Daily Archives: November 5, 2020

Repairing a broken shank on a Savinelli Liquirizia 920KS Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

On Tuesday this week I received the following email from a fellow here in Vancouver regarding repairing a couple of pipes for him. He wrote as follows:

Hi Steve… You were recommended to me by our good friends at City Cigar (Vancouver).  I have 2 pipes I’d love to have rescued – if possible!  Please let me know if you could be of service.  I’ve attached a few photos.

One is a Peterson 2018 Pipe of the Year, Smooth Fishtail.  Pipe is great – except there is an unsolvable (for myself) blockage in the stem.  I think the filter is damaged.

The other is an unfortunate Savinelli; the actual wood is broken, right at the connection between pipe body and stem.

Let me know your thoughts!  I’d love to regain these to a workable state if possible; they are lovely pipes.

Thanks kindly and best regards, Zak

He included pictures of both pipe for me. I decided to tackle the Savinelli first. Here are the photos that Zak included with his email. As you can see the shank is snapped with a clean break about ½ inch up the shank. Zak fortunately had the pieces of the broken pipe and delivered them to me. The break had not damaged the stamping on the pipe. It read on the left side Savinelli [over] Liquirizia. On the right side it had the Savinelli Shield S logo followed by the shape number 920KS [over] Italy. On the underside of the shank it is stamped Hand Made. The pipe had a beautiful acrylic stem with a white band on the end. The tenon was Delrin and had been drilled out for a Savinelli 6mm filter or a Balsa filter. The bowl had a moderate cake and some lava on the rim top. The stem and shank had tar and oils. I cleaned out the shank and the areas of the break and glued the broken piece back in place on the shank using clear CA (super glue). The photos below show the glued shank piece.  When I repair this kind of break in a shank gluing and clamping it is not sufficient to hold. As the stem is put back in place the break will happen again due to the pressure from the tenon on the walls. I have learned that a simple band will bind it together and add strength. I have some brass bands that I picked up online that are quite thin but have and end cap that works really well to bind it all together and strengthen the joint. I went through the bag of bands I have and found the one that fit the best.I sanded the repaired area smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the repair into the surface of the briar. Once the repair was smooth heated the band with a lighter and pressed it onto the shank end against my topping board to press it in place. The band added stability to the repair.I filled in a few spots with clear CA glue and resanded them with 220 grit sandpaper. Once the repairs cured I wiped the bowl down with acetone to remove the spotty varnish coat that was on the rest of the bowl. I touched up the repaired areas with a Cherry stain pen to blend it in and prepare it for a further stain coat a little later.I reamed out the uneven cake in the bowl with a PipNet reamer and cut it back to bare briar so I could inspect the interior walls. I cleaned up the remnants of the cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. The walls of the bowl looked very good with no heat damage or fissures.I put a cork in the bowl and stained it with a dark brown stain. I flamed the stain to set in the briar and then repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage on the bowl. It did a great job blending the repaired area into the briar.   I set the bowl aside so the stain coat would cure overnight. Here is what it looked like in the morning when I brought it to the table.   I wiped the bowl down with isopropyl alcohol to make the finish more transparent. I began to see the grain stand out.  I continued to wipe it down until I had the variation in colour I was looking for. The grain really stood out now and the brass band was a great contrast.   I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the bowl down between each pad with a damp cloth. The contrasting colours really came alive.  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 Balm did its magic and the grain stood out.    I polished the acrylic stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. The photo below shows the polished stem.  This nicely grained Savinelli Liquirizia 920KS Bent Dublin with a thin brass repair band and a swirled acrylic stem is a great looking pipe. The briar around the bowl is clean and really came alive. The rich brown stains gave the grain a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. The grain really popped. The brass band binds the cracked shank repair and gives it a bit of bling. I put the acrylic 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. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Savinelli Liquirizia Bent Dublin is a beauty and feels great in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inch, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 44grams/1.55oz. The pipe will be going back to Zak as soon as finish the second one. He will soon, so he can enjoy it again. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

Breathing Life into a GBD Tahiti Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next interesting looking large Billiard was picked up 2018 from a fellow in Pocatello, Idaho, USA. It was a bit of an oddity for me in that it is a GBD pipe with a very different rustication on the bowl and shank than even the alligator finish I have seen. The finish was dirty but otherwise in good condition on the bowl and shank. There was a repair band on the shank that generally signals a repair on a cracked shank. The pipe is stamped on a smooth panel on the underside of the shank and reads GBD in the oval logo [over] TAHITI. I wonder if the shape number is not under the repair band. The line does not show up on any of the GBD materials that I have accessed. There was a thick cake in the shank and thick overflow of lava on the rim top that obscured potential damage on either. The stem was an original tapered vulcanite with the GBD Brass roundel on the left side. It was oxidized, calcified and had light tooth marks and chatter on both sides. There was also a gouge on both the top and underside of the stem mid-stem. It had a lot of potential. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took a photo of the rim top to show condition of the bowl. It is hard to tell what the inner edge of the bowl looks like under the lava coat. It is a very dirty pipe. He also captured the condition of the stem. It is oxidized, calcified and has tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside of the stem near the button. He took a photo of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the rustication pattern around the bowl and the condition of the pipe. You can see the repair in the photo below next to the shank. I have used a red arrow to highlight the repaired area under the band.The pipe is stamped GBD in an oval followed by TAHITI on the underside of the shank there is no London England stamp and no shape number. I looked on Pipedia and Pipephil’s site for information on the Tahiti line and came up empty handed. There was no information on the line. I did a Google search on the brand and came upon a link on smokingpipes.com to a very similar looking pipe and a description (https://www.smokingpipes.com/pipes/estate/england/moreinfo.cfm?product_id=35108). On the site Bear Graves writes this description of the pipe:

One thing I love about the older GBD pipes is that they were never timid when it came to staying within shape charts, and they would often play with different carved finishes. “Tahiti” is a wonderfully appropriate name for this pipe. I can almost hear the ocean now.–Bear Graves

It was time to work on the pipe. As usual Jeff had done a thorough cleanup on the pipe. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. One of the benefits of this scrub is that it also tends to lift some of the scratches and nicks in the surface of the briar. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He cleaned the internals and externals of the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water and cleaned out the airway in the stem with alcohol. I took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the darkening and damage to the rim top and edges of the bowl. There appeared to be some burn damage on the surface and inner edge of the rim. I took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show cut marks on the top and underside of the stem.The stamping on the underside of the shank was readable. It read as noted above.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe.I started my work on the rim top by cleaning the top and edges with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage on the top of the rim. The rim had a very nice inward bevel that when cleaned up was attractive. The grain on the top of the rim was very nice. I started the polishing process with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. Note the rim top and you can see the change to the look of the bevel that I worked on above.   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 ten minutes and then buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The grain came alive and the finish looked rich. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the damaged areas with clear super glue. Once the repairs cured I sanded them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface. I started polishing them with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  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 the stem. The photos below show the polished stem.  I am pretty happy with the restoration of this GBD New Tahiti Billiard. The rim top looks far better and the finish is now and reveals the grain really well. There is a matte finish to the bowl that is rugged and rich looking. The stem is clean and smooth with no remaining damages. 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 multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax 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 large GBD Billiard 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: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe was 49g/1.73oz. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!