Daily Archives: November 25, 2018

Reviving a Custom-Bilt Rusticated Panel


Blog by Dal Stanton

I acquired this Custom-Bilt Panel in the Lot of 66 which I won on the eBay auction block some time ago.  The Lot of 66 has been good to me as it has produced many good, collectible pipes.  Stephen,from Bowling Green, Kentucky, saw the Custom-Bilt in my For ‘Pipe Dreamers’Only! collection on the website and sent me an email asking to commission the Custom-Bilt as well as a very nice Comoy’s Made in London, England Bent Bulldog. In the email Stephen wrote,

I actually have a Tinderbox pipe (by Comoys) on that shape, although at some point it has had a new stem put on. It’s a terrific smoker. And I have several Custom-Bilts from various eras, and love the pipes. Looking forward to seeing the finished pipes down the road!  I enjoy getting to know the pipe men and women who love pipes and I’m happy that this Custom-Bilt Panel, that snagged Stephen’s attention, will also benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria, our work here in Bulgaria helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Here are a few of the pictures that got Stephen’s attention in Pipe Dreamers. The nomenclature is on the lower smooth panel.  On the underside of the shank is cursive ‘Custom-Bilt’ with the hyphen separation.  On the underside of the bowl is stamped ‘IMPORTED BRIAR’.  After looking at the pipe on the work table, I also found a ‘O’ stamped on the upper right side of the shank, bordering the stem.  I’m not sure what this is if anything – an anomaly or the rustication tool gone awry!  On a hunch, I look back at Pipephil.eu and I see what I missed the first time I looked.  The circle in the picture above is a marking listed as having appeared on some Custom-Bilt pipes.  It does not indicate which period or production lines each marking indicates. The information from Pipephil.eu about the multiple transitions in ownership of the American pipe name, Custom-Bilt was to the point:

Chunky bowls with rough carving or gouges.

Tracy Mincer stopped making Custom-Bilt pipes in the early 1950s. The trademark was successively bought by Leonard Rodgers (1953), Consolidated Cigars (1968) and Wally Frank Co. (early 1970s). The later began to produce again his version of the pipe in 1974 or 1975 at Weber pipe factory (NJ). In 1987, the pipes were made out of the Butz-Choquin factory (France) and then Mexico until the late 1990s. Currently (2010), the Custombilt name is owned by Tobacalera of Spain which is part of Altadis.

It is generally admitted (but not proved) pipes stamped “Custom – Bilt” (with the hyphen) are from the Mincer era. The name might have changed from Custom-Bilt to Custombilt (without the hyphen) in 1946.

If this information is accurate regarding the inclusion or exclusion of a hyphen indicating the period of manufacturing, the Custom-Bilt in front of me could be from the Mincer period and if so, could be dated from 1946 or earlier.  This is helpful information regarding the dating.

The pipe itself seems to be in solid condition.  The characteristic rustified, roughed-up surface of this Custom-Bilt pipe is darkened from grime and needs a thorough cleaning.  The chamber looks good with a thin cake build up.  The rim is in good shape but is darkened from scorching over the years.  The stem has mild oxidation and light tooth chatter and a compression on the lower bit, next to the button. I notice too, that the stem fitting may be a bit loose.  We’ll see how that shapes up after cleaning.  Overall, no major challenges are detected. 

