Daily Archives: September 5, 2018

Giving new life to a Kiko 343 Made in Tanganiyka Meer-lined Billiard

Blog by Dal Stanton

I acquired this interesting Kiko 343 Meer-lined Billiard in a Lot of 66 which has provided many stewards with newly restored pipes.  Aaron saw this uniquely rustified pipe in the “For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only!” page on The Pipe Steward site and commissioned it to add to his collection AND this pipe will benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria, our work here in Bulgaria helping women and girls who have been sexually exploited.  Here are the pictures that got Aaron’s attention. I’ve looked forward to working on this pipe because of its country of origin – Made in Tanganyika.  The pipe design itself gives hints of its African origin with a rustification that has a safari motif on a classic Billiard and the stem stamp of an elephant is very cool!  The briar surface also reminds me of cork – a surface that combines smooth and texture which I think is unique.  I assume the shape number 343, stamped on the lower shank, points to the Kiko’s Billiard shape.Dating the minimal age of this pipe is made easy by the fact that Tanganyika is no longer a country.  According to the Wikipedia article, in 1922 the Tanganyika Territory was taken by the British as their share of German East Africa under the League of Nations Mandate.  After WW 2, Tanganyika became a United Nations Trust Territory yet remained part of the British Common Wealth.  Claiming independence from the crown, Tanganyika adopted a new constitution in 1962 that abolished the monarchy and became present day Tanzania.  The picture to the left shows the location of Tanganyika – marked #11. This puts the date of this Kiko at no later than 1962 which gives a bit of vintage as it carries its former Commonwealth history to the present.

I posted some pictures of the Kiko during the restoration on the Facebook group, The Gentlemen’s Pipe Smoking Society, and fellow member, Jonny Mullis commented on the Kiko name that they were wonderful pipes with the animal stamping.  He also said that they were becoming quite collectible and affordable.  That was all good news to me!

The Kiko seems generally to be in good condition but carries with it some fills that I’ll need to take a closer look. The Meer-lined bowl looks solid, but I will be able to see better after cleaning it.  The rim has a fill or composite material that occupies about a quarter of the rim.  Structurally, the rim looks good and should clean up well.  The saddle stem has some oxidation and tooth chatter on the bit which needs addressing.

