plated spigot tenons that fit into openings in the silver collar. The conjoined, twin stems match the dual airways in the shank and in the bowl. Looking down the end of the shank I could see both airways all the way to the bottom of the bowl. When I looked in the bowl there were twin holes at the back just above the bottom of the bowl. The stem shares some of the same damage as other pipes that came from the 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/). The left side of the twin stem has a large piece of the vulcanite missing that has been replaced by hard putty that is painted black. Jeff took photos of the pipe from a variety of angles to show its uniqueness and condition.The next photo Jeff took shows the overall condition of the pipe from a top view. It gives a clear picture of the conjoined twin stems from which I assume the pipe derives its name.The bowl was thickly caked and there was also a thick lava coat on the top of the bowl rim. It was impossible to see if the inner edge of the rim was damaged because of the cake. More would be revealed once the cake and lava were removed. To me these were signs of a much loved and often smoked pipe. Judging from the other pipes in this collection I would love to have met the pipe man who owned them and worked the repairs on the stems to keep his pipes smokable.The next series of photos show the condition of the sides and the heel of the bowl. There were a few deep nicks and gouges that would need to be repaired. The nicks on the right side of the pipe appeared to have been repaired prior with a coat of glue as can be seen in the first and second photos below. (Note the twin silver end caps entering the ferrule in the photos below.) The next three photos show the identifying stamping on the shank top, silver band and stem. The first shows the top of the shank and the stamping is very readable. The second shows the stamp on the silver band – faux hallmarks that I have come to expect on C.P.F. pipes along with the C.P.F. oval logo. The third photo shows the same logo on the twin stem. The rest of the photos that Jeff took of the pipe before he cleaned it show the condition of the stem. Note the repair on the top left side in front of the button (I have circled the area in red for ease of reference). The third and fourth photos below show the repair quite clearly. The filled in area seems to be hard putty that is then painted black. After the black paint a coat of varnish seems to have been applied to protect the repair. The underside of the stem looks quite good. The twin bore openings in the stem are shown in the last photo. Jeff did a lot of cleaning and scrubbing on the pipe and in the process, we learned that like the earlier C.P.F. Cromwell we had worked on, the repair was a hard putty fill. The top side of the stem had been coated with what appeared to be black paint to hide the repair. On top of the paint a varnish coat had been applied to protect the repair. The oxidation seemed to be on the areas that had not been covered with the varnish coat. That led to some really strange patterns in the oxidation. Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He cleaned up the rim and the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and removed the grime and debris of the years as well as the glue repair on the right side of the bowl. The silver ferrule on the shank and the metal military style tenon ends looked better. He had cleaned out the twin mortises and the airways in the shank, into the bowl and in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I took the following photos of the pipe before I started my work. These photos are kind of a

 

 

