Daily Archives: May 15, 2023

Restoring an interesting Motorist Patent Capped Straight Bulldog

Blog by Steve Laug

Once again I want to take you through my process of working on each pipe that we purchase. Jeff has set up a spread sheet to track where the pipe came from, the date of purchase and what we paid for it so that we know what we have invested in the pipe before we even work on it. This takes a lot of the guess work out of the process. This particular pipe was purchased on 05/01/2022 from a seller in Glendale, California, USA. I also want you to understand why we take the photos we do. If you have followed for a while then you will see the familiar pattern of the photos in the before and midstream process of working on a pipe. It is not accidental as the photos have been taken to help me make an assessment of the pipe Jeff sees before he starts his clean up work. We do this to record the condition that the pipe when received it and assess the work needed to be done. When I look at these photos this is what I see.

  1. The pipe has the classic straight Bulldog shape but the rest of the details are odd. Like the Bulldog cap this is tapered and unscrews from the bowl. It also has twin holes coming out of the front of the bowl toward the bottom just above the heel.
  2. The finish is dirty and there is dust, grime and grit ground into the smooth finish. The screw on rim top is also dirty on the inside.
  3. The rim top has lava on the top and edges under the screw on rim cap. It does not appear that there is any damage to the top or the edges.
  4. The bowl has a cake on the walls that hides the condition of the interior walls and edges. The top looks very good under the grime.
  5. The vulcanite stem is in excellent condition – dirty and has light tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of button. There is a circle M logo on the left top side of the diamond stem.

Overall my impressions of this pipe is that it is a great looking straight Bulldog with a mix of grain around the bowl and shank that once cleaned up will be another pretty pipe.Jeff took close up photos so that I could have a clearer picture of the condition of the bowl, rim edges and top. The photos show the cap in place and removed from the rim top. The photos confirm my assessment above. The cake in the bowl is quite thick. The rim top under the cap and the cap itself has lava, grime and debris covering it – heavier toward the back. The edges are hard to assess well at this time but they look to be in decent condition. This is what I look for when assessing a pipe. It is unclear if there is any burn damage at this point. I look forward to viewing it in person after the clean up work. The photos of the vulcanite stem surface from various angles confirm my assessment of its condition. You can see the grime on the stem in the first photo below. The stem is quite dirty but the fit of the stem to the shank is good. There is no logo on the stem so it makes me wonder if the stem is a replacement. Jeff also took photos of the chipped tenon end at the stepped down portion of the stem. It was missing a chunk of vulcanite on one side.Instead of telling you what I see in the next photos of the sides of the bowl and the heel I want to hear from you. Tell me what you see? What does the finish look like to you? Are there any visible problems or issues that stand out to you? Are the cracks or scratches in the valleys of the rustication or the high spots? Are there visible flaws or fissures in the briar? How random does the deep rustication look? Is there a pattern to it? Any visible issues on the heel of the bowl? These questions should help you to see what I am looking for when I see these photos.   He took photos of the stamping on the sides of the diamond shank. It bears stamping Motorist on the left side and on the right side it reads PATENT. On the right underside it reads Italy. What stands out for you in the photos of the stamping? What do you look for in the stamping? It is dirty but what do you see underneath the grime on the surface of the briar?  If you have been following the blog for any length of time you have come to know that when I am working on interesting old pipes (even sometimes those not so interesting) I like to know a bit about the background of the brand. I like to “meet” the carver to get a feel for their work and style.

I did a quick Google search and found the only listing was to a previous blog that I had written on a ¼ bent Bulldog (https://rebornpipes.com/tag/motorist-italian-patent-pipes/). I quote what I had found previously below.

I can find no information on the make of the brand but it is possible that it was made in Italy for either Wally Frank or Mastercraft, both had a broad reach of makers that they imported. I am not sure it will ever become clear who made the pipe but it is an interesting piece of pipe history that is well worth restoring.

I also found a listing on Worthpoint (https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/vtg-estate-motorist-bent-bulldog-495791347) for another Bent Bulldog like the one I had. This is how the seller described it:

We have a rare vtg estate motorist patented design Bent Bulldog smoking briar pipe with a screw off top cap. Pipe is in good vintage condition. Some nicks in cap. Very light teeth marks. Appears lightly smoked. Very unique wind & spark proof design. Also has two cooling vents that exit through undercarriage of bowl.

Now it was time to work on the pipe.

I am sure many of you will shake your head and ask maybe even out loud, “Why is he including this again?” However, please remember that the point of these blogs is not to wow your with the work or make you shake your heads but I want you to know the details of the work we do so you can do your own. Back in 2020 Jeff wrote a blog about his cleaning process. I am including a link to that now so you can see what I mean about his process. Do not skip it! Give it a read (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/20/got-a-filthy-estate-pipe-that-you-need-to-clean/). Here is the introduction to that blog and it is very true even to this day.

Several have asked about Jeff’s cleaning regimen as I generally summarize it in the blogs that I post rather than give a detailed procedure. I have had the question asked enough that I asked Jeff to put together this blog so that you can get a clear picture of the process he uses. Like everything else in our hobby, people have different methods they swear by. Some may question the method and that is fine. But it works very well for us and has for many years. Some of his steps may surprise you but I know that when I get the pipes from him for my part of the restoration they are impeccably clean and sanitized. I have come to appreciate the thoroughness of the process he has developed because I really like working on clean pipe!

For the benefit of some of you who may be unfamiliar with some of the products he uses I have included photos of three of the items that Jeff mentions in his list. This will make it easier for recognition. These three are definitely North American Products so you will need to find suitable replacements or order these directly on Amazon. The makeup pads are fairly universal as we were able to pick some up in India when we were with Paresh and his family.

