Daily Archives: December 24, 2017

Refreshing & Restemming a Missouri Meerschaum Great Dane Spool

Blog by Steve Laug

My brother was going to pitch this old cob but when I saw it I told him to throw it in one of the boxes he sent my way. I figured I could do something with it. I think he told me that the stem had collapsed but I don’t remember. It didn’t matter anyway because the stems are not expensive to replace. It arrived several months ago and I chucked it in the pipes to be refurbished box and forgot about it. Yesterday (first day of my Christmas holiday time off work) I was going through the boxes and consolidating a bit. I came across this one and brought it to the work table. The bowl and shank were in pretty good condition – just a little cake in the bowl, lava on the rim and tars and oils in the shank. The stem looked ok other than some tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem. You might wonder why I would even bother cleaning up a cob, but remember that every pipe that comes across the worktable provides an opportunity to practice skills and potentially learn new ones. I took some photos of the pipe before I started to clean it up. I took a picture of the rim and bowl to show the condition of the light cake and the lava overflow and scorching on the back side of the rim top. Otherwise the bowl looked decent.I took some photos of the stem to have a look at it and see what I was going to do. You can see the dent in the stem on the first photo. I have circled it in red to make sure you can identify it. It looks like a dent but it actually was a collapse in the airway that was blocking it off part way. The cheap plastic stems on the cobs do not do well with heat in my experience. I have ruined a few of them trying to raise dents and even just from the heat of buffing them.I topped the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper on the topping board to remove the lava build up and scorched area on the back of the rim top. It cleaned up really well leaving behind a pretty pristine looking rim. The inner and outer edges were in good shape.I reamed the bowl with Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to take back the cake that had formed around the middle of the bowl and smooth out the inside walls. I ran a folded piece of sandpaper around the inner edge of the bowl to clean it up a bit.I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. At this point I was not sure what I would do with the stem so I figured I might as well clean it up.I sanded the top of the stem to see what I could do with the dent. I put a pipe cleaner in the airway and painted the surface with the flame of a lighter. The area did not lift but collapsed further. The stem was a going to be a loss. It was time to look for another one that would work on this pipe.Jeff had sent me a couple of bags of stems that he had picked up on Ebay. In one of them there were quite a few Missouri Meerschaum stems that might work. I found a nice looking reddish amber plastic one that was bent the same angle. It was new and unused and it would look really good with the spool cob. I put the two stems side by side and took a couple of photos. You will notice that the new stem is slightly shorter than the original but the shape and the bend were more classic and elegant.I polished the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. Each pad brought more of a shine to the cob and it matched the rest of the bowl well. I gave it a coat of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a soft cloth. I put the new stem on the bowl and gave the pipe a hand buff with a microfiber cloth to give it a bit of a shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The cob is in great shape and the shank is made to look like a cob. The transparent red plastic stem looks really good with the golden yellow of the cob. This old cob has lots of life in it and it would be a great addition to anyone’s rack. Have you been wanting to give a cob a try? This is your chance to pick one up at a great price. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 5/8 inches. I will be adding this one to the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested. If you are interested email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.



Breathing Life into an early 1900s Eagle Claw Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

