Tag Archives: fitting a stem

A Fresh Lease On Life For a Castello Sea Rock ‘A’


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I had restored a Castello Sea Rock from my inherited pipe lot, my first Castello pipe, last year while Steve, Jeff and Dal Stanton had visited me in Pune, India (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/06/07/a-simple-restoration-of-a-castello-sea-rock-briar-56-f-pipe-with-steve-and-jeff-laug/)

Since then after I had smoked this pipe, I always wanted to lay my hands on another Castello. They are fantastic smokers, I say. However, the prices of Castello pipes had gone through the roof and to some extent, beyond reach. During one of my search on eBay for estate pipes, I came across this Castello Sea Rock pipe that was being sold for a considerably lesser price and it had the option for Best Offer. The long and short of it is that my best offer was accepted by the seller and the pipe made its way to Abha, my wife. That this pipe was being sold for such a low price was a pointer that there were issues with this pipe, but what exact issues and the extent of these issues was neither described by the seller nor were they visible in the pictures provided by the seller.

The pipe with its large Billiard bowl and a triangular shank looks beautiful. The stummel has deep and craggy rustications that feel tactile in the hand. The shank end is adorned with a gold/ brass band that add a touch of classy bling to the appearance of the pipe. The flat lower surface of the stummel is smooth and bears the stampings on this pipe. It is stamped as “CASTELLO” over “SEA ROCK BRIAR” followed by the letter “A”. Towards the shank end, it is stamped as “MADE IN CANTU” over “ITALY” over “HAND MADE”. Stamped at the very end of the shank and partially covered by the gold/ brass band is “CARLO SCOTTI” in an oval.  The triangular Lucite stem is stamped on the lower flat surface as “HAND MADE” over “CASTELLO” over code “# 3”.  The trademark WHITE BAR adorns the upper surface of the stem.    I had researched this brand extensively when I had worked on my first Castello, link for which I have provided at the very beginning of this write up. In order to establish the provenance of this pipe, I revisited the Briar Blues site where a detailed history and dating guide is available for the discerning reader. I have reproduced the entire article here for posterity as the external link provided on pipedia.org did not work.

https://briarblues.com/castello/

CASTELLO – DATING & INFORMATION GUIDE

NEW INFORMATION JUST IN – The very first pipes made by Carlo Scotti were in 1936 in Switzerland!!!

1947 – Carlo Scotti begins the company. In the beginning (1947 – 1949, maybe 1950 ) the pipes were stamped Mi Reserva ( my reserve ). Later the Reg No was added. This Reg No has nothing to do with shape numbers, but is merely the Castello company trademark.

Vulcanite stems used until? This is an interesting question. From early Castello pipe advertising from the Wally Frank and later Hollco Rohr companies it says the pipe comes with Vulcanite stems. However the photos appear to have pipes with Lucite stems. To our knowledge no one has yet seen a Vulcanite stemmed Castello with the faux diamond logo inset.

The Old Sea Rock and the Sea Rock co-existed. As far as I know, the OSR was US only, imported by Hollco Rohr, and sported the rhinestone. The Sea Rock goes back to the early days.

There was an Antiquari (not Old Antiquari) that was also a Hollco import, and was fume top and rusticated. I think it was only around for a couple of years.

Stem logo’s. White bar, black dot, and faux diamond. The first stem logo was the white bar. However once Castello began it’s working relationship with The Wally Frank Co a different stem logo was required, as The Wally Frank Co had a line of pipes named White Bar.

The faux diamond logo was created and used primarily for the US market for many years.

Castello still occasionally put rhinestones in the mouthpieces, just to maintain it’s value as a trademark. It’s not on many pieces. The black dot logo is used on Castello pipes with white Lucite stems.

Shape numbers. Shape numbers are all 2 digits. A 2 in front indicates a “fancy” interpretation, a 3 in front means that the carving is somehow unique. I don’t know when the change was made, but currently, a π symbol is used instead of the 3xx.  It may be seen on a variety of finishes, that may have a unique carved section or some other interesting feature.

Hollco Rohr begins distribution in the mid to late 1960’s when they take over the Wally Frank Company.

Big Line – stamp used from 1968 – 1972. Replaced by Great Line, although still used on huge pipes.

Colored Lucite stems – used in the 1970’s and on occasion today although the material is difficult to find.

Pre K grading. Late 1950’s to mid 1960’s the pipe carried stamps which indicted sizes. These were as follows; SA, SB, SC, and SS. SA being the smallest and SS the largest.

K grading begins. In 1969 Franco ( Kino ) Coppo joins the firm. In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s the company began the use of the K grading. The upper case large K, was used for non smooth pipes to designate size. For smooth pipes to indicate a combination of grain quality and size. These are also the years that Castello switched from machine made pipes that were hand finished to completely hand made pipes.

Switch from large K to small k in an oval. In 1982 the company changed from the use of the large upper case K grading to a small lower case k within an oval ( 2 k or greater ) or circle for single k grades.

1984 – 1985 Franco ( Kino ) Coppo takes over the running of the firm. The Kino “knickname” given to Franco by Carlo Scotti, and is a shortened version of his full birth name, Franchino.

The Natural Vergin were issued in 1967 first but only in 1985 they started to be produced in series only on the natural carved pipes.

1987 – the 40th anniversary Castello begins the number within a castle stamp. The number added to 1947 gives the year of pipe creation. ie 50 within a castle = 1947 + 50 = 1997.

1992 – Carlo Scotti passes away.

US stamp begin in 1997

KINO stamp begin in 2007 – 60th anniversary. Kino is Franco Coppo’s nick name.

X – stamped on pipe. This stamp is added to pipes that are picked up directly at the factory by customers. Indicates a “friendship” pipe.

Ever wonder where your pipe came from? Which shop had it first? If so, read below;

N1 = Novelli ( Italy )
N = Noli ( Italy )
F = Fincato ( Italy )
LO = Lorenzi ( Italy ) ( this shop has closed and they used to add a * on every pipe )
B = Bonfiglioli ( Italy )
BO = Bollito ( Italy )
B15 = Bollito ( Italy )
V = Agide ( Italy )
SO = Tabaccheria Scarafioffi ( Italy )
JO = Osstermann ( Austria )
R3 = Ruocco Raffaella of Savona ( Italy )
L – Lanzola ( Italy )
US = sold into the US via the US Castello agent
A = “Amicizia” or friendship. That is the stamping for the pipes given for free to friends. It is quite rare.
LOB = is part of a large collection that the factory just re-purchased and they stamped with LOB (Legendary old briar)

The information gathered on this page comes from a variety of sources on the internet and through emails and conversations. I’d like to Thank these gentlemen for their help; Marco Parascenzo, Franco Coppo ( via Marco ), Greg Pease, Mike Penix, Bob Hamlin, Chris Jones, Mike McCain, and Mike Davis

Current finishes, grades, & SRP in US dollars;

Castello US prices have not increased since 2012!!
Sea Rock Briar – carved finish – various stains
k 380.00, kk 395.00, kkk 405.00, kkkk 425.00, G 450.00, GG 550.00, GL 615.00 & GGG 615.00
Old Antiquari – sand blast – various stains
k 415.00, kk 415.00, kkk 450.00, kkkk 450.00, G 530.00, GG 675.00, & GL 675.00
Trademark – smooth – various stains
k 430.00, kk 430.00, kkk 480.00, kkkk 480.00, G 500.00, GG 660.00, & GL 660.00
“Castello” – smooth – various stains
kk 550.00, kkkk 590.00, G 600.00, GG 690.00, & GL 690.00
Perla Nera – smooth polished black
k 560.00 & kk 590.00
Collection – smooth – various stains
k 595.00, kk 655.00, kkk 750.00, kkkk 825.00
Occho di Pernice – smooth – graded birds eye
k 685.00, kk 750.00, kkk 800.00, kkkk 855.00
Aristocratica – smooth – fumed rim
Trade Mark – 595.00, “Castello” – 690.00, Collection – 865.00, Collection Great Line – 910.00
Castello Collection Fiammata – 1090.00, Collect Great Line Fiammata – 1545.00
Dune – carved
k – ???.00, kk – ???.00
Big Line – various grades
Sea Rock – ???.00 Old Antiquari – 900.00, “Castello” – ???.00, Collection, ???.00
Collection Great Line – smooth – free style
k 780.00, kk 850.00, kkk 1000.00, kkkk 1270.00
Collection Fiammata – smooth – graded straight grains
k 970.00, kk 1150.00, kkkk 1270.00, kkkk 1600.00
Collection Great Line Fiammata – smooth straight grain free style
k 1660.00, kk 2300.00, kkk 3100.00, kkkk 3780.00
Special Series – Cavallo, Riso, etc
Sea Rock 765.00, Old Antiquari 810.00, Trademark 950.00, Castello 1050.00,
Collection 13000.00, Occhio di pernice 1300.00, Fiammata 1455.00
Preziosa ( semi precious stone floc )
Perla Nera 950.00, Castello 980.00, Collection 1180.00, Collection GL 1390.00,
Madreperla 1545.00, Fiammata 1700.00

Options

briar shank or stem application + 75.00
silver floc or band + 90.00
18 k gold band + 500.00 – now a very rare addition, due to gold cost
18k gold band with lacquer inlay + 500.00
silver pin / nail + 160.00
common stone inlay + 105.00
special pi trim + 55.00

From the above, it is evident that the pipe currently on my work table is from an early time period of Castello pipe making as evidenced by the stamp of SEA ROCK and WHITE BAR. That this pipe is stamped with the letter “A” is indicative that it was given for free to friends and IT IS VERY RARE. Lady luck smiled upon me during this purchase for sure!!

