Daily Archives: May 20, 2019

Restoring Another of Jennifer’s Dad’s Pipes – A Tinder Box Unique English Made


Once again 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 about this estate before, 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 next pipe I chose to work on from the lot was an interesting Calabash Shaped sandblast pipe stamped The Tinderbox Unique over Made in England pipe with a saddle stem. It has some beautiful mixed grain on the bowl sides and shank. It had a rich reddish 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 button was in excellent condition. 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 two 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 petite looking Tinderbox Unique Calabash with a flat rim top 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 but it could very well have protected the rim from damage. We won’t know what is under it until Jeff had cleaned it off. The stem was worn looking with a lot of deep oxidation and scratches in the vulcanite on both surfaces. There was some tooth chatter and bite marks on both sides at the button. 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 third photo shows the lava flowing down the outside of the bowl leaving a thick dark ring around the outside of the bowl. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish – the grime and grit in the grooves of the sandblast. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank. The stamping was very readable. On the underside of the shank on a smooth panel it read The Tinder Box arched over Unique. Under that it was stamped Made in England. Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the scratching, oxidation and light tooth damage to the stem surface and slight wear to the edges of the button. When I looked on the Pipedia website there was a tie between Charatan and the Tinderbox Unique brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Charatan). It appears that the brand was carved by Charatan for Tinderbox. The pipe that I am working on is clearly a Charatan shape and the Made in England stamp is also a Charatan stamp.

Before I get on to cleaning up the pipe I thought I would once again include the tribute that Jennifer wrote to her Dad for the blog. She also sent some photos and an article that her Dad wrote for Jeff and me to be able to get a feel for him. I have included those below. Note in each of them that he is holding a pipe in his left hand. I asked her to also send me an email with a brief tribute to her Dad. Here is her tribute from an 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.

He loved taking the family out for a drive, and he smoked his cigars on those trips. (As a child, those were troubling times for my stomach.)

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.

Jennifer

*https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2013/10/22/the_americans_who_died_for_canada_in_wwii.html

Once again Jeff cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. 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 finish looks very good with mixed grain around the bowl and shank. There was still some darkening on the right side of the outer edge of the rim toward the back of the bowl (I have circled the spot in red in the second photo below). 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 carved blackened rim top and stem surface. I wanted to show what an amazing job Jeff did in the cleanup of the rim top. It looked almost flawless. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the light tooth marks and chatter in front of the button on both sides. I also took photos of the stamping on the pipe on the underside of the shank. It read as noted above.There was some rim top darkening that needed to be dealt with. I scrubbed it with a brass bristle wire brush to remove the darkening and some of the debris that was still in the grooves of the finish. It did not take too much to make it clean.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the sandblast finish of the bowl and the rim top with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I worked it deep into the finish with a horsehair shoe brush. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain really made the grain 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. I painted the surface of the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to raise the tooth marks in the surface of the stem on both sides. I was able to raise the ones on the underside more than the ones on the topside.  I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the tooth marks and chatter in and to remove some of the oxidation. I was able to remove much of the damage to the surface. What remained I filled in with clear super glue. I set the stem aside to let the repairs cure.  Once the glue had cured I sanded the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the vulcanite. I followed that by sanding with 400 grit sandpaper to start the polishing process.  I shaped the button and polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I finished by wiping it 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 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 multi coloured stained 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 petite pipe feels great in my hand and when it warms with smoking I think it will be about perfect. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it from Jennifer. There should be a lot of life left in this Charatan made pipe. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 1/2 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.

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Restoring your own Petersons Pipes – Part 1


Mark Irwin sent me two pipes from the late Mike Leverette’s estate. He had been tasked with selling some of Mike’s pipes for his wife Jeanette. I asked him to pick out a pipe or pipes for restoration that covered the gamut of restoration issues for this article. Mark chose well – a reproduction 1910 Straight Bulldog and Deluxe 11S. He emailed me the descriptions of the pipes (Mark’s description of Pipe #1 is included in italics below and the description of Pipe #2 is in italics in Part 2 of this article) before I actually had the pipes in hand.

Pipe #1 –A Reproduction 1910 straight Bulldog (from the Antique Collection) that looks like it has either been left out in the sun or someone has attempted to remove the original stain. In addition, it has been poorly reamed, with what looks like a pocket knife. Stem and ferrule oxidation, no real dental damage to button.

