Tag Archives: article by Paresh Deshpande

Reconstructing a Broken Stem on a 1964 Dunhill Shell 253 f/t


Blog by Paresh Despande

I had just finished a second of the 30 pipes from my Mumbai Bonanza find, a 1979 DUNHILL BRUYERE 51671; here is the link to the write up; https://rebornpipes.com/2019/03/13/reconstructing-a-broken-stem-on-dunhill-bruyere-51671/

I was fortunate enough to have heeded to the advice of my dear friend and mentor, Mr. Steve, and struck a deal with a trash collector from Mumbai. He did not know what he was selling and I did not know what I was buying as we reside in different cities!! The argument that Mr. Steve presented was that if not anything, I shall at least have some spares and this was logical. I struck a deal and here are pictures of the pipes that I received in this lot. This lot contains some very nice collectible pipes, a few well known brand pipes and some mediocre pipe brands. Overall, with seven Dunhills, a Preben Holm #1, a couple of Made in England Pete System pipes, Charatan’s, Custom-Bilt, Stanwell and other assorted pipes, I would say that I had hit a huge jack pot!! Hence, I like to call this find as “Mumbai Bonanza”.

The pipe that I decided to work on next from this find is another Dunhill, a 1964 Shell Briar billiard, and is marked in an indigo circle in the picture below. It is stamped on the heel and the underside of the shank with the shape number 253 over a star followed by F/T followed by DUNHILL over Shell Briar over the COM stamp Made in England 4 which dates it as being made in 1964. This is followed by Group size number 4 in a circle and letter S for Shell. Dunhill White Dot adorns the top of the vulcanite stem. The stampings are deep, crisp and clear. I tried to search on pipedia.org for the significance of the star on the heel. However, the information available did not match with the stampings on the pipe on my worktable. I approached members in my group on FB. Their learned response indicated that Dunhill stamped their replacement stummel with a star at the bottom of the heel. They also assured me that these replacement bowls are intrinsically original with same quality as the original and that this does not affect the value of this pipe.

With assurance, I move ahead with the restoration of this beautiful medium sized and sandblasted Dunhill billiard.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The chamber is clean with a thin layer of cake which indicates that the pipe has been kept clean by its previous Steward. From what I can see, the chamber walls appear to be without any damage. The chamber is odorless. There is an overflow of lava on the rim top surface. The inner rim edge show minor unevenness which should be easy to address. It is the outer rim edge that shows significant damage in the form of dents, dings and scratches, all along the circumference. This must have been caused due to hammering of the edge against a hard surface to remove dottle!!!!! This being a Dunhill Shell, it will be a challenge for me to fix these dents. The mortise is clean and so is the shank airway. The condition of this pipe is very similar to the earlier Dunhill Bruyere that I have restored and makes me wonder if these could have come from the collection of the same Steward. The stummel boasts of some beautiful sandblast patterns, a mix of straight and cross grain all around. It is dirty with grime and tar filling in much of the craggy finish. The briar looks lifeless and dull which is nothing serious to address. The round shank of the Billiard flows into a long tapered stem which has a flare, like a fish tail, at the button end and hence the stamp F/T. The vulcanite stem shows significant damage to the button end, in fact, there is no button at all, similar to the Dunhill Bruyere that was restored earlier!!!!! This convinces me that there is a high probability that these have been previously enjoyed by the same Steward. The stem end is missing, well, about an inch of vulcanite. This pipe would have been his favorite and he had continued to enjoy bowls of his favorite tobacco long after the button end had been chewed off. This is evident from the significant tooth chatter on both the surfaces of the stem. I intend to reconstruct/ rebuild this portion of the stem, including the slot, while maintaining the stem and general profile of the pipe. This will require major repairs. The quality of vulcanite is good. The condenser tube inside the stem however will have to be cleaned and sanitized. In this project, repairs to the damaged outer edge and stem rebuild will be a major challenge, the stem more so, as achieving the fish tailed profile of the stem will need to be adhered to for overall aesthetic appeal of this piece of briar. Having just finished the tedious restoration of the Dunhill Bruyere, I am aware of the challenges this restoration will present en-route.

THE PROCESS
Since the stem has significant damage, and from my experience of stem repairs this will be time consuming and laborious part, I start this project by tackling the stem first. I had decided to rebuild the entire stem including the button and the slot, while giving the button end a slight flare which is the trademark of a fish tail stem. This decision was partly dictated by the fact that I do not have a rotary cutting blade to cut the damaged button end and partly to my innate desire to maintain the originality of the pipe. It’s a Dunhill after all!!

Now that I was clear about the path to be followed, I first flame both the surfaces of the stem with a Bic lighter. The heat from the flame raises the vulcanite to the surface and takes care of the tooth chatter that was seen earlier. I sand the stem end with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to erase the scratches and provide a smooth surface for the intended fill. I cleaned out the internals of the stem with hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. Once I was satisfied with the internal cleaning, I wiped the stem surface, particularly the damaged button end, with a cotton pad and alcohol to remove any traces of dirt and grime. To begin the stem repairs, I smeared a folded pipe cleaner with petroleum jelly and inserted it in to the stem airway. I prepared a mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal and generously applied it over and extending beyond the broken surface and set it aside for curing over night. I have not researched and measured the exact length that I had to reconstruct, but eyeballed the length using the longer right side of the stem where a portion of the button was still intact. Before moving ahead, I would like to mention here that I had applied this mix in layers, over the week, to achieve sufficient thickness which would help during the filing and sanding while shaping the button and achieving the correct stem profile. While the stem repair was set aside to cure, I moved ahead to deal with the stummel repairs. There was practically no cake in the chamber and so I directly used a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper to sand out the traces of cake and expose the walls of the chamber to ascertain that there are no cracks/ heat fissures. I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol to remove the carbon dust left behind by all the reaming and sanding process. The walls of the chamber were solid with no damage. This was followed by cleaning the mortise by scraping away at the dried gunk with my fabricated spatula and followed it up with further cleaning using cue tips, pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This eliminated all traces of old smells from previous usage.Continuing with the cleaning regimen, using a soft brass wired brush I gently scraped away the thick lava coat in the blast of the rim. With a hard bristled tooth brush and dipped in undiluted Murphy’s oil soap, I very deliberately scrubbed the sandblast finish on the stummel and the rim top. The stummel and rim top was dried using paper napkins and soft cotton cloth and set it aside to dry out naturally. The stummel looks fresh and clean. The damages to the outer rim edge are now clearly visible in the above pictures after the cleaning. At this point in the restoration, I was faced with the dilemma of whether or not should I top the bowl to address the rim damage. The issue was recreating the sandblast on the rim top after topping. I put this question to my friends from pipe restoration community on FB. Mr. Steve and Mr. Mark Domingues suggested that I stain the damaged areas with a stain pen and if this does not work, topping is the only recourse available. I went ahead with the suggestion and stained the damaged rim edges and rim top using Mahogany color stain pen. After it had dried completely, I again stained it with dark brown stain pen to darken it further. I set it aside for several hours before working on it any further. Here is how the rim appeared at this stage. Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” 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 contrasting hues colors that are unique to this sandblast pipe, on full display. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. I had hoped that the balm would work its magic on the filled area and help in blending it a bit, and in this instance, the blend was perfect. The damaged surface has blended to an extent that it appears like a sandblasted surface. Sometimes in life, the most difficult issues have the simplest solutions!! I set the stummel aside and turned my attention to the stem repair. The fill had cured nicely and I moved ahead and began the process of filing and shaping the button end with a flat head needle file. This time around it was more  challenging as I had set for my self the aim of creating a fish tail shape (or rather as close a match to fish tail as possible), a straight thin slot and a concave shape to the button end as seen on original stems. Learning from past mistakes, I marked a straight line for the slot orientation and using only the tip of the pointed needle file, I carved out the slot. I followed it up by sanding with folded pieces of 180 grit sand papers to laboriously shape and widen the slot, always taking care to maintain a straight line. Once I was satisfied with the profile of the slot, I went ahead and shaped the button by first achieving a rough shape with a flat head needle file and there after fine tuning it by sanding it down with a 220 grit sand paper. Unfortunately, being so engrossed in this process made me forget to take pictures of the progess of these stages.

For a better blending, I further sand the entire stem with 220 followed by 400, 600 and 800 grit sand paper. This helps to reduce the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with alcohol after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rehydrate the vulcanite. The repairs have blended in very well and the stem now looks shiny black and beautiful. The internals of the stem was once again cleaned out using alcohol and pipe cleaners to clear the airway of all the debris resulting due to the sanding. The finished stem is shown below. To finish, I re-attach the stem with the stummel. I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel to my local machine which is similar to the Dremel.  I set the speed at about half of the full power and applied White Diamond compound to the entire pipe. I wiped/ buffed the pipe 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. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The completed pipe looks lovely, fresh and vibrant. I cannot thank enough my friends Mr. Dal Stanton, Mr. Sam Vior, Mr. Victor Naddeo and Mr. Steve for helping me to research and complete this lovely 1964 made Dunhill Shell billiard.

 

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Reconstructing a Broken Stem on Dunhill Bruyere # 51671


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I had just finished the first of the 30 pipes from my Mumbai Bonanza find, a Stefano “EXCLUSIVE”; here is the link to the write up; https://rebornpipes.com/2019/03/11/mumbai-bonanza-stefano-exclusive-restorationa-month-long-project/

How did I land up with this lot makes for an interesting read and one which I have written about in the above restoration. Here are pictures of the pipes that I received in this lot. This lot contains some very nice collectible pipes, a few well known brand pipes and some mediocre pipe brands. Overall, with seven Dunhills, a Preben Holm #1, a couple of Made in England Pete System pipes, Charatan’s and other assorted pipes, I would say that I had hit a huge jack pot!!! Hence, I like to call this find as “Mumbai Bonanza”.

