Tag Archives: CAO Meerschaum pipes

Refurbishing a CAO Meerschaum Bent “Teacup” Sitter


Blog by Steve Laug

Jeff sent me this CAO Meerschaum Bent Sitter not too long ago. I am guessing it is from the 80s as it has that particular style of bent, thick Lucite stem. The shape is similar to the teacup shape that I have seen in briar pipes. Others might call it an egg shape. The finish is quite clean. The egg portion of the bowl is colouring toward the bottom of the bowl and the base. The base and the shank are more of a butterscotch colour. The rim top had some lava on the back edge of the bowl that had overflowed from the cake in the bowl. The stem is a swirled pearl colour varying from golds to creams colours. The button and slot itself were clean. There was some light tooth chatter on both sides of the stem near the button and there were light tooth marks as well. Jeff took some photos of the pipe from various angles before he started the cleanup. He did his usual thorough cleanup of the pipe. He reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to scrape out all of the cake. He scrubbed the internals of the pipe with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime in the finish of the bowl. He was able to get much of the lava off the top of the rim. He rinsed the pipe with warm water to remove the soap and dried it off with a soft cloth. I took photos of the pipe when I received it to show its general condition. It is an interesting pipe. I took close up photos of the bowl, rim and the tooth marks on both sides of the stem just ahead of the button. The first photo below shows the clean bowl and rim. There are some small remnants of lava on the rim but the edges of the bowl are clean. The second and third photos show the tooth marks. They were not very deep but were visible. The fourth photo shows the circular CAO brass medallion on the left side of the saddle stem. I removed the stem from the bowl. At first I thought the tenon was threaded, but I knew that generally CAO Meerschaum pipes had a push stem. As I examined it I could see that the Delrin insert had unscrewed from the shank of the pipe and that the push tenon was inside of it. I screwed the stem back on the pipe and turned the stem the opposite direction and it came out easily. The photos below show both views of the stem and tenon.I polished the rim top and bowl with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. I dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. Again, I wiped it down with a damp cloth. I buffed it with a microfiber cloth. I sanded out the tooth marks on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper until they were not visible any longer.I ran a few pipe cleaners with alcohol through the stem to clean out the sanding dust that had gotten into the airway. I cleaned out the slot with the pipe cleaners to remove grime from the corners.I polished the scratches left behind by the sandpaper with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each pad. I put the stem back on the bowl and lightly buffed it on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond to lightly polish it. I buffed the stem to raise the gloss on the acrylic. I gave the stem 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. The variegated colours of the meerschaum progressing from a golden brown to a light tan colour go well with the rich variations of the brown, gold and tan acrylic stem. The polish and the reworking of the stem material left this a beautiful looking pipe. I will be posting this pipe on the rebornpipes store very soon. It should make a nice addition to the next pipeman’s rack and in purchasing it you can add your story to the ongoing story of the pipe. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside Diameter: 2 1/4 inches, Diameter of the chamber: 3/4 inch. If you are interested in purchasing this pipe email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.  

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Refreshing a Damaged CAO Lattice Meerschaum Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

We probably paid too much for this beautiful meerschaum pipe but the shape and the carving are so unique that we had to buy it. It is made by CAO and is a shape I would call a Grecian urn. It has lattice carving around the bowl side and the rim is smooth. The shank has a pattern that looks a lot like scales and swirls. There was some very nice colouring happening on the shank and lightly on the bowl sides and rim. There was a cake in the bowl and some lava overflow on the rim top. There were some missing separators between two of the lattice windows but otherwise the bowl was undamaged. The stem was Lucite and had a round brass CAO logo on the top left side of the saddle. The stem had metallic gold flecks mixed in with the Lucite so that it had a natural sparkle to the reddish amberlike stem. There were not any tooth marks or dents on the stem surface but there were small scratches in the Lucite. There was also some wear and tear to the sharp edge of the button that would need to be cleaned up. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started the cleanup. The next series of close up photos show the condition of the bowl and rim and the overall condition of the bowl sides. You can see the bowl and cake with the overflow of lava on the rim top. There is also some fuzz that has attached to the cake. It was a dirty bowl. The sides of the bowl look very good other than the damage to the separators between three of the tear drops in the lattice work on the front of the bowl. The second, third and fourth photos below show the damaged portion circled in red. Other than that damage to the front of the bowl the rest of the carving is in excellent condition. The pipe, though imperfect will nonetheless be a beautiful addition to someone’s collection. They will just have to overlook the damaged area and enjoy the pipe.The connector between the shank and stem is a push tenon. There is a Delrin insert in the shank of the pipe and a Delrin tenon threaded into the end of the stem. It is dirty and stained but is undamaged.The round brass logo is dirty but it is undamaged. It is inset into the left topside of the saddle stem. The surrounding stem is quite dirty but there is no damage.The next two photos show the condition of the top and underside of the stem. You can see the metallic sparkles in the saddle portion and the scratches in the Lucite.Jeff carefully reamed out the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and took it back to the bare meerschaum walls. He scrubbed the rim top and scraped off the lava on the surface with a knife. He carefully cleaned the exterior of the bowl with a damp cloth to avoid further damage to the front of the bowl. He cleaned out the shank and airway in the bowl and stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He cleaned out the recessed area around the inset tenon in the stem with alcohol and cotton swabs. He washed the exterior of the stem with clean water. I took photos of the pipe when I brought it to my work table to show the condition of the pipe after Jeff’s work and before I polished it. I took a photo of the rim top to show how well it cleaned up. Jeff did a great job getting rid of the lava overflow. I also took a photo of the cleaned up damaged area of the bowl.The stem cleaned up really nicely. The gold flecks in the Lucite really stand out now and the gold/brass logo inset looks really good now. The stem should polish up nicely.The mortise insert in the shank had a ragged edge to it. I used a sharp knife and a pen knife to clean up the ragged end. I wanted a smooth fit in the shank. Once I had finished that part of the shank and sanded it down I worked on polishing the rim and ring on the top of the bowl. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim down after each pad with a damp cotton pad. I polished out the scratches and marks in the metallic Lucite stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cotton pad after each sanding pad. I lightly buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. After the final pad I wiped it down with a damp pad and rubbed it down with a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully worked the pipe on the buffing wheel with a clean pad. I used a gentle touch on both the meerschaum and the Lucite stem so as not to damage either of them. I gave the meerschaum bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed it with a shoe brush and a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. Even with the damaged area on the front of the bowl it still looks better than it did in the beginning. The unique shape and lattice work carving work together to make this a beautiful pipe. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inch, Diameter of the chamber: 3/4 inches. I will be adding this one to the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. It will make a fine addition to the rack. If you are interested email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

