Tag Archives: Bowl – finishing

Introducing the House of Robertson Brand – A Large Rusticated Special Horn


Blog by Steve Laug

My brother Jeff found an assortment of House of Robertson pipes at an auction in Wilder, Idaho which is an area in the greater Boise, Idaho area. He picked them up for us to restore. I had forgotten that I had mentioned the brand in passing in a blog on Leonard’s Pipe Shop in Portland, Oregon. Here is the link to that blog where I mention it as one of the brands that Leonard’s sold: https://rebornpipes.com/2013/06/06/leonards-pipe-shop-portland-oregon/. It is a fascinating brand that really I had never had the privilege of seeing first hand. He cleaned them all up and on a recent trip to Idaho, I picked them up and brought them back to Canada. I took pictures of the lot of them to show the wide variety of pipes that they made in terms of both size and style. The craftsmanship is very good with the fit of the stem and shank well done and the finish both rusticated and smooth exemplary. Jeff picked up three more of the brand in Pocatello, Idaho so I will be working on more of these pipes in the future. They all have the name House of Robertson roughly hand etched on the side or underside of the shank with an engraving tool. I did a bit of hunting for information about the brand and found a link on Pipedia that gave me the only information I could find on the brand. I include that in total as it is interesting to read.

“House of Robertson” was in business for many years, but alas, closed their doors in 1999. They were located in Boise, Idaho. They are noted for making rather large and interesting pipes. Thayne Robertson was a Master Mason, AF & AM, and started the shop about 1947 and his son Jon started working there in 1970 when he finished college, along with Thayne’s daughter. Thayne and his son started making the big pipes at that time, and made them together until 1987 when Thayne passed away. Jon kept the store and his sister moved on to other things. The House of Robertson appears to have closed around 1999. https://pipedia.org/wiki/Robertson

The first of the six pipes I chose to work on was the large horn shaped rusticated pipe. It is stamped House of Robertson on a smooth panel on the left side of the shank and Special on a smooth part on the underside of the shank next to the stem/shank junction. The rusticated finish on the pipe was in good shape – just dusty and dirty. The deep grooves in the rustication were very dirty. The smooth rim top had some darkening where it had been repeatedly heated with a lighter. The bowl had a thin cake but it did not go all the way to the bottom of the bowl. The pipe is quite large but very light weight for the chunk of briar that was used. The stem was oxidized but did not have tooth marks or chatter on the surface. The fit of the stem to the shank was good. The vulcanite appeared to have been a pre-formed stem that was shaped to fit this pipe. The internals of the shank and stem had some tars and oils. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started the cleanup. The next close-up photos show the finish on various sides of the bowl. The first photo shows that the bowl had a thin cake and a darkened spot on the left side of the rim top where the previous owner had repeatedly lit the pipe. The inner edge of the rim had a few small nicks along the edges and there was some darkening on the back inner edge. The finish on the rim top was in great condition. The three photos that follow the rim view show the pipe from different angles. The next two photos show the etched name on the left side of shank on a smooth panel of briar. It reads House of Robertson. On the underside of the shank is etched the name Special – also on a smooth panel of briar. The stem was oxidized and pitted from the oxidation. There were no tooth marks on the stem top or underside. There was one small nick on the stem at the joint of the stem and the shank on the underside. I wonder if it did not happen when the word Special was etched on the shank. Probably I will never know but it is interesting.Jeff out did himself on the cleanup of this pipe. He reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the thin cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. When he had finished, the bowl looks almost new on the inside (I actually don’t think it has ever been smoked to the bottom of the bowl as it is raw briar in the bottom third).  He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim and shank with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the bowl, rim and shank. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. The light lava mess on the rim and the dust deep in the rustication was thoroughly removed without harming the finish underneath it. Once the grime was removed the finish actually looked to be in excellent condition I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. I took a photo of the rim top to show the great condition it was in after the cleanup. Jeff was able to remove all of the darkening and tar on the right side of the rim top and the back edge of the rim. The stem was clean but pitted and oxidized.I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the nooks and crannies of the rusticated finish, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers and wiped it off with a soft cloth. I buffed the bowl on the wheel with a horsehair shoe brush to polish it. It really began to have a deep shine in the briar. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation on both sides and in the angles of the saddle stem.I polished out the sanding scratches and marks in the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I brought it back to the table and sanded it with the final three 6000-12000 grit pads. After the final pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and worked the pipe over on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond to lightly polish the bowl and shank. I buffed the bowl with a light touch so as not to get any of the buffing compounds in the grooves of the rustication. I buffed the stem to raise the gloss on the vulcanite. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and gave 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 medium brown stains on the rusticated horn shaped bowl works well with the rich black of the short vulcanite stem. The polish and the reworking of the stem material left this a beautiful and well-made pipe. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside Diameter: 1 3/4 inches, Diameter of the chamber: 3/4 inch. I will be adding this one to the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. It will make a fine addition to the rack. If you are interested email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

