Author Archives: rebornpipes

Restoring a Beautifully Grained Leonard Payne Original Apple with a Unique Stem


Blog by Steve Laug

After brief foray into restoring a couple of other pipes I am back to Bob Kerr’s estate (his photo is to the left). If you have not “met” the man and would like to read a bit of the history of the pipeman, his daughter has written a great tribute that is worth a read. Because I have included it in over 60 restorations to date I thought that I would leave it out this time. Be sure to check out some of the recent Dunhill restoration blog (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/01/restoring-the-last-of-bob-kerrs-dunhills-a-1962-dunhill-bruyere-656-f-t-bent-billiard/).

Bob Kerr seemed to enjoy collecting Canadian pipes as much as I do. He had quite a few Canadian made pipes including some nice older Brigham pipes and some specific pipes made by Peterson’s of Dublin for import into Canada. When I was cataloging Bob Kerr’s Estate and came across this pipe I examined it with a light and lens and could read the stamping. On the left side of the shank it read Leonard Payne in his characteristic looped signature. Under that it was stamped Original. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Made in Canada. The finish on the bowl was dirty but undamaged. There was some lava build up on the front edge of the rim top. There was darkening around the inner edge of the bowl and there was some damage on the inner edge. The bowl had a thick cake on the walls and there were shards of tobacco stuck in the cake. The stem was lightly oxidized and there was some tooth chatter on the top and underside of the button. The button end of the stem was quite unique. There was an airway coming out of either side of the stem and a round slot in the end of the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started the cleanup work. Jeff took photos of the rim top and bowl to show its condition. The rim top was covered with a coat of thick lava that overflowed the bowl. It was primarily on the front side of the bowl. The bowl itself had a thick cake with flecks of tobacco stuck in the cake on the sides. Jeff took photos of the sides of the bowl to give a better feel for the beautiful grain around the sides and heel of the bowl. It is truly a beautiful pipe. He took a photo of the left and right sides of the shank. The stamping is clear and reads as noted above. The tapered stem has a capital ‘P” on the left side.The stem was lightly oxidized and seemed to be high quality vulcanite. There were no tooth marks or chatter which was unusual for Bob’s pipes. It is a unique stem in that there was an airway exiting on both sides of the stem at the button. The main slot on the button end was an oval hole so in essence the stem seemed to introduce air from the sides to the main airway to deliver a cool smoke. I turned to a previous blog that I had written on the first Leonard Payne pipe that I worked on to gather the information on the brand and remind myself of the background of this pipe. Here is the link (https://rebornpipes.com/2013/11/16/a-pipe-maker-i-had-never-heard-of-leonard-payne-pipes/). I quote the pertinent parts of that blog below:

The stamping was Leonard Payne on the left side of the shank and Made in Canada on the right side. The stem bears a green dot in the centre of a white circle on the left side of the stem. I decided to do a bit of research on the web and found the following advertisement that highlighted the pipes. Further digging with Google came up with this short note from alt.smokers.pipes forum. It was written by Mike Glukler of Briar Blues. I quote it below in full. (https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/alt.smokers.pipes/RrICLiVgE2o) “Leonard Payne was based in B.C. for many years. He came to Canada from England. He had shops in Surrey, B.C. and Kelowna, B.C.Interesting fellow. Gruff as the day is long. When you bought a pipe it was handed to you in a paper bag. No sock, no box. Most of his pipes carried a “carburetor” system at the shank / stem junction.Another Payne idea was his shanks. Almost all his pipes were two pieces. He’d turn the bowl and shank, then cut off the shank and reattach with glue (not always with the same piece of briar, so many did not match grains). His thinking was that the shank being the weakest link, if cut and glued would never break and thus “correcting”the weakest link.You may find his pipes on E-Bay on occasion listed as a Len Cayne. The P in his stamping looks more like a fancy upper case C.”

Turning now to the restoration of this beautifully grained Leonard Payne smooth apple. Jeff cleaned this filthy pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was a real mess and I was looking forward to seeing what he had done with this one when I took it out of his box. It looked amazing and CLEAN and other than the stem work needing very little effort on my part. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks good with great looking grain around the bowl and shank. The rim top and front of the bowl was severely damaged with burns. The condition of the inner and outer edges was rough. The stem looked a lot better but damage was evident on the button. Jeff soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. The pipe was ready for me to carry on the next part of the process.  I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show how well it had cleaned up. The rim top was clean and undamaged.  The inner edge had some damage that left it rough and slightly out of round. The outer edge of the bowl looked good.  I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks on the stem and the button surface.  The last photo shows the twin bore stem with the twin airways coming out in the button.I took a photo of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It reads Leonard Payne with a curled L and P and under that is stamped Original. There is a P stamped on the left side of the taper. The right side of the shank reads Made in Canada.I decided to start my restoration work on this one by dealing with the rough inner edge of the bowl. The rest of the pipe looked very good and some polishing would give it some depth and life. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give the inner edge a light bevel and bring the bowl back to round.I wet sanded with 1500-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads to polish the bowl. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the dust and debris from sanding. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to get it deep in the briar. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded both sides of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the remaining oxidation. I followed that by sanding them with a folded piece of 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to begin the polishing.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I wiped the stem down with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil to preserve and protect the stem. I am so glad that I went back to work on a pipe that Jeff had cleaned up for me. It certainly makes things go faster and easier for me. I put the stem back on the bowl and polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I 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 bowl looks really good. The contrast between the browns of the briar and the polished black vulcanite stem work very well. The pipe feels great in my hand and I am sure that it will feel even better radiating the heat of a good smoke. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was in when I received it from Bob’s estate. Have a look at it with the finished photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. A fellow in Eastern Canada sent me a message on Facebook saying he was looking for a Leonard Payne pipe and wondering if I had one. This was one of those times when I could say YES. I am looking forward to what he thinks of his “new” pipe. I think he will enjoy it for many years to come and perhaps it will pass to the next pipeman who will hold it in trust. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog.

Cleaning up a Lightly Smoked Savinelli St. Nicholas 2017 320KS


Blog by Steve Laug

Jeff picked this beautiful 2017 Christmas pipe from an antique dealer in Utah. It is stamped Savinelli St. Nicolas on the heel of the bowl. That is followed by the Savinell ‘S’ Shield logo and the shape number 320KS over Italy. It is an attractive pipe with a multi-hued brown stain that highlights the nooks and crannies of the rustication. It has a white acrylic stem with twin red bands around it at the stem shank union. The pipe was lightly smoked with some debris in the bowl but there was no real cake in the bowl. The rim top had some dust and debris in the crevices of the finish but no tars or lava overflow. The stem had some tars and oils in the airway but it was also clean. There was light tooth chatter on the stem just ahead of the button on both sides.

I did a quick online search to see what information was available on the pipe. I found out on the Pipes & Cigars Website (https://www.pipesandcigars.com/p/savinelli-saint-nicholas-2017-pipes/2005051/) that “Savinelli Saint Nicholas 2017 Pipes are Savinelli’s Holiday release for 2017, and are briars that should put you in the Christmas mood. The pebble rustication finished in deep red mated to a creamy white acrylic stem makes for a cheery appearance. Dual vivid red rings on the stem are truly eye-catching accents.” That certainly described the one that Jeff had found. Jeff took the following photos when he brought the pipe home to clean it.

I found another site selling the pipes that describes the Savinelli Saint Nicholas 2017 Pipes as: Savinelli’s Holiday release for 2017, and are briars that should put you in the Christmas mood. The pebble rustication finished in deep red mated to a creamy white acrylic stem makes for a cheery appearance. Dual vivid red rings on the stem are truly eye-catching accents. The stem will accept Savinelli 6mm balsa filters, and come with an adapter to convert it to an unfiltered pipe. Best of all, they’ve chosen to make this line in some of their most popular shapes, including the fashionable author-shaped 320 and 321. Get yourself ready for some great holiday experiences with Savinelli Saint Nicholas 2017 pipes! He took some close up photos of the bowl and rim to show the condition. You can see the dust in the finish and the debris and light carbon on the bowl walls. The bottom of the bowl was still raw briar so the pipe really had not been broken in.Jeff took photos of the bowl sides to show how good the finish looked on the entire pipe. You can see the rustication style and it is quite stunning. He took a photo of the stamping on the heel of the bowl. The stamping is very clear and reads as noted above. The white acrylic stem also has a golden Savinelli “S” Shield logo on the top of the taper.Jeff took photos of the stem surface at the button. You can see that it looks very good.The pipe came in its original box so Jeff took a photo of the labels on each end of the box. One end identifies it as a St. Nicholas 2017 6MM 320 Pipe. That means that it will fit the 6MM Balsa filters that Savinelli makes. Interestingly the pipe also came with the adapter in place that replaces the filters all together. The other end of the box has a bar code and reads Saint Nicholas 2017 (320KS) 6mm.I did a bit more investigation and found that Savinelli has issued St. Nicholas pipes in a wide variety of shapes from at least 2013 if not earlier. Each year the banding and the stem are different colours but they are an interesting take on colours.Jeff cleaned up the pipe and sent it my way in a recent box. I did not have to do too much work on it as he had done the cleanup before he sent it. He had reamed it with a PipNet Reamer and a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and removed the thin cake/coating on the walls. He scrubbed the interior with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners – working over the mortise and the airways in the shank and stem. He scrubbed down the exterior of the bowl and rim with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed it off. He dried it and buffed it with a soft cotton cloth. When I opened the box he sent I took out the red Savinelli box and opened it. It included a red pipe sock, a booklet, a package of Balsa filters, an instruction sheet on breaking the pipe in, a quality control tag and an Italian flag decal. The pipe was impeccably clean and ready for the next person to smoke. I gave it a light buff and took photos of the finished pipe. It really is a beauty. The finish was described above as a pebble finish and that is as good a description as I can find for it. The colours are a mix of various brown stains. The finish works really well with twin red banded white acrylic stem. It is a beautiful pipe. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5.28 in./134.11 mm, Weight: 2.60 oz./73.71 g, Bowl Height: 1.62 in./41.15 mm,    Chamber Depth: 1.31 in./33.27 mm, Chamber Diameter: 0.91 in./23.11 mm, Outside Diameter: 1.98 in./50.29 mm. This will be going on the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding this beauty to your rack. Thanks for reading.

 

 

Cleaning Up a Third Wrecked Pipe for a Fellow Pastor in Vancouver – A VB Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

Lately I am not taking on more work for repairs from email or online requests as I am just too busy. I still get the odd referral from the local cigar and pipe shop that I feel obligated to repair or restore. They tend to be spread out a bit so I can fit them in among the other work that I am doing for estates. Earlier this week I received a phone call from a fellow who had been referred to me by the shop. In our conversation he said that he had some pipes that the stems were all loose on and he wanted to know if I would be able to help him. I have learned to not make any arrangements until I have the pipes in hand and have examined them. He came over Friday afternoon to let me have a look at the pipes. He handed me a bag and inside there were four or five extra stems that he had brought for my use. There were also three old and tired pipes. They were in very rough shape. Two were apple shaped pipes stamped VB and one was a Croydon billiard. The stems were indeed loose on two of the pipes and stuck on the third pipe. The bowls were clogged with a thick cake to the degree that I could not even get my little finger in them. The stems had a thick layer of calcification and some tooth marks. They needed a lot of work.

We talked about the pipes and that he had held them for a long time hoping for a repair. He had spoken with the cigar and pipe shop and they had led him to me. Now he could actually have a hope of smoking them again. In the course of the 30 minute or so conversation he asked me what I do for work. I told him I was a Presbyterian minister working with an NGO dealing with the sexual exploitation and trafficking of women and children in 7 countries and 12 cities around the world. We talked about that a bit then he laughed and told me he was a United Church Minister who had taught in a variety of schools as well as pastored various parishes. We had a great conversation and I took the pipes and told him we would connect again once I had them finished.

The last pipe from the threesome is on the table now. It was probably in the best shape of the three pipes. It was in rough condition but not as bad as the previous two pipes. The bowl was clogged in precisely the same manner – a thick hard cake and no air would pass through the shank. The finish was shiny with varnish and worn and spotty with blackening on the right side of the bowl and both sides of the shank. It appeared to be an oily black not a burn. The rim top was a real mess with thick hard lava overflowing all around the bowl onto the rim. The stem was loose in the shank and was oxidized with calcification extending for about an inch up the stem from the button. In the midst of the calcification were the same deep tooth marks that appeared to be rounded rather than sharp so I may well be able to lift them out with a lighter flame. The slot in the button was plugged with a pin hole sized airway going through it. This third pipe is exactly like the others and I honestly do not know how this pipe was smoked the last time it was used. This was another of those pipes that I really dreaded working on because I just sensed that one thing would lead to another and the restoration would be almost endless. I took photos of the pipe before I started to record this anxious moment! I took some close up photos of the bowl and stem to show what I was dealing with on this pipe. You can see the density of the cake. It is not totally clear in the photo but the bowl is filled on the second half of the bowl and packed solid. This bowl appeared to be the only one that he had not reamed with a knife. The bowl was not slanted and the cake was evenly heavy all the way around the bowl. The rim top is rough as noted above and looking at the photos it too appears to have been used as a hammer. It is very rough to touch. The stem is a mess as can be seen. There is some oxidation and a thick coat of calcification from the button forward. That too is rock hard. Both the stem and the shank are plugged with no air passing through them.I took a photo of the stamping to show the brand on the pipe. It is a brand I have never heard of or worked on. There is little information available on it. It is stamped VB on the left side of the shank and Prima on the underside.Fortunately it was the same brand as the second pipe that I worked on. The only difference was the stain and the PRIMA stamping on the underside of the shank. I did some digging on the brand to see what I could find out with this additional information and there was nothing more to be found. I am including what I found on the previous VB pipe on Pipephil’s index page (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/index-en.html) I found my first and only clue. Under the section called logos with two letters I found the VB listed. It took me to a listing under Holiday pipes. There was no further information on the country of origin or on the maker other than Holiday. I checked on pipedia as well and there was nothing. I have included a copy of the screen capture of the listing on Pipedia (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-h3.html#holiday).After posting the first VB pipe I received two comments on the blog regarding the stamping. I really appreciate getting information like this so if you ever have info please do not hesitate to send it. Here is what the first commenter, Liebaart sent me:

The VB logo is from the Vinche Company, a Belgian distributor. See their page: https://www.v-k.be/documents/catalog.xml?lang=en&open=NAV%5CPIJPEN%5CVINCHE&from=0

The second commenter, Joris D. Sutter (may be the same gentleman) sent the same information. The V.B logo refers to the company Vinche, a Belgia distributor. Have a look at their website here : https://www.v-k.be/documents/catalog.xml?lang=en&open=NAV%5CPIJPEN%5CVINCHE&from=0

This was very definitive information for me. I now knew that the pipe was from the Vinche Company a Belgian distributor. I am still wondering though if the pipe was made in Holland as suggested previously… the new information does not negate that possibility!

