Daily Archives: January 18, 2019

Sprucing up the first of my WDC; a Demuth Gold Dot #77 Bulldog


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

There a quite a few WDCs that I have inherited from my old man and the one on my table now is a “Demuth, Gold Dot”. I love the classic Bulldog and Rhodesian shape in pipes and am naturally attracted to pipes with this shape. Thus, no surprise here that I chose to work on this WDC Demuth Gold Dot in a classic Bulldog shape!!

This is the first WDC from my grandfather’s collection, a smooth Gold Dot in an impressive Bulldog shape. The beautiful straight grain follow a circular pattern on the right and front of the bowl while linear pattern adorns the left side of the bowl and along the diamond shank, neatly divided by the spine on either side. The shank is stamped on the left with the trademark inverted equilateral triangle with letters “WDC” enclosed in it. This is followed by “Demuth” over “GOLD DOT” in block capital letters. On the right, the shank is stamped “IMPORTED” over “BRIAR ROOT” followed by the shape number “77” towards the bowl and shank joint. A half inch thick gold band adorns the shank end and is stamped on the left with the trademark WDC triangle over “14 K”, indicating the purity of the gold band. The ¾ bent saddle stem has two gold filled dots in the center of the saddle portion of the stem on the left side. I searched pipedia.com for more information on this pipe and attempt at estimating the vintage of this pipe. Here is what I have found on pipedia:-

William Demuth. (Wilhelm C. Demuth, 1835-1911), a native of Germany, entered the United States at the age of 16 as a penniless immigrant. After a series of odd jobs he found work as a clerk in the import business of a tobacco tradesman in New York City. In 1862 William established his own company. The William Demuth Company specialized in pipes, smoker’s requisites, cigar-store figures, canes and other carved objects.

The Demuth Company is probably well known for the famous trademark, WDC in an inverted equilateral triangle. William commissioned the figurative meerschaum Presidential series, 29 precision-carved likenesses of John Adams, the second president of the United States (1797-1801) to Herbert Hoover, the 30th president (1929-1933), and “Columbus Landing in America,” a 32-inch-long centennial meerschaum masterpiece that took two years to complete and was exhibited at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.

The Presidential series was the result of Demuth’s friendship with President James A. Garfield, a connoisseur of meerschaum pipes. Demuth presented two pipes to Garfield at his inauguration in 1881, one in his likeness, the other in the likeness of the President’s wife. Later, Demuth arranged for another figurative matching the others to be added to the collection as each new president acceded to the White House, terminating with President Hoover.

In early 1937, the City of New York notified S.M. Frank & Co. of their intent to take by eminent domain, part of the land on which the companies pipe factory was located. This was being done to widen two of the adjacent streets. As a result of this, Frank entered into negotiations to purchase the Wm. Demuth Co.’s pipe factory in the Richmond Hill section of Queens. It was agreed upon that Demuth would become a subsidiary of S.M. Frank and all pipe production of the two companies would be moved to DeMuth factory. New Corporate offices were located at 133 Fifth Avenue, NYC.

Demuth pipes continued to be made at the Richmond Hill plant till December 31. 1972. Then the Wm. Demuth Company met its official end as a subsidiary company by liquidation.

I came across an interesting advertisement on the same page on pipedia.com which shows the exact same pipe that I am now working on. It is the same pipe as the first pipe on the left. A close scrutiny of the picture confirms the following:

(a) The Gold Dot line of WDC pipes was offered sometime before 1941 as inferred from the bottom line of this flyer which encourages readers to “WRITE FOR NEW 1941 STYLE BOOKLET”, implying that this flyer was published prior to 1941!!!!!

(b) The Gold Dot line of WDC pipes was at the time their top of the line product as it is the most expensive of all the pipes advertised in the flyer, retailing at $10!!!Pipephil.eu too has the same pipe shown with shape # 77. Here is the link; http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-w1.html

From the above gleaned information, it is safe to conclude that the pipe now on my worktable is of 1940s vintage and at that point in time was WDC’s top-of-the-line offering!!!!

