Tag Archives: LH Stern pipes

A Rebirth for LHS Sterncrest Hunter’s Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from an online auction from Schulenburg, Texas, USA. It is classic Billiard with mixed grain around the bowl and shank. It is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Sterncrest [over] LHS in a Diamond [over] Imported Briar. There is a Sterling Silver band on the shank that has the image of a hunting dog (pointer) [over] Sterling on the top side. I have worked on and restored quite a few American made LHS (LH Stern) pipes over the years and quite a few have been Sterncrest. However, this is the first one I have done with the hunting dog etched in the Sterling Silver band. The finish was very dirty with dust and grime ground into the bowl sides and obscuring the grain. There were some putty fills and deep nicks in the finish around the bowl sides. There was a very thick cake in the bowl and lava overflow on the beveled rim top. The silver band was oxidized and dirty. The vulcanite stem was oxidized, calcified and had deep tooth marks and chatter ahead of the button on both sides. Jeff took photos of the pipe to show its general condition before he did his cleanup.  As I mentioned above the exterior of the pipe was very dirty – grime and grit ground in from years of use and sitting. I have to say that this was obviously someone’s favourite pipe judging from the buildup in the bowl. The rim top was covered with a coat of thick lava that overflowed from the extremely thick cake in the bowl. It was hard to know what the rim edges looked like because of the lava.  The stem was dirty and oxidized with tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside of the stem at the button. Jeff took photos of the sides and the heel of the bowl to give a better feel for the condition of the briar around the bowl. The pink fills are visible all around the bowl sides.  The next photos show the stamping on the side of the shank and the etched hunting dog on the band. The stamping is very readable. It reads as noted above. The stamped dog comes through in the tarnished silver in the pictures.  Jeff took a photo of the stem removed from the shank to show the pressure fit stinger in the tenon.Jeff cleaned the pipes with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. The pipe was a real mess when he got it and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. I was surprised to see how well it turned out. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming 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. The putty fills had all fallen out on the sides and front of the bowl and left pits.  Jeff scrubbed it 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 the stem surface. I wanted to show what cleaned bowl and rim top looked like. The rim top shows some darkening and some damage to the inner edge of the rim on the front. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth chatter and marks on the stem surface.     I took a photo of the stamping on the side of the shank and it is clear and readable. It is stamped as noted above. I removed the stem for the shank and took a photo of the bowl and stem to give a picture of what it looked like. It is a classically shaped Billiard. To me the stinger needs to go!Now, on to my part of the restoration of this Sterncrest Billiard. I decided to clean up the damaged rim top and inner edge of the bowl. I cleaned up the inside of the bowl edges with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I sanded the darkening on the rim top with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. Once I was finished the top and edge looked a lot better.  I was glad to see that all of the pink putty fills had come out during the cleanup process. I decided to replace them with briar dust and clear super glue. There were actually quite a few of them. I did the repairs to the fills and took photos of the “freckles” around the mid-bowl on the left, front and right sides. Once the repairs cured I sanded them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper. I wiped the bowl down with isopropyl alcohol to remove the debris and the heavier stained areas and even out the coverage on the bowl. I wanted to make the stain more transparent so the grain would show through the finish.   I polished the top of the bowl, the repaired areas and the entirety of the bowl 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 briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for 10-15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.     I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I heated the stinger and wiggled it free from the tenon with a pair of pliers. I dropped the stem in Briarville’s Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover to clean up the remaining oxidation. I let it sit in the bath for 2 hours and then removed it and dried it off. I forgot to take a photo of the stem when I removed it from the bath. I dried it off and then filled in the deep tooth marks with black super glue. I set the stem aside to let the repairs cure. Once the repair had cured I used a flat rasp and a file to clean up the button edge and flatten out the repairs. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to further blend the repairs into the vulcanite. I started polishing the stem 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.  I left a little oxidation around the stamp so as not to damage it more.      This LHS Sterncrest Hunter’s Billiard turned out to be a great looking pipe. The brown stained brown mixed finish (smooth/rusticated) on the pipe is in great condition and works well with the polished vulcanite taper stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe 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. The finished LHS Sterncrest Billiard fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 36g/1.27oz. If you are interested in carrying on the pipe man’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. I have more to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

New Life for an American Made LHS Certified Purex Pencil Shank Prince


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the worktable is another American made pipe from LH Stern of Brooklyn, New York. I will give more information on the brand later in the blog. This one is a classic smooth finished, grained flat bottom Prince with a thin taper vulcanite stem. It has a mix of grain around the bowl and shank sides. Jeff purchased it from an online auction on 03/06/18 from Nampa, Idaho, USA so it has been around the shop for a while. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Certified Purex [over] LHS in a diamond [over] Imported Briar. On the underside of the shank it is stamped with the shape number 55. The pipe is dirty with a thick cake in the bowl and a thick lava overflow on the rim top. It looks like the inner edge of the rim is damaged on the back side of the bowl. The finish was dusty with grime ground into the finish around the sides of the bowl. The black vulcanite stem is oxidized, calcified and has tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took a photo of the bowl and rim top to show their general condition. You can see the lava on the rim top and the thick cake in the bowl. There is damage on the rear inner edge of the bowl. The stem is oxidized, calcified and has tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.      Jeff took some photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give an idea of the grain around the bowl. I cannot wait to see what it looks like once it is cleaned and polished. He took a photo of the stamping on the sides of the shank to capture it for me. It is clear and readable. I turned to Pipephil to get a feel for the history of the brand and have included a screen capture of the pertinent section on the site below (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-lhs.html). I quote:

The L&H Stern Inc. was established by Ludwig Stern (1877-1942) in 1911. His brother Hugo (1872-?) acted as vice-president & secretary. The firm moved to 56 Pearl St. Brooklyn in 1920. It closed down in the 1960s. LHS was one of the main pipe supplier for US soldiers during WWII.I turned to Pipedia for any additional information (https://pipedia.org/wiki/LHS). The article gave and expanded history of the brand and a list of the grades of pipes in 1944. I have included that below.

The brand had 8 pipe grades listed in the 1944 issue of Outdoor Magazine.

Sterncrest Ultrafine $ 10

Sterncrest 14K $ 7.50

Sterncrest Sterling $ 5

Certified Purex $3.50

Select Grain $2.50

Sivercrest $ 2

Superfine Purex $1.50

Sculpted Purex $1.50

 In addition to the above grades, a 1944 catalog also listed the following lines and models:

Barrister

Marwyn

Park Lane

Radmanol

Warwick

Additional notes: Some models were made before, during, and after WWII. LHS was one of the main pipe supplier for US soldiers during WWII.

Pre-war pipes were stamped Real Briar Root, or Briar Root. Some war time pipes were made from domestic briar, or “American” briar and were void of any briar stampings. Many American pipe makers lost their over seas supply of Mediterranean briar shortly before and during the war. Post war pipes were stamped Imported Briar to assure customers that they were buying premium briar once again.

