Tag Archives: articles by Dal Stanton

A Desirable REJECT London Made

Blog by Dal Stanton

When I came across this classic half bent billiard while I was trolling through 100s of offerings on eBay’s auction block, I paused. The first thing that claimed my attention was its size. If there was ever a ‘meat lovers sized’ pipe, to use the American burger sound bite, this would be it. The UK seller simply described it as a ‘superb large bowl’. When the pipe arrived, I measured it and it is: length 6 5/16 inches, height 2 3/8 inches, chamber diameter 7/8 inches, chamber depth 1 13/16 inches, and the full stummel width is 1 3/4 inches – 68 grams for those who weigh pipes. A fist-full of stummel! Here is the eBay picture of the Billiard.The other interesting thing about the eBay offering was its marking.  The left shank side reads “REJECT” over “LONDONMADE”.  The only lead I found for this “REJECT” stamping was in ‘Who Made That Pipe?’ by Herb Wilzak and Tom Colwell, which provided only one reference to “Reject” as belonging to the W. H. Carrington Co. started in 1891 by William Henry Carrington in Manchester, England.  This came from the brief Pipedia article which also states that after a century of operation it went out of business.  I found more information in a Pipes Magazine Forum thread  but the source of the information was not cited.

WH Carrington as an entity dates back at least to the late 1880s. It continued to exist for about a century, with liquidation notices appearing in the London Gazette in 1987. Whether or not the business remained in the family that whole time is another matter; I doubt it, but have no evidence one way or the other.

Most threads I read commenting on WHC pipes were about earlier turn of the century pipes with hallmarks – a much earlier vintage.  I came up empty finding information that would confirm that the Reject before me is indeed a WHC pipe except for Wilczak and Colwell’s reference.  With a very nice looking Reject on my work table now, I take additional pictures to fill in the gaps. The question that begs asking is what is ‘Reject’ about this pipe?  Overall, it’s in good shape.  The chamber has very mild cake build up, and the stummel surface shows some small fills and usual dents of wear.  The stem has been cleaned, it seems, very little chatter or oxidation.  I only detect two issues as I look at the Reject London Made.  First, the finish on the stummel is shiny and acrylic-like, which, to me, hides the natural briar.  It is cloudy and I’ll remove it and work on the broad landscape of this stummel real estate to bring out the briar.  I like this challenge!  The other issue is the stem – it is under-clocked and a bit catawampus.  I will heat the vulcanite and restore a good bend in alignment with the pipe.  The reason this pipe was stamped ‘Reject’ coming out of the factory is a mystery to me unless it was destined to be a higher end pipe and the briar had too many imperfections…. Only conjecture and I would appreciate anyone’s input on this.

