Blog by Dal Stanton
The Beldor Studio on my worktable now came to me from what I call the French Lot of 50. I was tipped off by a fellow pipe man friend in Romania who acquired a L. J. Peretti Oom Paul from me. He saw 5 different lots of pipes on the French eBay auction block and sent me a note. My thinking is that one of the Lots might be a good addition to my online collection, For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!, where pipes may be commissioned by those who can see the potential of unrestored pipes. The different lots were from the same seller in Paris and his approach to selling these lots was like throwing bloody chum in shark infested waters! Each lot was in a pile of pipes with different angles of the pile pictured in the lot’s listing. Studying each of the piles was exhilarating trying to see markings on the pipes and characteristics that might reveal treasures in the mix. I finally chose to bid on one of the French Lots because it had a very interesting Cutty shape (Restoration here: A Cutty Tavern Pipe – Recommissioning a Historical Classic as a Gift for a Steward of History) sprawled across the top of the pile and several other very, very interesting candidates. The other characteristic of the French Lot of 50 that drew my attention were several pipes brandishing horn stems – very much pointing toward WW2 and post era pipes when rubber was scarce, and horn became a predominant replacement for stems. With some effort, I found the Beldor Studio buried in the middle of the pile – one arrow on the inverted stummel and the other on the end of the stem barely visible. I bid on the French Lot of 50 and the bid prevailed. It did not take long for the package to come from Paris reaching me in Sofia, Bulgaria.When the pipes arrived, I did my normal cataloging of each pipe and promoting their arrival on various Facebook Pipe groups and many of these pipes have already been restored and with new stewards. The Beldor Studio was waiting for Daniel to find in the online collection, For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! I received Daniel’s inquiry about commissioning the Beldor and he identified himself as the son of a colleague and acquaintance of mine in Pennsylvania! Daniel expressed his enjoyment of reading the write ups on the restoration of pipes and that he was interested in the Beldor Studio. I sent this description of the Beldor to help Daniel with his decision:
I appreciate your interest! The pipe you are interested in is a sweet pipe. I called it a small Churchwarden, or it could possibly be categorized as a ‘Pencil Stem Panel’. It’s a petite size and the paneled bowl is very nice. I haven’t worked on a pipe with this marking before so I can’t say at this point anything about the collectability of a ‘Beldor Studio’ so we’re looking primarily at the pipe itself.
I’m glad that in the end, after giving Daniel an estimate of the final valuing of the pipe, he agreed and the Beldor Studio went into The Pipe Steward queue of pipes that benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited. Here are pictures of the Mini Churchwarden or Pencil Stem that got Daniel’s attention with a measurement of 7 1/2 inches in length and the bowl height of 1 1/8 inches.The only markings on the pipe are on the left shank flank with these stampings: ‘BELDOR’ [over] ‘STUDIO’. The stem is stamped with a circle.This is one of those frustrating pipes that are seen in many places on the internet for sale, but not much is known. The nomenclature on the Beldor Studio gives no indication of country of manufacturer (COM) but it becomes evident that the origins are French and from the pipe making center, Saint Claude. Pipephil.eu confirms the French origins. The lettering of ‘Beldor’ is the same with the circle stem stamp being the same.Pipedia only confirms a French origin and adds different lines with the Beldor name: Maker unknown; series: De Luxe, Golf, Western. The Saint Claude origin in France simply comes from a Beldor pipes that are listed for sale on various sites with the nomenclature on these pipes include Saint Claude. Here is one such example (LINK):I searched for some connection to an actual manufacturer in Saint Claude and could find none. As a ‘hail Mary’ I sent some emails to pipe shops located in Saint Claude to see if any might have more information. We’ll see what if I receive any helpful responses! I did confirm the Beldor ‘Studio’ as the specific line for the Mini Churchwarden with this offering on a French eBay listing that described the center pipe as “BELDOR STUDIO BRUYERE SAINT CLAUDE”.I now take a closer look at the pipe on my worktable. I like the petite panel bowl mounted on the pencil stem. It has Churchwarden proportions but on the miniature. The diminutive bowl would work well when one doesn’t have a lot of time to enjoy a bowl. For me, I’m not a strong, nicotine ‘kick in your pants’, tobacco person, but I do like trying stronger tobaccos but in smaller portions. This bowl