Tag Archives: contrast staining

New Life for a Dark “Malaga” Canadian


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe in the queue is yet another pipe from the batch of pipes I am cleaning up for Alex – this one is another “Malaga” –a Canadian it is a stained version of the pipe and has some interesting grain around the oil cured bowl and shank. The classic Canadian shape is carved to highlight the grain around the bowl. The pipe is stamped on the top side of the shank. It reads “MALAGA”. On the underside it is stamped IMPORTED BRIAR. The tapered stem is vulcanite and has no marking or stamping. It is a nice looking piece much like many of the pipes Alex is picking up. The bowl had a light cake in the chamber and the rim top and edges were in rough condition. There were dents and nicks and some darkening on the rim top. The outer edges had nicks and there was a chip in the back side of the bowl. The exterior of the briar was dusty with grime and dust. The stem has a lot of tooth marks and some very deep dents in the surface of the stem and button.. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of the pipe before clean up. I took a photo of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before I started my cleanup work. The bowl had a thin cake and the rim top significant damage to the top and edges of the bowl. The inner edge of the rim seemed to be slightly out of round and showed some burn damage. The outer edge had chips and dents and was rounded. The stem was a mess. There was some deep tooth marks on the stem and the button on both sides.I also took a photo of top side of the shank to show the stamping. The stamping is readable in the photo below and is as noted above – “MALAGA”. The stamping on the underside reads IMPORTED BRIAR very visible in the second photo below.For those of you who are unfamiliar with the brand, I am also including the link to a blog that I wrote that gives some of the history of the Malaga brand and the Malaga Pipe Shop in Royal Oak, Michigan in the USA. Here is the link – https://rebornpipes.com/tag/malaga-pipes/. That blog also includes links to a catalogue and the history of the pipemaker George Khoubesser. If you are interested to learn more then I invite you to follow the link to get a feel for the brand and the pipemaker.

The bowl had a thin cake so I reamed it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to get rid of remnants of cake. I finished by sanding the bowl with a dowel wrapped with 220 grit sandpaper until the inside of the bowl was smooth.I decided to address the damage to the rim top and edges first. I topped the bowl on a topping board using 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damaged portions of the rim surface.I filled in the damaged around rim and the bowl with clear super glue. The photos below show the extent of the damaged areas.When the repairs had cured I sanded the briar with a folded piece of 220 followed by 400 grit sandpaper. I used the sandpaper to blend the repairs into the surface of the briar and to smooth out the inner edge of the bowl at the same time.I scrubbed the bowl with a cotton pad and undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap. I rinsed the bowl under running water to wash off the soap and the grime that had been loosened. I cleaned up the inside of the shank and mortise with a dental spatula to remove the tar build up. I ran some cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol through the shank to remove the tars and oils. I also cleaned out the airway in the stem using pipe cleaners and alcohol. I polished the rim and the outside of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding debris. I started the process of matching the stain on the bowl to the repaired and sanded areas I had worked on. I used a Walnut and a Cherry stain to begin the match.I polished the bowl further, wet sanding it with 3200-4000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on a cotton pad to further blend the stain into the surrounding finish on the rest of the bowl and shank. I used Black stain pen to further blend the stain into the surface of the surrounding briar. I wiped it off with the alcohol dampened cotton pad. The photos below tell the story. I finished polishing the bowl and shank with 6000-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads and wiped the bowl and shank down after each pad with a damp cloth. The photos show the stain blend on the newly repaired areas. I am pretty happy with the results. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm 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. I buffed the bowl with a microfiber cloth to polish the briar. I took photos of the pipe at this point to show what it looked like. With the bowl finished I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the deep tooth marks and rebuilt the surface of the button with clear super glue. Once the repair had cured I used a needle file to smooth out the repairs to the surface of the vulcanite. I sanded the repairs on the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the repairs into the surface of the stem. I am happy with the stem surface once that was done. I started the polishing of the surface with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cloth after each pad. I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I wiped it down with a coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I put the pipe back together and polished both the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. 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 oil cured finish and the grain came alive with the buffing. The grain really stands out against the dark finish providing a rich contrast. The finish on the briar works well with the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is a well-proportioned, nicely grained Canadian. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 3/4 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This Malaga Canadian will be going back to Alex to add to his rack of Malaga pipes that are in his collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on another of Alex’s Malaga collection.

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A Knute of Denmark Freehand – a Special Gift for My Son


Blog by Dal Stanton

This story begins in October of 2017 and concludes less than a week ago with the graduation of my son who received a master’s degree in counseling.  My wife and I have lived in Europe over 25 years and periodically we return to the US for several months from Bulgaria, to visit friends, family, and supporters of our work in Bulgaria.  It’s a great time renewing relationships and we travel a lot during these visits – often very tiring!  One of our favorite things to do as we travel (when we’re not flying over America from airport to airport) is to rent a car and drive off the interstates on the ‘Old Roads’ when we are visiting and speaking about Bulgaria.

On one such road trip, we were traveling from visiting our son (in St. Louis) and our daughter and her husband (in Nashville) and we were returning to home base near Atlanta, Georgia – to a little hamlet railroad stop called, Palmetto.  As often as possible when time allows, we break off from the interstates and cling to two lane highways that trace our path through small towns and villages.  Of course, I’m always looking for the antique and second-hand shops along the way to do pipe-picking!  We came across one such place in a small crossroads town of Alabama which was a great place to stop and rest and to search for pipe treasures!

I found 3 pipes that were candidates, but the one that received the lion’s share of my attention was the Knute of Denmark, a stout Freehand that had a beautiful balance of upper blasted briar and a large underside shank of smooth briar that encased the Danish nomenclature.   The bowl’s plateau was striking but the shank plateau facing sloping toward and tying in the fancy stem was frosting on an already nice-looking cake!  I was fully present in the moment of this exceptional find – a find that I would keep for myself and add the first freehand to my collection of vintage pipes.

I left the 3 at the front of the shop while I did a walk about through the shop.  While doing this, I was also researching the ‘Knute of Denmark’, the sole marks on the pipe.  I discovered that ‘Knute’ was a second of well-known Danish Freehand pipe maker and manufacturer, Karl Erik Ottendahl – this sweetened the pot considerably!

Dave’s Antiques was primarily a consignment shop and the desk person, perhaps it was Dave, had the number of the owner of the Knute and called him with my counter offer.  To my surprise and gratification, the owner accepted my offer.  The Knute Freehand joined me when my wife and I returned to Bulgaria and has waited patiently in my own personal “Help Me!” basket for his turn on the work table.  Here are some pictures of the Knute of Denmark I took while still in the US on that trip. Pipedia’s listing for Knute provided helpful information to appreciate more my newest acquisition and the Karl Erik name behind it:

Karl Erik Ottendahl

Knute of Denmark pipes are said to be made by Karl Erik, see his listing herein. Karl Erik Ottendahl was born in Aalborg in 1942, just a few miles from the very northernmost tip of Denmark. He began his career as a Lithographer as an apprentice in the craft at the age of 16. While working as an apprentice he began hand carving pipes as a hobby and to give as gifts to his more senior colleagues. He began his career making pipes for various labels in Denmark and the United States. Often, he would make the higher-grade pipes for a well-known brand that was known for their midrange or low-end pieces such as Wally Frank. While doing this he administered a factory of fifteen craftsmen. During this period, he did make some of his own handmade pipes, but he felt that the responsibility of managing the factory did not give him the freedom he wished he had.

Other brands confirmed to be from Karl Erik are: Champ of Denmark, HTL, Jobey Dansk, Knute, Golden Danish, Lars of Denmark, Larsen & Stigart (Copenhagen pipe shop), Shelburne, Sven Eghold and Wenhall (for Wenhall Pipes, New York), some Ben Wade and pipes marked IS and IIS.

One other paragraph from the Karl Erik article in Pipedia referenced above is noteworthy in understanding this pipe man who died in 2004:

As one of the few notable Danes Karl Erik Ottendahl dedicated himself to the needs of the normal pipe smoker with a normal income. In the end he was one of the last of this tier. He never made any pretense of the fact that his “hand mades” were prefabricated to a large extent on automated machines and only the last steps of fine-shaping and finishing were carefully made by hand. But he never employed a copy milling, so many KE pipes may look very similar but no two are identical. As well the bulk of the stems was supplied by Stanwell in a close-to-finished state. Stanwell also did the sand blasting for KE to a large extent.

I’m thankful for my family.  We’ve been spread out all over the world for many years, but we stay close.  My son, Josiah, is number 4 of our 5 children.  He’s pictured to the right of his baby sister and my wife, when we were in Nashville during our Christmas visit to the States last year.  Soon, we’ll be heading to the US again in May to join Josiah with other gathered family members as he graduates with a master’s degree in counseling from Covenant Seminary in St. Louis.  During his years in college and seminary, as a younger pipe man, he has enjoyed a bowl now and again.  He has gifted me with pipes that are special to me because they came from him AND they are very nice pipes as well after restoring them!  My first Peretti came from Josiah.  I have gifted all my kids, sons and daughters, with pipes that I’ve restored.  It gives me joy to pass pipes on which then become family heirlooms because ‘the ole man’ restored them.

I had been thinking for some time which pipe I could give to Josiah commemorating this great milestone accomplishment in his life.  The Knute of Denmark waiting for restoration came to mind.  Several weeks ago, when Josiah and I were Face Timing, he in St. Louis and I in Sofia, I asked him if he would like this Freehand as a graduation present?  His response did not take long!  I have viewed that Knute somewhat as a ‘Pearl of Great Price’ – looking forward to restoring it and recommissioning it into my collection and service.  Yet, for Josiah to have it to commemorate his graduation is something that will always be important.  When he goes through the ritual of taking the pipe from the rack, methodically packing the bowl with his favorite blend, lighting and reflecting upon life and faith – he will remember his accomplishment as well as how proud his family is of him.

