Tag Archives: fitting a stem

One from the Bizarre and Unsuccessful: An LHS LiteAPipe Patent Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

This pipe is one that never seems to have made a real impact on the market. I have never seen another one and I really like LH Stern or LHS pipes. I have had quite a few cross my work table over the years. It is an oddity to my mind. It is an apple shaped pipe with a contraption on the bottom that is a part of the bowl. My brother sent me a link to the eBay sale and it was one that I wanted to have for the collection. I have nothing like it and I wanted to see if I could figure out how the contraption on the bottom worked. The seller included some photos of the condition of the pipe. The finish had a thick varnish coat that was peeling and the seller seemed to wipe it down with furniture polish or wax to make it shine. The metal contraption on the bottom was dirty and the knurled handle on the front was intriguing and the bullet shaped cap on the back of the bowl was also interesting. The pipe is five inches long and very light weight. The rim top was pretty beat up from knocking it out on a hard surface. The nicks and chips in the surface while not deep were numerous and made the surface rough. There was a thick cake in the bowl and the lava had run over the bowl onto the rim top. The bowl had a flat panel on each side that had the finish worn off around the edges. The stamping on the pipe was very clean and strangely it was opposite of most other pipes that I have seen. The name is stamped on the right side and the patent information is on the left. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Pat Apl’d For and on the right side it is stamped with the LHS Diamond and under that LiteAPipe. I did some searching on the US Patent website and could find no information on the brand or the design. I also searched for the series name and found nothing either. The pipe was a mystery. I could not wait to get a hold of it and take it apart and see what I could figure out.While I waited for the pipe I broadened my search for self lighting pipes to see if I could find anything with a search that wide. I found three patents for the same kind of concept – two from the 1940s and one from the 1920s. They have the same basic idea of combining a lighting mechanism within the pipe itself to lessen the tools that the pipeman needs to carry. While there are similarities none of them are really close to the design of this old pipe. I think though that these links help establish a time period.

Here are the links and the patent drawing photos:

https://www.google.com/patents/US2532820https://www.google.com/patents/US2595534https://www.google.si/patents/US1938874The first picture below shows the end cap removed and the knurled cap pulled out as well. There is what appears to be a spongy end sticking out of the back of the contraption. The knurled end seems like it has a flint or some such end sticking out of the end of the tube. The side plate looks rough and could be a striker. The concept seems pretty straightforward – a single unit that contains the fluid, flint, wick and the striker on the base of a briar pipe. The pipe man simple fills the reservoir wool with lighter fluid. He sticks the striker/wick in the unit at the bottom of the bowl and when he wants to light his pipe he pulls out the striker/wick. He strikes it on the coarse bar on the right side of the unit.My brother took some photos of the pipe when it arrived in Idaho. You can see the flaking and speckled finish of the varnish on the pipe. The aluminum is oxidized and dirty. The stem is oxidized. Later photos will show that it is missing a large chunk on either the top or the underside of the stem at the button. The next photo shows the contraption on the bottom of the bowl and how it is fitted into a slot on the bottom.The next two photos show the pipe from the front end. You can see the striker/flint on the end of the knurled tube. The second photo shows the rim top.The next two photos show the condition of the stem. It had a lot of tooth chatter and was missing a large chunk next to the button. The seller had turned it to the underside of the pipe so it was less visible.My brother did his usual stellar job of cleaning up the pipe before he sent it to me. He reamed and cleaned out the airway in the stem and the shank and mortise. He scrubbed the externals with Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed it with warm water. The crackling varnish coat and the furniture polish the seller had used rinsed off with the scrubbing. He was able to get the bowl cleaned and most of the lava on the rim was gone leaving behind the beat-up rim top. The following photo shows the rim top and the damage there.I wiped down the finish with acetone on cotton pads to remove the remaining damaged finish. The pads came off with a red colour stain. The grain stood out on the bowl and it was a beautifully grained pipe. I debated for a bit about topping the bowl but because it was so rough I decided to lightly top it and remove the damaged areas on the rim. I did not take off much briar but worked to smooth out the rim top.I took apart the contraption on the bottom of the bowl. I unscrewed the bullet cap from the back end of the pipe and pulled out the striker unit. Once those were removed the insert slid free of the bowl bottom. The striker end had a wick that surrounded the flint post in the middle. Under the end cap there was a felt tube that was pushed into the tube and the end cap. I believe the felt was wet with lighter fluid and then the put back together. The right side bar looked to be a striker bar that the end was struck against to get a spark and flame. The burning wick then would be held above the tobacco and the flame pulled into the bowl.I went through my stem can and found almost a twin stem to the original. The taper is virtually the same. There were no tooth marks and only light oxidation and a few nicks in the vulcanite that needed attention.  I fine-tuned the fit of the tenon in the mortise and the new stem was ready to go. I put in place on the stripped down bowl and took some photos to get a good look at what the finished pipe would be like. I am happy with the flow of the shank and stem and the look of this short nosewarmer. I sanded the rim with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge and then polished it with 1500-4000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I tested the stain pens I had and the medium brown stain pen was a perfect match to the colour of the stain on the rest of the pipe. I touched up the stain on the bowl sides and the shank. After all of the touch up work I took the photo below to show the match of the rim to the bowl.I touched up the stain on the bowl sides and shank and gave the bowl several coats of carnauba wax to have a look at the grain. It is a beautiful pipe. The combination birdseye and flame grain makes a great looking combination. The rich reddish brown stain makes the grain stand out. I also polished the aluminum on the insert and the bullet cap on the lighter contraption. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads. After the final pad I gave it a last coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel to take out all of the scratches on the stem and to polish it. The plastic polish works really well with vulcanite stems. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect it. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown below. It is one that I will keep in my collection of tobaciana because of its uniqueness. If any of you know any information about it please send a message in the comments below.

 

 

 

Banding and Restoring a Radford Ravel Rhodesian


Blog by Steve Laug

I am working on the second pipe I chose to work on in the lot of nine pipes I am restoring for the pipe smoker who dropped by a box of pipes that badly needed attention. This one was stamped Radford Ravel and had a mixed finish of smooth top and sandblasted shank and bottom part of the bowl. It is a Rhodesian and the cap is smooth and the rest is sandblast. It was finished in a dark brown stain. The finish was very dirty and there were quite a few sandpits and nicks in the smooth portion of the bowl cap. The shank was crack on the lower right side and extended from the shank end up the shank about a ¼ inch. The stem was a replacement and had a brass washer on the tenon and glued against the shank. When the new stem was made the maker put a space on the tenon to add colour to the stem. I figure that the new stem is what cracked the shank. When I received the pipe the stem did not fit tightly. There were tooth marks, tooth chatter and a lot of oxidation on the stem. There was also a bead of glue around the washer on the tenon.

There was something about the brand on the pipe that rang a bell for me. I have a tin of their Sunday’s Fantasy Tobacco in my cellar and I wondered if they might have made pipes as well.

