Tag Archives: Ben Wade Pipes

Rejuvenating a Ben Wade Hand Model London Made Billiard

Blog by Dal Stanton

This Ben Wade came to me a couple of years back when I landed, from the eBay auction block, what I have called the Lot of 66. It continues to yield nice collectable pipes. The finish on this Ben Wade is a rustic looking blasted finish which is eye catching with the detail and bowl shaping. It caught Todd’s eye in the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection and is the last of 3 that he has commissioned. Here are pictures of the Ben Wade Hand Model now on my worktable: I’ve discovered through the reading I’ve done about the name ‘Ben Wade’ that it has an up and down history. The Pipedia article is helpful in simplifying the history in four helpful ‘eras’ which I’ve summarized from the Pipedia:

The Family era (1860 to 1962) – the heydays of the English name when the pipes were stamped Made in Leeds, England.

Charatan / Lane second (1962 to 1988) – When Herman G. Lane purchased the name, the transition from a higher quality pipe during the long Family Era transitioned exclusively to the fabrication of machine-made pipes. Lane moved the production from the Leeds factory (closed in 1965) to Charatan’s Prescott Street factory. Ben Wade became essentially lower quality series pipes produced in standard shapes. The pipes during this period were stamped, “Made in London, England” or dropping the “London” and stamped with “England” alone. After Lane died, in 1978 his heirs sold the Charatan and Ben Wade names to Dunhill, which left the production of Charatan/Ben wade at the Prescott Street factor. In 1988 production came to an end for Ben Wade when the Charatan’s Prescott Street factory closed.

Ben Wade turns Danish (1971-1989) – During this era Preben Holm, from Denmark, was in financial difficulties and Herman Lane and he went into partnership producing the Handmade and fancy pipes. These pipes were marked “Ben Wade Made in Denmark”. These pipes gained great popularity, especially as the were marketed in the US. After Lane’s death, Preben Holm, not the businessman, was in financial difficulties and reduced his workforce and production, but at his death in 1989, production of the Danish Preben Holm pipes came to an end.

Resurrection – (1998 to present) – Duncan Briars bought the Ben Wade name from Dunhill in 1998 and production of Ben Wade pipes restarted at the Walthamstow plant, sharing the same space where Dunhill pipes are produced and reportedly benefiting from the same quality of production. During this present era, the stamping on the pipes is: “Ben Wade, Made in London, England”The reason I went through this summary of Ben Wade’s morphing history is because in nothing I’ve read about Ben Wade (and I’m sure there’s more out there), I found no reference to a Ben Wade Hand Model with the COM, London Made. The stamping on the pipe before me is ‘Ben Wade’ [over] HAND MODEL [over] LONDON MADE. The saddle stem has the Ben Wade stamped on the upper side of the stem saddle. My first glance at the blasted finish made me wonder whether this Ben Wade came out during the ‘mystery’ Resurrection period in the Pipedia article. Here is the full text that made me wonder:

As said before Preben Holm’s death marked the third end of Ben Wade and for long years there were no Ben Wade pipes in the shops anymore. But then, all of a sudden they were back in the USA some years ago! Who made these pipes? A concrete manufacturer was not known at first.

The rumors spreading were considerable. Especially because these Ben Wades – originally all blasted and in deep black color – featured so perfect straight and / or ring-grain that they were almost suspicious in view of the prices. The supposition that “Mother Nature” had been given a leg up by means of rustication combined with subsequent blasting was evident as different sources confirmed.

Steve on rebornpipes refers to pipes as having a ‘blasticated’ finish. The process is blasting a rusticated pipe making it appear naturally blasted but the more perfect lines make it seem better than ‘mother nature’ as the Pipedia described. As I look at this Ben Wade, I wonder if it’s from that time period and the grain looks so good, is it blastication? I sent Steve the picture below and his verdict was not blastication, but a really nice looking blasted finish. Yet, I’m stumped by the COM marking. Here’s a close-up of the stummel, very nice natural 3-D blasted grain and not blastication. I sent out pictures of some pictures and the nomenclature to various pipe Facebook groups and the responses I did get, though they were anecdotal, pointed to an earlier period. Paul, from Pipe Smoker of America FB Group, said that he believed it was a Pre-78 and made in Charatan factory. He also said that these were some of his best smokers are London BWs. It sounds good to me!

As I look at the condition of this Ben Wade, the surface needs cleaning to see what the finish will do. The finish is dark and tired as I look at it. The chamber shows light cake buildup and the rim is darkened with some lava flow. The stem will need to be cleaned of the oxidation and the button is chewed some with bite compressions on both the upper and lower bit.

With a better knowledge of the Ben Wade Hand Model Billiard on my worktable, I begin by cleaning the stem airway with pipe cleaners wetted with alcohol and then add it to a bath of Before & After Deoxidizer along with other pipes and stems in the queue. After several hours, I fish out the Ben Wade’s stem and wipe it down with cotton pads wet with alcohol to remove the raised oxidation. The Deoxidizer did a great job.To begin to rejuvenate the stem, I apply a coat of paraffin oil (a mineral oil) to the vulcanite and then put it aside.Next, I go to work on the chamber using the Pipnet Reaming Kit. After putting paper towel down, I ream using 3 of the 4 blade heads available. I follow by fine-tuning with the Savinelli Fitsall tool and finish by sanding the chamber with 240 grit paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen giving the briar a fresh start. I then wipe the chamber with a cotton pad and alcohol ridding it of leftover carbon dust. After inspecting the chamber, I see no heating or burning problems. I move on! The internals of the mortise and airway are next on the cleaning regimen. Using cotton buds and a few pipe cleaners, things clean up quickly. I also use a dental spatula and scrape the mortise wall and remove very little tars and oils. It’s nice when a stummel isn’t horrendously grungy! Moving on.Moving now to the external blasted finish, I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a cotton pad to scrub. I’m wondering how strong the finish is – it appears a bit thin and the cleaning will reveal the answer. I also use a bristled tooth brush as well as a brass wire brush on the rim. After scrubbing, I take it to the sink and rinse the stummel with cool tap water without allowing water in the internals! The verdict is that the finish is worn and the scrubbing on the rim has left bare briar. With the day closing, I want to give the internals a further cleaning using kosher salt and alcohol as a soak. I create a wick from a cotton ball by pulling and twisting it. The wick serves to draw the tars and oils out. I then insert the wick down the mortise and airway with the help of a stiff wire. I then fill the bowl with kosher salt (which leaves no aftertaste) and after placing the stummel in an egg carton to keep it stable; I put isopropyl 95% into the chamber until it fills. I wait a few minutes and top off the alcohol once more. I turn out the light allowing the stummel to soak through the night. The next morning, I discover that the soak has not unearthed too much additional tars and oils from the internals of the pipe. This was confirmed after I followed with a few cotton buds and pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol. Cleaned!Turning my attention now to the Ben Wade stem, the Before & After Deoxidizer did a great job excising the oxidation from the vulcanite rubber compound. Now I focus on the bit and button repair which have some significant bite compressions. I take a closer look with a couple of pictures to mark the start of the repair. I start by painting the bit area with a Bic lighter to heat and expand the vulcanite. After doing this for some time I take comparison pictures to show the unsatisfactory progress. Comparing first:

