Tag Archives: Kirsten 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.

Restoring a Kirsten RX System Pipe from Bob Kerr’s Estate


Blog by Steve Laug

The first of the Kirsten pipes I have chosen to work on from Bob Kerr’s Estate is an RX Anodized Brass coloured Barrel  system pipe with a saddle stem. It is the first of Bob’s Kirsten pipes. (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 sticks in my mind because it is similar to the first Kirsten that I purchased in the late 70s. On the left side of the shank it is stamped with Kirsten in script. On the underside of the anodized barrel it is stamped Made in U.S.A. followed by RX. X107. It is a bent 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 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 surface of 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. 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 in the bottom of the photo. The pipe I am working on is in the Regent Shape.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 surface.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. I decided to start by polishing 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. 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 RX Made in USA ¼ 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: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. If you are interested in carrying on Bob’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email.  I have 2 more of Bob’ pipes to go, perhaps one of those will catch your attention. 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.

The Decline of Restoring Old Pipes, Part 1/4


Blog by Robert M. Boughton
Copyright © Reborn Pipes and the Author except as cited
https://www.roadrunnerpipes2k.com/
https://www.facebook.com/roadrunnerpipes/

“I bet ya three-to-one I beat this.”
— John Joseph “The Teflon Don” Gotti, Jr. (1940-2002), Mafia boss, to law enforcement officers the night he was arrested for five murders, racketeering, loan sharking, tax evasion and related charges leading to his conviction

“The Teflon is gone. The don is covered with Velcro….”
— James Fox, FBI Assistant Director in Charge of the New York field office, upon Gotti’s conviction on all counts and sentence to life without parole

INTRODUCTION
While the denouement of the golden age of pipe restoration I anticipate here is only of importance to those who undertake the artful practice and the collectors they serve, and represents nothing as dramatic as the life of John Gotti or his vicious crimes from the age of 12 until he was convicted at 51, the problems I will describe are real and present  The dangers relate to pipes made of wood, meerschaum, synthetic plastic and even metal, in particular antiques and many that are pushing the limits of vintage.  The simple facts are that certain parts used in the construction of some old pipes are no longer manufactured nor can they be, and still more materials needed to restore them and others to original condition are not being pre-fashioned.

This dearth of components that once were ready-made or easier to come by restricts their availability to a rarefied number of true artists in the repair business possessing the essential skills to create vital pieces to the specifications of given projects.  Such craftsmen, already very difficult to track down, are in fact dying out.  The ability of most common and even some great restorers to complete their work as most would prefer – to the pipe’s authentic state – is therefore in grave peril.  This is the sad reality

The supplies I have identified so far with careful thought, but by no means having reached a comprehensive list, are Bakelite, including Redmanol;:amber and amberoid; ivory, notwithstanding its illegality in the U.S. and most other countries, or in the alternative imitation ivory; bone and horn tenon screws; replacement bowls and other components of metal and other pipes;  real corncob Aristocob inserts, made just for that infamous aluminum pipe, and the most surprising member on the endangered species list, the push-pull Teflon stem fittings used with most meerschaum pipes, especially newer ones.

AN ILLUMINATING CONVERSATION
I spoke on the telephone to Floyd Norwood, the patriarch of a two-generation family pipe repair business.  He is retired but continues taking a hand in the operation as his son now runs the shop.  Prepared for the immediate negative response, I wanted to know if I could buy an assortment of bone screw tenons from them, but his next words shook me and started the cogitation that led to this blog.  I had left his name out of this because the conversation wasn’t a formal interview, but it will become obvious later in the series.

“Nobody makes these things anymore,” the old gentleman began.  “These things” encompassed the various parts we had discussed, not only bone tenons but real amber and the Bakelite family of stem materials.  Mr. Norwood’s voice was tired, sad and a bit disgusted.

“Tell me about it!” I replied in the heat of commiseration I immediately understood could not begin to match his own sorrow after a lifetime career seeing the dissipation of the tools he employed in his labor of love.  “It took me two years to track you down, and then only in a recent, second, desperate plea for help did one friend on the Smokers Forums UK think to recommend you.”  I dropped the name of the friend, who will remain anonymous.

A few others on SF responded with vague attempts to help that I appreciated, but none could recall the name of the person who did such specialty work for them in the distant past.  Only when I posted in the thread that the problem was solved by the link provided in the first response did several other members chime in that they had also used Norwoods Pipe Repair at times and gave the man with whom I had the honor of chatting, or in more recent experiences his son, Kenneth, their highest recommendation for quality of service, speed and price.  I amended my previous comment to include the total of four glowing referrals, but it did little to cheer up the aging expert whose specialized skills I have now enjoyed for three pipes.

“The kids these days doing the repairs, and even the older restorers, just aren’t interested or able to do the work involved,” the worn out and still somewhat irked master continued, “and I mean for a single job much less volume production for sale to people like you.”

I took no offense from the last phrase.  He was correct, after all.

BAKELITE, REDMANOL AND CONDENSITE
Leo H. Baekeland (1863-1944), a Belgian-American chemist, invented Bakelite, the first synthetic plastic, in 1907.  He named it after himself.  I will save most of the ruthless and covetous tactics Baekeland undertook, in order to seize control of many much smaller companies that made similar but superior synthetic plastics, for another blog that is in the works.  Here’s all you need to know for now.

Bakelite was patented for its revolutionary innovation that employed thermosetting, a process of controlling intense heating and pressure, of phenol and formaldehyde resins sometimes combined with lesser amounts of wood or asbestos fibers that resulted in soft or liquid material. In that form, Bakelite could be molded into any shape before final curing rendered it irreversible.  Baekeland called his machine that performed the entire operation – what else? – the “Bakelizer.”  Bakelite was particularly useful because of its electrical nonconductivity and heat resistant qualities that made it ideal for diverse products including electrical casings, firearms and tobacco pipes and stems, to name only a few.

The two particular small, independent chemical research and production laboratories to which I alluded a moment ago – the Redmanol Chemical Products Co. of America in Chicago formed in 1913 by Lawrence V. Redman, after whom his creation was self-styled; and the Condensite Co., started in 1910 and headed by A.J. Aylsworth, over which Redmanol had acquired a controlling interest – developed synthetic plastics that were stronger and capable of being colored in more varieties than Bakelite.  Original Bakelite, whatever the color, still looked like plastic, while deep red, translucent Redmanol was so close to amber of the same color that it often requires an expert to differentiate the two.

