Recommissioning a Classic Pocket Pipe:  A Fun Sport Horn Stem Sculpted Stubby Paneled Tomato

Blog by Dal Stanton

I’m calling this Sport Horn Stem “fun” because it’s a whimsical pipe.  As a ‘stubby’ he looks like he wanted to grow larger but didn’t.  He’s diminutive in stature and really qualifies as a ‘Pocket Pipe’ because he will be comfy in a pocket waiting for his steward to pack his bowl and spend some time together.  The dimensions are: Length: 4 1/4 inches, Height: 1 1/8 inches, Rim width: 1 inch, Chamber width: 11/16 inches, Chamber depth: 1 1/8 inches.  His paneled bowl has also been shaped with a sculpting that appears to be leaves, vines and a basket on his heel.  When you put this pipe’s characteristics together, whimsical comes to my mind.  He came to me as a part of the French Lot of 50 that I acquired from France’s eBay auction block.  This French Lot of 50 has been an amazing collection of pipes many of which are now with new stewards after they commissioned them from For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! online collection and many of which bearing names that are unknown to me.  This lot was also characterized by several pipes sporting horn stems – pointing in many cases to earlier French origins.  Here’s a picture of the Lot and the Sport is bowl down on the lower right.Peter was among those who trolled through the virtual ‘Help Me!’ baskets in Pipe Dreamers Only! and reached out to me about commissioning the Sport which benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – our work here in Bulgaria helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Now on my worktable, here are more pictures of the Sport. The left side of the shank holds the slanted, cursive, ’Sport’ framed in a sculpted panel.  On the right side of the shank, is the French rendering of ‘BRUYERE’ [over] ‘DELUXE’.  As I’ve done several times before with this Lot, I’m assuming that the Sport is of French origin – the horn stem helps in this conviction as horn was a common stem material for pipe manufacturing in the earlier part of the 1900s. As I was half expecting, I found very little at my normal first stops at Pipedia and Pipephil.  ‘Sportsman’ is a popular name I saw in Pipephil but nothing with the simple, ‘Sport’.  Pipedia dangled some possibilities.

Pipedia listed in the Savinelli article (LINK) the Savinelli made sub-brands, seconds & order productions and had this listing: “Sport – About 1960’s – Chubby shape with very short stem or mouthpiece”.  Interesting, but the Sport just doesn’t have the Savinelli Italian feel with the horn stem and sculpting.  Pipedia provided two more leads – one of French origin and the other English.  Again, Pipedia only contributes in the English listing section and not with an article: “Sport: Brand of J. Cohen & Son. Also a Salvatella series, and a model by Chacom.”  I looked up the link given for Salvatella because I hadn’t heard of this name.  The short paragraph was interesting:

Salvatella was a pipe company founded in 1883 by Enric Moulines Giralt in Catalonia, Spain, long the center both of briar production and pipemaking in Spain. Giralt started the company after training with French pipemakers, and primarily dedicated himself to the development of briar. It was not until Giralt’s nephew, the third to take over the company, that Salvatella began producing pipes as well as briar. While at their height the company produced as many as 150,000 pipes per year and exported pipes worldwide, the factory closed in 2001.

Interesting, but nothing that helps me move forward.  The listing for ‘Sport’ in the Pipedia French manufacturers list was even less demonstrable: “Bristol Sport” followed by: “???”  Each piece of information is like a thread in the wind.  Nothing to get ahold of or to tie to!

In a last ditch effort to find something, I recalled the restoration of another petite French beauty that came from this French Lot of 50 that I had already researched and restored (See: Discovering the History with the Reclamation of this Petite EPC Majestic Bent Horn Stem Billiard).  The EPC Majestic I discovered dated in the 1920s and was produced by now defunct, A. Pandevant & Roy Co. near Paris.  The research of the EPC Majestic led me to old catalogs that helped me put the pieces of the mystery of its origins together.  The similarities between the Sport and the EPC Majestic gave me the idea that maybe the name ‘Sport’ might show up in the old catalog.  With a certain amount of hope I poured through the Catalogue only to find nothing.  One last thread in the wind of little use: Also, in the same French Lot of 50 was another pipe marked with “Sport” on its shank.  An attractive Bullmoose which is still in the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! online collection waiting to be adopted!  A quick comparison of the markings leaves little hope that they are related….While I cannot corroborate this, I believe that the Sport before me is of French origin and that the horn stem gives it some vintage – how much, I cannot say.  Even so, it is an attractive and interesting pipe even though his origins will remain shrouded in mystery for now.

