Restoring a Sasieni Fantail


Blog by Paresh Despande

This large sized Sasieni was always on my mind to work on and I wanted to work on it at leisure as I wanted to do justice to this solid large piece of briar. What intrigued me was the shape of the stem towards the bore end where it flared out to a large extent which was made more pronounced due to pinching of the stem between the saddle and button end.

The pipe has beautiful, densely packed small sized birdseye grain on the right side of the stummel while the left side has a mix of straight and birdseye grains. The front and back of the stummel has densely packed cross grains. The shank has a flat bottom in the middle making it a sitter and has cross grains running across the top and bottom surface. Right and left side of the shank shows small, beautiful and densely packed birdseye. The shank, on the left side, bears the stamp of Sasieni” over “FANTAIL” and football COM stamp of “MADE IN” over “ENGLAND” towards the bowl. At the edge of the shank where it meets the stem, it is stamped “PATD- 170067”, which has been circled in red. On the right side, it is stamped “LONDON MADE” with numeral “55” towards the bowl. The stem bears the stamp “F” on the left side of the saddle. Except for the PATD number, the stampings are crisp and clear. I wanted to gain some background information about this brand and unravel some detailed information and period it was made in, about this particular pipe that I have been working on. There are three sites I frequent for information, first being Pipedia.com, second is pipephil.eu and the third being rebornpipes.com. Over a period of time, I have realized that Mr. Steve Laug has been working on pipes for such a long time that there are hardly any brands and models that he has not worked on and so, instead of reinventing the wheel, I first visit rebornpipes to eke out necessary information I seek. Luckily for me, Mr. Steve had indeed worked on a Sasieni Fantail wire rusticated and has researched this pipe. Here is the link to the blog written by him for necessary information and is a highly recommended read, https://rebornpipes.com/2017/06/07/sasieni-fantail-wire-rusticated-patent-billiard/.

I now know that “FANTAIL” is a Sasieni second line pipe and is from the “Family Era” from the period 1946 to 1979. Mr. Steve, thank you Sir for allowing me to reproduce your work in my write up. Now, that my curiosity has been satiated, I progress to my visual inspection of the pipe.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION

This large sized straight billiard has its stummel covered in dust, oils and grime giving it a dull and sad appearance. The front of the stummel has two chips and will need to be addressed. The chamber has a thick cake which has been evenly reamed to a nice thickness of a dime!!!!! Either my grand old man had learned to care for his pipe during later years or this one belonged to his friend!!!! The rim top is clean but shows some darkening along the entire surface. The inner and outer edges of the rim are intact. It has a faint sweet smelling cake. The mortise and shank is clogged and will require a thorough cleaning.It is the stem which has, comparatively, the most damage on this pipe. Both the surfaces have tooth chatter and a couple of deep bite marks. This needs to be addressed.

THE PROCESS

Now that I have moved out of my hometown for work, I sorely miss Abha’s help in cleaning the chamber and the stummel. I cleaned the chamber of all the cake by reaming it with a Kleen Reem pipe cleaner. With my fabricated knife, I scrap the bottom and the walls of the chamber of all the remaining cake taking it down to solid bare briar. To smooth out the surface and get rid of last remnant cake, I sand it down with a 220 grit sand paper. I cleaned the internals of the shank and mortise with pipe cleaners and cue tips dipped in isopropyl alcohol (99.9%). I use this alcohol as it evaporates rapidly and leaves no odor behind. The chamber is now clean, smooth and fresh smelling. The internal walls of the chamber are solid with no signs of burn out or heat fissures, which is definitely a big relief. I resorted to light sanding of the rim edges with 220 grit sand papers to remove the very minor dents and chips on the inner edges. The rim surface does show darkening all along. I address this issue and the issue of a dirty stummel by cleaning it with Murphy’s oil soap and a tooth brush. I rinse it under tap water and dried it with paper towels. Thereafter I sand the rim surface with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000. I wipe down the rim surface with a moist cloth to get rid of the sanding dust.  I address the two chips in the front of the stummel by spot filling each chip with clear CA super glue. I let it cure overnight. Next day, with flat head needle file, I sand down these fills and further match these fills with the stummel surface using 400 and 800 grit sand papers. I am satisfied with the end result. Turning my attention to the stem, I clean the surfaces of the stem with alcohol and cotton pads. I sand the stem with a 220 grit sand paper to even out the minor tooth chatter and fill the deeper tooth bite marks with CA super glue and set it aside to cure for about a day. After the glue had cured, I sanded the fills with a flat head needle file. To further match the fills with the surface of the stem, I sanded it with 220, 400 and 800 grit sand paper. I wiped the stem with cotton pad dipped in alcohol to remove the resultant dust. I rubbed some extra virgin olive oil in to the stem and set it aside to be absorbed in to stem. I polished the stem with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000. I rub a little extra virgin olive oil in to the stem after every three pads. I finish the polishing of the stem by rubbing a small quantity of Paragon wax and giving it a final polish with a soft cotton cloth. The stem is now nice, smooth and shiny. I fill the “F” stamp on the stem with whitener and carefully remove the extra smear, revealing a clear and bold stamp. Once I was satisfied with the stem repair, I started work on the stummel which has dried by now. I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to briar and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. To finish, using a cotton cloth and brute muscle power, I gave it a final polish. I re-attach the stem with the stummel. The completed pipe looks lovely, fresh and vibrant; the photographs speak for themselves. Thank you for having the patience to reach this far while reading the write up. Your comments are of utmost importance to me for improving my skills in restoration process as well as writing about it. Cheers!!!!!

PS: Apologies for poor quality of pictures. I will definitely try to work on it.

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