Tag Archives: Dal Stanton article

A Denver Christmas Karl Erik Heading for the Black Sea Beach!


Blog by Dal Stanton

Last Christmas, my wife and I made the trek from Bulgaria to Denver to celebrate the holidays with our family – renewing relationships with our growing number of grandchildren in the US!  Living and serving in Bulgaria is a deeply fulfilling life, but we miss our family and this Christmas reunion was a wonderful close to the year.  One of the highlight activities with the ‘Ole Man’ (that would be me) is to go pipe picking at the various secondhand stores and antique shops in the Denver area.  My main aim during these picking expeditions is to add pipes to the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’ collection to benefit our work with the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  One of the favorite spots I’ve picked before is the huge Brass Armadillo Antique Mall where you can spend hours and we did.  There were many pipes, but few were priced favorably enough for me to justify acquiring for the Daughters, but I did see one particular pipe that I ‘ooooo’d and ahhhh’d’ over and my Denver-based daughter, Jocelyn, and her husband, Jordan, were watching me closely 😊.  Yes, you guessed it, the Karl Erik Handmade in Denmark B Freehand that I was drooling over, but was stressing my pocketbook too much, had been secretly squirrelled away from the Brass Armadillo.  I discovered it a few days late under the tree on Christmas morning – woohoo!  When you have a dad who does what I do, gift giving is never a problem!  This Dad has made out quite well from Jocelyn and Jordan’s gift-giving.  Along with the Karl Erik Handmade, a few years ago they gifted me the pictured unbelievable 1907 McLardy Silver Ferruled Gourd Calabash which I restored (see LINK) and have enjoyed as a treasure in my collection.  The McLardy was enjoying their fire pit in Jocelyn and Jordan’s back yard while I enjoyed the very mellow McClelland Dark Star loaded in the McLardy.  Rebornpipes’, very own Steve Laug, suggested Dark Star as a good way to inaugurate the McLardy Gourd Calabash.  As usual, Steve was on the money! I love my family and I’m thankful to God for each one of our 5 children and the spouses they’ve found (one is still working on that!) and the now, 5 grandchildren they have brought into the world.  My younger daughter from Nashville, and her husband, Niko, joined me out by the firepit while we each enjoyed a Christmas bowl together at the foot of the Rocky Mountains – trying to stay warm!The Karl Erik is now on the worktable back in Bulgaria and was pulled out of my personal collection ‘Help Me!’ basket to restore.  Now Summer, mid-July, my wife and I will be heading to the Black Sea coast for a few days of R&R and I want to bring the Karl Erik with me!  He’s been waiting patiently for me in the basket and now on the worktable, I take some additional pictures to get a closer look at this striking Christmas gift. The nomenclature is located on the lower shank, just below the shank facing plateau.  Stamped there in cursive script is the name, ‘Karl Erik’ [over] HANDMADE IN DENMARK [over] B. Not long ago I worked on a Karl Erik, Knute of Denmark Freehand, that I gifted to my son, Josiah, upon his graduation with a Master’s Degree in counseling (see LINK).  The Freehand style was given to the pipe world by the Danish and Karl Erik was a major contributor.  Pipedia’s article gives the basic history which has been repeated many times – one more time for this Karl Erik on my worktable (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Erik):

Karl Erik Ottendahl (1942 – 2004) was born in Aalborg (Jutland), just a few miles from the very northernmost tip of Denmark. He began smoking a pipe when he was 14 and upon leaving school he started an apprenticeship in the craft as a lithographer at the age of 16. While working as an apprentice he began hand carving pipes as a hobby. Many were given as gifts to his more senior colleagues. Upon completion of his apprenticeship he moved to Nairobi, Kenya to work as a lithographer during the 1962 war. While in that war-torn country, he was unable to procure pipes for himself. In the face of such a predicament, he chose to continue to make pipes for his own use rather than go without.

Returning to Denmark after three years he couldn’t find a well paid occupation in his job, and so he began making a few pipes on the side to boost his income choosing his prenames “Karl Erik” – logo “KE” – for his label. When he managed to find some major Copenhagen pipe stores willing to sell his pieces his reputation grew little by little and he was finally able to purchase more and better machinery and began working full time as a pipe maker.

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 not 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.

One more bit of information from Pipedia helped me understand the “B” in the nomenclature.  Regarding the grading system for Karl Erik pipes it said:

KE’s new grading used numbers ascending from D to A. The unique “Ekstravagant” pipes C, B, A, AA to AAA. These superb pieces of remarkable quality were, almost certainly, the least expensive high- quality handmade pipes coming from Denmark today!

What this tells me is that the ‘B’ rating is just under the best, ‘A’ rating regarding quality.  My Black Sea beach bound Karl Erik got my attention at the Brass Armadillo in Denver because of the sweeping vertical grain that defines and encircles the Freehand bowl – reaching upward to the expressive plateau.  I’m thankful that he doesn’t need too much attention to be recommissioned!  The chamber has light cake buildup and the plateau surfaces, bowl and shank facing, are dirty.  The smooth briar is in great shape and only needs cleaning.  The grain is pristine – I detect few very small scratches from normal wear and no fills, which one would expect with a Karl Erik higher grade I suppose!  The stem has very mild tooth chatter on the upper and lower bit and a small compression on the upper lip.  To begin, to address the very mild oxidation, I add the Karl Erik fancy stem to a soak of Before and After Deoxidizer with other pipes in the queue.  I first clean the airway with pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95%. After a few hours soaking, I fish out the KE stem and after draining the Deoxidizer, I wipe the stem with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to remove the raised oxidation.  I also run another pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95% through the stem to clear the Deoxidizer liquid. To continue to rejuvenate the stem, I then add a coat of paraffin oil to the vulcanite and put it aside.Turning now to the Handmade’s stummel, I take a closeup showing the chamber and the mild carbon cake build up.  To remove the cake to give the briar a fresh start, I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit to start the job.  After putting paper towel down to help in clean up, I start by using the smallest blade head and then quickly graduate through two additional blade heads.  I then transition to using the Savinelli Fitsall tool and this does a great job getting down into the chamber’s hard-to-reach recesses.  Finally, I wrap a piece of 240 grade sanding paper around a Sharpie Pen and sand the chamber and follow by wiping it with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean it.  After an inspection of the cleaned chamber, I see no problems with burning or heating. Moving on to the external briar surface, I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap to scrub the briar with a cotton pad.  I also use a bristled toothbrush and a bit of a brass wire brush to clean the plateaus – bowl and shank facing.  After the scrubbing, I take the stummel to the sink and continue the cleaning by using a shank brush and kitchen dish soap to scrub the mortise using hot water.  After scrubbing, I rinse the stummel thoroughly. Now, moving to the internals I use cotton buds and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% to start the cleaning. Happily, I find that the internals are clean after the previous scrubbing with dish soap and shank brushes – I move on!I move on to applying the full regimen of micromesh pads to the stummel.  I start by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400 and follow with dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  I absolutely love the way the micromesh pads coax and tease out the grain.  Beautiful vertical grain – possibly called ‘fire grain’! Before turning again to the stem, I apply Before & After Restoration Balm to the stummel.  The B&A Balm does a great job pulling out the subtle hues of the grain.  I put some Balm on my fingers, and I work it into the briar surface.  For now, I do not apply it to the plateaus because I first need to do some further work.  I put the stummel aside for about 20 minutes to allow the Balm to do its thing.After about 20 minutes, I wipe off the excess Balm with a cotton cloth and then buff it with a microfiber cloth. Not bad!  I’m loving my Christmas gift!With the stummel on the sidelines for a time, I turn again to the Karl Erik fancy stem.  The light tooth chatter should be addressed easily.  I start using the heating method by painting the chatter with the flame of a Bic lighter.  The characteristics of the vulcanite expands as its heated to reclaim its original shape – or at least in part.  After painting with the Bic flame, I do a before and after picture for the upper and then lower.  There is a notable difference!

Upper before and after:Lower bit before and after:I continue using 240 grade sanding paper to dispatch the remaining chatter and compression on the upper button lip.  I also use the flat needle file to freshen the button.  I follow that with wet sanding the entire stem with 600 grade paper and finishing this phase of sanding with 000 steel wool – upper then lower: Next, in order to recondition the stem, I apply Before & After Fine and Extra Fine Polishes in succession.  For each, I apply using my fingers – rubbing the polish into the vulcanite and then putting aside for a few minutes to do its thing.  I then wipe the excess polish off with a paper towel and then buff the stem with a cloth.Turning again to the Karl Erik Handmade stummel, my next step is to freshen the plateau presentations.  Looking at examples of Karl Erik Freehand pipes, the treatment of the plateaus is even between leaving the plateaus the natural hue and darkening the plateau moonscape to provide a contrasting perspective.  With this Karl Erik, it appears that the plateau had color previously and so I decide to go in this direction.  The next two pictures mark the starting point for each plateau. The first step is to apply an Italian dye stick labeled Medio Noce, which is a very dark shade of brown that almost appears black.  I apply this in random ways along the ridges and valleys of both the rim and shank facing plateaus.  Then, more sparingly, I use a black Sharpie Pen to darken the more distinctive valleys.  I do this to give slight, subtle contrast in hues.  Forgetting to picture, I also use a fine point Sharpie to darken and accent to two small sculptings on the side of the stummel.Then to add more contrast, I use micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 to ‘feather’ sand off the peaks of the ridges.  I like this contrasting effect – providing a rustic look that is attractive.I then apply some Before & After Restoration Balm to the plateaus and put the stummel aside to absorb.Back to the stem with the full regimen of 9 micromesh pads.  I start by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400 and follow with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads I apply a coat of Obsidian Oil to further condition the vulcanite. The stem is looking great! With the stem ready to go, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel and set the speed at about 40% full power.  I then apply Blue Diamond compound to both the stem and the stummel of the Karl Erik Handmade. I keep the stem and stummel separated because it’s easier to rotate each piece individually.While applying the compound and working on the rim plateau, I realized that I was missing a great opportunity to release more grain to enjoy.  With a peaked Freehand style, I find that the inside wall of the plateau crest provides additional aesthetic enjoyment when it is sanded, and this allows a grain presentation on the chamber side.  I forgot to take a picture but borrow the previous picture during the B&A Balm to show the inside chamber wall – darkened and ignored.I decide to coax out this grain and use 240 and 320 grade papers in succession wrapped around the Sharpie Pen to sand this area.Following this, I use 600 grade paper wrapped around the Sharpie Pen.  I keep the sanding parallel to the chamber wall – I don’t want to bevel the internal lip eating into the plateau.  I follow the 600 grade paper by sanding the area through each of 9 micromesh pads – 1500 to 12000.The final step is to apply Blue Diamond compound to the chamber wall.  I like it.  It’s a small enhancement but I think it adds a classiness to an already very classy Karl Erik.With the application of the Blue Diamond compound completed, I wipe/buff the stem and stummel with a felt cloth to remove any residue compound dust in preparation of applying wax.  I mount another cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel, maintain 40% power and apply a few coats of carnauba wax to stem and stummel.  After completing the application of the wax, I give stem and stummel (separately) a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to make sure all the excess wax is removed and to raise the shine even more.