Once again I could no longer postpone starting the work on this old pipe. It was the last of threesome and I could return them to the old pastor. And besides that this is what I do – I am a pipe refurbisher. It was time to get started on this beast. I learned from the previous two pipes in the lot that the cake and calcification were very hard. I dropped the stem in a Oxyclean bath and the bowl in an alcohol bath. I figured while I worked on other pipes the cake and calcification would begin to soften a bit.When the pipe and stem had been soaking for about 4 hours I pulled them out of the respective baths. The bowl looked better externally. The alcohol had cut the shiny finish and removed some of the grime on the bowl. The cake in the bowl was definitely softer so I think it would be easier to remove. The stem came out and the bath had removed much of the oxidation and calcification. It had also softened what remained. The photos below show what I saw.The alcohol bath had softened the hard cake enough that I could directly ream it with the PipNet pipe reamer using the third cutting head. It easily worked through the cake and I was able to take it back to the bare walls of the bowl. I wanted to check and see if there was damage like there had been on the other two pipes. The good news was it was free of damage. I cleaned up the edges and bottom of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I sanded the inside of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel to further smooth out the bowl. I broke through the clogged airway in the shank with a piece of stiff wire. I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper and removed the damaged areas on the surface. Once I had finished the rim top was flat now I could deal with the edges of the bowl. I filled in the damage on the edges of the bowl with clear Krazy Glue and Briar dust. Once it dried I cleaned up the topping once again and then used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the inner and outer edge of the bowl. With the bowl reamed and the rim top repaired and clean I decided to work on the exterior of the bowl. It was unbelievably grimy and sticky. I scrubbed it with a tooth brush and undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap. I rinsed it under warm running water to wash away the soap and debris. I repeated the process until the exterior was as clean as I was going to get it at this point. I dried it off with a cotton cloth and took photos to show the result. I cleaned the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I used the drill bit on a KleenReem tool to clean out the “crud” (hardened tars and oils) in the airway in the shank. I scraped the inside of the mortise with a pen knife. I opened the slot in the button with a dental pick and pushed pipe cleaners through the debris in the stem. I scraped away the majority of the calcification with the pen knife while I was cleaning the stem. Once I had finished – many pipe cleaners and cotton swabs later the airway was unobstructed to the bowl and the pipe had begun to smell clean. I sanded the exterior of the bowl and rim with a medium grit sanding sponge to remove the nicks, scratches and remnants of the original finish. I sanded the strange dark stains on the right side of the bowl and both sides of the shank at the same time. While I w not able to remove them I reduced them enough that I was hoping the stain I was going to use would cover them. I stained the bowl and shank with a Fiebing’s Tan Stain. It has a nice reddish tint to it that shows up once I have buffed and sanded it. I applied the stain, flamed it with a lighter and repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage. I would carry on with the bowl in the morning. The stain would dry overnight.In the morning when I got up I took photos of what the bowl looked like after the stain had cured all night. There are wet looking patches but they are not wet…just shiny! I wet sanded with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads to smooth out the finish on the bowl and prepare it for staining. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the dust and debris from sanding. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl, the rim top and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point. It looks much better than when I took it out of the bag. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the surface of the stem with the flame of a Bic light to raise the tooth marks. It raised them all some but two small dents remained on both sides of the stem.I filled in the remaining tooth marks with clear Krazy Glue and let it cure. I like the clear glue on this kind of stem as it dries clear and the black of the stem shows through making for a very good blend with the existing material.Once the repairs cured I reshaped the button edge with a needle file. I flattened out the repaired spots at the same time. The stem was beginning to take shape.I sanded the repaired areas on both sides of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the stem. I followed that by sanding them with a folded piece of 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to begin the polishing.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I wiped the stem down with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil to preserve and protect the stem. This was another challenging pipe to work on and I did the heavy work without Jeff. I put the stem back on the bowl and polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I 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 grain pops through enough to let us know it is there and my repairs to the rim of the bowl blend in really well. I am pleased with the look of the pipe. It really has exceeded my expectations for it when I first took it out of the bag it was in when dropped off. The contrast between the reddish, tan stain of the briar and the polished black vulcanite stem look very good together. The pipe feels great in my hand and I am sure that it will feel even better radiating the heat of a good smoke. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when I received it from the pipeman who dropped it off. 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 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I am looking forward to what the old clergyman thinks of his second “new” pipe. I think he will enjoy it for many years to come and perhaps it will pass to the next pipeman who will hold it in trust. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog.

A Button-Rebuild Helps Reclaim a Beat Up French GEFAPIP 500 26 S Bent Bulldog


Blog by Dal Stanton

I acquired this Gefapip 500 26 S Bent Bulldog in the acquisition of what I call the ‘St. Louis Lot of 26’.  My son, Josiah, found the Lot for sale in an antique shop in St. Louis where he was doing his Masters work on a counseling degree.  He texted to me in Bulgaria the details with the proposal that we split the cost of the purchase – that I would choose one of the pipes as a gift from him and the remainder would go into the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! online collection for pipe men and women to commission to benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – our work here in Bulgaria with women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  It was a win/win proposition and the HUGE Champion Churchwarden in the center became my gift from Josiah.  I made out like a bandit!Several of these pipes have already found their way to new stewards and another is on deck for restoration.  Seth saw the St. Claude produced Bent Bulldog (arrow in picture above) and sent me this note:

Hi Dal, first of all, I just want to say that I’ve been checking your website pretty frequently since you spoke at our church’s (Faith PCA in Cumberland, MD) mission conference a year or two ago. Since hearing about the work you and Beth do through the Daughters of Bulgaria, I knew I wanted to donate in some way and have been waiting to find the right pipe to get.

My wife and I visit many churches in the US when we’re there talking about our life and work in Bulgaria.  Seth was at one of these conferences and I love getting notes like this.  One of the pipes he had in mind was the Bulldog.  Later, Seth added another commission project to the GEFAPIP Bulldog, by asking me to fashion a new Churchwarden from a Sculpted Bull’s Head – I’m looking forward to this one!  His biggest challenge is the missing horns which I will need to fashion!I’m grateful for Seth’s patience in waiting for his commissions to reach the worktable.  Here are pictures of the Bent Bulldog.The provenance of the pipe is found on the lower left panel of the diamond shaped shank.  The nomenclature is GEFAPIP [over] 500 [over] FRANCE.  Running parallel to the shank facing to the right is what I’m assuming is a shape number: ’26 S’.  The ‘500’ and ‘FRANCE’ stampings are very thin, so I need to be careful to safeguard these.A quick look in Pipedia reveals pertinent information about the French origins of this GEFAPIP.  The information is brief but helpful.

Gefapip was a French brand from the St Claude region. Their products appeared in the 1979 Tinderbox catalog, with prices ranging from $17.50 to $62.50.