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
Age definitely shows on the stummel surface!!! The briar is dull and lifeless and has taken on a layer of aged patina, through which one can make out the beautiful straight grain patterns all around. There is a heavy overflow of lava all over the entire stummel surface. The bowl cap, bowl, shank and even the stem is covered in oils, tars and grime accumulated over the years of storage and is sticky to the touch. To be honest, the stummel is filthy to say the least. A thorough cleaning of the stummel followed by polish should accentuate the beautiful straight grain pattern seen on the stummel through all the dirt. The double ring that separates the cap from the rest of the bowl is even and undamaged; however, it is filled with dust, dirt and grime. The chamber exudes a strong, but not definitely unpleasant, smell. I hope that this will be addressed once the chamber has been reamed and internals of the shank and mortise is cleaned with isopropyl alcohol. There is heavy buildup of cake with a thick layer in the chamber. The buildup is such that I am barely able to squeeze my little finger in to the bowl. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be ascertained only after the cake has been removed completely and taken down to bare briar. The bowl however, feels robust and solid to the touch from the outside. The rim top has a thick layer of overflowing lava. The condition of the beveled inner and outer edge and rim top can be commented upon once the overflow of lava is removed and the chamber is reamed. The shank end of the pipe is clean. However, the mortise does show signs of accumulated dried oils, tars and remnants of ash, greatly restricting the air flow, or dare I say, completely restricting air flow. These issues should be a breeze to address, unless some hidden gremlins present themselves!! The vulcanite stem has deep tooth indentations and minor tooth chatter on the upper and lower surface. It is heavily oxidized and has traces of overflowing lava, dust, oils and tars on the saddle portion of the stem. The opening of the tenon is filled with dried oils and tars. The air flow through the stem is greatly restricted to say the least. The fit of the stem in to the mortise is very tight, which will loosen further after the mortise and tenon have been cleaned. The metal tenon has a slot like groove extending more than half way towards the stem end on either side; probably to securely seat the “changeable filter” as advertised in the flyer above (actually I was wondering the purpose of the metal tenon, which as it is, was new to me, with slots on either side. This doubt was cleared by the flyer!!). The overall condition of the pipe, with the thick build-up of cake in the chamber, clogged mortises and stem airway, overflowing of lava covering the entire stummel, makes me believe that this would have been one of my grandfather’s favorite pipes.

