Tag Archives: Dal Stanton article

Sprucing Up an Attractive Butz Choquin Supermate 1596 Panel


Blog by Dal Stanton

Without doubt, one of my favorite pastimes is go pipe picking!  My wife and I were on the Black Sea coast in the Bulgarian city of Burgas returning to an antique shop I had visited before on the main walking street very near the Black Sea coast.  I was not disappointed when I spied the copper pot full of pipes waiting for someone like me to come along.  The Butz Choquin Supermate now on my worktable was in the bunch that I pulled out to get a closer look.  To the left of the BC (pictured below) were a Oldo Billiard and Lincoln London Made with the Lindburgh Select Poker to the right.  Not pictured below that also came home with me is a Harvey Meer Lined Rusticated Dublin Rustified LONDON PARIS NEW YORK.  A very nice haul!

Jim saw the BC Supermate in the online ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” ONLY!’ collection along with a ‘Nightmare’ Canadian that was not needing a restoration but a resurrection!  In my communications with Jim, I discovered that he was from Pennsylvania and an engineer who has several hobbies that where he works with his hands and expressed appreciation for the restorations that he had seen posted from my worktable.  It was for that reason he looked at ThePipeSteward website and found two pipes that called his name and he commissioned them.  He also expressed appreciation for our work with the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  All the pipes commissioned by potential stewards benefit this cause. Here are pictures of this nice Paneled Butz Choquin 1596 now on my worktable.  The nomenclature on the left side of the shank is the BC fancy script ‘Butz-Choquin’ [over] ‘SUPERMATE’.  To the right, the stem is stamped with the traditional ‘BC’.  On the right shank side is the COM and shape number: ‘STCLAUDE – FRANCE’ [over] 1596.   I have heard on FB group postings that the long-time French pipe manufacturer is closing its doors.  I went to the main website of Butz Choquin and it was active, and I saw no notifications.  I’ll continue to investigate.  One of my first research projects with a French pipe, Jeantet, connected me with the history of St. Claude, France, the place that most say represent the birthplace of modern pipe manufacturing.  The BC name is among the earliest residents of St. Claude.  Pipedia provides this information about the origins of Butz Choquin:

Jean-Baptiste Choquin of Metz started out as a tobacconist. This enterprise was prosperous; he had several employees. Among those, there was a certain Gustave Butz who was its first workman and who became his son-in-law by marrying Choquin’s daughter Marie in 1858.  In 1858 Jean-Baptiste Choquin created, in collaboration with Gustave Butz, the Choquin pipe. This bent pipe with a flat-bottomed bowl was finished with an albatross-bone mouthpiece, fixed with silver rings.  In 1858, still in Metz, Gustave Butz built an establishment for the manufacture of the Choquin pipe which took the name of [Butz-Chochin]. In 1951, the Berrod-Regad company bought the trademark, continuing manufacture until 2002. Departing from Metz, the workshop was relocated to Saint-Claude, then also called ‘the world capital of the briar pipe,’ under the Berrod-Regad group. The Berrod-Regad group would go on to completely rebuild the network of representatives until finally entering the export market in 1960 and has since won several prizes, as well as the Gold Cup of French good taste.

In a few years, the brand’s collection increased from ten to seventy series. 135 years after it was founded, the pipe is still well-known not only in France but throughout the world. In 2002, the Berrod family, wishing to preserve manufacture of pipes in Saint-Claude, handed over the company to Fabien Guichon, a native of the area, who will continue to develop the brand during the 21st century.

I found this great picture of the Butz Choquin Supermate Panel in an ad on TobaccoPipe.com.  The box is classic, and I wish I had the pipe sock to go along!  I found the text along with the picture to be interesting as well in its description of the finish and the collectibility of this 1596 shape.The condition of the pipe on my table is a far cry from the other pipe that Jim commissioned, the Comoy’s The Lumberman!  While the chamber has moderately thick cake and the rim shows lava flow, the pipe generally is in very good shape. Cleaning and working on the stem’s tooth chatter and oxidation do not appear to offer any surprises.  To begin the sprucing of this BC Supermate, the stem is removed and cleaned with a pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95% and added to a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer with other stems in the queue.After several hours of being in the soak, I take out the BC stem and clean the airway with a pipe cleaner dipped in isopropyl 95% to remove the Deoxidizer.  I also wipe off the raised oxidation using cotton pads also wetted with alcohol.To revitalize the stem, paraffin oil is applied with a cotton pad.Next, I tackle the stummel cleaning.  The cake in the chamber is moderately thick.To remove the cake, I use 2 of the 4 blade heads that come in the Pipnet Reaming Kit.  Following this, using the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to scrape the chamber walls, helps to fine tune the removal of carbon cake. Finally, sanding the chamber walls with 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen provides further cleaning of the chamber and I then wipe the carbon dust remaining with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.Inspection of the chamber afterwards reveals healthy briar.  I move on.The picture above shows the lava buildup on the rim.  I turn now to cleaning the external briar surface using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a cotton pad. I also utilize my Winchester pocketknife carefully to scrape the rim. I take the stummel to the sink and continue the cleaning the internals with bristled shank brushes and anti-oil dish liquid soap.  After a thorough rinsing, back to the worktable to continue.  The rim cleaned off well and the stummel surface looks good. Next, targeting the internal cleaning further, pipe cleaners and cotton buds wetted with isopropyl 95% are used.  Tar and oils are excavated from the mortise walls by scraping with a small dental spoon.  After much effort, the pipe cleaners and buds start lightening and I decide to save the rest of the cleaning for later by employing a kosher salt and alcohol soak.After inspecting the briar surface, I find one old fill that I dig out with a dental probe and refill using clear CA glue.  I spot drop the glue on the small pit and use an accelerator to quicken the curing time. With 240 then 600 grade papers, I sand off the excess glue.The rim is still discolored with a dark ring around the inner rim edge.  I use a piece of 240 grade paper very lightly to sand the rim as well as the dark ring.After lightly sanding, it is apparent that there was a bevel on the inside edge of the rim which I decide to fresh. Using 240 grade paper with a hard surface pressing behind helps to form the bevel. The bevel looks classy!  I like it.There are minor nicks and cuts on the stummel surface which I use sanding sponges to address.  Beginning with the coarse sponge and following with the medium and light grade sponges the nicks and cuts are cleaned up.  I like sanding sponges as they are not as invasive as sanding papers but clean up minor problems on the surface.Next, I use micromesh pads to clean and smooth the stummel.  Starting with pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  I stay clear of the shank panels holding the nomenclatures.  Using Before & After Restoration Balm brings out the natural hues of the briar with a subtlety that I find attractive.  To apply it to the surface, I put some of the Balm on my fingers and work the Balm into the briar.  The consistency of the Balm starts with a cream-like texture and then thickens into a waxy substance.  After the Balm is fully worked in, I put the stummel aside to allow the Balm to do its things.  I take a picture during this stage.After 20 to 30 minutes, I remove the excess Balm with a cloth and then buff it up some with a microfiber cloth dedicated to the post-Balm buffing.  As hoped and expected, the deepening of the natural hues is very attractive – it looks great.  Moving on.The stem repairs are waiting, and I take a closer look at the tooth chatter and compressions on the upper and lower bit.The first step is to use the heating method by painting the damaged areas with the flame of a Bic lighter.  As the vulcanite heats, physics take over and the rubber expands.  The chatter and indentations hopefully will also expand to regain the original condition, or closer to it.  After using the flame, the upper bit’s tooth chatter all but disappeared.  The lower bit compressions lessened but are still evident.Addressing the remaining compressions on the lower bit, I use Starbond Black Medium-Thick CA glue to fill the indentations.  I first wipe the area with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean the area.  Carefully, I spot drop glue on each compression.  I set the stem aside for the CA glue to cure.After the Black CA glue cures, I go to work removing the excess patch material using a flat needle file.  I also work on the button to refresh the lines.Following the filing, 240 grade sanding paper is employed to erase the file marks and to smooth the lower bit. Also using the file to freshen the button lip and 240 grade paper on the upper bit, tooth chatter sands out with no problems.Next, wet sanding with 600 grade paper followed by 000 grade steel wool smooths further – the upper then the lower bit pictured. I’m careful to avoid sanding the BC stem stamping on the left stem panel.  In the second picture, a close look at the shiny reflection reveals the subtle lines of the patch.  It looks great!Even though the ‘BC’ stem stamp is healthy, which is nice for a change(!), I avoid direct sanding over it.  To clean around the stamping and to remove residual oxidation, I use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser sponge which is less abrasive than sanding paper.  It helps to darken and clean the vulcanite around the stamping.On a roll, I move forward with the full regimen of 9 micromesh pads.  Starting with pads 1500 to 2400, wet sanding is employed.  Following this, using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000, I dry sand.  Between each set of 3 pads, Obsidian Oil is used to revitalize the vulcanite stem.  The pads and Oil do the job – nice! After attempting to rejoin the stem and the stummel to apply compound, as is the case sometimes, the tenon fit is too tight.  With the cleaning process, the briar expands, and this sometimes results in the fit being too tight.  It is best not to force the fit and risk cracking the shank.  I use a half round needle file to lightly file the mortise surface – very lightly.  After another try and discovering that it is still too tight, I use 470 grade paper wrapped around the tenon and rotate the stem while the paper hugs the tenon.  After a few attempts to fit, the tenon finally seats well.With the stem and stummel rejoined, a cotton cloth buffing wheel is mounted to the Dremel with the speed set at 40% full power.  Blue Diamond is then applied methodically to both stem and stummel.  After finishing with applying the compound, a felt cloth buffing helps to remove the residual compound dust in preparation for applying wax.Before applying the wax, one project awaits: the ‘BC’ stem stamp.  To refresh the ‘BC’ stamping on the stem I dab white acrylic paint on the lettering.  Then the excess paint is absorbed using a cotton pad.  It doesn’t take long for the paint to fully dry.  After it dries, I carefully remove the excess paint using the point of a toothpick.  I also use the flat edge of the toothpick to scrape over the top of the stamp to sharpen the lines.  It looks great! After changing the cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel, maintaining the same speed, carnauba wax is applied to the entire stem.  After applying a few rounds of wax to the pipe, I follow by giving the pipe a serious buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine.Earlier, the ad described this pipe shape as ‘esteemed’. This description fits well.  I have a square shank Peretti Billiard that I like a lot.  This Butz Choquin Supermate 1596’s square shank transitioning to a tapered square stem is very attractive – the lines draw the eye in for a closer look.  Added to this, the Panel shape alignment compliments the flow of the shank and stem to give an overall solid or full look.  The light hues of the briar grain also add to this ensemble.  Jim commissioned this BC Supermate and will have the first opportunity to acquire it in The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe benefits our work here in Bulgaria with the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

Advertisements

A Nightmare Resurrecting from ‘Pipe Dreamers ONLY!’ – Comoy’s The Lumberman Special Canadian


Blog by Dal Stanton

There is no other way to describe this Canadian – a Nightmare.  I created the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” ONLY!’ section on ThePipeSteward site to encourage people to see the hidden potential of a sad, neglected pipe BEFORE the restoration process.  So much of life and relationships we have are shaped by our ability to see what people can become and treat them in this manner.  Jim saw The Lumberman and commissioned him along with a very attractive Butz Choquin Supermate Panel.  In corresponding with Jim, I learned that he’s from Pennsylvania and an engineer by trade working at Pennsylvania State University as a research staff assistant writing software for all kinds of research efforts.  What interested me also was that he, like me, enjoys working with his hands – models, woodworking and Jim has his own shop where he works.  He also builds dioramas – models representing a scene with three-dimensional figures, usually in miniature or as a large-scale museum exhibit (had to look this up!).  In his initial email, Jim assessed The Lumberman that he said he wanted me to restore:

I realize that restoring the Canadian is going to be quite a tall order — it’s former owner seeming to have smoked it hard and hung it up wet — but I can’t help but look at the hints of cross-grain on the shank and think that there is still a solid pipe left underneath all of that dirty exterior.

