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Breathing New Life into a German VAUEN 6294 P-Lip Saddle Billiard for a Special Young Lady


Blog by Dal Stanton

Darren has commissioned a number pipes from the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  I am grateful for this!  The first pipe restored for Darren came out beautifully (See: An Amazing Transformation of a Bruyere Extra Paneled Billiard).  Of all the pipes that Darren has commissioned, the one on the worktable now was the most difficult to choose.  I know this for certain because it took Darren several weeks finally to hear the whisper of a specific pipe for his youngest daughter, Lina.

God made fathers, I believe, with a special place in their hearts for daughters.  This coupled with the fact that Lina’s 18th birthday was on the horizon and in addition to this was Darren’s desire to continue a guarded family tradition where Dad gifts a pipe to each of his children at their 18th birthday.  A gifted pipe contributes to part of a rite of passage into adulthood.  Of course, when Darren shared this information with me in one communication, my response was to ask more questions about the tradition and about Lina – her personality, aspirations, etc., so that the pipe and its write up would in some small way reflect what was important to Darren and celebrate Lina’s life and her 18th birthday.

Darren’s response about his youngest daughter’s pipe was tentative.  He wrote:  As for my daughter’s pipe, I’m uncertain. For her siblings, I found appropriate p-lip Peterson pipes, making it easier for them to try different tobaccos alongside dad, and then discussing flavors. Unlike my other two, Madeleine (but she prefers Lina) said she has no interest in smoking the pipe (she knows) she’ll receive. Her birthday is August 1, but the timing is less important than the day it is given.  

Darren went on to write that Lina was unique, not only because she is the extrovert of the family, but that she has also grown to be a stronger person because of a hair loss condition she was diagnosed with at age four, alopecia totalis.  Later he sent a short essay Lina had written for a college application where she described the challenges she encountered with this condition and how she responded.  I repeat some excerpts of what Lina wrote – an amazing story:

Everyone experiences obstacles in their life.  We may not have control over when or what these hurdles will be, but we do get to choose how we respond to them. Alopecia Universalis became part of my story when I was four years old, and my mom noticed a patch of hair missing on the top of my head. Alopecia is an autoimmune disease that puts my immune system in hyper-drive and causes it “fight” against my hair, thinking it is unhealthy, like a virus or bacteria that it needs to attack. Imagine waking up and seeing gobs of hair on your pillow in the morning. Take that further and think of how scared you’d be to see clumps of hair falling off your head while you applied shampoo in the shower. I was young, and I did not understand what was happening to me. I had no idea how my friends would react to it, and I hated it when people stared at me, thought I was a boy, or assumed I was losing my hair because of cancer….

My parents worked hard to help me figure out how I wanted to handle my hair loss, what made me most comfortable; I tried wigs, hats, and bandanas, but nothing seemed to be the right fit for me. As an active young child, and eventually a student-athlete, wigs were way too hot and impractical. I would often just rip them off whenever I began to overheat, causing people who did not know I had Alopecia to startle a bit. Eventually, I realized that I did not want to wear anything extra and that none of those things made me feel more normal….

God gave me this disease because He knew I could handle it. He has given me the strength to know and believe that He made me in His image, and I am perfect in His eyes. It is not always easy, but I am bald; I have accepted it, and I have chosen to rock it! Even though it seemed impossible at the beginning, I can now be someone people look up to because I am strong and happy. I want to be an inspiration to others. At first, it was so weird, but now it is normal to me, just another character trait.  It has been so long since I had hair that for my family and friends, it [Strength? No hair? What?] is just … me. 

Through this disease, I have learned that I do not have to allow an obstacle to stop me, I can overcome them, and I can turn them into something useful. I will not let Alopecia stop me from doing anything. I have learned to think of it as something that makes me unique rather than an inconvenience. I like being different. I think it is pretty cool that I walk around bald every day; nothing can stop me.

With my request to include Lina’s story in this write up, Darren sent Lina’s photo.  The photo beautifully portrays the bold extroversion Darren described about his unique daughter, but more foundational were Lina’s words revealing the unyielding trust in God that buttressed that boldness – a special young lady.

My response to Darren was to propose one of the pipes that he had already commissioned as possibly matching Lina’s personality. Here is some of what I said:

…Your daughter is gold too 😊.  To have grown up with the hair condition and to overcome it with what appears, great style and grace, is in itself a beautiful thing….  Her apparent extroverted ‘in your face’ spunk and attitude, to me fits well with the reputation of Lorenzo.  Lorenzo, among not only Italian pipes, has the reputation of being on the ‘edge’ in design… There is no doubt, the Lorenzo walks with a bit of swagger…. I look forward to hearing from you.

Since I wanted to work on Lina’s pipe next, I was hopeful of a quick response from Darren regarding his thoughts about the Lorenzo.  Finally, some days later, after he again searched the ‘Dreamers’ collection 😊, another pipe finally whispered Lina’s name to dad.  Darren wrote that the German made VAUEN would be a good fit because, like the Petersons he had given to his other 2 children, the VAUEN sported a P-lip stem.

I found the VAUEN in August of 2017 when my wife and I were enjoying holiday on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast in the city of Burgas.  I found it at a favorite second-hand/antique store on the main walking street.  The VAUEN is pictured with an Altinay Meerschaum Teardrop Lattice which has already found a new home with a happy steward.

Here are a few pictures of Lina’s VAUEN that dad commissioned for her 18th birthday:The nomenclature is clear and crisp.  Stamped on the left flank of the shank is ‘VAUEN’.  Stamped on the underside of the shank is 6294, the shape number VAUEN has assigned to this hefty Billiard.This is my first opportunity working on a pipe marked with VAUEN. Pipedia’s article about VAUEN included a link that went directly to VAUEN’s English language website from which Pipedia’s information seems to have come in part. I was interested to see that VAUEN is a long-time name in pipe production based in Nuremberg, Germany. My first impression of the website revealing German quality and precision was, ‘Wow!’ The current pipes displayed are sharp and modern – an attractive blending of modernistic and classical tradition. I clipped these pipes as a sampling of pipes currently available and reflecting the style of today’s VAUEN. Looking through the site I did not find anything like Lina’s VAUEN, and I saw no P-lips. This clues me in that models with P-lip stems are perhaps a thing of the VAUEN past – but how far back did P-lips cease to be part of the VAUEN presentation? I found no answer for this.One other observation looking at VAUEN’s offerings – they have produced and have available an exceptional line of pipes called, AUENLAND. Google Translate helped me to crack the translation which brought on a smile, ‘Shire’. The Shire line is described with bowls made of briar, stems of beechwood and with an acrylic mouthpiece. Here are a few ‘Shire’ pipes which one would find hobbits, wizards, dwarfs, and kings in waiting, smoking across Middle Earth.Amazingly, Pipephil.eu (See: The Lord of the Rings) devotes an entire stand-alone article describing how VAUEN has perfected the ‘selling of a dream’ as a market strategy. Producing the ‘Shire’ line of pipes with each pipe named after a character, allows a would-be purchaser to identify with a favorite character and acquire THAT pipe. Who would not want Aragorn’s pipe? 😊 And of course, these ‘Lord of the Ring’ pipes, numbering about 16 different styles with characters attached as names, come in a packaging which helps convince one of the reasonableness of the purchase – I am moving in that direction! Resisting the urge to covet more, I turn to the question of the history of the VAUEN name? I look to the History section of the VAUEN website and again, I am impressed with the presentation. Whenever I work on a pipe, and especially when a pipe name is new to me, I enjoy looking at its history to appreciate the pipe more fully now on my worktable. From VAUEN’s website:

Quality and a wealth of ideas have a long tradition at VAUEN. 160 years of VAUEN: that means 160 years of skilled workmanship and modern technology and 160 years of experience in fulfilling the individual wishes of today’s pipe lovers, and those of tomorrow.

In Nuremberg in 1848, Karl Ellenberger and his partner Carl August Ziener turned an idea into reality: Germany’s first pipe manufacturer produced tobacco pipes for connoisseurs around the world using a selection of the best wood. In an amalgamation with the Gebhard Ott pipe factory, which was founded in 1866 in Nuremberg, the Vereinigten Pfeifenfabriken Nuremberg (United Pipe Factories Nuremberg, or VPFN) was born in 1901.  Under the management of Ernst Eckert, a descendent of the founding Ott family, a company was born whose products and services would shape the tobacco and smoking culture in Europe and overseas for the next 160 years and counting.

The question about the name, VAUEN, not being a name of a person and why it is capitalized throughout is explained:

In his search for a name that would be easily remembered by all pipe lovers, Ernst Eckert’s son, Adolf Eckert, coined a new name for the company in 1909: VAUEN – a composition of the first letters V (pronounced vow) of Vereinigte Pfeifenfabriken and N (pronounced en) of Nuremberg. A brand for the future was born.

Another interesting piece of information regarding the development of VAUEN pipes is the dot on the stem marking its pipes:

In 1911, Adolf Eckert began to mark pipes with extraordinary quality with a white dot on the mouthpiece. Today, the “white dot” is an internationally renowned trademark that guarantees carefully selected materials, attractive grains, and elaborate workmanship. VAUEN pipes made for export are marked with a grey dot.

What the VAUEN website does not reveal but is revealed in the Pipedia article is the legal entanglement with Dunhill VAUEN’s marking of the stem produced:

In the 1920s, VAUEN had taken out a trademark on a white dot on the mouthpiece for Germany and Austria, at the same time that Dunhill had done the same for the international market. The companies ended up in court with the result that Dunhill may use the white dot internationally, whereas VAUEN may use it only in Germany and Austria and has to use a differently-coloured dot for all other markets. They have used light blue and grey dots internationally since then. The white or coloured dot denotes the higher quality pipes of VAUEN; the lower-end pipes are only marked by the VAUEN imprint on the stem.

This information about the different dot colors used by VAUEN is of interest because in my initial inspection of the VAUEN on the worktable, I did not know about the dot nor did I see a dot.  The pictures taken do not show a dot and since the stem is now soaking in the oxidation remover since I started the process of the restoration before the writing and research, this is something I will be looking for when the stem is finished soaking!  From the picture, there is certainly no white dot – perhaps a more subdued blue or grey is dot hiding?  Nor do I see ‘VAUEN’ imprinted on the stem denoting a ‘lower end’ pipe.The history on the VAUEN website concludes describing the current leadership structure safeguarding the legacy of the 170-year-old family run business – quite an achievement:

Also in 2018 Julia Eckert, the youngest daughter from Alexander Eckert, joins the business and therefore represents the 6th generation of the family. She takes over the Strategic Marketing department and is from now on responsible for the establishment and extension for all the marketing activities (on- and offline). In 2020 Alexander Eckert hands over the entire management to his successor Martin Ramsauer and retires from the active management after 38 years. He will remain loyal as a partner of the family business and ‘sparring partner’ in general. In this way, it is ensured that pipe history will continue to be written successfully at VAUEN and our passion for enjoyment will be shared with pipe lovers all over the world.

One additional observation about the VAUEN website that was remarkably interesting were video links showing much of the current manufacturing processes of a modern-day pipe factory. Even though they are in German, the videos are fascinating and worth the watch – Pipe manufactory (VAUEN.com).

The question regarding the VAUEN P-lip stem seems at this point to be a possible aging marker for Lina’s VAUEN.  I did not look at every listing on the VAUEN website, but I did not see any pipes listed with a P-lip stem.  Pipephil.eu has a listing for VAUEN pipes and some examples of pipes.  There is also a link describing the VAUEN P-lip with other pipe maker P-lip styles (See: Peterson’s P-Lip and its variants).  The VAUEN pictured is part of the Dr. Perl line which bears no resemblance to Lina’s pipe.

I have found nothing in the research giving a specific identification of the line or dating of the VAUEN on the worktable.  Even so, it indeed resembles the VAUEN ‘style’ with the sharp acrylic stem/shank divider or ring.  The condition of the pipe looks generally to be solid.  The chamber has moderately thick cake and the lava overflow crusting the rim needs attention.  The bowl is grimy dulling and obscuring the grain beneath.  The P-lip saddle stem has deep oxidation and calcification on the bit.  With a greater appreciation for this German made VAUEN Billiard, the restoration begins with the stem.

