Tag Archives: Cleaning a Meerschaum pipe

New life for a Cased Pioneer Meerschaum Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table this evening is a pipe was purchased from an online auction on 03/10/21 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA. It is a well carved bent billiard pipe that is decorated with unique ovals cut into the meerschaum around the bowl and shank. The rim top and shank end are smooth. The shank is carved with the same unique ovals. The stem is a amber coloured acrylic that is slightly bent. The tenon is a threaded metal that is set in the shank of the pipe that the stem screws on to and aligns well with the bowl. The name Pioneer on the top of the blue box and the  is stamped in gold and also on the satin liner of the lid of the bowl. The pipe sits in a velvet bed that is shaped to hold the pipe. The pipe is made by Pioneer. The pipe had a thick cake in the bowl and lava on the rim top. There was dust and debris in the carving on the bowl and shank sides. Jeff took photos of the box that the pipe came in and the golf stamping on the outside of blue case.He opened the box and took photos of the pipe in the case and the inked logo stamp on the inside cover of the box. He took some close up of the pipe to show the overall condition of the outside of the bowl. You can also see the coloration of the bowl inside of the carved ovals on the finish. He also took a photo of the rim top to show the lava build up on the top and inner edge of the bowl. Jeff took photos of the bowl, rim top to show the thickness of the cake in the bowl and the lava coat on the rim top. The inner edge had some darkening and some build up of tars and oils. All of the issues will become clearer after the clean up. He took photos of the top and underside of the acrylic amber coloured stem showing the tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. Jeff also took some photos of the threaded metal tenon in the shank and the threaded inside of the stem to show the appearance and condition of both.Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of meerschaum and the carving on the sides and heel. You can see the beautiful shape of the bowl and some interesting patterns in the meerschaum even through the dirt and debris of many years. I turned to Pipedia first and did not find any information on the brand. I then turned to Pipephil and found a listing for the brand (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-p3.html). I did a screen capture of the listing on the site. I have included it below. I also have included the information from the side bar of the screen capture above. I would like the pipe in the case to the Pioneer Pipes Co. from Brooklyn, N.Y. I have highlighted the section that is pertinent below in red.

Probably a brand of Pioneer Pipes Co., a Meerschaum and Meerschaum lined pipes manufacturer and distributor. Address (about 1960): 1817 Putnam Avenue, Brooklyn 27, N.Y. Pioneer also used to import meerschaum pipes from the MANXMAN PIPES Ltd factory (Isle of Man, UK) as shown by the markings of this pipe. (See “Man”) Wilczak & Colwell, op. cit. mention pipes with this label from Duncan Briars Ltd, Oppenheimer Pipes or Delacour Brothers.

Jeff carefully cleaned the pipe. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and then cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals of the shank and stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with a Gentle Dish Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the meerschaum and lava on the rim top. The finish looks much better and has a deep richness in the colour that highlights the dimensions of the carving. The there were no chips or cracks in the carving and the sharp edges looked good. He scrubbed the acrylic stem with Soft Scrub to remove the grime and oils on the stem. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver I was amazed that it looked so good. I took photos of the box before I opened it and after to give a sense of what I saw.I took the pipe out of the box and continued with the photos. It is a pretty nicely made bent billiard. The finish is clean and the colouration/patina is already developing on the shank. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. The inner edge of the rim had some nicks and there was darkening on the rim top. The stem had tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the parts of the pipe. I started my work on the pipe by polishing the smooth shank end and rim top with micromesh sanding pads. I used 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the meerschaum down after each pad to remove the dust. It really began to take on a shine.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the bowl and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the smooth surfaces of the meerschaum. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I sanded the tooth marks and chatter smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. It looks significantly better!With the bowl and the stem finished I put the beautiful Pioneer Meerschaum Bent Billiard back together and buffed it lightly on the wheel using Blue Diamond to give it a shine. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel. I buffed the bowl with a horsehair shoe brush to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The carved surface of the bowl and shank is a great looking. The dimensions of the pipe are – Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of this large pipe is 1.27 ounces /37 grams. This Meerschaum Bent Billiard is another great find. It is much more beautiful in person than these photos can capture. I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store soon. If you want to add it to your collection it will make a fine smoking addition. This is another pipe that has the possibility of transporting the pipe man or woman back to a slower paced time in history where you can enjoy a respite. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

