Tag Archives: Dr. Plumb pipes

Repairing a Cracked Shank and a Chipped Stem on a Dr. Plumb Bulldog

Blog by Steve Laug

I received a short email from a reader of the blog about a Dr. Plumb Bulldog that he had that needed a bit of work. He wanted to know if I would be willing to work on it for him. He said that there were some issues with the pipe that he wanted me to try my hand at repairing. He said that the shank had a crack, the stem had a broken stinger end lodged in the airway and the button was broken off on the underside of the stem. I wrote back and asked him to send me some photos of the pipe so I could see what he was speaking about regarding the pipe. He sent the first photo to give me an idea of the overall look of the pipe. Looking at it I have to say that it is a classic GBD shaped bent Bulldog and it had nice grain. He sent a photo of the crack at the bowl/shank junction and noted that he had glued it but was not happy with the way it looked. The photo only shows the crack on the left side of the stem but it was also on the right side. He wanted me to clean it up and stabilize it so that it would not crack any further. That should not be too much of an issue.He sent along a photo of the rim top showed that the outer edge of the bowl had some small nicks in it that needed to be cleaned up. The surface of the beveled rim had some lava overflow and was darkened in several places around the top and the inner edge of the bowl. It was hard to tell for certain from the photos but there was probably some wear on the top and inner edges. The next photo he included showed the stem. Not only was it oxidized with a nice greenish brown colour but there was the “little issue” shown on the underside of the stem. There was a large chunk of vulcanite missing from the button and extended down into the surface of the stem. It appeared to be broken off and I wonder if had not happened when attempting to drill out the broken stinger. I am not sure but I have seen that kind of damage done with a drill bit on other stems in the past. The other possibility is less likely but could have happened, while inserting a thick pipe cleaner the button had cracked and come off.The final two photos pin point the second issue that he was having with the pipe. The metal stinger threaded into the tenon that comes on all Dr. Plumb pipes had been broken off with the threaded portion of it stuck in the tenon and extending part of the way up the stem. His photos included a tenon end shot and a photo of the broken stinger by itself. You can see the ragged edge of the end that would have sat flush against the end of the tenon.Once I saw the photos, I wrote back and told him to send the pipe up to Canada and I would see what I could do with the issues on the pipe. He packed it up and sent it off to me. It did not take too long for it to arrive here in Vancouver. I unpacked it from the mailing envelope it came in and had a look at it. It was even a better looking little Bulldog in person. There were a few small fills on the shank. The largest of the fills was on the right side of the shank right at the junction of the stem and bowl. The crack went through and around the fill. The pipe was stamped faintly on the left side of the shank with the script Dr. Plumb over Perfect Pipe and on the right side it was faintly stamped Made in England and the shape number 134. The stamping was only readable under a bright light. The shank was dirty and the airway in the bowl was tarry and dirty from the buildup around the stinger apparatus. The airway in the stem was dirty and partially blocked by the broken stinger. I took photos of the pipe when I received it so I would have a base to show the progress once I had finished. The third photo shows the damaged stem and I have circled the missing chunk of vulcanite in red. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the darkening to the rim and the debris that was built up on the top. There was some damage to the inner edge of the rim that would need to be smoothed out.I took some photos of the stem to show the oxidation and the damaged area on the underside at the button.I made a wedge out of cardboard and cellophane tape and pushed it into the slot in the button to provide a base for the repair. I mixed charcoal powder with black super glue and built up the missing chunk. I removed the wedge and slid a greased pipe cleaner into the slot and built up the area on the end of the button. I filled in the deep tooth marks on the top side of the stem with the mixture. I filed the repair on the underside of the stem with a rasp and a file to begin to shape the button edge and blend the repair into the surface of the stem. I shaped the button with the files as well to begin to shape it in a classic football shape to match the top half of the stem. The photos show the progress of the shaping. Once I had the levels on the surface correct I wiped the stem down and could see the tiny air bubbles in the repair. I filled them in with clear super glue and let them cure. Once the repairs had cured I used needle files to reshape the button and slot in the end of the stem. There were a few more air bubbles that showed up as I reshaped the button. Once they dried I sanded repaired spots. I used the files to cut the sharp edge of the button. When the spots dried I sanded the surface of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repaired areas and blend them into the rest of the stem. I set the stem aside for awhile and worked on the bowl. I wiped down the area around the crack in the shank and drilled small microdrill bit holes in the end of each of them. I fount that on the right side there was a third trail of crack so I drilled it as well. I filled in the drill holes with clear super glue. I layered in the glue to a bubble and let it dry. Once the glue had dried I sanded the length of each crack in the shank and the repaired holes as well until they were smooth. I sanded the beveled rim top to smooth out the damage and clean up the surface. I worked over the inner edge with sandpaper to smooth out the damaged areas.I used a dark brown stain pen to touch up the repaired and sanded areas on the shank and on the beveled rim top. I cleaned out the inside of the shank and mortise with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol until the shank was clean and all of the oils and tars were removed.I stained the bowl and shank with a dark brown aniline stain. I flamed the stain to set it in the briar and repeated the process until the coverage around the bowl was even. I wiped down the briar with alcohol on cotton pads to make it more transparent. After wiping it down the grain shone through the stain coat. I think that once it is polished it would be a beautiful finish for this Dr. Plumb. Polishing the stem was a harder prospect and took more work than the bowl. The sanding and polishing process repeatedly revealed new air bubbles in the newly built up underside of the stem and button. I sanded and added drops of clear super glue to take care of each air bubble. It was tedious but it paid off. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiping down the stem after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I checked for new air bubbles and then went on to dry sand it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I gave it a coat of oil after each one and then finished polishing it with 6000-12000 grit pads. I repeated the oil after each pad and after the 12000 grit pad I set the stem aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond. I kept a light touch in buffing the underside of the stem and button as I did not want to do any harm to the repair. I buffed the repairs on the shank normally and the rest of the pipe the same way. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine in the briar and vulcanite. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe is almost ready to go back to the pipe man who sent it to me. It will go out later this week after I do a last minute check up on the entire pipe. I want it to go back to him in good condition. Thanks for walking with me through this repair and restoration project.

