Daily Archives: January 27, 2018

Restemming, Repairing and Reconditioning a Ben Wade Golden Walnut Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

When Mark sent me his uncle’s seven pipes to restore, he also sent several of his own pipes to be restored. The first pipe was the Italian made acorn with a sea rock style finish that I worked on earlier (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/01/20/breathing-new-life-into-an-italian-made-%c2%bc-bent-acorn/). The second pipe was a very nice looking Ben Wade Golden Walnut Freehand. It had some great grain on the sides, front and back. It had a flat area on the bottom of the bowl and could stand up without the stem. The shank end and the top of the rim had areas of plateau that were stained darker than the rest of the pipe. It is stamped on the underside of the shank Ben Wade over Golden Walnut. Underneath that it is stamped Hand Made in Denmark. The briar was dirty and there was grime into the grooves and crevices on the plateau top and end of the shank. There was grime and oils ground into the sides of the bowl and shank. The original stem with the broken tenon came in the bag that he sent the pipe in. It had snapped off cleanly at the flare in the stem. The stem itself was oxidized and had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There were scratches around the golden crown on the top of the stem. The crown was faded and worn. I decided I was going to try to put a new tenon on the original stem so I dropped it in the Before & After Deoxidizer bath to soak. I figured it would be easier to work on cleaned up. I added it to the photo after I took the photo below but it sat with the rest of the stems from the uncle’s pipes in the soak over night.While the original stem soaked I worked on an acrylic stem that Mark had chosen. I had sent him a photo of several options and he liked the brown and cream swirled acrylic. I used the PIMO tenon turner to reduce the diameter of the tenon to fit in the shank. It did not take too much to remove the excess material. The photos below show the stem on the tenon turner and the finished stem after turning.I took the stem out of the bath and rinsed it under warm water and rubbed it down with a coarse cloth to remove the oxidation. I took a photo of the two stems and the bowl to get a send of how the stem would look.I inserted a pipe cleaner in the airway and used a heat gun to soften the stem enough that I could bend it. I bent it at the same angle as the original stem. I cooled it with running water to set the bend in the stem. The photos below show the process and the final bent stem. I took some photos of the pipe with the new stem in place. The colour and the shape look good with Ben Wade. With the new stem fitted it was time to work on the cleanup of the briar. I worked on the insides of the bowl and shank to remove the tars and oils. I scraped out the inside of the mortise with a pen knife to remove the buildup in that area. I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs.I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl and rim with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the buildup of grime and oils in the briar and in the plateau areas of the shank and rim top. I rinsed it off the pipe under running water and scrubbed it under the water flow. I dried it off with a cotton cloth and buffed it lightly to raise a shine. I sanded the buildup on the inner edge of the rim on the back of the bowl with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to remove the tars that remained in those areas. I polished the rim top with 3200-6000 grit pads.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my finger tips to deep clean the finish, enliven and protect the wood. I worked the balm into the plateau on the rim top and the end of the shank to polish the cleaned up area. I buffed the pipe with a horsehair shoe shine brush to get it into the grooves of the plateau. I let it sit for a few minutes and then buffed it with a cotton cloth. The grain in the wood came alive and there was a rich shine to the briar. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. Ah now I was making progress. I had finished the acrylic stem and the cleaning and polishing of the bowl. It was time to address the original stem and see if I could put a new tenon on the freehand stem. I used the topping board to flatten the broken end of the stem using 220 grit sandpaper. I set up my cordless drill, put in a bit that was slightly larger than the airway in the stem. I slowly drilled the airway larger. I slowly moved up to larger bits to make the opening the same size as the threaded end of the new Delrin tenon.I used a needle file to clean up the opening in the end of the stem and even out the sides so that when the new tenon was in place it would align all the way around. I used the Dremel and sanding drum to take down the threads on the end of the new tenon to fit right in the hole. I did not want to drill it further and affect the structure of the stem. Once the threads were smoothed out slightly, it fit in nicely. I had to be careful in drilling the stem to not go to deep and drill through the top or underside of the stem. I also reduced the diameter of the rest of the tenon with the Dremel and sanding drum to fit in the mortise of the pipe.I pushed the tenon into the shank and smoothed out the transition between it and the rest of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. Once I had it smooth I glued the tenon in the stem with super glue.I inserted the tenon into the stem a little less than previously to match the length of the original tenon. I mixed a batch of charcoal powder and super glue to fill in the gap between the new tenon and the stem.When the repair had cured I used a rasp and file to smooth out the repair to the connection. I sanded the repaired area with 180 and 220 grit sandpaper and was able to make the transition taper correctly. It would take more sanding but you can see the progress in the next photos. I worked over the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I polished out the sanding scratches and marks in the vulcanite and the rebuilt tenon area – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiping it down with Obsidian Oil. After the 2400 grit pad I applied some Rub’n Buff Antique Gold gold to the crown stamp on the top of the stem. I rubbed it on and off leaving the gold in the stamping. I dry sanded the stem with 3200-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. When I finished with the 12000 grit pad I gave it a final coat of oil and let it dry. Once it had dried, I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish Fine and Extra Fine. I rubbed it down with final coat Obsidian Oil and took the following pictures. Since I had polished the bowl and the acrylic stem I decided to put it all together. I took photos of the finished pipe with the acrylic stem. The golds, browns and cream coloured swirls work well with the grain on the briar. The old Ben Wade Hand Made Golden Walnut looks good with a different kind of stem. It will give Mark an option to have both an acrylic and the original stem to choose from – almost like having two different pipes. Here are the photos of the pipe with the acrylic stem. I finished the repairs on the original stem, repaired and polished it. I put it back on the pipe and buffed the entire pipe again with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the entire pipe several 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 raise the shine. The new stem and the original stem looked good to me and the bend was just right. The bowl polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown with the original stem in the photos below. I will be adding to Mark’s package along with his uncle’s pipes when I have finished all of them and send it to him shortly. Thanks for looking.