Now I had a pretty good idea of how the pipe was stamped and made. With that information I moved forward to work on the pipe itself and see what I had to do with it. Jeff had done an amazing job in removing all of the cake and the lava on the rim top. He had reamed the bowl with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He took the cake back to bare briar so we could check the walls for damage. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime on the bowl and rim and was able to remove the lava and dirt. He cleaned out the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they came out clean. He cleaned the stem with Soft Scrub to remove the grime on the exterior and cleaned out the airway with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed if off and recleaned the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration. I took some photos of the rim top and stem. The rim top and inner edge of the bowl shows damage and burned areas. It is out of round and will need some work. The close up photos of the stem shows that the surface of the stem is pitted. There are tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside of the stem near the button.  I took a photo of the stamping on the side and the underside of the shank to show the condition after the cleanup. This stamping is readable and looks good.  I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe at this point. You can clearly see the condition, size and shape of the pipe.I started my part of the restoration work on this pipe by addressing the damage and darkening on the edge of the rim, particularly on the front and rear of the inner edge. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage to the bowl.  I started polishing the edge with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I sanded the outside of the briar with micromesh sanding pads to polish the finish. I wet sanded with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads and wiped it down with a damp pad after each pad.     I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for about ten minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process.  I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a cloth containing some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth.   This LHS Certified Purex Prince with a pencil shank and stem is a nice looking pipe. The finish looks very good and the grain stands out. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I carefully avoided the stamping on the shank sides during the process. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad on the buffer. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is an excellent example of the Purex line of pipes that were made by LHS Stern. The flow of the grain and the way the shape follows it is very well done. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ¼ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This interesting LHS Certified Purex Prince is a great looking pipe in excellent condition. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store soon. If you want to add it to your collection send me an email or a message! Thanks for your time.

Restoring a Odd LH Stern Filtrex Air Cooled Filter Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table is another odd one that I have looked at several times over the years and then put back in the box of pipes to be restored. We picked it up on EBay in 2017 out of Illinois and it has been sitting here since then. To me it is another pipe that characterizes the perpetual hunt for the perfect flavourful and cool smoke. Today I decided to bring it to the table and work on it. This one is an oddity made by LHS. It has a briar bowl with the screw holding it to the top of the metal tube that forms the shank. The smooth finished bowl is either a bulldog or Rhodesian bowl with the twin rings around the cap. The shank piece is oxidized aluminum with cooling fins and a threaded end cap that is removable for cleaning. The stem is plastic (perhaps nylon or an early acrylic). It was stamped on the stem with the LHS in a Diamond logo. There is no other information on the shank in terms of a line of pipes or a shape number. The pipe was dirty with grime ground into the finish. There was a cake in the bowl and lava overflow and bubbling of the finish on the rim top. The inner edge of the rim appeared to be in okay condition but we would know once it was cleaned. The stem was dirty and deep tooth marks and chatter ahead of the button on both sides. Jeff took photos of the pipe as it was when he received it from the EBay seller. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to give an idea of the thickness of the cake in the bowl and the condition of the rim top. The pipe was a mess and it would take a lot of work. He also took photos of the condition of the stem to give a picture of the shank. He ends with photos of the stem surface. You can see the tooth marks in the stem material on both sides of the stem.   He took a photo of the stamping on the topside of the stem. It is reads as noted above.Jeff took photos of the sides of the bowl and the condition of the exterior of the bowl and the aluminum shank that the bowl is screwed into. It really is an odd looking pipe. I am anxious to see it looks like when I take it apart. The shank end cap has knurled edges and I am wondering if it would be stuck in the shank and unmovable. There appears to be a shellac or varnish coat on the bowl to give it the shine that shows through the grime.    You can see that Jeff was able to remove the cap. The threads appear to be in excellent condition. The stem also came of the metal shank quite easily. Inside was a disintegrating paper filter that was really just a pile of debris. It was a mess.  He also included photos of the shank and stem. Before I started working on it I did a bit of research on the brand to see if I could find anything mentioned in the two sites I regularly check for background information. I turned first to Pipephil’s site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-lhs.html). There was a great summary of the history of the brand but nothing on this particular unique pipe. I include that summary below:

The L&H Stern Inc. was established by Ludwig Stern (1877-1942) in 1911. His brother Hugo (1872-?) acted as vice-president & secretary. The firm moved to 56 Pearl St. Brooklyn in 1920. It closed down in the 1960s. LHS was one of the main pipe suppliers for US soldiers during WWII.

I did a quick look at Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/LHS) and there was a longer version of the same information as well as lot of photos of the wide range of LHS produced pipes. It is well worth a visit however there was no information on this particular odd pipe. The one thing that was included that proved a gold mine was an LHS Catalogue from 1946. I have included the link as well as a screen capture of the FILTREX pipe and information included from the catalogue (https://pipedia.org/images/b/b8/LHS_Catalog_1946.pdf).

The page contained this information: The Filtrex pipe is probably the coolest smoking pipe yet made. The aluminum cooling coils with highly absorbent filter keeps the pipe cool and dry at all times. A package of 20 Filtrex absorbent filters free with each pipe. The Filtrex pipe can be had with solid rubber bits or “easy grip” plastic bits.

From there I turned to the Smoking metal collectors website to check out the possible information that it would provide (http://www.smokingmetal.co.uk/pipe.php?page=224). It included two listing for the LHS Filtrex pipe stating that it came in two different sizes. I have included that information and photos below.

The diameter of this pipe is smaller than the normal Stern. Carries the LHS in a diamond logo on the plastic mouthpiece.  The larger of the two L H Stern pipes, identical except for size.    Now it was time to work on the pipe. Given the horrible condition of the pipe shown above I was wondering what it would look like after the cleanup. Jeff did an amazing job on this one. With odd design combining briar, aluminum and plastic it was a lot of detail work to get it clean. The pipe is similar in design Kirstens. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet Reamer and cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. He cleaned out the internals of the shank and airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the externals of the pipe with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed with running water. The pipe looked a lot better than when he started. Internally it was spotless and smelled clean. I took some photos of the pipe before I started my work on it.      I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. I wanted to show the condition of the rim top and edges of the bowl. The outer edges were in okay condition. The inner edges had nick toward the front of the bowl. There was still some peeling varnish on the rim top. There were nicks and gouges in the top of the rim toward the front. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the deep tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button.    I took photos of the stamping on the top of the stem. It is faint but readable. It is stamped as noted above.   I took a photo of the pipe with the stem removed to give and idea of the proportions of the bowl and shank unit and the stem.I took the pipe apart and took photos of the parts.     I decided to start my restoration on this old timer by addressing the varnish or shellac on the bowl by wiping it down with acetone to remove it. Once the finish was gone the briar looked very good.    I moved on to deal with the damage to the inner edge and the rim top. I sanded the inner edge with a folded piece of 220 sandpaper to bring it back into round.  I filled in the flaws on the rim top with clear super glue. I let it cure and sanded them smooth with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper.   I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the repair and blend it into the surface of the rim.   I polished the bowl with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the rim top off after each pad with a damp cloth. The shine began to look very good. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the rusticated briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine.      I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the aluminum shank. I buffed it with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel to raise a shine. I put a Dr. Grabow Charcoal Filter in the shank. The second half of the filter extends into the stem attachment once I have it done.  I screwed the bowl back on to the shank and took photos of what the pipe look like so far. It is looking pretty good at this point in the process. All that is left is the stem to clean up and polish.   Now it was time to work on the stem. There was a chip out of the outer edge of the button. I filled it in with clear super glue. Once the repair cured I sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and topped the edge on the topping board to flatten out the outer edge of the button.    I sanded the tooth marks and chatter on the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the surrounding vulcanite. I started polishing process with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.        I used some Rub’n Buff Antique Gold to touch up the LHS Diamond on the top of the stem. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. This restored LHS (LH Stern) Filtrex Air Cooled Filter pipe turned out to be a good looking pipe (I think I can call this oddity good looking). The unique set up of the pipe is still a part of the hunt for the dry, cool smoke. That is what makes it interesting to me. The contrasting brown stains on the bowl worked really well with the polished aluminum shank and polished yellow plastic stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe without the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Carnauba Wax. I gave the stem multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax. I 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. The finished LHS Filtrex Air Cooled Filter Pipe sits well in the hand and feels great. 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: ¾ of an inch. This unique piece of American pipe history will be joining my collection of oddities that all were a part of the search for the perfect smoke. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

