Tag Archives: Bakelite or Redmanol Stems

Breathing life into a Superior Real Briar Bulldog

Blog by Steve Laug

This older C.P.F. style bulldog with an ornate rim cap and shank end cap was another pipe that my brother and I found in our pipe hunt in Montana. That hunt yielded a lot of older C.P.F. and WDC pipes from between the late 1890s and the early 1900s. This one is certainly from that time period. The briar is very worn and the finish is gone. The metal rim cap and shank cap or ferrule are brass coloured but blackened with oxidation. The top of the rim is thickly caked with the lava overflow from the heavy cake in the bowl itself. The stem is either Redmanol or Bakelite and has some cracking near the shank/stem junction but nothing that affects the fit of the stem to the shank. There is some tooth chatter and tooth marks near the button on the top and underside of the stem. My brother took the photos that follow before he did his clean up.The pipe has some faint stamping on the left side of the shank. The photo below shows the condition of the stamping. It clearly reads SUPERIOR in a diamond. There seems to be other stamping that is faint underneath SUPERIOR in the diamond but I am unable to read it. On the outside of the diamond there is stamping on either side. It is faint but to the left under the edge of the diamond is faint stamping Real and under the right edge of the diamond it reads Briar. There appears to be something underneath the diamond going across the shank but it is not clear enough for me to be able to read.The next two photos show the pipe from two different angles to give an idea of what the pipe looked like in its entirety. There is some real promise with this old pipe.The rings around the cap on the bowl are in excellent condition. There is some debris lodged in them but there are no chips or cracks in the ring. The finish on the briar is spotty with small remnants of the original finish in place. The grain on the pipe is quite nice underneath the grime. The bowl has a thick cake in it and the lava has flowed over on top of the rim top. The metal rim top is blackened and has a thick cake of lava on it. It is hard to know what the inner edge of the rim will look like at this point because of the cake in the bowl. The carvings/castings in the metal rim cap and the shank end are dirty and have a lot of grime built up in the grooves and crannies. The Bakelite/Redmanol stem had tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem from the button forward about an inch. There were some small cracks in the shank end of the stem that would need to be addressed in the repair.Jeff did an amazing job of reaming out the bowl on this one and revealed that the metal cap was folded over and lined the inner edge of the rim thus protecting the rim from damage. He was able to ream the bowl back to bare briar without damaging this inner rim edge. He cleaned out the internals of the pipe with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they were clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl and the metal with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap. This removed the grime in the nooks and crannies of the metal work and also cleaned the briar. He was careful around the already damaged stamping so as not to damage it further. When the pipe arrived in Canada it was clean and ready for restoration. I took photos of the pipe before I began my work to show what it looked like cleaned and ready for me. I love working on clean pipes! He was able to get all of the buildup off the rim cap but the surface was pitted and worn from all of the years of grime sitting on the brass. The bowl looked really good and the brass folded over the inside edge was darkened but undamaged.The stem was cleaned of the tars that were on the inside of the airways. The photos show the cracking at the shank end near the band. While the cracks were not rough to touch they were present. There were also many tiny little spidering cracks on the inside of the airway.I polished the metal rim cap and inner edge with micromesh sanding pads, wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads. I was able to remove much of the pitting and scratching on the surface and the blackening of the inner edge of the cap. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads to further polish the cap and edge.I laid the bowl aside for the time being and turned my attention to the stem repairs. I cleaned the surface of the stem around the largest and roughest feeling crack with a water dampened cotton pad. I sanded it with 1500 micromesh and wiped it another time to remove the sanding residue. I filled in the cracked surface with clear super glue and let it cure. When it dried I sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and also sanded the tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem at the button.I cleaned out the interior of the stem with pipe cleaners and water to remove more of the debris from the airway.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after sanding with each micromesh sanding pad, gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I turned back to the bowl to finish my work on it. I wiped the briar down with a cotton pad and alcohol being careful around the faint stamping on the shank. I was hoping that when it was wet it would be more readable. Sadly it was not. The SUPERIOR stamp was all that I could read. The briar has some nice grain. I decided to leave the nicks and scratches alone as they were well earned character marks on this 100+ year old pipe. I really like the look of the raw briar on this one so I decided to rub it down with olive oil to make the grain stand out and give the briar some life. The next photos show the grain on the oiled bowl. It looks really good to my eye. I gave the bowl a coat of Conservator’s Wax to protect the briar and when the wax dried I buffed it with a flannel cloth to give it a shine. I put the stem back on the shank and in doing so remembered that it was slightly overturned. The lines of the shank and the diamond stem did not align. I have found that on these old bone tenon and threaded mortises that they wear down slightly over time. A little trick I use to address the wear is to paint the tenon with a thin coat of clear fingernail polish that I swiped from my daughters years ago. It dries clear and just one thin coat was enough to align the stem perfectly when I screwed it into the mortise.I lightly buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to remove the tiny scratches that remained on the brass and the briar. I gave the briar portion of the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and polished them with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I polished the brass with a jeweler’s cloth and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the entire pipe with a microfiber cloth to put on the finishing touches. The pipe is shown in the photos below in all of its beauty. I love the look of these older pipes with all of the bling and the Redmanol/Bakelite stems. They really look elegant and show their era well. Thanks for coming with me on this refurb.



