The Apple of My Eye

Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

Next on the chopping block is as robust an apple-shaped pipe as you are likely to see. It is a beautiful and chunky Calvert Super De Luxe sort-of apple. It was one of a large lot of pipes that I acquired many months ago. It was a group of pipes off of eBay, but the seller was local to me so I picked them up in person. I do not remember the exact number, but there were 50-odd pipes. I have been making my way through them over the months. This pipe just spoke to me – I liked its powerful, rugged features and thought it would make a terrific restoration. Indeed, it might even be a good smoker too. There is not a lot of information to be had about Calvert pipes. The brand is listed on and they quote Herb Wilczak and Tom Colwell’s book, Who Made That Pipe?, as saying that the brand was distributed by Harry J. Gorfinkel. Meanwhile, makes reference to the name Calvert in connection with Fader’s Tobacconists of Maryland. Apparently, they had a line of pipes called Calvert after the street that the shop was located. I am quite sure that this is not my pipe and is completely unrelated to the Calvert mentioned by Wilczak and Colwell. The photos of the markings provided on match perfectly with my pipe, so there it is.Fortunately, this pipe did not have too many problems. The stummel was mostly just drab and grubby. It also had a bit of cake in the bowl and a few scratches here-and-there. The colouring of the wood needed to be redone too. Meanwhile, the stem had a few problems of its own: there was some oxidation and calcification, and minor tooth marks and dents. The stem also looked weird to me: it was straight, but I thought it would be improved with a slight bend. I really like the shape and I was looking forward to working on this one. It just needed a new lease on life.The stem was first on my list. I took a BIC lighter and ‘painted’ the stem with its flame in order to lift the marks. This was only modestly successful in raising the dents. I wiped down the outside of the stem with Murphy’s Oil Soap on some cotton pads. Then, I cleaned out the insides with pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. Have a look at the photo showing the pipe cleaner sticking out of the end of the tenon – it was pretty yucky. Once this process was done, the stem went for an overnight soak in the Before & After Hard Rubber Deoxidizer. The following day, I cleaned all of the de-oxidizing sludge off with alcohol, pipe cleaners, et cetera. The oxidation had migrated to the surface and would be fairly straightforward to remove. I scrubbed vigorously with SoftScrub on cotton pads to remove the leftover oxidation. I built up some tiny dents on the stem with cyanoacrylate adhesive and let it fully cure. I then sanded it down with 220-, 400-, and 600-grit sandpapers to meld seamlessly into the stem. This ensures that it keeps its shape and looks like it should. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to bring out the lovely black lustre on the stem. I also used Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing. Once I was done with the polishing, I noticed a tiny piece of metal on the underside of the stem. I asked Steve about it and he said that he had heard that it was an indication that the stem was made from old tires. This is actually fortunate because it allows us to date the pipe to World War II or shortly thereafter (according to Steve’s memory). I mentioned earlier that I thought the stem did not look quite right. I asked Steve about it and he had the same impression. Essentially, I wanted the end of the stem to be parallel with the rim of the bowl. I brought out my heat gun and heated the vulcanite stem in order to make it malleable. The heat gun is very powerful – it does not take long! When it was soft, I gently curved the stem over a wooden dowel. The dowel provides a firm surface and a proper curve. Once I had the bend I wanted, I left the stem to cool and set itself in place.On to the stummel, and the usual cleaning procedures were in order for this pipe. I used both the PipNet Reamer and the KleenReem to remove the built-up cake, and followed that with 220-grit sandpaper to remove as much as I could. I wanted to take the bowl down to bare briar to ensure there were no hidden flaws in the walls of the bowl. Fortunately, there were none. I then proceeded to clean out the insides of the shank with Q-tips, pipe cleaners, and isopropyl alcohol. There was quite a bit of nastiness inside this stummel – it took many pipe cleaners et cetera to sort that out. A de-ghosting session seemed in order, so I thrust cotton balls in the bowl and the shank, and saturating them with 99% isopropyl alcohol. I let the stummel sit for 24 hours. This caused the oils, tars and smells to leech out into the cotton. Finally, a relatively clean and fresh-smelling bowl emerged. I followed that up by cleaning the insides with some dish soap and tube brushes. I then moved on to cleaning the outside of the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a scrub brush. That removed any remaining dirt. There was a small crack in the shank, but, thankfully it was minor and I addressed it effectively with some cyanoacrylate adhesive. The repair worked beautifully and quickly. Since this pipe is rusticated, I was not going to sand down the stummel with my Micromesh pads, but I did do it to the small sections that were smooth (i.e. where the markings were located). In order to avoid disturbing the rusticated sections, I masked these areas off with painter’s tape. This simplified the process a great deal.On to another problem: the colour. During the course of its previous life and my vigorous cleaning, this pipe had lost some vibrancy of colour. So, in order to accentuate the external beauty of this pipe, I opted for aniline dye. However, I noticed that there were some gooey marks on the stummel that needed to be removed before I stained the pipe. So, I opted to soak the stummel in isopropyl alcohol for a few hours beforehand. This will usually remove the sort of goo I was faced with. When I took it out of the bath, I scrubbed the wood with a metal brush (to remove any remnants) and left it to dry. Once dry, I applied some of Fiebing’s Black Leather Dye. As usual, I applied flame from a BIC lighter in order to set the colour. What a difference that made! It looked so much better with a fresh coat of stain. I then embellished the stummel markings with some gold Rub’nBuff – just to add some flair. Since the markings were quite worn (and, therefore, shallow), the paint did not illuminate everything, but I still liked the effect a lot. I applied some Before & After Restoration Balm and then it was off for a trip to the buffer. A dose of White Diamond and a few coats of Halcyon II wax were just what this pipe needed. The lovely shine made the wood very attractive. This is a very handsome pipe and will provide many years of smoking pleasure.This Calvert Super De Luxe is back to its old glory and ready to be enjoyed again by the next owner. I am pleased to announce that this pipe is for sale! If you are interested in acquiring it for your collection, please have a look in the ‘American’ pipe section of the store here on Steve’s website. You can also email me directly at The approximate dimensions of the pipe are as follows: length 6½ in. (165 mm); height 1¾ in. (44 mm); bowl diameter 1⅞ in. (48 mm); chamber diameter ⅞ in. (21 mm). The weight of the pipe is 2¼ oz. (65 g). I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this pipe’s restoration as much I as I did restoring it. If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or send me an email. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.

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