Tag Archives: Lucite stems

Time for an Easy Cleanup – A Pipa 2005 Bent “Blasticated” Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe in the queue came from a pipe that Jeff purchased from a fellow in New York who picks up some nice pipe for us on his “treasure hunting adventures”. This one was a Pipa 2005 Savinelli Made bent billiard. It is stamped on the underside of the heel and shank and reads Pipa 2005 over Savinelli Product followed by Italy. It is a bent billiard shaped pipe with a flat bottom on the heel and part way up the shank. With the stem it is too heavy to be a sitter but it is a beauty. The finish looks sandblasted but upon observation it was rusticated before sandblasting. It is what I call a “blasticated” finish. The rim top was smooth and had a beveled inner rim edge. There was some light tars and oils on the bevel and rim top. The pipe was dusty but the finish looked like it was rich and would clean up well. The stem is striated grey Lucite saddle with a polished brass spacer as an integral part of the stem. There is a Savinelli Shield S on the top of the saddle. The stem has some light tooth marks and chatter on both sides at the button edge. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of the pipe before clean up. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim to show the condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. There was a light coat of lava on the bevel and rim top toward the back side and a thin cake in the bowl. It appeared that the beveled inner edges were in good condition. The outer edges actually appeared to be in excellent condition.He also took a photo of the right and underside of the bowl and shank to show the “blasticated” finish on the bowl and the smooth panel on the underside. The dark and medium brown stain looked really good.Jeff took photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank and the Savinelli Shield S on the stem top. It reads as noted above. The stamping is legible and very readable.The next two photos show the stem surface. They show the light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The stem is otherwise clean. Once again, Jeff did his usual thorough clean up job on the pipe so that  when it arrived here in Vancouver it looked really good. Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl of the pipe. He rinsed it off under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove all of the lava build up on the beveled rim top of the pipe. The rim top looked very good. The grain was beautiful and the pipe looked new. The stem looked very good with its striations of silver and grey with some light tooth marks and chatter. Overall the pipe looked almost new. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work. I took close up photos of the bowl, rim and stem surfaces to capture the condition of the pipe before I started my simple restoration of the pipe. The rim top was clean and the beveled inner edge was in excellent condition. The stem was quite clean with some light tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button. The tenon was Delrin and drilled out for a 6MM or a Savinelli Balsa filter system.I took a close up photo of the stamping on the bottom of the bowl. It read as noted above in the earlier paragraphs. The rim top was in excellent condition so I polished it with 6000-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped it off with a damp cotton pad after each sanding pad.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I worked it into the grooves with a horsehair shoe brush. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The bowl and the rim top look really good and the grain really stood out on the smooth rim. The finish looks very good with the combined dark and medium brown stain on the bowl and rim. I sanded out the tooth marks with 220 grit sandpaper and then started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I was able to remove all of the scratches and tooth marks and chatter from the surface of the stem. I polished the stem and brass spacer with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cloth after each pad. I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Since I had finished both the bowl and stem I put them together and polished the stem lightly with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The smooth rim top and the “blasticated” finish on the bowl really looks good polished and buffed. The rich dark brown was polished off the high points on the briar and works well with polished striated silver and grey Lucite stem. The finish on this pipe gives it a great feeling pipe in the hand and I am sure that it will be an amazing smoker. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. I will be putting this beauty on the rebornpipes store shortly and it can be added to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this Savinelli Made Pipa 2005 Bent Billiard.

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New Life for a Pair of Kaywoodie Bamboo Shank Mandarins


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pair of pipes on the work table is another relatively new acquisition. The Mandarin with the acrylic stem comes from a collection Jeff and I purchased from Michigan. It included a pipe cabinet and 21 pipes that is pictured below. The second one came from a friend of Jeff’s who is always on the lookout for pipe he thinks we might be interested in the New York area. This one has the original stem. I have circled the first Mandarin in the photo below – third pipe from the left on the first shelf of the rack.In the last box Jeff sent me he included both of these pipes. Both have the bamboo shank, both have an apple shaped bowl. Both are stamped Kaywoodie Mandarin on the underside of the bowl. Both had threaded stems and a metal space at the end of the shank. The first pipe from the rack above had a thinner diameter bamboo shank while the second was thicker – both were two knuckle bamboo pieces. The first pipe had a black acrylic replacement stem with a saddle while the second one had the original tapered stem with the Kaywoodie Club in a white circle on the left side of the stem.

