Tag Archives: Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer

Restoring a pair of Comoy’s Blue Riband Billiards


Blog by Steve Laug

Not long ago I received a package in the mail from a reader of the blog, Scott in California, US containing two Comoy’s Blue Riband Billiards. There was a note in the box regarding what he wanted done with the pipes. He wrote:

…As you can see both stems do not seat all the way in the shank of the pipes. The pipe in two separate wrappings is in a little better shape than the other one. Both need the stems refinished, bowls reamed and cleaned, etc. Would like to keep the original patina on the outside wood if possible. Thanks again for your help and let me know if you have any questions.

After opening the wrappings in the well packed box I found the two pipes. I took pictures of both pipes to capture their condition when they arrived. The first set of photos show the one that he said was “in a little better shape”. The finish still had a shine on the bowl and shank. The rim top was in decent condition. There was a light cake in the bowl and some light lava on the rim. The stem did not seat in the shank completely and when I looked the shank was very dirty and caked with tars. The stem was oxidized and had tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem to give a clearer picture of the condition of the pipe.I took photos of both sides of the shank to show the stamping on the pipe. The left side read COMOY’S over BLUE RIBAND with the three part C in the left side of the stem. The right side had the circular COM stamp and read MADE IN LONDON over ENGLAND followed by the shape number 291. You can see the stunning Blue Riband grain on the photos above and below. It is a beautiful pipe.The next set of photos show the second Blue Riband which was far more worn and dirty. The finish dirty and did not have the glow of the other pipe. The rim top had darkening all around the inner edge and there were some dents and marks in the top surface. The cake in the bowl on this one was thick and rock hard, narrowing about midbowl. There was some light lava on the rim. The stem did not seat in the shank completely and when I looked the shank was very dirty and caked with tars. The stem was not as oxidized as the other pipe and had tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. There was some calcification on the surface around the button. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem to give a clearer picture of the condition of the pipe.I took photos of both sides of the shank to show the stamping on the pipe. The left side read COMOY’S over BLUE RIBAND with the three part C in the left side of the stem. The right side is a bit harder to read as the stamping is worn but it also had the circular COM stamp and read MADE IN LONDON over ENGLAND followed by the shape number 97. It is a bit smaller sized than the previous pipe but also has stunning Blue Riband grain. It is also a beautiful pipe underneath all of the grime.I reamed both bowls with a PipNet pipe reamer working through the cutting heads to take the cake back to the bare briar so I could check for damage to the interior walls of the pipe. I cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and finished with a piece of dowel wrapped in 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the walls. The first pipe was definitely cleaner than the second. The cake came out easily. The second pipe had a cake that was rock hard and I had to switch between the smallest cutting head on the PipNet and the Fitsall Knife to break through the cake. I worked my way alternating between the two until the bowl was reamed and then sanded it smooth. I scraped the mortise walls of both pipes with a pen knife to remove the buildup of hardened tars and oils. I cleaned out the mortise and the airway into the bowls as well as the airway in the stems of both pipes with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. Unfortunately I forgot to take photos of the second pipe at this point… Arghh this is why I generally do one pipe at a time…. But I can tell you that the second pipe was far dirtier than the first.I took a photo of both pipes together at this point to show the clean bowls and the condition of the rim tops.I removed the stems from both of the pipes and put them in a bath of Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer. I let them sit while I turned my attention to the two bowls.I worked on the rim top of the second pipe (shape 97) with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I was able to remove the damaged areas and leave the rim top clean. There was still darkening around the inner edge but I have chosen to leave that for now. I worked Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar of both bowls with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the wood. I let the balm sit for about 20 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth. I took photos of both at this point in the process. The first set of four photos show the more damaged bowl (shape 97) and the second set of four photos show the bowl that was in better condition (shape 291) when I started. Both bowls are looking quite good at this point. The stems had been sitting in the Before & After Deoxidizer overnight by the time I removed them from the bath. I rinsed them under running water and ran pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol through the airway to remove the solution from the airway. I took photos of the stems at this point.I decided to polish the top stem in the photos. It was the stem for the newer (shape 291) pipe. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil between each pad. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside. With that stem completed I turned to the second stem (shape 97), the older, dirtier pipe. I used a needle file to sharpen the edge of the button on both sides of the stem. I cleaned up the file marks with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove the file marks and smooth out the edge.I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil between each pad. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside. I polished the bowls and stems with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and rubber. I gave the bowls and the stems multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipes with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed them with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. Both pipes polished up pretty nicely. The original patina on both bowls came alive with the buffing and worked well with the polished black vulcanite stems. Both pipes have a rich look. The finished pipes are shown in the photos below. The first pipe is the one that was in “better condition” when it arrived. I think it is a bit newer than the second one. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem speak well of the Blue Riband brand. The dimensions of the first pipe, shape 291 are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. The dimensions of the second pipe, shape 97 (the older one) are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This pair will soon head back to California so that Scott can enjoy them.  Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this beautiful pair of Comoy’s Blue Riband pipes… now I need to find some for myself!    

