Daily Archives: May 12, 2020

Cleaning up a messy Bent Billiard that appeared to be old…

Blog by Steve Laug

Jeff and I found the next pipe on our Oregon Coast Pipe Hunt. I saw it in a display cabinet and there was something about it spoke to me even through the thick coat of what looked like some kind of moldy dust. It did not smell like mold it really was more like old dust. It made me wonder if the seller had found it in the wall of a house that was being renovated. It is a well-shaped Bent Billiard that had some nice grain poking through the grime. Under the outdoor light and using a lens I could see that it was stamped on the left side of the shank and read IMPERIAL over what appeared to read London Made. The stamping on the right side of the shank reads Italian Bruyere and the number is 15 is at bowl shank junction. The briar that showed has a combination of brown stains that highlights the grain. The finish was very dirty with a heavy coat of grime ground into the bowl and rim top as can be seen in the photos. The bowl had a thick cake with a heavy lava overflow on the inner edge of the top around the bowl. There was too much dust and debris to know what the rim edges looked like but more would be revealed once it was cleaned. The stem was oxidized and there were deep tooth marks and chatter on both sides and on the top and bottom edges of the button. The underside of the stem was badly dented and worn. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he cleaned it up so you could see what we saw. It was a disastrous mess! Jeff took photos of the rim top to show dusty build up around the rim and bowl. It almost obscures the thick cake in the bowl and the lava overflow on the rim top and the inner edge of the rim.    Jeff took some photos of the bowl sides and heel to show debris on the bowl but also the grain that showed beneath that. I think that this will be a beautiful pipe once we are finished. The stamping on each side of the shank is shown in the photos below. They faint but still readable. It reads as noted above.  The Imperial stamping is not in the expected script but it is clear and the London Made beneath is readable under a light. The Italian Briar makes me wonder a bit concerning the provenance of the pipe. The stem was a very good fit to the shank. It was oxidized, calcified and had debris stuck to the surface of the vulcanite. It also shows the deep tooth marks on the stem and on the button surface.  The button is in very bad condition on both the top and underside.    I turned to Pipephil (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-i.html) to read about the Imperial Pipes. The screen capture also helps to clarify the stamping on the left side of the shank. There was also a difference in the IMPERIAL Stamp. This one is script and the one I have is more Germanic script upper case letters.I turned to Pipedia to check out the brand (https://pipedia.org/images/5/52/Imperial_Page.png). There was an interesting catalogue page that shows the shape of the pipe that I am working on. I have drawn a box around it in the photo below. The bend in the stem, the stem style and the shape of the shank and bend look to be the same.Armed with that information and a clearer picture of the original pipe I turned to work on the pipe on my work table. I was really looking forward to what the pipe would look like once Jeff had worked his magic. Would it live up to my expectations? Would there be new issues that I had not expected? I had no idea. When I took it out of the box I was struck great job cleaning up the pipe Jeff had done. It was impressive! He reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and cut back the cake back to the bare briar. He cleaned up the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the finish. He worked on the rim top lava and darkening with the soap and tooth brush. He scrubbed the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer. He washed it off with warm water to remove the deoxidizer. The pipe looked far better. I took photos of the pipe when I received it before I started working on it. I took photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem to show how clean they were. You can see the heavy damage to the rim top and edges of the bowl. The rim top is rough to touch with chips and gouges. The inner edge is also rough and the outer edge is also damaged. It almost looks like the bowl was used as a hammer! The stem is clean and the tooth damage on both sides is very clear in the photos. Lots of work to do on this pipe.I took a photo of the stamping on the sides of the shank. The stamping is faint but readable as noted above.    I took a photo of the pipe with the stem removed to show the overall look of stem, tenon and profile of the pipe. It really is a beautifully shaped pipe.I decided to start my work on the pipe by addressing the damage on the rim top. I topped it lightly with 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board. I was able to remove the damage to the top while at the same time removing the damage on the inner edge and minimizing the outer edge damage. I would polish the rim top with micromesh when I polished the bowl.In handling the bowl it appeared that there was a crack in the front side. I examined with a bright light and lens and was not sure. It almost looked like a scratch in the finish. Polishing the bowl would make it clear one way or another exactly what I was dealing with.I polished the bowl and rim with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I worked over the rim top and edge of the bowl with the pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding debris. I touched up the stain on the rim top using a Cherry and Maple stain pen to blend in the rim top with the rest of the bowl colour.I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips to get it into the crevices. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 10 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The briar really comes alive with the balm. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the tooth marks on the top and underside to lift the vulcanite. It actually worked quite well. I filled in the remaining dents and built up the edges and top of the button on both sides as well using clear super glue. Once the repairs had cured I used a needle file to shape the button surface and recut the edge of the button on both sides of the stem. I flatted out the repairs to the stem surface at the same time. Once I had done the rough shaping work I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to finish the shaping and to remove the remaining oxidation. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil before further polishing it. (Please forgive the fuzziness of the photo of the underside of the stem.) I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.   This older Imperial London Made 15 Bent Billiard turned out far better than I expected when we found it. I really had no idea what would happen when we cleaned it up. I think Jeff probably thought I was crazy paying for this worn out looking piece of “debris” but I saw something that caught my eye and after the restoration you can see what I saw! It is a great looking pipe. The mix of brown stains highlights the beautiful mixed grain around the bowl sides, top and bottom. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and the contrasting stains work well with the polished black vulcanite saddle stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Bent Billiard is very nice and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. It is a petite pipe whose dimensions are Length: 5 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 beautiful pipe. This pipe will stay with me for a while but who knows it could end up on the store one day! Thanks for your time.

