Tag Archives: buffing

Paresh’s Grandfather’s Pipe #3 – A Dr. Grabow Starfire


Blog by Steve Laug

I have repaired pipes for Paresh in India over the past four months and not long ago he sent me seven of his Grandfather’s pipes to restore. It is an interesting assortment of older pipes that come from the period of 1937-1950s. His Grandfather worked for the Indian Railroad many years and was a pipeman. Paresh is also a pipeman and recently found out that his Grandfather smoked a pipe as well. The third of the pipes is an older Dr. Grabow Starfire Adjustomatic Tomahawk #21. It is stamped on the right side of the shank Starfire over Dr. Grabow. From what I can find out the pipe was part of the Continental X-Series that came in 12 unique shapes that were originally released in 1959. When the Continentals were first put into production they may have been available only by coupon in the Westbrook, Emperor and Sculptura lines, but they were available in the regular production–non coupon lines such as Viscount, Starfire and Eldorado. The coupon pipes were given XO shape numbers while the regular production lines (meaning sold in retail stores) were given standard shape numbers. The XO numbers were never stamped on the pipes, but the regular production pipes will sometimes have a stamped shape number. This particular pipe that I am working on for Paresh is a Starfire line pipe. I have included the following shape chart to help identify the pipe. It is the third pipe down in the column on the right side – shape #21. (Quoted from the late Ed James, a man who knew a lot about Grabow pipes and who is dearly missed by those of us who knew and enjoyed his company.  http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/3-year-journey-complete-set-of-continental-x-series-pic-heavy.) I took the following photos of the pipe before I stated to work on it. It was probably one of the dirtiest of the pipes that Paresh’s wife Abha sent me – even then it was not that dirty because she had removed much of the cake bowl and the grime in the wire rustication.  The rim top has lava that has overflowed from the bowl and filled in the wire rustication. It is quite thick and hard. It will need to be scraped off when I started the cleaning. I am not sure what the inside edge of the rim looks like at this point because of the lava overflow. The outer edge of the bowl looks pretty good with a little wear on the front edge and back right side. The bowl still the remnants of cake left behind that I will need to take care of. I also took a close up photos of both sides of the stem. The stem significantly overclocked to the right giving the pipe an odd look. You can see the tooth chatter and calcification on the top and underside of the stem just in front of the button. It appears that the stem must have had a softee bit that was later cut off and left behind the debris.I always enjoy getting some background information on the pipeman whose pipes I am restoring when I am working estate pipes from the family members. If you have followed rebornpipes for a while you have read a few of these summaries from estates like Kathy’s Dad, Barry’s Dad and Farida’s Dad. Each of them did a great job summarizing their fathers’ estates. Since the next group of seven pipes that I will be working came to from India and belonged to the Grandfather of Paresh, I asked him to write a short tribute to his Grandfather. What follows is his writeup.

Respected Sir,

Now that the first batch of my Grandfather’s pipes has reached you, I would like to share my memories of him with you, the aim being to provide you with an insight to his personality, the era in which he lived, and a brief history associated with the pipes that I have inherited from him.

My Grandfather, Ananta (named after an exotic seasonal white flower having lovely fragrance), was born in a small coastal town of Konkan region of Maharashtra, India, in 1918. These were very turbulent times when India’s freedom struggle against British rule was gathering momentum and the atmosphere was charged with “Quit India Movement”. Having completed his graduation from Bombay, he joined Railways in 1937. This also marked the beginning of his journey into the world of pipe smoking!!!!!

Having seen his potential, in 1945, he was sponsored by the Government to visit England, for gaining further experience and expertise in his profession. This was a period when India’s Independence was round the corner and efforts were being made to train Indians for various administrative appointments in future Independent India. He returned back to India after a year, in 1946 and with him came some pipes that he had purchased in England. I believe a few of his Petes, Barlings, Charatans and GBDs are from this visit.

In 1947, when the British finally left India for good, my Grandfather was gifted pipes by his British peers, subordinates and Superior Officers as a parting gift. He stayed in touch with a few of them over all these years, even visiting them in 1959-60. Some of his later era Charatans and Barlings and Petes are from this trip. He quit smoking in early 1970s (before I was even born!!!!) and his pipes were packed up. There were a number of pipes which were used as TINDER for lighting fires (CAN’T BELIEVE IT…… I have not overcome my grief of this loss till date!!!!!) due to ignorance!!!!!!

My Grandfather was a very strict disciplinarian and temperamental (I did not know this as he was neither when dealing with me as I am the youngest of all his grandchildren!!!!!! He was always the most understanding and loving person in my life). I later learned that in his office, he was not to be disturbed when his pipe was lit, as he would be in his thinking/ contemplating mode while it was just the opposite as he lit his pipe in the evening while at home, when he would be at his relaxed best!!!!.

The interesting part is that neither of us knew that we each smoked a pipe until after his demise in Jan 2018!!!! In our culture, to this day, smoking or alcohol consumption is socially never talked about (mute acceptance!!!). It was during his last rites that absent mindedly I lighted my pipe and looking into the flickering flames of his funeral pyre, remembered and recollected all the wonderful memories and talks that we had shared. No one said a word to me about my lighting up a pipe!!!!!! Immediately thereafter, I rejoined my duty station. A few days later, my wife, Abha, received a box from my Uncle with a note that said “Grandfather would have loved Paresh to have these”. This box contained a collection of his fountain pens and 8-10 of his pipes (since then as my folks are winding up his belongings, I have received 2-3 packets and a large number of pipes, some in decent condition and some in unspeakable state). Abha immediately messaged me with pictures of these pipes and pens. I had been collecting and restoring (no major repairs, though) fountain pens since long and immediately recognized some of them as highly collectibles, however, pipes were a totally different ball game! I was inexperienced with no knowledge/ information regarding various brands/ pipe makers, shapes and materials. I knew nothing about the value of these pipes, nothing about pipe restorations, nothing about caring for them; I mean zero knowledge about collecting pipes. I smoked some real cheap Chinese pipes which were readily and unfortunately, the only ones, available in India and some inexpensive pipes from eBay India!!!!! Also regular pipe cleaning, pipe rotation, pipe cleaners and such things were unknown to me.

Thus, to know more about the REAL pipes, I embarked upon the journey of exploring finer nuances of pipe brands/ makers, their history and watching “How to videos” on packing a pipe, cleaning, repairing and caring for ones pipes. I found it extremely interesting and satisfying. It was while meandering through this confusing quagmire of pipe world that I came across rebornpipes.com website and eventually established contact with you, Mr Steve, who has since been my mentor, guide and GURU, making this journey a wonderful and satisfying experience.

Sir, there is one more thing that I need to thank you for and that is when you asked me to write a brief about my grandfather and his pipes, I realized how little I knew about him, in fact, knew nothing, as I was not even aware that he was a “pipeman” as no one in my family ever spoke about it being taboo subject and since he had quit a long time before I was even born!!!! This led me to ask the elders in my family, questions on the subject and came to know the above details. I cannot thank you enough for prodding me to get to know my grandfather and his pipes a lot better. Sir, these pipes of his, with your help and guidance, will remain with me forever in mint condition……

Thanks Paresh for this great descriptive take of your Grandfather. It really gives me a sense of the pipes that you have sent me and what they meant to him. It is obvious from the variety of pipes that you sent and the overall condition that he knew how to choose good quality pipes and obviously enjoyed smoking them throughout most of his life.

