Daily Archives: December 19, 2017

Cleaning up another new one for me – A Peterson’s Laxiom Apple

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is Peterson’s Laxiom Apple with a Military bit and a vulcanite shank extension. My brother, Jeff picked this one up in Montana on a trip there is October. He was drawn to it because he had never seen a Peterson pipe like it before. It has a heavily rusticated finish on the bowl and shank and is stained a dark brown colour. There is a little translucency in the stain and you can see the wood underneath. While the finish is rough it has been buffed to take off the sharp edges so it has a very tactile finish on the bowl. There is a smooth band of unrusticated wood at the shank end next to the vulcanite shank extension. The pipe is stamped on a smooth portion of the underside of the shank with the words Peterson’s over Laxiom. The bowl had a light cake build up and light lava on the thin rim edge but was in great condition overall. The extension and the military style bit were both oxidized. On the left side of the stem it is stamped with the characteristic Peterson’s P and on the underside it is stamped Great Britain. There were some tooth marks on the stem and button on both sides. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he did his cleanup work. He took this close up photo of the bowl to show its condition. I am amazed that the pipe is in excellent condition overall with little wear or tear to the bowl and rim top. He also took some photos of the bowl from various angles to show the finish on the bowl. It is a unique and pretty little pipe. The next two photos show the stamping on the underside of the shank and the underside of the stem. Both are very clear and readable.The stem and shank extension/ferrule were oxidized with a deep oxidation that would take some time to remove. The condition is very clear in the photos below. The second photo shows tooth marks on the button itself and the third photo shows tooth marks and chatter next to the button.I did some hunting on-line to see if I could find any information on the brand and found a link on the pipesmagazine.com forum (http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/peterson-laxiom-pipes). I did not find it too helpful in that the pipe I had in hand was not meerschaum but definitely wood. I quote it below in full because the one thing that was a clue was the Peterson Manx link that I knew was a fact.

I just picked up a couple Peterson Laxiom pipes that are quite unusual. Both are stamped “Great Britain” on the stem. Both are black rusticated models which reminded me of a black Pioneer Block Meerschaum in my collection, in large part due to their similar stem and ferrule design. The Petes are relatively lighter in weight and are not labeled as meerschaum.

I noticed that Laxey Pipes Ltd made African meerschaum bowls for Peterson and that it was a Peterson Manx partnership with a factory on the Isle of Man, which closed in 1981 when Peterson’s meerschaum production was moved to Dublin.

Putting two and two together, I’m guessing that Peterson Laxiom pipes are East African meerschaum, but it’s gnawing at me that they might be some sort of wild composite, like Brylon. I can say with almost 100% certainty that the draft hole was drilled and not molded, as one of the two is obviously off-center.

A post from a number of years ago regarding Laxiom pipes came up empty, even after inquiring with three longtime Peterson employees.

Now I had a link to Manx but I was pretty certain the pipe was not meerschaum. It felt and looked like briar. I wrote to a good friend and go to Peterson’s aficionado, Mark Irwin to see if he could help me with information. He wrote back with his usual great information and a couple of photos from a catalogue showing the brand. I quote Mark’s answer in part.

Hi Steve,

… let’s look at the Laxiom…Thanks for these great photos, first of all. I have never seen one with the vulcanite shank extension unscrewed, and did not know it worked that way.

When you complete your restoration, if you have time, would you send me a photo for the Encyclopedia chapter with the pipe broken down this way? One picture goes a long way in understanding how something is put together, and I want readers to see how the Laxiom worked.

Laxiom: 1971-1975 A briar line produced for Iwan Ries, black rustic or walnut smooth or sculpted finish with acrylic threaded (removable) ferrule and vulcanite Laxi P-Lip or fishtail mouthpiece, made at the Peterson-Manxman factory in seven shapes. See Laxi. 

…Laxi 1971-1975 Easy-push mouthpiece for Iwan Ries, often with ferrule, P-Lip or fishtail. Military stem extended into mortise of removable (threaded) acrylic ferrule. Stem could be re-ordered if broken.

I have included 2 pages for your use in the blog from the 1971 Iwan Ries catalog. I’m beginning a series of articles on the Peterson – IRC connection, but I don’t mind a bit if you print these before I do! … Best, Mark The first page above describes the pipes and the second shows the variety of offerings. I have enclosed the description in a red box. Here is what it says:

Laxiom, a giant step ahead. Select briar, fine vulcanite stem. Another Peterson’s of Dublin, from their Manxman Division in the Isle of Man. Our exclusive mind-opening model – once again brings pipes out of exile. No longer relegated to a drab, drag world. Sensible, bigger bowl capacity disproves the old thick-bowled concept that left a thimble sized tobacco chamber! Stems aren’t shackled either by stem repair traumas. They’re delivered, at last, by the great new Laxi stem – a 71 Instant-Replace, the bit worth its weight in gold. Evidence is convincing – this IRC pipe escapes yesterday’s uniformityisms into today’s land of self-expression. Both regular and Peterson Lip are interchangeable, instantly substituted. Here’s more unconventionalism that makes it – everywhere. Yesterday’s experienced knowledge + Today’s awareness and vision = a pipe with a lot of smoking to do! Only in shapes shown – prince, apple, Dublin, billiard, pot, full bowl design carved apple.

