Tag Archives: article by Dal Stanton

Revitalizing a Distinctive L J Peretti of Boston – Large Full Bent Egg


Blog by Dal Stanton

I’ve grown to like L J Peretti pipes and I guess you could say, that I’ve started collecting them.  Why?  My son gave me my first Peretti for Christmas which I restored by splicing the missing part of the stem by cannibalizing another:  A Christmas Gift in need of a stem splice – L J Peretti Squared Shank Billiard.  It turned out to be a great smoker and I like the stout squared shank.It was my research with this pipe that I discovered the mystique of the Boston-based, L. J. Peretti name and its place in Americana pipe history as the second oldest US Tobacconist started in 1870 (Quoted from Lopes in Pipedia).  The L J Peretti Co. continues to serve patrons today in their Boston shop on 2 ½ Park Square by being one of the few places where one can bring his/her pipe and be guided by experienced tobacconists and test several selections before deciding to purchase!  I was also attracted to the Peretti story because Boston is a cool city – my son lived there and I enjoyed my visits.The next Peretti I serendipitously received was from a colleague working in Ukraine – a square shanked Rhodesian.  He brought it to me when we met last winter in Oslo, Norway, to watch a world-class Biathlon event (skiing and shooting).  He wasn’t utilizing him anymore and asked me if I would.  Yes!  It’s a smaller pipe and good for a shorter smoke.  Suddenly, I had two Perettis of Boston!  Both, strong, squared shanks – I liked them.Then I drank the Peretti Kool Aid.  I bought my own Peretti – well, that’s not the whole truth.  I bought 10 pipes of Peretti in a lot for sale on eBay from a seller located in Everett, Massachusetts, just north of Boston.  I guess you could say that I’m now a Peretti collector!  Of the 10 pictured from the eBay seller below, I chose 4 to add to my personal collection – one of the Oom Paul’s (many to choose from!), the Calabash (top left), the Billiard EX (bottom), and the massive Full Bent Egg in the center of the picture. The remaining Peretti cousins will eventually be restored and put up for adoption in The Pipe Steward Store Front to benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria.  I’m pressing to restore and ready the Peretti Full Bent Egg for service because my wife and I will be returning to the US from Bulgaria for a few months and I was hoping to bring this new Peretti along!  Now on my worktable, on the 10th floor of a former Communist block apartment building, I take some pictures of the L J Peretti Full Bent Egg in the condition he arrived from Everett, Mass. The pipe is generally in good shape.  It shows normal wear and usage.  The briar surface is grimy.  The narrow, cylindrical bowl is laden with cake which needs removal.  The stem is heavily oxidized with tooth chatter and some compressions present.  This L J Peretti has enjoyed a lot of use showing that the former steward enjoyed his company.  The nomenclature is situated on the left-side of the shank and simply reads, ‘LJ PERETTI CO’ and is very worn.  I’ll be careful to preserve it.  There are no other markings that I can tell.  I take a magnifying glass to the left side of the full bent saddle stem to see if there might be a Peretti ‘P’ stamp hiding in the oxidation, but I see no sign.  I’m anxious to recommission this newest of my L J Perretti collection – an extra-large Full Bent Egg.  The first step is to put the full bent stem into the OxiClean bath to raise the serious oxidation on the stem.  I leave it in the bath overnight. Then, using the Pipnet Reaming Kit (minus blade #3 which broke during the last restoration), I attack the cake in the chamber.  I use only the smallest two blades, and the cake easily surrenders.  The carbon cake was crusty – like hard toast, and it comes out readily.  I finetune the reaming with the Savinelli Fitsall Reaming Knife which can reach down the long, deep chamber.  To clean the walls further and to reveal fresh briar for a new start, I wrap 240 grade paper around a Sharpie Pen and sand the chamber.  Finally, I wipe out the chamber with a cotton pad and alcohol – ridding the chamber of the carbon dust resulting from the reaming.  The chamber condition looks good.  The pictures show the progress. Next, I clean the external briar surface.  I do this using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a cotton pad.  I also employ the use of a brass wire brush to work on the tight rim of the Egg shape as well as my thumb nail to scrape the crusted briar and lava.  Grimy was an understatement.  The stummel was dirty and the rim came clean through the process, but revealed some burn damage to the slender, vulnerable rim.  I’ll need to top the rim gently to remove the scorched, ‘charcoaly’ wood.  The cleaning also reveals a beautiful piece of briar – inspecting the surface I find no fills.  The large Egg bowl shows a lot of grain movement – very nice!  My day is ending and I will let the internals of the stummel clean through the night using a kosher salt/alcohol soak.  I’ve never started with the soak before.  I’ve always worked first on the internals with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and isopropyl 95% and then followed with a soak.  I’ll do the soak and see how it does.  I fill the chamber with the kosher salt, that does not leave an aftertaste as does the iodized variety.  Then I fashion a cotton wick by stretching and twisting a cotton ball and then stuffing it down the mortise.  Its purpose is to draw the tars and oils out during the soak.  I then fill the chamber with alcohol using a large eye dropper until it surfaces over the salt.  I wait a few minutes and top off the alcohol once more.   Then I set the stummel in an egg cart and turn off the lights. Morning has arrived and I check out the progress with the salt/alcohol soak.  Both the kosher salt and the cotton wick have darkened indicating the nocturnal stealth activities of cleaning.  I remove the expended salt and wipe the chamber with a paper towel and run long-wired bristled brushes in the bowl and through the mortise to remove salt crystals.  I then use pipe cleaners and cotton swabs dipped in isopropyl 95% to clean up the leftover gunk from the soak.  There were additional oils and tars in the mortise – in the moisture trap underneath the airway drilling, but all clean up quickly and well.  I also scrape the mortise walls with dental probes and a pointed needle file to augment the cleaning.  Internals clean!It’s time to take the stem out of the OxiClean bath and clean it up.  The oxidation has surfaced well during the soak and using 600 grit sanding paper I wet sand the stem to remove the top layer of oxidation and tooth damage to the bit.  I follow with 0000 steel wool to reduce the oxidation further and buff up the vulcanite. I now take a closer look at the bit to see what tooth chatter remains.  Using 240 grit paper I sand the areas where tooth dents remain on the top and bottom bit.  There also remains a dent on the lower button lip. At this point I use the heat method to help minimize the dents that remain.  With a lighter, I pass the flame over the bit area and ‘paint’ the vulcanite surface.  I don’t want to ‘cook’ the vulcanite but warm it sufficiently to expand the rubber.  When this happens, the dents seek their original pre-dental positions.  This works very well and the dent on the lower button lip has all but disappeared.  I return to using 240 grit paper, followed by 600 then steel wool and the damaged bit areas look great.  This time around I will not need to use CA glue to repair the dents.With the stem in hand I turn to cleaning the internal airway.  Using only a few pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol and the stem is good to go!Looking now at the scorched rim, I need to remove the charred briar at the 1 to 2 o’clock position on the rim in the picture below.  The Egg shape bowl sets off the rim as the shape tightens as it moves toward the rim.  It creates a very tight look with the top.  The rim appears originally to have been crowned – a gently rounded rim.  I will aim toward restoring the crowned rim.  First, I top the rim very little – it’s not easy as the shank extends further than the plane of the rim so it will not sit on the topping board.  I must hang the shank over the topping board edge to allow the rim to sit flat.  I then gently rotate the stummel in a limited fashion.  I don’t take much off and then switch to 600 grit paper on the board and rotate the stummel more. Now, using 240 grit paper rolled, I sand the inside of the rim creating a beveling effect and removing the remaining damaged briar.  After beveling and cleaning the internal rim lip, I gently bevel the outer lip of the rim.  This is sharpening and restoring a rounding of the tight rim.  I follow using 600 grit paper which smooth the rim more and enhances the crowned effect I want.  The pictures show the results – I like the look of the rim – it enhances the Egg shape.Looking at this large block of briar, the Bird’s Eye grains are wonderfully portrayed in the first 2 pictures below – large landscapes of grain movement – I like that!  From my original Peretti research I emailed the L J Peretti Tobacconist Shop in Boston with a question about where their pipes were manufactured.   Tom was kind enough to respond, saying that over the years they had used many different sources, but most had been produced by Arlington Briars.  I found this about Arlington in Pipedia:

Arlington Briar Pipes Corporation was founded in 1919 in Brooklyn, New York, and produced the Arlington, Briarlee, Firethorn, Krona and Olde London brands among dozens of others, primarily acting as a subcontractor making pipes to be sold under other brand names. Among others, in the 1950’s, Arlington turned pipes for the famed Wilke Pipe Shop in New York City. The corporation was dissolved by the State of New York as inactive on December 6, 1978. 

Where ever this L J Peretti Full Bent Egg was birthed, the block of briar used was an excellent specimen and it is now showcased in this striking pipe.  I see no fills on this stummel, only minor nicks which is normal for any pipe’s experience.  I use a two grades of light sanding sponges to remove these small imperfections. I continue with the grain’s emergence using micromesh pads.  I begin by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400, followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000, then 6000 to 12000.  There is nothing quite like the natural briar shine that emerges during the micromesh process.  The pictures show the transformation. I will stain the bowl keeping it on the lighter side by using Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye and adding alcohol to it.  I use a 2 to 1 ratio of Light Brown to alcohol.  I first clean the stummel with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  I mix the ratio of dye/alcohol in a shot glass and insert a cork into the shank to serve as a handle.  I heat the stummel with a hot air gun to expand the briar better to receive the dye.  After warmed, I use a folded pipe cleaner to apply the dye to the bowl.  After fully covered with dye, I fire the aniline dye using a lit candle.  The alcohol burns off setting the pigment in the grain.  I wait a few minutes then repeat the process.  I then put the stummel aside to rest. With the stummel resting, I turn again to the stem and wet sand it using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000, then 6000 to 12000.  After each cycle, I apply Obsidian Oil to restore vitality to the vulcanite.  The full bent saddle stem was a chore to hang on to and sand with the tight angles, but the stem looks good and has that new vulcanite pop! It is finally time to unwrap the stained and fired stummel to see what we have underneath!  I enjoy this part of the restoration process primarily to see the grain emerge – this large Egg shaped stummel holds great promise.  I mount a felt buffing wheel onto the Dremel and set the speed at the lowest which is 20% of its power.  I apply the more abrasive Tripoli compound to the stummel to do the unwrapping of the crusted shell.  To reach into the crook between the shank and stummel, I switch to an angled felt buffing wheel to remove the wrapper from the hard to reach place. To lighten the stain and to blend the dye, using a cotton pad wetted with alcohol, I wipe the stummel.  This is an advantage of using aniline dyes for staining.  The alcohol wipe clouds the finish but this is normal.  I follow now by mounting a cotton cloth buffing wheel onto the Dremel and set at 40% speed, I apply the less abrasive Blue Diamond compound to buff-sand the stummel, as well as the full bent saddle stem which I remount. After completing the application of Blue Diamond compound on stem and stummel, to remove compound dust before waxing, I buff the pipe with a felt cloth.  Then, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel and maintain the speed at 40% and apply several coats of carnauba wax to the Egg shape stummel and full bent saddle stem.  The wax protects the surfaces but it also causes the shine and natural gloss of the briar to shine – I don’t know how to describe the natural beauty of briar when it shines through – and this L J Peretti is making a statement!  After completing the application of carnauba wax I give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing and I’m enjoying the view.This L J Peretti Full Bent Egg is a beautiful example of briar grain coming and going.  The size and the feel of the large Egg stummel in my hand fits like a glove.  The tight, cylindrical bowl’s apex with the thin, crowned rim is classy.  I’m happy to add this Peretti to my Peretti collection and I look forward to trying him out with a bowl of my favorite blend, Lane BC.  The pipes I restore and don’t adopt myself, are put in The Pipe Steward Store Front which benefits our work with the Daughters of Bulgaria, women and girls who have been sexually exploited and trafficked.  Thanks for joining me!