Paresh’s wife Abha cleaned the pipes before she sent them to me here in Canada and did an amazing job cleaning them up. She reamed the bowls, cleaned the rims and scrubbed the exterior of the pipes and the stems with Murphy’s Oil Soap and cleaned off the buildup on the stems. She had removed much of the cake on this pipe and done a great job cleaning the exterior of the bowl. The lava on the rim top was very hard and thick so she left that behind so as not to damage the top edge. The stamping on the right side of the shank was very readable. The stem was oxidized on both sides of the stem and had quite a bit of tooth chatter and calcification on both.

Since the stem was an adjustomatic according to what I had read I decided to work on the alignment before working on the rest of the pipe. I removed the stem and heated the metal tenon and stinger to loosen the tars and oils that had hardened on it. Once it was heated I turned the stem into the mortise and adjusted it by turning it clockwise until all was aligned.I let the heat dissipate from the stem and then removed it from the shank and started my work on the bowl itself. I cleaned up the cake in the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and took the rest of the cake off until I had bare briar walls. I wanted to check out the condition of the interior of the bowl. It looked very good once it was cleaned off. There was no checking or cracking on the bowl walls. There was no sign of burn out inside. I scraped the rim top with the sharp edge of the Savinelli Knife and took off the thick lava that was there. I used a brass bristle wire brush to clean out the cake from the wire rustication on the surface. You can see the thick chunks of lava that came off the rim top on the white sheet of paper.I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl and shank with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to clean out the debris I left behind from the rim clean up. I also used the brass bristle brush with the soap to work over the rustication on the rim top. I rinsed it in running water and dried it off with a cloth. I restained the rim top with a Walnut stain pen to match the colour of the rest of the bowl. I touched up random spots on the shank and bowl sides where the finish was worn or nicked.I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. It took a lot of scraping and scrubbing to remove all of the thick tars and oils that had accumulated around the Grabow spoon stinger.I worked Before & After Restoration Balm deep into the briar to clean, enliven and protect it. I worked it into the finish with my fingertips. I worked it into the rim and shank end. I set it aside for a few minutes to let the balm work. I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth to polish it. The briar really began to have a deep shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. The bowl is really beginning to look good and the pipe is waxed I think it will really have a rich glow to wire rusticated finish.  I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I used a brass bristle wire brush to clean off the spoon stinger enough that I could remove it and clean out the rest of the stem. I cleaned up the stinger and the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they were clean. I would buff the metal with the buffing wheel to take off the rest of the staining later. I sanded out the tooth chatter and the calcification on both sides of the stem at the button with 220 grit sand paper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I finished polishing the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish both Fine and Extra Fine to remove the last of the scratches. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. With the stem polished I put it back on the pipe and lightly buffed the bowl and more heavily buffed the stem with Blue Diamond. I gave the bowl several 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 and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I have four more of Paresh’s Grandfather’s pipes to finish and then I will pack them up and send across the sea to India where he can carry on the legacy. I know that he is looking forward to having them in hand and enjoying a bowl of his favourite tobacco in memory of his Grandfather. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked this pipe over.

 

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Paresh’s Grandfather’s Pipe #2 – A Yello-Bole Carburetor 4522 Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

I have repaired pipes for Paresh in India over the past four months and not long ago he sent me seven of his Grandfather’s pipes to restore. It is an interesting assortment of older pipes that come from the period of 1937-1950s. His Grandfather worked for the Indian Railroad many years and was a pipeman. Paresh is also a pipeman and recently found out that his Grandfather smoked a pipe as well. The second of the pipes is an older Yello-Bole Carburetor Billiard. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Carburetor over the KBB triangle logo followed by Yello-Bole over US Pat. 2082.106 over Cured with Real Honey. On the right side there is a four digit number 4522. This pipe was made between 1935 and 1936. Here is the rationale. The carburetor patent was granted in 1935, this pipe is stamped “US Pat.” Interestingly enough, it also has a patent number on the bottom of the shank that reads Reg.U.S.Pat.Off. over No. 343.331. The four digit number was used by KBB until 1936. The first two numbers indicate the finish, in this case 45 indicates a smooth finish. The second two numbers indicate the shape, in this case 22 indicates a straight billiard. The rim top is beat up and worn there is damage on the surface and also has nicks around the inner and outer edges of the bowl. The bowl still had a fairly thick cake on the walls. The carburetor tube that goes through the bottom of the bowl from outside to the inside was clogged and dirty. I took a close up photo of the rim top and both sides of the stem. You can see the damage to the top and inner edge of the rim top in the first photo below. The second and third photo shows the top and underside of the stem.The next photo shows the stamping on the left side of the shank as noted above. There is also a large crack on the top left side of the shank. The next two photos show the stamping and the crack very clearly. I always enjoy getting some background information on the pipeman whose pipes I am restoring when I am working estate pipes from the family members. If you have followed rebornpipes for a while you have read a few of these summaries from estates like Kathy’s Dad, Barry’s Dad and Farida’s Dad. Each of them did a great job summarizing their fathers’ estates. Since the next group of seven pipes that I will be working came to from India and belonged to the Grandfather of Paresh, I asked him to write a short tribute to his Grandfather. What follows is his writeup.

Respected Sir,

Now that the first batch of my Grandfather’s pipes has reached you, I would like to share my memories of him with you, the aim being to provide you with an insight to his personality, the era in which he lived, and a brief history associated with the pipes that I have inherited from him.

My Grandfather, Ananta (named after an exotic seasonal white flower having lovely fragrance), was born in a small coastal town of Konkan region of Maharashtra, India, in 1918. These were very turbulent times when India’s freedom struggle against British rule was gathering momentum and the atmosphere was charged with “Quit India Movement”. Having completed his graduation from Bombay, he joined Railways in 1937. This also marked the beginning of his journey into the world of pipe smoking!!!!!

Having seen his potential, in 1945, he was sponsored by the Government to visit England, for gaining further experience and expertise in his profession. This was a period when India’s Independence was round the corner and efforts were being made to train Indians for various administrative appointments in future Independent India. He returned back to India after a year, in 1946 and with him came some pipes that he had purchased in England. I believe a few of his Petes, Barlings, Charatans and GBDs are from this visit.

In 1947, when the British finally left India for good, my Grandfather was gifted pipes by his British peers, subordinates and Superior Officers as a parting gift. He stayed in touch with a few of them over all these years, even visiting them in 1959-60. Some of his later era Charatans and Barlings and Pete are from this trip. He quit smoking in early 1970s (before I was even born!!!!) and his pipes were packed up. There were a number of pipes which were used as TINDER for lighting fires (CAN”T BELIEVE IT…… I have not overcome my grief of this loss till date!!!!!) due to ignorance!!!!!!

My Grandfather was a very strict disciplinarian and temperamental (I did not know this as he was neither when dealing with me as I am the youngest of all his grandchildren!!!!!! He was always the most understanding and loving person in my life). I later learned that in his office, he was not to be disturbed when his pipe was lit, as he would be in his thinking/ contemplating mode while it was just the opposite as he lit his pipe in the evening while at home, when he would be at his relaxed best!!!!.