I8J1913 Walnut $11.50

I8J1914 Black Sandblast $9.50

I8J1913s Instant-Replace Stem, reg. $2.50

I8J1913sp Instant-Replace stem, Peterson’s Lip $3.50

I am almost feel I don’t need to say this anymore as you all know by now that my brother Jeff does the cleanup on the pipes that we get. It is amazing to start with pipes that are already cleaned and reamed. In fact on the local repairs I do I have to do all the work and I really miss his work. He did the work on this one as usual. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the last bit of cake with a Savinelli Fitsall reamer. He cleaned the internals of the shank and the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil soap and a tooth brush and was able to remove all of the dust, tars and oils built up on the briar. He was able to remove all of the tars and lava on the rim top and leave it looking very clean. He soaked the stem in an Oxyclean bath to raise the oxidation to the surface of the vulcanite. When it arrived it looked very clean. I took photos of the pipe before I started my restoration work. I took a photo of the bowl and rim to show its condition after his cleanup work. It looked really good.The Oyclean brought the oxidation to the surface of the stem and the tooth marks were very visible on both sides. This is when I wish I could order one of those Insta-Replace Lax stems and just put this one aside. But there are none available so it is a cleanup job.I pulled the stem off and put it in a bath of Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and left it to soak overnight. In the morning I removed the stem from the deoxidizer and wiped off the excess deoxidizer from the surface of the stem with a paper towel. I cleaned out the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol to remove any remnants of the bath from that part of the stem. The photos below show the stem after the soak and rub down. It was still lightly oxidized but the oxidation was significantly less than when I started. I decided to work on it without further soaking. It would be a stem that I would have to hand work to get rid of all the oxidation. The tooth marks are visible on the top and underside of the stem in the photos.I noticed that while I was wiped the shank extension down with some Obsidian Oil there was a bit of give in the extension. Since I could find little information on the brand I had no idea what to expect in this case. I carefully turned the shank extension and it came unscrewed from the shank of the pipe. I was pleased in that it would be easier to work on with it separated. I took photos to show the parts of the pipe. With the shank extension removed I scrubbed out the airway with a pipe cleaner and alcohol to double check if there was debris in this section of the shank with the threaded tenon removed. It was very clean. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the smooth finish, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers and wiped it off with a soft cloth. I buffed the bowl with a horsehair shoe brush to raise the shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I rubbed some Vaseline Petroleum Jelly on the threads of the shank extension to make it easier to turn into the shank and protect the threads in the process.I screwed the extension part way into the shank and polished it to remove the oxidation. I sanded it with 1500-4000 grit micromesh sanding pads and rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I buffed the shank extension with Red Tripoli and Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish it further and remove the stubborn oxidation that was still present. I took it back to the work table and sanded it with 6000-12000 grit micromesh pads, once again rubbing it down with oil after each pad. After the final pad I gave it a final coat of oil and let it dry. I repaired the deep bite marks in the surface of the button and the underside of the stem near the button. I cleaned up the surrounding area and wiped it down with alcohol. I filled them in with black superglue.After the repairs had dried I sanded them to blend them into the surface of the stem. I used 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repaired areas and reshaped the top of the button.I polished out the sanding scratches and marks in the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I brought it back to the table and sanded it with the final three 6000-12000 grit pads. After the final pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and worked the pipe over on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond to polish the bowl and shank. I lightly buffed the bowl so as not to leave behind polishing compound in the rustication. I used more pressure on the stem to raise the gloss on the vulcanite. The P stamp on the side of the stem was not deep enough to hold a repaint so I left it. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the entire pipe 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 below. The dark brown stain on the rustication of the apple shaped bowl works well with the rich black of the vulcanite stem. This is a unique pipe the likes of which I have never before seen. It is a beautiful and well-made pipe. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Diameter of the bowl: 1 inches, Diameter of the chamber: 3/4 inches. Thanks for looking.

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS – How do I “De-ghost” a pipe?

Blog by Steve Laug

Another of the questions that I am frequently asked is about how to remove a tobacco ghost from a pipe. For some folks it is a matter of removing the ghost of Latakia from an estate pipe so they can smoke a favourite Virginia or aromatic without the smoky overtones coming through from the past. For others it is the opposite – how to remove the sweet, candy-like ghost from a past pipe man. However, one I hear about most often involves the left over smells and tastes left behind in a pipe from Lakeland tobaccos. Folks want to remove that ghost of “grandma’s perfume”, the floral scent that stubbornly clings to a pipe even after a thorough cleaning. I thought it was worth devoting an Answers to Questions Blog to addressing some of the different methods that can be used to address the ghost in the pipe.

All of the methods that I will write about assume that the pipe has been thoroughly cleaned before using them. It is easier to work on a pipe that is not filthy with tars, oils and debris than otherwise. I am sure that others may think that this pre-clean is not necessary but I have found that it is not only necessary but also essential to getting the best deep clean possible. I will summarize the way I do this cleanup in the form of a checklist.

___ Remove the stem and clean out the airway in the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. Repeat the process until the pipe cleaners come out clean.

___ Clean out the mortise area in the shank with cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the obvious buildup in that area.  Check the walls of the mortise to see if there is any hardened buildup on the walls. If so, scrape it out with a thin blade – I use a penknife or a dental spatula to scrape the walls. Be careful to not cut into the briar in the walls.

___ Clean out the airway between the end of the mortise and the bowl. You can use pipe cleaners and alcohol to begin this process however; I have found that the airway is often quite constricted with tars and oils. I use the drill bit that comes with the KleenReem pipe tool and twist it into the airway in the mortise carefully until the tip comes out in the bowl.

___ Clean off the drill bit and wrap a pipe cleaner up the grooves of the bit. Dip the bit in alcohol and twist it into the airway once again. It will remove the grime and open the airway. I repeat that until the pipe cleaners come out clean.

___ Finish the process by running pipe cleaners and alcohol into the shank – mortise and airway to remove any remaining debris.

When that process of “pre-cleaning” is complete the pipe is ready for the deep cleaning of “ghost busting” methods I will describe next. I have used the all of the methods for over 20 years now and I have found that they all work far better after a thorough pre-clean as I have described above. I will cover the three methods that I use in the order that I use them. In most cases, one method can bust the ghost from a pipe. However, as usual in this hobby there are exceptions. I have found that there are some very stubborn ghosts that do not leave the pipe until I have used all of the methods.

Pipe Retort System

I have written several blogs on the use of a pipe retort covering how it is used and an instructional sheet included with the retort I purchased on eBay. I am including those links here if you want to read in more detail about the use of a retort system. https://rebornpipes.com/2012/10/17/what-is-a-pipe-retort-and-how-it-is-used/
https://rebornpipes.com/2015/03/02/an-instruction-sheet-for-using-a-pipe-retort/  A short explanation of the system is that it involves boiling alcohol through the pipe and then removing the heat and letting the dirty alcohol exit the pipe back into the attached test tube. I will use a checklist once again to spell out the process.

___ Materials needed are cotton balls, isopropyl alcohol, surgical tubing, a pipet or metal tube, a rubber stopper that will hold the tube, a Pyrex heat resistant test tube and a heat source. The surgical tubing is attached to the pipet/tube and then the tube is put through the stopper. The open end of the surgical tube is fit over the end of the stem.

___ Pour alcohol into the test tube until it is half-full. Put the stopper in the test tube to keep the alcohol in place.

___ Fit the open end of the surgical tube over the button end of the mouthpiece (leave the mouth piece attached to the shank).

___ Gently stuff one or two cotton balls in the bowl of the pipe to keep the alcohol inside when it is heated.

___ Hold the end of the test tube over the heat source and the heat will bring the alcohol to a rolling boil. The stem will warm up as the alcohol moves through it. Hold the tube by the rubber stopper at about a 33-degree angle – enough to encourage the heating alcohol to move through the pipe.

___ The alcohol boil through the pipe for 5 minutes or more then remove the tube from the heat source. As the alcohol cools, it flows back into the test tube bringing the tars, oils and debris with it.

___ Remove the stopper from the test tube and dispose of the dirty alcohol. Refill and repeat the process until the boiled alcohol comes back clean.

___ Remove the retort from the pipe and run clean pipe cleaners through the airways and cotton swabs through the mortise to remove any remaining debris.

Once the pipe has dried out, smell it and see if the ghost remains. Take a couple of draws on the stem to see if there is any remaining flavor from the ghost. If the ghost has been “exorcised” you can do a simple wipe down, buff the bowl and stem with either a buffer or by hand to raise a shine and remove any signs of the retort. I give my pipe a day to dry out then load a bowl and enjoy the first smoke in this refreshed bowl. However, if it still reeks of the ghost’s presence there are several more options that we can use.

