Tag Archives: Frankenpipes

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS – Is this pipe repairable?


Blog by Steve Laug

In this next installment of the Answers to Questions blogs, I want to address a question that comes to me via email, the contact button on the blog or through Facebook. I receive photos and descriptions of pipes in a variety of conditions asking if I think the pipe is repairable. I have learned over time that the question has a variety of possible answers. I think that questioner thinks it will be a yes or no question. Really, I suppose that is what they want to hear. Yes I think it can be repaired or No, it cannot be repaired. Often when I answer yes, they want me to do the work, and sometimes when I answer, no they want to send it me to “dispose” of properly. But really the question is not a yes or no question. Every pipe gives multiple options for how to proceed.

I think the right question to ask is, “How badly do you want to keep this pipe?” or “How much work are you willing to put into this pipe?” These questions determine what a person will do and what lengths they will go to in order to keep or return the pipe to smokable condition. If the question is merely a simple yes or no then many pipes will end up in the tinderbox destined for the fire. However, if the question is as I have spelled it out above then the answer will lead to the next steps of restoration. Let’s talk about some of the pipes that have come across my desk or my email address that can illustrate this variation on the question.

A Beautiful older Peterson 999 with a huge burned out hole in the lower left side of the bowl. Many would have simply said good-bye to this old friend because you could put your index finger through the side of the bowl. It appeared to be a goner. When I looked at it I remembered an old Blatter and Blatter pipe that I had picked up on eBay that had a burn out on the back side of the bowl. I had talked to the shop in Montreal and they had me send it back to them. They drilled out the burned out area until they had solid briar. Then they cut a chunk of new briar and fit it into the drilled out hole. They glued it in place and once it had set, they rusticated the patch to match the rest of the bowl. They gave the inside of the bowl a bowl coating to protect it until a cake had formed and sent it back to me. I have had that pipe for over 20 years now and it is still going strong. You would be hard pressed to find the repaired area.

With that living memory I said yes to the burned out Peterson. In days past, I would have walked away and left it for firewood but I had learned. I drilled out the burned out area with a drill bit until the surrounding briar was solid. I cut a plug from a piece of briar and adjusted it to fit into the hole. I glued it in place and rusticated the area around the plug and lower part of the bowl until it blended in well. I stained the lower half of the bowl with a dark brown stain and the upper half with a medium brown stain. The finished exterior looked very good. I coated the inside of the bowl with bowl coating to protect it. The fellow still smokes the pipe I believe and the repair has held up well. Here is the link to the blog: https://rebornpipes.com/2014/02/06/plugging-a-burnout-on-a-petersons-irish-whiskey-999/

You can see from that example that a simple yes or no question would have probably sacrificed what turned out to be a repairable bowl. The question was whether I wanted to take the time and invest the work to make it smokable again. In this case the invested work was worth the results in my opinion.

An Ardor Urano Fancy with a ½ inch deep chunk broken out of the right side edge of the rim. This is one that caught my eye on Ebay. Many would have simply passed it up and said it was not worth repairing. The large broken out chunk of briar from the back right side of the bowl near the top and the general wear and tear on the bowl would have easily made it a pass. But to me something about the rugged rustication and the blue of the shank end and stem just caught my eye and made me want to give it a try. So I put in the only bid on the pipe – no surprise there and picked it up for a decent price. This was a pipe that would go in my collection and not be sold and it was a pipe that would provide more schooling for me in the art of pipe repair.

I had it shipped to Idaho and my brother cleaned it up for me. When it finally came to Canada I was excited to see what could be done with it. I cleaned out the damaged area with alcohol and cotton swabs until the surface was clear. I smoothed out the edges of the break to make fitting a new piece of briar a little easier. I cut a piece of briar from the side of one of my sacrificial briar bowls that I keep just for this purpose. I shaped the piece of briar with my Dremel and a sanding drum until I had it close to fitting. I used the Dremel to give the inner edge a bit of a curve that would match the wall of the pipe around it. Once I was close I used a file and 80 grit sandpaper to bring to the size that I could press it into the damaged area. I coated the edges with epoxy and pressed the chunk in place. I filled in around the patch with clear super glue to ensure that the seal was tight. I set it aside to cure.