would be perfect for this. The former steward used this pipe as the chamber indicates some cake build up. The beveled paneled rim has a heavy lava flow caked on it and this needs to be cleaned and refreshed.The hexagonal paneled apple bowl is very attractive. It is dirty with grime and reveals normal scratches and scuffs from wear but reveals some genuinely nice grain. The pencil stem has some oxidation and tooth chatter on the bit.To begin the recommissioning of this Beldor Studio Mini Churchwarden, I remove the stinger and put aside for safe keeping. I’m not a stinger fan but I’ll clean it and replace it to send to the new steward to decide what to do with itNext, using one pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95%, the stem’s airway is clean.I then add the Beldor Studio stem to a soak of Mark Hoovers ‘Before & After Deoxidizer’ (www.ibepen.com) along with several other pipes in the queue.After a few hours soaking in the Deoxidizer, the Beldor stem is removed from the Deoxidizer and after squeegeeing the liquid off the pipe with my fingers, I use cotton pads wetted with isopropyl 95% to wipe away the raised oxidation. A few pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95% are also used to clear away Deoxidizer from the airway.To help condition the vulcanite stem, paraffin oil is applied and rubbed into the surface. The stem is put aside to allow the oil to be absorbed. Turning now to the paneled bowl, I start by reaming the small chamber. I use only the smallest blade head in the Pipnet Reaming Kit to clear the cake. Following this, the Savinelli Fitsall Tool scrapes further on the chamber walls. Finally, I sand the chamber with 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen. After wiping the chamber with a cotton pad, the chamber appears to be healthy – no heating problems detected.Transitioning now to the externals of the stummel, the picture above shows the thick lava flow caked on the rim that needs to be cleaned as well as the entire bowl. Using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap, I begin using a cotton pad to scrub the stummel’s surface as well as the rim. The rim also requires the brass bristled brush and the sharp edge of my Winchester pocketknife. I use the knife’s edge carefully to scrape the black on the rim. The brass brush also helps as the lava starts to break apart. In time, I move to the kitchen sink to continue the cleaning using shank brushes and anti-oil liquid dish soap to work on the mortise internals. After a thorough rinsing with warm water, I go back to the worktable and take a picture showing the results of the cleaning.The rim cleaned well but the front left rim panel section has a burn scar that will require additional attention.Another result of the cleaning was to reveal a thin finish on the Beldor stummel. The next three pictures show blotches of shiny and dull areas. The shiny indicates old finish hanging on, whereas the dull is raw briar. The second picture shows a small fill that may need to be addressed. While I am focused on the residue of the old finish, I decide to address it now. I first used alcohol and a cotton pad to see if it would break down the residue of finish. It did not. I then use acetone first with a cotton pad, which worked but slowly. Next, I used acetone with the gentle abrasion of 000 steel wool. This did the trick. I was able to remove all the old finish which is a good starting point. I take a couple of pictures to show the clean stummel. Backtracking now in my normal cleaning cycle, I now focus on the internal cleaning of the mortise and airway. I use only one pipe cleaner and cotton bud wetted with isopropyl 95% to discover that the internals are clean. I move on!Earlier I identified a fill on the right side of the stummel. Using a sharp dental probe, I test the fill and find that it has shrunk and unstable. I dig out the old fill to apply a new patch to the pit.After wiping the area with alcohol to clean it, using regular CA glue, I spot drop some glue on the pit. I then cover it with briar dust that helps blend after the sanding of the patch area. I put the stummel aside to allow the patch to cure.With the stummel on the sideline, I turn to the Mini Warden stem which is in particularly good shape. There is almost no tooth chatter on the bit. There is one small compression on the upper bit that needs addressing.I also detect some oxidation remaining on the end of the stem on the shank side. Using 240 paper, the upper and lower bit is sanded to remove any lasting tooth chatter and the one compression.The 240 paper is also deployed on the end of the stem where oxidation was detected. I’m careful to avoid the Beldor ‘O’ stamping on the stem.To be on the safe side, I cover the stem stamping with masking tape to protect it. Next, 600 grade paper is used to wet sand the entire stem. Following this, 000 steel wool finishes further.Next, the full regimen of micromesh pads is used on the stem. To begin, I wet sand with