Tag Archives: Alcohol bath

Stem Button TIME SAVER on a 1940’s Dunhill LB


Blog by Henry Ramirez

I was ghosting through Ebay listings looking for a cracked shank to experiment with when this old classic appeared.  The auction was won for a song because in addition to a cracked shank, the year stamping had been buffed off the shank. The usual whole lotta cake and dented stem story.I started with the stem, which was really in great shape.  I have come to love the stumpy profile of the patent LB’s with their constricted contour button.  An Oxyclean bath was followed by an isopropyl alcohol scrubbing with a shank brush and pipe cleaners. I wanted to use heat to raise the bite marks as much as possible to not only decrease my work load but to minimize the inclusion of foreign filler. To this end I also wanted to learn the proper temperature needed to reproduce my results consistently.

Using a heat gun, I took my time and warmed up the vulcanite until my nose told me it was getting close to burning.  If that happens the surface becomes a porous charred stinky mess!  I quickly used a laser temperature gun to obtain a surface reading of 275 degrees F.  Amazing how quickly the surface cooled off once the heat was removed.I was not impressed by the amount of rebound and it looked like filling and filing was in my future.

Having nothing to lose, I pressed my wife’s oven into service, knowing that I could set the temperature substantially higher than previous attempts without fear of ruination. I set the oven temperature at 265 degrees F to have a 10 degree safety zone and watched as the whole stem “stretched out”.  This was more like it! The dents were now depressions that needed the light to shine just so to be seen.  Little CA and polishing was needed.

I should mention that these values are for older Dunhill vulcanite only.  The composition of vulcanite has changed over the years, according to some posts I’ve read, and I’ve noticed it in the depth of polish ability.Now it was the time to clean and evaluate the briar. While I ream the mortise and bowl I am wishing that I had Steve’s magical Savinelli Pipe knife. Boy, those things are rarer than hen’s teeth and this old cake is super hard. That is followed by total immersion in an isopropyl bath with various scrub brushes stripping the briar. I couldn’t save the original finish because the shank crack needed to be clean and open as much as possible for the bonding. One of the perks of the alcohol bath is that after the bowl dries out, if there is any residual cake stuck to the chamber walls, it shrivels up and is easily removed.The shank crack was now very evident but the year stamping was not.Getting back to the stem, I wanted to know if the alcohol retort was worth the hassle.  I had been as meticulous as possible with the pipe cleaners and cold alcohol.  The color of the used alcohol in the distillation flask tells the story, close but no banana! I could now address the cracked shank.  I had previously repaired such a problem using a micro-screw and bonded dental composite resin.  I was concerned that threading the screw into old dry briar could start micro-fractures and crazing.

This time I elected to drill a channel spanning the crack and passively bond a post fabricated from longitudinal glass fibers encompassed in a strong composite resin matrix.  This would also provide some flex in the repair to accommodate the dimensional changes that briar goes through because of temperature changes during smoking.

At this time I also drilled a post hole at the end of the crack to prevent further spidering.  Because the crack was significantly wide I made sure to introduce my resin with a size 06 endodontic file.  I had planned to use a C clamp to close the gap but I chickened out when finger pressure did nothing.  Not sure how to make briar temporarily more flexible….

After filling the post hole and cementing the fiber post with dual cure composite resin, I trimmed off the post and blacked out the white resin with black CA.

Before beginning to start the staining process I wanted to open the pores of the cellulose to not only gain greater absorption of the dye but also improve the briar’s capacity to absorb tars for a sweeter smoke.  I had noticed such a phenomenon with the Missouri Meerschaum corn cob pipes.

I found that this particular wheel had already been invented by the folks who refinish wooden decks.  I tracked down some relatively non-toxic materials which did the job and whose run off wouldn’t hurt plants.

Sodium percarbonate does the cleaning and oxalic acid removes the smear layer, thus opening up the wood’s pores.  Looking around online for a source I realized that I already had both chemicals in the laundry room!  Oxyclean is the percarbonate and states on the container that it’s great for wood decks, siding and lawn furniture.  Bar Keeper’s Friend has oxalic acid as its active ingredient and states on the container that it works on teak wood.Indeed after scrubbing with both and rinsing with water, I noticed that the chamber’s surface looked and felt less dense.Now it was time to stain the briar with Oxblood diluted 50% with isopropyl alcohol in two coats, both flamed with the micro-torch.I was lucky that the original black stain in the depths of the blast remained.An overlay stain of light brown was applied in 2 coats.After a rub down with an old t-shirt to remove any xs dye, I applied 2 coats of Halcyon wax.  A quick buff on the lathe and then a hand strapping with a shoe bristle brush brought the shine up.  I want to mention that my wife gifted me her silver brush which is narrow and has long soft bristles which easily accesses the crotch of the pipe without fear of collision. This has proved most useful on bent pipes.Another very helpful tip came from a pipe maker’s blog about dead-faced files to add crispness to the button area.  They are the dead faced nut seating file by Stewart MacDonald, a luthier’s supply house and the pillar files which have the dead side on the edge from OttoFrei, a clock makers source.Well I’m now satisfied with the pipe but not finished. They say we abandon these projects because we reach a point where better becomes an enemy of good. Boy that was fun and I hope to share more adventures with these fabulous old pipes!  Regards, Henry

 

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Cracked Shank Repair on a Dunhill CK12 Author


Blog by Henry Ramirez

Henry and I have been emailing back and forth on all things pipe repair and I have to say I enjoy each missive he sends me. He is a creative guy who is using his dentistry expertise to work on pipes. The kind of repairs he does and the equipment he has both built and gathered is unique and certainly adds some new ideas to the hopper for refurbishers like me. I don’t want to bore you with all kinds of introduction on Henry. I will let his restoration of this old Dunhill speak for itself. Welcome and thank you for your contribution Henry. – Steve Laug, rebornpipes

I’d seen this old pipe bought and sold several times on Ebay, each time gussied up a little more but still tap dancing around the issue of the split shank repair band. Being the sucker that I am for gnarly old patent Shell Dunhill’s, I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to see what was under the band and possibly date this old codger.

Using 10x’s loupes with a parallel headlight source, I sectioned the band to find, to my lucky surprise, NO CEMENT! Just popped off, pretty as you please with no clean-up necessary. I used a fine carborundum wheel to initially trough the metal and then finished with a sharp new #2 carbide round but in an electric lab hand piece by Kavo. The Kavo or less expensive Medidenta hand pieces are ergonomic and very smooth running when compared with dremels. I would not try such a procedure for fear of scaring the briar without a hand piece I fully trusted.The newly exposed underside of the shank was faintly stamped with an incomplete patent number starting with 116(989/17) which would place this pipe from 1925-1934. No closure here since the date stamp was completely sanded off when the band was fitted.I was also pleased with the stem’s sizing to the shank. Still there was enough of a suggestion of the shell finish to complement the rest of the pipe.The 8mm stem orifice leads me to think this was a filtered pipe.The usual chamber cake removal (different pipe). I also use drill bits by hand to router out the mortise to bowl.When I want to conserve the original briar’s finish, I plug the bowl with a cork after stretching a latex or nitrile glove over the rest of the pipe. I then snip the tip of one of the fingers and poke the shank through the finger and out the hole. I tie off the glove and scrub the mortise and shank submerged in a Tupperware container filled with 91% isopropyl alcohol or vodka. Black muck floats out with every agitation of the shank brush.Drilling the micro-pin channel across the fissure. Once threaded into place, the pin shears off and the driver/carrier is removed. Of course I want the pin in the center of the thickest part of the shank through which the crack runs.The X-ray below shows not only the pin but also some of the composite plug. The composite plug was done at the end of the crack to prevent propagation.Pin hole back filled with black CA. Also spread some for aesthetic purposes on the composite plug. The stem was then buffed with four of pumice, Tim West’s green & red abrasive bars, White Diamond, Bendix plastic polish, Paragon wax and then a clean wheel and micro fiber towel. The bowl rim was gently micro-etched (Danville sand blaster) and polished with a Robinson bristle wheel brush. Luckily, the pipe was dark in general and the wax darkened the rim so that it blended. I flamed the wax to melt it into the rustications and buffed using a shoe polish brush supported by the bench pin. I ozonated the pipe for a night to remove any ghosting.Hope I don’t bore you with my Magnificent Obsession of resurrecting old pipes with the tools at hand. BTW, the light spot on the shank is an artifact of my flash. I’m going to deep six my crummy point and shoot and use my iPhone camera now that my MacBook can again see it as a drive. If you’re having the same problem, download Sierra operating sys from Apple for free.

