Tag Archives: Cracked Shank

New Life for a Wally Frank Super Delicious Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

I have become familiar with many of the Wally Frank lines of pipes but this was one I had not heard of before. It almost sounds like something to eat rather than smoke. It is stamped Wally Frank Ltd on the left side of the shank and on the right Super Delicious – interesting stamping indeed. The pipe was one of the bowls that I had in my box needing to be restemmed. It also had a cracked shank that was present before I matched a stem to it. Often a shank will crack like this if a tenon that is oversized is forced into the shank. That obviously had happened to this old pipe sometime in its life. I found a stem that fit the shank and inserted it enough to show the crack in the shank for the first photo below. The crack approximately ½ inch long and was in a portion of the shank where it was thinner than the other side. One of the challenges in restemming these older pipes is the fact that the shank is very often out of round and the stem has to be shaped to match it accordingly. The bowl has some nice grain on it and was well worth restoring. The remaining three photos in the first group of four show the grain and shape of the pipe. Note that rim was not only darkened but was worn on the front edge of the outer rim.



I reamed out the bowl and removed the cake that was present only in the top half of the bowl. It seemed that the lower portion of the bowl was not even broken in. The top of the bowl needed to be topped to even out the flat top of the bowl. The way the angle was after the tars and grime were removed was d a slight slant toward the front of the bowl and the front edge was rounded from tapping out the bowl repeatedly on a hard surface. I used the board and sandpaper to top the bowl and even out the top. I also made certain that the bowl was held against the board to even out the angle and make the top smooth and flat. The first photo below shows how out of round the shank is in proportion to the mortise. Notice the difference in thickness all around the shank diameter. The crack in the shank is at about 3 o’clock on the shank. The next two photos show the bowl after it has been topped and is even with no slant toward the back or front of the bowl.


After I had topped the bowl and evened things out I wiped the entirety of the bowl down with acetone on a soft cotton pad to remove the grime and the remaining finish on the bowl. It came off almost black when I was finished cleaning it. I then needed to band the crack shank. I opened it with the stem and then dripped a bit of superglue in the crack before pressure fitting the band in place. The first photo below shows the shape of the shank and makes the thin area very clear. This would require quite a bit of shaping to make the stem fit the shank correctly. The next two photos show the banded stem and how it fits on the shank. I kind of like the look of the band against the natural colour of the briar.


The next two photos below show the stem shape after I had removed much of the material at the top left corner of the picture. The stem is round at this point but the tenon is no longer in the center of the stem. It is proportionately toward the top left of the picture and on the top bottom when it is in place in the shank.

At this point in the process I restained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain that I thinned with isopropyl alcohol so that it would match the colour of the bowl. My goal was to match the rim that I had topped and was raw briar to the natural patina of the bowl and shank. I mixed the stain until it was the colour I was aiming for and then stained the entire bowl with multiple applications of the stain to the rim. I flamed the stain and reapplied it to the rim, flamed it again and then took the pipe to the buffer. I buffed the bowl and stem with Tripoli and White Diamond. Once I was done with that I buffed the bowl and shank with multiple coats of carnauba wax to bring depth to the shine and also to blend the rim and bowl together.

I then worked on the oxidation of the stem. I had shaped it to fit the shank with my Dremel and when it fit well I sanded the stem from front to button with 280 grit sandpaper and then 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the oxidation and scratch marks from the Dremel. Once it was smooth I progressed through the micromesh sanding pads from 1500-12,000 grit. In between 4000 and 6000 grits I polished the stem with Maguiar’s Scratch X 2.0 and then finished sanding with the micromesh. I finished the stem with a coat of Obsidian Oil and then multiple coats of carnauba wax to give it shine. The next series of four photos show the finished pipe. It is shined and ready to smoke.




Resurrecting a Barling “Fossil” – Gan Barber

When I put this Barling away in my ‘Lazarus’ box, I thought that it might be from the Early Transition period, and therefore made from the last of that century old Algerian briar that Barling’s were famous for. I had not looked carefully at the nomenclature obscured beneath the grime. Noting that it was a Barling’s, I stored it away, looking forward to the opportunity to smoke from a piece of classic wood.

When I pulled it out and inspected the markings I was disappointed to find it had all the earmarks of a post transition period pipe.  The Barling was in script, the model number had four digits, and T.V.F was stamped on the shank. Further, the bowl was not particularly well carved and there were several major fills – something you would never find on a Pre-transition family era pipe. Oh well. I decided to proceed with the refurb anyways.

