Tag Archives: LJ Perretti Pipes

Two of Boston’s L. J. Peretti Oom Pauls Recommissioned

Blog by Dal Stanton

With all pipe man honesty, what could I do?  What would you do if faced with this staring at you on the eBay auction block?J. Peretti Co., all, looking back at me! – the pipe name that I had unintentionally started collecting and liking a lot. The seller was from Everett, Massachusetts, near Boston’s L. J. Peretti Co. Tobacconist, second oldest Tobacconist in the US. Even though Peretti Tobacconist is more known for their 1000s of custom blends of tobacco which I have enjoyed (see below presents from last Christmas from my daughter-in-law!), they have also produced pipes over the years bearing the Peretti name.  It became obvious to me that this seller had Peretti estate pipes which had belonged to a pipe man who loved Peretti pipes, and I was attracted to the Lot for all the Peretti shapes that I do not yet have in my collection.  The massive amount of briar jumping out at me also caught my eye – oh my, Oom Pauls, and some sitters that were borderline Oom Pauls with strong ¾ bent stems and the quint essential long, tight, tall bowls.  Also, in the Lot I saw a large, graceful Bent Egg, a Calabash, a gentle Half Bent Billiard and a huge, colossus of a Billiard!  I was happy to bring this Peretti Lot of 10 back with me to Bulgaria destined for the worktable. My enjoyment of Peretti pipes started Christmas of 2016 with our family gathering in Denver.  My son, Josiah, secured a proud, square shank Billiard bearing the Peretti stamp and an amputated stem from the Armadillo Antique Mall.  I found it under the Christmas tree with Josiah’s encouragement, ‘Dad, I know you can do something with it!’  And I did.  I cannibalized another stem and spliced it on the existing stem – I wanted to save the Peretti ‘P’ stem stamp at all cost!  This stout square shanked Billiard is a good smoker and a regular friend in my rotation!Doing research for the Peretti Christmas gift stem splice restoration (See: LINK), introduced me to the Peretti name which I was surprised to discover is not an Italian pipe name, as I originally assumed!  The family originally came from the southern slopes of the Swiss Alps which would have much Italian influence, just to the south. I discovered the beginning of a significant story of Americana pipe history with the establishment of the L. J. Peretti Company of Boston in 1870 (Pipedia citing: Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks, by José Manuel Lopes), the second oldest tobacco shop in the US, second only to Iwan Ries & Co. of Chicago established in 1857 (See: Link).  Going to the Peretti shop in Boston is on my bucket list where blends are still hand mixed and I’ve read that you can take your pipe and try some blends out before purchasing.  Not bad.My second Peretti found me serendipitously in Oslo, Norway, as I, along with a few other colleagues met to take in the European Biathlon finals (that’s skiing and shooting!).  Jon gave me a very sharp looking square shanked Rhodesian, also bearing the name, Peretti.  He said he wasn’t using it anymore and I welcomed this Peretti into the fold.  I now had what I started calling, the Peretti Brothers.  Here is the restoration of the Peretti Rhodesian.In the Peretti Lot of 10, I’ve already restored the Large Bent Egg and added it to my collection of Perettis.  It is a stunning pipe and fits the palm amply and nicely!  When smoking this pipe, I’ve warded off random hawkers trying to barter him away from me!  I’ve remained strong.I have been looking forward to tackling the Oom Pauls for some time.  I will add one to my collection, and the others are up for adoption and will benefit a good and worthy effort, the Daughters of Bulgaria, helping women and girls (and their children) who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  As I approach restoring the Oom Pauls, there is no doubt as to the popularity of this shape and that everyone wants to have at least one in their collection.  In Pipedia, Bill Burney’s description of the Oom Party is helpful:He also describes that the Oom Paul is always a full bent, with a large tobacco chamber and relatively heavy.  Yet, because of the way it hangs, it is a comfortable hands-free pipe.  To me, the attraction to the Oom Paul is the solid, massive merger between the bowl and shank – it creates a hefty presence in the palm and it hangs from the mouth great with the full bent style.

