Tag Archives: Medico pipes

Restoring a Sandblast Medico Ventilator Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

A while back I received a small box of pipes from a fellow pipeman who wanted to donate them to support  the non-profit organization I work for – the SA Foundation (www.safoundation.com). The organization has been providing long term recovery, housing and job training for women who have escaped sexual exploitation and trafficking. For over thirty years the work has gone on and thousands of young women and their children have been empowered to start over with skills and options. The work is currently in 7 countries and 12 cities around the world. If you are interested give the website a look.

Now back to the pipes. There were eight total pipes in the lot that he sent me. The first one I restored was a large Irish Second 05 Calabash that is heading off to Michigan. The second pipe was a Peterson’s Kapet pipe in a shape 124 (https://rebornpipes.com/2021/08/16/restoring-a-republic-era-petersons-kapet-124/). The third pipe was a very Danish looking Made in London, England Sandblast Acorn. (https://rebornpipes.com/2021/08/17/restoring-a-very-danish-looking-made-in-london-england-acorn/). The fourth pipe was a Bromma Bent Billiard with a screw on bowl (https://rebornpipes.com/2021/08/18/restoring-what-looks-like-a-swedish-bromma-pipe/). The fifth pipe is a Canadian Made Paradis Pipe (https://rebornpipes.com/2021/08/19/restoring-canadian-made-paradis-rustic-246-bent-dublin/). The sixth pipe was an unsmoked small carved figural meerschaum that is for sale on the rebornpipes store (https://rebornpipes.com/rebornpipes-store/meerschaum-pipes-smooth-figurals/).  All of the pipes were in clean condition and had been lightly reamed.

The next pipe, the seventh one is a bent Medico Ventilator with an aluminum slotted, ventilated shank. The pipe was clean on the inside but dusty on the sandblast finish. The sandblast was very well done and quite rugged. The rim top and edges looked very good. I think that this pipe was not smoked very much. The pipe was stamped on the flat heel of the bowl and read Medico [over] Ventilator [over] Imported Briar. The aluminum shank was dull looking but otherwise in great condition. The short bent saddle stem had a lot of tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button. There was a V logo stamped on the left side of the stem. The aluminum tenon was made to hold the classic Medico paper filter. I took some photos of the pipe before I started my clean up work on it. I took photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem to show the condition of the pipe. The rim top was dusty and worn looking but it was otherwise clean. The bowl was slightly misshapen like I have seen before on these Ventilator pipe. It is not quite round with the thicker edges on the front of the bowl and narrower on the sides and rear of the bowl. The stem had a lot of tooth chatter and some deep tooth marks on both the top and bottom. I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the heel of the bowl. It was clear and readable as noted above. I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe. The great sandblast and the unique design of the Ventilator is visible in the photo. I turned to Pipephil’s site for a quick summary (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-medico.html). I have included a screen capture of the information on the site.I also quote the information from the side bar of the entry on pipephil:

This model cannot be smoked without the use of the rolled paper filters.Others metal pipes logos & markings in these pages: Alco, Bryson, Duncan, Falcon, Kaywoodie (Filter Pipe , Filter plus, Filtronic), Ornsby

I turned to Pipedia for more info (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Medico). There was a brief writeup on the history of the brand and the paper filtration system but nothing specific on the Ventilator pipes.

Now it was time to work on the pipe. I started my work on the pipe by scrubbing the bowl and shank exterior with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap. I scrubbed the sandblast and the aluminum with a tooth brush and the soap and rinsed it off with running water. I dried it off with a cotton towel. I touched up the stain on the rim top with a Walnut Stain Pen. It matched the rest of the bowl colour perfectly.I cleaned the mortise/and aluminum shank along with the airway in both the shank and the stem with 99% isopropyl alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the interior of the pipe was very clean.I rubbed the bowl and the briar portion of shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for ten minutes then buffed the bowl with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I polished the aluminum ventilated shank with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a clean paper towel after each sanding pad. The aluminum took on a rich shine with the polishing.I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. There was a plastic/hard clear rubber insert that fit in the aluminum ventilated shank to hold the stem tightly in place. When I removed the stem the insert came out as well and was stuck on the aluminum tenon of the stem. I carefully used a pair of vise grips to hold the rubber insert and slowly turned the stem until I was able to remove it. Once the aluminum shank was cleaned I would glue it in place in the shank so that it would stay in place there. I coated the outside of the hard rubber/acrylic ring with white all-purpose glue and pushed it into place in the aluminum ventilator shank. I removed the stem and set the bowl and shank aside for the glue to cure.I “painted” the tooth marks and chatter on the stem surface with the flame of a lighter to try and raise the dents. The stem is a typical Medico stem which seems to be a mix of vulcanite and plastic or nylon so the flame did very little. I filled the tooth chatter and marks in with clear CA glue and set it aside to cure. Once it cured I used a small file to flatten out the repairs and reshape the button edge. I used 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repairs on both sides of the stem. I started to polish it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. The stem is looking much better. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. I gave it a final rubdown with Obsidian Oil and set it aside to cure. I fitted the stem and shank with a Medico paper filter. It fit in the tenon and in the aluminum shank. All air flow from the bowl came through the filter and the cool air came in through the aluminum ventilator shank. The theory is it provided a cool smoke – mind you soggy but cool!I put the parts back together. This Medico Ventilator Imported Briar Bent Billiard is a great looking pipe with a great sandblast on the bowl. The rich, dark brown stained  sandblast bowl and the ventilated polished aluminum shank look surprisingly nice. The combination works well with the polished saddle stem. I carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Medico Ventilator Bent Billiard is light and sits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 44 grams/1.52 ounces. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly in the American (US) Pipemakers Section. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Converting a Damaged Metal Filter Tenon to a Delrin Push Tenon on a Medico Conqueror


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is the second one that came to me from a reader of the blog in Eastern Canada. This is the pipe that he originally contacted me about repairing. It was his first pipe and it had been well loved and well smoked. Over time the metal Medico tenon had become misshapen and had damaged the inside of the mortise. This Medico shape is one I have not seen before and I am unfamiliar with the Conqueror line. The grain is quite nice. The finish has some worn spots on the sides and bottom of the bowl. The varnish is worn off in several spots and on the beveled edges of the rim. The bowl had a light cake lining the walls and the rim top had some lava on the top and wear on the edges. The stem was very loose in the shank and literally wobbled when in place. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Medico [over] Conqueror [over] Select Briar. The stamping is clear and readable on the pipe. The stem looked good and there was a Softee Bit on the stem end. Under the Softee Bit there were light tooth marks and chatter on the stem near the button on both sides and some on the surface of the button as well. I took photos of the pipe before I worked on it.  I took photos of the rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava on the rim top. It appears that there may be some damage on the inner edge of the bowl. There was some wear on the sides of the bowl that would need to be worked on. The stem was in relatively good condition with light tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button underneath the Softee Bit. I am not sure what the stem is made of as it does not appear to be vulcanite.The stamping on the left side of the shank read as noted above. The photo shows that it is quite readable. I took a photo of the pipe with the stem removed to show the overall look of stem, tenon and profile of the pipe. It is a great looking pipe. I turned first to Pipephil’s site as it is always a quick source of information on this line of the Medico Brand (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-medico.html). I looked for the Medico Conqueror Select Briar pipe. The line was listed on Pipephil and I have included a screen capture of the section.I then turned to Pipedia to do a bit more digging on the history of the brand and to see if there was any information on the line (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Medico). I quote in part below:

Medico was created in 1933, and is still produced by S.M. Frank. The brand is famous for its pipe filters, which were launched in the same year. Since 1966, some models have been made in Brylon, a synthetic material, and others in briar. The brand was also sold by the English company Cadogan and Oppenheimer Pipe

When you trace the Medico tobacco pipes history, you have to trace it back to the origins of the company that created it. The company that originated the Medico brand is the S.M. Frank & Co. This company dates back to the year 1900. In that year, a man named Sam Frank began selling pipes and related tobacco products. Eventually, the company began making its own line of pipes. With the help of an experienced pipe manufacturer, Ferdinand Feuerbach, the company produced the popular Royal DeMuth and Hesson Guard Milano tobacco pipes. The company continued to grow well into the early part of the 1930s.

By the early 1930s, there were some concerns about the tars and nicotine found in tobacco smoke. In order to mellow out the flavor of hot tobacco smoke as well as to capture the tars and nicotine, the S.M. Frank & Co. introduced the Medico pipe filter. This is an absorbent paper filter that many people still use to this day. In order to accommodate the new filter, the company developed an accompanying brand of pipes known as Medico. That line of pipes continues in production today.

