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A Knute of Denmark Freehand – a Special Gift for My Son

Blog by Dal Stanton

This story begins in October of 2017 and concludes less than a week ago with the graduation of my son who received a master’s degree in counseling.  My wife and I have lived in Europe over 25 years and periodically we return to the US for several months from Bulgaria, to visit friends, family, and supporters of our work in Bulgaria.  It’s a great time renewing relationships and we travel a lot during these visits – often very tiring!  One of our favorite things to do as we travel (when we’re not flying over America from airport to airport) is to rent a car and drive off the interstates on the ‘Old Roads’ when we are visiting and speaking about Bulgaria.

On one such road trip, we were traveling from visiting our son (in St. Louis) and our daughter and her husband (in Nashville) and we were returning to home base near Atlanta, Georgia – to a little hamlet railroad stop called, Palmetto.  As often as possible when time allows, we break off from the interstates and cling to two lane highways that trace our path through small towns and villages.  Of course, I’m always looking for the antique and second-hand shops along the way to do pipe-picking!  We came across one such place in a small crossroads town of Alabama which was a great place to stop and rest and to search for pipe treasures!

I found 3 pipes that were candidates, but the one that received the lion’s share of my attention was the Knute of Denmark, a stout Freehand that had a beautiful balance of upper blasted briar and a large underside shank of smooth briar that encased the Danish nomenclature.   The bowl’s plateau was striking but the shank plateau facing sloping toward and tying in the fancy stem was frosting on an already nice-looking cake!  I was fully present in the moment of this exceptional find – a find that I would keep for myself and add the first freehand to my collection of vintage pipes.

I left the 3 at the front of the shop while I did a walk about through the shop.  While doing this, I was also researching the ‘Knute of Denmark’, the sole marks on the pipe.  I discovered that ‘Knute’ was a second of well-known Danish Freehand pipe maker and manufacturer, Karl Erik Ottendahl – this sweetened the pot considerably!

Dave’s Antiques was primarily a consignment shop and the desk person, perhaps it was Dave, had the number of the owner of the Knute and called him with my counter offer.  To my surprise and gratification, the owner accepted my offer.  The Knute Freehand joined me when my wife and I returned to Bulgaria and has waited patiently in my own personal “Help Me!” basket for his turn on the work table.  Here are some pictures of the Knute of Denmark I took while still in the US on that trip. Pipedia’s listing for Knute provided helpful information to appreciate more my newest acquisition and the Karl Erik name behind it:

Karl Erik Ottendahl

Knute of Denmark pipes are said to be made by Karl Erik, see his listing herein. Karl Erik Ottendahl was born in Aalborg in 1942, just a few miles from the very northernmost tip of Denmark. He began his career as a Lithographer as an apprentice in the craft at the age of 16. While working as an apprentice he began hand carving pipes as a hobby and to give as gifts to his more senior colleagues. He began his career making pipes for various labels in Denmark and the United States. Often, he would make the higher-grade pipes for a well-known brand that was known for their midrange or low-end pieces such as Wally Frank. While doing this he administered a factory of fifteen craftsmen. During this period, he did make some of his own handmade pipes, but he felt that the responsibility of managing the factory did not give him the freedom he wished he had.

Other brands confirmed to be from Karl Erik are: Champ of Denmark, HTL, Jobey Dansk, Knute, Golden Danish, Lars of Denmark, Larsen & Stigart (Copenhagen pipe shop), Shelburne, Sven Eghold and Wenhall (for Wenhall Pipes, New York), some Ben Wade and pipes marked IS and IIS.

One other paragraph from the Karl Erik article in Pipedia referenced above is noteworthy in understanding this pipe man who died in 2004:

As one of the few notable Danes Karl Erik Ottendahl dedicated himself to the needs of the normal pipe smoker with a normal income. In the end he was one of the last of this tier. He never made any pretense of the fact that his “hand mades” were prefabricated to a large extent on automated machines and only the last steps of fine-shaping and finishing were carefully made by hand. But he never employed a copy milling, so many KE pipes may look very similar but no two are identical. As well the bulk of the stems was supplied by Stanwell in a close-to-finished state. Stanwell also did the sand blasting for KE to a large extent.

I’m thankful for my family.  We’ve been spread out all over the world for many years, but we stay close.  My son, Josiah, is number 4 of our 5 children.  He’s pictured to the right of his baby sister and my wife, when we were in Nashville during our Christmas visit to the States last year.  Soon, we’ll be heading to the US again in May to join Josiah with other gathered family members as he graduates with a master’s degree in counseling from Covenant Seminary in St. Louis.  During his years in college and seminary, as a younger pipe man, he has enjoyed a bowl now and again.  He has gifted me with pipes that are special to me because they came from him AND they are very nice pipes as well after restoring them!  My first Peretti came from Josiah.  I have gifted all my kids, sons and daughters, with pipes that I’ve restored.  It gives me joy to pass pipes on which then become family heirlooms because ‘the ole man’ restored them.

I had been thinking for some time which pipe I could give to Josiah commemorating this great milestone accomplishment in his life.  The Knute of Denmark waiting for restoration came to mind.  Several weeks ago, when Josiah and I were Face Timing, he in St. Louis and I in Sofia, I asked him if he would like this Freehand as a graduation present?  His response did not take long!  I have viewed that Knute somewhat as a ‘Pearl of Great Price’ – looking forward to restoring it and recommissioning it into my collection and service.  Yet, for Josiah to have it to commemorate his graduation is something that will always be important.  When he goes through the ritual of taking the pipe from the rack, methodically packing the bowl with his favorite blend, lighting and reflecting upon life and faith – he will remember his accomplishment as well as how proud his family is of him.

With Josiah’s master’s graduation present now on my worktable, I look more closely at the pipe itself to assess its needs and issues.  The narrowing chamber has thick cake.  The attractive squared plateau is covered with lava flow and there is much dirt and grime lodged in the valleys between the ridges.  The sandblasted stummel is beautiful, but is also covered with grime, but I see no problems with the briar.  The same observation of much needed cleaning is also true for the shank facing plateau. The lower side with the smooth briar is blotched because the finish seems thin and uneven.  I also detect a few nicks where it looks like it was knocked on the edge of something – just to the lower right of the Knute of Denmark stamping.  The fancy stem has some oxidation and tooth chatter and compressions show on the stem bit.  I take a few fresh pictures to look more closely at the plateau and the smooth briar underside.  I begin the restoration of the Knute of Denmark by using a pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95% and cleaning the fancy stem’s airway.  I then add the stem to a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer along with other pipes in the queue. After several hours soaking, I fish out the fancy stem and run another pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95% and clear the airway of the Deoxidizer.  I also use cotton pads wetted with alcohol and wipe off the raised oxidation.  The Deoxidizer does a great job.  The fancy stem looks good.To start the process of rejuvenating the vulcanite stem, I wipe it down with paraffin oil, a mineral oil, and set is aside to absorb and dry.Looking now at the Freehand stummel, I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit and start removing the thick cake in the chamber.  I put down paper towel to catch the excavated carbon. Starting with the smallest blade head I begin reaming the chamber. Wow, the carbon cake is as hard as a brick!  I’m careful not to force the blade head too much but allow the metal blades to crush the carbon cake gradually as I rotate the handle.  I take a picture at the starting point and then about half way down the chamber that shows how the chamber has narrowed over time. I finally break through to the floor of the chamber and I’m careful not to over ream – to continue forcing the blade downwardly which would begin to damage the briar.  I continue with the next two blade heads, using 3 of the four available in the kit.I then switch to the Savinelli Fitsall Tool – the name of this tool is apropos, as it not only scrapes the chamber walls further but also reaches down and works around the draft hole – removing cake that is hard to reach.To clean further I also sand the chamber using 240 grade paper which I wrap around a Sharpie Pen using it as a dowel rod.  With this configuration I’m able to reach down into the huge chamber cavity and sand with some leverage.  This does a great job cleaning the chamber and removing the last vestiges of cake.Finally, I wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to remove the carbon dust left behind.  I take a picture of the pile of carbon cake removed from the chamber and the full arsenal used.After the reaming, I inspect the chamber and it shows no problems with heating cracks or fissures.  I move on!I’m anxious to see how the external blasted surface cleans up as well as the smooth briar – will the cleaning remove the thin finish?  The plateaus are full of grime as well.  I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap on a cotton pad to begin the scrubbing.  I use a bristled tooth brush as well on the blasted surface and the plateaus.  To help clean the lava on the rim plateau I also employ a brass wire brush that will not damage the briar.  The cleaning did well. The rim plateau cleaned up but also lightened in the process – not unexpected.  The rest of the blasted stummel looks good. The picture below shows the blotch of old, thin finish.  The cleaning with Murphy’s did not remove it.  To clean it off and give the smooth briar under-panel a cleaned surface, I use a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to do the job.  I wipe it and it comes off.  The surface looks good now. With the external briar surface cleaned, I now start working on the internals.  Using pipe cleaners and cotton buds I go to work…, and I work!  The internals are very dirty and there seems to be no end to the cotton buds coming out looking like nothing was happening.  I also use a smaller, dental spoon to reach into the mortise to scrape the tars and oils which have accumulated on the internal briar surface.  I continue until the hour of the night is too late and I decide to change gears.Before going to bed I continue the cleaning effort on the internals by using a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  To do this I first create a cotton mortise wick by pulling and twisting a cotton ball and then stuffing it down the airway with the help of a stiff hanger wire.  I then fill the ample bowl with kosher salt and place it securely in an egg crate.  Then, using a large eye dropper, I fill the internal chamber with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt in the chamber.  After waiting a few more minutes, I top off the alcohol once more and turn out the lights!  Hopefully, through the night progress will be made as the cotton wick and salt draw the tars and oils from the internal briar. The next morning, the cotton wick was very soiled showing that progress was made through the night.  I remove the soiled and expended salt from the chamber to the waste and clean the remaining salt crystals using paper towels and blowing though the mortise. I follow with more pipe cleaners and cotton buds wetted with isopropyl 95% and at first, I was worried that I still had a ways to go!  But after a few times through, the cotton buds removed the remaining tars and oils drawn from the briar and started to emerge much lighter!  Success in hand, I move on.Looking at the external stummel, I have essentially 2 projects to consider, the sanding of smooth briar and color repair to both rim and shank plateaus.  After the cleaning process to the plateaus, the wood has lightened and there are bald spots that need to be colored to blend.  I decide to do this after sanding.  The large underside of the Freehand is beautiful and has a few very minor nicks. The other sanding needed is to clean up the internal chamber wall that rises to form the forward crest of the rim plateau.  This will clean up very nicely and should provide a striking contrast to the rough, rusticated plateau.  This ridge rise continues around the circumference of the upper chamber. I start by using a coarse 120 grade paper to work on mainly the gouges and scratches to the upper chamber wall where it appears that cleaning tools were a little too anxious!  This injury is primarily on the shorter rise on the back of the chamber (picture immediately above, to the left a bit).  After I work out these larger gouges, I switch to 240 grade paper and work it around the entire upper chamber area.  Then, I finalize the inner upper chamber with 470 then 600 grade papers.  I like it! Switching to the underside, but also including the upper chamber, I go directly to using micromesh pads by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400 followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000.  I’m careful to keep my thumb over the nomenclature stamping, Knute of Denmark on the underside.  Wow!  The smooth briar contrasts are taking shape and I like what I’m seeing. Now, the second project – repairing the briar coloration on the plateaus.  I take a few close ups of both the rim and shank facing plateaus.  I have been thinking a lot about my approach to this.  I’m satisfied with the condition of the color of the blasted surface – it has a classy looking weathered and rustic appearance with the dark stain that appears to have an oxblood or mahogany lean and is flecked with reds. I also take a closeup of the stummel surface to show what I’m seeing. I begin by cleaning each plateau with alcohol using a cotton bud – careful not to spread alcohol on the stummel surface.  Color matching is more of a dance or an artform rather than a science.  I use a cotton pad as a canvas and use different dye sticks to identify the best match for the darker overcoat color.  I have two brands of mahogany that are the two marks – the upper one is darker, and I like it better.  The cotton bud on the top is Fiebing’s Oxblood Leather Dye.  I like this for the undercoat.With a cotton bud I apply Fiebing’s Oxblood to both plateaus which serve as the undercoat. After waiting about 15 minutes to make sure that Oxblood was dry, I then use the Mahogany Dye Stick and go over the Oxblood application.  I do this for both plateaus. In the next picture it shows the Oxblood colored edge which is not the finished product!  I will address this.To help erase this edge line, as well as to lightly sand the plateaus to bring out the oxblood flecks, I use a 3200 grade micromesh pad and sand over the tops of the ridges of the rusticated plateaus.  This removes a bit of the darker overcoat and exposes the oxblood undercoat.  I also use the micromesh pad to reestablish the line of the smooth upper chamber briar helping to remove the line of oxblood.  I follow the 3200 grade pad and go through the remaining 5 pads to sand and polish the smooth upper chamber briar.  Lastly, I do a light wipe with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to remove excess and blend the dyes on the plateaus.I like the results!  Both rim plateau and shank facing plateau look refreshed and emulate the flecking that is evident on the Knute stummel. With the plateaus completed, I condition the rest of the stummel using Before & After Restoration Balm aiming to bring the rest of the stummel into a harmonious alignment with the refreshed plateaus.  My hope and expectation are that it will deepen and darken the beautiful blasted surface.  It will be equally enriching to the smooth briar patches.  I take ‘before’ pictures to compare, but I doubt whether the pictures will detect the darkened tones.  We’ll see. I put a generous amount of the Balm on my fingers and work it into the blasted stummel surface, the rusticated plateaus and on the smooth briar patches.  I can immediately see the briar responding to the Balm.  Josiah is going to love this beautiful Karl Erik Knute Freehand!  After saturating the surface with the Balm, it gradually thickens to a wax-like viscosity as I work it in.  Finally, I place it on the pedestal to allow the Balm to do its thing as the briar absorbs it.  I take this picture during this period.  After about 15 or 20 minutes, I use a microfiber cloth to wipe off the excess Balm and buff the stummel rigorously making sure the excess balm has been removed from the nooks and crannies of the rustication and blasted surface.  I love it!  As hoped, the stummel’s enrichment with the Balm darkened it and both plateaus and stummel are closer in shade, but the plateaus, by design, just a wee bit darker.  Yes!The fancy stem is waiting in the wings.  The Before & After Deoxidizer did a great job removing the oxidation.  Now to address the tooth chatter and bites on the button.  The stem has a very slight bend to it to mark the orientation.  The upper bit has tooth chatter and a compression, but also long scratches along the length.  The Lower bit also has tooth chatter and compressions – the button is chewed as well.  When you freehand it with a Freehand you’re bound to see evidences of clamping. To begin to address these issues, I use the heating method to see if the compressions will lessen.  Using a Bic lighter, I paint the areas with the flame.  As the vulcanite heats, it expands, and the hope is that the compressions disappear or are much lessened.  I apply the flame on both sides, and it does make a difference in lessening the compressions.  I move on to using 240 grade paper to sand both the upper and lower sides.  I also use the flat needle file to freshen the button lips edges.  The compressions sand out nicely.  The pictures show the results with the upper and lower bit. Next, I wet sand the entire stem using 600 grade paper. I then buff the stem with 0000 steel wool.I see that the slot is not smooth, and I use rounded needle file to file the edges.Next, I apply the full regimen of micromesh pads to the stem.  I begin by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400 and then dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  After each set of 3 pads, I apply a coat of Obsidian Oil to revitalize the vulcanite.  As expected, the Knute fancy stem now has that glossy shine – like new and better. I’m in the home stretch. I keep the stem and Freehand stummel separated for now as I apply Blue Diamond compound and wax.  It’s easier this way to manipulate the pieces.  I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to the Dremel, set the speed at 40% of full power, and I apply Blue Diamond compound to both stummel and stem.  When finished, I buff both with a felt cloth to remove compound dust from the surfaces.  I use a bristled brush as well to make sure the rusticated and blasted areas are free of dust.  I use the felt cloth again.  I don’t usually have these action pictures, but with my wife’s help here are a few.Then I change buffing wheels on the Dremel, maintain the same speed, and apply a few coats of carnauba wax to the Knute stummel and stem.  I then hand buff the stummel and stem with a microfiber cloth to blend and collect any excess wax and raise the shine more.  Again my wife provides the picture and a good shot of The Pipe Steward workstation on the 10th floor of a formerly Communist apartment complex ‘block.’  All the tools of the trade!  I finish the restoration of the Karl Erik Knute, by rejoining the stem and stummel.After completing the Knute of Denmark, I slipped it into a black, pull string pipe sock and placed it in a Bulgarian ornate lidded wooden box to serve as the protector of the Knute of Denmark and the gift box for my son’s graduation gift.  When my wife and I flew to St. Louis from Bulgaria for the graduation ceremony, the pipe was safely stowed in my backpack.  Most of our family was able to gather from all over the United States to celebrate Josiah’s achievement.  Family is special – a gift from God to remind us of the way He created us – to be in loving and supportive relationships. Our family gathering around Josiah’s celebration was rich blessing for me and my wife since we live so far away.  Admittedly, often words fail to express the depths of a father’s pride for his son – for all his children and grandchildren.  They fail me now. During the ceremony we watched as Josiah was donned by his professors with his master’s degree hood.  Afterwards, we gathered together as a family in our hotel room where we enjoyed the precious moments and gifts were given.  Among them was the Knute of Denmark which met his new steward – a gift expressing the pride and love of a father for his son, and carrying a blessing of,  “Well done, son!”