The next day I used the Dremel with various burrs to rusticate the repaired area to match the surround bowl sides. There was an uneven smooth area around the rim top so I left that smooth on the repair as well. Once the rustication was complete and I was satisfied with the match I washed the area down with a cotton pad and alcohol. I mixed a batch of JB Weld and coated the wall of the repaired area. Once it dried I used the Dremel and sanding drum to carefully smooth out the inside of the bowl. I gave it a thick coat of pipe mud and let it dry. I stained it with a dark brown aniline stain and washed it lightly with alcohol to blend it in. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I have had the pipe now for almost a year and it smokes really well and looks pretty good for a repair. Here is a link to the full blog: (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/02/26/with-just-a-little-work-i-now-have-a-dr-ardor-urano-fantasy-apple/) The next three examples show very different repairs and issues with old pipes that I have dealt with. I decided to use two of them as examples in this blog. https://rebornpipes.com/2016/09/03/what-to-do-with-a-cracked-bowl-options-for-their-repair/. The first was cut off and the job was done very poorly. It had originally been a GBD 9438 in a previous life and someone had cut off the entire top half of the bowl. They had restained the bowl but had not sanded it so there were saw marks and file marks and a very rough look to the pipe. This is another pipe that could easily have been relegated to the dust bin. My brother Jeff picked it up in a bunch of pipe from a fellow on Ebay who called himself a refurbisher. This pipe came as one that had been restored. It had a lot of problems. Not only had he cut the bowl off he had also used a Dremel and took it straight down the bowl leaving a mess in the bottom of the bowl. I figured that maybe there was something redeemable in the pipe. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to reshape the top and round it over giving some form to the damaged bowl. I decided to round it over leaving a rounded top edge to the rim. It took a lot of sanding and shaping but I think in the end I had a smokable pipe with a bit of charm that previously had been severely lacking. You be the judge. Was it worth the effort to do the work on the bowl?

