Author Archives: rebornpipes

Cleaning up a Beautiful Comoy’s Made Selected Straight Grain Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

A few months back I sold a nice older Wally Frank pipe to a fellow named Jim in the South Eastern US. Recently he called to tell me about a group of six pipes that he purchased on one of his own pipe hunts. He wanted to know if I could help him identifying what he had found. There were two older Kaywoodies (a bent meerschaum lined billiard and a  Super Grain Zulu), a Selected Straight Grain bent billiard, a GBD Sauvage Bulldog, a Henley Club Apple (made by Sasieni), and the last one a Medico Crest Prince.

In our conversation he told me he was going to box up the lot and mail them to me to have a look. When they arrived he said we could talk and make an arrangement regarding the pipes that he decided to have restored. But he wanted my opinion on the others as well. The box arrived last week and I opened it to have a good look at what Jim had sent to me. I went through them making notes on what I saw regarding the condition of each pipe. I sent Jim my notes on the pipes and he sent back the two pipes that he wanted me to work on for him in the lot – the first one was a large Bent Selected Straight Grain Billiard and the second was the Kaywoodie Super Grain Zulu. We fired several emails back and forth talking about the pipes and the decision was made. I would restore the two pipes for him.

I decided to work larger of the two pipes first. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Selected arched over Straight and Grain underneath that. On the right side of the shank it is stamped with the standard circular COM (Country of Manufacture) stamp – Made in London in a circle over England followed by the shape number 43. Both the COM stamp and the shape number led me to believe this was a Comoy’s made pipe but I was not certain at this point in the process. The shape is a half bent billiard. It was a nice pipe that showed some extraordinary grain underneath the grime.

The pipe was larger than I expected when Jim and I spoke and was a pretty nice looking piece of briar. There were a couple of issues with the bowl. There were some small sand pits on the bottom of the bowl and shank. There was a large flaw that looked like an X at the junction of the bowl and the shank on the left side near the top of the shank. The bowl had a thick cake in it and there were actually cobwebs in the bowl. The rim had a light coat of tars and lava that overflowed onto the beveled surface of the inner edge of the rim. There was a deep gouge on the rim top on the right side toward the back of the bowl. The finish was spotty and worn with shiny spots and scratches on the shank and on parts of the bowl sides. The stem was lightly oxidized and sported a lot of tooth chatter but no deep tooth marks. The stem did not fit tight against the shank with a small gap at the top that told me that the tenon was slightly bent.

I took a series of photos of the pipe to record the condition it was in when it arrived. The next photo show the top of the rim, the darkened and lava encrusted beveled inner edge, the thick cake and the cobwebs deep inside the bowl. You can also see the gouge on the right side of the rim top at the 1 o’clock position in the photo below. I have circled it in red for ease of reference. The pipe certainly had great bones but it was in dire need of a cleanup so that it could be passed on in the pipeman’s trust. This was going to be a fun pipe to work on.I took photos of the oxidized stem to show the general condition of the vulcanite. It looked pretty good. The button was clean and not damaged. There was tooth chatter but no deep tooth marks on either side of the stem. The stem was lightly oxidized but good quality vulcanite.I did a bit of hunting online and read on Pipedia that these pipes were made by Comoy’s and were essentially “Specimen Straight Grain” (exceptional line of Comoy’s pipes). The Selected Straight Grain pipes were seconds to the Specimen line that exhibited some small flaw or sand pit. They were listed in the 1965 catalogue at $15 or $17.50 in Extraordinaire size.

Armed with that information I turned my attention to work on the pipe. It was dirty and sticky so I varied my usual habit of reaming the bowl first and scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and cotton pads. I was able to remove all of the grime on the bowl sides and much of the grime and lava on the rim top and inner beveled edge of the bowl. I took photos of the bowl after scrubbing. You can see the amazing grain on the bowl and shank sides. You can also see the X shaped sandpit in the first photo. I have circled it in red to highlight the damage there. With the outside of the bowl clean it was easier to hold onto while I reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer. I started with the smallest cutting head and worked my way up to the third cutting head. I took the cake back to bare briar. I cleaned up the remnants of the cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I used a dental spatula to scrape out the buildup on the walls of the mortise. There was a thick coat of tars and oils that had hardened there and made the fit of the stem very tight in the shank. Once I had scraped out the hardened substances I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cottons swabs and pipe cleaners.With the exterior and the interior of the bowl cleaned it was time to work on repairing the sandpits and gouges on the bowl. I wiped down the area of the X pit on the left side of the bowl at the shank bowl junction with alcohol.When it was dry I filled in the area with clear super glue and pressed it into the pit with a dental spatula. I repeated the process with the gouge on the right side of the rim top.  When the repair had cured I sanded it with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surface of the briar. I also sanded the inner beveled edge of the bowl to clean up the darkening and damage at that point. I sanded the repair on the side of the shank and bowl with the same sandpaper until the spots were blended into the briar and smooth to touch.I polished the repaired areas with micromesh sanding pads – sanding with 1500-4000 grit pads to smooth out the sanding scratches. I stained the rim top and the repair on the shank and bowl with a light brown stain pen to match the stain on the rest of the bowl.Whenever I used the stain pens, regardless of colour, I blend the stain with the existing stain using Conservator’s Wax. I find that the microcrystalline wax polishes and blends the two areas together when I hand buff the bowl once the wax dries. I buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond to polish it a bit and see where I needed to do some work before the final buff. I hand polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp clot after each buffing pad. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth after the 12000 grit pad. The pictures below show the progress of the polishing on the briar. I addressed the fit of the stem against the shank. The tenon was slightly bent downward causing a gap at the top of the shank stem union. I heated the tenon with a Bic lighter to soften it and inserted it in the shank and straightened it. I held it in place while the stem cooled and the fit was perfect against the shank.I sanded the light tooth chatter and the oxidation on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I wanted to break up the oxidation on the surface of the vulcanite and that is the easiest way to do it. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down after each pad with Fine grit Before & After Pipe Polish. I buffed the pipe on the wheel using Blue Diamond Polish and worked over the stem and bowl to remove any remaining scratches. I was careful around the stamping so as not to buff it out and soften it. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It really is a beauty. The flaws that I repaired really disappeared into the grain of the pipe. If you did not know where they were before they are hard to identify. The black of the polished vulcanite and the polished briar work well together to present a beautiful pipe. I have to finish Jim’s second pipe and then the pair will go in the mail. I can’t wait to hear what he thinks of this one once he has it in hand and fires it up for the first time. Thanks for looking.