Advertisements

Restoring a Newer Cadogan Era GBD Marquis 411 Pot


Blog by Steve Laug

This GBD Marquis is the last of the local pipe shop pipes that I will work on for a bit. It came from the estate of the same older gentleman whose wife returned them to the shop for restoration and resale. This is a smooth finished GBD. The briar has some beautiful straight, flame and birdseye grain around the bowl. On the right side of the shank are two putty fills that have shrunk and left rough spots around the number stamp. It is stamped on the left side of the shank with the GBD oval logo next to the line stamp – Marquis. On the right side it is stamped St. Claude – France over the shape number 411. From the lack of a brass rondel on the stem and the GBD logo stamped on the left side of the saddle instead I am putting this pipe in the Cadogan era of the brand. The stem is original but is a stamped stem blank with none of the original GBD Charm. It is a pretty good looking pipe even though it is dirty. I included this little GBD pot in the box of pipes that I sent off to my brother for cleaning. This is the fourth pipe that I have brought to the work table from the lot of about 50 to rework. I can only repeat how thankful I am for his willingness to clean and ream the pipes for me. It really has allowed me to move through the repairs much more quickly. When he received the pipe he took a series of photos of it to show its condition. He took a close up photo of the beveled rim top showing the thick cake and the overflow of lava onto the top of the bowl. The lava pretty well hid the beveled rim top from view. The cake is very thick and hard. Like the rest of the pipes in this estate the cake made the bowl appear to be quite small and in this condition would hold very little tobacco. The photo of the underside of the bowl and shank shows the beautiful birdseye grain. The next photos show the stamping on the left and the right side of the shank. It is clear and readable. The GBD Oval stamped logo on the side of the stem is in very good condition.The next photo shows the two shrunken fills on the right side of the shank and on the underside edge. Other than those two the pipe is flawless.Jeff took a close up of the GBD oval logo stamped on the side of the saddle stem. It is great shape. The stem itself has some wear and tear with tooth chatter, tooth marks and oxidation but it should clean up well.Jeff cleaned the pipe up very well. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet Reamer and a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He cleaned the mortise and the airway in the stem and shank with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime and dust of time. When I received the pipe it was very clean. I took photos of it to record what it looked like before I started my work.   Jeff removed the thick hard cake and the lava buildup on the rim top and revealed a deep inward bevel to the rim. The inner and outer edges of the rim were in good condition. The top surface of the rim had some minor darkening and a few small nicks but otherwise looked very good. The vulcanite stem looked far better than when Jeff started the cleanup. There were a lot of scratches on the surface and a few tooth marks on both the top and underside if the stem. The GBD oval logo was undamaged.The stem still had some remaining oxidation in the vulcanite so I dropped it into the Before & Stem Deoxidizer bath and let it soak overnight. The photo below shows the stem before I pushed it into the bath.While the stem soaked I turned my attention to the bowl. I cleaned up the fills on the right side of the shank. I used a dark stain pen to try to blend them into the briar a little better (ineffective by the way). I filled in the dips in the fills with a few drops of clear super glue. I made sure to overfill the repairs as the glue shrinks as it dries. Once it cured I used a fold piece of sandpaper to sand the spots and blend them into the surrounding briar without damaging the stamping. That was a bit tricky because of the location of the fills. When I had the area smooth I used 1500-4000 grit micromesh sanding pads to polish those areas. I used a dark brown stain pen to blend the repaired areas into the surrounding stain. I hand buffed the shank to further blend the stain. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my finger tips to deep clean the smooth finish, enliven and protect the briar. I let it sit for a few minutes and then buffed it with a cotton cloth. The grain of the briar really had begun to show through at this point and there was a rich shine to the briar. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I set the bowl aside and called it a night. In the morning I removed the stem from the Before & After Stem Deoxidizer and wiped it off with a paper towel to remove the remaining oxidation and bath. I cleaned out the airway with pipe cleaners and alcohol until it was clean. The stamping on the stem looked good. The stem was clean and black with the tooth marks very visible. It was ready for repairs to the tooth marks and polishing.I filled in the tooth marks with clear super glue on both sides of the stem and set it aside to allow the repairs to cure. When the repairs had dried I sanded them smooth and blended them into the surface of the stem. I reshaped the button on both sides of the stem with a needle file and sanded the stem down 220 grit sandpaper. The surface of the stem on both sides looks good. The tooth marks are gone and the surface is smooth. I carefully polished the saddle portion of the stem being careful to not damage the GBD oval stamping. Once the saddle portion was shining I applied some Antique Gold Rub’n Buff with a cotton swab to the stamped area. I made sure that it was deep in the stamp and let it sit for a few minutes before rubbing it off with the other end of the cotton swab and a cotton pad. I took all the excess away and left the stamping looking like brass. Once I buffed it the stem and logo would look like new.I worked over the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I polished out the sanding scratches and marks in the vulcanite – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each one. When I finished with the 12000 grit pad I gave it a final coat of oil and let it dry. Once it had dried, I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish Fine and Extra Fine. I rubbed it down with final coat Obsidian Oil and took the following picture. I put the stem back on the bowl and took the pipe to the buffing wheel to work it over. I buffed the bowl and stem once again with Blue Diamond to polish it. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats carnauba wax. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a really nicely grained GBD pipe 411 Pot that came out in the Cadogan era of the brand. Its amazing grain is only marred by the two fills on the right side of the shank. They are blended into the shank better than before but they still show. The pipe still looks great and feels comfortable in the hand. The medium brown stain and the polished black vulcanite work together to give the classic pot shaped pipe a rich look. It will make a great pipe addition to the rack and should be a great smoker.  The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Outer Diameter of the Bowl: 1 ½ inches, Diameter of the Chamber: 7/8 inches. I will be adding this one to the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. If you are interested email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

 

