Tag Archives: Kirsten Generation 2 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.

Breathing new life into a Kirsten S with a Unique Bell Bowl


Blog by Steve Laug

My brother picked up this Kirsten because he really liked the look of the bowl. I have never seen a Kirsten bowl this shape so I don’t know if it is an aftermarket bowl or one of Kirsten’s own. In the long run it does not matter because not only is the shape attractive but the briar is stunning. The rim has a slight bevel inward and the curve into the metal base cap looks great and feels great in the hand. The bowl had a heavy cake and the screw mount in the bottom of the bowl was caked over to the point that it was stuck in the bowl. The metal barrel was oxidized and pitted. It had no shine left but looked like a well-worn pipe. The stem was oxidized but there were no tooth marks or chatter on the stem. The rod that ran through the barrel was dirty and coated with tars and oils that had harden. The adjustable valve on the end of the barrel was stuck and could not be turn or adjusted. It was actually stuck closed so there was no airflow through the barrel.Kirsten1 Kirsten2I put the pipe in an alcohol bath to let it soak for a day while I was at work. When I came home in the evening I was able to take it apart. The alcohol had softened the tars and the stem came out easily and I was able to use a screw driver and a light tap on the handle to knock out the stuck valve. The bowl came off the barrel but the screw was still stuck in the bottom of the bowl. When I had it apart I realized I was dealing with a Generation 2 Kirsten. It was made between 1958-1985. I quote from a previous blog on the site with the information that leads me to the conclusion that I was dealing with a Generation 2. “Markings on underside of metal shank “Made in USA XL” (or app. size) and “Pat. & Pats. Pending”. The presence of O rings on both the valve and the mouthpiece and the metal cup spacer under bowl are the biggest thing that separates the Generation 1 from the Generation 2 pipes. These O rings help provide a tighter seal when the stem and apparatus are inserted into the radiator stem. Instead of “O” rings, the machining of the Generation 1 pipes was so precise the fit was exact.”  https://rebornpipes.com/2012/11/03/kirsten-generation-1-1-5-2-3/ The blog also identifies the S stamp on the bottom of the shank as the Sportsman Model from that era.

So I knew that the pipe I had, came from the time period of 1958-1985 and that the O rings on both the valve and the mouthpiece confirmed that. The S stamp also fits the pipe squarely within that date range. Armed with that information I began to work on refurbishing the Kirsten.Kirsten3I reamed the bowl with the Savinelli Pipe Knife and was able to clean out the cake enough that I could use a flat blade screwdriver to loosen the screw from the bottom of the bowl. Once the screw was removed I cleaned out the bowl with sandpaper to take the cake back to bare briar.Kirsten4I scrubbed the rim with a cotton pad and saliva and was able to remove the majority of the tars and oils. I used micromesh sanding pads to further clean up the rim top. The briar was beautiful once the grime was removed. I wiped down the outside of the bowl and rim with alcohol and the finish was in very decent shape.Kirsten5I scrubbed the oxidized finish with Meguiar’s Scratch X2.0 and cotton pads and cotton swabs and was able to remove the worn and oxidized build up on the surface. Underneath the oxidation was a shiny metal finish. It would not take too much scrubbing to remove all of the damage.Kirsten6I soaked some cotton pads in alcohol and pushed them through the barrel and also scrubbed the inside of the barrel with cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils there. I cleaned out the inside of the valve and the outside of the insert end. Kirsten7I cleaned out the airway in the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. I sanded the metal rod with micromesh sanding pads to remove the build up and tars on the metal surface. I scrubbed it with alcohol to clean it and polished it with the Meguiar’s.Kirsten8With the internals cleaned, the bowl reamed and cleaned, the barrel polished and cleaned it was time to polish the stem. I scrubbed it with Soft Scrub cleanser to remove the oxidation. Once I broke through it I used the Meguiar’s Scratch X2.0 to further polish the stem. I decided to try to see if I could successfully use Charles’ method of cleaning oxidation with the Meguiar’s.Kirsten9 Kirsten10I was pretty amazed with the results. The finish glowed and the polish actually removed all of the oxidation. It just took repeated scrubbings and polishing until finally no more oxidation came off with the polish. I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the wheel to polish the briar, barrel and the stem. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to polish it. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe looks like new and it just glows with warmth and a shine that must have originally graced the pipe. It is a beautiful Kirsten and should grace someone’s pipe rack for years to come. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. If you are interested in this pipe let me know. Thanks for looking. Kirsten11 Kirsten12 Kirsten13 Kirsten14 Kirsten15 Kirsten16 Kirsten17