I did a bit of digging and found the picture on the left that showed some of the tobaccos made by the company and also a great figurine with the name Thomas Radford mild premium pipe tobacco on the base. On Pipedia I found that Radford’s Private Label Pipes were crafted by Chacom for the Pöschl Tabak GmbH & Co. in Germany. This information was from “Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks”, by José Manuel Lopes. The pipes were mass produced with ebonite and acrylic stems and were introduced by Butz-Choquin, Chacom, and Nording. On the stem there is generally an embossed logo that was a stylized R. The pipes were made to use 9mm filters and are moderately priced and very attractive. The following three links were the sources I used for this information.

https://pipedia.org/wiki/Radford%27s

http://www.poeschl-tobacco.com/en/products/

http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-r1.html

I also looked on another website and got a little more information on the brand. The Radford’s pipe appears in 6 models in 3 variations 1x time a year in autumn. The so called Radford’s Depot contains a minimum of 1 dozen pipes of the actual running collection. Connected to the depot is a listing of the depot holder in Radford’s News.

This particular brand RADFORD’S SERIE RAVEL was a series of 6 elegant models within Radford’s Collection. They are made from good briar wood, sandblast, black/brown with a polished head’s border in dark-red shade. Very nice rich-in-contrast ring at the shaft’s finish. Mouthpiece from Acryl for 9 mm filter. http://cigar.supersmokers.biz/radfords/

With all of this information I now knew that the pipe was originally made for a 9mm filter. The mortise was drilled deep in the shank to contain the 9mm filter. The replacement stem was a regular push stem without a filter tenon. I took some photos of the pipe before I started working on it. The finish was in really rough shape. You can see the glue and sticky material on the stem near the shank band. I took a photo of the inside of the shank to show the thick tars that had built up on the walls of the shank. The space in the mortise between the end of the tenon and the extra depth for the end of the original filters was filled with tar and oils. It was thick and sticky.I took a close up photo of the bowl to show the thick cake that lined the walls of the tapered bowl. The photo also shows the damage to the front of the bowl where the pipe had been tapped out against a hard surface. The second photo below shows the crack on the right underside of the shank. It appeared to me from the smooth area and the look of the stain that someone had tried to glue the crack and do a repair but it was not done well.The next two photos show the damage to the stem. The calcium build up on the button end of the stem, the oxidation and glue that is globbed on the stem to hold the washer in place on the tenon and the deep tooth marks on both sides near the button show in the photos.I scrubbed down the surface of the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to remove the damaged finish and the grime and oils in the grooves and crevices of the sandblast. I wanted the surface clean so that I could drill a hole to stop the crack before binding it together with glue and a nickel band on the shank. I drilled two pin holes at the end of the shank with a microdrill bit on a Dremel. The first one was slightly short of the end of the crack so I had to drill a second one.I heated the band to make the fit easier on the shank. I painted the shank end with some slow drying super glue and pressed the band in place against the topping board.I scrubbed the bowl with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove that last of the dust. I took pictures of the bowl with the new bling addition. I reamed the bowl with the PipNet reamer to take back the cake to the bare walls of the bowl. I finished the reaming using a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to scrape the inside of the bowl smooth. I rolled some 180 grit sandpaper around the end of my finger and sanded the walls of the bowl smooth.To remove the damage to the top of the bowl and to clean up the rough front edge of the bowl cap I lightly topped it on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper.With the bowl exterior cleaned and the damaged rim top repaired I worked on the inside of the mortise and the airway from the mortise end into the bowl. I used the drill bit that is in the handle of the KleenReem pipe reamer to ream out the airway into the bowl. I turned the bit into the bowl using the knurled end to press it through. I cleaned off the drill bit and used the dental spatula to scrape the walls of the mortise all the way to the end where the airway entered the bowl. The amount of grit and oils that came out with the scraping was phenomenal.I wiped the bowl cap down with alcohol and filled in the sandpits around the outer walls of the cap with clear super glue.I cleaned out the shank and mortise once again with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners until I had removed all of the loose debris left in the shank.I sanded the repaired patches on the cap with 220 grit sandpaper until the repairs were blended into the surface of the briar. I used a black Sharpie Pen to darken the spots and then wiped the bowl and cap down with alcohol to blend in the black. I scraped the area around the washer and the tenon with a sharp knife and funneled the end of the tenon to facilitate better airflow in the stem. I cleaned out the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners, alcohol and cotton swabs.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the stem surface and wiped the tooth marks down with alcohol. I filled in the tooth marks with black super glue and set the stem aside to let the glue cure.I stuffed a cotton ball into the bowl and rolled a cotton pad into the shank. I set the pipe in an ice cube tray and used an ear syringe to fill the bowl with alcohol and let it sit during the day. I left it sitting all day while I worked on the slot in the stem. At the end of the day the cotton had yellowed the cotton and the alcohol had pulled out tar and oil from the bowl walls.I used needle files to open up the slot in the button. I used a flat, flattened oval and regular oval file to open the slot. I folded a piece of sandpaper and sanded out the inside of the newly opened slot. After sanding it the slot was open enough to easily take a pipe cleaner. By this time the alcohol/cotton ball soak in the bowl was finished. I pulled the cotton balls out of the bowl and the pad out of the shank and threw them away. I cleaned out the shank and airway once again with cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. Once it was clean I stained the bowl with dark brown aniline stain cut 50/50 with alcohol. I flamed the stain to set it in the grain. I repeated the process until the coverage was what I was looking for.I rubbed bowl down with olive oil on a cloth and hand buffed the bowl with a rough cotton cloth. I took some photos of the new look of this old Radford Ravel pipe. The bowl is starting to look really good and shows some promise. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratches and raise a shine on the vulcanite. I removed the brass washer on the stem and polished it with sandpaper. I reglued it onto the tenon with super glue. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit pads and rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. There were still scratches and also some oxidation. I repeated the sanding with those pads and then moved on to dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed it down with the oil after each set of three pads. After the final pad I gave it a final coat of the oil and set it aside to dry. I buffed the stem with Red Tripoli to try to remove the remaining oxidation and then buffed the entire pipe and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I polished the metal band with a jeweler’s polishing cloth. I gave the stem and bowl multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine on the briar. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It has come a long way from the way it looked when I received it to work on. I really like the looks and the shape of the pipe. I have now finished two of pipes that the pipe smoker dropped off for me to restore before he left on holiday. I look forward to seeing what he thinks of his pipes.

