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The Vintage Notoriety of Tom Howard and his Jumbo Squat Rustified Tomato

Blog by Dal Stanton

I’ve never restored a pipe where the person who made it had more notoriety than the pipe name itself.  The Tom Howard Jumbo Squat Rustified Tomato came to me along with several others from a good friend I worked with in Ukraine several years ago.  Dave Shain is also a fellow pipe man and restores pipes and has a great website, www.ThePipery.com.  In 2017, Dave won the Master of Pipes award from the Chicago Pipe Collectors Club for his work and charitable activities through The Free Pipe Project where Dave spearheads a program to send quality restored pipes to servicemen serving their country.  I visited Dave where he lives near Atlanta, Georgia, and we had a great time renewing our relationship.  He showed me his workshop, pipe and tobacco collections, and of course, we settled down in the ‘Barn’ flanked by a vintage Ford pickup – his Man Cave, to share a bowl or two.  It was a fun reunion!  I left with a tin of his aged Escudo and several pipes he wanted me to restore for the Daughters of Bulgaria, which I was more than happy to do.  Thanks Dave!The Tom Howard is now on my worktable because another pipe man, Paresh, saw it on The Pipe Steward site in my section, For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only!  This is where I post pipes that are in my electronic ‘Help Me!’ basket that others can commission to add to their collections.  Like me, through rebornpipes’ Steve Laug’s encouragement and tutelage, Paresh started restoring some of his own pipes in India, where he lives, and publishing his write ups on rebornpipes.  This LINK will take you to his restorations published on rebornpipes – he does a great job!   After seeing some of my restorations online, Paresh visited The Pipe Steward and saw some pipes that chose him – like Harry Potter and the wizard’s wands!  One thing I’ve learned in my growing relationship with Paresh as we’ve communicated back and forth between Bulgaria and India, is that he doesn’t like large pipes – he LOVES large pipes!  And this Tom Howard Jumbo Squat Rustified Tomato got his attention – here are the pictures he saw in For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only!The pipe is marked on the left shank with ‘Tom Howard’ in cursive script and ‘Imported Briar’ on the right shank side in the same script.  For a Squat Tomato, I’ve labeled it a ‘Jumbo’ because it has a definite stout presence in the palm.  The dimensions of the bowl give you an understanding of Tom Howard’s presence: Length: 5 5/16 inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Bowl width: 2 1/8 inches, Rim width: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber width: 7/8 inches, Chamber depth: 1 1/4 inches.I had never heard of a Tom Howard stamp on a pipe and after I put the name in search tool on Pipedia I was surprised to find what I found.  Tom Howard was a vintage celebrity in America during the 1940s and 50s.  Here’s the Pipedia said about Tom Howard the man:

Tom Howard was a popular comedian and personality in the 1940s/50s, known for vaudeville stage and radio work. But he also was a skilled pipe maker. In a Popular Mechanic article from 1947 he is written up as the “Hobbyist of the Month, Tom Howard.” He made pipes in his workshop outside his home in Red Bank, NJ. starting about 1939 and looks like into the late 1940’s or later. He purchased briar blocks by the bag as well as stem blanks, and in his well-equipped shop he handcrafted his pipes, in about three hours on average. He was a true craftsman, also specializing is intricate model boats, trains and brass canons, all built to scale.

I was intrigued – this vaudeville and stage comedian made pipes and this pipe came from his workshop made by his hands.  How cool is that?  Desiring to find out more about Tom Howard the man, I searched Wikipedia and found a fun and informative article about his professional life and how he hosted a I was intrigued – this vaudeville and stage comedian made pipes and this pipe came from his workshop made by his hands.  How cool is that?  Desiring to find out more about Tom Howard the man, I searched Wikipedia and found a fun and informative article about his professional life and how he hosted a zany Q&A game show that was spoofing the ‘serious’ Q&A game shows.  It was called “It Pays to Be Ignorant”.   Here is what the Wikipedia article said:

It Pays to Be Ignorant was a radio comedy show which maintained its popularity during a nine-year run on three networks for such sponsors as Philip MorrisChrysler, and  DeSoto. The series was a spoof on the authoritative, academic discourse evident on such authoritative panel series as Quiz Kids and Information Please, while the beginning of the program parodied the popular quiz show, Doctor I.Q. With announcers Ken Roberts and Dick Stark, the program was broadcast on Mutual from June 25, 1942 to February 28, 1944, on CBS from February 25, 1944 to September 27, 1950 and finally on NBC from July 4, 1951 to September 26, 1951. The series typically aired as a summer replacement.

Snooping a bit more, I found an online site that had the July 5, 1951 episode of ‘It pays to Be Ignorant’ available for viewing.  I watched it and it was like I was in a time machine!  The video also included period advertising for cars and tobacco and Tom Howard in form, dawning a professorial gown and a gravelly 1950s vaudeville tin can voice.  It’s great! I clipped a picture of the episode.  If you want to see it yourself, here’s the link:  The Internet Archive.

The Pipedia article I included above, referenced one more source to learn a bit more about Tom Howard.  In a 1947 Popular Mechanics edition he was named ‘Hobbyist of the Month’ – but it didn’t say which month!  With a little bit of help from Google, I found Archive.org that housed old editions of many periodicals including Popular Mechanics.  I started in January and started searching – thankfully they had a search tool I utilized for each month.  Finally, I found the article in the Popular Mechanic 1947 June’s edition.   For the absolute nostalgia of it, and for the interesting information it adds about Tom Howard and especially his pipe production, I’m including the pages here for you to read – including the cover page!  I couldn’t pass it up!   With a greater appreciation for the pipe man, Tom Howard, I take another look at the Jumbo Squat Rustified Tomato before me and based upon the articles above the dating of this pipe could range from the late 1930s to the early 50s as Tom Howard died in 1955 at the age of 70 according to Wikipedia.  The chamber has very little cake buildup.  The rim is worn and the rustification on the rim is filled or simply worn down – I’ll need to clean this to see.  The inner lip of the rim is darkened by scorching.  The rustified stummel is attractive – it has scratches and blemishes from use.  The smooth briar around the rustification is nice looking – I think it will look very nice after cleaned and spruced up some.  The stem has some oxidation and the bit shows minor tooth chatter.  I notice too, that Tom Howard but a subtle bend on the saddle stem to give the stem a definite orientation – nice touch and it looks good too.I begin the restoration by cleaning the internal airway of the stem using a pipe cleaner dipped in isopropyl 95% and then adding it to a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer along with other stems of pipes in queue to be restored.  After a few hours I remove the stem from the bath and wipe it down with a cotton pad wetted with light paraffin oil (mineral oil) removing the light oxidation that was raised from the vulcanite.Turning now to the stummel, to remove the light cake in the chamber I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit.  Even though the cake is light, I want to give the chamber a fresh start.  I jump right to the 3rd largest blade head and finish using the largest.  I follow the reaming blades by using the Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Tool to scrape the chamber wall further, then finish by sanding the chamber with 240 grit paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  To clean the carbon dust, I wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  I inspect the chamber wall and it looks good – no cracks or heat fissures.  The pictures show the process. To clean the external surface of the stummel, I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and cotton pads.  I also utilize a bristled tooth brush to clean the rustification as well as a brass bristled brush to work on the rim and the dark scorching on the inner lip. Turning to the internals, I use cotton buds and pipe cleaners with isopropyl 95% to clean. I also employ dental spatulas to scrape the mortise walls as well as a drill bit to clean the airway.  I sized a bit just large enough to fit the airway and hand-turn the bit to clean the tars off the walls.  After some time, the cotton buds and pipe cleaners start coming out cleaner.  Later, I will continue the internal cleaning by giving the internals a kosher salt and alcohol soak.Turning to the stem, I use 240 grit paper to sand out the roughness and tooth dent in the bit area – upper and lower.  I follow this by wet sanding the entire stem with 600 grit paper.  I then use 0000 grade steel wool to sand/buff the stem.  The pictures show the progress. While I was sanding, I notice that the draft hole in the button is not shaped well – a bite compression or something.  I use a sharp needle file to even the opening and I repeat the sanding process for the button end – 240, 600 and 0000 steel wool.With my day ending, I continue the cleaning of the stummel internals by utilizing a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  I create a ‘wick’ by pulling and twisting a cotton ball.  I then insert it and stuff it down the mortise into the airway as much as it will allow.  I then fill the chamber with kosher salt – why kosher?  It will not leave a residue taste as iodized salt.  I place the stummel in an egg cart to keep it steady and fill the bowl with alcohol using a large eye dropper until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes I top it off once more – and turn off the lights. The next morning, the kosher salt/alcohol soak had done its job.  The salt and wick are soiled by drawing out more tars and oils.  I throw the used salt in the waste and wipe the bowl with paper towel and blow through the mortise to dislodge any remaining salt.  I then use a few more cotton buds and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% to make sure.  All is good – clean – and I move on! Looking at the stummel, I see several scratches on the smooth briar surrounding the rustification.  The rim isn’t even and it is worn.  I decide to freshen the rim by topping the stummel but only lightly – I don’t want to erase the rustification that Tom Howard placed there many years ago!  Using 240 grade paper on a chopping board, I invert the stummel and give it a few rotations and look.  I do this a few times and decide I’ve taken off enough.  It looks good and the rustification remains intact.  I then switch to 600 grade paper on the topping board and give the stummel a few more rotations.  This erases the rougher 240 scratches and smooths the rim surface.  The pictures show the topping process from the start to finish. Darkened briar remains on the inner ring of the rim from scorching (picture above).  To address this, I introduce a gentle internal bevel using 120 grade paper, followed by 240, then 600.  With each paper grade, I roll the piece of sanding paper into a tight roll and rotate it around the circumference of the internal lip by pinching the paper with my thumb.  This allows a uniform beveling to emerge.  The pictures show the progression. Now to the briar surface.  The smooth briar has a lot of small scratches and rough places throughout.  The first picture below also shows an example of Tom Howard’s rustification processes not contained to the rustification areas. I will spot sand these areas. First, I sand out the overrun rustification marks with 240 and 600 paper.  And then, to address the smooth briar of the entire stummel, I use a rough grade sanding sponge to remove the scratches and blemishes.  I then follow with a medium grade sponge then a light grade sponge.  Taking the stummel to the next step, I wet sand it with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sand with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  All I can say is, ‘Wow!’  I love watching the grain emerge through the micromesh pad regimen.  Each pad teases out the grain a bit more.  The pictures show the progression. I put the stummel aside and pick up the Tom Howard stem and using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand.  Then I dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of three pads, I apply a generous coating of Obsidian Oil that revitalizes the vulcanite stem.  The result is the glossy pop we all expect! Looking again at the stummel, there are some pinhead fills on the left shank side that need to be addressed as well as the worn rustification cuts that have fill material visible and generally, is lighter than desired.  I take some pictures of the different things I see.In the Pipedia article of Tom Howard, there were several pictures of his pipes that were provided courtesy of Doug Valitchka, which give an idea of the original motif used when Tom Howard rustified his pipes.  The picture below shows a dark shaded rustification, though it appears that Mr. Howard put a dye on this stummel to give it a more reddish hue.  Using this picture as a guide, I use a walnut dye stick to color and blend the pinhead fills and to redefine the rustification, yet I prefer the natural briar hue of this Tom Howard Squat Tomato and will not stain the stummel. Now, to ‘rough up’ the rustification, I mount the Dremel with a more abrasive felt buffing wheel set at 40% full power and apply Tripoli compound to the rustification.  The effect is that this softens the hue – blends it more so that it doesn’t look painted.  I think it does the job and I like the blending!I buff the stummel with a felt cloth to remove leftover compound and I apply Before & After Restoration Balm to the stummel.  This Balm works well to bring out the deep hues of the natural briar.  I squeeze some Balm on my finger and I work it into the stummel and rustification.  The Balm begins as a light oil texture then thickens as it’s works into the briar.  I let is set for several minutes then I wipe/buff the Balm residue off with a microfiber cloth. I then reunite stem and stummel and mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the stummel, maintain a 40% full power speed, and apply Blue Diamond compound to both stem and stummel.  As before, using a felt cloth, I buff the pipe to remove compound dust left behind before waxing.  I then mount another cotton cloth buffing wheel onto the Dremel, maintain the same speed, and apply carnauba wax to the entire pipe.  I finish by giving the pipe a good hand-buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine of the briar even more.