Time for a Meerschaum – A Fancy Gold Push Stem on a Meer Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is from a guy in New York that hunts for pipes for Jeff and me. This is a no name meerschaum billiard with a push tenon and mortise. The stem is acrylic and is a swirled golden Lucite. The pipe was one of the cleaner ones that have come our way. There was very little cake in the bowl and just some slight darkening on the rim top and on the inner edge on the left side. The bowl is almost unsmoked it is so clean with a little darkening from one or two bowls being drawn through it. The inner and outer edges of the bowl are flawless without any damage areas as is the top of the rim. The acrylic stem was in excellent condition with light tooth chatter around the button. It is a fancy turned stem the kind that I have seen on freehand pipes before but it actually looks very good with the meer. It hearkens back to the days of amber stems. It is well made and has a very comfortable button and slot. The stem is thin enough that it is comfortable in the mouth as well. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started working on it. He took photos of the rim top to show how clean the bowl was. You can see the fresh meerschaum on the walls of the bowl near the top. There is no cake in the bowl and there is no lava on the rim top.He took a photo of the right side and heel of the bowl to show how clean the externals of the meerschaum are. It is really quite pristine.When Jeff took the stem off the bowl the mortise unscrewed from the shank. He took some photos of the stem with the threaded mortise in tow. The first photo shows the inside of the shank and how clean it is. The third photo shows the threaded mortise with the push tenon inside of it. It will need to be pulled off the push tenon and threaded back into the shank. The golden acrylic stem was in excellent condition other than light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The button was in excellent condition.Jeff had already cleaned up the pipe before sending it to me. He had wiped out the bowl to remove the debris and dust in it. There was no need to ream it as there was no cake. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to clean off the grime off the finish and to see if he could remove some of the darkening on the left side of the rim top. He cleaned up the internals of the shank, mortise and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove any remnants of the few smokes that had been run through the pipe. When it arrived here in Vancouver it was a very clean pipe and really left little to do but work on the stem. I took photos of it before I started my part of the restoration. I took photos of the rim top and the stem to show how clean and almost pristine they were when they arrived. The bowl was spotless and ready to smoke. The stem had some tooth chatter and light marks on the top and underside near the button.I sanded the button and the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and 400 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter and tooth marks.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 after each pad. I gave it a coat of Conservator’s Wax when I was finish and once it dried buffed it off with a soft cloth. I put the stem back on the pipe and the pipe to the buffer. I carefully worked it over with Blue Diamond to polish meerschaum and the acrylic stem. I gave 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. I love the way that the buffer brings a shine to the pipe. I was happy with the look of the finished pipe. The photos below show what the pipe looks like after the restoration. This is a beautiful meerschaum that has not really been broken in. It should colour nicely as it block meerschaum.  The shape of the white bowl and the golden fancy stem are very elegant. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This pipe will soon be added to the rebornpipes online store. If you are interested in adding a virtually new meerschaum pipe to your collection let me know. This one should be a great smoker. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on another beauty!