Thanks for joining me!



Recommissioning an Interesting Trent Lev-O-Lator Bent Billiard

Blog by Dal Stanton

This interesting Trent Lev-O-Lator came to me in a lot from Craig’s list.  One of the great things about friends and family knowing that I restore pipes for the Daughters of Bulgaria is that I have eyes all over the world watching for pipes!  Jon, a colleague working in the same organization, was in the US for a time of furlough after working in Ukraine and was in the Philadelphia area.  This lot of several pipes came up on Craig’s List in his locality and he sent me an email concerning them.  He went to look at them and gave me some descriptions, and many of the pipes were beyond a state of being restored, but for the price being asked, the remaining pipes would make it worthwhile.  Here is picture of the Craig’s List Lot that Jon acquired for me.  As a bonus, the pipe racks would be nice to have here in Bulgaria!They finally made it to Bulgaria where I sorted them and posted many of them online in my For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection where pipe men and women can commission a pipe to be restored that ‘speaks’ to them.  Andy has commissioned pipes before and is a return patron of The Pipe Steward.  Before my wife and I moved to Europe with our family over 25 years ago, Andy and his wife, were part of a church in Maryland that I helped start.  Previously, I restored a very nice Monarch Pat. 1989069 – 1074H Bent Ball for Andy as well as create a Churchwarden from a repurposed bowl and had fun with the write-up calling it, Fashioning a Churchwarden from a Forlorn, Throw away Billiard – a story of the Phoenix.  Andy returned to the ‘Dreamers!’ collection and another pipe spoke to him, a Trent Lev-O-Lator, part of the Craig’s List Lot from Jon.  Here are pictures of the pipe that got Andy’s attention. The nomenclature stamped on the left flank of the shank is ‘TRENT’ [over] ‘LEV-O-LATOR’.  The right side of the shank is stamped ‘IMPORTED BRIAR’ [over] ‘SERIAL 49W-5’.I had never seen this name on a pipe, and I had no idea was a ‘Lev-O-Lator’ was.  My first queries to Pipedia and Pipephil.eu, my regular first stops for information and research, came up empty.  A quick look in my copy of ‘Who Made That Pipe?’ by Wilczak & Colwell, also came up empty.  When I searched more broadly in Google, I came up with two helpful threads.  The first was from Pipes Magazine Forums where another person was asking the same question in 2015 – had anyone any information about a pipe marked ‘Trent Lev-O-Lator’?  He had acquired a Zulu with this nomenclature and was hoping to understand better its provenance.  One helpful response in the thread from ‘eJames’ started to build a road map:

Bruce Peters pipes (and a couple of others) were made by HLT for the Penn Tobacco Co. If this is a Bruce Peters it was most likely made before HLT bought Grabow, probably in the 1940’s.

Taking this information, I returned to Pipedia and found ‘Bruce Peters’ listed among American pipe makers:To understand more about the Henry Leonard & Thomas Inc., I look at the Pipedia article about HLT:

Henry Leonard & Thomas, Inc. (HLT) was founded in Ozone Park, Queens, New York by Henry J. Lavietes and two partners on May 31, 1938. The company patented a stem design for pipes and cigarette holders designed by Henry on March 9, 1943. Henry was the son of David Lavietes, who moved to Sparta, North Carolina in the early 1940s to purchase laurel and rhododendron burl to ship back to his son and HLT. Lavietes decided to stay in Sparta and founded the D&P Pipe Works with his other son Paul, originally as a 15-person operation. David Lavietes was the inventor of the Ajustomatic feature incorporated into Dr. Grabow pipes even today.

There is no mention of “Trent” or “Lev-O-Lator” but there is mention above of David Lavietes’ invention called the ‘Ajustomatic’ which later became a feature of Dr. Grabow pipes when in 1953 (same article) HLT acquired Dr. Grabow.  In the same article, the Popular Mechanics advertisement (LEFT – Courtesy of Doug Valitchka) describes the ‘Ajustomatic’ technology which looks much like the Lev-O-Later.  Here is the text enlarged:I continue to search for more leads and I find one additional thread that shed more light on the path.  This time the thread was from Tapatalk.com, in the “Dr. Grabow Pipes” Thread.  The thread started in 2017 when ‘SpadeFan’ asked:

Found this nice 86 from HL&T stamped BRUCE PETERS and LEV-O-LATOR.  Anyone know what the term LEV-O-LATOR means? Sound like I should plug it in and make coffee or something.Responses in this thread speculated that the ‘Ajustomatic’ and ‘Lev-O-Lator’ were one and the same:

JoeMan: That fitment sure looks a lot like an ajusto…and the cleaner may be identical to that of a Van Roy…and that logo looks a LOT like the Van Roy logo too.  I wonder if it’s a Van Roy production pipe which was then branded as a Bruce Peters.  If so…and if it is Ajusto…then I bet Lev-o-lator is their fancy name for the ajusto function.  

Pipesbywhitney:  I sold one a while back and here are my notes on it; This is a Trent Lev-O-Lator “Serial 49W-5” longer stem pear also stamped “Imported Briar.”  I can find no provenance for Trent pipes but the Import Briar stamping tells us it was most likely American made. The Lev-O-Lator system seems to be a metal drinkless mechanism attached to the tenon similar to many used in various American pipes during the mid-20th Century. I can find a Trend pipe similar to this one made around the same time by the Wm. Demuth Co. in New York so there could be a connect.I could find no additional information specifically placing the ‘Trent’ name in a time-line, but what I can deduce is that the ‘Trent Lev-O-Lator’ is the same ‘Ajustomatic’ internal technology that is traced back to before Dr. Grabow was acquired by HLT in 1953.  Without any specific reference to ‘Trent’, it’s difficult to say much more with certainty.  The Trent Lev-O-Lator on my worktable has the feel of being dated from the 40s to the 60s but this is only speculation.  I would need to find the Trent in a catalog to place it more specifically.Looking at the pipe itself, it’s a very nice half-bent Billiard.  The chamber has some thick cake build-up with the rim showing thick lava flow.  The rim also has two dents on the forward and rear internal edge. The stummel is darkened from grime and age.  I can see a few fills and dents on the briar surface which will require some work.  The stem has oxidation, which is moderate, but the good news is that the bit has little tooth chatter.