I’m pleased with the results of the Tom Howard Jumbo Rustified Squat Tomato.  I’m pleased with the textured blending of the rustification with the backdrop of beautiful smooth briar.  The contrast between the two is attractive.  I’m thankful to Dave Shain for giving me this Tom Howard to restore for the Daughters.  I’m also thankful for having discovered through the research the story of an interesting man.  Tom Howard was an accomplished comedian and stage person during his time.  But most interesting to me was his pursuits at home – in his workshop making quality pipes – not on a factory production line, but one pipe at a time with his own hands.  His love of pipes and placing them in other’s hands reminds me somewhat of my own worktable – the love of restoration and passing pipes on to others.  Paresh commissioned this Tom Howard and he will have the first opportunity to acquire him in The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe will also benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – our work helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!


Recommissioning a Sand Blasted Canadian – Made in London England

Blog by Dal Stanton

The Lot of 66 that I acquired last year continues to yield pipes to my worktable that are very collectible.  Robert fares from the US state of North Carolina and he has seen many of my online posts on Facebook Groups – The Gentlemen’s Pipe Smoking Society and The Elite Pipes & Tobacco Groups. This is the fellowship and camaraderie I have discovered in these groups among other pipe men and women which many find to be very rewarding.  With the internet being world-wide, the fellowship and relationships cross geopolitical borders and often the ‘Fellowship of the Pipe’ breaks down walls that are created because we live in a broken world.  I’ve commissioned pipes from “For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only!” that have gone all over the world and it’s been enjoyable to correspond with those who have received pipes from my worktable.  Robert saw an eye-catching Canadian and commissioned it and this unbranded, Made in London England is now on the worktable.  Here are the pictures Robert saw. Unfortunately, this Canadian has no identifying nomenclature other than MADE IN LONDON [over] ENGLAND.  Yet, the ‘flavor’ of the pipe has a quality classic feel to it.  The blasted surface is eye catching showing very distinctive grain in 3-D. This is not a poorly crafted pipe.Along with the attractive blasted finish, another reason this Canadian got Robert’s attention was the size: Length: 7 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Bowl width 1 3/16, Chamber width: 3/4 inches, Chamber depth: 1 9/16 inches.  It’s a long Canadian of 7 inches which is what everyone wants in this shape family.  Working on a Canadian, I always find helpful Bill Burney’s Shapes Guide Pipedia article to understand the differences among the Canadian cousins.  The oval shank and tapered bit identify the Made in London England as a straight up Canadian.Looking at his condition, the chamber has a light layer of cake but the rim along with the entire external surface look great – but a good cleaning will refresh the blasted surface.  The stem has some oxidation and tooth chatter to address.  For all that I see, this restoration should be straight forward.

I begin by adding the Canadian tapered stem to a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer with other pipes’ stems that are in queue for restoration.  Before doing so, I use a pipe cleaner dipped in isopropyl 95% to clean the airway of the stem not only to clean the stem but also to keep the Deoxidizer from being contaminated. After soaking for some hours, I drain off the Canadian stem and wipe off the raised oxidation using a cotton pad wetted with light paraffin oil – Bulgaria’s version of mineral oil.  The Deoxidizer does a good job of raising the oxidation.After cleaning the stem of the Deoxidizer, I still detect some deep oxidation.  To deal with this I sand the stem first with 240 grit paper, also sanding out tooth chatter on the bit and button.  I follow by wet sanding with 600 grit paper to erase the 240 grit scratches.  I believe the oxidation has been removed.I put the stem aside for now and pick up the long, lanky Canadian stummel and begin by removing the light cake in the chamber.  I put down paper towel to help in cleaning. Using the Pipnet Reaming Kit, starting with the smallest blade head and moving to the larger using 2 of the 4 blades available in the Kit.  I follow this by using the Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Tool to scrape the chamber wall and to reach down into the chamber getting the harder to reach angles.  Finally, to bring out fresh briar in the chamber, I complete the reaming by sanding the chamber wall with 240 grit paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen which gives some leverage.  To clean the carbon dust left behind I wet cotton pads with isopropyl 95% and wipe the chamber.  With a clean chamber, I’m able to inspect its condition and I see no crack or heat fissures.  It looks good! Next, I turn to the external blasted briar surface and clean using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and cotton pads.  I also use a bristled tooth brush to scrub the textured surface.  There isn’t a lot of grime.  The pictures show the progress. Turning now to the internals of the Canadian stummel, my main arsenal are shank brushes to reach through the long shank.  I dip the shank brushes as well as pipe cleaners and cotton buds into isopropyl 95% to clean the airway.  It doesn’t take too long.With the stummel clean, I now continue work on the stem.  I begin by wet sanding using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, following with dry sanding using pads 3200 to 4000 and then 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads I apply a nice coat of Obsidian Oil to revitalize the vulcanite stem.  In the interest of full disclosure, after the completion of the first set of 3 micromesh pads, I detected oxidation at both upper and lower right-angle mergers of the stem and button.  I backtracked and used a flat needle file to sharpen the button lips – upper and lower and removed the residual oxidation.  I’m sparing you of the pictures that repeated the 240, 600 grit papers, 0000 steel wool and repeat of pads 1500 to 2400.  On we go! Turning back to the Canadian stummel, next I apply Before & After Restoration Balm to the blasted briar surface to recondition and revitalize it.  I like the Restoration Balm because it takes the briar where it is and deepens it – the change is subtle but noticeable.  I’m anxious to see what the Restoration Balm does with a blasted surface.  Most of my experience using it has been with smooth briar.  I squeeze some Balm on my finger and work it into the briar surface.  I make sure to work the balm into the nooks and crannies of the textured blasted surface.  With the amount of briar real estate of this Canadian it takes 3 ‘squeezes’ of Balm to cover the surface adequately.  After applying the Balm, I let the stummel rest for 10 minutes allowing the Balm to do whatever it does!  I take a picture before application, during the 10-minute rest and after.  You be the judge! After rejoining the Canadian stem and stummel, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel, set the speed at 40% of full power and apply Blue Diamond compound to both stem and stummel.  Since I live in an apartment on the 10th floor of a former Communist blok apartment building and have limited space, one of the advantages I’ve discovered by using a Dremel as my main workhorse tool for buffing and drilling is that the buffing wheels are very small – about an inch in diameter. This allows me to surgically apply compounds and wax.  This is especially helpful for a blasted or rustified surfaces like I’m working on now.  I’m able to pivot the buffing wheels orientation to move along with the grain and not against it.  This helps in spreading wax without it getting bogged up on the rougher surface.  After completing the application of Blue Diamond compound, I buff the pipe well with a felt cloth to remove the compound dust before waxing. Next, I mount another cotton cloth buffing wheel onto the Dremel, maintain 40% full power speed, and I apply several coats of carnauba wax to the blasted Canadian briar surface and vulcanite stem.  I finish the restoration by giving the pipe a hearty hand buffing using a microfiber cloth.

