Tag Archives: LH Stern pipes

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.

 

 

 

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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

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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

LHS18

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

LHS24

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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LHS29

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

LHS32

LHS33

LHS34

LHS35

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

LHS38

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

LHS9

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.

NEPAL PROJECT PIPE SALE 11 – Restoring a LHS Certified Purex 97 Squashed Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

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

It is an old LHS (LH Stern) Bulldog. It is stamped on the left side of the shank with the shape number 97 and almost over the top of that stamp is the application of a white imprinted logo. The logo reads LHS in a flattened diamond. On the top of the diamond it reads Certified Purex and on the bottom of the diamond it read Imported Briar.Bulldog1 I have had quite a few LHS pipes on my work table over the years but this is the first time I have seen this shape bulldog. It is squat and short but has a large bowl – the size of my thumb and the bowl is quite deep. There are two rings around the bowl and a bulldog cap. The rustication pattern is also quite unique – looking like a thatched pattern. There is an aluminum fitment in the shank of the pipe and an aluminum tenon with a separated stinger that screws into the fitment in the shank. The stem was slightly oxidized and underturned. There were no major tooth marks or chatter on the stem. The finish was in decent shape, just dirty and dusty. The rings around the cap were plugged with debris that would need to be cleaned out. The airway in the bottom of the bowl was very small looking. The bowl had been reamed recently and was clean that way.Bulldog2

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Bulldog4 If you look closely at the alignment of the metal band on the shank with the band on the stem you will see how it is underturned and how the band on the shank is slightly corroded next to the shank.Bulldog5

Bulldog6 The close up of the bowl shows the constricted airway at the bottom of the bowl on the back side. Too me it looked to be almost plugged with tars and would not be too difficult to open.Bulldog7 I unscrewed the stem from the shank to look at the internals. I have found that pipes with the metal fitment in the shank are generally quite dirty on the other side of the metal mortise and take some work to clean. This pipe was no exception. I tapped the metal end against my desk top and a lot of chunks of tar fell out on the desk top. The stinger was inserted into the threaded tenon and also was quite dirty and the slots in it were also restricted with buildup.Bulldog8 I heated the tenon and stinger with the flame of the lighter hoping to loosen the tenon in the shank and straighten the fit in the shank. I heated it until the stem itself was warm and the metal tenon did not budge. I was able to remove the stinger for cleaning.Bulldog9

Bulldog10 I examined the tenon insert in the stem (probably should have done this first). I found that the metal plate that acted as a stem adornment and the tenon were integrated into one piece and no amount of heating would ever loosen the tenon from the shank. I had to come up with another solution. I screwed the stem back on the pipe and set it aside to contemplate my course of action. I thought of adding a thin plate of Lucite or briar between the stem adornment and the shank adornment but decided against that. I let it sit for a while and worked on the stem.

Suddenly I figured out a potential fix. If I were to sand down the shank end enough to allow the stem to sit correctly I could possibly get the alignment correct. I measured the depth of the threads in the shank and then those on the tenon and found that the thread went deeper than the length of the tenon by about 1/8 of an inch. If I could remove some of the aluminum shank end plate I could get it to seat correctly. I used my topping board and pressed the end of the aluminum end plate flat against the board. I carefully worked it in a circular motion on the sandpaper. I checked frequently to make sure I did not take of too much or too little of the aluminum plate.Bulldog11 The next photo shows the end plate after it had been topped sufficiently. The scratches from the sandpaper would easily be polished off with micromesh. I have also included four photos of the different angles on the stem to show how the underturn had been corrected. The fit was perfect.Bulldog12

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Bulldog16 With the stem fit corrected I then turned to cleaning out the inside of the stem and the shank. It took many pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I also used the drill bit from the KleenReem reamer to open the airway into the bowl. Bulldog17 I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl down with oil soap and a tooth brush. I picked out the debris in the twin rings around the cap. I sanded the stem down with 220 grit sandpaper and then followed that by sanding with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge.Bulldog18

Bulldog19 There were two small tooth marks in the vulcanite on the underside of the stem. I repaired those with a drop of clear super glue. I sanded the glue patch with 220 grit sandpaper and then repeated sanding it with the two sanding sponges. When finished I sanded it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads. Between each set of three pads I rubbed the stem down with an Obsidian Oil saturated sock that I use for this purpose. I let it sit for just a few moments before continuing with the next grit of pads. The oil gives traction for polishing the stem.Bulldog20

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Bulldog22 I used the micromesh pads to also polish the aluminum on the shank and the stem. I worked through all of the grits to polish it to a shine. I also used 0000 steel wool to polish the stinger and the tenon. Then I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond Plastic polish to further raise the shine. I put it back on the bowl and buffed the bowl and shank lightly with Blue Diamond. A light touch keeps the buffing compound from collecting in the grooves. I also carefully worked around the white stamping on the shank. I gave the stem several coats of carnauba wax and then rubbed the bowl down with Halcyon II Wax and hand buffed the bowl and shank with a shoe brush. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I really like the shape and the rustication on this one. I am looking forward to loading a bowl and enjoying it on the weekend ahead. Thanks John.Bulldog23

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Bulldog28 This LHS Bulldog is a beautiful pipe and the rustication and stain gives it almost a multidimensional look. It should make someone a great addition. The entirety of the sale price will go to the Nepal project. I will pay the postage so that does not get taken off the proceeds. If you are interested in reading about the SA Foundation you can look at their website at http://www.safoundation.com.

Thanks for looking.

Refurb LHS SEC system pipe – strange one


Blog by Steve Laug

In my ongoing quest to collect pipes that are unique and give a picture of the history of interesting inventions and modifications to the simple smoking pipe I wanted to post this refurb that I finished. It is a LH Stern (LHS) SEC pipe. It is a system pipe as can be seen from the blown out pictures and the diagrams from the patent office. It is an interesting piece of history. The apparatus inside is quite elaborate. The stem is green perspex that serves as a collection chamber for sediments before the smoke goes to your mouth. I cleaned and reamed the bowl and polished it with carnauba wax. The stem had some tooth marks and cuts. I lifted the majority of them with my heat gun and finished by sanding them  and buffing them smooth.

Here are pictures of the pipe when it arrived:

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Here are pictures of the pipe after I cleaned it and polished it:

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Here is the pipe taken apart – it has an amazing assortment of parts. I have also included a copy of the patent information for those interested in the background of this pipe.

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