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A Goliath Among Giants – Releasing a Savinelli Goliath 619EX Italy


Blog by Dal Stanton

Have you ever trolled through the 1000s of “Vintage Estate Pipe” offerings on eBay’s auction block and then, one pipe seizes your attention, and you know that you will be bringing it home?  When I saw the Savinelli Goliath, I saw the pipe – not the Savinelli name, nor the condition information offered by the seller.  I could tell it was a huge pipe – I like big pipes not just sitting in my palm, but occupying it.  I also saw the rustification beautifully textured across the paneled (octagon shaped) Billiard landscape.  Lastly, but not with waning attention, I saw the Cumberland vulcanite swirl – not just the stem but also the shank extension.  The Cumberland display was like frosting on the cake.  Here are a few pictures I saw from the seller in California.This Savinelli Goliath 619EX of Italy may represent my last restoration for several months as my wife and I return to the US from Bulgaria to reconnect with family and friends. Our organization here in Bulgaria, is a ‘not-for-profit’ so we also spend time reconnecting with the generous, dedicated people who provide their resources to enable our efforts in Bulgaria to happen.  Before my wife and I head to the US, we will spend one last bit of time on the Black Sea coast enjoying the sun and sand, and I wanted to restore a pipe from my own personal collection’s “Help Me!” basket.  So, this big boy will not be going into The Pipe Steward’s Store Front for a new steward to adopt and hence, benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria, one of our important activities, helping women and girls who have been sexually exploited and often trafficked.

The Savinelli name needs almost no introduction as one of the most well-known Italian pipe houses and whose pipes are highly sought after (See the TobaccoPipes Link for Savinelli’s History).    The Goliath line is no longer produced by Savinelli.  Eric Squires, from SmokingPipes.com, observes,

I’ve only seen a few Savinelli Goliaths, but between the name and the fact that those few I’ve seen have all been “EX” sized pipes, I would presume the entire series was all-EX. Finish-wise they look much like the Hercules line, with the significant difference being the presence of Cumberland ferrules and stems.

The Savinelli Hercules line is still produced and examples of the differences between the former Goliaths and current Hercules offerings can be seen in the Hercules shape 619EX also from Smoking Pipes.  It looks like my Goliath without the Cumberland stem and shank extension.The following now defunct Smoking Pipes ad for the Savinelli Goliath 619EX does all the work for me regarding description of this massive pipe.  I find Andrew Wike’s description spot on.

Savinelli’s Goliath line is aptly named, presented some of their classic shapes in extra-large, EX proportions and topped them with Cumberland mounts and stems. Here we see the “619” bent Foursquare rendered positively massive. It’s finished in a crisp, uniform rustication, offering plenty of texture in hand, without compromising the paneled shape’s clean lines. Length: 6.19 in./157.23 mm.

Weight: 2.50 oz./70.87 g.

Bowl Height: 2.12 in./53.85 mm.

Chamber Depth: 1.80 in./45.72 mm.

Chamber Diameter: 0.89 in./22.61 mm.

Outside Diameter: 1.65 in./41.91 mm.

Stem Material: Vulcanite

Filter: 9mm

Shape: Panel

Finish: Rusticated

Material: Briar

Country: Italy

These pictures that I take of the Savinelli Goliath 619EX from the worktable here in Sofia, Bulgaria, form the starting planks of rebuilding the bridge from where this massive pipe is now and the pristine picture depicted above.  I don’t have huge hands, but just to give a sense of the size of the stummel, I conclude with a ‘palm shot’ where I’m imagining this Goliath in my rotation! The nomenclature is located on the underside of the shank.  To the left is stamped ‘SAVINELLI’ [over] GOLIATH.  To the right of this, is stamped the Savinelli logo followed by ‘619EX’.  Without success, I look through several catalogues featuring Savinelli lines and I am unable to unearth the Goliath to try to date the production history.  I sent the question to Savinelli’s current ‘Contact’ page in their website to see if someone might fill in those details – I’m not holding my breath.  I find this nice example of a Goliath, slightly different shape, at Chris’ Pipe Pages and I discover something that I had totally overlooked.This example provides pictures of a stem stamping on the topside of the Cumberland stem!  Looking more closely at my Goliath’s stem, I discover the faintest shadows of the stamping.  Now that I know it’s there, I’ll do my utmost to protect it!  I take a picture of the phantom.I’m anxious to recommission this Savinelli Goliath and introduce him to the other pipes in my rotation!  He needs some work.  The stummel has plenty of grime in the rustified surface.  The cake in the chamber is thick and it needs to be removed to expose fresh briar.  The rim has lava flow and crusting.  The Cumberland stem has heavy oxidation and the former steward of this Goliath was a definite clencher – the bit/button area is pocketed with chatter and dents.  The button lip also has damage.  We have some goliath challenges, but I’m glad to start the restoration.  The first thing I do is cover the phantom stem mark with petroleum jelly and put the Cumberland stem in the OxiClean bath to soak and to raise the oxidation. With stummel in hand, the first thing is to ream the ample chamber removing the thick accumulation of cake on the chamber wall.  Using the Pipnet Reaming Kit, I use the full array of 4 blades available to me, starting with the smallest blade. After putting paper towel down to minimize clean up I go to work.  The cake is hard as a brick and it takes more effort than normal.  I wonder if this bowl has ever seen the likes of a reaming blade before.  As I continue to work with the first, smallest blade, images of oil drilling come to my mind….  I’ve never taken a progress picture of a reaming project before, but I do drilling down into the deep recesses of this Goliath.  The first picture shows the starting point.  The second picture shows the shape of the smaller blade as it makes progress down the throat of the carbon cake – maybe just past the halfway point.  The cavern beyond is visible.  The last picture shows the break-through to the floor of the chamber.  Now, the next larger blade, blade number 2.  That blade worked through to the floor and then to blade #3, the next larger. I was just thinking that I seldom worked on a pipe requiring blade #3, let alone #4.  I was also just thinking, “Let the blade do the work, and don’t put a lot of torque on it.  The Pipnet system is made of heavy duty plastic.  Not long after those fleeting thoughts, blade #3 had a major failure and the extending blade part broke off from the insert part, stuck in the hand turning tool.  Ugh!  I gently coax the parts out of the stummel and tool, and put them aside for potential repair! Unyielding, I mount blade #4 and coax it gently down the chamber, overtaking the short-comings of blade #3.  I record the completion of the Pipnet progress, clean the carbon dust which is much.  The chamber looks good, but I’ve yet to finish. I finish up the reaming, which is no perfunctory job this time, using the Savinelli Pipe Knife, which more accurately is the Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Reamer (See: Savinelli site).  I found it on eBay sometime back after Steve bragged so much about his during many of his restorations on Reborn Pipes!  It did not come cheap, but I have enjoyed its talent to finetune a reaming project. After using the Fitsall Pipe Reamer to remove more carbon in hard to reach places, I take 240 grit paper, wrap it around a Sharpie Pen and sand the chamber wall clearing out the last remaining deposits of carbon cake and presenting fresh briar for a new start.  To finish the internal cleanup, I use cotton swabs and pipe cleaners wetted with alcohol to clean the mortise.  I also employ the long, wired bristle brushes for the cleaning.  The mortise is cleaning up well.  Later, I will give the bowl a Kosher Salt/alcohol soak to clean further and freshen it. I let the stem soak overnight in the OxiClean bath.  I take it out and with thumb firmly over the phantom stem stamp, I work on removing the oxidation by wet sanding with 600 grit paper then with a buffing with 0000 grade steel wool. I like working on clean stems.  I use pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% to work on the internal airway of the stem. I use cotton swabs to clean the filter bay. With the condition of the chamber, bit and grime on the stummel, I expected some gunk deposits in the stem and filter bay.  I was not disappointed, but after several courses of pipe cleaners and cotton swabs and alcohol, the gunk gave way to a state of cleanliness.Turning now to the rustified surface of the Goliath, I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with cotton pads and a bristled tooth brush to scrub the grime off the surface as well as the rim.  After scrubbing, I rinse the stummel with warm tap water without flooding the inside with water.  The grime has come off, but the finish has as well for the most part.  The rim is still a bit dark, but that’s not a problem.  I want to reestablish a very smooth and perhaps a bit lightened rim, as I’ve seen exemplified with newer Goliaths and the Hercules series.  To reestablish a crisp rim and remove the dings, scratches and darkened briar, I will lightly top it.  There is already an internal rim bevel which will be re-sharpened as well.  With the chopping block serving as my topping board, I put a sheet of 240 grit paper on it and rotate the stummel in circles over the paper.  I don’t need to remove much – my goal is cleaning and crisper lines and to remove the scorched briar on the internal ring.  After the 240 grit paper, I put 600 grit paper down and repeat the process.  The rim plateau looks good, but the black ring is now more distinct.  To address the blackened ring, I use a piece of rolled 120 grit paper and recut the bevel.  After this, I smooth the bevel more with 240 grit paper rolled tightly and then with 600 grit paper.  After the beveling, I again put the stummel on the topping board with 600 grit paper to give a finishing touch to the bevel lines.  I still see a hint of the dark ring but I’m satisfied with where the rim is.Switching from the rim, I now want to work on the Cumberland shank extension.  To break up oxidation and remove scratching, I lightly sand the surface with 240 grit sanding paper.  I follow this using 600 grit paper then 0000 grade steel wool.  The Cumberland shank extension looks good. Now, back to the stem and to address the bit repairs needed.  Up to this point, I’ve only dealt with the oxidation in the stem.  Next, I will use the heating method to expand the vulcanite to minimize the dents on the upper and lower bit.  There are dent compressions on the button lips as well.  I take fresh pictures of the upper and lower bit area to mark the starting point.  It is apparent, based upon how far forward the tooth dents are on the stem, the former steward smoked the Goliath without hands at times.  To counter the weight of the stummel, one would have to clench the stem toward the center. Using a butane lighter, I pass the stem through the flame, ‘painting’ the damaged areas with the heat.  I do this several times until it appears that I’ve reached maximum benefit of the heating method.  The deepest dents and compression points remain, but are tighter and more defined by the expansion of the vulcanite. Now, I use 240 grit paper and a flat needle file to sand down the area more.  I work primarily on the lower button lip area with the flat needle file to redefine the edge of the lip.  After sanding and filing, I’m left with the areas needing patching. I wipe and clean the bit, upper and lower, with a cotton pad and alcohol to prepare it for the drop-filling with CA Glue.  I use transparent Hot Stuff Special ‘T’ to do the filling, by applying it with a toothpick. For the deep fills on the lower bit, I allow ample glue to fill the area. I spray the patches with an accelerator to shorten the curing time.  Starting with a flat needle file I remove the excess CA glue to bring the mounds down close to the stem surface as well as shape the buttons working off the excess glue.  After the file, I use 240 grit paper to sand the patch mounds down to the vulcanite surface, removing the excess CA and blending as much as 240 paper allows.  Then, I follow the 240 with 600 grit paper which fine tunes the patch surfaces and blends further.  At this point, I used a method for the first time.  Note the first picture below – this is the upper bit and what transpired which I didn’t picture, I’ve pictured in the second picture, of the lower bit.  As often is the case, CA glue patches after curing will have air pockets which are addressed by painting the patch area with thin CA glue which fills the small pocket holes and after dried, removing the film of excess glue with sanding.  I notice that the patch areas, where the air pockets emerge, were whiteish.  Often this is vulcanite dust lodged in the pockets.  I wipe off the patch areas with a cotton pad and alcohol but pockets remained white as in the second picture.  The white is the cured CA glue itself which I’ve seen before.  What I also have seen before is that if you paint the white again with CA to fill the air pockets, the white spot is also sealed by the transparent CA glue and will show.  What I do, for both the upper (which is not shown above) and the lower bit (which is shown below) is to darken the whitened patch material using a black fine point Sharpie Pen.  After this, I paint with the thin CA glue to fill the pockets.  Black blends much better than white does on vulcanite – or in this case, a black/red swirl of a Cumberland stem.  After the CA glue cures, I will file/sand it down in the same manner as the upper bit.Turning again to the stummel, before I stain the stummel, I continue sanding the rim plateau with the full array (9) of micromesh pads 1500 to 12000.  Since I forgot to take a start picture, I brought this picture forward again for comparison.Now, also using the micromesh pads, I work on the Cumberland shank extension first using pads 1500 to 2400, then 3200 to 4000, then finally, 6000 to 12000.  After each set of 3, I apply Obsidian Oil to the shank to revitalize the vulcanite.  What can I say?  I love Cumberland vulcanite!  With each iteration of micromesh pads and Obsidian Oil, my anticipation of recommissioning this Savinelli Goliath with a bowl full of my favorite blend, Lane BC, is growing!  For the last 6 micromesh pads, I also polished the smooth briar on the lower shank that holds the Savinelli nomenclature – pictured below.  Since I cleaned the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap (a few days ago!) and the finish dulled significantly, I have been thinking about how to finish this Savinelli Goliath keeping it within the original Savinelli framework when it was initially commissioned.  For a ‘tenderfoot’ (former Boy Scouts will understand) restorer, here are the questions that come to my mind.  The color – there is a subtle reddish lean to the rustified surface.  How do I emulate it?  The rustification – the texture of the rustification in the picture below shows the rising and falling definition of the color tones over the contoured rustified landscape.  How do I emulate this so that the stummel color doesn’t turn out one dimensional?  And finally, the Rim Plateau.  I call it a plateau – it’s too massive simply to be a rim!  Goliath’s Plateau!  I’ve seen pictures of Goliaths and the cousin series, Hercules, that leave the rim ‘plateau’ lighter or perhaps, left natural – leaving a striking relief between stummel and rim.  An example from Worth Point in pictures 2 and 3 below – though the rounded rim is not wanted for the Goliath.  Should I stain the plateau or leave it as is?  Questions. Question 1 – Color of stain. After consulting with my wife, and a lot of going back and forth, I’ve settled on a dye mixture of 3 to 1 – 3-parts Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye to 1-part Fiebing’s Oxblood.  Question 2 – Rustification contouring.  After I apply the stain and unwrap it after firing, I will experiment with lightly applying a 1500 grit micromesh pad to the ‘peaks’ of the rustification which creates the different tones in the color – peaks and valleys.  I did this once before when I restored another Italian – a rustified Lorenzo Rialto full bent Egg.  And, question 3: Goliath’s Plateau.  I’ve decided to leave as is initially but TRYING to avoid applying dye to the rim.  I’ll look at the results and then decide whether to go ahead and apply the dye afterwards.  Thinking done – time for action!

The first thing I do to prepare the stummel is to clean it thoroughly with isopropyl 95% and a cotton pad.  Then, to protect the vulcanite Cumberland shank extension from the dye, I tape off the shank with masking tape.  I mix the dyes, 1-part Oxblood to 3-parts Light Brown.  I use a large eye dropper to do the mixing.  At the last minute, before I added the Oxblood to the Light Brown, I decide to add a small bit of alcohol to the Light Brown – to lighten it.  We’ll see how that works!  Using the hot air gun, I warm the stummel to expand the briar to help its receptivity to the dye.  After warmed, I use a folded over pipe cleaner to apply the dye mixture.  Instead of covering the whole stummel and then firing it, I did a portion of the stummel at a time – panel by panel, firing it, and moving on.  This seems to have worked well for this large stummel and for the fact that the rustified surface was absorbing the dye quickly.  After applying 2 coats of dye, I set the stummel aside to rest.  The pictures show the progress. With the stummel resting, I finish the repairs to the Cumberland stem.  Now on the lower bit, I file down the patch mounds with a flat needle file, further sanding with 240 grit paper to bring the patch flush with the vulcanite surface.  Then finally, I finish the sanding and blending with 600 grit paper and 0000 grade steel wool over the entire surface (but protecting the Savinelli stem logo). The patches on the lower bit are still visible to the informed eye, but I’m hoping that micromesh process will continue to blend and hide the patches.  I finish by cleaning up the slot with 600 grit paper. With my day closing, while the stummel is resting, I’ll give it a bath, or rather a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  The work order of this soak is not ideal with the new stain, but I’m careful to pour the salt into the bowl, and insert into the shank a stretched and twisted cotton ball to act as a wick to draw the oils out of the mortise. I then add isopropyl 95% to the bowl with a large eye dropper until it surfaces over the kosher salt.  I then put the stummel aside to continue its rest and soak for several hours.  Again, careful not to disturb the externals, the next morning, I dump the expended salt and wick which had darkened somewhat, and finish cleaning the mortise with cotton swabs and pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol.  The internals are now declared cleansed! Time to continue work on the Cumberland stem.  I begin by wet sanding using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sand with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  After each set of 3 I apply Obsidian Oil which revitalizes the vulcanite.  The swirling colors of the Cumberland stem are revitalized!  I’m liking what I see! I’m now ready to unwrap the fired crust on the rustified stummel to see what we have.  I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel, speed set at 40%, and apply Tripoli compound, a more abrasive compound, to the surface.  The cotton cloth buffing wheel is better able to work the crevices of the rustification than the felt wheel, which I use for smooth briar during the Tripoli phase. After unwrapping the stummel with the Tripoli compound, I want to lighten the stain some so I use a cotton pad and alcohol and wipe it down.  After wiping the stummel with alcohol, I load another cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel, at the same speed, and apply Blue Diamond compound not only to the stummel, but to the Cumberland shank extension and stem.  I attempt to rejoin the stem but discover that during the restoration process, the stem loosened up a bit and I’ll need to tighten the fit with the mortise.  After I complete the application of the Blue Diamond compound, I give the stummel, stem and shank extension a buffing with a felt cloth to remove the compound dust from it. At this point, as I mentioned before, I hope to create more color texture in the rustified surface.  I do this by using a 1500 grit micromesh pad and rubbing it gently over the surface of the rustification – aiming to nip the peaks of the contoured rustified briar.  This will remove the finish on the peaks and lighten them.  After I do a few runs at gently applying the micromesh pad to the peaks, I then do a follow-up buffing with the Blue Diamond wheel on the Dremel.  I am very pleased with what I’m seeing emerge.  I’m seeing the color texturing but what I didn’t anticipate, but has happened, is that the lightened peaks are tying in the unstained rim – I had decided to leave the rim plateau the bare, natural briar to form (I had hoped) an appealing, eye catching, contrast with the rustified stummel.  With the smooth grain-showing rim plateau and the rustified bowl – the best of both worlds is captured.  I’m liking the decision not to stain the rim so I will leave it the natural briar.  As I look at the rim, I notice just a few places where the staining did veer a very small bit onto the rim plateau.  I remedy this by wetting a cotton pad with acetone and carefully wiping the rim and removing the stain.  It looks good – no, looks great!My day is coming to an end, but I want to do one more thing.  To tighten the tenon insert in the Cumberland shank extension, I paint the tenon/filter sleeve with thick CA glue applying it around the base of the tenon with a manicure brush.  I let it cure overnight and I will see how it fits tomorrow.  Tomorrow arrived and I work further on fitting the stem.  I sand the CA glue that I painted around the base of the tenon with 240 grit paper.  I follow with 600 to smooth and blend it.  I try the fit several times, sanding slowly – not wanting to sand too much.  With patience, the stem is fitting much more snugly and the repair is invisible! For the final push, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel dedicated to carnauba wax and I apply several coats of the wax to the rustified stummel, rim plateau, Cumberland shank extension and stem.  After applying the wax, I give the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to bring out the shine even more.

What can I say?  I am proud of the results of this Savinelli Goliath 619EX.  The interplay of the natural briar of the rim plateau with the rustification flecks on the peaks and the deep red tones of the briar pulling at the swirls in the Cumberland shank extension and stem – all coalescing together are striking.  Then, when one adds the staggering size and presence of the bowl….  Oh my.  I can say that this Pipe Steward is happy that this Sav is going to the Black Sea coast in a few weeks to enjoy the sand, surf and yes, a few bowls of my favorite blend!  Even though this Savinelli Goliath will be joining my personal collection, check out my blog, The Pipe Steward for other pipes available in the store.  These pipes benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria, our work with women and girls who have been sexually exploited and trafficked.  Thanks for joining me!

Refreshing a French Jeantet D’Orsay Billiard Found in Burgas


Blog by Dal Stanton

The first time I saw the Jeantet D’Orsay was looking at a picture of it on my iPhone 6s.  My fellow colleague, Gary, who also lives and works here in Bulgaria, was with his wife on the Black Sea coast strolling down the main walking street of Burgas.  Gary has previously culled pipes for me during his travels as he keeps his eyes open and sends pictures of possibilities.  Gary also is my main supplier of ‘quality’ cigar ash which is the main ingredient in making ‘Pipe Mud’ to coat the inside of bowls.  The picture he sent was of two pipes, the Jeantet (top in picture below) and a nice hefty bent Billiard marked only with Bruyere [over] Garantie.  My primary interest was the product of Saint Claude, France, the Jeantet, but I encouraged him to do a bundle deal which landed both in my ‘Help Me!’ basket.  Thank you, Gary!I’ve not been restoring pipes long, but among my earliest restorations were French made and I enjoyed those initial forages of discovery of a pipe’s heritage and the geopolitical significance of the name.  My first restoration of a Jeantet was a Fleuron and it was discovered at my favorite antique shop, dubbed, The Hole in the Wall, here in Sofia.  It was then I discovered the historical importance of Saint Claude, the pipe production center in Europe for much of the 1800 and in the 1900s until pipe production peaked in the 1960s, causing many corporate closings and consolidations (See Pipedia’s article on Jeantet).  Saint Claude became the a center for pipe production and the place many prominent pipe houses called home, not because of the accessibility of briar, but it was where industrious monks and artisans turned their abilities from making toys and religious paraphernalia to pipe making after briar pipes first started being mass produced (See: fumerchic.com) when briar was discovered to have heat resistant qualities.   The Jeantet D’Orsay now on my worktable enjoys a part of this heritage, though most likely produced toward the closing chapters of Jeantet’s history.  On my worktable, I take more pictures of the Jeantet D’Orsay to fill in the gaps. The nomenclature is stamped on the left side of the shank, with ‘Jeantet’ (in fancy script) [over] ‘BRUYERE’, and to the right of this is ‘D’Orsay’ (in diagonal fancy script).  The stem bears the ‘J’ ensconced in a heptagon.  As I research the D’Orsay line, I have found a dearth of information as I’ve looked for and through catalogues trying not only to ID the D’Orsay, but even finding any systematic information on Jeantet pipes in general is a challenge.  If there is any clue in the name ‘D’Orsay’, I’m not sure what it is.  Today, Orsay is a smaller suburb of Paris, primarily known as a center in the development of technology with different educational institutions based there.  Historically, this Wiki article is informative:

There has been a village called Orsay on this site since 999, and the first church there was consecrated in 1157. From the sixteenth century, the town and surrounding area were owned by the Boucher family, and it was in honour of this family that Louis XIV gave the quai d’Orsay its name. This is the reason that the Musée d’Orsay is not in Orsay. In the eighteenth century, the family of Grimod du Fort bought the land and received the title of comte d’Orsay. In 1870, during the Franco-Prussian war, Orsay was occupied by the Prussian army. 88 young “Orcéens” were killed in the First World War.

Interesting, but not too helpful regarding the heritage of this French made pipe.  Generally, the pipe is in great condition.  The chamber has moderate cake.  The rim has trace amounts of lava and grime – not too much to clean.  The stummel has nice grain, but many very small fills to be examined. Not much in the way of oxidation or tooth chatter on the stem.  Of interest to me is the long stinger system which reaches all the way to the draft hole – visible looking down the chamber.  I will keep the stinger since it’s such a goliath.  Perhaps it does help deliver the dryer, cooler smoke which has been the holy grail in pipe technological innovations.  The cleanup and recommissioning of this Jeantet begins with placing the stem in the OxiClean bath after covering the ‘J’ stamp with petroleum jelly to protect it.  Even though it has little oxidation, I’ll let it soak.  I also easily remove the stinger as I discover that it is threaded and unscrews with a little help.  The nickel divider band also comes off. I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit to address the moderate cake.  Starting with the smallest blade, I remove the cake, bringing the fire chamber to fresh briar.  I use two of the four blades available.  To fine tune the reaming, I switch to the Savinelli Pipe Knife and scrape the chamber wall further.  Then, wrapping a piece of 240 grit paper around a Sharpie Pen, I sand the bowl removing the vestiges of carbon.  Finally, I wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  The chamber looks good – no problems that I see. Next, using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a cotton pad, I scrub the external briar surface and rim.  I also use my pin knife to scrape the crusting on the rim.  I do this by dragging the blade over the surface rather than pushing the blade to not cut into the briar.  Afterwards, I rinse the stummel in tap water.  Examining the stummel more closely, the cleaning reveals a gouge on the internal rim lip.  I also picture several of the small fills in the surface.  I use a sharp dental probe to test the strength of the fills to see if they need replacing.  What I discover is mixed news – some need more attention than others.  I dig out the weaker fills and will need to refill them.  I will simply use clear CA glue to fill them, but first I will darken the pits with a dye pen to improve blending.  I use Special ‘T’ CA glue and spot drop on each pitted fill using a toothpick.  I place a bit of glue on the toothpick and gravity pulls it to the tip and I apply it to the pit.  I spray them with an accelerator to quicken the curing time.  In all, 6 fills were patched.  The pictures show the progress. Using a flat needle file, I bring each of the CA glue patches down near to the briar surface.  Then I use 240 grit sanding paper to bring the patch flush with the briar surface.  I try as much as possible with both the file and sand paper to file/sand only on the patch footprint.  The second picture below shows a ‘slip’ off the footprint by the lower patch – ugh.  The pictures show the progress. Turning now to the rim gouge mentioned earlier.  There was already an internal bevel on the rim.  To erase the damage, using 240 grit paper then 600 grit paper, I recut the bevel.  That does the job. With the stummel repairs completed, I take a medium grade sanding sponge and apply it to the surface to remove surface nicks and to start blending the fill patches.  I follow with a light grade sponge.Before I proceed further on the external surface, I need to address the internal unpleasantness.  I’m curious what collects in the mortise with the tenon extending right to the draft hole?  Unless, its design is to bypass all the sludge.  Well, it didn’t take long to discern the latter to be the case!  With cotton swabs, alcohol and a bit of scraping the edge with a needle file the mortise started cleaning up.  Later, I will still utilize a Salt/Alcohol soak to clean and freshen further for the new steward of this classic Billiard.The stem has been soaking in the OxiClean bath and I take it out to start removing the light oxidation on the vulcanite.  After reattaching the stem with the stummel, divided by my separation disk, I wet sand using 600 grit paper followed by 0000 grade steel wool.  I’m not sure how I did it but it looks like I nicked the Jeantet ‘J’ circle during the sanding – that is a grand bummer.  I’ll try to fix it later.  The tooth chatter was removed by the 600 grit and steel wool.  The pictures tell the story. Before moving further on the external sanding, I need to clean the internals.  Using bristled and smooth pipe cleaners and isopropyl 95%, I do the job – the internals take more effort than I was expecting.  I also use a long, wired, bristled brush to work on the stinger.  In the end, I soak it in alcohol to make sure it’s clean. Turning back to the stummel, I plunge into the micromesh sanding by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sanding with 3200 to 4000, finishing with 6000 to 12000.  With the completion of the micromesh process on the stummel, my work-day here in Bulgaria will soon demand my full attention.  Before heading out the door, I want to give the bowl a Salt/Alcohol soak through the day.  I pour kosher salt, leaving no aftertaste, into the bowl until almost full.  Then I twist and stretch a cotton ball to act as a wick in the mortise – drawing out the remaining tars and oils.  I palm the top of the bowl and shake it causing the salt to settle into the internals and set the stummel in the egg carton.  Then, with a large eye dropper I fill the bowl with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the kosher salt.  I wait a few minutes as alcohol is absorbed, and then I top the bowl off again.  I set the egg carton aside and let the alcohol and salt do their thing – off to work!  Back from work!  The salt has darkened a bit, but not much.  This means that the job of cleaning was well along the way. After cleaning away the expended salt with paper towel and a bristled bush in the mortise, I put a cotton swab into the mortise to make sure and it came out clean.  Clean as a whistle – nice! After the salt/alcohol soak, I see a fill on the inner rim lip that I did not see earlier.  After digging it a bit with a dental probe, I drop fill it with ‘T’ CA glue, let it cure, file it down with a half-circle needle file, sand it with 240, 600 and then the full spectrum of micromesh pads – all these focused on bringing this patch up to the speed with the rest of the stummel! The Jeantet D’Orsay Billiard’s stinger was soaking in alcohol.  I take it out and the alcohol had cleaned it up.  I buff it with 0000 grade steel wool.  While I was at it with the steel wool, I also buffed up the nickel band divider to clean and shine it.I love the classic leather brown look on work-horse Billiards.  To blend the fills overall, I use Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye to do the job.  I set up my staining workstation and take a picture of it.  I wipe the stummel down with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean dust off the surface.  I use a whittled cork in the stummel as a handle and I warm the stummel using a hot air gun to expand the grain helping it to be more receptive to the dye.  When warm, I use a folded-over pipe cleaner to apply liberally the dye to the stummel – I want full coverage.  Then, with a lit candle, I fire the stummel – burning off the alcohol in the dye which sets the pigment in the grain.  I repeat this process after a few minutes, then I put the fired stummel aside to rest for several hours. With the dyed stummel resting, I turn to the stem.  Earlier, I was using MagicEraser on the Jeantet’s ‘J’ stem stamp and I noted then that the paint was readily coming off because of it.  I decide to go ahead and remove the paint and clean the stamp with the MagicEraser with the view to refreshing the ‘J’ stamp later.  I then wet sand the stem – mindful of the ‘J’ stem stamp, with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400.  Then I follow successively with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000, and applying Obsidian Oil after each set to revitalize the vulcanite stem.  I’m hoping that there is enough tread left in the Jeantet ‘J’ stem stamp to hold new paint.  Using white acrylic paint, I dab paint onto the area of the stamp.  Instead of waiting for it to dry, I gently wipe the excess off while wet.  Then I dab a little more wet where it is thin, and gently wipe off the excess. After some time has elapsed, it’s time to ‘unwrap’ the fired, dyed stummel.  After mounting the felt buffing wheel on the Dremel, setting the speed to slow – 20%, I buff off the crust by applying Tripoli compound.  The second picture below shows the contrast and progress. After the application of the more abrasive, Tripoli compound is completed (1st picture), I wipe down the stummel using a cotton pad and isopropyl 95% to both lighten the stain and blend it.  The alcohol wipe leaves a cloudy film on the stummel.  I remove this by going to the next compound, Blue Diamond.  I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel and increase the speed to 40% and buff the briar surface.  During this buffing, the grain starts to come out more distinctly and I like the deep rivers of grain that divide the stummel like a watermelon rind. I use a little CA glue and reattach the nickel band divider to the shank.  I then use the Blue Diamond compound on the stem and band as well.  The pictures show the progress. After completing the Blue Diamond buffing, I hand buff the stummel and stem with a felt cloth to remove the compound dust before waxing.  I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel, also at 40% speed, and apply a few coats of carnauba wax to both the bowl and stem.  Completing the restoration, I give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to heighten the shine and distinctiveness of the briar grain.

When I started this restoration, I saw a classic straight Billiard that had potential.  The Jeantet D’Orsay that Gary found for me in the antique store in Burgas, on the Black Sea, has proven to be a very attractive pipe with the light brown leather-look finish.  The grain pops.  I like the band divider – it’s not a precious metal but it provides a nice accent.  This Jeantet D’Orsay is ready for a new steward!  If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection you can check it out in The Pipe Steward ‘Store Front’.  All the pipes I restore benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls we work with here in Bulgaria who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

Burn through Repair – Salvage of a Worthy Stanwell Rouge 109 Sand Blasted Ball


Blog by Dal Stanton

Stephen, a friend visiting Bulgaria from Rainbow City, Alabama, and I were walking through the Antique Market in the shadow of Nevski Cathedral in center city Sofia, when I my roving ‘pipe eyes’ spied an unbelievably nice looking, hefty, handful of a sand blasted Ball or Apple shaped pipe waiting on a table gratuitously mixed with WWII paraphernalia, old Communist memorabilia, skeleton keys and an assortment of cork screws, lighters and want-a-be Rolex watches.  This pipe, though, was the real deal.  With Stephen by my side, I did my best not to lock my eyes on the prize.  Finally, after I gave serious non-interested examination of the seller’s other offerings, I picked up the pipe and gave it a cursory, equally, non-interested look over.  As I looked down into the chamber, I saw my opportunity.  There was daylight at the bottom of the chamber – a hole, my leverage for the negotiation.  A quintessential burn through.  With my index finger at the chamber floor, it was sharply wedged downwardly so that the wearing, digging and burning finally was more than the briar could handle.  Turning the pipe over in my hand I read the nomenclature stamped on the underside of the shank – STANWELL (barely visible in the blasted briar) [over] ROUGE 109 [over] MADE IN DENMARK.  The hefty sand blasted stummel received my initial attention, and then the vulcanite shank extension I had not seen too often.  I laughed after the seller gave me his opening volley.  At the end of the day, both Stephen and I were happy.  The deal struck for the Stanwell Rouge was very satisfactory given that the hole in the bottom of the pipe just would not go away no matter what the seller said.  As we headed to the Metro Subway, Stephen proposed that he become the next steward of the Stanwell after I tackled the burn through.  So, some time later, Stephen emailed me from Alabama, saying he was still interested in the Stanwell.  Now on my worktable here in Sofia, Bulgaria, the time has come to recommission him. Here are the pictures from my worktable.  I recalled that Steve had posted a blog by Bas Stevens, who, according to Steve, was one of the foremost authorities on Stanwell pipes (See: LINK HERE).  Bas Steven’s extensive list of Stanwell shape numbers and designers also included this Rouge’s shape 109, which is described as:  109. Flat, ball-shaped bowl, slightly bent, full mouthpiece.