I begin the Kiko of Tanganyika’s restoration by cleaning the airway of the stem with pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl.  After this, I add it to a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer with several other pipe’s and their stems in the queue for restoration.  I leave the stem in the soak overnight and after fishing it out of the Deoxidizer, I wipe the fluid off with cotton pads wetted with light paraffin oil.  The raised oxidation also is removed as I wipe.  Unfortunately, the paint used for the elephant stamping did not hold.  I should have covered it!  I will need to retouch the stem stamp later.  To be on the safe side, I also use 600 grade sanding paper and wet sand the stem to remove any residual oxidation.  After this, I remember reading a Charles Lemon’s blog on Dad’s Pipes (LINK) about practices he has learned over the years, and one of them was utilizing Tripoli compound and a buffing wheel to remove oxidation.  I decide to try it out.  To do this, I mount a new, clean felt buffing wheel on the Dremel, set at the slowest speed and apply Tripoli over the stem.  It seems to work well as I’m able to concentrate on areas of oxidation – especially around the button and the curve of the saddle that are more difficult to reach.  The pictures show the deoxidation process. Turning now to the Meerschaum lined stummel, I take a picture of the chamber showing the minor cake that has collected on the Meer surface.  Unlike briar pipes, Meerschaum needs no protective cake.  Therefore, the goal in cleaning is to reveal the Meerschaum surface.  To remove the carbon, I begin by gently using the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to scrape the chamber wall.  When the crunchy texture stops as I gently scrape, lets me know that the carbon is removed.  I then follow by sanding with 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  I sand it until it is totally smooth in the chamber.  There is still darker Meer in the chamber, but to remove more simply for aesthetics is not necessary. I then wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to remove the Meerschaum dust left behind.  The Meer lining is in good shape – no cracks or crevices in the chamber – though there are some age scratches here and there. The pictures show the progress. Moving to the external surface, I use undiluted Murphy’s Soap with cotton pads to clean.  I also utilize a bristled tooth brush to work the rustification divots.  To freshen the Meer rim top, I use a piece of 240 grit paper to lightly sand and clean the Meer surface.  This enhances the appearance with the contrast between the Meer and the briar rim. I take some pictures of the cleaning process and this is when I discover a problem.  I detect a crack running from the left side of the bowl downward until it disappears when it intersects with the fill that wraps around the heel and up the right side.  The fill looks like a briar dust/CA glue patch material which I use regularly.  The same patch material quarters the rim.  These pictures show the patch material. To address the crack, my first step is to determine the integrity of the old patch material.  I will try to remove the patch material to see what is underneath.  If I can do this, then I can assess the nature of the repair needed.  The crack that is exposed appears to me to be a fresher progression of crack ‘creep’ – that has grown beyond the original patch.  This repair is straight forward by drilling a counter hole at the end of the crack to stop the creep and applying additional patch material. To test the integrity of the patch material I try to remove it by dissolving it with acetone and cotton pads.  The acetone doesn’t make a dent. These patches are solid.  I work the acetone over the rim and it has no effect on the patch material.  I’m not sure what the patch material is, but it’s not going anywhere soon!  At this point, I will repair the exposed crack and shore up some gaps I detect in the old patch material.  The rustic, craggy look is what makes this Kiko stand out and after working on the patches, I’ll seek to blend this rustic look with the finishing process.  To start, to aid me in drilling a hole at the end of the crack to arrest the crack creep, I use a magnifying glass to identify the end and using a sharp dental probe to press a guide hole.  The guide hole helps when drilling.  I mount a 1mm drill into the Dremel and drill – but not too much!  Going through the Meer lining would not be a happy situation.  The black highlighted rustification patterns, make it much easier to blend the repair. To do this, using a toothpick to run a drop off the end, I spot drop Black CA glue into the counter hole and let it cure. After filling the offset hole, using a toothpick in the same way, I run a line of clear, thin CA glue down the crack.  I use the thin CA glue because it penetrates the crevice of the crack for a solid fill.  After the CA glue cures, I spot drop clear CA glue in a few other places where there were gaps around the old patch work. With the CA glue patches curing, I turn to the stem.  Using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand the stem.  Following this, I dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  After each set of three pads, I apply Obsidian Oil to the stem to revitalize the vulcanite. I love the freshly polished vulcanite pop! With the crack patch cured, I start sanding out the excess CA glue using 240 grade paper followed by 600 grade. To bring out the natural briar shine and hue, I run the stummel through the full battery of 9 micromesh pads from 1500 to 12000.  Before I apply any dye color to the stummel to mask and blend the patches, I want to have an idea of the presentation of the briar.As expected, the briar darkened through the micromesh cycles.  There is still a lightened area around the sanded patch areas which I will blend.  I also want to blend the patches more.After applying several different dye sticks and fan blending with a cotton pad wetted with a bit of alcohol, I tried to darken the lower part of the stummel to provide more blending.  I succeeded to a degree, but not enough that would mask the patch areas.  To do that, I would need to stain the entire stummel darker and that would lose the ‘cork’ or safari appearance of this Kiko Billiard made in Tanganyika. That, I’m not willing to do.  His trademark is rough and rustic!  So, with a little embarrassment, I remember that I have not cleaned the internals of the stummel.  After some pipe cleaners and cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 95%, I now have a clear conscience.Reconnecting stem and stummel, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel, set the speed at the lowest speed, I apply Blue Diamond compound to both stem and stummel. After completing an application of the compound, I buff the pipe with a felt cloth to clean off the compound dust in preparation for the application of wax.  Before I apply the wax, I have one more project to complete.  The white elephant stamping’s paint disintegrated in the Deoxidation soak and I need to repair this very cool stamping.  Using white acrylic paint, I dab it over the elephant imprint and dab it with a cotton pad to thin it and allow it to dry more evenly.Well…, in the interest of full disclosure, none of the usual methods worked – paint, wipe while wet – paint, let dry fully, scrape off lightly….  At the end of the day, and some hours of experimentation using a paint brush, needles and toothpicks, I finally arrived at an acceptable result for me.  With a picture of the original on my computer screen to compare, I used a toothpick to ‘sculpt’ the acrylic paint onto the Elephant canvas bit by bit.  Then, before the paint dried, I scrape the unwanted portion from the canvas to shape the image.  This was not a straight forward, slam dunk process!  After many starts and restarts working with a magnifying glass to paint, I came to a place where I am satisfied.  I’m not an artist in anyone’s conversations, but through trial and error, the Kiko Elephant mosaic – it’s no longer a stamping, is not perfect, but looks pretty good.  With the Elephant again standing guard on the Kiko’s stem, I mount the Dremel with a cotton cloth buffing wheel, increase the speed to about 40% and apply a few coats of carnauba wax to the stummel and stem.  After applying the wax, I give the pipe a good hand buffing with a clean microfiber cloth to raise the shine on the unique ‘cork’ rustified stummel and stem.