Bakelite cigar holder, left; real amber compared to Redmanol, right

The greater strength and coloring qualities of Redmanol and Condensite were the results of different chemical catalysts used employing the same basic heat and pressure process innovated by Baekeland.  But Redmanol employed the action of formin on carbolic acid, while Condensite utilized the effect of chlorine on naphthalene.  Furthermore, Baekeland’s machine, the Bakelizer, was only one means of achieving the intense heat and pressure necessary for the reactions of the two ingredients he chose.  Aylsworth devised a means of heating the chlorine and naphthalene without pressure, a process Redman adopted.  The three processes, therefore, rendered each substantially different.  In 1922, however, a U.S. Federal Court judge in New York interpreted the tortuous patent laws in favor of Bakelite – which, by the way, not wanting to force its two greatest competitors to defend themselves sued not the manufacturers but their distributors – destroyed and  merged the prized competitors into its growing family in the newly and litigiously formed Bakelite Corporation.  Since then, Redmanol and Condensite products have been lumped together under the single name Bakelite.

The Bakelite patent can be read below.

The Problems
The most obvious difficulty is that Bakelite, at least for tobacco pipe products, has not been manufactured since 1939, when Bakelite Corp. was acquired by Union Carbide and Carbon Corp. (Union Carbide Corp. since 1957).  As was already noted, the curing process for Bakelite rendered it “irreversible.”  Bakelite products were custom made for whatever use was needed.  In other words, for purposes of restoring old stems made of Bakelite, which, again, includes Redmanol, any necessary replacement can be reworked in only one way: fitting an over-sized stem of an otherwise suitable candidate to a shank by serious sanding or other such methods.  Any other alteration, such as bending or threading, is strictly impossible compared to Vulcanite, acrylic and even amber.  By way of illustrations, imagine trying to find substitute parts for these beauties.

Socket pipe with meerschaum bowl, Redmanol shank and stem and bone tenon screw

KB&B gold band socket pipe with irreplaceable threaded Redmanol stem and bottom and custom-made screw-in briar bowl

AMBER AND AMBEROID
Amber is an organic material (neither gem nor stone despite common descriptions) formed by the polymerization of prehistoric pine tree resin into hard, fossilized pieces that often have inclusions, meaning trapped insects or plants.  More than half of the known inclusions found have been flies.  Its colors include yellow and orange, the most common, as well as red, green, blue and brown, and these colors range in translucence to almost opaque.  Found in the greatest quantities throughout Europe, amber is more common in the northern Baltic countries and Russia, but is also present in other places all over the planet.  Amberoid refers to pieces of amber and sometimes other resins compressed by intense heat and pressure. Most of it is used for jewelry, primarily in small bits and pieces.

Polished Baltic amber courtesy Minerals.net

The Problems
Amber is on the soft and fragile side (2-3 on the Mohs scale of 1-10, with talc being 1 and diamond 10), and it begins to decay the instant it is exposed to sunlight.  By human reckoning the process is very slow, but amber’s natural brittleness increases considerably within a human lifetime.  That means that its use as a material for pipe stems in the late 19th and early 20th centuries leaves examples that are now more prone to chipping and breaking, neither of which damage can be repaired with a purist method if at all.

Also, even for anyone alive today who is capable of fashioning an amber stem, the cost is prohibitive, and the process very difficult   Because amber does not actually melt, as in the sense of turning to liquid, but rather reaches the temperature where it would at about 570° F. and beyond that decomposes, there may be nobody around now inclined to try anyway, as Floyd Norwood suggested..

As a result, we are left with a more and more limited supply of random styles and lengths that can be found only at places such as eBay, where the sellers don’t know or care enough about pipe restoration to publish the measurements and, in my experience, are clueless when asked to provide such information.  In other words, they can be found in random lots the measurements of which can only be guessed.  The increasingly absurd prices of these lots make buying them a serious gamble with poor odds of winning.

Amberoid is a still bigger problem.  For those willing to destroy various jewelry and other ornaments made of amberoid, the bits and pieces acquired would be useless.  The only amberoid stems I can find available to buy are already on pipes, such as this Andreas Bauer meerschaum billiard courtesy of SmokingPipes.com.IVORY, REAL AND IMITATION
Ivory in its purest form is the dense material forming the teeth and tusks of large mammals including elephants that are still present in our world, their distant relatives mastodons that have been extinct since the end of the Pleistocene epoch 10,000-11,000 years ago and woolly mammoths (another ancestor of elephants that were alive during the earliest time of humans but died off completely 4,000 years ago).

Other, less valued forms of ivory are found in walruses, narwhals, hippopotami, rhinoceroses, warthogs and sperm whales, but also in a variety of smaller species such as elks.  For most of human history, ivory has been prized for its artistic uses, from classical statues to piano keys.  The fact that ivory, in particular its oldest and finest variety, can be carved into any form made it valuable for beautiful works of art, including ornate tobacco pipes.

Japanese carved ivory tusk courtesy invaluable.com

1890 Tiffany ivory-silver pipe courtesy tobaccopipehistory.blogspot.com

Tsuge ivory billiard courtesy Brothers of Briar

There are several alternatives to ivory.  Celluloid; believe it or not; invented in France in 1865, is the oldest.  Best known for its later use as an early, highly flammable film for motion pictures; celluloid – not Bakelite – is touted on some sites as the first “successful” synthetic plastic and was used for products that were not limited to the following.

Celluloid chip and dice courtesy antiquegamblingchips.com

Billiard balls courtesy sciencehistory.org

Celluloid ivory sample sheets courtesy Rothko & Price

A second, more workable imitation ivory is vegetable ivory, found in the nuts of varieties of tropical South American palms.  The white cores of these nuts are fashionable into all kinds of shapes that harden and can be polished like real ivory, and best of all, they can be drilled for stem making purposes.  The nut below looks tiny but is in fact about the size of a large honeydew melon.  It even has a fine grain pattern that can be differentiated from that of real ivory.

Vegetable ivory nut from Micronesia courtesy palomar.edu

There is a third, still better, resin-based variety of imitation ivory for pipe makers and restorers capable of tooling a stem from scratch.  Although hesitant to promote a single business when there may be others using the same brand, I can’t find any, and the brand factor is vital because of the similarity of others that nevertheless possess serious basic differences.  These characteristics include the use of polyester in those that are inferior for pipe use, leaving them weaker, less glossy when buffed and all-in-all not so close to the real thing that there might be a problem trying to transport an object made of this stuff through airport customs.  To get around to the reluctant business plug, whatever the brand name is, it’s available at Vermont Freehand

The rods sold at that online business are offered in different diameters, the same as those used for traditional materials such as Ebonite.  Vermont Freehand describes it as the finest available.  It varies in price according to two grades, 1 and 2 where 1 is the better, and the diameter desired, from $3.60-$100.  For example, the minimum 12mm diameter rod of Grade 2 is $3.60 compared to a 14mm rod of Grade 1, which is $7.20.  The largest diameter of Grade 2 is 1.4” square at $28.80, and a 1.6” x 2.6” rectangle of Grade 1 is $100.  Again, note the grains.

