Tag Archives: buffing

Banding and Restoring a Radford Ravel Rhodesian


Blog by Steve Laug

I am working on the second pipe I chose to work on in the lot of nine pipes I am restoring for the pipe smoker who dropped by a box of pipes that badly needed attention. This one was stamped Radford Ravel and had a mixed finish of smooth top and sandblasted shank and bottom part of the bowl. It is a Rhodesian and the cap is smooth and the rest is sandblast. It was finished in a dark brown stain. The finish was very dirty and there were quite a few sandpits and nicks in the smooth portion of the bowl cap. The shank was crack on the lower right side and extended from the shank end up the shank about a ¼ inch. The stem was a replacement and had a brass washer on the tenon and glued against the shank. When the new stem was made the maker put a space on the tenon to add colour to the stem. I figure that the new stem is what cracked the shank. When I received the pipe the stem did not fit tightly. There were tooth marks, tooth chatter and a lot of oxidation on the stem. There was also a bead of glue around the washer on the tenon.

There was something about the brand on the pipe that rang a bell for me. I have a tin of their Sunday’s Fantasy Tobacco in my cellar and I wondered if they might have made pipes as well.

I did a bit of digging and found the picture on the left that showed some of the tobaccos made by the company and also a great figurine with the name Thomas Radford mild premium pipe tobacco on the base. On Pipedia I found that Radford’s Private Label Pipes were crafted by Chacom for the Pöschl Tabak GmbH & Co. in Germany. This information was from “Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks”, by José Manuel Lopes. The pipes were mass produced with ebonite and acrylic stems and were introduced by Butz-Choquin, Chacom, and Nording. On the stem there is generally an embossed logo that was a stylized R. The pipes were made to use 9mm filters and are moderately priced and very attractive. The following three links were the sources I used for this information.

https://pipedia.org/wiki/Radford%27s

http://www.poeschl-tobacco.com/en/products/

http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-r1.html

I also looked on another website and got a little more information on the brand. The Radford’s pipe appears in 6 models in 3 variations 1x time a year in autumn. The so called Radford’s Depot contains a minimum of 1 dozen pipes of the actual running collection. Connected to the depot is a listing of the depot holder in Radford’s News.

This particular brand RADFORD’S SERIE RAVEL was a series of 6 elegant models within Radford’s Collection. They are made from good briar wood, sandblast, black/brown with a polished head’s border in dark-red shade. Very nice rich-in-contrast ring at the shaft’s finish. Mouthpiece from Acryl for 9 mm filter. http://cigar.supersmokers.biz/radfords/

With all of this information I now knew that the pipe was originally made for a 9mm filter. The mortise was drilled deep in the shank to contain the 9mm filter. The replacement stem was a regular push stem without a filter tenon. I took some photos of the pipe before I started working on it. The finish was in really rough shape. You can see the glue and sticky material on the stem near the shank band. I took a photo of the inside of the shank to show the thick tars that had built up on the walls of the shank. The space in the mortise between the end of the tenon and the extra depth for the end of the original filters was filled with tar and oils. It was thick and sticky.I took a close up photo of the bowl to show the thick cake that lined the walls of the tapered bowl. The photo also shows the damage to the front of the bowl where the pipe had been tapped out against a hard surface. The second photo below shows the crack on the right underside of the shank. It appeared to me from the smooth area and the look of the stain that someone had tried to glue the crack and do a repair but it was not done well.The next two photos show the damage to the stem. The calcium build up on the button end of the stem, the oxidation and glue that is globbed on the stem to hold the washer in place on the tenon and the deep tooth marks on both sides near the button show in the photos.I scrubbed down the surface of the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to remove the damaged finish and the grime and oils in the grooves and crevices of the sandblast. I wanted the surface clean so that I could drill a hole to stop the crack before binding it together with glue and a nickel band on the shank. I drilled two pin holes at the end of the shank with a microdrill bit on a Dremel. The first one was slightly short of the end of the crack so I had to drill a second one.I heated the band to make the fit easier on the shank. I painted the shank end with some slow drying super glue and pressed the band in place against the topping board.I scrubbed the bowl with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove that last of the dust. I took pictures of the bowl with the new bling addition. I reamed the bowl with the PipNet reamer to take back the cake to the bare walls of the bowl. I finished the reaming using a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to scrape the inside of the bowl smooth. I rolled some 180 grit sandpaper around the end of my finger and sanded the walls of the bowl smooth.To remove the damage to the top of the bowl and to clean up the rough front edge of the bowl cap I lightly topped it on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper.With the bowl exterior cleaned and the damaged rim top repaired I worked on the inside of the mortise and the airway from the mortise end into the bowl. I used the drill bit that is in the handle of the KleenReem pipe reamer to ream out the airway into the bowl. I turned the bit into the bowl using the knurled end to press it through. I cleaned off the drill bit and used the dental spatula to scrape the walls of the mortise all the way to the end where the airway entered the bowl. The amount of grit and oils that came out with the scraping was phenomenal.I wiped the bowl cap down with alcohol and filled in the sandpits around the outer walls of the cap with clear super glue.I cleaned out the shank and mortise once again with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners until I had removed all of the loose debris left in the shank.I sanded the repaired patches on the cap with 220 grit sandpaper until the repairs were blended into the surface of the briar. I used a black Sharpie Pen to darken the spots and then wiped the bowl and cap down with alcohol to blend in the black. I scraped the area around the washer and the tenon with a sharp knife and funneled the end of the tenon to facilitate better airflow in the stem. I cleaned out the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners, alcohol and cotton swabs.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the stem surface and wiped the tooth marks down with alcohol. I filled in the tooth marks with black super glue and set the stem aside to let the glue cure.I stuffed a cotton ball into the bowl and rolled a cotton pad into the shank. I set the pipe in an ice cube tray and used an ear syringe to fill the bowl with alcohol and let it sit during the day. I left it sitting all day while I worked on the slot in the stem. At the end of the day the cotton had yellowed the cotton and the alcohol had pulled out tar and oil from the bowl walls.I used needle files to open up the slot in the button. I used a flat, flattened oval and regular oval file to open the slot. I folded a piece of sandpaper and sanded out the inside of the newly opened slot. After sanding it the slot was open enough to easily take a pipe cleaner. By this time the alcohol/cotton ball soak in the bowl was finished. I pulled the cotton balls out of the bowl and the pad out of the shank and threw them away. I cleaned out the shank and airway once again with cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. Once it was clean I stained the bowl with dark brown aniline stain cut 50/50 with alcohol. I flamed the stain to set it in the grain. I repeated the process until the coverage was what I was looking for.I rubbed bowl down with olive oil on a cloth and hand buffed the bowl with a rough cotton cloth. I took some photos of the new look of this old Radford Ravel pipe. The bowl is starting to look really good and shows some promise. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratches and raise a shine on the vulcanite. I removed the brass washer on the stem and polished it with sandpaper. I reglued it onto the tenon with super glue. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit pads and rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. There were still scratches and also some oxidation. I repeated the sanding with those pads and then moved on to dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed it down with the oil after each set of three pads. After the final pad I gave it a final coat of the oil and set it aside to dry. I buffed the stem with Red Tripoli to try to remove the remaining oxidation and then buffed the entire pipe and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I polished the metal band with a jeweler’s polishing cloth. I gave the stem and bowl multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine on the briar. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It has come a long way from the way it looked when I received it to work on. I really like the looks and the shape of the pipe. I have now finished two of pipes that the pipe smoker dropped off for me to restore before he left on holiday. I look forward to seeing what he thinks of his pipes.

