Restoring a Pioneer Block Meerschaum Acorn

Blog by Steve Laug

My friend Steve in Dawson Creek, B.C. sent me a batch of pipes to work on, sort of chip away at when I had some time. Today I had a bit of free time as it is finally raining in Vancouver after 80+ days of no rain. It is cool and comfortable, just the kind of weather that I enjoy. It is also a perfect day for working on Steve’s pipes. The first one I chose to tackle was a Pioneer Rusticated Meerschaum with an acrylic shank extension and stem. There are two smooth panels – one on each side of the bowl. It has a faux plateau on the rim and I think was designed as a bit of freehand. Probably from the 60s or 70s in terms of style but I may be wrong about that. The rustication is very dirty and the rim has heavy overflow of tars and cake that came out the thickly caked bowl. There is a stamped cursive P on the left side of the shank extension and Block Meerschaum stamped on the right side of the shank extension. Both are faded. The stem is also very dirty, oxidized and has tooth chatter. I took some photos of the pipe before I started to work on it to record what it looked like before I started. I wanted to refresh my memory about Pioneer Block Meerschaum pipes so I did a quick Google search and found a catalogue for Pioneer on Chris’ Pipe Pages. Have a look. I have included the back and front cover of the catalogue. The inside can be read on the link below. I took a close up photo of the bowl and rim top to show the condition of the rim and the bowl. The cake and the lava were very thick. The finish was dirty. I took photos of the shank extension to try to capture the stamping in the acrylic. The next two photos show the oxidation and tooth chatter on both sides of the stem. It was almost green and there were some oxidation mid stem that looked like oxidized copper. It was almost blue green in colour.I am working on five of Steve’s pipes right now so I put the stems in the Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and left them to soak while I worked on the bowl.I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer starting with the smallest cutting head and working my way up to the third cutting head. I followed that by cleaning back the remaining cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I cut the cake back to the meerschaum walls of the bowl. I used a brass bristle wire brush to dry brush the surface of the rim. It cleans off the buildup of lava and gives me a clean surface to scrub with the rest of the bowl. I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap. I scrubbed until all of the grime was loose and rinsed it under running water. I continue to scrub it in the running water until I was happy with the way it looked. I dried off the bowl and took some pictures of what it looked like at this point in the process. I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. It took a bit of work as the airway in the shank was really narrow from all of the built up tars and oils. I was able to remove all of the debris.I polished the acrylic shank extension with Obsidian Oil and dried it off. Once it had dried completely I used the Rub’n Buff European Gold to touch up the stamping on the extension.I rubbed several coats of Clapham’s Beeswax into the rusticated finish. I buffed it with a shoe brush between each coat. After the last coat of the wax I buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth. I took the stem out of the Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer bath and wiped it off with a clean towel. The first two photos below show the stem after the 24 hour soak. The majority of the oxidation is gone off the stem. There was some deep oxidation mid stem on both sides where the green area was on the original stem photos. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem and the oxidation mid stem. I rubbed down the stem with Obsidian Oil to remove the dust. I cleaned out the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners to remove any debris and the remaining Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer that had gone inside during the bath.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. After the final 12000 grit pad I gave it a last coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I buffed the stem with Red Tripoli and worked over the parts of the stem that still showed some of the oxidation. I buffed until the stem was clean working over the middle and the tenon end. I buffed again with Blue Diamond polish on the wheel to polish up the vulcanite. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing wheel. I buffed the bowl with the clean buffing wheel as well to give the bowl a shine. I hand buffed the stem and bowl with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a nice older Pioneer. It is light weight and comfortable in the hand and the mouth. I think my friend Steve in Dawson Creek is going to love this one. Steve,if you are reading this I hope you enjoy this beauty. It will be on its way to you very soon. Thanks for looking.


4 thoughts on “Restoring a Pioneer Block Meerschaum Acorn

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