Daily Archives: January 20, 2023

Rescuing a Dr. Grabow Regal Ajustomatic Pat. 2461905 Dublin

The next pipe on the worktable came to me in what I have named the St. Louis Lot of 26 in December of 2018.  My son Josiah was instrumental in …

Rescuing a Dr. Grabow Regal Ajustomatic Pat. 2461905 Dublin

This turned out to be a real beauty. Well done.

Preparing a 1962 Dunhill Bamboo “Whangee” Tanshell W60 Lovat  so that I can enjoy it!

Blog by Steve Laug

Back in 2020 I met with a friend here in Vancouver, Alex, whose pipes I often worked on to enjoy a visit and some good tobacco. He showed me this pipe and I immediately was taken with it. I told him that if he ever wanted to part with it he should call me first. This week I received an email from him that he was ready to part with it. We talked about it for awhile and arrived at a price and I paid him online. Yesterday (Thursday) I picked it up from Alex. It was exactly as I remembered it. I have included a few photos of the pipe to show what it looked like when I gave it back to Alex. It still had the unique beauty that I remembered and now looked forward to enjoying myself. It had some great patina on the Bamboo and a darkened Tanshell finish that had only become richer with Alex’s use. This morning I went back to the original blog describing the restoration of the pipe. I am including the link to the blog (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/08/refreshing-a-dunhill-tanshell-w60-t-1962bamboo-lovat-for-alex/). Give it a read. I am quoting my introductory comments in that blog below because they capture well the feelings I had when I first saw the pipe and the information that I could gather on it.

I carefully took it in my hands and examined it. While I have several Stanwell Bamboo pipes and older KBB Yello Bole Bamboos this is the first Dunhill that I had seen up close and personal. Alex told me that these bamboo-adorned pieces were referred to as “Whangee” pipes. I learned later that the term comes from the Mandarin word for bamboo, huáng lí and was used to describe canes and umbrellas with bamboo handles throughout the early to mid-1900s before being attributed to pipes — Dunhill’s in particular. I learned from reading on line that bamboo came to into use in pipemaking during the briar shortage that accompanied and followed WWII. As a means of saving on briar, pipemakers would extend the shank with bamboo.

The pipe was stamped on the heel of the bowl with the following nomenclature: W60 over a circle with a T next to it. T is the designation for Tanshell pipes. I assume that the circle with what looked like a 4 faintly in the center which was the size designation. Next to that is a superscript underlined 2 which I believe designates the year of manufacture – 1962. So now I knew the date on this interesting Bamboo.

Alex had reamed the pipe and cleaned it up very well. He had already enjoyed smoking it and was hooked on it. I even offered to buy it from him and he gently declined! He asked if I could take it home with me and see what I could do about the finish on the bowl. I told him I would take it home and have a go at it…

When I got home yesterday afternoon I laid it aside and this took it up to work on it. I enjoyed going over it carefully to see what I had purchased from Alex. You can see from the four photos below that the dark spots on the left side of the bowl had blended in better and were looking better. They seemed to be stains from the bowl coming in contact with some substance. It was deep in the finish. The right side of the bowl had some darkening toward the top of the bowl and the rim top was clean but still had a bit of darkening. The vulcanite spacer between the bowl and the bamboo shank was cleaned. The patina on the Bamboo shank had darkened and the crackling in the finish looked very good. It was quite stunning. The stem was in good condition other than a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides just ahead of the button. The pipe had a light cake and smelled of good tobacco. Overall the pipe was in good condition. I took photos of the bowl and rim top to show their condition and of the stem to show the condition of both sides of the stem. Alex had taken great care of this old pipe.The photos of the sides and heel of the bowl show beautiful sandblasted grain around the bowl and the patterns in the briar. The Tanshell finish had darkened a lot on the pipe and I really debate whether to let it darken naturally or stain it with a Shell Briar style of stain. It is a nice looking pipe. I took the stem off the bamboo shank and took a photo. It really is a beautiful Bamboo shank Lovat in my opinion.One of the first things I like to do is to unpack the stamping and understand each element in it. I turned to Pipephil’s helpful site (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/shapes-l.html). The stamping on the shank heel is interpreted as follows: W stamp is the shape code for a Bamboo followed by the number 60 which is a number for a Billiard, however I would call the elongated shank and bowl combination a Lovat. The 2 following the W60 gives the date the pipe. The Circle 4 T refers to the size of the pipe being a Group 4 and the T is the stamp for a Tanshell designation.

Pipephil also has some helpful dating keys on the site that are basically flow charts that you can walk through to date your pipe (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/cledat-en1.html). I turned to Part 1 of the Dating Key and followed the chart. This pipe has a 2  following the W60 number. That took me to the section on the chart below (column one) which instructed me that the pipe could be dated as being made posterior to 1954. I followed the link following the “Your pipe is posterior to 1954. Narrow down your dating”. That took me to Page 2 of the dating key (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/cledat-en1a.html). The second column (suffix [1…4] or [11…39]) led me to the section with a 2 after the D in England. There was a directive for dating the pipe spelled out as follows: 1960 + suffix which gives the pipe a date of 1962.I googled Dunhill Bamboo Wanghee to get a bit of background on the that brand and found a link on Smoking Pipes that had some helpful information that I will quote below the link (https://www.smokingpipes.com/pipes/estate/england/moreinfo.cfm?product_id=235695).

It’s not everyday you come across a Dunhill Whangee, the marque’s classic bamboo-shanked pipe. Though originally incorporated into Dunhill’s lineup several decades back, when briar was in short supply, these eccentric designs caught on, and many collectors have even built entire rotations around them. You will occasionally find one on the estate market, as we do here, but they tend to sell quickly, especially if it is an older example like this ’62 edition — in part due to their general rarity, but also because of their overall unique aesthetic. You can’t find classic English designs fitted with oversized bamboo extensions everywhere, after all…

I turned to work on the pipe itself. I reamed the light cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and sanded the walls of the bowl with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. The walls of the bowl are smooth. I scrubbed the inside of the bamboo shank and the mortise with alcohol and pipe cleaners. I also cleaned out the airway in the stem the same way. I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 10 minutes then I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The briar comes alive with the balm. I set the bowl aside and turned to address the tooth marks and chatter in the stem surface. I sanded them with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the stem. I wet sanded the stem with 600 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. Once I finished with the Dunhill Bamboo W60 I put the stem back on the shank and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond polish using a lightly loaded pad and a soft touch. I wanted the shine but not the grit filling in the crevices of the sandblast bowl. I used even a gentler touch on the bamboo. I gave the stem a vigorous polish being careful around the white spot. I gave the bowl and bamboo several coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem several coats of carnauba. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a great piece of pipe history and looks better than when I began the process. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outer Bowl Diameter: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber Diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is .95 ounces/ 26grams. I am glad to say that I plan on loading a bowl of Friedman & Pease Fool’s Cap later today and enjoying my “new” addition. Thanks Alex for calling me on this one.

Restoring a Unique Savinelli Autograph 4 Freehand

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is one that was sent to me for a restoration. I am not taking on too many more pipes from outside Canada but the shape and finish of this one caught my eye. It is a Savinelli Autograph 4 with an unusual shape and a great sandblast finish. It is dirty but still very eye catching. It is stamped on the underside of the shank and reads Savinelli [over] Autograph [over] 4. The shank is round but has a flat bottom that allows the pipe to be a sitter. The bowl had been partially reamed and the top half had scraped away some briar on the inner edge of the bowl. The bottom half was very full of a thick cake that had not been touched with the reamer. The pipe smelled of old tobacco but did not seem to be a heavy aromatic. The shank was dirty with oils and tars. The acrylic stem is almost certain a replacement. It does not have the characteristic autograph/signature on the side of the saddle though it is very well made and the fit to the shank is perfect. There were light tooth marks and chatter in the surface on both sides. The button surface was clean but the slot had been filled in with debris leaving a very small airway. I am including the photos of the pipe that were sent by the person who is the steward of the pipe below. I think that you can see what attracted me to this one. The email also included photos of the rim top to show its condition. There was some damage to the finish on the rim top and some damage to the inner edge of the rim. The acrylic stem photos show the scratches, chatter and tooth marks. Overall the pipe looked impressive even in its unrestored state. I wanted to remind myself a bit about the Autograph line from Savinelli so I reread a blog I had written on a previous Autograph restoration (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/01/05/restoring-a-savinelli-autograph-3-rhodesian-dublin-long-shank/). I quote that portion of the blog now:

I turned first to the Pipephil website (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-savinelli1.html) to get a brief overview of the Autograph line. There I found out that the Autographs were hand made and unique. The Autograph Grading system is ascending: 3, 4, … 8, 0, 00, 000.

I turned then to Pipedia to get a more background on the Autograph line. I had the outline I needed from pipephil for the pipe but wanted more (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Savinelli). I quote in part from the article on that site.

While Savinelli’s serially produced pipes account for around 98% of annual production, the marque also creates a number of artisanal, handmade pieces as well. The Autographs, the Creativity line, and the Mr. A. line are all the result of Savinelli’s unique handmade process, with the Autographs reflecting the larger Freehand aesthetic, the Creativity line delving into more complex hand carving, and the Mr. A. line sidestepping the standard shape chart for remarkable and unusual pipes.

All of the briar for Savinelli’s Autographs and other freehand pipes is sourced specifically for those pieces. While the majority of the marque’s serial production is made from extra grade ebauchon blocks, Savinelli keeps a separate supply of Extra Extra plateau blocks for Freehands. This variety of briar is much larger, and of a higher quality, which explains why so many Autographs and Savinelli handmades are naturally larger designs.