My Future Daughter-in-Law Commissions a Sculpted Bent Billiard as a Gift for Her Father

Blog by Dal Stanton

When your son brings home (to Bulgaria!) a young woman for you to meet, you know it’s serious.  That’s what happened this past Christmas!  Our son, Josiah, who lives in St. Louis, Missouri, brought Katie, who lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Sofia to meet Mom and Dad – no pressure on her!  They met in college and after graduation, they stayed in touch as friends, Josiah ending up in St. Louis where he finished his master’s degree and is now a counselor.  Katie stayed in Chattanooga and works on staff with youth in a church.  Our daughter and husband also made the trip to Sofia from Nashville for a quintessential Bulgarian Christmas.  The family was together at the Sofia Airport when Josiah (center) and Katie (flowers 😊) arrived from the US.  Johanna and Niko had arrived a few days earlier – ready to celebrate Christmas!

As you would expect, we had limited time with our kids, and we packed it as full as we could!  What Christmas celebration would be complete without including snow, riding gondolas and skiing in Bulgaria’s beautiful Pirin Mountains and spending time together as a family AND getting to know the young women who would become our future daughter-in-law in August.  The time with our kids went too quickly, but before they left, Katie’s future father-in-law was an interesting character with the moniker, The Pipe Steward, and she was interested in finding a special pipe she could commission from The Pipe Steward to give to her father as a gift for his birthday.  Unlike most people who go through the virtual ‘Help me!’ baskets in the online collection I call, For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!, Katie was able to go through the physical boxes of my inventory to find the perfect pipe that called her name for her father.  What added to the experience was that Katie knew that the pipe she chose would benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria!  The pipe that got Katie’s attention after listening to many, many pipes, was a very hopeful Sculpted 3/4 Bent Billiard with only the marking, ‘IMPORTED Briar’ on the left shank flank which I had acquired from the Lot of 66 – a huge Lot of pipes that came from a non-profit in Georgetown, Texas, called the Caring Place.  Here are some of the original pictures I took when the Lot of 66 arrived. Christmas is now, long gone, our world has changed by the covid-19 pandemic, the kids are in the US navigating life, and  Katie’s pipe for her father is now on my worktable.  I take a closer look at the Sculpted Bent Billiard with some pictures.  There is genuinely nice briar grain lurking beneath the darkened, tired finish – many bird’s eye formations draw my attention.  The upper bowl surface is darkened in comparison to the other briar landscape indicating potential overheating problems which may be revealed when the chamber is cleared of the cake.The rim is in rough shape with thick lava flow and nicks and skinned edges – it’s been a well-used pipe!The picture doesn’t show the thick carbon cake buildup that I can see with the eye.  The chamber closes and narrows as you move toward the chamber floor.The mortise is too loose so that the tenon has no grab.  This needs to be addressed and tightened.The stem has deep oxidation and calcium buildup on the bit area. The button needs refreshing.The nomenclature is thin with only ‘Imported Briar’ on the shank.  The spelling of briar probably indicates this to be a US manufactured pipe.  To begin the restoration of Katie’s pipe, the stem’s airway is cleaned with a pipe cleaner wetted in isopropyl 95%.With the oxidation being so deep and with the calcium buildup, I get a head start on removing the oxidation using 000 grade steel wool along with a ‘Soft Scrub-like’ product I can get here in Bulgaria. This helps with the cleaning before putting the stem into the soak.The next step is to give the stem a soak in Before & After Deoxidizer that does an adequate job of removing oxidation that isn’t too deep.  The stem joins other stems and pipes in the queue.  I let it soak for several hours.After removing the stem from the Deoxidizer, I let the liquid drain and I squeegee the stem with my fingers.  I then use cotton pads wetted with isopropyl 95% to wipe the stem removing raised oxidation.  I clear the fluid from the airway with a few pipe cleaners also wetted with isopropyl 95%.To help condition the vulcanite stem, paraffin oil is applied with a cotton pad.  Paraffin Oil is a mineral oil.  I then put the stem aside to give time for the oil to be absorbed.Next, turning to the bowl, I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit to start clearing the hard, thick carbon cake from the chamber. I use 3 of the 4 blade heads available in the kit to ream the bowl.  I follow the reaming tool by scraping the chamber wall with the Savinelli Fitsall Tool.  I finish by sanding the chamber with 240 paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen. After wiping the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol, I discover what appears to be some heating damage on the upper backside of the chamber – behind the sculpting.  There is a hole with a crevasse cutting to the left from the deep pit.  This will need attention after the cleaning of the stummel is completed.Next, I continue with the cleaning of the external surface using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap on a cotton pad.  I also utilize a brass bristled brush to work on the lava covered rim.  Brass does not damage the briar and adds some cleaning power.  I transport the pipe to the kitchen sink and continue the cleaning using shank brushes and anti-oil dish soap. With the brushes the mortise is scrubbed.  