Category Archives: Pipe Refurbishing Essays

Essays and pictorial essays on the art of refurbishing

A Great Find – Peterson’s Mark Twain Rustic XL Boxed pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

My brother Jeff found this Peterson on one of his trips. He showed me the box and then the end of the box first. The end of the box said it was a Peterson Mark Twain XL Rustic. I could not wait to see what was inside. I am slow to get my hopes up because often what the box says and what is inside are very different. He opened the box and inside was a Peterson black satin pipe sock and the factory brochure. This was definitely looking up. He took the pipe out and it was exactly what the box said it was – a Peterson’s Mark Twain Rustic XL. Jeff took pictures of the pipe to show the overall condition of the find before he started his cleanup work on it. The pipe was dirty with a lot of dust and debris in the crevices of the rustic finish and dull looking on the high spots. The bowl had a thick, hard cake and there was a heavy lava overflow on the rim top filling in the beveled area and the crevices in the finish. The inner and outer edges of the bowl looked to be in good condition.The underside of the bowl had a smooth spot that was stamped Peterson’s over Mark Twain. Next to that it was stamped Made in the Republic of Ireland.The pipe had a silver band/ferrule on the end of the shank that bore the typical Peterson’s of Dublin stamping and was stamped Sterling Silver. On the underside it had three hallmarks. The Irish sterling silver hallmarks are first a Hibernia mark (looks like a seated woman facing left) second a fineness mark (an Irish harp) finally the date code comes after those, in the form of a letter. In this case it is the upper case italic B.The hallmarks gave a good indication of the age of the pipe. I turned to Pipedia to have a look at the article by my old friend Mike Leverette to get a feel for the dating of the Mark Twain series. I knew there were several releases of the series but could not remember the dates. Here is the link to the article: (https://pipedia.org/wiki/A_Peterson_Dating_Guide;_A_Rule_of_Thumb). I have enclosed the section of the article pertaining in a red box in the pic below.I found a Peterson Sterling Hallmark chart on the web to help pin down the date associated with the Italic uppercase B. I have circled the letter on the chart to the left with a red circle. The pipe is clearly identified as a 1987 Mark Twain. That and the fact that it did not have any number on the shank puts it squarely in the Un-numbered Edition noted above from Mike’s article. That edition of the series was made between 1983 and 1989 so this one falls squarely in the middle of the series release.

The stem was lightly oxidized but the P stamp was very clear and deeply stamped in the vulcanite material. There were light tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem near the button and shelf.I could not wait to see the pipe after Jeff cleaned it up. He did his usual thorough clean up on the bowl and stem. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the last bit of cake with a Savinelli Fitsall reamer. He cleaned the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs – scrubbing out the sump area that is generally very dirty. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil soap and a tooth brush and was able to remove all of the dust and debris in the nooks and crannies of the rustication. He was able to remove all of the tars and lava on the rim top and leave it looking very clean. He soaked the stem in an Oxyclean bath to raise the oxidation to the surface of the vulcanite. I took photos of the pipe when it arrived. I opened the box that the pipe came in like a kid on Christmas morning. I wanted to see what he had been able to do with this pipe.I took the pipe out of the box and took photos of it before I did my part of the restoration work on the old Peterson. Other than the oxidized stem it looked pretty good.He did an amazing job on the rim top. It had come entirely clean under his workmanship on it. The inner bevel on the rim was flawless and the lava was gone leaving a clean bowl and rim. The underside of the bowl looked good and the stamping was very clear as I had surmised in the pre-cleaning photos.I took some photos of the stem to show the oxidation and the tooth chatter and marks.I put the stem to soak in the Before & After Stem Deoxidizer and left it overnight so that it could work its magic on the oxidation. I worked on the bowl while it soaked.I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to clean out the deep pits and crevices of the finish and enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers and used a shoe brush to get deep into the grooves. I rubbed it off with a soft cloth and buffed it with a microfiber cloth to give it a bit of a shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. In the morning I removed the stem from the deoxidizer and wiped off the excess deoxidizer from the surface of the stem with a paper towel. I cleaned out the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol to remove any remnants of the bath from that part of the stem. The photos below show the stem after the soak and rub down.I sanded out the tooth chatter and tooth marks on both sides of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and was able to remove all of the damaged areas.I polished out the sanding scratches and marks in the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I brought it back to the table and sanded it with the final three 6000-12000 grit pads. After the final pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I used some acrylic paint to touch up the stamping on the stem. I puddled the paint over the stamping with small paint brush. Once the paint dried I polished it off with a cotton pad and 6000-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads.  I polished the silver band with a jeweler’s cloth to remove any tarnish and polish the band to a rich shine. The stamping really stood out with the polishing. I put the stem back on the bowl and worked the pipe over on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond to polish the bowl and shank. I used a gentle touch on the rusticated briar when I was buffing it so that the nooks and crannies of the rustication would not be filled in and make more work for me. I buffed the stem with a harder touch to raise the gloss on the rubber. I gave the bowl multiple coats Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a shoe brush. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The combination of brown and red stain on the rustication and smooth rim and base of the pipe along with the rich black of the vulcanite stem make this an interesting and beautiful pipe. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 6 1/2 inches, Height: 2 inches, Diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Diameter of the chamber: 7/8 inches. I will be adding this one to the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. It will make a fine addition to the rack. If you are interested email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