When the pipes arrived I was excited to open the box and see them in person. It is my habit to spend time looking over a pipe very carefully before I start working on them. In this case I wanted to see the issues that Mark noted firsthand and to note others as well. I decided to work on the two pipes separately. I began with the little Reproduction 1910 Straight Bulldog.  I recorded my observations to give a clear idea of the work that needed to be done. They were as follows:

Photo 1 Bottom side of the pipe and stem

Pipe #1. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank Peterson’s over Dublin. On the right side it is stamped Made in Ireland. The stamp has classic Pre-Republic era stampings (the forked tail on the P and “Made in Ireland”). The silver ferrule/end cap is stamped K&P over three hallmarks, the last is a cursive capital “J” which dates the pipe as having been made in 1995. These are stamped above Peterson’s of Dublin on the left side and on the right side of the cap it is stamped 1910 which indicates the year this Bulldog shape first appeared in Peterson’s offer. A first pass over the pipe showed that the finish was as Mark had noted – very faded. The stain was virtually gone and the briar was a dull grey brown in colour. The silver was dented and tarnished; so much so that it was hard to read the hallmarks. The double ring around the bowl was packed with grit and grime as well as some older stain that had bunched up in balls in the grooves. Moving to the rim I could see what Mark had noted regarding the poor reaming. It was very roughly reamed and the nicks from the knife blade were many. This left the bowl out of round. The cake was hard and the surface of the rim had a build up on it that was also quite thick. Removing the stem I could see that the upper right edge of the mortise had a large crack/gap in it where a chunk of briar was missing. The mortise was tarry and dark. The chamber/sump region in the mortise was also quite full of tarry build up and grit. The stem itself was good at the insert end. There were no cracks or missing pieces, which I expected after the chip in the shank. The top side and underside of the stem were dented with tooth marks that had been worked on. The surface had deep scratches and pits in it from the previous work. It looked like the stem had been treated with bleach to deal with the oxidation which leaves the surface pitted. The top 90 degree edge of the button had a divot taken out of it. The hole in the top also was out of round with several small divots removed from the surface. On the underside of the button the ridge/shelf that goes across the bottom of the P-lip had a divot missing as well – a tooth dent that was very evident. The portion of the tenon that sat in the shank was dark and black while the rest of the stem was oxidized and had slight brown tints. The five photos below highlight the areas of concern that would need to be addressed in a restoration/refurbishment.

Photo 1 Bottom side of the pipe and stem

Photo 2 Right side view

Photo 3 Top view

Photo 4 Looking into the shank

Photo 5 Top view of the bowl and shank

After completing my observation of the pipe, I decided to begin the work by cleaning up the inside before dealing with the externals. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer – a T handle with four different sized cutting heads (Photo 6). I started with the smallest head and worked up to the size that fit the internals of the bowl (Photos 8 – 10). My objective was to take the cake out completely bringing the bowl back to briar so that I could reshape the inner edge of the rim and clean up the mess left by the knife reaming job.

Photo 6 PipNet Reamer set

Photo 7 Reaming with the second cutting head

Photo 8 Second Cutting head

Photo 9 Reaming with the third cutting head

Photo 10 Third cutting head

The finished bowl, after reaming with the various cutting heads, is shown in Photo 11 below. Once the cake was gone from the inside of the bowl I could clearly see what needed to be done to bring the bowl back into round and repair the damage to the inner rim. It was at this point I decided to top the bowl. Photo 12 below shows the process of setting up a piece of sandpaper on a hard, flat surface and sanding the bowl top by pressing it into the sandpaper and rotating it to slowly remove damaged briar from the top of the bowl. For this particular bowl I used 220 grit sandpaper. I did not want to leave deep scratches in the rim, but I wanted to smooth out the surface and remove the damaged material. Photo 13 shows the finished bowl top. I removed enough of the surface to get rid of the knife cut angles on the inner edge. Photos14 – 16 show how I sanded the inside edge of the rim using a folded piece of medium grit emery paper. The idea was to work on the inner edge and slowly and carefully bring it back to round and remove the remaining damage left by the knife. After the cleanup I used a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the remaining scratch marks left in the surface of the rim (Photo 17).