Breathing Life into a Preben Holm Zodiac Taurus 12 with an under-slung shank


Blog by Steve Laug

Over the years, since I took up the pipe I have been drawn to pipes made by Preben Holm. He was a Danish pipe maker who made freehand pipes under his own label and under the label, Ben Wade for the US market. He shapes the pipes to follow the grain and flow with it. He made both smooth and sandblast pipes that have a variety of shapes and sizes in the freehand style. He also made smaller classic pipes that always were interesting. There seems to be a certain look about them always gets my attention. I rarely buy them unless it stands out to me and calls me. The first good pipe I purchased is a good example of this. It was a stunning, (at least to my novice eyes) Preben Holm, Ben Wade, sandblast freehand. The pipe shop owner helped me choose it from his estate pipes. I went into the shop near where I worked at that time in Vista, California. He handed it to me, and to me it was a very clean estate pipe. I was in the market for something other than my Medico billiard, which was the only pipe I had at that time. I still smoke the pipe and enjoy it. It is close to 50 years old and it is still going strong.I have since added two more Preben Holm pipes to my rack but they are classic shapes with a twist. Both pipes are what I call a “Dublinish” shape and long shanks and a freehand style mouthpiece. They have rounded edges on the square shank and the rim top. There is no raw plateau on either pipe. The finishes show the same care as all of Preben’s pipes that I have seen or worked on. It has a rich multi-hued brown and dark brown finish that makes the grain really stand out. I traded for both of these in lieu of payment for some restoration work I did for a fellow in Northern British Columbia.To my thinking, Preben Holm was a wizard with shapes and finishes. The sandblast on my freehand maximizes the grain while the plateau on the rim and shank end add another dimension to the look. On the two newer trade pipes I have, the rich brown finish has almost a matte look that I really like. The way in which they are stained also give a deep multi-dimensional look to the grain that is stunning. I keep an eye out for his pipes and regularly cruise eBay looking for shapes that catch my eye.

All of that is background to why I was interested when my brother sent me photos of a pipe he had found on eBay listed as a Zodiac. He wanted to know what I thought of it and if I knew who made it. There was something about the look of the pipe grabbed my attention and I encouraged him to bid on it. There were no takers for the pipe so he soon had it in hand. The shape and the design made me think that it might be a Preben Holm made pipe but I was not sure. The underslung shank, the shape of the stem and the look of the finish under the grime led me that conclusion.
I was flying to Idaho for a visit so I knew that I would see it when I arrived and that would help me affirm my conclusions. In the meantime, I did some research on the brand on the web and found a link to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Zodiac) that confirmed that Zodiac pipes were a brand made by Preben Holm. From research on the web I found that the Zodiac line had pipes made that were stamped with different Zodiac names. I found pipes stamped Libra, Taurus and Gemini. I am sure that there were others in the line either made or in design. What was interesting is that the entry did not have much information about the brand other than that the pipe was stamped Copenhagen, Denmark. However, to me the fascinating thing was that there were two photos of the pipe included that were a match to the pipe I am working on.

The next series of photos show what the pipe looked like when it arrived in Idaho. The finish was dirty and worn but there were no serious issues. There was no top coat of varnish or shellac on top of the finish so that was a plus. (I find that some eBay sellers feel it necessary to make the pipes that they sell shiny before they sell them.)My brother took close up photos of the bowl sides and bottom to show the overall condition of the briar and the finish before he began his clean up job. In the photo of the bottom of the bowl you can see what looks like a crescent shaped flaw toward the front of the bowl. I have circled it in red for identification. It had not been filled but was left open and had collected grit and dirt. The next photo shows the stamping on the underside of the shank. It is sharp and reads Zodiac Taurus over Copenhagen Denmark with the shape number 12 underneath.The rim had some tars and lava overflow from the cake in the bowl. There was a light cake that looked like it was a bit crumbly. The inner edge of the rim showed nicks and damage from having been reamed with a knife. The stem was oxidized and had tooth dents and tooth chatter. The fit against the left side of the shank was slightly damaged. The button was dented and worn down on both the top and bottom sides and the slot was filled with debris.My brother did his usual great clean up job on the pipe. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and took the cake back to bare briar. He scrubbed the internals of the mortise and airways in the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they were clean. He scrubbed the surface of the briar with Murphy’s Oil Soap and was able to remove all of the grime and grit on the surface. I took some photos of the pipe when it arrived. He had been able to remove a lot of the buildup on the rim top. There was still some darkening to the rim top. You can see the damage to the inside edge of the rim. The outer edge also had some damage from what appeared to have been an habitual knocking out dottle on hard surfaces. The bowl was pretty clean but there appeared to be some hardened cake on the bottom of the bowl around the airway. I topped the bowl on the topping board using 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage on both edges of the rim. I topped off enough of the rim to leave the top flat and smooth and minimized the damage on both the inside and outside edges.Once the bowl was topped I used a folded piece of sandpaper to bevel the inner edge of the rim. I wanted to bevel it to smooth out the nicks and cuts on the inner edge of the bowl. I sanded out the inside of the bowl with a piece of 180 grit sandpaper on a piece of dowel to smooth out the bits of cake that remained in the bowl. The pictures below show the process and the resultant bowl top and rim edges. The sides of the bowl are also cleaner. I sanded the rim top with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches in the briar. I sanded the bowl surface with the sanding block to remove as many scratches as possible. I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the sanding dust. I cleaned out the pit on the bottom of the bowl with alcohol and cotton swabs. Once it was clean I pressed in some briar dust and then dribbled super glue into the repaired area. I added more dust to even out the surface and let it dry. I sanded the repair with 220 grit sandpaper to flatten out the repaired area and blend it into the rest of the surface of the briar.I wiped the bowl down with alcohol a final time and cleaned out the interior of the shank to remove the dust that had collected from sanding the bowl and repair. I gave the bowl a light coat of olive oil so that I could see the scratches when I sanded it with micromesh sanding pads.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiped it down with a cloth dampened with olive oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and wiped it down between the second and third set of three micromesh sanding pads. I buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and then gave it several coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad and hand buffed it with a shoe brush and a microfiber cloth. I took some photos of the bowl at this point in the process and then set it aside while I worked on the stem. The oxidation was brought to the surface of the stem by the cleaning it with a soft scrub cleanser. I started cleaning the oxidation off with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and warm water. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the surface oxidation. I reshaped the button with needle files and the sandpaper. I sanded out the tooth marks and dents in the surface of the stem. The first two photos show the condition of the stem when I started.The next photo shows it after the initial sanding and scrub with the Magic Eraser. You can still see spots on the black vulcanite but it is pretty clean.  I ran a pipe cleaner through the airway and worked it around the button to clean out any remaining debris. It was pretty clean. (I was on a roll and forgot to take photos of it right after sanding it with the 220 grit sandpaper and reshaping the button.)I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-15000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads and after the final pad gave it a last coat of the oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the pipe and buffed the stem with Blue Diamond. I gave the bowl and stem several more coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth and took the following photos of the pipe. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a beautiful example of Preben’s workmanship. The finish may have originally been a light brown stain but I am pretty sure that it was a natural/virgin finish using no stain. This may be one that joins the other ones in my collection of Preben Holm pipes. Thanks for journeying with me in the restoration process.