Breathing Life into a Preben Holm Zodiac Taurus 12 with an under-slung shank


Blog by Steve Laug

Over the years, since I took up the pipe I have been drawn to pipes made by Preben Holm. He was a Danish pipe maker who made freehand pipes under his own label and under the label, Ben Wade for the US market. He shapes the pipes to follow the grain and flow with it. He made both smooth and sandblast pipes that have a variety of shapes and sizes in the freehand style. He also made smaller classic pipes that always were interesting. There seems to be a certain look about them always gets my attention. I rarely buy them unless it stands out to me and calls me. The first good pipe I purchased is a good example of this. It was a stunning, (at least to my novice eyes) Preben Holm, Ben Wade, sandblast freehand. The pipe shop owner helped me choose it from his estate pipes. I went into the shop near where I worked at that time in Vista, California. He handed it to me, and to me it was a very clean estate pipe. I was in the market for something other than my Medico billiard, which was the only pipe I had at that time. I still smoke the pipe and enjoy it. It is close to 50 years old and it is still going strong.I have since added two more Preben Holm pipes to my rack but they are classic shapes with a twist. Both pipes are what I call a “Dublinish” shape and long shanks and a freehand style mouthpiece. They have rounded edges on the square shank and the rim top. There is no raw plateau on either pipe. The finishes show the same care as all of Preben’s pipes that I have seen or worked on. It has a rich multi-hued brown and dark brown finish that makes the grain really stand out. I traded for both of these in lieu of payment for some restoration work I did for a fellow in Northern British Columbia.To my thinking, Preben Holm was a wizard with shapes and finishes. The sandblast on my freehand maximizes the grain while the plateau on the rim and shank end add another dimension to the look. On the two newer trade pipes I have, the rich brown finish has almost a matte look that I really like. The way in which they are stained also give a deep multi-dimensional look to the grain that is stunning. I keep an eye out for his pipes and regularly cruise eBay looking for shapes that catch my eye.

All of that is background to why I was interested when my brother sent me photos of a pipe he had found on eBay listed as a Zodiac. He wanted to know what I thought of it and if I knew who made it. There was something about the look of the pipe grabbed my attention and I encouraged him to bid on it. There were no takers for the pipe so he soon had it in hand. The shape and the design made me think that it might be a Preben Holm made pipe but I was not sure. The underslung shank, the shape of the stem and the look of the finish under the grime led me that conclusion.
I was flying to Idaho for a visit so I knew that I would see it when I arrived and that would help me affirm my conclusions. In the meantime, I did some research on the brand on the web and found a link to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Zodiac) that confirmed that Zodiac pipes were a brand made by Preben Holm. From research on the web I found that the Zodiac line had pipes made that were stamped with different Zodiac names. I found pipes stamped Libra, Taurus and Gemini. I am sure that there were others in the line either made or in design. What was interesting is that the entry did not have much information about the brand other than that the pipe was stamped Copenhagen, Denmark. However, to me the fascinating thing was that there were two photos of the pipe included that were a match to the pipe I am working on.

The next series of photos show what the pipe looked like when it arrived in Idaho. The finish was dirty and worn but there were no serious issues. There was no top coat of varnish or shellac on top of the finish so that was a plus. (I find that some eBay sellers feel it necessary to make the pipes that they sell shiny before they sell them.)My brother took close up photos of the bowl sides and bottom to show the overall condition of the briar and the finish before he began his clean up job. In the photo of the bottom of the bowl you can see what looks like a crescent shaped flaw toward the front of the bowl. I have circled it in red for identification. It had not been filled but was left open and had collected grit and dirt. The next photo shows the stamping on the underside of the shank. It is sharp and reads Zodiac Taurus over Copenhagen Denmark with the shape number 12 underneath.The rim had some tars and lava overflow from the cake in the bowl. There was a light cake that looked like it was a bit crumbly. The inner edge of the rim showed nicks and damage from having been reamed with a knife. The stem was oxidized and had tooth dents and tooth chatter. The fit against the left side of the shank was slightly damaged. The button was dented and worn down on both the top and bottom sides and the slot was filled with debris.My brother did his usual great clean up job on the pipe. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and took the cake back to bare briar. He scrubbed the internals of the mortise and airways in the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they were clean. He scrubbed the surface of the briar with Murphy’s Oil Soap and was able to remove all of the grime and grit on the surface. I took some photos of the pipe when it arrived. He had been able to remove a lot of the buildup on the rim top. There was still some darkening to the rim top. You can see the damage to the inside edge of the rim. The outer edge also had some damage from what appeared to have been an habitual knocking out dottle on hard surfaces. The bowl was pretty clean but there appeared to be some hardened cake on the bottom of the bowl around the airway. I topped the bowl on the topping board using 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage on both edges of the rim. I topped off enough of the rim to leave the top flat and smooth and minimized the damage on both the inside and outside edges.Once the bowl was topped I used a folded piece of sandpaper to bevel the inner edge of the rim. I wanted to bevel it to smooth out the nicks and cuts on the inner edge of the bowl. I sanded out the inside of the bowl with a piece of 180 grit sandpaper on a piece of dowel to smooth out the bits of cake that remained in the bowl. The pictures below show the process and the resultant bowl top and rim edges. The sides of the bowl are also cleaner. I sanded the rim top with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches in the briar. I sanded the bowl surface with the sanding block to remove as many scratches as possible. I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the sanding dust. I cleaned out the pit on the bottom of the bowl with alcohol and cotton swabs. Once it was clean I pressed in some briar dust and then dribbled super glue into the repaired area. I added more dust to even out the surface and let it dry. I sanded the repair with 220 grit sandpaper to flatten out the repaired area and blend it into the rest of the surface of the briar.I wiped the bowl down with alcohol a final time and cleaned out the interior of the shank to remove the dust that had collected from sanding the bowl and repair. I gave the bowl a light coat of olive oil so that I could see the scratches when I sanded it with micromesh sanding pads.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiped it down with a cloth dampened with olive oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and wiped it down between the second and third set of three micromesh sanding pads. I buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and then gave it several coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad and hand buffed it with a shoe brush and a microfiber cloth. I took some photos of the bowl at this point in the process and then set it aside while I worked on the stem. The oxidation was brought to the surface of the stem by the cleaning it with a soft scrub cleanser. I started cleaning the oxidation off with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and warm water. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the surface oxidation. I reshaped the button with needle files and the sandpaper. I sanded out the tooth marks and dents in the surface of the stem. The first two photos show the condition of the stem when I started.The next photo shows it after the initial sanding and scrub with the Magic Eraser. You can still see spots on the black vulcanite but it is pretty clean.  I ran a pipe cleaner through the airway and worked it around the button to clean out any remaining debris. It was pretty clean. (I was on a roll and forgot to take photos of it right after sanding it with the 220 grit sandpaper and reshaping the button.)I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-15000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads and after the final pad gave it a last coat of the oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the pipe and buffed the stem with Blue Diamond. I gave the bowl and stem several more coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth and took the following photos of the pipe. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a beautiful example of Preben’s workmanship. The finish may have originally been a light brown stain but I am pretty sure that it was a natural/virgin finish using no stain. This may be one that joins the other ones in my collection of Preben Holm pipes. Thanks for journeying with me in the restoration process.

