Tag Archives: Kirsten Companion Pipes

Restoring a Kirsten Companion K System Pipe from Bob Kerr’s Estate

Blog by Steve Laug

The second of the Kirsten pipes I have chosen to work on from Bob Kerr’s Estate is a Companion polished aluminum coloured Barrel system pipe with a saddle stem. It is the second of Bob’s Kirsten pipes and also the last one I have to work on from the estate. (Bob’s photo is to the left). If you have not “met” the man and would like to read a bit of the history of the pipeman, his daughter has written a great tribute that is worth a read. Because I have included it in most of the restorations of the estate to date I thought that I would leave it out this time. Check out some of the recent Dunhill restoration blogs (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/01/restoring-the-last-of-bob-kerrs-dunhills-a-1962-dunhill-bruyere-656-f-t-bent-billiard/).

When I think of Kirsten pipes this is the shape that is a typical Kirsten. On the left side of the shank it is stamped with Companion in script. On the underside of the polished aluminum barrel it is stamped Made in U.S.A. followed by K. It is a straight pipe with large Dublin bowl. Metal base is dented and worn. The pipe has gaskets. Stem is oxidized, tooth marks, chatter near the button. Button is damaged. There is a cake in the bowl and lava overflow on the rim. The ridged valve has some damage from what looks like marks left behind by pliers. The pipe is very dirty.  Jeff took photos of the pipe to show its general condition before he did his cleanup. The exterior of the pipe was very dirty – grime and grit ground in from years of use and sitting. The rim top was covered with a coat of thick lava that overflowed the bowl. There was also some darkening and lava on the rim top. The bowl itself had a thick cake with flecks of tobacco stuck in the cake on the sides.  It also appeared that there was some mold on the cake in the bowl.Jeff took a photo of the side and the heel of the bowl to give a better feel for the condition of the bowl. You can see the interesting grain on the bowl side and front.The next photos show the stamping on the sides of the barrel shank and it is very readable. It reads as noted above. The stem was dirty and extremely oxidized, calcified and had tooth marks on both sides ahead of the button. It was not nearly as chewed the other pipes in Bob’s estate.  Jeff took apart the pipe and took photos of the parts of the part. It was incredibly dirty with tars and oils on the internals of the pipe.Before doing cleanup work on the pipe I decided to do some research on the pipe. I have a catalogue for Kirsten pipes in my files and found this pipe in the catalogue. It is shown in the photo below. The K stamp identifies it as a Companion pipe.

There is also some great history on the brand on Pipedia that is well worth a read. It gives clear information on the development of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Kirsten_Pipe_Company).

I am really glad that Jeff helped me work through this estate of over 125 pipes to clean from Bob’s estate. I would in no way be this close to finishing the estate without his help. Jeff cleaned the pipes with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. He had reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the remaining cake in the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff took the pipe apart and cleaned the barrel, the adjustable valve and the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked a lot better. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show what cleaned bowl and rim top looked like. The rim top and edges of the bowl looked very good. The screw in the bottom of the bowl looks very good with no damage to the slots. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the light tooth marks and the remaining oxidation on the stem.I took the pipe apart and took photos of the parts of the pipe to give a picture of what it looked like. Now, on to my part of the restoration of this Kirsten RX pipe. The rim top was in rough condition and looked as if it had been beat against a hard surface. I decided to begin my work by topping the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board.I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the briar down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bark on the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I rubbed the valve on the metal base with some Vaseline Petroleum Jelly. I have found that it keeps the valve from sticking in the base end. I screwed the bowl on the top of the metal barrel. This part of the restoration is finished and the pipe is looking really good at this point in the process. All that remains is the stem and push rod that goes in the end of the base. I set the bowl and metal barrel aside and turned my attention to the stem. There were some deep tooth marks near the edge of the button on both sides. I filled them in with clear super glue.I sanded out the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth marks and chatter. I started to polish it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. This Kirsten Companion Made in USA K pipe from Bob Kerr’s estate turned out to be another great looking pipe. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and works well with the polished vulcanite saddle stem. I put the pipe back together and carefully buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. It will be going on the rebornpipes store soon. If you are interested in carrying on Bob’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email.  This is the last of Bob’s Estate pipes that I am working on. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

NEPAL PROJECT PIPE SALE 7 –Restoring a Kirsten K – Companion Generation 2

Blog by Steve Laug

This is the seventh pipe from the box of pipes that I was gifted by a good friend of mine with the instructed purpose of cleaning them up and selling them with all of the proceeds going to the aid of earthquake victims in Nepal. Once again all funds raised will all go to the SA Foundation, and organization that has worked in Nepal for over 15 years helping provide recovery, housing and job training for women who are victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking. The ongoing earthquakes (over 300) that continue to shake Nepal have left much in ruins. The SA Foundation Project there was able to find new housing for the women and help with staff as well. Every dollar raised from the sale of these pipes will go to the work in Nepal.

