Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table came to us from Cornwall, Pennsylvania, USA. It is a nice looking Straight Grain billiard with a taper stem. The bowl has a rich reddish brown colour combination that highlights grain. The pipe has some grime ground into the surface of the briar. This pipe is stamped on the sides of the shank. On the left it reads Parker [over] of London. On the right it read Straight Grain. There is no shape number on the shank at all. The taper stem has a Parker “P” in a Diamond logo on the top side. There is a moderate cake in the bowl and some overflow of lava on the edges of the rim top. The rim top looks good but there is a burn mark on the left front inner edge of the bowl that leaves the bowl out of round. There were some tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the vulcanite stem near the button. The pipe looks to be in good 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 lava coat. The inner edge of the bowl looks good other than the burn mark on the left front. The top and outer edge also look okay. It is an incredibly dirty pipe but obviously one that was a great smoker. He also captured the condition of the stem. It is oxidized, calcified and has tooth marks and chatter 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 beautiful grain around the bowl and the condition of the pipe. You can see the grime ground into the surface of the briar. He took a photo of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above. I turned first to Pipephil’s site to look at the Parker write up there and see if I could learn anything about the line (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-parker.html). There was a Parker of London pipe listed and the stamping matched the one that I am working on but there was no information on the Straight Grain.
I looked up the Parker brand on Pipedia to see if I could find the Parker of London Straight Grain (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Parker). There was nothing that tied directly to the line I am working on. There is a decent history of the brand there that is a good read.
It was time to work on the pipe. As usual Jeff had done a 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. One of the benefits of this scrub is that it also tends to lift some of the scratches and nicks in the surface of the briar. 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. Other than the damaged rim top the pipe looked good. I took a photo of the rim top and stem to show the condition. The rim top looked very good. The rim top and the inner edge of the bowl had a burn mark on the left front of the bowl. The vulcanite taper stem had light tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button and on the button edges. The stamping on the top and sides of the shank is clear and readable as noted above. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. It is a nice Straight Grain Billiard that should clean up very well. I filled in the burned area with a drop of clear super glue and briar dust. I reshaped the bowl edges with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give the rim a slight bevel. The repaired area was dark but it was no longer a large burned area.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped down the bowl after each sanding pad. 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 Balm did its magic and the grain stood out. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the tooth marks on the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter and was able to lift them all enough that I would be able to sand them out. I sanded out the tooth marks on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing process with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I used PaperMate Liquid Paper to fill in the Diamond P stamp on the top side of the taper stem. I let it dry the scraped off the excess with my fingernail. I polished the vulcanite 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. The photo below shows the polished stem. This nicely grained Parker of London Straight Grain Billiard with a vulcanite taper stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The briar around the bowl is clean and really came alive. The rich brown stains gave the grain a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. The grain really popped. I put the vulcanite 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. 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 Parker Straight Grain Billiard is a beauty and feels great in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 ¼ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!