Upper bit, before and after:Lower bit, before and after:The heating process made little progress. I now mix activated charcoal with CA glue to form a patch material and apply it to the tooth compressions and to the button lips – I’ll need to reshape the button. I first clean the stem area with isopropyl 95%. I then gradually mix thick CA glue with activated charcoal on an index card. I aim for a thickness of molasses so it’s thick enough to stay in place not run but will allow some manipulation once applied. On the first mixing, I mixed too much activated charcoal with the CA glue and got one of the chemical reactions where the mixture hardens instantly giving off an acrid smoke!! This has happened before. I need to apply the mixture before it thickens too much. The next mixtures work well. After applying patch material to both upper and lower I set the stem aside to allow the patch to cure. I turn my attention now to the Ben Wade Hand Model stummel. I like the rustic look of this stummel. What I also like about it is that there is a curving or narrowing in the shaping of the bowl about 2/3s up as it moves toward the rim. With the rough finish, rough is good and the surface reminds me of tree bark! With the stummel being dry and with a light blotchy look in the valleys of the blasted areas, I decide to add some paraffin oil to the briar to hydrate it. Doing this also allows me to get a sneak preview of what the briar will look like somewhat finished, I apply paraffin oil to the surface with a cotton pad. This moisturizes the briar and I like what I’m seeing. The only thing I’m not liking is that the scorched place on the back side of the rim is still evident even with the help of a darkened blend. The pictures show what I’m seeing. I decide to go back to an elbow grease methodology and focus cleaning on the rim with a brass wire brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap. This time Murphy’s has its way. I did do a lot of scrubbing and the rim surface shows the skinned lighter area on the rim where the cleaning was, but the scorched area was removed.To darken the rim to blend with the rest of the bowl, I use a cherry dye stick which matches pretty well and I color the rim as well as the edge of the rim – external and internal. This looks good and will blend in more as I polish.Next, to clean up the lower shank panel, I very quickly and lightly, run the area through the full regimen of 9 micromesh pads from 1500 to 12000 – dry sanding with each. I wasn’t worried about the nomenclature because it is deep and solid, and I sanded very lightly with the pads. This gently cleaned the smooth briar of minor nicks and scratches.I like the look of the finish and decide that it looks good just as it is. In order to deepen and enrich the natural grain, I apply Before & After Restoration Balm. I like this product that can be found at http://www.lbepen.com. I apply some of the Balm to my fingers and thoroughly work it into the briar surface – into the nooks and crannies of the richly blasted briar. After applying, I let the stummel sit for a few minutes – 10 or so, and then I wipe the stummel with a microfiber cloth to remove the excess Balm and to buff it up a bit. I take a picture during the ‘absorbing’ period.The patches on bit and button of the stem are now cured after several hours. I begin to remove the excess patch material on the upper bit using a flat needle file. I’m careful to establish the new inner lip of the button. As I filed to shape the new button lip, I discover a crevasse hidden below which is too severe simply to remove. There are other pockets on the button that don’t look too promising. It is normal in my experience, that its necessary to apply additional patch material to fill pockets and gaps that appear during filing and sanding.To address patching the button problems, this time I use a black CA glue to fill the crevasse and pockets and I apply an accelerator to quicken the curing process. Again, filing and shaping the upper button lip and this time better results are realized.I follow filing by sanding with 240 grit paper (which I forgot to add as a prop to this picture!) to erase the marks left by filing. As with the filing of the button, the finer 240 paper reveal a cluster of pockets in the center bit area in the patch. Again, I spot drop black CA glue to fill the pockets, apply an accelerator and file the excess then sand the bit area with 240 grit paper. The upper bit and button area look good. The same process is repeated on the lower bit and button. It too, looks good. With the bit repairs completed and with the repaired button shaped, I continue by wet sanding the entire stem with 600 grade paper. I’m careful to work around the BEN WADE stem stamp on the saddle. After wet sanding with 600 grit, I apply 0000 steel wool to stem. Finally, I wet scrub the stem with Magic Eraser. I’m satisfied with the progress. I move forward with the micromesh pad regimen wet sanding using pads 1500 to 2400 followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000. I follow each set of 3 pads with an application of Obsidian Oil which further rejuvenates the vulcanite. I like that vulcanite pop! The stem looks great. I try to reunite the stem and the stummel and as is the case sometimes, after cleaning the mortise, the briar inside can expand causing the fit with the tenon to become too tight. I do not want to force the stem and risk a cracked shank, so I gently ream the mortise with a half-rounded needle file. Then I gently sand the tenon by wrapping 600 grit paper around the tenon.This works and I am able then to reunite the stem with the stummel and mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel and set the speed at about 40% full power.  I apply Blue Diamond compound to the entire pipe.  I run the wheel along the grain of the blasting to bring out the contrasts of rough briar as well as to buff it up into a shine.  After completing the Blue Diamond, before applying wax, I freshen the Ben Wade white stem stamp.  I clean the area with alcohol and then I dab a bit of white acrylic paint over the stamping.  I then use a cotton pad to tamp the wet paint which draws off the excess paint and helps the paint to dry sooner. Then using a toothpick, I gently scrape off the excess paint leaving a refreshed BEN WADE stamp.  It looks nice and crisp.I then mount another cotton cloth buffing wheel onto the Dremel and apply carnauba wax to the stummel.  I increase the speed of the Dremel from my usual 40% up to about 50 to 60% full power.  I do this to create more heat with the friction of the wheel to encourage the wax to dissolve in the craggy blasted briar surface.  Waxing a rough surface can cause the wax to collect and not to absorb into the surface.  The added heat encourages this and as I look at the waxing action, it looks like it’s having the desired effect.  Nice!  After finishing the waxing process, I then give the stem and stummel a rigorous and substantial hand buffing to remove any excess wax and to raise the shine.

The blasted grain on this Ben Wade Hand Model is distinctive.  It looked so good I thought that it might be the blastification process, but it is the real deal.  The shaping of the bowl also adds to the rustic effect with it tightening near the top and then flaring out.  The blasted briar displays many hues of grain – very eye pleasing.  This is the third of three pipes that Todd commissioned, and he will have the first opportunity to acquire this Ben Wade Hand Model from The Pipe Steward Store.  These pipes benefit the work we do here in Bulgaria with the Daughters of Bulgaria working among women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thank you for joining me!



Blog by Paresh Deshpande

The third of the four freehand pipes purchased on eBay and currently on my work table is the BEN WADE “SPIRAL”. This is a huge sized pipe and fills the hand nicely with its size, weight and heft. I was attracted to this pipe because of its size and the unique spiraled shank. Another factor was the fact that my inherited collection had quite a few numbers of Danish pipes like the Stanwells, Amphoras, Kriswells and SONs. Thus, when I first saw the pipe on eBay, the name Ben Wade sounded so British and when I read the description and the stampings of Made In Denmark, I was immediately interested and intrigued at the same time!!! I got this pipe fairly cheap and the excellent condition it was in when it arrived, further sweetened the deal. This appears to be a simple and straight forward cleaning job from the looks of it.