The company ended up buying some of their main competition in 1955. That year the Kaywoodie brands came under the S.M. Frank Company. The Medico brand continued production through this transition without many changes. The next big change for the brand came in the late 1960s. In 1966, the company developed a synthetic material that combined the traditional briar wood with resins. It is known as Brylon. At that time, all Medico pipes were made from imported briar wood. In order to keep production costs down, the company began offering some lines with Brylon. Today, that is still true.

Today, the Medico brand of pipes is still a top selling one for the S.M Frank & Co. This line of pipes comes in thirteen different finishes with five made of briar wood and the rest from Brylon. All come with the push bit with a filter inside. The filter is easily changed out when the smoker desires. In the briar wood finishes, this line includes the Silver Crest, Premier, Bold Rebel, Kensington, and Windsor. In the Brylon, the line includes the Lancer, Apollo, Standard, Varsity, Conqueror, Medalist, Cavalier, and V.F.Q. As far as price, the briar wood pipes tend to be higher in cost that the Brylon ones.

Now it was time to work on the pipe. I was excited to remove the chipped and nicked varnish coat on the bowl and see what was underneath the overly shiny varnish coat. Sometimes this is a good thing and sometime a bit of a surprise in the unveiling of fills. I lightly sanded the bowl with a 1500 grit micromesh pad to break up the varnish topcoat. Once I had done that I wiped the bowl down with acetone and was able to remove the entire coat. The finish looked pretty good – spotty and a few small fills but overall it was going to clean up very well.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads to remove the remaining varnish and shiny coat on the bowl. I wet sanded it with 1500-12000 grit micromesh pads and wiped it down with a damp cloth after each pad. The grain really began to show. This was going to be a beautiful looking pipe.  I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 10 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The grain came alive with the balm.  I am loving the look of this bowl, the grain, the shape everything looks better to me. It certainly appears to be an upgrade in the finish quality. At this point I caught myself as I looked at the bowl. I had been so intent on removing the finish and cleaning the exterior of the bowl that I had forgotten to deal with the internals. I am glad I remembered. So a little out of the normal pattern but I reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and then sanded the inside of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel.  Then I went back and cleaned the shank out with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. There was some thick tars on the walls on the walls of the shank. I scraped it with a pen knife before cleaning it with alcohol. The walls of the shank were quite damaged from the damaged metal tenon and were roughened and uneven.With the bowl cleaned and finished all that remained was to convert the ruined metal tenon on the pipe to a Delrin push tenon. That would also take care of the unevenness and roughness of the mortise. I cut off the tenon at the metal base plate with a hacksaw.   Once I had cut off the tenon and flattened the sharp edges I cleaned out the airway in the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners.The airway into the stem was already ¼ inch so it did not take much to open it a little further. I set up my cordless drill and drilled the stem end open enough to take the new threaded Delrin tenon that I had chosen for the pipe.Before I glued the new tenon in the shank I have learned that it is important to turn it down enough to properly fit in the shank. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to reduce the diameter of the new tenon to match the mortise dimensions. Once I had a snug fit I glue the new tenon in place in the stem using black super glue. Its drying time gives me a bit more wiggle room to adjust the fit to the shank and align things before the glue sets. With that done I waited for the glue to set. I took some photos of the new tenon to show the progress at this point. Still a lot of work to do but you can see the direction I am heading.    The diameter of the new tenon was perfect but it was longer than the depth of the mortise. I decided to shorten the tenon length to match the depth of the mortise. I measured the depth of the mortise and then sanded the tenon length to that depth. I polished the tenon end with a soft cloth to knock off any rough edges and took the following photos of the new stem.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter and marks near the button. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.   I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.    This Refinished and “Re-tenoned” Medico Conqueror Apple turned out to be a great looking pipe. The clean finish – sans varnish allow the grain to pop out around the bowl sides and shank and gives the pipe a more elegant look in my opinion. The finish on the pipe is now in excellent condition and the contrasting stains work well to give some contrast to the polished black fancy taper stem. The pipe is really quite eye-catching. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel, carefully avoiding the stamping on the shank. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Medico Conqueror Apple is quite nice and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that like the other pipes I am working that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another interesting pipe. Now that this pipe is finished I can put it and the Birkdale back in the box and send them back to the fellow in Eastern Canada. I am looking forward to hearing what he thinks of the reworking of his first pipe! Thanks for your time.

 

Breathing Life into a Medico Crest Artisan Freehand from Bob Kerr’s Estate


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I have chosen from Bob Kerr’s Estate is a Medico Artisan Freehand. (Bob’s photo is to the left). If you have not “met” the man and would like to read a bit of the history of the pipeman, his daughter has written a great tribute that is worth a read. Because I have included it in most of the restorations of the estate to date I thought that I would leave it out this time. Check out some of the recent Dunhill restoration blogs that include the biographical notes about Bob (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/01/restoring-the-last-of-bob-kerrs-dunhills-a-1962-dunhill-bruyere-656-f-t-bent-billiard/).

The Medico Artisan Freehand has a smooth finish and a smooth rim top. It has carved indentations around the bowl sides. It was stamped on the underside of the heel. It read Medico Crest Artisan Imported Briar. The finish was dirty with dust and grime ground into the bowl sides. There was a thick cake in the bowl and lava overflow on the rim top. The vulcanite stem was oxidized and had tooth marks and chatter near the button on both sides. It appears that the tenon is drilled to accommodate a Medico paper filter. Jeff took photos of the pipe to show its general condition before he did his cleanup. The exterior of the pipe was very dirty – grime and grit ground in from years of use and sitting. The rim top was covered with a coat of thick lava that overflowed the bowl. There was also some darkening on the rim top and inner edge of the bowl. The bowl itself had a thick cake with flecks of tobacco stuck in the cake on the sides.     Jeff took photos of the sides and the heel of the bowl to give a better feel for the condition of the briar around the bowl.     The next photo show the stamping on the underside of the shank and it is very readable. It reads as noted above. The second photo shows the stamped Medico M shield logo on the top of the stem.The stem was dirty and oxidized with light tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside of the stem at the button. This one at least did not have the chew marks that were a norm on Bob’s pipes.   Before doing cleanup work on the pipe I decided to do some research on the pipe. I have worked on and smoked Medico pipes in the past but I have never worked on a Medico Crest Artisan in the past. I decided to look on the normal sites to see what I could find out about this line. I looked first on the Pipephil website and found some information on the Medico Crest line with a similar logo as this pipe but nothing on the Crest Artisan line. I did a screen capture of the pertinent information on the logo itself (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-medico.html). The crest is similar but it has an M in the center and seems to have been gold. I turned to Pipedia to see what further information was available on that site and if there was anything specifically on the Artisan line (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Medico). I quote:

Medico was created in 1933, and is still produced by S.M. Frank. The brand is famous for its pipe filters, which were launched in the same year. Since 1966, some models have been made in Brylon, a synthetic material, and others in briar. The brand was also sold by the English

Symbol: M inside a shield, although early pipes, like the example bellow, had a + sign, like a Medic would have on their sleeve.

The article included photos of A Medico Crest Artisan, made in Italy, courtesy Doug Valitchka. The carving around the bowl is identical. This one is stamped ITALY while the one I am working on is not stamped with that identification.With over 125 pipes to clean from Bob’s estate I took a batch of them to the states with me when I visited and left them with Jeff so he could help me out. Jeff cleaned the pipes with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. Once he finished he shipped them back to me. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff scrubbed it with Soft Scrub and soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked a lot better. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. I wanted to show what cleaned bowl and rim top looked like. The rim top shows some damage on the inner edge of the bowl. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the light tooth marks and the remaining oxidation on the stem surface.       I took photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank and it is clear and readable. It is stamped as noted above.  I removed the stem for the shank and took a photo of the bowl and stem to give a picture of what it looked like. The remaining oxidation is very visible.Now, on to my part of the restoration of this Medico Crest Artisan Freehand. I decided to clean up the damaged rim top and inner edge of the bowl. I gently topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I cleaned up the inside of the bowl edges with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. Once I was finished the rim top looked a lot better. I polished the top of the bowl and the entirety of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the briar down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I restained the rim top with a blend of Cherry, Maple and Oak Stain Pens to blend it into the colour of the rest of the briar. Once it had dried I would polish it and give it several coats of Before & After Restoration Balm.I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine. I used some Antique Gold Rub’n Buff to recolour the logo on the stem top. I rubbed it into the logo with a pipe cleaner and buffed it off with a soft towel. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth dents in the top and underside of the stem at the button. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. There was still some oxidation around the logo and on the stem surface. I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.  I left a little oxidation around the stamp so as not to damage it more.    This Medico Crest Artisan Freehand pipe from Bob Kerr’s estate turned out to be a great looking pipe. The mixed stain brown finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and works well with the polished vulcanite saddle stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Medico Crest Artisan Freehand fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in carrying on Bob’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. I have more to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

Another Legacy Pipe of a Great-Grandfather: Challenges Working with ‘Brylon’ on a Medico Apollo


Blog by Dal Stanton

It gave me a great sense of satisfaction when I received Joe’s response to reading and seeing the results of restoring the first of Paw’s pipes entrusted to me.   Joe and his wife, Hannah, who live in Athens, Greece, and are colleagues working in our organization, last year sent me a Kaywoodie “500” that I restored (See Link: Reclaiming Paw’s Kaywoodie “500” 04 Long Stem Billiard – A Great-Grandfather’s Legacy) as a gift for Hannah’s father, Ben, ‘Paw’s’ grandson.  The Kaywoodie was a special gift for Ben’s birthday.  Later, Joe wrote this letter:

Hello Dal,

My in-laws came to Athens to visit Hannah and I last month. I gave Ben the pipe. I showed him everything you wrote and documented about it. He absolutely LOVED how the pipe looked, and he was also deeply touched by the love, care, and respect you showed not just the pipe but his family. 