This Karl Erik Handmade in Denmark is stunning, and a wonderful gift: Thanks Jocelyn and Jordan!  I’m pleased to add it to my collection!  He came along to the Black Sea and here I’m inaugurating his recommissioning with a bowl of my favorite blend, Lane BCA.  Thanks for joining me!

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Recommissioning an Italian La Strada Scenario Canadian 130


Blog by Dal Stanton

Pipes come to me in many ways – pipe picking in bazaars, second-hand shops and antique shops.  The eBay auction block is another way I procure pipes to restore to benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria, our work here in Bulgaria helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Another gratifying way pipes have come to me are from people who hear about the Daughters and want to help.  They donate pipes from their own collections or pipes that were passed on from loved ones.  In 2017, my wife and I were in Butler, PA, speaking at a church that has financially and prayerfully supported the work we do in Bulgaria for many years.  We were invited to visit the home of Dan and Jane Hartzler, who we’ve known for many years.  We had a great time visiting and Dan said he wanted to give me something.  He brought out 4 very well-used pipes in a rack and offered them to me to use to benefit our work with the Daughters.  The pipes came from his now deceased father, Rex, who was an Ohioan all his life from his birth in 1922 till his final day in July of 2011.  When I receive pipes in this way I always try to find out about their former steward – it adds depth of story and meaning when I restore pipes that are passed on.Dan shared with me about his father during that visit and in subsequent emails after we departed Butler. It’s not possible to capture an entire lifetime in the brevity of this write-up, but I found very interesting was that Rex had a yearning for adventure in his early years.  When he started college in 1940, he also took flying lessons and subsequently joined the Navy pilot program during WWII.  This choice in his life as a young man brought him into an interesting role during WWII.  He piloted blimps flying protective duty over the Panama Canal – a critical naval east/west artery to connect the Atlantic and Pacific naval operations.  This description from BlueJacket.com is interesting and adds insight to Rex’s duties as a ‘lighter than air’ pilot.  The primary role of the blimp was directed toward anti-submarine warfare.  The toll on merchant marine fleets were heavy during the beginning years of the Atlantic theater supporting the Allied war effort in Europe.  The ‘Lighter Than Air’ units played a key role in turning the tide of these major naval losses.  To guard shipping using the Panama Canal, blimps were stationed on both the Pacific and Atlantic sides to ward off submarine attacks on shipping.  Dan told me that is father never piloted again after the end of the war and settled into married life in 1946 and raised a family in Ohio.

Dan looked for a picture of his father smoking his pipe that I could add but couldn’t find one.  One reason for this was probably the fact that Dan’s mother didn’t like pipe smoke in the house, so Rex would normally load up the bowl with his favorite blend and go outside where he walked among the trees – and by looking at some of the pipes that Dan gave me, we concluded that he probably knocked on the trees or on other hard surfaces to clear the ashes!  I’m thankful for Dan’s contribution of his dad’s pipes to benefit the Daughters.  I brought them back to Bulgaria and placed them in the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’ collection online and this is where Jim found the Canadian he wanted to commission.  Jim came to my Dreamers inventory with Canadians on his mind.  After looking at different offerings he came down to Rex’s La Strada, which I was very pleased to commission and now, begin restoring this well-used La Strada Scenario from Rex to a new steward.

Jim added one more request for the La Strada Canadian when I began work on it.  He sent this short note with a link:

dal,
noticed this as an improvement for many pipes. would it do well for the pipe you’re working on for me?  https://pipedia.org/wiki/Airflow:_The_Key_to_Smoking_Pleasure

 jim

The title of the Pipedia article piqued my interest and it introduced me to debate regarding “opening” the airway in a pipe to improve the physics of airflow.  The author of the article, Ken Campbell, originally posted it to The Pipe Collector, the official newsletter of The National Association of Pipe Collectors (NASPC), I believe in 2011 where he makes a compelling argument.  Ken Campbell sited those who did not agree with his assessments, but what I found interesting was the science behind the proposition that increasing the diameter of the airway, if done correctly, according to the author. can enhance the enjoyment, reduce gurgles, difficulties in keeping the bowl lit, etc.  A step closer to pipe smoker’s nirvana!  The science is interesting, and whether it’s correct or not, I’m not sure, but it’s compelling.  I’m repeating this paragraph from Campbell’s, ‘The Key to Smoking Pleasure’ in toto including the pipe artisans he sites to make his case:

My first clue came from an article I read in Pipes & Tobacco in the Winter/1996/97 edition, early in 1997. The article was entitled “Nature’s Designs” by Dayton H. Matlick and was about Lars Ivarsson, his pipe making and some of his philosophy and knowledge about smoking. I quote Messrs. Matlick and Ivarsson from this article: “Unrestricted airflow through the entire channel is essential for an easy-smoking pipe….’Once you pick the shape and size of pipe you like, test the airflow,’ says Lars Ivarsson. ‘Draw in through the empty pipe at normal smoking force. There should be no sound or, at most, a deep, hollow sound. This means the airflow is not restricted, an essential element of a good-smoking pipe. If you have any whistling sounds,… meaning restricted airflow, you will probably have trouble keeping it lit and it will probably smoke wet. According to Lars, ‘You’re getting turbulence in the airstream when you exceed a certain speed. The sound of that turbulence indicates that the smoke will get separated. Smoke is actually microdrops of moisture containing hot air and aroma. When air passes quickly through a restricted passageway, turbulence moves the heavy particles, including the moisture, to the perimeter, like separating cream from milk. This can be caused by too small a diameter or sharp corners in the smoke passage [which is] an extremely important issue….[T]he physics of the boring of your pipe will definitely have an impact on the taste of the pipe and your smoking pleasure. For all of his pipes, Lars uses a four millimeter [Ed. about 5/32nd of an inch] channel from one end of the pipe to the other. This may vary with the pipe maker, but the sound test will still hold true.”

The article is interesting, and I’m always interested in trying new things to expand my restoration repertoire, so I responded to Jim saying that I would give it a try, but because I had not done this before, I would need to research it more to make sure I get it right.  So, opening the airway of this La Strada Scenario Canadian is what I need to investigate and look for longer drill bits to add to my collection.

These were the pictures of Rex’s Canadian posted in ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’ that got Jim’s attention.