THE PROCESS
I started this project by reaming the chamber with size 2 and followed it up with size 3 head of PipNet reamer. I used a 220 grit sand paper, pinched between my thumb and forefinger, to sand the inner walls of the chamber of the pipe. Once I had reached the bare briar, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This removed all the residual carbon dust from the chamber. The walls of the chamber are nice and solid with no signs of heat fissures or cracks. I scrapped out the overflowing lava from the rim top with my fabricated knife. The inner and outer rim edges are pristine and that was a big relief.This was followed by cleaning the mortise and air way of the pipe using hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners, q-tips dipped in alcohol. The mortise and the draught hole were given a final clean with shank brushes dipped in alcohol. I dried the mortise with a rolled paper napkin. The shank internals and the draught hole are now nice and clean with an open and full draw. The gunk in the mortise had hardened to such an extent that I had to resort to using all the tools of the trade to get rid of the accumulated gunk, not to mention the time spent on cleaning it. The crud that was extracted from the mortise can be seen in the picture below. I had expected that the ghosting would be history by this stage. However, that was not to be the case. I had to resort to alcohol treatment to get rid of all the ghosting. I packed a few cotton balls in to the chamber. Drawing out a wick from one cotton ball, I inserted it in to the mortise of the pipe. Using a syringe, I topped the chamber with isopropyl alcohol and set it aside. Half hour later, I topped the chamber again with isopropyl alcohol as the level of alcohol had gone down from spreading inside the stummel. This process is usually done using Kosher salt as it leaves no aftertaste or smells. But here, in my part of the world, Kosher salts costs a huge bomb and from my personal experience, I have realized that cotton works equally well in drawing out all the oils and tars from the internals of the stummel exactly as Kosher salt does, but at a very economical cost. I set the stummel aside overnight to allow the alcohol to do its intended task. Next morning, I discard the wick and cotton balls from the stummel and wipe the bowl clean. Though the cotton balls and the cotton wick did not turn a dirty color as usual, the old smells were completely eliminated. While the stummel was soaking in the alcohol bath, I cleaned out the internals of the stem using hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol. Well, that sounds easier than actually done. From the amount of overflowing lava deposits on the stem, I had anticipated a difficult time in cleaning the stem internals. But what really confronted me was a nightmare of a time cleaning it. For starters, the pipe cleaners would not move an inch in to the airway from either ends!!! I soak the internals of the stem, after packing the slot with a pipe cleaner, by filling it with isopropyl alcohol using a syringe. This helped in loosening the hardened oils and tars in the air way. Thereafter began the tedious process of cleaning the stem internals with a straightened paper clip and scrubbing the aluminum tenon with the fabricated dental spatula. The blobs of accumulated gunk removed from the air way could not be photographed as my table and tray was cleaned out by my helper before I could take a few pictures!!!! After a great deal of struggle, time and lots of pipe cleaners, the air way is finally clean with an open draw.The deep bite marks on the stem were flamed using a Bic lighter. However, this did not work. From my experience, I have learnt that getting rid of the oxidation from and around the surface to be filled helps in subsequent better blending of the fill with the stem surface. With a folded piece of used 220 grit sand paper, I sand the area that is required to be filled. I cleaned the sanded portion of the stem with cotton pad dipped in alcohol and spot filled the damaged area with a mixture of activated charcoal and clear superglue. I set the stem aside for the fill to cure. 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 the stummel, cleaning the surface thoroughly. I was very deliberate on the surface areas which were covered in overflowed lava over which dirt and grime had accumulated over the years. I rinsed the stummel under tap water, taking care that water does not enter the mortise or the chamber. I dried the stummel using cotton cloth and paper napkins. On close inspection, I observed a couple of dents and ding on the front portion of the crown. These would need to be addressed. Other than this, the stummel is now clean and devoid of any grime and dirt. It is really surprising that the rim top, inner bevel and edges and the stummel is in such pristine condition after so many years of storage and without a single fill. Speaks volumes about the quality of this line of pipes from WDC!! I addressed the dents and dings to the front portion of the crown by the steaming process. I heated my fabricated knife over a candle. I placed a soaked Turkish hand towel over the dents and placed the hot knife over the wet towel. The steam that was generated pulled the dents to the surface. The stummel is now without any blemishes.To further clean and highlight the grains, I sand the stummel with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stummel after each wet pad with a moist cloth to remove the resulting dust. 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. The pipe now looks lovely with beautiful grains showing off their beauty in all glory!! With the stummel nice and clean and attractive, I worked the stem of the “GOLD DOT” by sanding the fills with a flat heat needle to achieve a rough match with the surrounding stem surface. I sharpened the lip edges using a needle file and sand the entire stem with 220 followed by 400, 800 and 1000 grit sand paper to perfectly blend the filled surface with the rest of the stem surface. This helps to reduce the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper. By mere sanding itself, the minor tooth marks seen on stem surfaces were completely addressed. This process also eliminated the deep oxidation seen on the vulcanite stem. 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 rubbed the stem down with Extra Virgin Olive oil after every three pads. I completed the restoration of the stummel by cleaning the grooves between the twin rings separating the crown from the rest of the stummel, of all the dust, grime and polishing compounds accumulated during the restoration process. Lucky me, there is no damage to the rings, which would have been a challenge to restore.To finish, I re-attach the stem with the stummel. I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my local machine which is similar to a Dremel.  I set the speed at about half of the full power and polished the entire pipe with White Diamond compound. 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 on to the polishing machine and applied several coats of carnauba wax over the stummel and the stem. I finished the restoration by giving the pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The completed pipe, with the dark brown hues of the grains on the stummel contrasting with the shiny black stem, looks lovely, fresh and vibrant; the photographs speak for themselves. If only the pipe could tell some of my grand Old man’s stories and recount incidents witnessed while being smoked.…Cheers!! I am grateful to all the readers for their valuable time spent in reading this write up and joining me on this part of the journey in to the world of pipe restoration while I attempt to preserve a heritage and past memories of a part of me. 

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Bringing an old Custombilt Billiard to back to life


Blog by Steve Laug

I have always been intrigued by Tracy Mincer and his Custom-Bilt pipes and even his Custombilt pipes like this one. There is something about the rugged carving and appearance of the pipes that gets my attention. I have a few of them in my collection and always enjoy the tactile nature of the pipe when it is being smoked. This old billiard has the Custombilt stamp and I will need to reacquaint myself with the eras of the various spellings of the brand so that I can place it in the hierarchy. The pipe was in pretty decent condition when Jeff received it – dirty but really not too bad. The finish was dusty and dirty in the worm trail carvings. The bowl had a decent cake in it that was lightly flowing over the rim top into the rustication. The inner and outer edge of the bowl appeared to be in great condition. The stem had a chip out of the edge of the button on the topside and tooth marks in the stem just ahead of the button on the underside. The smooth part of the shank, between the worm trails is stamped Custombilt in script on the left side. On a smooth panel on the heel of the bowl it is stamped Imported Briar. Jeff took these pictures of the pipe to show its condition before he started his cleanup work. He took close up photos of the rim top and the side and bottom of the bowl to show the condition of the briar and the bowl. You can see the cake in the bowl and the lava overflowing onto the top of the rim. The worm trail rustication is quite dusty and dirty. The photos of the stem show the tooth chatter and marks as well as the chip out of the topside of the button.When I brought the pipe to my worktable I did some reading on Pipedia to before starting the restoration. I have learned that it is important to keep the variations in spelling of this brand clear in mind when trying to put these on a timeline. The names Custom-Bilt, Custombilt, and other variations help place the pipes in the history of the Company.