 

Restoring a Odd LH Stern System Pipe with a Sump and a Cleanout


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table is an odd one that I have looked at several times over the years and then put back in the box or pipes to be restored. We picked it up on EBay in 2016 and it has been sitting here since then. To me it is a pipe that characterizes the perpetual hunt for the perfect flavourful and cool smoke. Today I decided to bring it to the table and work on it. This one is an oddity made by LHS. It has a smooth rim, shank band and panel on the underside of the shank. The rest of the pipe is very nice tight rustication that almost looks like a sandblast. The top of the shank has opening with a threaded vulcanite cap that forms an entry into the airway. It is just ahead of the bowl shank junction. There was a crack in the shank on the right side that had spread enough that the stem no longer fit in the shank. It was stamped on the smooth underside of the shank. It reads Italian Briar [over] LHS in a Diamond (the LHS logo). There is no other information on the shank in terms of a line of pipes or a shape number. The pipe was dirty with grime ground into the finish. There was a thick cake in the bowl and lava overflow on the rim top. The inner edge of the rim was covered so thickly in lava it was hard to know what was underneath. The vulcanite stem was oxidized and had a burn mark on the right underside and deep tooth marks and chatter ahead of the button on both sides. Jeff took photos of the pipe as it was when he received it from the EBay seller. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to give an idea of the thickness of the cake in the bowl and the lava overflow on the rim top. The pipe was a mess and it would take a lot of work. He also took photos of the condition of the stem surface. You can see the oxidation and tooth marks in the stem on both sides as well as the burn mark in the third photo of the stem. He took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above.Jeff took photos of the sides of the bowl and the condition of the exterior of the bowl and the vulcanite cap that was on top of the shank. It really is an odd looking pipe. I am anxious to see what the drilling is like once I receive it in Vancouver. The edges on the cap are worn and damaged and I was wondering if it would be stuck in the shank and unmovable. But it seems that with a little work Jeff was able to unscrew it and took some photos of the shank with the cap removed to show me what it looked like.    You can see the threads in the opening and on the cap itself. They are in great condition. What is not visible in the photos to me is critical. What did the airway do with the opening? Did it go straight through or how did enter or leave the opening? I would learn. There was a lot of debris on the cap and in the opening. It was a mess.Before I started working on it I did a bit of research on the brand to see if I could find anything mentioned in the two sites I regularly check for background information. I turned first to Pipephil’s site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-lhs.html). There was a great summary of the history of the brand but nothing on this particular unique pipe. I include that summary below:

The L&H Stern Inc. was established by Ludwig Stern (1877-1942) in 1911. His brother Hugo (1872-?) acted as vice-president & secretary. The firm moved to 56 Pearl St. Brooklyn in 1920. It closed down in the 1960s. LHS was one of the main pipe suppliers for US soldiers during WWII.

I did a quick look at Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/LHS) and there was a longer version of the same information as well as lot of photos of the wide range of LHS produced pipes. It is well worth a visit however there was no information on this particular odd pipe.

Now it was time to work on the pipe. Given the horrible condition of the pipe shown above I was wondering what it would look like after the cleanup. Jeff did an amazing job on this one. With odd airway and capped sump it was a lot of detail work to get it clean. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet Reamer and cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. He cleaned out the internals of the shank and airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before and After Deoxidizer and rinsed off the remnants of the product and cleaned out the airway once more. The pipe looked a lot better than when he started. Internally it was spotless and smelled clean. I took some photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. I wanted to show the condition of the rim top and edges of the bowl. The outer edges were in okay condition. The inner edges had burn marks on the back half of the bowl and nicks and chipping on the front half. There were nicks and gouges in the top of the rim and it was slightly crowned. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the deep tooth marks, burn mark on the underside as well as the calcification, and oxidation on the stem surface. I took a photo of the stamping on the smooth panel on the underside of the shank is faint but readable. It is stamped as noted above.   I took a photo of the right side of the shank to show the crack in the shank at the stem shank joint. It is ragged and goes into the rustication for about ½ inch.I decided to start my restoration on this old timer by addressing the cracked shank. I went through my thin brass bands and found one that would work well and not interfere with the stamping. I wanted it to be tight enough that it would pull together the cracked surface. I ran a line of clear super glue in the crack and squeezed it together and lined up the band. I pressed the band in place on the shank and the crack disappeared.     I moved on to deal with the damage to the inner edge and the rim top. I sanded the edge with a folded piece of 220 sandpaper to bring it back into round. I gave it a light bevel to take care of the burn damage. Because the rim top had a slight crown I could not top it on the topping board to I sanded the rim top carefully with the same piece of folded sandpaper to remove the damage to the surface.  I polished the rim top and edges with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the rim top off after each pad with a damp cloth. The shine began to look very good.     I wanted to get a sense of the airflow from the bowl to the shank so I unscrewed the cap from the top of the shank. It turns out that the shank has a sump under the cap for capturing tars and liquid much like a Peterson System pipe. The airway enters the top of the sump at the bottom of the threads toward the bowl and leaves at the top just below the threads on the shank end. It is ½ inch deep from the top of the opening to the bottom of the shank. With the cap on the shank is a little over an inch thick at that point from the top of the cap to underside of the shank. I inserted a pipe cleaner into the airway on each side of the sump to show the flow. If you can picture it the shape is like a U. The system is in essence a sump and a clean out. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the rusticated briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine.         I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the surface of the stem to lift the tooth marks on both sides of the stem. I filled in the remaining tooth marks and the burn mark on the underside of the stem with black super glue.    Once the repairs cured I used a needle file to flatten the repaired areas and to recut and shape the edge of the button on both sides.    I sanded the repair with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the surrounding vulcanite. I started polishing process 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 restored LHS (LH Stern) Italian Briar System Pipe is a good looking pipe (I think I can call this oddity good looking). The unique sump and clean out system makes it interesting to me. The contrasting brown stains on the pipe worked really well with the polished vulcanite stem. The brass band I put on the cracked shank was a great contrast with the briar and the black vulcanite. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel keeping a light touch on the buffing wheel for the bowl. I 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. The finished LHS Italian Briar sits well in the hand and should be an interesting smoke. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This unique piece of American pipe history will be joining my collection of oddities that all were a part of the search for the perfect smoke. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