Salt and Alcohol/Cotton Ball and Alcohol Treatment

I have written several blogs regarding the use of the salt and alcohol treatment already and have compared it with using cotton balls in place of the kosher salt. Both work equally well in pulling the tars and oils out of the briar bowl and shank. I have moved away from using the kosher salt with the alcohol to cotton balls because it is less of a mess and for me removes some of the threat that others have mentioned regarding the salt splitting the briar. The cotton balls and alcohol are just as effective in removing the tars and oils from the briar as the salt. The concept is simple in that the surface of the cotton or salt provides somewhere for the tars to rest once the alcohol draws them out of the briar. Here are the links to two of the blogs I have written on this treatment previously on rebornpipes. Give them a read if you want more details of either treatment or a comparison of the two.
https://rebornpipes.com/2013/02/10/sweetening-a-pipe-an-alternative-to-the-salt-and-alcohol-treatment/  I will use a checklist once again to spell out the process.

___ Whether you use cotton balls or Kosher salt (coarse grind) the beginning step is the same. Remove the stem from the pipe. Fill the bowl of the pipe with either one leaving some room at the top of the bowl. The idea is to leave enough room that once the bowl is filled with alcohol it does not splash onto the rim top or down the sides and damage the bowl.

___ Insert a twisted piece of paper towel or a pipe cleaner into the shank of the pipe to keep the mixture in the bowl from flowing out the mortise.

___ Use an ice cube tray or a bowl of uncooked rice to hold the pipe upright with the shank elevated enough that the mixture does not wick out of the bowl.

___ Use an ear syringe or some other simple tool to fill the packed bowl with alcohol. I use isopropyl alcohol (99%) because of the low water content of the alcohol and I find that by the time I empty the bowl most if not all of the alcohol has evaporated.

___ Leave the bowl sitting overnight to maximize the draw of the mixture on the oils and tars in the bowl. I find that typically in the morning, after the mix has sat all night, the cotton balls or salt are very dark brown and smell awful.

___ Remove the cotton balls or salt and dispose of them. Dry out the inside of the bowl with paper towels of cotton swabs, run several pipe cleaners through the shank to dry out the briar and remove any debris.

___Let the pipe dry thoroughly before putting the stem on the shank. I usually let it sit for 2-3 days to ensure that it is dry.

Once it has dried out smell the bowl to check if you have eradicated the ghost using this procedure. You may have to repeat the process several times to remove all of the oils and tars from the briar. (Because of the repetition, I find that the cotton balls work better and do not leave any salty residue in the briar of the bowl or shank.) After the pipe has been sitting and it has dried out then load a bowl and enjoy the first smoke in this refreshed bowl. However, if it still reeks of the ghost’s presence there one more trick that we can use.

Activated Charcoal Treatment

(I have yet to have this final method fail.) You might think that you can short cut to this method first and avoid all of the other methods. I do not do that as I find that the majority of ghosts are “exorcised” with the first two methods spelled out above. I leave this final method as my last resort. It is simple but many folks find it a bit intimidating. It was first spelled out in an article by Greg Pease that he originally wrote in for the now out of print Pipe Friendly Magazine (it appeared in Vol. 5 No. 4). He has since added it to his Briar & Leaf Chronicles (GLP Blog). It is a well-written piece that gives the results of his experimenting with the method and the results he achieved. What he has written should allay your fears about trying out his method. Here is the link to the blog: http://www.glpease.com/Articles/Spot.html. I will use a checklist to summarize the process of his method.

___ Heat the oven (electric is what Greg used though I use a gas stove) setting the thermostat to 180°F. (Greg’s experimental tests had shown him that the temperature in an empty oven would vary between about 180°F and a bit over 200°F, which well below the temperature at which the briar would scorch.

___ Remove the stem, place the empty bowl on a towel in the oven, on the upper rack, far away from the source of radiant heat, and let it sit for three hours.

___ Remove the now hot pipe and fill the bowl with the activated charcoal.

___ Place the bowl back in the oven for an additional three hours.

___ After three more hours remove the pipe and empty the charcoal.

___ Smell the bowl and see if there is any trace of ghost.

Allow the pipe to cool overnight before putting the stem on it. I run pipe cleaners through the bowl to remove any of the carbon bits that might be in the shank then load a bowl and enjoy the refreshed bowl. Give Greg’s article a read if you want more detail on this method along with a couple of disclaimers he gives. The method works well.

Those are the three methods I use to de-ghost a pipe. Each of them is used after a thorough cleaning of the pipe to make the method more effective. I would encourage you to give them a try if you want to remove a ghost of past tobaccos from your pipe or even just sweeten a pipe that has grown sour. With that I bring this Answers to Questions blog to a close. I hope that it has given you some insight the methodology for the process of de-ghosting. Thank you for taking time to read this blog. Cheers.