There is a great article on Pipedia that helps understand the brand and give a sense of what the various stamping looks like on the pipes (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Custom-Bilt). I cite from that article to give a feel for the brand:

In 1946, the name was changed to Custombilt after Mincer began an association with Eugene J. Rich, Inc. There were some big changes in advertising and distribution. The slogan “AS INDIVIDUAL AS A THUMBPRINT” began at this time as well.

In 1953, Leonard Rodgers bought the company and emphasized tobacco pouches and butane lighters. (However, it appears Mincer was working on his new pipe, the Doodler.) In 1968, Rodgers sold the Company to Consolidated Cigars. In the early 1970s, Wally Frank Co. bought the Custombilt trademark and began to produce their version of the pipe in 1974 or 1975. Hollco Rohr owned the Weber pipe factory, located in New Jersey, and produced the Custombilt pipes there. In 1987, the pipes were made out of the Butz-Choquin factory (France) and then Mexico until the late 1990s. Currently, the Custombilt name is owned by Tobacalera of Spain.

Along with the information above I found that the stamping that is on this pipe is identical to that identified in the article as Stamp Number Five. I have included that graphic because of the information that it included. It brings some of the issues in identifying the maker and the time period of the brand. In my mind the pipe I have in hand is very much like the Rich era pipes that I have seen and the note below says that. Interestingly the author also says he has seen the same stamping on the Wally Frank era pipes. It is a fascinating piece of history and a beautifully made old pipe.Armed with that information I turned to working on the pipe. Jeff had cleaned the pipe with his usual thoroughness – reaming the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaning up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the internals of the bowl, shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean off the dust and grime on the finish. The rim top looked very good under the thick lava coat. I love the way the grain of the briar shows through the rustication. There were just a few nicks and scratches to deal with. The inside of the bowl itself looked great. The stem was in great shape other than a bit of tooth marks and the chip out of the top of the button. I took photos of the pipe before I started working on it. I took some close up photos of the rim top, bowl and stem to show what they looked like after Jeff’s cleanup. It is a startling difference. The rim top looked very good and the edges were clean and undamaged. The stem was in good shape other than the chipped button and the tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.I took some photos of the stamping which seemed far more visible after Jeff’s cleanup than before.Since the briar was in such good condition I started with rejuvenating the wood. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the rustications and worm trails on the bowl and the rim top. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the wood. Once the bowl was covered with the balm I let it sit for about 20 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth and then polished it with a microfiber cloth. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl looked like at this point. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I decided to address the deep tooth mark on the underside of the stem and the chip in the top edge of the button. I filled in the tooth mark on the underside of the stem with a clear super glue (Jeff had already cleaned the stem very well so it was not an issue). I used the clear superglue to fill in the chipped area and build it up. I did this by layering the super glue until the surface was filled in with the glue. The last coat of glue that I applied was black super glue. I set the stem aside to let the repairs cure. Once the repair had cured I used a flat blade needle file to sharpen the edge of the button on both sides of the stem. I also used it to flatten out the repairs. I worked on the remaining repaired areas with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the stem. I smoothed out the slotted edge of the button with 220 grit sandpaper on the topping board. I reworked the edges of the slot with a needle file to clean up the repair. I shaped and polished the button with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. The repaired area looks very good and will look even better as the stem and repairs are polished with micromesh sanding pads. I polished the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish to take out the oxidation at the button edge and on the end of the mouthpiece. I also worked hard to scrub it from the surface of the stem at the tenon end. I polished repaired areas on the stem, button and blade with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the bowl and stem back together. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the light scratches that remained in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The worm trail rusticated finish on this Rich era Custombilt turned out very nice and shows the grain shining through. It has the kind of rustic beauty that draws collectors to them after all of these years. The contrast of the worm trails with the grain swirling through them looked good with the polished black vulcanite. This Custombilt billiard will soon be joining the other pipes I have on the rebornpipes store. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 3/4 inches, Height: 2 ¼ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

…and the Old Warrior Survives for another Fight!!


