Tag Archives: Hilson pipes

Righting a Wrong- Restemming a Hilson “Viva” # 278 Freehand Pipe


Blog by Paresh

This pipe had been purchased by me on eBay many eons ago and was the first pipe for me from the web store. I had this pipe in my rotation when it fell out of favor after I got a few pipes from Steve and I had commenced my journey in to the world of restoring my huge cache of inherited pipes. I felt that this pipe just did not smoke right, but what was the issue never crossed my mind and neither did I put my mind to it since I now had other pipes to enjoy!!

When Steve had visited me last year, we went through the entire pipe collection and this particular pipe caught Steve’s attention. He immediately remarked that the stem was not the right one for this pipe!! It was a replacement stem and a poorly executed job. With the problem diagnosed in a jiffy, we went about identifying a suitable stem for replacing the one currently on the pipe, which was by the way, also in a jiffy!! We found one and the pipe was soon consigned to oblivion. However, this time around after having recently worked on a stem replacement project, I decided to complete the replacement on this Hilson pipe as well. Here are a few pictures of the pipe with the stem that was replaced by the Seller. This pipe has Cutty-like foot, a Dublin like taper from the top of the rim to the foot of the stummel and the front rim top has a pronounced backward rake towards the shank. These features and for the lack of a defined shape, I rather prefer to call it a freehand. The stummel has very shallow sandblasted surface all around with a smooth shank bottom which bears the stampings seen on this pipe. It is stamped on bottom smooth surface of the shank as “HILSON” over “VIVA” in block letters with the shape number “# 278” stamped towards the stummel. The right side of the shank is stamped with COM stamp “BELGIUM” towards the shank end. The stampings are crisp and clear.I looked for information on this brand on rebornpipes.com. The information contained therein is both informative and an interesting read. Given below is the link to the write up;

https://rebornpipes.com/2016/06/11/restoring-my-paris-finds-a-pair-of-hilson-double-ecume-sandblast-pipes/

I visited pipedia.org to see if could learn more about this brand. I learned that this pipe was well respected brand in 1960s- 70s as makers of good quality pipes at very moderate prices which traced it’s roots way back to 1846 in the City of Bree!!! The brand faced financial crisis in the 1980s and was brought over by Elbert Gubbels & Zonen B.V. in the Netherlands. Here is the link to the web page;

https://pipedia.org/wiki/Hilson

The information gleaned from the two write ups makes me certain that the Hilson VIVA pipe that I am working on is Pre 1980s.

Initial Visual Inspection
This pipe has been with me for many years and at one point in time was an integral part of my pipe rotation. However the lure of new got the better of me and in my exuberance to try out the newer additions to my pipe collection, this pipe kept falling further and further down the pile. So when Steve suggested replacing the stem, I got this pipe out of oblivion. The stummel has a shallow sandblasted surface that has accumulated a little dust and dirt in the crevices of the sandblast. The left side of the stummel has a few fills and probably, I think, is the reason for the stummel to be sandblasted. Once the stummel surface has been thoroughly cleaned and the fills exposed, will I decided to refresh these fills or let them be. Before being stowed away, the chamber and the mortise had been completely reamed and cleaned. However, with passage of time, the mortise and the chamber walls are covered in dust and coupled with the high moisture content in the atmosphere, has coated the walls in a thin layer of grime. There is an even layer of thin coat of dust that has hardened over the thick chamber walls. The rim top surface shows very shallow sandblast and was cleaned earlier by me. It is now that I have observed a fill on the left side that runs from the inner to outer edge (indicated by indigo arrows). Both the inner and the outer rim edges are sans damage. The inner walls of the chamber are solid and thick. The chamber odors are mild. The draught hole is dead center and at the bottom of the chamber and coupled with the new stem that would replace the old one, makes me believe that the smoking quality of this pipe should improve manifolds. Further cleaning of the chamber and mortise should completely eliminate the ghost smells from the chamber.The Process
The first issue to be addressed in this project was to replace the previously poorly executed stem replacement job. The whistling sound emanating from the shank when air was drawn from the stem was a pointer that the alignment of the stem air way and mortise/ draught hole was skewed. I tried the pipe cleaner test and it was with great effort and maneuvering that the pipe cleaner came out through the draught hole. Steve and I had selected a pearly variegated acrylic saddle stem with swirls of light browns and grays as a replacement stem for this pipe. It was decided that this saddle stem be modified in to a military mount stem with the tenon seating as close to the walls of the mortise as possible. Here is how the pipe looks with this pearly saddle stem. The tenon would need to be sanded down for it to seat in to the mortise and this would be the trickiest part of this stem replacement. I would have to be very careful to sand it evenly and equally from all around and ensuring this while sanding down manually and eyeballing the evenness is not as easy as it would be while using a tenon turning tool (which I am still on a lookout for at a good price!!).   The replacement pearly variegated acrylic saddle stem too came with its own set of damages. The stem was badly damaged with heavy and deep tooth indentations in the bite zone over the upper stem surface. The button edge on the upper stem surface is also deformed with heavy tooth indentations. The lower stem surface, in addition to the tooth chatter, had a large chunk of the surface chewed off from the bite zone including the button. The bite zone on either surface is covered in a thick layer of calcification, probably a result of using a rubber bit. The stem airway appears BLACK and completely clogged with accumulated saliva, oils and tars. The tenon end and horizontal slot are clogged with gunk. The bite zone and buttons on either surfaces will have to be reconstructed and reshaped. The airway will be a bear to clean. Only after the stem has been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, the issue of seating of the stem in to the mortise will be dealt with. I cleaned the external surface of the stem with a Scotch Brite pad and liquid dish washing soap. Once the external surfaces were clean, I cleaned the stem internals with a small shank brush and liquid dish soap. I gently scraped out the gunk and grime from the tenon and slot openings with my fabricated knife and dental tools. I thoroughly rinsed the stem surface and internals under warm running water till the stem was sparkling clean. I have realized that using small shank brush and liquid soap reduces consumption of pipe cleaners by about 85%. This is considerable savings considering that I pay thrice the cost of pipe cleaners on cost of shipping!! Next, I ran a couple of dry pipe cleaners through the stem to clean and dry it out. I avoid using isopropyl alcohol in cleaning stem air way just to guard it against crazing (call it my paranoia to use alcohol on an acrylic or Perspex stem!!). The stem surface, tenon end, slot and the air way is now clean. After about an hour of cleaning and ton of elbow grease, I can now handle this stem without any disgust!! I shall first adjust the tenon to achieve a snug seating in to the mortise and thereafter manipulate the saddle portion of the stem to achieve the taper for a military mount style stem. I mounted a 150 grit sanding drum on to my hand held rotary tool and sand down the tenon till I had achieved a rough seating of the tenon in to the mortise. My previous experience has taught me an invaluable lesson; “SAND ONCE AND CHECK TWICE”!! Once I had achieved a rough seating, I got down to the arduous and time consuming task of manually sanding down the tenon with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper till I had achieved a perfect seating of the tenon in to the mortise. Here I was extra careful and vigilant while sanding the sides of the tenon and frequently checked the alignment of the stem airway with the shank airway and finally the draught hole. Excess sanding of any one side of the tenon disturbs this alignment even though the seating may appear to be snug and seamless. I gave final check to progress being made and the seating was perfectly snug and seamless with all the airways perfectly aligned. I am very happy with the progress until now!!Next step was to shape the saddle portion to resemble a military mount style stem profile. Continuing with the same assembly of sanding drum and rotary tool used for tenon turning, I gradually start sanding the saddle portion from the tenon end and progressively working my way upwards. I frequently checked the profile of the stem with the stummel. Here is how the pipe appears at this stage. Getting there, but not close yet!! I continued with sanding down the saddle further till I had a nice taper with the saddle edge merging with the tenon. The profile of the pipe has drastically improved and as per my mantra “LESS IS MORE”, I decided to proceed with manual sanding and shaping with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to match the surfaces and fine tune the seating of the stem in the mortise.  However, contrary to my mantra, I was still not very pleased with the stem profile. Unable to identify what exactly was amiss, I shot off a couple of pictures of the progress made to Steve and sought his advice. He suggested that I should give a bit more taper to the tenon end and it would be good. Ah…. The stem was a bit broad at the shoulders and that’s what was wrong!! I re-profiled the saddle shoulders with the 150 grit sanding drum. This now looks and feels much better and the flow of the stummel in to the stem is about perfect. Here are a couple of pictures that will give the Readers an idea of the seamless merging of the flow of the stummel in to the flow of the stem. With the profiling and seating adjustments to the stem now completed, I can turn my attention to the stem repairs. Next I inserted a pipe cleaner smeared with petroleum jelly in to the stem airway through the slot end. The coating of petroleum jelly on the pipe cleaner prevents the superglue from sticking to the pipe cleaner and seeping in to the air way and blocking it. I applied a generous coat of superglue over the bite zone, including over the buttons, on the lower surface which had a through hole and set it aside to cure. Once the fill had hardened to an extent that it was not runny, I applied a coat of superglue over the upper surface and set the stem aside for the fills to harden completely. Once the fill has hardened, I shall file and sand the fills to match the surface of the stem and sharpen the button edges on either surface.  While the stem fills and repairs were curing, I worked on the stummel by reaming the chamber with my fabricated knife to remove the remaining carbon deposit and the hardened coat of dust and grime. Once the cake was reamed back to the bare briar, I used a 150 grit sand paper followed by 220 grit sand paper to remove all the traces of remaining cake and also to smooth out the inner walls of the chamber surface. Finally, to remove the residual carbon dust, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. The chamber walls are sans any damage. The outer and inner rim edge is in great shape. The rim top surface is in decent condition, save for the fill on the left side. The ghost smells are greatly reduced and may be eliminated after the shank/ mortise are thoroughly cleaned. With the bowl internals clean, I move to clean the exterior of the stummel. I used a hard bristled tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil soap to scrub the stummel and rim top. After the scrub with oil soap, I washed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the stummel surface was clean and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. The stummel surface has cleaned up nicely with the beautiful shallow sandblast patterns on full display. There are two major fills that would need to be refreshed; one on the rim top surface and the other on the left stummel surface. The ghost smells are completely eliminated and the pipe now smells fresh, odorless and clean. The shank air way is nice and open. I am sure that the pipe will turn out to be a fantastic smoker with a full wide and open draw. Next I addressed the issues of the two fills in the stummel surface. With a sharp dental tool, I gouged out the fill to the left side and one on the rim surface. Using the layering method, I filled these gouges with a mix of briar dust and CA superglue till the mound of the mix was slightly above the rest of the stummel surface. This helps in a better blending of the fill with the rest of the stummel surface while sanding and reduces the scratches caused by the use of a needle file as you have a correct perspective of the sanding that is required. I set the stummel aside for the fills to cure. While the stummel fills were set aside to cure, the next afternoon, I worked on the stem fills which had cured completely. With a flat head needle file, I worked on the filling till I had achieved a rough match with the surrounding surface and had sufficiently sharpened the button edges. I further sand the fills with a piece of 180 grit sand paper to achieve a better match. I used a slot file to even out the horizontal slot edges and widen it a bit. I am very happy with the stem profiling and repairs at this stage in restoration and also the buttons now have a nice crisp edge to them.   Thereafter, I began the process of final fine tuning of the seating of the stem in to the mortise, shaping the saddle for a sharper military mount look and bringing a nice shine to the surface by sanding with 320, 600, 800 and 1000 grit sandpapers. The technique that I used is very simple; sand one side, check the seating and if the seating is not snug, sand the relevant side and continue to do so till I achieved a snug airtight fit. The closer I came to the perfect fit, the higher grit sand paper I used. A lot of patient and diligent work, I reached the point where I felt “ no more sanding… this is the perfect seating and perfect military mount profile!!”. My mantra “LESS IS MORE” was also playing at the back of my mind. I had simultaneously sanded the entire stem surface through all the above mentioned grit sand papers. I was very pleased with my efforts as I had achieved a perfect snug seating of the stem in to the mortise while being able to maintain the semblance of a military mount stem!! To bring a deep shine to the acrylic stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit sandpapers. I wiped the stem with moist cloth after each pad. At the end of micromesh cycle, I polished the stem with “Before and After Fine & Extra Fine” paste. The finished stem is shown below.With the stem re-profiling and repairs completed, I turned to the stummel repairs. The fills had cured nicely and using a flat head needle file, I sand the fill till I had achieved a rough match with the surrounding stummel surface. I sand the fills with a piece of 220 grit sand paper to further blend in the fills with the stummel surface. Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar and in to the crevices of the sandblast with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful sandblast patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The contrast of the lighter browns of the sandblast with the natural patina of the rest of the stummel adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel.  To check and verify the correctness of the alignment of the stem airway, the tenon opening, shank/ mortise airway and finally through the draught hole, I did the PIPE CLEANER TEST.  The pipe cleaner passed through cleanly and without any obstruction from the slot end right through the draught hole.   I have now reached the homestretch in this restoration project. To complete the restoration, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks from the stem surface that remain from the sanding. I mounted another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and is ready to move on to another piper to be enjoyed for a long time. P.S. The finished pipe really looks amazing and with the thick chamber walls, a perfect wide open draw with perfectly aligned airway, this will definitely be a fantastic smoker. The pearly variegated acrylic saddle stem has a nice pearly sheen to it and the swirls of browns and grays add to the visual drama. The rebuilt lower bite zone does show sign of repairs, but it always does with acrylic stems. The beautiful pearl white of the stem appears yellowish in the above pictures and also the background does change in couple of photographs. This is so because of the reflection of light from the prop that is being used. I still need to work on my photography skill set in order to highlight the beauty of the finished pipes!!