A Newbie Restore of a Dr. Plumb 9456 Oom Paul

Blog by Dal Stanton

It is a pleasure to introduce Dal Stanton to you all. He has become a good friend through the work that I do. I just returned from spending time with him in Sofia, Bulgaria where we went pipe hunting and enjoyed some great smokes over dinner together. Here is his first blog for rebornpipes. I hope that he will do many more. Thanks Dal. Welcome to rebornpipes as a contributor. — Steve

Well, after much encouragement and a bit of prodding from Steve, I’m submitting this, my first full restore, to rebornpipes exclusively (and hesitantly) from a newbie’s perspective.  After discovering the hobby of restoration only last year, I’ve been intrigued by the restoration process and amazed at the skills and blogging of Steve Laug (rebornpipes.com), and Charles Lemon (Dad’sPipes.com) and several other contributors.  I thoroughly enjoyed the ‘Mission Impossible’ episodes that Steve and Charles collaborated on.  All the posts have been workshops for me as I’ve pieced together the different steps and techniques of pipe restoration.  Since I live in Sofia, Bulgaria, and on the 10th floor of a formerly Communist ‘Block’ apartment complex, I do not have a basement or a garage to set up a workspace.  My wife has lovingly allowed me to set up shop in our bedroom (yes, I know that limits the night-time hours for restoration and reflection!) but it has forced me to develop ‘compact’ ways of approaching the hobby.  Instead of polishing wheels I utilize a Dremel with many wheels purchased from China on eBay!  It works well for me and most importantly, I’m enjoying something that has surprised me with the satisfaction involved in finding a tired candidate that can be redeemed and brought back to life.

So, in April I found the Oom Paul bowl from a vendor in an outside antique market in the shadow of Sofia’s largest church building – Nevski Cathedral.  I enjoy my developing relationship with the young Bulgarian man who enjoys the bartering event as much as I and has begun to recognize me in the crowd as I have become a regular buying customer.  After looking through his holdings and striking deals for a few tired candidates for future attention, he produced a bag full of orphaned bowls and stems.  At this point in my early pipe collecting strategy, my eye is drawn to the styles I’ve yet to add.  The Oom Paul jumped out even though I wasn’t sure I wanted to touch it!  The first question that came to my mind as I got a feel for the bowl in my palm was, “How could anyone smoke a pipe to a state that I was looking at!”  I took the pictures below when I got home from the antique market. Dal1 Dal2 Dal3 Dal4My initial look at the markings found Dr. Plumb over London Made with what I assume is the shape number 9456.  I checked it out in Pipedia and found this:  The Dr. Plumb brand name is owned by A. Oppenheimer & Co., Limited, owners of Cadogan Investments, Ltd. J.B. Rubinovich, GBD’s Parisian sales manager, created this brand in 1925. The pipe was produced by the Ruchon & Verguet and also Ropp factories (Saint-Claude, France). In 1962 a Dr. Plumb pipe sold for between C$3.95 and C$4.95, or $31.72 in 2015 U.S. dollars and pipes can still be purchased from this brand for a similar price today.  These pipes have long been advertised as Dr. Plumb’s Perfect Pipe, that name coming from an aluminum tube system designed to keep the smoke cool and dry while at the same time permitting the “cooling chamber” to be cleaned by simply twisting the stem. While Dr. Plumb pipes were long made in France and stamped accordingly, they are now British made.