With Josiah’s master’s graduation present now on my worktable, I look more closely at the pipe itself to assess its needs and issues.  The narrowing chamber has thick cake.  The attractive squared plateau is covered with lava flow and there is much dirt and grime lodged in the valleys between the ridges.  The sandblasted stummel is beautiful, but is also covered with grime, but I see no problems with the briar.  The same observation of much needed cleaning is also true for the shank facing plateau. The lower side with the smooth briar is blotched because the finish seems thin and uneven.  I also detect a few nicks where it looks like it was knocked on the edge of something – just to the lower right of the Knute of Denmark stamping.  The fancy stem has some oxidation and tooth chatter and compressions show on the stem bit.  I take a few fresh pictures to look more closely at the plateau and the smooth briar underside.  I begin the restoration of the Knute of Denmark by using a pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95% and cleaning the fancy stem’s airway.  I then add the stem to a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer along with other pipes in the queue. After several hours soaking, I fish out the fancy stem and run another pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95% and clear the airway of the Deoxidizer.  I also use cotton pads wetted with alcohol and wipe off the raised oxidation.  The Deoxidizer does a great job.  The fancy stem looks good.To start the process of rejuvenating the vulcanite stem, I wipe it down with paraffin oil, a mineral oil, and set is aside to absorb and dry.Looking now at the Freehand stummel, I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit and start removing the thick cake in the chamber.  I put down paper towel to catch the excavated carbon. Starting with the smallest blade head I begin reaming the chamber. Wow, the carbon cake is as hard as a brick!  I’m careful not to force the blade head too much but allow the metal blades to crush the carbon cake gradually as I rotate the handle.  I take a picture at the starting point and then about half way down the chamber that shows how the chamber has narrowed over time. I finally break through to the floor of the chamber and I’m careful not to over ream – to continue forcing the blade downwardly which would begin to damage the briar.  I continue with the next two blade heads, using 3 of the four available in the kit.I then switch to the Savinelli Fitsall Tool – the name of this tool is apropos, as it not only scrapes the chamber walls further but also reaches down and works around the draft hole – removing cake that is hard to reach.To clean further I also sand the chamber using 240 grade paper which I wrap around a Sharpie Pen using it as a dowel rod.  With this configuration I’m able to reach down into the huge chamber cavity and sand with some leverage.  This does a great job cleaning the chamber and removing the last vestiges of cake.Finally, I wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to remove the carbon dust left behind.  I take a picture of the pile of carbon cake removed from the chamber and the full arsenal used.After the reaming, I inspect the chamber and it shows no problems with heating cracks or fissures.  I move on!I’m anxious to see how the external blasted surface cleans up as well as the smooth briar – will the cleaning remove the thin finish?  The plateaus are full of grime as well.  I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap on a cotton pad to begin the scrubbing.  I use a bristled tooth brush as well on the blasted surface and the plateaus.  To help clean the lava on the rim plateau I also employ a brass wire brush that will not damage the briar.  The cleaning did well. The rim plateau cleaned up but also lightened in the process – not unexpected.  The rest of the blasted stummel looks good. The picture below shows the blotch of old, thin finish.  The cleaning with Murphy’s did not remove it.  To clean it off and give the smooth briar under-panel a cleaned surface, I use a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to do the job.  I wipe it and it comes off.  The surface looks good now. With the external briar surface cleaned, I now start working on the internals.  Using pipe cleaners and cotton buds I go to work…, and I work!  The internals are very dirty and there seems to be no end to the cotton buds coming out looking like nothing was happening.  I also use a smaller, dental spoon to reach into the mortise to scrape the tars and oils which have accumulated on the internal briar surface.  I continue until the hour of the night is too late and I decide to change gears.Before going to bed I continue the cleaning effort on the internals by using a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  To do this I first create a cotton mortise wick by pulling and twisting a cotton ball and then stuffing it down the airway with the help of a stiff hanger wire.  I then fill the ample bowl with kosher salt and place it securely in an egg crate.  Then, using a large eye dropper, I fill the internal chamber with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt in the chamber.  After waiting a few more minutes, I top off the alcohol once more and turn out the lights!  Hopefully, through the night progress will be made as the cotton wick and salt draw the tars and oils from the internal briar. The next morning, the cotton wick was very soiled showing that progress was made through the night.  I remove the soiled and expended salt from the chamber to the waste and clean the remaining salt crystals using paper towels and blowing though the mortise. I follow with more pipe cleaners and cotton buds wetted with isopropyl 95% and at first, I was worried that I still had a ways to go!  But after a few times through, the cotton buds removed the remaining tars and oils drawn from the briar and started to emerge much lighter!  Success in hand, I move on.Looking at the external stummel, I have essentially 2 projects to consider, the sanding of smooth briar and color repair to both rim and shank plateaus.  After the cleaning process to the plateaus, the wood has lightened and there are bald spots that need to be colored to blend.  I decide to do this after sanding.  The large underside of the Freehand is beautiful and has a few very minor nicks. The other sanding needed is to clean up the internal chamber wall that rises to form the forward crest of the rim plateau.  This will clean up very nicely and should provide a striking contrast to the rough, rusticated plateau.  This ridge rise continues around the circumference of the upper chamber. I start by using a coarse 120 grade paper to work on mainly the gouges and scratches to the upper chamber wall where it appears that cleaning tools were a little too anxious!  This injury is primarily on the shorter rise on the back of the chamber (picture immediately above, to the left a bit).  After I work out these larger gouges, I switch to 240 grade paper and work it around the entire upper chamber area.  Then, I finalize the inner upper chamber with 470 then 600 grade papers.  I like it! Switching to the underside, but also including the upper chamber, I go directly to using micromesh pads by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400 followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000.  I’m careful to keep my thumb over the nomenclature stamping, Knute of Denmark on the underside.  Wow!  The smooth briar contrasts are taking shape and I like what I’m seeing. Now, the second project – repairing the briar coloration on the plateaus.  I take a few close ups of both the rim and shank facing plateaus.  I have been thinking a lot about my approach to this.  I’m satisfied with the condition of the color of the blasted surface – it has a classy looking weathered and rustic appearance with the dark stain that appears to have an oxblood or mahogany lean and is flecked with reds. I also take a closeup of the stummel surface to show what I’m seeing. I begin by cleaning each plateau with alcohol using a cotton bud – careful not to spread alcohol on the stummel surface.  Color matching is more of a dance or an artform rather than a science.  I use a cotton pad as a canvas and use different dye sticks to identify the best match for the darker overcoat color.  I have two brands of mahogany that are the two marks – the upper one is darker, and I like it better.  The cotton bud on the top is Fiebing’s Oxblood Leather Dye.  I like this for the undercoat.With a cotton bud I apply Fiebing’s Oxblood to both plateaus which serve as the undercoat. After waiting about 15 minutes to make sure that Oxblood was dry, I then use the Mahogany Dye Stick and go over the Oxblood application.  I do this for both plateaus. In the next picture it shows the Oxblood colored edge which is not the finished product!  I will address this.To help erase this edge line, as well as to lightly sand the plateaus to bring out the oxblood flecks, I use a 3200 grade micromesh pad and sand over the tops of the ridges of the rusticated plateaus.  This removes a bit of the darker overcoat and exposes the oxblood undercoat.  I also use the micromesh pad to reestablish the line of the smooth upper chamber briar helping to remove the line of oxblood.  I follow the 3200 grade pad and go through the remaining 5 pads to sand and polish the smooth upper chamber briar.  Lastly, I do a light wipe with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to remove excess and blend the dyes on the plateaus.I like the results!  Both rim plateau and shank facing plateau look refreshed and emulate the flecking that is evident on the Knute stummel. With the plateaus completed, I condition the rest of the stummel using Before & After Restoration Balm aiming to bring the rest of the stummel into a harmonious alignment with the refreshed plateaus.  My hope and expectation are that it will deepen and darken the beautiful blasted surface.  It will be equally enriching to the smooth briar patches.  I take ‘before’ pictures to compare, but I doubt whether the pictures will detect the darkened tones.  We’ll see. I put a generous amount of the Balm on my fingers and work it into the blasted stummel surface, the rusticated plateaus and on the smooth briar patches.  I can immediately see the briar responding to the Balm.  Josiah is going to love this beautiful Karl Erik Knute Freehand!  After saturating the surface with the Balm, it gradually thickens to a wax-like viscosity as I work it in.  Finally, I place it on the pedestal to allow the Balm to do its thing as the briar absorbs it.  I take this picture during this period.  After about 15 or 20 minutes, I use a microfiber cloth to wipe off the excess Balm and buff the stummel rigorously making sure the excess balm has been removed from the nooks and crannies of the rustication and blasted surface.  I love it!  As hoped, the stummel’s enrichment with the Balm darkened it and both plateaus and stummel are closer in shade, but the plateaus, by design, just a wee bit darker.  Yes!The fancy stem is waiting in the wings.  The Before & After Deoxidizer did a great job removing the oxidation.  Now to address the tooth chatter and bites on the button.  The stem has a very slight bend to it to mark the orientation.  The upper bit has tooth chatter and a compression, but also long scratches along the length.  The Lower bit also has tooth chatter and compressions – the button is chewed as well.  When you freehand it with a Freehand you’re bound to see evidences of clamping. To begin to address these issues, I use the heating method to see if the compressions will lessen.  Using a Bic lighter, I paint the areas with the flame.  As the vulcanite heats, it expands, and the hope is that the compressions disappear or are much lessened.  I apply the flame on both sides, and it does make a difference in lessening the compressions.  I move on to using 240 grade paper to sand both the upper and lower sides.  I also use the flat needle file to freshen the button lips edges.  The compressions sand out nicely.  The pictures show the results with the upper and lower bit. Next, I wet sand the entire stem using 600 grade paper. I then buff the stem with 0000 steel wool.I see that the slot is not smooth, and I use rounded needle file to file the edges.Next, I apply the full regimen of micromesh pads to the stem.  I begin by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400 and then dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  After each set of 3 pads, I apply a coat of Obsidian Oil to revitalize the vulcanite.  As expected, the Knute fancy stem now has that glossy shine – like new and better. I’m in the home stretch. I keep the stem and Freehand stummel separated for now as I apply Blue Diamond compound and wax.  It’s easier this way to manipulate the pieces.  I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to the Dremel, set the speed at 40% of full power, and I apply Blue Diamond compound to both stummel and stem.  When finished, I buff both with a felt cloth to remove compound dust from the surfaces.  I use a bristled brush as well to make sure the rusticated and blasted areas are free of dust.  I use the felt cloth again.  I don’t usually have these action pictures, but with my wife’s help here are a few.Then I change buffing wheels on the Dremel, maintain the same speed, and apply a few coats of carnauba wax to the Knute stummel and stem.  I then hand buff the stummel and stem with a microfiber cloth to blend and collect any excess wax and raise the shine more.  Again my wife provides the picture and a good shot of The Pipe Steward workstation on the 10th floor of a formerly Communist apartment complex ‘block.’  All the tools of the trade!  I finish the restoration of the Karl Erik Knute, by rejoining the stem and stummel.After completing the Knute of Denmark, I slipped it into a black, pull string pipe sock and placed it in a Bulgarian ornate lidded wooden box to serve as the protector of the Knute of Denmark and the gift box for my son’s graduation gift.  When my wife and I flew to St. Louis from Bulgaria for the graduation ceremony, the pipe was safely stowed in my backpack.  Most of our family was able to gather from all over the United States to celebrate Josiah’s achievement.  Family is special – a gift from God to remind us of the way He created us – to be in loving and supportive relationships. Our family gathering around Josiah’s celebration was rich blessing for me and my wife since we live so far away.  Admittedly, often words fail to express the depths of a father’s pride for his son – for all his children and grandchildren.  They fail me now. During the ceremony we watched as Josiah was donned by his professors with his master’s degree hood.  Afterwards, we gathered together as a family in our hotel room where we enjoyed the precious moments and gifts were given.  Among them was the Knute of Denmark which met his new steward – a gift expressing the pride and love of a father for his son, and carrying a blessing of,  “Well done, son!”