Yours faithfully, Henry.

‘Gramps’ – A Redonian Deluxe London Made 26 Rescued


Blog by Dal Stanton

I know exactly where I was when Charles Lemon, of Dad’s Pipes, posted his blog Family Heirloom Comes in from the Cold on December 22.  I was dutifully, pushing the shopping cart at the Target in Golden, Colorado, while my wife and I were engaged in last-minute Christmas shopping.  Well, my wife was shopping and I was catching up on pipe blog reading with my iPhone 6s.  The story Charles told was of a pipe (without a stem) discovered on a stroll in a pasture, how it arrived there was a mystery, which, after some research looking at old photos, was determined to belong to a great-great uncle.  The restoration was to be a Christmas gift for the great-great nephew, the pipe finder’s step-father….  It was an excellent restoration on Charles’ part, but the story itself, the condition of the pipe, the fact that it was found after how many years – contributed to one of the core reasons I love restoring pipes.  As I read Charles’ heart-warming story, I found myself rooting for the pipe to make it and to again be restored to the lineage of the steward.  While I continued faithfully to keep pace with the shopping cart, dodging frantic shoppers and kids on too much sugar and reading Charles’s post, ‘Gramps’ came to mind.  The first time I saw the pictures of ‘Gramps’ and read the eBay seller’s comments, I determined to place my bid to rescue the old, worn out, tossed aside, pipe.  Why did I immediately name him ‘Gramps’?  Here is what the eBay seller said:

Vary rare REDONIAN Pipe.  Found at the Estate Auction of a 98-year-old man.  (Who said smoking will kill ya?…no way). So the pipe has some ware marks up by the mouth piece, see pictures.  Pipe is marked bowl piece is marked 26 on one side and SARDINIAN de Luxe Made in London on the other.  It is a used pipe.  Ready to be Enjoyed, Gifted or Resold…ENJOY!  