Restoring a Kriswill Made Danish Special Smooth Panel Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is one from a local pipe shop. It came from the estate of an older gentleman whose wife returned them to the shop for restoration and resale. This one is an interesting sandblast finish bent billiard. The sandblast is interesting showing a variety of grain around the bowl. It has smooth panels on the right and left side of the bowl and the right side of the shank. It is stamped on the smooth right side of the shank Danish Special over Made in Denmark. The finish on the pipe was dusty and some of the grooves were almost filled in with grime and dust. The rim top had lava built up in the blast on the flat surface. The bowl had a thick, hard cake almost filling it in. The stem had several tooth marks and was lightly oxidized. I sent the pipes off to my brother for cleaning. I have about 50 of them to rework and a waiting queue of pipes to repair. I really appreciate his willingness to clean and ream the pipes for me. When he received the pipe he took a series of photos of it to show its condition. He took a close up photo of the rim top showing the cake and the lava on the flat top of the bowl. The cake is quite thick and the lava has filled in the sandblast on the surface of the rim. He also took photos of the sandblast around the sides and underside of the bowl. His final photo shows the stamping on the right side of the shank. It is clear and readable. The brand Danish Special was unfamiliar to me. I had heard of Danish Pride, Danish Star, Royal Danish and other Stanwell brands but this one was unfamiliar.I Googled the name and found that the brand was a sub-brand or second brand of Kriswill pipes. From there I did some reading on Pipedia on the Kriswill Brand and found the following:  Kriswill was one of the large pipe manufacturers in Denmark during the 1960s and 1970s, and I believe closed around 20 years ago. Their catalog cover read “By Appointment to the Royal Danish Court, KRISWILL, Kriswork Briar Trading, Briar Pipes Hand Made in Denmark.” https://pipedia.org/wiki/Kriswill

I also went to the PipePhil logos and stamping site and found more on the date of the brand. It had no explicit ties to the Danish Special that I had but it was interesting nonetheless.

Kriswill is a brand of Kriswork Briar Trading, in Kolding (Denmark) established about 1955. Some of Kriswill pipes were designed by Sigvard Bernadotte, Swedish prince and brother to the late Queen Ingrid of Denmark. He collaborated with his Danish partner Acton Bjørn. When the company went bankrupt in the late 1970s it was on a level with Stanwell. Dan Pipe Cigar & Company (Hafenstrasse 30 D-21481 Lauenburg/Elbe, Ge) bought the rights to use the name and it is Holmer Knudsen and/or Poul Winsløw who make the Kriswill line. Nørding, on its side, bought the plant and introduced a Kriswell line. http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-k3.html

Jeff did his usual thorough cleanup on the bowl and stem. He carefully reamed the bowl back to bare briar with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He cleaned the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs – scrubbing out the mortise as it was dirty. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipes with Murphy’s Oil soap and a tooth brush and was able to remove all of the oils and dust in the smooth finish on the briar. He was able to remove all of the lava and grime from the rim top and left it looking very clean. The inner and outer edges of the rim top were in good shape. He soaked the stem in an Oxyclean bath to raise the oxidation to the surface of the vulcanite. It was clean and the remaining oxidation was very light. When the pipe arrived I took some photos to show how it looked before I did the restoration.  Jeff was able to remove the lava buildup on the rim top and clean grooves and crevices of the sandblast surface and edges of the rim. The inner and outer edges of the rim were in excellent condition and the rim top looked new. The stem was lightly oxidized and had tooth chatter and marks on both sides of the stem near the button.I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the nooks and crannies of the finish, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers to get it deep into the grooves. I let it sit for a few minutes and then wiped it off with a soft cloth and buffed it with a horsehair shoe brush. The briar really began to have a deep shine. The smooth panels showed some nice grain patterns and the sandblast looked really good. 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 sanded out the tooth chatter and many of the tooth marks with 220 grit sandpaper. There was a small tooth mark on the top and underside of the stem that I cleaned up and filled it in with a drop of clear super glue. When the glue cured, I sanded the repaired areas smooth to blend them into the surface of the stem. I worked over the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I polished out the sanding scratches and marks in the vulcanite – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each one. When I finished with the 12000 grit pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I polished it with Before & After Stem Fine Polish and wiped it down. I followed that by polishing it with the Extra Fine Polish. I buffed it with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine. I put the stem back on the bowl and took the pipe to the buffing wheel to work it over. I buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond to polish the briar. I buffed the stem at the same time to raise the gloss on the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats carnauba wax. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 6 1/2 inches, Height: 2 1/4 inches, Outer Diameter of the Bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Diameter of the Chamber: 7/8 inches. I will be adding this one to the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. It is a beautiful Kriswill made pipe that feels comfortable in the hand. It will make a great pipe addition to the rack and should smoke dry and cool. If you are interested email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

A Refurb and a Replacement Stem for a Lorenzetti Galatea Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

Not long ago I received a phone call from an interesting woman who had been given my phone number by a local pipe and cigar shop. She had a couple of pipes that needed some stem repair. In our conversation it turned out that they belonged to her husband and he had a total of two pipes. Both of them needed work and she was determined to get them repaired for him. In our talking we spoke of the options – either repairing the stem or making a new stem. She spoke with him and they decided to repair them. A few days later her husband stopped by the house to show me the two pipes. We talked and he decided to work on one pipe at a time so that he would have one to smoke while I repaired the other one. I finished the repair on the stem of his Big Ben Nautic 252 bent apple kind of quasi brandy shaped pipe. Here is the link to the stem repair on that pipe. https://rebornpipes.com/2017/12/22/restoring-repairing-a-damaged-stem-on-a-big-ben-nautic-252/ I returned it to him and he dropped off his second pipe for a repair as well. Two days later he called and said he had already chomped through the repair on the one he took with him. Even with a rubber softee bit he had demolished the repair. So we decided on this one to replace the stem.

