Tag Archives: article by Paresh Deshpande

Freshening Up A Pair Of WDC Meerschaum Bowl, Bakelite Base And Redmanol Stem Pipes In A Presentation Case Continued…


Blog by Paresh Despande

I had been working on a pair of WDC pipes that came in a beautiful well preserved Presentation case. I have completed researching and refurbishing the first pipe, a straight Bulldog. Though I had worked on both these pipes simultaneously, I have done the write up in two parts.

For detailed information on the brand and other general information about the pipe and material used here, please read PART I of this series.

PART II: – BENT BULLDOG

Initial Visual Inspection

The condition of the pipe points to the fact that this pipe has seen significantly more use than the straight Bulldog. There is a thick cake in the chamber with lava overflow over the rim top surface. The base and shank shows heavy accumulation of tars and crud. The brass rim top cover over the Bakelite base/ shank is also covered in dried oils and tars. The Bakelite shank is dull and covered in completely dried out dirt and grime. The brass shank band at the shank end shows signs of wear but not badly damaged. The Redmanol stem is dull and lackluster with a few tooth indentations on either surface in the bite zone. All said, the condition of the pipe is not bad at all. Detailed Inspection
The three parts of the pipe are as shown below. The condition of the short threaded meerschaum bowl, filthy Bakelite shank and the bent Redmanol stem with threaded tenon all point to heavy use.The Meerschaum bowl has a thick layer of carbon in the chamber. The cake is soft and dry. The single draught hole at the heel of the bowl is partially clogged restricting the aperture opening. There is a thick layer of lava overflow on the rim top surface. There are a couple of spots where the white of the Meerschaum peeks out of the rim top surface but these are just spots from where the dry soft carbon cake had peeled off. The threads at the bottom of the bowl have worn out a bit but still firmly threads in to the Bakelite shank without any give or play. The convex bottom of the bowl is covered in dried ash and crud. There are a few scratches, nicks and dings over the surface but they are all very minor and do not detract from the beauty of the bowl.   The Bakelite base/shank shows heavy accumulation of old dried oils, tars and ash in the trough that houses the Meerschaum bowl. The threads in the base are all intact but covered in oils and grime. The brass rim top ring is covered in grime. Close scrutiny of the shank surface under magnification revealed a crack (indicated in green) along the seam running from the top front of the bowl to about half way to the foot of the Bakelite base. I would first need to clean the internals of the base to ascertain if this crack extends inside. This was an unanticipated damage, but one that would need to be addressed. The mortise is clogged with dried oils and gunk making the draw laborious and constricted. The bent Redmanol stem is dull looking but with a nice cleaning and polishing will add to the visual treat of the completed pipe. The stem airway has darkened considerably due to dried gunk that accumulated along the walls of the airway. There is some minor tooth chatter and couple of deeper tooth indentations on either surface of the stem. The round orifice and the threaded tenon are covered in gunk. Overall, there is not much damage to the stem and should clean up nicely.The Process
In normal course, I would have addressed the shank repairs first. However, since I worked on the pair concurrently, I first reamed the chamber with my smaller fabricated knife followed by sanding the walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. This removes cake completely and evens out the chamber wall surfaces. I scraped off the dried oils and tars from the bottom of the bowl and also from in between the threads. A wipe using isopropyl alcohol on a cotton swab ensured that the carbon dust that remained is completely lifted from the wall surface and the ghost smells are eliminated. I was pleased to find smooth and solid chamber walls. With the sharp knife, I gently scraped off the lava overflow from the rim top surface. I would continue further cleaning of the rim top during the refurbishing process. As I working the Meerschaum bowl, out of the blue, a round thin ring come off the bottom of the bowl and my heart sank… Did the bottom of the bowl just break in my hand? I heaved a sigh of relief when I realized that it was nothing more than a spacer that was cut out of a Greeting card. But it was so well cut and matched, that it missed my inspection. Now I am beginning to understand why the bowls were interchanged on the pipes in the first place. The long neck Meerschaum bowl with three draught holes should belong to this bent Bulldog but was switched with the shorter neck bowl with single hole. The crack along the seam must have been opening up as the Meerschaum bowl was threaded in to the base, pushing the bowl further down in to the base. The long neck of the bowl scraped the heel of the base, restricting the air flow. Thus, the short neck bowl from the straight Bulldog was swapped with this long neck and the paper washer was installed to make the seating of the short neck Meerschaum bowl in to the base airtight. With this modification, the bent Bulldog became a better smoker than the straight Bulldog and hence was more extensively used.I wiped the external surface of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil soap on a cotton swab. While cleaning, I was especially deliberate around the threads and over the rim top surface as I wanted to get rid of the entire gunk from those areas. Though the bowl cleaned up well, the rim remains darkened, akin to burning marks. This would need more invasive methods to clean away. The scratches and dings that are now visible will be left as they are for being a part of the journey of this pipe till date. I wiped the bowl with a moist cloth to remove the soap and grime that was left behind. Using folded piece 220 grit sandpaper, I sand the rim top to remove the darkening over the surface. Though not completely eliminated, the rim surface looks now looks much better. I handed over the cup to Abha, my wife, to work her magic in polishing the cup. She polished the rim top surface and rim edges with micromesh pads. She then went on to dry sand the entire stummel with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth to remove the dust that was left behind by the sanding. I had requested her to minimize the scratches but not necessarily remove them. These lacerations and dings must have had a history and I wanted to preserve it. She did a fantastic job of polishing the meerschaum cup to a nice deep shine.  As Abha was polishing the Meerschaum bowl, I worked on the stem repairs. I first cleaned the stem surface and airway using anti-oil dish cleaning soap and thin shank brush and rinsed it under warm running water to remove the entire gunk from the airway. I also cleaned up the threaded tenon with a tooth brush and soap. To finish the cleaning, I ran a few bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol to remove the residual gunk from the airway and dry it out.   I next sand the bite zone with a 320 grit sandpaper to address the minor tooth chatter on either surface. I filled the deeper tooth indentations with clear CA superglue and set the stem aside for the glue to cure completely.  With the Meerschaum bowl polished by Abha and the stem repairs set aside for the fills to cure, I worked the Bakelite shank. With a fabricated tool, I scraped all the dried oils, tars and ash from the trough of the Bakelite base. I also cleaned the mortise by scraping out the dried gunk using my fabricated tool. As I was working on the shank, the brass cap over the shank rim top came free. I would need to reattach it once I was done with internal and external cleaning of the shank.Next, I cleaned the Bakelite shank with anti oil dish soap and tooth brush. I cleaned the shank internals and the mortise with shank brush and anti oil soap and rinsed it under warm water. The brass cap was scrubbed clean with the soap and Scotch Brite pad. The shank is now clean both from the inside and the outside. With the external and internal surface of the Bakelite shank cleaned up, the crack at the seam is now clearly visible. As I had expected, this crack extends to the inside of the shank also. Both these are encircled in red. I discussed with Steve and he advised that drilling of counter holes to arrest the spread of these cracks should be avoided as the Bakelite could shatter due to the impact of the drill machine. The best way to ensure a robust and lasting repair would be to lay a fine bead of CA superglue along the crack. The glue would seep into the crack and once hardened, would form a strong joint along the seam. I did just that and set the shank aside for the glue to cure.By next day afternoon, the fills had completely hardened. With a flat head needle file, I sand the fills to achieve a rough match with the rest of the shank surface. To further fine tune the match, I sand the fill with a 320 followed by 600 grit sandpapers. I sand the fill inside the Bakelite trough with the sandpapers only as it was not possible to use the needle file. I am quite happy with these repairs at this junction. The Redmanol stem fills too had hardened and I worked the fills with a needle file to match it with the rest of the stem surface. I fine tuned this match further by sanding it with a 320 followed by 600 grit sandpapers. The fills have blended in perfectly with the stem surface. Thereafter, I handed the stem over to Abha to polish it to a high gloss. After the stem was handed over to Abha, I polished the Bakelite base/ shank by wet sanding the surface with 800, 1000, 1500 and 2000 grit sandpapers. The Bakelite is now beginning to take on a nice shine.  Before moving on to final polish using micromesh pads, I decided to reattach the brass cap first. I polished the brass cap with a polishing compound that we get in India here. I rubbed the compound over the rim cap and wiped it using a soft cloth. I applied a small quantity of superglue along the rim top surface and pressed the rim cap over the rim top. I wiped the excess glue with a cotton swab wetted with alcohol.Next I polished the shank by dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil to the surface just to enhance the shine. All this while, Abha was quietly busy polishing the stem. She wet sanded the entire stem with 800, 1000, 1500 and 2000 grit sandpapers and followed it up by dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. The stem looks fabulous and I cannot thank Abha enough for the help and support she extends in this hobby of mine. Next I gave a beeswax polish to the meerschaum bowl. The process that I followed for this polish has been explained in Part- I and not being repeated here. The following pictures will give you an idea of the process and also of the end results. It was here that I had swapped the Meerschaum bowls and correctly matched them with their original pipes. While the Meerschaum bowl was soaking in the beeswax, I cleaned the external surface of the Presentation Box with Murphy’s Oil soap and cotton swab. I wiped the surface with a moist cloth to remove any residual soap from the surface. Next I applied some “Before and After” Restoration balm to the surface to rehydrate the wood and polished it with a microfiber cloth. To finish, I re-attach the Redmanol stem with the Bakelite shank. I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and setting the speed at 50% RPM, applied Blue Diamond compound over the shank and the stem surface. I wiped/ buffed the parts with a soft cotton cloth to clear it of any leftover compound dust. I then mounted another cotton cloth wheel on to the polishing machine and applied several coats of carnauba wax over the shank and the stem of the pipe. I finished the restoration by giving the pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. Have a look at the completed pipe below. And here are a couple of pictures of both the pipes in their Presentation Case. Thank you all for joining me on this path as I repaired and restored this fabulous piece of pipe history to its former glory and functionality.

Freshening Up A Pair Of WDC Meerschaum Bowl, Bakelite Base And Redmanol Stem Pipes In A Presentation Case


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

It’s been a while since I have sent Steve any write ups for posting on rebornpipes and it’s not because I have not been working on any. As a matter of fact, I had completed re-stemming and refurbishing of 4 un-smoked vintage bowls. These were c.1897 BBB OWN MAKE Billiard with long pencil shank that came with its original shop stickers on it, the second was a c.1901 A.D.P (Adolph Posener), the third was a c.1904 Imperial ITC bent billiard and the fourth was c.1911 A.O KEYSTONE (Adolphe Oppenheimer & Co). Unfortunately, I lost the photographs that I had taken of all the pipes during their refurbishing process and as such there was nothing for me to base my write ups on (yeah…I know even Steve has been suggesting that I do the write up simultaneously as I work!!).

Moving ahead, the next project that I selected to lift up my spirits was a pair of WDC Meerschaum bowled Bulldog pipes that came in its beautiful Presentation case. Both pipes appeared to be in a very good condition and should clean up well. Here are a few pictures of the pair and its case as it sat on my work table. This pair of pipes has three different materials used in its manufacture and that is what makes it unique and interesting. The chamber/bowl are made from Meerschaum which threads in to a Bakelite shank that has a brass (?) band at its end and bears its trademark inverted triangle stamped with as “WDC”. The stems are made of Redmanol, a beautiful translucent material that was widely used in the early part of the 20th century. I have worked on a few WDCs earlier and am pretty familiar with the brand’s history. I revisited rebornpipes where I had posted my previous WDC projects. Here is the link to the write up which will give readers a fairly detailed idea about the brand and a rough estimate as to the vintage of the pair of pipes on my work table.

https://rebornpipes.com/2019/04/05/sprucing-up-another-wdc-a-cased-bakelite-briar-dublin/

I visited rebornpipes.com and came across an interesting article on materials used in pipe making (https://rebornpipes.com/2014/08/09/hard-rubber-and-other-early-plastic-used-in-pipes-ronald-j-de-haan/)

It is here that I found the following information on “BAKELITE”:

These qualities made Bakelite the most successful synthetic material in the first half of the 20th century. From 1928 it was also produced as molded resin. Both the pressed and the molded forms were suitable for the pipe making industry. Pipes were made from Bakelite and molded phenol-resin. Complete pipes of Bakelite are very rare because of its lack of heat resistance. Phenol-resin however was frequently used for pipe mouthpieces and cigarette holders because it imitated amber.

Further search on rebornpipes got me to a write up that Steve had done on a Redmanol WDC pipe. Given below is the link to the referenced article.

https://rebornpipes.com/2020/05/26/life-for-a-wdc-redmanol-dublin-with-a-removable-redmanol-bowl/

I quote from the article…..

“I turned to Wikipedia for an article on Bakelite and Redmanol to remind myself of the connection between the companies (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakelite).

As the sales figures also show, the Bakelite Company produced “transparent” cast resin (which did not include filler) “artificial amber”, were machined and carved to create items such as pipe stems, cigarette holders and jewelry.[11][12] However, the demand for molded plastics led the Bakelite company to concentrate on molding, rather than concentrating on cast solid resins.[11]:172–174…

…The Bakelite Corporation was formed in 1922 after patent litigation favorable to Baekeland, from a merger of three companies: Baekeland’s General Bakelite Company; the Condensite Company, founded by J.W. Aylesworth; and the Redmanol Chemical Products Company, founded by Lawrence V. Redman.[13] Under director of advertising and public relations Allan Brown, who came to Bakelite from Condensite, Bakelite was aggressively marketed as “the material of a thousand uses”.[7]:58–59[14] A filing for a trademark featuring the letter B above the mathematical symbol for infinity was made August 25, 1925, and claimed the mark was in use as of December 1, 1924. A wide variety of uses were listed in their trademark applications.[15]

I also read a brief article on Redmanol on Wikipedia and the link was clear as the companies joined in 1922 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redmanol_Chemical_Products_Company).

Redmanol Chemical Products Company was an early plastics manufacturer formed in 1913. Lawrence V. Redman was its president. In 1922, the Redmanol Company, the Condensite Company of America, and General Bakelite were consolidated into the Bakelite Corporation.[1]” ….unquote.

From the above gleaned information, it is safe to conclude that the pipe now on my worktable is of 1920s and early 1930s vintage.

