Daily Archives: March 26, 2022

Cleaning up an UNSMOKED/NOS Meerlined La Strada Maximus 139


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I chose to work on is another UNSMOKED/NEW OLD STOCK pipe. This one was a Briar bowl coated with a grey finish and having a meerschaum lined bowl. It had a perfectly clean and debris free bowl and rim top that showed that it had never been smoked. The grey and was dirty from time and had some marks on the finish and a some wear on the edges from being shop worn. It was stamped on the topside of the shank and read La Strada [over] Maximus. On the underside of the shank it was stamped with the shape number 139 and Italy. If it had been smoked I would have abandoned it to the grab bags but the unsmoked and quite flawless looking Meer lining of the rim and in the bowl made me pause. If the stains were not present on the shank I would have just listed it as it is but I will need to do some work on it. It has an oval shank and saddle vulcanite stem that is lightly oxidized. The stem has a white acrylic ring between the stem and shank. It bears the La Strata smoking pipe logo on the top of the saddle. I took photos of the pipe when I brought it to the work table. I took photos of the bowl and rim top and the stem surfaces to show the condition of both. The bowl and rim look very good. The meerschaum lining has a nice beveled edge on the rim top. The stem is also in great condition other than the light oxidation.I took photos of the stamping on the top and underside of the shank. They are readable. You can also see scratches in the grey finish on the shank. They are not deep but they are present. The logo of the smoking pipe on top of the stem is also in good condition.I took some photos of the bowl sides to show the shop wear on the grey finish. I believe this finish is a paint but I am not sure. I took the stem off the shank to show the look of the white spacer on the stem and overall look of this interesting Italian pipe.I scrubbed the bowl and the shank with a soft tooth brush and gentle dish soap and was able to lighten the marks and scuffs on the pipe but they did not come all the way out. I took photos to show the bowl after the cleaning. I decided to experiment with rubbing some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the pipe. I tested it on the underside and liked the results so I rubbed down the entire bowl and shank. I let the pipe sit with the Balm for 10 minutes then buffed it off with a soft towel. It actually looks a lot better. I set the bowl aside and before working on the stem I tried to look up information on the brand and line on Pipephil and Pipedia. Both had the same information so I am including the link from Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/La_Strada). I quote the brief information from there below.

La Strada was an Italian export brand. Its large formats had some success in the USA, and were included in the 1970 Tinder Box catalog.

With that being all that I could learn I turned my attention to the stem. It was lightly oxidized from sitting around in the store who had stocked it. I scrubbed it with cotton pads and Soft Scrub all purpose cleanser. I worked on it until the stem surface was clean and ready polish. 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 impregnated with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine then gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. This tactile painted grey surface on the bowl and the new meerschaum lined bowl are really quite nice. This UNSMOKED/NEW OLD STOCK La Strada Maximus 139 actually came out looking really good. The grey coat on the bowl looks good – the dark spots on the finish and some of the wear marks do not distract. I put the stem on the shank and buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the wheel (being careful of the stamping on the stem so as not to damage that). I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The dimensions of this pipe are – Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.98 ounces/56 grams. It is a great looking pipe and one that will be going on the rebornpipes store in the Italian Pipe Makers section. If you want to add it to your collection let me know via email to slaug@uniserve.com or by message. Thanks for walking through the cleanup with me.

Restaining a Leather Clad Unsmoked Jean Lacroix Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I chose to work on is another UNSMOKED/NEW OLD STOCK pipe. This one was a leather clad Bent Billiard. It had a perfectly clean and debris free bowl and rim top that showed that it had never been smoked. The leather was light grey and was dirty from time and had water stains near the shank/stem union. It was stamped a signature Jean Lacroix stamp on the left side of the shank.  At the best of times I don’t like leather clad pipe but this was a clearly awful looking addition. If it had been smoked I would have abandoned it to the grab bags but the unsmoked and quite flawless looking Briar on the rim and in the bowl made me pause. The stitching on the leather was also clean and the edges on the bowl and the shank end were clean. If the stains were not present on the shank I would have just listed it as it is but I will need to do some work on it. I am kicking myself at this point as I forgot to take pictures of the pipe before I started my work on it. Jeff found two photos of a lot of pipes we purchased that included the Jean Lacroix pipe. I have circled it in blue in the first photo and in red in the second one. The stem has the Lacroix signature on the left side of the saddle and it is also on the left side of the shank. I blew up the photo of the pipe from the photos above to try to capture the look and staining to the leather on the shank. The photos are a little blurry but you can see the stains on the shank. The went all the way around and extended inward toward the stamping for about ½ inch.

Once again I am kicking myself as I forgot to take photos of my work to try and remove the stains. I scrubbed the shank with a gentle dish soap and was able to lighten them slightly but they did not come all the way out. I set the pipe aside overnight to think about my next steps. I went through some possible cleaning options and came to the conclusion that all would still leave behind the stain marks. That left only one option – to stain the leather a darker colour and see what that would do.

In the afternoon yesterday I made a decision to restain the leather. I figured I had nothing to lose. If it worked it would be great and I would finish restoring the pipe. If it did not work it could be scrapped for parts. I went through my stains to see what colour to use. I knew that the stains darkened considerably on leather so I chose a light brown Feibing’s stain. I applied it with the dauber all around the bowl to make sure the coverage was even. I carefully avoided staining the rim top and edges as I wanted them to remain a contrast to the leather. I set the bowl aside to let the stain cure on the leather. This morning I waxed and buffed the leather on the buffing wheel and the shine came alive. The newly stained leather came out looking quite amazing. The bowl has a rich brown finish that is warm and clean. The stain marks on the shank end have disappeared under the new colour. I think that it is a vast improvement. I took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank to show how the stamping had effected that part of the shank. Remember the stains on the shank end extended almost ½ inch up the shank all the way around. The stamp is clear and readable – Jean Lacroix.I turned to Pipephil (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-l2.html) to confirm the brand stamping. You can see how the stamp on the leather matches the stamp on the briar in the screen capture below.I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. It was lightly oxidized from sitting around in the store who had stocked it. The logo was faded and once I had removed it from the shank you can see the finned stinger apparatus in the tenon. It is friction fit and easily removable. I took photos of the stem before I started my work.I touched up the stamping on the stem with some Rub’n Buff Antique Gold. I worked it into the stamp with a tooth pick. I let it sit a few minutes then buffed it off with a soft cloth to remove the excess. It looks better in person than it does in the photo but you can get the idea.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 impregnated with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine then gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I generally do not like leather clad pipe no matter who the maker is. I always wonder about what is under the leather. This UNSMOKED/NEW OLD STOCK Jean Lacroix Leather Clad Bent Billiard actually came out looking really good. The light brown stain on the leather brought the leather alive and the polished rim top and clean bowl look good. I put the stem on the shank and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the wheel (being careful of the stamping on the stem so as not to damage that). I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The dimensions of this pipe are – Length: 5 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.62 ounces/46 grams. It is a great looking pipe and one that will be going on the rebornpipes store in the French Pipe Makers section. If you want to add it to your collection let me know via email to slaug@uniserve.com or by message. Thanks for walking through the cleanup with me.