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Transforming a Sad Looking Comoy’s Second “The Golden Arrow”


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

It’s been a while that I had worked on any of my inherited pipes and decided to fish out one from the last remaining large box that I had received a few years back. The pipe that I selected to work on is a very sad and tired looking Canadian with an oval shank that just shouted as being an English made pipe.

The entire stummel is covered in dull grey patches of water stain, dust and grime through which some great cross grains over the front, aft and shank surface, awaits exposure. The pipe is stamped upper flat surface of the oval shank as “The” over “GOLDEN ARROW” over “LONDON PIPE”. The underside of the shank is stamped, starting from bowl end to shank end, with shape code “296” followed by “MADE IN ENGLAND” over “BY” over “COMOY’S”. The COMOY’S stamp is in simple block letters without serif, letter C is the same size as the rest of the letters and with an apostrophe before letter S. The stem is without any stem logo.   I have a keen interest in studying and collecting English made pipes and in this quest, I have read up as much material as I could lay my hands on and still continue on this path till date. Pipedia.org has detailed information on the origins of Comoy’s brand; it’s dating guidelines and shape chart, all aspects well supported with pictures of pipes, stampings and old flyers/ catalogues. Here is the link to the article (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Comoy%27s)

After refreshing my knowledge and based on the stamping on the pipe, I know that I am working on a Comoy’s Seconds from the 1950-1960s. This is based on the way COMOY’S is stamped, firstly, the stamp is in simple block letters without any serifs, secondly, the letter C is the same size as the rest of the letters and lastly, presence of an apostrophe before the letter S.

Furthermore, G L Pease, in his research on Comoy’s states that “Sometime in the 60’s, it the serifs were returned to the “COMOY’S” lettering, though, as mentioned above, the typeface is not as fancy as the earlier one”. (http://www.glpease.com/Pipes/Comoy.html)

At the end of the article on Comoy’s on pipedia.org, is a link to Comoy’s shape number chart. The chart tells me that the shape # 296 as seen on this pipe corresponds to a large straight Canadian with oval shank/ stem.

With the provenance of the pipe now established, I moved ahead with my initial visual inspection.

Initial Visual Inspection
The stummel is covered in dirty grayish white water stains and the surface appears dull and lifeless. The first look would dissuade anyone from even considering it for restoration. However underneath all that grime and stains, lurked a solid beautiful 60/ 70 year old English pipe. The stummel surface has a couple of scratches and dings/ dents. The chamber has a decent layer of uneven carbon cake with the lava overflowing over the rim top surface. Under the coat of lava, the rim top surface appears uneven. The inner rim edge appears uneven and charred. The mortise is filthy and shows accumulation of ash and oils and gunk. The smells of old tobacco inside the chamber and mortise are strong and acrid. It seems that my grand old man was out to prove to the world that the tapered vulcanite bite proof stem was anything but bite proof. The stem has some seriously deep tooth indentations on either surface in the bite zone. The stem would require major efforts to reconstruct the bite zone, including the buttons. Following pictures will give you a general idea of the condition of the pipe before I start my work on resurrecting the pipe. Detailed Inspection
The chamber has a decent layer of cake that is even all around. The condition of the walls of the chamber will be ascertained once the cake has been evened out. Given the solid feel and even color of the stummel, the probability of serious damage like a burn out or deep heat fissures to the walls is a distant possibility. The rim top surface is uneven and signs of having been knocked against hard edges is evident at 12 o’clock and 4 o’clock directions where the surface is chipped (enclosed in green). The beveled inner rim edge appears charred in 12 o’clock to 9 o’clock and 4 o’clock to 6 o’clock direction (enclosed in red) and is uneven along the complete edge. The outer rim edge has a few minor dings and chipped surfaces and should be easily addressed by sanding. The smells of old tobacco are pretty strong and would need to be addressed.The entire stummel is covered in dirty grey white water stains and grime, a result of the pipe being stored in some damp place for years. The stummel appears to be dull and lifeless beneath all the grime and water stains. However, beautiful cross grains can be seen along the surface underneath the grime. There a number of small scratches and road rash marks on the surface can be seen, notably over the left side of the bowl (marked in yellow). The shank is dirty and clogged with old ash, oils and tars.   The twin bore tapered vulcanite stem is deeply oxidized and has significantly deep bite marks on both upper and lower surfaces of the stem. The buttons too are damaged and rendered out of shape due to the bite marks. The airflow through the stem is laborious and could be either due to the compression of the airway due to the bite marks or could be due to accumulation of old oils, tar and gunk in the airway. I have purchased GORILLA CA glue as I had read rave reviews about it and am excited to try it out.    The Process
The first repair that I decided to tackle was the damaged stem. Before I could proceed with actual repairs, I cleaned the stem internals first. Using a thin shank brush and anti-oil dish washing soap, I cleaned the stem airway. The airway was filthier than I had imagined as can be judged from the following pictures. I took me a considerably long time, but eventually the airway was clean. I ran a couple of pipe cleaners through the stem to confirm that the airway was clean and also to dry it out. With the stem internals now clean, I moved to external cleaning of the stem surface by dunking the stem into “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. I usually dunk stems of 5-7 pipes that are in-line for restoration and the THE GOLDEN ARROW is marked in yellow arrow. I generally allow the stems to soak in this solution overnight for the solution to do its work.With the stem soaking in the deoxidizer solution, I moved on to reaming the chamber with my PipNet pipe reamer. I started the reaming process with head size 2 of the PipNet reamer blade and progressed through to head size 3. I used my fabricated knife to remove cake from areas inaccessible to the reamer blades and completed the process of removing the cake by sanding the walls smooth with a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper. I wiped the chamber with a cotton swab wetted with alcohol to clean the residual carbon dust. The chamber walls are solid and a few minor thin heat veins are visible on the aft and right side of the walls of the chamber. I shall give the chamber a bowl coating as a precautionary measure against future damage. Next, I cleaned the mortise by scraping out all the dried oils and tars from the walls with a dental tool. I further cleaned the mortise using bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol.Continuing with the internal cleaning of the chamber and mortise, I subjected it to 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 and further into the chamber. Thereafter, I packed the chamber with cotton balls to about quarter of an inch below the rim inner 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 next afternoon, the cotton and alcohol had drawn out all the remaining oils/ tars from the chamber and mortise and loosened out any residual cake and tar build up, fulfilling it’s intended task. I removed the cotton balls and ran pipe cleaners through the mortise to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk. Using my fabricated tool, I scraped out the entire loosed gunk from the mortise and further cleaned it with alcohol and q-tips. The large blobs of now moistened gunk that was removed from the mortise should give the readers an idea of how filthy the mortise was when I started the process of cleaning. The chamber now smells clean and fresh. I set the stummel to dry out naturally.    I cleaned the external surface of the stummel with undiluted Murphy’s oil soap and a hard bristled toothbrush. I cleaned the smooth rim top surface with the soap and Scotch Brite pad. The prominent dip on outer rim edge in the 12 o’clock direction is now clearly visible (marked in red). I thoroughly cleaned the mortise with shank brush and anti-oil dish washing soap. The mortise is now thoroughly cleaned and fresh. With the internal and external surface of the stummel now nicely cleaned, I fished out the stem that had been soaking in the Before and After deoxidizing solution for nearly 24 hours. I first scrubbed the stem surface with a Scotch Brite pad. I followed this scrubbing with a nice cleaning of the surface using a 0000 grade steel wool. I rinsed the stem under running water to rid the stem of the thick solution. I ran a couple of pipe cleaners to remove the deoxidizer solution from the airway.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 results were not what were expected, the vulcanite was raised a little. 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. I would like to bring out here that I had purchased a new tube of Gorilla Superglue gel after reading rave reviews and it was this glue that I had used to prepare the mix to fill in the tooth indentations. That this was a bad purchase for me personally became amply evident later during the restoration process. While the stem fills were set aside to cure, I addressed the damage to the rim top surface of the stummel by topping it on a piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I frequently checked the progress being made 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 uneven darkened rim top had been addressed completely, however, the beveled inner rim edge was still dark and the chamber was still slightly out of round (though greatly reduced) with slight charring visible in the 12 o’clock direction. I addressed this issue by simply running a piece of 220 grit sand paper along the inner rim edge bevel, till the darkening was eliminated.Next, I addressed all the dings over the stummel surface by steaming them out by heating my fabricated knife on a candle and placing it on a wet towel covering the dents. The generated steam pulls the dents to the surface leaving behind a slightly discolored and uneven patch. I evened out the discoloration and stummel surface by sanding the entire surface with a piece of 320 grit sandpaper. At this stage in restoration, I turned over the stummel to Abha, my wife, for her to work her magic in polishing the stummel while I turned my attention to the stem repairs.