The grain on this blasted Canadian Made in London England is exceptional.  Though it has no branding, I’m guessing it was produced in a factory producing other classic English pipes like GBD or BBB.  This pipe demonstrates the classic long lines of a Canadian and therefore it is most definitely a keeper and will be a great addition to one’s collection.  Robert commissioned this Canadian from For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only! and will have first opportunity to acquire it in The Pipe Steward Store.  This Canadian benefits our work here in Bulgaria with the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

Refreshing an Italian Gasparini M.G.M. Rock Briar 1912 with an Unexpected Encounter

Blog by Dal Stanton

Idian lives in Indonesia and sent me an email after trolling through The Pipe Steward electronic “Help me!” basket which I call, “For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only!” He inquired about commissioning two pipes, a Peterson and the Italian, Gasparini M.G.M. Rock Briar 1912.  He settled on the Gasparini and assured me that he was a patient man as I put his commissioned pipe in the queue behind quite a few other commissioned pipes.  I found this pipe along with 65 others in a Lot of 66 which has provided several pipes for my work table which have benefited our work with the Daughters of Bulgaria, helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  This M.G.M. Rock Briar stood out to Idian and it also stood out to me not only because it’s a unique Freehand shape but also because the shank is chocked full of nomenclature information that I’ve looked forward to researching.  Here are the pictures that Idian saw. The heel of the shank is stamped with ITALY [over] BRIAR 1912 [over] M.G.M. [over] Rock in cursive script.  Below this is a stamp – a pipe partially ensconced in a circle with M.G.M. repeated under the circle. To the right of this, hugging the briar’s edge transitioning to the vulcanite ferrule is the number 25, which I’m assuming is a shape number.  The pictures above show the rondel with the pressed M for Mario, the patriarch of the Gasparini family. Much of Pipedia’s article about the Gasparini name came from the current Gasparini website, http://www.mgasparini.it/en/.  When reading the information, one gets the impression of the enterprise having deep family roots which continue today.  From the Pipedia article:

In 1938 Mario Gasparini, with his wife Ida, took his first steps into the world of the pipe. Today his daughter, Marisa Gasparini, sits at his desk; since 1977 Marisa and her husband, and now her daughter, carry on the tradition of her family. At the beginning of 1950’s, the building, that still today hosts the production department, was enlarged. In 1971 the offices and the warehouse were moved from Milan (where they were situated for marketing purposes) to Luvinate.

During those years the skilled workers and our direct partners have always followed the history of the Gasparini factory, becoming very fond of it and devoting themselves, with care and love, to the making of each pipe, with the personal fantasy and skills of the artist. We would like to take this opportunity to thank those artisans who, with their creativity, gave, and continue to give, life to the Gasparini Pipe factory.

The article also describes the Gasparini series, M.G.M. coming on-line in 1965 as a classical line with the initials standing for the founder’s name – Mario Gasparini Milano.  Pressing the research, the Pipephil.eu site offered more information.Of interest in the Pipephil information was the reference connecting the M.G.M. “Collectionist” series (marked by the circle/pipe stamp) with a comparison to ‘wax-drip pipes’.  I looked at that link and got a clue of what might be the considered shape of the M.G.M. Rock on my work desk: stummels fashioned to look like the ends of used candles.  Here is a clipping of three ‘high-end’ examples of this interesting shape:With these examples before me, I take another look at the M.G.M. Rock Collector on the table and it I believe that its possible it was fashioned in the ‘wax-drip’ manner with the ripples of melted wax shaped on the rim flowing down.Pipedia’s article included an older Gasparini brochure (courtesy of Doug Valitchka) – unfortunately no dating was given for the brochure, showing three pipes in the ‘Collector’ series.  The middle example is obviously the same shape style and stem as the pipe on my work table but with a squatter bowl – very much reminiscent of a ‘wax drip’ shape.  My guess is that the brochure is from the 60’s because it’s black and white and I would imagine that the stated pricing at that time would not be for a corner drug store pipe!  Unfortunately, this was the only page shown – I would love to have read the description for the ‘b.’ pipe!One more question dogged me in my research of the M.G.M. Rock – ‘Briar 1912’.  Briar 1912 was stamped on several examples I saw of Gasparini pipes on Pipedia and Pipephil.eu.  What did it refer to?  As I’ve done before with much success, I decide to go to the front door of the Gasparini house and knock and introduce myself.  On the ‘Contact’ page of the Gasparini website I find contact information and send an email with the 1912 question as well as a few other questions to confirm the shape number and dating.  We’ll see if they respond!  The description in the brochure gives a clue that I didn’t recognize until later – it states that the briar had been aged over 50 years!  If one does the math, if 1912 is when the aging process began – plus 50 years, lands us in the year 1962 – the decade the M.G.M. series was introduced and perhaps the ‘Collector’ series as well. It was only after discovering an August 2013 thread in Pipes Magazine Forum (LINK) concerning Gasparini pipes that I tied the 1912 with the aging of the briar – I know, I’m slow!  This clip from Doc Watson speaks very positively of the Gasparini named pipes:

I have a few Gasparini pipes. They are real sleepers IMO and are seldom talked about by collectors but believe me there are some magnificent Gasparini pipes out there. Here’s a photo of one that came from the late Jack Ehrmantrout (owner of Pipe Collectors International PCI) collection. It was one of his favorites that he never smoked. Some are stamped 1912 briar, which is indeed some old root. As most pipe companies/makers they make different lines, some higher grades than others but IMO if you find one you like, go for it. (Note from me: IMO = in my opinion)I love ‘Sherlocking’ the provenance of pipes not only to learn about the names of historic lines, but to more fully appreciate the value of what I’m handling and seeking to restore.  The picture above, along with several examples in the Pipedia article courtesy of Doug Valitchka, give me a good idea of the natural briar hue Gasparini used and I will shoot for this with the M.G.M. Rock on my table.
Well, my cup runs over!  I received a reply from M. Gasparini Pipes in Luvinate, Italy, but not from a desk employee.  Marissa Gasparini (picture from previously cited Pipedia article) responded to my questions, the daughter of Mario Gasparini, the founder of the Gasparini Pipe house in 1948.  She assumed control of the Gasparini Pipe interests in 1977 and I assume she continues in that role today.  I was honored that she wrote to me.  Here is her letter, switching to my native tongue and responding to my questions:

Dear Dal,
1) the 1912 is the year in which was born the briar that we used for making that serie of pipes so particular.
2) The circle with pipe in it was used only for some special  fancy serie like the Rock.
3) We begin to produce thise serie in the 1960 and finish in the 1965, and now we have left only few pieces, and you are lucky to have one.
4) The number 25 is the number of the shape and the pipe was waxed.
We hope  that our informations are o.k. for you and we thank you  and remain at your complete disposal,
with best regards,
Marisa Gasparini

Wow!  I love restoring pipes!  With Marisa’s letter as confirmation, the briar root aging process used for this M.G.M. Rock began in 1912, 106 years ago.  The Collector stamp was only used for special, fancy lines, which applies to this Rock.  This M.G.M. Rock was produced between 1960 and 1965 – which gives it an age ranging from 58 to 53 years.  The shape number perhaps points to the wax candle shape that I was guessing might be the case or the shape may simply be a freehand Rock.  She also said that I was ‘lucky’ to have one of these special collector series in my possession – I would call it blessed.  I responded to her gracious letter and ventured another question – to ask about the significance of the third letter, ‘M’ in M.G.M. moniker?  The first two letters are clear – the initials of her father.  The third letter, ‘M’ stands for Milano.  I asked her the significance of ‘Milano’?

