Tag Archives: contrast staining

Emergency Repair for a Friend – Repairing a Broken Shank on a Thompson Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

Probably some time early in the past year Al purchased this pipe from Jeff and me. It quickly became his favourite pipe and he enjoyed smoking it. He wrote me a quick email a few weeks ago which I include here

Steve, I purchased a Thompson Freehand in red stain some time ago. It has become my most favorite pipe. However, the pipe suffered catastrophic damage as the stem broke cleanly at the base of the bowl, the result of a slip of the grip while at the buffing wheel despite my vise like grip.

I’ve included a photo of my favorite pipe in hopes that you can perform a miracle of craftsmanship.

Help me Steve, you’re my only hope!

Sincerely, Al — newly retired and heartbroken…He had cleaned it and was buffing it and the pipe got away from him (pipe restorer’s and repairman’s nightmare). It hit the floor or wall or something hard anyway and the shank snapped off at the bowl. It was a clean break and looked repairable. It arrived on Tuesday this week. I opened the box and I found the stem and shank carefully wrapped in bubble wrap and tissue and the bowl separately wrapped the same way. Both had been packed in a pipe box and carefully cushioned with paper and bubble wrap in a larger box. I always wonder what the Customs Inspectors must think when they open these carefully wrapped packages and find a broken, used tobacco pipe. They must shake their heads in disbelief that such care would go into packing such “debris”. I took the pipe from the boxes, unwrapped it and took the following photo. The shank was indeed snapped at the bowl and the stem was still in the shank!I took the stem off the shank and checked the fit. It was a pretty clean break – just a few small piece of briar chipped and missing. I went through my collection of tubes and found one that was close to the length I needed and was a perfect fit in the airway in the two sections. I roughed up the tubing with a file to give the glue a good surface to bind with. I coated the end of the tube that fit in the shank portion with a two part epoxy and put it in place in the shank. Once the glue had hardened I could adjust the length of the tube however much I needed on a topping board of with the Dremel and sanding drum.Once the glue cured and I had adjusted the length of the tube I spread the epoxy on the tube and on the surfaces of the snapped briar and pressed them together. I used an epoxy that hardened fairly quickly so I adjusted the fit and pressed the two parts together and held them until the glue had hardened. Once the repair had cured I took pictures of the repaired pipe. You can still see the cracked area on the right and underside of the bowl but the fit is quite tight. I needed to do a bit more work on those areas to get a good blend to the repair. I used my Dremel and a steel burr to replicate the rustication pattern around the bowl. I set the Dremel as the lowest speed and worked the burr to connect both vertical and horizontal patterns. It blended well. The first set of 3 photos shows the cut patterns and the second set of 3 shows the finished carving. I used a Black Sharpie and a Red Sharpie pen to stain the freshly carved rustication. The black went into the carving while the red was applied to the high spots. I covered the whole repaired area with some Mahogany stain to blend the colours into the rest of the finish. I gave the repaired area a coat of Danish Oil and Cherry stain to give it a shine that would match the shine on the rest of the bowl. I set it aside to dry.Once the Danish Oil coat had dried I lightly buffed the pipe with microfibre cloth to polish the repaired area. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I am happy with the repair and the finishing on the shank. The repair blends in very well. It is ready to send it back to Al. I will get it packed up and get it in the mail. I hope that he continues to enjoy this beauty. Thanks for following the blog and reading about the repair. Cheers.

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Restoring a Patent Era Brigham 1 Dot Dublin Ken Bennett’s Estate


Blog by Steve Laug

Early in August I received an email from an interesting woman on Vancouver Island regarding some pipes that she had for sale. She was looking to sell the pipes from her late husband Ken and one from her Great Grandfather. Here is her email:

I have 5 John Calich pipes that date from 1979 to 1981. One is graded 11 and the other four are graded 12. I had bought them as Christmas and birthday gifts for my late husband. He was a very light smoker for a 3 year period.

I am a wood sculptor and always admired the grain and shapes of John’s best pipes. John was a friend as well. We exhibited at many exhibitions together for over 25 years.

I am wondering if you can provide any information on how I might be able to sell them.

Thanks you for any help you might be able to provide

I wrote her back and told I was very interested in the pipes that she had for sale and asked her to send me some photos of the lot. She quickly did just that and we struck a deal. I paid her through an e-transfer and the pipes were on their way to me. They arrived quite quickly and when they did I opened the box and found she had added three more pipes – a Brigham, a Dr. Plumb and a WDC Milano.

I finished the restoration of all the pipes in the box of Calich pipes and the BBB Calabash that Pat had sent. She had included a Brigham as noted above. This Brigham Dublin one dot pipe was a classic Brigham shape and rusticated finish. The rim top was dirty and pretty beat up. There were nicks out of the outer edge of the rim around the bowl. The front outer edge was rough from knocking the pipe out again hard surfaces. The rusticated finish was in decent condition. The bowl had a cake in it and there was a lava overflow onto the rim top and darkening the finish. The inner edge of the bowl looked to be in excellent condition under the lava. The stamping on the underside of the shank was very clear and read Shape 107 on the heel of the bowl followed by Can. Pat. 372982 on the smooth panel on the shank. That was followed by Brigham. There is a long tail coming from the “m” curving under the Brigham stamp. The stem was lightly oxidized as was the single metal dot on the side of the taper. There was oxidation and light tooth chatter on both sides of the stem on both sides near the button. The shank and stem were dirty inside. The tenon was the Brigham metal system that held the hard rock maple filter. It did not look like it had ever been changed. I took a photo of the bowl and rim top to show the damage on the front left outer edge of the bowl, the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the rim top and inner edge of the rim top. It is quite thick and darkens the natural finish of the rim top. The cake was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. Otherwise it looks pretty good. I also took photos of the stem to show the oxidation on both sides, damage to the button and the light tooth chatter on both sides near the button. I took a photo of the underside of the shank to show the condition of the stamping. You can see the clear stamping reading as noted above.I wrote to Pat and asked her if she would be willing to write short remembrance of her late husband and her Great Grandfather. She wrote that she would be happy to write about them both. Here are Pat’s words:

I’d like you know that Ken was an incredibly talented and creative man with a smile and blue eyes that could light up a room. His laugh was pure magic. He could think outside the box and come up with an elegant solution to any problem…

Pat sent me this reflection on her husband Ken’s life. Thanks Pat for taking time to do this. I find that it gives another dimension to the pipes that I restore to know a bit about the previous pipeman. Pat and Ken were artists (Pat still is a Sculptural Weaver) and it was this that connected them to each other and to John Calich. Here are Pat’s words.

Here is the write up for Ken. We meet in University and it was love at first sight. I consider myself blessed to have shared a life together for 37 years.

Ken graduated from Ryerson University with Bachelor of Applied Arts in Design in 1975.

Ken lived his life with joy.  Each day was a leap of faith in the creative process. His smile would light up the room and the hearts of the people he loved.

He combined the skilled hands of a master craftsman, with the problem solving mind of an engineer, and the heart and soul of an artist. He used his talents to create unique and innovative wood sculptures. Using precious hardwoods, he incorporated the techniques of multiple lamination and three dimensional contouring to create sculptural pieces that captivate the eye and entice the hand to explore.

His career was highlighted by numerous corporate commissions, awards and public recognition in Canada and abroad.

A quote from Frank Lloyd Wright sums up Ken’s approach to design.  “Form follows function – that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be joined as one in a spiritual union.” 

A friendship with John Calich developed over years of exhibiting their work at exhibitions. How could a wood sculptor resist some of John’s finest creations…

I wrote Charles Lemon to get some background information on the pipe. Charles knows Brigham pipes like no one else I know besides he is a great guy. Here is his response

Nice find! The stamps are really nice & clear on that one.