Though I had simultaneously worked on this pair, I have divided the write up in two parts where I have dealt with each pipe separately. In PART I, I shall deal with the straight Bulldog of the pair and in PART II, I shall describe the process on the bent Bulldog.

PART I:- STRAIGHT BULLDOG

Initial Visual Inspection
The straight bulldog pipe is in great condition given its 90 odd year age. It appears to have been well smoked given the decent layer of cake in the chamber. The rim top is clean without any lava overflow. The meerschaum bowl has a few superficial scratches from being used. The Bakelite diamond base and shank is dull in appearance, but intact. The translucent Redmanol stem is slightly oxidized and appears dull and lackluster. There is a deep tooth indentation over the upper surface and a chipped surface near the round orifice. The pictures below give a fair idea of the condition of the pipe in its present state. Detailed Inspection
The pipe consists of three parts, a Meerschaum bowl, Bakelite base and shank and the Redmanol straight stem with a round orifice. These three parts come together as an instrument of smoking by means of threads at the bowl and stem ends.The meerschaum bowl is in very good condition with just a few scratches over the sides. The chamber has a thick layer of dried and crumbling cake. The rim top is in pristine condition and does not have any overflow of carbon deposits. The thread on the cup is slightly worn only at a small section and the attaches securely with the Bakelite shank. The bottom of the meerschaum cup has three draught holes and shows a couple of dents/ dings. The draw on the pipe was not very smooth and open. Close observation of the depth of the meerschaum cup made me realize that it touched the heel of the Bakelite base and constricted the air flow. I shall deal with this issue subsequently. The Bakelite base is clean with no traces of old oils and tars in the trough that houses the meerschaum cup. The brass rim cap at the top of the Bakelite base is firmly fixed and is nicely clean and shining. The mortise shows some traces of gunk but should clean up nicely. There are a couple of minute chipped spots over the right side of the diamond shank edge (encircled in yellow). The brass band at the shank end shows some signs of brassing and should polish up to nice shine. The brass rim cap and the shank band coupled with the translucent Redmanol stem add a nice bling to the appearance of the pipes. The diamond Redmanol stem has a rounded orifice which also points to its vintage. It has a rich translucent red color and the light really plays through. I cannot wait to see the stem clean up. Minor tooth chatter is seen on the upper and lower surface. The pointed corner edge of the lip on the left is broken (encircled in green) and will either have to be reconstructed or filed away to a straight profile. The stem airway has darkened due to accumulation of saliva, oils and tars and would need to be thoroughly cleaned. The screw-in tenon is of the same Redmanol material and is covered with dried oils and tars.   The Process
I started this project by reaming the chamber with my smaller fabricated knife and scraped out all the carbon from chamber. I used a 220 grit sand paper, pinched between my thumb and forefinger, to sand the inner walls of the chamber of the pipe. Once I had reached the bare walls, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This removed all the residual carbon dust and also rid the chamber of all ghost smells. The walls of the chamber are nice and solid with no signs of cracks.I cleaned the external surface of the Meerschaum cup with Murphy’s Oil soap and cotton swabs. I also cleaned the threads at the foot of the cup with tooth brush and oil soap. I wiped the bowl surface with a moist cloth to remove the soap and grime that remained on the surface. The stummel surface cleaned up nicely. The scratches and dents and dings over the stummel surface are now clearly visible.Once I was done with cleaning the external surface of the meerschaum cup, I handed over the cup to Abha, my wife, to work her magic in polishing the cup. She polished the rim top surface and rim edges with micromesh pads. She then went on to dry sand the entire stummel with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth to remove the dust that was left behind by the sanding. I had requested her to minimize the scratches but not necessarily remove them. These lacerations and dings must have had a history and I wanted to preserve it. She did a fantastic job of polishing the meerschaum cup to a nice deep shine.While Abha was busy with polishing the meerschaum bowl, I addressed the stem repairs. I first cleaned the stem surface and the stem airway using anti-oil dish cleaning soap and thin shank brush and rinsed it under warm running water to remove the entire gunk from the airway. I also cleaned up the threaded tenon with a tooth brush and soap. To finish the cleaning, I ran a few bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol to remove the residual gunk from the airway and dry it out.To address the minor tooth chatter on both upper and lower surfaces, I sand the bite zone with a folded piece of 320 grit sandpaper. However, there was one tooth indentation in the bite zone and the chipped corner of the lip still remained an eyesore. I spot filled these with clear CA superglue and set the stem aside for the glue to cure. I cleaned the mortise by scraping out the dried gunk using my fabricated tool. Next, I cleaned the Bakelite shank with anti oil dish soap and tooth brush. I cleaned the shank internals and mortise with shank brush and anti oil soap and rinsed it under warm water. The shank is now clean both from the inside and the outside. Once the stem fills had cured, I sand the fills with a flat head needle file to roughly match the fill with the rest of the stem surface. I further fine tune the match by sanding the bite zone with 320 grit sandpaper followed by 600 grit sandpaper.  Following the sanding with a piece of 600 grit sandpaper, I began the process of polishing by wet sanding the entire stem with 800, 1000, 1500 and 2000 grit sandpapers. I completed the polishing of the stem by dry sanding the stem with 3200 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. The translucent red of the Redmanol stem just shines through.   With the Meerschaum bowl and the Redmanol stem polished, I turned my attention to the Bakelite shank. I polished the shank by wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 followed by dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. Next I gave a beeswax polish to the meerschaum bowl. I assembled the equipment and materials that would be needed during the process viz heat gun, paper towels, q-tips and a Katori, a steel container graciously lent by Abha from the kitchen and of course, beeswax. I stuffed the chamber with cork to prevent inadvertent seepage of the melted beeswax into either. Next, I melted a sufficient quantity of beeswax in the katori using my heat gun and thereafter heated the stummel. Using the a folded pipe cleaner, I completely coated the stummel with the wax and continued the application till the surface was saturated and set the stummel aside to absorb the wax. I reheated the stummel with the heat gun about 20 minutes later and let the excess wax either be absorbed or drip off from the stummel surface. I rubbed off the excess wax with a soft cotton cloth and brought a deep shine to the surface with a microfiber cloth. To finish, I re-attach the Redmanol stem with the Bakelite shank. I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and setting the speed at 50% RPM, applied Blue Diamond compound over the shank and the stem surface. I wiped/ buffed the parts with a soft cotton cloth to clear it of any leftover compound dust. I then mounted another cotton cloth wheel on to the polishing machine and applied several coats of carnauba wax over the shank and the stem of the pipe. I finished the restoration by giving the pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. Have a look at the completed pipe below. P.S. – Readers must have noticed that the meerschaum bowl has been changed from three holed one to one hole. Well, if you recollect I had made a mention of draw on this pipe being constricted. It turns out that the meerschaum bowl on this pipe was a long neck one and the one on the bent bulldog had a shorter neck. The Bakelite base of the straight pipe is shallow as compared to the bent bulldog and accommodated the short neck meerschaum bowl better than the long neck bowl. Once the switch was made, the draw on both the pipes was open, full and smooth as silk.

Now, why the bowls were switched in the first place? The answer to this intriguing question will be given in the next part…

Thank you all for being with me as I walk the path of learning nuances of pipe restoration.

Restoring A Beautiful Older Butz-Choquin ‘A Metz’ Pipe


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

The next project that I selected to work on is a beautiful Horn shaped pipe with a horn stem and nickel ferrule. This pipe came to be in my possession as a part of 40 odd estate pipes that I had purchased from a French Seller a few years ago. Unfortunately, I had neither chronicled nor taken pictures of this lot when it reached us, as at that point in time I had no intention of passing these restored pipes in to the trust (as my Mentor Steve points out) of fellow Pipers.

This beautiful elegantly shaped pipe on my work table has stunning cross grains and swirls over the sides and back of the stummel while the front and lower surface boasts of distinct bird’s eye grains. It is stamped as “BUTZ- CHOQUIN” over “A” over “METZ”. The nickel ferrule bears three faux hallmark stampings and a rhombus with two letters. All these markings on the ferrule are severely worn out and do not contribute in any which way in establishing the provenance of this pipe.I have previously worked on Butz- Choquin pipes with A METZ stamping and from what I recollect; this stamp was used when BC pipes were made out of the French town of A Metz, i.e. prior to 1950s. To refresh my memory, I visited the write up that I had posted on rebornpipes. Here is the link to the write up (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/10/19/restoring-an-early-butz-choquin-a-metz-no-2/).

I have reproduced some of the information from the write up and also arrive at an approximate date based on this information.

I searched pipedia.org to see if it contained the details that I sought. The site has very scant information about the brand with lots of pictures, but what is available makes it an interesting read and I quote;

“The pipe, from Metz to Saint-Claude. Jean-Baptiste Choquin of Metz started out as a tobacconist. This enterprise was prosperous; he had several employees. Among those, there was a certain Gustave Butz who was its first workman and who became his son-in-law by marrying Choquin’s daughter Marie in 1858.

In 1858 Jean-Baptiste Choquin created, in collaboration with Gustave Butz, the Choquin pipe. This bent pipe with a flat-bottomed bowl was finished with an albatross-bone mouthpiece, fixed with silver rings. (The above describes the CHOQUIN A METZ pipe I had worked on earlier dating it to 1858)

In 1858, still in Metz, Gustave Butz built an establishment for the manufacture of the Choquin pipe which took the name of Butz-Choquin. In 1951, the Berrod-Regad company bought the trademark, continuing manufacture until 2002. Departing from Metz, the workshop was relocated to Saint-Claude, then also called “the world capital of the briar pipe,” under the Berrod-Regad group. The Berrod-Regad group would go on to completely rebuild the network of representatives until finally entering the export market in 1960 and has since won several prizes, as well as the Gold Cup of French good taste.

In a few years, the brand’s collection increased from ten to seventy series. 135 years after it was founded, the pipe is still well-known not only in France but throughout the world. In 2002, the Berrod family, wishing to preserve manufacture of pipes in Saint-Claude, handed over the company to Fabien Guichon, a native of the area, who will continue to develop the brand during the 21st century.”

From the above reading, this pipe is pre-1951 when Berrod- Regad purchased the trademark and relocated the workshop to Saint- Claude. The stampings of A METZ is the proof pointing towards pre-1951, the birth town of Butz- Choquin pipes. Secondly, the horn stem with the round orifice points towards the early 1920s when vulcanite was the preferred choice of material for making stems. However, it is equally true that during World War II, since rubber was an essential war material and was difficult to obtain it for making stems, horns/ bone stem came in to favor again till the end of the Great War. Thus I think that this pipe is either from the period 1939 to 1945 (higher probability) or from between the era 1910 to 1920s.

Initial Visual Inspection
The pipe currently on my work table is an excellent example of quality craftsmanship using equally high quality briar wood. It appears that the carver followed the grains in the briar to decide on the shape and not the other way round. There is a thin layer of cake in the chamber with no overflowing lava over the rim top, in fact, the rim top is clean. The stummel surface is dull and lackluster and would benefit from a nice cleaning and polishing regime. The cross grains and the bird’s eye grains will come to the fore once the stummel is polished. The inner rim edge is beveled and is smooth and even. The outer rim edge is uneven with a couple of deeper dents and dings along the edge. The tapered horn stem has bite marks on both surfaces in the bite zone. The seating of the longish wood tenon in to the mortise is loose but otherwise in good condition. The nickel band is oxidized and sans any damage. Below are pictures of the pipe before I started my restoration work. Detailed Inspection
The chamber has a very thin layer of even and crumbly cake. It seems that the chamber was reamed prior to the pipe being put away. The rim top surface is clean with no signs of lava overflow or charring. The inner edge has a slight bevel which I think is not original to the pipe. However it has been well carved and does not detract from the beauty of the pipe. The outer rim edge has a number of dents and ding most likely caused due to striking the rim edge against a hard edge. The rim top surface has circular scratches akin to sanding marks left behind after topping the surface. The chamber has very little odor and the little ghost smells that remain will be eliminated once the stummel internals are cleaned. The stummel is covered in oils that have attracted dust and grime and the stummel appears dull and lackluster. The cross grains and bird’s eye and swirls across the briar surface that can be seen through from under all the grime. The stummel surface does show a few scratches, noticeably to the front and foot of the stummel. There is a small chip off from the upper shank surface near the nickel band. The mortise shows remnants of old oils, tars and ash, but not stinking stuff!! The nickel shank band itself is oxidized and all the faux markings are well rubbed and worn out. I am especially not too worried about the worn out stampings of the band as these are just for decorative purpose only. The tapered horn stem has tooth marks on both the upper and lower surface of the stem in the bite zone. The button lips, however, are sans any damage. I was unsure, from the appearance, if the tenon was a bone or made of wood. To confirm, I ran a sharp thin blade over the surface. The movement was smooth and easy without any bite. This confirmed that the hard surface could only be bone!! The round slot and tenon end opening has old residual oils and tars. The seating of the stem in to the mortise is not flush and very loose. The Process
I started the process of refurbishing by reaming the chamber first. Using reamer head sizes from 1 to 3 of the PipeNet pipe reamer, I took the cake down to the bare briar. The amount of carbon that was dislodged from the chamber was really surprising as I had appreciated a thin layer of carbon and the quantity of carbon that was removed was anything but a thin layer. With my fabricated knife, I removed all the cake and took it down to the bare briar. I further sand the chamber wall with a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper to smooth out the wall and remove the last bit of stubborn carbon that remained stuck to the chamber. To finish the reaming process, I wiped the chamber walls with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol to clean the last traces of residual carbon dust. I was happy to note a clean and well seasoned solid chamber. Next I cleaned out the shank internals. Early on, I realized that I could not pass a pipe cleaner trough the draught hole due to blockages in the shank airway. I used the drill bit of a Kleen Ream reamer to dislodge this block of dried oils and gunk. I further scraped out all the dried and crumbly oils and tars from the walls of the mortise with my fabricated tool. I cleaned out the mortise and shank walls with q-tips and pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol. I shall continue further cleaning of the shank and mortise while going through the other processes.I kept the stummel aside and cleaned the internals of the stem with a thin shank brush and anti-oil dish washing soap. This ensures a thorough cleaning of the stem airway while saving me number of pipe cleaners, elbow grease and most importantly, time. With the stem internals cleaned, I scrubbed the external surface with the dish soap and Scotch Brit pad. I was particularly careful while cleaning the tenon surface as the old residual oils and tars were deeply embedded in to the surface. I rinsed the stem under warm running water and wiped it with a paper napkin to dry it.I addressed the tooth chatter in the bite zone by sanding the bite zone with a folded piece of 150 grit sand paper followed by 220 grit sand paper. I could have filled the tooth indentation with clear superglue, sanded and polished the stem, but decided against this since the stem was thick and the tooth chatter was superficial enough to be addressed just by sanding it out.Next, I cleaned the exterior of the stummel. I used a hard bristled tooth brush, Scotch Brit pad and Murphy’s Oil soap to scrub the stummel. After the scrub with oil soap, I washed the stummel, stem and shank extension under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the surface was clean and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I simultaneously cleaned the internals of the shank with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. The stummel surface has cleaned up nicely with the beautiful grain patterns on full display. Following the external clean up of the stummel, I spot filled the small chipped off surface from the shank’s upper surface near the nickel band and also the dings that were seen over the outer edge of the rim with CA superglue. I set the stummel aside for the glue to cure.While the stummel repair was curing, I dry sand the horn stem with 220, 320, 400 and 600 grit sandpapers followed by wet sanding with 800 and 1000 grit sandpapers. I applied a small quantity of EVO to the stem and set it aside to be absorbed by surface.With the stem set aside, using a flat head needle file, I sand the repairs over the upper shank surface and the outer rim edge to achieve a rough match with the rest of the stummel surface. I further blend in the repairs by sanding the entire stummel surface with 220 grit sandpaper.To bring a nice shine and eliminate the scratch marks left behind by the abrasive sandpaper, I wet sand the entire stummel with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, wiping frequently with a moist cloth to check the progress. I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The contrast of the dark browns of the grains with the natural patina of the rest of the stummel adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel. I completed the mundane but equally important task of polishing the nickel band. I used a local product that is available only in India to polish the band. The liquid polish was applied to the band and wiped it out after a few seconds. The polish completely removed the oxidation and gave a nice shine to the band by polishing it with a jeweler’s cloth.This brings me to the most important process indicating the completion of this restoration which is imparting a high gloss finish to the pipe by polishing. I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel onto my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding. Next, I mounted another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I mounted a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and gave the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe with the aged patina to the briar looks amazingly beautiful. P.S.: Astute readers must have noticed that there were two issues that I had brought out during my detailed visual inspection, first was the loose seating of the stem in to the shank and the second was that this seating was not flush, but does not find a mention in the entire process of repairs/ restoration. Well, truth be told, I had not addressed these issues specifically. However, somewhere along the way these issues resolved themselves.

