Tag Archives: article by Lee Neville

Restoring and Restemming a Savinelli Capri 915


Blog by Lee Neville

Over the past few months I have been continuing my correspondence with Lee via email. He picked up a couple of pipes for me at a local antique shop in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and sent them to me. We have fired emails back and forth on restoration questions and issues. He also included Charles Lemon of Dad’s Pipes in the conversations and we had a great time. Earlier this week he sent Charles and me an email about a restoration of another pipe that he restemmed. Charles and I spoke with him of the style and size of stem to use. He did a great job on the restemming and the description of the work so I asked him if I could post it on rebornpipes. He was glad to have me do so. Thanks Lee for your work and this second write up. It is great to have you on rebornpipes as a contributor once again! – Steve

Thought I would share my pipe rehabilitation effort of a Savinelli Capri 915.  It showed up in the Winnipeg Ebay lot as a dirty stummel with a snapped-off stem tenon wedged into its shank. Alas, the original stem was not included in the lot.

This is a “Birks” pipe – Henry Birks & Sons, or what it’s now known by these days – “Maison Birks”, is a Montreal-based jewellery/glassware/fine leather goods/timepieces/ silver & gold flatware / object d’art firm in business here in Canada since the late 1800s.  It appears Birks would commission pipes from manufacturers and stamp them with their house name and offer them for sale during special promotions – Christmas, Father’s Day etc.  This Savinelli is the first of two “Birks” pipes I’ve got on my bench to restore.The plan is to clean this stummel up to the natural briar,  treat it to a wax protective finish and fit a replacement stem.  This will be fun as I just received the PIMO stem tenon cutter tool which will make short work of fitting a properly sized tenon on a replacement stem blank.

Stummel clean up
The bowl was in good shape. The rim showed minor discolouration from lighting.  The rim was not obscured by any lava. The previous owner was not a dottle-knocker – luckily no dents or chips on the bowl rim.  I reamed the bowl out with my newly arrived Pipnet set – I started with the smallest head, applying light twisting force and allowing the tool to make its way into the bowl.  This was repeated by the following two larger reaming heads to remove existing cake close to briar.  This was followed by twists with a dowel covered with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the remaining cake, then more twists with 320 / 400 grits to finish the bowl interior smooth. There are no cracks or burnouts in the bowl. The shank cleaned up with a few runs of alcohol-soaked pipe cleaners and q-tips.

I attacked the stummel with a soft toothbrush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the rim discolouration and surface dirt/grease. The accumulated grunge lifted right off after two scrubbing sessions.  I was delighted to see the proprietary sandblasting/rustication is scarcely worn – the deep relief is quite attractive.

The stummel was then covered with masking tape. I clamped the padded stummel in my dremel vise and using a drill bit sized just over the ID of the snapped off stem tenon, ran it in a smidge gently, then reversed the drill and the tenon remnant came out with the drill bit.  This revealed a very fine crack in the mortise end of the stummel.  Using thin CA glue, I lightly dabbed the crack, watching it wick into the crack, then sprayed accelerant to instantly set the glue.  I lightly sanded the mortise face and mortise with 1000 grit paper to ensure any glue squeeze-out was removed before attempting to fit replacement stem

Fitting a new stem
I viewed the Savinelli web site to glean pipe proportions (stummel to stem) as well as canvassing yourselves for your thoughts on replacement stem length. I also found a high-definition image of a Capri 915 online.  Applying some ‘Edmonton Windage’, I ordered an oval tapered stem blank in a 2.25″ length from Vermont Freehand Pipes.

The stem blank on arrival was a bit wider than the stummel shank, so there was some filing and final sanding required to match the stem to the shank profile.

I mounted the replacement stem into the vise and drilled the stem draught hole to accept the guide rod of the PIMO stem tenon cutting tool.  I then mounted the PIMO stem tenon cutting tool and gently took a succession of cuts to arrive with a couple of thou of tenon final size.  I used a strip of 320 grit sandpaper to work the circumference of the tenon to a snug fit into the stummel mortise.  I used a variety of tools to flatten the stem tenon face so it would meet up with stummel mortise surface properly – needle files, sandpaper, a few licks with a very small chisel – all under a magnifier lens working the stem mating surface – testing fit/working it/test fit/working it until I got the proper fit.