The bowl was almost closed with the buildup of lava and the rim was in pretty tough shape revealing at least one unfortunate drop on the front – that part that I could see.  A look down the shank revealed something lodged.  I couldn’t detect any cracks or burns.  I enjoyed the feel of the bowl in my hand and the briar had great potential – I liked the dark reddish hue of the briar and the gentle rustification seemed to enhance the mostly hidden grain but showing promise.  I would have to ream the bowl and clean the rim before I could know what might lie underneath.  I would also have to find an appropriate stem too to fit the Dr. Plumb, no small task in Bulgaria.  Since I was soon to make a trip to the US for my daughter’s graduation from college (Yes!), I decided to order the needed stem and bring it back to Bulgaria in order to complete the restoration.  Steve recommended J. H. Lowes (http://www.jhlowe.com/).  I discovered that finding the correct stem wasn’t too difficult but I was a bit nervous about the measurements.  The directions on the website were pretty clear that the shank diameter would do the trick.  I wasn’t sure whether the tenon measurements factored in at all.  I purchased the Giudici bit – Round Saddle 17mm X 75mm.  While I was buying a stem for my Oom Paul project, I bought a selection of nickel silver bands to have on hand in Bulgaria.  While I was looking at the bands, I had the idea of dressing the Oom Paul with a band – and since it was my first honest to goodness restore – I splurged and bought a sterling silver band – oh, to get the correct size!  Again, the size was measured by the diameter of the shank as the stem which looked to be at 17.5mm.   I might also mention that Tim West at JH Lowe answered my emailed newbie questions and was a great help.  Having put in motion the strategic plan with the stem and band, I moved to the cleanup of the bowl.  In order to soften the muck buildup in the bowl I put the bowl in a bath of isopropyl 95% overnight.  The pictures reveal the post-bath bowl working in my ‘satellite workspace’ on the 10th floor balcony!Dal5 Dal6 Dal7I tried unsuccessfully to remove the obstacle in the shank using a wooden chopstick as a tool.  It works great on Chinese food, but not so well here.  I decided to leave the shank for the time and I moved to reaming the bowl with the Pipnet reaming kit that recently arrived from Germany – eBay of course.  I started with the smallest blade working toward the larger bringing the tobacco chamber back to the wood.  Not having used the reaming kit too much, I’ve learned that it works best if I allow each blade to do the work – not applying too much vertical pressure on the tool.  Simply rotating the tool (clockwise) with consistent pressure proved to do the job.  I had a pretty big pile of ‘charcoal dust’ resulting from the ream – Question: Can this be used for stem repairs mixing with superglue?  After completing the ream I turned my attention to the rim.  I used a brass brush and isopropyl to clear away the remaining lava flow allowing me to see more clearly the condition. The rim would need to be topped but the prospect of ’re-rustifying’ the rim was a daunting thought at this point.  The rim appeared to have a ‘lined’ rustification before, but I decided to put that question off till later. These pictures show the progress.Dal8 Dal9Moving to the shank, I knew that I would need to do extraction work.  After working with several Qtips and a dental probe I was not able to extract the muck.  Drawing on previous rebornpipes posts, I decided to use a wood screw to remove an obstruction.  While I don’t have an extraction tool like Steve’s, in Bulgaria we do have wood screws.  Carefully I inserted a smaller diameter wood screw into the mortise slowly rotating the screw to grip the obstruction without damaging the briar.  Thankfully, the battle was not long and the pictures reveal the unearthed obstacle to now allow pipe cleaners to do their part.Dal10 Dal11 Dal12When the remains of what appeared to be an old filter were removed, I went to work on the airway with pipe cleaners and Qtips dipped in isopropyl 95%.  Cleaning the Oom Paul seemed to go on forever.  Part of the problem was that I could not quite figure out through ‘Qtip feel’ what the design was in the internals of the bowl.  No matter how many Qtips I put in, they didn’t seem to make a dent on the muck.  So I went to the internet and discovered on puff.com questions from what appeared to be another newbie trying to figure out Oom Paul gunk problems.  I discovered that Dr. Plumb’s internal design had a trap that would collect the moisture while the airway flowed over it – theoretically giving the proverbial ‘dryer and cooler’ smoking experience.  I’ve included the cut-away picture that helped me understand what I was dealing with in my seemingly unending cleaning project.  If I had a retort at this point, I would have put it to work (I just ordered one on eBay that I would also pick up in the US and bring back to Bulgaria!).  I settled for loading the bowl and shank with isopropyl and letting it sit overnight again hopefully to loosen things up more.  The next day I used a bunch of Qtips and pipe cleaners to clean the bowl sufficiently for me.  At this point I put the project aside in anticipation of my trip to the US.  I needed to have stem and band in hand before I proceeded with the bowl preparation and finishing.  I would also return from the US with purchased cleaning and finishing supplies that I cannot find in Bulgaria.  Thankfully, Qtips are in great supply in Bulgaria!Dal13http://www.puff.com/forums/vb/general-pipe-forum/175391-oom-paul-gunk-problem-2.html

