Daily Archives: July 7, 2019

New Life for a Broken Nording Danmark F Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

In one of the bags of parts Jeff purchased there was a bowl and there was a piece of shank with a stem in place. We took all the parts out of the bag and were able to see that these two parts actually went together. The shank piece is stamped on the underside as follows: F over NORDING over DANMARK near the horn extension/shank union. The bowl shape follows the grain of the block of briar very well. The break in the shank was not a clean one – it was a mess. The inside of the airway was plugged with lava and tar. Someone had tried to repair the two parts by gluing them together with epoxy. As expected the repair did not hold. Jeff took photos of the pieces to show the extent of the damage to the pipe – it really was a stunning pipe originally. The shank was thin but the briar was thick enough. The nice piece of striated horn that made a shank extension was in excellent condition. There was a steel tube in the end of the horn where the stem sat in place to protect it from splitting when the stem was repeatedly inserted. The turned fancy stem was in good condition with some tooth marks on both sides but otherwise it was undamaged. There was a thick cake in the bowl and a heavy overflow of lava on the rim top.The next series of photos shows the two parts of the shank and the thick buildup of tars and oils in the shank interior and the broken briar around the shank. The next photos show the rim top and the thick cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the plateau top. The valleys and high spots are almost filled smooth with lava.Jeff also took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the grain on the pipe. The finish is very dirty but the grain is quite beautiful. There are nicks and dents in the briar.The stamping on the shank portion of the broken pipe is readable but worn. The joint between the shank and the horn extension is very good – solid. The metal tube in the shank end provided the internal strength to hold this joint tight. It is interesting to note that the shank broke just ahead of the tube inside the shank. The stem appeared to be in good condition. The button was worn with tooth marks on the topside. There was some oxidation and wear on the surface near the button.Jeff reamed the bowl and cleaned up the plateau top with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush. He scrubbed it until it was clean. He cleaned out the inside of the two parts of the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until the airway was clear. He cleaned up the broken ends of the shank with a tooth brush and the soap. He rinsed off the bowl and shank and the airway with warm water. He dried it off and set it aside. He cleaned up the stem and let it soak in a bath of Before & After stem deoxidizer. He took it out of the bath and rinsed it off and cleaned out the airway with pipe cleaners and alcohol. When I arrived he showed me the parts. They were incredibly clean. I was excited to get started on the repair of the broken shank… so much so that I forgot to take pictures of the cleaned up parts of the pipe.

I picked up some tubing at Hobby Lobby and cut off a piece that was close to the length I needed to join the two parts of the shank together. I used a Sawsall blade and a hacksaw to cut a length from the tube. I used a metal rasp to flatten the end of the piece of tube and shorten it enough to fit into the two parts of the shank. I used the small blade on a pocket knife to open up the airway in the bowl end of the shank and to flare the end of the tube in the stem end of the shank.I used the hacksaw to rough up the surface of the tube so the glue would have a surface to bond to between the briar and the tube. I used some Testor’s Metal and Wood Glue to insert the tube into the bowl end of the shank. I used a tooth pick to press the glue into the area around the tube. I filled in the remainder of the gap with clear Gorilla glue.I used the tooth pick to put Gorilla Glue on the open ends of each piece of the shank. I coated the tube with some glue as well. I aligned the two parts and pressed the pieces together. I held them tightly in place until the glue set and the two parts were bound together. I filled in the repaired area with Gorilla Glue to smooth out the repair. I set the bowl aside to let the repair cure. Once the glue had cured and the shank was solid, I smoothed out the repair a medium and fine sanding block. I sanded the repaired area and glue with 1500 and 1800 grit micromesh sanding pads to remove the excess glue. I smoothed out the finish. I decided to use Mark Hoover’s Briar Cleaner at this point in the process to clean off the briar. It works to remove the dust and debris in the briar and leaving behind a clean piece of briar. I polished the bowl and horn shank extension with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process. It is a nice looking pipe for sure. At this point in the process I brought the pipe back to Vancouver. I sanded the repaired area with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surrounding briar. I wanted to remove some of the darkened area around the repair so that I could polish it further and restain the shank to match the rest of the pipe.I polished the repaired area with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads to polish out the sanding scratches. I polished it further with 3200-12000 grit pads. Once it was smooth I stained it with a Cherry stain pen to blend it into the rest of the pipe. The photos tell the story of the repair. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar and set it aside to dry. Once the Balm had been doing its work for a while I buffed it down with a microfiber cloth. The Balm cleaned, protected and enlivened the briar. The repaired shank was looking very good at this point in the process. I cleaned the pipe stem with a new version of Mark Hoover’s Before & After Restoration Balm that he had designed to work well on both the briar bowls and the vulcanite stems. I rubbed it into the surface of the stem with my fingertips and buffed it off with a microfibre cloth. I polished the stem with microfibre pads – wetsanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it off with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. After the 12000 grit pad I polished it with Before & After Fine Polish and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I put the stem back on the pipe and took the pipe to the buffer. I carefully buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish the briar and the vulcanite. I wanted to get a shine but not risk damaging the pipe by having it fly off the wheel. Blue Diamond does a great job on the smaller scratches that remain in both briar and vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and 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 really nicely with a great contrasting stain look to the briar. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is a beautiful Eric Nording F Freehand – the fancy turned stem and the horn shank extension give the pipe a great look. The polished black vulcanite stem looks really good with the rich browns standing out in the grain and the blacks of the plateau rim. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 7 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches wide and 2 inches long, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This pipe is truly a rebornpipe. The shank repair and inside tube that binds it together should last a long time. Thanks for walking with me through the repair and the restoration of this beauty!