So many things you said in your blog triggered sentimental images for Ben about his grandfather, Sam Ellison. You called Sam (AKA Paw) a “knocker” and explained that based on some of the inner rim damage, that was from when Sam would knock out residual tobacco from the bowl, and Ben immediately could remember and visualize Sam doing that. 

During Ben’s last few days in Athens, he lived in blissful nostalgia, thinking of Paw and sweet memories along with him. When Ben went back to Georgia, he went through the storage unit and found stacks of old pictures and articles. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find a picture of him smoking the pipe, but there are some pictures (that I will attach below) of Paw with some of his tobacco co-workers at Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp, along with an article in the Brown & Williamson newsletter, “The Pipeline” about him called ‘Two page Sam’. 

Two pictures Joe included were of Ben, his father-in-law fellowshipping with Paw’s newly restored Kaywoodie “500” and reminiscing about his grandfather.  What I understood from Joe, was that Paw essentially was the one who raised Ben.  The other picture was Paw and Ben 45 years earlier….  This is why I love what I call my work, The Pipe Steward – pipes are passed on, but also the special memories those pipes uniquely bring with them are also passed on to the following generations.

What was also of great interest to me in Joe’s letter, not only was Paw a pipe man, but he was also a tobacco man –  not just a tobacco man, but a tobacco SALES man for the Brown & Williamson Tobacco, Corp. and sent clips of an article of this tobacco company’s magazine about Paw, or as the rest of the world new him, ‘Two-Page Sam’!  When doing a restoration (and I will get to that!) it doesn’t get better than this regarding the story a pipe tells.  Doing a little research, I find out that B&W would be considered a ‘Big Tobacco’ company and Wikipedia described the beginnings in the latter 1800s:

B&W was founded in Winston (today’s Winston-Salem), North Carolina, as a partnership of George T. Brown and his brother-in-law Robert Lynn Williamson, whose father was already operating two chewing tobacco manufacturing facilities.[3] Initially, the new partnership took over one of the elder Williamson’s factories.[4] In February 1894, the new company, calling itself Brown & Williamson, hired 30 workers and began manufacturing in a leased facility.

In 1927, the Brown and Williamson families sold the business to London-based British American Tobacco. The business was reorganized as the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation. Manufacturing and distribution were expanded, and work on a new B&W factory in Louisville was begun.

The Wiki article jumps a century from this earlier history to the 1990s which was a time rife with controversy regarding infamous ‘Big Tobacco’, congressional hearings, cover-ups and 60-Minutes TV pop-journalistic investigations – all low-hanging ripe story lines for a John Grisham novel and movie contracts!  As tantalizing as this later storyline was, I was drawn more to the story of ‘Two-Page Sam’, the article written about Paw’s life and relationships through the years that the Wiki article jumped over.  I include this story from the December 1984 article that Joe sent from B&W’s company magazine, ‘PIPELINE’.  The piece was subbed: “’Two-Page Sam’ – An 81-year old retiree, with a memory like a steel trap, about his 43-year career with B&W”. I enjoyed the read immensely as it not only tells of the life of Paw – aka, Two-Page Sam, but its portrayal of period perspectives revealing much about life and relationships when Sam started work for B&W in 1923 and later.  Enjoy! After the test run with Paw’s first pipe, Joe entrusted me with three more pipes to restore – two more Kaywoodies and a Medico.  Paw’s choice of pipes tells much about him!  One of the Kaywoodies is another of the “500” series, but this time, in addition to the long-shank Billiard from last time, a “500” Rhodesian is added.  Paw liked the “500”s – they are smaller pipes easier for hands-free fellowship (and chewed bits!) and work, as Sam went from vendor to vendor in his job selling tobaccos.  The other Kaywoodie is a Kaywoodie Natural Burl 33 – the finish is great!  Here is the lineup of Sam’s pipes that Joe sent:Along with the other Kaywoodie “500” its obvious that Sam stayed with American made pipes – pipes that would be considered ‘working men’s pipes’.  They are not high shelf purchases but would be found on many of the shelves of the tobacconists and ‘mom & pop’ stores he served through the years.  Affordable pipes that would be the kind a person who had known life through the Great Depression and Great Wars – as a child then as an adult – often called, the Great Generation.  With a deepening understanding of the man who was a steward of these pipes, I’m appreciative of the trust that Joe (and Hannah!) has placed in me to restore them as treasured family heirlooms.  What’s even better is that these restorations benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.

After looking over the pipes, I decided to start with the Medico Apollo Brylon – the most challenging.  With the Medico now on the worktable I take some pictures to get a closer look. The nomenclature found on left shank flank reads MEDICO [over] Apollo [over] Brylon (with circled ‘R’ for registered trademark).  The stem has a fancy, lopsided (or worn away) ‘A’ for Apollo pressed into the right side.During my communications with Joe about the conditions of the pipes he intended to send to me, I was assuming that this Medico was a briar that had dulled.  It wasn’t until I received the pipe and started to research the Apollo ‘Brylon’ line of Medico that I discovered the stummel was not made of briar but ‘Brylon’.  Pipephil.eu confirmed another Medico Apollo Brylon and the stem stamping but with no further information about the ‘line’ Brylon.Pipedia’s short introduction to the article about Medico provides this:

Medico was created in 1933, and is still produced by S.M. Frank. The brand is famous for its pipe filters, which were launched in the same year. Since 1966, some models have been made in Brylon, a synthetic material, and others in briar. The brand was also sold by the English company Cadogan and Oppenheimer Pipe.

I discovered very quickly that Brylon was not a line and that the Medico Apollo on the worktable was not briar!  In 1966, an innovation was introduced by S.M. Frank of fashioning bowls from a synthetic material.  At this point I’m thinking about Paw’s Apollo, whether I could repair it with the same procedures as with briars?  Rim?  Cracked shank? Blending repairs?  The same Pipedia article continued later with this additional interesting information about Brylon:

The company ended up buying some of their main competition in 1955. That year the Kaywoodie brands came under the S.M. Frank Company. The Medico brand continued production through this transition without many changes. The next big change for the brand came in the late 1960s. In 1966, the company developed a synthetic material that combined the traditional briar wood with resins. It is known as Brylon. At that time, all Medico pipes were made from imported briar wood. In order to keep production costs down, the company began offering some lines with Brylon. Today, that is still true…. In the Brylon, the line includes the Lancer, Apollo, Standard, Varsity, Conqueror, Medalist, Cavalier, and V.F.Q. As far as price, the briar wood pipes tend to be higher in cost than the Brylon ones. Courtesy TobaccoPipes.com

In another Pipedia discussion of various material and construction methods used in pipe production lines generally, Brylon is identified as a “High Temperature Resin with Wood Flour”:

In 1966, S.M. Frank developed a material called “Brylon” made of a high temperature resin combined with “wood flour”, which is pulverized wood of varying consistency. The pipes were cheaper and more durable, but heavier in the mouth and had a tendency to smoke hot and wet. They are still made today and favored by some for their inability to be burnt out or otherwise damaged without significant effort and the ease of cleaning the pipe. For more information see S.M. Frank.

Well, the unique characteristics of Brylon are becoming more evident.  They are less expensive, have differing smoking behaviors compared to their briar brethren and purportedly to be less susceptible to burning and damage compared to their briar brethren, BUT, (I love the qualifier!) “without significant effort”.  I guess Paw’s proclivities were with significant efforts by the looks of his Apollo!  Wow!  I wonder if Sam took the durability billing of S.M. Frank as a challenge 😊?

The question now is whether the issues of this Medico Apollo are addressed differently than my normal briar restoration protocols?  The significant issues start with the rim damage.  With the restoration of the first of Paw’s Kaywoodies, he seems to have been a habitual bowl ‘knocker’ with consistent damage to the aft quadrant of the rim.  Using the stem as a handle, Paw seems to have inverted the pipe and thumped the bowl on something hard enough to dislodge the ash and dottle – probably on his way hurriedly to the car after visiting a client, having secured his sale of B&W product line working toward ‘2-Page’ success, and speedily transitioning his mind and body to the next visit! I take a few pictures to show the aft rim damage.The shank also has a huge crack starting on the top of the shank running to the bowl crook.  When I communicated with Joe before receiving the pipe, he commented about the stem’s metal filter housing being out of round.  When I received the pipe, the stem and stummel were joined.  When I gingerly extracted the stem from the mortise, I could see how the nickel had been bent.  When I tried to rejoin the stem and stummel, the fit was so tight that I decided to leave things like they were.  I began to question whether the stem was the original for this stummel and forcing it had caused the cracked shank?  Yet, the stem does have the Apollo ‘A’ stamping – probably, just bent so much that the mortise no longer can accommodate it.The stem’s condition I believe is confirmation that ‘2-Page Sam’ often had the Apollo in a hands-free mode with it clenched between his teeth while he filled out his orders!  The chewing of the bit is evident with severe chatter and bite compression.  The oxidation appears to be minor.There also is a pit and dent mid-way on the stem’s underside which will need addressing.To begin the restoration of Paw’s Medico Apollo, I work on cleaning the internal airway with pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95%.  While cleaning, I discover that the pipe cleaners are obstructed at the bit-end of the stem.  I also use a shank brush to push through.  The shank brush does push through but what becomes evident is that the chewing of the bit appears have closed the airway to such a point, the pipe cleaners are hindered from functioning.  This is a problem for keeping the airway fully cleaned.  I’ll need to address this issue as well.  When the airway is as clean as I’m able to get it, the stem is added to a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer along with other pipes in The Pipe Steward queue, along with Paw’s other 2 Kaywoodies.After a few hours, the Apollo stem is removed from the Deoxidizer and I squeegee the liquid off with my fingers then wipe the stem with cotton pads wetted with alcohol to remove the resulting raised oxidation.Following this, paraffin oil is applied to the stem to condition the vulcanite and I put the stem aside for the oil to be absorbed.Turning my attention now to the Brylon stummel, the questions I asked earlier about how to proceed with the repairs have been clarified in my mind.  It was helpful to find a blog on Dad’sPipes, What the Heck is Brylon?? – A Yello Bole Standard Panel Billiard, where Charles Lemon had previously had the same questions regarding working on Brylon!  Charles’ blog mainly was focused on cleaning and polishing issues and not with actual repairs to the Brylon – the rim and shank in this case.  My note to Charles describes my proposed working approach with Brylon:

Charles, hope you and your family are well and staying clear of harm’s way during these difficult times. I read one of your blogs where you worked on Brylon. I’m working on a Medico Apollo Brylon that needs extensive rim work. I’ve attached a picture to give you an idea of the dark brown color. Of course, I’m thinking of briar dust and CA glue to do the patchwork. However, it will probably be lighter than the hue of this brown. Do you think adding a wee bit of dark brown aniline dye would work?  Do you have any best practices, beyond the blog I read 😊.  The default if patching doesn’t work is to top the stummel but that reduces the height.

Charles’ email reply came quickly: Hi Dal. Good to hear from you! I hope all is well with you and yours. I have not attempted to fill Brylon. To be honest I have avoided the stuff as there is limited resale value in it. I think you are right – briar dust will show paler against the brylon. Mixing in some dye may do the trick. If not, you can always top the bowl afterwards. Good luck with it. I’ll be interested to see the results!

Charles

Charles’ response was what I was hoping to hear regarding using a mixture of CA glue and briar dust, which is the main component of Brylon though briar is not specified as the wood component.  The issue is the coloring.  Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye, which is an aniline dye, I think might be a very close match, but I’ve never introduced dye to a CA glue before – what will it do?  The worst-case scenario is that the patch doesn’t work and I top the bowl, turning it into a Pot shape.  I’m thinking to first introduce just a small amount of the dark brown dye – a drop, to a puddle of CA glue and mix it thoroughly and see how the CA/dye mixture behaves.  Then, as with briar repairs, if the glue/dye mixture looks good, I’ll introduce briar dust and see what happens!  With this next day of quarantine in Bulgaria being beautiful, I work outside on my 10th floor Man Cave balcony.