Imitation ivory stem rods courtesy Vermont Freehand

The Problems
In this case, the “problems” for the most part are really solutions to a greater crisis.  Evolving international laws aimed at saving African and Asian elephant populations, devastated to the verge of extinction by poaching and unregulated exportation of tusks that are harvested for their great value, at the expense of elephant lives, have had unexpected and negative effects on the animals they are intended to protect.  Uncooperative countries that I will not name here in the interest of avoiding geo-political argument and controversy have allowed poachers to capitalize on the increased value of ivory that resulted from the various embargo attempts.

Tougher and more restrictive bans are already being enforced to degrees that seem to have stabilized at least some elephant herds in Africa and Asia, and still more effective laws are being considered, notably in the United States and the European Union.  The present laws, targeting buyers and sellers of ivory as well as art dealers and collectors, are expected to curb poaching still more.

Certain aspects of the laws have been met with resistance from art and personal rights advocates.  The issues have to do with the age of the artworks, the years they were acquired and the sources, all of which create complexities for enforcement, to put it in the simplest terms that are anything but simple.

In 2016, the Obama Administration initiated a blanket ban on the importation of elephant ivory and almost all sales of ivory throughout the country.  The very few exceptions include antiques that can be proven through a professional appraisal or a bill of sale to be at least 100 years old.  Many ivory pipes fit that category.  However, President Trump, undermining the Obama ban, directed the Fish and Wildlife Service to consider importation permits for sport-hunted elephant trophies from select African countries “on a case by case basis.”  In other words, Trump has cleared the way for his rich cronies to bring elephant heads with their tusks intact home from safaris.  This kind of favoritism, which was never announced publicly by the Trump Administration but rather via a Fish and Wildlife Service memo issued March 1, 2018, can’t possibly surprise anyone given Trump’s record since he assumed office.

Concerning imitation ivory of any kind, it is of more use to master artisans who can create a stem by hand or machine, again, rather than average or even skilled restorers.  However, this resin-based imitation ivory sold by Vermont Freehand might be fashionable into small pieces suitable for filling chips and other damages to real ivory pipes – but only with serious practice based on what I’ve learned of its physical makeup.

BONE AND HORN SCREW TENONS
The good news is that bone and horn screw tenons, which can be made from the calcified skeletal remains of animals such as cows and deer, are not in short supply.  To be sure, there are other sources, but J.H. Lowe, for example, offers “a multitude of styles and sizes” in assorted 12-packs for $28.90 – and you know what you’re getting compared to online auction sites that tend to be clueless as to the importance of the various elements of importance in measuring the correct size.  Another plus when ordering screw tenons from an actual pipe supply store is that they are new.  Here is a motley collection of bone screw tenons said to be antiques courtesy of Worthpoint.
Without impugning the integrity of the seller of those screw tenons, if they are antiques, they represent a pristine collection of unused specimens.  I’ll take this opportunity to emphasize that, although I am committed to using only the original materials for antique and extreme vintage pipe restorations, that devotion does not require any replacement parts to be as old as the pipe I’m refurbishing.  A brand new screw tenon or anything else, so long as it’s the same substance as the one with which the pipe came, is fine with me, and I’m planning on stocking up on assorted sizes, styles and shapes of everything I can find in new condition.  Still, I have a small collection of antique and vintage tenons, stems, bands, an endcap and one shank extension, upon which I look forward to expanding.  No doubt the day will come for each to find its wizened old pipe mate, and I anticipate the matches, at the risk of sounding daft, with somewhat of a sense of excitement.  Call me old-fashioned or sentimental or a codger or what you will, but there it is.

The two on the left are Redmanol.

The Problems
I realize I’ve overstepped the subject of bone tenon screws a bit in this section, for reasons of expansion on the greater subject, but now to address the problems with those parts.  Again, I stated that the bone tenons are in no immediate danger of extinction.  I should have qualified that assertion by noting in most cases.  Consider the photo of my antique bone screws above.  I have no doubt that various suppliers of newly made old-style supplies such as these screws indeed have considerable varieties on hand, but the fact remains, many were custom made as long as a century or more in the past.  As the venerable Mr. Norwood pointed out, nobody is stepping up to produce such oddities as bone screws to order.  Of course, artisans able to do so can and will be found – but the task won’t be easy, as Part 2 of my series will show.

Then there are several other problems, I’ll call them: one, fitting a bone screw requires matching it to the stem and shank.  In most cases, the measurements for each are different, not to mention the style of the tenon screw.  Just whipping out the calipers and determining the approximate diameters of the two ends and the optimum length of the whole may not be enough.  Two, bone is inherently soft and brittle, and therefore breaks with the least provocation.  If you’re lucky, the original broken tenon will be available, but if so, it’s likely to be in bits and pieces, some powdered.  It follows that matching can be problematic.  Three – and this isn’t being persnickety – adding to all of the above obstacles is the likelihood, not possibility, that re-threading the stem and/or shank into which each end of the bone tenon screws will be necessary.  To be blunt, not everyone is up to any or all of these tasks.

To sum up, the more than potential need for someone specializing in bone tenon repair will become mandatory.

METAL SYSTEM PIPES
Arguably the most fascinating coincidence in the history of pipe making was the introduction in a single year of two brands of an altogether new kind of system pipe.  The year was 1936, and the inventors were Frederick K. Kirsten, a German-born emigrant to the U.S., and Kenly C. Bugg, a native of Indiana.  Both of them were engineers and prolific inventors with great numbers of diverse patents, and each chose aluminum for the frame, because of its light weight and rapid heat dispersion, as well as screw-on briar bowls.  Otherwise, their designs were quite different   Kirsten’s pipes are more box-like while Bugg’s are sleeker and more cylindrical.

1930s Kirsten courtesy Pinterest and “very old” Falcon courtesy Smoking Metal

The basic systems – the details of which I will omit – differ, also, but suffice it to say, Kirsten’s was more complex while Bugg’s was simpler, using a moisture trap beneath the bowl.

Which man committed his plans to paper and created a prototype is moot.  Kirsten had the presence of mind to begin manufacture and sale of his pipes the same year, applied for the patent in 1937 and received his grant with US Patent No. D112, 701 on December 27, 1938.  Bugg, on the other hand, sat on his invention, not selling his first pipes until 1940 and receiving US Patent No. 142,280 on August 21, 1945.  Kirsten, therefore, is generally credited with the invention of the metal system pipe despite the uncertainty of the exact date of the metal system pipe’s conception and in whose mind it occurred,

I have included the Patents for both for your enjoyment should you wish to read them (the Kirsten first followed by the Bugg).
The transition of production of the great American original Falcon pipes to Great Britain began in 1961, when production started there.  In 1968, U.S. production of Falcon pipes was transferred altogether to Falcon Pipes Ltd. (also known as Falcon House Group) in Great Britain, which still later became the Merton and Falcon Co.  The Falcon Pipe Group now runs the operation, as far as I can tell.  Despite the convoluted name changes, Falcon pipes have maintained their quality since Kenly Bugg made the first one.  By the way, to clarify a variation that began to annoy me, there is no second e in Kenly, despite frequent errors.  See patent signature of inventor.

