Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table was purchased form an online auction in Columbia, Missouri, USA. It is an Oom Paul shape that is stamped Royal Ascot [over] Deluxe on the left side of the shank and Algerian Briar [over] France on the right side. The shape is well done but I was not familiar with the brand. Jeff and I took a risk in purchasing it based on the shape alone but it looked to be worth it. The briar was mixed grain with birdseye on the sides and cross grain on the front and back of the bowl and shank. The finish was quite dirty with grime ground into the bowl sides and bottom. There was a thick cake in the bowl and an overflow of lava on the rim top and inner edges. There appeared to be some burn damage on the top and inner edge toward the rear of the bowl but only clean up would determine that with certainty. The stem seemed to be older hard rubber and had some mild oxidation and tooth chatter and marks on both sides at the button. There was a faint Crown logo stamped on the left side of the taper. Jeff took photos of the pipe before his clean up work started. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the cake and the condition of the rim top and bowl. He included photos of the stem as well to capture what it looked like pre-cleanup. It is a very graceful looking piece. Jeff took photos of the sides of the bowl to capture some of the grain that is visible through the grime coat and what also looks like a varnish coat on the briar. The stamping on the sides of the shank was readable and read as noted above. You can also see what appears to be some varnish on the shank sides – kind of a crackly shine coat over the letters.To find out more about a brand which I was ignorant of I turned to Pipephil’s site for a quick overview (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-r6.html). The Algerian Briar stamp on the shank led me to believe I was dealing with a pipe made for the American Market. The France stamp seemed odd to me with the very British sounding brand name “Royal Ascot” so I was intrigued to find out what I could learn about it. I have included a screen capture of the section on the site on the brand. There seems to have been a link to Duncan pipes.The side bar on the site included some interesting information. I quote
Pipes with this brand were manufactured in France for Duncan (according to J.M. Lopes, op. cit. and Wilczak & Colwell, op. cit.). They were destined to US market and sold by Mastercraft.
So there was the French/British connection and the connection to the US market and Mastercraft. There seems to always be a tie to the British or French houses with these odd brands and often a link to Mastercraft!
I turned then to Pipedia to see if there was further information as there often is when I use the two sources (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Ascot). Interestingly Pipedia quotes Pipephil’s site. There is a bit of additional information and some photos on the article as well.
According to PipePhil pipes with this brand were manufactured in France for Duncan (according to J.M. Lopes, op. cit. and Wilczak & Colwell, op. cit.). They were destined to US market and sold by Mastercraft. They are made in France and many are marked Algerian Briar. The logo is a crown on the stem. Some pipes of the same name with a horseshoe logo also exist that were made in England, but may not be the same company.
Jeff had done his usual clean up on the pipe – reaming it with a PipNet reamer and cleaning up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He cleaned out the shank and the airway in the mortise and stem with isopropyl alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to break through the grime. He was able to remove most of the varnish coat at the same time. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub cleanser and cotton pads to remove the grime and light oxidation. He soaked it in Briarville’s Pipe Stem Deoxidizer. He rinsed it off and wiped the entire pipe down with a light rub of EVO to enliven both. When I received it I put it away for awhile. I am just getting to work on it now in the summer of 2021 almost a year later. Here is what I saw when I took it out of the box of pipes to work on. I took photos of the damage to the rim top and inner edges of the bowl. Fortunately it appeared to be on the surface and not to deep on the rim top. The inner edge showed more damage to the front of the bowl. The stem was clean but was pitted and had tooth marks on both sides ahead of and on the surface of the button.The stamping looked very good. It was clean and readable. The faint logo on the stem is visible with a lens but otherwise it is gone. It is a crown like the one shown in the photos from PipePhil.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the parts to give a sense of the proportion of this Royal Ascot Oom Paul.I decided to start my work on the pipe by scrubbing it down with acetone on cotton pads to remove the remnants of the varnish coat. It was surprising how much came off and how much better the bowl looked once it was finished. I decided to deal with the inner edge of the rim and the rim top damage next. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the slight bevel on the inner edge and remove the burn damage. I sanded the top as well and was able to make it look much better.There were a couple of rough spots – one on the right side at the shank/bowl junction and one on the heel – where the fills had shrunk. I filled them both in with clear super glue. When the repairs cured I sanded the smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surrounding briar. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads to further blend in the repairs and the sanded rim top. I dry sanded with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the briar down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the debris. I paused the polishing to touch up the repaired areas and rim top with an Oak Stain Pen. The colour was the closest match to the rest of the bowl so once it was polished and buffed it would blend in well.I resumed the polishing with 6000-12000 grit micromesh and found that the areas on the bowl that I had stained blended in very well.I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm and worked it into the briar. The product cleans, enlivens and protects the briar. I let it sit for 10 minutes to do its work then buffed it off with a soft cloth. The pipe is shown below as it looks at this point in the process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the surface of the hard rubber stem with the flame of a lighter to lift the tooth marks as much as possible. I was able to lift them significantly. I filled in the remaining one on the top side next to the button and on the underside in the same place with clear super glue. Once it cured I sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil to help protect and preserve the rubber. I polished with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil to finish. I finished the stem and put the pipe back together again. I buffed the Royal Ascot Deluxe French Made Algerian Briar Oom Paul with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing wheel. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe is a real beauty. The dimension of the pipe are – Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 60 grams/2.12 ounces. The pipe will be added to the rebornpipes store in the French Pipe Makers section soon. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me. Cheers.