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Reworking Mark’s Uncle’s 6th pipe – a Kaywoodie Signet Rhodesian


Blog by Steve Laug

I have one more of Mark’s uncle’s pipes left after this one. The one on the table now is one of the Kaywoodies. I am really enjoying working on these and I think it is because of the known history behind these old pipes. To me one of the fun parts of this hobby is the history or backstory on the pipes. If I can find out about that it gives another dimension to the pipe repair or restoration work. I have finished five of the seven pipes that Mark sent me. The Ropp Cherrywood De Luxe (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/01/17/cleaning-and-restoring-a-ropp-cherrywood-de-luxe-805/), The Doodler (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/01/19/restoring-a-beautiful-the-doodler-bullmoose/), newer three hole stinger Kaywoodie Super Grain Billiard S-L (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/01/21/restoring-marks-uncles-third-pipe-a-kaywoodie-super-grain-s-l-billiard/), a Savinelli Churchwarden (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/01/22/restoring-marks-uncles-savinelli-churchwarden-aged-briar-2002/) and a Tally Ho 33 Pot made by Hardcastle’s (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/01/25/restoring-and-restemming-marks-uncles-5th-pipe-a-tally-ho-33-pot/) are completed and I have posted them on the blog. I mentioned in each previous blog that I think about the pipeman who used these pipes as a daily part of his life while I am working on them. Here are some pictures of the pipes.The pipe I am working on now is the third pipe down in the above photo and the third from the left in the photo below. It is a Rhodesian or round shank bulldog pipe with a major piece missing from the button on the stem.I have included a bit of the history of Mark’s uncle with each of the past pipe restorations to give you a sense of the information that always in behind the desire to clean up and restore this set of old pipes. Mark wrote…

…My Uncle John, raised in an Appalachian Mountain family (think Hatfield and McCoy), was a large man with an affable personality – although this had limits and he could be quite formidable.

During WWII he left home and enlisted in the US Army where he was assigned to Patton’s 3rd Army as an ambulance driver.  After Germany surrendered, he was transported back to the US on a converted ocean liner troop ship (I believe it was the Queen Mary).  Upon reaching the US, his unit was immediately sequestered on a troop train for transport to the West Coast to be shipped to the Pacific for the invasion of Japan.  About half way across the country (possibly somewhere in Texas), the train stopped and the troops informed that Japan had capitulated – WWII was over.

