Daily Archives: August 19, 2020

Breathing Life into a Talamona Romana Large Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from a seller in Troy, Michigan on 01/06/19. It has been around waiting to be worked on. Jeff did the original photographs of the pipe in on January 18, 2019. It is a large billiard with an acrylic stem and some nice grain around the bowl. It has a rich cherry red finish that is transparent enough that you can see the grain. The stamping is the clear and readable. It is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads the Talamona [over] Romana. On the underside of the shank it is stamped Made In Italy. The finish was very good around the bowl sides but the rim top is rough. There was a lot of grime ground into the bowl and some darkening around the sides of the bowl. There was some damage on the rim top where it was nicked and dented. The bowl was heavily caked and there was a lava coat on the top of the rim. The inner edge of the bowl was covered with thick lava but it appeared to me that there was damage and burning around the edges. The black, taper acrylic stem was a mess. There were tooth marks and chatter on both sides and damage on the button surface. The stem had red dot in a white circle insert on the top side of the taper. The pipe had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took 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 condition of the rim top and edges. You can see the damage on the crowned top and edges of the bowl. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the horrible condition of the chatter and tooth marks.    Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some interesting grain under the grime and heavy scratching of the bowl sides. There are a few small fills that also evident. The third photo shows the burn mark toward the front bottom of the bowl.   Jeff took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It read as noted above.     I searched on Pipephil for the brand and found the stamping and logo on a similar looking pipe (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-t2.html). It gave me information on the carver – Cesare Talamona. It is fascinating information as this is not a brand that I have worked on before. The last pipe in the photo before is the same as the one I am working on – a Talamona Romana, Made in Italy. The logo on this pipe is the same as the third pipe in the photo below.Artisan: Cesare Talamona is the son of Cornelio Talamona who founded the brand in 1929 in Oltrona di Gavirate (Varese). Most of Talamona pipes have a 9mm filter. The business closed down in December 2000 after Cesare’s wife had passed away. See also (second): Caesar

I turned to Pipedia for information on the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Talamona). I quote the article below.

Those weren’t good times in Italy when Cornelio Talamona, a carpenter by trade, began to manufacture pipes in his bottega in 1929 to earn an additional income.

When his son Cesare left school in 1945 at the age of 15, times were worse. There was neither a place for an apprenticement nor another job to be found in the destitute and war-torn country. And Cesare felt no desire to a continuing school attendance which moreover would have costed money. So the father, beset by worries, decided the boy might lend him a helping hand in the workshop where at that time in priority furniture pieces of the indispensable kind were made – and repaired above all. And then… Time would tell.

Gradually Italy recovered from the consequences of the war – above all thanks to enormous aid by the United States. Cesare Talamona remained in the workshop and became pipe maker. And Talamona Pipes made their way first to some important pipe shops in northern Italy where they gained a considerable good reputation for the small brand. This helped a lot to sell pipes in Germany since the later 1960’s as well, where the circle of customers admittedly remained manageable but affectionate due to a very good quality at moderate prices. Almost all of these pipes were made for 9mm filter.

In fact, Cesare Talamona never became one of the real great names of Italian pipe making. Though during the best years, in the 1980’s, there were even some auxiliary crafts, and also Cesare’s son and his two daughters earned their livelihood for a while in the family business. On the 31st of December 2000, the firm was closed officially. The main reason was that Cesare’s wife had passed away. But even though Cesare Talamona came back to the old workshop often, where he gladly made pipes for good friends and casual visitors. “As long as heart and hands still tag along” as he used to say.

I knew that the pipe I was working came from Cesare Talamona between the 1980s and the closure of the shop in 2000. While most of his pipes were made for a 9mm filter the one I am working does not have a filter tenon. The pipe is a well made briar with shiny red coat. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

