Author Archives: Greg

About Greg

I am medically retired from my 'career', have been for about 5 years now. For quite some time I missed my old job a lot. I enjoyed it, I was good at it and didn't have any desire to do anything else. But the Lord had other plans for me. Now He has called me to work for Him. He has graciously given me some talent to work with words. He has also seen fit to guide me with the Holy Spirit to study and comprehend His Word. Don't misunderstand; I am no scholar nor a pastor. I'm just trying to be obedient to my Lord and Savior and do what He asks me, in a way that would please and bring glory to His holy Name.

Reworking a Chewed Savinelli Alligator Stem


I picked up this Savinelli Alligator from a life-long friend some time back, along with a meerschaum pipe. They both needed a good cleaning but they also needed major stem repair. My friend is a clencher, an understatement, to be sure, and had bitten through both stems. When I saw the pipes I asked him if an alligator had been smoking the Alligator! I have lost the “before” pictures on this one so I’ll have to describe the condition it was presented to me in.

I’ve found that pipes with green stain don’t seem to fair very well; all of them loose their color in my experience. This Alligator was no exception; it was a grimy natural color with only a hint of green in the rustication. The bowl was heavily caked with a crumbly vanilla cake and an overflow of lava on the rim. I did the normal clean up routine on it to get it ready for cosmetic work and stem repair.

The stem, as the photos show, had a sizable chunk missing. I had a few options that I considered. I thought about replacing the stem but that would mean sacrificing the original. It also was not an easy task to find a green lucite swirl that matched and was the right dimensions. I thought about trying to rebuild the end of the stem. I even ordered some epoxy pigment to color-match the repair. But it would be a huge repair and I wasn’t sure it would hold up.

After weighing my options I decided to cut off the damaged end, saving as much length as possible and cutting a new button. I used a Dremel cutoff wheel at 15k RMP to remove the end. I used a combination of files to thin and reshape the stem, cutting a new button in the process.

Once the button and stem were shaped to my satisfaction I began sanding and polishing it with wet/dry paper (220-grit) and the full range of micro mesh. I then polished the stem with Meguir’s ScratchX 2.0. The stem looked good; time for the stummel.

I cleaned the stummel with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the left over grime and oils. Then I applied a couple of coats of Fiebimg’s green leather dye, making sure I had a nice even coat. I buffed the pipe with white diamond to remove the extra dye and set up the shine on the wood and stem. I then gave the pipe several coats of carnauba wax and a hand buff with a micro fiber cloth.

The Alligator still has some battle scars but my buddy can smoke it once again. Our local university’s colors are green and white, the reason he bought a green pipe. I’m happy to say his Marshall University Pipe will ready for service come Homecoming game day.

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The Resurrection Special: Part 1


A few years back there was a thread on Pipes Magazine’s repair and restoration forum about three lots of pipes a member was giving away. The first lot was a very easy “beginner” lot, the second was slightly more challenging, and the last was called The Resurrection Special and had the most challenges. No information was given about the pipes or (as far as I recall) their issues.

The first two lots were spoken for fairly quickly but the third sat there, unloved, for a little while. After looking at the post for as long as I could stand I sent a PM to the original poster and said “I’ll bite; send them my way and I’ll see what I can do”.

When the long, medium sized box arrived on my doorstep I was excited to see what I had gotten myself into. I took them straight to the kitchen table (my wife wasn’t home so I could do that lol) and cut open the box. The contents were carefully packed in newspaper which held three bubble wrapped pipes. I was like a kid on Christmas morning getting ready to open each one!

The first pipe I opened was a lovely old Tracey Mincer Bulldog -type shape. I had seen photos of and read about Mincer’s different pipes but had never held or owned one yet.

The second pipe turned out to be a Peterson System pipe, my first both of this historic marquee and type. It was hallmarked 1973 and looked every day of it. I was a little intimidated by the work this one would take.

As I unwrapped the third pipe my mind was still on the Peterson and what a great pipe I hoped it would be after a lot of work went into it. The last pipe was just over medium in size I noted as the bubble wrap was peeled away. A silver band was the first thing to catch my attention, looking at the pipe upside down when it was finally out of its protective shroud.