A Desirable REJECT London Made


Blog by Dal Stanton

When I came across this classic half bent billiard while I was trolling through 100s of offerings on eBay’s auction block, I paused. The first thing that claimed my attention was its size. If there was ever a ‘meat lovers sized’ pipe, to use the American burger sound bite, this would be it. The UK seller simply described it as a ‘superb large bowl’. When the pipe arrived, I measured it and it is: length 6 5/16 inches, height 2 3/8 inches, chamber diameter 7/8 inches, chamber depth 1 13/16 inches, and the full stummel width is 1 3/4 inches – 68 grams for those who weigh pipes. A fist-full of stummel! Here is the eBay picture of the Billiard.The other interesting thing about the eBay offering was its marking.  The left shank side reads “REJECT” over “LONDONMADE”.  The only lead I found for this “REJECT” stamping was in ‘Who Made That Pipe?’ by Herb Wilzak and Tom Colwell, which provided only one reference to “Reject” as belonging to the W. H. Carrington Co. started in 1891 by William Henry Carrington in Manchester, England.  This came from the brief Pipedia article which also states that after a century of operation it went out of business.  I found more information in a Pipes Magazine Forum thread  but the source of the information was not cited.

WH Carrington as an entity dates back at least to the late 1880s. It continued to exist for about a century, with liquidation notices appearing in the London Gazette in 1987. Whether or not the business remained in the family that whole time is another matter; I doubt it, but have no evidence one way or the other.

Most threads I read commenting on WHC pipes were about earlier turn of the century pipes with hallmarks – a much earlier vintage.  I came up empty finding information that would confirm that the Reject before me is indeed a WHC pipe except for Wilczak and Colwell’s reference.  With a very nice looking Reject on my work table now, I take additional pictures to fill in the gaps. The question that begs asking is what is ‘Reject’ about this pipe?  Overall, it’s in good shape.  The chamber has very mild cake build up, and the stummel surface shows some small fills and usual dents of wear.  The stem has been cleaned, it seems, very little chatter or oxidation.  I only detect two issues as I look at the Reject London Made.  First, the finish on the stummel is shiny and acrylic-like, which, to me, hides the natural briar.  It is cloudy and I’ll remove it and work on the broad landscape of this stummel real estate to bring out the briar.  I like this challenge!  The other issue is the stem – it is under-clocked and a bit catawampus.  I will heat the vulcanite and restore a good bend in alignment with the pipe.  The reason this pipe was stamped ‘Reject’ coming out of the factory is a mystery to me unless it was destined to be a higher end pipe and the briar had too many imperfections…. Only conjecture and I would appreciate anyone’s input on this.

I begin by plopping the stem in an Oxy-Clean bath even though the oxidation seems very light.  While the stem is in the bath, I use the Savinelli pipe knife to clean up the chamber walls which takes little time.  I follow by sanding the chamber wall with 240 grit paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  To clean the carbon dust residue, I wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  The pictures show the progress. I like working on a clean pipe so I work on the internals using cotton swabs and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%.  With very little effort the mortise and draft are clean.Moving to the external stummel surface, I use Murphy’s Soap undiluted with cotton pads and a bristled tooth brush to clean the grime off.  The Murphy’s Soap does a good job removing the old shiny finish.Looking closely at the surface, the dent I saw earlier I want to remove using the iron approach, that I have yet to try, but this dent looks like a good candidate.  I’ve read several other restorations where this method was used.  Using a heated clothes iron, I use a wet wash cloth and lay it over the dent area and then I apply the iron to that point.  The concept is based upon the water content of wood being heated and absorbing the water and expanding the dented area – wood is a sponge-like material when wet.  I apply the iron several times and gradually I see the severity of the dent lessening with each heat application.  I can still see the dent but it should be more easily removed using a sanding sponge. Using a medium and light grade sanding sponge I work on the stummel to remove the minor wear nicks and dents on the surface. I like a softer edge on the inner rim lip so I introduce a gentle bevel both to give it a softer look and to remove some scorched areas. I think an inner bevel adds a bit of class as well.  I first use a coarser 120 grit paper to cut the bevel then I follow with 240 grit and 600 grit paper to smooth and blend the bevel.  The pictures show the progress. I now turn to the micromesh pad cycles.  Using pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stummel followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and then 6000 to 12000.  Throughout the sanding, I’m careful to avoid the Reject markings. The grain is looking good.  The pictures show the progress. I put the stummel aside and fish the stem out of the Oxy-Clean bath.  Very little oxidation has surfaced.  I use 600 grit paper and wet sand the stem followed by sand buffing the stem with 0000 steel wool.  The pictures show the progress.Before I proceed further with the internal cleaning of the stem and the external polishing, I want to correct the bend of the stem.  With great difficulty, I am able finally to pass a smooth pipe cleaner through the stem.  The pipe cleaner helps to maintain the airway integrity while I heat and re-bend the stem. Using the heat gun to heat the stem, I turn the stem to apply the heat evenly over the stem to soften the vulcanite making it pliable.  I then straighten both the stem clock-wise to correct the under-clocking.  While still pliable I re-establish the bend over a block of wood and set the new shape under cool tap water.  The first time around, the button was still not ‘clocked’ to my satisfaction.  I reheated and made the additional adjustment and again, set the shape under cool tap water.  I reattach stem and stummel to eyeball things and the newly aligned stem bend and clocked button look good.  I take pictures to chronicle the progress with the stem. I now clean the internals of the stem using pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%.  The stem is clean but I find that even though I’ve re-bent the stem the pipe cleaners will not move through the bend of the stem.  I decide to open the slot area with a round pointed needle file moving it back and forth in the slot.  After this, I take a drill bit, smaller than the slot opening, and insert it into the airway rotating it against the edges of the airway hoping to expand the internal airway area as it enters the slot.  This seems to help yet the bend is still tight on the pipe cleaners, but they are passing through.  The stem is clean.  The pictures show the progress. Time to bring out the micromesh pads to finish the stem.  With pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stem.  I follow by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and then 6000 to 12000.  With each set of 3 I apply Obsidian Oil to the stem to revitalize the vulcanite, and I love to see the pop of the vulcanite as it moves through the micromesh cycles!  I put the stem aside to dry.  The pictures show the progress. Turning back to the stummel, I decide to apply Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye to the Reject London Made to emulate the darker hues of the original finish.  Since it is an aniline dye, I can lighten the finish to taste by wiping the stained stummel with cotton pads wetted with isopropyl.  The large stummel has a lot of briar real estate to show off with a smattering of different grains – pleasing to the eye and a handful of stummel to boot!  I just acquired Fiebing’s Black Leather Dye and I decide to experiment.  I will add a touch of it to the dark brown to create the blend.  The first snag I run into is that this is the largest stummel I’ve worked on and my usual corks that I use to prop the stummel on the candle stick during the staining process were too small.  I rummaged through our cork supply and found only one large enough.  I warm the stummel to expand the briar enabling the dye to absorb better into the grain.  I apply the dye liberally over the surface with a pipe cleaner folded over.  Then I fire the wet dye and the alcohol content burns off setting the stain.  I repeat the process again to assure total coverage and set the stummel aside to rest.   After several hours, I ‘unwrap’ the fired stummel using the Dremel mounted with a felt buffing wheel.  With the Dremel at its slowest speed, I move methodically over the stummel applying Tripoli compound to remove the crusted fired surface.  I don’t apply too much downward pressure on the briar but I allow the RPMs and the compound to do the work for me.  After completed, I use cotton pads wetted with alcohol to wipe down the stummel to lighten the stained finish and to blend the dye.  After this, I mount a cotton cloth wheel on the Dremel and apply Blue Diamond compound and methodically work the wheel over the entire surface.  After completed, I again wipe the stummel with cotton pads wetted with isopropyl 95%.  I follow this by doing another quick tour over the stummel with the Blue Diamond.  The use of black dye with the dark brown has the effect of darkening the grain which I’m liking as I see the grain surfacing through the compound cycles.   The pictures show the progress.To remove the compound dust, I hand buff the stummel with a flannel cloth.  After mounting the Dremel with a cotton cloth wheel and increasing the speed to 2, one notch over the slowest, I apply several coats of carnauba wax to the stummel and reattached stem.  I follow this with a rigorous hand buffing with a micromesh cloth.  When I experimented by adding black dye to the dark brown I didn’t anticipate the unique hue that would result.  The briar grain veins seem to have latched on to the black and the lighter grains came out with a golden/copper kettle blend that is striking – very interesting and attractive.  If this REJECT – LONDON MADE is a product of the W. H. Carrington Co., I cannot say why it received this factory stamp.  For those who like huge pipes that fill the hand, this big boy, bent billiard fits the bill and needs a new steward!  All the profits of pipes I sell help the Daughters of Bulgaria, an organization we work with that helps women and children who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  If you’re interested in this REJECT, hop over to my blog site, The Pipe Steward.  Thanks for joining me!

