Tag Archives: Cleaning a rusticated finish

A Brigham One Dot Dublin with a Back Story

Blog by Steve Laug

This old Brigham was the next pipe I brought to my work table. I got a message from Greg on Facebook saying he had been reading one of my posts about a box of estate pipes I had received and he was interested in adding this one to his rack. The pipe was a Brigham One Dot Dublin with a slight bend in the stem. It was an older one made before the manufacture of the pipes was moved to Italy. It has the standard aluminum tenon and filter mechanism of the Canadian made pipes. The finish is rusticated with the classic Brigham rustication on the bowl, rim top and shank. It has one smooth patch on the underside of the shank that is stamped Brigham in script over Canada. There is no shape number or other stamping on the shank.

The pipe came to me in a box of pipes that I inherited from a friend in Ontario. He was an old Anglican priest and we had shared a lot about pipes and mutual calling over the 15 years that I knew him. I repaired, restored and sold many pipes for him and have a few of his previous pipes in my current collection. He was a great guy and he is alive in my memory each time I smoke one of his pipes. When the box came I found that there were 70+ pipes in the box and his daughter included a note that said her dad wanted me to restore them pass some of them on to others. This is the first from that lot that I have restored.The finish was very worn and the outer edges of the rim showed wear and damage. The inner edge worn as well but the bowl was still in round. The rim had a thick buildup of tars and oils that filled in the grooves and ridges of the rim top. The rim had some darkening of the finish as well. The stem was oxidized and had a sticky residue left behind by a price sticker. There were no tooth marks on the stem surface on either side next to the button.The stamping on the underside of the shank was clear but slightly worn. It reads Brigham in script at an angle from left to right and block letters, CANADA underneath. Charles Lemon of Dadspipes has written a helpful blog about dating Brigham Pipes by the style of the stamping on the shank. I turned to that blog to look up information on this particular pipe and see if I could identify the time period. Here is the link; https://dadspipes.com/2016/10/03/brigham-pipes-a-closer-look-at-dots-dates-and-markings//. According to that info this pipe comes from the late Canadian Era 1980-2000. The second close up photo below shows the rim and the cake in the bowl. The end of the Brigham system can be seen poking out of the airway in the photo as well.The next photo shows the tenon and system tube. It was incredibly dirty with a lot of tar and oil on the inside. The pipe had been smoked a long time without the filter in place and there was a lot of buildup in the tube and stem. The shank was also very dirty.The next two photos show the condition of the stem. The oxidation pattern and the sticky label gum on the surface are very visible on the stem. The stem is also clear of tooth marks or chatter on the surface near the button.I reamed back the cake with a PipNet reamer and a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. I used a brass bristle brush to knock off the tarry buildup on the rim top and clean out the crevices and grooves in the rustication.I decided to clean out the interior of the mortise, shank and airway in the shank and stem before going any further with the exterior. I used alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs to scrub out those areas and scrubbed until the pipe was clean. I wiped down the surface of the stem to remove the sticky gum left behind by a label on the top side of the stem.I scrubbed the surface of the briar with Murphy’s Oil Soap, toothbrush and a brass bristle brush to clean out the grooves and cleaning off the dirt, oil and debris on the briar. The bowl and the rim looked significantly better once I had rinsed it off with running water. It was dry and the stain was lightened but it was clean. I decided to work on the stem first so while I did I stuffed the bowl with cotton balls and used an ear syringe to fill the bowl with alcohol. I folded a pipe cleaner and plugged the airway so that the alcohol could draw out the oils in the briar. The second photo shows the cotton after it had been sitting for four hours. When I took the cotton balls out at the 6 hour mark they were exactly as they looked at the 4 hour mark. I was a bit surprised that they were not darker. But then again my old friend smoked primarily Virginias – in fact I don’t think he ever smoked aromatics in the time I knew him.I took out a new maple wood Brigham filter for the system and took a photo of the pipe at this point in the process. I still need to stain the bowl but it was looking better and it smelled and looked clean.I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain and flamed it to set it in the grain. The characteristic blue flame that burns the alcohol out of the stain setting it deep in the grain is a beautiful site to my eyes. I repeated the process several times until the coverage was correct.I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on cotton pads to make a bit more transparent. I wanted the contrast that had originally been on these old Brighams to show through. There was enough dark stain in the deep grooves of the finish to contrast nicely with the new stain coats I gave the pipe. I rubbed the stem down with Brebbia Pipe and Mouthpiece Polish and some Before & After Pipe Stem Polish to remove the oxidation in the vulcanite. It lifted a lot of the oxidation and what was left behind was minor.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad and gave it a final coat of oil after the 12000 grit pad. I set the stem aside to dry. When I finished there still appeared to be a little oxidation at the tenon end of the stem. I was not sure if it was the light from the flash or reality so I took it to the buffer and buffed that area with red Tripoli and repeated the last three micromesh pad grits. I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond to further polish it. I buffed the stem with carnauba wax and gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and with a microfibre cloth to deepen it. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a beautiful pipe and even better in person. Thanks for looking.