One of those once in a life time finds – a Long Shank Figural Meerschaum


Blog by Steve Laug

My brother Jeff always comes up with some amazing finds. I am not sure how he does it, but there is never a box of pipes that I get from him that does not have a surprising find in it. In this case we had talked about a meerschaum pipe that he was interested in picking up. I can’t remember where he had seen it but his sights were set on it. He had sent me some photos that he had received from the seller to give me an idea of what I would be dealing with when the pipe arrived. Here are the photos that he sent me. They are grainy and really don’t give an idea of the size and proportions of the pipe. They do however show the issues clearly. The shank was joined in two spots with nylon/Teflon threaded tenons and those had snapped off inside the shank. It also showed that the pipe had been smoked and the rim top was dark. There was some nice patina developing on the shank and bowl. I did not have a clue what the carving on the front of the pipe looked like.The next two photos show some close up views of the damaged areas. The first partially shows the damage of the first broken tenon on two parts of the shank. What it does not show is where the rest of the broken tenon is. I am pretty sure that it is in the other half of the shank. My guess is that somewhere along the way someone tried to take the pipe apart and snapped the tenon.The second photo shows the broken tenon at the bowl shank joint. This one is a bit more disconcerting because not only are parts of the tenon broken off in each side of the shank and bowl but it appears that someone tried to glue the two parts together. I would not know for sure until I had it in hand but that was my guess at this point. We talked about it and Jeff made the deal. Soon I would see the pipe in person.At this point your guess is as good as mine in terms of what the pipe looked like, what face was carved on the front and what the size and proportion were going to be. I had no idea what to expect but Jeff told me that he would send it home with my daughters when they returned from a visit for my Dad’s 90th birthday. Sure enough, he talked them into bringing a few pipes and a rack with them in their luggage. They got home around 11:30pm but that did not stop them from unpacking their bags to show me what they had brought home with them. In my second daughters luggage there was a long trombone shaped case – the case alone is 13 inches long and 4 inches wide at the widest point. It is three inches tall on the thickest portion of the case. It is covered with a black vinyl like many meerschaum cases are these days. I could see that the pipe inside must be a big one. I knew it was the one we had spoken of above but I had no idea what I was in for once I opened the case. Here are some photos of the case and what I saw when I opened it.I put the pipe away because I did not want to be tempted to work on it until I had finished some repairs that I was doing for a guy here in Vancouver. Yesterday I finished the last of his repairs and last evening I took the pipe out to have a look. The end of the shank at the bowl had a piece of the nylon tenon broken off inside of it. I used an easy out and turned it into the tenon until it grabbed then unthreaded the tenon from the shank. One done, and not too difficult.I used the easy out section that held the stem as well. It was also relatively painless. I turned it into the tenon until it grabbed then unthreaded the tenon from the shank piece. Two done, with no breakage and without making things worse!The third section was another story. It worried me because it was the piece that had been glued to the bowl end of the short shank. It had glue on the meerschaum surface that turned out to be rubber cement. I scraped it off and tried to turn that tenon out with an easy out. No success. It was glued in solid in the shank. I took out my cordless drill and fit it with a bit slightly larger than the airway in the tenon and carefully drilled it into the tenon. You have to be careful because one wrong move and the bit could damage the shank piece. Nerve wracking for sure! I was able to drill it carefully and when the bit grabbed I reversed the drill and unthreaded the glued piece from the shank. Success! All of the broken tenon pieces were removed. I could now see what else I had to do on this one.I started by checking out the connections between each section of the shank pieces. It did not take long to realize that the shank portions were made up of shorter spool like sections. I took the spools apart and took a photo of all the pieces. It was an interesting looking pipe. This is also the first look you are all getting of the figural. I think it is called a Courtier. It is a bearded gent with a cap and feather. It is well carved and very detailed.I decided before calling it a night to put the pipe back together again using the pieces of broken tenon that I had to reconnect the parts. I wanted to have some idea of the finished look of the pipe and what the length would be once it was all put back together. It is a long pipe. I measured it once I had it put together and from the tip of the beard to the end of the stem was 17 ½ inches. I truly had no idea this was what it would be when I first saw it in those first photos above. I took a couple of photos to show you what I saw. It is a gorgeous pipe with well done, intricate carvings. Now that all the parts were working I would need to clean them each. But that is it for the night. I packed the pipe back in the case and headed to bed. The first thing I did in the morning was to take some photos of the figural