I rolled the pipe over to look for it’s stamping. That’s when I saw it: A White Dot in the stem! “Surely not”, I thought to myself, “this can’t be a Dunhill, can it?” The nomenclature was very worn but readable enough to see it was a Dunhill. I immediately went to get my loupe to see what year the pipe was made, if possible. Looking it over under magnification I found two things I’d not yet seen: enough stamping to date the pipe and that the silver band was a repair for a cracked shank.

The discovery of the crack slowed me down a bit. I went to get a flashlight to inspect the pipe closer. The crack seemed to be well repaired with the band; that was a good find. But looking at the bowl I realized there was a pretty big crack in it, too. So much for my bit of relief … I decided to check the year of the pipe’s manufacture and leave the repair thoughts aside for now.

After a quick internet search I came up with a link to a Dunhill dating chart on Pipephil’s site. It took only a moment or so to find the results but it took a bit longer for the results to sink in. If I was reading everything right, this pipe dated to 1968, which is my birth year! I was giddy as a schoolgirl at this moment… and nervous as a cat at the same time.

At this point I had not worked on any pipe as (potentially) valuable as these. I also hadn’t tried to undertake any repairs as extensive as these looked to be. After a lot of debate, I finally decided to put the lot away until I’d tackled a few more repairs and had more experience under my belt and tools in my arsenal. Over time as I repaired and restored more pipes I began to raise my confidence levels. Each project I completed had as the goal getting me ready for the Resurrection Special lot.

About when I felt it was time to take on these challenges life threw a few curveballs at me, personal issues that put most of my hobby time on hold. Fast-forward a few years, it’s time to get to the Resurrection Special lot.

Looking more closely at the pipe when I unpacked it again I saw that much of my past inspection was correct: the shank repair and band were tight and holding well with no “feel” when I rubbed a fingernail over it, the pipe did date to 1968 as I thought, and the bowl would need work, though not as much as I thought. The pipe was very dirty, the rim being covered in a thick layer of lava. The stem had a little oxidation and some tooth dents. The silver band was tarnished.

I began with the rim; I had no idea of it’s condition under the lava and I wanted to see what I was dealing with. I used alcohol dipped cotton swabs to begin breaking down the thick layer. Once it was softened up some I used a knife-blade wax carving tool to scrape away the gunk. The rim was damaged under the lava, as I expected it to be; it would need to be topped. I decided here that I would take off as little wood as possible when I topped the bowl since I wanted to keep the shape as true as possible. I also decided that this wouldn’t be an attempt to make the pipe perfect; it (like me) had battle the scars of it’s life and I wanted to retain that character, too.

The bowl had been reamed before I received the pipe, most likely when the issue was discovered. What I had thought was a crack actually was heat fissures; they didn’t go all the way through the bowl. The outside of the bowl did have what appeared to be burns though; more on these in a bit.

I had read how Charles Lemon of Dad’s Pipes had done several successful bowl repairs with JBWeld and his own bowl coating. I messaged Charles and also looked up his article on bowl coating to try it myself. The recipe is simple: coat the bowl with maple syrup, fill it with activated charcoal powder, and wait for it to dry. (Actually there are a couple more steps, like putting a pipe cleaner in the stem, so make sure you read Charles’ article if you’re interested in trying this method.)

I mixed up some JBWeld and coated the area where the fissures were, using a toothpick to push the epoxy back into the cracks, after inserting a pipe cleaner in the shank through the air hole to keep it open. I used a pipe cleaner and my finger to smooth the repair out as well as I could. Then I sprinkled some activated charcoal powder on the wet repair and set the bowl aside for the epoxy to cure until the next day.

After the repair was dry I sanded it a little smoother with 220-grit paper. Unfortunately this took out most of the carbon I had applied so the full bowl coating would have to be done. But I waited until after all the work was completed to do that. I also topped the bowl to remove most of the rim damage using 220-grit paper.

While the bowl repair was curing I worked on the stem. I started with painting the stem with a Bic lighter to raise the dents as much as possible. You can see in the photos that there were still significant dents after flaming the stem. A crack in the underside of the button also appeared after the flaming. I began filling the dents and repairing the crack/button with black CA glue at this point. The climate has been very humid here so the CA glue cured extremely slowly.

I worked on the stem in multiple sessions over a period of days to complete it due to the slow curing time. Multiple patch layers were applied and shaped with needle files, a vulcrylic file, and sandpaper until I had an acceptable repair.

