Tag Archives: bite marks

Restoring an Old-Vic 8523


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

The next pipe that I decided to work on is a smallish beautiful bent Dublin shape with unique hexagonal  giving the appearance of a honey collection cell in a beehive. These are definitely not hand crafted rustication as the perfect geometry, details and alignment of these tiny hexagons is difficult to achieve by hand. But, nevertheless, it is one handsome looking pipe!!!!

As described above, this dude has these rustication all over the stummel and over the round shank, save for a smooth portion on the bottom of the shank which bears all the identification marks of this pipe and the rim top which looks amazing. It is stamped on the left corner of the shank with “Old-Vic” in with old style curls. The end of the letter “c” curves back in a linear fashion and underlines up to the letter “d” in the name Old , before fading off gradually. Old-Vic is followed by “# 8523”. Just below the number and starting from the end of the letter “c” in Old-Vic, it is stamped as “CENTURY OLD” over “BRIAR ITALY”. Towards the right end of the shank and mid way, it bears the stamp “BURL GRAIN” in an arch over a very faint stamp which I could not make out. The vulcanite saddle stem is of high quality and is stamped on the left side of the saddle with “OLD-VIC”.Not much is known about this brand other than that these were made by LORENZO and hence the Italian connection. I have to concede that Italian pipes are very desirable looking with perfect proportions and beautifully crafted. I had even made an attempt to know more about this line of Lorenzo pipes by emailing Lorenzo’s American distributors, but have no response from them since last 15 days. Mr. Dal Stanton, if you are reading this piece, please enlighten me with your MANTRA for making these guys respond!!!!!!!!!!!

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
As is commonly seen on rusticated or sandblasted pipes with some serious age on them, the crevices in these are always filled with dust, dirt, oils, tars and grime from all the years of smoking and storage. This Old-Vic is no exception to this observation. The small hexagonal pockets are filled with dust while the smooth bottom of the shank is covered in dust and sticky grime. The fact that the hexagonal patterns are dirty and filled with dirt is accentuated more due to a very dark reddish brown stain on the stummel and the shank. The briar is looking lifeless and bone dry and has taken black hues. The bowl is narrow and tapers down towards the draught hole. The chamber is so filled with cake that I am unable to reach the bottom of the bowl with my little finger. The build-up of the cake is more heavy in the bottom half of the bowl. The mortise is full of oils and gunk and air flow is restricted. The rim top is smooth and the grains are accentuated with a lighter stain, which can be seen through the overflowing lava. The inner and outer edge of the rim is in pristine condition with no dings or dents. The vulcanite stem is so heavily oxidized that it appears brown in color!!!! Some light tooth chatter is seen on both surfaces of the stem towards the lip. This issue should not be a major headache to address. The lip edge on both side is crisp and without any damage. The quality of vulcanite is good. THE PROCESS
I started this project by removing the cake from the chamber and cleaning it. However, no sooner did I start, I realized that my Kleen Reem pipe reamer would not fit in the chamber. The cake was so densely packed and thick that my British Buttner reamer could get damaged. So, the only option left was my fabricated knife!!!!  It was laborious, but the task was accomplished. I found the chamber to be solid and without any heat fissures or cracks. To finish the chamber, I used a folded piece of 150 grit sand paper to sand the inner walls. This was followed by 220 and 400 grit sand paper and now we have a smooth and even surface on the walls of the chamber, ready for taking on a fresh layering of carbon cake!!!!! I wiped the rim top with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This helped me to get rid of all the overflow of lava as well as the dirt and dust that had accumulated on the rim surface. This was followed by cleaning the mortise with cue tips, pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This further eliminated all the traces of old smells from previous usage. Now, it was the turn of the stummel to get cleaned up. Using a hard bristled tooth brush dipped in undiluted Murphy’s oil soap, I very deliberately scrubbed through all the hexagonal patterns, cleaning them thoroughly. I cleaned the rim too. The stummel and rim top was dried using paper napkins and soft cotton cloth. I set the stummel aside to dry out naturally.While the stummel was drying, I worked the stem. In order to address the minor tooth chatters, I flame the surfaces of the stem with a Bic lighter. This brings most of the tooth chatter to the surface. For a better blending, I further sanded the entire stem with 220 followed by 400 and 800 grit sand paper. This helps to reduce the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper. 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 finished stem is shown below. I wanted to highlight the grains on the rim top as well as enhance the contrast with the rest of the pipe. To achieve this aim, I sand down the rim top using micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. The rim top now has a deep shine with grains popping out and now with a magnificent contrast with rest of the stummel. Once I was satisfied with the stem and rim top restoration, I started work on the stummel which has dried by now. I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to briar and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. To finish, using a cotton cloth and brute muscle power, I gave it a final polish. I re-attach the stem with the stummel. The completed pipe looks lovely, fresh and vibrant; the photographs speak for themselves. Thank you for having the patience to reach this far while reading the write up.

Advertisements

Tale of Two Somerset Brothers – Part 2


BENT RHODESIAN

Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I had finished the work on Somerset 8 Paneled Billiard and I was very pleased with the way it turned out. I have smoked this pipe and have to concede that it was one of the better smoking pipes in my current rotation, the draw is open and full and very smooth right up to the last morsel of tobacco. This is due to the perfect alignment of the draught hole, mortise and stem tenon. Very happy with this one, I must say!!!!!!