I will attempt something I’ve never done before as I approach the restoration of the Oom Pauls, I’m going to tackle 2 at once – first, the Oom Paul that I’ve chosen to add to my collection and the first Oom Paul that will go in the Pipe Steward Store where a new steward will be sought!  To keep things straight and abbreviated, my Oom Paul will be ‘MOP’ and the available Oom Paul will be ‘OP’!  I want to use MOP to test the overall approach to the hue of the Oom Paul stummels, which I want to keep as close to the original Peretti scheme as much as possible. The pictures below were numbered so that I wouldn’t mix them up while in the ‘Help Me!’ basket.  Here first, is MOP: And now, OP showing beautiful horizontal grain that I think is eye catching on the large Oom Paul stummel: The forensics of all the pipes of the Peretti Lot of 10, show similarities of condition and areas of need, which point to all 10 having had a common steward.  MOP and OP both have thick cake in the long Oom Paul chamber which has run over the rim with crusty lava flow.  Both pipes show deterioration on the right side of the rim where the lighting of the tobacco was faithfully administered.  Both show consistent, tooth chatter and dents on the upper and lower bit – attesting to the great hands-free ‘hanging’ capacity of an Oom Paul but without using a bit guard!  MOP’s stem is severely oxidized, and OP’s is lightly showing oxidation.  MOP enjoys the only stem marking of all the Oom Pauls – the Peretti ‘P’ is crisp but in need of refreshing. I notice that OP’s stem is not snug against the shank and as I rub my finger over the transition from shank to the saddle stem, there is a slight hang of the stem over the shank.  On the stummel heel of OP I see a cut in the briar from some trauma.  I detect a microscopic hairline crack running from the end of the cut toward the shank (on top in the second picture below), a few millimeters.  This needs to be addressed.  I take some pictures to show the stem seating and cut on OP.On my last restoration of an Meer lined Italian Croc Skin Zulu, which has arrived in Edinburgh, Scotland, to meet his new steward, I tested the Before & After Deoxidizer and both of the stems of MOP and OP were among the volunteers for testing.  From pictures above, MOP’s ‘P’ stamped stem shows significant oxidation, while OP is in good shape.  Before & After is also supposed to be stem stamp friendly – which proved to be true.  The stems of Mop and OP are below – of the larger stems in the first picture below, the first and third.  After cleaning each stem with pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%, I placed all the stems in the Before & After Deoxidizer keeping them in order!    I left them in the soak overnight, though the directions do not require that long. One at a time, I removed them from the Deoxidizer and wiped each with a cotton pad with mineral water (in Bulgaria, its light paraffin oil) buffing each with the cotton pad until all the solution was removed and the residue oxidation.  I am pleased with how the product works.I am especially pleased to see how the Peretti ‘P’ cleaned up and rejuvenated on MOP!  The Before & After Deoxidizer is advertised to be nice to stem stamping and it seems to be the case!  A before and after picture.I then applied Before & After Fine Polish and then Extra Fine Polish.  I put a small amount on my finger and worked it into the vulcanite.  As I work it in, the vulcanite absorbs it.  The results are good causing the vulcanite to look rejuvenated.I do the same for OP’s stem.  It’s looking very nice as well!I now turn to the stummels.  The first thing for both stummels is to clean the internals, starting with reaming the deep Oom Paul chambers.  Before I can determine the condition of the chamber walls the cake will be removed down to the briar.  Using the Pipnet Reaming Kit, I start with the smallest blade, then working to the larger. I start with MOP and take a closer picture of the rim and chamber.  It’s thick and crusty.  I use 3 of the 4 blades available to remove the carbon cake.  I then scrape more of the chamber wall with the Savinelli Fitsall tool and finish with wrapping a piece of 240 grit paper around a Sharpie pen and sand the chamber.  I wet a cotton pad with alcohol and wipe the chamber clean of carbon dust.  The chamber looks great – solid, no cracks or fissures.  Pictures of MOPS: I do the same with OPs.  I take a starting picture, ream with 3 of the 4 blades in the Pipnet Kit.  I fine tune with the Savinelli Fitsall tool, sand the chamber with 240 grit paper and wipe the chamber clean of carbon dust.  The chamber wall looks good as well.  What I do see is what I noted earlier.  The rim on the right side was burned by the lighting of the tobacco and the scorched briar has eroded on that side. Now, to clean the external briar stummel and rim.  Starting with MOP, I use undiluted Murphys Oil Soap with a cotton pad to scrub the surface and rim.  I also use a brass brush to work on the thick cake on the rim.  With my Winchester pen knife, I carefully scrape the old scorched lava crust on the rim.  The stummel of MOP cleaned up nicely and no fills are detected.  The challenge will be to clean up the internal rim, removing all the scorched briar in a way that doesn’t remove a lot of good briar.  Pictures of MOP showing the progress: Now, to clean the externals of OP with Murphys Oil Soap in the same way with the same tools.  The grime is stiff, and I also use a bristled tooth brush to reach into the full bent shank area which is the beauty of an Oom Paul, but a pain to clean.  Again, after employing a brass brush on the thick lava flow on the rim, I carefully scrape using my pin knife to remove the crust, utilizing a fingernail here and there.  I then rinse OP in cool tap water and take a closer look at the stummel.  The stummel of OP cleaned up well.  Like my Oom Paul, the internal rim on OP needs to be cleaned of charred briar down to healthy wood.  I take a picture showing the start and then the cleaned stummel of OP.It was going so well until it wasn’t!  I see what no one restoring a pipe wants to see!  With difficulty I see a crack in the shank nestled in the armpit of the bend, where it’s difficult to clean.  With a magnifying glass I can see it better.  It runs from the very joint of the bend where bowl and shank meet, up the shank about ¾ of the way, but does not run to the top of the shank.  This strikes me as strange.  Most shank cracks are caused by improperly mounting or dismounting the stem and mortise, putting pressure on the thin briar at the junction and the briar gives way and cracks.  These cracks usually start from the top of the shank and run down toward the bowl.  What I’m looking at with OP is that it originates at the elbow of the bend and moves upwardly toward the top of the shank, where the stem is mounted.  My first thought is that this is good news!  It means that the integrity of the shank is still in place at the most vulnerable point – where shank and stem meet.  Yet, however this crack originated, it can continue to creep up the shank if nothing is done to arrest it.  With the magnifying glass I carefully check around the shank and mortise opening to see if there is another crack lurking, but I see nothing.  Here are the pictures of the crack discovery on OP. As I have done in the past to get more input on a challenge, with his wealth of experience shared on Rebornpipes, I send these pictures off to Steve to see what he has to say!  OP has two projects so far catalogued for the stummel – the cut on the heel and now this crack on the lower shank.   I then turn to completing the cleaning of the internals of both stummels.  Using isopropyl 95%, I employ cotton buds, pipe cleaners to clean the mortise and airway.  I also use a bristled shank brush down the airway which does a good job breaking up the tars and oils.  With the design of the drilling for the full bent Oom Paul design, the initial mortise drill going down the shank forms a trap where gunk collects.  Then, the angled airway drilling runs off the initial mortise chamber down to airhole.  To dig gunk out of the trap, I also use a dental spatula to scrape the mortise walls and trap area.  All went well for both my Oom Paul and OP.  The pictures show the results.I want to address the rim issues before moving on.  Both stummels’ rims have scorching issues around the internal lip. With MOP (remember, My Oom Paul), it is engineered slightly different from OP and is a bit smaller.  I pull out the topping board to remove a bit of the rim top to clean up as much as I can.  MOP’s full bent shank barely fits on top of the board without touching.  OP’s shank extends beyond the plane of the rim, that will be a bit more challenging to top but not impossible.  I take a picture of MOP and then take it to the topping board with a sheet of 240 grit paper on it.  I had noticed before that the shank and the plane of the rim were not perpendicular – the rim plane has a left leaning tilt, but I’m not worrying about that – I think.  To correct it would need too much briar to be removed. The more that I look at the rim plane tilt, the more I realize that it will drive me crazy when I’m smoking this guy down the road and wondering why I didn’t correct it!  Since, it IS my Oom Paul, I decide to trade some briar for a bit of sanity.  I start sanding the high right side of the rim down to bring the plane and shank into closer perpendicular alignment.  I use a flat needle file as well as a miniature sanding block to do this. With the rim in closer alignment with the shank, I first cut an internal bevel with a coarse 120 grit paper rolled up tightly.  I pinch the roll over the internal rim with my thumb and remove the charred briar and start shaping the internal lip.  I follow this with 240, 320 and then 600 papers.  Because the rim’s width is not consistent around its circumference, I also introduce a gentle rounding bevel to the external edge of the rim.  This has the effect of making the rim look more balanced and softer, hiding some of the problems with dimension.  I am very pleased with the look of the repaired rim.  The pictures show the progress!  I suppose some briar for a bit of sanity was a good trade! With MOP’s rim work finished for now, I turn to OP’s rim.  The last steward was very consistent in his practices – especially lighting his tobacco.  Again, the left side of the rim has taken the brunt of the flame which was pulled down over the side of the rim.  Pipe ladies and gentlemen, light tobacco ABOVE the chamber – not over the side!! The charring here needs to be removed to uncover healthy briar, but it will leave, as before, an imbalance in the width of the rim.  As with MOP, I take a picture at the beginning to mark the progress and to show the charred area.  I then take the topping board with 240 grit paper and lightly top it on the side of the board – the full bent shank is extending beyond the plane of the rim.  After 240, I use 600 on the board.  Thankfully, OM’s rim is in closer perpendicular alignment than was MOP’s.  After looking at the picture immediately above, I decide to take more top off to regain a precious few millimeters of rim width to help balance the appearance.  I use a miniature sanding block to sand down the surface to build up the left rim width.  I find the sanding block useful when I need to ‘steer’ the rim in a certain direction.  I still have a flat surface, but with pressure can strategically leverage the sanding. I then take the stummel back to the board with 240 and then 600 to level the rim. I think this helped to regain some rim width, but the imbalance is still evident but less so. Now, cutting a bevel as I did before with MOP, on the internal and external rim edges helps round and blend the appearance.  I use 120 grit to do the major shaping then 240, 320, and 600.  It’s as good as I can manage without taking a lot more off the top to even out the rim width.  It does work, and I move on to the next challenge.I had written to Steve earlier to get input on how to approach the crack I discovered in OP’s shank.  His response came with a picture.  I already knew that I needed to drill a counter creep hole at the top of the crack where it was obviously creeping.  Steve said that a counter creep hole was needed at the bottom as well – in the bend itself.  It will be a bit of a challenge with the angle and drilling, but I think possible.  The holes at the end of the cracks arrests the expansion of the crack.  Steve’s picture follows:The other challenge that I’ll attack at the same time is on the cut and creeping crack on the heel of OP’s stummel.  This injury will also need drilling at each end to arrest any growth in the crack or cut.  As Steve did for me, I’ve circled the points where drilling is needed.  I needed a magnifying glass to see the cracks accurately.I use the Dremel for these drillings mounted with a 1mm drill bit.  The great thing working with the Dremel is its flexibility.  The bad thing about using the Dremel, is its flexibility!  In my workspace on the 10th floor of a former Communist block apartment building, I don’t have much room.  So, the Dremel does everything for me, almost!  One of these days I will find a universal mounting system that will allow me to strap the tool in so that I can make precision movements, like this drilling project, which is more difficult in the handheld mode.  In the drilling of the holes, one does not want to break through the briar to the inner chamber or mortise!  The hole depth only needs to be 2 or so mm.  I start with the cut on the heel, the easier of the two projects.  To guide my drilling, with the use of the magnifying glass, I use the sharp point of a needle file to press a guide hole into the briar.  I then follow with drilling the shank crack holes.  The pictures show the results which turn out well despite my handheld approach! Now to apply patch material.  Again, I start with the heel repair.  Using a toothpick to guide, I apply a drop of thin Hot Stuff CA glue directly into the cut.  I want the glue to sink deeply into the fracture to sure things up.  I sprinkle some briar dust on it.  After this, on an index card, I mix a little briar dust with Hot Stuff Special T CA glue – a bit thicker.  This forms a briar dust putty that I mix and apply to the 3 holes I drilled.  