benchmark for me to compare the finished pipe with the original. The bowl and the rim top were very clean. There was a little damage on the inner edge of the rim toward the back right side and some roughness around the front left edge. The bowl itself was internally in excellent condition.The stem was quite oxidized and the putty repair is very visible now. I checked it with a dental pick and it is very hard. There is no give or softness to the putty. I will probably leave it and work at turning it black to match the stem and smoothing it out. I was glad to see that my initial assessment of the patch being only on the top side of the stem was correct. They underside was solid.The nicks and sand pits in the underside and right side of the bowl were very clear and would need to be addressed. They are obvious in the photos below. There were also some small sand pits on the left side of the bowl as well. I put the stem in the Before & After Pipe Stem Dexodizer bath and left it to soak while I worked on the bowl. I am pretty pleased with the deoxidizer and even after about 35-40 stems it is still working its magic.The band was loose on the shank so I slipped it off before I started to work on the repairs to the sand pits and nicks in the briar.Since the nicks and sand pits were not too deep I decided to use clear super glue and not mix it with briar dust on these repairs. I filled them each with a bubble of super glue and set the bowl aside so the glue could harden. It does not take too long as those of you who use the technique have learned so I did not need to wait long. I decided to leave the small pits on the left side of the bowl as they were and did not repair them. When the glue dried I sanded the repaired areas with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the briar. I have yet to figure out how to avoid the way the glue makes dark spots when it cures. To me it is the price for having a smooth surface. I keep experimenting but have not found the solution. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth and dried it off. I applied some all-purpose glue to the surface of the shank where the band would sit. I pressed the band in place and wiped off the excess glue with a damp cotton pad. Before staining the repaired areas I turned to address the damaged areas on the inner edge of the rim. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the edge. I chose not to bevel it as it was not beveled originally. Once it was smooth I used a dark brown stain pen to colour in the repaired areas on the bowl sides, bottom and rim top. I don’t worry too much about streaks at this point because they will buff smooth when I am finished. I lightly buffed the stained areas of the bowl and gave the entire bowl a coat of Danish Oil Cherry stain to blend the colours to match what was originally there. I really liked the finished look of the contrasting stain. The grain stood out really well and the repairs blended in as well as could be expected. They were smooth to the touch and felt good in the hand. I then used a Rub’n Buff European Gold to touch up the gold stamping on the top of the shank. I applied the product with a cotton swab and rubbed off the excess with a pad.I called it a night and turned off the lights in the shop and went to bed. In the morning I took the stem out of the Before & After bath and dried it off. It had done its magic on the oxidation on the stem and the putty repair was clear and hard. I cleaned out the airway with alcohol and pipe cleaners to remove the deoxidizer from the stem internals.I sanded the surface of the stem particularly around the patch in preparation for repairing it further with black super glue. I wiped off the dust and used a black Sharpie pen to stain the putty black. It was porous so I was hoping that the putty would stay black. I applied a coat of black super glue on top of the stained putty, smoothing it out with the dental spatula. I set it aside to dry and headed out to work. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and rubbing the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. In doing so I learned that the black stain I had put on the putty repair did not work. I had a decision to make at this point. Did I keep the repair as it was or did I remove it and refill it in my own way – that was the question.  I buffed it with Tripoli after that because of the stubborn oxidation in the groove between the twinned stems. In doing so the black was totally removed from the repaired area on the stem. As I looked at it I made my decision. The repair would stand as a memorial to the nameless repair person who had concocted this repair on the stem. It had lasted at least 100 years and it was solid. I decided to leave it alone. I would try to darken it a bit but I was not hopeful. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads to polish it even more. After each pad I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. After the 12000 grit pad and rubdown I set it aside to dry. I certainly wish that the black stain would have sunk deep into the putty repair on the stem but it did not. I may one day pick it out and replace it but I figured that it is still workable the way it is. I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the stem and the bowl multiple coats of carnauba wax to give it a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is really a nice looking pipe. The mixed grain on the bowl and the silver ferrule and tenon caps on the twin military mount stem look good with the black (well almost all black) of the stem. I think this is one that will enjoy. Thanks for looking.

 

The Brief, Shining History behind an Italian Dublin and Its Easier Than Usual Refurbish


Robert M. Boughton

Copyright © Reborn Pipes and the Author except as cited

 

 

— “The Treachery of Images” (1929, also known by the translation of the message on it, from the French, “This Is Not a Pipe”), an oil on canvas painting by the great Belgian Impressionist, René Magritte (1898-1967)

 

 