Everything so far in the category of metal pipes has been to explain the genesis of an explosion in brands and systems of metal pipes with bowls made of wood, meerschaum and the sundry Bakelite materials, to name some.  The exact number of Falcon pipes sold worldwide to date is difficult to pin down, but two numbers stand out: by 1954, six million of them had been sold in the U.S. alone, and starting seven years later, from between 1961 and 1974, 16 million more were sold by the oft-switching producers in England to pipers around the world, excluding the U.S.   This leads us on a nice, ordered path to…

The Problems
Rest easily, Kirstens and Falcons are in no danger of running out of replacement bowls and even other parts as both companies remain in business and don’t appear to have plans to stop.  Replacements or new screw-in bowls are available directly from Kirsten Pipes or the Falcon Pipe Group’s distributors, such as the Arango Cigar Co. in the U.S.  This is not to mention the numerous artisans who make bowls that fit either or both, including Don Warren Pipes for Kirsten bowls and DGE Handmade Pipes and Manly Things (I didn’t make up the name, so don’t shoot the messenger) for Falcon and/or Dr. Grabow Viking bowls, which are interchangeable.

That reassurance made, the rest will be brief and simple in its awfulness.  I’m not about to go through the entire A-Z Index at Smoking Metal’s UK website to locate, count and determine all of the brands – known and unidentified – of metal system pipes identified and catalogued so far by Tony Pringle.  Like a French gentleman whose first name is Richard but is known to countless pipe smokers as Pipephil (who retired a few years ago), Tony works alone and in his spare time, making his accomplishment a monumental feat even with the sparse contributions of readers.

All I need to point out is that many – no, more likely the vast majority – of the metal pipes listed and shown at Smoking Metal were manufactured without even a moment’s thought about compatibility with others of their kind.  In blatant terms, this means they can’t be replaced without making one from scratch.  And who is going to do that?

I’d say that works as the one and only necessary dilemma with this category of scarcity.

CORNCOB INSERTS FOR BELOVED OLD ARISTOCOBS
The Aristocob was invented by Joseph W. Zarikta and assigned to the Al-Cobb Corporation (later Aristocob, Inc.) of Grand Haven, Michigan with U.S. Patent No. 3,292,639, granted just in time for Christmas 1966. Here is what the new-in-plastic case product looked like, complete with the aluminum frame, plastic stem and two cob inserts, courtesy Smoking Metal.  (Filter possibly not included.)

The Problems
Missouri Meerschaum took over manufacturing the Aristocob and its inserts in the mid-1970s.  The best known maker of cob pipes discontinued the Aristocob at some point but continued manufacturing the inserts until 1983, when the endeavor became unprofitable.

While it is true that original Aristocob corncob inserts can still be found online, at one of the last sources in the astounding list at the end, for example, when they’re all gone, that will be the end of the real thing.  The substitution of a custom-carved briar insert at the expense of the original cob is perhaps better for its durability in the lone case of the Aristocob.  As far as I know, they are fashioned only by Steven LaVoice Jr. of Owl Pipes.  I happen to know Steven’s work to be excellent after being compelled to use one of his traditional wood substitutes when I restored an Aristocob three years ago, about a year after Steven started business in Western Massachusetts.

Briar insert from Owl Pipes, with a nice keychain included

Some cold-hearted pipers, hearing of the rising shortage of original corncob inserts for the Aristocob, may bid them good riddance or scoff, “So what!”  I’ll answer that hypothetical question   Those who continue to enjoy durable cob pipes know and appreciate the difference in taste afforded by the intended Aristocob insert.  Any purists are left with one of these singular “art deco” smoking metal creations that’s rendered useless for them.  Others can still buy a briar insert directly from Steven if the owner wishes to be rid of the short-lasting cob originals that I’m told become quite nasty the closer to their expiration they get, and thus avoid the intermediary restorer altogether.  Steven makes different styles of inserts, one of which has the rough exterior reminiscent of real cob.  (Being a bit obsessive-compulsive, I polished the one shown above, which sold to a happy old-timer.)  And the cost of a briar insert, which is five times greater than the $5 I paid at a garage sale for the worn old Aristocob I restored, can be a one-time expense.

The critical fact remains, though, that nobody seems to be stepping up to make quality (non-flammable) cob inserts with a coating to harden them, and therefore, when Steven is no longer around “to do the work” with briar, remaining Aristocobs will be tossed in the trash or placed with nostalgia as heartless shells on shelves.

MEERSCHAUM PUSH-PULL FITTINGS
Now, here’s the most bizarre item on the list, and I hope it sparks English Parliamentary style chaos of furious, frenzied, fibrillating debate – but no fighting, please.  I know that may be shameful of me, and I don’t care, because of the single and singular fact I will assert when I get to the proper Problems section.  For now, a push-pull fitting is formed of two small pieces of polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon) or a generic variation.  Teflon is a polymer, or chemical compound of high molecular weight, discovered in 1938 by a new-hire at DuPont with a chemistry doctorate.  Teflon, the specific combination of gases and other substances that formed by chance when the lucky chemist heated a canister a certain way by mishap, happens to be extremely resistant to solvents, acids, bases and heat, and hence corrosion and melting, and is therefore perfect for the most part to join a meerschaum pipe shank to its stem.  Of course, it has other uses and fascinating properties anyone so inclined can read about near the end of my sources.  At its simplest, Teflon is a very fancy synthetic plastic.

The two parts are paired with one piece that screws into the shank opening and another into the stem.  A push-pull fitting, in other words, acts as a special tenon on one side that screws or pushes into the other.  Most of the time by far, the tenon part is installed in the opening of the stem and fits the shank part, but I’ve seen the process done in reverse, probably because that’s the way some restorer could make the two match up without drilling either the stem or shank opening.  The use of push-pull fittings was a great innovation to protect the fragile meerschaum and also do away with bone and horn tenons that are just as easy to break

Here are two shots, one of a trio of “standard” push-pull fittings of slight difference in size, courtesy Royal Meerschaum, that costs $3.99 for the three-pack.  The other is a screw-in stem for one of my pipes.  Standard just means they can be pushed or twisted together rather than screwed and are also the general sizes for newer meerschaum pipes.Note my Paktas billiard above with only the stem fitting that screws into the bare meerschaum shank.  I’m always very careful unscrewing it!