The rustification on this pipe is unique.  It pulls one toward the African roots of Tanganyika, now Tanzania.  The texture reminds me of cork which by the very nature of the material is not perfect.  This Kiko wears his imperfections well – the fills, evident on the stummel surface, belong and mark the difficulties this pipe has had along the way, but now ready to go again.  The grain nuanced as a backdrop to the rustification, has subtle patterns that remind one of tiger fur.  The Meerschaum lining looks great and will provide the Kiko’s next steward the ability to enjoy a bowl of his favorite blend, and immediately reload for another smoke without the need of resting the pipe.  Aaron commissioned this Kiko from the “For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only!” page and now he will have the first opportunity to acquire it in The Pipe Steward Store and what is really good, this benefits our work, the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!


Ben Wade’s in the House, Part 2

Blog by Joe Gibson

Finished Pipes, ready for an afternoon smoke. The tobacco is last tin of out of production Viking Odin’s Wind.

Which Stem for Which Pipe?

When the Ben Wades arrived, the Martinique came with a beautiful, amber colored but transparent acrylic stem. There was a minor amount of tooth chatter near the bit, but nothing I felt the need to repair. The airway, on the other hand, was black from being smoked. The stem was tight in the mortise and didn’t readily pull out.

The Royal Grain, as I mentioned in the previous post, still had a vulcanite tenon stuck in the mortise. I decided to work on the Martinique stem first and deal with finding a stem for the Royal Grain later.

Cleaning the Perspex Stem

The Perspex stem before cleaning.

The first problem was separating the stem from bowl without breaking anything. Since I planned on soaking the bowl in alcohol, I dipped the pipe and stem in the jar and let it set for a minute or two. The stem then came off the pipe easily and I rinsed it off in clean water.

With oxidized vulcanite stems, I do an Oxyclean soak to bring the oxidation to the surface. I’ve never tried an Oxyclean bath on acrylic or Perspex stems. With those, I usually just wipe the outside down with alcohol and do the inside with pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol. The one thing you never want to do is soak the stems in alcohol. It could possibly cause “crazing” or cracks in the airway. Some

people even report stems breaking after soaking in alcohol.

Tip #1: The shank brush tool is great for cleaning tobacco residue from the bit. I find it does the job faster than just pipe cleaners.

I was hoping dipping regular, tapered pipe cleaners in alcohol would remove the discoloration from the airway and sterilize it. And it did, to an extent. After 10 pipe cleaners the airway was a little cleaner, but I could still see the old tobacco stain. I probably would have gone to my bristle pipe cleaners, but I didn’t The solution for this situation? I switched to a shank brush pipe tool. It’s ideal for cleaning the shank and  the tenon and airway of a pipe stem. I dip it in alcohol and run it through the stem until it comes out fairly clean. I follow that with pipe cleaners dipped in water.

The Royal Grain Stem Replacement. Maybe?

Initially I planned to have a stem made for the Royal Grain. Then I remembered the Preben Holm stem I had sitting in my desk. It’s a mismatched stem from a Søren freehand I bought in early August. I easily removed the broken tenon by inserted a drill bit into the airway by hand and twisting and pulling it out.

Tip #2: When buying pipes in “junktique” shops and malls, check the stems for stamps or logos. It will help you identify the pipes and may also tell you if the stem is the correct one for the pipe. I use mismatch stems as a point in talking the seller into lowering the price.

Black Vulcanite Preben Holm stem and a Perspex Ben Wade

Stems are usually made to fit the pipe it’s going with and I have never found one stem to perfectly fit a pipe other than the one it’s made for.

The Preben Holm stem fitted the Royal Grain. Maybe a tighter fit than I like, but it a fit and I can always work on the mortise or tenon to make it better. On top of that, a friend from one of the pipe forums, had a Ben Wade stem he is sending me. One way or the other I have a stem for the Royal Grain. Or, did I?


But Which Stem for Which Pipe?

So, there I was. Sitting with two clean and polished pipe bowls and two stems. I picked up the Perspex stem and inserted it back into the Martinique. And, the bowl almost slipped off the stem. The logo on the Perspex is the Ben Wade logo. This should fit.

I’m guessing that the fit was so tight at the start because both the mortise and the tenon was so dirty. Once the cleaning removed the residue, it became loose.

Just on a lark, I decided to try the Perspex stem on the Royal Grain and it slid into place easily and looked like it was made for it. I also liked the way the amber color matches to the darker finish of the Royal Grain.

I then inserted the vulcanite Preben Holm stem into the Martinique. It is a snug fit but not a tight fit. May not be the original stem, but it is close enough.

Part 1: Ben Wades in the House

© J. Gibson Creative Services. September 5, 2018

Ben Wade’s in the House, Part 1

Blog by Joe Gibson

Not Ben Wade the U.S. politician or Ben Wade the baseball player and scout, but Ben Wade pipes. Specifically, a Ben Wade Martinique and a Ben Wade Royal Grain produced by Preben Holm in Denmark.