As I mentioned earlier, the work on the stem started earlier.  Before putting it into a soak to address the oxidation, many pipe cleaners and cotton buds were used to first clean the airway and the filter cavity.  I believe all VAUEN pipes are designed to be fitted with a filter of which VAUEN is also a producer.  The 9mm filter compartment is a prime collector of crud and a small dental spoon was also employed to excavate.  It takes fierce battling finally to call the airway and filter cavity clean. Next, the stem was put into a soak of Briarville’s Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover. I left the stem in the soak for a full 24 hours to leverage as much effort to the oxidation removal as possible. I am curious to see if a dot will surface which will be able to indicate the market area this VAUEN was headed toward when new.The stem has been soaking for 24 hours and when I fish it out the raised oxidation is pronounced. I first use a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to wipe off the raised oxidation.  After the cotton pad, I also apply 0000 grade steel wool to see if I can remove more oxidation.  The results seem good regarding the removal of a goodly portion of the oxidation.  Another mystery emerges – thoroughly inspecting the top of the saddle looking for a grey or blue dot comes up empty.  Perhaps there are exceptions to the VAUEN pipes receiving the dot?  I see no other markings on the stem.To condition the vulcanite stem, paraffin oil is then applied to the stem.The process also reveals that the stem ring or extender is not acrylic as I earlier thought. It is most definitely a wooden ring of some sort. It darkened through the process but as it dries and later sanded, it should spruce up nicely giving a nice contrasting transition from stummel to stem.Putting the stem aside for the time, I look more closely at the VAUEN stummel.  The stummel is huge with a chamber width of 1 inch and depth of 1 7/8 inches.  First, a fresh picture is taken to show the starting point.To clear the carbon cake in the chamber, all 4 of the Pipnet Reaming Tool blade heads are used.  The Kleen Reem Pipe Tool was also used to help break up the cake.  Following this, the Savinelli Fitsall Tool continues by scraping the chamber walls and then to finish, the chamber is sanded with 240 sanding paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen. An inspection of the chamber walls shows small heating veins but no problems with significance.Next, a few pictures show the crusting lava flow on the rim and the grime spots on the briar surface.To start the external surface cleaning, undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap is used with a cotton pad to scrub.  The rim is a bear, and the brass wire brush is used along with the pocketknife to carefully scrape the carbon.  The stummel is then transferred to the sink to continue the cleaning.  Using shank brushes with hot water, anti-oil liquid dishwashing soap is used to scrub the internal mortise.  Once the stummel is rinsed thoroughly, it comes back to the table.Next, to continue the cleaning of the internals, cotton buds and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 99% are used to scrub.  The effort includes a small dental spoon digging and scraping into the mortise walls.  After a good amount of time, and with the hour getting close to quitting time, I decide to transition.To continue the cleaning through the night a kosher salt and alcohol soak will be used. This method helps to draw out the tars and oils from the internal briar. First, a cotton ball is pulled and stretched to act as a ‘wick’ to draw out the oils and tars. With the aid of a stiff wire, the wick is guided down the mortise into the airway.The bowl is then filled with kosher salt which leaves no aftertaste and set in an egg carton for stability and to angle the stummel so that the rim and mortise opening are roughly level.  Isopropyl 99% then fills the bowl with a large eye dropper until it surfaces over the salt. After a few minutes, the alcohol is topped off and the lights go off.The next morning, the soiled salt and cotton wick indicate the cleaning processes going on through the night.  After tossing the salt into the waste, the chamber is wiped with a paper towel and blowing through the mortise helps to clear any residual salt crystals. To continue the internal cleaning, I return to cotton buds and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 99% for the last push which lasts much longer than hoped.  With many buds and pipe cleaners expended on the second day of cleaning the internals, I use the small dental spoon again to scrape the walls.  Drill bits are also used to excavate crud.  With a bit the same size of the airway, after mounting it on a power drill, it is hand turned (NOT powered up!) to move the drill down the airway. When the metal bit surfaces through the draft hole, I continue to hand turn the drill the same way and back it out of the airway.The dark area on the end of the drill shows the crud pulled out.  I repeat this process a few times and I use a larger bit as well that only excavated at the back of the mortise where the airway begins.  I discover that the VAUEN drilling for the filter included a ridge at the start of the internal airway that was tapered wider than the deeper airway so it wasn’t being addressed by the narrower drill bit.Well, the buds and cleaners finally began to emerge lighter. I call it done and move on.With the formal cleaning completed, I turn my attention to addressing the issues. The rim is in rough shape from the heavy lava flow and indications of charring. The darkened area on the shank side of the rim shows the place where the former steward drew the flame over the rim in lighting. The inner edge of the rim also reveals the round of the chamber being a bit compromised. A few pictures of the bowl and shank edge show a few small dark spots which I believe are old fill patches.  They seem solid but are raised – detectable by the touch.To address these issues I begin at the top of the stummel and work downward. I begin by topping the stummel to clean the rim. I place 240 sanding paper on the chopping board to serve as my desktop topping board. I take a starting picture to mark the beginning.With the stummel inverted, the stummel is rotated over the paper several times. Care is given to keep the stummel level and not to tilt it in any one direction.The following pictures show the progression after several rotations and then stopping to check the progress. I do not want to take off more briar than is necessary, but enough of the damaged rim needs to be removed to address the burn damage.At this point I stop the process on the 240 paper. I believe enough briar has been removed. The remaining darkened and damaged briar on the inner rim edge should be removed with introducing a bevel on the inner rim edge.Several quick rotations are applied on 600 grade paper to smooth the rim further.Next, using a hard surface as a backing against the sandpaper, a bevel is cut using 240 then 600 grade papers. The Sharpie Pen wrapped with 240 grade paper is also used to help sand and shape the inner chamber wall to fashion the chamber restoring the round.There continues an imbalance in the width of the rim going around the circumference, but there is nothing I can do about that. It looks much improved now.Now, moving downwardly, the raised fill spots are sanded with 240 paper and inspected. They still look solid.To protect the VAUEN nomenclature and shape number during sanding, painter’s tape works well.Next, I rejoin the stem with the stummel. I do this to protect the wooden stem connector ring from shouldering now that I know that it is wood. With the stem and stummel joined, the sanding moves over the junctions without shouldering.  Using 240 paper the saddle of the stem is sanded.The sanding is then expanded to the entire P-lip stem using 240 sanding paper. With the stem and stummel remaining joined, sanding sponges are applied to the stummel to clean it and remove imperfections in the briar.  Four sponges are used starting with the coarsest and moving to the fine grades.Next, continuing with the stummel alone, the full regimen of 9 micromesh pads is applied to the stummel.  The fine sanding starts by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400.  This is followed with pads 3200 to 4000 and pads 6000 to 12000.  The painter’s tape is removed after the first set of 3. I am pleased with how the grain has emerged through the micromesh sanding. To mask the dark fills and the darker areas around the stampings, and to bring out the grain with more contrast, I apply dye to the stummel. I decide to apply Fiebing’s Tan Leather Dye leveraging more toward subtle contrasting in the grain. After assembling the components necessary on the work desk, the stummel is warmed with a hot air gun to expand the briar. This helps the grain to be more receptive to the dye pigment. Next, using a folded pipe cleaner, the dye is applied in swatches over the stummel surface. With each application of dye, the wet aniline dye is ‘flamed’ using a lit candle. This combusts the alcohol in the dye and leaves the pigment behind in the briar. After the dye has been applied over the stummel, the stummel is set aside for several hours for the dye to ‘rest’ and settle into the grain.While the stummel is resting, I turn my attention to the stem. After sanding with 240 paper earlier, next is wet sanding using 600 grade paper. Following the 600 paper, 0000 grade steel wool is applied to the entire stem.Following the steel wool, the finer sanding begins with micromesh pads. Starting with wet sanding with pad 1500 to 2400 and then dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000. Between each set of 3 pads, Obsidian Oil is applied to condition the stem and guard against oxidation. Wow! I love the pop that develops through the process. The P-lip with the wood stem ring is looking good.
The newly dyed stummel has been resting for several hours and it is time for one of my favorite parts of restoration. I have applied a Tan hue which I believe will emulate the original VAUEN motif – a lighter and subtler contrasting with the grains. We will see! The rotary tool is mounted with a new felt buffing wheel and the speed is set a bit slower than normal – about 35% full power. I slow it down because using the coarser Tripoli compound and the abrasive felt buffing wheel provide a lot of friction and heating. I do not want to scorch the briar. The unwrapping process begins as the felt wheel clears the crusted shell from the flamed dye. The felt wheel is purged often during the process to clean and soften the felt. The picture below shows the gradual process of removing the excess dye to reveal the contrasted grains. I enjoy watching the grain emerge. After completing the heavy lifting with the felt wheel, not shown is the change to the cotton cloth wheel and another round of applying Tripoli with the speed of the rotary tool increased to about 50% full power. This helps to continue sharpening the grain and removing excess dye.Following the Tripoli, to blend the new dye and to remove the flamed dye excess debris, the stummel is wiped with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.After reuniting the stem and stummel, another cotton cloth wheel is mounted, and the rotary tool’s speed is set to about 40% full power. The finer and less abrasive Blue Diamond compound is applied to the entire pipe. I decided to order a new Blue Diamond brick – it is becoming a bit tricky loading product onto the wheel!After the application of the Blue Diamond, the pipe is buffed with a felt cloth to remove the compound debris before applying the wax. The compound can cake up on the surface and needs a little help to be cleared. Well, I guess I forgot to take a picture of transitioning next to another cotton cloth buffing wheel mounted on the rotary tool to apply carnauba wax to the pipe. After application of the wax, the pipe is given a rigorous hand buffing to remove excess wax and to raise the shine.
Earlier, after inspecting the chamber after the cake had been cleared, I observed that there were minor heating veins in the chamber wall. This is not a problem, but I decided to provide the chamber a coating of activated charcoal and yogurt to provide a starter for the development of a cake to protect the briar. The width of a healthy cake layer should be maintained at about the width of a dime. Applying the charcoal/yogurt mixture also provides a nice cosmetic upgrade in consideration of the pipe’s destiny as a gift for Lina. The yogurt is regular, non-flavored with whole milk – my wife’s yogurt 😊. A small amount of yogurt is placed in a plastic container. Charcoal powder is then added to the yogurt and mixed with the pipe nail tool. Charcoal is added gradually until it is thick enough not to drip off the tool – it hangs together. You do not want a runny mixture in the chamber.A pipe cleaner is inserted through the draft hole to block any of the mixture from clogging the airway.Next, I use the pipe nail carefully to trowel the mixture into the chamber, starting at the floor, and spreading the mixture over the chamber surface. When I get to the top, I can easily remove any stray mixture on the rim and leave a smart, dapper line at the foot of the bevel. It looks good. The stummel is left in an upright position to allow the cake starter to cure through the night. One word to the new steward – do not scrape the chamber with a metal tool after putting it into service for the first several times. Instead, using a folded pipe cleaner ‘brush’ the chamber to clear excess ash.The next morning, the pipe is given another rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth. The quality and craftsmanship of this German made VAUEN 6294 P-lip Saddle Billiard is remarkable. I am pleased with the amazing resurrection of the grain presentation. Expressive and lively lateral grain flank the sides of the bowl which result in the expected showcase of bird’s eye grain swirls on the fore and aft briar canvas. The stylish ring of wood, very characteristic of the ‘VAUEN’ style, provides an attractive transition from the colossal, handful of a bowl to the classic P-lip Saddle stem. Since Darren commissioned this pipe as a special gift for a special daughter, he has the first opportunity to claim the VAUEN from The Pipe Steward Store benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited. Thanks for joining me! So that we don’t forget how far we have come:

Pipe #1 of 7 – An Amazing Transformation of a Bruyere Extra Paneled Billiard


Blog by Dal Stanton

I love restoring pipes.  It reminds me of how life can be harsh resulting in broken people that need help and a second chance.  This sentiment is at the core of the collection of ‘broken and needy’ pipes in virtual ‘Help Me!’ baskets where what is required of would-be commissioners is the challenge to see the potential hidden under the grime and brokenness.  This is why the collection is called, ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’ benefiting the truly broken and needy – the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Darren saw the potential, not just for one pipe but for 7.  In November he wrote:

Greetings from Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Pennsylvania, (and welcome back to the US)!  Thank you for your labor and love of pipes! It is with no small joy that I’ve tracked your blog posts on your various projects.  Recently, I was able to fully appreciate your handiwork in a pipe you restored for a close friend of mine in our local Cigar and Pipe club, Daniel XXXXXX.  Towards that end is the purpose of this mail.  From your many posts, I have a marginal appreciation for the time involved, and more significantly, the fact that there is a queue well-ahead of my inquiry. Admittedly unaware of your work queue, these pipes would be targeted for Christmas gifts – either 2021 or 2022.  At least three would be gifts for close friends, and others would be for my children to give to me. 😊

As Darren wrote above, Daniel, a fellow member of his Cigar and Pipe Club (See: FB Chester County Cigar Club – Holy Smokes), had commissioned a pipe (See:  Refreshing a Beldor Studio Mini Churchwarden Paneled Apple of Saint Claude) and through Daniel, Darren became aware of The Pipe Steward.  Here are the pipes Darren commissioned in the end:

A pretty impressive line-up of pipes!  The thing that stood out most to me about Darren’s selections was that they all were intended as gifts except for one.  I laughed when he revealed his true motives with fellow Club members.  He confided: The crowd I’m working to convert are mostly cigar guys, so a broader and deeper chamber helps them “feel” like they’re enjoying a long-smoke cigar 😊.   I found out later that the other recipient was to be his youngest daughter as an 18th birthday gift (continuing a tradition from her elder siblings).  This information about Darren warmed my ‘father’s’ heart.  I decided that the first of the 7 pipes that Darren commissioned would be the one destined for him – the Bruyere Extra Paneled Billiard, an attractive pipe.  Here are the pictures of the pipe that whispered to Darren: The nomenclature on the Paneled Billiard is stamped on the left side of the shank in old English script which is slightly curved, BRUYERE [over] EXTRA.I have little doubt about the country of origin of this pipe – France.  It was part of what I have called the French Lot of 50 which I acquired in August of 2018 from a seller in Paris when my wife and I were still living in Bulgaria.  This lot has been a gold mine of treasures.  The Beldor Studio Mini Churchwarden also came to me in this French lot.  The arrow marks the Paneled Billiard in the twisted embrace of so many orphaned pipes calling out to new stewards! 😊

Honestly, I am surprised this Paneled Billiard remained unclaimed as long as it did.  It is a beauty.  I’m hopeful that the restoration will be an easier one.  The chamber has almost no cake build up and the rim with only minor darkness from lighting practices.  The bowl has the normal grime needing to be cleaned but I see no fills in a nicely proportioned octagon which promises to showcase nicely the briar grain.  The stem shows some oxidation but almost no tooth chatter.  To begin the restoration of the Paneled Billiard, I start with cleaning the airway of the stem.  Using pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 99% the cleaning does not take long.Next, the Panel’s stem joins the other pipes that Darren commissioned in a soak of www.Briarville.com‘s ‘Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover.  This is a deoxidation product that I became aware of and am giving it a test run.  The stems in this batch will be a be a good test for the Oxidation Remover.  The directions describe the soak time from 2 to 24 hours as needed.  I’ll give the full 24-hour exposure.  With the stem soaking I turn to the Paneled bowl’s chamber.  The light carbon cake is dispatched easily with 2 blade heads from the Pipnet Reaming Kit and then the chamber walls are scraped with the Savinelli Fitsall Tool.  The job of clearing the chamber is completed with sanding using 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.An inspection of the chamber after wiping with a cotton pad to remove the carbon dust shows healthy briar.  I move on.The next step is to clean the external briar surface.  Using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap, the smooth briar surface is scrubbed with a cotton pad.From the worktable, the stummel is taken to the sink where shank brushes are used with hottish water and anti-oil liquid dishwashing soap to clean the internal mortise and airway.  After scrubbing and rinsing thoroughly, the stummel comes back to the worktable.To make sure the internals are clean, a few pipe cleaners and cotton buds wetted with isopropyl 99% confirm that the internals are clean. As is my usual practice, to clean further and to freshen the bowl for a new steward, I use a kosher salt and alcohol soak to draw latent oils and tars out of the internal briar walls.  A cotton ball is stretched and twisted and then guided down the mortise to the draft hole.  It serves the purpose of a ‘wick’ that draws out the tars and oils during the soaking process.The bowl is next filled with kosher salt and placed in the egg carton to keep it stable and to line up the top of the bowl with the top of the shank keeping them roughly level.  Kosher salt is used because it leaves no after taste.The bowl is then filled with isopropyl 99% with a large eye dropper until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes, the alcohol is absorbed, and more alcohol is needed to top it off.  I then put the stummel aside for several hours as my wife and I head to Jensen Beach to enjoy a beautiful Florida day!Just to prove I was where I said I was – enjoying one of my favorites, a Savinelli Goliath with a beautiful Cumberland stem and shank ferrule.  This was the first pipe I restored for myself that had the specific purpose of going with me to the beach – then, on the Black Sea coast in Bulgaria (See: A Goliath Among Giants – Releasing a Savinelli Goliath 619EX Italy). Today, the Goliath was packed with my favorite aromatic, Lane BCA.