 

 

Comoy’s Royal Falcon Bent Bulldog


Blog by Dal Stanton

The eBay seller from UK gave a decent, though brief, accounting of the origins of Comoy from Saint-Claude, France, and started in the 1820s by Francois Comoy.  His son, Henri, started the London extension of the Comoy name in 1879 with not much more than the tools of his trade – making pipes.  He is cited by Pipedia as being the author of the appellation, “London Made”.  In 1929 the company merged with the macro-concern, Oppenheimer Pipes.  With this, albeit brief history, Pipedia’s describes the present summation:

Comoy’s remained a family owned company until it was finally taken over by Cadogan Investments during the early 1980’s. Cadogan have continued to manufacture Comoy pipes to the present day and, under Michael Adler, the Comoy brand is their flagship and efforts are being made to once more re-instate the well known quality of the brand.

The half-bent Bulldog I rescued from my “Help Me!” basket is marked on the left shank, “Royal” over “Falcon” (curved).  The right shank is marked, “Made In London” (circled) over “England”.  The eBay seller’s listing indicated there was a shape number “13” which I cannot see.  The stem is stamped with the image of a falcon perched on a branch.  Here are the pictures of the Royal Falcon on my worktable: A quick trip to the Pipe Phil site confirms that Royal Falcon appears to be a prominent second of Comoy’s showing an example of the interesting stem stamping of a falcon perched on a branch – much busier than most stamps.