I build a mound with the briar dust putty, that after cured, provides thorough coverage over the entire repair area that will be sanded down and blended. After about 45 minutes, the heel patch has set up enough for me to work on the shank crack.  Just to be on the safe side, I mask the sides of the shank to protect from CA glue accidentally running down the sides.  I am especially protective of the L J Peretti Co. stamping. As before, I place a line of thin CA glue along the crack to seep in and fill the open areas in the fracture.  Then, I mix another batch of briar dust putty using thicker CA glue and apply this on the holes and over the full length of the crack.  A toothpick acts a trowel.  It’s time to go to bed so I’ll leave the patches to cure overnight. The pictures show the patch progress on OP’s restoration. The next morning the patches have cured thoroughly and I’m ready to start filing down the patch mounds beginning with a flat edged needle file.  I’ll work down the mound starting first with the heel patch.  The key is to ride the patch mound down as far as possible with the file then switch to sand paper which will be less intrusive to the healthy briar around the patch.  When I near the briar surface with the file, I reduce the pressure I’m exerting on the file.  When down close to the briar surface, I switch to 240 grade sanding paper, again, keeping the sanding on the patch material to remove the excess patch from the briar leaving only the fills.  The patch looks good.  I will blend later. The pictures show the progress with OP. After nearly a week in Athens, Greece, attending a conference and doing some pipe hunting, I return to Sofia and to my worktable where the shank patch and sanding are waiting for me.  It will be a bit more of a challenge.  Not only because of where the crack patch is located, but because sanding in the area will impact the end of the shank, potentially affecting the stem union.  I noted before that I wasn’t satisfied the seating of the stem.  There were small gaps showing between shank base and the stem.  I also could feel lips where the shank and the saddle stem were not flush.  My plan is to address these issues as I sand down the shank crack patch.  I start first with a flat and a rounded needle file to work down the patch. I progress to the crook of the bend and file with a round needle file. When I’m close to the surface with the needle files, I then switch to 240 grade sanding paper to remove more patch material down to the briar.  Then I follow using 600 grade paper to smooth out the coarser sanding scratches and to blend. While I’m sanding in the shank area, I work on the stem/shank alignment. I previously noticed that there was ‘daylight’ between the contact point between the shank and stem.  As much as possible, I want a seamless fit between the shank and the stem.  I notice also that the vulcanite on the end of the stem is not smooth which might be contributing to the stem’s fitting issues.  I decide to ‘top’ the stem at the tenon base using a piece of wood with a hole to accommodate the tenon.  I place a piece of 240 grade sanding paper over the topping board also with a tenon hole, insert the stem and rotate it.  This enables the smoothing of the vulcanite at the tenon base and hopefully, achieve a tighter, more true contact point between stem and shank. That does the job partially – the stem is snugger, but I still see a bit of daylight through the right side of where the shank and stem meet.  To address this, I need to remove the high spot on the left side of the junction to achieve a better seating of the stem in the shank.  I use a piece of 320 grade sanding paper folded and inserted between the shank and stem over the high spot and sand down the area.  I saw this method used by Charles Lemon on Dad’s Pipes to help improve the stem connection.  This does the job very well and after working the sanding paper around the high area, the stem contact looks better.Finally, I want to smooth out the lip that is caused by an overhang of the stem which I can detect by rubbing my finger over the shank and stem junction.  On the lower shank/stem the stem is a bit over the shank.  I use 240 grit paper to sand the lip down so that there is no lip between stem and shank.  After sanding down the area, the fit of the stem is much better all around.  I like it!With the major stummel repair projects completed, I rejoin stems with the stummels of MOP and OM and look.  As I work I’m admiring the briar on these larger Oom Paul bowls.  MOP is dominated by bird’s eye pattern with lateral grain on the bow of the stummel.  While OM has striking horizontal flame grain tying both shank and bowl and culminates at the bow of the stummel with bird’s eye.  Very nice.  What I love about Oom Pauls is the ample briar real estate on display!Before I switch my focus to the stems, while I think about the next steps for the bowl restorations, I decide to augment the internal cleaning of the stummels using a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  For both MOP and OP I fill the bowls with kosher salt.  I then pull and stretch cotton balls to form ‘wicks’ that I stuff down the mortise of each stummel.  The cotton wicks act to draw out the oils and tars left behind.  This method also helps to freshen the briar for a fresher taste for the new steward.  Placing each stummel in an egg crate for stability, with a large eye dropper I fill each bowl with isopropyl 95% and wait a few minutes and top it off again.  It takes a good bit!  I then set the bowls aside for several hours to allow the salt and alcohol to do their work.Turning to the stems, I start with My Oom Paul.  I take a close-up of the upper and lower bit area of MOP.  The former steward of these Oom Pauls was a clencher.  The good news is that he didn’t chew on the button too much – it’s in good shape.  With the dents and chatter, I start by using a flame to heat and expand the dents as much as possible.  I use a cheap Bic lighter.  This does raise and soften the dents.  The before and after of upper and then lower bit pictures follow. Using 240 grit sanding paper, I sand out the dents and chatter.  I also use a flat needle file to re-establish a crisp button. After sanding, I’m able to identify the remaining dents that need to be filled.  One dent on the upper bit with also a small indentation on the button needs attention.  On the lower, two areas need more attention on the bit and a bite on the button. Using cotton pads, I clean the upper and lower bit area with alcohol before applying drops of Starbond Black Medium KE – 150 CA glue to the problem areas on the lower bit.  I will wait an hour or so before turning the bit to apply Black CA glue on the upper bit. After the Black CA cures, I work the patches down on the lower and upper bit with a flat needle file then fine tune with 240 grit paper.Now, turning to OP’s stem, I take close-ups of the upper and lower bit area to show the starting point.  Again, as with MOP, the tooth dents are on both sides.  I paint the bit with fire from a Bic lighter to expand the vulcanite and raise the tooth dents.  As before, the heating did raise the dents so that sanding becomes more effective.  Before and after pictures of the heating for upper bit and then lower bit. As before, using 240 grit sanding paper I sand out as much as possible the dents on the bit and button. I also use a flat needle file to define the button lips more.  That worked out well.  All the dents sanded out except for one small area on the lower bit.  No patch is necessary on the top. After cleaning the area with alcohol, I apply a drop of Black Medium CA Glue to the spot.  I set OP’s stem aside for a few hours for the patch to cure.  When cured I sand the patch with 240 grit paper.  The pictures show the progress with the OP’s stem. Looking back at the stummels, the kosher salt/alcohol soak did the job.  The salt and wicks have discolored indicating that the tars and oils have been drawn out.  I remove the salt, wipe the bowls out with paper towel assuring that all the salt is removed. For the sake of abbreviation in this long blog, both stems proceed through the finishing process.  I use 600 grade paper to erase the 240 grade sanding and then buff up the stems using 0000 grade steel wool.  From here, I take the stems through the full process of 9 micromesh pads from 1500 to 12000, wet sanding 1500 to 2400 then dry sanding with 3200 to 4000 and then 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of three I applied Obsidian Oil to enrich the vulcanite.  The results are good.  The Peretti ‘P’ stamped on my Oom Paul looks great.Now to the stummels.  I begin with MOP.  I start with taking a few pictures to take in the great looking bird’s eye grain.  I love the wide expanse of the briar on the Oom Paul stummel – it goes on and on.  To remove the nicks and minor scratches on the briar surface I use sanding sponges progressing from coarser, medium, and then, light. I follow the sponge sanding by doing a full regimen of micromesh pad sanding.  Using 1500 to 2400, I wet sand, then with the remaining pads, 3200 to 12000 I dry sand.  This process brings out the grain very nicely and I’m liking what I see! As I now look to the OP stummel, I’ve been going back and forth as to what to do with this stage of the process.  OP has two crack/cut repairs to blend into the finished coloring of the bowl.  It also has many normal nicks and scratches which need to be addressed.  I want to keep both L J Peretti pipes as close to the color scheme as possible, but to provide some blending cover for the cut/crack patches, I will need to darken the color some for OP.  Even so, I know that most likely, patches will still be detectable but much subdued.  My thinking now is waffling between staining my Oom Paul with a new color of Fiebing’s leather dye I brought back from the US – Saddle Tan Pro Dye.  I tested it on a raw piece of wood and I like the results.  The other approach I want to test is simply using Before and After Briar Balm or as it’s called on the label, ‘Hard Rubber Balm’.  Steve recommended this approach to me in lieu of stain.  With waffling completed, I will use the Briar Balm on MOP first to see how it turns out.  Then, for OP, which needs more blending activity, I’ll use the Saddle Tan dye. With this decided, I take a few more close-ups of OP to mark the start.  I begin preparing the briar surface using sanding sponges – from coarser, to medium, and to fine to clean the surface of scratches and nicks.  Throughout, I am careful to guard the L. J. Peretti Co. nomenclature on the shank.  As with My Oom Paul, I use micromesh pads following the sponge sanding.  I wet sand using pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sand from 3200 to 12000.  I record the progress after each set of 3.  I love this phase of the process.  The micromesh pads do a great job bringing out the fine detail of the grain.  The OP has a distinctive lateral, horizontal flame grain that spans the bowl and full bent shank.  It culminates in the front with bird’s eye grain – the perpendicular view of the horizontal flow of grain.  Very nice.  The pictures capture a bit of what I’m seeing emerge with OP. Now testing time.  I will apply the Before and After Briar Balm to MOP – My Oom Paul, to see how the briar absorbs and reacts.  I’ve seen Steve apply the balm to several pipes he’s restored on Reborn Pipes with very nice results.  The process is easy.  Apply balm to the briar and work it in with your fingers.  I take a picture of each side of the stummel to show the starting point.  I put some balm on my fingers and I work it in.  The balm is loose and oily when it first begins but as it is worked in, it thickens as it is absorbed into the briar.  After applying the balm, I wait about 10 minutes and wipe/buff the stummel with a clean cotton cloth.  The difference is noticeable – the briar has a deeper, richer appearance.  I like it! I take two ‘after’ pictures to compare.  The first picture is the right side of the bowl and the second, left.  Before the balm is on the left and after application, is on the right.  The pictures speak for themselves. Now, turning to OM, I will apply Fiebing’s Saddle Tan Pro Dye. I first wipe the bowl down with alcohol to make sure it is free of dust and dirt.  I insert a cork into the shank to serve as a handle and heat up the stummel using an air gun to expand the briar making it more receptive to the dye.  Then, I thoroughly apply the aniline based Saddle Tan dye to the stummel with a pipe cleaner and then flame the wet dye which immediately burns off the alcohol setting the pigment into the briar.  I repeat the process and flaming and set the stummel aside to rest overnight allowing the dye to set.  The good thing about aniline dye is that I can use alcohol on a cotton pad to wipe the stummel later to lighten the hue if I choose.  Another day has come to an end.Early the next morning before heading out to another full day of work, I’m anxious to ‘unwrap’ OP’s bowl that rested through the night.  I take a picture of the ‘rested’ stummel.  Using the Dremel, set to the lowest speed, I mount a felt buffing wheel dedicated to applying Red Tripoli compound.  After purging the wheel to soften it and clean it, I methodically work the wheel around the stummel ‘unwrapping’ the fired dye revealing the briar surface.  I do not apply a lot of pressure on the felt wheel but allow the fine abrasive nature of the Tripoli compound, speed of the Dremel and the felt wheel to do the work.  Since the felt buffing wheel is not flexible, I mount a cotton cloth wheel with Tripoli to reach into the crook of the shank’s bend.  I take a picture of the ‘unwrapping’ with the Tripoli compound to give an idea of what I’m seeing.At this point, I yoke both Oom Paul stummels together in the process.  I reunite stems to both and after mounting a cotton cloth buffing wheel, I leave the Dremel’s speed the same slowest setting, and apply Blue Diamond compound to both stummels and stems. When I finish, I buff each with a felt cloth to remove the compound dust from the pipes in preparation for the wax.  I mount a dedicated cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel, increase the speed to about 40% and apply carnauba wax to both MOP and OP, stem and stummel.  After applying several coats of carnauba to each pipe, to finish I give both a good buffing from a micromesh cloth to deepen the shine more.