Several hours later, back from the beach, the salt and cotton wick show some soiling indicating the oils drawn out, but not a lot.  After the salt is tossed in the waste, the bowl is wiped with paper towel and I blow through the mortise to make sure all the salt crystals have been removed.Just to make sure all is clean and there is no residue left behind, one cotton bud and one pipe cleaner evidence the fact that this stummel is cleaner than a whistle.  I whiff of the chamber reveals no hint of ghosting and a refreshed bowl for a new steward.The stem has been soaking for 24 hours in the product, ‘Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover’ by www.Briarville.com and is time to see the results. After fishing the Paneled Billiard’s stem out of the bottle, a cotton pad wetted with alcohol is used to wipe off the oxidation that was raised during the soaking process.  The cotton pad is soiled a good bit which is good news. I run another pipe cleaner through the airway wetted with isopropyl 99% to clear away any of the Oxidation Remover liquid residue.The stem is then further conditioned using paraffin oil, a mineral oil.  I put the stem aside to absorb the oil.Another close look at the Paneled briar surface reveals beautiful, tightly woven grain patterns. An inspection of the surface does not reveal any fills needing attention.  The condition of the surface is so good that I bypass using sanding sponges which is my normal next step if the surface had significant cuts, dents, and areas needing to be cleaned up.  Instead, I go directly to the full regimen of 9 micromesh pads to fine sand the striking briar surface.  Starting first with wet sanding, pads 1500 to 2400 are used.  Following the wet sanding, dry sanding continues with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  I’m pleased with the way the briar grain emerges through the process.  The unique characteristic of Paneled shapes is that each panel gives a different ‘canvas’ view of the briar landscape.  The octagonal shape on this Billiard provides a lot to enjoy! I have had such good results from the process that I have developed to bring out briar grain so that it absolutely pops that I decide to apply to the Paneled Billiard.  I decide to apply a light brown dye to provide the contrasting.  The purpose of the dying is not to darken the bowl or to hide imperfections – which often is the need in a restoration project.  This pipe could continue as is to the final stages of polishing if I chose.  To apply dye at this point is to create more contrasting to bring out more strikingly the grain already present.  After all the components for dyeing have been assembled on the worktable, the first step after wiping the bowl with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to make sure it’s clean, is to warm the stummel over the hot air gun.  I believe this is an important step as the heat opens the briar as the stummel heats.  This helps the briar to be more receptive to the dye that is applied.After the bowl is warmed, a folded pipe cleaner applies or paints Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye to the stummel surface.  As an aniline dye, the base of the dye is alcohol.  The next step after a swath of the briar surface has been painted with dye, is to ‘flame’ the wet dye with the lit candle.  The result of this is that the alcohol in the dye immediately combusts when the wet dye meets the flame.  The combustion burns off the alcohol leaving the dye pigment behind for the briar to absorb.  Generally, what I have discovered is that the veins or the grain of the briar is softer wood and tends to absorb the dye more readily.  The harder wood between the veins is harder wood which does the opposite – does not absorb the dye pigment as readily.  This creates the dynamic that has resulted with striking briar grain.  After the entire bowl has been painted and flamed thoroughly, the stummel is set aside for several hours to rest.Turning back to the stem, I take a few customized pictures of the stem which usually enables one to see the residual oxidation left behind.  The pictures below don’t show much at all, though my eyes can see faint oxidation remaining in the bit area and the shank facing area.  The Briarville Stem Oxidation Remover has performed well it seems.  Even with the good performance of the removal of oxidation, the whole stem is sanded anyway to smooth the vulcanite and to remove miniscule tooth chatter.  To guard against ‘shouldering’ the shank facing, a plastic disk is used when the sanding is near the end of the stem.After sanding with 240 paper, next is wet sanding with 600 grade paper and then 0000 grade steel wool is applied.  Next is applying the finer sanding of micromesh pads.  Starting with wet sanding, pads 1500 to 2400 are used.  Following the wet sanding, dry sanding is next using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  The vulcanite pops nicely after the full process is completed. The newly dyed stummel has been ‘resting’ overnight allowing the dye to ‘settle’.  This time seems to help the new dye to become more firmly absorbed into the briar and also helps guard against the new dye leeching onto the fingers after the pipe is put into service and heated for the first time.The next step is to ‘unwrap’ the newly dyed stummel which has a crust of ‘flamed’ light brown dye. A felt buffing wheel is mounted on the rotary tool and set at a slightly slower speed to guard against too much heat buildup.  Red Tripoli compound is then applied to the stummel and the unwrapping commences.I enjoy this part of the restoration process the most.  As the crust is removed by the felt wheel and compound, the grain is revealed showing how the dye was received by the grain.  The felt wheel collects a lot of the dye debris and is purged often during the process.  I rub it against the edge of the wooden chopping board that is used as a lap board during the use of the rotary tool.  Purging cleans the felt wheel and softens it.  I pause during the unwrapping to take a progress picture showing the crusted side compared to the unwrapped side.  The abrasion of the felt and coarse Tripoli compound helps to remove the globs of excess dye revealing the veins of the grain in crisp contrast.  This is my goal in applying a dye.Following the felt wheel, a cotton cloth wheel is mounted and the speed set to about 40% full power – faster than with the felt wheel.  Using the softer cotton cloth at a higher speed, Tripoli compound is used again to fine tune the contrast between the grains and to remove more excess crusted dye.  The cloth wheel also can reach into the more constrained area of the crook where the shank and bowl merge.  Next, the entire bowl is wiped with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to remove more excess dye and to blend the newly dyed surface. Following this, the stem and stummel are rejoined.  Another cotton cloth wheel is mounted to the rotary tool and the less abrasive Blue Diamond compound is applied to the entire pipe.After application of the compound, a microfiber cloth is used to wipe/buff the pipe to remove the compound dust left behind.  I do this in preparation for applying the wax.One extra step is included to help prevent new dye from leeching onto the fingers of the new steward when the pipe is first put into service.  When the pipe is first put into service, and the bowl is heated, it can result in new dye leeching.  To prevent this, the bowl is heated with the hot air gun to emulate the inaugural heating up of the stummel.  After the stummel is heated, it is then wiped briskly with a cotton pad to remove the dye released by the heating.The coloring of the cotton pad shows little leeching continuing. This is good.The home stretch – next, another cotton cloth buffing wheel is mounted to the rotary tool with the speed remaining the same at about 40% of full power.  Carnauba wax is then applied to the stem and stummel.  My general rule is ‘less is more’.  I’m careful not to load the surface with too much wax which will not dissolve and just be pushed around the stummel surface by the buffing wheel.  Using a rotary tool, one applications of wax is sufficient and then a few cycles over the stummel follow to make sure the wax is dissolved and absorbed into the briar surface.  After completing the wax application, the pipe is then given a hearty hand buffing with a microfiber towel to remove wax that hasn’t dissolved and to raise the shine.The transformation of this probable French Bruyere Paneled Billiard is amazing.  The application of fresh dye had the desired effect – to create a more vivid contrast with the briar grains.  Each of the 8 panels acts as a distinct part of the canvas showcasing bird’s eye, lateral flame grain and mesmerizing flourishes that hold the gaze.  The straight Billiard shape is the classic pipe with the octagonal Paneled bowl providing a touch of class.  This is the first of 7 pipes that Darren commissioned, and this Paneled Billiard Darren thought he would add to his collection.  He has the first opportunity to claim it from The Pipe Steward Store benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  I love starting off with the ‘before’ picture to show the transformation. Thanks for joining me! 

 

A Mobile Restoration in Florida of a Floridian Bennington Supreme Half Bent Billiard


Blog by Dal Stanton

After having enough snow in Golden, Colorado, my wife and I packed up and decided that continuing to wait out COVID would be more enjoyable in sunny Florida. Staying a few weeks visiting family in Port St. Lucie, would mean thawing temperatures and sunshine.  The next pipe on my mobile worktable is an attractive half bent Billiard that I acquired in December of 2017 on the auction block from a seller in Fort White, Florida.  Fort White is a small town in north-central Florida that was named for a fort that was built there in the 1830s back when Florida was still wild and unsettled except by very rugged, tough folk and entrepreneurs who could see the possibilities.  I was surprised to find that the nomenclature on the pipe also has its origins in Florida.  Here are pictures of the Bennington Supreme Half Bent Billiard. The left flank of the shank is stamped with an old English script, ‘Bennington’ [over] SUPREME.   The stem also has a ‘B’ logo stamping.Bill saw this attractive pipe in the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only collection and reached out to me.  It was great to hear that Bill is a friend of Lizzy’s brother, Paul.  Lizzy is a colleague we worked with in Bulgaria for many gratifying years.  Lizzy’s family served in Czech Republic for several years when she was younger, and these seeds of adventure continued to fruition with her work today in Bulgaria.  Her parents have returned to Czech after several years in the US and Lizzy’s brother also worked and studied in UK and recommended The Pipe Steward to Bill – the pipe world is a small world demonstrated again!  Bill wrote these words:

I’m new to pipes, but like smoking and have always wanted one.  I looked through the pipe dreamers section and found a few I like.  I guess as a novice pipe smoker, is there any info I need to know before choosing one?  I’m basically choosing based upon the look, not necessarily how easy a particular pipe might be to smoke or whatever other things there are to consider.  I’d love some help.

I responded to Bill describing my philosophy of pipe acquisition: the Harry Potter approach:

Here’s the truth, the best way to start cultivating a collection of pipes is to simply choose one!  I subscribe to the Harry Potter school of pipe choosing 😊.  Like magic wands, the steward doesn’t choose the pipe but the pipe chooses the steward.  You have listed two very similarly shaped pipes – both classic bent Billiards.  Billiards are the most widely smoked pipes and the difference between a bent and straight billiard is obviously the stem, but more than that, the mood the steward is in.  Each pipe has its own personality, and it takes time getting used to how they smoke and what they smoke best – types of tobacco.  But your selections are great starter pipes.  My choice would probably be the Bennington Supreme because of its provenance and it appears to be a higher quality pipe from a simple glance. 

Bill commissioned the Bennington and added that Bennington, Vermont, had a special place in his affections so the Bennington Supreme would be a good match – the pipe has already been whispering to Bill!  I have never worked on a ‘Bennington’ before and was unfamiliar with the name.  I was surprised when Bennington popped up very quickly in Pipedia.  The article about Bennington revealed that the pipe on the table was a shop pipe from a tobacconist based in Florida.  I discovered that pictures on Pipedia had come from the Bennington website which was full of the shop’s history and offerings that would please both pipe men and women as well as cigar aficionados.    I include the entire Pipedia Bennington article which is cool – authentic tobacconists that mix tobaccos and provide the setting to enjoy the aromas and fellowship are an endangered part of tobacco pipe culture.  The article reads:

Bennington Tobacconist is located in Sarasota and Boca Raton, Florida, and has sold several lines of pipes over the years made by fine companies, including the Bennington Royale, made by Savinelli, the Bennington Belfast, made by Peterson, and others. 

From the company website: William Bennington founded Bennington Tobacconist in 1965. With careful consideration, the location was determined. Saint Armands Circle in Sarasota, Florida. (On the West Coast). Mr. Bennington had the foresight to institute custom hand mixed tobacco blends and hand rolled cigars. Being a family-operated tobacco shop; his three sons, Jack, Jim, and Garry grew up in the business (twenty years of experience). They learned the meaning of service, quality, and hard work.

 As the business grew, there was a need to expand the operation. A three-year search was conducted for the perfect location, which would represent the image and the market desired. The ultimate location was Boca Raton in Palm Beach County. (located on the east coast of Florida), since the city catered to an exclusively wealthy local and international clientele. An existing tobacco shop was obtained, which had been established for fifteen years in the heart of downtown Boca Raton. The shop was purchased in January 7,1980. This is where Jim Bennington became a notable presence not only in the community but in South Florida. Jim graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Industrial Systems Engineering. Although he did give engineering a chance, the prospect of working in the family business presented a much more interesting challenge. Today anyone can pick up a phone, fax or in an e-mail put in an order in from anywhere in the World. Bennington Tobacconist is continually growing at an average rate of 20% a year. Their constant awareness of projecting the Bennington name and the quality of the product lines they carry has directed them into servicing hotels, restaurants, and country clubs. Bennington Tobacconist has extended itself very successfully in this area. Two of many, prestigious hotels now serviced are the Boca Raton Resort &Club (in Boca Raton) and the Doral Golf Resort & Spa (in Miami). Traditionally, Jim Bennington has continued to honor the family philosophy that quality products should be represented in a proper image.

I found out reading through the Bennington website that the Boca Raton shop closed in 2015 apparently falling on hard times.  The website also had links to a Facebook presence and Instagram postings, but these seemed dated with no new postings that I could see after 2017.  Questions began to rise in my mind whether the Sarasota location mentioned was still in operation.  With the website working, I assume that it is.  Of most interest to me looking at the Bennington Supreme on my worktable was the statement at the beginning of the article.  It describes Bennington shop pipes having been manufactured by name companies such as Peterson and Savinelli.  It would be interesting to see if I could find out more information about the pipe on my table – Who manufactured it and when was it manufactured for Bennington Pipe & Tobacco?  With the contact information provided in the Pipedia article (but not on the website) I decide to send an email to Bennington to see what I can find out:

Greetings, I restore vintage pipes and a beautiful Bennington half bent Billiard has come to my worktable.  You can see the work I do at www.ThePipeSteward.com where pipes are commissioned that I have collected, and the full restoration process is recorded in a writeup that is then published online.  The sales benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria a good cause that you can read about at my site.  Part of my challenge when I restore a pipe is to try, as much as possible, the tell the story of the pipe which includes its provenance.  I have read the information on Pipedia about the Bennington story (Bennington – Pipedia) and I do want to make this known in my write up.  I have looked through your website and your Facebook presence to learn what I can.  I have attached a couple pictures of the pipe I’m working on.  I know that shop pipes are manufactured by other companies and my question is whether you may have an idea when you sold a Bennington Supreme and whether you might know who made it for you?  I enjoy doing this research and have reached out to other Tobacconist and pipe names in the US and in Europe and have been very pleased at the kind and helpful responses I have received.  I know that my questions are a shot in the dark but any information you can provide would be most appreciated.  Thanks so much!