 

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ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS: Aren’t all pipe reamers basically the same?


Blog by Steve Laug

This is another blog written in the Answers to Questions series. I have often been asked via email, messenger or phone call for a recommendation for a pipe reaming tool. I have answered that question so many times it is almost a script now. I basically use two different reamers on the pipes I work on. The first is a Kleen Reem Pipe Tool and the second is the PipNet Pipe Reaming set. I thought it was time to post this as a blog on rebornpipes and use it as a comparison between the original tools and others that I call “pretenders”.

Over the years of my refurbishing experience I have used and worn out many pipe reamers. I have tried older and newer pipe reamers that have all promised to be the best and last one that I will have to purchase. Needless to say, I have a collection of various reamers other than I like looking at the creativity that sent out such a variety into a limited world of pipe smokers who actually ream their pipes. I rarely use many of them but they are fun to look at. One thing I have learned that even with the reamers I use, that not all pipe reamers are the same even if they look the same. I want to take this opportunity to compare two different reamers – the Kleen Reem Pipe Tool and the PipNet Pipe Reamers what I call the originals with the ones I call lesser copies. I will also be looking at the PipNet pipe reaming set in the two iterations that I am familiar with – the clear amber version and the opaque tan version. Understand that I have used all of these reamers so I am not coming from a place of prejudice but rather from an assessment of durability and functionality.

1. Kleen Reem and Senior Pipe Reamers.

I remember that when I first saw these two reamers for sale on eBay I thought they were the same. I had never seen either of them up close so I had no way of truly knowing. Since then I have had both of them in my refurbishing arsenal. I have used them both and I have no problem saying that the Kleen Reem tool is by far a superior product. The first photo below shows the Kleen Reem Pipe Tool and the second photo shows the Senior Pipe Reamer. Looking at the two pictures above I want to do a bit of comparison. The adjustable cutting head on the Kleen Reem tool is made of thicker hardened steel and no matter how often I have pushed the blades against hardened carbon on the inside of a bowl they have not grown dull. The blades in the closed position are very close together allowing you to ream the bottom of a bowl. The profile of the blades is different – the senior reamers blades look more flat and angled, while the Kleen Reem blades have a flowing curved shape. The cylinder between the blades that expands and contracts them differs in shape. The Kleen Reem cylinder is more bullet shaped with a pointed end and the Senior is flatter and more cylindrical. I think this explains why the Senior reamer cannot be closed as tightly for use in a smaller bowl. The drill bit/ that is in the handle of the reamer looks the same but it is not. It is more substantial and solid in the Kleen Reem tool than the one in the Senior reamer. The drill bit has a hole in the end of it that you can wrap up the grooves of the bit, dip in Alcohol or liquor and scrub out the inside of the shank. Kleen Reem’s come with a bunch of the short pipe cleaners inside a little ring that holds them. The weight of the Kleen Reem tool is substantially heavier than the Senior reamer.

I have learned from using the tool that the Kleen Reem mechanics never seems to stick no matter how dirty the tool I have used. I have three or four of these in different cases and all of them seem impervious to dirt and carbon. I have bought all of them on eBay in a variety of conditions and with cleaning all work well. They keep on going no matter what they are put through. Their durability can also be seen in that they have lasted through the years and the originals are still sold on eBay.

You can see my preference in the above is for the Kleen Reem tool. It seems that they were first made by the B.A.C. Needham Company and later by the W.J. Young Co. in Peabody, Massachusetts. Each Kleen Reem pipe reamer came in a variety of packaging styles. The original BAC Needham’s came in a cardboard case (this is the first one that I purchased over 20 years ago). The earliest versions sat in a soft green bedding and still had “Pat. Pend.” stamped on the cap for the drill bit. I have other ones that have a red bedding.