Photo 11 After reaming

Photo 12 Topping the bowl

Photo 13 Topped bowl

Photo 14 Smoothing the inner edge

Photo 15 Inner edge after smoothing

Photo 16 Close up of the inner edge

Photo 17 Sanding with a fine sanding sponge

With the bowl back in shape and the rim cleaned and sanded it was time to remove the remnants of the finish on the bowl. I wiped the bowl down with acetone on a soft cotton makeup removal pad (Photos 18 – 20). For the acetone I use fingernail polish remover. I have found that it removes the grit and oils that have ground into the bowl as well as the finish. I wiped the bowl down until I was satisfied that I had removed the finish. The best way to tell this is when the pads come back clean and fresh after wiping the bowl down.

Photo 18 Acetone and cotton pads

Photo 19 Acetone and cotton pads

Photo 20 The bowl and cotton pads after being wiped down

In Photo 21 below, the bowl is dry and clean. The finish is gone. At this point I used the drill bit in the handle of the KleenReem tool to clean out the airway in the shank and bowl. I find that this tool quickly removes the buildup in the airway and is the best way to minimize the number of pipe cleaners used to clean out the shank. I carefully twist the bit into the airway making sure not to twist it through the airway and into the other side of the bowl bottom (Photos 22 – 23).

Photo 21 Clean bowl with KleenReem Pipe Cleaner

Photo 22 Drill bit from the handle

Photo 23 Drill bit inserted into the airway

I cleaned out the double rings around the bowl using a dental pick. I wiped the bowl down with Everclear as I ran the dental pick in the grooves on the bowl. The amount of dried stain and grit that comes out of the rings makes me always take this step when I am cleaning a bulldog or Rhodesian shaped bowl (Photos 24 – 25).

Photo 24 Cleaning the rings

Photo 25 Rings cleaned

Now it was time to turn my attention to the internals of the shank – both the airway and the condensation chamber in the Peterson pipes. In the bents this is the area I call the sump. It collects a lot of tar and oils from the smoke that is drawn through it. It takes detailed work to remove all of the grime. In this case I used many pipe cleaners – both bristle and fluffy as well as cotton swabs to clean out the area. I folded the pipe cleaners in half to give me the area needed to clean out the walls of the shank. Photos 26 – 28 show the work and the resultant pile of cleaners. I cleaned out the area until the pipe cleaners came out clean and the pipe smelled clean.

Photo 26 Time to clean the shank

Photo 27 Folded and inserted

Photo 28 Many pipe cleaners later

For the silver ferrule/cap on the shank I used a jeweler’s cloth that I purchased at a local jewelry shop. It is impregnated with a cleaning solution that effectively removes the level of tarnish found on this cap. I wiped down the cap with the cloth repeatedly until the tarnish was gone and the silver gleamed. Photos 29 – 31 show the polished cap and the cleaned bowl.

Photo 29 Polished cap

Photo 30 Polished cap

Photo 31 Polished cap

With the bowl ready to restain, it was time to turn my attention to the stem. As mentioned above there were some dents and divots in the stem and button area. These would take some work. There are several different procedures that I used in addressing the issues in this stem. I always begin by sanding the area around the dents with 220 grit sandpaper to better assess the damaged areas. If the dents are merely dents then heat will lift them and the stem will return to its smooth surface. If however the dents have edges that are cut then no amount of heat will lift the areas and other methods will need to be employed. In this case the dents were indeed just dents and heat would lift those (Photos 32 – 33). The divots out of the top side of the button and the underside ridge were another matter. To reshape the 90 degree angle on the top side of the button I used a square needle file. I cleaned up the edge of the button and the place it met the surface of the stem (Photos 34 – 35). I used the same file on the bottom side of the button ridge/shelf as well. Again the idea was to clean up the edges and sharpen them the angles (Photo 36). These areas needed to be redefined in order to have the sharp and distinct edges that were originally there.

Photo 32 Topside after sanding

Photo 33 Bottom side after sanding

Photo 34 Reshaping the angles on the button topside

Photo 35 Angles reshaped with files

Photo 36 Reshaping the angles on the button bottom side

I used a Bic lighter to heat the stem surface. The key to this is to quickly move the flame across the surface of the dented areas. Do not leave it in one place too long as it will burn the vulcanite. Quickly passing it over the surface repeatedly and checking often I was able to lift the dents from both the topside and underside of the stem (Photos 37 – 39).