The sibling of the first Somerset Brother, now in my hand, is the Bent Rhodesian, and my favorite shape. The upper half of the bowl has beautiful wavy circular sandblast all round which extend to the round shank, while the bottom of the bowl has densely packed birdseye which is seen in the sandblast. Overall, this is one pipe with a beautiful sandblast patterns and as I have come to expect, the quality of the finish and vulcanite stem is par excellence. Like its paneled billiard sibling, this pipe too has a smooth and flat bottom surface and bears the only stampings seen on the pipe. It is stamped on the bottom as “SOMERSET” in a mild arch over “IMPORTED BRIAR” in straight line, all in capital letters. There is no other stamp on either shank or on the stem. The stummel and shank is stained with a very dark reddish/ maroon hue. The stem is high quality vulcanite without any stampings. As conceded in my write up on the Somerset Paneled Billiard, I have been unsuccessful in unearthing information about this brand and still remain a blind spot in my quest for knowledge on pipes. I sincerely request you to share any information you may have on this pipe.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The sandblast on this pipe is covered in dirt, dust and grime and appears dull and lackluster. The bowl is heavily caked and there is overflow of lava on to the rim. This will have to be removed in order to ascertain the condition of the chamber walls. From my experience working on the paneled billiard, I won’t be surprised to find cracks and heat fissures on the walls of the chamber. There is a very strong sweet smell to the cake, which perhaps may vanish after the chamber has been cleaned.The mortise is filled with oils and tars and appears to be clogged. There is no free flow of air through the mortise. This will have to be cleaned. There is also a slight gap in the fitting between the stem and the shank. Maybe this will be resolved after a good cleaning of the mortise. The fitting of the stem in to the shank is very loose and just drops of when turned upside down.The stem is heavily oxidized and the edge of the lip on the top surface has been bitten out of shape. There is a bite mark close to the disfigured edge of the lip. These issues will have to be addressed.THE PROCESS
I reamed the bowl with a Kleen Reem pipe tool and with a knife; I further took the cake down to the briar. I have realized that the knife is best suited to remove the cake from the bottom of the chamber. As anticipated, the chamber walls did show the beginnings of a burn out!!!! With a 150 grit sand paper, the walls of the chamber were rid of all the remnants of the cake, presenting a clear picture of the extent of the damage. This pipe too had cracks at exactly same location as its sibling, though not as alarming. Since the pipe ash was still being collected, I cleaned the internals of this pipe with bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. Since the strong sweet smell did not diminish even after the cake had been removed, I decided to give it a salt and alcohol bath. I filled the bowl and shank with kosher salt up to just below the rim top and end of the shank respectively. I filled it up with isopropyl alcohol and set it aside over night to allow it to extract all the residual oils from the chamber and the shank. Next day, the salt and alcohol had done its job. I remove the darkened salts and clean the mortise with bristled pipe cleaners. I set it aside to dry. Once the internals were cleaned, I scrubbed the externals of the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s oil soap and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I set it aside to dry. I cleaned the walls of the chamber with cotton pads dipped in isopropyl alcohol (since I was simultaneously working on the repair to the chamber of the Paneled Billiard, there is inescapable repetition of the process). Once cleaned, I inserted a folded pipe cleaner into the shank and up to the draught hole to prevent it from clogging. I made putty like paste of pipe ash and water. This paste was evenly applied to the entire inner surface of the chamber with a thin bamboo frond with shaved end to form a spatula, a bigger one at that, as compared to a regular one. I set it aside to dry out. The climate here being very wet and humid, it will take a long time to dry out.

The coating dried completely after about a week and I just gently scrapped the chamber with very light hands to check the layer. Alas, the complete coating just crumbled out leaving a very dry coat of ash through which all the cracks were easily discernible.

Fortunately, I had started collecting pipe ash and mixed it with yogurt. Using the same earlier method, I applied an even coat of pipe ash, yogurt and also added two capsules of activated charcoal. I set it aside to dry out, praying that the mixture bonds well and sticks to the walls of the chamber. A few days later, the mixture had completely cured and it did not crumble. The bonding appeared to be strong and durable. With a 400 grit sand paper, I sanded the inner walls very lightly to smooth the walls. Now the internal walls are looking solid and ready for duty again!!!! Once the issue of cracked chamber wall was addressed, I turned my attention back to the exterior of the stummel. I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to briar and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. Working the stem, with a Bic lighter, I flamed the surfaces of the stem to raise the tooth chatter and minor bite marks. To address the bite mark and repair the edge of the lip, I spot apply a drop of CA superglue and leave it over night to cure. The next evening, I shape the fill using flat head needle file and carve a crisp edge. To further blend in the fill, I sand the stem with a 220 grit sand paper. I sanded it down with 220, 400 and 800 grit sand paper. I wiped the stem with cotton pad dipped in alcohol to remove the resultant dust. I rubbed some extra virgin olive oil in to the stem and set it aside to be absorbed in to stem. I polished the stem with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000. I rub a little extra virgin olive oil in to the stem after every three pads. I finish the polishing of the stem by rubbing a small quantity of Paragon wax and giving it a final polish with a soft cotton cloth. The stem is now nice, smooth and shiny. I cleaned the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol. Here, I realized that the issue of loose stem was yet to be addressed. This issue was addressed by heating the tenon with a Bic lighter, constantly rotating the stem, till the tenon was slightly pliable. I gently pushed a rounded needle file in to the tenon to enlarge it and set it aside to cool down. Once cooled down, I wiped it clean with a cotton cloth soaked in cold water. I tried the fit, and the stem sat in the shank snugly, making all the right kind of noises. I was very pleased with the fit.To finish the pipe, I rubbed a small quantity of HALCYON II wax which is used for rusticated/ sandblasted surfaces and set it aside for a few moments. Thereafter I polished it with a horse hair shoe brush and a soft cotton cloth. These Somerset pipe are very well made and smoke fantastic. The quality of the vulcanite is high grade and feels good to clench. The finished pipe is shown below. Since the completion of this restoration, I have smoked this pipe and included it in my rotation. Believe you me, this pipe, like its sibling, smokes perfect with a nice, smooth draw right to the end. This leads me to think, is it only necessary to have Dunhill, Barling, Comoy’s etc, as fantastic smokers? Well, my personal experience with these two Somersets, is that while the above mentioned brands are excellent pipes, the lesser known ones do need to be looked at and not discarded outright!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for your patience and looking forward to inputs about this brand and the write up. Cheers…………