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ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS: What alcohol do you use to clean pipes and why


Blog by Steve Laug

I decided to write a few blogs to answer questions that different people have written or called me about. None of them will be long blogs; rather they will be short and to the point answers to the questions and some general rationale for why I do the things I do. The first of them addresses the question of what alcohol I use to clean the pipes that I work on. Some of the questions were direct and others were questioning my choice of alcohol. I chose to address both kinds of questions in this first blog. I will explain my choice and the reasons for that choice. My idea is not so much to justify my choices as to state them and explain the reasons for my choices. I don’t expect others to necessarily agree with me but I answer from my own best practices and preferences.

I have received so many private messages, emails or phone calls asking me about what kind of alcohol to use in cleaning pipes that I thought this would be a good place to start. The choice I have made is not based on ignorance. I have tried a lot of different alcohol products before settling in on the one that I now use all the time. I have read a lot of answers on the forums and different websites answering that same question. The answers are generally quite adamant in their claims to their preference of product. These answers have ranged from those who use Everclear to those who use Rum. The writers have argued their case for the alcohol of choice based on experience and preference. While some fit the gamut above there have been others who answered that they used their favorite Whiskeys, Bourbons and Scotches. I have even read of folks using moonshine and others using flavoured liqueurs to give their pipe a sweet taste. I have read those responses now for a long time and never bothered to answer or give my own opinion.

For me the answer is quite simple. I have chosen not to use an alcohol I would drink to clean out my pipe because I would rather drink it than waste it as a cleaning product. To me it has always seemed like a waste of a good drink to use it to clean my pipe. I am a bit of cheap skate so I hate to waste even a dram of something I enjoy on something it was not intended for. But beyond being cheap, I also don’t like cleaning my pipes with a product that has a high percentage of water in it. I want to use something that cleans and then evaporates without leaving behind moisture or a residual taste in either the stem or the shank of the pipe. When I smoke my pipe I do not want to taste some flavouring but I want to be able to taste various tobaccos that make up the blend that I am enjoying having to deal with the tastes of the product I cleaned the pipe with.

My decision was not made in a vacuum. I have tried each of the different alcohols I have mentioned above as well as various Pipe Sweeteners that have been sold over the years. After reading all of the much touted claims for Everclear I went to the US and purchased some to give it a try. It worked well and did leave a clean pipe, but it was not available here in Canada and I was not convinced that it was worth the effort to cross the border to purchase it. I tried a variety of high octane Rum and Whiskey (or Whisky) to clean out my pipes. It was okay but left the insides of the pipe wet for longer than I liked. It also did not do as good a job in my opinion as the Everclear did. I even tried some Maker’s Mark Bourbon because I had it here and happened to have been sipping it while working on pipes. I dipped a pipe cleaner in my glass even though it seemed like a real waste of good Bourbon and it did not work as well as the Everclear. It also left the internals wetter than I liked. I tried some Dewar’s Scotch and some other Scotch that I have enjoyed over the years and found the same issues. With each of the alcohols that I used above I had to follow up with a dry pipe cleaner to remove the moisture in the shank and airway. I was unsatisfied with the results and it seemed to make my work harder. I am not a big fan of flavoured liqueurs so I chose not to use them. They just seemed too sweet and sugary to my liking and I would have to clean out their taste to get a good smoke.  