The next step was to wet sand the stem with the full range of micro mesh pads. Then I used both the fine and extra-fine Before and After Stem Polish. I buffed the stem with blue compound using a 1″ cotton wheel on my Dremel at about 13k RMP. While the stem wasn’t “perfect” it was very improved, definitely something I could live with and what I thought would go well with my goal for this restoration. It was time to get back to the stummel now.

I cleaned the surface of the briar with cotton pads and alcohol, removing the grime covering its surface. I decided to see what the pipe would look like with a gentle sanding. With 400-grit wet/dry paper I began with the rim, sanding out the scratches from topping the bowl. I began to work around the bowl with the 400- grit paper and noticed the burn mark on the side of the heat fissures seemed to be lightening so I started working at that spot. In short order the burn was all but gone. Apparently it wasn’t a burn at all but some kind of stain on the briar. As I sanded the stummel I avoided the nomenclature, and effectively the entire shank. The stamping was already terribly weak and I was not going to make it worse.

Avoiding the stamping presented another challenge: Now the shank was a different color than the bowl. I didn’t want to re-stain the pipe so I applied Before and After Restoration Balm to the wood and set it aside to work its magic for a bit.

I was surprised how well the wood blended in color after I hand buffed the balm off. It was now uniformly darkened, even the topped rim.

I had an idea that had been in the back of my head for a little while that I wanted to try on this pipe. The nomenclature being so weak, I wanted to try to enhance it if I could. But I didn’t want to try to deepen the stamping or anything of that sort. What I decided to try was applying some Rub’N Buff ebony wax. This was a brand new idea (to me) and I really didn’t know if it would work or not.

I put a small amount of the ebony wax on the shank and spread it thinly over the entire shank, continuing to buff it with my thumb until the color went from opaque to translucent. I then applied a couple of coats to the rest of the pipe until I had even coverage.

I was really happy with the results. The color was even and highlighted the grain a bit. The stamping was also strengthened I think, much better than it had started out. While still not “strong” (I don’t think that can ever be restored) it was more readable.

I buffed the stummel with Tripoli and then white diamond, both using the Dremel and 1″ cotton wheels at about 13k RMP. I then put the stem back on the pipe and gave the entire pipe several coats of Carnuaba Wax, again with the Dremel and a 1″ cotton wheel at about 15k RPM. (I find the slightly faster speed does a far better job for the Carnuaba Wax.)

I’m still waiting for the bowl coating to cure so I’ve yet to christen the pipe. But I’m very happy with the results of this project. While it may not be a perfect specimen nor hold a lot of monetary value, to me it is a prize possession; my first Dunhill, and a birth-year Dunny to boot!

An easy step back in: Peterson System 312 refurbishment


After almost two years of hard looking, my wife and I are finally in a new house. The new place has no stairs, one of our biggest “have to haves” on the home-buying list and a decent size room for me to work in, among other things. After having most of my pipes and tools packed up for an extended period, I have almost got my new work area all set up. I have had to make a few concessions – no room for my buffer, for instance – but it sure is good to have an accessible work area again!

I dug out a few pipes to get started back on: two GBDs (a Virgin billiard and a French made Rhodesian), a well-smoked Dr. Grabow Omega, and a dirty but in good shape Peterson System Standard 312. I started on all four at once, jumping from pipe-to-pipe over the course of a week or so. Being out of practice, I forgot to take many pictures but do have before and after shots. For this post I will focus on the Peterson.

The pipe was in good condition overall, just very dirty. I took a few photos along side the Omega before I got started on it.

The nomenclature is very readable, showing I have a Republic Era System Standard 312. The faux hallmarks on the shank cap tell us that it dates from 1949-1963. The stummel has beautiful old-style rustication, which I much prefer. The stem was is very good shape, too, with very little oxidation or dents; the P-logo was very strong to my surprise.

I began by reaming the bowl with my PipNet reamer with the smallest cutter then progressed to a Decatur pipe knife (very similar to a Savinelli FitsAll) and 220-grit sandpaper to smooth out the inner walls. The bowl was in good condition and needed no extra attention.

I moved to cleaning out the internals with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. The stem was very clean, needing only a couple of pipe cleaners to finish it up. The stummel was a different story. The sump and airway were caked with oils and tar. I scraped out what I could with a wax-carving tool, similar to a dental pick, and cotton swabs dipped in alcohol. I then put a cotton ball in the bowl and filled it with alcohol from the sump-side and left it overnight. The next day the cotton ball was thick with funk drawn from the briar and the inside of the bowl still somewhat sticky. I decided to give it another treatment and left it until the next day, periodically adding alcohol through the day.

