Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on my worktable is a bit of a mystery. It is a well-made long shank Bulldog that has a great sandblast. The pipe had some beauty shining through the dust and debris in the valleys of the sandblast finish. The blast covered the rim top, bowl and shank with a smooth panel on the underside of the shank. The finish was dull and lifeless and dirty from sitting around. There was a thick cake in the bowl with lava flowing out of the bowl and over the rim top. The lava had filled in the deeper grooves of the sandblasted finish on the rim top. The inner edge of the rim appeared to be in good condition. The stamping on the shank read Made in London England with ROTA’S stamped afterward and slightly on top of the Made in stamp. There are no other stampings on the pipe and no shape numbers. The saddle stem was oxidized and there were tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. Jeff took the following photos before he started his cleanup work on the pipe. He took close-up photos of the bowl and rim top from various angles to capture the condition of the bowl and rim top edges. You can see the lava overflow and debris in the sandblasted rim top. You can see the cake in the bowl. This was a dirty pipe but it was the overall finish appeared to be in good condition.He took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the beautiful sandblast around the bowl. It is quite uniform and you can see the dust and debris in the finish. It is a good looking sandblast. Jeff took a photo of the stamping on the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable.The next photos show the overview of the stem top and the tooth chatter and oxidation on the top and underside of the stem.When the pipe arrived I turned to Pipephil and Pipedia for information on the ROTA’S name and the Made in London England stamping. There was nothing the ROTA name. I looked at Comoy’s shapes and Charatan shapes as suggested by others and did not find a match in either one of those. While I was working on the pipe there was something about the shape, particularly the cap above the twin rings and the way the bottom of the bowl flowed into the diamond shank that reminded me of some GBD Bulldogs that I had worked on. I searched online for long shank GBD Bulldogs and found the one that I was thinking about. The link led me to a pipe on the site smokingpipes.com – a GBD Celebrity 268 Bulldog. I am including both the link and a picture below (https://www.smokingpipes.com/pipes/estate/england/moreinfo.cfm?product_id=141918).I think I had found a good possibility for the maker of the pipe for whoever ROTA’S is. Though the ROTA version is a little longer the shape of the bowl and the shank is identical and the lay out of the stem matches as well. Someone suggested that ROTA’S was a company or shop but I exhausted that online as well. So the ROTA’S stamp remains a mystery but I think the pipe itself was made by GBD. Perhaps someone reading this will make the link for us and let us all know.
Now it was time to look at it up close and personal. Jeff had done his usual thorough job in removing all of the cake in the bowl and the lava on the rim top. He had reamed the bowl with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He took the cake back to bare briar so we could check the walls for damage. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime on the bowl and rim and was able to remove the lava and dirt. He cleaned out the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they came out clean. He cleaned the stem with Soft Scrub to remove the grime on the exterior and cleaned out the airway with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the work. To show how clean the rim top and stem really were I took a close-up photo of the rim and stem. The bowl was clean and cake free. The rim top is very clean with no residual lava in the sandblast finish. The inner edges of the bowl look good. The vulcanite stem cleaned up nicely. The surface had some light oxidation and tooth marks but the button edge looked really good.I took a photo of the stamping on the under side of the shank. You can see the clear stamping.I removed the stem from the bowl and took photos of the parts. The 4 Blue Dots on the tapered vulcanite stem look very good. Once again the bowl looked very good so I did not need to do any further work on it. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the finish on the bowl and shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I worked it in with my fingers and with a horse hair shoe brush to get it into the nooks and crannies of the sandblast finish on the bowl and shank. I let it sit for 10 minutes to let it do its magic. I buffed it with a soft cloth. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. The bowl was finished so I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. To address the oxidation and the tooth marks on the stem surface I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to blend in the tooth marks and to break up the oxidation. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I started polishing the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish – a red gritty paste that feels a lot like tripoli. I find that it works well to polish out some of the more surface scratches in the vulcanite left behind by the 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I rub it into the stem surface with my fingertips and buff it off with a cotton pad.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with a cloth containing some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. I gave it a final rub down with Obsidian Oil to preserve and protect the vulcanite stem. I have used No Oxy Oil in the past at this point as it does the same thing as Obsidian Oil but have gone back to using solely Obsidian Oil. I put the bowl and stem back together again and buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I used a soft touch on the sandblast bowl so as not to fill in the blast with the product. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem several coats of carnauba wax. I carefully buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I finished buffing with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe looks very good. The sandblast is light but interesting and feels great in the hand. It is comfortable and light weight. The finished ROTA’S Made in London England Long Shank Bulldog is shown in the photos below. It sure looks like some of the GBD Bulldogs I have worked on. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This great looking sandblast long shank Bulldog turned out very well. It should be a great pipe. It will be going on the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.