‘La Strada’ simply means, ‘The Street’ in Italian.  The information gleaned from Pipedia and Pipephil.eu (See LINK) point to the La Strada name being primarily an Italian pipe production made for export, especially to the US.  Pipedia also added this bit of information: La Strada was an Italian export brand. Its large formats had some success in the USA, and were included in the 1970 Tinder Box catalog.  Steve restored a very nice looking La Strada Staccato found on rebornpipes (See LINK) where he posted this page from Tinderbox showing La Strada Offerings.  The Scenario shown on this page is a Bent Stem Sitter.  Interestingly, the Staccato example is the Canadian shape that I have on the worktable. As I was looking at the Staccato line, I recalled that I have a nice quarter bent Billiard La Strada Staccato in the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’ collection available for commissioning!  The ‘strapped’ sculpting and matte finish is the Staccato hallmark which I like.Looking at the La Strada Scenario Canadian now on the worktable, it is evident that it was put in service a good bit and the thick, uneven cake in the chamber shows this.  The lava over the rim is also thick revealing the signs of Rex’s stummel thumping practice as he would flip the Canadian over in his hand and thump it on a nearby tree to dislodge the ashes.  I take a few pictures below focusing in this area.  The rim’s fore section is nicked and chipped from this.  The second picture is looking at the back side of the bowl and the darkened area over the rim which was most likely how Rex lit his pipe.  Both pictures reveal the grime covering the stummel in need of cleaning.  The short stem of the Canadian reveals deep oxidation in the vulcanite and bite compressions on the upper- and lower-bit areas.With the initial assessment of the pipe’s condition completed, I begin the restoration by adding the stem to a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer to begin addressing the deep oxidation in the stem.  I don’t believe that the soak will fully remove the oxidation, but this is a start in the right direction.  The first picture below shows the La Strada on the far right after the communal activity of cleaning the airways before putting the stems into the soak.  Using pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95%, I ream out the oils collected in the airways.  I not only am cleaning the airway but sparing the B & A Deoxidizer bath from undo contamination!  The stuff is expensive, and I want it to stretch as long as possible!  After cleaning the airway, I place the La Strada’s stem in the bath for several hours. After some hours, I fish the stem out of the bath and drain the excess Deoxidizer back into the bath.  I then use a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to wipe the stem down removing the raised oxidation resulting from the soak.  I also clear out the airway of fluid and clean it again with pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95%.  As expected, my naked eye still detects the dark green evidence of residual oxidation in the stem – the pictures do not pick it up.  For now, to start the stem revitalization, I coat the surface with paraffin oil (a mineral oil) and put the stem aside to absorb the oil and dry. Now, looking to the Canadian stummel, I take a close-up of the chamber area showing the thick carbon cake. To address this, I start by reaming the chamber with the Pipnet Reaming Kit starting with the smallest of the 4 blade heads available.  After putting down paper towel to help in cleaning, I go to work.  Reaming the chamber not only cleans and gives the chamber a fresh start, but it allows me to see the briar underneath the cake to identify any potential burning issues with the chamber. I use 3 blade heads to ream the chamber then I shift to using the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to further scrape the chamber wall and to reach down to the floor of the chamber. After this, I sand the chamber using 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen to give me reach and leverage as I sand.  Sanding removes the final carbon cake hold outs and helps smooth the chamber surface.  The second picture shows the full arsenal of tools used to address the chamber reaming. After I wipe the carbon dust with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to clean, I give the chamber an inspection.  About 2/3s down into the chamber there are evidences of some heat cracking which I don’t believe are serious enough to address with more than providing a new protective layer on the chamber wall.  I’ll do this later with a coating of either pipe mud or using a mixture made from activated charcoal and yogurt (or sour cream).  I take two pictures, the first with an open aperture to see more clearly the cracking.  Below the cracking, a small reaming ‘shelf’ has developed from too much forced pressure from the reaming tool.  I’ll work on smoothing that out with sanding aiming for a uniformed chamber contour. Next, to address the grime and oils on the Canadian bowl and long shank and to work on the lava flow on the rim, I first take a few pictures going ‘around the horn’ showing the starting condition. Next, I start by using undiluted Murphy’s Soap with a cotton pad and scrub the surface.  I also use a Winchester pocketknife to carefully scrape caking on the rim.  A brass wire brush also helps in this effort on the rim which helps clean but does not add to the rim erosion.  I start with the scrubbing using the Murphy’s Soap and work through scrubbing the smooth surface and scraping and brushing with the brass wire brush the rim area.I do an initial rinsing of the soap in the sink, and then immediately dive into cleaning the internals using pipe cleaners and cotton buds dipped in alcohol as well as the full range of long shank brushes reaching through the long Canadian airway.  I also excavate much oil grime and tars from the mortise and reaching into the airway using a dental spatula.  I then take the stummel to the sink, and using warm water, I rinse the stummel again and use dish soap and warm water with the shank brushes to continue cleaning the airway.  This picture shows the conclusion of the carnage!After completing the cleaning, I inspect the external surface and am glad to find no large fills or holes revealed after the cleaning.  I like the potential of this briar to come out well.  But I do detect one more problem to add to the list. Looking closely at the distinctive vertical grain pattern running upward from the heel just to the right of the shank, I detect a crack.  At first, I think that it may simply be a ‘gap’ between the grain lines, but the more I look at it, I believe it’s a crack that needs to be addressed or it will possibly grow along the grain line. I decide to address this problem straight away.  I first mark the terminus points on each side of the crack.  Using a sharp dental probe tool, I press an indentation at each of these points.  I need a magnifying glass to correctly identify the ends of the cracks.  I press these indentations at the end points for two reasons.  First, I can better see where I need to drill counter-creep holes with the Dremel, but also the probe holes create a guide hole or a starter to guide the Dremel’s drill bit which I’m applying freehand!  The first two pictures are of the lower guide hole and then the next two, the upper guide hole. Next, I mount a 1mm drill bit in the Dremel and with a steadier hand than usual, I drill both counter-creep holes freehand. The guide holes help a good bit.  The picture shows the holes drilled at each end.  Not bad!I use a thin CA glue to run along the crack to shore it up as well as in the counter-creep holes.  I use thin CA glue to encourage seepage into the crack to provide a better seizing of the crack.  I then sprinkle briar dust over the holes and the crack to encourage blending.Not long after, the crack patch has set up enough for me to continue my work on the stummel.  I turn my attention to the battered rim.  There is no question that it will be visiting the topping board.  I take another closeup of the fore section of the rim to show its raw, battered condition.  The second picture shows the deterioration of the front side progressed to the point it appears to be sloped forward.  The normal disposition of the plane of the rim on the Canadian will be close to parallel to the shank.  I’ll need to remove some of the rim to bring proper orientation back to the rim. I cover the chopping board with 240 grade paper, and I start rotating the inverted stummel over the paper.  I intentionally lean to the rear to help move the rim line toward level.  The next pictures show the progression of topping. At this point I’m satisfied with the progression.  The rim has evened out and even though there are residual chips on the front side of the rim, I believe the small ones can be dispatched with a slight beveling.  The larger ones remaining will need more attention.I switch to 600 grade paper on the chopping board and give the stummel a few more rotations to smooth the surface more.The smaller skinned-up area on the right should disappear with some gentle bevel sanding.  I’ll first apply some briar dust putty to the larger remaining chips on the left, and then sand these areas out.  One larger chip remains on the aft of the rim which will also receive a fill of briar dust putty.  It should work well.I use a plastic disc to serve as my mixing pallet and I also put down some strips of scotch tape to help with the cleanup.  I mix some briar dust with regular CA glue.  I first put a small mound of briar dust on the pallet and then add a small puddle of CA glue next to it.  I gradually draw the briar dust into the CA glue until it thickens enough to trowel to the chipped areas using a toothpick.  The pictures show the progress. With the patches on the rim curing, I turn to the La Strada Scenario’s short Canadian stem.  When the stem came out of the Before & After Deoxidizer soak, I noted that I could still detect deep oxidation.  I need to address this, but first I will work on the tooth compression on the bit.  They aren’t severe.  First, I use a Bic lighter and paint the bit with the flame to heat the vulcanite.  When heated, the physics of the rubber expands with the heating and hopefully will lessen the severity of the compressions.  This works well, but I still need to sand.  I sand using 240 grade paper to work on the remaining tooth compressions and the residual oxidation.  I use a plastic disk I fabricated to sand against to avoid shouldering the stem facing.  I also use a flat needle file to sharpen the button definition.I widen the aperture on this picture to show the continued residual oxidation near the disk – more sanding needed.After using the file and 240 grade paper, I wet sand the stem using 600 grade paper then follow using 0000 steel wool. I like the progress.I’m on a roll with the stem.  Next, I wet sand using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400.  I follow by 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 further rejuvenate the vulcanite stem.  I love the newly polished vulcanite pop! The briar dust patches filling out the chips on the rim are fully cured.  Using a flat needle file, I first work to file the excess patch material on the topside of the rim.  I file the excess briar dust patch down until close to the rim surface. When each of the three main patches are filed down vertically, I switch to filing the sides of each patch down close to the briar surface. I then take the stummel back to the topping board and light turn a few revolutions on 240 grade paper and then 600 grade.  This brings the patches down flush with the rim.Using 240 grade paper again, I create a soft bevel on the external rim lip.  This both shapes the patches and cleans up the smaller nicks on the circumference of the rim’s edge. I also do the same on the internal edge of the rim.Finally, I go over both the external and internal bevels with 600 grade paper to smooth and blend.  I like what I see!  This phase of the rim repair is complete.Next, I address the crack repair patch.  Again, I use a flat needle file to file the excess material down to the briar surface then follow with 240 and 600 grade papers. While I have the sandpaper handy, the front of the bowl has some skins and pits.  I quickly dispatch these using 240 and 600 grade papers. I follow the rough sanding by utilizing sanding sponges before the micromesh regimen.  I use a coarse, medium, and then light grade sanding sponge and sand the entire surface.  I’m careful around the nomenclature on the shank.  I like using the sanding sponges to clean the surface of minor imperfections, but they are not invasive.Turning now to the micromesh pad regimen, I wet sand using pads 1500 to 2400.  I follow by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000. Wow!  I’m liking the way this grain is coming out. I’ve come to a juncture and decision point.  The grain has come out beautifully and I like the rich honey brown tone of the briar.  Yet, the patches on the rim and for the crack repair stand out and to me, distracting.  The pictures below show this and for this reason, I decide to apply a darker hue to mask the repair work. The patches will not disappear totally, but the contrast will be minimized.  I like using Fiebing’s Dark Brown for this purpose.  As an aniline – alcohol-based dye, I can lighten it by wiping the stained surface with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol. After I assemble all the components for staining on my worktable, I warm the stummel using a hot air gun to expand the briar which enhances the reception of the dye pigment.  After the stummel is warm, I use a folded over pipe cleaner to apply the dye.  I apply the dye in swatches and then flame the aniline dye with a lit candle.  The alcohol combusts and sets the pigment in the grain.  After I methodically apply dye and flame the entire stummel, I repeat the process again assuring thorough coverage.  I set the stummel aside to rest through the night to allow the new dye to settle in.  And for me, I turn out the lights and call it a day. The next morning, the flamed stummel has had enough time to rest the new dye.  To ‘unwrap’ the stummel removing the crust, I mount a felt buffing wheel on to the Dremel, set it at the slowest possible speed and begin the methodical process of both removing the crust as well as polishing the briar with Tripoli compound. I stop to take a picture during the process to show the emerging briar grain after the staining process.  It’s amazing as I uncover the briar.  I’m pleased with the hue that I’m seeing. Not pictured above is that I changed the felt wheel to a cotton cloth buffing wheel, increased the speed of the Dremel to about 40% full power and when over the entire surface again with Tripoli compound.  Unlike with the felt wheel, with the cotton wheel I can reach into the crook of the shank and bowl to apply compound removing the crust.  I also fine tune the polishing using the cloth wheel – it brings out and sharpens the grain a step more.

