Daily Archives: September 24, 2021

Kenneth’s Pipe Incident Report #1

Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

Today, I thought I would try something a bit different. This is the first installment of what I am arbitrarily calling, Pipe Incident Report. My idea is to provide a brief write-up – focusing on a particular pipe-related problem and/or solution, rather than an entire restoration story. These reports will be intermittent and, hopefully, instructive. Please let me know what you think.

The pipe in question today is a leather-wrapped, meerschaum lined, pot billiard by Croydon. The pipe was made in Belgium, but, other than that, there is not a whole lot of information to be had about this company. Steve has restored a few over the years (and I checked his previous posts), but he had not gleaned any significant information either. The “incident” we will address in this report is some unexpected damage to the inside of the meerschaum bowl. We will get to that shortly – first some background. A friend of mine wanted this pipe – somehow, it spoke to him – so I was happy to bring it back to life for him. The pipe was in decent enough shape: the stem was well-used but not damaged, the leather was sound, the rim was a bit of a mess, and the bowl looked as though it had been reamed with a boat hook. Although it is difficult to make out in the photos, the bottom of the bowl was quite badly gouged and I wondered whether I should fill in the gouge or leave it as is. Steve had told me in the past about making a paste of egg white and chalk dust. Something for me to consider… Anyway, I began with the stem and inner tube, which I resolved fairly quickly. The leather enveloping the bowl was quite clean and in good shape, so that was also a quick fix. I then moved on to the rim of the pipe. As the photos show, it was filthy and slightly damaged.  I “topped” the pipe – that is to say, I gently and evenly sanded down the rim on a piece of 220-grit sandpaper. This was done with even greater care than usual, as I did not want to scuff the leather. I finished up the top with all nine of the MicroMesh pads to make a lovely surface and then used one of my furniture pens to liven up the colour of the rim. That done, I moved on to the inside of the bowl. Meerschaum does not do well with traditional reaming processes – it needed to be sanded. This was required – not just to clean things up – but also as there was a distinct aromatic ghost left behind. Well, I went sanding away happily, when – lo! and behold – a flaw or cavity appeared in the wall of the meerschaum bowl. Yikes!This is obviously a serious concern for this pipe. One is tempted to wonder: was there a manufacturing flaw? Not sure. Did I sand too hard and cause the breakage? Definitely not. Could there be other flaws? Not as far as I could tell, but it was difficult to be sure. This repair was going to need something more than egg white and chalk dust. After consulting with Steve, his recommendation was to repair both the gouge in the heel and the wall cavity with plaster of Paris. I agreed since plaster of Paris has the virtues of binding well to the meerschaum, resisting heat nicely, and (best of all) drying rock hard. I rushed out to buy some and started making my mix. In order to ensure that it works correctly in this context, the plaster of Paris must be much thicker than usual. Normally, the consistency would be something like thick pancake batter, whereas the mix I made was closer to cream cheese.As you can well imagine, actually applying the plaster of Paris properly to the inside of the bowl was a bit of a challenge. I used a dental spatula, which made the job much easier. First, I placed the plaster carefully in the gouge at the heel of the bowl. Next, I delicately filled in the cavity on the wall by inserting as much plaster as possible behind the intact areas of meerschaum. This would provide added strength and support to the repair. Finally, I filled in the hole itself and let all of the plaster harden overnight. On the morrow, the repair looked sound. The next step was to sand the plaster of Paris down to make it smooth and even with the surrounding meerschaum-lines bowl. I used 200- and 400-grit sandpaper to make this happen. I was very pleased with the way it looked in the end. As the photographs show, the plaster and meerschaum merged very well. I should add that the craze lines that you can see were also addressed, but I neglected to take a photo of that. In the end, the pipe was successfully restored and, what looked at first to be a fatal flaw in the meerschaum, turned out to be an educational and enjoyable repair. I was originally tempted to call this blog post “I got plastered in Paris”, but that seemed too cheeky in the end. It is a nice pipe and its new owner is very pleased with the results. I hope you enjoyed reading this first installment of Pipe Incident Report – I look forward to writing more. If you are interested in my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or email me directly at kenneth@knightsofthepipe.com. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.

Restemming & Restoring a Royal Danish 983 Bent Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

I think I must be on a bit of a roll with restemming some of the bowls I have collected over the years. I decided to do yet another one that has been here for a very long time. The pipe I chose to work on first is a lovely Bent Billiard stummel with a sandblast finish and a smooth panels on the sides of the bowl. The bowl looked very good. The blast, while not deep was quite nice and a the smooth panels had some interesting grain. The rim top was in excellent condition. The interior of the bowl was clean and there were not any chips, cracks or checking on the walls. The finish was dull and bit and tired but still quite redeemable. The stamping on the pipe was clear and readable. On the underside of the bowl an shank it read 983 followed by Royal Danish [over] Made in Denmark. I took some photos of the bowl before I started to work on it. I took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable.I went through some of stems and found this fancy saddle style stem that was close to the right diameter and had a tenon that would work as well. It has a few tooth marks and chatter near the button but it would clean up well.I knew that I was working on a Stanwell second from previous experience but decided to have a look on Pipephill anyway (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-r6.html). I have included a screen capture of the information that was present there.Pipedia also verifies that it is a Stanwell second (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Danish).

Armed with the confirmation about the maker of the pipe it was time to work on the pipe itself. I started my work on it by fitting the new stem to the shank. I trimmed down the tenon diameter slightly with a file so that the fit in the shank was snug. The stem diameter needed more work so I worked on it with 180 grit sandpaper to match it to the shank. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the shank fit. I heated the stem with a heat gun to bend it to the correct angle to match the flow of the bowl and shank.I removed the stem and turned my attention to the bowl of the pipe. I sanded the inside of the bowl with a piece of dowel wrapped 2w9th 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the walls and further check them for issues. Fortunately the bowl was in excellent condition. I used a brass bristle wire brush to clean off the remaining debris in the sandblast finish on the rim top.I cleaned out the internals of the pipe and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners to remove the sanding debris on both. It also removed any remnants of tars and oils in the shank and stem.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my finger tips and a shoe brush to get into the valleys and crevices of the blast finish. The product is amazing and works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let it sit on the briar for 10 or more minutes and then buff it off with a soft cloth. It really makes the briar come alive and look quite rich. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks and smoothed out the sanding I had done on the diameter of the saddle portion of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a cloth and Obsidian Oil. I finished the polishing with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I put the pipe together – the bowl with its new stem. This restored and restemmed Royal Danish 983 Sandblast Bent Billiard turned out to be a real beauty. I think the chosen stem works well with it. The finish on the bowl came alive with the buffing. I used Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel on both the bowl and stem. I gave both multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel then buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The Royal Danish Bent Billiard feels great in the hand. It is lightweight and the contrast in the browns of the sandblast and smooth briar and the polished vulcanite stem with the popping grain on the mixed brown stained bowl is quite amazing. The dimensions of the pipe are Length:5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.16 ounces/33 grams. It really is a beauty. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store in the Danish Pipe Makers section shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restemming and the restoration with me. Cheers.