These two Oom Pauls provided some challenges in their restorations, but I am pleased with the results!  After this I don’t believe I will do another ‘double restoration’ write-up – too much!  The grain on both Oom Pauls is striking.  My Oom Paul’s finish came out well using Before and After Briar Balm and the grain is dominated by a large orchard of bird’s eye pattern.  I look forward to his inaugural smoke as I add him to my growing L. J. Peretti Co. collection.

The Oom Paul heading to The Pipe Steward Store had some challenges with cracks and cuts, and loving abuse from his former steward whose practice of lighting over the edge of the rim presented some hurdles.  The Saddle Tan finish looks great – it has masked the cut repair on the heel but not fully hidden – he takes some signs of his past life war wounds into the future! But OH MY, the lateral flame grain flowing through the stummel from the full bent shank to the front of the bowl culminating with a sprinkling of bird’s eye is striking and a beautiful example of God’s handiwork!  He’s bigger than my Oom Paul with the length (in full bent position) is 6 inches, height of the bowl: 2 ½ inches, rim width: 1 ½ inches, chamber width: 15/16 inches, chamber depth: 2 1/8 inches.  He is ready for a new steward and the adoption of this Oom Paul will benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria, our work with women and girls (along with their children!) who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  The pictures following start with MOP and OP together, two pictures of MOP happily heading to my rack, and then the remaining pictures of the Oom Paul heading to The Pipe Steward Store!  They turned out to be a handsome pair of dudes! Thanks for joining me!