The following catalog page (1979 Catalog page, courtesy Doug Valitchka) was included with the text and it added helpful information that the GEFAPIP name was started by a group of master carvers in the St. Claude region.  The production line pictured in the catalog page are examples of shapes smoked in the Saint Claude region in the 1890s according to the caption.A visit to Pipephil.eu did not produce new information but gave some additional examples of GEFAPIP pipes. The stem stamping of a ‘modernistic’ pipe shape shown in the panel unfortunately is not visible on the Bent Bulldog’s stem.  I don’t know if it was ever there or was worn away over the years.Looking more closely at the Bulldog itself, reveals that it has been smoked hard and put out to pasture.  The rim has lava flow along with a thick carbon cake buildup in the chamber. The briar surface is covered with a darkened film of grime and oils that need cleaning.The stem is deeply oxidized to the point of what I believe is calcium buildup on the surface concentrated in the bit area.  The bit has been chewed severely with the upper button bite caving in on the slot.The underside also has a severe tooth hole almost puncturing through to the airway.  The entire button will need rebuilding to address these issues.The shank junction seems to be in good shape at first glance, but I see that former sanding and wear has created some shouldering on the corners of the stem facing.The restoration of the French GEFAPIP Bent Bulldog begins with the needy stem to address the deep oxidation.  I first clean the airway with pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%.Trying to get a jump on breaking up the oxidation in the vulcanite, I apply a 00-grade steel wool to the surface before putting the stem in a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer.  This seems to help.I’ve purchased a new batch of the Deoxidizer from Mark Hoover (lbepens1@gmail.com), but I wanted to give the current batch one more use before tossing it!  Generally, I like the Before & After Deoxidizer’s performance except when deep oxidation is present.  Consistently, I find that it doesn’t remove this deep oxidation but perhaps masks it and generally I find that following the Before & After Treatment sanding to remove the oxidation is needed.  The stem of the GEFAPIP Bulldog joins other pipes in the queue (Longchamp, Danish Freehand, Kaywoodie Standard, Italian Billiard and Brewster) for a soak in the Deoxidizer.I give the soak several hours, though I don’t believe the additional time adds more cleaning, and after fishing out the Bulldog’s stem and draining off the excess liquid, I run another pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95% through the airway to clean away the Deoxidizer.  I also rigorously wipe off additional oxidation raised through the soak process using cotton pads wetted with isopropyl 95%.After this, to help revitalize the vulcanite stem, I wipe paraffin oil on the stem.  Paraffin oil is a mineral oil I can find easily here in Bulgaria.With the help of the setting of the camera on my iPhone X, the remnant of deep oxidation remaining in the vulcanite is visible.  I will need to fully sand the stem to clean it thoroughly.Putting the stem aside for the time, I take a closer look at the stummel with a fresh picture of the chamber.  The picture below is difficult to discern the canonical shape of the chamber as the cake thickens toward the floor of the chamber.I also do a quick inventory of the briar surface in need of cleaning.  The dark spots of oils and grime hide the beautiful grain peeking in from underneath. After laying out paper towel to minimize cleanup, to clean out the carbon cake buildup in the chamber I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit to get down to the fresh briar.  I use two of the four blade heads available in the kit.  Then, switching to using the Savinelli Fitsall tool, scraping the chamber walls continue.  Finally, after wrapping a Sharpie Pen with 240 grade paper, the chamber is sanded to finish the reaming process.  After cleaning the chamber of carbon dust with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%, inspection of the chamber shows some minor heating veins, but healthy briar now has a fresh start.  I move on.Transitioning now to the external cleaning, undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap is used with a cotton pad to scrub the briar surface.  A dental probe is helpful in cleaning the pair of parallel dome grooves separating the upper and lower Bulldog bowl.  A brass bristled brush helps to clean the lava flow on the rim as well.  Brass bristles are used because they are gentler on the briar surface yet provide some abrasive cleaning action. From the cleaning on the worktable, the bowl is transferred to the kitchen sink and rinsed with hot water.  Using long shank brushes, the internal cleaning starts by using anti-oil liquid dish soap.  After a thorough rinsing, back on the worktable the results of the cleaning are examined.The surface cleaned up very well.  The dark spots that were especially evident at the shank/bowl junction were cleaned away very nicely.The rim shows continued darkening, but this will be addressed with some sanding to clean the briar.The nice quality of this block of briar is evidenced by the emerging grain and that I found only one, very small fill on the right upper shank panel.  There’s a slight ridge where the fill has shrunk after being wet, a normal phenomenon.  I may touch it up with some clear CA glue.Switching now to the internal cleaning proper, cotton buds and pipe cleaners are employed after wetted with isopropyl 95%.  The internals are grungy.  Using a smaller pointed dental spoon, I excavate huge amounts of tars and oils scraped off the mortise walls.  My first effort at pushing a pipe cleaner through the draft hole is frustrated by a blockage.  With the help of a stiff piece of wire, the blockage is pushed through – a hunk of gunk! With a lot of effort expended, the buds and pipe cleaners start emerging in a lighter state until I call it a truce!  I’ll continue the internal cleaning later with a kosher salt/alcohol soak.  The pictures show the first assault. I decide to move straight away to the kosher salt and alcohol soak.  I first twist a cotton ball by pulling and twisting it to form a ‘wick’ that is inserted into the mortise with the help of the stiff wire.  Then, after filling the bowl with kosher salt which leaves no aftertaste and placing the stummel in an egg carton for stability, using a large eye dropper, the chamber is filled with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes, the alcohol is absorbed into the pipe and I top it off again and set the stummel aside for several hours allowing the soak to do the work. Switching focus now to the stem, I take a few pictures to take a closer look.  With the residual oxidation remaining in the stem, it is a given that the stem will be fully sanded to address this.  The upper bit has compressions including damage to the button lip.  In the picture, after inserting a pipe cleaner, the split in the button becomes more visible.  The lower bit is so damaged that no amount of sanding will resolve these issues.  With the upper bit, I’ll first use the heating method to expand the vulcanite to lessen the amount of sanding needed.I note that the button doesn’t have a slot but simply an airway hole. To begin, I use a Bic lighter to paint the upper bit to lessen the severity of the compressions before rebuilding the button.  I take a picture to mark the start and another picture to show the progress.  The second picture does reveal that the vulcanite expanded some and this is good.Next, the entire button needs to be rebuilt using a mixture of activated charcoal and Extra Thick CA glue.  To begin, I wrap a piece of Scotch tape around the end of a pipe cleaner then rub Petroleum Jelly over the tape.  I then insert the pipe cleaner into the airway and position the tape so that it straddles the air hole in the button.  This is to guard the integrity of the airway so that the patch material doesn’t seal it.I then clean the upper- and lower-bit area with alcohol.With a plastic disk serving as a mixing pallet, scotch tape is used to help in the cleanup.  I mix on a non-porous surface to provide consistency in the way the CA glue mixes with the activated charcoal.  That is, I do not mix on card stock or something like this because it absorbs moisture out of the glue and causes the glue to behave less consistently while mixing.  I use an activated Charcoal Capsule to provide the charcoal – it is pure and is not lumpy.After removing the charcoal from the capsule, I add a small puddle of the Extra Thick Maxi-Cure CA glue produced by BSI.  It works well for me.I use a toothpick to mix the CA glue and charcoal by drawing the charcoal into the glue as I mix.  When it thickens enough so that it’s not running off the toothpick, I then trowel the mixture onto the button – upper and lower.  The patch mounds should be more than what is needed so that sanding brings the newly fashioned button down to the right size and shaping. After the patch material sets, just like it should work, the petroleum jelly coated pipe cleaner was removed with a few small tugs.After several hours the patch material is fully cured.  The long patient process of filing and shaping the button begins with a flat needle file.  The following pictures show the gradual progression on the upper button lip. Next, transitioning to the lower button lip and the patch to bit. The filing phase is completed as the pictures show the upper and lower bit and views of the airhole – upper and lower orientation. Transitioning to 240 grade paper I begin sanding which continues the smoothing and shaping of the button but also expands the sanding to the entire stem to address the deep oxidation.  I employ a plastic disk to sand against to avoid shouldering the stem facing.  It is no surprise to see the emergence of air pocket pits in the patch material as the sanding continues.  I would like to figure out how to minimize this! The upper and lower stem is shown. The sanding with 240 paper is completed and I wipe the button off with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to get a closer look at the patch pitting in the rebuild button. To address this and to fill the pits, I use regular clear CA glue.  I put a small amount of CA glue on the lip of the button and then spread it over the lip to create a thin layering of glue over the surface.  This layering of CA glue fills the pits.  I spray the glue with an accelerator to hold it in place and to quicken the curing time. Next, after taking the stem to the kitchen sink, the whole stem is wet sanded with 600 grade paper and after the sanding, 000 is applied to the entire surface of the stem to smooth it further – including the newly rebuilt button with the CA glue painting of the button.  The results are looking good for the upper and lower stem. I put the stem to the side for now and turn again to the stummel which has been undergoing a kosher salt/alcohol soak for several hours to continue cleaning and refreshing the internals.  The salt and mortise ‘wick’ are soiled revealing the passive activity of drawing out the tars and oils from the internal mortise walls.  After tossing the expended salt into the waste, I wipe the bowl with paper towel and blow through the mortise to remove salt crystals.To make sure all is fully cleaned, I use one pipe cleaner and cotton bud to confirm this.  I also take a whiff of the chamber and it is smelling sweet and ready for its new steward!  Moving on!I continue with the stem applying the full regimen of micromesh pads.  First, with pads 1500 to 2400 wet sanding is followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads, Obsidian Oil is applied to rejuvenate the vulcanite stem and to retard future oxidation development.  The stem looks great and the button rebuild does as well. Continuing to help in the revitalization of the vulcanite stem, I apply Before & After Fine Polish and then Extra Fine Polish in that order.  After each application by working the polish into the vulcanite with my fingers, afterwards wipe the excess with paper towel.  The stem looks good.After completing this phase of the stem restoration, to get a look at the overall progress, I reunite the stem and GEFAPIP Bent Bulldog stummel.  Two issues emerge after reuniting the stem and stummel.  First, the tenon/mortise fitting has loosened as a result of the cleaning processes.  This often is the case.  The seating of the tenon needs tightening.  The second issue is that the shank/stem alignment is off slightly creating a gap between the stem and shank on the left side – right side of the second picture below. This gapping is enhanced somewhat by the rounded corners of the stem facing that I identified earlier. Before addressing the gap, to tighten the tenon’s fit in the mortise, I find a drill bit one size larger than what will fit into the airway. Then, using a Bic lighter to heat the tenon until the vulcanite softens; the drill bit is forced into the airway gradually.  After inserting the very beginning of the bit, I re-heat the tenon with the Bic lighter to again soften the vulcanite.  I then force the bit into the airway further.  With each advance of the slightly larger drill bit into the airway, the vulcanite is expanded thus increasing the diameter of the overall tenon resulting in a tighter fit in the shank.After the bit has reached the end of its journey expanding the tenon, I take the stem to the kitchen sink and cool the tenon with the drill bit remaining inserted.  This cools the vulcanite and it hardens resulting in holding the expanded tenon diameter.  Back at the worktable, to remove the bit, which is now stuck, I grip the end of the drill bit with plyers and while holding the bit stationary, I rotate the attached stem so that gradually the bit is released from the tenon’s grip.The procedure works very well so that the tenon is now too large to fit after a test fitting.  Using 240 grade paper wrapped around the now expanded tenon, while holding the sanding paper stationary, I rotate the entire stem so that the sanding on the tenon moves toward a custom fit and is sanded uniformly.After some sanding, another test shows progress, BUT the tenon is never forced into the mortise which increases the dreaded shank cracking noise to be heard!Finally, the tenon is seated into the mortise and I examine the fit.  The truth is that the stem fitting is not good, and it appears that this was a factory issue or is it a replacement stem?  I don’t think so, but it looks like the drilling was off some so that the stem and shank facing are not perfectly flush.  The resulting gaps are easily seen in the pictures below. To address this issue, since the gapping is in the lower quadrant of the stem/shank facings, I fold a piece of 240 sanding paper and insert the now two-sided edge of the paper in the upper quadrant sandwiched between the stem and shank.  Sanding the folded paper like a hand saw – back and forth – has the effect of removing the material equally on both sides which has the hoped result of closing the gaps in the lower quadrant.This takes some time – ‘hand saw’ sanding and testing – to see very gradual progress.  Re-fitting a catawampus stem/tenon/shank junction is not easy in general, but when one is dealing with a diamond or squared shank, it’s much more difficult.  Why?  A rounded junction is much easier to blend the opposites coming together.  With the corners and edges of a diamond shank, it is much easier to see problems stand out.  The following pictures show progress, but perfection is not found in this life!The other thing that is troublesome with this junction is that the corners have been rounded or shouldered.  I noted this before and this picture brings attention to this.  The next two pictures show this as well as a lingering gap that my OCD tendencies will not ignore!To help remove the shouldering and hopefully provide more movement toward a better fitting, I bring out the stem topping board.  With a hole drilled in the board, I place 240 paper over the hole and force the tenon through the paper into the hole.  With the tenon inserted into the hole, I then rotate the stem carefully to sand down the stem facing – thus, removing the shouldered edge and creating a sharper facing – hopefully!After the topping, I cover some of the stem with masking tape and sand the junction with 240 then 600 grade paper to bring things into a tighter alignment removing the edges I can feel as I rub my finger over the junction.  I’m avoiding the lower left panel which holds the nomenclature.This sanding and the topping have worked very well.  Not perfection, but a much better union is evident.I continue sanding the junction with the addition of 000 grade steel wool avoiding the nomenclature panel altogether.  Satisfied, I move on!After putting the stem to the side, I turn to the stummel and take a closer look at the Bulldog’s scratched and nicked rim.  It’s not in terrible shape but shows signs of normal wear and tear.  I take it to the topping board for a light topping to refresh the Bulldog rim. I first turn the inverted stummel several rotations on 240 sanding paper placed on top of a chopping board.  This does well as a portable topping board.The topping progression is shown in the next few pictures as the scratches are removed and the rim lines re-established.  The first picture concludes the 240 topping and the second after changing to 600 grade paper. Moving now to the stummel surface, as with the rim, it shows scratches and nicks from general usage. To address these minor issues, using sanding sponges cleans the surface but are not too invasive.  I first use a coarse grade followed by medium and light grades.  The transformation is stark as the grain begins to emerge and I like what I see! From the sanding sponges, I transition to applying micromesh pads to the stummel.  Using pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  The grain is very nicely teased out through the process.Detour – After the first set of 3 pads which wetted the stummel.  I took a closer look at a fill on the upper right shank panel.  This is the most noticeable fill I’ve detected, and the fill has remained solid, but is lightened in contrast to the surrounding briar.  Before moving to the next set of micromesh pads, I darken the fill using a mahogany dye stick.  This does a good job of darkening the fill.  The continued sanding helps to blend the fill. Before moving on to the finishing phase, the dome grooves receive a cleaning using a sharp dental probe to remove packed briar dust and such.With the grooves cleaned of debris, I next apply Mark Hoover’s (www.ibpen.com) Restoration Balm to the stummel.  I like this product because it brings out the subtleties of the natural briar grain.  After putting some of the Balm on my finger, I apply it to the stummel surface and work it into the briar.  I then set it aside for 20 minutes or so allowing the Balm to do its magic.  I use a cloth dedicated to removing the excess Balm after it has set.  I then buff the stummel with a microfiber cloth.  Nice!  The picture shows the Balm on the surface doing its thing.The home stretch – after mounting a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel, setting the speed at about 40% full power, Blue Diamond compound is applied to the entire pipe – stem and stummel.  Following this, a felt cloth is used to buff removing compound dust from the surface in preparation for applying wax.  I run a dental probe around each of the dome grooves to remove caked compound.  After changing to another cotton cloth buffing wheel, carnauba wax is applied to the stem and stummel at the same speed as the compound. Finishing the restoration, a microfiber cloth works well to give a rigorous hand buffing to disperse any wax build up and to raise the shine.