The second pipe is a Lorenzetti Galatea Bent apple shape. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Lorenzetti over Italy. On the right side it is stamped Galatea. There is no shape number on the bowl or shank. The end of the shank has a decorative ferrule that is silver with two silver rings and a Lucite ring. The original stem also had a silver band between the shank and the rest of the stem. Lots of bling on this Italian beauty. The stem was black acrylic. From the side view photos below the pipe looked pretty good. The finish was dirty but the pipe appeared to be in decent condition. The top view photos show what the bowl and stem looked like from the top and underside views. Like the other pipe the bowl on this one had never been reamed and there was a thick cake that was composed of aromatic tobacco. It was soft and sticky. The lava overflow on the rim top was also sticky to touch. The smell of the pipe was a sickly sweet and sour smell of a pipe that had never seen a pipe cleaner and never had been cleaned. Once again he had gnawed the stem and had broken the top edge and a bit of the stem in front of the button. It was a mess. The underside had deep tooth marks and was also damaged. The poor pipe was a mess but he obviously smoked it as much as he did the first one. Now I had a task – clean and replace the stem on this one so that I could put a new stem on the first one. I had a mission. I took photos of the pipe before I cleaned it up. I took a close up photo of the bowl and rim to show the thickness and composition of the cake and the thick overflow of lava on the rim top. It looked to me that there was some damage to the inner edge and bevel of the rim on the right side of the bowl toward the back. I would know more once I reamed the cake back and could see what was underneath. It was not in nearly the condition of the Big Ben that finished for him early. I also took some photos of the stem damage so that you could see what I was up against. The sad thing to me was that this second pipe had exactly the same damage to the stem and the bowl looked identical as well.I reamed the bowl back to bare briar with a PipNet pipe reamer. I started reaming it with the smallest cutting head and worked my way up to the second cutting head which matched the diameter of the bowl. I touched up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe knife.The rim was in rough condition. There was gouging around the inner edge of the bowl cause by a knife and there was some charring in that area as well. The rest of the rim was in rough condition and appeared to have been knocked about a bit. It would need to be topped and reworked.I topped the bowl on a hard board with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove much of the surface damage to the rim top. The second photo below shows the top of the rim after the topping. You can see the charred area in that photo as well.I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to re-bevel the inner edge of the rim and smooth out the damaged areas on the right inner edge. I blended that area into the rest of the beveled rim. Once it was shaped correctly I wiped it down and polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-6000 grit pads. I restained the top and inner edge of the rim with a dark brown stain pen. The colour blended well with the rest of the bowl.I had enough of the smell of the pipe permeating the workspace so I decided to rid it of the smell filled my work area. I used pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to clean out the interior of mortise and the airway in the shank. I used a dental spatula to scrape the walls of the mortise area. It took a lot of pipe cleaners to remove all of the buildup but once it was clean the pipe smelled better and it would be more pleasant for me to work on.With internals clean I turned my attention to the outside of the briar. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the smooth finish, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers and wiped it off with a soft cloth. I buffed the bowl with a soft cotton cloth to polish it. It really began to have a rich shine in the briar. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. With the bowl finished I set it aside and went through my can of stems to find one that would work well with the pipe. I had two that could work – one was a vulcanite stem that had promise and looked good on the shank. It was the same length but slightly smaller in diameter than the original stem. The other stem was Lucite/acrylic. It was the same diameter as the previous stem and about 1/8 inch shorter. It also looked good with the pipe. Neither stem had the metal adornment on the end. I had nothing like that in my available stems. I chose the acrylic stem as it as harder than the vulcanite and I believe it will outlast the vulcanite stem with this particular pipe man. The tenon was slightly shorter but the shank was wide open with a deep mortise that was designed for a filter. I figured the length of the tenon did not matter in this case. I bent the stem over a heat gun to match the original stem. I sanded out the nicks and marks on the stem surface. The second and third photos below show the stem after the bend. I continued to sand out the nicks and scratches with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the stem surface. There were a lot of rough places on the stem and the tenon that needed to be smoothed out and blended into the surface.I polished out the sanding scratches and marks in the acrylic on both sides of the stem and the button surface itself with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped down the stem after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I used a series of needle files to open the stem and funnel the airflow. After that I buffed the stem on the buffing wheel with Blue Diamond to polish out the final scratches in the acrylic. I put the stem on the bowl and worked the pipe bowl over on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond to polish the bowl and stem. I hand buffed the stem to raise the gloss on the stem and polished the metal stem adornment with a silver polishing cloth. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The medium brown stains on the smooth finish of the apple shaped bowl works well with the rich black of the Lucite stem. The new stem and the polishing revealed a beautiful piece of briar and a well-shaped pipe. Thanks for looking.

Restoring an interesting SMS Meerschaum Canadian


Blog by Steve Laug

On a recent trip to Idaho to visit my parents, brothers and families I had the opportunity to go with my brother Jeff on a pipe hunt. We visited some of the shops where he has developed a relationship with the owners and had good luck on pipe purchases in the past. We visited a shop that belongs to the daughter of an old pipe man who I have known through business for quite a few years. I have purchased pipes and tobacco from him in years past and Jeff and I have bought a few estate pipes from him in recent years. On this trip we stopped and visited with his daughter a bit and had a look through her shop. Her dad had a few pipes there and a few sealed tins of Velvet Pipe Tobacco. These sealed tins still had the tax stamp on them and someone had the foresight to wrap a piece of duct tape carefully around the seal to keep the air out of the tin. I had to have one of those. There was one pipe that caught my attention – an oval shanked Meerschaum Canadian with an amber coloured acrylic stem made by SMS in a black vinyl covered case with a tan velour lining. I brought both the tin and the pipe to the counter and the daughter called her dad to let me dicker with him on the price.

