New Life for a Don Style Brandy with Vulcanite Military Bit Stem


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table is a bit of a mystery pipe for Jeff and me. It does not have any stamping on the bowl heel or on the shank. The stem was seriously over bent to the point of being impossible to smoke. The pipe is a classic Brandy shaped pipe with peeling varnish around the bowl sides and rim top. There was a lot of grime ground into the finish on the briar. The bowl was moderately caked with tobacco debris in the bowl. The rim top had a light overflow of lava on the top and edges of the bowl. The inside edges looked to be in good condition. The stem was dirty and lightly oxidized. It had casting marks on both sides of the stem. 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 apple shaped bowl with a pencil style military stem 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 and the peeling varnish on the rim top. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the casting marks on the side of the stem, the light oxidation and the chatter and tooth marks.    Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar looked like. There is some great grain under the peeling varnish coat on the bowl sides. 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 and all of the peeling varnish coat. 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. There were still bits of varnish on the rim top. The stem surface looked very good with a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.    I cleaned up the rim top with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I scrubbed the bowl with alcohol and a cotton pad to remove the remaining finish on the bowl.   The bowl had been over reamed and there was a dip/pit in the bottom of the bowl that made the bottom seem quite thin. I mixed a batch of JB Weld and applied it to the dip in the bowl bottom with a folded pipe cleaner. I set it aside to allow the repair to cure.   I polished the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad.    I rubbed the bowl 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 15 minutes and buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The grain came alive.     I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. The over bent stem needed to be addressed. I took photos of the stem as it looked when I received it. I painted the vulcanite with a lighter flame to soften it. Once it was pliable I straightened it out leaving a slight bend in the to match the flow of the bowl.One the stem was straightened out I sanded out the casting marks on the sides and the tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button.  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 Don Style pipe with a Brandy Shaped Bowl is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored and the stem reshaped. The grain 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 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 Don Style Brandy 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: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 25g/.88oz. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store in the Metal and Other Types of Pipe 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!

1 thought on “New Life for a Don Style Brandy with Vulcanite Military Bit Stem

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