With a smile on my face while looking at Gramps’ pictures, notwithstanding the ‘mild’ exaggeration of the seller’s sales bravado, “Ready to be Enjoyed, Gifted or Resold…ENJOY!”, this is what I saw:red1 red2 red3I have no idea if I can bring Gramps to drink of the Fountain of Youth or not, but I’m now looking at him on my worktable here in Sofia, Bulgaria.  The markings on the left shank are Redonian Deluxe over London Made.  The right side of the shank bears the mark, 26, which I assume is the shape number.  Surprisingly, the stem stamping is legible – a red ‘R’ ensconced in a circle.  A look at Pipedia and I discover that the Redonian was made by the John Redman Ltd./British Empire Pipe Co. in London, the same company that was a possible manufacturer of the L. J. Perretti I restored not long ago – the Perretti Co. is based in Boston and the second oldest Tobacconist in the United States.  According to the Pipedia article, John Redman Co. pipe lines, along with Redonian, include Aristocrat, Buckingham, Buckingham Palace, Canberra, Captain Fortune, Dr John, Golden Square, Richmond (not Sasieni),  and Twin Bore.   I take some additional pictures of ‘Gramps’ for a fresh look.red4 red5 red6 red7 red8 red9Like Charles’ patient, this pipe looks to have been left outside or exposed in a barn or something, as half of it seems to be colored differently – laying on its side for some time.  The stem has the heaviest oxidation I’ve seen to date – perhaps something else is going on – it appears to be leprous!  The surface is so soiled and the cake so thick – there appears to be a spider web in the fire chamber – I really can’t determine the condition of either the stummel or stem, so after taking some pictures from my work table, I plop the stem in Oxi-Clean to start dealing with the stem leprosy and I plop the stummel along with spider web, in an alcohol bath – isopropyl 95% to soften the ages of crud clinging to the stummel – inside and out.red10About 24 hours later, I retrieve the stem from the Oxi-Clean bath and the oxidation was raised to the vulcanite surface as hoped and expected.  I first attack the oxidation by wet standing the stem with 600 grit sanding paper.  I’m very careful to stay clear of the Redonian ‘R’ stamping and work around it.  I sand for quite some time.  After making some progress, I switch to using 0000 steel wool to take off more oxidation and smooth in the process.  Again, I’m steering clear of the ‘R’ stamping.  I wish I would have taken a picture at this point.  The stem is looking much improved except for the circle ‘R’ stamping – still encased in thick oxidation.  I know that taking anything abrasive to the stamping will erode it and for me, this is anathema.  I try another tack – I think I remember reading somewhere about using Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  I brought it to Bulgaria from the US and hadn’t used it yet.  The sponge that emerges from the box would not be abrasive – I hope.  So, I wet the sponge and start working on the area of the stamping. I start very cautiously and gingerly apply pressure with the sponge Magic Eraser.  When I discover that it is not eating away at the stamping I apply more pressure.  Before long I was working on the area aggressively.  Very gradually, and without perceptible damage to the ‘R’, the oxidation disappeared – or at least, in very large measure.  The last picture in the set below shows the magic brought by the Magic Eraser! I’m pleased with the progress cleaning up a once, leprous stem!red11 red12Satisfied with the progress on the stem, I fish the stummel out of the alcohol bath.  I use several pipe cleaners attempting to open the airway between the mortise and draft hole – unsuccessfully.  I then use about a 6-inch length of hanger wire as a probe and to ream the airway gently.  After a while, I finally push through the ancient muck and reconnect the mortise and bowl.  After this, I put the stummel back in the alcohol bath to soak further after stirring up and opening the internals.red13 red14 red15Out of the bath again, I take Q-tip cotton swabs and pipe cleaners and clean the gunk out of the mortise and draft airway while it is still loosened.  It’s cleaning up well, but I need to ream the bowl to remove the softened cake and the old residues.  I want Gramps to have a new start down to the fresh briar.  I use the Pipnet reaming kit using the two smaller blades of the four available.  The cake comes easily.  I fine tune the reaming more using the Savinelli pipe knife.  I then take 240 grit sanding paper, wrapped around a Sharpie Pen and sand the chamber walls to remove the remaining carbon.  I finish by cleaning the bowl using cotton pads wetted with isopropyl 95%.  The fire chamber looks good – no problems, no burn throughs detected visually. The pictures mark the progress.red16 red17 red18With the bowl reamed and cleaned, I now turn to the stummel externals.  I take another critical look at the stummel surface and lava flow on the rim and take a few pictures to show the condition of the briar before I use Murphy’s Oil Soap.  I want to mark the progress moving from the desperate condition in which the Redonian Deluxe started.  I use undiluted Murphy’s Soap and scrub the rim and stummel surface with cotton pads. I also use a bristled tooth brush to scrub the surface.  After cleaning, I rinse the stummel with warm tap water careful not to allow water into the stummel internals.  The rim cleans nicely and it looks good.  Looking at the briar surface, not surprising I detect several pits which need to be either sanded or filled.  What is emerging from underneath the gunk, grime and grunge is a piece of briar holding much potential to shine with the gradual appearance of some nice-looking grain.  With my work day ending, I decide to apply olive oil to the stummel to hydrate the very dry wood – letting it absorb the oil through the night. The pictures show the progress.red19 red20 red22 red23The next morning, I decide to further clean and purify the stummel using the salt/alcohol soak.  I fill the bowl with Kosher Salt and cover the opening with my palm and shake the stummel to distribute the salt.  I then place the stummel in an egg carton to give stability, and fill the stummel with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt.  I then cork the mortise and let it sit and do its thing – letting the salt absorb the crud.  I then turn to the stem.  I clean the stem internals using pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol.  Using a sharp dental probe, I dig gunk out of the slot to clean it.  It takes a while to work a pipe cleaner all the way through the stem.  Once I do accomplish this, I use a bristled pipe cleaner with alcohol to run it back and forth several times to clear and clean the airway – hopefully allowing a pipe cleaner easier passage.red24 red25After cleaning the internals of the stem, I now look at the condition of the button area.  The 98-year-old grandpa that owned the Redonian did not leave teeth marks (is that a clue to his dental condition??) but the upper and lower bits are almost flush with the stem surface. This is not good – the button edges are necessary to hang the pipe properly on the teeth so that one does not bite the stem leaving the teeth chatter and dents one must remove when restoring a pipe!  I will use charcoal/superglue putty to build up the button area.  I form a wedge made of index card and fit it into the slot of the stem to keep putty from covering the opening.  I open a capsule of activated charcoal and pour the powder on an index card.  I then put a small puddle of Hot Stuff Special ‘T’ CA glue (extra thick glue) next to the charcoal powder.  With a toothpick, I draw charcoal into the glue, mixing it as I go.  I continue to add charcoal powder until I reach a thickness like molasses.  When I reach this viscosity, I then dollop the putty around the button area – more than is needed to provide excess to sand down to the proper button proportions.  I use an accelerator to set the putty.  I then remove the wedge from the slot and put the stem aside to cure.  The pictures show the process.red26 red27 red28Several hours have passed since the stummel began its salt/alcohol soak.  The salt has darkened some, so I assume it’s done its work!  I dump the used salt from the stummel and thump it on my palm to remove lodged salt crystals.  I take a paper towel and wipe out the bowl.  Using a bristle brush, I clean the mortise to remove any salt lodged in the internals. I want to be sure all the salt is purged.  I then return to using Q-tip cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and isopropyl 95% to complete cleaning the internals.  With 2 Q-tips, the verdict is in – the Kosher Salt and alcohol soak did a great job drawing out the muck and freshening the mortise.  I complete the job by wiping the chamber with a cotton pad with isopropyl 95%.  Done.  The pictures show the result!red29With the stummel now clean, I take a close look at the stummel surface to be reminded of the question areas.  I take a few pictures to show these. The stummel is in surprisingly good condition for what it looked like when I started.  I find some pitting on the surface that I will fill with superglue.  I also detect a rim ‘skin’ on the front end of the stummel.  There are also other nicks around the rim from normal wear and tear. I start preparing the stummel surface by sanding with a medium grade sanding sponge to remove a layer off the finish – to determine where fills are needed.  After using the medium grade sanding sponge, I apply super glue to the 3 places on the stummel I detected earlier to fill the larger pits and a small crevasse and put the stummel aside for the superglue fills to cure.  The pictures show the progress.red30 red31 red32Now to return to the stem’s button rebuild.  The charcoal superglue putty has fully cured and ready for shaping.  I take pictures of the upper and lower bit to mark the progress.red33The technique I’ve developed for button shaping is to start at the end of the stem, using a flat needle file I file to establish the vertical – perpendicular slot area – that it’s flat.  This establishes a base-line for the end of the button and shaping the rest (I forgot to document this in a picture!).  I then start with the upper button area with the flat needle and begin filing from the stummel-side toward the end to establish the straight edge of the button’s ‘lip’.  I gradually file this toward the stem’s end until it appears a good depth for the upper button. I then file top of the bit’s lip to shape in further.  When I’m satisfied with the upper button shaping, I then flip the stem over doing the same with the lower button seeking to match the upper. When the basic filing is completed, I use a pointed needle file to enlarge the slot.  The pictures show the button rebuild process.red34 red35 red36To remove the roughness of the files, I then use 240 then 600 and finally 0000 steel wool to further perfect the shape and to cover the treads left by the files. Which often is the case, air pockets encased in the charcoal/superglue are exposed during the shaping and sanding process. I apply some CA glue to the button surface and paint it with a toothpick to cover the pin-sized air pocket holes and then spray an accelerator on the glue to cure it more rapidly.  After a while, I return with 240, 6000 paper and then 0000 steel wool to remove the excess CA glue on the button and complete the button rebuild.  The pictures show the completion of the button rebuild.red37 red38 red39With stem internals cleaned, and new button completed, I transition to the externals.  Using micromesh sanding pads 1500 to 2400, careful to guard the Redonian ‘R’ stamping, I wet sand the stem and follow the set by applying Obsidian Oil.  I then use micromesh pads 3200 to 4000 and after, pads 6000 to 12000 following each set with an application of Obsidian Oil.  I set Gramps aside to soak in the Obsidian Oil.   All I can do is to say, ‘Oh, my!’  Gramps is responding well to the TLC. The pictures tell the story – I can’t but help to throw in a reminder of how far we’ve come! red40 red41With a reborn stem waiting, I turn to the stummel.  The 3 pit-holes that were filled with superglue are cured.  Using 240 grit paper I sand the excess glue to the surface and blend the patches. red42 red43I take a close-up picture of the rim and inspect the rim more closely.  Along with nicks, I can see that rim lines are not sharp.  There is evidence of a bevel on the inside ring of the rim which is scorched.  I decide to mildly top the stummel and reestablish a crisp bevel. The bevel will also remove the scorching I see.  I use 240 grit paper on a chopping board and rotate the inverted stummel in an even, circular motion to remove old briar.  I stop and check things after every couple of revolutions to make sure I’m staying level.  I only take off enough to leave the former bevel more distinct.  To recut the inner bevel, I use 120 grit paper rolled very tightly to create a hard-sanding surface.  I want the bevel to be straight and uniform.  I follow the 120 using 240 grit also tightly rolled to remove the coarser lines.  The topping and bevel look good.  The bowl is in-round.red43 red44 red45After completing the rim and bevel, I take a medium grade sanding sponge and then a light grade sanding sponge and sand the stummel to blend the superglue fills – careful to work around the Redonian Deluxe London Made markings on the stummel.  Then, using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stummel, followed by dry sanding using micromesh pads 3200 to 4000 and then 6000 to 12000.  I never tire seeing the grain emerge during this process.  After I complete the micromesh cycles, I unite stummel and stem to get a look at where we are.  Gramps is looking good. The pictures show the progress – woops, I forgot to take a picture after the first micromesh cycle!red46 red47 red48I’m liking very much the progress of the Redonian Deluxe London Made – aka, Gramps.  I decide to use Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye with Gramps.  I think the rich depth of the leather dye will create the subtle expression of the straight grain hugging the bottom of the stummel as it expands into horizontal patterns and scattered bird’s eye on top.  I give the surface a quick wipe with a cotton pad to clean and remove any leftover briar dust.  I use my wife’s hair dryer to warm the stummel to expand the wood to help the grain to be more receptive to the dye.  I use a cork in the shank as a handle and I then take a folded over pipe cleaner and apply the dark brown dye over the entire surface.  After this, I fire the wet dye which immediately burns the alcohol and sets the dye in the grain.  In a few minutes, I repeat the process concluding with firing the wet dye.  I put the crusted stummel aside to rest.  I decide to do the same and call it a day.  The pictures show the progress.red49The next day, after a full day’s work, I’m anxious to look at Gramps, and with the Dremel I begin unwrapping the fired dye crust.  After mounting a dedicated felt wheel for applying Tripoli, I set the Dremel’s speed for 1, the slowest possible, and first purge the wheel with the sharp edge of the Dremel’s tightening wrench – to rid it of old compound and to soften the felt wheel.  I apply very little pressure on the briar surface, allowing the RPMs and compound to do the work for me.  To reach the inside of the bent shank elbow with the Tripoli compound, I switch to a smaller, pointed felt wheel to get in the tight angles.  With the Tripoli finished, I rejoin the stem to the stummel and I mount a Blue Diamond dedicated felt wheel and again buff stem and stummel.  When completed, I hand buff the pipe with a cotton cloth to remove the compound dust left over.  The pictures show the progress.red50 red52With the abrasive application of the compounds finished, before I apply carnauba wax to the stummel and stem, I want to dress up Gramps’ stem stamping.  The original appears to have been red so I take red acrylic paint and apply a dab over the Redonian ‘R’ and circle and let it dry thoroughly – overnight.  When dry, I gently rub/scrape off the excess with the flat side of a toothpick which protects the paint in the indentations.  After this, I rub it well with a cotton pad to clean the remainder of the excess – gently leaving a rebranded stem – very nice, a refreshed stem stamping.  The pictures show the results.red53 red54With the Redonian stem stamp completed, I reunite stem and stummel and mount the cotton cloth Dremel wheel and apply several coats of carnauba wax to the pipe. I increase the speed of the Dremel to 2.  I follow the carnauba wax with a vigorous hand-buff using a micromesh cloth to dissipate wax that was not spread evenly and to deepen the gloss of the shine.