After a thorough rinsing, the bowl is back on the worktable.The rim cleaned up revealing the internal edge burn damage from lighting practices on the right side of the bowl.  This will be addressed later.The bigger surprise comes after inspection of the sculpted area.  The center of the sculpting is a filler.  The question is, was the sculpting used to hide an imperfection in the briar itself or to blend a repair possibly caused by a burn-through?  I don’t believe it’s a burn through, but the fill corresponds to the hole in the chamber.Using a dental probe, it doesn’t take much to clean the hole and to complete the tunnel passageway to the chamber.  Daylight is now visible looking from the inside.  Ugh. There appears to be a lateral crack that the sculpting has incorporated.  This pipe falls into the ‘Dreamer’ category but is not beyond hope!  The briar surface is nice, and this challenge I hope does not create too much of an obstacle. Continuing with the cleaning regimen, I return to cleaning the internals using cotton buds and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95%.  I discover that a couple pipe cleaners and one cotton bud are all that is needed.  The internals are clean.My approach to repairing the hole in the stummel is to first start with applying briar dust putty to the external briar side.  I don’t push the putty through into the chamber but leave a gap that will be filled with JB Weld on the internal fire side. Using burrs with the Dremel, I’ll ‘re-sculpt’ the external surface to blend the patch. Working on a plastic disk as a mixing palette, scotch tape helps with an easy cleanup. After cleaning the area with alcohol, I begin by mixing briar dust with BSI Extra Thick Maxi-Cure CA glue using a toothpick.  I draw briar dust into the puddle of glue until the thickness is that of molasses.  I then use the toothpick to trowel the putty to the hole.  I press the putty into the hole partially to fill it.  I use an accelerator to quicken the curing and to hold the patch in place. After the briar dust putty is fully cured, the next step is to apply JB Weld to the internal fracture and crevasse.  JB Weld is heat resistant and works well has a chamber repair.  I mix equal parts of the ‘Steel Resin’ and the ‘Hardener’ and then mix with a toothpick.  The mixed epoxy begins to harden in about 4 minutes giving plenty of time to apply the Weld to the hole and to the crevasse running from it.  After applied, I set the stummel aside for some hours for the patch to cure. Switching my focus now to the stem, to expand the tooth compressions on the upper and lower bit, I first use the heating method.  Using a Bic lighter, I paint the bit with the flame thereby warming and expanding the rubber compound, vulcanite.  I take before and after pictures to show the comparison on the upper and lower. The heating method may have helped some, but not enough to avoid using Black CA glue to spot drop patches on the upper and lower bit.  After applying the CA glue, I put the stem aside for the patches to cure.With the stem on the side curing, I turn again to the stummel. The JB Weld patch has fully cured. To remove the excess epoxy and to smooth the chamber wall, I mount a sanding drum to the Dremel.  It does a quick and good job. I then sand and smooth the chamber patch using 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  The patch looks good conforming exactly to the hole and crevasse it filled. The rim has sustained a good bit of damage on the right inner edge.  My first thought was to top the stummel at this point to remove the damage.  After a second thought, this would remove a good bit of briar real estate from the rim.  Instead, I decide to rebuild the inner edge using briar dust putty then after the patch cures to top and sand the rim. I first remove all the residual carbon from the surface from the lighting damage that caused the problems.  I brush the area with the brass wired brush as well as sand it with 240 paper getting down to fresh briar.This picture shows the damage to the rim well and the area needing to be rebuilt.I mix briar dust with Extra Thick CA glue by gradually pulling briar dust into the puddle until it reaches the thickness of molasses.  Then the briar putty is applied with the toothpick to the inside of the lip to build up toward the rim and in toward the chamber.  I use an accelerator to quicken the curing process. Allowing the rim patch to thoroughly cure, I turn back to the stem filing and sanding the black CA glue patches on the upper and lower bit.  I use the file to refresh and redefine the button.  The sanding is expanded to the entire stem to remove vestiges of oxidation.Following the 240 sanding paper, the stem is wet sanded with 600 grade paper followed by applying 000 grade steel wool.  The stem is shaping up nicely.The rim briar dust putty rebuild is fully cured and using the sanding drum mounted onto the Dremel, I begin removing the excess patch material on the internal chamber wall.  The goal is to restore a rounded chamber. Next, the excess patch material is removed from the rim top.I also smooth out the external hole path in the sculpted area. With the excess patch material removed from the rim, I then take the stummel to the topping board.  I removed the excess first so that the topping will be more balanced and not get pushed off or out of balance because of the different level of surface. I start first with 240 sanding paper on the chopping board. After some rotations on the board, the ‘roundness’ or lack of, of the chamber becomes more distinct. I return to the sanding drum on the Dremel to continue to round the chamber wall and rim edge.  This goes slowly to make sure not to take too much off!  I also use 240 sanding paper rolled to clean the outer and inner edges of the rim.   