Daily Archives: March 23, 2018

Restoring a Savinelli Churchwarden 3003

Blog by Steve Laug

I finished the restoration work on Mark’s uncle’s pipes and a few of his own and sent them back to him in late January of this year. I wrote a blog on each of the restorations. They were a fun batch of pipes to restore for him. He sent me another package a few weeks ago that had just three pipes in it – A GBD Classic Straight Bulldog, a GBD 9242 Rhodesian (one of my holy grail pipes) and a long Churchwarden pipe that had originally belonged to his uncle. Each pipe had a different set of issues that would provide a variety of challenges. The Bulldog was in excellent condition other than the first ½ inch of the stem missing in chunks. The Churchwarden had a broken tenon that was still stuck in the shank. By far the worst of the lot was the 9242 pipe. When I saw it in the bag I was excited. When I took it out of the bag I was saddened at the condition of the pipe. The bowl was dirty and there was some lava and rim darkening on the top. There were a few nicks in the edges of the bowl. The finish was dirty but the grain on the pipe was really nice. If I had stopped my observation at this point I would have been quite happy.

The second pipe I chose to work on from the batch of pipes was the Churchwarden that had belonged to his uncle. The Prince shaped bowl was in decent condition. The bowl was actually quite clean on the inside but the drilling where the airway entered the bowl was slightly off to the right side of the bowl. Other than having the tenon stuck in it; the shank looked pretty good as well. The rim top was dirty and there was a burn mark on the inner bevel of the left side. The finish was dirty and there were quite a few nicks and dents on the surface of the briar. The shank was stamped on the left side with the words Churchwarden over Aged Briar. On the right side of the shank it is stamped with the shape number 3003 and next to that was the Savinelli S shield. The underside of the shank is stamped Savinelli over Italy. The stem was quite oxidized and pitted. There were tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem at the button. The broken tenon remnants were on the end of the stem. It was broken pretty close to the stem/shank junction.

Sooo… here we go on the second of Mark’s restoration projects. I took photos of the pipe to show what it looked like when it arrived in all of its tattered splendour. The bowl had some beautiful grain underneath the grime. The photos show the stem the broken tenon and how close to the shank it was snapped off. The above photo shows the damage on the rim top to the inner edge. It is a burn mark from repeated lighting of the pipe in that spot. The photos below show the chatter and tooth marks on both sides of the stem at the button.The broken tenon was stuck in the shank when I first tried to pull it so I put it in the freezer for 30 minutes. I tried again using a long drywall screw and was able to get it free with the first try. I went through my jar of replacement tenons and found one that I thought would work. It is a threaded Delrin replacement tenon. Once I had the broken tenon out of the shank I compared them and found that the diameter was the same on both.  I tried it in the mortise and found that it was a perfect fit. Even the length was correct. I flattened the broken pieces on the end of the stem with a Dremel and sanding drum and then on the topping board. I wanted a flush surface to mount the new tenon on and also to have a snug fit against the shank. The airway was not centered in the stem so I had to do a bit of fussing with it to get it ready for the new tenon. I used a sharp pen knife to flare the side of the airway that was off to get it more centered before I drilled. Once I had done that I drilled the airway with a bit slightly larger in diameter than the airway and worked to keep it both straight and centered. This is yet another time I wished I had a drill press.I followed that drill bit with one that was the same diameter as the threaded portion of the new tenon. I sanded the threads to slightly reduce the diameter and pressed it into the stem. The fit was very good. I took a photo of the stem  at this point to show the look of the new tenon.I used black super glue that had a medium viscosity so that I had time to align the stem and the shank before the glue set. Once it was aligned I took a few photos of the fit of the stem to the shank. I would need to make a few minor adjustments but considering how off the airway was the fit was quite good. I carefully removed the stem and set it aside to let the glue on the tenon set firmly. I turned my attention to the bowl. The first item of business for me was to work on the rim top. I cleaned up the flat surface of the rim with 1500-2400 micromesh sanding pads and then shaped the inner bevel of the rim with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to minimize the damage on the right inner edge. When I finished it definitely looked better. I would do a bit of finessing it once I worked on it with the micromesh pads.I decided to address the many nicks, scratches and cuts in the surface of the finish by filling them in with clear super glue. The next series of photos show the many spots on the front and bottom of the bowl.Once the repairs had dried I sanded them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them in with the surface of the bowl. I then wet sanded the entire bowl and rim with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads until the rim and the surface of the bowl was smooth and polished. I wiped down the surface of the bowl with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust between each pad. I decided to highlight the reds in the briar and finish so I stained it with a mahogany stain pen. It looks streaked and poorly applied in the photos but the story is not over yet. I am more interested in getting the bowl covered with a stain that is transparent so when I take the next step the grain will come through the finish. Of course I was in a hurry at this point to call it a night so I forgot to take pictures of the next step. I wiped the bowl down with a cotton pad and isopropyl alcohol to spread the stain and wipe away the excess. When the grain stood out and the repairs remained hidden I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I rubbed it into the finish to clean, enliven and protect the finish. I let it sit for a few moments and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. The photos below show the bowl at this point. Once the bowl was finished I set it aside to work on the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside of the stem at the button. I sanded the entire stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage and oxidation.I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratching and remaining oxidation. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad to remove the dust. I finished polishing the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to remove the rest of the scratches in the hard rubber surface. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave it several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The repairs on the finish blend in really well with the overall finish of the pipe. The new tenon on the stem works very well and is a snug fit in the mortise. It really is a nice looking Savinelli Churchwarden. There is some nice grain on the bowl. This is the last of Mark’s uncle’s pipes and it is ready to head back to Mark for his smoking pleasure. I have one more pipe to fix for him then this one and the others will be in the post back to Mark. I think it is better than it was… thanks for looking.