carving. I wanted to have a look before I started the cleanup and have found that taking photos gives me a good idea of what I need to work on with each pipe. Here is what I saw. It was a beautifully carved, ornate piece. There was some patina developing on the shank and the bowl, particularly around the bottom portion and the sharper edges of the carving. The rim top had a bit of lava buildup that would need to be removed along with the cake. Overall this portion of the pipe was in excellent condition. I reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and removed all of the cake. I wanted the walls clean and uncaked. I followed that by sanding the inside of the bowl with a dowel wrapped with sandpaper. I wiped down the inside of the bowl with a damp paper towel to remove the dust and sanding debris. I tried to blow air through the shank and bowl and was surprised that it was clogged and nothing flowed. I unscrewed the shank piece from the bowl and blew through that. It was clear so I knew that the clog was in the bowl portion for sure. I tried to push a pipe cleaner through the airway and met a hard clog. So to open the clog I pushed a piece of stiff wire through the airway and worked it around to clear out the clog. I checked to make sure there was airflow and then cleaned out the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until the airway was clean and there was unrestricted airflow between the bowl and shank. Part one of the airway cleanup was finished and I was ready to work on the rim top.I sanded the lava on the top of the bowl with a 1500 grit micromesh sanding pad and wiped it down with a damp cotton pad. It did not take too much work to get the rim top clean. I cleaned out the grooves in the cap with a damp cotton swab to leave the top surface clean.I polished the meerschaum top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped down the top of the rim with a damp cotton pad after each sanding pad. The following photos show the progress. I cleaned up the shank section that was connected to the bowl. I scraped away the rubber cement on the surface of the shank end and cleaned out the interior with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I beveled both ends of the nylon connector to help with the airflow. Once it was clean I attached the first spool to the bowl portion.It was time to move on to the cleaning of each of the spools that made up the first section of the shank. I unscrewed the parts so that I could better work on them. It is easier to clean up the nylon connectors and the inside of the spool when they are apart. I used a pen knife to lightly bevel and open up the end of each of the connectors to improve the airflow. I cleaned out the airways in each section with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they were clean. I checked the airflow on each section and then put it back together. Now the bowl and the first section of the shank were clean.  I put the spools back together and took a photo of the first section of the shank.I moved on to the cleaning of each of the spools that made up the second section of the shank. I unscrewed the parts so that I could better work on them. It is easier to clean up the nylon connectors and the inside of the spool when they are apart. I used a pen knife to lightly bevel and open up the end of each of the connectors to improve the airflow. I cleaned out the airways in each section with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they were clean. I checked the airflow on each section and then put it back together. Now the bowl and the first and second section of the shank were clean. I cleaned airway in the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol. I used a penknife to bevel the end of the push tenon. I sanded the exterior of the nylon push tenon to remove the buildup and stain that was on the white tenon end. The photo is a bit out of focus but you can see how dirty the airway was inside from the pipe cleaners under the stem.I wiped down the exterior of the stem and found another surprise. There was a hole in the top of the stem next to the button. In examining the hole I found that I was not dealing with a bite mark but with a misdrilled stem. The airway in the button was too high and that left the Lucite material too thin at that point. I took photos of the top and bottom of the stem and of the end view and include them now. The hole is the dark spot on the top side next to the button.I put some Vaseline on the end of a pipe cleaner and inserted it in the airway below the hole in the stem surface. I filled it in with clear super glue. I build up the top of the button and filled in the over-drilled airway in the button at the same time.Once the repaired area cured I shaped the button edge on both the top and the underside with a needle file. I blended the repair into the surface of the stem with 150 and 220 grit sandpaper. 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 it down with a damp cotton pad after each grit. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I buffed the pipe with a shoe brush and finished polishing it with a soft microfiber cloth. Finally the pipe is clean and finished. I polished all of the parts individually with the cloth and took photos of the pipe before I put it together. This is one that I think I will hang on to for my own collection. I have ordered some new nylon connectors to replace the broken ones that I am using to hold it together at the moment. I took photos of the pipe as a whole and then broke it down and put it in the case and took photos of that to close this chapter of the story. Thanks for walking with me through this restoration.