A Desirable REJECT London Made


Blog by Dal Stanton

When I came across this classic half bent billiard while I was trolling through 100s of offerings on eBay’s auction block, I paused. The first thing that claimed my attention was its size. If there was ever a ‘meat lovers sized’ pipe, to use the American burger sound bite, this would be it. The UK seller simply described it as a ‘superb large bowl’. When the pipe arrived, I measured it and it is: length 6 5/16 inches, height 2 3/8 inches, chamber diameter 7/8 inches, chamber depth 1 13/16 inches, and the full stummel width is 1 3/4 inches – 68 grams for those who weigh pipes. A fist-full of stummel! Here is the eBay picture of the Billiard.The other interesting thing about the eBay offering was its marking.  The left shank side reads “REJECT” over “LONDONMADE”.  The only lead I found for this “REJECT” stamping was in ‘Who Made That Pipe?’ by Herb Wilzak and Tom Colwell, which provided only one reference to “Reject” as belonging to the W. H. Carrington Co. started in 1891 by William Henry Carrington in Manchester, England.  This came from the brief Pipedia article which also states that after a century of operation it went out of business.  I found more information in a Pipes Magazine Forum thread  but the source of the information was not cited.

WH Carrington as an entity dates back at least to the late 1880s. It continued to exist for about a century, with liquidation notices appearing in the London Gazette in 1987. Whether or not the business remained in the family that whole time is another matter; I doubt it, but have no evidence one way or the other.

Most threads I read commenting on WHC pipes were about earlier turn of the century pipes with hallmarks – a much earlier vintage.  I came up empty finding information that would confirm that the Reject before me is indeed a WHC pipe except for Wilczak and Colwell’s reference.  With a very nice looking Reject on my work table now, I take additional pictures to fill in the gaps. The question that begs asking is what is ‘Reject’ about this pipe?  Overall, it’s in good shape.  The chamber has very mild cake build up, and the stummel surface shows some small fills and usual dents of wear.  The stem has been cleaned, it seems, very little chatter or oxidation.  I only detect two issues as I look at the Reject London Made.  First, the finish on the stummel is shiny and acrylic-like, which, to me, hides the natural briar.  It is cloudy and I’ll remove it and work on the broad landscape of this stummel real estate to bring out the briar.  I like this challenge!  The other issue is the stem – it is under-clocked and a bit catawampus.  I will heat the vulcanite and restore a good bend in alignment with the pipe.  The reason this pipe was stamped ‘Reject’ coming out of the factory is a mystery to me unless it was destined to be a higher end pipe and the briar had too many imperfections…. Only conjecture and I would appreciate anyone’s input on this.

I begin by plopping the stem in an Oxy-Clean bath even though the oxidation seems very light.  While the stem is in the bath, I use the Savinelli pipe knife to clean up the chamber walls which takes little time.  I follow by sanding the chamber wall with 240 grit paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  To clean the carbon dust residue, I wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  The pictures show the progress. I like working on a clean pipe so I work on the internals using cotton swabs and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%.  With very little effort the mortise and draft are clean.Moving to the external stummel surface, I use Murphy’s Soap undiluted with cotton pads and a bristled tooth brush to clean the grime off.  The Murphy’s Soap does a good job removing the old shiny finish.Looking closely at the surface, the dent I saw earlier I want to remove using the iron approach, that I have yet to try, but this dent looks like a good candidate.  I’ve read several other restorations where this method was used.  Using a heated clothes iron, I use a wet wash cloth and lay it over the dent area and then I apply the iron to that point.  The concept is based upon the water content of wood being heated and absorbing the water and expanding the dented area – wood is a sponge-like material when wet.  I apply the iron several times and gradually I see the severity of the dent lessening with each heat application.  I can still see the dent but it should be more easily removed using a sanding sponge. Using a medium and light grade sanding sponge I work on the stummel to remove the minor wear nicks and dents on the surface. I like a softer edge on the inner rim lip so I introduce a gentle bevel both to give it a softer look and to remove some scorched areas. I think an inner bevel adds a bit of class as well.  I first use a coarser 120 grit paper to cut the bevel then I follow with 240 grit and 600 grit paper to smooth and blend the bevel.  The pictures show the progress. I now turn to the micromesh pad cycles.  Using pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stummel followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and then 6000 to 12000.  Throughout the sanding, I’m careful to avoid the Reject markings. The grain is looking good.  The pictures show the progress. I put the stummel aside and fish the stem out of the Oxy-Clean bath.  Very little oxidation has surfaced.  I use 600 grit paper and wet sand the stem followed by sand buffing the stem with 0000 steel wool.  The pictures show the progress.Before I proceed further with the internal cleaning of the stem and the external polishing, I want to correct the bend of the stem.  With great difficulty, I am able finally to pass a smooth pipe cleaner through the stem.  The pipe cleaner helps to maintain the airway integrity while I heat and re-bend the stem. Using the heat gun to heat the stem, I turn the stem to apply the heat evenly over the stem to soften the vulcanite making it pliable.  I then straighten both the stem clock-wise to correct the under-clocking.  While still pliable I re-establish the bend over a block of wood and set the new shape under cool tap water.  The first time around, the button was still not ‘clocked’ to my satisfaction.  I reheated and made the additional adjustment and again, set the shape under cool tap water.  I reattach stem and stummel to eyeball things and the newly aligned stem bend and clocked button look good.  I take pictures to chronicle the progress with the stem. I now clean the internals of the stem using pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%.  The stem is clean but I find that even though I’ve re-bent the stem the pipe cleaners will not move through the bend of the stem.  I decide to open the slot area with a round pointed needle file moving it back and forth in the slot.  After this, I take a drill bit, smaller than the slot opening, and insert it into the airway rotating it against the edges of the airway hoping to expand the internal airway area as it enters the slot.  This seems to help yet the bend is still tight on the pipe cleaners, but they are passing through.  The stem is clean.  The pictures show the progress. Time to bring out the micromesh pads to finish the stem.  With pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stem.  I follow by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and then 6000 to 12000.  With each set of 3 I apply Obsidian Oil to the stem to revitalize the vulcanite, and I love to see the pop of the vulcanite as it moves through the micromesh cycles!  I put the stem aside to dry.  The pictures show the progress. Turning back to the stummel, I decide to apply Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye to the Reject London Made to emulate the darker hues of the original finish.  Since it is an aniline dye, I can lighten the finish to taste by wiping the stained stummel with cotton pads wetted with isopropyl.  The large stummel has a lot of briar real estate to show off with a smattering of different grains – pleasing to the eye and a handful of stummel to boot!  I just acquired Fiebing’s Black Leather Dye and I decide to experiment.  I will add a touch of it to the dark brown to create the blend.  The first snag I run into is that this is the largest stummel I’ve worked on and my usual corks that I use to prop the stummel on the candle stick during the staining process were too small.  I rummaged through our cork supply and found only one large enough.  I warm the stummel to expand the briar enabling the dye to absorb better into the grain.  I apply the dye liberally over the surface with a pipe cleaner folded over.  Then I fire the wet dye and the alcohol content burns off setting the stain.  I repeat the process again to assure total coverage and set the stummel aside to rest.   After several hours, I ‘unwrap’ the fired stummel using the Dremel mounted with a felt buffing wheel.  With the Dremel at its slowest speed, I move methodically over the stummel applying Tripoli compound to remove the crusted fired surface.  I don’t apply too much downward pressure on the briar but I allow the RPMs and the compound to do the work for me.  After completed, I use cotton pads wetted with alcohol to wipe down the stummel to lighten the stained finish and to blend the dye.  After this, I mount a cotton cloth wheel on the Dremel and apply Blue Diamond compound and methodically work the wheel over the entire surface.  After completed, I again wipe the stummel with cotton pads wetted with isopropyl 95%.  I follow this by doing another quick tour over the stummel with the Blue Diamond.  The use of black dye with the dark brown has the effect of darkening the grain which I’m liking as I see the grain surfacing through the compound cycles.   The pictures show the progress.To remove the compound dust, I hand buff the stummel with a flannel cloth.  After mounting the Dremel with a cotton cloth wheel and increasing the speed to 2, one notch over the slowest, I apply several coats of carnauba wax to the stummel and reattached stem.  I follow this with a rigorous hand buffing with a micromesh cloth.  When I experimented by adding black dye to the dark brown I didn’t anticipate the unique hue that would result.  The briar grain veins seem to have latched on to the black and the lighter grains came out with a golden/copper kettle blend that is striking – very interesting and attractive.  If this REJECT – LONDON MADE is a product of the W. H. Carrington Co., I cannot say why it received this factory stamp.  For those who like huge pipes that fill the hand, this big boy, bent billiard fits the bill and needs a new steward!  All the profits of pipes I sell help the Daughters of Bulgaria, an organization we work with that helps women and children who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  If you’re interested in this REJECT, hop over to my blog site, The Pipe Steward.  Thanks for joining me!

