Post by Mike Belarde
Hello. Thank you for taking the time to read this post, and walk with me through a fun and enjoyable restoration project.
Pipe restoration has become a recent hobby for me, and I’ve been restoring estate pipes for my personal collection over the last year and a half. Most of the techniques I use, I have gleaned from the Reborn Pipes and The Pipe Steward websites. Both Steve and Dal have been a great source of info. Steve has also been very gracious, and has let me share a post on the site.
I have had this nice Dublin for several months now, and am finally getting a weekend to work on it and clean it up. I purchased it through an online auction from a seller out of Minnesota. What caught my eye with this pipe was the interesting looking grain, and the shape. I have several bent Dublins, but did not own a straight stemmed version. The fact that the pipe was a Guildhall also caught my attention. I own several Everyman Pipes, which are also Comoy’s seconds, and seem to be of good quality.
This pipe is marked with the Guildhall, and made in England stamps, and a shape number of 250.
I have provided a link to the Comoy’s article from Pipedia here, which lists Guildhall as a Comoy’s second. https://pipedia.org/wiki/Comoy%27s. Also, on the Pipedia site there is an interesting example of a Comoy’s advertisement briefly describing the Guildhall line, and I have included it below.According the Pipedia site’s shape chart reference, the shape number 250 corresponds to a straight stemmed, oval shanked, Dublin. This matches the pipe that I’m working on. When I received the pipe, it was in fairly good condition. The stummel had a light shine, but still looked slightly grimy. The rim had a light coating of carbon/lava overflow, and the chamber was lightly caked. From what I could see, the shank and draft seemed to be in good condition without a lot of tar and carbon build up. As you can see from the pictures, the pipe has some interesting cross grain and perhaps small birds’ eyes. Once the cleanup process is complete, I’m expecting that this will be a very attractive pipe, and a nice addition to my collection. The stamping on the pipe was in good condition and easily legible. The stem looked to also be in great condition. The stem was only lightly oxidized. There didn’t seem to be any tooth marks or chatter, but there was a small area of calcification around the button portion of the stem. Perhaps the prior owner had utilized softy bits? All in all, the pipe looked to be in great shape! The first step in the process is to address the internals of both the briar and stem, and then clean up the grime on the stummel, and the carbon build up on the rim. Recently, I’ve been trying to clean the shank with a shank reamer and nylon shank brush dipped in alcohol first in order to save on the amount of pipe cleaners that I have been going through. My first step is to ream the bowl and clear as much of the cake that I can. I used two head sizes on the reamer, and gently cleared out the majority of the carbon. I transitioned next to a piece of 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a small dowel to further sand out the chamber.I then turned my attention to the shank. I first run the shank reamer through the shank and gently turn it in a clockwise motion to remove any of the buildup in the airway. This particular reamer is 3.5mm in diameter. I only want to remove the build up without removing any of the actual briar. I don’t want to alter and widen the draft on this pipe. On Steve’s advice, I have also attached a similar sized drill bit to a cordless drill and have gently turned other stummels by hand to clear the airways.I run a shank brush several times through the shank and rinse it under running water, then dip the bristles about half way up the brush. I found out the hard way that if you dip the entire brush in alcohol, you can inadvertently sprits the stummel with alcohol on the backstock, potentially damaging a good stain and finish.
Once that shank brush starts to come out only lightly soiled, I move on to cleaning the shank with bristled pipe cleaners, and then soft pipe cleaners. Thankfully this pipe was fairly clean, and I only ran through a handful of cleaners on the stummel and stem.Once that step is completed, I moved on to cleaning the shank and the chamber with cotton swabs dipped in alcohol. As you can see by the swabs, the pipe cleaners still left some tar in the shank. With the internals cleaned, I scrubbed the stummel with Oil Soap and an old toothbrush. I gently sanded some of the lava build up on the rim with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper, and removed the rest of the build up with a green scouring pad. Now that everything is clean, it looks like the rim and chamber are in great shape! I decided to de-ghost and clean the stummel further. I inserted two tapered fluffy pipe cleaners through the shank and down into the chamber to act as a wick. I have found using the fluffy pipe cleaners is easier for me than trying to fish an elongated cotton ball down the shank. I then placed a cotton ball in the chamber and saturated it with isopropyl alcohol. I resaturated the cotton ball every couple of hours and then left the stummel to sit overnight.
While the stummel was de-ghosting. I placed the stem in a small Tupperware container to soak overnight in Briarville’s Oxidation Remover solution. After soaking overnight more of the tar build up was removed from the stummel. The stem also looked good. The light oxidation and calcium build up was removed, and this revealed a few light toothmarks on the underside of the stem. I decided to work on the stem first. I tried lifting some of the toothmarks with a Bic lighter. It raised the indentations some. I sanded the rest of the marks out with a small piece of 320 grit sandpaper. After the toothmarks were dealt with I began to polish the stem. I took the stem through the progression of micromesh pads. After each pad I wiped down the stem with a cotton pad soaked in Obsidian Oil. In the last step I polished the stem with Before and After’s Extra Fine Polish. The stem seemed to have come out pretty well. I moved on to the stummel. I started to polish the stummel with the micromesh pads and about halfway through the process decided that the stain looked a little worn and washed out. So, I decided to touch up the stain.
I mixed a one-to-one ratio of Cordovan Leather with alcohol to thin the leather dye down a bit. Recently I have been finding that my dye jobs have been darkening the briar too much, and hiding a lot of grain. I wanted to see how this would turnout. I like to apply the stain with a small hobby brush. I find it helps me to coat the stummel evenly. Once the stain was applied, I used a small tea candle to fire the briar and set the dye. I let the stummel sit for a couple of hours and then removed some of the excess stain with a cotton pad soaked in acetone. After removing some of the excess stain with acetone I began to polish the stummel with the micromesh pad series. I wiped the briar down with a damp paper towel between each pad.Once I was finished with the micro pads, I worked some Before and After Restoration Balm into the stummel. It is always encouraging to see the grain come to life after applying the balm! I let the balm sit for about 10 minutes and then buffed the stummel with a cotton cloth. The last step in the process, I buffed both the stummel and stem with Red Tripoli and Blue Diamond. I then gave both several coats of Carnauba wax and buffed them with a cotton cloth.