Blog by Steve Laug
Last week I received a call from a local Vancouver realtor who had gotten my phone number from the pipe shop here. He had a pipe that he said needed a stem replacement and wanted to know if I could do that for him. I have learned to ask what he meant about needing a stem replacement. I had him send me photos of the pipe so I could see what it needed. It was a L’Anatra bent egg shape with a silver ferrule. In the first photo you can see the tenon snapped off in the shank. I talked with the fellow a bit and we decided to do a tenon replacement. He was keen to keep the Duck head on the stem so this seemed the best solution for him. I told him to drop the pipe off at the house so I could work on it. I have included the photos that he sent me so you could see what I was going to deal with. The day that he was going to drop the pipe off he called and asked if he could put another pipe in the bag that had the same problem – a snapped tenon in the shank. I told him to go ahead and add it to the bag. When I came home from work the pipes were waiting for me. The second pipe was another L’Anatra. This one was a beautifully sandblasted bent squashed tomato shape with an oval shank. Like the first one the tenon was snapped off in the shank. It was stamped on the underside of the shank and read L’Anatra [over] dalle Uova d’ Oro [over] Hand Made in Italy. The blast was very well done – deep and rugged. The sandblast on the rim top had some debris and darkening but otherwise was clean. The bowl itself was clean and still had raw briar in the bottom half of the bowl. It looked like he had dropped it not too long after he acquired it. The stem was in good condition with some chatter on both side ahead of the button but nothing to deep. I decided to deal with this one first. Once the tenon was replaced it would be a quick clean up and polish before I gave it back to him. I took some photos of the bowl and stem when I received it to show what a great looking pipe it was. I took photos of the rim top to show the condition of the bowl and the darkening in the sandblast finish of the rim. I also took photos of the stem to show the tooth chatter on both sides at the button.I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It was clear and readable as noted above.I decided to start my work on the pipes by pulling the tenon on both pipes. That way I could proceed on them both from the same starting place. I used a dry wall screw and twisted it into the airway. On this pipe a bit of wiggling and the tenon popped free of the shank. The other was a bit tougher but I will talk about it on the next blog.I went through my tenons and found a threaded one that would fit the shank with a few minor adjustments. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to remove the should ahead of the threads and to reduce the diameter slightly to fit the shank. I also used the Dremel and sanding drum to remove the fragments of the broken tenon on the stem face.I put the tenon in the shank and took some photos of the fit. It was looking very good.Now it was time to work on replacing the broken tenon. I drilled out the face of the stem with a a cordless drill and a bit roughly the size of the airway in the stem. I find that this helps to center the drilling. I worked my way through drill bits up to 15/64th which is approximately the size of the threaded portion of the tenon.I flattened out the threads with the Dremel and sanding drum until the fit in the new opening on the stem was snug. I fit a pipe cleaner in the stem and then coated the threaded tenon end with black CA glue and turned it into the stem. I set it aside to let the glue harden. Once it had I removed the pipe cleaner and took some photos of the pipe with the stem. While the glue cured on the new tenon I turned my attention to the bowl. I used a brass bristle wire brush to scrub off some of the darkening on the rim top. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush 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 photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. It was in such great condition that I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. This L’Anatra dalle Uova d’ Oro Sandblast Squashed Tomato turned out to be a more beautiful pipe than I had expected once I had replaced the tenon. The sandblast finish on the briar is beautiful and the nooks and crannies of the blast really show the depth of the finish. I put the pipe back together and buffed it lightly with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the acrylic stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the polished black vulcanite stem. This classic looking L’Anatra dalle Uova d’ Oro Squashed Tomato feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 63 grams/2.22 oz. It is a beautiful pipe and one that will be heading back to the Vancouver Realtor once I finish the tenon replacement on his second L’Anatra – an Egg. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog.