Tag Archives: fitting a stem

Restoring an Edwards Hexagon Dublin Sitter 97


Blog by Steve Laug

I got an email a while back from a friend who wanted me to work over an old Edwards that he had picked up. He had bought one from me in the past and had now found another one. It was a Hexagonal Dublin that had carved grooves on the sides of the bowl from the rim down to the base. The shank is square sided and is smooth. It is stamped Edwards on the top side of the shank. On the underside of the shank it is stamped Algerian Briar followed by the shape number 97. He had found it in a local antique shop I think. It had a thick cake in the bowl and the lava flowed over the top of the rim and down to the second layer of the carving on the rim. The shank was dirty and also filled with tars. The stem was a heavily oxidized replacement stem with the entire underside of the button broken off. Because it was a replacement I decided to put another replacement stem on the shank. I pulled the stem off the shank and took photos of the bowl. The grooves in the carving were dirty and the natural finish was dirty and damaged. I forgot to put the stem back on the shank and take photos. I was intent on cleaning up the bowl. I scraped out the carbon cake in the bowl and off the rim top with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I carefully removed the lava from the rim of the bowl.I lightly topped the bowl on the topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the thick lava coat on the rim. I did not want to take off too much of the briar as it looks like an interesting stack of briar sheets from the top down.I scrubbed the bowl and rim with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to get all of the grit and dust out of all of the grooves and edges of the briar stack. I rinsed the pipe with running water to rinse off the dust and the soap and scrubbed it under the running water to leave behind a clean bowl. I dried it off with a clean cloth. Then I remembered I had not taken photos of the pipe with the old stem in place so I slid the stem into the shank and took the next series of photos. Not only was the replacement stem badly oxidized it also had a large chip out of the button across the top side of the stem. It was poorly fit to the shank as well. You can see from the photos that it is larger in diameter than the shank itself. It was definitely going to be replaced. I put aside the damaged replacement stem and took a new square stem blank out of my box of stems. I turned the tenon on the PIMO tenon turning tool on my cordless drill to take down the tenon to fit the shank of the Edwards pipe. Once I had the tenon turned I wiped it down with a damp cloth and took a picture of the new stem next to the one I was replacing.I put the new stem on the shank to see how it fit against the shank end. I needed to do quite a bit of sanding on the sides of the stem to get the flow along the sides, top and bottom smooth and even.I cleaned out the internals of the pipe – the mortise and the airway in the shank using alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners to remove all of the oils and tars that collect there. I cleaned out the airway in the new stem to remove the dust from turning tenon.I sanded the stem to reduce the size on all sides with 220 grit sandpaper. When I got close I put it on the shank and carefully sanded it until the transition between the shank and the stem was smooth. I sanded out the casting marks and scratches on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. There were quite a few scratches left behind by the work I did to fit it to the shank. Once I had the majority of deep scratches sanded out, it was time to work on it with micromesh sanding pads. I used the micromesh sanding pads to polish the stem. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiped it down after each pad with Obsidian Oil to give the next pad more bite when I sanded. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and again wiped it down with the oil after each pad. After the final pad I wiped it down with a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. In the last photo of the three below you can still see some light scratches in the vulcanite on the saddle part of the stem. These would need to be buffed out on the wheel. (I polished the tenon as well as can be seen in the photos below. Each photo shows it progressively getting a shine.) With the stem almost finished I took it off the shank and used the Mark Hoover’s Before & After Restoration Balm on the briar. I rubbed it into the grooves on the bowl sides with my finger and a cotton swab. I wanted it to go deep in the grooves to further test the effectiveness of the product. This would be a good test as it is a totally different finish than any of the other pipes I have worked on with the product.  Mark had said that the product can be used on briar or stems – whether vulcanite, acrylic or horn. He said it was designed to pull the dirt off of the briar as well as polish it. He added some anti-oxidants to keep the briar from getting damaged from both UV rays and water. Once I had all the grooves and surfaces of the bowl covered I worked it into the finish with a cotton pad to see if it pulled out the dirt. It seemed to work very well and I took the following photos to show the results. So far the product seems to be delivering as promised. I will continue using it for a while and see how it works in a variety of settings before I give an opinion of the product. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the entire pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the stem and the bowl. I used a soft touch around the stamped areas as I did not want to flatten them or polish them away. I buffed stem hard to work over the remaining scratches in the rubber. It took some work but they are smoothed out. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and rubbed it into the sandblast and the plateau areas. I buffed it with a shoe brush and then with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The interesting carved finish on the bowl with its natural oil finish and the new stem combine to present a beautiful pipe. The pipe has been given a total makeover and the new stem fits the shape very well. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I think William is going to really like the new look and feel of this pipe. I have one more of his to finish up and then the pair will go back to him in the mail. Thanks for looking.