The Problems
The single problem with these push-pull fittings is that they’re not hard to find in all of the typical sizes that are pretty much standardized today, but that means bupkis.  The artisans who crafted meerschaum pipes in the old days – before push-pull fittings became popular in the 1970s – did everything themselves, including drilling the shank and stem however they pleased at the moment and depending on the size of the pipe.  Ay, there’s the rub.

In this day and age where everything from furniture to motor vehicles is composed entirely or at the least more than half with cheap and readily available plastic, “real” or synthetic (think imitation Naugahyde), there’s no excuse for a lack of push-pull sets designed in enough sizes to accommodate older pipes.  But there it is.  Oh, they’re no doubt out there some place, but where?  Norwoods Pipes and Walker Pipe Repair, again by way of examples, offer push-pull fittings, but (and no offense is intended to either of these fine pipe repair providers) if they have different sizes, they’re limited.

I sent the following very large lattice meerschaum stummel with no stem and a hole in the shank to Norwoods, which can provide almost any original replacement part, only to learn that the new Lucite stem was no problem, but a push-pull set that big was unavailable.  A bone tenon screw was used instead for the same price, and that pipe with its new tenon and stem arrived in the mail soon after.  In this case, I am quite pleased with the result, since I kept it for my own use and didn’t have to worry about any prospective buyer breaking the bone tenon and blaming me.  That restoration will be the subject of the final part of this series.

CONCLUSION
For now, I can continue to cobble together limited replacements of the various parts integral to the proper restoration of old pipes, and for those tasks requiring the dwindling repair services that exist, I can turn to them.  I also know of a few artisans with the know-how to tool these small yet vital implements of restoration.  Still, I have no doubt that within my lifetime the need “to do the work” myself will come.  I can only hope practice will be enough…and I had better get to it.

SOURCES

http://norwoodspiperepair.com/index.html
https://patents.google.com/patent/US942699A/en?oq=942699
https://books.google.com/books?id=oYZGAQAAQBAJ&pg=PA6&lpg=PA6&dq=redmanol+chemical+products+founder&source=bl&ots=juthNFh-rW&sig=b9qO8plogjv6fj_u2TBjkdpIfCM&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj-gNj4h9nNAhUM9YMKHXKjBwMQ6AEINDAE#v=onepage&q=redmanol%20chemical%20products%20founder&f=false, Phenolic Resins Technology Handbook, by NPCS Board of Consultants and Engineers, 2017, excerpted by permission
https://books.google.com/books?id=nTs8AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA144&lpg=PA144&dq=redmanol+bakelite+infringement+judgment&source=bl&ots=TCel6fmccJ&sig=ehZijKCRrQSs- RnL6xiDbVA5aKM&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi39veundvNAhUT32MKHbeiCJwQ6AEIHDAA#v=onepage&q=redmanol%20bakelite%20infringement%20judgment&f=false Factory and Industrial Management, Vol. LXIV, No. 3, August 1922, excerpted by permission (p.144)
https://books.google.com/books?id=11FHAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA816&dq=in+search+of+the+man+made+amber+redmanol&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwis5OvgmNvNAhVk0oMKHYveA6sQ6AEIIzAB#v=onepage&q=in%20search%20of%20the%20man%20made%20amber%20redmanol&f=false Compton’s Pictured Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, excerpted by permission (p. 818)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakelite
https://rebornpipes.com/2016/07/05/the-scintillating-antique-kbb-redmanol-pipe/
http://www.jhlowe.com/bits-bakelite.htm
https://rebornpipes.com/2013/10/14/louis-blumfeld-1901-bbb-bent-billiard-by-james-gilliam-of-jsecpipes-com/comment-page-1/#comment-23486
https://www.minerals.net/gemstone/amber_gemstone.aspx
http://mentalfloss.com/article/73608/15-clear-facts-about-amber
https://www.amazon.com/REPLACEMENT-TOBACCO-STEMS-AMBER-STRAIGHT/dp/B01HZU8NBU
https://www.amazon.com/REPLACEMENT-TOBACCO-STEMS-STRAIGHT-AMBER/dp/B01HZU7M94
https://leta.st/blog/2016/07/history-of-russian-amber-1/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baltic_amber
https://www.thefreedictionary.com/amberoid
https://www.shutterstock.com/search/amberoid
http://www.uniclectica.com/conserva/ivory1.html
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/06/02/its-final-selling-just-about-any-item-containing-elephant-ivory-is-a-crime-in-the-u-s/?utm_term=.fe4c2ac312fb
https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/03/06/591209422/trump-administration-quietly-decides-again-to-allow-elephant-trophy-imports
https://www.sciencehistory.org/distillations/magazine/celluloid-the-eternal-substitute
http://vermontfreehand.com/product/imitation-ivory/
https://www.amazon.com/ARVORIN-PLUS-Imitation-Substitute-Material/dp/B0755RG32T
https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2002-09-22-0209220243-story.html
https://www.dictionary.com/browse/casein
https://www2.palomar.edu/users/warmstrong/pljan99.htm https://www.ebay.com/itm/Antique-BONE-tenons-88-PIECES-Lot-of-Assorted-Sizes-Victorian-Vintage-pipe-/202297224337
http://www.jhlowe.com/misc-items.htm
http://www.smokingmetal.co.uk/pipe.php?page=56
http://www.kirstenpipe.com/pipes.html
https://www.etsy.com/shop/DonWarrenPipes?section_id=22062561
http://www.musiccitymarketing.com/cart_catalog_search.cfm
https://www.dgehandmadepipes.com/catalog/replacement-falconviking-bowls
https://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-NOS-ARISTOCOB-REFILL-COB-BOWLS-3-PER-BOX-ESTATE-PIPE-ALUMINUM-METAL-NOS/323553620046?hash=item4b554c704e:g:HGYAAOSwlHJbOmP0:rk:2:pf:0
https://www.owlpipes.com/product-page/briar-aristocob-inserts
http://www.jhlowe.com/misc-items.htm https://pipedia.org/wiki/Kirsten_Pipe_Company
https://pipedia.org/wiki/Falcon
http://www.smokingmetal.co.uk/pipe.php?page=366
https://www.markwaterpumps.limited/falcon-pipes-aluminium-die-casting-specialist-keeps-traditional-product-alive/
https://www.paykocimports.com/plastic-tenon-screw-set-3-pack/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polymer
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluoropolymer
http://www.royalmeerschaumpipes.com/Regular-Stem-Push-Pull-Fittings-p/sft-3.htm
http://www.walkerpiperepair.com/html/pipe_repairs.html