2. Pipnet and Castleford Reamers.

Pat Russell did a great comparison review of these two reamers in an earlier blog on rebornpipes. I am including the link if you want to read it fully. https://rebornpipes.com/2014/07/20/castleford-pipnet-reamer-side-by-side-comparison-pat-russell/. I will summarize some of the major differences that I have found between two very similar looking reamers.I first bought a PipNet Pipe Reamer on eBay almost 20 years ago. It came in a plastic box imprinted with the PipNet stamp and information. It had an instruction sheet on the inside of the cover. It was made of an opaque tan coloured high density plastic that is very strong. I have used it heavily over the past years, reaming literally hundreds of pipes and it is still in great condition. The thick carbon steel blades have held their edge and work as well as they did when I received it. The hard plastic T-handle and four detachable cutting heads have not cracked or broken. The heads still fit well in the handle, snug and tight with no rattle or looseness.

Not long after that I was gifted a Castleford Reamer. It came in a cardboard box with a clear plastic insert in the lid. The T-handle and cutting heads were black plastic and on first glance, they appeared to be the same as the PipNet set. However, it did not take long to learn firsthand the difference in the two sets. I used the Castleford on a thickly caked bowl that the PipNet easily handled and the blades had a hard time cutting into the cake. The handle felt flimsy in comparison to the PipNet and as I turned it, using the smallest cutting head the square end of the cutting head snapped off. I figured it was a fluke. I put the next head in the handle and turned it. This time the T-handle itself snapped, rendering the set useless. To have both the handle and a cutting head snap was no accident. I compared the two T-handles and could see that the Castleford was significantly thinner than the PipNet handle. The square slot that held the heads had thin walls. The plastic itself seemed lighter weight and more brittle than the PipNet. Looking at the material it seemed be less dense on the Castleford.

I went on to compare the square end of the bits on both. The Castleford was cast different from the PipNet. It seemed to be thinner even at the joint of the square with the blades. I compared the cutting blades and found that the steel on the blades of the Castleford were not as thick, beveled or hard as the ones on the PipNet. I knew that the PipeNet blades were carbon steel but the blades on the Castleford did not seem to be made of the same steel.

3. Pipnet clear amber and PipNet opaque tan Reamers.

For comparison sake I thought I would end this blog on my favourite reamers with a comparison of the PipNet reamer that is opaque tan with the clear amber one made by the same company. This may seem unnecessary but I have found that even these two sets are different.

The carbon steel blades are the same and cut the carbon cake very well. They both hold the sharp edge very well and do not wear. The difference lies in the durability of the plastic T-handle and cutting head. The opaque plastic seems to be harder than the clear amber plastic. I used the amber plastic (which is a newer reamer) reamer for several weeks. I began to feel it flex as I turned it in the bowl. After a few uses it started to show cracks in the plastic T-handle around the connection with the cutting head. The heads began to fit more loosely in the handle than when I started. I continued to use it for the entire two weeks.

The last time I used it, the connector on the handle cracked and a chunk of the plastic fell off. I switched to the opaque T-handle and kept working and in short time the cutting head also broke off. It was very clear that it was not as durable even when using it in the same manner as the opaque one. The remaining cutting heads fit in the opaque T-handle so they remain usable but I am quite disappointed in the quality of the newer amber plastic version. I will always continue to hunt for and use the opaque (older reamer) one. I have bought several and given them away to others as gifts. I need to find a backup set for myself as well.With that, I conclude my answer to the question regarding the pipe reamers I use and the comparison of the real and the pretenders in my opinion. Over the years, I always reach for these two reamers without giving the choice much thought. I just unthinkingly choose these two. However, it seems that I reach for the PipNet reamer first. It is my go to reamer. I start with the smallest cutting head and work my way up to the largest one that will fit in the bowl. The Kleen Reem is always the second choice for most pipes. Sometimes for a deeper, tapered and narrow bowl, I will start with the Kleen Reem. Both occupy a drawer right next to my worktable.

With the last comparison, I end this Answers to Questions blog. I hope that it has given you some insight into why I chose the tools that I use. You should know, if you are a frequent reader of rebornpipes, that there is always a rationale to my choices. They generally come from much experimenting with a variety of reamers with many discards that go either into my collection of reamers or into the dustbin. I hope that it has been helpful for you in selecting the reamer that you will purchase. Thank you for taking time to read this blog. Cheers.

 

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS: Do junk pipes have any redeeming value?


