Tag Archives: Henley Pipes made by Stanwell

A Black Sea Beach Pipe Project: The Third Stanwell Henley Special, Made in Denmark 57 Chimney


Blog by Dal Stanton

This Stanwell Henley Special Chimney is the last of the 3 Stanwell Henley Specials that I obtained off the eBay auction block.  Jim saw the Henley on the online ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’ and he commissioned the Oval Shank Billiard that I restored some time ago (see LINK) pictured in the middle below.  I had also taken notice of the solid craftsmanship of these 3 Danish made pipes, so I just restored the second, the Blasted Saddle Stem Billiard and put it in the Store to also benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria.   Then, I’ve claimed the third, a Chimney, to keep in my personal collection.  But I’ve thrown down the gauntlet on the Henley Chimney – I’ve developed a tradition of restoring a pipe in my personal ‘Help Me!’ basket collection to take with me to the beach on the Black Sea coast where my wife and I enjoy our summer holiday😊.

To review what I know about this Stanwell Henley line, I start with the seller’s information on eBay:

This auction is for three vintage Stanwell, Henley Line estate pipes from the 1950’s-60’s era. All are in good pre-owned condition. The stems are primarily free from teeth marks. The stems do have some fading. All of the stems fit snug and the wooden bowls are free from outstanding blemishes. As seen from top to bottom, the first pipe reads Henley Special #57, the second and third read Henley Special without any numbers seen. All of the pipes read Made in Denmark.

Here are the three Stanwell Henley Specials as I saw them on the eBay auction block.Pictured are the first and second Henley Specials after each was restored are pictured below. The transformation in these beautiful Danish pipes is unbelievable! As I expressed in the previous Stanwell Henley Special restorations, since I started collecting and restoring pipes, I’ve grown in my appreciation for Danish made pipes.  They tend to be stout, well-made pipes.  In my research on the Henley pipes, I have found no conclusive information dating them, but anecdotal information and a the feel of these pipes, I’m confident placing them in the 1950s and 60s. Pipedia’s article on Stanwell pipes simply places the Henley Special line in the list of Stanwell second brands.  The Chimney bound for my collection is identical with what Pipephil.eu provided.   It shows a Henley Chimney with the Fishtail stem slightly bent, along with the distinctive characteristic of a bulging midsection, which attracted me to this pipe!  The difference with the Pipephil listing is that it is blasted – nice.  It also shows an ‘H’ stem stamping.  The Chimney now on my worktable has no stamping on the stem – or it has worn off over time.The dating of the Henleys and this Chimney is elusive.  The only information I found in my initial research that gave any reference to dating isn’t conclusive. I found the following picture on Google images but the link to pipesmokersforum.com.  “Who made this pipe?”   I went to the pipesmokersforum site and searched ‘Henley’ and no reference or article emerged.  Having added this discussion to my research would have been helpful!  The picture I found puts a question mark in the late 50s.  Added to this the eBay seller’s description placing the pipes in the 50s or 60s and I do not know where this information originates.  Even though this information is anecdotal, the dating seems accurate to me based upon the appearance, craftmanship and feel of these pipes. I really like the Chimney stacked shape with a very nice feel in the hand.  I’m attracted to the tall Chimney and the interesting bulging of the bowl about midway.  The other thing that I like is the unique, pinched saddle fishtail stem.  Coupled with the tall bowl, the fishtail gives the pipe an overall sleekness – I like it a lot!