Happy piping,  Dal Stanton

I’ll see if I get a response.  In the meantime, looking more closely at the Bennington on the worktable, I’m impressed with the quality of the pipe.  The grain of the bowl is asking to be released from under the tired, dull grime and dirt.  The chamber has light cake build up and the rim has light lava flow covering it.  The bowl looks like it should clean nicely.  I take a few additional pictures showing dents and scratches on the bowl and the rim edge.The stem’s surface is rough with almost no tooth chatter and light oxidation.  I begin the restoration of the Bennington Supreme with the cleaning of the stem.  The airway is cleaned with pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 99%.To address the minor oxidation I see in the stem, I continue the testing of a deoxidation product I discovered on a Facebook thread discussion.  The Briarville.com ‘Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover’ has performed well with the non-scientific testing I’ve done.  So far, oxidation has been removed for the most part and the Bennington half bent stem joins the previous testing subjects. I put the stem in the bottle of Oxidation Remover liquid for several hours.  The directions on the front label simply say to soak from 2 to 24 hours as needed. After the full 24-hour soak, the stem is removed from the liquid and first wiped with a dry cotton pad followed by a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  The cotton pads remove a lot of the raised oxidation. The airway is also cleaned with a few pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 99%.  The oxidation seems to have been removed through the soaking process. Next, paraffin oil is applied to the stem to condition it and is set aside to absorb the oil.With the stem on the side, the cleaning is started on the Bennington stummel.  Starting with the light carbon cake buildup, the chamber is reamed with 2 of the 4 blade heads available in the Pipnet Reaming Kit.I started using the 3rd larger blade head, which initially fit the chamber opening, but tightened too much for comfort.  I do not want to create a ridge in the briar chamber wall nor break the blade!  After reaming the chamber, the Savinelli Fitsall Tool is used to scrape the walls and then the chamber is sanded using 240 paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen. After wiping the bowl with a cotton pad, an inspection of the chamber shows healthy briar.  I move on.Next, the focus shifts to cleaning the external briar surface to address the lava on the rim and the grime on the bowl.  Undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap is used with a cotton pad to scrub.  The cotton pad is joined by a brass bristled brush to address the rim.  Brass is used because it is less invasive to the briar during cleaning but gives a bit more muscle for stubborn grime on rims.The stummel is then taken to the sink and the cleaning continues with hottish water and shank brushes with anti-oil liquid dishwashing soap.  The internal mortise briar is scrubbed with the shank brushes.  After the stummel is thoroughly rinsed, it is brought back to the worktable.  The cleaning did a great job with the briar grain now being more distinct.Continuing with the internal cleaning, cotton buds and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 99% are used. A small dental spoon is also used to scrape the mortise walls with little being excavated.  The internals are not uber grungy and the pipe cleaners and buds gradually surface not as soiled.  I stop the internal cleaning with the plan of continuing it later using a kosher salt and alcohol soak. After completing the main cleaning of the stummel, an inspection of the briar surface reveals a genuinely nice block of briar.  The lava was successfully cleaned off the rim revealing raw, worn briar.  Most of the old finish did not make it through the cleaning process.  There is a slight thinning of the aft quadrant of the rim.  The chamber is not in round with a few dents on the inner rim edge which create this.  I’ve marked up the next picture to show this.The next few pictures show the briar grain that has popped out after the cleaning.  I cannot see any fills and the potential of the grain being teased out even more is good.  The Bennington Supreme appears to be a high-quality piece of briar. The rim has a slight cant toward the chamber.  Before working on the stummel proper, I focus on the rim first by cutting a small smart bevel using 240 grade paper wedged with a hard backing of wood.  This is followed by the same with 600 grade paper.  The rounding of the chamber is improved, and the bevel freshens the inner rim lines.  A start picture is taken then the progressions. Before working on the briar surface, the Bennington Supreme nomenclature is covered with painter’s tape to protect it from the sanding.Next, to clean the surface of nicks and cuts and to remove older finish patches, sanding sponges are used. I use 4 sponges, starting first with the coarsest grade, then less course, medium grade then finishing with a light grade. After the sanding sponges, the full regimen of micromesh pads is applied.  Starting with wet sanding, pads 1500 to 2400 are used followed with dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  After the first six pads are used, the painter’s tape is removed from the shank protecting the Bennington nomenclature.  The final 3 pads help to blend the resulting ‘spot’ some.  Without doubt, the briar grain is exquisite and expressive.  The right side of the stummel has a spider web pattern and the right side has a loose pattern of bird’s eye. The heel and moving up the underside of the shank are tightly woven bird’s eye patterns.  The landscape has much to see.  A decision point has arrived, and it doesn’t take long to decide.  To protect the nomenclature by covering it with painter’s tape comes at a cost.  The picture above shows the dark, almost unseemly black spot now covering the nomenclature.  I tried mitigating the spot by wiping it with first, alcohol and then acetone to see if the old dark finish would be extracted.  The picture below shows the somewhat lessened spot, but it’s still an eyesore.  Even with the spot needing to be blended, I had already contemplated applying a darker dye to the briar surface.  The purpose of this is not so much to darken the stummel, but to darken the veins of the grain to give the grain more definition.  To do this I apply Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye to the stummel to create the contrast.  After assembling the necessary components on the mobile balcony worktable, the stummel is wiped with a cotton pad wet with alcohol to make sure it is clean.  Then the stummel is warmed using the hot air gun. Warming the stummel expands the briar allowing the grain to be more receptive to the dye.  Using a folded pipe cleaner, the dark brown dye is applied in sections to the stummel then immediately ‘flamed’ using a lit candle.  The aniline dye is alcohol based and when the dye combusts the dye hue is left behind in the briar.  The process of painting the dye and flaming it is methodically applied over the stummel and rim.  When completed, the stummel is set aside to ‘rest’ for several hours – in this case, overnight. After a few hours, the stummel can be handled with the hands and I multi-task through the night.  In addition to the newly applied dye resting, the internal cleaning is continued using kosher salt and alcohol soak.  A cotton ball is stretched and twisted to form a ‘wick’ that is guided down the mortise with the help of a stiff wire.  The wick helps to draw the oils and tars from the briar through the soak.After putting the wick down the mortise to the draft hole, kosher salt is used to fill the bowl.  Kosher salt is used because it leaves no aftertaste unlike regular iodized salt.  The stummel is placed in the egg carton for stability, leveling the rim and the end of shank. The bowl is filled with isopropyl 99% using a large eye dropper until it surfaces over the salt.After about 15 minutes, the alcohol is absorbed into the salt and cotton wick and more alcohol is added to top off.  The lights are switched off and the soak continues through the night. The next morning the soiling of the salt and cotton wick show the cleaning action going on through the night.  After the expended salt is tossed in the waste, the bowl is wiped with a paper towel to remove all the remaining salt crystals.  Blowing through the mortise also helps to dislodge crystals.To make sure all is clean and to clean any remaining residue, a single cotton bud and pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 99% reveals a clean and refreshed mortise awaiting a new steward.  I move on.The stummel is now clean and the newly applied dye has rested through the night.  The next step is to ‘unwrap’ the crusted shell left behind by the dying and firing process.  To do this, a felt buffing wheel is mounted on the rotary tool with the speed set a bit slower at about 30% full power.  Tripoli compound, a coarser abrasive compound, is applied with the felt wheel which creates more friction. The wheel is purged often with the edge of the chopping board that I use as a lap desk while using the rotary tool. Purging the felt wheel keeps the wheel from clogging up with the crusted dye and it softens the wheel. I pause during the beginning of the unwrapping process to show the progress and results.  In the picture below you can see what I call the 3 stages of unwrapping.  On the far right of the inverted bowl, is stage one – the flamed excess dye in its original state.  To the left of this is ‘stage 2’, the wood is dark from the dye that remains after ‘plowing’ or clearing off the initial crust of ‘phase 1’.  You can see grain through this dark finish at this stage but it’s not crisp.  When I first started restoring pipes and gaining experience at dying or staining briar, I thought that this ‘phase 2’ was the goal and therefore I left a lot of dye on the stummel which resulted in hiding the grain.  I discovered that ‘phase 1’ emerged when the felt wheel and Tripoli compound continued to remove what I didn’t understand earlier, was excess dye which look like thick areas on the surface.  The result of working further down to the veins of the grain is an unbelievable luminescence that grows as the contrasted veins (soft wood that absorbs the dye) contrasts with the lighter wood (the harder wood that resists the dye).After unwrapping most of the flamed crust, a smaller felt wheel is mounted on the rotary tool to reach the closed crook junction of the 1/2 bent shank and the bowl.  The picture shows the dark area remaining to be unwrapped unreached by the larger felt wheel.One last step using the coarser Tripoli compound.  Switching from a felt buffing wheel, a cotton cloth wheel is mounted on the rotary tool with the speed increased to about 40% full power.  Again, Tripoli is applied to the stummel with the softer buffing wheel which has the effect of fine tuning the crispness of the grain vein lines.After completing the Tripoli compound, the bowl is wiped down with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  This removed more excess dye as well as blend the dye on the stummel.  After three rounds of Tripoli compound, the amount of dye removed by the cotton pad is not a lot.  The entire process of unwrapping the stummel to point took me about 2 1/2 hours – it’s not a fast process!The stem has been waiting for attention.  The earlier soak in the Briarville Stem Oxidation Remover worked well.  There is almost no tooth chatter but a small bite mark on both the upper and lower button.  Simple sanding will address this. There are two cuts in the side of the bit that appear to have happened in a coffee can or something.  These will be mitigated using the heating method.The side of the bit is painted with the flame of a Bic lighter and as the vulcanite expands, it regains the original condition of the surface.  With the stem flipped with the two cuts on the bottom in the picture below, the heating almost erases the marks.Continuing now with the normal process of restoring the stem, the button is refreshed using a flat needle file – upper and lower.Sanding with 240 grade paper quickly dispatches the dents on the button lips and the remaining marks of the cuts on the side of the bit. Along with the bit, the sanding is expanded over the entire stem to smooth the roughness of the vulcanite and to erase any other scratches.  I plastic disk is used to protect the stem facing from sanding over the edge of the stem – shouldering the stem. Though the entire sanding process, care is given to avoiding the stamped ‘B’ stem logo.The sanding is continued by wet sanding with 600 grade paper and then applying 0000 grade steel wool. On a roll, the sanding continues with the full regimen of 9 micromesh pads starting with wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400.  Following this, dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads, Obsidian Oil is applied to condition the stem and to guard against oxidation.  I love the pop of newly sanded vulcanite! The stem has caught up with the stummel in the sanding process.  I attempt to reunite the stem and stummel to discover that the mortise fit was a bit too tight for the tenon.  This often happens when the briar has been cleaned and expands.This is easily addressed using 240 sanding paper.  I pinch the paper around the tenon and then rotate the stem in the grips of the sanding paper which creates the abrasion to help the fit.  It doesn’t take much help.  The tenon is snug but not overly tight.  I always turn the stem the same way mounting or dismounting the stem.With the stem and stummel rejoined, another cotton cloth buffing wheel is mounted to the rotary tool with speed set at about 40% full power.  Blue Diamond compound is then applied to the entire pipe.  After applying Blue Diamond, the pipe is wiped/buffed with a microfiber cloth (I forgot my felt cloth in Colorado!) to remove the vestiges of compound dust that can crust on the surface.  I don’t want the compound dust mixing with the wax coming up.Before applying the wax, the Bennington ‘B’ stem logo needs refreshing.To do this, a small drop of white acrylic paint is applied and spread over the B.A cotton pad is this used to daub the wet paint to thin it and it dries quickly.The side of the pointed cotton bud is used to scrape off the excess paint with gentle strokes. The cotton pad finishes the job with a firm rubbing of the logo to clean the remaining excess paint.  It looks good!Another cotton cloth buffing wheel is mounted to the rotary tool with the speed set at 40% full power.  Carnauba wax is then applied to the pipe.  Following this, the pipe is given a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth.  This raises the shine and disperses wax residue remaining on the surface.Wow!  The grain on this Bennington Supreme Half Bent Billiard came out beautifully and provides quite the showcase for the eyes!  Earlier I sent an email to the Bennington email address listed in Pipedia to find out if I could find more information about this Bennington Supreme.  I received no response.  I called the phone number given to see if they were still in operation.  Unfortunately, the phone rang but it was never picked up.  I’m wondering if Bennington’s in Sarasota had the same fate as the shop in Boca.  I’m pleased with the results of the Bennington Supreme.  A classic Half Bent Billiard will serve a new steward well.  As the commissioner, Bill has the first opportunity to claim the Bennington at The Pipe Steward Store benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Sometimes I like to start the presentation pictures with a ‘Before’ picture to appreciate fully the transformation.  Thanks for joining me! ADDENDUM – I’m pleased to include this note which arrived after posting the write up. My gratitude and thanks to the Bennington Tobacconist in Sarasota:

Hello Dal, 

We would be happy to tell you as much as possible. All we have to give is: The Supreme pipe was one of our Private label pipes which was made for us by Weber Pipes. From 1966-1984. Greek Briar,  Moderately Priced. Discontinued after Weber Pipes went out of business.  Hope this helps.

Thank You,

Bennington Tobacconist

Another Lincoln Work Horse Billiard – A London Made Real Sandblasted Briar


Blog by Dal Stanton

As things go, the next pipe on my worktable should have been the previous pipe on the worktable except that I got the two Lincoln Real Sand Blasted Billiards mixed up!  The first Lincoln, that was just completed turned out great (Releasing a Work Horse Billiard – A Lincoln London Style Real Sandblasted Briar), but I mistakenly thought it was the Lincoln that Byron had commissioned, but it wasn’t.  I discovered after completing the London Style, that Byron had commissioned the slightly smaller Lincoln London Made, not the Lincoln London Style which is now available in The Pipe Steward Store – a very attractive Blasted Billiard!The Lincoln London Made now correctly on the worktable affords me another opportunity to stroll down memory lane.  My wife and I were at the Bulgarian coastal city of Burgas on the Black Sea in May of 2017 strolling on the main walking street.  We visited a second-hand store that had always provided some nice pipes waiting for me to come by and bring home.  I acquired both Lincolns at the same shop in Burgas but on different trips.   When I came into the shop on this occasion, I was met with the contents of the copper pot – several pipes competing for my attention!  After going through the various pipes in the copper pot, I settled on 5 pipes.  After talking with the shop vendor and coming to agreement, we both were happy.  After bringing the newly acquired pipes home to Sofia, the 5 were placed in the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection where pipe men and women can commission pipes whispering their names.  I believe that 3 of the 5 pictured have already found homes with new stewards.   The Lincoln London Made is top center in the picture below between the BC Panel and the Lindbergh Select Poker.  This straight Blasted Billiard got Byron’s attention in the ‘Dreamers Collection’ and he reached out to me asking about commissioning the Lincoln along with a few other pipes that were whispering his name.When communicating with potential commissioners of pipes, I like to ask questions to find out more about their lives and how they found out about The Pipe Steward.  I was surprised to find out again how small the pipe world is at times.  Byron is a friend of my newest daughter-in-law’s father!  Last year Katie married my son, Josiah, and they are living in St. Louis.  Before they tied the knot, Katie desired to give her father a special gift and commissioned a pipe for him.  Her Dad, Kevin, lives in the chocolate capital of the USA – Hershey, PA.  That pipe turned out well (See: My Future Daughter-in-Law Commissions a Sculpted Bent Billiard as a Gift for Her Father) and with Byron’s inquiry, I discovered that my new in-law relationship was talking up The Pipe Steward.  Thanks, Kevin!  Pictures of the classic Blasted Billiard that got Byron’s attention follow: The nomenclature is stamped on the heel’s smooth briar panel.  Stamped is, LINCOLN over LONDON MADE.  To the right of this is stamped, REAL SANDBLASTED [over] BRIAR.The Lincoln logo is stamped on the right side of the stem (the normal being on the left side) with an encircled *L* (star-‘L’-star).This was the case also with the Lincoln London Style that I just completed.  I discovered a few other Lincoln pipes listed for sale here and there on the internet and discovered that this is characteristic of all the Lincoln stems.