Blog by Steve Laug

I don’t know how many time I have been asked about the value of junk/no name or worn out pipes for the refurbisher. The question has been posed in a variety of ways but the gist of it is always the same. I thought it would be good to take a bit of time to address that question and give my rationale for my answer. I will start with the rationale and then proceed to explain the value of each old pipe.For me every pipe has a purpose for my work. From the most expensive artisan or factory made pipe to the most lowly basket pipe all were made for the purpose of smoking – that part is obvious and needs no argument. But to me a not as obvious answer is that every pipe that comes across my worktable is part of my education as a repairer/refurbisher. Each one brings a different challenge to the table that needs to be thought out and addressed with care because it is or was someone’s cherished pipe. That is always the first thing in my mind and it is important to keep that in place when I address the hard chores that the pipes bring to me.

For example, I have a Big Ben that I am working on now. It is an absolute mess – the bowl is almost closed off with thick, stinky cake. The stem was made for a 9mm filter that never was used and is almost completely closed off with sticky, smelly tars and oils from the button to the airway in the bowl. The stem has been chewed and the button is missing on the top side. You might shake your head at what many call pipe abuse but that is not the whole story. When the pipesmoker dropped this pipe off at my house for work he said he only had two pipes. Both needed work but he could only part with one at a time. He talked about it not smoking as well as it used to and he was unclear why that was so. He looked sadly at it as I told him what I was going to do. He was a bit happier when I told him it would not take too long. You see, he cherished the pipe. He had no idea that he was abusing it and reducing its usefulness. He just smoked and enjoyed this pipe. It was by far the favoured pipe of his pair.

With that fresh in your mind always remember that what appears to be a worn out and tired looking pipe was or is someone’s favourite one. Treat it accordingly.

But apart from those opening comments what is the value of a worn out old pipe. I purposely used to buy as many old no name or drugstore brand pipes as I could from thrift shops, yard sales and online because I was going to learn from them what I needed to know to be a pipe refurbisher. Practicing on tired old low priced pipes would allow me to make mistakes that did not ruin someone’s beauty. All the mistakes could one day be repaired anyway so they were really an investment in my education in the hobby.

I bought and went through a lot of old beat up bowls that had been knocked about on walls, floors, car doors, ash trays and even a boot. From these I learned how to top a bowl to bring it back to flat. I learned how to round the outer and inner edges of the bowl. I learned how to pick out and replace or repair damaged putty fills. I learned how to strip off finishes that were hidden under a wide variety of top coats – varnish, lacquer, shellac and even plasticized finishes like urethane. I learned how to restain a bowl and blend stains for colours. Learned how to hide or mask fills in the bowl with contrast stains. I learned how to rusticate a bowl that had too many fills and too much damage. I created and designed various tools to help with the rustication. Each one provided opportunities to fine tune my rustication skills and create a variety of patterns. I learned to match sandblast finishes on rims using a series of bits on my Dremel tool. I learned how to drill out a burned out area and replace it with a fresh briar plug. I learned how to make bowl coatings and pipe mud to protect a newly reamed bowl. I learned what reamers I liked best and what to use in each type of bowl. I learned how to pressure fit bands and repair cracked shanks. I learned to open airways in shanks. There were probably many more lessons learned on these worn pipes but you get the idea. I could practice until I learned the skill then move on to make it my own.

I went through a lot chewed up and missing stems to learn how to do stem repairs and replacements. I fit tenons with files and a Dremel and sanding drum to get close to a fit and finished the fit with sandpaper. I graduated and bought a PIMO tenon turning tool and learned to use it on preformed stems or older stems that I could repurpose. I learned how to rework stems – first cutting them off and reshaping a button and slot and later learning to rebuild them with super glue and charcoal. I experimented a lot with needle files to learn to shape and cut button ends on these old stems. I learned to shape stems to fit the shank of the pipe and how to make round stems square! I learned to bend them with boiling water in the microwave, on a cookie sheet in the oven and later over a heat gun. Each step I learned was added to the refurbishing skill set for later applications.

I bought old cracked shank and broken shank pipes to learn how to repair them. I went through learning how to band a shank, make a stainless or Delrin insert in the cracked shank and even cutting the cracked part of and reshaping the shank. I learned how to rejoin broken shanks to the bowl with pins and then with a Delrin or stainless tube. I even learned how to cob together diverse parts to create a totally different pipe. I learned how to join shank extensions to the existing broken shank. Eventually I learned to use a microdrill bit to stop a crack in the shank or bowl from spreading.

I went through a period where I bought some cracked bowls to recreate or repair the pipe. I shortened billiards to make pots and cut off the broken parts and rejoined a different bowl part to the top of the cut of bowl. I used pins and pegs to bind the two parts together. I learned to drill and stitch cracks in the bowls along with Charles Lemon of Dadspipes. I learned to repair interior cracks in the bowl with a variety of methods.

