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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!

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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!

Recommissioning a Classic Pocket Pipe:  A Fun Sport Horn Stem Sculpted Stubby Paneled Tomato


Blog by Dal Stanton

I’m calling this Sport Horn Stem “fun” because it’s a whimsical pipe.  As a ‘stubby’ he looks like he wanted to grow larger but didn’t.  He’s diminutive in stature and really qualifies as a ‘Pocket Pipe’ because he will be comfy in a pocket waiting for his steward to pack his bowl and spend some time together.  The dimensions are: Length: 4 1/4 inches, Height: 1 1/8 inches, Rim width: 1 inch, Chamber width: 11/16 inches, Chamber depth: 1 1/8 inches.  His paneled bowl has also been shaped with a sculpting that appears to be leaves, vines and a basket on his heel.  When you put this pipe’s characteristics together, whimsical comes to my mind.  He came to me as a part of the French Lot of 50 that I acquired from France’s eBay auction block.  This French Lot of 50 has been an amazing collection of pipes many of which are now with new stewards after they commissioned them from For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! online collection and many of which bearing names that are unknown to me.  This lot was also characterized by several pipes sporting horn stems – pointing in many cases to earlier French origins.  Here’s a picture of the Lot and the Sport is bowl down on the lower right.Peter was among those who trolled through the virtual ‘Help Me!’ baskets in Pipe Dreamers Only! and reached out to me about commissioning the Sport which benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – our work here in Bulgaria helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Now on my worktable, here are more pictures of the Sport. The left side of the shank holds the slanted, cursive, ’Sport’ framed in a sculpted panel.  On the right side of the shank, is the French rendering of ‘BRUYERE’ [over] ‘DELUXE’.  As I’ve done several times before with this Lot, I’m assuming that the Sport is of French origin – the horn stem helps in this conviction as horn was a common stem material for pipe manufacturing in the earlier part of the 1900s. As I was half expecting, I found very little at my normal first stops at Pipedia and Pipephil.  ‘Sportsman’ is a popular name I saw in Pipephil but nothing with the simple, ‘Sport’.  Pipedia dangled some possibilities.

Pipedia listed in the Savinelli article (LINK) the Savinelli made sub-brands, seconds & order productions and had this listing: “Sport – About 1960’s – Chubby shape with very short stem or mouthpiece”.  Interesting, but the Sport just doesn’t have the Savinelli Italian feel with the horn stem and sculpting.  Pipedia provided two more leads – one of French origin and the other English.  Again, Pipedia only contributes in the English listing section and not with an article: “Sport: Brand of J. Cohen & Son. Also a Salvatella series, and a model by Chacom.”  I looked up the link given for Salvatella because I hadn’t heard of this name.  The short paragraph was interesting:

Salvatella was a pipe company founded in 1883 by Enric Moulines Giralt in Catalonia, Spain, long the center both of briar production and pipemaking in Spain. Giralt started the company after training with French pipemakers, and primarily dedicated himself to the development of briar. It was not until Giralt’s nephew, the third to take over the company, that Salvatella began producing pipes as well as briar. While at their height the company produced as many as 150,000 pipes per year and exported pipes worldwide, the factory closed in 2001.

Interesting, but nothing that helps me move forward.  The listing for ‘Sport’ in the Pipedia French manufacturers list was even less demonstrable: “Bristol Sport” followed by: “???”  Each piece of information is like a thread in the wind.  Nothing to get ahold of or to tie to!

In a last ditch effort to find something, I recalled the restoration of another petite French beauty that came from this French Lot of 50 that I had already researched and restored (See: Discovering the History with the Reclamation of this Petite EPC Majestic Bent Horn Stem Billiard).  The EPC Majestic I discovered dated in the 1920s and was produced by now defunct, A. Pandevant & Roy Co. near Paris.  The research of the EPC Majestic led me to old catalogs that helped me put the pieces of the mystery of its origins together.  The similarities between the Sport and the EPC Majestic gave me the idea that maybe the name ‘Sport’ might show up in the old catalog.  With a certain amount of hope I poured through the Catalogue only to find nothing.  One last thread in the wind of little use: Also, in the same French Lot of 50 was another pipe marked with “Sport” on its shank.  An attractive Bullmoose which is still in the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! online collection waiting to be adopted!  A quick comparison of the markings leaves little hope that they are related….While I cannot corroborate this, I believe that the Sport before me is of French origin and that the horn stem gives it some vintage – how much, I cannot say.  Even so, it is an attractive and interesting pipe even though his origins will remain shrouded in mystery for now.