The stem repair fills had cured nicely and I moved ahead with the process of filing and shaping the button end with a flat head needle file. For a better blending, I further sanded the entire stem with 220. At this stage, the fills appear as ugly grey patches that are very uneven. I hoped that further sanding with progressively higher grit sandpapers would help in blending of the repairs.I continued to dry sand the entire stem with a folded piece of 400 followed by 600 and 800 grit sandpaper and further progressed to wet sanding with 1000, 1500 and 2000 grit sand papers. However, the fills still appear dirty grey and a closer look showed the entire filled surface peppered with numerous tiny air pockets. I refilled the patches with a fresh mix of CA superglue gel and activated charcoal and set the stem aside.During the time that I was struggling with the stem repairs, Abha completed the polishing of the stummel by wet and dry sanding the surface with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. She massaged a small quantity of B & A Restoration balm and set it aside for 10 minutes for the briar to rehydrate. Thereafter, she gave a rigorous hand rub using a microfiber cloth. The appearance of the stummel at this point is truly satisfying. Once the stem refills had cured completely, I went through the complete process of sanding and shaping the fills using a needle file followed by sanding with sandpapers as described above. Though the finish is better this time around, the coloration of the patch still remains a light shade of grey and easily discernible against the rest of the stem surface. I would like to inform our esteemed readers that I had to go through the complete repairs six times before this attempt and for the sake of brevity, I deliberately kept it short. Yet, the results are not what I expected and have been achieving consistently with other brands of superglue. There was only one more issue that needed to be addressed and one that could not be ignored, being a functional issue. After I had reamed and sanded the chamber walls, I had observed very minor and superficial web of thin heat fissures/ pits all along the chamber walls. I addressed this by mixing activated charcoal and plain yogurt to a thicker consistency, just enough that it would spread easily and applied it evenly all along the chamber walls after inserting a folded pipe cleaner through the draught hole to keep it open. Once dry and set, this will not only protect the walls but also aid in faster buildup of cake.   To apply the finishing touches, I 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 and continued to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been 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 raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks beautiful and is ready to be added to my collection of inherited pipes. Thanks to all readers of rebornpipes who have spared a moment of their invaluable time in reading through this write up and as is always, your suggestions and advice are always welcome. P.S. – The opinion that I have expressed about the Gorilla CA superglue Gel is my personal opinion based on my personal experience. There are definitely others who have had fantastic results using this product, but not me.

Resurrecting A Loewe “Sloane”


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

The next pipe is also from my inheritance and is similar to the “THE GOLDEN ARROW” that I had worked on earlier. This too is a large Canadian with an oval shank and flat stem. The stummel is covered in dirt and grime accumulated over the long years of uncared for storage. Through all the grime, beautiful cross grains and swirls can be seen and are waiting to be unraveled. This pipe is stamped on the top flat surface of the oval shank as “L & Co” in a lozenge while the right side of the shank edge is stamped as “LOEWE” over “LONDON. W”. The bottom of the oval shank is stamped “SLOANE”. The stem is sans any stampings.  I have worked on Loewe & Co. pipes before and also have many in my personal collection and I am fairly well versed with this brand. However, I visited pipedia.org and refreshed my memory with the history of the pipe, dating guide and shape names. The 1930s Loewe catalog is an interesting read and also has a  pipe stamped exactly as the one currently on my work table. Here is the link to the catalog: (https://pipedia.org/images/8/88/Loewe_pipes_1930.pdf).

However, further down on pipedia.org is a link to the 1967 Loewe catalog and it has no mention of the shape name SLOANE!

I have reproduced the details relevant to dating this pipe as found on pipedia.org below.

1920-1955 middle Haymarket era

Left shank: – L & Co. (in oval)

Right shank: – Loewe London W.

Underside of shank: – shape name Made in England (encircled) this may just have been on export pipes

*Prior to 1955 Loewe had no series, stamping only the shape name on the underside of the shank.

Thus, the pipe currently on my work table dates to pre-1955.

