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Refurbishing A Hardcastle’s “Drawal” # 27


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

While surfing eBay for estate pipe lots, I came across a job lot that contained four estate pipes. The seller had not included any description for the item other than a simple statement that read “The lot is being sold as is. Pictures are part of description” or words to that effect. The worst part was that there were only two pictures that were posted by the seller!! Here are the pictures that were posted by the seller… I could make out one Orlik with dental stem, a Hardcastle’s Bulldog, one Comoy’s Lovat, and the last one was unidentifiable but appeared to be fitted with a horn stem. The pipes appeared to be in a decent condition and included some nice brand names. Soon the pipes reached Abha at my home town. I had restored the pipe with horn stem and it turned out to be a gem from an old and reputable maker “Salmon (Barnett) & Gluckstein” from the period 1894 (guesstimated). Here is the link to the write up that was posted on rebornpipes;

Refurbishing an 1894 (?) Hallmarked “S & G” Square Shank Bent Billiard With a Horn Stem | rebornpipes

The 2nd pipe that I selected to work on from this lot is the Hardcastle’s Bulldog and is indicated with indigo blue arrow.The pipe is a classic Bent Bulldog with a diamond shank and a saddle vulcanite stem with a push-fit tenon. It is a medium sized pipe with a nice hand feel and a nice heft to it. The pipe may not have fantastic flame grains to boast, but has a beautiful mix of bird’s eye and straight grains scattered around the stummel surface and is without a single fill. The briar piece used to carve this pipe is of top quality and the construction and finish of the stummel and mouthpiece feels top notch too. It is stamped on the left shank panel as underlined “HARDCASTLE’S” in an arch in capital letters over “BRITISH MADE” over “DRAWEL” in an opposite arch forming a rugby ball shaped stamping. The right shank panel bears the shape code # 27 in the centre. The high quality saddle stem bears the trademark logo “H” on the left face of the saddle. The stampings are crisp and easily readable and shown below.I had cleaned up a Hardcastle’s Royal Windsor, a quaint lightweight sandblasted straight billiards with ring grains all round even before I started posting my work on rebornpipes and had read about the marquee. I remembered the brand to be British that was taken over by Dunhill and eventually relegated to being a seconds brand to even Parker, also taken over by Dunhill. To refresh my memory and relive the painful demise of a classic quality pipe maker from Britain, I visited pipedia.org. I have reproduced the snippets of relevant information for easy referencing of the esteemed readers.

Hardcastle – Pipedia

Hardcastle was founded in 1908 by Edmund Hardcastle and built itself a good reputation among the numerous British mid-graders. In 1935 Dunhill started to build a factory next door to Hardcastle in Forest Road, Walthamstow, London E17. The family owned Hardcastle Pipes Limited sold 49% of its equity to Dunhill In 1936.

Along with closing down its pipe factory in Notting Hill in 1946 Dunhill bought the remaining shares, turning Hardcastle into a 100% Dunhill subsidiary. As members of the Hardcastle family continued as executives in the company’s management Hardcastle retained a certain independence.

This ended in 1967. Dunhill merged Hardcastle with Parker (100% Dunhill as well). The new Parker Hardcastle Limited also absorbed the former Masta Patent Pipe Company. Hardcastle’s Forest Road plant was immediately given up and the production of Hardcastle pipes was shifted to Parker’s nearby St. Andrews Road factory – now consequently called Parker-Hardcastle factory.

In fact this put a definite end to Hardcastle as an own-standing pipe brand, and none other than Edwin Hardcastle, the last of the family executives, spoke frankly and loudly of Hardcastle pipes being degenerated to an inferior Dunhill second.

Today Hardcastle pipes use funneled down bowls that are not deemed suitable to bear the Dunhill or even the Parker name (as well as obtaining briar from other sources).

Timeline

  • 1903: Edmund Hardcastle establishes the brand
  • 1936: Family sells 49% of the Hardcastle Pipes Limited shares to Dunhill
  • 1946: Dunhill buys the remaining shares, but the family continues to manage the company
  • 1967: Dunhill merges Hardcastle with Parker. The new Parker-Hardcastle Limited company absorbs the Masta Patent Pipe Company also.
  • After 1967 it is speculated that Hardcastle became the brand for “Parker Seconds”

John Loring states in “The Dunhill Briar Pipe – ‘the patent years and after'” that in the absence of sales receipts, or other items of provenance, Hardcastles cannot be accurately dated. Loring further states that he knows of no way to distinguish the briar source when looking at Hardcastle, Parker, or Parker-Hardcastle pipes.

Models & Grades
Family Period
Straight Grain, Supergrain, Leweard, Nut Bruyere, De Luxe, Royal Windsor Sandhewn, Royal Crown, The Crown, Phito Dental, Old Bruyere, Jack O’London, Dental Briar, Phito, Dental, Dryconomy, Drawel, Phithu, Telebirar, Camden, Lightweight, The Table, Dovetail, Dental, Crescent Extra, Lonsdale, Welard De Luxe

Thus from the above, it is evident that the pipe on my work table is from the family era and made prior to 1967 when Hardcastle became the brand for “Parker Seconds”.

Initial Visual Inspection
This pipe has the classic Bent Bulldog shape with a diamond shank and a medium sized bowl. The stummel boasts of some beautiful bird’s eye and cross grains all over the bowl and shank. The stummel surface is covered in dirt and grime of the overflowed lava. There is not a single fill in the briar which speaks of high quality selection of the briar. There is a thick layer of cake in the chamber. The saddle vulcanite stem is heavily oxidized with tooth chatter and light tooth indentations on either surface in the bite zone. The stem does not seat flush with the shank face. The set of pictures below shows the condition of the pipe when it had reached us. Detailed Inspection Of The Pipe And Observations
The chamber has an even layer of thick cake. The smooth rim top surface shows a couple of dents/ dings (indicated with blue arrows) and is covered in lava overflow, dirt and grime from previous usage. The outer rim edge has a charred spot in 10 o’clock direction (encircled in yellow) and has suffered a few blows on a hard surface resulting in a few chipped edge surfaces in 12 o’ clock direction (encircled in green). The inner edge appears to be in decent condition. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be commented upon after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. The chamber exudes a very strong odor of old tobacco. The draught hole is dead center at the bottom of the chamber and that makes me believe that it should be a great smoke and the thick cake in the chamber lends credence to this observation. The stummel appears solid to the touch all around and hence I do not foresee any serious damage to the walls in the form of a burnout/ deep heat fissures/ lines or pits. To address the damage to outer rim edge, I shall create a slight bevel over the rim edge. Topping the rim surface should address the dents and dings over the rim top surface. The reaming and subsequent cleaning of the chamber and mortise should reduce the ghost smells from the chamber.The smooth stummel surface is covered in lava overflow that has attracted a lot of dust and dirt. The natural hued briar has taken on a layer of aged patina through which one can make out the beautiful cross grains that adorns most of the stummel surface and Bird’s eye grain at the foot and bottom of the shank. There are a few dents and chipped areas over the bowl cap (encircled in yellow), probably due to falls and or rough, uncared for handling of the pipe. Close observation of the stummel surface under magnification has revealed three very minute fills, two at the front of the bowl and one on the shank (indicated by red arrows) in the entire stummel. The double ring that separates the cap from the rest of the bowl is uneven but intact; however, it is filled with dust, dirt and grime. The briar looks lifeless and bone dry and has taken on dull dark hues. The mortise shows heavy accumulation of oils, tars and gunk and due to which the air flow is not full and smooth. Thorough cleaning of the stummel surface and rinsing it under warm water should highlight the grain patterns. This cleaning will further reveal any other damage to the stummel surface. In all probability, I shall let the minor fills in the stummel surface remain and avoid the process of refreshing these fills. The dents and dings to the bowl cap and the rest of the stummel will be addressed to an extent once the stummel is sanded and polished using micromesh pads.

The seating of the stem tenon into the mortise is not flush. The most probable reason for this could be the accumulated gunk in the mortise. Thorough cleaning of the mortise should address this issue. The minor fill in the shank described above, is indicated with a red arrow. The vulcanite saddle stem is heavily oxidized. The bite zone has tooth chatter on either surface. The lower stem surface has deep tooth indentation that, in all probability, would need to be filled. The button edges on both surfaces have minor bite marks and would need to be sharpened. The tenon is smeared in oils and tars and grime and so is the horizontal slot. The high quality saddle stem bears the trademark logo “H” on the left face of the saddle and would need to be refreshed/ highlighted. Overall, the stem is in a decent condition and the high quality of the vulcanite means that it should take on a nice shine readily.The Process
I started the restoration of this pipe by reaming the chamber with size 1 and 2 heads of the` Castleford reamer. With my fabricated knife, I further scraped the chamber walls to remove the remaining carbon deposits and also scraped out the lava overflow from the rim top surface. Once the cake was reamed back to the bare briar, I used a 220 grit sand paper to remove all the traces of remaining cake and also to smooth out the inner walls of the chamber surface. Finally, to remove the residual carbon dust, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. The chamber walls are in pristine condition with no signs of heat lines/ fissures. The beveled inner rim edge shows signs of minor charring in the 10 ‘O’ clock direction which will be addressed by light sanding along the beveled edge. This charring further extends to the outer rim edge as well and will be addressed while topping the rim top. The rim top surface itself is peppered with dents/ dings and scratches which will be smoothed by topping. The problem of the chipped outer edge will be resolved during the topping of rim surface followed by creating a slight bevel, if need be. The ghost smells are still very strong and may further reduce after the shank/ mortise are thoroughly cleaned. This was followed by cleaning the mortise with cue tips, pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I scraped the walls of the mortise with my fabricated knife to remove the dried oils and tars. The mortise was a bear to clean and the heap of pipe cleaners, q-tips that were used and the pile of scraped out gunk is an indication of how dirty the shank internals were. The old smells of the tobacco are still strong and would need more invasive methods to get rid of these odors.With the bowl internals clean, I moved to clean the exterior of the stummel. I used a hard bristled tooth brush and Briar Cleaner, a product that has been developed by Mark Hoover, to scrub the stummel and rim top. I set the stummel aside for 10 minutes for the product to draw out all the grime from the briar surface. After 10 minutes, I washed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the stummel surface was clean and dried it using paper towels and a soft cotton cloth. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. I diligently cleaned the grooves between the bowl rings that separated the bowl cap from rest of the stummel surface. The stummel surface, including the rim top has cleaned up nicely with the beautiful grain patterns on full display. The lower edge of the bowl cap has chipped areas that were exposed during the cleaning of the grooves. I shall try to even it out by sanding in between the grooves with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. The three very small fills that I had noticed under magnification, are all solid and refreshing them is not required. I shall subject the chamber to cotton and alcohol treatment to eliminate the ghost smells completely as the smell is still very strong. Next I cleaned the internals of the stem with bristled pipe cleaners and 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. With my fabricated knife, I gently scraped out the dried gunk from the tenon end and the horizontal slot. I further cleaned out the stem internals with a shank brush and dish washing liquid soap. Once the stem internals were cleaned, I sanded the entire stem surface with a 220 grit sand paper in preparation for dunking the stem in Before and After Deoxidizer solution.I thereafter, dropped the stem in to “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution developed by my friend Mark Hoover. The solution helps to draw out heavy oxidation to the surface, making it’s further removal a breeze, while the minor oxidation is eliminated to a very great extent. The initial sanding helps to draw out the complete oxidation as the sanding opens up the stem surface that has been initially covered with oxidation. I usually dunk stems of the pipes that are in-line for restoration and this pipe is marked in a pastel blue arrow. I generally allow the stems to soak overnight for the solution to do its work.While the stem was soaking in the deoxidizer solution, I continued the cleaning of the chamber and shank internals with a salt and alcohol bath. I used cotton balls which is an at par substitute as I have realized over the years. I drew out a wick from the cotton and along with a folded regular pipe cleaner; inserted it into the mortise and through the draught hole into the chamber. Thereafter, I packed the chamber with cotton balls to about quarter of an inch below the inner rim edge and soaked the cotton balls with isopropyl alcohol up to the brim. About half an hour later, the level of alcohol had gone down, having being absorbed by the cotton. I topped it up once again and set it aside overnight. By the next morning, the cotton and alcohol had drawn out all the remaining oils and tars from the chamber and mortise, fulfilling its intended task. I removed the cotton balls and ran pipe cleaners through the mortise to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk and further cleaned it with alcohol and q-tips. The chamber now smells clean and fresh. I set the stummel aside to dry out naturally.The next morning, after I had cleaned the chamber and shank, I removed the stem that had been soaking in the deoxidizer solution overnight. I cleaned the stem and the stem airway under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using a Magic Eraser pad followed by Scotch Brite pad and the airway with a thin shank brush. I further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little EVO to rehydrate the stem. This now gives a clearer picture of the extent of depth of the bite marks as can be seen in the pictures below. These will definitely require a fill even after I have heated and raised the vulcanite. I need to rebuild the entire button edges on both the upper and lower surface of the stem. Traces of stubborn deep seated oxidation can be seen, especially on the saddle portion of the stem that would need to be eliminated before polishing the stem.To begin repairs to the stem, I sanded the entire stem surface with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper till the complete oxidation was eliminated from the stem and saddle portion in particular. I cleaned the entire stem and areas in the bite zone with cotton swab and alcohol. Next, I filled the tooth indentations in the lower surface with a mix of clear CA superglue and activated charcoal and set it aside to cure. After the glue had partially hardened on the lower surface, likewise, I filled the upper surface tooth marks and set the stem aside for the superglue to harden completely. Once the fill has hardened, I shall file and sand the fills to reconstruct the bite zone and the buttons on either surfaces and subsequently match it with the surface of the stem.I turned my attention to address the damage to the stummel. I next decided to smooth the rim top surface dents/dings and the charred surface in 10 o’clock direction extending from inner to outer rim edge. I topped the rim top surface on a piece of 220 grit sand paper, checking frequently for the progress being made as I hate to loose briar estate any more than absolutely necessary. The darkened rim top extending from inner to outer edges can still be seen, though much greatly reduced. With a folded piece of a 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger, I cleaned the bevel on the inner edge of the rim top surface to minimize the darkening. This helps to mask and address the minor dents and dings that had remained on the rim edges after topping. I am careful so as not to alter the profile of the stummel by excessive topping or creation of the bevels. I am pretty pleased with the appearance of the rim top and edges at this stage. The following pictures show the progress being made and improvements to the inner and outer rim edges.I followed it by wet sanding the stummel with 1500 to 2000 wet & dry sand paper and further with 3200 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, wiping frequently with a moist cloth to check the progress. The minor outer rim damage was repaired to a very large extent and so was the darkening during this process. I really like the looks of the stummel at this point in restoration. The grain and the clean classic lines of this pipe are worthy of appreciation. At this point in the restoration, I remembered that I had to even out the lower edge of the bowl ring. I firstly cleaned the debris that was lodged in between the rings with a sharp knife after the sanding and polishing process. I folded a piece of 220 grit sand paper and inserting it into the grooves, evened out the edges.Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works it’s magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The contrast of the dark browns of the Bird’s eye and cross grains with the natural patina of the rest of the stummel adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel which may be insufficiently described in words and be rather seen in person. With the stummel rejuvenation almost complete, save for the final wax polish, I worked the stem. The fill had cured and with a flat head needle file, I worked on the filling till I had achieved a rough match with the surrounding surface and had sufficiently sharpened the button edges. To bring a deep shine to the stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2000 wet & dry sand paper and further with 3200 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. I wiped the stem with moist cloth after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rejuvenate the vulcanite. I am pretty happy with the way the stem repairs have shaped up and also the buttons have a nice delicate shape to them. The finished stem is shown below. I used a white correction pen to highlight the stem logo. I smeared the correction ink over the logo and once dried, I gently wiped out the excess ink. The stem logo “H” is now prominently visible.I have now reached the homestretch in this restoration project. To complete the restoration, I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel onto my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding. I mounted another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and is ready to join my collection of other Hardcastle’s pipes that I have inherited. I only wish it could share with me it’s story of the past years while I enjoy smoking my favorite Virginia blend in it or maybe an English blend or maybe just keep admiring it!! A big thank you to all the readers who have joined me on this path by reading this write up as I restored and completed this project.

