Blog by Steve Laug
Once again I want to take you through my process of working on each pipe that we purchase. Jeff has set up a spread sheet to track where the pipe came from, the date of purchase and what we paid for it so that we know what we have invested in the pipe before we even work on it. This takes a lot of the guess work out of the process. This particular pipe was purchased on 02/20/2020 from a seller in St. Leonard, Maryland, USA. I also want you to understand why we take the photos we do. If you have followed for a while then you will see the familiar pattern of the photos we include both in the before and midstream process of working on a pipe. It is not accidental or chance as the photos have been taken to help me make an assessment of the pipe Jeff sees before he starts his clean up work. We do this to record the condition that the pipe was in when received it and to assess what kind of work will need to be done on. When I look at these photos this is what I see.
- The first thing I see is an interesting squat Bulldog with a mixed finish of rusticated and smooth bands and a vulcanite saddle stem. It is well proportioned and well made.
- The finish is dirty and there is grime and grit ground into the rustication on the sides of the bowl and shank. The two smooth bands on the bowl are also dirty. It is dusty and dull looking but under the grime the pipe looks good. There is a crack on the left side of the underside of the diamond shank from the end in about ¼ inch. It is branched from the end and comes together at the rusticated band around the shank.
- The rusticated rim top has some lava and debris filling in the rusticated grooves and ridges around surface and the edges. It is dirty looking but cleaning will reveal a real beauty.
- The bowl has a thin cake and appears to have been reamed recently before it came to us. The inner and outer edges look good and there does not appear to be any obvious burn damage to the smooth rim top or bowl edges. The bowl does not appear to having any checking and the bottom 1/3 of the bowl is raw briar.
- The vulcanite stem is in good condition – dirty, oxidized and has light tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of button. I am pretty certain it is a replacement stem as it is not like original Heritage pipe stems I have worked on.
Overall my impressions of this pipe is that it is a beauty that once cleaned up will be another one that will look pretty amazing. Heritage pipes have shapes and a style of rustication that are readily identifiable when you see them so I knew what the pipe was even before looking at it in person. The photos below confirm the assessment above. Jeff took close up photos so that I could have a clearer picture of the condition of the bowl, rim edges and top. The rim top photos confirm my assessment above. The cake in the bowl is quite thin and looks like it had been recently reamed. The rim top has some lava, grime and debris in the rustication filling in some of the grooves. You can also see the condition of the outer and the inner edge. They appear to be in great condition. This is what I look for when assessing a pipe. There is no visible burn damage at this point. The bowl is still round and other than being in a used condition it is in great shape. The photos of the vulcanite stem surface from various angles confirm my assessment of its condition. You can see the dirty grime and oxidation on the stem in the first photo below. There is light chatter and tooth marks. The stem is quite dirty but otherwise in good condition. The fit of the stem to the shank is off a bit due to the crack in the left underside. The rustication on this pipe is quite beautiful. Instead of telling you what I see in the next photos of the sides of the bowl and the heel I want to hear from you. Tell me what you see? What does the finish look like to you? Are there any visible problems or issues that stand out to you? Are the cracks or scratches in the valleys of the rustication or the high spots? Are there visible flaws or fissures in the briar? How random does the deep rustication look? Is there a pattern to it? Any visible issues on the heel of the bowl? These questions should help you to see what I am looking for when I see these photos. He took a photo of the stamping on the top left side of the diamond shank. It is stamped with the shape number 98S [over] Heritage [over] Embassy (faintly stamped but readable). What stands out for you in the photos of the stamping? What do you look for in the stamping? It is dirty but what do you see underneath the grime on the surface of the briar? Jeff took photos of the crack in the left underside of the shank. It is branched and ends at the carved groove in the shank separating the smooth from the rusticated. It appears to go forward to the rustication but lessens in effect and depth in the finish. It will need to be repaired and banded.I have worked on quite a few Heritage pipe that are classic lines – Heritage Antique, Heritage Heirloom and others. I reread an earlier blog I had written on a Heritage restoration that I did (https://rebornpipes.com/2015/01/14/refreshing-an-older-heritage-antique-13-dublin-pipe/) It referred me to a blog that was written on rebornpipes by Andrew Selking. I quote from the blog above with reference to Andrew’s work.
The Heritage brand was one I had no familiarity with until Andrew wrote up this blog for us https://rebornpipes.com/2014/12/23/refurbishing-a-heritage-heirloom/ He gave background, history, line information and the classic brochure from the company. I want to give a brief summary of what he found in the next two short paragraphs to set the stage for the one that I found once he highlighted the brand for me.