 

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Cleaning and restoring a Ropp Cherrywood De Luxe 805


Blog by Steve Laug

Not long ago I got an email from Mark, who had been reading the rebornpipes blog. He said that he had seven pipes that had belonged to his uncle that he was wondering if I would be interested in restoring. He said that the pipe were in good condition in terms of the bowls (though in looking at them they were in need of a good cleaning). The finishes were in decent shape – just dirty. He said that the stems all had issues and he was right with that. Some were worn with tooth marks on the stem on both the top and underside at the button. Some had been chewed off. All were oxidized to varying degrees. He sent me the following photos of the pipes for me to have a look at and we talked back and forth via email. About a week ago or so they arrived here in Canada. He had done an amazing job packing the lot. Each one was packaged in its own baggy with the stem separated for shipping. They were nicely wrapped in bubble wrap and boxed with the return mailing address inside! Very nicely done package. I opened the box and unpacked each pipe. I went over them carefully to assess what was needed in terms of repair. I chose to work on the Cherrywood pipe at the top of the first photo and on the far left of the second photo. It is a nice looking Cherrywood pipe with panels. The high points on the bowl all had bark on them with stripes without the bark. The shank also had bark on it. The bowl had a light cake in it. The rim top had a thick overflow of lava on it that had overflow from the bowl. There were also some light nicks in the rim top. The underside of the bowl was dirty but it was stamped ROPP over De Luxe over Made in France. Underneath that what the shape number 805. The stem had tooth marks and tooth chatter on the top side of the stem with some deep marks on the underside. The stem surface was oxidized. It had the ROPP oval on the left side of the stem. I took the following photos before I started to clean up the pipe. I took a close up of the rim top to show the lava build up and the cake in the bowl. It appeared that the bowl had been reamed before I received it but there were some remnants of the cake in the bowl. I took some close up photos of the stem to show the condition of both sides.I chose four of the pipes to work on first and put the stems in the Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer. I pushed them under the solution and left them to soak overnight.While the stems were all soaking I turned my attention to the bowl. I scrubbed the surface of the Cherrywood with Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean off the dust and grime that sat on the surface. There were also some paint flecks that needed to be addressed as well. I scrubbed the surface with a tooth brush and rinsed it off with running water. I dried the bowl and shank off with a soft cotton towel to make sure I did not damage the bark. I took photos of the cleaned Cherrywood bowl. It actually looked really good. The rim top still needed work but it looked better. I cleaned up the inside of the bowl to remove the remaining bits of cake on the walls and the bottom of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to sand off the remaining thick lava on the rim top and the damaged areas as well. I worked on it to smooth out the surface and then polished it with 1500-4000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I cleaned up the inner edge of the rim with a folded piece of sandpaper and removed the damaged areas there as well.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the Cherrywood and the bark with my finger tips to deep clean the finish, enliven and protect the wood. I let it sit for a few minutes and then buffed it with a cotton cloth. The wood came alive and really had begun to show through at this point and there was a rich shine to the bark as well. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I set the bowl aside and called it a night. The bowl was ready other than touching up the cleaning of the shank. In the morning. In the morning I removed the stem from the Before & After Stem Deoxidizer and wiped it off with a paper towel to remove the remaining oxidation and bath. I cleaned out the airway with pipe cleaners and alcohol until it was clean. I cleaned out the shank with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs at the same time  to remove any debris that remained inside. The stamping on the stem looked good. The stem was clean and black with the scratching, tooth marks and an odd red tint in the vulcanite visible on the left side. It was ready for repairs to the tooth marks and polishing. I lightly sanded the stem to remove the scratching and tooth chatter. I heated the stem with a Bic lighter to lift some of the tooth marks. Once that was done I built up the edge of the button on the underside and filled in the two remaining tooth marks on the underside of the stem with clear super glue. Once the repair had dried I sanded the repaired areas with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the stem. I sanded the rest of the stem as well working on getting rid of the red tint on the left side. I worked over the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I polished out the sanding scratches and marks in the vulcanite – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each one. When I finished with the 12000 grit pad I gave it a final coat of oil and let it dry. Once it had dried, I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish Fine and Extra Fine. I rubbed it down with final coat Obsidian Oil and took the following picture. I put the stem back on the bowl and took the pipe to the buffing wheel to work it over. I carefully buffed the bowl and shank with Blue Diamond. I did not want to damage the bark on the bowl or shank so I used a very light touch. I worked on the stem with Blue Diamond to polish it. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed it with a shoe brush. I gave the stem multiple coats carnauba wax. I buffed the entire 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. The bark now has a rich glow to it and the peeled areas of the Cherrywood bowl look rich as well. The shank looks good. The hard rubber/vulcanite stem came out quite nice with a shine to the ROPP oval on the left side. The pipe came out really well. Now I have six more of the uncle’s pipes to finish up and then I will pack these back in their well packed box and send them back to the US to carry on life for the nephew of the pipe man who left them to him. Thanks for looking.

 

 

The Resurrection of a Bari Special Handcut 848 Pinched Stem


Blog by Steve Laug

For the past month or more I have been carrying on an online conversation with a Colonel in the Indian Military about his own pipe refurbishing and repair work. In the process of talking through a variety of the processes of pipe restoration he asked if I would be willing to work on a few of his pipes that had chipped or broken stems. We decided to look into what it would take to ship them to Canada from India. It seemed like a pretty daunting task but nonetheless he has some pipes in transit to me in Vancouver. In the meantime he wrote and said he had picked up a Bari and a Savinelli Alligator pipe and had the Ebay seller send them directly to me in Canada so I could refurbish them for him and add them to the box of other pipes I would be sending back to him. I agreed and this week the pipes arrived.