pad 1500 to 2400 and follow with dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000. Between each set of three pads, Obsidian Oil is applied to the stem to condition it and to protect it from oxidation in the future.To further condition the stem and to work on the area of the Beldor ‘O’ stem stamping to clean it up after it having been covered to protect from sanding, I use Before & After Fine and Extra Fine Polishes. Starting with the Fine polish, I apply it on the stem after putting a small amount on my fingers. I work it into the vulcanite and allow it to absorb for 15 to 20 minutes. After this time, I wipe off the excess polish with a paper towel, continuing to work the polish in as I do this. Next, in the same way, the Extra Fine Polish is applied. After 20 minutes, the excess is removed, and the stem is buffed with a microfiber cloth.Turning again to the stummel, the small patch on the right panel has cured.I first use a flat needle file to file down the patch mound then it is further smoothed and blended with 240 grade sanding paper.Next, I address the dark scorched areas of the rim. The internal edge of the rim is a ring of black from the burning. The next two pictures show the condition of the rim. I use the 240 paper to clean the rim and to blend the different contours. The rim is beveled and tapers downward toward the chamber. I go with this bevel to help mask and blend the burn mark that is on the front left panel. I follow with 600 grade paper further smoothing and blending.With the sanding and blending utilizing the tapering of the rim, the rim definition has been blurred. To redefine the hexagonal rim, I do a light topping using only 600 grade paper. The picture below shows how the rim was reestablished and a defined bevel line. I like it!Next the stummel is sanded with the full regimen of micromesh pads from 1200 to 2400, which is wet sanded, then dry sanded from 3200 to 4000 and then 6000 to 12000. Next, to tease out the rich briar hues, Before & After Restoration Balm is used. After applying some on my fingers, the Balm is worked into the surface starting with a cream-like texture then gradually thickening after it is worked into the briar. After applied, I put the stummel aside for a few hours for the Balm to do its thing. The picture below is of this period. Afterwards, the stummel is buffed with a microfiber cloth to remove the excess Balm and to raise the shine.With the stem and stummel reunited, Blue Diamond compound is applied to the entire pipe with a cotton cloth buffing wheel set at about 40% full power on the Dremel.After the application of the compound is finished, the pipe is buffed with a felt cloth to remove the compound dust that is left behind.Before applying wax, I have a couple additional projects to do. The shank on this Mini Churchwarden is very thin and makes me nervous about it being cracked. To guard the shank as well as add a bit more class to this sharp looking pipe, I fit the shank with a brass shank cap. The cap acts as a band as well as curling over the shank facing to serve as a spacer. I find a fitting that will work. I apply a small amount of CA glue to the inside of the fitment and use a toothpick to paint the inside circumference of the ring. After placing the cap partially over the shank to start it, I use the stem itself, to press the cap into place. This serves to create the perfect symmetry with the shank cap butting against the stem facing. This helps close any gaps that may exist between the two. The shank cap looks great – I like it! The next project is to try to fill the ‘O’ stem stamp with white acrylic paint to freshen it. My concern is that the stamping is no longer defined enough to hold a full circle.I place white acrylic paint over the stamping and spread the paint with a toothpick.I then tamp the wet paint with a cotton pad to remove the excess and quickening the drying process.I then use a toothpick’s flat edge to gently scrape the dried paint to achieve an almost whole ‘O’. It looks good.I use 000 steel wool to clean up the stinger and reinsert it into the nickel tenon. Tarn-X Tarnish Remover gives a new shine to the brass shank cap. I use the cotton pad to apply the polish.Finally, with the full ensemble united, I apply carnauba wax with the Dremel. Using another cotton cloth buffing wheel with the Dremel set at 40% of full power, wax is applied to the stem and stummel. Afterwards, I use a microfiber cloth to give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing to raise the shine.I am pleased with the results of this Beldor Studio Mini Churchwarden. The hexagonal paneled bowl gives an elegant presentation as it is mounted on the subtly curved pencil stem. I like the brass shank cap – it adds a bit of class to a very nicely flowing pipe. Daniel commissioned this pipe and he will have the first opportunity to acquire it from The Pipe Steward Store. This pipe benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited. Thanks for joining me!