Looking at the pipe’s condition, it is in very good shape.  The chamber has a light cake build-up but the lava flow over the rim has some grit to it.  The sculpted surface needs cleaning and polishing.  The horn stem is beautiful and shows almost no bit wear.  It will shine up very nicely.  I start the recommissioning of this Sport Horn Stem Sculpted Paneled Tomato by starting with the stummel.  Using the Pipnet Reaming Kit I use only the first, smallest of the blade heads to ream the 11/16-inch-wide chamber.  I follow this by employing the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to scrape the chamber walls and clean out around the draft hole.  Finally, I sand the chamber using 240 grade paper wrapped around the Sharpie Pen and finish by wiping the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean away the carbon dust.  With the chamber cleaned, I give it a quick inspection, and all looks good – no problems with overheating, cracks or fissures. Next, using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a cotton pad, I scrub the external sculpted briar surface.  I also use a bristled toothbrush to get into the crevasses of the sculpting as well as a brass wire brush to work on the rim.  After scrubbing the surface, I take the stummel to the sink and using warm water I clean the internals using shank brushes and anti-oil dish soap.  While I’m at it, I use the brass brush on the nickel shank facing.After rinsing, and inspecting the now clean stummel, I discover 2 things.  First, there is a huge fill on the left shank near the ‘Sport’ nomenclature.  I’m not sure how I missed it before, so I look at a ‘before’ picture and discover that the fill had been part of the sculpting in a very effective way.  The fill was almost fully masked because it was blended with the contours.  Now, I’ll have to work on doing the same!  The second thing I discovered is that the mortise has a cork layer which grips the metal tenon.  Thankfully, I discover this before digging in the mortise to clean it!  As I inspect the mortise, I also see what appears to be a metal tubing beyond the cork down to the draft hole.  I use a sharp dental probe to test it and it does feel like metal or a hard lining of some sort.  The presence of the cork could possibly add more weight to this Sport having some vintage to it.  Cork was often used on older pipes to grip the tenon – the EPC Majestic included. Just to make sure, I remount the horn stem to see if the grip was still good – it was.  I’ll treat the cork later with some petroleum jelly to hydrate it.  Wow – I can’t believe I missed that fill!!I continue cleaning the internals by using isopropyl 95% and cotton buds reaching over the cork as much as possible. I also scrape the sides of the mortise, beyond the cork to help excavate tars and oils.  After a lot of cotton buds and pipe cleaners, the buds begin to emerge lighter and cleaner and I’m able to move on!The huge fill on the left shank side needs to be addressed.  The fill is solid but eroded so that it falls beneath the surface level of the briar.  I first dig out the old fill material using a sharp dental probe. My, the hole is deep!  After removing the fill, I clean the area with a cotton pad and alcohol. I then mix thick CA glue with briar dust to form a putty to refill the hole. Before mixing the CA glue and briar dust, I put scotch tape down on a plastic disk that serves as a mixing pallet.  The tape helps to facilitate cleaning – I simply peel the tape up afterwards.  I place a small pile of briar dust on the disk and put some thick CA glue in a small puddle next to the dust.  Using a toothpick, I gradually pull some briar dust into the edge of the thick CA glue and mix it as I go.  When it gets to a thickness that it doesn’t run too much, I dollop some into the crevasse with the toothpick and knead the putty down into the recesses using the toothpick.  When the hole is filled and a bit higher than the surface, I put the stummel aside to cure.  Since the putty is so thick – the hole so large, I’ll let the curing go through the night.  I put the stummel aside and turn to the horn stem.I start by cleaning the airway with pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%.  After one attempt with the pipe cleaner I discover that the airway is closed.  Looking at the button, I can see that the slot is totally plugged with gunk.  I use a dental probe with a hook point to excavate the gunk out of the slot.  Eventually, I’m able to work a thin shank brush wetted with isopropyl 95% through the airway.  After several pipe cleaners and assistance from shank brushes, the airway started cleaning up and I move on.To clean the external surface of the horn stem I take it to the sink with a bristled toothbrush and scrub the stem with warm water and dish soap.  First, I take a pair of pictures to mark the start.After the scrubbing, the horn composition starts to show its subtle shadows.  Very nice.After cleaning the nickel tenon with soap and water and clearing the gunk buildup on the stem facing, I use 000 steel wool to clean the tenon further bringing out the shine.With the stem now clean, I study the horn stem.  It’s a beautiful piece of horn and the only thing I can do is simply spruce it up.  In the past, I benefited greatly by Steve’s essay on horn stem repair working on my first horn stem, A First Horn Stem on a Throw Away Pipe.  