It’s looking good.After changing the topping board to 600 grade paper, the stummel is rotated several more times.  I like what I see.  The rim rebuild patch looks good and the rim’s balance has been restored without great loss of briar off the top of the bowl.Before continuing with sanding the stummel, I attach a burr to the stummel to shape the sculpting.  I try to match some swings and swirls but dipping in and out with the burr is pretty random.  At the end, I think it looks good.I plan to apply a light brown dye to the stummel.  To clean the surface and to help to lighten the dark spots caused by heating, especially near the rim, I apply sanding sponges. I usually use 3 sanding sponges – coarse, medium and light to finish.  I add a coarser sponge to this regimen with a total of 4 sanding cycles. The grain has started to emerge.  I continue by using the full regimen of micromesh pads.  Starting with pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand.  Following this, dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000 bring out the latent grain in the briar.  I’m liking the appearance of several bird’s eye swirls. The grain is lively and expressive. The stummel still shows darkened areas from charring and heating. This is especially on the rim and near the top of the bowl.  I decided early on with the repairs and the briar blemishes, that I would apply Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye to the briar surface.  I assemble the dying module on my work desk.I begin by heating the stummel with a hot air gun.  The gun heats and expands the briar helping it to be more receptive to the dye.  I then paint the stummel with the aniline dye using a folded pipe cleaner and with each section, I ‘flame it’ by lighting it with the lit candle with the result that the alcohol in the dye combusts leaving behind the dye pigment.I thoroughly apply the dye and fire it making sure the entire stummel has been covered.  The stummel is then set aside for several hours to ‘rest’.  This allows the new dye to be absorbed into the briar grain.With the stummel resting, I turn again to the stem.  I apply the full regiment of micromesh pads by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400 and dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads, Obsidian Oil is applied to help condition the stem and to protect from oxidation. The newly dyed stummel has been resting for several hours and it’s time to ‘unwrap’ the fire crusted shell.  I use a felt buffing wheel mounted on the Dremel at the lowest speed.  Using the felt wheel Tripoli compound is applied to the stummel surface.Next, I wipe the stummel with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol not so much to lighten but to remove excess dye ‘clumped up’ that was missed through the buffing process.Next, I reunite stem and stummel and apply (stem attachment not shown!) and apply Blue Diamond compound.  With a cotton buffing wheel attached to the Dremel, the speed is set at approximately 40% full power and the compound is applied to pipe.  After applying the compound, a felt cloth is used to wipe/buff the pipe to remove any compound dust in preparation for adding wax.I had observed earlier that the stem was loose.  There is too much play with the mortise fitting.  To remedy this, I use the smooth end of a drill bit, one-step larger than the airway diameter.  I then heat the mortise carefully with a Bic lighter to warm the vulcanite making it more supple.  As the mortise heats, I gently insert the larger drill bit into the airway expanding the diameter of the tenon as I go. The procedure works well.  The mortise-tenon fit is snugger as it should be.Next, just to help guard against dye leeching when the pipe is first put into service, I reheat the stummel and wipe it well with a cotton cloth.  This emulates the heating when the pipe is first put into service.  Sometimes, newly dyed stummels will leech the dye when they are first used coloring the new steward’s fingers – in this case, Katie’s father!  I don’t want this to happen!With the repair having been done to the upper chamber with the filling of the hole with JB Weld, a protective coating of natural Bulgarian yogurt and activated charcoal will help initiate a layer for a carbon cake to develop.  The normal healthy cake width for a chamber is the width of a US dime.  Not much, but this helps to guard the briar in the fire chamber.  I add the charcoal to a small amount of natural yogurt.  Sour cream can also be used.I add charcoal until the mud mixture will not drip off the pipe nail but remains firm.After putting a pipe cleaner in the airway to guard the draft hole from being obstructed, I then trowel the mud into the chamber and cover the chamber wall thoroughly.  The hour is late, so I put the stummel aside for the mud to dry through the night. The next day, after rejoining stem and stummel, carnauba wax is applied to the entire pipe.  Another cotton cloth buffing wheel is mounted on the Dremel for this purpose and the speed is maintained at 40% full power.  After the application of a few coats of wax, the pipe is given a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to remove any excess wax and to raise the shine.Wow!  This Sculpted 3/4 Bent Billiard had some issues to work through.  The hole repair and the rim were the largest challenges and I’m pleased with how these repairs turned out.  The briar grain is fun and expressive and really made an appearance through the dying and buffing process.  I’m pleased and I trust that my future daughter-in-law, Katie, will be pleased as well as she gives this pipe to her father as a gift for his birthday.  What makes this gift even more valuable is that this pipe benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