The interesting part is that neither of us knew that we each smoked a pipe until after his demise in Jan 2018!!!! In our culture, to this day, smoking or alcohol consumption is socially never talked about (mute acceptance!!!). It was during his last rites that absent mindedly I lighted my pipe and looking into the flickering flames of his funeral pyre, remembered and recollected all the wonderful memories and talks that we had shared. No one said a word to me about my lighting up a pipe!!!!!! Immediately thereafter, I rejoined my duty station. A few days later, my wife, Abha, received a box from my Uncle with a note that said “Grandfather would have loved Paresh to have these”. This box contained a collection of his fountain pens and 8-10 of his pipes (since then as my folks are winding up his belongings, I have received 2-3 packets and a large number of pipes, some in decent condition and some in unspeakable state). Abha immediately messaged me with pictures of these pipes and pens. I had been collecting and restoring (no major repairs, though) fountain pens since long and immediately recognized some of them as highly collectibles, however, pipes were a totally different ball game! I was inexperienced with no knowledge/ information regarding various brands/ pipe makers, shapes and materials. I knew nothing about the value of these pipes, nothing about pipe restorations, nothing about caring for them; I mean zero knowledge about collecting pipes. I smoked some real cheap Chinese pipes which were readily and unfortunately, the only ones, available in India and some inexpensive pipes from eBay India!!!!! Also regular pipe cleaning, pipe rotation, pipe cleaners and such things were unknown to me.

Thus, to know more about the REAL pipes, I embarked upon the journey of exploring finer nuances of pipe brands/ makers, their history and watching “How to videos” on packing a pipe, cleaning, repairing and caring for ones pipes. I found it extremely interesting and satisfying. It was while meandering through this confusing quagmire of pipe world that I came across rebornpipes.com website and eventually established contact with you, Mr Steve, who has since been my mentor, guide and GURU, making this journey a wonderful and satisfying experience.

Sir, there is one more thing that I need to thank you for and that is when you asked me to write a brief about my grandfather and his pipes, I realized how little I knew about him, in fact, knew nothing, as I was not even aware that he was a “pipeman” as no one in my family ever spoke about it being taboo subject and since he had quit a long time before I was even born!!!! This led me to ask the elders in my family, questions on the subject and came to know the above details. I cannot thank you enough for prodding me to get to know my grandfather and his pipes a lot better. Sir, these pipes of his, with your help and guidance, will remain with me forever in mint condition……

Thanks Paresh for this great descriptive take of your Grandfather. It really gives me a sense of the pipes that you have sent me and what they meant to him. It is obvious from the variety of pipes that you sent and the overall condition that he knew how to choose good quality pipes and obviously enjoyed smoking them throughout most of his life.

Paresh’s wife Abha cleaned the pipes before she sent them to me here in Canada and did an amazing job cleaning them up. She reamed the bowls, cleaned the rims and scrubbed the exterior of the pipes and the stems with Murphy’s Oil Soap and cleaned off the buildup on the stems. This particular pipe had a very hard cake in the bowl and with the tube sticking up from the bottom of the bowl she was very careful in here cleanup. There was till cake that needed to be removed. The finish on the bowl is in bad condition and was peeling and dirty. The light varnish coat was rough. The stamping on the sides and bottom of the bowl was very readable. The crack in the shank was fairly open and would need to be banded to repair it. The rim top had been beat up on hard surfaces and the outer edges were rough and rounded. The stem was lightly oxidized on both sides of the stem and had quite a bit of tooth chatter on both.

I removed the stem from the shank and started my work on the bowl itself. I wiped down the peeling finish on the bowl and shank with acetone on cotton pads. I rubbed it down until I had removed the varnish coat and the grime in the finish. I carefully cleaned up the reaming in the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer first. I started with the smallest cutting head and worked up to the second cutting head. I took the cake back to bare briar on the top ¾ of the bowl with the PipNet. I finished up the bottom ¼ with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and took the cake back to the bare briar on the bottom. I was careful around the tube extending into the bowl bottom so I would not damage it. I wanted to check out the condition of the interior of the bowl. It looked very good once it was cleaned off. There was no checking or cracking on the bowl walls. There was no sign of burn out inside.  I decided to take care of the cracked shank next before I cleaned up the inside. I found a nickel band that was the right diameter for the shank. I used the Dremel and sanding drum to cut back about 1/3 of the depth of the band so that when it was fully on the shank it would not cover up the stamping on either side of the shank. I cleaned out the crack with a cotton swab and alcohol. I put some all-purpose white glue in the crack and pressed the band onto the shank. I used the sandpaper on the topping board to face the band and the end of the shank. I wanted the shank end and band to be absolutely smooth so that the fit of the stem in the shank would not change. You can see from the first photo below that the band placement does not come close to the stamping but completely cover the crack.To remove the damage to the top of the rim and minimize the damage on the inside and outside edge of the rim I topped it on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I cleaned out the carburetor tube on the bottom of the bowl with a paper clip and pushed through the tars and grime that had plugged the tubes. I cleaned out the airway in the shank and the mortise with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol until the inside was clean.I polished the rim top and bevel with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust and the scratches. I stained the rim with a Maple stain pen to match the colour of the rest of the bowl and shank.I worked Before & After Restoration Balm deep into the briar to clean, enliven and protect it. I worked it into the finish with my fingertips. I worked it into the rim and shank end. I set it aside for a few minutes to let the balm work. I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth to polish it. The briar really began to have a deep shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. The grain on the bowl is really beginning to stand out and will only do so more as the pipe is waxed.  I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter on both sides of the stem at the button with 220 grit sand paper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I finished polishing the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish both Fine and Extra Fine to remove the last of the scratches. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. With the stem polished I put it back on the pipe and lightly buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond. I gave them both multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I have five more of Paresh’s Grandfather’s pipes to finish and then I will pack them up and send across the sea to India where he can carry on the legacy. I know that he is looking forward to having them in hand and enjoying a bowl of his favourite tobacco in memory of his Grandfather. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked this pipe over.

A Pipe for Vanity – a Stanton for a Stanton


Blog by Dal Stanton

I suppose it IS vain to restart my restoration operations after 6 months with a pipe bearing my name.  In my recent travelogue blog, ‘There and Back again – to Bulgaria’, I described what I called my ‘Vanity Pipe’ as one of the 105 pipes I acquired during our 6 month US visit.  I came across this name-sake while trolling eBay’s offerings.  I hadn’t come across a ‘Stanton’ before and so I decided to place a bid.  As it turned out, I was the only Stanton bidding on the Stanton and claimed my Vanity Pipe with no competition.Name aside, the medium sized billiard looked to me like he was a hearty pipe – I will see if he’s a good smoker.  Yet, if the heavy use, thick cake, and banged up stummel is any indication of the former steward’s affections, I would say it was very much part of the rotation and saw much active duty!  The eBay seller provided good pictures of the Stanton which show the numerous challenges, but also the potential.  The grain is attractive and will look great when the surface is refurbished and polished up.  Here are some the pictures I saw on eBay. ‘STANTON’ is stamped on the left side of the shank, and ‘IMPORTED’ over ‘Briar’ on the right.  Of course, one of my first questions when I landed the Stanton from eBay was, where was this pipe manufactured?  Are there any clues?  My first inquiry was in Wilczak & Colwell’s, ‘Who Made That Pipe?’  Stanton was listed but designated as ‘Unknown’.  My next stop after Pipedia came up empty, was PipePhil.eu where I found my first Stanton cousin listed:There were some differences in the nomenclature – my Stanton has ‘Imported Briar’ stamped on the left side shank.  The specimen from Pipephil has ‘Genuine Briar’ under Stanton.  Another difference is the dot.  My Stanton’s saddle stem has no identifying mark.  Yet, what was very clear from the comparison of the ‘Stanton’ on both pipes is that the same stamp pressed Stanton in the briar.  The font is identical.  My Stanton is the lower comparison. Simple google searches revealed the clan was larger with additional Stanton cousins showing up demonstrating a variety of shapes being produced under the Stanton name.