Thanks for joining me!

 

Restoring your own Petersons Pipes – Part 1


Mark Irwin sent me two pipes from the late Mike Leverette’s estate. He had been tasked with selling some of Mike’s pipes for his wife Jeanette. I asked him to pick out a pipe or pipes for restoration that covered the gamut of restoration issues for this article. Mark chose well – a reproduction 1910 Straight Bulldog and Deluxe 11S. He emailed me the descriptions of the pipes (Mark’s description of Pipe #1 is included in italics below and the description of Pipe #2 is in italics in Part 2 of this article) before I actually had the pipes in hand.

Pipe #1 –A Reproduction 1910 straight Bulldog (from the Antique Collection) that looks like it has either been left out in the sun or someone has attempted to remove the original stain. In addition, it has been poorly reamed, with what looks like a pocket knife. Stem and ferrule oxidation, no real dental damage to button.

When the pipes arrived I was excited to open the box and see them in person. It is my habit to spend time looking over a pipe very carefully before I start working on them. In this case I wanted to see the issues that Mark noted firsthand and to note others as well. I decided to work on the two pipes separately. I began with the little Reproduction 1910 Straight Bulldog.  I recorded my observations to give a clear idea of the work that needed to be done. They were as follows:

Photo 1 Bottom side of the pipe and stem

Pipe #1. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank Peterson’s over Dublin. On the right side it is stamped Made in Ireland. The stamp has classic Pre-Republic era stampings (the forked tail on the P and “Made in Ireland”). The silver ferrule/end cap is stamped K&P over three hallmarks, the last is a cursive capital “J” which dates the pipe as having been made in 1995. These are stamped above Peterson’s of Dublin on the left side and on the right side of the cap it is stamped 1910 which indicates the year this Bulldog shape first appeared in Peterson’s offer. A first pass over the pipe showed that the finish was as Mark had noted – very faded. The stain was virtually gone and the briar was a dull grey brown in colour. The silver was dented and tarnished; so much so that it was hard to read the hallmarks. The double ring around the bowl was packed with grit and grime as well as some older stain that had bunched up in balls in the grooves. Moving to the rim I could see what Mark had noted regarding the poor reaming. It was very roughly reamed and the nicks from the knife blade were many. This left the bowl out of round. The cake was hard and the surface of the rim had a build up on it that was also quite thick. Removing the stem I could see that the upper right edge of the mortise had a large crack/gap in it where a chunk of briar was missing. The mortise was tarry and dark. The chamber/sump region in the mortise was also quite full of tarry build up and grit. The stem itself was good at the insert end. There were no cracks or missing pieces, which I expected after the chip in the shank. The top side and underside of the stem were dented with tooth marks that had been worked on. The surface had deep scratches and pits in it from the previous work. It looked like the stem had been treated with bleach to deal with the oxidation which leaves the surface pitted. The top 90 degree edge of the button had a divot taken out of it. The hole in the top also was out of round with several small divots removed from the surface. On the underside of the button the ridge/shelf that goes across the bottom of the P-lip had a divot missing as well – a tooth dent that was very evident. The portion of the tenon that sat in the shank was dark and black while the rest of the stem was oxidized and had slight brown tints. The five photos below highlight the areas of concern that would need to be addressed in a restoration/refurbishment.

Photo 1 Bottom side of the pipe and stem

Photo 2 Right side view

Photo 3 Top view

Photo 4 Looking into the shank

Photo 5 Top view of the bowl and shank

After completing my observation of the pipe, I decided to begin the work by cleaning up the inside before dealing with the externals. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer – a T handle with four different sized cutting heads (Photo 6). I started with the smallest head and worked up to the size that fit the internals of the bowl (Photos 8 – 10). My objective was to take the cake out completely bringing the bowl back to briar so that I could reshape the inner edge of the rim and clean up the mess left by the knife reaming job.

Photo 6 PipNet Reamer set

Photo 7 Reaming with the second cutting head

Photo 8 Second Cutting head

Photo 9 Reaming with the third cutting head

Photo 10 Third cutting head

The finished bowl, after reaming with the various cutting heads, is shown in Photo 11 below. Once the cake was gone from the inside of the bowl I could clearly see what needed to be done to bring the bowl back into round and repair the damage to the inner rim. It was at this point I decided to top the bowl. Photo 12 below shows the process of setting up a piece of sandpaper on a hard, flat surface and sanding the bowl top by pressing it into the sandpaper and rotating it to slowly remove damaged briar from the top of the bowl. For this particular bowl I used 220 grit sandpaper. I did not want to leave deep scratches in the rim, but I wanted to smooth out the surface and remove the damaged material. Photo 13 shows the finished bowl top. I removed enough of the surface to get rid of the knife cut angles on the inner edge. Photos14 – 16 show how I sanded the inside edge of the rim using a folded piece of medium grit emery paper. The idea was to work on the inner edge and slowly and carefully bring it back to round and remove the remaining damage left by the knife. After the cleanup I used a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the remaining scratch marks left in the surface of the rim (Photo 17).

Photo 11 After reaming

Photo 12 Topping the bowl

Photo 13 Topped bowl

Photo 14 Smoothing the inner edge

Photo 15 Inner edge after smoothing

Photo 16 Close up of the inner edge

Photo 17 Sanding with a fine sanding sponge

With the bowl back in shape and the rim cleaned and sanded it was time to remove the remnants of the finish on the bowl. I wiped the bowl down with acetone on a soft cotton makeup removal pad (Photos 18 – 20). For the acetone I use fingernail polish remover. I have found that it removes the grit and oils that have ground into the bowl as well as the finish. I wiped the bowl down until I was satisfied that I had removed the finish. The best way to tell this is when the pads come back clean and fresh after wiping the bowl down.

Photo 18 Acetone and cotton pads

Photo 19 Acetone and cotton pads

Photo 20 The bowl and cotton pads after being wiped down

In Photo 21 below, the bowl is dry and clean. The finish is gone. At this point I used the drill bit in the handle of the KleenReem tool to clean out the airway in the shank and bowl. I find that this tool quickly removes the buildup in the airway and is the best way to minimize the number of pipe cleaners used to clean out the shank. I carefully twist the bit into the airway making sure not to twist it through the airway and into the other side of the bowl bottom (Photos 22 – 23).

Photo 21 Clean bowl with KleenReem Pipe Cleaner

Photo 22 Drill bit from the handle

Photo 23 Drill bit inserted into the airway

I cleaned out the double rings around the bowl using a dental pick. I wiped the bowl down with Everclear as I ran the dental pick in the grooves on the bowl. The amount of dried stain and grit that comes out of the rings makes me always take this step when I am cleaning a bulldog or Rhodesian shaped bowl (Photos 24 – 25).

Photo 24 Cleaning the rings

Photo 25 Rings cleaned

Now it was time to turn my attention to the internals of the shank – both the airway and the condensation chamber in the Peterson pipes. In the bents this is the area I call the sump. It collects a lot of tar and oils from the smoke that is drawn through it. It takes detailed work to remove all of the grime. In this case I used many pipe cleaners – both bristle and fluffy as well as cotton swabs to clean out the area. I folded the pipe cleaners in half to give me the area needed to clean out the walls of the shank. Photos 26 – 28 show the work and the resultant pile of cleaners. I cleaned out the area until the pipe cleaners came out clean and the pipe smelled clean.

Photo 26 Time to clean the shank

Photo 27 Folded and inserted

Photo 28 Many pipe cleaners later

For the silver ferrule/cap on the shank I used a jeweler’s cloth that I purchased at a local jewelry shop. It is impregnated with a cleaning solution that effectively removes the level of tarnish found on this cap. I wiped down the cap with the cloth repeatedly until the tarnish was gone and the silver gleamed. Photos 29 – 31 show the polished cap and the cleaned bowl.

Photo 29 Polished cap

Photo 30 Polished cap

Photo 31 Polished cap

With the bowl ready to restain, it was time to turn my attention to the stem. As mentioned above there were some dents and divots in the stem and button area. These would take some work. There are several different procedures that I used in addressing the issues in this stem. I always begin by sanding the area around the dents with 220 grit sandpaper to better assess the damaged areas. If the dents are merely dents then heat will lift them and the stem will return to its smooth surface. If however the dents have edges that are cut then no amount of heat will lift the areas and other methods will need to be employed. In this case the dents were indeed just dents and heat would lift those (Photos 32 – 33). The divots out of the top side of the button and the underside ridge were another matter. To reshape the 90 degree angle on the top side of the button I used a square needle file. I cleaned up the edge of the button and the place it met the surface of the stem (Photos 34 – 35). I used the same file on the bottom side of the button ridge/shelf as well. Again the idea was to clean up the edges and sharpen them the angles (Photo 36). These areas needed to be redefined in order to have the sharp and distinct edges that were originally there.