I first saw the Martinique and the bowl for the Royal Grain at Penny’s Little Flea Market just outside of Marion, MS two weeks ago. They were tempting targets, but I passed on them for a Preben Holm Delight. I kept thinking about the Ben Wades. Finally, the wife told me to call and see if I could buy them. They arrived two days later.

Pre-cleaning Preparation

Honestly, my first thought was, “What did I get into here?” The bowls were covered in dirt and grime.

Before Cleaning. (left) Royal Grain, (right) Martinique

The bowls had scratches and I couldn’t tell how deep they were. The good news? No heavy cake and funky, sour smells. Still, I decided that best course was a 24-hour soak in isopropyl alcohol.

The Perspex stem on the Martinique had very minor tooth chatter near the bit and was dirty. It was also stuck and took a few minutes to loosen enough to pull out. Since I planned on doing an alcohol bath, I dipped the pipe and stem in the alcohol for a few minutes and allowed me to separate the two.

The Royal Grain had its own issue which I didn’t remember seeing. The mortise still had the broken tenon of a vulcanite stem still stuck in it. I resolved this issue by twisting a drill bit into the airway BY HAND. The bit dug just enough into the vulcanite that I was able to pull the tenon out. My guess is the pipe was dropped and the stem broke off because the tenon really came out easy. Finding a new stem would be a later problem.

Both pipes have some of the plateau around the rim. The Royal Grain looked like more worn down of the two, almost like the previous owner hammered the rim on his ashtray.

As I decided earlier, I dropped both pipes into containers of isopropyl alcohol and left them alone for 24 hours.

Bowl and Airway Cleaning

After the soak, I cleaned the airway and draught hole first.  My reasoning behind working on the airway, draught hole and bowl first is simple. The cake and any residue is still saturated and soft. I think this makes any reaming I have to do easier.

Using bristle pipe cleaner dipped in the same alcohol, made relatively quick work of removing cake and residue from the airway. It also opened up the draught hole. Ten pipe cleaners later and I was satisfied with the cleanliness of the airway.

Tip #1:  I use bristle pipe cleaners for deep cleaning. Be careful on Perspex or acrylic stems as the bristles can cause some scratching in the stem airway.

After sanding with 300 and 600 Grit SandpaperFor the bowl I started with my homemade pipe knife. The biggest mistake some beginning home restorers/pipe smokers make is using a pocket knife to ream the bowl. You risk damaging the briar by using a sharp knife.  In my case, I made a pipe knife from a small folding pocket knife with about a 2-inch blade. Using my bench grinder, I rounded off the point and ground down the edge until it was almost as flat as the spine. It won’t cut paper or butter.

I should point out that I don’t ream down to bare wood but ream until the cake is thin and even all the way around. I generally finish the bowl work with 320 grit sandpaper wrapped around my index finger. This smooths out the cake even more and removes even more of the cake without damage to the briar.

Pipe Surface and Finish

One of the reasons I decided on the alcohol bath was what looked like white paint specks on the Martinique. I was hoping the alcohol would dissolve the white specks. It didn’t.  After the pipes had air dried for a couple of hours, I started working over them with 320-grit dry sandpaper.

Tip #2: Protect the stamping on the briar with painter’s masking tape before starting the sanding process.

The Martinique (top) and the Royal Grain (bottom). The Royal Grain is coated with Butcher Block Conditioner

It took a little longer on the Martinique because of the white specks and the curved areas. After wiping off the sanding residue with an alcohol wipe, a second sanding of the Martinique removed all the specks and the surface scratches.  The Royal Grain, being a more smooth, flatter surface was easier to sand.

After the initial dry sanding, I started wet sanding with 600-grit sandpaper. Let me point out something here. I make the decision to wet or dry sand a pipe based on how I see the pipe at the time. Sometimes my first step is wet sanding, sometimes I don’t wet sand until I get into the finer grits of finishing sandpaper or micro-mesh pad. The theory behind the wet sanding is that it provides a smoother, glossier finish to the wood. Whether others will agree with me or not, it works for me.

By the time I worked my way up to the 12,000 grit micro-mesh pad, I had a semi-glossy appearance and both pipes felt as smooth as glass. Normally, this is where I apply caranuba wax and buff. I went one step further and applied Howard Butcher Block Conditioner to the Royal Grain. The condition contains a food grade mineral oil, beeswax and caranuba wax. Instructions were to apply with a soft cloth and let dry for 15 minutes before wiping off the excess. I used a cotton ball for the application and let it set for probably 20 minutes. I really like the color and the way the grain popped out. I resisted the temptation to do the same to the Martinique.

Next: Which Stem for Which Pipe?

© J. Gibson Creative Services. September 5, 2018