The dimensions of the Henley Chimney are: Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 3/16 inches, Rim width: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber width: 13/16 inches, Chamber depth: 2 inches. With the third Stanwell Henley Special Chimney on the worktable, I take some pictures to get a closer look. Of the 3 Stanwell Henleys I acquired, the nomenclature on this pipe is the clearest.  The left shank flank is stamped in cursive ‘Henley’ [over] SPECIAL.  The right shank side is stamped, MADE IN DENMARK [over] 57.  I assume this to be the shape number.The general condition of the Henley Chimney is good.  The chamber has thick cake buildup – but not has heavy as the other Henleys.  The rim has caked gunk and the smooth briar surface has grime and dirt and needs cleaning.  The one aspect of the stummel that is strange,  are the dark areas on the upper and lower shank.  These spots look like they’ve been scorched, but a shank usually isn’t the source of high temperatures.  I’ll have to wait to see what the cleaning does with these spots.  I take a few pictures to show what I see.The Pinched Saddle Fishtail stem has oxidation and some tooth compression – mainly on the lower bit.  To begin the restoration of the Stanwell Henley Special Chimney, I add it to a bath of Before & After Deoxidizer along with other pipes in the queue to deal with the oxidation in the vulcanite stem.  To keep the Deoxidizer as clean as possible, I first clean the airway using pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%.I then put the stem in the bath and allow it to soak for several hours.When I fish out the Pinched Fishtail stem, I run another pipe cleaner dipped in alcohol through the stem to clear away the excess Deoxidizer.  I then wipe down the stem with a cotton pad also wet with isopropyl 95% to remove the raised oxidation.  The B&A Deoxidizer does a good job.To begin the process of revitalizing the stem, I apply a coat of paraffin oil and rub it into the vulcanite.  I set the stem aside for the oil to absorb.Turning back to the stummel, I begin the cleaning process by reaming the chamber.  I take a starting picture and the last unsmoked baccy is seen on the floor of the chamber. Like the other Henleys, this one has thick cake.  I’m wondering if this Henley will have as much heating damage as the Blasted Saddle Stem Billiard I just restored.  I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit to ream starting with the smallest blade head.  The cake is hard, but the blade eventually works through.  I then use 2 more of the blade heads and then switch to the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to do the fine tuning by scraping the chamber walls.  Finally, after wrapping a piece of 240 grit paper around a Sharpie Pen, I sand the chamber walls.  Then, after wiping the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%, I inspect the chamber and I see some minor cracks in the chamber, but nothing requiring major attention. Transitioning now to the external surface, I take a few pictures to mark the start and then using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap, I begin scrubbing.  I’m anxious to see what the cleaning does! I use a cotton pad to scrub the stummel using Murphy’s.  I also use a pocketknife blade to scrape the rim and then I apply a brass wire brush to the rim.  I work on the dark spots on the shank and nothing subdues the discoloration.  I continue the cleaning by taking the stummel to the sink and rinsing it with warm water.  I continue to scrub the briar surface with a bristled toothbrush and using anti-oil liquid dish soap.  I transition to the internals using a shank brush with the liquid dish soap.  I look at the shank and the dark spots are holding on, but they have changed – the spot has roughened in texture.  This gave me the idea – I used the anti-oil dish soap and put a plastic dish scrubby and I apply it to the shank and voila!I’m not sure what the substance was, but it dissolved for which I’m thankful!  I finish by fully rinsing the stummel and bringing it back to the worktable.  I take some ‘after’ pictures showing the cleaned stummel and the areas of the shank.  There still appears to be a discoloration after the stummel dries, but this should dissipate through the further stages of the restoration. I continue the cleaning procedure using cotton buds and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95% to clean the internals of the Henley.  I also use a small dental spoon to scrape the mortise walls to remove old tars and oils.  Through the narrowing of the airway, I also hand turn a drill bit to aid in the excavation of gunk.  After some time, the buds and pipe cleaners are lightening, and I halt this phase of cleaning.To further clean the internals, I use a soak with kosher salt and isopropyl 95%.  I like utilizing this soak as it freshens the stummel and removes old odors.  I begin by pulling and twisting a cotton ball to serve as a ‘wick’ to draw out the old tars and oils that are further expunged from the internal briar.  I insert it into the mortise with a straight wire and then fill the bowl with kosher salt and place the stummel in an egg crate for stability.  I then fill the bowl with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt.  I wait several minutes and after the alcohol has receded, I then top off the alcohol.  Turning off the lights I let the soak work through the night. The next morning, I remove the wick and it has soiled through the night absorbing the tars and oils.  The salt is also discolored showing it has done the job.  I thump the expended salt into the waste basket and clean the salt out of the stummel by wiping with paper towel and blowing through the mortise.  To make sure the cleaning is thorough; I follow by using cotton buds and pipe cleaners again.  After two pipe cleaners and one bud, it is clear the soak did the job.  I move on.Looking now at the rim, there remains a darkened discoloration as a remnant of the lava.  I do not want to top the stummel in order to retain the original patina.  Using a piece of 240 grade I lightly sand the rim, more to clean than to remove briar.  I also lightly sand the inside rim edge to remove darkened briar on the edge. Looking at the stummel, there are very small scratches expected with normal wear. To address this, I use sanding sponges.  A start with a coarse grade sponge, follow with medium grade, and then with the light grade.  Sanding sponges are effective in cleaning the surface in a less invasive way.After the sanding sponges, I move straight away to the full regimen of micromesh pads.  I first wet sand with pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sand with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  The grain emerges very nicely through the process. Next, I apply Before & After Restoration Balm to the Henley Chimney stummel. I’ve been looking forward to this part of the process.  The Restoration Balm does a great job bringing out the subtle tones of the natural briar grain hues. I put some of the Balm on my finger and I rub it in to the briar surface.  It starts with a creamy consistency andthen thickens like a wax.  After applying it thoroughly, I put the stummel aside for about 20 minutes to allow the Balm to do what it does then I use a cloth to wipe the excess Balm and buff up the stummel with a microfiber cloth.The Pinched saddle fishtail stem is waiting to catch up with the stummel.  There are some tooth compressions on the bit, one on the upper and a few on the lower.  I take a fresh picture of these to mark the start.  I will first use the heating method to raise these compressions by painting them with the flame of a Bic lighter.  When heated, the vulcanite expands to reclaim its original shape or closer to it.  After applying the flame, there is a difference that I’ve pictured, before and after of the upper and lower bit. The heating minimized the compressions but did not fully erase them.  I dispatch what is left by sanding the bit with 240 grade paper and I use a needle file on the bit and button.  I refresh the button as well with the file.I wet sand the entire stem with 600 grade paper followed by applying 000 steel wool.Next, the micromesh process.  Using first pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 go 12000.  Between each set of 3 I apply Obsidian Oil to the pinched saddle fishtail stem.  The stem looks great! After reuniting stem and stummel, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel set at 40% of full power and apply Blue Diamond compound to the pipe.  When completed, using a felt cloth, I hand buff the pipe to remove the leftover compound dust in preparation for applying the wax.Again, after changing to another buffing wheel and maintaining the same speed, I apply a few coats of carnauba wax to the Henley.  I finish the restoration after applying the wax with a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine and to blend any excess wax into the surface.The butterscotch hue of this Chimney shaped stummel has a very warm draw to it.  I’m pleased with the plethora of grain movement that provides the kind of visual beauty that I appreciate in a pipe that I add to my collection.  I especially like the Chimney’s midriff bulge that is unique bringing attention to the shape.  The Pinched Saddle Fishtail stem also is a sleek and classy touch that completes the ensemble.  My goal was to finish this Stanwell Henley Special to take with me to the Black Sea Coast for our time of R&R enjoying the beach as well as the cuisine in the evenings. A little respite from our work with the Daughters of Bulgaria.  The Stanwell Henley Special performed well on the beach as well as in a classy, relaxed evening meal – the pictures tell the story.  I tell people that, I believe I’m living the dream – some would agree!  Thanks for joining me!  (www.ThePipeSteward.com)