Photo 32 Topside after sanding

Photo 33 Bottom side after sanding

Photo 34 Reshaping the angles on the button topside

Photo 35 Angles reshaped with files

Photo 36 Reshaping the angles on the button bottom side

I used a Bic lighter to heat the stem surface. The key to this is to quickly move the flame across the surface of the dented areas. Do not leave it in one place too long as it will burn the vulcanite. Quickly passing it over the surface repeatedly and checking often I was able to lift the dents from both the topside and underside of the stem (Photos 37 – 39).

Photo 37 Using a Bic Lighter to lift the dents on the underside of the stem

Photo 39 Underside of the stem after heating

Photo 38 Using a Bic Lighter to lift the dents on the top side of the stem

I sanded the newly smoothed surface with a medium grit sanding sponge. When I finish heating a stem, whether I use a Bic lighter or a heat gun, I sand it to ensure that I have finished lifting the dents. It is easy to be fooled when removing it from the heat. If it needs a bit more heat after the sanding it is a simple task and best done before progressing to the next steps of sanding the stems (Photos 40-41).

Photo 40 Top side sanded with a sanding sponge

Photo 41 Underside sanded with a sanding sponge

To repair the missing chunk of briar from the inside of the shank I used some Weldbond wood glue and briar dust. It is water soluble until it dries and then is hard and impermeable. I cleaned the surface area of the shank and then put the glue in place. I moved it around the area, pressed briar dust into the glue and cleaned up the surrounding area with a dental pick (Photo 42). I set it aside to dry while I returned to the stem cleanup.

Photo 42 Shank repair

For several years now I have been using black superglue (cyanoacrylate) to repair divots from the button and stem areas. It is glue that has been used medically in the field by medics to repair tears in the skin so I believe it is safe. It dries very hard and shiny black and does not disintegrate with cleaning once it is cured. Once the stem is buffed and polished the repair is virtually invisible. On this pipe I needed to build up the divots on the edge of the button on the topside and the ridge on the underside. I purchased the black superglue from Stewart Macdonald, a supplier of repair products for musical instruments (http://www.stewmac.com/). It is slow drying so you may want to consider purchasing an accelerator product from them as well. I apply the glue to the areas I am repairing and set it aside overnight (Photos 43 – 45). It dries hard in about 6-8 hours and cures in just over twelve hours. I find that once it is dry to touch I can sand the surface and blend it into the stem.

Photo 43 Black Superglue on the ridge of the button

Photo 44 Black Superglue on the topside divot on the button

Photo 46 Superglue dried on the underside ridge

Photo 47 Glue dried on the topside

The next series of photos show the progressive sanding of the stem with 1500-12,000 grit micromesh sanding pads (Photos 48 – 59). These are also available through Steward Macdonald as well as other fine woodworking stores or can be ordered online.

Photo 48 Sanding the topside with 1500 grit micromesh

Photo 49 Sanding the underside with 1500 grit micromesh

Photo 50 Sanding the topside with 1800 grit micromesh

Photo 51 sanding the underside with 1800 grit micromesh

Photo 52 Sanding the topside with 2400 grit micromesh

Photo 53 Sanding the underside with 2400 grit micromesh

Photo 54 Sanding the topside with 3200 and 3600 grit micromesh

Photo 55 Sanding the underside with 3200 and 3600 grit micromesh

Photo 56 Sanding the topside with 4000 and 6000 grit micromesh

Photo 57 Sanding the underside with 4000 and 6000 grit micromesh

Photo 58 Sanding the topside with 8000 and 12,000 grit micromesh

Photo 59 Sanding the underside with 8000 and 12,000 grit micromesh

By this time the shank repair was dry. Photos 60 and 61 show the dried and finished repair. I used a small piece of folded 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repaired area.

Photo 60 Finished shank repair

Photo 61 Finished shank repair

I wanted to match the stain on the pipe to the original stain on this line of pipes so I researched the line on the internet and found the picture below (Photo 62) that gave me a good idea of what the stain colour should be. In studying the photo I could see both brown and red stains were used to bring out this colouration. For me this would be a two step staining process.

Photo 62 Correct stain colour

I started with a dark brown aniline stain. I have used Feibing’s Leather Dye for years as it is an aniline based stain and works very well. I thinned it 2:1 with Isopropyl alcohol to get the brown I wanted in the undercoat (2 parts stain to 1 part alcohol). I remove the stem for the staining and insert a dental pick in the shank for a handle to hold while I turn the bowl in my hands during the staining. I applied it to the bowl with a folded pipe cleaner. Once the bowl was covered with stain and while it is wet I light it on fire with a lighter. This is called flaming. It burns off the alcohol and sets the stain more deeply into the grain of the briar. Generally I start by staining the bottom of the pipe first as the stain runs toward the top naturally and then follow up with the side, back and front of the bowl. I stain the rim last and am careful to not get stain inside the bowl. I repeat the process of staining and flaming the bowl until I am happy with the coverage. Photos 63 – 66 show the bowl after it has been stained, flamed, and stained and flamed again.

Photo 63 Stained bowl topside view

Photo 64 Stained bowl right side

Photo 65 Stained bowl left side

Photo 66 Stained bowl underside

I hand buffed the newly stained pipe with a soft cotton terry cloth (old piece of bath towel) until the finish had a shine. I do this to check the coverage of the undercoat. I want to make sure that the coverage is even and that there are no heavy spots or weak spots before I give the pipe the next coat of stain (Photos 67-68).

Photo 67 Right side after hand buffing

Photo 68 Left side after hand buffing

I applied the second stain to the bowl. For this I used an oxblood coloured aniline paste stain. I don’t worry about getting it on the stem as it is thicker and does not run when applied. I start at the bottom of the bowl out of habit with this stain. I work my way around the bowl, making sure to get an even coverage of stain and finish the process by carefully staining the rim (Photos 69 – 70). Once it is applied I let it dry for about 3 minutes and then wipe it off with a soft cloth and cotton pads. I want the colour to stay in the briar but not be wet on the surface (Photos 71 – 73). Again I check for coverage to make sure I have an even colour over the entire bowl. I reapply stain to weak spots to blend them into the colour. I want an even stain coat on the entire bowl. I hand buffed the bowl a second time to check on the colour and compare it against the photograph that I had found online (Photos 74 – 77).

Photo 69 Oxblood stain applied

Photo 70 Oxblood stain applied

Photo 71 Right side after being wiped down

Photo 72 Leftside after being wiped down

Photo 73 Top side after being wiped down.

Photo 74 Right side after hand buffing

Photo 75 Leftside after hand buffing

Photo 76 Top side after hand buffing

Photo 77 Underside after hand buffing

While I liked the colour of the bowl I found that it was too dark to really match the photo colour. I wet a cotton pad with acetone and wiped the bowl down to reduce the opacity of the stain and lighten it slightly. I only wiped it down once and carefully covered the whole bowl in one detailed wipe down to keep the coverage even. The new colour look lighter and almost appears to be too light but I have learned that after I buff it and give it several coats of wax it will be a match.

Photo 78 Right side after being wiped down with acetone

Photo 79 Leftside after being wiped down with acetone

Photo 80 Underside after being wiped down with acetone

Photo 81 Topside after being wiped down with acetone

I took the bowl to the buffer and gave it a quick buff with White Diamond on the buffing wheel. It gave the bowl a good shine. I brought it back to my work table and applied a coat of Conservator’s Wax which is a microcrystalline wax and cleaner. I have found that this gives the bowl a deeper polish and shine. After that I generally take it to the buffing wheel and give it multiple coats of carnauba wax (Photos 82 – 83).

Photo 82 After buffing and waxing

Photo 83 After buffing and waxing

At this point in the process of refurbishing the work is just about finished. The cleanup and restoration work is done and all that remains is to apply the final coats of carnauba wax to polish and protect the “new” look of your pipe.

The final photos show the finished pipe. It has had several coats of carnauba wax and was buffed with a clean flannel buffing pad on the buffer. The shine is deep and rich. The stem looks new and the rich dark shine reflects light well.The tooth marks are gone and there is no sign of their earlier presence. The bowl is back in round and ready to load up and smoke.

Photo 84 Right side view of the finished pipe.

Photo 85 Left side view of the finished pipe

Photo 86 Bottom side view of the finished pipe

Photo 87 Top view of the finished pipe

Photo 88 Top view of the finished pipe

Restoring a 1919 AGE EXTRA Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

Before I left for my work trip to Nepal and India I received an email from a reader of the blog regarding an old 1919 pipe that had come into his possession. I include the first email here for the information that he included.

I realize that you must get hundreds of requests to work on peoples pipes, and that your back log is most likely prohibitive in my case, but I do have a request for your work.

I’ve been following your site for some time now and have become a fan of your work. Many of your tips and photos have helped me on my path of repairing pipes. This pipe that I’ve recently purchased is too precious and too well made for my skill level.

My pipe is a 1919 AGE Extra Bulldog, hallmarked London. Naturally there is the added significance that this year is its 100th birthday. I would like to request a full restore (as much as could be done) to ensure it makes it to see its 200th birthday, although I won’t be around to see it. The idea of this humble pipe, in my care, making it well past my time here on the planet is breathtaking in its scope.

I appreciate the time you’ve given to my request and I hope to hear back from you.