Below, after completing the use of Tripoli compound, I wet a cotton pad with alcohol and I very lightly wipe the stummel.  This helps to blend the newly applied stain as well as lighten the finish a bit.Next, I rejoin the stem and stummel (after I took this picture!) and mount another cotton cloth wheel to the Dremel, maintaining the same 40% power setting and I apply Blue Diamond compound to both stem and stummel.  After completing this, I wipe the pipe down with a felt cloth to remove the compound dust before applying wax.Before applying wax, to provide the chamber with a starter layer to encourage the develop of a protective cake, I mix Bulgarian natural yogurt and activated charcoal to form a mixture which I apply to the chamber walls.  After I stick a pipe cleaner through the stem and the draft hole, to guard the airway from being blocked, I mix the yogurt and charcoal dust to a point where the mixture does not drip off the pipe nail tool as I hold a dollop of the mixture in the air.  I then apply and spread the mixture over the chamber evenly and fully.  Satisfied with the progress, I then put the mixture aside for it to set-up after a few hours. I then mount another cotton cloth wheel to the Dremel and apply a few coats of carnauba wax to the Canadian.  To finish the restoration, after applying the wax I give the pipe a hearty hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine even more.

Before completing the restoration, I received an email back from Jim regarding his request that I ‘open’ the airway from the factory drilling to a .4mm width.  I did some reading and found a long enough .4mm drill bit to do the job.  Yet, while it would not be a difficult thing to open the straight Canadian airway, my concern was that I really could not change the airway construction of the small, Canadian stem.  I didn’t know whether this continued compression point of the air passage would defeat the physics advantage of opening the airway.  I left it to Jim to decide and what he decided to do was to first test the airway’s factory diameter and then open the airway himself to compare smoking experiences.  This sounded good to me and I hope to hear from Jim the results of this comparison.

What can I say?  Rex’s La Strada Scenario Canadian has been reborn and ready to begin a new lifetime!  The pipe required some attention, but I’m pleased with the masking of the patches on the rim and for the crack repair.  The grain is exceptional on this Italian La Strada.  The bowl showcases both flame and vertical grains with some bird’s eye on the heel.  The longer Canadian shank is also a great plus – a cooler smoking experience.  Jim saw the potential of this Canadian in the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection and since he commissioned it and waited patiently for me to restore it, he has the first opportunity to purchase the La Strada Canadian from The Pipe Steward Store which benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  I thank Dan Hartzler for donating this pipe for this purpose, and I thank you for joining me!

Bringing a Silver Match Toronto 115 Squat Lumberman Back to Life


Blog by Dal Stanton

I acquired this Silver Match Toronto from what I have called, the ‘French Lot of 50’.  It was on the French eBay auction block and I was fortunate enough to have the winning bid.  When the Lot arrived here in Bulgaria from France, I unpacked it, took pictures of each pipe and posted them in the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’ collection for potential new stewards to find and commission.  I have already restored many treasures in this French Lot of 50 for new stewards.  Robert saw the Silver Match Toronto 115 Squat Lumberman in the ‘Dreamers Only!’ collection and wrote me about commissioning it.  In my interchanges with Robert describing the pipe and what was involved in commissioning it, he wrote this in response:

Dal I’m still interested in commissioning the lumberman pipe and I’m in no rush. My wife and I just had a baby he just turned 1 week old! I found out about your restorations on Facebook on The Gentleman’s Pipe Smoking Society.  Thanks for returning my email and I can’t wait to see the outcome of this little pipe!

I also found out that he and his family reside in central Virginia and when we were writing, it was getting ready to snow where he lived!  Well, that was last November, and it has taken this long for Robert’s Lumberman to work its way up the queue and I’m thankful for Robert’s patience! – As well as all the stewards who commission pipes which benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Here’s a picture of the original Lot of 50 in the ‘wild’ that I saw on eBay – the Lumberman it identified with an arrow.Now with Robert’s commission on my worktable, I take more pictures to show this smart squat Lumberman – I call it ‘Squat’ but the bowl is large and will handle a nice packing of one’s favorite blend. The nomenclature is stamped on the upper and lower sides of the oval stem.  On the upper is stamped ‘SILVER MATCH’ [over] ‘TORONTO’.  The lower shank bears what I’m assuming to be a shape number: ‘115’.  The stem is also stamped with a design which I assume is the flame of a match being depicted – my best guess at this point, but I’m not sure! The information about the Silver Match name is thin.  A quick search on the internet shows that Silver Match has been the name of tobacco accessories manufacturer since the 1800s, but mainly of lighters.  Silver Match lighters seem to be highly collectable with vintage lighters dating back to the 1800s but most listed that I saw have a French origin.  The only information in Pipedia refers to Silver Match in the list of British pipe makers as an inexpensive brand sold by Roy Tallent Ltd., and marked with the stamping SM (LINK).  This is confirmed in my copy of Wilczak & Colwell’s, ‘Who Made That Pipe?’ that Silver Match has English origins and manufactured by Roy Tallent LTD/S’Elite LTD – both of which seem more to be in the accessories market than focusing on the manufacturing of pipes.  Pipephil.eu (LINK) brings these two together in the following panel.  It pictures pipes distributed by the famous lighter brand, Silver Match, but shows the two different stem stampings that may indicate either French or British manufacturing – the flame (French) and the SM (England).  If this is correct, the Silver Match Toronto 115 has a French origin, but I found no other information to corroborate this.  Arriving from France in my ‘French Lot of 50’ is anecdotal evidence perhaps supporting this.I’m calling this Silver Match a ‘Squat’ Lumberman because he meets all the qualifications of his place in the Canadian family with the oval shank, but he’s on the shorter side but I’m impressed with the nice ample bowl. I did look at both French and British made shape charts to see if I could discover a lead on who produced the Silver Match but found no matches with 115 that provided this information.