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I had two meerschaum pipes in my grandfather’s collection that I have inherited. One, an antique Kalmasch meerschaum pipe, was restored by my Guru, Mr. Steve. For those interested in the read, here is the link to that write up; https://rebornpipes.com/2018/04/17/pareshs-grandfathers-pipe-4-an-antique-kalmasch-meerschaum-pipe/

The second is a block meerschaum Kaywoodie in classic Dublin shape with a four holed aluminum stinger, which I want to restore. I had never restored a meer before and as such had no desire to ruin this inheritance piece. Thus began my earnest search for a cheap meer, with an equally lesser costs of shipping (which at times is more than the cost of the item itself!! LOL!). I came across this “Meerschaum Sitter” pipe on auction block on eBay. The cost of shipping was the lowest that I have ever come across on the site. The condition of the pipe in the pictures, advertised as a “No Name Meerschaum Sitter”, uploaded by the seller was convincing enough for me to be the only bidder and I won this pipe for a single digit!! A prolonged wait followed and the pipe arrived after two months.

As advertised, there were no marks of identification on the pipe and it was in a demoralizing condition (Abha, my wife, absolutely detested the shape and appearance of this pipe!!). But there was something about this pipe that stopped me from completely discarding it. Mr. Dal Stanton, a gentleman and a fellow pipe restore who also guides me, has a page “For Pipe Dreamers only” on his site https://thepipesteward.com/. I have commissioned pipes from this page and they received a 360 degree makeover at the expert hands of Mr. Dal and have turned out to be beautiful masterpieces. He did encourage me to look beyond the present condition and dream about its future potential!! And this no name meerschaum sitter pipe did have loads of potential. What remains to be seen is whether I could do justice to it while gaining hands on experience in restoring a meerschaum pipe.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The following pictures show the condition of the pipe when it arrived at my door step. The surface of the meer stummel is covered in dirt and grime. There is overflow of lava which is seen as blackened portions of the stummel. There is not a single patch on the stummel which is not scarred with scratches, gouges, dents and dings. The grime has accumulated on these gouges and resembles the battle wounds which have healed over the years. The stummel has developed a beautiful coloration on the bottom of the bowl half way up to the rim and the shank.There is heavy buildup of cake in the chamber with a thicker layer seen at the bottom half of the chamber. The cake has dried and is crumbly due to prolonged storage. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be ascertained only after the cake has been removed completely. No apparent cracks or damage to the stummel surface is seen from the outside. The rim top has darkened due to thick overflow of lava. There are a large number of dings and chips to the rim top which are visible through the lava overflow. This will be a challenge to address. The entire left side of the outer edge of the rim is severely damaged, the result of striking the edge against a hard surface to remove dottle, presenting lop sided appearance to the rim on to the left. The inner edge of the rim is dented in a number of places and combined with the damaged left outer edge gives the appearance of out of round chamber. This issue can be ascertained only after the chamber has been reamed and the rim top is cleaned.The shank end has a Delrin tube insert which seats the push-pull Delrin tenon on the stem. The mortise does show signs of accumulated dried oils, tars and remnants of ash, greatly restricting the air flow. This should be easy to address.The brown translucent acrylic stem has beautiful swirls that can be seen on either side of the airway. The airway itself is a very dark brown/ black color. Is it due to accumulation of oils and tars needs to be ascertained? However, I was unable to blow through the stem. Both the upper and lower surfaces of the stem show deep tooth indentations and minor tooth chatter. The buttons on both surfaces has been chewed and with deep bite marks. The entire stem is covered in dirt and grime over which dust and dirt has accumulated and hardened. The fit of the stem in to the mortise is snug; however, the Delrin tenon has tooth marks, which was surprising. Why anyone would bite on the tenon, is a very perplexing question that comes to my mind? These issues will need to be addressed. Though the seller had advertised this pipe as a sitter but being top heavy with a narrow circular base, it is anything but a sitter. Looking at the condition of the rim top, rim edges, proliferation of the scratches, lacerations, dents and dings over the stummel and shank, blocked airways, and stem condition, to me, it appears as if the pipe has been through a war zone with its previous owner and then discarded as it had become unsmokable. Once cleaned up and restored, I am confident that it will turn out to be beautiful and functional pipe.