There had to be something that would work as well as the Everclear, had a high percentage of alcohol versus water and was easy to obtain in Canada. I did some research online and talked with my pharmacist with regard to what I was looking for and the purposes I needed it. I have known her for quite a few years so I trust her recommendations. She suggested that I try using 99% isopropyl alcohol for thoroughly cleaning the pipes I was working on. It had a high percentage of alcohol so that it evaporated quickly and left behind no residue. It had a very low percentage of water, which meant it would not soak into the briar and leave behind moisture. It was flavourless, odorless and colourless so it would not leave behind a taste that would affect the tobacco. It sounded like the ticket. She said to make sure I purchased the 99% isopropyl, which was always stored behind the pharmacist’s counter, and not the one on the shelves which was 91%. With that recommendation, I figured it was worth a try. I picked up my first bottle of isopropyl and I have been using it ever since.

I have found that it works extremely well. I cleans deeply and evaporates quickly leaving behind no residue. I have used on pipes with extremely dirty mortises, shanks and airways and have been satisfied with its cleaning ability. I also use it in my retort and it boils quickly through the pipe and bowl without leaving behind any residue. It is a great universal cleaning agent and one I continually use for all the work that I do. That is what I use and what I recommend. Thanks for reading this.

One Seriously Frustrating Refurb – a Broken Down Hilson Fantasia 206 Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

The last of Steve’s pipes the remained for me to work on was a Hilson Fantasia. It is a Dublin shaped pipe made of resin with a meerschaum insert. It has a yellow coloured bowl and shank with swirls of green that are scattered throughout the pipe. When Steve sent me the box of pipes to work on I told him this one was not worth the effort to clean it up. It was in really rough shape on both the stem and the bowl insert. But in the end I decided to clean it and the Pipe just so he could see what these resin bowl pipes were like. I have cleaned a few of these up over the years that have almost psychedelic patterns in the resin. They are really a product of the 60s and 70s in my opinion. I took the following photos of the pipe before I started the clean up to show the general condition and give you some idea why I said the pipe was not worth cleaning up. The pipe really was in rough condition. The meerschaum bowl was not readily identifiable and there was major damage to the rim top. There chunks of the inner bowl missing from the top at the back edge of the bowl. There was a seriously thick cake in the bowl that was fuzzy with dust and debris. The outer resin bowl was covered with a layer of lava. The stem would not fit in the shank the way it was supposed to which signaled that the shank was cake with about as much debris and the bowl. The stem was oxidized and there were tooth marks on both the top and the underside at the button. The button itself was worn away and no longer clearly defined. The outer resin bowl was in pretty good shape with no deep scratches or gouges. I was hoping that once I reamed the bowl it would be intact lower down. I was basing that hope on the fact that Hilson used block meerschaum and not pressed meerschaum for their bowls. That made the quality of the lining far better and I have rarely seen a Hilson meerschaum lining cracked or broken.The next two photos show the stamping on the pipe. On the underside of the shank it is stamped Belgium and on the right side it is stamped with the shape number 206. The normal stamping on the stem was long gone. So it no longer read Hilson Fantasia. For the identity I am going with the stamping that is visible, the shape and material of the pipe for calling it a Hilson Fantasia.The photos of the stem show the condition of the oxidation and tooth marks on the surface as well as the worn condition of the button.I had previously researched the Hilson Fantasia for a blog I already did on a previous restoration. (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/07/05/is-it-really-a-plastic-smoking-pipe-what-is-a-hilson-fantasia/) On that blog I wrote of what I had found out about the brand. I had learned that the Hilson Fantasia was made in Belgium as this one was stamped. It originally came out as a meerschaum lined pipe with an outer bowl made of a new material that they called pipenite. From what I can find out about the material they call pipenite, it was a specially designed polyester resin. It was light weight and fairly indestructible. The block meerschaum insert was something that Hilson turned into a specialty. I had found a catalogue page on Chris’ Pipe pages, http://pipepages.com/hilson.htm that confirmed my guess regarding the 60s/70s look of the pipe. I have once again included a catalogue page from a 1962 Wally Frank Catalogue that was on the pipepages site. The write up on the Hilson Fantasia is entertaining to read in terms of the sales pitch that is delivered.I have also written about some of the history of the brand on a previous blog on Hilson Double Ecume pipes. If you are interested in reading about the history of the brand click on the following link: https://wordpress.com/post/rebornpipes.com/40547. In addition the following link on the Estervals Pipe House website gives a good summary of the history of the brand for those of you who want to read more: http://www.tecon-gmbh.de/info_pages.php?pages_id=70.