Any reader interested to add this beauty to their collection, may please let Steve know and this pipe can be shipped to you from across the seas to be enjoyed for years to come.

A note of thanks to all the readers who have joined me in this journey that has been such a pleasure! You and your loved ones are always in our prayers…

Restoring a Strangely Shaped Hilson Dromedary with an Oval Shank


Blog by  Steve Laug

My friend Alex stops by now and then with pipes that he has found on his pipe hunts in the city. Generally he has some very interesting pipes he picks up on these hunts. The other night when he came by he brought along a strange one made by Hilson after they had moved to Holland. It is called a Dromedary.    I suppose it was named after the Arabian one-humped camel that was a light and swift breed trained for riding or racing. When I was in Jaipur, India I saw Dromedary camels pulling carts and wagons in the streets of the fabric district (see the photo to the left). The single hump clearly distinguishes them from the other 2 humped camel.

This Hilson was obviously named after that work animal from the East. The single hump on the shank while at first glance is ugly nonetheless fits nicely as a thumb rest for either right or left handed pipe smokers. I cannot find a timeline for the duration of the brand but I have seen them on EBay and other sale sites so I am assuming there are enough of them out there to still be in existence. It is the first one that I have had in hand and the first one that I have worked on. I took photos of the pipe before I started my cleanup work on it. They show the general condition of the pipe.

The finish on the bowl is very dirty and grimy but you can see some interesting cross grain left side of the bowl working down to the underside of the shank. The back of the bowl show some of the same grain and on the sides there is a mix of birdseye and swirled grain. On the right side there is a small fill that has come loose from the briar leaving behind a divot. The rim top is very dirty with a thick coat of lava overflowing from the bowl. It also shows some damage on the inner edge – it looks to have been reamed with a knife and the gouges show even under the grime. There is a burn mark on the back ride side of the rim and going down the back of the bowl about a ¼ inch. The bowl has a thick cake that is uneven all around the bowl. The stamping on the shank is readable and the area around it is very dark. The stem is oxidized and dirty. There is a slight H mark on the top side near the shank stem junction but it is pretty shallow in the vulcanite.

The next closeup photos of the bowl and stem truly show the condition of the pipe before I started.You can see the lava build up and damage to the rim top as well as the cake in the bowl. The bowl had a fairly thick cake overflowing onto the rim. The stem was very oxidized and spotty with tooth chatter and marks on both the top and underside of the stem near the button. There is a faint Hilson H logo stamped on the top of the oval stem. I do not know if it is deep enough to salvage.

The pipe has some nice cross grain that is shown in the first photo of the left side of the bowl. The right side is a mix of grains – swirled, flame and cross grain. The top and underside of the bowl and shank show some interesting, almost undulating grain patterns. This is particularly visible on the top view moving up and over the hump. It is a great piece of briar that shows a lot of promise.

The pipe is stamped on the underside of the oval shank. It reads Hilson over Dromedary over Made in Holland. At the shank/stem junction it has the shape number stamp 712.The photo below shows that the stamping is readable. (The second photo shows the stamping after I had removed the dark stain and polished it carefully with the 1500-2400 micromesh sanding pads.)

It has been awhile since I worked on a Hilson so I did a quick review of the history of the brand. This always adds some value to my mind when I work on a pipe. I remembered at some point Hilson had been sold to Gubbels who made the Big Ben pipe. At that time, it moved from being a Belgian made pipe to being made in the Netherlands/Holland. I turned to Pipedia and read the entry on Hilson there(https://pipedia.org/wiki/Hilson)and to Pipephil’s site to read what he had for information (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-h3.html).I have combined and summarized the pertinent information from the two sites.

In 1846 a German named Jean Knödgen started to produce clay pipe in Belgium. In the late 19th century Jean Hillen who married into the Knödgen family took over the company and changed the firm in order to manufacture briar pipes. Jean Hillen had 2 sons: Jos Hillen was responsible for sales and Albert Hillen was responsible for the production.After WWII Albert founded the HILSON brand (Hillen and Son) and exported his pipes all over the world.

…In the 1960’s and still throughout the 1970’s the brand Hilson of Broers Hillen B.V. (Hillen Bros. Co.) was quite successful in many European countries. They produced large numbers of machine made pipes covering the whole range of shapes and finishes. The pipes were well respected for good quality and craftsmenship at very moderate prices.