Photo 37 Using a Bic Lighter to lift the dents on the underside of the stem

Photo 39 Underside of the stem after heating

Photo 38 Using a Bic Lighter to lift the dents on the top side of the stem

I sanded the newly smoothed surface with a medium grit sanding sponge. When I finish heating a stem, whether I use a Bic lighter or a heat gun, I sand it to ensure that I have finished lifting the dents. It is easy to be fooled when removing it from the heat. If it needs a bit more heat after the sanding it is a simple task and best done before progressing to the next steps of sanding the stems (Photos 40-41).

Photo 40 Top side sanded with a sanding sponge

Photo 41 Underside sanded with a sanding sponge

To repair the missing chunk of briar from the inside of the shank I used some Weldbond wood glue and briar dust. It is water soluble until it dries and then is hard and impermeable. I cleaned the surface area of the shank and then put the glue in place. I moved it around the area, pressed briar dust into the glue and cleaned up the surrounding area with a dental pick (Photo 42). I set it aside to dry while I returned to the stem cleanup.

Photo 42 Shank repair

For several years now I have been using black superglue (cyanoacrylate) to repair divots from the button and stem areas. It is glue that has been used medically in the field by medics to repair tears in the skin so I believe it is safe. It dries very hard and shiny black and does not disintegrate with cleaning once it is cured. Once the stem is buffed and polished the repair is virtually invisible. On this pipe I needed to build up the divots on the edge of the button on the topside and the ridge on the underside. I purchased the black superglue from Stewart Macdonald, a supplier of repair products for musical instruments (http://www.stewmac.com/). It is slow drying so you may want to consider purchasing an accelerator product from them as well. I apply the glue to the areas I am repairing and set it aside overnight (Photos 43 – 45). It dries hard in about 6-8 hours and cures in just over twelve hours. I find that once it is dry to touch I can sand the surface and blend it into the stem.

Photo 43 Black Superglue on the ridge of the button

Photo 44 Black Superglue on the topside divot on the button

Photo 46 Superglue dried on the underside ridge

Photo 47 Glue dried on the topside

The next series of photos show the progressive sanding of the stem with 1500-12,000 grit micromesh sanding pads (Photos 48 – 59). These are also available through Steward Macdonald as well as other fine woodworking stores or can be ordered online.

Photo 48 Sanding the topside with 1500 grit micromesh

Photo 49 Sanding the underside with 1500 grit micromesh

Photo 50 Sanding the topside with 1800 grit micromesh

Photo 51 sanding the underside with 1800 grit micromesh

Photo 52 Sanding the topside with 2400 grit micromesh

Photo 53 Sanding the underside with 2400 grit micromesh

Photo 54 Sanding the topside with 3200 and 3600 grit micromesh

Photo 55 Sanding the underside with 3200 and 3600 grit micromesh

Photo 56 Sanding the topside with 4000 and 6000 grit micromesh

Photo 57 Sanding the underside with 4000 and 6000 grit micromesh

Photo 58 Sanding the topside with 8000 and 12,000 grit micromesh

Photo 59 Sanding the underside with 8000 and 12,000 grit micromesh

By this time the shank repair was dry. Photos 60 and 61 show the dried and finished repair. I used a small piece of folded 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repaired area.

Photo 60 Finished shank repair

Photo 61 Finished shank repair

I wanted to match the stain on the pipe to the original stain on this line of pipes so I researched the line on the internet and found the picture below (Photo 62) that gave me a good idea of what the stain colour should be. In studying the photo I could see both brown and red stains were used to bring out this colouration. For me this would be a two step staining process.

Photo 62 Correct stain colour

I started with a dark brown aniline stain. I have used Feibing’s Leather Dye for years as it is an aniline based stain and works very well. I thinned it 2:1 with Isopropyl alcohol to get the brown I wanted in the undercoat (2 parts stain to 1 part alcohol). I remove the stem for the staining and insert a dental pick in the shank for a handle to hold while I turn the bowl in my hands during the staining. I applied it to the bowl with a folded pipe cleaner. Once the bowl was covered with stain and while it is wet I light it on fire with a lighter. This is called flaming. It burns off the alcohol and sets the stain more deeply into the grain of the briar. Generally I start by staining the bottom of the pipe first as the stain runs toward the top naturally and then follow up with the side, back and front of the bowl. I stain the rim last and am careful to not get stain inside the bowl. I repeat the process of staining and flaming the bowl until I am happy with the coverage. Photos 63 – 66 show the bowl after it has been stained, flamed, and stained and flamed again.