Two cousins from eBay:The only thing I found of a Stanton that provided any remote tidbit on origin was from SmokingPipes.com where the listing was for a very attractive Stanton Rhodesian described as an American Estate pipe.  I liked Eric N. Squires’ description which I thought was apropos for my rugged and worn billiard:

American Estates: Stanton Smooth Rhodesian

Product Number: 004-009-6323

Here is another example of a pipe that was built extra stout, where it is a good thing that it was. This is because whoever else owned it, sure as hell didn’t baby it. I can see why they kept it so long though, as the broad chamber promises plenty of flavor, the drilling is nice and straight, and wide, firmly rounded bowl is pleasing in hand.

– Eric N. SquiresSo, it’s starting to become clearer – my new Vanity Pipe isn’t quite as vain as I!  He has humble origins it would seem.  If anyone can add information to this query into this Stanton’s roots, I would be appreciative.

When I take a closer look at the Stanton billiard on my Pipe Steward work table here in Sofia, Bulgaria, I take a few more pictures to chronicle some of the challenges.  The rim is in rough shape, with most of the front quadrant showing heavy wear – almost looks like the edge was scraped on concrete. The cake is heavy and thick in the chamber and will need to be removed to reveal the condition of the chamber wall.  The bowl surface is grimy and dark with old finish, several pocks and dents.  Surprisingly, I do not detect any fills – the briar underneath the surface carnage looks to be very expressive, with much flow and character.  The heel of the stummel is populated with tight bird’s eye grain. The saddle stem looks to be in good condition, with some oxidation and wee bit of tooth chatter and dents.  The old screw in stinger needs to be cleaned along with the nickel insert/band – which seems to be a consistent design with the other Stantons.  I did note that the set of the tenon, when fully engaged, is under-clocked.  I’ll need to address this as well.   I begin the restoration of my first pipe after a 6-month hiatus AND one bearing my name by inserting a pipe cleaner into the stem, through the stinger, and putting it into OxiClean solution to raise the oxidation from the vulcanite.  As a side note, after reading several of Steve’s posts testing and then using Before & After Deoxidizer from Ibepen.com, I decided to try it.  I brought a bottle of it back with me to Bulgaria along with the balm and polishes.  Down the road I’ll give them a try.Turning to the stummel, I begin the reaming process with my newly acquired vintage Swiss Made Pipnet reaming kit made with heavier duty hard rubber.  Previously, I used the acrylic version that Pipnet put out later which tended to be more prone to breaking – the blades cracked on harder jobs.  With a bit of patience watching eBay, the older, stronger Pipnet system surfaced and I’m thankful to have it back in Bulgaria! Now, to take the new Pipnet blades for a test spin!  After putting some paper towel down to help in cleanup, starting with the smallest blade, I work on removing the hard, thick cake.  The blade went through with little effort.  The next larger blade did its job as well.  I then used the Savinelli Fitsall reaming tool to fine tune, removing more of the carbon in the harder to reach places.  Then, wrapping a piece of 240 grade sanding paper around a dowel rod, I sand the chamber walls and finish the job wiping out the remaining carbon dust with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  The pictures show the reaming process. Turning to the rim and the stummel surface, I need to clean the lava off the rim and the grime on the briar surface.  Using undiluted Murphys Oil Soap, I scrub the rim and surface with a cotton pad.  I also utilize a brass brush to work on the rim which will not add to the damage already present.  I then rinse the stummel with cool tap water.  While I’m working on the surface, I take 0000 steel wool and clean the nickel plate band/connector.  An inspection of the clean chamber walls reveals no problems.After the surface cleaning, I take a closer look at the stummel surface.  The rim will need to be topped, but it is possible that the severe outer lip damage to the rim can be leveraged to my advantage.  I can introduce an outer, rounded bevel and blend it with the freshened top.  This can allow less real estate to be lost in the topping process.  Along with the dents and pocks I saw before, I notice a dark area on the left front quadrant of the stummel which may indicate overheating of the stummel.  I also note that in the shank area, around the stamping, the old, shiny finish persists.  I want to remove all the old finish, especially around the stampings. To address this old residue of finish I use acetone and a cotton pad and make short work of the finish.  As hoped, the surface is now clean.Before moving further with the surface, I attack the internal cleaning of the mortise and airway.  I use pipe cleaners, cotton buds wetted with isopropyl 95% to do the dirty work.  I also use a dental probe to scrape the mortise surface and to excavate the oils and tars that have congealed over time in the airway.  That was the frontal attack.  With grunge still surfacing on the cotton buds, and with the late hour approaching, I decide to use the passive-aggressive approach.  Using Kosher salt, I fill the bowl and then add alcohol to sit overnight to work on cleaning the mortise.  I set the stummel in an egg crate to provide stability.  Then I fill the bowl with Kosher salt – not iodized salt which leaves an aftertaste.  I then stretch and twist a cotton ball, to create ‘wick’ to draw the crud out of the mortise as the salt/alcohol does its work.  I then fill the bowl with isopropyl alcohol 95% until full.  I wait a few minutes and top it off.  With that, I turn off the lights and head to bed.  Another day coming.  The next day, as hoped, the salt and cotton wick showed signs of the extraction of old oils and tars from the internals of the stummel.  I clean out the dried salt and used a dry paper towel and bristle brushes to remove the residue salt.  I also blow through the airway to help out.  Even after the salt treatment, there is gunk left in the mortise.  I continued to scrape the mortise wall with a dental spatula and follow with cotton buds dipped in alcohol to finish the job.  The pictures tell the story. I put the stummel aside to work on the stem, now soaking in OxiClean.  After taking it out of the soak, I take a picture and see that a moderate amount of oxidation had raised to the surface.  Taking a piece of 600 grade paper I wet sand the stem removing the oxidation from the vulcanite.  I also use a brass brush to remove the caked residue off the stinger.  Taking a close look at the bit, there were only very small dents remaining after the sanding.  I returned with the 600-grade paper focusing on those minute points and the stem is looking good. On a hunch, after the cleaning of the stinger and the mortise receptor band/plate, I refitted the stem to see if it still was under-clocked a few degrees as I saw earlier.  As hoped, the cleaning corrected the alignment – now, looking down the pipe from the steward’s view, one sees a true alignment.  Nice..To complete the clean-up, I turn to the stem using pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%.  I also utilize a long-bristled brush.  I find that utilizing the set of bristled brushes that I acquired some time ago saves on the pipe cleaners and are effective in getting at the gunk.  Stem and stummel are now clean. The rim needs my attention now.  