…in 1980 Hillen faced major financial problems. After having gone bankrupt, the Belgian brand from Bree (Limburg) wastaken over by the Royal Dutch Pipe Factory. The owner, Elbert Gubbels used the favour of the hour and bought the company…The Hillen plant in Bree was closed down shortly after and ever since then Hilson pipes are manufactured in Roermond, NL.

Given that the plant in Bree, Belgium closed around 1980 after Gubbels had purchased the company, I knew that the pipe I was working on had been made after that time.The Made in Holland stamp on the underside of the shank gave that information.I am not sure that I can get any closer in terms of a date for the pipe.

I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer to remove the cake and cleaned up after the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife (no photo, sorry!). I wrapped 220 sandpaper around a piece of dowel and sanded the inside of the bowl.

I topped the bowl on a piece of 220 grit sandpaper on the topping board. I scrubbed the finish with a cotton pad and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grit and grime. I scrubbed the rim top at the same time to remove the sanding dust. I rinsed the bowl under running water and dried it off. The grain really is quite beautiful at this point in the process. There are some repairs that need to be done on the right side of the bowl but the bowl shows a lot of promise.

I sanded the burn mark on the back side of the bowl and filled in the damaged fill on the right side with a mix of super glue and briar dust. When the glue dried I sanded the repair with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the area into the rest of the briar surface. I apologize because I was on a roll so I forgot to take photos of the repairs. I wiped down the bowl with an alcohol dampened cotton pad to remove the sanding dust and smooth out the finish. The grain is looking really good. The burn mark, though still visible is better. The repaired area is also far better.

I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads –wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads.I wiped the bowl down with a damp cotton pad after each grit of micromesh was finished. The bowl is beginning to take on a real shine and the grain is becoming more prominent.

With the bowl polished it was time to address the lighter rim top and the repairs to the burn and the fill on the rear and right side respectively (result of sanding). I used an Oak Stain Pen to touch up the areas and darken them to match the rest of the bowl. Once the stain dried the match was really good and the pipe looked better.

I worked Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the wood. I let the balm sit for about 20 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl looked like. The grain is quite beautiful and the colour of the briar is perfect to highlight it. I am happy with the look of the pipe.

I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. It was pretty rough looking and would take some work. I sanded the surface carefully with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter, marks and oxidation. While I worked on it I noticed I had not cleaned the inside of the stem and went back and looked at the shank and bowl… my goodness I totally forgot to even touch that part after reaming the bowl. I brought the stem sanding to a halt and turned back to cleaning up the internals. I cleaned out the airway in the stem and shank as well as the mortise with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. It was really a mess. I picked out the crud in the corners of the stem with a dental pick. Here are some photos of the cleanup. I feel better about the pipe now! Whew I can’t believe I missed that… been a hard week.

I returned to sand the stem some more. I was able to remove all of the chatter and all but one of the deep tooth marks on the underside of the stem. I heated it a little to raise it then filled it in with some clear super glue and set it aside to cure.

When the repair had cured I used a needle file to flatten the repaired area. I smoothed out and blend it into the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper.

I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and then polished it with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish.

I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it further with Before& After Pipe Polish, using both the Fine and Extra Fine polishes to furtherprotect and polish out the scratches. When I finished with those I gave it afinal rub down with the oil and set it aside to dry. 

With the stem polished I put it back on the pipe and buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This Hilson Dromedary 712 will soon going back to Alex. The dimensions are Length: 5 3/4 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. I am looking forward to seeing what Alex thinks of this one. I will be calling him soon to come and pick up the pair. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this old dromedary.

One Seriously Frustrating Refurb – a Broken Down Hilson Fantasia 206 Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

The last of Steve’s pipes the remained for me to work on was a Hilson Fantasia. It is a Dublin shaped pipe made of resin with a meerschaum insert. It has a yellow coloured bowl and shank with swirls of green that are scattered throughout the pipe. When Steve sent me the box of pipes to work on I told him this one was not worth the effort to clean it up. It was in really rough shape on both the stem and the bowl insert. But in the end I decided to clean it and the Pipe just so he could see what these resin bowl pipes were like. I have cleaned a few of these up over the years that have almost psychedelic patterns in the resin. They are really a product of the 60s and 70s in my opinion. I took the following photos of the pipe before I started the clean up to show the general condition and give you some idea why I said the pipe was not worth cleaning up. The pipe really was in rough condition. The meerschaum bowl was not readily identifiable and there was major damage to the rim top. There chunks of the inner bowl missing from the top at the back edge of the bowl. There was a seriously thick cake in the bowl that was fuzzy with dust and debris. The outer resin bowl was covered with a layer of lava. The stem would not fit in the shank the way it was supposed to which signaled that the shank was cake with about as much debris and the bowl. The stem was oxidized and there were tooth marks on both the top and the underside at the button. The button itself was worn away and no longer clearly defined. The outer resin bowl was in pretty good shape with no deep scratches or gouges. I was hoping that once I reamed the bowl it would be intact lower down. I was basing that hope on the fact that Hilson used block meerschaum and not pressed meerschaum for their bowls. That made the quality of the lining far better and I have rarely seen a Hilson meerschaum lining cracked or broken.The next two photos show the stamping on the pipe. On the underside of the shank it is stamped Belgium and on the right side it is stamped with the shape number 206. The normal stamping on the stem was long gone. So it no longer read Hilson Fantasia. For the identity I am going with the stamping that is visible, the shape and material of the pipe for calling it a Hilson Fantasia.The photos of the stem show the condition of the oxidation and tooth marks on the surface as well as the worn condition of the button.I had previously researched the Hilson Fantasia for a blog I already did on a previous restoration. (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/07/05/is-it-really-a-plastic-smoking-pipe-what-is-a-hilson-fantasia/) On that blog I wrote of what I had found out about the brand. I had learned that the Hilson Fantasia was made in Belgium as this one was stamped. It originally came out as a meerschaum lined pipe with an outer bowl made of a new material that they called pipenite. From what I can find out about the material they call pipenite, it was a specially designed polyester resin. It was light weight and fairly indestructible. The block meerschaum insert was something that Hilson turned into a specialty. I had found a catalogue page on Chris’ Pipe pages, http://pipepages.com/hilson.htm that confirmed my guess regarding the 60s/70s look of the pipe. I have once again included a catalogue page from a 1962 Wally Frank Catalogue that was on the pipepages site. The write up on the Hilson Fantasia is entertaining to read in terms of the sales pitch that is delivered.I have also written about some of the history of the brand on a previous blog on Hilson Double Ecume pipes. If you are interested in reading about the history of the brand click on the following link: https://wordpress.com/post/rebornpipes.com/40547. In addition the following link on the Estervals Pipe House website gives a good summary of the history of the brand for those of you who want to read more: http://www.tecon-gmbh.de/info_pages.php?pages_id=70.