We had a great conversation and caught up a bit regarding the past year for both of us. He is in his 80s and I always enjoy the conversation we have on all things pipe. I don’t think I have ever seen him without a pipe in his mouth and a wreath of smoke around his head. I expect that is what he looked like on the other end of the phone. We came to an agreed price for the pipe and tin. He always starts high in terms of price and I low ball him. We go back and forth and both end up feeling like we made a good deal. We said our good byes and I handed the phone back to his daughter. I paid the bill, said our good byes to his daughter and headed out to the next antique shop on the docket for the day.

I took some pictures of the pipe case to show its condition before I started my restoration work on the pipe. The faux leather case is in pretty good condition – just a few scuff marks but the edges are smooth and there is no peeling happening with the covering. The golden/tan velour interior is also in good condition – a little dusty and a few flakes of tobacco left behind in the fabric. It should clean up nicely as well. The pipe inside was in pretty decent condition. There was a cake in the bowl and some rim darkening and lava overflowing over the back of the rim. The bowl and shank had a lot of scratches and nicks in the finish with a bit of “road rash” on the bottom edge of the left side of the bowl. There were also some colour developing on the long shank of the pipe and some odd spotting around the top of the bowl. It was patina developing but it was spotty and strange – I have never seen that kind of colouring on a meer before. The stem was in good condition but had tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The stem had a threaded tenon that screwed into and inset in the shank. It aligned perfectly. The SMS brass logo was set in the top of the stem and had been covered with a spot of clear acrylic to make it smooth and even with the surface of the stem. It should clean up well with a few character marks from its journey through the hands of different pipe men. I took some close up photos of the bowl, rim top and sides of the bowl to show the scratching and general condition of the pipe. The nicks and scratches on the left side of the bowl are visible in the second photo. The colouration process on the pipe is also visible through the scratches. The tooth marks and chatter are visible in the photos of the stem. They are predominantly around the button area on both sides. There are also some scratches and nicks on the sides and close to the shank/stem junction.I have to say how spoiled I have become when it comes to cleaning up pipes before I can do the restoration work. Thank you Jeff for the great work that you have been doing behind the scenes at rebornpipes. It is times like this when I have to clean up a pipe before I begin working on it that I am reminded of how much you do before I ever get the pipes. On this one I began with the cleanup work. I reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and took out all of the cake on the walls.I unscrewed the stem from the shank and wiped down the tenon with a damp cotton pad to remove the tars and oils in the threads on the outer edge of the airway. Afterwards I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners until it was clean.I sanded out the tooth chatter and marks with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I also sanded out the nicks and marks further up the stem sides and near the shank/stem union.I worked over the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I polished out the sanding scratches and marks in the amber acrylic – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with damp cotton pad after each one. When I finished with the 12000 grit pad I wiped it down a final time and dried it off. I set the stem aside and turned my attention to the meerschaum bowl. I polished the meerschaum bowl and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads to remove the damage of the scratches and nicks in the bowl. I was able to remove almost all of the surface scratches (leaving behind only those that add character) and most of the heavy damage to the marks on the lower left side of the bowl. I dry sanded the bowl and shank with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim down after each pad with a damp cotton pad. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully worked the pipe on the buffing wheel with Blue Diamond to further polish the bowl and the shank. It really brought life to the meerschaum. I also buffed the acrylic stem at the same time and worked it to a shine. I gave it several coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine in the meerschaum. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 6 1/4 inches, Height: 2 1/4 inches, Diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inch, Diameter of the chamber: 7/8 inches. I will be adding this one to the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. It is an unusual shape in my opinion and it will make a fine meerschaum addition to the rack. If you are interested email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

 

A Few Firsts on a GBD Garland II Calabash 9552


Blog by Aaron Henson

Before you get into this write up, I need to confess that despite my best efforts, I did a poor job of photo documenting this repair and restoration.  I had good intentions, but the project was spread out over two months, working on it as I had time. Because of this, some of the pictures were taken out of sequence and others were chosen that best show a repair but also show repairs that have not yet been covered in the write up.

I realized a while back, that I had not restored a pipe recently that I was really excited about.  There have been a number pipes that have crossed my work table and some have even posed some new challenges but the pipes themselves were hardly memorable. With the pickings at the second hand store in my area being slim – I turned to eBay to see if I could find a project pipe that would peak my interest.  After a few hours of browsing I, found just what I was after: a stemless, GBD Garland II stummel – shape 9552.  I submitted my bid and picked it up for a price that I thought was reasonable.

I don’t typically like to buy pipes on eBay.  I prefer to be able to see them first hand so I know what I am getting myself into.  But in this case the seller was forthcoming in the auction description, revealing that the pipe had a major crack in the bowl and another in the shank and of course, it lacked a stem.  But what really fascinated me was the shape of the stummel and what promised to be some beautiful grain patterns.

The following pictures were from the seller auction page: Wanting an idea of what kind of stem was originally on the pipe, I headed on-line to see what I could find.  My first stop was here at Reborn Pipes.  In a 2016 article, our host, Steve, restored a GBD Colossus Fantasy 9552.  I found additional examples of the 9552 shape in the GBD’s Prehistoric, Prestige and Virgin lines.  In all cases the 9552 originally came with a bent saddle bit – some fancier than others.