Date-wise, this pipe was made between 1938 and 1955 while the patent for the Brigham System was in force, thus the CAN PAT #. The underlined script logo is another indication of age – that logo was phased out sometime in the early 60s.

Shapes 05, 06 & 07 are classic Straight Dublin shapes from the earliest Brigham lineup, with Shape 05 being the smallest and 07 the largest. There are also Bent Dublin shapes but they are much higher shape numbers and presumably were added to the lineup perhaps decades later.

Hope that helps! Ironically, I was looking at the shape chart just today with an eye to doing an update, so most of this was top of mind! — Charles

I summarize the dating information from Charles now: The pipe is an older one with a Canadian Patent Number. That and the underlined script logo date it between 1938 and 1955. The shape 107 refers to the largest of the classic Straight Dublin pipes in the Brigham line up.

Armed with Pat’s stories of John and her husband Ken and the information from Charles on the background of the pipe it was time to work on the pipe. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet Pipe reamer using the third cutting head. I took the cake back to bare briar so that I could check out the inside walls. I used a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to scrape back the remaining cake. I finished my cleanup of the walls by sanding it with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel.       I scraped the rim top lava with the edge of the Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I was able to remove much of the lava. It also helped me to see the damage to the front edge better. It really was a mess.I scrubbed the briar with Before & After Briar Cleaner and rinsed it off with warm running water. I scrubbed the rim top with a tooth brush and warm running water at the same time. I dried the bowl off with a soft microfiber cloth and gave it a light buffing. The photos show the cleaned briar and the damaged areas are very clear.   Once the rim top was clean I could see the extent of the damage to the surface of the rim. The damage was quite extensive and gave the rim the appearance of being out of round. There was also a downward slant to the front edge of the bowl. I topped it on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I worked to flatten out the profile of the rim. I polished the rim surface with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped the top down with alcohol on a cotton pad. I restained it to match the rest of the bowl with three different stain pens – Walnut, Maple and Mahogany. I polished the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each pad. I rubbed the bowl and rim top down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. Mark Hoover’s Balm is a product that I have come to appreciate and one I use on every pipe I have been working on.     I rubbed the bowl and rim down with Conservator’s Wax and buffed the bowl with a shoe brush. I worked on the internals. I scraped the inside of the mortise with a dental spatula to remove the hardened tars and oils that lined the walls of the metal shank. Once I had that done I cleaned out the airway to the bowl, the mortise and the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. When I finished the pipe smelled very clean.Before I cleaned the shank I removed the hard rock maple filter. I took a new filter out of the box and set it aside for use once I finished the clean up.I wiped down the surface of the vulcanite stem with alcohol. I filled in the deep tooth marks with clear super glue.Once the repairs had cured I used a needle file to reshape and recut the edge of the button and flatten the repaired area.   I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to break up the oxidation. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the scratching. It is starting to look good.I have one more tin of Denicare Mouthpiece Polish left from a few that I have picked up over the years. It is a coarse red pasted that serves to help remove oxidation. I polished the stem with that to further smooth out the surface of the vulcanite (and to be honest – to use it up).  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it final coat of oil and set it aside to dry.     This is the sixth and final pipe that I am restoring from Ken’s Estate. It is another a classic Brigham Patent era Large Dublin shaped 107. With the completion of this Brigham I am on the homestretch with Ken’s estate. This is the part I look forward to when each pipe comes back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The classic Brigham rustication and smooth rim top is very nice. The smooth, refinished the rim top, polished and waxed rustication on the bowl look really good with the black vulcanite. This Brigham Patent Era Dublin was a fun and challenging pipe to bring back to life because of the damaged rim top. It is another comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inch, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This entire estate was interesting to bring back to life.

Refreshing another unsmoked 1910-1915 C.P.F. Chesterfield – a Military Mount Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

This afternoon I was going through my boxes of pipes hunting for a specific stem and came across this old, unsmoked C.P.F. Chesterfield Military Mount Billiard. What made it interesting to me was the fact that though it was unsmoked the brass ferrule was oxidized to the point of disintegration. If you have followed my blog for long you know that I love older C.P.F. pipes and I really am a sucker for them as I have a small collection of them. This one rang all the bells for me with the unsmoked bowl, the gold stamp on the shank, even the disintegrating brass band and the P-lip style stem. I am pretty sure from working on other C.P.F. pipes that the pipe was from the time period of the 1910s and before 1920, which also made it attractive to me. When I brought it to my work table this is what I saw (it did not disappoint). It was a bit shop worn from sitting – nicks and grime on the finish. The brass ferrule was loose and in rough condition. The stamping on the left side of the shank read Chesterfield in an arch over the C.P.F. in an oval logo. On the right side of the shank it read French Briar. The stem read Chesterfield over the C.P.F. oval logo on the topside of the taper. On the underside it read Solid Rubber. The bowl was raw briar and totally looked new and unused. You have to admit this is a beauty – I guess that is subjective but it is to me! I took photos of the pipe as it looked on the table. I took close up photos of the bowl, rim top and stem to show the overall condition of the pipe. The bowl was pristine as noted above. The rim top was very clean and undamaged. There were a few small nicks on the inner edge.  The shank ahead of the band was discoloured from the brass ferrule and the ferrule itself had a lot of cracks in surface all around. The stem was in excellent condition – no oxidation. There were a lot of minute scratches in the surface on both sides. The stamping on the stem top and underside was very readable.     The next photos show the stamping on the shank. You can see that they are all quite clear.   I wrote a piece on the background to the C.P.F. brand earlier on the blog and include the link to that here (https://rebornpipes.com/2013/04/14/some-reflection-on-the-historical-background-on-cpf-pipes/). I quote a pertinent part of the blog below:

From my reading and research it seems to me that C.P.F. brand was discontinued sometime in the 1910-1920 range. Again, turning to Bill Feuerbach I found that he notes the following, which pins down the time frame of the discontinuation of the brand more specifically, “I have a C.P.F. Chesterfield in our office display that has a nametag from way before my time that says 1900 C.P.F. Chesterfield. It looks like most other Chesterfields you’ve seen, including the military type push stem, except this stem is horn and not vulcanite. As far as I have gathered the C.P.F. brand was phased out sometime around 1915.” Interestingly, he noted that the Chesterfield name and style was later introduced in the KB&B, Kaywoodie and Yello-Bole lines. He says that the 1924 KB&B catalog shows KB&B Chesterfields…

… From my research I believe that we can definitively assert that the C.P.F. logo stands for Colossus Pipe Factory. The brand was purchased by KB&B sometime between 1884 and 1898 and that it continued until 1915. That time frame gives help in dating some of the older C.P.F. pipes you or I might find. It can be said that prior to the dual stamping it is fairly certain that the pipe is pre-1884 to 1898. After the dual stamping it can be placed post 1898 until the closure of the brand line in 1915. C.P.F. made beautiful pipes.

From that information I dated this pipe to the peroid metnioned above. I would further refine the 1910s period to a time between 1910-1915. At any rate it is an old pipe to remain unsmoked for this long. How this old timer has been around this long and is still unsmoked is a bit of a mystery to me.

I tried to remove the ferrule and as I touched it the metal disintegrated into a pipe of very fragile pieces of metal. The metal was whitened on the outside and inside. The oxidation had made the metal very brittle.I wiped the bowl down with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the spotty varnish coat and break down the remnants of glue left behind by the crumbled ferrule. I sanded the shank end with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the heavy spots. I polished it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads.    I went through my box of bands and ferrules and found a nickel ferrule that was a good fit on the shank end. I put some Weldbond white glue around the shank end and pressed the band onto the shank. I aligned the “hallmarks” with the gold stamping on the left side of the shank.I scrubbed the briar with Before & After Briar Cleaner. I rubbed it into the surface of the briar ahead of the ferrule and around the shank and bowl. I let the cleaner sit on the briar for 10-15 minutes and then rinsed it off to remove the cleaner and the grime that it had picked up. I took photos of the pipe after I had dried it off.  I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. Mark Hoover’s Balm is a product that I have come to appreciate and one I use on every pipe I have been working on.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I love these old C.P.F. pipes. There is some serious thought that they were carved by European trained craftsman who were skilled pipemakers. They were brought to the US by the C.P.F. Company to make pipes. Many of the shapes, bands and stems have the kind of workmanship involved that I really think there is truth to this story. This is little chubby billiard with a classic shape that reminds me of some of the older Peterson’s Sraight billiards that I have restored. The stem is a Peterson style P-lip with the airway on the top of the stem. I polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel carefully avoiding the stamping on the shank. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The contrasting grain really began to stand out; it seemed to take on life with the buffing. The rich contrasting brown colour works well with the silver ferrule and the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe has a rich look that is quite catching. Have a look at it with the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This one will be joining my collection as it fits in the C.P.F. niche group that I have been building. The shape and feel in the hand is perfect. Now I have to make a hard decision – do I leave it unsmoked or do I load it up with some aged Virginia and break it in. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I restored and reworked this old billiard from 1910-1915. It is always a treat for me to work on a piece of pipe history especially when I have learned a bit of the story behind it.

New Life for a Barling’s Make Ye Olde Wood “Fossil” EL 437 Canadian


Blog by Steve Laug

Not too long ago I received an email from a fellow in California who I have repaired a few pipes for over the years. He said he was sending me a couple of pipes to work on. The box arrived a few weeks ago and when I opened it I found this message in the box.

Hi Steve — Here are the two pipes as promised. The Dunhill Shell should be an easy resto, but the Barling’s Fossil is another story. This pipe appears to have been someone’s favorite and smoked pretty hard. Might involve a little reconstructive surgery as the inside of the rim has been chipped due to knocking on a hard surface. Looks like the cake has held it together. The stem is upside down and seized into the shank as well. Would like to keep the original finish on the stummels and shanks of both if possible… thanks — Scott

I decided to take a break from Bob Kerr’s Estate for a bit and work on Scott’s pipes. I took the Dunhill out first and did the restoration on it. It was pretty straight forward and cleaned up nicely. Give that blog a read if you are interested (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/08/28/new-life-for-a-1964-dunhill-shell-briar-250f-t-2s-billiard/). But now it was time to work on the second pipe – the Barling’s Make Fossil Canadian. I looked it over to check out its condition and what needed to be done with it. The finish was dirty but underneath all of the grime it appeared to be in decent condition. The edges of the rim top were virtually ruined on the front right side of the bowl. There were chips on the inner edge and damage on the outer edge. The rim top itself was scratched and nicked as if it had been knocked about.  The bowl had a thick hard cake inside and remnants of tobacco stuck to the walls. I could not even put my little finger in the bowl it was so clogged. The stem was stuck in the shank and was upside down. It was unmovable. I could still see the Barlings Cross on the top of the stem and Regd number on the underside. There was some calcification on the first inch of the stem on both sides. The stem was also oxidized and dirty. The stamping on the stem is very faint. The slot in the button was almost clogged up with tars and debris. There were tooth marks and chatter on both sides and the button. There was a worn notch on the top right side of the stem just ahead of the button. I took photos of the pipe before I started my cleanup work. I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show the condition of the bowl and rim before I started working on it. The rim top was a disaster – it looked as if it was ruined and destroyed. There is some thick lava filling in the sandblast of the rim. The inner edges were very rough with large chips out of the right front. The outer edge was worn from being beaten against something hard knocking out dottle. The cake in the bowl is quite thick and hard so the bowl walls should be in good condition. I also took close up photos of the stem surface before I did the cleanup. You can see the faint stamping on the topside – a Barling Cross. On the underside it was also stamped and was faint – Regd over 98046 . The stamping on the underside of the shank is in great shape. It reads Barling’s arced over Make and underneath that it reads Ye Olde Wood with the shape number 437 on the heel of the bowl. That is followed by EL “Fossil” in script. That is followed Made in England and T.V.F. When I received the pipe the stem was stuck in the shank and was upside down. I put the pipe in the freezer for 30 minutes and when I removed it the stem turned easily in the shank. I removed it so that I could work on the bowl and soak the stem.I put the stem in a bath of Before & After Deoxidizer and left it to soak while I turned my attention to the bowl.I turned to Pipedia’s article on Barling pipes (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Barling) and specifically read the section on the “Ye Olde Wood Stamp”. I quote as follows:

Sometime around 1913, the “Ye Olde Wood” stamp made its appearance on selected pipes. An example exists stamped on a 1913 date hallmarked pipe.

This logo will continue to be used in the decades to come. Initially it was used to designate a higher grade than the average, much as the “Special” grade would after the Second World War. Price lists show the “Ye Olde Wood” pipes as a separate grade from the basic BARLING’S MAKE pipe. Eventually, “Ye Olde Wood” came to represent the company to the world. The use of “YE OLD WOOD” as a stamp prior to 1940 was haphazard, at best, although the company used the slogan in advertising materials from the early teens onward. (Gage)

I also did further reading to understand the 3 digit model numbers which were designated on the site as Nichols Numbers. The article had this information:

Pipes intended for the US Market have a 3 digit model number. However, Family Era Barlings may have two numbers, not just three, and they may also have a letter following the model numbers. For example, the letter “M” following a model number would indicate that the bowl is meerschaum lined.

To further define the time period of the pipe I looked further in the article to the COM stamping on the pipes. This pipe is stamped MADE IN ENGLAND with a period at the end. Here is what the article said.

The “MADE IN ENGLAND.” stamp was in use in the 1930’s thru 1962. As with all things related to Barling nomenclature there are variations. Sometimes there is no “MADE IN ENGLAND.” stamp. Examples exist with a “MADE IN LONDON” over “ENGLAND” stamp. And, there are examples with “MADE IN ENGLAND” with no period after the word “ENGLAND”.

I also read the section on the size stampings and quote the pertinent part.

…In 1941 the published range of sizes expanded. Going from the smallest to the largest, they are SS, S, S-M, L, EL, EXEL, and EXEXEL. There is no “G” for giant. Giant pipes, or magnums, which are oversized standard billiards, were not stamped “G” but are commonly identified by collectors as such because they are obviously large relative to even EXEXEL pipes, and carried no size stampings (Gage).

There was a further section on Family Era Grades and Lines. This pipe was stamped Ye Olde Wood – sometimes referred to by collectors as YOW, which the article says may have a dark or plum stain. It is also stamped “Fossil” which denoted a sandblast finish. Most likely this stamping came into existence after WW2. The 1943 product line lists “sandblast” not “Fossil”.

This pipe was definitely made in the Family Era which ran from 1912 – 1962 and included pipes made by the Barling family while it either owned or managed B. Barling & Sons. I know that it was made after WW2 because of the “Fossil” stamp and before the close of the era in 1962. That appears to be as close as I can get to a date on this old timer.