When I think about the 98-year-old steward from whose estate this Redonian Deluxe London Made came, I cannot believe he would have dreamt his pipe would one day start a new lifetime serving another steward.  I gave this old, worn pipe the nickname, ‘Gramps.’  Bear with me one more time to put a picture of ‘Gramps’ in front of the younger man he has now become.  I’m amazed at the transformation and it is why I love this hobby – the pictures speak for themselves.  I sell my restorations with the profits helping the work we do with the Daughters of Bulgaria – those sexually exploited and trafficked.  This Redonian Deluxe London Made is ready to serve a new steward.  If you’re interested in adopting him and helping the Daughters, check out ‘Gramps’ at The Pipe Steward Store.  Thanks for joining me!red55 red56 red57 red58 red59 red60

The Last of 4 ‘Hole in the Wall’ finds – a Savinelli Capitol Prince with a secret


Blog by Dal Stanton

I purchased the Savinelli Capitol in June of this year, at the Hole in the Wall antique store near Zhenski Pazar (Women’s Market) located in downtown Sofia.  Steve was visiting Bulgaria from Vancouver in the context of our work and we went to the Hole in the Wall for a mini pipe hunting sortie.  I’d remembered on other occasions the vendor producing a 4-pipe pouch that he kept behind the counter and I asked about it and he still had it with pipes intact.  The leather bag itself was a find.  The 4 pipes revealed after unzipping the bag were a Savinelli Tortuga 628, Danske Club Vario 85 (both occupying a place in my rotation), a Butz-Choquin Rocamar (which became a wedding gift for my new son-in-law), and the Capitol (that I learned was a Savinelli second) now before me.  Above, I linked the restorations of the Tortuga and BC Rocamar to their respective postings.cap1Honestly, when I first acquired the Bag of Four, my sights were fixed on the 3 big brothers of the Capitol which I identified as a Prince shape from Pipedia’s shapes chart.  Per Bill Burney’s description,

The prince, named after the Prince of Wales (Prince Albert, later King Edward VII), has a squat, rounded bowl with a long, usually very slightly bent stem and a short shank.  Compared to other pipes, the shank and stem are thin and delicate, though not necessarily fragile.  This makes for a light and comfortable pipe (Link).