The stummel shows a combination of sandblasted and smooth surfaces. It shows smooth surface on the left side extending 2/3 way down from rim top towards the heel of the bowl and on the right side it extends from the base of the bowl to 1/3 way upwards towards the rim top.The shank has beautiful and evenly spaced 5 spirals, first half from the bowl end is sandblasted while the remaining half towards the shank end is smooth and bears the stampings “Ben Wade” over “SPIRAL” over “SANDBLAST” over “HAND MADE” over “IN” over “DENMARK”. These stampings are seen in the first and third spiral of the shank. The stem bears the Ben Wade logo of the initials in capital letters ensconced within a crown on the top surface of the stem near the tenon end. All the stampings are clear and crisp. There is some very interesting history on Ben Wade pipes which I got from pipedia.org. Some interesting snippets of information are reproduced below:-

The company was founded by Benjamin Wade in 1860 in Leeds, Yorkshire, where it was located for over a century. Ben Wade started as a pipe trader, but  in the 1860’s he established a workshop to produce briar pipes. The pipes were made in very many standard shapes – always extensively classic and “very British”. Many models tended to be of smaller dimensions. Ben Wade offered a very high standard of craftsmanship and quality without any fills. Thus the pipes were considered to be high grade and a major competitor to other famous English brands.

In the second World War the factory was destroyed by German air raids on Leeds. But the Ben Wade family decided to re-build it immediately after the war and pipe production was re-started soon and successfully linked to the fame from the pre-war years.

Before the second war Ben Wade clustered their offerings into three price points: “Ben Wade” included the higher end pipes (eg the Larnix, Super Grain, Selected Grain, etc), “BW” included the mid-level pipes (eg Statesman, Natural Grain, County, etc), and “BWL” were the least expensive (eg Hurlingham, Adelphi, Tense Grain). Champion was in the last group, and in the 1930s at least retailed for 2/6.

Ben Wade turns Danish

Young Copenhagen master pipemaker Preben Holm had made a meteoric career heading a pipe manufacture employing 45 people at the age of 22! But around the turn of 1970/71 he was in major financial difficulties. His US distributor, Snug Harbour Ltd. in New York City, left him in the lurch. Holm had three unpaid invoices on his desk and another large shipment was ready for the USA, when Snug Harbour’s manager told him on the phone that there was no money at all on the account to pay him.

So the Dane went to New York for an almost desparate search for a new distribution partner. He made contacts with Lane Ltd. and met Herman G. Lane in February 1971. Lane Ltd. had no interest in Holm’s serial pipes produced at that time but so much the more in the hand-carved freehands because the hype for Danish freehands and fancies in the States was still on its way to the climax then. The meeting resulted in an agreement to start cooperation. Lane insisted to improve the quality considerably and in return he assured to be able to sell essentially larger quantities.

Holm went back home to work on new samples with all-new designs and altered finishes for Lane. Both, Lane and Holm, agreed that it would be unwise to sell the pipes under Preben Holm’s name as long as Snug Harbour had a considerable stock of Preben Holm pipes and might sell them pipes at very low prices just to bring in some money.

So on Mr. Lane’s proposal it was determined to use the name Ben Wade belonging to Lane Ltd. Lane spend considerable amounts of money for advertising the new brand in the big magazines– the centerpiece being whole-page ads showing a very exclusive Seven Day’s Set.

The cooperation with Lane Ltd. proved to be an eminent business success for both partners. Within a very short time Ben Wade Handmade Denmark sold in much larger quantities and at higher prices than they had ever dreamed of. And the hype these freehands and fancy pipes caused went on unbroken long after Herman G. Lane deceased. Preben Holm – obviously much more brilliant in pipe making than in pipe business – was in major troubles again in 1986 and had to sack most of his staff. The Ben Wade production was significantly lowered but continued until his untimely death in June of 1989. Up to now Preben Holm made Ben Wade pipes are cult and highly sought for on the estate markets.

From the above information, I can say with some certainty that this line of pipes was made between the years 1971 to 1986.

This Ben Wade has a huge size and fills the hand nicely and has a combination of smooth and sandblasted surfaces. The sandblasted areas are filled with dust and grime which can be easily seen in the crevices of the blast. The smooth surface is also covered in the tobacco oils and oils secreted by sweating palms giving it a dull and lackluster appearance. There are no blemishes in the briar of the stummel or the shank that can be seen. I surmise that a nice scrub with Murphy’s oil soap and a hard bristled toothbrush should suffice to clean the stummel and the shank. The rim top is sandblasted and is covered in overflow of lava, tars and grime. There is no apparent damage to the inner and outer edge of the rim that can be seen, like a charred rim or an out of round bowl or chips and dents. However, the condition will be ascertained once the chamber has been reamed and the overflow of lava is removed from the rim surface. The chamber shows uneven cake build up with a thicker build up at the bottom and progressively reducing towards the rim top. The condition of the walls will be ascertained once the chamber has been reamed and the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. However, the stummel feels solid to the touch with no soft briar anywhere which is indicative of the likelihood of a burnout or major heat fissures.The beautiful and unique spiral shank has crisp edges to the spirals and just needs to be cleaned for the straight grains to pop out in their complete splendor. The plateau shank end is filled with dirt, grime and will need to be cleaned. The airway in the shank shows a blockage during the blow test and should be an easy clean up.The high quality vulcanite fancy stem is oxidized and the “BW WITH CROWN” logo appears faded as it is covered in oxidation. This needs to be addressed and the preservation of the stem logo attempted.Deeper tooth chatter peppers both the upper and lower surfaces of the stem. However, the bite marks are more pronounced and numerous on the lower surface. I shall try to raise these to the surface by flaming with Bic lighter and the deeper ones will be filled with CA superglue. Buttons show light deformation due to bite marks and will need to be sharpened. It is interesting to observe that these tooth indentations are slightly more forward towards the tenon end rather than the button end!!! Probably, the huge size and the front heavy bowl necessitate clenching it forward for better balance.THE PROCESS
I started the restoration process by reaming the chamber with a Kleen Reem pipe reamer followed by scrapping the remaining cake from the chamber with my fabricated knife. The cake was hard and dry. I further removed the cake using a 220 grit sand paper and sanded the walls till the solid bare briar was reached. I wiped down the interiors of the chamber with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol to clean the chamber of all the carbon dust and inspect the inner wall condition. And there it was, a sight which every restorer, experienced or a novice silently prays is not seen…… the beginnings of a crack/ heat fissures!!!!! The following pictures show the extent of these fissures. I shall address this issue later after I have cleaned the stummel and the stem, both internally and externally. This was followed by cleaning the internals of the shank and the airway. I attempted to insert a hard bristled pipe cleaner dipped in isopropyl alcohol through the airway in the shank and realized that there was no give for the pipe cleaner half way through the mortise. The blockage called for a more aggressive method of cleaning!!! Using a fabricated (again…. I have modified and fabricated a number of tools which I find useful in my restoration processes as the sophisticated and designated tools are not easily available to me and those available are too expensive!!!) Dental spatula, I scraped all the grunge, oils and tars from the mortise. However, a pipe cleaner would still not pass through!! I shone a torch light in to the chamber and looking through the shank, I realized that the blockage was nearer to the draught hole as the light did not pass through. I addressed this issue by inserting a rounded needle file and dislodging the blockage. I further scrubbed the walls of the draught hole and the mortise with the rounded needle file. Once I was satisfied with the filing, I thoroughly cleaned the mortise and the airway using a shank brush, q-tips and pipe cleaners, all dipped in isopropyl alcohol, till the pipe cleaners and q-tips came out clean. I checked the draw and it was nice, smooth and full. With the insides of the stummel and shank cleaned and freshened up, I turned my attention to the exterior of the bowl. Using Murphy’s oil soap and a toothbrush, I cleaned the exterior of the bowl. I gave a very deliberate scrub to the bowl and into the rustications to remove all the dust, dirt and grime that had accumulated over the years. I purposefully avoided brass brush/ steel wool while cleaning so as not to damage the sandblast. Once the cleaning with the oil soap was done, I rinsed it under running tap water and wiped it dry with a soft cotton cloth. I took care that the water does not enter into the chamber and the shank. I wiped and dried the stummel with a paper napkin and a soft cotton cloth. The bowl now has a nice, beautiful, clean and robust look to it. I kept the bowl aside to dry out and turned my attention to the stem. Turning my attention to the stem, I cleaned the stem surface with Magic Clean sponge and followed it up by flaming the surface of the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to raise the minor tooth chatter and bite marks to the surface. This was followed by the sanding with a 220 grit sand paper. This serves two purposes; firstly, it reduces the size of the fills as well as evens out the surface of the stem for the fill and secondly, it has been my experience that if the stem oxidation is removed before the fill, the end result is a nice black and shining finish and not the dirty brown spots wherever the stem has been filled. I followed it up with sanding the stem surface with a 600 grit sand paper. I spot filled the deeper bite marks with clear CA superglue and set it aside to cure overnight. I had covered the stem logo with a whitener in order to highlight the stem logo. The extent of highlight will depend on the depth remaining in the stamping. While the fills in the stem were curing, I decided to address the beginnings of the very minor issues of heat fissures in the chamber. I mixed an adequate quantity of pipe ash, activated charcoal with yogurt to form a thick slurry and applied it as evenly as possible all along the inner walls of the chamber. This too, was set aside to cure/ dry along with the stem.  The next day, once I was satisfied with the cure, using a flat head needle file, I sanded the fill to match it with the stem surface and also to sharpen the edges of the buttons on either surface. I further matched the fills and sharpened the buttons by sanding with 220, 600 and 800 grit sand paper. The stem was polished with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads followed by dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I rubbed a little extra virgin olive oil with my fingers in to the stem. After I was through with the last grit pad, I gave a final rub of extra virgin olive oil and set it aside to be absorbed by the stem. It had taken a couple of days for the coating of pipe mud to completely cure and dry out. I very lightly sanded the chamber coating with a 600 grit sand paper to even and smooth out the surface of the chamber.Once I was done with the chamber, I gave the external surface of the stummel a good clean up with a dry soft cloth to remove any dust/dirt that might have settled on the bowl overnight. Thereafter, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” into the bowl ensuring that it reaches the rustication also. I am truly amazed at the spread of this balm!  Just a small quantity quickly spreads and is sufficient to coat the entire bowl when rubbed with the fingers. The product was further rubbed into the rustication when buffed, using a horsehair shoe brush. I let it rest for a few minutes to let the balm work its magic on the briar. The transformation is amazing!! Once this was done, it was back to using muscle power to enhance the shine and beauty of the sandblast and the smooth surfaces by prolonged rubbing with a soft cloth followed by a microfiber cloth. I finished the pipe restoration by attaching the stem with the stummel and giving it a nice rub with a microfiber cloth. The pipe now has a nice and deep shine to it. The finished pipe is shown below. Thank you for sparing your valuable time in going through this write up.