You could say that every pipe I purchased is part of my education. I can also tell you that very few pipes are ever thrown away in my shop. Even the old cast offs provide briar for repairing burnouts or cracks. I currently have a box of parts that go for that. I have two large coffee cans of stems that one day need to be separated by size but  I purchase lots of stems on eBay or from flea markets or shops around town. I have scavenged bands from all kinds of broken pipes and will often buy a broken pipe just to keep the band or stem. I currently have a box of pipes to restem that I have picked up around the globe. One day I will get to them but as it is now I slowly chip away at them.

So the short answer to the question I began with is simply that every pipe, no matter how bad was once someone’s cherished possession and should be treated well. Second, each pipe is a contributor to your education and skill set as a refurbisher and repair person. Never pass up the opportunity to learn from these often despised pipes. They have much to teach if you are willing to listen to them.

 

 

Something about Karl Erik Freehands gets my attention


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table was a beautifully grained Freehand. It had a combination of a smooth and a rusticated patch made to look like plateau. The top of the bowl and the end of the shank was true plateau. The shape of the bowl top was almost rectangular. The walls of the bowl are scooped on the sides and front of the bowl. The bottom of the bowl is multi-sided. The shank is quite thick and the underside is stamped Karl Erik over Hand Made in Denmark over 6. The bowl had a dirty finish and there was some damage on the shank end plateau. There was a thick cake in the bowl and lava overflow and grime in the plateau on both the top and the end of the shank. There was some damage on the bottom right edge of the shank plateau. A piece of briar was missing from the shank edge but it was a clean break with no cracks. I have circled the chipped area in red on the second photo. The stem was oxidized and there was tooth chatter on both sides near the button. Jeff took quite a few photos of the pipe before he started his clean up. The next photo shows the rim top and the bowl. You can see the shadow of the cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava in the plateau of the rim top. The finish under the grime and lava looks like it is in pretty decent shape. The inner edge of the bowl looks smooth and damage free.Jeff took pictures of the bowl from various angles to show the condition and the overall look of the pipe. I was pretty hooked with what I saw. It was a beauty underneath the grim and the damage on the shank did not affect the overall condition of the pipe. The underside of the shank is stamped Karl Erik over Hand Made in Denmark. Underneath that is the number 6. There is also a picture of the stem in the shank. It shows the oxidation on the stem and the buildup of grime on the stem surface. The next two photos show the condition of the stem. It is pitted with oxidation and there are tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.Jeff worked his magic in cleaning up this pipe. He reamed it with a PipNet reamer and smoothed the walls of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim and shank with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to the oils and tars there and in the plateau finish on the rim and shank end. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. The cleaning of the stem raised more oxidation in the vulcanite. The tooth marks and chatter was clean but visible. I took the stem off and put it in a bath of Before & After Stem Deoxidizer along with a stem from a Peterson Mark Twain. Once again I totally forgot to take pictures of the pipe before I started.I did however; remember to take photos of the bowl to show its condition before I started my work on it. I really like the rustication work on the right side of the shank and the back of the bowl. Jeff did a great job removing the grime and lava from the plateau on the rim top. The inside of the bowl was incredibly cleaned and the finish on the plateau top looked good. The inner edge of the bowl looks good as well. The plateau on the shank end also looked really clean. The finish was dry but in good shape.The underside of the shank looks very good. The stamping on the shank looks really good. The damaged area on the edge of the shank end can be seen on the right side of the photo below. The grain on the shank looked really good. The contrast stain shines now that the finish has been cleaned.I scrubbed the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I rubbed it into the briar with my finger working it into the plateau on the rim top and shank end with a shoe brush. The product worked to lift the grime and debris out of the grooves of the briar. I rubbed it down and scrubbed it deeper into the plateau on the top of the rim and end of the shank. I polished the briar with a soft cloth to remove the balm from the briar. I reworked the chipped area and stained it with a dark brown stain pen. The photos below show the repaired and stained area. Interestingly the shape of it and the angle matches the smooth area on the left side of the shank end.I set the bowl aside and turned back to the stem. I removed it from the soak in the Before & After Deoxidizer and wiped it down. I cleaned out the inside of the airway with alcohol to remove the product from the stem. I polished the stem with a soft cloth to remove all of the deoxidizer and give it a bit of a shine. It had removed much of the light oxidation though there were remnants in the rings and grooves above the tenon. There were still some oxidation that needed to be addressed and the button needed to be reshaped on both sides to remove the tooth marks and chatter. The photos below show what it looked like at this point. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to work on the tooth marks, chatter and to reshape the edges and surface of the button.  I worked over the oxidation on the flat portions and on the rings and grooves in the turned stem with the sandpaper at the same time to remove it from the surface of the hard rubber stem.I polished out the sanding scratches and marks in the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I brought it back to the table and sanded it with the final three 6000-12000 grit pads. After the final pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and worked the pipe over on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond to polish the bowl and shank. I used a gentle touch on the briar when I was buffing it so that the grooves of the plateau and the rustication would not be filled in and make more work for me. I buffed the stem with a harder touch to raise the gloss on the rubber. I gave the pipe 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 finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The combination of rustication, plateau and smooth finishes make this an interesting and beautiful pipe. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 6 1/2 inches, Height: 2 3/4 inches, Diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Diameter of the chamber: 7/8 inches. I will be adding this one to the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. It will make a fine addition to the rack. If you are interested email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

