Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table came to us from a fellow from Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. It has been sitting here for just over 2 years. Jeff took photos more than a year ago. Now I am finally getting a chance to work on it. The pipe is a classic Prince-shaped sandblasted pipe. The pipe was an absolute mess which probably accounted for how we ended up purchasing it for a fair price. On the underside of the heel and shank it is stamped with the BBB Diamond Logo [over] Own Make. To the right side of that it is stamped Thorneycroft followed by Made in England with a large E framing that part of the stamp. The stain is a mix of blacks and browns that makes the sandblast stand out even with the grime. The finish was very dirty with dust and debris in the grooves of the blast. There was a thick cake in the bowl and a thick overflow of lava onto the rim top and edges. It was hard to know at this point the condition of the rim edges. The shank was so dirty that the stem did not seat properly against the shank end. The stem was oxidized, calcified and there were deep tooth marks and chatter on both sides just ahead of the button and on the button surface itself. The stem had the brass BBB Diamond inlaid into the topside of the taper. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started working on it. I include those below. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the condition of both. It was thick and hard cake with an unbelievably thick lava overflow on the rim top and edges. Hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. He took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the scratching, oxidation and tooth marks on the stem surface and button. The tooth marks are quite deep on both sides of the stem. Jeff took a photo of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish – the grime and grit all over the sides and bottom of the bowl. The finish so dirty it is hard to see the grain but it is present nonetheless. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the top and right side of the shank. It is very clear and readable as noted above. The stem had the BBB Brass logo on the top side. One the underside it is stamped with the number 130 which is the shape number.I did a search on Pipephil’s site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-bbb.html) and looked for the specific Thorneycroft line. The second pipe in the list is stamped the same way as the one that I am working on and the stamping on the stem is the same. The Made in England stamp is identical to the second one.This pipe was a bit of a mess like many of the pipes we work on. I was curious to see what it would look like when I unpacked it. I was surprised at how good it looked. Jeff reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals of the shank and stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish on the bowl looked really good when I got it. The rim top looked very good. The inner edge showed no damage and outer edges looked good. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer bath to remove the oxidation. The stem looked better other than the tooth marks and chatter in the surface. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked much better than when he found it. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I took photos of the condition of the rim top and stem before I started working. The rim top looks better than before and the damage is very obvious to the rim top and the inner edge. The bowl is spotless. The stem has some deep tooth marks on both sides and the button itself. I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above. I took the bowl and stem apart and took a photo of the pipe to show the look of the pipe. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl, rim top and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain and the separate finishes really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The bowl really looks good at this point. I set it aside and worked on the stem. I set aside the bowl and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the surface of the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift them as much as possible. I filled in the remaining tooth dents and marks with Black Super Glue and set it aside for the repairs to cure. Once they cured I flattened them with a file. I cleaned up the repaired areas with 220 sandpaper to blend the repairs into the surface of the stem. I started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. Once again I am the part of the restoration that I always look forward to – the moment when all the pieces are put back together. I put the pipe back together and lightly buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond. I buffed the stem with a heavier touch with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the smooth finish and the black vulcanite stem. This richly stained BBB Own Make Thorneycroft 130 Prince must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it. Have a look at it in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 31grams/1.09oz. This is one that will go on the British Pipemakers section of the rebornpipes online store shortly. 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 generation.