I begin what should be a straight forward restoration of this Custom-Bilt Panel by cleaning the stem’s airway using a pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95%.  I then add the stem to a Before & After Deoxidizer soak, along with other pipes and stems in queue.  After several hours soaking, I remove the stem and allow the Deoxidizer to drain and then wipe off the raised oxidation with cotton pads wetted with alcohol.  I follow this with a cotton pad wetted with light paraffin oil that helps condition the vulcanite.I then turn to the stummel and use the Pipnet Reaming Kit to clean the light cake in the chamber.  The chamber is not deep but wide and I use 3 of the 4 blades heads available.  I then transition to the Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Tool and scrape the chamber walls further. Finally, I sand the chamber by wrapping a Sharpie Pen with 240 grit paper.  To clean the carbon dust, I wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  After inspection, the chamber shows now signs of heat damage.  The pictures show the progress. Now turning to the external surface, I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap to scrub the rustified surface.  To get into all the nooks and crevices I also use a bristled tooth brush.  I also use the brass wire brush to work on the rim scorching.  The pictures show the progress. With the externals clean, I turn to the internals of the stummel using pipe cleaners and cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 95%.  Long shank brushes also prove to be helpful.  I scrape the mortise wall with a dental spatula to remove old oil and tar buildup.  Using a drill bit about the same size as the airway, I hand turn the bit and this also removes more buildup on the airway wall.  The pictures show the tools of cleaning. With my day ending, I continue cleaning the Custom-Bilt by giving it a kosher salt and alcohol soak through the night to work on the tars and oils absorbed into the briar.  I first stretch and twist a cotton ball to act as a ‘wick’ inserted down the mortise and airway.  This ‘wick’ draws the tars and oils from the mortise.  I then fill the bowl with kosher salt, which doesn’t leave an aftertaste, and I give the bowl a shake to disperse the salt.  After placing the stummel in an egg cart to stabilize, using a large eyedropper I fill the bowl with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt.  After few minutes I top off the alcohol which has absorbed into the pipe.  I put the pipe aside and turn off the lights. Rising with the sun, I go to the worktable and the salt and alcohol soak has done the work as hoped.  Both the salt and the wick are discolored with the extraction of the tars and oils.  I dump the expended salt in the waste can and wipe the chamber with paper towel to remove the salt.  I also run a shank brush through the mortise and airway followed by blowing through to clear salt crystals.  To make sure the cleaning is thorough, I dip a cotton bud and pipe cleaner in isopropyl 95% and run them through the mortise again and I’m satisfied all is clean.Looking again at the stummel, I’m not satisfied with rim – still darkened and scorched looking.  To protect and maintain the Custom-Bilt rim’s rustication I don’t want to sand.  I decide to return again to the brass wire brush, without any cleaner solvent and leaving the surface dry, I brush the rim rotating the brush around the rim so that my movement is parallel with the rustication cuts.  This dislodges more carbon stuck in the ridges.  I think it did do the trick.  Pictures show the before and after. Before putting the stummel aside to work on the stem, I apply a coat of light paraffin oil to the rustified stummel surface to hydrate the wood. The oil is thin enough to seep into the crannies of the classic Custom-Bilt rustication using a cotton pad. After thoroughly applied, I put the stummel aside to absorb and dry.I now look at the stem again.  It has minor issues on the lower bit (second picture) with a bite compression on the button and on the bit.  There is also a small bite compression on the edge (third picture). To address these, I first use the heating technique using a Bic lighter and painting the compression areas.  The flame heats the vulcanite, a rubber compound, expanding it and causing the compression to lessen or minimize.  The heating method helps in this case leaving the compressions to be easily sanded out. Using a flat needle file, I file the button area refining the button upper and lower lips.  I follow by erasing the file scratches by using 240 grade paper on upper and lower bit.Following the 240, I erase the 240 scratches by wet sanding the entire stem with 600 grade paper followed by buffing the stem with 0000 steel wool.I move directly to the micromesh process by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of three, I apply Obsidian oil which the vulcanite drinks in, revitalizing the stem. With the stem waiting in the wings, I turn again to the Custom-Bilt stummel and take another look.  What’s bothering me I realize is the black ring on the inner lip of the rim.  It continues to carry the charred look to the rim.  Without bothering or diminishing the rustication on the rim, I decide to create an internal bevel to remove the darkened wood thus helping to lighten the rim and make it look sharper.  I first use 240 grade paper tightly rolled to remove the heavy charring then follow with 600 grade paper to sharpen the bevel.  I like the rim presentation much better now.  The pictures show the adjustment. I’ve been learning through my research that the hallmark of the Custom-Bilt ‘look’ is rough and big.  This Custom-Bilt isn’t a large pipe, but he is rough with the classic Custom-Bilt rustication that is a consistent technique used in the C-B manufacturing.  I found it interesting that ‘smooths’ are the rarer and more collectible Custom-Bilts according to the Pipedia article.  Yet, the C-B rough look has a certain appeal.  To me, what causes a rustication motif to look classier is when the patches of smooth briar across its landscape are shined and buffed up in nice contrast.  To me also, every peak of a rustication ridge or ‘mountain top’ is smooth briar, not just the underside nomenclature panel and the shank panels.  To shine the peaks and panels, I take the top two thirds of the micromesh pads (3200 to 12000) and dry sand the entire stummel.  The first 3 pictures mark the stummel before using micromesh pads.  I pad sanding ‘lights up’ the rustication patterns and nuances a bit more softness to the rough look. Next, I use Before & After Restoration Balm to condition the rusticated bowl.  The challenge will be to work the Balm into the nooks and crannies and make sure it is absorbed.  I put Balm on my fingers and work the Balm in the rough briar.  After its covered well, I let it sit for a few minutes then begin wiping and buffing using a microfiber cloth.  Wow!  The Balm does a great job enriching the briar.  It looks great. Next, I reunite stem and stummel and mount a cotton cloth wheel on the Dremel and set the speed at about 40% full power and I apply Blue Diamond compound to the entire pipe.  With the 1-inch buffing wheel on the Dremel, I’m able to navigate through the cuts, crannies and gullies of the rustication flow pretty well.  This minimizes the concern for the compound to ‘gunk up’ in the rustication.  After completing the application of Blue Diamond compound and buffing the stummel with a felt cloth to remove compound dust, I do detect some ‘gunking’ in some of the crannies.  Using a stiff plastic brush, I brush the stummel to dislodge the compound.  To make sure the stummel is clean and ready for wax, I use a small felt buffing wheel to work into the nooks and crannies of the rustication – this does a great job and further buffs up the briar.  Nice.Again, I mount the Dremel with another cloth buffing wheel, increase the speed to about 50% full power. This is a little more RPM than normal for waxing.  I want to generate a little more heat than normal with the additional RPM to be sure the wax liquifies well into the briar.  This will assure an even application and avoid (I hope!) the wax from gunking up in the crannies.  I apply carnauba wax to the stummel with a light touch.  To avoid wax getting lodged in the rustication, I apply wax sparingly and rotate the Dremel buffing wheel to navigate through the crevices.  I apply several coats of carnauba to stem and stummel and follow by giving the stummel both a good buffing with a microfiber cloth and a brushing with a horse hair shoe brush on the stummel.

