Tag Archives: Banding a cracked shank

A Tiny 2 Star BBB 8881 Apple/Globe Provided An Interesting Challenge


Blog by Steve Laug

When I spoke with a fellow here in Vancouver who had a pipe that he wanted me to fix it sounded like a simple repair. He said that it had a very loosely fitting stem. He asked if he could drop by to show it to me and see if I could fix it. From past experience I have learned to never jump to conclusions about what sounded like an easy repair. When he arrived he showed me his GBD Faux Spigot. It turned out to need far more work than just tightening a loose stem. I wrote about that restoration in a previous blog (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/11/03/redoing-a-poorly-restored-ebay-gbd-super-q-9436/). We talked about his GBD for a bit and he made the decision to have me do a restoration on it. Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small plastic bag with a little BBB 2 Star apple of globe shaped pipe. It was stamped BBB in a diamond on the left side of the shank with two ** – one on either side of the diamond. ON the right side it was stamped Made in England over the shape number 8881. He said that he had found it at his parents’ house and really no one there knew where it came from.

Here is what I saw. Starting with externals. The pipe was small – kind of a pocket pipe. The grain on the bowl was quite stunning – a mix of flame and birdseye all around the bowl and shank. The rim top was coated with a thick lava coat and it went into the bowl. The inner edge of the bowl was in rough shape having been hacked clean with a knife. There was a crack on the right side of the shank curving to the underside. It looked to me it was made by the poorly made stem being shoved into the shank. The stem was larger in diameter than the shank and had been rounded over with a file. There were deep bite marks on the surface ahead of the button on both sides. Moving to the internals. The end of the tenon was carved with a knife to make it fit the mortise in the small shank. The inside of the shank was dirty but less so than I expected. The inside of the bowl had a light cake but most of that was gone from the knife job that had left a wounded inner edge on the rim. Looking at the pipe I explained what I would have to do to bring it back to life and restore it to use. It would need, cleaning, reshaping on the rim, a band on the cracked shank that would leave the stamping readable, and a reworking of the stem to make it a fitting addition to the lovely briar of the bowl. The pipe was going to be a fun challenge. I took these photos to give you an idea of what I saw. The previous pipeman who had fit a new stem to an old favourite pipe had done a functional job but it looked rough. It was pretty clean on the inside so it was cared for. It must have been a great smoking pipe for him to fit a new stem and not give up on it when the previous one broke or was lost. It was smokable. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the condition. It is hard to see but the rim top was not smooth. The lava build up was pretty thick and there were some deep nicks and chips in the flat top. The close up photos of the stem reveal the scratches in the vulcanite, the tooth marks and the worn and ill-defined button.  The oversized diameter – prettified to look nice is clear in the photos. I took photos from the side of the pipe to show the stamping on the shank and the prettified stem. In the second photo you can see the crack in the shank curving downward to the underside.I decided to address the cracked shank first. With the crack as large as it was and movable I did not want to further damage it when I worked on the stem and fit of the tenon. I knew that it needed to be banded but that would cover the stamping on the shank so adjustments would have to be made. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to reduce the size of the shank to fit the band I had chosen. I did not take of too much briar and I only damaged the M in Made In England as part of it would end up being covered by the band.I repaired the crack in the shank with super glue and pressure fit the band onto the shank to the point of the end of the sanded portion. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to cut back the band to the width that I wanted. Compare the photos above with the one below to see how much I took off of the band. I topped the band on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper and smooth out the sharp edge with 1500 grit micromesh. I decided that since I was already working with the Dremel and sanding drum that I would take down the excess diameter on the stem as well. I reduced it to sit snugly against the band giving the pipe a classy look.I cleaned up around the inside edge of the band and edge on the shank with a folded piece of 2220 grit sandpaper to smooth things out and make the fit and transition smooth. I lightly sanded the blade portion of the stem and the area of the tooth marks next to the button with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and clean it up. I fit the stem in the shank and took a photo of the pipe at this point in the process. It was beginning to look like a classic BBB to my eye. With the stem roughly fit to the shank it was time to address the bowl top. I topped it on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. At that point I called it a night. I had to catch a train down to the southern part of Washington from Vancouver in the morning so I thought I would bag up a couple of pipes I was working on and take them with me.I caught the train south from Vancouver, BC at 6:30am. Once we had our seats we were in for an 8 hour train ride. I figure it would be a good opportunity to work on these two pipes. You can see my work table in the photo below. I used the fold down table. It had a lip around it so I spread out a couple of napkins for the dust and went to work on the pipes.I started working on the BBB by addressing the damage to the inner edge of the rim. It was significant with cuts and burns. My topping worked had helped with the top damage and smoothed that out but I need to work on the rim edge. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the sharp edges and bring the bowl back to round. Once I had the rim as round as I could get it and smoothed out the damaged edge I polished it with micromesh sanding pads. I polished the bowl and the rim at the same time. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp napkin after each pad. I touched up the stain around the front of the band and stained the rim top and inner edge with Maple and Cherry stain pens. Together the two stains matched the rest of the bowl.I rubbed down the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the smooth surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little wall and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The rim matches well but still needs to be polished and buffed to raise a shine on it. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to reshape the button and also to smooth out the marks left by the Dremel when reducing the diameter of the stem. I sanded the tooth marks near the button on each side of the stem to smooth them out.I polished the stem, tenon and metal work with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I was able to remove the damage on the tenon and polish out the dripping varnish on the metal adornment. The stem looked much better at this point in the process. I the polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches and raise the shine. I gave the bowl and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. This turned out to be a beautiful little pocket pipe in terms of shape and finish. The new nickel band adds a touch of class in my opinion and gives the pipe a new elegance. I look forward to hearing what the fellow who dropped it off for repair thinks of it once he has it in hand and is smoking it. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 4 inches, Height: 1 3/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 inch, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

