Blog by Steve Laug
Jeff purchased this pipe on 05/01/2022 at an antique mall in Bozeman, Montana, USA. It is hard smoked freehand with a smooth inward bevel to the rim and a plateau strip left around the outer edge of the bowl. The shank end is tapered at an angle and is smooth. The pipe is stamped on the underside of the shank and reads Wiley[over] Patina [over] U.S.A. [over] 7. The orange/amber acrylic stem has no stamp on it and is a fancy turned piece that appears to me to be a replacement. It will need to be fitted to the shank with more of a taper but it is okay. There was a heavy cake in the bowl and lava overflowing onto the beveled rim top and plateau outer edge. The finish showed some nice grain around the bowl and shank even through the grime that was ground into it. The stem was had some shine that seems to stay with acrylic even when worn. It was dirty and there were tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem ahead of the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his clean up work. He took photos of the rim and bowl to give a sense of what he was dealing with. He also took photos of the stem surfaces to show the condition of the stem when it arrived. The photos of the sides and heel of the bowl show beautiful carving around the bowl and shank sides. There is some were and roughness on the ridges on the heel of the bowl.The brown stain adds depth finish on the pipe. Even under the grime it is a unique piece. He also took photos of the stamped name on the underside of shank. It reads as noted above. I looked on my usual sites for information on the brand. I turned first to Pipephil’s site and did not find a listing for the brand. That is unusual. I then turned to Pipedia to see what was available there (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Wiley). I quote from that article below:
Having been apprenticed in wood carving, Randy Wiley fell into pipe making in the 1970s as a means to follow to his passion. At the age of 25, and after two years with a Florida based pipe manufacturer, Wiley struck out on his own and has since become one of the most recognizable craftsmen in American pipe making.
Randy Wiley is a distinctive maker as he never sandblasts his work and remains one of the few makers that will oil-cure a pipe. He currently produces around 1000 pipes annually, and the majority are smooth or completely rusticated. Sometimes he will carve a feather over a sandpit, which allows the beautiful grain to not be covered in texture. Aside from his shallow rusticated pieces (done with a rotary tool), Randy also makes some craggy carved pieces for his Old Oak line. All of his stems are made from acrylic, and many of them are very colorful, and twisted by design. Courtesy, Smokingpipes.com
Jeff cleaned up the pipe for me. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to clean off the grime off the finish and the heavy overflow of lava on the rim top. The cleaning had removed some of the black stain on the rim top. He cleaned up the internals of the shank, mortise and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove all of the oils and tars in the pipe. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and was able to remove much of the oxidation. When it arrived here in Vancouver it was a clean pipe and I knew what I had to work with. I took photos of it before I started my part of the restoration. I took photos of the rim top and the stem to show their condition once it arrived in Canada. Jeff was able to clean up the incredibly thick cake and lava overflow that was shown in the rim and bowl photos above. The plateau outer edge and the beveled inner edge of the rim look quite good. He was also able to get rid of the grime and grit in the surface of the briar. There was still some darkening on the rim bevel that I would need to remove. The stem looked better, though there was staining in the airway in the stem. The tenon and the cone shaped end of the stem has some file marks on it and the tenon was not straight. There were tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.I have noticed on some repairs that folks don’t pay much attention to the stamping when they are restoring a pipe. To me this is a critical part of the restoration to leave undamaged as it is the only link we have to who made the pipe. I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank to show that it was readable and undamaged by the cleanup work.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the parts to give a sense of what the pipe looks like.I started my work on the inside beveled edge and rim top with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove that darkening on the right front and the back inner edge. It looked much better.I wiped the bowl down with isopropyl alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the dust and debris as well as the spotty stain. I started polishing the briar with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. The bowl began to take on a rich shine and grain was beginning to stand out. I wet sanded with all of the pads and wiped the bowl down after each pad with a soft cloth. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the finish on the bowl and shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I worked it in with my fingers to get it into the briar. I used a horsehair shoe brush to work it into the plateau top. I let it sit for 10 minutes then I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. It is a beautiful bowl. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem at this point in the process. I built up the uneven tenon surface with clear CA glue to straighten the tenon out. Once the repair cured I used a small file to flatten the repairs and reshape the tenon. I sanded the repairs with a folded pieces of 220 to remove the marks and the light brown colouration on the stem surface. I sanded them with 600 grit sandpaper until the marks were gone and the oxidation was gone. 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 damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I finished by wiping the stem down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the Randy Wiley Patina 7 Freehand pipe and took the pipe to the buffer. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish the briar and the acrylic. Blue Diamond does a great job on the smaller scratches that remain in both. I gave the bowl and the stem several 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 pipe polished up really nicely with a great contrasting stain look to the briar. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is a beautiful Randy Wiley Patina Freehand – the fancy turned acrylic stem and plateau rim top and smooth shank end give the pipe a great look. The polished golden acrylic stem looks really good with the rich browns standing out in the grain. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 ¼ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.83 ounces/52 grams. This is another pipe that I will be putting on the rebornpipes online store in the American Pipe Makers and Pipemaking Companies Section shortly, if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this beauty!