Blog by Steve Laug
Time to get back to Jennifer’s Dad’s pipes. The next pipe on the worktable is from the estate of George Rex Leghorn. You may not have read this so I will retell the story. I received an email from Jennifer who is a little older than my 64+ years about whether I would be interested in her Dad’s pipes. My brother Jeff and I have been picking up a few estates here and there, so I was interested. Here is the catch – she did not want to sell them to me but to give them to me to clean up, restore and resell. The only requirement she had was that we give a portion of the sales of the pipes to a charity serving women and children. We talked about the organization I work for that deals with trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and their children and she decided that would be a great way to carry on the charitable aspect of her Dad’s character. With some great conversation back and forth she sent the pipes to Jeff and he started the cleanup process on them. Once he had finished cleaning them all he sent them to me to do my work on them.
The third pipe I chose to work on from the lot was another craggy looking Dunhill. This one was a Tanshell Zulu shaped pipe. It had a beautiful sandblast on the bowl sides and shank. It had the Dunhill Tanshell rich tan brown stain but it was dirty and hard to see the colour well. The stem was badly oxidized with tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button. The transition to the button was worn to almost an angle. There was a thick cake in the bowl and it had overflowed with lava was dirty and tired looking. It had been sitting in boxes for a lot of years and it was time to move ahead with the restoration. Jennifer took photos of the pipes she was sending. I have included three she included from this pipe. When the box arrived from Jennifer, Jeff opened it and took photos of each pipe before he started his cleanup work on them. This rugged looking Dunhill Zulu appeared to be in good condition underneath the grime and oxidation on the bowl and stem. The finish looked intact under the grime. The bowl had a thick cake that had hardened with time. The lava overflow on the rim could very well have protected the rim from damage. We won’t know what is under it until Jeff had cleaned it off. It had a Sterling Silver band on the shank that probably was a repair band to deal with a crack in the shank. The stem was worn looking with a lot of deep oxidation and some tooth chatter and deep bite marks on both sides at the button. As mentioned above the button was worn. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the edges of the bowl. It was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage.The sandblast grain around the bowl sides and heel was quite beautiful. Lots of interesting patterns in the blast that would clean up very nicely. It was a beautiful pipe.Jeff took photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank. The stamping was clear and readable. It read 589 on the heel of the bowl – the shape number which is a bit of a mystery as I cannot find that number. That was followed by Dunhill over Tanshell. Next to that it read Made in England with a superscript 0 after the D making this a 1960 pipe. I am guessing that there may have been a circle 4 followed by a T which gave the size of the pipe and the fact that it is a Tanshell Briar but it is covered by a sterling silver band.Jeff took photos of the stem – first the White Spot on the top side of stem and then the top and underside of the stem at the button. You can see the tooth damage to the stem surface and the wear to the edge and top of the button. I am once again including the tribute that Jennifer consented to her Dad for the blog. She is also sent some photos of her Dad and her step mom. Note the pipe in his hand in both photos. She also included some things that her Dad wrote for Jeff and me to be able to get a feel for him. In the meantime I asked her to also send me an email with a brief tribute that I can use until then. Here is her email to me.
Steve, I want to thank you again for accepting my dad’s pipes. They were so much a part of my dad’s life that I could not simply discard them. But as his daughter, I was not about to take up smoking them either. *laughing* I think my dad would like knowing that they will bring pleasure to others. I know that I do.
I’m not sure what to say about his pipes. I always remember Daddy smoking pipes and cigars.
First a bit about my dad. Though my father, George Rex Leghorn, was American (growing up in Alaska), he managed to join the Canadian Army at the beginning of WWII, but in doing so lost his American citizenship. He was fortunate to meet a Canadian recruiting officer who told him the alphabet began with “A” and ended with “Zed” not “Zee”, and also told him to say that he was born in a specific town that had all its records destroyed in a fire. When the US joined the war my dad, and thousands of other Americans who had made the same choice*(see the link below for the article), were given the opportunity to transfer to the US military, and regain their citizenship.
After WWII, my dad, earned his degree at the University of California Berkeley and became a metallurgist. There is even a bit about him on the internet.
I most remember my father relaxing in his favorite chair with a science fiction book in one hand and a pipe in the other… Sir Walter Raleigh being his favorite tobacco… and the pipes themselves remind me of him in that contented way. If I interrupted his repose, he’d look up, with a smile on his face, to answer me.
It seemed he smoked his Briarwood pipes the most, though he had others. At the time, it was only the Briarwood I knew by name because of its distinctive rough shaped bowl. And it was the Anderson Free Hand Burl Briar, made in Israel, which I chose for his birthday one year, because I thought he might like that particular texture in his hand.
