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A Button-Rebuild Helps Reclaim a Beat Up French GEFAPIP 500 26 S Bent Bulldog


Blog by Dal Stanton

I acquired this Gefapip 500 26 S Bent Bulldog in the acquisition of what I call the ‘St. Louis Lot of 26’.  My son, Josiah, found the Lot for sale in an antique shop in St. Louis where he was doing his Masters work on a counseling degree.  He texted to me in Bulgaria the details with the proposal that we split the cost of the purchase – that I would choose one of the pipes as a gift from him and the remainder would go into the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! online collection for pipe men and women to commission to benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – our work here in Bulgaria with women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  It was a win/win proposition and the HUGE Champion Churchwarden in the center became my gift from Josiah.  I made out like a bandit!Several of these pipes have already found their way to new stewards and another is on deck for restoration.  Seth saw the St. Claude produced Bent Bulldog (arrow in picture above) and sent me this note:

Hi Dal, first of all, I just want to say that I’ve been checking your website pretty frequently since you spoke at our church’s (Faith PCA in Cumberland, MD) mission conference a year or two ago. Since hearing about the work you and Beth do through the Daughters of Bulgaria, I knew I wanted to donate in some way and have been waiting to find the right pipe to get.

My wife and I visit many churches in the US when we’re there talking about our life and work in Bulgaria.  Seth was at one of these conferences and I love getting notes like this.  One of the pipes he had in mind was the Bulldog.  Later, Seth added another commission project to the GEFAPIP Bulldog, by asking me to fashion a new Churchwarden from a Sculpted Bull’s Head – I’m looking forward to this one!  His biggest challenge is the missing horns which I will need to fashion!I’m grateful for Seth’s patience in waiting for his commissions to reach the worktable.  Here are pictures of the Bent Bulldog.The provenance of the pipe is found on the lower left panel of the diamond shaped shank.  The nomenclature is GEFAPIP [over] 500 [over] FRANCE.  Running parallel to the shank facing to the right is what I’m assuming is a shape number: ’26 S’.  The ‘500’ and ‘FRANCE’ stampings are very thin, so I need to be careful to safeguard these.A quick look in Pipedia reveals pertinent information about the French origins of this GEFAPIP.  The information is brief but helpful.

Gefapip was a French brand from the St Claude region. Their products appeared in the 1979 Tinderbox catalog, with prices ranging from $17.50 to $62.50.

The following catalog page (1979 Catalog page, courtesy Doug Valitchka) was included with the text and it added helpful information that the GEFAPIP name was started by a group of master carvers in the St. Claude region.  The production line pictured in the catalog page are examples of shapes smoked in the Saint Claude region in the 1890s according to the caption.A visit to Pipephil.eu did not produce new information but gave some additional examples of GEFAPIP pipes. The stem stamping of a ‘modernistic’ pipe shape shown in the panel unfortunately is not visible on the Bent Bulldog’s stem.  I don’t know if it was ever there or was worn away over the years.Looking more closely at the Bulldog itself, reveals that it has been smoked hard and put out to pasture.  The rim has lava flow along with a thick carbon cake buildup in the chamber. The briar surface is covered with a darkened film of grime and oils that need cleaning.The stem is deeply oxidized to the point of what I believe is calcium buildup on the surface concentrated in the bit area.  The bit has been chewed severely with the upper button bite caving in on the slot.The underside also has a severe tooth hole almost puncturing through to the airway.  The entire button will need rebuilding to address these issues.The shank junction seems to be in good shape at first glance, but I see that former sanding and wear has created some shouldering on the corners of the stem facing.The restoration of the French GEFAPIP Bent Bulldog begins with the needy stem to address the deep oxidation.  I first clean the airway with pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%.Trying to get a jump on breaking up the oxidation in the vulcanite, I apply a 00-grade steel wool to the surface before putting the stem in a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer.  This seems to help.I’ve purchased a new batch of the Deoxidizer from Mark Hoover (lbepens1@gmail.com), but I wanted to give the current batch one more use before tossing it!  Generally, I like the Before & After Deoxidizer’s performance except when deep oxidation is present.  Consistently, I find that it doesn’t remove this deep oxidation but perhaps masks it and generally I find that following the Before & After Treatment sanding to remove the oxidation is needed.  The stem of the GEFAPIP Bulldog joins other pipes in the queue (Longchamp, Danish Freehand, Kaywoodie Standard, Italian Billiard and Brewster) for a soak in the Deoxidizer.I give the soak several hours, though I don’t believe the additional time adds more cleaning, and after fishing out the Bulldog’s stem and draining off the excess liquid, I run another pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95% through the airway to clean away the Deoxidizer.  I also rigorously wipe off additional oxidation raised through the soak process using cotton pads wetted with isopropyl 95%.After this, to help revitalize the vulcanite stem, I wipe paraffin oil on the stem.  Paraffin oil is a mineral oil I can find easily here in Bulgaria.With the help of the setting of the camera on my iPhone X, the remnant of deep oxidation remaining in the vulcanite is visible.  I will need to fully sand the stem to clean it thoroughly.Putting the stem aside for the time, I take a closer look at the stummel with a fresh picture of the chamber.  The picture below is difficult to discern the canonical shape of the chamber as the cake thickens toward the floor of the chamber.I also do a quick inventory of the briar surface in need of cleaning.  The dark spots of oils and grime hide the beautiful grain peeking in from underneath. After laying out paper towel to minimize cleanup, to clean out the carbon cake buildup in the chamber I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit to get down to the fresh briar.  I use two of the four blade heads available in the kit.  Then, switching to using the Savinelli Fitsall tool, scraping the chamber walls continue.  Finally, after wrapping a Sharpie Pen with 240 grade paper, the chamber is sanded to finish the reaming process.  After cleaning the chamber of carbon dust with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%, inspection of the chamber shows some minor heating veins, but healthy briar now has a fresh start.  I move on.Transitioning now to the external cleaning, undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap is used with a cotton pad to scrub the briar surface.  A dental probe is helpful in cleaning the pair of parallel dome grooves separating the upper and lower Bulldog bowl.  A brass bristled brush helps to clean the lava flow on the rim as well.  Brass bristles are used because they are gentler on the briar surface yet provide some abrasive cleaning action. From the cleaning on the worktable, the bowl is transferred to the kitchen sink and rinsed with hot water.  Using long shank brushes, the internal cleaning starts by using anti-oil liquid dish soap.  After a thorough rinsing, back on the worktable the results of the cleaning are examined.The surface cleaned up very well.  The dark spots that were especially evident at the shank/bowl junction were cleaned away very nicely.The rim shows continued darkening, but this will be addressed with some sanding to clean the briar.The nice quality of this block of briar is evidenced by the emerging grain and that I found only one, very small fill on the right upper shank panel.  There’s a slight ridge where the fill has shrunk after being wet, a normal phenomenon.  I may touch it up with some clear CA glue.Switching now to the internal cleaning proper, cotton buds and pipe cleaners are employed after wetted with isopropyl 95%.  The internals are grungy.  Using a smaller pointed dental spoon, I excavate huge amounts of tars and oils scraped off the mortise walls.  My first effort at pushing a pipe cleaner through the draft hole is frustrated by a blockage.  With the help of a stiff piece of wire, the blockage is pushed through – a hunk of gunk! With a lot of effort expended, the buds and pipe cleaners start emerging in a lighter state until I call it a truce!  I’ll continue the internal cleaning later with a kosher salt/alcohol soak.  The pictures show the first assault. I decide to move straight away to the kosher salt and alcohol soak.  I first twist a cotton ball by pulling and twisting it to form a ‘wick’ that is inserted into the mortise with the help of the stiff wire.  Then, after filling the bowl with kosher salt which leaves no aftertaste and placing the stummel in an egg carton for stability, using a large eye dropper, the chamber is filled with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes, the alcohol is absorbed into the pipe and I top it off again and set the stummel aside for several hours allowing the soak to do the work. Switching focus now to the stem, I take a few pictures to take a closer look.  With the residual oxidation remaining in the stem, it is a given that the stem will be fully sanded to address this.  The upper bit has compressions including damage to the button lip.  In the picture, after inserting a pipe cleaner, the split in the button becomes more visible.  The lower bit is so damaged that no amount of sanding will resolve these issues.  With the upper bit, I’ll first use the heating method to expand the vulcanite to lessen the amount of sanding needed.I note that the button doesn’t have a slot but simply an airway hole. To begin, I use a Bic lighter to paint the upper bit to lessen the severity of the compressions before rebuilding the button.  I take a picture to mark the start and another picture to show the progress.  The second picture does reveal that the vulcanite expanded some and this is good.Next, the entire button needs to be rebuilt using a mixture of activated charcoal and Extra Thick CA glue.  To begin, I wrap a piece of Scotch tape around the end of a pipe cleaner then rub Petroleum Jelly over the tape.  I then insert the pipe cleaner into the airway and position the tape so that it straddles the air hole in the button.  This is to guard the integrity of the airway so that the patch material doesn’t seal it.I then clean the upper- and lower-bit area with alcohol.With a plastic disk serving as a mixing pallet, scotch tape is used to help in the cleanup.  I mix on a non-porous surface to provide consistency in the way the CA glue mixes with the activated charcoal.  That is, I do not mix on card stock or something like this because it absorbs moisture out of the glue and causes the glue to behave less consistently while mixing.  I use an activated Charcoal Capsule to provide the charcoal – it is pure and is not lumpy.After removing the charcoal from the capsule, I add a small puddle of the Extra Thick Maxi-Cure CA glue produced by BSI.  It works well for me.I use a toothpick to mix the CA glue and charcoal by drawing the charcoal into the glue as I mix.  When it thickens enough so that it’s not running off the toothpick, I then trowel the mixture onto the button – upper and lower.  The patch mounds should be more than what is needed so that sanding brings the newly fashioned button down to the right size and shaping. After the patch material sets, just like it should work, the petroleum jelly coated pipe cleaner was removed with a few small tugs.After several hours the patch material is fully cured.  The long patient process of filing and shaping the button begins with a flat needle file.  The following pictures show the gradual progression on the upper button lip. Next, transitioning to the lower button lip and the patch to bit. The filing phase is completed as the pictures show the upper and lower bit and views of the airhole – upper and lower orientation. Transitioning to 240 grade paper I begin sanding which continues the smoothing and shaping of the button but also expands the sanding to the entire stem to address the deep oxidation.  I employ a plastic disk to sand against to avoid shouldering the stem facing.  It is no surprise to see the emergence of air pocket pits in the patch material as the sanding continues.  I would like to figure out how to minimize this! The upper and lower stem is shown. The sanding with 240 paper is completed and I wipe the button off with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to get a closer look at the patch pitting in the rebuild button. To address this and to fill the pits, I use regular clear CA glue.  I put a small amount of CA glue on the lip of the button and then spread it over the lip to create a thin layering of glue over the surface.  This layering of CA glue fills the pits.  I spray the glue with an accelerator to hold it in place and to quicken the curing time. Next, after taking the stem to the kitchen sink, the whole stem is wet sanded with 600 grade paper and after the sanding, 000 is applied to the entire surface of the stem to smooth it further – including the newly rebuilt button with the CA glue painting of the button.  The results are looking good for the upper and lower stem. I put the stem to the side for now and turn again to the stummel which has been undergoing a kosher salt/alcohol soak for several hours to continue cleaning and refreshing the internals.  The salt and mortise ‘wick’ are soiled revealing the passive activity of drawing out the tars and oils from the internal mortise walls.  After tossing the expended salt into the waste, I wipe the bowl with paper towel and blow through the mortise to remove salt crystals.To make sure all is fully cleaned, I use one pipe cleaner and cotton bud to confirm this.  I also take a whiff of the chamber and it is smelling sweet and ready for its new steward!  Moving on!I continue with the stem applying the full regimen of micromesh pads.  First, with pads 1500 to 2400 wet sanding is followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads, Obsidian Oil is applied to rejuvenate the vulcanite stem and to retard future oxidation development.  The stem looks great and the button rebuild does as well. Continuing to help in the revitalization of the vulcanite stem, I apply Before & After Fine Polish and then Extra Fine Polish in that order.  After each application by working the polish into the vulcanite with my fingers, afterwards wipe the excess with paper towel.  The stem looks good.After completing this phase of the stem restoration, to get a look at the overall progress, I reunite the stem and GEFAPIP Bent Bulldog stummel.  Two issues emerge after reuniting the stem and stummel.  First, the tenon/mortise fitting has loosened as a result of the cleaning processes.  This often is the case.  The seating of the tenon needs tightening.  The second issue is that the shank/stem alignment is off slightly creating a gap between the stem and shank on the left side – right side of the second picture below. This gapping is enhanced somewhat by the rounded corners of the stem facing that I identified earlier. Before addressing the gap, to tighten the tenon’s fit in the mortise, I find a drill bit one size larger than what will fit into the airway. Then, using a Bic lighter to heat the tenon until the vulcanite softens; the drill bit is forced into the airway gradually.  After inserting the very beginning of the bit, I re-heat the tenon with the Bic lighter to again soften the vulcanite.  I then force the bit into the airway further.  With each advance of the slightly larger drill bit into the airway, the vulcanite is expanded thus increasing the diameter of the overall tenon resulting in a tighter fit in the shank.After the bit has reached the end of its journey expanding the tenon, I take the stem to the kitchen sink and cool the tenon with the drill bit remaining inserted.  This cools the vulcanite and it hardens resulting in holding the expanded tenon diameter.  Back at the worktable, to remove the bit, which is now stuck, I grip the end of the drill bit with plyers and while holding the bit stationary, I rotate the attached stem so that gradually the bit is released from the tenon’s grip.The procedure works very well so that the tenon is now too large to fit after a test fitting.  Using 240 grade paper wrapped around the now expanded tenon, while holding the sanding paper stationary, I rotate the entire stem so that the sanding on the tenon moves toward a custom fit and is sanded uniformly.After some sanding, another test shows progress, BUT the tenon is never forced into the mortise which increases the dreaded shank cracking noise to be heard!Finally, the tenon is seated into the mortise and I examine the fit.  The truth is that the stem fitting is not good, and it appears that this was a factory issue or is it a replacement stem?  I don’t think so, but it looks like the drilling was off some so that the stem and shank facing are not perfectly flush.  The resulting gaps are easily seen in the pictures below. To address this issue, since the gapping is in the lower quadrant of the stem/shank facings, I fold a piece of 240 sanding paper and insert the now two-sided edge of the paper in the upper quadrant sandwiched between the stem and shank.  Sanding the folded paper like a hand saw – back and forth – has the effect of removing the material equally on both sides which has the hoped result of closing the gaps in the lower quadrant.This takes some time – ‘hand saw’ sanding and testing – to see very gradual progress.  Re-fitting a catawampus stem/tenon/shank junction is not easy in general, but when one is dealing with a diamond or squared shank, it’s much more difficult.  Why?  A rounded junction is much easier to blend the opposites coming together.  With the corners and edges of a diamond shank, it is much easier to see problems stand out.  The following pictures show progress, but perfection is not found in this life!The other thing that is troublesome with this junction is that the corners have been rounded or shouldered.  I noted this before and this picture brings attention to this.  The next two pictures show this as well as a lingering gap that my OCD tendencies will not ignore!To help remove the shouldering and hopefully provide more movement toward a better fitting, I bring out the stem topping board.  With a hole drilled in the board, I place 240 paper over the hole and force the tenon through the paper into the hole.  With the tenon inserted into the hole, I then rotate the stem carefully to sand down the stem facing – thus, removing the shouldered edge and creating a sharper facing – hopefully!After the topping, I cover some of the stem with masking tape and sand the junction with 240 then 600 grade paper to bring things into a tighter alignment removing the edges I can feel as I rub my finger over the junction.  I’m avoiding the lower left panel which holds the nomenclature.This sanding and the topping have worked very well.  Not perfection, but a much better union is evident.I continue sanding the junction with the addition of 000 grade steel wool avoiding the nomenclature panel altogether.  Satisfied, I move on!After putting the stem to the side, I turn to the stummel and take a closer look at the Bulldog’s scratched and nicked rim.  It’s not in terrible shape but shows signs of normal wear and tear.  I take it to the topping board for a light topping to refresh the Bulldog rim. I first turn the inverted stummel several rotations on 240 sanding paper placed on top of a chopping board.  This does well as a portable topping board.The topping progression is shown in the next few pictures as the scratches are removed and the rim lines re-established.  The first picture concludes the 240 topping and the second after changing to 600 grade paper. Moving now to the stummel surface, as with the rim, it shows scratches and nicks from general usage. To address these minor issues, using sanding sponges cleans the surface but are not too invasive.  I first use a coarse grade followed by medium and light grades.  The transformation is stark as the grain begins to emerge and I like what I see! From the sanding sponges, I transition to applying micromesh pads to the stummel.  Using pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  The grain is very nicely teased out through the process.Detour – After the first set of 3 pads which wetted the stummel.  I took a closer look at a fill on the upper right shank panel.  This is the most noticeable fill I’ve detected, and the fill has remained solid, but is lightened in contrast to the surrounding briar.  Before moving to the next set of micromesh pads, I darken the fill using a mahogany dye stick.  This does a good job of darkening the fill.  The continued sanding helps to blend the fill. Before moving on to the finishing phase, the dome grooves receive a cleaning using a sharp dental probe to remove packed briar dust and such.With the grooves cleaned of debris, I next apply Mark Hoover’s (www.ibpen.com) Restoration Balm to the stummel.  I like this product because it brings out the subtleties of the natural briar grain.  After putting some of the Balm on my finger, I apply it to the stummel surface and work it into the briar.  I then set it aside for 20 minutes or so allowing the Balm to do its magic.  I use a cloth dedicated to removing the excess Balm after it has set.  I then buff the stummel with a microfiber cloth.  Nice!  The picture shows the Balm on the surface doing its thing.The home stretch – after mounting a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel, setting the speed at about 40% full power, Blue Diamond compound is applied to the entire pipe – stem and stummel.  Following this, a felt cloth is used to buff removing compound dust from the surface in preparation for applying wax.  I run a dental probe around each of the dome grooves to remove caked compound.  After changing to another cotton cloth buffing wheel, carnauba wax is applied to the stem and stummel at the same speed as the compound. Finishing the restoration, a microfiber cloth works well to give a rigorous hand buffing to disperse any wax build up and to raise the shine.