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Crafting a thin band for a cracked shank in a Tracy Mincer Large Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

A good friend from New York, who I met over email and I have talked about all things pipes and tobaccos over the months. We have Skyped together and compared notes on our favourite pipes and tobaccos as well as the aging process in our lives. We have become pretty good friends sending tobaccos and pipes back and forth across the continent and chatting together regularly. A month or so ago he showed me one of his favourite old Tracy Mincer billiards. It was a beautiful pipe that only bore the Tracy Mincer stamp on the underside of the shank. He told me that he was cleaning it and removed the stem and heard that fearsome crack sound that pipemen have come to know as a shank cracking. Sure enough the shank cracked on his beautiful pipe. We spoke of options that were available for a repair. One of those was to insert a Delrin or stainless tube in the shank, reduce the tenon diameter and the repair would be complete. Another option would be to band the shank. He wanted me to have a go at the repair so he shipped it to me to work on. He did not want a band on the shank as he liked the original look of the pipe.

When the pipe arrived it was far larger than I imagined. It really was well rusticated and beautiful. The rim top, the rustication on the sides and shank as well as the smooth band around the shank/stem union really stood out against the rustication. The high quality vulcanite had some light tooth marks and a light oxidation in the surface. I removed the stem and measured the shank with a micrometer to see what I needed in terms of an insert tube. I opted for a stainless tube. I drilled it out and smoothed out the inside of the tube. It was ready to be inserted and set in the mortise. I set it aside and picked up the stem. That is when I realized that there was a problem. Airway in the tenon was drilled off centre to the top left. If that was not bad enough it was drilled at a bit of an angle. The combination of the off centre drilling and the angle of the airway meant that if I reduced the diameter of the tenon I would end up opening up the airway on the upper left side and essentially destroying the tenon. I thought about removing the tenon, drill the airway open and replacing it but that was problematic because of the angled drilling.

With the facts in hand I did a Skype call with New York and explained the issues and showed my friend the airway in the stem and tenon. I showed him the off centeredness and the angular drilling and told him that I would send the pipe back to him as he did not like metal bands. We spent some time talking about options – even leaving it as it was with the crack and just enjoying it while being careful. He said that he knew it was there and it would bother him. We went online and looked at some of the bands available – all of them were too large and covered too much of the shank. They just would not do on this particular pipe. At that point I had an idea – I could cut the band down so that it was a much thinner band and the profile would actually work well with the look of the pipe. We discussed the pros and cons of that solution and he gave the go ahead. I ordered a 20.5mm nickel band for the shank of his pipe. It was the largest band available and it was a close fit to the shank. It would need some work but it would look good I thought once it was completed.