Restoring the 23rd Pipe from the Mumbai Bonanza – a Herter’s Angler’s Pipe #147


Blog By Paresh Deshpande

The next pipe that I had selected to work on was dictated by my desire to work on something that would be a simple and an easy project. I went through the box of pipes for restoration and selected a beautiful lightweight straight billiards that came to us in a lot which I prefer to call as my Mumbai Bonanza!

I was fortunate enough to have heeded the advice of my dear friend and mentor, Steve, and struck a deal with a junk collector from Mumbai. He did not know what he was selling and I did not know what I was buying as we reside in different cities!! The argument that Mr. Steve presented was that if not anything, I shall at least have some spare parts and this was logical. I struck a deal and here are pictures of the pipes that I received in this lot.       This lot contains some very nice collectible pipes, a few well known brands and some mediocre brands. Overall, with seven Dunhill pipes, a Preben Holm #1 FH, a couple of “Made in England” Pete System pipes, a couple of  Charatan’s Belvedere, Custom-Bilt, Stanwell and other assorted pipes, I would say that I had struck a decent haul!! This is indeed my “Mumbai Bonanza”.

This 23rd pipe that I decided to work on from this find is a medium sized straight billiard and is indicated in green color arrow. It has a very solid feel in the hand with a very light weight to it making it ideal to clench all day long. The pipe exudes top notch quality of briar, very high quality of craftsmanship and construction with perfect proportions and classic design! It is stamped on the left of the shank as “HERTER’S” over “ANGLERS PIPE” in block capital letters. The right side of the shank bears the COM stamp “MADE IN” over “ENGLAND” followed by the shape code # 147 towards the stummel end. The stem is stamped as “HERTER’S” in block letters. All the stampings are crisp and easily readable. Since I had never heard of, let alone worked on a Herter’s pipe, I was keen to know more about this brand and if possible, establish approximate date/period for this pipe. I first turned to rebornpipes.com, as Steve has chronicled and researched many of the pipe houses and brands over the years working on pipe repairs and restoration. But unfortunately, this time around, there was no information available on this brand. Next, I turned to pipedia.org for information and there is very scant information available about the brand. The info that I gathered is reproduced below:-

Herter’s – Pipedia

Apparently this outdoor outfitting company had pipes made for them? If you have any additional information please add it here, or send it to sethile.pipes@gmail.com and we will add it for you.

Well, that’s all the info that was available about the brand, other than a few pictures of the pipes and stampings that were available, thanks to Dough Valitchka.

Next I turned to pipephil.eu and the only additional information I learned was I quote “Private label of the same name outdoor equipment stores (fishermen, hunters, forest rangers…). A unique model: Herter’s pipes are all of the same shape.”

I have included a screenshot of the relevant part including pictures of the pipe and stampings seen on the pipe. I disagree with the comment “Herter’s pipes are all of the same shape” as there are different shapes available as I found out later during my research.

He-Hh — Pipes : Logos & Markings (pipephil.eu)Still not satisfied with the information gained so far, I did a random search for Herter’s on the web and Google Baba provided me with enough material to learn about Herter’s. The first thing I learned was that Herter’s was a Outdoor Goods Business that was started by George Leonard Herter. The first site I visited was Wikipedia and have reproduced the particulars of George Herter. Here is the link and relevant information that I have reproduced:-

George Leonard Herter – Wikipedia

George Leonard Herter (24 May 1911 – 5 July 1994) of Waseca, Minnesota was the founder of the Herter’s outdoor goods business and an author. His best known books are the Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices series (published in three volumes), which have a cult following today.[1]

In 1937 Herter took his father’s dry goods store and turned it into a mail order outdoor goods business, selling hunting and fishing items through a catalog. He later opened retail outlet stores, which pioneered the style of outdoor goods stores now operated by Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops. The company went bankrupt in 1981.[1]

He is best known for his books, which were self-published and sold through his stores. The New York Times describes the Bull Cook series as his “magnum opus“, “a wild mix of recipes, unsourced claims and unhinged philosophy that went through at least 15 editions between 1960 and 1970.”[1]

How to Get Out of the Rat Race and Live On $10 a Month, despite its title, is an encyclopedic 656-page collection of outdoor and survival skills.

The Bull Cook series and How to Get Out of the Rat Race are credited as co-written by George Leonard Herter and his wife, Berthe E. Herter.

There is a very insightful and informative article in Star Tribune on Herter’s catalog that I came across and here is the link to that article. It is titled, “Herter’s catalog is long gone, but not forgotten”.

Herter’s catalog is long gone, but not forgotten – StarTribune.com

Before there was an Internet or a Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shop or Gander Mountain, there was Herter’s — the first outdoors gear juggernaut. Say the word “Herter’s’’ and a legion of mostly men, now middle-aged or older, in Minnesota and nationwide nod their collective heads in fond recollection. Herter’s mail-order catalogs were legendary, hundreds of pages jammed with hunting, fishing, camping and other outdoor gear that could be delivered to your doorstep. Those catalogs included lengthy descriptions, instructions and bold, often audacious claims — entertaining readers while also enticing them to buy. Herter’s was the Sears, Roebuck of the outdoor industry and was perhaps best known for its waterfowl products. Launched and headquartered in Waseca, Minn., the company was the inspiration for today’s huge mail-order and big-box outdoor retailers. And at the center of it all was George Herter, an eccentric and reclusive entrepreneur, a marketing genius who made brazen, bombastic claims to boost sales of his products. Though he died more than 20 years ago, he remains an enigma — and one of the most interesting characters in Minnesota history.

“He was an icon in Minnesota, and had a lot to do with influencing waterfowling, not only in Minnesota but throughout the United States,’’ said Doug Lodermeier, 60, of Edina, a waterfowl historian and collector who gave a presentation on Herter’s legacy Saturday at the annual Minnesota Waterfowl Association’s waterfowl symposium in Bloomington.

“It’s easy to dismiss him as a crackpot and goofball, but the reality is he was a genius,’’ Lodermeier said. “He was way ahead of his time.’’

Herter labeled most of his products “world famous” or “model perfect,” and he claimed many were endorsed by the North Star Guides Association — which didn’t exist.

Said Lodermeier: “As a kid I couldn’t wait for the Herter’s catalog to come because me and my friends just rolled on the ground reading his claims and outlandish stories. We loved it — and we bought his stuff.’’

Herter reportedly wrote all of the copy in his catalogs, instruction manuals and pamphlets and also was a prolific author — among his books: “How to Get Out of the Rat Race and Live on $10 a Month.” In a cookbook he wrote, “The Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ, was very fond of spinach.’’

Quirkiness aside, Herter built an outdoors empire, starting around 1935 in Waseca. It began as a catalog business that focused on fly-tying, but it grew to include virtually every outdoor product imaginable — and some unimaginable. Eventually Herter opened stores in Waseca, Glenwood, Mitchell, S.D., Beaver Dam, Wis., Iowa City and Iowa Falls, Iowa, and Olympia, Wash.

But after decades of success, a “perfect storm’’ led to Herter’s demise, Lodermeier said: The overexpansion of those retail stores at a time when oil prices were skyrocketing, the Gun Control Act of 1968, which prevented firearms from being bought and sold via the mail, and federal bans on the importation of some feather species Herter’s used for fly tying.

Herter’s went bankrupt in 1977, and the though the man has become mostly forgotten, his name lives on. Cabela’s now owns the brand, and customers can order an assortment of Herter’s gear and ammunition.

George Herter saw combat in Europe during World War II, earned a Purple Heart and may have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Reclusive even at the height of his success, Herter apparently didn’t give interviews, and few photographs of him exist. The man who left an indelible mark on the outdoors industry is relatively unknown.

He died in 1994 in Minneapolis at age 83, leaving behind no autobiographies or interviews.

“I don’t want to be known and rarely tell people my right name. I never allow anyone to take my picture,’’ he wrote in one book.

With a fair idea of the enigmatic man behind Herter’s, my quest to know about Anglers Pipe and it’s place in the Outdoor Goods business, pushed me to further research. I came across a blog by Dean Smith, an Angler and collector of fishing collectible. Here is the link to the blog and certain excerpts from his researched blog.

Tackle Treasures: vintage fishing tackle collectibles

About Tackle Treasures…
When most folks think about fishing collectibles they likely conjure up images of fine bamboo rods, early reels, wooden lures with glass eyes, hand carved ice-fishing decoys or perhaps leather trimmed split willow creels. Not me …I like all of the other stuff best …gizmos, bottles, boxes, tins, medals, pins, knives, fly tying vises, advertising items and all sorts of paraphernalia with a fishing theme. Poke around the site for bit …I’m sure you’ll see the attraction after a tour.

Tobacciana | Tackle Treasures

In the old days smoking and outdoor activities seemed to go hand-in-hand …thereby the vast proliferation of smoking products with angling themes. In fact, smoking was so popular that some tackle manufacturers offered smoking products and accessories. For example, both Hardy and Herter’s made “Anglers Pipes”. Now, I am not the least bit certain what distinguishes a normal pipe from an Anglers pipe …but it did give me something else to collect and that’s all that matters. Hardy also made an “Anglers Pipe Reamer” …which begs the question, would it only work on “Anglers Pipes?”

Herter’s Anglers Pipe and Hardy Brothers Pipe Reamer

I Certainly Didn’t Set Out To Collect Herter’s Anglers Pipes …But Now I Have Three …All Different (Annotations are by the owner of the blog, Mr. Dean Smith)

Thus from the above, it is now understood that the pipe on my work table was retailed by Herter’s Outdoor Goods, a mail order venture, that was started by George Leonard Herter in 1935 and which declared bankruptcy in 1977. Herter’s supplied smoking products and accessories, including pipes that were made specifically for the firm by one of the many British pipe makers.

Now that I have a fair idea of the shop from where this pipe was sold and having established the provenance, I moved ahead with the inspection and further restoration of the pipe.

Initial Visual Inspection
This lot had some highly collectible and sought after pipes. That pipes such as this one, an unknown entity amidst all the Preben Holms, Stanwells, Dunhills and Charatan’s in this lot, can make its presence felt is testimony to its quality briar, construction and the legacy of being part of American pipe history and e-commerce.

The pipe has a medium sized bowl with a straight vulcanite stem. The chamber has a thick layer of cake with lava overflow over the rim top surface. There are a few dents/dings over the rim top with the inner and outer rim edges in decent condition. The stummel surface is covered in dirt, dust and grime which hides the beautiful mixed grains of bird’s eye and cross grains. The stummel is dull and lifeless. The mortise appears to be clogged as the draw is hard and constricted. The vulcanite stem has light tooth chatter on either surface in the bite zone and is heavily oxidized. The button edges are slightly worn down with minor bite marks and would benefit from sharpening of the edges. The pipe has a very light weight which makes it ideal for outdoor activity or when you need your hands to be free. The pipe as it sits on my work table is shown below. Detailed Inspection…
The pipe came to us in a very well smoked state and a thick layer of cake buildup is observed in the chamber. The rim top surface is covered in the thick overflow of lava in 6 ‘O’ clock direction and several dents and dings to the rim top surface can be seen, probably caused due to the tapping it must have received at the hands of the previous owner to remove the dottle. This will need to be addressed. The inner and outer rim edges are in decent condition. The draught hole is perfectly at the bottom center and should be a great smoke. The old smells should reduce once the chamber and shank internals are cleaned up.The smooth stummel surface has beautiful grain patterns with a mix of bird’s eye, cross grains and nice swirls. The stummel surface has dulled a bit and appears lifeless due to accumulation of grime, dust and dirt. The mortise and the draught hole are clogged with accumulation of oils and tars making the draw laborious. The fact that there is not a single fill in the stummel surface and it’s light weight points to a very high quality of well cured briar. The straight vulcanite stem has a slight flair out towards the slot end and is deeply oxidized with light tooth chatter on either surface in the bite zone. The insides of the slot and tenon show heavy accumulation of oils and tars. The button edges have worn out a tad bit and also have minute bite marks. The buttons could benefit from sharpening of the edges. The ‘HERTER’S’ logo needs to be refreshed.The Process
I started the restoration of this pipe by first cleaning the internals of the stem with bristled pipe cleaners and 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. I scraped out the dried oils and tars from the tenon end and the slot end with my fabricated knife. I followed it up by sanding the entire stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to remove the surface oxidation. It has been our (Abha, my wife and me) experience that sanding a stem before dunking it in to the deoxidizer solution helps in bringing the deep seated oxidation to the surface which in turn make further cleaning a breeze with fantastic results.  I dropped the stem in to “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution developed by my friend Mark Hoover. The solution helps to draw out heavy oxidation to the surface, making it’s further removal a breeze, while the minor oxidation is eliminated to a very great extent. The initial sanding helps to draw out the complete oxidation as the sanding opens up the stem surface that has been initially covered with oxidation. I usually dunk stems of 5- 6 pipes that are in-line for restoration and this pipe is marked with a green arrow. I generally allow the stems to soak in this solution overnight to do its work.While the stem was soaking in the deoxidizer solution, I worked on the stummel by first reaming the chamber with size 1, 2 and 3 Castleford reamer heads. I further scraped the chamber walls with my fabricated knife to remove the remaining carbon deposits. Once the cake was reamed back to the bare briar, I used a 150 grit sand paper followed by 220 grit sand paper to remove all the traces of the remaining cake and also to smooth out the inner walls of the chamber surface. Finally, to remove the residual carbon dust, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. I gently scraped the rim top surface to remove the lava overflow. The chamber walls are sans any damage. The dents and dings over the rim top are now amply evident. This would need to be addressed.This was followed by cleaning the mortise with cue tips, pipe cleaners and a shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I scraped the walls of the mortise with my fabricated knife to remove the dried oils and tars. The heap of gunk scraped out from the mortise walls tells the sordid saga of the condition of the shank internals. Well, the shank internals are clean and will be further cleaned once the stummel exterior is cleaned using oil soap and shank brushes.The next morning, Abha removed the stems that had been soaking in the deoxidizer solution overnight. She cleaned the stem and the stem airway under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using Magic Eraser followed by a Scotch Brite pad and the airway with a thin shank brush. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little EVO to rehydrate the stem.Staying with the stem refurbishment, with a flat head needle file I sharpened the button edges. I further sanded the entire stem with 220 followed by 400, 600 and 800 grit sand paper. This helps to reduce the scratch marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2000 grit sandpapers and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with moist cloth after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rejuvenate the vulcanite. I am not able to find the pictures that I had taken of the micromesh polishing and the completed stem and apologize for not including the same.With the stem refurbishment completed and the bowl internals clean, I moved on to clean the exterior of the stummel. I generously applied “Briar Cleaner”, a product that has been developed by my friend Mark Hoover, to the external surface of the bowl and the smooth rim top surface. It works similar to Murphy’s oil soap and needs to be applied to the stummel surface and set aside for 5-10 minutes. The product pulls out all the dirt and grime to the surface making further cleaning easy. I am quite happy with this product. I used a hard bristled tooth brush to scrub the stummel and rim top with the solution. After the scrub with Briar Cleaner solution, I washed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the stummel surface was clean and dried it using paper towels and a soft cotton cloth. I deliberately cleaned the smooth rim top with a hard bristled toothbrush and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with detergent and a hard bristled shank brush. The stummel surface has cleaned up nicely with beautiful bird’s eye and cross grain patterns on full display. With the stem fill set aside to cure, I started with cleaning of the stummel surface. With a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper, I sanded the entire stummel surface. This not only removes the stubborn dirt and grime that remains on the stummel but also evens out the minor dents and dings from the surface. I followed it up with sanding using a piece of 0000 grade steel wool. This helps reduce the sanding marks left behind by the coarser grit sand paper. These sanding marks will be completely eliminated once I am through with micromesh and Blue Diamond polish. Now that I had a fair idea of the extent of topping required to the rim surface, I topped the rim on a piece of 220 grit sand paper to even out the rim surface dents and dings. To further smooth out the scratches left behind by the abrasive 220 grit sand paper, I topped the rim surface on a piece of 400 grit sand paper. The rim top was now a shade lighter than the rest of the stummel surface and would require to be stained dark brown. Since I had packed my stuff for the impending transfer, I was without my stain pens. I remembered an old trick that Steve had taught me to darken the rim top using readily available shoe polish and so I used Dark Tan Cherry shoe polish over the rim top surface and set it out in the sun for the surface to absorb the polish. A dark spot is seen over the rim top in 11 o’clock direction and being natural to the briar I decided to let it be. I subjected the stummel to a complete cycle of micromesh polish, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads and paid greater attention to polish the rim top surface. I wiped the stummel with a moist cloth after every grit pad to remove the sanding dust left behind by the pads. This also helps in monitoring the progress being made and provides an opportunity to take early corrective action, if required. Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” into the briar with my finger tips and worked it deep into the surface and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works it’s magic and the briar now had a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful grain patterns on full display. The contrast of the dark browns of the grain with the light hues of the rest of the stummel added an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush to further deepen the shine. To complete the restoration, I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel onto my hand held rotary tool and applied a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel and the stem in order to polish out the minor scratches. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I applied a coat of carnauba wax and continued to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe with a natural finish to the briar looks amazingly beautiful. The pipe feels really light in the hand and has such a perfect balance in the mouth if you like to smoke your pipe clenched. I really appreciate your valuable time spent in walking the distance with me on this restoration.