A WDC Bakelite/Briar Pipe like none I have seen before

Blog by Steve Laug

When my brother sent me this pipe I have to say I was surprised and enamored with it. I have cleaned up a lot of WDC pipes over the years and have come to really like them. There is something about them that always gets my attention. The workmanship is generally well done. The materials used are good quality. The briar always tends to have some flaws and is never perfect. But there is something about the brand that I like. Well this pipe is an oddity to me. It is a shape that is similar to some of the CPF pipes I have cleaned up and the combination of briar, brass and Bakelite it really nicely done. The first difference is that this one has a flat rectangular shank and saddle stem. The Bakelite base is rounded and flows into the flattened shank and stem. The stem is also Bakelite or Redmanol as the case may be. It is a rich reddish colour that is translucent and the light really plays with. The second difference is that in a lot of this style pipe the threaded connector and bottom of the bowl is metal. On this one it is white porcelain. When the bowl is removed the threaded connector is also porcelain – a single porcelain unit from the cupped bottom of the bowl to the connector. Those two differences intrigued me.WDC1There is a brass spacer between the base and the briar bowl and at some time in its life the spacer had been reversed and the sharper edges scarred the bowl. The Bakelite is actually notched to receive the sharp turned down edges of the spacer. The bowl had lots of dents and scars – character marks that I wish could talk and tell the story of the travels of this old pipe. The brass rim had long since come loose and was easily removed but for some reason never disappeared as it clung to the rim of the pipe. In the next photo you can see the rim top and the porcelain bottom of the bowl… it almost looks like the old milk glass that my grandmother collected.WDC2After looking at the two pictures above that came from my brother I was looking forward to seeing the pipe in person. When it arrived and I finally took it out to work on it was all that I had expected. The stem was over clocked so that would need to be addressed but I lined things up and took the next set of photos to show what the pipe looked like after my brother did an amazing job cleaning it. (It is great to have him work with me – it really speeds up the process on the restoration. He reams and cleans the pipes and does the dirty work of reaming and removing the debris of the years.) I looked it over to see if there were identifying marks. What I thought was brass may all be what is stamped on the right side of the band – 14K Gold Plated. The left side of the band bears the inverted WDC triangle logo.WDC3 WDC4I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the dents, scratches and scars on the surface. The photo also shows the porcelain cup in the bottom of the bowl. It has three round air holes for directing the smoke into the bottom chamber and into the stem.WDC5I dismantled the pipe to show the many parts that went into its construction. The photo below shows the broken down pipe.WDC6The next photos show the over clocked stem. (I had removed the loose band at this point in the process.) Once the base was screwed onto the stem it was grossly overturned. The metal tenon was set in the stem so it would need to be heated to be able to repair this.WDC7I heated the metal tenon with a lighter and once the glue softened I was able to align the stem and shank very easily. Underneath the band the number 43 had been scratched into the Bakelite shank. I am not sure if that is the shape number or if it is the “autograph” of the assembler of the pipe. Either way it is something that remained hidden for many years. WDC8I set the base aside and worked on the bowl. I removed the rim cap and cleaned off the glue that remained behind on the top of the bowl. It was rough and I was thinking that it was reason that the cap was no longer smooth. I scrubbed out the glue residue in the inside of the rim cap as well with alcohol and cotton swabs. I used a flat blade screw driver to smooth out the interior flat surface of the cap. I wiped down the bowl with acetone to remove the remnants of the finish and then glued the rim cap back in place with an all-purpose glue. I polish the rim with some micromesh and metal polish. I decided to leave some of the dents and dings as to me it gave the pipe character.WDC9 WDC10I cleaned the surface of the Bakelite base and sanded the whole base with micromesh sanding pads from 1500-12000 grit. I rubbed the base down with Obsidian Oil several times throughout the process to give the micromesh some bite as I polished the base. WDC11WDC12I gave the internals a quick clean with alcohol and cotton swabs to remove any of the sanding dust that might have found its way into the bowl base and shank. I also cleaned the airway in the stem at the same time with alcohol and pipe cleaners.WDC13I roughened the area on the base that would be underneath the band to give the glue something to bind to. I used an all-purpose glue and applied it sparingly to the shank. I had previously polished the band with metal polish to remove any tarnish and give it a shine. I pressed it in place and laid the base aside for the glue to set.WDC14I cleaned the inside of the space plate with alcohol and cotton swabs to remove the debris of the years. The spacer appeared not to have been glued in place so I left it that way. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads 1500-4000 grit until it gleamed. I laid it aside until I was ready to put the pipe back together.WDC15I turned my attention to the stem. There were some light tooth marks on the underside of the stem near the button. I sanded these out with 220 grit sandpaper. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cotton pad and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I gave the stem a final wipe down with the damp pad.WDC16 WDC17 WDC18With the stem finished and the glued band dried I put the base and stem back together. I would still need to buff the entirety with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel.WDC19WDC20I used a medium brown stain pen to stain the bowl. I heated the briar and then applied the stain with the pen. I repeated the staining until the coverage was smooth and even.WDC21I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed it to raise the shine with a microfibre cloth.WDC22WDC23With all the parts finished I took a final photo of the bowl and the base before putting it back together.WDC24I buffed the completed pipe with Blue Diamond to polish out some of the scratches in the base and the stem. I was not able to remove all of them so I left a few behind to tell the story. I gave the pipe several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I am really pleased with the finished pipe and how it looks. Thanks for looking.WDC25 WDC26 WDC27 Wdc28 WDC29 WDC30 WDC31 WDC32