Now for the cleanup of the Fantasia! I carefully reamed the bowl with the smallest cutting head of the PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the inside of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe knife. I say carefully because I did not want to damage the meerschaum insert in the bowl but I wanted to remove the rock hard cake in the bowl.I topped the bowl carefully using a medium and a fine grit sanding pad. I wanted to smooth out the surface of the rim and remove the lava that was on top. I wanted to remove the lip of lava that had formed on the top of the bowl. The second photo below shows the cleaned rim top and also the damage that was very evident at the back edge of the bowl and around the sides. I cleaned out the shank of the pipe with a thin pen knife to scrape away the hardened tars that lined the inside walls. I followed that with a sanding stick and many pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol before the shank was clean.The inner edge of the bowl was pitted and uneven so I sanded it with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it out and to clean up the damaged area at the back of the bowl. It was not perfect but it looked better than when I started.I took the stem out of the Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and wiped it down with a cotton pad. I cleaned out the inside of the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol to remove the left over deoxidizer. The photos below show that it removed most of the oxidation but there were some stubborn spots left. The tooth dents are also very clear in the next photos of the stem. I wiped the stem down with alcohol and filled in the dents with a black super glue. I set the stem aside to let the repairs cure. When the glue had cured I worked on the fit of the stem in the shank. The tenon was still too big for the stem to sit properly in the shank so I sanded it down with 220 grit sandpaper. There were some high spots on the tenon that needed to be rounded out and cleaned up. Once that was completed the stem fit perfectly.Once the fit of the stem was correct, I turned to work on the stem itself. I wanted to blend the patched areas into the surface of the stem and also recut and redefine the button with needle files. I used a knife-edge needle file to redefine the sharp edge of the button and give it form. I also used it to flatten out the repaired areas on both sides of the stem.I smoothed out the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper and worked to blend them into the surface of the stem. I was a little concerned in that the repairs seemed to look almost red against the surface of the still oxidized vulcanite. I would have to work that to see if I could blend it in more. At worse the repairs will show but the pipe will be smokable.Now the frustration heightened – I really should have listened to my initial thoughts on this pipe. It was not worth working on. But I did not listen and now one of the reasons became more apparent. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads. The more I polished them the more the two repaired spots on the top of the stem showed a red colour. I have never had that happen before. I cleaned the stems before patching them with alcohol and dried them off. I used black super glue for the repairs, like I have many times before. Yet this time the repairs show a red tint. I have no idea what is going on with this repair. Fortunately it is one that I am calling finished. It was just a quick clean up on a badly damaged pipe. The stem is functionally very good just those spots are irritating. I used micromesh sanding pads to polish the stem – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad and set it aside to dry after the 12000 grit pad. I was irritated with the way the pipe looked – both bowl and stem. They were ragged looking still and even though they were better they were not what I like to see in a finished pipe. I was finished though as I decided that more work would not improve the damaged pipe. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I hoped that the buffing might blend the repairs into the surface of the stem. While they certainly looked better they still showed. The overall look of the pipe was much better than when I started. The damage to the back side top edge of the meerschaum bowl liner was significant but the pipe was still able to be smoked. It was clean and would certainly make a workable yard pipe. I have boxed the pipe with the rest of Steve’s pipes and have them packed and ready to send to Dawson Creek. I am hoping he enjoys the lot and gives them a good workout in the days ahead. Thanks for looking.

 

A Simple Refresh on a Belgian Made Hilson Bolero Oval Shank Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

Sometimes it seems like I get lucky and get a pipe from my brother that needs very little work. After Jeff has reamed and cleaned it, I receive it and a simple refresh brings it back to a new looking pipe. It does not happen very often and when I look at them in the pre-clean photos it is somewhat unpredictable what lies beneath the sheer filth and ugliness. You can guess a little bit from the condition of the edges of the bowl and the stem. You can get a feel from the thickness and composition of the cake what kind of tobacco had been smoked in the bowl and the smell of the pipe usually confirms the feeling. In this case the pipe that surprised me was a Hilson Bolero oval shank Billiard. In the photos it appeared to be in far worse condition that it was once Jeff cleaned it up. The photos below show what the pipe looked like when Jeff brought it home from our virtual pipe hunt in Montana.It was definitely newer than many of the pipes we found that day. The photos tell the story of its condition but I will summarize it here. The bowl had a fairly thick cake with lava overflowing onto the rim. It had a nice sandblast finish that makes me think of Stanwell pipes that must be from the same time period. The finish appeared to be in good shape other than the dirt and grime of the years in the grooves and grain of the blast. The stem was slightly oxidized and there was tooth chatter on both the top and underside of the stem near the button. The next two close up photos of the bowl show the cake and the lava buildup on the rim top. It appeared that the inner and outer edges of the bowl were in good condition. No glaring damage to those spots showed in the pictures. The pipe has some nice grain that is highlighted by the sandblast. There are two smooth panels – one on each side of the bowl providing a nice contrast. The difference adds a visual and tactile variation on the pipe.The pipe is stamped in a smooth section on the underside of the oval shank. On the left end it reads 8 which is the shape number. That is followed by the brand name Hilson over the line name Bolero. To the right end of the shank near the shank/stem junction it reads made in Belgium. The photos below show that the stamping is very clean and readable. The sandblast cuts through portions of the stamping but does not ruin it.The stem was rough to the touch but the issue was mainly oxidation on the surfaces. There was some visible tooth chatter on the stem, but it is quite easy to address. I was very glad that it was in good condition.Before I started the refresh of the pipe, I did a quick review of the history of the brand because I like having that information in mind when I work on a pipe. I remembered at some point Hilson had been sold to Gubbels who made the Big Ben pipe. At that time, it moved from being a Belgian made pipe to being made in the Netherlands. I turned to Pipedia and read the entry on Hilson there (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Hilson) and to Pipephil’s site to read what he had for information (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-h3.html). I have combined and summarized the pertinent information from the two sites.