The most daunting challenges in bringing this GEFAPIP 500 S Bent Bulldog back into service was the stem work – rebuilding the button and helping the tenon/mortise fitting.  The oxidation was stubborn as well.  In the end, it was worth the effort.  The classic Bulldog shape is to me a pipe with attitude.  This Bulldog, a product of St. Claude, France, is no exception.  The vertical grain encompassing most of the dome resolves on the underside of the bowl in bird’s eye grain and swirls very pleasing to the eye.  The stem’s quarter bend is nice for resting in the palm in a relaxed way for reflecting on life and family.  Seth, from Maryland, will have the first opportunity to claim this Bulldog from ThePipeSteward Store which benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria.  Thanks for joining me!

Cleaning Up a Second Wrecked Pipe for a Fellow Pastor in Vancouver – A VB Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

Lately I am not taking on more work for repairs from email or online requests as I am just too busy. I still get the odd referral from the local cigar and pipe shop that I feel obligated to repair or restore. They tend to be spread out a bit so I can fit them in among the other work that I am doing for estates. Earlier this week I received a phone call from a fellow who had been referred to me by the shop. In our conversation he said that he had some pipes that the stems were all loose on and he wanted to know if I would be able to help him. I have learned to not make any arrangements until I have the pipes in hand and have examined them. He came over Friday afternoon to let me have a look at the pipes. He handed me a bag and inside there were four or five extra stems that he had brought for my use. There were also three old and tired pipes. They were in very rough shape. Two were apple shaped pipes stamped VB and one was a Croydon billiard. The stems were indeed loose on two of the pipes and stuck on the third pipe. The bowls were clogged with a thick cake to the degree that I could not even get my little finger in them. The stems had a thick layer of calcification and some tooth marks. They needed a lot of work.

We talked about the pipes and that he had held them for a long time hoping for a repair. He had spoken with the cigar and pipe shop and they had led him to me. Now he could actually have a hope of smoking them again. In the course of the 30 minute or so conversation he asked me what I do for work. I told him I was a Presbyterian minister working with an NGO dealing with the sexual exploitation and trafficking of women and children in 7 countries and 12 cities around the world. We talked about that a bit then he laughed and told me he was a United Church Minister who had taught in a variety of schools as well as pastored various parishes. We had a great conversation and I took the pipes and told him we would connect again once I had them finished.