The inconclusive information about the origins of the Lincoln name can be seen in the write up of the Lincoln London Style (LINK).   The only UK country of manufacturing Lincoln leads I found were in Wilczak & Colwell’s ‘Who Made That Pipe?’ where these names were referenced: W. H. Carrington, Sasieni, Higgs Bros (Lincoln IMP).  In the previous research none of these leads resulted in a substantive identification.

One additional piece of anecdotal information I found is a description of a Lincoln for sale in Smoking Pipes.com showcasing a Lincoln London Made Sandblasted Billiard:

A nice, classic Billiard can be a work horse of a pipe. This Lincoln (most likely named after the town in England) should prove a good smoker when the time allows. – Adam Davidson

I found that Lincoln is a city in Lincolnshire and is described in this way (See: LINK):

Lincoln is a city in the English East Midlands. It’s known for the medieval Lincoln Cathedral, with early printed books in a Wren-designed library. Lincoln Castle houses a Victorian prison and a copy of the Magna Carta. The Museum of Lincolnshire Life has social history exhibits in Victorian barracks. The Collection is a museum displaying local archaeology. Nearby, the Usher Gallery has works by Turner and Lowry.

I enjoyed reading an article about Lincoln on Traveler.com entitled, ‘Lincoln, England: The unlikely English city that the Romans and Vikings prized’.  I found all this information interesting, but no closer to knowing why a pipe nomenclature would enshrine the name of this historic, English city.

What I concluded previously with the research of the first Lincoln was that the information is scattered regarding a concrete understanding of the company origin of the Lincoln on my worktable.  What is consistently understood is that the only examples of Lincolns are classic blasted Billiards.  They consistently present the Lincoln stem logo on the right side of the stem and they are stamped ‘London Style’ or ‘London Made’.  The feel of the Lincoln pipes would not surprise me if they were produced in the 1960s, but this is only a guess.

Looking now more specifically at the blasted Billiard on the table – it is clear why Byron commissioned this pipe – the add above describes well the pipe as a “work horse of a pipe”.  Billiards are the heavy lifters of pipes in the pipe world, no doubt.   The Lincoln London made has extremely thick cake in the chamber to the extent that it’s almost closed.  Clearing the cake build up will allow me to inspect the chamber for heating damage.  Clearing the carbon cake also allows the briar to have a fresh start.  The rim is worn, and the blasted finish is almost gone leaving a flat, dull looking rim.  The blasted surface on this Lincoln London Made is less distinct and more subtle.  The stummel surface needs cleaning from the grime collected over the years.  The stem has some oxidation, and the bit has tooth chatter and some compressions.

To begin with the restoration of the Lincoln London Made, the stem’s airway is cleaned with pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 99%.  It took a good bit of effort!The stem has moderate oxidation and I continue to test the new (to me) www.Briarville.com, ‘Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover’ which I found out about on a FB group.The stem is placed in the bottle and it left for several hours.While the stem is in the deoxidizer soak, work begins on the stummel.  The cake is thick and hard.  The picture below shows how the buildup closes toward the floor of the chamber.  The rim also shows some crusting of the lava overflow.The smaller chamber accommodates only one blade head of the Pipnet Reaming Kit.  Because of the amount of cake that was remaining after the smaller blade head did its job and the next larger blade would only cut about a quarter down the chamber, I pulled out my antique Kleen Reem Tool which can expand incrementally and could navigate the chamber nicely.  I landed the Kleen Reem Tool at a Flea Market my wife and I happened upon in Kentucky a few years back when we were traveling.  Cleaning the chamber continued with the Savinelli Fitsall Tool and then sanding with 240 paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  After wiping the chamber with a cotton pad, I was glad to see that the briar was healthy – no burning or heating issues.Turning next to the external blasted surface, undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap is used with a cotton pad to scrub the briar surface.  A brass bristled brush also helps to clean the rim surface.The stummel is then taken to the sink where the cleaning continues using shank brushes and anti-oil dishwashing soap.  The shank brushes are used to scrub the internals of the pipe using warm to hottish water.  After thoroughly rinsing, the stummel is back on the worktable.After the sink cleaning, the cleaning of the internals is continued using pipe cleaners and cotton buds wetted in isopropyl 99%.  The small dental spoon is used also to scrape tars and oils off the mortise walls.  It takes quite a bit of work and the buds start to lighten.  I stop for now and will continue the internal cleaning later with a kosher salt and alcohol soak through the night. With the main cleaning completed, a closer look at the stummel shows that the finish on the Lincoln is well nonexistent.  Like the Lincoln London Style before it, the rim is devoid of finish and is worn down so that there is almost no blasted texture remaining. The out rim edge is also worn and chipped at a few places.  An inspection of the blasted stummel surface reveals blotched finish remaining but basically a dull presentation. The following pictures show what I’m seeing. Looking at the rim, without doubt the rim is worn and in need of refreshing.  As with the Lincoln London Style, the challenge with the rim is solved by topping the rim to refresh the lines.  Then, to restore the blasted surface on the rim, burrs will be used to rusticate the surface to emulate the blasted surface. Starting with the rim, the chopping board is used as a topping board. After placing 240 grade paper on the board, the stummel is inverted and rotated on the paper.  The progress is checked often to make sure the plane of the rim is flat and not dipping.  After taking a start picture, the progress is shown in the following pictures. I have come to the place where I will stop topping.  There are still a few dips in the rim on the outer edge at the 5:30 and 7 o’clock positions.  I’m not concerned about these because the one at 7 o’clock is a natural indentation from the blasted grain pattern.  The process of roughing the rim surface should help to blend the other issues.Next, the rim surface is roughed up with burrs mounted on the rotary tool to emulate a blasted surface.  I start with a round burr which I randomly touch on the surface.The results look good. A random order is taking shape.Next a cylindrical burr is used to ‘dance’ on the rim surface and inscribe cuts randomly but orderly over the work of the round burr.Again, I like the results.  I’m careful to keep the burr action very conservative.  I don’t want to dig a hole and go too deep or chew off the edge of the rim inadvertently.The next step is to freshen the entire stummel with a new dye.  A cotton pad wetted with alcohol is used to wipe the surface to remove the vestiges of the old dye and to prepare for the new dye.  The color of the dye, as with the Lincoln London Style I restored previously, is a very dark hue – the residue on the pad has a strong black angle to it.  I liked the results of the last Lincoln of applying a mixture of Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye with Black also mixed in.  One difference this time around with the Lincoln London made is that I will pre-dye the bare rim first using a walnut-colored dye stick.  I do this to first ‘even up’ the rim coloring so that the whole dye application will be more balanced.Next, after assembling all the dying components on the worktable, a small amount of Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye is mixed with Fiebing’s Black in a small glass.  Then, using a hot air gun, the stummel is warmed to heat the briar so that it expands and is more receptive to the dye.Using a folded pipe cleaner, the dye mixture is painted onto the stummel blasted surface a section at a time and flamed using the lit candle.  As aniline dyes, the alcohol immediately combusts for a couple seconds and the dye pigment is left in the briar grain. After going over the stummel painting and flaming the dye, the newly dyed stummel is put aside for several hours allowing the dye to settle.  This ‘pause’ period seems to help the dye to be absorbed into the wood better and later not come off as easily through leaching.With the stummel resting, the stem is up next.  It has been soaking in the Briarville.com Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover for several hours.  I’ve been trying out this new (to me) product and so far, it’s been working well.  After the stem started soaking, I remembered that the Lincoln stem logo was in decent shape.  It will be interesting to see if the Oxidation Remover has adverse impact on the logo.  We’ll see.  After fishing out the stem, it is first rubbed with a dry cotton pad to remove the raised oxidation on the stem.  I then wet another cotton pad with alcohol and scrub the stem more.  Again, I’m pleased with the results.  The stem seems to be clear of oxidation.Unfortunately, the logo deteriorated some.  The logo impression, though, appears deep enough to receive fresh acrylic paint to sharpen it.  This we’ll do later.To help condition the vulcanite stem, paraffin oil is applied and worked in.  The stem is then set aside to absorb the oil.With the day closing, the internal cleaning is continued on the stummel with a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  The first step is to fashion a cotton wick using a cotton ball.  The cotton ball is pulled and twisted to form the wick which is inserted into the mortise to help draw the tars and oils out of the briar.A stiff wire that I took from a regular closet hanger, is used to guide the end of the cotton wick down the mortise to the draft hole.  The bowl is then filled with kosher salt which does not leave an aftertaste.  After the stummel is placed in the egg carton to keep it stable and to angle the stummel so that the top of the bowl and the end of the shank are roughly level.  Using a large eye dropper, isopropyl 99% then fills the bowl until it surfaces over the salt.  I wait about 10 minutes to top off the alcohol after it has been absorbed into the stummel.The stummel is then put aside to soak through the night.The next morning soiling is evident in both the salt and the wick indicating the process of drawing the oils and tars from the briar through the several hours of soaking.  The expended salt and wick are tossed in the waste, the bowl is wiped with paper towel and I blow through the mortise to dislodge any remaining salt crystals.To make sure all the residue is cleaned up, a few pipe cleaners and cotton buds are used to finish the internal cleaning.  A whiff of the chamber reveals a very pleasing fresh aroma – no ghosting of odors.Before working on ‘unwrapping’ the newly dyed stummel that has been ‘resting’ through the night, I continue to bring the stem up to speed.  The soak in Briarville.com’s, ‘Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover’ has done a good job it seems by what I can see now.  The upper and lower bit have tooth chatter and bite compressions which need addressing.  To minimize the chatter and compressions so that a minimal amount of sanding is necessary, I use the heating method.  I paint the bit with the flame of a Bic lighter which heats the vulcanite rubber compound and expands it to reclaim its original condition – or closer to it.  The comparison pictures of before and after show the results after painting the upper and lower bit several times.  The upper bit should need only sanding, but the lower bit, though much better than before the heating, will need a patch to fill the compression. To patch the lower bit compression, medium black CA glue is spot dropped filling the indentation.  After applying the CA glue, the stem is put aside allowing the glue to cure.Turning now to the flamed stummel which has rested through the night, its time to unwrap the crusted dye shell.  After mounting a felt buffing wheel to the rotary tool and setting the speed at about 30% full power, the coarser Red Tripoli compound is applied to the crusted blasted surface.  The felt wheel is purged often with the edge of the metal rotary tool tightening wrench to keep it softer and to clear the flamed dye that collects during the unwrapping process.Following the application of Tripoli compound with the felt wheel, the bowl is wiped with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  This is done to remove excess dye from the rough blasted surface.Next, Tripoli compound is applied a second time to the surface using a cotton cloth buffing wheel with the speed increased to about 50% full power.  This further sharpens the dyed blasted surface, and the cotton cloth wheel is able to reach the surface area that was not as accessible to the firmer felt wheel.Again, after the use with the cotton cloth wheel, the bowl is wiped with alcohol and more excess dye is removed.  At this point, the next step is to apply Blue Diamond compound.  With the stummel waiting, I continue with the stem to catch it up.  The black CA glue has cured on the lower bit and the excess patch material is removed using a flat needle file.  With the file, the upper and lower button lips are also refreshed. Next, 240 sanding paper is used to sand the remaining excess patch material on the lower bit as well as to remove the remaining residual tooth chatter.

Sanding with 240 paper is expanded to the entire stem, careful to guard the stem logo.  The stem is reunited with the stummel during this sanding with the plastic disk wedged between.  The disk guards the shouldering of the stem facing of the stem.Next, using 600 grade paper the stem is wet sanded.  This is followed by applying 0000 grade steel wool.The full regimen of micromesh pads is applied next starting with wet sanding using pads 1500 to 2400.  This is followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads Obsidian Oil is applied to condition the vulcanite and to guard against oxidation. The stem has caught up with the stummel.  After reuniting the Lincoln stem and blasted stummel, another cotton cloth buffing wheel is mounted on the rotary tool with the speed set at about 40% full power.  Blue Diamond is then applied to the pipe – stem and stummel.Following the application of Blue Diamond compound, a felt cloth is used to wipe down/buff the pipe to remove compound dust before the application of wax.Before applying the wax, the circled star-L-star stem logo needs refreshing.  All the paint has left the imprint and the good news is the imprint looks to be sufficiently distinct to hold new acrylic paint.  This was not the case with the Lincoln London Style that was last on the worktable.To begin, white acrylic paint is put over the entire stem logo.My practice is to then daub the wet paint with a cotton pad.  The result of this is that the excess paint is absorbed, and the paint dries almost immediately.A toothpick is then employed to clear the excess paint over the logo.  This is done by lightly scraping over the logo with the side edge of the toothpick.  The toothpick scrapes away the paint that is above the impression of the logo and this sharpens the logo image.  I have had times when the fresh paint is peeled up and pulled out of the impression and then needed another application of paint.  This logo did this once with a small portion of the upper ‘L’.  After using the side of the toothpick, the point of the toothpick is then carefully used to scrape off excess paint that was too close to the imprint channels to come off with the side of the toothpick.  This takes a bit of patience.  To finish, the cotton pad is run over the logo with some pressure like it is being sanded – a very gentle abrasive.  This helps to sharpen the logo even more.  The refreshed logo looks good.With the Lincoln stem stamping refreshed, another cotton cloth buffing wheel is mounted on the rotary tool maintaining the same speed of 40%.  Carnauba wax is then applied to the pipe.  When completed, the pipe is given a rigorous hand buffing to raise the shine and to disperse excess wax on the blasted surface.This second ‘work horse’ Billiard came out well.  The blasted surface has the textured flecking in the color to give it an eye appeal along with the touch.  The rim’s repair came out nicely emulating a refreshed blasted surface.  Byron commissioned the Lincoln London Made Real Sandblasted Briar and will have the first opportunity to claim him in The Pipe Steward Store benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria.  Thanks for joining me!