Now for the cleanup of the Fantasia! I carefully reamed the bowl with the smallest cutting head of the PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the inside of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe knife. I say carefully because I did not want to damage the meerschaum insert in the bowl but I wanted to remove the rock hard cake in the bowl.I topped the bowl carefully using a medium and a fine grit sanding pad. I wanted to smooth out the surface of the rim and remove the lava that was on top. I wanted to remove the lip of lava that had formed on the top of the bowl. The second photo below shows the cleaned rim top and also the damage that was very evident at the back edge of the bowl and around the sides. I cleaned out the shank of the pipe with a thin pen knife to scrape away the hardened tars that lined the inside walls. I followed that with a sanding stick and many pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol before the shank was clean.The inner edge of the bowl was pitted and uneven so I sanded it with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it out and to clean up the damaged area at the back of the bowl. It was not perfect but it looked better than when I started.I took the stem out of the Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and wiped it down with a cotton pad. I cleaned out the inside of the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol to remove the left over deoxidizer. The photos below show that it removed most of the oxidation but there were some stubborn spots left. The tooth dents are also very clear in the next photos of the stem. I wiped the stem down with alcohol and filled in the dents with a black super glue. I set the stem aside to let the repairs cure. When the glue had cured I worked on the fit of the stem in the shank. The tenon was still too big for the stem to sit properly in the shank so I sanded it down with 220 grit sandpaper. There were some high spots on the tenon that needed to be rounded out and cleaned up. Once that was completed the stem fit perfectly.Once the fit of the stem was correct, I turned to work on the stem itself. I wanted to blend the patched areas into the surface of the stem and also recut and redefine the button with needle files. I used a knife-edge needle file to redefine the sharp edge of the button and give it form. I also used it to flatten out the repaired areas on both sides of the stem.I smoothed out the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper and worked to blend them into the surface of the stem. I was a little concerned in that the repairs seemed to look almost red against the surface of the still oxidized vulcanite. I would have to work that to see if I could blend it in more. At worse the repairs will show but the pipe will be smokable.Now the frustration heightened – I really should have listened to my initial thoughts on this pipe. It was not worth working on. But I did not listen and now one of the reasons became more apparent. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads. The more I polished them the more the two repaired spots on the top of the stem showed a red colour. I have never had that happen before. I cleaned the stems before patching them with alcohol and dried them off. I used black super glue for the repairs, like I have many times before. Yet this time the repairs show a red tint. I have no idea what is going on with this repair. Fortunately it is one that I am calling finished. It was just a quick clean up on a badly damaged pipe. The stem is functionally very good just those spots are irritating. I used micromesh sanding pads to polish the stem – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad and set it aside to dry after the 12000 grit pad. I was irritated with the way the pipe looked – both bowl and stem. They were ragged looking still and even though they were better they were not what I like to see in a finished pipe. I was finished though as I decided that more work would not improve the damaged pipe. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I hoped that the buffing might blend the repairs into the surface of the stem. While they certainly looked better they still showed. The overall look of the pipe was much better than when I started. The damage to the back side top edge of the meerschaum bowl liner was significant but the pipe was still able to be smoked. It was clean and would certainly make a workable yard pipe. I have boxed the pipe with the rest of Steve’s pipes and have them packed and ready to send to Dawson Creek. I am hoping he enjoys the lot and gives them a good workout in the days ahead. Thanks for looking.

 

Realizing my dream for a rebornpipes community


Blog by Steve Laug

Over the years of my dabbling in pipe restoration and refurbishing I have experienced many helpful individuals who took time to school me in the work that I do. Both repair people and pipe makers took time to answer my questions as they arose. They would do so by email, phone or in person. I never ran into a situation where they were not willing to be interrupted to help me out with what to me was an “urgent” question. They often would follow-up on what I had asked to see if it had worked out or if I had further questions. I experienced a great sense of community with them in our common love of the pipe. When I could visit them, I did so and enjoyed a bowl together. The comradery was unequaled to other experiences I have had both in the hobby and outside the hobby in my various jobs.

When I started dreaming and working on the concept for rebornpipes it was early in 2012. I knew that I wanted to create an online community of pipe refurbishers – both amateur and those who make a living at it. I wanted that community to be like the one I continue to experience to this day. When I run into questions and want some advice from someone who has already done the repair I just reach out with an email or a phone call. I wanted to create a place where folks who refurbish pipes could share their expertise and methods with one another and continue to learn new ways of working on the briar we love. I wanted it to be a judgmental free forum of methods and ideas of restoration. I wanted it to be a place were a beginner and a veteran refurbisher would find a forum of ideas and methods. What I am speaking of is quite simply an interactive community where there are no “dumb questions”. All of us can reach forward to someone who knows more than we do and back to someone who is just beginning. I was hoping that kind of place would be possible to start.

When I began the blog in May of 2012, I had no idea whether it would fly or whether I would be closing up shop soon after opening. I knew that I was putting together a repository of the methods of restoring pipes that I had collected over years of working on my own pipes. I have always recorded the process of restoration as I often posted them on the various pipe forums that I frequented at that time. I had a backlog of files with photos and step-by-step procedures that I had taken on each pipe I worked on. I established a template for the writing style and the form of each piece I had written. At that point in time, I could find no one who was doing anything remotely like I wanted to do, so I had to invent it myself.

I researched the web to find some kind of place to build the site I had in mind. I knew that I did not want a website or a forum. I wanted something that did not limit the number of photos or the number of words I wrote in a post. I wanted something that would grow with time and be able to incorporate the work of others, not just myself. I wanted the site to have the capacity for discussion and interaction on each post. I had a lot of ideas that needed to be available for the site to work for me. My youngest daughter, Sarah had started a blog on WordPress and suggested that a blog might be the right kind of format for what I wanted to do. I went on the WordPress site and read through everything they had on setting up a blog on their site.