When the bands arrived I was so anxious to get started on the repair of the pipe that I forgot to take photos of the pipe. I sent a message to my friend and asked if he had any photos of the pipe before he sent it to me. He laughed and said he too forgot to follow his normal habit of taking a full set of photos before he mailed it. He did have one photo of the pipe that I could use. He sent it to me and I have included it below.I cleaned up the end of the shank and used a Dremel and sanding drum and a small flat needle file to cut a channel in the shank end for the band to rest in once it was in place. The diameter of the band was slightly smaller than the shank so this was necessary. I sanded the area smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to fit the band in place. I pressed the band on the shank and used a Dremel and sanding drum to remove over half of the depth of the band. I wanted it to be significantly thinner and cover less of the briar. When I got close to the right depth I used a topping board and 220 grit sandpaper to take it down even more. With the band on the shank I wanted the edge of the band and the shank end to be flush so that the stem sat firmly in place as it had before. The next two photos show an original 20.5mm band with the one that I cut down. You can see from the photo how high on the shank the band would have gone. The new band was less than half the size of the original band.Once the band was the right height I smoothed out the cut off edge to take away the sharpness of the metal. I rubbed some white all-purpose glue on the cracked area and on the freshly sanded area that the band would sit on and pressed the band onto the shank. I wiped off the excess glue that was squeezed out but the band with a damp cotton pad and took the following photos. I polished the area in front of the band where I has sanded it smooth using micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-6000 grit pads. Once it was smooth I restained it by mixing a medium and a dark brown stain pen to match the colour of the rest of the pipe. The colour was good. I took photos of the pipe at this point before I buffed and polished it. I polished the nickel band and the restained shank with micromesh sanding pads. I dry sanded with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each pad. I wiped it down after the final set of pads one more time. I buffed the bowl and shank with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to raise a shine and blend the stains together. There were some tooth marks and tooth chatter on both sides of the stem just ahead of the button. I sanded out the chatter in the vulcanite with 220 grit sandpaper. It did not take too much work to remove all of the marks. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish Fine and Extra Fine. I wiped it down a final time with the oil and put it aside to dry. With the stem polished I put it back on the pipe and lightly buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond being careful to not fill the grooves in the blast with the polishing compound. I used a regular touch on the stem to polish out any remaining scratches. The bowl had a good coat of wax when it arrived so I gave the stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I will get it in the mail to my friend in New York on the weekend. I am looking forward to hearing what he thinks once he sees the finished pipe both on the blog and in hand. Thanks for walking through the banding process with me. This was a pipe that I really enjoyed working on. Cheers.

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Repairing a cracked shank on an older Brigham 117 Patent Rhodesian


Blog by Steve Laug

Not long ago I received a message on the blog from a pipeman in Alberta regarding an older Brigham pipe that he had that was in great shape and had a long hairline crack in the shank from the bottom of the left side up through the stamping into the middle of “i” in Brigham. It caused the stem to be loose and he was worried about it continuing to crack across the rest of the shank. I was pretty certain it could be fixed but would need to be banded. The pipe is stamped Brigham over Can. Pat. 372982 on the left side of the shank and shape number 117 on the flattened underside of the shank near the bowl/shank junction. He sent me the following three photos to show the position of the crack in the shank. He circled them in red to make them clear. He took photos of the side of the shank against a green and a black background to make the crack very visible. He also sent an end shot to show the crack from that vantage point. Almost incidentally he also did made the patent number also visible in his photos. I wrote Charles Lemon of Dadspipes as he is my go to source for all things Brigham and asked him about the pipe. He said that the patent stamp dates it between 1938-1955. Based on it being a one dot and a smooth finish, he said it was probably closer to 38 than 55. He also said that the shape 17 (or in this case 117) is what Brigham called a round Bulldog. I took photos of the pipe when I took it out of the box. It was well restored and very clean. The finish was in great shape. The stamping was very clear with a little wear at the middle of the Brigham stamp. The single brass dot on the stem side was clear. The vulcanite stem looked very clean and polished. There was a little rounding to the side of the stem at the stem/shank union but it was really pretty clean. There were some small tooth dents in the stem but the stem looked good. The rim top was clean and the entire pipe was clean and ready to smoke. I took photos of the bowl/rim top and the stem to show the condition it was in when it arrived. It really looks good. You can see the damaged areas on the inside edge of the rim and the marks on the stem but it still is very nice. I took two photos to show the crack as it appeared without a lens. The first shows the end of the shank. It is on the lower left side of the photo. The second shows it on the side of the shank. I circled them in red to highlight the location.Looking it over in a bright light with a lens I knew that I would need to drill a small hole at the end of the crack. The hard thing was that the end of the crack was in the letter “i” on Brigham. I would also need to band the shank to keep it from splitting and fortify the shank when the stem was inserted. I took a band that was the right diameter for the shank out of my box of bands.I used the end of a small screw, pressed into the end of the crack to mark the pilot hole for the drill. I inserted a tiny microdrill bit in the chuck of my Dremel and set the speed to 5. I started the drill and slowly drilled the hole in the middle of the letter to stop the crack from spreading further.I used the tip of a dental pick to place a small drop of Krazy Glue (CA) in the hole I had drilled in the shank. It was a tiny hole so it did not take too much glue to fill in the hole. I put a tiny drop of glue on the crack that was going to be covered by the band and pressed it together to bind the crack and seal it.I used a very small sanding stick to spot sand the repair on the shank. I was able to smooth out the repair without damaging the surrounding letters on the stamping. I put a little all-purpose glue on the surface of the shank that would be covered by the band and pressed the band in place. I pressed it far enough onto the shank to provide the strengthening of the shank but did not cover up any of the stamping on the side of the shank. I used the Dremel and sanding drum to sand the excess length of the band back until it extended just beyond the end of the shank. I topped the band edge with the topping board to smooth it out. I used micromesh sanding pads to smooth out the sharp edge of the band and to polish the band. I took a photo of the shank end and repair after the band had been pressed in place. The crack on the shank end is invisible now. The crack on the shank side and up into the Brigham stamp is pressed tightly together making it less visible.The repair was finished. The stem now fit snug in the shank. The new band on the shank looked really good and dressed up the pipe. I polished the pipe on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond to remove scratches on the bowl, shank, band and stem. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It looks better than it did in the beginning. The pipe is finished and I will be sending it back to Alberta a little later this week. I am hoping the pipeman there enjoys it. Thanks for looking.