I can see some nice briar underneath the thick layer of grime over the briar surface, but I see one large fill that will need attention on the lower shank near the shape number.  The cake is thick in the chamber with corresponding lava covering the rim.  The stem has oxidation and the button is chipped and will need to be rebuilt.  With this inventory of the challenges this Silver Match Toronto Lumberman faces, I start the restoration by adding the oxidized stem to a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer along with other pipes in the queue.  I first clean the airway with a pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95%. After several hours I fish the Silver Match stem out of the Deoxidizer and use a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to wipe off the raised oxidation. I also run another pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95% through the stem to clean the Deoxidizer remaining in the airway.The Before & After Deoxidizer does a good job and it preserves the white in the Silver Match stem stamp logo – I still can’t figure out for sure what it’s depicting!  I follow by applying paraffin oil to the stem to begin the rejuvenation process.  I put the stem aside to dry and absorb the oil. Next, I address the very thick cake in the chamber.  The chamber is almost closed off as the cake angles down the chamber.  Using the Pipnet Reaming Kit, starting with the smallest blade head, I use 2 blades of the 4 available to me.  I follow the reaming by using the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to further scrape and clean out the carbon build-up.  Finally, I sand the chamber after wrapping a piece of 240 grade paper around a sharpie pen to give me reach and leverage.  To remove the carbon dust, I wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%. After the cleaning, I inspect the chamber and it doesn’t have any cracks and fissures from heating damage.  It looks good!Next, I continue the cleaning by using undiluted Murphy’s Soap on the external surface using a cotton pad to scrub.  I also use a Winchester blade to scrape the rim addressing the thick lava you can see in the picture above. I also use a brass wire brush on the rim which doesn’t damage the briar.  After being in India, I learned about some of Jeff Laug’s (Steve’s brother) cleaning techniques and I decide to employ some of them.  After cleaning the stummel with Murphy’s, I take the stummel to the sink and clean the external surface with a bristled toothbrush with regular dish soap – the kind that is anti-oil.  I also use shank brushes to clean the mortise with the dish soap and warm water. After rinsing well, I dry the stummel with a cloth.  It came out well.As I observed earlier, there is a very large fill on the underside of the shank.  As expected, the cleaning of the stummel softens the old fill material and most of it fell out with the cleaning.  Using a sharp dental probe, I continued to excavate the material from the hole to clean it.Addressing the internals, I now use cotton buds, pipe cleaners, shank brushes and a dental spatula to scrape the mortise wall.  Using my tools to clean takes a bit of effort, but after some time, the buds started coming out lighter.  Later I will give the internals a further cleaning using a kosher salt and alcohol soak.Next, I patch the huge crater on the shank.  After I make sure all the old fill material has been removed, I clean the hole with alcohol. In the recent trip to India I discovered that there was some mild controversy around my method for filling holes using a putty created by mixing CA glue and briar dust.  Both Steve and Paresh said that they could not duplicate what I’ve been doing for some time – mixing the two components and creating a putty that remained supple.  What they experienced was the CA glue instantaneously solidifying when it touched the briar dust.  We discussed many different possible factors that would cause this difference in results – elevation, kind of glue, etc.  Another possible difference I suggested was that when I used an index card as a mixing platform, I would first cover the card with a strip of packing tape so that the glue would not be absorbed into the paper – which may, if it did absorb, cause the CA to solidify more rapidly.  Both Steve and Paresh were mixing on an index card surface without the tape.  I don’t know if they’ve had better results yet!  I decide to use a plastic lid as my new mixing platform.  You can see that I also put some scotch tape down so that I can clean easily.  I place briar dust on the tape and add BSI Extra Thick Max-Cure CA glue.I gradually pull briar dust into the puddle of CA glue and mix it with a toothpick.  I don’t overwhelm the glue with a lot of briar dust but gradually mix more in.As you can see, the CA is not solidifying as I add more.When the resulting mixture thickens to that of molasses, I use the toothpick and trowel the putty to the shank and fill the huge hole.  After filled, I put the stummel aside to allow the briar dust putty to cure.With the hour becoming late, I further advance the internal cleaning with a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  The patch on the shank has set up sufficiently.  I fashion a ‘mortise wick’ using a cotton ball. I stretch and twist the cotton until it creates a wick that will serve to draw out the tars and oils from the mortise.  I stuff the wick down the mortise with the help of a stiff wire.  After placing the stummel in a egg carton for stability, I fill the bowl with kosher salt which doesn’t leave an aftertaste as does iodized salt.  I then add isopropyl 95% to the bowl until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes, the alcohol absorbs, and I top off with some additional alcohol and then put the stummel aside to soak through the night.   The next morning, I see what I was hoping to see.  The salt has soiled and after I draw out the wick it shows that it has continued the internal cleaning process of drawing out the tars and oils. After thumping and dumping the expended salt in the waste, I wipe the bowl with a paper towel and blow through the mortise to remove the salt crystals.I follow with a pipe cleaner and cotton bud wetted with isopropyl 95% to clean residue left behind after the soak.  I find that the internals are clean and refreshed for the new steward.  I move on!The crater fill on the lower side of the Lumberman shank has cured, and I begin the process of removing the excess briar putty using a flat needle file.  I file the mound down almost to the briar surface and then I switch to sanding with 240 grade paper to bring the patch flush with the briar surface. As is often the case, from the picture above, you can see the air pockets left in the sanded patch material.  To blend this, I touch up the patch with a dye stick after sanding the patch further using 600 grade paper.Turning now to the rim, the front and sides of the rounded rim have been skinned up a good bit which the following two pictures show. I use 240 grade paper on the rim and go with the rounded rim flow and sand out the roughened areas around the rim. I follow the rim sanding using sanding sponges over the entire stummel, including the rim.  I use a coarse sponge, followed by a medium sponge and finish with a fine sanding sponge.  The briar on this Silver Match Toronto is expressive and It’s coming out nicely with the sanding. After the sponge sanding, I identify a pit on the lower left side of the bowl. I decide to apply a clear CA glue patch to fill this pit.  After cleaning this area with alcohol, I blacken in the pit using a fine point Sharpie Pen then apply a drop of regular clear CA glue and set the stummel aside for the glue to cure. Not long after, the CA glue cures and I file the patch with a flat needle file followed by 240 and 600 grade papers. The result of this quick patch looks good.Waiting in the wings is the short stem of the Lumberman which sports a chipped button.  The button will need to be rebuilt using a mixture of activated charcoal powder and CA glue.I form an initial triangular insert from index card stock which fits into the slot of the button fully.  I had covered the inserted part with a layer of scotch tape to serve as a barrier to the patch material – to easily be able to remove the insert after the charcoal powder and CA mixture cures.  I then insert another triangular piece of card stock into the initial insert.  This serves to expand and tighten the insert.I open one capsule of activated charcoal dust on the plastic disc (also put a few strips of tape down for easier cleaning) and add BSI Maxi-Cure Extra Thick CA glue in a small puddle next to the charcoal powder and mix in gradually using the toothpick.  As with the briar dust putty, I draw charcoal powder into the CA glue until it reaches the viscosity of molasses and then trowel the putty to the stem to fill the missing button cavity. I trowel enough to fully over-coat the area.As hoped, after the charcoal patch sets up after a few minutes, with a bit of wiggling, the insert comes out leaving the slot and airway clear of the patch material.After several hours, the patch material has fully cured, and I go to work using a flat needle file.  I first work on clearing the excess patch material on the end of the stem.To more rapidly remove the mound of excess patch over the button I employ a small sanding drum mounted on the Dremel.  This removes the patch material very easily. I follow using the flat needle file to bring about the fine shaping of the button repair. I follow the filing and shaping of the button with 240 grade sanding paper to further smooth and shape.  I notice significant air bubbles being revealed by the sanding – ugh…Following the 240 paper, sanding with 600 grade paper and 0000 grade steel wool – upper and lower stem, brings out the air pockets even more distinctly. To address the significant presence of air pockets in this button repair, I first darken the pockets with a fine point Sharpie Pen then I paint thin CA glue over the button lip.  I put the stem aside for the CA to cure.Putting the stem aside for the time, I turn back to the stummel sanding it with the full regimen of micromesh pads.  Beginning with pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand the stummel.  Following this, I dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Wow!  The grain on this Silver Match Lumberman is nice.  You can tell that when the grain patterns in the briar are random, as in this stummel, it is usually a good indication that it was cut from the upper part of the burl which is called the ‘branch wood’ section where the branches of the briar shrub form.  This article I’ve found helpful in understanding better the nature of briar grain – Published in Pipes & Tobaccos, Fall 1999, GRAIN: The first of an infrequent series of articles concerning THE BRIAR PIPE By R. D. Field (See: LINK).  The grain that emerges through the micromesh process is very nice – the Silver Match Toronto is shaping up well. The thing that bothers me like a burr under a saddle is the huge crater fill on the underside of the shank. Even with a darkened stain to mask the fill, it will still be there.  Yet, the light briar surrounding it in the current state is too much contrast for me to swallow!  I come to a decision to stain the stummel a dark brown to provide as much blending as possible and to use the staining process to tease out in greater contrast of the grain. I assemble on the worktable all the needed components for applying stain to the stummel.  I will use Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye with the possibility of lightening the dye because it’s an aniline dye – alcohol based.  I can wipe it with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to lighten the finish and blend it.  I first clean the surface using isopropyl 95% and a cotton pad and using a cork inserted into the shank as a handle, I heat the stummel with a hot air gun.  This expands the briar and helps the grain to be more receptive to the dye.  I then use a folded over pipe cleaner to apply dye in swatches and then I flame the wet dye using a lit candle.  This immediately combusts the alcohol in the dye and it sets the dye pigment into the surface.  I methodically apply dye to the surface and flame as I go.  I then set the newly dyed stummel aside to allow the dye to rest – I’ll let it sit through the night.  This helps setting the new stain so that it will not come off on the hands when the stummel is first fired up when it goes into service. With the stummel resting, I return to the patched button addressing the air pockets.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures during this process, but the result is shown.  I use a flat file to remove the some of excess patch material and then gently sand with 240 grade paper and 600 paper.  I finish this phase using 0000 steel wool over the entire stem.  I’m not 100% satisfied with the button rebuild, but the stem is structurally ready to return to service.I move straightaway to using micromesh pads on the stem.  I begin wet sanding with pads 1500, 1800, and 2400 and follow with dry sanding with pads 3200, 3600, and 4000 and finish with pads 6000, 8000 and 12000.  Between each set of three I apply Obsidian Oil to the stem to help rejuvenate the vulcanite and the expected high-level gloss of the stem makes an appearance.  Nice.  I put the stem aside to dry and absorb the oil. The newly stained stummel rested through the night and it’s time to unwrap the stummel from the flamed crust residue revealing the grain below.  To do this I mount a new felt cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel and set the speed to the slowest possible to reduce the possibility of overheating with the friction.  I then apply Tripoli compound to the entire stummel.  I have been asked how long this process takes as I ‘plow off’ the crust and ‘clean’ the residue dye revealing the grain detail.  I timed it this time and the Tripoli compound application took me one hour and 10 minutes – yep, that long. When the help of my wife, she takes a picture of the process of removing the crust and revealing the hue of the newly stained briar underneath.  I’m pleased with the results.  The crater fill on the underside of the shank almost disappears as it blends with Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dyed grain.  After I complete the application of Tripoli with the felt cloth wheel, I switch to a cotton cloth wheel, increase the speed to about 40% full power, and again apply Tripoli to the stummel.  I do this for two reasons.  First, with the cotton cloth wheel I’m able to reach into the crook of the bowl and shank which the felt cloth wheel cannot reach.  Secondly, I find that it sharpens the grain presentation as additional excess dye is taken away.  The result is almost like a luminescent effect. After applying the Tripoli, I give the stummel a gentle wipe with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  This lightens the hue a bit and helps blend the new dye.Next, I mount another cotton cloth buffing wheel and maintain speed at 40% and apply Blue Diamond compound, less coarse than Tripoli, to both stummel and stem.Next, I again detach the stem and I want to freshen the Silver Match ‘flame’ stamping.  It took me a while to figure out that was what it was – at least that’s what I think it is!  I apply white acrylic paint over the stamp and then gently wipe it off while still wet using the flat side of a toothpick. I use a cotton bud and the point of the toothpick to clean off the excess. The result is about 80% success.  The upper part of the flame wasn’t deep enough to catch the paint.  The result still looks good.After reuniting the stem and stummel, I mount another cotton cloth wheel to the Dremel, maintaining 40% full power, and apply carnauba wax to the entire pipe.  I give the pipe a few coats of wax then I give it a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine and complete the restoration of this nice looking pipe.

This Silver Match Toronto Squat Lumberman came out well.  The grain is striking with a smattering of swirls, waves, bird’s eye, and flame…, it’s an expressive piece of briar!  The darkened stain works great and masked the fill on the underside of the shank almost to perfection.  I’m pleased with the button rebuild, though I want to work more on reducing the air pockets in the process.  Overall, this stout Lumberman is ready for service.  Robert commissioned him and has the first opportunity to purchase this pipe from The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

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!

 

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!

 

 

Rebuilding a Button to Recommission an Aristocrat London Made – Made in England 1077


Blog by Dal Stanton

I acquired this very stately looking Aristocrat trolling through offerings on eBay.  I liked it immediately because of its large rusticated bowl and the nice half bent Billiard presence.  It needed some work which was good for me – a broken off button and deep oxidation – factors that would discourage many from taking a second look.  When the auction ended, the price was a good one and I had the highest bid.  Another great pipe to restore to benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – our work here in Bulgaria helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  I was in the US when I landed this hefty rusticated Billiard and it was in the suitcase in the Lufthansa cargo hold on its way back to Bulgaria with me.As with all the pipes available in the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection, I take additional pictures for stewards looking to commission a pipe.  When Andrew reached out to me, he indicated interest in the Aristocrat but also in the Bearded Sailor Carved pipe I had then.  He had served in the Navy for 17 years and the old sailor caught his attention.  Unfortunately, the Carved Bearded Sailor was already commissioned for another pipe man.  I appreciate the service that Andrew has given in serving his country, and I mentioned to him that my son had also served as a submariner in the Navy, on the USS Boise. I appreciated his reply when I asked him for patience waiting for the Aristocrat to reach the work table.  Here’s what he wrote:

Dal, 

As the Grandson of a hobbyist wildlife painter I fully understand the time required to do something like this.  I would love this pipe and would like to commission too this pipe.  Thank you for keeping me in mind about the bearded sailor and thank your son for his service.