Initial Visual Inspection
This pipe has a large bowl with a depth of 2 ¾ inch. The chamber has an even layer of thick hard cake. There is a heavy overflow of lava over the rim top surface. The rim top has darkened considerably. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber and the inner edge can be commented upon after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. The ghost smells in the chamber are not very strong.The deeply rusticated stummel surface has a very beautiful texture and is covered in dust and grime. The fact that the rustications are dusty and filled with dirt is accentuated more due to the contrast of dark and medium brown stains on the stummel and the shank. The briar is looking lifeless and bone dry and has taken on black dull hues. The smooth bottomed shank that bears all the stummel stampings, has deep scratches akin to road rash marks.The mortise was full of oils, tars and gunk and air flow was restricted. The shank end gold band made me wonder if it was a shank repair band or otherwise. However, the shank has no cracks and hence it is definitely an original adornment. The seating of the stem in to the mortise is not flush. This could be either a result of the accumulated gunk and grime in the mortise or incorrect drilling of the mortise (unlikely on a Castello though!) or a bent stem tenon.The high quality Lucite stem is nice and shiny. Some minor tooth chatter and a couple of deeper bite marks are seen on both the upper and lower stem surfaces in the bite zone. The tenon end had accumulated oils/ tars that had dried out on the inside as well as on the outside. The horizontal slot is filled with grime that will have to be addressed.Initial Cleaning By Abha…
The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 40-50 pipes and these have now reached me for further restoration). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

Next she cleaned out the internals of the stem air way and immersed it in “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution along with the stem of other pipes in line for restoration. Once the stem had soaked overnight, she cleaned the stem under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using Scotch Brite pad. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stem.

The Process
Finally back at my work place… After enjoying a compulsory extended leave of three months with family and having honed my culinary and domestic chores skill set, I was happy to rejoin my duty and get back to completing the pending pipe restorations.

I start this project by addressing the tooth chatter and bite marks on both the surfaces in the bite zone. Since this was a Lucite stem, heating the bite zone with the flame of a lighter would have damaged the stem further; hence, I filled the deeper bite marks with a mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal and set it aside to cure.Once the fills had cured, using a flat needle file, I reshaped the button and roughly matched the fills with the rest of the stem surface. I further fine tuned the match by sanding the filled area with a folded piece of 320 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger. I followed it up by sanding the entire stem surface using 400, 600, 800 and finally with a piece of 1000 grit sand papers. This serves to reduce the sanding marks of the more abrasive sand papers. I also sharpened the button edges while sanding. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the sanding dust from the surface. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil over the stem to impart a shine.To bring a deep shine to the Lucite stem, I polished it by wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. I wiped the stem with a moist cloth and rubbed it down with “Before and After Extra Fine Polish” to remove the minor scratches left behind by the sand paper while polishing the stem to a nice black glossy shine. The finished stem is shown below. I took a closer look at the walls of the chamber to ascertain the condition of the chamber. To my chagrin, I noticed a distinct line (marked with yellow arrows) extending for about an inch from the inner rim edge in to the chamber. It was the beginning of a heat fissure and from the point of origin (circled in green), there were other two heat lines (marked with blue arrows) extending roughly perpendicular to the first. However, these heat lines were very minor and extremely superficial while the one that moved up towards the rim was slightly deeper. I checked the external stummel surface under bright light and magnification for any corresponding crack. It was heartening to note that there were none! I thoroughly checked the rim top surface and was relieved to note that there is no damage.With my sharp dental pick, I probed and removed all the charred briar wood from the crack. It was a big relief to note that the crack did not go all the way to the outside of the stummel. Here are a couple of close up pictures of the crack to the chamber wall. I conferred with my Guru and mentor, Steve, over Face Time video call and after seeing the crack, he concurred that it was best to fill just the crack inside the chamber with J B Weld followed by a coating of activated charcoal and yogurt to the entire chamber for further protection. Before proceeding with further repairs, I thoroughly cleaned the rim top to completely remove the lava overflow from the rim top surface Murphy’s Oil soap and a brass wired brush. To protect the crack from coming in to direct contact with the burning tobacco and also to prevent the heat from reaching the external crack to the stummel and causing a burnout, I plan, firstly, to fill only the crack of the chamber with J B Weld followed by a second coat of activated charcoal and yogurt to the entire chamber which would assist in faster cake formation. J B Weld is a two-part epoxy Cold Weld that consists of two parts; hardener and steel which are mixed in equal parts in a ratio of 1:1 with hardening time of 5-6 minutes and complete curing time of 6-8 hours. I poured the contents of the two tubes and mixed it well. With a flat bamboo frond, I applied this mix and filled the intended crack. I worked fast to ensure a complete and even filling of the crack and set the stummel aside for the J B Weld to harden.By the next afternoon when I got back to working on this pipe, the J B Weld coat had completely cured and hardened completely. With a folded piece of 150 grit sandpaper, I sand the weld coating to a smooth surface till I had as thin a coat as was essential to protect and insulate the crack from the direct heat of the burning tobacco. The Weld coat has completely covered only the crack and the point of origin which can be seen as a thin line. I am very pleased with the repairs at this stage. Next issue to be addressed was that of the numerous deep road rash marks that were seen to the flat lower surface of the stummel. With a folded piece of 180 followed by 600 and 800 grit sand paper, I diligently sand away the road rash marks from the lower flat surface of the stummel taking care that the stampings are preserved in total. I followed it up by polishing the surface by wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. Though the road rash marks are not completely eliminated, they are greatly reduced. The road rash marks to the gold band are now distinctly visible in the last picture. The last issue that needed to be addressed before final polishing was that of the seating of the stem tenon in to mortise. The pictures below will give the readers an idea of the issue that I needed to address.    I checked the drilling of the mortise and it was perfect as expected. Next I checked the shank face and the gold band for unevenness but it was nice even and the band sat flush with the shank face. But yes, the seated stem in the mortise had some play in the fitting. I conferred with Steve on Face Time and he asked me to hold the stem upright with tenon side up. Immediately, it was apparent to both of us that the tenon had bent a little and was off center. To address this, I heated the tenon with the flame of a lighter till it was slightly pliable and carefully seated the tenon in to the mortise. Once completely seated, I adjusted the alignment and held the stem in place till the tenon had cooled down sufficiently. Again, though the seating is not perfectly flushed, the alignment of the stem and shank is near perfect. It has to be understood that we pipe restorers are undertaking repairs to the existing damages to make them functional again and not making new pipes, though we do strive for that kind of perfection. All said, I am quite pleased with this repair.  I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The dark browns of the raised portions of the sandblast contrasts beautifully with the rest of the dark stummel and makes for a visual treat. It really is a nice piece of briar. To protect the J B Weld coated crack from the direct heat of the burning tobacco, I coat the complete chamber walls with a mix of activated charcoal and yogurt and set it aside to harden naturally.To put the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding.    Next, I mount another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax to impart a nice gloss to the finish. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. Lastly, I polish the gold band with a jeweler’s cloth to a nice and radiant shine.  The rustications on this finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and coupled with the brand, vintage, rarity and the contrast that the gold band imparts, makes it quite a desirable pipe. This pipe shall be joining my small collection of Castellos to be admired and be happy that I have restored it to its former beauty and functionality. P.S. Just out of curiosity, I took the stummel to my family goldsmith to check if at all the band at the shank end was gold or a brass made band. I was pleasantly surprised to be told that it was indeed an 18 carat gold band!! I am sure whoever the “FRIEND” was that received a Castello pipe with an 18 carat gold band had to be someone very dear to Carlo Scotti!! If only the pipe could tell me all about this friend…      

I wish to thank each one for sparing their valuable time to read through this write up and each one is always in my prayers. Stay home…stay safe!!

Breathing Life into a mixed finish Serafini Oom Paul


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to me from Jeff’s pipe hunts or auction purchases. Between us we pick up quite a few pipes from our hunts. I try work them into the restoration queue so that I can keep them moving. This next on is an interesting looking piece – a mixed finish Oom Paul shape (smooth panels and shank with a rusticated body to the pipe). The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Serafini. The finish had a lot of grime ground into rustication and the smooth finish on the briar. The bowl was heavily caked with a lava coat on the top of the rusticated rim. It was hard to tell how the inner edge of the rim actually looked until the bowl was reamed. The stem was in oxidized and had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There were not markings or logo on the fancy turned stem. It had promise but it was very dirty. I took some photos of the pipe before I started my cleanup work.   I took a photo of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the overflow of lava on the rim top. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the chatter and tooth marks. Otherwise the stem is quite clean.  The stamping on the left side of the shank is clear and readable and reads as noted above. The stem does not seat properly in the shank. You can see that in both the photos above and the one below. I did some searching on the internet in my other sources Pipedia and Pipephil to see if I could find any information on the brand. Unfortunately there was nothing on either site regarding the brand. I did some hunting on the word Serafini and found that it means the burning ones and refers to a type of celestial or heavenly being in the Abrahamic Religions. It is also a common Italian family name. Other than that the make of the pipe was not clear. Can any of you who are reading this shed some light on the brand??

I reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer with the third cutting head. I took the cake back to bare briar and removed the rest of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I sanded the walls of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around piece of dowel.  I scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. I worked the soap into the rustication of the briar with the tooth brush. I rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. The soap also removed a lot of the shellac finish on the smooth portions of the bowl and shank.    The varnish or shellac coat was pealing. I wiped the smooth portions of the bowl and shank down with acetone on a cotton pad. I was able to remove remnants of the shiny coat with the acetone. I took a photo of the shank end to show the crack at the top of the shank. It was tight but nonetheless very present. I went through my bag of bands and found a copper/brass band that would bind the crack and not cover any of the stamping on the shank. I used a tooth pick to coat the shank end with all-purpose white glue. I pressed the band in place on the shank and took photos of the newly banded shank. I cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners.I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. You can see the sparkle in the rustication surfaces as the light hits them.  I sanded out the tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem at the button. I also sanded the oxidation on the stem surface with both 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.      This Serafini Oom Paul is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The mix of finishes – smooth portions and and rusticated finish around the panels. The combination of brown stains makes the smooth panesl and rustication almost sparkle and works well with the polished vulcanite taper stem. The polished brass band/end cap looked great with the briar and the vulcanite. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Serafini Oom Paul fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Restoring a Tall BBB Silver Grain 264 Stack


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to me from the estate of a Vancouver pipe smoker whose widow left them with a local Pipe Shop after he died. I was asked to clean them up and sell them for the shop as it has since closed. This is another English pipe – a BBB Silver Grain Stack. It is a smooth finished pipe with some interesting grain – cross grain and mixed grains. The pipe is stamped on the left side and reads BBB [over] Silver Grain and on the right side it is stamped London, England [over] the shape number 264. The bowl has a thick and heavy cake with a thick lava coat on the top of the rim. It was hard to tell how the inner and outer edge of the rim actually looked until the bowl was reamed. The smooth finish had years of dust and debris ground into it around the bowl. The stem was oxidized, calcified and had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There was a brass BBB Diamond on the topside of the stem that was oxidized and dirty. The tall stack had promise but it was very dirty. I took some photos of the pipe to show what it looked like when I received it.  I had sent the batch of pipes from the shop to my brother Jeff in Idaho and he had cleaned them up for me. It was several years ago now that he sent them back to me and I am just now getting to finish them. He reamed them with a Pipnet Reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife.  He had scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush and rinsed it off with warm water to remove the grime in the rustication. He cleaned the internals of the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners to remove the tarry residue and oils in the shank and airway. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the stem surface. When it arrived here on my work table I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration.    The rim top looked far better but there was some darkening on the surface as well as some scratches. The inner edge of the rim looked very good other than a flaw on the back right inner edge. The stem look good but there was some heavy oxidation and there were light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.   I took a photo of the stamping on the sides of the shank. The stamping is faint but still readable and reads as noted above.     I took the stem off the pipe and took a photo of the parts to show the stinger apparatus and the look of the pipe as a whole.I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper and then worked on the inner edge of the rim with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give it a slight bevel. Once it is finished the rim top and edge looks much better.   I polished the newly topped rim with micromesh sanding pads. I sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down between each pad with a damp cloth. By the end you can see the shine on the rim surface.    I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. You can see the underlying grain begin to show through the rustication.    I “painted” the surface of the stem and button with the flame of a lighter to raise the bite marks. The process worked very well and lifted all of the marks on the top side and there was a slight dip along the button on the top side and two remaining marks left on the underside.    I filled in the remaining tooth marks with black super glue. Once it cured I smoothed out the surface of the repair with a needle file.  I sanded out the repair with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surface of the surrounding vulcanite. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.   I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.      This beautiful BBB Silver Grain 264 Stack, an English made pipe from the local pipe shop estate that I am restoring and selling for them is a great looking pipe. The smooth medium brown finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and works well with the polished vulcanite taper stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished BBB Silver Grain Stack fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. I have a variety of brands to work on from the shop. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

 

 

Restoring & Restemming a Celtic Craft Block Meerschaum from Bob Kerr’s Estate


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I have chosen from the four remaining pipes from Bob Kerr’s Estate is a Genuine Block Meerschaum with a damaged stem. This is the last of Bob’s Block Meerschaum pipes that I have to work on. (Bob’s photo is to the left). If you have not “met” the man and would like to read a bit of the history of the pipeman, his daughter has written a great tribute that is worth a read. Because I have included it in most of the restorations of the estate to date I thought that I would leave it out this time. Check out some of the recent Dunhill restoration blogs (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/01/restoring-the-last-of-bob-kerrs-dunhills-a-1962-dunhill-bruyere-656-f-t-bent-billiard/).

This Meerschaum is stamped Celtic [over] Craft on the left side of the shank. On the underside it is stamped Genuine Block Meerschaum. Over that on the shank end was stamp GT at the top and below the stamp read N14 which is probably the shape number. The fancy vulcanite stem is oxidized, calcified and has a large chunk missing from the underside of the button and stem. From the damage it looked to me like it needed to be replaced. The exterior of the bowl is grimy and dirty. The black flumed top was worn and tired looking on both the rim top and the shank end. There is a thick cake and lava overflow on the rim top. It is thick enough that it is hard to know if there is any damage on top and edges but it looked like there was some damage. Jeff took photos of the pipe to show its general condition before he did his cleanup.   The exterior of the pipe was very dirty – grime and grit ground in from years of use and sitting. This one was obviously one of Bob’s favourites. The rim top was covered with a coat of thick lava that overflowed the bowl. There was also some damage on the rim top and edges of the bowl. The bowl itself had a thick cake with flecks of tobacco stuck in the cake on the sides.  Jeff took photos of the sides and the heel of the bowl to give a better feel for the condition of the bowl. It is dirty but the rustication is interesting. The next photos show the stamping on the sides of the shank. The left side is clear and readable and reads as noted above. The stamping on the underside of the shank was also clear and readable as noted above. Jeff also took photos of the stem shank connection with the stem in place and the stem removed. The tenon was metal and inset in the end of the stem. The shank end was filthy and worn.  The stem was dirty and extremely oxidized, calcified and had tooth marks on both sides ahead of the button. It was missing a large chunk of vulcanite from the underside of the stem and button.   I have not heard of the Celtic Craft brand but the way it was made and the stamping style and placement on the pipe and the finish on the pipe was identical to the look and feel of the block meerschaum pipe that restored earlier – a BELT (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/06/11/restoring-a-heavily-smoked-belt-meerschaum-peterson-like-pipe/). I turned to that blog to check if it was possible that the CELTIC CRAFT pipe was made by the same company. While there was nothing definite I am convinced that it is made by the same company. I quote from that blog:

The BELT brand is not one that I am familiar with. I have never heard of the brand in my years of doing this work. I decided to pause before I started my part of the work on the pipe and see what I could learn on the web. I looked on Pipephil’s site and could find nothing listed. I did the same on Pipedia and initially found nothing either. I did a google search for the brand and low and behold the brand came up under Danish Pipe Making Companies under the heading London Meerschaum (https://pipedia.org/wiki/London_Meerschaum). I quote the brief article below as taken from Jose Manuel Lopes book.

“London Meerschaum made some pipes under the name of BELT or THE BELT, I had this confirmed by Bonds of Oxford St. who have 5 smooth bowl versions in stock at the time of writing, these look very similar to standard system full bent Peterson Meerschaums, the smooth versions have silverware stamped L&JS {Les & Dolly Wood, Ferndown} and has Belt and Genuine Block Meerschaum stamped on the bowl. I have seen 1 rusticated version with the same silverware and 2 of which I own 1, have gold plated ware with no hallmarks and are also stamped Belt and Genuine Block Meerschaum. Both smooth and rusticated have P-Lip type stems though the air hole is not on top but at the end as with most non Peterson P-Lips that I have come across. I do not know when London Meerschaum ceased trading but I can say from the one Belt that I own, it’s a very fine pipe and not cheap, well over the £100 mark when new.”

These pipes were evidently sold at least as early as the 1950’s. These may have been made by, or are affiliated with Pomeroy & Cooke Ltd., (Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks, by José Manuel Lopes).

One of the readers of that blog responded with the following information. It cleared up the information above and called the information that it was a Danish Company called London Meerschaum into question.

Jambo/Belt was based in Nothhamptonshire, a small town north of London.

In my mind it was a Manx Made African Meer and now the information trail was twisted. It is now purported to have been made in Denmark, or in Nothhamptonshire near London or on the Isle of Man. Confusing and strange provenance for this old meer but I personally lean toward the Manx Pipes Connection. Now it was time to work on the pipe itself.

