Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe I have chosen to work on from Bob Kerr’s estate is another one of his unique Petersons. I have restored two of the Canadian Imports from his estate – a Kapruf 54 sandblast bent billiard (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/08/09/back-to-bob-kerrs-estate-another-canadian-import-petersons-kapruf-a-54/) and a Kapruf 9BC 56 (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/08/09/back-to-bob-kerrs-estate-linking-petersons-kapruf-9bc-with-the-56-shape-number/). These were interesting in that they both had a unique numbering system for Petersons pipes that were specifically brought to Canada by the Canadian importer, Genin, Trudeau & Co. of Montreal, Quebec (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/09/13/petersons-pipes-brochure-from-genin-trudeau-co-montreal-quebec/). This next one is of interest because it is not one that I have seen before – a smooth fish tail stemmed nicely grained bent billiard. It is part of the estate that I am cleaning up for the family and moving them out into the hands of pipemen and women who will carry on the trust that began with their father, Bob. In the collection there were 19 Peterson’s pipes along with a bevy of Dunhills, some Comoy’s and Barlings as well as a lot of other pipes – a total of 125 pipes along with a box of parts. This is the largest estate that I have had the opportunity to work on. I put together a spread sheet of the pipes and stampings to create an invoice. I was taking on what would take me a fair amount of time to clean up. I could not pass up the opportunity to work on these pipes though. They were just too tempting.
I really am enjoying working on the Peterson’s in the estate. This was a bit of a unique one. When I first looked at it when it came it noted that it was a Shamrock but I was very wrong. When I took it out of the box of cleaned up pipes that Jeff sent back I could see that actually it was stamped Peterson’s over Flame Grain on the left side of the shank and Made in the Republic of Ireland followed by the shape number X220S on the right shank. It has some stunning grain around the bowl and shank. The shank is quite thick and the finish very dirty. There was a thick cake in the bowl with remnants of tobacco stuck on the walls. There was a fair lava overflow filling in the blast on the rim. The edges of the rim and top are dirty and there appeared to be some deep burn damage on the rear side of the bowl. It was a beautiful pipe that was dirty and tired looking. The stem was oxidized and calcified toward the end. Again, surprisingly did not have the deep tooth marks that I have come to expect from Bob’s pipes. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work on it. 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 there was some burn damage on the inner edge at the back of the bowl. The outer edges looked okay but there were some nicks there as well. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish. You can see the beautiful flame grain underneath the dirt and debris of the years. The birdseye grain on the heel was beautiful.Jeff took photos of the stamping on both sides of the bowl and shank. The stamping on the left side was faint but readable as you can see from the photos. It read Peterson’s Flame Grain. The stamp on the right side read Made in the Republic of Ireland followed by the shape number X220S. There was a P stamped on the left side of the saddle stem. Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth chatter, scratching and oxidation on the stem surface and wear on the edges of the button. I turned first to Pipephil’s site to get a quick idea of the Flame Grain line. Unfortunately there was no information to be found there. I then turned to Pipedia’s article on Peterson pipes to see what I could garner from that information. It is a great read in terms of the history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Peterson). I quote a pertinent portion of the article below:
At the start of the 1950’s, all pipes at Kapp & Peterson were stamped with “Made in the Republic of Ireland” stamp and also starting off the decade with the hallmark letter I on any silverware. Apparently nickel was scarce in those days, just after the war and the company tried to use aluminium instead. Needless to say It was not very successful!
I have adapted this section concentrating on the period following 1950,the made in the Irish Republic era and the different near modern Peterson grades and series, which should bring us up to the time period from the 1990’s onward.
Again this was a time of great change for the brand, the company having changed ownership on several occasions. However it was also one of great creativity, with the introduction of several commemorative series and some new literary character series of pipes that would leave a very lasting impression on the pipe smoking fraternity.
I found a discussion on pipesmagazine online forum on the line and I have included a portion of that below (http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/petersons-80-flame-grain).
The Flame Grain line by Peterson’s are not high grades but the briars are singled out for their exceptional grain patterns. A flaw or two might keep them from becoming a pipe costing hundreds of dollars more….
With that information in hand I knew what I was dealing with in terms of the stamping on the pipe. It is a Republic era pipe and from what I have learned about Bob’s other pipes this is probably from the 60s to the early 70s. Now it was time to work on the pipe.