I chose the second pipe from the threesome to work on. The stem was stuck in the shank and it was locked tight. It was in rough condition but not as bad as the previous billiard. The bowl was clogged in precisely the same manner – a thick hard cake and no air would pass through the shank. The finish was worn but nowhere near as bad as the Croydon billiard. The rim top looked was in better condition with damage to the top and the inner and outer rim but still better. I put the pipe in the freezer for several hours and was able to easily remove the stem from the shank. The stem was oxidized with calcification extending for about an inch up the stem from the button. In the midst of the calcification were the same deep tooth marks that appeared to be rounded rather than sharp so I may well be able to lift them out with a lighter flame. The slot in the button was plugged with a pin hole sized airway going through it. I honestly do not know how this pipe was smoked the last time it was used. This was another of those pipes that I really dreaded working on because I just sensed that one thing would lead to another and the restoration would be almost endless. I took photos of the pipe before I started to record this anxious moment! I took some close up photos of the bowl and stem to show what I was dealing with on this pipe. You can see the density of the cake. It is not totally clear in the photo but the bowl is filled on the second half of the bowl and packed solid. The bowl also has a slant toward the rear from reaming with a knife. The rim top is rough as noted above and looking at the photos it too appears to have been used as a hammer. It is very rough to touch. The stem is a mess as can be seen. There is some oxidation and a thick coat of calcification from the button forward. That too is rock hard. Both the stem and the shank are plugged with no air passing through them.I took a photo of the stamping to show the brand on the pipe. It is a brand I have never heard of or worked on. There is little information available on it. It is stamped VB on the left side of the shank.I did some digging on the brand to see what I could find out. Finally on Pipephil’s index page (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/index-en.html) I found my first and only clue. Under the section called logos with two letters I found the VB listed. It took me to a listing under Holiday pipes. There was no further information on the country of origin or on the maker other than Holiday. I checked on Pipedia as well and there was nothing. I have included a copy of the screen capture of the listing on Pipephil (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-h3.html#holiday).Once again I could no longer postpone starting the work on this old pipe. Since I am a pipe refurbisher I had to get started on this beast. I began the work by reaming the bowl. The old fellow had chipped away enough of the carbon to smoke a little toward the end but he had done so at an angle so there was a nice concave cup in the back wall of the bowl. I had to work carefully with the Savinelli Fitsall Knife to start the process. I poke through the clogged airway into the bowl early on because honestly I could not see where it entered the bowl. I wanted to make sure I knew where it was while I cut through the cake. I worked through the first three cutting heads of the PipNet to straighten out the walls of the bowl. I took photos to chronicle that work. You can see the growing mound of carbon under the pipe in the photos. It was quite unbelievably hard. I cleaned up the edges and bottom of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I sanded the inside of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel to further smooth out the bowl. It was yet another of the worst cakes that I have worked on. With the bowl reamed I decided to work on the exterior of the bowl. It was unbelievably grimy and sticky. I scrubbed it with a tooth brush and undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap. I rinsed it under warm running water to wash away the soap and debris. I repeated the process until the exterior was as clean as I was going to get it at this point. I dried it off with a cotton cloth and took photos to show the result. I cleaned the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I opened the airway into the bowl with a sharp straightened paper clip and used the drill bit on a KleenReem tool to clean out the “crud” (hardened tars and oils). I scraped the inside of the mortise with a pen knife. I opened the slot in the button with a dental pick and pushed pipe cleaners through the debris in the stem. I scraped away the majority of the calcification with the pen knife while I was cleaning the stem. Once I had finished – many pipe cleaners and cotton swabs later the airway was unobstructed to the bowl and the pipe had begun to smell clean. I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper and removed the damaged areas on the surface. Once I had finished the rim top was flat now I could deal with the edges of the bowl.I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the inner and outer edge of the bowl. The outer edge cleaned up really well. I was quite happy with how the rim top and edges were beginning to look.I decided to address the hollowed out back inner wall of the bowl before I called it a night. The first photo shows the damaged area before I repaired it. I mixed up a small batch of JB Weld. I blended the two parts together to a dark grey paste and used a dental spatula to apply it to the back wall of the bowl. In the morning I used a Dremel and a sanding drum to take down the excess JB Weld in the back of the bowl. I ground it down until the inside was smooth. I wiped the inside of the bowl down with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the sanding dust.I sanded the exterior of the bowl and rim with a medium grit sanding sponge to remove the nicks, scratches and remnants of the original finish. I scraped and sanded the strange dark stains on the shank at the same time. I wet sanded with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads to smooth out the finish on the bowl and prepare it for staining. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the dust and debris from sanding. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl, the rim top and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point. It looks much better than when I took it out of the bag. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the surface of the stem with the flame of a Bic light to raise the tooth marks. It raised them all some but two small dents remained on both sides of the stem. I forgot to take a photo of the stem after the heating. I filled in the remaining tooth marks with clear Krazy Glue and let it cure. I like the clear glue on this kind of stem as it dries clear and the black of the stem shows through making for a very good blend with the existing material.I sanded the repaired areas on both sides of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the stem. I followed that by sanding them with a folded piece of 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to begin the polishing.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I wiped the stem down with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil to preserve and protect the stem. This was another challenging pipe to work on and I did the heavy work without Jeff. I put the stem back on the bowl and polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I 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 grain pops through enough to let us know it is there and my repairs to the rim and back of the bowl blend in really well. I am pleased with the look of the pipe. It really has exceeded my expectations for it when I first took it out of the bag it was in when dropped off. The contrast between the natural browns of the briar and the polished black vulcanite stem look very good together. The pipe feels great in my hand and I am sure that it will feel even better radiating the heat of a good smoke. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when I received it from the pipeman who dropped it off. 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 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I am looking forward to what the old clergyman thinks of his second “new” pipe. I think he will enjoy it for many years to come and perhaps it will pass to the next pipeman who will hold it in trust. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog.

Cleaning Up a Wrecked Croydon Billiard for a Fellow Pastor in Vancouver


Blog by Steve Laug

Currently I am not taking on more work for repairs from email or online requests as I am just too busy. I still get the odd referral from the local Vancouver cigar and pipe shop that I feel obligated to repair or restore. They tend to be spread out a bit so I can fit them in among the other work that I am doing for estates. Earlier this week I received a phone call from a fellow who had been referred to me by the shop. In our conversation he said that he had some pipes that the stems were all loose on and he wanted to know if I would be able to help him. I have learned to not make any arrangements until I have the pipes in hand and have examined them. He came over Friday afternoon to let me have a look at the pipes. He handed me a bag and inside there were four or five extra stems that he had brought for my use. There were also three old and tired pipes. They were in very rough shape. Two were apple shaped pipes stamped VB and one was a Croydon billiard. The stems were indeed loose on two of the pipes and stuck on the third pipe. The bowls were clogged with a thick cake to the degree that I could not even get my little finger in them. The stems had a thick layer of calcification and some tooth marks. They needed a lot of work.

We talked about the pipes and that he had held them for a long time hoping for a repair. He had spoken with the cigar and pipe shop and they had led him to me. Now he could actually have a hope of smoking them again. In the course of the 30 minute or so conversation he asked me what I do for work. I told him I was a Presbyterian minister and was now working with an NGO dealing with the sexual exploitation and trafficking of women and children in 7 countries and 12 cities around the world. We talked about that a bit then he laughed and told me he was a United Church Minister who had taught in a variety of schools as well as pastored various parishes. We had a great conversation and I took the pipes and told him we would connect again once I had them finished.