Refurbishing A Second “Connoisseur, N.Y.C. Ed Burak” Pipe For My Collection.


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

About a year back, I had practiced tenon replacement on a freehand CONNISSEUR, NYC and though the project veered off towards stem replacement, it was an enjoyable and a challenging project. Here is the link to the write up: Continuing My Practice on Tenon Replacement… Working on a Connoisseur, NYC Pipe | rebornpipes

While working on the Connoisseur pipe, I so came to appreciate the very high quality of the briar used and the perfect balance and geometry that Ed Burak, the carver, brings to his pipes that when I came across another Connoisseur I had to get it, if the price was right (I have seen pipes from Ed Burak and Tim West go for big monies). We struck a deal and the pipe made its way across the oceans to India!

It is this pipe that is currently on my work table. It’s a well proportioned bent egg with a beautiful mix of cross and bird’s eye grains over the smooth stummel surface. It is stamped on the left of the shank as “CONNOISSEUR” over “N.Y.C”. The right side is stamped with “Ed Burak” in cursive hand. These stampings have faded in places, but are easily readable save for the letter E in Ed Burak which appears to have worn out. There is no other stamping seen on either the stummel or the stem. I had some recollection of the information I had researched about Ed Burak pipes, but to refresh my memory, I re-visited the write up as well as rebornpipes where, over the years, Steve has chronicled almost all the pipes that were and are in existence. Steve has restored and researched a pipe from this maker. Here is the link for a detailed information on this pipe; https://rebornpipes.com/2015/05/23/restoring-an-ed-burak-connoisseur-tall-stack/

Further down the write up, he also gives out the dating methodology adopted by Ed Burak and the same is reproduced for immediate reference;

I also learned on Pipephil’s website, http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/about-en.html that the stamping did indeed give some information that helped in identifying the period that a particular pipe was made. There I found that one may generally separate Connoisseur pipes’ date of manufacture into three periods.

From late 1960’s until 1974: no stampings
From 1974 until 1981: CONNOISSEUR over N.Y.C.
From 1981 on: CONNOISSEUR over N.Y.C. and Ed Burak’s signature.

Thus from the above information, it’s evident that this beautiful Connoisseur pipe in my hand is from the period post 1981!

Initial Visual Inspection
This is a well proportioned pipe with a nice hand feel and heft to it in a bent egg shape. The bend in the stem is more straightened than what it should be. The stummel has a beautiful bird’s eye and cross grains over the surface. The front of the bowl has a dark spot of charred wood on the outer rim edge. The pipe has been well smoked as evidenced by the thick layer of cake but has been well cared for. The rim top surface is clean with minimal lava overflow. The high quality vulcanite stem is oxidized and has tooth indentations and chatter in the bite zone. This was how the pipe looked when it reached me…this is a nice stout and beautiful looking pipe that should polish up nicely. Detailed Inspection…
The chamber has a thick even layer of dry and hard cake. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be checked and ascertained only after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. However, I do not envisage any damage to the chamber walls. There is very light lava overflow over the rim top surface. The rim top surface is slightly inward sloping and the outer edge is flattened in 6 o’clock direction. The condition of the inner rim edge is pristine. There are very strong and all pervading smells of old tobacco emanating from the chamber. Hopefully this issue should be addressed once the cake has been removed and the mortise is thoroughly cleaned.The stummel boasts of beautiful bird’s eye grains to the sides with cross grains over the front, back and extending over the shank surface. The stummel briar is without a single fill and exudes a very high quality of briar and craftsmanship. The foot of the stummel shows beautiful cross grains and is sans any damage. The stummel has a dry and dull appearance. The front of the bowl has a lightly charred spot in 1 o’clock direction on the outer rim edge. I checked the extent of the damage and was relieved to find the wood is solid to the touch and the char is not very deep seated. My guess is that the stummel must have come in contact with a burning cigarette end in an ashtray. It is fortunate that the burn mark is not very deep but unfortunately it cannot be completely eliminated. The mortise walls are dirty and the sump has accumulation of old dried oils and gunk. The ghosting smells should reduce once the mortise and sump have been cleaned out. The high quality vulcanite saddle stem has deep seated oxidation over the stem surface. A couple of nicks/ chips can be seen over the upper stem surface. Tooth indentations can be seen on the lower surface while the upper surface has minor tooth chatter in the bite zone. The button on either surfaces has a few bite marks. The horizontal slot and the tenon end shows accumulation of oils and tars. The stem profile is more straight and does not match the bent profile of the shank, making it uncomfortable to clench. This would need to be sorted out.The Process
I began the process of refurbishing this pipe by cleaning the internals of the stem using pipe cleaners with isopropyl alcohol (99.9% pure). Once the stem internals were cleaned, with my fabricated knife, I scraped away all the gunk and tars from the slot and tenon end.I flamed the stem’s upper surface and the bite zone on either surfaces with the flame of a lighter to raise the nicks, tooth indentation and chatter from the stem surface. The heat did not completely raise the damage to the surface, but the damaged surface appeared much better than before. I sanded the entire stem surface with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to even out the raised surfaces of the stem and also to remove the oxidation from the surface. I wiped the stem surface with Murphy’s Oil soap and a cotton swab to remove the loosened surface oxidation. I filled all the deep tooth chatter and indentations and also the button edges with a mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal and set the stem aside for the fills to cure. I intended to blend these fills and also sharpen the button edges once the fill had hardened considerably.While the stem fills were curing, I worked on the stummel, reaming the chamber with my PipNet reamer using head sizes 1 to 3. Using my fabricated knife, I further reamed out the cake from places where the PipNet reamer could not reach and followed it with sanding the chamber walls with a 220 grit sand paper. I wiped the chamber with isopropyl alcohol and a cotton swab to remove all the carbon dust. This final cleaning of the chamber revealed well-seasoned solid chamber walls. Next, I cleaned the mortise with hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. With a dental tool, I scrapped away all the dried oils and gunk from the walls of the mortise. I cleaned the well of the mortise with q-tips dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I would continue the cleaning of the mortise during the external cleaning of the stummel surface.I scrubbed the external surface of the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it using a paper towel and a soft cotton cloth. Thereafter, I cleaned the mortise and stummel surface with anti-oil dish washing soap on a shank brush and a tooth brush. I set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. Once the external stummel surface cleaning was done, I completed the stem repairs. The fills had cured nicely and I began the process of filing the fills and shaping the button end with a flat head needle file. I matched the fills and smoothed out the button edges with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper.Next, I  moved on to shaping the stem to match the profile of the stummel before polishing the stem. I inserted a pipe cleaner through the stem’s air way to prevent it from collapsing once the stem is heated. I first straightened the stem by heating it with a heat gun. To impart the requisite bend, I drew a diagram to mark the plane of the stummel rim top, the present profile of the stem, and thereafter, the exact place and shape of the bend that was needed in dotted lines. What we have to ensure is that the bend in the stem should be parallel to the rim top. I heated the stem with my heat gun till the vulcanite became pliable and gave it the necessary bend. I held it in place till the stem had cooled down a bit and thereafter, held the stem under cold water for the bend to set. I further dry sanded the stem with 400, 600, and 800 grit sand papers and finally wet sanded with 1000 grit sandpaper. I rubbed some extra virgin olive oil into the stem and set it aside to be absorbed. The stem is now a shining piece of vulcanite.With the stem set aside, I decided to tackle the darkened rim top and the charring to the outer edge in 1 o’clock direction. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to sand the rim top surface by moving in from outer rim edge to the the inner. I sanded the charred spot to remove the charred briar and blended it with the rest of the stummel surface. Though not completely eliminated, the charred spot was greatly reduced and unfortunately will always remain as a testimony to the pipe’s journey.I polished the stummel with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 pad. I wiped the surface with a soft cloth at the end of the micromesh cycle. The stummel looked amazing with a deep shine, the beautiful bird’s eye and cross grains popping over the stummel surface. I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar. I rubbed this balm deep into the stummel surface with my fingers and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately worked it’s magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the dark brown hues of the grain contrasting with the rest of the stummel surface. I further buffed it with a horse hair shoe brush. The appearance of the stummel at this stage motivated me further to complete this project at the earliest. I set the stummel aside and all that remained was to polish the stem! I polished the stem with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I rubbed a little extra virgin olive oil in to the stem at the end of the micromesh polishing cycle. I completed the polishing regime of the stem by rubbing a small quantity of Extra Fine Stem polish developed by my friend Mark Hoover, and giving it a final polish with a soft cotton cloth. The stem was now nice, smooth and shiny.  To apply the finishing touch, I first mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and applied a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches.With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I applied a coat of carnauba wax to the stummel and stem and continued to work on it till the complete coat of wax was polished out. I mounted a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and gave the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine further. This CONNOISSEUR pipe with it’s beautiful grains, perfectly bent stem and great hand feel was now ready to join my modest collection of American pipes to be enjoyed for years to come. The finished pipe is shown below.

Refurbishing A Danish Quaint # 648 From The Mumbai Bonanza Lot


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I was fortunate enough to have heeded the advice of my dear friend and mentor, Steve, and struck a deal with a junk collector from Mumbai for a pile of pipes that he had acquired. He did not know what he was selling and I did not know what quality and condition of pipes I was buying from him as we reside in different cities!! The argument that Steve presented was that if not anything, I shall at least have some spares and this was logical. I struck a deal and here are pictures of the pipes that I received in this lot. This lot contains some very nice collectible pipes, a few well known brands and some mediocre brands. Overall, with seven Dunhill pipes, a Preben Holm #1 FH, a couple of “Made in England” Pete System pipes, a couple of  Charatan’s Make “Belvedere”, Custom-Bilt, Stanwell and other assorted pipes, I would say that I had struck a decent haul!! This is indeed my “Mumbai Bonanza”.

The 22nd pipe that I decided to work on from this find is a beautiful decent sized Acorn shaped DANISH QUAINT # 648 and is indicated by a green pointer.This is a beautiful Acorn shaped pipe that is partially shallow sandblasted on either sides of the stummel and shank with smooth surface on the front, and back of the bowl and on the lower and top surface of the shank that bears the stamping seen on this pipe. It is stamped on the left smooth surface of the shank as “DANISH QUAINT” over “MADE IN DENMARK”, all in block capital letters. The bottom smooth shank surface bears the shape code “648”. The vulcanite saddle stem bears the trademark logo “DQ” with the upper part of Q intertwined with the letter D. All the stampings are crisp and easily readable. The stampings, shape profile, stem styling and my reading of the Stanwell brand when I had worked on a few from my inheritance; I knew that DANISH QUAINT was a sub-brand of STANWELL. I also recollected that there was no other information available on this sub brand from Stanwell.

However, just to be sure, I visited pipedia.org and looked up their seconds/ sub-brands which I have reproduced below along with the link

Stanwell – Pipedia

Sub-brands / Seconds

  • Bijou(discontinued)
  • Danish Natural?
  • Danish Quaint
  • Danish Sovereign
  • Danske Club
  • Henley(discontinued)
  • Kong Christian(discontinued)
  • Majestic
  • Reddish(discontinued)
  • Royal Danish
  • Royal Guard
  • Royal Sovereign
  • Sailor(discontinued)
  • Scandia
  • Sorn(discontinued)
  • Svendson

Just out of curiosity, I checked out the Stanwell shape number chart and Designers. There is indeed shape number 48 designed by Sixten Ivarsson that matches the pipe on the work table with the only difference being this pipe is stamped as 648 and not 48. Here is the link and description of shape 48.

Stanwell Shape Numbers and Designers – Pipedia

  • Freehand, egg-shaped bowl with rounded rim, long saddle mouthpiece, by Sixten Ivarsson.

