Cleaning up a Savinelli Made Antique Shell 515 Panel Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from and online auction from Ohio, USA. It is a rusticated Panel Billiard with a vulcanite saddle stem and a tight, unique rustication around the bowl. It has a brown and black finish that highlights the details of the rustication. I have worked on several Antique Shell pipes from Savinelli over the years and have always found the fit and finish very well done. This pipe is stamped on the flat underside of the heel and shank and reads Antique [over] Shell followed by the shape number 515 [over] Italy. The square, saddle vulcanite stem was oxidized, calcified and had tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem near the button. The pipe looks to be in decent condition under the grime. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup. He took photos of the rim top to show the cake and the dust in the rustication on the top. It is another dirty pipe. He also captured the tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem near the button.    He took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the rustication around the bowl and the amount of grime ground into the surface of the briar.     He took photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank and the shooting star logo on the left side of the stem. It is faint but still present. I turned Pipephil’s section on Savinelli pipes and found the Antique Shell listed there with and an example of the stamping on both the shank and the stem. The stamping matches the one that I am working on ( I turned to Pipedia and looked up the specifics of the Antique Shell line from Savinelli and read through the article. There were several pictures of the stamping but nothing on the details (

I knew that I was working on a Savinelli Made Panel that had the unique Antique Shell rustication. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

Jeff had done his usual thorough cleanup on the pipe. He 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. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water and cleaned out the airway in the stem with alcohol. The pipe looked very good.   I took a photo of the rim top and stem to show the condition. They cleaned up really well and the top of the rim looked very good. The inner edge of the bowl was in great condition. The vulcanite saddle stem had tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button and on the button edges.  I took a photo of the stamping on the 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 Panel Billiard that looks great. Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. Since it was clean and looked good I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the sandblast bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush 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 give depth to the tight rustication around the bowl.  The final buffing would bring the pipe alive. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I painted the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to raise the tooth dents in the vulcanite.     I filled in the dents with black super glue to repair them. Once the repairs had cured I recut the button and smoothed out the repairs with a needle file.  I used 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the tooth chatter and marks and blend them into the stem surface. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I scrubbed off the remaining oxidation with Soft Scrub All Purpose Cleaner. 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 beautiful tightly rusticated Savinelli Made Antique Shell 515 Panel Billiard with a vulcanite saddle stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The rich Antique Shell coloured finish came alive with the polishing and waxing. The dimensions of the rustication 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 multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Antique Shell Panel 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 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ 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!

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