Kind Regards, Kerry

He included the pictures that follow as part of the temptation to do the restoration on this old timer. It is a good thing he did because I am not currently taking on any more work. I have a backlog of pipes to work on that will take me at least the rest of the next year of more to complete. However, there was something interesting and even compelling about this old pipe. The age and condition interested me as did the brand. I am unfamiliar with the AGE brand but the brand spoke to me. A few emails went back and forth and I decided to have him send it to me to have a look at the pipe and decide what I wanted to do. It arrived shortly before I left for Nepal. I looked it over and made a decision to take it on as a project and see what I could do with it. It was an intriguing looking pipe that is for sure. The bowl had a lot of nicks and dings in the finish. The exterior of the pipe was dirty with grime and grit rubbed into the surface of the finish. The silver band was tarnished and dirty but the stamping and hallmarks were quite readable. The rim top was badly damaged. The inner edge of the bowl was damaged and the bowl was slightly out of round. The exterior was also damaged. The stamping on the left side of the shank was readable. It read AGE in an oval over EXTRA. The silver band also read AGE in an oval over EXTRA. There were also hallmarks as shown above. There was also a diamond with a banner and a R.J. stamp on it. The stem would not sit correctly in the shank. The stem had some tooth marks in front of the button on both sides of the stem and some tooth chatter on both surfaces. There was an inlaid silver O on the left side of the saddle stem. I took close up photos of the bowl and rim as well as the stem to show the condition of the pipe when it arrived. You can see the damage to the rim top and inner edge of the bowl. The oxidation on the silver band and the tooth chatter and damage to the stem and button edges on both sides of the stem. I also took a photo of the shank and the band to show the stamping in the silver. I took a photo of the stem removed from the shank to show the inner tube and the condition of the tenon and tube. The build up on the tenon was part of the reason for the stem not seating in the shank.The maker of the brand was a bit of a mystery to me. Checking my usual sources I found absolutely no information on the AGE brand. There was no info on the Pipedia website or on the Pipephil site on the brand. I also checked on Who Made That Pipe by Wilczak and Colwell. There I found two possible makers fro the brand. They are shown in the screen capture below.The two options were La Bruyere 1918 a French made briar and also Salmon & Gluckstein an English made briar. The hallmarks on the band seemed to point to an English connection so I did some more looking online to identify the company who made the pipe.

I turned first to a website on English silver marks. I was specifically looking for information on the R.J. stamp on the silver to help identify the silversmith. I did a screen capture of the section on the R.J. stamp matching the one on the silver band on the pipe in question. Here is the link to the website: http://www.silvercollection.it/englishsilvermarksXRDUE.html. It identifies the R.J. in a rectangle and a lozenge as the mark of Reuben Jordan. They were active in London. The page also gave a link to a Makers, Pipe Mounters Marks page.I followed the link on that page to the section on Tobacconists, etc. On that page I could see that the Reuben Jordan – London silversmith did bands for Imperial Tobacco Co. in London. That brought this part of the investigation to a close in terms of the pipe maker in question taken from the silver hallmarks. http://www.silvercollection.it/DICTIONARYTOBACCONISTR.html Now I turned to do some work on the information given by Who Made That Pipe. Their identification of the brand as having made by Salmon & Gluckstein brand name was what I wanted to work on at this point. It was clearly an English made pipe as determined from the above information I had found thus far with the hallmarks and silver makers marks. I turned to Pipephil’s site to see what he had on the brand (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-s2.html). I did a screen capture of the listing on the brand and have included it below.From the information found about the brand on that page I learned that it was a long time brand in London and that it had been bought out by Imperial Tobacco Co. in 1902. Since that was prior to the purported date of this pipe it made sense that it was made by Imperil Tobacco Co. The brand continued under their manufacture until 1955 when the brand was dropped. The pipe fit within the time frame of the stamping on the silver band.

I then turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Salmon_%26_Gluckstein) to further read about the brand. The article on Pipeia quote from Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks, by José Manuel Lopes. It read in full as follows:

Salmon & Gluckstein was an early 20th century English distribution chain, with its own pipe catalog, probably made by La Bruyère. It had over 100 shops in England, which after being purchased by Imperial Tobacco Co., changed their name to Bewlay.

The Pipedia link actually put the two brands from Who Made That Pipe both the Salmon & Gluckstein connection and the La Bruyere come together with the purchase of the company by Imperial Tobacco Co. Interestingly it also ties the brands to a brand I am very familiar with- Bewlay. Given that information it appears that the pipe was a brand of the Imperial Tobacco Co. and linked to the Salmon & Gluckstein brand.

Now it was time to try to figure out the date of the pipe from the hallmarks on the band. I examined them with a lens and found the following information. The first hallmark was a lower case “d”  in a shield. This was the date letter on the pipe. The second hallmark was a lion passant in a shield. The emblem connects the pipe to London assay offices. It also identifies the band as being silver. The third hallmark was a leopard’s head uncrowned which identifies the pipe as English made between 1821 and the present.

I knew now that the pipe was London Made with a silver hallmark identifying a London silversmith identified by the R.J. stamp noted above as Reuben Jordan. The only thing left to fully learn about the pipe from the stamp was the date to be determined from the “d” stamp.

I turned to a website that I regularly use to identify the dates on English made hallmarks. The link is: http://www.silvercollection.it/englishsilverhallmarks.html. The screen capture of the chart on the left shows the dates and letter marks from 1916-1935.

Kerry had correctly identified the date of the pipe as being made in 1919. I always love when the pieces all come together and I can arrive at both a manufacturer and a date for the pipe.

Armed with this information I turned to work on the pipe. I started by cleaning up the silver with silver polish to remove the tarnish from the band. I rubbed the material on the band and polished it with a cotton pad to remove both the tarnish and polish the pipe.

I reamed out the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer using the first three cutting heads to remove the cake. The bowl needed some work at the rim as it was out of round and I needed to see what I was dealing with so I took it back to bare briar. I cleaned up the remnants of cake with a Savinelli Fitsall knife and then sanded the bowl insides with sandpaper on a dowel. Afterwards I examined the bowl and could see that the walls were solid and that with a little work I could bring the bowl close to round. I cleaned the internals of the pipe with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the debris inside the mortise and the airway into the bowl and the stem. I scraped the mortise walls with a dental spatula to remove the tars that had hardened on the walls. To deal with the damaged rim top I topped it lightly on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damage and remove the roughness of the rim. It did not take too much work to remove the damage and give me a flat surface to work with in the restoration.I polished the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding with 1500-12000 grit pads as suggested by Paresh on my recent trip to Pune, India. I have to say that is working very well. I wanted to polish out the scratches so that I could work on matching the stain on the rest of the pipe and finish that portion of the restoration. I steamed out the dents around the bowl sides and cap with a wet cloth and a hot butter knife. I was able to reduce many of them. As is usual when steaming out the dents with a knife and stem there was some discolouration on the bowl sides that would generally disappear with polishing. I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush. I rinsed the bowl off with warm water under the tap and dried it with soft cloth. I used a dark brown (Walnut) and black stain pen to blend a stain to match the colour of the rest of the bowl. I rubbed it into the surface of the polished rim top and blended it with an alcohol dampened cotton pad. I was able to get a perfect match to the bowl colour.I polished the silver on the band with a jeweler’s polishing cloth. I worked it over the surface trying to get the tarnish from the stamping. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm, working it into the grain of the briar. The balm enlivens, refreshes and protects the briar. In this case it brought life back into the old piece of briar. While some of the dents and scratches were gone others remained. I left the remaining dents in the briar as ongoing testimony to the journey of this pipe. I only wish that it could tell its story. I let the balm sit on the briar and then buffed it out with a soft cotton cloth to raise the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. It had deep tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem near the button. I painted the stem surface with the flame of a lighter to lift the dents in the vulcanite. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the tooth chatter in the surface and cleanup around the dents in preparation for the repairs. I cleaned out the dents with a cotton swab and alcohol. I filled them in with clear superglue and set the stem aside to cure. Once the repairs cured I used a needle file to redefine the button edge and also smooth out the repairs to the dent. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sand paper and 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to smooth out the sanding marks in the vulcanite. I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I have been trying wet sanding with all of the pads after discussions with Paresh while we were in Pune, India. It does seem to give the stem a good shine and reduce the scratching. I finished the polishing with Before & After Pipe Polish – both fine and extra fine polishes. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing wheel to raise the shine. I polished the band with a jeweler’s cloth once more, then hand buffed the entire pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. This 100 year old AGE EXTRA Bulldog is a beautiful pipe. The grain really stands out with a combination of birdseye, cross grain and swirls surrounding the bowl give it a rich look. The rich contrasting brown and black stains makes the grain stand out while hiding the dents that remain. I left the remaining dents in the briar to leave the story of the pipe’s travels intact. It is a proportionally well carved pipe. The polished black vulcanite stem had a rich glow. The finished pipe is a beautiful straight Bulldog that feels good in the hand and the mouth. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This pipe will be going back to Kerry next week. I am excited to hear what he thinks of this beauty. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as it was a pleasure to work on.

 

Restoration of an Unbranded Bulldog


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

To date, I have completed the restorations of six Dunhill, a Stefano “Exclusive” and a no-name, but handsomely crafted, Italian bent billiards from my “Mumbai Bonanza” lot. Continuing with this lot, the pipe on my work table now is a straight Bulldog, again without any brand or COM stamping. However, the presence of a Red Dot on the stem may offer some clue about its origin. However, I must admit that unlike the previous unbranded bent billiard, this pipe does have minor quality issues. Let’s see if I am able to fix a few of them during the refurbishing process.

For those readers who haven’t been following my faltering and baby steps on this journey, I was fortunate enough to have heeded the advice of my dear friend and mentor, Mr. Steve, and struck a deal with a trash collector from Mumbai. He did not know what he was selling and I did not know what I was buying as we reside in different cities!! The argument that Mr. Steve presented was that if not anything, I shall at least have some spares and this was logical. I struck a deal and here are pictures of the pipes that I received in this lot. This lot contains some very nice collectible pipes, a few well known brands and some mediocre brands. Overall, with seven Dunhill pipes, a Preben Holm #1, a couple of “Made in England” Pete System pipes, a couple of  Charatan’s Belvedere, Custom-Bilt, Stanwell and other assorted pipes, I would say that I had struck a decent haul!!! This is indeed my “Mumbai Bonanza”.