The most daunting challenges in bringing this GEFAPIP 500 S Bent Bulldog back into service was the stem work – rebuilding the button and helping the tenon/mortise fitting.  The oxidation was stubborn as well.  In the end, it was worth the effort.  The classic Bulldog shape is to me a pipe with attitude.  This Bulldog, a product of St. Claude, France, is no exception.  The vertical grain encompassing most of the dome resolves on the underside of the bowl in bird’s eye grain and swirls very pleasing to the eye.  The stem’s quarter bend is nice for resting in the palm in a relaxed way for reflecting on life and family.  Seth, from Maryland, will have the first opportunity to claim this Bulldog from ThePipeSteward Store which benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria.  Thanks for joining me!

Refreshing an El – Iş Sculpted Sultan Meerschaum found in Denver


Blog by Dal Stanton

I acquired this beautiful Sculpted Sultan Meerschaum on a pipe picking expedition at the Homestead Antique Mall in Arvada, Colorado – a suburb of Denver, last year (2018) when my wife and I were in Denver celebrating Christmas with our family. The expedition was very fruitful with the acquisition of two exquisite pipes – a Gourd Calabash and the Sculpted Meerschaum now on my worktable. The Calabash is still in my inventory and is available to be commissioned!   I haven’t had the time to post pictures of it in the online collection, For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!  A picture of the fruit of that pipe picking day was taken on the counter at Homestead Antique Mall.One year later, Christmas of 2019, our daughter, Johanna, and her husband, Niko, came to Bulgaria to celebrate Christmas with us!  Niko and Johanna were Joined by our son, Josiah and his friend, Katie.  We’ve had a great time together and I’m thankful that they have been with us.  I fashioned Churchwardens for both Niko and Josiah and gave them as gifts for Christmas.  Here is first, Josiah’s then Niko’s Christmas Churchwardens – which turned out very well. When Niko came to Bulgaria, through our conversations he described his priorities for his growing pipe collection.  One was a Churchwarden – which Christmas gifting took care of.  The other was to add a Meerschaum to replace a cheap Meer that he had that disintegrated in his hand while using!  I showed him the Sculpted Sultan Meerschaum in my Pipe Steward inventory and he decided to commission it benefiting our work here in Bulgaria with the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited. I was glad to do this, but the challenge was to refresh the Meerschaum before Niko and Johanna leave on their return trip to Nashville, where they live.  Here are pictures of the El – Iş Sculpted Sultan now on my worktable. The detail of this sculpted Meerschaum is exquisite.  It bears a traditional face which is seen in the offerings of Meerschaum carvers in Turkey. I’ve visited Istanbul many times and am always amazed at the variety of Meerschaum pipes one can find.  When I found this Meerschaum in Arvada, Colorado, at the Homestead Antique Mall, it was with the original box.  This box gave the information that is often missing from unmarked Meerschaum pipes.  The name on the top of the box was ‘El – Iş’ Ferit Urersoy, 1, Kordon 1382 So – 2/B, Izmir.  I’ve had the opportunity to visit Izmir which is located south of Istanbul on the Aegean coast.  In the Bible it is the city of Smyrna made famous in the book of Revelation as the city of many poor and those who were suffering from tribulations.

Looking on the internet to find more information about the ‘El – Iş’ name and manufacturer.  Google Translate offers a rough translation of ‘El – Iş’ as ‘Hand Business’ or ‘Hand Made’.  Ferit Urersoy most likely is the carver or possibly company owner with the address of a shop in Izmir following.  Using Google Maps, I was unable to isolate anything with the address given, but I discover that ‘Kordon’ is given as a general name to the much of the costal section that runs along the city bordering the Aegean (see: Wikipedia – Kordon).  Even with this help, the address is not helpful in identifying a specific location in Izmir.  Doing simple searches of ‘El – Iş’ and ‘Ferit Urersoy’ render many Meerschaum pipes with the same identifying information, but no primary information pointing to the Turkish manufacturer whose name is on many Meerschaum pipes in circulation.

One very interesting piece of research that came up was a full-page description of the origins of Meerschaum and its care once a pipe. The name El – Iş is prominent throughout but unfortunately, it offers no additional information. (See link: https://www.sportscards.com/)I was about to give up on locating a shop in Izmir when I recalled the Wikipedia reference to Kordon provided the information of a region in the city of Izmir – Alsancak.  I entered this information into the Google search engine, and it resulted in a side bar link to Google Maps which I followed. What I didn’t see before was that many of the streets are labeled with numbers fitting the 4-digit pattern which identified the El – Iş reference to 1382 as a street number.  It took a little detective work, but I finally found street no. 1382 in the center of the Google Map pictured below with the yellow highlight.I employed Google Map street view and came to the end of my search.  I believe this is the block of buildings, on the beginning of street 1382 numbering where 2/B would be located (green highlighting in the picture above).  I cannot find a shop here in this section, but it is possible that it was here but now is long gone.  This is as far as this search will take me!With the elusive origins of this El – Iş Block Meerschaum Sculpted Sultan research finished for now, I look more closely at the pipe on my worktable.  The black acrylic stem has some minor tooth chatter on the upper and lower bit.The Meerschaum surface on the shank has some signs of wear with some scratching which should easily sand out.  The Meerschaum shows no signs of developing the coveted patina which usually first starts showing on the shank. This would indicate that the pipe has not been smoked a great deal.The chamber has some minor buildup of carbon – normal for a Meer.  Meerschaum, a soft stone, requires no carbon cake to protect the surface as with the briar chamber.  Meers are popular for this reason – they do not need to be broken in nor do they need to be rested between use.  Smoke a bowl, reload it and he’s ready to go!  I’ll remove the buildup bringing it down to the Meer surface.  The rim has minor darkening which should clean up. I see one other issue regarding the stem.  The screw in tenon has worn some and is over-clocked slightly.  I’ll see if I can back it up to have a straighter orientation.I start the sprucing up of the El – Iş Sculpted Sultan by cleaning the chamber.  I first scrape the chamber walls with the Savinelli Fitsall tool which produces very little.  I follow by sanding the chamber with 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen to clean the chamber further.  As the picture below shows, there was very little buildup in the chamber – this is good. I wipe the walls with a cotton cloth wetted with isopropyl 95% to clean it of the sanding powder.  The chamber looks good and I move on. The Meerschaum surface looks good.  To clean it I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap on a cotton pad to clean.  I also employ a bristled toothbrush to get into the crevasses of the sculpted detail of the face and especially the beard. I rinse the stummel with cool tap water. Next, I address the traumas on the left side of the shank.  They are not too noticeable but using micromesh pads to sand, should erase the blemish.I use the first and most abrasive micromesh pad, 1500, to sand out the marks.  I continue around the shank using the micromesh pad simply to clean up the shank.I also address some of the discoloration around the top of the chamber, though the reality is, it’s not really a problem and I’m not trying to remove the coloring fully. I finish by taking the shank and the top of the turban through all the 9 micromesh pads to clean and to smooth.Unlike briar pipes, Meerschaum does not use carnauba wax to finalize the finish.  The practice of using bees’ wax to shine the Meer is the standard practice.  A blog of Charles Lemon at Dad’s Pipes is in my file box to use as my guide for this procedure (See: Quick Clean-up of a Tulip Meerschaum Sitter – Dad’s Pipes).  I mentioned before how Meerschaum pipes change color as they are smoked, and this patina increases the value of the pipe.  Not only does bees’ wax shine the Meer but it also enhances the growth of the patina as one uses the pipe and the tobacco oils are absorbed into the Meerschaum.  I reattach the stem to the stummel but place a pipe cleaner between the stem and shank to tighten against.  This creates a gap so that wax does not get on the stem and the stem acts as my handle. I keep the congealed bees’ wax that has been used previously in a mason jar.  Using the hot air gun, the wax is reheated and liquefies. The stummel is also warmed with the air gun. Using a cotton bud, I paint the stummel with the liquefied bees’ wax and carefully work it into all the nooks and crannies of the Sultan’s carved face and beard.  When the bees’ wax is applied, the stummel is put on a cloth for it to cool.  The pictures show the bees’ wax application. With the stummel to the side, I remove the stem and refocus on the tooth chatter on the upper and lower bit.  Using 240 grade sanding paper I sand the bit area removing the small compressions.  Then I remember…!Well, as I started to sand, the nagging in my mind finally surfaced.  I had been so focused on the external surface of the Sultan, that I forgot to clean the internals of both the stummel and the stem….  So, after putting the sanding paper down, the stem’s airway is cleaned with a couple pipe cleaners wetted in isopropyl 95%.  I’m relieved that the stem cleaned very easily.  Unfortunately, the stummel’s internal cleaning might be a bit more difficult while attempting to protect the newly waxed finish!Returning to sanding the upper and lower bit, 240 grade paper dispatches the tooth chatter quickly.Following the 240 grade, I wet sand with 600 grade paper over the bit area alone – upper and lower.  Following the 600 grade sanding to erase the 240 scratches, applying 000 steel wool smooths the bit area further.Now, addressing the whole stem, wet sanding with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 is then followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads, Obsidian Oil is applied to the very nice looking black acrylic stem. Earlier, I took the following picture that shows the stem over clocked by a small amount.  This often happens with screw in tenons of all materials as the rubbing wears the mass away and the interlocking pressure lessens – producing a stem that screws in a bit too much.An easy way to address this is to apply an acrylic material to the threads of the acrylic tenon.  CA glue can serve this function, or as I use, clear acrylic fingernail polish does a good job.  Using the fine brush that comes with the bottle, the acrylic liquid is painted on the threads.  When cured, the mass of the threads is increased slightly which translates into the tenon tightening a bit sooner which hopefully corrects the orientation of the stem!  After applying the polish, the stem is set aside for the liquid to fully set.Going backwards a few steps in the process, I decide to leave the now cooled and congealed bees’ wax in place on the stummel while I clean the internals – which should have been earlier in the process!  Thankfully, as with the stem airway, the internals are cleaned with two cotton buds and one pipe cleaner!  Moving on.Now focusing on the cooled bees’ wax stummel, I use a clean cotton cloth to wipe off the excess bees’ wax which is not an easy task.  The congealed excess wax takes some firm wiping to be removed.  With most of the excess removed, a hardy hand buffing with a microfiber cloth finishes the removal of excess wax and the Meerschaum surface responds by shining up as well as absorbing the honey-colored bees’ wax which encourages the development of patina.  After buffing with a micromesh cloth, a new, clean, cotton cloth buffing wheel is mounted onto the Dremel to apply a final buffing to the Sultan sculpting.  With the Dremel’s speed set at about 60% full power, faster than usual, the added heating of the high speed buffing helps further to dissolve and work the bees’ wax into the Meerschaum.With the buffing complete, I rejoin the black acrylic stem with the Meerschaum stummel.  I had applied acrylic fingernail polish to the threads to tighten the grip and to correct the overclocking of the stem.As hoped, the stem tightens sooner and I’m able to leave the stem in a correct orientation.  I’ve already told Niko to be careful not to over-tighten the stem – which will result in overclocking!With the stem remounted, I load another cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel, setting the speed at 40% full power, and apply Blue Diamond compound to the stem.  After completing the application, I wipe the stem with a felt cloth to remove the compound dust from the stem before waxing.Next, another cotton cloth wheel is mounted, and carnauba wax is applied to the stem at the same speed.To complete the sprucing up of the El – Iş Sculpted Sultan Meerschaum, I give the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine.

I’m pleased with the results of refreshing this very detailed Sultan Meerschaum sculpting.  The black acrylic stem contrasts well the light Meerschaum stummel and causes the sculpting to pop.  The bees’ wax did a great job teasing out the coveted patina.  My son-in-law, Niko, commissioned this pipe which benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria.  It’s already packed in his bags along with the Churchwarden he found under the Christmas tree here in Bulgaria!  Thanks for joining me!

Fashioning a Second Churchwarden, “Made in England” for a Special Christmas Gift


Blog by Dal Stanton

I completed the first Christmas CW project by repurposing an Italian Permofilter rusticated bowl and mounting it on a Warden stem.  It is to be a gift for my son, Josiah, who came to Bulgaria from St. Louis to celebrate Christmas in Sofia, Bulgaria, with Mom and Dad!  Josiah’s Churchwarden came out well!Our daughter, Johanna, also has come to Bulgaria for Christmas.  She and her husband, Niko, arrived first and so my work fashioning a CW as a Christmas gift for Niko is a bit clandestine trying to keep it a secret until Christmas Day!  Niko hasn’t been easy to figure out for a pipe gift!  I was first going to give him a sculpted Meerschaum because I knew he had one before – a cheaper one that disintegrated in his hand while smoking it.  Yet, after he arrived, he saw that I was working on a Churchwarden for ‘someone’ who had commissioned one (actually, it was Josiah’s Churchwarden that I had commissioned myself!) and he wanted a Churchwarden, which was also on his priority list to add to his collection.  When I fished around regarding which he would rather have – trying not to spill the beans that I was gifting him a pipe, he said that a Churchwarden was higher on the list.  So, the Sculpted Meerschaum goes back into the inventory benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria – our work helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited!The bowl I’m repurposing is from an unbranded petite bent Billiard that is marked only with the nomenclature, ‘Made in England’ on the left shank side and a shape number on the right, ‘950’.  I acquired this pipe in the ‘Lot of 66’ and it has been waiting for someone to commission him in the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection. It is an attractive pipe and the grain shows much potential.  I did a quick search of the main shape number charts of English pipe names such as BBB and GBD but found no reference to a shape 950 that helped me with identifying the origins of this pipe.Now with the stummel on the worktable to transform it into a Churchwarden, I take more pictures to take a closer look.  The chamber has light to moderate cake build up and the lava flow over the rim is thick.  The rim width is also imbalanced with a thinning of the rim on the front left.  Undoubtedly, the point where the former steward drew down the flame to light the blend.The rim also has its share of nicks, cuts and chips.  The stummel also has several dents and pits here and there which need addressing.  As expected, the grime is thick on the darkened stummel.  Yet, the grain underneath shows great potential. The grain is primarily vertically oriented around the stummel. The stummel has the feel of having some age.  By the shape and looks of it, I would guess that it is from the 1960s or earlier.  The plan is to transform the petite bent Billiard into a Churchwarden by mounting it to a precast Warden stem that measures 8 5/8 inches in length.  I acquire Warden stems from Tim West at www.jhlowe.comI begin this CW Christmas project for Niko with the cleaning of the stummel.  First, after spreading paper towel to aid in cleaning, I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit to address the cake build up in the chamber.  I again take a close-up picture of the chamber showing the light cake build up to mark the start.  I use only the smallest of the 4 blade heads available in the Pipnet Kit.  Transitioning to the Savinelli Fitsall Tool, I scrape the chamber walls further and follow by sanding the chamber wall with 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  The left-over carbon dust is then removed with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% and after an inspection of the walls, I find no problems with heating. Moving now to the cleaning of the external surface, the surface is scrubbed using a cotton pad wetted with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap.A brass wire brush is also helpful in scrubbing the rim top addressing the lava caked on it.  I also utilize my Winchester pocketknife to scrape the rim.  To rinse the soap, the stummel is transferred to the kitchen sink where the stummel is rinsed with warm water.  Using different sized shank brushes with anti-oil dish soap, the mortise and airway are cleaned. Finally, after rinsing and back at the worktable, a picture records the results of the cleaning.  The old worn finish is all but gone revealing the briar beneath. The scratches and imperfections are very evident mingling with the distinctive grain patterns. Next, using cotton buds and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95%, cleaning the internals is addressed. As the picture below shows in stark visual imagery, the internals were a bear to clean!  Using a small dental spoon, I also excavate a lot of tars and oils scraped off the mortise walls.  From what I am able to see and feel down the mortise with the probe, the internal design has a trap and the angled airway is drilled over the top of the trap angling toward the draft hole entering the chamber.  The trap has done the job of collecting the gunk, but the steward did not seem to know that frequent cleaning of the trap would keep this guy in better shape!  Finally, after many expended pipe cleaners and buds, they began to emerge lighter. Later, the internal cleaning will continue with an alcohol and kosher salt soak further to clean and refresh the internals.Now looking at the stummel, I know that the shank will be undergoing a good amount of sanding to shape the shank during the stem fitting process.  Therefore, the restoration work that I now do on the stummel external surface will not progress beyond the shank sanding at this point.  I start at the top looking at the rim’s condition.  It’s in bad shape with nicks and chips around the rim’s edge and the scorching damage resulting in the thinning on the left front quadrant.  I use the topping board to begin addressing these issues. With 240 paper on top of the chopping board that serves as the topping board, I rotate the inverted stummel several times on the board. After a few rotations, I stop to look. With this first picture, the contours of the rim thinning are clearer.  I continue to rotate on the topping board.These next pictures show the progression of the topping a step at a time. I stop with the 240 topping even though edge damage remains.  I will rectify this with beveling instead of removing more rim real estate.  I switch the paper to 600 grade and smooth the rim top further with this finer grade sanding paper.  After several rotations on the board, I’m satisfied with the topping board results.  Nice looking bird’s eye grains are peeking through the rim surface.Addressing the edge problems, 120 grade paper is used first to cut an outer edge bevel to remove the remaining cuts and chips on the edge.  Following the 120 paper 240 grade paper is used to smooth out the bevel.Again to freshen the rim lines after the beveling, I do a very quick topping again with 240 and 600 grade paper.I finish the rim repair by sanding the bevel on the outside and inside rim edges with 600 grade paper.  It looks good.  I move on.Continuing now to address the stummel proper, I will do what I can to spare the remnant nomenclature on the shank sides as I sand out the problems on the stummel.  I use sanding sponges to address the cuts and dents on the stummel surface.  First, using a coarse sponge to sand, I follow with a medium grade and a light grade sponge.  Wow!  This block of briar is impressive with vertical flame grain running around the bowl and as you would expect, bird’s eye grain populating both the heel and rim.  Very nice.  I’ve progressed all I can now with the stummel until the stem sizing and placement is completed.  The first step in this process is to size and fit the Warden precast stem’s tenon into the mortise.  As with the first Churchwarden gift project for my son, Josiah, Niko’s Churchwarden Made in England bowl’s mortise is measured to establish the ideal target measurement for the tenon.  This measurement is 8.61mm. 40mm is added to this ‘target size’ to establish the ‘fat size’ target.  This is a conservative sizing of the rough tenon in order to patiently and more slowly sand the tenon to the target size.  This allows for customizing the tenon as well as avoiding the danger of cutting too much with the Pimo Tenon Turning Tool.  The ‘fat size’ is right at 9mm.Next, to establish a starting measurement sizing of the rough tenon of the precast Warden stem, the PIMO tool is used. To do this, the first step is to drill the airway with a drill bit provided by the PIMO kit to allow the PIMO tool’s guide pin to fit the airway. After mounting the drill bit on the hand drill, the airway is easily enlarged with the bit.  Next, after mounting the PIMO tool on the hand drill, using the Allen wrenches provided by the PIMO kit, I adjust the carbide cutter arm to be just a bit smaller than the rough tenon size.  This is simply to cut a uniform starting measurement size. I accomplish the initial cut and take a measurement of 9.46.  The difference between this measurement and the fat target of 9mm is .46mm. Again, I adjust the carbide cutter arm to close this gap.  After adjusting, I do a test cut by only cutting a little of the tenon and then measure.    The reason for doing the initial test cut is that if you over cut and the tenon is too small… well, you have a very loose fit!  My test cut was too much – 7.63mm! The target size, actual mortise measurement is 8.61mm.    After widening the cutting arm, I make another test cut and measure – 8.93mm.  This is good enough for achieving the fat target. I complete the tenon cut at 8.93mm.  I take the cut all the way to the stem facing – making sure that there is a square cut and no shouldering on the stem facing.Transitioning now to sanding, I first use a coarse 120 grade paper to do the heavy lifting.  As I sand, I test periodically to see the progress of the tenon’s entry movement into the mortise.  I grip the paper around the tenon and then with my other hand rotate the stem to create the sanding movement.  This keeps the tenon round as well. The pictures show the progress. When the tenon is close to fitting, I switch to 240 grade paper.  The stem finally seats into the mortise.When I eyeballed the shank size and the stem next to it, I knew that the shank was a bit larger than the stem and I would need to sand the shank some to taper the shank toward the stem size.  When the stem was seated, I saw how much of an overhang there was – it’s not a little.This angle however, revealed another issue that I did not foresee. On the lower shank, just below the stem is the hollow caused by the angled drilling of the airway.  I take a close-up of this cavity and then remove the stem to show the inverted mortise and drilling. Oh my. This creates some challenges. As if to add insult to injury, I discover another issue.  The tenon has a slight rock or wiggle when it’s fully engaged.  What this means is that the front of the tenon was sanded down too much and is not in contact with the mortise wall.  The tenon closer to the stem facing is making contact.  When I pivot the stem vertically, it rocks a little.  Not good. I decide to address the lose tenon first and think about the rest. To expand the tenon, I use a drill bit to insert into the airway.  I choose a drill bit which is the next size larger than what will fit into the airway.  I then use a Bic lighter to heat the tenon to warm the vulcanite.  When the vulcanite is warm enough, it softens and then I push the bit in the airway which expands the tenon.  After heating and inserting the bit, I take it to the kitchen sink and run cold water on the tenon to set the expanded vulcanite.  With the aid of a pair of pliers, the bit is retracted and again the tenon is inserted into the mortise.  The procedure worked well – the tenon tightened and there is now no rocking.  Moving on. After giving some thought to the conundrum of the shank and Warden stem placement, I recognize that I will not be able to save the bowl’s scant nomenclature.  To taper the shank in a balanced way, will require the sanding to start further up the shank.  I also decide that I will fill the drilling channel with briar dust putty to remove the hollow and make this area solid.  Finally, I decide to fit the shank with a band to mask the hollow as well as to give the emerging Churchwarden an added bit of class. First, to fill the drilling channel, I mix a small amount of briar dust and thick CA glue.  I use a plastic disk as a mixing pallet and to help with cleanup I put scotch tape down to mix on.  After putting a small amount of briar dust on the pallet, thick CA glue is placed next to it.  Using a toothpick, the briar dust is pulled into the CA glue and is mixed with the toothpick.  When the mixture thickens, I use the toothpick to trowel the putty into the drilling channel in the mortise.  I then set the stummel aside allowing the putty to cure through the night – lights out!The next morning, the putty has cured, and I go to work filing the fill to match the curvature of the mortise. A half-circle tapered needle file does the job well. The next pictures show the patch material now filling the hollow of the airway drilling and as well the necessary sanding to remove the excess overhang of the shank facing over the stem. To begin the sanding to remove the excess over the stem facing and to taper the shank, a coarse 120 grade paper makes the work more efficient.  The sanding includes the entire shank to provide a more gradual tapering toward the stem.  Without this, a ‘stuffed pants’ appearance is left.  The stem remains engaged in the mortise throughout the sanding process.After a good bit of sanding, the alignment is looking good.  As usual, on the sides where the precast stem seams are, the sanding is more directed.  The pictures show the alignment at this point using 120 grade paper alone.  The tapering of the shank looks good. I mark the upper side of the stem with a piece of scotch tape so that I later refit the stem with the correct orientation.  The next thing I want to see it how a band or shank cap will work.  Some months ago, the word went out about a pipe man on French eBay selling bags with a variety of copper rings, bands, caps, and spacers at a very decent price.  I don’t know who started the rumor – Steve, Paresh, Victor?, but several of us were able to order a supply for our work desks. The package containing the supply had a card, Pipe Estate at www.pipes-estate.com.  I have been waiting for an opportunity to utilize this addition to my inventory.After dumping the multitude of copper fitments on my worktable, it was fun taking a closer look at all the available sizes and shapes.  But the question always is, will there be one in all these that will work??As if I were holding the Holy Grail, I found a few that looked hopeful, but one was perfect.  A copper shank cap that fit the shank perfectly and reaches over the end of the shank to provide a spacer.  Perfect!Remounting the stem, I oohed and awed at the beauty and wonder of this addition to the creation of this Churchwarden going to Niko for Christmas!  There was a sacrifice in having to sand away the ‘Made in England’ marking on the shank which bums me out in a huge way, but I’m pleased with the shank tapering and the contribution of the copper shank cap to the ensemble. The rest of the Warden stem is awaiting sanding, but for the time, I continue sanding to smooth and finish the stummel.  Following the coarse 120 paper that did the main work on the tapering, 240 and 600 grade papers continue the process of smoothing the shank surface. Next, I put the stummel aside and continue sanding the remainder of the Warden stem with 120 sanding paper. I also use a flat needle file to shape the raw, precast button. Following the filing and 120 grade paper, 240 grade continues the smoothing process by erasing the scratches left behind by the coarser filing and sanding. Following the 240 paper, wet sanding with 600 grade paper erases the scratches of the 240 sanding and then applying 000 grade steel wool completes this phase of the sanding process.  One picture of the entire stem is taken followed by closeups of the upper and lower bit. The full regiment of micromesh pads is applied next by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400 then dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads, Obsidian Oil is applied to vitalize the vulcanite stem.  Again, I take one picture of the entire stem from the orbital shot and two closeups of the upper and lower bit after the final 3 micromesh pads.With the micromesh process completed, it is time to bend the Warden stem.  I like to draw a template of a bend so that I’m not simply eyeballing the process.  The general goal is to have the mouthpiece of the Warden stem on a parallel trajectory with the plane of the rim.  On the diagram below, I draw a horizontal line representing the plane of the rim.  I also rough sketch the current disposition of the unbent stem.  Then I rough in a bend starting about 1/3 the distance from the shank and complete the sketch parallel with the rim plane.  This is the guide template.The hot air gun focuses on the area about 1/3 up the stem for the first bend attempt.  I bend the fat part of the stem first to have a more even and sweeping bend as it takes longer for the fat part to become supple than the thin part.  As the stem is rotated over the hot air, gentle pressure is applied and when the stem starts to bend, I know it’s reaching the state of shaping.  As the bottom third becomes supple, I move the heating up the stem a bit now to warm the middle.  All the while rotating back and forth and around.After the stem heats enough using the hot air gun, I place the pipe on the template and hold it in place until it holds its position.  I’ve found that even though it takes longer this way, I’ve lost the shape I want if I transition the pipe to the kitchen to run the stem under cool water to quicken the cooling.  The first attempt is good.  There’s a nice flowing bend but the final trajectory is a little wide.The second attempt is very close to what I want, but it’s still a hair wide.One more time heating does the trick.  This time I take the stem to the sink and run it under cool water to cool the vulcanite and hold the bend that has been created.With the Warden stem completed until the final polishing phases, I turn again to the stummel.  Using the full regiment of micromesh pads, with pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand, followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  The bowl’s grain emerges through the process and I like what I’m seeing.  The bowl is fully wrapped with a vertical flame grain with bird’s eye grain populating the heel and rim – as you would expect being the cross-view perspective of the flame grain. With the hour growing late, I continue the internal cleaning and refreshing process using a kosher salt and alcohol soak. The first step is to fashion a ‘wick’ from pulling and stretching a cotton ball.  The wick serves to draw tars and oils out from the mortise cavity. Using a stiff wire, the wick is guided down the mortise. Then the bowl is filled with kosher salt which doesn’t leave an aftertaste as the iodized version.  The stummel is then placed in an egg carton for stability.Using a large eyedropper, isopropyl 95% fills the bowl until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes the alcohol is absorbed, and I top off the alcohol one more time and set the stummel aside to soak through the night.The next morning, the soiling of the salt and wick evidences the processes active through the night.  The tars and oils were drawn from the internal briar surface.  I toss the expended salt and wipe the bowl with a paper towel.  I also blow through the mortise to loosen and remove any remaining salt crystals.To make sure all is cleaned, one cotton bud and one pipe cleaner dipped in isopropyl 95% were all that was needed to verify the results of the internal cleaning – cleaned!  I move on.Next, using Before & After Restoration Balm, the external briar is freshened and enlivened.  Mark Hoover’s Restoration Balm (www.ibepen.com) works very well to bring out the natural hues and to deepen them.  I place some of the Balm on my fingers and work it into the briar surface.  Afterwards, I place it the stummel aside for about 20 minutes to allow the Balm to do its thing.  Then the excess Balm is wiped/buffed off with a micromesh cloth.  The results are as hoped – a beautiful piece of briar is now more beautiful. Before moving on to the fine polishing and waxing phase, the copper shank cap/band needs to be attached to the shank. I test fit the cap over the shank and insert the stem.  The fit still looks good.  Next, with great caution, I place a drop of thick CA glue on the end of a toothpick and this apply the glue to the inside of the ring/cap.  Using the end of the toothpick, I run the glue around the entire underside and then slip it over the shank and press it into place.  I do this without excess glue seeping out from around the edges – relief!  I do not reengage the stem for a few minutes to allow the CA glue to cure – I don’t risk getting glue on the stem! On the home stretch!  With a cotton cloth buffing wheel mounted to the Dremel with the speed set at about 40% full power, I apply Blue Diamond compound to the stem and stummel avoiding the copper band.  When completed, I use a felt cloth to buff the pipe to remove compound dust before applying the wax.  Next, changing to another cotton cloth buffing wheel maintaining the same speed, carnauba wax is applied as well to the stem and stummel followed by a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine.

Wow!  The grain on this stummel catches the eye with the flame grain circling the bowl.  This bowl works well as a Churchwarden.  The size is perfect, and the shank pitch puts the long flowing Warden stem at a nice trajectory.  The addition of the copper band/shank cap is classy and works very well to transition the bowl and the stem.  I believe my son-in-law, Niko, will enjoy this Churchwarden which will be wrapped and waiting for him under the tree!  Thanks for joining me!

Fashioning a Churchwarden as a Christmas Gift for my Son


Blog by Dal Stanton

One of the advantages of having ‘The Pipe Steward’ in the immediate family is that there’s a very good probability that his gifting patterns might reflect one of his favorite pastimes – restoring pipes!  Over the years, it has given me great joy to gift my loved ones – sons and daughters(!), with pipes that I’ve restored.  There are at least two reasons for this.  First, they receive a beautiful pipe which has been given the TLC that brings it again to a pristine condition – often better than new!  They can enjoy the composite beauty of its shape, grain formations and hues.  Additionally, understanding a pipe’s story through the research and write-up that accompanies each recommissioned pipe adds to the overall appreciation for the pipe.  The pipe itself is the first part of a growing legacy.  Secondly, the fact that the gift has passed through the care and attention of my hands, restoring the pipe’s condition, adds my personal part to the pipe’s legacy.  The ‘Giver’s’ story is added to the pipe and is then associated with the pipe by the loved one that that receives the pipe, becoming its new steward.

My son, Josiah, is coming from St. Louis to join his mother and I for Christmas here in Bulgaria.  He joins his sister, Johanna and her husband, Niko, who have come to Sofia from Nashville.  Both Josiah and Johanna, our two youngest, lived here with us when they were teens.  So, they are coming ‘home’ for Christmas and this is special for them and for us.  Two additional things add to the specialness of this Christmas reunion.  First, Josiah is bringing with him a young lady for mom and dad to meet!  They met in college and have cultivated a relationship.  She’ll be coming to meet his parents….no pressure!  Secondly, Johanna and Niko are also bringing a special gift – we just found out that they are expecting their first little one to add to our growing number of grandchildren!  Gifts are special during Christmas and they come in different ways.  The greatest gift is the reason we celebrate Christmas – God’s gift of his Son, Christ, given to a dying and broken world to bring the gift of life.

For this Christmas, a Churchwarden will be fashioned for Josiah.  I enjoy repurposing forgotten bowls to give them new life by simply mounting them to a long, flowing Warden stem.  The uniqueness of the Churchwarden is that it is not primarily the style of bowl that makes it a Churchwarden, but the length and style of the stem.  From Bill Burney’s description in Pipedia we discover this information.I found two bowls in my box that held CW potential.  A petite ‘Made in England’ Bent Billiard with the shape number 950 on the shank.  No other markings.  It’s a classic petite English pipe which is attractive by itself, but so far, no one has shown interest in adopting him from the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’ online collection where pipe men and women commission pipes for restoration benefitting our work here in Bulgaria with women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited – the Daughters of Bulgaria (Incidentally, if you go to this link you will see our daughter, Johanna, a few years ago painting a picture depicting our work with the Daughters).  I believe this bowl will serve as a gift for my son-in-law, Niko – next in queue.  The other bowl is a rusticated bowl with the sloppy stamping not fitting the smooth panel on the shank’s left flank.  Here are the candidates.As I evaluated the two, I decided on the rusticated bowl for my son, that is rustic and will give the newly fashioned CW an ‘Ole World’ feel.  I take a closer look at the ‘Rustic’s’ nomenclature.  The sloppy stamping shows ‘ERMOFILTER’ – with ‘’ER” running over onto the metal stem facing and stem, [over] ‘ORTED BRIAR’ (with the ‘IAR’ running over!) [over] ‘ITALY’, the COM.  Undoubtedly, the stamping’s aim was to reveal the name, ‘Thermofilter’ which is not found in Pipedia but Pipephil.eu has this panel of information with a ‘?’ indicating the COM.  The Thermofilter on my work desk adds Italy as the country of origin.I acquired this pipe while in the US a few years back at Madeline’s Antique Store in Manchester, Tennessee, just off Interstate 24.  It was a quick stop as we were traveling through and saw the billboard and decided to stop.  It was a very fruitful detour as I found a Dunhill in the wild and purchased it for a pittance.  In the picture below, the Dunhill (see link for this restoration: Another Wedding Trip Pick: A 1961 DUNHILL EK Shell Briar Made in England 1 4S) is visible (3rd from the bottom) and reminded me that this was on the trip when Johanna and Niko were married!  The Thermofilter is barely visible on the right edge in the pipe stand.I take some pictures of the rusticated bowl to get a closer look and to mark the start. The bowl is a perfect size for a Churchwarden, which tend to be on the diminutive side.  The half bend will provide a great sweeping trajectory for the Warden stem.  The rusticated surface is dirty and needs a thorough cleaning of the crevasses. I’m attracted to the deep burgundy red finish of the briar.  It should clean up very nicely.  To begin the project, an inspection of the chamber reveals almost no cake at all, if any.  I go directly to the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to scrape the sides and then sand the chamber using 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  To clean the chamber of debris, I wipe it with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.After cleaning the chamber, an inspection reveals no problems with heating cracks or fissures.  Yet, I discover something strange.  On opposite sides of the chamber wall I discover stampings of numbers and perhaps some letters.  I’ve never seen this before and I decide to send a note to Steve to find out if his rebornpipes experience would lend any help. Steve’s response to my inquiry was brief:

Nope never seen that. I have seen small numbers in the bottom of the bowl. Maybe heated like a branding iron. What is the nomenclature?

