Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table came to us from a group of pipes that we purchased from a fellow in Los Angeles, California, USA. It is a beautiful grained Bent Bulldog pipe with a saddle vulcanite bent stem. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Butz-Choquin [over] Virginia. On the right side of the shank it reads St. Claude [over] France [over] the shape number 1027. The stain highlights the nice grain around the bowl. The finish had a lot of grime ground into it. The bowl was moderately caked and there was a light lava coat on the top and the inner edge of the rim. The edges looked to be in excellent condition. The stem was oxidized and had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There was a stamped white BC on the left side of the saddle stem. The pipe showed promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took 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 the condition of the rim top and beveled inner edges. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the oxidation, calcification and chatter and tooth marks. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. He took photos of the stamping on the shank and the stem. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable. Now it was time to work on the pipe. Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe and bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and 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 once I received it. The rim top and inner edge of the rim looked very good. The stem surface looked very good with some light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. I took a photo of the stamping on the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is a taper stem. The BC logo stamp on the stem is faded so it will need to be touched up. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth between each sanding pad. As I polished the bowl the fills around the cap and left side became visible. They were tiny but they were present. I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips. The product works 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 fills while still present blended into the surrounding briar better after the balm. I “painted” the stem surface with the flame of a lighter and was able to lift all of the tooth marks in the surface and return it to a smooth finish. This was truly a best case scenario! I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. I touched up the stamping on the stem with Paper Mate Liquid Paper. I rubbed it into the stamp with a tooth pick and then scraped it off. This Butz-Choquin Virginia 1027 Bent Bulldog with saddle vulcanite taper stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The stamped BC logo on the left side of the stem looks very good. The beautiful grain that shines through the polished finish is stunning. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad which real brings the shine out with the wax. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished BC Virginia Bulldog 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 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 39gr/1.38oz. I will be adding it to the French Pipe Makers section of the rebornpipes store 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!