The pipe that I decided to work on from this find is an unbranded straight Bulldog with a diamond saddle stem, and is indicated in red colored arrow in the picture below. It is stamped on the left side of the shank as Aged over Imported Briar, in italics. The stummel is devoid of any other stampings. The only clue which may help in tracing the origins of this pipe is in the form of a Red Dot on the left surface of the diamond saddle stem. The bowl surface show four worm like rustications, which are akin to the ones seen on Wally Frank era Custombilt pipes, two each on either side roughly where one would hold the pipe while smoking. Similarly, one each worm rustication is seen on either side of the bottom surface of the diamond shank. I searched pipephil.eu for any information on this pipe by visiting their “Logos with dots & spots” link, however, without any success. My next attempt to identify the maker of this pipe was by visiting pipedia.org and again I came to a naught. However, the IMPORTED BRIAR stampings are generally associated with pipes designated for American markets and this is where the trail (if at all there was any!!!) ends. If any of the readers has any viable input on this pipe, you are most welcome to share it with the community in form of comments on rebornpipes.com.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
There is a thin layer of cake in the chamber. In order to comment on the condition of the walls of the chamber, I need to ream the cake down to the bare briar. The rim top surface is covered with a minor overflow of lava through which the inner rim edge looks intact. A few minor dents and dings are visible on the rim top surface. The outer edge of the rim, again, is in pristine condition. There is a sweet odor to the chamber. It is here within the chamber that the first quality issue is seen; the draught hole is ever so slightly off-center towards the right side, indicated by yellow arrow.The stummel boasts of some beautiful mixed pattern of straight and cross grain all around. It is dirty with grime, oils and tars covering the stummel surface and added to this are a few dents and dings to the sides and front of the stummel. The worm rustications are filled with dust and dirt and can be seen in the pictures below. The double ring separating the cap from the rest of the stummel is intact and crisp. The end of the shank has an aluminum band which is threaded and extends in to mortise in to which fits the threaded tenon stinger. The band and internal threaded extension is nice and clean with a ‘like new’ shine. Coming to the stem, this is where the second quality issue is seen; the stem appears and feels to be made of plastic (not very sure, as I have seen such shiny vulcanite stems before). The upper and lower surfaces shows heavy tooth chatter in the bite zone, including bite marks to the button. The button on either surface will have to be sharpened and made crisp. The threaded stinger tenon is clean, with no signs of accumulated oils and tars. The condition of the stem airway can be ascertained once it is being cleaned with alcohol and pipe cleaners. The aluminum spacer, that houses the stinger, is clean. The alignment of the diamond shank end with that of the saddle stem is perfect. The third quality issue is that the shoulders around the horizontal slot appear to be sawed off. It is uneven with heavy scratches. THE PROCESS
As decided during my initial appreciation of the condition of the pipe, I start this project by tackling the stem first. I avoid flaming the stem surface with the flame of a Bic lighter to raise the tooth indentation as I am not very sure about the stem material being of plastic or vulcanite. I play it safe and sand the stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. This helps in getting rid of the oxidation while providing a smooth surface for the intended fills to reconstruct the damaged bite zone on both surfaces and also the button edges. I wiped the stem surface with a cotton swab dipped in Isopropyl alcohol. I thereafter, rub a small quantity of EVO oil to hydrate the stem and it was then that I was assured that the stem is vulcanite and my appreciation was incorrect. I cleaned out the tenon and the internals of the stem with hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. Once I was satisfied with the internal cleaning, I again wiped the stem surface, particularly the damaged button end, with a cotton pad and alcohol to remove any traces of dirt and grime. This was followed by sanding the horizontal slot shoulders on a piece of 220 grit sand paper to level the surface and even out the deep scratches. I shall further smooth it out during polishing the stem. I prepared a mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal and carefully applied it over the damaged bite zone on both surfaces and lip and set it aside for curing over night. Before moving ahead, I would like to mention here that I had applied this mix in sufficient thickness which would help during the filing and sanding to match the fills with the stem surface and shaping the button.While the stem repair was set aside to cure, I moved ahead to deal with the stummel cleaning. With size 3 head of a PipNet reamer, I took the cake down to bare briar. Using a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper, I sand out the last traces of cake and expose the walls of the chamber to ascertain that there are no cracks/ heat fissures. I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol to remove the carbon dust left behind by all the reaming and sanding process. The walls of the chamber were solid with no damage. This was followed by gently scraping away the lava overflow from the rim top surface with my fabricated knife. I cleaned the mortise by using cue tips, pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This eliminated all traces of old smells from previous usage. The minor dents and dings to the rim top surface were addressed by topping it over 220 grit sandpaper. I followed up the internal cleaning with external refreshing of the stummel surface. Using a hard bristled tooth brush dipped in undiluted Murphy’s oil soap, I very deliberately scrubbed the stummel and the rim top to remove the overflow of lava from these surfaces. The stummel and rim top was dried using paper napkins and soft cotton cloth and set it aside to dry out naturally. The stummel looks clean, but the rim top surface is considerably lighter than the surrounding stummel surface.  I set the stummel aside and turned my attention to the stem repair. The fill had cured nicely and I moved ahead and began the process of filing and shaping the button end with a flat head needle file. For a better blending, I further sand the entire stem with 220 followed by 400, 600 and 800 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, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with alcohol after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rehydrate the vulcanite. The repairs have blended in very well and the stem now looks shiny black and beautiful. The internals of the stem was once again cleaned out using alcohol and pipe cleaners to clear the airway of all the debris resulting due to the sanding. The finished stem is shown below. By the time I was through with the stem restoration, the stummel had dried out nicely. Using the micromesh pads, I complete the polishing cycle by wet sanding the surface with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 girt pads. I paid special attention to the topped rim top surface during the polishing. The stummel looks great with the grains showing themselves in great splendor, though the rim top surface continues to look a shade lighter. I really like this natural finish to the briar!! I stained the rim top with a dark brown stain pen, applying it in layers and set it aside to set overnight. I deliberately stained it a bit darker as this lightens out subsequently during the buffing and polishing process.  Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for about 20 minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful mixed bird’s eye and cross grains on full display. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. To complete the restoration, I re-attach the stem with the stummel. I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel to my local machine which is similar to the Dremel.  I set the speed at about half of the full power and applied White Diamond compound to the entire pipe. I wiped/ buffed the pipe with a soft cotton cloth to clear it of any leftover compound dust. With a cotton buffing wheel earmarked for Red Tripoli, which has a finer grit than White compound, I buffed the stem to a fine glossy finish. I then re-attach the stem to the stummel, mounted another cotton cloth wheel on to the polishing machine and applied several coats of carnauba wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The completed pipe looks lovely, fresh and vibrant. If only this handsome pipe could share the secret of its birth, carver and its past life with all of us……if only!! Cheers.

Restoring a French Made Butz Choquin Camargue 1310 Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table Jeff picked up at an antique shop near his home in Idaho. It is a Butz Choquin Made in France pipe. On one side is written Butz Choquin over Camargue. On the other side St. Claude is arched over France with the shape number 1310 under that. On the horn coloured Lucite shank extension are the initials BC in a clear acrylic insert. The military bit stem is vulcanite and has a slight bend in it. It is lightly oxidized and there are deep tooth marks on both sides of the stem near the button and wear on the button on the underside. There are also some dents on the top and underside near the bend. The smooth finish is very dirty and dusty. The rim top has a thin coat of lava near the back side. The bowl has a thick cake that flows onto the back of the bowl rim. It is hard to know if the inner edge of the rim is in good condition because of the lava and cake. The outer edge looks very good. Jeff took the following photos before he started his clean up. Jeff took a photo of the rim top and bowl. You can see the lava on the back side of the rim that obscures the condition of the rim edge. You can see the condition of the bowl as well in the photo.He took photos of the heel and the sides of the bowl to give a clear picture of the remarkable grain on this beautiful pipe.The next photo is a bit of a mystery to me… there is clearly a crack shown in the photo of the somewhere on the bowl. The problem is that it is not clear where it is on the bowl in the photo. Is it the heel or a side or…? I will have to go over the bowl with a light and a lens to hunt for it as I restore the pipe. It should be easy to repair once I find it!The next two photos capture the stamping on the left and right side of the shank. The third photo shows the BC logo on the horn coloured Lucite shank extension. The stamping on the left side reads Butz Choquin at an angle up the shank toward the shank end and underneath it is stamped Camargue. The other side is stamped with the St. Claude, France stamp and the shape number 1310. The last two before photos show the condition of the stem. You can see the tooth marks on both sides of the stem along the length of the stem. You can also see the calcification and oxidation on the stem. It is dirty but very repairable.When the pipe arrived it was my turn to do my part of the restoration work. Jeff had reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove lava build up on the rim top and you could see the great condition of the bowl top and edges of the rim. There was still some darkening to the rim top toward the back of the bowl. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the condition of the bowl and rim after Jeff had cleaned up the grime and lava. Both the inner edge of the rim look good. There was some damage on the front outer edge. The stem photos show that the oxidation is gone. The light tooth chatter is hard to see but I should be able to sand it out quite easily. The tooth marks on the top and underside and the scratching and gouges will take a little more work to remove. The damage to the button top on the underside is also going to take some work.I also took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank showing how the stamping was laid out. The Camargue stamp is quite faint. To clean up the rim top damage and minimize the roughness on the front outer edge I lightly topped the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board. I did not have to do too much topping as the damage was not too extreme.I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad to remove the sanding dust. It was during this process that I found the crack. It is on the right side of the bowl toward the back. I have circled it in red to highlight it. Now that I had found the crack and checked that it was not deep and not on the inside of the bowl it was time to address it. I drilled the ends of the crack with a microdrill bit to stop the crack from spreading. I filled in the pin holes and the crack surface with clear super glue. I spread some briar dust on the top of the repaired areas and pressed it into the drill holes with a dental spatula. I set it aside to cure. Once the repair cured I sanded it smooth with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surface of the briar. I started the polishing process with 400 grit sandpaper. I polished the area with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads and wiped the area down with alcohol.I restained the pipe with a Tan aniline stain to blend the repaired areas into the rest of the finish. Sometimes it pays to stain the entirety of a bowl rather than fuss with trying to match an area this large into the rest of the surrounding briar. I flamed and stained and repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage. I set the bowl aside to dry.I buffed the bowl with red Tripoli on the buffing wheel to remove thick overcoat of stain. I sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to smooth out the stain coat coverage. I followed that by wet sanding it with a 1500 grit micromesh sanding pad to even out the coverage of stain across the bowl sides and over the repaired crack. I have really come to appreciate many of Mark Hoover’s Before & After Products. One of my favourites is his Restoration Balm. I worked some of the Balm into the finish of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let it sit for a short time and buffed it off with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Restoration Balm really makes the pipe take on a rich glow. I set the finished bowl aside and turned to address the issues with the stem. I filled in the deep tooth marks and nicks in the stem surface and button with clear super glue. I set it aside to cure. Once the repairs had cured I used a needle file to smooth out the repairs and then a folded piece of 240 grit sandpaper to blend the tooth marks and chatter into the surface of the stem. After the surface was smooth I sanded out the scratch marks and started the polishing of the stem with a folded piece of 400 grit sandpaper. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and gave it a final coat and set it aside to dry.  I put the stem and bowl back together and buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem with multiple coats of Carnauba Wax. I buffed the bowl and stem with a clean buffing pad until there was a rich shine then hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. This Butz Choquin Camargue Bent Billiard with a faux horn acrylic shank extension is a beautiful pipe. The grain really stands out with a combination of birdseye, cross grain and swirls surrounding the bowl give it a rich look. The rich contrasting brown stains makes the grain stand out while hiding the repaired cracks. It is a proportionally well carved pipe. The polished black vulcanite stem had a rich glow. The finished pipe is a beautiful bent billiard that feels good in the hand and the mouth. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 1/2 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I will be putting this beauty on the rebornpipes online store soon. If you are interested let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as it was a pleasure to work on.