It is a Kirsten metal pipe with a briar Dublin bowl. It is stamped on the left side of the shank, Kirsten in a cursive script. On the underside it is stamped Made in U.S.A. – K. These pipes were made for a long period of time in the Seattle, Washington area of the US. They came in four generations or iterations – Generation 1, 1.5, 2 and 3. The stamping on this one, the absence of a metal cap to hold the bowl, and the presence of the rubber O rings on the metal valve and on the stem insert, point to it being a Generation 1.5 pipe or a transitional one.

Documentation that I quote on an earlier blog from Dave Whitney shows the following information on the Generation 1.5 – transitional period – mid to late 50’s. This was an experimental stage. Kirsten realized that the bit and insert were prone to seizure as the condensate dried. This model always has O-rings on the metal insert, and later models can have O-rings on both. Same markings, as I remember it. There is no metal cup spacer under the bowl. This generation has O rings either on the valve or mouthpiece but no O rings on the other end. This transitional period is stamped “Pat. Pending” and “Pats. & Pats. Pending” some with “Made in U.S.A. It seems like the company was using surplus parts to combine into this series of pipes. This particular pipe is stamped K after the U.S.A. thus making it a Companion.

When I brought this one to the work table the stem was frozen in the shank and the valve on the end was also frozen. The bowl could not be turned off by hand as my other Kirsten’s can. The bowl had a layer of cake and the screw in the bottom of the bowl was also caked and dirty. The rim was dirty and the metal was barrel was dull and soiled. The stem was not only stuck but it also had tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem near the button. There was also some discoloration and sticky buildup on the stem.K1



K4 I cleaned out the slot on the screw in the bottom of the bowl and was able to remove it with a flat blade screwdriver. The valve at the end of the barrel also came out when I used a pair of pliers that I had taped the end on so that it would not damage the aluminum of the valve. It was very tight and the tobacco oils acted like dried varnish on the rubber gasket and the aluminum almost welding it to the barrel. By carefully working it back and forth I was finally able to remove it.K5 The stem would not budge so I dropped the barrel stem down in my alcohol bath and let it soak overnight. I dropped the bowl into the bath at the same time to soften the cake in it and also make the cleanup of the rim and bowl easier.K6 I filled a small cap with alcohol and put the valve and the screw into the small bath overnight as well. I figured a good soak would make the clean up process much simpler.K7 In the morning I was able to remove the stem and rod apparatus from the barrel with ease. It was caked with the same kind of varnish from the tars and oils of the tobacco.K8 I took a photograph down the barrel to show what the inside looked like once the stem was removed.k9 I took the bowl out of the bath as well and laid out the parts of the pipe side by side for the photos before I cleaned them up.k10 Using a piece of 0000 steel wool I scrubbed the rod and the bowl down to clean up the grime and buildup. I also scrubbed the screw and the valve as well with the steel wool. It did not take much effort to remove that from the metal or the briar. The photo below shows the cleaned up parts.k11 I scrubbed out the barrel with cotton swabs and alcohol as far as I could reach. I pushed it through the threaded connector for the bowl as well to remove all of the oils and tar.k12 I took the next photo of the barrel to show the inside and how much cleaner it was. I still needed to clean it more so I twisted some tissue into a cord and turned it into the barrel until it came out the other end. I move it back and forth to scrub out the inside of the barrel. Once it was out the inside of the barrel shone.k13

k14 I reamed the bowl using a sharp pen knife paying particular attention to the seat at the bottom of the bowl which held the screw flat against the bowl bottom. I cut the cake back to a very thin coat along the walls. I then used some Vaseline on the threads of the screw and put it through the bottom of the bowl and used the screw driver to turn it into the barrel. I still needed to polish the grooves on the barrel and the valve but the pipe was beginning to look very good.k15

k16 I sanded the tooth marks on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove as much of them as I could without thinning the surface of the stem or leaving behind a groove. I was able to remove both marks on the top and bottom of the stem.k17

k18 I used micromesh sanding pads to polish the stem and bring back the shine. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and then rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and then dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. Finally I sanded with the 6000-12,000 grit pads and then gave it a final coat of oil and let it dry.k19


k21 I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond Plastic Polish on the wheel and brought out a deep shine. I then gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean, soft flannel buffing pad to raise the shine.k22

k23 I buffed the barrel lightly with the Blue Diamond and also buffed the bowl. I gave the bowl and barrel several coats of carnauba wax and then lightly buffed it with a clean flannel buffing pad to raise the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is ready for someone who has been looking for one of these to pick it up and add it to their rack and help out the women of Nepal at the same time.k24




k28 This older Kirsten Companion K is a great looking pipe and the Dublin bowl gives it a distinctive look. As I said above, it should make someone a great addition. If you are interested in this pipe email me with an offer at slaug@uniserve.com and we can discuss it. The entirety of the sale price will go to the Nepal project. I will pay the postage so that does not get taken off the proceeds. If you are interested in reading about the SA Foundation you can look at their website at http://www.safoundation.com.