 

Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes – Restoring a Barontini De Luxe Brandy


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table is also from George Koch’s estate. It is a Barontini De Luxe Brandy shaped pipe with a quarter bend. The pipe was one of many that came to my brother and me in several shipments of pipes from George’s daughter Kathy. When Jeff got each box the pipes were well wrapped and packed. Jeff unwrapped them and took the following photo to give an idea of the volume of the pipes that we purchased. The Barontini came in mixed in a box of pipes much like the one below.In each of the previous blogs that I have written on the restoration of George’s pipes I have told his story. To me it is important to keep the story attached to the pipes that came from his collection. Each pipe I work on I remind myself of the man and in the work give a remembrance to the pipeman who owned these pipes. Having held a large number of his pipes in my hand and having a pretty good feel for the shapes, colour and stems that he liked, I can almost imagine George picking out each pipe in his collection at the Malaga shop in Michigan. I am including Kathy’s brief bio of her father and a photo of her Dad enjoying his “Malagas”. Here is George’s bio written by his daughter.

Dad was born in 1926 and lived almost all his life in Springfield, Illinois. He was the youngest son of German immigrants and started grade school knowing no English. His father was a coal miner who died when Dad was about seven and his sixteen year old brother quit school to go to work to support the family. There was not much money, but that doesn’t ruin a good childhood, and dad had a good one, working many odd jobs, as a newspaper carrier, at a dairy, and at the newspaper printing press among others.

He learned to fly even before he got his automobile driver’s license and carried his love of flying with him through life, recertifying his license in retirement and getting his instrumental license in his seventies and flying until he was grounded by the FAA in his early eighties due to their strict health requirements. (He was never happy with them about that.) He was in the Army Air Corps during World War II, trained to be a bomber, but the war ended before he was sent overseas. He ended service with them as a photographer and then earned his engineering degree from University of Illinois. He worked for Allis Chalmers manufacturing in Springfield until the early sixties, when he took a job at Massey Ferguson in Detroit, Michigan.

We lived in Livonia, and that’s where his love for Malaga pipes began. After a few years he returned to Allis Chalmers and we moved back to Springfield. I remember that when we went back to Michigan to visit friends, Dad had to go to the Malaga store and acquire a few new pipes. Many a year I wrote to Malaga and they picked out a pipe for me to purchase that I could give Dad for a Christmas or birthday present. He was always pleased. His favorites were the straight stemmed medium sized bowl pipes, but he liked them all. 

He had some other pipes, but the Malagas were his favorites. I remember him smoking them sitting in his easy chair after work, with feet up on the ledge by the fire burning in the fireplace.  Growing up it was my job to clean them and he liked the inner bowl and stem coated with Watkins vanilla, leaving a little of that liquid in the bowl to soak in when I put them back on the rack. Dad quit smoking later in life and so they’ve sat on the racks for many years unattended, a part of his area by his easy chair and fireplace. Dad passed when he was 89 years old and it finally is time for the pipes to move on. I’m very happy they are being restored by you and your brother and hope they find homes who enjoy them as much as Dad did. Thank-you for your care and interest. — Kathy, the oldest daughter

Each blog I have posted I thank Kathy for providing this beautiful tribute to her Dad. Jeff and I appreciate your trust in allowing us to clean and restore these pipes. We are also trusting that those of you who are reading this might carry on the legacy of her Dad’s pipes as they will be added to the rebornpipes store once they are finished.