Let me explain. The reason for loose seating of the stem in to the mortise was primarily due to drying up of the briar wood and the bone tenon from years of disuse. When the internal and external surfaces of the stummel were cleaned and rinsed using warm water, the briar absorbed some moisture causing the briar to swell and ultimately resulting in a snug fit of the stem in to the mortise.

The reason for the stem face not seating flush with the shank face was the old oils and gunk that had accumulated in the mortise and along the shank walls. Once the mortise and shank internals were thoroughly cleaned and the shank briar wood was adequately moistened, the seating was flush and snug.

This pipe had caught the fancy of a fellow piper here in India and has now reached him. I wish him many happy and blissful smokes in the years ahead.

I wish to thank all esteemed readers for your time in reading through the write up and being a part of this project. Looking forward to your comments…

Refurbishing A Vintage Cased “Karoo” Gourd Calabash With Elephant Ivory Shank Extension


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

About two years back, I had worked on the only Gourd Calabash pipe that I had inherited, a 1912 William Harrison, and posted it on rebornpipes. I had smoked this pipe after it was restored and was amazed at how different the smoking characteristics of a gourd are when compared to a briar or a meerschaum pipe. Since then I was on a lookout for some good quality and condition gourd calabash estates and snagged a couple at very competitive rates. This is the first of the two gourd calabash pipes that is now on my work table.

This medium sized gourd calabash came in its original case. The case and the pipe it housed are in good shape and appears to have been well looked after. There is a beautiful ivory colored band with argyle patterns at the shank end that lends it a classy high end feel. It is stamped on the left side of the gourd as “KAROO” in an oval. There is no other stamping seen on the gourd. The vulcanite stem with a threaded bone tenon is stamped on the upper surface as “LONDON” over MADE”. There are no other stampings seen on either the gourd or the stem. The only knowledge about the pipe I had was that KAROO was an arid region of South Africa where these gourds were grown. However, there was no information on the brand KAROO that was available either on Pipedia.org or pipephil.eu. I couldn’t find any information on this brand even on rebornpipes!!

I messaged Steve and shared pictures of this gourd calabash pipe with him. He sent me this link to Pipe Club of London which had information on this brand and the same is being reproduced further down in this write up. There was an interesting discussion on the band that was at the shank end. The possibilities ranged from the band being made of hardened plastic or Bakelite or bone or even African Ivory. However, it was the evenly arranged argyle patterns that made us think on the lines of the band being of some high grade and quality material. Abha, my wife, took close up pictures of the band and patterns and she got on the task of researching the material of the band on the internet. Her research conclusively proved that the band is an Elephant Ivory. Here is the link to a site that was particularly helpful in supporting her conclusions. (https://www.realorrepro.com/article/Ivory-genuine-fake–confusing).

The argyle patterns that I had been mentioning all through are, in fact, Schreger Lines and the patterns perfectly match the ones seen on the shank end band. Having confirmed that the shank extension is elephant ivory, it was time to search for the brand KAROO.

I searched the net as suggested by Steve and found this snippet of information on Pipe Club of London (http://pipecluboflondon.com/members-pipes/calabashes/karoo-calabash/) and reproduce the same information for the benefit of the larger pipe community.

Calabash gourds (“bottle gourds” – were grown on the Little Karoo River in South Africa by Boer farmers who exported them – cut & dried – to England for fitting with bowls and mouthpieces. The heyday of the calabash was 1905 to 1915 after which the briar began to steal the spotlight.

From the Johnny Long collection PCoL #UK603F – pictured on a handmade South African tapestry. Below – the Karoo brand & hallmarks.

There was no further information lead that was worth following that would establish the provenance of this pipe. All that I can say with certainty based on the threaded bone tenon, oval slot at the stem end, Elephant Ivory shank extension and the information reproduced above, this pipe has to be from the early 20th Century, maybe prior to 1920s.

This time period is just a ”guesstimation” and any input from the knowledgeable Readers on this brand and dating is most welcome.

Initial Visual Inspection
The case and the pipe appear to be well cared for. The case has functional hinges and clasp and closes with a reassuring click. The surface leather on the case is also intact and in good condition. The red velvet internal lining of the case is stained at the place where the rim and mouthpiece rests inside the pipe. There is a lot of debris in the nooks and corners of the case. The pipe sits perfectly inside the case. The gourd has taken on a dark color and its surface is dust covered and dirty. The meerschaum cup has a decent layer of even cake with a darkened rim top that has traces of lava overflow. There are a few minor superficial scratches over the meerschaum cup. The stem is oxidized, has tooth chatter/ bites marks in the bite zone and is under turned to the right. Overall, this old timer has been well looked after and is in great shape considering its perceived age. Dimensions Of The Pipe
Length: 5.6 inches

Height: 2.8 inches.

Diameter of the porcelain cup: 1.8 inches.

Diameter of the chamber: 0.9 inch.

Depth of the chamber: 1.3 inches.

Detailed Visual Inspection
I first dismantled the pipe in to its various components; the Gourd, the meerschaum cup and the threaded bone tenon stem. Here are a couple of pictures.

The meerschaum cup is medium sized and has a moderate layer of even cake. The inner rim edge has a thin layer of lava overflow on an otherwise clean rim top surface. There are minor scratches over the rim surface which will be addressed when the meerschaum cup is cleaned and polished. There are no breakages or chipped surfaces or cracks in the cup which is a big relief. The draught hole at the center bottom of the cup is clogged with oils/ tars and gunk. The outer surface of the cup is covered in dried oils, tars and gunk and towards the rim top; there are traces of cork lining which has stuck to the cup (this is actually mysterious!) at the base of the rim. The gourd surface has colored beautiful and it will be my endeavor to preserve the patina that has developed on the surface due to smoking. The surface is covered in old oils, tars, grime and dirt from all these years. There is no damage to the gourd surface and that’s a big relief. This piece of gourd will look stunningly beautiful and rich once it has been cleaned and polished. The meerschaum bowl is held in place inside the gourd with a cork gasket. This cork gasket was dry with a thin outer surface layer stuck to the meerschaum. This is not a major issue as the bowl still sits firmly in the gourd. The inside of the gourd has depositions of oils and tars and ash and would benefit from a thorough cleaning. The ivory shank extension has yellowed a fraction but is sans any damage. The full bent tapered vulcanite stem is oxidized with tooth chatter on either surface in the bite zone. The threaded long bone tenon is covered in grime and oils and could be a contributing factor for the misaligned seating of the stem in to the shank. The oval opening of the slot and the tenon opening is constricted due to accumulation of old and dried oils/ tars. The Process
I started the process with reaming the meerschaum cup with PipNet reamer heads 1, 2 and 3. I further cleaned the bowl with my fabricated knife to completely rid the chamber of carbon that couldn’t be reached by the reamer heads. I used a 220 grit sand paper, pinched between my thumb and forefinger, to sand the inner walls of the chamber of the pipe. Once I had reached the bare walls, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This removed all the residual carbon dust and also rid the chamber of all ghost smells. The walls of the chamber are nice and solid with no signs of heat fissures or cracks.I gently scraped off the dried gunk and remnants of the cork with my sharp fabricated knife. I further cleaned the surface with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol. I cleaned the external surface of the meerschaum cup with a cotton swab and Murphy’s Oil Soap. I further wiped the surface with a moist soft cloth and rid the surface of the soap. I ran a couple of hard bristled pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol through the draught hole and thoroughly cleaned it. I set the bowl aside to dry out completely.I cleaned the stem airway using thin shank brushes and anti oil dish soap. I also cleaned the tenon surface with the soap and wiped it dry with a paper towel. The tenon opening and the oval slot is now clean.Since the tooth chatter on upper and lower surface was superficial, I decided to address this issue by sanding down the tooth chatter rather than resorting to the filling method. I sand the bite zone with a 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter. I followed it up by further sanding the stem with 320, 600 and 800 grit sand papers. Once I was satisfied that the tooth chatter had perfectly matched the rest of the stem surface, I completed the polishing cycle by wet sanding the surface with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. The stem looks great with the tooth chatter nicely matched with the rest of the surface. I rub a little quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil into the stem surface and set it aside to rehydrate the vulcanite. While I was working on the stem, Abha went about the task of polishing the meerschaum cup. She polished the bowl by dry sanding it with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. She applied a little Before and After Balm, though it does not affect the meerschaum in any which way, and set it aside. A few minutes later, she buffed it with a microfiber cloth.Next in the process was the cleaning and refurbishing of the gourd itself. Using my fabricated dental tool and sharp knife, I carefully, read that as very (2x) carefully, scraped out all the dried gunk and grime from the inner walls of the gourd. I ran a couple of pipe cleaners and q-tips dipped in alcohol through the shank end. I wiped the inner walls with a cotton swab moistened with alcohol. At this point in restoration, the internal cleaning of the stem, mortise and gourd is completed. The stem repairs and polishing is also completed and so is the refurbishing of the meerschaum cup. Next I decided to clean and polish the external surface of the gourd. I cleaned the external surface of the gourd with Murphy’s Oil soap on cotton swabs. I wiped the surface with a moist cloth and set the gourd aside to dry out completely. After the gourd had dried out, I polished the gourd surface with micromesh pads. I wanted to preserve the patina and deep coloration that has developed on the gourd surface and so I dry sand the stummel surface with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. This is starting to look really nice. I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the gourd with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the gourd now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful darkened colors on full display. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. All that remained was the original case that housed this pipe. Firstly, I reattached all the black linings that had come loose with superglue. I wiped the leather cover with Murphy’s Oil soap on a cotton swab. The color on the swabs should give the readers an idea of how dirty the surface was!! I wanted to further scrub the leather surface, but unsure that I was as to how the leather would hold up to all the scrubbing, I left it at that (remember my mantra… Less is more!!). I cleaned the inner satin and velvet linings of the lid and bottom respectively, with a mild soap in warm water and a soft bristled tooth brush. I was very gentle with this as I had no intention of tearing the lining. I completely dried the lining using paper towels. It now does look nice and rich. To apply the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the gourd and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of the wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finish the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks beautiful and is ready to be added to my restored pipe collection. When, or if at all I will, smoke this pipe only time will tell!! Here are the pictures of the refurbished pipe. P.S.: The alignment of the stem with the gourd stummel was restored to perfection once the threads of the bone tenon, threads at the shank end and the internals of the gourd was thoroughly cleaned. I rejuvenated and hydrated the cork gasket by applying a generous layer of natural Petroleum Jelly.

Thanks to all readers of rebornpipes who have spared a moment of their invaluable time in reading through this write up and as is always, your suggestions and advice are always welcome as this would not only help me but  also help the new pursuers of this art.

Praying for the safety and well being of all the readers and their loved ones …

Repairing A Worm Hole Ridden Horn Stem And Refurbishing A c.1908 T.C.G Bent Billiard


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

This pipe had caught my eye for a long time. However, the extensive damage to the horn stem was a big challenge and was always relegated to ‘will- deal- with- later’ category of pipes. This time around, I decided to pick up the gauntlet and got the pipe to my work table.

The pipe currently on my table is as elegant and understated as the British and as compact as any English pipes of yore. The briar stummel has mixed grains and is sans any fills. The right side of the shank is stamped as “T.C.G” in an oval. There is no COM stamp. The only pointer to this pipe being English is the stamping on the Sterling Silver ferrule at the shank end. It is stamped “T.C.G” without frame over three sterling silver hallmarks. From left to right the first cartouche is with a LION PASSANT certifying silver quality followed by a cartouche with symbol for Chester Assay Office and the last cartouche contains the date code letter “H”. This was an English brand that I had neither seen before nor ever heard of. My first instinct to search for any new-to-me pipe brand is to visit rebornpipes and very rarely have I returned empty handed. This was one such rare instance where I came up empty handed. Pipedia.org and pipephil.eu, other popular sites that I visit for pipe related information, too did not have any mention of this pipe manufacturer.