The pipe that I decided to work on is from this find and is marked in a red circle in the picture below. The stummel surface boasts of some beautiful bird’s eye grain on either side of the stummel while densely packed cross grain adorns the front and back of the stummel and also the shank top and bottom surface. It is stamped with “# 51671” towards the bowl and followed by “DUNHILL” over “BRUYERE” on the left side of the shank while the right side bears the COM stamp “MADE IN” over “ENGLAND” followed by underlined numeral “19”. Dunhill White Dot adorns the top of the vulcanite stem. The stampings on either side is deep, crisp and clear. The dating of this pipe is very straight forward and dates to 1979 (1960+19). However, deciphering the shape code, 51671, proved to be a challenge. The first digit 5 identifies this pipe as being Group size 5, second numeral, 1, identifies the style of mouthpiece as being tapered and this is where the ease ends and led to a lot of confusion with the next two digits. Though the shape appears as Zulu, it is not so since the shank is rounded. The profile of the pipe points towards it being a Horn shaped, but the shape code supports neither a Zulu nor a Horn!!! Well, another mystery which is likely to remain unresolved!!

With this information, I proceed ahead with the restoration of this handsome pipe, my first ever DUNHILL!

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The chamber is clean with a thin layer of cake which indicates that the pipe has been kept clean by its previous Steward. From what I can see, the chamber walls appear to be without any damage. The chamber is odorless. The inner rim edge show minor unevenness which should be easy to address. It is the outer rim edge that shows significant damage on the left side in 7 o’clock and 11 o’clock directions. This must have been caused due to hammering of the edge against a hard surface to remove dottle!! The rim top surface has a number of dents due to the same reason. The mortise is clean and so is the shank airway. The stummel surface is peppered with numerous dents and dings and scratches. Being a Dunhill, any issue of fills is never to be expected and hold true for this pipe too. These dents and ding are probably caused due to uncared for storage by the previous Steward and further contributed to by the trash collector who had sold the pipes to me. The stummel is covered in dirt and grime and is surprisingly slightly stick to the touch. The briar looks lifeless and dull which is nothing serious to address. The vulcanite stem shows significant damage to the button end, in fact, there is no button at all!! The stem end is missing, well, about half an inch of vulcanite. Heavy and slightly deep scratches can be seen extending upwards from the broken button side. The stem surface is very thin at the place where it has been chewed off by the previous owner. I intend to reconstruct/ rebuild this portion of the stem, including the slot, while maintaining the stem and general profile of the pipe. This will require major repairs. The quality of vulcanite is good. In this project, repairs to the damaged outer edge and stem rebuild will be a major challenge, the stem more so, as maintaining the tapered profile of the stem will need to be adhered to for overall appeal of this piece of briar. Having just finished the tedious restoration of the Stefano, I am aware of the challenges this restoration will be presenting enroute.

THE PROCESS
Since the stem has significant damage, and from my experience of stem repairs (Stefano nightmare!) this will be the most time consuming and laborious part of this restoration, I start this project by tackling the stem first. I was faced with two options in my approach to this stem repair; first was to recreate a new button around the broken part and maintain the existing stem profile with a straight slot and the second option was to cut away the damaged button and reconstruct an entirely new button with a straight horizontal slot, sacrificing the overall length of the pipe. I decided to take the former approach. This decision was partly dictated by the fact that I do not have a rotary cutting blade to cut the damaged button end and partly to my innate desire to maintain the originality of the pipe. It’s a Dunhill after all!!

Now that I was clear about the path to be followed, I sand the stem end with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to erase the scratches and provide a smooth surface for the intended fill. I cleaned out the internals of the stem with hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. Once I was satisfied with the internal cleaning, I wiped the stem surface, particularly the damaged button end, with a cotton pad and alcohol to remove any traces of dirt and grime. To begin the stem repairs, I smeared a folded pipe cleaner with petroleum jelly and inserted it in to the stem airway. I prepared a mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal and generously applied it over and extending beyond the broken surface and set it aside for curing over night. To be honest, I have not researched and measured the exact length that I had to reconstruct, but eyeballed the length using the longer left side of the stem (where a very tiny raised portion of the button is still visible) as a guiding length. Before moving ahead, I would like to mention here that I had applied this mix in layers, over the week, to achieve sufficient thickness which would help during the filing and sanding while shaping the button and achieving the correct stem profile. Once I was satisfied that the fill had cured nicely, I moved ahead and began the process of filing and shaping the button end with a flat head needle file. And then this happened… As you can see in the following pictures, not everything was lost. There remained a portion of the fill which was intact. Not one to give up and having the experience of the Stefano behind me, I persisted with the reconstruction. I made a fresh mix of activated charcoal and CA superglue, this time around increasing the amount of superglue, and reapplied it over the broken button end after inserting a petroleum jelly smeared a folded pipe cleaner. I continued with the layering technique of building up the fill.The next set of pictures show the progress of the stem rebuild using the layering technique. Slowly but surely, I am getting there!Once I had achieved the desired thickness and having let the fill cure for a few days, I proceed with shaping the button using flat head needle files. I am quite pleased with the way things are progressing at this point in restoration. However, fingers remain crossed and mentally remained prepared for disaster to strike anytime. At this stage, I am pretty satisfied with the profile of the stem, the thickness of the button and, in general, the overall progress on the stem rebuild. Also glad that there have been no further setbacks!!!! With this I proceed to shape the horizontal slot for the button. It is a long drawn process and a tedious one at that!! The inside of the slot needed to be smoothed out while maintaining the thickness of the button edge on either side. I build up the insides of the slot by layering it with superglue, letting it cure, sanding and then applying a fresh layer. I must have repeated this process for good about a week plus!!!! The external surface of the slot was also developed the same way and this helped in maintaining the thickness of the button edge.While the stem repair was progressing at its own pace, I moved ahead to deal with the stummel repairs. Given the size of the chamber, I reamed the chamber with size 4 head of a PipNet reamer. The cake was thicker at the bottom and used the size 2 head to remove the cake. I used my fabricated knife and scraped out all the remaining cake. The amount of cake reamed out of the chamber really surprised me as I was expecting minimum cake. I further used one folded piece of 180 grit sand paper to sand out the last traces of remaining cake and expose the walls of the chamber to ascertain that there are no cracks/ heat fissures. I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol to remove the carbon dust left behind by all the reaming and sanding process. The walls of the chamber were solid with no damage. This was followed by cleaning the mortise by scraping away at the dried gunk with my fabricated spatula and followed it up with further cleaning using cue tips, pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This eliminated all traces of old smells from previous usage. Continuing with the cleaning regime, using a hard bristled tooth brush dipped in undiluted Murphy’s oil soap, I very deliberately scrubbed the surface of the stummel and the rim top. The original reddish dye was also washed away to some extent. The stummel and rim top was dried using paper napkins and soft cotton cloth. I set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. The damages to the outer rim edge, uneven inner rim edge and stummel dents and dings are now clearly visible in the above pictures after the cleaning.

Next, I decided to address the dents and dings on the stummel surface and the damage on the rim outer edge by steaming them out. I heated my fabricated knife over the flame of a candle, placed a wet Turkish hand towel over the damaged areas and steamed out the dents by placing the heated knife over the towel. Though some dents were still observed, these were greatly reduced when compared to before steaming. The steaming method had raised to the surface all the major dents and dings. However, the outer edge of the rim still remained unaffected. The steaming method having failed to address the issue of the damaged outer rim edge, I decided to use a more aggressive method of topping the rim top. Personally, I prefer to avoid topping as I do not appreciate loosing even one mm of briar estate, but in this instance, I was left with no recourse but to top the rim. I topped the rim on a 220 grit sand paper, checking frequently the progress being made. The damage to the outer rim was so extensive that the even after what felt like ages of topping, the damage was still apparent. Finally, I just did not feel like topping any further and hence decided on another course of action. I would rebuild the outer edge with briar dust and superglue. Having decided on this course of action, I lightly top it on 600 grit sand paper to reduce the sanding marks left behind by the 220. The only benefit derived from this topping was that the inner rim is now perfect and I collected some briar dust!

I tried mixing briar dust with superglue, but to no avail. The moment the two came in contact with each other, the mix hardened. So I resorted to the layering method again, first I layered superglue over the damaged surface followed by sprinkling of briar dust and one final layer of superglue. I set the stummel aside to cure. The only problem with this method is the high probability of presence of air pockets.The next evening, the repairs to the edge had completely cured and I move ahead by filing and rough shaping with a flat head needle file. I further fine tune the blending by sanding it down with 220, 320, 600 and 800 grit sand papers. Here is how the repaired area appears at this stage. I am very pleased with the way this repair progressed.Steaming out the dents and dings from the stummel surface had necessitated that the surface of the stummel be evened out by sanding. I sand the entire stummel using 220, 400, 600 and 800 grit sand papers. The little dents and dings that remained on the stummel and outer rim edge were also evened out under this sanding process. This was followed by polishing with micromesh pads. I wet sand the stummel with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and follow it up by dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the surface with a moist cotton cloth after every wet pad to check the progress. The repaired rim edge now appears shiny and glossy. This has got me a bit worried as it stands out from the rest of the stummel surface. I fervently pray that this is masked after I have stained it. I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” 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. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. I had hoped that the balm would work its magic on the filled area and help in blending it a bit, but that did not happen. I had simultaneously been working on the stem reconstruction by building up the slot and button using the layering technique. Though tedious, I have reached a satisfactory stage from where I can fine tune the slot and button edges. What followed were hours of tedious, back breaking and nerve wracking process of sanding and shaping of the slot and the button. Though the slot is not a perfect horizontal straight opening, rather a slight oval, I have managed to match the profile and dimensions of the original stem and the pipe is definitely smokable. Here are pictures of the progress.For a better blending, I further sanded the entire stem with 220 followed by 400, 600 and 800 grit sand paper. This helps to reduce the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with alcohol after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rehydrate the vulcanite. The repairs have blended in very well and the stem now looks a shiny black and beautiful. The internals of the stem was cleaned out using alcohol and pipe cleaners. The finished stem is shown below. I kept the stem aside to let the stem absorb the oil and turn my attention towards the stummel. I decided to stain the stummel in cherry red stain which was the original stain true to the Bruyere line of Dunhill pipes. I use the powder variety of stain and mix it with 99% isopropyl alcohol. I heated the stummel surface with a heat gun and applied the stain with a folded pipe cleaner. As I paint the stummel with stain over sections at a time, I burn the dye using a Bic lighter that combusts the alcohol in the aniline dye and sets the dye pigmentation in the wood.  After fully saturating the stummel and covering the whole surface, including the rim top, I set the stummel aside to rest for several hours. By next evening, the stain had set nicely. I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel (because I do not have felt cloth buffing wheels!!) on the Dremel and set the speed at about 40% of full RPM and apply red compound to the stummel. This does help in revealing the grains gradually; however, my fears had come true. The repairs to the outer edge of the rim did not absorb the stain and is encircled in yellow. To finish, I re-attach the stem with the stummel. I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel (actually it is not the brand machine, but a local machine which is similar).  I set the speed at about half of the full power and applied White Diamond compound to the entire pipe. I wiped/ buffed the pipe 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. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The completed pipe looks lovely, fresh and vibrant; the photographs in this case, do not do justice to the appearance of this beautiful pipe, my first Dunhill. I cannot thank enough my friends Mr. Dal Stanton, Mr. Sam Vior, Mr. Victor Naddeo and Mr. Steve for helping me to research and complete this mysteriously stamped Dunhill pipe. PS: The readers would have observed the fact that the rim repair could not blend completely in spite of my best of efforts and still I have highlighted the flaw while the general tendency is to hide it. True, there are reasons for me highlighting the flaws; firstly, if I cannot hide it from myself, than why attempt to pretend it’s not there and secondly, the highlighting will encourage you to have a closer look at the flaw and maybe you could have an explanation for it in the first place and share it with me. This will help me in avoiding these mistakes in my future restorations. Third and most important reason is that a newbie somewhere who is not so fortunate like me to have friends and mentor that I have will also benefit from my mistakes.

 

Mumbai Bonanza: Stefano “Exclusive” Restoration…a month long project


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I was on leave a few months back. Two days before I was to rejoin my work place, I received a call from a friend in Mumbai saying that he had come across a person who collects trash and unwanted items from all posh bungalows and apartments in the area and that he had a seen a few pipes, similar to the ones I restore, in his cart. This friend had taken down his contact number and shared it with me. Now the readers of this write up must understand that we do not have a “Pipe Culture”!! During colonial days, smoking a pipe was common and after the British left, in next few decades, it died its natural death. Today, pipes are not available here and neither is pipe tobacco!! So with this background, it came as a big surprise to me that a trash collector had pipes. I had nothing to lose by giving him a call and this is exactly what I did. While I was speaking to him, it dawned on me that this person did not know what he was selling, could not read or text me the stampings on the pipes. The conversation that I had with him in my local dialect was nothing short of being hilarious. I could not make out what I would be purchasing and he did not know what he was trying to sell!! He had 30 pipes for sale. I am very pathetic at any form of gambling and in such case bad luck follows me like a shadow. I shared this dilemma with Mr. Steve who suggested that I should go ahead and strike a deal. If nothing else, I shall have some spares!! That sounded logical and I struck a deal with the “kabadiwala” (this is what a trash collector is called here in local parlance) for all 30 pipes. The next day I joined my work place and the parcel reached Abha, my wife, after about 10 days. Here is what she received in the parcel. This parcel contained some very nice collectible pipes, a few well known brand pipes and some mediocre pipe brands. Overall, with seven Dunhills, a Preben Holm #1, a couple of Made in England Pete System pipes, Charatan’s and other assorted pipes, I would say that I had hit a huge jack pot!!! Hence, I like to call this find as “Mumbai Bonanza”.

The pipe that I decided to work on is from this find and is marked in a red circle in the picture below (little did I know what I was getting in to at this point!!!). It’s stamped as “Stefano” in small italics over “EXCLUSIVE” in block letters on the left side of the shank and on the right side of the shank it is stamped as “SELECTED” over “BRIAR”. The stummel shows some lovely straight grain which contrasts with the rest of the swirls on the stummel surface. The quarter bent tapered saddle vulcanite stem bears the “crown” logo on the top surface and is designed to take a 9mm filter.

To research this pipe, I turned to pipedia.org and the search for “Stefano” led me to the page on Stefano Santambrogio,  here is the link to the page; https://pipedia.org/wiki/Santambrogio

The information gleaned from this page is that this is an Italian manufactured pipe by Santambrogio family who are in to pipe manufacturing since 1912!! The present owner, Mr. Stefano Santambrogio has been at the helm of affairs since 1981. What really baffled me was the stem logo which was very different to what I have on the pipe in front of me. I decided to narrow down my research for the stem logo and turned to another site which I frequent, pipephil.eu.

I specifically searched for stems with crown logo and there it was at the end of the list marked as “Stefano”. The match was perfect. One click on the link led me to http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-s3.html#santambrogio

Here the information available was more or less similar to that on pipedia.org, however, it was mentioned that Stefano could be a Santambrogio second. Another click on Stefano took me to a page which had pipes with identical stamping on the shank and stem logo to the one I was working on. It was revealed that Stefano was indeed a Santambrogio export for the German market!!

With this information, I proceed ahead with the restoration of this handsome pipe.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The chamber is clean with a thin layer of cake which pleases me no end as this would be a first for me. From what I can see, the chamber walls appear to be sans any damage. The chamber smells of a strong aromatic tobacco and needs to be addressed.The stummel is stained in an orange dye which has worn out in time. At places, it appears like a patch work. The stummel surface is peppered with numerous dents and dings, and a large number of huge fills on the right side of the stummel and the shank. These fills need to be refreshed. I intend to sand the stummel surface with grit papers with two-fold aim; first is to get rid of the orange stain color and second is to minimize the dents and dings from the surface. The plateau rim top surface has little traces of lava overflow and should be easy to deal with. The mortise is surprisingly filthy given how clean the chamber and the rim top appear to be. The vulcanite stem shows significant damage to the upper button, side wall and the round slot, but it is not oxidized. The pseudo p-lip style bit has a through and through hole exposing the airway. This will require major repairs. The quality of vulcanite is good.

THE PROCESS
Since the stem has significant damage, and from my experience of stem repairs this will be the most time consuming and laborious part of this restoration, I start this project by tackling the stem first. I was faced with two options in my approach to this stem repair; first was to recreate a new button around the broken part and maintain the existing stem profile with a round slot and the second option was to cut away the damaged button and reconstruct an entirely new button with a straight horizontal slot, sacrificing the P-lip shape. I decided to take the former approach. This decision was partly dictated by the fact that I do not have a rotary cutting blade to cut the damaged button end and partly to my innate desire to maintain the originality of any pipe.

Now that I was clear about the path to be followed, I cleaned out the internals of the stem with hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I also cleaned the wide tenon with q-tips dipped in alcohol. Once I was satisfied with the internal cleaning, I wiped the stem surface, particularly the damaged button end, with a cotton pad and alcohol to remove any traces of dirt and grime. To begin the stem repairs, I smeared a pipe cleaner with petroleum jelly and inserted it in to the stem airway. I prepared a mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal and generously applied it over the gaping hole in the button of the stem and set it aside for curing over night. Before moving ahead, I would like to mention here that I had applied this mix in layers, over the week, to achieve sufficient thickness which would help during the filing and sanding while shaping the button.While the stem repair was progressing at its own pace, I moved ahead to deal with the stummel repairs. Given the size of the chamber, I reamed the chamber with size 4 head of a PipNet reamer. I used my fabricated knife and scraped out all the remaining cake. The amount of cake reamed out of the chamber really surprised me as I was expecting minimum cake. I further used a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper to sand out the last traces of remaining cake and expose the walls of the chamber to ascertain that there are no cracks/ heat fissures. I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol to remove the carbon dust left behind by all the reaming and sanding process. The walls of the chamber were solid with no damage. I gently scraped the plateau rim top surface with a sharp knife to remove the lava overflow. This was followed by cleaning the mortise with cue tips, pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This further eliminated traces of old smells from previous usage. The old smell was still strong, though. Continuing the cleaning regime, using a hard bristled tooth brush dipped in undiluted Murphy’s oil soap, I very deliberately scrubbed the surface of the stummel. I cleaned the plateau rim top with a brass wired brush. The original orange dye was also washed away to some extent. The stummel and rim top was dried using paper napkins and soft cotton cloth. The old fills are now clearly visible and appear like festering flesh wound, ugly in appearance. This will have to be addressed. I set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. To completely eliminate the smell, I decided to resort to alcohol bath. I packed the chamber, just below the rim, with cotton balls. I stretched a cotton ball into a thick wick, tapering at one end, and inserted it in to the shank and pushed it as far inside as I could along with a regular pipe cleaner. I topped the bowl with isopropyl alcohol using a syringe. I know that it is generally a practice to use Kosher salt for this procedure, but since Kosher salt is not easily available here, and when available, it’s very expensive, I use cotton balls. I find that cotton balls work just fine in drawing out all the tars and smells from the mortise and the bowl. I topped the bowl with alcohol again after 30 minutes when the alcohol level had gone down and set it aside overnight for the cotton and alcohol to do its intended job. The next day, the cotton and alcohol had fulfilled its intended task. The pipe cleaner had also drawn out all the stain from within the mortise. I removed the cotton balls and ran pipe cleaners through the mortise to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk. The internals of the stummel is now clean and fresh and the ghost smells are history too.The stage is now set for repairs to the stummel surface. I address the fills, first by gouging out the old fills with a sharp knife and cleaning the surface with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This was followed by filling these gouges with a mix of briar dust and CA superglue. I always over fill the gouges so that when I sand them down they are smooth and I can feather in the fills with the rest of the briar. I set the stummel aside to cure overnight. I would like to remind the readers that all these days, layering of the stem button with charcoal and superglue had been in progress and now I was satisfied with the thickness of the layering. Using a needle file, I sand the filling to match the surface of the stem. However, disaster struck within a few moments of filing!! The filling broke away from the intact portion of the button. It was, in all probability, due to higher content ratio of activated charcoal in the mix (though I am not convinced entirely) or could be lack of adequate curing (most likely). The bottom line remains that I had to repeat the entire layering process on the button end again…..frustrating to say the least, thus NO PICTURES OF THE DISASTER TAKEN!!Well, what was to happen has happened!! Moving on, the stummel fills had cured and I proceeded to sand the fills with a flat head needle file and 180 and 220 grit sand papers to achieve a rough blend of the fills with the rest of the stummel.  For a better blending, I further sanded the entire stummel with 220 followed by 400 and 800 grit sand paper. This helps to reduce the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper. To bring a deep shine, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stummel with a moist cloth after each wet pad. The fills are still looking ugly and somehow I have a gut feeling that this pipe is not yet done with me!! This pipe is really testing my skills and patience!! I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” 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. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. This is when I observed that there are air pockets in two fills (marked in yellow circle) and the plateau rim top is still not clean! Aargh…both my faults, I know. I will address them all over again. I would like to remind the readers that all this while the layering of stem is still a work in progress!! I spot fill these air pockets with superglue and let it cure for complete two days. Finally, the button construction appears solid and I progress with filing with a flat head needle file and followed it up with sanding and finer shaping using 220, 320, 600 and 800 grit sand papers. I shaped the round slot by gentle use of a round needle file. I liberally rub some Extra Virgin Olive oil to rehydrate the vulcanite stem. But readers please do not rejoice just yet!! The repairs show a white edge in the repairs near the round slot indicating that the repair is not solid and likely to fall apart and also presence of the dreaded air pockets!! This pipe is just not willing to take repairs. It’s now becoming a fight of WILLS between us. I kept up the self conviction and self confidence, which was constantly assuaged by the encouraging words of my mentor, Mr. Steve. I persisted with the repairs and filled these areas with clear superglue and keep it aside for curing. Not wanting to waste time, I picked up the stummel again and went through the complete process of filing and sanding the fills and ending with the micromesh cycle. The fills are nice, solid and even. I even cleaned up the plateau rim top by scrubbing it with a dry brass wired brush till clean. Here is the picture of the fill at this stage. Now the only thing that remains is to blend these fills with the rest of the stummel. I intend to stain it in dark brown dye.I use the powder variety of stain and mix it with 99% isopropyl alcohol. I heated the stummel surface with a heat gun and applied the stain with a folded pipe cleaner. As I paint the stummel with stain over sections at a time, I burn the dye using a Bic lighter that combusts the alcohol in the aniline dye and sets the dye pigmentation in the wood.  After fully saturating the stummel and covering the whole surface, including the plateau rim top, I set the stummel aside to rest for several hours. Now with the stummel surface absorbing the stain, I turn towards the stem repair again. I followed the complete regime, as previously described, till I reached the stage which required micromesh sanding to bring deep shine to the vulcanite. All looked good till this stage. I sand the entire stem with 220 followed by 400 and 800 grit sand paper. This helps to reduce the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper. To bring a deep shine, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with alcohol after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil. Once I was through with the micromesh cycle, this is what I saw…DO NOT LOOSE HEART, I kept reminding myself and proceed to redo the entire button repair again for… I do not even remember the number of times!!! After going through the entire stages again, these repairs turn out to be good enough. But I forgot to take pictures!!!

Once the stem repair was completed, I turned my attention to the stummel. The stain had set nicely. I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel (because I do not have felt cloth buffing wheels!!) on the Dremel and set the speed at about 40% of full RPM and apply red compound to the stummel. This does help in revealing the grains gradually while masking the darker fills.

To finish, I re-attach the stem with the stummel. I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel (actually it is not the brand machine, but a local machine which is similar).  I set the speed at about half of the full power and applied White Diamond compound to the entire pipe. I wiped/ buffed the pipe 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. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The completed pipe looks lovely, fresh and vibrant; the photographs in this case, do not do justice to the appearance of this beautiful little pipe. Thank you for having the patience to reach this far while reading the write up, which I felt was boring and a drag while typing. So these thanks are well deserved for you. PS: – I agree with all who have observed that the stummel fills are still visible. I have observed it too, but no amount of stain pen usage, re-staining and polishing made any difference. Some fills just do not blend for whatever reason. An interesting definition of a Fill in glossary page on pipedia.org means: “A void, pit or flaw in the briar which is made level with the surface of the pipe with either putty or a mix of briar dust and cyanoacrylate glue and which, despite staining, is often visible on close inspection”.

 

 

Restoring a Tim West Pipe!!


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Tim West with a couple of his pipes

This sure is going to be an embarrassing while being a challenging project. Why? It’s embarrassing because the pipe that I have decided to work on now is made by a living legendary pipe repairman and a pipe maker from USA and here I am one who has just embarked on a journey into the world of pipe restoration with minimum of equipment, materials, spares and experience!!! It’s challenging because he is very well known to my friend and mentor, Mr. Steve Laug and living up to their standards is always a huge challenge. The project that I have selected to work on is a huge freehand pipe from Tim West!!

No, this pipe did not come to me in inheritance, but was purchased on eBay about 9 months back. Boy, am I glad that I made this purchase!! It’s a huge and heavy piece of briar with beautiful straight grain all around, including on the shank, with a plateau rim top and a vulcanite shank extension in to which fits a fancy, straight vulcanite stem. It has a shiny ring insert (or so it appears) between the shank and the shank extension. The shank extension helps in breaking the monotony of the briar while easing the flow of the humongous stummel in to the stem. The pipe has minimalistic stamping with “TIM WEST” in a slight arch over “PIPE” on the left side of the shank.I was keen to know more about Tim West, the carver and repairman, his pipe making techniques and philosophy. I searched pipedia.com and there is a very nice write up on him. I reproduce snippets information available on pipedia.com from his interview in December 1995, for a quick read.

Tim made his first pipe in 1967 and went full-time as a pipe maker in 1975. Only the best quality fully cured natural Greek Briar goes into a Tim West Briar Pipe. Tim’s designer shapes are designed for eye appeal and a great smoke. All processes, step by step, are natural processes insuring a sweet cool smoke for every recipient of a Tim West Briar Pipe.

In 1980, Tim opened Tim West Pipes, a retail shop in the Ohio Center near downtown Columbus. He closed the shop in 1991 and moved the entire business to his home workshop to concentrate on wholesaling. The workshop takes up most of the basement of his house, but it isn’t very big–some tools, racks of briar blocks, cabinets full of stems and boxes of half-finished pipes. To this day, Tim believes that he is much less mechanized than most pipemakers he knows of. He does have a top turner and a frazer, but they’re not hooked up, and the top turner is his television stand.

Tim acknowledges that, as a pipemaker, he is entirely self-taught, having learned through trial and error. He believes that pipemakers who have had the chance to study pipemaking or to work with established pipemakers are lucky because ‘it just mystified me for years wondering how they did it–while I was doing it.” And though he does use some power equipment today to drill, shape, sand and buff, everything is still set up, guided and shaped by hand.

When I asked Tim about his philosophy of papermaking, he laughed for some time. We talked further about the changes in his pipemaking over the years, and he allowed as how, during his first year at Monkey’s Retreat, a good 50 percent of his pipes were sculptured (piano pipes, toilet pipes, guitar pipes, etc.) because he had lots of time and could take a week to carve a pipe for someone. It might be his only sale for a week but would still provide enough cash to keep him in business. As his popularity grew, he needed to make more pipes and thus increasingly produced smooth shapes, either freehand or standard.

The entire interview makes for a very interesting read and is a highly recommended. Here is the link to the interview: https://pipedia.org/wiki/West

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The stummel surface of this pipe boasts of beautiful straight grain all along the stummel surface as well as on the shank. The stummel surface is covered in heavy overflow of lava which in turn has attracted a lot of dust and grime and has a few dents and dings likely due to uncared for storage. The briar is dull and lifeless and has taken on a layer of aged patina, through which one can make out the beautiful grains all round. This beautiful piece of briar will definitely clean up nicely. This pipe must have been a favorite of the previous Steward (I really like this address of a pipe smoker as coined by Mr. Dal Stanton and his reasoning for calling them as ‘Steward’) and has seen considerable use as evidenced by the thick layer of cake in the chamber. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be ascertained only after the cake has been removed completely and taken down to bare briar. However, the bowl feels robust and solid to the touch from the outside. This issue should be a breeze to address. There is a very strong but pleasant smell in the chamber.The plateau rim top has darkened considerably, due to frequent lighting, on the back side of the rim. There is a very heavy overflow of lava on the plateau rim top and covers the surface completely. This can be seen in pictures above and below. The condition of the inner edge and rim top can be commented upon only once the rim has been cleaned. The vulcanite shank end extension is heavily oxidized and is also covered in oils and tars and grime from previous usage. The mortise does show heavy accumulation of dried oils, tars and remnants of ash, greatly restricting the air flow. The vulcanite stem on this pipe is where the maximum damage is seen. The previous Steward must have been very fond of clenching his pipes while smoking. This is apparent from the damage that is seen towards the end of the stem. The stem has significant damage in the form of deep bite marks and cinching on the upper stem surface near the edge of the lip, while the lower surface has a through hole, exposing the stem’s airway. The stem’s surface around the damaged portion has become very brittle and considerably thin. The tenon on stem is covered in dried oils and tars and so is the airway. The button end hole is completely blocked save for a small opening, greatly constricting the airflow. The air flow through the stem is laborious to say the least. The fit of this stem in to the mortise is very tight and the stem does not seat completely in to the mortise (marked in yellow circle). This issue may get addressed after the mortise and tenon have been cleaned. All in all, restoring the stem will be the biggest challenge in this project. THE PROCESS
I embarked on the journey of restoring this pipe by addressing the stem first since it was damaged the most and would take considerable time to repair. First thing to do was to clean up the external surface and the internals of the stem. Since the button hole was clogged up, I used all the tools available to me in clearing up the button hole. It was not surprising at all to see chunks of dried gunk which had accumulated in the airway coming out of the airway. Once satisfied with the internal cleaning, I wiped the external surface of the stem with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol to get rid of all the dirt and grime accumulated over the surface. The number of pipe cleaners used does not tell the real story of how difficult it really was to get the internals of the stem cleaned up.I followed up this cleaning regime by gently removing the thin and cracked chips of vulcanite from around the damaged stem surface till I reached the solid vulcanite. I did so because I planned on anchoring the stem fill on solid surface. To begin the stem repairs, I smeared a pipe cleaner with petroleum jelly and inserted it in to the stem airway. I prepared a mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal and applied it over the gaping hole and cinched surface of the stem and set it aside for curing over night. For the discerning reader who would have noted that I did not resort to the trick of using the Bic lighter, the answer is that I was apprehensive that the heat from the flame of the Bic lighter would put additional stress on the expanding vulcanite resulting in greater damage to the stem. What followed this stage were endless hours and days spent in sanding, layering with a coat of charcoal and superglue mix and again following the same sequence till I achieved a solid fill. I am afraid that I have not taken enough pictures to show the progress as I had three beautiful pipes, all with their button end chewed off for about an inch and inch and a half, being worked on simultaneously. These projects were also proving to be very difficult and tedious.While the stem fillings were curing, I worked on the stummel. I started by reaming the chamber with size 4 head of PipNet reamer. The size of the chamber was so huge that I had to use the Kleen Reem reamer also. This is where I hit the second hurdle in the restoration of this pipe. There was a bump (circled in red) on the chamber walls that had hardened to an extent that the blades of the PipNet or Kleen Reem reamer could not cut through it. I began wondering with wrenching guts, if the bump is not a JB Weld repair. To further probe this bump, using my fabricated knife, I gouged at the corners and realized that it was not a JB Weld repair but just a very, very hard accumulation of cake.  I decided to soak the chamber in alcohol to loosen the cake. I packed a few cotton balls half way in to the chamber and soaked it in isopropyl alcohol for a few hours. A few hours later and the hardened cake came off easily. I used a 220 grit sand paper, pinched between my thumb and forefinger, to sand the inner walls of the chamber. Once I had reached the bare briar, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This removed all the residual carbon dust. However, in spite of the alcohol soak and removing all the cake, the ghosting was still all too pervading!! Hopefully after the completely choked mortise has been cleaned, the smells will also fade away to oblivion. I followed up the reaming by cleaning the mortise and air way of the pipe, using hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners, q-tips and shank brush dipped in alcohol. The mortise and the draught hole was so chock-a- block with all the dried tars, oils and gunk that I had to use my fabricated spatula and the drill bit from the Kleen Reem pipe reamer!!!! Chunks of the gunk that were removed from the mortise are a testimony to how badly this pipe was abused by the previous Steward. I gave a final clean with shank brushes dipped in alcohol and dried the mortise with a rolled paper napkin. The shank internals and the draught hole appear to be clean. But the strong ghosting still persists. I shall address this issue later by giving the chamber an alcohol bath.Before progressing any further, I had to get the stummel all cleaned up. Using a hard bristled tooth brush dipped in undiluted Murphy’s oil soap, I very deliberately scrubbed the stummel, cleaning the surface thoroughly. Special attention was paid to scrub out all the dirt, dust and lava from the crevices in the plateau rim top with a brass wired brush. The stummel and plateau rim top were dried using paper napkins and soft cotton cloth. To eliminate the ghost smells from the pipe, I had decided to treat it with salt and alcohol. I do not use Kosher salt as it is not readily available here and if available, it’s very expensive. I use cotton balls which is an at par substitute as I have realized over the last year or so. I draw out a wick from the cotton and along with a folded regular pipe cleaner; insert it in to the mortise and through the draught hole in the chamber. Thereafter, I pack the chamber with cotton balls to about quarter of an inch below the rim inner edge. I soak the cotton balls with isopropyl alcohol up to the brim. About half an hour later, the level of alcohol has gone down, having being absorbed by the cotton. I top it up once again and set it aside overnight. By next afternoon, the cotton and alcohol has drawn out all the remaining oils and tars from the chamber and mortise and the cotton and alcohol had fulfilled its intended task. I removed the cotton balls and ran pipe cleaners through the mortise to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk. My, was I surprised to see that the pipe cleaners come out all sticky, black and dirty. I persisted with the cleaning till the pipe cleaners came out clean!!!! The next set of pictures tells the story by themselves. Finally, after hours of toiling and large number of pipe cleaners, I can say that the mortise is now well and truly cleaned. Also the ghosting is now consigned to history.Now that the internals of the stummel are clean, I work the external surface. I sand the vulcanite shank extension with 220 and follow it up with 320 and 600 grit sand papers and got rid of all the oxidation. I wanted to further highlight the grain seen on the stummel. To achieve this aim, I sand down the stummel using micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. The stummel now has a deep shine with grains popping out with magnificent contrast. Though this part of restoration is the second most time consuming and laborious, the end results are also the most satisfying. The play of grains, the contrast and the smooth surface are well worth the efforts. I rub a small quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil in to the shank extension and set the stummel aside for the oil to be absorbed by the vulcanite shank extension. I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to briar and let it rest for a few minutes. I took some extra efforts to work the balm in to the plateau rim top of the bowl. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. With the stummel nice and clean and attractive, I worked the stem of the pipe. The fill on the stem had cured nicely and I sand it down with a flat head needle file. I sharpened the lip edges using a needle file and sand the entire stem with 220 followed by 400, 800 and 1000 grit sand paper. This helps to reduce the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem and the tenon, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with alcohol after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil. The pictures of the final results are shown below. What is not stated and pictured here is the fact that the fills on this stem had caved in thrice and that many times I had to rebuild it from the scratch. Every time I tried to match the fill to the surrounding surface, the fill area would get thinned out and break apart. In the end, I left the fill slightly higher than the rest of the surface and was better masked during the micromesh cycle. At this point, I check for the seating of the tenon inside the mortise the find that the stem sits flushed in the mortise. To finish, I re-attach the stem with the stummel. I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my local machine which is similar to a Dremel.  I set the speed at about half of the full power and applied White Diamond compound to each of the three pipes. I wiped/ buffed the pipe 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 stummel 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. The completed pipe, with the dark brown hues of the stummel contrasting with the shiny black shank extension and stem, looks lovely, fresh and vibrant; the photographs speak for themselves. The beauty, size and shapes of this pipe make it one of my favorites and will find a place of pride in my modest collection. If only the pipe could tell some of the stories and techniques used by Mr. Tim West while carving pipes….Cheers!!

 

Restoring a Unique “House of Lords” Sitter


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I am pretty angry and frustrated at myself!!!!! That’s a very strong and confusing sentiment against oneself, I admit. But that’s the truth. Let me explain.

I spent nearly two weeks working on three pipes; a Dunhill Bruyere, a Tim West Freehand and a Stefano Exclusive. These three had their lip end of the stem either chewed off for about an inch and a half or a through and through hole!!! It could be considered as a major stem repair project. I successfully rebuild the stem end, including the button, lip edges and the slot. Though, I was unable to shape the slot as perfectly as I would have liked on the Dunhill, the repair was perfect on the Tim West and the Stefano. I felt elated and supremely confident about my capabilities. The blending of the repairs appeared spot on and I blazed through the remaining restoration, clicking pictures of the progress without giving them a second look. When, at the end, I went through the pictures while doing the write up, to my horror, the repaired stem and stummel stared back at me with all their imperfections on display in form of scratches, brownish spots of oxidation and fillings showing through the stain!! This was embarrassing for me and I shared these images with Mr. Steve. In his characteristic method of pointing out my short comings, I shall quote his reply to me, “Takes lots of work… I am having a little trouble with that lately…. Trying to rush it. Pipe looks good”, unquote!! Readers of rebornpipes and those who know him would be smiling while reading this part. Well, to cut the banter short, I shall rework all these short comings later as I want to start on a fresh pipe!!

The pipe on my work table, from my inherited collection, is one large barrel shaped full bent (this aspect needs to be confirmed and will be cleared as we progress further) sitter with beautiful and very tightly packed birds’ eye grain on either side of the bowl and shank, extending over to more than half of the front of the stummel. Equally tightly packed cross grain are seen on the front left and back of the bowl and also on the upper and bottom surface of the shank. It is stamped on the left side of the shank as “HOUSE OF LORDS” over “MADE IN ENGLAND” in block capital letters. The right side of the shank bears the numeral “275”, probably the shape code, towards the bowl shank junction. The vulcanite saddle stem bears the Crown logo stamped on the left of the round stem. The stem logo and the shape code are slightly worn off. I have included a picture of the stem logo from pipephil.eu to show how it appears on this stem.To know more about the brand, the lines offered by the maker and attempt to date this pipe, I visited pipedia.org, which has wealth of information on almost all pipes. The only information available here was that this brand was by Samuel Gordon in the early 20th century and thereafter became a Sasieni second. My next go to site is pipephil.eu where the stampings and stem logos on a pipe are used for brand information and to date a pipe. Here is the link for information on the pipe currently on my work table:-

www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-h3.html#houseoflords

This site also pointed to the same information gleaned from pipedia.org. Here is what was found on pipephil.eu.

Brand from Samuel Gordon. Maybe a Sasieni second (J.M. Lopes, op. cit.)