Andrew 

Here are some of the pictures Andrew saw of the Aristocrat London Made that I used from the original seller: The pipe has a large presence and I take out my ruler and take the measurements: Length: 5 15/16 inches, Height: 2 inches, Rim width: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber width: 3/4 inches, Chamber depth: 1 13/16 inches.  The nomenclature stamped on the lower shank smooth panel is thin. I take additional pictures of this from my worktable.  What is stamped is cursive ‘Aristocrat’ [over] LONDON MADE [over] MADE IN ENGLAND.  To the left of the nomenclature is a shape number: 1077 which undoubtedly points to the half-bent Billiard designation.The stem stamping is an ‘A’ set in a diamond frame.In search of the origins of the Aristocrat, I first look in my autographed copy of Herb Wilczak & Tom Colwell’s, “Who Made That Pipe?” dated 3/3/97.  Tom Colwell’s gifting of this book to “Bruce” is in April of 2001, concluding with his signature.  There were several listings for ‘Aristocrat’ but only two fell within the correct UK parameters:

John Redman/Kapp & Peterson – ENGL
Comoy’s / Harmon Bros. LTD – ENGL

Pipedia’s information narrowed the field by isolating the plain ‘A’ logo:

Pipedia’s entry for the John Redman Co. does not include much information.  I researched this company before as being the probable English manufacturer of pipes stamped with Boston’s Tobacconist Shop, L.J. Peretti name (see: A Christmas Gift in need of a stem splice – L J Peretti Squared Shank Billiard).  This restoration started a fun hobby of collecting L.J. Peretti pipes and selling many too!  Here is the information.

John Redman Ltd. and British Empire Pipe Co.

Other lines include Aristocrat, Buckingham, Buckingham Palace, Canberra, Captain Fortune, Dr John, Golden Square, Redonian, Richmond (not Sasieni), Twin Bore.

Former factory located at 3-11 Westland Place, Hackney, London N1 7LP

Pipephil’s entry solidified the John Redman Ltd. And British Empire Pipe Co., with the Aristocrat and the ‘A’ stem stamping.The dating of the Aristocrat on my table is difficult to determine, but it has an older feel to it and is set in a very traditional dark English style hue.  Looking at the pipe itself, there is a moderate amount of carbon cake buildup in the chamber which I will remove to examine the condition of the chamber walls.  The rusticated stummel is very attractive – the deep, distinct etching is nice, but there is grime and build up on the rim as well as in the stummel’s nooks and crannies.  The smooth briar panel holding the nomenclature on the shank’s underside is worn and the nomenclature is thin. There is a large scratch scarring the panel.  The panel’s scratches and nicks will be a challenge to clean without further eroding the stampings.  The stem has deep oxidation and the lower button has cracked off.  This will need to be rebuilt.  These pictures show some of these specific issues.I begin the restoration of this John Redman Aristocrat London Made, half-bent Billiard by cleaning the airway of the stem with a pipe cleaner wetting with isopropyl 95%.  I add the deeply oxidized stem to a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer along with other stems and pipes in the queue. After soaking for several hours, I fish out the Aristocrat’s stem and again clean the airway with a pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95% to clean the excess Deoxidizer. I use a cotton pad to wipe off the raised oxidation and the Deoxidizer has done a good job, but I still detect oxidation in the vulcanite.To begin revitalizing the stem, I apply paraffin oil, a mineral oil, and put it aside to dry.Next, I begin the process of cleaning the stummel. I start with reaming the chamber using the smallest blade head of the Pipnet Reaming Kit and moving to the larger blades. I put paper towel down to expedite the cleanup.  I use 2 of the 4 blades available then transition to scraping the chamber further using the Savinelli Fitsall tool and follow with sanding the chamber using 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen for reach and leverage.  After cleaning the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol, I examine the chamber and it looks great.  I see no evidences of burning damage with fissures or cracking. Next, using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap on a cotton pad I start the cleaning of the external rusticated surface.  I also employ a bristled tooth brush to work into the ridges of the rustication.  A brass wire brush which is gentle on the briar, also helps with the rim cleaning.  Finally, I take the stummel to the sink and rinse it with cool tap water.  The cleaning did a good job.  I take some pictures to show the surface and the question begins in my mind regarding the base color of the stummel.  Bare briar is peeking through, but the base looks black to me. Wanting to get a head start on my thinking for later stages, I pull out 3 very dark or black dyes to compare.  I have two Italian brands that are labeled ‘Dark Night’ and ‘Wenghe’ – both of which are so dark brown that they appear black to me.  The third dye is Fiebing’s Black Leather Dye – it is black.  I test each of these to see what they do and which may be the dye I use later to freshen the stummel if I indeed do decide to stain it. Thinking….Moving to the internal stummel cleaning, I use pipe cleaners and cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 95%. I quickly transition to scraping the mortise walls with a narrow dental spatula to excavate what tars and oils would come out manually.  I also use different sizes of shank brushes wetted with isopropyl 95% to clean.  As the picture below shows, this was not a short-lived encounter.  I also use a drill bit to hand turn down the airway to draw out more tar build-up.  After some time, the buds begin to lighten but not enough to declare the job done. To continue cleaning the internals passively, I use a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  I do this to further clean as well as to freshen the internal briar for the new steward.  I first pull and twist a cotton ball to form a wick which I stuff down the mortise and airway with the aid of a stiff wire.  This will act to draw out the tars and oils as the isopropyl 95% does its thing. After putting the stummel in an egg crate to stabilize things, I fill the bowl with kosher salt.  Unlike iodized salt, kosher salt doesn’t leave an aftertaste.  Next, I fill the bowl with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt.  As the alcohol absorbs into the chamber and mortise, the level of alcohol goes down.  After a few minutes I top off the isopropyl 95% and put the stummel aside to soak. Turning now to the stem, I take some pictures and take a closer look.  The Before & After Oxidizer did well, but there are still build up places on the surface showing where the oxidation was.  The button on the topside is worn down and underneath the button has broken off. Before starting on the rebuild of the button, I use 240 grade sanding paper and sand the stem.  I want to first address the overall condition of the stem surface then the button. While sanding, I’m careful to protect the diamond A stamp of the Aristocrat as well as to avoid shouldering the shank facing. To rebuild the button, I begin by cutting a folded over triangle from index card stock which is a bit stiffer.  I leave the end of the triangle open and create a sleeve.  I put smooth scotch tape over the end of the triangle sleeve to hold the sleeve together and to keep the wedge from sticking to the CA glue and activated charcoal mixture.  After the triangle wedge is fashioned, I insert it into the slot airway as far as it will go to fill the gap and then I push other triangle pieces of index card into the sleeve to fill it out and to hold it in place firmer.I then mix the charcoal putty.  I use extra thick CA glue and mix it with activated charcoal by gradually pulling charcoal into a small puddle of CA glue and mixing with a toothpick.  I add charcoal until it reaches the viscosity of molasses and then apply it to the button.The first application is a little too runny, so I add a bit more charcoal to the mixture and apply more.I have a good coverage over the entire area which will allow me to file and shape the new button.  After the charcoal putty sets, I work the wedge loose and it comes out easily.  I put the stem aside to allow the putty to cure thoroughly.Well, after a few days longer than planned because of dealing with an unforeseen flu bug hitting many here in Sofia, the kosher salt and alcohol soak has done some major work.  The salt and wick are soiled in a big way indicating that the tars and oils were drawn more from the internals. I toss the salt in the waste and clean the chamber with paper towel as well as blowing through the mortise to rid the stummel of salt crystals.I follow again with more cotton buds and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% to clean up the left-over residue.  The salt soak made a dent.  After some more effort, I declare the internals clean and move on.The stem button rebuild is next.  The charcoal putty is fully cured after the days of the flu bug and I start working on it using a flat needle file. I start working on the end filing toward the slot to form the end of the stem. After the button face is flush, I then file downwardly to form the depth of the button lip.When I arrive at about the right depth for the button lip, I then file from the stem side to sharpen and shape the new button.I also use the round pointed needle file to smooth the slot – forgot to picture that file!I also freshen the topside button lip with the flat needle file.The filing process is complete.  The bottom rebuild looks great – it shaped up well.  The next pictures show the completion of the filing on the upper bit and button face. As is often the case, air pockets are trapped in the charcoal putty and are revealed during the sanding process. To remedy this, using a toothpick, I run a small drop of regular CA glue on the toothpick and use it to paint the entire lip with the glue.  I also run a line to seal the edges of the button – both the stem side and on the button face.  Taking a picture of black with a light background doesn’t show a lot of detail often!I use an accelerator to quicken the curing process and follow by lightly sanding the button with 240 grade paper.  The CA glue filled the pits well.I take the stem to the sink and wet sand the entire stem with 600 grade paper.  I’m careful to avoid sanding the Aristocrat ‘A’ stem stamp.  After using 600 paper, I then apply 0000 grade steel wool to the entire stem.I move directly to applying the full regimen of 9 micromesh pads to the Aristocrat stem.  I start by wet sanding using pads 1500 to 2400 followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads, I apply a coat of Obsidian Oil to condition the stem.  I like that newly polished pop that comes from the vulcanite after the micromesh process! With the stem waiting in the wings, I take a close look at the stummel.  The rustication is deep and expressive and the stummel itself is large.  The briar block this stummel is hewn from must have been dense, because the stummel itself has some weight to it.  I like the dark hue of the rustication and my head debate is whether to freshen the entire bowl by staining it or to keep what is present and touch it up, primarily on the rim?  I’m drawn to the flecked bare briar that is present in the current condition – it gives the stummel and classic rustic look – not too polished, but a pipe that has seen some life.  The rim has raw briar showing and needs touching up. The other question has to do with the smooth briar underplate holding the nomenclature.  The stamping is already ghosting and thin – I don’t want to contribute to this loss of his history!  There is a scratch to the right of the lettering that I can sand without trouble.  But as I look at the smooth briar plate, the dark stain that is now covering the smooth briar does not look good.With the decision made to go with the current hue and touch up, I start on the smooth briar nomenclature plate first on the underside of the shank.  I want to create a more distinct and classy looking nomenclature plate by removing the finish from the smooth briar.  This will create a classy looking contrast between the dark rusticated surface and the smooth briar.  I first use a cotton pad wetted with alcohol which had little effect.  I then switch to using acetone.  I wetted several cotton pads and scrubbed the smooth briar.  This had some effect, but still nothing spectacular showing a loosening of the dark finish on this area.The breakthrough came when I thought of trying Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. To my great surprise, it works.  The finish was removed in large measure leaving behind and interesting patch of smooth briar.  Yet, as I look closely at the nomenclature, I’m afraid it appears as though the Magic Eraser sponge exerted more abrasiveness than I thought would be the case.  The lettering has deteriorated further – the profanity that flashed through my mind did not surface!  Ugh – we make plans, but often they are not what happens.  I allow the briar to dry before doing more on the underside panel.Next, to touch up the rim, I use a Dark Walnut dye stick, which I chose after testing several colors on a cotton pad.  I apply the dye stick over the rim and in the crevices.  It looks great, blending well with the rest of the stummel. To roughen the rim up a bit, to blend it more with the weathered, rustic stummel, I use a 1500 grade micromesh pad and lightly sand the ridges of the rusticated rim.  This lightens the tips and helps blending.To get a bird’s eye view of the project, I rejoin the Aristocrat London Made stem and stummel.  It’s looking good.With a closer look at the junction there is a gap between the shank and the stem facings.  I examine the mortise and there is no ridge that would be creating the obstruction.  With no obvious obstruction, I use 240 grade sanding paper simply to taper the end of the tenon more guessing that the mortise narrows, and this will afford a little more room for the tenon.  After sanding, I try again, and it seats well now. I now mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel, set the speed at about 40% full power and apply Blue Diamond compound to the stem and stummel.  With my wife’s help, she takes a picture of the process in motion.  When completed, I give the pipe a good wipe down with a felt cloth to clean it of compound dust. Before applying wax to the stem and stummel, two mini-projects are first needed.  I could have done this earlier, but now is ok too!  Using Before & After Restoration Balm, I apply some to my fingers and then rub it into the smooth briar area on the underside of the shank.  I also apply the Balm to the shank alone.  Later, after it absorbs for a few minutes, I wipe off the excess and buff up the smooth briar and the shank.  I like the results so well, even on the rusticated shank surface, I decide to then apply B&A Restoration Balm to the entire stummel.  After about 15 minutes, I again wipe off the excess then buff the surface up, making sure all the Balm has been absorbed into the briar surface. While the Balm is absorbing, I refresh the diamond encased ‘A’ Aristocrat stem stamp.  Using white acrylic paint, I apply some paint over the stamp and then blot it with a cotton pad to draw off the excess paint.  After it dries, I gently scrape the excess paint leaving the paint filling the stamping lines.  I like it! I reunite the stem and stummel and mount another cotton cloth buffing wheel onto the Dremel.  Because I’m applying wax to a rougher rusticated surface, I increase the speed of the Dremel to about 60% full power to increase the RPMs and therefore the heat helping to dissolve the wax.  I apply a few coats of carnauba wax to the stummel. Moving to the stem, I decrease the speed to 40% of full power and apply carnauba.   After finishing with the wax, I use and microfiber cloth and give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing to raise the shine.