I decided to start with the Croydon billiard. It was in very rough condition. The bowl was clogged with a thick hard cake and no air would pass through the shank. The finish was shot with burn marks and darkening about ½ inch down the back of the bowl. The rim top looked like it had been used for a hammer with the worst damage on the back portion of the bowl and rim top. The darkening was in the chewed up area on the back of the bowl so it would be interesting to see what I could do with that part of the pipe. The stem was oxidized with calcification extending for about an inch up the stem from the button. In the midst of the calcification were deep tooth marks that appeared to be rounded rather than sharp so I may well be able to lift them out with a lighter flame. The slot in the button was plugged with a pin hole sized airway going through it. I honestly do not know how this pipe was smoked the last time it was used. This was one of those pipes that I really dreaded working on because I just sensed that one thing would lead to another and the restoration would be almost endless. I took photos of the pipe before I started to record this anxious moment! I took some close up photos of the bowl and stem to show what I was dealing with on this pipe. You can see the density of the cake. It is not totally clear that the second half of the bowl is packed solid. The bowl also has a slant toward the rear from reaming with a knife. The rim top is the disaster mentioned above. It is very rough to touch. The stem is a mess as can be seen. There is some oxidation and a thick coat of calcification from the button forward. That too is rock hard. Both the stem and the shank are plugged with no air passing through them.I took pictures of the sides of the bowl and rim to give you an idea of the condition of the pipe. I could not believe the old fellow had said that the bowl were in “great shape”! I have no idea how he could call this “great shape”. What do you think? I took a photo o f the stamping to show the brand on the pipe. It is a little known brand with little information. This one reads Croydon on the left side of the shank and Italy on the right side. Sources I have found have hinted at it being from the Netherlands and others from Great Britain. I think the country of manufacture will remain a mystery for now. I have worked on other Croydon pipes in the past and never really been that impressed with them. They have seemed like lower end basket pipes that have a lot of putty fills in the briar and are generally finished with a varnish coat. At least with this one I could start from basically scratch. I did a bit of searching to find the maker of Croydon pipes and came across a short reference to the brand on Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Croydon). There was no other information on the brand other than it was made in the Netherlands (does not help explain why this one is stamped Italy, but oh well). There was also a link to Don Bernard pipes in Amsterdam, Netherlands (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Don_Bernard_Pipes. On that link there was the name of the maker and an address for the company. It is Bernard Myburgh, Sumtrakade 1195 1019 RJ Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The website www.donbernardpipes.com did not work for me so I am not sure if it is still a valid company. There was also an email address listed for them (donbernard@upcmail.nl) so I sent an inquiry to them regarding the brand. The email bounced as the contact was no longer valid. At least I now have a connection to the Netherlands but it still does not help me with the Italy stamp on this pipe.

I could no longer postpone starting the work on this old pipe. Since I am a pipe refurbisher I had to get started on this beast. I began the work by reaming the bowl. I started with the smallest PipNet Reamer cutting head so as not to damage the bowl. The old fellow had chipped away enough of the carbon to smoke a little toward the end but he had done so at an angle so there was a nice concave cup in the back wall of the bowl. I had to work carefully through the cutting heads to straighten out the bowl. I used the first three cutting heads to get it reamed out. I took photos of each cutting head to chronicle that work. You can see the growing mound of carbon under the pipe in the photos. It was quite unbelievably hard. I cleaned up the edges and bottom of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I sanded the inside of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel to further smooth out the bowl. It really was one of the worst cakes that I have worked on. Once I was finished reaming it the airway was still clogged going into the bowl because of the tars and oils. I cleaned the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I opened the airway into the bowl with a sharp straightened paper clip and used the drill bit on a KleenReem tool to clean out the “crud” (hardened tars and oils). I scraped the inside of the mortise with a pen knife. I opened the slot in the button with a dental pick and pushed pipe cleaners through the debris in the stem. I scraped away the majority of the calcification with the pen knife while I was cleaning the stem. Once I had finished – many pipe cleaners and cotton swabs later the airway was unobstructed to the bowl and the pipe had begun to smell clean. With the internals clean it was time to work on the exterior of the bowl. It was unbelievably grimy and sticky. I scrubbed it with a tooth brush and undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap. I rinsed it under warm running water to wash away the soap and debris. I repeated the process until the exterior was as clean as I was going to get it at this point. I dried it off with a cotton cloth and took photos to show the progress. I knew that topping the bowl would only start to address the issues with the rim top and edges of this pipe. I wanted to have a flat surface to work with and to flatten the edges before addressing the damages. I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper and removed the damaged areas on the surface. Once I had finished the rim top was flat now I could deal with the edges of the bowl.The topping had removed much of the damage to the front and sides of the bowl. The slight damage that remained would be taken care of when I gave the rim a slight bevel. I decided to build up the damaged edge on the back of the bowl with Krazy Glue and briar dust. It would dry black but the edge would be smooth and the rim top even once I was finished. I would have to blend the transition with a dark brown stain. I layered the build up on the edge – glue then dust and repeating it until the edge was built up. The first photo below shows the repair before I shaped it with sandpaper and files. I sanded the edge and topped the bowl again to smooth out the rim top and edges. The second and third photo show where the pipe stands at this point. There are still a few spots on the outer edge of the rim but it is looking much better. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the inner and outer edge of the bowl. The outer edge cleaned up really well. I was quite happy with the finished look. The inner edge would take a bit more work once I had repaired the inside damage to the bowl.I sanded the exterior of the bowl and rim with a medium grit sanding sponge to remove the nicks, scratches and remnants of the original finish. There was still a lot of work to do to finish the pipe as there were also some strange dark stains on the briar and a few fills that I wanted to smooth out. With initial sanding of the bowl finished it was time to address the damage to the inside of the bowl. There were some heat fissures mid bowl on the right side and the backside mid bowl had been carved out and there were fissures there as well. I mixed up a batch of JB Weld. I did not need too much as the damaged areas were very specific and I would not need to coat the whole bowl with the mixture. I blended the two parts together to a dark grey paste and used a dental spatula to apply it to the affected areas of the bowl. I have included two photos of the bowl repair to show the nature of the repair. Remember the majority of the patch will be sanded off leaving just the fissures filled in with the repair mix. I let the repair harden for about 10 minutes before moving on to sand the exterior of the bowl and rim with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads to smooth out the finish on the bowl and prepare it for staining. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the dust and debris from sanding. I used a Dremel and a sanding drum to take down the excess JB Weld in the bowl. I ground it down until the inside was smooth and the weld was in the fissures in the bowl sides. You can see the ring of weld around mid-bowl. That is where the most damage was on the bowl walls.With the scratches smoothed out and the repairs minimized a bit I decided to stain the pipe with a Dark Brown Feibings stain. The stain goes on very dark and covers a multitude of issues but when it is buffed and sanded the colour still allows the grain that is present to shine through clearly. I applied the stain and flamed it to set it in the grain. I repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage on the bowl.In the morning one the stain had cured I sanded the bowl with micromesh sanding pads to remove the excess stain and make the stain coat more transparent. I wet sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp towel after each sanding pad. Each set of three pads brought the transparency to what I was aiming for and still masked the repaired areas on the bowl. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl, the rim top and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point. I am very happy with the way the pipe is looking at this point in the process. The pipe is looking much better than when I took it out of the bag. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the surface of the stem with the flame of a Bic light to raise the tooth marks. It raised them all some but the two on the underside were too deep to come up very much. Overall the stem was looking better.I filled in the remaining tooth marks with clear Krazy Glue and let it cure. I like the clear glue on this kind of stem as it dries clear and the black of the stem shows through making for a very good blend with the existing material.I sanded the repaired areas on both sides of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the stem. I followed that by sanding them with a folded piece of 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to begin the polishing.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I wiped the stem down with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil to preserve and protect the stem. This was a challenging pipe to work on and I did the heavy work without Jeff. I put the stem back on the bowl and polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I 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 grain pops through enough to let us know it is there and my repairs to the rim and back of the bowl blend in really well. I am pleased with the look of the pipe. It really has exceeded my expectations for it when I first took it out of the bag it was in when dropped off. The contrast between the dark brown stain of the briar and the polished black vulcanite stem look very good together. The pipe feels great in my hand and I am sure that it will feel even better radiating the heat of a good smoke. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it from the pipeman who dropped it off. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I am looking forward to what the old clergyman thinks of his “new” pipe. I think he will enjoy it for many years to come and perhaps it will pass to the next pipeman who will hold it in trust. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog.

