Daily Archives: August 14, 2018

Restoring a STANWELL # 89

Blog by Paresh Deshpande

This pipe, because of its interesting Dublin shape with a round rim, beautiful grain and it being a STANWELL, had been attracting my attention for some time now. However, I was always relegating its restoration since the condition was far worse and would require a ton of work as well as time to complete it.

After I had finished the pair of KRISWILLS, I could not think of working on any other pipe but this STANWELL!!!!!! And so, here I am with this pipe, admiring the shape, feel of the pipe in my hand and the beautiful grain that could be seen through all the dirt, oils, tars and grime.

A medium sized fancy Dublin with an oval shank, this pipe has beautiful densely packed birdseye grain on either side of the bowl with lovely cross grain extending from the front of the bowl right down the bottom to the shank end. Similarly, the grain extends from the back of the bowl up to the shank end!!!!! The flattish surface of the shank further accentuates the dense grain. No wonder then that this Stanwell is stamped as “SELECTED BRIAR”!!!!!!!! This beauty is stamped “STANWELL” in an inverted arch over “REGD No. 969- 48” over “HANDMADE” on top of the shank while on the bottom of the shank it is stamped “SELECTED BRIAR” over “89” over “MADE IN DENMARK”. The stem is stamped on the top of the saddle with a crown over “S” and on the bottom of the saddle with “HANDCUT”.All the stampings are crisp and easily readable.

I searched the net for information on this brand in general and this pipe in particular. The first site I always visit is Pipedia. I gathered a lot of information about the brand and some important snippets of information are reproduced below:

Stanwell Article from smokingpipes.com

When pipe smokers talk about pipes that are consistently great smokers, exhibit the creative and beautiful designs that exemplify Danish pipemaking and offer the best value in factory produced pipes, they are talking about Stanwell. We hear time and time again, from customers and top pipe makers from around the world, that Stanwell is the best factory produced pipe in the world. Stanwell maintains the most modern pipe making facility in the world and for many years has enjoyed some unique relationships with many legendary Danish pipe makers. In fact, Stanwell occupies a pivotal place in the history of the world-wide popularity of Danish-made pipes.

At the end of the war, briar became available again, so Nielsen began importing his own briar and started making briar pipes to compete with the English manufacturers. It must be remembered that in 1948, England was the single great center for pipe making. Therefore, Nielsen changed the name of his pipes to “Stanwell”, which sounded much more like a proper English name than “Nielsen”. He also created the horse drawn carriage logo for its English connotations. He later changed his own last name from Nielsen to Stanwell, a testament to his devotion to the pipes he made. Stanwell’s relationships with Danish pipe makers goes back to Sixten Ivarsson, who is considered the originator of modern Danish pipe making. Ivarsson was commissioned to design Stanwell shapes. In 1969, the factory was moved a town called Borup, just outside of Copenhagen to be closer to Ivarsson.

Essentially the goal of Stanwell is, and always has been, to produce high quality pipes at a price that is truly within the reach of the common man. In this they have succeeded admirably, offering perhaps more pipe for the money than any other pipe manufacturer in their price range. Stanwell pipe offers exceptional quality at a remarkably affordable price. Today it often seems that there are few options in between low cost, very low quality pipes and the handmade pipes that fetch hundreds of dollars. Stanwell manages to fill this void commendably by offering pipes close to the quality of the handmade with prices that are only slightly higher than drug store pipes.

Stanwell pipes are a must for any pipe collection. The Stanwell name is a cornerstone of Danish pipe making. In owning a Stanwell, you will not only enjoy beautifully styled, great smoking pipe at a great price, you will own a piece of pipe making history.

Now that I have some historical information about the brand, I went ahead with my attempt at dating this pipe. I had read that Mr. Basil Stevens is generally considered an authority on Stanwell pipes and so that was logical start point for me. I gathered some information from a site, https://www.scribd.com/document/45022903/Stanwell-Dating-Pricing-Information-by-Basil-D-Stevens, which I have reproduced from the above site:-

Dating Information:

1) Regd. No. stamping discontinued in late 1960s to very early 1970s. This is the Stanwell trade mark registration. The “48” indicates that the registration was made in 1948. (info rec’d from Jorgen Grundtvig, Managing Director, Stanwell A/S)

3) Up until the early 1960s only the top pipes, e.g. “Hand Cut” had the stem/mouth pieces stamped with the Stanwell logo of a crown over “S”.

6) “Handcut” stamped on black vulcanite stems have not been done since at least the 1970s and possibly earlier. (info from J.G.).