A few hours later her reply arrived.  The M.G.M. – Milano was where the Gasparini family lived and produced their pipes 45 years ago – a special place in their memories.

This is a nice-looking pipe and I’m happy to call this a “Refresh” on the title of the blog. With a very quick cursory look at the chamber, stummel and stem I see no challenging issues.  There is a light cake in the chamber, the rim has minor discoloration from grime and oils, and the stummel surface appears to be in good shape.  The surface of the stummel has darkened and has become tired and needs some cleaning and spiffing up a bit.  The Military stem shows no perceptible oxidation and only minor scratches – no tooth chatter.  Maybe an easy restoration!

I begin the restoration by placing the stem in a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer along with other stems of pipes in queue for restoration.  Even though I see no oxidation, I’ll give it a soak to make sure.  Before putting the stem in the soak, I run a pipe cleaner dipped in isopropyl 95% through the airway to clean it first.  After soaking for several hours, I fish the stem out, drain it and wipe it down with a cotton pad wetted with mineral oil (light paraffin oil here in Bulgaria).  As I thought, very little oxidation was raised during the soak.Looking now to the M.G.M. Rock stummel, I begin by reaming the chamber to remove the moderate collection of carbon cake to provide a fresh start for the 106 year aged briar.  After putting down paper towel for easier clean-up, from smaller to larger, I use 3 of the 4 blade heads available to me in the Pipnet Reaming Kit.  After this, I employ the Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Tool to fine tune the reaming by reaching the more difficult angles at the floor of the chamber and by scraping the walls.  Finally, I wrap a piece of 240 grit paper around a Sharpie Pen and sand the chamber walls.  I then wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to clean the carbon dust left behind.  An inspection reveals a healthy chamber with no cracks or heat fissures.   The pictures show the process. Now, turning to the external surface cleaning, I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with cotton pads and a bristled tooth brush to reach into the rolls of the briar shaping.  I also use a brass wire brush on the small plateau to loosen the scorching around parts of the internal lip.  Following this, I gently scrape the scorching with a Winchester pocket knife edge to remove more of the damaged briar.  The cleaning and brushing made good progress. Preferring to work on a cleaned pipe, I now switch to the internals of the stummel by cleaning the mortise and airway with pipe cleaners and cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 95%. I also utilize different sized dental spatulas and scoops to excavate tars and oils by scraping the mortise walls and digging around the draft hole drilling deeper in the mortise.  I have learned over time that it shortens the clean up by excavating what you can and following with the cotton buds.  Last time I was in the US, I went to the US 1 Flea Market in Stuart, Florida, looking for pipes, of course.  I found a shop in the Flea Market that had absolutely everything and found an assortment pack of about 8 different dental tool accessories – sharp, flat and scooped.  These tools are very helpful in different phases of the pipe restoration process.  A good investment!  After excavating and swabbing, the internals are clean.  I move on!Back to the Military stem – it is in good shape with respect to the oxidation, but it has scratches and roughness around the bit that one expects to find through normal use.  The button also has compression marks to address. I first wet sand using 600 grade paper to find out if a mid-range grit is invasive enough to address the issues I see.  It does well, but it uncovers small tooth dents that I didn’t see before as well as the button being a bit compressed. I backtrack and use a flat needle file to give the button refreshed definition.  I then use 240 grit paper only in the bit area to remove the tooth dent and work on the button.To erase the 240 grit scratches, I again sand using 600 grit paper followed by sand/buffing the entire stem with 0000 grade steel wool.  I think the Military stem is looking pretty good.Pressing forward with the stem sanding, I wet sand using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 followed by dry sanding with pad 3200 to 4000 then pads 6000 to 12000.  After each set of 3 pads, I apply a rich coat of Obsidian Oil which rejuvenates the vulcanite.  The stem’s looking great – I love the pop! I’ve been thinking as I’ve been working how I should approach the sanding/finishing of the ‘Wax Drip’ Rock shape?  As the tired finish is now, the pipe to me is one dimensional.  The darkened finish is uniformly non-expressive.  I look at it and I see the beautiful, unique shape, but I don’t see the beauty of 106-year-old briar grain standing on center stage of this presentation.  The great thing about micromesh pads is that they are flexible and hug the surface which I believe will aid me in adding some depth and contrast of shades in the briar’s presentation.  While sanding with the micromesh pads, there will be natural and unavoidable changes in the pressure and impact of the pads because of the contouring of the Wax Drip Rock shaped briar.  High points will naturally be lighter and lower points will be darker, providing (at least theoretically at this point!) contrast and shading through the briar landscape.  Ok, that’s the theory and the plan.  Time to march!  Using pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand the stummel and vulcanite ferrule.  Following this, I dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000.  The pictures show the progress and I like what I see – theory becoming reality. Next, I mount the Dremel with a cotton cloth buffing wheel set at 40% full power and I apply Tripoli compound to the briar surface.  I’m able to reach more directly into the carved areas of the briar with this more abrasive compound.  After the Tripoli compound, I change to another cotton cloth buffing wheel, maintain the same speed and apply Blue Diamond compound to both stummel and military stem.  To remove compound dust from the pipe, I buff the pipe with a felt cloth. Before applying carnauba wax to the stummel, I apply Before & After Restoration Balm. I like using the Restoration Balm because it deepens and enriches the natural briar hues.  After squeezing some Balm on my finger, I apply it to the briar with my fingers working the Balm into the surface – making sure I work it into the carved areas.  As I work the Balm into the briar, it begins with a light oil consistency but thickens during the application to a wax-like ointment – the picture below shows this stage.  After letting the Balm settle for about 10 minutes, I wipe/buff off the Balm with a clean cloth. The final stage is to apply carnauba wax to the stem and stummel.  I mount another cotton cloth wheel to the Dremel, maintain the same 40% of full power, and apply a few coats of carnauba wax.  When I complete the waxing cycles, I give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine even more.

Restoring this Gasparini M.G.M. Rock exceeded my expectations in important ways. The pipe was beautiful before I started.  Now, it’s a show stopper as the 106-year aged briar has retaken center stage and the Freehand shape with the dips, curves and swirls are a stellar supporting cast.  I can easily see the Wax Drip shape, but it could also be petals on a flower.  The Military style stem looks classy but unassuming as it joins the vulcanite ferrule with a contrasting ring of briar between ferrule and stem.  Another exceeded expectation was to understand better the Gasparini name and the value of family. My appreciation brimmed for Marisa Gasparini as she took the time to answer my questions – this was an honor.  This simple act revealed her pride in the Mario Gasparini heritage and her willingness to answer questions shows her concern for each pipe bearing the Gasparini name.

Idian commissioned this pipe with the understanding that the final valuing of the pipe would be after I researched and restored the pipe and published the write-up.  Then, as is the understanding for all the pipes that are commissioned, the commissioner of the pipe has the first opportunity to acquire the pipe in The Pipe Steward Store with the value determined.  If the price is not agreeable, he may pass, and I leave the pipe in the store for another steward to eventually add to his collection.  However, for this restoration, for this Gasparini M.G.M. Rock, the value for me is ‘priceless’.  I’ve invited him to join my collection and start pulling his own weight in the rotation – my first Gasparini, we’re happy.  I’m thankful to Idian for his understanding after letting him know – he was a bit disappointed but happy that the M.G.M. Rock was restored and continued in good hands.  Thanks for joining me!

Giving new life to a Kiko 343 Made in Tanganiyka Meer-lined Billiard

Blog by Dal Stanton

I acquired this interesting Kiko 343 Meer-lined Billiard in a Lot of 66 which has provided many stewards with newly restored pipes.  Aaron saw this uniquely rustified pipe in the “For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only!” page on The Pipe Steward site and commissioned it to add to his collection AND this pipe will benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria, our work here in Bulgaria helping women and girls who have been sexually exploited.  Here are the pictures that got Aaron’s attention. I’ve looked forward to working on this pipe because of its country of origin – Made in Tanganyika.  The pipe design itself gives hints of its African origin with a rustification that has a safari motif on a classic Billiard and the stem stamp of an elephant is very cool!  The briar surface also reminds me of cork – a surface that combines smooth and texture which I think is unique.  I assume the shape number 343, stamped on the lower shank, points to the Kiko’s Billiard shape.Dating the minimal age of this pipe is made easy by the fact that Tanganyika is no longer a country.  According to the Wikipedia article, in 1922 the Tanganyika Territory was taken by the British as their share of German East Africa under the League of Nations Mandate.  After WW 2, Tanganyika became a United Nations Trust Territory yet remained part of the British Common Wealth.  Claiming independence from the crown, Tanganyika adopted a new constitution in 1962 that abolished the monarchy and became present day Tanzania.  The picture to the left shows the location of Tanganyika – marked #11. This puts the date of this Kiko at no later than 1962 which gives a bit of vintage as it carries its former Commonwealth history to the present.