With over 125 pipes to clean from Bob’s estate I took a batch of them to the states with me when I visited and left them with Jeff so he could help me out. Jeff cleaned the pipes with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. Once he finished he shipped them back to me. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the meerschaum and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with an interesting rustic finish around the bowl and shank. Jeff scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked a lot better. I took photos before I started my part of the work.  I took close up photos of the rim top and the stem surfaces. The rim top looked better but was rough. Some of the surface had been worn smooth. It was clean however and the flumed colour on the rim and shank end had faded with the cleanup work. The stem was another story all together. The metal tenon was good but the threads in the shank were worn so that it would not align. The issue for me was that the metal would continue to wear down the meer and make the fit looser over time. There were deep nicks on all the sharp edges of the diamond stem. The large chip out of the underside of the button and stem was bigger and rougher than I expected. Even though I could rebuild the damaged area I decided that the stem would need to be replaced on this one.    I took photos of the stamping on the shank of the pipe. It is readable and clear. The text reads as noted above.   I took the stem off the shank and took a photo to give a sense of the flow of the pipe. The stem is a bit of a turned freehand stem so I pretty much could use any other turned freehand stem as a replacement.I started my work on the pipe by dealing with the rim top. I used a brass bristle brush to clean up the rim top. I wanted to check out damage to the rim top so the brass bristle brush would remove any remaining grit in the rustication.I used a black stain pen to touch up the flumed top of the bowl, edges and the shank end. The rim top and shank end looked much better.   I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to replacing the stem. I went through my can of stems and found one that would look interesting with the shape of the pipe. It was a new cast stem. I would need to cut off the tenon and drill out the stem for a new tenon.I used the Dremel and sanding drum to cut off the tenon. I had a Delrin tenon that was made to screw into the stem. I found that reversing it and turning it into the shank was a perfect fit. I used a series of drill bits to drill out the end of the stem to receive the smooth end of the tenon. I used the Dremel and sanding drum to remove the excess vulcanite from the stem so that when the tenon was screwed into the shank the stem sat flush in the shank. I glued the tenon in place in the stem with clear super glue and set it aside to let the glue cure.Once the glue cured I turned the stem into the shank and took photos of the pipe as a whole. Still lots of sanding to do but I like the fit of the stem to the shank.   I cleaned up the stepped down stem area on the end of the stem with a needle file to fit in the inset shank end. I also used the file to reduce the thickness of the button. I then heated the stem with a lighter flame to soften the vulcanite. Once it was soft I bent the end of the stem to match the stem that I was replacing. I screwed the stem into the shank and took a photo of the pipe at this point in the process. I am starting to like the looks of this pipe.   I removed the stem from the shank and sanded out the file marks and shaped the button with 220 grit sandpaper and followed that with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to start the polishing.   I used a potter cutting tool to open up the slot in the end of the button. I wanted to reshape it and open it enough that a pipe cleaner would easily move through the airway.   I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.    I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine. This interestingly finished rusticated Celtic Craft Genuine Block Meerschaum Freehand/Poker from Bob Kerr’s estate looks very good. Even though it is not my personal favourite it must be a great smoking pipe. The finish cleaned up well on the pipe is in great condition and works well with the polished vulcanite taper replacement stem. I carefully buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Clapham’s Beeswax Polish and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Meerschaum fits nicely in the hand and I think the rustication will feel great when it heats up during smoking. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in carrying on Bob’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. I have more to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

Restoring a Comoy’s Tradition 92 Billiard from Bob Kerr’s Estate


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I have chosen from Bob Kerr’s Estate is a Comoy’s Tradition Billiard with a replacement stem. Bob had several Comoy’s Tradition pipes and this is the second of them I am working on. (Bob’s photo is to the left). If you have not “met” the man and would like to read a bit of the history of the pipeman, his daughter has written a great tribute that is worth a read. Because I have included it in most of the restorations of the estate to date I thought that I would leave it out this time. Check out some of the recent Dunhill restoration blogs (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/01/restoring-the-last-of-bob-kerrs-dunhills-a-1962-dunhill-bruyere-656-f-t-bent-billiard/).

This Billiard is stamped Comoy’s [over] Tradition on the left side of the shank. On the right side it is stamped with the number 92 at the shank/bowl junction and the other stamping is worn out. The tapered vulcanite stem is a replacement. The stem is oxidized, calcified and has light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The exterior of the bowl is grimy and dirty. There are burn marks on the top of the shank and on the heel of the bowl. There is a thick cake and lava overflow on the rim top. It is thick enough that it is hard to know if there is any damage on top and edges. Jeff took photos of the pipe to show its general condition before he did his cleanup. The exterior of the pipe was very dirty – grime and grit ground in from years of use and sitting. The rim top was covered with a coat of thick lava that overflowed the bowl. There was also some darkening on the rim top and inner edge of the bowl as well as a burn mark on the top front of the bowl. The bowl itself had a thick cake with flecks of tobacco stuck in the cake on the sides. Jeff took photos of the sides and the heel of the bowl to give a better feel for the condition of the bowl. It is dirty but the grain is very nice around sides. The next photos show the stamping on the sides of the shank. The left side is faint but readable and the right side is even fainter and did not get captured with the photo. With a bright light they both read as noted above.The replacement stem was dirty and extremely oxidized, calcified and had tooth marks on both sides ahead of the button. It was not nearly as chewed the other pipes in Bob’s estate.With over 125 pipes to clean from Bob’s estate I took a batch of them to the states with me when I visited and left them with Jeff so he could help me out. Jeff cleaned the pipes with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. Once he finished he shipped them back to me. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff scrubbed it with Soft Scrub and soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked a lot better. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show what cleaned bowl and rim top looked like. The rim top shows damage and charring on the inner edge of the bowl. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the light tooth marks and the remaining oxidation on the stem surface. You can also see the marks on the surface of the stem.I took photos of the stamping on both sides of the shank and it is faint but readable. It is stamped as noted above.  I removed the stem for the shank and took a photo of the bowl and stem to give a picture of what it looked like. You can see the dents in the stem surface.Now, on to my part of the restoration of this Comoy’s Tradition 92 Billiard pipe. I decided to start by dealing with the damage to the rim top and the inner edge of the bowl. I carefully topped the bowl on a board with 220 grit sandpaper to start removing the damage to the bowl. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the damage to the bevel of the inner edge of the rim. I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the briar down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. Whoever had made this replacement stem had done a pretty horrible job on the tenon. It is pinched around the stem end and the end of the tenon is crooked as well. It was really a mess. I filled in the pinched tenon with black super glue. I sanded the repair and repeated the process until it was smooth and even.I filled in the deep tooth mark on the top of the stem ahead of the button and built up the button surface on the underside with super glue.I sanded out the remaining tooth marks and scratches on the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing them with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. This Comoy’s Tradition 92 Billiard from Bob Kerr’s estate has some beautiful grain. Even with the burn marks it still is a beauty. It turned out to be another great looking pipe. The finish on the pipe is in great condition and works well with the polished vulcanite taper replacement stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Comoy’s Tradition Billiard fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in carrying on Bob’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. I have more to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

A Change of Pace Restoration – an SMS Meerschaum Bent Ball


Blog by Steve Laug

I have been working through Bob Kerr’s estate for several weeks trying to finish up the remaining 12 pipes. I decided this morning that I needed a bit of a change of pace. I have been working on a lot of fine old briar pipes and thought a good meerschaum would be a change. I looked through the various cased figurals that I have to work and on and rejected each on as just not what I was looking for at this moment. I went back to some older pipes I have boxed here in the queue and found a black cased meer. From the case it looked like at least a ball/apple shaped pipe. I opened the case and immediately the pipe had my attention. It was exactly what I was looking for to work on next. It is an SMS Meerschaum ball with an amber coloured acrylic stem. Overall the pipe looked to be in decent condition. I wrote Jeff for the pre-cleanup photos and some history where it came from. Seems that pipe came to us from an auction in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was a dirty pipe but not too badly scratched. There was a thick cake in the bowl for a meerschaum with some lava overflow on the inwardly beveled rim top. There was some good patina developing around the shank and bowl. The stem was pretty but had some tooth marks and chatter all around the button. The stem came off the tenon end leaving the tenon in the shank of the pipe. Not sure what was happening there. Jeff sent me the photos of the pipe in the case and out of the case before he started his cleanup work. Jeff took a photo of the bowl and rim top to show the condition. It is hard to see the depth of the bowl but there as a cake lining the walls. The inwardly beveled rim top shows a thick lava coat and also some nicks and damage to the outer edge of the rim.He took some photos of the heel and sides of the bowl to show the developing patina as well as the dirty and grime on the bowl sides.   The next two photos show the brand stamping on the inside cover of the case and in the round inlaid stem logo. It is made by SMS and is a Handcarved Meerschaum from Turkey.The next photos show the condition of the stem. You can see the tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. It was rough to the touch. Jeff took a great photo of the tenon and stem connection. It appears that the tenon has come unglued from the stem end. I am not sure whether the tenon is a classic threaded tenon screwing into the shank or whether it is a push tenon. Once I work on it I will know.I had some faint recall of the make but could not remember his name so I turned to pipephil’s site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-s9.html) for some help. I found a quick note on the founding of the SMS brand which was the USA import brand for pipes made by Samil Sermet and his wife Beth. There was also a link there to the company website.I clicked on the site link (http://www.smspipes.com/) to get a bigger picture of the brand and the makers. I quote the section of the site marked “About Us” and quote the following:

Welcome to SMS Pipes!!

We are proud to present a wide selection of premium smoking pipes. SMS Pipes features Turkish Block Meerschaum, supplied exclusively by SMS Meerschaums, and Italian Briar, supplied by Lorenzo of Italy. All the pipes offered by SMS Pipes meet or surpass our exacting “Standard of Excellence.”

Samil & Beth Sermet – SMS Pipes is family owned and operated extension of SMS Meerschaums, founded in 1980 by Samil Sermet and his wife, Beth. SMS Meerschaums is recognized nationwide as a trusted supplier by nearly 500 retail tobacconists. SMS Pipes promises to continue the philosophy embraced by SMS Meerschaums and provide premium smoking pipes that are:

    Distinctive… each pipe is carefully selected for its uniqueness, quality and reliability.

