Daily Archives: March 11, 2019

Mumbai Bonanza: Stefano “Exclusive” Restoration…a month long project


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I was on leave a few months back. Two days before I was to rejoin my work place, I received a call from a friend in Mumbai saying that he had come across a person who collects trash and unwanted items from all posh bungalows and apartments in the area and that he had a seen a few pipes, similar to the ones I restore, in his cart. This friend had taken down his contact number and shared it with me. Now the readers of this write up must understand that we do not have a “Pipe Culture”!! During colonial days, smoking a pipe was common and after the British left, in next few decades, it died its natural death. Today, pipes are not available here and neither is pipe tobacco!! So with this background, it came as a big surprise to me that a trash collector had pipes. I had nothing to lose by giving him a call and this is exactly what I did. While I was speaking to him, it dawned on me that this person did not know what he was selling, could not read or text me the stampings on the pipes. The conversation that I had with him in my local dialect was nothing short of being hilarious. I could not make out what I would be purchasing and he did not know what he was trying to sell!! He had 30 pipes for sale. I am very pathetic at any form of gambling and in such case bad luck follows me like a shadow. I shared this dilemma with Mr. Steve who suggested that I should go ahead and strike a deal. If nothing else, I shall have some spares!! That sounded logical and I struck a deal with the “kabadiwala” (this is what a trash collector is called here in local parlance) for all 30 pipes. The next day I joined my work place and the parcel reached Abha, my wife, after about 10 days. Here is what she received in the parcel. This parcel contained some very nice collectible pipes, a few well known brand pipes and some mediocre pipe brands. Overall, with seven Dunhills, a Preben Holm #1, a couple of Made in England Pete System pipes, Charatan’s and other assorted pipes, I would say that I had hit a huge jack pot!!! Hence, I like to call this find as “Mumbai Bonanza”.

The pipe that I decided to work on is from this find and is marked in a red circle in the picture below (little did I know what I was getting in to at this point!!!). It’s stamped as “Stefano” in small italics over “EXCLUSIVE” in block letters on the left side of the shank and on the right side of the shank it is stamped as “SELECTED” over “BRIAR”. The stummel shows some lovely straight grain which contrasts with the rest of the swirls on the stummel surface. The quarter bent tapered saddle vulcanite stem bears the “crown” logo on the top surface and is designed to take a 9mm filter.

To research this pipe, I turned to pipedia.org and the search for “Stefano” led me to the page on Stefano Santambrogio,  here is the link to the page; https://pipedia.org/wiki/Santambrogio

The information gleaned from this page is that this is an Italian manufactured pipe by Santambrogio family who are in to pipe manufacturing since 1912!! The present owner, Mr. Stefano Santambrogio has been at the helm of affairs since 1981. What really baffled me was the stem logo which was very different to what I have on the pipe in front of me. I decided to narrow down my research for the stem logo and turned to another site which I frequent, pipephil.eu.

I specifically searched for stems with crown logo and there it was at the end of the list marked as “Stefano”. The match was perfect. One click on the link led me to http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-s3.html#santambrogio

Here the information available was more or less similar to that on pipedia.org, however, it was mentioned that Stefano could be a Santambrogio second. Another click on Stefano took me to a page which had pipes with identical stamping on the shank and stem logo to the one I was working on. It was revealed that Stefano was indeed a Santambrogio export for the German market!!

With this information, I proceed ahead with the restoration of this handsome pipe.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The chamber is clean with a thin layer of cake which pleases me no end as this would be a first for me. From what I can see, the chamber walls appear to be sans any damage. The chamber smells of a strong aromatic tobacco and needs to be addressed.The stummel is stained in an orange dye which has worn out in time. At places, it appears like a patch work. The stummel surface is peppered with numerous dents and dings, and a large number of huge fills on the right side of the stummel and the shank. These fills need to be refreshed. I intend to sand the stummel surface with grit papers with two-fold aim; first is to get rid of the orange stain color and second is to minimize the dents and dings from the surface. The plateau rim top surface has little traces of lava overflow and should be easy to deal with. The mortise is surprisingly filthy given how clean the chamber and the rim top appear to be. The vulcanite stem shows significant damage to the upper button, side wall and the round slot, but it is not oxidized. The pseudo p-lip style bit has a through and through hole exposing the airway. This will require major repairs. The quality of vulcanite is good.

