Tag Archives: Bowls – refinishing

Resurrecting a Second Stately Stanwell Henley Special, Made in Denmark, Blasted Saddle Stem Billiard


Blog by Dal Stanton

Jim was the recipient of the first Stanwell Henley Special, Oval Shank Billiard, that I restored some time ago (see LINK).  Jim saw it on the online ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’ collection benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria – our work here in Bulgaria helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  The second Stanwell Henley Special on the worktable is the Blasted Saddle Stem Billiard on the bottom in the picture below.  This pipe has not been commissioned and will be heading to The Pipe Steward Store and this beautiful stout Danish will also benefit the Daughters when a new steward brings it home.  I have also taken notice of the solid craftsmanship of these 3 Danish made pipes and decided that the third, a Stanwell Henley Special Chimney (on top in the picture below), would find a home in my personal collection.  The eBay seller gave this helpful information about this Lot of 3 Stanwell Henley Special pipes:

This auction is for three vintage Stanwell, Henley Line estate pipes from the 1950’s-60’s era. All are in good pre-owned condition. The stems are primarily free from teeth marks. The stems do have some fading. All of the stems fit snug and the wooden bowls are free from outstanding blemishes. As seen from top to bottom, the first pipe reads Henley Special #57, the second and third read Henley Special without any numbers seen. All of the pipes read Made in Denmark.

Here are the three Stanwell Henley Specials that I acquired on the eBay auction block from a seller in Maryland.  The Henley Jim commissioned is pictured in the center above and below is the restored pipe now in Jim’s collection – an unbelievable transformation!As I expressed before, since I started collecting and restoring pipes, I’ve grown in my appreciation for Danish made pipes.  They tend to be stout, well-made pipes and just fit the hand wonderfully.  Unfortunately, my original research did not uncover much online regarding the Henley line.  Pipedia’s article on Stanwell pipes simply places the Henley Special line in the list of Stanwell second brands.  Pipephil.eu provided more information with a Henley much like the slightly bent Chimney above which I’m claiming for my collection, with the interesting characteristic bulging midsection, but with a blasted finish.  It also shows an ‘H’ stem stamp.  None of the 3 Henleys of my acquisition have stem stampings – or they wore off long ago.The only information I found in my initial research that gave any reference to dating isn’t conclusive. I found the following picture on Google images with the link to pipesmokersforum.com, “Who made this pipe?”   I went to the pipesmokersforum site and searched ‘Henley’ and no reference or article emerged. I would have loved to read the thread that discussed the dating of the discontinued Stanwell second, Henley Special.  The picture puts a question mark in the late 50s and the eBay seller’s description placing the pipes in the 50s or 60s are anecdotal but seem to me to be accurate.  I will keep searching but based upon the look and feel of these Danish made pipes, I think the 50s/60s is on target.With the second Stanwell Henley Special on the worktable, I take some pictures to get a closer look. He’s a large bowled pipe with dimensions: Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 2 1/4 inches, Rim width: 1 7/16 inches, Chamber width: 7/8 inches, Chamber depth: 2 inches. The nomenclature on the blasted stummel is on the lower side of the pipe.  There is a flat panel running the length of the heel and shank allowing this Billiard to sit on the table – nice feature!  On the shank side of the panel in cursive is stamped a thin ‘Henley’ [over] SPECIAL.  To the right of this is stamped MADE IN [over] DENMARK.The condition of this Henley resembles the others in that they are very dark and dirty from grime over the stummel.  The blasted surface of this Henley will need much scrubbing with a brush.  One crevasse is so large/deep that when I first saw it, I thought that the bowl had cracked.  However, it is the result of the blasting process.  The blasted surface is amazing on this pipe. The chamber is choked with carbon cake buildup – this needs to be removed to give the briar a fresh start and to examine the chamber walls.  With the cake as thick as it is, there is concern for heating damage.  The rim is inundated with lava flow – it’s thick!  The saddle stem has also seen better days!  The oxidation is thick, and the bit has been chewed – or more accurate, clenched.  There are several compressions on both upper and lower bit – the former steward loved this pipe, but he was a hands-free clincher which would be no small feat for a pipe with a bowl this big!

This doesn’t happen often.  My wife got into The Pipe Steward activities to picture me cleaning stems of pipes in queue – two Henleys included – this second one and the third staying with me.  Yep, this is what my worktable looks like!  I clean each airway with pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% as well as employing shank brushes.  I clean the stems before placing them in the soak of Before & After Deoxidizer. The stems soak for several hours to work on removing the oxidation.  The oxidation on the Henley is pretty think.  We’ll see how the Deoxidizer works.When I fish out the Henley’s saddle stem, I rub/wipe the stem with cotton pads wetted with isopropyl 95% to remove the raised oxidation.  I also run a few pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95% through the airway to clear the Deoxidizer.I also apply paraffin oil, a mineral oil, to the stem to begin the conditioning process.  The B&A Deoxidizer did a fair job on the stem.Turning now to the Henley stummel, I take a picture to show the condition of the chamber. The cake closes as it moves down the chamber.  I’m hopeful that the chamber walls are not suffering from heating damage.  To address the thick cake, I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit.  After putting down paper towel to save time on cleaning, I begin with the smallest of the 4 blade heads available.  With a chamber width of 7/8 inches and depth of 2 inches, he took all 4 blade heads that the Pipnet Reaming Kit had to offer.  The cake is hard and crusty, and it takes patience to work the blades and not overdo it.  I follow the reaming using the Savinelli Fitsall tool to continue to scrape the chamber walls clearing more carbon. Finally, I sand the chamber using 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  The sanding is very helpful in cleaning the walls to allow inspection.  After cleaning the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%, I’m able to get a good view of the chamber and the damage from heating is evident.I take pictures going around the chamber from different angles.  With the thickness of the cake that I removed, I’m not surprised to find heating damage.  I’m sure that the cracks and fissures that I’ve pictured are a result of the heat build-up caused by the thick cake and not allowing proper heating expansion and contraction.  This puts more stress on the briar and these results occur.  As I continue the cleaning, my mind will be processing the question of how to address this. Switching from the wall issues of the chamber, I move to cleaning the external surface.  Without a doubt, this stummel is the King of Cragginess.  I love the deeply hewn valleys and ridges of this large stummel created by a very thorough sandblasting process.  I take pictures to show the various angles.  The stummel is very dark and I’m anxious to see what cleaning does. I begin the cleaning by using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and scrub with a cotton pad.  With the craggy landscape, the process graduates very quick to scrubbing with a bristled tooth brush as well as a brass wire brush on the rim.Taking the stummel to the sink, warm water continues the cleaning rinsing off the Murphy’s Soap and scrubbing the surface of the crags with the toothbrush.  I also attack the internals using shank brushes and anti-oil dish soap.  I scrub the internals well and rinse the stummel thoroughly.  The result of the cleaning is a considerably lightened stummel.  Another round of pictures show the cleaned briar landscape on the Henley stummel. The rim still appears to have some lava residue on it, and I continue to clean it using a dental probe to break up the carbon in the crags as well as apply the brass bristle brush to the rim. I like the results and I love how the crevassed valley rises and bisects the rim!  This blasted stummel has a lot of expression going on!I continue to clean the internals using cotton buds and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%. Joining the cleaning process was a small dental spoon that allowed me to reach into the mortise and airway and scrape the wall, helping to clean the old tars and oils.  I also utilize drill bits to help excavate tars and oils deeper in the airway.  I insert the bit into the airway carefully and hand-rotate into the airway. The rotation helps to remove the gunk.  After a good bit of cleaning, the buds and pipe cleaners start coming out lighter.  I called a halt to the cleaning transitioning to a kosher salt and alcohol soak to continue the cleaning in stealth mode through the night.Before I set up the kosher salt and alcohol soak, I look at the stummel and it is a very dry piece of wood.  I decide to apply a coat of paraffin oil to the stummel allowing the oil to hydrate the briar while it’s sitting through the night with the soak.  Paraffin oil is a mineral oil available here in Bulgaria in the pharmacy.  I apply the oil over the surface with a cotton pad and take a few pictures.  Man, it looks good.  This gives me a sneak peek at what the finished pipe will look like left in its present state.  The rich dark burgundy tones are peeking out.Next, for the kosher salt and alcohol soak, I pull and twist a cotton ball to form a ‘wick’ that is inserted into the mortise with the help of a firm straight wire.  The wick serves to draw the tars and oils that are released further from the internal wood.  I then fill the bowl with kosher salt which will not leave an after taste as does an iodized salt. I then set the stummel in an egg crate for stability, tip the stummel so the salt surface is generally level with the end of the shank.  Then with the use of a large eyedropper, I fill the bowl with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes when the alcohol has been absorbed, I top off with more isopropyl 95%.  I then put the stummel aside for the night and turn off the lights! The next morning the soak had done the job evidenced by the soiled salt and cotton wick.  After tossing the expended salt in the waste, and wiping the chamber out with paper towel, and blowing through the mortise to dislodge salt crystals, I used a few more cotton buds and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95% to make sure all was clean.  The soak did the job and the stummel will be much fresher for the new steward of this Stanwell Henley Special.Before moving further, I need to address the heating issues in the chamber.  There are cracks and fissures which undoubtedly developed over time because the cake buildup became too much.  With the cake so thick, it hinders proper expansion and contraction when the pipe is used. The result is what we now see in this chamber.  To address this, I mix a batch of J-B KWIK Weld using the two components, Steel and Hardener.  I use a plastic disc as a mixing pallet with scotch tape over it to aid in clean up. After mixing the two components on the pallet, about 4 minutes is available to apply the Weld before it begins to harden. I mix the components thoroughly with a toothpick, then using my finger (with a surgical glove on!), I scoop a bit of Weld and apply it to the chamber wall.  I do this uniformly around the chamber and applying pressure to make sure the Weld is filling the cracks and fissures.  I’m VERY careful to avoid dripping Weld on the rim during the application.  Later, after the Weld thoroughly cures, I’ll sand the chamber removing all the excess Weld leaving behind only what filled the cracks and fissures – or that is the theory! I usually insert a pipe cleaner to guard the airway from the Weld, but this time I forgot and thankfully, no problems result.  After completing the application, I put the stummel aside for several hours allowing the Weld to cure.  Cleanup is quick – I simply peel the tape up and discard.Turning now to the saddle stem, the Before & After Deoxidizer did a good job, but I see residual oxidation yet remaining in the vulcanite.  I take a few pictures with an opened aperture to show what I can see with the naked eye.  The bit does not have tooth chatter as much as compressions – it appears the molars were engaged by the former steward to smoke the Henley hands-free.  To address the bit compressions, I first use the heating method.  Using a Bic lighter, I paint the compressions with flame and as the vulcanite heats, it expands to reclaim the original stem shape or at least the compressions are minimized.  After heating several times, the compressions have lessened but are still visible.   The before and after pictures tell the story – in fact, I had a hard time pairing the correct photos after the heating! I believe the compressions have been minimized enough that sanding will be all that is necessary to repair the bit.  Using 240 grade paper, I sand not only the bit and button, but I expand it to the entire stem to address residual oxidation as well.  I employ a flat needle file to freshen the button lips and to assist with the tooth compressions next to the lip.  In the sanding of the saddle, I use a plastic disc I fashioned and with the disc separating the stem and stummel, I reunite the two.  The disc acts as a shield to shouldering the stem shank facing.  The sanding removed all the compressions. The pictures show the progress. With the major sanding with 240 paper complete, I continue by wet sanding the entire stem using 600 grade paper.  I then follow the wet sanding by applying 000 grade steel wool to the stem.  I’ve lost track of which is the upper and lower stem.  The stem is looking great!I move directly to applying the full regimen of 9 micromesh pads starting by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400 then dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of three pads I apply a coat of Obsidian Oil to assist in rejuvenating the vulcanite.  The saddle stem has that glassy pop! I turn back to the stummel and the J-B Weld has had time to cure.  I begin to sand off the excess J-B Weld by using the Dremel with a sanding drum.  I set the Dremel to the slowest speed and gently, without much pressure, sand off the upper layer of the J-B Weld – the excess.  With the drum, as I’m working patiently around the entire chamber, I also sand out a reaming step that had developed near the floor of the chamber.  The Dremel shortens the work amazingly.  I then switch by wrapping 240 grade paper around a Sharpie Pen. I fine tune the sanding in the chamber so that eventually, the cracks and fissures are revealed now having been filled.  I love it when theory and practice come together!  I clean out the chamber of the dust and it looks and feels great! I run my finger over the formerly cavern-filled chamber and it is smooth.  I take finish pictures and move on. I’ve been looking forward to applying the Before & After Restoration Balm to this Stanwell Henley Special’s stummel to tease out the older patina of this vintage blasted briar surface.  I make sure the surface is clean from all the chamber sanding and I take a few pictures to mark the start.  I then apply the Balm to my fingers and rub it in to the surface.  The surface practically drinks the Balm as I work the Balm into the craggy landscape.  After it’s worked in well, I put the stummel aside for 20 minutes to allow the Balm to do what it does. I take a picture in this state. After about 20 minutes I wipe off the excess Balm and buff the blasted Henley Special stummel with a microfiber cloth.  The hues are deeper and richer.  I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel onto the stummel and set the speed at 40% full power and after reuniting the stem and stummel, I apply Blue Diamond compound to the stem.  As I go along, I experiment with the Blue Diamond on the stummel.  I don’t want to gum up the craggy surface with Blue Diamond, but what I see, with a light application of the compound, is that the briar is sprucing up and I move the wheel along with the grain of the blasted briar.  I like the results.  When I complete the application of Blue Diamond, I give the pipe a good hand-wiping with a felt cloth to remove the carbon dust before application of the wax.  I like the results.Straightaway, I load another cotton cloth buffing wheel onto the Dremel, increasing the speed of the Dremel to about 60% full power – faster than normal on smooth briar, I first apply carnauba wax to the stummel.  I increase the speed for the blasted stummel to increase the heat of the application.  I’ve found that using the Dremel on the craggy surface allows me to get up and close with the application of wax on the rough surface.  Heating the wax more helps guard against it gunking up on the rough surface.  The added speed helps dissolve the wax over the rough surface.  I’m liking what I’m seeing!  When I apply carnauba to the stem, I slow the speed of the Dremel back down to the normal 40% full power.After applying the wax, I give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth.  This not only raises the shine but also help disseminate any excess wax on the surface.  There is one last project left to do.  The chamber was riddled with heating cracks and fissures and I used heat resistant J-B Kwik Weld to fill in the cracks.  I coated the entire chamber with the Weld mixture then sanded it after the Weld cured.  After sanding, as the theory hoped, the results were, that the only Weld remaining was that which filled the cracks and the chamber wall is smooth and again usable to put this pipe back into service.  Beautiful!  I love it when theory and practice come together so well. To help provide a protective coat over the repairs and to encourage a new cake to develop, I apply to the chamber walls a coating mixture of natural yogurt (sour cream works, too) and activated charcoal.  I mix a small amount of yogurt and charcoal in a bowl and when the consistency of the mixure will not drip off the spoon its ready to go.  After putting a pipe cleaner through the draft hole, I use my index finger to reach into the chamber and apply the mixture.  I make sure that the chamber walls are thoroughly covered, and I put the stummel aside for a time to allow the coating to cure.  It dries into an amazingly hard surface.  It’s important for the new steward to use a folded pipe cleaner to clean the bowl initially after putting the Henley into service – not to scrape the bowl! I’m very pleased with the results of this second of the 3 1950/60s Stanwell Henley Specials I acquired.  I appreciate the Danish craftmanship that is evident in all three pipes and this Blasted Billiard is no exception.  The blasting amazes me with the craggy surface showing the 3-dimensional movement of the briar grain.  One ravine is cut so drastically, at first, I thought it was a cracked bowl when I first acquired the pipes, but it remains as part of a very expressive, deep hued blasted briar landscape.  With a chamber width of 7/8 inches and depth of 2 inches, the amount of blend one can pack into this bowl is pretty impressive and with the size of the stummel and the blasting – well, I’m tempted to keep it for myself, but the third Stanwell Henley Special next on the table will be staying with me.  This Henley is heading for ThePipeSteward Store benefitting the Daughters of Bulgaria – our work here in Bulgaria helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

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Breathing Fresh Life into an Inherited Ben Wade “The Gem” from the Year 1900!