Initial Visual Inspection
The entire pipe is covered in dirt and grime and is sticky to the touch. There are dark patches on either sides of the bowl that would need to be checked thoroughly. There is a thick layer of cake in the chamber with lava overflowing the rim top surface. The inner rim edge is chipped and damaged giving the chamber an out of round appearance. The outer rim edge too has a number of minor chipped surfaces. The mortise is clogged and the vulcanite stem is deeply oxidized with deep tooth indentations in the bite zone. The button edges are damaged due to bite marks and would need to be rebuilt and reshaped. The pictures below would give you the general idea as to the condition of the pipe. Detailed Inspection
The chamber has a thick layer of even cake with overflow of carbon over the rim top surface. The condition of this Loewe, like all other Loewe pipes that I have inherited, has seen extensive use. Such extensive use, without proper care and maintenance, may cause heat related issues along the chamber walls. Here, the condition of the chamber wall will be known once the cake is taken down to bare briar. The inner rim edge is uneven and has suspected charring at 6 o’clock direction and between 9 o’ clock to 11 o’ clock on the left and also between 1 o’ clock and 3 o’ clock directions on the right side. The inner rim damage is encircled in yellow. The outer rim edge too has not been spared any punishment. There are minor dents/ dings and chipped surfaces all along the outer rim edge, likely as a result of knocking against a hard surface to remove the dottle. The outer rim damage is encircled in red. The extent of the damage to the chamber walls and rim of this pipe will be clear once the cake is completely taken down to the bare briar and the rim top surface is free of all the accumulated crud. The ghost smell are very strong and would need to be addressed.The stummel surface is covered in dirt/ grime and feels sticky to the touch. The surface has darkened considerably on either side of the bowl (enclosed in pastel blue) and at the rear and would need to be examined up close once the stummel is thoroughly cleaned both internally as well as externally. I suspect there is a crack (encircled in green) on the right side of the bowl within the darkened area (or it could even be a scratch) and needs to be verified. However, beneath the dull grime layer, beautiful cross and bird’s eye grain await being brought to the fore. Heavy accumulation of old oils, tars, ash and gunk is seen in the mortise as expected. The tapered vulcanite stem is heavily oxidized and has deep bite marks on both the lower and upper surface in the bite zone. The button edges are deformed as a result of these tooth indentations and would need to be reconstructed. My last project had thrown up some bad experiences about the end results of using the Gorilla superglue that I had recently purchased and will try it out again this time around. If the results are not up to standard, this and the other tubes will find their way out the door. The slot and tenon end show presence of dried gunk and would need to be thoroughly cleaned. The Process
I started the process of restoration by first cleaning the stem internals with anti-oil dish cleaning soap and thin shank brushes. I scrubbed the stem surface with the soap using a Scotch Brite pad, firstly to rid the surface of old oils and gunk and secondly to remove the loose surface oxidation. I ran a couple of pipe cleaners through the stem airway to remove all the traces of soap and dry out the stem internals.Next, I moved to external cleaning of the stem surface by dunking the stem into “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. I usually dunk stems of 5-7 pipes that are in-line for restoration and the LOEWE SLOANE is marked in blue arrow. I generally allow the stems to soak in this solution overnight for the solution to do its work.The next afternoon, Abha fished out the stem from the deoxidizer solution and scrubbed it with a Scotch Brite pad to get rid of the loosened oxidation from the surface. She followed this scrub with a second scrub using 0000 grade steel wool and this helped in further removal of raised oxidation from the surface and even out the minor scratches resulting from using the Scotch Brite pad. She rinsed the stem under warm running water to completely remove the solution from the airway and slot end. She ran a couple of pipe cleaners to remove the last traces of residual deoxidizer solution from the airway and dry out the airway.  With the external and internal cleaning of the stem completed, Abha handed over the stem to me to complete the repairs. 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 results were not what were expected, the vulcanite was raised a little leaving behind two deep tooth compressions on either surfaces. The button edges and deeper tooth indentations on either surfaces of the stem were filled with a mix of CA Gorilla superglue and activated charcoal powder and set aside for the fill to cure. I really hope that this time around I get better results with using this new CA glue. Once the stem fills had cured completely, I moved ahead with the process of filing and shaping the button end with a flat head needle file. For a better blending, I further sanded the entire stem with 220. However, my worst fears came true…..I saw grey patches with air pockets, just as I had observed earlier while working on The Golden Arrow. I think the Gorilla glue does not work for me and I shall discard it after I get my regular brand of superglue in next few days. I continued to dry sand the entire stem with a folded piece of 400 followed by 600 and 800 grit sandpaper and further progressed to wet sanding with 1000, 1500 and 2000 grit sand papers. However, the fills still appear dirty grey and a closer look showed the entire filled surface peppered with numerous tiny air pockets. I refilled the patches with a fresh mix of CA superglue gel and activated charcoal and set the stem aside. After the stem refills had cured completely, I went through the complete process of sanding and shaping the fills using a needle file followed by sanding with sandpapers as described above. Though the finish is better this time around, the coloration of the patch still remains a light shade of grey and easily discernible against the rest of the stem surface. It should be noted here that just like The Golden Arrow that I had restored earlier, I had to go through the complete repairs six times before this attempt and for the sake of brevity, I deliberately kept it short. Yet, the results are not what I expected and have been achieving consistently with other brands of superglue. I rubbed a small quantity of EVO into the stem surface and set it aside for the vulcanite to absorb and hydrate. With the stem repairs completed, save for the polishing cycle, I started with the stummel repairs. I started with reaming the chamber with my PipNet pipe reamer using head size 1 of the PipNet reamer blade and progressed through to head size 2. I used my fabricated knife to remove cake from areas inaccessible to the reamer blades and completed the process by sanding the walls smooth with a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper. I wiped the chamber with a cotton swab wetted with alcohol to clean the residual carbon dust. The reasons for darkened sides of the bowl that I had noted during my detailed inspection were now evident. There are signs of charring to the walls of the chamber on the sides and at the bottom of the bowl. Also there are a few heat lines along the walls of the chamber. All these issues are indicated by green arrows.I gave a preliminary cleaning to the mortise and shank internals using q-tips and pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol. I shall continue with thorough cleaning of the shank internals during the external cleaning of the stummel. Next, I cleaned the external surface of the stummel with undiluted Murphy’s oil soap and a hard bristled toothbrush. I cleaned the smooth rim top surface with the soap and Scotch Brite pad. The darkened areas over both sides of the stummel and the rim top surface are now clean, exposing the gremlins hidden beneath the layer of dirt. I followed up the external cleaning of the stummel with internal cleaning of the mortise and shank using anti oil soap and shank brushes.  This external cleaning of the stummel has now clearly defined the suspected crack that I had noted during my detailed inspection (encircled in yellow). Also the internal cleaning of the chamber has brought the charring of the sides of the chamber walls to the fore (encircled in green). I now need to ascertain if this external crack is a direct result of the observed damage to the walls of the chamber. If it is so, it’s a clear sign of this crack developing into a burn out due to the thinning of the chamber walls.   Continuing with the internal cleaning of the chamber and mortise and also to ascertain if the external crack over the stummel surface is a result of the damage to the chamber walls, I subjected it to 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 and further into the chamber. Thereafter, I packed the chamber with cotton balls to about quarter of an inch below the rim inner 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 observed that the alcohol had seeped out from the crack (encircled in yellow) as can be seen from the picture below. This needs to be addressed. However for now, I topped it up once again and set it aside overnight.By next afternoon, the cotton and alcohol had drawn out all the remaining oils/ tars from the chamber and mortise and loosened out any residual cake and tar build up, 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. Using my fabricated tool, I scraped out the entire loosed gunk from the mortise and further cleaned it with alcohol and q-tips.While I was working on the stummel, Abha polished the stem by wet sanding the surface with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. She applied a little EVO to the stem surface for it to be absorbed in to the rubber. Though the grey repair patches are visible in the pictures, it is not so glaring in person.Staying with the stummel repairs, I first decided to stabilize the crack. I marked the end points of the cracks and drilled counter- holes using 1 mm drill bit mounted on a hand held rotary tool. I filled the crack and counter-holes with clear CA superglue and set it aside to cure.A while later, once the crack fills had sufficiently hardened; I addressed the rim top darkening and unevenness by topping the surface on a piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I frequently checked the progress being made as I hate to lose briar more than what is absolutely necessary. The chamber now appears more out of round than before and would be addressed by creating a bevel over the inner rim edge.With a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper pinched between my forefinger and thumb, I imparted a nice bevel to the inner rim edge. This masked the out of round appearance of the chamber and also eliminated the minor charring over the edges.   Next, to protect and isolate the chamber walls from coming into direct contact with the burning tobacco and prevent a burn out, I coated the walls of the chamber with an even layer of J B Weld. J B Weld is a two-part epoxy Cold Weld in two tubes; hardener and steel which are mixed in two equal parts (ratio of 1:1) with hardening time of 5-6 minutes and complete curing time of 6-8 hours. I poured the contents of the two tubes on to a plastic sheet and mixed it well. I inserted a petroleum jelly coated regular pipe cleaner through the draught hole to prevent it from getting blocked due to the J B Weld mix. I applied this mix, as evenly as possible, over the entire chamber wall surface. I worked fast to ensure an even coat over the chamber walls before the weld could harden and set the stummel aside for the application to harden and cure overnight. The J B Weld coat had hardened completely by next day evening. I mounted a sanding drum onto my hand held rotary tool and setting the speed to half of the full RPM, I sanded the excess coat from the chamber walls. To further fine tune and keep the coat to a minimum thickness, I further sanded the coat with a 220 grit sand paper till I had a coat of a thickness that was just sufficient to protect the briar underneath. Here is how the chamber appeared at this stage.At this same stage, I also sanded and evened out the fills over the crack with a flat needle file and further matched it by sanding it with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper. Unfortunately, I missed out on taking pictures of this process.