I take a close look again.  I will top the stummel using 240 grade paper on a chopping board.  Looking at the first picture below, most of the external rim damage is on the front – 7 to 11 o’clock in the picture.  What I’m a bit concerned about is the large internal rim divot at the 2 o’clock position.  I’ll top a little and see if can address this without taking too much briar off.  Otherwise, I’ll need to fill it with a superglue/briar dust patch to build it up to the rim surface.On the topping board with 240 grade paper, I rotate the stummel as evenly as I can to avoid leaning in one direction or the other.  I check the progress to make sure I’m not leaning into softer wood.  I take some intermittent pictures below to show the progress.  I come to a point where not all the damage is removed, but enough that can be addressed by cutting bevels in the external and internal lips of the rim.  To me, applying bevels to rims generally makes it look classier.  I finish the topping by using a sheet of 600 grade and rotate the stummel several times to provide a smoothing of the surface.  The pictures show the progress.  Without going any further with the topping, I look closely at the dents and pocks on the stummel surface.  I see that some of the ‘pocks’ as I’ve described them may be very small fills on the underside of the shank and one on the top.  The fill is a light material.  The shank-side of the stummel is especially banged up with small dents.  I utilize sanding sponges to remove these and work toward smoothing out and rounding of the outer rim lip to remove the damage.  Careful to avoid the stampings on the shank, I progress by using the roughest grade, medium then fine grade sanding sponges in order.  I’m pleased with the results with most all the damage removed from the stummel.  The rounding of the rim looks great.  The pictures show the progress. The inner lip of the rim is next.  The one major divot at the 2 o’clock position I decide is too deep to remove it by creating an internal bevel.  To build this divot up, I apply a few drops of Hot Stuff Special ‘T’ CA Glue.  I’ll let the glue sit overnight before I bevel the inside lip. The next day, the CA has cured well.  To re-establish crisp rim lines, I take the stummel again to the topping board covered by 600 grade paper.  I’ll remove the CA glue mound and redefine the rim after the rounding of the rim edge.  I take a before and after pix. That does the job. Next, to complete this phase of the rim repair, I roll pieces of 120, 240 and 600 grade papers and cut an internal rim bevel to remove the remaining nicks and to soften the look.  With each rolled piece, I pinch the inside of the rim with the paper using my thumb and rotate evenly around the circumference.  The bevel is slight, and I think it looks good.  Again, before internal bevel and after pictures. I set the stummel aside and turn now to the stem.  The initial wet sanding of the stem with 600 grade paper removed the minor bite marks and I’m ready to move to the micromesh cycle.  Using all nine pads, 1500 to 12000, I wet sand with 1500 to 2400, then dry sand from 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads, I apply an ample amount of Obsidian Oil to refresh the vulcanite stem. I love the pop of newly polished vulcanite!  My vanity pipe is shaping up nicely. As I pick up the stummel, I look closely at the briar grain and a dark area I thought might be an overheating of the stummel – scorching.  Now, with the old finish off and the hidden briar making an appearance, the area is a briar knot – a tight swirl of briar. It has character and I think it looks good.  To continue the preparation of the stummel, I wet sand using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, followed by dry sanding with grades 3200 to 4000 then finishing up with pads 6000 to 12000.After finishing the first wet sanding cycle, I notice that the ‘pocks’ or fills on the shank had softened and become more noticeable and in need of filling.  A detour, but better now than later!  I use a dental probe to work out the softer fill.  I then mixed a small batch of superglue and briar dust to fill the holes.  I use a dental spoon to pack the mixture in the holes and put the stummel aside for it to cure. After the glue cures, I use a flat needle file surgically to bring the patch mounds down to the briar surface.  I am careful to keep the file on the glue mound not to create collateral damage to the surrounding briar.  Then using a tightly rolled piece of 240 grade paper, I remove the remaining glue residue by using the tight abrasive edge of the roll and rotate it in a circular motion over the mound area.  With touch and a close look, I’m able to determine the excess glue is removed.  Then, using 600 grade paper, I fine tune the entire area, not as concerned about the overrun on neighboring briar.  At this point the fine abrasion is blending and shining.  I finish the patches by catching the repair areas up with the first 3 micromesh pads.  The areas are still visible, but now smooth and will blend better as I continue with the finishing process.  The pictures show the detour progress. With the detour completed, I continue with the last two sets of dry sanding with micromesh pads 3200 to 12000.  This pipe’s briar is looking very nice. Well, there are a few pipes the make it through the restoration gauntlet up to this point, and the natural briar just says, I’m enough.  I had been planning to apply a lighter dye to the surface, but now…no.  The actual look of the briar is lighter than the pictures above, which I like.  So, with that decision made by my Stanton Vanity Pipe 😊, “I’m enough!”, I reunite the waiting stem with the stummel and take a picture – the bird’s eye view looks good.To tease out the briar grain even more, I finally take my Dremel off the hook and again use it after the 6 months hiatus!  Using Red Tripoli compound, I begin the buffing process on stem and stummel using a cotton cloth wheel mounted on the Dremel at the lowest speed. After completing a methodical circuit with the Tripoli, I switch to the lesser abrasive, Blue Diamond, using another cotton cloth wheel at the same speed.  Completing the abrasive compounds, I give the pipe a quick buff with a clean cotton cloth to remove the compound dust/powder before applying the wax.  I apply the carnauba wax with, yet another cotton cloth wheel dedicated to application of wax.  I increase the speed of the Dremel by about 20% and I apply a couple of coats of wax to the entire pipe.  For those who have not read my restorations, I live on the 10th floor of a former Communist block apartment building here in Sofia.  I do not have a lot of room, so my techniques for restoration, especially polishing techniques have had to bend to the realities – hence, my exclusive utilization of a Dremel with no room for the more powerful full wheel buffers.  After Steve asked me to write an essay on my techniques using a Dremel, I discovered out in the blogosphere many people who appreciated what I had written out of my own trials and errors.  You can find this essay at the Pipe Steward website here: My Dremel Polishing Techniques with a No-Name pipe from Sozopol Bulgaria.  My techniques have developed since then, but it’s a helpful essay.  Thanks to my wife for helping take the following pixs since I don’t have a third hand to use!After completing the application of carnauba wax, I give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth.  This helps bring out the shine even more but also removes wax buildups that I may have not spread adequately with the Dremel.