With no resolution to this mystery, I move on to cleaning the external surface. I clean the rusticated surface with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap.  A cotton pad starts the process, but I transition to a bristled toothbrush quickly to clean in the craggy cuts of the rusticated surface.   From the worktable scrubbing, I transfer the stummel to the kitchen sink where I continue to rinse the stummel with warm water and clean the internals using long shank brushes.  With warm water, I add anti-oil dish liquid soap and scrub using the shank brushes.  After rinsing again, returning to the worktable I take the following picture of the cleaned stummel.  I notice that the finish is partially removed from the smooth briar panel holding the nomenclature.To complete the removal of the finish on the panel, I wet a cotton pad with isopropyl 95% and rub the smooth briar panel as well as the smooth briar ring circling the shank end.  This will provide a distinct contrast later during the finishing stage. What I also notice from the soiled cotton pad is that the finish color appears to be an Oxblood hue.     Moving now to cleaning the internals in earnest with cotton buds and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95%, I find that the mortise is clean!  This doesn’t happen often and I’m thankful for the shortened work!I now transition to fashioning the Churchwarden stem.  The first step is to fashion the oversized tenon of the precast Warden stem.  Using the electronic caliper – which was one of the best additions to my tool chest! – I take a measurement of the mortise diameter which is 7.86mm.  This represents the eventual sizing diameter of the tenon after sanding it down to size.The next step is to cut a starting test cut on the tenon using another great addition to my tool chest – the PIMO Tenon Turning Tool that I acquired from Vermont Freehand (https://vermontfreehand.com/).  I keep the directions on the wall in front of me for easy reference!  Before using the tool, the PIMO kit provides a drill bit to pre-drill the airway of the precast stem to fit the Tool’s guide pin.  After mounting the bit on the hand drill, I drill the airway.  Next, I mount the stem onto the PIMO tool which has replaced the drill bit on the hand drill.  Opening the carbon cutting arm to just a bit smaller than the diameter of the raw tenon, I make an initial cut of the tenon for measurement purposes.  The sizing is 9.79mm.  This is the starting point for sizing down the tenon.  Generally, it’s not a good idea to cut the tenon with the PIMO tool aiming for an exact finished target size (7.86) because of the danger of taking off too much.  It is also true that each fitting tends to be different.  So, the approach is to come to the target sizing in a more patient, conservative pace.  I add about .40 mm to the target size of 7.86 which identifies what I call the ‘fat’ target to aim for with the PIMO tool then transitioning to sanding by hand.  Adding .40mm to 7.86 results in a fat target of about 8.26mm.  This means I need to remove additionally about 1.50mm (9.79 minus 8.26) with the PIMO tool.Using the Allen wrenches to adjust the carbide cutting arm to a tighter cut, I first cut a test and measure.  I want to make sure I’m not over cutting before traversing the entire length of the tenon. And I’m glad that I did the test cut!  The test cut measured 6.72 – smaller than the target size!  The second test cut measures at 8.10mm – falling between the fat target and the target size – I go with it.  I cut the entire tenon as well as cutting into the stem facing just a bit to make sure that the edge is squared and not shouldered from the original precast stem.The cut is ideal.  The tenon is still larger than the mortise so that sanding now will ease into the fit and make it more customized.It doesn’t take too long with sanding for the mortise fully to receive the newly shaped tenon.  A coarse, 120 grade paper is used initially to do the heavy lifting then 240 follows to fine tune.  The fit is good.There is no perfect union and this picture shows the shank facing extending a bit beyond the stem facing.I wrap the shank with masking tape to provide some protection to the rusticated finish as I sand to bring the shank facing and stem into alignment.  As before, focusing on the fitting first, I start with coarse 120 and follow with 240 to sand the junction.    When the junction transitions smoothly from the shank to the stem, I transition to the stem proper.  The picture below shows the casting seam down the side of the stem.  This seam as well as the ripples that are always present in a precast stem are sanded out.After some effort, and a lot of rubber dust(!), the ripples and seams are sanded with coarse 120 grade paper.  These pictures are not easy to see detail, but if ripples remained, they would be evident with the different hues on the stem.Next, I work on the bit and button shaping.  You can see the rough condition of the button and the vulcanite excess on the slot.  The darkening of the vulcanite forming a ‘V’ in the middle of the bit shows how the surface of the precast stem dips as it flares out to the stem edge. This will be filed out and the button shaped using a flat needle file.   The following two pictures show the progress of filing.  To remove the valley dip of the surface, I file down the outside valley ridges that are higher.  At the same time, the filing sharpens the button lip.  The first picture shows the initial lateral filing to bring the bit surface into a more level state.The next picture shows the leveled bit surface after the outer quadrants have been rounded and shaped toward the stem edges.The final filing for the lower bit completed.The slot is rough.  After filing the excess vulcanite to level the slot facing, I see a small divot in the inner edge of the slot which I didn’t picture!  A round pointed needle file fits nicely into the slot allowing uniform filing of the inner slot edges – upper and lower.  With the heavy-duty sanding and filing completed. I use 240 paper to fine tune the bit and button shaping.  At this point, the button perimeter is sanded.I follow the fine tune sanding of the button by sanding the entire stem with 240 grade paper.The next picture was to remind me to remark about how nasty working in rubber dust is!  It, without question, is the least desirable part of fashioning new Churchwardens!  This Bulgarian designed work cloth will be going into the soak tonight!The Warden stem is transitioned to the kitchen sink where 600 grade paper is employed to wet sand the entire stem. During the entire sanding process, the stem and stummel remain joined so that the sanding creates a perfectly uniform union with stem and shank. Before transitioning to the micromesh phase, I file the end of the tenon where excess and rough vulcanite persists.  Using the flat needle file, it is dispatched quickly.The question in my mind is whether to bend the stem now or go directly into the micromesh phase.  By leaving it unbent at this point makes continued sanding easier, and this is what I do. Using 1500 to 2400 grade micromesh pads I wet sand the stem followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads I apply Obsidian Oil to condition the vulcanite.  I only show one picture of this process instead of the usual 3 because capturing the detail with the long stem is not possible. I do, however, take close-ups of the upper and lower bit. The next step is to bend the Churchwarden stem.  The goal is to bend the stem so that the end of the stem, the bit, is on a parallel trajectory with the plane of the rim of the stummel.  I sketch a template to help visualize and compare.I use a hot air gun to heat the vulcanite.  I continually rotate and move the stem over the hot air to avoid scorching the stem and to heat more evenly a section of the stem.  To begin, I focus the bend more toward the middle of the stem, where the stem is thicker.  If I heat the entire stem at once the thinner portion at the end of the stem will heat and bend first creating a sharper angle – which I am trying to avoid.  A sweeping bend is what I like best.As the stem is heated, gentle pressure is applied so I know when it becomes supple enough to start bending.  The first step focusing on the middle bend is below.  After I bend it, I hold it in place until I run it under cold water in the kitchen sink to hold the bend.  As expected, the trajectory of the end of the stem is still a little high.  The next step of heating I avoid the middle of the stem and heat the section about 3/4 up the stem – the thinner section.  After heating and bending more, again I take the stem to the sink to cool the stem with water to hold the angle.  The template shows that I’m in the sweet spot.  Notice I inserted a pipe cleaner in the end of the stem to be on the safe side – guarding the integrity of the airway as it bends.  It looks good and I move on. Next, the stummel awaits attention.  After removing the freshly bent CW stem and putting it to the side, I take a fresh look at the rusticated stummel that, to me, resembles craggy tree bark.  I like it! Before addressing the stummel, I first run the smooth briar nomenclature panel and ring around the end of the shank though the full battery of micromesh pads, 1500 to 12000. I like the craggy/smooth contrast.My aim with the stummel is to refresh the hue, which appears to be a subtle Oxblood.  Using Fiebing’s Oxblood aniline dye, I will apply it like I usually do – painting and flaming with a lit candle.  Then, during the following ‘unwrapping’ stage, I will not use Tripoli compound as I usually do.  The reason for this is that the compound will get caught in the crags and that would not be fun to remove.  I think the felt buffing wheel on the Dremel will be enough by itself to effectively unwrap and abrasively buff to remove excess crusty flamed dye.  Creating more contrast in the craggy landscape of the rusticated surface and the smooth peaks of the rustication is the aim.  At least this is my hope!  I assemble my desktop staining kit.  After wiping the stummel with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean it, I warm the stummel over the hot air gun to expand the pores in the briar to help it be more receptive to the dye.  Then, using a bent over pipe cleaner, I apply the Oxblood dye in sections and flame the wet dye with a lit candle.  The alcohol in the dye combusts with the flame and sets the dye in the briar surface. After working through the entire stummel painting and flaming, I set the stummel aside to rest for several hours allowing the dye to set.Later, with a cotton cloth wheel mounted onto the Dremel and the speed set to 40% full power, I apply Tripoli compound only to the smooth briar nomenclature panel and ring around the shank end.Next, I mount a felt cloth buffing wheel onto the Dremel, setting the speed to the slowest possible, and go over the entire surface working the edges of the buffing wheel in the valleys and ridges of the rusticated surface.  The slower speed is to avoid over heating – I don’t want to start a fire with the coarser buffing wheel!I also concentrate on the upper peaks of the ridges that present very small smooth briar surfaces that are buffed.I like the contrasting effect of this process – the changing hues of the Oxblood from valleys to peaks with the smooth briar and rough briar – nice.Not pictured is mounting another cotton cloth buffing wheel onto the Dremel, setting the speed at 40%, and applying Blue Diamond compound only to the smooth briar nomenclature panel and ring around the end of the shank and to the Warden stem remounted to the stummel.  Finally, with another cotton cloth buffing wheel mounted onto the Dremel, set at the same speed, I apply carnauba wax to the entire pipe – stem and stummel. Over the rusticated surface, I increase the speed of the Dremel to about 60% full power to create more heat to dissolve the wax in the rusticated landscape.  This helps in keeping the wax from caking in the rough surface. I finish the newly formed Churchwarden by hand buffing with a micromesh cloth and brushing the stummel with a horsehair brush to raise the shine.

The Oxblood coloring of this rusticated bowl came out exceptionally well. My eyes are drawn to the contrasting of the flecks of smooth reddish briar populating the rusticated landscape.  The rustic feel of the bowl is enhanced by the ring of Oxblood smooth briar transitioning from the rough bowl to the long, black Warden stem.  The Oxblood shank ring contrasting with the stem simply pops.  Of course, the long, sweeping bend of the stem is why every pipe man or woman wants at least one Churchwarden in their collection.  This Churchwarden is heading under the Christmas tree here in Bulgaria as a gift for my son. My joy is completed knowing that in the future, when he pulls it out and fills it with his favorite blend and settles in to have some moments of reflection that he will reflect on this special Christmas in Bulgaria!  Thanks for joining me!  Merry Christmas!

Making the Best of Beautiful Pipe with an Unbelievably Rough Patch of Briar – A Giant Gold Crown Bent Billiard


Blog by Dal Stanton

The story begins when I first laid my eyes on this pipe.  It was when the box containing the ‘French Lot of 50’ arrived here in Sofia, Bulgaria, from Paris, and oh my – talk about excitement!  I was alerted to this online Lot by Romanian pipe man friend, Codruț (aka: Piper O’Beard), who had previously become the steward of an L. J. Peretti Oom Paul I had restored. I carefully and slowly unwrapped each pipe, relishing each moment. I had seen the pipes in a pile displayed by the seller on France’s eBay.  Interestingly, when I unwrapped the ‘Gold Crown Giant Bent Billiard’ now on my worktable, I went back and looked at the eBay ‘pile’ picture with the question, how could I have missed this?  I was attracted to this French Lot because of the many horn stems and several very uniquely shaped pipes – the Cutty on the top had my attention!  Yet, the Gold Crown was not visible.After unpacking and cataloging all the pipes from France, each was pictured and put online in the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’ collection where hopeful stewards search for a pipe that speaks their name.  After all, as in Harry Potter’s wand lore, the pipe chooses the steward, not the other way around! Now, pipe man and friend, Cyrus, enters the story when he saw this pipe online in ‘Pipe Dreamers!’ collection.  He and his wife became good friends when they served here in Bulgaria with US Peace Corp for a few years.  After returning to the US, their family grew, and we stayed in touch.  Cyrus was no stranger to ‘Pipe Dreamers!’ having already commissioned and received a very nice Jarl Dublin (See: Refreshing a Jarl 1545 Made in Denmark Dublin) which benefited our work here in Bulgaria with the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited. His return to Dreamers found him drawn to the Crown Giant Billiard.  Here are pictures of the Giant Bent Billiard: The only markings on this pipe are on the gold band and the ‘tenon ring’.  I have to be honest with full confession – when I first saw this pipe, I was excited about it thinking it might have some historical value.  When it had first come out of the box, I hadn’t taken a good look at it.  When I looked at it again, it was not long after restoring another pipe from this French Lot of 50 which was a treasure.  The writeup was: Discovering the History with the Reclamation of this Petite EPC Majestic Bent Horn Stem Billiard, where my researched uncovered a long-forgotten French pipe manufacturer which resulted in my first submission to Pipedia: A. Pandevant & Roy Co..  The problem, which I have since come to realize more fully, is that one of the trademarks of this French company that disappeared in the late 1930s, based near Paris, was a trademark with the stamp ‘EP’.  The difficulty with this is that it is also now a mark stamped on metals and it simply signifies, ‘Electro Plated’.  When I pulled the acrylic stem out of the mortise and discovered the ‘tenon ring’ with ‘EP’ on it, the novelty of a ‘tenon ring’ and the ‘EP’ stamp with some sort of hallmarks created question – could this be something in line with the Petite EPC?  The gold band was stamped with a crown and a very miniscule stamped letter that I couldn’t make out for certain: GG or GP?  Probably ‘GP’ for gold plated. With questions in my mind about the ‘tenon ring’ and the ‘EP’, I sent my questions off to Steve, Master of Restoration, of rebornpipes.com and not too long after received his replies.