What drew me to bid on this Bulldog was the stem.  Within the Bulldog classification, is seems that most Bulldogs sport straight saddle stems, where the diamond shaped shank culminates in the saddle and the stem is then flat from the saddle to the button.  Rarer still, it seems are the bent Bulldogs which most often are fitted with a saddle stem as above.  Most rare, it seems is what I see now with this Comoy’s Royal Falcon – a half-bent stem that carries the characteristic diamond shaped shank into the stem and then gradually tapers out along the stem – giving the impression that the stem is much longer than perhaps it is with the bow of the diamond shaped shank/stem.  The tapered diamond stem is very nice and will look nice restored with the Falcon perched on his branch!  The chamber as a lite cake residue which I will remove down to the briar for a fresh start.  The rim has hardened crusted lava needing attention.  The front upper dome of the stummel has a nice dent along with several dents and cuts marking both sides of curved part of the stummel transitioning into the diamond shaped shank – an obvious result of the natural placement of the Bulldog on the table or counter.  There are several fills that have lightened and are showing through the old clouded finish.  The stem is heavily oxidized with moderate teeth chatter on the upper and lower bit.  The first thing I do to restore and recommission the Royal Falcon Bulldog is to place the stem in an Oxi-Clean bath after putting petroleum jelly over the falcon stamp.With the paper towel, down to catch the carbon dust and fragments, I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit to ream the chamber.  I use only the smallest blade in the Bulldog chamber and remove the lion-share of carbon.  I follow the reaming blade using the Savinelli Pipe Knife to scrape the chamber wall and remove more carbon. Using a piece of 240 grit paper I fold it over a Sharpie Pen and sand the chamber wall and finish by wiping the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  The chamber looks good.  The pictures show the progress. Turning directly to the internals of the stummel, using cotton swabs and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95%, I work on cleaning the stummel.  I also utilize a spade dental tool to scrape the mortise walls to stir up the old tars and oils.  There was a good bit of gunk, but the swabs and pipe cleaners started coming clean.  Later I’ll use a salt and alcohol soak to clean further.Now, I clean the external surface of the stummel using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a cotton pad and bristled tooth brush I work on the crusted rim as well as the grime on the stummel surface.  Using a tooth pick I scape the grooves circling the stummel. The crust on the rim is not moving so I use a brass bristled brush which removes most of the hard lava crust, but not all.  Using my pin knife, I carefully scrape the rim removing the last crusted carbon holdouts.  After cleaning, I then rinse the stummel in warm tap water to rinse off the grime.  The Murphy’s Soap well removed the thin finish and I’m looking a bare briar for the most part.  Doing a quick inspection of the surface, there are several cuts and some fills in the briar surface.  The pictures show the progress and the inspection. I use a medium grade sanding sponge to sand out the nicks and cuts.  I focus especially on the ‘keel’ of the Bulldog where most thumps and bumps occurred.  On some deeper cuts, I strategically use a rolled piece of 240 grit paper where more abrasion was needed. I also give the rim a ‘semi-topping’ with the firmer coarser sponge.  I follow by sanding with a lite grade sanding sponge to smooth more.  The inner ring of the rim has a bevel and it is darkened.  Using a piece of 120 grit paper I clear out the damaged briar and reestablish a crisp inner bevel.  I follow this with 240 grit paper and finish with sanding sponges.  The pictures show the progress.I put the stummel aside and pluck the stem out of the Oxi-Clean bath.  I start by wet sanding with 600 grit paper to work on the raised oxidation but soon switch to 240 grit paper.  The oxidation is stiff.  I’m careful to avoid abrasion on the Falcon stem stamping.  I’m hopeful that there is enough definition left in the stamping to restore it later with white acrylic paint.  After using 240 grit paper, I then wet sand 600 grit paper then 0000 steel wool.  The oxidation is left over the falcon stamping and I hope that Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser will help remove the oxidation without damage to the stem stamp.  I think it helped, but there is still discoloration over the area but the stamping is still intact.  The pictures show the progress dealing with the oxidation. Before I forget it, I now turn to the stem internals cleaning it with pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%.  Without too much resistance, the pipe cleaner come through clean without too much effort.Moving ahead straight away with the stem, I use micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 and wet sand the stem.  Following this I dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000.  Following each set of 3 I apply Obsidian Oil to the stem to revitalize the vulcanite.  With the last cycle, I set the stem aside to dry.  The pictures show the progress. With the stem completed except for the final polishing phase and repainting the Falcon stem marking, I turn to the stummel using micromesh pads 1500 to 12000.  With the first set of three, 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stummel, then with the following sets, 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000 I dry sand.  Throughout, I avoided the markings on the shank panels. The pictures show the progress. With the original color leaning toward the darker brown side, I will use Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye and then lighten as I see need using a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.   To prepare the stummel, I use a sharp dental probe to trace the twin grooves to remove any leftover briar dust from the sanding.  Then I wipe the stummel with a cotton pad and isopropyl to clean away any dust. Placing my ‘stain board’ down on my work station I put a cork in the shank to act as a handle and then heat up the stummel with a heat gun.  This expands the briar and allows for a better absorption of the dye.  I use a folded over pipe cleaner to apply the dye liberally over the surface.  I fire the aniline dye and the alcohol burns off immediately, setting the hue in the briar.  To make sure the coverage is complete, I repeat the process above including the firing of the dye.  I then set the stummel aside to rest.  The pictures show the fire crusted stummel. With the stummel on the sidelines a while, I look at the falcon stem marking.  Pipe Phil’s example shows a lot of lines and contours shaping the bird and his perch.  I’m not sure my falcon has that much detail left after wear and sanding over the years.  After a closer look, it appears that the imprinted falcons are slightly different – my falcon appears that he’s looking up more than the other.  For comparison, I’ve placed the two together below.  I’ll see what I can do with white acrylic paint. The first approach was to apply paint and then, before drying, to carefully wipe it away, leaving paint in the grooves.  This did not work – seems like there was not enough groove to hold the paint.  Next, I applied more paint and let it dry. That did not work either.  I’m not sure if this is usually done in pipe restorations, but the problem is that the lines of the falcon stamping are too thin and will not hold the acrylic paint.  I decide to take the point of my pocket knife and attempt to sculpt the lines that are there to deepen them.  It took several iterations of sculpting, then applying paint, drying and scraping off with a toothpick, before I arrive at the best I can do at this point!  The pictures show some of the process. With the falcon stem marking completed, it’s time to ‘unwrap’ the fire crusted stummel.  I use Tripoli compound with a felt buffing wheel mounted on the Dremel and use the slowest speed available and rotate the wheel over the surface, without too much down pressure on the briar, but allowing the RPMs of the Dremel and the compound to do the work.  I take a picture into this process.  When completed with the Tripoli, I use a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to wipe down the stummel to lighten the dark brown dye as well as to blend the dye.  When satisfied (forgot to take a picture!) with the shade, next I mount a cotton cloth wheel and turn the speed up half a notch, to 1.5 and apply Blue Diamond compound in the same manner as with Tripoli.  After the Blue Diamond I give the stummel a good buffing with a flannel cloth to remove the compound dust from the stummel before application of the wax.  After joining stem and stummel, I then mount a cotton cloth wheel on the Dremel and apply carnauba wax to the stummel.  I give the stummel 3 coats of carnauba and then finish by giving the stummel and stem a hand-buff with a micromesh cloth.I’m very pleased with the results.  The Comoy’s Royal Falcon is an attractive Bent Bulldog.  I like the lines of the diamond shank flowing into the tapered stem.  The Royal Falcon looks good re-perched on his branch.  The briar grain is rich and deep.  I sell my restorations with the profits helping the work we do with the Daughters of Bulgaria – those sexually exploited and trafficked.  This Bulldog is ready to serve a new steward.  If you’re interested in adopting him and helping the Daughters, check out The Pipe Steward Store.  Thanks for joining me!

Who would have guessed that there was a Beauty in this Beast


Blog by Steve Laug

Sometimes you have to look past the state of a pipe to really see what could be present underneath all of the layers of dirt and grime. You have to have the right perspective as well. You need to be able to see these pipes as well loved rather than abused; as a favourite pipe rather than a neglected one. This the context in which the next pipe that crossed my worktable is to be viewed. Here is the back-story. Not too long ago I received an email from a friend of mine named Jim, whose pipes I have worked on in the past. He had an interesting story to tell me and a request. I thought rather than tell the story for him I would let him tell it himself. Here is his email in full:

Hey Steve,

I have been hunting about 1200 acres of Farm and Woodland Property owned by an area farmer and old friend of mine named Stephen Lehner. Steve knows I am a pipe aficionado, and approached me the other day with a pipe that had belonged to his father. I was able to get a little history of how this pipe came to be in this abysmal condition. Steve’s father was rather hard on his pipes. As the original owner of this pipe, Steve said his dad, in the latter years of his life, was not given to cleaning his pipes. His cleaning routine, if you could call it that, consisted of digging any ash and unburnt tobacco from the bowl with a pocket knife, then grasping the pipe by the stem, toward the mouthpiece/lip area, and banging it violently against any nearby hard object – trees, brick walls, car mirrors. It was hard enough that Steve’s son, Shawn, remarked that the old man actually damaged the mirrors on his trucks! Mr. Lehner’s pipes were so abused, that he routinely broke stems, necessitating that he acquire new stems – some of which were not well fitted.

In any case, Steve handed me this pipe, stating that it is one of a very few connections he has to his late father, and asked if I could do a cursory cleaning so he could display it as a keepsake (He is not a pipe smoker). I thought the pipe was interesting, if in bad condition. I cannot clearly make out any markings. On one side, there is a partially legible stamping, “…vage” with some cursive writing below it which I cannot make out. On the other side, I can read the number “75.”  I think it is a bulldog style. The tenon will not enter all the way into the mortise, and I am not sure if that is because there is so much crud inside or because it is not the correct bit.  The bowl is heavily caked and cracked. It also looks as though there was some ad hoc rustication on the bowl, as well. The bowl shows a distinct area of impact where it was banged during cleaning as well.