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.

Restoring a Pioneer Block Meerschaum Acorn


Blog by Steve Laug

My friend Steve in Dawson Creek, B.C. sent me a batch of pipes to work on, sort of chip away at when I had some time. Today I had a bit of free time as it is finally raining in Vancouver after 80+ days of no rain. It is cool and comfortable, just the kind of weather that I enjoy. It is also a perfect day for working on Steve’s pipes. The first one I chose to tackle was a Pioneer Rusticated Meerschaum with an acrylic shank extension and stem. There are two smooth panels – one on each side of the bowl. It has a faux plateau on the rim and I think was designed as a bit of freehand. Probably from the 60s or 70s in terms of style but I may be wrong about that. The rustication is very dirty and the rim has heavy overflow of tars and cake that came out the thickly caked bowl. There is a stamped cursive P on the left side of the shank extension and Block Meerschaum stamped on the right side of the shank extension. Both are faded. The stem is also very dirty, oxidized and has tooth chatter. I took some photos of the pipe before I started to work on it to record what it looked like before I started. I wanted to refresh my memory about Pioneer Block Meerschaum pipes so I did a quick Google search and found a catalogue for Pioneer on Chris’ Pipe Pages. Have a look. I have included the back and front cover of the catalogue. The inside can be read on the link below. http://pipepages.com/1pioneer2.html I took a close up photo of the bowl and rim top to show the condition of the rim and the bowl. The cake and the lava were very thick. The finish was dirty. I took photos of the shank extension to try to capture the stamping in the acrylic. The next two photos show the oxidation and tooth chatter on both sides of the stem. It was almost green and there were some oxidation mid stem that looked like oxidized copper. It was almost blue green in colour.I am working on five of Steve’s pipes right now so I put the stems in the Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and left them to soak while I worked on the bowl.I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer starting with the smallest cutting head and working my way up to the third cutting head. I followed that by cleaning back the remaining cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I cut the cake back to the meerschaum walls of the bowl. I used a brass bristle wire brush to dry brush the surface of the rim. It cleans off the buildup of lava and gives me a clean surface to scrub with the rest of the bowl. I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap. I scrubbed until all of the grime was loose and rinsed it under running water. I continue to scrub it in the running water until I was happy with the way it looked. I dried off the bowl and took some pictures of what it looked like at this point in the process. I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. It took a bit of work as the airway in the shank was really narrow from all of the built up tars and oils. I was able to remove all of the debris.I polished the acrylic shank extension with Obsidian Oil and dried it off. Once it had dried completely I used the Rub’n Buff European Gold to touch up the stamping on the extension.I rubbed several coats of Clapham’s Beeswax into the rusticated finish. I buffed it with a shoe brush between each coat. After the last coat of the wax I buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth. I took the stem out of the Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer bath and wiped it off with a clean towel. The first two photos below show the stem after the 24 hour soak. The majority of the oxidation is gone off the stem. There was some deep oxidation mid stem on both sides where the green area was on the original stem photos. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem and the oxidation mid stem. I rubbed down the stem with Obsidian Oil to remove the dust. I cleaned out the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners to remove any debris and the remaining Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer that had gone inside during the bath.I polished the 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 after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. After the final 12000 grit pad I gave it a last coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I buffed the stem with Red Tripoli and worked over the parts of the stem that still showed some of the oxidation. I buffed until the stem was clean working over the middle and the tenon end. I buffed again with Blue Diamond polish on the wheel to polish up the vulcanite. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing wheel. I buffed the bowl with the clean buffing wheel as well to give the bowl a shine. I hand buffed the stem and bowl with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a nice older Pioneer. It is light weight and comfortable in the hand and the mouth. I think my friend Steve in Dawson Creek is going to love this one. Steve,if you are reading this I hope you enjoy this beauty. It will be on its way to you very soon. Thanks for looking.

Jen’s Trove No. 3 – Meerschaum Hand Carved Vineyard Bent Billiard


Blog by Dal Stanton

This is the third pipe I’m restoring for Jen, a colleague working here in Bulgaria.  She handpicked, with great care and deliberation, several pipes from my ‘Help me!’ basket (and boxes) that she desires to present as gifts to the men folk in her family when she returns to the US this summer.  What makes it better, each pipe Jen culls as a gift benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria, our work here with women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thank you, Jen!  The Meerschaum now before me caught her eye very quickly as she trolled through the many hopeful pipes!  I remember acquiring this pipe from eBay last year after communicating a few times with the seller from North Carolina about bundling a few pipes she had on the auction block.  One of those was an attractive French made, Pickwick Arms Bulldog along with the Meer.  This is what I saw, first the Bulldog, still awaiting his turn in the ‘Help me!’ basket and the hand carved Meerschaum.The last restoration I did on a Meerschaum was my first (LINK), when I was challenged with the rebuild of the Bakelite stem using a somewhat experimental method – mixing powdered furniture dye and CA glue to rebuild the stem and most of the button.  Since it was experimental, Steve encouraged me to put it to the test before putting it in The Pipe Steward Store.  I did, the patch has held true, and the beautiful Meerschaum continues as a regular friend in my rotation.  So, the patch works!  And a picture of that eye-catching Meerschaum restoration.With Jen’s Meerschaum on my worktable, I take several pictures to fill in the gaps. The scorch on the rim shows the former steward probably used a lighter over the back to light his tobacco.  The carbon cake buildup in the fire chamber is moderately thick – for a Meerschaum no cake is needed or desired unlike briar pipes.  Meers are popular for this reason – they do not need to be broken in nor do they need to be rested between use.  Smoke a bowl, reload it and he’s ready to go!  I’ll remove the cake bringing it down to the Meer surface.  When I first saw this Meer on eBay, something wasn’t right.  It didn’t take long to determine what was not resonating.  The bend of the Bakelite stem is too much for my taste.  I will see if I can straighten it out a bit – better symmetry!  While there’s no way to tell how old this Meerschaum is, I note that the pipe is fitted with an orific stem – the airway in the button is rounded rather than a horizontal slot.  These stems were mainly used before and during the 1920s when they gradually were replaced by the horizontal slot style. The vineyard carving is very attractive and a classic Vineyard design.  However, I see some damage to a grape cluster ensconced in the rounded fresco on the left side of the stummel.  I take a close-up picture to show this.  The missing grapes aren’t very noticeable – the damage blends quite well as part of the fresco, but I will try to mask it a bit more by doing a bit of Meer sculpting myself. The other potential challenge is the metal tenon/mortise system.  This shows that this pipe has some age as most new Meerschaum pipes I see now in my trips to Istanbul’s markets, are the acrylic push/pull systems.  For the sake of ease of future cleaning, I may go in that direction, but I need to look more closely.  One last thing I see that is good news – there is a bit of the coveted patina developing around the scalloped shank and climbing toward the back of the bowl.  This is good.  This brief description from Meerschaum.com that I’ve previously cited is helpful:

