Tag Archives: LHS

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.

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A Restored LHS Certified Purex #95 Squashed Tomato


Blog by Dave Gossett

A pipe shape this elegant deserves a better name than squashed tomato. I received this pipe looking more like a bruised tomato. It was beat up and chewed up. An LHS this shape doesn’t pop up very often so I was happy to accept the pipe in any condition.dPk6umBl

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Dave4 I started off with the routine internal cleaning of the pipe with alcohol, pipe cleaners, and shank brush.

Next I began to work out the dents by heating a butter knife with a propane torch and pressing it firmly to the dented areas with a damp rag between the two. This generates steam and lifts the dents out of the briar. This may have to be done several times to the same area depending how bad the dents are.

After steaming, I sanded the scratches from the rest of the briar, smoothed out the bowl chamber, prepping it for the carbon coating, gave it a light alcohol scrub with 0000 steel wool to remove the leftover patchy original finish, and finally, masked off the shank and polished the aluminum.Dave5

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Dave7 Next up is the stem rebuild.Dave8 A tight fitting plug/form for the air way and bit is made from cardboard wrapped in clear tape.

Here is a picture of all the materials used for the stem rebuild.

Cyanoacrylate glue (medium viscosity), activated charcoal. Dave9 I use disposable things for mixing and application process. 25% charcoal/75% glue mixed thoroughly is the recipe. I mix it in bottle caps, and use a q-tip stem with a small scoop/spoon cut into the end to apply to the repair site.

The repair site needs to be scored and cleaned before the mix is applied.Dave10 Once the material has cured, the tape covered cardboard plug is easily removed. Using a needle file I reshaped the button and then wet sanded the stem.

Back to briar.
Now that it has been steamed, sanded, and had the old stain removed, I applied a custom color mix of Fiebings, consisting of dark brown, a hint of orange, and a bit of oxblood, thinned a bit with alcohol.Dave11

Dave12 I always like seeing the color transformation from the dry stained tint to the very different shade it becomes after the carnauba wax is applied.

The final step in the restoration after waxing is the carbon bowl coating. It’s a very simple detail to make an old estate pipe look fresh again. Maple syrup and activated charcoal. After the bowl chamber is clean and smooth, lightly coat the bowl chamber with maple syrup, then fill the bowl to the top with the charcoal. Leave it for one hour or more then dump the bowl and blow through the shank to remove the excess. Next is the hard part. Don’t touch it for 5 days. It takes 3-5 days for it to harden and cure. I usually give it a week just to be sure. Once it has set up, it’s as tough as a Savinelli carbon coating and looks just as good. The pipe will have the familiar slightly bitter taste of a brand new pipe, but it doesn’t last nearly as long. After you smoke a bowl or two it goes away. Dave13

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Restoring an LHS Certified Purex Bullmoose Rhodesian


Blog by Dave Gossett
Dave1 LHS Certified Purex shape #99.

This pipe was in better shape than most estates I start with. It had some dents and dings and some tooth chatter, but overall it was a solid pipe.Dave2

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Dave5 I started off this restoration with the usual internal cleaning, giving the stem, mortise, and airway an alcohol scrub with pipe cleaners and a shank brush. Next up was the bowl chamber. After removing what little cake build up that was in the bowl, I sanded the bowl chamber smooth with 400 grit.

Next, I tackled the dents and dings – first with steam followed by 2000 grit. Heating the flat side of a butter knife and pressing it firmly to the dented areas with a damp rag between the two will generate steam, lifting the dents from the briar. Don’t try this around any stampings, as it will lift the stampings just as it does with dents. This may need to be done more than once or twice for stubborn dents.

After I had worked the dents, I gave the briar a very light scrub with alcohol and 0000 steel wool to remove the stain and even out the finish where I had steamed and sanded.

After prepping the briar, I started on the stem. The button was a little worn down but not bad enough to reform, so I left it as is. I used a needle file to remove the tooth chatter. Feathering out and away from the button past the damaged area will prevent the stem from having a warped look or divot around the repaired area.Dave6

Dave7 The next step after removing the tooth chatter was wet sanding the stem to remove the oxidation and file marks. The way this particular stem was made with a metal inserted logo and metal ring and stinger attached, made this clean up much easier than most others. No worrying about working around a fragile stem stamping or rounding the crisp edge of the stem/shank connection, I was able to just mow through the whole stem while wet sanding until I unearthed fresh black vulcanite.

Now that the grunt work is over, it’s almost time for the fun stuff…Dave8

Dave9 Oh, one more thing. Let’s try our hand in some metal alchemy by making the aluminum look more like sterling silver.

I prepped the briar with tape for two reasons. First, the compound will raise the grain if you run it on a buffing wheel and secondly, the tarnish/compound mix on the buffer wheel with stain the briar black.Dave10 Notice how dark the tape is afterwards.Dave11 The natural briar looked pretty nice and I thought about leaving it in a natural finish, but I decided to put it back to its original color, or as close as I could get. I blended a color close to the LHS burgundy by mixing two full droppers of alcohol, one full dropper of oxblood, and one half dropper of dark brown.

Pay no mind to the workbench of disarray. Sometimes I lose the pipe I’m working on in all the clutter.Dave12

Dave13 After the stain had dried, I lightly sanded the briar with a worn piece of 2000 grit to highlight the grain a bit, and then proceeded with laying on the carnauba wax. Two coats followed by a hand buff with a microfiber rag.Dave14

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Dave17 I forgot to wipe out the buffer fuzz before taking photos.Dave18 Last but least, I finished up the pipe by adding a fresh carbon bowl coating. This is a simple and effective way to give a tired looking bowl chamber a great new look. I’ve seen many crazy recipes for a homemade bowl coating but after trial and error, I have found this to be the most effective and easiest way to do it. Once the bowl chamber is clean and smooth, apply a thin coat of maple syrup to the chamber. Next fill the entire bowl to the top with activated charcoal. Leave it for one hour, then dump it out and blow through the shank to remove excess. Don’t touch it for five days. After the five day curing process, it is as tough as a Savinelli factory coating and looks just as nice.Dave19

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.