My response to Jim was a bit more realistic and, let me be honest, skeptical(!):

Oh my.  The Lumberman is in bad shape.  I showed my wife the pipe and that someone had requested to restore it and her response was, ‘Why?’  Your description is an understatement.  He needs a lot of TLC.  The shank chip will probably need to be planed off to reseat the stem/tenon – losing about 1/16 inch of the shank length – doable.  The rim is an ICU inhabitant.  There’s no pretty way to deal with this.  I would clean the chamber to make sure all the briar is exposed.  I would then build up the rim as much as possible with briar dust putty and then sand/top it down until it looked acceptable.  Honestly, Jim, I can’t say how much top I’ll need to remove from the bowl – as little as possible, but he’s not in good shape.  I understand what you see in the grain underneath the years of dirt and grime.  Without a doubt, you are awarded the Pipe Dreamer of the Year award!  It’s difficult for me to put an estimate on it at this point because it will definitely qualify as a resurrection and not a restoration.  I’m game if you are game.  I love the challenge and with this guy, I’m not sure how I’ll value him, but the same applies.  If you’re not satisfied, you’re not obligated to purchase.  As I said before, the sale of these pipes benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria and I appreciate your desire to support that.

The ’Nightmare’ Canadian that Jim commissioned will be a challenge!  Here are pictures of The Lumberman before he reached my worktable as I took pictures to post in the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” ONLY!’ online collection: The nomenclature found on the left flank of the long Canadian shank is THE [over an arched] LUMBERMAN.  Not until later, after starting the research, did I discover that on the shank’s right side is stamped, SPECIAL.I acquired The Lumberman in what I have called, ‘The Lot of 66’ which has produced many pipes for new stewards benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria.  Honestly, in every ‘lot’ purchase, there are always pipes that are considered ‘throw aways’ and this pipe was included in that category!  Doing a quick search in Pipephil.eu, I find The Lumberman Special listed as a Comoy’s second.  Here is the panel:The ‘The Lumberman’ lettering is identical to the Canadian on my worktable.  What is distinctly different is that the SPECIAL stamping is not joined as in the example above.  The pipe on my table has the stamping separated on the right shank side.  Another difference is the COM – the example is stamped ‘Made in London England’.  I find no COM on our pipe, nor do I find the same three bar stem logo shown, which is also on other Comoy’s second brands.  A quick look at Pipedia’s Comoy’s article confirms that The Lumberman Special is a Comoy’s second.  Also included is a picture (Second examples, details, and nomenclature, courtesy Doug Valitchka) of a pristine example – a very attractive pipe.  This example of The Lumberman also seems to be without the three bar stem logo.Looking at the example of this pipe in pristine condition above and then gazing at the ‘Nightmare’ version on my table now, lets me know that this will be a grand challenge!  Yet, there’s absolutely nothing to lose.  This pipe was done.  He was no longer the object of anyone’s love or attention.  Now, with the challenge to see what it can become with some TLC (OK, LOTS of TLC) makes me thankful for the challenge Jim has made possible.  My approach generally will be to clean, patch and sand.  The chamber and the rim are the most daunting challenges.  I’ll be surprised if I don’t find heating issues in the chamber after clearing away the thick cake.  The rim is a total mess – charring has deteriorated most of the rim.  The chamber wall has eroded, and the rim plane is wobbled and uneven.  The outer edge of the rim is chipped and gouged.  The bowl is full of scratches and a few fills here and there with pitting as well.  A huge chip has taken almost a quarter of the shank facing.  The good news is that the Canadian short stem has heavy oxidation and nominal tooth and clamping compressions on the upper and lower bit.  I add a few more pictures now from my worktable complimenting the pictures above. To begin the restoration (or, resurrection?) of this Comoy’s The Lumberman Special, after cleaning the airway with a pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95%, the stem joins other stems in the queue for a soak in Mark Hoover’s product (ibepen.com) Before & After Deoxidizer to address the thick, scaly oxidation. I just communicated with Mark to order more Deoxidizer and Restoration Balm which I’ll pick up on a trip to the US I will be leaving for soon.  I leave the stem in the soak for a few hours.  I include pictures from above to mark the starting point. After soaking for a few hours, I fish the stem out and run a pipe cleaner through the airway to remove the liquid.  I then wipe the oxidation off the stem using a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  The B&A Deoxidizer has done a good job removing oxidation. Paraffin oil is then applied to the stem to revitalize and hydrate the vulcanite.  I put the stem on the side to absorb the oil.The starting point for working on the hurting stummel is simple cleaning to unmask as much as possible the plethora of issues underneath the cake in the chamber and the grime on the stummel surface.  To clear the chamber of cake, the Pipnet Reaming kit is used.  I take a picture of the chamber to mark the starting point. Not a happy view!After putting paper towel down to save on clean up, using the smallest of the Pipnet blade heads I go to work.  I use 2 of the 4 blade heads available to me and then transition to using the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to scrape the chamber walls further.  Finally, I finish by sanding the chamber with 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen and then wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clear the carbon dust. The inspection of the now cleaned chamber shows the chamber wall proper to be in great condition!  This indeed was good news.  The briar is healthy and now it has a fresh start.Next, using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap the rim and external briar surface is cleaned using a cotton pad. A brass wire brush also proves useful in cleaning the charred rim.  After cleaning the surface, the stummel is transferred to the kitchen sink where it is rinsed in warm water and using wired shank brushes and anti-oil dish soap, I clean the internal mortise and airway. After rinsing thoroughly, I bring the stummel back to the worktable and clean the internals further using pipe cleaners and cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 95%.  I use a dental spoon to scrape the sides of the mortise as well as using shank brushes to work on the long Canadian shank. After a good bit of effort, progress has been made and since the hour is late, I will continue the cleaning using kosher salt and isopropyl 95% to soak through the night.  This methodology not only continues the internal cleaning but freshens the pipe for a new steward.  First, a cotton ball is pulled and twisted to form a wick that is used to push down the mortise and airway to serve as a ‘wick’ to draw out the residual tars and oils.  Using a stiff wire, the cotton wick is guided down the airway and after the stummel is placed in an egg carton to provide stability.  I then fill the bowl with kosher salt, which leaves no aftertaste unlike iodized salt.  Using a large eyedropper, I fill the bowl with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt.  With the longer Canadian shank, it takes longer for the alcohol to seep into the longer airway.  After topping it off with alcohol one last time, I turn out the lights and call it a day. The next morning, the salt is mildly soiled showing that it did its job through the night.  When I tug on the cotton wick, unfortunately, it doesn’t come out whole.  I must employ the use of a dental probe and tweezers to pull the remainder out.  Finally, I was able to push the rest through to the bowl with the help of the pointed needle file. To be sure the internals are finally cleaned, I deploy a few more pipe cleaners and cotton buds wetted with isopropyl 95% to clean up any residue.  After a short time, it is apparent that things look good and I move on.With the internal cleaning completed, my attention shifts now to the primary issue – the rim re-build.  From the picture below looking down on the rim, the remnants of the rim top are at 4 to 5 o’clock and at 9 to 1 o’clock.  These surfaces give me an idea of where the rim was and provide a target for a re-built rim – at least in an ideal world.  The inner rim edge is out of round from charring and…, who knows.  One thing for sure, this Canadian was loved and used, but rode into the ground! Looking now from the side, from both directions, the uneven plane is evident.  The challenge is how to save as much briar as possible off the top of the bowl to have a flat plane?  To top it until this happens will turn the Canadian into a long shank Pot! My path forward, after considering the options, is to start with a very minimal topping to even out the remaining rim plane to see more clearly the areas that will be targeted for patching.  The default option is to lose briar through topping, but I will seek to build the rim up with the patch material – briar dust putty, and top, shape and sand the rebuilt rim until it has a semblance of normality!  At least, this is the hope.  I take out the chopping board which becomes my topping board after placing a sheet of 240 grade paper on it.  The goal is to lightly top to establish the boundaries.Instead of rotating the first round, I drag the stummel across the board.  I do this because I want to stay on top of the remnant rim surface and not dip down into the damaged areas which will be softer.  Keeping the pressure on the high wood was easier this way.  The result shows the emerging boundaries.Next, this time, after rotating the stummel a few more times on the board, I come to the place of diminishing returns for topping.  I’ll apply briar dust putty to the damaged areas – on the rim and along the internal and external edges to fill in the gaps.  It will require a lot of patching, but the patch areas will provide the excess for sanding and shaping.The next area to prep for briar dust patch material is the large chip of the shank facing.  I insert a drill bit into the mortise which forms the boundary for the patch.  I’ll apply a bit of petroleum jelly to the bit to assure the briar putty patch will not stick to the bit.  Earlier, when communicating with Jim, my thinking was that I would simply plane the facing to remove the damage.  With this always being an option, my thinking now is to start with a patch, sand and shape – go from this point with the value on keeping as much briar as possible.The final prep area is a few small pits on the stummel surface that have old fill material in them.  I dig the old material out with a dental probe which will be refilled with briar putty.I clean all the patch areas with a cotton pad and alcohol in preparation for applying the briar putty.Using BSI Maxi Cure Extra Thick CA glue, I mix it with briar dust to form the putty.  I use a plastic disc as a mixing palette and place Scotch Tape on that simply to aid in cleaning.  I’m not sure if I can apply patch to the 3 areas in one batch, but I’ll start with the rim – the largest project.  I place a pile of briar dust on the palette and then a larger dollop of Extra Thick CA glue next to it.Using a toothpick, I gradually mix the briar dust into the glue until it thickens.  When it reaches the viscosity of molasses, I use the toothpick to apply the putty to the rim allowing for excess to be sanded and shaped later. What the following pictures show is that I was only able to address the rim patching with the first batch of briar dust putty.  As I applied the briar dust putty to the rim, I went in stages using an accelerator to quicken the curing and to hold the putty in place. I mix another batch of briar dust putty on the palette and again apply the putty to the shank facing and the pits.  As before, the use of an accelerator quickens the curing and holds the patch material in place. With a little nudge and twist the bit comes out easily with the help of some petroleum jelly.  The mortise circumference looks good though the patch needs to be sanded and shaped.The obvious next step is a lot of filing and sanding.  I start with filing.  I use both a flat and half circle pointed needle files to work on the excess putty.  I start with the rim by first filing down on the rim top to flatten the plane.  The pictures chronicle the progress. With the top rough filing completed, I move to the outer edge of the rim.The repairs are starting to show some promise!  Now to the inner rim edge.  This is critical in seeking to establish an even circumference.  I start with the slow approach of filing to get it right.  I finish up by loading a sanding drum onto the Dremel and fine-tune the edge and to smooth the transitions in the chamber from the patch material to the chamber wall.  I don’t want to leave ridges. Wow!  I showed this finished rough of the rim to my wife and she said with lessening skepticism that this pipe might just come back to life!Next, I quickly dispatch the two small fills under one glob of putty patch with the flat needle file.Finally, the filing is almost finished.  The flat needle file also goes to work on the shank facing and on the outer edge.  I’m very careful with filing the shank facing because too much removed can offset the proper seating of the tenon and create gaps between shank and stem. I also use the half-rounded needle file to create the sharp bevel on the edge of the mortise which accommodates the tenon’s base. After filing, I join the stem with the stummel to see how well the stem seats.  With some gaps, I do a bit more filing and finally I have the fit as good as I can get it.  It looks good!Now, back to the rim.  To even the rim, I take the stummel back to the topping board with 240 grade paper and give the stummel a few more rotations.  This helps blend the filing.The speckling of the putty patches is expected.  I’ll address this later when applying stain to the stummel which should take care of the contrast.  I want to smooth the inner and outer edges of the rim by applying a bevel. For the internal bevel, a hard bevel is the aim so a hard surface is used behind the 240 grade paper to provide a uniform edge.The internal bevel looks great.In addition to the internal bevel, I do a light sanding of the external rim edge simply to soften the edge and to remove any nicks and cuts.Next, I take the stummel back to the topping board covered now with 600 grade paper and rotate the stummel several times.Using both 240 and 600 grade papers, I sand both patches – the two fills and the shank facing.Now, to address the cuts, nicks and small pits of the very worn stummel surface, I’m hopeful that sanding sponges will be adequate to clean and smooth the briar surface so that I won’t need to employ more coarse sanding papers. I take the first 2 pictures to mark the start for comparison. I use first the coarse grade sponge followed by medium and light grades.  I’m careful throughout to guard the nomenclature on both sides of the shank.  Wow!  The grain underneath the old dark finish starts to make an appearance! On a roll, I continue the stummel sanding with the full regimen of 9 micromesh pads.  To begin, using pads 1500 to 2400, wet sanding is employed.  Following this, I dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  I’m amazed at the emergence of very nice grain – a horizontal grain on the fore of the bowl with large swirls of bird’s eye grain occupying the flanks.  Nice! There is no question regarding the next step.  Applying Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye to the stummel should do a good job of masking the rather large patches on the rim and shank facing.  Another benefit of using dye is to utilize the technique I’ve developed with the use of the Dremel using felt cloth buffing wheels to bring out the grain in striking ways.  I assemble the desktop staining station.After wiping the stummel down with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean the surface, I heat the stummel with the use of a hot air gun.  This step is important as it expands the briar grain as the bowl heats, and this helps the wood to be more receptive to the dye.After the stummel is warmed, I use a folded over pipe cleaner to apply the dye which I’ve poured into a shot glass.  As I paint sections of the stummel with the dye-saturated pipe cleaner, I immediately ‘flame’ the dye with the lit candle.  This immediately combusts the alcohol in the aniline dye leaving behind the hue.  I work over the entire stummel thoroughly by applying dye and firing until the surface is fully covered.  I then put the stummel aside to ‘rest’ for several hours – till tomorrow in this case.  This ‘resting’ helps the dye to set more securely in the briar with less chance of the dye coming off on the hands of the new steward who fires the pipe up for the inauguration.With the newly stained bowl ‘resting’ I turn to the stem.  I take a closer look at the upper and lower bit.  There are bite compressions on both sides that need to be addressed.I first use the heating method.  Using a Bic lighter, I paint the upper and lower bit with flame to heat the vulcanite.  As the vulcanite heats it expands and hopefully the compressions will expand to the original condition – or closer to it.  The flame method did help but the compressions are still visible but lessened.Next, I utilize a flat needle file to freshen the button and with 240 paper sand out the compressions.Following the 240 sanding, with the help of a plastic disk to prevent shouldering, I wet sand the entire stem with 600 grade paper and follow with 000 grade steel wool.Next, the full set of nine micromesh pads are used.  With pads 1500 to 2400, wet sanding is applied.  Then 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.  I like the pop of newly micromeshed stems! The morning has come, and the dye has set in the grain of the Comoy’s The Lumberman.  Time to ‘unwrap’ the crusted shell that now encases the pipe.  To do this, a felt cloth buffing wheel is mounted on the Dremel with the speed reduced to the lowest.  The decreases the heating factor of the rougher felt material. To unwrap I use Tripoli compound applying it with the felt wheel methodically over the stummel surface. The felt buffing wheel needs purging often to remove the ‘crust’ buildup.  I take a picture to show the unwrapping process which reveals a beautiful grain underneath! – and yes, during the staining and unwrapping process I wear surgical gloves! After completing the stummel proper with the felt wheel, I briefly change to a cotton cloth wheel to reach into the crook of the bowl and shank junction with Tripoli which the felt wheel was not able to reach.After the unwrapping process is completed, a very light wipe with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol helps to blend the newly stained surface.  With the aniline dye, if I wanted to lighten the finish, I could have applied more wiping.  This I do not do because I’m liking the dark brown finish very much and how well it is masking the repairs!With the Tripoli completed, another cotton cloth buffing wheel is mounted onto the Dremel, the speed is increased to about 40% full power, and after reuniting the Canadian stem and stummel, Blue Diamond compound is applied to the entire pipe.To clean the surface of leftover compound dust, which tends to cake up, I give the pipe a buffing with a felt cloth preparing the surface for the application of wax.After replacing the cotton buffing wheel used for applying Blue Diamond, another is mounted dedicated to the application of carnauba wax.  With the speed remaining the same at about 40% full power, carnauba wax is applied to both stem and stummel.  After completed, using a microfiber cloth, the shine is raised through a rigorous buffing.One more step and this Comoy’s The Lumberman Special will be completed.  To provide a ‘cake-starter’ for the new chamber and to provide a buffer for the patch repair work, which is on the upper rim level, a layer of a mixture of natural, non-flavored Bulgarian yogurt and charcoal dust does the job.  This mixture hardens like a rock providing a surface to start a new protective layer of carbon cake.  The thickness of this cake should be no more than the thickness of a US dime to provide optimal performance.  After placing a dollop of yogurt in a small Chinese rice cup, some charcoal dust is added until it thickens somewhat – not running off the pipe nail.  After pushing a pipe cleaner through the draft hole to protect it from being blocked, using the pipe nail as a trowel, I very carefully apply the mixture evenly over the chamber walls – avoiding drippage on the freshly waxed external surface!  It looks good! I am amazed.  I initially described this sorry pipe as a Nightmare without any expectations that it could again be described as hedging on pristine.  Yet, that is exactly what I am seeing – a very attractive Comoy’s The Lumberman Special Canadian.  What are also amazing to witness, even if I’m watching the work of my own hands, are the step by step logical, mechanical and artistic processes woven together toward certain micro outcomes resulting in a restored pipe.  Yet, this pipe wasn’t restored, but resurrected to be sure.  The rim repair, both with the fills and the reconstruction of a round presentation, is satisfying to behold. The grain now revealed from underneath the grime and years of use is striking.  Jim commissioned the ‘Nightmare’ from the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” ONLY! collection and that itself was pretty amazing that he could see the potential.  As the commissioner, Jim will have the first opportunity to claim the Comoy’s The Lumberman Special from The Pipe Steward Store benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Lest we forget, I start with a few ‘before’ pictures. Thanks for joining me!