I am very pleased how this hefty pipe turned out.  The deep, distinct rusticated surface looks great on this nice looking, classic half bent Billiard.  The half bend works very well with the overall feel of the bowl resting in the palm.  My only disappointment is the further eroding of the nomenclature in order to reveal the grain of the smooth briar panel.  Even so, the pipe is a keeper.  The major technical hurdle of rebuilding the button came out beautifully and reveals no evidence of its former state.  Andrew could see how nice this Aristocrat London Made could be and he commissioned him from the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection and will have the first opportunity to acquire it from The Pipe Steward Store.  The restoration of this pipe benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

Reclaiming Paw’s Kaywoodie “500” 04 Long Stem Billiard – A Great-Grandfather’s Legacy


Blog by Dal Stanton

One of the greatest challenges to me AND honors is to receive a request to restore a pipe that is a family’s heirloom.  It’s amazing how when a loved one passes from this life, the things they leave behind become present links to the memories of the past.  Pipes are favorite heirlooms because they hold an enormous sense of the presence of the loved one – the smell, marks left on the pipe, memories of the loved one sitting and reflecting with pipe in hand and a wink of the eye….  This was one of the reasons I took the name, The Pipe Steward, because of this strong sense of passing on something of great value – not just the physical pipe, but the memories and associations welded to that pipe’s presence.   Joe contacted me with a request for some pipes that hold this honor.  Joe and Hannah work in the same organization as my wife and I, but live in Athens, Greece.  I met them for the first time at a conference there last year.  This was Joe’s request:

Hey Dal,
Joe here…, we talked for a while about pipes. I have some old pipes. They were my wife’s Great-Grandfather’s pipes from Winston-Salem, NC.  I’d love for them to be restored, and I’d love for the money to go to a good cause like
the Daughters of Bulgaria program. All of them need an intense deep cleaning, and some have some stem damage. If I sent you some pictures, do you think you could offer a guesstimation of the price? I’d love to give these pipes to my father-in-law in the same condition as his grandfather smoked them.

Many blessings,
Joe

Joe sent some pictures on to me and he settled on one pipe as a starter project – a Kaywoodie “500” Lovat shape – or what I originally identified it as.  Here were a few pictures showing the major issues.Since Joe wanted to gift the pipe to his father-in-law, which belonged to his grandfather – Hannah’s great-grandfather, I asked Joe what he knew about the pipe’s history.  This is what he wrote:

History of the pipe… hmmm. That’s going to be tricky. I will ask and see if anyone can offer more input on the history of Paw’s pipes, but I can’t honestly say much myself.

Ben is my father-in-law. He was raised by a single mom, who worked a lot to raise her 4 boys. So, Ben’s grandparents raised the boys while the mom worked so much. When Ben’s mom passed away a few years ago, we were all cleaning out her home and I noticed a pipe stand in the garage with 5 pipes and a Sir Walter Raleigh bowl cleaner, and someone was asking if that should go in the garage sale. I quickly offered to be a home for it if no one else wanted it, which made Ben happy. He didn’t really have the capacity to decide things that week, he was just glad it was staying in the family and not going to a stranger. 

My ultimate goal is to get these pipes, the stand, and this bowl cleaner in good shape to re-give them back to Ben (maybe for his 60th Birthday next year).  I’ve really just been a pipe steward, myself. I think it will mean a lot to Ben to have an heirloom from his grandfather (who functionally was his father).

Dusty, cobwebby garages often hold the key to finding special heirlooms!  After I wrote Joe describing some of the issues and remedies for Paw’s Kaywoodie “500”, he wrote back with some special instructions to preserve some of the evidences of Paw’s time with his Lovat.  With the heavy erosion to the back of the rim, I had suggested rounding/topping the rim.  Joe’s response:

My initial thoughts are to not round out the rim. I like the flat surface of the rim. As far as the damage on the backside, I know it should be cleaned up, but I wonder if taking 1/10 of an inch off instead of 1/8, if that would yield a proper looking bowl, yet still with the slightest reminder that Paw lit his pipes with a match from the back of the bowl.   It’s just a thought.   I like it when antiques look in their original condition (or close) but I’m also a sucker for the sentimental stuff, so I don’t mind having at least a little bit of the bowl erosion still visible. 

The pipe made it to Bulgaria from Greece via another colleague and another conference in Barcelona that I attended.  With the Kaywoodie “500” now on my worktable I take more pictures to get a better idea of the pipe’s condition. The nomenclature on both sides of the long Lovat stem is clear.  The left flank is stamped KAYWOODIE [over] “500” [over] IMPORTED BRIAR [over] PAT. 2808837.  The right side of the shank is stamped with the Kaywoodie shape number, ‘06’.  The stem holds the classic inlaid Kaywoodie shamrock or clover.  Almost missed and lurking on the lower side of the stem is stamped: “B75” – I’ll need to check this out! Looking first for information about the shape number, ‘06’, Pipedia Kaywoodie Shapes Numbers list is helpful:

04 Large saddle bit billiard, long shank, short bit 1931-1958, 1961-1970

The description is spot on with the saddle stem and long shank.  Calling it a long shank Billiard is essentially the same as a Lovat, in the Canadian family of shapes.  The potential dating brackets are also helpful.  Another Kaywoodie Shapes chart I go to at Kaywoodie Free Forum confirms that this number describes a medium Billiard, long shank, saddle stem but I also see specific shape numbers for Canadians, ‘71’, and such.  So, in deference to the Kaywoodie shape number specifications, I’ll be calling this a Long Shank Billiard and not a Lovat.  Also at Kaywoodie Free Forum, there is a very helpful Kaywoodie Master List that was compiled and I quickly find the Kaywoodie “500” series listed as ‘low end pipes’ with the date range of 1957 to 1967.  The list provided this example of the “500” series of a classic Billiard which matches Paw’s pipe scheme perfectly.  These were not expensive pipes but attractive and well within a working man’s budget.I still have not seen anything regarding the ‘B75’ stamp on the lower side of the saddle stem.  So, as I often do, with all of Steve’s rebornpipes.com experience, I send a note to him with the inquiry.  This response cleared up the mystery:

As for the stamping on the stem I was told by a fellow on the KW forum that they were part numbers to make replacement of a stem easy, I have seen it on quite a few of the KWs I have restored.