Back To Working On My Inheritance; A Stanwell # 62 Freehand

Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Being on leave that has been compulsorily extended by 40 days due to the virus pandemic being rampant and the country under a lock down was a blessing in disguise. I have enough time to spend with my daughters, catch up on some reading and most importantly, get working on some pipes!! The only downside to the last activity was that I have left behind at my place of work, most of my tools and paraphernalia that I use for restoring pipes. This greatly restricts the types of repairs that I can undertake at the moment. With these limitations, I rummaged through the pile and chose this inherited Stanwell as my next project on the premise that it would be a simple ‘refurbishing only’ task.

This large sandblasted freehand pipe with plateau rim top is stamped on the smooth underside of the shank from the foot towards the shank end as “HAND MADE” over “MADE IN DENMARK” in block capital letters followed by “STANWELL” in an inverted arch. Towards the shank end is the shape code/ model number “62”. The silver “Crowned S” adorns the left side of the vulcanite stem. The stampings on the stummel have worn off in the first half from the foot towards the shank end and can be seen in bright light and under magnification.There is adequately detailed and informative material available on both pipedia.org and pipephil.eu on the brand; however, I was keener to know the exact dating and correlate the pipe details with the shape code. Basil Stevens is considered an authority on all things Stanwell and on surfing the net, I came across this site which gives out pointers to dating a Stanwell pipe; here is the link https://www.scribd.com/document/45022903/Stanwell-Dating-Pricing-Information-by-Basil-D-Stevens.

I reproduce the relevant pointers which help in dating the Stanwell on my work table:-

Dating Information:

  1. Block letter stamp “Silver S” used until late 1960s and then changed to script.
  2. Up until the early 1960s only the top pipes, e.g. “Hand Cut” had the stem/mouth pieces stamped with the Stanwell logo of a crown over “S”.