Photo 63 Stained bowl topside view

Photo 64 Stained bowl right side

Photo 65 Stained bowl left side

Photo 66 Stained bowl underside

I hand buffed the newly stained pipe with a soft cotton terry cloth (old piece of bath towel) until the finish had a shine. I do this to check the coverage of the undercoat. I want to make sure that the coverage is even and that there are no heavy spots or weak spots before I give the pipe the next coat of stain (Photos 67-68).

Photo 67 Right side after hand buffing

Photo 68 Left side after hand buffing

I applied the second stain to the bowl. For this I used an oxblood coloured aniline paste stain. I don’t worry about getting it on the stem as it is thicker and does not run when applied. I start at the bottom of the bowl out of habit with this stain. I work my way around the bowl, making sure to get an even coverage of stain and finish the process by carefully staining the rim (Photos 69 – 70). Once it is applied I let it dry for about 3 minutes and then wipe it off with a soft cloth and cotton pads. I want the colour to stay in the briar but not be wet on the surface (Photos 71 – 73). Again I check for coverage to make sure I have an even colour over the entire bowl. I reapply stain to weak spots to blend them into the colour. I want an even stain coat on the entire bowl. I hand buffed the bowl a second time to check on the colour and compare it against the photograph that I had found online (Photos 74 – 77).

Photo 69 Oxblood stain applied

Photo 70 Oxblood stain applied

Photo 71 Right side after being wiped down

Photo 72 Leftside after being wiped down

Photo 73 Top side after being wiped down.

Photo 74 Right side after hand buffing

Photo 75 Leftside after hand buffing

Photo 76 Top side after hand buffing

Photo 77 Underside after hand buffing

While I liked the colour of the bowl I found that it was too dark to really match the photo colour. I wet a cotton pad with acetone and wiped the bowl down to reduce the opacity of the stain and lighten it slightly. I only wiped it down once and carefully covered the whole bowl in one detailed wipe down to keep the coverage even. The new colour look lighter and almost appears to be too light but I have learned that after I buff it and give it several coats of wax it will be a match.

Photo 78 Right side after being wiped down with acetone

Photo 79 Leftside after being wiped down with acetone

Photo 80 Underside after being wiped down with acetone

Photo 81 Topside after being wiped down with acetone

I took the bowl to the buffer and gave it a quick buff with White Diamond on the buffing wheel. It gave the bowl a good shine. I brought it back to my work table and applied a coat of Conservator’s Wax which is a microcrystalline wax and cleaner. I have found that this gives the bowl a deeper polish and shine. After that I generally take it to the buffing wheel and give it multiple coats of carnauba wax (Photos 82 – 83).

Photo 82 After buffing and waxing

Photo 83 After buffing and waxing

At this point in the process of refurbishing the work is just about finished. The cleanup and restoration work is done and all that remains is to apply the final coats of carnauba wax to polish and protect the “new” look of your pipe.

The final photos show the finished pipe. It has had several coats of carnauba wax and was buffed with a clean flannel buffing pad on the buffer. The shine is deep and rich. The stem looks new and the rich dark shine reflects light well.The tooth marks are gone and there is no sign of their earlier presence. The bowl is back in round and ready to load up and smoke.

Photo 84 Right side view of the finished pipe.

Photo 85 Left side view of the finished pipe

Photo 86 Bottom side view of the finished pipe

Photo 87 Top view of the finished pipe

Photo 88 Top view of the finished pipe

Restoring & Restemming an 1851 Ben Wade Silver Clad Cutty


Blog by Steve Laug

Over the past months in preparation for our trip to visit Paresh and his family in Pune, India we talked about what pipes we would work on while visiting. We had the notion that it would be the first ‘International’ gathering of Pipe Restorers. After all Dal Stanton was coming from Bulgaria, Jeff from US, Paresh and Abha and family from India and I was coming from Canada. It was going to be a grand time of restoring and sharing our tips and processes. I brought along a potential stem for either a meerschaum that Paresh had inherited from his Grandfather or from an early Ben Wade Fancy cutty. In the course of our time there Paresh and I looked over the stem I brought with me and tried it on the meerschaum and the Ben Wade. We chose not to use the stem on the meerschaum and it was too large in diameter for the Ben Wade. We decided that I would bring it home and see what I had in my can of stems.

I took photos of the bowl prior to my cleanup and restemming. The pipe came to me with a bone tenon in the mortise. In the process of cleaning the pipe and working to remove the tenon it cracked off in the shank leaving a broken tenon stuck in the shank. Since it was a threaded tenon removing it would be a matter of drilling out the broken portion of the tenon. Other than that the briar was dirty and the varnish finish was spotty. The silver leaves around the rim top and shank end were also tarnished and dirty. There were some dents in the rim top. The shank would have to wait for checking until I removed the broken tenon. The silver shank cap had a series of hallmarks on the top left of the cap. There were three running from the left of the photo to the end of the shank on the right. The first hallmark is a passant lion in a cartouche which signifies that the band is silver and that it was crafted by a British silversmith. The second hallmark was a shield shaped cartouche with three towers in it – two on the wider part of the shield and one below toward the point. This hallmark identifies the city in England where the silver was crafted – in this case Newcastle. The third hallmark was a square cartouche with the capital letter “M” in the box. The “M” is a date letter that will give me the year of the making of the pipe.I turned to a website that I use for dating English silver hallmarks. It is a British Hallmark site that gives the information necessary to interpret the hallmarks on silver items made in Britain (https://www.925-1000.com/dlNewcastle.html). On a chart from silver made in Newcastle from 1702-1884 I found what I was looking for. I have included the chart below with the date letter circled in red.Armed with that information, it was time to start working on the pipe itself. I started by reaming the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer using the first two cutting heads to take the cake back bare briar. I followed that by cleaning up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I sanded the walls of the bowl with a piece of dowel wrapped with 220 grit sandpaper. I sanded the inner edge of the rim with a folded piece of worn 220 grit sandpaper to clean off the silver edge of the cap folded into the bowl. I wanted the walls bare of cake so that I could check the walls for heat fissures or cracking. I cleaned out the inside of the shank and mortise with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until the swabs came out clean. I was quite surprised that the pipe was as clean as it was given its age and the condition of the cake in the bowl.I wiped down the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to clean off the varnish on the outside of the bowl. I scrubbed it until the finish was natural briar and the grain began to come to the surface of the bowl. I cleaned the tarnish on the silver rim top cap and the shank end cap with a tarnish remover and silver polish. I removed darkening in the carved leaves and flowers on the silver. I scrubbed the silver with a cotton pad to remove the tarnish. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into finish of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Restoration Balm really makes the grain stands out beautifully.  I buffed the bowl with a microfiber cloth to raise a shine on the bowl and the silver. I took photos of the pipe bowl as it stood at this point in the restoration process. It is a beautiful pipe with an elegance that speaks of the years in which it was manufactured.  I set the stem aside and worked on the stem that I had chosen for a replacement. The amber colour and the flow of the colour in the stem make it a great candidate for an amber look alike replacement stem. Once the airway was drilled the diameter of the replacement tenon I used a tap to cut new threads in the airway of the stem to receive new tenon. I threaded the new tenon into the tapped airway in the stem and took photos at this point in the process. I glued the tenon in the stem with clear super glue and let the glue set. Once it had cured I sanded the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the new stem. I followed that by sanding the stem with 400 grit sandpaper to smooth out the scratches in the surface of the stem. I turned the stem onto the shank to get a feel for what the pipe would look like when it was completed. The following photos show the look of the finished pipe. I still need to polish the stem with micromesh sanding pads and buff it to raise the shine. But I like the way the pipe is beginning to look.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding 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. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and gave it a final coat and set it aside to dry.  I carefully buffed the pipe bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I lightly buffed the stem with Blue Diamond to raise a shine. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing wheel to raise the shine. I polished the silver rim top cap and the band with a jeweler’s cloth once more, then hand buffed the entire pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. This 168+ year old restemmed and restored Ben Wade Cutty is really a beautiful pipe. The grain really stands out with a combination of birdseye, cross grain and swirls surrounding the bowl give it a rich look. The rich contrasting brown stains makes the grain stand out against the silver adornments. It is a proportionally well carved pipe. The polished black acrylic stem had a rich glow. The finished pipe is a beautiful straight Cutty that feels good in the hand and the mouth. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This pipe will be going back to Paresh in Pune, India very soon. I am excited to hear what he thinks of this beauty. Thanks for walking through the restoration and restemming with me as it was a pleasure to work on.