Daily Archives: September 7, 2020

Breathing Life into a Mehaffey Pipe Shop 4 Rhodesian

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 came to us in the lot of 125 + Bertram pipes. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads 4 followed by Mehaffey and on the right side it is also stamped 4. 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 right side of the rim cap, the right and left side of the bowl and on the heel toward the front that would need to be cleaned up. The stem was oxidized, calcified 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 tobacco debris as well as the overflow of lava on the rim top. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the oxidation and the chatter and tooth marks.  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 photos below.   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 Rhodesian 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 birdseye grain and on the back there is some cross grain. This is a beautifully styled and positioned Rhodesian 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 underlined 4 followed by Mehaffey. On the right side of the shank it is also stamped with an underlined 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.The biggest issues with this pipe were the large fills that were chipped and damaged around the front of the bowl and rim. On an otherwise nice looking piece of briar these pits are bothersome. I took some photos to give a good feel for the condition.Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. I picked out the damaged fills on the front of the bowl and the rim cap with a dental pick to remove putty. I cleaned them with a cotton swab and alcohol and filled them in with layers of clear super glue and briar dust. The only drawback is that the repairs cure black but that was already the case with these so no change other than smoothing them out. I sanded the repaired areas smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surrounding briar. Once I had smoothed out the repairs I used an oak stain pen to blend them in further with the surrounding briar. I think sanding with micromesh will further help that. 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 came alive and the fills while visible look better than when I began. 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 Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.  This Straight Rhodesian 4 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 on the front and the cap 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 Rhodesian 4 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. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. 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!