Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table is a bit of a strange one to me. It is almost an egg shape on its side with a stem that should have been bent a bit more to fit the angles of the pipe. It has an oval shank and an oval saddle stem. It is stamped on the underside of the shank and reads Astleys over 109 Jermyn St over London. There is no other shape numbers on the pipe. The finish is smooth and has some great grain around the sides, top and bottom of the bowl and shank. It was quite dirty and the rim top had an overflow of lava on the beveled inner rim top. The bowl was thickly caked and the inner edge of the rim had some darkening. The saddle stem was vulcanite and had tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The stem was oxidized and had some calcification on the end. Jeff took some photos of the pipe to show the general condition of the pipe before he started his clean up. He took some photos of the rim top and bowl from various angles to give me a clear picture of the condition of the rim top and bowl. You can see the cake in the bowl and the darkening around the inner edge of the rim. Jeff took some photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish on the pipe. The photos show the beautiful grain around the bowl. Under the oils and grime it was a nice looking bowl. I think it will be a really nice looking pipe once it is restored. He took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. On the shank it was stamped Astley’s over 109 Jermyn St over London. As noted there was not a shape number.The next two photos show the top and underside of the stem. It is dirty and has calcification on both sides at the button. There is also some tooth chatter and some light tooth marks. The third photo shows the condition of the slot while the final photo shows the curve of the full stem. Jeff once again did an amazing job cleaning the pipe. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and got rid of the cake. He cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife so that we could see the walls of the bowl and assess for damage. He cleaned the internals of the shank and stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and alcohol. He scrubbed the exterior with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush. He rinsed the pipe under warm water. He dried it off with a cloth and then let it air dry. The stem was scrubbed with Soft Scrub and it came out looking very good. The finish on the bowl and the rim top cleaned up nicely. I took pictures of the pipe to show how it looked when I unpacked it. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show how clean it was. There was some damage and darkening on the inner edge of the rim. It was slightly out of round from the damage. You can also see the crack on the top of the shank (Jeff had mentioned this to me in our conversations today). I have circled it in red in the photo below. The stem looked good just some light tooth chatter and several deeper tooth marks near the button.I decided to address the hairline crack in the top of the shank. It was not a deep crack and it did not go all the way around the shank. It was only on the top of the shank. You can see the totality of it in the first photo below. I used a microdrill bit on my Dremel to drill a small hole at each end of the crack to stop it from spreading further. I located the end of the crack with lens and marked it. I drilled a hole at each end (photos 2 and 3). The fourth photo shows both ends of the crack with the pilot holes. I wiped down the surface of the crack. I cleaned it out with a dental pick to open it slightly. I filled in the crack and the pilot holes with clear super glue. I used a dental spatula to spread briar dust over the pilot holes and the crack.Once the repair had cured I sanded the surface of the shank around and over the crack with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper and smoothed the repair out and blended it into the surface of the surrounding briar. I was able to blend it in fairly well. While it is still visible in the photo below it is solid and repaired.When I examined the end of the shank, the angled drilling of the airway into the bowl left a thin area at the bottom of the mortise opening. I put a few drops of super glue in the airway and put some briar dust on top of the glue to build up the mortise in that area. Once it was cured I sanded it smooth with a small sanding stick.I decided to address the damage to the inner edge of the rim. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the rim edge and give it a bevel to minimize the damage to the edge.. I was able to remove the damage and bring the bowl back into round.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping down the briar after each sanding pad with a damp cloth. The briar began to shine. I touched up the stain around the sanded area of the repair with a Cherry stain pen and blended the repair into the surrounding briar. The result looks very good.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar with my fingertips. The product is a great addition to the restoration work. It enlivens, enriches and protects the briar while giving it a deep glow. I appreciate Mark Hoover’s work in developing this product. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the tooth marks with the flame of a Bic lighter to try and raise them a bit. Remember vulcanite has “memory” and if the marks are not sharp edge the heat well raise them. In this case while they came up some there was still significant damage.I filled in the remaining tooth marks with clear CA glue and set the stem aside to dry.Once the repairs cured I used a needle file to flatten them out and recut the sharp edge of the button.I sanded the surface of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to further blend in the repairs. I started the polishing process with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish from a tin of it I have in the drawer here. It is a gritty red paste that I rub on with my finger tips and work it into the surface of the stem and button and buff it off with a cotton pad. It gives me a bit of a head start on the polishing work.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I buffed the stem with a soft cloth to raise the shine. I wiped the stem down with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil to preserve and protect the stem surface. As always I am excited to finish a pipe that I am working on. I put the Astley’s pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad and hand buffed it to raise the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like along with the polished vulcanite stem. This is nice looking pipe and I am sure that it will be comfortable in hand when smoking as it is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. It is another beautiful pipe and one that will be on the rebornpipes store soon. You can find it in the section of Pipes by English Pipe Makers. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog.