Cleaning up a Shalom Israel Pencil Shank Bing Crosby


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I have chosen is a pencil shank Bing Crosby like Billiard that was very dirty and worn. There was grime ground into the finish around the bowl sides and rim top. The medium brown stain was pretty but the grime obscured real look of the grain. This one also came to me in a box of parts that were part of an estate I purchased here in Vancouver. It was stamped on the sides of the shank. The stamping was very readable. It read Shalom in script on the left side mid shank. On the right side it is stamped Briar Israel in a rugby ball shaped COM stamp. The finish had a coat of varnish over the bowl that was thick and shiny. It was peeling on the rim top and heel of the bowl as well in some spots on the front of the bowl. There were a few small fills and pits in the briar but none were obnoxious. There was a moderate cake in the bowl and an overflow of lava on the rim top. The stem had light tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside on and near the button. I took photos of the pipe before I started my cleanup work. They tell the story and give a glimpse of the promise that I see in this pipe.  I took photos of the rim top and stem to show the condition of the bowl and stem. The interior the bowl had a moderate cake that overflowed like lava onto the rim top. The stem has light tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button.     I took photos of the sides of the shank to show the stamping. The stamping is very readable in the photos below and is as noted above.       I took the stem off the shank and took a photo. The stem has a long spiral stinger apparatus that is pressure fit into the tenon. It really constricts the air flow so I will leave it out once restored and if someone wants it they can reinsert it.I am including the information from Pipedia’s article on Shalom Pipe Factory pipes. It is a great read in terms of the history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Shalom_Pipe_Factory). I have included a bit of the pertinent history here.

Not much is known about Israel’s sole pipe factory though it’s reported to have operated quite successfully on international markets.

Beside the brand “Shalom” the mainstay brand was Alpha – especially well known in the USA. Alpha was popular for a range of fresh and unusual shapes. Series (afaik): Caprice (s), Citation (s), Classic (b), Pedestal (s), Regent, Region (b), Rex (s). (1)

Alpha also produced at least one of its Citation forms for Carey’s “Magic Inch” series.

Mentioned in context with Shalom Pipe Factory was a Danish pipemaker named ‘Muki Liebermann’, who later lived and worked in the USA. Muki is known for his unique briar bending technique and his original shapes that gave inspiration to many of the most praised Danish pipemakers.

Shalom was taken over by Robert L. Marx of New York City, later Sparta, NC, then of Mastercraft. Mastercraft continued the Alpha pipes introducing new lines.

The article also included a flyer page on the brand that gave some more helpful information (https://pipedia.org/wiki/File:ShalomAlpha.jpg). The page came courtesy of Doug Valitchka.Now it was time to work on the pipe. I reamed the moderate cake back with a PipNet pipe reamer using the smallest cutting head on this petite pipe. The cake was thick and crumbly and came out easily. I followed that by cleaning up the remnants of cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and finished by sanding the chamber walls with a piece of dowel wrapped with 220 grit sandpaper. I scraped the lava off the rim top with the Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. Along with the lava some of the varnish on the rim top came off as well. I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to clean up the grime in the finish. I rinsed off the debris and the soap with running water and dried the pipe off with a soft towel. I wiped the varnish coat off the bowl with acetone to remove the peeling spots and to have a look at what was underneath the shiny polish. It came off easily. There were a few small fill that showed up but also some amazing grain came up. With the exterior clean it was time to deal with the interior. I scrubbed out the shank and the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pads with a damp cloth.   I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar 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 photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. With that done the bowl was finished other than a final buffing. I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I used a lighter to heat up the gunk holding the stinger in the tenon. I wiggled it out of place with a pair of pliers.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine.   I am excited to finish this pencil shank Shalom Pipe Factory Israel Briar Bing Crosby. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and followed that with a quick hand buff with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like grain popping through on the bowl sides and rim top. Added to that the polished black vulcanite stem is a great contrast of colour. This light weight Shalom Bing Crosby style pipe is a great looking pipe and it feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 5/8 of an inch. It is a beautiful pipe. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman. 

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