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Restoring Pipe #15 from Bob Kerr’s Estate – A Dunhill Root Briar 51021 Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

With this Dunhill Root Briar my ongoing work on Bob Kerr’s is taking a turn to the smooth finished pipes in the collection. This is the first of the smooth pipes in his Dunhill Collection. I am cleaning them for the family and moving them out into the hands of pipemen and women who will carry on the trust that began with Bob and in some pipes was carried on by Bob. In the collection along with the Dunhills are a good bevy of Petersons, some Comoy’s and Barlings as well as a lot of other pipes – a total of 125 pipes along with a box of parts. This is the largest estate that I have had the opportunity to work on. I put together a spread sheet of the pipes and stampings to create an invoice. I was taking on what would take me a fair amount of time to clean up. I could not pass up the opportunity to work on these pipes though. They were just too tempting.

I sorted the pipes into groups of the various brands and had a box of 25 different Dunhill pipes in different shapes, styles and sizes. I decided to work on the Dunhills first. It was a great chance to see the shape variety up close and personal. The photo below shows the box of Dunhill pipes.With the completion of the restoration on this one there are only 11 more Dunhills of the original 25 left to work on – all smooth finished pipes in a variety of shapes. I went through the box of the remaining smooth Dunhills shown above and chose the 15th and first smooth finish pipe to work on – a smooth Root Briar Bent Billiard. It is stamped on the left side of the shank with the shape number 51021 followed by Dunhill over Root Briar. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Made in England 21 which tells me it is made in 1982. The 5 digit stamping gives a lot of pertinent information about the pipe. The first digit, 5 says that the size of the pipe is a Group 5. The second digit 1 identifies the pipe as having a tapered stem. The 02 identifies it as a bent pipe and the final 1 says it is a billiard. The bent round shank flows into a tapered stem that is oxidized and has tooth marks and chatter near the button. There is some calcification on the first inch of the stem ahead of the button and there is some light damage to the top of the button. The smooth Root Briar finish is dirty but like the other pipes in Bob’s collection there is something quite beautiful about the cross grain on the pipe. The bowl had a thick cake and thick lava overflow on the rim top. The bowl appears to be a little out of round with slight damage on the front inner edge of the rim. After cleaning I will know more. I took pictures of the pipe before I started working on it. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem to show what I was dealing with. This Root Briar Bent Billiard had some damage on the inner edge of the bowl toward the front as can be seen in the photo. The cake in the bowl was quite thick and the lava on the rim top was also thick. You can see the cake and tobacco in the bowl. The stem was dirty, oxidized, calcified and had a lot of tooth chatter on the top and underside for about an inch ahead of the button.I took a photo of the stamping on both sides of the shank. Part of the stamping was very sharp and readable and other parts were fainter and needed bright light.Since this is the 15th pipe from Bob’s estate I am sure you have read at least some of the other restoration work that has been done on the 14 previous pipes. You have also read what I have included about Bob Kerr, the pipeman who held these pipes in trust before I came to work on them. Also, if you have followed the blog for long you will already know that I like to include background information on the pipeman whose pipes I am restoring. For me, when I am working on an estate I really like to have a sense of the person who held the pipes in trust before I worked on them. It gives me another dimension of the restoration work. I asked Brian if he or his wife would like to write a brief biographical tribute to her father, Bob. His daughter worked on it and I received the following short write up on him and some pictures to go along with the words. Once again I thank you Brian and tell your wife thank you as well.

I am delighted to pass on these beloved pipes of my father’s. I hope each user gets many hours of contemplative pleasure as he did. I remember the aroma of tobacco in the rec room, as he put up his feet on his lazy boy. He’d be first at the paper then, no one could touch it before him. Maybe there would be a movie on with an actor smoking a pipe. He would have very definite opinions on whether the performer was a ‘real’ smoker or not, a distinction which I could never see but it would be very clear to him. He worked by day as a sales manager of a paper products company, a job he hated. What he longed for was the life of an artist, so on the weekends and sometimes mid-week evenings he would journey to his workshop and come out with wood sculptures, all of which he declared as crap but every one of them treasured by my sister and myself. Enjoy the pipes, and maybe a little of his creative spirit will enter you!

I have included one of Bob’s wood carvings to give you an idea of what he daughter wrote about above. You can see his artistry in the carving that is patterned after British Columbia’s Coastal First Nations people. To me this is a sea otter but perhaps a reader may enlighten us.

Having already worked on 15 other pipes from Bob’s estate I think I understood how he used and viewed his pipes. I am just starting my work on the smooth finished pipes with this Root Briar. I had learned to tell which pipes were his favoured ones and which were his work horses. He really loved his billiards. I could get a sense of the ones that accompanied him into his carving shop. I think this would have been one of his resting pipes – not a shop pipe. In many ways it was as if he was standing over my shoulder while I cleaned up his pipes.

With that in mind I turned to work on the 15th pipe. I reamed the bowl to remove the cake on the walls and the debris of tobacco shards that still remained. I used a PipNet pipe reamer to start the process. I followed that with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to clean up the remaining cake in the conical bottom of the bowl. I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. It smooths out the walls and also helps bring the inner edges back to round. I cleaned up the rim top and removed the thick lava coat in the rim. I used the Savinelli Fitsall knife to scrape away the high spots of lava and some worn 220 grit sandpaper and a 1500 grit micromesh pad to work on the rim top and remove the buildup there. I worked over the damaged inner edge of the rim with 220 grit sandpaper to bring the bowl back to round and remove the damage. I polished the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. Each successive pad brought more shine to the rim top. I wiped the rim down with a damp cotton pad after each sanding pad. I used an Oak coloured stain pen to blend the polished rim top into the rest of the briar. The oak colour was a perfect match for the colour of the bowl.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl and the rim top. I worked it into the surface 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 the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl looked like at this point. I scraped out the inside of the mortise with a dental spatula to break away the tarry buildup on the walls of the shank. (Sometimes I use a pen knife and sometimes a dental spatula depending on the diameter of the mortise.) I cleaned out the internals of the bowl, shank and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until they came out clean. It was very dirty in the shank and stem but now it not only looks clean but smells clean.  I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I cleaned off the stem with a light sanding to remove the oxidation near the tooth marks. I filled in the deep tooth marks on the topside next to the button and the one on the underside as well with black super glue and set the stem aside so the glue could cure.When the repair had cured I used a needle file to redefine the sharp edge of the button and flatten out the patches. I sanded the repaired areas to blend them into the surface of the stem. I also sanded out the tooth marks and chatter on the surface of the vulcanite with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I followed the 220 grit sandpaper with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to minimize the scratching. The two papers combined did a pretty decent job of getting rid of the tooth marks and chatter as well as the oxidation and calcification. I polished the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish to take out the oxidation at the button edge and on the end of the mouthpiece. I also worked hard to scrub it from the surface of the stem at the tenon end.  I polished out the scratches with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The cross grain and birdseye grain that show up in the polished bowl looked good with the polished black vulcanite. This Dunhill Root Briar 51021 Bent Billiard will soon heading off to India to join Paresh’s rotation. It really has that classic Dunhill Bent Billiard look that catches the eye. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 1/2 inches, Height: 2 1/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This is the 15th Dunhill Briar from the many pipes that will be coming onto the work table from the estate. With this one I have begun my work on the smooth Dunhill Pipes. What will follow is 10 more smooth finished Dunhills – Root Briar, Bruyere etc. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. I am having fun working on this estate.

