Tag Archives: Bowl – refinishing

Pipe Hunting in the Portabello Market, London – Found a PNB Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

Over the years I had heard and read about the Portobello Road Market – the world’s largest antique market with over 1,000 dealers selling every kind of antique and collectible. On past trips to England I had not been able to take the time to go have a look. On the current trip it looked like I would have time and to top it off we had rented an Air BNB apartment within walking distance of the market. I looked up information about the market so I could be prepared. I want to know what to expect when I went walked to it on the weekend. But I have to tell you, all the preparation I did was not enough to prepare me for what the reality would be like once I turned the corner in the Nottinghill neighbourhood and came out on Portabello Road. The next two photos give you a bit of a feel for what I saw on that Saturday morning. The streets were crowded with people of every size, shape and ethnicity. There were booths lining both sides of the street. There were shops with a variety of wares to sell. I wandered up and down the street of the market looking at the booths and shops along sidewalks and street. As mentioned above, the market is known for its antique sellers and shops so I was hoping to find a few pipes in the windows and shop cases. I walked through several of the antique shops (really like our Canadian antique malls) looking quickly at the cases to identify the ones I would come back to and spend more time at. In one particular shop there was a small corner booth by the door that had display cases around the front and side of the spot. The cases were full or pipes and cheroot holders carved out of meerschaum. There were many old carved meerschaum pipes with shapes of animals and faces. There were some briar pipes as well with different stems – varying from amber to horn to rubber. This was a booth where I needed to take some time to go through the pipes.In the next two photos you can get a bit of an idea of how the pipes were displayed in the cases. They were really a jumble and it would take time to go through them. You can see meerschaum pipes with and without cases and stems. You can see oddly shaped bog oak pipes with amber stems and old pipes with metal shank and bowl caps. There were long pipes and shot pipes and many in between. The prices were surprisingly high so it would be a matter of narrowing the field down to one or two that I would add to my bag.I moved from the side case to the front of the booth to look through some of the pipes displayed there. These too were a jumble and mixed through displays of figurines, crucifixes and antique cutlery. There were even books on collectible meerschaums on display on top of the cases.I finally narrowed down the pipes I was interested in to the one below. It was a large billiard that was in fairly good condition. There was a light cake in the bowl, the rim top had some lava and the stem had tooth marks. The stem had a piece of paper wrapped around the threaded bone tenon to give it enough bite to hold onto the threads in the mortise. The pipe was stamped on the left side of the shank with the letters PNB or PBN in a circle with a star on the right and left, outside of the circle. It also had a thin oxidized brass/gold band on the shank end that would clean up nicely. The stem looked to be Bakelite or Amberoid and had some light tooth marks on the top and underside near the button. I took the photos below when I returned to the apartment after the shopping adventure. The next photo shows the stamping on the left side of the shank. I cannot find any information on the brand either as PNB or PBN. I posted the logo on the Gentlemen’s Pipe Smoking Society on Facebook and Mike Hagley had a suggestion that was a possibility. He said the pipe looks like a Belgian made pipe, so he suggested that PNB stands for Pipier Nationale Belgique. Another friend on the same GPSS group Neville van Niekerk from Germany wrote that the pipe was a Bernstein pipe from Vienna, Austria. He went on to say that they were originally Meerschaum pipe makers until the Turks decided that Meerschaum could not be exported in blocks any more. Thank you both for your suggestions.I wrapped the pipe in bubble wrap and put it in my suitcase until I returned to Vancouver three weeks later. I was looking forward to working on the pipe. When I got home I unwrapped the pipe and brought it to my work table. I took some photos of it to chronicle what it looked like before I started. The photos below show the pipe when I started. I took a close up photo of the bowl and the rim to show the cake and the rim darkening. The inner and outer edge of the rim was in good condition. There was some light scratching on the rim top and some darkening all around the inner edge but it would clean up nicely.The stem was in pretty good condition. There was some light tooth chatter on the button surface and a tooth mark on the right side of the top of the button. There was a deep tooth mark on the underside of the stem near the button as well. I took another photo of the stamping on the shank and was able to get a clearer photo.I unscrewed the stem from the shank and the paper wrapping on the tenon came off easily. The band on the shank was also loose so it fell off as well.I wiped the outside of the bowl and shank down with 99% isopropyl alcohol on cotton pads. I wanted to remove any remnants of the finish and also the grime that was ground into the briar on the sides of the bowl and rim. The pipe has some beautiful grain – a mix of birdseye, cross and flame grain. I polished the brass band with micromesh sanding pads to remove the oxidation that had darkened it. The shine returned and it was a nice golden colour that would work really well with the amber coloured stem and virgin briar.With the band removed from the shank a flaw in the briar was revealed on the right side of shank near the shank end. I filled it in with clear super glue and when it dried sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and would later polish it with micromesh sanding pads to blend it in with the rest of the briar.I reamed the bowl back to bare briar with a PipNet pipe reamer and finished cleaning it up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife.I pressed the band on temporarily so that I could polish it in place while polishing the briar. I wet sanded the briar and band with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cotton pad after each pad. Each micromesh pad brought a deeper shine to briar and band. I removed the band and wiped the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I rubbed it into the briar with my fingers, let it sit for about 10 minutes and then buffed it off with a soft cloth. It really brought the grain to life. I buffed it lightly with a shoe brush and a soft cloth. I wiped down the shank end with some alcohol on a cotton pad to clean it off so that I could reglue the band. I used a dental pick to put glue on the shank end and the inside of the band. I pressed it in place and lined it up. I held it until the glue set.Once the glue dried I decided to address the worn threads in the mortise. The threads on the old bone tenon would not hold onto the threads in the mortise. I painted the threads in both with clear fingernail polish and let them dry.Once the glue dried I decided to address the worn threads in the mortise. The threads on the old bone tenon would not hold onto the threads in the mortise. I painted the threads in both with clear fingernail polish and let them dry.When the fingernail polish had dried I worked on the tooth marks on the stem. I sanded the tooth chatter with 220 grit sandpaper and reshaped the button to remove the tooth marks.  I filled in the tooth marks with amber super glue. I purposely overfill the areas so that as the glue dries and shrinks it still fills in the dent. I set the stem aside to let the glue cure.Once the repairs had dried I sanded them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I cleaned up the threads a bit on the old bone tenon and turned it in place into the mortise. It fit snuggly and held tightly in the shank. I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and then gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax to shine and protect. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is quite a large pipe. The dimensions are, Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. I am pleased with the way the pipe turned out. Thanks for looking.