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Restemming and Reconditioning a Rungsted Mariner by Preben Holm


Blog by Steve Laug

I don’t know when I learned that the Rungsted line of pipes was another line that Preben Holm carved. But I learned that he made several lines outside the Ben Wade contract pipes he was producing for Snug Harbor/Lane. This was confirmed when I looked online and found a thread on PipesMagazine.com. The discussion covered a brand called Britta Bech and one of the members there happened to mention and confirm what I already knew about the Rungsted line. From my memory and the speaker’s the pipes were mostly carved in the mid to late 70’s or early 80’s during the height of the Danish Freehand pipe craze in the US. The speaker there said that though some refer to these as seconds he did not think that was accurate and that really it was a totally separate line from Preben Holm. I would agree with his assessment on this. I am pretty certain looking at the various Rungsted pipes that I have worked on that there are no flaws. They all combine both smooth and sandblast finishes and present a really interesting finished pipe. (mlaug on pipesmagazine.com http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/preben-holm-info-needed).

This particular pipe came in a lot that Jeff and I purchased from a fellow in Idaho. Jeff had purchased the pipes shown in the photo below from him. The Rungsted is circled in red at the top right side of the photo. The photo came because I asked Jeff to send me a picture of the pipes he picked up. I have written about the find on a previous blog that you can read if you are interested at the link that follows: https://rebornpipes.com/2016/10/07/a-good-day-hunting-orchestrated-between-british-columbia-and-idaho/ 

Jeff did a great job cleaning off the debris and grime on this old bowl. It did not have a stem when it came to us, one would have to be made to fit it. He reamed it with a PipNet reamer and smoothed the walls of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim and shank with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to the oils and tars on the bowl, rim and shank. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. Once the grime was removed the finish underneath was in stellar condition. The rich patina of the older briar was a variegated finish of smooth and sandblast looked great. I took photos of the bowl to show its condition before I started my work on it. The shank of the pipe was stamped on the smooth underside. It read RUNGSTED over MARINER over Hand Made in Denmark. The stamping was quite legible, though the lower portion was lighter than the upper.I had a stem in my can of stems that I had started shaping for another pipe some time ago and abandoned. It needed to have a little more of the tenon end taken down to fit in the mortise but it had the correct look for the pipe. I took pictures of the stem before I did the work to make it fit.I sanded the tenon end down with 220 grit sandpaper until it fit snugly in the shank. I put it in place on the pipe and took the next set of photos. Lots of sanding to do, but it gives an idea of what the pipe will look like when it is finished. In my ongoing experiment with Mark Hoover’s Before & After Restoration Balm I am using it on this mixed finish pipe. It should be a good test of how it works in the transitions between the smooth and sandblast portions as well as on the plateau on the rim and the shank end. I have used it individually on each of those finishes but not on a pipe that had all three features. Mark describes the product being designed for use on briar or stems – whether vulcanite, acrylic or horn. It was formulated to pull the dirt off of the briar as well as polish it at the same time. It includes anti-oxidants to keep the briar from getting damaged from UV rays and water as well as something that enlivens the briar. I worked it into the sandblast portions with my fingers and rubbed it on the smooth portions. I wiped it down with a cotton pad to see if it pulled out the dirt. It worked very well on all the different parts of this bowl. I took the following photos to show the results. As always, I will continue using it for a while and see how it works in a variety of settings before I give an opinion of the product. I buffed the bowl with a clean buffing pad to polish the briar and see what the finished bowl would look like and if areas that needed a bit more attention. The buffed bowl can be seen in the photos that follow. It has a rich patina that really has a deep glow to it. The two finishes really flow into each other and give the pipe a warm look. I sanded out the casting marks and scratches on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I opened the slot in the end of the button with needles files and sandpaper to make it easier to push a pipe cleaner into the stem and shank. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with Obsidian Oil to give the next pad more bite when I sanded. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and again wiped it down with the oil after each pad. After the final pad I wiped it down with a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the stem and the smooth portions of the briar. I used a soft touch around the stamped areas as I did not want to flatten them polish them away even more that they already were. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and rubbed it into the sandblast and the plateau areas. I buffed it with a shoe brush and then with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The variegated finish on the bowl and stem combine to present a beautiful pipe. The pipe really does look fresh and new to me and I like the finished look with the new stem. The dimensions of this pipe are Length: 6 1/2 inches, Height: 2 inches, Bowl diameter: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I will soon be adding it to the rebornpipes store if you are interested in adding to your collection. It is a beauty and will serve someone very well. Email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