Restoring a Generation 2 Kirsten AX Aladdin Brass Tone


Blog by Steve Laug

I bought my first Kirsten – a Mandarin in the early 80s from a pipe shop that specialized in them in Idaho Falls, Idaho. That shop is long since gone but there is still something about Kirsten pipes that attracts my attention. It may be the design look of the pipe and it may be the stubborn resolve that gave birth to it when Kirsten invented it after getting word from his doctor that he had to stop smoking. I don’t what it is but I like the boxy look of the base and shank, the grooves in the machined metal, the rugged look of the bowls and the gentle curves of the stem. They always catch my eye. This one is no exception. I can’t remember where Jeff picked this one up but it a good one. It has O rings on the stem and the end valve and a base on the bowl so I know that it is one of the more modern renditions. Jeff took photos of it before he worked his magic in the cleanup process.The stem was lightly oxidized with minor tooth chatter but no deep marks. The Brass Tone finish was lightly scratched and dirty in the grooves. The rusticated bowl was undamaged but filthy. There was dirt and dust ground into the grooves of the briar and the bowl had a thick cake. The rim was covered in an overflow of the lava from the bowl but looked to be in good condition. I was hoping that the valve was not stuck in the end of the shank. Jeff took photos of the bowl from various angles to give an idea of the rustication pattern and the general condition of the pipe.He took the pipe apart and took photos of the pieces to show how it all looked before cleaning. The valve was dirty and gummed up with tobacco juices as was the push rod. The bowl cake is noticeably thick in the photos. The screw in the bottom of the bowl was loose enough to take the bowl off without damage to the slot. The base was stamped Kirsten in script on the left side mid shank. On the underside it was stamped Made in U.S.A. with the letters AX following it.The next two photos show the oxidation on the stem and the minimal tooth chatter on the surface.

With the photos in hand I went over the details of the stamping on a previous blog that I had posted by Dave Whitney who wrote Old Briar. He gave a helpful guide to dating a Kirsten pipe by the stamping and component parts. He separated them into generations – 1, 1.5, 2, 3. Going over the details I concluded that what I was dealing with a Generation 2 pipe that was made between 1958 and 1985. Here is the link and a portion of the blog. I have italicized the portions that pertain to this particular pipe.

https://rebornpipes.com/2012/11/03/kirsten-generation-1-1-5-2-3/

Generation 2 – 1958-1985

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. This generation came in the following models:

Straights

K Companion

G Gem

S Sportsman

SX Sportsman Brass

M Mariner

MB Mariner Black

L Lancer

Quarter-Bents

A Aladdin

V Vagabond

CX Cavalier Brass

T Tyrolean

Full bents

W Westerner

B Beau Geste

P Premier

F Firesider

…Generally speaking, the X added to a model letter like “S” stands for brass tone finish, i.e., “SX.” There is one exception to this: In the 1960s Kirsten made a brass tone model with an “Eternalum” finish that gave the brass tone an antiqued look. They were marked with a “X” designation following the model letter. The B added to a model letter like “M” stands for black finish, i.e., “MB.”

Jeff did his usual thorough clean up on this pipe. He scrubbed the inside and outside of the barrel shank with brushes and Murphy’s Oil Soap. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and finished with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the bowl exterior with the oil soap and a tooth brush and rinsed the whole pipe under running water. He cleaned the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until it was clean. He soaked the stem in an OxyClean bath to raise the oxidation and soften it. When the pipe arrived here in Canada it was in far better condition than it was in the photos above. It cleaned up amazingly well. I took photos of it before I put on the finishing touches. Jeff was able to get the tars and lava off the rim and once they were gone it revealed a nicely grained smooth top on the bowl. The edges of the rim looked good and the screw in the bottom of the bowl was undamaged.The stem needed work to remove the oxidation but even that was pretty light. There were scratches in the surface of the stem that would need to be polished out but it was in good condition.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the remaining oxidation and the tooth chatter on the top and underside near the button.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-4000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I buffed the stem with red Tripoli and Blue Diamond after the 4000 grit pad to polish out the tougher oxidation. I brought the pipe back to the work table and finished polishing it with 6000-12000 grit micromesh pads. Once again I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad and when I finished with the last pad I set it aside to dry. While the oil was drying I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean and enliven the briar. I applied it by hand and worked it into the finish with my fingers. I buffed the bowl with a shoe brush and then a microfiber cloth to give it a sheen.I put the stem back on the bowl and worked the pipe over on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond to polish the bowl and shank. I used a gentle touch on the rusticated briar when I was buffing it so that the nooks and crannies of the rustication would not be filled in with the polish and make more work for me. I buffed the stem with a harder touch to raise the gloss on the rubber. I gave the bowl multiple coats Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a shoe brush. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the entire pipe 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 rich combination of dark brown and medium brown stain on the rustication and smooth rim, the Brass Tone barrel/shank/base along with the rich black of the vulcanite stem make this a stunning example of the Kirsten pipes. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Diameter of the chamber: 7/8 inches. I will be adding this one to the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. It will make a fine addition to the rack. If you are interested email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

1975-1976 Kirsten Pipe Company Catalog


This is the last of the Kirsten Pipe Catalogs that I received. It is from 1975-1976. Once again enjoy this blast from the past. It comes from the year I got married – 40+ years ago now. I remember I picked up my first Kirsten not long after that time. There is something about the design that intrigues me so I really like reading the old pieces of literature from the company.

1973-1974 Kirsten Pipe Company Catalog


This is the second of the Kirsten Pipe Company Catalogues. While there are some similarities between the first one I posted and this one notice the subtle changes in colour, in bowl shapes offered and of course in prices. I have two more catalogues to scan from the years that follow and I find this kind of thing fascinating to read. If you are like me in this then enjoy! Inserted in the cover was a Kirsten Meerschaum bowl and pipe leaflet as well as advertisement for a boxed set of pipes.

1974-1975 Kirsten Pipe Company Catalog


I received an email while I was traveling to my mom’s 90th birthday from a reader who was selling 6 Kirsten pipes and wanted to know if I was interested in buying them. He sent a photo and to my surprise they included not only the pipe but some parts, boxes, extra bowls and some catalogs. This is the first of them – a 1974-1975 Catalog. I thought you all might be interested in having a look.