I posted some pictures of the Kiko during the restoration on the Facebook group, The Gentlemen’s Pipe Smoking Society, and fellow member, Jonny Mullis commented on the Kiko name that they were wonderful pipes with the animal stamping.  He also said that they were becoming quite collectible and affordable.  That was all good news to me!

The Kiko seems generally to be in good condition but carries with it some fills that I’ll need to take a closer look. The Meer-lined bowl looks solid, but I will be able to see better after cleaning it.  The rim has a fill or composite material that occupies about a quarter of the rim.  Structurally, the rim looks good and should clean up well.  The saddle stem has some oxidation and tooth chatter on the bit which needs addressing.

I begin the Kiko of Tanganyika’s restoration by cleaning the airway of the stem with pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl.  After this, I add it to a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer with several other pipe’s and their stems in the queue for restoration.  I leave the stem in the soak overnight and after fishing it out of the Deoxidizer, I wipe the fluid off with cotton pads wetted with light paraffin oil.  The raised oxidation also is removed as I wipe.  Unfortunately, the paint used for the elephant stamping did not hold.  I should have covered it!  I will need to retouch the stem stamp later.  To be on the safe side, I also use 600 grade sanding paper and wet sand the stem to remove any residual oxidation.  After this, I remember reading a Charles Lemon’s blog on Dad’s Pipes (LINK) about practices he has learned over the years, and one of them was utilizing Tripoli compound and a buffing wheel to remove oxidation.  I decide to try it out.  To do this, I mount a new, clean felt buffing wheel on the Dremel, set at the slowest speed and apply Tripoli over the stem.  It seems to work well as I’m able to concentrate on areas of oxidation – especially around the button and the curve of the saddle that are more difficult to reach.  The pictures show the deoxidation process. Turning now to the Meerschaum lined stummel, I take a picture of the chamber showing the minor cake that has collected on the Meer surface.  Unlike briar pipes, Meerschaum needs no protective cake.  Therefore, the goal in cleaning is to reveal the Meerschaum surface.  To remove the carbon, I begin by gently using the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to scrape the chamber wall.  When the crunchy texture stops as I gently scrape, lets me know that the carbon is removed.  I then follow by sanding with 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  I sand it until it is totally smooth in the chamber.  There is still darker Meer in the chamber, but to remove more simply for aesthetics is not necessary. I then wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to remove the Meerschaum dust left behind.  The Meer lining is in good shape – no cracks or crevices in the chamber – though there are some age scratches here and there. The pictures show the progress. Moving to the external surface, I use undiluted Murphy’s Soap with cotton pads to clean.  I also utilize a bristled tooth brush to work the rustification divots.  To freshen the Meer rim top, I use a piece of 240 grit paper to lightly sand and clean the Meer surface.  This enhances the appearance with the contrast between the Meer and the briar rim. I take some pictures of the cleaning process and this is when I discover a problem.  I detect a crack running from the left side of the bowl downward until it disappears when it intersects with the fill that wraps around the heel and up the right side.  The fill looks like a briar dust/CA glue patch material which I use regularly.  The same patch material quarters the rim.  These pictures show the patch material. To address the crack, my first step is to determine the integrity of the old patch material.  I will try to remove the patch material to see what is underneath.  If I can do this, then I can assess the nature of the repair needed.  The crack that is exposed appears to me to be a fresher progression of crack ‘creep’ – that has grown beyond the original patch.  This repair is straight forward by drilling a counter hole at the end of the crack to stop the creep and applying additional patch material. To test the integrity of the patch material I try to remove it by dissolving it with acetone and cotton pads.  The acetone doesn’t make a dent. These patches are solid.  I work the acetone over the rim and it has no effect on the patch material.  I’m not sure what the patch material is, but it’s not going anywhere soon!  At this point, I will repair the exposed crack and shore up some gaps I detect in the old patch material.  The rustic, craggy look is what makes this Kiko stand out and after working on the patches, I’ll seek to blend this rustic look with the finishing process.  To start, to aid me in drilling a hole at the end of the crack to arrest the crack creep, I use a magnifying glass to identify the end and using a sharp dental probe to press a guide hole.  The guide hole helps when drilling.  I mount a 1mm drill into the Dremel and drill – but not too much!  Going through the Meer lining would not be a happy situation.  The black highlighted rustification patterns, make it much easier to blend the repair. To do this, using a toothpick to run a drop off the end, I spot drop Black CA glue into the counter hole and let it cure. After filling the offset hole, using a toothpick in the same way, I run a line of clear, thin CA glue down the crack.  I use the thin CA glue because it penetrates the crevice of the crack for a solid fill.  After the CA glue cures, I spot drop clear CA glue in a few other places where there were gaps around the old patch work. With the CA glue patches curing, I turn to the stem.  Using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand the stem.  Following this, I dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  After each set of three pads, I apply Obsidian Oil to the stem to revitalize the vulcanite. I love the freshly polished vulcanite pop! With the crack patch cured, I start sanding out the excess CA glue using 240 grade paper followed by 600 grade. To bring out the natural briar shine and hue, I run the stummel through the full battery of 9 micromesh pads from 1500 to 12000.  Before I apply any dye color to the stummel to mask and blend the patches, I want to have an idea of the presentation of the briar.As expected, the briar darkened through the micromesh cycles.  There is still a lightened area around the sanded patch areas which I will blend.  I also want to blend the patches more.After applying several different dye sticks and fan blending with a cotton pad wetted with a bit of alcohol, I tried to darken the lower part of the stummel to provide more blending.  I succeeded to a degree, but not enough that would mask the patch areas.  To do that, I would need to stain the entire stummel darker and that would lose the ‘cork’ or safari appearance of this Kiko Billiard made in Tanganyika. That, I’m not willing to do.  His trademark is rough and rustic!  So, with a little embarrassment, I remember that I have not cleaned the internals of the stummel.  After some pipe cleaners and cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 95%, I now have a clear conscience.Reconnecting stem and stummel, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel, set the speed at the lowest speed, I apply Blue Diamond compound to both stem and stummel. After completing an application of the compound, I buff the pipe with a felt cloth to clean off the compound dust in preparation for the application of wax.  Before I apply the wax, I have one more project to complete.  The white elephant stamping’s paint disintegrated in the Deoxidation soak and I need to repair this very cool stamping.  Using white acrylic paint, I dab it over the elephant imprint and dab it with a cotton pad to thin it and allow it to dry more evenly.Well…, in the interest of full disclosure, none of the usual methods worked – paint, wipe while wet – paint, let dry fully, scrape off lightly….  At the end of the day, and some hours of experimentation using a paint brush, needles and toothpicks, I finally arrived at an acceptable result for me.  With a picture of the original on my computer screen to compare, I used a toothpick to ‘sculpt’ the acrylic paint onto the Elephant canvas bit by bit.  Then, before the paint dried, I scrape the unwanted portion from the canvas to shape the image.  This was not a straight forward, slam dunk process!  After many starts and restarts working with a magnifying glass to paint, I came to a place where I am satisfied.  I’m not an artist in anyone’s conversations, but through trial and error, the Kiko Elephant mosaic – it’s no longer a stamping, is not perfect, but looks pretty good.  With the Elephant again standing guard on the Kiko’s stem, I mount the Dremel with a cotton cloth buffing wheel, increase the speed to about 40% and apply a few coats of carnauba wax to the stummel and stem.  After applying the wax, I give the pipe a good hand buffing with a clean microfiber cloth to raise the shine on the unique ‘cork’ rustified stummel and stem.