The next day the cotton ball was equally dirty but the interior of the bowl was no longer gunky. I returned to cotton swabs dipped in alcohol, cleaning the airway and sump unit they were clean.

I moved to the stem and some 400-grit wet/dry paper to remove the light oxidation. After that was cleaned off I put a drop or so of CA glue on the small tooth dents and set the stem aside for the glue to cure until the next day.

In the morning I cleaned the stummel with cotton pads and swabs with a bit of alcohol to remove the grime in the bowl and the lava build up on the rim. I was slow and careful because the finish was in good condition and I didn’t wasn’t to strip it or the stain. The rim was the most time consuming but after a good bit of elbow grease it and the stummel came clean. With the stummel clean I gave it a rub down with Before and After Restoration Balm, rubbing it in the rustication well and sitting it aside to penetrate for a bit.

I checked the stem to see if the CA glue was cured and it was so I began smoothing the patch. I used a needle file and sandpaper files to blend the patch into the stem. I then used 1″ buffing wheels on my Dremel to buff the stem with brown and then blue compounds at about 12,000 rpms. I feel that the Dremel actually gives me more precise control than the full size buffer … and I don’t shoot anything across the room with it! I applied acrylic Titanium White paint to the logo to highlight it as it should be. Then I used the Before and After Restoration stem polish, both fine and extra-fine, before applying Carnuba wax with the Dremel.

It was time to remove the restoration balm from the stummel now; I used an old cotton shirt for this. I applied two coats of Renaissance Wax to the rusticated surface, buffing it off by hand with an old flannel rag. To finish up the stummel I buffed it lightly with Carnuba wax which really raised the shine to the high points. The finished pipe is below.

I am smoking the second “short bowl” of C&D Haunted Bookshop in it as I finish typing this post. I’m extremely pleased with how it turned out and, so far, it seems it will smoke as good as it looks. Not a bad start back into this wonderful hobby if I do say so myself.

A Pre-Republic Peterson System Standard Reborn


A month or so ago I was trolling eBay and ran across what I thought might be a Pre-Republic Peterson System 313.  I am not very learned in the different eras of many pipe companies but was fairly certain if I read the no-so-clear nomenclature right this was indeed a Pre-Republic era Peterson. Here are the photos the seller provided:

The pipe looked to be in pretty good shape so I thought I would take a shot at it. The seller had a Buy It Now or best offer price on it so I submitted my offer and went to do some research on the nomenclature in case my offer was accepted.After searching on Pipepedia and Pipephil I was sure that the pipe was indeed a Pre-Republic model. (The following photo shows the nomenclature and the small defect in the briar that probably kept it from being a higher grade pipe. The stamping reads “Made” on the top of the circle, “Ireland” in the bottom, and “in” in the center. These photos were taken by me after the restoration.)

A few hours later I received a counteroffer from the seller which I accepted. The seller was in Peru so now it was time for the dreaded wait.

When the pipe finally arrived I was eager to tear into the box to see what I had! When I took the pipe out of the protective wrapping my first thought was “Wow, this thing is tiny!”. I have one over System pipe that is an XL315, a pretty large pipe. I didn’t realize the 313 was going to be comparatively diminutive in size! I was pleased to see that the nomenclature was stronger than I expected it to be and that the pipe was in pretty well as-shown condition; there was a deep burn on the front, inside of the bowl that I didn’t make out in the photos. Here are a few pictures I took upon getting the pipe unpacked.

I dropped the stem in a warm Oxiclean bath while I began to clean the dirt and grime from the stummel. As I removed years worth of crud with cotton pads and both alcohol and acetone I began to really like what I was seeing! There were a few issues showing up now, but not anything too major: the rim cleaned up well but was burned worse than I thought, the nickle band had loosened over time and move up a little and was stained with tars (I think). All of these things were in my mind a good trade-off for the better than expected stamping though.

When I took the stem from the Oxiclean bath I scrubbed it down with a magic eraser to take off the loosened oxidation. Here’s what the pipe looked like at his stage; you can see the line where the band has moved over time.img_0207It was now time to start cleaning the internals of both the stem and stummel.

