Refurbishing an Ardor Mercurio Fantasy 2006 Bulldog

Blog by Steve Laug

Last week I finished up some pipes for a guy here in Vancouver and when he came to pick them up he brought some more for me to work on for him. I finished up some of the ones on the worktable so I decided it was time to work on these. The first of them is the following Ardor Bulldog. It really is a beautiful pipe. The shape, the grain the colouration, the silver/grey acrylic shank end, the silver trim band on the stem and the silver/grey stem all make this a uniquely beautiful pipe. I have worked on one other Ardor that I added to my collection. I wrote about that restoration on the blog a few years back. While it was a rusticated Urano this one is a Mecurio. Here is the link – The bowl had an uneven cake and there was some darkening on the rim top. The inside of the shank was dirty and needed to be cleaned. The silver on the stem was tarnished and dull looking. The Lucite stem had tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside of the stem near the button. There was also a tooth mark in the top of the button on the left side. I took photos of the bowl and stem to give a clear picture of the condition of the pipe before I started to work on it. I took a photo of the stamping to show what it looked like. The underside of the stem is stamped as follows – Dorelio over Rovera. Under that it is stamped Ardor over Mercurio. Under that it is stamped Italy then Fantasy. Under that is stamped Fatta A Mano and the year 2006.I did a quick review of the history of the brand by turning to Pipedia. The link there was an article that came from Italian Here is the link – I quote part of the article that gives a quick view of the brands

Ardor Courtesy of

In 1974 Dorelio Rovera, with his father Angelo, established the Ardor Pipe, name which comes from the “AR” (Angelo Rovera) and “DOR” (Dorelio Rovera), changing a medium quality level production into a completely handcrafted product, with a very high level of design and finishing.

[Editor’s Note: Angelo Rovera is the son of Francesco Rovera, who along with his brothers comprised Sociedade Rovera, a pipe company they founded in 1911.]

Dorelio personally chooses the briar which is left seasoning for at least 4 to 5 years before it is worked. It is stocked in particular baskets which leave the wood always visible and airy. The pieces chosen to become a pipe are cut with a circular saw to identify the model. Then each piece is rough hewn by hand with special files, definitely “dangerous” but very efficacious to give the shape to the wood.

Like most artisans, Ardor couples a classical style and a very original style with definite but free and fanciful lines, to offer and meet the largest number of requests, from the simple to the most complex. Ardor is a pipe company which is always looking for innovations, indispensable to collectors, but trying to offer a very high level product in the smoking aspect and performance of the briar, always dried and light for a higher comfort of the smoker.

With Damiano, Dorelio’s son, Ardor introduced the coloured methacrylate (acrylic) stems, really appreciated in the international markets. Damiano has been able to condition the Ardor style with new shapes and with a new mouthpieces style, having a modern point of view. His target is to keep up the interest of new generations, surely more variable in a shorter period.

The Ardor Urano Fantasy that I have was marked AR which told me it was made by Angelo while this pipe was made by his son, Dorelio. The coloured, interestingly shaped stems are obviously the additions of Damiano. The stems he does add a definite flair to the pipe that is unique.

I started my clean up on this pipe by cleaning out the airway in the stem and shank, the mortise and shank interior with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. It did not take as much as I expected to remove all the tars and oils in the shank and mortise. The stem had some darkening in the airway and in the slot in the stem. I used pipe cleaners to clean out the debris that had collected in the edges of the slot and the darkening in the airway.I evened up the cake on the walls of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I took the cake back to where there was a thin layer all around the bowl.I rubbed Before & After Restoration Balm into the smooth finish on the bowl and shank. The balm cleans the surface and enlivens and protects the briar. I worked it into the lines and the finish. I let it sit for a while and then buffed it off with a soft cloth and polished it. I took photos of the bowl at this point to give an idea of what it looked like at this point. I set the bowl aside and turned to address the stem. Once the repair on the top side of the stem button had cured I shaped it with some folded 220 grit sandpaper and sanded out the tooth chatter and marks on both sides.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratches in the acrylic. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I polished the silver band with a jeweler’s cloth. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave both the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I have seven more pipes to finish for him – three come from his personal rotation while four of them are some finds he made while pipe hunting. This is going to be a fun bunch of pipes to work on. I look forward to moving through the rest of them. Thanks for looking.


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