Restoring a Savinelli Made Estella 614 Full Bent


Blog by Steve Laug

I have always liked the rocky rusticated finish on the Savinelli Made Estella pipes. I have worked on many of them over the years and by and large they seem to have been a well-loved, good smoking and almost indestructible pipe. The finish is a rustication that almost looks like a “blastication” (rustication then sandblasted). It is knobby and very tactile. It feels good in the hand. I have worked on panels, billiards and bulldogs but never a full bent. This one was in good shape. The finish was dirty but was undamaged. The inner edge of the rim was clean and the outer edge had some wear from knocking it out against hard surfaces. There was a light cake in the bowl and the rustication on the rim top was covered with a thick coat of lava. The Lucite stem had tooth marks on the top and the underside of the stem at the button. There was a dark tar stain in the airway in the stem.  The button was in great shape. Jeff took the next series of photos to show the condition of the pipe before he cleaned it. The next photo shows the rim top and you can see the tar buildup in the rustication of the rim. It is almost smooth there is so much tar.The next photo shows the stamping on the underside of the bowl and shank. It reads Estella followed by the shape number 614 over Italy. Often there is a Savinelli Shield logo but it is not on this pipe. There is also an E stamped on the left side of the staggered saddle stem. The next two photos show the tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem at the button. There was one deep mark on each side of the stem at the button.Jeff did an amazing job cleaning up the light issues on this pipe. He reamed it with a PipNet reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim and shank with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the dust of the years. He removed the lava coat on the rim surface so that it was clean. He was able to clean up the outer edges of the rim so that the damage was removed and matched the rest of the rustication. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. Once the dust was removed it was clear that the finish underneath was in stellar condition. The random style of the rustication and the high spots gave it a very rough feel that was like rock. Very well carved. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. The rim looked really good. The grooves and carved surface was very clean and the lava that had filled in all of them was gone. The bowl was clean as well.The stem cleaned up well. The majority of the tar stains in the airway came out with the scrubbing with alcohol. What was left was probably not going anywhere. The tooth marks on both sides were dents that were not too deep and could be sanded out.I stained the rim top and the outer and inner edges of the bowl with a dark brown stain pen to blend it in with the colour of the rest of the pipe. There was ring of smooth briar at the end of the shank where the stem sat against it.In my ongoing experiment with Mark Hoover’s new product that he calls Before & After Restoration Balm I used it on the blastication of the bowl and shank. Mark is the creator of the Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and Polishes.  He says that the product can be used on briar or stems – whether vulcanite, acrylic or horn. He said it was designed to pull the dirt off of the briar as well as polish it. He added some anti-oxidants to keep the briar from getting damaged from both UV rays and water. I chose to use it on this pipe because of the roughness of the rusticated finish on this bowl. I rubbed it into the finish on the bowl and shank with my fingers and worked it into the finish with a shoe brush to see if it pulled out the dirt. It seemed to work very well and I took the following photos to show the results. I will continue using it for a while and see how it works in a variety of settings before I give an opinion of the product. I used a sharp knife to bevel the airway in the tenon. Funneling the airway at that point adds to the smooth flow of air to the button.I sanded the tooth marks on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper until they disappeared into the surface of the stem. When I finished sanding the stem it was smooth and there were not any damaged areas on the stem at the button.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with Obsidian Oil to give the next pad more bite when I sanded. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and again wiped it down with the oil after each pad. After the final pad I wiped it down with a damp cloth and set it aside while I finished the bowl. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the briar. I used a soft touch on the rusticated areas as I did not want to flatten them or fill in the grooves with polishing compound. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and I gave the rusticated bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The rough rusticated finish with its dark brown and medium brown highlights works well with the golden swirled Lucite stem. The pipe looks fresh and new. The dimensions of this pipe are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 2 inches, Bowl diameter: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is one that will be going on the rebornpipes store shortly. It will make a nice addition to someone’s pipe rack. If you are interested email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

 

Fashioning a Churchwarden Stem for a Mario Grande Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