Rough file work was then required to narrow the stem.  This took about an hour.  I then worked in the round with a file to shape the circumference of the stem to match the stummel profile. Last steps were using 220 sandpaper to work the circumference down as close to the final dimension. I followed that with 400 and 600 grit sandpaper.  I was now a scant hairs-width proud on the stem.  I then replaced the masking tape covering the stummel shank with clear scotch tape and brought the stem into line with the shank profile with 1500 and 1800 micro mesh pads.I filed the stem button into shape and from that point on, it was just applying a succession of micro mesh pads to 12000 to polish the replacement stem. Here is the clean stummel and new stem before finishing.Finishing the Pipe 
I treated the stummel to a coat of Howards Feed and Wax (beeswax, carnauba and citrus oils), let it sit for 30 minutes, then wiped off the excess, followed with a thin coating of carnauba wax over the whole pipe and a rub in with a polishing brush.  Using a cotton buff on my Dremel at 4000 rpm, I ran the buff over the entire pipe to bring out the shine. This pipe cleaned up very nicely and is a joy to hold.  I had fun fitting a new stem that is in proportion to the stummel and I think it’s a close resemblance to the stem originally fitted to the pipe.

Thank you Charles and Steve for your help on stem selection.

Onward and upwards!

Lee 

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Repairing a Broken Shank on a Sandblast Kriswill Golden Clipper 1803 Apple


Blog by Lee Neville

Over the past few months I have been in correspondence with Lee via email. He picked up a couple of pipes for me at a local antique shop in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and sent them to me. We have fired emails back and forth on restoration questions and issues. He also included Charles Lemon of Dad’s Pipes in the conversations and we had a great time. Earlier this week he sent Charles and me an email about a restoration of a pipe that he did using the internal tube to repair a broken shank. He did a great job on the restoration and the description of the work so I asked him if I could post it on rebornpipes. He was glad to have me do so. Thanks Lee for your work and write up welcome to rebornpipes as a contributor! – Steve

Thought I would share my latest pipe rehabilitation effort of a Kriswill Golden Clipper – Model 1803.  This is the sandblast variant of the 03 shape. It showed up in the Winnipeg EBay lot I purchased and was in two pieces – stem (still attached to its snapped off shank) and the bowl itself.  I tried to remove the stem from the snapped off shank – without luck –  stuck tight. The bowl and shank had broken crookedly transversely across the shank – the break measured between 4mm and 8mm from the bowl body. I’m thinking it occurred when someone tried to pry and twist the stem out of the shank while holding on to the bowl.  The tars holding the stem fast held while the shank and bowl parted ways. In all, a stark example why one cannot use the bowl for leverage when trying to removing a reluctant stem from a shank.  Cue Yosemite Sam screaming “Whoa Mule! Whoooooahhh!!!”.There is also a crusty / gummy residue on the broken bowl and shank surfaces indicating a previous failed glue repair. I’m excited and eager to try my hand at a hidden brass tubing reinforcement glued up inside the shank & bowl as part of this repair.

Bowl Rehab
The bowl was packed full of foul smelling crust. The bowl edge is quite ragged – burned and charred in one area, a bit of a gouge just below the rim in another, damage/wear from dottle banging etc. around the periphery. As I could get to the bottom of the bowl from the exterior of the bowl,  I gently used a dental pick to pry manky tars, oils and burgey from the smoke channel. No doubt this build-up led to the welded-on stem and the situation at hand.

I scraped the carbon out of the bowl with a flexible knife blade, then removed the rest of the crust with some twists with a dowel covered with 220 grit sandpaper to work back to briar. I then used 320 / 400 grits over the dowel to finish the bowl interior to smooth. Luckily, there are no cracks, burnouts in this bowl.

I filled the gouge below rim edge at the 11 o’clock position with CA glue and briar dust to build this rim area up – this minimized the following topping effort. I didn’t want to significantly alter the geometry of the bowl.  Minimal is the key word here. Re-topping was followed by polishing the rim up to 4000 grit with micro mesh pads. I re-stained the rim with a stain marker to bring it back into line with the existing stain value.

I finished up the bowl exterior by scrubbing it gently with cotton pads moistened with water, then repeated with pads wetted with alcohol. Looking good.

Re-attaching the shank to the bowl
I soaked the stuck-together shank and stem in isopropyl alcohol overnight.  They easily pulled apart between the jaws of two pairs of padded pliers. Solvents 1 – Evil 0! The shank remnant stunk with old badness. I hit it with brushes and q-tips and was able to clean it out in 15 minutes of vigorous action.  I’ve cleaned dirty shotguns stem to stern quicker than this 25mm length of broken briar shank!