The next the pipe is a nicely shaped Barontini Brandy with an acrylic stem. It has beautiful grain all around the bowl – straight, flame and birdseye that is highlighted by the rich reddish brown stain. The top of the bowl is had some burn marks and some damage. The stamping on the top side of the shank read Barontini over De Luxe. On the underside it has the shape number 702 and Italy at the shank/stem junction. The gold and brown, swirled, pearlized Lucite stem had light tooth dents and chatter on the top and the underside of the stem. The interior of the pipe was caked and had cobwebs. Jeff took these photos before he started the cleanup work on the pipe. Jeff took a close up photo of the bowl and rim to show the condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. The rim top had some light lava overflow and some darkening. There appeared to be some rim damage on the inner edge toward the front of the bowl. You can see the wear on the rim top, the cake and remnants of tobacco in the bowl. It also looks like there are some cobwebs in the bowl. The pipe is dirty but in good condition.  He also took photos of the sides and bottom of the bowl and shank from the side to show the grain on this pipe. The finish is very dirty but this is a beautiful pipe. Jeff took some photos to capture the stamping on the top and underside of the shank. The first photo shows the top side of the shank with the stamping Barontini De Luxe and the second shows the shape number 702 on the underside. The third photo shows the ITALY stamping on the underside near the stem. There is also a B stamped on the acrylic stem.The next two photos show the stem surface. There are tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. There is also some wear on the sharp edge of the button.I looked up some information on the brand on the Pipephil website to get a quick overview of the history (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-b2.html). I did a screen capture of the listing for the brand. The fascinating thing that I learned in this quick overview was the connection to the entire Barontini family and to other companies like Aldo Velani. It is interesting to see the breadth of the brand in the following screen capture. The  pipe I am working on it stamped like the third photo down – the Classica and the B on the stem is identical to that pipe’s stamping.Pipedia gives further history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Barontini,_Ilio) under the listing for Ilio Barontini. I quote that article in full as it has the connection to the De Luxe pipe that I am working on.

Cesare Barontini, who was in charge of the Barontini company since 1955, helped his cousin Ilio Barontini to establish a pipe production of his own.

Ilio started to produce machine-made series pipes of the lower to the middle price categories. Fatly 80% of the pipes went to foreign countries, the bulk being produced for various private label brands. Some of the own lines like “de Luxe”, “Etna” or “Vesuvio” gained a certain popularity. Citation: “Next to excellent craftsmanship Ilio Barontini pipes offer a wood quality, that is almost unrivalled in this price category!”.

The pipes being around still there were some unconfirmed utterances that Ilio Barontini brand has been absorbed by Cesare Barontini or even Savinelli. Who knows?

Now I had some idea of the maker of this Barontini. It appears to be one of the machine made Barontinis in the De Luxe line. Fueled by that information it was time to get working on the pipe itself and see what I had to do with it.

Jeff had reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. The rim was thoroughly cleaned and the damaged areas were obvious. Without the grime the finish looked really good. The Lucite stem would need to be worked on but I really like the profile it cast. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it.   I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem. You can see the condition of the rim top and bowl in the first photo. Jeff was able to remove all of the tar and oils but you can now see the damaged areas on the surface clearly. There are damaged spots on the front inner edge and the back inner edge. There are also some deep dents and nicks in the flat surface of the rim. The acrylic/Lucite stem had tooth chatter and some light tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem just ahead of the button. There was one deeper tooth mark on the underside near the button.I decided to address the damage to the rim top first. I topped the bowl on a topping board using 220 grit sandpaper. I removed the damaged surface of the rim and made it smooth once again.I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the inner edge of the rim. The rim top is looking far better at this point.I polished the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim off after each sanding pad to remove the dust. The rim really shone once it was polished. Once it was polished the rim was ready to be stained. I started by using stain pens. I used a Maple stain pen to match the colour of the bowl. It was the closest I could get to matching the bowl. Once it cured it was streaked and not quite a match. The first photo below shows the rim after the stain pen.I carefully wiped the rim down with some isopropyl alcohol to smooth out the stain. Once it was smooth I restained it with some Fiebing’s aniline stain. I used a tan coloured stain and flamed it once I had stained the rim. I repeated staining and flaming until the coverage on the rim matched the bowl sides. The second photo below shows the look of the rim after this staining. I rubbed down the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the smooth surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little wall and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The rim matches well but still needs to be polished and buffed to raise a shine on it. There were some tooth marks and chatter on the top and more chatter and a deeper tooth mark on the underside of the acrylic stem at the button. I cleaned off the surface of the stem with alcohol and filled in the deep tooth mark with clear super glue. Once it cured, I sanded both sides smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the tooth chatter and the repair into the surface of the stem. It did not take too much sanding to remove the marks and smooth out the stem surface. When it was sanded it was smooth and the marks were gone. I polished the acrylic stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth. I the polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches and raise the shine. I gave the bowl and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. This turned out to be a beautiful pipe in terms of shape and finish. This is the thirteenth pipe that I am restoring from Kathy’s Dad’s collection. I am looking forward once again to hearing what Kathy thinks once she sees the finished pipe on the blog. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this Barontini Brandy from George’s estate. More will follow in a variety of brands, shapes and sizes. I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store shortly so if you are interested in adding it to your collection and carrying on the trust from her father send me an email or a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