 

Restoring a Kirsten Generation 1 Medium Straight Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

My brother continues to look for Kirsten estate pipes. He picked up this Kirsten because it looked like an old-timer. When I received it I could see that he was right about it being an older one. All the signs were there. The bowl was threaded directly on the barrel of the pipe and bottom cap that is on new models was not present. When the stem was removed there were no O rings on the end of the insert. The valve cap was stuck in the end of the shank and it could not be turned. The rim had a lava overflow on it and there was a heavy cake in the bowl. 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 and a dirty brown colour. There were tooth marks next to the button on the top and the bottom sides of the stem. The rod that ran through the barrel was dirty and coated with tars and oils that had hardened.K1 K2The left side of the barrel is stamped Kirsten in script. The underside is stamped Pats. & Pats.  Pend. USA M. The stamping along with the absence of O rings, the bowl screwed directly on top of the barrel pointed to a Generation 1 Kirsten which dated it between the years 1936-1958. In a previous blog I spelled out the features of each generation of Kirsten pipes that were released. https://rebornpipes.com/2012/11/03/kirsten-generation-1-1-5-2-3/ I quote the following from there: The wooden bowl on this generation connects directly to the metal barrel and there is no metal cup spacer. It is a pretty flush fit that goes flat against the barrel. On the underside of the metal barrel it is stamped with one or more of the following “Pat. Appl. For” (1936-38) and “Pats. & Pats. Pending” (1938-1958) over “Made in USA” – S” (or applicable size – S, M, L). There are no O-rings on the bit or metal shank insert. The M stamp on the pipe identifies it as a Medium sized pipe.

So I armed with that information I knew that the pipe I had, came from the time period of 1936-1958 and the lack of O rings on the mouthpiece and I assumed on the valve once I was able to remove confirmed that. I was ready to get to work on the pipe. I heated the valve insert with a heat gun to loosen the tars that held the cap in place. It did not take too long and I was able to insert a screw driver in the barrel and tap on the valve.K3The next photo shows the pipe taken apart. The condition of all of the parts is clear – dirty but functional. The knurled edges on the valve were damaged by previous attempts by someone else to remove the valve with pliers. In the photo above there are pliers present but I did not use them on the end cap.K4The screw in the bottom of the bowl was held in place by the cake in the bowl. The photo also shows the condition of the bowl and the rim. The other close-up photos show the stem and the tooth marks on both sides near the button.K5 K6I sanded the stem with 180 and 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and the tooth marks. I was able to blend the tooth damage into the flow of the stem because fortunately they were not deep.K7I lightly topped the bowl on the topping board to remove the damage to the rim and the build-up.K8I reamed the bowl with the Savinelli Pipe Knife and took the cake back to bare briar. I sanded the inside of the bowl with a piece of sandpaper to clean out the remaining cake.K9I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with cotton pads and acetone to remove the grime and the remaining finish.K10 K11I scrubbed the rod on the stem unit with acetone to remove the tars and oils. I did the same with the exterior of the valve.K12I cleaned out the tarry build-up in the valve/end cap with cotton swabs and alcohol.K13I cleaned out the barrel with cotton swabs and rolled cotton pads and alcohol pushed through the opening with a screw driver. I also pushed a rolled piece of 0000 steel wool through the barrel to polish the inside. I used pipe cleaners to clean out the threads in the opening on the top of the barrel.K14I cleaned up the screw and the airway through the screw with a dental pick, pipe cleaners and alcohol. I cleaned the threads on the screw with cotton swabs and alcohol.K15I polished the aluminum barrel with Meguiar’s Scratch X2.0 and cotton swabs.K16I restained the bowl with a dark brown stain pen. K17I put the bowl on the barrel buffed them with Blue Diamond on the wheel to polish the stain and even out the coat on the bowl as well as polish the aluminum. The next photos show the bowl and barrel at this point in the process.K18 K19I cleaned out the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol and then worked on the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and gave it a coat of Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I set the stem aside to dry.K20 K21 K22I gave the pipe and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the barrel, bowl and stem with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to add depth to the shine. The photos below show the finished pipe. This one will also go on the store soon. If you are interested in it let me know. Thanks for looking.K23 K24 K25 K26 K27 K28 K29

 

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

Found an Old Patents Pending Generation 1 Kirsten A


Blog by Steve Laug

Another pipe from the treasure trove my brother Jeff sent me was an early Kirsten. The metal barrel is stamped Kirsten in script on the left side of the barrel and on the underside it is stamped Pats. & Pats. Pend. – A. When I received it the bowl would unscrew from the barrel and it had no metal cap on the bottom. It was a wooden bowl without the cap which along with the stamping pointed to an early Kirsten. The stem and rod were stuck in the barrel and the adjustable valve on the front of the barrel was frozen solid. The valve had evidently been frozen for some time as someone had used pliers on it to try to remove it. They had left behind the tooth marks of the pliers on the aluminum valve cover. Because of the vulcanite lip on the stem that sat against the barrel that there would not be a rubber grommet between the stem and the barrel. The bowl had a thick, rock hard cake and the bottom of the bowl was not visible to see what the condition of the screw head was like. I have no idea how the pipe man ever drew air through this pipe as the bottom of the bowl was solid. The finish on the bowl was dull and lifeless with no grain visible through the grime. The top of the rim was covered with over flow from the cake in the bowl. It was a large bowl initially so once the cake was gone it would be an inch in diameter.Kirsten1 I looked up information to see if I could find a cut away drawing of the Kirsten and found this one and a bit of history and information on the concept of the Kirsten pipe. The following is from the Kirsten website https://www.kirstenpipe.com/page_pipestyles.shtml and https://www.kirstenpipe.com/page ourstory.shtmlKirsten2 “It is by no means merely puffery to say that Professor Frederick K. Kirsten was a genuine American original. He first sailed to this country in 1902, as a cabin boy from Hamburg, Germany. After successfully rounding the Horn and eluding the shanghai gangs of the West Coast, he navigated the educational system at the University of Washington to become a Professor of Aeronautical Engineering. Here, his inventive spirit took wing. He created the world-famous Kirsten Wind Tunnel, Air-washing equipment for factories, an air-cooled Utopian Bed, and, most notably, a revolutionary propeller which enables boats to stop and turn on a dime. Today, in the same waters where he jumped ship almost 100 years ago, ocean-going vessels are landed by sturdy tugs driven by Kirsten cycloidal propellers, piloted by equally sturdy captains smoking cool Kirsten pipes.”

“Rightly called the coolest pipe in the world, this latter innovation came about when a doctor advised Professor Kirsten to switch from cigarettes. He quickly dreamed up a way to trap the moisture, tars and tongue-biting acids which attack the users of briar pipes. After 50 years and counting, Kirsten pipes are still produced by the Kirsten family, faithfully following the basic designs of this father of invention.”

“Professor Kirsten revolutionized pipesmoking by creating the Radiator stem. When tobacco, which is 30% to 60% moisture, is lit in the bowl, it creates steam. As the smoke is drawn through the stem, the steam is cooled and condenses into a liquid. This bitter-tasting liquid is trapped in the stem, along with tars, nicotine and tongue-biting acids.”

“Only clean, cool, moisture-free smoke passes through the intake tube to the mouthpiece. To remove the trapped liquid, you simply remove the valve. You can clean a KIRSTEN in seconds by pushing a tissue through the bore of the stem, exactly as you would clean a gun barrel.”