The first two pictures are marking the start – looking at the inside of the rim and then the outside.After preparing my plastic mixing palette by covering it with some scotch tape to help in the cleaning later, I place a small mound of briar dust on the palette and next to it, a small puddle of BSI Extra Thick CA glue.Using an eye dropper, I place one drop of Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye in the middle of the CA puddle and it immediately expands through the puddle. Not able to take any additional intermediate pictures to chronicle the mixing – the clock starts ticking when the briar dust is introduced to the CA glue.  I used a toothpick to gradually pull briar dust into the CA/dye, mixing as I go. I noticed that the CA mixture thickened more rapidly than normal with the dye alone, but it didn’t solidify which was what I was concerned about.  When the mixing came to a point where the resulting putty was about the consistency of molasses, I troweled the putty to the rim to fully cover the damaged area. This picture shows the progress at this point and a bit of wind-blown briar dust on the Man Cave!I use an accelerator to hold the patch material to the rim – it did want to move a bit.  Examining the patch in the sunlight, I’m VERY pleased with the color.  It appears to be very, very close to the Brylon at this point in the process. With the same approach now as with briars, I start with the outer rim and file the patch mound down to near-flush with the Brylon surface. Before moving to the inside and top of the patch, I use 240 grade sanding paper on the external rim patch.  I’m anxious to see what it does.  As I sand, pockets do appear in the patch area in this rough state.Switching to the internal rim patch area, I mount a sanding drum to the Dremel and bring the patch down to flush.Carefully, I use the drum on the top as well. I do not want to be too aggressive by sanding below the plane of the rim with the more powerful mode of sanding. Following the sanding drum, continuing with 240 paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen, the chamber is sanded to help blend the patch area and to clean the chamber.  Then 240 sanding paper is redeployed to fine tune the rim contours and to smooth the patch.  The color match is looking good but at this rough state, the patch area on the rim reveals the air pockets which I’ll work on masking in the later stages. Having reached this point in the repair on the rim, before doing more sanding to improve the rough patch area, I address the shank crack.  The question rolling around in my mind regarding Brylon is whether I should drill a counter-crack creep hole at the end of the crack?  The crack ends at the shank/bowl merger.  The two pictures show the crack and a closeup of the end of the crack.  Working on the Man Cave balcony, the best angle of sunlight to see the crack was in the flower box hanging over the edge of the balcony with signs of early spring sprouting in Bulgaria!Marking the end of the crack with an arrow, the crack has turned the vertical corner and is on the bowl side – just slightly.  Since this is the first time working on Brylon and I haven’t found others who have complied a list of ‘best practices’ working with Brylon, I decide to drill the hole to be on the safe side.  Earlier, I had decided not to reinsert the stem because it seemed that it was too tight and may have caused the crack.  I’m thinking that the best way to address the crack is first, to drill the counter-creep hole. Following this, carefully reinsert the tight stem and allow the nickel filter housing to expand the crack allowing thinner, regular CA glue to seep into the cavity assuring a stronger bond.  I’ll then remove the stem, closing the crack and hopefully removing the threat of the crack advancing.  I’ll be thinking about whether to use a band to protect the shank for future use.To prepare to drill, I use a sharp dental probe to create a guide hole for the drilling.  It took the use of a magnifying glass to identify the end of the crack.  Unfortunately, there was a bit of collateral damage, but nothing serious.  When I applied pressure to the dental probe to imprint the indentation for a guide, I discover the Brylon to be much harder than briar and with the additional pressure that was needed, the probe skidded off to scratch the stummel.  Ugh! – it will sand out later.Next, after mounting a 1mm drill bit onto the Dremel, I carefully drill a hole using the guide hole – a great help in keeping the hand-held drill bit from dancing around!  I’ve gotten better at drilling these holes freehand with the handheld Dremel extension – my main work tool.With the hole drilled, with fear and trembling I coax the filter housing into the mortise and as expected, the terribly tight fit helps expand the crack for a more effective application of CA glue.  I must be honest; I was bracing myself for the stummel to split, but thankfully it didn’t!  I will address the fit later after the shank is repaired and stabilized.With the crack expanded, a line of regular CA glue is run starting from the hole down the shank to the shank facing. After laying down the glue, the stem is extracted, and the crack again compresses with CA glue in the cavity.For some cosmetic help and to keep the glue in place, I sprinkled the glue line with briar dust. I put the stummel aside to allow the glue to cure.With the Brylon bowl on the sidelines, I turn my attention to the stem.  The first step will be to repair the chewed bit – Two-Page Sam’s trademark!  I take fresh starting pictures of the upper and lower bit to show the carnage.  After each of these, is the comparison picture after using the heating method to minimize the damage.  Using a Bic lighter the bit is painted with the flame heating the rubber and helping it to expand to regain some of its original disposition.  I think the heating definitely improved the minor chatter so that for the upper bit, sanding should be all that is needed with some filing to freshen the button. For the lower bit, again, chatter was minimized but patching will still be required for the compressions.Medium-Thick Black CA glue is used to do the fills.  After filling the deep compressions, I set the stem aside to allow the CA glue to cure.After the fills have cured, a flat needle file is used to file down the patch mounds and to shape and refresh the button.The upper bit also is the recipient of the filing to file out the more severe chatter and shape the button.After the filing, 240 grade paper is used to further smooth the upper and lower bit.  The repairs on the lower side are looking good. About mid-way on the lower side of the stem there is a dent and a divot.  I expand the 240 paper sanding to the entire stem to address these issues and to remove any oxidation hanging on.  I’m careful to guard the Apollo ‘A’ stamping from the sanding. Before going further with the fine sanding, I remembered that earlier that it was very difficult to clean the stem’s airway because the bit area was too compressed from Paw’s chewing the bit.  To address this, I start a new pipe cleaner down the airway while warming the bit with the hot air gun.  I warm it on the upper bit avoiding the fills that are on the lower bit.  I do this to avoid dislodging the fills which will not expand the same as the rubber.It works like a charm.  As the vulcanite warmed it becomes supple and I move the pipe cleaner gradually through the airway as the compressed area relaxes.  When the pipe cleaner is moving freely and normally, with the pipe cleaner remaining in the airway, I run the stem under cool tap water setting the expansion in the vulcanite airway.Next, the entire stem is wet sanded using 600 grade sanding paper followed by applying 000 grade steel wool as I normally do with briars. The nickel stem facing and filter housing also receive attention from the steel wool and clean up very nicely.Putting the stem aside, I focus on the shank repair.  The glue has cured, and I use 240 grade paper to clean away the excess patch material from the surface of the shank.  The half-rounded needle file helps to remove the thicker patch buildup at the crook of the shank and bowl.Charles Lemon’s blog on ‘Dad’s Pipes’ was helpful to know what to expect working on the sanding and polishing of Brylon – or, what NOT to expect.  He found that Brylon does not polish up like briar but remains somewhat speckled and a dulled finish.  With my repairs on the Brylon being more intrusive than Charles’ experience, my concern is for the overall blending of the surface.  Will the area of Brylon that has received more focused 240 sanding appear differently from the other areas in the end?  To avoid this, I decide to encourage overall blending beginning with wet sanding the entire bowl, including the patch, with 600 grade paper.  This is followed with applying 000 steel wool.  The following pictures show the result – a darkening of the Brylon finish and with the uniform blending that was my hope.  This result encourages me to continue the fine sanding on the Brylon surface but also to continue blending the patches.Before moving forward with sanding and polishing of either the stem or stummel, one more technical challenge has yet to be remedied: the fit of the stem into the mortise.  With the shank crack glued, the last thing I want to do is to crack it again!  The picture shows the irregular shaping of the nickel housing.  The starting place is to ‘re-round’ the housing.  I use needle-nose pliers to do this.  First, I heat the nickel with the hot air gun to encourage movement in the metal without splitting it.  After heated, with the closed needle-nose pliers inserted into the nickel housing, I slowly turn the stem and apply gentle pressure to coax the nickel into a more rounded orientation.  Patience is key! Not perfect, but much better.  I don’t want to put too much stress on the nickel, so I decide to stop.No surprise – I try a half-hearted attempt to engage the stem and stummel but fit remains too tight.  The next step is to relieve the internal mortise pressure. I find a drill bit small enough to accommodate being wrapped with 240 grade paper and able to navigate the mortise.  Once, I get the best fit, I sand the mortise and attempting to fit the stem as I go.  It becomes clear that the roundness, or lack therein, of the filter housing was continuing to cause problems with ‘high spots’ as I attempted to rejoin the stem.  After returning to the hot air gun and making further adjustments to the nickel housing, I achieved a round housing that fit BUT the adjustment now left the housing lose in the mortise…ugh.  The restoration nightmare – repairing a repair.The solution I decided on was to rebuild the internal mortise grip by painting the mortise with acrylic nail polish.  I paint the mortise walls with the small brush provided, wait for it to dry and then paint it again, adding an additional layer.  This was not part of the plan…After several revolutions of adding layers of acrylic polish, the grip in the mortise was restored.  A detour but moving forward!The full regimen of micromesh pads is applied to the stem starting by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400 followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set, Obsidian Oil is applied to condition the stem and protects it from developing oxidation.  The stem is looking good! I decide to run the Brylon stummel through the full micromesh battery as well.  I’m not sure it will enhance the shine much, but I want to continue the process of blending the entire stummel surface, including the rim patch.  Wet sanding begins with pads 1500 to 2400 and is followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  The results are good.  The surface did shine up and the color deepens. Before applying Blue Diamond compound, I want to apply some cosmetic touches.  The crack in the shank is visible as a lighter line.  The large rim patch is speckled as well.  Using a walnut colored dye stick, I apply it to the shank and to the rim with very nice results.  The dye helps the blending. Next, to continue with polishing, I apply Blue Diamond compound to the stem and stummel after mounting a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel with the speed set at about 40% full power.After completing the application of Blue Diamond, one more cosmetic project awaits attention before applying wax. The Apollo ‘A’ stamping needs refreshing.  I apply a small dab of white acrylic paint over the stamping.Then, with a cotton pad, I tamp the paint drawing off the excess paint leaving a thin layer of paint over the stamping which dries very quickly.Then, using a toothpick’s flat side, I lightly scrape over the stamping to remove the excess paint leaving behind the paint in the imprint.  The ‘A’ appears to be partially worn and the paint only hold where the imprint is deep enough.  It looks good!Finally, another cotton cloth buffing wheel is mounted onto the Dremel, set at the same speed, carnauba wax is applied to the entire pipe.  The Brylon doesn’t absorb like briar so the wax seems to only make a very superficial shining on the surface.  Because of this, very little wax was needed on the surface.After completing the wax application, the final step in the restoration of Paw’s Medico Apollo Brylon was to give it a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine.

This restoration was a challenge but worth it!  Working with Brylon has unique challenges but it was good to learn more about how it behaves in case I have another S.M. Frank innovation come across my worktable!  The rim patch worked well but speckling remains as a reminder of Paw’s knocking activities!  In the end, this pipe of Paw’s legacy is ready to go again bringing with it the memories of the man called, ‘Two-Page Sam’ to be remembered and treasured by his family.  Thanks for joining me!