On the internet, I searched high and low through images of Prince Albert (1819-1861) and found no images among the 100s visually linking the prince with the shape now associated with him.  The photo below, one could imagine, has his pipe waiting for him just to his right, reluctantly removing it from the eventual public view of the old ‘sit-still’ camera recording the moments.  Yet, in my search on the internet, one can find 100s of pictures of happy, confident men smoking their pipes with adoring women looking on. How is this possible? – a man would be quick to ask.  Well of course, their pipes are packed with Prince Albert’s tobacco!  So, the secret is out – PA not only stands for Prince Albert but also, and more importantly, Pipe Appeal!  Good to know as Christmas gift lists are being created for this holiday season!cap2With Christmas music playing in the background the ambiance is perfect. The CAPITOL is stamped on the left side of the shank with no other markings.  When I search Pipedia, I discover that Capitol is listed among a robust inventory of other Savinelli made sub-brands, seconds and order productions. At Pipes Website store, I found several Savinelli Capitol shapes for sale.  At The Danish Pipe Shop I discovered several Savinelli Capitols listed and a bit pricy at that!  So, it would seem, the Capitol line of Savinelli has some depth and quality to it.  Unfortunately, I could find no Savinelli listing that brought the entire Capitol line inventory together.  This Capitol Prince has an elegant, slim appearance, boasting a length of 5½ inches, a petite bowl width of 1½ inches and a fire chamber diameter of ¾ of an inch.  The rim has some clunk dents along the edge and the backside shows darkening from oils and perhaps rear-end tobacco lighting over the edge.  The fire chamber has a light cake build up but I will bring it to the briar for a clean, fresh start.  I detect a larger fill on the heel of the bowl near the left junction of the shank. The stem is in great shape with minor teeth chatter on the bit.  I detect a dent in the vulcanite at the shank junction and note that there is day-light between the junction of shank and stem – the mating is not flush, but a good cleaning may take care of this.  Interestingly, I also notice that the stummel is encased in what I call a ‘Candy Apple wrapper’ which I also saw in the Savinelli Tortuga restoration acquired at the same time as the Savinelli Capitol.  I didn’t like the Candy Apple wrapper around the Tortuga then and this Capitol Prince’s natural briar will be liberated as was his big brother’s!  The following pictures on my work table here in Sofia, Bulgaria, show these areas of need and a very handsome pipe.cap3 cap4 cap5 cap6With the stem showing no oxidation, I skip the Oxiclean bath which may be a first for me!  The twisty stinger extending from the tenon is extracted unceremoniously and added to the Lonely Stingers Bottle and is officially retired from active service.  I give my initial focus to the stummel clean-up starting with reaming the bowl.  I use the Pipnet reaming kit camped over a paper towel which enables me to quickly catch and dispose of the powdered carbon – this makes my wife happier as my work table shares our bedroom space in our 10th floor flat!  Often, I go out onto the balcony to do this dirty work but winter has come in Bulgaria.  I use the two smallest reaming blades and I do not use them aggressively – I do not want to dig into the briar.  I follow the reaming blades with the Savinelli pipe knife to scrape and fine tune the cleaning of the cake residue.  I remove what appears as dried dottle at the floor of the bowl.  I finish by using 240 grit paper wrapped around a dowel rod and my index finger to clean and smooth the wall.  Finally, I take a cotton pad with alcohol and wipe the bowl removing the carbon dust.  The pictures show the progress.cap7 cap8 cap9With the isopropyl 95% on the work table, I clean the internals of the stummel.  Using pipe cleaners (bristled and smooth) and Q-tips I go to work.  Dental probes are also helpful to reach into the mortise and scrape the surface dislodging muck.  It was dirtier than I expected, but finally Q-tips start re-emerging ever whiter from the mortise plunges.  Done.  Now, I take the stem and go to work on its airway with pipe cleaners.  I discover very quickly that a reason for lack of cleaning on this stem is that I am not able to move a pipe cleaner through the airway.  The button airhole is too tight and needs to be enlarged to accommodate pipe cleaners.  No one likes fighting with pipe cleaners that refuse to pass through cramped quarters.  I take a round, pointed needle file and begin gradually to enlarge the button airhole.  My method is to insert the file point into the airhole but only as far as the expanding file diameter will allow to enable me to move the file back and forth easily, gradually removing the upper and lower button airhole surfaces.  If I jam the needle file down the airhole too aggressively, not only will it get jammed, it will also damage the vulcanite contours around the airhole.  After some time, the airhole gradually expands allowing the needle file to file more deeply opening the airway.  After some time and testing, pipe cleaners are able successfully to navigate the passage and the stem airway cleans up very quickly.  When I work on the teeth chatter later, I’ll smooth out this work with 240 grit paper.  The pictures show the cleaning and button airhole enlargement processes.cap10 cap11 cap12 cap13 cap14I love working on clean pipes!  With internals clean I know shift my attention to the stummel surface.  I first attack the Candy Apple varnish-like surface.  I start conservatively by first using cotton pads with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap to work on the rim and bowl surface.  With the aid of a brass brush, the Murphy’s Soap does a good job cleaning the rim, but it is probable that the surface is an acrylic finish which is difficult to remove.  Next, I use acetone with cotton pads to attack the Candy Apple surface.  As I scrub, and I scrub a good while, it gives me time to study the briar grain on this stummel and on the heel, I find what looks like a spider pattern – beautiful.  I’m ever amazed at God’s gift to us in the design and intricacy of this piece of briar – a ragged bush of a plant that would be called scrub if you saw it on the side of the road as you passed.  As the pictures below reveal, even after acetone scrubbing the shine of the acrylic is still very visible.  To see if I can soften it, I plop the stummel into an acetone bath.  The pictures show the progress.cap15 cap16With the stummel in the acetone bath, I return to the stem and take 240 grit sanding paper and work on the teeth chatter on the lower and upper bit. I also sand the button airhole to remove file markings and to smooth the surface.  Then I apply a dot of Hot Stuff “T” CA glue to the small dent on the shank-side edge of the stem.  I like to use the “T” for thicker, because it beads up on the divot and doesn’t run.  I wait for the superglue to cure before proceeding with more work on the stem.  The pictures show the progress. cap17 cap18 cap19Taking the stummel out of the acetone bath after about 6 hours, I place it on the desk and as the acetone evaporates I can see that the bath will need help.  With the surface softened by the acetone bath, I take 0000 steel wool and dip a small portion in the acetone and rub the steel wool over the shiny surfaces.  This finally does the job of bringing the natural briar to the surface.  Now I can see the true condition of the surface and where I may need to sand and repair.cap20I examine the stummel and invert it looking more closely at the large fill I identified earlier.  I picked at it with a sharp dental probe and dig out the loose fill.  I will need to mix a briar dust and superglue putty to refill this pitting as well as ‘top-off’ some smaller pits around the area.  The heel of the stummel is banged up good and I need to sand those out after applying the briar dust putty patches and after they cure.  I flip the stummel and study the rim.  The briar in this Capitol Prince will be beautiful at the end of the restoration because it already is!  I decide to first take a coarse 120 grit paper rolled up tightly to cut a bevel on the inner rim.  I do this to remove the damaged areas along the edge but also the Prince will look even classier with a gentle bevel enhancing an already handsome bowl.  I follow this initial cut of the bevel with 240 grit paper to smooth the surface further.  I want to apply a very gentle topping to the rim with 600 grit paper.  I take the chopping block out and place a sheet of 600 grit paper, with rim down, in a circular motion, gently I rotate the stummel over the surface.  I check the rim as I proceed to make sure I only take enough surface off to give a clean fresh look and remove minor nicks.  I follow the topping by using rolled up 600 grit paper to finish the bevel matching the smoothness of the rim.  The pictures show the progress.  I’m pleased with the look of the rim.cap21 cap22 cap23 cap24 cap25Time to mix briarwood dust and superglue to make a putty to apply patches to the hole and pits on heel of the stummel.  I take my briar dust can and with a pipe nail, scoop out some dust placing it in a little pile. Using regular clear super glue, I put a little puddle next to the briar dust.  Using a toothpick, I start adding some briar dust to the glue until it gradually reaches a putty/toothpaste-like consistency and then I apply a small dollop over the fill area.  I mash it down to make a tight patch and I leave some excess over the areas to sand down later. cap26With the stummel now out of action for the night, I turn to the stem again taking the flat needle file and freshen the button – upper and lower. I then flip the stem and again taking the flat needle file I remove the excess superglue from the patch I did on the edge of the stem – shank-side.  When the filing brings the excess superglue nearly to the surface level of the vulcanite, I use 240 grit sanding paper to blend the patch further with the vulcanite.  I follow the 240 with 600 grit paper doing the same.  I complete the patch repair by using 0000 steel wool to smooth the patch area as well as the entire stem in preparation of the micromesh polishing process.  The pictures show the progress. cap27 cap28Now for the micromesh phase, using pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stem and follow with an application of Obsidian Oil to rejuvenate the vulcanite.  Following this, I dry sand using pad 3200 to 4000, followed by pads 6000 to 12000.  After each set of 3, I apply an additional coat of Obsidian Oil.  The stem looks good.  I put it aside to dry and call it a day.  The pictures show the micromesh phase.cap29 cap30 cap31Early the next morning before heading to work, I want to work on the briar dust patch applied the night before.  The superglue dust putty has cured.  I take a flat needle file and start filing on the excess mound of cured putty.  I’m careful to file down on the patch footprint only and not wander.  I take a picture illustrating the idea (#2 below).  The idea is that I gradually file the putty excess and ‘sneak up’ on the briar below the patch.  I take the filing down to the briar surface, within the patch footprint.  At this stage, I apply much less pressure to the file, moving the flat file more in a circular motion lightly over the patch footprint.  I want to blend the patched area now with the uncovered briar surface.  The aim is to remove the putty excess not take away briar.  Picture #3 shows the completion of the flat needle file’s service.  I then continue the blending with 240 grit paper expanding the area a bit outside the footprint area (picture #4).  I’m not too concerned about this because I know I have sanding to do to eradicate the numerous dents next to the patch.cap32 cap33As my wife was admiring the stummel and the briar patterns over my shoulder as I worked, she exclaimed about the face of the kitty revealed in the briar!  Raising my eyebrows to refocus my attention to the area captivating her, I see the pattern which is recorded in the picture immediately below.  She describes the two eyes, the whiskers and the forehead, probably in need of a little scratch, I thought!  So, the Savinelli Capitol Prince has a kitty, too.  Then my wife said, with not as much excitement, isn’t that a crack in the middle of the kitty’s face?  I had seen it before but it was small and it followed the contours of the grain pattern.  Yet, her question raised questions in my mind.  I believe the crack is not growing but I elect to apply Hot Stuff CA Glue to the crack just to be on the safe side.  This CA glue’s viscosity is extremely thin and perfect for shoring up cracks as it seeps into to a crack’s crevice in a way that thicker glue is unable.  However, the problem with this thin glue is that it can absolutely take off like a rabbit scampering over the briar surface not in need of CA glue.  To minimize this, I only dabble a bit on a toothpick trying to hold only a small drop at the point of the toothpick.  Then, strategically apply it to the center of the crack which spokes outwardly in four separate veins.  I find that the glue is running off the end of the toothpick because of its liquidity.  I’m finally able to capture a droplet on the toothpick and apply it to the center.  The glue spreads a bit, but I change the pitch of the stummel and use gravity to my favor.  I also use the tip of the toothpick and paint the glue over the spoking cracks by drawing the glue from the center.   The pictures show the progress of shoring up kitty’s nose and whiskers.cap34 cap35 cap36 cap37After the CA Glue cures, I take a small piece of 240 grit paper rolled so that it presents a more solid surface.  I then take the 240 roll and strategically sand the crack fix.  I keep the roll within the shiny patch footprint with a view of removing glue off the surface and to avoid losing briar as collateral activity.  I then take a medium grade sanding sponge and work the patch areas (crack and fill) as well as the multitude of dents on the stummel, but especially on the heel of the stummel.  As I work on bringing out the imperfections set in the briar, the thought surfaces in my mind that I had adopted an approach to this pipe, it’s shape and demeanor, going for of a more pristine look – the look of a pipe that is the favorite of royals.  A pipe having a quietly, self-confident posture, but elegant and humble.  It has a kitty, too!  Some pipes seem more of a rugged disposition and seem to beg for some imperfections as badges of past challenges in life – this Savinelli Capitol Prince says, “Please, put a crease in my trousers” –  or, as it seems to me! The pictures show the progress.cap38 cap39 cap40With the primary patches completed and dents smoothed and blended, I take micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 and wet sand the stummel.  I wet sand with the first set of three because it seems the effect of the water on the briar would soften it a bit, and it seems to give the micromesh pads more bite.  This helps removing any imperfections/dents left over from all the previous sanding.  The latter pads serve to polish what is there more than address imperfections.  Well, I was just thinking about smartly pressed trousers when I finish sanding with the first set of micromesh pads, set to take a picture, when I see that the kitty’s eye had changed.  He appears to be winking at me!  I discover whatever was in the eye before (a small fill?) was no longer there and I am looking at a new royal pit. The latter micromesh cycles must wait as I apply a new ‘T’ Glue patch on the new pit and wait for it to cure and sand and blend it.  So, now the kitty has a black eye.  The pictures show the pause in progress.cap41 cap42When the CA Thick glue cured, I filed it down with a half-circle needle file to the surface and fine-tuned it with 240 grit paper.  I follow this by addressing the patch area with 600 grit paper then 0000 steel wool. cap43 cap44To catch up this patch area with the rest of the stummel, I use micromesh pads 1500-2400.  At this point I return to the micromesh process with pads 3200 to 4000.  I notice the initial fill patch on the heel of the stummel with the micromesh polishing had lightened a bit.  I take a dark walnut stain stick and dab it in the fill patches then I use a cotton pad with some alcohol and press it a few times to blend and lighten the stain stick application.  It looks better now.  I finish with micromesh pads 6000-12000 to further blend the stain stick patch as well as the micromesh phase.  The pictures show the progress.  The grain is looking very good.cap45 cap46 cap47Time to decide.  I have yet to decide upon the next steps – whether to move forward with the natural briar or to apply a stain.  This question I put off to the conclusion of the micromesh phase so I can evaluate the briar’s presentation and the pipe’s personality.  I rejoin the stummel and stem to get a look at the big picture.  Decision made.  Using Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye I mix 1 part dye to about 4 parts isopropyl 95% in a shot glass – aiming for a lighter cast.  I detach the stem and mount the stummel on a cork to handle the stummel.  After wiping the stummel with a cotton pad and alcohol, I heat the stummel with my wife’s hair dryer to expand and open the briar to the dye application.  Using a folded over soft pipe cleaner I coat the stummel with the 1 to 4 dye mixture liberally and immediately flame it with a lit candle waiting for that use.  The alcohol burns off very quickly setting the dye in the grain.  In about 4 or 5 minutes, I repeat the process and set the stummel aside for the night to rest – I as well as the newly stained stummel.  The pictures show the progress.cap48The next morning, anxious to see the results of the newly stained stummel.  Taking the Dremel with the attached hand-held extender, I mount a new felt wheel on the extender, set the Dremel on the lowest RPM setting, and apply Tripoli compound to remove the flamed dye crust to expose the surface.  I’m liking the color a lot and the grain has responded very well.  As I move through the Tripoli process I identify an eye-sore – at least to me.  Circling the outer rim edge is a black ring which the felt wheel charged with Tripoli is not removing.  The second picture I take after focusing the Tripoli wheel for some time on the ring itself, hoping to lighten and blend the black ring.  To me, the ring is unattractive and detracts from the overall appearance of the pipe.  The thoughts floating in my mind at this point are, that it is simply darkened stain at that point that a wipe of alcohol might lighten.  Another, less appealing thought is that this ring was produced by the flaming and perhaps scorched this most vulnerable part of the rim.  I’m thinking that it wasn’t the dye on the rim itself which burned off, but the overflow of dye on the cork that also had burned off did the deed.  I’ll need to check into this with Steve!  My methodology needs a revamp if this is the case.   The pictures show the issue.  The final picture shows the beginning of my corrective approach.  With an approach moving from conservative to less so, I spend more time focusing on the rim with the Tripoli felt wheel buff.  When this did not achieve the desired results, I take a cotton pad with some alcohol in it and wipe strategically around the outer edge of the rim, hanging over the outside slightly.  I do a few cycles around the circumference of the rim with the alcohol then follow again with the Tripoli buff to do a follow-up blending.  When this did not achieve the desired results, I tightly roll a piece of 240 grit paper and lightly make a quasi-bevel cut on the outer edge of the rim to remove the scorched briar.  The results of this are pictured below.  Not pictured is the rest of the process.  I followed the 240 grit with a rolled piece of 600 grit paper – as with 240 bevel, staying directly on the edge.  Then, I jump to mid-range micromesh pads 4000 to 12000, and smooth, polish and blend the outer rim area.  While the tendency for perfectionism would have me try something else, the rim looks much, much better and if I didn’t record this excursion here, 99% of onlookers would not see an issue!  cap49 cap50I move on to complete the polishing process by attaching the Blue Diamond felt wheel to the Dremel hand-extender and working this lesser abrasive compound over the briar surface.  Completing the compounds, I wipe/buff the stummel with a cotton cloth to remove left-over compound dust before moving to apply the wax.  I reunite the stem and stummel of the Savinelli Capitol Prince.  After mounting a cotton wheel to the Dremel, I increase the RPMs to the next number and apply several coats of carnauba wax to the stummel and stem.  After the carnauba wax application, I mount a clean cotton wheel with the same RPM setting on the Dremel as with the carnauba and provide a clean wheel buff to the entire pipe.  Finally, I give the pipe a rigorous hand-buffing with a micro-fiber cloth to deepen the 3-dimensional-appearing gloss already shining through this happy piece of briar.