Bringing a Drake Double Guard System Pipe Back to Life


Blog by Steve Laug

Knowing my predilection for strange and different pipes my brother keeps an eye open for that kind of thing in all of his meanderings about the Northwest and through the pages of eBay. One he came across really captured me. It was in a box that read Drake Double Guard Pipe on the lid. The box was in decent shape, dirty but unshaken. On the end of the box it read Drake Pipe Co. over Merchandise Mart over Chicago, Ill. It was a brand that I knew nothing about. I have never seen a pipe like this before or since he found this one. It has a Bakelite base and shank that has a threaded metal end cap. The cap was stuck in place. The pipe had a briar bowl with a drilled centre screw. The stem is amberlike Bakelite – harder than plastic and older. There were some tooth marks on both sides of the stem next to the button. There are some crazing marks around the sides of the stem. There is a polished silver ring on the end of the stem. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he did his initial clean up. The exterior of the pipe was very dirty. There was dirt and grime in all of the grooves in the Bakelite base. The stem was also very dirty and the inside of the airway was lined with tars and oils. The briar was very dirty and oily feeling. It was a tired old pipe.The grimy bowl can be seen in the photo below. There was a fairly thick cake in the bowl and the lava had overflowed onto the bowl top and over the sides. There were some nicks on the outer edge of the bowl while the inside edge was quite clean and undamaged.Jeff took the photo below to show the wear and tear on the pipe. It shows the end cap that is stuck in the end of the base. The bowl had a lot of junk filling in between the bowl and the base. There was a lot of stuff in the grooves of the Bakelite base.The next two photos show the stem condition. There was some crazing in the material of the stem. There were tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem surface.When Jeff removed the stem there was an interesting condenser that was an integral part of the Bakelite base. It was a metal cap and was connected to a centre post. It was thickly clogged with tars and oils and the cap was overflowing over the edges of the cap.Once Jeff sent me the pictures I was hooked. I was looking forward to getting it and working on it. While I waited I did a bit of research on the brand. The printing on the end of the box that read Drake Pipe Co. over Merchandise Mart over Chicago, Ill. may have held a clue for me. I looked on the smoking metal website which is my normal go to site for these pipes and was unable to find anything about the brand. I did a general Google search on the brand and found nothing. I then focused the search on Merchandise Mart, Chicago, Ill. and found a bit of information that gave me a little help in my quest. The first was a postcard for the Merchandise Mart, in Chicago, Ill. It was a huge building that housed many floors of merchandise. There were household products, clothing for men, women and children, restaurants and specialty shops. There was also a tobacco shop in the Mart called Bernard Tobacco Shop. I found a listing of tobacco shops in Chicago in 1959 and it included this shop. It is long gone today but at least in 1959 it was there. (https://books.google.ca/books?id=xR4EAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA42&lpg=PA42&dq=Bernard+Tobacco+Shop+Chicago&source=bl&ots=AddsXvGdl8&sig=YVdTT5dpfwtnIiene6nUXBBpgNs&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj2ua7p4v_XAhVJ52MKHSHQDDIQ6AEIkQEwCQ#v=onepage&q=Bernard%20Tobacco%20Shop%20Chicago&f=false). 