Thanks for looking.

Restoring a Frozen Kirsten Companion K Straight Pipe

Blog by Steve Laug

The last pipe I picked up on my recent Alberta trip was a Kirsten style straight pipe. The metal shank is stamped on the left side Companion and on the underside it is stamped Made in U.S.A and then K. On the top of the shank the previous owner scratched in his initials FWE. The bowl was stuck on the shank. The finish on the bowl was worn and dirty. The rim of the bowl had a thick tarry buildup and had some deep dents in the surface. There was a thick cake build up on the inside of the bowl that was shaped like a cone – the bottom was very narrow and the top was wide open. Normally the bowl on Kirsten pipes are more U-shaped with the walls similarly open to the bottom of the bowl where the drilled screw goes through. The stem had a tooth mark on the top and the bottom side near the button. The stem was frozen in the metal shank and I could not twist it at all. The airflow adjustment end cap that normally twists to either open or dampen the airflow was also frozen in place. The metal barrel and end cap had scratches and marks on it. The end cap ridges were worn and looked like someone had used a pair of pliers on it to try to break it free.IMG_2531 IMG_2532 IMG_2533 IMG_2534 I was able to twist the bowl off the barrel by carefully turning it back and forth slightly to break it free. The tars in the barrel threads and on the drilled out screw in the bowl were really gummed up and dirty.IMG_2535I put the barrel in the freezer and left it there during dinner. After dinner I took it out and was able to twist the stem from the barrel. Once I removed the stem and the metal tube plunger it was extremely tarred and sticky. The second photo below shows the black tars of the interior of the barrel and plunger.IMG_2536 IMG_2537The end cap was still frozen in the barrel. I filled the barrel with alcohol and set it in an ice-cube try to let it soak. I knew that the tars on the plunger were also what held the end cap in place binding the metal of the barrel and the cap to each other. Typically the end cap had a rubber grommet on it that held it in place with a friction fit. In this case it appeared that the rubber grommet was compressed against the metal on the inside of the barrel and bound it in place.IMG_2538I cleaned the plunger and sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the hard tarry build up on it. I wiped it down with alcohol and then sanded it until the plunger was shiny and clean. I cleaned out the inside of the stem and the plunger with both bristle and regular pipe cleaners.IMG_2539 IMG_2540I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and used all sizes of the cutting heads to ream back the carbon build up in the bowl.IMG_2541 IMG_2542 IMG_2543The bowl was badly dinged and hammered leaving some deep denting. I topped the rim with a topping board to clean up the damaged top edge.IMG_2544 IMG_2545I wiped down the bowl with alcohol on cotton pads and then used a flat blade screwdriver to remove the screw from the bottom of the bowl and remove bottom cap on the bowl. I wiped down the inside of the cap and cleaned the screw with a brass bristle tire brush. I wiped it down with alcohol and then sanded the outside of the cap and screw with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to polish them.IMG_2546 IMG_2547The rim had two rather large fills that needed to be hidden with stain. I used the stain pens to restain the rim and the bowl. I started with the lightest colour pen and finished with the darkest colour.IMG_2548I buffed the bowl with White Diamond and then gave it several coats of carnauba wax. I put the metal cap back in place and turned the screw into the bottom of the bowl.IMG_2549 IMG_2550The end cap still did not come off after I had soaked it with alcohol. I used a Robertson head screw driver with a long shank and inserted it in the barrel. I hammered the end with a hammer and tried to drive it out of the barrel. It cam half way out but I could not budge it further. I boiled a cup of water and let the barrel and end cap sit in it to see if I could loosen the tars. I repeated this three times with the cooling of the water. I then inserted the screw driver and was able to drive out the cap. It was covered with a black tar build up and the inside of the barrel was also thickly coated. I cleaned out the inside of the end cap and the barrel with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol. I rubbed down the rubber grommet on the stem and the end cap with Vaseline to soften them again and then inserted them in place in the barrel.IMG_2551I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and then medium and fine grit sanding sponges to remove the tooth marks and the oxidation. I then sanded it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each set of three pads. I gave the stem a final buff with White Diamond and then gave it several coats of carnauba wax to give it a shine.IMG_2552 IMG_2553 IMG_2554The finished pipe is shown below. I rubbed the stem down with some Conservator’s Wax – a microcrystalline wax and hand buffed it with a shoe brush. I avoid using the buffer on metal as it turns the pads black and does not shine the metal. I put it back together and it is ready for its inaugural smoke. I have two other Kirstens that are great smokers and this one with be added to that number until the day I pass it on to someone along the way.IMG_2555 IMG_2556 IMG_2557 IMG_2558