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Rejuvenating an All Briar Oval Shank Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next few blogs I am writing are about pipes that I worked on with Jeff on a recent visit to Idaho for my Father’s 91st birthday. The first of these was a pipe that came from one of the pipe lots Jeff picked up on his travels. It was a group of old, unsmoked pipes form the early 1900s. The pipe I am working on now is an all briar pipe with the stem part of the shank. It bears no stamping or identifying marks at all. The briar is quite nice with a mix of grain around the sides and shank. The rim top is perfect and there is no damage to the inner or outer edges of the bowl. The bowl itself was unsmoked and very clean. The finish was dirty and somewhat lifeless. There were dent marks mid bowl on the left side and nicks in the briar on the right. The briar bit was flawless with no tooth damage or marks. I took the following photos to show what pipe looked like before I started. It is a very striking little all briar pipe. I took some close up photos of the bowl top and the solid briar shank and stem combination. The rim top is perfect and smooth – a little dusty but otherwise clean. The shank/stem combination is flawless. There are some small nicks in the shank but otherwise the shank and stem are perfect.I received a package with some more Restoration Balm from Mark Hoover while I was in Idaho. He included a sample of a new product that he was experimenting with called Briar Cleaner. It is to be used prior to scrubbing (possibly instead of scrubbing) and to be followed up with the Balm. I decided to give it a try on the pipes I was working on with Jeff. I rubbed the Briar Cleaner into the bowl and shank with my finger tips and scrubbed it off with a cotton pad. It left behind some grit that I would need to deal with but otherwise lifted dirt and grime from the grain. I am still not sure if it a necessary extra step for me or not but I am working with it on the next few pipes. The photos below show the pipe after cleaning with the product. I wiped it down with a wet cotton cloth and prepped the briar for steaming out the dents on the left side of the bowl. I heated a steam iron and wetted a cotton cloth. I put the wet cloth on the dent in the side of the bowl. I put the hot iron on the wet cloth and the steamed the dents out of the briar. I repeated it until the steam had lifted the dents to the surface. Once I had steamed out the dents in the briar I polished the bowl with micromesh sanding pads. I had ordered several sets of them before I left Canada and had them shipped to Idaho to arrive while I was there. I wet sanded with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I rubbed some Before & After Restoration Balm into the one piece All Briar pipe. I worked it into the grain with my finger tips and let the bowl sit while the Balm did its work on the briar. Once it had been sitting for a few moments I buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth. The photos show the bowl after the Balm had worked. I finished the pipe by buffing it with a microfiber cloth to raise a shine in the briar. The briar came alive with the buffing and the grain just popped. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a petite pipe measuring 4 ½ inches in length, 2 inches in height. The outside diameter of the bowl is 1 ¼ inches and a chamber diameter of ¾ of an inch. The briar shows some cross grain, birdseye and flame grain around the bowl. It is a beautiful little All Briar Billiard that is going to be a fun pipe to break in and enjoy. Thanks for reading the blog. Keep an eye open for the next few blogs that follow showing the other pipes that I worked on while I was in Idaho. Enjoy.