The first one that I decided to work on was a Bari Special Handmade, a really delicate and interesting looking pipe. The bowl has a pretty thick cake but otherwise looks sound. The finish and the rim are very dirty with dust and grime from years of use and then sitting unused. The finish is an interesting wire rustication that follows the angles of the bowl and looks good under the grime. The interior of the mortise and shank are very dirty and the stem does not fit the shank well – very tight because of the tars. In fact it will not seat all the way in the mortise at this point. The style of the stem is one I have seen on Bari pipes before – a pinched stem is how it has been described. You can see why when looking at it from the top or bottom view. The stem is very oxidized and also has some deep tooth marks on both sides of the stem at the button. It is a very delicate stem. There is something about the pipe that assures me that it will look very good when it is finished. I took photos of the pipe to record the condition it was in when it arrived here in Vancouver. It gives me a benchmark to measure the finished pipe against as well. I took a close up photo of the rim top and bowl. The bowl had a thick cake in it all the way down to the heel. It was thick enough that I could not get my little finger into the bowl. It is a narrow conical bowl anyway but the cake is very thick and hard. The rim top has some lava overflow but it is not too bad. The stamping on the underside of the pipe is quite readable through the grime. It reads Bari over Special over Handcut. Next to the shank/stem junction the shape number 848 is also readable. Both are stamped in a smooth unrusticated band on the underside of the shank.I took photos of the stem condition as well. You can see why it is called a pinched stem from the photos. It is oxidized and very delicate. The tooth marks on both sides are visible in the photos below. You can see the ones on the underside as they are worse. There is a number 10 stamped on the underside of the saddle portion of the stem. My guess is that it is a replacement stem number should one be required by a repairman back when the pipe was made.I dropped the badly oxidized stem in a bath of Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer to soak away the oxidation. In this case the oxidation was quite thick and the stem was delicate so I did not want to do a lot of sanding so the deoxidizer could do its work. I put the lid on the airtight container and left the stem to soak overnight.I turned my attention to the bowl and the cleanup that was awaiting me there. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer using the smallest cutting head to work away the heavy cake. I worked at it very slowly so as to keep the blade from ruining the roundness of the bowl and to keep from splitting or damaging the delicate bowl. I finished up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife taking the cake back to bare briar and smoothing things out. I used a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper to work on the inner edge of the rim and smooth out that edge of the bowl and down into the bowl about an inch. With the bowl reamed it was time to clean out the internals of the bowl and shank. I used 99% isopropyl alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners to remove the accumulated tars and grime in the shank and airway. I folded the used pipe cleaners and swabbed out the walls of the bowl with them. I scraped out the walls of the mortise using a small pen knife blade to remove the buildup on the walls that kept the stem from seating.I wiped the exterior of the bowl with a damp cloth and then scrubbed it with the Before & After Restoration Balm. I wanted to see how well it would work with the wire rustication pattern and the dirty condition of the finish on this pipe. I worked it into the grooves of the rustication with my fingers, rubbing it deep into the grooves. I used a shoe brush to further work it into the finish. I wiped it off with a clean cloth and buffed it on the buffing wheel with Blue Diamond using a light touch. The photos below show the bowl after the complete treatment I described. It is looking really good at this point. Once the stem is done I will buff it a bit more and give it several coats of wax but for now it is finished and I am calling it a night. I took the stem out of the bath of Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and wiped it down with a paper towel to remove the excess deoxidizer. I ran pipe cleaners and alcohol through the airway to clean out the buildup inside. The stem was very clean and the oxidation was gone. The tooth marks in the surface of the stem on both sides near the button were visible.I painted the tooth marks with a Bic Lighter flame to lift the vulcanite. One of the beauties of vulcanite is its “memory”. When heated the dents will come back to the surface. In this case the tooth dents on the top of the stem came up almost even. The ones on the underside were greatly reduced but still present (first two photos below). I sanded out the tooth marks and was able to blend the majority into the surface of the stem (third and fourth photo below). Those that remained I filled in with clear super glue (fifth and sixth photo) and after the repairs dried sanded them smooth to blend (seventh and eighth photo). The photos below tell the story. I worked over the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I polished out the sanding scratches and marks in the vulcanite – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each one. When I finished with the 12000 grit pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and took the pipe to the buffing wheel to work it over. I gently buffed the rusticated bowl with Blue Diamond to polish the briar. I buffed the stem at the same time to raise the gloss on the vulcanite carefully working on the delicate stem. It would be very easy to break it at the pinched area. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem several coats carnauba wax. I buffed the entire 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. I am hoping that the fellow I am restoring it for enjoys this beauty. For now he will have to enjoy it by looking at the photos but soon it will wing its way back to India. Thanks for looking.

 

 

 

A Review – Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and Fine and Extra Fine Polishes


Blog by Steve Laug

Before I write a review of a product I commit myself to use it for at least a month on a variety of pipes that have the issues that it was designed to address. I figure that during this time I will either have good reason to reject it as not helpful or to be sold on it enough to add it to my normal pipe cleaning and restoration routine. I clean and refurbish quite a few pipes each month so a product that says it will do such and such a job better deliver or it goes into the waste can. I don’t have time for products that do what I already can do at least as well with what I have.

So committed to giving the product a solid trial, I purchased a small bottle of the Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and a jar of each of the Polishes. I have to admit up front, that I purchased this product with low expectations. I fully expected it to fit the “I already have products that work this well” category or that it would not deliver at all. I have tried a lot of stem polishes and deoxidizers over the years and they sit in the drawer wasting away with neglect. I was dubious from the start with this one, but I was committed to varying my routine and trying it out.

I begin the review with a little background information on the product, the cost and a few added instructions. I include the latter category because I missed it the first time around and it almost caused me to miss out on using a product that works well.