These handmade pieces are shaped much like traditional Danish Freehands: they are shaped first and drilled second. Using this method, Savinelli’s team of artisans is able to showcase their own creativity, as it maximizes flexibility and facilitates a more grain-centric approach to shaping. The resulting Freehand designs are at once both a departure from the marque’s classical standard shapes, yet very much still “Savinelli” in their nature—i.e. proportioned so that the bowl is the visual focus when viewed from the profile, juxtaposed by the comparatively trim lines of the shank and stem. To provide a little more insight into the differences between Savinelli’s standard production and freehand lines, Luisa Bozzetti comments:

“When we choose to make Freehand pipes we must stop production on the standard shapes. The process for Freehands is much more involved and takes much more time. Finding the best people from the production line and pulling them to make Freehands is challenging since it’s not an assembly line, but rather a one or two man operation.

After the rough shaping of the stummel, we must get together and brainstorm which style of stem will be paired before the pipe can be finished since we do not use pre-shaped stems. All accents and stems for the Freehands are cut from rod here in the factory. A lot of care goes into the few pieces lucky enough to make the cut; to end up with a certain number of Autographs, for instance, means that many, many more will be made, and only the few will be selected.”

The quality control process for Savinelli handmades is even more rigorous than that employed in the standard lineup. Many blocks are started and later discarded because of pits or defects. While Savinelli’s briar sourcing is a constant process, working with some of Italy’s top cutters to ensure only the finest and most suitable blocks make their way to the factory, it’s impossible to source plateau briar that’s completely free from flaws. That’s just nature. Savinelli creates the standard for quality by working through the rough (a very high-quality rough, mind you) to find that shining diamond with the potential to become a Savinelli handmade.

It looks like the Autograph 4 I am working is pretty high in the hierarchy of the line. Like other autographs I have worked on in the past this one has a unique twist to the stem.

I started my work on the pipe by reaming it with a PipNet pipe reamer and got rid of the cake. I cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe knife. I then sanded the walls smooth and wiped it down with a cotton pad so that I could see the walls of the bowl and assess for damage. I scraped the mortise walls with a pen knife and was able to remove a lot of tarry/oily buildup. Once I had scraped it clean, I scrubbed the internals of the shank, mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and alcohol. It smelled considerably cleaner at this point in the process. I scrubbed the exterior with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to get into the grooves and valleys of the sandblast. I worked on the rim top and edges of the bowl to remove some of the tars and darkening there. I rinsed the pipe under warm water. He dried it off with a cloth and then let it air dry. I decided to address the damage to the inner edge of the rim. I used a wooden ball and a piece of 220 grit sand paper to give the inner edge a slight bevel to take care of the damage and burn marks. I cleaned it up lightly with a folded piece of 220 grit to smooth out the notches from the reaming work done before it arrived here. I was able to minimize the damaged area. Before I called it a night I stuffed the bowl with some cotton bolls, plugged the shank end and filled it with 99% isopropyl alcohol to leach out the oils and tars in the bowl and shank that gave it a bit of a funky smell. I set it aside for the night to do its magic. When I came back to the work table in the morning the cotton had darkened all the way down the bowl and the plug. The pipe smelled considerably better.I ran some pipe cleaners through the shank and dried the bowl edges. I used a black stain pen to stain the inner edge of the bowl to blend it into the bowl and give definition to the rim top. I like the way this looks on a cleaned pipe.I polished the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. The grain really began to pop and stand out on the polished briar. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar with my finger tips and a horsehair shoe brush. 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 to address the stem issues. I sanded out the tooth marks and chatter on the acrylic stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the stem. I polished out the scratching and marks left behind from the 220 grit sandpaper by wet sanding it with a 600 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the acrylic with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. This Savinelli Autograph 4 Sitter with a Fancy Acrylic Stem has a beautiful sandblast finish around the bowl and shank and a smooth rim top that has some great grain. The polished light briar highlights some great grain around the pipe. The polished black acrylic fancy stem adds to the mix. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel being careful to not buff the stamping. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Savinelli Autograph 4 Sitter is quite nice and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches x 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. The weight of the pipe is 2.43 ounces/70 grams. I will be boxing it up and shipping it to its current steward to enjoy and care for. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe.

Refurbishing a Steward’s First Pipe —

The choice of a first pipe is an important decision. As a new pipe smoker, finding the perfect first pipe is often a balancing act between cost and quality, not to mention finding a pipe shape that speaks to you, is comfortable to hold and clench, and that is neither too large nor too small. […]

Refurbishing a Steward’s First Pipe —

This restoration by Charles Lemon caught my eye as I also just finished two Gulden Dansk pipes for a fellow here in BC. They are well made pipes and clean up looking very good. Great job on the restem.