In 1846 a German named Jean Knödgen started to produce clay pipe in Belgium. In the late 19th century Jean Hillen who married into the Knödgen family took over the company and changed the firm in order to manufacture briar pipes. Jean Hillen had 2 sons: Jos Hillen was responsible for sales and Albert Hillen was responsible for the production. After WWII Albert founded the HILSON brand (Hillen and Son) and exported his pipes all over the world.

In the 1960’s and still throughout the 1970’s the brand Hilson of Broers Hillen B.V. (Hillen Bros. Co.) was quite successful in many European countries. They produced large numbers of machine made pipes covering the whole range of shapes and finishes. The pipes were well respected for good quality and craftsmenship at very moderate prices.

…in 1980 Hillen faced major financial problems. After having gone bankrupt, the Belgian brand from Bree (Limburg) was taken over by the Royal Dutch Pipe Factory. The owner, Elbert Gubbels used the favour of the hour and bought the company…The Hillen plant in Bree was closed down shortly after and ever since then Hilson pipes are manufactured in Roermond, NL.

Given that the plant in Bree, Belgium closed around 1980 after Gubbels had purchased the company, I knew that the pipe I was working on had been made prior to that time. The Made in Belgium stamp on the underside of the shank gave that information. I am not sure that I can get any closer in terms of a date for the pipe.

On this pipe, my brother’s cleanup work was the lion’s share of what needed to be done to revitalize it. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer to remove the cake and cleaned up after the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. He scrubbed the finish with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grit and grime. He scrubbed the rim top and was able to loosen the debris that had built up there. He rinsed the bowl under running water and dried it off. He soaked the stem in OxiClean to raise the oxidation to the surface. He scrubbed out the airway in the bowl, shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. When I received the pipe I was amazed at how good it looked. The stem would need some attention but that was about it. The bowl could be waxed and buffed with little other work. Jeff had done a great job. I took photos of what the pipe looked like when it arrived in Vancouver. I took a close up photo of the rim to show the condition. There was a spot on the inner edge of the back portion of the rim that looked damaged. I would need to work that spot over to ensure that it was cleaned up. I also took a photo of the underside of the shank to show the stamping on that portion of the pipe. You can see how the stamping that I mentioned above was laid out on the shank bottom.I took photos of the stem to show its general condition as well. The stem was oxidized but there were no tooth marks on either side. It was clean other than the oxidation.I put the stem in the Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer solution that I spoke of in the previous blog on the Borlum pipe. I purchased the Deoxidizer from a guy on Facebook. His name is Mark Hoover and he is on the Gentlemen’s Pipe Smoking Society Group on Facebook. He has a pen making site where you can email and order the deoxidizer and the polishes (http://www.lbepen.com/). This is the second time that I have used like Mark suggested. I immersed the stem in the Deoxidizer to soak. The Deoxidizer will do its work and leave the stem oxidation free. I have to admit I was a little less skeptical than I was before set the stem in the container of solution to soak overnight.I turned my attention to the bowl. I used a small piece of sandpaper and a brass bristle brush to clean off the charred build up on the back inner edge of the rim. I then rubbed the bowl down with some olive oil on a paper towel and set it aside to soak in overnight. I called it an evening and went to bed. In the morning I took the stem out of the Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer soak and wiped off the excess fluid. It is quite sticky so it is a bit of work to wipe it free and dry off the stem. Once I got it dried off I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil and let it dry for a few moments.Once it had dried I began the polishing of the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and wiped it down after each micromesh sanding pad. I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish out the scratches in the vulcanite and give a shine to the sandblast finish. I worked on the inner edge with the buffer and the Blue Diamond and cleaned up the damaged area to blend it in more with the rest of the rim edge. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are length: 6 inches, height: 2 inches, bowl diameter: 1 3/8 inches, chamber diameter: ¾ inches. I will be posting it on the rebornpipes store if you are interested in adding this beauty to your rack. You can email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

 

 

 

 

 

Is it really a plastic smoking pipe? What is a Hilson Fantasia?