Background

I became acquainted with the Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and Polishes from posts on Facebook. For several months, I followed the work of Mark Hoover on the Gentlemen’s Pipe Smoking Society group on Facebook. He posted some of the most oxidized stems and then posted what they looked like after he used a product that he developed originally for working on pens. I kept reading and looking and just did not bite. I have used many different people’s concoctions for removing oxidation from stems and really none of them actually did it any better than a lot of elbow grease and time. But there was something about the work he posted that caught my eye and kept me looking. I think the thing that hooked me was that he did a stem and his product cleaned up the stem and left the logo stamp intact. It did no harm the paint in the stamp and it did not need any protection on the stamp before the product was used.

Product and Cost

I wrote Mark using Facebook Messenger and asked him about the product and its availability in Canada. He wrote back almost immediately and said that he had shipped quite a few bottles to Canada and had no difficulties with it. He had some available in two different sizes – 8 ounces and 16 ounces. He said that each bottle had slightly more than the label said as he overfilled them. He said that each bottle would do quite a few stems depending on the level of oxidation. He figures that an 8 ounce bottle will do at least 15-20 stems heavily oxidized stems. The less oxidation on the stems the greater the number of stems that can be done.

The cost of the product was $20 USD for an 8 ounce bottle and $40 USD for a 16 ounce bottle. He also sold a Fine and an Extra Fine Pipe Stem Polish. The price of each jar of the polish was $12 USD. He said that a jar of polish can take care of between 40 and 50 stems. He said that it was available on his pen website, http://www.lbepen.com/ and that there were instructions for using it on the home page of the pen site. The product is label as Hard Rubber Deoxidizer on the site but it is the same thing. We wrote a few messages back and forth and we struck a deal. I quickly made a payment via PayPal and the product was on its way to Vancouver.

Added Instructions

Once I made the order Mark wrote and suggested I pick up a few items to have on hand when the product arrived.

1. Mineral oil, as it is what he used to clean the stem after using the product. He also added that I not use water as it is not good for rubber (that is already a given for me). He used medical grade mineral oil as all the impurities have been removed.

2. Old T-shirts to use as rags for cleaning the stems.

3. An airtight container for the product as it will dry out if left open. Use the product as it is when it arrives, just pour it into the container.

He added some additional notes that I also found helpful.

1. The product is reusable and can be left in the airtight container. He did say that eventually the product will not work as well of course and should be replaced.

2. He suggested that I could soak around 10-15 at a time as it will save on the product that I need to use.

3. If the stems are very oxidized put them in for about 45 minutes, pull them out and rub them down then put them back in.

4. For very minor oxidation they might only need to soak for 15 minutes.

Learning to use the Deoxidizer – or before using, read the directions.

I received the package from Mark quite quickly considering it had to cross the Canadian/US border and clear customs. When it arrived, I tried using it by painting it onto lightly oxidized stems and found that it made no significant difference to my work load. Using it the way I was merely added one more step to my process of dealing with oxidation. I used this method for almost a month. I applied the deoxidizer to the stems with a cotton pad and scrubbed the stems repeatedly trying to remove the oxidation. I was less than impressed with the product at this point and laid it aside for a month. It sat on the corner of my work table irritating me for the month.After a month of misfires due to my lack of reading the instructions, I was ready to pitch the product in the can and call it a bust. It just was not delivering what I saw in Mark’s posts. Even on the lightly oxidized stems, it did not deliver. However, because I had spent the money and had the product in hand I decided to contact Mark. I am after a cheap skate and I had spent money on this stuff. I wrote and asked him some follow-up questions regarding how he used the product. I figured that I had nothing to lose.

Mark was gracious and highlighted what he had written to me before. He reminded me that the instructions were on his website. I ashamedly acknowledged that I had not read the instructions – something my wife and daughters will tell you is a common malady of mine. I immediately went back and reread his instructions. I printed a copy off his website so I had a hard copy. I found an airtight container and poured the Deoxidizer solution into it. I read that Mark said to maximize the solution by putting in multiple stems at a time to soak. I thought I would push it and put in a whopping five stems. 😉

I followed the instructions religiously this time so as not to repeat the earlier fiasco. He said to leave them in the solution for 45 minutes so I did just that. After 45 minutes, I removed them from the bath. I wiped them down with an old cloth and ran pipe cleaners through the airway to clean them. I had no mineral oil so I used some 99% isopropyl alcohol and it worked really well to remove the sticky solution from the stem. I rubbed the stem quite vigorously to remove the solution from the surface and found that it did a great job of removing the oxidation. The lighter the oxidation the more quickly it came off and left the stem clean of oxidation.

I did a bit of experimenting with the product, took five of my more heavily oxidized stems, and left them in the container of solution overnight. I come from the school of “if one pill is enough then more is better, right”. In the morning, I did not quite know what to expect. I opened the air tight container and peered inside. I was not sure if I would see my stems dissolved into blobs of rubber or worse yet still horribly oxidized. I fished them out of bath and was surprised at how black they looked and at how brown the solution in the container was. I rubbed them down with a cloth and if you were there, you would have heard my exclamation of surprise. The oxidation was gone and the stems were black. They were a little dull but they were black. The ugly oxidation was gone. Even more interesting was that several of them had embossed logo stamping on the stem side. The product did not damage the stamping at all and when I wiped the stems down the embossed stamp remained unscathed.

Okay, at this point I was beginning to get the picture. I could have saved a lot of frustration if I had read Mark’s instructions. This product worked like a champ. It removed the oxidation with little effort on my part other than wiping down the stems and rubbing them dry. I cleaned them before I put them in the solution as part of my routine. After discovering that the product worked that well I started putting in 5-7 stems at a time. At this point I have soaked close to 30 stems in the solution. It is beginning to turn brown but it still works very well. I intend to push it to the limit and see exactly how many stems I can run through the solution before it begins to fail.

After putting the Deoxidizer through a workout for the past two months I am pleased with the product. I recommend the product with no reservations. It works better than any of the other products I have used. It is non-toxic and does not damage the stamping or logos on the stems. It has saved me quite a bit of time and while the stems soak, I can restore the bowls. It is worth the investment I made in it. I intend on ordering a larger jar of the Deoxidizer so I have it on hand when the current batch fails.

 Before & After Pipe Polish – Fine and Extra FineI ordered a jar of the Fine and Extra Fine Pipe Polish at the same time I ordered the Deoxidizer. I decided to use them as Mark intended them to be used. On his website he describes the polishes. I begin this review of the polishes with his own description (on the website he speaks of using the polish on pens but the same polish is used for stems as they were designed for use on rubber).

Though these polishes are specifically designed for hard rubber and celluloid they do work well on other types of pen plastics. All of our polishes are made using the highest quality products.  These products are designed to not only recondition your pen but also to provide a layer of protection. All of the products used in these polishes are non-toxic and environmentally friendly.  There are two different polishes. Fine and Extra Fine. We recommend both as some pens will show more wear then others. Often one will work on a pen using the Fine polish and finish with the Extra Fine. The polishes are be sold in 2 ounce jars. The cost is 12.00 per jar. The number of pens one can restore will of course vary depending on the wear that each pen shows. I have restored from 75-150 pens per jar.

I have been using the polishes to polish the stems that come out of the Deoxidizer bath. They work very well and because they are not heavily gritty they do not scratch vulcanite or acrylic stems. They also dissolve quite quickly leaving a light oil on the surface of the stem which can be rubbed in with a cotton pad or cloth. I use the Fine Polish first and apply it to the stem with a finger and then scrub the stem with a cotton pad to polish it. I wiped it down and remove the oil on the surface. I use the Extra Fine Polish next and repeat the process.

I have found that the two polishes each remove residual oxidation from the stem that the Deoxidizer leaves behind. Often this oxidation cannot even be seen with casual observation. It shows up when I look at the cotton pads I am using. The pads always come out with the residue of the dark, grey-black polish and a lot of brown oxidation around the edges. The polish goes a lot further than the Deoxidizer. As Mark said on his website regarding pens, I can affirm regarding stems. I have used the product on over 60 stems so far and I have a lot of polishing compound left in each jar.

Mark also has a Hard Rubber Balm that I have not tried. I think it will be in my next order to get a feel for how that product works on the pipe stems. Over all I am very pleased with Mark’s products – the Deoxidizer and the Fine and Extra Fine Polishes. They deliver what he promised they would deliver and in doing so have made my work on stems a lot easier. They are a significant contribution to the pipe refurbishing tool box. You should really try some out and see for yourself. Thanks Mark.

His website is www.lbepen.com and the product can be ordered from the site or you can send him a message on Facebook to Mark Hoover.

Restoring an Unusual Malaga Carved Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

In the late spring I received and email from Josh (misterzippo), a reader of the blog that he had some pipes that he thought I might be interested in. He sent me photos of the pipes so I could have a look at them. One of the pipes that interested me was a Malaga Bulldog with a twist in the carving and a scoop in the top of the bowl. The first picture he sent shows the overall condition and appearance of the pipe. The shape intrigued me – the diamond shank and stem with twists carved in the bowl, shank and down the stem as well. The pipe was dirty with the finish having thick sticky build up around the bowl and shank in all of the carved areas. The groove around the cap of the bowl was very dirty. The stem had oxidation and some heavy calcification. All of that was visible in the first picture. The tape measure in the photo shows that the pipe is about 5 ½ inches long with a saddle stem.That first picture set the hook for me, but it did not prepare me for what the next photos would reveal. The briar had white paint flecks all over the bowl sides. Under the dirt and sticky grime there appeared to be some nice grain on the pipe. There was a large burn mark on rear left side of the cap where it looked like the pipe had been set in an ashtray and a cigarette had burned a spot. There were also some burn marks along the outer edge of the bowl on the front and the rear.The cake in the bowl was incredibly thick and it was hard as a rock. The cake had overflowed the bowl onto the rim leaving behind a thick hard lava coat. Looking at the bowl I have no idea how the previous owner had ever been able to smoke it in this condition – maybe he smoked it until it hit this spot and then laid it aside. Looking to the bowl is like looking down into a dirty chimney that needed the attention of a chimney sweep.The stamping on the left side of the shank read “MALAGA” and looked like it had either a burn mark on the MAL or possibly just a lot of tarry build up. Only having in hand would I be able to really know what I was dealing with.

We struck a deal and I picked up a few of Josh’s pipes to work on. I was really intrigued with the shape of that little Malaga as I have worked on a few of them over the years but never one with this kind of shape. Here is a link to a blog I wrote on a beautiful little Malaga Lovat (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/02/27/a-beautiful-malaga-lovat-came-my-way/).