Restoring a Wreck of a C.P.F. Rectangular Shank Bent Egg


Blog by Steve Laug

This poor old C.P.F. rectangular shank bent egg was in rough shape when it arrived in Vancouver. Not only was the tenon broken but the stem was in pretty damaged. There were tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside of the stem. The sides of the rectangular saddle portion of the stem were very damaged with deep casting marks and gouges. I think the stem is made of Bakelite but it was really a mess. Add to that the condition of the bowl – three cracks running down the front right side from the rim down and across the bowl, a cracked shank, no band, a scratched and damaged finish and you have a clear picture of the condition of the tired old pipe. There was a day when I would have retired this one and moved on to a different pipe but today it is a challenge worth taking and seeing what I can do with it. Jeff took various photos of the pipe to show what it looked like when he picked it up.The rim top was a mess. There was an overflow of lava that had hardened on the rim top. There was an average cake in the bowl that would need to go in order to repair the damaged areas. The inner edge of the rim was probably damaged though it was hard to tell at this point. There were to cracks on the right side of the rim toward the front of the bowl. I have included two photos to show the cracks in the same area from the rim down and across the bowl on the top right side. I have used red arrows to point them out in both photos.The crack in the shank is very obvious in the photo below. It was quite deep and had begun to separate. You can also see the damage to the stem at the stem/shank junction. But even with all of the damage there was still some charm to the briar. The grain was interesting – a combination of birdseye and cross grain all around the bowl. The flat bottom portion had nice cross grain that would stand out once the pipe was restained. The threads in the mortise were in excellent condition. The U-shaped divot at the bottom of the mortise shows how the airway was drilled into the bowl. The threads on the tenon looked good at this point. The next photos show the extensive damage to the sides of the saddle stem. It was rough. It almost looked as if someone had tried to pry it free from the shank rather than unscrewing it. There were some deep tooth marks and a lot of chatter on both sides of the stem in front of the button. Once again when the pipe arrived in Vancouver, I could see that Jeff had done his magic in cleaning and scrubbing it. He had reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He cleaned up the rim and the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime and debris on the briar itself. He had exercised care around the gold stamping on the left side of the shank. He had cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. The stem damage was clearly visible and the gouges on the sides of the saddle stem stood out in clarity. There were some deep tooth marks on both sides of the stem at the button. When I brought the pipe to my work table I took some photos of it as I opened the case. It really was a beautiful old pipe. I took a photo of the rim top and bowl to show the issues there. The bowl was very clean. The rim top photo shows the cracks very clearly and the scars on the inside edge of the rim. The right side photo also shows the cracks.The stem has some beauty still, but the deep tooth marks would need a lot of work to bring them back to a smooth condition.This is where some of the issues show up. The tenon had broken when Jeff was cleaning it up. Fortunately it had not broken off in the shank or the stem so it was a clean repair. I would need to fit a new threaded tenon in the shank and stem. The gouges and nicks in the sides of the saddle are very clear in the next photos.Since the stem was such a mess and would take time to work on I started with it. I sanded the sides and top of the stem and filled in the damaged areas with amber super glue. In the next photos you can see the extent of the damage from the size of the glue repairs. I set the stem aside to dry and went for lunch with my wife and daughters. When I returned the repairs would have cured and I could continue. When I returned I used a needle file to smooth out the repaired areas and flatten out the sides of the saddle. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to further blend in the repaired areas. I fit a new threaded tenon in the stem and set it in place. I sanded the stem more, to smooth things out. In the first photo below there looks like a crack runs along the middle of right side of the saddle. It was not a crack but a flaw in the stem material. There was still a lot of sanding to do before the stem was acceptable. I sanded the stem surfaces until they were smooth and the repairs were unnoticeable. It took quite a bit of sanding to achieve this. 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 each pad to give traction to the next pad and also bring a little life to the Bakelite stem. With the work on the stem complete I set it aside and turned my attention to the issues with the bowl and shank. I decided to address the cracked shank first. I would need to fit a band on the shank. I did not have any brass bands so a nickel one would have to suffice. I used a needle file to work on the shank end to get it ready for the band. I started with the file and finished with the Dremel and sanding drum. Making a band that would fit took some work. I only had round bands so I needed to shape one that would work. I used a small nail hammer and the square edges of the needle file to make the round band rectangular. It was tedious but the finished band is shown in the photo below. I pressed it onto the shank of the pipe. It was still too large and if pressed all the way onto the shank would look awkward. I used the Dremel and sanding drum to cut the height of the band in half. It takes time and care to slowly grind the metal away. I used the topping board to smooth out the sharp edges of the band. I used an all-purpose glue to repair the crack and to anchor the band on the shank. I pressed the band in place on the shank. I took photos of the banded shank to remind myself of what it looked like at this point in the process. I still needed to polish the metal but it was looking better. The bowl still had remnants of the old varnish coat in the angles and on the shank bottom. I wiped it down with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the rest of the finish in preparation for the repairs that I needed to do on the cracks. I topped the bowl to remove the damaged areas on the rim top and to clean up the inner edge damage.I marked the ends of the cracks with a black Sharpie pen and drill the spots with a microdrill bit on my Dremel. I put these pin holes at the end of each crack to stop it from spreading further. I filled in the drill holes with clear super glue and smeared the glue over the cracks themselves. When the repairs dried I sanded them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend into the surface of the briar. I also sanded the inner edge of the rim to minimize the damage there. With the repairs completed it was time to stain the bowl and blend them into the rest of the briar. For me the staining process on this pipe would be done in several steps. I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain, flamed it and repeated the process to ensure an even coverage over the bowl. I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on cotton pads to make the stain more transparent. I sanded the bowl down with 1500-4000 grit micromesh sanding pads to make the grain more transparent and polish it in preparation for the next contrast coat of stain. I wiped it down with alcohol once more and then gave it a coat of Danish Oil Cherry stain for the top coat. I really like the way it brings out the reds in the grain of the briar. I touched up the gold stamping with Rub’n Buff European Gold. I rubbed it on and off leaving it in the light C.P.F. oval logo. It is faint in some places but it is readable. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a microfiber cloth. The photos below show the renewed stamping and the waxed finish on the bowl. I used the Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to clean up the remnant of the cake on the wall that is shown in the above photos. I buffed the pipe bowl and stem independently with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish them both. I worked over the briar around the bowl with the Blue Diamond. I carefully gave the briar several coats of carnauba wax and then Conservator’s Wax in the hard to reach spots. I buffed the waxed briar with a clean buffing pad to a raise a shine. I gently buffed the stem with Blue Diamond so as not to melt it or cause damage. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed bowl and stem with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. I put the stem in the shank and hand buffed it once more. I am quite happy with the finished pipe. It is a beautiful piece of briar and the stem picked up a nice shine that brought it back to life. The damage on the stem is almost invisible now and the amberlike Bakelite looks translucent. The repairs to the cracks in the briar on the side of the bowl and the shank have disappeared into the contrast stain. The nickel band works alright with the finished look of the pipe and takes care of the shank damage. The finished pipe is shown in the photos that follow. Thanks for putting up with my passion for these old C.P.F. pipes from another time. Thanks for looking.