Recommissioning a Hefty Ben Wade Bent Billiard Made in London England

Blog by Dal Stanton

I saw this large Ben Wade Bent Billiard on the eBay auction block a few years ago and secured it with the winning bid.  This was the first time I had acquired a Ben Wade, so my initial thought was to add it to my own collection.  I noticed that Ben Wade stamped pipes usually attracted more than usual bidding attention and so I was looking forward to restoring it and learning more about the name.  In the end, I put him in the For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only! section on the Pipe Steward site and this is where Paresh saw it and commissioned it to add to his collection and this benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria.  The Ben Wade, without question, fits the profile of being a ‘hefty’ pipe fitting well in the hand.  Here are some of the pictures that got Paresh’s attention: I take some additional pictures on my work table in Sofia, Bulgaria, looking at the stamping.  On the left shank is ‘Ben Wade’ in cursive script over MADE IN [over] LONDON ENGLAND.  The right shank side has 79 stamped – I’m assuming a shape number. The stem also has a BEN WADE stamp. Pipedia’s article on Ben Wade is interesting and very helpful in explaining the history.  The ‘Family Era” (1860 to 1962) is described as the ‘hay day’ of the British pipe maker:

The company was founded by Benjamin Wade in 1860 in Leeds, Yorkshire, where it was located for over a century. Ben Wade started as a pipe trader, but yet in the 1860’s he established a workshop to produce briar pipes. The pipes were made in very many standard shapes – always extensively classic and “very British”. Many models tended to be of smaller dimensions. Ben Wade offered a very high standard of craftsmanship and quality without any fills. Thus, the pipes were considered to be high grade and a major competitor to other famous English brands.

Along with most pipe manufacturers, the Second World War was a difficult time for Ben Wade.  German air raids destroyed the factory in Leeds, but the Ben Wade Co., quickly rebuilt after the war.  The Pipedia article gives several examples of the Ben Wade based in Leeds nomenclature during the Family Era (courtesy of Doug Valitchka):The ’Family Era’ ended when the business was sold in 1962:

…the owner family decided to leave pipe business and sell off the firm. The family went into negotiations with Herman G. Lane, president of Lane Ltd. in New York at about the same time as the Charatan family. Lane Ltd. bought both firms in 1962. Herman G. Lane had been Charatan’s US sole distributor since 1955 and Charatan always remained his pet child. But Ben Wade was treated in another way by its new owner. The fabrication of pipes was reduced and the factory in Leeds was closed in 1965 finally.  So this was the end of Ben Wade pipes stamped “Made in Leeds, England”.

The ‘Lane Era’ is described as a time when the historic quality of Ben Wade declined to a ‘second’ with reference to the production of standard shapes:

Alas the “new” Ben Wades were quite usual series pipes, copies of well-known standard shapes. The pipes often showed hardly masqued fillings and were processed quite coarsely with hardly polished pre-moulded Ebonite stems. Therewith Ben Wade degenerated definitively to a second brand.

According to the Pipedia article, after the death of Herman G. Lane, the business was sold to Dunhill Pipes Limited in 1978 and the new owner had no need to produce ‘seconds’ coming from the acquisition.  The Ben Wade Bent Billiard on my work table comes from the ‘Lane Era’ produced between 1965 and 1978 matching the nomenclature during this period.  “Made in London England” or just “London” replaced “Leeds” with the characteristic cursive script and ‘Ben Wade’ stem stamp (again courtesy of Doug Valitchka):I had one other question regarding the name ‘Ben Wade’ – the Danish connection? In 1971, the young, Danish pipe maker, Preben Holm, came to Lane with financial difficulties and in need of a new US distributer of his pipes made in Denmark.   The new partnership put the Ben Wade name on the Freehand production coming from the Danish factory into the burgeoning US ‘Freehand’ market with a commitment to quality rather than quantity.  The market grew through the 70s until 1985, when the market for these pipes fell resulting in the downsizing of the factory in 1986 but the production of Danish Ben Wade pipes came to an end in 1989 after the death of Preben Holm.  The Pipedia article concludes by describing the status of the Ben Wade name.  Duncan Briars purchased rights to the Ben Wade name from Dunhill Pipes in 1998 and continues to produce pipes at the same factory where Dunhill pipes are made:

The bowls are carved at the world famous 32 St. Andrews Road, Walthamstowe pipe factory, in London, England. The same factory where Dunhills are made. Every pipe is drilled spot on and exhibits a good blast and all have high quality German Vulcanite mouthpieces. Every pipe is stamped “Ben Wade, Made in London, England”. The craftsmanship and smokability have always been superb.