My brother Jeff picked up this interesting Eagle Claw pipe in Montana on one of his pipe hunts. It is well carved and is a well grained piece of briar. The finish was very dirty and worn but under the dirt and dust of years sat some beautiful briar. The bowl had a thin cake – almost like it had been cleaned. Sometime in the life of the pipe the inner edge of the bowl had been chipped on the left side of the bowl. I would almost bet that it happened the last time the pipe was cleaned as there was no buildup of tars or cake in the chip itself. There were remnants of lava on the top of the rim around the rim top but not too thick or too much. There was a very tarnished brass band on the shank that was loose. The stem was Bakelite and was overturned. It also was worn and the top surface at first appeared to be crazed but the more I looked at it the more I could see that it was actually deeply pitted. There were bite marks on the top of the stem and the top edge of the button was worn down. There was a large bite through on the underside of the stem and the button was worn. There was some chipping around the junction of the stem and the band on the shank. Jeff took the photos of the pipe that follow before he started his cleanup work. It is always good to have a baseline of what the pipe looked like when we began the work. The next two photos show the condition of the briar. The first shows the rim top and bowl. There is minor tar buildup on the left side rim top. The chip in the rim is also visible in that photo. The second photo shows the carving patterns on the side and bottom edge of the bowl and shank. Though they are dirty they are well executed and interesting.The band is worn and oxidized but appears to be brass underneath. The top side of the stem is worn and there appears to be casting marks on both edges.The next photos show the bite through in the underside of the stem and the shape and condition of the airway in the button end.The last two photos show the stem. The first is the top side showing the tooth marks near the button and the pitting and checking of the material. This photo shows why originally I thought that the stem had crazed. The second photo gives a close up look at the bite through in the underside of the stem. It was quite large and went from one side of the airway to the other.Jeff did his usual thorough cleanup on the bowl and stem. He used his two favourite reamers to clean up the bowl and rim edges – a PipNet pipe reamer a Savinelli Fitsall reamer. He cleaned the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs – scrubbing out the mortise and shank as it was very dirty. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil soap and a tooth brush and was able to remove all of the tars and oils built up on the briar. He was able to remove all of the tars and lava on the rim top and left it looking very clean. The chip damage on the rim top and inner edge was clean and visible. He cleaned the stem with warm soapy water and pipe cleaners. He rinsed it with clean water to remove the soap in the airway. When it arrived I took photos of the pipe before I started to work on the restoration. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show how well it had cleaned up. The chip is on shown on the bottom of the photo (left side of the bowl). It would need to be repaired and topped to clean up the damage.The stem cleaned up nicely. The next two photos show the stem after Jeff’s clean up. You can see the pitting, chipping at the shank connection and the tooth marks on the top side. The bite through is clear on the underside and I have pushed a pipe cleaner through to show the size of the hole.Since the stem was quite clean, I wiped it down with a damp cotton pad and dried it off. I greased the pipe cleaner with Vaseline and inserted it into the airway. I filled in the bite marks on the top side and repaired the bite through with Amber super glue. I overfilled the two repairs to make sure that it would not shrink and require more as it dried. I sprayed it with an accelerator and set it aside to dry for an hour.Once the repair had cured for an hour I used a small file to smooth out the patch and reshape the edge of the button. At this point I was interesting in smoothing out the repair and the surface of the stem to match. I also wanted to have the edges of the button look as close as possible to their original shape.I sanded the repaired areas and the rest of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to deal with the pitting and to blend the repair into the rest of the surface of the stem. The stem is starting to look pretty good and the button and shape are correct.I polished out the sanding scratches, pitting and marks in the Bakelite 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 carefully buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel so as not to let it get too hot and damage the material. 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. The band/ferrule on the end of the shank was loose so I removed it to clean up the pipe. The photos below show the beautiful grain in this pipe. I really like the looks of the grain and the carving. It is well laid out on the briar. In order to repair the damaged edge of the rim I wanted to top the bowl back to get rid of the other damage to the rim top and prepare it for the patch. I topped it on a topping board using 220 grit sandpaper. I removed enough of the rim top to take care of the other damage on the rim and the burned areas around the inner edge. I pushed some of the briar dust from sanding into the chipped area and put several drops of clear super glue on top of the dust. I repeated the process until the edge and the rim top were even. I sanded the inner edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it out and finished by lightly topping the bowl. The repair looks really good.I polished the rim top using the micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim down after each pad with a damp cotton pad. When I finished the polishing I wiped it down a final time. I rubbed the briar 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 a cotton swab to get into the deep grooves of the carving. I wiped it off with a soft cloth and lightly buffed the bowl with soft cloth. I lightly buffed it with Blue Diamond on the wheel to polish it. It really began to have a deep shine in the briar. The rich reds and browns of the stain, which I have often found in briar of this age, made the grain really stand out. I took some photos of the bowl to mark the progress in the restoration. At this point I decided to not restain the rim top but let is remain natural. The balm that rubbed into the briar made it almost blend with the rest of the bowl. I used a cotton swab to paint some white glue around the shank end to hold the band firmly in place. Once it was evenly spread I pressed the band in place on the shank and let it dry. Once the band had cured I polished it with micromesh sanding pads and a jeweler’s cloth. The brass band really took on a rich glow that went well with the stain on the pipe. I put the stem back on the bowl and gently 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 get a lot of polishing compound in the grooves and feathers. I carefully buffed the stem to raise the gloss on the Bakelite without damaging it from the heat. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax. I gently 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 rich reddish brown stain on the carved eagle claw and egg bowl works well with the yellow amber gloss of the Bakelite stem. This old carved pipe really has a nice mix of grain and now that it is restored it has lots of life in it. This is another pipe that I wish could speak and tell its story. As I hold it I wonder about its travels and how it came to rest in Montana before coming to Idaho and then up to Vancouver. It would be fascinating to be able to sit and have a chat with it while I fired up a bowl. I guess though I will have to be satisfied to add my own chapter to the ongoing saga of this old pipe. Thanks for looking.