Initial Visual Inspection
The pipe that is currently on my work table is a freehand with an Acorn/ Egg shaped bowl. The stummel has shallow sandblasted patches on either sides of the bowl and on the shank and is covered in dirt and grime through which beautiful cross grains can be seen over smooth surface. There is a thick layer of cake in the chamber. The rim top is covered in lava overflow in the 6 o’clock direction. The vulcanite saddle stem is heavily oxidized with no damage to the bite zone on either surface. The buttons on both surfaces are in pristine condition. The following pictures will give the Readers an idea of the overall condition of the pipe as it sits on my work table. Detailed Visual Inspection
The pipe appears to have been a favorite of the previous piper and has been well smoked. There is a thick carbon layer over the walls of the chamber. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber will be ascertained once the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. The round smooth rim top surface is relatively clean with maximum lava overflow in 6 o’clock direction. In spite of the thick cake, the chamber odor is not strong and should be addressed once the cake has been taken down to the bare briar and the shank internals have been thoroughly cleaned.Being a sub-brand, it was expected that the stummel would have certain flaws, this one is no different and how! There are numerous tiny fills that are filled with putty (indicated with yellow arrows and circles) and many of these fills have loosened up and would require being refreshed. The stummel surface is covered in dirt and grime giving the stummel a lifeless, dull and dirty appearance. The stummel has specks of white paint spots all over the surface and in the nooks and crannies of the shallow sandblast. The mortise shows accumulation of old oils and tars which would need to be cleaned. The vulcanite saddle stem is heavily oxidized, but otherwise in a decent condition. The bite zone and the button edge on both surfaces show calcification and some minor tooth indentations. The horizontal slot and tenon opening shows accumulation of dried oils and tars. All in all, the stem presents no major damage and should be an easy clean up.Initial Cleaning By Abha…
The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 40-50 pipes for my further restoration and I am gradually inching towards completing these pipes). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.Next she cleaned out the internals of the stem air way and immersed it in “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution along with the stem of other pipes in line for restoration (the pipe currently on my work table is indicated in red). Once the stem had soaked overnight, she cleaned the stem under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using Scotch Brite pad. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stem.Once The Pipe Is On My Work Table…
The cleaned up pipes presents a very clear picture of what needs to be done to restore this pipe to a pristine and smokable condition. I really cannot thank Abha, my wife, enough for all the help and support that she extends me in my pursuance of this hobby. A clean pipe also helps in clearly identifying the work that would be required to restore a pipe. The following pictures shows the condition of the pipe when it reached me after being cleaned. The stamping is crisp and readable as mentioned above. The shape code is just marginally below the putty fill. Whether or not to refresh this fill will be decided later. The chamber is odorless and the walls are solid without any signs of damage. The smooth round rim top surface has few dents/ dings and very minute fills. The inner and outer rim edges are in perfect condition, save for the minor fills. The stummel has cleaned up nicely and all the numerous tiny dots and few slightly larger fills are easily identifiable. I intend to address only the larger fills that have come loose. The stummel needs cleaning again as it has attracted a lot of dust and dirt since it was last washed. The mortise and shank internals will benefit from further cleaning.The stem has cleaned up really well. The stem airway, horizontal slot and tenon end are clean and air flow is open and full. There are no bite marks/ tooth chatter in the bite zone on either surfaces. The seating of the stem tenon in to the mortise is snug and sits flush with the shank face.The Process
I started the restoration with the external cleaning of the stummel. I cleaned the external surface of the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a hard bristled toothbrush. Once the stummel surface was cleaned, I rinsed the stummel under warm water. The rim top surface is now clean and without any damage. The shank and chamber cleaned up nicely and there are no traces of ghost smells. A polish with micromesh pads should highlight the cross grains on the smooth stummel surface. The large fills that have come loose will need to be refreshed. Next, I cleaned out the internals of the shank and mortise. Using my dental tool, I scraped out the dried oils, tars and gunk from the mortise. I continued further cleaning of the mortise and the shank with shank brushes and dish washing soap. I finished the cleaning by running a few pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol through the mortise.Once I had wiped the stummel dry with paper towels and soft cotton cloth, the fills were very apparent. With a pointed dental pick, very carefully and painstakingly, I completely removed the old fills from the stummel surface. I cleaned the fills of all the debris with isopropyl in preparation of fresh fill.I filled up the gouged out spots with a drop of clear CA superglue. The larger fill at the shank end was filled with a mix of superglue and briar dust. I set the stummel aside for the fills to cure overnight. With the stummel set aside for the fills to cure, I turned to refurbishing the stem. I lightly used a flat head needle file to re-define the button edge on either surface. I followed it up by further dry sanding the stem with 320, 400, 600, 800 and wet sanding with 1000 grit sand papers to completely rid the surface of the oxidation and bring out the shine in the vulcanite. I rubbed a small quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil in to the stem surface and set it aside to be absorbed in to the vulcanite. The stem at this point in restoration is shown below.By next day, the stummel fills were nice, hard and well set. With flat head needle file, I sand each of the fill to achieve a rough match with the rest of the surface. With a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper, I worked on each fill till I had achieved a nice blend with the rest of the stummel surface. It turned out much better than I had anticipated. I further sand the entire smooth portion of the stummel surface with the same grit sand paper to address the minor scratches and further smooth the stummel surface in preparation for a polish by micromesh pads. The rounded rim top surface looks much better at this point in restoration. Using micromesh pads, I completed the polishing of the stem by wet sanding the surface with 1500 to 12000 girt pads. I gave a final rub with “Before and After Extra Fine” stem polish compound from Mark Hoover to remove fine scratches from the stem surface. I rub a little quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil in to the stem surface and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite. The stem polished up nicely and appears as good as when new.   Next, I subjected the smooth surfaces of the stummel to a complete cycle of micromesh polish, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I paid greater attention to polish the rim top surface. I wiped the stummel with a moist cloth after every grit pad to remove the sanding dust left behind by the pads. I am happy with the progress being made till now. Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips and worked it deep in to the surface and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful cross grain patterns on full display. The contrast of the dark browns of the grain with the light reddish brown hues of the rest of the stummel adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush to further deepen the shine. To refresh the stem logo, I coat the stem logo with white correction ink and let it dry out completely while I polished the pipe with Blue Diamond. Once the ink had dried out, with a toothpick, I gently removed the excess ink from the surrounding surface. The logo is very crisp and looks good.To put the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding. Next, I mount another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe with a deep brown shine to the briar looks amazingly beautiful and is now ready for its long second inning with a new piper. I would like to express my gratitude to all the readers of rebornpipes who have taken the efforts to walk through this journey with me.  Your comments and suggestions are of utmost importance as this helps me gain experience and grow in this hobby about which I am very passionate.

This is a very beautiful pipe with a medium sized bowl but very light in weight. It has the same design features of a well-made Stanwell pipe, but at half the cost being a sub-brand. If any reader is interested in adding this pipe to his/ her pipe rotation, feel free to contact me at deshpandeparesh@yahoo.co.in .

Praying for the health and safety of all the readers and their loved ones in these troubled times…

Repairing and Refurbishing a Jobey “Gondoli” From Steve’s Grab Box


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Steve, my friend and mentor, had sent me a pipe lot of 15 pipes for restoration about 3 years back. These assorted pipes were requested by me with an intent that these would provide me with an opportunity to further hone my skills and gain experience in tackling varied issues that one may come across during restoration. Each of these pipes has its own set of issues to address and I look forward to work on each one of this pipe lot. Here is the picture of the pipes as I received it. The one marked with a red cross is a Dunhill Root that has been restored by Steve for my personal collection.

I have worked on a no name straight billiard and an Oom Paul from this lot and both turned out to be beautiful pipes. The next pipe from this lot that I selected to work on is a Jobey “GONDOLI” and is marked with a green arrow and numeral 3.This pipe has a nice hand feel to it and the classic Prince shape with a beautiful variegated fancy stem makes it a very attractive looking pipe. The stummel boasts of beautiful mixed grains. It is stamped on the left side of the shank as “Jobey” in fancy script over “GONDOLI” in capital letters, towards the shank end. On the right side of the shank it is stamped with shape code “965”. The variegated acrylic stem with swirls of brown carries the trademark logo of JOBEY in a brass roundel atop the surface of the stem.I had previously worked on two Jobey pipes and had researched the brand at that time. Here is the link for the research and write on the pipe.  A Simple Restoration of a “Jobey Filtersan # 690” | rebornpipes

No other information was available on the internet that I could link with the GONDOLI line or the shape code # 965. Any assistance in unearthing additional information is most welcome!!

Initial Visual Inspection
This grab bag that Steve had sent me contained few pipes that Jeff had already cleaned and sent across to Steve for further restoration. Thus, unfortunately, before condition pictures are not available with me to share with the readers, but fortunately, I get to work on a pipe that Jeff has already worked his magic upon and presented me with a clean pipe. Below are a few pictures of the pipe as I had received it. Detailed Inspection
The chamber is nice and clean with thick walls without any damage. The rim top surface has a couple of darkened areas which should be easy to clean up. The inner and outer rim edges are in decent shape and the chamber smells clean.The external surface of the stummel has been cleaned and lacquer coat has been removed in most of the places. However, a few spots remain where the lacquer coating is visible. The stummel had a reddish orange stain that has been cleaned out but would need to be eliminated completely (personal choice!). There are a few fills (encircled in pastel blue) at the back of the stummel that would need to be refreshed. There are few dents and dings over the stummel surface that needs attention. Through all this patchy lacquer coat and stain, beautiful Angel’s hair peeks out from the smooth surface. Once the stummel is cleaned and polished, these grains will pop out in all their refined glory. All in all as it stands now, this is one dull and tired looking stummel that requires a lot of TLC!! The mortise is threaded to accommodate the screw-in Jobey link tenon which was patented by Jobey. The mortise is otherwise clean but for the accumulation of dust and grime from three years of storage. This will need to be thoroughly cleaned. The famed Jobey-link Delrin tenon is shown below.The variegated acrylic fancy stem with swirls of browns and grey look very attractive, but to put it mildly, is an utter mess!! It has bite marks (encircled in green) on both upper and lower stem surface with minor tooth chatter all over the bite zone on both sides; however, these should be an easy fix. The real serious damage to the stem can be seen at the tenon end. There is a deep crack from the face of the tenon end on either surface that extends right up to the shoulders of the stem. Along the way this crack on either surface, has further bifurcated in to a couple of more cracks extending to the sides. The extents of all these cracks are indicated with red arrows.

Note: This is one tricky stem repair that I would be undertaking. I had half a mind to completely replace this stem with a new one rather than repair it. But I wanted to preserve the originality of the pipe and secondly, I did not have a suitable acrylic stem to match the beauty of the original stem and pipe combo. So repairs to this stem are the way out for me at the moment. The Process
Firstly, I cleaned the stummel exterior with Murphy’s soap and hard bristled tooth brush. I used an abrasive Scotch Brit pad to completely eliminate the lacquer coat from the surface. I diligently worked the rim top surface to remove the minor traces of darkened stains that remained. With a shank brush, I thoroughly cleaned the mortise of all the dust that had accumulated inside and along the mortise walls.

Note: The reddish orange stain on the stummel has reduced significantly, but not completely. I would need to resort to other stronger measures to eliminate the old stain. The rim top is now clean and the lacquer coating from surface has been removed completely. The fills would need to be refreshed. Next, I wiped the stummel with pure acetone on a cotton swab to eliminate the minor reddish orange stain that remained on the surface. The acetone worked well and the stummel is now free of the old stain, presenting me a fresh canvas to work further. Continuing with the stummel refurbishment, I decided to refresh the fills at the back of the stummel. Using a sharp dental tool, I removed the old fills and cleaned the area with a cotton swab and isopropyl alcohol. The gouged out spots were filled with clear CA superglue and set aside for curing.With the stummel fills set aside for curing, it was time to undertake the repairs to the stem. I first cleaned the stem surface with isopropyl alcohol on a cotton swab. Using nose pliers, I gently flexed the crack just enough for the superglue to seep in. I applied a generous layer of clear CA superglue of medium viscosity over the crack and flexed it a couple of times to make sure that the glue had seeped in to the crack. I pressed the crack together in a vice and set it aside for the glue to cure.

Note: The last picture shows that the glue had seeped completely in to the crack and inside the stem opening that houses the tenon. I shall resort to sanding to remove the excess glue from inside the stem.  Once the glue had completely hardened, I applied another coat of superglue over and around the cracks on either surface. I spot filled the tooth indentations in the bite zone with clear CA superglue and set the stem aside for the glue to cure.Next, while the stem fills are curing, I sand the stummel fills with a flat head needle file to achieve a rough match with the rest of the surface. To achieve a better match and also to address the dents/ dings over the stummel surface, I sand the entire stummel surface with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. I also work the rim top surface and inner rim edge with the sandpaper to even out the rim edge. This sanding also helps in removing residual old stain while providing a smooth surface for the next stage which is polishing cycle using complete set of micromesh pads. I was especially very careful while sanding the sides of the shank around the stampings, as it is very easy to miss out the stamp and one swipe of the sand paper is enough to ruin/ damage the stampings. To remove the sanding marks and bring a deeper shine, I polished the stummel with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 pads. I wiped the surface with a soft cloth at the end of the micromesh cycle. The shining stummel looks amazing with a deep brown coloration and beautiful Angel’s hair grains popping over the stummel surface. Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful darkened grain patterns on full display. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. The next afternoon, I work the stem as the fills had hardened nicely. First, with a flat head needle file, I sand the fills in the bite zone to achieve a rough match. I further fine tuned the match by sanding the filled area with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger.Next, I sand the excess glue from over and around the crack using a flat head needle file followed by a piece of 220 grit sand paper. I used a round needle file and a rolled piece of 220 grit sandpaper to sand out the excess glue from inside the stem opening for the tenon. I also remove excess glue from within the grooves of the fancy stem.

Note: I was careful to maintain a very thin layer of glue over the cracked surface as it would lend additional support and rigidity to the cracked area. Also, I was extra careful while sanding the inside of the stem opening for the tenon to achieve a smooth and even surface for the seating of the tenon.One of the probable causes for the cracks over the tenon end of the stem could have been a very tight fitting tenon. I lightly sand the smooth end of the Delrin tenon with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to achieve a snug fit (not tight and not very loose) in to the stem opening for the tenon. I frequently checked for the seating as I did not want to open up the cracks again. At this stage I am very pleased with the stem repairs and the seating of the Delrin tenon in to the stem.

Note: While sanding the smooth end of the Delrin tenon, one has to be careful and ensure an even all around sanding of tenon as it directly affects the seating of the tenon in to the mortise and thus the seating of the stem face against the shank.  Next I dry sand the entire stem surface using 600 and 800 grit sand papers followed by wet sanding with 1000 grit sandpaper. This serves to reduce the sanding marks of the more abrasive sand papers. I also sharpened the button edges with the sand papers. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the oxidation and sanding dust from the surface.I followed up the sanding regime with micromesh polishing to bring a shine on the stem surface. I wet sand the stem with 1500 to 12000 girt micromesh pads. I rub a small quantity of olive oil (though not necessary for acrylic stem) in to the stem surface to hydrate it and set it aside. The stem looks nice and shinning.Now, on to the home stretch!! I very excited to see the result of the final polishing cycle with Blue Diamond and carnauba wax.

To apply the finishing touches, I first mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks fantastic, the beauty of which is accentuated by its classic shape, size and hand feel. P.S. The stem repairs are solid and with a little care while handling, this pipe should last a few more decades. This pipe is all set for a new home and is now truly ready for a long hiatus with a new piper, providing years of service in future.

Thank you all for reading through this write up and for the valuable time you have invested in doing so. If any reader is interested in adding this pipe to his/ her pipe rotation, feel free to contact me at deshpandeparesh@yahoo.co.in

Completing a Long Pending Repair and Restoration of Comoy’s Made “Air-O-Dry 212”


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

As I was winding up my stay at the old duty station, I came across a neatly packed zip-lock pouch that was stowed away in to the deepest part of the cupboard. In that pouch were three pipes; two Comoys and one Drury Lane # 484. I remembered that the Comoy’s had stingers that needed leather gaskets and one needed a top nut for the stinger. Steve had sent me the leather gaskets/ washers while a replacement for the stinger that required top nut, was in post that was delayed for more than a year due to the prevalent worldwide pandemic situation. I completed refurbishing the Drury Lane # 484 (Another Of My Inherited Pipes Restored…. A “Drury Lane # 484” | rebornpipes) and decided to work on the Comoy’s pipe that had an intact top nut but needed a leather gasket.

This pipe is a classic Lovat shape and is stamped on the left of the shank towards the shank end as “AIR-O-DRY” in fancy Gothic script. The right side of the shank surface is stamped as “MADE IN ENGLAND” over “BY” over “COMOY’S” and followed by the shape number “212” towards the chamber end. The bottom of the shank is stamped with *5 (this number denotes the leather washer size) over letter “K” (a mystery!!). The high quality vulcanite saddle stem bears the trademark BAR logo that appears to be an aluminum strip embedded in to the vulcanite. All the stampings are crisp and easily readable.The stampings on the pipe were categorical in pointing out that the pipe is English made and linked with Comoy’s. The shape code # 212 of Comoy’s Shape Number chart also corresponds to LOVAT shape of the pipe on my work table. However, the Air- O- Dry line does not find a mention in the list of seconds from Comoy’s on pipedia.org.

Pipedia.org has some information on this line of pipes and I quote:-

The Air-o-Dry pipe that follows was made by Comoy’s according to the stamp. The patent for the unusual stinger system shows it was invented by Marcel C.H. Jacquemin, as “Annexed” in Montreal, June 27th, 1933.

Here are a couple of pictures of the pipe and the patented details of the stinger that were available on pipedia.org, courtesy Dough Valitchka.The three digit shape number, COM stamp and the stinger system make me believe this pipe is from the 1930s to 1950s.  

Initial Visual Inspection
The pipe that is currently on my work table has a classic Lovat shape with a nice hand feel and heft to it. The stummel has rich light brown coloration that has turned dark over the years due to regular use. The stummel has a beautiful mix of cross grains and tightly packed bird’s eye grains peeking out from underneath the dirt and grime. Once the stummel has been cleaned and polished, these beautiful grains should add to the visual appeal of this piece of the briar. There is a thick layer of cake in the chamber with lava overflow over the rim top surface. The beveled inner rim edge has dents and dings and suspected charring in 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock directions. The outer edge has chipped surfaces all around, probably the pipe having being knocked against a hard surface. The vulcanite saddle stem is heavily oxidized with minor calcification and damage to the bite zone on either surface. The buttons on both surfaces have worn out slightly with minor tooth indentations. The following pictures will give the Readers an idea of the overall condition of the pipe as it sits on my work table. Detailed Visual Inspection
A thick and even layer of cake is seen in the chamber. The rim top surface is covered in overflow of lava, dirt, dust and grime and appears uneven underneath the overflow of lava. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber and rim top surface will be known once the cake has been taken down to the bare briar and the rim top crud has been scraped off completely. The inner rim has suspected burn/ charred surface in 12 o’clock (low probability, I guess) and 6 o’clock directions and is marked in yellow circle. Only once the stummel has been thoroughly cleaned that I can be sure of my initial appreciation. The outer rim edge has chipped surfaces all around (indicated with green arrows) but the most severe damage is in the 3 o’clock direction and is encircled in green. The chamber odor is strong.