The last bit of curiosity in my mind was to link the model number on my Stanwell to the description of the shape and designer, if possible. Again pipedia.org has a section on “Stanwell Shape Numbers and Designers” and sure enough, 62 finds a mention, here is the link


I quote and reproduce the relevant information:-

  • Two versions of this shape number
  1. a) Liverpool, medium size.
  2. b) Freehand, Plateau top, saddle mouthpiece, by Sixten Ivarsson.

Thus from the above, it is amply evident that the pipe now on my work table is a Freehand pipe from the late 1960s designed by Sixten Ivarsson!!

Now on to restoring this Stanwell Freehand pipe with a delicate vulcanite saddle stem……..

Initial Visual Inspection
This medium sized sandblasted freehand pipe has a good heft and nicely fills the hand. Like most of the pipes from my inheritance; this too has a thick layer of cake in the chamber with overflow of lava on the plateau rim top. The cake is dry and hard. The inner rim edge appears sans any damage and this would only be confirmed once the chamber has been reamed. The condition of the walls of the chamber can be commented upon once the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. However, the external surface of the stummel feels and looks solid and hence I do not foresee any major issues surprising me later in the course of restoration. The ghost smells are very strong in the chamber. As is commonly seen on sandblasted pipes with some age on them, the crevices are always filled with dust, dirt, oils, tars and grime from all the years of smoking and storage. This one is no exception to this observation. The grooves of the sandblast are filled with dust and grime. The fact that the textured patterns of the rustications are dusty and filled with dirt is accentuated more due to the contrast of dark and medium brown stains on the stummel and the shank. The briar looks lifeless and bone dry and has taken on black dull hues. The mortise is full of oils, tars and gunk and the air flow is restricted. Through all the dirt, dust and grime, beautiful sandblast patterns can be seen and appreciated. The delicate vulcanite saddle stem is beautifully contoured to match the flow of the pipe with a smooth surface at the bottom of the saddle contiguous with that of the shank. The stem is heavily oxidized with a couple of deep tooth indentations on both the upper and lower stem surface in the bite zone. The lip edge on either surface has bite marks. These repairs should be easy. The tenon and horizontal slot is covered in dried oils, tars and gunk. The stem air way too appears to be clogged as the air flow through the stem is laborious to say the least. The stem logo of the letter ‘S’ with a crown on top is crisp and deep.The Process
The process of refurbishing this pipe started with the cleaning of the stem. Abha, my wife, cleaned the stem air way with regular and bristled pipe cleaners dipped in 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. She further cleaned the stem internals with thin shank brushes and dish soap to remove the stubborn and thick gunk from within the airway. The heap of pipe cleaners and their appearance tells a sordid story. With my sharp fabricated knife, she scraped off all the dried tars and gunk from the tenon end.Once the stem internals had been cleaned, I gently sand the stem surface with a used piece of 220 grit sand paper and immersed it in “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution along with the stem of other pipes in line for restoration. This solution has been developed by Mark Hoover and works to draw out all the deep seated oxidation from the surface making it’s subsequent cleaning and polishing a breeze. I would definitely recommend this product as it saves on to time and efforts. It has been our experience that before immersing the stem in to the stem deoxidizer, light sanding of the stem with a folded piece of 220 grits sand paper loosens the oxidation a bit and helps get fantastic end results. The pipe has been marked with a green arrow for easy identification.Simultaneously, while Abha was working on the stem, I reamed the bowl with a Castleford pipe reamer using the first three head sizes. Using my fabricated knife, I cleaned the cake from areas which could not be reached by the reamer heads. I used a 220 grit sand paper, pinched between my thumb and forefinger, to sand the inner walls of the chamber. Once I had reached the bare walls, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This removed all the residual carbon dust and also allowed a clear inspection of the walls. The walls of the chamber are nice and solid with no signs of heat fissures or cracks. The inner rim edge shows no charring or chipping. The ghost smells are still strong and all pervading. Hopefully these smells will be exorcised once the shank and mortise are thoroughly cleaned! I cleaned the mortise and shank walls using q-tips, shank brush, regular and hard bristled pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I scraped the walls with a dental tool and removed the entire accumulated gunk. I shall further clean it with a shank brush and liquid dish soap once I clean the stummel surface. The strong smells still persist though the mortise is nice and clean as can be seen in pictures.With the bowl internals clean, I move to clean the exterior of the stummel. I generously applied “Briar Cleaner”, a product that has been developed by my friend Mark Hoover, to the external surface of the bowl and the plateau rim top surface. It works similar to Murphy’s oil soap and needs to be applied to the stummel surface and set aside for 5- 10 minutes. The product pulls out all the dirt and grime to the surface making further cleaning easy. I am quite happy with this product. I used a hard bristled tooth brush to scrub the stummel and rim top with the solution. After the scrub with Briar cleaner solution, I washed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till