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

It’s been a while since I have worked on any of my grandfather’s pipe collection that I have inherited after his demise a few years ago. Amongst the collection, this small quaint Ben Wade was beckoning me for a long time. It is now that I decided to work on it. I had one Ben Wade without a stem, that Steve had taken back to Canada from his visit to India to fashion a stem from his bag of spares. This prompted me to fish out this Ben Wade and work towards its restoration.

This small sized straight Bulldog is typically classic British shape, with a diamond shank and a horn stem with a threaded bone tenon. The shank end is decorated with a sterling silver ferrule with embossed leaves, which is loose and came off easily. On this ferrule are the stamp details which will help in determining the vintage of this pipe. The silver shank ferrule is stamped as “A & Co” over a series of three hallmarks running from the left near the bowl end to the end of the shank on the right.The first hallmark is an “Anchor” in a shield shaped cartouche and identifies the city of Birmingham in England where the silver was crafted. The second hallmark is a passant Lion in a cartouche which signifies that the band is silver and that it was crafted by a British silversmith. The third hallmark is a square cartouche with the small letter “a” in the box which is a date letter that will give the year of the making of the pipe. Steve had recommended a site which he frequents while dating silver hallmarked pipes. Here is the link which helped me identify the city mark as Birmingham and further following the link on Birmingham date letter chart on the same page brought me to a separate page with all the letters along with the period in which they were stamped. I found the letter which matched to the one seen on the pipe in my hand and I can now say with authority that this silver ferrule is from the year of manufacture1900!! Unfortunately, the site did not allow me to copy/ edit and reproduce the relevant charts for including in this write up.

https://www.925-1000.com/british_marks.html

The next stamp which I researched was the “A & Co” stamp over the three hallmarks. I conferred with The-Beard-of-Knowledge on all things pipe, Steve and he suggested that I visit http://www.silvercollection.it and sure enough I got the information that I was looking for. I reproduce the relevant information from the site and also the link for those who may need to refer when researching their pipes.

http://www.silvercollection.it/englishsilvermarksXA.html

A business which is supposed to have been established in 1781 at Mitcham, Surrey, by William Asprey (died 1827).

CHRONOLOGY:
Francis Kennedy, c. 1804-c. 1841
Kennedy & Asprey, c. 1841-1843
Charles Asprey, 1843-c.1872
purchased the business of Charles Edwards, c.1857
Charles Asprey & Son, c.1872-c.1879
Charles Asprey & Sons, c.1879-c.1888
acquired Leuchars & Sons
C.& G.E. Asprey, c.1888-c.1900
Asprey (& Co), c.1900-1909
acquired Houghton & Gunn, 1906
acquired William Payne & Co, 1908
Asprey & Co Ltd, 1909- 1998
Asprey & Garrard, 1998-2002
Asprey & Co Ltd, 2002

The relevant stamping is highlighted in blue. The period/ vintage of the ferrule now perfectly matches and confirmed that it is from the year 1900.

With the year of make of the ferrule established as 1900, I wanted to confirm if this matched with the year of manufacture of the pipe itself. This is essential since the makers did stock up on such silver ferrule before they even made pipes for them. The stampings on the pipe itself should provide some clues to the link with the vintage of the pipe. The pipe is stamped as “B W” in a rectangle over “THE GEM”, all in golden block capital letters. There are no other markings on this pipe, not even COM stamp.I searched pipedia.org for information on this brand and further confirmation on dating this pipe. There are some interesting details on this brand and makes for an interesting read. I have reproduced some snippets of the information from pipedia.org which are relevant to dating this Ben Wade.

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

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

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

Even though the owner family decided to leave pipe business and sell off the firm. The family went into negotiations with Herman G. Lane, president of Lane Ltd. in New York at about the same time as the Charatan family. Lane Ltd. bought both firms in 1962.

From the above it is confirmed that the Ben Wade that I have inherited is from the family era and from the era before the second war, placing it before 1939. Now, I had read somewhere that it was common for pipe makers not stamp the pipe with the COM stamp in early 1900s and this was confirmed by Steve. Thus, to sum up all the information researched to date this particular piece, it is safe to conclude that this pipe is likely to have been made in the year 1900!! My inheritance indeed has some very nice and very old pipes.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
In the month of January this year, I had restored a Loewe Kenton from my inherited pipes that was nicely reamed with no overflowing lava over the rim top (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/01/17/restoring-a-classic-british-billiard-loewe-co-pipe/) and now this is the second pipe which is without a layer of cake in the chamber. However, the rim top surface is darkened and covered with lava overflow. I searched through the remaining large carton of inherited pipe for another pipe which is sans cake, but did not find any. Coming back to the pipe on my work table, the rim inner edge is mighty uneven, most probably a result of using a knife blade and shows signs of darkening due to charring. However, the outer edge is without any damage. The walls of the chamber are in excellent condition with no signs of heat fissures/ lines, but slightly uneven. A little magical touch from Pavni, my daughter who specializes in making the chamber smooth should address this issue. The stummel surface has developed a nice patina over 119 years of its existence and I have no intentions of destroying it during the restoration. Therefore, the few dents and dings that are visible shall stay and be a part of the pipes history through the years. Maybe, micromesh polishing will address a few of these dents and scratches. I wouldn’t say that this pipe has beautiful grains all round because it does not!! But yes, there is a smattering of some straight grains in the cap of the stummel and few on the shank while rest of the stummel has just some swirls of grains here and there. Even though the stummel is covered in dust, dirt and grime from years of uncared for storage, through it all the pipe still has a feel of quality maybe because of the shape or the proportions, I am not able to pin point exact reasons, but the pipe shouts vintage and quality!! The double ring separating the cap from the rest of the stummel is filled with dirt and dust, but is intact with no chipping or unevenness, which is surprising. At this stage of my initial inspection, in order to see the condition of the shank end and mortise, I tried to separate the bone stem from the shank end. The stem would not budge. I had no desire of applying more force for the fear of breaking the bone tenon inside the mortise and this would have really complicated the restoration for me as well as the originality of the pipe would have been compromised. I wanted neither and so in went the entire pipe in to freezer for a chill. A few hours later, I took the pipe out from the freezer and slightly heated the shank end. Once satisfied, I gingerly turned the stem with success. A little coaxing and finally the stem and shank were separated. Whew! What a relief. However, when I tried to reattach the two, there was a slight gap between the stem and the shank end and indicated with red arrows. I am sure that with the cleaning of the shank/ mortise of the entire gunk, the fit should improve. After the stem was separated from the shank end, the sterling silver ferrule too fell out easily. I will have to fix it with superglue. A closer examination of the mortise confirmed that it is clogged with accumulation of oils, tars and gunk of yesteryear. The threads too are covered in the gunk and most probably the cause of the incorrect seating of the stem in the mortise.The horn stem itself appears dull and lifeless and has tooth chatter on both the surfaces of the stem. The slot is perfectly round and correct for the time period of the pipe and shows accumulation of dried tars and dirt. The button edges, however, are sharp and sans any damage with a little dirt embedded at the bottom of the edges. I could make out one crack emanating from the right bottom edge of the diamond saddle and extending to more than half the length of the saddle panel. This crack is shown by a yellow arrow. The dark and light hues taken on by the stem over the years should polish out nicely and will add an additional touch of class to this classy pipe. THE PROCESS
Pavni, my youngest daughter loves to help me in pipe restoration in her free time and her forte is getting the walls of the chamber as smooth as a baby’s bottom. With a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper she completely evened out the wall surface. Once she was through with her sanding regime, I cleaned out the internals of the shank and the mortise with a few hard and regular pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I also cleaned out the threads in the shank end with cotton buds and alcohol. With a sharp knife, I gently scraped away the lava overflow from the rim top surface. I followed it up by cleaning the external surface of the stummel with hard bristled tooth brush and Murphy’s oil soap. I rinsed it under running tap water and dried it with paper towels and a soft cotton cloth. I diligently scrubbed the rim top surface with a scotch-brite pad and Murphy’s oil soap to remove the remaining lava overflow. With this step on this particular project, I achieved two results; firstly, the gold lettered stamping on the shank was consigned to past tense and secondly, a couple of fills were revealed (marked in yellow arrows) at the front of the bowl and in the bottom left panel of the diamond shank. Thankfully, there is no charring over the inner and outer edge or the rim surface. I removed the old and loosened fills from the front of the bowl and one on the shank that was closer to the bowl. The old fill at the shank end; I let it be as it would be covered with superglue while attaching the silver ferrule. Next, I decided to address the issue of darkened rim top surface and uneven inner edge by topping the rim on a piece of 220 grit sand paper. The progress being made was frequently checked as I had no desire to lose any briar estate than absolutely necessary. Once satisfied with the result, I wiped the rim top surface with a moist cloth. The darkened rim top has been addressed completely, however, the inner rim edge is still uneven (though greatly reduced) with slight charred edges. I address these issues by simply running a piece of 220 grit sand paper along the inner rim edge without creating a bevel, but a nice rounded even surface.Next issue to be addressed was the fills. As mentioned above, I had cleaned out the old and loose fills using my sharp dental tool. I filled these with a mix of superglue and briar dust using the layering technique. Using a toothpick, I first spot fill superglue in to the surface of the intended fill and press briar dust over it. I repeat this process, if need be, till the fill is slightly above the rest of the surface. Once all the fills are covered, I set the stummel aside to cure. Once the fills are sufficiently hardened, which is quite rapid, I sand it with a flat head needle file to achieve a rough match with the rest of the stummel surface. I follow it up by sanding with a piece of 220, 600 and 800 grit sand papers to a perfect match. Discerning readers must have noted that I did not sand the entire stummel surface. This was because, as I had decided earlier that I would maintain the aged patina that the briar had taken on over the 119 years.At this stage, I decided that I would tackle the stem repairs as addressing the crack observed on the diamond saddle would require curing time and while the stem repair is curing, I could get back to the stummel, saving on time. I began by first cleaning the bone tenon and the stem surface with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the dirt and gunk from the surface. I was contemplating whether or not to drill a counter hole to prevent the crack from progressing further and after weighing the cons, I decided not to do so. The probability of the stem chipping or the crack developing further was reason enough for me to avoid this drilling. I filled this crack with plain superglue and set it aside to cure. The CA superglue would seep and spread inside and stabilize the crack. During his visit, while discussing various aspects of pipe restorations, Steve had made a passing comment that in his experience the best way to preserve the patina on a briar if you need to sand it is to dry sand the stummel with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. I followed his advice and went ahead and dry sanded the entire stummel surface with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. The results are amazing. The stummel has now a deep and rich dark brown coloration and this will further deepen once I go through the polishing and wax application regimen. Most of the readers would have noticed that the double ring separating the cap from the rest of the stummel shows accumulation of briar dust and grime. Also the fills are darker than the rest of the stummel surface. I have noticed it too and will clean the rings at the end as the polish and wax would also be accumulating in these gaps subsequently. The issue of the fills was addressed by staining the fills and surrounding surface with a dark brown stain pen. I set the stummel aside overnight for the stain to set. The blend is near perfect and should blend further after application of balm and carnauba wax polish.The superglue applied over the crack was by now well cured and had seeped in to the crack as well. I sand the entire stem and the fill in particular, with a worn piece of 220 grit sand paper. This helped to address the tooth chatter seen in the bite zone as well as blend the fill with the rest of the stem surface. I followed it up with dry sanding the stem with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. I wiped the stem with a moist cloth after every three pads to remove the resulting bone dust. To finish, I applied a liberal coat of Extra Virgin Olive oil and set it aside to be absorbed by the porous bone. I am very pleased with the way the contrasting dark browns and lighter grains in the bone are now highlighted. Once polished further, this will further add a touch of class to an already chic looking Bulldog!! I applied petroleum jelly over the bone tenon and tried the fit of it in to the mortise after temporarily attaching the silver ferrule over the shank end. The alignment and seating of the two was spot on. I separated all the parts again and continued further. While the stem was being hydrated with olive oil, I went back to work the stummel. The stain had set well by this time. I applied a little “Before and After Restoration” balm with my fingers and rubbed it deep in to the stummel surface. This balm rejuvenates the briar and the transformation in the appearance of the stummel is almost immediate. The fills are now so well blended in to the briar that it is difficult to spot them. The only part that needs TLC is the sterling silver ferrule. I polish the ferrule with a very soft powder specifically available locally, and widely used by jewelers, for polishing of silver. I align the ferrule stampings with the stummel stamping on the shank and fix it over the shank with a little superglue. The contrast that this shiny ferrule provides against the dark brown of the stummel looks fantastic.Next, I ran a thin and sharp knife through the double cap ring and cleaned it. To finish, I re-attach the stem with the stummel and mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my rotary tool. I set the speed at about half of the full power and applied several coats of carnauba wax over the stummel and the stem of the pipe. I finished the restoration by giving the pipe a rigorous hand buff using a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine further. The completed pipe, with dark brown hues of the stummel contrasting with silver ferrule and the shiny dark browns and lighter grains in the bone stem makes for a visual treat. The pipe looks lovely, fresh and vibrant; the photographs speak for themselves. Thank you for your valuable time. P.S. This was the last pipe that I had restored during my leave from my work. The following write ups are now on pipes that I have already restored after returning to my work place. I shall sorely miss the help that Pavni, my 10 year youngest daughter and Abha, wifey dear, extend in my work. There are about 40 odd pipes that I have carried with me and which have been cleaned by Abha. So the next couple of months are going to be interesting. Keep following rebornpipes.com for some nice, unique and interesting pipes from here in India in the near future.