 

 

Comoy’s Royal Falcon Bent Bulldog


Blog by Dal Stanton

The eBay seller from UK gave a decent, though brief, accounting of the origins of Comoy from Saint-Claude, France, and started in the 1820s by Francois Comoy.  His son, Henri, started the London extension of the Comoy name in 1879 with not much more than the tools of his trade – making pipes.  He is cited by Pipedia as being the author of the appellation, “London Made”.  In 1929 the company merged with the macro-concern, Oppenheimer Pipes.  With this, albeit brief history, Pipedia’s describes the present summation:

Comoy’s remained a family owned company until it was finally taken over by Cadogan Investments during the early 1980’s. Cadogan have continued to manufacture Comoy pipes to the present day and, under Michael Adler, the Comoy brand is their flagship and efforts are being made to once more re-instate the well known quality of the brand.

The half-bent Bulldog I rescued from my “Help Me!” basket is marked on the left shank, “Royal” over “Falcon” (curved).  The right shank is marked, “Made In London” (circled) over “England”.  The eBay seller’s listing indicated there was a shape number “13” which I cannot see.  The stem is stamped with the image of a falcon perched on a branch.  Here are the pictures of the Royal Falcon on my worktable: A quick trip to the Pipe Phil site confirms that Royal Falcon appears to be a prominent second of Comoy’s showing an example of the interesting stem stamping of a falcon perched on a branch – much busier than most stamps.

What drew me to bid on this Bulldog was the stem.  Within the Bulldog classification, is seems that most Bulldogs sport straight saddle stems, where the diamond shaped shank culminates in the saddle and the stem is then flat from the saddle to the button.  Rarer still, it seems are the bent Bulldogs which most often are fitted with a saddle stem as above.  Most rare, it seems is what I see now with this Comoy’s Royal Falcon – a half-bent stem that carries the characteristic diamond shaped shank into the stem and then gradually tapers out along the stem – giving the impression that the stem is much longer than perhaps it is with the bow of the diamond shaped shank/stem.  The tapered diamond stem is very nice and will look nice restored with the Falcon perched on his branch!  The chamber as a lite cake residue which I will remove down to the briar for a fresh start.  The rim has hardened crusted lava needing attention.  The front upper dome of the stummel has a nice dent along with several dents and cuts marking both sides of curved part of the stummel transitioning into the diamond shaped shank – an obvious result of the natural placement of the Bulldog on the table or counter.  There are several fills that have lightened and are showing through the old clouded finish.  The stem is heavily oxidized with moderate teeth chatter on the upper and lower bit.  The first thing I do to restore and recommission the Royal Falcon Bulldog is to place the stem in an Oxi-Clean bath after putting petroleum jelly over the falcon stamp.With the paper towel, down to catch the carbon dust and fragments, I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit to ream the chamber.  I use only the smallest blade in the Bulldog chamber and remove the lion-share of carbon.  I follow the reaming blade using the Savinelli Pipe Knife to scrape the chamber wall and remove more carbon. Using a piece of 240 grit paper I fold it over a Sharpie Pen and sand the chamber wall and finish by wiping the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  The chamber looks good.  The pictures show the progress. Turning directly to the internals of the stummel, using cotton swabs and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95%, I work on cleaning the stummel.  I also utilize a spade dental tool to scrape the mortise walls to stir up the old tars and oils.  There was a good bit of gunk, but the swabs and pipe cleaners started coming clean.  Later I’ll use a salt and alcohol soak to clean further.Now, I clean the external surface of the stummel using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a cotton pad and bristled tooth brush I work on the crusted rim as well as the grime on the stummel surface.  Using a tooth pick I scape the grooves circling the stummel. The crust on the rim is not moving so I use a brass bristled brush which removes most of the hard lava crust, but not all.  Using my pin knife, I carefully scrape the rim removing the last crusted carbon holdouts.  After cleaning, I then rinse the stummel in warm tap water to rinse off the grime.  The Murphy’s Soap well removed the thin finish and I’m looking a bare briar for the most part.  Doing a quick inspection of the surface, there are several cuts and some fills in the briar surface.  The pictures show the progress and the inspection. I use a medium grade sanding sponge to sand out the nicks and cuts.  I focus especially on the ‘keel’ of the Bulldog where most thumps and bumps occurred.  On some deeper cuts, I strategically use a rolled piece of 240 grit paper where more abrasion was needed. I also give the rim a ‘semi-topping’ with the firmer coarser sponge.  I follow by sanding with a lite grade sanding sponge to smooth more.  The inner ring of the rim has a bevel and it is darkened.  Using a piece of 120 grit paper I clear out the damaged briar and reestablish a crisp inner bevel.  I follow this with 240 grit paper and finish with sanding sponges.  The pictures show the progress.I put the stummel aside and pluck the stem out of the Oxi-Clean bath.  I start by wet sanding with 600 grit paper to work on the raised oxidation but soon switch to 240 grit paper.  The oxidation is stiff.  I’m careful to avoid abrasion on the Falcon stem stamping.  I’m hopeful that there is enough definition left in the stamping to restore it later with white acrylic paint.  After using 240 grit paper, I then wet sand 600 grit paper then 0000 steel wool.  The oxidation is left over the falcon stamping and I hope that Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser will help remove the oxidation without damage to the stem stamp.  I think it helped, but there is still discoloration over the area but the stamping is still intact.  The pictures show the progress dealing with the oxidation. Before I forget it, I now turn to the stem internals cleaning it with pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%.  Without too much resistance, the pipe cleaner come through clean without too much effort.Moving ahead straight away with the stem, I use micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 and wet sand the stem.  Following this I dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000.  Following each set of 3 I apply Obsidian Oil to the stem to revitalize the vulcanite.  With the last cycle, I set the stem aside to dry.  The pictures show the progress. With the stem completed except for the final polishing phase and repainting the Falcon stem marking, I turn to the stummel using micromesh pads 1500 to 12000.  With the first set of three, 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stummel, then with the following sets, 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000 I dry sand.  Throughout, I avoided the markings on the shank panels. The pictures show the progress. With the original color leaning toward the darker brown side, I will use Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye and then lighten as I see need using a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.   To prepare the stummel, I use a sharp dental probe to trace the twin grooves to remove any leftover briar dust from the sanding.  Then I wipe the stummel with a cotton pad and isopropyl to clean away any dust. Placing my ‘stain board’ down on my work station I put a cork in the shank to act as a handle and then heat up the stummel with a heat gun.  This expands the briar and allows for a better absorption of the dye.  I use a folded over pipe cleaner to apply the dye liberally over the surface.  I fire the aniline dye and the alcohol burns off immediately, setting the hue in the briar.  To make sure the coverage is complete, I repeat the process above including the firing of the dye.  I then set the stummel aside to rest.  The pictures show the fire crusted stummel. With the stummel on the sidelines a while, I look at the falcon stem marking.  Pipe Phil’s example shows a lot of lines and contours shaping the bird and his perch.  I’m not sure my falcon has that much detail left after wear and sanding over the years.  After a closer look, it appears that the imprinted falcons are slightly different – my falcon appears that he’s looking up more than the other.  For comparison, I’ve placed the two together below.  I’ll see what I can do with white acrylic paint. The first approach was to apply paint and then, before drying, to carefully wipe it away, leaving paint in the grooves.  This did not work – seems like there was not enough groove to hold the paint.  Next, I applied more paint and let it dry. That did not work either.  I’m not sure if this is usually done in pipe restorations, but the problem is that the lines of the falcon stamping are too thin and will not hold the acrylic paint.  I decide to take the point of my pocket knife and attempt to sculpt the lines that are there to deepen them.  It took several iterations of sculpting, then applying paint, drying and scraping off with a toothpick, before I arrive at the best I can do at this point!  The pictures show some of the process. With the falcon stem marking completed, it’s time to ‘unwrap’ the fire crusted stummel.  I use Tripoli compound with a felt buffing wheel mounted on the Dremel and use the slowest speed available and rotate the wheel over the surface, without too much down pressure on the briar, but allowing the RPMs of the Dremel and the compound to do the work.  I take a picture into this process.  When completed with the Tripoli, I use a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to wipe down the stummel to lighten the dark brown dye as well as to blend the dye.  When satisfied (forgot to take a picture!) with the shade, next I mount a cotton cloth wheel and turn the speed up half a notch, to 1.5 and apply Blue Diamond compound in the same manner as with Tripoli.  After the Blue Diamond I give the stummel a good buffing with a flannel cloth to remove the compound dust from the stummel before application of the wax.  After joining stem and stummel, I then mount a cotton cloth wheel on the Dremel and apply carnauba wax to the stummel.  I give the stummel 3 coats of carnauba and then finish by giving the stummel and stem a hand-buff with a micromesh cloth.I’m very pleased with the results.  The Comoy’s Royal Falcon is an attractive Bent Bulldog.  I like the lines of the diamond shank flowing into the tapered stem.  The Royal Falcon looks good re-perched on his branch.  The briar grain is rich and deep.  I sell my restorations with the profits helping the work we do with the Daughters of Bulgaria – those sexually exploited and trafficked.  This Bulldog is ready to serve a new steward.  If you’re interested in adopting him and helping the Daughters, check out The Pipe Steward Store.  Thanks for joining me!