Resurrecting a Second Stately Stanwell Henley Special, Made in Denmark, Blasted Saddle Stem Billiard


Blog by Dal Stanton

Jim was the recipient of the first Stanwell Henley Special, Oval Shank Billiard, that I restored some time ago (see LINK).  Jim saw it on the online ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’ collection benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria – our work here in Bulgaria helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  The second Stanwell Henley Special on the worktable is the Blasted Saddle Stem Billiard on the bottom in the picture below.  This pipe has not been commissioned and will be heading to The Pipe Steward Store and this beautiful stout Danish will also benefit the Daughters when a new steward brings it home.  I have also taken notice of the solid craftsmanship of these 3 Danish made pipes and decided that the third, a Stanwell Henley Special Chimney (on top in the picture below), would find a home in my personal collection.  The eBay seller gave this helpful information about this Lot of 3 Stanwell Henley Special pipes:

This auction is for three vintage Stanwell, Henley Line estate pipes from the 1950’s-60’s era. All are in good pre-owned condition. The stems are primarily free from teeth marks. The stems do have some fading. All of the stems fit snug and the wooden bowls are free from outstanding blemishes. As seen from top to bottom, the first pipe reads Henley Special #57, the second and third read Henley Special without any numbers seen. All of the pipes read Made in Denmark.

Here are the three Stanwell Henley Specials that I acquired on the eBay auction block from a seller in Maryland.  The Henley Jim commissioned is pictured in the center above and below is the restored pipe now in Jim’s collection – an unbelievable transformation!As I expressed before, since I started collecting and restoring pipes, I’ve grown in my appreciation for Danish made pipes.  They tend to be stout, well-made pipes and just fit the hand wonderfully.  Unfortunately, my original research did not uncover much online regarding the Henley line.  Pipedia’s article on Stanwell pipes simply places the Henley Special line in the list of Stanwell second brands.  Pipephil.eu provided more information with a Henley much like the slightly bent Chimney above which I’m claiming for my collection, with the interesting characteristic bulging midsection, but with a blasted finish.  It also shows an ‘H’ stem stamp.  None of the 3 Henleys of my acquisition have stem stampings – or they wore off long ago.The only information I found in my initial research that gave any reference to dating isn’t conclusive. I found the following picture on Google images with the link to pipesmokersforum.com, “Who made this pipe?”   I went to the pipesmokersforum site and searched ‘Henley’ and no reference or article emerged. I would have loved to read the thread that discussed the dating of the discontinued Stanwell second, Henley Special.  The picture puts a question mark in the late 50s and the eBay seller’s description placing the pipes in the 50s or 60s are anecdotal but seem to me to be accurate.  I will keep searching but based upon the look and feel of these Danish made pipes, I think the 50s/60s is on target.With the second Stanwell Henley Special on the worktable, I take some pictures to get a closer look. He’s a large bowled pipe with dimensions: Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 2 1/4 inches, Rim width: 1 7/16 inches, Chamber width: 7/8 inches, Chamber depth: 2 inches. The nomenclature on the blasted stummel is on the lower side of the pipe.  There is a flat panel running the length of the heel and shank allowing this Billiard to sit on the table – nice feature!  On the shank side of the panel in cursive is stamped a thin ‘Henley’ [over] SPECIAL.  To the right of this is stamped MADE IN [over] DENMARK.The condition of this Henley resembles the others in that they are very dark and dirty from grime over the stummel.  The blasted surface of this Henley will need much scrubbing with a brush.  One crevasse is so large/deep that when I first saw it, I thought that the bowl had cracked.  However, it is the result of the blasting process.  The blasted surface is amazing on this pipe. The chamber is choked with carbon cake buildup – this needs to be removed to give the briar a fresh start and to examine the chamber walls.  With the cake as thick as it is, there is concern for heating damage.  The rim is inundated with lava flow – it’s thick!  The saddle stem has also seen better days!  The oxidation is thick, and the bit has been chewed – or more accurate, clenched.  There are several compressions on both upper and lower bit – the former steward loved this pipe, but he was a hands-free clincher which would be no small feat for a pipe with a bowl this big!