Releasing a Work Horse Billiard – A Lincoln London Style Real Sandblasted Briar


Blog by Dal Stanton

The next pipe on my worktable affords me the opportunity to take a trip down memory lane.  The Lincoln London Style Real Sandblasted Billiard was found along with 8 other pipes at a favorite walking street antique shop in Burgas, Bulgaria.  Burgas is located on the coast of the Black Sea near where my wife and I made our annual summer pilgrimages to the beach.  During the summer of 2017, one of the side trips we enjoyed was to go into Burgas and stroll down the main walking streets lined with shops and a favorite second-hand/antique store.   The vendor on this particular visit was fun to talk with and to finally strike a deal with to acquire the 9 pipes that made their way to the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection available online for pipe men and women to commission benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria.The Lincoln is the second pipe – the straight Billiard – from the right in the picture below.  With the Lincoln London Style now on the worktable some pictures are taken go get a closer look. The nomenclature is stamped on the heel’s smooth briar panel.  Stamped is, LINCOLN over LONDON STYLE.  To the right of this is stamped, REAL SANDBLASTED [over] BRIAR.  The Lincoln logo is interestingly stamped on the right side of the stem (the normal being on the left side) with an encircled *L* (star-‘L’-star).I cannot remember seeing a pipe logo stamped on the right side of the stem.  With my curiosity piqued, a quick search finds a few Lincoln pipes listed for sale here and there.  The confusion is captured here with this Lincoln Sandblasted at one site and the undiscerning seller simply leaving the logo upside-down where it should be – the left side!I have two Lincolns in my For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection.  I acquired both at the same shop in Burgas but on different trips. The two Billiards are similar with the right-sided stem logo stamping and ‘Real Sandblasted Briar’ markings.  The only difference is that the Lincoln still in the ‘Help Me!’ Basket One is marked: LINCOLN [over] LONDON MADE rather than the LONDON STYLE on the Lincoln on the worktable now.  The other small difference is that the current London Style is 6 inches in length whereas the London Made is 5 and 3/4 inches in length.

I turned to Pipehil.eu to find a lone listing for ‘Lincoln’.  The example shows a ‘London Made’ stamping and the stem logo stamping is also on the right side of the stem.  Looking to Pipedia, nothing turns up in the search bar for ‘Lincoln’.  Turning again to my prized copy of ‘Who Made That Pipe?’ by Wilczak and Colwell, a few leads emerge.The only UK leads referenced are W. H. Carrington, Sasieni, Higgs Bros (Lincoln IMP).  The W. H. Carrington listing is also referenced in Pipedia (See: Carrington).  The short article is:

H. Carrington & Co. was founded by William Henry Carrington, and located at 53 Thomas Street, Manchester among several other addresses. Carrington lists his profession as tobacconist as early as the 1891 census, following in his father John Carrington’s footsteps. The firm first registered a silver hallmark in Chester in 1888 and in Birmingham’s Assay Office in 1891. Carrington pipes in both briar and meerschaum with silver have been seen marked “W.H.C.”.

H. Carrington was in operation for nearly a century before going out of business.

The pictures shown in this article point to early examples of hallmarked silver fitments (late 1800s/early 1900s).  The article references that the company functioned for a century before closing.  The first hallmark was registered in 1888 which would suggest that the company produced pipes until the 1980s.  The company is described being in Manchester whereas the examples of Lincolns I have indicate a London origin.  I did find other examples of WHC marked pipes listed (see: LINK) but could find no current description of the W. H. Carrington & Co. nor any connection with Lincoln.

Looking for a Lincoln connection to Sasieni likewise resulted in nothing.  The Higgs Bros referenced pointed again to the late 1800s hallmark information.  Lincoln is mentioned but nothing more.  Interestingly, other listings on the same page would suggest that ‘Lincoln’ in the listing is referencing a place of origin rather than a line – Lincoln, England.  This clipping shows the scant information but with the Lincoln, England, marked as the origin.One additional piece of anecdotal information I found is a description of a Lincoln for sale in Smoking Pipes.com showcasing a Lincoln London Made Sandblasted Billiard:

A nice, classic Billiard can be a work horse of a pipe. This Lincoln (most likely named after the town in England) should prove a good smoker when the time allows. – Adam Davidson

The research is scattered regarding a concrete understanding of the company origin of the Lincoln on my worktable.  What is consistently understood is that the only examples of Lincolns are classic blasted Billiards.  They consistently present the Lincoln stem logo on the right side of the stem and they are stamped London Style or Made.  The feel of the pipe would not surprise me that it was produced in the 60s, but this is only a guess.

Looking now more specifically at the blasted Billiard on the table – the add above describes well the pipe as a “work horse of a pipe”.  Billiards are the heavy lifters of pipes in the pipe world, no doubt.  When you add the blasted surface, it is almost like adding ‘draft horse’ to the description – horses that are exceedingly strong and pull the loads that others can’t.  So, here is my horse version of this Lincoln Blasted Billiard (LINK) on my worktable!

The chamber has a thick cake build up which needs to be removed to allow fresh briar to have a clean start.  The picture is lightened to allow the chamber to be seen.The rim is worn around the edges showing raw briar and on the rear of the outer rim.  This shows a deterioration of the briar – it slopes a bit showing the damage. The blasted surface is exceptional – it’s a genuinely nice classic blasted surface.  The surface is dirty and grimy and needs cleaning.  The stem shows tooth chatter on the bit and oxidation.To begin the recommissioning of the Lincoln London Style, the focus is on the stem.  First, the stem airway is cleaned using several pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 99%.  It was dirty and took a bit of time.With the airway cleaned, the Lincoln stem joins other pipes’ stems in the queue in a soak using Briarville.com’s Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover as I continue to test this new (to me) product’s effectiveness. After soaking for about 24 hours, the stem is removed and using a dry cotton pad raised oxidation is wiped off the vulcanite stem surface.  This is followed by scrubbing the stem with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 99% to remove more raised oxidation.The stem is then treated with paraffin oil to start the reconditioning of the vulcanite.  So far, the Briarville Oxidation Remover has worked well.  I will continue to use it and see how it goes.Next, the attention turns to the stummel.  Using the Pipnet Reaming Kit, 3 of the 4 blade heads available were accommodated by the chamber measuring 1 5/8 inches deep and 7/8 inches wide.  Following the reaming, the Savinelli Fitsall Tool reaches down into the chamber to scrape more carbon cake off the walls.  Finally, 240 paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen clears and cleans the remaining carbon.  After an inspection of the chamber, healthy briar is evident, and I move on.Transitioning now to cleaning the external surface, undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap is used with a cotton pad. A bristled toothbrush also helps to clean the blasted briar surface and a brass wire brush helps with the rim.  Brass is used because it scrubs without being too invasive with the briar.The stummel is then taken to the sink where the cleaning continues using shank brushes and anti-oil liquid dishwashing soap.  Warm to hottish water is used to scrub the internal mortise. After a thorough rinsing the stummel is back on the worktable.Continuing the internal cleaning, a bunch of cotton buds and pipe cleaners are used as well as scraping the mortise wall with a small dental spoon.  The internals were in pretty bad shape and when the buds finally started lightening up, I decide to stop for now.  At the end of my workday, I’ll continue the cleaning by giving the stummel a kosher salt and alcohol soak through the night.  This helps to draw out the remaining tars and oils from the internal briar.After the cleaning of the external briar surface, I look at the results.  The rim’s worn and deteriorated external edge is evident in the next few pictures.  Raw briar shows the wearing, especially on the back side of the rim.The finish has been removed in large measure by the cleaning – this is not really surprising.  The pictures show the blasted surface very nicely with many bald spots of briar. I’ve come to a decision point in the restoration process.  The rim damage needs addressing.  The following two pictures focus on the damage and deterioration of the outer rim edge.  The first picture is from the steward’s perspective looking down the stem.  The back of the rim tapers down with the huge skinning of the briar.  This probably happened as the former steward knocked the stummel’s back edge on a hard surface to remove ash using the stem as a handle.The next picture is the perspective looking from the right side of the stummel.  You can easily see the disparity between the front of the rim (on the right side of the picture) and the tapered, worn off briar on the rear (the left side).  I’ve marked the angle of drop-off in the photo.Topping the stummel would be the normal call with a smooth briar stummel.  However, to top the stummel of a blasted surface means that either you leave the new rim as a smooth briar surface contrasting with the rough blasted surface – which can be a very nice and attractive option – or it means that after the topping, burrs are used to rusticate the rim seeking to emulate a blasted surface texture.  It goes without speaking, the stummel will be the recipient of a fresh application of dye to finish it.  The restoration purist, I suppose, would opt toward recreating the blasted rim without question.  I personally like the smooth/rough briar surface contrasting – it can look classy.  I decide to give some thought to the options and call it a day.

Before I do, the internal cleaning continues with a kosher salt and alcohol soak through the night.  To begin, a cotton ‘wick’ is created by pulling and twisting a cotton ball.  This wick serves to draw oils and tars out of the briar during the soak process.  The wick is guided down the mortise to the draft hole with the help of a stiff wire that I cut from a wire closet hanger.  Kosher salt then fills the chamber and the stummel is placed in an egg carton for stability through the night.  Kosher salt is used instead of regular iodized salt because it will not leave an aftertaste.  Isopropyl 99% then fills the bowl until it surfaces over the salt using a large eye dropper.  After 10 minutes or so, the alcohol is absorbed, and more alcohol is added to top it off.  The lights are then switched off!The next morning a picture shows the soiling of the cotton wick and salt showing that some cleaning activity was continuing through the several hours soak.  After clearing the expended salt to the waste, the bowl is wiped with paper towel and I blow through the mortise to make sure salt crystals were removed.  To check the cleaning, a few cotton buds wetted with isopropyl 99% confirm that the internals are clean and refreshed for a new steward.  I love the fresh smell of the chamber after using the kosher salt and alcohol soak.After sleeping on it, I decide to top the stummel and then rough it up with burrs to emulate the blasted surface.  Using the chopping board on my worktable, after taking a starting picture, the inverted stummel is rotated over 240 grade paper. I stop the rotation often to check the progress making sure that the topped plane is level and not dipping. The Billiard bowl, fortunately, has significant height and the loss of briar on the top will be negligible.  The goal is to take off as little briar as possible to erase the raw briar along the outer edge of the rim.  The raw briar indicates that the rim has worn away and deteriorated.  The aft of the rim will be the most stubborn as the deterioration is most acute there.  The pictures show the gradual process of topping the stummel. At this point, I stop the topping process.  There is still a bit of rim damage evident on the aft quadrant but I’m hopeful that after roughing the rim surface with burrs, this damage will blend away.  The topping resulted in a nicely rounded chamber and an even rim diameter – this is good! One of my briar dust donor bowls volunteers allowing me to test the burrs that I’ve chosen to use.  The general goal is to emulate a blasted surface on the rim.  The guiding principle I use is ‘less is more’ with this.  Pictures of the original Lincoln rim displayed a gentler texture on the rim and not as distinctive as the bowl surface.  You can always add MORE texture with a burr but you can’t remove it without sanding.  I first try the round burr.I gently tap the burr over a portion of the rim to see how it behaves.  I like what I’m seeing.I add to this the cylindrical burr and randomly ‘dance it’ over the previous burr’s work.  Again, I’m liking what I see.  I’m looking for more subtlety.With the dry run completed, the Lincoln takes the stage. The first phase is random taps and curves using the rounded burr.  I use a light touch to avoid deep ravines and digs.  After working around the rim, I’m liking what I’m seeing.Following with the cylindrical burr, again the movement is uniform randomness writing, dancing, and dragging gingerly over the rim surface.  The final close up shows the finished roughed surface.  I think it will blend very nicely.The next step is to apply a dark dye to refresh the blasted surface of the bowl and to cover and blend the refurbished rim.  First, the bowl is wiped with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean the surface.  A few fresh pictures are taken to show the starting point of the needy blasted surface.From the pictures I’ve seen of Lincolns online and the Lincolns in my own collection, the sense I get is that the finish is very dark.  I use a dark brown base and mix a small amount of black dye with it to take it to the next level of a darker brown hue.  Fiebing’s Leather Dyes work well.  After the Dark Brown is put in a small mixing glass, a few drops of Black dye are added and mixed with the toothpick.  The toothpick coloring gives me a clue to the mixture balance.  Using the hot air gun, the stummel is warmed to open the briar and to make it more receptive to the dye.After heated, the Fiebing’s Leather Dye mixture is applied in sections moving around the bowl using a folded pipe cleaner.  With each section painted, the wet aniline dye is flamed with a lit candle immediately combusting the alcohol base of the dye.  The combustion lasts a few seconds leaving behind the embedded pigment of the dye in the briar. After painting and flaming the entire surface, including the refurbished rim, the stummel is set aside for several hours allowing the new dye to settle.Turning now to the Lincoln straight tapered stem, I take fresh pictures of the tooth chatter on the upper and lower bit.  To minimize and maybe erase most of the chatter, the heating method is used.  Using a Bic lighter, the flame is painted over the bit sides and with the heating of the vulcanite, the rubber expands and regains its original condition or in some degree.  After painting, the before pictures are compared to the after pictures to show the results.  I believe there’s some improvement, but all should be removed through sanding.  Using the flat needle file, the button lips are refreshed.  The remaining tooth chatter is removed using 240 sanding paper on the upper and lower bit.While the stummel is resting with new dye, I rejoin the stummel and stem with the sanding disk wedged between.  The disk protects against shouldering the stem facing as the 240 sanding expands to the whole stem.  During this sanding, care is given while sanding around the circled *S* stem logo.The sanding is next transitioned to wet sanding with 600 grade paper and then 0000 grade steel wool is applied. Next, the full regimen of micromesh pads is applied starting with wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400.  This is followed with dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads, Obsidian Oil is applied to condition the stem as well as help protect it from developing oxidation. After putting the stem aside, the stummel has rested through the night allowing the new dye to settle in.  To unwrap the crusted, flamed dye surface, a felt buffing wheel is mounted to the rotary tool set at about 30% full power – a bit slower to reduce the heat/friction.  Tripoli compound, a more abrasive compound, is used.I pause during the process to show the contrast and the results.  I like the natural lighter, reddish peaks appearing because of the felt wheel and Tripoli action.  Usually, with blasted surfaces, I will lightly sand the peaks of the blasted surface with a 1500 grade micromesh pad to create the lighting effect.  This effect helps to create a depth and texture contrast in the darker dye blasted surface background.  I like what I’m seeing! I rotate the wheel angle a lot to navigate the edge of the wheel to run down the crevasses to make sure the excess flamed dye is removed. After completing the application of Tripoli with the felt wheel, I change to a cotton cloth buffing wheel, increase the speed to about 50% full power and again apply Tripoli over the entire stummel.  I do this to continue removing excess dye that is compacted deeper in the crevasses missed by the firmer felt wheel.  The cotton cloth wheel can reach where the felt wheel could not. To blend the new dye and to remove excess, the bowl is wiped with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.After reuniting the stem and stummel, a different cotton cloth wheel is mounted to the rotary tool and Blue Diamond compound is applied setting the speed at about 40% full power.  This continues to fine tune and sharpen the features in the blasted surface.Both stem and stummel are then buffed after application of the Blue Diamond compound.  I do this to remove the compound dust before applying wax.With the stem and stummel separated, I have two more micro projects to do before applying wax.  First, to prevent dye leaching onto the fingers after the pipe is put into service, the bowl is warmed with the hot air gun to emulate the heating of the bowl in service.  Often, newly dyed bowls will leach and turn fingers a nice shade of brown.  After the bowl is thoroughly heated, it is buffed with an old cotton cloth to remove more dye leaching from the briar.  I don’t think leaching can be 100% prevented, but these procedures will certainly minimize the possibility.The next mini project is seeing if the Lincoln stem logo can be refreshed.  It looks solid enough to give the acrylic paint traction.A small drop of the white acrylic paint is spread over the entire logo.It is then daubed with the cotton pad to remove excess paint and to dry it.Well…, I wish I could say, presto, and here is the refreshed Lincoln logo, but I’m not able.  The paint would not hold in the treads of the logo imprint.  The best result I achieved, unfortunately, would have drawn attention to a half-baked stem stamping.  I would rather leave it as it is than leave it looking worse.  So, after reuniting the Lincoln stem and stummel, another cotton cloth buffing wheel is mounted to the rotary tool and with the speed set to about 40% full power, carnauba wax is applied to the pipe.  After a thorough application of wax, the pipe is given a rigorous hand buffing to raise the shine and to blend any excess wax on the blasted surface.I am pleased with the rustic, classic look and feel of this Lincoln London Style Sandblasted Briar Billiard.  He is without doubt a work horse pipe and ready to go again.  I am especially pleased with the repair to the rim and the emulated blasted surface that I was able to create.  The new blasted finish, well, it rocks.  The flecked reddish highlights of the blasted peaks give depth and eye-drawing appeal to the briar surface.  The Lincoln is available to be claimed from The Pipe Steward Store benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who were trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