As I mentioned, this pipe has a rather small bowl; my smallest cutter on my PipNet set wouldn’t fit inside the bowl to ream it! The cake was hard but not terribly thick so I used the blade on my Sheffield pipe tool and some 320 wet/dry paper to ream back to bare briar. while I was doing the reaming I found was the burn on the rim was soft and would require more than just topping it. I decided to finish the internals before turning my attention to this problem.

I took a cotton swab soaked in alcohol and ran it through the stem; the P-Lip stem has a graduated airway, starting out very open and narrowing as it get closer to the button. As I turned the stem over to scrub the inside with the cotton swab a horrible goo ran out of the P-Lip!img_0200Needless to say, the pile of cotton swabs and pipe cleaners were only a representative sample of what it took to get the stem clean. And the well/mortise and airway of the pipe was equally nasty’ I really hadn’t expected this given the maintained cake in the bowl. I stuffed a cotton ball in the bowl and a cotton swab in the air hole, filled the bowl with alcohol and left it to sit over night. I completed cleaning inside the stem before going to bed.

The next day I removed the tar-stained cotton ball and swab from the stummel and  began to work on the burned rim issue after the pipe had dried an hour or two. I began by topping the bowl with 320 wet/dry sandpaper, checking my progress often. There was another smaller darkened area I wanted to remove, too, if I could, but I didn’t want to remove more briar than I had to.When the smaller spot was gone and the worse spot was improved I wiped the bowl down with alcohol to clean any remaining dust from it’s surface and began to polish it with micro mesh. I got up to about 2400, I think, and decided the burn was still too noticeable. I went back to work on the rim with a folded piece of 320 grit paper and worked a bevel on the inner edge of the bowl, then repeated polishing with micro mesh as before. The results were much better to my eye.

I moved on to the stem now, setting the bowl aside for later. The stem wasn’t in particularly bad shape, mostly just oxidized, as some of the previous photos show.There was a couple of deeper tooth marks on the bottom and top near the button that had to be filled. I sanded the oxidation off using 320 grit paper then cleaned the stem well with alcohol on a cotton pad. I picked at the deepest dents and the button “steps” with a small “toothpick” knife I have to make sure all the oxidation was out of the dents and grooves. After giving the areas a spray of CA glue accelerator I applied clear CA glue to both spots, gave it another spray and then let it sit a few hours to cure well; I didn’t want the glue to run while it cured or I might have skipped the accelerator altogether. (I didn’t remember to take many photos during this process.) After the glue cured I used needle files and sandpaper to smooth and better blend the patches, after which I polished the stem with the full range of micro mesh pads, 1500-12000.

Now that the stem and stummel were fully ready, I moved to the downstairs workshop for the finishing touches on everything. I began with my heat gun, warming the band to expand it and press it back in place; I pressed it into an old buffing wheel, using the center hole to help fix the slight out-or-roundness that had gotten in the band, too.

Next I used a dark brown stain pen to re-stain the bowl. I covered it entirely, as evenly as possible, twice and let it dry for a little while before using another alcohol dampened cotton pad to wipe off some of the excess to allow the grain to shine through. Next up was buffing with the Dremel. I used brown Tripoli on the stummel and nickle band first and then white diamond and blue compound on both the stummel and stem. I finished up with a few coats of carnauba wax on the entire pipe and a hand buff with a micro fiber clothe to raise a nice shine. I am really pleased with how the pipe came out overall and think the beveled rim idea to fix the burned area blended in very well. Before you see the finished pipe I must confess the first bowl I smoked in it was horrid! I had to go back and do a second alcohol treatment and I soaked the stem in alcohol and cleaned it again, too. The second cotton ball was even more tar-stained than the first! I had to re-wax and buff the whole pipe, too. But the next bowls proved it was well worth the effort as the pipe now smokes dry and sweet!

Polishing a Chair Leg/Fancy Stem


I have a GBD Tapestry that I am restoring, hopefully it will be done in the next day or so. I really like the Tapestry line; this makes my second one in different shapes. They have a fancy “chair leg” stem that while attractive are a pain to polish, especially if they are heavily oxidized, as this one was. 


You can see the “problem” areas in the photos. Unfortunately I forgot to take photos before beginning to remove the oxidation and calcification, which were quite thick. 

Remembering back to the first one I restored, I thought that sharing the method I use on this type of stem would be helpful to others. It’s not a fast process but it is pretty well foolproof because no machines are used, only “you power” and buffing compound on a piece of thin leather lace. 