Revitalizing a Distinctive L J Peretti of Boston – Large Full Bent Egg

Blog by Dal Stanton

I’ve grown to like L J Peretti pipes and I guess you could say, that I’ve started collecting them.  Why?  My son gave me my first Peretti for Christmas which I restored by splicing the missing part of the stem by cannibalizing another:  A Christmas Gift in need of a stem splice – L J Peretti Squared Shank Billiard.  It turned out to be a great smoker and I like the stout squared shank.It was my research with this pipe that I discovered the mystique of the Boston-based, L. J. Peretti name and its place in Americana pipe history as the second oldest US Tobacconist started in 1870 (Quoted from Lopes in Pipedia).  The L J Peretti Co. continues to serve patrons today in their Boston shop on 2 ½ Park Square by being one of the few places where one can bring his/her pipe and be guided by experienced tobacconists and test several selections before deciding to purchase!  I was also attracted to the Peretti story because Boston is a cool city – my son lived there and I enjoyed my visits.The next Peretti I serendipitously received was from a colleague working in Ukraine – a square shanked Rhodesian.  He brought it to me when we met last winter in Oslo, Norway, to watch a world-class Biathlon event (skiing and shooting).  He wasn’t utilizing him anymore and asked me if I would.  Yes!  It’s a smaller pipe and good for a shorter smoke.  Suddenly, I had two Perettis of Boston!  Both, strong, squared shanks – I liked them.Then I drank the Peretti Kool Aid.  I bought my own Peretti – well, that’s not the whole truth.  I bought 10 pipes of Peretti in a lot for sale on eBay from a seller located in Everett, Massachusetts, just north of Boston.  I guess you could say that I’m now a Peretti collector!  Of the 10 pictured from the eBay seller below, I chose 4 to add to my personal collection – one of the Oom Paul’s (many to choose from!), the Calabash (top left), the Billiard EX (bottom), and the massive Full Bent Egg in the center of the picture. The remaining Peretti cousins will eventually be restored and put up for adoption in The Pipe Steward Store Front to benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria.  I’m pressing to restore and ready the Peretti Full Bent Egg for service because my wife and I will be returning to the US from Bulgaria for a few months and I was hoping to bring this new Peretti along!  Now on my worktable, on the 10th floor of a former Communist block apartment building, I take some pictures of the L J Peretti Full Bent Egg in the condition he arrived from Everett, Mass. The pipe is generally in good shape.  It shows normal wear and usage.  The briar surface is grimy.  The narrow, cylindrical bowl is laden with cake which needs removal.  The stem is heavily oxidized with tooth chatter and some compressions present.  This L J Peretti has enjoyed a lot of use showing that the former steward enjoyed his company.  The nomenclature is situated on the left-side of the shank and simply reads, ‘LJ PERETTI CO’ and is very worn.  I’ll be careful to preserve it.  There are no other markings that I can tell.  I take a magnifying glass to the left side of the full bent saddle stem to see if there might be a Peretti ‘P’ stamp hiding in the oxidation, but I see no sign.  I’m anxious to recommission this newest of my L J Perretti collection – an extra-large Full Bent Egg.  The first step is to put the full bent stem into the OxiClean bath to raise the serious oxidation on the stem.  I leave it in the bath overnight. Then, using the Pipnet Reaming Kit (minus blade #3 which broke during the last restoration), I attack the cake in the chamber.  I use only the smallest two blades, and the cake easily surrenders.  The carbon cake was crusty – like hard toast, and it comes out readily.  I finetune the reaming with the Savinelli Fitsall Reaming Knife which can reach down the long, deep chamber.  To clean the walls further and to reveal fresh briar for a new start, I wrap 240 grade paper around a Sharpie Pen and sand the chamber.  Finally, I wipe out the chamber with a cotton pad and alcohol – ridding the chamber of the carbon dust resulting from the reaming.  The chamber condition looks good.  The pictures show the progress. Next, I clean the external briar surface.  I do this using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a cotton pad.  I also employ the use of a brass wire brush to work on the tight rim of the Egg shape as well as my thumb nail to scrape the crusted briar and lava.  Grimy was an understatement.  The stummel was dirty and the rim came clean through the process, but revealed some burn damage to the slender, vulnerable rim.  I’ll need to top the rim gently to remove the scorched, ‘charcoaly’ wood.  The cleaning also reveals a beautiful piece of briar – inspecting the surface I find no fills.  The large Egg bowl shows a lot of grain movement – very nice!  My day is ending and I will let the internals of the stummel clean through the night using a kosher salt/alcohol soak.  I’ve never started with the soak before.  I’ve always worked first on the internals with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and isopropyl 95% and then followed with a soak.  I’ll do the soak and see how it does.  I fill the chamber with the kosher salt, that does not leave an aftertaste as does the iodized variety.  Then I fashion a cotton wick by stretching and twisting a cotton ball and then stuffing it down the mortise.  Its purpose is to draw the tars and oils out during the soak.  I then fill the chamber with alcohol using a large eye dropper until it surfaces over the salt.  I wait a few minutes and top off the alcohol once more.   Then I set the stummel in an egg cart and turn off the lights. Morning has arrived and I check out the progress with the salt/alcohol soak.  Both the kosher salt and the cotton wick have darkened indicating the nocturnal stealth activities of cleaning.  I remove the expended salt and wipe the chamber with a paper towel and run long-wired bristled brushes in the bowl and through the mortise to remove salt crystals.  I then use pipe cleaners and cotton swabs dipped in isopropyl 95% to clean up the leftover gunk from the soak.  There were additional oils and tars in the mortise – in the moisture trap underneath the airway drilling, but all clean up quickly and well.  I also scrape the mortise walls with dental probes and a pointed needle file to augment the cleaning.  Internals clean!It’s time to take the stem out of the OxiClean bath and clean it up.  The oxidation has surfaced well during the soak and using 600 grit sanding paper I wet sand the stem to remove the top layer of oxidation and tooth damage to the bit.  I follow with 0000 steel wool to reduce the oxidation further and buff up the vulcanite. I now take a closer look at the bit to see what tooth chatter remains.  Using 240 grit paper I sand the areas where tooth dents remain on the top and bottom bit.  There also remains a dent on the lower button lip. At this point I use the heat method to help minimize the dents that remain.  With a lighter, I pass the flame over the bit area and ‘paint’ the vulcanite surface.  I don’t want to ‘cook’ the vulcanite but warm it sufficiently to expand the rubber.  When this happens, the dents seek their original pre-dental positions.  This works very well and the dent on the lower button lip has all but disappeared.  I return to using 240 grit paper, followed by 600 then steel wool and the damaged bit areas look great.  This time around I will not need to use CA glue to repair the dents.With the stem in hand I turn to cleaning the internal airway.  Using only a few pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol and the stem is good to go!Looking now at the scorched rim, I need to remove the charred briar at the 1 to 2 o’clock position on the rim in the picture below.  The Egg shape bowl sets off the rim as the shape tightens as it moves toward the rim.  It creates a very tight look with the top.  The rim appears originally to have been crowned – a gently rounded rim.  I will aim toward restoring the crowned rim.  First, I top the rim very little – it’s not easy as the shank extends further than the plane of the rim so it will not sit on the topping board.  I must hang the shank over the topping board edge to allow the rim to sit flat.  I then gently rotate the stummel in a limited fashion.  I don’t take much off and then switch to 600 grit paper on the board and rotate the stummel more. Now, using 240 grit paper rolled, I sand the inside of the rim creating a beveling effect and removing the remaining damaged briar.  After beveling and cleaning the internal rim lip, I gently bevel the outer lip of the rim.  This is sharpening and restoring a rounding of the tight rim.  I follow using 600 grit paper which smooth the rim more and enhances the crowned effect I want.  The pictures show the results – I like the look of the rim – it enhances the Egg shape.Looking at this large block of briar, the Bird’s Eye grains are wonderfully portrayed in the first 2 pictures below – large landscapes of grain movement – I like that!  From my original Peretti research I emailed the L J Peretti Tobacconist Shop in Boston with a question about where their pipes were manufactured.   Tom was kind enough to respond, saying that over the years they had used many different sources, but most had been produced by Arlington Briars.  I found this about Arlington in Pipedia:

Arlington Briar Pipes Corporation was founded in 1919 in Brooklyn, New York, and produced the Arlington, Briarlee, Firethorn, Krona and Olde London brands among dozens of others, primarily acting as a subcontractor making pipes to be sold under other brand names. Among others, in the 1950’s, Arlington turned pipes for the famed Wilke Pipe Shop in New York City. The corporation was dissolved by the State of New York as inactive on December 6, 1978. 