 

 

 

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Restoring an interesting old Bakelite Cavalier


Blog by Steve Laug

One of the sellers I follow on eBay often has unique older pipes that catch my eye. I can’t remember how long I have been following him but it has been quite a while now and I have purchased many pipes from him. When this old style cavalier came up for sale on his page it caught my eye and I wanted to add it to the collection. There were no distinguishing marks on the stem or shank. It was identified as a no name Cavalier. The bowl appeared to be briar though I was not certain of that. The base unit was one integral piece from the tip of the cavalier end to the end of the preformed button. The bowl looked like it had been smoked as there was a cake in it that had run over like lava on the rim top. It had a small nick in the side of the bowl that can be seen in the first photo below. The stem looked to be oxidized but I was not sure what the material was – it could have been vulcanite or even Bakelite. I would know more when it arrived in Vancouver from England.The second photo shows the delicate look of the bowl and the base. There is something simple and flowing about the pipe. It is that look that caused me to bid on the pipe. It just flowed nicely from the button to the end of the base.While I waited for it to arrive I did a bit of research on the web. I checked my favourite site for metal and non-metal pipes that have either threaded or push fit bowls. I was not sure what I was dealing with on the above pipe because there were no photos of it with the bowl removed. My guess was that it was a push fit bowl. I did find a similar looking pipe on the Smoking Metal website. The link is http://www.smokingmetal.co.uk/pipe.php?page=325 and the pipe bears the stamp L.M.B. in a rectangular banner on the left side of the shank. The bowl looks identical to the one that I picked up and the base had a very similar shape. I would be able to tell more about it when it arrived.When the pipe arrived I was in Europe for work so it sat for three weeks. When I got home I opened it to see what I was dealing with. I took some photos of the pipe before I started to work on it to show what it looked like when I began. I was not sure what the stem and base was made of – I was leaning toward Bakelite rather than vulcanite but the cleanup would verify. I took a close up photo of the bowl and the rim. The bowl had an uneven, thick cake that all but clogged the air hole in the bottom of the bowl. The rim had a lava overflow that covered the flat surface.The stem and base were oxidized. It had the brown tint of oxidation. I still wondered if the stem was vulcanite or if it was Bakelite. I dropped it in a container of Before & After Deoxidizer to let it soak.When I took it out of the Deoxidizer the oxidation was gone and the underlying colour of the stem and base unit was a rich dark brown. It turned out to be Bakelite not vulcanite. It would clean up nicely and be a beauty. I cleaned out the airway and the inside of the base of the pipe with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the build up inside. It took a bit of work before I could remove all of the grime. I reamed the bowl and scraped the tars off the rim top with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. It took a bit of work to scrape away all of the buildup and the lava overflow. I used a bristle brush to clean out the airway in the bottom of the bowl and remove the clogged hole. I wiped the bowl down with an alcohol dampened cotton pad to remove the grime on the bowl. The wood underneath did not appear to be briar. I am thinking that it is maple or some other hardwood with a tight grain pattern. I sanded the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. When I finished polishing it with the micromesh sanding pads I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. The Balm brought the briar to life. The rich colour and the grain on the alternate wood came to life. With the bowl finished I turned the attention to the Bakelite base and stem. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. The photos below show the process. I pressed the bowl back on the base and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the stem and the bowl. I gave the base and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I gave the bowl multiple coats of wax and buffed it until the bowl shown. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finish on the bowl and dark brown Bakelite stem combine to present a beautiful pipe. The dimensions of this pipe are Length: 8 inches, Height: 2 inches, Bowl diameter: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. Thanks for looking.