Dal14My time in the US for my youngest daughter’s graduation from college was a blessing as my wife and I were reunited with our 5 children and now, 2 grandchildren.  We were happy to meet our newest grandson who was born only recently!  I returned with a suitcase full of eBay estate pipe purchases to compliment my local finds – as well as cleaning and finishing supplies that I could not find in Bulgaria.  My new retort arrived too and I’m looking forward to giving it a go – though I am a bit nervous about boiling alcohol!  Also in hand were the new stem and band that JH Lowe had delivered to my US mailbox.  I was anxious to see if my measurements were accurate and to continue my Oom Paul project.  The first thing I discovered was that the tenon of the new stem was too large and would need to be resized.  I was relieved to see that the actual diameter measurement of the shank was correct.  From this I learned that there seems to be no standard tenon sizing with new stems – the most important measurement is the exterior dimensions, so that the stem and the shank have a proper mating.  Given that I had not shaped a tenon before, I discovered that I had all the tools needed after a quick email question to Steve – what I didn’t know I would have was the patience to go slowly!  My biggest concern was that the ’rounding’ of the tenon would not be true as I downsized it with the use of Dremel, files and sandpaper.  I knew also that I didn’t want to have to repair a previously uncracked shank by forcing a too large tenon into the mortise.  I ALSO knew that I didn’t want to take too much off the tenon and it be too loose and then have to build it back up with clear nail polish (epoxy) which I’ve had to do before.  With questions and concerns loaded in my conscious mind, I went to work on the brand new stem.  The pictures show the progress. Dal15 Dal16 Dal17 Dal18After bringing the tenon down to close proximity to the mortise size, I gently tried the fit the tenon without pushing.  I did this several times while slowly taking more vulcanite off the tenon.  I discovered that when I partially inserted the tenon into the mortise to test it, the places on the tenon that were more firmly in contact with the mortise wall would be shinier – thus cluing me in to where I needed to apply the file more directly.  I also discovered that the positioning of the stem in the shank – as it progressed more deeply into the mortise – began to reveal a more favorable positioning of the stem for the eventual bend direction that would be made.  The technique I used (discovered!) that seemed to make sense as I started the process was to shape the tenon as a cone that gradually brought the tenon tip to the correct diameter of the mortise.  I then moved gradually working that diameter toward the base of the tenon.  By doing this I was more effectively able to remove the vulcanite evenly and not have a crooked or untrue tenon.  The pictures below show the seated tenon from different angles.  I realized that the base of the tenon where it ties into the stem was pretty roughed up from my use of the Dremel. It unevenly pushed out at the shank and needed more attention.  I decided to put the stem aside for a while and turn to the bowl – I needed some new scenery at this point!Dal19Looking to the rim, I took some closer pictures as a reminder of the rustification design.  The damage on the front of the bowl was significant and the bowl needed to be topped. I moved out onto the balcony so as to minimize the sawdust in our bedroom (helping my wife to be happier 🙂 and I spread out 230 sandpaper on a flat surface (cutting board).  I wanted to take off enough of the top to remove the rim damage but not too much to maintain the bowl proportions.Dal20 Dal21I was satisfied with the topping at this point.  However, what the topping revealed was the beautiful briar underneath.  Part of what has attracted me to this hobby is the ‘surprise’ I get from each peek of revealed briar grain – never the same, always creatively new with potential beauty to be more fully revealed.  Getting ready for staining the bowl, I used a dark mahogany stain stick (from Italy) to darken the rim and bring out the dark rich reds I’m seeing in the briar.Dal22 Dal23I have yet to find an alcohol based stain in Bulgaria that Steve uses in his restorations.  The stains are pigment based with water.  So, the ‘flaming’ technique that I’ve studied on rebornpipes doesn’t come without some help.  I used a Cherrywood stain and diluted it with 50% alcohol as the base stain.  Again, reaching for the red-tones that I see in the briar.  When I applied the stain mix I used a cotton ball and let it flow over the bowl surface.  I was careful to have full coverage by picking up the candle stick and cork set-up and manipulating the stain so it reached the inverted rim.  When I applied the lighter, it still didn’t flame but I was able to essentially ‘dry’ the stain to the wood by moving the lighter lightly over the surface.  I think it pretty closely achieved the same thing – sealing the dye in the grain.  I repeated the process a second time – the pictures show the progress.  Oh, and shot glasses make for good stain mixers in cramped quarters! (Also, thanks to my wife for providing the candle holder :-).  I put the stained bowl aside for several hours to allow the stain to set – I suppose it needed it, but I had other things to do!Dal24I was anxious to get back to the project because I would be able to employ new supplies that I just brought back from the US – Tripoli, Blue Diamond and carnauba wax!  I also had purchased different Dremel wheels for each different application.  Based upon my readings, I used felt wheels for the Tripoli and blue diamond applications – in that order.  Then, to bring out the grain further, I used a cotton wheel attachment for the carnauba wax application.  Since Dremels have a very high RPM potential, I buffed at the slowest setting and kept the wheels moving so as to not overly heat up a particular area.  Applying the carnauba wax needed some heat to spread the wax evenly over the bowl surface, but I soon was able to see the way the wax liquefied and I used that to work over a particular area and then move on.  Its difficult describing the ‘rush’ of seeing the beauty of the briar grain emerge with each application.  It was at this point I decided not to rusticate the rim, but to leave it smooth, revealing the grain and to me, a very classic appearance when adding the band.  