I did searches on Rouge and I could not find a Stanwell listing for only ‘Rouge’ but ‘Royal Rouge’ was evident.  This BollitoPipe.it listing has for sale, a ‘Royal Rouge’ 109 which is a smooth version described with information that matches the ‘Rouge’ in dimension with the difference of the briar shank compared to the vulcanite extension on my Rouge. Pipedia’s site links to Stanwell catalogues shows this 2008 9mm catalogue listing the 109 shape (2nd down on left) with others.  Rouge simply means ‘Red’ in French which is a good description of what the Rouge’s sand blasted stummel formerly revealed, as the ‘Royal Rouge’ exemplifies above.  The Danish pipe company, Stanwell, according to Pipedia’s article closed its doors in 2009 ending an interesting chapter of pipe history as the only remaining pipe manufacturer in Scandinavia.  The ‘Stanwell’ name moved to Italy where pipes were produced bearing the name since 2010.  The ‘Made in Denmark’ on the Rouge indicates that it was produce pre-2010 before the closing.  With a better appreciation for the Stanwell Rouge 109 before me, the first thing I do in his recommissioning is to put the stem in an OxiClean bath after putting petroleum jelly on the Stanwell Crown stamping to protect it. Before I tackle the repair of the burn-through the stummel’s heel, I like working on clean pipes because it helps with the assessment of needs.  I start by carefully reaming the bowl to remove the light carbon build up.  I say, “careful” because the floor of the fire chamber is dangerously thin.  The last thing I want is the floor to drop through!  For the gentle approach, I use the Savinelli Pipe Knife and work the sides of the chamber without reaching too deeply.  Next, I take 240 grit paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen and sand the chamber ridding it of more carbon and exposing fresh briar.  Finally, I wipe the chamber out with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  Using undiluted Murphy’s Oil soap, a cotton pad and a bristled tooth brush, I scrub the exterior of the sand blasted bowl working the brush well into the surface as well as the rim (pictured below) before starting the cleaning.  The surface had a good bit of grime.  The good news is the rim is in good shape – it still shows the blasted sculpting over it, though it is darkened. Now to the internals of the stummel – using pipe cleaners and cotton swabs and isopropyl 95%, I clean the internals.  Oh my.  This old boy I believe was like the old proverbial horse saying, ‘he’s been road hard and put up wet’!  There was no end to the gunk in the mortise.  I scraped it with straight edge files and small screw drivers, and with scads of cotton swabs – the effort was immense to clean the internals.  After some time, things would start to look up, I would scrape a bit more and it was like I was starting over.  Yet thankfully, eventually the tide turned.  The picture shows the aftermath.The stem has been soaking in the OxiClean bath and I take it out to reveal the raised oxidation on the stem.  The petroleum jelly is still intact covering the Stanwell stem Crown stamping, protecting it from the OxiClean process. I start by putting a disk between the stem and the shank to protect the stem from shouldering as I wet sand with 600 grade sanding paper to remove the raised oxidation.  Then, I had one of those ‘Duh!’ moments – the shank extension on the stummel is also vulcanite with a white acrylic divider.  Removing the disk, I treat the two together.  First, with the shank extension, I lightly use 240 grit sanding paper around the extension because it did not have the benefit of the OxiClean bath.  I do this to loosen the oxidation.  Then, with the shank and stem united I wet sand using the 600 grade paper, careful to protect the stem Crown stamping. With this completed, I look to the bit area with minor tooth chatter. Using 240 grit paper I sand the chatter out, following with 600 grit again, then finish off this phase of the stem’s polishing using 0000 grade steel wool over the entire shank and stem.  To try to remove any oxidation in the Stanwell Crown stem stamp, I use a MagicEraser sponge to apply a non-abrasive cleaner.  The pictures show the progress with the stem. With the stem completed up to the micromesh phase, I put it aside to focus on the stummel repairs.  I have been developing the plan since I first saw this incredibly desirable and redeemable Stanwell Rouge beckoning on the table in the Antique Market.  There are two main steps in the burn through repair.  The first is to patch the external presentation of the stummel using a putty created from CA glue and briar dust.  This patch will fill the hole leaving an external mound for eventual sanding and shaping aiming at blending with the sand blasted finish.  When the Briar Dust Putty is applied from the external side, there also will form an internal mounding as the putty presses through the hole.  This is good and desired.  This internal mound will form the primary internal encasing of the burn through area, which is extremely thin and therefore weakened.  This internal covering of Briar Putty will form the hole fill as well as the initial reinforcement of the chamber floor.  The second step is to augment this initial reinforcement internally by using JB Weld.  I first saw the use of this from Charles Lemon on Dad’s Pipes.  I will mix a batch of JB Weld and apply it on top of the patch area and rebuild and level the floor of the fire chamber, bringing the new floor almost up to the draft hole.  That is the theoretical plan – of course, the best laid plans are often…. You know the story 😊!

I begin by taking another close picture of the external hole area as well as the floor of the chamber, with a pipe cleaner inserted to mark the gap the new floor will need to fill.  This marks the starting point.  The second picture below does not reveal the depth, but I estimate a good, 3 to 4 mm between the hole and the draft hole level.  I clean the stummel external surface with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  The pictures show the prep. Using an index card, I mix briar dust and Hot Stuff Special ‘T’ CA Instant Glue (thicker) with a toothpick to form a putty.  I’m shooting for the thickness of molasses so that the putty will not run and spread but stay where I apply it.  When the putty reaches the viscosity I desire, I apply the putty to the hole pressing it through until I achieve sufficient mounding on the inside.  As I press the putty through with the toothpick, the putty spreads out a bit more than I desire.  I use an accelerator on the inside and outside to cure the putty more rapidly.  I take pictures to mark the completion of step one.  It will be tricky filing and sanding on the sand blasted surface, but not impossible with patience.  As I reflect further, a different approach that may have lessened the mounding on the external side would have been to apply the putty internally and pushed it through…. The approaches for smooth briar and blasted briar may not be the same! Next time. I’m back to the worktable after a day’s work and unfortunately, in the back of my mind the application of briar dust putty to the external surface as I did yesterday, has blossomed in my mind into a colossal blunder!  In my mind, I picture the way I should have done it and it was perfect – in my mind!  But, I have a salvage plan coming together, also in my mind and my hope is that my blunder might spare others from the same fate 😊.

Before I work on the salvage plan coming together in my mind, I will complete the floor build-up using JB Weld.  One of the difficulties that I’ve thought about is a delivery system – how to get the JB Weld mixture to the chamber floor where it’s needed and not smeared on chamber walls trying to place it.  I’ve come up with plan of using a plastic bottle nozzle as the delivery system – load the mixture in the nozzle and force it down with a dowel rod and cotton swab.  It looks like it should work. I also insert a pipe cleaner into the airway to protect the draft hole from being clogged by the JB Weld.  It also helps me know where the floor should be.  The mixture sets up in about 4 minutes after the Hardener and Steel are combined.  Thankfully, everything works as hoped.  I take pictures through the process. Regarding the external surface patch mound, I realize that with a sandblasted surface it will be very difficult to remove the entire patch mound by filing and sanding as is the method with smooth briar.  This will damage the blasted briar surface.  After doing research on the internet, I discover that acetone dissolves CA glue.  Acetone is the primary active ingredient in nail polish removers.  What I’m hoping is a salvage plan; I begin by filing the patch mound down as far as possible without impacting the surface briar terrain. I then apply acetone to the remaining patch mound with a cotton swab to dissolve the surface overflow of the patch.  I work the briar dust patch with the cotton swab and gradually the surface patch begins to loosen and dissolve.  I’m encouraged.  I continue patiently, allowing the acetone to set its own pace.  The putty patch dissolves toward the center and leaves ridges which I scrape with my fingernail.  At the end of the process, I am relieved – it works. Not only did it work, but the blending is incredible!  I cannot see where the hole was without very close scrutiny.  The blunder becomes a teachable moment and a bit more experience for future restorations!  The pictures tell the story and I’m thankful a disaster was averted with this Stanwell. The next day, after several hours of curing for the JB Weld, I look at the new rebuilt floor of the chamber.  I rub my finger over it and it, as expected, is flat.  I want to introduce a slightly bowled chamber bottom.  To do this I employ the round grinding stone attachment which I mount on the Dremel.  I will remove just enough of the JB Weld floor to create this bowl.  With the speed at 40%, I start in the center with a circular motion creating the initial rounding.  I gradually expand it outwardly by moving it in circular motions.  This works well.  Afterwards, I use 240 grit paper to sand it more and wipe the bowl out with a cotton pad and alcohol to clean the chamber.  Done.  Later, near the end of the project, I will coat the chamber with a mixture of activated charcoal dust and sour cream that will form a hard base for forming a new cake for the bowl.  Bowl repair officially complete.  Yes! Before I address the Rouge’s stummel finish, I continue the sanding and finishing of the vulcanite shank extension so it doesn’t get in the way. I reattach the stem and beginning with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand the extension and stem and then apply Obsidian Oil to the vulcanite.  At this point I realize that I have forgotten to clean the internals of the stem (again!).  Before moving on, I clean the airway and the 9mm filter bay – which really needed some cleaning.  With a ‘proof of cleaning’ picture taken, I follow by dry sanding the extension and stem with pads 3200 to 4000, then 6000 to 12000.  After each set of three, I apply Obsidian Oil to the stem and extension to revitalize the vulcanite.  While sanding, I notice that the stem is a bit loose in the mortise extension.  I will look at this later.  The stem and extension look good! Turning now to the Stanwell Rouge’s stummel, and it is evident that the historic color of this stout, blasted ball shape was in keeping with its namesake – red.  My sense is a deeper burgundy tone would fit well.  My plan is to use 2 parts Fiebing’s Oxblood Leather Dye with 1 part of Fiebing’s Black Leather Dye.  I want it on the darker side.  Let’s see what happens!  Taking a close look at the stummel, I probe around with the sharp dental tool and see that there’s bits of dust and residues in the crevices of the blasted texture of the briar.  I use a cotton pad and alcohol to clean the stummel, and I use a bristled brush as well to dislodge debris.  I then tightly wrap masking tape around the vulcanite extension so that the dye does not possibly impact it – in a note from Steve, he said that some vulcanite will absorb the stains, others not….  Better to be on the safe side.  I mix the dyes in a shot glass using a large dropper at 2 to 1, insert a cork in the shank as my handle – and then realize later that the shank extension works just fine as a handle.  I take a picture of the set-up.  I then warm the stummel with a hot air gun and then apply the 2 to 1 dye mixture to the stummel with a folded pipe cleaner.  I work the dye into the crevices – I want good coverage.  I then ‘fire’ the aniline dye and the alcohol immediately burns off and sets the dye pigment in the briar.  After a few minutes, I repeat the process and set the stummel aside to rest. With the stummel now resting, I want to freshen the Stanwell Crown stamp on the stem.  Using white acrylic paint, I dab a bit of paint over the Crown with a tooth pick.  After the paint sets well, I scrape the excess off gently with the flat edge of a toothpick which goes over the stamp patterns leaving color in the stamp.  It looks good.  I had noted that the stem was a bit loose when seated in the mortise.  As I slowly insert the stem into the mortise extension, it is properly snug until the very end – at home station.  The tightness is generated by the white acrylic divider garnishing the end of the extension.  This lets me know that the tenon has thinned only at the base – where it ties in to the stem.  I use Special ‘T’ CA glue and a manicure brush and paint a line around the circumference of the tenon base.  We’ll see if this tightens the stem a bit after the CA glue cures.  After several hours, I’m anxious to unwrap the fire crusted stummel.  With the surface being sand blasted, I use a softer cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel instead of the felt wheel, that I use with smooth briar pipes.  The softer cotton wheel better navigates the textured blasted surface.  With the speed at 20%, I utilize Tripoli compound to remove the crusting and to begin the buffing process.  After a short time, I decide to up the speed to 40% and this works better with the cotton wheel.  I take a picture to show the unwrapping.  After completing with the Tripoli, I wipe the bowl down with a cotton pad and alcohol to blend the dye better.  Then, loading another cotton cloth wheel, I apply Blue Diamond compound to the stummel.  I am liking the very, very subtle oxblood reds tucked away in the contours of the 3-D grain of the sand blasted surface.  This was exactly the classic, smoking jacket effect I was aiming for.  I press on and after changing to another cotton cloth wheel, I apply carnauba wax to the stummel, shank extension and stem.   One last project.  I use a mixture of sour cream (or plain yogurt may be used) and activated charcoal powder to apply to the fire chamber wall.  When this mixture hardens, it provides a good foundation for a new carbon cake to grow – but the new steward needs to be gentle with this after the first few bowls, not scraping the chamber but simply using a folded over bristled pipe cleaner to rub the sides.  This will remove the needed leftovers but protect the walls.  Over time, a cake grows and life as usual!  After mixing the sour cream and charcoal powder to a non-running thickness (like mayonnaise), and inserting a pipe cleaner through the draft hole, using a pipe nail tool, I scoop the mixture into the bowl and spread it over the surface.  After spreading, I see that there is too much here and there as the mix thickened.  I would scoop a little out and spread again.  After it starts to dry, it is thicker.  It takes about 15 to 20 minutes for it to set totally.  I let it set for at least 24 hours before smoking the pipe.  The pictures show the progress.After the sour cream/charcoal powder mixture dries, I check the fit of the stem and shank extension after applying CA glue to tighten the fit.  The patch is too thick so I sand it down using 600 grade sanding paper until the stem slides into the mortise.  I fine tune the cleaning of the tenon and apply some Obsidian Oil to it.  I complete the restoration with a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to bring out the striking shine of this Stanwell Rouge.

I thought I was facing disaster with the burn through repair when I mounded briar dust putty on the external surface with no way of removing it without damaging the sand blasted briar grain.  Yet, I was bailed out by acetone.  Now, as I look at this Stanwell Rouge, I can’t believe I could see daylight through it and that most people would pass it by as a loss.  I’m glad to have restored it for his new steward.  I’m pleased with the subtle red – burgundy tones in the finish.  The hefty Ball shape is a distinctive presence in the palm and the sand blasted grain stands out well.  This Stanwell Rouge 109, Made in Denmark, is ready to go.  All my restorations benefit the work we do here in Bulgaria with the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Check out my blog, The Pipe Steward for more information about this, why I do what I do and other pipes I have for sale in the store!  Thanks for joining me!