Restoring and Restemming an LHS Rusticated Sterncrest Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

I am doing periodic repairs for a local pipe/cigar shop. They give my card to people who come in needing pipe repair. On Monday I received a call from a fellow who had an older LHS pipe that he had picked up in Europe on a trip. It turned out he lived around the corner from my house and he and his wife walked over with the pipe. It had an interesting rustication pattern around the bowl and shank that was unique. It sported a gold band on the shank that was original. The bowl exterior was very dirty. The rim top had lava overflow in the grooves and the bowl had a very thick cake inside it. The inner and outer edges of the rim looked very good. The stem had been jerry-rigged to function on the pipe before half of the button and back end of the stem had broken off. It looked like someone had used a knife and cut down the stem to make it a saddle stem. They had also carved a button on the stem. The saddle on the stem was in very rough condition and the carving marks in the stem surface were very rough. The young guy and his wife who dropped it off were hoping to get a new stem made and I was hooked and want to do that for them. I took photos of the pipe when it arrived so I had a benchmark to work with. I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It was very readable and was stamped Sterncrest of LHS in a diamond and underneath Imported Briar. Next to it was stamped 14K. The gold band was also in good condition but scratched. I also include a photo of an LH Stern sign that was included on Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/LHS). I have included the information below from the article on Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/LHS). It gives a great brief history of the brand that is a quick overview of the Company.

Ludwig Stern, a successful pipe manufacturer since 1893 and closing around 1960, reorganized his company along with his brother Hugo Stern, opening a factory in 1911. They named the company L&H Stern Smoking Pipes & Holders. The newly formed company was moved into a six story building on the corner of Pearl and Waters street Brooklyn, NY.

Thoroughly organized in all departments, and housed in a well-lighted and ventilated modern office and manufacturing building, the firm of L&H Stern Inc. is located near the first arch of the Manhattan bridge, near the river and convenient to the Brooklyn bridge, which makes it accessible from all the hotels in the metropolis for visiting buyers. The structure is six stories with a seventeen-foot basement, with light on three sides through prismatic glass windows, the first floor being seven feet above the sidewalk. Light enters the upper floors from all four sides.

L&H Stern is known to every important wholesaler and jobber in the country. LHS manufactures a complete line of briar pipes. Ginmetto wood pipes are also made, as well as Redmanol goods, the man-made amber. The first substitute for amber. Everything, even down to the sterling silver and other metal trimmings are made under one roof.

To begin the process of the restoration on this pipe I decided to see what kind of stem I had to replace the one that came with the pipe that was dropped off for me. I went through my can of stems and found a thin tapered saddle stem. It was more delicate looking than the broken one and I felt like it would look very good with the lines of the rustication on the bowl and shank. It was in good condition other than some light oxidation. I set the new stem aside and turned my attention to the bowl. I needed to clean out the bowl and shank before I fit the new stem on it. I reamed it with the third cutting head on the PipNet pipe reamer. I took the cake back to bare briar. I cleaned up what was left with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and finished with sanding the bowl with a piece of dowel wrapped with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the walls on the bowl.   With the cake cleaned out of the bowl, it was time to clean the shank and airways. I used alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners to scrub out the shank. I scraped the walls of the shank and mortise clean with a dental spatula to clean up the built tobacco lacquer on the walls. Once it was scrubbed clean the pipe smell much better.I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime. I used a brass bristle brush to scrub the rim top with the soap. I rinsed the grime off the bowl with warm water and dried it off with a soft cotton cloth. Once the grime was gone I found flecks of white paint in the grooves of the rustication. I picked them out with a dental pick and used the wire brush to clean up the debris of the paint flecks. I rubbed the bowl and rim down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean and worked it into the rustication with a horsehair shoe brush. The balm work to enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I really like watching the Balm do its magic and bring the briar alive.  I sanded the scratches and tooth chatter out of the stem surface and the saddle with 220 and 400 grit sandpaper. I worked it over to remove the oxidation that remained in the stem surface.I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish. I have a few tins of this laying around so I am trying to use them up. It does a pretty good job polishing the stem.The stem was looking much better. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it a coat of a new product I am experimenting with from Briarville Pipe Repair. It is called “No Oxy Oil” and it is made to protect the stem from oxidizing. I set it aside to dry.   As usual at this point in the restoration process I am excited to be on the homestretch. I look forward to the final look when it is put back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The grain really pops with the wax and polish. The shiny black vulcanite stem is a beautiful contrast to the textures and the various browns of the bowl and shank. This LH Stern (LHS) Sterncrest Billiard was another fun pipe to work on thanks the fact that I could in essence start over with it. The thin saddle stem looks really good with the rustication on the bowl and shank. The original 14K Gold band on the shank looks very good breaking up the shank and the stem. It is a real contrast and binds it all together. It really is a quite stunning piece of briar with an unusual rustication on the bowl. The pipe is comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This newly stemmed piece of  pipe history will soon be going back to my neighbour who I think is really going to enjoy it. It is a piece of he and his wife’s travels so now he can enjoy it with the memories of the find. 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.

One from the Bizarre and Unsuccessful: An LHS LiteAPipe Patent Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

This pipe is one that never seems to have made a real impact on the market. I have never seen another one and I really like LH Stern or LHS pipes. I have had quite a few cross my work table over the years. It is an oddity to my mind. It is an apple shaped pipe with a contraption on the bottom that is a part of the bowl. My brother sent me a link to the eBay sale and it was one that I wanted to have for the collection. I have nothing like it and I wanted to see if I could figure out how the contraption on the bottom worked. The seller included some photos of the condition of the pipe. The finish had a thick varnish coat that was peeling and the seller seemed to wipe it down with furniture polish or wax to make it shine. The metal contraption on the bottom was dirty and the knurled handle on the front was intriguing and the bullet shaped cap on the back of the bowl was also interesting. The pipe is five inches long and very light weight. The rim top was pretty beat up from knocking it out on a hard surface. The nicks and chips in the surface while not deep were numerous and made the surface rough. There was a thick cake in the bowl and the lava had run over the bowl onto the rim top. The bowl had a flat panel on each side that had the finish worn off around the edges. The stamping on the pipe was very clean and strangely it was opposite of most other pipes that I have seen. The name is stamped on the right side and the patent information is on the left. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Pat Apl’d For and on the right side it is stamped with the LHS Diamond and under that LiteAPipe. I did some searching on the US Patent website and could find no information on the brand or the design. I also searched for the series name and found nothing either. The pipe was a mystery. I could not wait to get a hold of it and take it apart and see what I could figure out.While I waited for the pipe I broadened my search for self lighting pipes to see if I could find anything with a search that wide. I found three patents for the same kind of concept – two from the 1940s and one from the 1920s. They have the same basic idea of combining a lighting mechanism within the pipe itself to lessen the tools that the pipeman needs to carry. While there are similarities none of them are really close to the design of this old pipe. I think though that these links help establish a time period.