The cleaning in seconds must not have been something that the previous owner of this pipe ever read or understood. I decided to work on the bowl first as it was the only part of the pipe that I could remove at that point in the process. I took the photo below to give an idea of the thickness of the cake and the minimal size of the air hole at the bottom of the bowl. You can see that it is virtually clogged and the airflow would be very restricted.Kirsten3 The lack of a cap on the bottom of the bowl can be seen in the next three photos. The first two photos show the state of the finish. In the second one you can see the grain peeking through the grime on the finish. In the third photo you can see the stamping on the bottom of the bowl. It reads Kirsten Pats Appl For.Kirsten4

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Kirsten6 I put the barrel and stem in an alcohol bath to soak overnight to try to loosen the frozen stem and rod.Kirsten7 I reamed the bowl with the largest cutting head on the PipNet reamer and took the cake back to bare briar. I used a pen knife to work on the bottom of the bowl and was finally able to see the characteristic Kirsten screw. I sanded the inside of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper and used an ice pick to remove the screw. From the underside of the bowl I inserted the ice pick into the drilled centre of the screw and tapped it gently and the screw came free from the bowl.Kirsten8

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Kirsten10 I lightly topped the rim on a topping board to remove the damage and the build up on that surface.Kirsten10

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Kirsten12 I scrubbed down the exterior of the bowl and rim with acetone on cotton pads to remove the grime and the remaining finish. I was quite pleasantly surprised by the grain that was revealed in the process.Kirsten13

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Kirsten15 I cleaned the inside and the outside of the screw with a tooth brush and alcohol until it shone.Kirsten16

Kirsten17 I sanded the bowl with a medium and a fine grit sanding block to clean up the scratches and smooth out the finish on the sides and top of the bowl.Kirsten18 I wet sanded the bowl with micromesh sanding pads from 1500-2400 grit and dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads.Kirsten19

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Kirsten21 I took the barrel out of the bath and put it in a cup of boiling water. I dipped both ends into the boiling water hoping to break one of the frozen ends loose. I was able to remove the stem and the rod assembly after the alcohol bath and the boiling water dip. The stem and the rod were quite brown with the shellac of old tobacco juices. Of course dipping the stem in the boiling water caused the oxidation on the stem to come to the surface.Kirsten22

Kirsten23 I scrubbed the rod assembly with 0000 steel wool and alcohol to remove the shellac coat that had built up and polish it. There was some corrosion that came to light at the middle of the rod. I would need to work on that once I had cleaned up the stem.Kirsten24 I sanded the stem and rod with 220 grit sandpaper and then with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches.Kirsten25

Kirsten26 I worked on the stem and rod with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and then rubbing down the stem with Obsidian Oil. The micromesh pads removed the last of the corrosion on the rod and polished it. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave the stem another coat of oil. I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I failed to take photos of the final steps in the micromesh process but it is the typical procedure and each successive grit of pads gave more of a polish to the vulcanite.Kirsten27 I cleaned out the stem and tenon with alcohol and pipe cleaners inserted from both ends. I was able to clean out all of the oils and tars and the cleaners came out clean.Kirsten28 Now the bowl and the stem unit were cleaned, polished and ready to go once I was able to remove the valve from the end of the barrel. This was proving a very difficult task. I had put the barrel in the freezer overnight hoping to loosen the valve – no luck. I had boiled it multiple times – no luck. I had given it several alcohol baths – no luck. I let it sit with penetrating oil in the barrel to try to loosen the valve end. I tried to drive it out with a round end file and a small hammer. Nothing worked. I posted that on rebornpipes and got a response from Old Man in the Cave suggesting that I heat it with a heat gun.

I geared up for the process. He had suggested setting the barrel in a wood vise which is a tool I don’t have yet. I chose instead to hold the barrel with some insulated leather gloves over the heat gun. I heated the barrel with gun until it was hot. Then I used a pair of pliers that had cotton pads on the jaws and gave it a light twist and the valve came free. I don’t know if the heat from the gun finally did what I should have done in the first place or if the combination of methods finally came together and it worked. It does not matter as the valve finally came free. I now know why the later models of Kirsten pipes came with a rubber o-ring around the valve and the stem so that it provided something between the two metal pieces and the barrel. Somehow the combination of tobacco juice and saliva left to sit becomes shellac or lacquer that is almost impossible to break free. Thanks to Old Man in the Cave the valve is free and I could finally clean out the barrel and put the pipe back together. The next photos show the condition of the valve once I was able to remove it from the barrel. You can see the tapered angle of the top portion of the valve (on the right below the cap). The lacquer or shellac that bound the valve in the barrel is also very evident. I am guessing that there would have been much more if it had not been sitting in alcohol and been heated so much. But even that little band held the valve tightly in place.Kirsten29

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Kirsten32 I scrubbed the valve and the inside of the barrel with 0000 steel wool. I ran the steel wool through the barrel to clean out the build up inside and then used a wooden dowel to push alcohol soak cotton pads through the barrel to clean it until it shone. I cleaned out the inside of the valve with alcohol and cotton swabs. I was able to get everything shining again. It took some work to remove some of the tooth marks that were on the valve end from previous owners who had attempted to turn it but I was able to sand them smooth with micromesh sanding pads. They are still present but not as obvious.

Once all the parts were clean and polished I greased the valve and the end of the stem and rod unit with Vaseline so that it would slide into the barrel with less resistance. I know that it will not stop the buildup of tars but it will at least slow it down. The next photos show the disassembled pipe and then the pipe put back together. The valve turned easily and I aligned the hole in the valve with the hole in the top of the barrel where the bowl screwed in place. The airflow was clear and unrestricted.Kirsten33

Kirsten34 I hand buffed the barrel with Meguiar’s Scratch X2.0 to remove the scratches and give it a shine. I rubbed on some Conservators Wax and then hand buffed the barrel with a shoe brush. I buffed the briar bowl with Blue Diamond on the wheel and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean flannel buff. Once I had finished I screwed the bowl in place and buffed it a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below.Kirsten35

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Kirsten38 I took the pipe apart so that I could take the next two pictures to show the cleaned and polished parts. Everything is once again in working order. It was clear looking at all of the parts that I was dealing with a Generation 1 Kirsten. These were made between the years 1936-1958. The wooden bowl on this generation connects directly to the metal barrel and there is no metal cup spacer. It is a pretty flush fit that goes flat against the barrel. On the underside of the metal barrel it is stamped with one or more of the following “Pat. Appl. For” (1936-38) and “Pats. & Pats. Pending” (1938-1958) over “Made in USA” – S” (or applicable size – S, M, L). There are no O-rings on the bit or metal shank insert.Kirsten39

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