Oh, missed out on one aspect!! I tried to repaint the shank stamp with a gold glitter pen towards the end, but it would just not stay. Any suggestion would definitely help me mark this oldie as well as for future.

 

Giving a Second Chance to a Throw Away Bowl


Blog by Steve Laug

This morning I was looking through my boxes of pipes to restore to find what I wanted to do next. I went through several options and finally settled on a bowl that I brought back from Idaho. It was a Custombilt style bowl that we were ready to pitch in the trash because it was in rough condition. Someone had cut off the shank with a saw – a real hack job that left the shank end rough and the surface not flat. The bowl had a thick cake in it and an overflow of lava on the rim top. The inside and outside edges were dirty but it was unclear if there was damage. There was no stamping on the shank or underside. The finish was shot and there was a lot of dirt and grime in the grooves of the finish. There was also some shiny coat on the smooth portions of the bowl that made wonder if it had been varnished at some time in its life. It was an unbelievable mess. But it was enough of a challenge that I wanted to take it on. Here are some photos of the bowl when I started. I went through my cans of stems and found one that fit the mortise. I would need to work on the face of the shank itself to make it round again but it showed a lot of promise. The stem was lightly oxidized and the bend was too much but otherwise I liked the look of the saddle stem.I put the stem on the bowl and took a few photos of the pipe. To me it showed a lot of promise. It would take a bit of work to get the fit just right but the pipe had a lot of potential.I heated the stem with a heat gun to straighten out the bend. Once the vulcanite had become flexible I took the majority of the bend out so that the angle of the stem matched the angle of the top of the bowl. I took photos of it at this point in the process. I am happy with the progress. I set the stem aside and turned my attention to the bowl. I reamed it back to bare briar with a PipNet pipe reaming set. Once the bowl was smooth I cleaned up the reaming on the walls and scraped the rim top with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage and smooth out the surface of the rim. There was a lot of damage to the rim top and the topping took care of the damage to the rim top. I scrubbed the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush under running water. I rinsed off the grime and took the following photos of the bowl. I cleaned out the internals on the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with 99% isopropyl alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I worked until the shank and mortise was clean and smelled new.There were still some shiny spots on the shank and smooth portions of the bowl. I wiped them down with acetone on a cotton pad. I used the Dremel and sanding drum and 220 grit sandpaper to reshape the shank. I rounded it to match the diameter of the stem and also faced the shank end on the topping board. I was moving through this restoration while I was talking with my brother and totally forgot to take photos of this part of the process. I smoothed out the sanded and reshaped shank and stem with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding with 1500-6000 grit pads. I sanded the top of the bowl at the same time to smooth out the scratches.

Once I had finished shaping the shank I decided to continue my ongoing experiment with the Briar Cleaner on this pipe. I scrubbed it with the product from Mark Hoover of Before & After Products. He says that the briar cleaner has the capacity of absorbing grime and dirt from the surface of briar. I rubbed the bowl down with it to see how it would work in this setting. (Just a note: In speaking to Mark he noted that the product is completely safe to use. The main product is even FDA approved edible.) I rubbed it onto the bowl and rim top with my finger tips and worked it into the remaining sanding grit on the bowl. I let it sit on the pipe for about 5 minutes before I rinsed it under warm running water to remove the residue. I hand dried it with a microfiber cloth. I was pleasantly surprised by how clean the surface on the bowl looked when I was finished. The various surfaces of the carved briar just begged for a variety of stains to give the pipe some real dimensionality. I heated the briar and gave it the first coat of stain – a Tan Fiebings. This tan has some red tints in the dried and fired coat. I applied the stain with a dauber and then flamed it with a Bic lighter to set it in the grain. I repeated the process until the coverage was what I wanted. I buffed the bowl with a clean microfiber cloth and gave the bowl a light shine. All of this was preliminary for the next stain coat. I put the stem on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. The buffing really brought the reds to the surface of the briar. It helped me to make the next decision regarding the contrast stain. I touched up the rim top with a Mahogany stain pen to smooth out the finish. I then stain the entire bowl with the contrast stain coat using Watco’s Danish Oil with a Cherry stain. I rubbed it on with a soft cloth and let it sit for a while before buffing it off with a soft cloth. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a horsehair shoe brush. I also buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to polishing the stem. I worked it over with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads. I buffed it on the buffing wheel with Red Tripoli to further remove the oxidation on the surface. I reworked it with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it apart. With both parts of the pipe finished I put the pipe back together again and I polished the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The rich finish and the interesting grain on this briar came alive with the buffing. The finish on the briar works well with the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe looks almost like it came out of the factory like this. It is a well-proportioned, nicely grained shape that I would call Bent Apple. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This throw away, cut off bowl met a stem from another place and the pipe that came out is a beauty. The condition of the bowl showed that it was a great smoker so this new edition should also be one! I am not sure who made the bowl originally but from the looks of the finish it could very well be a Custombilt. I am not sure I will ever know with certainty but it has the look. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

Gifting My Dear Friend, Dal Stanton, an Alexander Zavvos Hygrosystem Pipe


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Steve, his brother, Jeff and Dal Stanton, The Pipe Steward, were on a visit to India in early May 2019. It was a fun filled week and also a great learning. I have always admired the finish that Dal imparts to the pipes he restores while I am amazed at the speed, the measured quantum of work that Steve puts in his restoration processes and also the profound knowledge that he has on all things pipes!! I was fortunate to see and learn these nuances first hand. I had a desire that there should be a unique pipe which all three of us should have (Jeff being a non smoker) and had laid down for myself, the following parameters for identifying THAT PIPE!

(a) Both should not be having this pipe in their personal collection (knowing well that this would be a very tall order!!)

(b) The pipe must have some historical significance and should have made a contribution to the world’s pipe history.

(c) It must come from a well known carver or manufacturer.

The pipe selected is an ALEXANDER ZAVVOS HYGROSYSTEM, PAT.No 87033, made in the 1970s-80s. What followed was an extensive and prolonged hunt for two such pipes of which the first one was purchased from one seller on Pinterest and the second was on eBay. These pipes were received separately and the last delivery materialized a couple of days prior to the arrival of these esteemed guests. Here are both the pipes as I received them.Since Mr. Dal was the first to arrive in India, he was given a choice between the two. He selected one with an Apple shape and the remaining willy-nilly came to Steve. At that point in time, both Dal and I discussed that it would be the Apple shape that Steve would have selected but… It’s Dal’s pipe now. The stamping on the Apple is crisp and easy to make out. It reads on the left of the shank as “ALEXANDER” over “HYGROSYSTEM” over a square with letter “Zb” over “GREECE”. The right side of the shank is marked as “EX # 207- *”, denoting the shape code, size and grade (?). The bottom of the shank bears the stamping “PAT No. 87033” over “06/ 89”, which I believe is the date code indicating that the pipe was made in June of 1989. I re-searched this pipe on pipedia.org and reproduce excerpts of information on this pipe carver, in his own words, and his immense contributions to the Greek pipe industry in particular and entire world’s pipe community.

I am Alexandros Zavvos, born in Molos, Thermopylae, near Lamia. Since I was a child I had an inclination for art, starting with painting. I studied Radio-electronics, and at age 23 I got involved with commerce with a capital of 150.000 drs. in 1962.

I entered the pipe business where I met, by total chance, with Mr. Libero G. Albanese, first technician and producer of briar-wood models in Kalabria, Italy. When I told him that I am Greek, he almost prayed, saying that we Greeks have the best briar in the world for pipe-making! From that moment on I understood that this fellow is in love with his work – and he transmitted that to me instantly!

From mid-1962 to 1963 I searched all over the world for a college or a school in order to be taught the art of pipe-making, but in vain – there were none. Moreover, I wasn’t able to make it through the big European pipe-makers of that time (British, Italian, Danish). I was convinced that only through experience there was a chance of me becoming what I wanted.

In 1964 I started the commercial briar-wood model production, in 1965 I constructed empirically my first pipe and in 1967 I started the vertical production (this is from the briar Greek woods to the consumer) – maybe there is no other factory in the world producing smoking pipes vertically.

In 1970 I started the research, which was accomplished in 1984, on the 1st generation hygrostatic system. In that same period we founded, my brother and I, our factory in Lamia for the production of ebony epistomes.

Today, 40 years later, I have successfully arrived at the production of the 5th generation hygrostatic pipe. I will finish by saying that this pipe, to what concerns the pleasure it provides, has nothing to do with that pipe for peace, offered by American Indians.        

Update:Today I am saddened by the news that Alexander passed away on February 10th, 2015. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. We are very thankful for his contributions to the World of pipes. —sethile (talk) 21:00, 12 February 2015 (UTC). 

The description given by the seller on eBay was equally informative and I reproduce the same for the readers to get a fair idea of the famed Hygrosystem that has been incorporated into the construction of this pipe.

A patented Hygro-system pipe by the greatest and most known (now deceased) Greek pipe manufacturer Alexander (Zabos / Zavvos). His old pieces are by now becoming rare and sought after, as his son who took over the business is not equal to the father. His stamp (Z with a B lower) comes from the two consonants in his name the way it is spelled in Greek. Very big and well known European pipe makers have purchased top briars from Alexander Zavvos, since the Greek briars are among the best in the world.

A few things about Alexader Zabos’s patent : The hygrostatic system  is the result of 35 years research and experience. It is based on the Bernoulli principle, has been allowed to be patterned (No 87833) by the Greek Ministry of Industry and Energy. Unlike most filter or no-filter pipes, the Alexander Hygrostatic Pipe reduces drastically moisture and other heavy residue (such as tar etc), which otherwise could be inhaled into our lungs and extinguishes a bitterness and a burning on the tongue.

Alexander Zavvos’s Hygrosystem pipes were quite expensive if bought new (the cheapest had a value of 160-170 euros) and have become highly collectible after the death of the manufacturer.

From the above information, it is safe to infer that this pipe is from the first generation of the hygrosystem pipes from Alexander Zavvos and made in March 1989.

I have given a detailed description on deconstructing this line of pipes and also a detailed explanation, as I understood it, on the application of the principle employed in the hygrosystem for which these pipes became famous, in my previous write up on a similar pipe which is on its way to Steve in Vancouver, Canada. Here is the link to that article, https://rebornpipes.com/2019/08/02/gifting-my-mentor-and-dear-friend-steve-an-alexander-zavvos-hygrosystem-pipe/