With a greater appreciation for the Ben Wade name, I take another look at the Ben Wade Bent Billiard on my worktable.  Even though the Pipedia article gave more of a negative view of traditional shapes of Ben Wades produced in the Lane Era, the pipe I’m looking at doesn’t reflect this.  The grain is beautiful, and I see no fills on the surface.  The chamber appears to have been cleaned and the briar surface is clean as well showing normal nicks and scratches.  The stem does have some minor oxidation and tooth dents on the button.  I also detect that there is a gap between the shank and stem – I’ll see if cleaning might correct this.  I take some close ups of these issues. To begin the cleanup of the Ben Wade, I run a pipe cleaner dipped in isopropyl 95% through the stem.  Then, along with other pipes in the queue, I put the stem in a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation.  After a few hours, I remove the stem and wipe off the raised oxidation using cotton pads and light paraffin oil – mineral oil.  I also run another pipe cleaner through the airway to remove Deoxidizer. Turning to the stummel, I remove the very light cake in the chamber. With the chamber so large, I jump to the largest blade head from the Pipnet Reaming kit.  I follow this by using the Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Tool and scraping the chamber walls further.  I finish by sanding the chamber wall using 240 grit paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  To remove the carbon dust residue, I wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  The pictures show the progress. One of the purposes of removing the old cake to bring the chamber down to the briar, is not only for a fresh start.  When the carbon is removed the chamber can be inspected for problems usually pertaining to heat fissures and potential burn throughs.  Inspecting the Ben Wade, I detect on the forward part of the chamber a sloping indentation that is a little to pronounced to ignore.  Using the Savinelli Fitsall Tool again, I scrape carbon out of the indentation to make sure I’m getting down to the briar.  This reveals the full extent of the abnormal burning.  I take pictures to show what I see, but the picture doesn’t do too well.  Changing the aperture, the picture is lightened, and I outline the perimeter of the indentation in the final picture below.  I need to address this budding burn through later after cleaning the stummel.  Next, I clean the external stummel surface using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a cotton pad.  The stummel cleans up well but reveals a tired, lackluster, thin finish. I then clean the internals of the stummel using cotton buds and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%.  The grunge is thick, so I also employ a dental spatula to scrape the mortise walls as well as a drill bit to hand turn down the airway to excavate the old tars and oils.  To save on pipe cleaners I also utilize a long shank brush to scrub the airway.  Eventually, the tide begins to turn, and the buds and pipe cleaners are emerging less soiled.   I take a picture of the tools I use.To continue cleaning the internals, I use a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  I like to do this additional step in cleaning to further clean the tars and oils out of the internal briar and to freshen the pipe.  I use kosher salt because it doesn’t leave an aftertaste.  I stretch and twist a cotton ball to form a wick that I then insert down the mortise and airway pushing it with a straight, stiff wire.  I then fill the bowl with kosher salt and place the stummel in an egg crate to keep it stable.  With a large eyedropper, I fill the bowl with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt.  I put the stummel aside to soak for several hours.Again, I look closely at the stem that had already soaked in the Before & After Deoxidizer and I see that there remains deeper oxidation.  Instead of going directly to sanding out the oxidation, I decide to put the stem in the OxiClean bath to let it soak overnight – to see if more oxidation would be raised.  I put a small bit of petroleum jelly over the Ben Wade stem stamping and I put the stem in the OxiClean and turned out the lights.  Another day is finished.The next morning the soak had done the job. After tossing the expended salt in the waste, I wipe the chamber with paper towel and blow through the mortise to clear any residual salt crystals. I also use a long shank brush down the mortise.  To make sure the internals are clean, I finish by using a cotton bud and pipe cleaner dipped in isopropyl 95% down the mortise and airway.  They come out clean.Next, I fish the stem out of the OxiClean where it has been soaking through the night.  More oxidation has surfaced.  I begin sanding the entire stem using 240 grit paper careful to protect the Ben Wade stamping and shouldering the stem.  I focus on the bit area removing the minor tooth chatter.  Using a flat needle file, I freshen the button edges.  I follow by wet sanding with 600 grit paper and then 0000 steel wool.  The oxidation appears to be removed for the larger part except for some around the Ben Wade stamping which I won’t sand for the sake of preserving the stamp. Taking it one step further, using Before & After Fine and Extra Fine Polish, I rub each into the vulcanite in succession.  Putting some on my finger, I work the polishes into the vulcanite and let the stem sit for a time to absorb the polish.  The polishes are advertised not only to revitalize vulcanite but also to continue to remove the oxidation.  After each polish is absorbed, I then wipe the stem down with a cotton pad.  The pictures show the progress.Putting the stem aside for now, I work on the budding burn through in the chamber.  Previously, I dug out any remaining charring in the indentation.  To make sure the area is fully clear, I sand the area again and wiped the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to clean the chamber.  As far as chamber burn throughs go, this one is minimal.  It has not progressed far and the size and the thickness of the bowl means that there was never any imminent danger.  Yet, for the long-term view and use of this beautiful Ben Wade Bent Billiard, I repair the problem where it is before it grows and becomes a worse problem.  I mix a small batch of J-B Kwik Weld on an index card.  After combining the two components, ‘Steel’ and ‘Hardener’, I have about 4 minutes to apply the mixture before it starts setting. I use a flat dental spatula as a trowel and apply the J-B Weld to the indentation in the chamber.  I put the stummel aside to allow the J-B Weld to thoroughly cure. After it cures, I use a sanding drum mounted on the Dremel to sand the excess.  I follow this using the Sharpie Pen wrapped with 240 grit paper to leave the chamber smooth and shaped. I’m pleased with the results and glad I went the extra mile to arrest the potential burn through.  Later, I’ll apply a coat of activated charcoal and sour cream mixture to the chamber wall to improve the aesthetics and to aid formation of a new protective cake. Before continuing, I reunite the stem and stummel to examine the shank junction.  Earlier I saw a gap between the shank and the stem.  Often, after cleaning these problems are resolved.  I find that this indeed was the case as the stem is now seated as it should be.  Pictures are before and after.With the stem now properly seating, I turn again to the stem and using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stem.  Following this, I dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Following each set of three pads, I apply a coat of Obsidian Oil to revitalize the stem.  I love the glassy pop of a micromeshed stem! Turning now to the external surface of the stummel, I take a closer look at the condition of the briar.  I identify some very small fills which are solid except for one, which is pitted.  Along with normal dents and scratches from wear, there is a small skin mark on the forward outer lip of the rim.  For the pitted fill, I dig out more of the old fill with a sharp dental probe.  Since I will put clear CA glue on the pitted fill, I color the fill with a walnut dye stick to aid in blending.  I then spot drop CA glue on the area and set the stummel aside allowing the glue to cure. After a full work day, the CA glue patch I applied this morning is fully cured.  I remove the CA glue mound starting with a flat needle file.  The key is to stay on the mound and gradually bring it down close to the briar surface.  I don’t want to impact any surrounding briar.  I follow the filing by using a tightly rolled piece of 240 grit paper to bring the glue down until it’s flush with the briar surface.  My rule of thumb is to sand until I can feel no roughness.  The patch looks good – blending well with the briar.To address the rim nicks, I decide to give the rim a very light topping.  Using a chopping board as my topping board, I place a sheet of 240 grade paper on the board.  Inverting the stummel, I rotate the stummel a few times on the board to freshen the rim lines and remove the nicks.  I follow with a few rotations on 600 grade paper.  The pictures show the progress. Next, to address the briar surface, I use in succession rough, medium and light grade sanding sponges to work out the cuts and nicks in preparation for the micromesh pads.  I find that using sanding sponges on smooth briars helps clean the surface of the old, tired finish without being greatly invasive.  The sponges also smooth and soften the rim lines after the topping.  I enjoy watching the grain begin to take center stage through the process.Next, using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stummel.  I follow by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  I forgot to take a picture of the first set of 3 pads.  The grain is coming through nicely. Rejoining stem and stummel, I mount a 1-inch cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel set at about 40% full power and apply Blue Diamond compound to the entire pipe.Before applying carnauba wax to the stem and stummel, I need to touch up the Ben Wade stem stamping with the hope there’s enough tread left in the ‘Wade’ portion of the stamp to hold the paint.  Using white acrylic paint, I apply paint over the stamping and sponge off the excess while still wet and allow the paint to dry. After dry, I gently scrape the excess with the flat edge of a toothpick.  I’m less than satisfied.  I try reapplying more paint and wiping while still wet.  After working with it for some time, I’ve come to the best I can do.  The ‘Wade’ part of the stamping simply does not have enough depth left to fully hold paint.  The picture shows my less than hoped for results. One more project to finish before the final waxing.  After completing the chamber repair using J-B Weld and sanding, to aid the aesthetics and to provide a starter layer for developing a protective cake, I mix together sour cream or natural yogurt with activated charcoal to form an application to cover the walls of the chamber.  When I first heard about this mixture from Steve on rebornpipes, I was a bit doubtful then, but no longer.  I have used this application many times and after applying and drying, the result is a very sturdy layer.  After the pipe goes into service, the only caution is when cleaning out the bowl after use do not scrape the chamber with a pipe tool.  I simply use a folded bristled pipe cleaner to scrape the wall after dumping the ash.  This has worked well for me.  I place a pipe cleaner in the draft hole to keep the airway open.  Here in Bulgaria, yogurt is very plentiful, so I scoop some natural yogurt in a small bowl and add some activated charcoal powder and mix it.  After it mixes and thickens enough so it won’t be runny, I trowel the mixture into the chamber with a pipe nail tool and spread it evenly.  After it’s distributed well, I set the stummel aside for a time to allow the charcoal/yogurt mixture to cure. After the Charcoal/Yogurt coating sets, I reunite stem and stummel.  Using the Dremel, I mount another cotton cloth wheel, leaving the speed at about 40% and apply carnauba wax.  After a few coats of wax, I give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine.

