Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the table has one of my favourite finishes – a deeply rusticated one with what appears to have originally been a natural finished. We purchased this one on eBay on 10/06/16 from a fellow in Onalaska, Washington, USA. It is a Savinelli Capri Root Briar Zulu with a rusticated finish (looks a lot like the Castello Sea Rock finish). The coral like rustication around the bowl and shank was filled in with dust and debris. The natural finish was dirty and the high spots are darkened by hand oils and grime ground into briar. The pipe was stamped on underside of the shank. It is stamped Savinelli Capri [over] Root Briar followed by Savinelli “S” shield logo followed by Italy over the shape number 411. There was a thick cake in the bowl and lava overflow on the inner edges and the rim top. The vulcanite stem was oxidized and had tooth marks and chatter ahead of the button on both sides. Jeff took photos of the pipe to show its general condition before he did his cleanup.As I mentioned above the exterior of the pipe was very dirty – grime and grit ground in from years of use and sitting. The rim top was covered with a coat of thick lava that overflowed from the thick cake in the bowl. It was hard to know what the rim edges looked like because of the lava. The stem was dirty, calcified and oxidized with tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside of the stem at the button. Jeff took a photo of the right side and the heel of the bowl to give a better feel for the condition of the briar around the bowl. It is a great looking piece of briar with a deep rustication.The next photo show the stamping on the underside of the shank and it is very readable. It reads as noted above.I have always like the Savinelli Capri Root Briar finish so I was glad to be working on this one. Jeff had reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks better but there is still darkening on the sides of the bowl and shank. There is also some darkening on the rim top as well. Jeff scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked a lot better. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. I wanted to show what cleaned bowl and rim top looked like. The rim top and the inner and outer edges of the bowl were in excellent condition. The top of the bowl was quite dark around three sides. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks and the remaining oxidation on the stem surface. I took photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank and it is clear and readable. It is stamped as noted above.I removed the stem for the shank and took a photo of the bowl and stem to give a picture of what it looked like. The remaining oxidation is very visible.I started my work on the pipe by addressing the darkening of the rim top. I used a brass bristle wire brush and some common dish soap to de-grease the bowl and the rim top. I worked over the bowl and the top with the brush and was able to remove the grime and much of the darkening. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I used a Bic lighter to “paint” the surface of the stem with the flame to lift the tooth marks on both sides of the stem. The heat lifted many of the marks. I filled in what remained with clear CA glue and set it aside to harden. Once the repairs cured on the top and underside of the stem I filed them flat and recut the button edge with a small file. I sanded them with a folded piece of 220 sandpaper. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. I left a little oxidation around the stamp so as not to damage it more. This Savinelli Capri Root Briar 411 Zulu cleaned up really well and looks very good. The Before & After Restoration Balm brought the colours and grain out in the rusticated finish on the pipe. It works well with the polished oval vulcanite taper stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Capri Root Briar 411 Zulu fits nicely in the hand and I think it will feel great as it heats up with a good tobacco. The tactile finish will add to the experience. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.20 ounces/34 grams. If you are interested in carrying the previous pipeman’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store in the Italian Pipe Makers Section. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.