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
This is a very ornate and beautiful pipe with a perfect shape, size and hand feel with a delicate and a smallish stem. The forward heavy weight of the pipe does not lend itself to clenching and would best be enjoyed while being held in the hand. The brass band at the shank end, the vulcanite band at the shank end of the aluminum shank extension and again a brass band at the tenon end of this shank extension should add a nice classy touch to the pipe’s appearance once polished and it also helps to break the monotony of the briar. The stummel has beautiful mixed grain with a combination of straight on the sides and front with bird’s eye and swirls over the heel and shank. All this beauty is hidden under the accumulation of dirt and grime over the years. The stummel has numerous dents and ding over the entire surface. However, save for one large fill (marked in yellow arrow) and unlike the pipe which will be going to Steve, there are no major issues of fills or cracks that I foresee on this stummel. The outer rim edge curves inwards to form a narrow rim top surface  and shows a slight overflow of lava on the rim top and the surface itself is peppered with numerous dents and dings which should be easy to sort out by sanding the rim top with a piece of 220 grit sand paper.The chamber has a thick and even layer of cake which shrouds the condition of the walls of the chamber. However, the feel of the bowl is solid and I hope there are no major surprises here. There is a brass ring at the shank end which extends inside the shank with threads on to which the aluminum shank extension is screwed in. This brass ring should add a bit of glitz to the pipe appearance once polished. The mortise is clogged and heavy crust of dried oils and tars are clearly visible. This will take some effort to clean out.The screw-in aluminum shank extension that houses a filter is covered in oils and tars. Also the smaller aperture pipe protrusion at the stem end is covered in gunk and tars. The vulcanite band at the shank end and the brass band at the tenon end will need to be polished. The briar at the tenon end is nice and solid with no damage, and that’s a big relief having experienced the challenges firsthand with Steve’s pipe, how difficult it is to address issues on this part of the pipe. The wood gasket which is housed in the tenon end of the shank extension has been dislodged from its place and is stuck on to the tenon. The vulcanite stem with its fused briar at the tenon end is generally in good shape, save for the broken and missing nearly half of the stem. The break is at an angle and only a tiny portion of the button end on one side is available to me as a reference. This should be more than sufficient for me to undertake a complete rebuild of the missing portion of the stem. The stem is very lightly oxidized and the fused and decorative briar saddle, though covered in oils, tars and grime, is intact. The tenon is dirty and clogged with all the gunk and dried oils and tars left behind by the previous owner of this pipe. I took a few close-up pictures of the stem and broken edge of the stem for the readers to better assimilate what I would be dealing with during the stem rebuild. I have the option of cutting off the stem at the point of break and thereafter rebuild and shape a new button on either side, but this would drastically shorten the already short stem and toss the symmetry of this beautiful pipe right through the window. And remember, my dear readers, that this pipe is being sent to my dear friend and a pipe restorer par excellence, Dal!! He is a perfectionist, to say the least. I intend to use the intact part of the stem as a guide for determining the length of the stem, the flare at the button end and the length of the slot and I would be attempting all this by eyeballing all the measurements as I do not have any Vernier calipers for exact measurements. I know, that’s hell of a lot of eyeballing that I would be doing during the restoration.THE PROCESS
It is the stem reconstruction that takes the most amount of time what with all the curing, sanding, refilling if needed, shaping and polishing and, therefore, I always prefer to start with repairs to the stem. Firstly, I sand off the area of intended fill with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. This not only evens out the surface for the fill but also gets rid of the oxidation which would otherwise show itself through the fills as a brown patch after polishing. This was followed by cleaning up the internals of the stem and the tenon with regular and bristled pipe cleaners dipped in 99% pure isopropyl alcohol. With a dental pick, I scrubbed out the dried gunk from the tenon and from along the broken button end edges. I had seen Dal use a folded triangular index card while reconstructing a broken button end whereas I always used a petroleum jelly (Vaseline) coated pipe cleaner inserted in to the air way to keep it open. My method, though effective, was time consuming as I had to completely reshape the slot thereafter. However, in this instance, since there was nothing to support or hold the folded index card on the other side, I perforce had to fall back on my time tested method of using a pipe cleaner coated with petroleum jelly (Vaseline). I prepared a slightly thin (just thick enough to form a drop but not runny enough to fall down) mix of CA superglue and food grade activated charcoal and applied it over the broken stem area. I also applied this mix over the intact side lip edge to make it even. To get the flare which was evident on the intact side of the stem, I applied a thick blob of this mix and held it sideways so that the mix forms a droplet. Thereafter I maneuvered the drop to the desired shape till it hardens and harden it does so quite rapidly. Once this layer had cured, I applied another layer of the mix. The trick here is that this type of reconstruction needs to be done in layers to a thickness more than the adjoining stem surface. This, thereafter, can be filed and sanded down to match the stem surface. I did exactly as described above and set the stem aside to cure. The following pictures will give you a general idea of what I have described above. Once the mix had cured hard, I went about shaping these fills to match the overall profile of the stem, with a flat head needle file. I was very careful with my use of the needle file, eyeballing the profile frequently. An hour later and I had achieved a rough match profile to the original stem as it would have been before the break. I even had a rough button profile shaped out in conjunction with the intact button edge. Eager to use my newly acquired slot shaping tool, this was an ideal candidate to use it for the first time. Well, this tool is much more effective than using a tightly folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to shape the slot. I am very happy with the progress being made. From my experience (and I have done many!!) it usually takes a week to reach this stage and here I was on only my third day of working on the stem!!And then a set back! As I was shaping the slot, a chunk of the fill did not feel like staying and just left its place, leaving behind a gaping hole. It is marked in yellow arrow.Such chipping is to be expected and undaunted I again prepared a mix of superglue and activated charcoal, this time more glue and lesser of charcoal. Since I now had both the edges of the slot, I decided to use the folded index card. Once the index card was in place, I applied this mix over the chipped area and set it aside to cure. I also took this opportunity to fill in a few air pockets which were beginning to show as well as increase the button edges on either side.A curing time of nearly 12 hours later, the fill was nicely set and hard enough to start reshaping the slot and the button edge and further fine tune the stem profile and finish. Using a flat head needle file, I file away at the fill and roughly shape the button edge on either side of the stem. I am comfortably placed with the progress being made so far, so to say. As expected, I observed a couple of air pockets and also that one of the lip edge had been filed down more than the other and was dotted with many air pockets. I addressed these issues with a layer of superglue and charcoal powder mix. However, in this mix, the percentage of superglue was higher than the charcoal powder. I set the stem aside to cure. I would have ideally applied black CA glue, but…don’t have it.Moving ahead, I reamed the chamber with size 2 head of the PipNet reamer. Using my smaller sized fabricated knife, I further reamed out the cake from places where the PipNet reamer could not reach. I gently scrapped out the lava overflow from the thin rim top surface and followed it with sanding the chamber walls with a 220 grit sand paper. How I miss my younger daughter, Pavni, who specializes in smoothing the chamber walls and removing every trace of the old cake. Dal, I know you would have loved to have a pipe that your “Bollywood Queen” had worked on, but hope I have come close to her finesse!! Once the cake was taken down to bare briar, the walls of the chamber were found to be smooth and flawless. The draught hole is dead center and at the bottom of the chamber. I am sure that this will be a nice smoker! Removing the overflow of lava from the rim top revealed a thin surface that is peppered with numerous dents and dings. I continued with cleaning of the stummel and worked the mortise using the smaller fabricated knife first to scrap out the dried out gunk, oils and tars left behind by the previous steward. The amount of grime scrapped out is a testimony to the efficacy of this Hygrosystem, I say. A few pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol later, the shank is clean. Now that the chamber and shank internals are clean, I move ahead with the external cleaning of the stummel.I cleaned the externals of the stummel with Murphy’s oil soap and toothbrush. Rinsing under tap water (remember, I am in India and its hot here and even the tap water is equally warm!!) revealed just a few fills in the briar on left back side of the stummel and nearer to the rim top and these have been marked by yellow arrows. To be honest, I feared a rerun of the nightmare that I just went through while restoring Steve’s Alexander Zavvos Hygrosystem pipe! Not the case this time around, Thank God for such mercies!!! The stummel has a number of small dents and dings, which should be addressed when I sand the stummel with a piece of 220 grit sand paper followed by complete micromesh pad polishing cycle. I do not intend to be overly aggressive with the 220 grit sandpaper as I wish to preserve as much of the old patina as I can. Beautiful straight and mixed grains are now clearly visible. This should turn out to be a beautiful looking pipe, I think. I began removing the old fills and preparing the stummel for a fresh fill. Using my dental tools, I progressed to removing the fills. The fill on the left back side of the stummel was large and deep while the two on the rim top were smaller in size but deep.At this point in the restoration, I decided to address the issue of old odors in the chamber and shank by subjecting it to a cotton and alcohol bath. I wrapped some cotton around a folded pipe cleaner, keeping the tip of the pipe cleaner free of wrapped cotton as this would be inserted through the draught hole in to the chamber. This would form the wick for the shank. I tightly packed the chamber with cotton balls and filled it with 99% pure isopropyl alcohol using a syringe and set it aside. By next day, the cotton and alcohol had drawn out the all the old tars and oils from the chamber and max from the shank. I let the stummel fills dry out completely and after all the alcohol had evaporated, proceeded to fill the deep gouges with CA superglue and briar dust using the layering technique where I put down a thin layer of superglue in to the fill and press briar dust in to this fill over the glue. I continue with this till the fill rises above rest of the stummel surface. Once all the gouges were filled up, I set the stummel aside to cure for the next 24 hours.I file the raised mounds of the patched fills with a flat needle file. The only drawback of the layering technique is that a number of air pockets are revealed after the filing. This time was no exception and I refilled the exposed air pockets only with superglue and set it aside to cure.Since there was still time before I hit the bed, I decided to address the stem. I sand the fill with a needle file to a rough match with the surface of the stem. For a better match, I further sand the entire stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. I topped the slot on a piece of 220 grit sand paper to even it out. The repairs looked good at this stage.With the stummel fills nicely cured, it was time again to work on it. Using a flat head needle file, I sanded the fills and followed it by sanding with worn out folded piece of 150 grit sand paper. The fill has blended in quite well. However, I shall strive to further achieve a near perfect blend during further sanding and polishing with micromesh pads.I again worked on the stem, filing with a needle file and followed with sanding with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. With my slot tool, I carved out and shaped the slot. Here, the intact part of the stem gave me an idea of the extent of the spread of the slot from the edge. I achieved the desired shape and size by just visual estimations. I sand the slot end on a piece of 220 grit sand paper. I am happy with the way the stem reconstruction including the buttons and the slot, has shaped up till this point. I rubbed a little Extra Virgin Olive oil in to the stem surface for it to be absorbed and hydrate the vulcanite and set it aside. With the stem repairs well under control and progressing steadily, I turn my attention to the stummel once again. I address the dents and dings with further sanding of the entire stummel and the thin rim top using a worn out piece of folded 150 grit sand paper followed by a 220 grit paper. The dents and dings on the stummel and rim top are addressed to a large extent. What dents and dings remained, I let them be as a part of the history associated with the pipe and its previous owner. While going through with the micromesh polishing cycle, I extend this care to the brass band at the shank end. The now nicely shining brass band adds a touch of class to the pipe and helps in breaking the monotony of the pipe.I rubbed some “Before and After” restoration balm. This product has been developed by Mark Hoover and it helps to enrich and enliven the briar. For me it is an absolute “must have” item in my list of items for pipe restorations. I rub this balm in to the briar and set it aside for some time. I turned my attention back to the stem. I sanded the stem, including the briar insert at the tenon end with a 220 grit paper and progressively moving to 600 and 800 grit sand papers. As expected, a clean and neat looking stem stared back at me. I rubbed a little Extra Virgin Olive oil in to the stem surface to hydrate it and set it aside to be absorbed in to the vulcanite.I was satisfied with the way the stem has now turned out. I finished the stem reconstruction by polishing the stem with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I applied a small quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil to the vulcanite stem and rubbed some “Before and After” restoration balm before setting it aside.I had undertaken restoration of two of the three parts of this pipe, the stem and the stummel, and now turned my attention to the third and last part, the aluminum shank extension. This part was in pristine condition, save for the accumulated oils, tars and gunk which I had already cleaned out from the aluminum tube, the smaller aperture tube and the wide shank extension at the stem end, and yes, I had missed out on taking pictures and documenting this step. I went through sanding the vulcanite band and the briar insert with a folded piece of 220, 400 and 600 grit sand papers in that order. I cleaned the aluminum tube protrusion and the threading with a brass wire brush. I further polished it with a 0000 grade steel wool followed by dry sanding with all the nine pads of micromesh. The aluminum tube is now clean and shining. I finished the cleaning regime of the tube and threads in the shank extension by polishing it with a multipurpose liquid polish.This was followed by micromesh polishing cycle, wet sanding these components of the shank extension, including the brass band, with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I rubbed some “Before and After” restoration balm and set it aside. This part definitely adds some nice class to the overall appearance of the pipe.I cleaned out the wood gasket which makes the fit of the tenon in to the shank extension airtight with cotton buds dipped in alcohol. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil to this gasket, inside and outer surface to hydrate the wood and set it aside to be absorbed by the wood. When I had initially dismantled the pipe, this gasket came out attached to the tenon. However, close observation of the outer surface of the gasket points to the fact that the gasket was stuck inside the shank extension towards the stem end. I did not sand the outer surface to a smooth finish as I wanted to keep the surface rough when I applied superglue and reaffixed it inside the shank extension.Nearing the home run, I decided to stain the stummel and the rim top surface with a dark brown stain in the hope that it would help in a nice blending of the one and only major stummel fill. I heated the stummel surface with my heat gun to open up the pores on the stummel so that the stain is well set while being careful that I do not overheat the fill, a lesson learned while restoring Steve’s Alexander Zavvos pipe. I dipped a folded pipe cleaner in Feibing’s Dark Brown leather dye and liberally applied it over the heated surface, flaming it with the flame of a lighter as I went ahead to different self designated zones of the surface. This helps in the setting of the stain in the grain of the briar.I was not very comfortable in heating the aluminum shank extension and the briar insert on the stem as this could result in warping of the vulcanite band and the briar inserts on the shank extension and stem. I decided to use a dark brown stain pen instead. I applied the dark brown stain over the briar inserts of the shank extension and stem. I set both the stummel and shank extension aside for the stain to dry and get completely absorbed in the surface.The next evening, approximately 18 hours later, as Dal describes, I began to unwrap the stain in the hope to see beautiful grains. I mount a felt cloth buffing wheel on my hand held rotary tool and setting the tool at its slowest speed, again my recent experience while working on Steve’s pipe came in handy and the damage that can be caused due to heating while using the felt buffing wheel still fresh in my memory; I began to peel off the stain from the stummel surface first. The stain was peeled out gradually. This was followed with wiping the stummel with a cotton swab and alcohol to lighten the stain a little as it was too dark for my liking. This also helps in cleaning the surface of all the residual stain and highlighting the grain. Now, the fear that besieged me was the stain running down Dal’s hand as he smoked the pipe and so I set the stain by again heating the stummel surface with the heat gun. Unfortunately in my exuberance, I missed out on taking pictures of this step.

I felt as though the stummel, shank extension and the stem appeared patchy, though when I shared pictures with Abha, my wife, she found them to be nice, smooth and shiny. However, I decided to go with my instinct and dry sanded the entire pipe with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, aluminum tubing and brass bands included. Now I am satisfied by the appearance of the pipe at this stage and ready to move on to the final stage of polishing. Next, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel and setting the speed to ¼ of the full power, I applied a thick coat of carnauba wax over the stummel, aluminum shank extension and the stem. I worked the complete pipe till the time all the wax was absorbed by the briar. The pipe now boasts of a beautiful and lustrous shine. I vigorously rubbed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine and also clean away any residual wax that had been left behind. I am very happy with the way this beauty has turned out.Before re-assembling the pipe, I once again thoroughly cleaned the internals of the shank, aluminum shank extension and the stem airway with pipe cleaners and ear buds dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I also fixed the wooden gasket with superglue in to the stem end of the shank extension. I checked the draw to make sure that the airways in the shank, extension and stem are open. The draw is nice, smooth and open and somewhat similar to the draw experienced on a Peterson’s P-lip stem. I also applied a little Vaseline over the threads of the aluminum shank extension and the wood gasket to protect and keep it soft.To finish, I reassembled the complete pipe and gave it a final buff with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. This dude has come a long way when it started its journey in June 1989 and now 30 years later, it shall soon be traveling all the way to Bulgaria to serve my dear friend and fellow pipe restorer, Dal Stanton while he reminisces about his visit to me, Abha, Mudra and his Bollywood Queen!! I sincerely thank all the readers to have spared their valuable time in going through this write up. P.S. This project has been very close to my heart as this pipe is intended to be with my friend and guide, Dal as a memento of his visit to my family in India, fond memories of which will always stay with me. I hope that whenever he sits down with this pipe, packs it with his favorite tobacco, LANE BCA and fires it up, the first whiff reminds him of us here in India.

Some readers must have observed that the fill still stands out as a sore thumb, but I would like to assure you that it’s the smooth glossy surface of the highly polished superglue that reflects more light than the surrounding and hence is more prominent. To the naked eye, however, it is not so evident. Any inputs and suggestions are always valuable to me and most appreciated as they help me grow and improve.

Lastly, I thank everyone for sharing the joy that I experienced while working on this pipe.

 

 

 

Gifting my Mentor and Dear Friend, Steve, an Alexander Zavvos Hygrosystem Pipe.


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

When Steve, his brother, Jeff and Dal Stanton, The Pipe Steward, were on a visit to India, I had a desire that there should be a unique pipe which all three of us should have (Mr. Jeff being a non smoker) and had laid down for myself, the following parameters for identifying THAT PIPE!