The Stanton Vanity pipe came out well.  I’m please with the rim repair that was significant. The removal of the old finish and cleaning revealed a very nice presentation of briar grain – the highlight is the dark knot cluster that almost looks like a thumb print.  If anyone has any leads on more information about the ‘Stanton’ nomenclature I would appreciate a note!  It is good to back to The Pipe Steward work table.  The vast majority of my pipes are put in the store to help benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria, helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited, but this fellow, Stanton, is staying in my collection.  Thanks for joining me!

 

Breathing Life into a Savinelli Capri Root Briar 141KS Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table is another pipe from the estate of a Vancouver pipe smoker whose widow left them with a local Pipe Shop. I was asked to clean them and sell them for the shop. The photos show the pipe when I brought it to my work table. It is a nice Savinelli Capri Root Briar with an almost Sea Rock type finish. The bowl was heavily caked with a lava coat on the top of the rim. It was hard to tell how the inner and outer edge of the rim actually looked until the bowl was reamed. The exterior of the bowl was dirty and covered with grime dust in the deep grooves of the finish. The stem had the same tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button as the rest of the pipes in this estate. There was calcification on the first inch from what looked like a Softee bit. The stem has the Savinelli Shield S logo on the top. The pipe is stamped on the underside of the shank with the words Savinelli Capri over Root Briar. There is a Shield S logo next to that and the shape number 141KS at the shank/stem junction. I have included a Savinelli Shape Chart and circled the 141KS in red. It is a billiard with a tapered stem.I took photos of the pipe when it arrived so I would have a base point before I did any clean up or restoration. When I went back to the States after Christmas to visit my parents and brothers I took a box of these pipes with me so that I could have Jeff clean them for me. When they came back to Canada they looked like different pipes. He had reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to clean off the grime on the finish and the heavy overflow of lava on the rim top. He cleaned up the internals of the shank, mortise and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove all of the oils and tars in the pipe. When it came back to Vancouver it was a quite different pipe. I took pictures of it to show the condition at this point – the bowl looked great and the stem was very oxidized. I took photos of the rim top and the stem to show their condition. Jeff was able to clean out the bowl completely and the rim top. He removed the tars and lava and left behind a clean top that showed all of the original rustication and looked very good. The stem was oxidized and there was tooth chatter and marks on both sides near the button and on the surface edges of the button itself.I am working on five of the pipes from that estate at the same time. I put all of the stems in a bath of Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer to soak. I submerged them all of the stems in the bath and let them soak overnight to break down the oxidation.I took the stem out of the deoxidizer and rinsed it under warm water to rinse off the mixture. I blew air through the stem and ran water through it as well to rinse out the mixture there as well. The stem still had some oxidation spots but it was all on the surface as seen in the first two photos below. I painted the surface of the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the tooth marks. One of the benefits of the lighter is that it burned off the sulfur on the surface of the stem. It did not take too much work for the vulcanite to return to its smooth condition. I sanded out the lighter tooth marks and chatter with 220 grit sandpaper until there were two deep tooth marks on the underside of the stem that remained. I filled those in with clear super glue and laid the stem aside to let the repairs cure. While the repairs on the stem were  curing I rubbed down the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the nooks and crannies of the rusticated briar to clean, enliven and protect the finish. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl now. Once the repairs had dried/cured I sanded them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the bowl. It took a lot of sanding to smooth them all out.I polished out the scratches in the vulcanite with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper and with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. After sanding with the 12000 grit pad I polished the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. With the stem polished I put it back on the pipe and lightly buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond. I buffed the stem with a more aggressive buff of Blue Diamond. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I will be posting it on the rebornpipes store very soon. It should make a nice addition to your pipe rack if you have been looking for a reasonably priced pipe with a Sea Rock style finish. It should be a great smoking pipe with a good hand feel. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 inches. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked this pipe over.

Restoring a Tired House of Robertson Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

Not too long ago I sold one of the House of Robertson pipes to a fellow named John who collects them and lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He loved the pipe that I sent him and wrote and asked if I would be willing to clean up and restore his first House of Robertson (HOR) pipe that had been given to him 30+ years ago by his brother. He said it was a billiard with a mixed finish – both rusticated and smooth. He said he had smoked it heavily as it was a favourite of his and it needed some attention. We made our arrangements and he shipped the pipe to me here in Vancouver. I was looking forward to working on it as I have enjoyed the other House of Robertson pipes that I have restored over the past months.

While I waited for its arrival, between working on other pipes I read over the last restoration blog I had written on an HOR pipe. I thought it might be helpful to add the information I had previously found for those of you who have not read those blogs. “House of Robertson” was in business for many years, but alas, closed their doors in 1999. They were located in Boise, Idaho. They are noted for making rather large and interesting pipes. Thayne Robertson… started the shop about 1947 and his son Jon started working there in 1970 when he finished college, along with Thayne’s daughter. Thayne and his son started making the big pipes at that time, and made them together until 1987 when Thayne passed away. Jon kept the store and his sister moved on to other things. The House of Robertson appears to have closed around 1999. https://pipedia.org/wiki/Robertson

I also received an email from Ed Mitchell from the Boise, Idaho area offering to share some of the history of the shop if I was interested. He was a frequent customer and loves the HOR Pipes. I of course was excited to learn more about the brand so I was looking forward to what he would write. It came in today’s email and I thought you might enjoy Ed’s reminiscences. Thanks Ed for sending me this information.

Hi, Steve

…I do not have any memorabilia, other than a box of two, from the House of Robertson shop. When Jon Robertson closed the store, it caught me by surprise. I do have several of Robertson pipes including a couple that need small repairs. Five or six I bought unsmoked from the widow of one of his Boise customers. The husband apparently was one of Thayne’s many friends and had bought pipes in the course of standing around visiting in his shop. One is a beautiful blond horn that I have saved unsmoked.

Thayne was a bear of a man in his 60s when I met him in the mid-1960s, a great raconteur with strong opinions on politics, religion, people and good pipes. For instance, he hated cigarette smoking; people who popped in to ask for cigarettes were shown the door with instructions on how to find the only other tobacco store in downtown Boise, an institution (still in business) that sold all types of tobacco, men’s magazines and pipes Thayne considered unworthy of any discerning smoker.

Another consequence of Thayne’s hatred of cigarettes was that he created a line of pipes sized and decorated (in some examples with inset bits of bling) for female smokers. He did make pipes in conventional shapes and sizes but preferred big freestyles. I can say I do not remember his ever making two pipes exactly alike. A large part of his business involved creating custom pipes on order. He mailed pipes to customers around the country and internationally. I am not sure what portion of his output was sold outside Boise but I had the impression that it was considerable.

The pipes I remember Thayne smoking in the shop were a couple of huge Oom Pauls about a foot long. The big man liked big pipes, usually loaded with strong English-style or oriental blends. He hooked me on my taste for Latakia tobaccos.

The shop was in one of the long, narrow brick storefronts of the old city core. An old-fashioned glass display case for pipes and accessories dominated the front along with shelves and stacks of at least 50 choices of tobaccos. A narrow flight of stairs led to inventory storage above the dusty workshop located in back behind a curtain.

For a one man shop, Thayne’s output was prodigious especially considering that the individual pipes were unique. His daughter Rosie and son Jon did assist in the shop’s latter years. Both were skilled makers but tended to create more conventionally carved and sized pipes. Most of the pipes made there, even after Thayne died and Jon was doing the work, came from a hoard of old Greek briar Thayne found in Holland around 1970. Some of the bold grain pipes from the latter years were as spectacular as smoking instruments can be. One feature I have never seen is a fill in a Robertson pipe. Thayne liked rusticating briar whenever the grain was flawed or just uninteresting.

Steve, I hope this gives you some brief insight into the House of Robertson. If you have questions to stimulate my ancient memory, I will be glad to try to answer. — Ed Mitchell

When the pipe arrived I took it out of the box to have a look at it and took some photos of it to show its condition before I began. It had a softee bit on the stem that had slid up about ¼ inch up the stem from the button. The finish was dirty and grimy. The rim top was damaged and the bowl was slightly out of round. There was a thick cake in the bowl and a heavy lava overflow on the top of the rim. There was a burn mark that was on the top of the rim at the front and extended down the bowl about a ½ inch. There was a nickel band on the shank that was a typical repair band that is available through repair suppliers. When I examined around the band on the shank end I could not see any cracks in the shank. The band had been cut off slightly so as not to cover the etched House of Robertson name on the left side of the shank. The stem was an obvious replacement that was slightly larger in diameter than the shank. The pipe definitely needed attention. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the damage to the front of the bowl and the general condition of the pipe. The bowl is thickly caked and the rim has an overflow of lava on the rim top.  You can see how the bowl is thicker on one side than the other. The front of the bowl looks damaged as the lava on that portion is different in texture than the hard stuff on the rest of the rim top. The stem was in decent condition – some calcification on the top and underside where the rubber softee bit had been. There were some light tooth marks and chatter on both sides. The stem was lightly oxidized.I did a quick assessment of the pipe and wrote John a quick email about what I saw as I looked it over. I sent my questions to him to see if he could shed any light on what I was seeing. I am including both my questions and his response as it helps clarify what I saw when I examined the pipe first hand.