This hefty Ben Wade Made in London England Bent Billiard turned out very well.  The horizontal grain on the huge stummel flows in a striking picture and is joined by large bird’s eye pools. The bowl rests very nicely in the palm and will provide its new steward with much enjoyment. Paresh commissioned this Ben Wade and will have the first opportunity to acquire it from The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!


Ben Wade’s in the House, Part 2

Blog by Joe Gibson

Finished Pipes, ready for an afternoon smoke. The tobacco is last tin of out of production Viking Odin’s Wind.

Which Stem for Which Pipe?

When the Ben Wades arrived, the Martinique came with a beautiful, amber colored but transparent acrylic stem. There was a minor amount of tooth chatter near the bit, but nothing I felt the need to repair. The airway, on the other hand, was black from being smoked. The stem was tight in the mortise and didn’t readily pull out.

The Royal Grain, as I mentioned in the previous post, still had a vulcanite tenon stuck in the mortise. I decided to work on the Martinique stem first and deal with finding a stem for the Royal Grain later.

Cleaning the Perspex Stem

The Perspex stem before cleaning.

The first problem was separating the stem from bowl without breaking anything. Since I planned on soaking the bowl in alcohol, I dipped the pipe and stem in the jar and let it set for a minute or two. The stem then came off the pipe easily and I rinsed it off in clean water.

With oxidized vulcanite stems, I do an Oxyclean soak to bring the oxidation to the surface. I’ve never tried an Oxyclean bath on acrylic or Perspex stems. With those, I usually just wipe the outside down with alcohol and do the inside with pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol. The one thing you never want to do is soak the stems in alcohol. It could possibly cause “crazing” or cracks in the airway. Some

people even report stems breaking after soaking in alcohol.

Tip #1: The shank brush tool is great for cleaning tobacco residue from the bit. I find it does the job faster than just pipe cleaners.

I was hoping dipping regular, tapered pipe cleaners in alcohol would remove the discoloration from the airway and sterilize it. And it did, to an extent. After 10 pipe cleaners the airway was a little cleaner, but I could still see the old tobacco stain. I probably would have gone to my bristle pipe cleaners, but I didn’t The solution for this situation? I switched to a shank brush pipe tool. It’s ideal for cleaning the shank and  the tenon and airway of a pipe stem. I dip it in alcohol and run it through the stem until it comes out fairly clean. I follow that with pipe cleaners dipped in water.

The Royal Grain Stem Replacement. Maybe?

Initially I planned to have a stem made for the Royal Grain. Then I remembered the Preben Holm stem I had sitting in my desk. It’s a mismatched stem from a Søren freehand I bought in early August. I easily removed the broken tenon by inserted a drill bit into the airway by hand and twisting and pulling it out.

Tip #2: When buying pipes in “junktique” shops and malls, check the stems for stamps or logos. It will help you identify the pipes and may also tell you if the stem is the correct one for the pipe. I use mismatch stems as a point in talking the seller into lowering the price.

Black Vulcanite Preben Holm stem and a Perspex Ben Wade

Stems are usually made to fit the pipe it’s going with and I have never found one stem to perfectly fit a pipe other than the one it’s made for.

The Preben Holm stem fitted the Royal Grain. Maybe a tighter fit than I like, but it a fit and I can always work on the mortise or tenon to make it better. On top of that, a friend from one of the pipe forums, had a Ben Wade stem he is sending me. One way or the other I have a stem for the Royal Grain. Or, did I?


But Which Stem for Which Pipe?

So, there I was. Sitting with two clean and polished pipe bowls and two stems. I picked up the Perspex stem and inserted it back into the Martinique. And, the bowl almost slipped off the stem. The logo on the Perspex is the Ben Wade logo. This should fit.

I’m guessing that the fit was so tight at the start because both the mortise and the tenon was so dirty. Once the cleaning removed the residue, it became loose.