The only clue to unravel the mystery of this pipe was in the stampings seen in the hallmarked silver band. I visited www.silvercollection.it and upon searching through the index, I came across a maker’s mark that was as seen on the pipe in my hands. The maker’s mark was described as Thomas Claud GOODING Edward Ryan GOODING – London. Here is the link and screen shot of the details and relevant details are highlighted in red.

http://www.silvercollection.it/DICTIONARYTOBACCONISTT.htmlThe next step was to date this pipe with the help of the hallmarks as seen on the silver band at the shank end. The Chester City mark was easy to identify. The letter “H” perfectly matched up with the letter that identified it as being assayed by the Chester Assay office in 1908. Given below is the link that will take the readers to the relevant section of dating and the picture that I have taken with the date code letter.

http://www.silvercollection.it/englishsilverhallmarksCHE.html

I further Google searched for Thomas Claud Gooding and other than an address for the said tobacconist at Farringdon Street, London, I could not glean much information.

It is my informed guess that TC Gooding got pipes made from other manufacturers like Barling’s, Comoy’s etc and got them stamped from manufacturers with their own registered name, T.C.G and sold these pipes from their shops. This was a very common practice in those days.

To summarize, the pipe that I am working on was from a tobacconist shop run by T C Gooding at Farringdon Street that was made in c1908 by some of the more established pipe manufacturers in London and sold under their own name T.C.G.

Initial Visual Inspection
This pipe is a beautiful smaller sized bent billiards, a classic English shape. The stummel has beautiful mixed grains all around without a single fill. The rim top surface is uneven with dents and dings to the inner rim edge. There is a very thin and even layer of cake (which was proved otherwise once I reamed the chamber) in the chamber. The stummel surface is dull and dirty. The bone tenon is threaded and locks in to place with a perfectly aligned shank and horn stem. It is the horn stem that has the most damage. Worm holes at the upper surface at the button end exposing the air way and at the shank end lower surface the threaded bone tenon remains exposed. The following pictures present a general idea of the condition of this pipe. Dimensions Of The Pipe
(a) Overall length of the pipe: –          4.5 inches.

(b) Bowl height: –                               1.5 inches.

(c) Inner diameter of chamber: –         0.7 inches.

(d) Outer diameter of chamber: –        1.1 inches.

Detailed Visual Inspection
The chamber has a thin layer of even cake and appears to have been lightly reamed before being stowed away. The condition of the chamber walls will be ascertained once the cake is completely taken down to the bare briar. The inner rim edge is lightly charred on the right side in the 4 ‘O’ clock direction (encircled in green) while the left inner edge is uneven (indicated with yellow arrows). The outer rim edge shows damage to the left and front (encircled in red) due to knocking the edge against a hard surface. The rim top is sans any lava overflow but is peppered with scratches, dents and dings. The stummel surface is covered in a layer of dust and grime giving the surface a dull and lackluster appearance. From underneath this grime, a mix of bird’s eye swirls and cross grains can be seen that waits to be brought to the fore. There are a number of scratches, dents and dings over the stummel surface but predominantly over the foot of the bowl (encircled in pastel blue). The mortise is clean with small traces of remnants of old oils and tars.The stem is where maximum damage can be seen. The bone stem is riddled with worm holes in the bite zone and towards the tenon end. The following pictures will give the readers a clear idea of the extent of damage to the stem and what I would be dealing with during its repairs. At the rounded slot end, the damage is deep enough to expose the air way (encircled in yellow) but thankfully; the air way is undamaged and intact. At the tenon end, the worm hole is deep and exposes the threaded bone tenon (encircled in green). The round slot and the bone tenon opening shows residues of dried oils and tars. The silver lining to all this damage is that the button edge surface and the tenon end flat base surface is still intact and will serve as a guide while I build up the damaged surface. The Process
I started the repairs with the stem first as it would be the most tedious work and take the longest time. I cleaned the internals of the stem with thin shank brushes and anti-oil dish washing soap. This helps reduce the number of pipe cleaners that I would otherwise use for the cleaning of the airway.I ran a couple of bristled pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol to thoroughly clean the airway. I followed it by cleaning the stem surface with cotton swabs wetted with alcohol in preparation for rebuilding the damaged horn surface with clear CA superglue.With the internal and external surface of the stem cleaned up, I moved ahead with reconstruction of the worm hole ridden bite zone and the tenon end of the stem with high viscosity clear CA superglue. I started the repair work at the tenon end. To hasten the process of curing, I sprayed the fill with accelerator. I followed the layering technique to rebuild the damaged surface, that is, first drop a blob of superglue over the surface to be rebuilt and spray the accelerator. Once the glue has hardened, drop superglue over the same area and spray the accelerator to harden the glue. I continued with this method at both the ends of the stem till I had completely covered the area to be rebuilt and then some more. The purpose of excessive build up of the damaged stem surface was that it would be sanded down to perfect or near perfect match with the rest of the stem surface. Following pictures will give the readers a general idea of the process explained above. Once the tenon end of the stem was filled with superglue and set using the accelerator, I followed the same procedure to rebuild the slot end of the stem. Thereafter, I set the stem aside for the fills to cure overnight. While the stem was set aside for the fills to cure, I reamed the chamber with size 1 and 2 heads of the PipNet pipe reamer. I removed the carbon from the areas where the reamer head could not reach with my fabricated knife. To completely remove the residual carbon from the walls of the chamber and even out the walls, I sand the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper followed by cleaning the chamber with a cotton swab wetted with isopropyl alcohol. The chamber walls are in pristine condition. The quantity of carbon that was removed did surprise me as I had anticipated a far less build up of cake in the chamber. I also cleaned the mortise with pipe cleaners and alcohol. Continuing with internal cleaning of the bowl, I decided to subject the chamber and mortise to cotton and alcohol bath. I packed the chamber with cotton balls and drew out a wick from the cotton and along with a folded regular pipe cleaner, inserted it into the mortise and through the draught hole into the chamber. I tightly packed cotton balls in to the remaining portion of the mortise. Thereafter, I soaked the cotton balls with isopropyl alcohol up to the brim. About half an hour later, the level of alcohol had gone down, having being absorbed by the cotton. I topped it up once again and set it aside overnight. By next afternoon, the cotton and alcohol had drawn out all the remaining oils and tars from the chamber and mortise. I removed the cotton balls and the filth can be gauged by the appearance and coloration of the cotton balls and the pipe cleaner. I ran pipe cleaners through the mortise and draught hole to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk that was lodged in the draught hole and mortise. The chamber and mortise now smelled clean, fresh and looked it too. I set the stummel to dry out naturally.With the internal cleaning done, it was time for the external cleaning of the stummel surface. I used a hard bristled tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap, to scrub the stummel and rim top. I washed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the stummel surface was clean and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally.Next, I addressed the various stummel repairs that I have mentioned above. First issue that I addressed was that of the rim top surface dents/ dings, charred inner rim edge and chipped outer rim edge. To address the rim top damage, I topped the rim surface on 220 grit sandpaper till the surface was nice and even. I hate losing any briar and prefer to restrict topping to the barest minimum that is required. The damage to the outer rim edge, though greatly eliminated, can still be seen to the left side. This would be taken care of by creating a slight bevel to the outer edge. The charring to the inner rim edge is still visible (encircled in green). These issues could be completely addressed by the process of topping but the extent of topping that would be required to do so would alter the bowl height and also the entire stummel profile.With a folded piece of worn out 180 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger, I carefully created a bevel over the inner and outer rim edge and addressed the issue of charred inner rim edge. The rim edges appear much better at this stage and should further improve the aesthetics of the stummel when the bevel and stummel is polished using the micromesh pads. While I was working on the stummel, the stem fills had cured completely and as I was keen to shape the stem fills, I kept the stummel aside and worked on the stem repairs. I used a flat needle file to roughly match the fills with the rest of the stem surface. I further evened out the fills by sanding the stem surface with a folded piece of 150 grit sandpaper. All this filing and sanding had exposed a few air pockets (indicated with green arrows) and a portion of the upper button edge (encircled in indigo) that would need to be further rebuilt.Since I had rebuilt the stem face at the tenon end, it was imperative for me to check the alignment of the stem against the shank face when seated. My expected fears came true and how! The stem was grossly overturned to the right.The general rule of thumb is that if the overturn is to the right, one needs to sand the left side so that the threads could complete the turn and achieve a perfect alignment. However, this need to be done extremely carefully as any excess sanding of the left side could result in a left overturn. Using needle files and a 220 grit sandpaper, I sand the excess fill from the left side, checking very frequently for the alignment. A few hours and numerous checks later, I achieved a perfect alignment of the stem and shank face. My mantra of “less is more” was always playing at the back of my mind as I worked on the stem face. Now I could move ahead with addressing the air pockets and rebuild of the button edge over the upper stem surface. I filled the air pockets and rebuilt the button edge over the upper surface with CA superglue and once the glue had cured, with a needle file and sandpaper, I reshaped and evened out the fills to match the rest of the stem surface. Next, I decided to address the dents and dings on the stummel surface, notably at the foot and lower sides of the bowl. Using a marker pen, I marked all the major areas with dents and dings as I had decided to leave the minor ones as they were. I heated my fabricated knife over the flame of a candle, placed a wet Turkish hand towel over the marked areas and steamed out the dents by placing the heated knife over the towel. The steam generated by placing a hot knife on the wet towel helps the briar to expand within these dents and dings, making for a smooth and even surface. The stummel appears much better and smooth at this juncture.To further even out the remaining minor dings, I lightly sand the entire stummel with a folded piece of worn out 180 grit sand paper. I followed it by wet sanding the stummel with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, wiping frequently with a moist cloth to check the progress. I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep into the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. Now I needed to work on the stem again. I had completed the refilling/ rough reshaping of the damaged stem and now proceed to fine tune the reshaped button edge, rebuilt surfaces and polishing of the stem. I sand the stem with 220, 320, 600, 800 and 1000 grit sandpapers. The coarser grade sandpapers help in achieving exactness of shape and removing excess repair material to match rest of the surface while 600, 800 and 1000 grit sandpapers help in eliminating the sanding marks left behind by the coarse grit papers and imparting a shine to the stem surface. I rubbed a small quantity of EVO in to the bone to hydrate it.To bring a deep shine to the horn stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with moist cloth after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rejuvenate the bone stem. I am pretty happy with the way the stem repairs have shaped up and also the button has a nice delicate shape. The finished stem is shown below. I cleaned the sterling silver ferrule at the shank end with “Pitambari”, a powder that is available all across India that is used to clean and shine brass and silver ware. Even Abha uses it to polish her silver and gold jewelry and cutlery. This compound is a very fine powder and is least abrasive with fantastic results. The band is now a nice shining piece of sterling silver and will provide a nice contrast between the shining horn stem and the dark brown stummel.To complete the restoration, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding. I mounted another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and is ready to join my collection. I only wish it could share with me its life story of the past years while I enjoy smoking my favorite Virginia blend in it or maybe an English blend or maybe just keep admiring it!! I wish to thank all the esteemed readers for reading through this write up and thereby being a companion in my journey.

Just A Little TLC And This Amazing Harcourt ‘S’ Came Back Alive Again


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I was and still am a big fan of Preben Holm and never miss an opportunity to own one of his creations, specially the older ones. His early pipes were graded from 1 to 8 in ascending order and I have grades 1, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8 in my collection. These are all stunning pipes without doubts. Thus when this pipe came up for auction on eBay in 2018, I had to bid on it. Waiting for the last opportune moment to place my bid is always the longest wait and the timing has to be just right, too late and your bid may not be accepted and too early gives reaction time to other buyers. In this case, everything went just right and I landed being the highest bidder. A month and a half later, the pipe was received by Abha in Pune.

This ruggedly beautiful free hand pipe is unsmoked with pristine bowl coating, save for the dust that has accumulated on the coat. The aggressively rusticated stummel is large and fits snugly in the palm with a tactile hand feel. It is stamped on the lower smooth surface at the shank end as “S” over “HARCOURT” over “HAND CARVED” over “MADE IN DENMARK”. The vulcanite fancy stem is devoid of any stem logo. All the stampings are crisp and easily readable.Dimensions Of The Pipe
(a) Overall length of the pipe:          5.2 inches.

(b) Bowl height:                                  2 inches.

(c) Inner diameter of chamber:       0.8 inches.

(d) Outer diameter of chamber:      1.7 inches.

While researching Dunhill pipes that I have restored, I remembered that to cater to the Danish Free Hand pipe craze in the 1960s Dunhill had engaged Preben Holm to carve pipes for them and this line was named as HARCOURT. However, this being the first Harcourt pipe that I would be working on, I searched my first ‘go to’ site, rebornpipes and the very first search result was this pipe that has identical stamping including the grade stamp ‘S’. For interested readers, here is the link to the write up which provides all the information on these pipes.

https://rebornpipes.com/2019/09/07/replacing-a-broken-tenon-and-restoring-a-harcourt-hand-carved-s-freehand/

The only additional piece of information that I would like to add here is the grading system adopted by Preben Holm for Harcourt line of pipes. This information is reproduced from pipedia.org (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Harcourt)

And I quote:-

The stamping includes a letter, and seems to adhere to the Preben Holm grading scale with grades of A, B, C and D in ascending order.

The grade lettering on the pipe that I am working on is “S” and finds no mention in the above grading scale by Preben Holm. Since the grading system is in ascending order starting with A, I safely assume that the letter S denotes the highest grade or even Special grade. Any informed input on this issue is most welcome, in fact, solicited.