True confession is good for the soul: The research that I have just completed examining the ‘Ajustomatic’ technology was done AFTER I started working on the restoration!  With my practice of putting a batch of stems in the Before & After Deoxidizer soak to remove oxidation, I started on this before doing the research.  Unfortunately, I did not realize that the tip of the ‘Lev-O-Lator’ would come off.  This fitment serves as an air regulator which is cool.  Without realizing that it would come off making my attempt to clean the airway with a pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95% much easier, I decided to remove it.  The shank ring was already loose, and I felt I could remount the metal ‘stinger’ the same way I took it off.I heated the entire metal tenon with a Bic lighter.  After it heated up, I wrapped a cotton pad around the tenon and gently applied a little torque with a pair of plyers and voila!  The vulcanite loosened its grip and the Lev-O-Lator came out.  I still didn’t realize the end regulator could be removed.Along with other pipes in queue, I clean the Trent’s stem with pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95% before placing the stems in the soak with Before & After Deoxidizer. After some hours, I fish the Trent’s stem out of the Deoxidizer and let it drain. I then use a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to wipe off the oxidation that had surfaced.  I also work on the cavity of the vacated metal Lev-O-Lator with cotton buds wetted with isopropyl 95% as well with pipe cleaners clearing the airway of the Deoxidizer.I then apply paraffin oil, a mineral oil, to the stem to begin the revitalization of the vulcanite.Now, with an understanding of the research I did previously, I remove the air adjustor of the Lev-O-Lator after I reheat the tenon, insert it into the cavity and then screw the stem to the right to tighten it in the mortise.  When it tightens, I’m able to continue rotating the stem to the right because the metal is still hot.  I rotate the stem clockwise until aligned and then let it cool. The ajusto air regulator is totally clogged with what looks like mud.  I use a dental probe to clean it and wipe it down with a cotton pad and alcohol.I apply a few drops of CA glue to the inside facing of the shank ring and attach it to the stem.  This should hold it in place.Next, I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit and starting with the smallest blade I go to work on the thick cake.  This was the hardest cake build up I think I’ve experienced in any of my previous restorations!  Oh my, it took a good bit of time for the smallest blade head to work through the brick hard cake.  I was careful not to force the blade too aggressively for fear of breaking the blade head.  The blade head finally broke through to the floor of the chamber and I switch to the next larger blade.  I use only 2 blade heads of the 4 available in the Kit and then transition to scraping the chamber using the Savinelli Fitsall Tool which fine tunes reaching to the areas that the blades would not.  Finally, I sand the chamber using 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen and then clean the chamber using a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  After completing the chamber inspection, I detect some small heating cracks running on the chamber wall.  To remedy this, later I’ll coat the chamber wall with pipe mud to provide a layer that will help restart a healthy protective cake.Next, to clean the external surface and work on the lava flow over the rim, I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap on a cotton pad.  I also use a brass wire brush to work on the thick lava flow on the rim.  The grime is thick, and the rim does a good job coming clean, but it’s in pretty rough shape.  I take some pictures to inventory the issues I see on the bowl and rim.  The rim is beat up.  There are divots out of the briar on opposite sides of the rim.  The outer edge of the rim is also dinged and skinned.There are several old fills that are soft and drawn up.  Often this happens after the cleaning and the stummel is wet. I move methodically to each of the fills and excavate the old fill material using a sharp dental probe. To fill these holes, I use briar dust mixed with a thick CA glue.  I put a small mound of briar dust on an index card and I put some CA glue next to the mound.  Using a toothpick, I gradually pull briar dust into the CA glue mixing as I do.  I continue to create the putty until it reaches the thickness of molasses and then I apply small amounts of the briar dust putty to each of the holes including on the rim.  After doing this, I set the stummel aside allowing the patches to cure. Now, turning to the stem, I take some additional pictures to get a closer look.  The upper and lower bit has very little tooth chatter and the button is in relatively good shape.  What stands out about the stem is the very rough surface that remains over the entire stem after the soaking in the Before & After Deoxidizer. To remove any remaining oxidation and to address the rough surface texture, I sand using 240 grade paper.  I also focus on the sharpening and freshening the button area.I then transition to the sink with 600 grade paper and wet sand the entire surface.  Well, during this process, the shank ring that I had attached with CA glue popped off and went down the drain.  Fortunately, after immediately turning off the water, I was able to unattach the trap underneath the sink and retrieve the ring!  I follow wet sanding using 000 grade steel wool.  The stem looks great.On a roll with the stem, I apply the full regimen of micromesh pads to the stem.  First, I wet sand with pads 1500 to 2400 then dry sand with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads, I apply Obsidian Oil to rejuvenate the vulcanite and record that phase with a picture to show that newly polished vulcanite pop!  I then put the stem aside allowing it to dry. With the stem on the sidelines, I look back to the stummel.  The briar dust putty filling the several holes on the rim and stummel surface has cured.  I begin to file each fill mound down with a flat needle file – bringing the mounds down almost to flush with the briar surface.After the filing is complete, I transition to sanding each fill site with 240 grade paper to bring the patches flush with the briar surface and removing all the excess fill material. My normal process order is a little out of order but the grime on the inside of the mortise and airway is patiently waiting.  Using many cotton buds and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%, I attack the internals.  I also employ the full arsenal of dental probes, spoons and shank brushes.  At the end of the carnage pictured below, I have yet to come to a place of declaring the internals clean enough to satisfy me. With the frontal assault paused, I use the slower, more passive approach to continue the cleaning through the night.  Using kosher salt and isopropyl 95% I let it soak and work on the internals.  I first pull and twist a cotton ball to form a wick that I stuff down the mortise and airway with the help of a stiff wire.  The cotton wick serves to draw out the tars and oils.  I then fill the bowl with kosher salt and set the stummel in an egg crate to stabilize it.  I then fill the chamber with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt.  I wait a few minutes as the alcohol recedes and then top it off once more.  I set the stummel aside to soak.The next morning, the salt is not soiled in a great way, but the wick is what is what I want to see.I follow again with a renewed frontal attack using cotton buds and pipe cleaners wetted with alcohol as well as additional scraping the mortise walls with a dental spoon.  Eventually, the buds start surfacing lighter and I call it, ‘Cleaned!’ and move on.With the internals clean, I now focus on the external surface restoration.  I start from the top with the rim by topping the rim using 240 grade sanding paper on the chopping board.  With the damage on the rim, and the briar dust fills on the rim, the topping will give the rim a fresh start with new lines and surface.The half-bent shank reach extends beyond the parallel plane of the rim, so I need to hang the shank over the edge of the board while I top.  With the stummel inverted on the 240 grade paper, I do a tight rotation of the stummel on the corner of the topping board.  I check after a few rotations until it looks clean.I then switch the 240 grade paper with 600 grade paper and rotate the stummel several more times.  I like what I see. Even after the topping, there remains some roughness on the external edge of the rim.  The former divots in the internal rim edge are all but gone, but there are still some slight indents where the briar dust patches are. To remedy this, I create an internal rim bevel.  I start on the internal rim edge using a coarse rolled piece of 120 paper to cut the initial bevel.  I follow this by using 240 and 600 grade papers tightly rolled.  My method of creating the bevel is to pinch the paper against the internal rim edge with my thumb pressing the paper while my index finger puts consistent counter pressure on the external side of the rim and then rotate consistently around the circumference of the rim.  This usually provides a consistent result. I do the same with the external rim edge, but not with the same intent of creating a bevel.  My goal is simply to clean the rim as much as needed.  The result is not only to clean the rim, but to soften the rim presentation. With the rim repair and initial sanding complete, I use sanding sponges for the next phase.  I use coarse, then medium and light grade sponges in that order.  I’m careful to guard the nomenclature during the sanding phases. After completing the sponge sanding, I go directly to sanding with the full regimen of micromesh pads.  I begin by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400 then follow by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000. I love the way the grain emerges during the micromesh process. I now reach a decision point which is not in limbo too long.  I decide to apply a darker brown dye to the Trent stummel primarily to aid in masking the fills which are dark on the briar landscape.  I will use Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye with the flexibility to lighten the aniline dye if I choose. I assemble my desktop staining tools with the Dark Brown Leather Dye in a shot glass to apply with a bent over pipe cleaner.  I begin by wiping the stummel with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean.  I then warm the stummel using a hot air gun.  This heats the briar and expands the grain allowing the dye pigment to have a better reception.When heated, I use the pipe cleaner applicator to paint the stummel with the Dark Brown Leather Dye in sections and then with each painted section I flame the wet aniline dye with the lit candle.  This immediately combusts the alcohol in the dye which flames off with a ‘poof’ and the dye pigment sets in the grain.  I do this methodically around the stummel until the entire stummel is thoroughly covered with the fire crusted dye.  When it’s completed, I set the stummel aside for at least 6 hours to allow the new dye to settle.  This ‘rest’ helps guard against the dye later coming off on the steward’s hands after the first few uses of the pipe when the stummel is heated.  I put the stummel aside and wait.After several hours, I’m ready to unwrap the fired stummel.I mount the felt cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel and set the speed at the lowest RPMs.  This is to reduce the heat generated by the coarser felt wheel as I apply the coarser Tripoli compound.With my wife’s assistance, she takes a few pictures as I ‘unwrap’ the stummel revealing the results of applying Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye to the stummel.  After completing the first round applying Tripoli compound with the felt buffing wheel, I change to a cotton cloth buffing wheel and increase the speed to about 40% full power.  I again apply Tripoli using the cotton cloth wheel which can reach into the crook of the bowl and shank which is not possible with the felt wheel.  After doing this, I go over the entire stummel once more with the cotton cloth wheel using Tripoli compound. This pass using the cotton cloth wheel sharpens the grain lines – making them very distinctive and almost seeming to be luminescent. After completing the application of Tripoli compound, I wipe the stummel with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol not so much to lighten it, because I like the dark shade of the briar, but to blend the new dye and to dissipate possible dye clumps that collected on the surface.After reuniting the Trent stummel and stem once more, I mount the Dremel with another cotton cloth pad, maintaining 40% full power, and apply the finer Blue Diamond compound to the pipe – stem and stummel.  When finished, I buff the pipe with a felt cloth to remove the compound dust from the surface.  Before applying the wax, I have one project left to accomplish.  Earlier I noted that there were some heating cracks in the chamber which were not severe enough to warrant the use of J-B Weld but could be addressed though applying a pipe mud. Pipe mud is the mixture of cigar ash and water to form a ‘mud’ that provides a hard, protective coating over the chamber walls and serves as a starter layer to develop a healthy dime width protective cake.  With gratitude to my colleague, Gary, living in the nearby city of Plovdiv, I have cigar ash that he provides me periodically from his passion of smoking Romeo cigars.  I clean the ash through a sifter and it works very well.I mix small amounts of ash and water until I get a mud-like texture.  After putting a pipe cleaner in the airway to block the draft hole from closing, I use a small dental spoon to scoop the mud and deposit it on the chamber wall.  I also use the spoon to spread the mud so that it disperses evenly. After applying the pipe mud, I set the stummel in an egg carton and let the mud dry and harden through the night. The next morning, the mud transformed into the hardened protective layer as hoped.  If Andy is the next steward of this Trent, he should know not to use a metal tool to clean the chamber during the initial stages of use.  After using the pipe, stir the resulting ash carefully and after dumping it, take a folded over pipe cleaner and rub the chamber wall to loosen the debris.  This avoids scraping the new protective layer which will help encourage a new protective cake to develop.Now the homestretch.  I mount another cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel, maintain about 40% full power speed, and apply a few coats of carnauba wax to the Trent Lev-O-Lator Bent Billiard – stem and stummel.  After application of the wax, I give the pipe a hearty hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to disperse any collected wax and to raise the shine.

When I started this restoration, I had never heard of the ‘Lev-O-Lator’ adjustment fitment.  It would be interesting to play with the movable adjuster valve to see what the difference in the experience would be.  The grain on the Trent half-bent Billiard came out very well with the thick, dark grains masking well the fill repairs.  I did not re-glue the shank ring in place – I will leave that to the new steward to determine according to his preferences.  Andy commissioned this Trent Lev-O-Lator Half Bent Billiard from the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection and will have the first opportunity to acquire it at The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria, our work here in Bulgaria among women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thank you for joining me!



Rebuilding a Button to Recommission an Aristocrat London Made – Made in England 1077

Blog by Dal Stanton

I acquired this very stately looking Aristocrat trolling through offerings on eBay.  I liked it immediately because of its large rusticated bowl and the nice half bent Billiard presence.  It needed some work which was good for me – a broken off button and deep oxidation – factors that would discourage many from taking a second look.  When the auction ended, the price was a good one and I had the highest bid.  Another great pipe to restore to benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – our work here in Bulgaria helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  I was in the US when I landed this hefty rusticated Billiard and it was in the suitcase in the Lufthansa cargo hold on its way back to Bulgaria with me.As with all the pipes available in the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection, I take additional pictures for stewards looking to commission a pipe.  When Andrew reached out to me, he indicated interest in the Aristocrat but also in the Bearded Sailor Carved pipe I had then.  He had served in the Navy for 17 years and the old sailor caught his attention.  Unfortunately, the Carved Bearded Sailor was already commissioned for another pipe man.  I appreciate the service that Andrew has given in serving his country, and I mentioned to him that my son had also served as a submariner in the Navy, on the USS Boise. I appreciated his reply when I asked him for patience waiting for the Aristocrat to reach the work table.  Here’s what he wrote:


As the Grandson of a hobbyist wildlife painter I fully understand the time required to do something like this.  I would love this pipe and would like to commission too this pipe.  Thank you for keeping me in mind about the bearded sailor and thank your son for his service.


Here are some of the pictures Andrew saw of the Aristocrat London Made that I used from the original seller: The pipe has a large presence and I take out my ruler and take the measurements: Length: 5 15/16 inches, Height: 2 inches, Rim width: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber width: 3/4 inches, Chamber depth: 1 13/16 inches.  The nomenclature stamped on the lower shank smooth panel is thin. I take additional pictures of this from my worktable.  What is stamped is cursive ‘Aristocrat’ [over] LONDON MADE [over] MADE IN ENGLAND.  To the left of the nomenclature is a shape number: 1077 which undoubtedly points to the half-bent Billiard designation.The stem stamping is an ‘A’ set in a diamond frame.In search of the origins of the Aristocrat, I first look in my autographed copy of Herb Wilczak & Tom Colwell’s, “Who Made That Pipe?” dated 3/3/97.  Tom Colwell’s gifting of this book to “Bruce” is in April of 2001, concluding with his signature.  There were several listings for ‘Aristocrat’ but only two fell within the correct UK parameters:

John Redman/Kapp & Peterson – ENGL
Comoy’s / Harmon Bros. LTD – ENGL

Pipedia’s information narrowed the field by isolating the plain ‘A’ logo:

Pipedia’s entry for the John Redman Co. does not include much information.  I researched this company before as being the probable English manufacturer of pipes stamped with Boston’s Tobacconist Shop, L.J. Peretti name (see: A Christmas Gift in need of a stem splice – L J Peretti Squared Shank Billiard).  This restoration started a fun hobby of collecting L.J. Peretti pipes and selling many too!  Here is the information.

John Redman Ltd. and British Empire Pipe Co.

Other lines include Aristocrat, Buckingham, Buckingham Palace, Canberra, Captain Fortune, Dr John, Golden Square, Redonian, Richmond (not Sasieni), Twin Bore.