A while back I was contacted by a fellow named Chris who was referred to me by the local pipe and cigar shop. He needed a repair on a Joh’s Churchwarden with a broken shank. I repaired the shank, banded it and cleaned it up. You can read about that repair on a previous blog at this link:  (https://rebornpipes.com/2017/08/26/repairing-a-broken-shank-and-crooked-alignment-on-a-johs-churchwarden/). He also had a big Mario Grande Freehand that he wanted me to make a churchwarden stem for. He really likes the long stems and wondered if I could make him one that he could use interchangeably on his Mario Grande pipes. He wanted a really long stem but the only stems made are 8 inches long. I contacted him and he said to go ahead order one for this pipe. Several weeks went by and the stems finally arrived. I took some photos of the pipe.The pipe was a big piece of briar and it was in good shape. The existing stem was oxidized on the top side and the ball at the tenon insert. I decided that I would both clean up the existing stem and make a new stem for it.I took a photo of the top of the bowl that shows the beautiful plateau top and the size and shape of the chamber. For a block of briar this large the chamber was only 3/4 inches in diameter. It is a small chamber for a pipe this large.I took photos of the stem to show that the oxidation was heavier on the top side of the stem than the underside.I took the stem out of the mailing bag and wiped it down. It had the casting marks on both sides of the stem and on the tenon and button end. Those would need to be cleaned up. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to remove the casting marks on both sides and the button and tenon end. I drilled the airway open enough to hold the pin on the PIMO tenon turning tool. I put the tool in my cordless drill and pushed the stem onto it. I adjusted the cutting head to cut the tenon to the same diameter as the tenon on the existing stem. I held the stem and used the drill to cut away the excess material so that it would fit snugly in the mortise.I put the stem in the shank and took photos of the new look of this handmade Mario Grande. The pipe looks really good and will be a great sitting pipe. There is no way that the weight of this piece of briar will ever work as a clencher. I put a pipe cleaner in the airway in the stem and put it on a cookie tray. I turned the setting on the oven to 350 degrees F and put the cookie sheet and stem in the oven. I let it heat for 10 minutes until the stem was absolutely straight and pliable. I put the stem in the shank and bent it to an angle that matched the flow of the bowl and shank. I held it until the stem cooled and the bend was set.In my continued experiment with the new product from Mark Hoover – the creator of the Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and Polishes. He calls it Before & After Restoration Balm and it can be used on briar or stems – whether vulcanite, acrylic or horn. He said it was designed to pull the dirt off of the briar as well as polish it. He added some anti-oxidants to keep the briar from getting damaged from both UV rays and water. This is the second smooth briar pipe that I chose to use it on. I figured it would be a good test to see how it worked on a smooth briar bowl and a lightly oxidized vulcanite stem. I applied it and worked it into the crevices of the plateau on the shank and the rim top with a shoes brush. It worked well, so I took the following photos to show the results. The bowl and the stem have a rich shine. I would need to polish the stem a bit more to remove all of the oxidation but it was far better than when I started. I will continue using it and see how it works on a variety of pipes before I give a review.I buffed the stem with red Tripoli and Blue Diamond polish to remove as much of the oxidation as I could with the wheel. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads to remove the oxidation that remained – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and again wiped it down with the oil after each pad. After the final pad I gave it another coat of the oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem in the shank and took photos of the new Churchwarden look of the Mario Grande. I sent the photos to Chris to see what he thought of the new stem. I turned my attention to the Churchwarden stem. I sanded away the marks from the castings and shaped the tenon end of the stem into a cone to fit into the conical drilling at the end of the shank. I buffed the stem with red Tripoli and Blue Diamond polish to remove as much of the scratching in the vulcanite as I could with the wheel. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads to further remove the scratches – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and again wiped it down with the oil after each pad. After the final pad I gave it another coat of the oil and set it aside to dry. I put the churchwarden stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the briar and vulcanite. I switched stems and buffed the short stem with Blue Diamond as well to polish it. I gave the bowl and both stems multiple coats of carnauba wax and I gave the plateau areas on the rim and shank end with several coats of Conservator’s Wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The rich medium brown stain and the rough plateau on both the rim top and shank end the polished black vulcanite of both stems worked well together to give a rich look to the pipe. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I took photos of it with the churchwarden stem and with the original short stem to give an idea of how it looked all polished and shining. Thanks for looking.

Another Frankenpipe – Salvaging a Lido Root Briar Dublin Bowl


Blog by Steve Laug

My brother Jeff picked up a nice looking Brebbia pipe on one of his trips to Montana. It was a Brebbia Lido Root Briar Dublin. It had an almost Castello Sea Rock finish on the bowl and shank. It was stamped on a smooth spot on the underside of the bowl and shank. It read Lido over Root Briar over 9004. Next to that it read Brebbia over Italy. Jeff showed me the pictures and it was a nice looking pipe as far as I could see. The shank looked a little short and the angle of the stem was funny but it was nice. The oval shape of the bowl was different and made the pipe interesting. When Jeff examined it at his hotel he discovered that the stem had been glued into the shank. The close he looked the more convinced he became that the shank had been broken and that this was a quick fix either to keep the pipe smokable or to make it sellable. Either way it was no longer a good find in his mind.

We talked when he was doing the cleanup and he was going to throw it away. He did not take pictures of the pipe as it was when he got it for this reason. The bowl had a thick cake and the rim had a copious overflow of lava that filled in the finish. I asked him to clean it up anyway and send it to me. He was dubious but he did it. He reamed and cleaned the bowl and shank to a point where it was spotless. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush and was able to get the rim clean of the lava. It was clean when it arrived in Vancouver. I unpacked the box and looked at it briefly and tossed it back in the box. I had no inspiration as to what to do with it at that point so I figured I would just let it sit for a while.

Yesterday I woke early to an idea for the Brebbia bowl. I don’t know if that happens to you but it does to me. Probably means I am thinking too much about pipes but it is what it is. I knew what I wanted to do with the bowl so I dug it out of the box and turned it over in my hands. I did not take photos of it at that point though I should have. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to square up the broken shank end. It was at an angle so it needed to be made flat. I sanded it on the topping board to smooth out the end of the shank and face it. I cleaned out the inside of the shank end with alcohol and cotton swabs to remove the dust and debris and ready for the next part of the process.