I worked through the site and everything I looked at seemed like it was perfect for my demands. I took the plunge and registered for a free blog on WordPress. I knew next to nothing about setting up a blog and adding text or photos. I knew next to nothing about inviting others to use the blog. I had no idea how to monitor it and screen out the incessant spam that comes with any internet adventure. I was as green as could be with regard to the world of blogging. I knew how to write and I had a large backlog of pieces that I could post. The adventure began. I don’t remember how many posts I put online before I advertised it on Smokers Forums and other Forums – maybe 25 or so. I did not know at that time how to link it to Facebook or Twitter for a larger reach. I just dived in and went from there. Not long after I began, a friend from England on Smokers Forums drew a header image for the new blog. Kirk sent me the following piece that he had put together. I grace the top of every page of the site for several years. I have included it below, because even that was a foretaste of the community I was dreaming would form around rebornpipes.I will never forget the moment that Neill Archer Roan read a couple of pieces on the blog (maybe more) and recommended my blog on his Passion for Pipes site. That is where things really took off for rebornpipes. Traffic increased over time. I asked Al Jones (upshallfan) if he would consider writing for the blog about his restoration work. I started haunting the restoration and refurbishing sections on the forums and asking people to contribute to the blog. Slowly at first, then with increasing momentum, new contributors were added and the blog began to come alive. The one piece I had yet to unravel was how to get readers to interact with the writers of each blog. I invited them and emailed others to kind of seed the idea but nothing seemed to work. I laid that aside and hoped that one day it would just happen.

The years have actually flown by and I can hardly believe that five years have already passed. Much of what I dreamed would happen has happened. New people write regularly thanking me for starting this blog. Others post on Facebook, Twitter, and the forums referencing to rebornpipes and thanking the writers and contributors of blogs to the site. The interaction between readers and  writers grows every month and new followers are added daily. A growing and vibrant community of refurbishers provides the knowledge base to folks who are just beginning to explore the world of pipe refurbishing. Questions are asked, comments are made and recommendations are given through the comment feature on the blogs. A store, selling refurbished pipes is also available and links to other refurbishers who are selling their work are regularly provided in the pieces that they  write. I am thrilled with the life that rebornpipes has now as it is daily growing into the place that I dreamed it would be.

On June 1, 2017 I wrote a blog reflecting on rebornpipes fifth year in existence. You can read the entire blog at this link: https://rebornpipes.com/2017/06/01/rebornpipes-is-five-years-old-thank-you/. I want to quote just a part of it here as it illustrates how my original dream is being fulfilled. Today at the five-year mark, I look back and the blog has taken on a life of its own. It has grown from just my own posts to those of over 20 contributors. Al Jones (upshallfan) has been with me from the beginning and I am thankful for his support and friendship. Throughout the years, other contributors have come and gone and new ones are added regularly. Each one brings their own flavor and flair to the work of refurbishing. Their style and innovations leave me excited to read the next post… I thank each one of you who have contributed to the blog so far and remind the readers that the door is always open for you to make your own contributions to the hobby. Email me at slaug@uniserve.com for information on post formats and details.

What does the future hold for rebornpipes? To be honest it is just now coming to life in the way I had dreamed it would. Out of it, others have created their own blogs that contribute to the love of pipe restoration. Some of them certainly could speak for themselves how rebornpipes contributed or has not contributed to their own blog and I will leave that to them if they choose to do so. I have no idea where the blog will go or what its life expectancy will be but I am committed to continue to post and pay the bills to keep it going as long as I am able. It remains a major part of each day to read and do the housekeeping on the blog. I have the app on my iPad and my iPhone so I can do the work wherever I am at the moment. My morning begins with a cup of coffee and reading what others have posted and commented from around the world while I slept.

Once again I want to thank you all – those dreamers among you who contribute your own work, those of you who read and comment faithfully now, those of you who read and email to let me know how much you are enjoying the blog and all who are loyal readers and enjoy the blog on your own. Thank you to each of you who send questions and now contact me through the contact button on the front page for help in your own restorations. It is a pleasure to be able to help you as you work on your own restorations and repairs. It is a joy for me to see my dream coming to pass. It is a joy to be a part of the community that has formed around rebornpipes.

I raise my pipe to each of you who love the work of refurbishing, bringing old pipes back to life and passing on the trust that is symbolized in a briar that outlives each of us. It is because of that commonality that I continue to work and continue to post. Thank you all.

72. The New Arklow Custom Line from Smokingpipes


I like the looks of this new line of Peterson’s Pipes. May have to add one. Thanks Mark for keeping these in front of us!

peterson pipe notes

As we discuss in the book, Peterson has a long-standing tradition of customization and design collaboration that stretches back to the first decades of the company. This could be anything from a short run of a single pipe, like the 307 System sandblast currently available for pre-order from Cupojoes.com for the Pipe Smokers of Ireland Facebook club, to a commemorative like the 135 numbered pieces produced for the James Fox 135th Anniversary last year, to a full-fledged line for a large retailer like Laudisi (Smokingpipes.com). These special edition pipes are of great interest to Pete Nuts, and I always enjoy hearing about them and how they came about.