Recommissioning an Interesting Trent Lev-O-Lator Bent Billiard


Blog by Dal Stanton

This interesting Trent Lev-O-Lator came to me in a lot from Craig’s list.  One of the great things about friends and family knowing that I restore pipes for the Daughters of Bulgaria is that I have eyes all over the world watching for pipes!  Jon, a colleague working in the same organization, was in the US for a time of furlough after working in Ukraine and was in the Philadelphia area.  This lot of several pipes came up on Craig’s List in his locality and he sent me an email concerning them.  He went to look at them and gave me some descriptions, and many of the pipes were beyond a state of being restored, but for the price being asked, the remaining pipes would make it worthwhile.  Here is picture of the Craig’s List Lot that Jon acquired for me.  As a bonus, the pipe racks would be nice to have here in Bulgaria!They finally made it to Bulgaria where I sorted them and posted many of them online in my For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection where pipe men and women can commission a pipe to be restored that ‘speaks’ to them.  Andy has commissioned pipes before and is a return patron of The Pipe Steward.  Before my wife and I moved to Europe with our family over 25 years ago, Andy and his wife, were part of a church in Maryland that I helped start.  Previously, I restored a very nice Monarch Pat. 1989069 – 1074H Bent Ball for Andy as well as create a Churchwarden from a repurposed bowl and had fun with the write-up calling it, Fashioning a Churchwarden from a Forlorn, Throw away Billiard – a story of the Phoenix.  Andy returned to the ‘Dreamers!’ collection and another pipe spoke to him, a Trent Lev-O-Lator, part of the Craig’s List Lot from Jon.  Here are pictures of the pipe that got Andy’s attention. The nomenclature stamped on the left flank of the shank is ‘TRENT’ [over] ‘LEV-O-LATOR’.  The right side of the shank is stamped ‘IMPORTED BRIAR’ [over] ‘SERIAL 49W-5’.I had never seen this name on a pipe, and I had no idea was a ‘Lev-O-Lator’ was.  My first queries to Pipedia and Pipephil.eu, my regular first stops for information and research, came up empty.  A quick look in my copy of ‘Who Made That Pipe?’ by Wilczak & Colwell, also came up empty.  When I searched more broadly in Google, I came up with two helpful threads.  The first was from Pipes Magazine Forums where another person was asking the same question in 2015 – had anyone any information about a pipe marked ‘Trent Lev-O-Lator’?  He had acquired a Zulu with this nomenclature and was hoping to understand better its provenance.  One helpful response in the thread from ‘eJames’ started to build a road map:

Bruce Peters pipes (and a couple of others) were made by HLT for the Penn Tobacco Co. If this is a Bruce Peters it was most likely made before HLT bought Grabow, probably in the 1940’s.

Taking this information, I returned to Pipedia and found ‘Bruce Peters’ listed among American pipe makers:To understand more about the Henry Leonard & Thomas Inc., I look at the Pipedia article about HLT:

Henry Leonard & Thomas, Inc. (HLT) was founded in Ozone Park, Queens, New York by Henry J. Lavietes and two partners on May 31, 1938. The company patented a stem design for pipes and cigarette holders designed by Henry on March 9, 1943. Henry was the son of David Lavietes, who moved to Sparta, North Carolina in the early 1940s to purchase laurel and rhododendron burl to ship back to his son and HLT. Lavietes decided to stay in Sparta and founded the D&P Pipe Works with his other son Paul, originally as a 15-person operation. David Lavietes was the inventor of the Ajustomatic feature incorporated into Dr. Grabow pipes even today.

There is no mention of “Trent” or “Lev-O-Lator” but there is mention above of David Lavietes’ invention called the ‘Ajustomatic’ which later became a feature of Dr. Grabow pipes when in 1953 (same article) HLT acquired Dr. Grabow.  In the same article, the Popular Mechanics advertisement (LEFT – Courtesy of Doug Valitchka) describes the ‘Ajustomatic’ technology which looks much like the Lev-O-Later.  Here is the text enlarged:I continue to search for more leads and I find one additional thread that shed more light on the path.  This time the thread was from Tapatalk.com, in the “Dr. Grabow Pipes” Thread.  The thread started in 2017 when ‘SpadeFan’ asked:

Found this nice 86 from HL&T stamped BRUCE PETERS and LEV-O-LATOR.  Anyone know what the term LEV-O-LATOR means? Sound like I should plug it in and make coffee or something.Responses in this thread speculated that the ‘Ajustomatic’ and ‘Lev-O-Lator’ were one and the same:

JoeMan: That fitment sure looks a lot like an ajusto…and the cleaner may be identical to that of a Van Roy…and that logo looks a LOT like the Van Roy logo too.  I wonder if it’s a Van Roy production pipe which was then branded as a Bruce Peters.  If so…and if it is Ajusto…then I bet Lev-o-lator is their fancy name for the ajusto function.  

Pipesbywhitney:  I sold one a while back and here are my notes on it; This is a Trent Lev-O-Lator “Serial 49W-5” longer stem pear also stamped “Imported Briar.”  I can find no provenance for Trent pipes but the Import Briar stamping tells us it was most likely American made. The Lev-O-Lator system seems to be a metal drinkless mechanism attached to the tenon similar to many used in various American pipes during the mid-20th Century. I can find a Trend pipe similar to this one made around the same time by the Wm. Demuth Co. in New York so there could be a connect.I could find no additional information specifically placing the ‘Trent’ name in a time-line, but what I can deduce is that the ‘Trent Lev-O-Lator’ is the same ‘Ajustomatic’ internal technology that is traced back to before Dr. Grabow was acquired by HLT in 1953.  Without any specific reference to ‘Trent’, it’s difficult to say much more with certainty.  The Trent Lev-O-Lator on my worktable has the feel of being dated from the 40s to the 60s but this is only speculation.  I would need to find the Trent in a catalog to place it more specifically.Looking at the pipe itself, it’s a very nice half-bent Billiard.  The chamber has some thick cake build-up with the rim showing thick lava flow.  The rim also has two dents on the forward and rear internal edge. The stummel is darkened from grime and age.  I can see a few fills and dents on the briar surface which will require some work.  The stem has oxidation, which is moderate, but the good news is that the bit has little tooth chatter.