This Old Italian Canadian showed Promise


Blog by Steve Laug

Jeff picked this heavily rusticated pipe up on one of his recent forays into the antique shops and malls of Montana. It is sea rock like rustication on the bowl and shank with a wire rustication on top of that. The finish was very dirty with a lot of dirt and grime in the deeper grooves of the rustication. There was a random stem stuck in the shank when he picked it up – I think it was just to make it more sellable. The stem is a round saddle stem while the shank is oval. The finish was dirty and there were some nicks in it around the shank end. The bowl had a heavy cake in it with some lava overflow filling in the rustication pattern on the rim top. There appeared to be some burn damage on the back left side of the rim top. The pipe had a smooth portion on the underside of the shank for stamping but the only stamping was at the shank/stem junction where it read ITALY. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his clean up. The rim top can be seen in the next photo. You can see the thick cake and the lava overflow on the top of the rim. It is hard to know if there is damage to the inner edge of the rim but the outer edge was clean and undamaged. It appeared that there was some burn damage on the back left side of the inner rim edge but we would not know until Jeff cleaned the pipe.Jeff took pictures of both sides of the bowl to show the rocky, craggy appearance of the finish on the bowl. It is unusual and interesting at the same time.The next photos show the shank and Italy stamping on the shank end. The stem is obviously the wrong one. You can see the variation of the round saddle portion of the stem and the oval shank. I am not too worried about the stem as it is going in the bin anyway as I will need to fit a new stem on the shank. Jeff worked his magic in cleaning up this pipe as it was a real mess on the rim and deep grit and grime in the grooves of the finish. 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. Once the grime was removed the finish actually looked quite good condition. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. I did not bother with the old stem as it would be replaced. I went through my can of stems and found one that had the same diameter all the way around as the shank. The fit against the shank end was almost perfect. I would need to make the edges taper a bit more at the shank. The stem was new and still had castings on the sides and the end of the button. The tenon was a perfect fit in the mortise. I put the stem in the shank and took photos of the restemmed pipe. The pipe looks good with the new stem. There is promise in the appearance at this point. I repaired the chip on the left side of the shank end with clear super glue. I needed to rebuild that edge to remove the damaged area and allow the stem to fit snug against the shank. I used a sharp knife to bevel the edges of the mortise to accommodate the hip at the tenon/stem junction.I used a brass bristle wire brush on the rustication to clean off any remnants of the finish and then wiped the bowl down with acetone on cotton pads to remove the dust. I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain and flamed it to set it in the briar. I repeated the process several times until I was happy with the coverage on the bowl. I set the bowl aside to dry overnight before proceeding with polishing the briar.In the morning I buffed the bowl with a shoe brush to raise a shine on the briar. I took the following photos to show what the pipe looked like at this point in the process. The bowl is looking good with a lot of colour variation due to the roughness of the rustication. I laid aside the finished bowl and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the casting marks and scratches on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I opened up the slot in the button with needle files to make it easier to push a pipe cleaner through. After I had removed the casting marks and the scratches on the stem surface it was time to work on it with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiped it down after each pad with Obsidian Oil to give the next pad more bite when I sanded. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and again wiped it down with the oil after each pad. After the final pad I wiped it down with a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. Each photo shows it progressively getting a shine. I set aside the stem and picked up the bowl once again. I used the Mark Hoover’s Before & After Restoration Balm on the briar. I rubbed it into the grooves on the bowl sides with my fingers. I wanted it to go deep in the grooves to further test the effectiveness of the product. This would be a good test as it one of the roughest rustications that I have worked on with the product. As I have mentioned in previous blogs Mark had said that the product can be used on briar or stems – whether vulcanite, acrylic or horn. He said it was designed to pull the dirt off of the briar as well as polish it. I figured this deep rustication would certainly put those claims to a test. He said that he had added some anti-oxidants to keep the briar from getting damaged from both UV rays and water. Once I had all the grooves and surfaces of the bowl covered I wiped it down with a clean cotton pad and then buffed it with a shoe brush. It seemed to work very well and I took the following photos to show the results. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the stem and lightly polish the briar. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and rubbed it into the rusticated finish. I buffed it with a shoe brush and then with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The variegated finish on the bowl and stem combine to present a beautiful pipe. The pipe really does look good with the new stem. The dimensions of this pipe are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 2 1/8 inches, Bowl diameter: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I will soon be adding it to the rebornpipes store if you are interested in adding to your collection. It is a beauty and will serve someone very well. Email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

 

