Blog by Steve Laug, Jeff Laug, Paresh, Abha and Pavni Deshpande
The final restoration project with Paresh and his family was this tired and worn Cavalier pipe. When we looked at it together we were all pretty certain that it was never going to amount to much no matter how much we worked on it. We purposely saved this pipe to the end of the visit to use it to pull together all that we had learned over the week together. The only sad part of the restoration was that Dal Stanton had already left to go back to Bulgaria. It was yet another East and West adventure in pipe restoration. As I mentioned in the previous blog on the Preben Holm, my brother Jeff and I had traveled to Pune, India where we met Dal Stanton of Pipe Steward and had an incredible visit with Paresh Deshpande, his wife Abha and his daughters Mudra and Pavni. With that cast of players – from the US, Canada, Bulgaria and India it was a special and memorable week of fellowship and pipe restoration. Each of us (minus Dal) played a role in this restoration. I will try to include the contribution of each in the story as it unfolds.
Lest you might think that all we did was work on pipes, I must remind you you that while staying in Pune we enjoyed the sights of the city, fellowship and great food along with working on pipes together even after Dal left. Paresh and his family did a magnificent job of hosting the event and making us all feel like we were part of his family. The hospitality, the amazing food provided by Abha and the joy and laughter of Mudra and Pavni were all part of making this an unforgettable visit. In the next weeks there will be several blogs written about the pipes that we worked on. Dal is working on a blog about the restoration of a BBB bent billiard that had belonged to Paresh’s grandfather that was a real group effort. Both Paresh and I will also be posting blogs on some of the other pipes that we worked on together including meerschaums and briars. We thoroughly enjoyed the time together while smoking our pipes and sharing beer and scotch to celebrate each restoration and to close each day. We exchanged tips and processes that we used. It was a time of sharing and learning for all of us.
The blog I am writing now was on the restoration of a worn and tired Cavalier that came from Paresh’s Grandfather’s collection. Like the rest of the pipes in his Grandfather’s collection the pipe was very dirty but to me it showed some promise. I had never seen a pipe like this with detachable briar parts, a metal shank and a horn stem. It was an interesting piece that showed an interesting grain under the grime. The stain colour was a contrast of browns and the brass band on the top of the shank was a nice addition. The rim top was almost destroyed. There were cracks and a portion of the top was burned away. The bowl was out of round and had a thick cake. The inner and outer edge of the bowl showed the damage of burning and poor reaming. The exterior of the bowl and shank showed a lot of wear and dirt. There was a metal tube pinched on between the bowl and the upright shank. It was hard to know what the tube was and if it matched the brass band. There was also a bone ball cap on the end of the shank in front of the bowl that was worn but still whole. The horn stem had some tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside and some wear on the button edge but otherwise it should clean up nicely. Paresh, Abha, Pavni and Jeff and I all turned the pipe over in our hands wondering what we were going to do with it. It needed a lot of work and would never be flawless. But we decided to go ahead with the restoration anyway and see what we would get. We took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show the parts and the condition. I took a photo of the top of the bowl to capture the damage to the rim top and the cracks in the bowl radiating down the sides. I took photos of the shank extension and the horn stem on the end to show its condition as well. The shank extension and stem were in decent condition so that was a blessing to be thankful for at this point in the process. I took photos of the sides of the bowl to show the cracks that surrounded the pipe – both width and depth. We took the pipe apart and took photos of all of the parts. It later became clear that the cap on the bottom of the shank also was removable but at this point it was solidly in place and could not be removed.I started the cleanup process by topping the bowl on this old timer before Paresh and his family arrived at the apartment for the day. I topped it on topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I scrubbed the exterior of bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a cotton pad to remove the grime. I rinsed it off with warm water to remove the soap and grime. About that time Paresh and his family arrived for the day’s work. He and Abha looked the bowl over and Pavni agreed to sand it out on the inside. But before any of that could happen we needed to drill small holes at the end of each crack. Paresh used his magnifying glass and a black permanent marker to put spots on the end of each of the holes. These would guide us as we drilled each of them. It turned out that each crack had several branches radiating from them and would require a lot of drilling. After marking each crack Paresh drilled a small hole in the end of each one. I wiped the holes down with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove the debris. We filled in each of the holes and the cracks with clear super glue and briar dust. We packed the glue into the holes, repeated the glue and added more dust as necessary to build up the repairs. When the repaired areas had dried I used a needle file to smooth out the repair and blend it into the surface of the briar. I sanded the repaired areas with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to further blend them into the surface of the surrounding briar. Overall the patches and repairs were looking pretty good. I was surprised by how good the pipe looked.