I further followed the link to “Gordon” and learned that Samuel Gordon had founded the brand “GORDON” in 1910-20 eras. This is the link for Gordon brand of pipes; www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-g4.html#gordon

From the above information, it is assumed that this piece is from the early 20th century period. Wow!!!! This is really an old pipe. The pipe brands and its vintage, those that are in my grandfather’s collection, never cease to amaze me and there are some really collectible pipes that I have inherited.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION

The chamber shows a nice even build up of a cake which makes it difficult to comment on the condition of the inner walls of the chamber. However, the general appearance of the stummel makes me believe that there will not be any major issues with the chamber walls. The rim top is clean with no overflow of lava and this is a big surprise coming from my inherited collection!! The chamber is out of round with the inner rim edges showing charring at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock direction. It appears that this charred area of the inner edge was tried to get rid off in an amateurish way. The outer rim is also damaged and has a few chips and dents to the front, probably caused due to hitting the bowl against a hard surface to remove the dottle!! All in all, I would say that this was one of the few well cared for pipes from his collection!!The surface of the stummel is covered in dirt and grime accumulated over a period of time. The stummel surface is peppered with numerous dents and dings, more so towards the front of the bowl, probably caused due to careless and uncared for storage for the last 40-45 years and equal number of years of previous usage!!!! It will be a big decision whether to address these dents and dings by abrasive sanding method and loose the patina which has developed on the surface, or let them be. Well, I shall cross the bridge when I reach it. The mortise appears to be either clogged or has some obstruction as air flow through it is hard and laborious. The vulcanite stem is heavily oxidized. Some light tooth chatter is seen on both surfaces of the stem towards the lip. This issue should not be a major headache to address. The lip edge on both sides is crisp but lightly damaged. The quality of vulcanite is good.The thing that struck me odd was the bend on the stem. It was bent way too much than the normal. When I shared the pictures of this pipe with Mr. Steve, he too found the angle of the bend too rakish and very odd, to the extent that he felt it might not even be correct for the pipe. However, the stem logo confirmed otherwise. So, I am confronted with the controversial prospect between “PRESERVATION” and “RESTORATION”!! While I do not have as clear a mandate as Mr. Steve had, managing this conflict, for me, is more challenging. To me, this inheritance is a family heirloom and in this particular instance, I would rather maintain this profile instead of straightening it. Mr. Steve gave me a second perspective that the stem was bent during storage due to intense heat which is prevalent in India and may not be original as my grandfather had smoked!! Well, this could be true. The inner conflict continued while I proceed to clean and spruce up the pipe to its pristine condition (or at least make a sincere attempt at it)

THE PROCESS
I reamed the chamber with my fabricated knife and scraped out all the cake. With a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper, I further sand out the last traces of remaining cake and expose the walls of the chamber. There are some very minor and insignificant webs of line on the chamber walls that can be seen to the front and above the drought hole. I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol to remove the carbon dust left behind by all the reaming and sanding process. I gently scraped the rim top surface with a sharp knife to remove the lava overflow. Using the same knife, I gently scrapped out the charred briar from the inner rim edge till I reached solid wood. The following pictures show the inner rim edge after the removal of the charred wood from the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock direction. Also seen is the earlier amateurish attempt at addressing the issue of out of round bowl. I shall address this issue by creating a bevel to inner edge. This was followed by cleaning the mortise with cue tips, pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. With my fabricated spatula shaped knife, I scrapped out the dried oils and tars from the mortise. My, there were chunks of gunk in there and can be seen in the following pictures!! Finally after some diligent cleaning, the mortise is clean and this further completely eliminated traces of old smells from previous usage.The internals of the stummel is now clean and fresh. Now, it was the turn of the stummel to get cleaned up. Using a hard bristled tooth brush dipped in undiluted Murphy’s oil soap, I very deliberately scrubbed the surface of the stummel. I cleaned the rim too. The stummel and rim top was dried using paper napkins and soft cotton cloth. I am not very happy the way the rim top appears at this stage with all the charring and uneven inner and outer rim edges. This needs to be addressed. I set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. After cleaning the rim top with Murphy’s oil soap, the inner edge damage was even more evident, and begged to be addressed before I proceed any further. I topped the rim on a 220 followed by 320 and 600 grit sand paper, checking frequently till I was satisfied that the charred surface was greatly reduced. The inner edge is still uneven, though much better than before topping. With a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and fore finger, I created a bevel on the inner edge. This addressed the issue of uneven and out of round inner edge. A couple of dents and chips are also seen to the outer rim edge and one (circled in red) in the newly created inner edge bevel. There were a few slightly deeper chips on the stummel surface. I gouged out the old and dried wood from these dents from the front of the stummel, inner rim edge and the heel and spot filled it with a mix of CA superglue and briar dust (believe you me gentlemen, making and thereafter applying this mix to fill the pits is not as easy as it appears!!!!!! The moment superglue comes into contact with the briar dust; it hardens even before you can blink. Maybe there is an issue with the glue that is available to me here, coupled with the prevailing climatic conditions or maybe one Mr. Dal Stanton could help!!). I always over fill the holes so that when I sand them down they are smooth and I can feather in the fills with the rest of the briar. I set the stummel aside to cure overnight. I had applied this mix of superglue and briar dust to the inner rim edge as it would not be coming in direct contact with heat from the burning tobacco leading to health issues. While the stummel was drying, I worked the stem. I covered the stampings on the stem with whitener using a whitener pen. I flamed the stem surface of the stem with a Bic lighter to raise the tooth indentations and scratches on the stem. The heat from the flame of Bic lighter causes the vulcanite to expand and regain its natural shape, reducing the marks. Using a needle file, I sharpened the lip edges. For a better blending, I further sanded the entire stem with 220 followed by 600, 400 and 800 grit sand paper. This helps to reduce the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with alcohol after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil. The internals of the stem was cleaned out using alcohol and pipe cleaners. The finished stem is shown below. By the time I had worked on the stem, the fills on the stummel surface had completely cured. I sanded the fills using a flat head needle file and checked to see if I had missed any spots. I wanted the entire surface smooth to the touch. I sanded the spots down and blended them into the bowl surface using a folded 220 grit sand paper. I followed this step by sanding the entire stummel with a 220 grit sand paper followed by 600 and 800 grit sand papers. Once that was done I wiped the bowl down with a cotton cloth dampened with Isopropyl alcohol to remove any remaining dust. I wet sand the stummel with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and follow it up by dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. Once I was through with the micromesh pad sanding, the fills showed in complete contrast with the rest of the stummel, as can be seen in the pictures below. I hope they will blend in better once I apply the balm and buff the stummel. I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to briar and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. The stummel, at this point in restoration, looks beautiful save for the fills which can still be seen in all their awfulness. To address this, I have the option to stain the stummel with a dark brown stain or I let it be as a being part of its journey thus far!! Thus, another conflict has been added to the existing one regarding the stem. I shall think about it once I reach that point in restoration. Before I proceed to final stage of polishing and applying carnauba wax coats, I want to address the superficial and insignificantly thin lines in the chamber as a precautionary measure. I mix activated charcoal and yogurt to the consistency of a thick porridge, not runny while being pliable. Inserting a folded pipe cleaner into the mortise till it peeps out of the draught hole, I apply an even coat of this mixture to the inner walls of the chamber with a modified bamboo frond and set it aside to dry out overnight. The next evening, the coat has completely dried out and is hard. Using a piece of folded 220 grit sand paper, I lightly run it over the coating to a smooth finish. I had a long look at the dark fills against the rest of the stummel and did not like it. I made a decision to stain the stummel in dark walnut stain. I use the powder variety of stain and mix it with 99% isopropyl alcohol. I heated the stummel surface with a heat gun and applied the stain with a folded pipe cleaner. As I paint the stummel with stain over sections at a time, I burn the dye using a Bic lighter that combusts the alcohol in the aniline dye and sets the dye pigmentation in the wood.  After fully saturating the stummel and covering the whole surface, I set the stummel aside to rest for several hours. Once the stain had set, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel and set the speed at about 40% full strength and apply red compound to the stummel. This does help in revealing the grains gradually while masking the darker fills. To finish, I re-attach the stem with the stummel. I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel to a locally manufactured machine which is similar Dremel.  I set the speed at about half of the full power and applied White Diamond compound to the entire pipe. I wiped/ buffed the pipe 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. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further.

The completed pipe looks lovely, fresh and vibrant; the photographs in this case, do not do justice to the appearance of this beautiful large barrel-shaped pipe. Thank you for having the patience to reach this far while reading the write up. And as usual, I request all those readers to please leave a comment as it will help me to improve further and hone my skills. PS: After the pipe restoration was completed, nearly 15 days later my guide and mentor, Mr. Steve casually asked me if I had decided to straighten the stem. This set me thinking that here is a gentleman who is still thinking about the bent stem and that he is still doing so as he is convinced that a straight stem would look nicer on the pipe and would be original to the pipe. This convinced me to re-straighten the stem to its original. I place a fluffy pipe cleaner through the airway to prevent it from collapsing due to heating and with a heat gun; I heat the stem till it is pliable and straighten out the stem just by eyeballing the shape till satisfied. Here are a few pictures after the stem was straightened. Yes, there are a few minor issues which is a direct result of the process like the alignment of the shank end with the tenon end and slight dullness in the shiny stem etc, but they will be addressed subsequently. The overall appearance of the pipe is much better and the shank flow into the stem is more fluid and even. Thanks Mr. Steve!!

 

Restoring a “Naturel” Bent Sitter


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

The next pipe on my work table is a beautifully grained sitter with a nice feel in hand and light weight to boot, with a fantastic balance when clenched (though I do not like to clench). This pipe has been with me for a very long time, awaiting its turn for restoration, in fact for so long that now I do not even remember how it ended up with me!! It’s definitely not from my inherited collection.