Restemming and Reconditioning a Rungsted Mariner by Preben Holm


Blog by Steve Laug

I don’t know when I learned that the Rungsted line of pipes was another line that Preben Holm carved. But I learned that he made several lines outside the Ben Wade contract pipes he was producing for Snug Harbor/Lane. This was confirmed when I looked online and found a thread on PipesMagazine.com. The discussion covered a brand called Britta Bech and one of the members there happened to mention and confirm what I already knew about the Rungsted line. From my memory and the speaker’s the pipes were mostly carved in the mid to late 70’s or early 80’s during the height of the Danish Freehand pipe craze in the US. The speaker there said that though some refer to these as seconds he did not think that was accurate and that really it was a totally separate line from Preben Holm. I would agree with his assessment on this. I am pretty certain looking at the various Rungsted pipes that I have worked on that there are no flaws. They all combine both smooth and sandblast finishes and present a really interesting finished pipe. (mlaug on pipesmagazine.com http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/preben-holm-info-needed).

This particular pipe came in a lot that Jeff and I purchased from a fellow in Idaho. Jeff had purchased the pipes shown in the photo below from him. The Rungsted is circled in red at the top right side of the photo. The photo came because I asked Jeff to send me a picture of the pipes he picked up. I have written about the find on a previous blog that you can read if you are interested at the link that follows: https://rebornpipes.com/2016/10/07/a-good-day-hunting-orchestrated-between-british-columbia-and-idaho/ 

Jeff did a great job cleaning off the debris and grime on this old bowl. It did not have a stem when it came to us, one would have to be made to fit it. 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. Once the grime was removed the finish underneath was in stellar condition. The rich patina of the older briar was a variegated finish of smooth and sandblast looked great. I took photos of the bowl to show its condition before I started my work on it. The shank of the pipe was stamped on the smooth underside. It read RUNGSTED over MARINER over Hand Made in Denmark. The stamping was quite legible, though the lower portion was lighter than the upper.I had a stem in my can of stems that I had started shaping for another pipe some time ago and abandoned. It needed to have a little more of the tenon end taken down to fit in the mortise but it had the correct look for the pipe. I took pictures of the stem before I did the work to make it fit.I sanded the tenon end down with 220 grit sandpaper until it fit snugly in the shank. I put it in place on the pipe and took the next set of photos. Lots of sanding to do, but it gives an idea of what the pipe will look like when it is finished. In my ongoing experiment with Mark Hoover’s Before & After Restoration Balm I am using it on this mixed finish pipe. It should be a good test of how it works in the transitions between the smooth and sandblast portions as well as on the plateau on the rim and the shank end. I have used it individually on each of those finishes but not on a pipe that had all three features. Mark describes the product being designed for use on briar or stems – whether vulcanite, acrylic or horn. It was formulated to pull the dirt off of the briar as well as polish it at the same time. It includes anti-oxidants to keep the briar from getting damaged from UV rays and water as well as something that enlivens the briar. I worked it into the sandblast portions with my fingers and rubbed it on the smooth portions. I wiped it down with a cotton pad to see if it pulled out the dirt. It worked very well on all the different parts of this bowl. I took the following photos to show the results. As always, I will continue using it for a while and see how it works in a variety of settings before I give an opinion of the product. I buffed the bowl with a clean buffing pad to polish the briar and see what the finished bowl would look like and if areas that needed a bit more attention. The buffed bowl can be seen in the photos that follow. It has a rich patina that really has a deep glow to it. The two finishes really flow into each other and give the pipe a warm look. I sanded out the casting marks and scratches on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I opened the slot in the end of the button with needles files and sandpaper to make it easier to push a pipe cleaner into the stem and shank. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with Obsidian Oil to give the next pad more bite when I sanded. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and again wiped it down with the oil after each pad. After the final pad I wiped it down with a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the stem and the smooth portions of the briar. I used a soft touch around the stamped areas as I did not want to flatten them polish them away even more that they already were. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and rubbed it into the sandblast and the plateau areas. I buffed it with a shoe brush and then with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The variegated finish on the bowl and stem combine to present a beautiful pipe. The pipe really does look fresh and new to me and I like the finished look with the new stem. The dimensions of this pipe are Length: 6 1/2 inches, Height: 2 inches, Bowl diameter: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I will soon be adding it to the rebornpipes store if you are interested in adding to your collection. It is a beauty and will serve someone very well. Email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