Here are the links and the patent drawing photos:

https://www.google.com/patents/US2532820https://www.google.com/patents/US2595534https://www.google.si/patents/US1938874The first picture below shows the end cap removed and the knurled cap pulled out as well. There is what appears to be a spongy end sticking out of the back of the contraption. The knurled end seems like it has a flint or some such end sticking out of the end of the tube. The side plate looks rough and could be a striker. The concept seems pretty straightforward – a single unit that contains the fluid, flint, wick and the striker on the base of a briar pipe. The pipe man simple fills the reservoir wool with lighter fluid. He sticks the striker/wick in the unit at the bottom of the bowl and when he wants to light his pipe he pulls out the striker/wick. He strikes it on the coarse bar on the right side of the unit.My brother took some photos of the pipe when it arrived in Idaho. You can see the flaking and speckled finish of the varnish on the pipe. The aluminum is oxidized and dirty. The stem is oxidized. Later photos will show that it is missing a large chunk on either the top or the underside of the stem at the button. The next photo shows the contraption on the bottom of the bowl and how it is fitted into a slot on the bottom.The next two photos show the pipe from the front end. You can see the striker/flint on the end of the knurled tube. The second photo shows the rim top.The next two photos show the condition of the stem. It had a lot of tooth chatter and was missing a large chunk next to the button. The seller had turned it to the underside of the pipe so it was less visible.My brother did his usual stellar job of cleaning up the pipe before he sent it to me. He reamed and cleaned out the airway in the stem and the shank and mortise. He scrubbed the externals with Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed it with warm water. The crackling varnish coat and the furniture polish the seller had used rinsed off with the scrubbing. He was able to get the bowl cleaned and most of the lava on the rim was gone leaving behind the beat-up rim top. The following photo shows the rim top and the damage there.I wiped down the finish with acetone on cotton pads to remove the remaining damaged finish. The pads came off with a red colour stain. The grain stood out on the bowl and it was a beautifully grained pipe. I debated for a bit about topping the bowl but because it was so rough I decided to lightly top it and remove the damaged areas on the rim. I did not take off much briar but worked to smooth out the rim top.I took apart the contraption on the bottom of the bowl. I unscrewed the bullet cap from the back end of the pipe and pulled out the striker unit. Once those were removed the insert slid free of the bowl bottom. The striker end had a wick that surrounded the flint post in the middle. Under the end cap there was a felt tube that was pushed into the tube and the end cap. I believe the felt was wet with lighter fluid and then the put back together. The right side bar looked to be a striker bar that the end was struck against to get a spark and flame. The burning wick then would be held above the tobacco and the flame pulled into the bowl.I went through my stem can and found almost a twin stem to the original. The taper is virtually the same. There were no tooth marks and only light oxidation and a few nicks in the vulcanite that needed attention.  I fine-tuned the fit of the tenon in the mortise and the new stem was ready to go. I put in place on the stripped down bowl and took some photos to get a good look at what the finished pipe would be like. I am happy with the flow of the shank and stem and the look of this short nosewarmer. I sanded the rim with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge and then polished it with 1500-4000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I tested the stain pens I had and the medium brown stain pen was a perfect match to the colour of the stain on the rest of the pipe. I touched up the stain on the bowl sides and the shank. After all of the touch up work I took the photo below to show the match of the rim to the bowl.I touched up the stain on the bowl sides and shank and gave the bowl several coats of carnauba wax to have a look at the grain. It is a beautiful pipe. The combination birdseye and flame grain makes a great looking combination. The rich reddish brown stain makes the grain stand out. I also polished the aluminum on the insert and the bullet cap on the lighter contraption. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads. After the final pad I gave it a last coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel to take out all of the scratches on the stem and to polish it. The plastic polish works really well with vulcanite stems. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect it. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown below. It is one that I will keep in my collection of tobaciana because of its uniqueness. If any of you know any information about it please send a message in the comments below.

 

 

 

An LHS Purex Patented Lovat that showed promise


Blog by Steve Laug

My brother showed me a link on eBay that showed this older LHS Lovat. It was stamped LHS in a diamond. Next to that was stamped PUREX over the patent number, PAT.No1587048. Under that was stamped REAL BRIAR. The shape number 12 was stamped on the underside of the shank. LHs2The pipe looked decent. There was some damage to the rim but the bowl was nice other than the usual dirtiness and dents. The shank also looked good. There did not appear to be any fills in the bowl or shank. There was very little cake in the bowl and it appeared that it had been recently reamed. The finish was in okay shape though there were paint flecks on the sides of the bowl near the rim. lhs3 LHS4 LHS5The seller included a close up photo of the rim to show the extent of damage. It looked to me that the outer rim was the roughest. It was rounded and the defined sharp edge was gone. The front edge had more damage than the back. The inner edge showed damage and would take some work to round it out. The top of the rim was pretty beat up from what I could see in the photos.LHS6The stem was in rough shape with lots of tooth chatter and wear. It was oxidized and also had a thick coat of some substance that appeared to be flaking or peeling. The dots on the stem were probably white and red though the photos showed the white dot as almost yellow. I was pretty sure that the coat on the coat on the stem accounted for that.LHS7 LHS8I weighed the work it would take to bring it back to life and we put in the only bid on the pipe. It did not take too long for the seller to send it to my brother and for him to send it to me. Even with the double postage it is cheaper to send it to him in the US and then to me in Canada than to ship it directly to Canada. When the pipe arrived in Canada I was able to see that the seller’s photos had shown the condition of the pipe very well. The only thing not shown was that the stem was quite plugged from the slot to the metal threaded tenon. I was not able to push a pipe cleaner through it. The other thing was that the patented stinger apparatus was missing. I have included a picture of the missing apparatus from the patent information.LHS1I went through my collection of tenons and I did not have one like the one shown in the drawing above. I took the next photos to show the state of the pipe from my perspective before I started on the refurb.LHS9 LHS10 LHS11 LHS12I found that the stem was slightly underclocked and needed to be rotated. The first photo below shows the turn of the tenon when it arrived. I heated the tenon with a Bic lighter to soften the glue in the stem. Once it was softened I was able to turn the stem straight. The second photo shows the corrected stem.LHS13 LHS14I took a close up photo of the rim and the bowl interior. There was still some cake in the bowl that needed to be scraped off.LHS15I reamed the bowl with the PipNet reamer and took out the remaining cake.LHS16 LHS17I cleaned out the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. This was one dirty shank and mortise. I would need to use the retort to clean it out. I cleaned out the airway in the stem. It was clogged so I used a dental pick to open the slot area and then I was able to push a thin pipe cleaner through the airway. It took quite a few pipe cleaners to open the airway. I scrubbed the metal tenon with a brass bristle brush and then with alcohol and cotton pads. It was stained but all of the debris was cleaned.LHS18 LHS19I set up my retort, filling the test tube with isopropyl alcohol and then putting the stopper in place in the tube. I put a cotton ball in the bowl and the slid the rubber end of the retort over the stem. I lit a candle and heated the alcohol to boil through the bowl and shank. I boiled two test tubes of alcohol through the airway in the stem and shank before the alcohol came out clean. Once it was finished I ran pipe cleaners and cotton swabs through the mortise and airway to clean out the remaining alcohol and debris. Once I was finished the pipe smelled clean.LHS20 LHS21It was time to address the rim top. I topped it on the topping board using 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage to the surface and sharpen the inner and outer edges of the rim. Fortunately I did not need to remove much of the surface to clean up the rim surface and edges.LHS22 LHS23I scrubbed the finish with acetone on cotton pads to remove the sticky surface of the finish and the dirt and grime of the years.LHS24 LHS25I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I removed the “varnish” coat or whatever the substance was as well as the oxidation and tooth marks.LHS26 LHS27Once I had the surface clean of oxidation and tooth marks I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I gave the stem a rub down of Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished by sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads and then gave it a final coat of oil.LHS28 LHS29 LHS30I sanded the rim with 1500-3200 grit micromesh sanding pads to smooth out the scratches left behind when I topped the bowl. I used a light brown stain pen to match the rim to the rest of the finish. I gave the pipe a light wipe down with olive oil and then buffed it with Blue Diamond plastic polish on the wheel. I gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I took it back to the table and gave it a final hand buff with a microfiber cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I have no idea how old the pipe is but the patent number at least gives me a post 1926 date as a starting point. I don’t know how long LH Stern included the Pat.No. stamping on the shank but my thinking is that the pipe is from the mid to late 30s. Thanks or looking.LHS31 LHS32 LHS33 LHS34 LHS35 LHS36 LHS37 LHS38 LHS39