These next two pictures are of a Garland II I found online.  I was not going to try to duplicate the band in the stem, but knew I was going to need a band on the shank and that wouldn’t look too bad. Then I ended up at a Pipedia article for GBD Models where I learned that the Garland is a seconds line from GBD. I found this surprising because the Garland that I have and the ones I have seen online are excellent specimens of briar.  Admittedly, my eye is not that experienced, but just from the quality of the briar and the lack of fills and pitting I would guess that the Garland line is GBD’s higher end seconds consisting more of fabrication errors rather than materials flaws.  Can anyone confirm my guess?

Another interesting fact that I note is that the 9552 shape is often stamped with “Colossus”.  The term Colossus was used by GBD as plus sized pipe designation.  This size designation is used on all the GBD lines of pipes, but is lacking on this particular Garland II stummel. When the stummel arrived, I eagerly open the package and began to inspect the damage up close, fearing that some of the worst damage may not have been disclosed.  But the seller’s pictures and description were accurate and I didn’t find hidden issues.  The pipe was indeed big; the bowl height is 2.4 inches and the outside diameter is 1.75 inches. The chamber is 0.96 of an inch in diameter and 1.9 inches deep.

The left side of the shank is stamped GBD in an oval over Garland II.  The left side has the COM (Country of Manufacture) stamp: MADE IN LONDON in a circle over ENGLAND and the shape number to the right: 9552. There was a heavy amount of the lava on the rim and the bevel at the edge of the chamber was a little distorted.  The chamber too seemed to be drilled a little off center.  Perhaps this was the why it was a second?  The chamber had been reamed but not back to briar. The horizontal crack in the bowl was located on the left side and was a little over an inch long.  I suspected that it went all the way through bowl wall but I could not be certain until I finished reaming the chamber.  The crack in the stem was about half an inch long from the end of the shank right through the COM stamp but missing the shape number. Looking the pipe over closely, I noted quite a few dents in the heel of the stummel and handling scratches on the sides of bowl and the rim.  I guessed that this piece of briar had been rattling around in a drawer for some time.Now that I had the stummel in hand I could measure the shank diameter (.610” at the end) and estimate the length that I wanted the new stem to be; about 3-1/4 inches. I took these measurements to the Vermont Freehand website and selected a stem that best fit.  I chose the vulcanite stem blank number 722, a round saddle bit 21/32” diameter and 3-1/16” inches long.  I always order two in case I ruin the first one.  I also ordered four nickel plated shank rings, two 15.5 mm and two 16 mm not being sure which would be the better fit. With the parts on order, I started cleaning up the interior of the stummel.  I reamed the chamber back to bare wood with my Castleford reamer and Decatur pipe knife. I also cleaned the shank alternating with bristled and soft pipe cleaners dipped in 91% isopropyl alcohol.  The last person who tried reaming the chamber must have also ran a pipe cleaner or two through it because it only took five or six pipe cleaners before they started coming out as clean as they went in. The mortise I cleaned with cotton swabs. In all, the stummel was relatively clean. I wiped down the outside of the stummel with alcohol and acetone to remove the grime.  Underneath the dirt and oils was some beautiful straight grain with a birds-eye heel.  I looked closely and could not find any fills.  Next, I addressed the thin crust of dried tars on the rim.  I wetted down a green pad (mine was actually blue and did not work as well as the original green ones) with a mixture of tap water and granulated Oxy-clean.  Placing the pad in a shallow dish, I pressed the rim of the pipe down on the pad and scrubbed in a circular motion.  A little elbow grease and the moist Oxy-clean solution did its job. I dried the stummel with a paper towel and set it aside to dry for a bit.Next, I wanted to remove the ghosts of the previous tobacco that I could still smell in the chamber with an alcohol soak.  I use the cotton ball method because it seems to do the job and is easier to clean up than the salt method. This chamber needed three cotton balls and I used 98% grain alcohol for the soak. I placed a cap over the top of the bowl for the first couple of hours to keep the alcohol from evaporating too fast then I removed the cap so the evaporative action can draw out the tars from the briar.When I got back to it the next day I was disappointed (though not surprised) that the crack in the bowl was wet where alcohol had been seeping through.  At lease now I knew for sure that the crack went all the way through the bowl wall.  The good news was I could easily see the ends of the hairline crack.  I used a dental pick to mark the ends so I could find them later, then I removed the cotton balls and wiped out the chamber with a dry paper towel. I began the crack repair by using a small drill bit (0.5 mm) and hand drilled the stopper holes at the location I marked with the dental pick. Since the crack went completely trough the chamber wall I also drilled the hole all the way through the wall.  I have not dealt with a crack that was this deep before so I was on unfamiliar ground.  I packed the hole the half full with briar dust using a tooth pick then placed a drop of clear CA glue into the hole – coaxing it in with the tooth pick.  I filled the holes up the rest of the way and dripped more glue.  I used a magnifying glass to locate the end of the shank crack and gave it the same treatment.