This probable 1940s/50s Custom-Bilt Panel came out much nicer than I was expecting. I’m drawn to the mountain-like landscape of the stummel. Cleaning and hydrating the briar along with bringing the rustication through a polishing regimen resulted in transforming an interesting pipe with rustication into an eye catching classy piece of sculpted briar – that just happens to be a Custom-Bilt, thank you.  One additional small change that made a big difference in the final look was the internal rim bevel.  The residual darkened rim from former scorching was helped immensely not only by the rigorous cleaning, but also cutting a simple internal bevel.  In the finished pipe (as shown in the first picture below), that bevel’s high polish now sets off well the rusticated rim – to me, a very classy addition for this Custom-Bilt Panel.  Stephen commissioned the Custom-Bilt Panel to add to his collection of C-Bs and will have the first opportunity to acquire it in the Pipe Steward Store.  The best part is what follows – that this C-B benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

 

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The Challenge Continues… Restoring a Vintage Era GBD


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

As I had remarked earlier in my write up on the late 1850s era FIRST CHOQUIN, A METZ (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/11/17/a-challenging-restoration-of-vintage-era-first-choquin-a-metz/),I could not contain my curiosity to open the third, and the last, box of my inherited pipes. In addition to the regular collection of Barlings, Charatans,Comoys and other assorted collection, I came across two pipes which caught my fancy!!!!!

The pipe on the left bears a football stamp that reads “CHOQUIN” over “A METZ” and the one on the right side simply reads “GBD”  (there are other stampings on the silver ferrule, details of which will be highlighted when it comes up for restoration). Both of these pipes looked vintage and unique enough that I immediately Facetimed with Mr. Steve of rebornpipes. His admission that he is willing for a trade off with me for these two pipes was an indication enough for me to know and understand their uniqueness!!! Thus these two pipes moved to the top of my unorganized and chaotic list of restoration. 