(a) Both should not be having this pipe in their personal collection (knowing well that this would be a very tall order!!)

(b) The pipe must have some historical significance and should have made a contribution to the world’s pipe history.

(c) It must come from a well-known carver or manufacturer.

I began this selection with going through my own personal modest collection, rather my Grandfather’s collection to which I have made miniscule additions. Amidst all the WDCs, Charatans, Comoy’s, Barlings, Ben Wades, Stanwells and Kriswills, there was this one pipe which was very different. Very early in my association with Steve, we had discussed this pipe which Mr. Steve had not come across (which was unbelievable!!!) and did not own a pipe from this carver, but was very much interested in it. An oblique enquiry from Dal also confirmed that he did not have this make. Well, this helped me zero in on this pipe to be gifted to my friends during their visit to India. The pipe selected is an ALEXANDER ZAVVOS HYGROSYSTEM, PAT.No 87033, made in the 1970s-80s. What followed was an extensive and prolonged hunt for two such pipes of which the first one was purchased from one seller on Pinterest and the second was on eBay. These pipes were received separately and the last delivery materialized a couple of days prior to the arrival of my esteemed guests. Here are both the pipes as I received them.Since Dal was the first to arrive in India (and being the youngest amongst arriving guests…LoL), he was given a choice between the two. He selected one with an Apple shape and the remaining willy-nilly came to Steve. At that point in time, both Dal and I discussed that it would be the Apple shape that Steve would have selected but… Well after working on Steve’s pipe, am I glad that the Dublin came to Steve as it provided me with an opportunity to present my first ever rusticated pipe to the person who has introduced me to this art and mentored me all along. Thank you Steve for being with Abha and me on this journey.

The stamping on the Dublin is pretty worn out and hard to make out. However, the stampings on my pipe and that on Dal’s is pretty crisp and clear. It reads on the left of the shank as “ALEXANDER” over “HYGROSYSTEM” over a square with letter “Zb” over “GREECE”. The bottom of the shank bears the stamping “PAT No. 87033” over “03/ 89”, which I believe is the date code indicating that the pipe was made in March of 1989. This stamping is visible only under a white light with a magnifying glass and the area around the stampings has bubbled up skin surface, something akin to chipped paint.I researched this pipe on pipedia.org and reproduce excerpts of information on this pipe carver, in his own words, and his immense contributions to the Greek pipe industry in particular and entire world’s pipe community.

I am Alexandros Zavvos, born in Molos, Thermopylae, near Lamia. Since I was a child I had an inclination for art, starting with painting. I studied Radio-electronics, and at age 23 I got involved with commerce with a capital of 150.000 drs. in 1962.

 I entered the pipe business where I met, by total chance, with Mr. Libero G. Albanese, first technician and producer of briar-wood models in Kalabria, Italy. When I told him that I am Greek, he almost prayed, saying that we Greeks have the best briar in the world for pipe-making! From that moment on I understood that this fellow is in love woth his work – and he transmitted that to me instantly!

From mid-1962 to 1963 I searched all over the world for a college or a school in order to be taught the art of pipe-making, but in vain – there were none. Moreover, I wasn’t able to make it through the big European pipe-makers of that time (British, Italian, Danish). I was convinced that only through experience there was a chance of me becoming what I wanted.

In 1964 I started the commercial briar-wood model production, in 1965 I constructed empirically my first pipe and in 1967 I started the vertical production (this is from the briar Greek woods to the consumer) – maybe there is no other factory in the world producing smoking pipes vertically.

In 1970 I started the research, which was accomplished in 1984, on the 1st generation hygrostatic system. In that same period we founded, my brother and I, our factory in Lamia for the production of ebony epistomes.

Today, 40 years later, I have successfully arrived at the production of the 5th generation hygrostatic pipe. I will finish by saying that this pipe, to what concerns the pleasure it provides, has nothing to do with that pipe for peace, offered by American Indians.

Update: Today I am saddened by the news that Alexander passed away on February 10th, 2015. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. We are very thankful for his contributions to the World of pipes. —sethile (talk) 21:00, 12 February 2015 (UTC).

The description given by the seller on eBay was equally informative and I reproduce the same for the readers to get a fair idea of the famed Hygrosystem that has been incorporated into the construction of this pipe.

A patented Hygro-system pipe by the greatest and most known (now deceased) Greek pipe manufacturer Alexander (Zabos / Zavvos). His old pieces are by now becoming rare and sought after, as his son who took over the business is not equal to the father. His stamp (Z with a B lower) comes from the two consonants in his name the way it is spelled in Greek. Very big and well known European pipe makers have purchased top briars from Alexander Zavvos, since the Greek briars are among the best in the world.

A few things about Alexader Zabos’s patent: The hygrostatic system  is the result of 35 years research and experience. It is based on the Bernoulli principle, has been allowed to be patterned (No 87833) by the Greek Ministry of Industry and Energy. Unlike most filter or no-filter pipes, the Alexander Hygrostatic Pipe reduces drastically moisture and other heavy residue (such as tar etc), which otherwise could be inhaled into our lungs and extinguishes a bitterness and a burning on the tongue.

Alexander Zavvos’s Hygrosystem pipes were quite expensive if bought new (the cheapest had a value of 160-170 euros) and have become highly collectible after the death of the manufacturer.

From the above information, it is safe to infer that this pipe is from the first generation of the hygrosystem pipes from Alexander Zavvos and made in March 1989.

DECONSTRUCTING THE PIPE
In my quest to understand the functional principal of the famed HYGROSYSTEM used in this pipe, I began by first dismantling the pipe. The pipe was dismantled in three parts; first the stummel, secondly the aluminum screw-in shank extension which has an aluminum tube to house a filter, probably a 6 mm, and lastly vulcanite stem with a fused briar wood saddle. From my appreciation, it is the shank extension which forms the critical component in the famed Hygro-System, at the stem end of which a smaller aperture pipe protrusion is seen. A similar sized protrusion is seen at the tenon end of the vulcanite stem. The fit of the tenon in to the aluminum shank extension is made air tight with a thin ring of briar wood (not leather, as it is not pliable at all).APPLICATION OF BERNOULLI’S PRINCIPLE IN THE HYGROSYSTEM

Bernoulli’s principle states that an increase in the speed of a fluid occurs simultaneously with a decrease in pressure or a decrease in the fluid‘s potential energy. This is applicable to flow of gases also.

In simple layman’s understanding, the above principle states that “Pressure is inversely proportional to the speed of the liquid or gaseous flow”. So how does this principle work in the hygrosystem of this pipe? To explain application of this principle, refer to the picture of the pipe below that I have drawn:(a) Hot smoke along with heavy particulates of oils, tars and moisture from the chamber enters the mortise and expands due to width of the mortise. As a result, speed is reduced. High pressure is created in the mortise.

(b) Once the smoke enters in to the aluminum shank extension, it is compressed and speeds up considerably creating a low pressure area. Due to the low pressure, heavy particles like oils, tars and moisture settle down and are trapped in the filter in the aluminum tube of the shank extension.

(c) The speed is further increased when the smoke passes through the smaller aperture tube due to further compression, shown in green arrows, further lowering the pressure. When this smoke leaves the smaller aperture tube and enters the wide stem end of the shank extension, there is a sudden increase in pressure. This sudden variation in pressures results in heavy particulates settling down and only smoke, being lighter, propelled ahead.

(d) Similar pressure changes are affected when the smoke passes through the wide tenon and through the smaller aperture tube in the stem, further precipitating the heavy particulates of oils, tars and moisture. The end result is a pure smoke without any oils or tars.

The above understanding is my own reasoning based on my learning of science till Graduation level. Any corrections or clarifications from more knowledgeable readers is always enriching and welcomed.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
Starting with the rim and rim top surface, there is a slight overflow of lava on the rim top and the surface itself is peppered with numerous dents and dings which should be easy to sort out by topping the rim top. The rim edges are sans any serious damage, save for an odd chip on the outer edge, marked in blue arrow.The chamber however tells a very different story. There is a thin layer of cake which has taken on a grey coloration, which is a first for me, by the way. The way the cake appears to the eye, I suspect a few heat lines in the walls of the chamber towards the back and right side. I just hope that the issue is not a major one and just a bowl coating should suffice. Well, I shall cross the bridge when I reach it. There is strong smell emanating from the chamber which should be addressed to a great extent once the chamber has been reamed and the shank has been cleaned. The stummel surface has signs of accumulated dirt, dust and grime and should clean up nicely. It was surprising to note that these accumulations are in patches, almost following the cross grains seen on the right and front and over the entire shank. The left side, which has some beautiful bird’s eye grain, is clean. There are a large number of dents and dings all around the stummel surface. The shank surface has bubbled up near and around the stampings towards the shank end. Just near to the shank and bowl junction, I could make out a very thin line running all round the shank forming a circle (marked in yellow arrow). This worries me as at this stage, I am not sure about the extent of the depth of the crack. Also along this crack line, I could make out one fill. All in all, this is going to be a challenging restoration to get it back to being smoke worthy. There is a brass ring at the shank end which extends inside the shank with threads on to which the aluminum shank extension is screwed in. This brass ring should add a bit of glitz to the pipe appearance once polished. The mortise is clogged and heavy crust of dried oils and tars are clearly visible. This will take some effort to clean out.   The screw-in aluminum shank extension that houses a filter is covered in oils and tars. Also the smaller aperture pipe protrusion at the stem end is covered in gunk and tars. The briar coating at the top of this extension is chipped at one place (marked in yellow arrow) exposing the underlying aluminum shank extension. At the stem end of this extension, the brass ring is missing (marked in orange). I don’t have any brass rings and hence will have to improvise one that will fit. The vulcanite stem with its fused briar saddle at the tenon end is generally in good shape, save for the broken button end. The stem is very lightly oxidized and has minor tooth chatter on the lower lip surface towards the button end. The lower button itself shows minor tooth marks. Rebuilding of the missing button portion of the upper surface and reshaping of the lower button shouldn’t pose any major issue. The tenon is dirty with all the gunk and dried oils and tars left behind by the previous owner of this pipe. THE PROCESS
Since any stem reconstruction takes the most amount of time what with all the curing, sanding, refilling if needed, shaping and polishing, I always prefer to start with repairs to the stem. Firstly, I sand off all the tooth chatter and the area of intended fill with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. This not only evens out the surface for the fill but also gets rid of the oxidation which would otherwise show itself through the fills as a brown patch after polishing. This was followed by cleaning up the internals of the stem and the tenon with regular and bristled pipe cleaners dipped in 99% pure isopropyl alcohol. With a dental pick, I scrubbed out the dried gunk from the tenon and from along the broken button end edges. I had seen Dal use a folded triangular index card while reconstructing a broken button end whereas I always used a Vaseline coated pipe cleaner inserted in to the air way to keep it open. My method, though effective, was time consuming as I had to completely reshape the slot thereafter. Therefore for this repair, I decided to adopt Dal’s method. I appropriately folded an index card and covered it with a transparent tape which prevents the superglue and charcoal mix from sticking to the card. This is how it appears and fits in to the broken stem.I prepared a thick mix of CA superglue and food grade activated charcoal and applied it over the broken button area. I also applied this mix over the lip edge to make it even and cover the tooth marks. Once this layer had cured, I applied another layer of the mix. The trick here is that this type of reconstruction needs to be done in layers to a thickness more than the adjoining stem surface. This thereafter can be filed and sanded down to match the stem surface. I did exactly as described above and set the stem aside to cure.First layer.Second layer.Third layer.Final layer.

Once the mix had cured hard, I went about matching these fills with a flat head needle file and followed it up with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. As expected, I observed a couple of air pockets and also that one of the lip edge had been filed down more than the other and was dotted with many air pockets. I addressed these issues with a layer of superglue and charcoal powder mix. However, in this mix, the percentage of superglue was higher than the charcoal powder. I set the stem aside to cure. After the stem fills had cured, I repeated the process explained above to match the filled surface with the stem surface using needle files and sand paper. Now the lip edges are even, however, the air pockets persist. It’s very frustrating, I know but you have to be equally persistent. I applied a layer of clear CA superglue (would have ideally applied black CA glue, but……don’t have it) and set it aside. To take my mind off the troublesome stem repair, I decided to tackle the issue of missing brass band from the stem end of the shank extension. Working with limited spares, materials and tools has its advantages. It forces you to think out-of-the-box for ways around the hurdle, many a times with startling and successful results but you pay the price in terms of time penalties. Well, time I have aplenty!!! I decided to fabricate a brass ring of adequate thickness. My fabricator informed me that it would not be possible to make one with this width as he had only wires and not strips of brass. No issues, I had two rings made!! These rings fit perfectly and add a nice unique touch. These should polish up nicely. I shall fix these rings towards the end of the restoration process. Moving ahead, I reamed the chamber with size 1 and 2 head of the PipNet reamer. Using my smaller sized fabricated knife, I further reamed out the cake from places where the PipNet reamer could not reach. I gently scrapped out the lava overflow from the rim top surface. I followed it with sanding the chamber walls with a 220 grit sand paper. How I miss my younger daughter, Pavni, who specializes in smoothing the chamber walls and removing every trace of the old cake. Steve, hope I have come close to her finesse!! Once the cake was taken down to bare briar, my initial fears of heat fissures/line were confirmed, with the only difference being that these were not linear but pits, another first for me. These pits were only on the right side of the stummel and marked in yellow.  To use J B Weld or only a bowl coating (which I prefer) would suffice, shall be decided later. Removing the overflow of lava from the rim top revealed a surface that is peppered with numerous dents and dings. Other than these issues, the walls of the chamber are even and solid. I still did not have the inclination to work on the stem (actually it’s the fear of unknown result of the last fill!!) and continued with cleaning of the stummel. I worked the mortise using the dental tool first to scrap out the dried out gunk, oils and tars left behind by the previous steward. The amount of grime scrapped out is a testimony to the efficacy of this HygroSystem, I say. A few pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol later, the shank is clean. Now that the chamber and shank internals are clean, the smells though reduced, is still prevalent.Staying with the stummel, I cleaned the externals with Murphy’s oil soap and toothbrush. Rinsing under tap water (remember, I am in India and its hot here and even tap water is equally warm!!!!) was the start of my nightmare and prolonged conversations with Steve and on our FB messenger group. Here are the pictures first; description of my observations will follow subsequently. Just follow the arrows… As I had noted during my initial inspection, the hairline crack towards the bowl end is now prominently visible and marked with yellow arrows in each picture. This hairline crack runs all around the shank and is joined end-to-end. This still was okay as I had anticipated it, but what surprised me, or rather rocked my feet, was the thick fill of putty running all around the shank end. The same is marked with blue arrows. This fill runs in a more perfect circle than the one near the bowl shank joint and right through the middle of all stampings!! Aargh……There goes the stampings… Sorry Steve, hope you understand.