Heritage pipes were Kaywoodie’s answer to Dunhill. According to one of their brochures, Heritage pipes were made from “briar burls seasoned and cured for up to 8 months,” with only “one briar bowl in over 300 selected to bear the Heritage name.” “Heritage stems are custom fitted with the finest hand finished Para Rubber stems. Mouthpieces are wafer thin and concave.”
The Heritage line began in the early 1960’s, with the trademark issued in 1964. The line was started at the request of Stephen Ogdon, (who worked for Kaywoodie in 1962). Mr. Ogdon had previous experience working for Dunhill, either running the New York store or working for Dunhill North America. Mr. Ogden was made President of Heritage Pipes, Inc., Kaywoodie Tobacco Co.,Inc. and Kaywoodie Products Inc. as well as a Vice President of S.M. Frank & Co. Heritage Pipes were produced from 1964 until 1970 (Source Kaywoodie.myfreeforum.org).
I scanned the brochure that Andrew provided and found this regarding the Antique Line: The Heritage Antique line is characterized by “Rustic Grain stands out in rugged relief.” “This pipe is so bold-looking, yet so light and smooth-smoking. A special sandblasting process exposes a greater surface area on the bowl, giving a cooler, more satisfying smoke.
I have also included the brochure below. On the second page below there is a panel that reference the Heritage Embassy pipe with a rusticated finish and the twin smooth rings around the bowl. The fourth page of the brochure below shows the 98S in the third column on the right. Andrew had written a blog on Heritage Heirloom 98S straight Bulldog previously. It is the same shape as the one I am working on now and has the original stem which confirms that this is a replacement (https://rebornpipes.com/2015/04/21/restoring-a-heritage-heirloom-98s-bulldog/). I have included a picture from the blog below for your consideration on the stem shape of the original.Now I had more information to work with. The Heritage Embassy in my hands that probably came out between 1964 and 1970.
I am sure many of you will shake your head and ask maybe even out loud, “Why is he including this again?” However, please remember that the point of these blogs is not to wow your with the work or make you shake your heads but I want you to know the details of the work we do so you can do your own. Back in 2020 Jeff wrote a blog about his cleaning process. I am including a link to that now so you can see what I mean about his process. Do not skip it! Give it a read (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/20/got-a-filthy-estate-pipe-that-you-need-to-clean/). Here is the introduction to that blog and it is very true even to this day.
Several have asked about Jeff’s cleaning regimen as I generally summarize it in the blogs that I post rather than give a detailed procedure. I have had the question asked enough that I asked Jeff to put together this blog so that you can get a clear picture of the process he uses. Like everything else in our hobby, people have different methods they swear by. Some may question the method and that is fine. But it works very well for us and has for many years. Some of his steps may surprise you but I know that when I get the pipes from him for my part of the restoration they are impeccably clean and sanitized. I have come to appreciate the thoroughness of the process he has developed because I really like working on clean pipe!
For the benefit of some of you who may be unfamiliar with some of the products he uses I have included photos of three of the items that Jeff mentions in his list. This will make it easier for recognition. These three are definitely North American Products so you will need to find suitable replacements or order these directly on Amazon. The makeup pads are fairly universal as we were able to pick some up in India when we were with Paresh and his family.
In the blog itself he breaks his process down into two parts – cleaning the stem and cleaning the bowl. Each one has a large number of steps that he methodically does every time. I know because I have watched him do the work and I have seen the pipes after his work on them. He followed this process step by step and when the pipe got to me it was spotlessly clean and ready for my work. The inside of the stem, shank and bowl were clean and to me that is an amazing gift as it means that my work on this end is with a clean pipe! I cannot tell you how much difference that makes for my work.
When the pipe arrives here in Vancouver I have a clean pipe and I go over it keeping in mind my assessment shared in the opening paragraph above. Now that I have it in hand I am looking for confirmation of what I saw in the photos as well as any significant structural changes in the bowl and finish as I go over it.
- The first thing I see is an interesting squat Bulldog with a mixed finish of rusticated and smooth bands and a vulcanite saddle stem. It is well proportioned and well made.
- The finish is clean and the grime and grit have been removed from the finish on the bowl. The rustication and the smooth finish both have come alive around the bowl sides. The crack in the diamond shank on the left underside was clean and visible.
- The lava, grime and dust on the rim top has been removed and it looks to be in good condition on the top and edges of the bowl.
- The walls of the bowl are clean and I do not see any checking or burn damage. The inner edge of the bowl looks good. The outer edges look good and there does not appear to be any obvious burn damage there.
- The vulcanite stem is clean and has very light tooth chatter and marks on both sides. The stem is definitely a replacement.
Hopefully the steps above show you both what I look for when I go over the pipe when I bring it to the work table and also what I see when I look at the pipe in my hands. They also clearly spell out a restoration plan in short form. My work is clear and addressing it will be the next steps. I took photos of the whole pipe to give you a picture of what I see when I have it on the table. This is important to me in that it also shows that there was no damage done during the clean up work or the transit of the pipe from Idaho to here in Vancouver. I carefully went over the bowl and rim top to get a sense of what is happening there. In this case once the rim top and edges were cleaned, they looked very good. There was no damage on the edges or the top of the rim. The rim edge and top are clean and should polish up well. I also go over the stem carefully. The crack in the shank was present and visible. The stem had some faint tooth marks chatter on the surface of the stem on both sides. I took photos of the rim top and stem sides to show as best as I can what I see when I look at them. I always check to make sure that the clean up work did not damage the stamping on the shank in any way. It is in excellent condition and is very clear and readable (all except the Embassy stamping which is faint but readable). The Heritage rustication is quite unique and tight. To me it different and I like the feel of it.. I love just looking at the beauty of the lay of the pipe and the proportion of the hand made pipes. I like to remove the stem from the shank to get a sense of what was in the mind of the pipe maker when he crafted the pipe. The photo shows its beauty in flow and shape. I started my work on the pipe by dealing with the crack in the left underside of the shank. It is visible in the photo below. I have three different bands that would fit the shank. The first one on the left was too deep and covered all of the stamping. It was also not quite square. The second band had an end cap and was rather loose on the shank. The third one was a good fit and was tight on the shank. I would need to reduce the depth of the band and sand the shank end in order to make a snug fit on the shank. Used a topping board to reduce the depth of the band. I was able to remove half of the depth. I used a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper to sand the smooth band on the shank end. I took enough of the briar off that the band sat on the end. I heated the band with a lighter and pressed it onto the shank end. It bound the cracks together and the shank was solid. I put the stem on the shank and took photos of the finished repair. I polished the smooth briar on the two rings around the bowl and the surface of the nickel band with micromesh sanding pads. I choose to dry sand the briar rather than wet sand it. Again it is a matter of personal preference. I prefer to use the pads dry and find they work very well on the briar. I sand with each pad (9 in total) and group them by threes for ease of reference. I wipe the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding debris and check the briar. I love seeing the developing shine on the briar as I move through the pads which is why I include so many photos of this step. I applied some Before & After Restoration Balm to the briar. It is a paste/balm that is rubbed into the surface of the briar – both smooth and rusticated finishes. The product works to deep clean the nooks and crannies of finish, enliven and protect the briar. I worked it into the briar with my finger tips and a horse hair shoe brush. I let it sit for 10 minutes to do its work. I wiped it off with a soft cloth then buffed it with a cotton cloth. The briar really began to have a deep shine in the briar and the grain shone through. The photos I took of the bowl at this point mark the progress in the restoration. It is a gorgeous pipe. I set the bowl aside and turn to work on the stem. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit sanding pads and water to wet sand the stem. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil on a cotton rag after each sanding pads. But I find it does two things – first it gives some protection to the stem from oxidation and second it give the sanding pads bite in the polishing process. After finishing with the micromesh pads I rub the stem down with Before & After Fine and Extra Fine stem polish as it seems to really remove the fine scratches in the vulcanite. I rub the Fine Polish on the stem and wipe it off with a paper towel and then repeat the process with the Extra Fine polish. I finish the polishing of the stem down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set the stem aside to let the oil absorb. This process gives the stem a shine and also a bit of protection. The final steps in my process involve using the buffer. I don’t buff a rusticated pipe with Blue Diamond as it can build up in the deep grooves of the finish. I used it on the stem and find that it works very well to polish out the light scratches in the vulcanite. I moved on to buffing the pipe – I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I have found that I can get a deeper shine if I follow up the wax buff with a clean buffing pad. It works to raise the shine and then I hand buff with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. It is always fun for me to see what the polished bowl looks like with the polished vulcanite stem. It really is a nice little pipe. The rusticated finish around the bowl sides and shank looks great with the rich black and dark brown stains. The Heritage Embassy 98S Straight Bulldog feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inch, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.27 ounces/36 grams. It is a beautiful pocket sized pipe that I will soon be adding to the rebornpipes store in the American Pipemakers section. If you would like to add it to your collection let me know. It should be a great smoking pipe.
Hopefully the style of writing of this blog is helpful to you in some way. In it I wanted to show both what I am looking for and how I move forward in addressing what I see when work on a pipe. Let me know if it is helpful to you. It is probably the most straightforward detailed description of my work process that I have written. As always I encourage your questions and comments as you read the blog. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipe men and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of those who follow us.