With over 125 pipes to clean from Bob’s estate I took a batch of them to the states with me on a recent visit and left them with Jeff so he could help me out. 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 great looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff 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 rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show what an amazing job Jeff did in the cleanup of the rim top. The damage to the rim top was more extensive than I had originally thought. The burned area extends on the inner edge around the back, the left side and front of the bowl. It is rounded over besides being burned. The outer edge of the bowl looks very good. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the lack of tooth marks and the remaining oxidation on the stem surface. One of the things I appreciate about Jeff’s cleanup work is that he works to protect and preserve the nomenclature on the shank of the pipes that he works on. I took some photos to show the clarity of the stamping. I have noticed that many restorers are not careful to protect the stamping in their cleaning process and often by the end of the restoration the nomenclature is almost destroyed. I would like to encourage all of us to be careful in our work to preserve this! Since this is another pipe Bob’s estate I am sure that some of you have read at least some of the other restoration work that has been done on the previous pipes. You have also read what I have included about Bob Kerr, the pipeman who held these pipes in trust before I came to work on them (see photo to the left). Also, if you have followed the blog for long you will already know that I like to include background information on the pipeman whose pipes I am restoring. For me, when I am working on an estate I really like to have a sense of the person who held the pipes in trust before I worked on them. It gives me another dimension of the restoration work. I asked Brian if he or his wife would like to write a brief biographical tribute to her father, Bob. His daughter worked on it and I received the following short write up on him and some pictures to go along with the words including one of Bob’s carvings. Once again I thank you Brian and tell your wife thank you as well.
I am delighted to pass on these beloved pipes of my father’s. I hope each user gets many hours of contemplative pleasure as he did. I remember the aroma of tobacco in the rec room, as he put up his feet on his lazy boy. He’d be first at the paper then, no one could touch it before him. Maybe there would be a movie on with an actor smoking a pipe. He would have very definite opinions on whether the performer was a ‘real’ smoker or not, a distinction which I could never see but it would be very clear to him. He worked by day as a sales manager of a paper products company, a job he hated. What he longed for was the life of an artist, so on the weekends and sometimes mid-week evenings he would journey to his workshop and come out with wood sculptures, all of which he declared as crap but every one of them treasured by my sister and myself. Enjoy the pipes, and maybe a little of his creative spirit will enter you!
Now on to the rest of the restoration on this beautiful Flame Grain Peterson X220S bent billiard I did not need to clean the pipe. I decided to start the process by addressing the damage to the inner edge of the rim. From the extent of damage to the inner edge of the rim and the top of the bowl I decided I would need to top the bowl to remove as much of this damage as possible to restore the rim top back to a more pristine condition and bring the bowl back to round. I topped it on a topping board using 220 grit sandpaper. I took photos along the way to show the extent of the damage and the slow process of repairing that damage. Each photo shows a little more of the damage has been removed until the final one that shows the smooth rim top. With the top cleaned up and repaired I moved on to address the inner edge surface itself. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage and bring the bowl back to round. I followed that by sanding the rim top and edge with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1400-12000 grit pads and wiping the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. You can see some of the small sandpits in the surface of the bowl in the photos below. I have chosen to leave those and not fill them in as they are really part of the character of this pipe. I decided to clean the briar with Mark Hoover’s Before & After Briar Cleaner to clean up the sanded surface of the briar and blend the repairs into the briar. I rubbed it into the surface of the briar and let it sit for 10 minutes. I rinsed the bowl off with warm running water to remove the product and the grime. After I dried the bowl off I rubbed it down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface 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. Mark Hoover’s Balm is a product that I have come to appreciate and one I use on every pipe I have been working on. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to break up the remaining oxidation. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the scratching. It is starting to look good. I decided to touch up the “P” stamp on the left side of the shank. I use PaperMate liquid paper for doing this. I worked it into the stamp with a tooth pick. Once the material had hardened I used the tooth pick to scrape off the excess material. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I am excited to be on the homestretch of another one of Bob’s pipes and I look forward to the final look when it is put back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. 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 grain really pops with the wax and polish. The shiny black vulcanite stem is a beautiful contrast to the reds and browns of the bowl. This Peterson’s Flame Grain X220S bent billiard was another fun pipe to work on thanks to Jeff’s cleanup work. It really has the unique look of a Peterson’s finish without the silver or nickel ferrule. It really is quite stunning even with the small pits in the briar. The thick/chubby shank makes it a very comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I am still not sure what I am going to do with this pipe. There is something about it that makes me want to hang on to it but time will tell. I have a lot more of Bob’s estate to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.