Initial Inspection
This pipe has one of the most aggressive rustication that I have seen on pipes and it looks and feels fantastic. The reddish brown hues, the Acorn shaped bowl and the talon shaped shank adds to the visual appeal of the pipe. The pipe is unsmoked and thus the chamber, the platueau rim top and the rim edges are all pristine. The stummel surface has accumulated dust in the crevices of the rustication, giving it a dull and tired appearance. The vulcanite fancy stem is undamaged but oxidized. Given below are a few pictures of the pipe before I started working on it. Detailed Inspection
As mentioned above, this is seems to be an unsmoked pipe. The plateau rim top is as good as new with no lava overflow or charring or chipped surfaces. The bowl coating is still intact with no signs of being smoked. The only cleaning that is required is for removing the dust that has lodged itself in to the nooks and crannies of the plateau surface. There are no odors of old tobacco and oils and gunk and that is a refreshing change from the last project. The large rusticated stummel with thick walls are in excellent condition with no damage. The gnarly high points in the rustication are a pleasure to hold in the hand. The Acorn shaped bowl nicely fills up the hand making for a very comfortable grip. Dust has covered the crevices in the rustication giving a lifeless and dull look to the pipe and would need to be cleaned. The plateau shank end is also dusty and would benefit for a nice scrub. The mortise is clean. The fancy vulcanite stem is sans any logo or tooth chatter, bite marks. The only issue that requires to be dealt with is the minor oxidation over the surface. Running a couple of pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol will be sufficient to clean the air way of all the dust that may have been lodged inside.The Process…
I started the restoration of this pipe by first cleaning the internals of the stem with bristled pipe cleaners and 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. I followed it up by sanding the entire stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to remove the surface oxidation and cleaned the surface with a cotton swab and Murphy’s Oil Soap.
I dropped the stem in to “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution developed by my friend Mark Hoover. The solution helps to draw out heavy oxidation to the surface, making its further removal a breeze, while the minor oxidation is eliminated to a very great extent. The initial sanding also helps to draw out the complete oxidation as the sanding opens up the stem surface that has been initially covered with oxidation. I usually dunk stems of 4-5 pipes that are in-line for restoration and this pipe is marked with blue arrow. I generally allow the stems to soak in this solution overnight to do its work.The next morning, Abha removed the stem that had been soaking in the deoxidizer solution overnight. She cleaned the stem under warm running water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using a Scotch Brite pad and cleaned the airway with a thin shank brush. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little EVO to rehydrate the stem.Abha, thereafter, continued the sanding cycle by dry sanding the stem using 320, 400, 600 and 800 grit sand papers followed by wet sanding the entire stem with 1000, 1500 and 2000 grit sand papers. This not only ensured a nice even and smooth stem surface, but also removed the oxidation from the surface. I rubbed the stem surface with some EVO and set it aside to be absorbed in to stem surface. Thereafter, she launched a second determined assault on the stem, subjecting it to the complete cycle of micromesh polish. The end result is a gorgeous, smooth and shiny looking black of the vulcanite stem. The time that Abha was working on the stem, I ran a pipe cleaner dipped in alcohol through the mortise and airway to clean out the dust that had gathered over time. The shank internals were all clean save for a little stain that had made its way into the shank while staining.Once the internals of the shank were cleaned, I cleaned the external surface of the stummel with Murphy’s Oil soap and cotton swabs followed by scrubbing the rusticated surface with a toothbrush and dish washing soap. This rid the nooks and crevices of all the accumulated dust, dirt and grime from the rusticated stummel. I also cleaned the shank internals with dish washing soap and shank brush. To enliven the briar wood and further enhance the contrast of the dark reddish browns of the high points of the rustication with the black of the rest of the stummel surface, I rubbed a little quantity of “Before and After” balm in to surface and set it aside for 20 minutes for the balm to be absorbed in to the briar. Thereafter I hand buffed it with a microfiber to deepen the shine. The stummel looks nice and vibrant. This was followed by the routine regime of polish with carnauba wax using my hand held rotary tool. This Preben Holm carved Harcourt looks unique and oozes quality. To deepen the shine, I gave a vigorous rub to the entire pipe with a microfiber cloth. This is truly a beautiful pipe and will be joining my now increasing personal collection. Here are a few pictures that should give you a fair idea about the end results… Thank you all for being a part of this journey and support extended.

A Beautiful Petite “FCC” Double Footed Cutty Restored To Its Former Glory


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

The next pipe that I chose to work on was a petite slender two legged classic Cutty shaped pipe that is stamped as “FCC”, each letter in a square and all the squares are co-joined to form a rectangle. Apart from the FCC stamp, there is no other stamp on the briar. The shank end has a nickel ferrule (most probably) with a squat diamond bearing letters “A–B” over three cartouches with its engravings completely worn out. Now the reasoning for assuming the ferrule to be nickel plated is firstly that I could not find any silversmith with letter “A B” in a diamond on my usual go to sites as well as searching the net. Secondly, during the course of restoring the pipe, the ferrule came loose revealing a prominent crack to the shank end and this ferrule was a repair band that was put by the previous repairman. Here are the pictures of the stampings. It would be interesting to know the views and opinions on my musings. There was no information about this pipe that was available on the internet. The lack of COM stamp also contributed to the mystery of this pipe. Even “Who Made That Pipe” by Herb Wilczak and Tom Colwell finds no mention of this brand and as stated above the ferrule has faux stampings. The only pointer that this is an old timer comes from the oval stem slot which was seen on early pipes.

In the interest of pipe collector community, I request the readers to share any information that they may have about this brand.

Initial Visual Inspection
The double legged Cutty shaped pipe has beautiful mixed grains around the stummel which is covered in dust. The stummel has a couple of deep scratches and one fill towards the foot. The rim top is covered in lava overflow with some serious damage to the inner rim edge and as a result appears out of round. There is a thick layer of cake in the chamber. The slender vulcanite stem is heavily oxidized with a chunk of vulcanite missing from end of the step tenon. There are issues that need to be addressed, but it still is a beautiful pipe and once it is restored, the elegance and beauty of this pipe shall be worth appreciating. Here are a few pictures of the pipe before I begin working on it. Dimensions Of The Pipe
(a) Overall length of the pipe:          6 inches.

(b) Bowl height:                                  1.4 inches.

(c) Inner diameter of chamber:       0.6 inches.

(d) Outer diameter of chamber:        1.1 inches.

Detailed Inspection…
The chamber has a thick layer of even cake and has a strong sweet smell to it. The rim top surface has darkened due to lava overflow which is not very thick. The inner edge is uneven, but closer inspection makes me believe it to be more so because of uneven cake at the rim edge. The inner edge appears to be charred in 11 o’clock and 6 o’clock direction (encircled in pastel blue). The outer edge has a very shallow ding which is encircled in yellow. The stummel has some interesting grain patterns hidden under the dust that has accumulated over the surface. There is a fill towards the foot of the stummel on the left side and is encircled in green. This fill seems like a crack but it is not. The stummel surface has a few scratches but the two on the right side of the stummel are prominently visible (encircled in yellow). The two legs of the bowl are perfectly flat and angled making the pipe a sitter. The long slender shank has a dark patch (encircled in red) at the bowl shank junction and is likely another fill or a crack. I shall be sure about this only once the surface is thoroughly cleaned. The shank has heavy accumulation of oils, tars and gunk. The sweet smell is pretty strong here too. The long and slender vulcanite stem slightly tapers towards the tenon end giving a very classy look to the pipe. The step tenon has a chunk of vulcanite missing from the end and would need to be rebuilt. The stem has deep seated oxidation that imparts to it a greenish brown hue. The bite zone has minor tooth chatter and the buttons are sans any damage. The oval shape of the slot end and the slot itself is old fashioned and is a pointer to this being an older pipe from the 20s- 30s. Both the tenon end and slot end shows heavy accumulation of gunk and has an awful stink to it. This stem is going to be a bear to clean.The Process…
Since there were other stems that were ready to be put into the stem deoxidizer solution, I decided to clean the internals of this stem first so that it could be put in the solution with other stems. I cleaned the stem airway with a thin shank brush and anti oil soap. The amount of gunk that was cleaned can be judged from the pictures below. It took considerable time and elbow grease to get the stem airway clean. I further cleaned the internals with regular and bristled pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol. Once I was done with the internal cleaning of the stem airway, I sanded the stem surface with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to loosen and remove superficial oxidation from the stem surface. I wiped the stem clean with Murphy’s Oil Soap on a cotton swab. It has been our experience that such sanding yields the best end results after the deoxidizer solution has completed its assigned task.The stem was immersed in the Before and After Deoxidizer solution, a product that has been developed by Mark Hoover. This solution raises the oxidation to the stem surface and helps in easy removal and imparting a nice shine to the stem after polishing. The pipe is indicated with a yellow arrow indicator. The stem was allowed to soak into this solution overnight.The next morning, Abha took the stem out from the solution. She cleaned the stem under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using a Scotch Brite pad and cleaned the airway with a thin shank brush. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little EVO to rehydrate the stem. She ran a couple of pipe cleaners through the stem airway to clean the airway of the deoxidizer solution and water.Staying with stem repairs, I warmed up the bite zone with the flame of a lighter to raise the minor tooth indentations to the surface. The heat helps the vulcanite to expand and regain its original shape. This method may not always completely raise the depressions to the surface, but most of the times, to a great extent. In this case the tooth indentations were raised completely to the surface. I followed up the heating of the stem surface with sanding the bite zone with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to even out the surface.Next, I decided to address the broken end of the step tenon. I first inserted a pipe cleaner that had been smeared with petroleum jelly (Vaseline) through the tenon end into the stem air way. This helps prevent the CA superglue and charcoal mix from sticking to the pipe cleaner and prevents the mix from running down into the air way and clogging it. I generously applied a mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal over the tenon end to be rebuilt. I applied a thick layer of the mix as this provides sufficient patch material to work with during subsequent filing and shaping to match the repairs with the stem surface. Once I had applied the mix, I set it aside to cure overnight.By next afternoon, the tenon rebuild had cured perfectly and was fit to work on. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to sand the patch and achieve an even match with the rest of the tenon surface. I shaped the opening of the rebuilt tenon for smooth and even airway surface using a round needle file and topped the tenon face on a piece of 220 girt sand paper to achieve a perfect seating of the step tenon into the mortise.I further sanded the entire stem with 320 followed by 400, 600, 800 and 1000 grit sand paper. This helps to reduce the scratch marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper and also to remove complete oxidation from the stem surface. I rubbed a small quantity of EVO to rehydrate the stem and set it aside.With the stem set aside, I had a second look at the stummel and decided to start with reaming the chamber. Using size 1 head of the PipNet reamer, I took the cake down to the bare briar. I used my fabricated knife to remove the carbon layer from areas which could not be accessed by the reamer head. Next, with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper pinched between fingers, I sanded the wall surface to a smooth finish and ensured there are no traces of residual carbon anywhere in the chamber. I cleaned the chamber with a cotton swab wetted with alcohol. There are a couple of heat fissures that can be seen over the surface of the wall but they seem to be superficial. It could be just a thin layer of residual cake that has hardened rock solid or could be a heat fissure proper and in that case, I would need to fix it. But first, I would need to soften the cake. I cleaned the mortise using q-tips, pipe cleaners and alcohol. I scrubbed out the dried oils and tars from the walls of the shank using a bent dental tool. It was only once the shank internals were cleaned that I could see the thin crack to the shank. However, the repair band was firmly glued to over the shank end. I shall continue further cleaning of the shank internals when I clean the external surface of the stummel.I decided to give the stummel a salt and alcohol treatment. This would address three issues, firstly the strong sweet ghosting smell secondly, loosen the rock hard carbon layer from the chamber wall and lastly the alcohol may loosen the glue that kept the repair band firmly attached to the shank. I wrapped a little cotton around a pipe cleaner and inserted it through the mortise into the chamber. I packed the space around this pipe cleaner in the shank with cotton balls. Next, I firmly packed the cotton balls in to the chamber about half an inch below the rim and soaked the cotton balls with isopropyl alcohol up to the brim. About half an hour later, the level of alcohol had gone down, having being absorbed by the cotton. I topped it up once again and set it aside overnight. By next morning, the cotton and alcohol had drawn out all the remaining oils and tars from the chamber and mortise, fulfilling its intended task. I removed the cotton balls and ran pipe cleaners through the mortise to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk and further cleaned it with alcohol and q-tips. The chamber now smells clean and fresh. I set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. All the three issues that I wanted to address with this process have been achieved as will be brought out subsequently.With the bowl internals clean, I moved to clean the exterior of the stummel. I used a hard bristled tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil soap to scrub the stummel and rim top. For this stummel cleaning, l used Murphy’s Oil soap as I wanted to preserve the old patina that had developed on the stummel and was not sure how the Briar cleaner product would affect it. After the scrub with oil soap, I washed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the stummel surface was clean and dried it using paper towels and a soft cotton cloth. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. This cleaning had now exposed all the fills (encircled in pastel blue), charred rim surface at 11 and 3 o’clock directions (encircled in yellow) and scratches over the stummel surface. As spelled out earlier, during the alcohol bath, alcohol had seeped through the crack in the shank and loosened the glue that held the band over the shank and during the external cleaning the band came out easily revealing the crack that it had covered. It’s a large crack that would need to be addressed.I cleaned the mortise and shank internals with anti oil soap and shank brushes. I also removed all the debris and old glue from within the crack using a thin sharp fabricated tool. I further cleaned the crack using cotton swab and alcohol.With the prep for the crack repair completed, it was time to move on with the task. Under a magnifying glass, I marked the end point of the crack with a marker pen. This is the guide point where I shall drill a counter hole to prevent further spread of the crack in any direction. Using a 1mm drill bit mounted on my hand held rotary tool, I drilled a counter hole at the end of the crack. I also inspected the fills that I had observed after external cleaning of the stummel. The only fill that would need to be refreshed was the one on the left side of the stummel near the foot. With my fabricated sharp knife, I removed the old putty fill and cleaned the pit with alcohol.I filled the pit and the shank crack, counter hole included, with a mix of briar dust and superglue. I sprayed an Accelerator over the fills to hasten the process of curing.Remember the issue of heat fissures I had brought out earlier? Well, after the alcohol bath, I checked the chamber again and it was confirmed that these are not just a result of hardened carbon cake but indeed the briar had charred along these heat lines. Using a sharp and thin knife, I checked all the heat lines and removed the charred briar from the two of these heat fissures (indicated with green line). I needed to address this as it could lead to a burnout at a later date when it is smoked.Once the shank crack and the refreshed fill had completely cured, using a flat head needle file, I sanded the repaired areas to achieve a rough match of the fills with the surrounding surface. I used a round needle file to even out the fill which had seeped inside the shank. I further evened out the fills with a folded piece of 320 grit sand paper. I checked the seating of the repair band over the shank and fine tuned the adjustment and glued it in place once it was perfect. Next I addressed the charring to the rim surface that I had ascertained after the cleaning of the stummel. I topped the rim surface over a piece of 220 grit sandpaper, frequently checking for the progress being made. It was peculiar to note that the charring at 11 and 3 o’clock directions was over both the inner and outer rim edges. I masked these charred marks by creating a bevel over both the edges with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper pinched between fingers. The results were definitely satisfactory. I sanded the entire stummel with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. This addressed many of the scratches and dings from the surface. Those that remained are being accepted as part of the pipe’s journey thus far. I have addressed all the repair issues of the pipe and now handed it over to Abha, my wife, to work her magic in polishing the stummel and stem. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, Abha went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. She wiped the stem with moist cloth after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rejuvenate the vulcanite. The finished stem is shown below.She wet sanded the entire stummel with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, wiping frequently with a moist cloth to check the progress. Next, she rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar with her finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. She further buffed it with a horse hair brush. After Abha handed over the shining stummel, I ran my fingers along the chamber walls and realized with a cringe that I had not addressed the issue of heat fissures. I decided to fill only the heat fissures from where I had removed the charred briar with layer of J B Weld. J B Weld is a two-part epoxy Cold Weld in two tubes; hardener and steel which are mixed in two equal parts (ratio of 1:1) with hardening time of 5-6 minutes and complete curing time of 6-8 hours. I poured the contents of the two tubes and mixed it well. I applied this mix, as evenly as possible, over the heat lines in the chamber wall surface. I worked fast to ensure an even coat before the weld could harden. I set the stummel aside for the application to harden and cure overnight. By the next afternoon, the J B Weld had cured and hardened considerably. With a folded piece of 150 grit sandpaper, I sanded the filled JB Weld from the heat lines till all that remained was a smooth surface with the weld deeply embedded into the heat lines and protecting the briar from further damage. There was only one more issue that needed to be addressed and one that could not be ignored, being a functional issue. After I had lined the walls of the chamber with a thin coat of J. B. Weld, it was necessary to prevent the walls from coming in to direct contact with the burning tobacco. I addressed this issue by mixing activated charcoal and plain yogurt to a thicker consistency, just enough that it would spread easily and thereafter applied it evenly all along the chamber walls after inserting a folded pipe cleaner through the draught hole to keep it open. Once dry and set, this will not only protect the walls but also aid in faster build up of cake.Now onto the home stretch… To complete the restoration, I re-attached the stem with the stummel. I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel to my hand held rotary tool, set the speed at about half of the full power and applied Blue Diamond compound to the entire pipe to remove all the minor scratches that remained. I wiped/ buffed the pipe with a soft cotton cloth to clear it of any leftover compound dust. With a cotton buffing wheel earmarked for carnauba wax, I applied several coats of carnauba wax. I worked the complete pipe till the time all the wax was absorbed by the briar. The pipe now boasted of a beautiful and lustrous shine. I vigorously rubbed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine and also clean away any residual wax that had been left behind. I vigorously buffed the nickel ferrule with a jeweler’s cloth and brought it to a nice shine. I was very happy with the way this beauty had turned out. The following pictures speak of the transformation that the pipe has undergone.