Armed with that information I turned to work on this pipe. The cake was very hard and took a lot of elbow grease to ream it. I started by reaming the bowl to remove as much of the cake on the walls and the debris of tobacco shards as possible. I switched back and forth between that PipNet reamer with the first two cutting heads and the Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to break away more of the rock hard cake. Once I finally got the thick cake removed I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel and also a Sharpie Pen to smooth out the walls and clean up some of the  damage to the inner edge of the bowl. I used a brass bristle wire brush to clean off the debris on the damaged rim top in preparation for rebuilding the damaged edge on the front right side. There were chips on the inner and outer edge of the rim as well as burn damage on the top at that point. Once I had it cleaned up I wiped the rim down with a cotton pad and alcohol to remove the remaining debris. I layered on a bit of clear super glue and used a dental spatula to add briar dust to the top of the glued areas. I pushed the dust deep in the chipped areas with a dental pick. I repeated the process until the damage rim top matched the height of the remaining rim top. The photos look far more intrusive than they really were. Once the repair had cured I wiped the excess dust off with a cloth (the dust in the bowl is just that dust and was cleaned out upon completion of the repair). I used a little more of the clear super glue to even out the top inner edge of the bowl. Once it had cured it was time to clean up the surface of the bowl. I continued my ongoing experiment with Mark Hoover’s Before & After Briar Cleaner to remove the dust and debris in the grooves of the blast on the bowl and the rim top. I rubbed it into the surface of the briar and let it sit for 10 minutes. I rinsed the bowl off with warm running water to remove the product and the grime. The grain really began to stand out clearly. It was a beautiful piece of briar. I used a Dremel with some sharp and round burrs to match the repaired rimtop to the rest of the rim. The key was to not do too much but just enough to blend it into the sandblast that remained on the rest of the rim top. Once I had finished I used a brass bristle wire brush to clean off the debris left behind by the Dremel.I used a Walnut and a Mahogany stain pen to touch up the stain on the worn outer edges of the bowl and the rim top. I mixed in some black Sharpie pen to blend it to match the bowl colour. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl and the rim top. I worked it into the surface with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the wood. I let the balm sit for about 10 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl looked like at this point. I am happy with the blend of the stain on the right side and the overall look of the bowl at this point. Now the bowl was finished except for the final polishing. I took the stem out of the Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it under warm water. I ran a pipe cleaner through the airway to remove the deoxidizer from the airway in the stem. The deoxidizer had done a good job removing the oxidized stem surface. You can see that the stamping is quite weak on the top and underside of the saddle. There is were on the edge of the button on the top side and few tooth dents. On the underside the edge of the stem there was a notch on the side of the stem near the button. There was also wear on the button surface.Once the externals of the stem were cleaned I turned my attention to the internals. I cleaned out the mortise and airway to the bowl and in the stem with 99% isopropyl alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I cleaned both until the cleaners came out white. It was a dirty pipe.I set the bowl aside and turned my attention back to the stem. I built up the deep dents and gouges in the button and the edge of the stem with clear super glue. I set it aside to cure.Once the repairs had cured I used a needle file to recut the edge of the button and smooth out the button edges.I also sanded out the tooth marks and chatter on the surface of the vulcanite and removed the rest of the oxidation on the vulcanite with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I followed the 220 grit sandpaper with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to minimize the scratching. I polished the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish to take out the oxidation at the button edge and on the end of the mouthpiece. I buffed the stem with a microfiber cloth.I polished out the scratches with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. Scott was correct in his note that this was a more difficult restoration. Even so, I am finally on the homestretch with this pipe as well and I really look forward to the final look when it is put back together and polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish to begin the shine. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The deeply blasted grain on this old Barling’s Make Ye Olde Wood “Fossil” Canadian looked good with the polished black vulcanite. This Family Era “Fossil”sandblast Canadian shape 437 was a challenging pipe to work on. I really like the look of the Barling Sandblast finish on this one and will need to keep an eye out for one for me. The combination of red and black stains really makes the pipe look attractive. It is a comfortable pipe to hold in the hand and I think that as it heats with smoking that over time the finish will develop even a darker patina as Scott smokes it and it will look even better. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 ¼ inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I look forward to hearing what Scott thinks of it once he receives it. I now will need to pack up the two pipes and get them in the mail to him. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

An Interesting Pipe to Work On- “Ropp Reporter”


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Even though the work on my last project which I had mentioned in all my previous couple of blogs as one that I was keen to work on, has been more or less completed, the write up is pending for one simple reason, there was an issue which was pointed out by Steve when I shared pictures of the finished pipe with him. To address the issue, I need to travel back to my home town where services of a very special artisan are needed to be sought. Well, unraveling of this mysterious pipe will happen only in October 2019 and in the meanwhile I move ahead with my other restorations!!

The next pipe on my work table is a French pipe, makers of which trace back their history to 1870s!! Most of the learned readers would have guessed it right, it’s indeed a ROPP!

The pipe is a large bowl straight billiards with shiny golden colored shank end band with a bright burnt orange cherry wood (?) shank extension. The stem end of this extension too has the golden colored thin metal ring. The vulcanite stem has a corn cob shaped aluminum stinger. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank as “ROPP” in an oval over “REPORTER”, all in block capital letters. The right side of the shank bears the stamp “L 83” probably denotes the size (L- large) with shape code # 83. The vulcanite saddle stem has the logo “ROPP” in white letters, embedded deep in to the saddle and covered in a transparent high quality plastic cover.I searched pipedia.org to know about the brand as it is a first for me. The site has very scant information about the brand, but what is available makes it an interesting read (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Ropp)

Eugène-Léon Ropp (1830 – 1907) had acquired a patent for a cherrywood pipe (wild cherry, lat.: Prunus avium) in 1869. In 1870 he established a workshop to manufacture such pipes in Büssingen (Bussang, Vosges mountains). Around 1893 the business moved into the former mill of Sicard (part of the community of Baume-les-Dames – Département Doubs, Upper Burgundy – from 1895 on).

The pipes were a big success in the export as well. Shortly before 1914 Ropp designated A. Frankau & Co. (BBB) in to be the exclusive distributor in the UK and it’s colonies.

Probably in 1917 a workshop in Saint-Claude in the Rue du Plan du Moulin 8 was acquired to start the fabrication of briar pipes. In 1923 a small building in the environment of Saint-Claude, serving as a workshop for polishing, was added.

Even though cherrywood pipes were the mainstay of Ropp until the company finally closed down in September 1991. The company was taken over by Cuty-Fort Entreprises (Chacom, Jeantet, Vuillard, Jean Lacroix…) in 1994.

There are some nice old flyers advertising these pipes which are always interesting to go through, but unfortunately my understanding of French is as good as that of the readers who can read, write and understand Devnagiri script (origins of which is Sanskrit), my mother tongue!! Admiring the pictures (but not understanding the text…LoL!!), the only conclusion I could draw was that this pipe is certainly post 1994 as it is more contemporary looking. The complete appearance of the pipe is that of desiring/ seeking attention! It really has that kind of appearance and bling.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
This pipe was received by Abha, my wife, and she liked the funky and bright looks of it. The first thing she noticed was the fit of both the stem tenon in to the shank extension and that of the shank extension in to the mortise was extremely loose. The stummel shows some nice mixed straight, cross and bird’s eye grains all across. The stummel had dirt and grime accumulated over the surface and appeared dull and lifeless. A couple of dents/ dings are visible on the foot of the stummel. I shall address this by steaming out these dents followed by sanding and micromesh polishing. The chamber had a thin even layer of cake in the lower half of the chamber and appeared to have been well looked after. The rim top surface is without any serious damage, save for some minor (and could have been ignored!!!) dents. The inner rim edge has a nice delicate bevel which has been made uneven with reaming with a knife. However, the outer edge has a few very minor dents and dings. The broad vulcanite saddle stem is oxidized and had a couple of minor tooth indentations and chatter on both the surfaces in the bite zone. The corn cob shaped aluminum stinger is covered in dried oils and tars. The button edges showed very slight deformation from tooth marks. The tenon was covered in a hard plastic cap to tighten the fit of the stem in to the shank extension. The burnt orange cherry wood (?) extension is in very good condition except that the ring has discolored in patches but not corroded. The fit of all these pieces of pipes in to each other was extremely loose and would be the biggest challenge to address on this pipe. INITIAL CLEANING BY ABHA…
The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 40-50 pipes and these have now reached me for further restoration). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

Next she cleaned out the internals of the stem air way and immersed it in “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution along with the stem of other pipes in line for restoration. Once the stem had soaked overnight, she cleaned the stem under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using Scotch Brite pad. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stem. She had removed the stinger from the tenon and cleaned it with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol.

ONCE THE PIPE IS ON MY WORK TABLE…
Now that the cleaned pipe is on my work table, I proceed to carry out my appreciation of the work that needs to be done on this pipe to restore it.

The chamber show very minor and superficial heat lines all along the walls, however, the stummel appears to be solid to the feel. The rim top surface is in decent condition with the inner rim edge bevel in slightly worn out condition. The outer rim edge does show very minor dents and dings. I could either top the rim top to address this issue or let them be since these dents and dings are very minor and hardly noticeable. The stummel was clean and free of any accumulated grime. One fill that Abha had noticed, was picked clean with a thin sharp edged knife and would need to be filled. After I have polished the stummel with micromesh pads, would I be able to decide if I would stain it or let it be in its natural finish.The stem has only one deeper bite mark which would need to be repaired with a fill of activated charcoal and superglue mix. Whatever, little oxidation remains, will need to be removed by sanding with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper and follow it up with polishing with micromesh pads. The aluminum stinger is clean.The one major issue I need to sort out at the outset is to make the 3 pieces of this pipe stick together to be called a pipe!! The stummel, shank extension and the stem tenon are so loose that it does not fit in to each other and cleaning of all these parts has not helped the matters either.THE PROCESS
The first issue on the agenda that I decided to tackle was to get the pipe together by making the three parts of this pipe to affix firmly in their designated places. For the stem tenon fit, I had an option to either increase the tenon size by heating and thereafter enlarging it with a larger diameter drill bit and coating it with a clear nail polish. I decided against this process since firstly, this would make the seating of the stinger in to the tenon too loose and secondly, the gap between the tenon and shank extension seat was so large that it would not be possible to expand the tenon to this extent. Similarly, there was no way that I could ensure a snug fit of the shank extension in to the mortise other than by making a packing insert. This brought me to the only option of creating a packing insert using a cork and this is exactly what I proceed to do. Theoretically, I would measure the length that needed to be cut off from the cork to fit the stem tenon and the tenon of the shank extension and sand it down to achieve a snug fit, simple. Well, theoretically it sounds easy, practically not so much.I decided that I would address the shank extension first. I pried out a couple of corks from wine bottle caps (Oh my, I have plenty of them!!!) and measured the length that needed to be cut off from the cork to fit the tenon of the shank extension. With my hand held drilling tool and a smaller drill bit, I drilled a through hole. I progressively increased the diameter using progressively bigger drill bits till I had achieved a snug fit of the cork piece on the tenon. Once I was satisfied with the fit, I fixed the cork packing with superglue on to the tenon. I replaced the drill bit on my tool and mounted a sanding drum. Next, I sand the drilled cork with the sanding drum till I had achieved a rough fit of the shank extension tenon in to the mortise. I fine tuned the fit by hand sanding it with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. I decided on fixing this packing on to the tenon so that it will be easier to clean the mortise and shank extension in future after each use. It required a great deal of patience and diligent work to achieve a perfectly snug fit of the shank extension tenon in to the mortise.

However, the moment I started to fit the drilled out cork for the stem tenon, I noticed that the cork had started to split along the fault lines. I tried to stick them together with CA superglue, but to no avail. The more I tried to push, the more the cork disintegrated!! Finally I had to shelve this idea of a cork packing for the stem tenon. The following pictures will give a clearer picture of the steps, results and the failures of this process. While working on the shank extension, the metal band came loose and revealed all the corrosion on the insides of the band and patches of old glue on the shank extension itself. With a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper, I removed all the corrosion from the metal band and evened out the shank extension surface which seated the metal band. I stuck this band flushed with the shank extension stem end surface with CA superglue and set it aside.To address the fit of the stem tenon in to the shank extension, I decided to go the tried and tested path of increasing the girth of the tenon by using a mix of activated charcoal and superglue. I applied the same in layers, till I had achieved a snug fit. I had to set the stem aside after each layer for the mix to cure.In between all the layering and curing process on the stem tenon, I simultaneously worked on the stummel surface. The one fill which was seen and readied for a fresh fill was patched up with a mix of briar dust and superglue and set aside to cure.While, the stummel fill was set aside to cure, I started work on the stem tenon. Using a flat heat needle file, I lightly sand the rebuild tenon surface. As I started to sand with a piece of 220 grit sand paper, I frequently checked the seating of the tenon in to the shank extension. It was at this point in time that I observed that the seating was skewed. There was a prominent gap (indicated by a red arrow) towards the right side between the edges of the stem and the shank extension. On careful observation, I noticed that the fit of the tenon itself in the stem is not aligned straight!! It was this misaligned tenon that caused the stem to seat incorrectly in to the shank extension. To straighten the stem tenon, I inserted a pipe cleaner through the stem and heated the tenon with my heat gun till pliable. Pulling the tenon end of the pipe cleaner, I achieved a straight alignment of the tenon with the stem and cooled the tenon by holding it under cold running tap water. I checked the seating of the stem in to the shank extension and it was perfect. Turning my attention back to the stummel, I matched the fill with the rest of the stummel surface by sanding the fill with a flat head needle file followed by sanding the fill with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. For a perfectly smooth rim top surface, I top it on a piece of 220 grit sand paper. This also addressed the minor dings on the outer rim edge.  I sharpened the inner bevel with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper, pinched between my fingers. It was at this stage that a colleague of mine saw the pipe and wanted it for himself. He liked the grains and the overall aesthetics of this pipe. I explained to him the amount of work remaining that was required to restore this pipe, including the steaming out of the dents and dings at the foot of the stummel. He did not like the idea of steaming out the dents from the foot and vehemently opposed this process. No amount of persuasion on my part that this process will not cause any damage but on the contrary repair it, could convince him. Since he is the new owner of this pipe, with great reluctance, I gave in to his request.