Breathing new life into an LHS Park Lane De Luxe Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

When I repaired Troy’s LHS Park Lane Lovat he gifted me this little beauty as a thank you. It is a small billiard and is stamped on the left side of the shank, Park Lane in an arch over the LHS Diamond and underneath the diamond it is stamped De Luxe. On the right side it is stamped with US Pat. 1,908,630. The shape number 19 is stamped on the underside of the shank. The finish was dirty and chipped all around the bowl. The rim had a buildup of tars and lava and the cake in the bowl left the bottom virtually conical. The stem was under clocked slightly. The stem (Bakelite?) was oxidized and had some small tooth marks near the button on the top and bottom sides. I love the swirl patterns of the stem material. They really give the pipe a look of class. When I removed the stem the stinger itself was black with tars and the inside of the shank was also dirty.Bake1

Bake2 I looked up the patent number on the US Patent information website and found out that the patent was filed for the stinger and tenon apparatus in 1933. The one in the diagram is shorter and slightly different from the one in this pipe so I am thinking that it is a later modification that was introduced. That combined with the dates for Bakelite I would put the dates on this pipe in the late 1930s or early 1940s. It is in pretty decent shape for a 75-80 year old pipe.LHS1908630 Patent drawings

LHS1908630 Patent doc I took the next three photos to give an idea of the state of the rim. I was uncertain of the condition of the inside edge of the rim because of the thickness of the build-up. The stamping was weak in the middle and the LHS diamond also quite weak.Bake3 I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer. I find that I use that reamer for almost all of the refurbs that I do. The four different sized cutting heads, the T-handle and the carbon steel blade make short order of the most difficult cake. In this case I reamed it back to bare wood. I really wanted to see what the interior looked like as there was significant darkening around the top half of the bowl. The rim itself was just slightly out of round so it would be no issue to clean up.Bake4 I used a brass bristle tire brush on the long aluminum stinger to clean off the tars. I wanted it clean before I heated it to reclock the stem.Bake5 With it clean I heated the stinger with the lighter to loosen the glue in the stem. Once it was loose I was able to align the stem correctly. I let it cool in place.Bake6 With everything aligned I decided to try to pull the end of the stinger to get it to line up with the top of the stem. I wanted the slot in stinger to match the white bar in the stem material. I wrapped the jaws of a pair of needle nose pliers with cellophane tape to protect the aluminum from damage when I clamped them on it. I gently twisted on the end of the stinger and to my surprise the entire tenon unscrewed from the stem. That was a good thing by the way as it made cleaning the stem far simpler.Bake7 I cleaned the inside of the stem and the stinger with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol. I had already tested the stem material and I knew that it would not dissolve with the alcohol.Bake8 With the inside of the stem clean I put the tenon back in place on the pipe and worked on the exterior. I sanded the surface and particularly the tooth marks with 220 grit sandpaper until they were smooth and blended into the stem surface.Bake9 I decided to work on this pipe from the opposite direction of my normal practice and finished working on the stem first. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads and then rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and then gave it another coat of oil. I finished with 6000-12000 grit pads and a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I set the stem aside and let the oil dry.Bake10

Bake11

Bake12 I cleaned out the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until it was clean and smelled fresh. I thought about using the retort on it but I am just not certain what the hot alcohol will do with this stem material.Bake13 Once the rim was cleaned I could see the chips and damage to the surface so I decided to lightly top the bowl.Bake14 I decided to do some experimenting with Dave Gossett’s method of stripping a bowl finish. I read about it on the Dr. Grabow Collectors Forum. He uses Oxyclean and alcohol he said. I had no idea how he went about it and fired him an email. Due to my impatience I did not wait and just jumped in. I tried to mix the Oxy with the alcohol. It did not work! It made a grit paste but I decided to give that a try anyway. I scrubbed and scrubbed and succeeded in removing a lot of the finish. The mixture left a white/grey ghost on the briar.Bake15

Bake16 I happened to check my email and saw that Dave wrote back. He said that he dissolved the Oxy in hot water and then added the alcohol. He said to be careful of the stamping as the mixture had a tendency to raise the stamping in the weak areas. Boy I wish I had not been impatient. I lost some clarity on the week areas of the stamping. I did the mixture as Dave suggested and wiped down the bowl with it and was able to get some more of the finish removed.Bake17 There were some deep cuts in the surface of the bowl. I steamed out the dents but these did not raise. I repaired them with superglue and briar dust.Bake18 I sanded the repaired areas smooth to match the surface of the bowl. I wiped the bowl down with alcohol to remove the dust. I heated the briar with a blow dryer and then stained it with a Dark Brown aniline stain thinned with 3 part alcohol to 1 part stain. I flamed the stain and set it in the briar.Bake19 I buffed it with White Diamond and found that even with the thinning it was too dark to my liking. I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on cotton pads to remove some of the stain and make it more transparent.Bake20 The grain showed through nicely and the colour once it was waxed would look good with the stem material. I buffed with Blue Diamond and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean flannel buff and then with a microfibre cloth by hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. Thanks for looking.Bake21

Bake22

Bake23

Bake24

Breathing New Life into an LHS Sulgrave


Blog by Steve Laug

I have become a fan of older LHS pipes and restored quite a few of them lately. I am always on the lookout for different LHS lines that I have not seen. Recently I picked up this LHS Sulgrave from a fellow on the Dr. Grabow Collectors Forum for $15. It is a line that I had not heard of before. He described it as a lightly smoked briar pipe. When I saw it I wanted it as it was my kind of shape. Never sure what to call this shape – bent banker, squat apple – not sure but I like it. He gave the following description in the sale listing. The shank is stamped Purex Sulgrave arched over LHS in a Diamond on the left side. The stem has two light coloured dots on the left side. The pipe is 5 1/8 inches long from the bottom of bowl to end of bit. The bowl chamber diameter is 7/8 inch and bowl depth is 1 1/4 inch. There is light caking in bowl. There is light tooth wear on end of the stem near the button. It has normal wear and tear (dings, oxidation and scratches) for an estate pipe. Nice overall shape and condition. Here are the photos that he included when I emailed him for details.LHS1

LHS2

LHS3

LHS4 When the pipe arrived I was not disappointed. The shape was perfect. The description was accurate and the only variation that I could see was that the stamping did not include PUREX on the shank. Not a big deal in my book. The bowl was unevenly caked and appeared to have been reamed. The back side of the bowl had a thicker portion of cake that gave the inside wall on the back side an uneven and out of round look. I was pretty certain that with a good reaming and a light sanding the rim would look better. The stem was over bent and there was a slight crease on the underside of the bend. There was a coat of wax or some kind of coating on the stem and bowl. The stem was oxidized. In the first photo below you can see slight imperfection in the vulcanite stem. I have circled it to highlight it in the photo below. It is not a hole or worn spot, it is actually a thread of cord in the rubber. Its presence gives some idea of the date of manufacture as recycled rubber was used in WWII pipes.LHS5

LHS6

LHS7

LHS8 The stem also had a lot of tooth dents and chatter along both top and bottom with some very deep marks on both. I tried to capture them in the next two close-up photos but they are still not very clear. The odd thing was that the dents went up the stem over an inch. The slot in the button was not centred and appeared to have left the factory that way. The dents were deep enough that I was concerned regarding the thinness of the stem surface over the airway. The mortise and airway in the shank were dirty and the end of the mortise was chipped away. It looked as if there had originally been a stinger in the tenon but it was no longer with the pipe.LHS9

LHS10 I also have included the next close-up photo of the rim and the bowl interior to show the cake that gave the bowl an out of round appearance.LHS11 I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer using the largest cutting head. I took the cake back to bare wood to even out the inner edge of the bowl. I wanted to get rid of the cake so that I could smooth out the edge.LHS12

LHS13 I folded a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out inner edge. It took a little effort remove the inner edge damage and clean up the roundness of the bowl.LHS14

LHS15 I wiped down the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to remove the tars and the wax coat on the briar. With them removed the outer edge of the bowl showed damage as well. The bowl had been knocked about on the front edge particularly. The grain on this pipe was lovely.LHS16

LHS17

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LHS19 To minimize the outer edge damage I topped the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board. I sanded it to remove the damage to the top of the bowl and clean up the outer edge of the bowl.LHS20

LHS21 I cleaned out the shank and the bowl with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the grime inside. It took quite a few of both to clean out the shank but finally they came out clean.LHS22 I heated the stem with a heat gun to try and lift some of the dents to the surface and to also take out some of the bend. I also wanted to smooth out the sharpness of the bend on the bottom side.LHS23

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LHS25 I cleaned out the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol.LHS26 The heat had raised most of the dents significantly. The ones that were left in the stem needed to be sanded out and then filled to take care of them. I used 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface. I also worked on the curve on the underside of the stem to make it less sharp looking.LHS27

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LHS30 The dents in the stem needed to be filled to bring the surface back to smooth flowing condition. I used a black super glue to fill the surface and set the stem aside to dry for several hours. Once dry, I sanded the fills with 220 grit sandpaper and then used a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to feather them into the surface of the stem.LHS31

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LHS36 I used a needle file to clean up and sharpen the edge of the button and give it more definition. I sanded the sharp edge with sandpaper and then sanded it with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each set of three pads and then let it dry after sanding with a 12,000 grit pad.LHS37

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LHS39 I buffed the pipe with White Diamond and Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish and remove the slight remnants of oxidation that had come to the surface. I gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean flannel buffing pad. I brought it back to the table and hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below.LHS40

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Cleaning up an LHS Sterncrest Lovat with a Bakelite Stem


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on my work table is a little 4 ¾ inch Lovat with a rusticated finish and a two tone stain. The rustication looks like craters and swirls. Even the top of the bowl is rusticated.LHS14 The stem looked to be oxidized but once I worked on it I was in for a surprise. The band was stamped Sterling Silver arched over the LHS in a Diamond logo and under that was stamped Rhodium. The underside of the shank was flat and smooth and was stamped with the LHS in a Diamond logo with the word Sterncrest arched under the diamond. Toward the stem end of the shank it was stamped Imported Briar.LHS13

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LHS10 As I looked at the stem more closely I could see swirls of red running through it and the material was a reddish brown colour. It had a similar appearance to Cumberland but was harder and heavier. The patterns in the swirls was not uniform at all and made me think of other things that I have around made of a similar looking material. This would become more clear when I cleaned up the stem.LHS11

LHS12 I took two close-up photos of the stem and the extension that was in the end of the tenon and extended into the bowl. It was an integral part of the stem and I was not able to remove it.LHS15

LHS16 Once I got this far in the process I wanted to know a bit more of the history of the brand. I was trying to find out when the pipe potentially was made. The stem had me fascinated. The extension tube in the tenon was different from any other LHS Sterncrest pipe that I had seen. All of the patent information I could find from the early 1900s through 1936 showed a more typical ball and point stinger apparatus. There was nothing to date this in the patent information. That combined with the unique stem material seen clearly in the photo above made me very curious about the pipe.

I looked on the PipePhil site which is a go to site for me when digging out information and I found some helpful material. Here is the link – http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-lhs.html. The first item below is a copy of the photo from his site which gives some simple information. The Strencrest stem that I had did not have the inset silver diamond in the side on the top of the saddle. The stamping on the pipe was different as well. Mine was stamped LHS in a Diamond (like the one on the briar inset below) but STERNCREST was underneath the Diamond. Imported Briar was on the opposite end of the shank. The inset of the band is identical in terms of what is shown. The band on mine has one additional feature below the LHS diamond and that is the word RHODIUM.LHS1 I followed the links on the site and found the following grading guide from 1944 there as well. It lists the Sterncrest Sterling as the third highest grade of pipe. The issue for me is whether the pipe I have is a Sterling. It only bears the Sterncrest stamp and that does not appear on the chart below.LHS2 I read some more on the site and found that the L&H Stern Inc. was established by Ludwig Stern (1877-1942) in 1911. His brother Hugo (1872-?) acted as vice-president & secretary. The firm moved to 56 Pearl St. Brooklyn in 1920. It closed down in the 1960s. LHS was one of the main pipe suppliers for US soldiers during WWII. That was the short version of the information. With that I knew that my pipe was made between 1911 when the company opened and before the 1960’s when it closed.