This doesn’t happen often.  My wife got into The Pipe Steward activities to picture me cleaning stems of pipes in queue – two Henleys included – this second one and the third staying with me.  Yep, this is what my worktable looks like!  I clean each airway with pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% as well as employing shank brushes.  I clean the stems before placing them in the soak of Before & After Deoxidizer. The stems soak for several hours to work on removing the oxidation.  The oxidation on the Henley is pretty think.  We’ll see how the Deoxidizer works.When I fish out the Henley’s saddle stem, I rub/wipe the stem with cotton pads wetted with isopropyl 95% to remove the raised oxidation.  I also run a few pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95% through the airway to clear the Deoxidizer.I also apply paraffin oil, a mineral oil, to the stem to begin the conditioning process.  The B&A Deoxidizer did a fair job on the stem.Turning now to the Henley stummel, I take a picture to show the condition of the chamber. The cake closes as it moves down the chamber.  I’m hopeful that the chamber walls are not suffering from heating damage.  To address the thick cake, I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit.  After putting down paper towel to save time on cleaning, I begin with the smallest of the 4 blade heads available.  With a chamber width of 7/8 inches and depth of 2 inches, he took all 4 blade heads that the Pipnet Reaming Kit had to offer.  The cake is hard and crusty, and it takes patience to work the blades and not overdo it.  I follow the reaming using the Savinelli Fitsall tool to continue to scrape the chamber walls clearing more carbon. Finally, I sand the chamber using 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  The sanding is very helpful in cleaning the walls to allow inspection.  After cleaning the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%, I’m able to get a good view of the chamber and the damage from heating is evident.I take pictures going around the chamber from different angles.  With the thickness of the cake that I removed, I’m not surprised to find heating damage.  I’m sure that the cracks and fissures that I’ve pictured are a result of the heat build-up caused by the thick cake and not allowing proper heating expansion and contraction.  This puts more stress on the briar and these results occur.  As I continue the cleaning, my mind will be processing the question of how to address this. Switching from the wall issues of the chamber, I move to cleaning the external surface.  Without a doubt, this stummel is the King of Cragginess.  I love the deeply hewn valleys and ridges of this large stummel created by a very thorough sandblasting process.  I take pictures to show the various angles.  The stummel is very dark and I’m anxious to see what cleaning does. I begin the cleaning by using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and scrub with a cotton pad.  With the craggy landscape, the process graduates very quick to scrubbing with a bristled tooth brush as well as a brass wire brush on the rim.Taking the stummel to the sink, warm water continues the cleaning rinsing off the Murphy’s Soap and scrubbing the surface of the crags with the toothbrush.  I also attack the internals using shank brushes and anti-oil dish soap.  I scrub the internals well and rinse the stummel thoroughly.  The result of the cleaning is a considerably lightened stummel.  Another round of pictures show the cleaned briar landscape on the Henley stummel. The rim still appears to have some lava residue on it, and I continue to clean it using a dental probe to break up the carbon in the crags as well as apply the brass bristle brush to the rim. I like the results and I love how the crevassed valley rises and bisects the rim!  This blasted stummel has a lot of expression going on!I continue to clean the internals using cotton buds and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%. Joining the cleaning process was a small dental spoon that allowed me to reach into the mortise and airway and scrape the wall, helping to clean the old tars and oils.  I also utilize drill bits to help excavate tars and oils deeper in the airway.  I insert the bit into the airway carefully and hand-rotate into the airway. The rotation helps to remove the gunk.  After a good bit of cleaning, the buds and pipe cleaners start coming out lighter.  I called a halt to the cleaning transitioning to a kosher salt and alcohol soak to continue the cleaning in stealth mode through the night.Before I set up the kosher salt and alcohol soak, I look at the stummel and it is a very dry piece of wood.  I decide to apply a coat of paraffin oil to the stummel allowing the oil to hydrate the briar while it’s sitting through the night with the soak.  Paraffin oil is a mineral oil available here in Bulgaria in the pharmacy.  I apply the oil over the surface with a cotton pad and take a few pictures.  Man, it looks good.  This gives me a sneak peek at what the finished pipe will look like left in its present state.  The rich dark burgundy tones are peeking out.Next, for the kosher salt and alcohol soak, I pull and twist a cotton ball to form a ‘wick’ that is inserted into the mortise with the help of a firm straight wire.  The wick serves to draw the tars and oils that are released further from the internal wood.  I then fill the bowl with kosher salt which will not leave an after taste as does an iodized salt. I then set the stummel in an egg crate for stability, tip the stummel so the salt surface is generally level with the end of the shank.  Then with the use of a large eyedropper, I fill the bowl with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes when the alcohol has been absorbed, I top off with more isopropyl 95%.  I then put the stummel aside for the night and turn off the lights! The next morning the soak had done the job evidenced by the soiled salt and cotton wick.  After tossing the expended salt in the waste, and wiping the chamber out with paper towel, and blowing through the mortise to dislodge salt crystals, I used a few more cotton buds and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95% to make sure all was clean.  The soak did the job and the stummel will be much fresher for the new steward of this Stanwell Henley Special.Before moving further, I need to address the heating issues in the chamber.  There are cracks and fissures which undoubtedly developed over time because the cake buildup became too much.  With the cake so thick, it hinders proper expansion and contraction when the pipe is used. The result is what we now see in this chamber.  To address this, I mix a batch of J-B KWIK Weld using the two components, Steel and Hardener.  I use a plastic disc as a mixing pallet with scotch tape over it to aid in clean up. After mixing the two components on the pallet, about 4 minutes is available to apply the Weld before it begins to harden. I mix the components thoroughly with a toothpick, then using my finger (with a surgical glove on!), I scoop a bit of Weld and apply it to the chamber wall.  I do this uniformly around the chamber and applying pressure to make sure the Weld is filling the cracks and fissures.  I’m VERY careful to avoid dripping Weld on the rim during the application.  Later, after the Weld thoroughly cures, I’ll sand the chamber removing all the excess Weld leaving behind only what filled the cracks and fissures – or that is the theory! I usually insert a pipe cleaner to guard the airway from the Weld, but this time I forgot and thankfully, no problems result.  