Daily Archives: April 3, 2018

Cleaning a Peterson Aran – aka The Curse of the Tar Monster


Blog by Dave Weagle

I know my sub-title sounds like a Scooby Doo episode from the 70’s but when you see the condition of the pipe when it arrived in the mail, my first thought was “The Tar Monster”.  Here’s the story of the restoration.

One Saturday afternoon while waiting to go out for supper I had a few minutes to kill so I grabbed my phone and went surfing Ebay for any new pipe listings.  My common searches are Peterson, Kaywoodie & Yello Bole.  When I typed in Peterson a listing appeared for a pipe lot that included two Peterson Aran pipes and a group of pipes.  The only other pipes in the lot other that I could identify from the photos were five Carey Magic Inch (the vents in the stems gave them away).  The sellers description was “Large Lot of Vintage Pipes in Used Condition.  I’ve learned that could be anything from cracked bowls to chewed stems.

Of the eight pictures that appeared in the Ebay listing, one showed both Peterson pipes.  A Canadian (needing a quick cleaning and a stem) and a Bent Billiard that appeared to be partially rusticated.  It looked like the rustication had been nicely done and both pipes appeared to be in good shape.   When the box arrived, I found each pipe was individually wrapped with bubble wrap and taped.  It was like Christmas.  Twenty- seven little presents to unwrap.  I quickly found the five Carey Magic Inch pipes but to my delight there was a GBD, a Wally Frank, a Weber, two Edwards, a few basket pipes and ten Kaywoodie’s (most older four-hole stingers).  The Petersons were at the bottom of the box and to my shock this was not a rusticated billiard.  This was an eruption of lava.  My stomach sank.  My first thought, with this much lava covering the bowl, the pipe must have been smoked hard and the inner bowl would be destroyed.  Between the condition of the bowl and stem I figured the first step was to soak both the stem and the bowl.  I removed the nickel band and placed the bowl to soak in isopropyl alcohol.  The stem actually had so much calcium buildup on it I figured it would take an evening of sanding and rebuilding just to save the stem. While the bowl soaked I mixed up an Oxy clean bath and soaked the stem.   When I pulled the bowl out of the isopropyl alcohol I took it to the sink and using 0000 steel wool I scrubbed the bowl attempting to remove the softened lava.  Some came off. I then removed the stem from its bath and took it to the sink as well.  I used a pot scrubber to remover the buildup on the stem and then using hot water and a sank brush I managed to clean the stem to the point that a pipe cleaner could pass through it.   Not to speak ill of a fellow pipe smoker but I couldn’t smoke a pipe in this condition.Next, I decide to gently scrape the bowl using the back side of my pipe knife.  I didn’t want to gouge the bowl, so I went at it slowly and took a few breaks during the process.  Once I had removed all traces of the lava it was on to sanding.  Using micro mesh pads, I started with 1500 and progressed to 12000.

It cleaned up beautifully. The grain was gorgeous.  I was beginning to feel a bit better about my newest Peterson.  Maybe it would be salvageable.  Maybe it would actually become a nice addition to my Peterson collection and not just another old beater pipe to hangout in the garage with me when I work on my trucks.Now that there was some light at the end of the tunnel, there was still the inner bowl and the stem to deal with. As I said before. I’m not sure how someone smoked this pipe.  The stem was plugged.  The draft hole was plugged.  There was still tobacco flakes still in the bowl.

Starting with my Hedge Hog I opened the bowl enough to move on to my Castleford reamer.  After reaming the bowl, I used a piece of 220 grit sand paper to level out the bowl (I lost the pics of this process).  To my surprise the inner bowl had no scars, no burns or cracks.  It was in excellent shape.  It smelled like an outhouse but was in excellent shape.  Using a 4mm drill bit, I opened up the draft hole. Next using cotton swabs, a shank brush, pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol I scrub the bowl and the shank.  After cleaning the bowl, it still stank.  My wife, actually came downstairs to ask me what I was working on.  She could smell the pipe all the way upstairs.  In the 300+ estate pipes I have worked on this is the first that could be smelled on another floor.  I guess reaming the bowl unleashed the funk.  It was off to the retort to remove the smell.  It took four test tubes of alcohol before it came out clear.After finishing with the retort, I flamed the bowl to remove any excess alcohol.The next step was to fix the damage to the stem.  The top of the P-lip was dented and the underside ridge was chewed.  Mixture of rubberized CA glue and charcoal powder was applied to stem and left to dry overnight.   The next evening after a long day it was nice to sit down by the woodstove with a coarse file and set about getting the rough shape of the stem back.  To remove the file marks I sanded the stem starting with 220 grit paper finishing with 800 grit.  I then switched to wet sanding finishing at 3000 grit.  Micro mesh pads were used prior to buffing the stem. Blue diamond was used on the buffing wheel.  Before waxing the stem the P stamped on the side was highlighted with Rub n Buff silver paste.  The bowl was also polished with blue diamond compound on the buffer.  Before waxing the bowl the band was fastened with white glue.  The band was polished with Autosol and the bowl was sweetened.And this is the finished pipe after a few coats of Carnauba Wax. Still blows me away how nice this pipe cleaned up.  Keep on pipe’n.

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