  1. Is the band something that you added? It appears to be cosmetic but it could be a repair band. They are available through online pipe parts guys and are made out of nickel. I think it is a later addition as it covers the N in Robertson. Do you know if the shank was ever cracked?? I will leave it there as it is a touch of bling.
  2. Is the stem a replacement stem? It is wider is in diameter than the shank and appears to be a replacement. The shank was drilled for a filter stem and this one is not the original as far as I can tell. It is well made and will clean up nicely. I took the softee bit off and will clean it up. I will send the softee back with the pipe.
  3. What is the hard substance in the bottom of the bowl? It appears that someone added some fill to the bottom of the bowl (unevenly mind you) to lift the bowl bottom to the level of the entry of the airway into the bowl. Is this something you added or was it there previously? I can leave it be as it is as hard as concrete. I can also smooth it out a bit with a coat of JB Weld (which is what I think is in the bottom of the bowl already).

John replied to my queries and I am including the pertinent parts of his answers:

To my recollection, the pipe is the same un-worked-on one my little brother gave me 38 or so years ago, bought directly from Mr. Robertson at his shop — I’m assuming it was the father and not the son, but I can’t remember when the elder died.

I may have had it worked on — possibly a new stem — at Jeannie’s Smoke Shop (now sold to newcomers since my friend Jeannie died; the shop still retains the name) in Salt Lake City. I do remember taking it, or possibly another pipe, to the craftsman she employed. If that was the pipe I took in, I don’t think he would have filled the bottom of the bowl, but he may have replaced the stem. I smoked that pipe a lot years ago and may have bit the mouth piece off. If you don’t think the current stem is one that Robertson used and feel strongly that it should be changed out with new, proper stem, do it. But you indicate that the stem is fine and you can touch it up and smooth it out, that’s fine, too. Your decision. And do what you suggested with smoothing the bottom of the bowl and adding the JB Weld coat. I have no idea why that would have been filled in.

I don’t recall adding a band. I don’t recall if the shank was cracked years ago and that I may have asked the guy at Jeannie’s to fix that. Please do whatever you need to do with that part. A few weeks ago, I thought I detected a slight crack, or maybe just a dark line along the shank. You don’t seem to think that a new band is necessary. The last Robinson you sold me has a silver band; my other two do not have bands. But I am reasonably sure the nickel band is what Robertson had on it when he sold it to my younger brother ($50 at the time! — a lot of money for a 19-year-old’s gift to his older brother). Possibly the stem got damaged when Robertson was making the pipe, and that’s the way he fixed it…

I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer – starting with the smallest cutting head and working up to the third one. I cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. Surprisingly there was a rock hard substance at the bottom of the bowl – it looked like JB Weld or something like that. It was rock hard and seemed to have been used to bring the bottom of the bowl up to the bottom of the airway’s entrance to the bowl.I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush. I worked over the rim top with a brass bristle wire brush to break up the lava flow there. I rinsed the bowl with running water and scrubbed it under the water while it was rinsing. The bowl began to look pretty good at this point. The contrast between the smooth band around the bowl and shank with the rustication above and below the band looked really good. The rim top was so damaged with the burn mark and the nicks around the outer edge that I decided to top the bowl lightly to remove as much of the damage as I could without noticeably changing the profile of the pipe. I worked on the inner edge of the rim and the light bevel with 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the inner edge. I used it to also lightly reshape the outer edge of the bowl. You can see from the photos how out of round the bowl edges are outside and inside. I worked on the bevel to work on it and you can see the result in the third photo.I did not want to add stain to the oil finished bowl so I just rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the rustication on the briar. The rustication was well done and looked almost like a sandblast. I also rubbed it into the smooth portions on the band around the bowl, the rim top and the shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers to work it into the rustication. I wiped it off with a soft cloth. I buffed the bowl with a horsehair shoe brush to polish it. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I decided to polish the topped rim top once more using micromesh sanding pads as the balm revealed more scratches in the finish. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down after each pad with a damp cloth. I cleaned out the internals of the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. (I forgot to take photos of the stem after I cleaned it with alcohol and pipe cleaners).I mixed up a small batch of JB Weld to level the previous repair to the bottom of the bowl. I applied it to the uneven area with the end of a small sanding stick. I pressed it into the indentation and smoothed it out with the tip of my finger.I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter, tooth marks and oxidation on the button end. I sanded the rest of the stem to remove the oxidation. The diameter of the stem was bigger than that of the shank so I sanded that at the same time to reduce it to the same size as the shank and reshape it at the junction. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads to remove the scratching. I worked on it until the stem surface was smooth and the marks were less visible. I continued to polish it with 3200-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I wiped it down a final time with Obsidian Oil. I put the stem back on the bowl and worked the pipe over on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond to lightly polish both the bowl and the stem. I buffed the bowl and stem to raise the gloss on the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I don’t think House of Robertson stained the pipes as they have the rich patina of an oil finish. If it had a stain coat it was a tan stain that went well with the rich black of the vulcanite stem. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside Diameter: 1 3/8 inches, Diameter of the chamber: 7/8 inches. This is an interesting piece of briar that shows a mixture of grain on the smooth portions. I really like HOR pipe work the rustication and smooth parts together in unique ways. Once the repair in the bowl cures I will mail it back to John. I know he is looking forward to enjoying it again. Thanks for walking with me through the restoration.

Restoring a Savinelli Churchwarden 3003


Blog by Steve Laug

I finished the restoration work on Mark’s uncle’s pipes and a few of his own and sent them back to him in late January of this year. I wrote a blog on each of the restorations. They were a fun batch of pipes to restore for him. He sent me another package a few weeks ago that had just three pipes in it – A GBD Classic Straight Bulldog, a GBD 9242 Rhodesian (one of my holy grail pipes) and a long Churchwarden pipe that had originally belonged to his uncle. Each pipe had a different set of issues that would provide a variety of challenges. The Bulldog was in excellent condition other than the first ½ inch of the stem missing in chunks. The Churchwarden had a broken tenon that was still stuck in the shank. By far the worst of the lot was the 9242 pipe. When I saw it in the bag I was excited. When I took it out of the bag I was saddened at the condition of the pipe. The bowl was dirty and there was some lava and rim darkening on the top. There were a few nicks in the edges of the bowl. The finish was dirty but the grain on the pipe was really nice. If I had stopped my observation at this point I would have been quite happy.

The second pipe I chose to work on from the batch of pipes was the Churchwarden that had belonged to his uncle. The Prince shaped bowl was in decent condition. The bowl was actually quite clean on the inside but the drilling where the airway entered the bowl was slightly off to the right side of the bowl. Other than having the tenon stuck in it; the shank looked pretty good as well. The rim top was dirty and there was a burn mark on the inner bevel of the left side. The finish was dirty and there were quite a few nicks and dents on the surface of the briar. The shank was stamped on the left side with the words Churchwarden over Aged Briar. On the right side of the shank it is stamped with the shape number 3003 and next to that was the Savinelli S shield. The underside of the shank is stamped Savinelli over Italy. The stem was quite oxidized and pitted. There were tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem at the button. The broken tenon remnants were on the end of the stem. It was broken pretty close to the stem/shank junction.