Just on a lark, I decided to try the Perspex stem on the Royal Grain and it slid into place easily and looked like it was made for it. I also liked the way the amber color matches to the darker finish of the Royal Grain.

I then inserted the vulcanite Preben Holm stem into the Martinique. It is a snug fit but not a tight fit. May not be the original stem, but it is close enough.

Part 1: Ben Wades in the House

© J. Gibson Creative Services. September 5, 2018

Restemming, Repairing and Reconditioning a Ben Wade Golden Walnut Freehand

Blog by Steve Laug

When Mark sent me his uncle’s seven pipes to restore, he also sent several of his own pipes to be restored. The first pipe was the Italian made acorn with a sea rock style finish that I worked on earlier (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/01/20/breathing-new-life-into-an-italian-made-%c2%bc-bent-acorn/). The second pipe was a very nice looking Ben Wade Golden Walnut Freehand. It had some great grain on the sides, front and back. It had a flat area on the bottom of the bowl and could stand up without the stem. The shank end and the top of the rim had areas of plateau that were stained darker than the rest of the pipe. It is stamped on the underside of the shank Ben Wade over Golden Walnut. Underneath that it is stamped Hand Made in Denmark. The briar was dirty and there was grime into the grooves and crevices on the plateau top and end of the shank. There was grime and oils ground into the sides of the bowl and shank. The original stem with the broken tenon came in the bag that he sent the pipe in. It had snapped off cleanly at the flare in the stem. The stem itself was oxidized and had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There were scratches around the golden crown on the top of the stem. The crown was faded and worn. I decided I was going to try to put a new tenon on the original stem so I dropped it in the Before & After Deoxidizer bath to soak. I figured it would be easier to work on cleaned up. I added it to the photo after I took the photo below but it sat with the rest of the stems from the uncle’s pipes in the soak over night.While the original stem soaked I worked on an acrylic stem that Mark had chosen. I had sent him a photo of several options and he liked the brown and cream swirled acrylic. I used the PIMO tenon turner to reduce the diameter of the tenon to fit in the shank. It did not take too much to remove the excess material. The photos below show the stem on the tenon turner and the finished stem after turning.I took the stem out of the bath and rinsed it under warm water and rubbed it down with a coarse cloth to remove the oxidation. I took a photo of the two stems and the bowl to get a send of how the stem would look.I inserted a pipe cleaner in the airway and used a heat gun to soften the stem enough that I could bend it. I bent it at the same angle as the original stem. I cooled it with running water to set the bend in the stem. The photos below show the process and the final bent stem. I took some photos of the pipe with the new stem in place. The colour and the shape look good with Ben Wade. With the new stem fitted it was time to work on the cleanup of the briar. I worked on the insides of the bowl and shank to remove the tars and oils. I scraped out the inside of the mortise with a pen knife to remove the buildup in that area. I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs.I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl and rim with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the buildup of grime and oils in the briar and in the plateau areas of the shank and rim top. I rinsed it off the pipe under running water and scrubbed it under the water flow. I dried it off with a cotton cloth and buffed it lightly to raise a shine. I sanded the buildup on the inner edge of the rim on the back of the bowl with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to remove the tars that remained in those areas. I polished the rim top with 3200-6000 grit pads.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my finger tips to deep clean the finish, enliven and protect the wood. I worked the balm into the plateau on the rim top and the end of the shank to polish the cleaned up area. I buffed the pipe with a horsehair shoe shine brush to get it into the grooves of the plateau. I let it sit for a few minutes and then buffed it with a cotton cloth. The grain in the wood came alive and there was a rich shine to the briar. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. Ah now I was making progress. I had finished the acrylic stem and the cleaning and polishing of the bowl. It was time to address the original stem and see if I could put a new tenon on the freehand stem. I used the topping board to flatten the broken end of the stem using 220 grit sandpaper. I set up my cordless drill, put in a bit that was slightly larger than the airway in the stem. I slowly drilled the airway larger. I slowly moved up to larger bits to make the opening the same size as the threaded end of the new Delrin tenon.I used a needle file to clean up the opening in the end of the stem and even out the sides so that when the new tenon was in place it would align all the way around. I used the Dremel and sanding drum to take down the threads on the end of the new tenon to fit right in the hole. I did not want to drill it further and affect the structure of the stem. Once the threads were smoothed out slightly, it fit in nicely. I had to be careful in drilling the stem to not go to deep and drill through the top or underside of the stem. I also reduced the diameter of the rest of the tenon with the Dremel and sanding drum to fit in the mortise of the pipe.I pushed the tenon into the shank and smoothed out the transition between it and the rest of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. Once I had it smooth I glued the tenon in the stem with super glue.I inserted the tenon into the stem a little less than previously to match the length of the original tenon. I mixed a batch of charcoal powder and super glue to fill in the gap between the new tenon and the stem.When the repair had cured I used a rasp and file to smooth out the repair to the connection. I sanded the repaired area with 180 and 220 grit sandpaper and was able to make the transition taper correctly. It would take more sanding but you can see the progress in the next photos. I worked over the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I polished out the sanding scratches and marks in the vulcanite and the rebuilt tenon area – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiping it down with Obsidian Oil. After the 2400 grit pad I applied some Rub’n Buff Antique Gold gold to the crown stamp on the top of the stem. I rubbed it on and off leaving the gold in the stamping. I dry sanded the stem with 3200-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. 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 pictures. Since I had polished the bowl and the acrylic stem I decided to put it all together. I took photos of the finished pipe with the acrylic stem. The golds, browns and cream coloured swirls work well with the grain on the briar. The old Ben Wade Hand Made Golden Walnut looks good with a different kind of stem. It will give Mark an option to have both an acrylic and the original stem to choose from – almost like having two different pipes. Here are the photos of the pipe with the acrylic stem. I finished the repairs on the original stem, repaired and polished it. I put it back on the pipe and buffed the entire pipe again with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the entire pipe several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to raise the shine. The new stem and the original stem looked good to me and the bend was just right. The bowl polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown with the original stem in the photos below. I will be adding to Mark’s package along with his uncle’s pipes when I have finished all of them and send it to him shortly. Thanks for looking.

Rejuvenating a Made in Leeds, England Ben Wade Natural Grain Lovat

Blog by Steve Laug

This little Ben Wade Lovat is the fourth pipe of the lot from Eastern Canada that I am restoring for a pipe man from there who sent it to me. It is stamped on the left side of the shank BEN WADE over Natural Grain and on the right side of the shank it reads Made in Leeds over England and a shape number 20 V near the bowl shank junction. The finish was natural and either unstained or stained with a light tan stain. The grain is quite good on the pipe. The rim is in rough shape from having been knocked on hard surfaces to remove the dottle. There were dents, dings and roughening. The bowl was slightly out of round. The stem was good quality vulcanite and has light oxidation at the joint of the stem and shank. There was tooth chatter and tooth marks on the top and bottom side near the button.ben1 ben2I took some close up photos of the rim and the stem. You can see the damage to the outer and inner edges of the rim as well as dents in the rim top. The cake has been poorly reamed from the bowl and there were some gouges in the briar walls that will need to be sanded out. The stem photos show the tooth chatter and marks as well as the small band of oxidation next to the shank.ben3 ben4I have always heard that the Ben Wade Company made quality English made pipes prior to its purchase by Herman Lane but I did not have any idea of the history of the brand. I did a bit of research on it and found the following helpful information on Pipedia. The link follows the quoted portion.

