Daily Archives: February 10, 2018

Refurbishing a Savinelli Nonpareil 9111 Billiard Bowl


Blog by Steve Laug

I received a private message on Facebook from Doug, a friend in the US about refurbishing the bowl on a pipe he just picked up. He would do the stem he said so there was no need for me to even worry about that so I sent him a message and the deal was done. The package arrived in Vancouver not long after that message exchange. When I opened the box there was a large beautiful briar pipe inside. It had amazing grain on it and a polished horn shank extension. The bowl had a very light cake in it and the rim had some darkening around the inner edge and a small nick on the back right side of the inner edge. The finish was dirty and there were some areas on the bowl just below the rim where there was some sticky substance and buildup. There was a small nick in the horn extension on the left side. The pipe was stamped on the underside of the bowl Savinelli over Nonpareil. Next to that was the Savinelli S shield logo and next to that it bore the shape number 9111 over Italy. In the Savinelli Grading Hierarchy the Nonpareil was just below the Giubileo d’Oro. It is thus one of the higher grade lines that Savinelli produces. The Nonpareil line has the shape number stamped using a 3 or a 4 digits shape code which is an exception to Savinelli’s routine 3 digits shape code. The 9111 is a beautiful shape in the line.

I took a close up photo of the shank end to show the darkened metal inset that runs the length of the horn extension. This added touch adds stability to the horn and seems to add protection that keeps it from splitting over time. The close up of the rim top shows the lightly caked bowl, the darkening on the inner edge of the rim and a small nick in the edge at about 7 o’clock in the photo. You can also see the sticky buildup on the backside of the bowl just below the rim in the first photo. The pipe really has some stunning grain under the grime on the surface. The final close up photo shows the stamping on the underside of the bowl and shank. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the inside edge of the rim. I was able to minimize the nick on the rear right edge and also some of the darkening on the inner edge with the sandpaper. (Note the sticky substance on the side of the bowl just below the top of the rim. This extends all the way around the bowl.)I cleaned off all of the stickiness and grime with a cotton pad and alcohol. I figured it would remove the debris and help the grain to really show up. I carefully wiped off the horn with just a dampened cotton pad. Once I was finished I was rewarded with some beautiful grain and some deep shine on the horn extension. I cleaned up the thin cake in the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and took out the ragged edges of the cake.With the bowl cleaned I cleaned out the internals – the mortise and the airway in the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol.I polished the briar and horn with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cotton pad to remove the sanding dust. I rubbed some Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar to lift out the dust in the grain, enliven and protect the bowl and horn shank. I let it sit for a little while then buffed it off with a soft cloth. I really like the way the grain stands out in some amazing contrast now. With the bowl cleaned and polished I buffed it with Blue Diamond to polish out any remaining scratches. I gave the bowl several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The briar polished up pretty nicely. The finished bowl is shown in the photos below. Next week I will box the pipe up and put it back in the mail to Doug. I look forward to hearing what he thinks one he has it in hand. I can’t wait to see the bowl with the stem polished and in place. I have to remember to have Doug send me a finished picture of the pipe once he reunites the bowl and stem. Thanks for walking through the refurb with me. I am really pleased with the way it turned out. It is truly a beautiful piece of briar.

 

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Replacing the stem on a Der Unique Alternative Wood Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

I have been corresponding with Paresh for some time now and have repaired and restored two of his pipes and sent him others as well. We carry on conversation via WhatsApp on the internet and discuss the various pipes he is purchasing as well as ones that he has inherited from his grandfather. This is the second pipe he sent me from India to work on. It took a long time to arrive. When it did it appeared as shown in the photos below. It was stamped with what looks like the word Der on the left side of the shank. There is no other stamping on the pipe. The mortise is lined with a brass tube. The wood is either fruitwood or some other hardwood. The stem is plastic and has a brass spacer on the end of the tenon. When Paresh was cleaning the pipe a pipe cleaner was stuck in the airway in the stem. The tenon was quite small and thin and had a slight bend in it. I heated it with a heat gun to soften the stem – nothing happened no how long I heated it. The stem was hard and immovable. I decided it had to go. It was hard and very small in diameter. To me it would have been very uncomfortable in the mouth. Paresh says the pipe smokes very well. I took a close up photos of the rim top and the stem. The bowl is quite small with a diameter of 5/8 inches. The airway is well drilled and comes out the bottom of the bowl. The plastic stem is shown in the second and third photos. It was in decent condition with little or no bite marks or chatter. The only thing wrong with it was the broken pipe cleaner in the airway of the stem.I went through my can of stems and found one with a tenon that was the right diameter and that would work sitting against the shank. It was a saddle stem so it was slightly different from the taper that had been there. It also had a flat blade portion of the stem and was wider than the original. It was more comfortable than the previous stem.I sanded the scratches and marks out of the surface of the stem. They were on the saddle portion and the blade. I used 220 grit sandpaper and worked over until the surface was smooth. The tenon still had scratches that needed to be worked out but the fit was very snug.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads. When sanding Lucite it is important to wash the pads repeatedly to remove the fine sanding dust that otherwise clogs the pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiped it down with Obsidian Oil. I used a heat gun to put the same bend in the stem as was in the original one. I dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – Fine and Extra Fine to remove the tiny scratches in the surface of the rubber. I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I set the new stem aside and scrubbed the bowl with Before & After Restoration Balm to clean and enliven the wood. I rubbed it into the wood with my fingers and let is it sit for a few minutes. I wiped it off with a cloth and buffed it lightly with a shoe brush. With the new stem reshaped and polished I put it back on the pipe and buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out any remaining scratches. I gave the bowl and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is the sixth pipe I have worked over for Paresh. Once I finish the last one of the pipes I will pack them up and send them to India. I look forward to hearing what he thinks once he has them in hand. Thanks for walking through the restoration of this alternative wood pipe. It was straight forward and simple but interesting nonetheless.

