Blog by Steve Laug
Yesterday I picked up this beautiful little Sasieni Mayfair. It is stamped Mayfair on the left side of the shank and London Made on the right side. The bowl was tarry with a sticky aromatic and the top had been burned on the front side and then poorly topped to get rid of the burn. This left the bowl slanted toward the front side where the burn had been. The rim was also covered with the aromatic goo. The stem was tight but I was able to remove it from the bowl at the shop and found the typical stinger apparatus intact. It was a flat metal blade that ended in a round tube that inserted into the tenon. The tube was slotted to allow the smoke to pass into the airway of the stem. The stem was slightly oxidized and had a tooth mark on the top and the bottom of the stem. Other than those things it was a nice piece of briar and the finish was actually in excellent shape. There were several small sandpits on the bottom of the bowl but they did not detract from the beauty. The shape is kind of a cross between a Prince and a Rhodesian. The shank is a pencil shank. Dimensions for this little pipe are: length 5 ½ inches, height 1 ¼ inches, bowl diameter ¾ inches, bowl depth ¾ inches, shank diameter 3/8 inches. The two photos below show the pipe as it was when I found it. We went for supper at a Mexican Restaurant and I took these photos on the table top.
This morning I went to work on it. I took the following photos on my work table. The first three show the externals of the pipe. The damage on the rim is visible as is the state of the bowl. In the third photo note the angle of the bowl top in comparison to the one above it in the second photo. The angles are different and the bowl top is slanted toward the left and the front of the bowl.
I took the pipe apart to check on the internals and remove the stinger apparatus. The next two photos show the top and bottom of the stinger. It is also clear in these two photos the damage to the right inside edge of the rim as well. It is slightly out of round.
I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer using two different cutting heads. I start with one size smaller than the diameter of the bowl to start the reaming. I then follow-up using the correct size cutting head in the bowl. I find that it is easier to cut the cake carefully and not do any further damage to the roundness of the bowl.
Topping the bowl on this one was a bit tricky. I needed to take down the back left side of the rim and even out the back side of the rim without removing any from the front edge. I used the flat hard surface that I always use for topping. I held the bowl with the back side pressed into the sandpaper and the front edge off the paper. I move the bowl right to left across the sandpaper checking to see the effect (photo 1 below). I did not want to make the top worse than it already was. Once I had the back left and right sides even and the front and the back even I was ready to do a slight topping on the bowl to even it up neatly (photo 2 below).
At this point I sanded the top a little more to clean off the burn damage on the front of the bowl. Once I had that minimized I sanded the top with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge until the scratch marks were gone. I also used the Dremel to even out the diameter of the bowl and bring it back into round.
I then removed the stinger apparatus and cleaned it with alcohol and cotton pads. I picked the slot clean with the dental pick. I did not intend to use it on the pipe once it was clean so I put it away in case I sold the pipe and the new owner wanted the stinger.
I set up the retort and filled the test tube with isopropyl alcohol and boiled out the inside of the bowl and stem. The next four photos show the set up and the process. I heat the alcohol with a tea candle and once the alcohol has cooled from the boil it returns back to the test tube and carries the oils and tars of the bowl and shank with it. I repeated this process twice.
I cleaned up after the retort with pipe cleaners and Everclear. Both the stem and the shank were cleaned of all the internal grime. The pile of pipe cleaners in the picture below show the sheer volume of pipe cleaners used in cleaning up after the retort. Once this was finished the interior of the shank and stem were clean and pipe cleaners came out pristine.
It was time to work on the stem. I ran the flame of a Bic lighter across the tooth marks on the topside and bottom side of the stem until they lifted. I then sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the remaining signs of the marks. And then I sanded the entire stem with a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the oxidation and to deal with the scratch marks from the sandpaper.
I stained the top of the bowl with dark brown aniline stain that I thinned 2:1 with isopropyl to match the colour of the bowl and shank. I flamed it and then repeated the process until the colour was an exact match to the rest of the pipe.
I took the pipe to the buffer and buffed the bowl with White Diamond to shine up the bowl and the newly stained rim. I also buffed the stem with Tripoli and White Diamond at the same time to further shine the stem. The four photos below show the buffed and polished bowl and stem after the White Diamond buff.
I took the pipe back to my desk and sanded the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I worked through the various grits of micromesh from 1500-12,000 to polish the stem.
I gave the entire pipe another buff with White Diamond and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it to a shine with a clean flannel buff. The final four photos show the finished pipe.