 

 

An Unexpected Button Rebuild Recommissioning a French Butz Choquin Festival of St Claude 1305


Blog by Dal Stanton

I remember well where I found this very nice looking Butz Choquin Festival.  Living in Bulgaria, I have had the opportunity to visit our neighbor to the south several time – Greece.  We were with a group of interns who were participating in our summer training program in Sofia which included a field trip to visit the ancient city of Athens.  It is an amazing city with the Parthenon towering over the city set atop the acropolis right next to Mars Hill where the Apostle Paul made his historic stand arguing with the Greek philosophers.  Since I had seen these sites several times before, while the group of interns went hiking in that direction, I went in another toward the Ministirski area to do some pipe picking – one of my favorite pastimes!

This area has many secondhand stores and antique shops with hidden treasures that lurk in the most unexpected places – I couldn’t pass up this opportunity!  There happened to be a Flea Market in session near the ancient meat market area and it was there that I found the BC Festival now on my worktable.  I spied a cluster of pipes amidst coins, bracelets and knock-off sunglasses.  The lady vendor had some very nice pipes but the asking prices started too close to the stratosphere and my pocketbook was a bit closer to earth!  I decided to focus my attention on the French BC Festival.  The shape number is 1305 which pointed to the very shapely Bent Billiard I was focused on.  What attracted me was the very full bowl/shank transition continuing to a full stem bending toward the zenith.  It also had a very solid feel in the palm – one of those pipe whisperer moments – “Take me home!” After some serious negotiating, I think I got a good deal and the BC Festival came home with me and has been waiting for a new steward in my online collection, ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’. This is where a few months later, Michael from Kansas, wrote asking about the BC Festival.  After we communicated a bit, he commissioned the BC and he wrote this:

Sounds good! I saw this post on Facebook in the Gentlemen’s Pipe Club and was interested. I was taken by your work and wanted to know more.  I’m from the states (Kansas to be exact). Smack dab in the middle. Currently it’s 17 degrees out and a nice pipe sounds pretty tasty.  I’m looking forward to seeing this beauty restored.

I appreciated Michael’s words and I also appreciate his patience!  The Butz Choquin Festival he commissioned benefits our work here in Bulgaria with the Daughters of Bulgaria – working with women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  The attractive BC is now on my worktable and I take more pictures for a closer look at this Athens find: The nomenclature is stamped on the left flank of the shank and reads in fancy cursive, ‘Butz Choquin’ [over] ‘Festival’.  The right shank side is stamped with a curved ST. CLAUDE [over] FRANCE [over] 1305.  A very thin, ghosted ‘BC’ is stamped on the left side of the stem.I’ve had the opportunity to restore several pipes from the center of French pipe making, St. Claude.  As a refresher, Pipedia provides this information about the origins of Butz Choquin:

Jean-Baptiste Choquin of Metz started out as a tobacconist. This enterprise was prosperous; he had several employees. Among those, there was a certain Gustave Butz who was its first workman and who became his son-in-law by marrying Choquin’s daughter Marie in 1858.  In 1858 Jean-Baptiste Choquin created, in collaboration with Gustave Butz, the Choquin pipe. This bent pipe with a flat-bottomed bowl was finished with an albatross-bone mouthpiece, fixed with silver rings.  In 1858, still in Metz, Gustave Butz built an establishment for the manufacture of the Choquin pipe which took the name of [Butz-Chochin]. In 1951, the Berrod-Regad company bought the trademark, continuing manufacture until 2002. Departing from Metz, the workshop was relocated to Saint-Claude, then also called ‘the world capital of the briar pipe,’ under the Berrod-Regad group. The Berrod-Regad group would go on to completely rebuild the network of representatives until finally entering the export market in 1960 and has since won several prizes, as well as the Gold Cup of French good taste.

In a few years, the brand’s collection increased from ten to seventy series. 135 years after it was founded, the pipe is still well-known not only in France but throughout the world. In 2002, the Berrod family, wishing to preserve manufacture of pipes in Saint-Claude, handed over the company to Fabien Guichon, a native of the area, who will continue to develop the brand during the 21st century.