INTRODUCTION

Sometimes I wonder if the D in P.A.D. shouldn’t be replaced with S for Serendipity, in the sense of being in the right place at the right time, or with still more sneaky spin, Fate with a capital F.  Then my sense returns, and I realize the musing rationale is only a symptom of the Disorder.  My most recent bout with this overwhelming inner turmoil was lost within minutes after I chanced (yeah, right) to read an informative and enthusiastic, yet brief, account of a little known but masterful creator of hand-carved Italian pipes in the 1980s and into the early ‘90s.  Thinking of an assertion in the post that claimed the brand in question is difficult to find as a sort of challenge, I clicked on eBay and searched for the name.  Indeed, only two samples popped up, as well as a nice, dark brown pipe sleeve.  Not really able to afford either pipe, or the $11 sleeve for that matter, I was nevertheless torn between both and knew I had to have one.  The source of the information that set my P.A.D. careering is an acquaintance on the Smokers Forums UK, on the Pipes page.  The gentleman’s SF handle is fishnbanjo, which I suppose indicates two things he enjoys very much other than pipes.  He and most everyone who knows him at all shortens the moniker to the simpler Banjo, which is also, after all, a kinder, gentler re-nicknaming than Fish, or even Fishn.

‘The title of the post caught my eye before I noticed it was started by Banjo: “The stepchild of Italian pipes.”  I always enjoy Banjo’s contributions because of the rugged good looks of the pipes he has a knack for acquiring and his keen knowledge of the subjects he covers, and when it comes to pipes the brands of which, most of the time, I find I have never heard but without fail would like to own.  Often spoken in pipe smoking circles is the comment, “That pipe looks good on you,” which is one of those statements that of course in intended to be courteous and friendly but, when considered in literal terms, is preposterous.  Somehow, though, with Banjo the expression is more à propos than anyone I’ve ever seen, even if only in excellent selfies.

His own looks being a cross between Spencer Tracy, who played the down-on-his-luck old Cuban fisherman in the 1958 classic movie version of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, and Anthony Quinn, who reprised the role of Santiago in a 1990 TV remake, are complemented to perfection by his good, strong, masculine, bold taste in pipes.  Here he is in an example of one of those apparent self-photos, from the Capitello post I had the good fortune to find.  The self-portrait really is quite good since I decided to contact Banjo and ask for his permission to use it in full rather than lop off the top half of his head for the silly sake of protecting his privacy without even knowing if he minded. When Caminetto Pipes (1968-1979, the official Caminetto Period) stopped production, all by hand, the assorted partners went their own ways. Giuseppe Ascorti produced Sergio pipes for a short time before forming the company bearing his own last name with his son Roberto; Luigi Radice opened Radice Pipes, and Enzo Galluzo, who was the official carver for Caminetto and had worked at Castello and later Ascorti’s shop, founded the Capitello Pipe Company with his partner on the business end, Corrado Ripamonti, c. 1982.  Capitello closed in 1991, according to Banjo “because [Galluzo’s] distributor never paid him for the pipes he sold and without money to pay the bills a great, not well-known company ended its run.”  In 1986, by the way, two years after the death of his father, Roberto Ascorti started the New Caminetto Period.

Banjo wrote, with nostalgic eloquence, of Capitello being the first Italian pipe manufacturer in the 1980s to use oil curing.  The process was patented by the Alfred Dunhill Company Ltd. on November 14, 1918, just 28 days before the signing of the Armistice – at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – that officially ended World War I (“the War to End All Wars”).  Dunhill’s Patent №. GB119,708 involved immersing natural-finish stummels in olive oil for several weeks before drying with hot air and sandblasting away large rough parts of the early irregular results.  Whether old Alfred in fact invented the procedure is debated, but I’m not going there today, so relax.  At first the use of oil was for aesthetic reasons only, as it gave the outer area of the stummel greater luster.  Pipe collectors and scholars giving every indication of being quarrelsome when it comes to just about everything, the rough effect that seems to have led to the creation of the Shell pipes (and is also the reason for the reddish tinge to the briar in that line) is yet another subject of discord in certain rarefied circles, with an emphasis on circles being never-ending. At any rate, the unavoidable consequences of Dunhill’s approach were unusual shapes that could not be classified according to the official charts until oil curing was “perfected” some years later.