The rustification on this pipe is unique.  It pulls one toward the African roots of Tanganyika, now Tanzania.  The texture reminds me of cork which by the very nature of the material is not perfect.  This Kiko wears his imperfections well – the fills, evident on the stummel surface, belong and mark the difficulties this pipe has had along the way, but now ready to go again.  The grain nuanced as a backdrop to the rustification, has subtle patterns that remind one of tiger fur.  The Meerschaum lining looks great and will provide the Kiko’s next steward the ability to enjoy a bowl of his favorite blend, and immediately reload for another smoke without the need of resting the pipe.  Aaron commissioned this Kiko from the “For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only!” page and now he will have the first opportunity to acquire it in The Pipe Steward Store and what is really good, this benefits our work, the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

Repairing (again!) a Son’s Gift – an L. J. Peretti Stem Splice

Blog by Dal Stanton

We all have favorite ‘friends’ in our specially chosen, first string rotation of pipes that are ready when we call upon them.  For me, each of these pipes have names and associations with my life – memories of a person or a special event or both – that is stirred to life when I grab that pipe off the rack and spend time, usually packed with my favorite blend, Lane BCA.  In several blogs I have referenced my attraction to L. J. Peretti pipes of Boston – I’ve started a collection of Perettis and I have found they are hearty pipes and good smokers.  My fascination with Perettis started with a Christmas gift from my son, Josiah, a few years back in Denver.  He found this wounded warrior in the Armadillo Antique Mall in Denver and I found it under the Christmas tree with Josiah’s confidence that I could mend his wounded pride and broken stem!This hearty L. J. Peretti Square Shank Billiard became my first experience in the art of stem splicing.  I learned a lot and was proud when I published the write up of this achievement: A Christmas Gift in need of a stem splice – L J Peretti Squared Shank Billiard.  Josiah’s gift started my appreciation for Peretti pipes in Denver.  I have enjoyed this pipe and he was joined serendipitously by another Peretti, another square shank, but a Rhodesian (See: LINK for write up).  Jon, a friend and colleague working in Ukraine, gave me my second Peretti!  These two, together, I call the Peretti brothers.As life unfolds, things happen.  I was back in Denver from Bulgaria last February for the births of two brand new beautiful granddaughters and had grabbed the Peretti Brother Billiard and was heading up the stairs to go outside to enjoy a bowl and the view of the Rocky Mountains, when I fell (going up the stairs!) and the stem splice that had served faithfully was overcome by the impact of my body coming down on it.  The stem broke at the end of the ‘shelf’ created for gluing.  You can see this on the next picture.  I lost the remainder of the stem in the flight back to Bulgaria, but it wouldn’t have mattered because there wasn’t enough left of it to repair.  The picture below shows the remainder of the original cannibalized stem’s fashioned shelf remaining on the Peretti saddle stem – the junction line shows up in the shine on the stem.  I decided to do a write up simply of this repair, but I have an alternative motivation too.  My wife and I are leaving soon for the Black Sea coast for our annual R&R and I wanted to repair the Peretti Brother to take with me to the beach!  So, I took pictures of the repair process but am now doing the write-up on the beach, looking out over the Black Sea!Starting the repair, I find an adequate donor stem to cannibalize for the replacement.  I measure it and cut it with adequate length so that the cut is at the old seam that you see in the picture above.  I make the measurement then, using a flat needle file as a saw, I make the cut after placing the stem in a vice in such a way that I can use the edge of the vice as a guide during the cut.  In this way, I hope that the cut is straight and perpendicular to the stem!There is a little vulcanite spur left that I clean off easily with the file.Lining the donor stem up with the remaining original stem looks like the right length for a balanced feel and look.Next, carefully I cut an upper groove on the original stem essentially in the same place as the first shelf was, thus removing the old donor remnants.I use the tapered pieces of a clothespin to wedge the square shank saddle in the vice safely and securely.  I want the saddle stabilized in a horizontal plane for the filing/cutting process.  I also line up the old seam with the edge of the vice so that the vice’s edge helps as a guide.  I’m aiming for a cut that is perpendicular to the stem’s length as I create a new groove using the flat needle file. Patience is my best friend in this process. The pictures show the progress. As I draw close to the airway, my goal is to stop when the airway is exposed halfway while keeping the horizontal shelf and the inside vertical edge of the shelf at right angles.Satisfied that I’ve gone far enough, I trim off the end of the lower shelf – as close to right angles as possible!  I think it’s looking good. I eyeball the progress.  The truth is that not all stems are drilled with holes in the exact middle.  To get an idea of the best alignment of the new donor stem with the original, I put a pipe cleaner through both.  I flip the donor stem eyeballing the alignment to see if one position is better than the other.  The most important alignment consideration is the airway.  The external stem can be cosmetically improved, but a blocked airway cannot be easily removed. When one doesn’t have precision tools, which for the most part I don’t, one lives with the value of improvisation.  To cut the shelf in the donor stem now, I mount the donor stem in the vice and again, using the angled pieces of a clothespin, I fashion a stable filing platform!  I file conservatively.  That is, not to go for an exact measurement but leaving some excess stem to file down gradually, working up to a good fit.  I use the width of the flat needle file as the measure for the length of the shelf which leaves me a little ‘fat’ to work with.  The challenge will be keeping the shelf that is fashioned as much of a right angle as possible or, the two, shelf butt ends to be parallel!  As before, I use the side of the vice as a guide to keep the new edge straight.  I take pictures of the filing progress. At this point, after eyeballing the progress, I realize that as I’m filing the shelf, it is not horizontal but sloping downward toward the end of the shelf.  To address this, I use the short edge of the flat needle file and saw a straight line to open the airway.  In doing this, I now I have a built-in level – the top of the airway.  I continue to file the shelf to reveal uniformly the airway and this should be close to being level – I hope!  The progress is shown. At this point, I test the alignment even though there’s a long way to go on the donor stem.  To test, I put a pipe cleaner through the airway in both pieces.  The airway must line up in the finished repair.After more filing, another test.  Closer.As I file and test, I realize that the lower shelf extension on the original Peretti stem was still a bit fat, so more vulcanite is filed off.  The challenge is not taking off too much because it can’t be replaced easily!In time, another test – getting there.  You can see the pipe cleaner creating the alignment axis through the two pieces.  The gap that is showing on the top I address by taking off more vulcanite from the donor stem (second picture), after flipping over I file the vertical edge ‘back’.  This will close the gap on the top and spare the original Peretti stem from giving up more vulcanite.I decide I’ve filed and fitted enough.  The time has come to glue the two pieces of stem. I think its possible to fiddle too much seeking ‘Fit Nirvana’! I clean the shelves with alcohol, including the airway with a pipe cleaner.  The tricky part of the gluing is to avoid CA glue getting into the airway and sealing it – not a good situation!  The way to avoid this is by inserting a pipe cleaner that has petroleum jelly on it – the CA glue will not stick to it.  The challenge doing this is that when you press petroleum jelly into a closed space it squeezes out and can contaminate the area that needs maximum CA glue effectiveness!After cleaning the area and thinking about how I might maximize the bond between the spliced stem pieces, I remembered a technique that I had previously read in either one of Steve’s Rebornpipes blogs or Charles Lemon’s, Dad’s Pipes blogs, describing how drilling holes can enhance the glue’s penetration and bonding qualities.  To do this I mount a 1mm drill bit into the Dremel.  WARNING bells are going off in my mind: Do not drill through the vulcanite!  There’s not a large margin of error.  With the bells ringing, I drill a couple of holes on each side of the airway on both stems’ shelf.  It looks good and I’m glad I remembered this technique.I repeat the cleaning of the upper and lower shelves with alcohol and insert a pipe cleaner through the pieces with a bit of petroleum jelly on it.  I then apply thick CA glue to the shelves and draw the two pieces together while keeping the pipe cleaner taught assuring a straight airway. I use a thick CA glue so that the glue remains in place and doesn’t run spread over the stem.By keeping the pipe cleaner taut and the airway straight, I maneuver the two pieces to fit as well as possible which leaves the external appearance a bit ‘Frankenstemish’ but that’s OK and expected at this point in the process.  I can address that later.  In the pictures following you can see gaps and where the stem surface is not flush as the stem transitions through the splice. The primary bonding of the splice is successful with a clear and straight airway.  To address the gaps, I mix a batch of activated charcoal powder and regular CA glue to make a putty that acts as a filler for the imperfections of the fit.  I keep the putty a bit thinner than normal when I use this mixture repairing tooth dents and damage to the bit.  Keeping the CA and activated charcoal putty thinner, or wetter, allows a better penetration into the gaps around the split.  After I mix the putty, I apply it around the spliced area with a flat dental spatula and tamp the putty down into the gaps.  The pictures show the process. The result looks truly like a ‘Frankenstem’.  A give a full 24 hours for the putty to cure well and I then begin the filing and shaping process using a flat needle file.  The pictures show the gradual process of shaping the external appearance of the stem splice. Following the filing, I use 240 grit paper to further smooth and shape.  In the next pictures you can see that I sand the entire stem.  The entire stem must be tapered and sloped so that the spliced area disappears into one unified stem presentation.  The tapering is not only on the upper and lower stem, but also on the stem’s sides where the stem bows inwardly from the saddle to the button.Following the 240 grit paper, I smooth further with 600 grit paper.As the stem splice smooths during the sanding, I detect a hole where the putty failed to fill.  I dispatch this by spot dropping black CA glue in the hole to seal it.  After it cures, I continue sanding and smoothing the area. With the splice repair essentially finished, what I don’t show in pictures following is the normal, full sanding and buffing process.  I follow the 600 grit paper by buffing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool.  I then follow with 9 micromesh pads from 1500 to 12000 with a coat of Obsidian Oil between each set of 3 pads.  I then apply Blue Diamond compound with the Dremel, followed by the application of carnauba wax to both stem and stummel.  You can still see the seams of the splice, but the entire stem looks great.  The pictures show the finished spliced stem. The Peretti Brother Billiard joined me on the Black Sea and both of us have enjoyed a great reunion!  Thanks for joining me!