George Khoubesser (picture to the left) started Malaga Briar Pipe Company and located it in Royal Oak, Michigan in the USA in 1939. It closed its doors for the last time in 1999 after 60 years in business. I have an old Malaga Catalogue that I scanned and put on the blog (https://rebornpipes.com/2013/02/09/george-khoubesser-and-malaga-pipes/). The catalogue describes the manufacture of the pipes as follows:

Painstaking caution is exercised in selecting flawless, perfect briar wood for the purpose of making and Curing of the “Malaga.” You can be certain of this fact, because none other than the choicest and finest select briarwood will withstand the “Malaga” Curing process. Other than the choicest quality and grain, will split wide open in the Curing vats… The Curing method renders all “Malaga” pipes, light in weight… Most all “Malaga” Senior pipes are left in their natural state; except for a skillful waxing which brings out the rich beauty of the virgin grain. No artificial polishing stain, shellac or varnishes are added.

Malaga closed in 1999 after 60 years in business.

I had Josh ship it to my brother Jeff. I figured he would have a good time cleaning it up. I could not wait to hear what he thought of it. When it came he showed it to me over Facetime. The condition was dirty for sure – exactly like the photos Josh sent me. But it was in decent shape so it would be a fun one to bring it back to life. The finish was dirty and had some stickiness to the sides of the bowl and shank. The stem fit far better than the photos showed. The bowl indeed was as thickly caked as the photos Josh sent had shown but it was softer than I expected. The lava on the rim was thick but it was flaky so it would come off easier than I thought. The stamping on it read “MALAGA” on the left side of the shank as noted above but it also was stamped Imported Briar on the right side of the shank. Jeff took the follow photos of the pipe before he worked his magic doing the cleanup.The close up photos Jeff took of the rim top and bowl show just how thick and dirty this pipe was when he received it in Idaho. Looking at it I am glad that he did the cleanup work because it looked like a bear to work on.The next photos show the grain poking through the grimy finish on the sides of the bowl. It really was hard to see what was grime and what might be burn marks on the briar of the bowl and shank.The next photos show the stamping on the top left and right angle of the carved diamond shank of the pipe. You can still read the stamping. You can see the marks on the first letters of Malaga on the shank and it is not clear if it is damage or grime. The stem appeared to be in rough shape. Not only was it heavily oxidized and had thick clacification around the first inch of the stem from the button forward, but the button was worn and had tooth marks in the top and underside. The calcification and the tooth marks on the button made me wonder if the pipe had sported a Softee Bit before coming to me. I was looking forward to what the pipe would look like when Jeff had finished putting it through his cleaning process. He reamed it with a PipNet Reamer and took the cake back to bare briar. He cleaned up the little remnants of cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals of the pipe – the airways in the shank, mortise and stem using alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. He scrubbed the exterior of the briar and stem with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove all of the thick grime. He rinsed it under tap water and dried it off with a towel. He soaked the stem in OxiClean to bring the oxidation to the surface and soften it. The burn marks on the front outer edge of the bowl and the back left inner and outer edge – both moving onto the rim top. There was a burn spot on the left side on the cap where the bowl had been set in an ashtray and burned. I was not sure that I would be able to remove that. When the pipe arrived I was excited to have a look at it. Here is what I saw once it arrived. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the burn damage to that part of the bowl and also of the left side of the bowl. I would need to see what I could do to minimize these marks without changing the profile of the bowl. Jeff had gotten the thick cake cleaned out and the inner edge of the bowl look to be in good shape.The oxidation on the stem was pretty heavy but it was on the surface. The calcification was gone. Underneath where it had been there were tooth marks and chatter that had been hidden.I decided to use the Before & After Pipe Deoxidizer again. I keep it in a flat plastic tray with a cover. I put the stem in the mixture and made sure that the stem was completely covered with the mixture. I put the lid on the tray and set it aside to soak for the day. I purchased the Deoxidizer from a guy on Facebook. His name is Mark Hoover and he is on the Gentlemen’s Pipe Smoking Society Group on Facebook. He has a pen making site where you can email and order the deoxidizer and the polishes (http://www.lbepen.com/). I have to admit I becoming less skeptical than I was at the beginning.I set the tray aside to let it soak for the day and turned my attention to the bowl. I took some photos of the bowl to capture the grain and the interesting shape of the carving. The photos also clearly show the damage to the side of the bowl and the rim top. I sanded the burned areas on the left side of the bowl and the rim top with 220 grit sandpaper. I was careful to sand all the way around the cap and the rim to keep things smooth. I wanted to remove the damaged areas on the edges of the bowl and rim as well as some of the nicks on the rim top. I wiped down the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to remove the grime from the sanding and the debris from around the damaged areas. I was able to remove much of the damage on the rim top and edges. The burn mark on the left side of the cap looked better but I would not be able to remove it much more than I already had. I laid the pipe aside and my daughter Sarah and I decided to go out for lunch. We caught the bus and headed down town to try a new place. We were gone for three hours including lunch and transit. When I returned I took the stem out of the Deoxidizer and wiped off the excess mixture. I dried off the stem with a clean rag. I took the following photos to show how well the soak had worked to remove the oxidation.I took some photos of the tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem near the button.I sanded the surface of both sides of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth marks and reshape the button.The stem was loose in the mortise so I heated and awl with a Bic lighter and inserted it in the airway in the tenon. This caused the tenon to expand and correct the looseness in the shank.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiping the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded the stem with 3200-12000 grit pads and repeated the rub down with oil. After the final coat of oil following the 12000 grit pad I set the stem aside to dry. I then polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cotton pad. I dry sanded the briar with 3200-12000 grit pads and wiped it down after each pad with a damp cotton pad. The dark spot of the burn mark really bugged me. I have been hunting for ways to minimize it without doing damage to the integrity of the briar. I googled and found a recipe that was supposed to remove burn marks or heat marks. I thought I would try it and see what happened. Here is the recipe.