True confession is good for the soul: The research that I have just completed examining the ‘Ajustomatic’ technology was done AFTER I started working on the restoration!  With my practice of putting a batch of stems in the Before & After Deoxidizer soak to remove oxidation, I started on this before doing the research.  Unfortunately, I did not realize that the tip of the ‘Lev-O-Lator’ would come off.  This fitment serves as an air regulator which is cool.  Without realizing that it would come off making my attempt to clean the airway with a pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95% much easier, I decided to remove it.  The shank ring was already loose, and I felt I could remount the metal ‘stinger’ the same way I took it off.I heated the entire metal tenon with a Bic lighter.  After it heated up, I wrapped a cotton pad around the tenon and gently applied a little torque with a pair of plyers and voila!  The vulcanite loosened its grip and the Lev-O-Lator came out.  I still didn’t realize the end regulator could be removed.Along with other pipes in queue, I clean the Trent’s stem with pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95% before placing the stems in the soak with Before & After Deoxidizer. After some hours, I fish the Trent’s stem out of the Deoxidizer and let it drain. I then use a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to wipe off the oxidation that had surfaced.  I also work on the cavity of the vacated metal Lev-O-Lator with cotton buds wetted with isopropyl 95% as well with pipe cleaners clearing the airway of the Deoxidizer.I then apply paraffin oil, a mineral oil, to the stem to begin the revitalization of the vulcanite.Now, with an understanding of the research I did previously, I remove the air adjustor of the Lev-O-Lator after I reheat the tenon, insert it into the cavity and then screw the stem to the right to tighten it in the mortise.  When it tightens, I’m able to continue rotating the stem to the right because the metal is still hot.  I rotate the stem clockwise until aligned and then let it cool. The ajusto air regulator is totally clogged with what looks like mud.  I use a dental probe to clean it and wipe it down with a cotton pad and alcohol.I apply a few drops of CA glue to the inside facing of the shank ring and attach it to the stem.  This should hold it in place.Next, I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit and starting with the smallest blade I go to work on the thick cake.  This was the hardest cake build up I think I’ve experienced in any of my previous restorations!  Oh my, it took a good bit of time for the smallest blade head to work through the brick hard cake.  I was careful not to force the blade too aggressively for fear of breaking the blade head.  The blade head finally broke through to the floor of the chamber and I switch to the next larger blade.  I use only 2 blade heads of the 4 available in the Kit and then transition to scraping the chamber using the Savinelli Fitsall Tool which fine tunes reaching to the areas that the blades would not.  Finally, I sand the chamber using 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen and then clean the chamber using a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  After completing the chamber inspection, I detect some small heating cracks running on the chamber wall.  To remedy this, later I’ll coat the chamber wall with pipe mud to provide a layer that will help restart a healthy protective cake.Next, to clean the external surface and work on the lava flow over the rim, I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap on a cotton pad.  I also use a brass wire brush to work on the thick lava flow on the rim.  The grime is thick, and the rim does a good job coming clean, but it’s in pretty rough shape.  I take some pictures to inventory the issues I see on the bowl and rim.  The rim is beat up.  There are divots out of the briar on opposite sides of the rim.  The outer edge of the rim is also dinged and skinned.There are several old fills that are soft and drawn up.  Often this happens after the cleaning and the stummel is wet. I move methodically to each of the fills and excavate the old fill material using a sharp dental probe. To fill these holes, I use briar dust mixed with a thick CA glue.  I put a small mound of briar dust on an index card and I put some CA glue next to the mound.  Using a toothpick, I gradually pull briar dust into the CA glue mixing as I do.  I continue to create the putty until it reaches the thickness of molasses and then I apply small amounts of the briar dust putty to each of the holes including on the rim.  After doing this, I set the stummel aside allowing the patches to cure. Now, turning to the stem, I take some additional pictures to get a closer look.  The upper and lower bit has very little tooth chatter and the button is in relatively good shape.  What stands out about the stem is the very rough surface that remains over the entire stem after the soaking in the Before & After Deoxidizer. To remove any remaining oxidation and to address the rough surface texture, I sand using 240 grade paper.  I also focus on the sharpening and freshening the button area.I then transition to the sink with 600 grade paper and wet sand the entire surface.  Well, during this process, the shank ring that I had attached with CA glue popped off and went down the drain.  Fortunately, after immediately turning off the water, I was able to unattach the trap underneath the sink and retrieve the ring!  I follow wet sanding using 000 grade steel wool.  The stem looks great.On a roll with the stem, I apply the full regimen of micromesh pads to the stem.  First, I wet sand with pads 1500 to 2400 then dry sand with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads, I apply Obsidian Oil to rejuvenate the vulcanite and record that phase with a picture to show that newly polished vulcanite pop!  I then put the stem aside allowing it to dry. With the stem on the sidelines, I look back to the stummel.  The briar dust putty filling the several holes on the rim and stummel surface has cured.  I begin to file each fill mound down with a flat needle file – bringing the mounds down almost to flush with the briar surface.After the filing is complete, I transition to sanding each fill site with 240 grade paper to bring the patches flush with the briar surface and removing all the excess fill material. My normal process order is a little out of order but the grime on the inside of the mortise and airway is patiently waiting.  Using many cotton buds and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%, I attack the internals.  I also employ the full arsenal of dental probes, spoons and shank brushes.  At the end of the carnage pictured below, I have yet to come to a place of declaring the internals clean enough to satisfy me. With the frontal assault paused, I use the slower, more passive approach to continue the cleaning through the night.  Using kosher salt and isopropyl 95% I let it soak and work on the internals.  I first pull and twist a cotton ball to form a wick that I stuff down the mortise and airway with the help of a stiff wire.  The cotton wick serves to draw out the tars and oils.  I then fill the bowl with kosher salt and set the stummel in an egg crate to stabilize it.  I then fill the chamber with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt.  I wait a few minutes as the alcohol recedes and then top it off once more.  I set the stummel aside to soak.The next morning, the salt is not soiled in a great way, but the wick is what is what I want to see.I follow again with a renewed frontal attack using cotton buds and pipe cleaners wetted with alcohol as well as additional scraping the mortise walls with a dental spoon.  Eventually, the buds start surfacing lighter and I call it, ‘Cleaned!’ and move on.With the internals clean, I now focus on the external surface restoration.  I start from the top with the rim by topping the rim using 240 grade sanding paper on the chopping board.  With the damage on the rim, and the briar dust fills on the rim, the topping will give the rim a fresh start with new lines and surface.The half-bent shank reach extends beyond the parallel plane of the rim, so I need to hang the shank over the edge of the board while I top.  With the stummel inverted on the 240 grade paper, I do a tight rotation of the stummel on the corner of the topping board.  I check after a few rotations until it looks clean.I then switch the 240 grade paper with 600 grade paper and rotate the stummel several more times.  I like what I see. Even after the topping, there remains some roughness on the external edge of the rim.  The former divots in the internal rim edge are all but gone, but there are still some slight indents where the briar dust patches are. To remedy this, I create an internal rim bevel.  I start on the internal rim edge using a coarse rolled piece of 120 paper to cut the initial bevel.  I follow this by using 240 and 600 grade papers tightly rolled.  My method of creating the bevel is to pinch the paper against the internal rim edge with my thumb pressing the paper while my index finger puts consistent counter pressure on the external side of the rim and then rotate consistently around the circumference of the rim.  This usually provides a consistent result. I do the same with the external rim edge, but not with the same intent of creating a bevel.  My goal is simply to clean the rim as much as needed.  The result is not only to clean the rim, but to soften the rim presentation. With the rim repair and initial sanding complete, I use sanding sponges for the next phase.  I use coarse, then medium and light grade sponges in that order.  I’m careful to guard the nomenclature during the sanding phases. After completing the sponge sanding, I go directly to sanding with the full regimen of micromesh pads.  I begin by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400 then follow by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000. I love the way the grain emerges during the micromesh process. I now reach a decision point which is not in limbo too long.  I decide to apply a darker brown dye to the Trent stummel primarily to aid in masking the fills which are dark on the briar landscape.  I will use Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye with the flexibility to lighten the aniline dye if I choose. I assemble my desktop staining tools with the Dark Brown Leather Dye in a shot glass to apply with a bent over pipe cleaner.  I begin by wiping the stummel with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean.  I then warm the stummel using a hot air gun.  This heats the briar and expands the grain allowing the dye pigment to have a better reception.When heated, I use the pipe cleaner applicator to paint the stummel with the Dark Brown Leather Dye in sections and then with each painted section I flame the wet aniline dye with the lit candle.  This immediately combusts the alcohol in the dye which flames off with a ‘poof’ and the dye pigment sets in the grain.  I do this methodically around the stummel until the entire stummel is thoroughly covered with the fire crusted dye.  When it’s completed, I set the stummel aside for at least 6 hours to allow the new dye to settle.  This ‘rest’ helps guard against the dye later coming off on the steward’s hands after the first few uses of the pipe when the stummel is heated.  I put the stummel aside and wait.After several hours, I’m ready to unwrap the fired stummel.I mount the felt cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel and set the speed at the lowest RPMs.  This is to reduce the heat generated by the coarser felt wheel as I apply the coarser Tripoli compound.With my wife’s assistance, she takes a few pictures as I ‘unwrap’ the stummel revealing the results of applying Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye to the stummel.  After completing the first round applying Tripoli compound with the felt buffing wheel, I change to a cotton cloth buffing wheel and increase the speed to about 40% full power.  I again apply Tripoli using the cotton cloth wheel which can reach into the crook of the bowl and shank which is not possible with the felt wheel.  After doing this, I go over the entire stummel once more with the cotton cloth wheel using Tripoli compound. This pass using the cotton cloth wheel sharpens the grain lines – making them very distinctive and almost seeming to be luminescent. After completing the application of Tripoli compound, I wipe the stummel with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol not so much to lighten it, because I like the dark shade of the briar, but to blend the new dye and to dissipate possible dye clumps that collected on the surface.After reuniting the Trent stummel and stem once more, I mount the Dremel with another cotton cloth pad, maintaining 40% full power, and apply the finer Blue Diamond compound to the pipe – stem and stummel.  When finished, I buff the pipe with a felt cloth to remove the compound dust from the surface.  Before applying the wax, I have one project left to accomplish.  Earlier I noted that there were some heating cracks in the chamber which were not severe enough to warrant the use of J-B Weld but could be addressed though applying a pipe mud. Pipe mud is the mixture of cigar ash and water to form a ‘mud’ that provides a hard, protective coating over the chamber walls and serves as a starter layer to develop a healthy dime width protective cake.  With gratitude to my colleague, Gary, living in the nearby city of Plovdiv, I have cigar ash that he provides me periodically from his passion of smoking Romeo cigars.  I clean the ash through a sifter and it works very well.I mix small amounts of ash and water until I get a mud-like texture.  After putting a pipe cleaner in the airway to block the draft hole from closing, I use a small dental spoon to scoop the mud and deposit it on the chamber wall.  I also use the spoon to spread the mud so that it disperses evenly. After applying the pipe mud, I set the stummel in an egg carton and let the mud dry and harden through the night. The next morning, the mud transformed into the hardened protective layer as hoped.  If Andy is the next steward of this Trent, he should know not to use a metal tool to clean the chamber during the initial stages of use.  After using the pipe, stir the resulting ash carefully and after dumping it, take a folded over pipe cleaner and rub the chamber wall to loosen the debris.  This avoids scraping the new protective layer which will help encourage a new protective cake to develop.Now the homestretch.  I mount another cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel, maintain about 40% full power speed, and apply a few coats of carnauba wax to the Trent Lev-O-Lator Bent Billiard – stem and stummel.  After application of the wax, I give the pipe a hearty hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to disperse any collected wax and to raise the shine.

When I started this restoration, I had never heard of the ‘Lev-O-Lator’ adjustment fitment.  It would be interesting to play with the movable adjuster valve to see what the difference in the experience would be.  The grain on the Trent half-bent Billiard came out very well with the thick, dark grains masking well the fill repairs.  I did not re-glue the shank ring in place – I will leave that to the new steward to determine according to his preferences.  Andy commissioned this Trent Lev-O-Lator Half Bent Billiard from the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection and will have the first opportunity to acquire it at The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria, our work here in Bulgaria among women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thank you for joining me!