I use 3/32″ lace but it also comes in 1/4″. I imagine other materials would work, too. I drag the lace across the bar of compound to load it after putting the stem in a hobby vise. (I use this table top vise with only my hand for holding the vise in place – it has rubbed coated jaws – so I don’t put too much stress on the stem and possibly break it.) I take one end of the lace in each hand and rub it using a “sawing” motion (pull the lace toward me with my right hand, then my left, repeat) in the crevices, reloading the compound as needed, until the oxidation is gone. 

It does require some time and effort but there’s almost no chance of getting the stem out of shape, ruining the graceful lines, or breaking it. 

Peterson Kildare Marathon Restoration


This year has been a roller coaster ride for me; between added responsibilities of watching our new grandson, health issues, and a flair up of my spinal stenosis that put me down for almost two months, I have been unable to do any of my hobbies. Unfortunately this has put a couple of friends that I have pipes to work on in a state of limbo waiting on me. They are not easy clean-ups and they knew going in I am slow – but still I feel badly about it.

This Peterson Kildare 106 billiard had been in my possession for ages it seems to me at least. I have worked on it off and on, loosing track if my progress (and many of my notes and photos) of the process. It went out in the mail today I am happy to say (and the owner is probably happier to hear!).

I knew the pipe needed stem work mostly but when it arrived at my home it was in worse condition than I had anticipated. The stem was really badly gnawed on, with an extra hole bitten through on the bottom. The pipe was very dirty and there was a fill that had partly fallen out; that didn’t really bother the owner, as I recall, but it made me nuts! Here is a look at what the pipe looked like when I got it.

I began cleaning the internals which weren’t bad as it turns out. I cleaned the stummel with alcohol and cotton pads, removing the grime, exposing the missing fill even worse; I knew I had to deal with that as I went along. But first I began to ream the bowl while the stem soaked in an OxiClean bath. img_5027

The OxiClean bath and a scrubbing in clean, warm water with a green Scotch pad left the stem clean and free of oxidation. The amount of work the stem needed was even more apparent now; not only did the bit need a lot of work, there were some very large dents in the stem. I tried to raise the dents with heat but that really made no difference. So I decided to start the process of building the bit up (P-lip, a new for me repair) and filling in the dents with black CA glue and charcoal powder. This took many layers over many days (which turned into months); I had to raise, shape, repeat, over and over to get the P-lip back and to fill the extra hole in the bottom of the stem and the deep divots.

During the interim times I worked on the fill that was partly gone and one other dent that stream wouldn’t raise. I used coarse briar dust from filing not sanding (which I think takes dye better and is less apt to just be a black spot) and CA glue to fill the two spots (the worst one is visible in the very first photo in this post). I accidentally over did the fill, costing myself a lot of extra time. However the patch ended up blending in great in the end. After a lot of working the patch to blend I stained the pipe with a diluted Brown Fiebing’s leather dye, two coats, flamed on, if I remember right. After buffing with brown-Tripoli the stummel looked nice but too dark to see the really nice grain (birds eye and flame) so I wiped it down with alcohol on a cotton pad until it let the gain show through and re-buffed with brown-Tripoli. Now the stummel looked good to me. Back to the stem…

This P-lip drove me to the brink of insanity! Not having a P-lip on hand to compare it to made it more difficult. Filling the bottom hole (that wasn’t supposed to be there) was easy but shaping that top and bottom lip/ridge was a chore. The deep divot just did not want to be filled; the patch shrunk over and over. The huge, dented  draft hole on the top of the stem was a bother, too; I can’t tell you how many times I glued it shut trying to get that button rebuilt! In the end it came out pretty good; there are some tiny scratches visible if you look real close. But all things given, the owner was happy with that, especially since with the holidays and even more babysitting duties for me on the horizon, who knows when I would be able to finish it (again).

After finally getting the work done I finished the pipe off with a few coats of carnauba wax. I want to mention that I followed the instructions, more or less, for Dremel buffing for the stem and the waxing of the stummel. I currently can’t use my buffer so I wanted to give this option a try and am very pleased with the results. Mine is a variable speed Dremel and I used 5,000 RPM for the compounds and 10,000 RPM for the wax.