I begin by plopping the stem in an Oxy-Clean bath even though the oxidation seems very light.  While the stem is in the bath, I use the Savinelli pipe knife to clean up the chamber walls which takes little time.  I follow by sanding the chamber wall with 240 grit paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  To clean the carbon dust residue, I wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  The pictures show the progress. I like working on a clean pipe so I work on the internals using cotton swabs and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%.  With very little effort the mortise and draft are clean.Moving to the external stummel surface, I use Murphy’s Soap undiluted with cotton pads and a bristled tooth brush to clean the grime off.  The Murphy’s Soap does a good job removing the old shiny finish.Looking closely at the surface, the dent I saw earlier I want to remove using the iron approach, that I have yet to try, but this dent looks like a good candidate.  I’ve read several other restorations where this method was used.  Using a heated clothes iron, I use a wet wash cloth and lay it over the dent area and then I apply the iron to that point.  The concept is based upon the water content of wood being heated and absorbing the water and expanding the dented area – wood is a sponge-like material when wet.  I apply the iron several times and gradually I see the severity of the dent lessening with each heat application.  I can still see the dent but it should be more easily removed using a sanding sponge. Using a medium and light grade sanding sponge I work on the stummel to remove the minor wear nicks and dents on the surface. I like a softer edge on the inner rim lip so I introduce a gentle bevel both to give it a softer look and to remove some scorched areas. I think an inner bevel adds a bit of class as well.  I first use a coarser 120 grit paper to cut the bevel then I follow with 240 grit and 600 grit paper to smooth and blend the bevel.  The pictures show the progress. I now turn to the micromesh pad cycles.  Using pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stummel followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and then 6000 to 12000.  Throughout the sanding, I’m careful to avoid the Reject markings. The grain is looking good.  The pictures show the progress. I put the stummel aside and fish the stem out of the Oxy-Clean bath.  Very little oxidation has surfaced.  I use 600 grit paper and wet sand the stem followed by sand buffing the stem with 0000 steel wool.  The pictures show the progress.Before I proceed further with the internal cleaning of the stem and the external polishing, I want to correct the bend of the stem.  With great difficulty, I am able finally to pass a smooth pipe cleaner through the stem.  The pipe cleaner helps to maintain the airway integrity while I heat and re-bend the stem. Using the heat gun to heat the stem, I turn the stem to apply the heat evenly over the stem to soften the vulcanite making it pliable.  I then straighten both the stem clock-wise to correct the under-clocking.  While still pliable I re-establish the bend over a block of wood and set the new shape under cool tap water.  The first time around, the button was still not ‘clocked’ to my satisfaction.  I reheated and made the additional adjustment and again, set the shape under cool tap water.  I reattach stem and stummel to eyeball things and the newly aligned stem bend and clocked button look good.  I take pictures to chronicle the progress with the stem. I now clean the internals of the stem using pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%.  The stem is clean but I find that even though I’ve re-bent the stem the pipe cleaners will not move through the bend of the stem.  I decide to open the slot area with a round pointed needle file moving it back and forth in the slot.  After this, I take a drill bit, smaller than the slot opening, and insert it into the airway rotating it against the edges of the airway hoping to expand the internal airway area as it enters the slot.  This seems to help yet the bend is still tight on the pipe cleaners, but they are passing through.  The stem is clean.  The pictures show the progress. Time to bring out the micromesh pads to finish the stem.  With pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stem.  I follow by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and then 6000 to 12000.  With each set of 3 I apply Obsidian Oil to the stem to revitalize the vulcanite, and I love to see the pop of the vulcanite as it moves through the micromesh cycles!  I put the stem aside to dry.  The pictures show the progress. Turning back to the stummel, I decide to apply Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye to the Reject London Made to emulate the darker hues of the original finish.  Since it is an aniline dye, I can lighten the finish to taste by wiping the stained stummel with cotton pads wetted with isopropyl.  The large stummel has a lot of briar real estate to show off with a smattering of different grains – pleasing to the eye and a handful of stummel to boot!  I just acquired Fiebing’s Black Leather Dye and I decide to experiment.  I will add a touch of it to the dark brown to create the blend.  The first snag I run into is that this is the largest stummel I’ve worked on and my usual corks that I use to prop the stummel on the candle stick during the staining process were too small.  I rummaged through our cork supply and found only one large enough.  I warm the stummel to expand the briar enabling the dye to absorb better into the grain.  I apply the dye liberally over the surface with a pipe cleaner folded over.  Then I fire the wet dye and the alcohol content burns off setting the stain.  I repeat the process again to assure total coverage and set the stummel aside to rest.   After several hours, I ‘unwrap’ the fired stummel using the Dremel mounted with a felt buffing wheel.  With the Dremel at its slowest speed, I move methodically over the stummel applying Tripoli compound to remove the crusted fired surface.  I don’t apply too much downward pressure on the briar but I allow the RPMs and the compound to do the work for me.  After completed, I use cotton pads wetted with alcohol to wipe down the stummel to lighten the stained finish and to blend the dye.  After this, I mount a cotton cloth wheel on the Dremel and apply Blue Diamond compound and methodically work the wheel over the entire surface.  After completed, I again wipe the stummel with cotton pads wetted with isopropyl 95%.  I follow this by doing another quick tour over the stummel with the Blue Diamond.  The use of black dye with the dark brown has the effect of darkening the grain which I’m liking as I see the grain surfacing through the compound cycles.   The pictures show the progress.To remove the compound dust, I hand buff the stummel with a flannel cloth.  After mounting the Dremel with a cotton cloth wheel and increasing the speed to 2, one notch over the slowest, I apply several coats of carnauba wax to the stummel and reattached stem.  I follow this with a rigorous hand buffing with a micromesh cloth.  When I experimented by adding black dye to the dark brown I didn’t anticipate the unique hue that would result.  The briar grain veins seem to have latched on to the black and the lighter grains came out with a golden/copper kettle blend that is striking – very interesting and attractive.  If this REJECT – LONDON MADE is a product of the W. H. Carrington Co., I cannot say why it received this factory stamp.  For those who like huge pipes that fill the hand, this big boy, bent billiard fits the bill and needs a new steward!  All the profits of pipes I sell help the Daughters of Bulgaria, an organization we work with that helps women and children who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  If you’re interested in this REJECT, hop over to my blog site, The Pipe Steward.  Thanks for joining me!



Comoy’s Royal Falcon Bent Bulldog

Blog by Dal Stanton

The eBay seller from UK gave a decent, though brief, accounting of the origins of Comoy from Saint-Claude, France, and started in the 1820s by Francois Comoy.  His son, Henri, started the London extension of the Comoy name in 1879 with not much more than the tools of his trade – making pipes.  He is cited by Pipedia as being the author of the appellation, “London Made”.  In 1929 the company merged with the macro-concern, Oppenheimer Pipes.  With this, albeit brief history, Pipedia’s describes the present summation:

Comoy’s remained a family owned company until it was finally taken over by Cadogan Investments during the early 1980’s. Cadogan have continued to manufacture Comoy pipes to the present day and, under Michael Adler, the Comoy brand is their flagship and efforts are being made to once more re-instate the well known quality of the brand.

The half-bent Bulldog I rescued from my “Help Me!” basket is marked on the left shank, “Royal” over “Falcon” (curved).  The right shank is marked, “Made In London” (circled) over “England”.  The eBay seller’s listing indicated there was a shape number “13” which I cannot see.  The stem is stamped with the image of a falcon perched on a branch.  Here are the pictures of the Royal Falcon on my worktable: A quick trip to the Pipe Phil site confirms that Royal Falcon appears to be a prominent second of Comoy’s showing an example of the interesting stem stamping of a falcon perched on a branch – much busier than most stamps.

What drew me to bid on this Bulldog was the stem.  Within the Bulldog classification, is seems that most Bulldogs sport straight saddle stems, where the diamond shaped shank culminates in the saddle and the stem is then flat from the saddle to the button.  Rarer still, it seems are the bent Bulldogs which most often are fitted with a saddle stem as above.  Most rare, it seems is what I see now with this Comoy’s Royal Falcon – a half-bent stem that carries the characteristic diamond shaped shank into the stem and then gradually tapers out along the stem – giving the impression that the stem is much longer than perhaps it is with the bow of the diamond shaped shank/stem.  The tapered diamond stem is very nice and will look nice restored with the Falcon perched on his branch!  The chamber as a lite cake residue which I will remove down to the briar for a fresh start.  The rim has hardened crusted lava needing attention.  The front upper dome of the stummel has a nice dent along with several dents and cuts marking both sides of curved part of the stummel transitioning into the diamond shaped shank – an obvious result of the natural placement of the Bulldog on the table or counter.  There are several fills that have lightened and are showing through the old clouded finish.  The stem is heavily oxidized with moderate teeth chatter on the upper and lower bit.  The first thing I do to restore and recommission the Royal Falcon Bulldog is to place the stem in an Oxi-Clean bath after putting petroleum jelly over the falcon stamp.With the paper towel, down to catch the carbon dust and fragments, I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit to ream the chamber.  I use only the smallest blade in the Bulldog chamber and remove the lion-share of carbon.  I follow the reaming blade using the Savinelli Pipe Knife to scrape the chamber wall and remove more carbon. Using a piece of 240 grit paper I fold it over a Sharpie Pen and sand the chamber wall and finish by wiping the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  The chamber looks good.  The pictures show the progress. Turning directly to the internals of the stummel, using cotton swabs and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95%, I work on cleaning the stummel.  I also utilize a spade dental tool to scrape the mortise walls to stir up the old tars and oils.  There was a good bit of gunk, but the swabs and pipe cleaners started coming clean.  Later I’ll use a salt and alcohol soak to clean further.Now, I clean the external surface of the stummel using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a cotton pad and bristled tooth brush I work on the crusted rim as well as the grime on the stummel surface.  Using a tooth pick I scape the grooves circling the stummel. The crust on the rim is not moving so I use a brass bristled brush which removes most of the hard lava crust, but not all.  Using my pin knife, I carefully scrape the rim removing the last crusted carbon holdouts.  After cleaning, I then rinse the stummel in warm tap water to rinse off the grime.  The Murphy’s Soap well removed the thin finish and I’m looking a bare briar for the most part.  Doing a quick inspection of the surface, there are several cuts and some fills in the briar surface.  The pictures show the progress and the inspection. I use a medium grade sanding sponge to sand out the nicks and cuts.  I focus especially on the ‘keel’ of the Bulldog where most thumps and bumps occurred.  On some deeper cuts, I strategically use a rolled piece of 240 grit paper where more abrasion was needed. I also give the rim a ‘semi-topping’ with the firmer coarser sponge.  I follow by sanding with a lite grade sanding sponge to smooth more.  The inner ring of the rim has a bevel and it is darkened.  Using a piece of 120 grit paper I clear out the damaged briar and reestablish a crisp inner bevel.  I follow this with 240 grit paper and finish with sanding sponges.  The pictures show the progress.I put the stummel aside and pluck the stem out of the Oxi-Clean bath.  I start by wet sanding with 600 grit paper to work on the raised oxidation but soon switch to 240 grit paper.  The oxidation is stiff.  I’m careful to avoid abrasion on the Falcon stem stamping.  I’m hopeful that there is enough definition left in the stamping to restore it later with white acrylic paint.  After using 240 grit paper, I then wet sand 600 grit paper then 0000 steel wool.  The oxidation is left over the falcon stamping and I hope that Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser will help remove the oxidation without damage to the stem stamp.  I think it helped, but there is still discoloration over the area but the stamping is still intact.  The pictures show the progress dealing with the oxidation. Before I forget it, I now turn to the stem internals cleaning it with pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%.  Without too much resistance, the pipe cleaner come through clean without too much effort.Moving ahead straight away with the stem, I use micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 and wet sand the stem.  Following this I dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000.  Following each set of 3 I apply Obsidian Oil to the stem to revitalize the vulcanite.  With the last cycle, I set the stem aside to dry.  The pictures show the progress. With the stem completed except for the final polishing phase and repainting the Falcon stem marking, I turn to the stummel using micromesh pads 1500 to 12000.  With the first set of three, 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stummel, then with the following sets, 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000 I dry sand.  Throughout, I avoided the markings on the shank panels. The pictures show the progress. With the original color leaning toward the darker brown side, I will use Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye and then lighten as I see need using a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.   To prepare the stummel, I use a sharp dental probe to trace the twin grooves to remove any leftover briar dust from the sanding.  Then I wipe the stummel with a cotton pad and isopropyl to clean away any dust. Placing my ‘stain board’ down on my work station I put a cork in the shank to act as a handle and then heat up the stummel with a heat gun.  This expands the briar and allows for a better absorption of the dye.  I use a folded over pipe cleaner to apply the dye liberally over the surface.  I fire the aniline dye and the alcohol burns off immediately, setting the hue in the briar.  To make sure the coverage is complete, I repeat the process above including the firing of the dye.  I then set the stummel aside to rest.  The pictures show the fire crusted stummel. With the stummel on the sidelines a while, I look at the falcon stem marking.  Pipe Phil’s example shows a lot of lines and contours shaping the bird and his perch.  I’m not sure my falcon has that much detail left after wear and sanding over the years.  After a closer look, it appears that the imprinted falcons are slightly different – my falcon appears that he’s looking up more than the other.  For comparison, I’ve placed the two together below.  I’ll see what I can do with white acrylic paint. The first approach was to apply paint and then, before drying, to carefully wipe it away, leaving paint in the grooves.  This did not work – seems like there was not enough groove to hold the paint.  Next, I applied more paint and let it dry. That did not work either.  I’m not sure if this is usually done in pipe restorations, but the problem is that the lines of the falcon stamping are too thin and will not hold the acrylic paint.  I decide to take the point of my pocket knife and attempt to sculpt the lines that are there to deepen them.  It took several iterations of sculpting, then applying paint, drying and scraping off with a toothpick, before I arrive at the best I can do at this point!  The pictures show some of the process. With the falcon stem marking completed, it’s time to ‘unwrap’ the fire crusted stummel.  I use Tripoli compound with a felt buffing wheel mounted on the Dremel and use the slowest speed available and rotate the wheel over the surface, without too much down pressure on the briar, but allowing the RPMs of the Dremel and the compound to do the work.  I take a picture into this process.  When completed with the Tripoli, I use a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to wipe down the stummel to lighten the dark brown dye as well as to blend the dye.  When satisfied (forgot to take a picture!) with the shade, next I mount a cotton cloth wheel and turn the speed up half a notch, to 1.5 and apply Blue Diamond compound in the same manner as with Tripoli.  After the Blue Diamond I give the stummel a good buffing with a flannel cloth to remove the compound dust from the stummel before application of the wax.  After joining stem and stummel, I then mount a cotton cloth wheel on the Dremel and apply carnauba wax to the stummel.  I give the stummel 3 coats of carnauba and then finish by giving the stummel and stem a hand-buff with a micromesh cloth.I’m very pleased with the results.  The Comoy’s Royal Falcon is an attractive Bent Bulldog.  I like the lines of the diamond shank flowing into the tapered stem.  The Royal Falcon looks good re-perched on his branch.  The briar grain is rich and deep.  I sell my restorations with the profits helping the work we do with the Daughters of Bulgaria – those sexually exploited and trafficked.  This Bulldog is ready to serve a new steward.  If you’re interested in adopting him and helping the Daughters, check out The Pipe Steward Store.  Thanks for joining me!

Nice find in Plovdiv, Bulgaria – Denicotea Deluxe Curling Bruyere Extra

Blog by Dal Stanton

In my last post restoring the Jeantet Fleuron (Link), I mentioned my recent pipe hunting expeditions during our R&R travels in Bulgaria with our daughter and son-in-law visiting from Denver, Colorado.  Jordan, my son-in-law, is a blooming pipe man and was my eager accomplice as we dipped in and out of antique shops we found.  One of those ‘dips’ unfolded in one of the longest inhabited cities in Europe and the world (since 5000BC!) – Plovdiv, Bulgaria, which enabled me to land the Denicotea Deluxe Curling before me now.  Since my field shape identification skills are still in development, when I first saw the pipe in the display case, I thought it was from the Canadian family – the longish shank and the long saddle stem got my attention.  Since the antique shop was situated in Old Towne, Plovdiv, in the shadow of the historic Thracian settlement (to the Romans, they were the ‘Barbarians’) the lady with whom I negotiated was pretty tough – I assume because her overhead expenses were more due to her classic location!  So the deal we struck was not as good as I was hoping, but with new pipe in hand, I took these initial pictures outside the antique shop with ancient cobblestone as a backdrop.de1 de2 de3 de4After just finishing the Jeantet Fleuron and my research zeroing in on French pipe making mecca, Saint Claude, I was anxious to start my work on this Denicotea Deluxe Curling, a name also ‘claimed’ by Saint Claude, according to one of my sources in that research. Here’s where the confusion began.  The source, a pipe shop of Saint Claude, La Pipe Rit, stated on their home page:

On our website, you will find pipes from Saint Claude made by the most famous brands, such as EoleChacomBayard, Butz-ChoquinDenicoteaJeantet and Ropp. The works of Saint Claude’s craftsmen are also present, for example, the unique handmade pipes created by Pierre Morel. You will also discover pipes from all over the world through VauenBig Ben, DunhillL’anatraPetersonPorscheSavinelliStanwellViprati and meerschaum pipes as well.  (La Pipe Rit)

This blurb led me to the assumption that the name Denicotea was claimed by Saint Claude, but when I started my digging on the Denicotea Curling on Pipedia I found, what many of you already know, Denicotea is a German enterprise.  Pipedia says of Denicotea,

Brand founded in 1932 in Cologne, Germany, by Willy Heineberg. Denicotea is actually the name of a silica gel filter, cigarette holders and care products for pipes and cigarette holders. They also introduced the brands Aldo Morelli, Adsorba, Wessex. (Link)

Pipephil confirms this information and adds that pipes were also manufactured by an English third party and marketed under the Denicotea brand. (Link).

So, at this point in my research I’m wondering what the French connection is – assuming that both sources were correct?  I dug a lot (learned a lot too!) looking at Pipedia and other sources seeking to confirm another ‘sighting’ of the name Denicotea in Saint Claude but found none.  The most plausible hypothesis that I was cultivating was that perhaps Willy Heineberg, who was born actually in Metz, France, had connections with Saint Claude before moving across the Rhine River into Germany (Metz and Cologne are relatively close) to establish the Denicotea operation.  I discovered that Willy Heineberg was born a Frenchman (though his surname appears to be of a German-Jewish lineage – see: Link) when I unearthed an interesting letter he wrote on July 31, 1951, to the director of the CIA, General Walter Bedell Smith, seeking help for the rebuilding of a French village raised by the Nazis during WWII – Saint-Die’.  Heineberg references in this letter that he was born in Metz, France, nearby Saint-Die’ and therefore wanted to help his compatriots.  At the time of writing, his letterhead placed him in NYC on 41 Park Avenue – the tobacco business must have been going well! (See the letter here: Link – in the letter he references at least one other tobacco mogul of RJ Reynolds along with other ‘who’s who’ of his day)

My research on Denicotea pipes was not terribly fruitful – one mostly finds information about their filter and accessory lines of production.  Notwithstanding, I’m looking at this Denicotea, not from Saint-Claude, yet very handsome and I’m attracted to the long saddle stem of this classic billiard – my revised shape identification.  On the left side of the shank is an arched Denicotea over De Luxe.  The right side is Curling over Bruyere Extra.  A shape number is pressed on the bottom of the shank which I believe is 118 or possibly 119 – not sure.  The saddle stem has a very faint, warn stamped D ensconced in a circle.  I hope to bring this fading stamp back from the edge of oblivion with some acrylic paint applied – we’ll see if there’s enough imprint to hold the paint.  The bowl is in good shape with some minor nicks and scrapes on the bottom.  There is some crusty cake build up in the fire chamber and the rim has some nicks and lava flow on it but it appears minor and in good shape.  The stem has significant oxidation but very little tooth chatter to worry about.  I take some additional pictures on my work table after returning home to Sofia.de5 de6 de7 de8de9I remove the stem and deliver it to the Oxi-clean bath to begin raising the oxidation from the vulcanite stem.  When I remove the stem and examine the mortise, I’m not sure what I see.  Has the tenon become dislodged from the stem and now unceremoniously implanted in the mortise or does this pipe by design have a vulcanite filter extension coming out of the mortise?  I also see what appears to be an old used filter jammed pretty snuggly in the mortise and I cannot remove it with my fingernails.  I also try to remove it with tweezers and after scraping at it a bit, I discover that what I thought was an old used filter is metal – I haven’t seen anything like this before.  It appears to have an airway slot on the lower portion of the metal ‘insert’. After trying unsuccessfully to pull the metal object out with my fingernails and gently trying to coax it out with my Buck knife, I decide to dip the mortise end in alcohol hopefully to loosen things up. After some careful prying so as to not damage the vulcanite ‘tenon’ in the mortise, what emerged was not anything I was expecting.  I have no idea what kind of internal stinger contraption I’m looking at.  After I clean it up the only thing I can think of is some clever internal stinger system that Denicotea came up with seeking that ever elusive cooler, dryer smoking experience.  I’m still not sure if the tenon has dislodged from the stem and is stuck in the mortise or if what I’m looking at is by design. de10 de11Taking my questions back to the internet, it didn’t take long to figure things out.  Pipephil’s entry for Denicotea (Link) has a picture showing a shape almost identical to the Curling and the mortise has the same vulcanite insert.  When I Googled for images, I saw other Curling styles with the same design.  With one particular entry from eBay, the metal insert I dislodged looks very familiar to the object in the Denicotea advertisement pictured below – it appears to be part of a filtration system which wedges up against an elongated filter of sorts that fits in the broad/long stem.  The very next thought that came to mind was that I hadn’t thought to look into the stem for a filter before dropping it into the Oxy-clean bath!  I’m not sure what I will do with the insert, but it does appear to serve as an air restrictor that would be helpful for use without a filter.  Any feedback on this would be appreciated! de12 de13With the object removed, I take my new Savinelli pipe knife to ream the bowl on my 10th floor balcony ‘Man Cave’.  This is where I’m able to smoke my pipes (door sealed) with my wife’s blessings.  With it being a beautiful fall day in Bulgaria, I’m happy to work there.  I can see why Steve enjoys using his Savinelli pipe knife – it takes the cake off very well and allows for a more delicate and selective approach when needed.  After reaming, I use 240 grit paper and clean and smooth the chamber walls further.  I like to work on clean pipes so I take pipe cleaners and Q-tips dipped in isopropyl 95% and go to work on the internals of the stummel.  After several Q-tips the mortise was not coming clean.  With Q-tips I detect an internal ridge inside the mortise created by the vulcanite inserted to the mortise.  I’m thinking that this design is a natural gunk collector which makes cleaning more of an on-going challenge.  I decide to hold off on more Q-tips and try the salt and alcohol technique I’ve read in other blogs (See at DadsPipes).  I use ‘all natural’ non-iodized Himalayan salt that I can find on the store shelves in Bulgaria. Why non-iodized?  I asked Charles Lemon at DadsPipes, why he used kosher salt?  His reply was that it was not ionized – that the ionization could leave an iodine taste when smoking the pipe.  I twist an unraveled cotton ball into the mortise to plug up that end.  I stabilize the stummel on the pipe stand and fill the bowl with salt.  Then I carefully add alcohol 95% to the bowl until I see it emerge at the top layer of salt.  It’s getting late so I let it soak overnight. de14 de15While the salt and alcohol does its thing, I fish the saddle stem out of the Oxy-clean bath.  My first instinct is to look down the throat of the stem to see if a long Denicotea stem filter is lying in wait.  To my chagrin, it is.  I take pictures to commemorate my discovery and then begin to wet sand the stem’s oxidation with 60 grit paper then with 000 steel wool.  I’m careful to avoid the stamped ‘D’ area of the stem, but when I look at the area of the D stamp my concern grows because it looks like the Oxi-clean bath itself caused some further deterioration.  I now realize that I should have covered the area with Vaseline to protect it…. learning one mistake at a time….  The oxidation on the stem has been minimized and I take pictures to show the progress.  Turning to the lodged stem filter, I use a dental probe to pull up on the filter while pushing from the button end with a pipe cleaner.  The surgery is successful and what looks like a charcoal filter emerges from the long saddle stem.  An economic theory starts forming in my mind about Denicotea pipes – could they be designed, produced and exist primarily for the filters Denicotea produces?  It makes economic sense.  A pipe is sold once and its profit is finite.  While filters made for that pipe are a continuous revenue stream.  Could my theory hold water? de16 de17With stem free of old filters, I clean the airway up with Q-tips and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%.  After using a few Q-tips I simply rolled large cotton ball pieces to clean the inside of the large stem using tweezers.  It did not take long.de18 de19The next day I dump the salt out of the bowl and wipe out the bowl with a paper towel to remove any left-over salt residue.  I returned to the Q-tip therapy to find out if the salt/alcohol soak had an impact on the gunk in the shank.  I discover residue so I expend several more Q-tips but finally get to the bottom of the gunk build-up in the shank and turn to the external bowl clean up.  To clean up the lava flow on the rim and the bowl surface I use Murphy Oil Soap undiluted with a cotton pad.  After the Murphy Oil Soap scrub I rinse the stummel with cool tap water careful not to allow water into the mortise or bowl.  The rim and bowl cleaned up nicely allowing me to see more clearly the wood and problem areas.  The rim has a burn mark just over the shank junction.  It looks like the previous owner drew the flame over the back side of the rim when lighting the tobacco.  I used a brass brush, which will not scratch the briar, with alcohol on that spot to see if it would remove the burn but it did not.  As I work on the burn, I see that it has burned ‘into’ the rim as well and because of this the inner bowl rim is slightly out of round – I need to correct this.  The stummel is showing attractive fire grain and some birds eye – I like the potential.  With a close inspection of the finish, I detect some blotches and what I call ‘candy apple shine’ spots.  The finish is worn.  I decide to remove it to get down to the bare briar.  I use cotton pads with acetone to do the job.  After removing the finish, I cut a slight bevel on the inner rim to regain round and remove the burn damage.  I use 120 grit paper rolled up tightly for the initial bevel followed by 240 then 600 to smooth it. I take pictures to show the progress, and yes, the picture below is ‘Acetone’ in Cyrillic!de20 de21 de22 de23To remove the light nicks and cuts on the stummel I use a medium grade sanding sponge and follow with a fine grade sanding sponge.  I then take a cotton pad with alcohol and wipe down the stummel to clean it from the sponge sanding residue.  I do this to take a closer look at the surface for fills or blemishes that need attention before I move on to the micro-mesh sanding.  I do find some pitting on the surface that I address with sanding sponges directly. I rejoin stummel and stem to assess the progress.  After taking a close up look at the stem after purging the oxidation with an Oxi-clean bath and sanding, I see no teeth chatter that needs to be addressed.  I also take another look at the Denicotea circle-D stamp on the stem to see if it can be salvaged.  Unfortunately, only the right portion of the circle is barely viable along with a very faint D.  Applying acrylic paint would only highlight the fact that it’s not all there, so I decide to finish the stem trying to salvage the remnant stamp as is.de24 de25 de26Using micro-mesh pads 1500-2400, I wet sand the stem attached to the stummel and follow by applying Obsidian Oil. With pads 3200 to 4000, then 6000 to 12000, I dry sand the stem and apply Obsidian Oil after each set of 3.  I never tire watching the shine make an appearance during the micromesh process!  I take pictures to show the progress and set the stem aside to dry.de27 de28 de29Turning to the bowl, I begin preparing the surface finish by wet sanding using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 followed by dry sanding with micromesh pads 3200-4000 and 6000-12000.  I’m liking very much the briar’s grain movement on this bowl.  