The key thing in repairing horn is to fill the gaps to keep the horn from drying and splintering as horn is very porous.  This stem needs no repairs, but looking closely, I do see normal minuscule porous texture.  The tighter or smoother the horn surface is, helps to guard against the decay of the horn.  I take a few closeups to show this.I treat the horn stem like a vulcanite stem but with greater gentleness.  I run the stem through the micromesh regimen, and I will apply compounds afterward.  I wet sand with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 and follow by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  After each set of three pads, I apply Obsidian Oil to the horn and the horn drinks it up! I’m pleased with the results – even more gloss!  My day comes to an end. The next day, the briar dust putty fill has fully cured, and I go to work on it using a flat needle file to bring the fill mound down to briar level.I then use a piece of 240 grade sanding paper to smooth it further and to begin giving some shape to the patch to blend it.When the sandpaper did what it could do, I used a pointed needle file to sculpt through the patch to blend the patch with the surrounding area.  The good news is that the area is rough and busy which helps in blending the patch.With a combination of filing and sanding, I like the results.  The briar putty patch is darker than the surrounding area but I’m hopeful that the surrounding briar will also darken through the micromesh sanding/polishing process and with the application afterwards of Before & After Restoration Balm.After the external briar cleaning, the rim is looking good but still has some minor discoloration from charring on the internal rim edge and well as some roughness on the rim.  I gently sand the rim and the internal edge with a piece of 240 grade paper to dispatch the issues.  The rim looks good. Next, I apply the full regimen of nine micromesh pads starting with wet sanding using pads 1500 to 2400.  After this, wet sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000 finishes the process.  Wow, it is amazing how this process brings out the grain! From the picture above, the sculpting lines are lighter, and the hue is uneven with the darkening hue of the surrounding smooth briar.  The micromesh has helped with the blending of the briar dust putty patch, but it’s still noticeable.  Applying Before & After Restoration Balm will address both these issues and I’m looking forward to seeing the results.  I put some Balm on my fingers and work the Balm well into the sculpting and briar.  It starts with a cream-like consistency and then thickens to feel more like wax.  I place the stummel aside for 30 minutes for the Balm to be absorbed (pictured) and then I wipe off the excess Balm with a clean cloth then I buff the stummel to bring out the grain.  The briar looks great!As I noted before, the presence of the cork in the shank to grip the tenon possibly helps place this pipe in an older vintage.  To treat the cork, I use petroleum jelly to condition the cork.  I apply a light coat with a cotton bud and work it in.  This will hydrate the cork and hopefully add much time to the cork’s continued life.With the horn stem and Sport sculpted stummel reunited, I apply Blue Diamond compound.  After mounting a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel, and setting the speed to 40% full power, the compound does the job of applying the fine abrasive to the briar surface removing fine imperfections and distinguishing further the sculpted crevasses.  After applying Blue Diamond to the stummel and stem, I change to another cotton cloth buffing wheel dedicated to applying Blue Diamond on nickel.  I give the nickel shank cap a quick buffing with the compound to raise the shine.  I use a different buffing wheel for each different kind of application. While polishing the cap, I’m careful not to run the wheel over the briar as the nickel will stain the wood with the black resulting from the polishing the nickel.Following the compound, I change cotton buffing wheels to a wheel dedicated to wax, maintain speed at 40% and apply carnauba wax to both horn stem and stummel.  Afterwards, the restoration is completed with a rigorous hand buffing to remove excess wax as well as to raise the shine.I cannot place with certainty the exact vintage of this Sport Bruyere Deluxe, but it has characteristics of an older pipe.  I believe it to have a French COM and the horn stem seated with cork, is a distinctive part of this ensemble.  The sculpted bowl is attractive, and the stubby, pocket-sized ease translates into a very fun pipe put back into service for a new steward.  Since Peter commissioned the Sport from the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! online collection, he will have the first opportunity to acquire it from The Pipe Steward Store which benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – our work here in Bulgaria helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

2 thoughts on “Recommissioning a Classic Pocket Pipe:  A Fun Sport Horn Stem Sculpted Stubby Paneled Tomato

  1. ThePipeSteward - Dal in Bulgaria

    After sending the write up to Steve. He provided helpful information that dates the Sport during or right after WW2, with the shortages horn stems were a vulcanite replacement. The metal tenon also is indicative of this period. Thanks Steve!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.