Where ever this L J Peretti Full Bent Egg was birthed, the block of briar used was an excellent specimen and it is now showcased in this striking pipe.  I see no fills on this stummel, only minor nicks which is normal for any pipe’s experience.  I use a two grades of light sanding sponges to remove these small imperfections. I continue with the grain’s emergence using micromesh pads.  I begin by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400, followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000, then 6000 to 12000.  There is nothing quite like the natural briar shine that emerges during the micromesh process.  The pictures show the transformation. I will stain the bowl keeping it on the lighter side by using Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye and adding alcohol to it.  I use a 2 to 1 ratio of Light Brown to alcohol.  I first clean the stummel with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  I mix the ratio of dye/alcohol in a shot glass and insert a cork into the shank to serve as a handle.  I heat the stummel with a hot air gun to expand the briar better to receive the dye.  After warmed, I use a folded pipe cleaner to apply the dye to the bowl.  After fully covered with dye, I fire the aniline dye using a lit candle.  The alcohol burns off setting the pigment in the grain.  I wait a few minutes then repeat the process.  I then put the stummel aside to rest. With the stummel resting, I turn again to the stem and wet sand it using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000, then 6000 to 12000.  After each cycle, I apply Obsidian Oil to restore vitality to the vulcanite.  The full bent saddle stem was a chore to hang on to and sand with the tight angles, but the stem looks good and has that new vulcanite pop! It is finally time to unwrap the stained and fired stummel to see what we have underneath!  I enjoy this part of the restoration process primarily to see the grain emerge – this large Egg shaped stummel holds great promise.  I mount a felt buffing wheel onto the Dremel and set the speed at the lowest which is 20% of its power.  I apply the more abrasive Tripoli compound to the stummel to do the unwrapping of the crusted shell.  To reach into the crook between the shank and stummel, I switch to an angled felt buffing wheel to remove the wrapper from the hard to reach place. To lighten the stain and to blend the dye, using a cotton pad wetted with alcohol, I wipe the stummel.  This is an advantage of using aniline dyes for staining.  The alcohol wipe clouds the finish but this is normal.  I follow now by mounting a cotton cloth buffing wheel onto the Dremel and set at 40% speed, I apply the less abrasive Blue Diamond compound to buff-sand the stummel, as well as the full bent saddle stem which I remount. After completing the application of Blue Diamond compound on stem and stummel, to remove compound dust before waxing, I buff the pipe with a felt cloth.  Then, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel and maintain the speed at 40% and apply several coats of carnauba wax to the Egg shape stummel and full bent saddle stem.  The wax protects the surfaces but it also causes the shine and natural gloss of the briar to shine – I don’t know how to describe the natural beauty of briar when it shines through – and this L J Peretti is making a statement!  After completing the application of carnauba wax I give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing and I’m enjoying the view.This L J Peretti Full Bent Egg is a beautiful example of briar grain coming and going.  The size and the feel of the large Egg stummel in my hand fits like a glove.  The tight, cylindrical bowl’s apex with the thin, crowned rim is classy.  I’m happy to add this Peretti to my Peretti collection and I look forward to trying him out with a bowl of my favorite blend, Lane BC.  The pipes I restore and don’t adopt myself, are put in The Pipe Steward Store Front which benefits our work with the Daughters of Bulgaria, women and girls who have been sexually exploited and trafficked.  Thanks for joining me!

Another L. J. Peretti of Boston – Square Shanked Rhodesian

Blog by Dal Stanton

When Jon put the L. J. Peretti out on the table I was excited.  I was in Oslo, Norway, where I met up with two colleagues who work in Ukraine – we were there watching a world class biathlon event and we had a great time.  Jon knew that I was restoring pipes for the Daughters of Bulgaria and had a couple pipes that he was no longer smoking.  He picked the Peretti up off eBay some time ago and he passed it on to me to restore for a new steward – a task I was more than willing to take on!  I grew a bit attached to the Boston-based Tobacconist L. J. Peretti Co., when I restored my first Peretti which my son had gifted me for Christmas.  It was a challenge as I salvaged the original Peretti stamp on the surviving squared saddle stem half and added the other half by cannibalizing another stem and accomplishing a stem splice.  For a look at this project look here:  Peretti Square Shanked Billiard.  I brought the ‘new’ L. J. Peretti home to Bulgaria and the first picture below shows the two Perettis – a remarkable resemblance in the sharp squared shanked style.In the interest of full disclosure, when I first saw the ‘new’ Peretti in Oslo, I really wasn’t sure what the shape classification would be.  The first indicator I cued on was the double groove – Bulldog?  Then, the classic Bulldog usually has a diamond shank/stem.  Rhodesian?  The squared shank didn’t fit.  Ok, a Billiard or Apple with a cool grooved ring going with the squared shank, which I think is very attractive.  My questions gave way to an email to Steve for his input and his response came very quickly.  His call is a squared shank Rhodesian.  My response, “Sweet!”  That works for me.  When I did my original research on the Peretti name I discovered the genesis of a significant story of Americana pipe history with the establishment of the L. J. Peretti Company of Boston in 1870, the second oldest tobacco shop in the US, second only to Iwan Ries & Co. of Chicago established in 1857 (See: Link).  It started in 1870, Libero Joseph Peretti arrived in Boston from Lugano, Switzerland, putting in motion the historical axis that exists today in an iconic tobacconist shop that continues to serve patrons by hand-blending tobaccos from around the world to taste.  One can take his empty bowl to the shop in Boston at 2 1/2 Park Square and test different blends under the watchful assistance of L. J. Peretti staff – total ‘old school’ and I like it! With an appreciation for the L. J. Perretti Squared Shank Rhodesian on my work table, I take more pictures to fill in the gaps. The left side of the shank is stamped “STRAIGHT GRAIN” and, interestingly, the right side is “L.J. Peretti”.  As is true of my other Peretti, usually the name is stamped on the left side.  This Peretti’s pedigree is on the right side of the shank.  The squared, tapered stem has the classic “P” stamped and in good shape. The chamber shows significant cake and will need to be cleaned down to the briar.  The rim has some significant damage on the right side and significant lava flow.  I will need to clean bowl and rim to see what might be lurking beneath.  The Rhodesian upper dome has cuts – one noticeably dissects the twin grooves.  There’s a good bit of grime in the grooves and at least one lightened fill on the heel – with the flat heel this Rhodesian is also a sitter – a nice feature for the table!  I also detect some dents on the squared shank corners – this old boy has taken a bit of bruising along the way.  The stem shows no oxidation but the button shows some biting and tooth dents – both upper and lower button lips have clench marks.  ‘Straight Grain’ is stamped on the shank and the grain has some striking features that will be visible once the grime is cleaned and things shined up a bit.