Restoring a Savinelli Made Estella 614 Full Bent


Blog by Steve Laug

I have always liked the rocky rusticated finish on the Savinelli Made Estella pipes. I have worked on many of them over the years and by and large they seem to have been a well-loved, good smoking and almost indestructible pipe. The finish is a rustication that almost looks like a “blastication” (rustication then sandblasted). It is knobby and very tactile. It feels good in the hand. I have worked on panels, billiards and bulldogs but never a full bent. This one was in good shape. The finish was dirty but was undamaged. The inner edge of the rim was clean and the outer edge had some wear from knocking it out against hard surfaces. There was a light cake in the bowl and the rustication on the rim top was covered with a thick coat of lava. The Lucite stem had tooth marks on the top and the underside of the stem at the button. There was a dark tar stain in the airway in the stem.  The button was in great shape. Jeff took the next series of photos to show the condition of the pipe before he cleaned it. The next photo shows the rim top and you can see the tar buildup in the rustication of the rim. It is almost smooth there is so much tar.The next photo shows the stamping on the underside of the bowl and shank. It reads Estella followed by the shape number 614 over Italy. Often there is a Savinelli Shield logo but it is not on this pipe. There is also an E stamped on the left side of the staggered saddle stem. The next two photos show the tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem at the button. There was one deep mark on each side of the stem at the button.Jeff did an amazing job cleaning up the light issues on this pipe. He reamed it with a PipNet reamer and cleaned up the remnants 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 remove the dust of the years. He removed the lava coat on the rim surface so that it was clean. He was able to clean up the outer edges of the rim so that the damage was removed and matched the rest of the rustication. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. Once the dust was removed it was clear that the finish underneath was in stellar condition. The random style of the rustication and the high spots gave it a very rough feel that was like rock. Very well carved. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. The rim looked really good. The grooves and carved surface was very clean and the lava that had filled in all of them was gone. The bowl was clean as well.The stem cleaned up well. The majority of the tar stains in the airway came out with the scrubbing with alcohol. What was left was probably not going anywhere. The tooth marks on both sides were dents that were not too deep and could be sanded out.I stained the rim top and the outer and inner edges of the bowl with a dark brown stain pen to blend it in with the colour of the rest of the pipe. There was ring of smooth briar at the end of the shank where the stem sat against it.In my ongoing experiment with Mark Hoover’s new product that he calls Before & After Restoration Balm I used it on the blastication of the bowl and shank. Mark is the creator of the Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and Polishes.  He says that the product can be used on briar or stems – whether vulcanite, acrylic or horn. He said it was designed to pull the dirt off of the briar as well as polish it. He added some anti-oxidants to keep the briar from getting damaged from both UV rays and water. I chose to use it on this pipe because of the roughness of the rusticated finish on this bowl. I rubbed it into the finish on the bowl and shank with my fingers and worked it into the finish with a shoe brush to see if it pulled out the dirt. It seemed to work very well and I took the following photos to show the results. I will continue using it for a while and see how it works in a variety of settings before I give an opinion of the product. I used a sharp knife to bevel the airway in the tenon. Funneling the airway at that point adds to the smooth flow of air to the button.I sanded the tooth marks on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper until they disappeared into the surface of the stem. When I finished sanding the stem it was smooth and there were not any damaged areas on the stem at the button.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with Obsidian Oil to give the next pad more bite when I sanded. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and again wiped it down with the oil after each pad. After the final pad I wiped it down with a damp cloth and set it aside while I finished the bowl. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the briar. I used a soft touch on the rusticated areas as I did not want to flatten them or fill in the grooves with polishing compound. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and I gave the rusticated bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The rough rusticated finish with its dark brown and medium brown highlights works well with the golden swirled Lucite stem. The pipe looks fresh and new. The dimensions of this pipe are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 2 inches, Bowl diameter: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is one that will be going on the rebornpipes store shortly. It will make a nice addition to someone’s pipe rack. If you are interested email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

 

Rode Hard & Put Away Wet – MLC Redmanol French Briar Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

This older MLC bent billiard is a turn of the 20th century pipe. According to Pipedia, (https://pipedia.org/wiki/M._Linkman_%26_Co) the initials stand for M. Linkman Company which was thought to mean Mary Linkman Company. They were a Chicago based company that produced both briars and meerschaums. The company was named for the mother of the same Linkman who branded pipes under that same name and then eventually became the Dr. Grabow pipe manufacturer with which we are familiar. Pipephil’s site gave a little more information at this link (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-l4.html). M. Linkman and Co. was established by Louis B. Linkman and August Fisher in 1898. The company closed down in the 1950s and the Dr Grabow branch was sold to Henry Leonard and Thomas Inc. There was also a note that early Linkman’s pipes were stamped MLC in an oval.

If you have followed this blog for a while you have come to know that I love really old pipes and this one fits into that category of pipes. It is stamped MLC in an oval over Redmanol over French Briar on the left side of the shank. There are no other stampings on the pipe. The band is brass and is etched with a pattern of vines and flower around the entire band. The band was a mess on the shank end. It was bent and dented and no longer round. It was loose on the shank and would need to be straightened out before it was reglued. It is a small bent billiard and definitely sporting the wrong stem. It should have had a Redmanol stem to go with the stamping on the shank of the bowl.