Hopefully with the new Dremel techniques I’ve learned (thanks again, Dal and Steve) and with some luck (and no small amount of “okay” from my wife) I will find a way to down size my work-needs to be able to work from my kitchen instead of my basement workshop, allowing me to work more when my mobility issues keep me from the stairs.

Day Trips and Memories


Family day trips were always popular in our family. Many is the time I remember going for day-long rides with my Papaw in his pick-up truck – Granny was usually at work since they worked opposite shifts – out country roads many of which don’t exist today. We would stop at mom & pop stores and get our lunch. Papaw would tell the old man behind the counter he wanted whatever lunch meat he was in the mood for that day, cut about half an inch thick, on bread (white bread was a given) with mayonnaise and then asked what I wanted; I always wanted the same thing he’d ordered – even when I had no idea what the lunch meant I was getting was. The old man would get the items from the deli case and start making our sandwiches while we picked out a pop, soda for you northerners, which was usually a Hire’s Rootbeer. Papaw would toss a bag of chips on the counter and we’d set our rootbeers up there, too. He’s then dig out his billfold, as he always called his wallet, and tell the man, “Put it all in a poke for us, please.” (That’s a paper bag, again for you younger and/or norther folks.)

We’d load into the truck, always a Chevy or GMC and usually orange or red in color, and drive down the road a few miles until we found just the right spot, where we’d pull off the side of the road in the shade and park. The tailgate served as both our picnic table and benches. Occasionally Papaw would light up his pipe; he only had one that I know of. More often he would get a jaw-full of Redman or Levi Garrett afree we ate and we would talk – for hours some days. I honestly can’t remember most of the conversations we had on those drives. But the memories I do have are vivid and very dear to me.

Now I am the “Papaw” and we still carry on this tradition, granted, in a slightly modified version; we usually pack a lunch (there aren’t many mom & pop shops that fix you a sandwich anymore) or hit a restaurant. And there’s always at least three of us: Papaw, Granny, and grandson. Occasionally our son goes along too, if he’s not working.

A week or so ago we had one of these all too rare times when the four of us took a spontaneous road trip to Carter Caves State Park in KY. The drive isn’t too far and, while not as popular a destination as it once was, it’s a beautiful place to visit with a lot of activities if you plan for them.

We arrived around 1:00 pm I think and drove a little loop through the main part of the park to 1) get the lay of the land and 2) give Granny and the grandson a bathroom break. Once the “necessaries” were out of the way, we drove back down to the entrance of the park no began our look for the spot. My son and wife both had input on where it should be; neither agreed, to no big surprise LOL. But none of them were right in my mind. I suddenly stopped the truck, scanned the area and decided this was it! To some protest, I pulled off the road onto a parking shoulder and parked my Silverado. While the other two questioned my judgement, I asked my grandson what he thought about the spot. “If you like it it’s perfect, Papaw.” Issue settled.

We unpacked what little we had taken and set up next to a real picnic table with real benches and the dispute quickly dissipated: it was shady, comfortable, had a great view and was close to but a safe distance from he creek, perfect to hear the water gently flowing by.

My son and grandson geared up for their hiking adventure, my wife settled into a comfortable spot at the picnic table, and I got set up in my bag chair. The young ‘uns headed off on their adventure and I broke out my pipe. I loaded it up with a favorite blend; it took fire nicely, enhancing my anticipation of a nice, relaxing afternoon. As I sat there, bluish smoke gently swirling around me, listening to the gentle babbling of the creek, I was transported back in time it seemed. My wife was walking along the creek’s edge picking up interesting rocks for my grandson and me (we have 3-5 stones from everyplace we visit, another hobby/collection we share) and she seemed 20 years younger – as did I! It was a most perfect, peaceful, and serene few of hours spent just enjoying each other’s company and God’s wondrous creation.image

All too soon the sun had moved as the hours ticked by and devoured our cool shade. It was well timed though as about the same time the boys were winding up – or winding down from – their adventure. My grandson had packed back 5 stones, the same number I had collected with my wife’s help. We settled on 6 or 7 to bring home and packed them and everything else up in the bed of the truck. It had been a splendid day indeed!

The drive home was a much quieter one than the trip there; everyone had worn themselves pretty much out. As I drove with the radio softy playing, I couldn’t help but reflect on those trips with my Papaw. And wonder how much he must have enjoyed them; I often wish he was still around to talk about those and many other things. But the main thought on my mind during that drive home and in the days since was quite simply this: it’s really good to be the Papaw.