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Refurbishing my Inherited Large “Soren” Pickaxe Freehand


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

It’s been two months since I had worked on a free hand pipe that was made in Denmark, the last being a “Soren” sitter. The next pipe that I decided to work on from my grandfather’s collection is again a “SOREN”, but this pipe is a monster sized Pick Axe with a humongous bowl!!

The large pick axe stummel has a combination of smooth and rusticated surface covering the bowl. The cascading water flow like hand carved rustication extends from the front left side of the bowl to the back while the smooth surface covers most of the front and complete right side of the bowl. Beautiful swirls of grains can be seen on the smooth surface interspersed with flame grains extending upwards from half way of the front of the bowl. The plateau shank end is flared towards the shank end and boasts of lovely flame grains on the right side of the shank. The flared shank end bears the only stamping seen on this pipe. It is stamped as “Soren”, name of the carver in script hand over “HAND-CARVED” over “MADE IN DENMARK” in block capital letters. The fancy vulcanite stem is devoid of any stampings.

While working on my Soren sitter free hand, I had referred to pipedia.com for information on this famous pipe carver from Denmark. I reproduce the information available on pipedia.com for a quick read.

 “Søren Refbjerg Rasmussen founded a company in 1969, which employed an average of 8 – 12 craftsmen in the 1970’s. The semi-freehands they produced were traded under his prename Søren. Rasmussen himself finished only the very best pipes. So his way of pipemaking closely resembled the ways of Preben Holm, Karl Erik Ottendahl or Erik Nørding. Altogether more than 1,000,000 pipes were sold.

Today he works alone as Refbjerg and manufactures only a small number of pipes in his workshop in DK-2860 Søborg, which are considered to be tremendously precisely executed. The dimensions mostly range from small to medium sized, corresponding to his personal preferences. The shapes adhere to the classical models, but often he gives them a touch of Danish flair. Refbjerg accepts minor faults but never uses any fillings. “Straight Grain” is the only grading, used for his very best pieces. He likes stem decorations made of exotic woods or metal rings.

As Rainer Barbi once stated “Refbjerg uses only briar from Corsica and more than that, he’s the one and only to import it from there, at least in Europe. He’s supplier to the vast majority of the Danish makers”.

From the above, it can be safely assumed that this pipe was made in the 1970’s as it bears the stamp of the carver’s prename “Soren”!!

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
There is a thick layer of cake in the bowl. The external surface of the stummel feels solid to the touch and I think there are no issues with the condition of the chamber. However, there are always surprises when you least expect them!!! I have learnt my lessons!!! Thus, condition of the inner walls of the chamber will be ascertained once the chamber has been reamed and the cake is taken back to the bare briar. There is a strong sweet smell of tobacco which may reduce once the cake has been reamed out and chamber has been cleaned with isopropyl alcohol.The plateau rim top and shank end is covered in the overflow of lava, dirt and grime. This will have to be cleaned. The condition of the inner edge will be determined only after removing the cake. The air way in the shank is clogged with oils and tars and will require a thorough cleaning. The stummel is covered in a thick layer of dust, dirt, oils and grime. The stummel looks dull and lackluster. The grains on the smooth surface and the sandblast rustications are all covered in tars, oils and grime. To be able to appreciate these grains and rustications, the stummel will have to be cleaned. However, there is not a single fill to be seen on this large briar estate. A few minor dents and dings are seen on the stummel surface, a result of uncared for storage over a prolonged period. This issue can be sorted out by sanding the stummel surface with a sand paper, followed by micromesh sanding and polishing. The fancy quarter bent vulcanite stem is heavily oxidized and two deep bite marks can be seen on the lower surface of the stem. The lips on both upper and lower surface show significant damage due to bite marks and are out of shape. I hope to address these issues by simple heating of the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter. The air way in the stem appears to be clogged and the air flow is laborious to say the least. This will be addressed by thorough internal stem cleaning with pipe cleaners and alcohol. There is calcification seen on either surface about an inch from the button end. The bottom of lip edge shows significant deposition of dirt and oxidation. This will have to be cleaned.THE PROCESS
I started this project by reaming the chamber with size 2 and followed it up to size 4 head of PipNet reamer. I used a 220 grit sand paper, pinched between my thumb and forefinger, to sand the inner walls of the chamber of the pipe. Once I had reached the bare briar, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This removed all the residual carbon dust but this time not the ghost smells. This cleaning revealed the first (and pray it to be the last!!) surprise. There are a few very thin webs of line seen along the front and left side of the chamber walls and one slightly larger gash on the left side. This gash is highlighted in a red circle. I shall address this issue at the end of the restoration by coating the walls with a mixture of activated charcoal and yogurt. This coating will aid in quicker formation of a fresh cake.I followed up the reaming by cleaning the mortise and air way of the pipe using hard bristled, regular pipe cleaners and q-tips dipped in alcohol. The mortise and the draught hole was so chock-a- block with all the dried tars, oils and gunk that I had to use my fabricated spatula to scrape out all the muck from the mortise and the draught hole!!!! I gave a final clean with shank brushes dipped in alcohol and dried the mortise with a rolled paper napkin. The shank internals and the draught hole are now nice and clean with an open and full draw. The issue of sweet smells of old tobacco was also reduced to a very large extent.I cleaned out the internals of the stem using hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol. I scraped the dried oils and tars from the tenon with the sharp edge of my fabricated dental spatula. The deep bite marks on the stem and lip edges were flamed with the flame of a Bic lighter.  This helps to raise the bite marks to the surface. However, this did not work. From my experience, I have learnt that getting rid of the oxidation from and around the surface to be filled helps in subsequent better blending of the fill with the stem surface. With a folded piece of used 150 grit sand paper, I sand the area that is required to be filled. I cleaned the sanded portion of the stem with cotton pad dipped in alcohol and spot filled the damaged area with a mixture of activated charcoal and clear superglue. I set the stem aside for the fill to cure. Now, it was the turn of the stummel of the pipe to get cleaned up. Using a hard bristled tooth brush dipped in undiluted Murphy’s oil soap, I very deliberately scrubbed the stummel, cleaning the surface thoroughly. Special attention was paid to scrub out all the dirt and dust from the crevices in the rustication on the sides and front of the stummel as well as the plateau rim top and shank end. I was surprised to note that while rinsing the pipe under tap water, the water ran a bright orange color. Residual orange color can be seen on the stummel, probably due to a coating of shellac!!! I do not like it and will have to get rid of it, period. The stummel, plateau shank end and rim top were dried using paper napkins and soft cotton cloth. The cleaning of the stummel revealed the second surprise!! There was a sticky and soft spot present in the rusticated portion on the stummel; this has been marked in a red circle below. When I scrubbed the stummel, it was revealed that this fill had gone soft. I dug out the old and soft fill with my fabricated sharp knife. The alignment of this fill roughly matched with that of the larger gash observed on the left side of the chamber wall. I discussed this issue with my guru, Mr. Steve, after he had seen the pictures of the damage. It was decided that the fill would be refreshed and the inner walls of the chamber should be coated with a layer of activated charcoal and yogurt. There were three other very minor fills; two on the shank end and one in the rusticated portion of the stummel at the back of the bowl. These have been circled in red. Before progressing ahead with any further restoration, I decided to address the issues of “fills” in the stummel!!!!! I completely removed the old fills using a sharp, pointed and thin fabricated knife. I press a little briar dust and realizing what a precious commodity it is, I was very careful not to waste even a microgram. I packed it in to the gouges on the stummel, pressing it tightly with the back of a toothpick and spot applied CA superglue over it with the pointed end of the toothpick. I spot filled the shank end fills with only CA superglue as they were not large and deep. With this, I set the stummel aside for the fresh fills to cure.After the fills had cured, I sand these fills using a flat head and a round needle file to achieve a rough match with the surrounding surface. With a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper, I sand the fills in the rusticated portion to match it with the worm trails in the rustication. I wiped the entire stummel with a cotton swab soaked in acetone to remove the coating of shellac, but without the expected results. The stummel still has that orange coloration. I further sand the entire smooth surface of the stummel with a piece of folded 150, 220, 440, 600 and 1000 grit sand paper to perfectly match the fills with the rest of the stummel surface and also to achieve my aim of completely removing the shellac coating, but the coloration still persists. Hopefully, remnants of the shellac coat will be addressed during the micromesh sanding and polishing process. This use of sand paper, however, addressed all issues of the dents and dings from the stummel surface!! I wanted to remove the coating of shellac while highlighting the grains seen on the smooth portion of the stummel. To achieve this aim, I sand down the stummel using micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stummel with a moist cloth to clean the surface of all the dust after wet sanding. The orange coloration on the stummel can be gauged by the color of my hand. I was still not happy with the results of the micromesh sanding. Using a dark brown stain pen, I darkened the worm trails in an attempt highlight and add contrast against the raised portions in the rustication. I was not satisfied with the way the pipe looked at this stage. It was still “loud” and appeared gaudy. I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar and let it rest for a few minutes. I took some extra efforts to work the balm in to the hand carved rustications on the bowl. I hand buffed it with a horse hair brush to a deep shine. I had assumed that this would help improve the look of the stummel. Alas!! That was not to be the result. The bowl still appeared ugly and definitely did not measure up to my standards. I was lost for ideas when I shared pictures of the stummel with my guru, Mr. Steve. This is what he saw. In his characteristic style, Mr. Steve suggested that “I would first get rid of the dark stain in the worm trails by wiping the entire stummel and then re-staining it”. This is exactly what I did. I wiped the stummel with a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol and removed all the stain. Mr. Steve had sent me sachets of easy-to-use stain powder which just needed to be mixed in isopropyl alcohol and applied to the stummel surface. I chose the Walnut stain. Since this was the first time that I would be using a stain, I was a bit apprehensive. I mixed a little quantity of the stain powder and mixed it with a little quantity of 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol to a liquid consistency. I have purposely not mentioned any specific quantity of each as I had mixed the two just by relying on feel and visual confirmation. I was fortunate that I got the mix spot on in the first attempt. There is a lot of leeway in this process in that if the stain appears too dark after application, desired transparency could be achieved by wiping the stummel with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol!!!! I folded a pipe cleaner and evenly applied the stain over the complete stummel, plateau rim and shank end. This was followed by burning excess of alcohol with the flame of a Bic lighter. This also helps the stain to set on the stummel surface. Just a word of caution to all first timers like me, please wear either plastic or latex rubber gloves if you wish to avoid the struggle of removing the stains from your hands later!!! I wiped the stummel surface with a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol as the stain was slightly darker and unevenly applied than I would have liked. This helped in bringing more transparency and evenness in the stain application. Once the stain had set, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my local machine which is similar to a Dremel.  I set the speed at about half of the full power and applied White Diamond compound to stummel of the pipe. I wiped/ buffed the pipe with another clean cotton cloth buffing wheel to clear it of any leftover compound dust. I then mounted another cotton cloth wheel on to the polishing machine and applied several coats of carnauba wax over the stummel. I finished by giving the stummel a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The grains on the stummel now look beautiful and peek through the stain. I shared the pictures of the stummel with Mr. Steve who appreciated the look of the stummel at this stage. With the stummel nice and clean and attractive, I worked the stem of the pipe. The fill on the stem had cured nicely and I sand it down with a flat head needle file. I sharpened the lip edges using a needle file and sand the entire stem with 220 followed by 400, 800 and 1000 grit sand paper. This helps to reduce the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper, while this process eliminated the deep oxidation seen on the vulcanite stem of the pipe. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with alcohol after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil. The internals of the stem was cleaned out using alcohol and pipe cleaners. The pictures of the process and final results are shown below. The only issue remaining to be addressed, before I could proceed with the final polish, was the deeper gash seen in the walls of the chamber. I mixed activated charcoal and yogurt to a consistency which would enable an even spread and applied it on the inner walls of the chamber and set it aside to cure it overnight.To finish, I re-attach the stem with the stummel. I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my local machine which is similar to a Dremel. I set the speed at about half of the full power and applied White Diamond compound to stummel of the pipe. I wiped/ buffed the pipe with a soft cotton cloth to clear it of any leftover compound dust. I then mounted another cotton cloth wheel on to the polishing machine and applied several coats of carnauba wax over the stummel and the stem. I finished the restoration by giving the pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The completed pipe, with the dark brown hues of the stummel contrasting with the shiny black stem, looks lovely, fresh and vibrant; the photographs speak for themselves. The beauty, size and shape of this pipe make it one of my favorite and will find a place of pride in my modest collection. If only the pipe could tell some of the stories and incidents that it has witnessed while my grand old man puffed away.…………… Cheers!!! PS: The oversized and shape of the stummel coupled with an equally proportionately long stem, posed a challenge while taking pictures of the complete finished pipe!!!! This is one of the many areas where I need to make a lot of progress. If I am unable to capture the beauty of the finished pipe and present it in an attractive manner, I feel my efforts are in vain.