I went through my box of parts and found a one inch long piece of bamboo with one knuckle that I had cut off in a repair on another pipe. It was a thick hard piece of bamboo that would work well. The end with the knuckle was the same basic diameter as the shank end so that would work well. I also keep broken chunks of Delrin and vulcanite tenons to use for this kind of thing so I salvaged a one inch long piece of Delrin that was perfect. I roughed up the surface a bit and took down the outer diameter with the Dremel and sanding drum so that it would insert into the shank end. The photo below shows the accumulation of parts ready to be joined together.In the past I have used epoxy to glue the parts together. This time I chose to use clear super glue. I applied the glue to the end of the tenon that went into the shank and pressed it into place. I made sure that things lined up well and let the glue cure. It does not take long – which is why I chose to use it this time. You have to work quickly to assure all is aligned before it sets. Once it was set I painted the end of the shank and the bamboo with super glue and applied it to the tenon as well and pressed the bamboo over the extended piece of tenon. I lined everything up so the fit was correct. I wanted the groove in the bamboo on the top side of the shank so once it was done I held it until it set. The following photos show the bowl and shank repair at this point in the process. I liked the look of the pipe at this point. I cleaned up the reaming a bit as I saw some remaining cake on the back side of the bowl during the process. I used the Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to cut it back and smooth out the surface of the bowl interior.I used a brass bristle brush to clean up the top of the rim a bit more. There still seemed to be remnants of lava in the nooks and crannies of the rustication that needed attention. Nothing does the job on this kind of surface like a brass bristle tire brush.I am continuing to experiment with a new product from Mark Hoover – the creator of the Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and Polishes. He calls it Before & After Restoration Balm and it can be used on briar or stems – whether vulcanite, acrylic or horn. He said it was designed to pull the dirt off of the briar as well as polish it. He added some anti-oxidants to keep the briar from getting damaged from both UV rays and water. I chose to use it on this third pipe – because of the roughness of the rusticated finish on this bowl. I figured it would be a good test to see if it reached deep into the rustication and pulled out the dirt. I applied it and worked it into the crevices with a shoes brush. It seemed to work very well and I took the following photos to show the results. I will continue using it for a while and see how it works in a variety of settings before I give an opinion of the product. I decided to see what stem I would use for this pipe. I needed something close to the diameter of the end of the bamboo. I went through my can of stems and found one that was perfect. It was the same diameter and would match well. It was oxidized but there were no tooth marks in the vulcanite so it would be a simple clean up. It did not have a tenon so I would need to replace the tenon in the stem. The photo below shows the parts. The thing I neglected to photograph was the end of the stem. The drilling was perfect for being able to turn the new threaded tenon in place. I coated the threads with a coat of super glue and turned the tenon in place on the stem. I quickly aligned the tenon and made sure it was straight before the glue set. You have to work quick with the super glue to achieve this before it sets. I sprayed the tenon with accelerator to harden the glue. It leaves behind a white residue that is shown in the photo. It easily comes off with a damp cloth.I set the stem aside for a while and turned back to the end of the bamboo where it would meet the stem. I used the Dremel and sanding drum to flatten it out. I pressed it against the sandpaper on the topping board to face it and make it square. Once I had that done I looked through my box of parts and found a hard rubber button that I had drilled to use as a spacer on a previous pipe. It would work perfect in this situation. I glued it in place on then end of the shank with super glue. I filled in around the joint against the bamboo with the tip of the superglue to seal it and allow no air or moisture to seep through the joint. Once the glue had hardened I would need to trim it back to the diameter of the stem. It would serve as a smooth surface for the end of the stem to sit against and make the fitting of the stem much easier. The final photo in this series shows an end view of the space on the bamboo. You can see how it looks from that perspective in the photo. I neglected to take photos of the process of trimming back the spacer. Once the glue set (several hours) I used the Dremel and sanding drum to take back the excess material of the space close to the diameter of the stem. I sanded the spacer with the stem in place using a worn piece of 180 grit sandpaper to smooth it out and also to remove the oxidation on the stem. I did take a photo of the pipe to send to my brother.There will still need to be a lot of sanding to match these two parts a bit more but you can see the general idea in the photos below. I like the way the pipe looks so far. Given the parts I had available this Frankenpipe is coming together quite well. Once everything lined up well it was time to polish the spacer and the stem. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and again wiped it down with the oil after each pad. After the final pad I gave it another coat of the oil and set it aside to dry. I polished the spacer at the same time  using micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and again wiped it down with the oil after each pad. After the final pad I gave it another coat of the oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the briar. I used a soft touch on the sandblasted areas as I did not want to flatten them or fill in the grooves with polishing compound. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and I gave the sandblasted bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The rough sandblast finish with its dark brown and oxblood contrast stain and the newly added bamboo shank work well with the tapered stem I fit to the shank to make a beautiful pipe. The pipe looks fresh and new. The dimensions of this pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 1/8 inches, Bowl diameter: 1 3/8 inches wide and 1 3/4 inches long, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I like it! It came out pretty well in my opinion – not too bad for a Frankenpipe. Thanks for looking.

Rode Hard & Put Away Wet – MLC Redmanol French Briar Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

This older MLC bent billiard is a turn of the 20th century pipe. According to Pipedia, (https://pipedia.org/wiki/M._Linkman_%26_Co) the initials stand for M. Linkman Company which was thought to mean Mary Linkman Company. They were a Chicago based company that produced both briars and meerschaums. The company was named for the mother of the same Linkman who branded pipes under that same name and then eventually became the Dr. Grabow pipe manufacturer with which we are familiar. Pipephil’s site gave a little more information at this link (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-l4.html). M. Linkman and Co. was established by Louis B. Linkman and August Fisher in 1898. The company closed down in the 1950s and the Dr Grabow branch was sold to Henry Leonard and Thomas Inc. There was also a note that early Linkman’s pipes were stamped MLC in an oval.