THE PROCESS
I started this project by reaming the chamber with size 1 followed by size 2 head of PipNet reamer. With my smaller fabricated knife, I scraped out all the carbon from difficult to reach areas. I used a 220 grit sand paper, pinched between my thumb and forefinger, to sand the inner walls of the chamber of the pipe. Once I had reached the bare walls, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This removed all the residual carbon dust and also rid the chamber of all ghost smells. The walls of the chamber are nice and solid with no signs of cracks. Using a sharp knife, I gently scraped out the overflow of lava from the rim top. The dents and chips on the rim surface are now clearly visible and so is the extent of damage to the outer edge of the rim. The inner rim edge too shows a few chipped spots along the edge.I followed up the reaming by cleaning the stummel surface. I sand the stummel with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper followed by 600 and 800 grit papers. This was done with utmost care and diligence as I did not want to sand away a lot of meerschaum material from the surface and also wanted to preserve the nice golden hued color taken on by the meer from being smoked. A few deeper lacerations and gouges were left unaddressed as it would have led to loss of lot of bowl material. Also these dents and dings appear like a soldier’s battle scars to be worn with pride!! Similarly, I worked the rim top and addressed the dents and scratches from the surface to an extent that was possible. I attempted to address the chipped inner and severely damaged outer edge was leveled by creating a bevel on either edge with 220 grit sandpaper. I realized that if attempted to top the rim to match the surface, there would be a significant loss of meerschaum material, greatly altering the stummel profile and size. I decide to let it be. This old warrior will limp, but walk he will and that is all that matters to me. I followed up the sanding of the external stummel surface by cleaning the mortise and air way of the pipe using hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners, q-tips dipped in alcohol. The mortise and the draught hole were given a final clean with shank brushes dipped in alcohol. I dried the mortise with a rolled paper napkin. The shank internals and the draught hole are now nice and clean with an open and full draw. This was easier said than done. The pipe cleaners would not pass through the draught hole for the love of money!! A great deal of poking and prodding with a straightened paper clip and drill bit got me there.I polished the top of the bowl and rim edges with micromesh sanding pads to remove all of the tar and lava that was on the surface. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth to remove the dust that was left behind by the sanding. While I was working on the bowl top I also worked over the sides and bottom of the bowl to polish them as well. I wanted to minimize the scratching but not necessarily remove them all. These lacerations and dings must have had a history and I wanted to preserve it. I set the stummel aside and worked on the stem. The acrylic stem was so chock-a-block with hardened oils and tars that a pipe cleaner would just not pass through. Even a straightened paper clip could not make any head way in to the airway!!!!! I decided to soak the airway in isopropyl alcohol. I inserted a folded pipe cleaner in to airway from lip end, to the extent possible and folded the pipe cleaner upwards. Using a syringe filled with alcohol, I filled the airway from the tenon end and set it aside to soak.Couple of hours later, I removed the pipe cleaner and wiped the stem clean. I tried to clean the saddle of the stem when suddenly the Delrin tenon turned in my hands. I carefully turned the tenon further until it came free. It was indeed a threaded Delrin tenon and the previous owner had tried to unscrew it while holding it between his teeth. Hence the bite marks on the tenon!! A mystery solved…. A closer inspection of the saddle churned my stomach; it was completely filled with hardened tars and gunk. Even the threads on the tenon were smeared in the now jelly like gunk due to soaking. Here is what I saw. What followed next were the most excruciating 6-8 hours of backbreaking and laborious time spent on cleaning the internals of this stem. It was a battle of will between the stem and self. A couple of more soaks and later, use of all the cleaning weaponry in my arsenal, I emerged victorious. I was able to pass a hard bristled pipe cleaner dipped in alcohol from one end through the other. I further cleaned out the internals of the stem using hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol. However, the dark coloration of the airway persisted. I consulted with my mentor, Mr. Steve and he suggested using a scouring cleanser like Vim paste or Comet cleaner.  I tried the Vim powder, but without success. He then suggested using toothpaste applied on a moist pipe cleaner and worked inside the air way till clean. Well, this did not work either and the dark coloration remained. This one is a true warrior and a fighter to the core; bugger would just never give up without a fight!!!! I thought I was missing some trick here; ideas, methods and tricks suggested by Mr. Steve never fail, and yet in this case, nothing seemed to work. I closely observed the entire stem under my table lamp and then it suddenly dawned on me. It was like Eureka moment for me!!!! It appeared that the Delrin screw-in tenon is seated in to the stem in a dark brown tube extending to the stem end slat and is covered in lighter shade of brown acrylic casing. What a relief. I can finally progress ahead and address the deep tooth marks.From my experience, I have learnt that getting rid of the oxidation from and around the surface to be filled helps in subsequent better blending of the fill with the stem surface. With a folded piece of used 150 grit sand paper, I sand the area that is required to be filled. I cleaned the sanded portion of the stem with cotton pad dipped in alcohol and spot filled the damaged area with clear superglue. I set the stem aside for the fill to cure.Once the fill had cured, I sand the fills to match the surrounding stem surface with a flat head needle file. I sharpened the lip edges using a needle file and sand the entire stem with 220 followed by 400, 800 and 1000 grit sand paper to achieve an exact match. This also helps to reduce the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper as well as eliminated the oxidation seen on the stem. I was so engrossed and preoccupied with the task at hand that I missed out on taking pictures of this process. To bring a deep shine to the 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.To finish, I re-attach the stem with the stummel. I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my local machine which is similar to a Dremel.  I set the speed at about half of the full power and applied White Diamond compound to each of the three pipes. 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 on to the polishing machine and applied several coats of carnauba wax over the stummel and the stem. I finished the restoration by giving the pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The completed pipe, with the shining white and golden hued meerschaum stummel, contrasting with the shiny brown acrylic stem with swirls inside, looks lovely, fresh and vibrant; the photographs speak for themselves. Admiring the pipe, it made me wonder, did he really have a spirit which kept him ticking after having suffered the kind of abuse which was evident from all the lacerations, dents and dings and chips. But he has survived his past nonetheless and will continue on his warpath with me………..Cheers!!