While I was working on the bowl Paresh addressed the issues with the stem. He cleaned the interior with pipe cleaners and alcohol and scraped the buildup on the stem surface with the blade of an exacto knife. He cleaned up the straight edges of the button with a needle file and reshaped the surface of the button at the same time. He followed that by sanding it with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the file marks. He filled in the deep tooth marks on the stem surface and on the button top with clear super glue. When the repair had dried he sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it out. While Paresh was working on the stem, I finished the repairs and sanding on the bowl. Then I turned my attention to the shank piece. I cleaned it out with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I wiped down the outside of the shank with Murphy’s on cotton pads. I finished this section about the same time that he finished the stem work.I worked on that and simultaneously to Paresh and my work, Jeff was working on the shank portion. He scrubbed the briar and the metal with oil soap. He worked over the metal shank piece with 0000 steel wool and we were all surprised with the copper that was under the oxidation. The shank band was also loose so he cleaned that as well. It was brass. Abha and Jeff went to work on cleaning the inside of the parts of the shank. Many pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol later the interior was pretty clean. They tried to remove the knob at the end of the shank but it did not come loose at all. No matter how much they worked on it the knob was still tightly in place.Paresh decided to give the knob a try. He painted the edges around the know with alcohol and scraped the crud that was built up around the joint between the two parts. He kept at it and then low and behold the knob turned and came off in his hands. What was revealed was a lot more of the crud that Jeff and Abha had been removing. Abha cleaned out the inside of the cap and the threads with cotton swabs and alcohol. Once the inside was cleaned and the threads were cleaned they were able to finish cleaning out the inside of the shank.I put the shank pieces together and glued the clean brass band on the top of the shank. The pipe shank and parts were looking pretty good at this point. There was still a lot of polishing to go but the Cavalier was going to look very good. We took the pipe apart and began the process of polishing the briar and stem. I worked on the shank and stem. For ease of sanding I put the stem on the shank and polished the stem and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down with a cloth after each pad. Paresh carefully reamed the bowl with a Castleford Reamer. We worried as he turned the cutting heads that the bowl would split but all remained intact as he cleaned it out. Pavni polished the inside of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the walls and give them a shine. Paresh polished the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. He wiped it down with a cloth after each set of pads. The photos show the growing shine of the bowl. I polished the cleaned knob with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. Paresh polished the shank parts with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. The briar began to come alive again. With all the parts polished it was time to take the next step. We rubbed down all of the parts with Before & After Restoration Balm. We buffed it by hand with a microfibre cloth. We put all the polished and “balmed” pieces together on a background and showed what the pipe looked like now.We put the pieces back together and took photos of the pipe at this point. We called it a day and Paresh took the pipe home with him. He wanted to polish it and wax it with his Dremel. He buffed it with White Diamond and gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. When he brought it back the next morning it was a beauty. We took pictures of the finished pipe to show its beauty. The pipe really looked more alive, with the grain popping through. We decided not to stain it but left it as it stood after using the balm. The polished wax made the grain stand out. What started out as a possibility now became a reality. Paresh could now smoke and enjoy both the history of the pipe and carry on its legacy. The photos below tell the story. Thanks for looking.