As if the hairline crack and the all-round fill at the shank end was not enough, the right side of the stummel is…. Actually, I am lost for words and the words that come to my mind are most definitely unprintable and I definitely have no desire for a rap on my knuckles from Steve. Have a look at the pictures and please decide for yourself a suitable description. There is not an inch on the right side of the stummel and shank that is free of any fills. Undaunted, I began the arduous journey of removing the old fills and preparing the stummel for a fresh fill. Using my newly acquired dental tools which were procured when Steve, Jeff, Abha and I had gone around the town shopping for tools for pipe resto work, I progressed to removing the fills. This is how the pipe appeared after the old fills were removed, a cheesecake pipe!!!! The fills were large and deep. The only saving grace was the crack near the bowl shank joint was only superficial and the fills on it would act as counter hole, what am I writing!! It’s a complete circular crack. The long and short of it is that the crack is stable and going nowhere damaging the structural integrity of the pipe. At this point in the restoration, I decided to address the issue of old odors in the chamber and shank by subjecting it to a cotton and alcohol bath. I wrapped some cotton around a folded pipe cleaner, keeping the tip of the pipe cleaner free of wrapped cotton as this would be inserted through the draught hole in to the chamber. This would form the wick for the shank. I tightly packed the chamber with cotton balls and filled it with 99% pure isopropyl alcohol using a syringe and set it aside. Immediately a few seconds later, the alcohol started oozing out of all the fills. The pipe appears to be shedding tears at its present condition, and so am I. I shared these pictures with my FB messenger group friends inquiring whether to discard the pipe or continue and ways to progress ahead with the restoration. The unanimous reply was to continue and rustication was the way ahead. Well I moved ahead with my work on the pipe but was not sure about the rustication part. Here is how the pipe appeared at this stage in restoration: By next day, the cotton and alcohol had drawn out the tars and oils from the chamber and max from the shank.I let the stummel fills dry out completely and after all the alcohol had evaporated, proceeded to fill the deep gouges with CA superglue and briar dust using the layering technique. I my part of the world, the moment briar dust came in to contact with the glue it becomes rock hard even after trying every trick that Dal had shared with me and Steve when we were together in India. Therefore, I adopted the layering technique where I put down a thin layer of superglue in to the fill and press briar dust over the glue. I continue with this till the fill rises above rest of the stummel surface. Believe you me readers, I spent an entire evening working well past midnight, to get all the gouges filled up. I set the stummel aside to cure for the next 24 hours. Still working on the stummel, I file the raised mounds of the patched fills with a flat needle file. The only drawback of the layering technique is that a number of air pockets are revealed after the filing. This time was no exception and I refilled the exposed air pockets only with superglue and set it aside to cure. Since there was still time before I hit the bed, I decided to address the stem. I sand the fill to match the surface of the stem. For a better blending, I further sand the entire stem with 220. I topped the slot on a piece of 220 grit sand paper to even it out. The repairs looked good at this stage. With the stummel fills nicely cured, it was time again to work on it. Using a flat head needle file, I sanded the fills and followed it with further sanding with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. Again the same sordid story, the fills revealed numerous air pockets through which the briar dust was seen. In my quest to make this restoration as perfect as possible, it refilled these air pockets with superglue and briar dust. This time around, I mixed a minuscule amount of briar dust with superglue and surprise! The mix remained pliable for just enough seconds in which I could apply it over the fills. Again I set the stummel aside to cure. This sure is trying my patience and stubbornness. I shall prevail, is what I have decided. Since the glue and briar dust mix had hardened immediately, but not hard enough to use a flat head needle file on it, I decided to address the issue of the numerous dents, dings and scratches on the rim top surface. To do this, I spread out a patch of 220 grit sand paper on my work table. Firmly holding the patch in my left hand and the stummel in my right, I gave a few firm rotations to the rim top over the sand paper patch. I continued the process, checking ever so frequently, till I was satisfied with the result. The rim no appears pristine and even. This was the only uneventful part in the entire restoration, LoL!!The fills on the stummel having sufficiently cured, I went ahead and filed the fills with a folded worn out piece of 150 grit sand paper and followed it up with sanding with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. My reasoning for not using a flat head needle file was that maybe the hard abrasiveness of the file is causing the fill to come out exposing the air pockets. But no, the air pockets still showed themselves in all their ugliness. I decided to press on with the process, even though Steve was still gently prodding me to take the rustication route. This was followed up with micromesh polishing cycle. I wet sanded the stummel going through with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. Intermittent wiping of the stummel with a moist cloth helps firstly, to remove the sanded dust and secondly, gives an idea of the progress being made and areas which needed more attention. The stummel has taken a beautiful sheen where there are no fills, but the right and front of the stummel and the shank tells a different story, it does not look presentable to put it mildly. While going through with the micromesh polishing cycle, I extend this care to the brass band at the shank end. The now nicely shining brass band adds a touch of class to the pipe and some bling too!!I shared the above pictures with Steve and asked for suggestions for the way ahead. He suggested applying some “Before and After” restoration balm as it may also help in further blending the fills. As he was suggesting this, there was a ping on my mobile and there were some pictures of beautifully rusticated pipes that Steve had done over the years. I just smiled and went ahead with applying the balm and see the results. The results were not encouraging at all to say the least. To be honest, the thought of going the rustication route to salvage this pipe had started taking roots in my head, mind you head and not the heart! Disappointed with the stummel appearance at this stage, I turned my attention back to the stem. I had sanded the stem, including the briar insert at the tenon end with a 220 grit paper. I picked it up from there and progressively sanded the entire stem with 600 and 800 grit sand paper. I expected a clean and neat looking stem to stare back at me, but what I saw made me cringe. The top of the button showed some beautiful white spots of air pockets (marked in circle)!! Why, why can’t this restoration progress without any hiccups? I decided to take a break and cleaned out my work table. I loaded my large W. O. Larsen bent brandy pipe with my favorite G. L. Pease Virginia blend, Telegraph Hill (thanks Steve for this pipe and the tobacco, though my gift to you is testing my endurance and determination!) and went out and sat down in the lawns closing my eyes. I thoroughly enjoyed my smoke and came back refreshed. I rubbed a little Extra Virgin Olive oil in to the stem surface to hydrate it and set it aside to be absorbed in to the vulcanite.I had undertaken restoration of two of the three parts of this pipe, the stem and the stummel, and this had proved to be tedious and frustrating. I left them aside in various stages of progress and now turned my attention to the third and last part, the aluminum shank extension. The only issue that I had seen in my initial inspection was that of the chip and bubble in the surface of the briar coating over the aluminum insert. I picked out the bubble and lo, behold, the small chip instantly transformed itself in to larger than life sized!!!! The thickness of the coat was very thin, a few microns, maybe, and instantly peeled of like wall paint. I immediately realized that I am in for a long haul on this one too. Here is what happened and for comprehension, reproducing the picture taken during the initial inspection.It was interesting to note that the aluminum shank extension had a nice design, indicated with a yellow arrow, below the briar finish coat and the coat was pressed on to it. That the coat is heated and wrapped around is evident from the fact that this design can be seen on the intact coat surface. I decided to address the issue of chipped coating by filling it with a mixture of briar dust and superglue. I set the shank extension aside to cure after applying the mix. I missed out on taking pictures of the fill.While fill on the shank extension was curing, I decided to complete the stem repairs. I completely gouged out the area with air pocket for a fresh fill. With a black marker I darkened the fill and thereafter spot filled it with a mix of charcoal powder and superglue, superglue being more than charcoal and set it aside to cure. The mix hardened immediately and I continued with sanding and shaping the button. The fills and stem reconstruction came out good and I was satisfied with the way the stem has now turned out. I followed it up with sanding the entire stem with a folded piece of 220, 400 and 600 grit sandpaper in that order. I finished the stem reconstruction with a polishing with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I applied a small quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil to the stem and set it aside. The fill on the shank extension had cured and I progressed with filing it with a flat head needle file followed with a sanding with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. I further matched the fill with the rest of the surface by sanding the entire wood coating on the shank extension with folded pieces of 400 and 600 grit sand papers. In the pictures below, one may think that there are air pockets in the fill; however, the fill is solid without any air pockets. I also evened out the edges over the aluminum extension in preparation for fixing the two fabricated brass rings, described above. Staying with the shank extension, I cleaned out the aluminum tube protrusion and the threading with a brass wire brush. I further polished it with a 0000 grade steel wool. The aluminum tube is now clean and shining. I finished the cleaning regime of the tube and threads in the shank extension by polishing it with a multipurpose liquid polish.Now it was time to affix the two fabricated brass rings. I applied a little superglue over the exposed aluminum protrusion of the shank extension towards the stem end and fixed the rings over it. I polished the shank extension, the aluminum tube and the two brass rings included, with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. The shank extension now has a nice shine and the aluminum tube looks like new. The fill does show through in all its awfulness, but this will blend in nicely when I stain and subsequently polish it further. I applied a little “Before and After” restoration balm and buff it with a microfiber cloth after 20 minutes.I cleaned out the wood gasket which makes the fit of the tenon in to the shank extension airtight with cotton buds dipped in alcohol. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil to this gasket, inside and out, to hydrate the wood and set it aside to be absorbed in the wood. When I had initially dismantled the pipe, this gasket came out attached to the tenon. However, close observation of the outer surface of the gasket points to the fact that the gasket was stuck inside the shank extension towards the stem end. I did not sand the outer surface to a smooth finish as I wanted to keep the surface rough when I applied superglue and reaffixed it inside the shank extension.Now that I had completed the restoration and reconstruction of the shank extension and stem respectively, I turned my attention back to the stummel with all its imperfections. Even at this stage, while on Face time with Steve he suggested that I rusticate the stummel. However, when he saw the reluctance, he suggested that I should try to blend the fills, which were standing out like sore thumbs, with a darkest stain available to me. I decided to stain the stummel and the rim top surface with black stain first and later with a dark brown stain in the hope that the contrast would help in a nice blend. I heated the stummel surface with my heat gun to open up the pores on the stummel so that the stain is well set. I mixed black stain powder with isopropyl alcohol and liberally applied it over the heated surface, flaming it with the flame of a lighter as I went ahead to different self designated zones of the surface. This helps in the setting of the stain in the grain of the briar. Similarly, I applied the black stain over the wood of the shank extension. I set both the stummel and shank extension aside for the stain to dry and get completely absorbed in the surface. The next evening, approximately 18 hours later, as Dal describes, I began to unwrap the stain in the hope to see beautiful grains. I mount a felt cloth buffing wheel (for the first time I admit, as I had only recently purchased these) on my hand held rotary tool. Setting the tool at its slowest speed as Dal had explained to me that a felt cloth wheel generates tremendous heat, I began to peel of the stain from the stummel surface first. But, hell there was no unwrapping at all!!! Not an iota of stain was buffed out. Therefore, I decided to increase the speed of the rotary tool a notch higher and still no result. I further upped the ante and took the speed regulator to half of the full power. Now the stain was peeled out gradually. This was followed with wiping the stummel with a cotton swab and alcohol to lighten the stain a little as it was too dark for my liking and this also helps in cleaning the surface of all the residual stain. But as soon as I reached to the right side of the stummel, I started seeing the dreaded patches where the fills got removed. Same for the shank extension!!! Here are the pictures as I saw the after effects of this buffing. Following are my observation on the stummel at this stage:-

(a) The stain had not set in over certain fills. These stood out like red blisters and are gory to look at.

(b) The fills had come out at certain spots. This was due to my mistake. I had either heated thestummel too much prior to staining or could be that I erred in my handling of the newly acquired felt cloth buffing wheel. Unknowingly, I got the stummel overheated, ditto for the shank extension.

It was extremely frustrating to say the least. Now I had option of either refilling the spots or “RUSTICATING” the stummel and the shank. To the readers, I would like to inform that during the process of filling and subsequent sanding of the stummel there were numerous, or countless I say, times when I had to spot fill small pockets and repeat the sanding of these small spots. I really had no desire to go that route as it would have literally meant starting from square one!! And it has already been nearly 25 days that I have been working on this pipe (and simultaneously on Dal’s pipe too with its own share of challenges!). I decided to go the path pointed by my mentor and rusticate the stummel. I messaged Steve about this decision and his first response was a terse “Good”!!! Before I could forward a message lamenting further about not having suitable tools, he sent me a link on rebornpipes.com about how to make rustication tool from a Philips screwdriver. From the speed and swiftness with which he forwarded the link, it appeared as if he had anticipated this. Here is the link and is a must read for all new exponents of this art. https://rebornpipes.com/2012/11/03/making-a-rustication-tool-out-of-a-phillips-screwdriver/

The article is worded very simple and articulate enough for anyone to follow and make a rustication tool for oneself.  Lucky for me, I had ordered a DIY rotary tool kit with complete accessories and this kit included all the tools that were essential to make myself a rustication tool. Shown below are a few pictures of the tools used and the completed rustication tool. With this, I geared myself for the first ever rustication of a pipe amidst a lot of trepidation. It was after a lot of effort that I had laid my hands on a pipe from this maker with this system, was meant to be a gift for someone I admire and as such did not want to ruin it. However, if you do not take a step further, you never progress and never learn and so I began the process of rusticating the bowl and shank.

