Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table was another mystery. It was in the bin with my friend’s estate pipes but it had not been cleaned or worked on by Jeff at all. Sorting through his pipes I came across this one. I had no idea where it had come from and where I had picked it up. It was just a present pipe to work on that is all. This one is a bent billiard with a fishtail stem. It had some interesting grain around the bowl but it also had a lot of damage on the rim top. The inner edge of the bowl was damaged and the bowl was completely out of round. Somewhere along the way it had been reamed back to bare briar. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads “K” Briar in script at a bit of a diagonal on the shank. On the right side it is stamped “A Peterson’s Product” [over] Made in the Rep. of Ireland (two lines) to the right of that near the bowl junction the shape number 338 is stamped. The stem was oxidized, calcified and had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the P-lip style button. There was no identifying stamp on the stem. The pipe showed promise but it was very dirty. I took these photos before I started my work on it. I took a photo of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the condition of bowl and the damage to the rim top and edges. I also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the oxidation, calcification and chatter and tooth marks. He took photos of the stamping on the shank and the nickel ferrule. It reads as noted above and is faint but readable. I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe as a whole. It showed a lot of promise. I am including the information from Pipedia’s article on Peterson pipes. It is a great read in terms of the history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Peterson). I have included a bit of the pertinent history here.
1950 – 1989 The Republic Era – From 1950 to the present time, the stamp for this era is “Made in the Republic of Ireland” in a block format generally in three lines but two lines have been used with or without Republic being abbreviated.
I knew that I was dealing with a Republic Era pipe made between 1950-1989. It was a smooth Peterson’s “K” Briar 338 Bent Billiard with nice grain. The finish was stained with a combination of brown stains.
I turned to “The Peterson Pipe” by Mark Irwin and Gary Malmberg to get some background on the “K” Briar. On page 305 it had the following information.
K Briar (1937-2005) The K Briar appeared as a “Product Line” or lowest quality prior to WWII but was not widely marketed until after 1940. Catalog illustrations show pipes stamped Peterson’s over Dublin over K but most document specimens read K over Briar over A “Peterson’s Product” of “K” Briar over A “Peterson’s Product” or simply “K” Briar in italics. The model appears in occasional catalogs until 2005. An early 1980’s catalog lists a K Etched line with small patches of the bowl rusticated.
Now it was time to work on the pipe. To start my work on the pipe I reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. I finished the bowl by sanding the walls with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. I scraped the rim top lava with the edge of the Fitsall knife. I was able to remove all of the lava buildup and leave a smooth rim top.I scraped out the buildup in the shank with a dental spatula to remove the thick coat of tars and oils. I cleaned out the shank and the mortise as well as the airway into the bowl and in the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. It came out quite clean and smelled significantly better. I scrubbed the pipe with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime on the bowl and shank. I rinsed it off with warm running water and dried it off with a soft towel. The pictures show the grain around the sides of the pipe. I put the stem in a bath of Briarvilles’ Dexodizer to soak while I addressed the damage on the rim top and edges. I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper and started reshaping the inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. I restained the rim top with a combination of Walnut and Cherry stain pens to blend in the colour of those areas to the rest of the bowl.I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. Earlier in the day I had dropped the stem in a Deoxidizer Bath from Briarville and let it sit most of the day. Once I removed it from the bath it had soaked for about 5-6 hours. I removed it and wiped it down with a paper towel. I worked it over pretty roughly to remove the calcification and oxidation that sat on top of the vulcanite. It came out looking very good. I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. This Peterson’s Product “K” Briar 338 Bent Billiard with a vulcanite stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The beautiful grain that shines through the polished finish is stunning. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The grain just popped with the wax and the buffing. It is a beauty! The finished Peterson’s “K” Briar Bent Billiard 338 fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 39gr/1.34oz. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!