Blog by Steve Laug
With two pipes left to finish for the fellow in Kitchener, Ontario I decided to work on one more of them. He had been referred to me by my local pipe and cigar shop. While I am not currently adding more pipes to my queue of repairs I have made a commitment to the shop to work on pipes for their customers. Generally they have one or two pipes that need a bit of work. This fellow sent me the following email:
I just came across my smoking pipes that I’ve had in storage for about 40 years. I’m wondering what you’d charge to have them refurbished. There are 17 in total (11 are Brighams and 6 are various).
It turns out he said he had 17 pipes. That was certainly more than I expected but I communicated that there was a large queue ahead of him and I would have to fit them in as I could. He was fine with whatever time it took. He sent me the following photos of his collection that he wanted restored. The first photo shows his eleven Brigham pipes – all very interesting shapes. The second photo shows the six various pipes in the collection – A Republic Era Peterson’s System 1312 (Canadian Import), A Bjarne Hand Carved Freehand, a Comoy’s Everyman London smooth billiard, a GBD Popular Dublin 12, an English made Kaywoodie Rustica 72B, a Kriswill Bernadotte 60 with a broken tenon. When the box arrived there were two additional pipes included for a total of 19 – a Ropp 803 Deluxe Cherrywood Poker and a Comoy’s Sandblast Everyman Canadian 296. It was a lot of pipes! I have been randomly choosing the next pipe to work on and chose the Bjarne Hand Carved Freehand that is shown in the second photo below. I have drawn a purple box around the GBD Popular 12 Dublin in the photo below. I have also put and X through all of the pipes that I have finished. I am making progress on the lot – I have finished 17 pipes now and this is the 18th.The 18th pipe that I took out of the box was a GBD Popular. It had a smooth finish. It was stamped on both sides of the shank. On the left side it read GBD in an oval over Popular in script. On the right side it was stamped Made in England and under that was the shape number 12. The finish was really dirty and spotty looking. The rim top had a thick coat of lava on the flat surface and the beveled inner rim. The bowl had a thick cake in it that was hard and crumbling. The vulcanite stem was lightly oxidized and had tooth marks and chatter near the button on both sides. The GBD roundel on the left side of the stem looked good. It seemed to have tabs around the edges that held it on the stem surface. I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top to show the condition of the bowl and the darkening and damage to the inner edge as well. You can also see the cake in the bowl. I also took close up photos of the stem to show its condition as mentioned above. I took photos of the stamping on both sides of the shank to show what I was speaking about above. It is very readable. On the left side it reads GBD in an oval over Popular. On the right side it read Made in England over the shape number 12. The stem also had a GBD Roundel on the left side of the taper. Before doing cleanup work on the pipe I decided to do some research on the pipe. I looked first on the Pipephil website and found nothing on the Popular line. I turned to Pipedia and also was disappointed to find nothing on the line. Hitting the dead end I decided to turn to working on the pipe. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer to remove the cake. I cleaned up the remaining cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I sanded the bowl walls with 220 grit sandpaper on a piece of dowel to smooth them out. I was happy that the walls looked very good. I scraped off the lava on the rim top with the edge of the Fitsall Pipe Knife. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the top of the rim and the bevel on the inner edge. I was able to make it look significantly better. I cleaned the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. They were dirty but the pipe is clean now. I scrubbed the surface of the bowl and rim top with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grimes, oils and tars and leave the surface clean. I rinsed it off with warm running water to remove the grime and the soap. I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim down after each sanding pad to remove the dust and debris from the sanding. The rim top was looking very good after the final polishing pad. Once I had finished with the 2400 grit pad I touched up the colour of the rim top using an Oak Stain Pen. It blended very well with the colour of the bowl and shank. Once it cured I went on with the polishing with the remaining micromesh pads. I rubbed the bowl and shank 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. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I rubbed the stem down with Soft Scrub on with a cotton pad and it removed the oxidation. It was looking better. I sanded out the remaining tooth marks, chatter and oxidation with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I rubbed down the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish, a red gritty paste and a cotton pad to remove the remnants of oxidation and to blend in the sanding. The stem is starting to show promise at this point in the process. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with a cotton pad to remove the sanding debris. I finished polishing the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I finished by wiping it down with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil and buffing it to a shine. It feels good to be one pipe away from finishing the restoration of this 19 pipe lot from Eastern Canada. With the completion of this one I have finished 18 of the pipes. I put the English Made GBD Popular 12 Billiard back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the grain showing through the rustication on both sides and the smooth rim top. Added to that the polished black vulcanite stem was beautiful. This nicely finished GBD Popular Billiard is nice looking and feels great in my hand. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Once again I am looking forward to what the pipeman who sent it thinks of this restoration. Only 1 more pipe to do in this lot! Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on the trust to the next pipeman or woman.