Finally a Simple Restoration – A Siena Artistica Oom Paul


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table was one of a pair of Oom Paul pipes that my brother Jeff picked up in from a guy in Texas. This one is full bent Oom Paul with a gnarly rustication on a classic shaped pipe. It has some great grain underneath the rustication on the bowl and shank. It has a contrast stain with dark brown in the grooves and light/medium brown stain that gives the pipe lots depth and dimension. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Siena Artistica. There is no other stamping on the shank or bowl. The finish was in very good condition. The rim top was clean and there was no damage on the inner and outer edges of the bowl. The bowl had a light cake in it that would be easy to deal with. The stem was acrylic and variegated browns and golds. It had some tooth chatter and scratching on both sides near the button. The stem had an acrylic band that was silver and white. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup up work. He took a clear photo of the rim top showing that it was quite clean. There was some buildup and grime in the grooves of the rustication. The edges of the bowl look very good. There is a light cake in the bowl.The stem was in good condition. There was some tooth chatter and scratches on the top and underside near the button.The stamping on shank read Siena Artistica and is very readable and clean.Jeff had scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil soap and removed the dust and grime that had accumulated there. The finish looked very good once it had been scrubbed. He lightly reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He cleaned the interior of the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. The pipe came to me clean and ready to do the restoration. I took some photos of the pipe to show the condition at this point in the process. I took some photos of the rim top and sides of the bowl to show the condition of the surface of the rim. There is some darkening on the inner edge of the bowl. I also took close up photos of the stem to show its condition. There is some light tooth chatter and tooth marks on both sides near the button but otherwise it is in good condition.I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the briar bowl and the rim top as well as the briar shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers, working it into the exterior of the pipe. I used a horsehair shoe brush to get the product deep in the whirls and swirls of the rustication. After it had been sitting for a little while, I buffed it with a soft cloth to polish it. The pipe really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to sand out the tooth chatter and marks on both sides of the stem just ahead of the button. They were not deep so it did not take tooth much to remove them.I polished the stem 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 pad with Obsidian Oil to remove the sanding dust on the vulcanite. I finished the polishing process with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. When I finished polishing and wiping it down I set it aside to dry. I polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax by hand 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 contrasting dark and light brown stains on the unique rustication with the polished, brown/gold variegated acrylic stem worked together to give the pipe a unique look. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is a beautiful rusticated Oom Paul with a unique finish that has already found a new home. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 5 3/4 inches, Height: 2 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 inches. This one will be on its way to the southern states of the US once I finish the second Oom Paul I am working. The pair already has a new home. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this unique Oom Paul. 

Restoring a Sasieni Fantail


Blog by Paresh Despande

This large sized Sasieni was always on my mind to work on and I wanted to work on it at leisure as I wanted to do justice to this solid large piece of briar. What intrigued me was the shape of the stem towards the bore end where it flared out to a large extent which was made more pronounced due to pinching of the stem between the saddle and button end.

The pipe has beautiful, densely packed small sized birdseye grain on the right side of the stummel while the left side has a mix of straight and birdseye grains. The front and back of the stummel has densely packed cross grains. The shank has a flat bottom in the middle making it a sitter and has cross grains running across the top and bottom surface. Right and left side of the shank shows small, beautiful and densely packed birdseye. The shank, on the left side, bears the stamp of Sasieni” over “FANTAIL” and football COM stamp of “MADE IN” over “ENGLAND” towards the bowl. At the edge of the shank where it meets the stem, it is stamped “PATD- 170067”, which has been circled in red. On the right side, it is stamped “LONDON MADE” with numeral “55” towards the bowl. The stem bears the stamp “F” on the left side of the saddle. Except for the PATD number, the stampings are crisp and clear. I wanted to gain some background information about this brand and unravel some detailed information and period it was made in, about this particular pipe that I have been working on. There are three sites I frequent for information, first being Pipedia.com, second is pipephil.eu and the third being rebornpipes.com. Over a period of time, I have realized that Mr. Steve Laug has been working on pipes for such a long time that there are hardly any brands and models that he has not worked on and so, instead of reinventing the wheel, I first visit rebornpipes to eke out necessary information I seek. Luckily for me, Mr. Steve had indeed worked on a Sasieni Fantail wire rusticated and has researched this pipe. Here is the link to the blog written by him for necessary information and is a highly recommended read, https://rebornpipes.com/2017/06/07/sasieni-fantail-wire-rusticated-patent-billiard/.

I now know that “FANTAIL” is a Sasieni second line pipe and is from the “Family Era” from the period 1946 to 1979. Mr. Steve, thank you Sir for allowing me to reproduce your work in my write up. Now, that my curiosity has been satiated, I progress to my visual inspection of the pipe.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION

This large sized straight billiard has its stummel covered in dust, oils and grime giving it a dull and sad appearance. The front of the stummel has two chips and will need to be addressed. The chamber has a thick cake which has been evenly reamed to a nice thickness of a dime!!!!! Either my grand old man had learned to care for his pipe during later years or this one belonged to his friend!!!! The rim top is clean but shows some darkening along the entire surface. The inner and outer edges of the rim are intact. It has a faint sweet smelling cake. The mortise and shank is clogged and will require a thorough cleaning.It is the stem which has, comparatively, the most damage on this pipe. Both the surfaces have tooth chatter and a couple of deep bite marks. This needs to be addressed.