 

Restoring the 13th Pipe from Bob Kerr’s Estate – A Dunhill Tanshell FE F/T Prince


Blog by Steve Laug

In my ongoing work on Bob Kerr’s Estate I feel like I am finally making a dent. I am working my way through the Dunhills in his collection – the Shell and Tanshell pipes. I am cleaning them for the family and moving them out into the hands of pipemen and women who will carry on the trust that began with Bob and in some pipes was carried on by Bob. In the collection along with the Dunhills are a good bevy of Petersons, some Comoy’s and Barlings as well as a lot of other pipes – a total of 125 pipes along with a box of parts. This is the largest estate that I have had the opportunity to work on. I put together a spread sheet of the pipes and stampings to create an invoice. I was taking on what would take me a fair amount of time to clean up. I could not pass up the opportunity to work on these pipes though. They were just too tempting. I sorted the pipes into groups of the various brands and had a box of 25 different Dunhill pipes in different shapes, styles and sizes. I decided to work on the Dunhills first. It was a great chance to see the shape variety up close and personal. The photo below shows the box of Dunhill pipes.

I am making progress on the 25 Dunhills with only 12 more to go. I went through the box of Dunhills shown above and chose the 13th sandblast pipe to work on – it is another Group 4 but this time a Tanshell Prince. It is stamped on the underside of the bowl heel and the shank with the following information. The letters FE F/T which make this a Prince shape with a Fantail stem are followed by Dunhill over Tanshell. Next to that it is stamped Made in England 7 – which dates it as being made in 1968. That is followed by a Circle 4T – Group 4 size Tan Shell. The round shank flows into a tapered fishtail stem that is oxidized and has tooth marks and chatter near the button. There is some calcification on the first inch of the stem ahead of the button and there is some light damage to the top of the button. The Tanshell finish is dirty but nonetheless there is something quite beautiful about the pipe. There is grime and tars filling in much of the craggy finish. The bowl had a thick cake and some lava overflowed on the rim top. There appears to be a little damage on the front inner edge of the rim but after cleaning I will know more. I took pictures of the pipe before I started working on it. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem to show what I was dealing with. This Tanshell Prince was in decent shape all things considered. The cake in the bowl was quite thick and the lava on the rim top was also very present. You can see the cake and tobacco in the bowl. The stem was dirty, oxidized, calcified and had a lot of tooth chatter on the top and underside for about an inch ahead of the button.I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the bowl and shank. It was very weak but still readable under bright light with a lens.I removed the stem and was surprised to find that a repairman had replaced an obviously broken tenon with a white nylon/Teflon tenon. It fit perfectly but was a surprise nonetheless.I am sure if you have read the restoration work on the previous pipes you have already read what I included about Bob Kerr, the pipeman who held these pipes in trust before I came to work on them. Also, if you have followed the blog for long you will already know that I like to include background information on the pipeman whose pipes I am restoring. For me, when I am working on an estate I really like to have a sense of the person who held the pipes in trust before I worked on them. It gives me another dimension of the restoration work. I asked Brian if he or his wife would like to write a brief biographical tribute to her father, Bob. His daughter worked on it and I received the following short write up on him and some pictures to go along with the words. Thank you Brian and tell your wife thank you as well.