Having now restored the CHOQUIN and experienced the challenges that these vintage pipes pose, I was faced with a dilemma of whether I should consider restoring the GBD or take a break and restore another unique and interesting pipe. Mr. Steve suggested the latter and hence I decided to undertake the restoration of the GBD amidst my hectic schedule.  

This GBD is a long and large pipe with a fairly large and deep smooth briar bowl and a steeply raking shank, the end of which is adorned by a sterling silver ferrule.The horn stem is connected with the shank by a long and hollow Albatross wing bone extension having sterling silver end caps at either end, most probably to strengthen it. The stem attaches itself to the wing bone extension by screw-in type tenon which is attached to this extension. The bowl is stamped on the left side of the shank as “GBD” in an oval encirclement and is the only stamping seen on the stummel. The Sterling silver ferrule at the shank end bears the oval stamp of “GBD” over “M R C LTD”,all in separate squares, over a rhombus which in all likelihood, enclosed the faded number “925” for Sterling silver. For its age, the stamping is crisp and clear.

The large bowl shows beautiful, densely packed birdseye grain on the right side and extending to the front of the bowl,while a combination of tightly packed straight and cross grain adorns the left side and back of the bowl. The shank on the bottom surface appears to be divided into two exact halves, the right side with closely packed birdseye while the left side has tight straight grains. These grains on either side of the shank extend neatly in a straight line to the front of the bowl dividing the grains in symmetrical equal halves.

I searched Pipedia for information on this brand and this model in particular. Even though I could neither find any pictures or mention of this particular pipe that I was working on, I did find some important snippets of information which helped me making an intelligent guess as to the vintage of the pipe. I have reproduced the information that I had gleaned from Pipedia:

A HISTORY OF GBD

In 1850 three gentlemen got together in Paristo establish a firm dedicated to the fabrication of Meerschaum pipes – a courageous step in politically restless times. Ganneval probably came from the area of Saint-Claude where he had learned making wooden pipes. Bondier’s family obviously came from Paris and had immigrated in 1789 to Geneva. He himself had worked as a wood turner in the clay and china pipe industry in and around Saint-Claude making stem extensions etc. Donninger was an Austrian or Swiss and had worked in Vienna, the world’s center of the Meerschaum pipe. They agreed on the acronym GBD selecting the initials of their surnames.

There is a very simple explanation for GBD’s program to turn more”British”: GBD became a British company soon after the turn of the century! In 1902 Marechal and Ruchon sold GBD to A. Oppenheimer & Co.in London.

The business relation to GBD in Paris began as early as 1870. Being the most important customer in the English speaking world, Oppenheimer & Co. were designated as sole distributor for Great Britain, the USA and Canada in 1897.Especially Adolphe Oppenheimer had a burning interest in the pipe business, and Louis’ son James Adler shared that. He should play the most important role in the amicable merger of GBD. A. Marechal, Ruchon and Cie. in Paris was now Marechal, Ruchon & Co. Ltd. (see Marechal Ruchon & Cie. page) – a British firm with four directors: Adolphe Oppenheimer and James Adler had their seat in the head office in London while Auguste Marechal and Ferdinand Ruchon went on leading the GBD factory in the Rue des Balkan in Paris, which was considerably extended and modernised. Ruchon acted as CEO.

Marechal Ruchon & Cie. was a company owned by Auguste Marechal and Ferdinand Ruchon (“& Cie” is the french equivalent of “& Co”) which owned the GBD brand from the end of the 19th century until 1902 when they sold Marechal, Ruchon & Cie. to Oppenheimer Pipe,which in turn changed the name of the company to Marechal, Ruchon & Co., Ltd. Upon the creation of Cadogan, however, the brand was no more, remembered only in the name of the GBD Marcee pipes made until just after the Second World War.

Cadogan Investments Limited is a subsidiary of A. Oppenheimer& Co. Limited. It was formed by Oppenheimer Pipe in 1920 as a holding company for its many recent acquisitions, including BBB,Loewe & Co.,two pipe factories in St. Claude and others. It continued to acquire pipe brands and makers for decades, adding GBD and others to their marquee.