THE PROCESS

Now that I have moved out of my hometown for work, I sorely miss Abha’s help in cleaning the chamber and the stummel. I cleaned the chamber of all the cake by reaming it with a Kleen Reem pipe cleaner. With my fabricated knife, I scrap the bottom and the walls of the chamber of all the remaining cake taking it down to solid bare briar. To smooth out the surface and get rid of last remnant cake, I sand it down with a 220 grit sand paper. I cleaned the internals of the shank and mortise with pipe cleaners and cue tips dipped in isopropyl alcohol (99.9%). I use this alcohol as it evaporates rapidly and leaves no odor behind. The chamber is now clean, smooth and fresh smelling. The internal walls of the chamber are solid with no signs of burn out or heat fissures, which is definitely a big relief. I resorted to light sanding of the rim edges with 220 grit sand papers to remove the very minor dents and chips on the inner edges. The rim surface does show darkening all along. I address this issue and the issue of a dirty stummel by cleaning it with Murphy’s oil soap and a tooth brush. I rinse it under tap water and dried it with paper towels. Thereafter I sand the rim surface with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000. I wipe down the rim surface with a moist cloth to get rid of the sanding dust.  I address the two chips in the front of the stummel by spot filling each chip with clear CA super glue. I let it cure overnight. Next day, with flat head needle file, I sand down these fills and further match these fills with the stummel surface using 400 and 800 grit sand papers. I am satisfied with the end result. Turning my attention to the stem, I clean the surfaces of the stem with alcohol and cotton pads. I sand the stem with a 220 grit sand paper to even out the minor tooth chatter and fill the deeper tooth bite marks with CA super glue and set it aside to cure for about a day. After the glue had cured, I sanded the fills with a flat head needle file. To further match the fills with the surface of the stem, I sanded it with 220, 400 and 800 grit sand paper. I wiped the stem with cotton pad dipped in alcohol to remove the resultant dust. I rubbed some extra virgin olive oil in to the stem and set it aside to be absorbed in to stem. I polished the stem with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000. I rub a little extra virgin olive oil in to the stem after every three pads. I finish the polishing of the stem by rubbing a small quantity of Paragon wax and giving it a final polish with a soft cotton cloth. The stem is now nice, smooth and shiny. I fill the “F” stamp on the stem with whitener and carefully remove the extra smear, revealing a clear and bold stamp. Once I was satisfied with the stem repair, I started work on the stummel which has dried by now. I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to briar and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. To finish, using a cotton cloth and brute muscle power, I gave it a final polish. I re-attach the stem with the stummel. The completed pipe looks lovely, fresh and vibrant; the photographs speak for themselves. Thank you for having the patience to reach this far while reading the write up. Your comments are of utmost importance to me for improving my skills in restoration process as well as writing about it. Cheers!!!!!

PS: Apologies for poor quality of pictures. I will definitely try to work on it.

Restoring a Mystery Freehand – a Hand Made in Denmark. Is it a Preben Holm?


Blog by Steve Laug

Jeff found this old pipe in an antique shop in Stevensville, Montana. He continues to show that he has an eye for old and unique pipes. This one is a tall, stack Freehand pipe with a large bowl and beautiful grain patterns around the sides of the bowl and shank. There is straight, flame and birdseye grain around the sides, top and bottom of the bowl. The rim cap is smooth and a mix of grain patterns. The finish was dirty but seemed to have a matte finish under the grime and grit. The rim top had an overflow of tars, oils – lava from the thick cake in the bowl. It was truly a mess but the buildup probably protected the inner and outer edges of the rim. It was stamped on the underside of the shank just ahead of where the stem is inserted. It is simply stamped Hand Made over In over Denmark. The stamping is identical to the stamping on Ben Wade Pipes that I have in my collection and something in my memory says I have read that somewhere. The stem has chair leg turnings that are similar to many freehand pipe stems. There is nothing stamped on the side or top of the stem. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. Jeff took some close up photos of the rim top to show the condition of the bowl and rim. There was some overflow of lava and dirt on the rim top and there was a pretty thick cake in the bowl. The pipe is quite tall and the cake went to the bottom of the bowl. The inner and outer edges looked to be in good condition.Jeff took photos of the bowl from various angles to show the condition of the finish. The beautiful grain is visible in the photos. The finish is dirty but looks good under the grime.   The stamping on the underside of the shank is clear and readable. It simply reads Hand Made with a faint stamp “In” below that followed by Denmark. The second and third photos below show the damage to the left edge of the shank. There were some chips and nicks in the finish. None were too deep in the briar so would need to rework that area of the shank. The stem was in decent condition. It was oxidized on both sides and there were some nicks and tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. There were no deep tooth marks which is really a relief.I reread the articles on Pipedia and Pipephil on both Preben Holm and Ben Wade pipes. I could not find the comment I was looking for on the Hand Made In Denmark stamp. So I would not have the luxury of knowing the history or who the carver was. Many things about the pipe made me still think it was a Ben Wade pipe but I may never know. I am hoping one of you who are reading this might have a clue for me.