‘Gramps’ – A Redonian Deluxe London Made 26 Rescued


Blog by Dal Stanton

I know exactly where I was when Charles Lemon, of Dad’s Pipes, posted his blog Family Heirloom Comes in from the Cold on December 22.  I was dutifully, pushing the shopping cart at the Target in Golden, Colorado, while my wife and I were engaged in last-minute Christmas shopping.  Well, my wife was shopping and I was catching up on pipe blog reading with my iPhone 6s.  The story Charles told was of a pipe (without a stem) discovered on a stroll in a pasture, how it arrived there was a mystery, which, after some research looking at old photos, was determined to belong to a great-great uncle.  The restoration was to be a Christmas gift for the great-great nephew, the pipe finder’s step-father….  It was an excellent restoration on Charles’ part, but the story itself, the condition of the pipe, the fact that it was found after how many years – contributed to one of the core reasons I love restoring pipes.  As I read Charles’ heart-warming story, I found myself rooting for the pipe to make it and to again be restored to the lineage of the steward.  While I continued faithfully to keep pace with the shopping cart, dodging frantic shoppers and kids on too much sugar and reading Charles’s post, ‘Gramps’ came to mind.  The first time I saw the pictures of ‘Gramps’ and read the eBay seller’s comments, I determined to place my bid to rescue the old, worn out, tossed aside, pipe.  Why did I immediately name him ‘Gramps’?  Here is what the eBay seller said:

Vary rare REDONIAN Pipe.  Found at the Estate Auction of a 98-year-old man.  (Who said smoking will kill ya?…no way). So the pipe has some ware marks up by the mouth piece, see pictures.  Pipe is marked bowl piece is marked 26 on one side and SARDINIAN de Luxe Made in London on the other.  It is a used pipe.  Ready to be Enjoyed, Gifted or Resold…ENJOY!  