Notes: – The stummel feels solid to the touch and I do not foresee any major issues with the condition of the chamber walls. The dents and dings to the rim top surface will necessitate topping. A thin delicate bevel to the outer edge should address the damage to a great extent. The strong ghost smells should be addressed to some extent once the cake has been taken down to the bare briar and the shank internals have been thoroughly cleaned. In case required, more invasive measures like salt and alcohol treatment will be resorted to if the ghosting prevails.Being a seconds pipe from Comoy’s, I had expected to find a few fills and some non-descript grain on the stummel briar. However, I was surprised to note that there is just a single fill in the stummel surface that’s already loosened (encircled in pastel pink). The stummel surface boasts of some beautiful cross grains around the front, back and over the shank surface while tightly packed Bird’s eye adorns the sides and foot of the bowl. The stummel surface is covered in dirt and grime giving the stummel a dull and oily appearance. The surface shows a few scratches, dents and dings (indicated in red). The mortise shows accumulation of old oils and tars which would need to be cleaned.

Note: – The loose fill will need to be refreshed with a mix of CA superglue and briar dust. Light sanding of the stummel with a piece of 220 grit sand paper should address the minor scratches and dings over the surface. A nice polish with micromesh grit pads will bring a nice shine to the stummel and highlight the grains. It does have a quality which is seen on vintage pipes in terms of perfection in size, briar material, quality of stem and perfectly centered draught hole drilled right at the bottom of the chamber. And not to forget, this is nearly a 50 plus year old pipe!! The vulcanite saddle stem is heavily oxidized, but otherwise in a decent condition. The bite zone on either surface shows some minor tooth indentations with a small amount of calcification at the base of the button edge. The button edges on either surface have worn down with minor bite marks. The horizontal slot and stinger openings show accumulation of dried oils and tars. There is a gap at the stinger head, between the top nut and the shoulder of the stinger (indicated by red arrows), where the leather washer is seated.

Note: The button edges will need to be sharpened and reshaped. The gap at the stinger head will be covered with the leather washer. All in all, the stem presents no major damage and should be an easy clean up.The Process
I started the restoration by reaming the chamber with size 2 followed by size 3 head of the PipNet reamer as I was keen to know the condition of the walls of the chamber. With my sharp fabricated knife, I removed the cake from the chamber where the reamer head could not reach and thereafter, using a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper, I sanded out the last traces of cake and exposed the walls of the chamber. I wiped the chamber with a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol to remove the carbon dust left behind by all the reaming and sanding process. Once the chamber walls were cleaned out, I was pleased to note a solid chamber. With the same sharp knife, I gently scraped off the lava overflow from the rim top surface. It was a big relief to note that the suspected charring in 6 o’clock and 12 o’clock direction is non-existent and the beveled inner rim edge has just darkened as a result of the lighting habits of my grandfather. However, the damage to the outer rim edge is very much a reality and will need to be addressed. Next, I cleaned out the internals of the shank and mortise. Using my dental tool, I scraped out all the dried oils, tars and gunk that had accumulated in the draught hole and on the walls of the mortise. The amount of crud that was scrapped out is an indicator as to how dirty the shank internal is.

Note: The darkened and uneven beveled inner rim edge and the dents/ dings to the rim top surface are now clearly seen. These issues should be easily addressed by topping and light sanding of the existing inner edge bevel. Similarly, the outer rim edge issue would be reduced after topping and what chipped areas remain will be masked by creating a light delicate bevel. The ghosting is still prevalent and will, in all probability, require invasive methods to completely eliminate it. I continued the cleaning of the chamber and shank internals with a salt and alcohol bath. I usually use cotton balls which is an at par substitute to Kosher salt as I have realized over the years. I drew out a wick from the cotton and along with a folded regular pipe cleaner; inserted it in to the mortise and through the draught hole into the chamber. Thereafter, I packed the chamber with cotton balls to about quarter of an inch below the inner rim edge and filled it with isopropyl alcohol up to the brim. About half an hour later, the level of alcohol had gone down, having been absorbed by the cotton. I topped it up once again with isopropyl alcohol and set it aside overnight. By next afternoon, the cotton was dark colored and with alcohol, had drawn out all the remaining oils and tars from the chamber and mortise, fulfilling its intended task. I removed the cotton balls from the chamber and the pipe cleaner with cotton from the shank and ran pipe cleaners through the mortise to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk. I further cleaned the mortise and chamber by scarping the walls with a dental tool and knife respectively, to completely remove the gunk. I blew through the draught hole to dislodge the trapped gunk, wiped the bowl clean and dried the shank and bowl with paper napkins and set it aside to dry for an entire day. By next day, the pipe was nice and dry and all the smells were history. With the stummel set aside for drying, I turned to address the stem issues. I addressed the deeper oxidation by sanding the entire stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. Once the oxidation was completely removed, I wiped the surface clean with Murphy’s oil soap on a cotton swab. I cleaned up the oils and tars from the surface of the stinger using alcohol on cotton pads followed by Murphy’s Oil soap. I followed it up with cleaning the internals of the stem using hard and normal bristled pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. The gunk that came out with the pipe cleaners tells the sordid tale of the stem condition. To save on to the requirement of number of pipe cleaners, I have resorted to cleaning the stem internals using thin shank brushes with anti-oil dish washing soap and finally rinsing the stem with warm water to clean and freshen up the stem internals. With a pointed dental tool, I scraped out the entire dried gunk from the horizontal slot. I rubbed a little Extra Virgin Olive oil to hydrate the stem and kept it aside. Continuing with the stem refurbishing, I heated the bite zone with the flame of a lighter to raise the tooth indentations to the surface. Though the issue was addressed to a great extent, one bite mark on both surfaces (encircled in yellow) along with damage to the button edge (indicated in pastel blue) was still evident. The button edges and deeper tooth indentations on either surface of the stem were filled with a mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal powder and set aside for the fill to cure.With the stem repairs set aside for curing, I decided to clean the external surface of the stummel. I used a hard bristled tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to scrub the stummel and rim top. I further scrubbed the rim top surface with a brass bristled brush to completely remove the dirt and grime from the rim surface. I rinsed the stummel under running warm water. I cleaned the stummel with anti oil dish washing detergent till the stummel surface was clean and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally.While the stummel was set aside for drying, I decided to complete the stem repairs and refurbishing. With a flat head needle file, I sanded the stem fills on either surface till I had achieved a rough match with the rest of the stummel surface. I reshaped and sharpened the button edges with the same flat needle file. The filled surface and button edges were worked upon with a piece of 220 grit sand paper to further blend in the repairs. I followed it up by further dry sanding the stem with 400, 600, 800 and wet sanding with 1000 grit sand papers to completely rid the surface of the oxidation and bring out the shine in the vulcanite. I applied a little EVO to stem surface to hydrate it and set it aside. While the stem was set aside to absorb the EVO, I addressed the issue of one single fill in the entire stummel surface. I removed the old fill from the surface with a sharp dental tool and cleaned the area with isopropyl alcohol in preparation for refreshing the fill. Since the area to be filled was very minute, I decided to fill it with a drop of CA superglue alone. Once that was done, I set the stummel aside for the fill to cure.Once the stummel fill had cured, I sanded it first with a flat needle file and followed it up with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. Simultaneously, I sanded the entire stummel surface with the 220 grit paper to eliminate the minor scratches and dings from the surface.The next stummel issue that I addressed was of uneven rim top and damages to the rim edges. I decided to address the issue of uneven and darkened rim top surface by topping the rim surface on a piece of 220 grit sand paper. The progress being made was frequently checked as I had no desire to lose any briar estate than was absolutely necessary. Once satisfied with the result, I wiped the rim top surface with a moist cloth. The darkened rim top had been addressed completely, however, the beveled inner rim edge was still dark and uneven (though greatly reduced) with slight charred edges. I addressed these issues by simply running a piece of 220 grit sand paper along the inner rim edge bevel, till the darkening was eliminated. I created a delicate but sharp bevel to the outer edge for a smooth and an evenly rounded outer edge. However, I was extremely careful that the profile of the stummel was not altered with the creation of the bevel. I subjected the stummel to a complete cycle of micromesh polish, dry sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I paid greater attention to polish the rim top surface and the bevel created on the inner and outer rim edge. I wiped the stummel with a moist cloth after every grit pad to remove the sanding dust left behind by the pads. This also helps in monitoring the progress being made and provides an opportunity to take early corrective action, if required. I was happy with the progress being made till now. The briar had taken on a nice deep shine with the original natural brown of the stummel and the darker brown stains to the grains contrasting beautifully. I really liked the dark brown coloration and the patina that was seen over the stummel surface. Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” into the briar with my finger tips and worked it deep in to the surface and let the balm be absorbed by the briar for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful straight and Bird’s eye grain patterns on full display. The contrast of the dark browns of the grain with the light brown hues of the rest of the stummel adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush to further deepen the shine. Using micromesh pads, I completed the polishing of the stem by wet sanding the stem surface with 1500 to 12000 girt pads. I gave a final rub with “Before and After Extra Fine” stem polish compound from Mark Hoover to remove fine scratches from the stem surface. I rubbed a little quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil in to the stem surface and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite. The stem polished up nicely and appears as good as when new.The only repair aspect that remained was replacing the leather washer in the stinger head. Steve, my Guru/ Mentor/ Friend, had spared me two size 5 leather washers, for this pipe and other for Comoy’s “Grand Slam”. These leather washers will be put to good use, I assure you Steve!!

I soaked one leather washer in water to make it soft and more pliable. Carefully unscrewing the top nut (I had broken the top nut on the stinger of Grand Slam while trying to unscrew and the memory of the pain is still vivid), I fixed the leather washer and gently tightened the top nut. With a piece of 220 grit sand paper, I sanded off the excess leather material from the washer, frequently checking for the seating of the stinger into the mortise (remember my mantra… SAND ONCE, CHECK TWICE!). Once the seating was snug and just perfect, I stopped any further sanding and applied petroleum jelly to the washer to keep it moist and pliable.To put the finishing touches, I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel onto my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding. Next, I mounted another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I mounted a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and gave the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe with the aged patina to the briar looks amazingly beautiful and now all that remains for me is to load it with some Regent’s Flake and get transported back in time when things were a bit more contemplative and people had time for each other… time to share!! P.S. The completion of this project would not have been possible without the help that was extended by Steve and I am really thankful to him.

Praying for the health and safety of all the readers and their loved ones in these troubled times…

 

Restoring A Vintage Kriswill “Chief # 35” Pickaxe


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

The next pipe selected for refurbishing is a commonly shaped pickaxe Danish pipe. I say common because through the 1960s and 70s, this shape and its variations was the most loved and common on many Kriswill and Stanwell pipes as well as with various artisan pipe carvers from Denmark.

This pipe has a smooth stummel with a natural finish (I guess) that has darkened over a period of time. For a pipe with a length of 5 ½ inches and bowl height of 2 inches and chamber depth of 1 ¾ inches, it’s pretty much ultra light weight, making it a perfect pipe to clench. The vulcanite stem is thin and delicate. The smooth stummel surface displays beautiful cross grains to the front and aft of the bowl while the sides boast of lovely bird’s eye grains. It would need a good TLC to bring these grains to the fore. Here are a few pictures of the pipe that Abha had taken before she did her part of initial cleaning of the pipe. The pipe is stamped on the left surface of the shank as “Kriswill” in script hand over “CHIEF” over “HANDMADE DENMARK”. The bottom of the shank, at the shank end, is stamped with the shape code “35”. The vulcanite stem bears the stamp “KRISWILL” in script hand over the left surface. Last year, I had worked on a unique Kriswill “GOLDEN CLIPPER” that had a stummel shaped like the chimney of early steam locomotive engines. Here is the link for the write up… Restoring a Kriswill “Golden Clipper” Freehand Chimney | rebornpipes. I am sure you will find it an interesting read.

I had researched the brand at that time and I went through the above write up and also through the material that was available on pipedia.org and pipephil.eu. There are three facts which I wish to highlight:-

Firstly, Prior to 1970 the stampings are in script letters on the shank and on the mouthpiece. The star on the stem and block letters on the shank were introduced from that date on”

Secondly, the stem stamping changed to “stylized compass rose” prior to 1969 and not 1970 as evidenced from the Kriswill Pipe catalog pages of January 1969 (https://pipedia.org/images/5/5f/KriswillCatalog-Jan1969.pdf)

Thirdly, there is no mention of this shape code # 35 in the “CHIEF” line up in the 1969 and 1970 catalogs further implying that this shape code was discontinued after 1969,of course this is assuming that the complete catalog is made available at the above given link.

On pipedia.org, I came across an early catalog which does have a shape code # 35 pipe that is currently on my work table and is indicated with a red arrow. It’s a Nature finished pipe in brown color as indicated by the shape code.Thus from the above, the pipe that I am now working on definitely pre-dates to 1970s since the stamping is in script and the stem is sans the star and probably even prior to 1969.

With the provenance of the pipe satisfactorily established, I proceeded to carry out a visual inspection of the condition of the pipe in my hand. This helps me map the road to restoring the pipe by identifying the issues involved and identify methods/ options to address the same beforehand.

Initial Visual Inspection
The chamber is so filled with cake that I am unable to reach the bottom of the bowl with my little finger. The build-up of the cake is heavier on the bottom half of the bowl, but overall well maintained. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be commented upon only after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. The rim top appears darkened and is covered with dust, lava and grime. The inner rim edge is uneven under the lava overflow and the exact condition will be ascertained once the rim top has been cleaned. The chamber odors are not very strong and should be completely eliminated once the cake has been removed and the shank has been thoroughly cleaned.The stummel surface appears dull and lackluster due to the accumulated dirt, dust and grime of years of usage and subsequent uncared for storage. One minor nick (encircled in yellow) and a scratch (indicated with green arrow) is seen over the front of the stummel surface. The mortise is clogged with oils and tars. This should be an easy clean up job. The vulcanite stem is heavily oxidized. The button has some bite marks on both surfaces and will need to be rebuilt and reshaped. There is minor tooth chatter in the bite zone on both the surfaces. The airway in the stem is blocked resulting in a restricted draw and will need to be cleaned. The tenon and the horizontal slot show accumulation of dried oils, tars and gunk on the inside as well as on the outside. This will have to be cleaned. The aluminum inner tube is covered in dried oils and tars. I shall clean it and keep it aside in my box with other inner tubes and stingers as I never use them with my pipes.Initial Cleaning By Abha…
The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 40-50 pipes and these had reached me for further restoration). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.Next she cleaned out the internals of the stem air way and immersed it in “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution along with the stem of other pipes in line for restoration (the pipe that I am working on is indicated by yellow arrow). Once the stem had soaked overnight, she cleaned the stem under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using Scotch Brite pad. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stem. She had removed the inner tube from the tenon and cleaned it with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol.Once The Pipe Is On My Work Table…
The initial cleaning by Abha, my wife, is thorough and while saving me time, it also provides a clear picture of all the issues that needs to be addressed during the restoration process. She also makes a note of all the issues that she observed during initial cleaning for me to address and includes this note with each pipe that she packs. It’s a big saving on the time factor and I am really thankful to her for indulging me.