Since Jeff follows the same pattern of work in his cleanup we do not include photos but rather just a simple summary. Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He cleaned the internals and externals of the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. The stem was clean and you could clearly see the damage on the top and underside. I took photos of what the pipe looked like when I brought to my worktable. The bowl and rim top cleaned up really well leaving the nicks and scratches on the crown visible. The inner edge of the bowl was rough and had some burn damage. The stem surface looked very good the tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button and on the button surface very visible.     I took a photo of the stamping on the left and underside of the shank. It read as noted above.   I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. It is a well shaped tall Brandy shape that looks elegant.Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. To minimize many of the nicks and scratches on the sides, bottom and top of the bowl I steamed them out. I heat a butter knife on our gas range and use a damp cloth to cover the nicks around the bowl. I heat the knife until it hot and then place it over the cloth. I creates steam which lifts many of the scratches in the briar. I was able to remove many of them. The few that remain are a part of this pipe’s journey. I cleaned up the inside edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give it a slight bevel and bring it back to round and remove the burn marks.The third photo below show the stemed dents and the repaired edge of the bowl. 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.  It helped to blend the stain into the rest of the bowl.  The final buffing would bring the pipe alive.  I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the tooth marks on the topside and the underside of the stem with black super glue. I also rebuilt the button surface on both sides.  Once the repairs cured I used a needle file to flatten the repairs and recut the button. I used 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repairs further and blend them into the stem surface. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.    I polished the acrylic 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 classic Italian Made Talamona Romana Cherry Red Billiard with a black acrylic stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. I was able to remove and minimize the scratches around the bowl and rim. I gave a bevel to the inside edge of the bowl to remove the burn damage and out of round bowl. The rich red finish came alive with the polishing and waxing. The grain really popped. 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 Talamona Romana Billiard is a beauty and fits nicely in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 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!

Converting a Damaged Metal Filter Tenon to a Delrin Push Tenon on a Medico Conqueror


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is the second one that came to me from a reader of the blog in Eastern Canada. This is the pipe that he originally contacted me about repairing. It was his first pipe and it had been well loved and well smoked. Over time the metal Medico tenon had become misshapen and had damaged the inside of the mortise. This Medico shape is one I have not seen before and I am unfamiliar with the Conqueror line. The grain is quite nice. The finish has some worn spots on the sides and bottom of the bowl. The varnish is worn off in several spots and on the beveled edges of the rim. The bowl had a light cake lining the walls and the rim top had some lava on the top and wear on the edges. The stem was very loose in the shank and literally wobbled when in place. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Medico [over] Conqueror [over] Select Briar. The stamping is clear and readable on the pipe. The stem looked good and there was a Softee Bit on the stem end. Under the Softee Bit there were light tooth marks and chatter on the stem near the button on both sides and some on the surface of the button as well. I took photos of the pipe before I worked on it.  I took photos of the rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava on the rim top. It appears that there may be some damage on the inner edge of the bowl. There was some wear on the sides of the bowl that would need to be worked on. The stem was in relatively good condition with light tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button underneath the Softee Bit. I am not sure what the stem is made of as it does not appear to be vulcanite.The stamping on the left side of the shank read as noted above. The photo shows that it is quite readable. 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 is a great looking pipe. I turned first to Pipephil’s site as it is always a quick source of information on this line of the Medico Brand (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-medico.html). I looked for the Medico Conqueror Select Briar pipe. The line was listed on Pipephil and I have included a screen capture of the section.I then turned to Pipedia to do a bit more digging on the history of the brand and to see if there was any information on the line (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Medico). I quote in part below:

Medico was created in 1933, and is still produced by S.M. Frank. The brand is famous for its pipe filters, which were launched in the same year. Since 1966, some models have been made in Brylon, a synthetic material, and others in briar. The brand was also sold by the English company Cadogan and Oppenheimer Pipe

When you trace the Medico tobacco pipes history, you have to trace it back to the origins of the company that created it. The company that originated the Medico brand is the S.M. Frank & Co. This company dates back to the year 1900. In that year, a man named Sam Frank began selling pipes and related tobacco products. Eventually, the company began making its own line of pipes. With the help of an experienced pipe manufacturer, Ferdinand Feuerbach, the company produced the popular Royal DeMuth and Hesson Guard Milano tobacco pipes. The company continued to grow well into the early part of the 1930s.

By the early 1930s, there were some concerns about the tars and nicotine found in tobacco smoke. In order to mellow out the flavor of hot tobacco smoke as well as to capture the tars and nicotine, the S.M. Frank & Co. introduced the Medico pipe filter. This is an absorbent paper filter that many people still use to this day. In order to accommodate the new filter, the company developed an accompanying brand of pipes known as Medico. That line of pipes continues in production today.

The company ended up buying some of their main competition in 1955. That year the Kaywoodie brands came under the S.M. Frank Company. The Medico brand continued production through this transition without many changes. The next big change for the brand came in the late 1960s. In 1966, the company developed a synthetic material that combined the traditional briar wood with resins. It is known as Brylon. At that time, all Medico pipes were made from imported briar wood. In order to keep production costs down, the company began offering some lines with Brylon. Today, that is still true.