One of the surprises found in the craigslist lot – A Castello Sea Rock 15AF

Blog by Steve Laug

One of the surprises in the craigslist lot I purchased was a Castello Sea Rock 15FA military mount billiard. When I saw the photos in the seller’s advertisement I only saw a rusticated billiard and in the way it laid in the pipe rack it was unclear it was a military mount or a Castello. When I got it home and looked at the assortment I was surprised to see that it was indeed a Castello Sea Rock. It is shown in the photo below – the third pipe down on the right side.craig5 I think this must have been a pipe the seller loved as it was well smoked. There was still a bowl of tobacco unlit in the depths of the bowl. The cake was quite uneven but was thick around the top of the bowl. The rim was overflowing with tars and oils to the point that it had clogged the rustication on the top. It was higher in some places than others from the buildup. The outer edges of the rim were knocked about to the degree that it was work and there were scratches and stain missing from the edges. The stem was dirty on the end like it had sported a softie bit and had some calcification on it. There were also tooth marks on the topside and underside of the stem near the button. The button itself had some damage and scratches. The tenon end was also covered with a buildup of calcium on the end around the insert in the end cap.Cas1 The stem had the “diamond” inset on the side that showed that it was originally made for the North American Market. I did a bit of research and found some information on the stem logo. I quote: “American logo’d Castello pipes use a small round “Diamond” (referred to and looking like, but it is NOT actually a diamond) inlaid into the mouthpiece. This was originally done so that the standard Castello white bar logo did not conflict with another brand and logo that was sold by Wally Frank called the “White Bar Pipe” (in the 1950’s).” I also found that “The SEA ROCK [Carved Black or dark brown] is the lowest grade of the Castello line and is the most common in the USA. Sea Rocks are produced by taking a smooth bowl that has not been “final finished” and surface carving the finish with tools. This “carved” finish is then evened out using a steel wire brush, stained and then waxed.” This information was found and condensed from the PCCA Castello Grade & Style Guide – by Robert C. Hamlin (c) 1988, 1992, 1994.Cas2


Cas4 The two photos below show the buildup on the rim more closely. The thick tars and oils over flowed on the top of the rim. You can see that the rustication is buried under the lava.Cas5

Cas6 The next two close up photos show the stem with the bite marks on the top and the bottom side and the calcification on the surface of the stem. In the second photo there is also buildup around the insert end of the stem.Cas7

Cas8 I reamed back the cake to bare wood to remove the uneven surface with a PipNet reamer. I started with the second cutting head and finished with the third cutting head.Cas9

Cas10 I used a brass wire brush and a dental pick to work on the tars on the rim. I scrubbed it and then used a tooth brush to put Murphy’s Oil Soap on the rim. It softened the tars enough that I scrubbed it again with the wire brush and picked at it with the dental pick. I rinsed off the soap with running water and then dried the bowl.Cas11



Cas14 I restained the worn areas on the top of the rim and the outer edges with a Guardsman Stain pen. I used the dark stain pen as it matched the rest of the bowl. Once I had touched up the stain I rubbed the top of the rim with a cotton cloth to blend the stain into the rest of the rim colour.Cas15

Cas16 I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter and the tooth marks. I also sanded the stem to remove the calcification. I then sanded it with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge to reduce the scratching.Cas17


Cas19 I sanded the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each set of three pads.Cas20


Cas22 I also polished the edges of the end cap to remove the worn areas on the surface. I fit the stem back into the shank and hand polished the stem with a cotton polishing cloth. I gave the bowl a coat of Halcyon II wax and buffed it with a shoe brush. The photos below show the pipe after the buff with the brush.Cas23



Cas26 The next close up photo shows the stamping on the pipe. It is stamped CASTELLO over SEA ROCK BRIAR on the flat portion of the shank bottom. To the left of that stamping it reads MADE IN CANTU over ITALY and to the left of it is the number 15 over AF. The end cap is also stamped HAND MADE over CASTELLO over 5.Cas27 The next series of photos shows the finished pipe. I lightly buffed it with a soft flannel buffing pad. It raised the shine on the briar. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond and then gave the stem several coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the entire pipe lightly with the clean soft buff.Cas28




Cas32 After looking at the finished photos I decided to give it a light rubdown with olive oil. I wanted to enliven the finish and what better way than to add some Italian Olive Oil to and Italian briar.Castello1





ADDENDUM: I wrote this while wondering about the 15 AF stamping. I knew that the 15 was the shape stamp but the AF threw me for a loop. I posted on both Smokers Forums and Pipe Smokers Unlimited Forum and asked for help. Many offered suggestions. Several said to write Mike Glukler of Briarblues so I did that. Mike replied fairly quickly that he had no idea about the mystery stamp but sent it on to Marco at Novelli, and Castello collector Dave Peterson. Dave replied that he believes that it stands for Army Fitment. He went on to say that the newer army fit pipes that he has have the letter (SC) size designation and have no AF suffix so he assumes the AF stamp was discontinued in the early 60’s. He also said he would check with some others. So it seems I have a tentative answer regarding the stamping.

ADDENDUM 2: Bill on Pipe Smokers Unlimited wrote to Castello and asked them what the stamping meant. He posted their response this morning:

“Steve here is the Castello response and I think you will be quite pleased and surprised.

Dear Customer,
thank you for your inquiry,
the number stands for the shape 15, the billiard. Then “A” stands for
“amici” = friends, “F” stands for flock.
That is a pipe given to friends (read “not for sale”) with a flock. I
hope it helps.”

You got to love the pipesmoking community and the wealth of information available to us if we ask.