Abha completed the polishing of the stummel by wet sanding the surface with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. She wiped the stummel with a moist cloth in between the pads to gauge the progress being made. She massaged a small quantity of Before & After Restoration balm and set it aside for 10 minutes for the briar to rehydrate. Thereafter, she gave a rigorous hand rub using a microfiber cloth. The stummel now has a nice vibrant shine to it with the beautiful cross grains and bird’s eye grains resplendent in all their glory. I just can’t thank Abha enough for her help in polishing the stems and stummel of all the pipes that I restore. After I had protected the heel and the walls of the chamber with a coat of J B Weld, it was necessary to prevent this coat from coming into contact with the burning tobacco. I addressed this by mixing activated charcoal and plain yogurt to a thicker consistency, just enough that it would spread easily and applied it evenly all along the chamber walls after inserting a folded pipe cleaner through the draught hole to keep it open. Once dry and set, this will not only protect the walls but also aid in faster buildup of cake. I set the bowl aside for the bowl coat to cure for 72 hours.72 hours later, to apply the finishing touches, 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 to polish out the minor scratches. Next, I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel and setting the speed to ¼ of the full power, I applied a coat of carnauba wax over the stummel and the stem. I worked the complete pipe till the time all the wax was used up for polishing the stummel and the stem. The pipe now boasts of a beautiful and lustrous shine. I vigorously rubbed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine and also to clean away any residual wax that had been left behind. I am very happy with the way this beauty has turned out. P.S. I am personally not happy with the way the stem repairs have turned out and will surely rework on it once the CA glue that I regularly use reaches me in next couple of weeks.  A big thank you to all the readers of this write up for sparing your valuable time and hope for your continued patronage. Until the next write up, be safe and healthy…

Pipe Gods Smiled And I Got Not One But Three Les Wood Pipes… Restoring a Les Wood Poker


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Les Wood pipes are on every collector’s either wish list or in personal collection and I am no exception, though I was in the former category up until now. These pipes are as rare as hen’s teeth and very rarely make an appearance on the estate pipe market and whenever they do, the stratospheric prices made them beyond my reach. After waiting for years on end, I came across a gentleman desirous of parting with his Les Wood pipes collection. We discussed the price and I discussed with Abha, my wife, discussed some more with the gentleman, again discussed a lot more with my wife and thereafter again discussed some with the gentleman and after all these discussions, three Les Wood pipes made their way from the European Union to India.

The first of the three Les Wood pipes that I decided to work on is a rusticated large, stout classic poker with a beautiful Cumberland stem. The large rusticated chunky stummel feels great in the hand and given its size, it is definitely not a light weight. The pipe is stamped on the smooth surface of the foot of the stummel as “FERNDOWN” in a slight arc over “BARK” over “HAND MADE IN” over “ENGLAND” over “LES WOOD”. Running oblique to the FERNDOWN BARK on the left side are three stars one below the other. The Sterling silver band bears the stamp “L & JS” in a rectangular cartouche over “.925”. The Cumberland stem is stamped on the left side as “L J S”I had read about Leslie John Wood sometime back when I read an article on English pipes and pipe carvers. I remembered that he worked for Dunhill’s as a silversmith. Just to refresh my memory, I visited Reborn Pipes and sure enough, Steve had indeed worked on and researched Les Wood. It’s very comprehensive and is recommended as a read. Here is the link to the write up.

https://rebornpipes.com/2021/05/20/this-restoration-is-a-bit-of-a-resurrection-of-a-beautiful-ferndown-root-3-dublin/

From the article, I know I am working on a ‘BARK’ grade pipe (ca. 90%, rusticated, dark brown and black) in size 3 from Les Wood.