Former factory located at 3-11 Westland Place, Hackney, London N1 7LP

Pipephil’s entry solidified the John Redman Ltd. And British Empire Pipe Co., with the Aristocrat and the ‘A’ stem stamping.The dating of the Aristocrat on my table is difficult to determine, but it has an older feel to it and is set in a very traditional dark English style hue.  Looking at the pipe itself, there is a moderate amount of carbon cake buildup in the chamber which I will remove to examine the condition of the chamber walls.  The rusticated stummel is very attractive – the deep, distinct etching is nice, but there is grime and build up on the rim as well as in the stummel’s nooks and crannies.  The smooth briar panel holding the nomenclature on the shank’s underside is worn and the nomenclature is thin. There is a large scratch scarring the panel.  The panel’s scratches and nicks will be a challenge to clean without further eroding the stampings.  The stem has deep oxidation and the lower button has cracked off.  This will need to be rebuilt.  These pictures show some of these specific issues.I begin the restoration of this John Redman Aristocrat London Made, half-bent Billiard by cleaning the airway of the stem with a pipe cleaner wetting with isopropyl 95%.  I add the deeply oxidized stem to a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer along with other stems and pipes in the queue. After soaking for several hours, I fish out the Aristocrat’s stem and again clean the airway with a pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95% to clean the excess Deoxidizer. I use a cotton pad to wipe off the raised oxidation and the Deoxidizer has done a good job, but I still detect oxidation in the vulcanite.To begin revitalizing the stem, I apply paraffin oil, a mineral oil, and put it aside to dry.Next, I begin the process of cleaning the stummel. I start with reaming the chamber using the smallest blade head of the Pipnet Reaming Kit and moving to the larger blades. I put paper towel down to expedite the cleanup.  I use 2 of the 4 blades available then transition to scraping the chamber further using the Savinelli Fitsall tool and follow with sanding the chamber using 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen for reach and leverage.  After cleaning the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol, I examine the chamber and it looks great.  I see no evidences of burning damage with fissures or cracking. Next, using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap on a cotton pad I start the cleaning of the external rusticated surface.  I also employ a bristled tooth brush to work into the ridges of the rustication.  A brass wire brush which is gentle on the briar, also helps with the rim cleaning.  Finally, I take the stummel to the sink and rinse it with cool tap water.  The cleaning did a good job.  I take some pictures to show the surface and the question begins in my mind regarding the base color of the stummel.  Bare briar is peeking through, but the base looks black to me. Wanting to get a head start on my thinking for later stages, I pull out 3 very dark or black dyes to compare.  I have two Italian brands that are labeled ‘Dark Night’ and ‘Wenghe’ – both of which are so dark brown that they appear black to me.  The third dye is Fiebing’s Black Leather Dye – it is black.  I test each of these to see what they do and which may be the dye I use later to freshen the stummel if I indeed do decide to stain it. Thinking….Moving to the internal stummel cleaning, I use pipe cleaners and cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 95%. I quickly transition to scraping the mortise walls with a narrow dental spatula to excavate what tars and oils would come out manually.  I also use different sizes of shank brushes wetted with isopropyl 95% to clean.  As the picture below shows, this was not a short-lived encounter.  I also use a drill bit to hand turn down the airway to draw out more tar build-up.  After some time, the buds begin to lighten but not enough to declare the job done. To continue cleaning the internals passively, I use a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  I do this to further clean as well as to freshen the internal briar for the new steward.  I first pull and twist a cotton ball to form a wick which I stuff down the mortise and airway with the aid of a stiff wire.  This will act to draw out the tars and oils as the isopropyl 95% does its thing. After putting the stummel in an egg crate to stabilize things, I fill the bowl with kosher salt.  Unlike iodized salt, kosher salt doesn’t leave an aftertaste.  Next, I fill the bowl with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt.  As the alcohol absorbs into the chamber and mortise, the level of alcohol goes down.  After a few minutes I top off the isopropyl 95% and put the stummel aside to soak. Turning now to the stem, I take some pictures and take a closer look.  The Before & After Oxidizer did well, but there are still build up places on the surface showing where the oxidation was.  The button on the topside is worn down and underneath the button has broken off. Before starting on the rebuild of the button, I use 240 grade sanding paper and sand the stem.  I want to first address the overall condition of the stem surface then the button. While sanding, I’m careful to protect the diamond A stamp of the Aristocrat as well as to avoid shouldering the shank facing. To rebuild the button, I begin by cutting a folded over triangle from index card stock which is a bit stiffer.  I leave the end of the triangle open and create a sleeve.  I put smooth scotch tape over the end of the triangle sleeve to hold the sleeve together and to keep the wedge from sticking to the CA glue and activated charcoal mixture.  After the triangle wedge is fashioned, I insert it into the slot airway as far as it will go to fill the gap and then I push other triangle pieces of index card into the sleeve to fill it out and to hold it in place firmer.I then mix the charcoal putty.  I use extra thick CA glue and mix it with activated charcoal by gradually pulling charcoal into a small puddle of CA glue and mixing with a toothpick.  I add charcoal until it reaches the viscosity of molasses and then apply it to the button.The first application is a little too runny, so I add a bit more charcoal to the mixture and apply more.I have a good coverage over the entire area which will allow me to file and shape the new button.  After the charcoal putty sets, I work the wedge loose and it comes out easily.  I put the stem aside to allow the putty to cure thoroughly.Well, after a few days longer than planned because of dealing with an unforeseen flu bug hitting many here in Sofia, the kosher salt and alcohol soak has done some major work.  The salt and wick are soiled in a big way indicating that the tars and oils were drawn more from the internals. I toss the salt in the waste and clean the chamber with paper towel as well as blowing through the mortise to rid the stummel of salt crystals.I follow again with more cotton buds and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% to clean up the left-over residue.  The salt soak made a dent.  After some more effort, I declare the internals clean and move on.The stem button rebuild is next.  The charcoal putty is fully cured after the days of the flu bug and I start working on it using a flat needle file. I start working on the end filing toward the slot to form the end of the stem. After the button face is flush, I then file downwardly to form the depth of the button lip.When I arrive at about the right depth for the button lip, I then file from the stem side to sharpen and shape the new button.I also use the round pointed needle file to smooth the slot – forgot to picture that file!I also freshen the topside button lip with the flat needle file.The filing process is complete.  The bottom rebuild looks great – it shaped up well.  The next pictures show the completion of the filing on the upper bit and button face. As is often the case, air pockets are trapped in the charcoal putty and are revealed during the sanding process. To remedy this, using a toothpick, I run a small drop of regular CA glue on the toothpick and use it to paint the entire lip with the glue.  I also run a line to seal the edges of the button – both the stem side and on the button face.  Taking a picture of black with a light background doesn’t show a lot of detail often!I use an accelerator to quicken the curing process and follow by lightly sanding the button with 240 grade paper.  The CA glue filled the pits well.I take the stem to the sink and wet sand the entire stem with 600 grade paper.  I’m careful to avoid sanding the Aristocrat ‘A’ stem stamp.  After using 600 paper, I then apply 0000 grade steel wool to the entire stem.I move directly to applying the full regimen of 9 micromesh pads to the Aristocrat stem.  I start by wet sanding using pads 1500 to 2400 followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads, I apply a coat of Obsidian Oil to condition the stem.  I like that newly polished pop that comes from the vulcanite after the micromesh process! With the stem waiting in the wings, I take a close look at the stummel.  The rustication is deep and expressive and the stummel itself is large.  The briar block this stummel is hewn from must have been dense, because the stummel itself has some weight to it.  I like the dark hue of the rustication and my head debate is whether to freshen the entire bowl by staining it or to keep what is present and touch it up, primarily on the rim?  I’m drawn to the flecked bare briar that is present in the current condition – it gives the stummel and classic rustic look – not too polished, but a pipe that has seen some life.  The rim has raw briar showing and needs touching up. The other question has to do with the smooth briar underplate holding the nomenclature.  The stamping is already ghosting and thin – I don’t want to contribute to this loss of his history!  There is a scratch to the right of the lettering that I can sand without trouble.  But as I look at the smooth briar plate, the dark stain that is now covering the smooth briar does not look good.With the decision made to go with the current hue and touch up, I start on the smooth briar nomenclature plate first on the underside of the shank.  I want to create a more distinct and classy looking nomenclature plate by removing the finish from the smooth briar.  This will create a classy looking contrast between the dark rusticated surface and the smooth briar.  I first use a cotton pad wetted with alcohol which had little effect.  I then switch to using acetone.  I wetted several cotton pads and scrubbed the smooth briar.  This had some effect, but still nothing spectacular showing a loosening of the dark finish on this area.The breakthrough came when I thought of trying Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. To my great surprise, it works.  The finish was removed in large measure leaving behind and interesting patch of smooth briar.  Yet, as I look closely at the nomenclature, I’m afraid it appears as though the Magic Eraser sponge exerted more abrasiveness than I thought would be the case.  The lettering has deteriorated further – the profanity that flashed through my mind did not surface!  Ugh – we make plans, but often they are not what happens.  I allow the briar to dry before doing more on the underside panel.Next, to touch up the rim, I use a Dark Walnut dye stick, which I chose after testing several colors on a cotton pad.  I apply the dye stick over the rim and in the crevices.  It looks great, blending well with the rest of the stummel. To roughen the rim up a bit, to blend it more with the weathered, rustic stummel, I use a 1500 grade micromesh pad and lightly sand the ridges of the rusticated rim.  This lightens the tips and helps blending.To get a bird’s eye view of the project, I rejoin the Aristocrat London Made stem and stummel.  It’s looking good.With a closer look at the junction there is a gap between the shank and the stem facings.  I examine the mortise and there is no ridge that would be creating the obstruction.  With no obvious obstruction, I use 240 grade sanding paper simply to taper the end of the tenon more guessing that the mortise narrows, and this will afford a little more room for the tenon.  After sanding, I try again, and it seats well now. I now mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel, set the speed at about 40% full power and apply Blue Diamond compound to the stem and stummel.  With my wife’s help, she takes a picture of the process in motion.  When completed, I give the pipe a good wipe down with a felt cloth to clean it of compound dust. Before applying wax to the stem and stummel, two mini-projects are first needed.  I could have done this earlier, but now is ok too!  Using Before & After Restoration Balm, I apply some to my fingers and then rub it into the smooth briar area on the underside of the shank.  I also apply the Balm to the shank alone.  Later, after it absorbs for a few minutes, I wipe off the excess and buff up the smooth briar and the shank.  I like the results so well, even on the rusticated shank surface, I decide to then apply B&A Restoration Balm to the entire stummel.  After about 15 minutes, I again wipe off the excess then buff the surface up, making sure all the Balm has been absorbed into the briar surface. While the Balm is absorbing, I refresh the diamond encased ‘A’ Aristocrat stem stamp.  Using white acrylic paint, I apply some paint over the stamp and then blot it with a cotton pad to draw off the excess paint.  After it dries, I gently scrape the excess paint leaving the paint filling the stamping lines.  I like it! I reunite the stem and stummel and mount another cotton cloth buffing wheel onto the Dremel.  Because I’m applying wax to a rougher rusticated surface, I increase the speed of the Dremel to about 60% full power to increase the RPMs and therefore the heat helping to dissolve the wax.  I apply a few coats of carnauba wax to the stummel. Moving to the stem, I decrease the speed to 40% of full power and apply carnauba.   After finishing with the wax, I use and microfiber cloth and give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing to raise the shine.

I am very pleased how this hefty pipe turned out.  The deep, distinct rusticated surface looks great on this nice looking, classic half bent Billiard.  The half bend works very well with the overall feel of the bowl resting in the palm.  My only disappointment is the further eroding of the nomenclature in order to reveal the grain of the smooth briar panel.  Even so, the pipe is a keeper.  The major technical hurdle of rebuilding the button came out beautifully and reveals no evidence of its former state.  Andrew could see how nice this Aristocrat London Made could be and he commissioned him from the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection and will have the first opportunity to acquire it from The Pipe Steward Store.  The restoration of this pipe benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

Reclaiming Paw’s Kaywoodie “500” 04 Long Stem Billiard – A Great-Grandfather’s Legacy

Blog by Dal Stanton

One of the greatest challenges to me AND honors is to receive a request to restore a pipe that is a family’s heirloom.  It’s amazing how when a loved one passes from this life, the things they leave behind become present links to the memories of the past.  Pipes are favorite heirlooms because they hold an enormous sense of the presence of the loved one – the smell, marks left on the pipe, memories of the loved one sitting and reflecting with pipe in hand and a wink of the eye….  This was one of the reasons I took the name, The Pipe Steward, because of this strong sense of passing on something of great value – not just the physical pipe, but the memories and associations welded to that pipe’s presence.   Joe contacted me with a request for some pipes that hold this honor.  Joe and Hannah work in the same organization as my wife and I, but live in Athens, Greece.  I met them for the first time at a conference there last year.  This was Joe’s request:

Hey Dal,
Joe here…, we talked for a while about pipes. I have some old pipes. They were my wife’s Great-Grandfather’s pipes from Winston-Salem, NC.  I’d love for them to be restored, and I’d love for the money to go to a good cause like
the Daughters of Bulgaria program. All of them need an intense deep cleaning, and some have some stem damage. If I sent you some pictures, do you think you could offer a guesstimation of the price? I’d love to give these pipes to my father-in-law in the same condition as his grandfather smoked them.

Many blessings,

Joe sent some pictures on to me and he settled on one pipe as a starter project – a Kaywoodie “500” Lovat shape – or what I originally identified it as.  Here were a few pictures showing the major issues.Since Joe wanted to gift the pipe to his father-in-law, which belonged to his grandfather – Hannah’s great-grandfather, I asked Joe what he knew about the pipe’s history.  This is what he wrote:

History of the pipe… hmmm. That’s going to be tricky. I will ask and see if anyone can offer more input on the history of Paw’s pipes, but I can’t honestly say much myself.

Ben is my father-in-law. He was raised by a single mom, who worked a lot to raise her 4 boys. So, Ben’s grandparents raised the boys while the mom worked so much. When Ben’s mom passed away a few years ago, we were all cleaning out her home and I noticed a pipe stand in the garage with 5 pipes and a Sir Walter Raleigh bowl cleaner, and someone was asking if that should go in the garage sale. I quickly offered to be a home for it if no one else wanted it, which made Ben happy. He didn’t really have the capacity to decide things that week, he was just glad it was staying in the family and not going to a stranger. 

My ultimate goal is to get these pipes, the stand, and this bowl cleaner in good shape to re-give them back to Ben (maybe for his 60th Birthday next year).  I’ve really just been a pipe steward, myself. I think it will mean a lot to Ben to have an heirloom from his grandfather (who functionally was his father).

Dusty, cobwebby garages often hold the key to finding special heirlooms!  After I wrote Joe describing some of the issues and remedies for Paw’s Kaywoodie “500”, he wrote back with some special instructions to preserve some of the evidences of Paw’s time with his Lovat.  With the heavy erosion to the back of the rim, I had suggested rounding/topping the rim.  Joe’s response:

My initial thoughts are to not round out the rim. I like the flat surface of the rim. As far as the damage on the backside, I know it should be cleaned up, but I wonder if taking 1/10 of an inch off instead of 1/8, if that would yield a proper looking bowl, yet still with the slightest reminder that Paw lit his pipes with a match from the back of the bowl.   It’s just a thought.   I like it when antiques look in their original condition (or close) but I’m also a sucker for the sentimental stuff, so I don’t mind having at least a little bit of the bowl erosion still visible. 

The pipe made it to Bulgaria from Greece via another colleague and another conference in Barcelona that I attended.  With the Kaywoodie “500” now on my worktable I take more pictures to get a better idea of the pipe’s condition. The nomenclature on both sides of the long Lovat stem is clear.  The left flank is stamped KAYWOODIE [over] “500” [over] IMPORTED BRIAR [over] PAT. 2808837.  The right side of the shank is stamped with the Kaywoodie shape number, ‘06’.  The stem holds the classic inlaid Kaywoodie shamrock or clover.  Almost missed and lurking on the lower side of the stem is stamped: “B75” – I’ll need to check this out! Looking first for information about the shape number, ‘06’, Pipedia Kaywoodie Shapes Numbers list is helpful:

04 Large saddle bit billiard, long shank, short bit 1931-1958, 1961-1970

The description is spot on with the saddle stem and long shank.  Calling it a long shank Billiard is essentially the same as a Lovat, in the Canadian family of shapes.  The potential dating brackets are also helpful.  Another Kaywoodie Shapes chart I go to at Kaywoodie Free Forum confirms that this number describes a medium Billiard, long shank, saddle stem but I also see specific shape numbers for Canadians, ‘71’, and such.  So, in deference to the Kaywoodie shape number specifications, I’ll be calling this a Long Shank Billiard and not a Lovat.  Also at Kaywoodie Free Forum, there is a very helpful Kaywoodie Master List that was compiled and I quickly find the Kaywoodie “500” series listed as ‘low end pipes’ with the date range of 1957 to 1967.  The list provided this example of the “500” series of a classic Billiard which matches Paw’s pipe scheme perfectly.  These were not expensive pipes but attractive and well within a working man’s budget.I still have not seen anything regarding the ‘B75’ stamp on the lower side of the saddle stem.  So, as I often do, with all of Steve’s rebornpipes.com experience, I send a note to him with the inquiry.  This response cleared up the mystery:

As for the stamping on the stem I was told by a fellow on the KW forum that they were part numbers to make replacement of a stem easy, I have seen it on quite a few of the KWs I have restored.