A few weeks back, one of the finest examples I’ve seen in a long time of a custom-line collaboration appeared at Smokingpipes, one that just begs to be seen all in one place. So I got in touch with Sykes Wilford at…

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Cleaning up a sad “the Pipe” Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

I have hinted at the fact that my friend Steve from Dawson Creek included two pipes in his box of pipes for me to refurbish that I had relegated to a “not worth doing” category. One of these was a Hilson Fantasia – Resin bowl and shank with a meerschaum lining and a plastic pipe stamped “the Pipe” that has a pyrolytic graphite bowl lining and a phenolic resin exterior. When I was working on the last one, the Kriswill made Danish Crown pipe I thought I would just do a clean up on these two just to be able to send a clean batch of pipes back to Steve.

I decided to begin working on the pipe labeled “the Pipe”. I have never paid attention to these pipes and have actually never had one in hand until this moment. I have avoided buying them or even being gifted one of them. I just was not interested in this combination of phenolic resin and pyrolytic graphite at all. I am generally intrigued by the unusual as those of you who follow the blog know, but this one had no draw for me. It was a bit of a mess. The bowl had a crumbling cake that was uneven. It had flowed over the rim top leaving it a mess. The outer edge of the bowl had been knocked against hard surfaces to empty the bowl leaving behind characteristic dents and chips. The right side of the bowl and the entire shank was scratched with deep scratches that carried on up the stem. The top and underside of the stem was also covered with bite marks and tooth chatter. The pipe looked pretty sad with all of the damage. I wondered if I could make it look any better and to be honest, if there was a point to doing so.

I took photos of the pipe before I started for comparison sake. Once I was finished I could look back and see if my work had made any difference at all. I wanted to get a quick education regarding the manufacture and date of this brand of pipes. My gut feel was that it was a product of the 60s and 70s. I looked up the brand on Pipedia and found that it began in 1963. There was a good summary of the history of the brand there. The Super-Temp Corporation who started making plastic pipes with pyrolytic graphite bowl liners made it. They called them “the Pipe”. In 1965, Super-Temp contracted to market their unique pipes through Venturi, Inc., the company that sold Tar Gard cigarette filters. Colors and stripes were added to the pipes that were offered circa 1967. About 1970, THE SMOKE pipes were added to the line – they were non-traditional shapes with a less expensive bowl liner. Venturi pipes were added around 1972 – they had no liner in the bowls at all. The pipes were out of production by 1975 (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Super-Temp). If you would like to read more about the brand, including a comprehensive history visit Dr. Billie W. Taylor’s site http://www.thepipe.info/. He is a collector of the Super-Temp Corporation pipes. He is a source of incredible information if you want to tap into it.

I took a close up photo of the bowl and the rim top to show the condition of both. The cake is heavy in the bowl and overflowing onto the black rim. It is hard to see because both the bowl insert and the exterior of the pipe are black. You can also see the damage on the outer edges of the bowl.The stem damage was one of the most worrisome parts of this restoration. The scratches running both the length of the stem and across the stem had left deep marks. Underneath and on top of those scratches there was a lot of small tooth marks and chatter that would need to be sanded out. The scratches extended up the top side and partly up both the right and left side of the shank. There were even scratches on the right side of the bowl. It was almost as if the pipe had road rash from being dragged across concrete or asphalt. The stem was not vulcanite so it would be hard to polish. It was going to be an interesting part of the work on this pipe. The stamping on the left side of the shank was very clear and readable. It was deeply embossed and no amount of sanding to remove the scratching would damage it. The stem was held snug in the shank by a rubber grommet that fit over the tenon. This was replaceable as the rubber wore out and air leaked by. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and carefully took the cake back to the graphite bowl insert. I left a little cake to protect the insert and cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. Using the knife I scraped the bowl back to bare walls and scraped the rim top free of the buildup of lava that was there.I scraped the top of the bowl with the edges of the Savinelli Fitsall Knife to remove the lava build up. Once I had the majority of it off I polished the rim with 1500 grit micromesh sanding pads to polish both the bowl insert and the rim top. I sanded the outer edges of the bowl to smooth out the damage to the edge of the bowl.I polished the entire bowl with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad using a damp cotton pad. I worked on the left side of the bowl and the top and left side of the shank where there were a lot of deep scratches running both vertically and horizontally on both. I polished the shank and bowl with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down after each pad with the damp cotton pad. When I finished with the 12000 grit pad I buffed the bowl on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond to polish it further. The photos below tell the story. With the bowl finished for now, I turned to work on the horrendous damage to the stem. It was in rough shape as was seen in the above photos. I sanded the surface of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the scratches. It took a lot of sanding but I was able to remove almost all of them on the top and underside of the stem. I ran a pipe cleaner through the stem to clean out any debris that might have been in the airway before continuing on the stem. I used black super glue to fill in the small tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem at the button. I sanded the repaired areas with 220 grit sandpaper until the repairs blended into the surface of the stem. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. After the final 12000 grit pad I gave it a last coat of the Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I had already spent quite a few hours working over the badly gouged and scratched stem and I was able to remove many of the scratches. I tried to lightly buff the pipe to remove more of them but the nylon stem resists buffing too much as it heats quickly and melts. I decided to call the pipe finished at this point. It was not going to get much better without many more hours of work that I am unable to give it. I buffed the bowl on the buffing wheel with Blue Diamond to buff out some more of the scratches on the shank and right side. I gave the bowl a buff with a clean buffing pad. I polished the stem with Before & After Pipe Polish – both fine and extra fine. I did not bother giving the stem a carnauba coat as it is plastic and the wax does not do much. I hand waxed the stem with Conservator’s Wax to polish it more. The finished pipe is far from perfect but it is better than when I started. I will box it up later this week when I finish the Hilson Fantasia I have left and then mail it back to Steve in Dawson Creek, BC. Thanks for looking.