If anyone loves a briar pipe with tightly packed, distinct and beautiful bird’s eye grain at all, then this sitter will definitely attract such a smoker. It has lovely bird’s eye grains on either side of the bowl, extending towards the front from either sides but not quite joining. On the front part of the bowl and towards the rear, densely packed cross grain adds to the visual appeal of the stummel. The cross grain on the back of the bowl continues on to the top half and left bottom portion of the shank while the cross grain in the front extends to the bottom of the heel. I believe the following pictures will do far greater justice to the stummel visually than my limited descriptive powers!! This is one beautifully carved pipe where it appears that the grains dictated the end shape of the pipe and that the carver has done great justice to this beautiful art of nature!!!! It is stamped on the left of the shank as “NATUREL” while the right is stamped as “MADE IN LONDON” over “ENGLAND”. At the bottom surface of the shank, near the shank end, is stamped the numeral “300”, which could be the shape code. All my sincere and untiring efforts to search for information on this pipe have come to a naught. Any help to unravel the mysteries surrounding this pipe and pipe maker is welcome and would be highly appreciated.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The chamber shows a nice even build up of a thick cake which makes it difficult to comment on the condition of the inner walls of the chamber. There is a light overflow of lava over the rim top. The inner rim edge of the rim has a number of minor dents which could easily be addressed by creating a slight bevel. The outer rim too has numerous dents and dings all around its circumference. The rim top also had an uneven surface, probably caused by negligent handling of the pipe by the previous owner.The surface of the stummel is covered in dust and grime giving it a dull and lackluster appearance. The stummel surface is peppered with numerous dents, dings and a couple of marks akin to a road rash, probably caused by rubbing against a hard surface during storage. There is one fill in the stummel on the left side. There are a number of small mysterious spots on the left and front side on the stummel. These spots are definitely not fills and neither are they water marks!!!! I shall try to learn more about these mysterious spots as I progress during the restoration. The mortise is surprisingly clean and air flow through it is open and full. The vulcanite saddle bent stem has an aluminum ridged stinger. Heavy tooth chatter is seen on both surfaces of the stem towards the lip with comparatively lighter bite marks on the upper surface. This issue should not be a major headache to address. The lip edge on both sides is crisp but lightly damage. The saddle portion of the stem has gouges on the left side and how did it get there? It’s a mystery!!!!! The finned torpedo shell shaped stinger is dirty and would need a thorough cleaning. The quality of vulcanite is good and should turn out beautifully.THE PROCESS
I reamed the chamber with size 1 PipNet reamer head. To reach the areas where the PipNet reamer could not reach to remove the carbon cake, I used my smaller fabricated knife and scraped out all the remaining cake. I further used a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper to sand out the last traces of remaining cake and expose the walls of the chamber to ascertain that there are no cracks/ heat fissures, and there were none. I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol to remove the carbon dust left behind by all the reaming and sanding process. The walls of the chamber were solid with no damage. I gently scraped the rim top surface with a sharp knife to remove the lava overflow. This was followed by cleaning the mortise with cue tips and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I scraped out the now moistened gunk in the mortise with my fabricated spatula and followed it up with a second round of cleaning with pipe cleaners. This further eliminated traces of old smells from previous usage. However, the dents and dings to the rim top surface and edges are now clearly exposed. The internals of the stummel are now clean and fresh. Now, it was the turn of the external surface of the stummel to get cleaned up. Using a hard bristled tooth brush dipped in undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap, I very deliberately scrubbed the surface of the stummel. I cleaned the rim too. The stummel and rim top was dried using paper napkins and soft cotton cloth. I am not very happy the way the rim top appears at this stage with all the dents, dings and uneven inner and outer rim edges. This will need to be addressed. But now that the stummel surface is nice and clean, the beautiful bird’s eye and cross grains on the stummel present themselves in all their glory. Can’t wait to see the grains in their resplendent beauty once I am done with final polishing and buffing!! After cleaning the rim top with Murphy’s oil soap, I had observed that the rim top surface, outer and the inner rim edge was uneven, presenting a very sorry appearance. I topped the rim on a 220 grit sand paper, checking frequently till I was satisfied that the uneven surface is completely addressed. The inner and outer rim edge is still uneven, though much better than before topping. Using a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and fore finger, I shaped a light bevel on the inner edge and a slightly prominent bevel on the outer rim edge. I was careful while shaping the outer bevel as I did not want to greatly alter the overall shape of the pipe. The rim surface and both edges now look pristine. Subjecting the rim top and edges to a regime of micromesh pad polish will further enhance the finish and help in blending the bevel with overall shape of the stummel. Next, I decided to address the dents, dings, road rash marks, mystery spots and one fill on the stummel surface. As I have remarked earlier, the mystery spots were indeed baffling. I tried to erase them by spot cleaning these blemishes using acetone followed by alcohol and finally by sanding the stummel with sand paper, but to no avail. These buggers appear to keep winking at me mischievously!!!!! I turned to my mentor, Mr. Steve and shared pictures of these spots and tricks employed (though unsuccessfully at that) to address them. These spots baffled him too. He thought over it, researched and suggested that these could be “Root nodules”. This seemed a plausible explanation. My research on root nodules says that these are found on the roots of plants, primarily legumes that form a symbiosis with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, rhizobia. It is known that this process has evolved multiple times within the legumes, as well as in other species found within the Rosid clade (flowering plant species) and Erica arboria (briar wood) is a flowering plant which falls within the Rosid clade. Thus, these spots are most likely root nodules which have developed in this piece of briar and there is nothing that can be done to eliminate these spots. You cannot fight nature’s mysteries!!

With the mystery of the spots resolved, I proceed to refreshing the fill and addressing the road rash. I reduced the road rash by sanding and removed the old fill. I trowel a mix of briar dust and superglue in to this gouge and over the road rash marks and set it aside to cure. I overfill the gouges as it helps in subsequent blending of these fills with the rest of the stummel during the sanding process.While the fills were curing, I worked the stem. Using a Bic lighter, I flamed both the surfaces of the stem. The heat from the flame helps the vulcanite to rise to the surface and in the process addresses to a great extent all the issues of tooth chatter. I followed it by reshaping the lip edges with a flat needle file. I further sand the entire stem with 220 followed by 400, 600 and 800 grit sand paper. This helps to reduce the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with alcohol after each wet pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil. The internals of the stem was cleaned out using alcohol and pipe cleaners. The fills had hardened by the next day and with a flat head needle file I proceeded to sand the fills to a rough match with the rest of the stummel. Further blending of the fills was achieved by sanding the entire stummel with 220, 320, 600 and 800 grit sand papers. I am pretty satisfied with the appearance of the fill and stummel at this stage.At this stage my aim was to bring a deep shine to the briar and highlight the lovely grain which is what had attracted me to this pipe in the first place. I wet sand the stummel with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and follow it up by dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I had wiped the stummel with a moist cloth after every wet sanding pad as it gives me an idea of progress being made. Save for the dark spot of the fill, the stummel now looks amazing with all the bird’s eye grain and cross grain peeking out of every inch of the stummel!! And this brings me to a difficult decision; should I stain it or let it be? I decide not to stain the stummel as it would take away the natural look of the briar while suppressing the appearance of the grain. Here is how the stummel looks at this point in restoration. I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to briar and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance. The balm works to rehydrate and revitalize the briar. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush to bring a deeper shine to the stummel. To finish, I re-attach the stem with the stummel. I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel (actually it is not the brand machine, but a local machine which is similar).  I set the speed at about half of the full power and applied White Diamond compound to the entire pipe. I wiped/ buffed the pipe 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. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The completed pipe looks lovely, fresh and vibrant; the photographs in this case, do not do justice to the appearance of this beautiful pipe. Thank you for having the patience to reach this far while reading the write up.

Sprucing up the first of my WDC; a Demuth Gold Dot #77 Bulldog


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

There a quite a few WDCs that I have inherited from my old man and the one on my table now is a “Demuth, Gold Dot”. I love the classic Bulldog and Rhodesian shape in pipes and am naturally attracted to pipes with this shape. Thus, no surprise here that I chose to work on this WDC Demuth Gold Dot in a classic Bulldog shape!!

This is the first WDC from my grandfather’s collection, a smooth Gold Dot in an impressive Bulldog shape. The beautiful straight grain follow a circular pattern on the right and front of the bowl while linear pattern adorns the left side of the bowl and along the diamond shank, neatly divided by the spine on either side. The shank is stamped on the left with the trademark inverted equilateral triangle with letters “WDC” enclosed in it. This is followed by “Demuth” over “GOLD DOT” in block capital letters. On the right, the shank is stamped “IMPORTED” over “BRIAR ROOT” followed by the shape number “77” towards the bowl and shank joint. A half inch thick gold band adorns the shank end and is stamped on the left with the trademark WDC triangle over “14 K”, indicating the purity of the gold band. The ¾ bent saddle stem has two gold filled dots in the center of the saddle portion of the stem on the left side. I searched pipedia.com for more information on this pipe and attempt at estimating the vintage of this pipe. Here is what I have found on pipedia:-

William Demuth. (Wilhelm C. Demuth, 1835-1911), a native of Germany, entered the United States at the age of 16 as a penniless immigrant. After a series of odd jobs he found work as a clerk in the import business of a tobacco tradesman in New York City. In 1862 William established his own company. The William Demuth Company specialized in pipes, smoker’s requisites, cigar-store figures, canes and other carved objects.

The Demuth Company is probably well known for the famous trademark, WDC in an inverted equilateral triangle. William commissioned the figurative meerschaum Presidential series, 29 precision-carved likenesses of John Adams, the second president of the United States (1797-1801) to Herbert Hoover, the 30th president (1929-1933), and “Columbus Landing in America,” a 32-inch-long centennial meerschaum masterpiece that took two years to complete and was exhibited at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.

The Presidential series was the result of Demuth’s friendship with President James A. Garfield, a connoisseur of meerschaum pipes. Demuth presented two pipes to Garfield at his inauguration in 1881, one in his likeness, the other in the likeness of the President’s wife. Later, Demuth arranged for another figurative matching the others to be added to the collection as each new president acceded to the White House, terminating with President Hoover.

In early 1937, the City of New York notified S.M. Frank & Co. of their intent to take by eminent domain, part of the land on which the companies pipe factory was located. This was being done to widen two of the adjacent streets. As a result of this, Frank entered into negotiations to purchase the Wm. Demuth Co.’s pipe factory in the Richmond Hill section of Queens. It was agreed upon that Demuth would become a subsidiary of S.M. Frank and all pipe production of the two companies would be moved to DeMuth factory. New Corporate offices were located at 133 Fifth Avenue, NYC.

Demuth pipes continued to be made at the Richmond Hill plant till December 31. 1972. Then the Wm. Demuth Company met its official end as a subsidiary company by liquidation.

I came across an interesting advertisement on the same page on pipedia.com which shows the exact same pipe that I am now working on. It is the same pipe as the first pipe on the left. A close scrutiny of the picture confirms the following:

(a) The Gold Dot line of WDC pipes was offered sometime before 1941 as inferred from the bottom line of this flyer which encourages readers to “WRITE FOR NEW 1941 STYLE BOOKLET”, implying that this flyer was published prior to 1941!!!!!

(b) The Gold Dot line of WDC pipes was at the time their top of the line product as it is the most expensive of all the pipes advertised in the flyer, retailing at $10!!!Pipephil.eu too has the same pipe shown with shape # 77. Here is the link; http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-w1.html

From the above gleaned information, it is safe to conclude that the pipe now on my worktable is of 1940s vintage and at that point in time was WDC’s top-of-the-line offering!!!!

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
Age definitely shows on the stummel surface!!! The briar is dull and lifeless and has taken on a layer of aged patina, through which one can make out the beautiful straight grain patterns all around. There is a heavy overflow of lava all over the entire stummel surface. The bowl cap, bowl, shank and even the stem is covered in oils, tars and grime accumulated over the years of storage and is sticky to the touch. To be honest, the stummel is filthy to say the least. A thorough cleaning of the stummel followed by polish should accentuate the beautiful straight grain pattern seen on the stummel through all the dirt. The double ring that separates the cap from the rest of the bowl is even and undamaged; however, it is filled with dust, dirt and grime. The chamber exudes a strong, but not definitely unpleasant, smell. I hope that this will be addressed once the chamber has been reamed and internals of the shank and mortise is cleaned with isopropyl alcohol. There is heavy buildup of cake with a thick layer in the chamber. The buildup is such that I am barely able to squeeze my little finger in to the bowl. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be ascertained only after the cake has been removed completely and taken down to bare briar. The bowl however, feels robust and solid to the touch from the outside. The rim top has a thick layer of overflowing lava. The condition of the beveled inner and outer edge and rim top can be commented upon once the overflow of lava is removed and the chamber is reamed. The shank end of the pipe is clean. However, the mortise does show signs of accumulated dried oils, tars and remnants of ash, greatly restricting the air flow, or dare I say, completely restricting air flow. These issues should be a breeze to address, unless some hidden gremlins present themselves!! The vulcanite stem has deep tooth indentations and minor tooth chatter on the upper and lower surface. It is heavily oxidized and has traces of overflowing lava, dust, oils and tars on the saddle portion of the stem. The opening of the tenon is filled with dried oils and tars. The air flow through the stem is greatly restricted to say the least. The fit of the stem in to the mortise is very tight, which will loosen further after the mortise and tenon have been cleaned. The metal tenon has a slot like groove extending more than half way towards the stem end on either side; probably to securely seat the “changeable filter” as advertised in the flyer above (actually I was wondering the purpose of the metal tenon, which as it is, was new to me, with slots on either side. This doubt was cleared by the flyer!!). The overall condition of the pipe, with the thick build-up of cake in the chamber, clogged mortises and stem airway, overflowing of lava covering the entire stummel, makes me believe that this would have been one of my grandfather’s favorite pipes.

THE PROCESS
I started this project by reaming the chamber with size 2 and followed it up with size 3 head of PipNet reamer. 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 briar, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This removed all the residual carbon dust from the chamber. The walls of the chamber are nice and solid with no signs of heat fissures or cracks. I scrapped out the overflowing lava from the rim top with my fabricated knife. The inner and outer rim edges are pristine and that was a big relief.This was followed by cleaning the mortise and air way of the pipe using hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners, q-tips dipped in alcohol. The mortise and the draught hole were given a final clean with shank brushes dipped in alcohol. I dried the mortise with a rolled paper napkin. The shank internals and the draught hole are now nice and clean with an open and full draw. The gunk in the mortise had hardened to such an extent that I had to resort to using all the tools of the trade to get rid of the accumulated gunk, not to mention the time spent on cleaning it. The crud that was extracted from the mortise can be seen in the picture below. I had expected that the ghosting would be history by this stage. However, that was not to be the case. I had to resort to alcohol treatment to get rid of all the ghosting. I packed a few cotton balls in to the chamber. Drawing out a wick from one cotton ball, I inserted it in to the mortise of the pipe. Using a syringe, I topped the chamber with isopropyl alcohol and set it aside. Half hour later, I topped the chamber again with isopropyl alcohol as the level of alcohol had gone down from spreading inside the stummel. This process is usually done using Kosher salt as it leaves no aftertaste or smells. But here, in my part of the world, Kosher salts costs a huge bomb and from my personal experience, I have realized that cotton works equally well in drawing out all the oils and tars from the internals of the stummel exactly as Kosher salt does, but at a very economical cost. I set the stummel aside overnight to allow the alcohol to do its intended task. Next morning, I discard the wick and cotton balls from the stummel and wipe the bowl clean. Though the cotton balls and the cotton wick did not turn a dirty color as usual, the old smells were completely eliminated. While the stummel was soaking in the alcohol bath, I cleaned out the internals of the stem using hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol. Well, that sounds easier than actually done. From the amount of overflowing lava deposits on the stem, I had anticipated a difficult time in cleaning the stem internals. But what really confronted me was a nightmare of a time cleaning it. For starters, the pipe cleaners would not move an inch in to the airway from either ends!!! I soak the internals of the stem, after packing the slot with a pipe cleaner, by filling it with isopropyl alcohol using a syringe. This helped in loosening the hardened oils and tars in the air way. Thereafter began the tedious process of cleaning the stem internals with a straightened paper clip and scrubbing the aluminum tenon with the fabricated dental spatula. The blobs of accumulated gunk removed from the air way could not be photographed as my table and tray was cleaned out by my helper before I could take a few pictures!!!! After a great deal of struggle, time and lots of pipe cleaners, the air way is finally clean with an open draw.The deep bite marks on the stem were flamed using a Bic lighter. However, this did not work. From my experience, I have learnt that getting rid of the oxidation from and around the surface to be filled helps in subsequent better blending of the fill with the stem surface. With a folded piece of used 220 grit sand paper, I sand the area that is required to be filled. I cleaned the sanded portion of the stem with cotton pad dipped in alcohol and spot filled the damaged area with a mixture of activated charcoal and clear superglue. I set the stem aside for the fill to cure. Now, it was the turn of the stummel to get cleaned up. Using a hard bristled tooth brush dipped in undiluted Murphy’s oil soap, I very deliberately scrubbed the stummel, cleaning the surface thoroughly. I was very deliberate on the surface areas which were covered in overflowed lava over which dirt and grime had accumulated over the years. I rinsed the stummel under tap water, taking care that water does not enter the mortise or the chamber. I dried the stummel using cotton cloth and paper napkins. On close inspection, I observed a couple of dents and ding on the front portion of the crown. These would need to be addressed. Other than this, the stummel is now clean and devoid of any grime and dirt. It is really surprising that the rim top, inner bevel and edges and the stummel is in such pristine condition after so many years of storage and without a single fill. Speaks volumes about the quality of this line of pipes from WDC!! I addressed the dents and dings to the front portion of the crown by the steaming process. I heated my fabricated knife over a candle. I placed a soaked Turkish hand towel over the dents and placed the hot knife over the wet towel. The steam that was generated pulled the dents to the surface. The stummel is now without any blemishes.To further clean and highlight the grains, I sand the stummel with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stummel after each wet pad with a moist cloth to remove the resulting dust. I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to briar and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. The pipe now looks lovely with beautiful grains showing off their beauty in all glory!! With the stummel nice and clean and attractive, I worked the stem of the “GOLD DOT” by sanding the fills with a flat heat needle to achieve a rough match with the surrounding stem surface. I sharpened the lip edges using a needle file and sand the entire stem with 220 followed by 400, 800 and 1000 grit sand paper to perfectly blend the filled surface with the rest of the stem surface. This helps to reduce the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper. By mere sanding itself, the minor tooth marks seen on stem surfaces were completely addressed. This process also eliminated the deep oxidation seen on the vulcanite stem. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Extra Virgin Olive oil after every three pads. I completed the restoration of the stummel by cleaning the grooves between the twin rings separating the crown from the rest of the stummel, of all the dust, grime and polishing compounds accumulated during the restoration process. Lucky me, there is no damage to the rings, which would have been a challenge to restore.To finish, I re-attach the stem with the stummel. I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my local machine which is similar to a Dremel.  I set the speed at about half of the full power and polished the entire pipe with White Diamond compound. I wiped/ buffed the pipe 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 stummel and the stem. I finished the restoration by giving the pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The completed pipe, with the dark brown hues of the grains on the stummel contrasting with the shiny black stem, looks lovely, fresh and vibrant; the photographs speak for themselves. If only the pipe could tell some of my grand Old man’s stories and recount incidents witnessed while being smoked.…Cheers!! I am grateful to all the readers for their valuable time spent in reading this write up and joining me on this part of the journey in to the world of pipe restoration while I attempt to preserve a heritage and past memories of a part of me.