THE PROCESS
Since the stem has significant damage, and from my experience of stem repairs this will be the most time consuming and laborious part of this restoration, I start this project by tackling the stem first. I was faced with two options in my approach to this stem repair; first was to recreate a new button around the broken part and maintain the existing stem profile with a round slot and the second option was to cut away the damaged button and reconstruct an entirely new button with a straight horizontal slot, sacrificing the P-lip shape. I decided to take the former approach. This decision was partly dictated by the fact that I do not have a rotary cutting blade to cut the damaged button end and partly to my innate desire to maintain the originality of any pipe.

Now that I was clear about the path to be followed, I cleaned out the internals of the stem with hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I also cleaned the wide tenon with q-tips dipped in alcohol. Once I was satisfied with the internal cleaning, I wiped the stem surface, particularly the damaged button end, with a cotton pad and alcohol to remove any traces of dirt and grime. To begin the stem repairs, I smeared a pipe cleaner with petroleum jelly and inserted it in to the stem airway. I prepared a mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal and generously applied it over the gaping hole in the button of the stem and set it aside for curing over night. Before moving ahead, I would like to mention here that I had applied this mix in layers, over the week, to achieve sufficient thickness which would help during the filing and sanding while shaping the button.While the stem repair was progressing at its own pace, I moved ahead to deal with the stummel repairs. Given the size of the chamber, I reamed the chamber with size 4 head of a PipNet reamer. I used my fabricated knife and scraped out all the remaining cake. The amount of cake reamed out of the chamber really surprised me as I was expecting minimum cake. I further used a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper to sand out the last traces of remaining cake and expose the walls of the chamber to ascertain that there are no cracks/ heat fissures. I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol to remove the carbon dust left behind by all the reaming and sanding process. The walls of the chamber were solid with no damage. I gently scraped the plateau rim top surface with a sharp knife to remove the lava overflow. This was followed by cleaning the mortise with cue tips, pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This further eliminated traces of old smells from previous usage. The old smell was still strong, though. Continuing the cleaning regime, using a hard bristled tooth brush dipped in undiluted Murphy’s oil soap, I very deliberately scrubbed the surface of the stummel. I cleaned the plateau rim top with a brass wired brush. The original orange dye was also washed away to some extent. The stummel and rim top was dried using paper napkins and soft cotton cloth. The old fills are now clearly visible and appear like festering flesh wound, ugly in appearance. This will have to be addressed. I set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. To completely eliminate the smell, I decided to resort to alcohol bath. I packed the chamber, just below the rim, with cotton balls. I stretched a cotton ball into a thick wick, tapering at one end, and inserted it in to the shank and pushed it as far inside as I could along with a regular pipe cleaner. I topped the bowl with isopropyl alcohol using a syringe. I know that it is generally a practice to use Kosher salt for this procedure, but since Kosher salt is not easily available here, and when available, it’s very expensive, I use cotton balls. I find that cotton balls work just fine in drawing out all the tars and smells from the mortise and the bowl. I topped the bowl with alcohol again after 30 minutes when the alcohol level had gone down and set it aside overnight for the cotton and alcohol to do its intended job. The next day, the cotton and alcohol had fulfilled its intended task. The pipe cleaner had also drawn out all the stain from within the mortise. I removed the cotton balls and ran pipe cleaners through the mortise to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk. The internals of the stummel is now clean and fresh and the ghost smells are history too.The stage is now set for repairs to the stummel surface. I address the fills, first by gouging out the old fills with a sharp knife and cleaning the surface with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This was followed by filling these gouges with a mix of briar dust and CA superglue. I always over fill the gouges so that when I sand them down they are smooth and I can feather in the fills