I first wiped the stummel with a cotton pad and isopropyl alcohol to clean the surface and lighten the dark stain. The rim and about half an inch below the rim was in decent shape and I decided to maintain a smooth ring atop the rustication. Since I did not have a masking tape, I used a transparent tape to demarcate the area that I wanted to keep smooth that is the rim top and about half an inch below the rim outer edge. Similarly, I covered whatever little that remained of the stamping. This is a very essential step as I realized during rusticating that it is very easy to lose track and transgress over the areas and stampings which you wish to preserve. To rusticate, I firmly held the stummel in my left hand and with my right hand and began gouging out the briar. The technique is to firmly press the pointed four prongs of the modified Philips screwdriver in to the surface, rotate and pull out the removed chunk of briar. During the entire process, I kept sharing pictures of the progress that I was making, with Steve. As Steve suggested, I was pretty aggressive in my rustications. Once I had completed the rustications over the intended areas, I removed the transparent tape and cleaned the entire stummel with a soft bristled brass brush to remove all the debris from the rusticated surface. Here is how the stummel appeared after the cleaning process. I am happy with the way the stummel appears at this stage. I wanted to smooth out the jagged edges left behind by the screwdriver. I decided to scrub the entire stummel with a hardwired bristled circular brush mounted on my rotary tool. I hoped that this would thoroughly clean the rustications, smooth out the rough edges, and remove the chipped surface which could not be removed by the soft wired brass brush while adding a new dimension to the rusticated surface. Well, honestly I am not sure about the last aspect that I had hoped to achieve, but the other objectives we successfully achieved. I cleaned the smooth and rusticated surface with a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol to remove the sticky mark left behind by the tape and clean the rusticated surface in preparation for application of black stain. Once satisfied with the cleaning, I heated the stummel with my heat gun and applied a coat of black stain as described above. I set the stummel aside to set the stain in the surface. Once the stain had dried, I did observe a few spots that missed the application of the stain. However, I am not overly concerned with this, as these spots would eventually get stained when I apply the second coat of dark brown. Once the stain had set in well, I again warmed the stummel with my heat gun. This helps the stain to be absorbed and set further in to the briar. This heating also helps in reducing/preventing the stain from bleeding onto one’s hands while smoking or that is what I have read. I mounted a felt cloth buffing wheel on my rotary tool and gently buffed the entire stummel surface. Not wanting to repeat my previous mistake, I kept the speed of the rotary tool at its minimum. It took some time before I was finally able to remove the crust formed by the black stain. I wiped the stummel with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove any excess stain and followed it up sanding the raised rustication with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. This was followed up by carefully dry sanding of the entire stummel, especially the raised rustications with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. This not only lightened and highlighted the rustications, but would also provide a smooth surface for the next coat of dark brown stain. I was contemplating either a cherry red or oxblood stain apart from the dark brown as suggested by Steve, for the next coat. Also the present look of the stummel was equally beautiful. So there I was, at cross roads for deciding stain or no stain for the second coat. I decided to go by Steve’s suggestion as he is more experienced and as also this was to be his pipe. Here is how the pipe appeared before I applied the second coat of dark brown stain. I buffed the stummel with a horse hair shoe brush to remove any sanding dust resulting from the micromesh sanding. I applied a small quantity of “Before and After” restoration balm to rehydrate and rejuvenate the briar and set it aside for some time. Thereafter, I buffed and cleaned the stummel with a microfiber cloth. I applied a second coat of dark brown stain over the stummel and the shank extension, going through the same method as described above and set them aside for the stain to set. However, in my exuberance to cross the finish line, which by the way was now within sight, I completely missed out on taking pictures of this stage. Once the stain was set, I wiped down the stummel with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove any excess stain and lighten it from the raised rustications. Mounting a felt cloth buffing wheel on my rotary tool, I went about removing the crust formed by the stain over the raised rustication. The second coat of brown stain has added another layer of texture to the appearance of the stummel and aluminum shank extension. I like the way the stummel now appears to the eye. Now, the fear that besieged me was the stain running down Steve’s hand as he smoked the pipe and I shared this anxiety with him. He suggested that I should set the stain by again heating the stummel surface with the heat gun and this is exactly what I did. Next, I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel and setting the speed to ¼ of the full power, I applied a coat of carnauba wax over the stummel, aluminum shank extension and the stem. I worked the complete pipe to a beautiful and lustrous shine.I followed this wax polish by a mounting a clean cotton buffing wheel on the rotary tool and cleaned the stummel surface to remove any excess wax that had lodged itself in the rustications. The last issue that remains unaddressed is the thin chamber wall on the right side of the stummel. I had an option of either applying JB Weld or using plain bowl coating. I decided to go with the latter as, in my appreciation, this should suffice and also, in case my appreciation goes awry, I know Steve would apply JB Weld to make it functional again. Had this pipe been for anyone else, I would have applied JB Weld followed by a layer of bowl coat, just to be sure.Before re-assembling the pipe, I once again thoroughly cleaned the internals of the shank, aluminum shank extension and the stem airway with pipe cleaners and ear buds dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I also fixed the wooden gasket with superglue in to the stem end of the shank extension. I checked the draw to make sure that the airways in the shank, extension and stem are open. The draw is nice, smooth and open and somewhat similar to the draw experienced on a Peterson’s P-lip stem. I also applied a little Vaseline over the threads of the aluminum shank extension and the wood gasket to protect and keep it soft.To finish, I reassembled the complete pipe and gave it a final buff with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. This dude has come a long way from being on the verge of being discarded, to be my first ever attempt at rustication, to being my first gift to my Guru and mentor, Steve. I am pleased with the way this pipe has turned out and I sincerely hope that Steve likes it too. This pipe will soon be on its way to another part of the world, Vancouver, Canada to be precise, to be enjoyed and to serve my dear friend while he reminisces about his visit to me, Abha, Mudra and Pavni. I sincerely thank all the readers to have spared their valuable time in going through this long, and at times repetitive, write up. P.S. This project has been a great learning, with its fair share of frustrations and moments of euphoria, both of which are memorable to me. I enjoyed researching and understanding the working principle employed in this pipe. Any input and suggestions are always valuable to me and most appreciated as they help me grow and improve.

Recommissioning a Classic Pocket Pipe:  A Fun Sport Horn Stem Sculpted Stubby Paneled Tomato


Blog by Dal Stanton

I’m calling this Sport Horn Stem “fun” because it’s a whimsical pipe.  As a ‘stubby’ he looks like he wanted to grow larger but didn’t.  He’s diminutive in stature and really qualifies as a ‘Pocket Pipe’ because he will be comfy in a pocket waiting for his steward to pack his bowl and spend some time together.  The dimensions are: Length: 4 1/4 inches, Height: 1 1/8 inches, Rim width: 1 inch, Chamber width: 11/16 inches, Chamber depth: 1 1/8 inches.  His paneled bowl has also been shaped with a sculpting that appears to be leaves, vines and a basket on his heel.  When you put this pipe’s characteristics together, whimsical comes to my mind.  He came to me as a part of the French Lot of 50 that I acquired from France’s eBay auction block.  This French Lot of 50 has been an amazing collection of pipes many of which are now with new stewards after they commissioned them from For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! online collection and many of which bearing names that are unknown to me.  This lot was also characterized by several pipes sporting horn stems – pointing in many cases to earlier French origins.  Here’s a picture of the Lot and the Sport is bowl down on the lower right.Peter was among those who trolled through the virtual ‘Help Me!’ baskets in Pipe Dreamers Only! and reached out to me about commissioning the Sport which benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – our work here in Bulgaria helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Now on my worktable, here are more pictures of the Sport. The left side of the shank holds the slanted, cursive, ’Sport’ framed in a sculpted panel.  On the right side of the shank, is the French rendering of ‘BRUYERE’ [over] ‘DELUXE’.  As I’ve done several times before with this Lot, I’m assuming that the Sport is of French origin – the horn stem helps in this conviction as horn was a common stem material for pipe manufacturing in the earlier part of the 1900s. As I was half expecting, I found very little at my normal first stops at Pipedia and Pipephil.  ‘Sportsman’ is a popular name I saw in Pipephil but nothing with the simple, ‘Sport’.  Pipedia dangled some possibilities.

Pipedia listed in the Savinelli article (LINK) the Savinelli made sub-brands, seconds & order productions and had this listing: “Sport – About 1960’s – Chubby shape with very short stem or mouthpiece”.  Interesting, but the Sport just doesn’t have the Savinelli Italian feel with the horn stem and sculpting.  Pipedia provided two more leads – one of French origin and the other English.  Again, Pipedia only contributes in the English listing section and not with an article: “Sport: Brand of J. Cohen & Son. Also a Salvatella series, and a model by Chacom.”  I looked up the link given for Salvatella because I hadn’t heard of this name.  The short paragraph was interesting:

Salvatella was a pipe company founded in 1883 by Enric Moulines Giralt in Catalonia, Spain, long the center both of briar production and pipemaking in Spain. Giralt started the company after training with French pipemakers, and primarily dedicated himself to the development of briar. It was not until Giralt’s nephew, the third to take over the company, that Salvatella began producing pipes as well as briar. While at their height the company produced as many as 150,000 pipes per year and exported pipes worldwide, the factory closed in 2001.

Interesting, but nothing that helps me move forward.  The listing for ‘Sport’ in the Pipedia French manufacturers list was even less demonstrable: “Bristol Sport” followed by: “???”  Each piece of information is like a thread in the wind.  Nothing to get ahold of or to tie to!

In a last ditch effort to find something, I recalled the restoration of another petite French beauty that came from this French Lot of 50 that I had already researched and restored (See: Discovering the History with the Reclamation of this Petite EPC Majestic Bent Horn Stem Billiard).  The EPC Majestic I discovered dated in the 1920s and was produced by now defunct, A. Pandevant & Roy Co. near Paris.  The research of the EPC Majestic led me to old catalogs that helped me put the pieces of the mystery of its origins together.  The similarities between the Sport and the EPC Majestic gave me the idea that maybe the name ‘Sport’ might show up in the old catalog.  With a certain amount of hope I poured through the Catalogue only to find nothing.  One last thread in the wind of little use: Also, in the same French Lot of 50 was another pipe marked with “Sport” on its shank.  An attractive Bullmoose which is still in the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! online collection waiting to be adopted!  A quick comparison of the markings leaves little hope that they are related….While I cannot corroborate this, I believe that the Sport before me is of French origin and that the horn stem gives it some vintage – how much, I cannot say.  Even so, it is an attractive and interesting pipe even though his origins will remain shrouded in mystery for now.

Looking at the pipe’s condition, it is in very good shape.  The chamber has a light cake build-up but the lava flow over the rim has some grit to it.  The sculpted surface needs cleaning and polishing.  The horn stem is beautiful and shows almost no bit wear.  It will shine up very nicely.  I start the recommissioning of this Sport Horn Stem Sculpted Paneled Tomato by starting with the stummel.  Using the Pipnet Reaming Kit I use only the first, smallest of the blade heads to ream the 11/16-inch-wide chamber.  I follow this by employing the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to scrape the chamber walls and clean out around the draft hole.  Finally, I sand the chamber using 240 grade paper wrapped around the Sharpie Pen and finish by wiping the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean away the carbon dust.  With the chamber cleaned, I give it a quick inspection, and all looks good – no problems with overheating, cracks or fissures. Next, using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a cotton pad, I scrub the external sculpted briar surface.  I also use a bristled toothbrush to get into the crevasses of the sculpting as well as a brass wire brush to work on the rim.  After scrubbing the surface, I take the stummel to the sink and using warm water I clean the internals using shank brushes and anti-oil dish soap.  While I’m at it, I use the brass brush on the nickel shank facing.After rinsing, and inspecting the now clean stummel, I discover 2 things.  First, there is a huge fill on the left shank near the ‘Sport’ nomenclature.  I’m not sure how I missed it before, so I look at a ‘before’ picture and discover that the fill had been part of the sculpting in a very effective way.  The fill was almost fully masked because it was blended with the contours.  Now, I’ll have to work on doing the same!  The second thing I discovered is that the mortise has a cork layer which grips the metal tenon.  Thankfully, I discover this before digging in the mortise to clean it!  As I inspect the mortise, I also see what appears to be a metal tubing beyond the cork down to the draft hole.  I use a sharp dental probe to test it and it does feel like metal or a hard lining of some sort.  The presence of the cork could possibly add more weight to this Sport having some vintage to it.  Cork was often used on older pipes to grip the tenon – the EPC Majestic included. Just to make sure, I remount the horn stem to see if the grip was still good – it was.  I’ll treat the cork later with some petroleum jelly to hydrate it.  Wow – I can’t believe I missed that fill!!I continue cleaning the internals by using isopropyl 95% and cotton buds reaching over the cork as much as possible. I also scrape the sides of the mortise, beyond the cork to help excavate tars and oils.  After a lot of cotton buds and pipe cleaners, the buds begin to emerge lighter and cleaner and I’m able to move on!The huge fill on the left shank side needs to be addressed.  The fill is solid but eroded so that it falls beneath the surface level of the briar.  I first dig out the old fill material using a sharp dental probe. My, the hole is deep!  After removing the fill, I clean the area with a cotton pad and alcohol. I then mix thick CA glue with briar dust to form a putty to refill the hole. Before mixing the CA glue and briar dust, I put scotch tape down on a plastic disk that serves as a mixing pallet.  The tape helps to facilitate cleaning – I simply peel the tape up afterwards.  I place a small pile of briar dust on the disk and put some thick CA glue in a small puddle next to the dust.  Using a toothpick, I gradually pull some briar dust into the edge of the thick CA glue and mix it as I go.  When it gets to a thickness that it doesn’t run too much, I dollop some into the crevasse with the toothpick and knead the putty down into the recesses using the toothpick.  When the hole is filled and a bit higher than the surface, I put the stummel aside to cure.  Since the putty is so thick – the hole so large, I’ll let the curing go through the night.  I put the stummel aside and turn to the horn stem.I start by cleaning the airway with pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%.  After one attempt with the pipe cleaner I discover that the airway is closed.  Looking at the button, I can see that the slot is totally plugged with gunk.  I use a dental probe with a hook point to excavate the gunk out of the slot.  Eventually, I’m able to work a thin shank brush wetted with isopropyl 95% through the airway.  After several pipe cleaners and assistance from shank brushes, the airway started cleaning up and I move on.To clean the external surface of the horn stem I take it to the sink with a bristled toothbrush and scrub the stem with warm water and dish soap.  First, I take a pair of pictures to mark the start.After the scrubbing, the horn composition starts to show its subtle shadows.  Very nice.After cleaning the nickel tenon with soap and water and clearing the gunk buildup on the stem facing, I use 000 steel wool to clean the tenon further bringing out the shine.With the stem now clean, I study the horn stem.  It’s a beautiful piece of horn and the only thing I can do is simply spruce it up.  In the past, I benefited greatly by Steve’s essay on horn stem repair working on my first horn stem, A First Horn Stem on a Throw Away Pipe.  The key thing in repairing horn is to fill the gaps to keep the horn from drying and splintering as horn is very porous.  This stem needs no repairs, but looking closely, I do see normal minuscule porous texture.  The tighter or smoother the horn surface is, helps to guard against the decay of the horn.  I take a few closeups to show this.I treat the horn stem like a vulcanite stem but with greater gentleness.  I run the stem through the micromesh regimen, and I will apply compounds afterward.  I wet sand with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 and follow by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  After each set of three pads, I apply Obsidian Oil to the horn and the horn drinks it up! I’m pleased with the results – even more gloss!  My day comes to an end. The next day, the briar dust putty fill has fully cured, and I go to work on it using a flat needle file to bring the fill mound down to briar level.I then use a piece of 240 grade sanding paper to smooth it further and to begin giving some shape to the patch to blend it.When the sandpaper did what it could do, I used a pointed needle file to sculpt through the patch to blend the patch with the surrounding area.  The good news is that the area is rough and busy which helps in blending the patch.With a combination of filing and sanding, I like the results.  The briar putty patch is darker than the surrounding area but I’m hopeful that the surrounding briar will also darken through the micromesh sanding/polishing process and with the application afterwards of Before & After Restoration Balm.After the external briar cleaning, the rim is looking good but still has some minor discoloration from charring on the internal rim edge and well as some roughness on the rim.  I gently sand the rim and the internal edge with a piece of 240 grade paper to dispatch the issues.  The rim looks good. Next, I apply the full regimen of nine micromesh pads starting with wet sanding using pads 1500 to 2400.  After this, wet sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000 finishes the process.  Wow, it is amazing how this process brings out the grain! From the picture above, the sculpting lines are lighter, and the hue is uneven with the darkening hue of the surrounding smooth briar.  The micromesh has helped with the blending of the briar dust putty patch, but it’s still noticeable.  Applying Before & After Restoration Balm will address both these issues and I’m looking forward to seeing the results.  I put some Balm on my fingers and work the Balm well into the sculpting and briar.  It starts with a cream-like consistency and then thickens to feel more like wax.  I place the stummel aside for 30 minutes for the Balm to be absorbed (pictured) and then I wipe off the excess Balm with a clean cloth then I buff the stummel to bring out the grain.  The briar looks great!As I noted before, the presence of the cork in the shank to grip the tenon possibly helps place this pipe in an older vintage.  To treat the cork, I use petroleum jelly to condition the cork.  I apply a light coat with a cotton bud and work it in.  This will hydrate the cork and hopefully add much time to the cork’s continued life.With the horn stem and Sport sculpted stummel reunited, I apply Blue Diamond compound.  After mounting a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel, and setting the speed to 40% full power, the compound does the job of applying the fine abrasive to the briar surface removing fine imperfections and distinguishing further the sculpted crevasses.  After applying Blue Diamond to the stummel and stem, I change to another cotton cloth buffing wheel dedicated to applying Blue Diamond on nickel.  I give the nickel shank cap a quick buffing with the compound to raise the shine.  I use a different buffing wheel for each different kind of application. While polishing the cap, I’m careful not to run the wheel over the briar as the nickel will stain the wood with the black resulting from the polishing the nickel.Following the compound, I change cotton buffing wheels to a wheel dedicated to wax, maintain speed at 40% and apply carnauba wax to both horn stem and stummel.  Afterwards, the restoration is completed with a rigorous hand buffing to remove excess wax as well as to raise the shine.I cannot place with certainty the exact vintage of this Sport Bruyere Deluxe, but it has characteristics of an older pipe.  I believe it to have a French COM and the horn stem seated with cork, is a distinctive part of this ensemble.  The sculpted bowl is attractive, and the stubby, pocket-sized ease translates into a very fun pipe put back into service for a new steward.  Since Peter commissioned the Sport from the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! online collection, he will have the first opportunity to acquire it from The Pipe Steward Store which benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – our work here in Bulgaria helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