Initial Visual Inspection
The pipe is actually in quite a good condition. The chamber has a very thin layer of cake that is even all around and is rock hard. The stummel surface feels solid to the touch and thus, I don’t anticipate any serious issues with the chamber walls. The rim top surface is smooth and devoid of any cake build up or darkening over the surface. The rim edges are in pretty good condition too. The stummel finish has faded more towards the foot of the stummel and has a lot of dirt and grime ground into the rusticated finish. This makes the stummel appear dull, lifeless and lackluster. The silver band at the shank end is deeply oxidized and appears blackened. The Cumberland stem is deeply oxidized with a couple of minor tooth indentations in the bite zone. Here are a few pictures of the pipe as it sits on my worktable. It’s a nice solid pipe with a robust construction yet elegant in its huge size and shape. This one will take your breath away once it is restored, I think.

Detailed Inspection
There is a thin layer of cake in the chamber that is even all around. The cake is hard and compact and this makes me believe that it has been regularly reamed to maintain the correct cake thickness in the chamber. The condition of the chamber walls can be ascertained only once the cake has been taken down to the bare briar; however, I do not foresee any major issues with the chamber walls. The smooth rim top has no dents and dings and overflowing lava. The condition of the inner rim edge will be known once the complete cake has been removed and the surface thoroughly cleaned. The chamber does have smells of old tobaccos and would need to be addressed.The rustication on the stummel surface are very fine and shallow. It is a very uniquely rusticated stummel for sure. The stain has faded from the lower half of the bowl and lower surface of the shank. The surface looks tired and lifeless and would benefit from a nice thorough TLC routine. The shank is quite clean and has no signs of accumulated old oils and gunk. The draw is nice and smooth. The Cumberland stem is deeply oxidized with minor tooth chatter in the bite zone on either surface. The horizontal slot opening is clean and the tenon shows accumulation of old dried oils and gunk. The airflow through the stem is smooth and easy. That my detailed appreciation of the condition of this pipe was completely off the mark became amply evident as I went through the process of refurbishing this pipe.

The Process
I started the process of refurbishing this pipe with internal cleaning of the stem and this is where my initial appreciation of the stem condition faulted. Using thin shank brushes and anti-oil dish washing soap, I cleaned the stem airway. I have modified this process of cleaning the stem airway by doing away with pipe cleaners and alcohol as it saves me a ton of pipe cleaners, which is a precious commodity for me here in India. To say that the airway was filthy, would be an understatement as is evidenced by the following pictures. The dark smelly and sticky goo that was being dislodged with each passing of the shank brush was never-ending. However, I persevered with my efforts till only white clean foam came out of the stem airway, indicating that the airway was nice and clean. I ran a couple of pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol through the airway to dry it out and make sure that there are no traces of soap and gunk hidden in the airway.With the stem internals now clean, I moved to external cleaning of the stem surface by dunking the stem into “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. I usually dunk stems of 5-7 pipes that are in-line for restoration and the FERNDOWN BARK is marked in red arrow. I generally allow the stems to soak in this solution overnight for the solution to do its work.While the stem was set aside to soak in the deoxidizer solution, I moved on to removing the thin (????) layer of cake from the chamber walls. Boy was I wrong in my assessment of thin layer and how! I started the reaming process with head size 2 of the PipNet reamer blade and progressed through head sizes 3 and 4. The blades kept cutting through the layers of cake and there seemed no end to it. Finally, I resorted to using my Kleen Reem pipe tool extended to its max width to divest the chamber walls of its entire carbon layer. The chamber is huge ! I used my fabricated knife to remove cake from areas inaccessible to the reamer blades and completed the process of removing the cake by sanding the walls smooth with a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper. I wiped the chamber with a cotton swab wetted with alcohol to clean the residual carbon dust. The chamber walls are solid and the minor thin veins that are visible over the walls are not heat fissures but an ultra thin layer of carbon which will be addressed once the cake is loosened up after a salt and alcohol bath, or at least that is what I hope for. Next, I cleaned the mortise by scraping out all the dried oils and tars from the walls. My assessment of the mortise being clean was proved wrong by the amount of crud that was scraped out. The icing on the cake was when I tried to clean the airway with a folded pipe cleaner dipped in alcohol and it just wouldn’t pass through. I realized that the airway was clogged to some extent. Using the drill bit attachment from the Kleen Reem pipe tool, I cleaned out the accumulated oils and tars from the airway and ran a folded bristled pipe cleaner dipped in alcohol through the airway. I checked the draw and if earlier I felt the draw was smooth and open, after the cleaning, it was surreal! The draw was something I had not experienced earlier. The air literally gushed through the airway. This one is a sure fire excellent smoker.Continuing with the internal cleaning of the chamber and shank, I subjected it to 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 and further into the chamber. Thereafter, I packed the chamber with cotton balls to about quarter of an inch below the rim inner 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 next afternoon, the cotton and alcohol had drawn out all the remaining oils/ tars from the chamber and mortise and loosened out any residual cake and tar build up, 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. Using my fabricated tool, I scraped out the entire loosed gunk from the mortise and further cleaned it with alcohol and q-tips. I also scraped the moist cake from the chamber using my knife and sanding it smooth with 180 grit sandpaper. The chamber now smelled clean and fresh and the tiny veins observed in the chamber were eliminated. I set the stummel to dry out naturally. I cleaned the external surface of the stummel with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a hard bristled toothbrush. I cleaned the smooth rim top surface with the soap and Scotch Brite pad. I thoroughly cleaned the mortise with shank brush and anti-oil dish washing soap. I polished the smooth rim top surface by dry sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads.  Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” into 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 had a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful rustication patterns on full display. I have been using this balm ever since I embarked on this journey and it is this part of restoration that I always look forward to. I further buffed it with a horse hair shoe brush. This pipe really oozes of a very high quality, in fact one of the best that I have come across. Now that the stummel refurbishing was nearly done and also the stem had now been soaking for more than 24 hours, I removed the stem from the solution. I first scrubbed the stem surface with a Scotch Brite pad, always being mindful of the stem logo on the left side. I followed this scrubbing with a nice cleaning of the surface using a 0000 grade steel wool. I rinsed the stem under running water to rid the stem of the thick solution. I ran a couple of pipe cleaners to remove the deoxidizer solution from the airway. The beauty of a Cumberland stem with swirls of red and black can now be appreciated once the heavy oxidation has been eliminated.The above cleaning also gave a clearer picture of the tooth chatter on either surface in the bite zone. This tooth chatter was very minor and would be easily addressed during the sanding process using various grit sandpapers followed by micromesh pads. I dry sanded the entire stem with 320, 400, 600 and 800 grit sand papers followed by wet sanding using 1000, 1500 and 2000 grit sand papers. This progressive use of higher grit sandpapers helps to, firstly,  reduce the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive ones, secondly, completely eliminate the oxidation and imparting a clean shine to the stem surface. Thirdly, this also helped to even out the minor tooth chatter from the bite zone. I applied a little EVO and set the stem aside for a few minutes. This stem, as the rest of the pipe, is a real beauty.I went through the 3200 to 12000 grit micromesh pads to dry sand the stem. The stem now has a nice deep shine with the swirls coming to life as they dance around the entire stem surface. I rubbed a small quantity of EVO and set the stem aside for the oil to hydrate the stem surface. This is a beautiful stem and I cannot refrain from constant admiration of it. Have a look for yourself….I painted the stem logo L J S using a Gold paint glitter pen and wiped off the excess paint. The stem logo is now nice and prominently visible. I completed this project by hand polishing the stummel with Halcyon II wax. I rubbed this polish deep into the rustication and after a couple of minutes, vigorously hand buffed the stummel with a microfiber cloth to a deep shine. I polished the stem with Blue Diamond compound and subsequently with carnauba wax using my hand held rotary tool. This is a gorgeous looking pipe and will be an integral part of my collection of contemporary Pipe Carvers. I wish to thank each one for sparing their valuable time to read through this write up and praying for the health and safety of you and your loved ones.