I am delighted to pass on these beloved pipes of my father’s. I hope each user gets many hours of contemplative pleasure as he did. I remember the aroma of tobacco in the rec room, as he put up his feet on his lazy boy. He’d be first at the paper then, no one could touch it before him. Maybe there would be a movie on with an actor smoking a pipe. He would have very definite opinions on whether the performer was a ‘real’ smoker or not, a distinction which I could never see but it would be very clear to him. He worked by day as a sales manager of a paper products company, a job he hated. What he longed for was the life of an artist, so on the weekends and sometimes mid-week evenings he would journey to his workshop and come out with wood sculptures, all of which he declared as crap but every one of them treasured by my sister and myself. Enjoy the pipes, and maybe a little of his creative spirit will enter you!

I have included one of Bob’s wood carvings to give you an idea of what he daughter wrote about above. You can see his artistry in the carving that is patterned after British Columbia’s Coastal First Nations people. To me this is a sea otter but perhaps a reader may enlighten us.Having already worked on 12 other pipes from Bob’s estate I had a pretty well knew how he used and viewed his pipes. I am coming to the end of the Shell and Tanshell pipes (1 more Shell Briar billiard to go). I had learned to tell which pipes were his favoured ones and which were his work horses. I could get a sense of the ones that accompanied him into his carving shop. In many ways it was as if he was standing over my shoulder while I cleaned up his pipes. This particular pipe was tired but the cake and lava on the rim should have been more. With the stem off and seeing that it was a repair pipe I could understand why. This one would have been an earlier repair than the billiard I just finished.With that in mind I turned to work on the 13th of his pipes. I reamed the bowl to remove the cake on the walls and the debris of tobacco shards that still remained. I used a PipNet pipe reamer to start the process. I followed that with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to clean up the remaining cake in the conical bottom of the bowl. I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. It smooths out the walls and also helps bring the inner edges back to round. With the bowl reamed it was time to work on the rim top and remove the thick lava coat in the blast of the rim. I used the Savinelli Fitsall knife to scrape away the high spots of lava and a brass bristle tire brush to work on the rim top and remove the buildup there. It also worked to minimize the rim damage a bit.With the bowl reamed and rim top cleaned I scrubbed the sandblast finish. This is pretty much my process in cleaning either sandblast or rusticated finishes. I scrubbed it with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the grooves and canyons of the blast. I worked over the tarry lava overflow on the rim with the tooth brush and a brass brush. I rinsed the pipe under running water to remove the grime. I dried it off with a soft towel. The pictures below show the finish after scrubbing and rinsing. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the sandblast finish of the bowl and the rim top. I worked it into the nooks and crannies of the sandblast surface 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 and then polished it with a horsehair shoe brush. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl looked like at this point. I scraped out the inside of the mortise with a dental spatula to break away the tarry buildup on the walls of the shank. I cleaned out the internals of the bowl, shank and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until they came out clean. It was very dirty in the shank and stem but now it not only looks clean but smells clean.   I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a shoe brush after each coat of wax to raise the shine. The bowl looks really good at this point. The sandblast grain just shines and is showing all of the different layers of colour that make up a Dunhill Tanshell finish. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the majority of the marks and tooth chatter on the surface of the vulcanite with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I followed the 220 grit sandpaper with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to minimize the scratching. The two papers combined did a pretty decent job of getting rid of the tooth marks and chatter as well as the oxidation and calcification. I cleaned up the Teflon/Delrin white tenon as much as possible without changing the diameter.I polished the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish to take out the oxidation at the button edge and on the end of the mouthpiece. I also worked hard to scrub it from the surface of the stem at the tenon end.  I polished out the scratches with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar, the nickel band and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The contrast of colours that show up in the sandblast of the Tanshell briar bowl looked good with the polished black vulcanite. This Tanshell FE F/T Prince will soon be heading to India to be enjoyed by the next pipeman who has taken on the trust of Bob’s pipes. It really has that classic Dunhill Prince shape that catches the eye. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 ¼ inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This is the 13th Dunhill and the 2nd Tanshell from the many pipes that will be coming onto the work table from the estate. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. I am having fun working on this estate.

Restoring the 12th Pipe from Bob Kerr’s Estate – A Dunhill Shell Briar 197 F/T Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

In my ongoing work on Bob Kerr’s Estate I seem to be making a dent. I am working my way through the Dunhills in his collection – the Shell and Tanshell pipes. I am cleaning them for the family and moving them out into the hands of pipemen and women who will carry on the trust that began with Bob and in some pipes was carried on by Bob. In the collection along with the Dunhills are a good bevy of Petersons, some Comoy’s and Barlings as well as a lot of other pipes – a total of 125 pipes along with a box of parts. This is the largest estate that I have had the opportunity to work on. I put together a spread sheet of the pipes and stampings to create an invoice. I was taking on what would take me a fair amount of time to clean up. I could not pass up the opportunity to work on these pipes though. They were just too tempting.

I sorted the pipes into groups of the various brands and had a box of 25 different Dunhill pipes in different shapes, styles and sizes. I decided to work on the Dunhills first. It was a great chance to see the shape variety up close and personal. The photo below shows the box of Dunhill pipes.I am making progress on the 25 Dunhills with only 13 more to go. I went through the box of Dunhills shown above and chose the 12th sandblast pipe to work on – another Group 4 Shell Billiard with a long repair band. It is stamped on the underside of the bowl heel and the shank with the following information. The shape number 197 F/T is on the heel followed by Dunhill over Shell Briar. The Made in England stamp and any size or date stamp has been obscured by the long repair band on a cracked shank covers the rest of the stamping so I cannot date it. The nickel band is split but since it is glued in place it is not movable and will be left as is. The nickel band is a bit overwhelming in terms of it being the first thing that catches the eye. There is not much to be done with that. The round shank and band however flow into a tapered fishtail stem that is oxidized and has tooth marks and chatter near the button. There is some calcification on the first inch of the stem ahead of the button and there is some light damage to the top of the button. The Shell Briar finish is dirty but nonetheless there is something quite beautiful about the repaired pipe. There is grime and tars filling in much of the craggy finish. The bowl had a light cake and some lava overflowed on the rim top. Bob had gone to a lot of work to repair this one and keep it in his rotation. I think there is still a lot of life left in this little billiard. With a little work this pipe would look good once again. I took pictures of the pipe before I started working on it. I took some close up photos of the rim top, stem and the banded shank to show what I was dealing with. Judging from the condition this little billiard was in and the amount of work that went into banding and repairing the shank, I think I can safely say that it was another one of Bob’s favourite pipes. The cake in the bowl not quite as thick and the lava on the rim top was less so it makes me wonder how long after he repaired it that he actually used this pipe. You can see the cake and tobacco in the bowl. The stem was dirty, oxidized, calcified and had a lot of tooth chatter on the top and underside for about an inch ahead of the button. You can see the length of the nickel band on the shank but what you cannot see is what is visible with a light down the shank. The band holds together several cracks in the shank. They have been well repaired and the band has been glued in place and fitted nicely to the shank.I took a photo of the underside of the band to show the split in the nickel. It is smooth and has been glued to the shank so it is not easily removable and also not necessary to remove. I will need to fill in the crack and sand and polish it smooth.I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the bowl and shank. It was weak but still readable.