Mix a generic baking soda and a non-gel variety of toothpaste in a small bowl until it is a sticky paste. Put the paste over the heat mark and give it a few minutes to set. After about five minutes, the heat mark should wipe away with a clean rag. Be sure to wipe away any remaining residue from the paste as well.

I took photos of bowl with the mixture on the burn marks. I applied the paste with my finger and rubbed it into the burned areas. I repeated the treatment twice this morning. It worked to some degree as shown in the photos below. It definitely removed the lighter burn marks on the rim top and took out a small spot on the front of the cap. It also lightened the burn mark on the front outer edge of the rim and the large mark on the left side. On advice from Mark Domingues I also tried to spot dab the darkest part of the burn with bleach, being careful to not get it on the rest of the surrounding area. It lightened it a little more but did not completely remove it. I think that probably the burn was too deep to actually remove all of it.I wiped the bowl down with a little olive oil on a paper towel and hand buffed it so that the oil would be absorbed. I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad (many people do not do this step but it is critical to get a good shine). I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. Even though the burn mark bugs me it does give the pipe character and reflects on its previous history. I have to always remember that we hold our pipes in trust – we are stewards as Dal Stanton calls it. Our task is to take good care of the pipe while it is in our hands and to leave it in good condition to pass on to the next steward. Thanks for looking.

A Light Restore of a NOS Danish Made Bjarne Handmade 15 Churchwarden


Blog by Steve Laug

Courtesy Doug Valitchka on Pipedia

My brother found this beautifully grained Bjarne Hand Made Churchwarden pipe on EBay listed by a seller in Kentucky. The seller said that the pipe looked as if it was unsmoked. Those of you who buy pipes on EBay have heard that before only to find that you bought a dog of a pipe that was smoked to death. But this one actually looked good and even if it was smoked it was worth a risk.

The pipe is a six sided sitter with the long churchwarden stem. The top is rusticated while the panels are all smooth. The flat bottom of the bowl is also smooth. The shank is almost pencil like, thin and round with a slight taper back to the stem. The grain on the smooth sides was beautiful and a mix of straight and birdseye. The grain on the shank was birdseye and was amazing. The stain colour was perfect for the highlighting the grain. The rim was rusticated with divots but had been smoothed out slightly to give it a soft rusticated look. It was stained black and really contrasted with the smooth grain on the rest of the bowl. It is stamped on the underside of the shank next to the stem/shank junction. It reads Bjarne over Handmade Denmark over 15. The 15 is a shape number.

The finish is in perfect condition – no dents or nicks. The bowl was polished to a shine when my brother received it. The black rim top was in excellent condition. The bowl had a bowl coating that was put in to protect the pipe through the break-in period. It was indeed unsmoked! The seller had been correct contrary to many of my previous experiences on EBay. The stem was oxidized all the way around. It seemed like the right side and underside were less oxidized than the left which led me to conclude that the pipe had been kept on a display board and the light of the display and perhaps a window had led to the oxidation. I could not wait to receive it and clean up the oxidized stem.

I took a trip to Idaho to meet with my brothers and our aging parents to talk through some decisions that we had to make. In the process I loaded a suitcase with the pipes that my brother had purchased for us. This Bjarne was one of those pipes. It came with its own black leather pipe bag with a draw string top. I took the following photos of the pipe displayed on its leather bag to show the condition of the stem when I brought it to my worktable. I took this close up photo of the rustication on the rim top. I really like the look of the way Bjarne did the rustication and gave it an interesting texture.The next photos show the difference in the oxidation on the top and underside of the stem.The Bjarne logo was stamped in white on the left side of the stem and was in perfect condition. There was no wear or tear and it was crisp and legible.I wiped down the bowl with a bit of olive oil on a cotton pad to remove the slight grime on the bowl sides and bottom. I also wiped down the rim top with the oil as well. I let it absorb into the briar and buffed it with a microfiber cloth. While I worked on the bowl I put the stem in the Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer that I have referred to in previous blogs – the one on the Borlum and the Hilson. I purchased the Deoxidizer from a guy on Facebook named Mark Hoover. He is on the Gentlemen’s Pipe Smoking Society Group there. Mark has a pen making site where his Before & After products are available. You can email and order the deoxidizer and the polishes directly from Mark on that site (http://www.lbepen.com/). After the initial two uses of the Deoxidizer I have become less skeptical. I let the stem soak overnight and the product does its work and leaves the stem oxidation free. I forgot to take a photo of the stem in the mixture. The photo below shows the oxidation floating in the container I let the stem soak in.The next morning I dried off the stem with a soft cloth and rubbed the stem clean of the remnants of oxidation that remained on the surface. The cotton pads that I used were dark brown with oxidation and the stem was quite clean. The next photos show the condition of the stem after wiping it down after removing it from the soak.I decided to use Mark’s entire system this time in the cleanup. I used his Before & After Pipe Polishes – both fine and extra fine to polish the vulcanite. I skipped the process of micromesh sanding pads on this stem. The soak did not damage the logo stamp on the side of the stem. It came out of the bath looking clean and fresh.I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish and begin to give it a richer shine. I gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine from the wax. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to complete the polishing. The dimensions of the pipe are length: 11 inches, height: 2 ¼ inches, outer diameter: 2 inches, chamber diameter: ¾ inches. This beautiful pipe will be on the rebornpipes store shortly. If it is something you would like to add to your collection send me an email at slaug@uniserve.com or a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

Restoring an Older KBB Yellow-Bole 2094 Churchwarden with absolutely stunning grain.