Restemming and Restoring a Tired Medico Husky Rhodesian


Blog by Steve Laug

About a week ago I received a call from a woman who had been referred to me by a pipe shop here in Vancouver. As is often the case here in Vancouver, the woman was calling on behalf of her husband. She wanted to know if I could replace a stem on her husband’s pipe. I told her to bring it by for me to have a look at. A little later the same day she showed up at the front door with a small plastic sandwich bag clutched in her hand and somewhat gingerly handed me the bag. The pipe inside was in rough shape. It had been smoked hard and had a thick gooey cake in the bowl, overflowing onto the rim and down the sides of the bowl. The rim top was damaged and slightly out of round. The stem was not even the correct stem and it was broken off. The diameter of the stem was less than the diameter of the shank. I looked at the pipe in the bag I could see the tars oozing out onto the sides of the bag. It smelled pretty sour. It was obviously either her husband’s favourite pipe or maybe his only pipe. She said he wanted a straight stem on the pipe. Could I do the work? We agreed on a price and she left the bag with me. I took the pipe out of the bag and took some before photos. I wanted to get rid of as much of the smell of the pipe as possible – believe me it was sour and it was dirty. I wiped the exterior of the bowl down with alcohol soaked cotton pads and remove the thick grime and sticky tars off the side of the bowl and as much from the damaged top as possible. Sadly I was in such a hurry to do that I forgot to take photos. Once the exterior was cleaned it was time to tackle the inside of the pipe. I scraped out the inside of the mortise with a dental spatula and remove a lot of hardened tars from the walls of the mortise. The airway into the bowl was clogged with thick tars so I used a paper clip to push through and open the airway. I cleaned out the mortise, shank and the airway into the bowl with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol. I cleaned until the inside was clean and clear.I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and the second cutting head. I took the cake back to bare briar so I could check out the inside walls of the pipe. I finished cleaning up the remnants of the cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. The inside walls look surprisingly good, but the top and inner edge of the rim had damage from repeated lighting of the pipe in the same spot.To minimize the damage to the top and edges of the bowl I lightly topped the bowl on the topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove much of the damage. I worked on the inner edge of the rim with a folded piece of sandpaper to smooth out the burn on the front right side. There was some darkening to the rim but it was solid and looked better.With the internals cleaned, the externals cleaned and rim damage minimized it was time to work on the new stem for the pipe. I went through my assorted stems and found one that would work. It had approximately the same taper that the shank had so it would continue the taper back to the button. I sanded the stem and the shank with a medium grit sanding block to make the transition very smooth. I carefully avoided the stamping on the side of the shank so that the Medico over Husky over Imported Briar was undamaged. The stem fits the shank very well and the transition from briar to vulcanite is smooth. The next series of photos show the pipe at this point in the process. The shank on the pipe was not quite round, so I had to do a bit of reshaping to get a round stem to fit it. The stem only fit one way and there was a divot where there had originally been a logo. I filled in the divot with black super glue and set it aside to cure.With the repair to the stem curing I turned my attention to the bowl. I used a Cherry Stain pen to touch up the sanded areas on the rim and the shank. The colour matched the existing colour on the rest of the bowl so I figured it would be a good match.I buffed the bowl with a soft cloth to raise a shine and blend the stains on the briar. I took the following photos to show the overall condition of the bowl at this point in the process. I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm to enliven, clean and protect the wood. I rubbed it in with my finger tips and worked it into the shallow blast on the bowl and the smooth areas as well. I buffed it with a shoe brush and then with a soft cloth to remove the excess balm. I sanded out the scratches in the vulcanite with 220 grit sandpaper and adjusted the fit to the shank of the pipe.I cleaned out the airway in the stem using alcohol and pipe cleaners. The stem was fortunately not very dirty so the cleanup was very simple. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil on a soft cloth. I buffed it with a soft cotton pad. This small, lightly sandblasted Medico Husky pipe looks a lot better now than it did when I started working on it.  The rim top looks much better than when I started. It was chewed up and heavily caked with lava. The newly fitted stem is high quality and shined up well. I buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond polish to raise the shine on the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The rich brown stain allows the grain to really stand out on this little pipe and it works well with the rich black of the vulcanite stem. This restemmed Medico is ready to go back to the pipeman who sent it to me. I will be calling his wife shortly so that she can pick it up for her. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

A Medico VFQ Rhodesian with a Cumberland Stem


Blog by Steve Laug

My brother Jeff and I visited an antique mall that was in an old grainery along a railroad track not too long ago. We went through the display cases and booths on two floors and found a few pipes. This was one of them – an old Medico VFQ Rhodesian. I have been told that VFQ means Very Fine Quality and underneath the grime it appeared that this one may have lived up to the stamping. The stem is a Cumberland like material with swirls and striations in a mahogany coloured stem. In classic Medico style the pipe was made for their paper filter and had a hollow, adjustable tenon. The tenon has a split on both sides that can be expanded should the stem become loose in the shank.The pipe was in rough shape. The bowl was thickly caked and had remnants of tobacco in it. The rim top was covered with overflow from the bowl and there were some large chips on the top and inner edge of the bowl on the right side. The finish was shot with the top varnish coat peeling all over the bowl. The ring around the bowl was dirty but was undamaged.The pipe was stamped Medico over V.F.Q. over Imported Briar on the left side of the shank. It also was stamped with the shape number 76 on the right side. The stem bore the V.F.Q. stamp on the left side as well.The stem was oxidized, dirty and had tooth chatter on both sides at the button. There was an old paper filter still in the tenon and the inside of the shank and stem were filthy.When we got back to my brother’s place we reamed the pipe and scrubbed it down with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the damage finish. We scrubbed the mortise, airway into the bowl and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I took photos of the cleaned pipe when I finally brought it to my work table in Vancouver. (Notice the angle of the rim top on the bowl. It was not flat and the damage had left the front higher than the back.) The next two photos show the condition of the tenon and bowl when taken apart and the damaged rim once all the cake had been removed. The rim had damage all the way around but the biggest damage was on the rear right side where there was a large chip missing.The stem shows some wear in the next photos and the striations of colour are almost not visible due to oxidation.I decided to even out the height of the rim cap by carefully topping the bowl. Since the back side was higher than the front I was pretty sure I could remove most if not all of the chipped area on the rear right. I topped it on a board with 220 grit sandpaper and carefully leveled the bowl by applying more pressure to the rear of the bowl than the front and lifting the front edge off the paper as I remove the damaged and excess on the read of the bowl. It took some work to level the bowl properly and end up with an even top both from a vertical and horizontal view.I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to bevel out the inner edge of the rim to remove the remaining rim damage and clean up the appearance of the rim.I sanded the rim with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge and with 1500-4000 grit micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratches. I wiped the bowl down with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the remaining finish and stain on the bowl in preparation for matching the newly topped rim with the colour of the rest of the bowl. I did a more thorough cleanup of the mortise and airway into the bowl to remove all of the sanding dust and remaining debris that was there. I scrubbed it out with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol. I also ran pipe cleaners through the airway in the stem and cleaned the mortise with cotton swabs.The bowl had many nicks and scratches. I sanded it with micromesh pads to remove the majority of them but decided to leave some of the deeper ones as beauty marks of the old pipe. In the photos the bowl looks pretty richly coloured but in reality it was faded and apart from the flash the grain did not stand out. I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain, flamed it and repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage on the bowl. The look of the bowl in the next two photos is really odd. I think that it is a phenomenon of the flash because it did not look like this in person.I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on cotton pads to remove some of the opacity of the stain and make it more transparent. In the photos below you can see that it is lighter but still to heavy to show the grain to my liking. I buffed the bowl with red Tripoli, sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge, then polished it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads to remove some more of the dark stain and leave behind some nice contrasts in the grain of the bowl. The next photos show it after I had buffed it with Blue Diamond to polish it. I set the bowl aside for now and turned my attention to the stem. I have found that these Medico stems are not fully vulcanite and are a bit of a bear to polish. I have often been left to do the polishing by hand as the buffer can generate too much heat if I am not careful. The heat damages the material of the stem and forces you to start over. I sanded out the tooth chatter and marks on both sides of the stem and reshaped the button edges with 220 grit sandpaper.  The flow of the top of the shank to the top of the stem was interrupted in that the height of the stem at that point was higher than that of the shank so I sanded the top half of the stem to make that transition smoother.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 until I removed the scratches left behind by the sandpaper. I dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each sanding pad to give the pads more bite and allow them to really polish the stem. Between the 4000 and 6000 grit pads I buffed the stem very carefully (you have to have a light touch against the wheel). I gave it a final rub down of oil after the 12000 grit pad. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed bowl and stem with Blue Diamond a final time. It really polishes the briar and with a careful/light touch can polish these older Medico stems. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine.The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. To me the stain goes really well with the polished Cumberland like stem. They play off each other very well. The contrast on the bowl raises the highlights in the stem and vice versa. This pipe will soon be on the rebornpipes store if you wold like to add it to your rack. It is very lightweight and comfortable in the hand. I think, judging from the condition of the pipe when I got it, that it will be a great smoking pipe, with or without the Medico filter.

Restoring A Medico Double-Dri Bakelite Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

In the ongoing adventure of discovery of the quest for the drier smoking pipe I keep finding new ones that intrigue me. This latest addition that my brother Jeff picked up is unique even if it was not part of that adventure of discovery. It is stamped Medico over Double-Dri and it is unusual to say the least. The base of the pipe I believe is made of Bakelite. The bowl is painted briar or at least looks to be. The bowl is friction fit into the base and is held in place by a cork or composition ring around the edges of the base. The bottom of the bowl is a hard clay or ceramic material. The bowl is U shaped and has three holes in the bottom of the bowl that angle outward toward the edge of the external bottom of the bowl that fits in the base. The bottom of the base has a raise metal pillar that sits in an indentation on the bottom of the bowl once it is in place. Double-dri3

This directs the airflow into the rounded bottom of the base and the airway on the back of the pipe. There is a Medico paper filter that sits in the shank of the pipe and the tenon of the stem to further dry out the smoke. Thus there are two traps for moisture so that the smoke that is drawn into the mouth of the smoker is Double Dry. The stem on the one I have is made of a multi-coloured white/grey and has a raised interlocking DD logo. The white/grey nylon looks quite nice with the dark of the base and the white of the bowl.