So, with that mystery resolved, I look more at the Kaywoodie name.

I’ve worked on several Kaywoodies before this and I am always intrigued by the story and repeat it here to give the broader heritage of Paw’s “500”. The Kaywoodie website, actually the S. M. Frank Co. & Inc. site, is informative:

The history of S. M. Frank & Co. spans nearly a century and half of pipe making, supporting our claim as the “oldest pipe house in America.” S. M. Frank, as it exists today, is a combination of some of the biggest names in pipe making from the early part of the 20th. century. The pipe names Kaywoodie, Yello-Bole, Reiss-Premier, DeMuth, Medico, Heritage and Frank are familiar to generations of pipe smokers.

The article describes how in 1919 the Kaufman Brothers & Bondy Company (KBB) produced the Kaywoodie and Dinwoodie pipe lines.  By 1924 the Dinwoodie line fell by the wayside and the primary name of Kaywoodie was the mainstay pipe line and the company came to be known by that name.  Little is known about the early activities of the KBB Company which started in 1851 by the German born Kaufman brothers.  The company had several locations but was centered in the New York City region throughout its production history.  The expansion of the KKB Company following the gold rush I find fascinating:

produced the Kaywoodie and Dinwoodie pipe lines.  By 1924 the Dinwoodie line fell by the wayside and the primary name of Kaywoodie was the mainstay pipe line and the company came to be known by that name.  Little is known about the early activities of the KBB Company which started in 1851 by the German born Kaufman brothers.  The company had several locations but was centered in the New York City region throughout its production history.  The expansion of the KKB Company following the gold rush I find fascinating:

When one of the men from the New York office got “gold fever”, he carried a large supply of pipes with him to California that he sold along the way. This early “national distribution” did much to build the reputation of KBB. By the late 1800’s, branches of KBB were opened in Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco and St. Louis with family and friends acting as agents. The trademarks, for the inlaid cloverleaf and the cloverleaf with the KBB initials inside, were issued in 1881. 

In 1935, KBB boasted of being the largest pipe making facility in the world with 500 employees and a production of 10,000 pipes per day from their facility in West New York, New Jersey.  In 1955, Kaywoodie was acquired by S. M. Frank & Co. (See Link) and continues to the present with well-known names Yello-BoleReiss-PremierWilliam Demuth CompanyMedico, Heritage (Heritage Pipes Inc.), along with Kaywoodie (Link).

I enjoyed seeing this picture in the 1955 Kaywoodie Catalog from Pipedia with a specific listing of shape 04.  The ‘04’ is the forth pipe down (picture to the left) and this shows that the shape designations for Kaywoodie pipes stay consistent.  This catalog pre-dates by a few years the ’57 to ’67 dating for the “500” series, but the shape again is spot on.  I enjoyed seeing this catalog page because it shows the huge inventory variety that Kaywoodie provided its customers.  The subtle nuances between these long shank, saddle stem Billiards is interesting to me.  The ‘04’ enjoys the distinction of the longest shank compared to the shapes presented.

It is obvious from the condition of the Kaywoodie “500” that Paw loved this pipe and this pipe hung in there a long time!  As you would expect, the briar surface has its share of nicks and grime after over half a century of service. The chamber has thick cake that has built up and closes the chamber as you go downward. The rim has seen better days.  What I first thought might be burn damage on the back side of the rim.  I think there’s evidence of that too, as the inner rim lip is burnt and receded, but there’s more.  Because the briar is raw here, it indicates something else about Paw’s habits and rituals of pipe smoking.  It looks as if Paw was a knocker.  With that nice long shank in hand after finishing his bowl, my guess is that he would twist the pipe over and give the bowl a few knocks on whatever hard surface was nearby to loosen and remove the ashes.  The knocker dent is what Joe would like to preserve to some extent as a lasting memory of Paw.  The second picture below is convincing forensically to prove that Paw was a knocker – the angle is perfect! The stem is a mess.  The oxidation is deep.  The tooth chatter and button compressions suggest also that Paw was a chewer!  The upper bit over time took the brunt and over time cracked and the entire top of the button broke off, taking with it some of the flat bit vulcanite real estate.  This area will need rebuilding.The stem shows one more issue that needs addressing: the stem is over-clocked.  It tends to be normal with these pipes as they age, with much wear and use, the metal fittings rubbing, gradually there is a microscopic loss in the metal composition.  The result is more thread room and therefore, when the stem turns to the right and tightens, it’s not in the proper orientation.  This is the case for this Kaywoodie “500” as this picture shows. With an ongoing appreciation for the history of the Kaywoodie name, and of this pipe’s former steward and Joe’s desires to gift the pipe to his father-in-law, Ben, I begin the restoration of Paw’s Kaywoodie “500” with a pipe cleaner dipped in isopropyl 95% and clean the airway of the stem.  I also use a thin shank brush to clean up through the air hole on the metal Kaywoodie tenon.  I then add the stem to a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer to work on the deep oxidation in the vulcanite.  I don’t believe the Deoxidizer will have total success in raising all the oxidation, but this is a good start.  There are other pipes and stems in the commissioning queue that the Kaywoodie joins, all of which have been restored and shipped off to new stewards!After several hours, I fish out the Kaywoodie saddle stem and let it drain.  I then put another pipe cleaner wetted with alcohol through the airway to remove the excess Deoxidizer liquid.Next, wiping the stem surface with cotton pads wetted with alcohol removes much of the raised oxidation.  Much comes off, but the evidence of the residual deep oxidation is easily seen.  I take some close up pictures of the upper and lower bit to show what I’m seeing – I notch down the aperture of the iPhone app I use to allow more light to see the brown/olive green oxidation more clearly. For now, with a cotton pad I apply paraffin oil (a mineral oil) to the stem to begin the process of revitalizing the stem.I now commence the cleaning regimen of the stummel. First, I remove the carbon cake build up by reaming the chamber.  I take a picture of the chamber to mark the start.  I start by using the Pipnet Reaming Kit. After putting paper towel down to minimize cleanup, I start with the smallest blade head and go to work. It takes some time for the blade to break through to the floor of the chamber – the cake is hard and stubborn.  In addition, I use the next 2 larger blade heads of the 4 blades available in the kit.  I then scrape the walls more using the Savinelli Fitsall tool and finish by sanding the chamber with 240 grade sanding paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen to give me reach and leverage.  After wetting a cotton pad with alcohol, I clean the chamber of the carbon dust residue left over.  The pictures show the progress. When I inspect the chamber, the walls look good. There are heating veins in the wood, but no cracks or fissures from heating damage.  I do note two things that give me some concern.In the picture below I mark off the draft hole with 2 yellow marks.  The first issue I see is marked by the arrows. Through decades of reaming and scraping, which I just added to, a curved ridge has formed – you can see the edge of the ridge marked by the arrows.  The briar curves outwardly to the ridge which I show with the curved red line.  The ridge is only on the back side of the chamber, over the draft hole.  I may need to sand this ridge down so that the chamber doesn’t have an abrupt bump to hinder future reaming and cleaning.  The second issue is caused by overzealous reaming.  The floor of the chamber drops underneath the proper amount of space below the draft hole.  A floor cavity has been created by the chamber floor wearing down over time.  The ridge of this floor cavity is marked with the red dashes. Not only does this create a burning dynamic that will always leave excess tobacco beneath the draft hole, but also the danger of a burn through is a concern with the thinning of the floor.  I will continue to think about these new issues as I continue the cleaning process.Next, I work on cleaning the external briar surface by using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap on a cotton pad and I scrub.  I also use a brass wire brush to clean the thick lava flow over the rim.  I use cool tap water to rinse off the soap.  The Murphy’s Soap does a good job cleaning, but the cleaning reveals the rough shape of the stummel. The finish is very thin with shiny finish patches here and there.  There are also many scratches and pits – too many to count.  I take pictures for an inventory. I need to remove the old finish so that there aren’t the shiny patches and unevenness.  I first try wiping the stummel surface with cotton pads wetted with isopropyl 95%.  The pads take a good deal off as evidenced in the coloration of the cotton pads, but there are still patches with the old finish hanging on.Next, I wet a cotton pad with acetone and again I scrub the surface.  This does the trick.  I move on.I turn now to the stummel internal cleaning.  The effort is made difficult by the Kaywoodie metal shank facing which only provides a very small access point to the mortise through the thread air hole.   I use cotton buds and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95% to clean the tars and oil accumulation out of the mortise and airway.  I also reach through the metal hole with a smaller dental spatula to scrape the mortise wall as far as the tool will reach.  But it doesn’t reach far.  To save on my limited supply of pipe cleaners, I utilize shank brushes also wetted with isopropyl 95%.  After some time, I decide to call a halt to this frontal assault which reminds me of the carnage of WWI – carnage but little advance as the lines were kept in check.  The hour is late, and I change gears.I utilize the more passive approach of allowing the stummel to soak through the night with a kosher salt and alcohol soak. First, I stretch and twist a cotton ball to create the ‘wick’ which I stuff down through the mortise into the long shank airway.  The wick will help draw out the tars and oils from the internal briar.  I then set the stummel in an egg crate to stabilize it and fill the bowl with kosher salt which does not leave an aftertaste.  I then fill the bowl until with isopropyl 95%, the purest alcohol I can purchase in Bulgaria, until it surfaces over the salt.  In a few minutes I top off the alcohol after it has absorbed into the internals.  I then turn the lights off and another day ends. The next morning, I’m hoping that the fact that the cotton wick and salt are strongly soiled is indication that the cleaning of the internals has advanced significantly with the kosher salt and isopropyl 95% soak through the night.  I toss the expended salt in the waste and clean the leftover salt from the chamber with a paper towel, also blowing through the mortise to remove crystals.  I follow this with a renewed regimen of pipe cleaners, cotton buds, shank brushes, and scraping with a dental spatula.  Eventually, as I hear the hallelujah course in the recesses of my mind, the cotton buds begin to lighten and finally I declare that the job completed!  The new steward will do well to clean the internals on a regular basis to avoid this in the future! For a change of scenery and to start on the stem repairs, I take a close look at the stem upper and lower.  There remains deep oxidation of the vulcanite stem requiring sanding to bring it out.  It is mainly in the flat part of the saddle stem.  The tooth chatter and button compressions are significant and of course the upper button must be rebuilt using a mixture of CA glue and activated charcoal.  Before working on this, I decide to use the heating method to bring out and minimize the tooth chatter by painting the areas with a Bic lighter.  I do this before rebuilding the button because of the differences in the materials.  Vulcanite will expand with heat – the CA glue/charcoal will not – at least not in the same way.  So, to be on the safe side, I will work on raising and minimizing the tooth chatter and lower button compressions first, before working on the rebuild.  Sanding will be necessary after both.I paint both upper and lower bit with a Bic and sand with 240 grade paper.  The heating did raise the chatter nicely and the sanding erased it.  I also work on the lower button with a flat needle file to refresh the lip and to work on a small compression.  I’m pleased with this first phase of the stem repair.Next, the button repair. The first thing I do is create a wedge that fits in the slot. I use stiffer index card material to do it.  I fold the card stock to form it into a triangle so that it wedges up the slot into the airway.  I trim it a bit with scissors to make a good fit.  I then cover the fashioned wedge with smooth scotch tape to help it not to stick to the patch material. I leave the end of the wedge open – not covered by the tape in order to leave a ‘sleeve’ opening to tighten the fit. I fit the wedge into the slot then slide other folded pieces of the index card through the end of the wedge which expands the wedge to hold it firm but also to form a mold for the formation of the slot. I also put a very thin coating of petroleum jelly on the wedge to help with the non-sticking.With the wedge firmly in place, I open a capsule of activated charcoal on an index card.  I then place a puddle of thick CA glue next to the charcoal and then draw charcoal into the CA glue gradually until the mixture thickens to the consistency of molasses.  I then apply the mixture to the button and build a mound over the cavity. The first application hardens on the index card before I had dolloped enough to area.  I wait a few minutes and mix another batch and finish building the mound over the button rebuild area.  With this completed, I set the stem aside for several hours for the CA glue and activated charcoal rebuild fully to cure.I look again to the stummel and decide that I will continue in the mixing and patching mode.  I mix a small amount of J-B Weld Kwik to rebuild and reinforce the chamber floor.  It will not take much J-B Weld to do this.  I put a pipe cleaner in through the airway to better show the landscape.Again, on an index card, I mix a small amount of the two components of the Weld, the ‘Steel’ and the ‘Hardener’.  The Weld does not set up immediately which is good.  It takes about 4 minutes before it begins to set.  As it’s setting, I will form a rounded chamber floor so that it’s not flat.  I begin by wiping the chamber floor with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean it.  I mix small equal amounts of the J-B Weld and then spoon up a portion of the Weld on the end of a dental spatula and carefully carry it to the floor of the chamber. I hold the dental spatula there allowing the Weld to slide off the spatula to fill the cavity. I then carefully remove the spatula to avoid getting the Weld on the chamber wall.  I repeat this again by bringing a spoon of Weld and allowing it to fill the cavity as it runs off the spatula. I take a picture of the Weld filling the cavity in the chamber floor and decide that I would let it set as it is which will result in a flat floor.  I will use a grinding ball on the Dremel later to round it out for a more natural bowl.  I set the stummel aside allowing the J-B Weld to cure fully.The stem button rebuild has set up and cured.  As hoped, the wedge easily is removed revealing the rough form of a slot to be shaped.Using a flat needle file, I file and shape by bringing the build overhang of the wedge flush with the button face.After filing so that the button face is flush, I’m able to see the basic form of the slot.  The left side of the slot is closed more than the right side as you can see in the picture above.  I use a rounded sharp needle file to file the tighter end.  I’m patient.  I file gently and methodically.I come to a place where the button slot looks balanced.  I can fine tune it later.Next, again using the flat needle file, I file the top of the button down to form the upper contours.  I have the advantage of having the original ends of the button on both sides that were not broken off.  These provide me with the angles of trajectory the upper button lip took.  I try to file down to be consistent with this to form the button.The button is looking good, but I’m concerned that I did not put enough CA glue/charcoal mixture at the side.  In the picture below you can see the unfiled repair material jutting on the right side.  I’m concerned that this may leave a gap when I start filing the inner edge of the button.  To be on the safe side, I apply a drop of Black CA glue on this gap to make sure that I have a uniform platform to file out and shape the button.  I put the stem aside to allow the patch to cure.When CA patch cures, I quickly file off the excess patch material and continue with the lateral filing to form the internal button edge.After completing the filing, I switch to sanding the newly formed button with 240 grade paper and continue to smooth.  I also sand the upper and lower bit to remove residual oxidation.While sanding the new button, an air pocket is uncovered which is visible on the lower side of the button.To fill this very small air pocket, I paint the button with regular CA glue.  I apply a small drop on a toothpick and spot drop it and this spread the CA over the area.I spray the CA glue patch with an accelerator which quickly cures the glue.  I then sand it with 240 grade paper.The stem is still rough from the 240 sanding and filing.  I switch to 600 grade paper and wet sand the entire stem and follow this with applying 000 grade steel wool.  Wow!  I am pleased with the button rebuild.  It looks great and blends well.   I put the stem aside for now.Again, focusing attention on the stummel and the chamber repair.  The J-B Weld is fully cured filling the cavity at the chamber floor. With gravity forming the orientation of the Weld, the floor is now flat.  For a more natural bowl curvature, I initially use a round grinding ball mounted on the Dremel.  Using the round ball, I grind out the flat surface of the J-B Weld.  As I rotate the ball moving it in circles, I check often with my thumb to measure the progress.When the floor feels good, I mount a small sanding drum on the Dremel and reach in to the lower chamber above the new floor where I had earlier detected a distinct ridge from overzealous reaming.  I use the sanding drum to smooth these out.  I do the same as with the grinding ball, I sand and then feel with my thumb.  Progress is made.After the sanding drum, I switch to sanding with 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen to help me reach and give me leverage.  I further smooth the lower chamber.  A ridge is still detected, but it is much less distinct.  I like the progress and the entire chamber looks and feels much better. The new floor is now at a more appropriate orientation to the draft hole that is seen in the picture below.With the internal chamber repair complete, I turn to the external surface.  The first thing I look at is the rim repair.  Joe wants the pipe in a pristine condition as much as possible.  Yet, he asked to preserve in some degree the rim knocking damage at the back of the rim as an ongoing remembrance of Paw. With this motif in view, the restored rim will provide a strong contrast of new and old, but not forgetting what the ‘old’ represents.  To begin the rim preservation and restoration, I take the chopping board and place 240 grade paper on it.  Keeping the forward rim surface in contact with the board, I top the forward part of the inverted bowl.The picture below first shows the beginning progression and then after further rotations, the second picture shows the full extent of topping with 240 grade paper.  I leave the area on the back side of the rim and it looks good.I then switch the paper on the board to 600 grade paper and turn the inverted stummel several more rotations to smooth out the 240 scratches.After the topping, I examine the rim edges.  The external rim edge still shows many cuts and nicks.  The internal edge is darkened. To freshen the rim edges and to address the residual blemishes I lightly run a rolled piece of 240 grade paper around the external and internal circumferences (minus Paw’s patch).  I follow the 240 grade with 600 grade.  This doesn’t introduce a bevel as much as clean the edges and soften the flat rim presentation.  I think it looks good.Next, I take another inventory of the stummel’s briar surface.  It has many nicks, scratches and some bruising on all sides of the stummel. I decide to clean the surface by utilizing sanding sponges.  Sanding sponges do a great job addressing the minor issues of normal wear and tear that accumulates on the briar surface.  The soft sponge texture also helps clean and freshen the nooks and corners.  To protect the already thin Kaywoodie “500” nomenclature and shape number, I cover them with masking tape to protect their integrity during the sanding phase.I first use a coarse sanding sponge followed by medium and light grade sponges.  The results are good, but I decided that whatever remains on the surface that is not removed through the sanding belong to Paw 😊.Next, I take the Kaywoodie to the sink to wet sand with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 grade pads.  I follow wet sanding by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000. I take a different angle picture with each set of 3 pads. For the last 6 pads I remove the protective masking tape which reveals the contrast of the finish as it was and as it is now. I will add a stain to the stummel which will mask the difference between the dark nomenclature residue of the former hue and the rest of the stummel.  To reduce this contrast, I try rubbing the darkened areas with a cotton pad wetted with acetone.  This works somewhat, but there’s still a contrast, but toned down some.The cotton pad in the picture above gives a good indication of the reddish hue of the original stain which is consistent with other examples that I’ve found on line of the “500” series.  Pipephil’s information on the Kaywoodie “500” provides a few pictured examples.  Here is one that shows the color used for this line of Kaywoodie pipes.  I’ll aim to match it.  My approach will be to first stain the stummel using a dark brown stain.  I’ll then apply an overcoat of Fiebing’s Oxblood over this.  I start with the dark brown first to darken the grain which is evident in the pictures below.I assemble my desktop staining station and fit the stummel with bent pipe cleaners through the mortise to serve as a handle.  I have Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye in a shot glass with another bent over pipe cleaner ready to serve as an applicator.  I wipe the stummel with a cotton cloth wetted with isopropyl 95% to clean it. I then warm the stummel with a hot air gun to heat the briar to expand the grain making it more receptive to the dye.  I then use the pipe cleaner to apply the Dark Brown dye to the stummel and as I paint different sections of the stummel, I flame the dye by igniting it with a lit candle.  As an aniline dye, the alcohol combusts, and it flames out leaving the dye pigment set in the grain.  After I apply the dye thoroughly, I set it aside for a few hours to rest before the next step of the process. After a few hours, I mount the Dremel with a felt cloth buffing wheel, speed set at the lowest possible to avoid too much heat.  I then apply Tripoli compound to the stummel to remove the fired shell on the stummel.  It takes some time to methodically move through the process of ‘plowing’ the crust then following with Tripoli. With my wife’s assistance, a picture of this is shown. When completed, I change the felt buffing wheel to a cotton cloth buffing wheel and again apply Tripoli compound to the entire stummel.  This time it is much faster and the felt wheel allows me to reach into the elbow of the shank and bowl which was not possible with the harder felt wheel.  After I complete the cotton cloth wheel cycle of Tripoli, I then buff the stummel with a felt cloth to remove the compound dust.The first phase results in the darkened grains.  The grain is beautiful – the next pictures show the side of the bowl with beautifully swirled bird’s eye.The first phase results in the darkened grains.  The grain is beautiful – the next pictures show the side of the bowl with beautifully swirled bird’s eye.I repeat the same process for the next phase of applying Fiebing’s Oxblood Leather Dye over the dark brown stained stummel – warming the stummel, applying and flaming the aniline Oxblood dye. I put the newly stained stummel aside to rest overnight.Before I rest, I turn again to the Kaywoodie saddle stem waiting in the wings.  I apply the entire regimen of 9 micromesh pads beginning with wet sanding using pads 1500 to 2400 followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of three pads I apply a coat of Obsidian Oil to enrich the vulcanite.  This stem has come a long way and is looking great. Next, after a few days of a business-related trip, I return to Sofia and to the stummel that had been dyed first with a dark brown undercoat then with an Oxblood overcoat.  I remove the Fiebing’s Oxblood Leather Dye fire crusted shell using a cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel applying Tripoli compound.  When completed, I use a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to lightly wipe the stummel to blend the dyed surface.  I then change to another cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel, remaining at 40% of full power and apply Blue Diamond to both stummel and stem.  Following this, I wipe the surface of the stummel and stem with a felt rag to remove the compound dust.Before moving to applying carnauba wax, I reunite the stem and stummel and address a few smaller projects.  First, I noted before that the stem was overclocked by a few degrees.  This happens through time.  To realign the stem to the correct orientation, I heat the metal stinger until the heat loosens the grip of the metal stinger and while it is hot, I rejoin the stem and turn it clockwise.  When it tightens it puts the necessary torque on the heated stinger which loosens it and allows me to continue the clockwise turn.  I turn it a full 360 degrees bringing it back around into proper orientation. This works well.  I move on.Next, I do a quick job of polishing the metal shank facing using a piece of 000 steel wool.  It did a great job.On last project before applying the wax.  I rebuilt the chamber floor using J-B Weld. Now I apply a mixture of natural yogurt and activated charcoal to form a thickened mixture to apply to the chamber floor and wall to create a cake starter.  After inserting a pipe cleaner in the airway to block the mixture, I then put a small about of Bulgarian natural yogurt in a dish and add activated charcoal and mix it.  I continue to add charcoal and mix until it thickens and will not run. I then apply it to the chamber floor and wall using a dental spatula to apply and spread.  It works well and I put the stummel aside for a time for the coating to cure. In the home stretch, I mount another cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel, maintaining the same speed, and apply carnauba wax to the stem and stummel.  After applying a few coats, I then give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth.  This raises the shine even more.