Both pipes were quite dirty which seems to be the case when working on pipes that were obviously someone’s favourite.  Jeff took photos of both pipes before his cleanup work. The first pipe from the Michigan collection is shown first. There was a thick cake in the bowl and lava overflowing onto the rim top. The inner and outer edges of the bowl looked very good. The stem had some tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button and some tooth damage to the sharp edge and top of the button. The photos below show the first pipe. The next photo shows a close up of the bowl. You can see the thick cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava on the rim top. He also took photos of the bottom of the bowl to highlight the condition of the pipe. It had some great grain all around the bowl and some nicks. It was a dirty pipe and obviously well smoked. The bamboo shank extension had a nice patina and a crackle like look that had developed as the pipe was smoked.  The next photo shows the stamping on the underside of the shank. It is quite clear and legible.  Jeff also took a photo of the shank and the fit of the replacement stem to the shank end. It is well done and the alignment is very good.The close up photos of the stem show the tooth marks in the surface near the button and the damage to the button itself on both sides. The tooth marks and chatter were repairable and the button could be reshaped.The pipe from the New York purchase is shown second. There was a thin cake in the bowl and very little lava on the rim top. The inner and outer edges of the bowl looked very good. The original Kaywoodie vulcanite stem had some light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button and some light wear on the sharp edge of the top and the bottom of the button. The photos below show the second pipe. The next photo shows a close up of the bowl. You can see the cake in the bowl and the light burn marks on the right side of the inner edge of the rim top.  The second photo below shows the stamping on the underside of the bowl – clear and readable Kaywoodie Mandarin.The Kaywoodie Club logo looks great and the fit of the stem to the metal spacer on the shank end is very good.He took close up photos of the stem top and bottom at the button. You can see the tooth chatter on both sides and the slight wear to the sharp edge of the button. Generally the stem is in very good condition.Jeff reamed both bowls with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out each mortise and the airway in the shanks and the stems with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exteriors of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl of each pipe and bamboo shank. He rinsed them under running water. He dried them off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove most of the lava build up on the rim top of the first pipe and the little bit oon the second one. I took photos of the pipes to show its condition before I started my work on them. The first one is the Mandarin with the acrylic stem. Here are the photos of the second pipe. I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem on each of the pipes. You can see the condition of the rim top and bowl in the first photo of each pipe. Jeff was able to remove almost all of the tar and oils but there was darkening and damage on the inner surface of the rim on the first pipe and the surface and inner edge of the second pipe. The acrylic stem on the first pipe had tooth chatter and some tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem near and on the button surface. The vulcanite stem on the second pipe had some chatter but otherwise was in very good condition. The first set of photos show the first acrylic stem Mandarin. The second set shows the original vulcanite stem Mandarin.

The first pipe.The second pipe.I wanted to confirm a possible date for both of these pipes. I turned to Pipephil to see what he had to say about the brand (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-kaywoodie-2.html). I have included a screen capture of the listing on the site. It appears to have been made between 1958-1967.I turned next to Pipedia to check out the Kaywoodie Collector’s Guide to see if I could get some more information on the Mandarin line. I found an interest monograph there called Notes on Kaywoodies Introduced between 1955 and 1968. It included reference to the Mandarin line. I include that in part below (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Collector%27s_Guide_to_Kaywoodie_Pipes). I have highlighted and underlined the Mandarin in the list below. Both of the pipes I am working on are the smooth versions.

NOTES ON KAYWOODIES INTRODUCED BETWEEN 1955 AND 1968

The material presented in this monograph is extracted from 1936, 1947, 1955, 1968-69, and four undated Kaywoodie catalogs. Based on a comparison of prices in the 1955 and 1968-69 catalogs, the four undated catalogs appear to span the period from the late 1950’s to the late 1960’s (i.e., after 1955 but before 1968). This section presents a brief summary of the Kaywoodie Pipes that appeared in these undated catalogs, but did not appear in either the 1955 or 1968-69 catalogs…

Here is a list of pipes from this time period.

…Hi-Bowl. Tall, tapered bowl in six shapes (see Table 5). Available in smooth or “rough” finish ($10).

Mandarin. Smooth or relief grain finish with burnished-bamboo shank ($10).

Setter. No shank, just a ridged hole for a slender, filter-free, push-bit. Available in “flat bottom” (hence, “Setter”) panel, billiard, and poker shapes. Smooth or textured finish ($10).

Tuckaway. The 1955 catalog shows a Drinkless Tuckaway that was simply a smaller version of other Kaywoodie styles. The Tuckaways of the 1955-1968 period had military mountings, filter-free see-thru bits, and were packaged in a leatherette case. Available in Standard, Relief Grain, and Super Grain grades ($6-$8, depending on grade). Miniatures. Two-inch miniature replicas of “their big brother”, complete with the Drinkless fitment and Synchro Stem. The catalogs show these as individually-cased pipes but multiple pipe sets were apparently available. Price: $5.