I unsuccessfully tried working some CA glue into the bowl crack. The glue just seemed to set too fast and did not penetrate the crack.  The shank crack on the other hand I could work open and get the glue to flow into it.  I put a clamp on the shank while the glue set.  Then when dry, I sanded the glued repairs smooth with 220 grit paper, careful not to over sand and change the shape of the pipe or damage the stamping on the shank. I resolved to repair the bowl crack by applying coat of heat resistant epoxy to the inside of the chamber.  In this case I used the two part JB Weld – not the Quick Weld, which is useful for other pipe repairs.  For pipe chamber repairs, I like the original JB Weld epoxy, it is easy to use and when cured it has a 550 degree (F) heat resistance.  It is also easy to sand smooth.  I apply it with my finger because it is much easier to get an even coat.  I highly recommend wearing a pair of powder free Nitrile blue gloves for this operation! By this time the parts from Vermont Freehand arrived and wanted to band the shank. I have fixed a few banded pipes before but never put a band on an unbanded pipe. I tried dry fitting the two different sized bands I had bought.  The smaller band would only just slip on the first fraction of an inch so I was glad I had ordered the next size up. The bands were a bit wider than I wanted because I did not want it to cover up too much of the stamping.  Not sure what to do about the band width, I kept focusing on the seating of the band.  I used a heat gun to heat up the band and get it to expand.  Then with the band resting on a wood block, I pressed the shank down into the ring. The first attempt didn’t go well. The band was a bit cocked and only seated about a quarter of an inch.  I realized that the shank’s taper was going to prevent the band from going on much farther and that was going to resolve the width issue; I was going to have to trim the band.

I removed the band and heated it up again.  I smeared a little CA glue around the end of the shank and was able to seat the band squarely.  This time about 3/8” onto the shank.  Once cool, I used a skinny wheel on a rotary tool to trim of the excess band material and flush it up to the end of the shank.  Although the band covered up the COM stamp and ‘AND II’ of ‘GARLAND II’ it was necessary and it gives the stummel a touch of class. I was pleased that the replacement stem I had chosen seemed to be a good fit although it was going to need some work.  I started by using a fine tooth file to square up the face of the stem so it sits flush to the shank and removing the casting burrs.The tenon on the blank was way oversized as was the body of the stem.  I don’t have a tenon turning tool, so I use my drill press to turn the stem.  Wedging a bamboo skewer into the air hole at the tenon end, I leave about an inch of skewer exposed that I can secure into the chuck of the drill.  Setting the drill to about 1300 RPM I use small pieces of 60 grit sand paper to slowly reduce the diameter of the tenon and the stem until it the correct size. The drill press method works well in theory.  Once in a while the stem slips loose from its friction fit with the skewer and I have to reseat it.  I work the vulcanite with 60, 120 and 220 grit sand paper, leaving the polishing to be done by hand with micromesh pads.

I kept a caliper nearby set at the correct tenon diameter to check my progress.  As I got closer to the correct size, I switched to 120 and 220 grit paper.  But I didn’t switch soon enough!  By the time I got some of the deep scratches of the 60 grit out I had overturned the tenon and it was a hair too small.  I finished turning the body of the stem before addressing the tenon issue.I thought at first that a little bee’s wax on the tenon would be enough to tighten the fit but in the end I had enlarge the tenon.  To do this, I heated the tenon and inserted a drill bit into the air hole to enlarge the tenon.  Letting the tenon cool with the bit in it I checked the fit:  A little too big.  I didn’t want to take anymore material off the tenon because if the tenon gets hot during a smoke it will return to its original size, vulcanite has a memory.  I looked around my tool box and found a small punch that had a slightly smaller diameter than the drill bit and repeated the heating process.  This time the fit was much better.

With the stem fitted it was time to bend the stem.  I have jig for holding round stock and I used this to hold the assembled pipe steady with the bit resting on a 1-1/4” round dowel.  Using my heat gun, I heated the bit until it draped over the dowel.  I dipped the bent stem in water to cool the vulcanite and set the shape.  Then I checked the angle of the bend and had to repeat the process a couple of times until I had what I thought was the original stem shape just right.Stem polishing started with 220 grit to remove the remainder of the casting burrs.  Then I wet sand with micromesh pads 1500 – 4000.I removed the plastic guard after the 2400 pad.  I used the 3200 and higher micromesh pads to also polish the band.After the 4000 pad I coated the stem with mineral oil and let it sit for a few hours.  Then I finish polishing with pads 6000 to 12000. I started finishing the stummel by giving it a steam treatment to raise the dents and handling damage.  Holding a wet terry cloth rag on the briar I press a hot iron on to it.  This method works very well but I have two points of caution: 1) don’t burn your fingers in the steam; and 2) do not press the iron near the stamping, it will ruin stamping very quickly.  I only apply the iron around the bowl body and the heel where the dents are the worst anyway.

I sanded the stummel with micromesh pads 1500 through 3200, with special attention paid to the rim to make sure it was smooth.  I selected Fiebing’s dark brown aniline dye to better hide the repairs and applied the stain, without dilution, using a cotton swab straight from the bottle.  I used a flame to heat and set the stain.  I wiped down the stummel with isopropyl alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the excess stain.  I kept wiping it down until the level of color was what I thought it should be. After staining the stummel I like to refresh the briar with a light coat of mineral oil and let the oil soak in overnight.  All of the alcohol in the stain and the wiping down tends to dry out the stummel and I find the mineral oil helps to bring some of the life back to the briar.  It also seems to give the finished pipe a healthy look.After the oil soaked in, I polished the briar with the 3200 – 6000 micromesh pads.  Wiping it down with a clean cloth when finished.I took the assembled pipe back to my drill press/buffing station and ran over the entire pipe with red diamond polishing compound.  Two or three passes of the pipe seems to prepare the pipe well for the final finish.  I wiped the pipe down with a microfiber cloth to remove the buffing compound and then changed the buffing wheel for the waxing wheel.  Three coats of carnauba wax put a nice shine on the pipe.