Family Relic: My Great Grandfather’s Meer Pipe


Blog by Kumayl Rashid

Kumayl tells the story of how I met him and my invitation to him to write a blog on the pipe that he wanted to restore as a part of his heritage. I do not need to repeat any of that for the readers as he does a great job introducing the pipe and himself. I am glad to welcome him to the rebornpipes family with this first blog that he has written for us. Give it a read and you will get a sense of the man and his work. Welcome Kumayl. It is a pleasure to have you here. – SteveDifferent views of the pipe (post-restoration).

June 27, 2019:

Some background and an apology – It was July 2017 that I met Steve. He was kind enough to carve some time out of his day to educate me (in person!) on pipes and the art of restoration. I had recently come into the possession of my great grandfather’s pipe – a beautifully rusticated, black meerschaum. Steve kindly requested that I write a short piece about the pipe’s history and I gladly accepted. I did some research and put together a few paragraphs before work and school dominated my life. Well, two years have passed by way too quickly and needless to say, I didn’t submit that article. An apology to Steve for taking so long, but hopefully you appreciate this little bit of family and pipe history. As I already wrote a good chunk of the article two years ago, I kept any time references relative to July 2017. Note, this isn’t too much of a restoration article as it is a history lesson. Enjoy!

July 2017:

I only recently got into pipe smoking, collecting, and minor restoration and it didn’t take long before I learned that my great grandfather (paternal grandmother’s father or, father’s mother’s father) was also a pipe smoker. It came up in a conversation with my parents where my father was reminiscing memories of his grandfather. The whereabouts of any of his pipes, if they still existed, were unknown. The only logical step was to visit my great uncle – family historian, storyteller, and keeper of relics.

I went over to my great uncle’s place to inquire about the existence of any of my great grandfather’s pipes. Almost immediately upon asking, my great uncle lead me through his humble rancher to a bedside table. A small black pipe, in all its glory, lay there among assorted knick-knacks; set aside, but seemingly never completely forgotten. I held the pipe in my hands, lost for words. Knowing my great grandfather had held and smoked this very pipe was astounding to me. I hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting him but was always reminded of his mannerisms and life story. My great grandfather was Hassanali Nasser Virji – son of a merchant prince, heir to a business empire, businessman, first Mayor of Mwanza, pioneer, and an immigrant. Born in Bagamoyo (the then capital of German East Africa) on November 3, 1905, he spent the greatest portion of his life in Mwanza, later becoming the first mayor of the town in 1957. He immigrated to Vancouver, BC with his family in 1977. He passed away just three years later on December 29, 1980.(Left) My great grandfather wearing the mayoral collar, circa 1957. (Right) A headshot from later in life, date unknown.

Once my running mind had returned to the present, I continued to marvel at the pipe – its in-hand feel and rustication. As habit now has it, I inspected it for any possible markings or indication of manufacturer and origin. On the bottom of the shank was inscribed “GENUINE block meerschaum 14”. There was a faded inscribed logo on the side of the stem, which I gathered could represent an elephant. Perhaps the most astonishing thing about the several-decade-old pipe was its condition. Apart from some oxidation of the stem, it was perfect. The exterior of the meerschaum bowl still held a shine with no chips or cracks to be seen. The inside of the bowl was clearly used, but still smooth and free from any debris. It was clear that my great grandfather cared for this pipe meticulously. From a very particular man who often preached to his children things like “a place for everything and everything in its place”, this was no surprise.(Top) Inscription on the bottom of the shank. (Bottom) The pipe bowl in pristine condition.

The feeling of holding this family relic, that was seemingly frozen in time, was absolutely indescribable. After showing so much interest in the pipe, my great uncle passed the trust on to me. To this day, my great grandfather’s pipe is one of my most prized possessions.

After I was made the next steward of the pipe, I had to find out more about it. As soon as I got to a computer, I searched through some of the trusty reference sites that Steve had provided me – pipedia.org and pipephil.eu. A few clicks and I was able to postulate that the pipe was most likely a Kiko Countryman – this, based on some similarities of posted pictures, descriptions, and most notably the elephant logo. Kiko was a brand of Amboseli Pipes from the Tanganyika Meerschaum Corporation.