Blog by Steve Laug

My most recent box of pipes that came from my brother had this Yello-Bole Churchwarden in it for restoration. It is a long pipe – 12 inches from bowl to button. The next seven photos were the ones provided by the eBay seller. They don’t really show the grain in the pipe or the peeling shellac coat on the bowl but they give a clear picture of the shape and carriage of the pipe. It really is a beauty in terms of overall appearance. It is graceful with a gentle bend to the stem ending in a button that is not flared from the end of the stem but is straight-edged with a small slot in the end. The stem also had the inset yellow circle on the top of the stem.yb1The third and fourth photos provided in the seller’s photos show the damage to the finish and the build up and damage to the rim. You can also see some of the peeling of the finish and the way that it obscures the grain of the briar. The rim is dirty in the photo below and at first glance it looks like the bowl may have been meerschaum lined. I was pretty sure that this was not the case but would know better once it arrived in Vancouver. It appears that the bowl had a light cake but was not in bad shape. It would not take too much to ream the bowl. The stem was lightly oxidized and had tooth chatter on the top and underside near the button.yb2The stamping on the shank is very clear. The shape number on the right side of the shank is 2094 and the brand stamp on the left KBB in a cloverleaf next to Yello-Bole over Honey Cured Briar.yb3My brother scrubbed the externals of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and was able to loosen some of the flaking varnish or shellac. He reamed the light cake back to the yellow bowl coating. He cleaned out the shank and the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol.yb4 yb5The next two close-up photos of the bowl sides shows what the finish looked like once he had done his work. You can see the interesting grain showing through the damaged finish.yb6 yb7I took photos of the pipe when I received it in Vancouver. You can see the condition of the finish in the photos. In the cleaning process oxidation came to the surface of the stem.yb8 yb9The internals of the pipe are interesting. The first photo below shows the yellow bowl coating that still remained in the bowl. This one was certainly lightly smoked to be in this condition. The second photo shows the standard Yello-Bole stinger apparatus that is screwed into the tenon.yb10There was light tooth chatter and tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem but the button was in excellent shape with minimal tooth marks or bites.yb11I removed the remaining varnish/shellac coat with acetone (fingernail polish remover) on cotton pads. It also removed some of the stain and brought the grain to the surface of the bowl. I liked the look of the pipe once the varnish was removed.yb12 yb13The stamping looked even clearer once the top coat had been removed. In the first photo below there is a line under the number that looks like a crack or a fill. It is not but rather it is debris left behind by the cotton pad and acetone wash.yb14I ran pipe cleaners, cottons swabs and alcohol through the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem remove any remaining oils. The red colour on the cotton swabs is actually some of the red stain that was inside of the shank. I was able to remove all of stain from the shank and mortise.yb15I unscrewed the stinger from the tenon and cleaned it with 0000 steel wool. I am not sure whether I will put it in or not. I may do so and let the new owner decided whether to keep it in place or remove it.yb16I lightly sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter and bite marks. I sanded it with 1500-2400 micromesh sanding pads then tried a new product that I picked up from Mark Hoover of La Belle Epoque Vintage & Modern Fountain Pens. I follow Mark on Facebook and have been reading about his restorations and cleanup or estate pipes. He developed a product for pens that deoxidizes and polishes vulcanite. He also uses it on vulcanite stem with great results. I have seen his before and after pictures of pipes that he has restored so I thought I would order some and try it out. The photo below shows what came with the kit.

Mark wrote on his site that the product was specifically designed for hard rubber and celluloid but that it does work well on other types of plastics. He also sells the same product relabeled for pipe stems. The line is called Before and After. He states on the website that “All of our polishes are made using the highest quality products.  These products are designed to not only recondition your pen (or in this case stem) but also to provide a layer of protection. All of the products used in these polishes are none-toxic and environmentally friendly.”

“There are two different polishes.  Fine and Extra Fine.  We recommend both as some pens will show more wear then others.  Often one will work on a pen using the Fine polish and finish with the Extra Fine. The polishes are sold in 2 oz jars.  The cost is 12.00 per jar. The number of pens one can restore will of course vary depending on the wear that each pen shows.  I have restored from 75-150 pens per jar.”

Here is the link to his site with the prices for the product: http://www.lbepen.com/apps/webstore/products/category/1185536?page=1. The product can be ordered onsite. It is shipped in a well wrapped package and I had no issues with it coming across the border through the post office.yb18The Deoxidizer is a thick gel that I rubbed onto the stem with a cotton pad. I let it sit for a short time before rubbing it off with another pad. It removed the oxidation quite nicely. I repeated the process until the stem was once again black. After using the Deoxidizer I polished the stem with the Fine and the Extra Fine Pipe Polish. It quickly shined up the vulcanite. Both of the stem polishes are quite thick and sticky. The fine is grittier than the extra fine. It took some time to rub each of them onto the stem surface and then polish it with a soft cotton pad. The second photo below shows the stem after using the Extra Fine Polish.yb17I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffer and then gave the bowl and stem several coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad and hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I left the stinger out of the tenon for these photos but it is easily screwed into place. The grain shines through beautifully with the oxblood coloured stain. The polished stem is smooth and shiny with a lot less effort than other products I have used. Thanks for looking.yb19 yb20 yb21 yb22 yb23 yb24 yb25 yb26