 

A Review – Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and Fine and Extra Fine Polishes


Blog by Steve Laug

Before I write a review of a product I commit myself to use it for at least a month on a variety of pipes that have the issues that it was designed to address. I figure that during this time I will either have good reason to reject it as not helpful or to be sold on it enough to add it to my normal pipe cleaning and restoration routine. I clean and refurbish quite a few pipes each month so a product that says it will do such and such a job better deliver or it goes into the waste can. I don’t have time for products that do what I already can do at least as well with what I have.

So committed to giving the product a solid trial, I purchased a small bottle of the Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and a jar of each of the Polishes. I have to admit up front, that I purchased this product with low expectations. I fully expected it to fit the “I already have products that work this well” category or that it would not deliver at all. I have tried a lot of stem polishes and deoxidizers over the years and they sit in the drawer wasting away with neglect. I was dubious from the start with this one, but I was committed to varying my routine and trying it out.

I begin the review with a little background information on the product, the cost and a few added instructions. I include the latter category because I missed it the first time around and it almost caused me to miss out on using a product that works well.

Background

I became acquainted with the Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and Polishes from posts on Facebook. For several months, I followed the work of Mark Hoover on the Gentlemen’s Pipe Smoking Society group on Facebook. He posted some of the most oxidized stems and then posted what they looked like after he used a product that he developed originally for working on pens. I kept reading and looking and just did not bite. I have used many different people’s concoctions for removing oxidation from stems and really none of them actually did it any better than a lot of elbow grease and time. But there was something about the work he posted that caught my eye and kept me looking. I think the thing that hooked me was that he did a stem and his product cleaned up the stem and left the logo stamp intact. It did no harm the paint in the stamp and it did not need any protection on the stamp before the product was used.

Product and Cost

I wrote Mark using Facebook Messenger and asked him about the product and its availability in Canada. He wrote back almost immediately and said that he had shipped quite a few bottles to Canada and had no difficulties with it. He had some available in two different sizes – 8 ounces and 16 ounces. He said that each bottle had slightly more than the label said as he overfilled them. He said that each bottle would do quite a few stems depending on the level of oxidation. He figures that an 8 ounce bottle will do at least 15-20 stems heavily oxidized stems. The less oxidation on the stems the greater the number of stems that can be done.

The cost of the product was $20 USD for an 8 ounce bottle and $40 USD for a 16 ounce bottle. He also sold a Fine and an Extra Fine Pipe Stem Polish. The price of each jar of the polish was $12 USD. He said that a jar of polish can take care of between 40 and 50 stems. He said that it was available on his pen website, http://www.lbepen.com/ and that there were instructions for using it on the home page of the pen site. The product is label as Hard Rubber Deoxidizer on the site but it is the same thing. We wrote a few messages back and forth and we struck a deal. I quickly made a payment via PayPal and the product was on its way to Vancouver.

Added Instructions

Once I made the order Mark wrote and suggested I pick up a few items to have on hand when the product arrived.

1. Mineral oil, as it is what he used to clean the stem after using the product. He also added that I not use water as it is not good for rubber (that is already a given for me). He used medical grade mineral oil as all the impurities have been removed.

2. Old T-shirts to use as rags for cleaning the stems.

3. An airtight container for the product as it will dry out if left open. Use the product as it is when it arrives, just pour it into the container.

He added some additional notes that I also found helpful.

1. The product is reusable and can be left in the airtight container. He did say that eventually the product will not work as well of course and should be replaced.

2. He suggested that I could soak around 10-15 at a time as it will save on the product that I need to use.

3. If the stems are very oxidized put them in for about 45 minutes, pull them out and rub them down then put them back in.

4. For very minor oxidation they might only need to soak for 15 minutes.

Learning to use the Deoxidizer – or before using, read the directions.

I received the package from Mark quite quickly considering it had to cross the Canadian/US border and clear customs. When it arrived, I tried using it by painting it onto lightly oxidized stems and found that it made no significant difference to my work load. Using it the way I was merely added one more step to my process of dealing with oxidation. I used this method for almost a month. I applied the deoxidizer to the stems with a cotton pad and scrubbed the stems repeatedly trying to remove the oxidation. I was less than impressed with the product at this point and laid it aside for a month. It sat on the corner of my work table irritating me for the month.After a month of misfires due to my lack of reading the instructions, I was ready to pitch the product in the can and call it a bust. It just was not delivering what I saw in Mark’s posts. Even on the lightly oxidized stems, it did not deliver. However, because I had spent the money and had the product in hand I decided to contact Mark. I am after a cheap skate and I had spent money on this stuff. I wrote and asked him some follow-up questions regarding how he used the product. I figured that I had nothing to lose.