Tanganyika was the mainland part of modern-day Tanzania and was a colony of German East Africa from 1885-1916. In 1916, during World War 1, the territory was seized by the United Kingdom and placed under British rule. It wasn’t until December 9, 1961, that Tanganyika gained independence from the United Kingdom and was named Tanzania (later merging with Zanzibar to form the United Republic of Tanzania). It’s in this territory that the Tanganyika Meerschaum Corporation was formed in 1955 after a Kenyan businessman discovered a meerschaum mine close to Mount Kilimanjaro. This meerschaum deposit along with a few others were all in the Amboseli region at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

The meerschaum mined from this area is usually brown, black or yellow, is tougher, less porous, and considered to be of a lower quality compared to the Turkish variety. East African meerschaum was exported worldwide for use in the pipe industry. A subsidiary, Amboseli Pipes (also referred to in some sources as the Kilimanjaro Pipe Company Ltd.) produced several brands: Caveman, Countryman, Huntsman, Hillbilly, Kiko, Kilimanjaro, Kudu, Makonde, Merlin, Sportsman, Townsman, and others. Each sub-brand sharing or carrying unique animal logos (elephant, rhinoceros, bird, antelope to name a few).(Top) Faded elephant logo. (Bottom) A profile shot of the pipe used to compare with online sources.

After comparing pipe descriptions, pictures, and the logo found on my great grandfather’s pipe, I settled on the hypothesis that it was a Kiko Countryman (perhaps model #14, from the number found on the shank). Kiko literally means “pipe” in Swahili (Tanzania’s national language). The Tanganyika Meerschaum Corporation was eventually closed after an attempt to keep it running by a Belgium firm. East African meerschaum has been used in pipe manufacturing as recently as 2001 according to Pipedia. For more history and background, I highly recommend checking out Pipedia’s writeup at the following link: https://pipedia.org/wiki/Kiko.Some pictures of the pipe, pre-restoration. Note the slight oxidation (brown tint) on the mouth-end of the stem.

After completing my research, I picked up the pipe once again, now with a greater appreciation of its origins and perhaps rarity (though it remains priceless to me). It was a truly special piece as it was mined, manufactured, and likely purchased in my family’s native Tanzania. At this point, I was torn as to whether I wanted to touch the pipe at all considering its history, meaning, condition and how pristine it looked for its age. However, the stem was showing some age, so that’s where I decided to focus my restoration efforts.The disassembled pipe. This was my first encounter with a threaded tenon system.Close-up details of the buildup and oxidation on the tenon and stem, respectively.

As with previous stem restorations I’d done, I started with sanitization – some bristle pipe cleaners dipped in 91% alcohol did the trick. I ran the soaked pipe cleaners through the stem until one came out near white. I then cleaned the threaded tenon system with a medium bristle toothbrush and some more alcohol just to get rid of any debris and minor buildup. The next step was to clean the outside of the stem with cotton pads and yet more alcohol. This gets rid of any dirt adhered to the surface.The stem, post-sanitization. Oxidation still present.

It was then time to soak the stem in a solution of oxi-clean and warm water to loosen up the oxidation. After a 30-minute soak and one more pass through with a pipe cleaner, the stem was ready for sanding.(Left) The stem after an oxi-clean soak; uniform, matte black finish. (Right) Micro-Mesh sanding pads.

I turned to my trusty Micro-Mesh sanding pads. I worked through from a 1,500 to a 12,000-grit pad, sanding the stem while trying to avoid removing the elephant marking completely. Patiently working through all the pads ensures a deep shine that’ll last. A quick wipe/buff with a dab of oil (I had almond oil on hand) and a microfiber cloth and the stem was nearly finished.

At this point, I attempted to re-ink the elephant logo using some fine implements (toothpick and a sewing needle) and some white acrylic paint. Unfortunately, even though the logo was still visible, it’s far too shallow to re-ink given my very limited experience.The finished and re-assembled stem. The shallow elephant logo can still be made out.

That’s all there was to the restoration aspect of this pipe. I reassembled the pipe and gave it a quick wipe with a microfiber cloth. Finished pipe.

I still have mixed feelings about actually firing it up. Perhaps on my great grandfather’s birthday and/or death anniversary, I will honour his memory with a smoke (likely an English blend as he would’ve enjoyed) through this great little meer pipe. I’m currently looking into getting a display case for the pipe so that I can have it out for my family to view and enjoy. The pipe will stay with me from here on out and will be passed down along with my great grandfather’s autobiography for generations to come. Finished pipe.

Web Sources: pipedia.org, pipephil.eu, wikipedia.org