Restoring a Stanwell Antique 144 Chonowitsch Designed Calabash


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is from the next box of pipes I am working through. It is a Stanwell Antique 144 Calabash. The Calabash shaped bowl with a plateau rim top, round shank and red acrylic shank extension combine to make this Stanwell Antique a beauty. To me this is a classic Stanwell shape and it instantly recognizable. The finish combines a smooth natural patch with great grain on the front of the bowl with the rest of the bowl a dark brown finished rugged sandblast. The top of the bowl is plateau. The pipe was stamped on the underside of the shank on a smooth patch and read Stanwell over Antique followed by the shape number 144. The Antique stamp continues into the red acrylic shank extension. 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 lava overflow onto the plateau rim top and the inner edge of the bowl. The stem was heavily oxidized and there were tooth marks and chatter on both sides and on the top and bottom edges of the button. It was also stamped with a Stanwell Crown S on the top of the saddle stem. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he cleaned it up so you could see what we saw. Jeff took a photo of the rim top to show lava build up in the plateau rim top, the edges and cake in the bowl. This one was obviously someone’s favourite pipe and it was a mess.Jeff took some photos of the bowl sides and heel to show the absolutely dirty finish ground into the briar. It was a dirty pipe but I think it will be a beautiful one once we are finished. The stamping on the underside of the shank is shown in the photo below. It is clear and read as noted above. The stem was oxidized, calcified and had debris stuck to the surface of the vulcanite. It also shows the tooth chatter and marks on the stem and on the button surface.  There was a Stanwell Crown S logo stamped on the top of the stem. I checked my usual sources for information on the Antique line but there was nothing specific on either Pipedia or Pipephil’s site. I also checked on the Pipedia site in the article there on shape number and shape designers(https://pipedia.org/wiki/Stanwell_Shape_Numbers_and_Designers). From there I found that the shape number 144 was designed by Jess Chonowitsch and was a large pipe (Freehand) with plateau top and a saddle stem. I did a screen capture of the listing and have included it below.It looks like I am dealing with a pipe designed for Stanwell by Jess Chonowitsch. Now it was my turn to work on the pipe. Jeff had done his usual thorough cleanup of the pipe. He had reamed the pipe with a Pipnet piper reamer and taken the cake back to bare briar. He cleaned up the remaining cake 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 the stem 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. The edges of the rim look very good. Some of the black colour on the plateau is washed out and missing but otherwise it is clean. The stem is clean and there is some residual darkening. The tooth damage on the button top and bottom edges is minimal. I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. The stamping is readable as noted above.   I used a Black Sharpie to touch up the black areas on the rim top. I would look better after buffing.I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush. 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 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.I used some Rub’N Buff Antique Gold to touch up the Stanwell Crown S stamp on the topside 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 Stanwell Antique 144 Calabash with a saddle vulcanite stem turned out very nice. The mix of brown stains highlights the sandblasted grain around the bowl sides and bottom. The plateau rim top and edges look very good. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition. 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 Calabash is very nice and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. It is a nice pipe whose dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. This Stanwell Antique Calabash designed by Jess Chonowitsch will be going on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interesting in adding it to your collection let me know! Thanks for your time.

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