clean and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I deliberately cleaned the plateau rim top with Scotch Brite pad and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush. The stummel surface has cleaned up nicely with the intricate sandblast patterns on full display. The ghost smells in the chamber were still quite strong and hence I decided to address this issue. To eliminate the ghost smells from the pipe, I decided to treat it with salt and alcohol. I do not use Kosher salt as it is not readily available here and if available, it’s very expensive. I use a cotton ball which is an at par substitute as I have realized over the last year or so. I draw out a wick from the cotton and along with a folded regular pipe cleaner; insert it into the mortise and through the draught hole into the chamber. Thereafter, I pack the chamber with cotton balls to about quarter of an inch below the rim’s inner edge. I soak the cotton balls with isopropyl alcohol up to the brim. About half an hour later, the level of alcohol goes down, having been absorbed by the cotton. I top it up once again and set it aside overnight. By next morning, the cotton and alcohol has drawn out all the remaining oils and tars from the chamber and mortise, fulfilling its intended task. I removed the cotton ball and ran pipe cleaners through the mortise to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk. The chamber now smells clean and fresh. I set the stummel to dry out naturally.The next morning, Abha removed the stems that had been soaking in the deoxidizer solution overnight. She cleaned the stem and the stem airway under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using a Scotch Brite pad and the airway with thin shank brush. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stem.The deep tooth indentations are now clearly visible. Since I did not have a lighter to heat and raise these indentations to the surface (my preference to use it for this purpose), I used a lit match stick instead. I have experimented with a lit candle also and the results of both these alternatives are equally good; however, one has to be doubly careful as the heat from a candle flame is more intense as compared to a match stick or a lighter. These tooth indentations were raised to the surface to some extent due to the heating; however, it would require a fill to complete the repairs.I prepared a mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal and carefully applied it over the damaged bite zone on both surfaces and lip and set it aside for curing overnight. I had applied this mix in sufficient thickness which would help during the filing and sanding to match the fills with the stem surface.While the stem was set aside for the fills to cure, I decided to polish the raised portions of the plateau rim top surface. The polished lightened and shining raised portion should be a nice contrast to the surrounding rim surface. I dry sand the raised portions with 1500 and 2000 grit sand papers (1500 to 2400 grit pads have worn out) followed by dry polishing with 3200 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. I like the appearance of the rim top at this stage. Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my fingertips, working it deep in to the sandblasts and let it rest for a few minutes. I generously rubbed the balm in to the plateau rim top surface. The balm almost immediately works it’s magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful sandblast patterns displayed in their complete splendor. The contrast of the dark browns of the raised sandblast with the dark black of the rest of the stummel added an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel. The most interesting aspect was the appearance of the plateau rim top which may be insufficiently described in words and be rather seen in person. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. I set the stummel aside and worked on the stem. The stem fills had cured nicely and using a flat head needle file, I sanded the fill to achieve a rough match with the surrounding stem surface. I further sanded the stem surface with a folded piece of 220 and 320 grit sand papers to further blend in the repairs and followed it with wet sanding the entire stem with 1500 to 12000 grade micromesh pads. I wiped the stem with a moist cloth to remove the dust and monitored the progress being made after every three grit pads. The stem polished up nicely and had a rich deep black shine to it. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil to rehydrate the vulcanite and set the stem aside. I refreshed the stem stamping with a white correction pen. The end result shows a perfectly refreshed stem logo.To complete the restoration, I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and applied several coats of carnauba wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further and remove any residual wax from in between the sandblasts. The finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and is now ready for its long second innings with me. I only wish it could share with me it’s life story of the past years while I enjoy smoking my favorite Virginia blend in it or maybe an English blend or maybe just keep admiring it!! P.S. This and the subsequent restoration that I have lined up are all simple and straight forward projects, however, I would assure the readers that each one is unique and each project is interesting.

In these troubled times when at one point in time the world wide call was for mankind to come closer, it is now necessary to maintain and observe social distancing. I wish that we maintain physical distance to prevent the spread of the virus but let’s bond together mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

I wish to thank each one for sparing their valuable time to read through this write up and praying for the health and safety of entire mankind. Stay home…stay safe!!