It was a privilege to restore Paw’s old Kaywoodie “500” Long Stem Billiard.  I’m pleased with the stem button rebuild and catching the thinning chamber floor.  I think the final stained hue captures well the historic Kaywoodie “500” theme that ranges from 1957 to 1967 – truly a vintage pipe.  Best of all are the remnants of Paw’s stewardship of the Kaywoodie.  Leaving the rim with latent evidences of Paw’s thumping and lighting, as he went through his own unique ritual with his Kaywoodie in hand, reflecting on life and family with his favorite blend stoked and ready to go.  Joe’s desire to safeguard this heritage and restore this pipe for his father-in-law, benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks, Joe!  And thanks for joining me (ThePipeSteward)!


Rejuvenating the Amazing Grain of an EWA Trophee of St. Claude, France 909

Blog by Dal Stanton

Next on my worktable is another pipe I acquired from a ‘Lot of Treasures’ I found on French eBay.  This French Lot of 50 has rendered some real keepers with historic interest and collectability.  The EWA Trophee I’m now looking at is a classic Bent Billiard with a flare – the acrylic stem, banding and picturesque briar holds out great potential, but it come with some challenges as well.  Pipe man, Scott, commissioned the EWA – a friend on FB and regular contributor on different Face Book Groups, and a former US Navy man who I appreciate very much.  Scott reached out to me on FB Messenger and had been looking at the pipes available for commission in my For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection and there were 5 pipes he was dreaming about that he had seen, but settled on one, the EWA Trophee.  I appreciate Scott’s patience in the speed of my pipe restoration production line!  His patience is now paying off, and his commission benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – our work here in Bulgaria helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Here are the pictures that drew Scott’s attention. I can see why this pipe got Scott’s attention.  I have worked on several French named pipes, and this was the first with ‘EWA’ stamped on the left shank flank.  Underneath and at an angle is stamped ‘TROPHEE’.  The acrylic stem also is stamped with a distinct EWA.  The right side of the shank is stamped ‘BRUYERE’ [over] ‘ST. CLAUDE’ [over] ‘FILTRE’.  Tucked on the lower side of the shank is stamped the shape number, ‘909’.  Information about this nomenclature was readily available in the Pipedia article on EWA pipes and with this being my first look at the EWA name of St. Claude, I include more of this article.

From Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks, by José Manuel Lopes

EWA is a French brand of Pipe EWA-Ets. Waille SARL. Launched in the 1970s by Michel Waille, the brand began in the Waille factory founded in 1860 by Horace Waille., and has been passed down from generation to generation ever since. He was succeeded by his son, René (1902-1932), his grandson Adré — who obtained the rank of ‘CAP de Pipier’ in 1926 and was in the company from 1920 to 1974 — and his great grandson, Michel Waille.

Michel, ‘Meilleur Ourrier de France’ but retired today, is currently President of the Pipe Club de Saint-Claude. He joined his father in 1968 and was at the head of the firm until 2002, when the brand was sold, first to Mr. Gigandet, and later to Denis Blanc, of Ad Hoc Pipe. [link is dead]

The company specialises in the production of horn, acrylic and cumberland stems, and today is the only maker in Saint-Claude producing horn and Lucite stems. It also makes the Terminus system pipes, employs half a dozen people and export 25% of its production. From site Ad Hoc Pipe [link is dead]

Horace Waille, the great-grandfather was a pioneer in the history of Pipe story of Saint Claude and created in 1860 a pipe workshop.  Rene Waille, his son, has continued the activity from 1902 to 1932 and was specialized in the initial shaping.

Andre Waille, son of Rene, obtained a “CAP de pipier” (Pipe maker degree) in 1926 and has pursued the activity of the familial company from 1932 to 1974. He is the only pipe maker, who obtained a Pipe maker degree. In 1968 Michel, son of Rene, actual Manager of EWA pipe joint the familial company and transform in 1974 the company in SARL PIPE EWA.