with the rest of the briar. I set the stummel aside to cure overnight. I would like to remind the readers that all these days, layering of the stem button with charcoal and superglue had been in progress and now I was satisfied with the thickness of the layering. Using a needle file, I sand the filling to match the surface of the stem. However, disaster struck within a few moments of filing!! The filling broke away from the intact portion of the button. It was, in all probability, due to higher content ratio of activated charcoal in the mix (though I am not convinced entirely) or could be lack of adequate curing (most likely). The bottom line remains that I had to repeat the entire layering process on the button end again…..frustrating to say the least, thus NO PICTURES OF THE DISASTER TAKEN!!Well, what was to happen has happened!! Moving on, the stummel fills had cured and I proceeded to sand the fills with a flat head needle file and 180 and 220 grit sand papers to achieve a rough blend of the fills with the rest of the stummel.  For a better blending, I further sanded the entire stummel 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, 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 stummel with a moist cloth after each wet pad. The fills are still looking ugly and somehow I have a gut feeling that this pipe is not yet done with me!! This pipe is really testing my skills and patience!! I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips 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. This is when I observed that there are air pockets in two fills (marked in yellow circle) and the plateau rim top is still not clean! Aargh…both my faults, I know. I will address them all over again. I would like to remind the readers that all this while the layering of stem is still a work in progress!! I spot fill these air pockets with superglue and let it cure for complete two days. Finally, the button construction appears solid and I progress with filing with a flat head needle file and followed it up with sanding and finer shaping using 220, 320, 600 and 800 grit sand papers. I shaped the round slot by gentle use of a round needle file. I liberally rub some Extra Virgin Olive oil to rehydrate the vulcanite stem. But readers please do not rejoice just yet!! The repairs show a white edge in the repairs near the round slot indicating that the repair is not solid and likely to fall apart and also presence of the dreaded air pockets!! This pipe is just not willing to take repairs. It’s now becoming a fight of WILLS between us. I kept up the self conviction and self confidence, which was constantly assuaged by the encouraging words of my mentor, Mr. Steve. I persisted with the repairs and filled these areas with clear superglue and keep it aside for curing. Not wanting to waste time, I picked up the stummel again and went through the complete process of filing and sanding the fills and ending with the micromesh cycle. The fills are nice, solid and even. I even cleaned up the plateau rim top by scrubbing it with a dry brass wired brush till clean. Here is the picture of the fill at this stage. Now the only thing that remains is to blend these fills with the rest of the stummel. I intend to stain it in dark brown dye.I use the powder variety of stain and mix it with 99% isopropyl alcohol. I heated the stummel surface with a heat gun and applied the stain with a folded pipe cleaner. As I paint the stummel with stain over sections at a time, I burn the dye using a Bic lighter that combusts the alcohol in the aniline dye and sets the dye pigmentation in the wood.  After fully saturating the stummel and covering the whole surface, including the plateau rim top, I set the stummel aside to rest for several hours. Now with the stummel surface absorbing the stain, I turn towards the stem repair again. I followed the complete regime, as previously described, till I reached the stage which required micromesh sanding to bring deep shine to the vulcanite. All looked good till this stage. I sand 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, 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. Once I was through with the micromesh cycle, this is what I saw…DO NOT LOOSE HEART, I kept reminding myself and proceed to redo the entire button repair again for… I do not even remember the number of times!!! After going through the entire stages again, these repairs turn out to be good enough. But I forgot to take pictures!!!

Once the stem repair was completed, I turned my attention to the stummel. The stain had set nicely. I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel (because I do not have felt cloth buffing wheels!!) on the Dremel and set the speed at about 40% of full RPM and apply red compound to the stummel. This does help in revealing the grains gradually while masking the darker fills.