    Affordable… a wide range of prices makes owning a fine pipe possible for everyone.

    Collectable… the timeless beauty of each pipe will be treasured for generations.

Key to the success of SMS Pipes is our dedicated staff. Based in the USA and Turkey, they maintain contact with our exceptionally talented pipe carvers and case makers and perform all the daily business activities described below:

 Samil Sermet, a native of Turkey, is the buyer for SMS Meerschaums. His hometown is Eskisehir, Turkey, where a majority of the meerschaum pipe carvers live and have their shops. Samil makes a buying trip to Turkey each year and has a close working relationship with all the carvers. He is responsible for sales analysis and placing the orders necessary to maintain adequate stock in the warehouse. (samil@smspipes.com)

Beth Sermet, office manager of SMS Meerschaums, processes all orders. Even though Beth was born in Iowa, she is fluent in Turkish after living in Turkey for several years and knows all the carvers. The owners of Lorenzo Briars work closely with Beth to assure ample supply of their premium pipes. Beth also personally selects and photographs all the pipes shown on SMS Pipes. (beth@smspipes.com)

Mert Sermet, son of Samil and Beth, manages the daily operations of SMS Pipes. He is in charge of processing and shipping all orders. Mert has in-depth knowledge of every aspect of pipe manufacturing both in Turkey and Italy. He will personally respond to any comments, questions or concerns you may have about SMS Pipes by e-mail. (mert@smspipes.com)

Emel Sagtekin, Samil’s sister, is responsible for quality control and shipments of pipes to SMS Meerschaums from Turkey. Since 1988, Emel has personally checked thousands of pipes. She evaluates each pipe based on strict criteria set by SMS Meerschaums and selects only the pipes that meet or surpass our high standards.

SMS Pipes provides a wide variety of services for our customers. Although the inventory on SMS Pipes is reserved for Internet sale only, it is possible to have a selection of similar pipes sent “On Approval” to any tobacconist listed on the site. Membership in the SMS Collectors Society provides additional amenities for those interested in collecting our pipes. Our Master Carvers can be commissioned to carve custom pipe designs by special arrangement. We also offer repair and re-waxing services for all SMS Pipes.”

We are happy to have the opportunity to serve you. We hope your time spent with SMS Pipes is enjoyable and worthwhile.

Now I had a clearer picture of the brand and the makers. I knew that pipe was made after 1980 when the company began. Now it was time to work on the pipe itself.

Jeff cleaned the meerschaum with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. Once he finished he shipped it back to me with many of the other pipes that we have purchased or are working on for various estates. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff scrubbed the stem with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime on the exterior. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked a lot better. I took photos before I started my part of the work.  I took some close up photos of the rim top and stem to show the condition they were in when they arrived here. There was some slight darkening on the back edge as well as some scratching and nicks around the outer edges.     I took a photo of the pipe with the stem removed to show the overall look of the pipe. It is really a nice looking pipe. I will need to work on the tenon and see what is going on with it as a part of the restoration.I decided to work on the tenon first. I examined it with a bright light and a lens and could see that it had originally been glued in place in the stem. What I was not sure of at this point was whether it was a push tenon or a threaded one. I used a pair of needle nose pliers to check the connection. It did not wiggle like a push tenon and it turned so I had my answer – a threaded tenon. I unscrewed it from the shank and took a photo.I roughened the smooth surface of the part of the tenon that would be glued in the stem with a needle file. Once it was sufficiently rough enough to provide some bite when glued into the stem I painted the end of the tenon with all-purpose white glue and inserted it in the stem. I ran a pipe cleaner through the airway to make sure it was clear and wiped off the excess glue around the threaded end of the tenon. I took a photo of the pipe with the proper tenon connection! Now it only needed to cure before I put it back together again. I set the stem aside and worked on the bowl and rim top while the glue cured in the tenon repair. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damage to the outer edge of the rear part of the rim top and to minimize the darkening. I polished the rim top and bowl with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each grit of sanding pad. It is starting to really have a shine by the last sanding pads.   With the bowl polished it was time to wax the meerschaum. I heated it over a candle flame and rubbed it down with Clapham’s Beeswax Polish and let the wax sit and absorb into the meerschaum. Once it had cured I buffed it with a cotton towel and raised a rich shine in the surface of the meerschaum. The wax brought more of the patina to surface and the buffing highlighted. I filled in the deeper dents in the acrylic with clear super glue and set the stem aside to let it dry after a few moments I sprayed it with an accelerator to harden it. I sanded the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface and then started polishing the surface with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratching in the acrylic stem. I wet sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and then gave it a buff with Before & After Pipe Stem polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I buffed that off with a cotton pad. After each sanding pad and each polish I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil to preserve and protect the stem.    I put the pipe back together and gave it a buff on the wheel with Blue Diamond polish. I use a light touch on the acrylic as too heavy a touch can cause the heat to damage to acrylic. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a soft cloth to deepen the shine. I put it back in the case and took a photo of the pipe in case.I took photos of the finished pipe to show the shine and the patina around the bowl. The reddish amber acrylic stem looks very good with the deepening colour on the shank and the bottom of the bowl. With time the contrast will grow richer and deeper to a thing of beauty. The finished SMS Bent Ball fits nicely in the hand and I think it will feel great as it heats up with a good tobacco. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 ¼ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. If you are interested in carrying on the legacy of this pipe it will be going on the rebornpipes store shortly. You can send me a message or an email to let know you are interested. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

Restoring and Restemming a Beautiful L’Anatra dalle Uova d’Oro Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

I am doing periodic repairs for a local pipe/cigar shop. They called in February about a pipe that one of their customers had dropped off for repairs. He was hoping for another L’Anatra stem but he had either lost or thrown away the original after the tenon had snapped off in the shank. That was too bad as it would have been fairly straight forward to put a new tenon on the stem and fit it in the shank. We spoke a bit about it and as I do not have access to L’Anatra stems with the goose head on the top that are hand turned acrylic I figured the repair had been dropped. Fast forward to June! On Friday evening they called and said that one of them would drop a pipe by for restemming with a vulcanite stem as the customer just wanted to be able to smoke it and enjoy it again. We arranged for the drop off at my house on that evening after the shop closed. Friday evening there was no pipe. All day Saturday and into the evening there was no pipe so I figured they had changed their minds. Then this morning around 9am the doorbell rang and there was a fellow with a City Cigar Bag in hand with a large box. We chatted and he handed me the bag.

I don’t know what I was expecting but it certainly was not what I found inside the box. It is a large box like others I have seen with L’Anatra pipes. Inside were a note and a draw string pipe bag. With the box, the bag and all I was expecting a large Italian pipe sans stem. I had no idea what shape it would be and no idea what size pipe it was. You can imagine my surprise when I open the bag and removed the pipe pictured below. It was absolutely smooth and quite stunningly grained. The shape was very nice and the condition was better than I expected. I examined the bowl for dings and nicks from the fall that snapped the tenon and found none. It was stamped L’Anatra [over] dalle Uova d’Oro [over] Fiuma and 2 eggs for the grade of the pipe. Underneath that it was stamped Hand Made in Italy. So far you see what I saw. Now let me tell you the size of the pipe. The bowl is 2 ½ inches long, 1 ½ inches tall, the outer diameter of the bowl is 1 ¼ inches and the chamber diameter is ¾ of an inch. It is a lot smaller and petite than I expected from the box and bag.  I took a photo of the stamping on the left and underside of the shank. It was very clear and readable. It was stamped as noted above – L’Anatra [over] dalle Uova d’Oro [over] Fiuma and 2 eggs [over] Hand Made in Italy.      I looked up the L’Anatra brand on PipePhil’s site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-l1.html). It gives a great brief history of the brand that is a quick overview of the Company. The pipes are carved by Massimo Palazzi and Andrea Pascucci and graded 1, 2, or 3 eggs. The brand also had a goose head standing on the top of the stem.I looked up the brand on Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/L%27anatra). The article there was very informative about the background and history of the brand. Give the article a read if you are interested in a great article. Now it was time to begin the process of the restoration on this pipe. I quote in part:

L’Anatra pipes feature a cast silver goose head on the stem! This is demonstrative not only of their playfulness, but also of their willingness and desire to be different from the norm. They do not strive to impress, they strive to make a truly delightful and pleasing pipe. Perhaps it is this attitude that makes L’Anatra pipes so superb that pipes should first be a joy to make, to smoke and to peruse and then, only once those most important attributes are satisfied, the true artistry of the maker will shine through.