I am sure if you have read the restoration work on the previous pipes you have already read what I included about Bob Kerr, the pipeman who held these pipes in trust before I came to work on them. Also, if you have followed the blog for long you will already know that I like to include background information on the pipeman whose pipes I am restoring. For me, when I am working on an estate I really like to have a sense of the person who held the pipes in trust before I worked on them. It gives me another dimension of the restoration work. I asked Brian if he or his wife would like to write a brief biographical tribute to her father, Bob. His daughter worked on it and I received the following short write up on him and some pictures to go along with the words. Thank you Brian and tell your wife thank you as well.

I am delighted to pass on these beloved pipes of my father’s. I hope each user gets many hours of contemplative pleasure as he did. I remember the aroma of tobacco in the rec room, as he put up his feet on his lazy boy. He’d be first at the paper then, no one could touch it before him. Maybe there would be a movie on with an actor smoking a pipe. He would have very definite opinions on whether the performer was a ‘real’ smoker or not, a distinction which I could never see but it would be very clear to him. He worked by day as a sales manager of a paper products company, a job he hated. What he longed for was the life of an artist, so on the weekends and sometimes mid-week evenings he would journey to his workshop and come out with wood sculptures, all of which he declared as crap but every one of them treasured by my sister and myself. Enjoy the pipes, and maybe a little of his creative spirit will enter you!

I have included one of Bob’s wood carvings to give you an idea of what he daughter wrote about above. You can see his artistry in the carving that is patterned after British Columbia’s Coastal First Nations people. To me this is a sea otter but perhaps a reader may enlighten us.

Having already worked on 11 other pipes from Bob’s estate I had a pretty good feel for how he used and viewed his pipes. I am coming to the end of the Shell and Tanshell pipes (2 more to go). I learned to tell which pipes were his favoured ones and which were his work horses. I could get a sense of the ones that accompanied him into his carving shop. In many ways it was as if he was standing over my shoulder while I cleaned up his pipes. With that in mind I turned to work on the 12th of his pipes. I reamed the bowl to remove the cake on the walls and the debris of tobacco shards that still remained. I used a PipNet pipe reamer to start the process. I followed that with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to clean up the remaining cake in the conical bottom of the bowl. I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. It smooths out the walls and also helps bring the inner edges back to round. With the bowl reamed it was time to work on the rim top and remove the thick lava coat in the blast of the rim. I used the Savinelli Fitsall knife to scrape away the high spots of lava and a brass bristle tire brush to work on the rim top and remove the buildup there. It also worked to minimize the rim damage a bit.With the bowl reamed and rim top cleaned I scrubbed the sandblast finish. This is pretty much my process in cleaning either sandblast or rusticated finishes. I scrubbed it with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the grooves and canyons of the blast. I worked over the tarry lava overflow on the rim with the tooth brush and a brass brush. I rinsed the pipe under running water to remove the grime. I dried it off with a soft towel. The pictures below show the finish after scrubbing and rinsing. The outer edges of the rim were in good condition but the finish was worn off so I used a Mahogany stain pen to touch up the rim top and edges. I have found that particular stain pen matches the colours on the Shell Briar quite well. It is transparent enough to let the other under colours show through and blends in well with the existing stain.I decided to work on the crack in the nickel band first. I fill in the small open areas with clear super glue. It has the advantage of not only being clear but will also flow underneath the band bonding it to the briar. Once the glue cured I sanded the repaired area with micromesh sanding pads to smooth it out. I polished the band with the micromesh pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the band down with a cotton pad after each sanding. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the sandblast finish of the bowl and the rim top. I worked it into the nooks and crannies of the sandblast surface 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 and then polished it with a horsehair shoe brush. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl looked like at this point. I scraped out the inside of the mortise with a dental spatula to break away the tarry buildup on the walls of the shank. I cleaned out the internals of the bowl, shank and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until they came out clean. It was very dirty in the shank and stem but now it not only looks clean but smells clean. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a shoe brush after each coat of wax to raise the shine. The bowl looks really good at this point. The sandblast grain just shines and is showing all of the different layers of colour that make up a Dunhill Shell finish. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the majority of the marks and tooth chatter on the surface of the vulcanite with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I followed the 220 grit sandpaper with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to minimize the scratching. The two papers combined did a pretty decent job of getting rid of the tooth marks and chatter as well as the oxidation and calcification. As I work on this stem, I am pretty sure that the tenon is Delrin. That makes sense – a broken shank and a snapped tenon. It is not too often that I get to sing the praises of another repair person. But I have to because this repair guy was amazing. He did a great job on rebuilding this old guy and giving it life.I polished the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish to take out the oxidation at the button edge and on the end of the mouthpiece. I also worked hard to scrub it from the surface of the stem at the tenon end.  I polished out the scratches with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar, the nickel band and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The contrast of colours that show up in the sandblast of the Shell briar bowl looked good with the polished black vulcanite. The long nickel band actually does not look too bad and this well repaired Shell Briar 197 F/T Billiard has a long life ahead of it for the next pipeman who takes on the trust of Bob’s pipes. It really has that classic Dunhill look that catches the eye. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 1/2 inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This is the 12th Dunhill and the 11th Shell from the many pipes that will be coming onto the work table from the estate. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. I am having fun working on this estate.

Restoring the 11th Pipe from Bob Kerr’s Estate – A Dunhill Shell Briar 104 F/T Oval Shank Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

In my ongoing work on Bob Kerr’s Estate I seem to be making a dent. I am working my way through the Dunhills in his collection – the Shell and Tanshell pipes. I am cleaning them for the family and moving them out into the hands of pipemen and women who will carry on the trust that began with Bob and in some pipes was carried on by Bob. In the collection along with the Dunhills are a good bevy of Petersons, some Comoy’s and Barlings as well as a lot of other pipes – a total of 125 pipes along with a box of parts. This is the largest estate that I have had the opportunity to work on. I put together a spread sheet of the pipes and stampings to create an invoice. I was taking on what would take me a fair amount of time to clean up. I could not pass up the opportunity to work on these pipes though. They were just too tempting.