So, with that mystery resolved, I look more at the Kaywoodie name.

I’ve worked on several Kaywoodies before this and I am always intrigued by the story and repeat it here to give the broader heritage of Paw’s “500”. The Kaywoodie website, actually the S. M. Frank Co. & Inc. site, is informative:

The history of S. M. Frank & Co. spans nearly a century and half of pipe making, supporting our claim as the “oldest pipe house in America.” S. M. Frank, as it exists today, is a combination of some of the biggest names in pipe making from the early part of the 20th. century. The pipe names Kaywoodie, Yello-Bole, Reiss-Premier, DeMuth, Medico, Heritage and Frank are familiar to generations of pipe smokers.

The article describes how in 1919 the Kaufman Brothers & Bondy Company (KBB) produced the Kaywoodie and Dinwoodie pipe lines.  By 1924 the Dinwoodie line fell by the wayside and the primary name of Kaywoodie was the mainstay pipe line and the company came to be known by that name.  Little is known about the early activities of the KBB Company which started in 1851 by the German born Kaufman brothers.  The company had several locations but was centered in the New York City region throughout its production history.  The expansion of the KKB Company following the gold rush I find fascinating:

produced the Kaywoodie and Dinwoodie pipe lines.  By 1924 the Dinwoodie line fell by the wayside and the primary name of Kaywoodie was the mainstay pipe line and the company came to be known by that name.  Little is known about the early activities of the KBB Company which started in 1851 by the German born Kaufman brothers.  The company had several locations but was centered in the New York City region throughout its production history.  The expansion of the KKB Company following the gold rush I find fascinating:

When one of the men from the New York office got “gold fever”, he carried a large supply of pipes with him to California that he sold along the way. This early “national distribution” did much to build the reputation of KBB. By the late 1800’s, branches of KBB were opened in Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco and St. Louis with family and friends acting as agents. The trademarks, for the inlaid cloverleaf and the cloverleaf with the KBB initials inside, were issued in 1881. 

In 1935, KBB boasted of being the largest pipe making facility in the world with 500 employees and a production of 10,000 pipes per day from their facility in West New York, New Jersey.  In 1955, Kaywoodie was acquired by S. M. Frank & Co. (See Link) and continues to the present with well-known names Yello-BoleReiss-PremierWilliam Demuth CompanyMedico, Heritage (Heritage Pipes Inc.), along with Kaywoodie (Link).

I enjoyed seeing this picture in the 1955 Kaywoodie Catalog from Pipedia with a specific listing of shape 04.  The ‘04’ is the forth pipe down (picture to the left) and this shows that the shape designations for Kaywoodie pipes stay consistent.  This catalog pre-dates by a few years the ’57 to ’67 dating for the “500” series, but the shape again is spot on.  I enjoyed seeing this catalog page because it shows the huge inventory variety that Kaywoodie provided its customers.  The subtle nuances between these long shank, saddle stem Billiards is interesting to me.  The ‘04’ enjoys the distinction of the longest shank compared to the shapes presented.

It is obvious from the condition of the Kaywoodie “500” that Paw loved this pipe and this pipe hung in there a long time!  As you would expect, the briar surface has its share of nicks and grime after over half a century of service. The chamber has thick cake that has built up and closes the chamber as you go downward. The rim has seen better days.  What I first thought might be burn damage on the back side of the rim.  I think there’s evidence of that too, as the inner rim lip is burnt and receded, but there’s more.  Because the briar is raw here, it indicates something else about Paw’s habits and rituals of pipe smoking.  It looks as if Paw was a knocker.  With that nice long shank in hand after finishing his bowl, my guess is that he would twist the pipe over and give the bowl a few knocks on whatever hard surface was nearby to loosen and remove the ashes.  The knocker dent is what Joe would like to preserve to some extent as a lasting memory of Paw.  The second picture below is convincing forensically to prove that Paw was a knocker – the angle is perfect! The stem is a mess.  The oxidation is deep.  The tooth chatter and button compressions suggest also that Paw was a chewer!  The upper bit over time took the brunt and over time cracked and the entire top of the button broke off, taking with it some of the flat bit vulcanite real estate.  This area will need rebuilding.The stem shows one more issue that needs addressing: the stem is over-clocked.  It tends to be normal with these pipes as they age, with much wear and use, the metal fittings rubbing, gradually there is a microscopic loss in the metal composition.  The result is more thread room and therefore, when the stem turns to the right and tightens, it’s not in the proper orientation.  This is the case for this Kaywoodie “500” as this picture shows. With an ongoing appreciation for the history of the Kaywoodie name, and of this pipe’s former steward and Joe’s desires to gift the pipe to his father-in-law, Ben, I begin the restoration of Paw’s Kaywoodie “500” with a pipe cleaner dipped in isopropyl 95% and clean the airway of the stem.  I also use a thin shank brush to clean up through the air hole on the metal Kaywoodie tenon.  I then add the stem to a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer to work on the deep oxidation in the vulcanite.  I don’t believe the Deoxidizer will have total success in raising all the oxidation, but this is a good start.  There are other pipes and stems in the commissioning queue that the Kaywoodie joins, all of which have been restored and shipped off to new stewards!After several hours, I fish out the Kaywoodie saddle stem and let it drain.  I then put another pipe cleaner wetted with alcohol through the airway to remove the excess Deoxidizer liquid.Next, wiping the stem surface with cotton pads wetted with alcohol removes much of the raised oxidation.  Much comes off, but the evidence of the residual deep oxidation is easily seen.  I take some close up pictures of the upper and lower bit to show what I’m seeing – I notch down the aperture of the iPhone app I use to allow more light to see the brown/olive green oxidation more clearly. For now, with a cotton pad I apply paraffin oil (a mineral oil) to the stem to begin the process of revitalizing the stem.I now commence the cleaning regimen of the stummel. First, I remove the carbon cake build up by reaming the chamber.  I take a picture of the chamber to mark the start.  I start by using the Pipnet Reaming Kit. After putting paper towel down to minimize cleanup, I start with the smallest blade head and go to work. It takes some time for the blade to break through to the floor of the chamber – the cake is hard and stubborn.  In addition, I use the next 2 larger blade heads of the 4 blades available in the kit.  I then scrape the walls more using the Savinelli Fitsall tool and finish by sanding the chamber with 240 grade sanding paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen to give me reach and leverage.  After wetting a cotton pad with alcohol, I clean the chamber of the carbon dust residue left over.  The pictures show the progress. When I inspect the chamber, the walls look good. There are heating veins in the wood, but no cracks or fissures from heating damage.  I do note two things that give me some concern.In the picture below I mark off the draft hole with 2 yellow marks.  The first issue I see is marked by the arrows. Through decades of reaming and scraping, which I just added to, a curved ridge has formed – you can see the edge of the ridge marked by the arrows.  The briar curves outwardly to the ridge which I show with the curved red line.  The ridge is only on the back side of the chamber, over the draft hole.  I may need to sand this ridge down so that the chamber doesn’t have an abrupt bump to hinder future reaming and cleaning.  The second issue is caused by overzealous reaming.  The floor of the chamber drops underneath the proper amount of space below the draft hole.  A floor cavity has been created by the chamber floor wearing down over time.  The ridge of this floor cavity is marked with the red dashes. Not only does this create a burning dynamic that will always leave excess tobacco beneath the draft hole, but also the danger of a burn through is a concern with the thinning of the floor.  I will continue to think about these new issues as I continue the cleaning process.Next, I work on cleaning the external briar surface by using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap on a cotton pad and I scrub.  I also use a brass wire brush to clean the thick lava flow over the rim.  I use cool tap water to rinse off the soap.  The Murphy’s Soap does a good job cleaning, but the cleaning reveals the rough shape of the stummel. The finish is very thin with shiny finish patches here and there.  There are also many scratches and pits – too many to count.  I take pictures for an inventory. I need to remove the old finish so that there aren’t the shiny patches and unevenness.  I first try wiping the stummel surface with cotton pads wetted with isopropyl 95%.  The pads take a good deal off as evidenced in the coloration of the cotton pads, but there are still patches with the old finish hanging on.Next, I wet a cotton pad with acetone and again I scrub the surface.  This does the trick.  I move on.I turn now to the stummel internal cleaning.  The effort is made difficult by the Kaywoodie metal shank facing which only provides a very small access point to the mortise through the thread air hole.   I use cotton buds and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95% to clean the tars and oil accumulation out of the mortise and airway.  I also reach through the metal hole with a smaller dental spatula to scrape the mortise wall as far as the tool will reach.  But it doesn’t reach far.  To save on my limited supply of pipe cleaners, I utilize shank brushes also wetted with isopropyl 95%.  After some time, I decide to call a halt to this frontal assault which reminds me of the carnage of WWI – carnage but little advance as the lines were kept in check.  The hour is late, and I change gears.I utilize the more passive approach of allowing the stummel to soak through the night with a kosher salt and alcohol soak. First, I stretch and twist a cotton ball to create the ‘wick’ which I stuff down through the mortise into the long shank airway.  The wick will help draw out the tars and oils from the internal briar.  I then set the stummel in an egg crate to stabilize it and fill the bowl with kosher salt which does not leave an aftertaste.  I then fill the bowl until with isopropyl 95%, the purest alcohol I can purchase in Bulgaria, until it surfaces over the salt.  In a few minutes I top off the alcohol after it has absorbed into the internals.  I then turn the lights off and another day ends.