The second pipe in the lot was an Alpha freehand rusticated shape that someone had done the same hack job to the bowl was very short and held a mere thimble full of tobacco. It had thick walls on the portion of the bowl that was left so I decided to experiment. If the experiment did not work there would be no loss. I had a bowl with the shank missing and damage to the bottom side that could easily be salvaged and the two parts connected to make a new pipe. I cut off the damaged (cracked) bottom of the sacrificial bowl in preparation for the new union. I drill small holes in the top of the bowl and the base that matched each other and cut some stainless pins that would join the two parts. I glued the pins in the base and coated the surface of each part with epoxy and pressed them together until the surfaces joined. I filled in the gaps and crevices joining the two bowls with briar dust and super glue. Once everything had set I reshaped the bowl so that the joint was less visible and then rusticated the new top half to match the base. I coated the inside of the bowl sealing the area where they joined with JB Weld and when dry sanded it out with my Dremel leaving the JB Weld only in the joint. I coated the bowl with a bowl coating of sour cream and charcoal powder. I restained the bowl with a dark brown stain. Once the pipe was finished I had an interesting chimney pipe that would give many more years of service. Was this worth it? To me it was worth the education for me. GBD Made Square Shank Poor Richards Pipe Shop with a lot of cracks around the bowl. This one was a challenge that Charles Lemon of Dad’s Pipes Blog and I took on together. We were experimenting with the question, “When was a pipe no longer redeemable.” https://rebornpipes.com/2016/03/06/a-humpty-dumpty-cross-canada-project-could-this-poor-richards-select-square-shank-billiard-9489-ever-be-whole-again/. The pipe was one my brother had picked up that was stemless. The bowl was a mess with cracks on all sides of the bowl. Charles and I had been chatting on Skype about repairing pipes and I told him about it and we decided to make it a joint effort. Charles was experimenting with using rods to stitch a cracked bowl back together again and this was just the one to do that on. He drilled angled holes on each side of the crack and pushed a rod through. The angles of each set of holes was drilled in opposition to the previous one so that it acted to pull the crack together. The next series of photos show the process of stitching the bowl together, filling in the holes and refinishing the bowl. Putting the shank back on a broken LHS Park Lane DeLuxe — Lovat 12. The next one was a fun pipe to work on. It was one that I would have thrown in the bin for parts in the past. The shank was completely broken off leaving a short section on the bowl. I liked the look of the Cumberland stem and the Lovat is one of my favourite shapes so I figured it was worth a try. You can read the details on the blog here: https://rebornpipes.com/2015/09/29/repairing-a-broken-shank-on-an-lhs-park-lane-de-luxe-lovat-12/ I cleaned up the broken ends of the shank and bowl and used a brass tube to insert, glue and bind the two parts together. I filled in the gaps in the crack with clear super glue and briar dust to make things smooth. The crack virtually disappeared into the grain once I stained the pipe with a dark brown stain. The finished pipe is shown in the last two photos. The repair has held up for several years now without any sign of the joint failing. Crafting a Frankenpipe from a cut off Brebbia Lido Bowl and a piece of bamboo. The next example is a Brebbia Lido that my brother picked up on one of his trips. Someone had glued a stem in the shank and the shank itself had been cut off crooked so the entire pipe curved toward the right. The short shank also did not work well with the stem that had been put on the bowl. We removed the stem during the cleanup process and cleaned off the glue and crud in the shank. It looked like another broken pipe but I thought that the shank had enough length that a piece of shank could be added. I checked out the look with a piece of briar, acrylic and bamboo. The bamboo worked for me the best. I used a topping board to square up the shank end on the Lido and both ends of the piece of bamboo. When I put the two together the junction was smooth and tight. I joined the bamboo to the shank of the pipe using a piece of Delrin tenon that I glued into the shank first and then into the bamboo. I filled in the small gaps around the joint with super glue to seal it tight. Once it had cured, I glued a drilled out acrylic button on the end of the bamboo to keep it from fraying or splitting when the stem was in put in and taken out repeatedly. The longer stem worked well with the rustication and the bamboo the contrast of finishes and colours made the pipe a beautiful addition to my rack. What had been a throwaway was rescued and given a new look. It is now a pipe that I enjoy smoking. If you wish to read more about the process, I have included the link to the blog on the restoration of the pipe. https://rebornpipes.com/2017/10/09/another-frankenpipe-salvaging-a-lido-root-briar-dublin-bowl/

Crafting another Frankenpipe from a broken shanked apple, a piece of briar and a metal tube. The final example is another broken shanked apple. It was a no name pipe with a nice shape on the bowl and a jagged broken shank. I decided to take a totally different tack on this one. I had an old metal flashlight tube that had a cross hatch pattern on the metal. It was an open tube. I had a sacrificial pipe that had a long shank that I cut off and used to make this more of a Lovat style apple. I wanted a pretty indestructible pipe to use while I was working in the yard or the garden. I cut off the broken shank on the apple and topped it to square it up. I turned the other shank that I was using so that it would fit into the metal tube and allow me to use the mortise for a new shorter stem. I joined the bowl and the shank with a piece of stainless tubing. I scored the tubing and epoxied it in the bowl end first then added the shank end to it. Once it cured I used a file to step down the end of the shank on the bowl end so that the tube would fit closer to the bowl staggering the new joint and giving it more stability. I pressed the metal tube on the shank piece until the end was flush with the briar of the bowl. I filled in the gaps with clear super glue to make the transition seamless. I wanted the transition between the metal and the stem to be seamless so I stepped down the end of the stem just past the tenon to sit inside the metal tube. I restained the bowl and polished the vulcanite and the pipe was ready to smoke and it was pretty indestructible. This is yet another example of the lengths that I will go to salvage a pipe that I like or that I see promise in. Here is the link to the blog if you would like to read about the process in detail. https://rebornpipes.com/2015/02/07/pipe-resurrection-from-a-broken-shank-to-another-frankenpipe/