Reconstructing The Rim And Sprucing Up a 1961 Dunhill Bruyere Billiard


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

It’s been a long while since I have posted any write ups here and the primary reason is my laziness. I know and accept that these are very useful as references and as records of the work done till date and yet I enjoy restoring pipes more than doing the write ups.

One of my friends here is an avid collector of pipes and he expressed a desire to expand his collection restricted only to English made pipes. He wanted a Dunhill with crisp stampings (that is always a challenge!) and so began my hunt for one. I found one on eBay Germany, which had a seriously damaged rim edge but otherwise in great condition for a 61 year old pipe. I discussed this piece with my friend and soon the pipe made its way to India and is now on my work table. It’s a classic Billiard with a fishtail stem and a flat bottom that makes it a sitter. The briar is flawless and without any fills or imperfections as expected from Dunhill. The pipe is stamped on the left near the bowl and shank junction as “59” followed by “F/T” followed by “DUNHILL” over “BRUYERE”, all in capital letters, towards the shank end. The right side of the shank is stamped as “MADE IN” over “ENGLAND” with suffix 1 after letter D and followed by an encircled “4” and letter “A”. The upper surface of the stem bears the trademark White Dot of the brand.    The brand Dunhill is well researched and documented and pipedia.eu has reams of information on the same. However, of interest to me here is the dating of this pipe, which is fairly straight forward. The shape code 59 denotes Dunhill’s Billiards shape with tapered stem while F/T denotes fish tail style stem. The suffix numeral 1 after letter D denotes 1961 as the make year because firstly, the numeral is not underscored; secondly, it is the same size as the preceding letter D and finally, the letter ‘A’ denoting the finish is slightly larger than the circle enclosing the group size. The encircled letter 4 denotes the group size as 4 and the letter ‘A’ points to the Bruyere finish on this pipe.

With the dating conclusively established, I moved ahead with the initial inspection of the pipe.