Dal: A strange but interesting huge Bent acrylic stem Billiard with no shank nomenclature and doesn’t appear to ever have been smoked appears to have a gold-plated band.  There are stampings on it – a crown and a very small stamp beneath.  My guess is GG or GP – but it’s so small I can’t be sure.  Then, there is a solo stamp on the opposite side of the band that appears to be the same GG or GP.  Of course, GP could signify Gold Plated.  But perhaps that’s what I want to see!  That’s the band – thoughts?

Steve: I have had gold plated bands on older Weber’s that looked the same. I concur that the GP stamp is gold plated.

 Dal: Then, on the same pipe, I was surprised that when I retracted the ample acrylic stem out of the stummel, there was a band around the tenon!  Have you ever seen anything like this?  The alignment or fit of the stem and shank isn’t great and this band is serving to expand the fit of the tenon in the mortise.  The band also has stampings which I’m assuming are faux of some sort, but the tenon band I’m assuming is an aluminum – it’s light.  I first thought it might be silver, but whoever puts anything of value around a tenon?  Thoughts?

 Steve: I have never seen this before and I can see nothing but problems with this so-called solution. The EP stamp means it is electro plated. Could be silver but looks to like nickel and definitely an aftermarket repair. It is a nice-looking pipe though.  

 It’s so much fun unpacking the package of pipes, one at a time, each one wrapped with newspaper…. Christmas over and over!

Dal

After Cyrus commissioned this pipe and it was getting closer to the worktable, I took a closer look at the pipe trying to figure out its story. The bowl is huge and quite attractive. I weigh the pipe and it comes in at a hefty, 84g. It has never been smoked. The acrylic stem is pristine but needs to be cleaned and receive a fine-tuning regarding sanding and buffing.  The pictures below show ripples where the finishing was not completed or not thorough.The chamber is virgin briar.  The rim shows some roughness – like it wasn’t finished off as well.The craftmanship is not superior. Looking down the mortise, the airway drilling isn’t straight.  Is veers off to the left so that the draft hole’s entry point is not centered, but off to the left a bit. The tenon with the ring, as Steve said, is an attempt to perfect the fit, but after taking the tenon out, I’m not able to put it back in the mortise!  The stem fit from the earlier pictures shows that it’s not good – there is a large gap on the upper side of the shank.  I pry the tenon ring off with a little effort with a pocketknife and try the fit in the mortise without the ring.  The fit is very loose – too loose for use. Carefully I rotate the gold band off the shank with no problem.  It caps the shank with a shank face overhang.  I again insert the stem to see what it looks like. The sizing of the stem is in the ballpark.Then, there’s the mysterious crop of pits and ravines on the left side of the Giant’s bowl – what’s the deal with this?  It’s not a crack or trauma but it appears to be very rough briar that emerged during the fashioning of the stummel from a block of briar – a block of briar that obviously showed great potential for the one crafting this Giant Bent Billiard.  The severity of the briar below is in such contrast to the beauty of the briar on the rest of the pipe!  Such beauty and also such despair!  So much like life….  I’m giving some thought to how to approach this. My theory is that someone, probably in France, crafted this pipe.  The block of briar is beautiful, but the shaping of the stummel revealed the imperfections – but too many to fill, but the crafter went with it anyway hoping for a good ending, attaching an attractive acrylic stem and gold band.  Yet, at the end of the day, no one wanted this pipe with the scarring it bears.  It just seems to me that the crafter of this pipe gave up on it and the fine finishing of the pipe was not worth the effort.  I’m not sure the many grain faults that are in this briar patch can be removed or repaired so that there are no lingering scars, but the beauty of the rest of the pipe can offset the imperfections and scarring – off set, probably not erase fully! It reminds me of the Daughters we work with here in Bulgaria – beautiful but also broken and of great worth and worth the effort.

I decide to address the stem fitting first.  As I looked at the fitting, the tenon ring and stem wobbling in the mortise, my first thought is to expand the acrylic tenon like a vulcanite stem.  This method is to heat the tenon by painting it with the open flame of a Bic lighter and then inserting a slightly larger drill bit end into the softened tenon resulting in some expansion. Two questions come to mind – I’m not sure if acrylic will act like vulcanite – a rubber compound.  Will it expand the same way?  I’m not sure.  The second question is, if it does expand, I’m not sure it will expand enough to de-wobble the current situation?  After puzzling more, the solution came to me after reflecting on shank repairs that both Steve has done as well as Charles Lemon of Dad’s Pipes of utilizing inserts in the airways to connect broken shanks.  The solution was staring me in the face.  The nickel band that was acting as a poor ring for the tenon, could very well serve quite nicely as an insert in the mortise.  It is already sized for the tenon correctly.  I wondered if that was the original intent of the ring, but the crafter never got around to finishing? To test my theory, I slide the ring – now an insert – partially into the mortise, and partially insert the tenon.  I believe this will work nicely. To make the insert permanent, I use BSI Maxi-Cure Extra Thick CA glue.  I place some CA on the inside lip of the mortise then spread it around the circumference using a toothpick.  I then insert the nickel ring and press it down firmly on the table top surface pushing the insert into the mortise. The end of the nickel ring is flush with the shank facing.The insert seats as hoped, but what the picture shows is the pressure of the insert creates a small crack on the shank on the upper left side.  The good news is 3-fold.  First, the crack is very small.  Secondly, the insert on the inside will not expand any further and so the crack should not have additional pressure on it.  Lastly, the gold band on the outside will help fully cover the crack cosmetically and provide additional external pressure to support the shank. To address the crack, I first drill a counter hole to keep the crack from expanding. First, using a sharp dental probe, I press a hole at the end of the crack to serve as a guide for the drill. Next, after mounting a 1mm drill bit on the Dremel, I drill a hole at the end of the crack keeping my hand as steady as possible! The counter-creep hole is good.With the drill bit still mounted in the Dremel, I decide also to drill counter creep holes at the ends of the two most distinct ravines in the rough briar grain patch topography.  While these ravines are not cracks in the sense of a trauma related problems, treating these as cracks to guard against the ravines expanding is a good thing to do it seems. I’ve numbered them below.To prepare for drilling the counter-creep holes, I place guide holes as before using the sharp dental probe.Then I drill holes at the end of each ravine.  No problems.The ravines are deep – surprisingly so!  I double check in the chamber to make sure there are no corresponding ravines!  I see none – it looks good. I make sure the crevasses are cleared of loose stuff that may have collected.  I use a dental probe to clean what I can.  I pick at the smaller grain faults as well. I finish the cleaning by wiping the ravine area and the shank crack with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.At this point I would usually mix a batch of briar dust putty with dust and thick CA glue.  Instead, I use only regular, thin CA glue on the shank since it will be covered by the band. With the ravines and the grain faults I’ll use regular thin CA glue and sprinkle them with Briar dust building the patches in steps.  Using the thinner CA glue will allow penetration into the deeper parts of the crevasses forming a more sure foundation.  The pictures show the progress. The night is late, I set the stummel aside for the patches to cure through the night.The next morning, what’s on my mind is seeing how the stem will react to the mortise insert.  The glue will be fully cured and with the insert firmly in place, I give the stem a try.  The fit tightens with the tenon inserted about halfway into the mortise. Not wishing to force the issue, I begin sanding the fat part of the tenon down first using 240 grade sanding paper.  When the progress seemed to be stymied, I then resorted to using a flat needle file to help.After several re-tries and additional filing and sanding, the stem seated in the new insert.  It looks good.  There still seems to be a slightly larger gapping on the top, but I will wait until remounting the gold band to make a final assessment on the stem fitting.With flat needle file in hand, filing begins on the bowl patches. Since this entire area is rife with pits and crevasses, I’m not too concerned about using the needle file down to the briar surface.  Usually, I transition to 240 sanding paper when the patch is close to the briar surface using the file, but with all the sanding that will be required for this project, I use the file for sake of speed.After the filing, I finish the first round of sanding with 240 grade paper.  All the light areas in the area indicate that the briar is not smooth and that pitting remains.  The briar dust created by the sanding packs in the holes which helps to show progress, or lack!Beginning the second round of patching, I again use the probe to excavate the compacted briar dust and then I wipe the area with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean.I repeat the patching process with the same, regular thin CA glue and sprinkle the patches with briar dust.In the interest of full disclosure and brevity of describing the same process repeatedly, I repeated the patching process as described above about three more time and made slow progress eradicating the pitting.  I found though, that some of the pits would resist holding the CA glue fill.  After filling with CA glue, curing and sanding, the pit would remain.  I started testing different approaches – I used CA glue, then kneaded the patch with a toothpick to release possible air pockets hindering the glue from filling and holding the crevasses.  I also utilize an accelerator before and after applying CA.The solution that I found that seemed to work the best was not using the regular, thinner CA glue but switching to an extra-thick CA glue in combination with an accelerator.  In the picture below, on this pass of patching (I’ve lost count), I’ve painted a patch of very small grain faults with the thick CA using a toothpick to spread. After using the accelerator and allowing it a few minutes to cure, I go to work on the patch with the file.  I did this method several times to fill in the grain faults as much as I could.At the end of the day, perfection is not achievable.  Yet, the lion’s share of faults have been filled and hugely minimized but some scarring remains.  After finishing the patching and filing, I go over the area with 240 grade paper followed by 600 grade paper. I think that the area is much better, and the finishing process will continue to blend and mask the rough briar patch – I hope!  I move on – finally 😊.Moving now to the top, the rim has some rough spots which are easily dispatched with the topping board.  I first place a sheet of 240 grade paper on the chopping board, my topping board.  I rotate the inverted stummel on it several times, checking as I go.  I then switch to 600 grade paper.  The rim is looking good.  Moving on. Next, using sanding sponges I continue the sanding of the stummel.  I use a coarse sponge, followed by a medium grade then finish with a light grade.  Wow, comparing the two side in the pictures below, ugh!Moving straight away to the micromesh pad regimen, with pads 1500 to 2400 wet sanding is then followed with dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Wow!  What a piece of briar!  Other than the area where the grains were pitted, the grain is absolutely striking on this goliath. Without doubt, if not for the rough patch of briar – that has been helped immensely, I would be applying Before & After Restoration Balm now and moving to the finer polishing processes.  But with the rough briar patch, applying a darker dye will assist in masking the many patches.  I decide to mix Fiebing’s Saddle Tan and Dark Brown – about 2 to 1 ratio.  I want a darker brown hue but with the reddish hints that the Saddle Tan will brings.  After ‘unwrapping’ the initial coat, I may decide to do a straight Saddle Tan overcoat. I assemble my desktop dyeing module.  After mixing the dyes to the ratio I described using the large eye dropper, a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% is used to clean the stummel.  The end of a spring-loaded clothes pin inserted into the mortise serves as a handle. The stummel is warmed using a hot air gun to expand the briar grain helping it to be more receptive to the dye. After heated, using a folded over pipe cleaner, the dye is painted onto the stummel in swatches and then, using a lit candle, the wet dye is ‘flamed’.  The aniline dye’s alcohol base combusts and leaves the hue behind in the briar grain.  After methodically covering the entire stummel with dye and firing as I go, I then set the stummel on a cork in the candle holder to let it rest through the night.With the dyed stummel now on the sideline, I turn to the attractive acrylic stem.  As I mentioned earlier, the stem is essentially unused, but it doesn’t appear to be in a pristine state.  The finishing left ripples and some rough spots on the stem.  I take a few pictures to illustrate what I’m seeing.To address these issues, I sand the entire stem using 240 grade paper then follow by wet sanding with 600 grade paper and finish this phase by applying 000 grade steel wool.  I like the results!  The acrylic surface has cleaned up nicely. Moving on now to the full regimen of micromesh pads, starting by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400 and dry sanding with 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000. I apply Obsidian Oil to the stem after each set of three pads. This stem is spectacular!  The shine and that acrylic translucence is eye catching.  The stem will wait till the morning for the stummel to be ready to go. The next morning has arrived and I’m looking forward to ‘unwrapping’ the dyed stummel to see how the finish came out and how well it has helped mask the rough briar patch.  I mount a felt cloth buffing wheel onto the Dremel, reduce the speed to the lowest possible and apply Tripoli compound to the bowl.  The speed is reduced to decrease the friction and heat generated.I’ve developed this technique that works very well for me.  The following pictures show the process of removing the flamed crust to reveal the grain beneath. It takes patience to move over the surface and spotting the places where dye is still thick.  Usually it looks like a dark spot on the surface.  When I apply additional rotations with the Tripoli on these areas the excess dye is removed revealing the different grain compositions – the softer wood absorbs the dye while the harder wood doesn’t – these are the lighter grains.After unwrapping the stummel, I wipe the surface with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  I do this to blend the new dye as well as to lighten the hue.  Lightening the hue a bit softens the finish.Next, after mounting a cotton cloth wheel and adjusting the speed of the Dremel to about 40% full power, I apply Blue Diamond to both the stummel and the rejoined stem.  Yes, I am not replacing the gold band until the end of the process.After completing the compounds, I buff/wipe the pipe with a felt cloth to remove the compound dust in preparation for the wax.  Not pictured is mounting another wheel, maintaining the speed, and applying carnauba wax to the pipe.I have two remaining mini projects before the final hand buffing.  First, to remount the gold-plated band.  I first clean the band using Tarn-X tarnish remover.  It restores a very nice shine to the metal. The band fits over the shank easily about 70% of the way, but to be on the safe side, I use the hard surface cushioned by a few cotton pads to press the band fully on the shank.  The band fit easily the rest of the way with a gentle push.With the band fully seated on the shank, I test fit the stem with disappointing results.  In the picture below the gap at the top is huge. With the band easily moving on the shank, I partially retract the band off the shank and then reengage the stem so that the stem pushes the band over the shank.  With the band pressed with the stem tenon facing, its orientation is now much more favorably aligned with the stem with the gap minimized.  This looks much better as the second picture shows.The next step is to apply some CA glue to the inside of the band and repeat the same process of reseating the band using the stem itself. Using BSI Maxi-Cure Extra Thick CA glue, I place a large drop of glue on the inside of the band and then use a toothpick to spread the glue around the circumference of the inner wall of the band.  Then, after slipping the band carefully over the end of the shank, I press the stem forward over the shank keeping the facing of the stem squarely on the band to avoid the gapping.  When the band starts to gap, I know I’m far enough.  I retract the band slightly with the stem firmly seated and essentially no gap present.  Not wanting to get CA glue on the tenon, I remove the stem and set the stummel in an egg crate to allow the glue to cure.  The results look good!While the CA glue is curing, I move to the final project.  In order to provide the virgin briar in the chamber a good foundation to build a protective cake and for aesthetics, I mix a batch of natural yogurt and activated charcoal.  This mixture is applied to the chamber wall and it hardens to provide a layer over the briar. A pipe cleaner is inserted into the airway to guard the draft hole from being blocked.  When I inserted the pipe cleaner, what I remarked about earlier regarding the off-center drilling of the air way was illustrated graphically by the angle of the pipe cleaner!  These pictures show what I’m seeing.I place a small amount of natural yogurt in a small dish and add activated charcoal to it and mix until it thickens enough not to drip off the spoon.  With a pipe nail as a trowel, I scoop the mixture into the chamber and spread it on the chamber wall with the back side of the nail. When the wall is totally covered, I set the stummel aside allowing the mixture to dry and harden.  My day has come to an end and the lights are turned off. The next morning, the gold band is solidly in place and the yogurt/charcoal coating is dry and hard.  After reattaching the stem, I give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing to raise the shine.