The condition of the Festival on my worktable is generally good.  The chamber is clean, and I will soon find out whether the cleaning of the chamber is true also of the internals.  The external briar surface appears only to need a sprucing up, but with a closer look, I find several pockets and dents over the surface.  This will require some work to fill the pockets and to try raising the dents. I take a few pictures to show these challenges. The grain is very nice and expressive – this guy will clean up nicely.  The stem shows some oxidation and the bit has distinct biting compressions on the upper and lower bit.  This will be addressed. To begin the recommissioning this commissioned Butz-Choquin Festival, I address the oxidation issues of the stem using Before & After Deoxidizer.  I clean several stems of other pipes in the queue at the same time.  To preserve the Deoxidizer solution, I first run pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95% through the stem’s airway to clean it.  Unfortunately, when I inserted a pipe cleaner into the BC’s airway, I discover it is blocked.  By measuring the pipe cleaners’ progress, the blockage is toward the button.  I try blowing through the airway and it is rock-solid blocked.  Since, I’m in the conveyer line of cleaning, I move forward with the deoxidation process first.After soaking in the B&A Deoxidizer for several hours, I fish out the BC’s stem and wipe it down to remove raised oxidation with cotton pads wetted with isopropyl 95%. I apply paraffin oil to begin rejuvenating the vulcanite stem and I set it aside to absorb.Before moving on, I need to figure out how to clear the airway of the blockage.  From the button, the blockage begins about 1/2 inch from the end of the stem.  When reaching with a pipe cleaner from the tenon side and measuring, the blockage appears to be about a 1/4 inch of blockage. I use the straightest dental probes I have and reach into the stem airway to extract the blockage.  The dental probes both have spurs on the topside of the metal points which prove useful in hooking and pulling out debris. What I start pulling out with the probes appears to be paper, of course shredded at this point.  I have no idea how paper would be lodged in the stem.  This method has some success, but soon the probes’ effectiveness is nullified by the bend in the stem. After some time of using the probe and realizing diminishing returns, I decide to straighten the stem to reduce the pressure in the bend.  I heated the stem with the hot air gun to do this.  As the vulcanite heats, I’m able to unbend the stem.  What I forgot to picture was the use of a drill bit that fit into the airway from the mortise side.  As I heat the vulcanite and as it unbent, I wedged the drill bit further into the airway.  I did this to keep the airway straight and it works well.  The downside was that the drill bit was not long enough to do the full job.With the stem straightened, I’m able to continue with some success the use of the dental probes. I use a long stiff wire to push from the tenon side, and then dig more with the dental probes from the button side.  The progress is slow.Progress was slow but unfortunately, overzealousness reaching with the dental probe cracked the button.  Ugh!  What I failed to do is to take into consideration the gradually expanding shaft of the probe that pushed outwardly on the slot and the rest is history.  Doing repairs on a pipe one is restoring is one thing.  Creating more problems for a restoration is not what we aim for!  I take a few closeups of the cracks – not a pretty picture!  I decide to continue carefully digging out the blockage.  Eventually, the paper, or whatever, is extricated and I’m able to run a pipe cleaner through.  This took a lot of time and unfortunately, friendly fire damage to the button to open the airway must now be addressed.I proceed with the stem repairs.  Before addressing the button damage – cracks and bite compressions, I re-bend the stem to restore it to the original profile.  Again, after placing a pipe cleaner through the stem to protect the airway integrity, I heat the vulcanite stem with the hot air gun, but I first focus on heating and bending the thicker section of the stem.  If I heat the whole stem at once to make one bend, the thinner part of the stem, toward the button, will accept the bend much easier and this will create a more severe end bend appearance rather than a gentle curve throughout. When the thicker portion of the stem becomes supple and willing to be shaped, I place it over a miniature cue ball #15 and gently shape the fat part of the stem.   I hold it in position over the ball for a few minutes allowing the vulcanite to cool and firm its position.  Then, holding the bend in place I take it to the sink to cool the rubber further under cool tap water.   I forgot to picture the current state of the stem’s orientation, but in the picture below you can see that the end of the stem is still shooting out straight without any bend.With the fat part of the stem’s bend solidified, I then take the stem back to the hot air gun heating the thinner section which softens much more rapidly.  When supple, I again take it to #15 and finish the bend.  My aim is to have the end of the stem’s trajectory parallel with the plane of the rim.  The finished bend looks good.  I move on.Now, I take another close look at the cracks and button biting problems.  Normally, at this point I would attempt to raise and expand the compressed vulcanite using the flame method – painting the vulcanite with the flame of a Bic lighter.  With the cracks, and a desire to salvage the stem as it is without the whole button cracking off, I also want to apply CA glue to weld the cracks together.  The question in my mind is concerning the composition of the CA glue.  If I apply CA glue now, before applying the heating method, will the composition of the CA glue be a problem if I then heat it?  If I use the flame first and then glue it, will the ‘new’ contour of the bit hinder gluing cleanly…  Or, should I forgo using the flame method?  Questions….Using regular clear CA glue, I apply a line of glue over the cracks.  I stress flex the cracked button a small amount allowing the thinner glue to seep into the cracks more efficiently.  My hope is that this will form a solid weld.After the clear CA glue cures, I go to work on the upper button repair.  I use a flat needle file to redefine the button lip and follow by sanding with 240 grade paper.  The crack is still visible at this point, but the repair appears to be solid.Flipping over to the lower bit, it has serious bite compressions and the button lip has been chewed.  I take a starting picture before using the flame technique to raise the compressed vulcanite.  I use a Bic lighter to paint the area with flame and as the vulcanite heats it expands and reclaims the original position of the stem – or at least in theory.After painting with the flame, there isn’t a substantive change in the compressions.  Using a medium thick black CA glue, I apply glue to the bit filling the compressed areas.  I also apply the glue to the button lip edge and put the stem aside for the glue to cure.With so much attention drawn to the challenges of the stem – obstruction, cracked button to repair and compressions, it’s been awhile since the stummel was in view.  Returning now to the regular rhythm of the restoration, with the stem put to the side, I now turn to cleaning the stummel.  There is no cake build up in the chamber and to clean the briar I use a piece of 240 grade sanding paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen and sand the chamber.Next, using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap, I scrub the stummel using cotton pads.  The gunk on the rim comes off easily.  Then, taking the stummel to the sink, I rinse it with warm tap water.  Continuing the cleaning in the mortise and airway, I use shank brushes with a bit of anti-oil dish soap and scrub the internals.  After a thorough rinsing, I bring the stummel back to the worktable.I continue the internal cleaning using pipe cleaners, cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 95%.  A dental spoon assists in scraping oils and tar build-up off the sides of the mortise.  After some effort, the pipe cleaners and buds start to lighten, and I call it clean for now.  I’ll continue later with a kosher salt and alcohol soak to clean further.Looking at the external briar surface, I identified earlier a couple pits that need filling.  I use a dental probe to clean out the pits before filling. After wiping the surface with alcohol to clean, I go to work mixing briar dust and BSI Extra Thick CA Glue.  I do the mixing on an index card after covering a patch with scotch tape.  I use the tape to keep the moisture of the glue from being absorbed into the card stock. After putting a small mound of briar dust on the tape, I add a small puddle of CA glue next to it.  Using the toothpick as my stirrer and trowel, I pull small amounts of the briar dust into the puddle and stir with the toothpick as I go.  After the putty begins to thicken – about the consistency of molasses, I trowel the putty with the toothpick to fill the pits. The end of the toothpick is used to knead the putty before it begins to harden which hopefully minimizes air bubbles from being trapped.   I put the stummel aside for some hours for the putty patches to cure. The black CA glue filling the lower bit tooth compressions has cured.Using a flat needle file, I file carefully and gently remove the excess patch material and to form the button lip.After the file brings the patch material down to the stem surface, I sand using 240 grade paper to remove more patch material and to smooth.  I like the results.There are ripple marks in the vulcanite on the lower side at the bend.  These ripples developed when I re-bent the stem after clearing the airway obstruction.  I expand the sanding to smooth this area as well as the upper side of the stem. First, 240 grade paper is employed then following with 470 grade over the entire stem. Finally, I wet sand the stem using 600 grade paper.  Throughout the sanding process, I’ve avoided sanding the ‘BC’ stamping on the stem, which is already ghosting.  I follow the 600 grade paper with 0000 steel wool over the entire stem.  The repairs on the upper and lower bit are looking good.  I’m hopeful!The slot is rough.  A pointed, rounded needle file does a good job smoothing the slot edges.  Following the file, 240 grade paper finishes the edges well.The briar putty filling the pits on the stummel have cured.  Before sanding these, earlier, along with the pits, one dent was detected on the fore of the stummel.  I take another look at it before powering my wife’s iron.  Wood is porous and has sponge-like characteristics when exposed to heat and moisture.  To draw out the dent, I use the heat of the iron while pressing it on a wetted cloth against the dent – I use a cotton handkerchief, to ‘steam’ the dent.  I have been amazed how this has helped with previous restorations.  I take a close-up to show the dent with the help of the arrows.  I’ll use this picture to compare with the ‘after’ steaming picture. The procedure worked. The dent is gone as hoped!  Moving on.Next, using a flat needle file and following with 240 grade sanding paper, I go to work removing the excess briar putty on the 3 patches.  For each, I first apply the file over the patches by filing them down very close to the briar surface without slipping off the patches and causing collateral damage to the surrounding briar.  I then use 240 paper to bring the patch flush with the briar surface.  The pictures show the progress with each patch. The rim cleaned up nicely before but a residual ring of darkened briar on the internal edge of the rim from mild charring.Using 240 sanding paper, I gently sand the rim and I go with the slight internal beveling to remove the darkened briar.  I follow the 240 sanding with a quick 600 grit sanding.  The results look good.  The sanding does not impact the patina.To clean the briar surface further of minor nicks and scratching, I employ 3 sanding sponges – coarse, medium and light grade sponges.  I like using sanding sponges as they are gentler and are not as invasive as regular sanding papers.  After using each in succession, the briar surface looks good and the grain is emerging with nice bird’s eye patterns.From the sanding sponges, the full regimen of 9 micromesh pads is used by first wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400 and then dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  The pictures show the progression. Before proceeding further with the external briar surface conditioning, the internal cleaning is continued using the kosher salt and alcohol soak.  This not only cleans the internal briar more but freshens the pipe for the new steward.  Using a cotton ball, I pull and twist the cotton to form a wick to insert into the mortise and airway.  This ‘wick’ serves to draw the oils and tars out of the internal walls.I use a stiff piece of hanger wire to help guide the wick down through the airway. After the wick is in place, I fill the bowl with kosher salt which has no after taste and place the stummel in an egg carton for stability.  Next, using a large eye dropper, the bowl is filled with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes when the alcohol has been absorbed, the bowl is topped off once more.  I put the stummel aside for several hours allowing the soak to do its thing.With the stummel on the sidelines, attention is turned to the stem to apply the full regimen of micromesh pads.  Before starting, to guard against over-zealousness in sanding, a small piece of masking tape is cut and covers the ghosted ‘BC’ stem stamping.  The Butz Choquin stamp is on its last legs and I do not wish to add to its deteriorated condition!  Next, using pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand the stem.  Following this, using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000, I dry sand.  Between each set of three pads Obsidian Oil is applied to the stem which aids in rejuvenating the vulcanite. After several hours, the kosher salt and alcohol soak resulted in soiled salt and wick.  I toss the expended salt in the waste and wipe the chamber with a paper towel as well as blow through the mortise to remove salt crystals.  To make sure the internals are clean, I run a few more cotton buds and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95% through the mortise and airway and all looks good.  Moving on.Next, with the cleaning complete, Before & After Restoration Balm is applied to the stummel by putting some on my fingers and rubbing it in to the briar surface.  I like the Balm because it brings out the subtle hues of the natural briar.  The Balm begins with a cream-like consistency and gradually thickens as it is massaged into the briar.  After applying the Balm, the stummel is set aside for about 15 or 20 minutes while the Balm is absorbed.  I take a picture during this state.  Following this, using a cloth I wipe the excess Balm away and buff the stummel with a microfiber cloth.  With the B&A Restoration process completed, I reunite Butz Choquin Festival stem and stummel and after mounting a cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel, setting speed at 40% of full power, I apply Blue Diamond compound to the pipe.  When I finish, using a felt cloth I buff the pipe to remove the compound dust before applying the wax.  After applying the Blue Diamond, I take a closer look at the stem repair on the button and I’m not satisfied with what I’m seeing.  The button lip where the crack was repaired is not smooth.  I use a dental probe to test the seam of the repair and the piece of the button I tried to salvage pops off.  Well, the button repair was not successful and I’m glad that I discover this before shipping it off to a new steward!  I take a picture to show the break and new challenge.My second approach to repairing this button will be to mix activated charcoal and Extra Thick CA glue to form a patch material.  I first clean the area with alcohol then form an insert made from index card stock.  I form a cone with a pipe cleaner inserted through it.  The end of the cone is covered with scotch tape and I coat it with a small amount of petroleum jelly to prevent sticking with the CA glue.  The cone inserts into the open slot with the pipe cleaner in the airway.Next, I mix activated charcoal and Extra Thick CA glue.  I first cover a piece of index card with scotch tape so that the glue is not absorbed into the card stock.  After putting a small mound of charcoal on the card, I then put a small puddle of CA glue next to the charcoal.  Using a toothpick, I pull charcoal dust into the glue and mix as I go.  To thicken the patch material, I draw more charcoal into the mixture.  When it is about the thickness of molasses, I trowel the patch material with the toothpick and apply it to the bit. I fill the slot cavity and cover the entire button lip.  I do this to provide the foundation for filing and shaping a new button.  After applying the patch material, I set the stem aside, turn out the light and leave it to cure through the night.The next morning, with a little jiggling, the card stock wedge comes out of the slot.The view toward the ‘raw’ end of the stem.Using a flat needle file, the excess is first removed from the end of the stem and then the file is used to shape the rebuilt button.  The change in the work surface reveals that I’m enjoying a sunny day on our 10th floor balcony which I call my ‘Man Cave’.  First a picture of me enjoying a bowl while I work!  After filing to shape the button and slot, I use 240 grade paper to smooth further and remove excess patch material.After the 240 paper, I use in succession, 470, 600 and 000 steel wool to work on the surface. As I sand and smooth the area, the pits emerge which is irritating! I continue to try to figure out how to minimize the air pockets that always emerge after using the CA glue and activated charcoal patch pictured below. To remedy this, I use a regular, thin CA glue to fill the pits by painting the area with a thin film of glue using a toothpick.  After applying the CA glue, I put the stem aside to cure. To remove the excess CA glue, in succession I apply 470, 600 grade papers and 000 steel wool.Next, as before, I apply to the bit area the full 9 micromesh pads from 1500 to 12000 by first wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 and dry sanding from 3200 to 12000.  I apply Obsidian Oil between each set of three.I again apply Blue Diamond compound to the button and bit.  I shine up the stinger that came with the pipe with steel wool and replace it in the tenon.  After reuniting stem and stummel and changing the buffing wheel again to another cotton cloth buffing wheel, maintaining the same speed, I apply a few coats of carnauba wax to stem and stummel.  To complete the restoration, I give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine.

This BC Festival Bent Billiard is a beautiful pipe.  The full Bent Billiard shape has a nice balance and settles well in the hand.  The grain is appealing with a serious patch of bird’s eye covering much of the bowl.  The challenges with the stem obstruction, leading to a friendly fire cracked button was not in the plan!  Yet, the repair is completed, and this French Butz Choquin Festival is ready for a new steward.  Michael will have the first opportunity to secure the BC Festival from The Pipe Steward Store benefiting our work here in Bulgaria working with women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited – the Daughters of Bulgaria.  Thanks for joining me!