The information I gain from Pipedia that is useful – the Waille name is long-standing in France’s pipe center of Saint Claude.  I’m especially interested in the information that the company has historically specialized in the production and use of horn, acrylic and Cumberland stems which is relevant for the pipe on the worktable.  Pipephil.eu was my next stop and information there clarified the age of this EWA Trophee and the meaning of EWA.  The name was changed in 1979 from simply Waille to EWA from “Etablissement WAille” (English: Establishment).  So, the acrylic stemmed Billiard on my table dates at the earliest starting at 1979 with the genesis of the EWA stamp.With a better appreciation of the heritage and age of this EWA Trophee of St. Claude, I look more closely at the pipe itself.  The grain and classy acrylic stem and banding/shank ring shows promise, but there are also some issues and challenges in bringing this pipe back to a more presentable state.  I take several more pictures to catalogue the issues I see.  The fittings of the pipe have come apart.  As I disengage the stem and stummel, the 8mm filter sleeve is unattached to the stem and needs to be reattached.  The shank ring is also loose. The pipe has been heavily smoked and loved and the cake in the chamber is substantial.  By lightening the picture, you can see how the cake expands as it descends into the chamber.  There is no way to assess the health of the chamber wall until this cake is removed to allow the briar a fresh start and to inspect the wall for heat fissures or cracks.The rim corresponds to the lack of maintenance and cleaning of the chamber.  Thick lava has flowed over the rim and must be removed and cleaned to liberate the briar rim presentation.I like the grain on the stummel – very expressive.  What I don’t care for is the thick shellac finish that was used on this stummel – my classic ‘candy apple’ finish.  I love shine, but briar shine not chemical shine!  I will need to strip this stummel down to the raw briar to allow the grain I see to breathe again.There is a deep gouge on the left side of the shank that creeps toward the shank end where there is another dent next to the edge. The heel of the stummel has seen better days!  There are a few good-sized dents and divots that must be addressed.Probably the most fun will be cleaning the acrylic stem.  The external acrylic surface will not be difficult, but the discolored airway is another thing altogether coupled with the issue of not being able to use the normal cleaning attack with the use of alcohol.On close examination, my concern grows for the cleaning of the airway as I can see microscopic veins splaying from the airway – mainly at the bend of the stem. This next picture is looking into the mouth of the stem that the 8mm filter sleeve has vacated.  This needs to be cleaned thoroughly making way to reattach the filter and afterwards, the ring.We have work to do!  To begin the restoration of Scott’s choice of this EWA Trophee Bent Billiard of St. Claude, I start with the cleaning of the stummel by reaming the chamber which is nearly closed by the growth of the cake.  I take another picture to mark the start and then, starting with the smallest of the blade heads of the Pipnet Reaming Kit, I begin the cleaning process.  To help in the cleanup I first put down paper towel. The cake is hard and stubborn and takes some time and effort for the smallest blade to penetrate to the floor of the chamber.  I take a picture about three quarters of the way down the chamber. I use 3 of the 4 blades available and then switch to using the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to scrape chamber walls.  Finally, I sand the chamber with 240 grit paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  To clean the chamber of the carbon dust, I wipe it thoroughly with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  The picture below shows the huge pile of carbon that was removed from the chamber. After inspection, the chamber appears to be in good shape.  What I notice after the reaming is complete is the rim width imbalance that is now evident after the cake was removed.  The left side of the rim (bottom in the picture) is thinning where fire was drawn over the rim during the lighting. Next, to clean the exterior surface of the stummel, I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap on a cotton pad to scrub.  I also use a brass wire brush to work on the lava crusted on the rim as well as gently scraping it with a knife edge.  The cleaning helps, but the rim remains darkened from the lava and the ‘candy apple’ finish is still very much in place. To complete the stummel cleaning regimen, I use pipe cleaners and cotton buds wetted with isopropyl 95% to clean the internals. After many pipe cleaners and cotton buds, and scraping the mortise walls with a dental spatula, the color of the buds started coming out less soiled.  I decide to stop at this point – the internals were clean enough at this point.In order to strip the ‘candy apple’ finish I put the stummel in a soak of acetone. This should strip the stummel of all the old finish.  I leave it in the soak overnight. Turning to the acrylic stem, before I started on the restoration and as I was thinking about my approach, something in the recesses of my memory was ringing a warning concerning the approach to cleaning the clear, acrylic stem, but I wasn’t sure what it was. I decided to send Steve an email with the stem’s picture and my questions.  With his vast rebornpipes experience, as always, his response was helpful to help chart a course:

Hey Dal

The clear stems like that (if on a GBD are Perspex and early acrylic) are not resistant to alcohol. They can shatter or at least craze. I will often use lemon juice to start with and also liquid cleanser or soft scrub with bristle pipe cleaners or shank brushes. Sometimes you can use a needle file to work the insides. The airways are often rough inside so they need to be smoothed out. It is pretty labour intensive to clean out the stains as originally the airways were clear…


In a subsequent note he also added this:

Ok… the GBD brand was originally a ST Claude Brand. Perspex is an early acrylic. It was on GBD Prehistoric pipes… Lucite is another brand name for acrylic… both are acrylic.

I have soaked the stems and it does help some, but I have also put the cleanser on a pipe cleaner and let it soak as well. I have even used comet cleanser… big thing is no alcohol if at all possible. Too risky.

I have read of guys chucking a pipe cleaner in their drill like a drill bit and spinning it in the stem but have not tried that myself…  Anyway..,



To begin the ‘enjoyment’ in tackling what proves to be a very stubborn project, I take a picture to mark the starting block.Using a sharp dental spoon, I work on digging gunk out of the slot cavity and scraping the hard stain buildup there.In Bulgaria we do not have ‘Soft Scrub’ but we have a product in the same genre called CIF that I next use to begin addressing the rough stains in the bent stem airway.  I use a bristled pipe cleaner and dip it in the cleanser and go to work.  With the pipe cleaner serving as a back drop I can see that microscopic veins are already evident in the airway lining. This is the ‘crazing’ effect that Steve mentioned in his note.  Removing stain from these will be an effort.  The veins are concentrated at the bend of the stem.To up the ante a bit, I decide to try the technique that Steve described that others had tried – to chock a pipe cleaner in a hand drill and utilize the high-speed rotation to enhance the cleaning process of the acrylic airway.  In order to increase the diameter of the pipe cleaner ‘bit’ I twist and wrap an additional pipe cleaner that I had already used.  I then insert this into the chuck and tighten it down.  I use another bristled pipe cleaner as the ‘drill’ and dip it in CIF cleanser.  I then insert the end of the pipe cleaner into the shank side of the stem and start the drill rotation gradually as I slowly insert the pipe cleaner into the airway – I haven’t done this before so I’m watching to see what happens!  It works like a charm.  As I insert the pipe cleaner, I increase the speed of the rotation and there is no wobble at all.  With the drill speed rotation engaged, I then push and draw the stem back and forth to create more cleaning movement.  I do this also with a soft pipe cleaner and cleanser.  The pictures show the pipe cleaner drilling.Well, I hoped for perfect results, but as feared, the stains in the veins remain visible and these are concentrated at the outer bend of the stem.  Because of this, it is evident that these veins have been here a while.  The rest of the airway is looking good.Next, from Steve’s suggested assault options, I squeeze lemon juice into a dish.  I will use the natural acids of the lemon to work on the airway.  I use the pipe cleaner too, but since the night is late, I settle at this point to put the stem into the lemon juice to soak through the night.  With the stummel soaking in the acetone and the stem in the lemon juice, I turn off the lights and end another day. The next morning, I use a pipe cleaner on the stem again.  The lemon soak through the night did seem to work, but the veins and the discoloration in the veins remain.  A reminder that we live in a fallen world where perfect pipes and restorations do not exist.  I accept this and decide to move on, but I decide to leave a pipe cleaner wet with CIF cleanser in the airway to continue to work on the stains while I turn to the stummel.The stummel has been soaking in acetone through the night to remove the ‘candy apple’ finish.  I fish it out of the acetone and the first appearance is that it still has the sheen showing that old finish was still present.  The finish has been greatly softened through the soak and with the gentle help of 0 grade steel wool I remove the finish without difficulty.  With the old thick finish removed, I examine the shank and the heel areas again where I saw significant dents and pits and discover that these are not as pervasive as they appeared before.  Most of the visible damage was to the thick finish and not to the briar.  Well, that’s one argument in favor of thick finishes!  The second picture below of the close-up of the grain – the bird’s eye grain is fantastic! Looking at the rim, it is thinner on the left side (bottom in the picture) and that edge is deteriorated.  The entire rim presentation needs freshening and to try to improve the width balance some. To address this, I take out the chopping board and put 240 grade sanding paper on it.  I give the stummel a minimal topping to give the rim a fresh start.After taking as much briar off the rim as will be helpful, I switch the board to 600 grade paper and rotate the stummel a few more times to smooth and blend.After the topping, the thinning on the left side of the stummel (bottom in picture above) remains thinner and more topping will not improve this because the stummel width descending in the chamber is thinned because of burning and lighting on that side.  To top until the rim width starts evening out would require too much briar real estate.  The way to mitigate against this, but not fully remove it, is to create an internal rim lip bevel.  On the ‘fatter’ side of the rim I increase the amount of bevel somewhat to help even out the round of the chamber.  I use a coarse 120 grade paper to begin, then follow with 240 and 600 grade papers.  The results I believe have improved the rounding, but again as with the stem airway, perfection is not achieved but it is looking very good none the less! Again, looking at the dent on the stummel heel and on the shank, just below the Trophee stamping, I examine the dents and how to repair them.  I go out on our 10th floor balcony, which is my ‘Man Cave’, and use the steaming method to raise the dent that’s on the heel of the stummel.  I wet a cotton cloth with water, and using my wife’s iron, I apply heat to the wet cloth.  When I do this, the moisture in the cloth evaporates and creates steam which is forced into the area of the briar compression.  The porous composition of wood expands with the forced heat and moisture and the result is the dent hopefully shrinks as the wood reclaims its original state.I apply the hot iron to the wet cloth over the dent.The results are excellent.  If I look hard at the place, I can still see an imprint but there is no longer a compression of the wood.I do the same to the small compression on the edge of the shank and the results are equally as good. To clean the entire stummel of the minor nicks and scratches, I utilize the less invasive approach of sanding sponges.  I use a coarse grade, then follow with a medium and light grade sponges.  I like using sponges because they can find the hard to get places as sponges, but they help remove the small nicks and pits in the briar surface.  The grain on this stummel is amazing – the dark grains appear almost cloudy as they cluster. Next, I take out the micromesh pads and wet sand utilizing pads 1500 to 2400. After finishing the wet sanding, I notice a fill on the underside of the shank next to the shape number that doesn’t look solid. Using a sharp dental probe, I test it and it doesn’t take much to remove it.  Before continuing with the micromesh process, I need to refill the pit left behind.I wipe the area with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol and mix a small amount of thick CA glue and briar dust.  I place a small amount of briar dust on an index card then drop some CA glue next to it.  Using a toothpick, I gradually pull briar dust into the CA glue until it thickens to the consistency of molasses. I then apply a small amount of the putty over the patch area, careful not to go over the shape number.  I put the stummel aside for the putty to cure.Several hours later, the patch has cured, and I begin the process of filing the patch down with a flat needle file.I’m careful to remain on the patch as I file avoiding collateral damage with nearby briar.After bringing the patch mound down almost to flush with the briar surface, I switch to using the sharp edge of a piece of 240 grade sanding paper to bring the patch down to the briar surface.  Again, keeping the sanding process tightly confined to the patch area.When the patch is smooth to touch, I then switch to 600 grade paper to smooth the patch and blend further.When the 600 grade has finished its work, I catch up the patch area in the micromesh process utilizing pads 1500 to 2400.With the patch completed, I continue by dry sanding using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  I love the thick grain on this stummel!There is no question in my mind about whether this grain can stand on its own!  At this point I apply Before & After Restoration Balm to the briar surface.  The B&A Restoration Balm does a great job simply deepening the richness of the natural briar.  I apply some to my fingers and rub it into the briar surface.  As I rub it in, it thickens to a wax-like consistency.  After I apply it thoroughly, I let it stand and absorb for about 20 minutes then I wipe off the excess and buff up the surface with a microfiber cloth.  I’m loving the grain!With the stummel on the side, I now turn to the clear Lucite stem. I begin by washing the stem with dish soap and warm water.  Looking closely at the bit area, the top lip of the button is compressed.  I take a picture of it but it’s not easy to see!  There is also roughness from tooth chatter.The lower bit has a tooth compression as well as tooth chatter.I apply clear CA glue to the lower tooth compression and spray the CA glue with an accelerator to hold the glue in place and to quicken the curing process.To deal with the compression on the top button lip, I simply sand it out using 240 grad paper.  I smooth out the tooth chatter as well.I then use 240 grade paper to sand and smooth the patch on the lower side as well as to remove the tooth chatter and roughness of the bit and button.  I follow the 240 sanding by wet sanding the entire stem with 600 grade paper to take out the small nicks and scratches.Following the 600 grade paper, I sand/buff the entire stem with 0000 steel wool.Following the steel would I wet sand the stem using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 and then dry sand with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  After each set of three pads I apply a coat of Obsidian Oil to the stem. The stem is ready to go.  I take the nickel shank ring and clean it with Tarn-X.  It does a great job shining up. Now it’s time to reattach the 8mm filter sleeve.  I want to make sure its straight and seats accurately in the mortise.  I first slip the ring over the sleeve without attaching it with CA glue.  I want to simply use it as a spacer for the first step of reattaching the sleeve.  With the ring over the sleeve, I apply CA glue around the end of the sleeve that is inserted into the stem cavity. After I insert the sleeve into the cavity, before the CA glue sets up, I quickly seat the filter sleeve into the mortise with the ring compressed between the shank and stem.  I hold the stem firmly in place with proper orientation until the CA glue sets.With the sleeve properly seated, I then apply a few drops to the stem side of the ring and then reattach it, again seating the stem into the mortise.  It looks good – no gaps and a straight snug fit.To spruce up the EWA stem stamping, I apply Rub ‘n Buff European Gold.  I apply a little over the stamping and simply wipe it lightly off with a cotton pad.  The stamp is a little thin, but the Rub ‘n Buff holds well, and it looks good.Now the home stretch.  I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel set at about 40% of full speed and apply Blue Diamond compound to the stem and stummel. I then separate the stem and change to another cotton cloth wheel dedicated to applying Blue Diamond to nickel and I buff up more shine on the shank ring.  After reuniting the stem and stummel again, I then wipe the pipe with a felt cloth to clean off the compound dust in preparation of the application of the wax.  I then change to another cotton cloth wheel with the same speed and apply a few coats of carnauba wax to stem and stummel and then finish with a rigorous hand buffing to raise the shine.