Miniatures. Two-inch miniature replicas of “their big brother”, complete with the Drinkless fitment and Synchro Stem. The catalogs show these as individually-cased pipes but multiple pipe sets were apparently available. Price: $5.

Colossal Super Grains. Available in three “oversize” shapes (see Section 3.2) in hand-carved or smooth finishes ($5).

Now I knew that both pipes came from this time period. They were made between 1955-1968. Somewhere along the way the first pipe had been repaired and given an acrylic stem (this was the Michigan pipe). The other pipe from the NY connection had the original stem and threaded tenon though the stinger apparatus had been clipped off.

I started by working on the rim top of both pipes. The first pipe had a more classic apple shaped rim that came to a rounded top curved into the bowl. The second one had a flat rim top that I suppose could have come from a restoration sometime in its life but I could not be sure of that.

To smooth out the damage on the rim of the first pipe I sanded out the burn damage and the nicks with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I sanded the inner edge of the rim and the rounded top to remove the damage.On the second pipe I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give the inner edge of the rim a slight bevel to remove the burn marks and smooth out the rim top and outer edge.I polished the bowls and the rim top on both pipes with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the surface down after each sanding pad with a damp cotton cloth.

The first pipe. The second pipe. With the rim top cleaned, polished and restored on both of the pipes I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I worked it into the bamboo on both pipes as well to enliven it as well. It took some time to really get it into the grooves and valleys of the bamboo but I was able to work it in. I used a shoe brush to make sure it was deep in the grooves. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowls at this point in the restoration process. The bowl and the rim top on both pipes look really good and the darkening and lava are gone. The grooves and patina on the bamboo also look really nice with the new finish. I am very happy with the results. (Hopefully by now you can tell which is which. If not the pipe with the threaded metal tenon sticking out is the one with the acrylic stem from the Michigan collection.)I set aside the bowls at this point and turned my attention to the stems. I started with the acrylic replacement stem from the Michigan collection. I sanded out the tooth marks on the button surfaces on both sides with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I sanded it with a folded piece of 400 grit sandpaper to sand out the scratches. Once I was finished the tooth marks and chatter were gone.As I finished the stem I noticed that the end of the stem had an unfinished slot – merely a round hole that comes standard on replacement stems. It needed to be shaped and a slot cut in the end. I used a series of needle files to cut open the slot and shape it. I still needed to sand the slot but it was starting to look good. I folded a piece of 220 grit sandpaper and sanded the edges of the button to further shape it. The photos tell the story. I moved onto the original Kaywoodie vulcanite stem from the New York find. I sanded out the tooth marks on the button surfaces on both sides with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I sanded it with a folded piece of 400 grit sandpaper to remove the scratches. Once I was finished the tooth marks and chatter were gone.I polished both stems with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped them down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth. I polished them with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish and wiped them down a last time with the damp cloth and some Obsidian Oil and set them aside to dry. This beautiful pair of Kaywoodie Mandarin Smooth Apples really are unique and special pipes. The bamboo shank and the smooth well grained bowls make them quite stunning. I have a pair of these in my own collection and they are great smoking pipes. The patina on the old bamboo is very nice. You have to figure at the earliest these pipes come from the mid to late 50s and early 60s and at the latest they come from 1968. That means that they may be 64 years old at the earliest and then at the latest 51 years old. Either way they are old pipes. They have a lot of life left in them that is for sure and will definitely outlive most of us. I polished the bowls and stems with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowls and stems multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed both pipes with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed them with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipes polished up pretty nicely. The rich grain shining through the medium brown stain came alive with the buffing. The rich contrasting brown colour works well with the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipes are beautiful and feel great in the hand. Have a look at them in the photos below. The dimensions of the first pipe with the replacement Lucite stem are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The dimensions of the second pipe with the original Kaywoodie vulcanite stem are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I will be putting both Mandarin pipes on the rebornpipes online store individually and they can be purchased individually or as a pair. The patina on the bamboo of both pipes is a bonus on these beauties. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this pair of oldtimers.