Jeff has become a magician in cleaning up pipes. When I get them they are clean to the point of looking almost new. It is nice to work on pipes that he has cleaned up once again. In this case he reamed it with a PipNet reamer and smoothed the walls of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim and shank with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to the oils and tars on the bowl, rim and shank. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove all of the buildup on the rim top and the grime from the bowl. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and when it had done its work rinsed and cleaned the airway with pipe cleaners and alcohol. The tooth marks were clean but visible. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. I took some photos of the rim top to show what it looked like after Jeff had cleaned off the grime and tars. The briar was in good condition but there were some nicks and scratches in the flat top but none appeared too deep. The inner and outer edges of the bowl looked very good. The stem had cleaned up really well with the deoxidizer and need repair and polishing. It showed tooth marks on the underside and some chatter but it was otherwise in good condition. I decided to address the chips on the left side of the shank and reshape the shank end first. I sanded out the chips and reshaped the edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I shaped it to match the shape of the shank edge on the right side of the pipe. I worked on the end view as well. I wiped down the bowl with alcohol on cotton pads to remove the debris and dust from the clean up. I worked on the rim top as well to work on the darkening that was on different parts of the rim. I rubbed some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar to enliven, clean and preserve it. I rubbed it in with my fingertips working it into the briar. I worked it into the edges of the shank and the bowl. I set it aside for a little while to let the balm do its work. I buffed it off with a cotton cloth. The photos below show the pipe at this point in the restoration process.The rim top still had some areas on the left side and back edge that would need to be worked on. You can see it as a line around the bowl. I have circled the area in red so that you can see what I am noting at this point.I worked on the rim top and the edge of the shank that I had reshaped with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded the rim top and the left side of the shank with 1500-2400 grit pads and was able to remove the circled damage on the rim and blend the edge of the shank. I polished it by dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the areas down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the dust. I touched up the stain on the top of the rim and left edge of the shank to blend those areas into the colour on the rest of the pipe. I used a Maple and Cherry stain pen to approximate the colour of the pipe. I still need to buff the bowl and shank but the colour appears to be a perfect match. I buffed the bowl and shank with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and gave the bowl a coat of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine and blend the stain into the rest of the finish. I took the following photos to show the bowl at this point in the process. I set aside the bowl and turned my attention to the stem. I wiped down the stem with alcohol and filled in the tooth marks on the top and underside with clear super glue. I set the stem aside to let the repairs cure.When the repairs cured I sanded them with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the vulcanite. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil and took some photos of the stem at this point.I polished the stem using micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and then buffing on the wheel with red Tripoli. I dry sanded the stem with 3200-12000 grit pads to further polish it. After each pad I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil to protect and enliven the stem. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. When I finished with the polish I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. This smooth finished stack Freehand is an interesting and unusual piece. The Hand Made In Denmark stamp on the shank I think is one of Preben Holm’s marks but I cannot prove it. The shape of the pipe takes full advantage of the grain on the briar. The mix of grains – straight, flame and birdseye all work together to give this pipe a beautiful look from any direction it is viewed. The reddish brown of the bowl and the black of the vulcanite stem contrast well together. I buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond polish to raise the shine on the briar and the vulcanite. I was careful to not buff the stamping and damage it. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 3/4 inches, Outside Diameter: 1 1/2 inches, Diameter of the chamber: 7/8 of an inch. It is an interesting old pipe and should make a great collectible piece. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

Transforming a Dr. Grabow “Omega”


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the prettiest of them all?” asked this “Omega”, looking deeply into my eyes!!!!! How I wish I could have promptly replied that it was “YOU”…. but I could not get myself to say so!!!!! It was then that I decided to work on this pipe and make an attempt at its transformation.

This bent billiards has “OMEGA” stamped on the left side of the shank over “DR. GRABOW” in block capital letters while on the right side it is stamped “IMPORTED BRIAR”. A nickel ferrule adorns the end of the shank and is devoid of any stampings. An “ACE OF SPADES” on the left side breaks the monotonous black of the stem. I searched pipedia.com for information about the brand and try to place the period when this model was introduced by Dr. Grabow. The site has very detailed information about the brand and various models and is a highly recommended read. I have extracted only the relevant portions here:-

Dr. Grabow pipes are the quintessential American brand. Made with care in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, this 60-year-old line of inexpensive tobacco pipes is a favorite among new pipe smokers for its consistency and good taste. The famous smoking pipe brand gets its name from the owner Dr Grabow, a general physician who lived in Chicago.

Made in America since the 1930’s, Dr. Grabow tobacco pipes were named after “the good doctor” to help polish the smudged image of smoking a pipe to newly tobacco-leery American public. The line of pipes bearing Dr. Grabow’s name have become one of the best known pipe brands in North America.

The Dr Grabow pipes first began with Louis B Linkman of the M.Linkman and Co of Chicago. The trademark “Dr Grabow” itself actually begun at about 1932 and had the US patent number 1.896,800.

The birth of the Dr Grabow smoking pipe is simple enough. It started off when Dr Grabow himself and his acquaintance Dr Linkman regularly visited the local pharmacist at Brown’s Drug Store in Lincoln Park Chicago.

Dr Linkman was on the lookout for a doctor’s name to Christian an innovative line of pipes in order to mellow out the smoking apparel’s smoggy image. He asked Dr Grabow to allow him to use his name to which he agreed and the name has stuck since then. Linkman continued to manufacture his Dr Grabow pipes until 1953. 

The earliest of these exclusive pipes were stamped both with Linkman’s and Dr Grabow. They included a propeller emblem that was white in color at the top of the mouthpiece.