From The Brink Of No Return… A c1916 BBB Own Make Bulldog


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

The journey of this pipe began way back in the year 1916 when it came out of the workshop as a brand new Blumfeld’s Best Briar pipe in the classical Bulldog shape. Thereafter this pipe traveled with a British piper across the seven seas aboard a steamer from England and reached the shores of India. And during its stay here in India, it served its Steward well and when the British left India for good, it was gifted to my grandfather and thence continued to serve him till he quit enjoying his pipe in 1970s. Whether this pipe was gifted or it was purchased as a brand new by my grandfather cannot be ascertained, but given the economics of that era, the former appears to be most likely.

Well, now a 105 years later, this pipe is on my work table, nicely cleaned by Abha way back in 2018. It was in that huge lot of around 50 plus pipes that she had cleaned up and sent me for further restoration when I was away from my family for work. As the pipe sits on my table, I very well know the reason for the delay in working on this pipe.

This classic shaped square shank Bulldog has some beautiful mixed grains that can be made out from under the dull and lackluster stummel surface. It is stamped on the left side of the stummel as “BBB” in a rhombus with “OWN” and “MAKE” on either side of the rhombus. The Sterling silver ferrule at the square shank end is stamped as “BBB” in a rhombus over “AF & Co.” in a rectangle over the three cartouche bearing hallmarks. Starting from the left, the first cartouche bears the stamp of an “Anchor” for  the Birmingham Assay Office followed by the “Lion Passant” certifying the silver quality and the last cartouche bears the Date letter “r”. The vulcanite saddle stem is devoid of any stem logo. The stampings are clear and easily discernible. BBB – Pipedia has detailed information on the origins of the brand and transition to the Cadogan group and would be a good read for those interested. I would like to highlight that, quote “At the beginning, BBB produces two qualities. One, BBB Own Make, became finally BBB Best Make, other pipes being simply estampillées BBB. There are reasons to believe that Own Make in fact were produced in London (Reject pipes cuts year R stamped one them.), whereas the simple BBB were imported, and this, to the paddle of the 20th century. However, if all that is not very clear, it is probable that the lines low-of-range were an import of Saint-Claude un-quote.

Now coming on to the most interesting and satisfying part of the research on this piece of briar and that is establishing the probable date of manufacture of this pipe. I prefer to follow English silver marks: the guide to hallmarks of London sterling silver (silvercollection.it)  while establishing the dates on the basis of the date letter in the hallmarks. The Anchor points to the Birmingham Assaying Office. Thereafter, I followed the link to the dating guide of the Birmingham Assay Office to date this pipe. I have included a hallmark chart for dating the pipe. I have put a red mark around the letter for 1916. It is the same style of “r” and the cartouche that holds the letter stamp, matches the photo as well.

To summarize, this BBB was made in 1916, give or take a year as the ferrules were assayed in bulk and used as required. The stamp of Own Make designates this as the finest quality pipe that was made in London for the local market in a Bulldog shape which was made in limited quantities.

Initial Visual Inspection
As stated at the beginning of the write up, Abha, my wife who helps with the initial cleaning, had worked on this pipe in 2018 and sent it out to me for further restoration along with 50 odd pipes. She had reamed the chamber down to bare briar, cleaned the internal of the shank and stem followed by external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap. Unfortunately there are no ‘before’ and ‘during the process’ pictures. The initial condition of the pipe can be gauged from the pictures of the pipe as it sits on my work table. Dimensions Of The Pipe
(a) Overall length of the pipe: –          4.5 inches.

(b) Bowl height: –                               1.2 inches.

(c) Inner diameter of chamber: –         0.8 inches

(d) Outer diameter of chamber: –        1.2 inches

Detailed Inspection
The rim top surface is where the maximum damage is on this pipe. The rim edges have been subjected to a heavy knocking all around but moreover in the 6 and 7 o’clock direction (encircled in green). A small crack is seen extending over the rim surface down towards the twin rings in 12 o’clock direction and is indicated with red arrows. This crack extends inside the chamber and the same is encircled in red. The rim has thinned out considerably towards the front between 12 and 1 o’clock direction (encircled in yellow). There is a chunk of briar that is missing from 3 o’clock direction either due to knocking against a hard edge or could be due to charring or combination of both. This damaged portion of the rim is encircled in pastel blue. The chamber walls show webbing of heat lines/ fissures. These repairs to the rim surface damage will be the most challenging part of the resurrection of this pipe.  The stummel surface is dull and lackluster with dirty brownish yellow hues to the briar surface. A few very minor scratches and dings can be seen over the stummel surface. The front and aft of the stummel surface in the crown is darkened. I would need to check if the charring is deep grained or just superficial. The gap between the twin rings separating the crown from the rest of the stummel is uneven, but thankfully, it is unbroken. The beauty and quality of this old pipe lies in the perfectly proportioned shape and the fact that there is not a single fill over the entire briar surface of the stummel. The shank and mortise are nicely cleaned up by Abha. The diamond shaped vulcanite saddle stem is deeply oxidized. The tenon is missing a portion of the surface and would need to be rebuilt. The bite zone has tooth indentations on either surface. The buttons on either surface is worn down and has deep bite marks at the corner. Abha had already cleaned the stem internals and thus, I can proceed with stem repairs and restoration.The Process…
I started the restoration of this old timer by immersing the stem in to the deoxidizer solution from Mark Hoover. Before dunking the stem in to the solution, I ran a couple of pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol through the previously cleaned airway to remove the dust that may have accumulated over the last three years. I scrubbed the stem surface with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to loosen up the oxidation from the surface and further cleaned it with Murphy’s Oil soap on a cotton swab. Once the surface was cleaned, I dunked the stem in to the deoxidizer solution along with the other pipe stems that are in queue for restoration and indicated with a green arrow. The stem is allowed to soak in the solution overnight giving ample time for the solution to pull much of the oxidation to the surface.The next morning, Abha removed the stems (stem indicated with pastel green arrow is the one being worked on) that had been soaking in the deoxidizer solution overnight. She cleaned the stem and the stem airway under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using a Scotch Brite pad and the airway with a thin shank brush. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little EVO to rehydrate the stem. This now gives a clearer picture of the extent of damage as can be seen in the pictures below. The lower bite zone including the button edges on either surface have deep tooth indentations and will need to be reconstructed. The tenon end would also need to be rebuilt. Fortunately, there are no traces of deep seated residual oxidation visible over the surface. I heated the bite zone of the stem with the flame of a lighter to raise the tooth indentations to the surface by causing the vulcanite to expand. This did raise the bite marks to an extent; however, I would still need to rebuild the buttons and fill the bite marks in the bite zone.To begin repairs to the stem, I first inserted a pipe cleaner that had been smeared with petroleum jelly (Vaseline) through the tenon end in to the stem air way. This helps prevent the CA superglue and charcoal mix from sticking to the pipe cleaner and prevents the mix from running down in to the air way and clogging it. I generously applied a mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal over the stem areas to be rebuilt. I apply a thick layer of the mix as this provides sufficient patch material to work with during subsequent filing and shaping to match the repairs with the stem surface. Once I had applied the mix, I set it aside to cure overnight.With the stem repairs set aside to cure, I turned my attention to the stummel repairs. The summary of major issues identified during the detailed inspection is given below:-

(a) Crack to the front of stummel that extends to the inside of the chamber.

(b) The large trough to the rim surface and thinning of the rim on the right side of the stummel.

(c) Heat lines/ fissures over the walls of the chamber.

With a flat head needle file, I removed the charred briar from the rim surface till I reached solid briar wood. This now gives a clearer idea as to the exact extent of damage and the repairs required.  I decided to address the crack to the stummel surface first. I marked the end point of the crack with a sharpie pen under magnification. This helps to identify the end point later with naked eye and also provides start point for the drill bit to bite in. With a 1 mm drill bit mounted on to my hand held rotary machine, I drilled a counter hole at the end of the crack, taking care not to go too deep and end up drilling a through-hole. I had to mark and drill a second counter hole as I later realized that the crack extended slightly below the first one that I had drilled. I ran the sharp dental tool along the crack to remove the dirt and debris that may have been lodged in the crack. This crack and counter holes would get filled with briar dust and CA superglue when I would reconstruct the trough in the rim surface and so I did not proceed to fill the same at this stage. Next, I got around to addressing the rim top damage. The extent of the dip or trough caused due to banging against a hard surface and or charring of the rim edge was deep and would necessitate heavy topping off of the rim surface, and I for one, absolutely wish to avoid any loss of briar. Also topping to the extent that was required to eliminate the deep trough would completely alter the original shape and symmetry of this pipe.  So, I planned on first filling up the deep trough on the rim edge using briar dust and superglue to roughly match the surrounding intact rim surface and some more and then topping it to achieve a smooth even surface. Theoretically, this sounds logical.

I resorted to the layering method again; first I layered superglue along the damaged surfaces of the rim followed by sprinkling of briar dust, another layer of superglue followed by a final layer of briar dust. This final layer of briar dust reduces the probability of air pockets (or so I thought). In the second picture, you can see that the layering has not been done to the level of the rim surface but above the surrounding intact rim surface as I would be sanding the rim subsequently. Using the same technique, I rebuilt the inner surface to increase the thickness of the rim that was thinned out. I set the stummel aside to cure.  The stem repairs had hardened considerably over the past 18 odd hours. I used a flat head needle file to sand the patch and achieve a rough match with the rest of the stem surface. I further evened out the patch with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. Similarly, I shaped the rebuilt tenon for perfect seating into the mortise. For a better blending, I further sanded the entire stem with 320 followed by 400, 600, 800 and 1000 grit sand paper. This helps to reduce the scratch marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper. I rubbed a small quantity of EVO to rehydrate the stem and set it aside. With the stem set aside, I turned my attention back to the stummel and rim repairs where the fills/ repairs had hardened completely. To speed up the removal of excess mix of briar dust and superglue from the repaired areas, I mounted a sanding drum over my hand held rotary tool and carefully sanded down the excess patch material. I further shaped and matched the repaired area with the rest of the stummel by sanding with a 180 grit sand paper. At this point, I noticed a large number of air pockets in the repaired areas and can be identified in the form of light colored pockets in the surface.And so here I was, filling the air pockets with a mix of briar dust and superglue and praying that these pockets are completely filled. Once I was done, I set the stummel aside for the mix to harden.While I was working on the stummel repairs, Abha, my wife was quietly giving finishing touches to the stem. She went through the entire set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 through to 12000 grit pads. She applied a little quantity of EVO and set the stem aside for final polish with polishing compounds.By next afternoon, the repairs to the rim had completely hardened. I set about sanding the repaired surface with a sanding drum mounted on to my rotary tool to match the rest of the surface. With a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper, I fine tuned the match further. At this stage, even though the air pockets have reduced to an extent, but not eliminated. I further realized that the rim top is still thin on the right side and needs to be built up further. To get the rim thickness to match the rest of the rim surface, I coated that portion of the inner wall that needed to be built up with a mix of briar dust and superglue. One has to be careful to coat only the required areas as it would mean extra effort and time wasted to remove the unwanted coat at a later stage. I set the stummel aside for the mix to cure.As I was busy with the rim repairs, Abha had polished the stem and had placed it on my work table. She polished the stem with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. When she was through with the micromesh cycle, she deeply rubbed a small quantity of EVO in to the stem surface to rehydrate it and set it aside for me to give a final polish with blue diamond and carnauba wax. The finished stem looks a nice shining black. It was after I clicked pictures that I noticed that air pockets can be seen in the repairs to the bite zone. Is it the superglue that is at fault or is it me doing something wrong? Well, I shall live with it for now as these air pockets are not easy to discern with naked eye and maybe later someday I shall redo the stem repairs.Once the repairs to the rim had cured, I used a sanding drum mounted on to my rotary tool to smooth and even out the fills. I fine tuned the matching of the repairs with the surrounding surface by sanding with a piece of 180 grit sand paper. Now to even out the rim top surface…To even out the rim top surface, I topped the rim surface on a piece of 220 grit sandpaper till I had achieved an even a rim surface as was achievable while maintaining the shape and proportions of the stummel. A few light spots are seen where the glue did not mix with the briar dust forming an air pocket which got exposed during the sanding process.I addressed the issue of these air pockets by spot filling them with superglue using a toothpick. To speed things up, I used an accelerator to hasten the curing of the superglue. Once the glue had hardened, I evened out the fills by sanding with a 220 grit sand paper to a smooth finish. Unfortunately, I lost the pictures of this stage somewhere during transferring of data from mobile phone to my laptop.