Initial Visual Inspection
The first thing that one notices is the damaged rim edge, both aft and at the front. The chamber appears to have been reamed and is sans any cake. There is no lava overflow atop the rim surface. The stummel surface is dull, dirty and lackluster. Being a Bruyere finish, the stummel does not boast of excellent grains but it does prove its quality by being a flawless piece of briar without having a single fill or imperfection. There is a slight ghosting smell and would need to be addressed. The shank bottom is flattened making it a sitter. The stem is in fairly great condition with only a few bite marks over the button edges and some minor tooth chatter in the bite zone. Overall, it’s a very decent pipe and I hope to repair and restore this pipe to its former glory. Detailed Inspection
The chamber appears to have been reamed before the pipe was designated for sale by the previous owner and thus the chamber is devoid of any cake. All that remains is some dust and fine carbon particle accumulation along the walls of the chamber. The rim top is darkened but without any overflowing carbon. However, it’s all together a different ball game when it comes to the rim edges. The most significant damage is to the aft outer rim edge where a large chunk of briar has chipped away, most likely the result of a fall from some height. Similarly, the front of the rim outer edge too has a small chunk of briar missing and appears to be the result of knocking against a hard edge. Both these damages are encircled in yellow. The inner rim edge shows signs of charring in the 6 o’clock and 12 o’clock directions. These areas have been encircled in red. The chamber odor is light but present and would need to be completely eliminated. The stummel feels solid in the hand and the surface is sans any dents and dings. However, the surface is dull and dirty with the finish fading out from over the surface. A nice cleaning and polish of the stummel should make things interesting. The mortise and shank walls are clean. The tapered fishtail vulcanite stem is in good condition. There are some tooth indentations on the button edge on the upper surface with tooth chatter in the bite zone on either surface. The stem surface shows some minor oxidation that would be easily addressed. The stem airway is open but would benefit from a thorough internal cleaning.   The Process
I started the process of restoration by first cleaning the stem internals with anti-oil dish cleaning soap and thin shank brushes. I scrubbed the stem surface with the soap using a ScotchBrite pad, firstly to rid the surface of old oils and gunk and secondly to remove the loose surface oxidation.I dunked the stem into the deoxidizer solution overnight for the oxidation to be pulled out to the surface. I generally allow the stem to soak in the deoxidizer solution overnight. While the stem was sat aside in the deoxidizer solution, I moved ahead to deal with the stummel repairs. I started with reaming the chamber with a size 1 head of the PipNet reamer and progressed to size 2 head. Using my fabricated knife, I gently scrapped away the cake which could not be reached by the reamer head. I further cleaned the chamber with a folded piece of 180 grits sand paper to sand out the remaining traces of cake and expose the walls of the chamber to ascertain that there were no cracks/ heat fissures. I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol to remove the carbon dust left behind by all the reaming and sanding process. This also reduced traces of old smells from previous usage. The walls of the chamber were solid with no damage.I cleaned the shank walls and mortise with a hard bristled pipe cleaner dipped in alcohol. I used a specifically fabricated scoop to scrape out the gunk from the shank walls and face of the mortise wall. There was not much to clean though!  Prior to moving ahead with the rim repairs, I decided to address the strong ghost smells from the chamber. To eliminate the ghost smells from the pipe, I decided to treat it with salt and alcohol. I used 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 into the mortise and through the draught hole in the chamber. Thereafter, I packed the chamber with cotton balls to about quarter of an inch below the inner rim edge. I 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 next afternoon, the cotton and alcohol has drawn out all the remaining oils and tars from the chamber and mortise and the cotton and alcohol had fulfilled its intended task. I removed the cotton balls and ran pipe cleaners through the mortise to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk. The chamber now smelled clean and fresh. I set the stummel to dry out naturally. The next day, I fished out the stem and cleaned it under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using ScotchBrite pad. I further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stems with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stems and set the stem aside for the oil to be absorbed.  I heated the surface of the stem with the flame of a lighter to raise the tooth indentations to the surface and followed it up by sanding with a piece of folded 220 grit sand paper. This helps to even out the raised surface, address minor tooth chatter and also remove the deep seated oxidation. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove the raised oxidation and the resulting sanding dust. The tooth indentations over the button edge, though greatly reduced, were still prominent and would need to be addressed.    Next I filled these tooth indentations with a mix of organic charcoal and clear superglue and set the stem aside for the fills to cure.   Once the fills had cured nicely, I moved ahead and began the process of filing and shaping the button end with a flat head needle file followed by further sanding the repair with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper.  To achieve a better blending of the repaired surface with rest of the stem as well as to polish the stem, I dry sanded the entire stem with 320, 600 and 800 grit sand papers followed by wet sanding using 1000, 1500 and 2000 grit sand papers. This progressive use of higher grit sandpapers helps to reduce the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive ones while completely eliminating the oxidation and imparting a clean shine to the stem surface.  To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I went through the dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, and wiped the stem with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rehydrate the vulcanite. The repairs have blended in very well and the stem now looks shiny black and beautiful. The finished stem is shown below.  With the stem repairs and polishing now completed, I turned my attention to the stummel repairs and refurbishment. Using a hard bristled tooth brush dipped in undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap; I very deliberately scrubbed the surface of the stummel and the rim top. I also cleaned the mortise and shank internals using anti-oil dish washing soap and shank brush. I rinsed the stummel under warm running water and dried it using paper napkins and soft cotton cloth. The original reddish dye was also washed away to some extent, but that was not worrisome as I would be re-staining it after repairs. Next, I filled up the large areas of missing briar from the front and back of the outer rim edges with CA superglue and briar dust using the layering method. The only disadvantage of this method is the presence of large number of air pockets which necessitates repeated refilling with glue and briar dust. Once I was satisfied with the repairs, I set the stummel aside for the mix to cure completely.  The next evening, the repairs to the edge had completely cured and I moved ahead by filing and rough shaping with a flat head needle file. I further fine tuned the blending by sanding it down with a 150 grit sand paper. Here is how the repaired area appears at this stage. I am very pleased with the way this repair has progressed.    Thereafter, I took the stummel to the topping board with the aim of making the rim top surface smooth and even as the rim top was also rebuilt along with the edge. I topped the rim surface on 220 grit sandpaper with even circular rotations and frequently checked the progress being made. This step also helped to minimize the charring to the inner rim edge. I shall further mask the damage by creating a slight bevel to the inner edge. I am very pleased with the progress being made thus far. Once the repairs to the stummel were completed, it was time to polish and stain the stummel. I dry sanded the entire stummel with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, wiping the stummel with a moist cloth after every pad. I massaged a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” into 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. I further buffed it with a microfiber cloth. I had hoped that the balm would work it’s magic on the filled area and help in blending it a bit, but unfortunately that did not happen. Well, moving on to the staining process after this step… While refreshing my readings about Dunhill lines, I remember having read that Dunhill achieved the trademark Bruyere color by having an undercoat of dark brown stain followed by deep red color stain. And that’s exactly what I decided to follow with a slight modification. I would first stain wash the stummel with DB stain and thereafter stain it deep red.

I mixed a small quantity of Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye with isopropyl alcohol to dilute it and applied it to the stummel with a folded pipe cleaner after heating the stummel with a heat gun. I let this stain wash set for a few minutes and vigorously wiped it down with a clean cotton swab. I repeated this process a couple of times till I was satisfied with coloration of the stummel. The next afternoon, I again heated the stummel surface with a heat gun and applied Fiebing’s Oxblood stain with a folded pipe cleaner. As I painted the stummel with stain over sections at a time, I lit the dye using a lighter which burns the alcohol in the aniline dye and sets the dye pigmentation in the wood. After fully saturating the stummel and covering the whole surface, including the rim top, I set the stummel aside to rest for several hours for the stain to set. A few hours later, I wiped the stummel with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl alcohol to remove any excess stain from the stummel surface and dry polished the stummel with 3200 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. The repairs seem to have blended in pretty well to the naked eye, but under a camera, the repairs mark their presence. Yeah, I am pretty happy with the end result. This now gets me to that part of the process where I get to savor the fruits of my labor until this point, that being the final polishing with Blue Diamond and Carnauba wax!

I began the final polishing cycle by mounting a cotton cloth buffing wheel onto 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 and continued to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mounted a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and gave the pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buff using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe is as shown below and will soon make it’s way to my friend here for many more years of happy smokes. Thank you for reaching thus far with the write up and really appreciate you being part of my journey in the world of pipe repairs.

Freshening Up A Pair Of WDC Meerschaum Bowl, Bakelite Base And Redmanol Stem Pipes In A Presentation Case Continued…


Blog by Paresh Despande

I had been working on a pair of WDC pipes that came in a beautiful well preserved Presentation case. I have completed researching and refurbishing the first pipe, a straight Bulldog. Though I had worked on both these pipes simultaneously, I have done the write up in two parts.