Refreshing a Savinelli Dry System 362


Blog by Dal Stanton

I acquired a pair of Savinelli Dry System pipes on the eBay auction block from a seller in Poughkeepsie, New York.  I initially was attracted by the ‘Peterson-like’ description of the pair – ‘Dry System’.  I also liked the tight bend and the ‘Dublin-esque’ bowls.  Both are ¾ bent with a conical bowl – a tight configuration that I liked immediately.  They almost seemed identical, but one had the shape number 362, the one on my worktable now, and the other had 3621.  When I unpacked them here in Bulgaria and took a closer look, I could see the differences.  Both have identical shapes but the 362 is a lighter rusticated finish with a smooth rim.  The 3621 is a darker blasted finish with a blasted rim.  These pictures show the differences.A friend of mine here in Bulgaria, Teo, saw the Savinelli pair on my website in the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’ collection and inquired about them.  I was very happy that he commissioned the 362 to add to his collection which will benefit our work here in Bulgaria with the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited. Pipe smoking is very rare here in my adopted country of Bulgaria.  In the 13 years we have lived and worked in Bulgaria, I can count on one hand how many times I have seen a Bulgarian smoking a pipe!  After restoring the pipe, and if Teo decides to adopt it (it’s not obligatory for those who commission – they have the first opportunity to acquire it), I’ll look forward to sharing a bowl with him!  Here are more pictures of the Savinelli Dry System 362 on my worktable. The smooth underside panel holds the nomenclature.  To the left is stamped ‘DRY SYSTEM’ then the Savinelli ‘S’ logo.  To the right of the logo is 362 [over] ITALY.  The nickel shank cap is stamped on the left side with ‘SAVINELLI’ along with ‘S’ on the topside of the military stem. I found nothing about the Dry System on Pipedia but Pipephil.eu came through with some very helpful information – especially about the shape number differences.  Looking at the Savinelli shapes chart on Pipedia’s Savinelli article, shapes 362 or 3621 were not among those listed.  Pipephil provided this on the Savinelli Dry System with the information that the Dry System could be stamped with either 3 or 4 digits for the shape number:The panel above also references a link comparing Savinelli’s Dry System P-Lip stem with the Peterson standard. I found the most information about the Savinelli Dry System on another site as I broadened my online search.  A South African based tobacconist, Wesley’s  (See LINK), provided a gold mine of information about the Savinelli Dry System:

Launched in 1981, it had taken several years of research into the negative points of existing system pipes, in order to improve on them. Perseverance paid off – by combining trap and filter, and enlarging the smoke hole, Savinelli achieved the “Dry System”, which in our opinion is the best answer to “Wet Smoking” so far developed.

Especially for new pipe smokers, the Savinelli Dry System pipe incorporates everything needed to provide a cool, dry smoke.

The name “Dry” comes from the introduction of the Balsa “filter” into the traditional system pipe – the “System” being the presence of the built-in moisture trap in the shank, linked with the “smokehole on the top” mouthpiece. The balsa mops up the moisture in the smoke hence the term “Dry” system, and if the pipe is smoked without the balsa all that will happen is that this moisture will condense and collect in the trap. It can then either be mopped up with a folded pipe cleaner or flicked out. Just be careful where you flick it!

Put this all together and you can see why we say these are technically our best designed pipes. But the technical qualities are not all these pipes have to offer. Extra bonuses are the feel, the finishes and the balance.

This information marks the genesis of the Savinelli Dry System line in 1981. Added to this information, Wesley’s included the following benefits of the Savinelli system with a helpful cut-away showing the internals:The description of the ‘smokehole’ of the mouthpiece, is interesting in the way it disperses the smoke so that it avoids tongue burn as well as keeping moisture entering the stem from the mouth. The trademark filtering system is also optional – use of the balsa insert which I use with great satisfaction with some of my own Savinellis.  Yet, even if you do not utilize the absorbing qualities of the balsa insert, the built-in moisture trap will hold the moisture for clean-up after smoking.  Sounds good!

Wesley’s Tobacconist also included this helpful Shapes Chart for the Savinelli Dry System pipes. The description for the 3621 suggests:

Regular shapes 3613 & 3621 are ideal for the new pipe smoker or for a short smoke for anybody.

As I look at the Savinelli Dry System 362 now on my worktable, I’m wondering if it too is actually a 3621 and the craftsman applying the rustication was a bit overzealous.  I take a close-up to show that the latter half of ‘ITALY’ also succumbed to the rustication!Notwithstanding, this 362* is a sharp looking pipe in relatively good condition.  The chamber shows moderate cake build-up and the smooth, internally beveled rim is darkened with some lava buildup.  The rustication process is very tight and attractive and only needs some cleaning of the normal grime buildup.  The nickel shank cap will shine up nicely.  The Savinelli P-Lip stem has a good bit of oxidation and the P-Lip button shows almost no biting damage.  Overall, I’m hopeful of a smooth cleanup!  I begin the restoration by cleaning the airway of the stem with a pipe cleaner dipped in isopropyl 95% and then I place the stem in a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer along with other pipes in the queue.   My wife captured this Pipe Steward cameo appearance at the worktable! After several hours in the soak, I fish out the Savinelli stem and wipe it down with cotton pads wetted with alcohol to remove the raised oxidation.  I also run pipe cleaners through the airway to clear the excess Deoxidizer.  I can attest to the fact that this P-Lip stem is easier to clean than the Peterson version!To begin rejuvenating the vulcanite, a coat of paraffin oil on the stem does the job and I put the Savinelli P-Lip aside to absorb the oil.The chamber has a moderate cake build up and removing it to give the briar a fresh start and to inspect the chamber walls is the next step.Using only the smallest blade head of the Pipnet Reaming Kit, it becomes clear very soon how quickly the canonical chamber narrows toward the floor.  I do not force the blade downward with much pressure to avoid digging into the lower chamber wall to form a reaming ledge. This has been evident on several pipes where I’ve seen the results of overzealous reaming.  Utilizing the Savinelli Fitsall tool next, the blade is better suited to the contours of the chamber wall.  To remove the final carbon residue from the chamber wall, sanding the walls with a Sharpie Pen wrapped with 240 grade paper does the job well.  Finally, the chamber is cleaned of carbon dust with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%. Inspection of the chamber walls reveals a very healthy block of briar.Moving now to cleaning the external briar surface, undiluted Murphy’s Oil soap is applied to a cotton pad to scrub the rim and rusticated surface.  A bristled toothbrush also works well on the rough surface freeing it of dirt and grime.  Utilizing both a brass bristled brush and the sharp edge of the Winchester pocketknife, the darkened areas on the rim give way.  With a very gentle touch with the blade, the excess carbon gives way on the rim and the sharp internal bevel.  Taking the stummel to the sink and using warm water the cleaning continues with anti-oil dish soap and shank brushes to clean the internals.  After thoroughly rinsing, the internal cleaning continues at the worktable with pipe cleaners and cotton buds wetted with isopropyl 95%. As cotton buds are dipped in and out of the mortise, the schematic of the internals included above comes to mind.  Without doubt, the trap system works!  What a muck of gunk is excavated from the trap as dental spatula and spoon are utilized to scrape the mortise walls and trap.  Finally, cotton buds and pipe cleaners start emerging lighter and I move on with clean internals left behind.Before moving on to the stem, I decide to apply the coup de grâce to the internal cleaning process first.  While working on the stem, a kosher salt and alcohol soak will continue the cleaning passively and freshen the bowl for the new steward.  I form a mortise ‘wick’ first by pulling and stretching a cotton ball.  I guide the end of the wick into the airway cut-away with the help of a stiff wire.  Following this, more of the cotton wick is stuffed down into the trap.  With the wick in place, after kosher salt is added almost filling the chamber, the stummel is placed in an egg crate providing stability to the operation.  Using a large eye dropper, isopropyl 95% is then added to the bowl until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes the alcohol is absorbed, the bowl is topped off with alcohol once again and the bowl is set aside to allow the soak to do its thing. Moving now to the stem, closeups of the upper- and lower-bit area show little tooth compression damage but the condition of the vulcanite is very rough.This is addressed by sanding the entire stem with 240 and 470 grade papers followed by wet sanding with 600 grade paper and finishing by applying 000 steel wool – throughout, care is given to sand around the Savinelli ‘S’ stamping on the upper side. Straight away, using the full regimen of micromesh pads, with pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand, followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads an application of Obsidian Oil further rejuvenates the vulcanite.  The stem looks great and I put it aside and turn to the bowl. The stummel has benefited from a kosher salt and alcohol soak through the night.  The soiled salt and wick reveal the extricating process of drawing the tars and oils out of the internal briar.  After clearing the used salt to the waste and blowing through the bowl and wiping it out with paper towel, to make sure all is cleaned and refreshed, another pipe cleaner and cotton bud are wetted with isopropyl 95% and inserted.  They reveal almost no soiling.  All is clean and I move on.Looking at the smooth rim, it is attractive and shows very nice potential of contrasting rough briar and smooth briar grain.  I appreciate contrasting briar textures in a pipe’s presentation.The rim has scratches and residual discoloration. To address this, both 240 and 600 grade papers are utilized to sand the rim and freshen the distinctive internal bevel.  Sanding very lightly, the patina is preserved while still cleaning the top surface.To now fully bring out the grain, I sand the rim with the full battery of micromesh pads – wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400 and from 3200 to 12000 dry sanding does the job.  I’m really liking how this Savinelli Dry System is shaping up!I take another close look at the Savinelli rusticated surface. I’m attracted to the tight, distinct pattern of the rustication.  The reddish hue stands out nicely. I always look forward to the application of Before & After Restoration Balm to briar surfaces – both smooth and rough.  The effect of deepening of the hues subtly is why I like this product.  I apply some of the Balm to my fingers and rub it in very thoroughly over the rustication and rim.  As I’ve described before, the Balm starts with a cream-like viscosity and gradually thickens into a wax-like consistency as it is worked into the briar surface.  After the application of Balm is completed, it stands for about 20 minutes ( the next two pictures below) and then using a cloth I wipe off the excess and buff up the surface with a microfiber cloth.  I love the results! Before moving on with the next stage, the nickel shank cap needs addressing.  It is somewhat colored and dirty with fine scratches.  It will shine up nicely.To do the initial cleaning, Tarn-X is a product I acquired in the US and it works well.  After applying some of the solution with a cotton pad and scrubbing the nickel, I rinse it with tap water and dry. I’m careful to keep the solution off the briar.  It does a great job.After the cleaning with Tarn-X is complete, there remains the roughness of wear and tear shown in the picture below.To address this, a dedicated cotton cloth buffing wheel is mounted onto the Dremel with a speed set at about 40% full power and I apply Blue Diamond compound to address the scratches and fine lines in the nickel.  I’m careful to keep the wheel over the nickel and not overrun on the briar.  This process can stain the briar very easily with a blackish hue.  Not good.The results are great providing Savinelli shank cap bling!Moving on with Blue Diamond compound, I mount another cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel, maintain the same speed and apply the compound to the smooth briar rim and stem.  I do not apply the compound to the rusticated briar surface.  I’m afraid it will gum-up the surface and be a bear to clean.Looking more closely at the stem…, well, my OCD pipe restoration tendencies would not allow me to ignore some residual oxidation making an appearance as I fine tune the buffing with the compound.  The next picture, lightened to show what I’m seeing, reveals the oxidation around the ‘S’ stamping as well on the edges of the hump of the stem rise.   The stamping was intentionally protected from sanding to preserve the Savinelli ‘S’.  Yet, I’m not satisfied with the wide birth of oxidation that I’ve left!  And the residue on the sides – just will not do.I begin a more conservative approach to remove these vestiges of oxidation.  I start with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser with little success.Then I use Before & After Fine and Extra fine polishes which are supposed to continue the oxidation removal process.  I apply the polishes successively, rubbing in then wiping off.  The polishes may have helped marginally. Not satisfied, sanding with 470, then 600 following again by applying 000 steel addresses the oxidation.As before, the full regimen of micromesh pads from 1500 to 12000 precedes applying Blue Diamond compound with the Dremel.  I’m satisfied with the results this time around! The oxidation encompassing the ‘S’ stamping is much tighter now and the oxidation spots that were on both sides of the hump have been eradicated. I move on.Before applying the final touch of polishing with carnauba wax, I freshen the Savinelli ‘S’ stem stamping using white acrylic paint. I spread some paint over the stamping and daub it with a cotton pad to remove the excess.  Using a toothpick, I very lightly scrape the paint removing the excess leaving the ‘S’ somewhat filled.  I repeated this process a few times to get it as right as possible.  The paint grips but not perfectly and the final ‘S’ isn’t as solid as I like, but it’s better than it was! To complete the restoration of this nice looking Savinelli Dry Air System 362, after a cotton cloth buffing wheel is mounted onto the Dremel and speed set and 40 percent full power, I apply carnauba wax to the stem and rim.  In applying carnauba to the rusticated surface, I increase the speed to about 60% full power.  This aids the heating and assimilation of the wax into the rougher surface.  After applying a few coats, I give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine.