Today, the Medico brand of pipes is still a top selling one for the S.M Frank & Co. This line of pipes comes in thirteen different finishes with five made of briar wood and the rest from Brylon. All come with the push bit with a filter inside. The filter is easily changed out when the smoker desires. In the briar wood finishes, this line includes the Silver Crest, Premier, Bold Rebel, Kensington, and Windsor. In the Brylon, the line includes the Lancer, Apollo, Standard, Varsity, Conqueror, Medalist, Cavalier, and V.F.Q. As far as price, the briar wood pipes tend to be higher in cost that the Brylon ones.

Now it was time to work on the pipe. I was excited to remove the chipped and nicked varnish coat on the bowl and see what was underneath the overly shiny varnish coat. Sometimes this is a good thing and sometime a bit of a surprise in the unveiling of fills. I lightly sanded the bowl with a 1500 grit micromesh pad to break up the varnish topcoat. Once I had done that I wiped the bowl down with acetone and was able to remove the entire coat. The finish looked pretty good – spotty and a few small fills but overall it was going to clean up very well.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads to remove the remaining varnish and shiny coat on the bowl. I wet sanded it with 1500-12000 grit micromesh pads and wiped it down with a damp cloth after each pad. The grain really began to show. This was going to be a beautiful looking pipe.  I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips. 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 grain came alive with the balm.  I am loving the look of this bowl, the grain, the shape everything looks better to me. It certainly appears to be an upgrade in the finish quality. At this point I caught myself as I looked at the bowl. I had been so intent on removing the finish and cleaning the exterior of the bowl that I had forgotten to deal with the internals. I am glad I remembered. So a little out of the normal pattern but I reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and then sanded the inside of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel.  Then I went back and cleaned the shank out with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. There was some thick tars on the walls on the walls of the shank. I scraped it with a pen knife before cleaning it with alcohol. The walls of the shank were quite damaged from the damaged metal tenon and were roughened and uneven.With the bowl cleaned and finished all that remained was to convert the ruined metal tenon on the pipe to a Delrin push tenon. That would also take care of the unevenness and roughness of the mortise. I cut off the tenon at the metal base plate with a hacksaw.   Once I had cut off the tenon and flattened the sharp edges I cleaned out the airway in the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners.The airway into the stem was already ¼ inch so it did not take much to open it a little further. I set up my cordless drill and drilled the stem end open enough to take the new threaded Delrin tenon that I had chosen for the pipe.Before I glued the new tenon in the shank I have learned that it is important to turn it down enough to properly fit in the shank. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to reduce the diameter of the new tenon to match the mortise dimensions. Once I had a snug fit I glue the new tenon in place in the stem using black super glue. Its drying time gives me a bit more wiggle room to adjust the fit to the shank and align things before the glue sets. With that done I waited for the glue to set. I took some photos of the new tenon to show the progress at this point. Still a lot of work to do but you can see the direction I am heading.    The diameter of the new tenon was perfect but it was longer than the depth of the mortise. I decided to shorten the tenon length to match the depth of the mortise. I measured the depth of the mortise and then sanded the tenon length to that depth. I polished the tenon end with a soft cloth to knock off any rough edges and took the following photos of the new stem.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter and marks near the button. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.   I polished the stem 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 Refinished and “Re-tenoned” Medico Conqueror Apple turned out to be a great looking pipe. The clean finish – sans varnish allow the grain to pop out around the bowl sides and shank and gives the pipe a more elegant look in my opinion. The finish on the pipe is now in excellent condition and the contrasting stains work well to give some contrast to the polished black fancy taper stem. The pipe is really quite eye-catching. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel, carefully avoiding the stamping on the shank. 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. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Medico Conqueror Apple 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 like the other pipes I am working that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ 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. Now that this pipe is finished I can put it and the Birkdale back in the box and send them back to the fellow in Eastern Canada. I am looking forward to hearing what he thinks of the reworking of his first pipe! Thanks for your time.