 

Repairing a broken shank and crooked alignment on a Joh’s Churchwarden


Blog by Steve Laug

I received an email a few weeks ago from a fellow in Vancouver named Chris, asking if I would have a look at a cracked shank on his Joh’s churchwarden. He figured that it was not repairable but wanted to know if I would cut back the broken shank and refit the stem. I asked him to send me some photos of the damaged shank so I could see it myself. He sent me two photos of the pipe – one from the left side and the other from the top. The photos showed some extensive damage to the shank. There were cracks on the top, the bottom, the right and the left side of the shank. There was a large chunk of briar missing on the left side of the shank. It also appeared to me that the diameter of the stem was smaller than the diameter of the shank and that the stem sat toward the left side of the shank.Chris brought the pipe by my office for me to have a look at. We sat in my office and he went over the pipe with me. It was a nice looking pipe with two rusticated panels on the left side of the bowl and the rest of the bowl and rim were smooth. The pipe was in good shape other than the broken shank. The rim had some darkening and oils on the back side. The stem was in excellent condition with no tooth marks at all on either side. We made the decision to work on it and see what I could do repairing the damage. I took photos of the pipe when I brought it home from work and put it on the work table.I took close up photos of the cracked and broken shank. You can see the extensive damage and the difference in the diameter of the shank and the stem. I used a microdrill bit on the Dremel and drilled pin holes at the end of each crack to stop the cracks from spreading further.I used a combination of super glue and briar dust applied in layers to build up area where there was a missing chunk of briar in the left side of the shank. I built it up until the missing chunk was replaced with the mixture. It was not pretty but it was better than it was when I started the process.I sanded the repair with a sanding drum on my Dremel. The sanding drum smoothed out the repair on the exterior of the shank. The next series of three photos show the repaired area of the shank. I used a needle file to smooth out the inside of the mortise and to begin to return it to round. I would do more work on that once I had pressure fit a nickel band on the shank. I heated the nickel band with a Bic lighter to expand it and pressed it onto the shank of the pipe until the edge of the band and the edge of the shank end were even.I remembered that I had not filled in the pinholes that I had drilled. I used clear super glue and a tooth pick to put a bead of glue on top of each pin hole. When the glue had dried I sanded the shank repairs smooth with 220 grit sandpaper until they were blended into the surface of the briar.I polished the sanded areas of the briar and the dirty top of the bowl with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped the shank down with a damp cotton pad to remove the dust. I used a medium brown stain pen to touch up the sanded areas around the shank. The medium brown blended perfectly with the existing stain. I polished the bowl and shank with 3200-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads and wiped it down with a damp cotton pad to remove the sanding dust on the surface after each pad. Before I took photos of the polished stummel after using the 12000 grit pad, I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed the pipe on the buffer with a clean buffing pad to give it a shine. The polished pipe is shown in the photos below. I took close up photos of the shank repair and band to show the look of the repaired shank. If you look closely you can see the repaired cracks and the tiny pinholes but the pipe looks very good with the new nickel band and blended stain. I reshaped the mortise with needle files and built up the left side of the tenon with clear super glue to move the stem toward the centre of the shank. Once I had finished the alignment was far better than when I started and the stem looks more centred in the shank. I used a tooth pick and super glue to fill in the gap between the band and the right side of the shank. You can see from the photo that the shank was not round but more oval and slanted to the left. With the band and the repair the shank is round and the mortise end looks far better.I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect it. I used a very light touch on the rusticated portions of the left side of the bowl. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe is well proportioned with the following dimensions Length: 10 inches, Height: 2 inches, Bowl diameter: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos that follow. I think Chris will be happy to see one of his favourite pipes returned to his rotation looking better than when he left it with. Chris if you read this – tell us what you think. Enjoy. Thanks for looking.