I document the progress at each step.de30 de31 de32I started this restoration with the idea of experimenting with a staining technique I read in one of Steve’s restores – I’m not sure which one as I’ve read so many!  He used a black dye followed by a rub down with alcohol.  The purpose was to set the dark hue in the veins of the grain and then lighten the backdrop briar – Steve didn’t describe it quite like this but this is what recorded in my memory!  He then followed with another die hue to cast the contrast. I would like to try the same by first setting the dark hue with a dark walnut Italian aniline stain I found here.  I will follow this with a new arrival with my daughter and son-in-law from the States, Fiebing’s Oxblood Leather Dye.  I’m looking for the rich, deep reddish, burgundy hues in the briar that hopefully is subtle – I like this classic look even though it would be a total change in the color scheme of this Denicotea billiard, I hope it will dress it up nicely.  I give the stummel a quick wipe down with a cotton pad and alcohol to rid the surface of any possible residue leftover from the micromesh sanding.  I mount the inverted corked stummel on the candle stick holder and decide to try another technique I read recently from one of Steve’s postings of warming the briar first before applying the stain.  I do this with an air gun then, after putting on throw-away poly vinyl gloves, with a cotton dauber I apply the dark walnut dye generously to the inverted bottom and allow the die to saturate the stummel. I pick up the candle stick and rotate the stummel and make sure I daub die into the inverted rim.  After the surface is adequately covered I ‘flame’ the surface by lighting the wet dye with a butane lighter.  The alcohol in the die burns off very quickly to set the hue in the briar. I follow by wiping the stummel surface with alcohol and cotton pads to lighten and blend the initial dark walnut stain.  I repeat the process with Fiebing’s Oxblood Leather Dye diluted about ¼ with alcohol.  I complete the second application by flaming the dye which sets the oxblood over the dark walnut hue in the briar.  After taking pictures to show progress, I put the stummel aside allowing the stain to rest overnight.  I look forward to seeing how my experiment turns out when I return to the project tomorrow!de33 de34 de35I really enjoy witnessing the initial revelation of the briar surface after the staining process.  This pipe was no exception.  I take my compact Dremel tool (a wonderful friend when workshop space in not available!) with a felt wheel and apply Tripoli to the final flamed Oxblood surface I completed the night before.  I use the lowest speed and do not apply a great deal of pressure to the felt wheel as I consistently move it over the stummel surface.  I allow the speed of the wheel and the compound to do the work.  The briar is emerging as I buff with the Tripoli.  I love the mosaic of grain design that emerges as I work over the stummel surface.  I follow the Tripoli compound with Blue Diamond, also using a felt wheel with the Dremel speed set to the lowest RPM.  After completing the Blue Diamond, I attach a cotton cloth wheel to the Dremel and increase the speed by one number and apply several applications of carnauba wax to both stummel and the rejoined saddle stem.  Through trial and error, I’ve been able to develop a technique for applying the compounds and carnauba wax that works well for me – in my compact 10th floor work station.  Under a bright light, with the sheen of the stummel surface my focus, I am able to see the application of the compound and how it disburses over the briar with the different wheels.  I am able to identify compound or wax that hasn’t integrated into the surface – it appears as a thick ripple, and I’m able to revisit it with the wheel rotation to work in more thoroughly what has been ‘left-behind’.  This works especially well with the carnauba wax which disburses with the heat of the wheel’s rotation.  I can see the wax liquefy and am able to spread it over a portion of the surface.  After applying several applications of carnauba wax, I Dremel buff the entire stem and stummel surface with a clean cotton wheel and complete the process with a rigorous hand-buff with a clean microfiber cloth to raise the shine more.

I am thoroughly pleased with the rich, deep hues the stains contributed to the beautiful briar grain of this Denicotea DeLuxe Curling Bruyere Extra.  I’m not sure the pictures below capture the depth of grain that I can appreciate with the naked eye.  The color and the shape bring to mind what could be a pleasing match for a classic smoking jacket one might see donned by the Earl of Grantham, Robert Crawley, as he retires to the smoking room at Downton Abbey.  ‘Classic’ is the one word that keeps coming to mind about this pipe!  One question that remains for me is what to do with the internals of the filtration system – any thoughts on that would be appreciated.  As I shared with my last post, my wife has lovingly put her foot down! This pipe will reluctantly head to eBay or, if you have an interest in adding this classic shape to your collection, let me know.  Thanks for joining me!de36 de37 de38 de39 de40 de41 de42 de43 de44