To finish, I re-attach the stem with the stummel. 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 half of the full power and applied White Diamond compound to the entire pipe. 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. 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; the photographs in this case, do not do justice to the appearance of this beautiful little pipe. Thank you for having the patience to reach this far while reading the write up, which I felt was boring and a drag while typing. So these thanks are well deserved for you. PS: – I agree with all who have observed that the stummel fills are still visible. I have observed it too, but no amount of stain pen usage, re-staining and polishing made any difference. Some fills just do not blend for whatever reason. An interesting definition of a Fill in glossary page on pipedia.org means: “A void, pit or flaw in the briar which is made level with the surface of the pipe with either putty or a mix of briar dust and cyanoacrylate glue and which, despite staining, is often visible on close inspection”.

 

 

Restoring a Tim West Pipe!!


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Tim West with a couple of his pipes

This sure is going to be an embarrassing while being a challenging project. Why? It’s embarrassing because the pipe that I have decided to work on now is made by a living legendary pipe repairman and a pipe maker from USA and here I am one who has just embarked on a journey into the world of pipe restoration with minimum of equipment, materials, spares and experience!!! It’s challenging because he is very well known to my friend and mentor, Mr. Steve Laug and living up to their standards is always a huge challenge. The project that I have selected to work on is a huge freehand pipe from Tim West!!

No, this pipe did not come to me in inheritance, but was purchased on eBay about 9 months back. Boy, am I glad that I made this purchase!! It’s a huge and heavy piece of briar with beautiful straight grain all around, including on the shank, with a plateau rim top and a vulcanite shank extension in to which fits a fancy, straight vulcanite stem. It has a shiny ring insert (or so it appears) between the shank and the shank extension. The shank extension helps in breaking the monotony of the briar while easing the flow of the humongous stummel in to the stem. The pipe has minimalistic stamping with “TIM WEST” in a slight arch over “PIPE” on the left side of the shank.I was keen to know more about Tim West, the carver and repairman, his pipe making techniques and philosophy. I searched pipedia.com and there is a very nice write up on him. I reproduce snippets information available on pipedia.com from his interview in December 1995, for a quick read.

Tim made his first pipe in 1967 and went full-time as a pipe maker in 1975. Only the best quality fully cured natural Greek Briar goes into a Tim West Briar Pipe. Tim’s designer shapes are designed for eye appeal and a great smoke. All processes, step by step, are natural processes insuring a sweet cool smoke for every recipient of a Tim West Briar Pipe.

In 1980, Tim opened Tim West Pipes, a retail shop in the Ohio Center near downtown Columbus. He closed the shop in 1991 and moved the entire business to his home workshop to concentrate on wholesaling. The workshop takes up most of the basement of his house, but it isn’t very big–some tools, racks of briar blocks, cabinets full of stems and boxes of half-finished pipes. To this day, Tim believes that he is much less mechanized than most pipemakers he knows of. He does have a top turner and a frazer, but they’re not hooked up, and the top turner is his television stand.

Tim acknowledges that, as a pipemaker, he is entirely self-taught, having learned through trial and error. He believes that pipemakers who have had the chance to study pipemaking or to work with established pipemakers are lucky because ‘it just mystified me for years wondering how they did it–while I was doing it.” And though he does use some power equipment today to drill, shape, sand and buff, everything is still set up, guided and shaped by hand.

When I asked Tim about his philosophy of papermaking, he laughed for some time. We talked further about the changes in his pipemaking over the years, and he allowed as how, during his first year at Monkey’s Retreat, a good 50 percent of his pipes were sculptured (piano pipes, toilet pipes, guitar pipes, etc.) because he had lots of time and could take a week to carve a pipe for someone. It might be his only sale for a week but would still provide enough cash to keep him in business. As his popularity grew, he needed to make more pipes and thus increasingly produced smooth shapes, either freehand or standard.