This is how the pipe came to me after Abha had worked her magic. The stampings on this pipe, as detailed above, are crisp and easily readable.The rim top surface does have a few issues that have now come to the fore after cleaning. The inner edge has minor charring between 12 o’clock and 1 o’clock direction and is encircled in yellow. The chamber walls have numerous, disjointed and very minor heat fissures which would need to be addressed. These heat fissures are indicated with green arrows. The inner edge is uneven in the 6 o’clock direction (encircled in blue). It has been my experience that these heat lines/ fissures may also appear if the complete cake has not been reamed out and once the complete carbon cake is reamed out, these lines disappear. That is what I shall try first! Through the cleaned stummel surface, the beauty of this piece of briar can be appreciated further. The beautiful bird’s eye and cross grains over the stummel will be further highlighted once the stummel has been polished and rejuvenated. I shall deal with the small nick that is observed over the front of the bowl either by filling it or may even leave it be. This nick and the scratch should be addressed to a great extent after I sand the stummel surface followed by subsequent polishing pads. The mortise is nice and clean with no ghost smells.The stem has cleaned up nicely and the oxidation is completely eliminated. One deep tooth indentation (marked in pastel blue) is seen on both the upper and lower stem surface in the bite zone. I shall address this issue with a fill of activated charcoal and CA superglue. The horizontal slot and the tenon end are clean with a full and even draw.The Process…
The first issue that I addressed was that of the stem repairs. I flamed the surface of the stem with a lighter to raise the tooth indentations on the stem. The heat from the flame of the lighter causes the vulcanite to expand and regain its natural shape, reducing the marks. I wiped the stem surface clean with a cotton pad dipped in alcohol to remove all the dust and dirt from the surface. The tooth marks which were visible after the flaming and sanding were filled with a mix of activated charcoal and clear CA superglue and set aside to cure overnight.With the stem fills set aside for curing, I worked the rim top surface. To address the uneven and charring of the inner rim edge, I topped the rim surface on a 220 grit sand paper. Though it is recommended to have a wooden board with the 220 grit sand paper firmly fixed over it, I just keep the sand paper on a flat table top, holding it firmly with my left hand and rotating the rim top over it with my right hand. I have come to realize that this set up gives me lot more freedom of movement, better control and convenience of storage. I frequently checked the progress being made as I hate to lose briar estate any more than absolutely necessary. I am pretty happy with the inner rim edge and what little darkening and unevenness remains will be masked by creating a slight bevel to the edge. This is how the rim top appears at this point in restoration. Taking these pictures, I remembered to ream the chamber to address the issue of suspected heat fissures. Using my fabricated small knife, I scraped away all the carbon from the chamber walls and followed it by sanding the wall surface using a 220 grit sand paper to a smooth surface. The chamber appears to be solid with no issues to the chamber walls. Staying with the rim, the next issue that I addressed was with the rim edges, both inner and outer. With a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and fore finger, I created a bevel on the inner edge. This addressed the issue of the uneven and out of round chamber and also reduced the darkened edge.Next, I sanded the entire stummel with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. This helps to remove the minor scratches, nicks and dings from the stummel surface. While I was working on the stummel, the stem fills had completely cured. With a flat head needle file, I worked on the filling till I had achieved a rough match with the surrounding surface and had sufficiently sharpened the button edges. I further sanded the fills with a piece of 220 grit sand paper to achieve a better match. Thereafter, I began the process of bringing a nice shine to the surface by sanding with 320, 400, 600, 800 and 1000 grit sandpapers. I applied a little EVO to the stem surface to hydrate it and set the stem aside for the oil to be absorbed in to the surface.To bring a deep shine to the stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit sandpapers. I wiped the stem with moist cloth after each pad. At the end of micromesh cycle, I polished the stem with “Before and After Fine & Extra Fine” paste. I also refreshed the stem stamping with a white correction pen. The finished stem is shown below. With the repair completed, I turned my attention back to the stummel. I wet sanded the stummel with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, wiping frequently with a moist cloth to check the progress. I really like the looks of the stummel at this point in restoration. The grains and the clean lines of this piece of briar is really appreciable. Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The contrast of the dark browns of the Bird’s eye and cross grains with the natural finish of the rest of the stummel adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel which may be insufficiently described in words and be rather seen in person. I have now reached the homestretch in this restoration project. To complete the restoration, I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding. Next, I mounted another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and is ready to join my collection. I only wish it could share with me it’s story of the past years while I enjoy smoking my favorite Virginia blend in it or maybe an English blend or maybe just keep admiring it!! The finished pipe is as shown below. P.S. I had completed this pipe (and next 6 restorations) during the months of November and December of last year. The reason for the delayed write ups is because I have moved out to a new work place and my luggage, including pipe restoration equipment, materials and pipes, were transported from old station to new place of work. My family will be moving in with me now (after a separation of nearly five years) by next month end after winding up the household in Pune. I should be settling down in to my new routine by end of April and only then will I be able to undertake any new projects. So in the intervening period, I intend to complete all my pending write ups so that I am still in touch with all the esteemed readers, who I miss very much.

A note of thanks to all the readers who have joined me in this journey that has been such a pleasure! You and your loved ones are always in our prayers…Stay home…stay safe!!

Another Of My Inherited Pipes Restored…. A “Drury Lane # 484”


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

As I was winding up my stay at the old duty station, I came across a neatly packed zip-lock pouch that was stowed away in to the deepest part of the cupboard. In that pouch were three pipes; two Comoys and one Drury Lane # 484. I remembered that the Comoy’s had stingers that needed leather gaskets and one needed a top nut for the stinger. Steve had sent me the leather gaskets while a replacement for the stinger that required top nut, was in post that was delayed for more than a year due to the prevalent worldwide pandemic situation. I decided to work on the Drury Lane and the one Comoy’s that just needed the leather gasket to be replaced.

The Drury Lane pipe is stamped on the left of the shank as “DRURY LANE” in an arch over “LONDON”, all in block capital letters. The right side of the shank surface bears the shape number “484” towards the chamber end with the COM stamp “MADE IN ENGLAND” with “MADE” at the top, “IN” in the middle, and “ENGLAND” forming the bottom of the circle (Football shaped stamping). The high quality twin bore vulcanite saddle stem bears the stamping “BITE” over “PROOF”. All the stampings are crisp and easily readable save for the stem logo which has a faint and the worn out letter P in the word PROOF.The stampings on the pipe were categorical in pointing out that the pipe is an English made and the way Drury Lane is stamped in an arch helped me narrow down the connection to early production of either Barling’s or Comoy’s brands as both had an arched stamp. To be sure of my assumptions, I visited pipephil.eu which confirmed my assumption; this brand is indeed linked with Comoy’s. Here is the link: Dra-Duk — Pipes : Logos & Markings (pipephil.eu)

Next, I visited pipedia.org for detailed information on the brand Comoy’s in general and this line of pipes in particular. The information that is given on the website makes for an interesting read and should anyone be interested in referencing the brand, the link is given below. Comoy’s – Pipedia

Further down under on the same web page, under the sub head “SECONDs MADE BY COMOY’S” is the complete list of seconds and I reproduce the same for ease of reference. The pipe on my work table finds a mention here and is highlighted in red.

Seconds made by Comoy’s
Academy Award, Ace of spades, Ancestor, Astor, Ayres, Britannia, Carlyle, Charles Cross, Claridge, Coronet?, Cromwell, Damman?, Dorchester, Dunbar, Drury Lane, Emerson, Everyman, Festival of Britain, Golden Arrow, Grand Master, Gresham, Guildhall, Hamilton (according to Who Made That Pipe), Kingsway, Lion’s Head, Lord Clive, Lumberman, Hyde Park, Lloyds, Mc Gahey, Moorgate, Newcastle, Oxford, O’Gorman, Rosebery Extra, Royal Falcon, Royal Guard, Royal Lane, Scotland Yard, St JamesSunrise, Super Sports, Sussex, The Academy Award, The Golden Arrow, The Mansion House, The Exmoor Pipe, Throgmorton, Tinder Box Royal Coachman, Townhall, Trident, Trocadero, Westminster, Wilshire.

Next, I was keen to research and link the shape code with Comoy’s pipes and at the bottom of the page is the link to Comoy’s Shape Number Chart (Comoy’s Shape Number Chart – Pipedia)

Comoy’s pipes were given shape numbers in the 1909 catalogue and also names for each shape, but it would seem that these numbers were NOT stamped on the pipes until sometime in the 1920’s. The earliest known is from 1925. The shape numbers are all 3 digits until after the Cadogan acquisition of Comoy’s in 1979, when some shapes were introduced with 4 digit numbers. However, they may have been introduced earlier in 1976, 1977 or 1978. On pre- Cadogan pipes additional letters can be found after the three numbers:

  • M on Meerschaum lined pipes.
  • P on Panel shaped bowls. ( This may not always be the case as I have now seen a photograph of a non panel Shape 309 with a P)
  • C on some shapes with curved bits. This does not seem to be universal for all curved bits and it would appear to be mainly on Princes and Bulldogs.
  • F believed to indicate a “Fishtail” bit. Verified on an early 1930’s Virgin Briar with the shape number 206F and a fishtail bit exactly like the Dunhill F/T, that was not introduced until 1950.

(S)=saddle bit – A/M=army mount – sq=squat – sq.shank=square shank

S=small – M=medium – L=large – XL=extraordinare shape – LW=lightweight shape

Circa 1975 (Pre-Cadogan) Shape Charts, courtesy Dough Valitchka which have been uploaded, finds a mention of the exact shape code seen on the Drury Lane that I am working on and is indicated with a red arrow. It is a Large Billiard with saddle stem.Here is another link from the same page which takes the readers to an absolutely well researched page on Dating of Comoy’s;

Comoy’s Dating Guide – Pipedia
Though the pipe currently on my work table is a Comoy’s second, I have attempted to date this pipe based on the stampings, particularly the COM stamp and have reproduced the relevant portions which have helped me in dating this pipe.

Made in England
This is stamped in a circle with “MADE” at the top, “IN” in the middle, and “ENGLAND” forming the bottom of the circle. This can be seen on a Cecil as early as 1910 and on an Old Bruyere of 1921 and more frequent from the 1930s. It can also appear as “MADE” arched, “IN” below, and “ENGLAND” arched the other way. These stamps are in an oval rugby-ball shape rather than a circle round shape.Thus I can conclusively say that the DRURY LANE pipe on my work table is from the period 1910 to 1930s

Initial Visual Inspection
The pipe that is currently on my work table has a classic Billiard shape with thick walls. The stummel has rich medium brown stain and is covered in dirt and grime through which flame grains can be seen around the sides of the stummel and over the shank surface while Bird’s eye adorns the front, aft, rim top and the foot of the stummel. There is a well maintained layer of cake in the chamber with heavy lava overflow over the rim top surface. The inner rim edge has a nice bevel that is covered in lava overflow. The twin bore vulcanite saddle stem is heavily oxidized with minor damage to the bite zone on either surface. The buttons on both surfaces show bite marks. The following pictures will give readers an idea of the overall condition of the pipe as it sits on my work table. Overall, the thin layer of cake and excellent condition of the stem are pointers to the fact that the pipe seems to be well looked after. It should be an easy restoration project, unless some gremlins pop up during the process. Detailed Visual Inspection
A thin and even layer of cake is seen in the chamber. The rim top surface is covered in overflow of lava, dirt, dust and grime through which a number of dents and dings can be seen. The exact condition of the inner walls of the chamber and rim top surface will be known once the cake has been taken down to bare briar and the rim top crud has been scraped off completely. The outer rim is uneven with a couple of dents/ chipped surface in 2 ‘O’ clock and 6 ‘O’ clock directions (marked in yellow circle). Only once the stummel has been thoroughly cleaned that I can be sure of my initial appreciation. The beveled inner rim edge is covered in lava overflow, masking the real condition of the rim edge. The chamber odor is strong and should be addressed to some extent once the cake has been taken down to the bare briar and the shank internals have been thoroughly cleaned. The stummel feels solid to the touch and I do not foresee any major issues with the condition of the chamber walls. To be honest with you, this being a Comoy’s seconds pipe, I had expected to find a few fills and some non-descript grain on the stummel briar. However, I was surprised to note that there are only four very minute fills (encircled in yellow) in the stummel surface and the surface boasts of some beautiful cross grains around the sides and over the shank surface while beautiful packed Bird’s eye adorns the front, aft and foot of the stummel. The stummel surface is covered in dirt and grime giving the stummel a dull and dirty appearance. The stummel surface shows a few dents and dings. It does have a quality which is seen on vintage pipes, not to forget, this is nearly an 80 plus year old pipe, but difficult to explain in words. The mortise shows minor accumulation of old oils and tars which would need to be cleaned. The fills over the stummel surface is one issue that I am not sure about dealing with since I absolutely love the old dark brown color and the patina that has developed over time that needs to be preserved and also since these fills are too minor to be noticed. A nice polish with micromesh grit pads will bring a nice shine to the stummel and highlight the grains.The twin bore vulcanite saddle stem is heavily oxidized, but otherwise in a decent condition. The bite zone on either surface shows some minor tooth indentations with a small amount of calcification at the base of the button edge. The twin holed slot and tenon opening shows accumulation of dried oils and tars. All in all, the stem presents no major damage and should be an easy clean up.The Process
I started the restoration with cleaning of the stummel as I was keen to know the condition of the walls of the chamber. I worked on the stummel by first reaming the chamber with size 3 PipNet reamer head. With my fabricated knife, I further scraped the chamber walls to remove the remaining carbon deposits and also scraped out the lava overflow from the rim top surface. Once the cake was reamed back to the bare briar, I used a 150 grit sand paper followed by 220 grit sand paper to remove all the traces of remaining cake and also to smoothen out the inner walls of the chamber surface. Finally, to remove the residual carbon dust, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. Few very minor webs of heat lines can be seen along the heel and walls of the chamber. I am not sure if these are heat lines or remnants of old cake over the wall surface. With the same sharp knife, I gently scraped off the lava overflow from the rim top surface. The inner rim edge bevel has darkened, but I don’t think it is charred. Gently running a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper along the inner edge should suffice to clean up the bevel. The issue of dents and dings over the rim top surface will be addressed by topping it over a 220 grit sandpaper.Next, I cleaned out the internals of the shank and mortise. Using my dental tool, I scraped out all the dried oils, tars and gunk that had accumulated in the draught hole and on the walls of the mortise. I finished the cleaning by running a few pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol through the mortise. I shall continue with further cleaning of the shank internals when I clean the external stummel surface.With the bowl internals clean, I moved to clean the exterior of the stummel. I used a hard bristled tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to scrub the stummel and rim top. I rinsed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the stummel surface was clean and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. The stummel surface has cleaned up nicely and the beautiful grain patterns are now on full display.With the stummel internals and externals cleaned and spruced up, I turned to address the stem issues. I cleaned the internals of the stem using hard and normal bristled pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. I addressed the deeper oxidation by sanding the entire stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. Once the oxidation was completely removed, I wiped the surface clean with Murphy’s oil soap on a cotton swab. I rubbed a little Extra Virgin Olive oil to hydrate the stem and kept it aside. The stem at this point in restoration is shown below. The deeper tooth indentations on either surface of the stem were filled with a mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal powder and set aside for the fill to cure.Now that the rim top surface is clean and free of the entire lava overflow, the extent of the darkening to the inner bevel and dents and dings over the rim top surface are fairly apparent. I addressed the darkened inner edge by running a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and index finger along the beveled surface and polished the freshly cleaned inner rim edge bevel with a piece of 600 grit sandpaper. I am very happy with the way inner rim edge bevel appears at this stage in restoration.I addressed the dents and dings over the rim top surface by topping it over a piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I checked the progress frequently to ensure that the topping is just adequate. This also addressed the issue of damage to the outer rim edge at 2 o’clock and 6 o’clock directions.The stem repairs had hardened considerably and I decided to complete the stem refurbishing. Using a flat head needle file, I reshaped the button and followed it up by sanding the stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to achieve a rough match with the rest of the stem surface. I further dry sanded the stem with 400, 600 and 800 grit sand papers. This helps to fine tune the matching of the fill with the stem surface while removing the deep rooted oxidation from the stem surface. I followed it up by wet sanding with a piece of 1000 grit sand paper to completely rid the surface of the oxidation and bring out the shine in the vulcanite. Once I was satisfied that the fills had perfectly matched with the rest of the stem surface and oxidation has been eliminated, using micromesh pads, I completed the polishing cycle by wet sanding the surface with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. The stem looks great with the fills nicely matched with the rest of the surface. I rubbed a little quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil into the stem surface.  I gave a final rub with “Before and After Extra Fine” stem polish compound from Mark to remove fine scratches from the stem surface. Then I rubbed a little quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil in to the stem surface and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite. The stem polished up nicely and appears as good as new. Turning my attention back to the stummel, I subjected the stummel to a complete cycle of micromesh polish, dry sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I paid greater attention to polish the rim top surface and the bevel created on the inner rim edge. I wiped the stummel with a moist cloth after every grit pad to remove the sanding dust left behind by the pads. This also helps in monitoring the progress being made and provides an opportunity to take early corrective action, if required. I am happy with the progress being made till now. The briar has taken on a nice deep shine with the original medium brown of the stummel and the darker brown stains to the grains contrasting beautifully. I really like the dark brown coloration and the patina that is seen over the stummel surface. Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” into the briar with my finger tips and worked it deep in to the surface and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works it’s magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful cross and Bird’s eye grain patterns on full display. The contrast of the dark browns of the grain with the light brown hues of the rest of the stummel adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush to further deepen the shine. To refresh the stem logo, I coated the stem logo with white correction ink and let it dry out completely. Once the ink had dried out, with a toothpick, I gently removed the excess ink from the surrounding surface. I am happy with the crisp stem stamp, even though the alphabet “P” is a bit worn out.To put the finishing touches, I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding. Next, I mounted another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I mounted a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and gave the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe with the aged patina to the briar looks amazingly beautiful and is now ready for its long second inning with me. P.S. I have attempted to preserve the aged patina which has developed over the stummel surface with the passage of time. I did accept the minor fills that were seen over the stummel surface and let them be as they had blended in perfectly with the rest of the stummel surface.

