Blog by Paresh Deshpande
“………. and now make me handsome and desirable too!!!!!” This is what the sibling of the Kriswill “CHIEF”, the “GOLDEN CLIPPER” appeared to be demanding of me and who am I to refuse this lovely pipe. So here I am with all my enthusiasm to work on this beautiful pipe with mixed grains.
This was one of the pair of Kriswill pipes which was dug out by my younger daughter from the large pile of pipes, the other being Kriswill “CHIEF”. Both these beauties had an issue with their stems. The stem of the “CHIEF” did not sit flush with the shank and appeared smaller in diameter compared to the shank, while the stem of the “GOLDEN CLIPPER” sat flushed with the shank but was larger in diameter than the shank. I addressed this issue in an ingenious way and completed the restoration of the “CHIEF”. For those interested in knowing the issue of stem in detail, process to address it and the complete restoration, please follow the link https://rebornpipes.com/2018/08/04/breathing-new-life-into-a-kriswill-chief-20/. I am sure you will find it an interesting read.
My joys knew no bounds when the “CHIEF’S” stem fit perfectly like a glove in the shank of the “CLIPPER” (the time-consuming, cautious, accurate and nerve-wracking but enjoyable work of matching the stem and shank of the “CHIEF” still fresh in my mind!!!!!!). Here are the pictures of a perfectly matching stem and shank on the CLIPPER.This KRISWILL “GOLDEN CLIPPER” has a medium sized bowl with mixed grain. It is stamped “KRISWILL” over “GOLDEN CLIPPER” over “HANDMADE IN DENMARK” on the left side of the shank. At the bottom of the shank and close to the edge of the shank where it takes the stem, is stamped with number “54”.As I had determined the dating of this pipe, while searching information for the “CHIEF”, from 1970s (the snowflakes stamp on the stem and block letters on the shank were adopted post 1970), I proceeded to carry out a visual inspection of the condition of the pipe in my hand. This helps me map the road to restoring the pipe by identifying the issues involved and identify methods/ options to address the same.
INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The bowl is covered in dust, oils, tars and grime of yesteryear. It is filled with a thick cake and the lava has overflowed on to the rim. I would still say that this bowl is not as heavily caked as I have gotten used to with my grand old man’s pipes. The cake has completely dried out.The rim surface is pock-marked with few minor dents and dings of being banged around. Exact extent of damage, there appears to be some, to the inner edge will be known after the bowl has been reamed down to its bare briar. The outer edge of the rim appears to be in decent condition.The interchanging of stem with the CHIEF ensured a perfect fit of the stem on this pipe and required no matching the fit to the shank end. The stem is, again comparatively to what I have dealt with before, lightly oxidized with light tooth chatter. The lip has been bitten off at one place and will need to be rebuilt and reshaped. There is some calcification seen around the lip on either surface. As I have come to expect, the airway in the stem is blocked and the mortise is clogged with gunk, debris and tars. I will need to clean both to ensure an open draw.The stummel needs to be cleaned. I will have to decide if I should retain the stain finish or polish it to its natural look and match it to its bigger sibling, the “CHIEF”.
Abha, my wife, dealt with the cake by reaming the chamber with a Kleen Reem pipe tool and a British Buttner pipe tool. Using the fabricated pipe knife, she further scraped the cake from the bottom of the bowl and also the walls of the chamber. She was especially very careful while reaming with the knife so as not to damage the inner edge of the rim. Once the solid briar was exposed, she further smoothed the walls and removed remaining cake by sanding with a 180 followed by 220 and 600 grit sand paper. Another advantage of this process is the elimination of traces of ghosting to a great extent. She gently scraped the rim top with the sharp edge of the knife and removed the accumulated overflow of lava. Abha followed this by scrubbing the chamber walls with cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This removed the fine cake dust, leaving the chamber clean, fresh and smooth. As can be seen from the picture, after the cleaning, the dents and dings are more pronounced and will need to be addressed. Further, if observed closely, there is a small chip to the inner edge which can be seen on the right side in the 3 o’clock direction. I had the following two courses of action to choose from to address these issues:-
(a) Create a slight bevel on the inner edge to eliminate the inner edge chip.
