Refurbishing A Peterson’s Old English Collection Pipe.

Blog by Paresh Deshpande

In the last couple of weeks, I have worked on four Peterson’s pipe, two from my inherited lot (DONEGAL ROCKY # 999 and KAPMEER # 120S) and two that I had purchased on eBay, a PETERSON’S SYSTEM # 31 just so that I could include it in my rotation and a Peterson’s BARREL. Continuing with my work on Peterson’s in my collection, the next and fifth pipe that is now on my work table is a smooth Peterson’s “OLD ENGLISH COLLECTION” pipe with a thin delicate and long stem.

The smooth stummel of this pipe has beautiful mix of densely packed Bird’s eye grain on the sides and cross grain on the front and back of the stummel. The Duke shape (or more akin to the Tankard pipe from Peterson’s!!!) captures these grains beautifully for a stunning visual experience. A tallish stummel, short shank with a gold plated silver ferrule at the end and a long, tapered delicate stem makes it a visually appealing pipe. It is stamped on the bottom flat smooth surface at the foot of the stummel as “PETERSON’S” over “OLD ENGLISH” over “COLLECTION” in capital letters over “MADE IN THE” over “REPUBLIC” over “OF IRELAND” in capital letters. The shank end is adorned with a gold plated silver ferule that is stamped as “Peterson’s” in a cursive hand over “DUBLIN”. Further to the right there are three hallmarks in a cartouche, which unfortunately are worn off to the extent that I am unable to identify and make use of them for dating this pipe. Rest of the stamping on this pipe is crisp and easily readable. I would really be glad if any of the readers are able to make out these hallmarks and either share the same with us or describe them and help in dating this pipe. Since I have been working on Peterson’s pipes in my collection, I knew that these stampings identified this pipe as being from Republic era i.e. 1949 to until the present, making it a newer generation pipe. Also during my search on Peterson’s Barrel pipe that I had researched earlier, I knew that OLD ENGLISH COLLECTION belonged to the Collection Series of pipes from Peterson’s. Given below are snippets of relevant information that I had learned from;

Collections: Usually these popular themed collections of pipes are boxed.

They vary in price from the Ebony and Ivory at around $300 and up to $1000 for the River, 6 pipe set.

The Old English Collection: The old English Collection is no longer in production. It featured a set of 12 pipes, recreated using original classic designs from the 1930s and 1940s. Each pipe is handmade and mounted with gold plated sterling silver bands.With this information, I now know that this pipe is a pipe from the newer generation that is handmade and part of set of 12 pipes and I move ahead with my initial visual inspection. I would once again like to request readers of this blog to help me in pinning the exact date for this pipe.

Initial Visual Inspection
The pipe, as it sits on my work table, is dirty with an uneven layer of cake in the chamber, a stummel that is covered in dust and grime and a military mount tapered vulcanite stem that is heavily oxidized. Here are a few pictures of the pipe before I proceed with a detailed visual inspection of each part of the pipe.The smooth stummel on this pipe is covered in a thick layer of dust and grime giving it a dull and lackluster appearance. Through all the grime, beautiful Bird’s eye and cross grains can be still seen on the sides and front/ back of the stummel respectively. The rim top surface is also covered in dust, lava overflow, grime and will need to be cleaned and polished. The stummel has developed a nice patina which I shall endeavor to preserve. There are a few negligible scratches on the left side of the stummel which will be addressed during polishing the stummel with micromesh pads. There is one tiny but a slightly deep chip on the left side of the stummel, any repairs of which I shall take a call on subsequently. The chamber has a thin layer of uneven cake with lava overflow over the rim top surface. This overflow of lava is significantly more on the back of the rim top, in the direction of 6 ‘O’ clock. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber will be ascertained once the existing cake has been taken down to the bare briar. The inner and outer rim edges appear to be in good condition, however, the same will be ascertained once the cake and lava overflow from the chamber and rim top is entirely removed. There is a very strong smell to the cake which, perhaps, may reduce appreciably after the chamber has been cleaned. The mortise is filled with oils and tars and specks of dried ash are seen on the walls of the mortise. The walls, however, are intact and well protected under the gold plated silver ferrule.The gold plated silver ferrule at the shank end appears dull due to oxidation. It shows patches of heavy oxidation over the lower surface. The saving grace is that it is intact and undamaged.The slotted and slightly bent vulcanite stem is heavily and deeply oxidized with significant tooth indentations on the button edge and chatter on either surfaces of the stem in the bite zone. The tenon end shows traces of dried oils and tars. It’s going to take some elbow grease to clean up this stem to a nice deep and shining black. The Process
I began the process of refurbishing this pipe by using my fabricated knife to remove the thin layer of cake. I further took the cake down to the bare briar with a folded piece of 150 grit sand paper. Once the walls of the chamber were rid of all the remnants of the cake, chamber walls were found to be smooth and without any damage. With my modified and straightened cloth hanger, I cleaned the grime and cake that covered the draught hole at the heel of the stummel. I further wiped the chamber with a cotton swab wetted with isopropyl alcohol to completely remove the sanding dust. I scraped the shank internals with a fabricated tool to remove all the crud that had accumulated along the shank walls and further cleaned it with bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I shall further draw out all the residual oils, tars and gunk by subjecting the chamber and the shank to a salt and alcohol bath.I continued the cleaning of the chamber and shank internals with a salt and alcohol bath. I use cotton balls which is an at par substitute as I have realized over the years. I draw out a wick from the cotton and along with a folded regular pipe cleaner; insert it in to the mortise and through the draught hole in to the chamber. Thereafter, I packed the chamber with cotton balls to about quarter of an inch below the rim inner edge and soaked the cotton balls with isopropyl alcohol up to the brim. About half an hour later, the level of alcohol had gone down, having being absorbed by the cotton. I topped it up once again and set it aside overnight. By next afternoon, the cotton and alcohol had drawn out all the remaining oils and tars from the chamber and mortise, fulfilling its intended task. I removed the cotton balls and ran pipe cleaners through the mortise to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk. Using my fabricated tool, I scraped out the entire loosed gunk from the sump and further cleaned it with alcohol and q-tips. The chamber now smells clean and fresh. I set the stummel to dry out naturally. Now that the internals of the stummel were cleaned, I scrubbed the external surface of the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush. I deliberately cleaned the rim top surface with Scotch Brite and a soft bristled brass wire brush to remove the entire lava overflow and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. The rim darkening that I had observed over the rim top in 6 o’clock direction, was completely addressed. The inner and outer rim edges are in pristine condition. Thereafter, I polished the entire stummel with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 pads. I wiped the surface with a soft moist cloth at the end of the micromesh cycle. The stummel looks amazing with a deep shine and beautiful grains popping over the stummel surface. The rim top surface looks pristine with the issue of darkened inner edge entirely addressed. The second issue that was addressed to a great extent was that of the minor scratches and nicks that were observed on the left side of the stummel. One small nick can still be seen but to address it, I would have to compromise on the patina, which I did not desire. This minor nick is a part of the journey of this beautiful pipe and I shall let it be.  I am very happy with the appearance of the rim top and stummel at this stage. I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to briar and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the dark hues of the grain contrasting with the rest of the stummel surface. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. With the stummel refurbishing completed, I turned my attention to the stem. The stem air way was filthy to say the least. Using a shank brush and dish washing soap, I cleaned the stem air way. I further cleaned the stem internals with hard and regular pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. A lot of elbow grease and a pile of pipe cleaners later, when the pipe cleaners emerged white I knew that the stem internals are now clean and fresh.With the stem internals now clean, I moved to external cleaning of the stem surface by sanding the surface with a piece of 220 grit sand paper and thereafter dunking the stem in to “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution developed by my friend Mark Hoover. The solution helps to draw out heavy oxidation to the surface making its further removal a breeze, while the minor oxidation is eliminated to a very great extent. I usually dunk stems of 5-7 pipes that are in-line for restoration and the OLD ENGLISH COLLECTION is marked in green arrow. I generally allow the stems to soak in this solution overnight for the solution to do its work.Next day, I remove the stems from the deoxidizer solution and clean it under warm running tap water to remove all the solution. I scrubbed the stem surface first with scotch brite pad followed by a piece of 0000 grade steel wool. This helps in removing all the raised oxidation from the stem surface.  The deeper tooth indentations and chatter were raised to the surface by heating the damaged area with the flame of a lighter. I further sand the entire stem surface with a folded piece of a 220 grit sand paper to remove the raised tooth chatter and even out the stem surface. With the same piece of sand paper, I sharpened the button edges on both the upper and lower surface. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and Murphy’s oil soap to further remove the oxidation. I rubbed some extra virgin olive oil in to the stem and set it aside to be absorbed in to stem. I polished the stem with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I rubbed a little extra virgin olive oil in to the stem at the end of all the micromesh pads. I finish the polishing of the stem by rubbing a small quantity of Paragon wax and giving it a final polish with a soft cotton cloth. The stem is now nice, smooth and shiny. I cleaned the gold plated sterling silver shank band with a local compound that Abha, my wife, uses to polish her silver and gold jewelry and cutlery. This compound is a very fine powder and is least abrasive with fantastic results. The results were appreciated by Steve during his visit to India. The band is now a nice shining piece of gold and provides a nice contrast to the shining black stem and the dark brown stummel. The patches of deep oxidation that were observed on the lower surface of the band were also completely eliminated. Unfortunately, I missed out on taking pictures as I was keen to finish this pipe and enjoy a bowl!

To apply the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stem to polish out the minor scratches. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax to the stummel and stem and continued to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and gave the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe is shown below. P.S. – This is indeed a beautiful piece of briar that exudes excellent craftsmanship and quality. Now I have set myself a target to acquire all the remaining 11 pipes to complete my personal collection. Thanks for your patience and looking forward to inputs about the write up. Cheers…

2 thoughts on “Refurbishing A Peterson’s Old English Collection Pipe.

  1. Johan Tjärnbro

    Nice restoration as always sir! According to Mark Irwin’s beautiful book The Peterson Pipe, the Old English Collection was released in 1996. I think the year letter might be an L for 1997, upside down in the pictures, but it’s hard to tell.

    1. Paresh

      Appreciate your encouraging words. I thank you for your valuable inputs with respect to the probable date that this pipe came in to existence.
      Regards, Paresh


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