If you have followed this blog for a while you have come to know that I love really old pipes and this one fits into that category of pipes. It is stamped MLC in an oval over Redmanol over French Briar on the left side of the shank. There are no other stampings on the pipe. The band is brass and is etched with a pattern of vines and flower around the entire band. The band was a mess on the shank end. It was bent and dented and no longer round. It was loose on the shank and would need to be straightened out before it was reglued. It is a small bent billiard and definitely sporting the wrong stem. It should have had a Redmanol stem to go with the stamping on the shank of the bowl.

I have written a bit more about the MLC brand on several early blogs (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/11/12/an-interesting-the-nuvo-mlc-italian-briar-hidden-in-a-wdc-case/ https://rebornpipes.com/2017/08/17/restoring-a-sad-old-mlc-bent-billiard/).

Jeff took the photos that follow before started the cleanup. You can see from the photos the condition of the pipe. The bowl exterior was absolutely filthy. It is the first time I have seen the lava that usually is on the rim flow over the top and down the sides of the bowl. The lava on the outside edge of the bowl and the thick cake in the bowl made it hard to know what the condition of the rim edges. The incorrect stem and the condition of the pipe told me that it was someone’s favourite smoker and when the old stem broke or wore out a convenient replacement was stuck in the shank and it continued to be smoked. The next photos of the bowl, rim and the flow of lava down the outside of the bowl shows how filthy this pipe was before Jeff started his clean up. The bowl is scratched and nicked but even that damage is hard to assess given the condition of the pipe. If you look closely you can see the MLC oval on the next photo of the shank. Below that it reads Redmanol over  French Briar. You can see the tars that have built up on the shank and pushed the band toward the end of the shank. It really was a dirty pipe. The photo of the bottom of the bowl and shank show more of the worn condition of the briar.The next three photos show the condition of the end of the band. It was in rough shape. As the band was pushed off the shank end because of the tars the end that extended beyond the briar of the shank was bent and damaged.The last photo Jeff took showed the condition of the stem. I was not particularly concerned with the stem as I was planning on replacing it with a fitted stem. If I used it in the future I would clean it up.I reread the blogs on the MLC pipes that I had restored previously to refresh the information. Now I was ready to see what I could do with this old pipe. It is really nice working on clean pipes. I have done enough repairs recently that have required me to ream and clean them that I have a greater appreciation for how nice it is to have this done for me. Thanks Jeff for your work and the way it makes my part a bit easier. He worked his usual magic in cleaning up this messy pipe. I really wondered what would lie beneath all of the grime and tars. Jeff reamed it with a PipNet reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He spent quite a bit of time scrubbing the exterior of the bowl, rim cap and shank with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the build up. He rinsed it under running water. It took a lot of scrubbing to get it free of the tars but it worked well. He dried it off with a soft cloth. Once the grime was removed it was clear that the finish underneath was in rough shape. The briar was quite nice with a mix of straight and birdseye grain around the bowl and shank. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. Jeff had done a miracle in removing the thick cake, cleaning the lava on the rim and sides of the bowl. The inner edge was in pretty  decent shape as was the outer one. I was happy to see the condition. There was however a darkening on the rim top and all around the bowl coming down the sides about ¼ inch. At first I thought that it might have been left behind by a rim cap of some sort but there were no small nail holes in the briar on the sides of the bowl. I think that actually it is what is left behind by the greasy hands of the pipe man and the lava that had flowed down the bowl sides.He was also able to remove much of the grime around the band on the shank and leave the stamping undamaged.I removed the stem and carefully slid the band off the shank. I wanted to clean up the end of the shank with alcohol and sandpaper. I also want to smooth out the back edges of the band and see if I could make it smooth and useable once again. I heated the end of an awl/ice pick and pressed it against the damaged areas of the band. The brass was quite thin so it was really quite workable. I was able to remove all of the damaged areas but one that was a compressed area on the bottom side. It would be hidden on the underside of the shank once it was glued back in place.I scrubbed the shank end and the dark area with acetone to remove