Passing on the Legacy – a Beautiful T. Cristiano Rusticated Canadian


Blog by Steve Laug

I have finished the current batch of donated pipes that were gifted in support of the SA Foundation. Jeff and I purchased a group of 42 pipes from a pipeman who can no longer smoke because serious illness. It is a pleasure to be able to support this Brother of the Briar in this very hard season of his life. He had some beautiful pipes in his collection and with some work we will get them cleaned up and into the hands of other pipemen and women who can carry on the legacy of the briar.

The second of the pipes that I am working on is a T. Cristiano Canadian. It is stamped on the underside of the shank T. Cristiano on a smooth finished portion of the briar. At the shank stem union it is stamped Italy. It is a nice large piece of briar with a triple band – two rings of silver with a ring of emerald green in the middle. The stem is black acrylic and has a double ringed circle inlaid in the top of the taper. The outer ring is silver and the inner is copper. When it arrived at Jeff’s house and he opened the box he could see it was an interestingly rusticated pipe. The pipe was dirty but there was no significant damage to the bowl or stem. The rim top had grime and tars in the rustication but it was otherwise clean. There was a thick cake in the bowl with some bits of tobacco stuck to the walls of the bowl. The decorative silver band had grime and dirt but was in good condition. The acrylic stem was in great condition – just a little dirty and tooth chatter on both sides of the stem near the button. Overall the pipe was a beautiful and a dirty pipe that must have been another favourite smoker. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his clean up work. Jeff took photos of the bowl and the rim top to show the condition of the bowl and rim. You can see the tars and grime in the rustication on the rim top but also that it is unburned. The inner and outer edges of the bowl look very good. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish – the grime and grit all over the sides and bottom of the bowl. It is a dirty pipe but the rustication pattern is very interesting. He took photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank. The stamping was very readable. He also took a photo of the inlaid logo on the top of the tapered stem. It is an inlaid silver ring surrounding a copper center. He took some photos of the stem surfaces to show their condition. There were not any tooth marks just some light chatter ahead of the button and some wear on the button surface on both sides.  I turned to Pipephil’s site to get a quick summary of the maker of this pipe. It is a brand I was unfamiliar with so every little bit of information helps (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-t5.html#thomascristiano). From that site I learned that the maker was Thomas Cristiano who was an Italian immigrant to the US in 1968. He started his own pipe company in 1982. I did a screen capture of the write-up on that site and have included it below.I turned then to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Cristiano) to gather some additional information. I have included the entry from that site in full below.

Thomas Cristiano began working with pipes only weeks after emigrating to America from his native Italy in 1968 at the age of 16, at the S. M. Frank factory in Long Island, New York. Mr. Cristiano worked at that factory, which produced the Kaywoodie pipes, among others, for a decade before leaving and eventually starting his own company, Cristom Imports and Exports, in Tampa, Florida. In addition to producing three pipe lines of his own, including the Cristiano, Cristiano Signature Series, and Calabresi pipes, Mr. Cristiano is believed to have made the Kaywoodie pipes in Tampa from the mid-1980s until approximately 1992. He was also one of the nation’s most respected humidor makers.

Sadly, Mr. Cristiano became a broken pipe on November 7, 2005 while traveling in his native Italy. He was only 53 years old. He is universally remembered as a kind person, as well as a positive influence on the pipe and cigar industries.

I did further digging on the internet for more information and found a link to Blue Room Briars that had some more information on the brand. It is interesting to note that it is an American Brand by and American pipe maker and it is stamped Italy. Here is the link: (https://www.blueroombriars.com/collections/t-cristiano-pipes/products/t-cristiano-pipe-canadian-with-acrylic-band-6). I quote in part:

Thomas Cristiano was an American Pipe Maker who moved from his native Italy when he was 16 in 1968.  For several decades he made handmade artisanal pipes under his own name and also had pipes made from the mid-century production techniques, back in the Old Country under the Calabresi brand.  Like many machine made marquees, there were several lines of various adornments and finish combinations.  Much of Cristiano’s work is in Freehand pieces though his factory designs were very clean and stylish, showcasing the classic in the Italian School of smart looking shapes.

I found another link on the Paul’s Pipe Shop site (http://www.iapsc.net/store/cristiano.html). It was by far the most comprehensive of the articles on the brand and the maker. It also included a photo of Thomas Cristiano in the banner so I did a screen capture of that and included it along with the information below.When the Cristiano family came to America from Calabria, Italy, in 1968, they brought with them a wonderful and unique talent: pipe making. As the maestros of this craft, the Cristiano family has for nearly two decades, shaped and honed the rare, beautiful — but tough — briar-root into some of the world’s most valued and treasured pipes. They have practiced their art at Calabresi Smoking Pipes, Inc. creating handsome wooden pipes for the largest pipe companies, as well as custom designing pipes for individual special requests.

At age 17, Thomas Cristiano was working in the pipe industry. “I was a floor boy for S.M. Frank & Company,” says Cristiano. “I counted and graded blocks of wood, categorized them, counted and selected pipes and put them in stock.” He has come a long way since then, but every step of that journey has been dedicated to pipes.

The Cristiano’s briarwood pipes are magnificently crafted by both hand and machine from the root of the wild briar shrub, which grows only in the Mediterranean region. Shrub harvesters cut the root into chunks that are later selected by pipe makers based on the grain and quality of the wood.

Thomas Cristiano’s pipes are separated in to two main marks: Calabresi and T. Cristiano. The lines expand the horizon from filter pipes to exquisite freehands and classic shapes with ornate details made from precious metals such as gold and sterling silver.

In the Calabresi line there is the Budget line, the Algerian Imports, Italian Imports, Spindrift, Danesi Series, Massicia Series, Metamorfosi Series, Raffaele Series, Free Forms, Cesare Series, and Fancy.

The T. Cristiano line begins with the T. Cristiano, then the VSQ Series, Metamorfosi Series, Bosso Series, Phidias Series, and finally the highly sought after T. Cristiano Signature Series.

From the above information I knew that the pipe was an American Made pipe. Now that I had the information I wanted to know on the brand it was time to begin to work with it and clean it up. It really is a beautiful pipe.

I am so glad Jeff is cleaning up these pipes before they come to me. This pipe was a dirty just like the previous one. I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looked really good once it was clean. There was no damage to the rim top and the rustication looked very good. He cleaned the stem internals and scrubbed the exterior and the result looked very good. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it was impressive. I took photos before I started my part of the work.   I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show what an amazing job Jeff did in the cleanup of the rim top. It has a unique rustication pattern. I also took close up photos of the stem to show condition it was in. It would not take a lot of work – just sanding out the light tooth chatter and polishing with micromesh sanding pads.  I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. Note how beautiful the silver looks on the band. The stamping reads as noted above. The bowl was in such excellent condition after Jeff’s work on it that I did not need to do any restorative work on it. I turned instead to taking it to the next level. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl, the rim top and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point. I am very happy with the way the pipe is looking at this point in the process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the tooth chatter on both sides of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the marks. I followed that by sanding the same with a folded piece of 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to begin the polishing.   I rubbed the sanded areas of the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish and a cotton pad to further blend in the sanding. The product is a gritty red paste that I have found works quite well as a step before the micromesh sanding pads. The stem was showing some promise at this point in the process.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. The stem was made out of acrylic and that is where the polishing stopped for now. I would put the stem back on the bowl shortly and buff the entire pipe. This was a fun pipe to work on since Jeff had done the heavy work in cleaning it. I put the stem back on the bowl and gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I 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 rustication just sparkles and is almost multidimensional it is so deep. The pipe polished up really well. The polished black acrylic bit seemed to truly come alive with the buffing. I polished the silver band with a jewelers cloth to protect it from oxidation and give it a shine. The silver band is a great transitional contrast between the multiple brown stains of the briar and the polished black acrylic stem. The rusticated T. Cristiano pipe feels great in my hand and I am sure that it will feel even better radiating the heat of a good smoke. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it from the pipeman who we bought it from. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This is a beautiful long Canadian pipe with an interesting rustication pattern. It will be going on the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.