Sooo… here we go on the second of Mark’s restoration projects. I took photos of the pipe to show what it looked like when it arrived in all of its tattered splendour. The bowl had some beautiful grain underneath the grime. The photos show the stem the broken tenon and how close to the shank it was snapped off. The above photo shows the damage on the rim top to the inner edge. It is a burn mark from repeated lighting of the pipe in that spot. The photos below show the chatter and tooth marks on both sides of the stem at the button.The broken tenon was stuck in the shank when I first tried to pull it so I put it in the freezer for 30 minutes. I tried again using a long drywall screw and was able to get it free with the first try. I went through my jar of replacement tenons and found one that I thought would work. It is a threaded Delrin replacement tenon. Once I had the broken tenon out of the shank I compared them and found that the diameter was the same on both.  I tried it in the mortise and found that it was a perfect fit. Even the length was correct. I flattened the broken pieces on the end of the stem with a Dremel and sanding drum and then on the topping board. I wanted a flush surface to mount the new tenon on and also to have a snug fit against the shank. The airway was not centered in the stem so I had to do a bit of fussing with it to get it ready for the new tenon. I used a sharp pen knife to flare the side of the airway that was off to get it more centered before I drilled. Once I had done that I drilled the airway with a bit slightly larger in diameter than the airway and worked to keep it both straight and centered. This is yet another time I wished I had a drill press.I followed that drill bit with one that was the same diameter as the threaded portion of the new tenon. I sanded the threads to slightly reduce the diameter and pressed it into the stem. The fit was very good. I took a photo of the stem  at this point to show the look of the new tenon.I used black super glue that had a medium viscosity so that I had time to align the stem and the shank before the glue set. Once it was aligned I took a few photos of the fit of the stem to the shank. I would need to make a few minor adjustments but considering how off the airway was the fit was quite good. I carefully removed the stem and set it aside to let the glue on the tenon set firmly. I turned my attention to the bowl. The first item of business for me was to work on the rim top. I cleaned up the flat surface of the rim with 1500-2400 micromesh sanding pads and then shaped the inner bevel of the rim with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to minimize the damage on the right inner edge. When I finished it definitely looked better. I would do a bit of finessing it once I worked on it with the micromesh pads.I decided to address the many nicks, scratches and cuts in the surface of the finish by filling them in with clear super glue. The next series of photos show the many spots on the front and bottom of the bowl.Once the repairs had dried I sanded them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them in with the surface of the bowl. I then wet sanded the entire bowl and rim with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads until the rim and the surface of the bowl was smooth and polished. I wiped down the surface of the bowl with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust between each pad. I decided to highlight the reds in the briar and finish so I stained it with a mahogany stain pen. It looks streaked and poorly applied in the photos but the story is not over yet. I am more interested in getting the bowl covered with a stain that is transparent so when I take the next step the grain will come through the finish. Of course I was in a hurry at this point to call it a night so I forgot to take pictures of the next step. I wiped the bowl down with a cotton pad and isopropyl alcohol to spread the stain and wipe away the excess. When the grain stood out and the repairs remained hidden I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I rubbed it into the finish to clean, enliven and protect the finish. I let it sit for a few moments and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. The photos below show the bowl at this point. Once the bowl was finished I set it aside to work on the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside of the stem at the button. I sanded the entire stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage and oxidation.I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratching and remaining oxidation. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad to remove the dust. I finished polishing the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to remove the rest of the scratches in the hard rubber surface. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave it several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The repairs on the finish blend in really well with the overall finish of the pipe. The new tenon on the stem works very well and is a snug fit in the mortise. It really is a nice looking Savinelli Churchwarden. There is some nice grain on the bowl. This is the last of Mark’s uncle’s pipes and it is ready to head back to Mark for his smoking pleasure. I have one more pipe to fix for him then this one and the others will be in the post back to Mark. I think it is better than it was… thanks for looking.

 

New Life for an Italian Made Harvey Futura Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table is another pipe that came to me from the estate of a Vancouver pipe smoker whose widow left them with a local Pipe Shop after he died. I was asked to clean them up and sell them for the shop as it has since closed. The photos below show the pipe as it was when I brought it to my work table. It is a nicely shaped billiard – with a swirling grain all around the bowl and shank. The unusual patterns of the grain on the briar is unique and a bit captivating. The bowl was heavily caked with a lava coat on the top of the rim. It was hard to tell how the inner and outer edge of the rim actually looked until the bowl was reamed. The bowl was dirty but the finish was still shiny as if it had a top coat of varnish or shellac over the stain coat. The stem had some tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. The push tenon was quite long and stepped down. The pipe had promise it was very dirty. Since it was an Italian Made Pipe I did a bit of research to see if I could find it on the web. I checked on the PipePhil website and it was not listed there. I also check on Pipedia and found a listing under Italian made pipes that read Harvey pipes but gave absolutely no information on the brand. I have a theory that the brand was made by Rossi because I knew that the factory made many pipes for various sellers around the world. I have no proof of it of course but it is a good possibility. I have no idea of the connection between Rossi and Harvey pipes but I sense that there is one.

I took photos of the stamping on the shank to show the stamping around the sides and bottom of the shank. The top two photos show the left side of the shank which is stamped HARVEY over Selected Grain over FUTURA. Both photos show the same stamping with the angle slightly different to give a clear idea. The third photo shows the Made in Italy stamp on the right side of the shank. The fourth photo shows a number stamped on the underside of the shank. It reads 25-853.When I went back to the States after Christmas to visit my parents and brothers I took a box of these pipes to Jeff to clean up for me. He reamed this Harvey Italian Made Billiard with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to clean off the grime on the finish and the heavy overflow of lava on the rim top. He cleaned up the internals of the shank, mortise and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove all of the oils and tars in the pipe. When it came back to Vancouver it was a quite different pipe. I took photos of it before I started the restoration. I took photos of the rim top and the stem to show their condition. Jeff was able to clean out the bowl completely and the rim top. He removed the tars and lava to reveal some peeling of the varnish coat on the rim and some very obvious fills that can be seen in the first photo. The stem was oxidized and pitted. There were scratches, tooth chatter and marks on both sides near the button.I am working on five of the pipes from that estate at the same time. I put all of the stems in a bath of Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer to soak. I submerged them all of the stems in the bath and let them soak overnight to break down the oxidation.While the stem soaked I worked on the rim top with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the peeling varnish and clean up the filled areas. I wiped it down with a damp cloth and dried it off. I repaired the damaged fills with clear super glue being careful to keep the glue in the filled areas alone. Once the glue cured I sanded down the repaired fills with the corner of a filled piece of 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the rim. Once it was smooth I polished the rim with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I used a cherry stain touch up pen to blend the sanded and polished rim top with the colour of the rest of the bowl. Once the stain dried I wax it with carnauba wax and buffed it with a buffing wheel to polish and make it shine.I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the briar. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers and worked it into the finish. I wiped it off with a soft cloth. I buffed the bowl with a micromesh cloth to polish it. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I took it out of the deoxidizer and rinsed it under warm water to rinse off the mixture. I blew air through the stem and ran water through it as well to rinse out the mixture there as well. The stem still had some oxidation spots but it was all on the surface as seen in the first two photos below. I painted the surface of the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the tooth marks. One of the benefits of the lighter is that it burned off the sulfur on the surface of the stem. It did not take too much work for the vulcanite to return to its smooth condition. I sanded out the remaining tooth marks and chatter with 220 grit sandpaper until both sides were smooth at the button. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I used the Before & After Pipe Polish to remove the small minute scratches left in the vulcanite. I finished by wiping the stem down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the pipe and carefully worked the stem over with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This interesting Italian made Harvey Futura pipe came back to life nicely with the restoration. This one will be going on the rebornpipes store shortly. It will be a great yard pipe or working pipe. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 3/4 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.