Meerschaum is a very rare mineral, a kind of hard white clay. Light and porous structure of the pipe keeps the smoke cool and soft. The pipe itself is a natural filter which absorbs the nicotine. Because of this peculiarity, meerschaum pipes slowly change their colors to different tones of gold and dark brown. This adds an esthetic enjoyment to its great smoking pleasure. The longer a pipe is smoked the more valuable it becomes due to the color change. Today many old and rare meerschaums have found a permanent place in museums and private collections.I first start with the metal screw in tenon.  I want to see if I can easily remove it and clean it before I try to remove the more difficult mortise receptor.  Carefully, I heat the tenon with a lit candle and counter clock the tenon with needle-nose pliers.  I wrap the tenon with a cloth to protect it from metal on metal scratches.  With little trouble, the heating of the tenon loosens the grip and it easily unscrews holding the tenon/stinger stationary with the pliers and rotating the stem.  Examining the tenon, I can see daylight through it but the slot is very small and clogged with gunk.  I’m not sure it’s possible to run a pipe cleaner through it.  I drop it in alcohol to soak it a bit and then clean it. I dig gunk out of the slot using a dental probe and run a bristled pipe cleaner in it to clean the internal.  The pipe cleaner will go through the slot but not without a good deal of coaxing.  I use a brass brush on the stinger with alcohol and then shine it us with 0000 steel wool.  Since it cleaned up well and a pipe cleaner will pass through it, I will leave well enough alone and use the stinger system. I now turn to removing the carbon cake in the fire chamber.  I insert a pipe cleaner through the draft hole because it was covered by debris.  I discover that the drilling of the draft hole is a bit off center, but this should not be any trouble.  I use the Savinelli Pipe Knife to scrape the carbon buildup off the chamber walls.  It does a great job getting down to the smooth Meerschaum surface.  I follow the reaming by sanding the chamber walls with coarse 120 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen and then with 240 grit paper.  To remove the carbon dust left behind I clean the chamber out with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  The surface in the fire chamber looks great – I can see no problems.  The pictures show the progress. Turning now to the rim.  The backside of the rim is scorched from flame being pulled over it in lighting.  I first use the spittle test to see if I can make a dent by rubbing my own spittle over the surface with my finger.  No progress.  I then use a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% but with results close to spittle.  I then use a medium grade sanding sponge and lightly (very lightly) top the stummel to break up the carbon.  This did the trick.  There is a bit of the carbon scorching left on the inner lip of the rim.  I role a piece of 240 grip paper to cut an internal rim bevel to remove the last of the scorch stain from the Meer.  I like the inner bevel on the rim and I’m pleased with the progress.  The pictures show the progress from the original state. I like working on a clean pipe so I turn now to the internals of the stummel.  I use cotton swabs dipped in isopropyl 95% and pipe cleaners to do the work.  After a bit of effort, also digging and scraping with a spaded dental tool, the cotton swabs and pipe cleaners start emerging clean.  Just a word here that I’ve heard from others, never clean the internals of a Meerschaum using an alcohol/salt soak.  This will have adverse effects on the Meer.  I finish up by shining up the metal mortise receptor with 0000 steel wool. The picture shows the cleaning.With the internals of the stummel clean, I now clean the external Meerschaum surface.  I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with cotton pads and a bristled tooth brush.  I use the brush to clean the sculpted carving lines of the vineyard frescoes. I then rinse the stummel with cool tap water using the bristled brush as I rinse.  Wow!  I didn’t expect cleaning the surface would result in the patina of this Meer Vineyard to pop! The honey brown patina around the shank is more distinct now.  The picture shows the results.With the stummel cleaned, I take a closer look at the damaged cluster of grapes.  The Meer took a hit somewhere along the line.  I think that all I want to do is to smooth out the inside of the damaged grapes.  The round external shaping of the grapes remain and I want to keep them intact.  I know I need to be very careful. I mount a pointed shaping instrument on the Dremel.  I will use the Dremel carefully to remove the rough area and blend it more.  Ok, I’m not a Meer carving master!  What I did was use the Dremel tool to hone out the center of the grapes, then I use a 470 grade piece of sanding paper and ‘feather’ the edges around the damage.  