Recommissioning a Sharp BBB Classic London England 106S Chimney


Blog by Dal Stanton

This very classy looking BBB I acquired with the French Lot of 50 that I won on the French eBay auction block along with several other treasures that I’ve enjoyed restoring for new stewards benefiting our work here in Bulgaria with the Daughters of Bulgaria.  Along with a few other pipes commissioned by my friend in India, Paresh saw this BBB in the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection and was interested in adding it to his BBB collection.  I’ve marked the BBB in the pile of pipes that I acquired.  I love looking at ‘pipe piles’ 😊.With the pipe now on my worktable here in Sofia, Bulgaria, I take more pictures to show what got Paresh’s attention.  In prototypical English style, the pipe is on diminutive side measuring, Length: 5 3/8 inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Rim width: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber width: 3/4 inches, and Chamber depth: 1 3/4 inches. The left side of the shank is stamped with the classic ‘BBB’ ensconced in the rhombus [over] ‘CLASSIC’.  The right side of the shank is stamped, ‘LONDON, ENGLAND’ [over] 106S – what I’m assuming is the BBB shape number designation.  The shape of the stummel I would label as a Chimney sporting a saddle stem.  In my research I could unearth no BBB Shapes Chart that corroborates my designation matching the 106S.I love the look and feel of this pipe and its distinctive brass rondel embedded on the topside of the stem placing this ‘Best British Briar’ Classic in the 1950s and 1960s.  Below is pictured the evolution of the BBB stem markings which is included in an extensive article on the History of BBB Pipes by Fiona Adler that Steve reposted in rebornpipes after translating from the original French.Pipephil provides a very brief description of ‘BBB’:

BBB: ” Best British Briar” is now a brand of the Cadogan Company (Oppenheimer group). American rights to use the brand name were sold to Wally Frank in 1980.
Founder of the brand in 1847: Louis Blumfeld. The oldest pipe brand name in the UK has been registered in 1876 (Blumfeld Best Briar)
Grading (ascendant): Own Make, Bold Grain, Best Make, Rare Grain

With the dating of this pipe giving it a 50s/60s vintage, I was hopeful to find the ‘Classic’ line in some of the catalogs that Steve acquired from Victor C. Naddeo who is the administrator of the FB Group, Pipe Club of Brasil. I enjoy it when catalogs are posted but unfortunately, I found neither the ‘Classic’ line mentioned or the shape number 106S in the 60s catalog (See: Best British Briar Catalog to see the whole posting).The Chimney stummel is in very good condition – the grain pattern shows great promise after the stummel is cleaned of normal dirt and grime buildup.  The chamber has a thick cake and the lava overflow matches the fact that this pipe was well smoked and served his steward well.  I will remove the cake to give the briar a fresh start and to inspect the chamber walls for heating problems.  The saddle stem has heavy oxidation but very little tooth chatter on the bit.  I’m looking forward to seeing how the very nice-looking BBB Classic Chimney cleans up.

I start by trying something that I haven’t tried before.  The oxidation in the stem is a lot and very deep.  My experience with Before & After Deoxidizer is that it is not able to remove very strong oxidation fully.  It can address some of the issue, but not thoroughly – in my experience.  I try to break up the oxidation by using a small felt buffing wheel mounted on the Dremel set to the lowest speed.  I start first with simply the felt wheel, but I’m concerned that it is too hot on the vulcanite.  I add paraffin oil to the mix.  I wet the felt wheel with the mineral oil and buff the stem trying to break up the oxidation in anticipation of putting the stem in the B&A Deoxidizer soak.After buffing, I wipe the stem down with a cloth and put it aside and allow it to dry.  After drying, the next two pictures show that the buffing did help, but there is still oxidation.I continue by cleaning the airway of the stem with a pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95%.  Once clean, I add it to a bath of Before & After Deoxidizer with other pipes in the queue.  I’m hopeful that the Deoxidizer will now be more efficient after the aggressive buffing I did. After some hours in the Deoxidizer soak, I fish out the BBB saddle stem and after draining off the excess Deoxidizer, I use cotton pads wetted with isopropyl to wipe off the raised oxidation.  I also run a pipe cleaner wetted with alcohol to clean the airway of the fluid.  The pictures show improvement, but I’m not satisfied.Next, I employ Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to address the oxidation further.  I’m satisfied with the results – the vulcanite appears to be free of the oxidation.To rejuvenate the stem, I apply paraffin oil to the vulcanite with a cotton pad and put the stem aside to absorb and dry.  I’m pleased with the results.Turning now to the BBB stummel, I take a few pictures to show the heavy build up both in the chamber and the rim.  I use only the smallest of the Pipnet Reaming Kit’s blade heads to ream the carbon cake out of the chamber. This will give the briar a fresh start.  I transition to the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to do the fine tuning by scraping the chamber walls more, and then wrap 240 grade paper around a Sharpie Pen and sand the chamber to clean it further of carbon cake residue.  Finally, I wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to rid the chamber of carbon dust.  I take a final picture of the cleaned chamber and after inspection, I see know problems in the chamber with heating cracks or fissures. Turning now to the external briar cleaning, I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a cotton pad to scrub the surface.  I also work on the rim using my thumbnail to scrape the rim to remove the buildup and then with a brass wire brush.  I then take the stummel to the sink and using a bristled toothbrush I brush and further clean the surface under the warm water.  Using shank brushes and anti-oil dish liquid soap as well I clean the internals of the stummel rinsing with warm water.Next, using pipe cleaners and cotton buds wetted with isopropyl 95%, I continue the internal cleaning.  I also scrape the mortise walls with a small dental spoon.  This does a great job removing the thicker tars and oils that are hanging on.  After a time, the cotton buds begin to emerge cleaner.To continue the internal cleaning process, I use the kosher salt and alcohol soak.  To form a ‘wick’ to draw out the tars and oils, I twist and pull a cotton ball to form the wick.  A stiff wire helps to insert and push the wick into the mortise.  Then the bowl is filled with kosher salt, which leaves no aftertaste and freshens the bowl, and I set the stummel in an egg crate to keep it steady.  A large eyedropper is used to fill the chamber with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes, I top the alcohol off after it has absorbed into the internals. I set the stummel aside for it to soak through the night.  It’s late, I also turn out the lights! The next morning, the kosher salt and isopropyl 95% soak has done the job.  The wick and salt are soiled having drawn more tar and oils from the internal cavity.  I thump the expended salt into the waste and wipe the chamber with a paper towel as well as blow through the shank to remove expended salt crystals.  To make sure the internals are clean, I use a few more cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 95%.  As hoped and expected, they come out clean and I move on.With the cleaning complete, I turn my attention to the rim’s condition.  The cleaning did a great job removing the grime and lava over the rim, but the discoloration and skins and nicks on the edge of the rim remain.  I take a couple close-ups picturing both sides of the rim and nicking is evident.To address the rim condition, I bring out the chopping board and put 240 grade paper on it to serve as a topping board.  I top the stummel very lightly – just enough to clean the rim and allow me to erase the rim edge nicks with a simple, inconsequential beveling.After a few rotations on the board I take a picture.After a few more rotations, I’m satisfied with the 240 topping.  On the lower right of the rim you can see the remaining rim edge issues that I’ll rectify with a gentle beveling or sanding.To smooth the rim further, I exchange the 240 paper for 600 grade paper and go a few more rotations.Next, I introduce outer and inner edge bevels to erase the remaining damage and to give the Chimney’s top a smoother softer appearance.  I use 240 grade then 600 grade papers rolled to do the beveling.  I think it looks great.With the rim repair completed, I take the stummel through the full regimen of 9 micromesh pads.  First, I wet sand using pads 1500 to 2400 then dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  I take a picture between each set of 3 pads to mark the change in the briar.  It amazes me how the grain emerges.  This BBB Classic’s grain is striking.  As I track the grain around the bowls, the horizontal grain gradually transitions to bird’s eye grain as the stummel position pivots.  There are no fills in the stummel that I can see – a beautifully crafted block of briar! Before returning to the stem to catch it up with the stummel, I’m anxious to apply Before & After Restoration Balm to this BBB Classic Chimney stummel.  I place some Balm on my fingers, and I work it into the briar thoroughly.  The Balm starts with a cream-like consistency but then thickens into more of a wax-like consistency.  I like the Balm because it seems to draw out the deeper tones of the briar – nothing earth shattering, but the subtle enhancement of the natural briar grain is what I like most.  After applying the Balm, I put the stummel aside for about 20 minutes before wiping off the excess and then buffing it up with a micromesh cloth.  The picture shows the Balm at work.Next, I turn back to the BBB saddle stem.  The tooth chatter is minimal, but the button has some compressions.  The skin of the stem is rough as well.I begin by refreshing the button lips using a flat needle file.  I also work on the bit with 240 grade paper sanding out the imperfections. The slot is also a bit out of shape.  I use a sharp needle file to file the edges to balance the slot.While sanding, I see a pit on the edge of the stem that I didn’t see before.  I try sanding it out, but soon realize is too deep.  I remedy the situation quickly using a spot-drop of regular CA glue on the pit after cleaning it with a cotton pad and alcohol.  I use an accelerator to quicken the curing process and then sand it with 240 grade paper. I then wet sand the entire stem with 600 grade paper and follow by applying 000 steel wool to the whole stem.  The next step is applying the regimen of micromesh pads to the stem starting by wet sanding using pads 1500 to 2400.  This is followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads a coat of Obsidian Oil is applied to further enrich and condition the vulcanite.  The freshly sanded pop of the vulcanite contrasted with the embedded BBB Rondel is great!  While trying to reunite the stem and the stummel before applying Blue Diamond compound, it becomes evident that the cleaning of the stummel has expanded the briar making the fit of the tenon in the mortise a bit too tight and forcing the issue could easily result in a cracked shank!  Nothing desired at this point.  To remedy this, utilizing a combination of filing the mortise with a half-circle needle file and sanding the tenon down by wrapping a piece of 240 grade paper around the tenon and rotating the paper does the trick.  The combination approach now allows the tenon fit to be snug but not too tight.With the BBB Classic stem and stummel reunited, after mounting a cotton cloth buffing wheel onto the Dremel, and setting the speed at about 40% full power, Blue Diamond compound is applied to the stem and stummel.After the application of Blue Diamond compound, I wipe the pipe with a felt cloth to remove the compound dust in preparation of applying the wax.  Then, after mounting another cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel, and maintaining the speed at 40%, carnauba wax is applied to the stem and stummel.  The restoration is finished with a hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine.

I’m very pleased with results.  This BBB Classic London, England Chimney is a beautiful pipe.  The block of briar is exquisite, with no fills and a landscape of grain transformation as you track it around the bowl.  There is a striking tight patch of bird’s eye grain on the right flank of the bowl that holds the eyes.  As a 1950s/60s vintage BBB, even though the ‘Classic’ line could not be fully identified, there is little doubt as to the quality of this BBB Classic Chimney.  Paresh commissioned this pipe which benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited and he will have the first opportunity to adopt this BBB from ThePipeSteward Store and bring it home.  Thanks for joining me!