Cleaning up and reworking the stem on a CAO Meerschaum Lace Calabash


Blog by Steve Laug

One of the pipes that my brother in Idaho found was this lace carved Meerschaum Calabash that he bought for me from an auction house near his home. The pipe came in a well made case that was lined with yellow gold velvet. It bore a decal that read CAO in the centre of the circle and around the edges it read Handcrafted of the Finest Block Meeerschaum by CAO. The exterior of the case is covered in black leather with a brass hinge at the top and latch on the bottom edge. The case itself is in good shape with some scuffs on the top and bottom surfaces of the sides. The photo below is the one taken from the advertisement for the auction.CAO3 The pipe is a very well carved meerschaum. The lattice or lace work is very well done. The rim of the bowl had some darkening and tars that would need to be cleaned off. There was a light build up of cake in the bowl. The meer itself was beginning to colour and show some depth of golden brown on the sides of the bowl and the shank. The stem was Lucite but was poorly fit to the shank. It was larger in diameter than the shank and still had sanding and file marks on the stem. The CAO emblem had been pressed into the side of the stem and the Lucite had bubbled around the circular logo. The button was not well cut in the stem and the slot in the end was rough and still had sanding marks and file marks in it as well.CAO4

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CAO7 I took some close up photos of the stem to show some of the scratching and dullness of the stem material, the poorly cut button and the bulging of the stem material around the shank. The shoulders of the stem were rounded rather than flat and the transition to the shank was not smooth to the touch.CAO8

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CAO11 I removed the stem from the shank and sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the rounded shoulders and reduce the diameter of the stem to match the shank. I sanded carefully to keep from rounding the shoulders even more. My goal was to smooth that out and flatten the transition area. I also sanded around the CAO logo to remove the wrinkles or bubbling of the stem under the inset emblem. I also sanded the inside of the slot and the Y shaped flow into the airway in the stem. I sanded the entire stem to remove some of the scratches and to even out the flow of the stem. I also worked on thinning down the edges of the stem and giving it sharper edge.CAO12 I used a blade shaped needle file with a flat face and edge to square up the button angles on the stem surface.CAO13

CAO14 I carefully reamed the cake from the bowl with a pen knife taking it back to the smooth surface of the meerschaum bowl.CAO15 I continued to shape and refit the stem to the shank with the 220 grit sandpaper and a medium and fine grit sanding sponge.CAO16

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CAO19 I cleaned off the tars on the rim with a cotton swab and saliva until all of them were gone. I removed them to reveal a darkening amber colour around the inside of the rim cap.CAO20 I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and wiped it down with oil to give it a bit of bite before continuing to dry sand with 3200-4000 grit pads. I finished by sanding with 6000-12000 grit pads.CAO21

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CAO23 I lightly buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the wheel to polish it before giving it several coats of carnauba wax. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth and hand buffed the bowl with the same cloth. The CAO emblem is very clear and the wrinkled surface around the emblem is smooth. The rounded shoulders of the stem have been smoothed out and flattened. The cleaned up button edges gave the end of the stem a very sharp look. The slot was smoothed out and broadened. The finished pipe is shown below.CAO24

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CAO30 The final photo is of the pipe in its case. It is picking up the yellow colour of the velvet lining of the case. The photos above show the current colour of the pipe more accurately.CAO31