I have written a bit more about the MLC brand on several early blogs (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/11/12/an-interesting-the-nuvo-mlc-italian-briar-hidden-in-a-wdc-case/ https://rebornpipes.com/2017/08/17/restoring-a-sad-old-mlc-bent-billiard/).

Jeff took the photos that follow before started the cleanup. You can see from the photos the condition of the pipe. The bowl exterior was absolutely filthy. It is the first time I have seen the lava that usually is on the rim flow over the top and down the sides of the bowl. The lava on the outside edge of the bowl and the thick cake in the bowl made it hard to know what the condition of the rim edges. The incorrect stem and the condition of the pipe told me that it was someone’s favourite smoker and when the old stem broke or wore out a convenient replacement was stuck in the shank and it continued to be smoked. The next photos of the bowl, rim and the flow of lava down the outside of the bowl shows how filthy this pipe was before Jeff started his clean up. The bowl is scratched and nicked but even that damage is hard to assess given the condition of the pipe. If you look closely you can see the MLC oval on the next photo of the shank. Below that it reads Redmanol over  French Briar. You can see the tars that have built up on the shank and pushed the band toward the end of the shank. It really was a dirty pipe. The photo of the bottom of the bowl and shank show more of the worn condition of the briar.The next three photos show the condition of the end of the band. It was in rough shape. As the band was pushed off the shank end because of the tars the end that extended beyond the briar of the shank was bent and damaged.The last photo Jeff took showed the condition of the stem. I was not particularly concerned with the stem as I was planning on replacing it with a fitted stem. If I used it in the future I would clean it up.I reread the blogs on the MLC pipes that I had restored previously to refresh the information. Now I was ready to see what I could do with this old pipe. It is really nice working on clean pipes. I have done enough repairs recently that have required me to ream and clean them that I have a greater appreciation for how nice it is to have this done for me. Thanks Jeff for your work and the way it makes my part a bit easier. He worked his usual magic in cleaning up this messy pipe. I really wondered what would lie beneath all of the grime and tars. Jeff reamed it with a PipNet reamer and cleaned up the remnants 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 spent quite a bit of time scrubbing the exterior of the bowl, rim cap and shank with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the build up. He rinsed it under running water. It took a lot of scrubbing to get it free of the tars but it worked well. He dried it off with a soft cloth. Once the grime was removed it was clear that the finish underneath was in rough shape. The briar was quite nice with a mix of straight and birdseye grain around the bowl and shank. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. Jeff had done a miracle in removing the thick cake, cleaning the lava on the rim and sides of the bowl. The inner edge was in pretty  decent shape as was the outer one. I was happy to see the condition. There was however a darkening on the rim top and all around the bowl coming down the sides about ¼ inch. At first I thought that it might have been left behind by a rim cap of some sort but there were no small nail holes in the briar on the sides of the bowl. I think that actually it is what is left behind by the greasy hands of the pipe man and the lava that had flowed down the bowl sides.He was also able to remove much of the grime around the band on the shank and leave the stamping undamaged.I removed the stem and carefully slid the band off the shank. I wanted to clean up the end of the shank with alcohol and sandpaper. I also want to smooth out the back edges of the band and see if I could make it smooth and useable once again. I heated the end of an awl/ice pick and pressed it against the damaged areas of the band. The brass was quite thin so it was really quite workable. I was able to remove all of the damaged areas but one that was a compressed area on the bottom side. It would be hidden on the underside of the shank once it was glued back in place.I scrubbed the shank end and the dark area with acetone to remove more of the grime that was on the surface of the briar. I was able to reduce quite a bit of the buildup around the top of the bowl and the rim top with this method. I sanded the end of the shank to smooth it out. I used a dental spatula to spread the all-purpose glue around the shank. I pressed the band back on the shank with the small damaged spot on the underside.I took a photo of the end of the shank to show that the band fit tight on the shank and was even with the shank end. You can see the damaged area on the underside of the shank on the right side of the photo.I looked through my can of stems because I remembered having a bent Redmanol stem that I had picked up somewhere along the way. Sure enough it was there. It was slightly larger in diameter than the shank of the pipe so it would need to be sanded to fit nicely on the shank. It also had a push stem on it that would need to be removed and replaced with a normal tenon. Both of those were relatively easy jobs. I was anxious to get moving on the stem so of course I forgot to take photos of the stem with the meerschaum push tenon. It was loose so I unscrewed it from the stem. I had a small threaded Delrin tenon with the threads that were close to the same and threaded it into the airway on the stem. It worked well so I unscrewed it and glued it in place in the stem. The photos below show the new tenon on the stem.The tenon fit well in the mortise. The fit against end of the shank was nice. I sanded it to remove the excess material and reduce the diameter of the stem to match the shank using 220 grit sandpaper. In the photos below it is getting close to a nice fit. What you can’t see in the photos is that the nice, rich, red colour of the Redmanol lightened with sanding to shades of blood orange. I could not start over so I decided to keep sanding until the fit was correct. At first I did not like the effect on the Redmanol and I was disappointed by the colour shift. Looking at the stem from the drilled airway before I put the tenon in place and the flat end of the stem it appeared that the red was solid all the way through the material so when the oranges and yellows started to show up I was a bit frustrated. Now as I look at it I have to say it is growing on me. It reminds of the Popsicles that we used to by when I was a kid. I stopped sanding the bowl and put the stem on the shank to get a couple of photos so I could look at it on the screen and get the effect. It is almost like flame… kind of a nice variation. It is interesting to see the fine red line between the band and the stem – the flat end still is an even red. I don’t quite understand it but I am resolved to live with it. I am going to stain the bowl so that should also add to the variations of colour on this old pipe.I decided to try to bleach out the darkening on the rim top and first ¼ inch of the bowl all the way around. I wiped it down with bleach on a cotton pad and left it on the dark area to do its work. It worked better on the left side than the right.I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain to try to blend in the dark rim stains. I applied the stain, flamed it and repeated the process. Once it dried I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on cotton pads to make it more transparent and let the grain shine through.  In the process some of the nicks in the briar showed up more clearly. I decided not to fill them in but to leave them as war wounds on this old timer. They tell a story that I wish the pipe could tell us. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads. I started polishing with 3200-4000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. I continued to polish with 6000-12000 grit pads and wiped it down after each pad. I hand buffed it with a soft cloth. The dark ring around the top of the bowl is still visible but less than before. The rim looks good. To further blend the darkened top portion of the bowl with the rest of the pipe I gave the bowl a contrast coat of Danish Oil Cherry Stain. I applied it by hand and rubbed it off and repeated the process to get a good smooth coat.I wiped the stain coat off and hand buffed the pipe lightly. The photos below show what the pipe is looking like at this point in the process. The right side still shows darker than the left at top edge of the bowl. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. After the final 12000 grit pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the briar. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The newly variegated Redmanol stem did not too bad with the old pipe. It shines like polished horn and the flow of the colours worked with the colours on the bowl. The way the colours shifted on the parts worked well together to present a beautiful pipe. The dark rim edge almost looks like the way meerschaum pipes were flumed with a dark edge. The pipe looks fresh and new. Later I will need to give it a bowl coating to protect the bowl inside as there are spidering cracks all around the briar. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. Thanks for looking.