After completing the application, I put the stummel aside for several hours allowing the Weld to cure.  Cleanup is quick – I simply peel the tape up and discard.Turning now to the saddle stem, the Before & After Deoxidizer did a good job, but I see residual oxidation yet remaining in the vulcanite.  I take a few pictures with an opened aperture to show what I can see with the naked eye.  The bit does not have tooth chatter as much as compressions – it appears the molars were engaged by the former steward to smoke the Henley hands-free.  To address the bit compressions, I first use the heating method.  Using a Bic lighter, I paint the compressions with flame and as the vulcanite heats, it expands to reclaim the original stem shape or at least the compressions are minimized.  After heating several times, the compressions have lessened but are still visible.   The before and after pictures tell the story – in fact, I had a hard time pairing the correct photos after the heating! I believe the compressions have been minimized enough that sanding will be all that is necessary to repair the bit.  Using 240 grade paper, I sand not only the bit and button, but I expand it to the entire stem to address residual oxidation as well.  I employ a flat needle file to freshen the button lips and to assist with the tooth compressions next to the lip.  In the sanding of the saddle, I use a plastic disc I fashioned and with the disc separating the stem and stummel, I reunite the two.  The disc acts as a shield to shouldering the stem shank facing.  The sanding removed all the compressions. The pictures show the progress. With the major sanding with 240 paper complete, I continue by wet sanding the entire stem using 600 grade paper.  I then follow the wet sanding by applying 000 grade steel wool to the stem.  I’ve lost track of which is the upper and lower stem.  The stem is looking great!I move directly to applying the full regimen of 9 micromesh pads starting by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400 then dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of three pads I apply a coat of Obsidian Oil to assist in rejuvenating the vulcanite.  The saddle stem has that glassy pop! I turn back to the stummel and the J-B Weld has had time to cure.  I begin to sand off the excess J-B Weld by using the Dremel with a sanding drum.  I set the Dremel to the slowest speed and gently, without much pressure, sand off the upper layer of the J-B Weld – the excess.  With the drum, as I’m working patiently around the entire chamber, I also sand out a reaming step that had developed near the floor of the chamber.  The Dremel shortens the work amazingly.  I then switch by wrapping 240 grade paper around a Sharpie Pen. I fine tune the sanding in the chamber so that eventually, the cracks and fissures are revealed now having been filled.  I love it when theory and practice come together!  I clean out the chamber of the dust and it looks and feels great! I run my finger over the formerly cavern-filled chamber and it is smooth.  I take finish pictures and move on. I’ve been looking forward to applying the Before & After Restoration Balm to this Stanwell Henley Special’s stummel to tease out the older patina of this vintage blasted briar surface.  I make sure the surface is clean from all the chamber sanding and I take a few pictures to mark the start.  I then apply the Balm to my fingers and rub it in to the surface.  The surface practically drinks the Balm as I work the Balm into the craggy landscape.  After it’s worked in well, I put the stummel aside for 20 minutes to allow the Balm to do what it does. I take a picture in this state. After about 20 minutes I wipe off the excess Balm and buff the blasted Henley Special stummel with a microfiber cloth.  The hues are deeper and richer.  I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel onto the stummel and set the speed at 40% full power and after reuniting the stem and stummel, I apply Blue Diamond compound to the stem.  As I go along, I experiment with the Blue Diamond on the stummel.  I don’t want to gum up the craggy surface with Blue Diamond, but what I see, with a light application of the compound, is that the briar is sprucing up and I move the wheel along with the grain of the blasted briar.  I like the results.  When I complete the application of Blue Diamond, I give the pipe a good hand-wiping with a felt cloth to remove the carbon dust before application of the wax.  I like the results.Straightaway, I load another cotton cloth buffing wheel onto the Dremel, increasing the speed of the Dremel to about 60% full power – faster than normal on smooth briar, I first apply carnauba wax to the stummel.  I increase the speed for the blasted stummel to increase the heat of the application.  I’ve found that using the Dremel on the craggy surface allows me to get up and close with the application of wax on the rough surface.  Heating the wax more helps guard against it gunking up on the rough surface.  The added speed helps dissolve the wax over the rough surface.  I’m liking what I’m seeing!  When I apply carnauba to the stem, I slow the speed of the Dremel back down to the normal 40% full power.After applying the wax, I give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth.  This not only raises the shine but also help disseminate any excess wax on the surface.  There is one last project left to do.  The chamber was riddled with heating cracks and fissures and I used heat resistant J-B Kwik Weld to fill in the cracks.  I coated the entire chamber with the Weld mixture then sanded it after the Weld cured.  After sanding, as the theory hoped, the results were, that the only Weld remaining was that which filled the cracks and the chamber wall is smooth and again usable to put this pipe back into service.  Beautiful!  I love it when theory and practice come together so well. To help provide a protective coat over the repairs and to encourage a new cake to develop, I apply to the chamber walls a coating mixture of natural yogurt (sour cream works, too) and activated charcoal.  I mix a small amount of yogurt and charcoal in a bowl and when the consistency of the mixure will not drip off the spoon its ready to go.  After putting a pipe cleaner through the draft hole, I use my index finger to reach into the chamber and apply the mixture.  I make sure that the chamber walls are thoroughly covered, and I put the stummel aside for a time to allow the coating to cure.  It dries into an amazingly hard surface.  It’s important for the new steward to use a folded pipe cleaner to clean the bowl initially after putting the Henley into service – not to scrape the bowl! I’m very pleased with the results of this second of the 3 1950/60s Stanwell Henley Specials I acquired.  I appreciate the Danish craftmanship that is evident in all three pipes and this Blasted Billiard is no exception.  The blasting amazes me with the craggy surface showing the 3-dimensional movement of the briar grain.  One ravine is cut so drastically, at first, I thought it was a cracked bowl when I first acquired the pipes, but it remains as part of a very expressive, deep hued blasted briar landscape.  With a chamber width of 7/8 inches and depth of 2 inches, the amount of blend one can pack into this bowl is pretty impressive and with the size of the stummel and the blasting – well, I’m tempted to keep it for myself, but the third Stanwell Henley Special next on the table will be staying with me.  This Henley is heading for ThePipeSteward Store benefitting the Daughters of Bulgaria – our work here in Bulgaria helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