The pictures show the bowl but I know that I will need to polish up more after applying the band later on.Dal25 Dal26 Dal27 Dal28With the bowl restoration nearly complete, I was re-energized to look at the stem.  The tenon needed to be more finely-tuned to fit the mortise, but first, I had to deal with scars from the over-anxious Dremel sanding wheel that ate a little too much into the base of the tenon.  The result was that small ridges kept the stem from seating snugly up to the shank.  I remembered a technique I read on, I believe, Dadspipes.com (I’ve read so much I can’t remember for sure!) that was able to help me uniformly smooth out the base of the tenon, which is almost impossible using files freehand.  I drilled a hole in a piece of wood providing enough space for the tenon to rotate freely and covered the hole with 230 sanding paper and clamped it.  I punctured the paper and then forced the tenon into the hole.  I rotated the stem on the flat board back and forth to evenly sand down the tenon base.  I stopped the rotation periodically and let the stem ‘free-stand’ in order to eye-ball it and to make sure I was not sanding unevenly and unintentionally creating a tilt. The pictures show the process and the successful results of a more snuggly fitting stem!Dal29 Dal30 Dal31 Dal32 Dal33 Dal34Again I was anxious to move to finishing the stem proper and to utilize the micro-mesh pads that were newly acquired in the US!  Up to this point I had been utilizing sanding paper I found here in Bulgaria and I was anxious to see the results of using micro-mesh pads.  I employed Steve’s stem finishing pattern that he utilizes with almost each stem finish: Picture 1 reveals the results of wet-sanding with micro-mesh 1500, 1800, and 2400 then an application of obsidian oil.  Following is dry sanding with 3200, 3600, 4000 again followed by an application of obsidian oil.  I have to confess, I was so excited to see the luster popping out I forgot to document the two sets with a picture!  Finally, picture 2 shows the results from dry-sanding (with obsidian oil) with 6000, 8000, and 12000.  After this, I gave the stem another coat of obsidian oil and put it aside to dry.Dal35 Dal36Now I’m stoked!  While the obsidian oil was drying I was re-reading the blogs on bending stems (https://rebornpipes.com/2012/07/15/bending-vulcanite-stems/) and turning on the oven to warm it up.  My experience was limited – I bent one stem for a pipe I acquired off eBay from Budapest, Hungary.  I named that pipe, Budapest (I may have developed a bad habit of naming my pipes like pets…).  I warmed the oven to about 200 to 220 Fahrenheit, (for those living in Europe that is about 93 to 100 C).  I found a ‘bender’ using a small jar measuring about 1.5 inches in diameter and stuck the pipe cleaner in the airway to keep it open during the bend.  I had researched pictures of Oom Pauls and I found another Dr. Plumbs 9456 online (http://www.bidorbuy.co.za/item/222662283/VINTAGE_DR_PLUMB_LONDON_MADE_SMOKING_PIPE_NO_9456.html).  I wanted the bend to reflect the original as closely as possible.  I wanted the bend to be tighter toward the stem expansion at the base – the effect was that the button end of the stem reached out more, or it seemed to me.  It didn’t take long for the vulcanite to become pliable – about 5 minutes or so in the oven on a cookie sheet (thanks again to my wife!).  When I brought it out the first time and bent it over the jar, I was not pleased with the bend – it was too much of an arch for my liking.  So I found a pestle from my wife’s mortar and pestle set that she uses to grind up spices.  Its diameter was smaller.  I put the stem back into the oven and it slowly flattened back out as it heated up.  After about 7 minutes I took it out and bent it around the pestle – that got it.  I held the bend (careful, it’s hot!) and ran the stem under tap water to galvanize the bend.   I wanted the angle to be right – anxious to see the stem with the bowl, I took a few pictures to show what I feel are better results.Dal37 Dal38 Dal39Almost home.  The sterling silver band was awaiting my attention but I wasn’t in a mood to be rushed!  I re-read again Steve’s blogs on banding (https://rebornpipes.com/2012/10/31/banding-a-cracked-shank-pressure-fitting-a-metal-band-on-a-pipe-shank/). Armed with renewed knowledge and the resounding warning not to work too quickly (or else you will tear the band!) I started the work on the band.  I had one large obstacle – I did not have a heat gun to apply heat to the band to enable its expansion to fit successfully over the shank (and not tear!).  I did not have a heat gun, but my wife owns one of the wonders of German technology, a Braun hairdryer.  It gets pretty hot and I gave it a try.  The first picture shows the band placement (about 50% shy) before I started the hairdryer heating process.  I heated up the band on the shank as shown in picture 2 and after about 1 minute or so I took the shank and pressed it down against the cloth on a flat cutting board and applied gentle vertical pressure against the band to slide it further onto the stem.  Patience – I kept hearing “Don’t tear it!”  After I felt a wee bit of movement from the band I stopped the downward pressure and started the reheating process again and then again, a wee bit of band movement as I pressed it vertically against the cloth.  I repeated this process about 7 or so times and was able to move the band to where I wanted it – without tearing it! (picture 3).  I finished up by applying some Weiman Silver Cream to shine the band up nicely.Dal40 Dal41 Dal42 Dal43I’m very pleased with the results of restoring this Oom Paul and putting him back into service.  I’ve already identified areas that I want to improve next time around.  I didn’t describe how I had to re-top the bowl after I put the stem in and discovered that the rim was not perpendicular to the shank.  Result?  The stem was tilted out and not aligned.  I re-topped the rim to straighten it.  I also detected areas on the stem I had missed during the sanding process.  Yet, overall I’m very pleased and appreciate the rich color and grain of this piece of briar.  I think the band sets if off in a classic way.  Since this Oom Paul will remain in my collection, I’ve named it – a bad habit probably, but I enjoy the life rekindled in restored pipes and names seem appropriate.  Steve told me about the history of Oom Pauls in his recent visit to Bulgaria.  This is when I learned that Oom Paul was Afrikaans Dutch meaning ‘Uncle Paul’.  So, in Bulgarian, meet ‘Chicho Pavel’!  Thanks for reading!Dal44 Dal45 Dal46 Dal47 Dal48 Dal49 Dal50 Dal51 Dal52 Dal53


Adding a Tiny Dr. Plumb Bulldog to an earlier find of a Tiny Dr. Plumb Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

I was gifted a tiny little Dr. Plumb Bulldog a few weeks ago by a friend and that reminded me that I also had a tiny little Dr. Plumb Billiard as well. I have no idea if these were salesmen pipes but they have the same size as many of those that I have seen over the years. Both were smoked and had a cake in the bowl. The billiard has the original stinger apparatus in it but the little bulldog is sans stinger. They are only about 4.5 inches long and incredibly delicate looking. All briar and vulcanite stems and very smokable. The next two pictures below show the little dog next to the Dr. Grabow I cleaned up earlier for comparison and to give an idea of the size.Dr1

Dr2 The little bulldog is stamped Dr. Plumb Extra on the left top side of the diamond shank and is stamped France on the right bottom side of the shank.KWA24 The pipe was in pretty good shape. The finish was slightly worn and the rim had a buildup of tars. The inner and outer edge of the rim was undamaged. The bowl had a light cake in it and it and in the bottom of the bowl there was a groove where the original stinger apparatus extended from the tenon the length of the shank. The stem was oxidized and there was tooth chatter on the top and the bottom of the stem next to the button.Dr4 I took the next four photos to show what the pipe looked like when I started working on it. There is an understated elegance to this little bulldog.Dr5



Dr8 To give another view of the smallness of the pipe I took a photo of it with my little finger inserted in the bowl. It was a tight fit for even the tip of my little finger.Dr9 The bowl was so small that none of my reamers fit in the bowl. I used a pen knife letter opener to scrape the cake back to the briar.Dr10

Dr11 I scrubbed out the shank and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol until it was clean.Dr12 I took out the tiny billiard that I also have and took a picture of the two pipes together. In the billiard’s bowl you can see the end of the stinger in the bottom of the bowl.Dr13 While both pipes are tiny the bulldog appears to be a little bit smaller. I compare it to the size variation between bulldogs and billiards in general.Dr14 The diameter of bowl bowls is identical. Both are ½ inch in diameter. The depth of the billiard is deeper than that of the bulldog.Dr15

Dr16 I scrubbed the tars on the rim with cotton pads and saliva and was able to remove most of the buildup. I followed that by lightly sanding the stem with 1500 grit micromesh sanding pads.Dr17 I sanded the stem lightly with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge to break up the oxidation. I followed that by sanding with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each set of three pads and then gave it a final rub down with the oil once I had finished.Dr18



Dr21 I was able to remove the oxidation and the tooth chatter with little effort. The stem has a deep glow to the vulcanite. The finished pipe is shown below. One day I will fire them both up with a nice Virginia flake for a quick and flavourful smoke.Dr22






An Easy Restoration – A Dr. Plumb Flat-Grip 422 Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

After the latest struggle with the Savinelli I decided to work on one that I thought would be an easy restoration. But given my track record with the last one I was not sure. Time would tell if it would be easy or if the work on it that I did would make it hard. This little billiard came to me in the gift box of pipes to rework.boxadditions It is stamped on the right side of the shank Dr. Plumb in a script over – Flat-Grip. On the right side of the shank it is stamped with the shaper number, 722. On the underside of the shank there is a horizontal stamping next to the stem that reads FRANCE.Dr1

Dr2 The pipe was in good condition. The finish was dirty but had no damage. There was one fill on the bowl on the back right side. The stain was even and not faded at the shank stem union or on the sides of the bowl. The rim had some build up and darkening but did not have damage to either the inner or outer edges. It had a slight bevel inward to the bowl that is often found on older billiards of this era. The shape bore all the marks of the GBD line that is sprung from. My guess is that the one fill on the back right moved it from the GBD line to the Dr. Plumb line. The stem was oxidized and had some tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. The bowl was caked and had a few spots that looked like mould on the inside of the bowl. I scraped one and looked at it under the light to see if it was mould. For all intents and purposes it was. Now the question was how deep into the cake did it go and would a complete ream of the bowl remove it from the pipe. Maybe this pipe would not be as easy a restoration as I had thought.Dr3

Dr4 The stem had the Dr. Plumb red dot on the top of the stem with the word PLUMB stamped over the top in white. The Plumb stamping on the stem would need to be touched up.Dr5

Dr6 I have included two close-up photos of the bowl rim and the white mould in the bowl. I was very curious to see if a good ream would remove it. Would the mould go deeper into the bowl than the cake? Would it be in the briar itself? I certainly hoped not but a reaming would disclose the depth of the problem.Dr7

Dr8 I reamed the cake back to bare wood. I wanted to remove all signs of the mould. I scrubbed off the cutting head before putting it away. I examined the bowl to make sure I had removed all of the signs of the mould. The wood was clean and bare. It was so it looked as if the mould had only been on the surface. I scrubbed the surface of the walls with alcohol and cotton swabs to make sure that none of the spores survived.Dr9

Dr10 I scrubbed the darkening and build up on the rim with cotton pads and saliva and was able to remove it. I use cotton swabs with alcohol as a follow up on the rim and when I was finished the rim was dull but clean.Dr11


Dr13 I scrubbed out the shank with cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol and pipe cleaners to clean out the airway in the mortise and the stem. I put the stem back in the mortise and took a few photos of the pipe at this point.Dr14

Dr15 The Dr. Plumb Flat Grip stem is unique in its design. It has a different style of taper that allows it to have what GBD called a flat surface. Instead of a crowned, rounded stem top and bottom there were slight taper from the edge of the surface to the side of the stem on all sides top and bottom. On this stem these were slightly rounded from use. I used a 220 grit sandpaper to break through the surface of the oxidation, remove the tooth marks and chatter and also clean up these tapered edges.Dr16

Dr17 I sanded the stem with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to smooth out the scratches and clean up the stem surface further. I wet sanded the stem with 1500 grit micromesh and then used a liquid paper/Whiteout to touch up the PLUMB stamping on the top near the shank.Dr18

Dr19 I put the plastic washer on the tenon and inserted it into the shank so that I could sand the edge without rounding the shoulders of the stem. I sanded it with a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the light oxidation that still remained on the shoulders. I repeated the wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and then dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each set of three pads. I rubbed it down a final time and let it sit until it was absorbed into the vulcanite.Dr20


Dr22 I buffed the stem with White Diamond to finish polishing it and raise the shine. I buffed it with a soft flannel buff to finish the stem.Dr23

Dr24 I buffed the entire pipe with White Diamond and Blue Diamond to polish the briar and stem. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax and then buffed it with a soft flannel buffing pad to raise the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is cleaned and there is no sign of the mould that once was in the bowl. The pipe smells clean and new. It is ready to load up and smoke the first bowl.





Reworking a Dr. Plumb Statesman

The second pipe in the lot of three pipes I picked up on EBay was this long shanked billiard. The first one I refurbished and posted about was the no name poker that I wrote about here. This one was stamped Dr. Plumb over London Made over Statesman on the underside of the shank. The sand blast was very nice on it. In fact I like the deep grooves and flow of the blast on the briar. The rim was shot. It had been sanded smooth (may have been smooth originally to match the smooth portions of the bowl). It was also no longer flat. When the pipe was laid down on the rim it rocked in every direction. It was rough and pitted from tapping the pipe out. The bowl was a bit out of round and the previous owner had reamed the inner rim with a knife at an angle that really damaged the inside rim and the roundness of the bowl. The stem had the same white calcification on it as the poker. This one also had teeth marks and dents in it. The slot on the stem was closed with the white calcified material and there was no open airway in the stem. The shank was dirty and clogged and the bowl needed to be reamed in the lower portion. The first four picture show the pipe as it was when it came to me.


It had the same alcohol bath as the poker and I am including the same photos of that process I included in the previous post. It soaked for two hours and then I took it out and dried the bowls off with a soft cloth. I also soaked the stem in Oxyclean to soften the calcification on the button area.


In the photo below you can clearly see the flaw in the briar of the Dr. Plumb (the pipe on the right side of the photo). The alcohol bath softened the fill and it fell out of the crevice. It was quite large but not deep. It appears to me that it opened up larger as the pipe was blasted. You can also see in the second photo below the shape of the bowl and rim of the pipe.


The first thing that I decided to address with regard to this pipe was the rim. I set up my board for sanding the top. I anchored the sandpaper to it. I used a pretty heavy grit for this one because I needed to remove quite a bit of the top to smooth it out and remove the rockiness of the pipe. I used a medium grit emery paper. I hold the pipe flat against the board and sandpaper and sand it in a circular fashion clockwise. I don’t know what the point is of that but that has been my practice for as long as I remember. The next two photos show that process. Once I had the top level once again I sanded it in the same manner using 240 grit sandpaper and then 400 and 600 wet dry sandpaper and water. I finished sanding the top with the micromesh sanding pads from 1500 – 12,000 grit.


The next photo shows the finished topping of the bowl. The grain is quite nice and will stain well in contrast to the roughness of the blast. The second and third photo below show the repaired fill in the shank. I used briar dust from the topping of the bowl and packed it into the crevice with a dental pick. When it was full I dripped super glue into the dust. Once it was dry I used a wire brush on the shank rather than sandpaper. I wanted to remove the signs of my repair without sanding the fill. The shank looked really good when that job was done. The pipe was basically ready for a coat of brown aniline stain.


I used my dental pick for a handle by inserting it into the mortise and then used Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye. I diluted it 2 to 1 with Isopropyl alcohol to get the colour I was aiming for. Once I coated it with the stain I flamed the stain to set it in the grain. I repeated this several times to make certain I had stained all the crevices and blast. The first picture below is of the wet pipe. The second is of the bowl after flaming the stain. I light wooden matches and ignite the stain. The alcohol burns off and the pipe then is dry to touch.


At this point in my refurbishing process I took the bowl to the buffer and buffed the bowl lightly with Tripoli and the repeated it with White Diamond. My goal was to buff of the high areas and make a bit of contrast. I also wanted to buff the rim to make it a bit lighter than the blast and have it match the smooth patch on the bottom of the shank.

I then went to work on the stem. I heated the dents to raise them as much as possible and then sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the remaining tooth chatter and also to remove the calcified area around the button. I cleaned out the stem with pipe cleaners and a shank brush to remove the tars and oils and to open the stem. I used the dental pick to clean out the slot in the button. Once that was done I sanded the stem with a fine grit sanding pad and then progressed through 1500, 1600, and 2400 grit micromesh before scrubbing the stem with Maguiar’s X2.0 scratch polish. I rub it on with a cotton pad and let it dry a bit before rubbing it off. I finished sanding the stem with 3200 – 12,000 grit micromesh pads and then buffed the stem with White Diamond. I coated it with Obsidian Oil and then when it dried I coated it with multiple coats of carnauba wax. I waxed the rim and the smooth part with carnauba and then used Halcyon II wax on the sandblast. I buffed the pipe with a light touch on the cotton buffing wheel to polish and then hand buffed it with a shoe brush. Here is the final product – ready to fire up!


Once I had posted the pictures of the pipe above when I blew them up to see them more clearly the top of the rim was full of scratches and obviously to me needed more work so I just finished reworking the rim and restaining it. IMG_9265IMG_9264


This little Dr. Plumb Bulldog is a beauty

Blog by Steve Laug

This little pipe came to me via a friend in Germany. I finished cleaning up what has turned out to be a very nice squat straight bulldog that is stamped Dr. Plumb Extra on one side and 13 D.R.G.M. on the other. I have been familiar with Dr. Plumb pipes for quite a while and love the fact that they were a GBD seconds line. In fact they often share the same numbering system for shapes. This little guy had some serious issues when I took it under my wing. It needed a bit of work. The bowl was scorched along the front outer edge of the rim as it looked to have been lit with a torch lighter. The finish was shot and not only faded and washed out but also pitted and darkened along the bowl sides. The stem was oxidized and a bit chewed on the end. The stinger apparatus was dark and filled with tars and hardened tobacco oils.

My friend had started removing the burn mark and the bowl angles were slightly out or line. I finished removing the scorched briar and reworked the angles on all the outer edges of the bowl to keep the perspective and rim correct. I gave a ream and clean to remove any of the remaining cake and the sanding dust that had become embedded in the cracks in the cake. I put the bowl in the alcohol bath and then worked on the stem.

The pipe had the strangest stinger contraption I have ever seen that extends into the bottom of the bowl. It almost looks like a motorcycle exhaust pipe. I have inserted a few pictures of the stinger and fit in the bowl. I removed the stinger and placed in a small bowl of alcohol to soak. The stem was badly oxidized – not the brown oxidation that sat on the surface but a deep oxidation that left the stem a deep brown under the surface. I had been soaking the stem in Oxyclean while I worked on the burn on the rim of the bowl so that when I removed it from the water the oxidation had been brought to the surface. I used my buffer to remove the surface oxidation that had softened. I use Tripoli at this stage and work the stem carefully on the buffer to avoid rounding the shoulders on the stem. Then I sanded it with 240 grit sandpaper until it was matte black and clean. I then sanded it with 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper and water to remove the scratches. I finished the stem by sanding with the micromesh pads 1500-6000 grit until the stem had a sheen to it. ImageImage

I then took the bowl out of the alcohol bath and dried it off. I sanded it with the 1800-2400 grit micromesh pads until the surface was free of scratches and grooves and was smooth. Then I refinished it with an oxblood aniline stain to bring out the red highlights in the briar. I put the stem back on the pipe and took it to the buffer to buff with White Diamond. Once finished I gave the whole pipe several coats of carnauba wax. ImageImageImage

Dr. Plumb Bulldog Restoration

My daughter’s boyfriend found this neat little Dr. Plumb bulldog at a New Orleans shop and sent it to me for restoration. I thought Dr. Plumb had a connection to GBD and I believe they are now owned by the Cadogan group. The stem was in terrific shape, save for a heavy coat of oxidation. The top of the bowl was scorched and it had some dents and scratches.


I reamed the bowl with both my Castleford and Senor reamers. Someone in the pipes past had reamed it a little out of round, but it wasn’t too bad. I removed some of the dents with a knife heated by a flame and a wet towel. Most of the major ones popped back out nicely. The bowl has some fills, but they are hidden well by the factory finish. In order to remove the scorched top, it would have required a restain. I was afraid with the numerous fills, it would look better with the factory finish. “Character” as they say. I buffed the bowl with some Tripoli, White diamond and with a final buff using Carnuba. The stamping is very legible.

The stem was soaked in an Oxyclean solution overnight to soften the brown coating. Unfortunately, the stem logo proved very problematic. I could not get the oxidation off this part of the stem without removing the logo. The owner opted for me to leave the logo and brown patch.

Here is the finished product.

The pipe sure looks like it would be a good smoking piece and I hope the young man enjoys it for many years.