With a smile on my face while looking at Gramps’ pictures, notwithstanding the ‘mild’ exaggeration of the seller’s sales bravado, “Ready to be Enjoyed, Gifted or Resold…ENJOY!”, this is what I saw:red1 red2 red3I have no idea if I can bring Gramps to drink of the Fountain of Youth or not, but I’m now looking at him on my worktable here in Sofia, Bulgaria.  The markings on the left shank are Redonian Deluxe over London Made.  The right side of the shank bears the mark, 26, which I assume is the shape number.  Surprisingly, the stem stamping is legible – a red ‘R’ ensconced in a circle.  A look at Pipedia and I discover that the Redonian was made by the John Redman Ltd./British Empire Pipe Co. in London, the same company that was a possible manufacturer of the L. J. Perretti I restored not long ago – the Perretti Co. is based in Boston and the second oldest Tobacconist in the United States.  According to the Pipedia article, John Redman Co. pipe lines, along with Redonian, include Aristocrat, Buckingham, Buckingham Palace, Canberra, Captain Fortune, Dr John, Golden Square, Richmond (not Sasieni),  and Twin Bore.   I take some additional pictures of ‘Gramps’ for a fresh look.red4 red5 red6 red7 red8 red9Like Charles’ patient, this pipe looks to have been left outside or exposed in a barn or something, as half of it seems to be colored differently – laying on its side for some time.  The stem has the heaviest oxidation I’ve seen to date – perhaps something else is going on – it appears to be leprous!  The surface is so soiled and the cake so thick – there appears to be a spider web in the fire chamber – I really can’t determine the condition of either the stummel or stem, so after taking some pictures from my work table, I plop the stem in Oxi-Clean to start dealing with the stem leprosy and I plop the stummel along with spider web, in an alcohol bath – isopropyl 95% to soften the ages of crud clinging to the stummel – inside and out.red10About 24 hours later, I retrieve the stem from the Oxi-Clean bath and the oxidation was raised to the vulcanite surface as hoped and expected.  I first attack the oxidation by wet standing the stem with 600 grit sanding paper.  I’m very careful to stay clear of the Redonian ‘R’ stamping and work around it.  I sand for quite some time.  After making some progress, I switch to using 0000 steel wool to take off more oxidation and smooth in the process.  Again, I’m steering clear of the ‘R’ stamping.  I wish I would have taken a picture at this point.  The stem is looking much improved except for the circle ‘R’ stamping – still encased in thick oxidation.  I know that taking anything abrasive to the stamping will erode it and for me, this is anathema.  I try another tack – I think I remember reading somewhere about using Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  I brought it to Bulgaria from the US and hadn’t used it yet.  The sponge that emerges from the box would not be abrasive – I hope.  So, I wet the sponge and start working on the area of the stamping. I start very cautiously and gingerly apply pressure with the sponge Magic Eraser.  When I discover that it is not eating away at the stamping I apply more pressure.  Before long I was working on the area aggressively.  Very gradually, and without perceptible damage to the ‘R’, the oxidation disappeared – or at least, in very large measure.  The last picture in the set below shows the magic brought by the Magic Eraser! I’m pleased with the progress cleaning up a once, leprous stem!red11 red12Satisfied with the progress on the stem, I fish the stummel out of the alcohol bath.  I use several pipe cleaners attempting to open the airway between the mortise and draft hole – unsuccessfully.  I then use about a 6-inch length of hanger wire as a probe and to ream the airway gently.  After a while, I finally push through the ancient muck and reconnect the mortise and bowl.  After this, I put the stummel back in the alcohol bath to soak further after stirring up and opening the internals.red13 red14 red15Out of the bath again, I take Q-tip cotton swabs and pipe cleaners and clean the gunk out of the mortise and draft airway while it is still loosened.  It’s cleaning up well, but I need to ream the bowl to remove the softened cake and the old residues.  I want Gramps to have a new start down to the fresh briar.  I use the Pipnet reaming kit using the two smaller blades of the four available.  The cake comes easily.  I fine tune the reaming more using the Savinelli pipe knife.  I then take 240 grit sanding paper, wrapped around a Sharpie Pen and sand the chamber walls to remove the remaining carbon.  I finish by cleaning the bowl using cotton pads wetted with isopropyl 95%.  The fire chamber looks good – no problems, no burn throughs detected visually. The pictures mark the progress.red16 red17 red18With the bowl reamed and cleaned, I now turn to the stummel externals.  I take another critical look at the stummel surface and lava flow on the rim and take a few pictures to show the condition of the briar before I use Murphy’s Oil Soap.  I want to mark the progress moving from the desperate condition in which the Redonian Deluxe started.  I use undiluted Murphy’s Soap and scrub the rim and stummel surface with cotton pads. I also use a bristled tooth brush to scrub the surface.  After cleaning, I rinse the stummel with warm tap water careful not to allow water into the stummel internals.  The rim cleans nicely and it looks good.  Looking at the briar surface, not surprising I detect several pits which need to be either sanded or filled.  What is emerging from underneath the gunk, grime and grunge is a piece of briar holding much potential to shine with the gradual appearance of some nice-looking grain.  With my work day ending, I decide to apply olive oil to the stummel to hydrate the very dry wood – letting it absorb the oil through the night. The pictures show the progress.red19 red20 red22 red23The next morning, I decide to further clean and purify the stummel using the salt/alcohol soak.  I fill the bowl with Kosher Salt and cover the opening with my palm and shake the stummel to distribute the salt.  I then place the stummel in an egg carton to give stability, and fill the stummel with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt.  I then cork the mortise and let it sit and do its thing – letting the salt absorb the crud.  I then turn to the stem.  I clean the stem internals using pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol.  Using a sharp dental probe, I dig gunk out of the slot to clean it.  It takes a while to work a pipe cleaner all the way through the stem.  Once I do accomplish this, I use a bristled pipe cleaner with alcohol to run it back and forth several times to clear and clean the airway – hopefully allowing a pipe cleaner easier passage.red24 red25After cleaning the internals of the stem, I now look at the condition of the button area.  The 98-year-old grandpa that owned the Redonian did not leave teeth marks (is that a clue to his dental condition??) but the upper and lower bits are almost flush with the stem surface. This is not good – the button edges are necessary to hang the pipe properly on the teeth so that one does not bite the stem leaving the teeth chatter and dents one must remove when restoring a pipe!  I will use charcoal/superglue putty to build up the button area.  I form a wedge made of index card and fit it into the slot of the stem to keep putty from covering the opening.  I open a capsule of activated charcoal and pour the powder on an index card.  I then put a small puddle of Hot Stuff Special ‘T’ CA glue (extra thick glue) next to the charcoal powder.  With a toothpick, I draw charcoal into the glue, mixing it as I go.  I continue to add charcoal powder until I reach a thickness like molasses.  When I reach this viscosity, I then dollop the putty around the button area – more than is needed to provide excess to sand down to the proper button proportions.  I use an accelerator to set the putty.  I then remove the wedge from the slot and put the stem aside to cure.  The pictures show the process.red26 red27 red28Several hours have passed since the stummel began its salt/alcohol soak.  The salt has darkened some, so I assume it’s done its work!  I dump the used salt from the stummel and thump it on my palm to remove lodged salt crystals.  I take a paper towel and wipe out the bowl.  