Tag Archives: cleaning up a cavalier pipe

Restoring an interesting old Bakelite Cavalier


Blog by Steve Laug

One of the sellers I follow on eBay often has unique older pipes that catch my eye. I can’t remember how long I have been following him but it has been quite a while now and I have purchased many pipes from him. When this old style cavalier came up for sale on his page it caught my eye and I wanted to add it to the collection. There were no distinguishing marks on the stem or shank. It was identified as a no name Cavalier. The bowl appeared to be briar though I was not certain of that. The base unit was one integral piece from the tip of the cavalier end to the end of the preformed button. The bowl looked like it had been smoked as there was a cake in it that had run over like lava on the rim top. It had a small nick in the side of the bowl that can be seen in the first photo below. The stem looked to be oxidized but I was not sure what the material was – it could have been vulcanite or even Bakelite. I would know more when it arrived in Vancouver from England.The second photo shows the delicate look of the bowl and the base. There is something simple and flowing about the pipe. It is that look that caused me to bid on the pipe. It just flowed nicely from the button to the end of the base.While I waited for it to arrive I did a bit of research on the web. I checked my favourite site for metal and non-metal pipes that have either threaded or push fit bowls. I was not sure what I was dealing with on the above pipe because there were no photos of it with the bowl removed. My guess was that it was a push fit bowl. I did find a similar looking pipe on the Smoking Metal website. The link is http://www.smokingmetal.co.uk/pipe.php?page=325 and the pipe bears the stamp L.M.B. in a rectangular banner on the left side of the shank. The bowl looks identical to the one that I picked up and the base had a very similar shape. I would be able to tell more about it when it arrived.When the pipe arrived I was in Europe for work so it sat for three weeks. When I got home I opened it to see what I was dealing with. I took some photos of the pipe before I started to work on it to show what it looked like when I began. I was not sure what the stem and base was made of – I was leaning toward Bakelite rather than vulcanite but the cleanup would verify. I took a close up photo of the bowl and the rim. The bowl had an uneven, thick cake that all but clogged the air hole in the bottom of the bowl. The rim had a lava overflow that covered the flat surface.The stem and base were oxidized. It had the brown tint of oxidation. I still wondered if the stem was vulcanite or if it was Bakelite. I dropped it in a container of Before & After Deoxidizer to let it soak.When I took it out of the Deoxidizer the oxidation was gone and the underlying colour of the stem and base unit was a rich dark brown. It turned out to be Bakelite not vulcanite. It would clean up nicely and be a beauty. I cleaned out the airway and the inside of the base of the pipe with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the build up inside. It took a bit of work before I could remove all of the grime. I reamed the bowl and scraped the tars off the rim top with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. It took a bit of work to scrape away all of the buildup and the lava overflow. I used a bristle brush to clean out the airway in the bottom of the bowl and remove the clogged hole. I wiped the bowl down with an alcohol dampened cotton pad to remove the grime on the bowl. The wood underneath did not appear to be briar. I am thinking that it is maple or some other hardwood with a tight grain pattern. I sanded the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. When I finished polishing it with the micromesh sanding pads I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. The Balm brought the briar to life. The rich colour and the grain on the alternate wood came to life. With the bowl finished I turned the attention to the Bakelite base and stem. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. The photos below show the process. I pressed the bowl back on the base and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the stem and the bowl. I gave the base and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I gave the bowl multiple coats of wax and buffed it until the bowl shown. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finish on the bowl and dark brown Bakelite stem combine to present a beautiful pipe. The dimensions of this pipe are Length: 8 inches, Height: 2 inches, Bowl diameter: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. Thanks for looking.

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