Blog by Steve Laug
This past January Jeff and his wife Sherry and Irene and I made a pipe hunting trip down the Oregon Coast. At least that is what Jeff and I called it. We stopped in a lot of the small towns up and down the northern part of the coast and picked up some nice pipes. When I saw this little Lovat with a Cumberland stem I was hooked and we picked it up and added it to the finds of the trip. This pipe is stamped on both sides of the shank and on the underside at the shank/stem union. On the left side it is stamped with the Pipe Maker. On the right side it is stamped Imported Briar. On the underside it is stamped with the shape number 16. It was a very dirty pipe with a dull and lifeless finish that hid the grain around the bowl. There was a very thick cake in the bowl and a thick lava coat on the rim top and the inner edge. It was hard to see what the condition of either the inner or outer edges with the lava and grime. The pipe had a rich medium brown stain with a reddish tint that highlighted nice grain on the bowl sides under the grime and the finish appeared to be in good condition. A lot would be revealed once Jeff had worked his magic on it. The Cumberland style saddle stem was in good condition with oxidation and light tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button and on the button surface itself. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. Jeff has gotten very good at capturing the condition of the bowl and rim top with his photos. You can see the work that is ahead of us in terms of the lava and grime on the rim and the cake in the bowl. This pipe is a real mess. The next set of photos show the grain on the sides and heel of the bowl. It is an interesting combination of grain – cross grain and birdseye predominate. I look forward to seeing what this one looks like once it is clean and restored. He took photos of the faint stamping on the sides of the shank. The Pipe Maker stamp on the left side is faint but readable. The Imported Briar stamp on the right side is also faint but readable. On the underside is the shape stamp 16 which is very clear readable. The fourth and fifth photos below show the logo on the left side of the saddle stem. The next photos show the stem surface. It was very dirty, oxidized and calcified. It had pitting, light tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. Jeff removed the stem from the shank and the photo shows the interesting stinger apparatus and threaded tenon on the pipe. I was certain that the brand was American because of the Imported Briar stamp on the shank but I wanted to learn more about it. I turned first to Pipephils site to see if there was any information on the brand (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-p3.html). I did a screen capture of what was on the site and I include that below.I turned to Pipedia see if there was any further information to help me with hunt for this pipe manufacturer. There was no listing for that pipe company so I had as much information as I could find online.
Now it was time to work on the pipe itself. Jeff had cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. It looked far better than what it was like when we found it. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet Pipe reamer and took the cake back to bare briar. He cleaned up the bowl walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the beveled rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the Cumberland style rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some photos of the rim top and stem. Once Jeff removed the lava on the top and inside of the rim top was a wreck. Both the inner and the outer edge of the bowl showed damage. There were deep nicks and gouges to the surface of the rim and a lot of darkening. The close up photos of the stem shows that is it very clean and there is some tooth chatter and marks on the button surface and just ahead of the button.I removed the stem from the bowl and worked on the rim surface. The rim was beveled so topping it on a topping board was out of the question. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the inner and outer edges of the bowl. I also used it to smooth out the rim top to remove the damage.I was happy with the way the rim top and edges looked so I did not need to do anymore except to polish them. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. The grain really began to stand out and the finish took on a shine by the last sanding pad. The photos tell the story! I touched up the rim top to match the rest of the bowl with a blend of Maple and Cherry stain pens. The blend works really well with this colour of bowl. I am happy with the work so it is time to move on.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for about ten minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside at this point and turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the tooth marks on the button edge and along the edge on both sides with clear super glue. When the repairs had cured I used a needle file to recut and sharpen the edges of the button and the button surface. I paused in my work on the stem to realign the stem in the shank. I heated the tenon with a lighter to soften the glue that holds it in place. I screwed the stem back in the mortise and aligned it while the glue was soft. Once it had set I removed the stem and continued to work on it.I blended the repairs into the surface of the stem and reshaped the button with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I continued the polishing using Denicare Mouthpiece polish. It is a red gritty paste that feels a lot like Tripoli to me. It works very well to polish out remnants of oxidation and smooth out fine scratches in the rubber stem.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it 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. This small Pipe Maker American Made Lovat is a bit of a mystery. I know that Frankau made them in England and Pipe Maker made them in the US but that is the extent of the information available on the brand. The shaping and carving follows the grain and highlights the mix of grains around the bowl. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and the contrasting stains work well to highlight the stunning grain on the pipe. The Cumberland saddle stem adds its reds to the mix. With the grime and debris gone from the finish and the bowl it was a beauty and the grain just pops at this point. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I carefully avoided the stamping on the shank and stem during the process. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad on the buffer. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Lovat is quite nice and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another interesting pipe. This pipe will be added to the American Pipe Makers section of the rebornpipes store soon. If you want to add it to your collection send me an email or a message! Thanks for your time.