Shape “89”
Two versions of this shape number
a) Freehand, oval stem, short oval saddle mouthpiece, by Sixten Ivarsson.
b) Large pot, thin, long saddle mouthpiece.

From the above information that I have gathered and highlighted in blue, I feel that this particular pipe was from the 1960s and is a freehand made by Sixten Ivarsson. Any variation or additional information or any incorrect assessment on my part may please be conveyed through your comments on rebornpipes.com

Armed with this information, I carried out my detailed initial visual inspection of the entire pipe. This assessment helps me in identifying the issues that are seen as well as understand likely issues that may present themselves subsequently while making a mental map of the entire restoration process.

The stummel is covered in oils, tars and grime to such an extent that the bowl is very dull to look at with all the grains hidden and sticky to the touch. This will need thorough cleaning. Whether to sand the bowl with micromesh pads to bring to fore the lovely grain will be decided later. The bowl is heavily caked and has large amounts of lava overflow on top of the rim. The internal condition of the bowl and rim will be ascertained only after the cake has been completely reamed out. There is always the fear of possibility of charred rim edges or burn fissures or charred briar inside the chamber of pipes in this condition. However, the entire stummel appears solid to touch from the outside reducing the probability of any of the above possibilities being present.The short oval saddle stem is heavily oxidized with a number of light tooth chatter on both surfaces. The lips on both sides have been chewed off. I had masked both the stampings on the stem with a whitener pen, you could of course use acrylic paint or any other stuff, but I found the whitener pen to be the best option as it helps to fill the letters at a later stage. As expected, the airway is clogged and a test draw was rewarded with debris and carbon dust. This will have to be cleaned.THE PROCESS
The first step that I usually follow is the reaming of the bowl. Using a Kleen Reem pipe tool and my trusty and effective fabricated knife, Abha, my wife, cleaned out the cake from the chamber. To smooth out the inner surface of the chamber and completely remove the last traces of remaining cake, she sanded the inner surface with a 220 grit sand paper. With a sharp knife, very gently scraped the surface of the rim top and removed the accumulated tars, oils and grime.She cleaned the bowl and rim using undiluted Murphy’s Oil soap and a toothbrush. Thereafter, the bowl was washed under running tap water and immediately dried out using paper towels and a soft cotton cloth.

The stummel is now clean and fresh. Inspection of the rim and chamber revealed an intact inner edge and a perfect condition of the inner walls of the chamber. What a relief this was!!!!! The only issue was that the rim top is still blackened and an eye sore. I addressed this issue by sanding the rim and the entire stummel with micromesh pads. I very lightly and briefly wet sanded with 1500 to 2400 pads, gently wiping with a moist soft cloth to remove the dust left behind due to sanding.I dry sanded the rim and stummel using 3200 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. At the end of the dry sanding, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” with my fingers into the briar. The immediate and incredible transformation that takes place is a worthy reward for all the efforts!!! The bowl now looks fresh and attractive with the grains popping out any which way you look at the briar; it feels somewhat like DIWALI, festival of lights celebrated here in India. I polished off the balm with a soft cloth to a lovely shine. I AM ABSOLUTELY IN LOVE WITH THIS PIPE!!!!!Turning my attention to the stem, I started by sanding the stem with a 220 grit sand paper. I was especially careful around the edges and the stampings. Using the crisp edge of the folded sand paper, I reshaped the buttons and sanded it to even out the surface. Thereafter, I sanded the stem with 320 and 440 grit sand paper. To finish the stem I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with moist cloth after each pad and rubbed olive oil into the stem after every three pads. I carefully removed excess whitener from the stampings. The stem is now looking nice and shiny with crisp stampings. Having addressed the “appearance” aspects of this beauty, I turned my attention to the “performance” aspect to ensure that this beauty smokes as well as it looks. I thoroughly cleaned the shank internals using shank brush, pipe cleaners, cue tips and isopropyl alcohol. The stem airway was cleaned using regular pipe cleaners and also bristled ones dipped in alcohol. The airway is now clean and the draw is full and open.

To complete the restoration, I rubbed a minute quantity of PARAGON WAX on the stummel and the stem. After a few seconds, using muscle power and a microfiber cloth, I polished the entire pipe to a lovely shine. Can’t wait to load and fire up this stunning piece of briar!!!! The finished pipe is shown below and yes… for the curious reader, the prop is not Beer filled mug, but a Beer mug filled with GREEN TEA!!!!! Thank you for your valuable time spent in reading my amateurish chronicle.