I sorted the pipes into groups of the various brands and had a box of 25 different Dunhill pipes in different shapes, styles and sizes. I decided to work on the Dunhills first. It was a great chance to see the shape variety up close and personal. The photo below shows the box of Dunhill pipes.I am making progress on the 25 Dunhills with only 14 more to go. I went through the box of Dunhills shown above and chose the 11th sandblast pipe to work on – another Group 4 Shell Billiard with an oval shank and tapered stem. It is stamped on the underside of the bowl heel and the shank with the following information. On the heel it reads 104F/T which is the shape number followed by Dunhill over Shell Briar. That is followed by Made in England 0 which would identify it as made in 1960. Next to the stem/shank junction (under the band) is a 4S which gives the size of this Shell pipe. Stem is oxidized, tooth marks and chatter near the button, some calcification. The oval shank of this billiard flows into a tapered stem that is oxidized and has tooth marks and chatter near the button. There is some calcification on the first inch of the stem ahead of the button and there is some light damage to the top of the button. The Shell Briar finish is dirty but nonetheless is beautiful. There is grime and tars filling in much of the craggy finish. The bowl had a thick cake and lava overflowed on the rim top. The inner edge of the bowl shows some damage but the extent will not be clear until the bowl is reamed and the rim top cleaned. The shank has a nickel repair band that really cheapens the look. It is loose so I plan on examining the shank carefully to see if it is really necessary or was just added as bling. With a little work this pipe would look good once again. I took pictures of the pipe before I started working on it. I took some close up photos of the rim top and stem to show what I was dealing with. Judging from the condition this little billiard was in I think I can safely say that it was another one of Bob’s favourite pipes. The cake in the bowl is another thick one and the lava on the rim top is also very thick. You can see the cake and tobacco in the bowl. The stem was dirty, oxidized, calcified and had a lot of tooth chatter on the top and underside for about an inch ahead of the button. The button surface was also marked with tooth chatter. I removed the loose band from the shank so I could read the stamping on the shank. I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the bowl and shank. It was clear and readable.I am sure if you have read the restoration work on the previous 8 pipes you have already read what I included about Bob Kerr, the pipeman who held these pipes in trust before I came to work on them. Also, if you have followed the blog for long you will already know that I like to include background information on the pipeman whose pipes I am restoring. For me, when I am working on an estate I really like to have a sense of the person who held the pipes in trust before I worked on them. It gives me another dimension of the restoration work. I asked Brian if he or his wife would like to write a brief biographical tribute to her father, Bob. His daughter worked on it and I received the following short write up on him and some pictures to go along with the words. Thank you Brian and tell your wife thank you as well.

I am delighted to pass on these beloved pipes of my father’s. I hope each user gets many hours of contemplative pleasure as he did. I remember the aroma of tobacco in the rec room, as he put up his feet on his lazy boy. He’d be first at the paper then, no one could touch it before him. Maybe there would be a movie on with an actor smoking a pipe. He would have very definite opinions on whether the performer was a ‘real’ smoker or not, a distinction which I could never see but it would be very clear to him. He worked by day as a sales manager of a paper products company, a job he hated. What he longed for was the life of an artist, so on the weekends and sometimes mid-week evenings he would journey to his workshop and come out with wood sculptures, all of which he declared as crap but every one of them treasured by my sister and myself. Enjoy the pipes, and maybe a little of his creative spirit will enter you!

I have included one of Bob’s wood carvings to give you an idea of what he daughter wrote about above. You can see his artistry in the carving that is patterned after British Columbia’s Coastal First Nations people. To me this is a sea otter but perhaps a reader may enlighten us.Having already worked on 10 other pipes from Bob’s estate I had a pretty good feel for how he used and viewed his pipes. Even with the pipes so far I could tell which ones were his favoured ones and which were his work horses. I could get a sense of the ones that accompanied him into his carving shop. In many ways it was as if he was standing over my shoulder while I cleaned up his pipes. With that in mind I turned to work on the 11th of his pipes. I reamed the bowl to remove the cake on the walls and the debris of tobacco shards that still remained. I used a PipNet pipe reamer to start the process. I followed that with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to clean up the remaining cake in the conical bottom of the bowl. I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. It smooths out the walls and also helps bring the inner edges back to round. With the bowl reamed it was time to work on the rim top and remove the thick lava coat in the blast of the rim. I used the Savinelli Fitsall knife to scrape away the high spots of lava and a brass bristle tire brush to work on the rim top and remove the buildup there. It also worked to minimize the rim damage a bit.I decided to check out the shank and see if I could find a crack once the band was removed. I examined it with a lens under a bright light and sure enough there was a crack on the underside of the shank that went through the circle 4S. It was a fine hairline crack but the band served to keep it that way. I have circled the crack to show its location.I will need to reband the shank but I think I will use a much narrower band that maintains the integrity of the look and does not compromise the repair. I decided to start with that part of the restoration and see what I could do. I used the Dremel and sanding drum to take the band down as much as I could and still hold onto it. Then I used 220 grit sandpaper and “topped” the band to a point where it worked to do the job it was created for but was far less intrusive. I was able to only cover the S and part of the 4 so it was a lot better than when I started. Here are some photos of the process. Photo 1 shows the original width of the band. Photo 2 shows the Dremel and sanding drum. I used the sanding drum held sideways (horizontal to the shank end) and reduced the width of the band as much as I could without damaging the end of the shank.Photo 3 shows the process of “topping” the band on the topping board with a new piece of 220 grit sandpaper. Using this method after the Dremel allowed me to remove the sharpness of the edge and also even out the edge. Photo 4 shows the width of the band from the side. I was able to reduce by just over half.I cleaned up the shank end with a little alcohol and a q-tip and then glued the band in place with white all-purpose glue. Once the glue dried and the band was solidly in place I took the photos below to give an idea of the new look of the band. I have included the first photo below to show the contrast of what the band originally looked like and what the band looks like now. I cleaned up the excess glue around the newly fit band and then worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the sandblast finish of the bowl and the rim top. I worked it into the nooks and crannies of the sandblast surface 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 and then polished it with a horsehair shoe brush. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl looked like at this point. I polished the nickel band and edges to dress it up and give it a cleaner appearance using worn micromesh sanding pads. The photos below tell the story. I scraped out the inside of the mortise with a small pen knife to break away the tarry buildup on the walls of the shank. I cleaned out the internals of the bowl, shank and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until they came out clean. It was very dirty in the shank and stem but now it not only looks clean but smells clean.  I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a shoe brush after each coat of wax to raise the shine. The bowl looks really good at this point. The sandblast grain just shines and is showing all of the different layers of colour that make up a Dunhill Shell finish. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the majority of the marks and tooth chatter on the surface of the vulcanite with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I followed the 220 grit sandpaper with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to minimize the scratching. The two papers combined did a pretty decent job of getting rid of the tooth marks and chatter as well as the oxidation and calcification. There were still a few small tooth marks that needed work. I polished the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish to take out the oxidation at the button edge and on the end of the mouthpiece. I also worked hard to scrub it from the surface of the stem at the tenon end. I polished out the scratches with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The contrast of colours that show up in the sandblast of the Shell briar bowl looked good with the polished black vulcanite. This 1960 Dunhill Shell 104 F/T oval shank tapered stem Billiard turned out really well and I was able to reduce the size and overall presence of the band and make it standout less at first look. Once again it really has that classic Dunhill look that catches the eye. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 3/4 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This is the 11th Dunhill and the 10th Shell from the many pipes that will be coming onto the work table from the estate. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. I am having fun working on this estate.