Looking at the pipe’s condition, it is in very good shape.  The chamber has a light cake build-up but the lava flow over the rim has some grit to it.  The sculpted surface needs cleaning and polishing.  The horn stem is beautiful and shows almost no bit wear.  It will shine up very nicely.  I start the recommissioning of this Sport Horn Stem Sculpted Paneled Tomato by starting with the stummel.  Using the Pipnet Reaming Kit I use only the first, smallest of the blade heads to ream the 11/16-inch-wide chamber.  I follow this by employing the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to scrape the chamber walls and clean out around the draft hole.  Finally, I sand the chamber using 240 grade paper wrapped around the Sharpie Pen and finish by wiping the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean away the carbon dust.  With the chamber cleaned, I give it a quick inspection, and all looks good – no problems with overheating, cracks or fissures. Next, using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a cotton pad, I scrub the external sculpted briar surface.  I also use a bristled toothbrush to get into the crevasses of the sculpting as well as a brass wire brush to work on the rim.  After scrubbing the surface, I take the stummel to the sink and using warm water I clean the internals using shank brushes and anti-oil dish soap.  While I’m at it, I use the brass brush on the nickel shank facing.After rinsing, and inspecting the now clean stummel, I discover 2 things.  First, there is a huge fill on the left shank near the ‘Sport’ nomenclature.  I’m not sure how I missed it before, so I look at a ‘before’ picture and discover that the fill had been part of the sculpting in a very effective way.  The fill was almost fully masked because it was blended with the contours.  Now, I’ll have to work on doing the same!  The second thing I discovered is that the mortise has a cork layer which grips the metal tenon.  Thankfully, I discover this before digging in the mortise to clean it!  As I inspect the mortise, I also see what appears to be a metal tubing beyond the cork down to the draft hole.  I use a sharp dental probe to test it and it does feel like metal or a hard lining of some sort.  The presence of the cork could possibly add more weight to this Sport having some vintage to it.  Cork was often used on older pipes to grip the tenon – the EPC Majestic included. Just to make sure, I remount the horn stem to see if the grip was still good – it was.  I’ll treat the cork later with some petroleum jelly to hydrate it.  Wow – I can’t believe I missed that fill!!I continue cleaning the internals by using isopropyl 95% and cotton buds reaching over the cork as much as possible. I also scrape the sides of the mortise, beyond the cork to help excavate tars and oils.  After a lot of cotton buds and pipe cleaners, the buds begin to emerge lighter and cleaner and I’m able to move on!The huge fill on the left shank side needs to be addressed.  The fill is solid but eroded so that it falls beneath the surface level of the briar.  I first dig out the old fill material using a sharp dental probe. My, the hole is deep!  After removing the fill, I clean the area with a cotton pad and alcohol. I then mix thick CA glue with briar dust to form a putty to refill the hole. Before mixing the CA glue and briar dust, I put scotch tape down on a plastic disk that serves as a mixing pallet.  The tape helps to facilitate cleaning – I simply peel the tape up afterwards.  I place a small pile of briar dust on the disk and put some thick CA glue in a small puddle next to the dust.  Using a toothpick, I gradually pull some briar dust into the edge of the thick CA glue and mix it as I go.  When it gets to a thickness that it doesn’t run too much, I dollop some into the crevasse with the toothpick and knead the putty down into the recesses using the toothpick.  When the hole is filled and a bit higher than the surface, I put the stummel aside to cure.  Since the putty is so thick – the hole so large, I’ll let the curing go through the night.  I put the stummel aside and turn to the horn stem.I start by cleaning the airway with pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%.  After one attempt with the pipe cleaner I discover that the airway is closed.  Looking at the button, I can see that the slot is totally plugged with gunk.  I use a dental probe with a hook point to excavate the gunk out of the slot.  Eventually, I’m able to work a thin shank brush wetted with isopropyl 95% through the airway.  After several pipe cleaners and assistance from shank brushes, the airway started cleaning up and I move on.To clean the external surface of the horn stem I take it to the sink with a bristled toothbrush and scrub the stem with warm water and dish soap.  First, I take a pair of pictures to mark the start.After the scrubbing, the horn composition starts to show its subtle shadows.  Very nice.After cleaning the nickel tenon with soap and water and clearing the gunk buildup on the stem facing, I use 000 steel wool to clean the tenon further bringing out the shine.With the stem now clean, I study the horn stem.  It’s a beautiful piece of horn and the only thing I can do is simply spruce it up.  In the past, I benefited greatly by Steve’s essay on horn stem repair working on my first horn stem, A First Horn Stem on a Throw Away Pipe.  The key thing in repairing horn is to fill the gaps to keep the horn from drying and splintering as horn is very porous.  This stem needs no repairs, but looking closely, I do see normal minuscule porous texture.  The tighter or smoother the horn surface is, helps to guard against the decay of the horn.  I take a few closeups to show this.I treat the horn stem like a vulcanite stem but with greater gentleness.  I run the stem through the micromesh regimen, and I will apply compounds afterward.  I wet sand with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 and follow by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  After each set of three pads, I apply Obsidian Oil to the horn and the horn drinks it up! I’m pleased with the results – even more gloss!  My day comes to an end. The next day, the briar dust putty fill has fully cured, and I go to work on it using a flat needle file to bring the fill mound down to briar level.I then use a piece of 240 grade sanding paper to smooth it further and to begin giving some shape to the patch to blend it.When the sandpaper did what it could do, I used a pointed needle file to sculpt through the patch to blend the patch with the surrounding area.  The good news is that the area is rough and busy which helps in blending the patch.With a combination of filing and sanding, I like the results.  The briar putty patch is darker than the surrounding area but I’m hopeful that the surrounding briar will also darken through the micromesh sanding/polishing process and with the application afterwards of Before & After Restoration Balm.After the external briar cleaning, the rim is looking good but still has some minor discoloration from charring on the internal rim edge and well as some roughness on the rim.  I gently sand the rim and the internal edge with a piece of 240 grade paper to dispatch the issues.  The rim looks good. Next, I apply the full regimen of nine micromesh pads starting with wet sanding using pads 1500 to 2400.  After this, wet sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000 finishes the process.  Wow, it is amazing how this process brings out the grain! From the picture above, the sculpting lines are lighter, and the hue is uneven with the darkening hue of the surrounding smooth briar.  The micromesh has helped with the blending of the briar dust putty patch, but it’s still noticeable.  Applying Before & After Restoration Balm will address both these issues and I’m looking forward to seeing the results.  I put some Balm on my fingers and work the Balm well into the sculpting and briar.  It starts with a cream-like consistency and then thickens to feel more like wax.  I place the stummel aside for 30 minutes for the Balm to be absorbed (pictured) and then I wipe off the excess Balm with a clean cloth then I buff the stummel to bring out the grain.  The briar looks great!As I noted before, the presence of the cork in the shank to grip the tenon possibly helps place this pipe in an older vintage.  To treat the cork, I use petroleum jelly to condition the cork.  I apply a light coat with a cotton bud and work it in.  This will hydrate the cork and hopefully add much time to the cork’s continued life.With the horn stem and Sport sculpted stummel reunited, I apply Blue Diamond compound.  After mounting a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel, and setting the speed to 40% full power, the compound does the job of applying the fine abrasive to the briar surface removing fine imperfections and distinguishing further the sculpted crevasses.  After applying Blue Diamond to the stummel and stem, I change to another cotton cloth buffing wheel dedicated to applying Blue Diamond on nickel.  I give the nickel shank cap a quick buffing with the compound to raise the shine.  I use a different buffing wheel for each different kind of application. While polishing the cap, I’m careful not to run the wheel over the briar as the nickel will stain the wood with the black resulting from the polishing the nickel.Following the compound, I change cotton buffing wheels to a wheel dedicated to wax, maintain speed at 40% and apply carnauba wax to both horn stem and stummel.  Afterwards, the restoration is completed with a rigorous hand buffing to remove excess wax as well as to raise the shine.I cannot place with certainty the exact vintage of this Sport Bruyere Deluxe, but it has characteristics of an older pipe.  I believe it to have a French COM and the horn stem seated with cork, is a distinctive part of this ensemble.  The sculpted bowl is attractive, and the stubby, pocket-sized ease translates into a very fun pipe put back into service for a new steward.  Since Peter commissioned the Sport from the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! online collection, he will have the first opportunity to acquire it from The Pipe Steward Store which benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – our work here in Bulgaria helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

Recommissioning a Sharp BBB Classic London England 106S Chimney


Blog by Dal Stanton

This very classy looking BBB I acquired with the French Lot of 50 that I won on the French eBay auction block along with several other treasures that I’ve enjoyed restoring for new stewards benefiting our work here in Bulgaria with the Daughters of Bulgaria.  Along with a few other pipes commissioned by my friend in India, Paresh saw this BBB in the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection and was interested in adding it to his BBB collection.  I’ve marked the BBB in the pile of pipes that I acquired.  I love looking at ‘pipe piles’ 😊.With the pipe now on my worktable here in Sofia, Bulgaria, I take more pictures to show what got Paresh’s attention.  In prototypical English style, the pipe is on diminutive side measuring, Length: 5 3/8 inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Rim width: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber width: 3/4 inches, and Chamber depth: 1 3/4 inches. The left side of the shank is stamped with the classic ‘BBB’ ensconced in the rhombus [over] ‘CLASSIC’.  The right side of the shank is stamped, ‘LONDON, ENGLAND’ [over] 106S – what I’m assuming is the BBB shape number designation.  The shape of the stummel I would label as a Chimney sporting a saddle stem.  In my research I could unearth no BBB Shapes Chart that corroborates my designation matching the 106S.I love the look and feel of this pipe and its distinctive brass rondel embedded on the topside of the stem placing this ‘Best British Briar’ Classic in the 1950s and 1960s.  Below is pictured the evolution of the BBB stem markings which is included in an extensive article on the History of BBB Pipes by Fiona Adler that Steve reposted in rebornpipes after translating from the original French.Pipephil provides a very brief description of ‘BBB’:

BBB: ” Best British Briar” is now a brand of the Cadogan Company (Oppenheimer group). American rights to use the brand name were sold to Wally Frank in 1980.
Founder of the brand in 1847: Louis Blumfeld. The oldest pipe brand name in the UK has been registered in 1876 (Blumfeld Best Briar)
Grading (ascendant): Own Make, Bold Grain, Best Make, Rare Grain

With the dating of this pipe giving it a 50s/60s vintage, I was hopeful to find the ‘Classic’ line in some of the catalogs that Steve acquired from Victor C. Naddeo who is the administrator of the FB Group, Pipe Club of Brasil. I enjoy it when catalogs are posted but unfortunately, I found neither the ‘Classic’ line mentioned or the shape number 106S in the 60s catalog (See: Best British Briar Catalog to see the whole posting).The Chimney stummel is in very good condition – the grain pattern shows great promise after the stummel is cleaned of normal dirt and grime buildup.  The chamber has a thick cake and the lava overflow matches the fact that this pipe was well smoked and served his steward well.  I will remove the cake to give the briar a fresh start and to inspect the chamber walls for heating problems.  The saddle stem has heavy oxidation but very little tooth chatter on the bit.  I’m looking forward to seeing how the very nice-looking BBB Classic Chimney cleans up.

I start by trying something that I haven’t tried before.  The oxidation in the stem is a lot and very deep.  My experience with Before & After Deoxidizer is that it is not able to remove very strong oxidation fully.  It can address some of the issue, but not thoroughly – in my experience.  I try to break up the oxidation by using a small felt buffing wheel mounted on the Dremel set to the lowest speed.  I start first with simply the felt wheel, but I’m concerned that it is too hot on the vulcanite.  I add paraffin oil to the mix.  I wet the felt wheel with the mineral oil and buff the stem trying to break up the oxidation in anticipation of putting the stem in the B&A Deoxidizer soak.After buffing, I wipe the stem down with a cloth and put it aside and allow it to dry.  After drying, the next two pictures show that the buffing did help, but there is still oxidation.I continue by cleaning the airway of the stem with a pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95%.  Once clean, I add it to a bath of Before & After Deoxidizer with other pipes in the queue.  I’m hopeful that the Deoxidizer will now be more efficient after the aggressive buffing I did. After some hours in the Deoxidizer soak, I fish out the BBB saddle stem and after draining off the excess Deoxidizer, I use cotton pads wetted with isopropyl to wipe off the raised oxidation.  I also run a pipe cleaner wetted with alcohol to clean the airway of the fluid.  The pictures show improvement, but I’m not satisfied.Next, I employ Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to address the oxidation further.  I’m satisfied with the results – the vulcanite appears to be free of the oxidation.To rejuvenate the stem, I apply paraffin oil to the vulcanite with a cotton pad and put the stem aside to absorb and dry.  I’m pleased with the results.Turning now to the BBB stummel, I take a few pictures to show the heavy build up both in the chamber and the rim.  I use only the smallest of the Pipnet Reaming Kit’s blade heads to ream the carbon cake out of the chamber. This will give the briar a fresh start.  I transition to the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to do the fine tuning by scraping the chamber walls more, and then wrap 240 grade paper around a Sharpie Pen and sand the chamber to clean it further of carbon cake residue.  Finally, I wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to rid the chamber of carbon dust.  I take a final picture of the cleaned chamber and after inspection, I see know problems in the chamber with heating cracks or fissures. Turning now to the external briar cleaning, I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a cotton pad to scrub the surface.  I also work on the rim using my thumbnail to scrape the rim to remove the buildup and then with a brass wire brush.  I then take the stummel to the sink and using a bristled toothbrush I brush and further clean the surface under the warm water.  Using shank brushes and anti-oil dish liquid soap as well I clean the internals of the stummel rinsing with warm water.Next, using pipe cleaners and cotton buds wetted with isopropyl 95%, I continue the internal cleaning.  I also scrape the mortise walls with a small dental spoon.  This does a great job removing the thicker tars and oils that are hanging on.  After a time, the cotton buds begin to emerge cleaner.To continue the internal cleaning process, I use the kosher salt and alcohol soak.  To form a ‘wick’ to draw out the tars and oils, I twist and pull a cotton ball to form the wick.  A stiff wire helps to insert and push the wick into the mortise.  Then the bowl is filled with kosher salt, which leaves no aftertaste and freshens the bowl, and I set the stummel in an egg crate to keep it steady.  A large eyedropper is used to fill the chamber with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes, I top the alcohol off after it has absorbed into the internals. I set the stummel aside for it to soak through the night.  It’s late, I also turn out the lights! The next morning, the kosher salt and isopropyl 95% soak has done the job.  The wick and salt are soiled having drawn more tar and oils from the internal cavity.  I thump the expended salt into the waste and wipe the chamber with a paper towel as well as blow through the shank to remove expended salt crystals.  To make sure the internals are clean, I use a few more cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 95%.  As hoped and expected, they come out clean and I move on.With the cleaning complete, I turn my attention to the rim’s condition.  The cleaning did a great job removing the grime and lava over the rim, but the discoloration and skins and nicks on the edge of the rim remain.  I take a couple close-ups picturing both sides of the rim and nicking is evident.To address the rim condition, I bring out the chopping board and put 240 grade paper on it to serve as a topping board.  I top the stummel very lightly – just enough to clean the rim and allow me to erase the rim edge nicks with a simple, inconsequential beveling.After a few rotations on the board I take a picture.After a few more rotations, I’m satisfied with the 240 topping.  On the lower right of the rim you can see the remaining rim edge issues that I’ll rectify with a gentle beveling or sanding.To smooth the rim further, I exchange the 240 paper for 600 grade paper and go a few more rotations.Next, I introduce outer and inner edge bevels to erase the remaining damage and to give the Chimney’s top a smoother softer appearance.  I use 240 grade then 600 grade papers rolled to do the beveling.  I think it looks great.With the rim repair completed, I take the stummel through the full regimen of 9 micromesh pads.  First, I wet sand using pads 1500 to 2400 then dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  I take a picture between each set of 3 pads to mark the change in the briar.  It amazes me how the grain emerges.  This BBB Classic’s grain is striking.  As I track the grain around the bowls, the horizontal grain gradually transitions to bird’s eye grain as the stummel position pivots.  There are no fills in the stummel that I can see – a beautifully crafted block of briar! Before returning to the stem to catch it up with the stummel, I’m anxious to apply Before & After Restoration Balm to this BBB Classic Chimney stummel.  I place some Balm on my fingers, and I work it into the briar thoroughly.  The Balm starts with a cream-like consistency but then thickens into more of a wax-like consistency.  I like the Balm because it seems to draw out the deeper tones of the briar – nothing earth shattering, but the subtle enhancement of the natural briar grain is what I like most.  After applying the Balm, I put the stummel aside for about 20 minutes before wiping off the excess and then buffing it up with a micromesh cloth.  The picture shows the Balm at work.Next, I turn back to the BBB saddle stem.  The tooth chatter is minimal, but the button has some compressions.  The skin of the stem is rough as well.I begin by refreshing the button lips using a flat needle file.  I also work on the bit with 240 grade paper sanding out the imperfections. The slot is also a bit out of shape.  I use a sharp needle file to file the edges to balance the slot.While sanding, I see a pit on the edge of the stem that I didn’t see before.  I try sanding it out, but soon realize is too deep.  I remedy the situation quickly using a spot-drop of regular CA glue on the pit after cleaning it with a cotton pad and alcohol.  I use an accelerator to quicken the curing process and then sand it with 240 grade paper. I then wet sand the entire stem with 600 grade paper and follow by applying 000 steel wool to the whole stem.  The next step is applying the regimen of micromesh pads to the stem starting by wet sanding using pads 1500 to 2400.  This is followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads a coat of Obsidian Oil is applied to further enrich and condition the vulcanite.  The freshly sanded pop of the vulcanite contrasted with the embedded BBB Rondel is great!  While trying to reunite the stem and the stummel before applying Blue Diamond compound, it becomes evident that the cleaning of the stummel has expanded the briar making the fit of the tenon in the mortise a bit too tight and forcing the issue could easily result in a cracked shank!  Nothing desired at this point.  To remedy this, utilizing a combination of filing the mortise with a half-circle needle file and sanding the tenon down by wrapping a piece of 240 grade paper around the tenon and rotating the paper does the trick.  The combination approach now allows the tenon fit to be snug but not too tight.With the BBB Classic stem and stummel reunited, after mounting a cotton cloth buffing wheel onto the Dremel, and setting the speed at about 40% full power, Blue Diamond compound is applied to the stem and stummel.After the application of Blue Diamond compound, I wipe the pipe with a felt cloth to remove the compound dust in preparation of applying the wax.  Then, after mounting another cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel, and maintaining the speed at 40%, carnauba wax is applied to the stem and stummel.  The restoration is finished with a hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine.

I’m very pleased with results.  This BBB Classic London, England Chimney is a beautiful pipe.  The block of briar is exquisite, with no fills and a landscape of grain transformation as you track it around the bowl.  There is a striking tight patch of bird’s eye grain on the right flank of the bowl that holds the eyes.  As a 1950s/60s vintage BBB, even though the ‘Classic’ line could not be fully identified, there is little doubt as to the quality of this BBB Classic Chimney.  Paresh 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 adopt this BBB from ThePipeSteward Store and bring it home.  Thanks for joining me!

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


Blog by Dal Stanton

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

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

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

One other paragraph from the Karl Erik article in Pipedia referenced above is noteworthy in understanding this pipe man who died in 2004:

As one of the few notable Danes Karl Erik Ottendahl dedicated himself to the needs of the normal pipe smoker with a normal income. In the end he was one of the last of this tier. He never made any pretense of the fact that his “hand mades” were prefabricated to a large extent on automated machines and only the last steps of fine-shaping and finishing were carefully made by hand. But he never employed a copy milling, so many KE pipes may look very similar but not two are identical. As well the bulk of the stems was supplied by Stanwell in a close-to-finished state. Stanwell also did the sand blasting for KE to a large extent.

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

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

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

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

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