The unique grain cluster constellation that I see in the EWA Trophee is amazing.  The heel grain pattern shows color, swirls and vortexes that remind me of pictures of the planet Jupiter.  It is truly amazing and mesmerizing to look at.  The Lucite stem came out well – it is classy with the complimentary gold and black band ring providing a nice transition.  My only wish is that I could have purged the stem airway totally of the discoloration in the crazed veins that will remain as a reminder of this pipes battle scars from its past!  Even so, the EWA Trophee of St. Claude, is a beautiful Bent Billiard and Scott did well in seeing the potential of this pipe when he commissioned it.  As the commissioner, he has the first opportunity to acquire it in ThePipeSteward Store.  This pipe benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thank you for joining me!

Restoring a Native American Hand Carved from Italy – the ‘Chief of Pipes’

Blog by Dal Stanton

One of the great things about restoring pipes and making them available to pipe men and women world-wide is that I have met very interesting people as they commission pipes and I correspond with them.  Toby is a returning customer from Germany.  He previously commissioned two Churchwarden creation projects where he intended one as a gift for his friend and the other was for himself.  I had fun with the write up, “A Tale of Three Churchwardens”, where I spun a story weaving in folklore, J.R. R. Tolkien and of course, a bit of Middle Earth and Gandalf.  Two of the three Churchwardens went to Toby and after he gifted his friend with his Churchwarden, Toby sent me a selfie of him and his friend blowing inspired smoke rings, each nursing a bowl in their Churchwardens together!  I’ve learned that Toby is a great guy and loves to gift people with special gifts!  That was not the last I heard from Toby.  He desired to find another gift.  Here is his note:

Hey Dal!
Having been so happy with your work I would like to commission the bearded sailor pipe for my future brother-in-law from New Zealand and I think it will be a nice fit. He is getting married in July of next year, do you think that would be possible?

Unfortunately, the pipe he saw in the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection had just been commissioned and I hadn’t had time to mark it as such on the website.  Toby had a good eye for an interesting pipe, which I just restored and published not long ago, A Carved Bearded Sailor – Ole Crusty – also intended as a gift! I’m glad that Toby continued to look for an alternative that would meet his desires to be a special wedding gift for his brother-in-law.  Another email came and Toby had chosen the Indian Chief as an alternative and called it the “Chief of Pipes”!  This worked for me and ‘Chief’ went into the queue with a tag reminder of the wedding coming in July.  Here are pictures of ‘Chief’ acquired from the original eBay seller now on my worktable: The pipe was advertised as having never been smoked and this was an accurate assessment.  The interesting thing about this carved Native American Chieftain pipe is that it was crafted in Italy.  I take a picture of the nomenclature located on the left side of the squat shank and the lettering is juxtaposed to wrap around the shank.  The stamping is ‘HAND CARVED’ [over] ‘IMPORTED BRIAR’ [over] ‘ITALY’.  There are no other identifying marks on the pipe that I can see.  As is the case here in Bulgaria, the native North American (in both Canada and the United States) population first called ‘Indians’ from mistaken European explorers, are seen somewhat as an exotic people.  Certainly, Hollywood’s depictions of the ‘Cowboys & Indians’ movie genre has contributed to this.  Yet, somewhere in Italy, a pipe maker and a carver (or it could be one person!) decided to craft a unique pipe with the full native American headdress which were always full of  great symbolism and meaning for those who wore them in different tribes.

I was fascinated by the information I found in this article from Wikipedia about the War Bonnet:

Muscogee war bonnet Wolfgang Sauber – Own work

War bonnets (also called warbonnets or headdresses) are feathered headgear traditionally worn by male leaders of the American Plains Indians Nations who have earned a place of great respect in their tribe. Originally they were sometimes worn into battle, but they are now primarily used for ceremonial occasions. In the Native American and First Nations communities that traditionally have these items of regalia, they are seen as items of great spiritual and political importance, only to be worn by those who have earned the right and honour through formal recognition by their people.[1][2]

The article goes on to describe the ceremonial importance of feathers:

Many Native American tribes consider the presentation of an eagle feather to be one of the highest marks of respect. An honored person must have earned their feather through selfless acts of courage and honour, or been gifted them in gratitude for their work or service to their community or Nation. Traditional deeds that bring honour can include acts of valor in battle (including contemporary military service), but also political and diplomatic gains, or acts that helped their community survive and prosper. The esteem attached to eagle feathers is traditionally so high that in many cases, such as a warrior (e.g. Dog Soldiers of the Cheyenne), only two or three honour feathers might be awarded in a person’s whole lifetime. Historically, the warrior who was the first to touch an enemy in battle and escape unscathed received an eagle feather. When enough feathers were collected, they might be incorporated into a headdress or some other form of worn regalia. Historically, headdresses were usually reserved exclusively for the tribe’s chosen political and spiritual leaders.

I believe the carving does justice to the importance of the headdress or war bonnet as it forms a spiraling movement of feathers encasing the proud image of a warrior.  What’s interesting is that this spiraling movement of feathers forms the image of a larger, dominant feather.  I take a picture to show the feather I’m seeing in the carved war bonnet.  This is very cool!My challenge, as with Old Crusty, the Bearded Sailor, is to guard the rustic roughness of the carved image but to clean it up so it becomes more expressive.  The stem is in good shape except for some minor tooth chatter and oxidation. Even though the pipe is unsmoked, the condition of the finish shows some wear and tear.  The chamber is totally pristine.  The top side or top of the headdress, encompasses the chamber and slopes toward the squat shank.  This area appears to be in good shape with only small nicks.  A beautiful showcase for the grain with this much smooth briar exposed.However, it is apparent that the top, right of the headdress, as I look at the image from the front, has sustained some damage. It appears that Chief took a head dive some time ago.  The top edges of the feathers have chipped.  I take another picture on the opposite side that has not sustained this damage to show the comparison of the healthy bridge across the top.  The question is, is this damage too minuscule to bother with and is there enough wood for a patch to cling to if I were to attempt a repair?  The damage is noticeable. Looking straight on at the image, expected nicks are evident amid the intended roughness of the carving.  The crevasses, especially to the left and right of the face, are full of dirt and grime.The large heel of the pipe which enables it to serve as a sitter, reveals 2 daunting fills that will need attention on the far left and right of the picture.  Though, like the top plateau headdress, the heel provides a large plat of briar landscape that will show off the grain.I think that ‘Chief’ serves as a great nickname for this Native North American Hand Carved of Italy. It is evident from his serious expression he is a proud man!  I begin his clean up and restoration for Toby’s future brothers-in-law’s wedding gift, by removing the stem from the stummel to clean it.  I discover that the tenon is mounted with a small, useless stinger which I promptly remove and put it in my growing stinger collection.  After running a pipe cleaner wetted from isopropyl 95% through the stem to clean the airway, I add the stem to a bath of Before & After Deoxidizer along with other pipes and stems in the queue. After several hours in the B&A Deoxidizer soak, I remove Chief’s stem and run another pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95% through airway to clear and clean the Deoxidizer from the airway.  I then wipe the stem with cotton pads wetted with isopropyl 95% to remove the raised oxidation. The oxidation is thick but came off very nicely.The B&A Deoxidizer did a great job and I follow by applying paraffin oil, a mineral oil I can get here in Bulgaria, to the stem which aids the rejuvenation of the vulcanite, rubber compound.  I then set the stem aside to dry and absorb the oil.With nothing in the chamber to clean, I move directly to cleaning the external briar surface using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and cotton pads.  To clean deeply in the crevasses of the carving I also use a bristled tooth brush and a sharp dental probe to run down the length of the crevasses. The finish on the stummel is very thin and the scrubbing with Murphy’s almost totally removed the finish except for small patches here and there.  The following pictures show the cleaned stummel. As I suspected, the fills made simply of wood glue, has softened after the cleaning process and the fills have also shrunk so that the hole ridges are easily detected.  Without much thought, I use a sharp dental probe to dig out the old material. To remove the patches of left-over finish and to clean the heel where I removed the fill material, I use a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to wipe the surface. This does a good job.A moment of decision has arrived concerning repairs on the stummel surface.  There is no question regarding the holes left on the heel of the pipe.  These will be filled.  The question is how perfectionistic will I be about the feather tips on the upper right of the war bonnet?  I’ve been thinking about how I would approach the fine patching of a carving.  Filling a hole is one thing, recasting an image is quite another!  Without question, if I use briar dust putty made with mixing briar dust and CA glue, the result will be darker for both the heel fills and the feather repair – darker than the raw briar currently shows.  This possibly would mean utilizing a dye later in order to mask and blend the patching but it’s also possible that the natural briar will darken as it sanded, treated and polished and this can possibly mask the repairs enough.  Another question that I mentioned earlier was whether there was enough wood for the patch material to ‘grab’ in order to be a solid repair?Well, as I look at the mangled war bonnet and wondering if I could live with it, an idea started to formulate in my mind, and then started to take shape with my hands.  I snipped the ends of some toothpicks to create crevasse wedges that would form the boundaries around which I could apply patch material.I circled the war bonnet with masking tape that would hold the toothpick wedges in place.  I expect the tape to flex some, but the goal is to hold the wedges in place so that briar putty will not seep into the crevasses.Next, I gently insert the wedges into the crevasses and are held in place by the resistance provided by the tape.I reinforce the masking tape to keep things where then need to be!I decide to start with the heel fills and to employ an accelerator so that the patch would cure quickly, enabling me to flip the stummel and apply patch to the feather repairs. I mix briar dust with a thick CA glue until it reaches the consistency of molasses – that’s my subjective standard – not too thin so that it runs and not so thick that the CA glue hardens too quickly.  I apply the briar dust putty to the holes and then spray with an accelerator.  The putty hardens very quickly. I then flip the stummel and apply briar putty on top of the feathers in need of repair.  I make sure there is excess so that I can file and sand down to form a new flat bride across the top.  I apply the putty carefully but quickly and spray it also with an accelerator so that the putty remains in place and not seep down the crevasses.  I expect some seepage but I’m hoping to ward off a lot because that would not be fun sanding it out! After a time, I unwrap the tape and one toothpick wedge came out with the tape – didn’t put any putty on it at all!  Oh well.  I look at the area and I think it will easily sand.  The three wedges remain with the cured putty holding them in.  I’m hopeful – the plan seems to be working!Using a flat needle file and a triangular needle file that fits very nicely in the crevasses, I begin the slow process of filing over and around the toothpick wedges.  I don’t try pulling the wedges out because I’ll simply file around them until they are loosened from the grip of the putty.  I don’t pull them out risking pulling the patch material off!  The wedge on the right comes out next. As I continue to carefully file, there is now only one wedge remaining.I’m liking how the putty is strong and sturdy as I file on the top as well as in the crevasses vacated by the wedges.  The repair zone still looks pretty rough.I come to the point where I’ve filed the briar putty patch down to almost the briar surface but not quite. I use the triangular file to create a pointed notch at the top of the crevasse.  It looks good!  Time to switch to 240 grade sanding paper to fine tune the sanding.I finish sanding and shaping with 240 grade paper.  Wow! I’m very pleased with the initial results of this reconstruction project on the feathers of the war bonnet.  I will continue to fine tune the results as I go.  I wanted to restore a straight bridge across the top of the feathers to match the healthy feathers. Turning now to the heel repairs, I use a flat needle file on both patch mounds.  I file the mound down until close to the briar surface then I switch to 240 grade sanding paper to bring the patches flush with the briar surface. As sometimes is the case, the fill located to the front of the stummel has a pocket in the briar dust putty patch.  A pocket of air was trapped, and sanding revealed it.I clean out the patch pit and wipe it with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean it.  I then apply clear CA glue to the pit and then spray it with an accelerator to quicken the curing process.Again, I file the patch with the flat needle file and sand with 240 grade paper and the patch is patched!Looking at the stummel, I still see what look like patches where the old finish is still hanging on.  Old finish is evident because it will look a bit shiny compared to the raw briar around it. The reason it is important to dispatch old finish in this case is that will affect the final look if old finish is still in play whether I leave it as natural briar or apply another dye.  In order to continue with a clean briar canvas, I wipe the stummel with acetone using a cotton pad.  This does the trick nicely. The shiny spots are gone. I move on. Next, I see in each of the crevasses of the carving, dark grime and surface discoloration probably from old finish collected in the gaps. Patience is the key here!  First, using a piece of 240 grade sanding paper, I fold into a knife edge and run the paper through every crevasse.  I clean the gaps as well as sand out rough edges and snags as much as I can.After finishing going through all the crevasses with the 240 grade paper, I do the same thing with 600 grade paper. The carving is still maintaining that appropriate rustic roughness, but I like the results of the sanding with the additional cleaning and smoothing. I now use sanding sponges to sand the entire stummel using first a coarse grade sponge, then medium, and finishing with a light grade sponge.  With both the coarse and medium grade sponges, I can run the edge of the sponges through the crevasses.  This is nice to further smooth these rough edges. From the sanding sponges I go straightaway to sanding the stummel with the full micromesh pad regimen.  First, I wet sand using pads 1500 to 2400 then follow dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  I take a different angled picture after each set of the pads.  The grain in being teased out and I like that. The deep tone of the natural briar is what I was looking for from the micromesh process.  With a carved pipe like this, I would much rather stay with the natural briar if the briar presentation needs no masking to hide and blend repairs.  The heel fills look almost natural and the feather war bonnet repair is invisible.  For this reason, I stay with the beautiful natural briar that has emerged on Chief and apply Before & After Restoration Balm to enrich and deepen the natural hues of the briar.  I apply the Balm after squeezing some onto my fingers and then I meticulously work the Balm into the briar.  I take special care working it into the carving – each crevasse receives individual attention sometimes with the help of toothpick to push the Balm into the gaps. It takes a bit of time.  After applying the Balm, I wait about 15 minutes for the Balm to fully absorb then I wipe the excess off with a microfiber cloth.  Again, the process is meticulous as I clear, wipe and buff each detailed crevasse.  Chief is looking good!  I take a picture of the Balm absorbing period.Next, I return to the stem that has been waiting for attention.  Before starting the sanding the stem, I test the fit of the tenon/mortise union.  As I detected earlier, it is tight.  To provide a more comfortable fit, I wrap a piece of 240 grade paper around the tenon and while pressing it with my fingers and thumb, I give the paper a few rotations around the tenon and again test the fit.  Works like a charm!  The tenon seats well, with an appropriate snug fit.