I googled for more information to see if I could find company advertising that showed the pipe I was working on and gave more definitive information on the brand. I found the following quote that helped to fit the Sterncrest into the scheme of things. “LHS is L & H Stern Pipe Making Co. that was based out of Brooklyn N.Y. Their most common lines seem to have been their Sterncrest pipe models. The company made pipes from 1900-the 1950’s.”

I also found some advertising which I have posted copies of here. Three of the magazine advertisements are shown below. All three show a similar pipe to the one that I have in hand. The rustication on mine is more crater like than tree bark like but the patterns are similar.LHS7 I have also included a page from a Sterncrest Catalogue from 1946 that shows the line and the second pipe from the right, the lovat is identical in shape to the one that I have. The rustication pattern in the picture is similar but also more tree bark like and the stamping is on the side of the shank rather than the underside.LHS8 Now I knew that the pipe I was working on came from a more narrow time period – 1910 to sometime in the 1940s. That was all the information I could readily find on the pipe. I was still left with a bit of a mystery that would become somewhat clearer as I cleaned up the pipe and stem.

The pipe was lightly smoked and I was able to wipe out the dust and debris from the bowl quickly. The shank was dirty but what came out of the shank was not tobacco debris or tars but rather a red stain. The inside of the shank had some stain left in it. The bowl must have been dip stained when in the factory and the pipe had not been smoked enough to burn off the stain that was there. Obviously the previous owner never ran a pipe cleaner into the shank to find what I found in my clean up with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners.LHS16a I also cleaned out the airway in the stem and tenon extension. I was careful as I did not want to chip or damage the extension. The more I worked with the stem the more I was beginning to get an idea of what the stem material was.LHS17 I worked on the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and then rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I was uncertain whether the oil would be absorbed or not but either way it would give some teeth to the micromesh pads as I worked with them. I took photos of both sides of the stem to show the pattern that started to show up as I polished it.LHS19

LHS20 I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit micromesh sanding pads to further polish the stem. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil once again.LHS22

LHS23 The more I polished the stem the more clear it became what the material I was working with was. I dry sanded with the final three grits of micromesh and then buffed the stem with Blue Diamond polish before giving it a final coat of oil. Once the oil dried I buffed it with some carnauba wax and then with a clean flannel buff before giving it a final hand buff with a microfibre cloth.LHS24 Once I finished polishing the stem I knew without a shadow of a doubt that the stem was made of Bakelite. It was exactly like several of the Bakelite tobacciana items that I have collected. The mottled brown and red look of the polished stem proved it to me.

I decided to do a bit of research on Bakelite to both make certain I was working with that and to see if I could narrow the date for this pipe down even further. I am including some of the information that I found in my search.

From the New World Encyclopedia online I got some basic information on the material. Here is the link if you want to see the original source. http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Bakelite

I found that Bakelite is a material based on a thermosetting phenol formaldehyde resin developed in 1907–1909, by the Belgian-American chemist Leo Baekeland. It was the first plastic made from synthetic components. It was used for its electrically nonconductive and heat-resistant properties in radio and telephone casings and electrical insulators, and was also used in such diverse products as kitchenware, jewelry, pipe stems, and children’s toys…

Bakelite is a phenol formaldehyde resin with the chemical name polyoxybenzyl methylene glycol anhydride. It was formed by the reaction under heat and pressure of phenol, a toxic, colorless crystalline solid, and formaldehyde, a simple organic compound, generally with wood flour filler. The combination of the mixture with the wood flour makes the material hard and dense.

The company, The Bakelite Corporations was formed, in 1922, from the consolidation of three companies: the General Bakelite Co., the Condensite Corp. and the Redmanol Chemical Products Company, an early plastics manufacturer formed in 1913, by chemist L.H. Baekeland. The American Catalin Corporation acquired the Bakelite formulas, in 1927, and currently manufactures Bakelite cast resins.

Bakelite Limited was formed, in 1926, from the amalgamation of three suppliers of phenol formaldehyde materials: The Damard Lacquer Company Limited of Birmingham, Mouldensite Limited of Darley Dale, and Redmanol Chemical Products Company of London. Around 1928, a new factory opened in Tyseley, Birmingham, England. (The building was demolished in 1998.) The company was acquired by the Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation in 1939.

From the Wikipedia I found out more information. Here is the link for the source should you want to read more. I have included a few clips from that source. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakelite

Bakelite is not extensively used for general consumer products any more, due to the cost and complexity of production and its brittle nature. However, it was used in the past in myriad applications, such as saxophone mouthpieces, cameras, solid-body electric guitars, rotary-dial telephones, early machine guns, and appliance casings. It was at one point considered for the manufacture of coins, due to a shortage of traditional manufacturing material.

An exception to the overall decline is the use in small, precision-shaped components where their specific properties are required, such as molded disc brake cylinders, saucepan handles, electrical plugs and switches, and electrical iron parts. Today, Bakelite-type materials are manufactured and produced in the form of sheets, rods and tubes for many industrial applications in the electronics, power generation, and aerospace industries, and under a variety of commercial brand names.

Many companies stopped using Bakelite in the early 1940s as the need for World War II related products took hold. By the end of the War, new technologies in the world of plastics had made Bakelite obsolete.

A final source of information I found was on jewelry specifically but the dates coincide with the information above and help narrow the dates for my pipe stem.

The source is as follows: http://www.teeda.com/history-of-bakelite-jewelry.html

The height of Bakelite jewelry was the late 1930s, up until the end of the Art Deco period. The designs were quite popular in mass merchandise stores such as Sears and Roebuck. However there were also some famous names working with the material and creating Bakelite jewelry including Chanel and Van Cleef and Arpel. Oddly enough Bakeland allowed the patent to expire and the Catalin Corporation bought it. They began creating their own Bakelite jewelry marketed as Bakelite-Catalin. The pieces were sold in both expensive stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and smaller stores such as Woolworth’s.

Bakelite jewelry was available in a variety of colors, but brown, green, red, and white were the most popular color choices. Over time though, exposure to the light and particles in the air have caused many of these colors to change. A good example is a bracelet that was once white, but now looks pale brown in color.

Given the information on Bakelite I think I can safely narrow down the date on the stem to between 1930-1949 when the war ended. That may be as close as I can get to pinning down a date on the pipe unless someone who knows a bit more of the history of LH Stern can be more specific regarding the apparatus at the end of the tenon.

I returned to finishing up my work on the pipe. With the stem completed, I polished the stem with a silver polishing cloth and was able to remove all of the oxidation and give the silver band a sheen that looked like new.LHS18 I rubbed down the bowl and shank with Halcyon II wax and then buffed it with a shoe brush and then with the microfibre cloth to raise the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is ready to load up and smoke a bowl. It will probably be the first bowl that has been run through the pipe since the end of the war. I am looking forward to reintroducing the pipe to a nice bowl of Virginia or Virginia Perique. It is so light weight that it should be a great smoking pipe.LHS25

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LHS30 Thanks for looking.