It is from the last two paragraphs above, that I can judge that this pipe was made somewhere between 1902 and 1920!!!!!!

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION

The large, deep chamber shows a decent amount of cake build up with overflow of tars and tobacco oils on the surface of the rim top. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber will be ascertained once the cake has been reamed back to the bare briar. The inner and outer edges of the rim show a few odd minute dings. Once I have scraped the lava overflow from the rim top, I shall decide on the method to tackle them and may even decide to let them be. I do not envisage any major surprises inside the chamber as the bowl feels solid to the touch from outside.Air flow is laborious and constricted through the shank and will improve once the internals are cleaned.

The surface of the stummel is covered in oils and tars from the overflowing lava and is sticky to the touch. There are a few dings to the surface of the stummel, more particularly near heel of the bowl and bottom surface of the shank. Should I address them by sanding, I am not sure, as I fear losing the patina during the abrasive process of sanding with sandpaper.

While I was handling the stummel, I realized that the sterling silver ferrule at the shank end had come loose. I removed the ferrule and what was revealed turned my stomach inside out. The glue was hard and dry and the briar had totally dried out and the shank end opening was uneven. I could even make out one small crack running down from the lip of the shank opening. Talk about challenges!!!! This will have to be addressed without fail.

The Albatross wing bone extension is dirty and covered in dirt and grime. There are two superficial cracks on either side near the shank end. I        know these cracks are superficial as the bone surface around it is solid and without any give. These cracks will have to be addressed. The sterling silver end cap towards the tenon end has a flared out rim which is uneven. This causes the bone stem to sit unevenly on the rim. Air flow through the shank extension is clean and full.

The horn stem shows some minor tooth chatter on both the top and underside, but more prominently on the top surface. This should be taken care of by sanding with a 220 or higher grade sand paper. All in all, the stem appears to be pretty solid. The edge of the lip on both upper and lower surface is slightly damaged and will need to be sharpened. Air flow through the stem is open and full.

The sterling silver ferrule and bone shank end caps are deeply oxidized and show the patina normal for its age. Once they are cleaned and shining they will add a class to this pipe.

THE PROCESS

I started the process of restoration by reaming the chamber with size two of the PipNet reamer head and progressing through to size three. I followed up the reaming with scraping the remnants of the cake from the walls of the chamber and the rim top surface with my fabricated knife.Once the cake was reamed back to the bare briar, I used a 150 grit sand paper followed by 220 grit sand paper to remove all the traces of remaining cake and also to smooth the inner walls of the chamber surface. Finally, to remove the carbon dust, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 99%. I gently scraped the rim top surface with a sharp knife. Removing all the cake from the chamber and rim top revealed that firstly, the rim was well rounded with no charring and only a minor chip and secondly, as I had anticipated,there was no damage to the inner walls of the chamber.

With 220 grit sand paper, I cleaned the internal and the external surfaces of the shank end opening, which until now was covered by the sterling silver ferrule, to remove all the carbon build-up, oils, tars,grime, dried briar wood and the dried glue. This process results in even more dried briar crumbling off, leaving behind a gaping hole. This needed to be restored as the damage is to that portion which supports the Albatross wing bone extension where it sits in to the shank. I conferred with Mr. Steve and it was decided to reconstruct the damaged portion by layering the gap with superglue and briar dust as the glue hardened immediately on coming in contact with the briar dust.

Before beginning the reconstruction of the broken shank end, I cleaned the internals of the shank, using hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners, q-tips, shank brushes, all generously dipped in isopropyl alcohol. The pipe cleaners would not pass through the mortise airway and the draught hole and so had to resort to more invasive methods. I straightened a paper clip and curving it, probed the insides of the mortise and the airway. After some efforts, I was able to dislodge the block. I scraped the inner walls of the mortise with a fabricated dental spatula. I gave a final cleaning with pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol till the pipe cleaners came out, well, clean!!!  The heap of pipe cleaners and q-tips that are seen in these pictures are just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. I must have gone through an entire packet of 50 of both types of pipe cleaners, in addition to the q-tips and brush cleaning!!!!!