Looking at the various examples above of pipes that have crossed my worktable you can see how I chose to answer the question, “How badly do you want to keep this pipe?” or “How much work are you willing to put into this pipe?” In each case, my decision was that the pipe was worth saving and investing time in whether it was for the sake of repairing a beautiful old pipe or for learning new skills that I could use on other pipes that came to my desk. The decision was not quick or foolish it was made with full awareness of the extent to which I would have to go to bring the pipe back to useable condition. With that I bring this Answers to Questions blog to a close. I hope that this installment has been helpful to you. Have fun crafting what you can out of the broken pieces of the pipes that come your way. Think hard before you throw the pipe in the fire and look beyond the pieces and see if you can imagine a way to make it work. Thanks for reading.

Advertisements

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.

Cleaning up an Old Frankpipe Meerschaum


Blog by Steve Laug

I don’t know if you agree with me or for that matter do I really care, as to me there is something that is attractive about the sheer ugliness of this old pipe. I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder but truly this one called my name. My brother Jeff saw it on eBay and sent me the link. Both of us were drawn to its uniqueness. You have to admit that it is ugly but, come on, don’t you think it has some charm.frank1Once it arrived in Idaho my brother took some photos of the pipe. You can see how it was cobbed together out of a variety of old parts. The acorn shaped meerschaum bowl is scarred with the marks of a long hard life. There is a patina to the bowl that covers over and flows into the gouges and scars of the stone. The pointed meerschaum shank that terminates under the bowl appears to be glued onto the bowl to provide and entrance for the metal shank. I am still trying to figure out where that piece of metal came from. It is stepped down and cut at an angle before someone epoxied it onto the meerschaum shank. Inside of the metal there is a centered tube that runs to the bottom of the bowl. Carved down by hand and inserted into the end of the metal shank/mortise is a piece of Cherrywood branch that is split on the left side in the above photo. A one inch piece of horn is glued to the top of the carved branch and a vulcanite stem is screwed into the horn extension.

My brother took a series of photos of the bowl and shank contraption to show how it is cobbed together. Too me some of the charm of this pipe can be seen in the next series of photos. You can see the gouges in the bowl and the abundance of epoxy and glue that flows out of the joints in the shank and the metal tenon. It makes you wonder why the crafter of this Frankenpipe could not wipe the excess glue off the metal and the meerschaum. It is rock hard at this point in the pipe’s life. You can also see the mottled patina that has developed over time on the surface of the bowl.frank2 frank3 frank4It appears that the bowl was carved to receive a metal capped cup that is glued into the meerschaum bowl. At first glance it seemed that the cup filled the entire interior of the bowl. However, once I inspected the pipe firsthand the cup covered the rim and extended about ¼ inch into the bowl. The interior walls below the metal appear to be meerschaum.frank5 frank6 frank7The last pair of photos my brother sent shows the split in the side of the Cherrywood extension. It runs the length of the insert. You can also see the hand carved nature of the extension. It is carved poorly in terms of the fit in the mortise and also the fit against the horn extension on the other end. There is a large gap in the fit but the horn piece is glued solidly on the wooden extension and I think removing it would allow the wood to fall apart. The tenon end of the wood is notched to accommodate the tube that sits on the bottom half of the mortise and extends to the bottom of the bowl. Even that point in the carved wood is splintering and looks very tenuous.frank8From the photos it looked like I had my work cut out for me. This “charming” and ugly old meerschaum Frankenpipe deserved at least another chance at life. It seemed like just the kind of challenge that would break up my ongoing cleaning and restoration of pipes. I was looking forward to its arrival in Vancouver. My brother did a cursory clean up on the pipe because he did not want to damage any of the parts.

