Blog by Steve Laug
Recently I was contacted by a reader about restoring a couple of pipes that he had picked up at a local antique shop. It was a nice looking Art Deco style pipe with a prow and fins around the bowl. The inside of the bowl itself was oval. The pipe was made out of Maple rather than briar. The fins went around the sides, back and front of the bowl. The finish was dirty but otherwise not too bad. The cuts around the bowl were rough and unsanded with a lot of burrs around the edges of each fin. The top of the bowl was darkened and also had a buildup of lava on the back side of the bowl and some darkening on the rim top. There was a cake in the bowl and shards of tobacco stuck to the sides and bottom. There were scratches on the shank and the bottom of the bowl. The bottom of the bowl had a raised ridge across the middle which made the pipe sit upright on the desk top. The stem appeared to be vulcanite with scratches and tooth chatter on the top and underside at the button. There was a small metal stinger in the tenon. I took photos of the rim top and both sides of the stem to show the condition of both. The close up of the rim top shows the darkening one the back side of the rim top and some around the other sides. The photo shows the tobacco debris stuck in bottom and on the sides of the bowl. Both sides of the stem had tooth chatter near the button. There were no deep tooth marks so it would be a fairly easy cleanup.The first article that I quoted from in that blog came from the following blogpost on WordPress: http://streamlinesdeluxe.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/weber-streamliner-pipe-2/. The author of the blog makes a brief reference to the pipe I found (and this one by the way) and even has a picture of it. He speaks of the stem being made of something other than vulcanite. Other references I found in online pipe forums spoke of the fact that the bowl was not made of briar but of some composite material. Others said that the bowls were made of American hardwoods. Interestingly no one spoke of what hardwoods were used. I have hunted high and low on the web and can find nothing definitive on the pipe’s manufacture or composition.
I broadened my search to information on finned pipes. I did not want information on Porsche design pipes or metal finned pipes but was looking for anything on wooden finned pipes. I came across the following information on a patent taken by a carver/designer named Wayne Leser. His diagrams and patent application is included below and it can be seen that it is actually very close to CB Weber’s Streamliner. His patent was applied for through the US Patent Office in January of 1941. I assume the patent was granted as it is on the Patent website. Weber’s design seems to be elongated a bit more than the Leser design but the tear drop shape of the outer bowl and the similarly tear drop shape of the drilling match quite well.
I can find no further information on Wayne Leser so I have no idea if he sold his concept to Weber, or worked for Weber. If anyone has further information on that connection it would be great to learn about it. Please post a response below. Refreshing myself on the history of the brand gave me the kind of background information that I enjoy when working on pipes that I am restoring. I took some close up photos to show that the pipe is made of Maple wood. It also shows that the shank of the pipe I am working bears stamping on both sides. On the left side it is stamped Streamliner in script over C.B. Weber Ltd. On the right side it is stamped Wally Frank Ltd. That means that while the pipe was made by C.B. Weber it was sold and distributed by Wally Frank. I wonder if it was not one of their Pipe of the Month sales.I reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to remove all of the cake and the tobacco debris that was stuck to the walls of the bowl. I scraped the cake back to bare wood so that I could examine the walls of the bowl. There were very clean and there was no checking or burn marks.I used a folded piece of 320 grit sandpaper to smooth out the inside of each of the fins so that the sawed areas were smooth and all of the burrs left behind by the sawing of each fin were removed and smoothed out.I polished the rim top to remove the darkening and the light lava overflow. I also sanded the outside of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding debris. I took some more photos of the stem when it had been removed from the shank. You can see the scratching and wear on the top and underside near the button and other scratches up the stem toward the stinger in the tenon. I removed the stinger and took a photo of it next to the stem.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the tooth marks and chatter. I worked on it until the surface was smooth. I polished the stem surface with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine deepen the shine. I gave the pipe a final coat of Obsidian 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 lightly polish both the bowl and the stem. I buffed the bowl and stem to raise the gloss on the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the pipe 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 C.B. Weber Maple Streamliner is unstained. The grain on the Maple wood shows through on the rim, sides and shank of the pipe. The blonde maple goes well with the rich black of the vulcanite stem. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Outside Diameter: 1 1/4 inches, Diameter of the chamber: 5/8 inches wide and 1 inch long. This is an interesting pipe with an Art Deco look and a streamlined flow. The fins along the sides, front and back of the bowl act as cooling fins when the pipe is smoked. I have a second pipe to work on for Daniel and then I will mail both of them back to him. I know he is looking forward to loading it up and smoking it. Thanks for walking with me through the restoration.