Using a bristle brush, I clean the mortise to remove any salt lodged in the internals. I want to be sure all the salt is purged.  I then return to using Q-tip cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and isopropyl 95% to complete cleaning the internals.  With 2 Q-tips, the verdict is in – the Kosher Salt and alcohol soak did a great job drawing out the muck and freshening the mortise.  I complete the job by wiping the chamber with a cotton pad with isopropyl 95%.  Done.  The pictures show the result!red29With the stummel now clean, I take a close look at the stummel surface to be reminded of the question areas.  I take a few pictures to show these. The stummel is in surprisingly good condition for what it looked like when I started.  I find some pitting on the surface that I will fill with superglue.  I also detect a rim ‘skin’ on the front end of the stummel.  There are also other nicks around the rim from normal wear and tear. I start preparing the stummel surface by sanding with a medium grade sanding sponge to remove a layer off the finish – to determine where fills are needed.  After using the medium grade sanding sponge, I apply super glue to the 3 places on the stummel I detected earlier to fill the larger pits and a small crevasse and put the stummel aside for the superglue fills to cure.  The pictures show the progress.red30 red31 red32Now to return to the stem’s button rebuild.  The charcoal superglue putty has fully cured and ready for shaping.  I take pictures of the upper and lower bit to mark the progress.red33The technique I’ve developed for button shaping is to start at the end of the stem, using a flat needle file I file to establish the vertical – perpendicular slot area – that it’s flat.  This establishes a base-line for the end of the button and shaping the rest (I forgot to document this in a picture!).  I then start with the upper button area with the flat needle and begin filing from the stummel-side toward the end to establish the straight edge of the button’s ‘lip’.  I gradually file this toward the stem’s end until it appears a good depth for the upper button. I then file top of the bit’s lip to shape in further.  When I’m satisfied with the upper button shaping, I then flip the stem over doing the same with the lower button seeking to match the upper. When the basic filing is completed, I use a pointed needle file to enlarge the slot.  The pictures show the button rebuild process.red34 red35 red36To remove the roughness of the files, I then use 240 then 600 and finally 0000 steel wool to further perfect the shape and to cover the treads left by the files. Which often is the case, air pockets encased in the charcoal/superglue are exposed during the shaping and sanding process. I apply some CA glue to the button surface and paint it with a toothpick to cover the pin-sized air pocket holes and then spray an accelerator on the glue to cure it more rapidly.  After a while, I return with 240, 6000 paper and then 0000 steel wool to remove the excess CA glue on the button and complete the button rebuild.  The pictures show the completion of the button rebuild.red37 red38 red39With stem internals cleaned, and new button completed, I transition to the externals.  Using micromesh sanding pads 1500 to 2400, careful to guard the Redonian ‘R’ stamping, I wet sand the stem and follow the set by applying Obsidian Oil.  I then use micromesh pads 3200 to 4000 and after, pads 6000 to 12000 following each set with an application of Obsidian Oil.  I set Gramps aside to soak in the Obsidian Oil.   All I can do is to say, ‘Oh, my!’  Gramps is responding well to the TLC. The pictures tell the story – I can’t but help to throw in a reminder of how far we’ve come! red40 red41With a reborn stem waiting, I turn to the stummel.  The 3 pit-holes that were filled with superglue are cured.  Using 240 grit paper I sand the excess glue to the surface and blend the patches. red42 red43I take a close-up picture of the rim and inspect the rim more closely.  Along with nicks, I can see that rim lines are not sharp.  There is evidence of a bevel on the inside ring of the rim which is scorched.  I decide to mildly top the stummel and reestablish a crisp bevel. The bevel will also remove the scorching I see.  I use 240 grit paper on a chopping board and rotate the inverted stummel in an even, circular motion to remove old briar.  I stop and check things after every couple of revolutions to make sure I’m staying level.  I only take off enough to leave the former bevel more distinct.  To recut the inner bevel, I use 120 grit paper rolled very tightly to create a hard-sanding surface.  I want the bevel to be straight and uniform.  I follow the 120 using 240 grit also tightly rolled to remove the coarser lines.  The topping and bevel look good.  The bowl is in-round.red43 red44 red45After completing the rim and bevel, I take a medium grade sanding sponge and then a light grade sanding sponge and sand the stummel to blend the superglue fills – careful to work around the Redonian Deluxe London Made markings on the stummel.  Then, using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stummel, followed by dry sanding using micromesh pads 3200 to 4000 and then 6000 to 12000.  I never tire seeing the grain emerge during this process.  After I complete the micromesh cycles, I unite stummel and stem to get a look at where we are.  Gramps is looking good. The pictures show the progress – woops, I forgot to take a picture after the first micromesh cycle!red46 red47 red48I’m liking very much the progress of the Redonian Deluxe London Made – aka, Gramps.  I decide to use Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye with Gramps.  I think the rich depth of the leather dye will create the subtle expression of the straight grain hugging the bottom of the stummel as it expands into horizontal patterns and scattered bird’s eye on top.  I give the surface a quick wipe with a cotton pad to clean and remove any leftover briar dust.  I use my wife’s hair dryer to warm the stummel to expand the wood to help the grain to be more receptive to the dye.  I use a cork in the shank as a handle and I then take a folded over pipe cleaner and apply the dark brown dye over the entire surface.  After this, I fire the wet dye which immediately burns the alcohol and sets the dye in the grain.  In a few minutes, I repeat the process concluding with firing the wet dye.  I put the crusted stummel aside to rest.  I decide to do the same and call it a day.  The pictures show the progress.red49The next day, after a full day’s work, I’m anxious to look at Gramps, and with the Dremel I begin unwrapping the fired dye crust.  After mounting a dedicated felt wheel for applying Tripoli, I set the Dremel’s speed for 1, the slowest possible, and first purge the wheel with the sharp edge of the Dremel’s tightening wrench – to rid it of old compound and to soften the felt wheel.  I apply very little pressure on the briar surface, allowing the RPMs and compound to do the work for me.  To reach the inside of the bent shank elbow with the Tripoli compound, I switch to a smaller, pointed felt wheel to get in the tight angles.  With the Tripoli finished, I rejoin the stem to the stummel and I mount a Blue Diamond dedicated felt wheel and again buff stem and stummel.  When completed, I hand buff the pipe with a cotton cloth to remove the compound dust left over.  The pictures show the progress.red50 red52With the abrasive application of the compounds finished, before I apply carnauba wax to the stummel and stem, I want to dress up Gramps’ stem stamping.  The original appears to have been red so I take red acrylic paint and apply a dab over the Redonian ‘R’ and circle and let it dry thoroughly – overnight.  When dry, I gently rub/scrape off the excess with the flat side of a toothpick which protects the paint in the indentations.  After this, I rub it well with a cotton pad to clean the remainder of the excess – gently leaving a rebranded stem – very nice, a refreshed stem stamping.  The pictures show the results.red53 red54With the Redonian stem stamp completed, I reunite stem and stummel and mount the cotton cloth Dremel wheel and apply several coats of carnauba wax to the pipe. I increase the speed of the Dremel to 2.  I follow the carnauba wax with a vigorous hand-buff using a micromesh cloth to dissipate wax that was not spread evenly and to deepen the gloss of the shine.