This Savinelli Dry System came out well.  The rustication is striking, and the deep reddish hues of the finish are a very nice contrast to the smooth briar rim.  The tight bent Dublin-esque fits well in the hand.  I appreciated learning more about the enhancements that Savinelli made to its Dry System and I look forward to hearing whether it truly does provide a step toward the pipe smokers holy grail – a dryer and cooler smoke! Teo commissioned this pipe which benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited, and he will have the first opportunity to acquire it in The Pipe Steward Store.  Thanks for joining me!

A Black Sea Beach Pipe Project: The Third Stanwell Henley Special, Made in Denmark 57 Chimney


Blog by Dal Stanton

This Stanwell Henley Special Chimney is the last of the 3 Stanwell Henley Specials that I obtained off the eBay auction block.  Jim saw the Henley on the online ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’ and he commissioned the Oval Shank Billiard that I restored some time ago (see LINK) pictured in the middle below.  I had also taken notice of the solid craftsmanship of these 3 Danish made pipes, so I just restored the second, the Blasted Saddle Stem Billiard and put it in the Store to also benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria.   Then, I’ve claimed the third, a Chimney, to keep in my personal collection.  But I’ve thrown down the gauntlet on the Henley Chimney – I’ve developed a tradition of restoring a pipe in my personal ‘Help Me!’ basket collection to take with me to the beach on the Black Sea coast where my wife and I enjoy our summer holiday😊.

To review what I know about this Stanwell Henley line, I start with the seller’s information on eBay:

This auction is for three vintage Stanwell, Henley Line estate pipes from the 1950’s-60’s era. All are in good pre-owned condition. The stems are primarily free from teeth marks. The stems do have some fading. All of the stems fit snug and the wooden bowls are free from outstanding blemishes. As seen from top to bottom, the first pipe reads Henley Special #57, the second and third read Henley Special without any numbers seen. All of the pipes read Made in Denmark.

Here are the three Stanwell Henley Specials as I saw them on the eBay auction block.Pictured are the first and second Henley Specials after each was restored are pictured below. The transformation in these beautiful Danish pipes is unbelievable! As I expressed in the previous Stanwell Henley Special restorations, since I started collecting and restoring pipes, I’ve grown in my appreciation for Danish made pipes.  They tend to be stout, well-made pipes.  In my research on the Henley pipes, I have found no conclusive information dating them, but anecdotal information and a the feel of these pipes, I’m confident placing them in the 1950s and 60s. Pipedia’s article on Stanwell pipes simply places the Henley Special line in the list of Stanwell second brands.  The Chimney bound for my collection is identical with what Pipephil.eu provided.   It shows a Henley Chimney with the Fishtail stem slightly bent, along with the distinctive characteristic of a bulging midsection, which attracted me to this pipe!  The difference with the Pipephil listing is that it is blasted – nice.  It also shows an ‘H’ stem stamping.  The Chimney now on my worktable has no stamping on the stem – or it has worn off over time.The dating of the Henleys and this Chimney is elusive.  The only information I found in my initial research that gave any reference to dating isn’t conclusive. I found the following picture on Google images but the link to pipesmokersforum.com.  “Who made this pipe?”   I went to the pipesmokersforum site and searched ‘Henley’ and no reference or article emerged.  Having added this discussion to my research would have been helpful!  The picture I found puts a question mark in the late 50s.  Added to this the eBay seller’s description placing the pipes in the 50s or 60s and I do not know where this information originates.  Even though this information is anecdotal, the dating seems accurate to me based upon the appearance, craftmanship and feel of these pipes. I really like the Chimney stacked shape with a very nice feel in the hand.  I’m attracted to the tall Chimney and the interesting bulging of the bowl about midway.  The other thing that I like is the unique, pinched saddle fishtail stem.  Coupled with the tall bowl, the fishtail gives the pipe an overall sleekness – I like it a lot!

The dimensions of the Henley Chimney are: Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 3/16 inches, Rim width: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber width: 13/16 inches, Chamber depth: 2 inches. With the third Stanwell Henley Special Chimney on the worktable, I take some pictures to get a closer look. Of the 3 Stanwell Henleys I acquired, the nomenclature on this pipe is the clearest.  The left shank flank is stamped in cursive ‘Henley’ [over] SPECIAL.  The right shank side is stamped, MADE IN DENMARK [over] 57.  I assume this to be the shape number.The general condition of the Henley Chimney is good.  The chamber has thick cake buildup – but not has heavy as the other Henleys.  The rim has caked gunk and the smooth briar surface has grime and dirt and needs cleaning.  The one aspect of the stummel that is strange,  are the dark areas on the upper and lower shank.  These spots look like they’ve been scorched, but a shank usually isn’t the source of high temperatures.  I’ll have to wait to see what the cleaning does with these spots.  I take a few pictures to show what I see.The Pinched Saddle Fishtail stem has oxidation and some tooth compression – mainly on the lower bit.  To begin the restoration of the Stanwell Henley Special Chimney, I add it to a bath of Before & After Deoxidizer along with other pipes in the queue to deal with the oxidation in the vulcanite stem.  To keep the Deoxidizer as clean as possible, I first clean the airway using pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%.I then put the stem in the bath and allow it to soak for several hours.When I fish out the Pinched Fishtail stem, I run another pipe cleaner dipped in alcohol through the stem to clear away the excess Deoxidizer.  I then wipe down the stem with a cotton pad also wet with isopropyl 95% to remove the raised oxidation.  The B&A Deoxidizer does a good job.To begin the process of revitalizing the stem, I apply a coat of paraffin oil and rub it into the vulcanite.  I set the stem aside for the oil to absorb.Turning back to the stummel, I begin the cleaning process by reaming the chamber.  I take a starting picture and the last unsmoked baccy is seen on the floor of the chamber. Like the other Henleys, this one has thick cake.  I’m wondering if this Henley will have as much heating damage as the Blasted Saddle Stem Billiard I just restored.  I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit to ream starting with the smallest blade head.  The cake is hard, but the blade eventually works through.  I then use 2 more of the blade heads and then switch to the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to do the fine tuning by scraping the chamber walls.  Finally, after wrapping a piece of 240 grit paper around a Sharpie Pen, I sand the chamber walls.  Then, after wiping the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%, I inspect the chamber and I see some minor cracks in the chamber, but nothing requiring major attention. Transitioning now to the external surface, I take a few pictures to mark the start and then using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap, I begin scrubbing.  I’m anxious to see what the cleaning does! I use a cotton pad to scrub the stummel using Murphy’s.  I also use a pocketknife blade to scrape the rim and then I apply a brass wire brush to the rim.  I work on the dark spots on the shank and nothing subdues the discoloration.  I continue the cleaning by taking the stummel to the sink and rinsing it with warm water.  I continue to scrub the briar surface with a bristled toothbrush and using anti-oil liquid dish soap.  I transition to the internals using a shank brush with the liquid dish soap.  I look at the shank and the dark spots are holding on, but they have changed – the spot has roughened in texture.  This gave me the idea – I used the anti-oil dish soap and put a plastic dish scrubby and I apply it to the shank and voila!I’m not sure what the substance was, but it dissolved for which I’m thankful!  I finish by fully rinsing the stummel and bringing it back to the worktable.  I take some ‘after’ pictures showing the cleaned stummel and the areas of the shank.  There still appears to be a discoloration after the stummel dries, but this should dissipate through the further stages of the restoration. I continue the cleaning procedure using cotton buds and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95% to clean the internals of the Henley.  I also use a small dental spoon to scrape the mortise walls to remove old tars and oils.  Through the narrowing of the airway, I also hand turn a drill bit to aid in the excavation of gunk.  After some time, the buds and pipe cleaners are lightening, and I halt this phase of cleaning.To further clean the internals, I use a soak with kosher salt and isopropyl 95%.  I like utilizing this soak as it freshens the stummel and removes old odors.  I begin by pulling and twisting a cotton ball to serve as a ‘wick’ to draw out the old tars and oils that are further expunged from the internal briar.  I insert it into the mortise with a straight wire and then fill the bowl with kosher salt and place the stummel in an egg crate for stability.  I then fill the bowl with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt.  I wait several minutes and after the alcohol has receded, I then top off the alcohol.  Turning off the lights I let the soak work through the night. The next morning, I remove the wick and it has soiled through the night absorbing the tars and oils.  The salt is also discolored showing it has done the job.  I thump the expended salt into the waste basket and clean the salt out of the stummel by wiping with paper towel and blowing through the mortise.  To make sure the cleaning is thorough; I follow by using cotton buds and pipe cleaners again.  After two pipe cleaners and one bud, it is clear the soak did the job.  I move on.Looking now at the rim, there remains a darkened discoloration as a remnant of the lava.  I do not want to top the stummel in order to retain the original patina.  Using a piece of 240 grade I lightly sand the rim, more to clean than to remove briar.  I also lightly sand the inside rim edge to remove darkened briar on the edge. Looking at the stummel, there are very small scratches expected with normal wear. To address this, I use sanding sponges.  A start with a coarse grade sponge, follow with medium grade, and then with the light grade.  Sanding sponges are effective in cleaning the surface in a less invasive way.After the sanding sponges, I move straight away to the full regimen of micromesh pads.  I first wet sand with pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sand with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  The grain emerges very nicely through the process. Next, I apply Before & After Restoration Balm to the Henley Chimney stummel. I’ve been looking forward to this part of the process.  The Restoration Balm does a great job bringing out the subtle tones of the natural briar grain hues. I put some of the Balm on my finger and I rub it in to the briar surface.  It starts with a creamy consistency andthen thickens like a wax.  After applying it thoroughly, I put the stummel aside for about 20 minutes to allow the Balm to do what it does then I use a cloth to wipe the excess Balm and buff up the stummel with a microfiber cloth.The Pinched saddle fishtail stem is waiting to catch up with the stummel.  There are some tooth compressions on the bit, one on the upper and a few on the lower.  I take a fresh picture of these to mark the start.  I will first use the heating method to raise these compressions by painting them with the flame of a Bic lighter.  When heated, the vulcanite expands to reclaim its original shape or closer to it.  After applying the flame, there is a difference that I’ve pictured, before and after of the upper and lower bit. The heating minimized the compressions but did not fully erase them.  I dispatch what is left by sanding the bit with 240 grade paper and I use a needle file on the bit and button.  I refresh the button as well with the file.I wet sand the entire stem with 600 grade paper followed by applying 000 steel wool.Next, the micromesh process.  Using first pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 go 12000.  Between each set of 3 I apply Obsidian Oil to the pinched saddle fishtail stem.  The stem looks great! After reuniting stem and stummel, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel set at 40% of full power and apply Blue Diamond compound to the pipe.  When completed, using a felt cloth, I hand buff the pipe to remove the leftover compound dust in preparation for applying the wax.Again, after changing to another buffing wheel and maintaining the same speed, I apply a few coats of carnauba wax to the Henley.  I finish the restoration after applying the wax with a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine and to blend any excess wax into the surface.The butterscotch hue of this Chimney shaped stummel has a very warm draw to it.  I’m pleased with the plethora of grain movement that provides the kind of visual beauty that I appreciate in a pipe that I add to my collection.  I especially like the Chimney’s midriff bulge that is unique bringing attention to the shape.  The Pinched Saddle Fishtail stem also is a sleek and classy touch that completes the ensemble.  My goal was to finish this Stanwell Henley Special to take with me to the Black Sea Coast for our time of R&R enjoying the beach as well as the cuisine in the evenings. A little respite from our work with the Daughters of Bulgaria.  The Stanwell Henley Special performed well on the beach as well as in a classy, relaxed evening meal – the pictures tell the story.  I tell people that, I believe I’m living the dream – some would agree!  Thanks for joining me!  (www.ThePipeSteward.com)

Resurrecting a Second Stately Stanwell Henley Special, Made in Denmark, Blasted Saddle Stem Billiard


Blog by Dal Stanton

Jim was the recipient of the first Stanwell Henley Special, Oval Shank Billiard, that I restored some time ago (see LINK).  Jim saw it on the online ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’ collection benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria – our work here in Bulgaria helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  The second Stanwell Henley Special on the worktable is the Blasted Saddle Stem Billiard on the bottom in the picture below.  This pipe has not been commissioned and will be heading to The Pipe Steward Store and this beautiful stout Danish will also benefit the Daughters when a new steward brings it home.  I have also taken notice of the solid craftsmanship of these 3 Danish made pipes and decided that the third, a Stanwell Henley Special Chimney (on top in the picture below), would find a home in my personal collection.  The eBay seller gave this helpful information about this Lot of 3 Stanwell Henley Special pipes:

This auction is for three vintage Stanwell, Henley Line estate pipes from the 1950’s-60’s era. All are in good pre-owned condition. The stems are primarily free from teeth marks. The stems do have some fading. All of the stems fit snug and the wooden bowls are free from outstanding blemishes. As seen from top to bottom, the first pipe reads Henley Special #57, the second and third read Henley Special without any numbers seen. All of the pipes read Made in Denmark.