I’m pleased with how far this unmarked, gold band Giant Billiard has come.  The rough briar patch on the side of the bowl was a mess and took a lot of time to provide the healing that I see.  Yet, there remains some pitting from the briar faults.  The dark stain does a great job helping to mask the imperfections.  Yet, as with life, this pipe will carry with it some of the scars of its past.  However, the briar grain on this bowl is beautiful and it is huge!  I’m very pleased with the striking difference the darker brown finish provides – it changes the disposition of the entire pipe presentation.  There is now, I believe, a more striking contrast with the gold band which transition into the stem with all the same tones of color.  I like it.  Reseating the acrylic stem with the insert works well and the Crown Gold Giant Bent Billiard will sit very well in the palm of its new steward.  Cyrus saw the potential of this Giant and commissioned it.  He will have the first opportunity to claim it from The Pipe Steward Store.  Thanks for joining me!

 

Rejuvenating a Fancy French Butz Choquin Camargue 1683 Prince


Blog by Dal Stanton

The Butz Choquin Camargue came to me via an antique store in St. Louis, Missouri.  Last December, my son Josiah, who was studying there, and now currently works there, came upon this lot for sale in an antique store.  He did the right thing – he called…, rather, he texted his father in Bulgaria with pictures asking the question, ‘What do you think, Dad?’  We didn’t think too long about the purchase and split the cost for the St. Louis Lot of 26.  Why did we split?  The jumbo French Champion Church Warden in the center of the picture below was to be my Christmas gift from Josiah and so he paid that part of this very nice trove of pipes he found!  Many of the pipes of the St. Louis Lot of 26 are still available in ‘For “Pipe Dreamer” Only!’ online collection.  Pipe men and women can peruse the online ‘Help Me!’ baskets and commission an unrestored vintage pipe.  Of course, this benefits our work here with the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited. One pipe man, Alex, who is from our neighbor to the north, Russia, saw and commissioned the BC as well as a Harvey Rusticated Dublin, which was first in line to be restored (See: Recommissioning a Mysterious Harvey London Paris New York Meerschaum Lined Rusticated Dublin).Next, the Butz Choquin Camargue is on the worktable. I take some additional pictures. Stamped on the left shank flank is the fancy lettering, ‘Butz-Choquin’ [over] ‘Camargue’.  The acrylic shank extension houses an inlaid rondel, with ‘BC’ in silver lettering.  The right side is stamped, ‘St. Claude’(arched) [over] FRANCE [over] 1683, which I assume is the shape number.  I’ve worked on several Butz Choquin pipes which is based in the French pipe center of St. Claude.  Here is a brief overview of the BC history from Pipephil.eu:

The origin of the brand reaches back to 1858 when Jean-Baptiste Choquin in collaboration with his son-in-law Gustave Butz created their first pipe in Metz (France). Since 1951 Butz-Choquin Site officiel Butz Choquin, pipes de Saint-Claude Jura. BC pipe de bruyere luxe is a brand of the Berrod-Regad group (Saint-Claude, France).

Jean Paul Berrod managed the company from 1969 to 2002 when he retired and sold the corporate to Mr Fabien Gichon. Denis Blanc, allready owner of EWA, took over the S.A. Berrod-Regad in 2006.

The BC line, ‘Camargue’ is not an old line as a simple search on the internet turns up several examples of classic pipe shapes with the ‘Camargue’ stamp, but unique to each is the acrylic shank extension and the military mounted stem.  This example is a Dublin shape from Smokingpipes.com:I saw no other examples of what I’m calling a ‘Fancy Prince’ on my worktable – the BC shape number 1683.  The name of the line, ‘Camargue,’ I discovered is a treasured nature reserve on the southern coast of France between Montpellier and Marseille – two beautiful venues which I’ve had the opportunity to visit. A Wiki article was very helpful in describing the area that this BC line is commemorating (Pictures are from the same article):

With an area of over 930 km2 (360 sq mi), the Camargue is western Europe’s largest river delta. It is a vast plain comprising large brine lagoons or étangs, cut off from the sea by sandbars and encircled by reed-covered marshes. These are in turn surrounded by a large cultivated area.

Approximately a third of the Camargue is either lakes or marshland. The central area around the shoreline of the Étang de Vaccarès has been protected as a regional park since 1927, in recognition of its great importance as a haven for wild birds. In 2008, it was incorporated into the larger Parc naturel régional de Camargue.

The Camargue is home to more than 400 species of birds and has been identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International.[8] Its brine ponds provide one of the few European habitats for the greater flamingo. The marshes are also a prime habitat for many species of insects, notably (and notoriously) some of the most ferocious mosquitos to be found anywhere in France. Camargue horses (Camarguais) roam the extensive marshlands, along with Camargue cattle (see below).

The native flora of the Camargue have adapted to the saline conditions. Sea lavender and glasswort flourish, along with tamarisks and reeds.

Without doubt, a place my wife would love to visit!With a better understanding of the pipe on my worktable, I take a closer look at the obstacles of restoring this Fancy BC Camargue of St. Claude.  The chamber has some thick carbon cake which needs to be removed for the briar to have a fresh start.  The rim has thick lava flow which also will be addressed.  The Prince stummel surface is dirty from normal wear and the smooth briar surface has small fills that need to be checked out as well as some rough places.  The acrylic shank extension is nice and will shine up very well.  The Fish Tail Military Mount stem shows significant oxidation as well as tooth chatter and bites, especially on the lower bit.

To begin the recommissioning of the BC Camargue, I first clean the stem with a pipe cleaner wetted by isopropyl 95% and then add it to a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer along with other pipes and stems in the queue. After a few hours in the soak, I remove and drain the BC stem of the Deoxidizer fluid and then wipe it down with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to remove the raised oxidation, which is a lot!  I also run another pipe cleaner dipped in alcohol through the airway of the stem to clear it of B&A Deoxidizer.To begin the revitalization of the vulcanite stem, I give it a coat of paraffin oil with a cotton pad and put it aside to absorb.Turning now to the stummel, after putting paper towel down to ease the cleanup, I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit to begin the process of removing carbon cake from the chamber to give the briar a fresh start and to inspect the chamber wall for heating damage. I take a picture of the chamber to mark the start. I use three of the four blade heads in the Pipnet Reaming Kit – this chamber is broader than I expected.  Next, I transition to scraping the chamber using the Savinelli Fitsall tool and find that the lava flow on the rim is flaking off with the tool.  I finish by sanding the chamber with 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen to give leverage. After cleaning the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%, I inspect the chamber and there are no indications of heating problems. It looks great. I move on.Transitioning now to the external surface, I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and cotton pads to clean.  After scrubbing with Murphy’s, I transition the stummel to the sink to continue scrubbing the internals using anti-oil dish washing liquid and shank brushes to scrub with warm to hot water.  After scrubbing, the bowl is rinsed thoroughly and returns to the worktable. The internal cleaning continues using cotton buds and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95%. A small dental spatula is used to scrape tars and oils off the mortise walls.  Excavating the gunk saves a lot of time by bringing out large amounts at a time.  In time, the buds and pipe cleaners start emerging lighter and the cleaning is done for now.  Later, a kosher salt and alcohol soak will continue the internal cleaning and refreshing.With the internals cleaning completed until later, a closer look at the BC Camargue Prince stummel is next.  The grain of the bowl is very expressive – very nice bird’s eye as well, but there are also some issues.The rim cleaned up well and it sports a sharp internal bevel which needs refreshing.  Darker briar on the aft of the rim remains after the cleaning – the section where the former steward lit his favorite blend.The right side of the bowl is pitted with old fills which have lightened and stand out and have shrunk so that the surface is not smooth.One fill, somewhat larger, is on the face of the bowl – situated very nicely between the converging flows of grain which was probably the reason for the pit in the briar bole.  I’m impressed with the grain – it will spruce up very nicely.The right side of the bowl has some rough, skin marks – probably from a hard surface. The night is growing late, and I would like to do two things before turning out the lights: renew the fills in the briar surface and a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  I begin the first project by using a sharp dental probe carefully to remove the old fill from the pits. What is handy about using ‘real’ dental probes is that they are not just sharp on the ends, but they also have very small spurs that allow a simple twist of the instrument to grab and pull material out of the pits.  I clean the large set of pits on the side of the bowl as well as the one on the front. Using briar dust putty to replace the old fills, I first prepare the working pallet.  I use a plastic disk that came off a cosmetics cream container belonging to my wife.  I put scotch tape down on this surface only to quicken the cleanup after making the putty.After cleaning the pitted areas of the bowl with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean the area, a small pile of briar dust is placed on the taped pallet. Then a small amount of BSI Maxi-Cure Extra Thick CA glue is placed next to the mound of briar dust.Using a toothpick as a mixer and a trowel, briar dust is pulled into the CA glue and is mixed.  As the dust is pulled into the mixture, it starts thickening.  The picture below shows the mixture in the early stages – still too thin, giving me time to take the picture.  If it takes too long to apply the putty it will harden in an instant. Or, if too much briar dust is introduced into the CA glue and thickens too quickly, it will harden immediately.  This has happened to me a few times – when it hardens, the chemical reaction sends up smoke! When the putty begins to reach the viscosity of molasses, the putty is troweled onto the pits with the toothpick.  With the pits being so small and close, I cover all of them with two larger globs which when cured will be sanded down. The front pit is also filled with briar dust putty. After a quick clean up, the putty has had enough time to set up (I’ll let the patches cure through the night) and I am able to handle the stummel with no problems.  Next, I transition to the second project before lights out – a kosher salt and alcohol soak to continue the internal cleaning and refreshing.  A ‘mortise wick’ is fashioned by stretching and twisting a cotton ball. The wick helps to draw the oils out of the internal briar cavity.  Then, using a stiff wire (a piece of wire from a clothes hanger) I guide and push the wick through the mortise close to the draft hole. The bowl is then filled with kosher salt. Kosher salt is used because it doesn’t leave an aftertaste and freshens the internals for the new steward.  The stummel is placed in an egg carton for stability and to situate the stummel so that the top of the bowl and the end of the shank are roughly level.  This allows the alcohol fully to saturate the wick. Then, using a large eyedropper, isopropyl 95% is added to the chamber until alcohol fills and surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes, the liquid is absorbed, and a little more alcohol is added to top it off.  The stummel is set aside to soak through the night.  Both projects completed – lights out!The next morning, the salt and wick show the signs of soiling as tars and oils are absorbed.  After dumping the expended salt in the waste and wiping the bowl with a paper towel to remove salt crystals, I also blow forcefully through the mortise to clear any remaining crystals. To make sure all is clean, a few cotton buds and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% are expended to clean up any residual oils.  All looks good.The briar dust patches on the stummel surface have cured and I use a flat needle file to file each down close to the briar surface.  I stay on top of the patches with the file as much as possible to avoid collateral impact on the briar. After filing, 240 sanding paper is employed to bring the patches down to briar level. Following the 240 grade paper, dry sanding with 600 grade paper serves to smooth the patch area out more by removing the scratches of the 240 sanding. Next, the rim.  The rim is darkened from lighting practices but is not damaged.  There are also minuscule nicks on the outer rim edge. I use 240 grade paper to clean up the internal bevel of the rim.Next, the stummel visits the topping board with 240 grade paper on top. The topping will refresh the lines of the rim and help restore a crisp bevel transition.  The topping is for cosmetic purposes but will also help to remove the nicks on the edges.  I invert the stummel and give it a few rotations on the board.  Not much is needed.After the sanding paper is transitioned to 600 grade paper, I give the stummel several more rotations as well as hand sand the bevel.  The results are good.  The lines have been restored and the cross-cut briar grain is coming through nicely.From working on the rim, sanding sponges are used to address the nicks and cuts on the briar surface.  Sponge sanding is not as invasive as regular sanding paper and it will help blend the sanded patch areas.  I start with a coarse sponge, then medium and finish with a light grade sponge.  The sponges are also used on the acrylic shank extension which helps to shine it up quite nicely!After the sanding sponges, to again refresh the lines of the rim, I take the stummel back to the topping board for a few rotations on 600 grade paper.  Nice.After the topping board, a small imperfection on the rim gets my attention.  It is not major but enough for a small detour.To address the problem, I spot drop clear CA glue on the small pit.  It does not take long for the CA glue to set up and I carefully sand the excess patch with 240 grade paper.  Then another trip for the stummel to the topping board with 600 grade paper to finish the repair. On a roll, and anxious to coax the grain out on the BC Prince stummel, the full regimen of micromesh pads is used.  As with the sanding sponges, micromesh pads are used on the acrylic shank extension. Using pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  I’m liking what I’m seeing. Wow – I love the pop on this bowl with the acrylic extension contrasted.  To improve on what is already a good situation, to bring out the subtle hues of the grain more, Before & After Restoration Balm is applied to the stummel. Placing a small amount on my finger, the Balm is worked into the briar surface.  It starts off with a crème-like texture but then thickens as it is applied to the briar.  I set the stummel aside while the Balm does its thing.  In about 20 minutes, the excess Balm is wiped off and I also buff up the surface.  The pictures show the 20-minute absorbing period and after buffing. With stummel to the side, I now turn to the waiting stem.  The upper bit has a few minor bite marks but the lower is more significant. I first apply the heating method with the use of a Bic lighter.  With the lighter, I paint the bit with flame thus heating and expanding the rubber compound, vulcanite.  The physics involved encourages the rubber to reclaim it’s original disposition or at least lessen the damage.  After painting with the Bic lighter, the upper bit looks good and can be finished with simple sanding, but the lower bit needs additional help.  Before and after pictures show the results. I use Black Medium-Thick CA glue to repair the tooth compressions on the lower bit.  After cleaning the area with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol, I spot drop the CA on the needed area and utilize an accelerator to quicken the curing process. The cured patch has collapsed which is normal.  I believe the fill is sufficiently covered.First, using the flat needle file, excess patch material is removed and the button is freshened.Following the file, I use 240 grade paper on the lower bit repair and expand the sanding to remove residual oxidation and nicks to the entire upper and lower fishtail stem surface. Following the 240 sanding, using 600 grade paper I wet sand the entire stem and follow this using 000 grade steel wool.A close up of the lower bit repair shows the results of the work.  The patch is barely visible if you know its there, but for the most part, it will be invisible.Moving straight on to the micromesh phase, I wet sand using pads 1500 to 2400 and dry sand with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of three pads I give the fishtail stem an application of Obsidian Oil to continue the rejuvenation of the vulcanite.  I love the pop of newly sanded vulcanite! On the home stretch – after rejoining stem and stummel and mounting a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel setting the speed at 40% full power, Blue Diamond compound is applied to the entire pipe. Compound is also applied to the acrylic shank extension and it really pops!After using a felt cloth to wipe off residual compound dust, I change the Dremel’s cotton cloth buffing wheel to one dedicated to applying carnauba wax.  Maintaining the same speed, I apply a few coats of wax to the entire pipe and finish by giving the pipe a rigorous hand buffing to raise the shine.I called this Butz Choquin Camargue a ‘Fancy’ Prince shape and truly he is fancy.  Wow – the grain generally moves in a horizontal fashion around the bowl and tightens as it moves downwardly to the heel.  Large swoops of bird’s eye grain also punctuate the landscape.  Adding to the ‘Fancy’ is the acrylic shank extension with the embedded BC rondel transitioning to the gentle bend of the fishtail stem which splays outwardly.  Alex commissioned this French BC Camargue Fancy Prince of St. Claude and will have the first opportunity to claim him from The Pipe Steward Store benefitting the Daughters of Bulgaria.  Thanks for joining me!