Returning to Banjo’s humble eloquence, he wrote of buying the pipe more than 30 years ago from “someone with much more experience than I who told me it would color much like a Meerschaum does.”  As would most experienced pipesters familiar with the differences of wood and meerschaum, Banjo had his doubts, but he liked the huge, pebbled specimen, so why worry about it?  I can’t help thinking and interjecting the notion that such a refreshing thought process could benefit certain more vocal experts.  To Banjo’s lasting surprise, his old pipe indeed continues to color, just like a well-aged meerschaum.  Banjo noted that today it is difficult to imagine the gorgeous piece of work in the virgin finish he first viewed it.  I suspect it looked something like this other Capitello, minus the smooth finish.

Capitello Airlecchio 773, courtesy Haddock’s Pipes

Capitello’s peculiar, more common designs and crafting include the following.

Corinzio Two Columns Sandblasted Belge, courtesy amaxwell1_eBay

Wax Drip Gotico, courtesy Pipephil

My remaining opening comments are few enough to wrap up in short order, which I will now do.  As far as the farfetched-sounding idea of smoking a wax-dipped pipe goes, see the last link in my Sources below before passing judgment.  Concerning the somewhat confusing list of Italian names – both for some of the companies mentioned and more to the point Capitello and its various lines – my curiosity got the better of me.  As a result, I discovered they have real meanings, and here they are.

  1. Capitello – capital. I sense a dual meaning here, as in the seat of power of a government, etc., as well as the monetary distinction
  2. Caminetto – literally, fireplace, but also used to describe a very hot, small space where objects are forged by craftsmen
  3. Radice – a surname that also means root
  4. Castello – castle
  5. Corinzio – Corinthian. No, not the Corinthian leather used in a certain car promoted by Ricardo Montalbán, but Corinthian architecture, the last and most ornate of the three main orders of ancient Greece and Rome that was characterized by columns. Hence, the Corinzio Two Columns Belge shown above.  I did not find Belge anywhere.
  6. Gotico – Gothic
  7. Jonico – Ionian, or pertaining to the second primary architectural order of ancient Greece and Rome

RESTORATION

The nomenclature is crisp, although I had to edit the color and brightness levels of the photos above to make the stampings clear: on the left shank, lowercase “Capitello,” in quotations with the closing mark in subscript, above JONICO, and below that, to the right, a small square with what appears to be an Ionic column matching the brand’s logo as shown in this photo of a genuine Capitello stem, courtesy of Pipephil.

The symmetry of the classic Dublin shape combined with corresponding tight, vertical grain on the bowl except for the rear, which is more mottled, and the way all of it points to the flawless large bird’s-eye of the rim, transfixed every brain cell I possess related to reason.  My power to resist, at $26.99 with about two days of bidding left and only three other buyers interested, turned to mush like a clay or meerschaum pipe after being retorted with Everclear.   I’m happy to say I never made that mistake but have heard pained accounts from more than one friend who has, none of them more than once.  Thus, I bid $100 on the pipe, thinking that if the bidding inched up $1 at a time I would be safe.  Foolhardy but true!  Not another bid was made.

Scrutinizing each of the plentiful photos taken well and from every angle, except for the color that was a little darker, the only flaw I detected was the worse than average looking but single rim burn.  The description noted the inclusion of a replacement stem which, in my excitement, I must admit I did not notice was left only halfway turned into the shank in the photos.  I should have expected something was up with that. 

The pipe arrived from Daytona Beach, Florida only two days after shipping despite Irma’s devastation that left 80%+ of the power in that area off the grid.  I inspected the pipe, and almost all of it looked very good.  I love the olive wood ferrule.  I tried to tighten the stem.  No-go.  Less than halfway, the Ebonite screeched.  Halfway, I stopped with the certainty the tenon would break if I were to continue.

Now, adjusting the tenon circumference took only a few minutes before it fit as though hand-crafted for the Jonico.  I should add that the stem was straight and needed a gentle curve, as well as removal of slight, almost imperceptible rough edges along the sides, left-over signs of the machines that stamped them in groups.