I used a dental pick to remove most of the remnants of dried glue from the shank and the bowl so they’d fit as closely possible when re-glued.  I then used the CA + spray accelerator product from Inoteca to glue the bowl to the shank. Applying a very thin layer of medium viscosity CA glue to both surfaces, I pressed them together, then hit the assembly with the spray accelerator.  Instant activation and hold. I left this overnight to cure, then the following evening removed the squeeze out from the joint with needle files.  This was followed with filling gaps in the glue line with briar dust and CA glue, needle filing and light sanding.

I applied random dabs of stain marker pen (dark oak and mahogany) to colour match the briar dust/CA fills around the glue line, then I blended these re-stained areas into the stummel with a q-tip moistened with alcohol.

Now for the hidden brass tubing reinforcement.  I bought a length of 5/32″ OD brass tube from a local hobby shop as its ID would be close to the stock diameter of the draught hole post repair. I measured approximately 14mm of briar body between the opening of the draught hole in the bowl bottom to the edge of the broken shank still attached to the bowl.  This meant I could use 20mm of tubing to span the break between the bowl body through the shank to the bottom of the stem mortise. The tube reinforcement will span the break area 10mm each way.

I cut a 20mm length of tubing and roughed up its external surface with needle files to provide additional physical bonding for the epoxy.  Inserting the bowl into my small Dremel bench vise with shank pointing to the sky, I drilled out the shank using a 11/64” bit to the desired depth. This 11/64” hole will allow room for the epoxy to fix the reinforcing length of tubing to the shank wall.

I gently flared one end of the brass tubing using a center punch. This flared end will drop and seat against the stem end of the 11/64” hole drilled in the shank.  I then mixed up a bit of JBWeld, generously smeared the exterior of the tubing with it, then threaded a vaselined pipe cleaner through the tube/glue mess.  The pipe cleaner functions as a guide for the tube to slide into the shank and will prevent epoxy from sealing the draught hole at the end of the tubing through to its opening at the bottom of the bowl.

I pressed everything home with a length of Q-tip stick and was gratified to feel the tubing seat its flared end at the top of the 11/64” hole drilled through the shank mortise.  I pulled the pipe cleaner through the tubing from the bowl end – ensuring any epoxy squeeze-out was cleared from the bottom of the bowl. I used Q-tips to remove any epoxy squeeze-out in the stem tenon area of the shank and left the epoxy to set overnight.

The picture below shows the flared end of the hidden tubing snugly glued below the bottom of the shank mortise in the stummel.Cleaning up the stem
The stem was horribly packed full – poking and prodding with brushes, pipe cleaners and picks, I worked both ends of the stem until it was clear. Then it went into an oxyclean bath to lift the oxidation.  Luckily, the Kriswill stamp was in good shape.  The next day, I removed the lifted oxidation with soft toothbrushes, 400 grit wet n’ dry and then moved quickly through the micro mesh pads through to 12000 grit, it came up bright and shiny.

Finishing the pipe
I slathered on a thick coating of Howards Feed and Wax (beeswax, carnauba and citrus oils) and rubbed it into the stummel to feed the thirsty briar. Gently buffed with a microfibre cloth.  I also treated the bowl to a coating of maple syrup + activated charcoal. I dabbed a bit of Testors white enamel into the stamping on the stem, then wiped the excess away – the Kriswill stamp is now very noticeable.

The stem married up to the stummel with little fuss – It looks good.  It’s a lovely pipe – a small rusticated apple with a delicate shank and stem. It’s a feather-light lovely example of Danish pipe making from the late 1960’s – early 1970s. I’m really looking forward to sparking it up.Again, thank you both (Charles Lemon of Dad’s Pipes Blog and Steve Laug of rebornpipes blog) for your exhaustive documentation around this procedure – I would have been in quite the pickle without your guidance. (I wish you both the very best in your adventures.)

Photos of the finished restoration are shown below. I am happy with the finished pipe and enjoying the fruit of my work.

The pipe dimensions are as follows:
Kriswill Golden Clipper – Model 1803
Bowl Height: 40mm
Bowl opening: 22mm
Max depth of bowl: 35mm
Max Bowl diameter: 38mm
Length of stummel: 65.28 mm
Diameter of shank: 11mm
Length of stem: 89 mm
Over all length of pipe: 155mm

Top View – showing the topping and stain blend.  I did radius the inside of bowl ever so slightly to bring it back into round.Right side of bowl – Detail. Bottom of bowl – showing rustication.Pipe in profile (the near side or right side) – love the proportions of this pipe – gee whiz they made them graceful back in the day!Pipe in profile (the far side or left side).