A Lady’s Choice – WDC Milano Swan Neck Billiard


Blog by Dal Stanton

Is there a psychology in the choosing one makes when befriending a pipe?  A young Bulgarian lady, who also is a budding pipe lady, chose a pipe out of my ‘Help Me!’ baskets and boxes.  After looking at scores of hopeful candidates, there was only one – only one – that she held in her hands, looking at it and smiling. A beautiful, graceful, WDC Milano Swan Neck Billiard caught her attention, and it would seem, her affections.  Is there a psychology unfolding in the process, the evaluation, and the weighing of one pipe against another?  Or, is the process more like the lore of Harry Potter’s choice of one’s wand?  The young wizard does not choose the wand – the wand chooses his wizard.  Does the pipe do the choosing?

And is there any credence to the oft unspoken observation – do pipe stewards resemble their pipes like canine lovers sometimes uncannily resemble their 4-legged friends?  These observations come to my mind because intriguingly, the young lady who was claimed by the WDC Milano Swan Neck, shares, in some very remarkable ways, pleasing characteristics of this graceful pipe.

And then there is the ‘question’ of the ‘Pipe Lady’ more so than the ‘Pipe Man’.  A Pipe Lady lives closer to the social and cultural ‘edge’ when she takes her pipe in hand and enjoys a bowl of her favorite blend.  This picture I found somewhere on the internet (sorry, can’t cite!), I suspect would never be ascribed to Pipe Men.  Yet, a Pipe Lady looks at the three with a smile of agreement and a wink, while she is thinking, ‘You’ve got that one right!’This graceful, Milano Swan Neck stem comes from the William Demuth Company, established in 1862 – one of the oldest pipe manufacturing houses in the United States (Pipedia article).  The WDC Milano patent goes back to the 1920s with an example of the familiar WDC rhombus from the same WDC article in Pipedia (courtesy of Doug Valitchka).The eBay seller from Akron, Ohio, described the long dimensions of the Lady’s Choice WDC Milano:  Very graceful bent billiard! About 6″ long, bowl is 2″ tall, 1 3/8″ wide. ID 3/4″, depth 1 13/16″. From Pipedia’s WDC article, courtesy Doug Valitchka, a very nice example of what appears to be the same Swan Neck Billiard of the Milano line.From my worktable on the 10th floor of our flat here in Sofia, Bulgaria, I take these pictures to fill in the gaps. On the left side of the shank is stamped the traditional WDC rhombus [over] MILANO.  The right side is stamped the single shape number, ‘63’.  The chamber appears to have been cleaned to some degree and the carbon cake is very light.  The rim is sad.  It appears someone took a divot out of the internal lip trying to clean it or something.  The rim’s outer edge is beat up and I can see the vestiges of a bevel.  There is lava crusting as well on the rim surface and some hardened light stuff – the rim needs cleaning.  The stummel has few if any fills that I see – the grain of the tall bowl is impressive.  The stem has the WDC inlaid white triangle on the top.  Oxidation is present and the former steward was a clencher and chewer.  Both top and bottom of the bit shows deep bite dents.  The top button lip is dented.

The recommissioning of this Lady’s Choice WDC Milano Swan Neck Billiard, begins by putting the stem into the OxiClean bath to work on the oxidation.  The second thing I do is toss the tubing that was hanging in the tenon.  If it belonged to this pipe originally, something is missing as the airway diameter of the tenon is much larger than the tubing.  On an interesting note, there is a patent number stamped on the tubular stinger.  I looked it up in Google patent search but found nothing that had bearing on pipes (PAT. NO. 5861 / IX – I think).Next, after spreading paper towel to catch the carbon dust, I use the Savinelli Pipe Knife to remove the little carbon left.  I follow with sanding the chamber walls with a 240 piece of sanding paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen. I then turn to cleaning the internals of the stummel using cotton swabs and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95%.  There’s a good bit of tar and oils in the mortise.  After some time, I decide to switch to a Kosher Salt and alcohol soak to finish off the internal cleaning and to freshen the stummel.Next, using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap I work on the external surface of the stummel and the rim with cotton pads.  I also use a brass bristled brush on the rim.  After the scrub, I rinse the stummel in cool tap water.  The condition of the rim becomes more evident.  I think I will be able to remove the large divot at 4 o’clock in the second picture below by creating an internal bevel on the rim after I lightly top it. I start with by topping the stummel using 240 grit paper.  I follow by creating an internal and external bevel around the rim.  After a few rounds of working on the bevels, I realize that the internal rim divot is too much for the bevel to erase.  I switch gears and mix some briar dust with thick CA glue and create a putty and fill the divot on the rim.  I spray it with an accelerator to shorten the curing time.  With a needle file, I file down the briar dust patch material until it’s almost flush with the briar.  I then use 240 and 600 grit sanding paper to blend the patch and finish the bevel on the internal and external edges of the rim.I then sand the stummel using a medium grade sanding sponge followed by a light grade sanding sponge.  I remove the minor nicks and scratches on the bowl surface.I then proceed to sand the bowl using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, then 3200 to 4000, then finally, 6000 to 12000.  The process brings out the beautiful horizontal grain flows from the front of the bowl downward to encompass the heel.  Bird’s eye grain is sprinkled nicely on the stummel sides. With the day ending, I continue the cleaning and refreshing of the stummel internals using a Kosher Salt and alcohol soak.  I create a wick to insert into the shank/mortise by twisting and stretching a cotton ball.  I take a straight stiff wire to help stuff it deeply into the mortise.  With the stummel secured in the egg carton I fill the bowl with Kosher Salt (which leaves no iodine after taste) and give it a shank to displace the salt.  I then, using a large eye-dropper, put isopropyl 95% into the bowl until it surfaces over the salt.  I put it aside for the night.  The next morning, the salt and alcohol soak did the job well.  The salt had turned dark and pulling the wick out – the same was true of it.  I toss the expended salt and wick in the waste and wipe the bowl out removing leftover salt.  Then returning to the use of cotton swabs and alcohol, in only a few plunges down the mortise, the internals are clean.  Pictures show the cleaning process. The stem was soaking in an OxiClean bath to raise the oxidation from the vulcanite.  I take stem out of the bath and the oxidation was raised showing the normal olive-green color.  I then take 600 grit sanding paper and wet sand the stem to remove the oxidation and to work on the serious teeth clenching damage. After the 600 grit sanding, I give the stem a stiff buffing from 0000 grade steel wool.  Interestingly, I noticed it earlier but thought that it would go away with the OxiClean and sanding.  I see a small lighter (reddish?) dot on the underside of the stem (second picture below), almost below the WDC triangle mark but just off center.  I’m not expecting a ‘manmade’ mark there so I assume it’s a discoloration in the vulcanite.  I take a little 240 grit paper and go after it, but it remains for now.  Pictures show oxidation and post-oxidation sanding. The button area is in bad shape.  The former steward was a clencher par excellence.  Neither upper nor lower bit areas were spared.  The upper has deep bites and a ‘wedgy’ dent on the button lip.  The lower button lip is spared, but there is a ‘go to’ clench handle which is distinct.  I take pictures to mark the start. Focusing first on the topside, I use the heating method to see if I might hopefully tease out the concave dents.  Then the bottom-side.  Vulcanite, a form of rubber, amazingly will seek out its original disposition when heated as the rubber expands with the heat.  I light a candle and pass the bit-end of the stem over the flame in back and forth style.  I try not to cook the vulcanite, but simply heat it strategically.  After some time, using heat on upper and then lower, I take pictures to compare.  You can see the closing of the dents in the picture comparisons below.  I think there is a beneficial change, but there are still dents to repair.  Pictures 1 and 2 are before heating and after for the upper side.  Pictures 3 and 4 of the lower side – before heating and after.  I first use 240 grit paper on the upper bit.  I sand out as much as possible all the smaller dents. Through the years of clenching, the button lip has lost its distinction so using a flat needle file, I reintroduce the lip edge and then follow by sanding with 240 to erase file tracks and shape more.  I’m wondering if I can avoid having to rebuild the button lip.  I gently sand the upper button lip as well.  The tooth grip has turned into only a small dimple – good movement.  I sand gently to remove the dimple because I don’t want to lose too much button real estate.  The top looks great.  The only patch needed is the remaining large dent.  The topside filing, sanding and shaping progression is pictured below. Turning to the lower bit, again I use 240 grit sanding paper to sand out what can be removed and blended by sanding. The dent/clench configuration was minimized by sanding but I need to patch what remains of the surface damage.To prep the vulcanite for the patch work, I wipe down the upper and lower bit with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  I mix activated charcoal powder with Hot Stuff Special ‘T’ CA Instant Glue (extra thick) to form a putty which is like molasses in viscosity to apply to the damaged areas.  I use a tooth pick as my trowel and tamper and I apply more putty than needed – the patch mound allows me to file down gently to the surface of the stem to achieve a better blended patch.  I apply putty to the upper bit, and a dab on the small, remaining dimple on the button lip.  I spray it with accelerator to cure the putty.  I then do the same for the needed area on the lower bit.  The pictures show the patch progress. Using a flat needle file, I begin filing the patch mound on the upper bit until I’m very close to the vulcanite surface.  With the patch expanding closely to the button lip, I also utilize the flat needle file to separate and define the button lip.  When close to the surface, I switch to 240 grit paper to bring the patch flush with the vulcanite surface.  After I’ve blended as far as 240 paper will take me, I switch to 600 grit paper and then finally, 0000 steel wool which fine tunes the blending and each in turn erases the former’s scratch marks.  I take pictures along the way to document progress. At this point, not surprised, I see very small air pockets exposed on the patch area (see picture above).  Taking Hot Stuff CA Glue, thinner than the ‘T’ I used for the patch, I dip a toothpick into the glue opening to give a coat of CA glue on the toothpick.  With this wet glue, I paint the patch with a thin glaze of glue which fills the air pockets.  I give the glaze of glue a quick spray of accelerator to cure it.  I then take 600 grit paper followed by 0000 steel wool to blend and complete the upper bit patch work.  The micromesh sanding later will further blend the patches.Now, to the lower bit patch.  As before, I use the flat needle file initially, then 240, 600 and then 0000 grade steel wool working toward the vulcanite surface then blending.  Again, a few miniscule air pockets are revealed in the patch, and I repeat the same procedure as on the upper patch. Having been so focused on the button repairs, I almost forget (again) to clean the stem internal airway.  With pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol, I do that and it does not take long to clean.Putting the stem aside, I pick up the stummel.  I will use Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye to add some unifying hues on this very attractive WDC Milano’s grain.  I like the lighter motif which is what the Milano’s picture included above courtesy of Doug Valitchka.  I wipe the stummel with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to make sure it’s clean.  I then warm the stummel with the heat gun after inserting a whittled cork into the shank to serve as a handle.  After the bowl is warmed, helping the briar more effectively to absorb the dye, I apply the dye liberally using a folded over pipe cleaner.  After the stummel is covered, I fire the dye with a lit candle which ignites the alcohol in the dye and sets the pigment in the grain.  After a few minutes, I repeat the procedure concluding with firing.  I then put the stummel aside to rest. While the stummel rests, the stem is ready for the micromesh pad cycle.  I wet sand with pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sand with pads 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000.  After each cycle, I apply Obsidian Oil to rejuvenate the vulcanite, and my how it likes it!  The pop of a newly restored stem is wonderful to behold! The next day, I’m home from work, and it’s time to ‘unwrap’ the stained and fired bowl.  I mount the felt buffing wheel on the Dremel, which provides more abrasion to the surface, helping to remove the crust.  I used Tripoli compound with the Dremel set at 20% speed – slow because I don’t want to generate too much friction. Using the Dremel’s adjustment wrench, I purge the old compound off the felt wheel to clean and soften it.  I work the felt buffing wheel applying the abrasive Tripoli compound over the stummel.  I am not able to reach the bend curve between the shank and the bowl with the felt wheel.  I change to a cotton cloth buffing wheel again, only dedicated to Tripoli compound.  Each compound has its own dedicated Dremel buffing wheels.  With the cotton cloth wheel, I’m able to reach into the harder to get places.  I run the wheel over the entire surface.  I take a picture showing the completion of the ‘unwrapping’.  One of the helpful aspects of aniline, or alcohol-based dyes, is the ability to wipe it with alcohol to lighten the application as well as blend the dye.  I want to lighten this WDC Milano so I wipe it down with cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  I take a picture before and after.  Immediately after wiping down the surface, the surface clouds with the alcohol.  Then I remove the alcohol wipe clouding effect with Blue Diamond compound, with a cotton cloth wheel mounted on the Dremel at 40% speed.  Following the Blue Diamond application, the true ‘after’ picture is taken.  I also reunite the stem with the stummel for the Blue Diamond buffing.  Well, the third picture below represents the lighter ‘after’ picture, but I don’t believe the picture does justice to what my eyes are seeing.  The lightening and blending of the surface hue is showing off the grains quite nicely.  I’m liking it!  I think this, “Lady’s Choice” is going to like her choice too! I give the pipe a hand buffing with a felt cloth, not so much to buff up the shine at this point but to remove the compound dust from the surface.  The compounds are abrasives and the dust is the residue left over.  After this, I mount the Dremel with a dedicated cotton cloth buffing wheel, leaving the speed at 40%, I apply the carnauba wax evenly over the stummel and stem.  I finish with a hefty hand buffing of the pipe with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine more.