Even though this old vintage pipe is a seconds from the Comoy’s brand, it has the same high quality feel and geometry as one expects from the top of the line Comoy’s.

Praying for the health and safety of all the readers and their loved ones in these troubled times…

 

Half ’n Half: An Amazing Transformation Of A St. Claude Bent Billiard


Blog by Paresh

On one of my online hunts for pipes on http://www.Etsy.com/fr (French) site, I came across this beautiful full bent chubby billiard that I really liked. In fact, this pipe called out to my heart. However, the condition of the pipe was such that spending even the paltry sum the pipe commanded, did not make for a sound purchase decision and I moved ahead. A few weeks later, this same pipe again popped on my notification alert and the Seller had further offered a discount. This time around, I made the purchase and within 20 days (that’s a record speed of shipping!!), it was received by Abha and she loved the shape and its chubbiness (??). Here are a few pictures of the pipe that Abha sent me after she had received the pipe… The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank as “ST. CLAUDE” in cursive over “BRUYERE” in capital letters. The tapered bent high quality stem is stamped as “RW” which is faintly discernible through the thick layer of oxidation that is seen on this stem.At the back of my mind I knew that St Claude is a region in France that is well known for making briar pipes. To get a more accurate and detailed knowledge of the region and the society of all pipe makers in the region, I visited pipedia.org and here is what I learned (Saint-Claude – Pipedia)

Saint-Claude is a commune in the Jura department in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region in eastern France and was the world capital of wooden smoking pipes crafted by hand from the mid 19th century all the way to the mid 20th century.[1]

As early as the Middle Ages an established place of pilgrimage in Eastern France was the monastery of abbot Saint Claudius. In medieval iconography Saint Claudius was the patron saint of toymakers. The town that grew servicing the pilgrims was Saint-Claude. The pilgrims arrived from all over the Christian world, and the towns people made mementos for sale and lived off business from the pilgrims. The town also produced snuff and pipe stems made of boxwood, bone, horn and amber which they sold to Switzerland, Germany, and Austria. In time Saint-Claude became a thriving centre of wooden souvenirs, gem-setting, and luxuriously-carved pipe stems. According to local legend a Saint-Claude turner named David is credited with the making the first briar pipe. The souvenir industry of Saint-Claude supplied all the manufacturing preconditions for the making of the briar pipe. The firm of Jeantet, as early as 1807, was making and selling German type porcelain pipes, Ulm-type wood pipes and meerschaums from local wood and horn. The contemporary technology determined the shape of the pipes, and they were typically composed of wood-turned parts. Local records indicate that in 1841 there were three pipe-making firms employing twenty workers. 1854 is the year ascribed to the beginning of pipes made from briar.

Further down, the article gives out the changes in the name of the organization and it’s functioning up to 2007!!! The article has a single line on the stamp “Saint- Claude”……..

Stamp “Saint-Claude”
Pipe likely made by Butz-Choquin with JP on stem.

But on my pipe, the stamping on the stem is “R.W.” and so no headway in establishing the provenance of this beauty with piece of information!!

Towards the end, however, there was some information along with a couple of pictures that really caught my attention. Here is what it says…

Saint-Claude Briar Pipe, c. 1855
The pipe illustrated here is one of those early briar pipes made from wood turnings with the same construction as the contemporary pipe stems. It appears that this pipe was marketed to the pilgrim trade. We conclude this because of its lack of finish: the horn mouthpiece is not polished and shows file marks, the grade of the briar is low with large pits whose fillings have since fallen out, the wood is enameled not polished and all the connectors are wooden or horn screws. Of interest is the lip on the horn bit, it is a button lip.Though completely unrelated to the pipe currently on my work table, it is definitely closely related to a pipe that Steve, Jeff and my family had restored during their visit to India a couple of years back. Here is a link to that particular write-up on rebornpipes.com. The similarity is there for you to see. The Final Restoration while in Pune, India – a no name Cavalier | rebornpipes

I would really appreciate if I could be helped with establishing the provenance of this pipe.

Initial Visual Inspection
Abha, my wife, had sent me a lot of 40-45 pipes that she had cleaned up and all ready for my part of restoration process and since she had liked this pipe, it naturally found its way up in to this lot. From the images that Abha had sent, the pipe appeared to be reamed and with no serious damage to the stem, save for heavy oxidation. It was the stummel that is peppered with fills and would need a ton of work.

There are no pictures that were taken to clearly show the condition of each part of the pipe, however, as I had said earlier and the pictures that I have included above, the pipe had been reamed, the mortise had been cleaned, the stem was deeply oxidized but with no serious damage. The stummel had far too many fills on right side for my liking while the left side had a couple.

Initial Cleaning By Abha…
The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife. She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothened out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

Next she cleaned out the internals of the stem air way and immersed it in “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution (pipe is marked in yellow arrow) along with the stem of other pipes in line for restoration. Once the stem had soaked overnight, she cleaned the stem under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using Scotch Brite pad. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stem.Once The Pipe Is On My Work Table…
The cleaned up pipe presents a very clear picture of what needs to be done to restore this pipe to a decent and smoke worthy condition. I really cannot thank Abha, my wife, enough for all the help and support that she extends in my pursuance of this hobby. I proceed to carry out my appreciation of the work that needs to be done on this pipe to restore it. The cleaned up pipe, as I received it, is shown below. The chamber walls are without any heat fissures or pits and that’s a big relief. The rim top surface is peppered with dents and dings. The inner rim edge shows charring at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock direction (encircled in yellow) and should be addressed, to an extent, by topping on a piece of 220 grit sand paper. There are some minute chipped spots on the outer edge and fills over the rim top surface (encircled in blue). The condition of the chamber is good and will not require much repair work. There are no ghost smells in the chamber.The stummel surface is nice and clean and this cleaned up surface makes shiver my timbers… The right side of the stummel has the semblance of aftermath of a trench warfare battle during WW1! The surface has a large number of fills, many of which have fallen away when the stummel was cleaned. However, the right side has only a couple minor fills with some decent Bird’s eye grains seen over the surface. This clear division of surface, poor on half the left, front and heel and a decent one to the half right has me in a bit of a quandary. Should I rusticate the entire stummel surface or refresh all the fills, stain it dark, polish it and that’s it? Well, I shall cross the bridge once I reach it. The mortise is clean and air flow is smooth. Abha had cleaned the sump in the shank thoroughly and there are no traces of residual oils or tars/ gunk. The tapered vulcanite stem had cleaned up nicely. The surface still has some deep seated oxidation that will have to be removed. The upper stem surface has a couple of deep bite marks at the base of the button and also in the bite zone. The lower surface has some minor tooth indentations in the bite zone. The button edges on both the surfaces need to be sharpened. The aluminum stinger is clean on the exterior but has traces of residual oils and gunk on the inside. The seating of the stem in to the mortise is loose. The Process
The first issue that I addressed in this project was that of the stem repairs. I painted both surfaces of the stem with the flame of a lighter to raise the tooth chatter and bite marks to the surface. This also helps in loosening minor oxidation from the stem surface. I sand the entire stem surface with a folded piece of a 220 grit sand paper to remove the loosened oxidation. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and Murphy’s oil soap to further clean the surface. Even though most of the tooth indentations have been eliminated by heating the damaged stem portion, one deep indention is still seen on upper and lower surfaces in the bite zone of the stem surface. I filled the tooth indentation in the button edge on both the lower and upper stem surfaces with a mix of activated charcoal and CA superglue and set it aside for the fill to cure. With the stem fills set aside for curing, I decided to work the stummel. The other day during a Face Time video call with Steve, we discussed the best way to transform this stummel. The long and short of the discussion was that it was decided to rusticate the stummel. This would help to mask the fills and provide a very tactile feel while smoking. However, when I held the stummel and saw the beautiful Bird’s eye grains on the left, I waivered from the plan of rusticating the entire stummel. I wanted to preserve and highlight these beautiful grains while the right side was a complete mess. A thought struck me, “why not rusticate the right half while leaving the left side smooth surfaced?” I had worked on a Bari Matador Freehand that had left side sandblasted while the right was smooth and the pipe looked awesome. Here is the link to the write up for the Readers to appreciate the beauty of this pipe. A Simple Refurbishing of a Bari “Matador” | rebornpipes

Though sandblasting is not feasible given that I do not have the necessary wherewithal to do so, I thought of doing something that was within my resources and capabilities…I would rusticate the right side while leaving the left side smooth. In case the end result is not to my liking, I could always rusticate the entire stummel. With this decision finalized, I proceed with rusticating the right half of the stummel.

I drew a mental map on the look/ pattern of rustications over the stummel surface that I desired. I decided to maintain a smooth ring atop the rustication below the outer edge of the rim and also at the shank end. I used a white paper and transparent tape to mask the entire left half of the stummel, the rim top about quarter of an inch below the rim outer edge and a thin band at the shank end that I wanted to keep smooth. Covering the entire left half also covered the faint stampings seen on this pipe. From my experience, I knew that this is a very essential step as I have realized that during rusticating it is very easy to lose track and transgress over the areas and stampings which you wish to preserve. To rusticate, I firmly held the stummel in my left hand and with my right hand and began gouging out the briar. The technique is to firmly press the pointed four prongs of the modified Philips screwdriver in to the surface, rotate and gouge out the removed chunk of briar. I worked diligently till I was satisfied with the rustication and the appearance of the stummel. I cleaned the stummel surface with a brass wired brush to clear all the debris from the rustication. I decided to take a break from further rusticating the surface as the process is tiring and painful. This makes me want a better and efficient rusticating tool. I removed the demarcating tape and took stock of the progress made. I felt that the symmetry between the rusticated and the smooth surface is biased towards the smooth and also the pits and fills on the right side of the stummel are still aplenty. With a marker pen, I marked the area that would need to be rusticated further to address both the issues.  So, I got back to rusticating the remaining stummel surface along the marked line with my tool. I was extra careful not to cross the drawn line.Continuing with the stummel repairs, I removed the few old fills from the left smooth surface using a sharp dental tool and refreshed these with CA superglue and briar dust. Once satisfied that all the fills have been refreshed, I set the stummel aside for these fills to cure. While giving my right hand a rest from this task of rustication, I decided to work on the stem. The fill has cured nicely and with a flat head needle file, I sand the fill to achieve a rough match with the surrounding surface. To achieve a perfect match, I sand the filled stem surface with a 220 grit paper. Once this was achieved, I progressively moved to polishing the stem through 320, 400, 600, and 800 and finished with a 1000 grit sand paper. As expected, a clean and neat looking stem stared back at me. I rub a little Extra Virgin Olive oil into the stem surface to hydrate it and set it aside to be absorbed in to the vulcanite. Turning my attention back to the stummel, I sand down the jagged high points in the rustication to a smooth and even surface without compromising on the tactile feel to the hand. The fills too had cured and set solid. With a flat head needle file, I sand the filled spots and roughly match it with the rest of the surface. I followed it by sanding the entire left smooth surface with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to blend in the fills with the rest of the stummel surface.Next I decided to work on the damage to the rim top and edges. I topped the rim on a piece of 220 grit sand paper, checking frequently till I was satisfied that the darkened surface is addressed to a great extent and the rim top surface is nice, smooth and even. The inner and outer edges are still uneven, though much better than before topping, and shall be addressed subsequently.With a folded piece of a 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger, I created a delicate bevel on the inner and outer edges of the rim top surface. This helps to mask and address the minor dents and dings that had remained on the rim edges after topping. I was careful so as not to alter the profile of the stummel by excessive topping or creation of the bevels. I am pretty pleased with the appearance of the rim top and edges at this stage.To further define and demarcate the rusticated surface from the smooth, I picked up a trick which Steve had used few months back when he had rusticated a bald spot in the briar and cut smart grooves around the rusticated portion. The results were fantastic. Here is the link. Rusticating a Bald Spot on the Briar on a Bjarne Bent Apple | rebornpipes

Just as I had read, I mounted a thick burr on to my rotary tool to create a broad groove between the two surfaces. However, it was easier said than done! The burr just bounced off the stummel surface and no matter how firmly I pressed down on the burr, it wouldn’t cut a groove. Another Face Time video call with Steve and the issue was resolved. The trick is to hold the burr at an angle to the surface and start at slower speeds of the tool. I followed the advice and it worked. I cut a sharp groove at the shank end, along the center of the stummel and under the outer rim edge. Looks pretty cool now! Next I polished the rim top and the smooth surfaces of the stummel using micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I also polished the high spots in the rustication with the micromesh pads. I wiped the bowl with a moist cloth after each pad to clean the surface. I am happy with the appearance of the stummel at this point in the restoration. The stummel is now ready for a fresh coat of stain. I wanted to highlight the difference between the rusticated and the smooth stummel surface. I decided to stain the rusticated surface with a black dye which would contrast beautifully with the browns of the rim top, shank band and the rest of the smooth surface. I heated the rusticated portion of the stummel surface with my heat gun to open up the pores on the stummel so that the stain is well absorbed. I mixed black stain powder with isopropyl alcohol and liberally apply it over the heated surface, flaming it with the flame of a lighter as I went ahead to different self designated zones of the surface. This helps in the setting of the stain in the grain of the briar. I ensured that every inch of the rusticated surface is coated with the dye while the smooth surfaces are not stained. I set the stummel aside for a day to set the dye in to the briar surface. Once the stain has set in well, I again warm the stummel with my heat gun. This helps the stain to be absorbed and set further into the briar. I mounted a felt cloth buffing wheel on my rotary tool and gently buff the entire stummel surface using Red Tripoli to remove the stain crust. I wiped the stummel with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove any excess stain and followed it up by sanding the raised rustication with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. This is followed up by careful dry sanding of the entire stummel, especially the raised rustications with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. This lightens and highlights the high spots in the rustications.Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips, work it deep in to the sandblasts and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance over the smooth surface with the beautiful rusticated patterns on full display on the other half. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush.With the stummel set aside, I turned my attention to the stem polishing. Using the micromesh pads, I complete the polishing cycle by wet sanding the surface with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. The stem looks great with the fills nicely matched with the rest of the surface. I polish the stem with a little Extra Fine stem polish compound that has been developed by Mark Hoover to remove the last minor scratches. I rub a little quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil in to the stem surface and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite. The only issue that remains unaddressed at this stage is the issue of loose seating of the stem in to the mortise. With the flame of a lighter, I heated the tenon with the flame of a lighter till it was pliable and inserted a drill bit that was a bit larger in diameter than the tenon opening. This helps in expanding the pliable vulcanite for a snug fit. I held the tenon under cold tap water for the tenon to cool down and set the increased diameter. I also refreshed the stem stamping with a white correction pen.  To complete the restoration, I first mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel that is dedicated for use with Blue Diamond, on to my hand held rotary tool.  I set the speed at about half of the full power and polished the entire pipe after the stem and stummel were united. The Blue Diamond compound helps to erase the minor scratches that are left behind even after micromesh polishing cycle. I followed the Blue Diamond polishing by applying several coats of carnauba wax with a cotton cloth buffing wheel dedicated to Carnauba Wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine further. The finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and has undergone quite a transformation. With its perfectly balanced weight, a nice full bent shape and light weight, this is a perfect pipe for clenching while I am working in my office. This is one pipe that will make its way in to my rotation. I wish to thank our esteemed readers for sparing their valuable time to read through and any input or advice is always welcome.