The last step in this restoration was the bowl coat.  I had earlier sanded the epoxy chamber repair and wiped out the bowl with alcohol so the inside was relatively smooth.  I mixed up a small batch of bowl coat using 2 teaspoons of sour cream and about three activated charcoal capsules.  This made a thick, black, creamy paste that I spooned into the chamber with a wood spatula made from a popsicle stick. Donning the Nitrile gloves again, I used my finger to evenly spread the coating around the inside of the chamber. Wiping the excess coating off the rim with a cotton pad I set the pipe aside to dry for a few days.

Now am I looking forward to the weather warming up so I can break in this pipe.  I think it might become one in my regular rotation. Thank you for sharing in my adventure. If you like the tamper in the picture above, it is one that I made and is for sale.  Please see the Reborn Pipes Store page for it and other tampers.  All proceeds go to charity.

 

 

 

 

 

Renewing a large Calaman Brunette Unique Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

This large Italian made Calaman pipe was one that Jeff was drawn too but I was not sure about. He picked it up anyway and it turns out to be a very well made pipe. The bowl has a rustication pattern that I have only seen on Lorenzo pipes, so this may well be one of theirs. It is stamped on the underside of the shank Calaman over Brunette and at the end of the shank near the stem junction it reads Italy and underneath Italy it is stamped with the shape number 840. It is stained in a medium brown stain with black in the pits and rustication on the bowl and shank. The stem is good quality vulcanite. The bowl had a thin cake in it that was soft and smelled of aromatic tobacco. The finish was in good condition other than being dirty and dusty. The bowl had indents carved into it at the back side that are perfect for the thumb regardless of whether you hold it with your right or your left hand. The stem was lightly oxidized and the CM stamp on the left side of the saddle was undamaged. There were light tooth marks on both sides of the stem at the button. The marks on the underside were deeper than the ones on the topside. Jeff took a few photos to show the condition of the pipe before he worked on it.The next photos show the bowl from various angles revealing the condition. The first one shows the rim and bowl with the cake lining the bowl. If you try you can almost smell the aromatic, soft cake. The rim is in good condition – a little dirty on the back side of the rim top. The second photo shows the stem indents on the back side of the bowl. It makes the pipe a comfortable one to hold in the hand. The third and fourth photos show the underside of the bowl and shank. The stamping is readable. The CM stamp on the left side of the saddle stem is also in great condition. The oxidized stem shows lots of tooth chatter and some tooth marks on both sides near the button.Jeff did a thorough cleanup on the bowl and stem. He reamed the bowl back to bare briar with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall reamer. He cleaned the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs – scrubbing out the mortise as it was dirty. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil soap and a tooth brush and was able to remove all of the oils and dust in the rusticated finish on the briar. He was able to remove all of the grime from the rim top and left it looking very clean. The rim top and outer edge were very clean and the inner and outer edges were in good shape. He soaked the stem in an Oxyclean bath to raise the oxidation to the surface of the vulcanite. When it arrived I took some photos of it to show how it looked before I did the restoration.  The rim top and bowl looked really good. The finish was in great shape and the bowl was ready to load and smoke again. It was really clean.The Oxyclean soak had really raised the oxidation to the surface of this stem. The stem was internally very clean but the surface was heavily oxidized when it arrived.Because the stem was so oxidized after the soak in Oxyclean, I put it in a bath of Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer to soak overnight and let the enzymes in the mixture work on the oxidation. In the morning I removed the stem from the deoxidizer and wiped off the excess deoxidizer from the surface of the stem with a paper towel. I cleaned out the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol to remove any remnants of the bath from that part of the stem. I forgot to take any photos of the stem at this point but it was in much better condition. There was still some oxidation in the angles but otherwise it was cleaner. The tooth marks chatter on the top and underside of the stem were very visible. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter and minimize the tooth marks on both sides of the stem. I reshaped the button with the sandpaper and a needle file. I sanded the rest of the stem to break up the remaining oxidation.I polished out the sanding scratches and marks in the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. The photo I took of the stem after working it over with the 1500-2400 grit pads showed some oxidation in the light of the flash. I buffed the stem with red Tripoli on the buffing wheel being careful around the CM logo stamp so I would not damage it. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each one. It looked better than before but I still was not satisfied so I buffed it again this time using red Tripoli and Blue Diamond. I brought it back to the table and sanded it with the final three 6000-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with oil after each pad. When I finished with the 12000 grit pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I set the stem aside and rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the smooth finish, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers and used a horse hair shoe brush to work it into the rustication on the bowl and shank. I wiped it off with a soft cloth. The briar really began to have a deep shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I put the stem back on the bowl and took the pipe to the buffing wheel to work it over. I carefully buffed it with Blue Diamond using a light touch to keep the polish out of the rustication. I like polishing with Blue Diamond as it raises a good shine without a lot of work. I buffed the stem at the same time to raise the gloss on the vulcanite. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax 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 black stain in the nooks and crannies of the rustication and the medium brown stain on the smooth portions of the bent billiard shaped bowl worked well with the rich black of the polished vulcanite stem. This Calaman Brunette pipe has a unique shape with the thumb dents on the back of the bowl. The finish feels good in the hand and I would think it would heat up nicely when smoked. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Diameter of the chamber: 7/8 inches. I will be adding this one to the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. This is a larger pipe and it’s a nice addition to the rack. If you are interested email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.