But the end of the shank was rounded, which I had seen with a few new and restored estate pipes I bought over the years.  I just hadn’t ever given much attention to the stem fittings on these pipes.  My first impulse, therefore, was to order a stem that was the correct diameter for the shank, specifically an army mount, but then I thought, “Why wait?”  Scanning through my photos of various such pipes, I noticed that the one common trait of the stems used is that they look good on the given pipes.  That being true enough for now with mine, and its destination being my shelf, I proceeded to the required stem work until the army mount stem arrives.

I started with feather-light, focused sanding using 400-grit paper followed by micro-meshing from 1500-12000.  This stem was so shiny when I unwrapped it with the pipe that the first sight of it made me fear it might be plastic and hope it would turn out to be acrylic.  The distinct odor of burned rubber and Sulphur that rose to my nose upon sanding cleared that up.   Having already pre-heated the oven to 220° F., I slipped a regular cleaner through the stem’s airhole and placed the whole thing on a small sheet of aluminum foil.After 15 minutes in the cooker, the stem was pliant.  I used the complex tool in the following shot to accomplish most of the task that called for the slightest curve of almost nothing but the mouthpiece.  I returned the stem, already somewhat cooled, to the oven for a few more minutes and made the final, tiny bend by hand, with a cooking mitten and rag of course.  Then I ran cold water from the tap over it and removed the cleaner. As I mentioned earlier, the burn on the rim in the eBay photos worried me, and my un-ease grew when I had my first Close Encounter of the Third Kind.  The concern wasn’t whether I could fix it but how far I would need to go to do so.  The reason was the depth of the affected areas, from the rim scorch that was isolated to one spot but crept into the chamber and ate away at the top of the inner wall most of the way around the top right side.  By no means was this even close to bad as I have come to understand the word in terms of pipe rim repair, but I did not want to alter the uniform, hearty thickness of the wall any more than could be avoided.  With this pipe, re-sizing the rim with a file was like to sacrilege, yet the idea did cross my mind in a sinful flash before I rejected it at the thought of eliminating any significant fraction of a millimeter of the wonderful bird’s-eye.  Have a closer gander at the unfortunate but far less egregious degradation to the inner right rim this beautiful Dublin withstood.I began the only aspect of the refurbish that could be called any kind of challenge with the gentlest approach, purified water and a soft cotton cloth over the entire stummel.  While a fair amount of soot, skin oil and whatnot came off, no amount of scrubbing made a dent, as it were, on the blemish.  Fine grades of sand paper had no effect, either, and so, I worked my way down the numbers and up the grits to my two-in-one sanding sponge, half 180 and the other 150.  Focusing on the deep rim burn spot, I went at it with the 150.  My hand a blur and breaking out in a sweat all over, the removal of the single little spot took closer to 10 than five minutes.  But I’ll be a turkey’s behind if the dang thang didn’t disappear on me!  I reversed the harsh effects of the 150-grit sponge, minimal as they were because they only rid the fine Mediterranean briar of something that had no place pocking it, with 220- and 400-grit paper before the full scale of micro-mesh pads.  While I was in the groove with the micro-mesh, I did the whole stummel.  I remember coming across one scratch big enough to warrant 320-grit sandpaper, but to save my life I can’t remember where it was, and now it’s gone.  Oh, well.  C’est la vie!

Happy with the absence of the nasty, pernicious burn mark, I found an old, small favorite piece of 150-grit paper that’s perfect for pipe chambers and, focusing again, only on the upper circle inside the chamber, succeeded in eliminating the unwanted beginning of a groove caused by what I can only imagine was a drunken fit of excessive lighting (as in the previous owner passing out while flicking his Zippo and only coming to when he burned his thumb).  I followed the 150-grit strip with the 220- and 400-grits again, and after much careful tapping and blowing of soot and wiping the chamber clean with a piece of paper towel and alcohol, I saw that the damage was repaired, and the chamber was down to bright, clean briar as far as I had gone.  Repeating the process in steady advances down the chamber, 30 or so minutes more passed before the entire inside of the chamber was down to the wood. The end of this special restoration nigh, the time had come to re-stain the rim that had lost more than a little of its fine darker color.  I rejected the notion of making the Capitello Jonico Dublin a two-tone, which is one of my favorite habits with many pipes, and chose instead to apply a couple of Qwik-Koats of Lincoln Brown Boot Dye, alcohol-based.  You know I had my Bic handy to flick, but at least I was sober, safe and sane.Taking off the charred stain and returning the rim color to the original shiny dark brown was simple with 1800 followed by 4000-12000 micro-mesh.