The sand paper has the effect of smoothing the edges around the damage and blending the trauma.  I decide ‘less is more’ and leave it and not fiddle with it too much.  I don’t want to make things worse!  The pictures show my Meer sculpting debut. Now I turn to the Bakelite stem and clean the internals first using different sizes of long, wired bristle brushes.  This set of brushes has come in very handy to ‘plow’ the airway when pipe cleaners won’t break through – usually when stems are clogged up and have more severe bends.  I begin by deploying the long-bristled brushes dipped in alcohol to do the heavy lifting.  Then I follow with pipe cleaners.  After they are coming out clean, I reattach the screw-in stinger and reattach the stem to the stummel to see where things are.  The pictures show the progress. I mentioned earlier that I believed the stem was over bent.  The stem’s bend should flare out and be close to parallel with the plane of the rim.  I will heat the stem up and bring it closer to this ideal.  To keep the airway integrity, I insert a pipe cleaner through the stem.  To help achieve the right angle, I make a sketch on a lined index card to help as a template.  I also notice that the bit is over-clocked just a bit.  I’ll try to straighten that as well.  Since the hour is late, and my workstation is adjacent to where my wife has turned in for the night, I take my heat gun to the kitchen and set up on the counter.  I insert a pipe cleaner through the airway which also serves as a handle to help manipulate the stem as it heats.  With the heat gun on, I rotate the stem over the heat focusing on the bend area.  After a short time, the Bakelite becomes supple and gradually I begin to straighten it while I rotate.  I find too, that pulling on the two ends of the pipe cleaner helps facilitate this.  After reaching where I think I need to be with the bend, I hold the stem under cool tap water to set the bend.  The first time I did this, and compared to the template, I decided I needed a bit less bend.  I repeated the process, cooled with tap water and compared with my make-shift template.  I reassemble the Meer Vineyard and it’s looking good!  I’m happy with the new look of the stem.  The pictures show the process. I want to complete work with the Bakelite stem. There is some very light tooth chatter around the upper bit area and there are ‘stretch marks’ along the area where the tight bend had been previously. Using 240 grit paper, I work on the ‘stretch marks’ on the upper side as well as the teeth chatter.  I follow the 240 by wet sanding with 600 grit sanding paper and then with 0000 steel wool.  At this point I wet sand using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 then I follow with dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  After each set of three micromesh pads I apply Obsidian Oil to the Bakelite stem to revitalize it – and now that I am writing that this is what I’ve done, I’m not at all sure if Obsidian Oil has the same effect on Bakelite as Vulcanite!  Creature of habit.  Following the micromesh cycles, I mount the Dremel with a cotton cloth buffing wheel and apply Blue Diamond compound to the Bakelite stem for a very fine abrasive polishing.  I complete the stem work by applying carnauba wax with a cotton cloth wheel mounted on the Dremel set and speed 2, one notch up from the slowest speed.  The pictures show the stem progress. Turning now to the stummel, unlike briar pipes, Meerschaum does not use carnauba wax to finalize the finish.  The practice of using bees’ wax to shine the Meer is the standard practice.  I went back to a post from Charles Lemon at Dad’s Pipes that I filed to use as my guide (See: Quick Clean-up of a Tulip Meerschaum Sitter).  I mentioned before how Meerschaum pipes change color as they are smoked and this patina increases the value of the pipe.  Not only does bees’ wax shine the Meer but it also enhances the growth of the patina as one smokes the pipe and the tobacco oils are absorbed. I reattach the stem to the stummel, but place a pipe cleaner between the stem and shank to tighten against – creating a gap so that I don’t get wax on the stem and the stem acts as my handle.  From the last time I did this, I had congealed bees’ wax that I had melted in a mason jar.  I use the hot air gun and reheat the wax until it liquifies, and then I warm the stummel with the air gun.  Using a cotton swab, I paint the stummel with the liquified bees’ wax and am careful to work it into all the nooks and crannies of the vineyard frescos carved into the Meerschaum.  After this is completed I put the stummel down on a cloth for it to dry.  I must say, this time was much easier than the last time when it was in the middle of the Bulgarian winter and the wax cooled and congealed before I could apply it!  I use a clean cloth to remove gently the excess wax then I buff up the shine using a micromesh cloth. The pictures show the bees’ wax application.

