Blog by Paresh Deshpande
During one of the many crib sessions with my mentor, Mr. Steve, I lamented on a couple of failed deals when he suggested me a couple of sellers on eBay with whom he has been dealing without any problems. I tried them out and they have delivered every time spot on!!!! From one of the sellers I had purchased this beautiful and nicely shaped Free Hand pipe. Now, to be honest, I am always fascinated by “Free Hand” pipes. I feel these freehand shapes let the creativity and imaginations of a carver run riot without the bindings of the exacting demands of a classical shape and finish and he has the freedom to allow the grain to dictate the shape of the pipe.
This beautiful free hand pipe has a very interesting shape and I think the following pictures will do more justice rather than my SORRY attempt at its description. The plateau rim top and shank end add a unique dimension to the overall appearance of this pipe. The left side of the stummel is sandblasted with beautiful wavy pattern of straight and cross grains and is the mirror image of the smooth surface on the right side of the stummel. The short shank is smooth surfaced and bears the stamping on the left side. It is stamped as “BARI” over “MATADOR” like a football over “HANDMADE” over “IN DENMARK”. The fancy vulcanite stem is devoid of any logo. I searched the net for information about this brand and its creator. I first turned to pipedia.org and learned that “Bari Piber was founded by Viggo Nielsen in Kolding around the turn of 1950/51. Viggo’s sons Kai Nielsen and Jørgen Nielsen both grew into their father’s business from a very young age and worked there till 1975. Bari had very successfully adapted the new Danish design that had been started mainly by Stanwell for its own models. When Viggo Nielsen sold Bari in 1978 to Van Eicken Tobaccos in Hamburg Bari counted 33 employees”, detailed read is available at this link; https://pipedia.org/wiki/Bari
I further searched other sites, including my go to site, rebornpipes.com, to know about this particular “MATADOR” series, including dating of this model. However, there is no mention of this particular line of BARI pipes. I hope some of the learned and experienced readers would be kind to share their knowledge with me and other readers.
INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The stummel is covered in dust, oils and grime giving a dull and lackluster appearance to the bowl. The sandblast rustications on the left of the stummel are, likewise, filled with dust, dirt and grime. This will need to be thoroughly cleaned. The plateau rim top and shank end too, are covered in dust, grime and lava overflow. The chamber tapers down towards the draught hole. This will pose a challenge cleaning the heel of the chamber due to the difficult reach. The cake appears to be evenly thick. The plateau rim top is covered with overflow of lava. The inner rim edge is crisp, even and intact. The chamber has a nice smell to it and is dry to the touch. The inner wall condition of the chamber will be ascertained once the chamber has been completely reamed. However, I foresee no issues at all as the bowl feels solid to the touch.The fancy stem is oxidized and came with a rubber bit. With some trepidation, I removed the rubber bit and was pleasantly surprised to find a pristine bite zone and crisp, sharp and well defined lip edges. Since there are no logo stamped on the stem surface, cleaning it should be a breeze.The shank, mortise and the airway is clogged and will only need to be cleaned and sanitized.THE PROCESS
The first step that I usually follow is the reaming of the bowl. I worked on the stummel, reaming out the cake with a Kleen Reem reamer, followed by a pipe reaming knife that I had fabricated. I brought the cake down to the bare briar. To further remove any traces of old cake and smooth the inner walls of the chamber, I sanded the inner wall surface with a 220 grit sand paper. The large mound of cake that was reamed out from the bowl far exceeded my appreciation regarding the quantity of cake in the chamber. The walls of the chamber were solid as expected; however, the old smells were still strong. I followed the reaming of the chamber with cleaning of the mortise. Using hard and regular pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol, I cleaned out the mortise and shank air way. With my fabricated spatula, I scrubbed out all the dried crud and gunk from the mortise. The amount of gunk that was scraped out from the mortise really surprised me. A number of pipe cleaners later and after a lot of scraping, the mortise is finally clean.The pipe smelled of old aromatics and even with the bowl and shank clean the smell was present. I stuffed the bowl with cotton balls and used a syringe to fill it with isopropyl alcohol. I have found that cotton balls work as well as Kosher salt does and it is not as messy. I put a cotton swab wound around a bent pipe cleaner in the shank up to the entrance of the airway into the bowl as it wicks alcohol into the shank and draws out the oils in that area. I put the pipe bowl upright in a “katori” filled with rice grains and let it sit over night to let it do its magic. The second photo shows the cotton balls, discolored with the oils after sitting overnight. Once I removed the cotton balls I scrubbed out the shank and airway with pipe cleaners and paper napkins to remove any remnants of alcohol left behind.While the stummel was air drying, I worked the stem. I started with sanding the stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. This was followed by sanding with 400 and 800 grit sand papers. This reduces the scratches left behind by the coarser 220 grit paper. I sharpened and refreshed the button with a folded 220 grit paper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rub a small quantity of EVO oil and set the stem aside. Next, I cleaned the external surface of the stummel with a hard bristled toothbrush and Murphy’s Oil soap. Very diligently, I scrubbed the plateau rim top and shank end to remove the entire dust and lava overflow embedded in the crevices of the plateau. Once the stummel was dried with paper napkins, I was not satisfied with the cleaning of the rim top and shank end plateau surface. Using a brass wired brush, I thoroughly scrubbed the plateau rim top and shank end. I was pleased with the way these surfaces appeared after this clean up. To bring a rich luster and highlight the beautiful straight grains on the smooth bowl and shank surfaces, I subjected these surfaces to a polish with micromesh pads. I wet sanded the surface with 1500 to 3200 grit pads and dry sanded with the remaining micromesh pads. The stummel looks really beautiful at this stage of refurbishing the pipe. I rubbed some “Before and After Restoration” balm deeply in to the stummel with my fingers. This balm helps in rejuvenating and protecting the briar wood. The immediate and incredible transformation that takes place is a worthy reward for all the efforts!!! The straight grains can now be clearly appreciated. I let the balm be absorbed by the briar for about 15-20 minutes and then buffed it with a horse hair shoe brush. The bowl now looks fresh and attractive with the grains popping out any which way you look at the briar. To complete the restoration, I re-attach the stem with the stummel. I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel to my local machine which is similar to the Dremel. 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. With a cotton buffing wheel earmarked for Red Tripoli, which has a finer grit than White compound, I buffed the stem to a fine glossy finish. I then re-attach the stem to the stummel, 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. This one shall be added to my modest collection of free hand pipes. Thank you for your valuable time spent in reading this chronicle of my journey.