Blog by Steve Laug
I decided to go back to the older pipes that my brother and I picked up on our virtual pipe hunt in Montana. This old timer was a briar base with a removable bowl pipe. It had a brass separator between the bowl and the base. It had a brass band on the shank and horn stem. It is stamped Pullman in a Germanic Script over C.P.F. in an oval on the left side of the shank. This one is a classic bent billiard shaped pipe but the removable bowl on the briar base is unique. I have had other C.P.F. pipes that had a Bakelite base with a briar bowl but never one with a briar base. It is delicate in terms of size (5 inches long and 1 7/8 inches tall) and feels light weight in hand. Like the other banded pipes in this lot the band on the shank is loose and the same faux hall marks over the C.P.F. oval logo. The finish is very dirty and the rim is damaged around the inner and outer edges of the bowl. The threads on the bowl bottom and the base were worn and the bowl no longer stayed in place. The horn stem is worn and there is tooth chatter on the top and underside of the stem near the button. The stem is underturned in the shank. The photos below show what it looked like before my brother did his clean up on it. If you would like to read about some of the other C.P.F. pipes I have restored I have written about them in individual blogs. They include a C.P.F. French Briar Horn, C.P.F. horn stem bulldog, a C.P.F. French Briar bent billiard, a C.P.F. Remington French Briar military mount billiard and a C.P.F. French Briar Rhodesian. Just a reminder – C.P.F. stands for Colossus Pipe Factory. The pipe was made during the same time period as the other pipes of this brand that I have been working on – the late 1880s and 1890s.Jeff took some close up photos base and the bowl sides and bottom. It shows the crack in the base and the cracked and damaged brass separator plate between the bowl and base. The bowl has a lot of deep nicks and scratches in the outer rim edge and the base has some deep nicks around the crack. The bowl had a thick cake that had run over the top of the rim and formed a thick cake on the rim top. It was rock hard and very thick.The next photos show the faux hallmarks on the ferrule and the C.P.F. oval on the left side of the metal. It was oxidized and worn. The stamping on the shank read Pullman over the C.P.F. oval and both were filled in with gold leaf.Once the bowl was removed from the base you can see the cord that is wrapped around the threads on the bottom of the bowl. The brass separator plate was split and was missing a piece of the folded over portion of the plate. There was a thick cake of tars and oils on the bottom of the bowl and in the base. The threads were worn in the base as well. The ferrule was loose and came off when the stem was removed. The bone tenon was threaded into the shank and was not removable. The stem was underturned and with the grime and build up in the shank as well as the stem it would not align. I had a hunch that the loose ferrule also contributed to that. The dried glue did not allow the ferrule to sit snug and against the end of the shank. The horn stem was in good shape other than the tooth chatter and marks on both the top and underside at the button. When we looked at this pipe during our pipe hunt I wondered if it would even hold together once Jeff had cleaned the briar. The cracked spacer looked delicate as well. I was really curious what it would look like when it arrived in Vancouver. Jeff did his usual regimen of cleaning but proceeded carefully through each step. He reamed bowl with a PipNet Reamer and took the cake back to bare briar. He cleaned up the little remnants of cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the inside of the base and the threads on the bottom of the bowl. He removed all of the cord that had been used to attach the bowl to the base. He cleaned out the internals of the pipe – the airways in the shank, mortise and stem using alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl and base with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove all of the thick grime. He scrubbed the overflow of lava on the rim top and edges with the soap and tooth brush. He rinsed the pieces under tap water and dried them off with a towel. He scrubbed the exterior of the horn stem with the oil soap and tooth brush as well as it works well with horn.
When the pipe arrived I was excited to have a look at it. Here is what I saw once it arrived. It was clean and everything was loose – the separator plate, the bowl and the ferrule all moved freely. The cracks and the sandpits in the base were visible and the nicks and damage to the outer edge of the bowl were also very visible. I took photos of the pieces before I began to work on the pipe. The horn stem looked really good and the striations that run the length of the stem will polish up well giving the stem a unique appearance. The variations in horn stems are part of the allure to me and keep me looking for them.The next photo shows the missing piece of the separator plate and the damage to the rim top and the outer edge of the bowl.I put the pieces together enough to take a picture of what the pipe would look like as a whole. Nothing was permanent in these photos as just picking the pipe up would cause a jumble of parts on the work table. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the condition of the edge of the bowl. Interestingly the photo does not show the damage to the outer edge. It does show the nicks and scratches on the inner edge of the bowl and some of the nicks in the rim top.The next series of photos show the process of the repairs of the sandpits and the nicks on the base. I also scratched out the crack with a dental pick and filled it in with super glue while I did the same with the sandpits. Once I had sanded the repaired areas on both sides of the base I reglued the brass plate on the top with the cracked and damaged portion facing the back side toward the bend in the shank. It would not show as much once the bowl was in place. Once the repairs had been done on the base I used clear fingernail polish to build up the threads in both the base and on the bottom of the bowl. It took several coats to build it up enough to give them enough material to connect.I removed the ferrule from the shank and cleaned the dried glue on the shank and inside the ferrule with acetone on a cotton swab. I sanded the area under the band with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface so that the ferrule would seat correctly on the shank. I painted the shank end with a folded pipe cleaner and all-purpose glue. I aligned the faux hallmarks and the C.P.F. oval with the stamping on the side of the shank and pressed the ferrule in place on the shank. I screwed the stem on the shank to check if things aligned now and everything was perfect. The repair to the ferrule had taken care of the underturned stem.I set the base aside to let the glue harden. I turned my attention to the bowl itself. I cleaned off the damaged outer edge of the rim with acetone on a cotton pad. I circled the damaged area in the photo below for ease of reference. I filled the damaged area in with clear super glue and let it dry. Once the glue had cured I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surrounding briar.I topped the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper on a hard board to remove the damage to the rim top, inner and outer edge from the top view. It did not take too much to get things smooth again. I polished the bowl sides and top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. The bowl began to show some very nice grain patterns as the polishing made them stand out. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cotton pad after each micromesh sanding pad and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth before moving on to the next step of the refurb. I polished the brass separator plate between the bowl and base and the ferrule with micromesh sanding pads and wiped them down with a jeweler’s cloth to bring out a smooth shine.I polished the briar base with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the base down with a damp cotton pad after each micromesh pad. With the work on the bowl and base finished I set them aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks on the surface of the stem on both sides at the button with 220 grit sandpaper. I polished the horn with micromesh sanding pads – we wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem with Obsidian Oil after each micromesh pad and after the final rubdown I set it aside to dry. I polished each part of the pipe separately with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave each part multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect the briar and the horn and help the brass from oxidizing. With all the parts cleaned and polished it was time to put the pipe back together again. I thread the bowl onto the base and screwed the stem onto the shank. I aligned everything and carefully hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. For a pipe over 125 years old it looks pretty good. It is cleaned and ready for its first smoke post restoration. It should work well and should last a lot longer than this old refurbisher will. It will pass on into the hands of another pipeman who enjoys the unique qualities of old briar and horn stems. Thanks for looking.