With the rim repairs completed, I sanded the entire stummel progressively using 320, 600 and 800 grit sand papers. This not only addressed the minor scratches and dings over the surface, but also evened out any high spots left behind during the rim repairs. Satisfied with the progress made, I handed over the stummel to Abha for her to weave her magic with the micromesh pads. She polished the stummel, going through the entire set of 9 micromesh pads. To further blend the repairs with the surrounding surface, I stained the repaired area with a dark brown stain pen and set the stummel aside overnight for the stain to set. Once the stain was set, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm”, a product developed by Mark Hoover that helps to rejuvenate and protect the briar. The transformation is almost immediate and the results are outstanding. The repairs, though visible on closer inspection, have blended in beautifully. Save for the final wax polish, the cosmetic aspect of this pipe has been taken care of and with great results! Now to address the functional aspects…

While carrying out the detailed inspection, I had observed and noted heat lines along the inner walls of the chamber. These heat lines are places from where burnouts usually happen if not addressed. Added to this was the rebuilt rim surface using briar dust and superglue. To isolate the heat lines and the rebuilt rim top surface from coming in direct contact with smoldering tobaccos, I decided to give a thin coat of JB Weld to the inner chamber walls and once the weld had hardened, a coat of activated charcoal and yogurt which is organic, neutral tasting and completely safe for humans would be applied over the JB Weld layer. This coat also aids in a faster build up of the cake.

With the PoA ready, I mixed the two part epoxy. J B Weld is a two-part epoxy Cold Weld in two tubes; hardener and steel which are mixed in two equal parts (ratio of 1:1) with hardening time of 5-6 minutes and complete curing time of 6-8 hours. I poured the contents of the two tubes and mixed it well. I inserted a petroleum jelly coated regular pipe cleaner through the draught hole to prevent it from getting blocked due to the J B Weld mix. I applied this mix, as evenly as possible, over the entire chamber wall surface and worked fast to ensure an even coat over the chamber walls before the weld could harden. I set the stummel aside for the application to harden and cure overnight. The J B Weld coat had hardened considerably by next day evening when I got around to working on the pipe. I mounted a sanding drum on to my hand held rotary tool and after setting the speed to half of the full RPM, I sanded the excess coat from the chamber walls. To further fine tune and keep the coat to a minimum thickness, I further sanded with a 150 grit sand paper till I had a coat thickness that was just sufficient to protect the briar underneath. Here is how the chamber appeared at this stage. After I had protected the repaired portion of the rim and the walls of the chamber with a coat of J B Weld, it was necessary to prevent this coat from coming into contact with the burning tobacco. I addressed this by mixing activated charcoal and plain yogurt to a thicker consistency, just enough that it would spread easily and applied it evenly all along the chamber walls after inserting a folded pipe cleaner through the draught hole to keep it open. Once dry and set, this will not only protect the walls but also aid in faster build up of cake.To complete the restoration, I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel onto my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding. I mounted another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and is ready to join my collection of other BBB pipes that I have inherited. I only wish it could share with me its story of the past years while I enjoy smoking my favorite Virginia blend in it or maybe an English blend or maybe just keep admiring it.

Another Of My Inherited BBB Restored…And What A Mess It Was


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

The next pipe that had moved up the queue of pipes for restoration is also a BBB, but from a newer era as compared to the c.1916 pipe that I had just restored. The aim of selecting this pipe was to show the general condition of the pipes that I had inherited. All or most of them were very well loved and thus extensively smoked without any signs of ever having being cleaned and maintained. The philosophy was simple, select one favorite pipe, smoke the pipe till it fouls up then chuck it, buy a new pipe and repeat the process… It was an era when Barling family still owned the brand and Loewe pipes were still made in the Haymarket area! Ah….. That bygone era of beautiful and superb quality English pipes.

This is a beautiful well grained bent billiards with a nice hand feel, is perfectly proportioned and the quality just oozes out of every inch of the pipe. The sterling silver ferrule at the shank end bears the stamp of “BBB” enclosed in trademark rhombus over “STERLING” over “SILVER”. The stamping on the right side is greatly faded and only “MAKE” is visible under magnification and bright lights. The left side of the shank bears the slightly worn out shape code “304”. The high quality vulcanite stem has the trademark metal rhombus stamped “BBB”. I have worked on quite a few BBB pipes in the past and read a ton of material from various sources on BBB and to save time of our esteemed readers, I shall not reproduce the article but have provided a link for the most reliable and concise information on pipedia.org, https://pipedia.org/wiki/BBB

What were of interest to me, however, were the BBB catalogs that Doug Valitchka has contributed on pipedia.org. I reproduce a picture of the Sterling Silver line of pipes from BBB that gives out a brief introduction to the line and also the cost of the Sterling Silver line of pipes prevalent at that time. This and the subsequent link that I shall be providing, is a strongly recommended read for all those interested in old flyers and promotional endeavors from BBB.Pipedia.org also has a link to a PDF copy of 1960 brochure which is a very strong recommendation either for referencing or as a general read (https://pipedia.org/images/e/e8/BBB_1960.pdf). The pipe currently on my table has a shape number 304 which has been described in the brochure as a Bent Billiard.

Thus from the above, this pipe must have been with my grandfather from somewhere since late 1950s or very early 1960s making it 60 year old, give or take a few.

Initial Visual Inspection
The chamber has a thick layer of cake, so thick that I am unable to see the heel of the chamber. There is a heavy overflow of lava over the rim surface. The stummel appears dull and lackluster from all the heavy use and overflowing oils and tars which has attracted a ton of dust and grime from years of storage. However beneath all the dirt and grime some beautiful bird’s eye and cross grain over the stummel awaits revelation. There are a few dents, dings and chipped surface in the stummel. The sterling Silver band has turned black due to oxidation. The vulcanite stem is heavily oxidized with deep tooth chatter/ bite marks and calcification in the bite zone. The airway is clogged with dried oils and crud. Shown below is the pipe as it presents itself on my worktable. Dimensions Of The Pipe
(a) Overall length of the pipe:          5.2 inches.

(b) Bowl height:                                  1.7 inches.

(c) Inner diameter of chamber:        0.8 inches.

(d) Outer diameter of chamber:      1.2 inches.

Detailed Inspection
Apparently this chamber has never ever seen a pipe reamer nor has ever experienced the luxury of having a cake of the thickness of a dime. There is a thick layer of cake in the chamber which restricts reaching to the bottom of the chamber. The cake is very hard and dry and it was with some difficulty that I could pry out a couple of chips of cake from the rim surface with my knife. This is going to be one bugger to clean, I say. The thick lava overflow over the rim top surface obscures the condition of the rim surface and will be ascertained only after the crud is removed. Ditto as regards the condition of the chamber wall. I shall deliberate in detail on these issues once the cake has been rid of. The ghost smells are very strong, in fact so strong that the entire room reeked of the smell of rancid tobacco. The stummel is covered in overflowing carbon, oils and ash. Add to this grime, the many years of dust and dirt due to uncared for storage ground into the surface and you have a filthy, dull and dirty looking briar. There are some tightly packed Bird’s eye grains peeking from either sides of the stummel while beautiful cross grains adorn the fore and aft of the bowl. There are a few scratches, dents and dings over the stummel surface (enclosed in pastel blue), nothing severe that would need to be filled. However, to the front of the bowl just below and along the outer edge of the rim, there are a couple of spots that are missing briar (green circle). I may have to rebuild it using briar dust and superglue. The mortise is chock-a-block with old oils, tars and gunk to the extent that I couldn’t see the light in the chamber. The Sterling Silver ferrule is deeply oxidized but without any damage. Cleaning this pipe will be a long haul. The vulcanite stem is deeply oxidized but thankfully without any major damage. There are few tooth indentations and tooth chatter on either surfaces of the stem along with calcification in the bite zone. The button edges on either side have been chewed and would benefit from a rebuild/ reshaping. The step tenon opening is completely clogged and remnants of oils and tars and gunk can be easily observed on the sides and on the inside of the opening. The horizontal slot face is brutally oxidized and filled with gunk. The smells emanating from the stem are quite strong and repulsive. The brass logo is crisp and intact and would benefit from a nice polish.The Process…
Since there were other stems that were ready to be put into the stem deoxidizer solution, I decided to clean the internals of this stem first so that it could be put in the solution with other stems. I cleaned the stem airway with a thin shank brush and anti oil soap. The amount of gunk that was cleaned can be judged from the pictures below. It took considerable time and elbow grease to get the stem airway clean. In spite of my best efforts, I could not get the brush to completely pass through the stem. Closer inspection of the slot end confirmed my worst fears and I could see that the slot was blocked with the crud from the stem airway. I used a sharp dental tool to pry out the block and further cleaned the internals with regular and bristled pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol.This internal cleaning was followed by sanding the stem external surface with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to loosen up and remove superficial oxidation. It has been our experience that such sanding yields the best end results after the deoxidizer solution has completed its assigned task. Before dunking the stem in the deoxidizer solution, it was cleaned up with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a cotton swab.The stem was immersed in the Before and After Deoxidizer solution, a product that has been developed by Mark Hoover. This solution raises the oxidation to the stem surface and helps in easy removal and imparting a nice shine to the stem after polishing. The pipe is indicated with an orange arrow indicator. The stem is allowed to soak into this solution overnight.The next morning, Abha took the stem out from the solution. She cleaned the stem under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using a Scotch Brite pad and cleaned the airway with a thin shank brush. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little EVO to rehydrate the stem. She ran a couple of pipe cleaners through the stem airway to clean the airway of the deoxidizer solution and water. There is a need to further sand the stem to completely remove the oxidation.Continuing with the stem repairs, to address the deeper tooth indentations/ bite marks, I warmed up the bite zone with the flame of a lighter. The heat helps to expand the vulcanite and retain its original shape. This method may not always completely raise the depressions to the surface, but most of the times, to a great extent. In this case the tooth indentations were raised to a great extent, but the damage to the button edge would require a rebuild. I followed up the heating of the stem surface with sanding the bite zone with a worn out piece of 180 grit sandpaper to even out the surface. Next I rebuilt the button edge with a mix of activated charcoal and superglue. I applied it over the buttons on either sides of the stem and set it aside for the mix to cure.Now it was time for me to work on the stummel. I did this by first reaming the chamber with size 1 followed by size 2 PipNet reamer head. I further scraped the chamber walls with my fabricated knife to remove the remaining carbon deposits where the reamer head could not reach. I scraped out the lava overflow from the rim top surface. Once the cake was reamed back to the bare briar, I used a 150 grit sand paper followed by 220 grit sand paper to remove all the traces of remaining cake and also to smooth out the inner walls of the chamber surface. Finally, to remove the residual carbon dust, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. The huge pile of carbon dust that was reamed out is an indication enough to the amount of carbon that had accumulated in the chamber.With the chamber and rim top surface free of all the cake and overflowing oils and tars, I took a closer look at the chamber and rim top surface. The rim top has a number of dents and is undulated, probably a result of striking against a hard surface to remove dottle. Also a result of these strikes is that the outer rim edge is chipped and damaged on the left side between 9 and 12 o’clock direction (encircled in pastel blue). The inner rim appears to have had a bevel and there seem to be signs of charring on the right side (encircled in yellow). There are webbings of thin superficial heat lines along the wall of the chamber (indicated by green arrows); however these are to be expected in a pipe that has been so heavily smoked. These heat lines are very minor and superficial and do not detract from the smoke worthiness of this pipe for the next 60 years.During the handling of the stummel, the Sterling silver band came off allowing me to check for damage underneath the band. Thankfully other than being filthy, there was none. I cleaned the mortise with hard bristled pipe cleaners and alcohol. Using a fabricated tool, I scraped the dried accumulated gunk from the mortise to the extent possible. The mortise would be further cleaned during the stummel cleaning. With the internal cleaning done, it was time for the external cleaning of the stummel surface. I used a hard bristled tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap, to scrub the stummel and rim top. The hardened and stubborn cake was dislodged from the rim surface and shank end using Scotch Brite pad and with a brass wired brush. I washed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the stummel surface was clean and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. It is pertinent to mention here that even after all this cleaning of the chamber and shank internals, the ghost smells are still very invasive. This would require adoption of more invasive methods to get rid of these old smells.Since the stummel and stem were drying and curing respectively, I completed one of the mundane but equally important tasks of polishing the Sterling silver band. I used a local product that is available in India only to polish the band. The liquid polish was applied to the band and wiped it out after a few seconds. The polish completely removed the oxidation and gave a nice shine to the band.To address the rim top damage, I topped the rim top on 220 grit sandpaper till the surface was nice and even. I hate losing any briar and restrict it to the barest minimum that is required. The damage to the outer rim edge, though greatly eliminated, can still be seen to the front side (encircled in green). This would need to be reconstructed subsequently. The charring to the inner rim edge is still visible (encircled in orange). These issues could be completely addressed by the process of topping but the extent of topping that would be required to do so would alter the bowl height and also the entire pipe profile. I decided subject the stummel to an alcohol bath to address the strong smells from the stummel before moving ahead with repairs to the inner and outer rim edges. I used cotton balls which is an at par substitute to Kosher salt as I have realized over the years. I drew out a wick from the cotton and along with a folded regular pipe cleaner; inserted it into the mortise and through the draught hole into the chamber. Thereafter, I packed the chamber with cotton balls to about quarter of an inch below the inner rim edge and soaked the cotton balls with isopropyl alcohol up to the brim. About half an hour later, the level of alcohol had gone down, having being absorbed by the cotton. I topped it up once again and set it aside overnight. By next morning, the cotton and alcohol had drawn out all the remaining oils and tars from the chamber and mortise, fulfilling its intended task. I removed the cotton balls and ran pipe cleaners through the mortise to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk and further cleaned it with alcohol and q-tips. The chamber now smells clean and fresh. I set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. While the stummel was soaking in the alcohol bath, I had a look at the stem repairs and found the repairs completely cured. With a flat head needle file, I sanded these fills to achieve a rough match with the stem surface. I further fine tuned the match by sanding the repairs with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger. I followed it up by sanding the entire stem surface using 320, 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1500 and finally with a piece of 2000 grit sand paper. This serves to reduce the sanding marks of the more abrasive sand papers. I also sharpened the button edges while sanding. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the oxidation and sanding dust from the surface. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil over the stem and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite. Returning back to the stummel repairs, with a folded piece of worn out 180 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger, I carefully gave a rough bevel to the inner rim edge and addressed the issue of charred inner rim edge. I filled up the chipped areas on the outer rim edge with a mix of superglue and briar dust and set the stummel aside for the fills to cure and harden.Once the mix had hardened, with a flat head needle file I sanded the fills to achieve a rough match with the rest of the rim edge. I further blended in the fills with a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper. I also sharpened the rough bevel to the inner edge that I had cut earlier. The rim top surface and the edges look much better at this stage of restoration. I further sanded the entire stummel with a piece of 220 grit sand paper to address the minor scratches and dings that would otherwise show after micromesh polishing cycle. I followed it by wet sanding the stummel with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, wiping frequently with a moist cloth to check the progress. I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep into the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush and gave a vigorous buff with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The beauty of this piece of briar is marred ever so slightly by a small pit on the left side of the bowl at the shank and bowl junction. Other than this, the briar only has only bird’s eyes and cross grains to boast. No wonder then that it was sold as a mid level line, below VIRGIN and above THORNEYCROFT.