Here are the three Stanwell Henley Specials that I acquired on the eBay auction block from a seller in Maryland.  The Henley Jim commissioned is pictured in the center above and below is the restored pipe now in Jim’s collection – an unbelievable transformation!As I expressed before, since I started collecting and restoring pipes, I’ve grown in my appreciation for Danish made pipes.  They tend to be stout, well-made pipes and just fit the hand wonderfully.  Unfortunately, my original research did not uncover much online regarding the Henley line.  Pipedia’s article on Stanwell pipes simply places the Henley Special line in the list of Stanwell second brands.  Pipephil.eu provided more information with a Henley much like the slightly bent Chimney above which I’m claiming for my collection, with the interesting characteristic bulging midsection, but with a blasted finish.  It also shows an ‘H’ stem stamp.  None of the 3 Henleys of my acquisition have stem stampings – or they wore off long ago.The only information I found in my initial research that gave any reference to dating isn’t conclusive. I found the following picture on Google images with the link to pipesmokersforum.com, “Who made this pipe?”   I went to the pipesmokersforum site and searched ‘Henley’ and no reference or article emerged. I would have loved to read the thread that discussed the dating of the discontinued Stanwell second, Henley Special.  The picture puts a question mark in the late 50s and the eBay seller’s description placing the pipes in the 50s or 60s are anecdotal but seem to me to be accurate.  I will keep searching but based upon the look and feel of these Danish made pipes, I think the 50s/60s is on target.With the second Stanwell Henley Special on the worktable, I take some pictures to get a closer look. He’s a large bowled pipe with dimensions: Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 2 1/4 inches, Rim width: 1 7/16 inches, Chamber width: 7/8 inches, Chamber depth: 2 inches. The nomenclature on the blasted stummel is on the lower side of the pipe.  There is a flat panel running the length of the heel and shank allowing this Billiard to sit on the table – nice feature!  On the shank side of the panel in cursive is stamped a thin ‘Henley’ [over] SPECIAL.  To the right of this is stamped MADE IN [over] DENMARK.The condition of this Henley resembles the others in that they are very dark and dirty from grime over the stummel.  The blasted surface of this Henley will need much scrubbing with a brush.  One crevasse is so large/deep that when I first saw it, I thought that the bowl had cracked.  However, it is the result of the blasting process.  The blasted surface is amazing on this pipe. The chamber is choked with carbon cake buildup – this needs to be removed to give the briar a fresh start and to examine the chamber walls.  With the cake as thick as it is, there is concern for heating damage.  The rim is inundated with lava flow – it’s thick!  The saddle stem has also seen better days!  The oxidation is thick, and the bit has been chewed – or more accurate, clenched.  There are several compressions on both upper and lower bit – the former steward loved this pipe, but he was a hands-free clincher which would be no small feat for a pipe with a bowl this big!

This doesn’t happen often.  My wife got into The Pipe Steward activities to picture me cleaning stems of pipes in queue – two Henleys included – this second one and the third staying with me.  Yep, this is what my worktable looks like!  I clean each airway with pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% as well as employing shank brushes.  I clean the stems before placing them in the soak of Before & After Deoxidizer. The stems soak for several hours to work on removing the oxidation.  The oxidation on the Henley is pretty think.  We’ll see how the Deoxidizer works.When I fish out the Henley’s saddle stem, I rub/wipe the stem with cotton pads wetted with isopropyl 95% to remove the raised oxidation.  I also run a few pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95% through the airway to clear the Deoxidizer.I also apply paraffin oil, a mineral oil, to the stem to begin the conditioning process.  The B&A Deoxidizer did a fair job on the stem.Turning now to the Henley stummel, I take a picture to show the condition of the chamber. The cake closes as it moves down the chamber.  I’m hopeful that the chamber walls are not suffering from heating damage.  To address the thick cake, I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit.  After putting down paper towel to save time on cleaning, I begin with the smallest of the 4 blade heads available.  With a chamber width of 7/8 inches and depth of 2 inches, he took all 4 blade heads that the Pipnet Reaming Kit had to offer.  The cake is hard and crusty, and it takes patience to work the blades and not overdo it.  I follow the reaming using the Savinelli Fitsall tool to continue to scrape the chamber walls clearing more carbon. Finally, I sand the chamber using 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  The sanding is very helpful in cleaning the walls to allow inspection.  After cleaning the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%, I’m able to get a good view of the chamber and the damage from heating is evident.I take pictures going around the chamber from different angles.  With the thickness of the cake that I removed, I’m not surprised to find heating damage.  I’m sure that the cracks and fissures that I’ve pictured are a result of the heat build-up caused by the thick cake and not allowing proper heating expansion and contraction.  This puts more stress on the briar and these results occur.  As I continue the cleaning, my mind will be processing the question of how to address this. Switching from the wall issues of the chamber, I move to cleaning the external surface.  Without a doubt, this stummel is the King of Cragginess.  I love the deeply hewn valleys and ridges of this large stummel created by a very thorough sandblasting process.  I take pictures to show the various angles.  The stummel is very dark and I’m anxious to see what cleaning does. I begin the cleaning by using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and scrub with a cotton pad.  With the craggy landscape, the process graduates very quick to scrubbing with a bristled tooth brush as well as a brass wire brush on the rim.Taking the stummel to the sink, warm water continues the cleaning rinsing off the Murphy’s Soap and scrubbing the surface of the crags with the toothbrush.  I also attack the internals using shank brushes and anti-oil dish soap.  I scrub the internals well and rinse the stummel thoroughly.  The result of the cleaning is a considerably lightened stummel.  Another round of pictures show the cleaned briar landscape on the Henley stummel. The rim still appears to have some lava residue on it, and I continue to clean it using a dental probe to break up the carbon in the crags as well as apply the brass bristle brush to the rim. I like the results and I love how the crevassed valley rises and bisects the rim!  This blasted stummel has a lot of expression going on!I continue to clean the internals using cotton buds and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%. Joining the cleaning process was a small dental spoon that allowed me to reach into the mortise and airway and scrape the wall, helping to clean the old tars and oils.  I also utilize drill bits to help excavate tars and oils deeper in the airway.  I insert the bit into the airway carefully and hand-rotate into the airway. The rotation helps to remove the gunk.  After a good bit of cleaning, the buds and pipe cleaners start coming out lighter.  I called a halt to the cleaning transitioning to a kosher salt and alcohol soak to continue the cleaning in stealth mode through the night.Before I set up the kosher salt and alcohol soak, I look at the stummel and it is a very dry piece of wood.  I decide to apply a coat of paraffin oil to the stummel allowing the oil to hydrate the briar while it’s sitting through the night with the soak.  Paraffin oil is a mineral oil available here in Bulgaria in the pharmacy.  I apply the oil over the surface with a cotton pad and take a few pictures.  Man, it looks good.  This gives me a sneak peek at what the finished pipe will look like left in its present state.  The rich dark burgundy tones are peeking out.Next, for the kosher salt and alcohol soak, I pull and twist a cotton ball to form a ‘wick’ that is inserted into the mortise with the help of a firm straight wire.  The wick serves to draw the tars and oils that are released further from the internal wood.  I then fill the bowl with kosher salt which will not leave an after taste as does an iodized salt. I then set the stummel in an egg crate for stability, tip the stummel so the salt surface is generally level with the end of the shank.  Then with the use of a large eyedropper, I fill the bowl with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes when the alcohol has been absorbed, I top off with more isopropyl 95%.  I then put the stummel aside for the night and turn off the lights! The next morning the soak had done the job evidenced by the soiled salt and cotton wick.  After tossing the expended salt in the waste, and wiping the chamber out with paper towel, and blowing through the mortise to dislodge salt crystals, I used a few more cotton buds and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95% to make sure all was clean.  The soak did the job and the stummel will be much fresher for the new steward of this Stanwell Henley Special.Before moving further, I need to address the heating issues in the chamber.  There are cracks and fissures which undoubtedly developed over time because the cake buildup became too much.  With the cake so thick, it hinders proper expansion and contraction when the pipe is used. The result is what we now see in this chamber.  To address this, I mix a batch of J-B KWIK Weld using the two components, Steel and Hardener.  I use a plastic disc as a mixing pallet with scotch tape over it to aid in clean up. After mixing the two components on the pallet, about 4 minutes is available to apply the Weld before it begins to harden. I mix the components thoroughly with a toothpick, then using my finger (with a surgical glove on!), I scoop a bit of Weld and apply it to the chamber wall.  I do this uniformly around the chamber and applying pressure to make sure the Weld is filling the cracks and fissures.  I’m VERY careful to avoid dripping Weld on the rim during the application.  Later, after the Weld thoroughly cures, I’ll sand the chamber removing all the excess Weld leaving behind only what filled the cracks and fissures – or that is the theory! I usually insert a pipe cleaner to guard the airway from the Weld, but this time I forgot and thankfully, no problems result.  After completing the application, I put the stummel aside for several hours allowing the Weld to cure.  Cleanup is quick – I simply peel the tape up and discard.Turning now to the saddle stem, the Before & After Deoxidizer did a good job, but I see residual oxidation yet remaining in the vulcanite.  I take a few pictures with an opened aperture to show what I can see with the naked eye.  The bit does not have tooth chatter as much as compressions – it appears the molars were engaged by the former steward to smoke the Henley hands-free.  To address the bit compressions, I first use the heating method.  Using a Bic lighter, I paint the compressions with flame and as the vulcanite heats, it expands to reclaim the original stem shape or at least the compressions are minimized.  After heating several times, the compressions have lessened but are still visible.   The before and after pictures tell the story – in fact, I had a hard time pairing the correct photos after the heating! I believe the compressions have been minimized enough that sanding will be all that is necessary to repair the bit.  Using 240 grade paper, I sand not only the bit and button, but I expand it to the entire stem to address residual oxidation as well.  I employ a flat needle file to freshen the button lips and to assist with the tooth compressions next to the lip.  In the sanding of the saddle, I use a plastic disc I fashioned and with the disc separating the stem and stummel, I reunite the two.  The disc acts as a shield to shouldering the stem shank facing.  The sanding removed all the compressions. The pictures show the progress. With the major sanding with 240 paper complete, I continue by wet sanding the entire stem using 600 grade paper.  I then follow the wet sanding by applying 000 grade steel wool to the stem.  I’ve lost track of which is the upper and lower stem.  The stem is looking great!I move directly to applying the full regimen of 9 micromesh pads starting by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400 then dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of three pads I apply a coat of Obsidian Oil to assist in rejuvenating the vulcanite.  The saddle stem has that glassy pop! I turn back to the stummel and the J-B Weld has had time to cure.  I begin to sand off the excess J-B Weld by using the Dremel with a sanding drum.  I set the Dremel to the slowest speed and gently, without much pressure, sand off the upper layer of the J-B Weld – the excess.  With the drum, as I’m working patiently around the entire chamber, I also sand out a reaming step that had developed near the floor of the chamber.  The Dremel shortens the work amazingly.  I then switch by wrapping 240 grade paper around a Sharpie Pen. I fine tune the sanding in the chamber so that eventually, the cracks and fissures are revealed now having been filled.  I love it when theory and practice come together!  I clean out the chamber of the dust and it looks and feels great! I run my finger over the formerly cavern-filled chamber and it is smooth.  I take finish pictures and move on. I’ve been looking forward to applying the Before & After Restoration Balm to this Stanwell Henley Special’s stummel to tease out the older patina of this vintage blasted briar surface.  I make sure the surface is clean from all the chamber sanding and I take a few pictures to mark the start.  I then apply the Balm to my fingers and rub it in to the surface.  The surface practically drinks the Balm as I work the Balm into the craggy landscape.  After it’s worked in well, I put the stummel aside for 20 minutes to allow the Balm to do what it does. I take a picture in this state. After about 20 minutes I wipe off the excess Balm and buff the blasted Henley Special stummel with a microfiber cloth.  The hues are deeper and richer.  I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel onto the stummel and set the speed at 40% full power and after reuniting the stem and stummel, I apply Blue Diamond compound to the stem.  As I go along, I experiment with the Blue Diamond on the stummel.  I don’t want to gum up the craggy surface with Blue Diamond, but what I see, with a light application of the compound, is that the briar is sprucing up and I move the wheel along with the grain of the blasted briar.  I like the results.  When I complete the application of Blue Diamond, I give the pipe a good hand-wiping with a felt cloth to remove the carbon dust before application of the wax.  I like the results.Straightaway, I load another cotton cloth buffing wheel onto the Dremel, increasing the speed of the Dremel to about 60% full power – faster than normal on smooth briar, I first apply carnauba wax to the stummel.  I increase the speed for the blasted stummel to increase the heat of the application.  I’ve found that using the Dremel on the craggy surface allows me to get up and close with the application of wax on the rough surface.  Heating the wax more helps guard against it gunking up on the rough surface.  The added speed helps dissolve the wax over the rough surface.  I’m liking what I’m seeing!  When I apply carnauba to the stem, I slow the speed of the Dremel back down to the normal 40% full power.After applying the wax, I give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth.  This not only raises the shine but also help disseminate any excess wax on the surface.  There is one last project left to do.  The chamber was riddled with heating cracks and fissures and I used heat resistant J-B Kwik Weld to fill in the cracks.  I coated the entire chamber with the Weld mixture then sanded it after the Weld cured.  After sanding, as the theory hoped, the results were, that the only Weld remaining was that which filled the cracks and the chamber wall is smooth and again usable to put this pipe back into service.  Beautiful!  I love it when theory and practice come together so well. To help provide a protective coat over the repairs and to encourage a new cake to develop, I apply to the chamber walls a coating mixture of natural yogurt (sour cream works, too) and activated charcoal.  I mix a small amount of yogurt and charcoal in a bowl and when the consistency of the mixure will not drip off the spoon its ready to go.  After putting a pipe cleaner through the draft hole, I use my index finger to reach into the chamber and apply the mixture.  I make sure that the chamber walls are thoroughly covered, and I put the stummel aside for a time to allow the coating to cure.  It dries into an amazingly hard surface.  It’s important for the new steward to use a folded pipe cleaner to clean the bowl initially after putting the Henley into service – not to scrape the bowl! I’m very pleased with the results of this second of the 3 1950/60s Stanwell Henley Specials I acquired.  I appreciate the Danish craftmanship that is evident in all three pipes and this Blasted Billiard is no exception.  The blasting amazes me with the craggy surface showing the 3-dimensional movement of the briar grain.  One ravine is cut so drastically, at first, I thought it was a cracked bowl when I first acquired the pipes, but it remains as part of a very expressive, deep hued blasted briar landscape.  With a chamber width of 7/8 inches and depth of 2 inches, the amount of blend one can pack into this bowl is pretty impressive and with the size of the stummel and the blasting – well, I’m tempted to keep it for myself, but the third Stanwell Henley Special next on the table will be staying with me.  This Henley is heading for ThePipeSteward Store benefitting the Daughters of Bulgaria – our work here in Bulgaria helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