Resurrecting a Butz Choquin Commander 1028 Rhodesian


Blog by Steve Laug

This is the third pipe that I a working on for the pipe smoker who stopped by my house last week and dropped off his pipes for repair. This one is a Butz Choquin Rhodesian. It is stamped Butz Choquin over Commander on the left side of the shank and under that it is stamped Filtre Extra. On the right side, the shape number 1028 is stamped. It was another one that had a replacement stem that is a tight fit in the shank. The owner was pretty sure that the replacement stem is what cracked the shank in two places and that certainly could be true. The stem was oxidized and had tooth marks on both sides just in front of the button. The briar is in rough shape. The rim had a coating of lava that overflow from the bowl and had a lot of nicks and dings from where the pipe had been knocked against a hard surface to remove the dottle. The bowl had a thick crumbly cake that was uneven. There were burn marks around the outer edges of the rim. The double ring had been nicked and some of the band around the top of the bowl was broken. The shank had two cracks on it – one on the right side that extended half way along the shank and one on the top left that was about a ¼ inch long. The finish was gone and the stamping had been over buffed somewhere along the way so it was hard to read. I took a close up photo of the rim and bowl to show the damage and overflow onto the rim. The nicks and roughness are visible in the bowl. It appears that the bowl had been over reamed somewhere along the way and there was a gap between the bottom of the bowl and the entrance of the airway into the bowl. The second photo below shows the crack in the shank on the right side. It was quite long and rough to touch.The next photos show the condition of the replacement stem. You can see the oxidation and tooth marks on both sides and on the button top itself.I took some close up photos of the cracked shank. I circled both cracked areas in red. (I apologize for the blurry second photo. I should have checked the pic before I move on but did not. The crack is still visible.)I drilled a small hole with a microdrill bit at the terminus of both cracks to stop the crack from expanding further. (Again they are circle in red in the photos below.)I pressed briar dust into the cracks and put super glue on top of the dust to fill in the crack and the drilled hole. I sanded the fills until they were blended into the shank.I put the band onto the end of the shank and heated it with a heat gun to expand it. Once it was hot, I pressed it down against a board that I use for this purpose. Make sure to hold the shank straight up and down to keep the band moving up the shank evenly.Once the band was in place on the shank and the end was even with the end of the shank I let is cool. As the band cooled, the cracks were held tightly together and from the end of the shank were visible only if you knew where to look. I took photos of the newly banded shank to show the look of the pipe with the band. I lightly topped the bowl on the topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the rim damage and burn marks.I reamed the bowl with the PipeNet reamer and the Savinelli Fitsall Reamer to take the cake back to the bare walls. I sanded the bowl with sandpaper to smooth it out. I scrubbed the rim and airway in the shank and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. There was still work to do but it was getting there. I sanded the oxidation and build up on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove it and the tooth marks. Those that could not be sanded out I filled with black super glue.I cleaned out the grooves around the bowl with a thin blade and wiped it down with alcohol. I sanded the rim cap and the ring to smooth out the damage and give me a clear picture of what I needed to do to repair these areas. The two photos below show the damaged areas.I filled in the missing spots on the ring with super glue and briar dust. I used a sharp knife to clean out the rings from the excess glue and fill. I used a piece of sandpaper to sand the edges on the centre ring. I was able to fill in the majority of the damage though there were still some spots on the ring that showed damage.As I cleaned and sanded the rim cap with micromesh sanding  pads I noticed one more small crack on the left side of the bowl from the edge of the rim down the side of the bowl. It was not all the way through the bowl into the inside of the bowl but it was there. I used a microdrill bit on the Dremel to drill small holes at the end of the top edge and also on the hook of the bottom edge of the crack. I filled in the holes and the crack with super glue and briar dust. I sanded the spots once the glue had dried. I smoothed out the repair to blend it into the rest of the briar.I stained the bowl with dark brown aniline stain and flamed it with a lighter to set it in the grain. I repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage on the briar. The stain blended the repairs on the shank and the bowl with the rest of the briar. They are still visible if you know where to look but really look like small black spots in the briar.I hand buffed the bowl with a microfibre cloth and took the following photos to show the state of things at this point in the process. I am pretty happy with the finish at this point. I opened the slot in the button with needle files – both a flat oval and thicker oval to make it easier to pass a pipe cleaner through to the bowl. Once it was clearly opened I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the file marks in the slot.I turned my attention to the surface of the stem. The oxidation was deep and it took some work to get it out. I worked on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the surface oxidation. It removed much of the oxidation but there was still work to be done. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads. The photo below shows that there was still some oxidation to work on. I buffed it with red Tripoli to further remove the oxidation. I was happy with it once it was buffed. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads. The second photo shows the stem after that buffing. The oxidation was finally conquered. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with the last three grits of micromesh – 6000-12000 grit pads and rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I set it aside to let the oil dry.I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish out the last of the scratches. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax with the wax wheel. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The third pipe is finished for the pipe smoker who dropped them by for me to restore. This one had a few challenges but I think they were met and the pipe looks better than when I began. Thanks for looking.