The pipes seemed to come in a variety of colours and bowl configurations and materials from meerschaum to briar and painted briar. The bases also came in a variety of colours as did the stems. I found the next photo on the web that gives some idea of the wide variety of choices in this 50’s era pipe. Double-Dri1Charles Lemon at Dadspipes wrote about one he did a refurb on and it got my attention so I have had an eye out for one. Here is his write up http://dadspipes.com/2015/10/30/1041/ He wrote that the “Double-Dri was Medico’s foray into the field of removable and interchangeable bowls, though where the Falcon pipe used aluminum for its shank, the Double-Dri used another 1950’s Space Age material, Nylon, for both shank and stem. Press-fit bowls were available in briar or the more expensive meerschaum.”Double-dri2

There was not much information on the brand. The PipePhil site just had the brand and a few photos of two different pipe configurations. The Smoking Metal site gave the name and a picture of the pipe put together and taken apart. There was nothing that I could find that spelled out what Charles spoke of in terms of the base and stem being nylon. It appeared to me that he was right about the stem on the one I had. It was nylon. The base however was exactly like earlier Bakelite pipes that I have in my collection. I know there is a way to check that but the look and feel certainly makes me think I am right in that assessment.

Like Charles I also found a few advertisements in 1950s era magazines that sold the pipe. I could not resist using the one to the left.It is a Medico advertisement in the March 1955 edition of Popular Mechanics magazine. The language of the advert makes for great reading. It says that it is the Best Looking Pipe and the Best Smoking Pipe. It smokes 35 degrees cooler. The Double-Dry system is shown in the line drawing as made up of three parts – Condensation, Radiation and Filtration. If you buy the press on this pipe you will wonder why it is not still being sold 60+ years later. (I would love to get a hold of a copy of the folder that is mentioned at the bottom of the advertisement if any of you have one around.)

When the pipe arrived I brought it to the worktable I took a few photos to show what the condition was when I started the clean up. It was in decent shape. The bowl was caked and the holes in the bottom of the bowl were clogged. I could not see how the airflow worked with the bowl and base from looking inside the bowl. The bowl had some nicks and damage on the top edge and had a thick coating of tars. The bowl exterior was also dirty and there were some black marks on the sides of the bowl. The base was dirty and caked with hardened tars and oils. The inside of the shank and airway were black and the airway into the base was reduced in size. The stem had a lot of tooth chatter on the top and the bottom sides near the button and the contrasting grey and white of the stem material were dull. The double DD on the stem looked to be in excellent shape.Double-dri4 Double-dri5 Double-dri6 Double-dri7I took a close up photo of the rim to show the damage that would need to be dealt with. I also did a close up photo of the bottom of the base to show the inset up into the bowl base.Double-dri8 Double-dri9

I took two photos of the base and the bowl – one looking at it from the top down and the other with the bottom side of the bowl showing.Double-dri10 Double-dri11

I removed the stem from the pipe and the old paper Medico Filter was present.Double-dri12

I cleaned out the inside of the base with cotton swabs and alcohol and cleaned out the airways in the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol.Double-dri13 Double-dri14

The bowl had a rounded bottom so I used a PipNet reamer and reamed the bowl to remove the cake and enable me to see the airways in the bottom of the bowl.Double-dri15 Double-dri16

I used a paper clip to break through the airways from the underside of the bowl.Double-dri17I scrubbed the bowl exterior and rim with cotton pads and alcohol. I was able to remove most of the grime from the bowl and a fair bit of the lava from the rim. I could see that the rim was actually unpainted briar.Double-dri18 Double-dri19 Double-dri20 Double-dri21I sanded the bowl with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads to remove some of the pieces of tar and oil that were stuck to the surface of the bowl. I also sanded the base with the micromesh to give it a shine.Double-dri22 Double-dri23I lightly topped the bowl to clean up the outer edge of and the top of the rim. I sanded the inner edge of the rim to smooth that out as well. I followed up on it by sanding it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads.Double-dri24I sanded the tooth chatter and marks out of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and then wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and the shine came back to the stem. The contrast of grey and white really began to stand out.Double-dri25 Double-dri26 Double-dri27I gave the nylon stem several coats of Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed the stem with a microfibre cloth. I put the pipe back together piece by piece including a new Medico paper filter in the stem.Double-dri28 Double-dri29 Double-dri30I gave the entire pipe another coat of Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed the pipe to a shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. Other than the damage on the curve of the bowl the pipe looks very good. Thanks for looking.Double-dri31 Double-dri32 Double-dri33 Double-dri34 Double-dri35

The Sentimental Journey Continued – Restoring a Second Medico, a Smooth Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

In a previous post called a Sentimental Journey I wrote of why Medico’s always get attention when they cross my desk. Last evening I reached into my box of pipes to be refurbished and pulled out the next pipe to clean up and it too was Medico – this time it was a smooth billiard. The finish was worn and the varnish was peeling off the bowl. The rim was badly knocked around so there was damage on the outer edge at the front of the bowl and the back. There was a heavy build up on top of the damage and the bowl had a thick cake at mid bowl – not much at the top or bottom. The stamping was the same as the previous pipe – MEDICO on the left side of the shank and Imported Briar Italy on the right side. A bonus for me was that the stem I had work on for the little Rhodesian fit this one and only needed adjustment in the diameter of the stem. It had the metal tenon that was generally on Medico pipes and would hold the Medico paper filter as per design. The rest of the stem was vulcanite not nylon which was a bonus.IMG_2408 IMG_2409 IMG_2410 IMG_2411I cleaned out the shank and fit the stem in place to see how much sanding I would need to do to match the diameter of the shank. It did not look like it would take very much to bring it in line. I would need to sand the aluminum band on the stem at the same time so I would need to be careful to not create dips or valleys next to it on the softer vulcanite when sanding.IMG_2412 IMG_2413I sanded the stem with 150 grit sandpaper to reduce the diameter of the stem.IMG_2414I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer using the smallest cutting head to clean it out.IMG_2415To clean up the rim damage I topped the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper to take down the rim and reduce the rough pitting on the outer edge. I also sanded around the edge of the rim to smooth out the remaining roughness.IMG_2416IMG_2417IMG_2418I wanted to get rid of the peeling varnish on the bowl so I wiped it down with acetone on cotton pads to remove it. It took a lot of scrubbing as the varnish was very stubborn.IMG_2419IMG_2420IMG_2421I sanded the bowl and the rim with 220 grit sandpaper and then with medium and fine grit sanding sponges to remove more of the finish and reduce the scratching on the bowl. I sanded it with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge before wiping it down one last time with alcohol. I decided to stain it with an aniline based oxblood stain. I applied it and then flamed it to set it in the grain.IMG_2422 IMG_2423I rubbed the excess stain off with an alcohol dampened cloth and then hand buffed it with a shoe brush. This old Medico had some really nice grain and was a far better piece of briar than I had expected.IMG_2424 IMG_2425 IMG_2426 IMG_2427 IMG_2428I sanded the bowl with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and then buffed it with White Diamond to smooth out the bowl further. I gave it a coat of carnauba wax and buffed it lightly.IMG_2429 IMG_2430 IMG_2431 IMG_2432I finished the work on the stem fit and then sanded it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil and moved through each successive set of three pads. Once I had finished sanding it I rubbed it down a final time with the oil and gave it a buff with White Diamond.IMG_2433 IMG_2434 IMG_2435I put the pipe back together and gave it a final buff with White Diamond and then multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a soft flannel buff to finish and polish the wax. The finished pipe is shown in the next series of photos. It is a small light weight billiard with fairly decent grain and a few character marks. The new stem fits well and it looks better than it did when it left the factory. It should provide a great smoke to another pipeman. This is one that I will inevitably gift to someone along the way.IMG_2436 IMG_2437 IMG_2438 IMG_2439

A Sentimental Journey – the Restemming and Restoration of a Medico Rhodesian


Blog by Steve Laug

For years now I have had a special spot in my heart for Medico pipes. I don’t like the paper filter system, or the cheap stems with the split aluminum tenon, or the heavy varnish on the briar, or the fills that are hidden below the thick varnish, or any endless number of complaints that come to the surface with these old US made briar pipes. But I can’t get past the fact that the first pipe I ever owned was a Medico – paper filter and all, and that the first pipe I picked up when my first daughter was born years later was a Medico as well. Because of that whenever I am given an old Medico bowl I restem it and restore it. I strip away the varnish and rework the fills, make a new stem and bring it back to life in even better condition that it was when it was first sent out.