I attached some pix so you could behold this wonder:Once I saw the pictures I was quite taken back by the sheer beastly look of this old pipe. It had quite literally been beaten to death. The bowl was cracked on the outside of the bowl that started at the front of the bowl and extended to almost the back side. There was a second crack below that on the front of the bowl extending from the bottom of the first crack and extending toward the other side of the bowl. The bowl was so badly caked that I could not even get my pinky finger in the bowl. I tried to blow through the end of the shank and I was unable to get any air through the bowl. The finish was dirty and sticky to touch. The worm trail rustication ran over the bowl surface but was filled in with dirt and grit. From the photos it appeared that the shank inside was incredibly dirty. I think that it is fair to say this pipe was a stranger to pipe cleaners. The stem that was in the shank was not a fit. It was of smaller diameter than the shank. The slot in the stem was almost clogged.

After reading his email and looking over the photos I wrote back to my friend. I was pretty certain from the look of the rustication and the shape number he gave me that the pipe was a GBD. The three letters that he could read on the left side of the shank were age. That led me to look in the GBD list I have and concluded that the pipe was a GBD Sauvage. I looked up some information on a chart I have of GBD lines and knew that the pipe was originally sold with a light brown stain, smooth bowl with deep carved lines to hide flaws. It was similar to a Savinelli Sherwood, but much deeper carved lines. The GBD shape number 75 was a Rhodesian with a1/4 Bent Saddle stem. While this old pipe was a mess it was awfully hard to tell if it ever was a Rhodesian. I sent him this information in my reply.

He wrote back and said he wondered if I would be willing to tackle the restoration on this one. If so he would send it to me. I wrote back and said I would do the work. I guess I will find out if my guesses on the brand of this pipe were correct. I would know more once it arrived.

The pipe arrived and it was indeed a mess. On top of the beat up old pipe, the reek of Middleton’s Cherry pipe tobacco filled the room when I opened the box. My daughters immediately commented on how strong the smell was. I examined the pipe with a lens to see if I could identify the pipe. It was stamped on the left side of the shank with the GBD logo in an oval over Sauvage over Collector in script. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Made in England over 75 which is the shape number. The next photos show what the pipe looked like when I received it. I took a close up photo of the rim to show the absolute dreadful condition this pipe was in when it arrived. The bowl had a thick cake that still reeked of the aroma of burnt Middleton’s Cherry pipe tobacco. The rim had been hammered to what looked like the point of no return – though I would not know for sure until I had removed the cake and the buildup on the rim top. The stem was a replacement one and it was obviously a poor fitting one. The diameter of the stem and the shank were not a match and the tenon could not be pushed into the shank because of the grit and tar built up inside. The button had been flattened by biting and there were tooth dents on it and also on the top and bottom sides. I would definitely need to make a new stem for the pipe. I decided to start by reaming the bowl back to bare wood. I wanted to see if the cracks on the outside continued into the bowl. I fully expected the bowl to fall apart once the carbon was removed and ceased to hold everything together. I started reaming with the smallest cutting blade on the PipNet pipe reamer and worked up to the largest cutting head. I finished reaming the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.I rolled a piece of 80 grit sandpaper on my index finger and sanded the inside of the bowl. I wanted to be able to clearly see if the cracks on the outside continued into the bowl. The second photo below shows the inside of the bowl. The crack on the left side of the bowl did not seem to show through inside. The one on the front of the bowl still needed some more work to be certain but it also looked like it did not show through. Notice the buildup on the rim it probably protected the top of the bowl to a large degree.I scraped the rim with a pen knife to peel off the cake that overflowed on the top. I carefully held the blade against the surface of the rim and scraped it slowly until all of the buildup was gone. Underneath all of the buildup the rim was in rough shape. It had been beaten pretty hard and the damage was quite extensive. The rim top showed signs of being knocked about hard against that truck mirror mentioned above. If this pipe could have talked I would love to hear the stories it could tell.I topped the bowl on the topping board using 220 grit sandpaper. I decided that I would sand it until the top of the rim was smooth and the damage on the outer edge of the rim was minimized.With the rim topped and smooth I wiped the bowl down with acetone on cotton pads to remove the grime and clean up the surface so I could assess the next steps in dealing with the external cracks on the left side and bowl front. I used a microdrill bit on my Dremel to drill pin holes at each end of the cracks in the bowl. The length of the bit ensures that I will not be able to drill too far and go into the bowl itself. There were five distinct ends to the series of cracks in the briar.I used a dental pick to clean out the cracks with surprisingly had closed tighter once the cake was removed from the bowl releasing the pressure. Once they were clean I pressed briar dust into the crack surfaces and the drill holes in the bowl. I dripped clear super glue on the cracks and into the plugs in the drill holes. I gave the repair several more coats of briar dust and super glue until the surface was filled. The pictures tell the story. I sanded the dried repair and the rest of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the excess briar dust and glue. I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on a cotton pad. I used a Black Sharpie pen to colour in the worm trail rustication around the bowl sides. I had done some research and found that the rustication on the Sauvage line had been darker than the stain on the bowl.I used the drill bit from the KleenReem Pipe reamer to drill out the buildup in the airway from the mortise to the bowl. It was thick and hard so the drill bit took several passes through the airway to clean it out. I used a dental spatula to scrape out the thick, hard tars that lined the walls of the mortise. I scrubbed out the mortise and airway with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners until the internals were clean.I stuffed the bowl with cotton balls until they were just below the edge of the rim. I put a pipe cleaner in the airway to wick the alcohol into the shank. I used an ear syringe to fill the bowl and shank with alcohol. I set the bowl upright in an ice cube tray and let it sit over night to draw the oils out of the briar. In the morning I took a photo of the darkened cotton balls. I used a dental pick to pull them out of the bowl. I cleaned out the shank and the bowl with cotton swabs to remove all the excess alcohol. I let the bowl dry.I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain thinned 50/50 with alcohol to make it more transparent. I flamed the stain and restained it. I repeated the process of staining and flaming the surface until the briar had even coverage. I buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and then took the following photos to send to Jim to show him the state of the bowl at this point in the process. There were still scratches in the finish that would need to be polished out but the bowl was showing promise and beauty was emerging from the beast. I left the pipe on my work table while I traveled to Idaho for my mom’s 90th birthday. I stay with my brother Jeff when I am there and as usual he had a batch of pipes for me. There were some amazing pipes there but what caught my eye this time was the stem I needed for this Sauvage. It was slightly bigger in diameter than the shank but it would not take much to fit it to the pipe. When I got home I lightly sanded the tenon with a Dremel and sanding drum until it fit snugly into the mortise. I took the photo below to show the new stem and the one that was with the pipe when it arrived. I took photos of the stem to show the difference in diameters of the shank and the stem. You can also see the deep tooth marks in the top and bottom sides of the stem near the button.I sanded the diameter with a sanding drum on the Dremel. I do this with the stem inserted in the mortise so that I can remove as much of the excess vulcanite as possible without damaging the briar on the shank. I nicked the edged of the briar but fortunately the nick was not deep. I also lightly sanded the top and underside of the stem with the Dremel and minimized the tooth marks. I sanded the areas on the stem where the tooth marks had damaged the vulcanite with 180 grit sandpaper and smoothed out the surface damage. What remained were the deeper tooth marks. I wiped down the surface of the stem with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the debris and dust from the tooth marks. I filled the remaining tooth marks with black super glue and set the stem aside to dry.When the repairs had cured I sanded them with 180 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the stem. I sanded the saddle portion of the stem to remove the marks left behind by the sanding drum.I put the stem in the shank and sanded the stem and shank with 220 grit sandpaper to make the transition really smooth. I could have done this differently but there was enough damage to the shank that the sanding would smooth out the briar as well. I wet sanded the stem and shank with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to smooth out the scratches on the briar and the vulcanite. I was able to remove most of the scratches. The rest would come out with more elbow grease. I cleaned out the inside of the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol until they came out clean. I used a sharp knife to bevel the airway into the stem. I have found that doing this directs the airflow from the bowl to the button. I put the stem in the shank and took the following photos. There is still a lot of polishing to do but the pipe is beginning to look pretty decent. I continued sanding with the 3200-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads to polish the stem. After each set of three pads I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil and sanded some more. After the last pad I gave it a final coat of the oil and let it sit to dry.I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and then gave both the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing wheel to raise the shine and hand buffed it with a microffibre cloth to deepen it. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I am repairing and refitting the original stem to send back with the pipe as well. Once it finished I will buff the two stems and finish removing any scratches that can still be seen in the pipe and then send it back for the surprise that Jim has in mind for it. Thanks for looking.