I pulled a beautifully grained twin bore saddle bit Canadian from a drawer of miscellaneous pipes that I randomly smoke. It has no maker’s name, and is simply marked “France” 255. What a great smoker. Dry and sweet, it sang with the sample of Rincon De LA Pipe No. 1 sent to me compliments of 4noggins Tobacco.  So, what’s in a name? You just never know…..

The pipe was in poor condition, having been snapped at the bowl junction where the shank was very thin. Image

The airway was also drilled off center, which may have contributed to the break. Image

Dirt and grime aside, the bowl chamber was not scorched or heavily caked. The stem had some tooth marks, but was more dirty than oxidized. Image

The bowl and shank were placed in my trusty container of 91% Isopropyl alcohol (99% is hard to fine in my neck of the woods) and left to soak for several hours. Meanwhile, the stem went into a bath of Oxy-Clean for 30 minutes, mostly to loosen any residual tars in the airway. Once soaked, pulling several bristle cleaners through the airway was all that was needed to clean out the gunk. After wet scrubbing the exterior with synthetic 0000 wool and Oxy-Clean, the stem was set aside to dry.

Once the bowl was done soaking, I cleaned the small amount of cake from the bowl with my Senior reamer, dipping the bowl in the bath to rinse out the bits and pieces that came free. Next, the exterior surfaces were scrubbed with the synthetic 0000 wool, working wet with clean alcohol.

At this point, with the cleaning finished, the Barling was beginning to come back to life. I set the pipe aside for the evening to let everything dry thoroughly before moving on to the bonding phase. Image

I used my favorite epoxy, JB Kwik to bond the shank back to the bowl. I set the two parts on a clean work surface, aligned as closely as possible, before mixing the epoxy. I applied a thin layer to both surfaces. I pressed the shank and bowl together, taking care to align the fracture, and let as much excess as possible squeeze out to minimize the joint. Hand pressure for three minutes is all that is needed for the initial bond. I then set the bowl down and let it rest for another 7 minutes (approximate). Under ideal temperature, humidity and proportioning, JB Kwik reaches a rubbery stage after 10 minutes.  At this point, I removed the excess epoxy that squeezed from the joint with the tip of a utility knife blade. It peels off like a rubber gasket if you catch it at the right point as it cures. I then used the bit from my Senor reamer to carefully remove any excess epoxy that may have gotten into the airway. Care must be taken to work slowly and with very little pressure, as any leverage against the shank my cause the newly bonded joint to fail. Once the excess epoxy has been removed, I let the stummel cure for at least 6 hours.

With the pipe joined and epoxy cured, it was time to take the bowl and stem to the buffer for an initial polishing with red rouge. After cleaning any residual compound off with alcohol, the bowl was ready for stain. The stem needed some sanding to clean up the faint scouring from the synthetic 0000 wool. The Barling Cross logo was a faint memory, so conserving it was not a concern. 2×2 flex micro-mesh pads, 1500 through 4000, did the trick.

After two wash coats of Feibing’s Medium Brown aniline dye, and spot staining the two rather large fills (sorry, the photos were not usable), I wiped the bowl down vigorously with a micro-fiber cloth and set the stain with a table-top lighter. The micro-fiber cloth works wonders in evening out the coats of dye. Uneven coating or overlap marks blend beautifully when wiped down just after the dye dulls completely.

With the stain applied, the fills touched up, and the stem sanded, all that was left was a gentle once-over with white diamond, followed by three coats of carnauba wax on the bowl. The stem received a white diamond buff, followed by two coats of Briar Works Stem Wax and Sealer. I prefer to protect the stem this way, as my saliva tends to react with straight carnauba, leaving an unsightly white stain. ImageImage

I’ll save the repair of the tooth dents on the stem for a future essay…..

It may be inferior, when compared to the legendary family era Barlings, but it was still fun to resurrect a pipe that could be half a century old. Sandblasted or rusticated pipes are much easier to repair in this manner, as the rough texture tends to hide the repair. The fracture is only evident on the smooth portion of the stem where the nomenclature resides.

Thanks for looking.


Resurrecting a Petersen Pre-Republic Billiard – Gan Barber

Blog by Gan Barber

It is a privilege to be able to post this blog entry from a friend and co-laborer in the refurbishing hobby. I have learned much from Gan, including the use of the alcohol bath for soaking bowls and preparing them. In fact as I read this report I am amazed at all the things we do similarly. I appreciate his taking the time to write this up to share here at rebornpipes. I look forward to more articles from Gan, as I am sure you will also after reading this one. Thanks Gan!

Well, the work is done, so it’s time to sit back, light up a bowl of Perreti 9575, and record this adventure….