Restoring a Kaywoodie Meerschaum Dublin


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Another surprise pick from my grandfather’s collection is this pipe which I have selected to work on. John Bessai in Rhodesian shape, which I had recently restored, was also a surprise pick in his collection since he had never been to USA, let alone Cleveland, Ohio and this is where most of the Bessai pipes were sold. Well, this pipe now on my work table is a Kaywoodie made from block meerschaum!! I was aware that KBB made briar pipes with meerschaum insert, but block meerschaum pipes, that I was not aware of.

The meerschaum on my work table is a classic Dublin with a stout meerschaum shank and a vulcanite stem. The stummel is sans any stampings and the only way it can be identified as being a Kaywoodie is the trademark cloverleaf insert on the stem and the four holed stinger tenon. However, the cloverleaf insert in this stem differed from the other Kaywoodie stems that I have previously worked on in that here the stem is marked with a “black cloverleaf inside a white dot” as against the white cloverleaf in other Kaywoodie pipes.I searched the internet for more information on Meerschaum line of Kaywoodie pipes. I visited the website, brothersofbriar.com and came across this valuable piece of information from one member, kwguy, who probably, from his comment, appears to have worked for KBB. I have extracted below, the relevant portion of the thread.

“Kaywoodie Block Meerschaums were made from 1938 to the mid 1960’s. The meerschaum pipe business by Kaywoodie was revitalized when Paul Fischer was hired and emigrated from Austria to run the meerschaum pipe department. Kaywoodie meerschaums were available in earlier years but not as prominently as when Paul Fischer came on board. He left in 1960 to make meerschaums under his own name. We continued to make them for several years after he left until we could no longer import meerschaum from Turkey”. (http://www.brothersofbriar.com/t21079-kaywoodie-block-meerschaum)

Another piece of information was available on pipedia.com which I have reproduced below.

HINTS ON COLLECTING, DATING AND PRICING KAYWOODIES
Examine Logo, Stampings and Fitment. The pre-WWII Kaywoodies had elongated white cloverleaf logos and large screw-in fitments (with the possible exception of the pre-1925 and “export” Kaywoodies, which had no fitments). Some of the pre-1936 Kaywoodies were stamped (on the shank) with a cloverleaf around KBB. Sometime between 1936 and 1947, the better pipes were marked with a black cloverleaf inside a white dot. However, because many of the pipes in the 1968-69 catalog still show this type of logo, the black-in-white logo merely indicates a “post 1936” vintage.

