Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table came to us from a fellow in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. The pipe is a classic Chunky rusticated Billiard shaped pipe with an interesting rustication around the bowl and shank. The pipe is stamped on a smooth panel on the underside of the shank and reads Champion [over] Giant. On the top of the shank next to the stem it is stamped FRANCE and on the underside of the shank it is stamped next to the stem/shank junction and reads ALGERIAN BRIAR. There were three small dots in a row on the left side of the taper stem. There was a lot of grime ground into the rusticated finish on the briar. The bowl was heavily caked with tobacco debris in the bowl. The rim top had an overflow of lava on the filling in the rustication and the inner edge of the rim. The inside edges looked to be in good condition. The stem was dirty and lightly oxidized. It had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button and on the button edge. There was some light oxidation on the stem surface. It was a large, chunky pipe and 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 lava on the rim top. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the light oxidation and the chatter and tooth marks. Jeff took photos of the side and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar looked like. The rustication pattern around the bowl is unique and interesting. It is a really tight pattern. The stamping on the underside of the shank and shank ends are clear and readable and read as noted above. I turned to Pipephil (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-c8.html) to get a quick view of the Champion Brand. I had worked on several of the brand in the past but could not remember anything about the brand. Turns out it is Swiss Made and the three dots on the left side of the stem in the first picture below match the one I am working on. The issue from me is that it is stamped France on the band around shank end. That leaves me with a question mark.Armed with that information I turned to work on the pipe itself. 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 before I started my part of the restoration work. The rim top cleaned up really well. The rim top and outer edge of the bowl look very good. The inner edge has some damage on the front of the bowl. The stem surface looked very good with a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The stamping on underside of the shank is clear and readable. It is stamped as noted above.I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The wide taper stem is nice and the photo shows the inner tube in the tenon.I cleaned up the rim top with a brass bristle wire brush. I scrubbed off the top of the rim with the brush and was able to remove the tars and lava in the rustication on the rim. The bowl was in excellent condition so started by rubbing 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 and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The rustication came alive. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter and marks ahead of the button with 220 grit sandpaper. I started polishing the stem 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 polish the stem. This Champion Giant Algerian Briar French Made Rusticated Chunky Billiard is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The style of rustication that is used around the bowl is quite beautiful and works well with both the shape and the polished vulcanite taper stem. 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 Champion Chunky Billiard is another pipe that 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: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 ¼ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 83g/2.93oz. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store in the French Pipe Makers Section 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!