Refreshing a Jobey Hand Rubbed 015 Zulu/Woodstock

Blog by Dal Stanton

This very sharp Jobey Hand Rubbed Zulu/Woodstock came to me via eBay auction block when I secured the Lot of 66 which has been a great acquisition for restoring pipes benefitting the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Brian, a pipe man in Kentucky, had already commissioned my last Peretti Oom Paul Sitter and saw this Jobey as he was checking out my page, For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only!.  We came to an accord and Brian had two pipes in the queue for restoration.  Here are pictures of the pipe that got Brian’s attention. The nomenclature of the Zulu/Woodstock has Jobey (cursive) over HAND RUBBED on the top of the shank.  The bottom of the shank is marked with 015, which I assume is the shape number for a Zulu/Woodstock.  The stem has on it the well-known JOBEY roundel ensconced on the top.When one searches the usual places for information about pipe manufacturers and names, Jobey consistently stands out as having a mysterious beginning.  From TobaccoPipes.com, the Jobey history is summarized.

The exact origins of the Jobey Pipe Company are a mystery…Depending on the year, a Jobey pipe could have been produced in England, North America, or France. Since the early 1920’s, Jobey pipes have jumped continents with production falling into the hands of seven different companies over the years. No one is really sure who first produced smoking pipes under the Jobey brand. The pipes are believed to have originated in England; but their true origin is still a bit of a mystery. Jobey pipes were, for most of their history, primarily an English and American brand.

In the same article, interestingly it describes Jobey having a strong Danish influence in its early history as well:

Danish pipe artist Karl Erik had taken a strong interest in the Jobey pipes and started to offer a wide variety of pipe designs that became extremely popular in England and throughout some of the countries such as Holland and the Netherlands.

Today, Jobey pipes are manufactured out of Saint Claude, France, and in 2012 the name was taken on by the Weber Pipe Company, according to PipesTobaccos.com.

The most well-known invention that has been associated with Jobey is the Jobey Link – the tenon system that is popular for its ease of cleaning and replacing.  In his post on of a Jobey Cauldron on RebornPipes, Steve became the recipient of original packing information about the Jobey Link that I found fun and interesting:The Jobey Hand Rubbed Zulu/Woodstock is fitted with the famous Link.  Regarding the Jobey line, Hand Rubbed, from some old eBay posts I found some ‘Hand Rubbed’ Jobey pipes and one listing gave it a general dating in the 1980s.  From this Pipedia Jobey article, I found this older ad for a Jobey Hand Rubbed Poker that I thought was interesting giving a description of the unique properties of this line of Jobey offerings.  For the ease of reading, I clipped the description.The Jobey Hand Rubbed Zulu/Woodstock now on the worktable is in good shape.  The cake is almost nonexistent.  The stem is in good shape with almost no detectable tooth chatter but with a bit of oxidation.  The briar grain is stunning, and I see few problems with the surface.  The only question is the shiny finish over the briar.  I’m hoping that it isn’t an acrylic finish which is a bear to remove.  This restoration may be more of a refresher if the finish isn’t a problem.  I begin refreshing this Jobey by first removing the Jobey Link from the stem and running some pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% to clean the internal stem.  I then add the stem to a soak with Before & After Deoxidizer along with 5 other stems.  The Deoxidizer does a good job dealing with oxidation and is friendly to stampings and, in the Jobey’s case, the brass roundel.  After soaking for a few hours, I fish out the Jobey stem and wipe off the raised oxidation with cotton pads wetted with light paraffin oil.  I also run a pipe cleaner, dipped in alcohol, through the airway to clear the Deoxidizer.  The Deoxidizer has done a good job.Turning now to the stummel, with the chamber being so lightly caked, I use only the Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Tool to scrape the walls removing the cake.  It did not take much.  I follow by sanding the chamber with 240 grit paper to clean more and to reveal fresher briar for a fresh start.  I then wipe the bowl with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to remove the leftover carbon dust.  Pictures show the progress. Now to clean the external surface.  I’m hoping that using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap will make a dent on the shiny finish.  I scrub with Murphy’s using cotton pads and rinse with cool tap water.  The stummel cleans up nicely, but as the picture below reveals, there remains a shine on the surface which says to me there’s still old finish needing to be removed to get to the natural briar.  I also detect a small fill that is pitted and will need some attention.To continue the cleaning regimen, I use pipe cleaners and cotton buds wetted with isopropyl 95% to clean the internal mortise and airway.  I’m getting the impression that this pipe has not been smoked a lot.  The internals are not too grungy, and the cotton buds and pipe cleaners are coming out clear.Now, to see if I can remove the shine from the briar surface, I first try using alcohol on cotton pads to see if it will do the trick.  Not quite – still some shine.  Next, I apply acetone with cotton pads.  That did the trick.Now, to work on the shaky fill on the stummel.  I take a closeup of it.  I use a sharp dental probe to excavate the old material.  I then clean it with a cotton pad and alcohol.  To create a good blending patch, I mix a small amount of briar dust and CA glue to form a putty.  When mixing the two, when it reaches the consistency of molasses, it’s ready to be applied to the patch.  I use a toothpick as a trowel.  I then set the stummel aside to allow the patch to cure.While the patch cures, I turn my attention back to the stem.  The stem is in good shape, but the vulcanite surface is rough.  I use 600 grade paper and wet sand the entire stem.  I follow the 600 with 0000 grade steel wool.  The paper and steel wool did the job, now I’m ready to move to the micromesh pad phase. Using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand the stem.  I follow by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads I apply Obsidian Oil to the stem to revitalize the vulcanite.  And, it looks great! With the stem poised to join a stummel, I look now to the Jobey Zulu/Woodstock bowl.  The briar dust putty patch has cured and is ready to be filed and sanded.  I initially use a flat needle file to bring the patch mound down near to the briar surface.  I keep the file on the patch mound to not impact surrounding briar.  I follow the file with 240 grit paper and sand the mound flush with the briar surface.  I then cover the scratches of the 240 with 600 grit paper. To deal with the lightening of the wood around the patch due to sanding (above) I use both a cherry and walnut dye stick to color the area – seeking to strike a good blend.  I would also dab the area with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to achieve the blend.  I’m satisfied.To address the small nicks on the surface, I start the micromesh sanding pads wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sand with 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  I take a picture after each set of three to watch the briar grain emerge. Next, I apply Before & After Restoration Balm to the briar surface.  I have grown to like this product.  What I like about it is that it enhances the natural grain color by deepening and enriching it.  I squeeze some of the Balm on my finger and work it into the briar.  The Balm starts with a light oil texture but then thickens into a wax-like consistency as it works into the briar.  After fully saturating the bowl, I set the Zulu/Woodstock aside to allow the Balm to do its work for a few minutes. I take a picture capturing this.  Then, I wipe the Balm off with a cloth – it starts tacky, but this buffs out.  I like the results.I reassemble the Jobey Link tenon and reunite the stem with the stummel and mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel with the speed set at about 40% full power.  I then apply Blue Diamond compound to the stem and stummel.  When completed, I use a felt cloth to buff the pipe, wiping off the compound dust in preparation for the wax.  I then mount another cotton cloth wheel to the Dremel, maintain speed at 40% and apply a few coats of carnauba wax to the pipe.  I complete the restoration by giving the pipe a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to bring out the shine.

This Jobey Hand Rubbed Zulu/Woodstock is a keeper and I enjoyed recommissioning him.  The briar grain reminds me of a zebra – the bird’s eye and swirls are incredible.  The Zulu/Woodstock shape always seems to have a bit of attitude to it.  This Jobey Zulu/Woodstock is a classic expression of this pipe shape.  Brian commissioned this Jobey Zulu/Woostock and he will have first opportunity to acquire it in The Pipe Steward Store and this benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!