A Mystery Pipe for Luxury – Discovering a Comoy’s St. Regis De Luxe Made in London England Apple


Blog by Dal Stanton

The large Apple now on the worktable came to me in September of 2017 in a Lot of 66 pipes from a seller in Georgetown, Texas.  The lot had belonged to a pipe man which had been donated by his family after his passing to a charitable organization to auction.  I was privileged to add these pipes to the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection for other pipe men and women to commission benefitting another good cause close to my heart, the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Many of these ‘66’ have made it to the collections of new stewards all over the world.  One pipe man, Nat, who is from South Florida, saw the St. Regis De Luxe and reached out to me about it.  Some years ago, I had met Nat briefly in my mother’s church in Stuart, Florida, and Nat had mentioned that he was the brother-in-law to one of my fellow work colleagues in Europe and my colleague (from Europe) had mentioned to Nat (in Florida) about The Pipe Steward and that Nat should have a look.  I love the fellowship of pipe men around the world!  Here are pictures of the St. Regis Nat commissioned. The nomenclature stamped on the left flank of the shank is, ST. REGIS [over] DE LUXE.  The right side of the shank is stamped the COM and shape number: MADE IN LONDON [over] ENGLAND and to the right is, 483.The saddle stem has a stamp with an ‘S’ encircled which I assume is referencing the ‘S’ of Saint.I have never worked on a St. Regis before this, and my research begins at all the normal places which offers nothing regarding a St. Regis line of pipes.  My normal beginning places, Pipedia and Pipephil.eu rendered nothing.  I looked at a variation of simply, ‘Regis’ without the ‘St.’ and still no traction.  Next, my ‘go to’ pipe bible, ‘Who Made That Pipe?’ by Herb Wilczak & Tom Colwell gave a listing for St. Regis, but it was attributed to a now-defunct Waldorf Pipe Company in the USA.  I discovered that it was a pipe factory in 1939 located in Chicago that was referenced as selling metal pipes at the same Chicago address attributed to another pipe company – Challenger Pipe Company located at 549 North Randolph Street.  An interesting trail, but for the St. Regis on my worktable with a Made in London England county of origin – Chicago was a rabbit trail.  Next, I did some ‘Hail Mary’ searches on the internet looking for a St. Regis pipe line – nothing.

In forensic research one must stay with the information at hand.  The next step in the research trail looking for some traction on the origins of the St. Regis De Luxe was the shape number.  The look and feel of the English pipe on my table takes my guessing back to at least the 1960s – just a guess.  I decided to look at the pipe shapes of English pipe makers to see if I could find a hit where the shape number 483 lined up with an Apple shape.  I looked at BBB, GBD and Ben Wade during this general period.  No hits – no ‘483s’ could be found in any of those shape lists.  I finally hit something that showed some promise – Comoy’s.  I have all these shape lists in virtual files on my computer for easy access.  The Comoy’s Shape List comes from Pipedia’s article (see: LINK).  This is a clipping of the 483-shape described as a ‘Globe’.The ‘S’ following the ‘globe’ designation points to a saddle stem which is straight (‘str.).  ‘L’ is Comoy’s ‘large’ designation.  When I first saw the ‘globe’ listing my question was, is this how the Apple shape was described when this list was compiled?  I went back to Pipedia’s page and found the picture of the basic Comoy’s shapes and hit confirmation pay dirt.Comparing the St. Regis De Luxe to the Comoy’s 483 Large Apple – Saddle looked like a positive match.  At this point, I’m thinking that St. Regis is most likely a second of Comoy’s.  The listing of Comoy’s seconds is found on Pipedia’s main Comoy’s article (see: LINK) which I’ve listed here:

Seconds made by Comoy’s

Academy Award, Ace of spades, Ancestor, Astor, Ayres, Britannia, Carlyle, Charles Cross, Claridge, Coronet?, Cromwell, Damman?, Dorchester, Dunbar, Drury Lane, Emerson, Everyman, Festival of Britain, Golden Arrow, Grand Master, Gresham, Guildhall, Hamilton (according to Who Made That Pipe), Kingsway, Lion’s Head, Lord Clive, Lumberman, Hyde Park, Lloyds, Mc Gahey, Moorgate, Newcastle, Oxford, O’Gorman, Rosebery Extra, Royal Falcon, Royal Guard, Royal Lane, Scotland Yard, St JamesSunrise, Super Sports, Sussex, The Academy Award, The Golden Arrow, The Mansion House, The Exmoor Pipe, Throgmorton, Tinder Box Royal Coachman, Townhall, Trident, Trocadero, Westminster, Wilshire

The closest listing is ‘St. James’ – no St. Regis.  These ‘seconds’ lists often give a disclaimer that the list is not exhaustive, so my thoughts are that this is a Comoy’s second that didn’t make this list.  To add further confirmation that the St. Regis was made by Comoy’s was to look at the COM stamping.  All line Comoy’s COMs are stamped with either an arched (very early), circular or rugby shape – ‘Made in England’ or ‘Made in London England’ – depending on period.  The COM on the St. Regis is a straight – ‘Made in London’ over ‘England’.  Not a rounded Comoy’s COM.  Yet, looking through the myriad of examples of pictures of seconds of Comoy’s in the same Pipedia article, the COM designs run the gamut.  All I wanted to do is find a second of Comoy’s COM to match the St. Regis’ COM design to be able to have confidence that Comoy’s did produce seconds with this COM design.  Two Comoy’s seconds,  ‘Gresham’ and ‘Astor’, provided that confidence.

At this point, I am sure I have found the ‘Lost Second of Comoy’s of London’ and I’m thinking about writing to Pipedia to add this information to the archives.  Instead, I send Steve a note describing the process of research I used, the evidence I found and my question whether the St. Regis could be a Comoy’s second?  Steve’s response came quickly and hit a home run!

Hey Dal

There are St. Regis Hotels in many locations. I am wondering if the pipe was not made by Comoy’s for a smoke shop in one of these Hotels. In days past most of the quality hotels had smoke shops in their facilities

Steve

Of course!  I could almost feel the nostalgia in Steve’s words!  I wrote back to Steve and described how when I did my earlier ‘Hail Mary’ online searches for ‘St. Regis’, the only thing that came up was information about hotels and destinations….  The most likely missing piece of the puzzle was already trying to get my attention and Steve’s email brought the puzzle into focus.  Oh, for the days when hotels had ‘smoke shops’ and one wasn’t concerned about political correctness and getting canceled for blowing smoke rings in public as is the case in today’s world!  It makes sense that the St. Regis De Luxe was a pipe made by Comoy’s of London for these luxury hotels to make available to their patrons.

This is the current St. Regis Hotel in London and a picture of a lounge area – perhaps back in the day can one imagine pipe smoke wafting….

With a better understanding of the Comoy’s origins of the St. Regis De Luxe Large Apple, I take a closer look at the condition of the pipe now on the worktable.  The pipe was well loved but apparently, not too well treated.  He’s in pretty rough shape.  The cake is very thick in the chamber with a good bit of damage to the rim and crusting.  Most of the damage is on the back side of the rim where the briar is scraped and worn down – most likely the flame lighting side.   The dip in the rear rim quadrant can be discerned from this angle.  What is also evident is that the upper quadrant of the bowl is significantly darkened around its circumference.  This possibly points to heating problems and the need of a close inspection of the chamber underneath the thick carbon buildup.The bowl is darkened from heating as well as grime on the surface that needs cleaning.  There are also several small fills which will need a closer look after cleaning the surface. The shank also shows several small fills. One fill is in the center of the COM.  This should be fun.The stem has heavy oxidation as well as calcium build up on the bit.  The bit looks like it’s been chewed pretty well.  The upper and lower bit has clinch marks, and the button has been worn down.To begin the restoration of the St. Regis De Luxe, I start with the stem.  The first step is to deal with the deep oxidation which is seen in the pictures above.  Before working on the oxidation, the stem’s airway is cleaned using several pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 99%.In my last write up of the Dr. Grabow Blasted Sculptura Bulldog, I tried for the first time a new product from www.Briarville.com called, ‘Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover’.  The St. Regis stem joined the Dr. Grabow stem to test the new product. The stems were put in the solution, which the smell reminded me of mouthwash, for the maximum period described in the directions on the label – 2 to 24 hours.  I wanted the stems to get the full impact of the Oxidation Remover, whatever it was.After the 24 hours, the St. Regis stem was removed and was first scrubbed with a dry cotton pad to wipe the residue that resulted through the deoxidation process.  The dry cotton pad was followed by a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to remove more raised oxidation. The stem was then conditioned using paraffin oil and set aside to dry.  Overall, I’m pleased with the result of the Briarville product and will continue to use it to see how it performs in the long term.With a bit of fear and trepidation, I turn now to the stummel.  The first step is to clear the thick carbon cake build up in the chamber.  I take a fresh picture of the thick cake to mark the starting point.The chamber is reamed with the Pipnet Reaming Kit using 3 of the 4 blade heads available.  Following this, the chamber walls are scraped with the Savinelli Fitsall Tool and finally sanded with 240 paper.  I’m wondering if this chamber has ever been reamed before this?I would be dishonest to say that I wasn’t surprised to find what was found after inspecting the chamber.  I expected to find heating veins and possibly fissures in the chamber wall.  Instead, I happily find what looks like healthy briar underneath the cake.  I’m thankful for this surprise!Next, turning to the cleaning of the rim and the briar surface, undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap is used on a cotton pad to begin the scrubbing.  A starting picture is taken as a reminder of the dark, grimy surface.The grime on the surface was thick and a brass wired brush was used additionally to work on the rim.The stummel was then taken to the sink along with shank brushes and the internal mortise walls were scrubbed with the brushes and anti-oil liquid dishwashing soap and warm to hot water.  After a thorough rinsing, the stummel returned to the worktable.  The next picture reveals that the finish was nonexistent after the cleaning.  The darker upper part of the bowl that I thought indicated heating problems was removed during the cleaning.To continue the internal cleaning, cotton buds and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 99% waged a fierce war against the thick gunk that had built up no telling how long!  A small dental spoon also excavated oils and tars off the mortise walls.  After a lot of effort, a truce was declared after the buds began to emerge lighter. I will continue the internal cleaning later at the end of the day with a kosher salt and alcohol soak through the night.Turning now to look more closely at the briar surface after the cleaning, it is no surprise that there is little if any of the old finish remaining.  The damage to the aft side of the bowl is evident and will need to be addressed.The dark shadow which I feared was darkening of the briar because of overheating turned out not to be the case.  The scrubbing generally removed the darkened area, but blotches remain on the surface.There are several small pit fills on the briar surface.  They seem to be solid after testing and probing them.  I’ll keep my eye on these as I clean the surface. One other thing that the cleaning reveals is that the chamber does have fine heating veins which are not problematic.  With the development and maintenance of a proper cake of a dime’s width, this should not develop into something worse.Next, to begin the restoration of the stummel, I begin with the rim and work downward. The following angle shows the area worn down as the rim dips on the back section of the rim.  To relevel the rim, topping will be necessary to sand down the high part of the rim to gain alignment with the dipped area. Using a chopping board and my portable topping board, a sheet of 240 sanding paper is placed on it.  With the stummel inverted, I start the process of rotating the stummel over the paper to sand down the rim to become even.  The tricky part is to keep the rim level and not to tip into the ‘soft’ dip as the stummel is rotated.After only a few rotations I stop to check the progress.  I can tell that I’m staying true to the plane of the rim because the paper is making contact only with the high briar and low dip remains out of reach of the sanding in the initial stages.The process continues slowly with a few rotations and checking to see the progress shown in the following pictures. I come to the point where the removal of more briar has diminishing returns.  The dip has been removed through the topping and the chamber is close to a good round.  The remaining dark area on the back right of the rim should be removed with the introduction of a bevel.To smooth the 240 sanding on the topping board, the paper is changed to a 600 grade paper and the stummel is rotated a few more times.  The finer sanding reveals the residual damage to the back of the rim.  There is a small fault briar running laterally in the rim. There is also a chip on the inner rim edge that is too deep for the topping to remove without taking off too much briar.Next, 240 paper is used to sand a bevel on the inner rim edge. The bevel helps to remove the charred briar on the edge as well as defining more crisply the chip on the inner lip which helps in the patching process.To address this chip, I apply briar dust putty.  Using a small amount of briar dust, it is mixed with regular CA glue on a piece of paper I have topped with scotch tape, so the glue is not absorbed.  I add a small amount of CA next to the briar dust and mix the briar dust in until it gets to the consistency of molasses. I then use the toothpick to trowel a small amount of putty onto the chip to fill it.  A small amount is applied on the rim top to fill the small crevasse running on the rim.I put the stummel aside for a few hours to have dinner – my wife just called – and to allow the patches to cure.After dinner and a few episodes on TV of our favorite, I return to the worktable and the rim patches are cured.  Using a half circle needle file, the patches are filed down flush with the briar – using the curve in the file to round the chamber side of the chip patch. Following the filing, 240 paper followed by 600 paper smooths and blends the chip patch as well as the rim top patch. It looks good.With the day ending, the internal cleaning is continued with a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  I use kosher salt because it doesn’t leave an aftertaste as does the regular iodized salt. Using a cotton ball, after stretching and twisting it to form a wick, it is then guided down the mortise to the draft hole with the help of a stiff wire.  The cotton wick helps to draw out the tars and oils from the internal briar.After the bowl is filled with salt, the stummel is placed in the egg crate to keep it stable and at the right angle – top of the bowl and the end of the shank are close to level.  Isopropyl 99% is then placed in the bowl with a large eye dropper until it surfaces over the salt.  After about 10 minutes, the alcohol is topped off after it is absorbed into the salt and cotton wick.  I put the stummel aside and turn out the lights.The next morning the soiling of the cotton wick and salt are indications that the soak process was at work.  After removing the expended salt and tossing it in the waste, the bowl is wiped with a paper towel and I blow through the mortise to make sure all the salt crystals are removed.To make sure that the internals are clean, and no residue is left behind, a pipe cleaner and 2 cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 99% are good indicators that all is clean and fresh for the new steward.  I move on.Looking now to the stummel briar surface, I will use sanding sponges to clean the myriad of nicks and stains.  To guard the very thin stampings, especially on the COM side, both shank stampings are covered with painter’s tape.   I then use 4 sanding sponges starting with a coarser grade moving to a medium and then finer sponges.  The results are good.  The grain begins to emerge through the sanding process and the surface is clearing of the nicks and dents.After the sanding sponges, I take another close look at the various small fills that are on the briar surface to make sure they are still looking good. They are solid and I move on to using micromesh pads to continue the sanding process. Starting with pads 1500 to 2400, the stummel is wet sanded.  Following this is dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  After using 5 pads in the process, the tape over the nomenclature is removed to help blend the resulting spot. At this stage of sanding, I’m not concerned that it will cause additional deterioration to the nomenclature.  The grain is coming through very nicely.   The next step in the process of the restoration of this Comoy’s St. Regis is to apply a dye to the stummel.  With all the fills and rim repair and with the shank spots left from the taping over the nomenclature, the decision to darken the stummel was not difficult.  I will use Fiebing’s Mahogany Leather Dye to do the job.  I decide to try Mahogany which has a slight lighter and more reddish tone than my usual approach in using Dark Brown.  I picked up the Mahogany to add to the dyes I have on hand and would like to see how it behaves.  After assembling the components needed to stain the stummel, the stummel is heated using a hot air gun.  This expands the briar grain and encourages the grain to be more receptive to the hue of the dye.With the stummel heated, the dye is applied in patches with a folded pipe cleaner.  A cork makes a good handle.  The aniline dye is then ‘flamed’ with a lit candle which immediately combusts the alcohol in the dye.  This combustion then sets the dye pigment into the grain.  After methodically painting and flaming the entire stummel, the stummel is put aside for several hours allowing the new dye to settle in.With the stummel on the side resting, I turn now to the stem and take a close look.  The Briarville Oxidation Remover seems to have done a good job with no oxidation that I can see now.  The upper and lower bits have bite compressions and the vulcanite over the stem is rough.  The vestiges of the circled ‘S’ stamp are remaining, and care is needed in protecting this.  The first step to repairing the stem is to use the heating method to expand the vulcanite allowing it to regain its original condition – or closer to it.  A Bic lighter is used to paint the vulcanite surface with flame.  The comparison pictures of before and after show the results.  The bite marks on the upper and lower bit are remarkably similar.  The heating did not erase the compressions, but I believe that sanding alone will do the job – without having to patch the indentations with CA glue. A flat needle file is used first to redefine and refresh the button lips – upper and lower.Next, 240 grade paper sands out the remaining compressions in the upper and lower bit.To smooth the vulcanite, the sanding is expanded to include the entire stem.  I sand around the logo stamping and use a plastic disk to guard from shouldering the stem facing.Next, the sanding transitions to wet sanding with 600 grade paper and then applying 0000 grade steel wool.Next, the full application of micromesh pads is utilized starting with wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400.  Following this, with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000, the stem is dry sanded.  Between each set of 3 pads, Obsidian Oil is applied to the stem to condition it and to guard against future oxidation.  I like the glassy pop resulting from the process. With the stem now waiting in the wings, I turn back to the stummel which has been resting for several hours after the application of Fiebing’s Mahogany Leather Dye.  This is the first time I have used Mahogany and I’m curious to see how it will render grain definition after ‘unwrapping’ the flamed crust.  Using Red Tripoli compound with a felt buffing wheel mounted to the rotary tool, the process of removing the crust of flamed dye is done with a slower speed – about 30% full power rather than my usual 40%.  I do this to reduce the heat buildup happening with the more abrasive compound and felt wheel combined together ‘bulldoze’ the surface.I enjoy the unwrapping process to watch the newly dyed grain appear.  I expected the Mahogany to have a slightly redder hue than straight dark brown and what I see looks good.   A few pictures show the process.  The veins of the grain have absorbed the dye giving a luminescent quality to the briar as the Mahogany-darkened grain contrasts with the lighter soft briar. As the felt buffing makes progress very slowly, it is purged often on a hard edge to clean it of the crusted dye collected and to soften it.Again, using Tripoli compound, a cotton cloth buffing wheel is mounted, and the speed is increased to about 50% full power and I give another round of buffing to remove more excess dye which sharpens the grain definition.  The cotton wheel is also able to reach into the crook of the shank/bowl junction to remove excess dye crust better not as accessible as well with the less flexible felt wheel.Following the Tripoli compound the bowl is wiped with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  This is done not so much to lighten the dye but to remove more excess and to blend the new dye. After rejoining the stem with the stummel, another cotton cloth wheel is mounted on the rotary maintaining 40% full power speed.  Blue Diamond compound is then applied to the pipe to achieve an even more brilliant shine with the lesser abrasive compound.After the Blue Diamond is applied, the entire pipe is buffed with a felt cloth.  This is done to remove the compound dust from the surfaces before application of the wax.  Before applying the wax, the stem logo needs refreshing.  By the looks of the logo, I can already tell that the left side of the logo has worn away too much and will most likely not hold the acrylic paint. Using white acrylic paint, a drop of paint is placed over the circled S.The paint is then daubed with a cotton pad to absorb the excess and dry the paint.The side of the pointed cotton bud is used to lightly scrape over the logo removing the excess surface paint from the stem surface.  What is left is what I expected – a logo not fully intact but showing some of its former condition.The home stretch!  Another cotton cloth buffing wheel is mounted on the rotary tool at 40% speed.  Carnauba wax is applied to the pipe.  After application of the wax, the pipe is given a hearty hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further and to disperse and excess waxy residue.This Comoy’s St. Regis De Luxe Apple certainly made a surprising reappearance!  If he could only talk!  Steve and I believe he was made by Comoy’s for the luxury hotel chain, St. Regis, back in the day when quality hotels had their own tobacconist shops catering to the customers’ needs – pipe men and cigar aficionados situated in leather chairs with drinks of choice adding to the pampered moment.  A day gone by 😊.  Nat commissioned the Comoy’s St. Regis Made in London, England, and will have the first opportunity to claim him from The Pipe Steward Store benefitting the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls that were trafficked and sexually exploited.  To recall just how far this Comoy’s St. Regis has come, a ‘before’ picture starts us off!  Thanks for joining me!