Restemming and Transforming a “Hialeah” Pipe From My Inherited Lot


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

After I had completed the Butz- Choquin A Metz No. 2 pipe (Restoring An Early Butz Choquin “A Metz” No. 2 | rebornpipes), I rummaged through the fast dwindling pile of 40 odd pipes that Abha, my wife, had cleaned up for me to complete my part of further repairs and restoration work.

The pipe that I have selected is one from the huge lot of my grandfather’s pipes that I had inherited. This pipe had always caught my fancy on account of the wonderfully thin, tightly packed straight grains that are seen all around the stummel and shank and also due to its peculiar shape, a rather tall bowl (but not a stack!) with a longish shank and an equally long saddle stem. Overall, it definitely looked quirky to say the least, it’s a LOVAT shape on account of the round shank and a saddle bit but not a classic LOVAT since the stem is as long as the shank!! It’s the carver’s take on a classic shape, I guess. However, there was something about the stem that seemed wrong at the first glance. It was for this reason that the pipe always fell out of favor in the lineup of pipes for restoration. Here are a couple of pictures of the pipe that shows the pipe before Abha, my wife, had done the initial cleaning. From the pictures below, it is amply evident that the stem is not aligned straight in reference to the shank, but is skewed more towards the left (evidenced in the second picture).This pipe has some beautiful densely packed thin straight, also referred to as “Angel hair” grains all around the tall bowl and over the long shank surface. The only stampings seen on this pipe are over the left shank surface and is stamped as “HIALEAH” over “ALGERIAN BRIAR”. These stampings are crisp and clear. The long saddle vulcanite stem is devoid of any stampings.I looked for information on this brand on rebornpipes.com. Unfortunately the search yielded no results (a surprise for sure!!). Next I turned to pipedia.org to understand and establish the provenance of the pipe brand. There is not much information that was noted in the article, but was sufficient to give me an idea of the brand and period of operations. Here is the link to the webpage:-

Hialeah – Pipedia  I quote from the article; “From what I’ve found on the web HIALEAH pipes were sold by Whitehall Products Co. (a division of Helme Products) prior to 1975. Whitehall was in Wheeling, West Virginia, and Helme somewhere in New Jersey. All I’ve seen have been made of Algerian Briar and are reported to be great smokers”.

Thus, this pipe definitely dates to pre-1975

Initial Visual Inspection
Abha, in a deviation from her thumb rule of not taking any “BEFORE” pictures, had taken a few pictures of the pipe to highlight the condition of the pipe before she commenced her initial clean up for me.

The chamber had a thick layer of cake with heavy overflow of lava over the rim top surface. The inner rim edge appears to be uneven while the outer rim edge appears sans any damage. The exact condition of the edges will be ascertained once the lava overflow from the rim top surface is removed and the surface is cleaned up. The draught hole is in the dead center and at the bottom of the chamber and this construction should make it a great smoke.The stummel surface was covered in dust and grime of years of usage and subsequent storage. The stummel has developed dark hues of browns and has scratches and dings over the surface, most notably to the heel and front of the stummel. However under all the dust and grime, beautiful tight Angel hair grains are awaiting to be brought to the fore. There are a couple of fills, one to the front of the stummel and another to the shank very close to the stampings. The mortise has traces of old oils and tars, restricting the air flow through the mortise. Whether to refresh the fills or let them be will be decided once the stummel is cleaned and the fills are checked for softness thereafter.  The long vulcanite saddle stem is heavily oxidized with minor tooth chatter in the bite zone. The stem is skewed to the left immediately after the saddle portion of the stem. This flaw makes me believe it to be a shaping issue more than anything and further points to the likelihood of the stem to be handmade. Steve also concurred with my assumptions when we discussed the restoration during one of our video calls. He also pointed out that there was no way to right this wrong other than replacing the stem.Initial Cleaning By Abha…
The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 40-50 pipes and these have now reached me for further restoration). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

Next she cleaned out the internals of the stem air way and immersed it in “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution along with the stem of other pipes in line for restoration. Once the stem had soaked overnight, she cleaned the stem under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using Scotch Brite pad. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stem.

Once The Pipe Is On My Work Table…
The cleaned up pipes presents a very clear picture of what needs to be done to restore this pipe to a decent and smokable condition. I really cannot thank Abha enough for all the help and support that she extends me in my pursuance of this hobby. I proceed to carry out my appreciation of the work that needs to be done on this pipe to restore it.

As with all the cleaned pipes that Abha packs, there was a note in the zip lock pouch with issues that she had observed in the pipe. The first point was that the chamber has developed heat fissures. The second point was that she was not happy with the shape of the stem and it appeared odd. Also the seating of the stem in to the mortise was very loose. Here are the pictures of the pipe as I had received. The chamber does appear to have developed heat fissures (indicated with red arrows). The rim top surface is darkened all around, more so at the back of the rim surface. The inner rim edge is uneven while the outer edge is slightly charred in 1 o’clock direction and is encircled in yellow. Close scrutiny of the chamber walls made me realize that there is still a very thin layer of cake in the chamber and it is my experience that this gives an appearance of heat fissures! Only after the cake has been completely removed will I be able to confirm presence of heat fissures or otherwise.The stummel is nice and clean but would benefit from polishing to rejuvenate and bring a nice shine over the briar surface. There is a large fill over the left shank surface and very close to the stampings (encircled in yellow). The fill is solid and I wouldn’t take the risk of refreshing it due to its proximity to the stampings. There are a few dings to the front of the bowl (encircled in red) that would need to be addressed. The mortise has no chips or cracks to the shank face/ shank. There are a few minor pockets of old oils and tars that are seen on the walls of the mortise and would require some invasive measures to eliminate completely.Since the stem would be replaced, I shall not dwell in detail about the stem condition, but am including a few pictures of the stem to show its condition as well as give the readers a perspective about the incorrect shape imparted to the stem at the time it was crafted.The Process
The first issue to be addressed in this project was to replace the original poorly crafted stem. Steve and I went through my small stash of spare stems and selected a small bent saddle stem that was stamped on the left as “ROPP” on a steel roundel. This stem would impart a classic Lovat shape to the pipe and vastly improve the aesthetics of the pipe, or so we thought. Here is how the pipe looks with this bent saddle stem. The tenon would need to be sanded down for it to seat in to the mortise and this would be the trickiest part of this stem replacement. I would have to be very careful to sand the tenon evenly and equally from all around, frequently checking for a snug fit in to the mortise. The replacement vulcanite saddle stem is in perfect condition with no damage to the button or in the bite zone, save for some minor oxidation and very light tooth chatter. I would need to first straighten out the stem followed by sanding the tenon for a snug fit in to the mortise. Only once these issues are addressed would I be progressing to removing the “ROPP” stamped steel plate and filling the area left behind by the removal of the steel plate.

I began the restoration of this pipe by first addressing the suspected heat fissures in the chamber walls. I worked on the stummel by reaming the chamber with a PipNet pipe reamer using the size 3 head. With my fabricated knife, I removed the remaining carbon deposit. Once the cake was reamed back to the bare briar, I used a 150 grit sand paper followed by 220 grit sand paper to remove all the traces of remaining cake and also to smooth out the inner walls of the chamber surface. Finally, to remove the residual carbon dust, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. I was very pleased to note that the chamber walls are sans any damage.With the bowl internals clean, I move to clean the exterior of the stummel, specially the rim top surface. I used a hard bristled tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil soap to scrub the stummel and rim top. After the scrub with oil soap, I washed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the stummel surface was clean and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. The smooth stummel surface has cleaned up nicely with the beautiful Angel hair grain patterns on full display. There are two major fills that are now plainly visible (encircled in green), but they are solid and I shall avoid refreshing them. The darkening and unevenness of the inner rim edge is evident and over reamed in the 1 o’clock direction (encircled in yellow). The ghost smells are completely eliminated and the pipe now smells fresh, odorless and clean. The shank air way is nice and open. I am sure that the pipe will turn out to be a fantastic smoker with a full wide and open draw. Now that I had a fair idea of the extent of topping required to the rim surface, I top the rim on a piece of 220 grit sand paper to address the rim surface darkening, dents and dings. I addressed the uneven inner edge by creating a light bevel to inner edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and index finger. To further smooth out the scratches left behind by the abrasive 220 girt sand paper, I top the rim surface on a piece of 400 grit sand paper. I am very happy at the way the chamber and rim top surface appears at this point in restoration. Next, I decided to address the dents and dings on the stummel surface, notably to the front of the bowl (encircled in pastel blue). Using a whitener pen, I marked all the major areas with dents and dings as I had decided to leave the minor ones as they were. I heated my fabricated knife over the flame of a candle, placed a wet Turkish hand towel over the marked areas and steamed out the dents by placing the heated knife over the towel. The steam generated by placing a hot knife on the wet towel helps the briar to expand within these dents and dings, making for a smooth and even surface. To further even out the remaining dings, I lightly sand the entire stummel with a folded piece of worn out 180 grit sand paper. The stummel appears much better and smooth at this juncture. With the stummel repairs completed, I turned my attention to the replacement stem. The first thing that needed to be done was to straighten the stem. I cleaned the stem internals first and inserted a regular pipe cleaner through the stem airway. This prevents the airway from collapsing when the stem is heated to straighten it. With a heat gun, I heated the stem at the point where the stem was bent, rotating the stem frequently to ensure even heating. Once the stem was pliable, I straightened the stem with my hands by placing it on the flat table. After the stem had cooled down sufficiently, I held it under cold running water to set the straightened shape. Now that the stem was straightened, the next step was to ensure a snug fit of the tenon in to the mortise. Since the tenon was not too large as compared to the mortise, I got down to the arduous and time consuming task of manually sanding down the tenon with a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper till I had achieved a perfect seating of the tenon in to the mortise. My previous experience had taught me an invaluable lesson; “SAND ONCE AND CHECK TWICE”!! Here I was extra careful and vigilant while sanding the sides of the tenon and frequently checked the alignment of the stem airway, the shank airway and finally, the draught hole. Excess sanding of any one side of the tenon disturbs this alignment even though the seating may appear to be snug and seamless. I gave a final check to the progress being made and the seating was perfectly snug with all the airways perfectly aligned. I am very happy with the progress up to this point!!Close scrutiny of the seating of the tenon in to the mortise under camera magnification revealed a slight gap at the stem and shank face junction. With a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper, I sand the base of the tenon until I had achieved a seamless and flushed seating of the stem. Discerning Readers must have noticed a dark line starting from the shank end and extending for about an inch and a half towards the bowl (indicated with green arrows). I too thought (with a cringe) that the shank had cracked in the process, but let me assure you that the shank is not cracked and is in fact a dark strand of straight grain…that was really a big relief!!Once I had achieved a snug fit of the tenon in to the mortise, I checked for the flush seating of the stem face with that of the shank and realized that the stem diameter is larger than that of the shank and the extent of sanding that would be required. This would need to be addressed.   But before I could address this issue, it was necessary that the metal plate bearing the ROPP stamping be removed and the cavity created, be filled out. Once this was done, matching the entire saddle portion with the shank face would be accurate and time saving. Using dental pick and a sharp, thin paper cutter, I removed the steel plate and cleaned the gouged out surface with a cotton pad and isopropyl alcohol. I evened out the surrounding area with a worn out piece of 180 grit sand paper and filled the cavity with a mix of CA superglue and black charcoal powder. I set the fill to cure overnight.The next day, I sand the filled cavity with a piece of 180 grit sand paper till I had achieved a rough match with the surrounding saddle surface of the stem. The filled area would be perfectly matched when I sand the entire saddle portion to match the shank face.Now, to match the stem face with the shank face, I unite the stem and the shank. With a sanding drum mounted on to my hand held rotary tool, I sand the saddle portion of the stem till I had achieved a near perfect matching of the stem face with that of the shank face. I further fine tune the match perfectly by sanding it with a 220 followed by 400 grit sand paper. The match is perfect and the pipe as a whole is now looking very nice with the new stem. It still looks very plain and would need a dash of a little bling to complete the transformation!! Also, there is a need to refill the cavity left behind by the steel plate as I noticed a few ugly air pockets. I refilled it with CA superglue and charcoal powder and set it aside for the fill to cure. To add a little bling to the appearance of the pipe, I decided to attach a brass band at the shank end. I selected a band that was a perfect fit and glued it over the shank end with CA superglue and set it aside to cure.I subjected the stummel to a complete cycle of micromesh polish, dry sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I paid greater attention to polish the rim top surface and the bevel created on the inner rim edge. I wiped the stummel with a moist cloth after every grit pad to remove the sanding dust left behind by the pads. I am happy with the progress being made till now. Just look at the beautiful grain on this piece of briar!! The briar has taken on a nice deep shine with brown of the stummel and the darker brown stains to the grain contrasting beautifully. I really like the patina that is seen over the stummel surface. However, the rim top surface appears lighter than the rest of the stummel due to the topping. I stained the lighter hued rim top surface with a combination of Dark Brown over Chestnut stain pens. I set the stummel aside for the stain to set. The stain combination has helped in perfect blending of the rim top with the rest of the stummel.Next, I turned my attention back to the stem. I began the process of final fine tuning of matching the stem face with the shank face, shaping the saddle for a sharper match with the shank flow, sanding the refill in the saddle and bringing a nice shine to the stem surface by sanding with 320, 400, 600, 800 and 1000 grit sandpapers. I had attached the stem to the shank during the entire sanding job so that I do not end up shouldering the stem face. The closer I came to the perfect match, the higher grit sand paper I used. A lot of patient and diligent work, I reached the point where I felt “no more sanding… this is the perfect seating and perfect Lovat profile!!”. My mantra “LESS IS MORE” was also playing at the back of my mind. I was very pleased with my efforts of transforming the stem as I had achieved a perfect snug seating of the stem in to the mortise and a perfectly matching shank and stem face!!

To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I went through the complete set of sand papers and micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. I wiped the stem with moist cloth after each pad. At the end of micromesh cycle, I polished the stem with “Before and After Fine & Extra Fine” paste. The finished stem is shown below.Turning back to the stummel, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the Angel hair grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The contrast of the natural lighter brown patina of the stummel with the dark browns of the grain adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel. To check and verify the correctness of the alignment of the stem airway, the tenon opening, shank/mortise airway and finally through the draught hole, I did the PIPE CLEANER TEST.  The pipe cleaner passed through cleanly and without any obstruction from the slot end right through the draught hole. I checked the draw and though it was smooth, it felt a tad bit constricted. I further opened the draw by funneling the tenon end with a thin sanding drum mounted on the hand held rotary tool. The draw is now silky smooth and effortless!! Unfortunately, I missed out on taking pictures of the process, but I am sure the readers have a general idea of what had been done.I have now reached the homestretch in this restoration project. To complete the restoration, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks from the stem surface that remain from the sanding. I mounted another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe with a new brass band looks amazingly beautiful and is ready for its new innings with me and be enjoyed for a long time.