I, thereafter, began the process of reconstructing the broken portion of the shank end. I folded a pipe cleaner to fit snugly in to the opening of the shank end. Once I was satisfied with the fit, I smeared the pipe cleaner with Vaseline jelly and inserted it in to the opening.I applied first layer of superglue and pressed a little briar dust over it and let it set for a few minutes. This is followed by another layering and continued this process till I was satisfied with the reconstruction. I set the stummel aside overnight for the reconstruction to cure.

As the shank end reconstruction was curing, I initiated the repair and clean up of the Albatross wing bone extension and the horn bone stem. I cleaned the internals of the wing bone extension and the horn stem with bristled and normal pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol.Once the internals were clean, I cleaned the external surface of the extension with cotton swabs dipped in Acetone and finely applied superglue over the superficial crack. This was done primarily to stabilize, strengthen and prevent further spreading of the superficial crack and obviate any chances of air escaping from these cracks in future. I set the wing bone extension to cure overnight along with the shank end repair.

As I had remarked during my initial visual inspection, I felt that the tooth chatter on the lower and upper surface of the horn bone stem should be taken care with sanding it down with a 220 grit sandpaper. How wrong was I! After sanding the upper and lower surfaces of the horn stem, I realized that the tooth chatter was deeper than I had anticipated and would have to be addressed with a fill of clear superglue. And so I filled these tooth chatters with superglue and the stem too joined the ranks of the shank end repair and wing bone extension on the rack for curing overnight.

The next evening, after a hectic and tiring day in office, I decided to work on the shank end reconstruction. I filed the external repaired area with a flat head needle file and carefully matched the profile of the fill with that of the surrounding area so as not to adversely affect the fit of the ferrule at a later stage. I frequently checked the progress by fitting the ferrule over the shank end. I achieved a perfect profile match by sanding the shank end with a used 150 grit sand paper. Once the external profile was matched, I worked on the internal adjustment of the reconstruction to match the seating of the wing bone extension in to the mortise using a round needle file. I frequently checked the seating of the extension in to the mortise and making necessary adjustments by filing till I was able to achieve a perfect fit. To be honest, it was not as easy as it appears while reading it.The amount of time and concentration required cannot be described in words.

Staying on the stummel restoration, I cleaned the external surface of the stummel and the rim top surface with undiluted Murphy’s oil soap and a hard bristled toothbrush and rinsed it under running tap water, taking care that water does not enter the chamber and the mortise. I dried the stummel using paper towels and soft, absorbent cotton cloth and set it aside to dry out naturally. The beautiful grain really stands out at this stage with the symmetrical division of grains on the lower surface of the shank, more distinct and clear. It is easily one of the best grained pipes that I have in my collection. Somehow, I was not satisfied with the way the rim top surface had cleaned up and I again sought the advice of my mentor, Mr. Steve, and received his reply, in his peculiar style, as “I would”, that’s all he had remarked!!!!!!

And so my initial plan for not topping the rim top was shelved and I decided to carefully top the rim surface. This would also help to address the one single chip on the rim’s top surface and also to remove traces of lava overflow. I topped the rim surface with 220 grit sand paper.Though it is recommended to have a wooden board with the 220 grit sand paper firmly fixed over it, I just keep the sand paper on a flat table top, holding it firmly with my left hand and rotating the stummel rim top over it with my right hand. I have come to realize that this set up gives me lot more freedom of movement, better control and convenience of storage. The single chip was addressed to a great extent, but was still an eye sore. Using a folded 150 grits and paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger, I created a very light bevel to mask the chip. Though the bevel is not easily discernible, it helped address the issue of the chipped rim inner edge.

I followed it up by micromesh polishing pads,wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads. Again, I wiped the bowl with a moist cotton cloth after each pad. I used the 3200 to 12000 grit pads to dry sand the stummel to a nice shine. It was at this stage that DISASTER struck!!!!! The stummel slipped from hands and crashed to the ground, shattering the reconstructed shank end and sustain a big ding to the heel of the stummel. Oh my!!! What agony it would be to reconstruct,re-profile the exterior and readjust the seating of the extension in to the mortise. But at this stage of restoration, I was left with no recourse but to reconstruct.