more of the grime that was on the surface of the briar. I was able to reduce quite a bit of the buildup around the top of the bowl and the rim top with this method. I sanded the end of the shank to smooth it out. I used a dental spatula to spread the all-purpose glue around the shank. I pressed the band back on the shank with the small damaged spot on the underside.I took a photo of the end of the shank to show that the band fit tight on the shank and was even with the shank end. You can see the damaged area on the underside of the shank on the right side of the photo.I looked through my can of stems because I remembered having a bent Redmanol stem that I had picked up somewhere along the way. Sure enough it was there. It was slightly larger in diameter than the shank of the pipe so it would need to be sanded to fit nicely on the shank. It also had a push stem on it that would need to be removed and replaced with a normal tenon. Both of those were relatively easy jobs. I was anxious to get moving on the stem so of course I forgot to take photos of the stem with the meerschaum push tenon. It was loose so I unscrewed it from the stem. I had a small threaded Delrin tenon with the threads that were close to the same and threaded it into the airway on the stem. It worked well so I unscrewed it and glued it in place in the stem. The photos below show the new tenon on the stem.The tenon fit well in the mortise. The fit against end of the shank was nice. I sanded it to remove the excess material and reduce the diameter of the stem to match the shank using 220 grit sandpaper. In the photos below it is getting close to a nice fit. What you can’t see in the photos is that the nice, rich, red colour of the Redmanol lightened with sanding to shades of blood orange. I could not start over so I decided to keep sanding until the fit was correct. At first I did not like the effect on the Redmanol and I was disappointed by the colour shift. Looking at the stem from the drilled airway before I put the tenon in place and the flat end of the stem it appeared that the red was solid all the way through the material so when the oranges and yellows started to show up I was a bit frustrated. Now as I look at it I have to say it is growing on me. It reminds of the Popsicles that we used to by when I was a kid. I stopped sanding the bowl and put the stem on the shank to get a couple of photos so I could look at it on the screen and get the effect. It is almost like flame… kind of a nice variation. It is interesting to see the fine red line between the band and the stem – the flat end still is an even red. I don’t quite understand it but I am resolved to live with it. I am going to stain the bowl so that should also add to the variations of colour on this old pipe.I decided to try to bleach out the darkening on the rim top and first ¼ inch of the bowl all the way around. I wiped it down with bleach on a cotton pad and left it on the dark area to do its work. It worked better on the left side than the right.I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain to try to blend in the dark rim stains. I applied the stain, flamed it and repeated the process. Once it dried I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on cotton pads to make it more transparent and let the grain shine through.  In the process some of the nicks in the briar showed up more clearly. I decided not to fill them in but to leave them as war wounds on this old timer. They tell a story that I wish the pipe could tell us. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads. I started polishing with 3200-4000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. I continued to polish with 6000-12000 grit pads and wiped it down after each pad. I hand buffed it with a soft cloth. The dark ring around the top of the bowl is still visible but less than before. The rim looks good. To further blend the darkened top portion of the bowl with the rest of the pipe I gave the bowl a contrast coat of Danish Oil Cherry Stain. I applied it by hand and rubbed it off and repeated the process to get a good smooth coat.I wiped the stain coat off and hand buffed the pipe lightly. The photos below show what the pipe is looking like at this point in the process. The right side still shows darker than the left at top edge of the bowl. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. After the final 12000 grit pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the briar. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The newly variegated Redmanol stem did not too bad with the old pipe. It shines like polished horn and the flow of the colours worked with the colours on the bowl. The way the colours shifted on the parts worked well together to present a beautiful pipe. The dark rim edge almost looks like the way meerschaum pipes were flumed with a dark edge. The pipe looks fresh and new. Later I will need to give it a bowl coating to protect the bowl inside as there are spidering cracks all around the briar. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. Thanks for looking.