I am not an expert on dating Petersen Pipes, but from the little I know, this one appears to be a Pre-Republic era vintage. There are no markings on the briar or stem. The hallmark on the band indicates nickel, not silver, and provides no dating information. The K&P, Peterson, Dublin stamping is the only indication that the pipe dates from the Pre-Republic era.

It came to me in a sorry state of repair, and, after some preliminary cleaning, sat in my ‘Lazarus’ box for many years. The shank had been snapped from the bowl, the rim was dented, and the P-Lip modified. It was never going to be a collector piece. Still, it held some promise…… Image

Before I begin the cleaning phase of any project, I like to remove any excess cake. I’m not looking to do anything more than scrape away thick accumulations from the bowl in order to find possible charring or burn-out. In this case, the break was clean, and exhibited no signs of burning that may have contributed to the damage. There was a small dent on the upper left rim of the bowl, leading me to believe that the previous owner liked to tap out the dottle, and had done so once too often.

Satisfied that the bowl was structurally sound, I placed it into a 91% Isopropyl alcohol bath. Once I removed the band, the broken shank followed. Image

I have had favorable results using this method to strip and clean a stummel. Using the highest percentage Isopropyl alcohol I can find (91%), means that only 9% of the solution is water. The low percentage of water allows the briar to dry rapidly once removed from the bath with very little residual moisture. I have soaked stummels for days without ill effects, though the extended time provides little in the way of additional cleaning. It can help with reducing strong ghosts, though. The alcohol will soften even the most stubborn cake, and sweeten the bowl as well as any other method.

Once the bowl had soaked long enough so loosen the dirt and soften the cake, I removed it from the bath and immediately reamed the bowl, removing as much cake as possible without quite  getting down to bare briar. My tool of choice here is a Senior Adjustable Reamer. Not that it’s the only tool that will work; it just happens to be what I have and works quite well for this task.

With the reaming completed, the stummel went back into the bath for another wash. I prefer to do the preliminary cleaning wet, so the stummel will see the bath frequently. The advantages of working wet are two-fold: The alcohol lubricates the mechanical action of the steelwool, mitigating scratching, and the wetting reveals any missed areas requiring additional attention. I worked the wet stummel with 0000 steel wool until most of the dirt, grime and tar were gone.

While the bowl soaked in the alcohol bath, the vulcanite stem soaked in a solution of Oxy-Clean (1/4 scoop to 16 ounces of clean, warm water). Depending on the level of oxidation, I will let the stem soak anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight. Again, I’ve left stems soaking for days without detriment. Generally, I like to soak the stem for two to three hours. The oxidation will turn to a yellow-white slime, and the majority of it will come off quite easily with 0000 steel wool. There was no logo present, so I used the 0000 liberally to achieve a thorough cleaning. Another advantage of the Oxi-Clean soak is its ability to loosen any gunk that has accumulated in the smoke passage. Several bristle pipe cleaners are all that are needed to literally pull the residue from the passage. Another pass with a regular pipe cleaner and some alcohol will remove any traces of tar.

Below are the bowl, shank, and stem after soaking in their respective baths and an initial wet scrub with the 0000 steel wool. Later on in the refurb, I will continue to clean them, but by dipping the steel wool into the alcohol for the wood and the Oxi-clean for the stem, rather than re-immersing them. Image

Once I was satisfied with the initial cleaning, it was time to move on to the most challenging aspect of this project – mating the shank to the bowl.

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing the proper bonding agent to use in repairing a broken or cracked stummel. Heat, moisture, clamping time and compatibility with wood are paramount. Traditional outdoor rated aliphatic glues (Tite-Bond, Elmers, etc.) are resistant to moisture, but I don’t trust them to withstand moist heat. Polyurethane adhesives are stronger and more resistant to both heat and moisture, but have high expansion rates and excessive foaming. Both require extended clamping periods, which is extremely challenging due to the irregular shape of a stummel.

My adhesive of choice is a a fast set epoxy – JB Kwik. It is extremely strong (though not as strong as regular Weld Bond), heat resistant to 500+ degrees F, impervious to moisture, and has a clamping time of only 3 minutes. Mixed from two parts (epoxy/catalyst), it has a reasonable working time, and the two pieces of the pipe stummel can be held together with strong hand pressure for three minutes and then released.

To rejoin the shank to the bowl, I carefully aligned the two pieces so that I could easily find the correct registration before mixing a small amount of the epoxy. I applied it to both surfaces with a toothpick, then pressed the shank and bowl together, squeezing as much epoxy out of the joint as hand pressure would allow. I held them this way for three minutes. I did not worry about any squeeze-out getting into the air passage – yet.