 This time around, I slightly tweaked the process. I wound a cotton rag around the complete stummel, less area to be repaired, so that the glue and briar dust does not spill over rest of the stummel and create more work for me. I completely sanded the earlier reconstructed portion and applied a layer of superglue and let it cure for a few minutes. Once the glue had hardened, I applied second layer of super glue and pressed some briar dust over it. I repeated this process of layering till I had achieved a matching top surface. I applied a final layer of superglue over the complete reconstruction and set it aside to cure overnight.

The next evening, I worked on the wing bone extension and the horn stem. I sanded the fills on the shank extension and the stem with a 220 grit sand paper. I sharpened the edges on the lip with the help of a flat head needle file and a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. When the fills were matched with rest of the surface, I progressed to micromesh polishing, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the shank extension and the stem with a moist cloth after every pad and rubbed a little extra virgin olive oil on the surface after every three pads. The Albatross wing bone extension and the horn stem is nice, smooth and clean. The wing bone extension has retained its natural coloration and there is nothing one can do anything about it. I finished the restoration of the wing bone extension by polishing the sterling silver end caps with cigar ash. At this stage, the entire assembly of the extension and screw-in type of bone stem looks beautiful, smooth, shiny and classic. I call it a day and decide to work on the stummel the next evening.

I start work on the stummel by filing the external surface with a flat head needle file and go through the entire process described earlier to match the exterior and internal surface with the sterling silver ferrule and seating of the Albatross wing bone extension respectively. I was extra careful this time around while working the stummel. You may find it amusing, but I sat on my double bed while I worked on the stummel!!!! Such a fright this incident had caused.

Then there was the issue of a dent near the heel in the stummel surface. Mr. Steve suggested adopting the steaming method to address this dent. Though theoretically I was well conversed with this method, I had never attempted it before and now to attempt it on a pipe of such vintage, beauty and value, had me in doubts. Added to this, I did not have any electric iron in my room as all the laundry, including ironing, is done by the washer man (I do enjoy certain privileges that come at my seniority in my organization). But seeing no other way out, I decided to give it a go. I improvised a bit and heated my trusted fabricated knife on a candle flame, soaked a thick Turkish hand towel and placed it on the dent. When I felt that the knife was sufficiently hot (well, I got it nicely hot!!!), placed it over the hand towel and over the dent. When there was a nice sizzling sound and a thick whiff of steam, I immediately removed the knife away from the surface and with a thumping heart, removed the hand towel to inspect the results, and boy was I pleased!!! The dent was reduced to nothing with the briar expanding nicely to lift the dent due to the steam, but it did leave behind a stark discoloration around the area. After a brief discussion with Mr. Steve and exchange of pictures, he suggested to rub some ‘Before and After’ balm in to the affected area to see if this would help in addressing the issue. Fortunately, it did!!!!Since I had attempted this steaming method for the first time, I was too preoccupied and missed out on taking pictures, my sincere apology to all those who were looking forward to these pictures.

To match the repaired surface with the rest of the stummel, I went through the complete micromesh polish cycle again.

At the end of 12000 grit pad, I rubbed a little quantity of ‘Before and After’ restoration balm in to the stummel with my fingers and set it aside for 10-15 minutes while I polished the sterling silver ferrule. The transformation in the briar is amazing to say the least!!!!! I buffed the stummel with a soft cotton cloth. I finish this stage of restoration by re-attaching the nicely polished and shining sterling silver ferrule over the shank end using super glue.

To finish the restoration, I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel (actually it is not the brand machine, but a local machine which is similar).  I set the speed at about 40% full power and applied White Diamond compound to the entire pipe.  Afterwards, I wiped/buffed the pipe with a soft cotton cloth to clear it of any leftover compound dust. I then mounted another cotton cloth wheel to the polishing machine,maintaining 40% speed and applied several coats of carnauba wax.

I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The completed pipe looks lovely, fresh and vibrant. 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. During the journey of restoring this beauty, my Guru and mentor, Mr. Steve was always around with his words of wisdom and encouragement to egg me on towards completing this project. It felt like he was holding my hand and helping me take my first baby steps around towards completing this restoration. Thank you once again, Mr. Steve.