Based on the information gleaned from the above sources, it is safely concluded that the Kaywoodie meerschaum pipe presently on my work table is from the period between 1936 to late 1960s.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The stummel has developed a nice coloration on the surface, darker on the lower half of the stummel and darkest on the shank. The entire stummel is covered in minor nicks and scratches with slightly deeper ones seen on the front and behind the bowl. There is a patch, similar to what would be seen on a briar when exposed to water, on the front of the bowl. Since this would be my first inherited meerschaum pipe restoration, I shall tread very carefully in addressing these issues. There is thick build up of cake in the chamber with a thicker layer at the bottom half of the chamber. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be ascertained only after the cake has been removed completely. No apparent cracks or damage to the stummel surface is seen from the outside, save for a few scratches and nicks/ dents. The rim top has darkened due to thick overflow of lava. There are a large number of dings and chips to the rim top which are visible through the lava overflow. This will be a challenge to address. The inner and outer edge shows minor chips, the result of striking the edges against a hard surface to remove dottle. The shank end of the pipe has an aluminum threaded spacer ring which extends in to the mortise, separating the shank end from the stem end when threaded in. This spacer ring is in pristine condition. The mortise is blocked due to accumulated dried oils, tars and remnants of ash, greatly restricting the air flow.The vulcanite stem has deep tooth indentations and minor tooth chatter on upper and lower surfaces as well on both the button edges. The stem shows minimal signs of oxidation which really is surprising. The air flow through the stems is laborious to say the least. The four holed metal stinger tenon is covered in dried oils and tars with a blocked breather hole near the threads. The alignment of the stem logo and stummel is off center when the stem is fully threaded in to the mortise with a slight overturn. These issues will need to be addressed.THE PROCESS
I started this project by reaming the chamber with size 1 followed by size 2 head of PipNet reamer. With my smaller fabricated knife, I scraped out all the carbon from difficult to reach areas. I used a 220 grit sand paper, pinched between my thumb and forefinger, to sand the inner walls of the chamber of the pipe. Once I had reached the bare walls, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This removed all the residual carbon dust and also rid the chamber of all ghost smells. The walls of the chamber are nice and solid with no signs of heat fissures or cracks. Using a sharp knife, I gently scraped out the overflow of lava from the rim top. The dents and chips on the rim surface are now clearly visible.I followed up the reaming by cleaning the stummel surface. I sand the stummel with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper followed by 600 and 800 grit papers. This was done with utmost care and diligence as I did not want to sand away a lot of meerschaum material from the surface and also wanted to preserve the nice golden hued color taken on by the meer from being smoked. A few deeper chips and gouges were left unaddressed as it would have led to loss of lot of meerschaum material. Also these dents and dings appear like a soldier’s battle scars and worn with pride!! Similarly, I worked the rim top and addressed the dents and scratches from the surface. The chipped inner and outer edge was leveled by creating a slight bevel on either edge with 220 grit sandpaper. I cleaned the mortise and air way of the pipe using hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners, q-tips dipped in alcohol. The mortise and the draught hole were given a final clean with shank brushes dipped in alcohol. I dried the mortise with a rolled paper napkin. The shank internals and the draught hole are now nice and clean with an open and full draw.I polished the top of the bowl and rim edges with micromesh sanding pads to remove all of the tar and lava that was on the surface. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth to remove the dust that was left behind by the sanding. While I was working on the bowl top I also worked over the sides and bottom of the bowl to polish them as well. I wanted to minimize the scratching but not necessarily remove them all. I cleaned out the internals of the stem using hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol. The deep bite marks on the stem were flamed using a Bic lighter. However, this did not work. From my experience, I have learnt that getting rid of the oxidation from and around the surface to be filled helps in subsequent better blending of the fill with the stem surface. With a folded piece of used 150 grit sand paper, I sand the area that is required to be filled. I cleaned the sanded portion of the stem with cotton pad dipped in alcohol and spot filled the damaged area with a mixture of activated charcoal and clear superglue. I set the stem aside for the fill to cure. Once the fill had cured, I sand the fills to match the surrounding stem surface with a flat head needle file. I sharpened the lip edges using a needle file and sand the entire stem with 220 followed by 400, 800 and 1000 grit sand paper to achieve an exact match. This also helps to reduce the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper as well as eliminated the oxidation seen on the stem. I was so engrossed and preoccupied with the task at hand that I missed out on taking pictures of this process.

To bring a deep shine to the 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. It was at this stage that I addressed the issue of overturned four holed stinger by heating it with the flame of a Bic lighter. This loosens the glue and I under-turn the stinger. I let the stinger cool down and re-harden the glue. I re-heated the stinger and fitted the stem in to the mortise, tightening it till the stem and shank were perfectly aligned. I let the stinger sit in this position till it had cooled down and the glue had hardened again. Now the fit of the stem and the shank is perfectly aligned. To finish, I re-attach the stem with the stummel. I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my local machine which is similar to a Dremel.  I set the speed at about half of the full power and applied White Diamond compound to each of the three pipes. 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 on to the polishing machine and applied several coats of carnauba wax over the stummel and the stem. I finished the restoration by giving the pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The completed pipe, with the shining white and golden hued meerschaum stummel, contrasting with the shiny black stem, looks lovely, fresh and vibrant; the photographs speak for themselves. Thanks for the read…………..Cheers!!