Restemming a Wimbledon Bulldog


I have this old bulldog in a box to be repaired for quite a while. It is stamped Wimbledon 800 and from research appears to have been made by Briar Craft/Grabow. It needed a new stem as it came to me without one. I had this interesting old butterscotch coloured Lucite stem in my can of stem. It was a diamond shaped saddle stem that I fit to the bowl. I had to turn the tenon to get a fit on the bowl and then had to remove much of the Lucite material on the sides of the diamond shape and thin down the blade and button of the stem. I used my Dremel with a sanding drum to cut away most of the material on the angles and also flatten and thin the stem. I shaped the stem until the angles were correct and then finished the shaping of the stem with sandpaper. I used a medium grit emery cloth to start with as it seems to work really well in removing material and getting rid of the deep scratches and grooves left by the sanding drum. I then used 240 grit sandpaper followed by 400 and 600 wet dry sandpaper with water. I finished by polishing the stem with 1500-600 grit micromesh pads. I had to band the shank as it had a small crack near the top left edge. I fit the stem and then buffed the pipe lightly with White Diamond and then coated the stem with carnauba wax and the bowl with Halcyon II wax. I buffed it to a shine with a flannel buff.ImageImageImage

Lifting Tooth Marks from a Lucite Stem with a Heat Gun


A normal pattern of behaviour for me in my refurbishing work is that once I figure something out that works on one kind of material I want to try it on a variety of similar items. In this case once I had used the heat gun to lift the tooth dents on a vulcanite stem I wanted to experiment with Lucite stems. I had no clue whether it would work or even if Lucite had some kind of memory that would bring the dents back to a smooth surface on the stem. There was only one way to find out since I could find no answers online and that was to give it a try. I figured the worst that could happen if I was careful was that the stem would remain the same – dented or a bit melted and I would have to do a different kind of repair. I had a nice little Stanwell bulldog that was given to that had a Lucite stem that had some tooth dents in the stem – just ahead of the button. There was one dent on top and one underneath.

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The two pictures below show the depth of the marks (Again I ask your forgiveness the poor quality of the photos, several of them are a bit blurry but I think that they give you a good idea of the nature of the problem. The dents look far worse in person than the pictures show). The top photo shows the top of the stem and the second photo the underside. I decided to continue my experiment with lifting the tooth dents with my heat gun on this Lucite stem as it seemed like a good candidate for the trial.

I personally like working with a clean surface when I am doing this kind of work so I scrubbed the tip to clean it of any grime or grit that might be in the dents. I used a soft cloth dampened with Isopropyl alcohol to clean the surface then I buffed it with a quick light touch on a White Diamond wheel.  The pictures below show the stem just before I used the heat gun on it. You will see in the photos that there are small pits close to the button as well as the larger dents on both sides. The crevice between the button and stem body also has some scratches that would need to be sanded out once the tooth dents were dealt with.

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As I explained in the post on the vulcanite stem I once again stood the heat gun on its end pointing upward. I used the wire stand built into the handle to stabilize the gun in this position (see the picture previous post on lifting tooth marks from vulcanite). I wanted to be able to have both hands free to maneuver the stem over the heat so having the gun positioned in this manner allows me to do that. I set the heat gun on low heat as before because I did not know how the heat would affect the Lucite. I have found that high setting can too easily burn the vulcanite so I was assuming the same thing would be true of the Lucite.

I worked the stem over the heat keeping it about 4-6 inches above top of the gun tip as it allows it to thoroughly heat the Lucite. I move the stem constantly back and forth across the heat. I kept the stem on the pipe as before and used the bowl as a handle. In this instance I worked to just keep the first 3/4 inches of the stem from the button forward in the heat. I stopped frequently to check on the progress and see if there was any blistering on the stem. It took a bit longer for the heat to work on the Lucite. I think it must be the density and hardness of the Lucite that makes the difference. With the application of heat the Lucite began to return to its original smoothness. I kept the heat on the stem until all the dents were gone. The reason I believe the process worked was because the dents in the Lucite were not cuts in the surface but actual dents. The application of the heat did the trick.

Once the surface was smooth I took it off the heat and cooled it the same way I did the vulcanite. I did not want the stem to bend accidentally while it was soft so I dipped the tip in some running cool water to set the new surface. I dried off the tip and then sanded the area with 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper (with water on the stem as I sanded) and then moved through the grades of micromesh pads – 1500, 1800, 2400, 3200, 4000 and 6000 grit. By the 3200 grit micromesh pad I found that the Lucite was beginning to have a smooth and glossy finish. The sanding with the final two grades of the pads really polished the stem and gave it the glassy finish that polished Lucite has. I finished by giving it a final polish on the buffer with White Diamond polishing compound and a coat of carnauba wax.

Here are some pictures of the top and the underside of the finished stem.

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