Last evening I decided I was in the mood to work on this monstrosity. I took it to the work table and filled in the gap between the horn and the Cherrywood extension with some all-purpose white glue. I was in a rust to get started so I forgot to take photos before I put the glue in place. I stopped the process long enough to take some photos before I went any further in the cleanup.frank9 frank10 frank11 frank12I used an awl to push the white glue into the gap between the parts of the extension and fill in the crooked looking space. The glue would dry clear and give the look of a space between the horn and the wood. At this point I had no idea if the stem would come off or if it too had been glued in place on the shank. I took a photo of the parts of the pipe at this point in my disassembly.frank13I took a close up photo of the rim cap and bowl. The bowl had been reamed by my brother and the cap wiped clean. I tried to suck air through the metal shank and found that air came out on the left side at the glued joint but it did not come out of the bowl. I plugged the left side joint with my hand and tried again. No such luck. The airway into the bowl was non-operative.frank14I took some close up photos of the vulcanite stem. There were two small tooth marks – one on the top and bottom sides of the stem near the button. They are barely visible in the photos below. Otherwise the stem was lightly oxidized.frank15I decided to see how far the metal bowl insert extended into the meerschaum. I was wondering if it was not like a calabash cup. I scraped out the last of the cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and then sanded it with a rolled piece of 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around my finger. Once I had sanded a bit and removed the light cake that was still on the inner edge of the metal I could see that it extended into the bowl only about ¼ inch and that the rest of the bowl was meerschaum. The third photo below shows the extent of the metal cap. The lower edge of the cap is pitted and worn but it has been sanded smooth.frank16 frank17Once I had the bowl reamed and cleaned I used a small drill bit to open the end of the metal tube in the bottom of the bowl. I pushed a piece of wire through the airway to open it up. The small tube was opened and I was able to blow air through the bowl.

I repaired the left side of the meerschaum shank joint to the bowl with clear super glue to seal off the opening that let air escape. I used a clear super glue to fill in the crack on the side of the wooden shank extension and then used white glue to fill in the gaps. I also filled in the joint between the wood and the horn extension on the shank. I gave it a thick coat of white glue, wiped off the excess glue with a dental spatula and set it aside to dry.frank18Once the glue had dried I used a small file to smooth out the joint between the two parts of the shank extension and made the transition smooth. While I was working on it I found out that the stem was not glued in place so I unscrewed it from extension making it easier to work on the repaired shank. I sanded the repairs to the wood and the connection to the horn with 220 grit sandpaper until it was smooth to the touch. I also used the file and sandpaper to clean up the notched end of the tenon. I stabilized the exterior of the tenon wood at that point with some clear super glue and let it dry.frank19Once the glue had dried on the tenon I cleaned out the interior of the stem and extension with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol.frank20I sanded the stem to remove the tooth marks and the oxidation. I reshaped the button at the same time with 220 grit sandpaper. Notice the stamped K on the underside of the stem near the saddle. I have no idea what that signifies but I am guessing came from one of the donor pipes that gave its life to become this one.frank21I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper until I had removed the oxidation and cleaned up the button edges. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil to see whether there were any stubborn spots of oxidation that needed more attention. I sanded the Cherrywood insert and the horn insert to finish smoothing them out. I polished the stem and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem and horn down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads and gave it a final coat of oil after the last set. I set the stem aside to let the oil dry.frank22 frank23 frank24I polished the meerschaum and the metal with the same grits of micromesh sanding pads from 1500-12000 to raise a shine on the mottled and marked old bowl. The shine came back and with it all the marks of its age and its story seemed to soften.frank25I am sure that by now some of you are thinking I spent too much time bringing this ugly duckling back to life but I had a good time doing so. I put the finishing touches on the pipe before taking the final photos. I gave the tenon end on the Cherrywood shank a light coating of clear fingernail polish to protect the wood and ensure a snug fit in the metal mortise. I buffed the shank and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to raise a shine and gave the whole shank several coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the shank and stem with a clean buffing pad to protect the finished parts. I buffed the bowl and metal shank with the Blue Diamond polish and gave it a buff with a clean pad. I hand buffed the whole pipe with a microfibre cloth. The photos below show the finished pipe. When restoring these old pipes it is always a fine balance between restoration and going too far. On this one I have left the nicks and dents and even some of the overflow of epoxy so it can speak to the history of the pipe. I have only one wish regarding this old pipe – that it could speak even for a few moments and tell its story and the passion of the crafter of this Frankenpipe. Thanks for walking with me on the journey of its restoration.frank26 frank27 frank28 frank29 frank30 frank31 frank32 frank33

