Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe I am working on was purchased on 12/13/2022 as part of a group of pipes from a fellow in Copenhagen, Denmark. This was another horribly tired and dirty pipe with a lot of wear and tear and obviously it had been someone’s favourite smoker. The pipe has an identifying silver plate on the topside of the shank that reads Stanwell [over] 1985. There was no other stamping on the shank and the silver plate confirmed for me that it was a Stanwell Pipe of the Year. The dirty sandblast finish on this was worn and tired looking. There were tars and oils ground into the surface of the briar. The shank had a hairline crack on the left side of the top that would need to be dealt with. The sandblast showed some nice grain around the bowl and shank and though it was a little dirty it was a nice looking pipe. The bowl had a thick cake that flowed over the top of the lightly crowned rim in a thick coat of a lava and showed potential damage on the top and the inner edge. The stem was a black vulcanite saddle stem with a silver Crown S on the topside of the saddle. It had some deep and wide tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. There was also some oxidation and calcification on both sides of the stem. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his clean up work. He took photos of the rim and bowl to show the heavy cake and thick 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. The photos of the sides and heel of the bowls show beautiful grain around the bowl and shank sides. The sandblast is nicely done and highlights the grain. The brown stain on the briar adds depth finish on the pipe and makes the grain really stand out. It shows some promise. He also took a photo of the stamped silver plate on the left underside of the shanks. It reads as noted above. I have also boxed the hairline crack on the top of the shank in red in the photo below.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 incredibly thick cake and the lava overflow that was shown in the rim and bowl photos above. The rim top showed damage on the surface and the inner edge of the bowl. He was also able to get rid of the grime and grit in the surface of the briar around the sandblast. The second photo of the three below shows the crack in the shank (once again boxed in red). The stem looked better, though there were deep tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.I took a photo of the stamping on the silver plate on the topside 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 inner edge and rim top with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove that damage on the rim top and bring the inner edge back into round. It looked much better. I repaired the hairline crack in the shank with a dab of clear CA glue. I clamped the shank together to let the repair cure. Once it had cured I sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend in the repair. It looked much better. To stabilize it further I will need to put a thin band on the shank end so that with the addition and removal of the stem does not rebreak the crack.I started polishing the rim top and smooth portions of the briar (including the repaired hairline crack) 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 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 sand blast areas. 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. To stabilize the crack further and stop it from reoccurring each time the stem was removed I banded it. I had a band that would work on the shank but it needed to be reduced by half to get the depth more aesthetically pleasing to my eye. I used a coarse 180 grit sanding pad and worked the band against it until I have removed approximately half of the width. I heated it with a lighter and pressed it on the shank. The fit was perfect and to me it looked very good. I polished the band with a jeweler’s cloth to protect and give it a shine. I gave it another coat of Restoration Balm and buffed it off with a clean cloth. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I filled in the deep tooth marks with clear CA glue. I flattened the repairs with a small file. And sanded the smooth with 220 grit. I started polishing the whole stem with 600 grit sandpaper until the sanding marks were 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 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 Pipe of the Year 1985 Dublin pipe and took the pipe to the buffer. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish the briar and the vulcanite stem. 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 finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is a beautiful Stanwell POY 1985 – the vulcanite saddle stem and crowned 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 inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.38 ounces/39 grams. This pipe has already been spoken for as an Anniversary present. It will soon be going to the fellow who ordered it. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this beauty!