After hand clamping for three minutes, I gently set the stummel down and let it rest for another 7 minutes. If properly mixed, Weld Bond Quick will be set to a rubbery stage after ten minutes (at 70 degrees F). At this point, I took a utility knife and carefully lifted the squeeze out off of the briar. It should peel like a rubber gasket if you catch it at the right time, leaving only a dark oily residue where it contacted the briar. Next, I took the drill bit from the Senior Reamer, and gently worked it through the airway. Care must be taken to use as little pressure as possible to twist and push out any epoxy the made its way into the passage. Although Weld Bond is non-toxic when cured, if cleaned out properly, little if any will be present in the airway.

I allowed the epoxy to cure for 6 hours, and then set to work gently sanding the joint with 400 grit emery to fare the seam as smooth as possible without altering the shape of the pipe. The only caveat to using this epoxy – it is rather viscous and will leave a faintly visible line at the joint no matter how well the parts are mated. I’ve found that after sanding, staining and buffing, this line will all but disappear.


The stummel after roughing in with the 400 grit emery. The graining did little to hide the seam on the left side…..


…while on the right, the grain pattern was more favorable and the seam blended in nicely.

With the shank and bowl rejoined and fared, I finished cleaning the briar with 0000 steel wool wetted with alcohol. Working wet with alcohol eases the scuffing of the steel wool and reveals the grain and any remaining flaws that may need attention. It also removes any oils or dirt introduced from handling the raw wood. The JB Kwik is impervious to the alcohol.

The next stage consisted of wet sanding with 600 grit. I used alcohol as a lubricant. When finished with the 600, I took the bowl to the buffer for a gentle once over with red rouge. This serves to deepen the color of the briar and reveal any scratches or imperfections that the finer grits will have difficulty removing. Satisfied with the results, I continued to wet sand with 1500 grit emery. The final sanding stages were done dry with 3600 and 6000 micro-mesh. At this point in the process, I was simply polishing the briar to prepare it for staining.

I chose Feibings Light Brown dye and gave the stummel a wash coat, undiluted, using a cotton Q-Tip. I set the stain with my Perdomo table-top lighter, and then gave it a thorough rub down with a microfiber cloth. The microfiber works to even out any imperfections in the finish, and noticeably polishes the dye to a nice luster. The bowl is now ready for the buffer.

The stem received an additional scrub with 0000 steel wool wetted with Oxi-Clean to remove any remaining oxidation. I then wet sanded, with water now, using 400 and then 600 grit emery. A quick and gentle buff with red rouge to find any remaining scratches from the steel wool and sandpaper was followed by a wet sand with 1500 emery. I then polished the vulcanite with 3600 and 6000 micro-mesh to prepare it for the buffer.

Both the stem and bowl were given a soft buffing with white diamond on the buffer and then wiped down with microfiber to remove any trace compound.  I then swapped out the white diamond wheel for the wax one, and applied three coats of caranauba wax to the bowl. I like to use a moderate amount of pressure when applying wax as the caranauba is extremely hard and requires the heat generated to go on properly.

After the stem received a coat of Walker Briar Works sealer/wax and the nickel band was polished with Never Dull wadding, everything went back together and was ready to be enjoyed once again. It’s far from perfect, but then, it’s all about the journey, isn’t it? ImageImageImage

Thanks to Steve for inviting me to contribute.

Best Regards,

Gan Barber

Peterson Mark Twain shank repair using a copper band

Blog by Bryan

Bryan, SenatorXMG, on Smokers Forums posted this photo essay on a repair he did on a cracked shank on a Peterson Mark Twain that he purchased. I asked for permission to post it here for information and passing on a great trick to others who would choose to use his method. He gladly granted that permission and I include it below for your use.

Well…today was the day to fix my Peterson Mark Twain with the cracked shank. I had previously posted on Smokers Forums regarding the problem and looking for advice on repairing it. I include the text and picture that I posted below.

I bought a Peterson Mark Twain off of eBay and when it arrived I discovered there was a crack in the shank. With the silver cap on the shank it was not easy to see and I believe the seller that he was unaware. You can only see the crack from inside the shank…with stem in place, it’s evident that it expands a little as the stem sits more deeply in the shank and is not quite so secure. Other than this crack, the pipe is in pretty good condition. The seller offered either a full refund or a partial one of $55 (he increased from the original $40 he offered). If I could have this adequately fixed, I’d be interested in that.

I’ve included a picture of where in the shank the crack is. It actually runs from the top of the shank down to the air hole.

