Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on my worktable is an interesting rusticated bent billiard. It has a rugged rusticated finish and an acrylic shank extension with a variegated golden acrylic fancy saddle stem. Jeff found it in antique mall in Houston, Texas USA. It was a filthy pipe with grime and oils ground into the rusticated finish on the bowl. The pipe had some rustic beauty shining through the dust and debris in the valleys of the rough finish. The rustication covered the rim top, bowl and shank with a smooth panel on the underside of the shank. The finish was dull and lifeless and dirty from sitting around. There was a very thick cake in the bowl with lava flowing out of the bowl and over the rim top. The lava had filled in the deeper grooves of the finish on the rim top. The inner edge of the rim was darkened but undamaged. The stamping on the underside of the shank read G. VECCHIO [over] SANTAMAURO [over] Italy. Just below the Italy stamp toward the shank extension it is stamped C3. The fancy saddle stem was variegated gold and did not have any stamping or marks. The surface was dirty and there was a groove on the topside mid stem. There was light tooth chatter and marks on both sides near the button. Jeff took the following photos before he started his cleanup work on the pipe. He took close-up photos of the bowl and rim top from various angles to capture the condition of the bowl and rim top edges. You can see the lava overflow and debris in the rustication of the rim top. You can see the cake in the bowl. This was a dirty pipe but it was the finish was in great condition. The stem is also very dirty with tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. He took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the beautiful incredibly deep rustication around the bowl. It is the same kind of rough finish that I really like on Castello Sea Rock pipes. You can see the oil, dust and debris in the finish on both sides of the bowl. Jeff took a photo of the stamping on the shank. It reads as noted above. The stamping is clear and readable.I turned to PipePhil and looked up G. Vecchio as the pipe was stamped and found nothing listed. On a hunch I looked up Guido Del Vecchio (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-g6.html). I found a listing under that name. The pipe I am working on is stamped like the first one in the photo below.I turned to the Pipedia website to see what I could find out about the G. Vecchio Brand. I found a listing for Guido del Vecchio (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Guido_del_Vecchio). He is listed in Italian Pipemakers section but there was not any further information. There was also a listing for Vittorio del Vecchio who was a pipemaker for Mastro de Paja.
Now it was time to look at it up close and personal. Jeff had done an amazing job in removing all of the cake and the lava on the rim top. He had reamed the bowl with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He took the cake back to bare briar so we could check the walls for damage. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime on the bowl and rim and was able to remove the lava and dirt. He cleaned out the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they came out clean. He cleaned the stem with Soft Scrub to remove the grime on the exterior and cleaned out the airway with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration. To show how clean the rim top and stem really was I took a close-up photo of the rim and stem. The bowl was clean and cake free. The rim top is very clean with no residual lava in the sandblast finish. The rim inner edge has some darkening and burn damage that will need to be cleaned up. The variegated brown acrylic saddle stem looks cleaned up nicely. The surface had some light tooth marks but the button edge looked really good. I took a photo of the underside of the shank to show the stamping there. It was clear and readable as noted above.I took the stem off the bowl and took a picture of the pipe to give an idea of the look of the rustication and the stem. It is going to be a pretty pipe.I started my work on the pipe by addressing the burned and darkened inner edge of the rim with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I smoothed out the edges and was able to bring the rim back to round and clean it up. The bowl looked very good so I did not need to do any further work on it. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the finish on the bowl and shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I worked it in with my fingers and with a horse hair shoe brush to get it into the nooks and crannies of the deep rustication of the finish on the bowl and shank. I let it sit for about 20 minutes to let it do its magic. I buffed it with a soft cloth. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. The bowl was finished so I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. There was a groove on the top of the stem that need to be filled in with super glue and tooth marks on the underside of the stem that were deep and needed to be filled in. Once the repairs cured I used a needle file to recut the button edge and flatten out the repaired areas. I sanded out the repairs on both sides with 200 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surface of the acrylic. I started to polish the stem surface with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. This G. Vecchio C3 Bent Billiard is a real beauty and has a lot of life left. I put the bowl and stem back together again and buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I used a soft touch on the rusticated bowl so as not to fill it in with the polishing product. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem several coats of carnauba wax. I carefully buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I finished buffing with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe looks very good. The rustication is very tactile and feels great in the hand. It is comfortable and light weight. The finished G. Vecchio Bent Billiard is shown 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: 7/8 of an inch. This great looking rusticated Vecchio turned out very well. It should be a smoking great pipe. It will be going on the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.