The Last of Boston’s Peretti Oom Paul Sitter Recommissioned

Blog by Dal Stanton

I’ve enjoyed restoring a Lot of 10 Peretti pipes and recommissioning them for new stewards.  All the Oom Pauls in the picture below, except for one which I added to my collection, are in the hands of new stewards except for the one on my worktable now.  I have been pleased to hear back from stewards who have these Oom Pauls and often I’ve heard that they have become favorites in their rotation lineups! I like Perettis myself and have a healthy collection of them.  They are great smokers in my experience and my Peretti Oom Paul is a favorite for me too – he hangs on the chin perfectly, like a good lap dog!  When I began my research on the L J Peretti name, I was surprised to discover that it is not an Italian pipe as one might expect with such a name!  In fact, I discovered the genesis of a significant story of Americana pipe history with the establishment of the L. J. Peretti Company of Boston in 1870 (Pipedia citing: Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks, by José Manuel Lopes), the second oldest tobacco shop in the US, second only to Iwan Ries & Co. of Chicago established in 1857 (See: Link).  The Peretti family originally comes from Switzerland, but the Italian name is explained by the fact that they originated from the southern slopes of the Swiss Alps which flows south toward Italy more easily than to the north – the heart of Switzerland.  The Calabash (upper left) and the Goliath Billiard (bottom) are waiting to be restored to be added to my collection of Perettis.  The hefty Egg in the middle is already in my lineup!Brian commissioned two pipes (See: For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only), a nice looking Jobey Hand Rubbed Dublin (next on the worktable) and the Oom Paul Sitter before me – both pipes benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks Brian!  For a close-up look at the Oom Paul Sitter, I take several pictures on my worktable.  The nomenclature is the simple L.J. PERETTI stamp on the left shank.  This Oom Paul shares every single challenge that his former brothers had – the former steward seemed to have a scorched earth policy.  The chamber is heavily caked, and the rim scorched.  The rim challenges are the most daunting for this restoration.  The stummel has a build up of grime and minor nicks from usual wear.  The stem has significant oxidation and bit clenching and chewing which needs addressing.  To begin the restoration of this, the last Peretti Oom Paul Sitter in need of a new steward, after cleaning the internal airway with a pipe cleaner dipped in isopropyl 95%, I put the stem in a soak with Before & After Deoxidizer along with 5 other stems.  After some hours soaking, I fish out the Peretti stem and wipe off the raised oxidation with a cotton pad wetted with light paraffin oil (mineral oil in Bulgaria).  The Deoxidizer seems to have done an adequate job. Next, I attack the chamber carbon cake build up using the Pipnet Reaming Tool.  Putting paper towel down to minimize clean up, starting with the smallest blade head, I use 3 of the 4 blades available to me. I follow the blade heads by using the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to reach down into the chamber to scrape more carbon off the wall.  Then, to clean the chamber and to bring out fresher briar, I sand the chamber using a piece of 240 grit paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  To remove the thick carbon dust left behind, I wipe the chamber with cotton pads wetted with alcohol.  After clearing the cake away, a look into the chamber reveals no problems – no heat cracks or fissures.  Good! Now to scrub the stummel surface and the rim with its thick lava I start with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and cotton pads.  I also use a brass brush on the rim to break up the lava crust.  To scrape the rim, I use a pin knife as well as the straight edge of the Savinelli Fitsall tool.  As I scrape the crust off, I also remove the scorched charcoal that is on the inside of the rim mainly on the left side of the stummel – the area where the former steward damaged all his pipes.  The result is that the left side of the rim is narrower after the cleaning.  The stummel is in great condition – the rim is the challenge. Before moving on with the rim repairs I continue with the internal cleaning of the stummel.  Using pipe cleaners and cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 95% I go to work. I also employ a dental scalpel to scrape the internal wall.  I’m pleased that there wasn’t too much resistance.  At the end of my work day I’ll continue the cleaning process by giving the stummel a kosher salt and alcohol soak.Turning now to the stem, I begin addressing the tooth dents and chatter on the bit.  With his brother Oom Pauls, there usually was some button damage too, but this guy’s in better shape in that regard.  I first use the heat method to raise the vulcanite dents to make them less severe.  By heating the vulcanite, it expands, and the dented vulcanite naturally seeks its original positioning.  I use a Bic lighter and paint the upper and lower bit and after heating several passes, I do see a lessening of the severity of the dents as the vulcanite expands.  As a result, I can sand the remaining dents out with both the upper and lower bit.  Before the heating:After the heating:I sand out the damage using 240 grit paper.I move on to using 600 grit paper by wet sanding the entire stem.  I follow this with 0000 steel wool sanding/buffing the entire stem.Moving forward with the stem, I wet sand using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  To revitalize the vulcanite, I apply a coat of Obsidian Oil after each set of 3 pads.  I love the glossy pop! Looking now to the stummel, I see a few very small, nicely camouflaged fills which are in good shape, but I see one significant cut into the briar that needs attention.  To address it, using a toothpick, I lay a line of thick CA glue over the cut.  I set the stummel aside to allow the patch to cure.After a while, the patch has set enough for me to work on the rim.  The bad news is that the loss of briar on the left side of the internal rim from scorching is gone – it can’t be replaced.  The good news is that the aesthetic imbalance of the rim as a result can be mitigated somewhat by creating a bevel around the entire rim.  The bad news – there is additional loss of briar.  In restoring a pipe there’s always this tension between loss and gain.  With this Peretti, as with all his Oom Paul brothers, I did the same thing and they turned out well.  I start the process by taking the stummel to the topping board to remove the damaged wood on the top. Topping an Oom Paul can be a challenge because the shank extends beyond the plane of the rim.  So, to top the rim, the shank needs to hang off the side, so it isn’t unintentionally topped!  I take a picture to mark the start. I turn some rotations on the board and check out the progress.  I also utilize a small sanding block which allow me to focus on a certain area of the rim.  After the 240 paper, I put 600 grit paper on the board and do a few more rotations.  The pictures show this progress. Now, using a tightly rolled piece of coarse 120 grit paper, I begin beveling the internal rim edge – hoping to bring more balance to it.  I take a bird’s eye picture first to mark the progress.  I pinch the paper under my thumb as I move it in the areas of the rim to be reduced.  While I work on equalizing the rim diameter, I’m also sanding down the chamber to taper the walls as they move downwardly.  I’m looking for greater aesthetic balance.  I come to the point where I’ve done all I can do.  I think it looks much better.  I do another bird’s eye shot for comparison. I take the stummel one more time to the topping board using 600 grade paper.  I do this simply to reestablish the lines after the sanding. One more thing I want to do with the rim.  I’ve worked on the inside balance, now I also introduce a very gentle bevel on the outside of the rim.  I do this to soften the edge which is sharp after the topping.  I use 120 grit paper then 240 and finish with 600 – each rolled tightly.  With the rim repair done, I take the flat needle file and begin to file down the patch on the side of the stummel.  When I bring the patch down close to the surface, I switch to using 240 grit paper to remove the excess patch to the briar surface, making the patch area flush with the surface.  I then finish the sanding with 600 grit paper.  The patch will blend well later.My day has ended and I will continue the cleaning process of the stummel with a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  This freshens the briar and draws out more latent tars and oils from the briar.  I fashion a wick from a cotton ball by pulling and twisting it.  I insert it down the mortise and airway.  I then fill the bowl with kosher salt, which has no aftertaste, and then put isopropyl 95% into the bowl until it surfaces over the salt.  I wait a few minutes and top off the alcohol and turn out the lights. The next morning the soak has done the job through the night.  The salt and wick show soiling from the tars and oils.  I clean the stummel of residue salt with paper towel, blowing through the stummel, and to be on the safe side, I run a cotton bud with alcohol through the mortise to clean up any leftover remnants – after a couple of cotton buds I move on. The next step is to address the external briar surface of the Peretti Oom Paul Sitter.  I filled the one cut I saw on the surface that stood out.  There are other nicks and scratches that are normal from use.  To address these, I use micromesh pads.  I first wet sand using pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sanding 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  The grain looks good as the micromesh pads coaxed it out.  The one bummer is the darkened wood from the scorching damage around the inner edge of the rim.  That will not go away because it would sacrifice too much briar to accomplish it. Since the rim had been topped and sanded, it is a shade lighter than the rest of the stummel.  To remedy this, I apply a maple color dye stick around the rim.  I forgot to take a starting picture for comparison but here is the aftermath.  It looks good and matches well.As I’ve done with all the other Peretti Oom Pauls (and one Bent Billiard!) I restored, I kept the color true to the original as much as possible.  To do this I used Before & After Restoration Balm on the briar and it does a great job deepening and enriching the color already there.  I do the same with this Sitter.  I squeeze some of the Balm on my fingers and work it into the surface.  The Balm starts with the consistency of light oil but as it is worked into the briar it gradually thickens to a wax-like feel.  After applying it fully and working it in, I set the stummel aside for a while, about 30 minutes to allow the Balm to do its thing and take a picture.After about 30 minutes I use a clean cloth to wipe and buff off the Balm.  I’m pleased with the results.  Turning now to the application of Blue Diamond compound, I rejoin stem and stummel, mount a cotton cloth wheel onto the Dremel, set the speed at 40%, and methodically apply the compound.  After finished, I wipe the pipe with a felt cloth to remove compound dust in preparation for the wax.  I mount a different cotton cloth wheel to the Dremel dedicated to applying carnauba wax, leave the speed at 40% and again, methodically apply a few coats of wax to stem and stummel.  I finish the restoration of the Oom Paul Sitter by giving the pipe a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine.

I am very pleased with the restoration of this, my last for now, Peretti Oom Paul Sitter.  The grain is rich on the huge, ample bowl which is the reason many pipe men and women desire an Oom Paul in their collections. The added benefit to this Oom Paul is that it is a Sitter.  He can comfortably join his steward at a table playing cards or board games!  Brian commissioned (see For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only) this Peretti Oom Paul Sitter and will have the first opportunity to acquire it in The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!