Restoring an interesting Mastercraft Made Sparkless Bent Egg


Blog by Steve Laug

In picking up estate pipes there are always those unique ones that just call out to be worked on  and this was one of those. We purchased it from an online auction on 04/16/20 in Columbia, Missouri, USA. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Sparkproof [over] Weatherproof. On the right side it is stamped Algerian Briar [over] Made in France. There is a stamped S logo on the left side of the taper stem. I have worked on several different brands of the flip top bowl cover pipes that are often called Hurricane pipe. The bowl is briar and the cap and sides are made of Bakelite. The finish on this Sparkless was filthy with grime ground into the finish. The Bakelite lid was also dirty and the holes in the cap and inside of the lid was also dirty. There was a thick cake in the bowl and a lava coat on rim top under the lid. The vulcanite (hard rubber) stem was oxidized and had tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his clean up work. This one would be quite labour intensive.  He took some photos of the rim top and bowl from various angles with the lid flipped to give me a clear picture of the condition of the rim top and bowl. You can see the cake in the bowl and the thickness of the lava coat on the top and inner edge. He captured the condition of the stem and the tooth damage on both sides of the stem in the photos. He also took a photo of the stinger in the tenon to show the build up on the aluminum. Jeff took some photos of the sides and heel of the bowl with the cap flipped and closed to show the condition of the finish on the pipe. Under the oils and grime it was a nice looking bowl. I think it will be a beauty once it is restored.     He took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It is clear and readable and reads as noted above. He did not capture the S logo stamp on the left side of the stem in the photos below. Before I started to work on my part of this particular pipe I wanted to understand more about the Sparkproof brand name. I looked it up on Pipephil (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-s10.html) and found the following listing. I did a screen capture of the section as it showed a very similar looking pipe with the same stamping as the one I have. It also linked the brand to Mastercraft. I turned to the link to Mastercraft to see if there was any other information. There was some information on the Sparkproof Zeppelin but nothing on this one.I also followed a link to the Hurricane pipe (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-h4.html#hurricane) and did a screen capture of that section as well. I also included the information underneath the entry and in the sidebar.Hurricane is not exactly a brand but rather a pipe type characterized by an integrated swivel cover. An H on the stem denotes a pipe produced by Orlik. These pipes were often made in collaboration with Nutt Products Ltd or were sometimes stamped for Roy Tallent Ltd.

Other brands have crafted or distributed Hurricane type pipes stamped with their own name among which:

I think that the pipe I have is one of these collected pipes probably made in collaboration with Nutt Products Ltd. or Roy Tallent Ltd. There seem to have been a large number of these in a variety of shapes and formations that all came out about the same time in England and France. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

Jeff once again did an amazing job cleaning the pipe. The clean up was labour intensive because of the flip cap. It did not completely flip out of the way so there was a lot of maneuvering that had to happen to do the work on it. Both the inside of the cap and bowl underneath had to be cleaned so there were many more surfaces that needed attention. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and got rid of the cake. He cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He took the cake out completely so that we could see the walls of the bowl and assess for damage. He cleaned the internals of the cap, the shank and stem with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol. He scrubbed the exterior with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to get into the grooves around the flip top. He rinsed the pipe under warm water. He dried it off with a cloth and then let it air dry. The rim top cleaned up pretty good. I took pictures of the pipe before I started my work on it.   I took a close up photo of the rim top to show how clean it was with the lid closed and open. There was some darkening and a chip on the inner edge on the right front of the bowl. There were also some chips on the back edge of the salt and pepper rim cover. Overall the pipe looked impressive at this point in comparison to where it had started. The stem looked amazingly good with light tooth marks and chatter on both sides. I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It is clear and readable though faint in some spots.      I took a photo of the bowl and stem taken apart. I started my work on the pipe by addressing the remaining darkening on the inner edge of the bowl and nicks on the back edge of the wind cap. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper and when finished the pipe looked better.     I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads (carefully avoiding the stamping). I used 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. The bowl really took on a shine.     I used a Mahogany stain pen to restain the rim top to match the rest of the bowl. It looks very good and polishing will only make it better.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar and Bakelite Wind Cap with my finger tips. The product is a great addition to the restoration work. It enlivens, enriches and protects the briar while giving it a deep glow. It is a product I use on every pipe I work on.  I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. Somewhere along the way the stinger was lost – no big loss that is my feeling! I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry 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 buffed the stem with a soft cloth to raise the shine.    I touched up the S stamp on the left side of the stem with some white acrylic fingernail polish. I worked it into the stamp with a tooth pick. Once it dried I scraped off the excess and it was much better.     As always I am excited to finish a pipe that I am working on. I put the Sparkless Sparkproof, Weatherproof Bent Egg 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 buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad and hand buffed it to raise the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the grain popping around the bowl and shank along the polished hard rubber taper stem. It is beautiful, light and well balanced pipe. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 52 grams/1.83 ounces. It is a beautiful pipe and one that will be on the rebornpipes store in the French Pipe Makers section. 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. I want to keep reminding us of the fact that we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.

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