Another Study in Opposites – Restoring an NOS unsmoked C.P.F. Stack

Blog by Steve Laug

After the last batch of very clean pipes that I brought back from my trip to Idaho in a small bag of unsmoked C.P.F. pipes this is another pipe that was a big change. It was in rough shape with a split band, nicks and marks in the briar and a shattered stem. Other than the unsmoked condition of the bowl and base it was hurting. The bowl was a screw in briar bowl with a single airway in the bottom of the bowl like a calabash. It is dusty and dirty but the bowl was clean. The bowl exterior had been coated with a thick shiny coat of varnish and the base was varnished as well. It gave the pipe a spotty shiny look that had lasted through the years. The left side of the shank is stamped with gold leaf and reads Pullman over C.P.F. in the oval logo. There were deep gouges in the top of the shank and on the underside of the bowl. There is a brass/silver spacer between the bowl and the base. There was also a brass/silver ferrule on the shank end that was split, oxidized and also loose. The amber stem had was shattered was clean but epoxied in the remainder of the stem. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition at the start of the process. The next photo shows the stamping on the left side of the shank. It is clear and readable. The stamping reads as noted above. The band is loose and is stamped with the C.P.F. in an oval logo with the faux hallmarks that are on all of the metal banded C.P.F. pipes.I unscrewed the broken stem from the pipe and took photos of the parts – the briar base and bowl as well as all the adornments. The ferrule is split and will need work and the separator on the base is also oxidized and dirty. I have included the following information with each of the blogs on C.P.F. pipes because I always want to keep the historical context in mind as I work on these. The link to the blog follows ( I quote a pertinent part of the blog below:

From my reading and research it seems to me that C.P.F. brand was discontinued sometime in the 1910-1920 range. Again, turning to Bill Feuerbach I found that he notes the following, which pins down the time frame of the discontinuation of the brand more specifically, “I have a C.P.F. Chesterfield in our office display that has a name tag from way before my time that says 1900 C.P.F. Chesterfield. It looks like most other Chesterfields you’ve seen, including the military type push stem, except this stem is horn and not vulcanite. As far as I have gathered the C.P.F. brand was phased out sometime around 1915.” Interestingly, he noted that the Chesterfield name and style was later introduced in the KB&B, Kaywoodie and Yello-Bole lines. He says that the 1924 KB&B catalog shows KB&B Chesterfields…

… From my research I believe that we can definitively assert that the C.P.F. logo stands for Colossus Pipe Factory. The brand was purchased by KB&B sometime between 1884 and 1898 and that it continued until 1915. That time frame gives help in dating some of the older C.P.F. pipes you or I might find. It can be said that prior to the dual stamping it is fairly certain that the pipe is pre-1884 to 1898. After the dual stamping it can be placed post 1898 until the closure of the brand line in 1915. C.P.F. made beautiful pipes.

From that information I can tentatively date this pipe to the same period as the other pipes I have been working on – prior to 1884-1898 because of the single C.P.F. stamp on the shank, ferrule and stem. At any rate it is another old pipe though this one is well smoked. The story of its journey to Jeff and me this long after the date it was made is another mystery. This batch of pipes has made me wish that even one of them could share its story with us. I can only imagine the journey it has had even minimally from the bits that I do know. It traveled from the Colossal Pipe Factory in New York City to Idaho Falls in journey that began in the 1880s and ended in 2019. Now it is has further traveled by air to Vancouver, Canada, as far west as it can go and remain on the same continent… what a well-traveled pipe. Armed with that information it was not time to work on the pipe.

I unscrewed the bowl from the briar base. I removed the loose ferrule and the loose spacer and cleaned the surface with alcohol on a cotton pad. I glued the spacer in place on the base with clear super glue. I filled in the nicks and divots on the top and underside of the shank with super glue. I sanded the repaired spots on the top and underside of the base with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the repairs into the briar. I spread some white glue on the shank end and pressed the ferrule in place. I held the break in the ferrule together until the glue set. I filled in the crack with clear super glue until it was smooth and set it aside to cure.  The internals were clean and a quick pipe cleaner and alcohol run through the shank and bowl to clean out the dust. I polished the brass ferrule on the shank end with Hagerty Tarnish Preventative Silver Polish to remove the tarnish and wear. I used it on the space between the bowl and base as well. You can see the effect of the polishing – the metal shone.I wiped the bowl and base down with isopropyl alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the varnish coat on both the bowl and the base. The briar looked very good. There was a fill in the back side of the bowl and a little one on the underside of the shank. I am continuing to experiment with Mark Hoover’s Briar Cleaner to see what I think of it as a possible replacement for my usual Murphy’s Oil Soap scrub. I rubbed it onto the briar bowl and base and worked it into the grain of the briar. I wiped it off with a clean cloth. There was still a coat of grime and grit from the cleaner left behind so I rinsed it with warm water to remove that and dried it with a microfiber cloth. I am really not sure if this is any better than the Murphy’s but I am committed to working with it. I rubbed the briar bowl and shank down with a coat of Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. The old briar was dry and it drank up the balm. I buffed the bowl with a soft cloth to raise a shine. I like how the pipe looks as this point in the process. I set the bowl aside and went through my can of stems and found a Bakelite stem with the same diameter and length as the original one. It had a push tenon that I would need to sand down a bit to get a good fit in the threaded shank. I tried to remove the bone tenon from the original stem but it was stuck and breaking the old stem would likely damage the tenon. I started working on the stem. I used a needle file to reduce the diameter of the tenon. I heated the stem with a heat gun until it was softened and then bent it to match the angle of the bowl and shank. I sanded out the small ripple marks from bending the stem using 220 grit sandpaper. I sanded out the scratches with 400 grit sandpaper. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I 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 it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I finished the polishing with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry.   By now if you have read rebornpipes for very long you know that I love these old C.P.F. pipes. There is some serious thought that they were carved by European trained craftsman who were skilled pipemakers. These pipemakers were brought to the US by the Colossal Pipe Factory to make pipes. Many of the shapes, bands and stems have such high quality workmanship involved that I really think there is truth to this story. This little bent Briar Stack is a real beauty.

I screwed the bowl back on the base and carefully polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel carefully avoiding the stamping on the shank. 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 pipe polished up pretty nicely. The mixed grain on the base and shank really began to stand out; it seemed to take on life with the buffing. The rich contrasting brown stain on the base and bowl works well with new golden Bakelite stem. The finished pipe has a rich look that is quite catching. Have a look at it with the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 5 1/4 inches, Height: 2 1/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This is another one that I will be adding to my collection. It fits in the C.P.F. niche group that I have been building. The shape and feel in the hand is perfect. Since this one is another unsmoked pipe it too will be in line for a break in with some rich aged Virginia. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I restored and reworked this old Stack from 1884-1898. It is always a treat for me to work on a piece of pipe history especially when I have learned a bit of the story behind it.

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