The entire interview makes for a very interesting read and is a highly recommended. Here is the link to the interview: https://pipedia.org/wiki/West

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The stummel surface of this pipe boasts of beautiful straight grain all along the stummel surface as well as on the shank. The stummel surface is covered in heavy overflow of lava which in turn has attracted a lot of dust and grime and has a few dents and dings likely due to uncared for storage. The briar is dull and lifeless and has taken on a layer of aged patina, through which one can make out the beautiful grains all round. This beautiful piece of briar will definitely clean up nicely. This pipe must have been a favorite of the previous Steward (I really like this address of a pipe smoker as coined by Mr. Dal Stanton and his reasoning for calling them as ‘Steward’) and has seen considerable use as evidenced by the thick layer of cake in the chamber. 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. However, the bowl feels robust and solid to the touch from the outside. This issue should be a breeze to address. There is a very strong but pleasant smell in the chamber.The plateau rim top has darkened considerably, due to frequent lighting, on the back side of the rim. There is a very heavy overflow of lava on the plateau rim top and covers the surface completely. This can be seen in pictures above and below. The condition of the inner edge and rim top can be commented upon only once the rim has been cleaned. The vulcanite shank end extension is heavily oxidized and is also covered in oils and tars and grime from previous usage. The mortise does show heavy accumulation of dried oils, tars and remnants of ash, greatly restricting the air flow. The vulcanite stem on this pipe is where the maximum damage is seen. The previous Steward must have been very fond of clenching his pipes while smoking. This is apparent from the damage that is seen towards the end of the stem. The stem has significant damage in the form of deep bite marks and cinching on the upper stem surface near the edge of the lip, while the lower surface has a through hole, exposing the stem’s airway. The stem’s surface around the damaged portion has become very brittle and considerably thin. The tenon on stem is covered in dried oils and tars and so is the airway. The button end hole is completely blocked save for a small opening, greatly constricting the airflow. The air flow through the stem is laborious to say the least. The fit of this stem in to the mortise is very tight and the stem does not seat completely in to the mortise (marked in yellow circle). This issue may get addressed after the mortise and tenon have been cleaned. All in all, restoring the stem will be the biggest challenge in this project. THE PROCESS
I embarked on the journey of restoring this pipe by addressing the stem first since it was damaged the most and would take considerable time to repair. First thing to do was to clean up the external surface and the internals of the stem. Since the button hole was clogged up, I used all the tools available to me in clearing up the button hole. It was not surprising at all to see chunks of dried gunk which had accumulated in the airway coming out of the airway. Once satisfied with the internal cleaning, I wiped the external surface of the stem with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol to get rid of all the dirt and grime accumulated over the surface. The number of pipe cleaners used does not tell the real story of how difficult it really was to get the internals of the stem cleaned up.I followed up this cleaning regime by gently removing the thin and cracked chips of vulcanite from around the damaged stem surface till I reached the solid vulcanite. I did so because I planned on anchoring the stem fill on solid surface. To begin the stem repairs, I smeared a pipe cleaner with petroleum jelly and inserted it in to the stem airway. I prepared a mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal and applied it over the gaping hole and cinched surface of the stem and set it aside for curing over night. For the discerning reader who would have noted that I did not resort to the trick of using the Bic lighter, the answer is that I was apprehensive that the heat from the flame of the Bic lighter would put additional stress on the expanding vulcanite resulting in greater damage to the stem. What followed this stage were endless hours and days spent in sanding, layering with a coat of charcoal and superglue mix and again following the same sequence till I achieved a solid fill. I am afraid that I have not taken enough pictures to show the progress as I had three beautiful pipes, all with their button end chewed off for about an inch and inch and a half, being worked on simultaneously. These projects were also proving to be very difficult and tedious.While the stem fillings were curing, I worked on the stummel. I started by reaming the chamber with size 4 head of PipNet reamer. The size of the chamber was so huge that I had to use the Kleen Reem reamer also. This is where I hit the second hurdle in the restoration of this pipe. There was a bump (circled in red) on the chamber walls that had hardened to an extent that the blades of the PipNet or Kleen Reem reamer could not cut through it. I began wondering with wrenching guts, if the bump is not a JB Weld repair. To further probe this bump, using my fabricated knife, I gouged at the corners and realized that it was not a JB Weld repair but just a very, very hard accumulation of cake.  