At least two of his pipes, he inherited from his son-in-law, Joe Marino, a retired medical laboratory researcher (my sister Lesley’s late husband)… the long stemmed Jarl (made in Denmark), and the large, white-bowled, Sherlock Holmes style pipe. I believe Joe had others that went to my dad, but Lesley was only sure about those two.
The Buescher, corncob pipe my older sister Lesley bought for Daddy while on one of her travels around the States.
A note on the spelling of my sister’s name… My dad met my mother, Regina, during WWII and they married in Omagh, Ireland. My mother was English and in the military herself. The English spelling of Lesley is feminine, and Leslie masculine, in the UK… just the opposite of here in the United States. I guess my mom won out when it came to the spelling of the name.
I’ll send you photos of my dad soon, along with his WWII experience story.
Once again Jeff cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The sandblast was rugged and beautiful. There was still some darkening and burn marks on the rim top and also a dark spot on the heel of the bowl. There were some white paint flecks in the grooves of the briar. The band on the shank was rough on the stem edge. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the rim top and stem surface. I wanted to show what an amazing job Jeff did in the cleanup of the rim top but remaining darkening and burn damage. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks and chatter in front of the button on both sides. I also took a photo of the stamping on the pipe – to capture the stamp in one photo. It read as noted above. The next photo shows some of the damage to the band on the left side of the photo. There is also a small crack on the bottom part of the shank that can be seen in the photo above.To clean up the paint specks on the blast and to work on the darkening on the rim top I used two different brass bristle brushes that I use at time like this – a coarse one and a fine one and isopropyl alcohol. I also worked over the dark spot on the heel of the bowl. I was worried that it might be a potential burn through but the briar was solid both inside and outside the bowl. It looked as if the pipe may have been set down in an ashtray and bumped against a burning cigar or cigarette. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I worked it deep into the sandblast finish with a horsehair shoe brush. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of the blast really stand out. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point. I am very happy with the results. The band was loose so I took it off and cleaned up the rough edge on the topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I smoothed out the edge with a flat blade screw driver. Once I had it reshaped I glued it in place on the shank.This is when I should have called it a night and stopped working on the pipe. But I didn’t and fiddled with the fit of the stem against the band. All was going really well and the fit was better than it looked in the photos above. I was getting excited about the pipe starting to look pretty good. I slowly turned the stem to remove it and there was a sickening pop! If you have worked on pipes long enough you know that sound and the sinking feeling that you get when it happens. The tenon snapped off tight against the stem and was stuck in the shank. After my initial sick feeling and a response of wanting to chuck the pipe across the room I settled down and started to look at what I had done! I used a screw to pull the broken tenon out of the shank and took a photo of the damages. Now I needed to replace the tenon! Frustration galore.I flattened the tag end of the broken tenon on the stem with my Dremel and sanding drum, being careful to not make more work for myself in the process. I took out my cordless drill and got started drilling out the end of the stem for a new tenon. I started with a bit slightly larger than the airway and worked my way up to the size of the insert.I used the Dremel and sanding drum to reduce the diameter of both ends of the tenon – the insert end to fit the stem and the mortise end to fit the mortise. It was slow going but worked well. I used a slow drying super glue to anchor the tenon in the stem and checked the fit in the shank. It was as close as I was going to get it so I set it aside to dry.Once the new tenon was set I turned to address the multiple tooth marks on the stem surface of both sides. Surprising the button surface itself was ok and free of tooth marks (I would also need to build up the slot and button edges but I would get to that soon enough). I called it a night and set the stem aside while I went to sleep.In the morning the repair had cured and I used a needle file to smooth out the repaired spots and also reshape the sharp edge of the button. I sanded the repairs and the rest of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the fills in and to remove some of the oxidation. I followed that by sanding with 400 grit sandpaper to start the polishing process. Now I needed to address the damage to the slot and the button. The slot was too far to the left side of the stem and looked like there was missing material on that side of the button. I used a needle file to open the slot to the right side and then built up the left edge of the button with super glue and charcoal powder. It took a process of layering until I go the flow and shape just right. I shaped it with files and sandpaper until the shape worked for me. I shaped the button and polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and polished the bowl and stem 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 Tanshell sandblast finish on this briar is quite beautiful and the shine on it makes the variations of colour really pop. The pipe polished up really well. The wax and the contrasting stain on the bowl made the grain just pop on the briar. The polished black vulcanite seemed to truly come alive with the buffing. The pipe feels great in my hand and when it warms with smoking I think it will be about perfect. Even though it is far from flawless there is still a lot of life left in this old timer. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This is one that will go on the rebornpipes online store shortly. If you want to carry on the pipe trust of George Leghorn let me know. Thank you Jennifer for trusting us with his pipes. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners, we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.