 

Breathing Life into a Birkdale Custom Sandblast Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table came to me from a reader of the blog in Eastern Canada. He contacted me about repairing his first pipe and in the meantime picked up a rack and the fellow he bought it from threw in this pipe as well. It is a very nice looking sandblast Billiard with great grain showing through the deep blast finish. The finish is quite nice with a classic English look to the pipe. The bowl had a light cake lining the walls though the rim top was clean and undamaged. The bottom of the bowl was still raw briar showing that it had not been smoked much. The exterior of the pipe was dusty but otherwise clean. The pipe is stamped on the underside of the shank and reads Birkdale [over] Custom. That was followed by rugby ball shape Made in England COM stamp that is normal on Comoy’s Made pipes. The stamping is clear and readable on the pipe. The stem was dirty, calcified and lightly oxidized. There were light tooth marks and chatter on the stem near the button on both sides and some on the surface of the button as well. There was a hole in the left side of the taper stem where a spot/dot had originally been found. I took photos of the pipe before I worked on it.  I took photos of the rim top to show the light cake in the bowl and the relatively clean rim top. There was some wear on the finish on the shank end that would need to be worked on. The stem was in relatively good condition with light tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. The oxidation was minimal as it is very high quality vulcanite.  The stamping on the underside of the shank read as noted above. The photo shows that they are quite readable.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 is a great looking pipe. You can also see the missing dot on the left side.I turned first to Pipephil’s site as it is always a quick source of information on any brand (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-comoy.html). I looked for the Birkdale brand and could not find anything. On a hunch about the COM stamp I turned to the section on Comoy’s as noted in the link above. In that section I found what I was looking for. I quote:

Made in London (in oval) England. Note the rugby ball shape of the “Made in London” stamping which is usually in a circle from 1950.

That helped me know that the maker of this pipe was probably Comoy’s and the Made in London Rugby shaped stamp made me assume that the pipe was made prior to 1950.

I turned to a previous blog that I wrote https://rebornpipes.com/2013/10/12/refurbed-birkdale-canadian-made-in-london-england-shape-296/

I have not heard of the Birkdale brand so I Googled it on the net to see what I could find out about it. There was not much there in terms of solid information. There were numerous posts on various forums requesting information. The information on the brand showed some confusion. From Pipedia Birkdale is a brand of the German pipe company named Wolsdorff. In turn Pipephil pegs Wolsdorff as a chain of tobacconists that had their pipes made by different German companies like Design Berlin and Oldenkott. However, the one I found has the made in London England stamping that removes the German connection. Something about the shape and shape number made me do a search in the Comoy’s shape and number charts available online. I found that the 296 shape for Comoy’s is an oval shanked Canadian, exactly like this one. Thus it appears that the pipe was made by Comoy’s. I am wondering if the Birkdale (which is a region in England) is not one of a line of English regionally named pipes made by Comoy’s.

Thus the Birkdale that I worked on and restored in 2013 also lead me to conclude that that earlier pipe was made by Comoy’s in much the same manner I have concluded with this one. The difference is that this one does not have a shape number. If you are reading this and can shed some light on the brand please leave a message in the comments.

Now it was time to work on the pipe. I started my work on it by reaming the bowl. I reamed it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and then sanded the inside of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. I cleaned the shank out with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. There was some thick tars on the walls on the walls of the shank. I scraped it with a pen knife before cleaning it with alcohol. I touched up the stain on the pipe to match the previous colours – I used a Walnut and a Mahogany Stain Pen to blend the colours. The finished bowl looked very good. I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips. 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 grain came alive with the balm.   I decided to address the missing dot on the left side of the stem first. I used a piece of acrylic knitting needle to make the  dot. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to strip down the excess material on the needle end. I used a file to take off the last bit of material so that the peg fit in the hole. I clipped off the piece from the needle with a pair of pliers.I put a drop of clear superglue in the hole and pressed the peg into the hole. Once the glue set I used the Dremel and sanding drum to take down the excess material to the approximate height of the stem. I sanded the rest of the excess off with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surface of the stem.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to further blend dot into the stem surface and remove the tooth chatter and marks near the button. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I polished the stem 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 Birkdale Custom Sandblast Billiard is a great looking pipe. The sandblast finish and contrasting black and oxblood stains around the bowl sides and shank make the grain just pop. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and the contrasting stains work well to give some contrast to the polished black vulcanite taper stem. The light blue/ivory coloured dot on left side of the stem worked very well and looked very good. The pipe is really quite eye-catching. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel, carefully avoiding the stamping on the shank. 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. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Birkdale Custom Billiard 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 like the other pipes I am working that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another interesting pipe. This Birkdale is almost certainly made by Comoy’s and will be heading back to the fellow in Eastern Canada once I finish his other pipe. I am looking forward to what he thinks of this beauty. Thanks for your time.