The issue that brought the pipe to me in the first place was the missing stem. Before I could fit a new stem I needed to pull the broken tenon. I tried with my usual method of turning a large screw into the airway and wiggling the tenon piece free. The tenon was stuck and did not move at all. I wrapped the bowl in a paper towel and put it in the freezer for 20 minutes. I took it out and turned the screw into the airway in the tenon. It took very little effort for the broken tenon to easily come out of the shank.    I decided to see what kind of stem I had to replace the missing stem. I had a vulcanite stem that was a close fit. The diameter of the stem was slightly larger than that of the shank. I forgot to take pictures of the stem before I worked on it. I used a Dremel and sanding drum and took the diameter down to as close to the shank diameter as I could. The rest of the work would be by hand. I took photos of the pipe with the initial fit of the stem to the shank. It is looking pretty good at this point.   I continued to reduce the diameter of the stem with 220 sandpaper to remove the excess. It took a lot of sanding to get it to have a proper fit. I followed that up sanding it with 400 grit sandpaper.   The stem was looking much better. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine.    I set the new stem aside and turned my attention to the bowl. I needed to clean out the bowl and shank before I fit the new stem on it. I reamed it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and wiped the bowl out with a piece of paper towel to remove the dust. I polished the darkened area on the back of the rim top and the rest of the bowl with 1500-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp paper towel after each pad. I rubbed the bowl and rim down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I really like watching the Balm do its magic and bring the briar alive. The pipe looked good – the natural finish allowed me to blend in the sanded and polished areas.    As usual at this point in the restoration process I am excited to be on the homestretch. I look forward to the final look when it is put back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The grain really pops with the wax and polish. The shiny black vulcanite stem is a beautiful contrast natural browns of the bowl and shank. This L’Anatra dalle Uova d’Oro Bent Billiard was another fun pipe to work on thanks the fact that I could in essence start over with it. The thin taper stem looks really good with the natural finish of the bowl and shank. The pipe is a quite stunning piece of briar with great grain around the bowl. The pipe is comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This newly restemmed pipe will soon be going back to City Cigar to pass on to the customer who dropped it off. I hope that he soon can enjoy a few bowls in this newly stemmed pipe. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an pipe to bring back to life.

A Rebirth for a Savinelli Capri Root Briar 4011 Zulu from Bob Kerr’s Estate


Blog by Steve Laug

I have just over 20 more of Bob’s pipes to finish before I have completed the restoration of his estate so I am continuing to work on them. The next one from Bob Kerr’s Estate is a Savinelli Capri Root Briar Zulu. (Bob’s photo is to the left). If you have not “met” the man and would like to read a bit of the history of the pipeman, his daughter has written a great tribute that is worth a read. Because I have included it in most of the restorations of the estate to date I thought that I would leave it out this time. Check out some of the recent Dunhill restoration blogs that include the biographical notes about Bob (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/01/restoring-the-last-of-bob-kerrs-dunhills-a-1962-dunhill-bruyere-656-f-t-bent-billiard/).

The Savinelli Capri Root Briar Zulu has a rusticated finish (looks a lot like the Castello Sea Rock finish). It is a coral like rustication around the bowl that was filled in with dust and debris. It was stamped on underside of the shank. It is stamped Capri [over] Root Briar followed by Savinelli Italy and the shape number 4011. The finish was dirty with dust and grime ground into the bowl sides. There was a thick cake in the bowl and lava overflow on the rim top. The vulcanite stem was oxidized and had tooth marks and chatter ahead of the button on both sides. Jeff took photos of the pipe to show its general condition before he did his cleanup. As I mentioned above the exterior of the pipe was very dirty – grime and grit ground in from years of use and sitting. The rim top was covered with a coat of thick lava that overflowed from the thick cake in the bowl. It was hard to know what the rim edges looked like because of the lava. Jeff took photos of the sides and the heel of the bowl to give a better feel for the condition of the briar around the bowl. You can also see some of the few fills in the briar in the photos.

The next photo show the stamping on the underside of the shank and it is very readable. It reads as noted above. The stem was dirty, calcified and oxidized with tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside of the stem at the button.    I have always like the Savinelli Capri Root Briar finish so I was glad to be working on this one. With over 125 pipes to clean from Bob’s estate I took a batch of them to the states with me when I visited and left them with Jeff so he could help me out. Jeff cleaned the pipes with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. Once he finished he shipped them back to me. Bob’s pipes were generally real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. I was surprised to see how well it turned out. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff scrubbed it with Soft Scrub and soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked a lot better. I took photos before I started my part of the work.  I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. I wanted to show what cleaned bowl and rim top looked like. The rim top and the inner and outer edges of the bowl were in excellent condition. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks and the remaining oxidation on the stem surface.    I took photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank and it is clear and readable. It is stamped as noted above.    I removed the stem for the shank and took a photo of the bowl and stem to give a picture of what it looked like. The heavy oxidation is very visible.I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine.     I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I used a Bic lighter to “paint” the surface of the stem with the flame to lift the tooth marks on both sides of the stem. The heat lifted the tooth marks to the degree that was able to sand out the remaining marks on the stem surface.       I filled in the remaining divots with black super glue. I set the stem aside to let the glue cure. Once they cured I used a needle file to flatten repaired areas. I sanded out the remaining tooth dents in the top and underside of the stem with 220 sandpaper. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.     I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.  I left a little oxidation around the stamp so as not to damage it more.    This Savinelli Made Capri Root Briar 4011 Zulu from Bob Kerr’s estate cleaned up really well and looks very good. The mixed stain brown finish on the pipe is in great condition and works well with the polished vulcanite taper stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Capri Root Briar 4011 Zulu fits nicely in the hand and I think it will feel great as it heats up with a good tobacco. The tactile finish will add to the experience. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. If you are interested in carrying on Bob’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. I have more to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

Restoring a Heavily Smoked BELT Meerschaum Peterson Like Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I have chosen from Bob Kerr’s collection is the second of three Block Meerschaum pipes in the estate. Bob was an artist from the Vancouver area and a real character (Bob’s photo is to the left). If you have not “met” the man and would like to read a bit of the history of the pipeman, his daughter has written a great tribute that is worth a read. Because I have included it in most of the restorations of the estate to date I thought that I would leave it out this time. To read it you can check out some of the recent Dunhill restoration blogs such as the one linked below (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/01/restoring-the-last-of-bob-kerrs-dunhills-a-1962-dunhill-bruyere-656-f-t-bent-billiard/).

This second Genuine Block Meerschaum from Bob’s Collection and this one is more worn and dirty than the previous one. It has a flumed top and a very rugged rustication on the bowl and top. There a smooth patches for the stamping on the pipe. There is a golden coloured ferrule on the shank end of the pipe that is oxidized. The meerschaum is very dirty with dust and debris caught in the grooves and crevices of the rustication. There is a thick cake in the bowl and a heavy lava overflow on the rim top filling in the rustication. It is stamped BELT on the left side of the shank. On the underside it is stamped with Genuine Block Meerschaum. There is also an arched stamp at the shank band junction. The vulcanite stem is tapered and has a design similar to a P-Lip from Peterson. The difference is in the shape of the button and the airway exiting on the end rather than the top.  It stem is oxidized, calcified and has light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe to show its general condition before he did his cleanup.Jeff captured the filthy rim top in the next photos. You can see how the rustication is almost smooth with the thick coat of lava. The thick cake in the bowl is also visible in the photos. The pipe was obviously one of Bob’s favourites and must have been an amazing smoker even this clogged with debris.  The next two photos show the debris ground into the rusticated finish around the sides and heel of the bowl. This old pipe was truly a mess. The black fumed areas around the top of the bowl look grey.  The next three photos show the stamping on the pipe. It reads as noted above.    The fit of the stem in shank appears to be loose and the shank looks to be very dirty. The stem is calcified and oxidized the length but is in worse condition for the first inch from the button forward. There are light tooth marks and chatter on both sides.    The BELT brand is not one that I am familiar with. I have never heard of the brand in my years of doing this work. I decided to pause before I started my part of the work on the pipe and see what I could learn on the web. I looked on Pipephil’s site and could find nothing listed. I did the same on Pipedia and initially found nothing either. I did a google search for the brand and low and behold the brand came up under Danish Pipe Making Companies under the heading London Meerschaum (https://pipedia.org/wiki/London_Meerschaum). I quote the brief article below as taken from Jose Manuel Lopes book.

“London Meerschaum made some pipes under the name of BELT or THE BELT, I had this confirmed by Bonds of Oxford St. who have 5 smooth bowl versions in stock at the time of writing, these look very similar to standard system full bent Peterson Meerschaums, the smooth versions have silverware stamped L&JS {Les & Dolly Wood, Ferndown} and has Belt and Genuine Block Meerschaum stamped on the bowl. I have seen 1 rusticated version with the same silverware and 2 of which I own 1, have gold plated ware with no hallmarks and are also stamped Belt and Genuine Block Meerschaum. Both smooth and rusticated have P-Lip type stems though the air hole is not on top but at the end as with most non Peterson P-Lips that I have come across. I do not know when London Meerschaum ceased trading but I can say from the one Belt that I own, it’s a very fine pipe and not cheap, well over the £100 mark when new.”

These pipes were evidently sold at least as early as the 1950’s. These may have been made by, or are affiliated with Pomeroy & Cooke Ltd., (Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks, by José Manuel Lopes).

I have to say that what I read was not what I expected at all. In my mind it was a Manx Made African Meer and now I knew that it was a Danish Made London Meer… strange provenance for this old meer.