The stem tenon had completely cooled off by now and was perfectly straight. I flamed both the stem surfaces with a lighter to raise the deep bite mark and followed it up with sanding the surface with a 220 grit sand paper followed by 0000 grade steel wool. This helps to remove what little oxidation remained on the stem surface and at the same time addresses minor tooth chatter in the bite zone. I fill the deeper bite area and the button edges with a mix of superglue and activated charcoal powder and set it aside to cure. While the stem fill was curing, I moved ahead with micromesh polishing of the stummel surface. Now, here is a slight departure from the usual polishing process that I have followed on all previous restorations. I had read that White diamond polish falls between 3400 to 4000 grit micromesh pads and so to experiment, I polished the stummel with white diamond after wet sanding with 1500 to 3400 micromesh pads. I finished the polishing cycle by wet sanding with remaining grit micromesh pads. In all honesty, I found the finish not much different from the routine polishing of wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 micromesh pads. I shall continue with this experiment on a few more pipes and then decide to continue with this process or revert back to only micromesh pads. I followed up the polishing by applying “Before and After Restoration” balm. This balm protects and enriches the briar surface and is highly recommended for use in any restoration of briar pipe. I rubbed it deep in to the stummel surface and also in to the shank extension and set it aside to be absorbed for 20 minutes. I also applied petroleum jelly to the cork on the tenon of the shank extension to hydrate and moisten it. I am pleased by the appearance of the stummel (less the dents and dings on the foot of the stummel) and the deep burnt orange hue of the shank extension. At this point in restoration the only other issue, other than the dents and dings on the foot of the stummel, that I need to address is that the burnt orange color of the shank extension merges with the coloration of the stummel. I would love to impart a bit of a contrast between the stummel, shank extension and the shining black of the vulcanite. Well, I shall see to it when I get there!! The following pictures will bring better clarity to what I am commenting on.With the stummel nice and clean and attractive, I worked the stem of the pipe. The fill on the stem had cured nicely and I sand it down with a flat head needle file. I sharpened the lip edges using a needle file and sand the entire stem with 220 followed by 400, 800 and 1000 grit sand paper. This helps to reduce the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem and the tenon, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with a moist cloth after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil. The pictures of the final results are shown below. I applied a small quantity of “Before and After Extra Fine” stem polish and rubbed it deep in to the vulcanite stem. This polish, purportedly, is supposed to remove the fine sanding marks left behind by the abrasive grit papers.This is how the pipe appears at this stage. The shank extension completely merges with the stummel and looks out of sync with the overall appearance of the pipe. The shank extension was most likely meant to provide a contrast between the stummel and in the process, add some bling to it. At this stage my colleague again interfered and wanted the natural finish. He is one person who loves natural finish of the briar with the grains being seen. However, I was not ready to compromise this time around. We struck an understanding between us that if the finished pipe is not liked by him, I would get it back to the natural finish. Now with this stalemate sorted out, I contemplated my next step.

I felt that the burnt orange of the shank extension would provide a nice contrast between the shining black vulcanite and a light black stained stummel. I shared this thought with Steve, my mentor, and he concurred with my view. He suggested that I should give the stummel a light black stain wash and thereafter bring it up to a nice high gloss finish. I mixed a small quantity of black stain powder with isopropyl alcohol to a very watery consistency and applied it to the stummel with a cotton swab. I let this stain wash set for a minute and vigorously wiped it down with a clean cotton swab. I repeated this process a couple of times till I was satisfied with coloration of the stummel. Here are the pictures and the end result of this stain wash. I liked it immensely. To complete the restoration, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel, shank extension and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. I buffed the gold colored band/ ring at the shank end and at the stem end of the shank extension with a jeweler’s cloth and bring it to a nice shine. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. Boy, am I happy with the look of this pipe. The burnt orange provides a striking contrast with the darker hues of the stummel and shining black of the highly polished vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is shown below. Cheers!! P.S. The completed pipe actually looks more stunning in person than in pictures. Even my colleague loved the finished pipe and he is all set to enjoy this beauty with his favorite tobacco, Autumn Evening, from 4noggins!! Thank you all for walking with me through this restoration which was a combination of some new processes and experiments.

 

Breathing Fresh Life into an Inherited Ben Wade “The Gem” from the Year 1900!


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

It’s been a while since I have worked on any of my grandfather’s pipe collection that I have inherited after his demise a few years ago. Amongst the collection, this small quaint Ben Wade was beckoning me for a long time. It is now that I decided to work on it. I had one Ben Wade without a stem, that Steve had taken back to Canada from his visit to India to fashion a stem from his bag of spares. This prompted me to fish out this Ben Wade and work towards its restoration.

This small sized straight Bulldog is typically classic British shape, with a diamond shank and a horn stem with a threaded bone tenon. The shank end is decorated with a sterling silver ferrule with embossed leaves, which is loose and came off easily. On this ferrule are the stamp details which will help in determining the vintage of this pipe. The silver shank ferrule is stamped as “A & Co” over a series of three hallmarks running from the left near the bowl end to the end of the shank on the right.The first hallmark is an “Anchor” in a shield shaped cartouche and identifies the city of Birmingham in England where the silver was crafted. The second hallmark is a passant Lion in a cartouche which signifies that the band is silver and that it was crafted by a British silversmith. The third hallmark is a square cartouche with the small letter “a” in the box which is a date letter that will give the year of the making of the pipe. Steve had recommended a site which he frequents while dating silver hallmarked pipes. Here is the link which helped me identify the city mark as Birmingham and further following the link on Birmingham date letter chart on the same page brought me to a separate page with all the letters along with the period in which they were stamped. I found the letter which matched to the one seen on the pipe in my hand and I can now say with authority that this silver ferrule is from the year of manufacture1900!! Unfortunately, the site did not allow me to copy/ edit and reproduce the relevant charts for including in this write up.

https://www.925-1000.com/british_marks.html

The next stamp which I researched was the “A & Co” stamp over the three hallmarks. I conferred with The-Beard-of-Knowledge on all things pipe, Steve and he suggested that I visit http://www.silvercollection.it and sure enough I got the information that I was looking for. I reproduce the relevant information from the site and also the link for those who may need to refer when researching their pipes.

http://www.silvercollection.it/englishsilvermarksXA.html

A business which is supposed to have been established in 1781 at Mitcham, Surrey, by William Asprey (died 1827).

CHRONOLOGY:
Francis Kennedy, c. 1804-c. 1841
Kennedy & Asprey, c. 1841-1843
Charles Asprey, 1843-c.1872
purchased the business of Charles Edwards, c.1857
Charles Asprey & Son, c.1872-c.1879
Charles Asprey & Sons, c.1879-c.1888
acquired Leuchars & Sons
C.& G.E. Asprey, c.1888-c.1900
Asprey (& Co), c.1900-1909
acquired Houghton & Gunn, 1906
acquired William Payne & Co, 1908
Asprey & Co Ltd, 1909- 1998
Asprey & Garrard, 1998-2002
Asprey & Co Ltd, 2002

The relevant stamping is highlighted in blue. The period/ vintage of the ferrule now perfectly matches and confirmed that it is from the year 1900.

With the year of make of the ferrule established as 1900, I wanted to confirm if this matched with the year of manufacture of the pipe itself. This is essential since the makers did stock up on such silver ferrule before they even made pipes for them. The stampings on the pipe itself should provide some clues to the link with the vintage of the pipe. The pipe is stamped as “B W” in a rectangle over “THE GEM”, all in golden block capital letters. There are no other markings on this pipe, not even COM stamp.I searched pipedia.org for information on this brand and further confirmation on dating this pipe. There are some interesting details on this brand and makes for an interesting read. I have reproduced some snippets of the information from pipedia.org which are relevant to dating this Ben Wade.

The company was founded by Benjamin Wade in 1860 in Leeds, Yorkshire, where it was located for over a century. Ben Wade started as a pipe trader, but yet in the 1860’s he established a workshop to produce briar pipes. The pipes were made in very many standard shapes – always extensively classic and “very British”. Many models tended to be of smaller dimensions. Ben Wade offered a very high standard of craftsmanship and quality without any fills. Thus the pipes were considered to be high grade and a major competitor to other famous English brands.

In the second World War the factory was destroyed by German air raids on Leeds. But the Ben Wade family decided to re-build it immediately after the war and pipe production was re-started soon and successfully linked to the fame from the pre-war years.

Before the second war Ben Wade clustered their offerings into three price points: “Ben Wade” included the higher end pipes (eg the Larnix, Super Grain, Selected Grain, etc), “BW” included the mid-level pipes (eg Statesman, Natural Grain, County, etc), and “BWL” were the least expensive (eg Hurlingham, Adelphi, Tense Grain). Champion was in the last group, and in the 1930s at least retailed for 2/6.