Mark was gracious and highlighted what he had written to me before. He reminded me that the instructions were on his website. I ashamedly acknowledged that I had not read the instructions – something my wife and daughters will tell you is a common malady of mine. I immediately went back and reread his instructions. I printed a copy off his website so I had a hard copy. I found an airtight container and poured the Deoxidizer solution into it. I read that Mark said to maximize the solution by putting in multiple stems at a time to soak. I thought I would push it and put in a whopping five stems. 😉

I followed the instructions religiously this time so as not to repeat the earlier fiasco. He said to leave them in the solution for 45 minutes so I did just that. After 45 minutes, I removed them from the bath. I wiped them down with an old cloth and ran pipe cleaners through the airway to clean them. I had no mineral oil so I used some 99% isopropyl alcohol and it worked really well to remove the sticky solution from the stem. I rubbed the stem quite vigorously to remove the solution from the surface and found that it did a great job of removing the oxidation. The lighter the oxidation the more quickly it came off and left the stem clean of oxidation.

I did a bit of experimenting with the product, took five of my more heavily oxidized stems, and left them in the container of solution overnight. I come from the school of “if one pill is enough then more is better, right”. In the morning, I did not quite know what to expect. I opened the air tight container and peered inside. I was not sure if I would see my stems dissolved into blobs of rubber or worse yet still horribly oxidized. I fished them out of bath and was surprised at how black they looked and at how brown the solution in the container was. I rubbed them down with a cloth and if you were there, you would have heard my exclamation of surprise. The oxidation was gone and the stems were black. They were a little dull but they were black. The ugly oxidation was gone. Even more interesting was that several of them had embossed logo stamping on the stem side. The product did not damage the stamping at all and when I wiped the stems down the embossed stamp remained unscathed.

Okay, at this point I was beginning to get the picture. I could have saved a lot of frustration if I had read Mark’s instructions. This product worked like a champ. It removed the oxidation with little effort on my part other than wiping down the stems and rubbing them dry. I cleaned them before I put them in the solution as part of my routine. After discovering that the product worked that well I started putting in 5-7 stems at a time. At this point I have soaked close to 30 stems in the solution. It is beginning to turn brown but it still works very well. I intend to push it to the limit and see exactly how many stems I can run through the solution before it begins to fail.

After putting the Deoxidizer through a workout for the past two months I am pleased with the product. I recommend the product with no reservations. It works better than any of the other products I have used. It is non-toxic and does not damage the stamping or logos on the stems. It has saved me quite a bit of time and while the stems soak, I can restore the bowls. It is worth the investment I made in it. I intend on ordering a larger jar of the Deoxidizer so I have it on hand when the current batch fails.

 Before & After Pipe Polish – Fine and Extra FineI ordered a jar of the Fine and Extra Fine Pipe Polish at the same time I ordered the Deoxidizer. I decided to use them as Mark intended them to be used. On his website he describes the polishes. I begin this review of the polishes with his own description (on the website he speaks of using the polish on pens but the same polish is used for stems as they were designed for use on rubber).

Though these polishes are specifically designed for hard rubber and celluloid they do work well on other types of pen plastics. All of our polishes are made using the highest quality products.  These products are designed to not only recondition your pen but also to provide a layer of protection. All of the products used in these polishes are non-toxic and environmentally friendly.  There are two different polishes. Fine and Extra Fine. We recommend both as some pens will show more wear then others. Often one will work on a pen using the Fine polish and finish with the Extra Fine. The polishes are be sold in 2 ounce jars. The cost is 12.00 per jar. The number of pens one can restore will of course vary depending on the wear that each pen shows. I have restored from 75-150 pens per jar.

I have been using the polishes to polish the stems that come out of the Deoxidizer bath. They work very well and because they are not heavily gritty they do not scratch vulcanite or acrylic stems. They also dissolve quite quickly leaving a light oil on the surface of the stem which can be rubbed in with a cotton pad or cloth. I use the Fine Polish first and apply it to the stem with a finger and then scrub the stem with a cotton pad to polish it. I wiped it down and remove the oil on the surface. I use the Extra Fine Polish next and repeat the process.

I have found that the two polishes each remove residual oxidation from the stem that the Deoxidizer leaves behind. Often this oxidation cannot even be seen with casual observation. It shows up when I look at the cotton pads I am using. The pads always come out with the residue of the dark, grey-black polish and a lot of brown oxidation around the edges. The polish goes a lot further than the Deoxidizer. As Mark said on his website regarding pens, I can affirm regarding stems. I have used the product on over 60 stems so far and I have a lot of polishing compound left in each jar.

Mark also has a Hard Rubber Balm that I have not tried. I think it will be in my next order to get a feel for how that product works on the pipe stems. Over all I am very pleased with Mark’s products – the Deoxidizer and the Fine and Extra Fine Polishes. They deliver what he promised they would deliver and in doing so have made my work on stems a lot easier. They are a significant contribution to the pipe refurbishing tool box. You should really try some out and see for yourself. Thanks Mark.

His website is www.lbepen.com and the product can be ordered from the site or you can send him a message on Facebook to Mark Hoover.