The Berwyck Poker Compromise


Blog by Aaron Henson

Last summer’s tip to Dallas netted me several great pipes. One of which was my first poker.  It was in a basket in an out of the way corner of a second hand store.  Very dirty and grimy but I could tell the grain underneath was beautiful with a nice contracting stain.  The stem was broke off about half way but I thought I could turn it into a nice stubby.  I looked forward getting it home and start working on it.ber1 ber2The stem had a heavy amount of oxidation and a buildup of white near the broken end.  This leads me to guess that the previous owner had used a softy bit to compensate for the broken stem.  I set the stem to soak in a mild Oxi-clean bath to raise the oxidation. After 24 hours I removed the oxidation with a magic eraser and an application of Walker Briar Works Pipe stem cleaner.ber3 ber4I wiped down the outside of the stummel with 91% on a cotton pad to remove the dirt and oils.  I was looking for any hidden issues that might be need to be addressed.  Thankfully there were none just a few handling dents/scuffs.  In fact, there weren’t even any fills.  The grain was beautiful and the existing contracting stain really made it stand out.

There was a healthy buildup of tars on the rim but not a lot of cake in the bowl.  What little cake there was came out easily with my reaming tool.  I smoothed out the interior of the bowl with 80-grit paper wrapped around a ½ inch dowel.ber5I like to clean the inside of the pipe before working on the outside so next came the interior of the shank. Lots of cotton swabs dipped in alcohol eventually saw it clean.

Next, I finished the bowl by doing a salt and alcohol soak.  I plugged the shank with a cotton swab and filled the bowl with salt.  Sometimes I use cotton balls but this time I chose salt – no reason why.  I filled the bowl to the top with grain alcohol and let it soak 24 hours.  This leached out a lot of the leftover tars and removed the smell of the old tobacco from the bowl.

Not wanting to top the bowl, I tried something new.  I placed a little Oxi-clean powder on a green pad in a shallow dish of water. Inverting the bowl, I worked it in a circular motion on the pad.  This had the desired effect and only a little bit of sanding was required on the rim.ber6Returning to the stem I began work on a new button. I taped off the end and mixed up a slurry of black super glue and charcoal powder using a tooth pick to apply it to the stem.  Several coats of slurry were needed to build up the button.ber7 ber8After the slurry dried, I used a flat file to rough out the shape of a new button.  Trying it out, I realized that the stem was too thick and narrow to be comfortable.  So I began to file the top and bottom of the stem to make it a more comfortable fit.  But as I did so, I had another revelation: the Berwyck was a filtered pipe.  The filter chamber extends back to where I was trying to shape a flat spot in the stem. ber9While I didn’t file into the airway I decided not to continue for fear that I would.  It was at this point that I decided to abandon the idea of a stubby and start looking for a replacement stem.  I figured I had a few of options: 1) I could buy an old stem that matched, 2) I could make my own stem using the tenon of the old stem, 3) I could splice a fish tail onto the existing stem (this would allow me to keep the spade trademark – thank you, Dal for this idea), or 4) I could try Dr. Grabow and see if the factory could supply me with a new stem.

I started with the last option first.  I figured if I was willing to buy and old stem, why not buy a new stem with a better chance of a good fit.  I sent an email off to International Pipes & Accessories, the Dr. Grabow factory in Sparta, North Carolina, but received a disappointing response.  So my next course of action was to begin a search online for someone with an old stem to sell that would fit.  I eventually posted the story of my quest on the Dr. Grabow Collectors Facebook page.  It was not long before I was contacted by Joe Mansueto, the moderator for the Dr. Grabow Collectors Forum.  Joe very kindly offered to use his contacts at International Pipes and too my surprise he was told that I should send the pipe to them.

I had not completed the work on the stummel and I wanted to have it at the 95% complete point before sending to the factory.  So, steamed out the dents using a wet terry cloth rag and my wife’s clothes iron.  Next came a light sanding with 1500-3200 grit micro mesh pads.

The rim was is in need of some stain and I had just received a set of Guardsman stain pens I bought from Amazon.  This was my chance to try the out.  I was very happy with the way they worked.  I have used other stain pens in the past but with less than satisfactory results.  Blending the three pens I got a good color match with the rest of the stummel.

With the stummel done, I packaged up the pipe with a hand written letter describing the situation and my connection with Joe.  I included a $15 check ($12 for the stem and $3 for return shipping) and sent the pipe off to Sparta.  The pipe left on a Thursday and arrived in North Carolina on Monday.  I had no idea what to expect for timing so I determined to wait as patiently as I could, figuring it would be 3-4 weeks.

To my pleasant surprise it was just a week and a half later.  I was on the road in Texas again when my son told me that a package had arrived from Dr. Grabow.  When I got home I was like a kid at Christmas wanting to get the pack open and see what Santa sent me.  I was not disappointed.  The new nylon stem looked great.  It returned all the grandeur and dignity that the pipe once had.  I was glad now that the stubby conversion had not worked out.

Although I am not a big fan of nylon stems, mostly to the fact that they are a pain to repair, clean and polish.  But this one being new was not a problem.  I did polish the stem using 6000-12000 grit micromesh.  The stem also needed a little deburring at the air hole and smoothing out on the face of the button.  All of which was done in short order.

I finished the pipe at the buffing station while smoking a bowl of McClelland’s Stave Aged in a Yello-bole Chesterfield – a previous repair.  I started with red diamond rouge on a rag wheel then finished with three coats of carnauba wax.  I could not be happier with the results.  Thank you for taking the time to read this.ber10 ber11 ber12