Even though the owner family decided to leave pipe business and sell off the firm. The family went into negotiations with Herman G. Lane, president of Lane Ltd. in New York at about the same time as the Charatan family. Lane Ltd. bought both firms in 1962.

From the above it is confirmed that the Ben Wade that I have inherited is from the family era and from the era before the second war, placing it before 1939. Now, I had read somewhere that it was common for pipe makers not stamp the pipe with the COM stamp in early 1900s and this was confirmed by Steve. Thus, to sum up all the information researched to date this particular piece, it is safe to conclude that this pipe is likely to have been made in the year 1900!! My inheritance indeed has some very nice and very old pipes.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
In the month of January this year, I had restored a Loewe Kenton from my inherited pipes that was nicely reamed with no overflowing lava over the rim top (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/01/17/restoring-a-classic-british-billiard-loewe-co-pipe/) and now this is the second pipe which is without a layer of cake in the chamber. However, the rim top surface is darkened and covered with lava overflow. I searched through the remaining large carton of inherited pipe for another pipe which is sans cake, but did not find any. Coming back to the pipe on my work table, the rim inner edge is mighty uneven, most probably a result of using a knife blade and shows signs of darkening due to charring. However, the outer edge is without any damage. The walls of the chamber are in excellent condition with no signs of heat fissures/ lines, but slightly uneven. A little magical touch from Pavni, my daughter who specializes in making the chamber smooth should address this issue. The stummel surface has developed a nice patina over 119 years of its existence and I have no intentions of destroying it during the restoration. Therefore, the few dents and dings that are visible shall stay and be a part of the pipes history through the years. Maybe, micromesh polishing will address a few of these dents and scratches. I wouldn’t say that this pipe has beautiful grains all round because it does not!! But yes, there is a smattering of some straight grains in the cap of the stummel and few on the shank while rest of the stummel has just some swirls of grains here and there. Even though the stummel is covered in dust, dirt and grime from years of uncared for storage, through it all the pipe still has a feel of quality maybe because of the shape or the proportions, I am not able to pin point exact reasons, but the pipe shouts vintage and quality!! The double ring separating the cap from the rest of the stummel is filled with dirt and dust, but is intact with no chipping or unevenness, which is surprising. At this stage of my initial inspection, in order to see the condition of the shank end and mortise, I tried to separate the bone stem from the shank end. The stem would not budge. I had no desire of applying more force for the fear of breaking the bone tenon inside the mortise and this would have really complicated the restoration for me as well as the originality of the pipe would have been compromised. I wanted neither and so in went the entire pipe in to freezer for a chill. A few hours later, I took the pipe out from the freezer and slightly heated the shank end. Once satisfied, I gingerly turned the stem with success. A little coaxing and finally the stem and shank were separated. Whew! What a relief. However, when I tried to reattach the two, there was a slight gap between the stem and the shank end and indicated with red arrows. I am sure that with the cleaning of the shank/ mortise of the entire gunk, the fit should improve. After the stem was separated from the shank end, the sterling silver ferrule too fell out easily. I will have to fix it with superglue. A closer examination of the mortise confirmed that it is clogged with accumulation of oils, tars and gunk of yesteryear. The threads too are covered in the gunk and most probably the cause of the incorrect seating of the stem in the mortise.The horn stem itself appears dull and lifeless and has tooth chatter on both the surfaces of the stem. The slot is perfectly round and correct for the time period of the pipe and shows accumulation of dried tars and dirt. The button edges, however, are sharp and sans any damage with a little dirt embedded at the bottom of the edges. I could make out one crack emanating from the right bottom edge of the diamond saddle and extending to more than half the length of the saddle panel. This crack is shown by a yellow arrow. The dark and light hues taken on by the stem over the years should polish out nicely and will add an additional touch of class to this classy pipe. THE PROCESS
Pavni, my youngest daughter loves to help me in pipe restoration in her free time and her forte is getting the walls of the chamber as smooth as a baby’s bottom. With a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper she completely evened out the wall surface. Once she was through with her sanding regime, I cleaned out the internals of the shank and the mortise with a few hard and regular pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I also cleaned out the threads in the shank end with cotton buds and alcohol. With a sharp knife, I gently scraped away the lava overflow from the rim top surface. I followed it up by cleaning the external surface of the stummel with hard bristled tooth brush and Murphy’s oil soap. I rinsed it under running tap water and dried it with paper towels and a soft cotton cloth. I diligently scrubbed the rim top surface with a scotch-brite pad and Murphy’s oil soap to remove the remaining lava overflow. With this step on this particular project, I achieved two results; firstly, the gold lettered stamping on the shank was consigned to past tense and secondly, a couple of fills were revealed (marked in yellow arrows) at the front of the bowl and in the bottom left panel of the diamond shank. Thankfully, there is no charring over the inner and outer edge or the rim surface. I removed the old and loosened fills from the front of the bowl and one on the shank that was closer to the bowl. The old fill at the shank end; I let it be as it would be covered with superglue while attaching the silver ferrule. Next, I decided to address the issue of darkened rim top surface and uneven inner edge by topping the rim on a piece of 220 grit sand paper. The progress being made was frequently checked as I had no desire to lose any briar estate than absolutely necessary. Once satisfied with the result, I wiped the rim top surface with a moist cloth. The darkened rim top has been addressed completely, however, the inner rim edge is still uneven (though greatly reduced) with slight charred edges. I address these issues by simply running a piece of 220 grit sand paper along the inner rim edge without creating a bevel, but a nice rounded even surface.Next issue to be addressed was the fills. As mentioned above, I had cleaned out the old and loose fills using my sharp dental tool. I filled these with a mix of superglue and briar dust using the layering technique. Using a toothpick, I first spot fill superglue in to the surface of the intended fill and press briar dust over it. I repeat this process, if need be, till the fill is slightly above the rest of the surface. Once all the fills are covered, I set the stummel aside to cure. Once the fills are sufficiently hardened, which is quite rapid, I sand it with a flat head needle file to achieve a rough match with the rest of the stummel surface. I follow it up by sanding with a piece of 220, 600 and 800 grit sand papers to a perfect match. Discerning readers must have noted that I did not sand the entire stummel surface. This was because, as I had decided earlier that I would maintain the aged patina that the briar had taken on over the 119 years.At this stage, I decided that I would tackle the stem repairs as addressing the crack observed on the diamond saddle would require curing time and while the stem repair is curing, I could get back to the stummel, saving on time. I began by first cleaning the bone tenon and the stem surface with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the dirt and gunk from the surface. I was contemplating whether or not to drill a counter hole to prevent the crack from progressing further and after weighing the cons, I decided not to do so. The probability of the stem chipping or the crack developing further was reason enough for me to avoid this drilling. I filled this crack with plain superglue and set it aside to cure. The CA superglue would seep and spread inside and stabilize the crack. During his visit, while discussing various aspects of pipe restorations, Steve had made a passing comment that in his experience the best way to preserve the patina on a briar if you need to sand it is to dry sand the stummel with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. I followed his advice and went ahead and dry sanded the entire stummel surface with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. The results are amazing. The stummel has now a deep and rich dark brown coloration and this will further deepen once I go through the polishing and wax application regimen. Most of the readers would have noticed that the double ring separating the cap from the rest of the stummel shows accumulation of briar dust and grime. Also the fills are darker than the rest of the stummel surface. I have noticed it too and will clean the rings at the end as the polish and wax would also be accumulating in these gaps subsequently. The issue of the fills was addressed by staining the fills and surrounding surface with a dark brown stain pen. I set the stummel aside overnight for the stain to set. The blend is near perfect and should blend further after application of balm and carnauba wax polish.The superglue applied over the crack was by now well cured and had seeped in to the crack as well. I sand the entire stem and the fill in particular, with a worn piece of 220 grit sand paper. This helped to address the tooth chatter seen in the bite zone as well as blend the fill with the rest of the stem surface. I followed it up with dry sanding the stem with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. I wiped the stem with a moist cloth after every three pads to remove the resulting bone dust. To finish, I applied a liberal coat of Extra Virgin Olive oil and set it aside to be absorbed by the porous bone. I am very pleased with the way the contrasting dark browns and lighter grains in the bone are now highlighted. Once polished further, this will further add a touch of class to an already chic looking Bulldog!! I applied petroleum jelly over the bone tenon and tried the fit of it in to the mortise after temporarily attaching the silver ferrule over the shank end. The alignment and seating of the two was spot on. I separated all the parts again and continued further. While the stem was being hydrated with olive oil, I went back to work the stummel. The stain had set well by this time. I applied a little “Before and After Restoration” balm with my fingers and rubbed it deep in to the stummel surface. This balm rejuvenates the briar and the transformation in the appearance of the stummel is almost immediate. The fills are now so well blended in to the briar that it is difficult to spot them. The only part that needs TLC is the sterling silver ferrule. I polish the ferrule with a very soft powder specifically available locally, and widely used by jewelers, for polishing of silver. I align the ferrule stampings with the stummel stamping on the shank and fix it over the shank with a little superglue. The contrast that this shiny ferrule provides against the dark brown of the stummel looks fantastic.Next, I ran a thin and sharp knife through the double cap ring and cleaned it. To finish, I re-attach the stem with the stummel and mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my rotary tool. I set the speed at about half of the full power and applied several coats of carnauba wax over the stummel and the stem of the pipe. I finished the restoration by giving the pipe a rigorous hand buff using a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine further. The completed pipe, with dark brown hues of the stummel contrasting with silver ferrule and the shiny dark browns and lighter grains in the bone stem makes for a visual treat. The pipe looks lovely, fresh and vibrant; the photographs speak for themselves. Thank you for your valuable time. P.S. This was the last pipe that I had restored during my leave from my work. The following write ups are now on pipes that I have already restored after returning to my work place. I shall sorely miss the help that Pavni, my 10 year youngest daughter and Abha, wifey dear, extend in my work. There are about 40 odd pipes that I have carried with me and which have been cleaned by Abha. So the next couple of months are going to be interesting. Keep following rebornpipes.com for some nice, unique and interesting pipes from here in India in the near future.