 

Breathing Life into a Carlo Scotti Castello Sea Rock Briar SC31 ¼ Bent Canadian


Blog by Steve Laug

It is the second day of the New Year 2019 and I am continuing to work on pipes. My wife and kids are convinced it is an illness but at least it keeps me out of their way! I am continuing my break from the Bob Kerr estates that I have piled in boxes around my basement shop to work on another different pipe. I am still working under the watchful eye of my buddy and Shop Foreman, Spencer. His life is pretty much laying on a blanket by my feet while I am fiddling with pipes. At 14+ years old my fiddling does not faze him much him, he just wants to make sure I stay put with him in the basement. He snoozes, comes over to me now and then to smack my leg and beg for a treat and then retreats to nap again. He really is company in the shop and keeps me mindful to get up and move around now and then.As you might have figured out from the title I am continuing to work on Italian pipes. This is another one that I may have a hard time letting go of when I am finished. It is a Castello Sea Rock Briar. It is stamped on the smooth heel of the bowl and the shank bottom and reads Castello Sea Rock Briar. Next to that is stamped SC31 which I assume is the shape number. It is followed by Reg. No. 66171 No. That is followed by Made in Cantu over Italy with an oval containing the name Carlo Scotti next to the stem shank union. The Castello “diamond” inset is on the left side of the tapered stem. My brother Jeff picked this pipe up at an auction in Nampa, Idaho. It was in pretty filthy looking condition when he got it but still showed promise. He took the following photos of the pipe before he worked his magic on them. The pipe must have been another terrific smoker because the bowl was pretty clogged up with cake and lava flowing over the rim top. It really was a mess and the cake was hard from sitting. It was from an estate that was liquidating the belonging of a fellow in the area. In its condition it was going to take some work to clean out that bowl and be able to see what the rim looked like underneath the layer of lava. The rest of the bowl looked dirty but the photos give an idea of what Jeff saw before his cleanup revealed the condition of the pipe. The next photos show the side and bottom of the bowl to give a good idea of what it looked like.The next photos try to capture the stamping around the sides of the shank. They read as I have noted above. The acrylic/Lucite stem was in excellent condition. It was dirty and had light tooth chatter but no deep tooth marks in the stem surface. The Castello “Diamond” on the left side of the shank is quite nice and undamaged. The button also looks pretty good but I would know more once it arrived in Vancouver.Jeff cleaned the pipe with his usual thoroughness – reaming the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaning up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the internals of the bowl, shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean off the dust and grime on the rusticated Sea Rock finish. The rusticated rim top looked very good under the thick lava coat. It was a bit dull and some lava still in the deep crevices that I would need to deal with but nothing in comparison to what it looked like when Jeff got it. The inside of the bowl itself looked great. The stem was in great shape other than a bit of tooth chatter. I took photos of the pipe when it arrived here. I took some close up photos of the rim top, bowl and stem to show what they looked like after Jeff’s cleanup. It is a startling difference. The rim top will take some work to take care of the damage. The stem will take very little to polish out the tooth chatter on both sides and give it a deep shine.It has been awhile since I had cleaned up a Castello and the Reg. No. and the Carlo Scotti stamp left me with some questions that I need to answer before I began to work on the pipe. I turned first to the Pipephil site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-castello.html) because of the general quick summary of information I get there. I quote:

Castello PIPA CASTELLO di Carlo Scotti & C. was founded in 1947 by Carlo Scotti († 1988). Franco Coppo (AKA “Kino”) who married Carlo Scotti’s daughter Savina, manages (2012) the corporate since 1985.

The site also gave a good summary of the grading and sizes of the pipes. I quote that in full.

Sizes (ascending):

1K to 4K, G (Giant) and GG (Extra large)

Rusticated grading: SEA ROCK, OLD SEA ROCK, NATURAL VIRGIN,

Sandblasted grading: ANTIQUARI, OLD ANTIQUARI

Smooth grading (ascending): TRADEMARK, CASTELLO, COLLECTION

Other stampings: Great Line (Non-standard or freestyle) Fiammata (Straight grain)

Production (2012): ~4000 pipes / year

I also found a note on the page that the Rhinestone logo was originally on pipes for the US market. It is occasionally used now.

I turned then to Pipedia for more information on the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Castello). The majority of the information was what was already quoted above in abbreviated form. However there was a link to an article by Bob Hamlin that gave some interesting bits of information that I found helpful (http://www.pipes.org/BURST/FORMATTED/196.016.html). I quote in part from that article.

SEA ROCK [Carved Black or dark brown]:  This is the lowest grade of the Castello line and is the most common in the USA.  Sea Rocks are produced by taking a smooth bowl that has not been “final finished” and surface carving the finish with tools. This “carved” finish is then evened out using a steel wire brush, stained and then waxed. The Natural Vergin carved finish is left unstained and unwaxed as a rule, although we have seen waxed and partially waxed “Vergins”. 

All carved Castello pipes  are graded by the number of K’s that are stamped on each piece and are K-graded by SIZE.  1K is the smallest and fairly rare, 2K is small to medium, with  3K or 4K being the most common and ranges from medium to medium large. Large pieces are stamped “G” for giant and extra large pieces are stamped “GG” for double giant.  In addition to the number of K’s on a carved Sea Rock piece the shape number is almost always added.  As a rule a Sea Rock Castello is stained Black, although recently there have been quite a few coming in stained deep brown and still stamped “Sea Rock”.  American Logo’d Sea Rocks are all priced the same to the consumer, although most are 2 or 3 K’ed models.  G/GG models are charged at a higher price on American pieces and are basically the same as their European counterparts.

The Castello Sea Rock briar I was working on did not have the K stamping. It definitely was made for the American Market with the Rhinestone in the stem. It had the black finish. The shape number still needed to be determined.

Pipedia also gave a link to Mike’s Briar Blues site for help in dating and determining shapes (http://www.briarblues.com/castello.htm). I quote a piece on the Reg. No. that I found helpful.

1947 – Carlo Scotti begins the company.  In the beginning ( 1947 – 1949, maybe 1950 ) the pipes were stamped Mi Reserva ( my reserve ).  Later the Reg No was added.  This Reg No has nothing to do with shape numbers, but is merely the Castello company trademark…

Shape numbers. Shape numbers are all 2 digits. A 2 in front indicates a “fancy” interpretation, a 3 in front means that the carving is somehow unique. I don’t know when the change was made, but currently, a π symbol is used instead of the 3xx. I’ve only seen this on Sea Rocks, but that doesn’t mean anything…

Pre K grading.  Late 1950’s to mid 1960’s the pipe carried stamps which indicated sizes. These were as follows; SA, SB, SC, and SS.  SA being the smallest and SS the largest.

Now I had more information to work with. The Castello in my hands was pre K graded. That told me that it came out in the late 1950s to mid 1960s. The SC stamp makes it a mid-sized pipe from that time period. The number 31 makes it a Canadian with an oval shank and a ¼ bent stem.

Armed with that information and renewing my knowledge of the brand it was time to work on the pipe. I decided to begin by addressing the deep lava and grime that made the rim top dull looking. I used a brass bristle wire brush to work over the nooks and crannies of the finish and a lot of dust and debris came out of the grooves. I used a tooth brush and some Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean up the remaining dust and rinsed of the rim with some tap water. I dried it off and gave it a light polish with the cloth. It did not take too long for the rim to look clean and debris free.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the rusticated Sea Rock finish on the bowl and the rim top. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the wood. I used a horse hair shoe brush to work it into the crevices and keep from building up in the valleys and crevices of the finish. Once the bowl was covered with the balm I let it sit for about 20 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth and the shoe brush. I polished it with a microfiber cloth. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl looked like at this point. I gave the bowl and shank multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a shoe brush to raise the shine. The wax is great protection and I love using it on rusticated and sandblast finishes because it does not build up in the grooves and valleys like carnauba wax does. I buffed it by hand with a microfiber cloth to finish the shine. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I wet sanded the tooth chatter on both sides of the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I was able to remove it. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads to polish it further. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I finished polishing the stem with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine polishes. I wiped the stem down with a damp cotton pad afterwards and buffed it with a soft microfiber cloth. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the Lucite. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The contrast of the blacks and dark browns of the briar with the polished black acrylic/Lucite is quite stunning. The dark and coral like rustication around the bowl and shank is quite remarkable and gives the pipe an incredible tactile presence. This is truly a beautiful pipe that is for sure and one that I think I will keep around for a while. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. I have a few Castellos in the collection that have come to me in a variety of ways. They have all been beautiful pipes and the look of this Canadian Sea Rock in the hand makes me pause. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me. It was a great break away from the estates that await me. Cheers.  