To put the finishing touches, I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel onto my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding. Next, I mounted another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I mounted a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and gave the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe with the aged patina to the briar looks amazingly beautiful and is now ready for its long second innings with me.

Repairing A Burnout On A Loewe “Chubby”


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

The next pipe that I selected to work on was purchased on eBay way back in 2016 ! When the pipe reached us, I was aghast to see a charred and completely blackened foot of the stummel. There was no mention of the pipe being damaged anywhere in the description of the pipe uploaded by the Seller. To cut the ramble short, I communicated with the Seller about the condition of the pipe and was promptly issued with a complete refund, including the cost of shipping with a note that I could keep the pipe and a hope of continued patronage of his store on eBay. That’s the story of how this beauty came to me and now after all these years of restoring pipes, it finds its way to my work table. Unfortunately, way back then I never took any pictures of the purchased pipes and neither did I chronicle my collection and thus the reason for lack of pictures!

This beautiful smallish pipe has a unique shape that could be described as an oval shank squashed Tomato, if that’s any shape, and hence would loosely term this pipe as a Freehand. It is stamped over the top surface of the broad oval shank as “L & Co” in an oval over “GREAT BRITAIN”. The bottom surface of the shank is stamped “LOEWE” over “LONDON.W” over “CHUBBY”. The top surface of the high quality vulcanite saddle stem is stamped “L & Co” in an oval. This stamping over the stem is considerably worn out and though I would love to but unlikely to be highlighted. The stummel stampings, however, are deep and crisp.I have quite a few Loewe pipes in my collection and have researched this brand when I had worked on a couple from my inherited pipes. I knew that this brand from Haymarket, London was founded by Frenchman Emil Loewe in late 1850s and has the distinction of being first to manufacture Briar pipes. The company was taken over by Civic and later on as with most of the British marquee, was finally taken over by the Cadogan Group. Pipedia has a wealth of information which I went through again to refresh my memory. Here is the pipedia.org link to the article on Loewe pipes…Loewe & Co. – Pipedia

Further down the article, is a link (Dating Loewe Pipes – Pipedia) to date Loewe pipes by Michael Lankton which was of interest as it is very informative and is a highly recommended read for collectors of Loewe pipes.

For our intents the pipe I have is from the Civic Era (1964-1967), where the nomenclature was unchanged but the pipes certainly were, and 1967-1978 where the past goes out the window and decidedly un-Loewe-like 3 digit shapes numbers appear.

Loewe is my favorite pipe maker. How to rank them in terms of the many great London made pipes of their era? For me in the simplest of subjective terms, Loewe pipes from before the Civic Era are like Comoy’s, but even better. After Civic took over in 1964 I suppose the quality of Loewe was very comparable to a lower end GBD, which means they were still ok pipes but not up to previous standards. But those earlier pipes…to me they’re just as good as it gets.

One thing I’ve noticed is most of the old Loewes you see look rode hard and put up wet, which tells me that their owners loved them and smoked them, which is the highest praise any brand can gain.

From my research on it I can safely that the Loewe pipe on my table is from the Early Civic Era 1964 to 1967.

Initial Visual Inspection
I have a faint remembrance of the pipe being in a decent state with minimal cake and a nice shining black stem. The major issue was the charred and blackened foot of the stummel. I remember having knocked at the charred surface to gauge the extent of burnout and was left with the gaping hole at the foot. There is a thin layer of cake in the chamber and the pipe does not appear to have seen heavy usage. The delicately beveled rim is in pristine condition and so is the stem. In my appreciation of the pipe’s condition, I think this burnout occurred very early in to the existence of the pipe probably caused by smoking the pipe too hot. Given below are a few pictures of the pipe as it sits on my work table.Detailed Inspection
As I had mentioned earlier, I had not taken any pictures either of the burnout at the foot of the stummel or my fiddling to remove the charred briar from the damaged area. The chamber has a thin layer of cake and of course the huge gaping hole at the heel is sans any cake. The surface from where the charred wood was removed by me is highly uneven. The outer rim slopes inwards to form the thin rim top surface and has a delicate bevel to the inner rim edge and is in pristine condition. The minor darkening to the inner rim edge at 6 o’clock is superficial and it should clean up easily. Another issue that I have observed is that the draught hole is above the heel of the chamber. I need to figure out a way to build up the heel of the chamber to the level of the draught hole. The only area that would need some serious work is at the heel of the stummel. The area adjoining the burn out still has remnants of the charred wood that would need to be addressed. The rest of the stummel exterior is in pristine condition and would benefit from some TLC to bring it back to its former stunning newness. The mortise is nice and clean and has just a few speckles of carbon and dust. This should clean up easily.The oval broad stem is also nice, clean and surprisingly shiny. There are no bite marks or chatter or indentations in the bite zone. It is unfortunate that the stem logo is wiped out to a great extent. The one issue that needs to be addressed here is the loose seating of the tenon into the shank. The Process
The first step in restoring this particular pipe was the cleaning of the chamber. I used my fabricated knife to scrap off the thin carbon layer. That the cake was crumbly and completely dry made this cleaning a lot easier and faster. With a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper, I took the cake down to the bare briar and also smoothed the chamber walls. A final wipe with a cotton swab moistened with isopropyl alcohol removed the carbon dust from the chamber and revealed a chamber sans any damage. The charred briar from around the burned out area on the foot of the stummel was further removed using my fabricated knife. Now that all the charred briar wood was removed, it was necessary to smooth out the edges of the burnt out area to ensure an even round hole for a snug fitting briar plug. I mounted a sanding drum onto my hand held rotary tool and evened out the edges. I continued the process of sanding till I could clearly make out solid briar peeking out from the edges. Next I marked out the inner diameter of the carved out burnout area over a block of briar using a marker pen. I cut a suitably sized block of briar to be shaped into a plug using a small hacksaw blade.Using a sanding drum mounted on a rotary tool, I rough shaped the plug that would fit into the foot of the stummel. I deliberately left the top of the plug duly flanged (indicated with blue arrows). The general idea was to push the plug from inside the chamber to the outside so that the plug flanges will seat over the remaining intact heel of the chamber forming a new heel and also raising the heel to just below the draught hole. Now that the plug and area to be plugged is all prepped up, I decided to complete the internal and external cleaning of the stummel before plugging the burned out area. I ran a pipe cleaner dipped in isopropyl alcohol through the mortise and along the shank walls. I scraped out the dried out oils from the shank walls using a sharp dental tool.I followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and a hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and a hard bristled shank brush.Abha simultaneously cleaned the internals of the stem with anti-oil dish soap and brushes. She also cleaned the external surface with the soap and Scotch Brite pad.To fix the briar plug in to the heel of the chamber, I decided to apply a layer of JB Weld to the bottom of the entire heel. J B Weld is a two-part epoxy Cold Weld that consists of two parts; hardener and steel which are mixed in equal parts in a ratio of 1:1 with hardening time of 5-6 minutes and complete curing time of 6-8 hours. I poured the contents of the two tubes and mixed it well. With a flat bamboo frond, I applied this mix over the heel of the chamber from inside. I worked fast to ensure a complete and even spread of the epoxy mix over the bottom and then pressed the plug in place. I set the stummel aside for the epoxy to cure overnight.By the following morning, the epoxy had completely hardened. I turned the bowl over and filled the minor gaps between the briar plug and the adjoining stummel surface with medium CA superglue and set it aside while I went for my work. By the time I would return from my office in the evening, the glue would have hardened completely for further work.While the stummel repairs were under progress, Abha polished the stem with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. She wiped it lightly with a moist cloth and polished the stem surface with “Before and After Extra fine” stem polish developed by Mark Hoover. This polish helps in removing the minor scratches left behind due to sanding while imparting a nice shine to the stem. She finished the stem polishing and rubbed a small quantity of EVO into the stem surface and set it aside for the oil to be absorbed.By evening when I continued my work on this pipe, the J B Weld as well as the superglue had cured completely. Using a small hacksaw, I cut the protruding plug as close to the foot of the stummel as possible. I further match the plug with the rest of the stummel foot with a flat head needle file. I perfectly matched the plug with the rest of the surrounding surface by sanding with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. The plug is now flush with the foot of the stummel while the flanges of the plug provide additional support to the plug from within the chamber. The floor of the heel is also raised and is just below the draught hole.I had reached that stage in restoration where an important decision was required to be taken which would affect the aesthetics of the pipe. To blend in the repair, I wanted to rusticate only the foot of the stummel and discussed this step with Abha. She was of the opinion that a perfect geometrical pattern does not go with the flow of the shape and recommended a free flowing rustication pattern. I sought her help in designing the free flowing pattern and marked it over the foot of the stummel with a marker. The design she marked makes for an interesting look.To rusticate, I firmly held the stummel in my left hand and with my right hand and began gouging out the briar. The technique is to firmly press the pointed four prongs of the modified Philips screwdriver into the surface, rotate and gouge out the removed chunk of briar. I worked diligently till I was satisfied with the rustications and the appearance of the stummel. I cleaned the debris off the rusticated surface with a brass wired brush. The high points in the rustications were lightly sanded down using a piece of 220 grit sandpaper.Next I polished the stummel using micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I also polished the high spots in the rustication with the micromesh pads. I wiped the bowl with a moist cloth after each pad to clean the surface. The rusticated part of the stummel is now ready for a fresh coat of stain. I decided to stain the rusticated surface with a black dye which would contrast beautifully with the browns of the rest of the smooth surface. I heated the rusticated portion with my heat gun to open up the pores on the stummel so that the stain is well absorbed. I used Fiebing’s aniline black leather dye and liberally applied it over the heated surface, flaming it with the flame of a lighter. This helps in the setting of the stain in the grain of the briar. I ensured that every inch of the rusticated surface was coated with the dye while the smooth surfaces are not stained. I set the stummel aside for a day to set the dye into the briar surface. 24 hours later, the stain had set completely. To highlight the contrast of the high points in the rustication, I lightly sanded the high points with a worn out piece of 180 grit sandpaper followed by polishing by the method of dry sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads.Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” into the briar with my fingertips, worked it deep into the sandblasts as well as the smooth surface and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance over the smooth surface with the beautiful rusticated patterns on full display on the foot of the stummel. I further buffed it with a horse hair shoe brush. The next issue that I addressed was that of the loose seating of the stem into the mortise. With the flame of a lighter, I heated the tenon with the flame of a lighter till it was pliable and inserted a drill bit that was a bit larger in diameter than the tenon opening. This helps in expanding the pliable vulcanite for a snug fit. I held the tenon under cold tap water for the tenon to cool down and set the increased diameter. The seating was perfectly snug with just the right amount of resistance.The last functional aspect which I addressed at this stage was the protection of the repairs to the heel of the chamber. I mixed activated charcoal and yogurt to a consistency which allows for an easy and even spread and evenly applied it on the inner walls and heel of the chamber. This coating helps in preventing the epoxy at the heel of the chamber from coming into direct contact with the burning tobacco, a sort of insulation and assists in quicker formation of a cake. I set it aside to dry out naturally for a week. To complete the restoration, I first mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel that is dedicated for use with Blue Diamond, onto my hand held rotary tool.  I set the speed at about half of the full power and polished the entire pipe after the stem and stummel were united. The Blue Diamond compound helps to erase the minor scratches that are left behind even after micromesh polishing cycle. I followed the Blue Diamond polish by applying several coats of Carnauba Wax with a cotton cloth buffing wheel dedicated to Carnauba Wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine further. The finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and has been transformed from being a write off to being one in my rotation! The Pipe Gods are being very kind to me now-a-days and pray that they continue to be so. Following are the pictures of the restored pipe.