In the blog itself he breaks his process down into two parts – cleaning the stem and cleaning the bowl. Each one has a large number of steps that he methodically does every time. I know because I have watched him do the work and I have seen the pipes after his work on them. He followed this process step by step and when the pipe got to me it was spotlessly clean and ready for my work. The inside of the stem, shank and bowl were clean and to me that is an amazing gift as it means that my work on this end is with a clean pipe! I cannot tell you how much difference that makes for my work.

  1. The pipe has the classic straight Bulldog shape but the rest of the details are odd. Like the Bulldog cap this is tapered and unscrews from the bowl. It also has twin holes coming out of the front of the bowl toward the bottom just above the heel.
  2. The finish is clean and the grime and grit have been removed from the finish on the bowl and the screw on rim cap. It is very clean on the inside of the cap and the rim top.
  3. The lava, grime and dust on the rim top has been removed and it has revealed that the inner edge is clean and burn free. The outer edge of the bowl is also in good condition. The rim cap looks very good.
  4. With the cake reamed out the walls of the bowl are clean and they look very good with no checking or burn damage to the walls.
  5. The vulcanite stem is in excellent condition – it is clean and has light tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of button. The fit of the stem to the shank looks good. The circle M logo stem is faint but readable. There is a chipped end on the tenon extension.

Hopefully the steps above show you both what I look for when I go over the pipe when I bring it to the work table and also what I see when I look at the pipe in my hands. They also clearly spell out a restoration plan in short form. My work is clear and addressing it will be the next steps. I took photos of the whole pipe to give you a picture of what I see when I have it on the table. This is important to me in that it also shows that there was no damage done during the clean up work or the transit of the pipe from Idaho to here in Vancouver. I carefully went over the bowl and rim top to get a sense of what is happening there. In this case once the rim cap was clean it showed only some light scratches in the finish. I also go over the stem carefully. The fit to the shank is snug and the transitions are smooth. There were some light tooth marks and chatter on the surface of the stem and the button. I took photos of the rim cap and stem sides to show as best as I can what I see when I look at them. I always check to make sure that the clean up work did not damage the stamping on the shank sides in any way. It is in excellent condition and is very clear and readable. You can also see the misfit stem in the first photo. I love just looking at the lay of the pipe and the proportion of the hand made pipes. I like to remove the stem from the shank to get a sense of what was in the mind of the pipe maker when he crafted the pipe. The photo shows its beauty in flow and shape.   I removed the rim cap from the bowl and took photos of the top of the bowl with the ventilator holes and the clean bowl. It is a nice looking pipe. I also took photos of the bowl sides and the exit of the cooling/ventilator holes on the front heel of the bowl.Now it was time to start working on the pipe. I wiped down the exterior of the pipe and the threads, rim top on the inside and the inside of the rim cap with isopropyl alcohol on a cotton pad and folded pipe cleaner to remove the shiny remnants of the finish and the debris in the threads on the rim top and inside of the cap as well as the inside of the cap. It looked better when it was finished.  I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads. I choose to dry sand the briar rather than wet sand it. Again it is a matter of personal preference. I prefer to use the pads dry and find they work very well on the briar. I sand with each pad (9 in total) and group them by threes for ease of reference. I wipe the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding debris and check the briar. I love seeing the developing shine on the briar as I move through the pads which is why I include so many photos of this step.  I rub down the bowl and shank with Before & After Restoration Balm. It is a paste/balm that is rubbed into the surface of the briar and the plateau. The product works to deep clean the nooks and crannies of finish, enliven and protect the briar. I worked it into the briar with my finger tips and into the rustication with a horse hair shoe brush. I let it sit for 10 minutes then wiped it off with a soft cloth then buffed it with a cotton cloth. The briar really began to have a deep shine in the briar and the grain shone through. The photos I took of the bowl at this point mark the progress in the restoration. It is a gorgeous pipe.  I set the bowl aside and turn to work on the stem. I decided to shorten the extension or step down on the tenon to remove the damaged or chipped portion. I used a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit sanding pads and water to wet sand the stem. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil on a cotton rag after each sanding pads. But I find it does two things – first it gives some protection to the stem from oxidation and second it give the sanding pads bite in the polishing process. After finishing with the micromesh pads I rub the stem down with Before & After Fine and Extra Fine stem polish as it seems to really remove the fine scratches in the vulcanite. I rub the Fine Polish on the stem and wipe it off with a paper towel and then repeat the process with the Extra Fine polish. I finish the polishing of the stem down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set the stem aside to let the oil absorb. This process gives the stem a shine and also a bit of protection. The final steps in my process involve using the buffer. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the light scratches in the acrylic. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I have found that I can get a deeper shine if I follow up the wax buff with a buff with a clean buffing pad. It works to raise the shine and then I hand buff with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. It is always fun for me to see what the polished bowl looks like with the polished stem. It really is a nice pipe. The mix of smooth and rusticated finishes around the bowl sides and shank looks great with the rich black and brown stains. This Italian Made Motorist Patent Straight Bulldog feels great in my hand. It is a well balanced pipe. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.23 ounces/35 grams. It is a beautiful pipe will be joining my collection of odd pipes. It is one that I will enjoy a bowl in one day very soon. It should be a great smoking pipe.

Hopefully the style of writing of this blog is helpful to you in some way. In it I wanted to show both what I am looking for and how I move forward in addressing what I see when work on a pipe. Let me know if it is helpful to you. It is probably the most straightforward detailed description of my work process that I have done. As always I encourage your questions and comments as you read the blog. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipe men and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of those who follow us.