There and Back Again – to Bulgaria

Blog by Dal Stanton

Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star,
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sward have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on the meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known
Bilbo Baggins

These words, ascribed to Bilbo, penned by J. R. R. Tolkien in The Hobbit, captured Bilbo’s thoughts as he came over the rise and his eyes again canvassed his beloved, Shire – home again. I borrow the sentiments he so well expressed after my wife and I returned to Bulgaria, our home, after about six months traveling in the US.  We visited sponsors of our work in Bulgaria, and renewed ties with family and friends – AND not to go unmentioned, we also celebrated the addition of two beautiful granddaughters during this 6-month sprint!  Now, I’m anxious to return to the Pipe Steward work table and to dive back into a hobby I love – collecting, restoring and recommissioning pipes to worthy stewards.  And adding frosting to this cake – these pipes are sold to benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria, helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited in Bulgaria and Europe.

Sometime ago, Steve asked me to post a bit of our US adventures and I’m finally getting to it!  From September to February we traveled practically every weekend visiting sponsors and holidays to visit family in Denver, Detroit, Nashville, St. Louis and Port St. Lucie, FL, from home base in Palmetto, GA.  We flew mostly but did some road trips along the way.  Of course, pipe hunts were plotted using Google maps to locate and explore flea markets, second hand stores, and antique shops – choosing to travel off the grid and interstates when we could.  I love the hunt!  I found some nice pipes through these safaris as well as from eBay auctions.  Another source was from people who donated pipes from family pass downs and from personal collections to help support the Daughters of Bulgaria.  All totaled, if I counted accurately(!), 105 pipes were added to my ‘Help Me!’ baskets in queue to be restored and recommissioned to benefit the Daughters!  A couple of those pipes will be added to my own personal collection, but not many!