Rescue of a Stately Stanwell Henley Special, Made in Denmark, Oval Shank Billiard


Blog by Dal Stanton

I have been looking forward to this project ever since I landed three Stanwell Henley Special pipes on the eBay block from a seller in Maryland.  The seller provided helpful information that only helped urged me to place a bid:

This auction is for three vintage Stanwell, Henley Line estate pipes from the 1950’s-60’s era. All are in good pre-owned condition. The stems are primarily free from teeth marks. The stems do have some fading. All of the stems fit snug and the wooden bowls are free from outstanding blemishes. As seen from top to bottom, the first pipe reads Henley Special #57, the second and third read Henley Special without any numbers seen. All of the pipes read Made in Denmark.

Since I started collecting and restoring pipes, I’ve grown in my appreciation for Danish made pipes.  They tend to be stout, well made pipes.  The stems are also interesting – the ‘pinched saddle’ fish tail is unique.  When I saw the 3 Henley Specials, I was attracted to the line-up but had never heard of ‘Henley’.  When I read the sellers description I was sold – I was especially drawn to the ‘Chimney’ on the top of the group below, sporting a pinched saddle fishtail stem.  The Stanwell Henley on my workbench now is the classic Oval Shank Billiard in the center.  Along with a Comoy’s Moorgate, Jim saw the Henley Special in the For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only! collection and commissioned him.  He saw what I also see in these classic Danish pipes.  As with frosting on the cake, this pipe benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria, our work here in Bulgaria helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  The pictures show what I saw on eBay. Unfortunately, I cannot find much online regarding the Henley line.  Pipedia’s article on Stanwell pipes simply places the Henley Special line in the list of Stanwell second brands.  Pipephil.eu provided more information with a Henley much like the slightly bent, Chimney above with the characteristic bulging midsection, but with a blasted finish.  It also show a ‘H’ stem stamp.  If the Henley on my worktable had one, it is now long gone.The only information I found that gave any reference to dating is spurious at best. I found the following picture on Google images but the link to pipesmokersforum.com is now a dead end.  “Who made this pipe?”  I would have loved to read the thread that discussed the dating of the discontinued Stanwell second, Henley Special.  The picture puts a question mark in the late 50s.  Looking at all the 3 Henley Specials I acquired, the look and feel of them lends toward this dating, but…. This picture and the eBay seller’s description placing the pipes in the 50s or 60s are anecdotal, but seem to me to be accurate.  Oh, for the return of the now defunct, Chris’ Pages website, to look through the old catalogs! One very interesting find was a Stanwell Henley Special for sale in the listings of SmokingPipes.com in restored state – very nice.  It gives me an idea of what might be under the older, tired finish of all three Henleys in my collection.Taking a closer look at the Henley Special Oval Shank Billiard on my worktable, I take these pictures for a closer look. The nomenclature is found on the upper side of the oval shank.  A very thin, worn ‘Henley’ (in cursive script) [over] offset ‘SPECIAL’.  On the underside is the COM, ‘MADE IN DENMARK’. As with the other two Stanwell Henley pipes I acquired at the same time, the finish is extremely dark from years of grime and oil build up.  The uniformity of the darkened state of the pipes lends to a common period of manufacturing, which I’m guessing to be in the 1950s or 60s.  Even though I know it’s not an exact science, the feel of the pipes seems older.  I need first to clean the briar surface before I can see what is going on with the briar – the condition or even the look of the grain.  The oval saddle stem has oxidation, tooth chatter and dents which need attention.  The cake in the chamber is thick and will be removed to give the briar a fresh start.  The rim has significant lava flow and I detect a divot on the internal lip of the rim which needs attention.