Oh, missed out on one aspect!! I tried to repaint the shank stamp with a gold glitter pen towards the end, but it would just not stay. Any suggestion would definitely help me mark this oldie as well as for future.

 

Giving a Second Chance to a Throw Away Bowl


Blog by Steve Laug

This morning I was looking through my boxes of pipes to restore to find what I wanted to do next. I went through several options and finally settled on a bowl that I brought back from Idaho. It was a Custombilt style bowl that we were ready to pitch in the trash because it was in rough condition. Someone had cut off the shank with a saw – a real hack job that left the shank end rough and the surface not flat. The bowl had a thick cake in it and an overflow of lava on the rim top. The inside and outside edges were dirty but it was unclear if there was damage. There was no stamping on the shank or underside. The finish was shot and there was a lot of dirt and grime in the grooves of the finish. There was also some shiny coat on the smooth portions of the bowl that made wonder if it had been varnished at some time in its life. It was an unbelievable mess. But it was enough of a challenge that I wanted to take it on. Here are some photos of the bowl when I started. I went through my cans of stems and found one that fit the mortise. I would need to work on the face of the shank itself to make it round again but it showed a lot of promise. The stem was lightly oxidized and the bend was too much but otherwise I liked the look of the saddle stem.I put the stem on the bowl and took a few photos of the pipe. To me it showed a lot of promise. It would take a bit of work to get the fit just right but the pipe had a lot of potential.I heated the stem with a heat gun to straighten out the bend. Once the vulcanite had become flexible I took the majority of the bend out so that the angle of the stem matched the angle of the top of the bowl. I took photos of it at this point in the process. I am happy with the progress. I set the stem aside and turned my attention to the bowl. I reamed it back to bare briar with a PipNet pipe reaming set. Once the bowl was smooth I cleaned up the reaming on the walls and scraped the rim top with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage and smooth out the surface of the rim. There was a lot of damage to the rim top and the topping took care of the damage to the rim top. I scrubbed the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush under running water. I rinsed off the grime and took the following photos of the bowl. I cleaned out the internals on the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with 99% isopropyl alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I worked until the shank and mortise was clean and smelled new.There were still some shiny spots on the shank and smooth portions of the bowl. I wiped them down with acetone on a cotton pad. I used the Dremel and sanding drum and 220 grit sandpaper to reshape the shank. I rounded it to match the diameter of the stem and also faced the shank end on the topping board. I was moving through this restoration while I was talking with my brother and totally forgot to take photos of this part of the process. I smoothed out the sanded and reshaped shank and stem with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding with 1500-6000 grit pads. I sanded the top of the bowl at the same time to smooth out the scratches.

Once I had finished shaping the shank I decided to continue my ongoing experiment with the Briar Cleaner on this pipe. I scrubbed it with the product from Mark Hoover of Before & After Products. He says that the briar cleaner has the capacity of absorbing grime and dirt from the surface of briar. I rubbed the bowl down with it to see how it would work in this setting. (Just a note: In speaking to Mark he noted that the product is completely safe to use. The main product is even FDA approved edible.) I rubbed it onto the bowl and rim top with my finger tips and worked it into the remaining sanding grit on the bowl. I let it sit on the pipe for about 5 minutes before I rinsed it under warm running water to remove the residue. I hand dried it with a microfiber cloth. I was pleasantly surprised by how clean the surface on the bowl looked when I was finished. The various surfaces of the carved briar just begged for a variety of stains to give the pipe some real dimensionality. I heated the briar and gave it the first coat of stain – a Tan Fiebings. This tan has some red tints in the dried and fired coat. I applied the stain with a dauber and then flamed it with a Bic lighter to set it in the grain. I repeated the process until the coverage was what I wanted. I buffed the bowl with a clean microfiber cloth and gave the bowl a light shine. All of this was preliminary for the next stain coat. I put the stem on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. The buffing really brought the reds to the surface of the briar. It helped me to make the next decision regarding the contrast stain. I touched up the rim top with a Mahogany stain pen to smooth out the finish. I then stain the entire bowl with the contrast stain coat using Watco’s Danish Oil with a Cherry stain. I rubbed it on with a soft cloth and let it sit for a while before buffing it off with a soft cloth. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a horsehair shoe brush. I also buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to polishing the stem. I worked it over with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads. I buffed it on the buffing wheel with Red Tripoli to further remove the oxidation on the surface. I reworked it with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it apart. With both parts of the pipe finished I put the pipe back together again and I polished the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The rich finish and the interesting grain on this briar came alive with the buffing. The finish on the briar works well with the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe looks almost like it came out of the factory like this. It is a well-proportioned, nicely grained shape that I would call Bent Apple. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This throw away, cut off bowl met a stem from another place and the pipe that came out is a beauty. The condition of the bowl showed that it was a great smoker so this new edition should also be one! I am not sure who made the bowl originally but from the looks of the finish it could very well be a Custombilt. I am not sure I will ever know with certainty but it has the look. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.