I decided to soak the chamber in alcohol to loosen the cake. I packed a few cotton balls half way in to the chamber and soaked it in isopropyl alcohol for a few hours. A few hours later and the hardened cake came off easily. I used a 220 grit sand paper, pinched between my thumb and forefinger, to sand the inner walls of the chamber. 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. However, in spite of the alcohol soak and removing all the cake, the ghosting was still all too pervading!! Hopefully after the completely choked mortise has been cleaned, the smells will also fade away to oblivion. I followed up the reaming by cleaning the mortise and air way of the pipe, using hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners, q-tips and shank brush dipped in alcohol. The mortise and the draught hole was so chock-a- block with all the dried tars, oils and gunk that I had to use my fabricated spatula and the drill bit from the Kleen Reem pipe reamer!!!! Chunks of the gunk that were removed from the mortise are a testimony to how badly this pipe was abused by the previous Steward. I gave a final clean with shank brushes dipped in alcohol and dried the mortise with a rolled paper napkin. The shank internals and the draught hole appear to be clean. But the strong ghosting still persists. I shall address this issue later by giving the chamber an alcohol bath.Before progressing any further, I had to get the stummel all 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. Special attention was paid to scrub out all the dirt, dust and lava from the crevices in the plateau rim top with a brass wired brush. The stummel and plateau rim top were dried using paper napkins and soft cotton cloth. To eliminate the ghost smells from the pipe, I had decided to treat it with salt and alcohol. I do not use Kosher salt as it is not readily available here and if available, it’s very expensive. I use cotton balls which is an at par substitute as I have realized over the last year or so. I draw out a wick from the cotton and along with a folded regular pipe cleaner; insert it in to the mortise and through the draught hole in the chamber. Thereafter, I pack the chamber with cotton balls to about quarter of an inch below the rim inner edge. I soak the cotton balls with isopropyl alcohol up to the brim. About half an hour later, the level of alcohol has gone down, having being absorbed by the cotton. I top it up once again and set it aside overnight. By next afternoon, the cotton and alcohol has drawn out all the remaining oils and tars from the chamber and mortise and the cotton and alcohol had fulfilled its intended task. I removed the cotton balls and ran pipe cleaners through the mortise to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk. My, was I surprised to see that the pipe cleaners come out all sticky, black and dirty. I persisted with the cleaning till the pipe cleaners came out clean!!!! The next set of pictures tells the story by themselves. Finally, after hours of toiling and large number of pipe cleaners, I can say that the mortise is now well and truly cleaned. Also the ghosting is now consigned to history.Now that the internals of the stummel are clean, I work the external surface. I sand the vulcanite shank extension with 220 and follow it up with 320 and 600 grit sand papers and got rid of all the oxidation. I wanted to further highlight the grain seen on the stummel. To achieve this aim, I sand down the stummel using micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. The stummel now has a deep shine with grains popping out with magnificent contrast. Though this part of restoration is the second most time consuming and laborious, the end results are also the most satisfying. The play of grains, the contrast and the smooth surface are well worth the efforts. I rub a small quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil in to the shank extension and set the stummel aside for the oil to be absorbed by the vulcanite shank extension. I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to briar and let it rest for a few minutes. I took some extra efforts to work the balm in to the plateau rim top of the bowl. 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. With the stummel nice and clean and attractive, I worked the stem of the pipe. The fill on the stem had cured nicely and I sand it down 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. 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 and the tenon, 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 pictures of the final results are shown below. What is not stated and pictured here is the fact that the fills on this stem had caved in thrice and that many times I had to rebuild it from the scratch. Every time I tried to match the fill to the surrounding surface, the fill area would get thinned out and break apart. In the end, I left the fill slightly higher than the rest of the surface and was better masked during the micromesh cycle. At this point, I check for the seating of the tenon inside the mortise the find that the stem sits flushed in the mortise. 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 of the pipe. 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 stummel contrasting with the shiny black shank extension and stem, looks lovely, fresh and vibrant; the photographs speak for themselves. The beauty, size and shapes of this pipe make it one of my favorites and will find a place of pride in my modest collection. If only the pipe could tell some of the stories and techniques used by Mr. Tim West while carving pipes….Cheers!!