There were also photos of a metal token for the shop that was good for Trade. I have included these two photos below. On the one side it reads Bernard Tobacco Shop Merchandise Mart. On the other side it reads Good for 5₵ in trade.Jeff cleaned it up as best he could. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and took it back to bare briar. The screw in the bottom of the bowl was stripped and also stuck. He was able to clean off the rim removing all of the tars and lava. He was able to remove the stem but not the end cap from the Bakelite base. Thus the internals of the pipe base were very dirty. He cleaned out the stem internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs and was able to remove all of the grime there. When it arrived I opened the box and found clipped tobacco labels that the previous pipeman must have smoked in this pipe. There was Stratford Smoking Mixture, Mapleton Smoking Mixture, Shannon Irish Smoking Mixture and Blue Heaven Triple Bokay Smoking Mixture. The only blend I had heard of was the Mapleton, all the rest were new ones to me.I worked on the pipe for several months. I soaked the bowl and screw with alcohol and cleaned around the screw with cotton swabs and acetone trying to let it penetrate the threads. It did not work. I used penetrating oil to try to loosen the stem but again it did not work. The stripped slot in the screw made it impossible to simply unscrew the bowl. I finally used a bit on the drill that was for removing tripped screws and I was able to get the screw out of the bowl. It is badly damaged and will take work to make it reusable but it is free. I wrapped the jaws on a pair of pliers with tape and carefully removed the end cap from the end of the base. I took photos of the pipe after I had taken it apart. I cleaned out the threads in the end cap and the base where the bowl was held in place. I used alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners and worked on it until the interior was clean. I cleaned the condenser cap with pipe cleaners and alcohol until all of the grime was gone. I could blow air through the base with no interference. It took time to clean it all out but once it was clean it was fresh and it was ready to smoke again.I rubbed the threads on the end cap down with Vaseline and threaded it into the shank end. I polished the aluminum cap with micromesh sanding pads.I rubbed the Bakelite base down with Before & After Restoration Balm to give life back to the base. I scrubbed it down using cotton swabs and pads. I buffed it with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine. I cleaned out the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners and warm water. I sanded out the scratches and tooth marks with 220 grit sandpaper. I polished the stem material with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped down the stem with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I gave it a final coat of oil after the last pad. The stem material seemed to absorb the Obsidian Oil and it worked well. The polished stem looked really good. The tooth marks and chatter were gone and the amber look of the stem was really good. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to clean and enliven the briar. The product pulls grit and grime out of the briar and brought life back to the wood. I polished it with a soft cloth to clean off the grime that the balm brought up. I buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish out the scratches. I gave the bowl multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the bowl with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. I put the stem back on the base and gave it several coats of Conservator’s Wax to protect and give it a shine. I did not want to risk buffing the stem as the material appeared to be quite soft and would easily melt and damage with the heat of the buffing wheel. I hand buffed the base and stem with a shoe brush and a microfiber cloth. The finished base and stem look really good at this point in the process. It was time to put the bowl back in place on the base. I put the bowl on the base and turned the screw into it to hold it tightly in place. I gave the bowl and stem a final coat of Conservator’s Wax.  I hand buffed the entire pipe with a microfiber cloth to polish it and raise a shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It looks better than it did in the beginning. It is the first Drake Double Guard Pipe that I have ever seen and worked on. It is well made and combines a beautiful piece of briar with Bakelite and amber acrylic/Bakelite for the stem material. The finished pipe looks really good with all the parts in place and polished. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Diameter of the chamber: 3/4 inches. Do any of you have any more background information or history on the brand or on the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, Illinois? Send me a message, email or leave a response on the blog. Thanks for looking.

Repairing a Broken Tenon on a Birks Savinelli “Lollo”


Blog by Steve Laug

I received a call from a local pipeman who said he had broken the stem off of his favourite pocket pipe. He had been given my name by a local pipe shop. He stopped by and dropped off a small bag with the parts of his pipe in it. He had dropped the pipe down the stairs and it had bounced down to the bottom in two pieces. He was able to remove the broken tenon but the damage was done. The pipe was stamped Birks and next to that it was stamped “Lollo” over Savinelli over Italy. The pipe was actually in really good shape. The bowl was clean and the briar had some nice grain all around the sides, top and bottom. The rim was clean and there was a very light cake inside. The broken tenon had a stinger in the tenon that he wanted to preserve. The stem was oxidized and showed some tooth chatter on both sides near the button. I told him I would have a look at the pipe and decide whether to replace the tenon or the stem. He was fine either way as long as the pipe was the same when he picked it up. I put the parts of the pipe on my work table and took photos of the pipe before I started working on it. I went through my box of tenons and found one that was the proper size for the mortise. I use threaded replacement tenons on stems like this. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to smooth out the rough edges of the broken tenon left on the stem. I used a sharp knife to bevel the edge of the airway in the end of the stem. Beveling it keeps the drill bit centred when I drill out the airway for the threaded end of the tenon.I chucked a drill bit the same diameter as the threaded end of the replacement tenon.  The photo below shows the tenon on the end of the drill bit. I lined it up before drilling it so that the stem was straight and the airway would not be curved. I drilled the airway to the same depth as the threaded end of the tenon. Once the airway was straight I used tap to cut threads in the airway in the stem so that I could turn the new tenon in place. I put a drop of glue on the threads of the tenon and quickly turned it into the stem until it sat flush against the face of the stem. I pushed the stinger into the tenon end and aligned it so that the slot in it was facing the top of the stem. I checked the alignment on the new tenon and all was straight and ready.The oxidation on the stem really showed up under the bright light of the flash. I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I brought it back to the table and sanded it with the final three 6000-12000 grit pads. After the final pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and gently worked the pipe over on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond to polish the bowl and shank. I used a gentle touch on the pipe when I was buffing to polish the bowl. I buffed the stem with a harder touch to raise the gloss on the rubber. I gave the bowl and 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 finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It looks better than it did in the beginning. It is the first little Savinelli “Lollo” I have worked on. It is well made and a beautiful piece of briar. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 4 inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Diameter of the bowl: 3/4 inches. I will be calling the pipeman who dropped it off for repair. I think he will enjoy his pipe!