Yet Another Frankenpipe – A pipe made from assorted pieces


Frankenpipes are born out of having no more pipes in the refurb box to work on. I have many in transit at the moment but none with which to sit and unwind. That always is a recipe for me to dig in the boxes of parts and see what I can come up with to keep the hands busy. The pipe that follows was born of fiddling with parts in my parts box. The part I started with was an old bowl that I received in a gift box recently that did not have a pipe to go with it. It was a pressure fit bowl that obviously sat on a base of some kind of system pipe. I searched the Metal Pipes website to see if I could find out any information but did not find any likely candidates for this mystery bowl. It had some nice grain on it so it seemed like a shame to just let it sit in the box and wait for a potential pipe for it. I also I had a cut off shank piece that I had made for another purpose, a stem that fit the shank nicely and a block of briar that was too tiny for a pipe. The small block is one that I have been scavenging pieces off of to make plugs for burnout repairs. As I looked at the pieces I had an idea for putting them together into an interesting pipe that had kind of art deco feel to it. Now it was time to bring the pipe together and actualize my vision. IMG_8072 I measured out the drilling areas for the block. I needed to drill the airway large enough to insert the briar shank. I would use the Missouri Meerschaum concept of inserting the shank into the briar block. I started by drilling the first hole in the end of the block. I drilled the mortise area first. I did this in stages as it needed to be big enough for the shank piece to be pressure fit into place. Afterward I drilled the rest of the airway in the block. I decided to drill it all the way through to the other side of the block so that I could put in a funky plug on the front end. I looked around for what I would use and had several ideas. Time would tell which I would choose in the end. IMG_8069 I moved through several drill bits until the bit that was the size of the shank piece. I drilled it deep enough to inset the shank quite deep in the hole. IMG_8070 I marked the airway exit on the top of the block with a permanent marker and drew a line to show the track of the airway. I marked my drill bit to the depth of the top of the airway and drilled the hole in the top of the block. I wanted the hole to be the size of the nipple on the bottom of the bowl so that it would pressure fit into the hole. I wanted the hole to go through to the top of the airway so that the nipple on the bowl would sit on top and create good airflow from bowl to stem. IMG_8071 I pressure fit the bowl in the top of the block and the shank in the end of the block for the next two photos. I wanted to see if the parts all fit together well. I gave the shank a slight angle upward and would later bend the stem if the look was correct. Everything worked well at this point. For the plug on the end of the block I decided to do something simple. I wanted a plug that would be like a coloured dot on the end of the base. I cut off a piece of knitting needle and inserted it in the airway at the end of the block that is not showing at this point. I glued it in place and used the Dremel to take the overage back flush with the block. IMG_8073 IMG_8074 The height of the block was too much so I wanted to cut it in half. I do not have power tools to do that kind of thing so a bit of sweat equity and a small hack saw did the job. I sliced off the bottom half of the block to be used in making bowl plugs at a later date and now the height was more suitable to this little sitter. IMG_8078 I glued the shank into place in the block with epoxy and angled it the way I wanted it to be when I finished the work on the base. IMG_8079 IMG_8080 IMG_8081 IMG_8082 I used the Dremel and a sanding drum to begin to shape the block into a base for the pipe. I wanted a slope upward to the bowl – the sides would also slope upward. My idea was to have the bowl sitting on top of a volcano like base. IMG_8088 IMG_8089 It took a lot of sanding to get the shape even close to what I had