As a general rule, I don’t leave the cleaning and retorting of a pipe’s insides until just before the last step, but this time I became so wrapped up in the stem bending, burn removing and, for the first time, eliminating all but the ghost of the original owner’s tobacco char that I just forgot until the mental checklist time arrived.  Whomever the previous owner was loved this pipe despite the one misadventurous rim burn incident.  I can tell, because I only needed six regular cleaners half-soaked in alcohol with the dry ends to follow up each run through the shank before the last came out clean both sides.  Also, the retort was fast and easy with only three Pyrex test tubes of alcohol boiled through the pipe.

Strolling from the living room to the “workshop” (my bedroom still, for now, but next month or November at the latest I’ll start paying an old-time rent control-level extra charge for the spare third bedroom in the house and begin assembling the proper tools for this work), I plugged in the electric buffer.  Before that, I asked the cats to leave, which they did because for some reason they don’t like the noise of the machine.  I closed the door and freshened the brown Tripoli wheel I’ve been using to give more luster to the wood, made sure there were no papers or other light objects that might blow away nearby, and turned on the juice.  The whir of a wood buffing wheel is one of the happiest sounds I know.  Lightly turning the wooden stummel with confident firmness over the spinning cloth buffer is likewise one of the finest feelings, because of the completion it brings to another project.

The brown Tripoli buffing finished, I wrapped a clean cotton cloth around the wood and, with both hands, worked the excess compound and a couple of streaks, part of it deeper into the stummel and the rest onto the cloth.  I’ve been doing this lately instead of the alternative clean buffing wheel method, and it works just as well.  Then I repeated the process with a coat of Carnauba wax, and after rubbing it with another cotton cloth gave it one more roll on the Carnauba wheel before the final rub-down.  I buffed the stem with a single coat of Carnauba and rubbed it smooth of excess wax.  For now, it is aligned with the shank as close to an army mount as I could approximate with a regular narrow tapered stem.

CONCLUSION

René Magritte had a brilliant, often hilarious imagination fueled by his wild, wicked (as my generation used it to mean “awesome” or “totally [rad]”) sense of humor, even if he apparently didn’t smoke a pipe – or anything else.  Take a close look at this photo of him as a young man, cribbed from Pinterest, and you’ll see the cigarette in his mouth appears to be backward, if it’s a cigarette at all and not a pencil.  If I had to guess, and I do, I would say he appreciated the beauty of everything in life as he saw it.  Pipes being a big part of culture during Magritte’s too-short time in this world before he moved on to the Totally Surreal Higher Place, my take on the painting I used as an atypical opening quote is that it is at the very least double-edged: the artist’s rendering of a pipe in a piece of art does not make it a pipe, and the conspicuously bland billiard he chose to create with paint and paper, without doubt using the greatest consideration of the multitude of options available to his ingenious mind, is something one might find on a basic pipe chart if they were as well illustrated as this work.  That is why I chose the subtle example of the surreal to open this blog.  Look at any pipe made by Capitello, and if you speak French, you would exclaim, “C’est une pipe [That’s a pipe]!”

SOURCES

http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-c2.html
https://dutchpipesmoker.wordpress.com/tag/oil-curing/
https://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/result.jsf
http://loringpage.com/pipearticles/First%20Shell.htm
https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill
http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/infos/wax-drip-pipes.html