Blog by Steve Laug
One of the gifts I brought home from Pune, India and my visit with Paresh, Abha, Mudra and Pavni was one of his Grandfather’s unique pipes. It is an old timer that is very similar to a CPF Cromwell pipe that I restored previously. I referred to this very pipe in that blog. Here is the link to the blog on that pipe (https://rebornpipes.com/2017/07/01/out-damn-spots-a-c-p-f-cromwell-double-vertical-stem-bent-billiard/). Paresh’s Grandfather was obviously gifted this old pipe. It did not appear to have been smoked very much (unlike the other pipes that Paresh received from him). Like the C.P.F. pipes from this time period this WDC Marlborough has some real charm. It is on the petite side of things – 4 ½ inches long and 1 3/4 inches tall. It is not a bad piece of briar, a mix of grains. The brass/silver collar on the shank is stamped with faux hallmarks and the WDC triangle logo. The stem is the unusual part of the mix. It has two brass plated spigot tenons that fit into openings in the shank collar. The twin stems merge into one single airway. Looking at it I could not wait to examine it and see the internals in the mortise and shank. The finish was worn but the pipe looked like it still had some life in it. The left side of the shank is stamped in worn gold leaf Marlborough in script. The right side of the shank is stamped in gold leaf with the WDC Triangle logo. The stem is also stamped on the left side with the WDC triangle and SOLID RUBBER on the right side. I took photos of the pipe from a variety of angles to show the uniqueness and the condition before I started my cleanup work. I took some close up photos of the bowl top to show what it looked like before I started the cleanup work on it. I also included some close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks and chatter on both sides. The finish looks very good with a little dust and debris on the briar.The stamping on the left side of the shank and stem is readable – Marlborough on the shank in gold leaf and WDC in a triangle on the stem. It is clear and readable. You can also see the hallmark and logo on the brass/silver band. The stamping on the right side of the shank and stem is also clear. The shank reads WDC in a triangle in gold leaf and the stem reads SOLID RUBBER. I took the stem out of the shank and took a photo of the parts of the pipe. You can see the dual ports in the shank and the dual ports in the stem. I turned to the previous blog on the CPF pipe to refresh my memory of the information I had found at that point in the processs (https://rebornpipes.com/2017/07/01/out-damn-spots-a-c-p-f-cromwell-double-vertical-stem-bent-billiard/). I quote from that blog and also include a diagram that I did on the airflow of the pipe.
I did some digging online and found a WDC Marlborough that had a similar configuration though far more boxy. It did not have the elegance that the C.P.F. does in my opinion. Playing around with the mechanics of the smoke and how it flowed through the stem I examined the dual mortise and the way the stem was laid out. I fed a pipe cleaner through the stem and found that natural flow of the cleaner was from the button through the top of the stem and into the top mortise. I could plug the lower tenon and the air was unobstructed from tenon to button. When I plugged the upper tenon and blew air through it I could feel it against my fingertip and then it made its way out the lower tenon. The airflow seems to have flowed against my finger and back a short distance to an opening between the two stems and out. From that I figured out that the smoker draws smoke through the upper mortise and into the airway on the stem. It flows into the bottom stem and mortise (which is a sump like the Peterson System pipes have) where moisture is collected and the smoke exits up the lower stem and into the button and into the mouth of the smoker. In my online search I found a photo of the Marlborough with the airpath drawn out as I conceived it in my words above. I drew the same kind of pattern on the C.P.F. to show how it appeared from my experiments. I used the link on the previous blog to go back and read the online forum about the Marlborough pipe. Here is the link to the Marlborough (http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/wdc-marlborough-double-airway).Now that I had a bit of the back story on the pipe from Paresh’s Grandfather’s collection it was time to go to work on it. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down with a clean damp cloth after each pad. I brought back a package of Restoration Balm from Mark Hoover from 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 with Murphy’s Oil Soap) and to be followed up with the Balm. I decided to give it a try on the smooth finish of this pipe. I worked it into the finish with my fingertips and scrubbed it off with a soft cloth. I buffed the bowl with a microfiber cloth to dry and shine it. The product seemed to work well to lift the dirt and grime from the finish. I am still not sure if it a necessary extra step for me but I am working with it on the next few pipes. The photos below show the pipe after cleaning with the product. I used some Rub’n Buff Antique Gold to repair the gold fill in the stamping on both sides of the shank. I rubbed it on and pressed it into the stamping with a tooth pick. I buffed it off with a soft cotton pad and a microfiber cloth. The photos tell the story. I rubbed Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar and worked it in with my fingertips. I 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. After cleaning the exterior of the briar with Mark’s new product it was time to clean the internals. I scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol. I was surprised to find that the pipe was pretty clean. I was also surprised to see some of the dark stain coming out of the shank. It appears that the pipe may have been dip stained. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing with 400 grit sandpaper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I interrupted the polishing after the 4000 grit pad and used Rub’N Buff Antique Gold to touch up the WDC Triangle stamp on the left side fo the dual stem. I cleaned off the excess Rub’N Buff gold and then continued polishing with 6000-12000 grit pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I used some new product that Mark Hoover put together – Before & After Restoration Balm that was made to work on vulcanite. It did a good job of polishing the vulcanite. I finished by polishing the stem with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I wiped it down a final time with Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry.I put the stem back on the shank and buffed it lightly with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to raise a shine in the briar. The finish on the briar came alive with the buffing and took on a deep shine. I gave the bowl and stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad and with a microfiber cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is an interesting little pipe measuring 4 1/2 inches in length, 1 3/4 inches in height. The outside diameter of the bowl is 1 1/4 inches and a chamber diameter of 3/4 of an inch. The unique design and the flow of air through the pipe make this a very interesting looking pipe. It is a beautiful, bent billiard with a double shank and stem. This pipe is staying with me as it is the background to the similar CPF Cromwell that I have in my personal collection. It is another beautiful old pipe that fits into my old US Made pipe collection. Thanks for reading the blog. Enjoy.