 

Time for an Easy Cleanup – A Pipa 2005 Bent “Blasticated” Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe in the queue came from a pipe that Jeff purchased from a fellow in New York who picks up some nice pipe for us on his “treasure hunting adventures”. This one was a Pipa 2005 Savinelli Made bent billiard. It is stamped on the underside of the heel and shank and reads Pipa 2005 over Savinelli Product followed by Italy. It is a bent billiard shaped pipe with a flat bottom on the heel and part way up the shank. With the stem it is too heavy to be a sitter but it is a beauty. The finish looks sandblasted but upon observation it was rusticated before sandblasting. It is what I call a “blasticated” finish. The rim top was smooth and had a beveled inner rim edge. There was some light tars and oils on the bevel and rim top. The pipe was dusty but the finish looked like it was rich and would clean up well. The stem is striated grey Lucite saddle with a polished brass spacer as an integral part of the stem. There is a Savinelli Shield S on the top of the saddle. The stem has some light tooth marks and chatter on both sides at the button edge. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of the pipe before clean up. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim to show the condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. There was a light coat of lava on the bevel and rim top toward the back side and a thin cake in the bowl. It appeared that the beveled inner edges were in good condition. The outer edges actually appeared to be in excellent condition.He also took a photo of the right and underside of the bowl and shank to show the “blasticated” finish on the bowl and the smooth panel on the underside. The dark and medium brown stain looked really good.Jeff took photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank and the Savinelli Shield S on the stem top. It reads as noted above. The stamping is legible and very readable.The next two photos show the stem surface. They show the light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The stem is otherwise clean. Once again, Jeff did his usual thorough clean up job on the pipe so that  when it arrived here in Vancouver it looked really good. Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl of the pipe. He rinsed it off under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove all of the lava build up on the beveled rim top of the pipe. The rim top looked very good. The grain was beautiful and the pipe looked new. The stem looked very good with its striations of silver and grey with some light tooth marks and chatter. Overall the pipe looked almost new. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work. I took close up photos of the bowl, rim and stem surfaces to capture the condition of the pipe before I started my simple restoration of the pipe. The rim top was clean and the beveled inner edge was in excellent condition. The stem was quite clean with some light tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button. The tenon was Delrin and drilled out for a 6MM or a Savinelli Balsa filter system.I took a close up photo of the stamping on the bottom of the bowl. It read as noted above in the earlier paragraphs. The rim top was in excellent condition so I polished it with 6000-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped it off with a damp cotton pad after each sanding pad.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I worked it into the grooves with a horsehair shoe brush. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The bowl and the rim top look really good and the grain really stood out on the smooth rim. The finish looks very good with the combined dark and medium brown stain on the bowl and rim. I sanded out the tooth marks with 220 grit sandpaper and then started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I was able to remove all of the scratches and tooth marks and chatter from the surface of the stem. I polished the stem and brass spacer with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cloth after each pad. I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Since I had finished both the bowl and stem I put them together and polished the stem lightly with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax 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 smooth rim top and the “blasticated” finish on the bowl really looks good polished and buffed. The rich dark brown was polished off the high points on the briar and works well with polished striated silver and grey Lucite stem. The finish on this pipe gives it a great feeling pipe in the hand and I am sure that it will be an amazing smoker. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. I will be putting this beauty on the rebornpipes store shortly and it can be added to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this Savinelli Made Pipa 2005 Bent Billiard.