The first major acquisition was a Lot of 66 from eBay – the largest lot I’ve ever tackled!  One tries to examine the pictures provided by the seller to assess the possibilities – looking for treasures lurking here and there among all the shapes and nomenclature, and I believe I did well.  Some of the highlights of the Lot of 66 include a Gourd Calabash sculpted with a Meer bowl, Comoy’s Made in London England P510 – D billiard, Peterson’s System Standard K&P Republic 312, GBD Flame 1344 Made in France poker, Kaywoodie Super Grain 08 Dublin, Comoy’s Sunrise Volcano – H 16, Savinelli 4015 Dublin, Sculpted Imported Briar calabash, M.G.M. Rock Italy Briar 19 12 – 25 freehand, GBD International London Made London England 549 rustified rim bent bulldog, Butz Choquin Regate St. Claude France 1693 bulldog, Imperial Churchwarden Algerian Briar France, Butz Choquin Regate St.Claude France 1275 Slightly bent billiard, Kiko 343 Made in Tanganyika Meer lined, Peterson System Standard Republic 392, Abbott London Made 715 pocket pipe, Jarl Chieftan 15119 Made in Denmark billiard, Jarl 1545 Made in Denmark Dublin, Savinelli Capri Root Briar Italy 8004 rustified Canadian, Ben Wade Hand Model LONDON MADE, Savinelli Punto Oro 510ks Italy bulldog rustification, Peterson’s “Kildare” Made in the Republic of Ireland 83.  There were a few clay pipes in the Lot which I was interested in seeing.  Unfortunately, the seller didn’t do a very good job packing and these were broken!  Here’s a bird’s eye view of the Lot of 66 I saw on eBay and now in Bulgaria (the pictures aren’t great but gives an idea what I had to work with): Another special acquisition was from Dan in Butler, PA.  He and his wife knew about our work with the Daughters of Bulgaria and my restorations serve to advance it.  During our visit to Butler to speak at their church, they welcomed us into their home and Dan donated this lot of 4 pipes which belonged to his father who had passed away. He told me a bit about his father, his recollections of his dad’s pipe smoking and I’ll look forward to restoring these pipes to benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria.  I will also try to tell the story of this former steward. Not all treasures were pipes.  On a road trip taking us through Somerset, KY, we landed upon a flea market in full swing that gave a unique picture of middle America not often seen on the interstate!  After poking through 100s of tables, I came upon a Kleen Reem Pipe Tool in its original box – with mini-pipe cleaners to boot.  I didn’t have one, so I negotiated a win/win price with the crusty, bearded, table keeper and now it is added to my arsenal here in Bulgaria.  One more reaming tool acquisition was to find an older, vintage Swiss Made Pipnet Reaming tool off eBay.  Patience paid off and one came up on the auction block.  This solid heavy-duty rubber version will replace an acrylic Pipnet version – which was susceptible to breaking. Another highlight during the time in the US was reconnecting with friends.  Dave Shain, was one such friend.  Dave and I worked in Ukraine together when we were both a bit younger.  Over the years, we went in different ways but we found each other again on The Gentlemen’s Pipe Smoking Society group on Facebook.  We discovered that both of us had been found by pipes!  Dave’s endeavors go far, far beyond mine as he has been recognized for his work by the Chicagoland Pipe Collectors Club and has a cool, ‘Master of Pipes’ award hanging on his shop wall and a magazine cover and article to boot!  Dave and I shared a bowl together and reminisced about the past, present and future, around a hot wood stove in his ‘Man Shed’. He gave me a tour of his workshop – a far, far cry from my desktop operation on the 10th floor of a formerly Communist apartment block!  He also donated some promising pipes for my work with the Daughters of Bulgaria.  I left with an aging tin of October 2015, Escudo Navy De Luxe which came to Bulgaria with me.  Thanks, Dave!  It was a pleasure reconnecting with an old friend. Through all of our travels and with more eBay acquisitions after the Lot of 66, more standout pipes caught my attention (from top to bottom below):  Knute of Denmark freestyle (this may make my collection!), Savinelli Autograph 5 bamboo shank rusticated (a great acquisition – needs work but great potential), Stanwell Hand Made 56 Canadian, Pipstar Standard 06 026 Dublin sitter, Comoy’s MADE IN LONDON ENGLAND 4097 H bent bulldog, La Strada Staccato 187 Italy sculpted billiard, Italian Import Italy custom shape, Comoy’s Moorgate 102 Italy bent billiard, and a Savinelli Dry System 3621 (shown) and a Savinelli Dry System 362 (not shown below). Another group of standouts are: Brigham 103 Can. Pat. 372982 rusticated billiard, Lorenzo Savona #750 Made in Italy rusticated chimney, Sasieni The Kensington 236B Canadian Made In England, Longchamp France leather wrapped billiard, Royal Danish 995R 995 R squat tomato, Lorenzo Matera Pipe Studio 807 Italy special shape (the hourglass shape was interesting), a cool Native American Hand Carved Indian Head CHIEF Italy that I couldn’t pass up!, Whitehall Gulf Stream Imported Briar rustified Dublin, a very sweet Comoy’s Pebble Grain Made in London England 605 bent poker, and a Kiko 543 Made in Tanganyika leather wrapped saddle stem billiard.I’ve seen some autograph pipes, but I didn’t know that vanity pipes existed, especially one marked with my namesake, ‘Stanton’.  He’s not too flashy, but obviously a workhorse billiard with some nice grain peeking out.  When I saw him on the eBay auction block, I did a double-take and decided then that he was coming home to Bulgaria.  Curiosity piqued, I did a quick look up in Wilczak & Colwell’s, ‘Who Made That Pipe?’ and came up with a very clear designation: “UNKNOWN”.  He’ll clean up nicely.The last bit of sharing to conclude this, ‘There and Back Again’ blog is not about pipes but tobacco.  For Christmas, in Detroit’s suburb of Dearborn, my daughter-in-law gifted me some popular selections from Boston’s Perretti Tobacconist, the second oldest tobacconist in the US where they still create blends as you wait – free testing too (so I’ve read)! She was in Boston on a business trip and thankfully (!) did some Christmas shopping for the men in her life!  Not pictured below is one of L.J. Peretti’s more popular, signature blends which I like a bunch, Park Street. This shop is on my bucket list of places to visit one day when I make it back to Boston.  The blends are very nice and pleasurable, and I’ve enjoyed sitting on my 10th floor Man Cave balcony here in Sofia, sipping on a bowl and thinking about family and how blessed I am for it.  Thanks Maureen!Now, which pipe is first on the work table?  Hopefully, soon, I’ll let you know!  Check out The Pipe Steward when you have a chance!  Thanks for joining me and my musings. It’s good to be back home!  (Below, enjoying Park Street with my good friend – Savinelli Goliath)

An Internal Shank Repair for a Peterson Aran 50S Rustic Poker

I thought I would reblog this post by Charles as he clearly explains a method that I have used in shank repair. It is a method that provides an externally invisible repair of a cracked shank. Thanks Charles.


This pipe was sent to me for repairs recently. At first glance the Peterson Aran 50S Rustic Poker on my worktable looked to be in pretty good shape – the stem had a few tooth dents, but was not oxidized, and the stummel was clean. Even the deeply rusticated rim was free of lava deposits.


On the smooth bottom of the bowl, the pipe is stamped “Peterson” over “Aran”, then the COM stamp made up of “Made in the” over “Republic” over “Ireland”. The shape number, “50S” is stamped beside the COM.


Turning the pipe over to read the stamps, however, revealed a chuck of briar missing from the end of the shank. A crack stretched from the end of the missing chunk, through the peaks and valleys of the rustication, towards the bowl.


These closeup shots of the shank/stem face junction show how misaligned the stem had become due…

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