Breathing Life into a Mehaffey Pipe Shop R4 Acorn


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to me from one of our estate purchases. Between us we pick up quite a few pipes for restoration. I try to work them into the restoration queue so that I can keep them moving. This next on is an interesting looking piece – a smooth oil finished Acorn shaped pipe. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads R4 followed by Mehaffey and on the right side it is stamped R4. The finish had a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the briar. The bowl was heavily caked with a lava coat on the top of the rim. The edges looked to be in good condition. There were some flaws in the briar on the heel toward the front that would need to be cleaned up. The stem was in dirty but not oxidized and had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There were not markings or a logo on the taper stem. It had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work.   He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the overflow of lava on the rim top. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the chatter and tooth marks. Otherwise the stem is quite clean.  Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar looked like. There is some nice grain around the sides. You can also see the flaws in the final close up photo of the heel.   The stamping on the left and right sides of the shank are clear and readable and read as noted above. I turned to Pipephil to find if there as any information included on the brand. There was nothing listed. I turned then to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Mehaffey). There was limited information there on the brand.

E.A. Mehaffey operated a pipe & tobacco shop in Wheaton, Maryland. He used to make pipes for many years but as legend has it, his house tobacco mixtures were much more prestigious than his pipes. Mehaffey was in business up to the 1980’s.

I also turned to a previous blog on rebornpipes that wrote earlier (https://rebornpipes.com/tag/e-a-mehaffey-pipe-tobacco-shop-in-wheaton-maryland/). In that blog I quoted a previous blog by Dal Stanton on the brand and it confirmed what I noted above. I quote from there.

Dal Stanton who has written blogs for rebornpipes had worked on one Mehaffey pipe so I turned to that blog to see what he had found previously (https://rebornpipes.com/tag/e-a-mehaffey-pipe-tobacco-shop-in-wheaton-maryland/). I followed the link on the blog and turned to Pipedia to see if there was any additional information added since Dal had been there previously (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Mehaffey). There was not much information available but I quote what was there in full.

While this statement does not engender enthusiasm for E. A. Mehaffey’s pipe production, the Acorn with a Natural finish is a very nice piece of briar. Both sides of the bowl show a mix of grains. On the front of the bowl there is some nice flame grain and on the back some swirls of grain. This is a beautifully styled and positioned Acorn shape has a tapered vulcanite stem that fits proportionally well. Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it. The rim top cleaned up really well. There is one flaw/fill on the front of the rim top. The inner and outer edge of the bowl looked to be in excellent condition. The stem surface looked very good with a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.    The stamping on both sides of the shank is clear and readable. The left side is stamped with an R4 followed by Mehaffey. On the right side of the shank it is also stamped with R4. On the left side the 4 was stamped as a superscript and on the right side it was stamped with a subscript 4.   I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is tapered and narrow.Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. I filled in some flaws in the briar on the front of the heel with clear super glue. The flaws had twisted shapes and turns as noted above so I did not use briar dust.   I polished the repaired areas and the rest of the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth.  I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The grain has come alive.    I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. It was in good condition and the tooth marks were light so I figured they would polish out fairly easily. I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.        This Acorn R4 pipe from E.A. Mehaffey Pipe & Tobacco Shop in Wheaton, Maryland is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. It really is a piece of pipe shop history as more and more of them disappear. The smooth oil cured finish around the bowl is quite beautiful and highlights the grain and works well with the polished vulcanite taper stem. The repaired flaws in the heel of the bowl are still visible but are now smooth to touch. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the 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 Mehaffey R4 Acorn fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

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