The grain on this small Prince bowl is captivating with larger bird’s eye on the front, splaying fans on the heel, and of course, a kitty with whiskers fanning out as he gazes up the shank and stem at his steward – or should I add, stewardess!  The diminutive size of the bowl along with the longer-than-expected sleek shank and stem, would make this Savinelli Capitol Prince – a preferred shape to at least one royal, a wonderful addition to any pipeman’s or pipelady’s collection.  Thank you for joining me!cap51 cap52 cap53 cap54 cap55 cap56 cap57

Kaywoodie Connoisseur 49 Large Oom Paul


Blog by Andrew Selking

It is an honor to once again write an article for Steve’s blog.  For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Andrew and a bit obsessive about Kaywoodie pipes and the entire Kaufman Brothers and Bondy’s (KB&B) family.  Until recently my favorite pipe has been a four-digit Yello Bole 2062 small Oom Paul.  I’ve had this large Oom Paul in the drawer, waiting for restoration, for over a year.  (Sorry I forgot to take a before picture).oom1I start this pipe as always by soaking the bowl in the alcohol bath.  Here is the pipe right after it came out.oom2Next I reamed the bowl.  As you may have noticed this is a rather large bowl, my reamer barely reached the bottom.  This also accounts for the reaming damage done to the rim.oom3The pipe has a replacement push stem, which initially caused me to think it was an export model, but looking at the shank you can see the groves that the stinger originally screwed into.oom4I find that the alcohol bath does a nice job of softening any protective coating or wax.  In order to remove the rest, I used 0000 steel wool and acetone.oom5Here is what the pipe looked like after removing the finish.oom6My next step was to further clean the insides of the pipe and stem using a retort.oom7The average bowl takes two cotton balls to fill it, three if it’s kind of big.  This bowl swallowed four cotton balls.  Here is a picture of them after the retort (notice how the boiling alcohol pulled the tar out of the wood).oom8As you may have noticed in previous pictures, the rim on the bowl was in rough shape; scorching, reaming damage, and deep dents.  I planned to top the rim and the end of the shank to remove some of the worst damage, but I decided to leave the dimensions as close to original as possible; so I refrained from getting crazy with the sand paper.