To begin the restoration of this vintage Stanwell Henley Special Oval Shank Billiard, I run a pipe cleaner dipped in isopropyl 95% through the airway to clean it up.  I then add the oval saddle stem to a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer with other pipes and stems in the queue.  I leave it in the soak for several hours and fish it out, letting the Deoxidizer drain off the stem.  I then wipe the raised oxidation with cotton pads wetted with alcohol.  I follow the alcohol by wiping the stem with a pad wetted with light paraffin oil. Turning now to the bowl, I begin by reaming the chamber.  There is heavy cake in the chamber tightens as it descends in the chamber.  Using the Pipnet Reaming Kit, I start with the smallest of the 4 available blade heads.  After putting some paper towel on the table, I go to work.  I use 3 blade heads of the 4 and then transition to the Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Tool. With the Fitsall tool I continue scraping the chamber wall and fine-tuning the reaming and reaching to the difficult angles.  Then, wrapping 240 grade paper around a Sharpie Pen, I sand the chamber removing more carbon and revealing fresh briar.  To complete the chamber cleanup, I wipe it with a cotton pad and alcohol to clear the carbon dust.  With the carbon cake cleared, an inspection of the chamber reveals no problems with cracks or heat fissures. The pictures show the progress. Turning now to the external surface, I use undiluted Murphy’s Soap on cotton pads.  I’m anxious to see what the Murphy’s Soap does on this very dark, aged briar surface. As I use the cotton pad, I very quickly begin to see what beauty was waiting underneath.  I called my wife to take some pictures as I scrubbed the ancient layer of oils and tars that have cocooned the briar underneath.  I also use a bristled tooth brush and a brass wire brush on the rim.  My, oh my!  I’ve never seen a pipe clean up to such a pristine condition.  I rinse the bowl with tap water and literally marvel at what is in my hand.  The rim is still darkened a bit from lava flow, but the flame grain that dominates the bowl’s external surface is striking.  I take two pictures after the cleaning to mark the progress.  As I look at the stummel, I decide to hydrate the briar using light paraffin oil (mineral oil) which also gives me a sneak peek at a finished stummel.  The before and after pictures tell the story. Turning now to the internals of the stummel, I use cotton buds and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% to clean the mortise and airway. I also utilize long shank brushes to save on pipe cleaners.  To loosen up the tars and oils, I employ a dental spatula to scrape the mortise wall and reach into the airway.  A drill bit effectively excavates crud out of the airway. To do this, I use a bit the size of the airway and hand turn the bit so that it proceeds down the airway.  The bit grabs the buildup and removes it.  After some time excavating and scraping, pipe cleaners and cotton buds start coming out clean.  The pictures show the tools and the progress.I continue the internal cleaning with a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  After twisting and stretching a cotton ball to form a wick, I stuff it down the mortise/airway to draw the oils and tars.  Following this, I fill the bowl with kosher salt (kosher salt has no residual after-taste as does iodized salt) and set it in an egg crate.  Using a large eye dropper, the bowl fills with isopropyl 95% until the alcohol surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes the alcohol is absorbed, and I top off the alcohol and set the stummel aside for the night. The next morning, the soak did the work.  I toss the expended salt in the waste and wipe the bowl with paper towel to remove the salt.  I also use a shank brush in the chamber and down the mortise to remove any remaining salt.  Finally, I blow through the mortise.  To make sure all is clean, I finish by wetting a pipe cleaner and cotton bud with isopropyl 95% and running them through the mortise.  I declare the stummel to be cleaned. With the pipe cleaned, I look again at the stummel surface which almost appears to have been protected by the layer cocooning it.  My task will be to preserve the patina of the briar’s finish by not introducing sanding that will be too invasive and remove the aged surface.  I sent a note off to Steve of rebornpipes, just to make sure my plan received his concurrence before moving further with the Henley.  My plan is to first repair the divot on the inside of the rim lip, shown at the 2 o’clock position on the first picture below.  I could introduce an internal bevel to mask the divot, but I would rather salvage the rim real estate with this vintage pipe.  I make a patch of briar dust and thick CA glue and mix a small amount of putty with it.  After wiping the area with alcohol to clean it, I mix the CA glue and briar dust until it reaches the viscosity of molasses and apply the putty to the divot using a toothpick.  It takes very little.  I put the stummel aside to allow the patch to cure. With the patch curing, I look at the stem and take some close ups of the bit area.  The chatter is light with some bites.  I begin by using the flame method to raise the indentations in the vulcanite.  With a Bic lighter, I paint the button area.  The physics of vulcanite – a compound rubber, expands when heated.  The heating causes the bites and chatter to lessen in the intensity.  As I heat, it does lessen but is not fully removed.  I next use 240 grit paper and sand out the chatter and dents remaining.  