Banding and Restoring a Radford Ravel Rhodesian


Blog by Steve Laug

I am working on the second pipe I chose to work on in the lot of nine pipes I am restoring for the pipe smoker who dropped by a box of pipes that badly needed attention. This one was stamped Radford Ravel and had a mixed finish of smooth top and sandblasted shank and bottom part of the bowl. It is a Rhodesian and the cap is smooth and the rest is sandblast. It was finished in a dark brown stain. The finish was very dirty and there were quite a few sandpits and nicks in the smooth portion of the bowl cap. The shank was crack on the lower right side and extended from the shank end up the shank about a ¼ inch. The stem was a replacement and had a brass washer on the tenon and glued against the shank. When the new stem was made the maker put a space on the tenon to add colour to the stem. I figure that the new stem is what cracked the shank. When I received the pipe the stem did not fit tightly. There were tooth marks, tooth chatter and a lot of oxidation on the stem. There was also a bead of glue around the washer on the tenon.

There was something about the brand on the pipe that rang a bell for me. I have a tin of their Sunday’s Fantasy Tobacco in my cellar and I wondered if they might have made pipes as well.

I did a bit of digging and found the picture on the left that showed some of the tobaccos made by the company and also a great figurine with the name Thomas Radford mild premium pipe tobacco on the base. On Pipedia I found that Radford’s Private Label Pipes were crafted by Chacom for the Pöschl Tabak GmbH & Co. in Germany. This information was from “Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks”, by José Manuel Lopes. The pipes were mass produced with ebonite and acrylic stems and were introduced by Butz-Choquin, Chacom, and Nording. On the stem there is generally an embossed logo that was a stylized R. The pipes were made to use 9mm filters and are moderately priced and very attractive. The following three links were the sources I used for this information.

https://pipedia.org/wiki/Radford%27s

http://www.poeschl-tobacco.com/en/products/

http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-r1.html

I also looked on another website and got a little more information on the brand. The Radford’s pipe appears in 6 models in 3 variations 1x time a year in autumn. The so called Radford’s Depot contains a minimum of 1 dozen pipes of the actual running collection. Connected to the depot is a listing of the depot holder in Radford’s News.

