Blog by Steve Laug
A few years ago Jeff picked up a Lenox from EBay that had a plastic wood finished barrel and a wooden bowl. It was an interesting looking piece. I restored it and have it in my collection of unusual pipes. When he saw this one he was drawn to it because it was all wood. The barrel and bowl were both wood. The internals were the same as the previous pipe. He picked it up because of it being all wood. He can’t remember where it came from but he remembers finding it. It is now on the work table after sitting here for almost a year. The pipe was dust and dirty. There was a thick cake in the bowl and a lava overflow on to the rim top. There appeared to be burn damage on the back inner edge and rim top that would need to be dealt with. The wooden barrel was dirty and dusty but otherwise in good condition. The bowl screwed onto the barrel and seemed to align well. The barrel is stamped Lenox on the left side of the barrel near the stem. The wood of the barrel and that of the bowl were stained to match each other well. The stem was inserted in the end of the barrel and was in good condition. There was some light oxidation and tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. Jeff took the following photos of the pipe before he sent it to me. It looks a lot like a wooden version of a Kirsten — at least externally. Jeff took some photos of the rim top and bowl to give an idea of the extent of the cake and the damage to the inner edge of the bowl at the rear of the pipe. You can see the damage and the lava coat on the top. The stem photos show the light oxidation and tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. He took photos of the sides of the barrel and the bowl. The grain on this wooden barrel and bowl is quite unique. It is obviously not briar but I am not sure what the wood is. He removed the bowl from the barrel and took a photo. His photo shows the threads in the bowl and the metal threaded extension on the top of the barrel. I turned to the blog I had written on the previous Lenox pipe and read what I had found out when I worked on that pipe (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/10/30/a-bit-of-the-bizarre-and-interesting-restoring-a-lenox-system-pipe/). I include that information below.
I was not familiar with the Lenox brand so I did some research to see what I could find out. There was not much information on the brand online until I turned to one of my favourite sites for information on odd and unusual metal pipes – smokingmetal.com
I found the brand listed in three variations. The first of them was a Lenox made of Lucite (ed. By Lucite I assume that barrel is actually made of Perspex so in the information below I have edited it to read that). The link for the brand is: http://smokingmetal.co.uk/pipe.php?page=82. The site has this to say about the Perspex version of the pipe. I quote: “Hard to see the purpose of this one. There would be no significant extra cooling and there is no end plug to remove for ease of cleaning. It is stamped LENOX in the perspex top of barrel. (ed. I have included two photos from the site on the Lucite version of the pipe.) Centre image shows two colour versions. The dark version does not appear to be the result of discolouration by tar etc. These pipes were certainly on sale in 1951. The overall length 5 5/8 inch (143 /m).The site also had photos of the Lenox with a wooden barrel and wooden bowl. The metal barrel is stamped LENOX on the top of the barrel and a threaded bowl was screwed onto the top. The bowl had a brass insert in the bottom and it threads onto the nipple on the barrel. The following link has photos of the pipe: http://smokingmetal.co.uk/pipe.php?page=150.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 barrel 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. I took photos of the bowl and rim top after the cleanup. You can see the extent of the damage on the backside of the edge and rim top. The bowl is very clean. The stem looks very good. The light chatter and marks will easily come off.I took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It reads as noted above.I unscrewed the bowl from the barrel and took the stem out of the end. The next three photos below show the “exploded” view of the pipe. The rim darkening in the first photo needed to be cleaned up. I decided to start my work on the pipe by addressing the damage to the rim top and inner edge. The damage was quite extensive so I started by topping the bowl on a piece of 220 grit sandpaper. Once I had removed some of the damage I rebuilt that portion of the top and edge with the dust from the sanding and super glue. I cleaned up the inner edge with a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repair and then retopped the bowl to remove the buildup from the repair. Once I finished it was better. The bowl was back in round and the darkening was minimized on the top. I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each set of sanding pads. I stained the bowl and the barrel with an Oak Stain pen to blend in the repairs with the rest of the bowl. The Oak stain highlighted the grain and tied the parts together. I put the pipe together and took photos of it at this point in the process. 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 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Balm did its magic and the grain stood out. I pulled the pressure fit stinger out of the tenon and ran a pipe cleaner through the stem. It came out very clean – yet another testimony to the great job my brother does in his clean up. I put it back in the tenon and took two close-up photos of the stem to show the really clean condition the stem was in. All that needed to happen was to polish it.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each set of three pads. I polished the stem with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I rubbed it down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and hand buffed it. The wood is clean and really came alive. The rich reddish brown coloured stain gave the grain a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. I put the pipe back together and buffed it on the buffing wheel with Blue Diamond polish to bring a shine to the surface. I gave the bowl, barrel and the stem several coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the bowl, barrel and stem with a clean buffing pad to polish the wax coats. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finish unique pipe is shown in the photos below. The bowl and barrel and the bowl match very well and look like they may well have come from the same piece of wood. The finished Lenox System Pipe has its own 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: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 34grams/1.20oz. I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store in the US Pipe Makers section if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!