envisioned and in the process I ran into my first problem. The joint of the block and the shank could not be sanded smooth or the walls would be too thin and the shank would break too easily. I probably should have used a Delrin tenon to connect the two parts but as usual looking back is not overly helpful. So I had to improvise with this one. I had a small brass pressure fitting that would look kind of interesting on this little Frankenpipe so I worked the joint area to accommodate the brass fitting. The photos below show the pipe taking shape with the brass band high on the shank. (At the time of these photos I had not yet glued the band on the shank.) IMG_8090 IMG_8091 IMG_8092 IMG_8093 I filled in the openings around the edges of the fitting where the shank joined the block with briar dust and wood glue packed into place with a dental pick. I sanded the ridges on the fitting with 150 grit sandpaper to remove them. I would have to do more work on the look of the band as I worked out the details later. I took the following photos after I had done more shaping of the base and glued the band in place. While the band is not beautiful it certainly strengthens the joint on the shank of the pipe and makes up for my lack of planning! IMG_8094 IMG_8098 The photo below shows the base with the bowl removed. You can get a clear picture of the base without the bowl and how the bowl looks from the bottom. The hole in the base is the same size as the nipple on the bowl. IMG_8099 I sanded it for another hour before calling it a night and then wiped it down with some light olive oil to get an idea where the scratches were that I needed to do more work on and also to see the grain. The next four photos show the pipe at this point in the process. There is still more sanding to do on the base and shank as well as some minor shaping. The idea though is clear – and the pipe is smokeable. The draw is very good and there are no leaks around the joint where the bowl presses into the base. So far so good. IMG_8100 IMG_8103 IMG_8104 IMG_8106 I set up a heat gun and bent the stem over the rounded handle of the heat gun to get a slight bend in it. I set the bend with cool water. With the bend the pipe is a sitter. The bend pulls the weight backward and the pip sits nicely on the button and the flat bottom of the base. IMG_8108 IMG_8110 IMG_8111 I did quite a bit more sanding and shaping of the base with 150 and 220 grit sandpaper. Once I had the shape to where I wanted it I sanded it with medium and fine grit sanding sponges. I gave the bowl and shank a wipe down with a cloth that was dampened with olive oil. Other than that the bowl and shank are not stained. IMG_8118 IMG_8119 IMG_8120 IMG_8126 While the shaping was finished there was still a lot of sanding to do to remove the scratches that remain in the briar. I also want to do some sanding on the band to remove scratches and polish it as well. The vulcanite stem also needs sanding and polishing. I took the pipe apart and sanded all the pieces with micromesh sanding pads. I sanded all of them with 1500-2400 grit pads and then finished sanding them with a 6000 grit pad. I buffed the parts with red Tripoli and then White Diamond and gave each part of the bowl and base multiple coats of carnauba wax. IMG_8127 I sanded the stem with a fine grit sanding sponge and then with the various grits of micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I buffed the stem with White Diamond, rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil and finished by giving it a buff with carnauba wax. IMG_8128 IMG_8129 IMG_8130 I sanded the brass band with the micromesh pads to polish it as well. When I had finished I gave the pipe a final buff with White Diamond and then applied carnauba wax to each part. I buffed them with a soft flannel buff to finish the shine. IMG_8132 IMG_8133 IMG_8134 IMG_8135 The final photo is of the front of the pipe. The knitting needle plug that I used is a bright reddish orange circle that sits at the base of the pipe on the front. The colour of the pipe is the red of the previous four finished photos. The last photo was taken with my cell phone and is a bit washed out. photo 2