Breathing Life into an Italian Made Smooth Finish Bullmoose


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table came to us from a group of pipes that Jeff picked up in an online auction in Brookfield, Wisconsin, USA. It is a chunky Bullmoose with a saddle stem. The stamping is clear and readable on the shank/stem junction and reads Made in Italy. The filthy oils and grimes are ground into the finish of the bowl. The thick grime makes the grain almost invisible but from what I can see there is some amazing grain that the Bullmoose shape follows well. There was a thick cake in the bowl and a heavy overflow of lava on the rim top. The vulcanite saddle stem was oxidized, calcified and had light tooth marks and chatter ahead of the button.  Jeff took photos of the pipe to show what it looked like before he started working on it. He took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the thickness of the cake and the lava overflow. The photos of the stem show the light oxidation and tooth marks and chatter on the surface on both sides.    The photos of the sides and heel of the bowl show the grain around the pipe. It is a beauty under the grime and dust.     The stamping on the underside of the shank is shown in the photo below. It is very readable. It reads as noted and explained above.   I turned to work on the pipe itself. Jeff had carried out his usual thorough cleanup of the pipe. He had reamed it with a PipNet reamer to remove the cake and cleaned the reaming up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the internals of the bowl and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the externals with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed the bowl off with running water. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and once it had soaked rinsed it off with warm water to remove the residual solution. He dried it off and rubbed it down to remove any oxidation that was still on the stem. The pipe looked very clean when I received it.  I took a photo of the rim top to show the condition. You can see the damage on the inner edge on the left front. It is roughened and chipped and out of round. The saddle stem came out looking quite good. There are light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. You can also see the only stamping on the pipe in the third photo below at the shank/stem junction it reads Made in Italy. I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe parts to show what I was working with. It is a nice looking pipe.I decided to start the restoration on this one by dealing with a crack in the shank. I have drawn a box around it in the photo below. It goes from the shank end into the shank about ½ of an inch. It is a hairline crack. I painted the shank end with some all-purpose glue and pressed a thin brass band on the shank end. I wiped the shank end down afterward with a damp cloth to remove the glue that squeezed out.I wiped down the shank with a damp cloth and dried it off. I put the stem on the shank and took photos of the pipe as it looked with the new bling.    I removed the stem from the shank and worked on the damage to the rim top. I worked the inner edge over with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give the rim edge a slight bevel. I then topped the bowl on a 220 grit sandpaper topping board. I smoothed out the top with some more 220 grit sandpaper.    I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads. I dry sanded the bowl with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. The briar really took on a shine by the final pads.  With the repair completed I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to work it into the twin lines around the bullcap. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 15 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The briar really comes alive with the balm.      I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. The stem was rough and pitted so I sanded it smooth with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.    Before polishing the stem further I decided to give a slight bend to match the flow of the curve in the pipe. I heated it with a heat gun until it was pliable (I put a pipe cleaner in the airway to make sure it did not collapse).  I bent the stem the angle I wanted and set it by cooling it with running water while holding the shape. I took a photo of the new look of the stem.   I polished the vulcanite by wet sanding 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 Italian Made Smooth Finish Bullmoose is a beautiful pipe with a smooth finish. It is a bit of a mystery in that there is no other stamping on the pipe. It is a great looking pipe that came out looking very good. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition. The rich medium brown stain on the bowl works well to highlight the grain. The brass band is a nice touch of bling that separates the briar from the stem. The polished black vulcanite saddle stem adds to the mix. With the dust gone from the finish and the bowl it was a beauty and is eye-catching. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel being careful to not buff the stamping. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Italian Made Bullmoose is quite nice and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that like the other pipes I am working that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 58 grams/2.05oz. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. 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.

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