 

The Rebirth of an Unmarked Horn


Blog by Steve Laug

When my brother sent me photos of this particular pipe I could not see what he saw in it. It was just ugly in my opinion. The shank was crooked, the plateau crown had been sanded slightly, the shank was cracked and missing a chunk of briar, the copper ferrule looked like it fit better under a sink than on the shank and the finish had warts in it all around the bowl. To top it off the stem was clunky, thick Lucite and had lots of divots and tooth marks. It did not look like it belonged at all. The entire pipe looked like a failed shop project to me – one that took its own direction as it was being made. He purchased it and took photos of it before he cleaned it up thinking I might be charmed by it as he was.The next photo from the top shows the bow in the shank. I figured that the drilling would be way off once I got it and took it apart. I was pretty certain this one was going to interesting to work on to see if I could get anything resembling a nice looking pipe out of the concoction that it was in the photos. Note also the thick cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava on the rim filling in the smoothed out plateau. It was hard to know at this point if there was damage to the inner edge of the rim because of the thick cake and lava. Only a thorough clean up would reveal the condition. The next three photos show the warts on the sides of the bowl. The finish was rough. It was hard to tell if these were fills or if the pipe had not been sanded smooth when it was originally finished. In the photos, they look like scratches but they are actually standing above the finish on the briar. Some of them have scratches around the edges on the surface of the bowl. As I looked at the horn, I had to admit there was something strangely alluring to the shape and it was growing on me. The copper fitting is not snug on the shank it rattles around and is only held in place by the stem. You can see the gap between the cap and the shank. The shank under the band is coated with grime and there is a dark oxidized buildup.When the stem is removed the cap falls off and reveals the damaged shank. You can see the crack in the shank end and up the side on the right side of the photo below. The tars and oils that have built up on the end of the shank and in the mortise are quite thick. In the second photo below you can see the missing piece of briar. The third photo is a close up of the shank end. It shows the damage clearly as well as thick tars on the shank  under the cap. The stem is Lucite and in rough condition. It is the thick kind of stem that came out when Lucite first came on the market. It thick and poorly shaped. There are major dents in the surface and many tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem at the button. I do not intend to reuse the stem as it is not my kind of stem. I will replace it with a vulcanite stem and fit it to the shank. Jeff did his usual thorough clean up even on this ugly, old pipe. He reamed it with a PipNet reamer and cleaned up the remnants 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 and shank with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed it under running water. He scrubbed the rim on the bowl to clean out the lava on the plateau. It took much scrubbing to get it free of the tars. He dried it off with a soft cloth. The bowl itself was very light weight. It is a good looking piece of briar and has flame grain all around the bowl and shank with some birdseye on the shank top and bottom. He cleaned up the Lucite stem with the oil soap as well and was able to remove much of the debris. There were tooth marks and tooth chatter on both sides of the stem. The freehand style stem had a tapered tenon that sat tightly in the copper end cap. The copper cap was loose and fell off when the stem was removed from the pipe. I spent time turning the pipe over to see if I could find any identifying stamping that would help me know who made it and when it was made. There was nothing there. It was an unstamped pipe by an unknown maker at an unspecified point in time. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. Jeff did a great job on the rim top and the bowl. The inner edge of the rim was in good condition with little damage. There was still a little lava on the back side of the rim top that would need to be taken care of.The Lucite stem was clean but looking at it close up I knew that I did not want to keep the stem. I would need to go through my can of stems to find one that would work on this pipe.I removed the stem and the end cap and looked closely at the damage to the end of the shank. Once Jeff had cleaned it up the damage was really clear. The end of the shank had deteriorated and chunks of briar were missing. The surface of the shank end was rough and damaged. There was a large crack on the right side near the underside going from the shank end up the shank for ½ inch. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to remove the damaged shank end. I evened up the end of the shank and took off all of the compromised briar. I cleaned up the end so that a regular stem would work with it. I smoothed out the inside of the mortise. During this cleanup is when I discovered that the mortise and the airway in the shank were drilled at an angle. The airway was high in the end of the mortise and came out at the bottom of the bowl. The mortise itself curved and was poorly drilled in the shank. I cleaned up the briar that had been under the copper band. The briar was black with the colour going deep in the briar. I sanded it smooth and used a microdrill bit to drill a pin hole at the end of the crack to stop it from spreading further. I filled in the hole and the crack with clear super glue and let it cure.When the glue repair had dried, I sanded it smooth and pressure fit a nickel band over the end of the shank. I heated the band with a lighter to expand it and pressed the shank end and band so that the band went up the shank to cover the crack and the repair. I think that the band was a far better look for the pipe than the copper shank cap had been. I scrubbed the plateau top with a brass bristle tire brush to remove the remaining lava in the crevices of the surface. I worked on it until the rim top was clean.I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the warts from the surface and smooth out the scratches and dents. I wanted the surface to be smooth the way it should have been when the pipe was made. I worked on it until it was smooth to the touch. When I finished I washed the surface of the bowl and shank with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the last of the dust and the remaining finish from the briar. I buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond to polish it a bit and see where I needed to do some work before the final buff. I hand polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each buffing pad. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth after the 12000 grit pad. The pictures below show the progress of the polishing on the briar. I used a black Sharpie Pen to colour in the crevices on the plateau top. I wanted the smooth high spots to shine through the deep black in the grooves. The contrast would look really good once the pipe was given a finish coat of stain and was buffed and waxed.I stained the briar with a Danish Oil Cherry stain to highlight the red colours in the briar and bring about a contrast with straight grain. I stained the plateau as well to give red hues to the high spots and contrast with the black of the crevices on the top. I hand buffed the bowl with a soft cotton cloth and then with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine. The bowl looks really good and the grain stands out. The straight grain all around the bowl sides looks really good. I chose a vulcanite saddle stem for the replacement for the Lucite stem. I knew it would be a bit of work to get things lined up because of the drilling in the shank. I measured the angles in the shank and figured I would need to bend the tenon at the angle shown in the photo. I heated the tenon and put it in the shank while it was still pliable and set the angle to match the angle of the mortise. The photo below shows the angle on the tenon. Bent at that angle the stem sits tight against the mortise. It gives you a good idea of the how poorly drilled the pipe was and what measures I had to take to line things up. I gave the tenon a coat of clear fingernail polish to make it fit snug in the mortise and let it dry. I roughened it up with the edge of a needle file to give it a bite in the shank. I tried the fit and all was well.I sanded the stem surfaces with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the light oxidation and the tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem. I worked on it until it was black and there was no remnant of oxidation or tooth marks.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad to give traction to the next pad and also bring a little life to the vulcanite stem. After the final pad I gave it a last coat of the oil and set it aside to dry. I left the tenon with a few ridges to add bite to the inside of the mortise and hold it firmly in place. Some oxidation showed up on the top side of the stem near the saddle in the photos above so I worked it over in that area once again. When I finished I buffed the pipe on the wheel using Blue Diamond Polish and worked over the stem and bowl to remove any remaining scratches. I buffed the nickel band to give it a shine. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The warts and nicks that I had sanded out were gone and the grain just popped on this old pipe. The new stem, with the angled tenon brought things into line and to me the pipe looked much better. The black of the polished vulcanite and the polished briar work well together to present a beautiful pipe. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It really is a beauty. Thanks for looking.