Recommissioning a Mysterious Harvey London Paris New York Meerschaum Lined Rusticated Dublin


Blog by Dal Stanton

Where I acquired this Harvey rusticated Dublin is not a mystery.  The Bulgarian coastal city of Burgas, on the main walking street near the beach, I found the Dublin in the ‘wild’ along with 4 other pipes I acquired.  One of my favorite things to do is to go ‘pipe picking’ wherever in the world my path takes me.  My wife and I were on the Black Sea Coast for our annual summer R&R and one day, we peeled ourselves away from the beach and strolled the favorite center-city walking street where a second-hand shop of antiques became the venue of this pipe picking expedition.

The pipes were easily found waiting for me in a copper pot.  After it was all done, negotiations were favorable and along with the Harvey Dublin, I brought home with me an Oldo Bruyere Billiard, Butz Choquin Supermate 1596 Panel, Lincoln London Made Real Sandblasted Billiard and a Lindbergh Select 324 Poker.  The BC and Lindbergh Poker have both been recommissioned and have benefited our work here in Bulgaria with the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited. The Oldo and Lincoln are still waiting in the online, ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” ONLY!’ collection for a steward to see them and commission them!Alex, a pipe man from Bulgaria’s neighbor to the north, Russia, saw and commissioned the Harvey along with a fancy French Butz Choquin Camargue 1683 Prince pictured below.On the worktable first is the Harvey.  Here are pictures giving a closer look. Located on the underside of the shank a smooth briar relief holds the nomenclature.  Stamped is, HARVEY [over] LONDON PARIS NEW YORK [over] GARANTIERT BRUYERE [over] MEERSCHAUM-MASSA.  The provenance of this pipe is a mystery.  The nomenclature’s use of language would clearly lean European CONTINENT of origin.  It’s an interesting mixture of languages with the German, GARANTIERT BRUYERE (Genuine Briar) which is not a precise help to mark its COM as Germany as this marking of pipes is used generally in several European countries that produce pipes.  Also interesting is the ‘MASSA’ connected with Meerschaum (German for ‘Sea Foam’), is rendered from Google Translate as ‘Pulp’ having a Swedish designation by Google.  None of these language ‘clues’ is a conclusive indicator of the COM, but what I believe can be concluded is a European origin – but where in Europe?My research showed some potential indicators, but again, nothing conclusive.  A quick look in my treasured copy of Herb Wilczak and Tom Colwell’s ‘Who Made That Pipe?’ had entries that skipped Harvey’s hoped for place of entry – Harvard…Harvic.  The normal first stops for research for me are Pipephil.eu (showing no listing for ‘Harvey’) and Pipedia.  Pipedia dangled clues but nothing gained traction.  First, John Harvey is listed as, “John Redman’s owner and manager, Philip Redman employed a pipe-maker named John Harvey. John was in charge of production at Whitecross Street up into the late 1980s. This could be a brand or line of pipes that he produced.”  John Redman is synonymous with John Redman Ltd. and British Empire Pipe Co. a London based pipe manufacturer with many lines: Other lines include Aristocrat, Buckingham, Buckingham Palace, Canberra, Captain Fortune, Dr John, Golden Square, Redonian, Richmond (not Sasieni), Twin Bore.  Could the possible line of pipes have been produced with John Harvey’s family name on it?  I go back to Pipephil.eu and repeat a search adding ‘John’ to Harvey and the result is the same – nothing.  Possible?  Perhaps.

Pipedia also unearthed an ‘Italian connection’ with the ‘Harvey’ name.  In the extensive article on the History of Italian Caminetto pipes, Harvey is mentioned two times in passing amidst the iterations of Guiseppe Ascorti, Carlo Scotti of Ascorti, started in 1959 and came apart in the 70s and 80s.  Harvey is mentioned as a resource in understanding the various lines of a series called ‘Prestige’.  In the same article, it is stated of the possibility that a ‘Harvey Greif’ stamped his own Caminetto’s as a property claim.  Nothing else is mentioned in this article about the Harvey connection or of a Harvey Greif.

The next clue came from rebornpipes.com and Steve’s work on a couple of Italian marked pipes with the name, ‘Harvey’.  Steve’s research ran down the same dry riverbed as mine.  His restoration of an Italian Harvey, New Life for an Italian Made Harvey Futura Billiard, produced this theory after nothing conclusive was found regarding the Harvey name.  Steve wrote:

I have a theory that the brand was made by Rossi because I knew that the factory made many pipes for various sellers around the world. I have no proof of it of course but it is a good possibility. I have no idea of the connection between Rossi and Harvey pipes, but I sense that there is one.

The Harvey pipes Steve worked on were clearly marked with the COM as Italy.  The Harvey I’m looking at is nebulous.  There could be an Italian connection but to me it is stretched because of the lack of specific marking as the Italian Harvey’s had consistently.

In my emailing Steve back and forth about the Harvey on my worktable, he made another interesting observation which I believe is probably pointing in the right direction. Steve wrote after my doubt of an Italian ‘Harvey’ connection:

Sure… the Italy was on the underside of the shank at the stem/shank union. I am wondering if there was a Harvey pipe shop or tobacco shop… then it would be a shop stamp… The above pipe looks a lot like a finish done by Sasieni.

Steve’s deep experience working with many pipes has definitely given him a ‘6th sense’ with the styles and characteristics of pipe families.  This ‘6th sense’ helped me to identify an elusive pipe, which was written up with the title: Ria_io Selection Italy Full Bent Billiard.  The pipe was an Italian Lorenzo Rialto – a very nice pipe!

The Sasieni source he theorizes is interesting and while ‘Harvey’ is not mentioned in the considerable list of Sasieni seconds (see: Pipedia’s article) I think it is plausible that the Harvey before me is a ‘shop pipe’ or from a larger retail store of years past when selling pipe smoking materials in a ‘regular’ store was still the norm in the men’s sections.  I discovered one such ‘treasure’ in the restoration of a Robinson (Restoring a Surprising Silver Treasure: a Robinson 8494 Quarter Bent Paneled Tomato).  The Robinson was available in Robinsons & Co, a British owned retail chain based in Malaysia.

When my research was running dry, I posted pictures of the Harvey and its nomenclature on several Facebook groups asking for help.  I secured a picture of another Harvey – London Paris New York, from Dom on the FB group, Tobacco Pipe Restorers.  He had received this pipe as a gift.  So, I knew there was at least a few more of these pipes out there along with a long-expired eBay listing I found.  The eBay listing is interesting in that it is the same shape, but a smooth briar.  Also, in sync is the Meer-lining.But the suggestion of origin that came from Trevor on ‘Pipe Lifestyle’ I think joins the plausible path suggested by Steve and my thoughts of it being a ‘store’ pipe.  Trevor wrote:

Just thinking out loud Dal, but could the Harvey be a reference to the Harvey-Nichols department store in London? I don’t know if they ever expanded to Paris or New York, but it may be a house branded pipe.

I did a quick search of the ‘Harvey-Nichols’ department store and found a Wikipedia link that opened up to information that seemed promising at first – familiar hallmarks to the Robinson story: Founded in London in 1831, and over the years opened in 16 different locations, mainly in UK, but with many stores in the Middle East as well.  My first thought was to email ‘Harvey-Nichols’ to find out if there might be some clues to this pipe, but my hopes were dashed when I read that the company had been purchased and acquired at least 5 times in the recent history recorded.  Finding historical information through that labyrinth was not something I wanted to be doing.  The other factor was that there were no locations of the Harvey Nichols stores mentioned being in either New York or Paris – again, possible but not likely.

I do believe the most plausible theory as to the origins of this pipe is that it is a ‘shop’ or ‘store’ pipe that was produced by a pipe manufacturer and stamped.  The English source of manufacturing is plausible with Steve’s Sasieni connection observation.  My guess is that the pipe is a commemorative of some sort with the ‘London Paris New York’ as the banner.  For what commemoration, will remain shrouded in mystery – at least for now.

Turning now to the pipe itself, the rusticated surface of this classic Dublin shape stands out – it is very tightly crafted and reminds one of a reptilian hide.  Very nicely done.  The stummel surface needs cleaning and the rim is scuffed up and needs attention. Most problematic is the chamber.  The pipe has a Meerschaum-lining – from the Massa or pulp, description, the Meer may not be block but the compound sort – not sure.  Either way, with a Meer-lining the opportunity for damage to the lining increases exponentially with the build up of carbon cake creating pressure.  Meerschaum needs nor wants a protective cake lining as do briars. So, the lesson that this pipe is teaching is, Meerschaum needs to be cleaned off!!  What I do after each use of either a Meer lined or Meerschaum block pipe is to use a bent over pipe cleaner to scrape off the chamber wall.  You want NO carbon build-up on Meerschaum.  I take another closeup below that tells the story. The cake is thick and appears hard, and the lava overflow is crusted over the top of the Meer-lining and on rim surface.The stem has moderate oxidation but almost no tooth chatter or damage at all.  That is welcomed.  For some reason, I only managed one picture of the stem.  The stem came mounted with a sword stinger which I removed and put aside until the end.  I’ll let the future steward decide if he wants to utilize the stinger.  I begin the restoration of the Harvey rusticated Dublin by adding its stem in a soak with other pipe’s in the queue.  I first clean the stem airway using pipe cleaners wetted in isopropyl 95%.  With the airway clean, I then place the stem in a soak of Before & after Deoxidizer.  I leave the stem in the soak for a few hours. After a few hours, I fish the stem out of the soak and wipe off the oxidation and excess fluid using a cotton pad. I also run another pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95% through the airway to clean out the Deoxidizer.  Very little oxidation is raised and removed.To rejuvenate the vulcanite stem, I wipe on paraffin oil and then put the stem aside to absorb the oil.  Now, with my attention focused on the stummel, I gently and patiently remove the carbon cake bui