I’m wondering if this is something I could repair myself. Any repairmen out there who could give me a basic step by step idea of how I would approach this fix? I was considering the following:
– remove cap (this is fairly straight forward. I’ve done this before)
– add appropriately-sized shank ring. Might have to sand down an area so that the ring is flush with the remaining shank? (I have no idea how this part is done and how I’d get a tight fit of the shank ring).
– re-install cap (easy to do)

While I’m pretty handy, this seems like it could be a job for someone with skills greater than mine. Would the $55 the seller has offered me back cover this type of repair from someone with experience?

Crack location marked in red/black indicated on silver cap (actual location is seen on the inside)


I decided to repair the pipe myself and created a small photo essay on the work done in repairing the pipe. Here it is:

The silver cap was removed with use of heat. Once it is removed the crack is very visible. Copper piping will act as source of repair band.


I sanded down repair area where copper band will be installed.


The copper piping is marked and ready to be cut.


Copper band cut and filed smooth:


Heat for installation. No blow-torch to heat…had to use my propane space heater (it worked!):


Cooper band installed…with a little bit of gentle force:


To the grinder to clean it up a little:


Ahhhh…that’s a little better:



All finished!! Silver cap re-installed. With the installation of the repair band, the crack is much tighter and the stem now sits much more nicely!!


All in all…wasn’t a terribly difficult repair. The hardest part was determining how much to sand down the area where the band would go. But, it all worked out fine!


A Barling’s Frustration

I had this old bowl in my box that just looked like a Barlings. I took it out and studied under bright light and a loop. It had the arched Barlings over Make. The other side was stamped EL and Made in England (I believe). It had a serious crack in the shank so I superglued it and banded it. This little pipe became the definition of frustration for me. It was a beautiful and I was incredibly hopeful when I cleaned it up and prepared it for the new stem I had cut for it. The grain was very nice and to find that it was an older Pre-transition Barling’s pipe was exciting. The bowl cleaned up very well. The shank and new band looked great. All that remained was to finish working over the stem for it.

About that time my wife came down to the basement where I was working on it and we decided to go for our Saturday morning walk about. We had planned to take the bus down to an area we like to visit and check out the antique shops. This is something that we both enjoy so I put the little Barling’s my pocket and brought along some sand paper to work on it while sitting and waiting for the bus. We had a good morning, went to the Vancouver Flea Market and even found a couple of older Peterson pipes that I picked up. We decided to have some lunch before going home so we walked over to a nearby Korean BBQ and ordered a nice lunch.

While we were waiting for our lunch I guess the pipe fell out of my pocket. I did not notice until the waiter stepped on something and I heard a crack. Well the long and short of it is when we sat down to lunch it had fallen out of my pocket and when the waiter stepped on it the shank cracked off just ahead of the band. I had a sick feeling as I picked up the pieces of the broken old timer. My visions of a nice older Barling’s Pot shape were pretty much crunched. I put the pieces on the table and looked them over as we continue to wait for the meal and I grumbled about my stupidity in not zipping the coat pocket and also about bringing it with me in the first place.

Once we had finished eating and headed home I had calmed down enough to think about what I would do with the pipe. I took the pieces to the basement work table and turned on a bright overhead light so that I could examine the damages. As I looked at the broken shank I could see that the wood was darkened, almost burned around the crack. It was almost as if the heat in the shank had found a flaw in the briar and followed it outward to the surface. It had not gotten all the way to the surface but was just under the outer layer of the finish. So it appeared that the crack was worse than I had imagined.

That helped me to get over being incredibly frustrated and disappointed in the broken shank. So I spent some time looking it over and decided I could work with it. I decided to turn it into a nose warmer. The saddle stem I had made was too small in diameter to fit so I had to cut another stem. I cut off the ragged edges of the break and used a piece of sandpaper on a solid board to face the shank again. I also drilled out the shank and opened it up enough to accept the new tenon. The tenon is a bit shorter than normal 5/8″ to allow a little difference between the opening in the bowl wall and the mortise. I re-banded the shank for a second time to strengthen the shank after the previous break. I fit the stem to the pipe and sanded and polished it to a shine. Then I buffed and waxed the “new” little pipe. I made it such that I can one day put a church warden stem on the bowl should I desire to do so. For now though it is a nose warmer with a short taper stem. Total length is 4 3/4 inches.

Here are some pictures of the finished pipe. I had pictures of the pipe before and after the break but somehow they were erased so this is all I have left to show. I hope you can imagine what it looked like with the new saddle stem before it broke. But if not, you can see the new version. I am also ordering a churchwarden stem for it so I can fit one of those to it as well. Should look great that way as well.