Before the Korean War began, my uncle re-enlisted in the US Air Force.  He as assigned to a Photo Mapping unit as an Aircraft Mechanic.  He worked his way up to Crew Chief and served in Photo Mapping until he medically retired in the mid 60’s due to heart problems.

Being part of an Air Force family, I did not get to spend much time with my uncle while growing up.  However, I was able to stay a couple of summers with him at his West Palm Beach home while in my teens.  On a desk in his Florida Room sat collection of old used pipes in a walnut pipe rack / humidor combo (very similar the Decatur Industries 6 pipe Rack and humidor combination shown in the rebornpipes store).  There were a couple of packages of old dried up commercial brand tobacco in the humidor – one was cherry, I think.  I never saw my uncle smoke and never discussed the pipes with him, but I was intrigued by the pipe collection.  They were old, dirty, and well used – some with chewed through stems.  Obviously, the pipes had been smoked by a devoted pipe enthusiast.  As a young boy, I loved the smell of pipe tobacco, which you could occasionally smell in public way back then.  I started smoking an occasional pipe in college.  When my uncle passed away a few years later, I asked for his pipe collection and have stored it away since then.  The pipes are just as I received them some thirty years ago.

While I will never know for sure, I believe my uncle purchased the pipes in various PX’s and smoked them while an Air Crew Member.  The PX’s would have sold common commercially available pipe brands at a good price, nothing too expensive or exotic – consistent with the pipes in my uncle’s collection.  As a Photo Mapping Air Crew Member / Chief my uncle traveled the world extensively, and was stationed at many bases  – including “permanent” stations in West Palm Beach, Warner Robins, and Goose Bay Labrador, to name a few.  Smoking a pipe would have been a relaxing way to spend a few monotonous hours on the flight line or in the air.  After his heart problems, he must have given up pipe smoking and the pipes sat unused thereafter.  If the bowls look like they were recently scraped, it would have been over fifty years ago, most likely with a Case hardware store folding knife. If dirty, it is due to sitting for many years in the back room.  If well used and chewed it is due to many hours of smoking enjoyment.

I’m looking forward to seeing my Uncle John’s pipes in restored condition.  I know they are not “collectors” items, but they bring back priceless memories of my uncle and the times we spent together sharing “war stories”…