(b) Topping the rim on a topping board.
Abha suggested proceeding with the second option since the “CHIEF” was without a bevel and as these were together, she wanted to maintain the similarities as far as possible. I concurred with her since topping will also address the minor dents and dings seen on the rim top. I gently topped the stummel on a 220 grit sand paper, frequently checking the progress. This is very important since you do not want to lose too much briar and there is always a fear of distorting the proportions of the pipe due to excessive sanding. How much sanding is sufficient, is a question to which the answer can never be quantified. For me the mantra is, topping or sanding should be kept to the minimum and preserve maximum briar even at the cost of very minute dents/ chips being visible.
I topped the bowl just enough to address the dents and dings on the rim surface. The small nick to the inner edge of the rim has also been addressed to a great extent, but not completely. It is barely perceptible in person and acceptable to me. Hence, I left it at that!!I cleaned out the internals of the shank/ mortise and airway using pipe cleaners, cue tips and isopropyl alcohol. Thereafter using undiluted Murphy’s oil soap and tooth brush, I cleaned all the tars, oils, dust and grime from the bowl and washed it under running water. I wiped it down with paper towels and a soft cotton cloth.
Using a brown stain pen (Yes!!! I finally have them, thanks to my guru, Mr. Steve who had diligently packed them with the pipes that he had sent me after repairs, when he learnt that I was unable lay my hands on them), I stained the rim to match the rest of the bowl and set it aside to dry out. In my haste to finish the restoration, I forgot to click pictures of the above mentioned process and the look of the pipe at this stage.
While the stummel was kept aside for drying, I turned my attention to the stem. Starting with the use of Bic lighter, I painted the surface with its flame to raise the tooth chatter and bite marks as much as possible. I scrubbed the stem with a piece of moist Mr. Magic Clean sponge to clean the stem of the calcification. Minor tooth chatter was addressed to a great extent, however, some stubborn and deep bite marks and the bitten off lip stood out like sore thumb!!! Having learnt my lessons and working around the handicap of glue, I spot applied clear CA superglue with a tooth pick and set it aside to cure over night. The next morning, I applied another layer of the superglue and set it aside to cure. The reason I decided to adopt this technique is because the glue I have and available to me is of very thin consistency and hence the layering technique. After 24 hours, I checked the fills and proceeded to sand down the fills and reshape the edge of the button with a flat head needle file to match the surface of the stem. Using a 220 grit sand paper followed by wet 320 grit sand paper, I evened out the fill and removed oxidation from the stem surface. Thereafter, I used micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 pads. I deeply rubbed a very small quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil after every three pads. I am pleased with the way the stem has turned out. It is now smooth and shiny.Using normal and bristled pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol, I completely cleaned out the airway in the stem till the pipe cleaners came out nice and clean from the other end. However, when I checked the draw, I found it to be constricted and laborious. It was not a free flowing and open draw. I checked the alignment of the airway in the stem and shank and realized that the airway was not aligned. With a rounded needle file, I file down the tenon hole and the mortise opening in the shank to the point where there are perfectly aligned. Now the draw is full and open.
By this time, the stain on the rim top has dried out and I applied a small quantity of Before and After Restoration balm to the entire surface of the stummel, including the rim top. This product is absolutely fantastic as it freshens up the briar and makes the grain to pop out. Using a horse hair shoe brush, I buffed the bowl. Later, with a soft cotton cloth, I polished it to a nice shine. As a final touch, I rubbed a very small quantity of PARAGON wax on to the stem and the stummel. A few seconds later, using muscle power and a microfiber cloth, I polished the entire pipe to a lovely shine. Here are the pictures of the finished pipe. Hope you enjoyed reading the write up and yes, my apologies for the lack of pictures since I had to catch a flight late in the evening to rejoin my duty station, I forgot to take pictures at this stage as completing the restoration was priority task.