This particular brand RADFORD’S SERIE RAVEL was a series of 6 elegant models within Radford’s Collection. They are made from good briar wood, sandblast, black/brown with a polished head’s border in dark-red shade. Very nice rich-in-contrast ring at the shaft’s finish. Mouthpiece from Acryl for 9 mm filter. http://cigar.supersmokers.biz/radfords/

With all of this information I now knew that the pipe was originally made for a 9mm filter. The mortise was drilled deep in the shank to contain the 9mm filter. The replacement stem was a regular push stem without a filter tenon. I took some photos of the pipe before I started working on it. The finish was in really rough shape. You can see the glue and sticky material on the stem near the shank band. I took a photo of the inside of the shank to show the thick tars that had built up on the walls of the shank. The space in the mortise between the end of the tenon and the extra depth for the end of the original filters was filled with tar and oils. It was thick and sticky.I took a close up photo of the bowl to show the thick cake that lined the walls of the tapered bowl. The photo also shows the damage to the front of the bowl where the pipe had been tapped out against a hard surface. The second photo below shows the crack on the right underside of the shank. It appeared to me from the smooth area and the look of the stain that someone had tried to glue the crack and do a repair but it was not done well.The next two photos show the damage to the stem. The calcium build up on the button end of the stem, the oxidation and glue that is globbed on the stem to hold the washer in place on the tenon and the deep tooth marks on both sides near the button show in the photos.I scrubbed down the surface of the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to remove the damaged finish and the grime and oils in the grooves and crevices of the sandblast. I wanted the surface clean so that I could drill a hole to stop the crack before binding it together with glue and a nickel band on the shank. I drilled two pin holes at the end of the shank with a microdrill bit on a Dremel. The first one was slightly short of the end of the crack so I had to drill a second one.I heated the band to make the fit easier on the shank. I painted the shank end with some slow drying super glue and pressed the band in place against the topping board.I scrubbed the bowl with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove that last of the dust. I took pictures of the bowl with the new bling addition. I reamed the bowl with the PipNet reamer to take back the cake to the bare walls of the bowl. I finished the reaming using a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to scrape the inside of the bowl smooth. I rolled some 180 grit sandpaper around the end of my finger and sanded the walls of the bowl smooth.To remove the damage to the top of the bowl and to clean up the rough front edge of the bowl cap I lightly topped it on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper.With the bowl exterior cleaned and the damaged rim top repaired I worked on the inside of the mortise and the airway from the mortise end into the bowl. I used the drill bit that is in the handle of the KleenReem pipe reamer to ream out the airway into the bowl. I turned the bit into the bowl using the knurled end to press it through. I cleaned off the drill bit and used the dental spatula to scrape the walls of the mortise all the way to the end where the airway entered the bowl. The amount of grit and oils that came out with the scraping was phenomenal.I wiped the bowl cap down with alcohol and filled in the sandpits around the outer walls of the cap with clear super glue.I cleaned out the shank and mortise once again with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners until I had removed all of the loose debris left in the shank.I sanded the repaired patches on the cap with 220 grit sandpaper until the repairs were blended into the surface of the briar. I used a black Sharpie Pen to darken the spots and then wiped the bowl and cap down with alcohol to blend in the black. I scraped the area around the washer and the tenon with a sharp knife and funneled the end of the tenon to facilitate better airflow in the stem. I cleaned out the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners, alcohol and cotton swabs.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the stem surface and wiped the tooth marks down with alcohol. I filled in the tooth marks with black super glue and set the stem aside to let the glue cure.I stuffed a cotton ball into the bowl and rolled a cotton pad into the shank. I set the pipe in an ice cube tray and used an ear syringe to fill the bowl with alcohol and let it sit during the day. I left it sitting all day while I worked on the slot in the stem. At the end of the day the cotton had yellowed the cotton and the alcohol had pulled out tar and oil from the bowl walls.I used needle files to open up the slot in the button. I used a flat, flattened oval and regular oval file to open the slot. I folded a piece of sandpaper and sanded out the inside of the newly opened slot. After sanding it the slot was open enough to easily take a pipe cleaner. By this time the alcohol/cotton ball soak in the bowl was finished. I pulled the cotton balls out of the bowl and the pad out of the shank and threw them away. I cleaned out the shank and airway once again with cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. Once it was clean I stained the bowl with dark brown aniline stain cut 50/50 with alcohol. I flamed the stain to set it in the grain. I repeated the process until the coverage was what I was looking for.I rubbed bowl down with olive oil on a cloth and hand buffed the bowl with a rough cotton cloth. I took some photos of the new look of this old Radford Ravel pipe. The bowl is starting to look really good and shows some promise. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratches and raise a shine on the vulcanite. I removed the brass washer on the stem and polished it with sandpaper. I reglued it onto the tenon with super glue. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit pads and rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. There were still scratches and also some oxidation. I repeated the sanding with those pads and then moved on to dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed it down with the oil after each set of three pads. After the final pad I gave it a final coat of the oil and set it aside to dry. I buffed the stem with Red Tripoli to try to remove the remaining oxidation and then buffed the entire pipe and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I polished the metal band with a jeweler’s polishing cloth. I gave the stem and bowl multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine on the briar. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It has come a long way from the way it looked when I received it to work on. I really like the looks and the shape of the pipe. I have now finished two of pipes that the pipe smoker dropped off for me to restore before he left on holiday. I look forward to seeing what he thinks of his pipes.