I work on the stummel first.  Taking the Pipnet Reaming Kit I use the two smallest of the four blades available to me and ream the chamber, removing the carbon cake build up to the briar. I then fine tune the ream by using the Savinelli pipe knife which enables me to remove residual cake in more difficult angles.  To clean the chamber further, I take a piece of 240 grit sanding paper and wrap it around a Sharpie Pen and sand the surface of the chamber then clean the left-over carbon dust with cotton pads wetted with isopropyl 95%.  The chamber walls appear to be in good condition.  The pictures show the progress. I now use undiluted Murphy’s Soap with cotton pads, a bristled tooth brush and a brass wired brush to clean the stummel surface, scrub the rim and clean the grime out of the twin grooves.  As I’m cleaning, it becomes evident that the left front of the upper dome is scorched from what appears to be the aftermath of using a lighter flame over the side of the rim to light the tobacco.  I do not use a lighter for this reason – it is difficult to angle the flame without bringing damage to the surface briar.  I use matches and bring the flame directly over the chamber and draw the flame directly to the tobacco.  I’ll need to send Jon a note about this!!!  After scrubbing with all available tools, I rinse the stummel with tap water without introducing water into the internals.  With the rim now clean, the extent of the damage is revealed.  The final picture in the set below, on the lower part of the picture shows this damage. Since my day is ending, I decide to hydrate the stummel surface with a light application of olive oil.  I also decide to use a kosher salt and alcohol soak to work on the internals overnight.  I twist a cotton ball and stuff it down the mortise to act as a wick to draw the oils and tars out.  I then fill the chamber with kosher salt and hold my palm over the top and give it a shake to displace the salt.  Using an eyedropper, I then fill the bowl with isopropyl 95% and leave the stummel in an egg crate for stability and turn off the lights.  The pictures show the progress.The next morning the salt, as expected had discolored somewhat and the cotton served as a wick drawing oils and gunk out of the stummel internals.  I follow with a barrage of pipe cleaners and cotton swabs to finish the cleaning job.  The pictures show the progress.I now face the most daunting part of the restoration of this L. J. Peretti Squared Shank Rhodesian.  I take more pictures for a closer look at the problems.  The burn and scorching damage on the rim and upper dome of the stummel are significant.  The rim at the 11:30 position is cratered severely and it appears that the rim burned and the charred part chipped off after becoming brittle.  From this area, down on the left side to the 7:00 position there is damage but not as severe.  My concern is whether there is healthy briar beneath what I’m seeing or has the wood charred more deeply?  If so, a lot of briar will need to be removed to repair the rim via topping, but this could impact the Rhodesian proportional balance between the upper and lower parts of the bowl – divided by the twin grooves.  This repair reminds me of a rim rebuild I did with a ‘Throw-Away Pipe’ that had little rim left.  With a desire to salvage as much of the rim as possible, I will very lightly top the pipe but only to gain the ‘high ground’ of the rim and then fill the craters and divots in the rim with a briar dust and superglue putty.  I want to ‘build-up’ the rim instead of losing it on the topping board and creating a squat-top, disproportionate Rhodesian.  The pictures show the damage and the challenges. It will be difficult to top the rim evenly with the soft spots created by the charred briar.  With the chopping block covered with 240 grit sanding paper, I very lightly begin to rotate the inverted stummel.  I take pictures to mark the gradual process.  When I arrive at the maximum topping progress, most of the rim has found it’s ‘high ground’ leaving the remainder of the damaged areas more visible.  This allows me to strategically apply patches on the rim.  I notice that there is additional carbon on the inside lip of the chamber so I take out the Peretti Pipe Knife once more and scrape the additional carbon exposed by the topping.  The pictures show the progress of the rim repair. The focus for the briar dust – superglue patch will be the 11:00 area (see above).  The remainder of the damage on the inner rim will be addressed by creating an inner rim bevel.  To prepare the area for the patch I clean it with a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl 95%.  Using Hot Stuff Special ‘T’ CA Instant Glue, I mix it with the briar dust until it reaches a viscosity like molasses.  Using a toothpick as a trowel, I apply the putty excessively over the area with the plan of sanding it down.  I put the stummel aside to allow the patch to cure.  I’ll give it a full 12 hours. The next day, the patch has cured well.  I begin sanding down the excess briar dust patch by using a half-rounded needle file to contour the inner chamber part of the patch.  My goal is to reestablish a round rim by blending the patch with the curvature of the inner rim.  After this I smooth and blend the area further with 240 grit paper.  When satisfied, I turn to the top of the rim using a flat needle file to bring the bump of the patch gently down to the briar rim surface.  The surrounding wood is softer and I avoid collateral filing as much as possible.  I follow to further smooth and blend the whole patch with 240 grit paper.  The pictures show the shaping progress. With the primary patch shaping complete, I want to introduce a bevel to the inner rim lip to remove damage as well as blend the entire rim contour – seeking a round rim.  I believe a bevel always ‘up-classes’ a pipe, too!  I use a coarser 120 grit paper to cut the bevel –  careful to remember the patch area is harder and it is easy to dig in to the surrounding softer briar.  After the 120 grit paper, I smooth and blend further with 240 paper. I complete the rim repair by returning to the topping board with a light topping first with 240 paper followed by 600 grit paper.  This ties things together.  The first picture shows the completed patch shaping to mark the progress of the bevel.  I think things are looking good at this point with the rim repair. Unfortunately, upon closer scrutiny, I discover that my topping inadvertently leaned toward the front of the stummel. This is very evident when comparing the twin grooves to the rim pitch (first picture below).  We do not have a parallel alignment which should be the case.  When I looked back at the pictures above showing the incremental topping process, this is confirmed when the front stummel part of the rim was sanding and the shank side less so.  The result I see is the Rhodesian’s dome lop-sided and that just won’t do.  Even though I’ll give up briar real estate, I take the topping board and hang the stummel over the edge of the 240 paper.  I work only the shank-side of the rim which needs to be lowered and leveled with the front side.  Gradually, I find greater alignment with rim and grooves, though there is still a bit of pitch but not as pronounced. It will work.  I reinstate the bevel and I’m satisfied with the progress.  The pictures show the progress. I put the stummel aside and turn to the stem.  I use 240 grit paper to smooth out the tooth chatter on the upper and lower bit and sand the upper and lower button lips.  By removing the superficial indentations in the vulcanite, I am then able to identify what needs to be filled.  After wiping clean the area, I use Starbond Black Medium KE-150 CA glue to drop fill tooth dents in both the upper and lower button lip as well as the upper bit area.  After application of glue, I spray an accelerator on the cosmetic fills.  I do not use accelerator when the strength of the glue is the issue as the use of an accelerator tends to weaken bonds – from my reading.  I follow with a flat needle file to freshen the button lines and then sanding with 240 grit paper to smooth out the file marks and fills and to blend. I then move to sanding the whole stem.  With some great input from Al Jones in a recent restoration regarding safe-guarding the crisp lines and edges of stems, I mount the stem to the stummel with a plastic disk I fabricated between the two.  This keeps the sanding from creating shoulders over the edge of the vulcanite.  I also wrap the 240, then 600 grit paper around a clothespin half to create a flat sanding surface to guard the sharp edges of the squared shank square and not rounding them.  After completing the sanding, careful to guard the Peretti ‘P’ stem stamp, I buff the stem with 0000 steel wool.  The pictures show the progress.Turning to the internals of the stem, I use pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% to clean the airway.  I notice that the pipe cleaners have difficulty passing through the slot so I widen it a bit using a rounded needle file against the upper and lower slot opening.  That did the trick.  Pipe cleaners move freely and now, cleanly.  Pictures show the progress.With the stem repairs completed and the internals cleaned, I’m ready to commence the micromesh pad cycle on the LJ Peretti’s squared shank.  Using pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stem.  I follow by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and then 6000 to 12000.  With each set of 3 pads I apply Obsidian Oil to the stem which revitalizes the vulcanite.  The pictures show the amazing vulcanite ‘pop’ emerging. I put the stem aside to dry.With the stummel showing scorching damage on the upper dome extending downwardly over the grooves, I take another picture for a closer look.  I use a medium grade sanding sponge to address the damaged area.  I need to remove the charcoaled wood and get down to healthy briar beneath the surface.  To aim for uniformity throughout the stummel, I use the sanding sponge on the entire surface, careful to guard the nomenclature on both sides of the shank.  I follow the medium grade sponge with the light grade sanding sponge to finish addressing the charred wood and minor cuts and pits on the stummel surface.  It looks good.  The shank stamping, STRAIGHTGRAIN, is starting to show itself as the grain shows through the once scorched dome area.Taking micromesh pads, I now wet sand the stummel using pads 1500 to 2400.  Following this, I dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000.  Wow.  I cannot believe the grain making an appearance on this L. J. Peretti Rhodesian.  The pictures show what I watch emerge through each micromesh pad cycle. To get a big picture look at the Peretti, I reunite the stummel and stem.  As with my last Peretti restored, I like the squared shank’s flow from stummel as it tapers out through the stem.  This Rhodesian’s stem tapers whereas my other Peretti Billiard has a squared saddle stem.  Both, very nice variations of the same concept – a classy shank style. Because of the beauty of the grain I’m seeing, I’m tempted to stop at this point, and finish up with carnauba – I like the natural briar that much.  The only issue is that I would like to apply a darker brown shade of dye to better blend the patch and repair of the rim which stands out as is.  The pictures show the story.In preparation for the staining phase, I use a sharp dental probe and run it through the grooves to dislodge any briar dust from the sanding process.  There is a good bit of compressed residue coming loose.  I follow by wiping down the stummel with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to clean the surface.  On the stummel heel, I detect one lightened fill.  I darken it with a stain stick to encourage blending.  I also touch up the patch fill on the rim to help blending and masking the patch after dye is applied.  Pictures show the preparation steps. To stain, I use Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye mixed with isopropyl 95% at 50/50.  I use a large dropper to do the mixing in a shot glass.  With the mixture ready, I heat the stummel using the air gun expanding the briar making a better receptor for the dye.  When heated, I use a doubled-over pipe cleaner to apply the dye to the stummel surface.  I apply the dye liberally seeking to achieve 100% coverage.  When completed, I fire the wet dye which immediately ignites the alcohol in the dye, setting the hue in the grain.  I repeat the above application of dye and flaming after a few minutes.  I put the stummel aside to rest for several hours before removing the fired dye crust.  The pictures show the set-up and the progress.  With the stummel resting, I restore the Peretti’s classic stem ‘P’ with white acrylic paint.  Restoring the stem stamping for me is special, along with guarding the nomenclature – and is why I went through a stem-splice with my first Peretti restore – to save the surviving saddle stem piece with the old, warn ‘P’ stamp.   I apply white acrylic paint to the ‘P’ in a large gob over the area to allow the paint to fully saturate the ‘P’ imprint.  I allow it to dry fully.  Later, when dried (it doesn’t take long), I use the edge of a toothpick and gently scrape the area removing the excess but leaving the paint in the stamp imprint.  Using the side of the toothpick has worked for me as it is a harder surface, yet soft as it’s wood.  The flat area of the toothpick passes over the stamp and does not disturb the paint.  I’m pleased with the results.The next morning, the stummel is waiting to be unwrapped of the flamed crust.  Using the Dremel high speed rotary tool, my tool of choice given the tight quarters of my work table on the 10th floor of a former Communist block apartment building, I mount a felt buffing wheel set at the slowest speed, and use Tripoli compound to apply the gentle abrasion to begin the final buffing stages.  I first purge the wheel of old compound running it against the metal adjustment wrench, then with new compound on the wheel, I apply it to the surface.  I do not use much downward pressure but allow the speed of the wheel’s RPMs and the compound to do the work.  I methodically move over the stummel surface in areas with the sheen of the overhead lamp providing the ‘headlights’ letting me know to spread the compound or apply more to the wheel.  I take a picture to show the felt wheel application of Tripoli compound – I had to stage it because I don’t have enough hands to take a picture and hold stummel and Dremel!  After completing the Tripoli cycle, I lightly wiped the stummel with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%, not wanting to lighten the hue but to blend certain areas on the heel and shank.  I avoid wiping down the bowl area – it looks good.  Dark enough to mask repairs but on the lighter side to show the striking straight grain definitions.Following the Tripoli compound, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel dedicated to Blue Diamond compound.  With the Dremel remaining at its slowest speed I apply the lesser abrasion of Blue Diamond compound to buff the surface preparing it for the carnauba wax application.  I reunite the squared tapered stem to the stummel and apply Blue Diamond compound to both.  I know this borders on eccentricity, but as I was finishing the Blue Diamond cycle, I notice that the rim patch done earlier was showing a ridge around the patch, and not flush with the rim.  A bit late in the game to notice this, but it won’t do.  Very strategically, I roll a piece of 600 sanding paper and address the ridging.  I follow with the full set of 12 micromesh pads folded and strategically addressing the area.  Finally, I apply a dark brown stain stick and lightly wipe a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to blend the area.  Finally, I run the Blue Diamond wheel over the rim and I’m back to where I started.  The patch is visible, but now without the ridges that draw attention to the repair.  Now, the rim is smooth to the touch.  Much better.  Before and after pictures follow this small detour! With detours behind, I hand buff the stem and stummel with a flannel cloth to remove compound dust from the surface before applying carnauba wax.  I then mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel and increase the speed of the RPMs to 2, a bit faster than the slowest speed, and I apply carnauba wax to both the stummel surface as well as to the mounted stem.  After 3 cycles of applying carnauba wax, I hand buff the pipe with a micromesh cloth to bring out the depth of the grain further.

