Restoring an Old-Vic 8523

Blog by Paresh Deshpande

The next pipe that I decided to work on is a smallish beautiful bent Dublin shape with unique hexagonal  giving the appearance of a honey collection cell in a beehive. These are definitely not hand crafted rustication as the perfect geometry, details and alignment of these tiny hexagons is difficult to achieve by hand. But, nevertheless, it is one handsome looking pipe!!!!

As described above, this dude has these rustication all over the stummel and over the round shank, save for a smooth portion on the bottom of the shank which bears all the identification marks of this pipe and the rim top which looks amazing. It is stamped on the left corner of the shank with “Old-Vic” in with old style curls. The end of the letter “c” curves back in a linear fashion and underlines up to the letter “d” in the name Old , before fading off gradually. Old-Vic is followed by “# 8523”. Just below the number and starting from the end of the letter “c” in Old-Vic, it is stamped as “CENTURY OLD” over “BRIAR ITALY”. Towards the right end of the shank and mid way, it bears the stamp “BURL GRAIN” in an arch over a very faint stamp which I could not make out. The vulcanite saddle stem is of high quality and is stamped on the left side of the saddle with “OLD-VIC”.Not much is known about this brand other than that these were made by LORENZO and hence the Italian connection. I have to concede that Italian pipes are very desirable looking with perfect proportions and beautifully crafted. I had even made an attempt to know more about this line of Lorenzo pipes by emailing Lorenzo’s American distributors, but have no response from them since last 15 days. Mr. Dal Stanton, if you are reading this piece, please enlighten me with your MANTRA for making these guys respond!!!!!!!!!!!

As is commonly seen on rusticated or sandblasted pipes with some serious age on them, the crevices in these are always filled with dust, dirt, oils, tars and grime from all the years of smoking and storage. This Old-Vic is no exception to this observation. The small hexagonal pockets are filled with dust while the smooth bottom of the shank is covered in dust and sticky grime. The fact that the hexagonal patterns are dirty and filled with dirt is accentuated more due to a very dark reddish brown stain on the stummel and the shank. The briar is looking lifeless and bone dry and has taken black hues. The bowl is narrow and tapers down towards the draught hole. The chamber is so filled with cake that I am unable to reach the bottom of the bowl with my little finger. The build-up of the cake is more heavy in the bottom half of the bowl. The mortise is full of oils and gunk and air flow is restricted. The rim top is smooth and the grains are accentuated with a lighter stain, which can be seen through the overflowing lava. The inner and outer edge of the rim is in pristine condition with no dings or dents. The vulcanite stem is so heavily oxidized that it appears brown in color!!!! Some light tooth chatter is seen on both surfaces of the stem towards the lip. This issue should not be a major headache to address. The lip edge on both side is crisp and without any damage. The quality of vulcanite is good. THE PROCESS
I started this project by removing the cake from the chamber and cleaning it. However, no sooner did I start, I realized that my Kleen Reem pipe reamer would not fit in the chamber. The cake was so densely packed and thick that my British Buttner reamer could get damaged. So, the only option left was my fabricated knife!!!!  It was laborious, but the task was accomplished. I found the chamber to be solid and without any heat fissures or cracks. To finish the chamber, I used a folded piece of 150 grit sand paper to sand the inner walls. This was followed by 220 and 400 grit sand paper and now we have a smooth and even surface on the walls of the chamber, ready for taking on a fresh layering of carbon cake!!!!! I wiped the rim top with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This helped me to get rid of all the overflow of lava as well as the dirt and dust that had accumulated on the rim surface. This was followed by cleaning the mortise with cue tips, pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This further eliminated all the traces of old smells from previous usage. Now, it was the turn of the stummel to get cleaned up. Using a hard bristled tooth brush dipped in undiluted Murphy’s oil soap, I very deliberately scrubbed through all the hexagonal patterns, cleaning them thoroughly. I cleaned the rim too. The stummel and rim top was dried using paper napkins and soft cotton cloth. I set the stummel aside to dry out naturally.While the stummel was drying, I worked the stem. In order to address the minor tooth chatters, I flame the surfaces of the stem with a Bic lighter. This brings most of the tooth chatter to the surface. For a better blending, I further sanded the entire stem with 220 followed by 400 and 800 grit sand paper. This helps to reduce the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with alcohol after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil. The internals of the stem was cleaned out using alcohol and pipe cleaners. The finished stem is shown below. I wanted to highlight the grains on the rim top as well as enhance the contrast with the rest of the pipe. To achieve this aim, I sand down the rim top using micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. The rim top now has a deep shine with grains popping out and now with a magnificent contrast with rest of the stummel. Once I was satisfied with the stem and rim top restoration, 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.


2 thoughts on “Restoring an Old-Vic 8523


      Sir, I intend to smoke a blend from Kings Smoking pipes and cigars what they call “King of Spades”. It’s a medium English blend.


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