The company was founded by Benjamin Wade in 1860 in Leeds, Yorkshire, where it was located for over a century. Ben Wade started as a pipe trader, but yet in the 1860’s he established a workshop to produce briar pipes. The pipes were made in very many standard shapes – always extensively classic and “very British”. Many models tended to be of smaller dimensions. Ben Wade offered a very high standard of craftsmanship and quality without any fills. Thus the pipes were considered to be high grade and a major competitor to other famous English brands. The often heard comparison to Charatan seems to be a little bit inadequate because those days’ Charatans were entirely handmade.

In the II World War the factory was destroyed by German air raids on Leeds. But the Ben Wade family decided to re-build it immediately after the war and pipe production was re-started soon and successfully linked to the fame from the pre-war years. Even though the owner family decided to leave pipe business and sell off the firm. The family went into negotiations with Herman G. Lane, president of Lane Ltd. in New York at about the same time as the Charatan family. Lane Ltd. bought both firms in 1962.

Herman G. Lane had been Charatan’s US sole distributor since 1955 and Charatan always remained his pet child. But Ben Wade was treated in another way by its new owner. The fabrication of pipes was reduced and the factory in Leeds was closed in 1965 finally.

So this was the end of Ben Wade pipes stamped “Made in Leeds, England”. https://pipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Wade

The pipe I was working on was stamped “Made in Leeds, England” thus effectively dating it to the period the company was owned by the family. I know that it was made before the closing of the factory in 1965. So I had the last date it could have been made. Judging from the age of the rest of the auction lot my guess would be that this pipe also came from the 1930s. The style and cut of the stem leads me to place it in that period.

I cleaned up the reaming in the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and took the cake back to bare wood. It took some work to smooth out the gouges in the bowl walls. I was able to remove many of them leaving only a remnant behind. I wrapped a dowel with sandpaper and sanded the bowl walls after I had reamed it.ben4a ben5To remove the damage to the rim edges and the top I topped the bowl on the topping board. I did a minimal topping to just even things out and clean up the surface.ben6I scrubbed the bowl surface with acetone on cotton pads to remove the grime and oils that were embedded in the bowl sides. I wanted to get the briar clean so I could retain the natural finish.ben7 ben8I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give the inside rim a light bevel to bring the bowl back into round. I also used in on the outside edge to soften it.ben9With the bowl clean I lightly sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to take out the scratches and smooth out the finish. I sanded it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads as well. When I had finished sanding it I wiped it down with a last wipe of alcohol on a cotton pad in preparation for giving it a light coat of oil. I rubbed the bowl down with olive oil and polished it by hand.ben10 ben11I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the entire stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and the tooth chatter. I “painted” the tooth marks in the stem with a lighter flame until they lifted. I sanded the damaged areas with the sandpaper until the surfaces were smooth and showed no more sign of tooth damage.ben12I wet sanded the saddle portion of the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads and then used Rub ‘n Buff European Gold to fill in the portions of the BW stamp that still showed on the stem surface.ben13I cleaned out the interior of the mortise and the airways in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners until they were no longer dirty and oily. As you can see from the photos below it took a few swabs and cleaners to get to that point.ben14I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads. After the final rubdown with oil I set the stem aside to dry.ben15 ben16 ben17Once the oil had dried I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and then gave them both multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos that follow. It came out quite nice with the grain popping through over the bowl and shank. The pipe will soon join the others in the lot on the return trip to Eastern Canada. Thanks for looking.ben18 ben19 ben20 ben21 ben22 ben23 ben24 ben25


Restoring a Ben Wade Danish Hand Model Free Hand 400

Blog by Steve Laug

The latest pipe that I have on the work table was a beautifully grained Ben Wade Danish Hand Model 400 free hand. It has some amazing flame and straight grain all the way around the bowl. The flat bottom of the bowl has some great birdseye grain. There is plateau on the top of the bowl and on the end of the shank. There appeared to be a smooth inner rim that had been covered with tars and oils. The plateau on the rim was oily and tarry. The valleys were basically filled in and the rough beauty of plateau was hidden under the grime. The smooth bowl sides were dirty with dark spots where hand oil and grime had been rubbed into the finish. Fortunately there were not any dents or scratches on the briar.Ben1

Ben2 The stem was Lucite and quite thick. There were tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem near the button and there was some calcification on the stem top next to the button. The airway in the stem was partially closed off and there was not much airflow being drawn through the stem. The shank airway was also closed partially with oils and tars. The bowl had been reamed before it came to me and was quite clean.Ben3

Ben4 The next two photos are close up pictures of the stem and the bite marks. The first shows the calcification next to the button and the slight damage to the inside button edge. The tooth mark is visible just ahead of the white line on the stem. The stem was also lack luster and the shine was gone. The second photo shows the underside of the stem. It was slightly wavy like it had been pushed to heavily into the buffing wheel. There was a small tooth mark in the same spot as on the upper side of the stem.Ben5

Ben6 I decided to address the issues with the stem first. I used a straightened paper clip bent to the angle of the stem to push through the airway. Pushing from the slot I was unable to get the wire through the airway. I pushed it through from the tenon and a large chunk of tars and pipe cleaner detritus came out of the button. I worked the wire around in the airway to clean the sides and remove any other build up. It appeared to be at the bend in the stem. I then used pipe cleaners and cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol to clean out the airway and remove the remaining tars and oils in the stem and tenon.

I sanded the tooth marks on the topside and underside of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper until I had removed the damaged area. I also wanted to thin the thick Lucite slightly as there was plenty of material to work with. I sanded with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches and see if I had removed the mark. It took repeated sanding with the three grits of sanding material to remove the remnants of the tooth marks.Ben7


Ben9 I continued to sand with the fine grit sanding sponge to minimize the scratches and then sanded the stem with 600 grit wet dry sandpaper. Once I had finished with the sandpaper I used micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between the grits in order to provide the medium for the micromesh to cut better. When I finished I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond plastic polish on the buffing wheel and then gave it several coats of carnauba wax.Ben10


Ben12 I set aside the stem so that I could work on the bowl. When the bowl was finished I would buff the two parts together and also give them another coat of wax. I used a soft bristle brass white wall brush to work on the buildup on the rim and plateau. It was quite thick on the inner edge of the rim. I have learned over time that the tar coat really protects the briar underneath. Once I had removed the tars I would see that.Ben13 I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime and oils that were all over the surface. I used cotton pads to scrub the bowl.Ben14 Once I had removed the grime I washed the exterior of the bowl with running water to remove the soap. The photos below show the clean bowl of the pipe.Ben15



Ben18 I cleaned out the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I wiped down the plateau with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove any remaining dust in preparation for staining.Ben21 I stained all of the plateau areas with a black aniline stain and flamed it. I repeated the process until the coverage was thorough. When it had dried I hand buffed the plateau with a shoe brush until the high points shone and the valleys were slightly darker.Ben22 I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond and then gave the bowl multiple coats of carnauba wax. I finished by buffing it with a clean flannel buff to raise the shine on the bowl and stem. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. Thanks for looking.Ben23