Stepping Up with a Pilot S455 French Made Mini-Churchwarden

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is an interesting mystery pipe that is stamped France on the underside of the shank and on the left side reads PILOT. On the right side is a shape number S455 near the bowl shank union. We picked the pipe up from EBay on December, 2016 and it came from Port Perry, Ontario,  Canada. It is an interesting piece of briar with a long vulcanite stem. The shape is a variation on a Rhodesian without the rings around the cap. The finish was dirty and dull with grime ground into the briar around the bowl and shank. The bowl has a moderate cake in the bowl and a light coat of lava on the rim top and inner edge. There is some darkening on the inner edge of the bowl. The stem was oxidized and had tooth chatter on the top and the underside near the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took some photos of the bowl to give a sense of the condition of the bowl and rim top. You can see the cake in the bowl and the lava on the rim top. There is also some damage and darkening to the inner edges. The stem is clean but shows light oxidation and tooth marks on both sides near the button. He took photos of the bowl sides and heel to show the grain around the bowl. It really was a nice piece of briar. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the shank sides. It is clear and readable as noted above. Jeff had done a great job cleaning up the pipe as usual. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and cut back the cake back to the bare briar. He cleaned up the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the finish. He worked on the rim top lava and darkening with the soap and tooth brush. He scrubbed the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer. He washed it off with warm water to remove the deoxidizer. The pipe looked far better when it arrived.    I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show how well it had cleaned up. The rim top photo looks very good but you can see the damage to the inner edge around the bowl. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the light tooth marks and scratching on the surface near the button.    I took photos of the stamping on the left and right side of the shank. You can see that it is stamped as noted above. It is clear and readable. I took the pipe apart and took a photo of the pipe. It is a good looking pipe and has some great looking grain around the bowl and shank.I worked on the damage around inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to smooth it out and clean up the damage.I wiped the bowl down with isopropyl alcohol to remove the uneven stain and even out the finish on the bowl. I was able to remove just enough to make the grain really stand out. I polished the briar bowl and shank with micromesh sanding pads. I dry sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with a damp cloth after each pad.     I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips 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. I sanded out some tooth marks on the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I wiped it down with some Obsidian Oil.   I polished the stem 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. I gave it a final rub down with Obsidian Oil and let it dry. I am excited to finish this French Made Pilot S455 French Made Mini Churchwarden. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and 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 nickel band and the black vulcanite stem. This Classic looking Pilot S455 Mini Churchwarden feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 7 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¼ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 25grams/.88oz. It is a beautiful pipe and one that will be on the French Pipe Makers section of the rebornpipes store soon. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog.

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