Blog by Paresh Deshpande
While going through the pile of my inherited pipes searching for my next project, I selected the DONEGAL ROCKY # 999 and this pipe, PETERSON’S KAPMEER # 120 S for restoration. Since I wanted to add Rhodesian shape to my rotation, I first restored the Donegal # 999. Thereafter other interesting pipes caught my fancy and this pipe was relegated to backseat. A few pipes later, as I was contemplating my next project, this pipe again came in to focus along with a few other Peterson’s which were languishing in the box and I decided to complete a few Peterson’s pipes during the next few days.
The shape of this pipe is a nice classic Dublin with a P-lip saddle stem. The deeply rusticated stummel feels tactile in one’s hand and the deep burgundy stain makes for a visual treat. It is stamped on the smooth underside as “120 S” towards the heel of the stummel followed by “PETERSON’S” over “KAPMEER” followed by the COM stamp “GREAT” over “BRITAIN” towards the shank end. The stampings are crisp and clear. The vulcanite P-lip saddle stem bears the trademark decorative letter “P”.During my research on Donegal Rocky # 999 (my first and only Donegal in my collection!!), I had read that KAPMEER belongs to the Classic Range of pipes offered by Peterson’s. These are basic entry level pipes and most of this line up is no longer in production. The COM stamp “GREAT BRITAIN” also points to this being an older pipe, that is, pre-1959.
Initial Visual Inspection
The pipe, as it sits on my work table, is dirty with thick layer of even cake, covered in dust and grime with a heavily oxidized stem. Here are a few pictures of the pipe before I proceed with a detailed visual inspection of each part of the pipe. The stummel has beautiful rustic patterns on this classic shaped pipe and is covered in a thick layer of dust and grime. The stummel appears dull and lackluster. However, the rich dark burgundy hues of the raised portions of the rustications contrast beautifully with the lighter hues of the stummel and would look more appealing once the stummel has been cleaned and polished. The end of the long and rusticated shank has a nice thin band of smooth briar. Once polished, this briar band should further enhance the beauty of this pipe. The meerschaum lined rim top is surrounded by briar wood and is covered in a thick coat of dust, lava overflow, grime and will need to be cleaned and polished. This lava overflow is chipped at places revealing an intact white meerschaum layer. The chamber has an even layer of thick cake that is sticky and hard. The condition of the meerschaum lined walls of the chamber will be ascertained once the existing cake has been completely removed. The inner meerschaum layered rim edge appears intact, however, the same will be ascertained once the cake and lava overflow from the chamber and rim top is removed. There is a distinct perfectly round ring above the draught hole which could be seen even through the cake and grime. Is it a crack? It is unlikely that a crack should be such a perfect round. It would require a closer inspection once the chamber has been cleaned. The mortise has a thick layer of black dried oils and tars on the walls which would need to be cleaned. The straight tapered vulcanite P-lip saddle stem is heavily oxidized and is peppered with light tooth chatter/ indentations on either surface of the stem in the bite zone and on the top surface of the P-lip. Heavy calcification is seen at the base of the edges of the P-lip. The button edges of the P-lip are deformed due to tooth marks and would need to be sharpened. The tenon end is covered in dried oils and tars. This should be a relatively simple repair and cleaning up job of the stem.The Process
I began the process of refurbishing this pipe with scraping out the calcification from the base of the button edges, cleaning the internals of the stem using pipe cleaners with isopropyl alcohol (99.9% pure) and 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 this Kapmeer is marked in blue arrow. I generally allow the stems to soak in this solution overnight for the solution to do its work.Now that the stem is soaking in the deoxidizer solution, I worked the stummel, starting with reaming the chamber with a Castleford reamer tool, using only the second head. I was very gentle and careful while using the reamer head, applying minimum force for fear of cracking the meerschaum lining. Using my fabricated knife; I took the cake down to the meerschaum layer. With a 150 grit sand paper, the walls of the chamber were rid of all the remnants of the cake. My worst fears while working on meerschaum lined pipes were unraveled in front of my eyes!! There are two distinct cracks on either sides on the chamber walls, one each in 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock direction. These cracks are marked in yellow and orange arrows respectively. These cracks do not go all the way through the meerschaum layer, but are only superficial. The perfectly rounded crack that I had mentioned (marked in green arrow) earlier, is not a crack but just a circular line formed most likely by a reamer head. I further wiped the chamber with a cotton swab wetted with isopropyl alcohol to completely remove the sanding dust. I gently scraped off the entire lava overflow from the rim top with a sharp knife blade. The inner rim edge has no damage save for uneven surface. This issue will be easily addressed by a little sanding and polishing with micromesh pads. Just to allay my fears, I shared these pictures with Steve and Facetimed with him. I suggested that I coat the cracks with a mix of egg whites and chalk for repairs. However, Steve opined that these cracks are just superficial and that he would let them be. His closing remark was “that meer lining is going nowhere…”! At peace with my inner being, I move to the next stage.
I scraped the dried gunk from the walls of the mortise with my dental tool and further cleaned the shank internals with q-tips, pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. I continued the cleaning till the pipe cleaners and q-tips came out clean.I scrubbed the external surface of the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. The burgundy hues of the raised rustications contrast beautifully with the rest of the stummel. I set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. I packed the chamber with paper towels to absorb any water and moisture that may have inadvertently seeped in to the meerschaum. To even out the rim top, I dry sand the top with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. I also polished the raised rustications and the thin briar band at the shank end, dry sanding with the micromesh pads to further enhance the contrast. I am really happy with the appearance of the entire stummel at this stage. I massaged a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to briar. I rubbed this balm deep in to the nooks and crannies formed between the rustications with my fingers 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 raised carvings contrasting with the rest of the stummel surface. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. I worked on all the stems that had been soaking in the deoxidizer solution overnight. I fished out all the stems and cleaned them under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using Scotch Brite pad. I further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stems with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stems and set them aside for the oil to be absorbed. Unfortunately, I did not click any pictures of these stems at this stage.
I painted both surfaces of the stem with the flame of a lighter to raise the tooth indentations to the surface. This also helps in loosening minor oxidation from the stem surface. I sand the entire stem surface with a folded piece of a 220 grit sand paper to remove the loosened oxidation. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and Murphy’s oil soap to further remove the oxidation. I filled the tooth indentation in the button edge on both lower and upper stem surfaces with a mix of activated charcoal and CA superglue and set it aside for the fill to cure. Once the fill had cured sufficiently, I sanded down the fill with a needle file to match with rest of the stem surface. With the same file, I sharpened the button edge on both the upper and lower surface. I fine tuned the blending of the fill with the rest of the stem surface using a 220 grit sand paper and also sanded down the entire stem to remove the stubborn residual oxidation. I further sand the stem with 600 and 800 grit sand paper and wiped the stem with cotton pad dipped in alcohol to remove the resultant dust. I rubbed some extra virgin olive oil in to the stem and set it aside to be absorbed in to stem. However, I completely missed taking pictures of this stage.
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 the micromesh pads polishing cycle. 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 refreshed the stem logo by masking the logo with a whitener correction pen. Once the whitener had dried, I gently wiped the excess whitener away. The stem logo now looks prominent.To apply the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and applied 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 was an easy restoration and the pipe turned out fabulously refreshed. I did enjoy working on it. Steve, with his practical and sound advice has been a great help. I cannot imagine this fun filled journey of mine without his help, guidance and encouragement. Thanks Steve for being such a big support and also for introducing some great friends in piper community.
I have three more Peterson’s pipes lined up and each one is interesting in its own way. I surely am looking forward to work on each one of them in the coming days!!
Thanks for your patience and looking forward to input about the write up. Cheers…