This WDC Milano Swan Neck Billiard is a lady’s choice.  I hope she likes it.  It is an elegant pipe and showcases beautiful flowing grain.  I’m pleased with the button repair that blended very well – without knowing it’s there, most people would not see it.  The repaired rim also looks good – forming the beginning of the long elegant lines carried through to the swan neck stem.  Nice.  Each pipe I restore benefits the work we do with the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been sexually exploited and trafficked.  For more information about this and pipes I have available, check out the store at The Pipe Steward.  Thanks for joining me! 

Acrylic Stem Repair – A Butz-Choquin Cadre Noir 1845 St. Claude France


Blog by Dal Stanton

The next pipe on my work table is at 2 o’clock in this Lot of 13 I acquired from an eBay seller in Nevada.  There were several other pipes that attracted me in this lot as well, especially the Cherry Wood Ropp at the 4 o’clock position.  The LHS Purex at 9 o’clock is also an interesting shape – most of these are still waiting in my ‘Help Me!’ basket.  The Butz Choquin Cadre Noir got the attention of a couple who are in Bulgaria working with us for the summer.  Joy saw the pipe and wanted it as a gift for her brother.  I think it was the combination of the rustified Leprechaun shape and the gray marble acrylic stem that got her attention.When I bring the BC to my worktable, I take additional pictures to fill in the gaps.  The nomenclature is stamped on the lower side of the shank with the left side of the stamping reading in a fancy script, ‘Choquin’ [over] ‘Cadre Noir’ which means in French according to Google Translate, ‘Black Framework’ or ‘Black Setting’.  On the right side of the stamping is an arched ST CLAUDE [over] FRANCE [over] 1845 – which I’m assuming is a shape number. Pipephil was helpful in identifying the 1845 as a shape number.  The C’est bon below is the same BC pipe shape in a smooth version, which I described above as a Leprechaun – perhaps a mix between freehand and Dublin? The bowl moves from a wide rim, a narrower mid-section and then flares out again at the heel with ridges tapering toward the shank.  Very nice looking.Searching for the BC Cadre Noir online, one finds several examples of what TobaccoPipes.com describes as a BC line depicting a “modern pipe”.

BC’s Cadre Noir pipes are a unique rusticated pipe with an ostentatious clear acrylic stem. Unlike most rusticated tobacco pipes, this one is thoroughly modern.

Another listing of a 1772 Brandy shape sheds light on the actual understanding of Cadre Noir.

The Cadre Noir is a world-famous French riding school for jockeys and horses. This Butz-Choquin pipe, in order to pay some form of tribute to the country’s prized institute, has a rustic finish consisting of parallel trenches running across the bowl. With a black and clear acrylic stem, this 1772 brandy shaped pipe is a dapper addition to both a pipe collection and an equestrian’s repertoire.

The BC before me does not have a clear acrylic stem, yet it could be described as opaque in places.  The only thing that is a significant obstacle to recommissioning this BC Cadre Noir is the damage to the gray swirl acrylic stem.  The pipe generally needs only a clean-up.  The upper button has chipped off and needs to be rebuilt.  The challenge in this rebuild is getting anywhere close to matching the colors of the patch material and the acrylic stem grays.  Before I begin any repairs, I clean the pipe.  Starting with the fire chamber, using the Savinelli Pipe Knife, I scrape out the minor carbon build up on the chamber walls.  Following this, using 240 grit sanding paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen I clean the chamber out further.  I finish by wiping the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to remove the carbon dust.  Now looking to the external rustified surface, I use Murphy’s Oil Soap undiluted with a cotton pad and a bristled tooth brush to get into the nooks and crannies of the surface.  The pictures show the cleaning. Switching to the internals, I use pipe cleaners and cotton swabs to do the job.  When I realize my time is waning, I decide to complete the internal cleaning and refreshing with the use of a salt – alcohol bath.  Using kosher salt, I fill the bowl, and stretch and twist a cotton ball to create a wick to stuff down the mortise.  I fill the bowl with alcohol until it surfaces over the salt and I put it aside to let it soak for several hours. The soak did the job when I return home later that day.  The salt and wick had absorbed the oils and tars from the briar.  I toss the old salt, wipe the chamber with paper towel and use a bristle brush to remove all the salt residue.  I return to using cotton swabs and as billed, the soak had done the job.  The pictures show the cleaning process.Now to the acrylic stem.  I first clean the internals which were in great shape.The major challenge I face with this BC Cadre Noir 1845, is the acrylic stem button repair.  I did a repair on a Meerschaum’s Bakelite stem which was a clinic in trial and error, but finally realizing success.  That Meerschaum is now a good friend in my rotation and you can see the Bakelite stem repair at The Pipe Steward blog site here: LINK.  I take some additional close-ups of the chipped button.  This acrylic stem has a gray marble color.  The good news is that the lower button (pictured above) is intact and acts as a template for the upper button rebuild.  The challenge is matching the patch material color with the multi-colored hues of gray.  My idea of how to approach this is to use clear thick CA glue as a base.  I will mix some white acrylic paint with it to create the light base.  Then, I will very gradually add activated charcoal to the mixture to create the movement toward the grays.  I have no idea how the white acrylic paint and the CA glue will react together.  I begin this repair using a needle file to work on the button while its exposed – filing down the lower surface of the slot which is rough from the break.  I then cut an index card forming a triangle, cover it with scotch tape which prevents the patch material from adhering to it, and insert it into the slot acting as a mold.  The mold will shape the slot area as well as guard the airway from the patch material seeping into it and clogging it. Well, mixing white acrylic paint with CA glue doesn’t work, so don’t try that path!  The paint immediately gummed up as it was mixed and did not provide a lightening effect.  To build the button, I end up simply applying thick CA glue and charcoal powder mixture to the button and spraying it with an accelerator to shorten the curing time.  It doesn’t have the gray hue I was wanting to blend better, but it should look ok after sanding and shaping.  I pull out the index mold and the slot looks rough now, but good.  Using a flat needle file, I start shaping the button lip.  Without a doubt – in my opinion, button rebuilding is the most time consuming and meticulous aspect of restoring estate pipes.  Patiently, I file the button and slot to a shape that is consistent with the original button curvature.  Using the lower lip as the template, I shape, file, shape, file….  It’s looking good.  Pictures show the progress. With the main file sculpting done, I use 240 grit sanding paper and sand the button, bit, and slot to blend the patch and the native acrylic.  Then, using 600 grit paper I fine tune, then a hearty buffing with 0000 steel wool.  Often when rebuilding a button, the patch material reveals air pockets as the sanding and buffing move toward the final stages.  This button was no different.  To cover these air pockets, I paint a fine layer of thick CA glue over the lip with a tooth pick.  The air pocket pits are filled with the CA glue.  I again run over the lip surface with a light 240 grit, then 600 grit papers, then the final 0000 grade steel wool buff to blend. With the button repair completed, I move on with the micromesh pad sanding of the acrylic stem.  I wet sand using pads 1500 to 2400.  I follow this with pads 3200 to 4000 then finish with pads 6000 to 12000.  I’m careful to avoid the ‘BC’ stem stamping as I sand. During the sanding, I also sand the white acrylic divider between stem and shank to spruce it up as well.  Even though I don’t believe the application of Obsidian Oil helps an acrylic stem, I do it anyway because it looks good and seems to bring out the marbling.  I have to admit, the button’s rebuild came out better than expected.  Even though I couldn’t create the gray hue in the patch material, the black seems to blend perfectly with the stem.  The dubbing of this Butz-Choquin Cadre Noir as being a ‘modern’ pipe, I think fits well with the results – looks great.  The pictures show the stem’s progress. Next, I look at the BC’s rustified stummel.  The dark deep contours of the bubbled rustication make the peaks of the bubbles stand out.  I like the Leprechaun look of the pipe.  To polish and protect the surface, I use Museum Wax wetted with a bit of spittle, applying it with a cotton cloth.  I work the wax into the crooks and crannies of the rustification.  After working the Museum Wax into the rustified surface, I do an initial hand buff with a bristled shoe brush.  Following this, to deepen the buff and heighten the shine, I mount the Dremel with a cotton cloth buffing wheel set at 40% speed and buff the surface further.  Pictures show the progress. Again, picking up the stem, after mounting the Dremel with a cotton cloth wheel for Blue Diamond, I buff the acrylic stem with a high gloss using the compound.  Before applying carnauba wax to the stem, I want to freshen the ‘BC’ stamping on the side of the stem.  The ‘C’ has grown less distinct.  Using white acrylic paint, I apply it over the stamping hoping that there’s enough edge left in the ‘C’ to hold the paint.  After it dries, I gently rub off the excess paint using the middle flat edge of a tooth pick.  The ‘BC’ is a bit more distinct now.  Pictures show the progress. The cotton cloth is mounted on the Dremel and I apply carnauba wax to the acrylic stem at 40% speed.  After applying the carnauba over the stem, I reunite the gray marbled acrylic stem with the Leprechaun stummel and give it a good hand buff using a micromesh cloth.

I’m very pleased with the outcome of the button rebuild and how well the patch material blends with the gray marble acrylic stem.  This French made Butz-Choquin Cadre Noir 1845, is a unique shape and will draw attention.  I’m happy to recommission this BC for Joy’s brother who will be his new steward.  Joy’s gift benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria, our work here in Bulgaria with women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks Joy!  To learn more about how my restorations help, check out my blog, The Pipe Steward.  Thanks for joining me!

Jen’s Trove No. 8 – Restore & Upgrade of a Dr. Grabow Omega Smooth Billiard


Blog by Dal Stanton

I begin the restoration of the final pipe in Jen’s Trove before she leaves Bulgaria and returns to the US.  As I have posted eight times before this (I just figured out that I mis-numbered her pipes – two number 5s!), these pipes have been culled from my “Help Me!” basket and boxes to give as gifts to the men in her family.  I have been pleased to restore these pipes for Jen, especially because she knows each pipe she acquires benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria, help women and girls who have been sexually exploited and trafficked.  Thank you, Jen!

Her final pipe is a Dr. Grabow Omega Smooth Billiard – Dr. Grabow’s humbler version of a Peterson System pipe or the WDC Wellington.  Similarities include the Military stem with a P-Lip, and band.  The Omega is a smart looking pipe.  The eBay seller had a good selection and I rolled the Dr. Grabow Omega with four other pipes.  One of these was a GBD Americana Made in England which I restored (See this link at The Pipe Steward) and has become a regular friend in my rotation.  The restored Americana follows and then the seller’s picture of the Dr. Grabow Omega. The Lewis B. Linkman Co. started in 1892 (Pipedia).  Yet, the name, Dr. Grabow, was used for the first time in 1930 or 1931.  Since this is my first Dr. Grabow to restore, I find the story of the ‘Dr. Grabow’ name interesting because the Doctor is a real doctor!  From Pipedia’s article on the history of Dr. Grabow (and photo courtesy of Doug Valitchka):

Dr. Paul E. Grabow was a general physician in Chicago, located at 2348 N. Seminary Ave. Some doors north at No. 2400 was the drug store owned by Mr. Brown, a personal friend of Dr. Grabow. Grabow and Brown, both fond of fly-fishing, would often sit together in the early evening hours in a back room of the drug shop talking to one another and enjoying their pipes. Before long, they were joined by Mr. Linkman, owner of M. Linkman & Co., a large pipe factory located one block west on W. Fullerton Ave., at the corner of Racine Ave. These three gentlemen shared common interests and became fast friends.