I appreciate Jon giving me this L. J. Perretti while we were in Oslo.  I’m happy to recommission this very attractive Square Shanked Rhodesian – the grain is exceptional and I like the square shank style of both Peretti’s I’ve restored.  The squared shank, not a common Rhodesian configuration, allows this Rhodesian to function like a ‘table sitter’ as well while one plays their card or board games.  If you are interested in adopting the L. J. Peretti Square Shanked Rhodesian, take a look at my blogsite, The Pipe Steward.  As always, all the profits of the sales from my restorations go to help the Daughters of Bulgaria.  Thanks for joining me!


Restoring an L.J. Perretti Deluxe Prince

I learned from the last Perretti pipe that I worked on and subsequent replies that the Straight Grain was the top of the line of Perretti pipes. I have no idea where in the hierarchy this one sits but it is stamped L.J. PERRETTI over Imported Briar on the left side and DELUXE on the right side of the shank. It has a factory installed band that is stamped Sterling Silver in an arch. This pipe was a bit of a mess. Like some of the others I have had this one was marked with a swatch of paint – this time red paint. In the first photo below you can see it on the left side of the bowl near the shank bowl junction. The finish was rough but underneath was some great grain. Again there were no fills visible in this piece of briar. The bowl was caked and the lava had erupted over the edges of the rim leaving a thick hard cake on the rim of the bowl. The silver was badly tarnished and the stamping on the silver was not readable. The L.J. Perretti stamping on the left side of the shank ends with the “I” stamped on the silver band. The stem was oxidized and also had a buildup of calcification from the button up the stem about ½ inches. The stem was about a ¼ inch out of the shank and could not be pushed in from the buildup on tars in the shank. The first three photos show the state of the pipe when I brought it to the work table.


I wiped down the bowl with acetone on a cotton cloth. I find that the acetone quickly dispenses with paint spots and splashes on the briar. It seems to go beneath the paint and it easily is scrubbed off. It also removes grime and buildup on the finish and removes the remaining stain on the briar. I wiped down the caked rim to soften the hard surface before I moved on to top the bowl. The next four photos show the pipe after I had scrubbed it with acetone.




I set up my sanding board and placed the medium grit emery paper on the board. I rotated the bowl on the sandpaper in a circular motion to remove the grime on the rim. I also had seen that there was some burn damage on the rim that needed to be removed. I place the pipe with the rim firmly against the sandpaper and work it until the rim is clean and the damage is minimized. Photos 1 & 2 show the process of sanding on the emery paper. Once I had finished the rough work I moved on to use a medium grit sanding sponge in the same way. I place the sponge flat on the board and work the bowl in a circular motion on the flat surface of the sponge (Photo 3). I then used a fine grit sanding sponge to do the same (Photo 4). Each progressive sanding grit smoothed the scratches and marks left by the previous grit.



When I had finished topping the bowl I reamed the bowl and cleaned out the shank with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and Everclear. I also polished the silver band with some tarnish remover applied with a cloth and rubbed into the band. I finished by wiping down the pipe again using Everclear on a cotton pad. This removed the sanding dust and also the overrun of the silver polish on the briar. I reinserted the stem to make sure the fit was correct. The next two photos show the pipe at this point in the process.

The next series of six photos show the progressive work on the stem using 1500-12,000 grit micromesh sanding pads. Each degree of grit gave the stem a deeper shine and removed any remaining oxidation. Once I had finished with the micromesh pads I wiped down the stem with Obsidian Oil and then when dry I put the stem on the pipe and buffed it with White Diamond.





I stained the bowl with two different stains – dark brown aniline thinned 2:1 with isopropyl alcohol (Photos 1 – 3 below) and then followed up with an oxblood aniline stain. I flamed the stain, restained, reflamed and then gave the rim a third coat of the brown stain.


The final four photos show the finished pipe. I buffed the entirety a final time with White Diamond and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I finished by buffing it with a clean flannel buff to bring out the shine.