In 1944 the white propeller emblem was replaced with a white spade, a move that heralded the introduction of Linkman’s new Dr Grabow pipes. All of the newer entries included most of the earlier favorites as well as “TRU-GRAIN” and “SELECT”. Later models of Dr Grabow pipes were described as Imported Briar.

I further searched pipedia.com and found detailed and comprehensive information on the various lines and models of Dr. Grabow through the years and was able to date this Omega to 1975. Here is the link; https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Grabow_Models_(Series,Line)_Names_Through_the_Years

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION

The first thing that struck me like a jolt was the reddish brown/ very dark reddish purple, OMG!!!! I cannot even describe the color of the stain on this pipe; it was that unappealing to the eye to say the least. It just surprises me as to why my grand old man even bought it, if he had indeed bought it. You just feel like turning away from it. To add to its color woes, the stummel is covered in dust and grime of storage from all these years. The stummel has Custombilt like rustication emanating from the joint where the shank and stummel meet and move away from the bottom towards the rim top. Within this rustication we have very fine thin lines. The raised portion of these rustication have the same reddish brown coloration while within these rustication, it has dark color. The shank is plain and devoid of any rustication. There appears to be some kind of coat covering the entire stummel. All said and done, this coloration has to go!!!!! How am I going to do it, I really do not know, but IT HAS TO GO!!!!!! The chamber is lightly caked and has overflow of lava on the rim top. This will have to be cleaned and sanded down if the rim top surface is damaged underneath the overflowing lava. The inner and outer edge has minor dents and dings.The stem appears to be ebonite and has a plastic feel to it. The stem is a copy of the famed Peterson’s P-Lip button with the difference in the bore being dead center on the end of the button as opposed to being on the top surface. It has extensive damage to the upper and lower surface of the lip. It is peppered with tooth chatter and has one deep bite mark each on both the surfaces. This will have to be addressed.The mortise is relatively clean and air flows freely through the airway in the pipe and shank.The nickel ferrule has lost its shine and shows minor spots of corrosion. I think it will polish up nicely.THE PROCESS

I had made a promise to this pipe that I shall make it “the prettiest of them all…” (Well, actually it was like “TRY” really) and thus the first and most logical start point was to address the color of the stummel. To make this pipe attractive, I felt that I should attempt to do the following:-

(a) Highlight the rustications.

(b) Get some shine on the stummel.

(c) Attempt to reveal the grains on the smooth shank.

(d) Highlight the contrast between the raised portions of the rustication with that of within the rustication.

Having identified what needs to be done, I turned my attention to how it could be done. SWOT analysis dictated that I needed to adopt processes which did not require any stains or coatings of lacquer as I did not have any. Also since I do not have any mechanical equipment, I had to adopt simpler and manual techniques. I decided that the best and easiest course of action for me would be to get rid of the original stain.

I started by reaming the chamber with a Kleen Reem pipe reamer and fabricated knife. I removed the complete cake from the chamber. I further sanded down the walls of the chamber with a 220 grit sand paper to smooth the walls and took the cake back down to the bare briar. I gently scraped out the little overflow of lava from the rim top. I also cleaned out the mortise and the shank with cue tips and pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol.Once the chamber was cleaned, I turned my attention to the stummel and tried to get rid of the lacquer coating. I started by wet sanding with a 1500 grit micromesh pad and soon realized that it would not work. I tried sanding with 800 grit sand paper without any success. Soon I found myself sanding the stummel with 150 grit sand paper. The lacquer was very difficult to get rid off and after a considerable time, I was finally able to completely remove the lacquer coating. Believe you me, my fingers had started to hurt and sitting at the table for 3-4 hours at a stretch caused cramps in my back. But the end result was pleasing.

Then began the arduous and time consuming process of sanding the stummel with micromesh pads. I proceeded to sand the stummel with micromesh pads, going through wet sanding with 1500-2400 pads and dry sanding with 3200- 12000 grit pads. I was very pleased with the way the stummel had turned out. I decided that I liked this finish and after further cleaning and polishing, the stummel would look just beautiful. Once I was through with micromesh pads, I cleaned the stummel with undiluted Murphy’s oil soap and tooth brush. I paid special attention to the deep areas of the rustication, thoroughly cleaning it with the brush. I dried the bowl with cotton cloth and paper towels.I rubbed “Before and After Restoration balm” in to the stummel with fingers deep into the rustications and let it rest for a few minutes before I buffed it with a horse hair brush. Finally, I polished the stummel with a soft cotton cloth and muscle power!!!! I also polished the nickel ferrule with a jeweler’s cloth. Luckily, the corrosion was superficial and polished up nicely. Turning my attention to the badly damaged stem, I start by cleaning it with cotton pads dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I flamed the stem surface with a Bic lighter to raise the tooth chatter. The deeper tooth chatter and bite marks were filled with clear CA superglue. Thereafter began the time consuming process of curing, sanding with flat head needle file, 220 grit sand paper and finally by micromesh pads. In all, I had to repeat the fill and sand procedure thrice before resorting to final polish using micromesh pads. I also cleaned out the internals of the stem with pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol. To finish the pipe, I rubbed a small quantity of Halcyon wax II on to the stummel and gave it a nice polish. The pipe now does look stunning. I love the way the pipe has turned out and I can proudly reply back to this Omega “IT’S YOU!!!!!!” The finished pipe is shown below.