Cleaning up a Striking GBD Constitution Made in London England, 1978 Calabash


Blog by Dal Stanton

This beautiful GBD came into my collection from the eBay auction block from a seller located in Cocoa, Florida, USA.  When I saw it, I decided I wanted it, thinking I would add it to my own personal collection, but in the end I added it to the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’ collection where Lowell saw it.  Lowell became the very happy steward of a striking Poker, what I called, Refreshing a ‘Faux’ Mastro de Paja Poker in the write-up.  It was not actually a Mastro de Paja, but the Poker was absolutely striking and Lowell has expressed his appreciation for this addition to his collection on several occasions.I’ve communicated with Lowell now and again on various FaceBook pipe man groups and when he messaged me about the GBD Constitution, it didn’t surprise me that it got his attention!  He commissioned it and I’m thankful for his patience as the GBD worked its way up the queue and now is on my worktable, and it benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – our work here in Bulgaria helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Here are pictures of the GBD Constitution now on my worktable which I would call a briar Calabash shape. A very short history of GBD by Jerry Hannah is in a PDF file that Rebornpipes contributor, Al Jones, shared with me.  The PDF is entitled ‘GBD Pipe Shape & Model Listings’.

The company was founded in Paris France in the 19th century by Ganeval, Boundier and Donninger who were no longer associated with the company by the turn of the century. By the time they left the GBD name was well established and thus retained. In 1903 an additional factory was built in England and ran by Oppenheimer. The Paris factory moved to Saint-Claude in 1952. Since 1981 the majority of GBD pipes come from the English factory. At about that same time GBD merged with Comoys, since then all production for both GBD and Comoy comes from a single factory.

Based upon information I’ve gleaned from communications with Al, this GBD is like others that I’ve restored that straddle the transition when the Cadogan takeover happened.  From a previous communication I had with Al discussing the GBD Americana I previously restored (See LINK), he wrote:

Typically, the stamping used on pre-Cadogan pipes is the straight line COM, “London, England” stamp (see attached) combine with the brass rondell stem logo. Cadogan era pipes (made after 1981) have the round “Made in London” (with England under) COM, as shown on your pipe.  But, they typically have stamped stem logos. I see these pipes occasionally, and my assumption is they were made after the merger, until the brass rondell inventory was exhausted.  One common denominator on these pipes is a single letter.  I have no idea as to what it may mean, but M is frequently used.

These pipes also had many more finish names, like your Americana, that were not scene before. Comoy’s started doing the same thing, adding lines and letters just after the merger. I’ll look forward to seeing the restored pipe, it looks like a good candidate.

The GBD Constitution falls into the early 80s most likely since it still carries the brass rondel on the stem, which was used pre-Cadogan, but shows the post-Cadogan rounded MADE IN LONDON over ENGLAND.  Al’s guess is that they used the brass rondels until the inventory was eventually exhausted after 1981.  As Al said, GBD had many line names after 1981 and ‘Constitution’ is one of them.  The one on my worktable doesn’t have the rogue ‘M’ but a rogue ‘L’ – I’m not sure what it signifies either.  I’m open to input on this!  I could not find the shape number 1978 in any of the random lists of GBD shape charts that I have.  Even so, I’m calling this GBD a briar Calabash.

Looking at the pipe itself, the chamber has a light cake build-up with lava covering the rim.  The briar on this stummel is beautiful and needs cleaning from usual wear.  The acrylic stem is beautiful but has been scuffed up with some with minor tooth chatter.  It also shows interesting looking sub-surface imperfections just above the GBD brass rondell.  I call them imperfections – they look like cracks or bubbles.  Perhaps sanding will address these….

I begin the cleanup of the GBD by reaming the chamber using the Pipnet Reaming Kit.  I use 3 of the 4 blade heads available and then switch to using the Savinelli Fitsall Tool.  I scrape the chamber walls further and then finish the chamber cake removal by sanding using 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  Finally, I wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to remove the remaining carbon dust.  After inspection of the chamber, I see no heating problems.  I move on. Moving directly to cleaning the external surface, using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a cotton pad, I begin work on the stummel surface as well as the thick lava on the rim.  I also use a bristled toothbrush and a brass bristled brush on the rim.  I then take the stummel to the sink and continue to clean using anti-oil dish liquid soap with the bristled toothbrush to scrub the rim and shank brushes through the mortise and airway.  After rinsing I go back to the table and take some pictures.  The rim cleaned up beautifully. Next, to further clean the mortise, I use isopropyl 95% with cotton buds and pipe cleaners.  It doesn’t take much and the buds and pipe cleaners are coming out clean.Looking now at the rim, it has a tight, classy internal bevel that looks good.  I use both 470 and 600 grade papers to freshen it with crisper lines.  I also lightly sand the rim with both grades of paper to freshen it.  It’s in good shape and the grain will be looking good over the rim. The stummel is generally in good shape, but inspecting it closely, as expected with normal wear, there are fine scratches scattered over the surface.  I take a picture of one such scratch below to understand what I see.To address these light scratches and to clean up the surface, I like using sanding sponges which are great for cleaning the surface but not very invasive.  I use 3 sponges, from a coarser and medium grade to a light grade to sponge sand the surface.  The results are good.Working now on the acrylic stem, I had a question about the kind of acrylic this GBD stem was.  Being in the early 80s I didn’t think it was Perspex, the earlier clear acrylic that GBD utilized.  If this is the earlier Perspex, then I would not use alcohol or isopropyl 95% to clean the airway which can craze or shatter the acrylic.  After shooting a quick question to Steve, I was confirmed by him in my use of isopropyl 95% to work on this 80s vintage acrylic stem.  It didn’t take a lot of work and pipe cleaners emerged clean.The bit has very mild tooth chatter, mainly on the lower side.I use 240 grade sanding paper first to sand out the tooth chatter on the upper and lower bit.I then use 470 and 600 grade papers to smooth the acrylic bit further.  I expand the sanding by wet sanding the entire stem with 600 grade paper followed by applying 000 grade steel wool.I press forward using the full regimen of 9 micromesh pads on the acrylic stem.  First, I wet sand using pads 1500 to 2400 then follow by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and then with pads 6000 to 12000.  After each set of 3, as with vulcanite stems, I apply a coat of Obsidian Oil.  The rich, swirling honey colored acrylic looks great, but something is bothering me. I saw this acrylic imperfection around the brass rondel previously but decided to let it go because I thought the sanding I applied would work it out.  True, the coarser 240 grade sanding paper was only applied to the bit, not to this area.  The problem with these imperfections is that it’s not clear that they are on the surface of the acrylic.  I look at the area with a magnifying glass and probe lightly with a sharp dental probe to see if I can feel a surface disturbance and I don’t.  The reality is that I could detour here and sand and be left with the same problems because they are deeper in the acrylic.  How much sanding would it take and what is sacrificed in the rounding of the stem around the GBD roundel?  Sometimes being somewhat of a perfectionist is a problem – not being able to let go of an imperfection!  The following pictures shows the source of my consternation.I decide to do a compromise detour.  I suspect that the bubbling or cracking in the acrylic is deeper than sanding can address, but I will test the impact of sanding with a light strategic sanding of this area above the rondell using 240 grade paper.  I want to see if it makes a difference.  If not, I will move on.  The first picture shows some strategic sanding with 240 grade paper.Using the spittle approach to clean the area, I can see residual imperfections.  After sanding a little more, I come to the quick decision that sanding will not fully address these imperfections.  To remove them would require more sanding than this stem can muster.I’ll spare you the pictures,  that resulted in the final picture below after again applying 600 grade paper, 000 steel wool and 9 micromesh pads 1500 to 12000 and Obsidian Oil.  The result is that the detoured sanding may have reduced the presentation of the imperfections in the acrylic, but they are not fully removed.  As with life and our imperfections, they go with us!  I move on.The GBD Constitution stummel is waiting for attention.  To further clean the briar surface and coax out the beautiful vertical flame grain, I take the stummel through the full regimen of micromesh pads.  Sanding with pads 1500 to 2400 the process begins with wet sanding.  This is followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and then with pads 6000 to 12000.  The pictures show the progression – I like what I see!  There is no doubt in my mind that this GBD Constitution Calabash comes off an upper shelf.  The grain emerges through the micromesh process with no shyness! Next, to bring out the subtle natural briar hues in this already striking grain, I apply Before & After Restoration Balm to the stummel.  I apply it on my fingers and work the Balm into the briar grain.  It starts off having a thinner viscosity, like cream then gradually thickens into a waxier texture as it’s worked in.  After applying it thoroughly, I set it aside to allow the Balm to absorb and do its thing – the picture below captures this. I let it set for 20 minutes or so and then wipe the excess Balm off with a cloth and then buff up the stummel with a micromesh cloth.After reuniting the stem and stummel, I apply Blue Diamond to the pipe.  I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel, set the speed to 40% full power and apply the compound.After finishing with the compound, I wipe the pipe with a felt cloth to remove the compound dust in preparation for applying the wax.  I change to another cotton cloth buffing wheel and keeping the speed the same, I apply Carnauba wax to the GBD Constitution Calabash.  After applying the wax, I hand buff the pipe with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine.My, oh my!  This GBD Constitution Made in London England was eye catching before I began the restoration, now its simply amazing.  I can’t get over the grain on this stummel.  The flame of the grain is beautiful as it rises vertically toward the rim.  The gentle sweep of the Calabash as it transitions from bowl, to shank, to stem, and to button, is very nice and cradles well in the hand.  The only imperfection in this pipe are the small specks in the acrylic stem next to the rondell.  Notwithstanding, a very nice pipe to add to the collection!  Lowell commissioned the GBD Constitution Calabash benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  As the ‘commissioner’, Lowell will have the first opportunity to acquire the pipe from ThePipeSteward Store.  Thanks for joining me!