With over 125 pipes to clean from Bob’s estate I took a batch of them to the states with me when I visited and left them with Jeff so he could help me out. Jeff cleaned the pipes with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. Once he finished he shipped them back to me. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff scrubbed it with Soft Scrub and soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked a lot better. I took photos before I started my part of the work.   I took a close up photo of the rim top and bowl to show how clean both were. The rim top showed some wear on the front edge and top. I also took photos of the stem top and underside. It looked very good.    The stamping was very clean and readable. It reads as noted above.   I decided to start working on the pipe by dealing with the misfit/loose stem. As looked it over this morning before I worked on it I realized that there was a sleeve on the tenon. That sleeve was actually the Delrin liner for the shank/mortise on the pipe. I cleaned out the end of the tenon and sleeve with alcohol and pipe cleaners to try to loosen the tight bind that held it in place. I repeated that then clamped a pair of Vise-Grip pliers on the sleeve and carefully wiggled the stem to loosen the connection of the tenon in the sleeve. It took a bit of fussing but it finally came off without damage.   I cleaned out the sleeve and removed all of the tars and oils on it with alcohol. It was quite dirty and caked on both the inside and outside. Once it was clean I debated between all-purpose glue and clear super glue to set it in the shank. I tried the all-purpose glue and it did not connect but rather the glue was absorbed into the meerschaum… sooo I coated the lining with clear superglue and set it in the shank by pressing it in with the stem in place. I removed the stem and set the bowl aside to let the glue cure. I restained the black flumed rim top and down the sides of the bowl with a black stain pen. I was happy with the look of the newly stained flumed portion of the meerschaum bowl. I have been using Before & After Restoration Balm on Meerschaum pipes experimentally. I have been happy with the results. I worked it into the rusticated surface of the meerschaum with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine. The pipe looks very good after the Balm has done its magic.   I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. The stem was in great condition with light tooth marks and oxidation. I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.    This Danish Made London Meerschaum BELT Bent Billiard from Bob Kerr’s estate turned out to be a great looking pipe. The flumed top and the nice looking patina around the bowl sides, top and bottom give the pipe interestingly dimensional texture. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and works well with the polished vulcanite saddle stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the meerschaum. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of Clapham’s Beeswax polish and buffed it on the buffing wheel. I buffed entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine on the bowl and stem. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished rusticated Meerschaum Bent Billiard fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in carrying on Bob’s legacy with this London Meerschaum BELT Bent Billiard send me a message or an email. I have more to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

A Second Inning For A Meerschaum Lined Orlik Bent Brandy


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I had recently worked on a long Albatross wing bone stemmed Corn Cob which was both rustic and delicate from an estate lot of 40 pipes that I had acquired about six months ago. This was the second pipe from the lot that I had refurbished, the first being a huge Real Cherry wood pipe. Here is the link to both the write ups which will provide background information as to how I came to acquire this lot and the condition of the pipes that I had received;

https://rebornpipes.com/2020/03/08/refurbishing-a-real-cherry-foreign-pipe-from-estate-lot-of-40/

https://rebornpipes.com/2020/05/10/refurbishing-a-vintage-corn-cob-pipe-with-an-albatross-wing-bone/

The third pipe from this lot and currently on my work table is beautiful Bent Brandy with a pearly variegated stem with swirls of light browns and grays. The first two pipes that I had worked on are marked with yellow and green arrows while the third pipe that is currently on my work table is shown in the second picture marked in indigo colored arrow. The pipe feels heavy and solid in hand. It is stamped on the bottom surface towards the shank end as “ORLIK” over “MEERSCHAUM” over “LINED”. There is no shape code or COM stamp on the stummel. The acrylic stem too is devoid of any stamping.I referred to pipedia.org for information on the firm ORLIK, my interest being piqued since I remember having seen a few Orlik pipes in my inherited pipe collection (unfortunately, I have never gotten around to work on any of them as yet!!). From what I have learned, the company was started in 1899 by Louis Orlik in London, Bond Street to produce HIGH QUALITY pipes for a RELATIVELY LOW PRICE. In 1980 the company was acquired by Cadogan. Like many of London’s other pipe manufacturers they moved to a new built factory in Southend-on-Sea. As all current brands in the Cadogan group, Orlik was being produced in those factories. In the same article, at the end is an onsite link to Dating Orlik Pipes by Michael Lankton, which makes for an interesting read. I reproduce the relevant portion which points to the pipe currently on my table;

  • Virgin(Series Letter:Without letters)
  • Old Bond Street(Series Letter:A)
  • Old Bond Street Sandblast(Series Letter:AX)
  • Supreme(Series Letter:T)
  • Supreme Sandblast(Series Letter:TX)
  • Meerschaum Lined(Series Letter:M)
  • Corona(Series Letter:C)
  • Old Root(Series Letter:R)

Here is the pipedia link to the article on Orlik pipes;

https://pipedia.org/wiki/Orlik

Since the pipe currently on my table is sans the series letter M and also the stem is neither Hand cut nor molded vulcanite but variegated acrylic stem, I assume that it is a Post Cadogan era pipe that is Post 1980s.

Initial Visual Inspection
The pipe, as it appears, is shown in the pictures below. There is thick layer of cake in the chamber with equally heavy overflow of lava over the rim top surface. The stummel is dirty with a number of dents/ dings and minute fills that are visible. The stem is filthy with heavy tooth chatter and deep bite marks in the bite zone and button edges on either surface. All in all, this was a very well loved pipe that has the classic signs of poor care and rough use. The chamber has a thick even layer of hard cake. There are copious amounts of old oils, tars and grime that have overflown the rim top surface and further down the stummel surface. The thick cake and heavy lava overflow over the rim top masks the condition of the chamber walls and the rim surface. The condition of these surfaces will be determined only once the cake and lava overflow has been cleaned up. The rim top surface is highly uneven as evinced by the uneven accumulation of lava overflow, again, this is just speculation as what surprises are hidden beneath will be revealed only once the overflow has been removed.  There are signs of charring along the outer rim edge and one prominent charred portion is at 1 o’clock direction to the front of the bowl. The smells from the chamber are very strong (very strong is actually an understatement) and all pervading. This issue of old smells will have to be addressed. I shall top the rim to make it perfectly even and also address the charred outer rim edges. It has been my experience that such thick layer of cake invariably hides some kind of wall damage, either heat fissures or beginnings of a burnout. Being meerschaum lined, I just don’t want a broken/ cracked meerschaum surface. The golden walnut stained stummel with dark brown stained grains makes for an alluring visual display. The surface is fraught with numerous minor dents, dings and is covered in dust, dirt and grime of the overflowed lava. A charred spot is seen to the front of the bowl in 1 o’clock direction (encircled in red). The shank end has patches all around, akin to water marks and my guess, looking at the condition of the chamber and stummel, is that the oils and tars from the mortise had leaked from the tenon- mortise junction and dried over the surface. The heavily clogged mortise is an indication of the oils and tars having nowhere to go but escape from the stem shank junction. I intend to sand the stummel surface to remove as much of the dents and dings as is possible while making the stummel surface smooth. I need to be careful while sanding the shank end to remove the patches so as not to shoulder the shank end. Major dents and fills that are revealed, if any, will be filled with clear superglue as briar dust and glue would leave ugly dark spots. The pearly variegated stem with swirls of light browns and grays is filthy to say the least. The stem surface is covered in grime and dirt with heavy tooth indentations over the button edges on either surface. The bite zone is peppered with deep tooth chatter. The tenon end, horizontal slot and the air way is covered and clogged with gunk. Air way over the surface appears darkened and flow through the stem is laborious and heavy. The stem surface and internal first needs to be cleaned. The tooth chatter will be sanded out with 220 grit sandpaper and if need be, will be filled with glue. The button edges on either surface needs re-building using clear CA superglue. The Process
I began the process of refurbishing this pipe first by working on the stem. I cleaned the external surface of the stem with a Scotch Brite gauze and liquid dish washing soap. Once the external surfaces were clean, I cleaned the stem internals with a small shank brush and liquid dish soap. I have realized that using small shank brush and liquid soap reduces consumption of pipe cleaners by about 75%. This is considerable savings considering that I pay thrice the cost of pipe cleaners on cost of shipping!! Next, I ran a couple of dry pipe cleaners through the stem to clean and dry it out. I avoid using isopropyl alcohol in cleaning stem air way just to guard it against crazing (call it my paranoia to use alcohol on an acrylic or Perspex stem!!). The tenon end, slot and the air way is now clean. I sand the bite zone with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to address the tooth chatter. Though the tooth chatter has been addressed to a great extent, the button edges are yet to be addressed. I wiped the stem with a moist cloth to remove the sanding dust. Thereafter, I applied clear CA superglue over the button edges and filled the deep tooth indentations and the minor tooth chatter in the bite zone. I set the stem aside for the fill to cure.I reamed the chamber with a Castleford reamer tool, using the smallest (size one) head of the tool. Reaming a meerschaum lined bowl is fraught with challenges, most notably being exerting of excess pressure with the reamer heads on the thin meerschaum wall lining causing the lining to break in chunks. I was very gentle and careful while using the reamer head. Thereafter I moved on to using my fabricated knife to further take the cake down to the meerschaum lining. Truth be told, the use of the knife was restricted only to scraping the surface in an attempt to dislodge the cake. With a 150 grit sand paper, the walls of the chamber were rid of all the remnants of the cake and it was at this stage that the first large chunk of meerschaum lining came loose. Subsequently a few smaller bits loosened out and came apart from the meerschaum lining. The area of damaged meerschaum lining can be seen in the enclosed red area. It seemed that the thick layer of cake was holding the meerschaum lining together. The rim top is not even and the lava overflow has hardened considerably over the surface to form a mound all along the rim top surface. To get a better understanding of the condition of the meerschaum lining, I wiped the walls of the chamber with isopropyl alcohol on a cotton swab. Now the extent of repairs required is amply evident. The entire lower meerschaum lining on the left half of the chamber has broken down in a jagged manner and the same is marked with yellow arrows. The fourth picture gives out a very clear idea of the break in the lining and the thickness of the lining that needs to be repaired. Also the hardened lava overflow over the rim top is clearly discernible. This issue needs to be addressed first. With my fabricated sharp edged knife, I gently scrapped and dislodged the complete mound of overflowed lava from all around the rim top surface. After the lava overflow has been removed, the damage to the rim top is now clearly visible. The meerschaum lining is uneven and has been completely blackened due to absorbing all the oils and tars from such heavy usage.I topped the rim on a piece of 220 grit sand paper, frequently (every couple of turns) checking for the progress being made and was careful with topping as I had no desire to break the meerschaum lining from the rim top area. Though the rim top, after topping was smooth and even, the distinct white meerschaum lining edge is still a dirty dark color and is, in fact, darker than the rest of the briar surface. A closer look inside the chamber revealed a highly uneven and heavily gouged looking chamber walls. The ghost smells are still very strong and not even reduced with all the cleaning and removal of the cake. Since the meerschaum lining along the chamber walls are broken and gouged out, salt and alcohol treatment to get rid of the smell is NOT RECOMMENDED. I need to figure a way out. This is how the rim top and the chamber walls appear at this stage. I was so caught up with the condition of the chamber, I completely forgot to clean the mortise and shank air way. Maybe with this cleaning the ghost smells may greatly reduce and or miraculously disappear altogether. I cleaned the mortise and the airway using regular/ bristled pipe cleaners and q-tips dipped in 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. I also scraped out the entire gunk from the shank with my fabricated knife. While I was cleaning the air way, two more chunks of the meerschaum linings came loose from around the draught hole. As expected, the mortise was filthy and clogged with oils, tars and gunk and the number of pipe cleaners and q-tips that were used to get the mortise and shank cleaned up is an indication enough. I applied “Briar Cleaner”, a product that has been developed by my friend Mark Hoover, to the external surface of the bowl. It works similar to Murphy’s oil soap and needs to be applied to the stummel surface and set aside for 5- 10 minutes. The product pulls out all the dirt and grime to the surface making further cleaning easy. I am quite happy with this product. I used a hard bristled tooth brush to scrub the stummel with the gel like product, wiped it clean with a moist cloth and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I deliberately cleaned the rim and the shank end by inverting the stummel and rotating it on a piece of Scotch Brite. I set the stummel aside to dry out naturally.    With the external cleaning, the stummel looks clean with the beautiful Bird’s eye grains at the foot now clearly visible. This scrubbing and cleaning also removed the thin layer of lacquer in patches on the stummel (layer of lacquer had missed my notice before). A few minor dot-like fills were also now visible. I first need to remove the entire lacquer coat from the stummel to further revel any other imperfections in the briar surface of the stummel.To remove the coat of lacquer from the stummel, I wiped the entire surface with pure Acetone on a cotton swab. I was relieved that the lacquer coat did not hide any more flaws in the briar than what was noted after the external cleaning. I must admit that the tiny spots of fills are something which needs no refilling and should be further reduced once the stummel has been sanded and polished. With the external cleaning of the stummel surface complete, I turned my attention to the most challenging part of this restoration, the repairs to the meerschaum lining along the walls of the chamber! I have never attempted this repair though I had earlier read about the process of repairing meerschaum lining on rebornpipes.com using egg whites and finely powdered chalk. However, attempting it for the first time is always a challenging prospect.