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is a Hilson Fantasia. It is a butterscotch coloured bowl and shank with swirls of black that are scattered throughout the pipe. When I saw the pictures in the eBay seller’s listing I was not sure it was worth the effort. Over the years I have seen some beautiful swirled patterns in bright yellows, puce and lime greens, reds and oranges that were quite stunning. This one fell short of those previously seen pipes in terms of colour (at least in the photos). The following photos are from the seller’s ad.Fan1The resin external bowl was in excellent shape with no cuts, marks or dents in the surface. The meerschaum insert was barely smoked. The rim had some darkening and overflow on the back edge but it was not too bad. The rest of the rim looked rough but would easily polish up and look good. The bottom half of the bowl was not darkened by tobacco burning and looked almost pristine. The fact that Hilson used block meerschaum and not pressed meerschaum for their bowls makes the quality of the lining far better and I have rarely seen a Hilson meerschaum lining cracked or broken. The stem was quite heavily oxidized and the tenon would not fit in the shank due to some residue in the mortise. The stamping “Hilson Fantasia” on the stem was a decal and it was almost worn off. With the heavy oxidation I would have to sacrifice that faint stamping to get the stem back to black. There was some light tooth chatter on the top and underside of the stem near the button. The slot in the button was very small and tight. That made it hard to push a pipe cleaner through the stem from the button end.Fan2 Fan3When I received the pipe from my brother I was pleasantly surprised at the colours. It was significantly brighter than the photos. The swirls of black against the amber colour looked much more appealing than I would have guessed. The bowl was stamped on the underside of the shank with the word BELGIUM and on the right side of the shank with the shape number 205.Fan4Fan5 From my research on the web I found that the Hilson Fantasia, made in Belgium originally came out as a meerschaum lined pipe with an outer bowl made of a new material that they called pipenite. In 1962 it came out in what they called ivory white and in a colour they called tortoise. In 1963 they seemed to have added the option of a black pipenite bowl. From what I can find out about the material they call pipenite, it was a specially designed polyester resin. It was light weight and fairly indestructible. The block meerschaum insert was something that Hilson turned into a specialty. (I have restored some beautiful briar pipe with the Double Ecume or meerschaum liners as well.) These colourful resin pipes look like a product of the 60’s and in my research on Chris’ Pipe pages, http://pipepages.com/hilson.htm I found them in catalogues from that era. The swirled materials of the bowl gave the pipe a 60’s psychedelic look. I have included a catalogue page from a 1962 Wally Frank Catalogue that was on the pipepages site. The write up on the Hilson Fantasia is entertaining to read in terms of the sales pitch that is delivered.Fan7 I have written about some of the history of the brand on a previous blog on Hilson Double Ecume pipes. If you are interested in reading about the history of the brand click on the following link: https://wordpress.com/post/rebornpipes.com/40547. In addition the following link on the Estervals Pipe House website gives a good summary of the history of the brand for those of you who want to read more: http://www.tecon-gmbh.de/info_pages.php?pages_id=70.

I took some close up photos of the rim to show the white bowl bottom and the tars and darkening on the top of the rim. The inner edge of the bowl is rough to touch as is the surface of the rim. I also took a photo of the front and the back of the bowl to show the swirls in amber base colour. There is something stunning about this pipe.Fan8 Fan9 Fan10The next two photos show the tooth chatter and the oxidation on the stem – top and bottom as well as the faded and worn decal that reads Hilson Fantasia.Fan11I scrubbed the surface of the rim with saliva on a cotton pad and then used the 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to smooth out the surface and the inner edge of the rim.Fan12I carefully scraped the meerschaum lining of the bowl with a Savinelli Pipe Knife to remove the slight cake build up on the inside of the bowl.Fan13I scrubbed out the mortise and airway to the bowl with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. I used pipe cleaners and alcohol to clean out the airway in the stem as well.Fan14I sanded the stem to remove the oxidation on the surface. It took quite a bit of sanding to get through the oxidation on the surface. Once I had it removed I scrubbed it with soft scrub cleanser to clean off the remnant. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and gave it a coat of Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads, gave it another coat of oil and then finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry.Fan15 Fan16 Fan17I buffed the meerschaum rim lightly with Blue Diamond on the wheel and the stem as well. I gave the stem and the rim several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to give it a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine on the stem and the rim. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I am quite taken by the overall look of the pipe once it has been cleaned up. There is more to it than meets the eye. The light weight the swirls in the amber like resin and the patina on the rim give it a touch of class. This one will also probably be on the store for sale in the days ahead. If you are interested send me a message or leave a comment.Fan18 Fan19 Fan20 Fan21 Fan22 Fan23 Fan24 Fan25 Fan26

Cleaning up a Hilson Made in Belgium Meerlined Bulldog, Shape S60


Blog by Steve Laug

This is another pipe from the Idaho Falls antique mall. The funny thing is I went back another day to show my daughters some of the antique jewelry and did not think much of looking for more pipes as I had already cleaned out the ones I had an interest in. One of my daughters called me over to a display case where there was a pipe rest with a golden Cocker Spaniel on it. She thought it would be a great memory piece for me. I looked in the case and there on the bottom shelf was a pipe that I had not seen on the previous day. It was a nice straight Bulldog pipe. The bowl looked like it was a mess but the briar and stem looked to be in pretty good shape. I had the clerk pull it out and was surprised by the stamping on it. It read Hilson over Made in Belgium on the upper left side of the shank and Imported Briar in an arch over Block Meerschaum on the upper right side of the shank. There were some other letters underneath the arch that ran in a straight line but I could not read them without a lens. Of course I had to have the old pipe. I knew that it at least was made before Gubbels Pipe Factory in Holland bought out the Hilson brand in 1980 because of the Belgium stamping.Hilson1

Hilson2 When I got home I looked at the shank under a bright light using a lens and could see more clearly some of the marks under the arch. The arch appeared to be over stamped and underneath on the left of arch it read S and the other letters faded out. On the right side of the arch it read TYLE. I am wondering if it originally read S60 (which is the shape number that has been more recently stamped on the underside of the right side of the shank) BLOCK STYLE in a straight line over MEERSCHAUM (the center and bottom words in and under the arch). If so then when it left Belgium and headed to the USA it must have been over stamped with the arched IMPORTED BRIAR which is stamped with a slightly smaller font. I also examined the stem and found that on the underside of the right side it had a small stamped M and what looked like part of an E. All of that will remain a bit of a mystery but it makes this old pipe interesting.

The briar portion of the pipe was in pretty decent shape. I was not sure about the briar on the rim as it was pretty covered with an overflow of tars that had come up out of the bowl and over the rim. The meerschaum bowl was invisible at this point in the process. It was somewhere inside the mess but how far down I was not sure. I had no idea of the thickness of the Hilson bowls in comparison with others. The other Hilson Meerlined pipe I had did not have the lining and the briar was very thin so I was thinking that this one would be like that. The finish was dirty on the rest of the bowl but did not have any damage. The briar looked pretty decent other than a few small fills on the underside of the shank. The stem was dirty and lightly oxidized. The pipe and the stem smelled awful! The bowl smelled like old cigarettes left in an ashtray in the rain. The stem smelled like old tires with a hint of sulfur. It would take a bit of work to clean up this one without damaging the meerlined bowl.Hilson3

Hilson4From a bit of research on the web I found that the company was originally started in 1846 by a German named Jean Knödgen who produced clay pipes in Belgium. According to a note on the Pipephil website it seems that in the late 19th century Jean Hillen married into the Knödgen family and later took over the company. He changed the company from a clay pipe producer to a factory able to manufacture briar pipes. Jean Hillen had 2 sons: Jos Hillen was responsible for sales and Albert Hillen was responsible for the production. After WWII his son Albert founded the HILSON brand which was a combination of Hillen and Son and exported his pipes all over the world. The brand did very well in the 1960s and 1970s and the brand was sold throughout Germany and Europe. In 1980 the company ran into financial difficulties and was bought by the Royal Dutch Pipe Factory owned and operated by Gubbels who still makes the Big Ben pipe.

Hilson meerschaum-lined briar pipes were manufactured in Belgium at the original Hilson factory in the 1970’s and used Block Meerschaum to make the inserts for their pipes. This was much better quality than most meerschaum lined pipes. Usually the lining was made of pressed meerschaum which was made from ground up meerschaum. Block Meerschaum is carved from the meerschaum as it is mined. High quality meerschaum pipes are always made from block meerschaum.

I took the next three close-up shots to give an idea of the state of the bowl when I started. There is a hint that it is a meerschaum lined bowl when you see the line on the edge of the bowl just inside of the briar. The thick coat of carbon built up on the rim and down into the bowl made it hard to see. I was glad that this was a block meerschaum insert rather than a compressed one because there was some hope that the bottom of the bowl had not begun to disintegrate of break up. The second and third photos below give an idea of the stamping on the shank of the pipe.Hilson5

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Hilson7 The next photo shows the stinger apparatus in the tenon of the pipe. Most of the other Hilson pipes that I have worked on have an inner tube extension rather than a tenon so this was a new one to me. It is also unique among the stingers that I have seen.Hilson8 I decided to top the bowl to remove all of the carbon build-up and see what was happening with the top of the meerschaum insert and the briar rim. I knew that the cake in this one was out of control but I wanted to see if I could see the original inner line before I dealt with the cake.Hilson9 The next photo shows the topped bowl. Once I had it topped I folded a piece of sandpaper and worked at the inner edge to remove the cake. I wrapped the sandpaper around my finger after the initial sanding and went as deeply into the bowl as I could reach. There was some staining around the back and right side of the meerschaum lining where it came in contact with the briar. I think some of the tars and oils wicked into the meerlining and stained it.Hilson10 The surface of the rim was scratched from the 220 grit sandpaper so I used a medium and a fit grit sanding block and cleaned up the rim.Hilson11 The next two photos show the rim and the bowl after reaming. I reamed what I could not reach with a sharp pen knife and removed all of the cake in the bowl.Hilson12

Hilson13 I removed the stinger from the tenon. I always twist the tenon rather than just pull it in case it is threaded. In this case it came out easily enough.Hilson14 I was going to use the retort to clean this pipe but thought better of it as I did not want to soften or damage the meer liner with the alcohol. So, I resorted to the old tried and true method of cotton swabs and alcohol to clean out the shank and wipe down the inside of the bowl. It took a lot of swabs to get the shank clean. The mortise ran the length of the shank to accommodate the long stinger.HIlson15 The stem took a lot less work. After just a few pipe cleaners and alcohol the pipe cleaners came out clear.Hilson16 I scrubbed the stinger with alcohol and 0000 steel wool to remove the tars that had stained the aluminum.Hilson17 I wiped down the bowl with alcohol on cotton pads and then took the following picture to show the state of the pipe thus far. It is going to be a beautiful pipe.Hilson18 I wiped the bowl and shank down with a light coat of olive oil to enliven the briar and bring out the grain. The birdseye grain on the sides of the bowl were stunning. It is hard to see with the freshly oiled bowl but in later photos it will stand out.Hilson19

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Hilson22 The stem was cleaned and ready to polish. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 micromesh sanding pads and then gave it a coat of Obsidian Oil. Before the oil dried I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil and then sanded it with 6000-12000 grit pads to finish the shine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and let it dry. Once dry I buffed it with White Diamond on the wheel.Hilson23

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Hilson25 I buffed the finished pipe with Blue Diamond Polish on the wheel and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean flannel buff and then again by hand with a microfibre cloth to bring depth to the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. Other than the stain around the back and right side edge s of the meerschaum lining the pipe looks like new. It should offer many more years of service.Hilson26

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Refurbishing a Hilson Giant – Brian Devlin


Here is another post by Brian Devlin. I enjoy reading about and seeing photos of his refurbishing work. I am again posting this piece for your viewing. I wrote and asked Brian about more of his process in cleaning stems and rims and he answered with a pm on Smokers Forums. I have integrated that into the text of this piece for those who are interested in knowing more. Without further delay here is Brian’s article.

I picked up another eBay buy that needed a bit of work. This one was a dirty Hilson Giant badly charred rim and heavily oxidized stem. What it looked like when it arrived can be seen in the photo below.
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Once again I followed my process of cleaning and refurbishing. I begin by always cleaning the oxidation from the stem. I coated the stem spigot (tenon) and the Hilson logo with Vaseline to protect them from damage by the bleach soak.
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I then put the stem in the bleach soak. For this I use an old butter box half filled with a mixture of 50% bleach and 50% water and let it soak for 30 minutes. I have found that this amount of time in the wash works well to remove the oxidation.
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I rinse of the stem and then reassemble the pipe. I attach it to a retort to clean out the inside of the bowl, shank and stem. I use 99.9% isopropyl with the retort. You can see how I set up the retort in the photo below. For the heat source I use canned heat (editor’s note: in North America Sterno makes a product that works very well for this. Great idea Brian!).
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The stem is pitted after soaking in the bleach mixture so I just buff with brown stick (middle cut) followed by white stick (finishing cut). For the rim I use white stick to polish the rim taking off the char build up. I finish by using Carnauba resin on an open mop (buffing pad) to finish the briar and the stem. It seems to stop the stem from oxidizing. I then buff the pipe and you have BRIAR REBORN!
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