 

Refreshing a Dr. Grabow Sculptura Blasted Bulldog while Testing a New Deoxidizer Product


Blog by Dal Stanton

My friend and fellow pipe man restorer, Dave Shane (see: The Pipery.com) donated the pipe now on the worktable, the Dr. Grabow Sculptura, along with 12 other pipes.  Dave and I worked together several years ago in Ukraine.  Our paths met again in January of 2018 when I was in the US from Bulgaria and went to his home in the Atlanta area to catch up.  After much talk, some adult beverages and of course, sharing a few bowls together, Dave gifted me these pipes to benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria.  Some have already found their way to new stewards and the Dr. Grabow (in the picture on the far right) caught the attention of another friend and fellow pipe man, Todd.

Todd has already commissioned several pipes from The Pipe Steward and is an active contributor on several Facebook groups dedicated to pipe men and women and their pipes and tobaccos.  I became aware that Todd was an attorney specializing in international issues and especially China when he commissioned his first pipes in September of 2018 while I was still living in Bulgaria.  I had written to him asking for more patience to ‘bump him’ a bit in the queue so I could restore a special pipe commissioned by Chrystal, who was visiting us in Sofia from China. Chrystal had chosen a pipe to take back to China as a special gift for her grandfather (see: A Special Gift for Her Grandfather in the People’s Republic of China – A Sculpted Rose Billiard of Italy).  It was a special visit and write up where I was able to include great pictures of Chrystal with her grandfather and his new pipe that she had sent upon her return to the People’s Republic of China.

When Todd found out why he was being ‘bumped’ I then found out about his work and special focus and devotion to China as a country and culture.  Over time I have appreciated getting to know Todd more and we have made commitments to have bowls together when our paths ever get close enough!  I have restored some nice, collectable pipes for Todd and when he wrote me about commissioning the Dr. Grabow, along with a few other ‘low-end’ pipes, as he described them, I was intrigued.  Through our communications about commissioning the Dr. Grabow, I discovered that Todd and I share a similar view on the cost of a pipe not necessarily an accurate indicator of a better smoking experience.  Todd wrote:

I recently acquired a couple of Dr. Grabow and Kaywoodie and other older, “low-end” pipes in good condition from eBay and found the old briar to be very tasty.  As you may know, I try to reject the snobbery inherent in every aspect of so much of life; I enjoy a $10 Wrangler shirt from Walmart as much as a $100 shirt from Brooks Brothers, if not more; it fits and looks great, and that’s my major concern; the lower price is also a big help.  Snobbery is present in this hobby also.  Pipe making at $750.00 a pop is certainly good work if you can find it.  However, in my humble experience, there seems to be negligible equivalency between price and briar quality of smoking, unless of course, Covid19 has deadened my faculty of taste. Enough of my useless pontificating.  Please take a look at those six pipes and let me know your ideas. And please remember that your fine work is well appreciated by me and, I believe, many others in our hobby.

My response to Todd’s comments expressed my agreement:

Todd, I’m in total alignment with you about named pipes vs. basket pipes not being an indicator of how well a pipe smokes.  And I think you would agree, that so many ‘low end’ pipes are only ‘low end’ because they were on more of a conveyor line when they were manufactured.  Many of my restorations show that TLC with a no name throw away can produce an absolute treasure.

I know that there are many Dr. Grabow enthusiasts out there and to call a pipe a low-end pipe does not mean a ‘cheap’ pipe!  Sometimes of course, this IS the case, but my experience has shown that with a little help, pipes that do not cost an arm and leg can look like a million and smoke just as well as the more expensive pipes out there.  This is the first Dr. Grabow that I’ve worked on that is not upgrading an Omega – Dr. Grabow’s version of a system pipe.  Here are some pictures of the Dr. Grabow Sculptura Blasted Bulldog which whispered Todd’s name in the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection which he commissioned: The nomenclature is found in a smooth briar panel on the lower right panel of the Bulldog’s characteristic diamond shank.  Stamped there is, SCULPTURA [over] DR. GRABOW.  I could find no other markings.The classic Bulldog is a fun shape and always seems to rustle up images of a bulldog smoking a pipe – but not necessarily a Bulldog shape!  The blasted Sculptura looks like Grabow’s attempt at a value pipe and it’s not half bad.  The diamond shank nickel cap/extender is interesting giving this Bulldog more of an ‘elegant’ reach than the normal short, stubby reach of the classic Bulldog.  The blasted finish is not bad too and has somewhat of a ‘Dunhill’ hue going for it with the deeper reddish tones nuancing the dark finish.

Pipedia’s short comment about the Sculptura line of Dr. Grabow in the History Timeline article states that the line was introduced in 1967 and registered by HL&T in 1972 (See  Henry Leonard & Thomas Inc. for more information about company acquisitions when Linkman sold to HL&T in 1955 and operations were moved from Chicago to Greensboro, NC).  More specific information is uncovered in the Pipedia Dr. Grabow article focusing on the myriad of Grabow models, series and lines through the years:

SCULPTURA (c1967-69?) — Newest of the RJR special offer pipes. These were sandblasted in a “big” blast. The operator stood with his hands in heavy rubber gloves and blasted away grain. He could only do about 50 pieces an hour. Prior to this, most “sandblasted” pipes were tumbled in a contraption like a cement mixer using walnut shells as the media. Dr. Grabow really never got into that but waited until they could do it “right” using glass shot.

The Sculptura line was without shape numbers and was a Grabow line which was exclusively sand blasted pipes of various shapes.  We know from this article that Sculpturas were produced ‘properly’ using the processes pioneered by London’s Dunhill.  The Sculptura was considered a ‘newer’ line of pipes because they were introduced after the acquisition that moved the Grabow production from Chicago to North Carolina.  The history of the Dr. Grabow pipe name can be explored further at Pipedia’s main Dr. Grabow article (See: LINK) which is a good read describing the history.  I would be remiss if I didn’t refresh the memory of how the Dr. Grabow name started for a line of pipes and continues to be a much-loved pipe by many which can be evidenced in a quick look at The Dr. Grabow’s Collector’s Forum.   I repeat in its entirety a Pipedia article written by the grandson of the ‘original’ Dr. Grabow, entitled, The Legend of Dr. Grabow (Written October, 2005, by Paul W. Grabow, and courtesy of DrGrabow-pipe-info.com [now defunct]):

Dr. Grabow Pipes are named after Dr. Paul E. Grabow (my deceased Grandfather), a general-practitioner physician formerly with an office on the northeast corner of Fullerton and Halsted in Chicago. His youngest son was Mr. Milford P. Grabow (my Uncle) who passed away January, 2005 in Chicago. Dr. Grabow’s other son (my Father, deceased in 1979) was Dr. William S. Grabow, a dentist who practiced in Chicago and Evanston, IL.

Milford Grabow recently recounted details of the Dr. Grabow Pipe legend in a letter to me as follows:

“To start from the beginning, the old homestead was on 2348 Seminary Ave. (Chicago) before the De Paul University bought and tore down the whole area to expand the campus. Three doors north on 2400 Seminary Ave. (corner of Fullerton) was Brown’s Drug Store, one of the old fashion community Drug stores that was popular of that area and was owned by Brown the Druggist. It had the usual ice cream counter and wire chairs and tables to serve sodas and sundaes. My Father became fast friends with his fishing buddy the Druggist. Most every weeknight after dinner while Mom did the dishes, Pop would visit Mr. Brown in the back room of the store and they would have weighty discussions about world events, fishing, politics, sports, etc. while smoking their pipes. One block west on Fullerton on the corner of Racine was the large pipe factory owned by Mr. Linkman. Mr. Linkman, when he wasn’t too busy, would join the other two in their bull sessions and the three became fast friends.

It was during one of their nightly sessions that Mr. Linkman mentioned that he was coming out with a new pipe containing some innovated improvements and was looking for a name for it. He thought if it contained a Doctor’s name it would probably sell well so he asked my Father if he would mind if he could use the Dr. Grabow name as he liked the sound of it. My Father liked the idea and was flattered to have a pipe named after him. So Mr. Linkman used the Dr. Grabow name without any formal agreement but just a “friendly understanding.”

As a child in the 1940’s and 1950’s, I remember how Grandpa loved to smoke his Dr. Grabow pipes. The pipes were generously provided to him at no cost b