I also use the flat needle file to redefine the button lips – upper and lower.  The pictures show the progress. Following the 240 paper and filing, I use 600 grade paper and wet sand the entire stem.  I follow this using 0000 steel wool to sand/buff the stem.  The pictures show the progress.Next, using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand the stem.  I follow by dry sanding using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads, I apply a coat of Obsidian Oil to the stem to revitalize the vulcanite.  The pictures show the progress of restoring that glossy pop.  I like it! With the stem drying, I look again to the stummel.  The briar dust patch is cured, and time to be file and sand the patch mound.  I use both a flat and a half-rounded needle file to gently and patiently file the patch mound on the top of the rim and on the inside lip.  I’m careful not to impact the surrounding rim briar.  After some time filing, I use a piece of 240 tightly rolled to finish the sanding, bringing the patch flush with the briar on the top and inside.  I chronicle the progress. Next, I gently clean the whole rim surface by lightly sanding it starting with micromesh pad 1500 and completing with pad 3600.  The rim looks good.To preserve the patina in the old finish, I’m willing to allow some scratches and dents to pass as badges of this Stanwell Henley’s past walk in life.  I did want to try raising some in an area where I identified a concentration of these.  I take a picture to show a closeup of the area.  I then take my wife’s iron (she always raises her eyebrows when I ask for permission and my response to her question regarding what use HER iron will be to the art of pipe restoration! 😊) and wet a rag with tap water and place the rag over the briar area to be addressed.  After the iron is heated, I place the iron over the rag which heats both water and wood creating a steaming effect on the dents and scratches.  The effect of the heating and moisture causes the briar to absorb the moisture and expand, helping to close the wounds.  This technique helped, but there remain some badges of the past for the Henley Special! Following this heating technique, I apply Before & After Restoration Balm to the entire briar surface working it in well.  I apply some to my fingers and massage the Balm into the briar.  The Balm begins with the texture of a light oil but thickens into a heavy wax as it is worked into the briar.  After the Balm absorbs for a few minutes I wipe it off the stummel surface with a microfiber cloth.  As I wipe, the Balm-treated surface loosens, and it becomes more of a buffing.  I like what the Before & After Restoration Balm does to bring out and enrich the briar. The water spot (above) disappeared as the Balm did its job.At this point, I rejoin the stummel and stem and often I find that the cleaning process has loosened the connection.  To remedy this, I choose a drill bit that is the next size larger than the bit easily fitting down the airway of the mortise. I heat the vulcanite of the tenon by painting it with a lit Bic lighter.  As the vulcanite heats, it becomes supple allowing me to work the drill bit into the tenon thus expanding the tenon’s diameter microscopically and securing a tighter fit for the tenon in the mortise.  The expansion worked so well, that I needed to loosen the tenon a bit using 470 and 600 grade papers and then 0000 steel wool.  The fit now is good. With the tenon now fitting the mortise snugly, I mount the Dremel with a cotton cloth buffing wheel, set the speed at about 40% full power and apply Blue Diamond to the entire pipe.  With this compound being the only abrasive, I’m applying to the bowl, I spend extra time working the compound over the briar.  The compound doesn’t remove the ‘badges’ I’ve left behind, but it buffs out the very fine lines in the briar surface creating that natural briar shine.   When I add wax to this natural shine, it’s like frosting on a cake!  After applying the Blue Diamond is complete, I hand buff the entire pipe with a felt cloth to remove the excess compound dust left behind before applying carnauba.I now mount another cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel, maintaining the same speed, and apply a few coats of carnauba wax to the stem and stummel.  I finish the restoration by giving the pipe a rigorous hand buffing with a micromesh cloth which raises the gloss even more.

Oh my!  When Jim commissioned this Stanwell Henley from the For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only! collection, could he have possibly seen what was hidden in this stately Oval Shank Billiard, Made in Denmark?  The grain and patina are beautiful.  I called the pipe, ‘stately’.  It’s remarkable, how so much beauty is hidden underneath the surface appearance and neglect of years.  Yet, as the vertical, flame grain cascades upwardly to the rim, if one looks closely at the rim, revealed there are the small bird’s eye grains formed by the cut cross-sections of the vertical grain.  I’m pleased with the small, seemingly insignificant internal lip patch to the rim – it blends well and joins the ensemble without notice.  With the bowl’s striking grain revealed, the oval shank now compliments well as it flows to the saddle stem.  I fear I’m waxing too much at this point!  Jim has the first opportunity to acquire this 1950s or 60’s Stanwell Henley Special from The Pipe Steward Store and this benefits the work we do here in Bulgaria with the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Lest we forget, I begin with a ‘before’ picture for the striking contrast. Thanks for joining me!