I used 150 grit sand paper on a piece of glass to top the rim and shank, followed by some 400 grit.  A note of caution when topping an Oom Paul, the shank and the bowl are close to each other.  Be sure not to take off wood where you don’t intend to.oom9Once the rim was to my liking I started on the bowl with the 400 grit wet/dry.  I sanded around the marking on the shank and kept the stem inserted while working on the end of the shank to prevent rounding.oom10 oom11Here is the bowl after the 400 grit.oom12After the 400 grit I turned to a progression of micro-mesh pads (1500-12,000 grit) to polish the wood.oom13I used the same progression on the stem.  I polished the stem using a rotary tool set on the lowest speed with white rouge and carnauba wax.  I used my buffing wheel (aka heartbreaker) with white rouge and carnauba wax on the bowl.  I reassembled the pipe and wiped on a couple of light coats of Halcyon II wax.  Here is the finished result.oom14 oom15 oom16 oom17 oom18Just to give some perspective on the size of this pipe, here is my four-digit yellow bowl for comparison.oom19 oom20 oom21 oom22Normally I wait to smoke a restored pipe until after taking pictures, but we were without power this morning so I loaded the bowl with some Dunhill Early Morning Pipe and commenced to smoke.  The draw is fantastic!  After about an hour I thought I must be getting close to the bottom of the bowl so I got my pipe cleaning tool and started to clean the bowl.  I had only smoked half the bowl!  This the first pipe I’ve encountered that has a basement!

I now have two Oom Paul pipes in my collection.  I imagine they will vie for my attention for a very long time.

A Relatively Easy Refurbishment on a Peterson’s Kinsale


Blog by Steve Laug

In going through the last box of pipes that my brother sent me I came across this beautiful Kinsale by Peterson’s. It is stamped on the top of the shank Peterson’s over Kinsale. On the underside of the shank it is stamped Made in the Republic of Ireland. The shank end has a band that is integral to the shank two bars of brass around a thicker bar of silver. The band was lightly oxidized. The finish had a shiny coat of varnish. The rim was dirty and some of the coat had bubbled a bit. The rest of the finish was in excellent shape. There was some beautiful grain poking through the finish. The stem had a Peterson’s P in gold on the top of the saddle. There was some oxidation around the saddle portion of the stem and there were tooth marks on the top and the underside of the stem near the p-lip button. There was a small tooth mark on top of the p-lip. My brother took the next two photos of the pipe before he cleaned it up.pete1He scrubbed the externals with Murphy’s Oil Soap and reamed and cleaned the internals. The bowl and stem were quite nice when it arrived here. I took the next photos to show the condition of the pipe when I started the work on it.pete2 pete3I took some closeup photos of the stamping on the pipe. The stamping was sharp and clear. It is very readable. You can also see that the P is quite distinct on the stem. The gold is still in place. This would be a great experiment for the new deoxidizer and polishing mixture I purchased.pete4I took close up photos of the stem as well to show the tooth marks and scrapes on to two sides of the stem ahead of the p-lip and on the p-lip itself.pete5I sanded the stem dents and heated them with a lighter to try to lift them. I was able to lift all of them on the underside and topside of the stem except for two. There was a tooth mark on the both sides next to the button.pete6I sanded the glue when it dried with 220 grit super glue and with 1500-4000 grit micromesh sanding pads. Once it was smooth I scrubbed the stem with the Before & After Stem Deoxidizer on cotton pads and was able to remove all of the oxidation. It took some elbow grease but the Deoxidizer removed the oxidation but not the P stamp on the stem top.pete7I used the Fine Before & After Pipe Polish to work over the stem. I scrubbed the stem with my finger. Applying the paste to the stem and scrubbing it into the surface. I wiped it down with a cotton pad. I followed that by polishing it with the Extra Fine Polish and did the same procedure.pete8I worked on the rim with micromesh sanding pads. I did not want to break the finish but to remove the bubbling and the buildup. I sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads to polish it.pete9The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I buffed it lightly with Blue Diamond and then gave it a light coat of wax. I buffed that to raise a shine on the bowl and protect and shine the stem. I polished the metal band with 8000-12000 grit micromesh sanding disks. It is truly a beautiful pipe and the shape and the shine look great. This is available now and will soon be on the store. If you are interested in it email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message. Thanks for looking.pete10 pete11 pete12 pete13 pete14 pete15 pete16 pete17

Identifying, Categorizing and Refurbishing a Masta Diplomat


Blog by Robert M. Boughton

Member, International Society of Codgers
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors
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http://about.me/boughtonrobert
Photos © the Author except as noted

“Who are you?” [Inigo Montoya screamed to the man in black.]
“No one of import.  Another lover of the blade.”
“I must know!”
“Get used to disappointment.”

— William Goldman (b. 1931), U.S. novelist, playwright, screenwriter, in The Princess Bride, Ch. 5, 1973

INTRODUCTION
Having a firm belief that no one and nothing in this world exists without importance and consequence, although whether for good or bad is debatable, I have developed a certain passion for inquiring of those I think might have the answers I seek.  When on frequent occasions that approach fails, I research.  By no means do I always find conclusive documentation, but I’m with Inigo Montoya in the great story of the power of true love referenced above, rejecting the worldview of growing accustomed to disappointment.  When successful, I tend to be thorough; when I strike out, it’s more like crashing and burning.

By way of an example of a success story, I found myself unable to make out any nomenclature on the pipe this blog concerns other than Made in London above England, and below that what looked like 140.  I went on a hunch that it might be a Comoy’s and consulted a meticulous list of that maker’s shape numbers.  They skipped from 133 to 158.  At this early, eyes-on exam stage of the refurbish, I was not even convinced the first digit of the shape was a 1 – it might have been a mere scratch – and so I looked for just 40.  Both that and 41 were missing.  Thus, for the sake of pure curiosity, I made my way all the way up through the 800s and discovered that Comoy’s has a 340 and a 440, both straight and with an M denoting Medium (the former a billiard and the latter a Rhodesian, FYI).

Nowhere near the point of declaring defeat, I took what some Internet search engines refer to as the “I’m Feeling Lucky” approach and Googled “tobacco pipe 140 shape number.”  I should have been in Vegas with the hit I got that was luckier than my wildest dreams, for at the top of the list on the first page was “Images of tobacco pipe 140 shape number.”  The third of these in the preview window was the spitting image of my pipe, albeit a sandblasted version.masta1 Armed with a brand name, I looked first in Pipephil, where I read of Masta being a British pipe brand founded in about 1900 that was “integrated to Parker-Hardcast[le] Ltd in 1967.” Pipephil, as it turned out, had a shape chart that was not savable. That’s why I tracked down this copy elsewhere, showing shape 140, a Diplomat, relegated to the end under “Other Shapes.”masta2 Here is a 1938 bill of sale from the Masta Patent Pipe Co. Ltd. to Las Vieilles Bruyères de Corse. (Old Briars of Corsica).masta3 Once again I found discordant information on a brand, and this time differing views of its quality. Moving to Pipedia provided the fullest overall account of Masta’s lineage, with the same approximate information as Pipephil, but noted the complete full name as the Masta Patent Pipe Company Ltd. Pipedia goes still further in pointing out that the brand seems to be out of production, and since Dunhill owns Parker/Hardcastle, it is therefore a big part of the picture. Claiming, without source citation, that as part of Parker/Hardcastle, Masta was produced “primarily for the Scandinavian market,” the Pipedia entry concludes with an unfortunate appraisal that “Masta was at the end rarely the equal of a Parker.”

This last rather snarky comment, which paints Masta as inferior rather than superior to Parker (but leaves Hardcastle unmentioned), is also vague and raises several issues. One, when indeed did the manufacture of Masta pipes end? Two, in what way or ways was the brand somehow less than the implied superlative qualities of a Parker? Three, given Dunhill’s standards during the period of time in question, which I acknowledge is uncertain but clear enough, why would that great pipe maker assign an insignificant brand to Parker/Hardcastle, much less make such a careless purchase in the first place? Four, for argument’s sake (and I am not making this argument), let me throw in the key question: if Pipedia is right, could an antipathy of the two proud old British pipe houses toward the perceived interloper, Masta, have affected a decline in the quality of the new kid on the block? The last part is thrown in as something to chew on, that’s all.