 

 

Repairing and Restoring an Aldo Velani Fumata Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

I have been corresponding with Paresh for some time now and have repaired and restored two of his pipes and sent him others as well. We carry on conversation via WhatsApp on the internet and discuss the various pipes he is purchasing as well as ones that he has inherited from his grandfather. This little Aldo Velani was one of the first pipes that he sent me from India to work on. It took a long time to arrive. When it did it appeared as shown in the photos below. It was stamped Aldo Velani on the left side of the shank and Fumata on the underside of the right of the shank. It also had Italy stamped on the underside of the left of the shank next to the shank/stem union. I am assuming that the Fumata referred to the black paint like finish on the cap and partway down the bowl and the shank. It was flaking off and really did not look good. Paresh had reamed the bowl and cleaned the rim and in doing so did a great job removing the flaking finish on the rim. The bowl was clean as were the internals of the shank. When he was working on the acrylic stem the entire upper portion of the button broke off leaving the button top missing. I took close up photos of the rim top and the stem to show the condition it was in when it arrived in Vancouver. You can see the rim is quite clean there are a few stubborn spots that will need to be worked on. You can also see the chipped portion missing from the button on the topside of the stem and the tooth marks in the underside of the button.The grain on the bowl was quite nice so I decided to remove the paint from the cap and the shank. I used acetone on a paper towel to work over the bowl. As you can see from the following photos the finish came off quite easily. There were some nicks and dents in the sides of the bowl and the twin rings around the cap were very dirty. I buffed the bowl once I had removed the finish to get a better idea of what I was working on and to see what the grain looked like at this point in the process. It really was a pretty little bulldog and with some sanding and polishing it would really look good. Personally I like the pipe better without the black rim cap. I sent pictures to Paresh on WhatsApp to show him the progress at this point and he also liked the new look of the bowl. I used the Dremel and sanding drum to cut off the damaged portion of the stem and give me solid material to work with to reshape and rebuild the button.I put the stem back on the bowl to have a look at what the pipe would be like now that the bowl was stripped and the stem was cut back. I sent the photos to Paresh on WhatsApp as a progress report. He liked the new look and said he could not wait to see what the stem looked like with the new button cut. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I cut the new button in the surface of the acrylic stem with a needle file. I did not worry about shaping it yet, I was more interested in getting the sharp edge defined. I matched the two sides of the button so that both sides would be equal. I sanded the surface of the stem on both sides with 220 grit sandpaper to further define the edge of the button. Once the edge was defined I built up the top and bottom surface of the button. I used clear super glue to add more definition to the button. I checked out the inside of the shank and noticed that there was a build up of hardened tars and oils on the walls of the mortise. I scraped them out with a dental spatula. I was able to remove a lot of hardened tars with the spatula. Once the inside was scraped clean I scrubbed the mortise and airway in the shank with alcohol, cotton swabs and bristle and smooth pipe cleaners until they came out clean. I cleaned out the airway in the stem with bristle pipe cleaners to remove more of the oils on the inside of the airway. Once the inside of the stem was clean I build up the newly cut button with clear super glue. It would take a lot of thin layers to get it to the point that I would be happy with it but it was starting to look like a button. When the repair had hardened I cleaned up the edges and the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I used needle files to funnel the slot in the end of the new button. The stem is definitely beginning to take shape at this point.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads. When sanding Lucite it is important to wash the pads repeatedly to remove the fine sanding dust that otherwise clogs the pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a damp cloth. The briar on the bowl has some nicks that are really character marks. I chose to leave them and not fill them in and sand them. To me they are parts of the story of the pipe. I decided to polish the briar and raise a shine. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove any sanding dust. The grain in the briar really began to stand out. I rubbed some Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar to lift out the dust in the grain, enliven and protect the newly stripped bowl. I let it sit for a little while then buffed it off with a soft cloth. I like the way the grain stands out now. I am not going to stain the pipe as I like the way it looks at this point. I will check with Paresh and see if he wants me to darken it at all, but to me it looks grand. With the stem reshaped and polished I put it back on the pipe and buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond. I used a light touch on the stem to polish out any remaining scratches. I gave the bowl and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is the fifth pipe I have worked over for Paresh. Once I finish the other two pipes that he has in the queue I will pack them up and send them to India. I look forward to hearing what he thinks one he has them in hand. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as this one provided a few different challenges to the restoration craft. Cheers.