The Medico that I worked on in this restoration was a straight shank Rhodesian that came to me in a gift box of bowls. It was stemless and I had two potential stems that would work for it. There truly was nothing particularly redeemable that I saw in the bowl so the reason was as stated above solely sentimental. The bowl was dirty and worn with a thick cake. The rim had been battered and had deep nicks on the outer edge. There was a thick dark red varnish on the briar. It was stamped MEDICO on the left side of the shank and Imported Briar Italy on the right side. On the left side of the bowl was a large brown putty fill that stood out like a sore thumb. The first stem I tried was a split metal tenon Medico style stem. It was worn but usable.Med1 Med2 Med3 Med4 It fit the shank perfectly and looked good on the pipe. I thought for sure this would be a simple and quick restoration. I should have learned by now that whenever I think that problems would pop up on the way to the finish. I cleaned the shank with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol.Med5The top of the bowl was badly damaged with large dents and missing chunks on the outer edge of the rim so I decided to top the bowl. I used the topping board with 220 grit sandpaper and worked on the rim until it was smooth and clean. There were still several places on the outer front edge that would need to be worked on but the finished look of the topped bowl was far better than when I had started.Med6 Med7I wiped down the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to remove the thick varnish coat and clean up the finish on the bowl. I wanted to remove it back to the briar. In the process the dark red stain coat also was removed from the bowl.Med8Once the stain coat and varnish were removed I could see several problems that I would need to address. The front edge of the bowl needed to be sanded and the slope on the cap would need to be modified by hand sanding to remove the damage on the front edge and face of the cap. There was also a fine crack that had seeped tobacco oils on the top right edge of the shank. It had been hidden by the dark stain. When I move the stem it was not visible and did not open or spread but it was definitely present. I would need to clean up the shank, band it and with the band a different stem would need to be fit to the shank. The stem I had previously chosen had a metal face that would not work against the band. I scrubbed the bowl and shank until all the red stain that I could remove was gone.Med9 Med10 Med11I used a Dremel with a sanding drum to sand back the shank so that I could fit a band on the shank. I also wanted to smooth out the surface of the rustication pattern and clean up the crack so that I could glue and clamp it before banding.Med12I put the band around the end of the shank and then heated the metal band with a Bic lighter until I could press it into place on the shank. It took several reheats with the lighter before I had a flush fit on the band. At that point I took the second stem I had chosen and lightly sanded the tenon to get a good tight fit in the shank and pushed it in place.Med13 Med14 Med15 Med16I reamed the bowl with my PipNet reamer and the smallest cutting head until I had taken the cake back to bare wood. I wanted the bowl to be clean so that I could see if there was any damage to the interior of the bowl.Med17Once I had reamed the bowl I reshaped the angle on the cap with 220 grit sandpaper and medium and fine grit sanding sponges. Once I had the angle correct around the entire rim and had removed the damage on the front of the cap I sanded the entire bowl with the sanding sponges. I also sanded the stem with the same sandpaper and sanding sponge combination to remove the oxidation and tooth chatter near the button. The newly shaped bowl and freshly sanded stem is shown in the next series of four photos below.Med18 Med19 Med20 Med21I stained the bowl with some oxblood aniline stain and flamed it. I wanted the red colour of the stain but I did not want it to be as opaque as the original stain had been. The aniline stain seems to be more transparent. It did however, do a great job in hiding the big fill on the left side of the bowl.Med22 Med23 Med24I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper, then a medium and fine grit 3M sanding sponge. I followed that with my usual array of micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down between each set of three pads with Obsidian Oil before moving on to the next three pads. I finished by giving it a final rubdown with the oil before taking it to the buffer.Med25 Med26 Med27I buffed the entire pipe with White Diamond and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect and polish both bowl and stem. With that completed my sentimental journey with this old Medico was complete and it was ready to go back into service. I am sure I will gift this pipe to some new pipeman somewhere along the way as it should smoke very well and give many years of service. It is not a thing of beauty and never will be but it is a good serviceable pipe that will deliver a good smoke. The finished pipe is pictured in the photos below.Med28 Med29 Med30 Med31

Restoring a Princely Rhodesian Medico – New Stem and New Life


The second pipe I took out of the box of finds from the weekend antique mall score was a little Medico Prince. It is stamped Medico over Imported Briar on the left side of the shank. It had an aluminum band that was coated with a plastic coat that made it appear to be gold. This coating was peeling leaving the band looking unusable. The bowl also did not have a stem. The bowl itself had several fills on the sides and bottom, nicks around the double scored lines on the bowl and the lines themselves were filled in with hard white putty like substance. I am not sure what the purpose of the filling of the lines was but it gave the old pipe a despairing look. The rim was rough and slightly out of round. The cake was built up in the bowl and overflowing onto the rim. I looked through my stem can and found a Medico stem that had originally been on a pipe I made into a Churchwarden. It was from one of my first pipes when I came back to pipes in 1982. The stem was nylon and covered with tooth chatter and deep tooth marks. The metal tenon and the diameter of the stem were a perfect fit. I would only have to make a slight adjustment on the bottom side of the stem and the right side to make the transition smooth.
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The next series of four photos show the stem in place. The tooth marks are visible on the top and bottom sides of the stem and the shank union on the bottom and right side show the need of adjustment.
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I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer to remove the cake so that I could work on the out of round inner edge of the rim.
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I sanded the tooth chatter on the nylon stem to remove as much of the surface chatter as possible and wiped it down with a wet cotton pad to wipe off the dust. Don’t use acetone or alcohol on nylon stems as they potentially can make a mess of the stem material. I used clear superglue to repair the deep tooth marks because heating the nylon does not raise the dents. It is yet another problem to be avoided as heating only makes the material quite soft and it easily collapses. I repaired the topside first and when it dried I repaired the underside of the stem with the super glue.
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When the glue dried I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface of the stem and blend in the repairs. I sanded until the surface was smooth and the patch was flush with the stem material. I followed that by sanding with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches left behind by the sandpaper.
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I lightly topped the rim to remove the surface damage and to remove some of the damage on the inner edge. I sanded the inner edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the rough edges and give it a more rounded appearance. I wiped down the bowl and rim with acetone on a cotton pad and then isopropyl on a cotton pad to remove the finish. I used a dental pick to remove the white putty like substance that filled the two parallel bands around the bowl and then wiped it down a final time with alcohol. I also removed the stem and wiped down the aluminum band to remove the plastic coating that was on it.
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I decided to give the bowl a contrast stain. The first coat of stain was a black aniline stain. I heated the bowl and then applied the stain, flamed it, applied it and flamed it again until the stain coat was even across the bowl. My photos of the black stained bowl did not turn out do to camera failure. For some reason the flash did not work and the four photos of the black stained bowl were not visible. I applied the stain with a wool dauber and made sure that the black stain went into the parallel rings around the bowl.
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I wiped down the bowl with cotton pads and alcohol to remove the majority of the black stain and to leave it in the deep grain. I buffed the pipe with Tripoli and White Diamond and then wiped it a final time with alcohol. The finish at that point had black deep in the grain of the bowl highlighting the grain variations on the briar. It also served to provide some blending for the fills that were obvious on the bottom of the bowl. I sanded the bowl with a fine grit sanding sponge and 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to further remove the top finish. Once it was done I gave the bowl a coat of oxblood stain as a topcoat. I wanted the red stain to highlight the red of the briar and to be a contrast to the black grain on the bowl.
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After the stain was applied I wiped it off with a rag and hand polished the bowl. The contrasting stains went a long way toward giving the pipe a great look and blending the fills into the background of the bowl.
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I sanded the stem with medium and fine grit sanding sponges and then followed up that with my usual stack of micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. The progressive rich blackness of the nylon is revealed with each successive set of sanding pads.
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When I finished sanding I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and then gave it multiple coats of Paragon Wax and hand buffed it. I reinserted it in the shank and gave the entire pipe a light buff with White Diamond and then gave the bowl multiple coats of carnauba wax. I am very careful with nylon stems on the buffer after having several of them damaged by the heat of the wheel and having to start over. I have learned to hand buff the stems and if I am using the wheel at all with them to do it lightly and quickly. The finished pipe is pictured below. It is as good as new and ready to provide a good smoke to the next pipeman who carries on the trust.
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