Restoring the 10th Pipe from Bob Kerr’s Estate – A Dunhill Shell 660 Saddle Stem Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

In my ongoing work on Bob Kerr’s Estate I seem to be making a dent. I am working my way through the Dunhills in his collection – the Shell and Tanshell pipes. I am cleaning them for the family and moving them out into the hands of pipemen and women who will carry on the trust that began with Bob and in some pipes was carried on by Bob. In the collection along with the Dunhills are a good bevy of Petersons, some Comoys and Barlings as well as a lot of other pipes – a total of 125 pipes along with a box of parts. This is the largest estate that I have had the opportunity to work on. I put together a spread sheet of the pipes and stampings to create an invoice. I was taking on what would take me a fair amount of time to clean up. I could not pass up the opportunity to work on these pipes though. They were just too tempting.

I sorted the pipes into groups of the various brands and had a box of 25 different Dunhill pipes in different shapes, styles and sizes. I decided to work on the Dunhills first. It was a great chance to see the shape variety up close and personal. The photo below shows the box of Dunhill pipes.I went through the box of Dunhills shown above and chose the 10th sandblast pipe to work on – a Group 4 Shell Billiard with a saddle stem. It is stamped on the heel and the underside of the 660 followed by Dunhill over Shell. Then it reads Made in England 7, Circle 4S – Group 4 size Shell made in 1968. The round shank of the billiard flows into a short saddle stem that is oxidized and has tooth marks and chatter near the button. There is some calcification on the first inch of the stem ahead of the button and there is some light damage to the top of the button. The Shell finish is very craggy and has a deep blast. It is dirty with grime and tars filling in much of the craggy finish. The bowl had a thick cake and lava overflowed on the rim top. The bowl had tobacco stuck in the lava on the cake on the walls of the bowl like the other pipes from this estate. With a little work this pipe would look good once again. I took pictures of the pipe before I started working on it. I took some close up photos of the rim top and stem to show what I was dealing with. Judging from the condition this little billiard was in I think I can safely say that it was another one of Bob’s favourite pipes. The cake in the bowl is another thick one and the lava on the rim top is also very thick. You can see the cake and tobacco in the bowl. The saddle stem was dirty, oxidized, calcified and had a lot of tooth chatter on the top and underside for about an inch ahead of the button. The button surface was also marked with tooth chatter. The sharp edge defining the button was worn down and almost smoothed out. It will be an interesting challenge to bring back to life.I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the bowl and shank. It was clear and readable.I am sure if you have read the restoration work on the previous 8 pipes you have already read what I included about Bob Kerr, the pipeman who held these pipes in trust before I came to work on them. Also, if you have followed the blog for long you will already know that I like to include background information on the pipeman whose pipes I am restoring. For me, when I am working on an estate I really like to have a sense of the person who held the pipes in trust before I worked on them. It gives me another dimension of the restoration work. I asked Brian if he or his wife would like to write a brief biographical tribute to her father, Bob. His daughter worked on it and I received the following short write up on him and some pictures to go along with the words. Thank you Brian and tell your wife thank you as well.

I am delighted to pass on these beloved pipes of my father’s. I hope each user gets many hours of contemplative pleasure as he did. I remember the aroma of tobacco in the rec room, as he put up his feet on his lazy boy. He’d be first at the paper then, no one could touch it before him. Maybe there would be a movie on with an actor smoking a pipe. He would have very definite opinions on whether the performer was a ‘real’ smoker or not, a distinction which I could never see but it would be very clear to him. He worked by day as a sales manager of a paper products company, a job he hated. What he longed for was the life of an artist, so on the weekends and sometimes mid-week evenings he would journey to his workshop and come out with wood sculptures, all of which he declared as crap but every one of them treasured by my sister and myself. Enjoy the pipes, and maybe a little of his creative spirit will enter you!

I have included one of Bob’s wood carvings to give you an idea of what he daughter wrote about above. You can see his artistry in the carving that is patterned after British Columbia’s Coastal First Nations people. To me this is a sea otter but perhaps a reader may enlighten us.Having already worked on 9 other pipes from Bob’s estate I was beginning to get a feel for how he used and viewed his pipes. Even with the pipes so far I could tell which ones were his favoured ones and which were his work horses. I could get a sense of the ones that accompanied him into his carving shop. In many ways it was as if he was standing over my shoulder while I cleaned up his pipes. With that in mind I turned to work on the 10th of his pipes. I reamed the bowl to remove the cake on the walls and the debris of tobacco shards that still remained. I used a PipNet pipe reamer to start the process. I followed that with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to clean up the remaining cake in the conical bottom of the bowl. I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. It smooths out the walls and also helps bring the inner edges back to round. With the bowl reamed it was time to work on the rim top and remove the thick lava coat in the blast of the rim. I used the Savinelli Fitsall knife to scrape away the high spots of lava and a brass bristle tire brush to work on the rim top and remove the buildup there.With the bowl reamed and rim top cleaned I scrubbed the sandblast finish. This is pretty much my process in cleaning either sandblast or rusticated finishes. I scrubbed it with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the grooves and canyons of the blast. I worked over the tarry lava overflow on the rim with the tooth brush and a brass brush. I rinsed the pipe under running water to remove the grime. I dried it off with a soft towel. The pictures below show the finish after scrubbing and rinsing. I scraped out the inside of the mortise with a small pen knife to break away the tarry buildup on the walls of the shank. I cleaned out the internals of the bowl, shank and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until they came out clean. It was very dirty in the shank and stem but now it not only looks clean but smells clean.  I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar on the bowl and the rim top. I worked it into the nooks and crannies of the sandblast surface 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 and then polished it with a horsehair shoe brush. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl looked like at this point. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a shoe brush after each coat of wax to raise the shine. The bowl looks really good at this point. The sandblast grain just shines and is showing all of the different layers of colour that make up a Dunhill Shell finish. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the majority of the marks and tooth chatter on the surface of the vulcanite with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I followed the 220 grit sandpaper with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to minimize the scratching. The two papers combined did a pretty decent job of getting rid of the tooth marks and chatter as well as the oxidation and calcification. There were still a few small tooth marks that needed work.I polished the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish to take out the oxidation at the button edge and on the end of the mouthpiece. I also worked hard to scrub it from the surface of the stem at the tenon end.There were two small tooth marks on the underside of the stem that needed a bit of attention. I filled them in with some clear super glue. I set it aside to dry. Once the glue dried I sanded the repairs smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the stem. I polished out the scratches with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The contrast of colours that show up in the sandblast of the Shell briar bowl looked good with the polished black vulcanite. The swirled grain “target” on the right side of the bowl is quite stunning. This 1968 Dunhill Shell 660 Saddle stem Billiard turned out really well and I was able to repair the tooth marks on the underside of the stem. It really has that classic Dunhill look that catches the eye. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This is the 10th Dunhill and the 9th Shell from the many pipes that will be coming onto the work table from the estate. This pipe is already sold to a fellow who wrote me an email after the first restoration. I quote part of that now as it gives testimony to our small pipesmoking community.

“Hello, I must say this is an incredibly small world. I’ve been following rebornpipes for a while now and when i saw your first write up about Bob Kerr I was incredibly surprised,  he was a prominent member of the community here on Pender Island and has been greatly missed.  I would be honored to buy one of his Dunhills…  Thanks for your time. — Jon”

The pipe will be heading over to Pender Island with the Tanshell Pot early this week. I think Jon will enjoy it! Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. I am having fun working on this estate.