During one of their evening get-togethers in 1930, Linkman mentioned he would introduce a new type of pipe soon that exhibited what he felt were fine improvements that greatly improved the pipe smoking experience. He was still looking for a good name and believed his pipes would sell better if they bore the name of a physician. (1) Linkman asked his friend Dr. Grabow if he would permit him to use his name. The good doctor felt flattered by the idea a pipe should be designated for him and consented. A formal agreement was not made, nor were there any contracts signed or royalties paid to Dr. Grabow for the use of his name; it was, according to one of Dr. Paul Grabow’s sons, Milford, a “friendly understanding” and Linkman expressed his thanks by sending Dr. Grabow numerous pipes throughout Dr. Grabow’s lifetime. (see The Legend of Dr. Grabow). Also interesting of note are the various instances where Dr. Paul Grabow stated that he developed, or helped develop, the Dr. Grabow brand of pipes. This was a tactic used to convince people that a pipe developed, endorsed, and used by a medical physician would be ‘more healthful’ than a pipe that was not developed by someone in the medical community.

Dr. Grabow pipes have been known as inexpensive, quality smokers – the ‘Drug Store’ variety.  The Dr. Grabow Omega line started production in the 1970s (LINK) coming in a smooth and blasted finishes.

I take additional pictures of the Omega on my work table to fill the gaps.  The nomenclature is stamped on the shank sides – OMEGA [over] DR. GRABOW on the left.  The right is stamped, IMPORTED BRIAR.  The Military mount stem has the classic Dr. Grabow Club card suit mark.  Overall, the Omega is in good shape.  The fire chamber has very little carbon cake.  The stummel surface and rim are clean.  The P-Lip stem has chatter especially on the lover button area and the stem shows no oxidation.  The biggest problem that I see on this Dr. Grabow is the finish.  I don’t like it.  These two comments on a Pipes Magazine Forum discussion about Dr. Grabow Omegas’, cost, quality and appeal, capture my thoughts regarding positives and negative:

Positives: An Omega was the first briar pipe that I ever owned. It still gets regular use and like Brewshooter, I have no complaints with it. Bowl size is a little bit smaller than I like, but it makes for a nice quick smoke, and the military mount makes it really easy to clean. I have Savinellis that I have easily paid four times more for, and sure, they smoke a little bit better, but in terms of a good smoking instrument, the Omega will do you well as long as it is smoked properly and maintained properly.

Negative: One thing I noticed about my Omega is that it had a heavy varnish or clear coat. I sanded it and gave it a nice wax. It seems to breathe a little better now and I like seeing more of the grain. I also gave the band a bit of a brushed look with some fine grain sandpaper. It’s a nice little pipe for that quick smoke.

I remember when I first saw the Dr. Grabow Omega sitting in my palm after it arrived in the mail.  My first thought was, ‘Nice pipe if it didn’t have that candy apple finish.’  Even then, I knew when this pipe came to my work table, I would be removing the finish – it may be an acrylic finish and they often are bears to remove.  I’m hopeful that the acrylic finish doesn’t hide a lot of surprises.  So, with a better understanding of the Dr. Grabow Omega, Imported Briar before me, I begin its upgrade by putting the military mount stem in the OxiClean bath.  Even though I don’t detect oxidation, I want to be sure that what is there will be raised and revealed. The very light carbon cake in the bowl is addressed with the Savinelli Pipe Knife.  After putting down paper towel for a quick clean up, I ream the cake and follow by sanding the bowl with 240 grit paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen for better leverage.  I then wipe the bowl using a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to remove the residue carbon dust.  The pictures show the progress. Even though I think it will be unsuccessful, I first try to remove the acrylic finish using cotton pads wetted with acetone.  Was I surprised.  The finish peels off immediately with the acetone.  What I thought was acrylic is more like a jell that thickens with the acetone and gums up on the surface.  It also has a reddish color to it.  I use several cotton pads because they gum up quickly with the red goo coming off the surface.  While I remove the red top layer of finish, after working on the stummel with the acetone, it still is darker than I expected if all the finish had been removed.  I also am now able to see more fills – one larger area in the back of the bowl, over the shank.  That will need some attention.  I take some pictures of the progress and fills.  I decide to let the stummel soak in an acetone bath to remove more of the old finish.  While the stummel soaks in the acetone bath, I fish the Military mount stem out of the OxiClean bath and take a picture.  While there is not much in the way of oxidation showing on the stem, the OxiClean had the effect of bringing out small speckling on the surface.  I use 600 grit paper and wet sand the surface of the stem.  I follow with a rigorous buffing with 0000 grade steel wool.  The 600 grit paper and steel wool were sufficient to work out all the tooth chatter.  I then use pipe cleaners and cotton swabs wetted with alcohol for the filter bay, and to clean the internals of the stem.  Very little was needed to finish the job. Now it’s time to fish the stummel out of the acetone bath.  The finish is removed and I’m looking at the natural briar and it does have a darker hue.  I use a sharp dental probe to test the fills I see variously around the stummel.  I see a few very small fills and most seem strong.  On a few, and on the large fill that I referenced before on the back side of the bowl, above the shank, the fill has a crevasse next to it.  Before working on the stummel fills, I first use a medium grade sanding sponge followed by a light grade sanding sponge to remove the surface blemishes on the stummel.  I like using the sanding sponges because they are gentler than regular sanding paper and soft – conforming to the nooks and crannies of the curves of the stummel.  I also do a ‘sponge topping’ to clean up the rim.  One of the things I want to do to upgrade this Dr. Grabow Omega is to work on the rim.  To me, the flat-top, sharp cut of the rim is detracting. I will introduce an internal bevel and a very gentle external bevel on the rim lip to soften the lines.  As I have said in several other restorations, I believe a beveled rim classes up the pipe.  I use a coarse 120 grit rolled piece of sanding paper to cut the initial bevel, and then following with 240 then 600.  The final picture below shows the addition of the external bevel which is less obtrusive.  I use only the 240 grit paper followed by the 600 grit paper to fashion this bevel.  I do the external bevel like this as more of an accent to the rim – softening the lines.  I really like the grain movement on the rim – upgrading Dr. Grabow Omega! After the sponge sanding, almost all of the pitting and nicks are removed from the briar surface.  At this juncture, only the large fill on the back of the stummel needs attention.  I take a close-up to show the fill.  I use Hot Stuff Special ‘T’ CA glue to fill the crevasse running along this fill. I drip a bit of glue on a toothpick and run the drop to the point to strategically place the glue.  Afterward, I spray the CA glue with an accelerator to shorten the curing time.  In a few minutes, I use a flat needle file to file the mounded CA glue down close to the briar surface.  I then use 240 grit and 600 grit paper to bring it down flush with the briar surface and blend.  Finally, I use the medium and light grade sanding sponges to finish the blending.  The pictures show the progress. With the patch sanded down, I’m ready to utilize micromesh pads on the bowl to bring out the grain of the briar.  I begin by wet sanding using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400. I follow by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and then 6000 to 12000.  Oh my, oh my.  I love to watch the grain emerge through the micromesh cycles.  This Dr. Grabow is looking good for a drug store pipe! Standing back a bit and looking at the Dr. Grabow Omega again, I reunite the unfinished smooth Billiard stummel with unfinished Military Mount stem to assess where things are and get a sense about which way this Omega wants to go in his upgrade. I’m drawn to the black, darker hues of the natural briar.  The currents of the briar’s grain flow remind me of a storm with bird’s eye swirls and flamed currents unleashed in the wind.  The stummel heel has an almost solid dark plane with a spurt of grain reaching out.  This Dr. Grabow’s newly revealed grain has some personality – no doubt! This grain pattern reminds me of a restoration I did with a very large pipe, A Desirable Reject London Made, where for the first time I used black dye as part of the staining mixture.  The results were surprising to me by pulling out almost a copper kettle hue – attractive.  Here is a picture of that project.For the upgrade of this Dr. Grabow Omega, I decide in favor of the same approach mixing 2/3s-parts Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye with 1/3-part Fiebing’s Black Leather Dye with the lightening option available by wiping down the bowl with alcohol later.  I set up my staining station and take a picture to show the setup and tools.  What I didn’t show are the latex gloves I’ve started wearing to keep my hands from being colored!  After inserting a fashioned cork in the shank as a handle, I warm the stummel with the hot air gun to open the briar grain for better reception of the dye.  Then, using a folded over pipe cleaner, I liberally apply the dye mixture to the stummel to have 100% coverage.  While the dye is wet on the stummel, I fire it using a lit candle and the alcohol in the aniline dye immediately burns off, setting the pigment.  After a few minutes of cooling, I repeat the process above and then set the stummel aside to rest.  The pictures show the staining process. With the stummel resting, I take the stem and wet sand with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400.  I follow by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000, then 6000 to 12000.  After each cycle, I apply Obsidian Oil to the stem to revitalize the vulcanite.  The stem looks good!  I put the stem aside to dry. This point of the process is like a kid getting up on Christmas morning!  With the stained, fired, crusted bowl in hand, I mount the felt buffing wheel in the Dremel, set the speed at the slowest speed (20%) and use the Dremel’s adjustment wrench to purge the wheel of old compound and to soften it.  Using Tripoli compound, I ‘unwrap’ the stummel with the felt buffing wheel.  When I finish with the Tripoli, I wet a cotton pad with alcohol and wipe down the stummel.  I do this to lighten it a bit and to blend the dye.  Then, with the cotton cloth buffing wheel mounted to the Dremel, and turning up the speed to 40%, I apply Blue Diamond compound to the stummel and use it to buff up the nickel planted band.  While the Blue Diamond buffing wheel is mounted, I also use it on the stem to buff.  The pictures show the progress with the compounds. Well, it was going so well until it wasn’t!  My wife arrived home with KFC Chicken for supper that we ate on the ‘Man Cave’ balcony of our 10th floor flat.  Yes, we have Colonel Sanders in Bulgaria. After finishing the chicken which was ‘finger licking good’ I was anxious to show my wife the progress on the Dr. Grabow.  You can guess.  On the balcony, perhaps because of the ‘finger licking good’ chicken was still a bit on my fingers, the Dr. Grabow literally took off and launched from my hand and hit the floor.  With inspection, the dent on the rim was evident… oh my.  Oh well….  I remembered in the back of my mind, I think I read it on an Al Jones’ post, about using a wet towel super-heated with the help of an iron, can help expand dented wood as it heats and absorbs the moisture.  Wood is more like a sponge.  I used my wife’s iron and gave it a go.  Believe it or not, it worked well.  Before and after pictures are #1 and #3.  The briar had dulled where the iron was applied so again I use the buffing wheel with Blue Diamond to restore the sheen with the rest of the stummel. Disaster averted.  Thanks, Al!  I buff the stummel with a clean cotton cloth to remove compound residue.  I mount the Dremel with a cotton cloth buffing wheel and apply carnauba wax to stem and stummel.  Following a few coats of wax, I give the entire pipe a hand buff with a microfiber cloth.

This Dr. Grabow Omega was an unremarkable ‘Drug Store’ pipe.  Now, he’s enjoys an upgrade – he has cuff links now!  The grain hidden underneath the original finish is not unremarkable!  I’m pleased that all this Omega needed was a little TLC.  Jen will give this pipe to one of the men in her family.  ALL the gifts she has given benefit our work here in Bulgaria with the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  This Dr. Grabow is the last pipe in Jen’s Trove.  Thanks, Jen!  Check out The Pipe Steward to find out more about why I do what I do.  Thanks for joining me!