I had been gifted a Meerschaum lined gargantuan Kilimanjaro Made in Tanganyika bent billiard by my good friend Dal Stanton, aka The Pipe Steward that had several complications, the most significant being repairing meerschaum lining. Dal has the gift of penning down thoughts and actions in to words on paper and his essays are very detailed and descriptive. I went through his write up, understood the process, followed the useful links in his blog and formulated my own strategy to execute the repairs on the meerschaum lining on the pipe in front of me. Here is the link to the write up that Dal has posted on rebornpipes.com.

https://rebornpipes.com/2019/07/12/a-meer-lining-and-crack-repair-to-rescue-a-doomed-gargantuan-kilimanjaro-made-in-tanganyika-bent-billiard/

In his write up, Dal had referenced another article on rebornpipes.com which he had followed in his restoration of the Kilimanjaro pipe. I read through the article which was indeed a very useful step by step guide to build up the repairs to the meer lining using the mixture. Here is the link to the write up.

https://baccypipes.wordpress.com/2017/06/10/old-time-meer-lining-repair-method-on-a-1930s-kaywoodie-shellcraft-5651/

With my ideas crystallized as regards tackling this repairs, I first made a chalk powder using a mortar and pestle. I strained this powder through a very fine mesh sieve and obtained sufficient quantities of very fine chalk powder. I separated egg white from one egg. Next, I made a thin mix of egg white and chalk powder and with a flat bamboo frond; inserted a folded pipe cleaner to keep the draught hole open and applied a layer all along the walls of the chamber and over the meerschaum lining. No sooner had I applied the mixture, it ran down the sides and accumulated at the heel of the stummel forming a dark dirty yellow puddle. Apparently the mix was too thin. I cleaned this puddle using absorbent kitchen napkins. The unexpected benefit of this failed first layer was that the old oils and tars were pulled out from the walls of the chamber by this mixture. I wiped the chamber with a cotton swab and isopropyl alcohol. Once the chamber walls had dried out, I made a slightly more thick mix of the old timers mix and applied a layer. I kept the stummel left side down as I wanted the mix to fill and harden over the damaged meer lining over the left side. I kept the stummel aside to dry out naturally. While the meerschaum repairs were set aside to cure, I worked the stem. The stem fills had cured nicely. Using a flat head needle file, I sand the fills to achieve a rough match with the rest of the stem surface and also reshaped the buttons on both the surfaces. I further fine tuned the match with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper.Staying with the stem restoration, I polished the stem surface with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 pads. I wiped the surface with a soft cloth at the end of the micromesh cycle. The rim top surface looks nice with a deep shine. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil to the stem, though it does not help much, and set it aside. Though I am not a big fan of acrylic stems, I am happy with the way the stem appears at this stage.  The layer of egg white and chalk powder mix had hardened considerably after an overnight curing time. I made a slightly thicker mix and applied another layer and set it aside to cure. I continued to apply a gradually thicker layer of the mix till I was satisfied that the broken meer lining was completely covered. I set the stummel aside for the mix to harden. The mix appears to be too thick, but the same can be sanded down subsequently to the desired thickness.  Once the mix had completely cured, I topped the rim top to even out the excess of the mix from the rim. I expected to find a perfect white ring of the mixture within the briar rim surface. However, that was not to be!! Though not perfect ring, it’s a lot better than before. One maxim that I follow during restoration is “LESS IS MORE” and thus, I did not further repeat the process of adding a layer of the mix and topping it again once the mix had cured. It’s not perfect but it is definitely functional. I followed the topping by sanding the walls with a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper. If observed closely, the left side lining is thicker than the rest of the chamber giving the chamber an out of round appearance. I need to sand the left side layer more to achieve the desired symmetry.   I further sand the chamber walls with a 220 grit sand paper to even out the thickness of the left side wall and also reduce the thickness from the bottom half of the chamber. Again the uneven appearance of the white mixture was an eye sore but I resisted the temptation of rebuilding it all over again. But that’s for now…..never know maybe a couple of months down the line, as I look at it again, maybe I would attempt the rebuild! However, for now the chamber is nice round and the repairs appear solid and the pipe is definitely ready for a smoke. The ghost smells are also completely eliminated and the chamber is now odorless. I am quite happy with the progress till now. With the meerschaum lining repairs sorted out for now, I turned my attention to the external surface of the stummel. I sand the entire stummel with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. This served four purposes; firstly the coating of lacquer was completely rid off, secondly, the minor dents and dings and fills were evened out to a great extent and thirdly the water marks at the shank end were completely eliminated. The fourth issue that was addressed was the charred spot on the rim outer edge in 1 o’clock direction. The stummel is now ready for a nice polish.   Now it was time to polish and impart a nice shine to the stummel. I wet sand the stummel with a 1500 and 2000 grit sand paper followed by wet sanding with 2400 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. Even though the tiny fills are clearly seen in the following pictures, in person, they merely appear as tiny dots and not easily discernible. I really liked that the mixed grains on the sides and Bird’s eye grain on the foot are now visibly resplendent in all their glory. I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the stummel to enliven and protect it. I rubbed this balm deep in to the briar of the stummel and smooth rim top with my fingers and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the stummel now has a nice vibrant appearance. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush.  To apply the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax to the stummel and stem and continued to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and gave the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine further. The finished pipe is shown below. The pearly variegated stem with swirls of light browns and grays contrasts beautifully with the dark brown hues of the stummel and is very appealing to the eye. The repairs and transformation of this pipe to its present functionality and beauty was indeed worth the efforts that were put in. P.S. This pipe, when it came to my work table, presented a daunting task to restore. It was surely greatly loved by someone in the past as was evident from the thick cake, overflowing lava over the rim top and the stem damage, but I say in the same breath that it was also the most abused pipe. The broken meerschaum lining added to my agony while presenting me with an opportunity to put in to practice what I had read and learned about meerschaum repairs on Reborn Pipes.

A big THANK YOU to my good friend, Dal Stanton aka The Pipe Steward for the detailed and graphic description of the technique to repair Meerschaum and also to my Guru, Steve, for creating and regularly updating rebornpipes.com, a one stop site for everything that one wants to know and learn about pipe restoration!!

Appreciate all the efforts of readers who have had the patience to read this write up thus far!

Praying for the safety and well being of all the readers and their loved ones in these troubled times…