Wally Frank Pipe Pump Kit – Vintage Pipe Cleaning Kit, Wally Frank, NYC


Blog by Steve Laug

My brother Jeff is really good at finding tobacciana items that are intriguing and this is certainly one of them. He sent me a link to this item on eBay to see what I thought. Of course I was hooked and said let’s go for it. He contacted the seller and made an offer and today he informed me that we now own the item. The seller described the item and included the photos that follow in his ad. “Here we have a nice vintage Wally Frank pump pipe cleaner. Still in nice condition, though the box is in distressed condition.  Please check out the photos. The little cup that the dirty water goes into is missing but almost any kind of cup or the sink would work and there is no cleaner liquid in bottle. The empty bottle of pipe elixir and the cover of the box are cool in and of themselves.  Would be a nice one to add to your collection.  This kit was originally sold through Wally Frank Ltd’s mail order department or in either of its two New York City stores.”

The cover of the box shows an illustration of the pump with a pipe in place in the pump mechanism. It says that the pump kit cleans, sweetens and deodorizes the pipe. The box says Wally Frank Pipe Pump Kit is for real pipe hygiene. It puts the OK in Pipe SmOKing. Along with that description is the address for the Mail Order Department along with the stores in New York City. The box is a little frayed and worn around the edges and missing one end on the box top.The inside of the lid reads: DIRECTIONS For Real Pipe Hygiene. It gives the directions on how to use the Pipe Pump.

  1. Remove all tobacco from the bowl of the pipe.
  2. Place bowl of pipe directly over pump intake and using the thumb screw tighten down until bowl is firm and airtight.
  3. Pour enough cleaning fluid into glass container to cover the tip of the pipe stem.
  4. Placing stem of pipe in fluid, pump until you feel sure that the pipe is sufficiently cleansed. (If the fluid should become very dirty, repeat operations 3 and 4.)
  5. Then remove pipe from glass container and continue pumping air for a few second to dry out the bowl and stem of the pipe. THE PIPE NOW WILL BE SWEET AND ODORLESS ENABLING YOU TO ENJOY PIPE SMOKING AT ITS BEST.
  6. Pump can be adjusted by tightening or loosening the hexagon nut at the end of the plunger.

Reorder Wally Frank Pipe Elixir when present supply is exhausted from Wally Frank, Ltd., 150 Nassau St. New York 7, N.Y. 4oz. Bottle 49 cents Postpaid. Use only the Wally Frank Pipe Elixir for Best Results. Do Not Use Elixir on Meerschaum Pipes.The seller included pictures of the inside of the box. It included the pump unit and the Elixir bottle. It was missing the glass jar that the stem sat inHe also included pictures of the pump unit and also the empty bottle of pipe Elixir. The bottle reads: Wally Frank Pipe Elixir for cleaning and sweetening briar pipes. The only fluid that gives perfect results with the Wally Frank Pipe Pump. For use in briar pipes only. The address follows.I did a bit of hunting on Google and found pictures of another Pipe Pump Kit. It was complete so I had an idea of what the missing bottle looked like in my boxed set. I am looking forward to getting the Pipe Pump package from my brother so I can try it out. The concept looks like it would work. I am wondering if I could pump isopropyl alcohol through the stem, shank and bowl and clean it out. It almost seems like it could do a similar job to a retort. When I get it I will work over a few pipes with it and see what I can find out about it. Thanks for looking. When I find stuff like this I love sharing it with folks who might possibly be interested in it as well. Thanks for reading.