With that reminder of the old pipeman, I turned my attention to the sixth of Mark’s uncle’s pipes – a Kaywoodie Signet bulldog/Rhodesian shaped pipe. The pipe was stamped on the left side of the shank with the word Kaywoodie over the word Signet. There were no shape numbers on the right side or underside of the shank. The was an oxidized aluminum end cap threaded to hold the stinger/tenon apparatus. The exterior of the pipe was dirty and grimy with a few small dents in the sides of the bowl. The rim top was dirty and had some tar and lava overflowing the inside of the bowl. The bowl itself did not have a thick cake but there was a thin cake and remnants of tobacco in the bowl. The pipe looked like it had been reamed not too long before the last bowls were smoked. Overall the finish was in good condition but it was dirty and dusty. The stem was oxidized and there was a large chunk of the vulcanite missing on the top end of the stem where it had been chewed through or broken off. The stem was also slightly underclocked to the left. I took photos of the pipe before I started restoring it. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the remnants of cake in the bowl and the lava buildup on the rim top. It appeared that the pipe may have been reamed or cleaned at some point very recently. The inner and outer edges of the rim were in good condition. But I would know more once I removed the lava overflow. I took some close up photos of the stem to show the size of the missing vulcanite chunk near the button on the top side. The oxidized metal fitment on the shank end needed polishing but otherwise it looked good.The stinger apparatus in the shank had three holes in the ball at the end of the piece. It was covered in tars and oils and was quite dirty. The great thing was that there was nothing missing on the stinger and there were no deep scratches or gouges in the aluminum.I used a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to scrape away the remnants of cake and tobacco on the walls of the bowl. I used a rolled piece of 220 grit sandpaper to sand the walls of the pipe and smooth out all the remaining bits. The bowl looked good once it was cleaned.Because it was the original stem and there was thickness to it, and because the stinger was intact in the stem I decided to do something a little different. I cut off the end of the damaged stem with a Dremel and sanding drum until I had solid vulcanite to work with. I cleaned off the stinger with 0000 steel wool to remove all of the tars and oils. I heated the stinger until the glue had softened and realigned the stem with the shank.I took the stem off the pipe and cleaned the exterior, especially focusing on the end that I was going to rebuild. I mixed up a batch of charcoal powder and black super glue (2 capsules of charcoal powder were mixed together with the super glue) to make a paste to use in rebuilding the button. I applied it to the area where the button would be with a dental spatula. I made it thicker than it needed to be so that I could shape and contour the finished look once the repair had cured. I sprayed the repair with accelerator and set it aside to dry. While the repair cured I worked on the aluminum shank end to polish out the oxidation. I worked on it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh to get it to the point is in the photos below. Once the new button area had cured and the repair was hard, I shaped it with a rasp and a needle file. I matched the two sides of the button – the top and bottom in terms of shape and width. I cut the sharp edge of the button square with the files and shaped the top and underside in front of the button with 220 grit sandpaper. I still need to open up the slot in the button at this point as well as round the edges of the button itself but it is coming along nicely.I turned my attention to opening the slot in the end of the new button. The first photo shows the look of the slot and button at this point. The second shows the new slot that has been opened in the button end using needle files.I cleaned out the airway inside the stem and stinger with pipe cleaners and alcohol. I want to remove the grime but also the dust that would be present from my shaping of the button and slot. I was surprised at how clean the inside of the airway was. I also cleaned out the metal mortise and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol.I cleaned off the tars on the top of the rim and polished it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. Once I had it smooth and unscratched I stained it with a dark brown stain pen. I hand buffed it with a soft cloth to blend the stain into the rest of the bowl.I polished the aluminum end of the shank with micromesh sanding pads to raise a shine. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cotton pad after each grit of micromesh. I worked over the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I polished out the sanding scratches and marks in the vulcanite and the rebuilt button – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each one. When I finished with the 12000 grit pad I gave it a final coat of oil and let it dry. Once it had dried, I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish Fine and Extra Fine. I rubbed it down with final coat Obsidian Oil and took the following pictures. With the stem repaired and polished I put it back on the pipe and buffed the entire pipe again with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I carefully buffed the new button with a light touch so as not to damage it. I gave the entire pipe several 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 raise the shine. The new stem and the original stem looked good to me and the bend was just right. The bowl polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown with the original stem in the photos below. This is pipe number six of Mark’s uncle’s pipes. One left to finish up and then it will head back home to him. Thanks for looking.

The Guildhall 284 Rhodesian Restoration


By Al Jones

This is the 2nd “The Guildhall” shape that I’ve restored in the past few years. Fans of Comoy’s pipes will instantly recognize that very rare shape number. When a shape 284 Comoy’s pops up on Ebay or elsewhere, it is usually very hotly contested. This one failed to sell twice on Ebay, I believe because the shape number was inverted (248). It appeared to be in decent shape, with mint nomenclature, but it also could have help some hidden issues. I took the gamble and received the pipe in the condition below.

The stem was in great shape and it fit snugly. There was one tiny tooth indention, some chatter and it was lightly oxidized. The bowl had a moderate cake and the typical build-up on the bowl top. The briar had numerous marks on the bowl that I hoped could be steamed out.

The cake was removed with my Pipenet reamer and I found the bowl to be in excellent shape. I used a worn piece of worn Scotch-brite to remove the top layer of build-up on the bowl top, followed by 6,000 micromesh sheet and finally 2,000 grade paper. Using an electric iron and a wet cloth, folded twice over, I steamed out the dents. Most of them came out nicely, the steam really works miracles. The bowl was soaked with alcohol and sea salt. After the soak, the briar was buffed with White Diamond and several coats of Carnuba wax.

The stem was mounted and oxidation removed with 800, 1,500 and 2,000 grade papers, followed by 8,000 and 12,000 micromesh sheets. The stem was then buffed with White Diamond and Meguiars Plastic polish.

Below is the finished pipe.

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