When I think about the 98-year-old steward from whose estate this Redonian Deluxe London Made came, I cannot believe he would have dreamt his pipe would one day start a new lifetime serving another steward.  I gave this old, worn pipe the nickname, ‘Gramps.’  Bear with me one more time to put a picture of ‘Gramps’ in front of the younger man he has now become.  I’m amazed at the transformation and it is why I love this hobby – the pictures speak for themselves.  I sell my restorations with the profits helping the work we do with the Daughters of Bulgaria – those sexually exploited and trafficked.  This Redonian Deluxe London Made is ready to serve a new steward.  If you’re interested in adopting him and helping the Daughters, check out ‘Gramps’ at The Pipe Steward Store.  Thanks for joining me!red55 red56 red57 red58 red59 red60

One of my favourite GBD Shapes and Finishes – a Prehistoric 269 Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

After refurbishing a lot of pipes over the years I have come to opinions about pipe brands and shaped. To my eye certain brands really get a certain shape and really nail it perfectly. To me the GBD Bulldog, shape 269 is one of those shapes. To me it is the quintessential straight shank bulldog. Others do it well but GBD absolutely gets the shape. Add to that fact that certain finishes have also grown on me over the years and one of those is the GBD Prehistoric sandblast. You combine the finish and the shape components on this pipe and I have a real beauty on the restoration table today. My brother is also becoming a die-hard GBD fan so when he saw this one he decided it was one to go after. Needless to say he got it. He took some photos of the pipe before he cleaned it up to send up to me in Vancouver. I have included those below.gbd1The finish on the pipe looks to be in excellent condition. Later close-up photos will show the grime and dust in the grooves and crevices of the sandblast but there are no chips or nicks in the briar. The bowl had remnants of tobacco in the bottom and the cake had overflowed on to the rim top. The curved bevel of the Prehistoric smooth rim was thickly tarred and caked. It was hard to tell from the photos if there were any nicks or deep scratches in the rim. I have found that the thicker the cake and tars on the rim the more likely it is that I will find the rim to be pretty pristine underneath. The stem was deeply oxidized and the GBD logo insert on the stem had been buffed to death but the fit of the stem to the shank was perfect. There was only light tooth chatter and a few scratches on the top and underside of the flat portion of the stem. The photo below gives a clear picture of the condition of the rim and the cake in the bowl.gbd2The sand blast on the heel of the bowl was deep and craggy and the contrast of browns in the stain really highlighted the layered look of the blast.gbd3The stamping on the left underside of the shank in a smooth panel is very readable and sharp. It reads GBD in the oval over Prehistoric in Germanic script. Next to that it reads London England over the shape number 269. The second photo below shows the over buffed roundel in the stem. It is still readable but is quite flattened and broadened. I will have to see if I can clean that up a bit in the process of the restoration – or at least not damage it any further.gbd4The next two photos show the top and underside of the stem. The oxidation is quite heavy and deep in the vulcanite. There is some light tooth chatter and scratches on the stem near the button and on top of the button on both sides but no deep tooth marks.gbd5My brother is getting really good at cleaning up these old timers and I have to say I am getting spoiled at getting pipes that I don’t have to ream and scrape to clean before I can start the restoration process. In this case he scrubbed the briar with Murphy’s Oil Soap and got rid of the grime and dust in the crevices and removed most of the buildup on the rim top. He reamed the bowl and scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. When I received it the pipe was clean and ready to restore. The briar was dry from the scrubbing and the removal of all of the oils. It appears to have lost some of the rich colour but I have learned that once I begin to work on it the life begins to come back to the briar so I was not too concerned. The oxidation had also really risen to the surface of the stem and looked ugly. I took the next four photos to show what the pipe looked like when it arrived.gbd6 gbd7I took a closeup photo of the rim top to show what it looked like when I received it. He had been able to remove the buildup and caking on the rim but there was still some darkening that needed to be dealt with. I also took closeup photos of the stem to show how the pitted and oxidized surface looked before I started. This was going to be a tough stem to clean up.gbd8 gbd9I decided to start with the rim top. I started polishing it by wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped it off with a damp cotton pad and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. The rim began to take on its original sheen and the darkening and rim damage was removed.gbd10I gave the bowl a light rub down with olive oil and it absorbed it quickly into the dry and lifeless feeling briar. I buffed it by hand with a soft microfiber cloth and took the next set of photos to show what a little oil will do to a dry and thirsty finish.gbd11 gbd12I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper being very careful around the GBD roundel on the stem. I was able to remove much of the surface oxidation on the stem and I started to see the black stem peeking through.gbd13I decided to try several of the stem polishes I have around here to try to break through the oxidation. I started with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish which is a very gritty and cuts through the oxidation and helps polish the stem. I followed that with the Before & After Polishes which are also gritty but each of them the Fine and the Extra Fine are less so than the Denicare polish. While they worked well overall and cut through a lot of oxidation it took much scrubbing with cotton pads to polish it to the place the stem is in the photo below.gbd14I still needed to polish the stem further with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed it down after each set of three pads with Obsidian Oil. After the last set of pads I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. gbd15 gbd16 gbd17I buffed the bowl rim and the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to shine it further. I gave the stem and the bowl rim multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel and hand applied Conservator’s Wax to the sandblast bowl sides and shank. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad, carefully buffing around the stamping and the brass roundel on the stem. The finished pipe is shown in the photos that follow. The overall appearance of the pipe is very good. In some of the close up photos the light shows me some spots along the crease of the button where the stubborn oxidation did not all come clean. Ah well. It is one of those that I think I will revisit repeatedly over the course of its life with me. Thanks for journeying with me on this troublesome oxidation removal process. Thanks for reading. gbd18 gbd19 gbd20 gbd21 gbd22 gbd23 gbd24 gbd25

An Unsullied (once the paint was removed) Dunhill 5113 Bent Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

Wikus mentioned in his comment on the post I did on the latest Stanwell Copenhagen Calabash (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/12/17/a-gold-banded-stanwell-copenhagen-calabash/comment-page-1/#comment-19995) that my brother was the MVP of pipe finders. I have to tell you that you all don’t know the half of it. In all the years I have been pipe hunting and sorting and digging through old pipes I have never had the kind of luck or fortune or whatever you want to call it as he does. He has found a total of three Dunhill pipes, a Castello, some great Barlings, a batch of astonishingly beautiful Stanwells and a lot of other amazing pipes in his hunts. The pipe I am working on now at the work table is one he picked up at a St Vincent De Paul Thrift Store in Boise, Idaho on a recent trip to visit an estate sale that had some promising pipes. The amazing thing is he picked up this paint speckled Dunhill for only $9.99. Now that is some great hunting fortune. I can hardly believe the photos that he sends me sometimes.

The next group of photos show the pipe as it was when he picked up. There was a lot of debris and grim in the deep blast grooves and on top of that quite a bit of white house paint on the left side of the bowl and spattered around the shank and a bit on the right side of the bowl. It makes me wonder who paints their house smoking a Dunhill pipe. The first three photos show the overall look and condition of the pipe.dunhill1 dunhill2Jeff also took some closer photos of the right side of the bowl and the rim. These were done to give a clear picture of the great sandblast finish that was on the pipe. It really has some deep and craggy looking grooves and ridges. The second photo shows the cake in the bowl and the overall clean look of the rim. The pipe had not been smoked that often and it certainly had not been oversmoked.dunhill3The stamping on the bowl is readable and clear. It reads Dunhill Shell over Made in England with a superscript underlined 24 following the D of England. To the left of the paint spot on the underside of the shank is the four digit shape number 5113. On the Pipephil Logos and Stamping website there is a helpful key to interpreting the shape stamps on Dunhill. Here is the link: http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/shapes.html. He writes:

Dunhill pipes are stamped with a four digit code. Digit 1: (from 1 to 6) denotes the size of the pipe (the group). Digit 2: denotes the style of the mouthpiece (0, 1=tapered, 2=saddle). Digit 3 and 4: denote the generic pipe shape. Thus 5113 can be interpreted this way: (5 = size | 1 = tapered stem | 13 = Bent Apple. The dating on these four digit pipes can be determined by starting with the base date of 1960 and adding the superscript underlined number after the D of England. Thus 1960+24 makes this a 1984 pipe. The next two photos show the stamping from a lightly different angle accentuating the year stamp in the second photo.dunhill4The stem was in absolutely perfect shape though there were a few paint flecks on the surface. Underneath those the stem was flawless. There were no tooth marks or chatter at all and no oxidizing either. Along with the condition of the bowl (unsmoked briar at the bottom half of the bowl and a clear briar mortise with no darkening) this stem points to a pipe that was hardly used.dunhill5The next two closeup photos show the rim top with some of the tars and paint flecks in the grooves of the blast and the paint flecks on the bowl side on the left of the second photo of the underside view.dunhill6My brother did a miracle job cleaning up the paint that was all over this beautiful Dunhill. He was able to get it out of all of the deep crevices and crags of the sandblast without damaging the Shell finish. The rim grime and build up also came off and the flecks of paint on the stem came off without oxidizing the stem. He reamed the bowl and cleaned out the internals in the stem and the mortise and shank with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. The pipe smelled clean and was clean. It came to me and looked like the four photos below.dunhill8 dunhill9I took a photo of the rim top to show how clean it was when I received it.dunhill10The stem looks to be in great shape. The surface was very smooth and clean. The internals were also clean. I ran a pipe cleaner through the airway in the stem and the shank as well as the mortise. They were spotless.dunhill11I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and the buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and gave it several coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It was an easy clean up in terms of many of the pipes that cross my table but the finished pipe is quite stunning. This certainly was quite an amazing find and an incredible purchase for a little under $10. My brother certainly has luck and a good eye for pipes. Thanks for looking.dunhill12 dunhill13 dunhill14 dunhill15 dunhill16 dunhill17 dunhill18 dunhill19