Daily Archives: February 13, 2023

Discovering Beauty under the grime on a Stanwell Sterling Silver Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I am working on was purchased on 01/10/2023 as part of another group of pipes from a fellow in Copenhagen, Denmark. This was another tired and dirty pipe that obviously had been someone’s favourite smoker. The pipe has no stampings on the shank sides. The silver band is stamped Stanwell Sterling. The dark brown sandblast finish was dirty and tired looking but showed some great grain in the blast. There were tars and oils ground into the surface of the briar. The silver band on the shank was original and was stamped Sterling [over] Silver. The bowl had a thick cake that flowed over the top of the rim in a thick coat of a lava in the sandblast top. The stem was a black vulcanite taper stem with a silver Crown S on the left side. It was oxidized, calcified and had tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. There was also a small bite through on the top and underside ahead of the button. I think it would clean up to be a beautiful pipe. Jeff took photos of the pipes before he started his clean up work.  He took photos of the rim and bowl to show the moderate cake and lava coat covering the rim top. It really was filthy and a mess. He also took photos of the stem surfaces to show its overall condition when it arrived. You can see the two bite throughs on both sides of the stem. The photos of the sides and heel of the bowls show beautiful grain in the sandblast around the bowl and shank sides. The rich brown stains highlights the grain and adds depth to the finish. It shows some promise. He also took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the Sterling Silver Band and a photo of the inlaid Crown Silver S on the left side of the stem. It read as noted above. 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 the thick coat 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, calcification. 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 a photo of the rim top and the stem to show their condition once it arrived in Canada. Jeff was able to clean up the cake and the lava overflow that was shown in the rim and bowl photos above. The rim top and the inner edge of the bowl was in surprisingly good condition. He was also able to get rid of the grime and grit in the surface of the briar around the sandblast. The stem looked better, though there were deep tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button as well as a small bite through on each side ahead of the button. I took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the Sterling Band. It was clear and readable as noted above.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 bowl by going over the sandblasted rim top with a brass bristle wire brush. It removed the remaining dust and debris from the sandblast. It gave the finish a better and cleaner look. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean them. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I worked it in with my fingers to get it into the briar. 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 aside the bowl and turned my attention to the damage on the stem. I took a photo of the bite through on the top and underside of the stem just ahead of the button. You can see the small bite through on the top of the stem and the larger hole in the underside of the stem. They will need to be filled in and smoothed out and reshaped.I greased a folded pipe cleaner with Vaseline Petroleum Jelly and inserted it into the airway in the button. I filled in the holes on both sides with black CA glue and set it aside for the repairs to cure.I removed the pipe cleaner from the airway and set aside the stem to let the repairs cure. Once they cured, I flattened them out with a flat file and then sanded them with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the stem. I started the polishing with 600 grit wet dry sandpaper. 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 gave it a further polish with Before & After Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. 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 Stanwell Sterling Sandblast Billiard 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. Considering the mess the pipe was when we received it I am amazed at how well it turned out. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is a beautiful Stanwell Sterling Sandblast Billiard – the vulcanite taper stem and rim top and sandblast finish combine to give the pipe a great look. The polished black, vulcanite stem looks really good with the rich browns standing out in the sandblast. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.23 ounces/36 grams. This is another pipe that I will be putting on the rebornpipes online store in the Danish Pipe 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!