Blog by Steve Laug
I have sold a few pipes to a fellow in Israel over the past year and he is great to work with. He has great taste in pipes and the ones he has purchased from me have been beautiful. Not long ago I received and email from him about a pipe he was interested in purchasing EBay. He sent me the link and wanted my opinion on it. I believed that it was a design by Sixten Ivarsson made for Stanwell and one that I really like the flowing shape and broad bowl. I remembered that with the Reg. No. it was made between the late 1960s and early 1970s so it was a bit of an old one. The pipe appeared to be in decent condition. Not too many days after that he wrote me to say he had won it and wondered if he could have it shipped to me rather than to him in Israel. We chatted back and forth about it via email and the decision was made and the pipe was on its way to me. Here are the pictures that the seller included with the advertising. The seller took a large photo of the rim top to show the condition. Though it is dark you can see the cake in the bowl and the burn damage to the inner edge and the top front of the bowl. I am hoping I can reduce that mark some but time will tell. He also included a photo of the top of the stem showing the oxidation and the tooth marks on that side of the stem. The photo of the underside of the bowl and shank is dark but you can seek the grain peeking through the grime on the finish. I think that it will have some nice grain once I clean it up.He also took photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It was faint but readable with a light. It read as noted above.He took the stem off the shank and took a picture of the mortise and the tenon to show the condition of those parts of the pipe. It was dirty but it looked solid.The pipe arrived this week and sadly I had forgotten that it was on its way from the seller. When I opened the box I remembered it. I examined it carefully to assess both the condition of the pipe and what I needed to do with it. There was a moderate cake in the bowl with lava on the rim top and what looked like a burn mark on the top front of the bowl. There was darkening around both the inner and the outer edges of the bowl. The pipe was stamped on the underside of the shank and read Stanwell [over] Regd. No. 969-48 [over] Handmade [over] in Denmark. To the left of the stamp it bore the shape number stamp – 86. The finish was dirty and dark so it was hard to see too well but you could see some interesting grain underneath. The stem had the Crown S stamp on the top of the saddle and was fade. The vulcanite was oxidized and there were tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside. It was going to take some work to clean up but I thought it would work out fairly well. My only concern was the burn mark on the front top of the rim. Even with that though it would look pretty amazing. I took some photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I have included them below. I took a photo of the bowl and rim top to show the thickness of the cake in the bowl and the damage to the top and edges of the bowl. You can see the darkening on the inner and outer edge of the rim – how much is lava and how much is burn damage remains to be seen. You can also see the burn mark on the top of the bowl at the front. It does not appear to have charred the surface as it is hard. I took photos of the stem surface to show the oxidation and tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. There are also scratches on the surface running from the tenon end to the button on both sides. The Crown S stamp on the top of the stem is visible but all the colour is gone.I took a photo of the stamping on the shank underside. It is faint but readable. I also took a photo of the Crown S on the top of the saddle stem.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe parts. It is really going to be quite a stunning piece.I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and took the cake back to bare walls. I cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I sanded the bowl walls with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. I examined the walls with a lens and they were solid and undamaged. I cleaned out the airway in the shank and the stem as well as the mortise with isopropyl alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. It was quite dirty and now smells much better.I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the finish of the bowl and rim top. I rinsed off the bowl with warm water and then dried the bowl with a cotton cloth. The grain that came to the surface once it was clean is quite stunning. I worked over the darkening and burn damage on the inside edge of the bowl and the rim top with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. It began to look a lot better.I mixed up a batch of oxalic acid and warm water and used it to scrub off the rim darkening and the burn mark on the top. I dried it off with a paper towel. The burn on the edges of the rim were much better and the burn mark on the front top was definitely lighter.I sanded the rim top with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper and then sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding block. The grain on the rim top began to stand out. The rim edges look much better and the burn mark is much reduced.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. After each pad I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding debris. It really took on a shine by the last three sanding pads. I stained the polished rim top with an Oak stain pen. It matched the colour around the rest of the bowl and hid the burn mark a bit. Though it is still visible it is nowhere near as big as it was when I started.I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar where it works to clean, restore and preserve the briar. I let it do its magic for 15 minutes then buffed it off with a cotton cloth. The pipe looks incredibly good at this point in the process. With that the bowl had come a long way from when I started working on it. I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I put the stem for an overnight soak in Briarville’s Pipe Stem Deoxidizer. In the morning I removed it from the bath and rubbed it down with a coarse paper towel to remove the oxidation that was on the surface. I cleaned out the airway in the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners.I “painted” the surface of the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the tooth marks on both sides. I was able to lift them significantly but one remained on each side that would need to be filled with superglue.I scrubbed the remnants of oxidation with Soft Scrub All Purpose Cleanser. I removed a lot more of the remaining oxidation. It is finally starting to look better.I filled in the remaining tooth marks on both sides of the stem with black super glue. I set it aside to cure. Once the repair cured I flattened the repair with a small file to start the process of smoothing it out and blending it into the surrounding vulcanite. I sanded the file marks and repairs with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. It is starting to look very good.I continued to polish 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. The light oxidation that remained on the top of the saddle portion of the stem was hard to deal with due to the stamping on the top. I cleaned it as much as possible and repaired the white colour of the Crown S logo with White Acrylic fingernail polish. I applied it and when it hardened I scraped off the excess with my fingernail. Once finished I continued to polish the stem with the last three micromesh sanding pads. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and wiped it down with Obsidian Oil one more time. I am excited to finish this Ivarrson Designed Stanwell 86 Freehand. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with beautiful mixed grain all around it. The polished grain on the pipe looks great with the black vulcanite stem. This smooth Classic Ivarrson Designed Stanwell 86 is great looking and the pipe feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 42 grams/1.48 ounces. It turned out to be a beautiful pipe. I will be packing it up and sending it to my friend in Israel. I think he will enjoy this beauty once it is in his hands. Thanks for your time reading this blog and as Paresh says each time – Stay Safe.