 

The Rebirth of an Unmarked Horn


Blog by Steve Laug

When my brother sent me photos of this particular pipe I could not see what he saw in it. It was just ugly in my opinion. The shank was crooked, the plateau crown had been sanded slightly, the shank was cracked and missing a chunk of briar, the copper ferrule looked like it fit better under a sink than on the shank and the finish had warts in it all around the bowl. To top it off the stem was clunky, thick Lucite and had lots of divots and tooth marks. It did not look like it belonged at all. The entire pipe looked like a failed shop project to me – one that took its own direction as it was being made. He purchased it and took photos of it before he cleaned it up thinking I might be charmed by it as he was.The next photo from the top shows the bow in the shank. I figured that the drilling would be way off once I got it and took it apart. I was pretty certain this one was going to interesting to work on to see if I could get anything resembling a nice looking pipe out of the concoction that it was in the photos. Note also the thick cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava on the rim filling in the smoothed out plateau. It was hard to know at this point if there was damage to the inner edge of the rim because of the thick cake and lava. Only a thorough clean up would reveal the condition. The next three photos show the warts on the sides of the bowl. The finish was rough. It was hard to tell if these were fills or if the pipe had not been sanded smooth when it was originally finished. In the photos, they look like scratches but they are actually standing above the finish on the briar. Some of them have scratches around the edges on the surface of the bowl. As I looked at the horn, I had to admit there was something strangely alluring to the shape and it was growing on me. The copper fitting is not snug on the shank it rattles around and is only held in place by the stem. You can see the gap between the cap and the shank. The shank under the band is coated with grime and there is a dark oxidized buildup.When the stem is removed the cap falls off and reveals the damaged shank. You can see the crack in the shank end and up the side on the right side of the photo below. The tars and oils that have built up on the end of the shank and in the mortise are quite thick. In the second photo below you can see the missing piece of briar. The third photo is a close up of the shank end. It shows the damage clearly as well as thick tars on the shank  under the cap. The stem is Lucite and in rough condition. It is the thick kind of stem that came out when Lucite first came on the market. It thick and poorly shaped. There are major dents in the surface and many tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem at the button. I do not intend to reuse the stem as it is not my kind of stem. I will replace it with a vulcanite stem and fit it to the shank. Jeff did his usual thorough clean up even on this ugly, old pipe. He reamed it with a PipNet reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl and shank with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed it under running water. He scrubbed the rim on the bowl to clean out the lava on the plateau. It took much scrubbing to get it free of the tars. He dried it off with a soft cloth. The bowl itself was very light weight. It is a good looking piece of briar and has flame grain all around the bowl and shank with some birdseye on the shank top and bottom. He cleaned up the Lucite stem with the oil soap as well and was able to remove much of the debris. There were tooth marks and tooth chatter on both sides of the stem. The freehand style stem had a tapered tenon that sat tightly in the copper end cap. The copper cap was loose and fell off when the stem was removed from the pipe. I spent time turning the pipe over to see if I could find any identifying stamping that would help me know who made it and when it was made. There was nothing there. It was an unstamped pipe by an unknown maker at an unspecified point in time. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. Jeff did a great job on the rim top and the bowl. The inner edge of the rim was in good condition with little damage. There was still a little lava on the back side of the rim top that would need to be taken care of.The Lucite stem was clean but looking at it close up I knew that I did not want to keep the stem. I would need to go through my can of stems to find one that would work on this pipe.I removed the stem and the end cap and looked closely at the damage to the end of the shank. Once Jeff had cleaned it up the damage was really clear. The end of the shank had deteriorated and chunks of briar were missing. The surface of the shank end was rough and damaged. There was a large crack on the right side near the underside going from the shank end up the shank for ½ inch. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to remove the damaged shank end. I evened up the end of the shank and took off all of the compromised briar. I cleaned up the end so that a regular stem would work with it. I smoothed out the inside of the mortise. During this cleanup is when I discovered that the mortise and the airway in the shank were drilled at an angle. The airway was high in the end of the mortise and came out at the bottom of the bowl. The mortise itself curved and was poorly drilled in the shank. I cleaned up the briar that had been under the copper band. The briar was black with the colour going deep in the briar. I sanded it smooth and used a microdrill bit to drill a pin hole at the end of the crack to stop it from spreading further. I filled in the hole and the crack with clear super glue and let it cure.When the glue repair had dried, I sanded it smooth and pressure fit a nickel band over the end of the shank. I heated the band with a lighter to expand it and pressed the shank end and band so that the band went up the shank to cover the crack and the repair. I think that the band was a far better look for the pipe than the copper shank cap had been. I scrubbed the plateau top with a brass bristle tire brush to remove the remaining lava in the crevices of the surface. I worked on it until the rim top was clean.I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the warts from the surface and smooth out the scratches and dents. I wanted the surface to be smooth the way it should have been when the pipe was made. I worked on it until it was smooth to the touch. When I finished I washed the surface of the bowl and shank with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the last of the dust and the remaining finish from the briar. I buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond to polish it a bit and see where I needed to do some work before the final buff. I hand polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each buffing pad. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth after the 12000 grit pad. The pictures below show the progress of the polishing on the briar. I used a black Sharpie Pen to colour in the crevices on the plateau top. I wanted the smooth high spots to shine through the deep black in the grooves. The contrast would look really good once the pipe was given a finish coat of stain and was buffed and waxed.I stained the briar with a Danish Oil Cherry stain to highlight the red colours in the briar and bring about a contrast with straight grain. I stained the plateau as well to give red hues to the high spots and contrast with the black of the crevices on the top. I hand buffed the bowl with a soft cotton cloth and then with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine. The bowl looks really good and the grain stands out. The straight grain all around the bowl sides looks really good. I chose a vulcanite saddle stem for the replacement for the Lucite stem. I knew it would be a bit of work to get things lined up because of the drilling in the shank. I measured the angles in the shank and figured I would need to bend the tenon at the angle shown in the photo. I heated the tenon and put it in the shank while it was still pliable and set the angle to match the angle of the mortise. The photo below shows the angle on the tenon. Bent at that angle the stem sits tight against the mortise. It gives you a good idea of the how poorly drilled the pipe was and what measures I had to take to line things up. I gave the tenon a coat of clear fingernail polish to make it fit snug in the mortise and let it dry. I roughened it up with the edge of a needle file to give it a bite in the shank. I tried the fit and all was well.I sanded the stem surfaces with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the light oxidation and the tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem. I worked on it until it was black and there was no remnant of oxidation or tooth marks.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad to give traction to the next pad and also bring a little life to the vulcanite stem. After the final pad I gave it a last coat of the oil and set it aside to dry. I left the tenon with a few ridges to add bite to the inside of the mortise and hold it firmly in place. Some oxidation showed up on the top side of the stem near the saddle in the photos above so I worked it over in that area once again. When I finished I buffed the pipe on the wheel using Blue Diamond Polish and worked over the stem and bowl to remove any remaining scratches. I buffed the nickel band to give it a shine. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The warts and nicks that I had sanded out were gone and the grain just popped on this old pipe. The new stem, with the angled tenon brought things into line and to me the pipe looked much better. The black of the polished vulcanite and the polished briar work well together to present a beautiful pipe. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It really is a beauty. Thanks for looking.