I’m pleased with the bees’ wax application.  The Meerschaum absorbed and colored in ways that I wasn’t expecting.  The rim absorbed a great deal and the patina looks great around the stummel.  This Meerschaum hand carved Vineyard has a bit of wear and tear character, with some missing grapes, but he’s ready to go.  With time, his patina will only deepen and increase the attractiveness of this classic Meerschaum carving.  I’m glad that this Meer will be put back in service with one of Jen’s family members.  Her gift benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria, our work with women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  For more information, check out my blog, The Pipe Steward.  Thanks for joining me!

 

 

This is one Beautiful Meerschaum – a Lattice Billiard with a 1/8 bent stem


Blog Steve Laug

I have no idea who carved this Meerschaum Billiard but the tear drop cuts in the outer finish of the bowl and the swirls and circles that work around the tear drops and up the shank give the pipe a look of grandeur. The rim is smooth underneath all of the tar and oil build up and the bowl is already colouring. The shank has picked up some darker amber hues and the underside of the bowl also has colour. The stem has a push tenon and the amber swirl acrylic of the stem works well with the bowl as it is colouring. The stem has some whites, creams and varieties of amber colouring that are really beautiful. The bowl had a slight cake build up and the shank was dirty with oils. The push tenon was discoloured and the threads into the stem were also black and dirty. The stem had some tooth chatter on the top and bottom sides near the button. The pipe came in a red artificial leather case lined with a plush cream coloured fabric that the bowl sat against. The case was in good shape externally and the inside had flecks of dirt and tobacco ash on the surface.Amber1 Amber2I took a close-up photo of the bowl and rim to show the cake and the build up on the rim top. The inner and outer edges of the rim were in great shape. There was a slight crown to the rim curving from the inner edge to the outer edge giving it a rounded look. Amber3I took some photos of the pipe out of the case to give a clear picture of the condition of the pipe. The stem is quite beautiful and will clean up nicely.Amber4 Amber5 Amber6 Amber7I decided to gently top the bowl – not removing any meerschaum but removing the hard tar build up on the rim face. I used a medium and a fine grit topping sponge to break through the tars. It did not take long before I had the surface back to its original smooth and clean state.Amber8 Amber9I carefully reamed the bowl with a pen knife. I scraped the cake back to the smooth meerschaum surface.Amber10I scrubbed the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and cotton pads to remove the dirty spots on the bowl. I wanted to remove these soiled areas and leave the patina intact so the Murphy’s Soap works well for that. I scrubbed the bowl with undiluted soap and then rinsed it with a wet cotton pad to remove the soap left behind.Amber11I cleaned out the shank and the inside of the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs and was surprised at how clean it was. It did not take much to clean up the airways.Amber12I sanded the tooth marks next to the button on both top and bottom of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and removed all sign of the marks. Fortunately they were not deep marks.Amber13I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. Amber14While I was sanding the stem I tried to unscrew the push tenon and to my surprise it came out easily. This allowed me to clean out the end of the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs to remove the black tars that had built up behind the threads in the end of the stem. I scrubbed the threads on the tenon with a brass bristle brush and wiped them down with alcohol.Amber15 Amber16I lightly sanded the darkened areas on the push tenon with the micromesh sanding pads to remove any build up that was present. I dry sanded the stem with 3200-4000 grit micromesh sanding pads and wiped the stem down with the Obsidian Oil to give me some bite with the final micromesh pads. I completed the sanding with 6000-12000 grit pads.Amber17 Amber18Before put the stem back in place in the shank I took a closer look at the end of the tenon. There was some writing on the meerschaum on the top right side. It appears to be the numbers 106 but I am not sure. Anyone have any ideas what that might signify??Amber19I put the stem in place and wiped the bowl and stem down with a soft microfibre cloth to give it a little shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The colouring on the shank of the meerschaum matches nicely with the colouring of the swirled acrylic stem. The rest of the meerschaum looks clean with a slight darkening that gives it a cream colour.AMber20 Amber21 Amber22 Amber23 Amber24 Amber25I cleaned the inside of the case with a brush to remove the lint and the tobacco bits that were on the material. It came out quite well. The pipe is cleaned and ready for an inaugural smoke. Thanks for looking.Amber26