I propose the following answers to these basic questions.
1. The end of the line for Masta remains undetermined, but the probable answer is sometime in the early to mid-1970s.
2. In no way whatsoever are Masta pipes either inferior or superior to Parker. Both brands are often sandblasted to hide blemishes or stained dark enough that any irregular grain is obscured. There are, of course, gorgeous exceptions in both brands.
3. Dunhill’s acquisition of Masta was anything but uncalculated. The reasons Dunhill purchased Masta were premeditated to cash in on the market for well-made pipes that could be offered at lower prices, and to eliminate one more of the many competitors of the day.
4. Addressing the possibility that an overblown and unwarranted competitive drive could have existed, with Parker and Hardcastle gunning to discredit and eliminate the hapless Masta, all I can do is resurrect the great line from “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in”: You bet your sweet bippy it could have. But to be fair, there is a lack of strong support for this theory.
masta4masta5 An account of the – ahem – sticky history between Dunhill and Hardcastle comes from the trustworthy source of Iwan Ries and Co. Ltd., tobacconists since 1857. Founded in 1908, Hardcastle made for itself a solid reputation “among the numerous British mid-graders.” [Emphasis added on the final word.] Then, in 1935, Dunhill made a somewhat bold challenge to Hardcastle, throwing down the glove as it were, by commencing construction of a new factory smack next-door. Within a year, the Hardcastle family had sold 49% of the interest in its business to Dunhill.

In 1946, Dunhill delivered the final blow to Hardcastle, buying its remaining shares and consuming it altogether into a mere Dunhill subsidiary. Members of the Hardcastle clan were allowed to continue serving on its board and retain a semblance of independence that came to an end in 1967 when – you guessed it – Hardcastle was put to the final indignity of being merged with the likes of Dunhill’s Parker Pipe Co. created in 1923. On top of everything else, being forced to tolerate close-quarters with a riff-raff commoner such as the Masta Patent Pipe Co. Ltd. must have been the harrowing final straw for both Parker and Hardcastle.

Now we come to another authority concerning Masta: a British seller of estate pipes called Reborn Briar (no relation to this forum). Call me biased if you like, but this site being situated in the same country of manufacture of all four of the related brands mentioned, I suspect it might have an upper hand as far as insights are concerned.

According to Reborn Briar, Dunhill acquired Masta in 1960 as one of its own seconds, seven years before the Parker/Hardcastle additions and reassignment of the Masta name. A splendid-looking Masta Patent Pipe Co. natural tall billiard sitter that was sold by Reborn Briar for GB£40 (a tad more than US$51 at today’s exchange rate) can be seen at the first source link below. An obvious smooth version of the sandblast pictured above, the pipe has beautiful birds-eye grain and a sleek but sturdy look to it, by every angle shown ready to provide a cool, pleasant tobacco enjoying experience. I would, in fact, be happy to add the pipe to my own collection at that price.

Last but not least is the telling information about Dunhill’s low view of Parker pipes that is related with chilling, blunt eloquence by Cup o‘ Joes. To begin, consider Dunhill’s word for the pre-worked stummels it passed on to Parker as “its failings,” rather than the standard term seconds, for stummels deemed less than ideal for use with its own name under the quintessential English pipe maker’s exacting standards of excellence. In fact, during the early relationship between Dunhill and Parker, many of the unfinished pipes it dumped on Parker bore a large X over the Dunhill stamp. Even “Damaged Price” with the actual revised amount was made a permanent imprint in the wood. What’s more, not just a minor flaw or two separated a pipe destined to be a Parker instead of a Dunhill. The crude shapes passed off to Parker would have been rejected altogether after the initial turning process because of significant flaws. Perhaps most telling of the Dunhill-Parker unhappy connection is a lack of any documentation that Dunhill ever marketed or advertised Parkers in its catalogs or stores. For more details on this no-doubt stressed liaison, see the last source link below.

Nuff said about that.

RESTORATION
masta6masta7masta8masta9 The first order of business was scooping out old tobacco that had the unusual appearance of being better suited for cigarettes.masta10 I ran a few Everclear-soaked cleaners through the shank and bit before giving most of the stummel a nice, long soak in alcohol, careful to an almost neurotic state not to leave the shank submerged. I will never forget the GBD Prestige debacle in which I obliterated the last remaining revenant-like nomenclature, and was determined to avoid the same mistake. I made periodic turns of the bowl in the Everclear to keep the stripping of old finish even. I have heard that using strong alcohol to clean Lucite air holes can lead to severe damage to the polymethyl methacrylate plastic (the same as Perspex). Perhaps that is so, but in my experience a quick job of it is safe and effective. No harm was done to this bit in its refurbish.masta11masta12 After about an hour and a half, I removed the stummel from the alcohol, worked one regular pipe cleaner (not bristled and not extra fluffy) through the shank and another through the bit, to dry the inside of the plastic and ensure no damage; stuffed a small soft cotton gun cleaner cloth into the chamber and scrubbed that area dryer while doing the same to the outer part of the wood. I took off the remaining stain with 320-grit paper.masta13masta14 The bit, while a good match for the easy bent Diplomat shape of the original Vulcanite one that came engraved with an M on the pipe, was not an even fit to the shank. Note the gap. Holding the bit and the opening of the shank side by side up to a light, I saw the problem was in the bit that was uneven on the right side of the second picture below (the left in the photo). I admit I still have trouble with the counter-intuitive nature of thinking my way through how to adjust this kind of misalignment, but I used 150-grit paper in slow, patient steps until it fit.masta15masta16masta17 Then I reamed the chamber and sanded it with 150-, 220- and 500-grit paper.masta18 Micro meshing the stummel all the way from 1500-12000, the briar took on a nice, darker shine.masta19masta20masta21 After applying Fiebing’s medium brown boot conditioner and flaming the alcohol out of it, I progressed from 3600-12000 micromesh before achieving the lightness I wanted with superfine “0000” steel wool.masta22masta23masta24masta25masta26 The tenon was undersized, making the bit spin, and so I added a small layer of Black Super Glue. After it dried, I retorted the pipe – again violating established practice by boiling the Everclear through the Lucite bit and into the chamber, but also again with complete success.masta27 Very gentle turning of the steel wool around the tenon took it from an over-tight fit to just right, twisting onto the bit with ease. When the retort was finished, I once more ran a cleaner through the bit’s air hole to assure it stayed in shape, and both ends of two more in the shank until they came out clean.

Thinking the bit was done, upon closer examination I noticed very fine scratches. I decided to see if an OxiClean soak would work those out, and indeed it did. I completed the project by running the bit on the clean electric buffer and the stummel using brown Tripoli and carnauba, alternated on the “clean” buffer, which, by the way, I do in fact clean on a regular basis.masta28masta29masta30masta31
CONCLUSION
Masta pipes, before and during their affiliation with Dunhill/Parker/Harcastle, were well-crafted instruments for enjoying tobacco and, in many cases, beautiful pieces of work. Whatever the reason for its eventual demise, the Masta Patent Pipe Co. Ltd. name should be remembered, and the examples of its creations available for purchase today are more than worthy of consideration by pipers in general and collectors in particular. Or maybe vice-versa.

SOURCES

http://estatepipes.co.uk/shop/Masta-Patent-Standard-Tall-Billiard-588
http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-m3.html
https://pipedia.org/wiki/Masta
http://www.iwanries.com/Hardcastle_C1516.cfm
https://www.delcampe.net/en_GB/collectables/invoices-commercial-documents/united-kingdom/facture-de-la-manufacture-de-pipes-the-masta-patent-pipe-coy-ltd-st-georges-works17-eden-grove-holloway-london-n-7-216950551.html
http://www.cupojoes.com/pipes/parker/