For detailed information on the brand and other general information about the pipe and material used here, please read PART I of this series.

PART II: – BENT BULLDOG

Initial Visual Inspection

The condition of the pipe points to the fact that this pipe has seen significantly more use than the straight Bulldog. There is a thick cake in the chamber with lava overflow over the rim top surface. The base and shank shows heavy accumulation of tars and crud. The brass rim top cover over the Bakelite base/ shank is also covered in dried oils and tars. The Bakelite shank is dull and covered in completely dried out dirt and grime. The brass shank band at the shank end shows signs of wear but not badly damaged. The Redmanol stem is dull and lackluster with a few tooth indentations on either surface in the bite zone. All said, the condition of the pipe is not bad at all. Detailed Inspection
The three parts of the pipe are as shown below. The condition of the short threaded meerschaum bowl, filthy Bakelite shank and the bent Redmanol stem with threaded tenon all point to heavy use.The Meerschaum bowl has a thick layer of carbon in the chamber. The cake is soft and dry. The single draught hole at the heel of the bowl is partially clogged restricting the aperture opening. There is a thick layer of lava overflow on the rim top surface. There are a couple of spots where the white of the Meerschaum peeks out of the rim top surface but these are just spots from where the dry soft carbon cake had peeled off. The threads at the bottom of the bowl have worn out a bit but still firmly threads in to the Bakelite shank without any give or play. The convex bottom of the bowl is covered in dried ash and crud. There are a few scratches, nicks and dings over the surface but they are all very minor and do not detract from the beauty of the bowl.   The Bakelite base/shank shows heavy accumulation of old dried oils, tars and ash in the trough that houses the Meerschaum bowl. The threads in the base are all intact but covered in oils and grime. The brass rim top ring is covered in grime. Close scrutiny of the shank surface under magnification revealed a crack (indicated in green) along the seam running from the top front of the bowl to about half way to the foot of the Bakelite base. I would first need to clean the internals of the base to ascertain if this crack extends inside. This was an unanticipated damage, but one that would need to be addressed. The mortise is clogged with dried oils and gunk making the draw laborious and constricted. The bent Redmanol stem is dull looking but with a nice cleaning and polishing will add to the visual treat of the completed pipe. The stem airway has darkened considerably due to dried gunk that accumulated along the walls of the airway. There is some minor tooth chatter and couple of deeper tooth indentations on either surface of the stem. The round orifice and the threaded tenon are covered in gunk. Overall, there is not much damage to the stem and should clean up nicely.The Process
In normal course, I would have addressed the shank repairs first. However, since I worked on the pair concurrently, I first reamed the chamber with my smaller fabricated knife followed by sanding the walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. This removes cake completely and evens out the chamber wall surfaces. I scraped off the dried oils and tars from the bottom of the bowl and also from in between the threads. A wipe using isopropyl alcohol on a cotton swab ensured that the carbon dust that remained is completely lifted from the wall surface and the ghost smells are eliminated. I was pleased to find smooth and solid chamber walls. With the sharp knife, I gently scraped off the lava overflow from the rim top surface. I would continue further cleaning of the rim top during the refurbishing process. As I working the Meerschaum bowl, out of the blue, a round thin ring come off the bottom of the bowl and my heart sank… Did the bottom of the bowl just break in my hand? I heaved a sigh of relief when I realized that it was nothing more than a spacer that was cut out of a Greeting card. But it was so well cut and matched, that it missed my inspection. Now I am beginning to understand why the bowls were interchanged on the pipes in the first place. The long neck Meerschaum bowl with three draught holes should belong to this bent Bulldog but was switched with the shorter neck bowl with single hole. The crack along the seam must have been opening up as the Meerschaum bowl was threaded in to the base, pushing the bowl further down in to the base. The long neck of the bowl scraped the heel of the base, restricting the air flow. Thus, the short neck bowl from the straight Bulldog was swapped with this long neck and the paper washer was installed to make the seating of the short neck Meerschaum bowl in to the base airtight. With this modification, the bent Bulldog became a better smoker than the straight Bulldog and hence was more extensively used.I wiped the external surface of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil soap on a cotton swab. While cleaning, I was especially deliberate around the threads and over the rim top surface as I wanted to get rid of the entire gunk from those areas. Though the bowl cleaned up well, the rim remains darkened, akin to burning marks. This would need more invasive methods to clean away. The scratches and dings that are now visible will be left as they are for being a part of the journey of this pipe till date. I wiped the bowl with a moist cloth to remove the soap and grime that was left behind. Using folded piece 220 grit sandpaper, I sand the rim top to remove the darkening over the surface. Though not completely eliminated, the rim surface looks now looks much better. I handed over the cup to Abha, my wife, to work her magic in polishing the cup. She polished the rim top surface and rim edges with micromesh pads. She then went on to dry sand the entire stummel with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth to remove the dust that was left behind by the sanding. I had requested her to minimize the scratches but not necessarily remove them. These lacerations and dings must have had a history and I wanted to preserve it. She did a fantastic job of polishing the meerschaum cup to a nice deep shine.  As Abha was polishing the Meerschaum bowl, I worked on the stem repairs. I first cleaned the stem surface and airway using anti-oil dish cleaning soap and thin shank brush and rinsed it under warm running water to remove the entire gunk from the airway. I also cleaned up the threaded tenon with a tooth brush and soap. To finish the cleaning, I ran a few bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol to remove the residual gunk from the airway and dry it out.   I next sand the bite zone with a 320 grit sandpaper to address the minor tooth chatter on either surface. I filled the deeper tooth indentations with clear CA superglue and set the stem aside for the glue to cure completely.  With the Meerschaum bowl polished by Abha and the stem repairs set aside for the fills to cure, I worked the Bakelite shank. With a fabricated tool, I scraped all the dried oils, tars and ash from the trough of the Bakelite base. I also cleaned the mortise by scraping out the dried gunk using my fabricated tool. As I was working on the shank, the brass cap over the shank rim top came free. I would need to reattach it once I was done with internal and external cleaning of the shank.Next, I cleaned the Bakelite shank with anti oil dish soap and tooth brush. I cleaned the shank internals and the mortise with shank brush and anti oil soap and rinsed it under warm water. The brass cap was scrubbed clean with the soap and Scotch Brite pad. The shank is now clean both from the inside and the outside. With the external and internal surface of the Bakelite shank cleaned up, the crack at the seam is now clearly visible. As I had expected, this crack extends to the inside of the shank also. Both these are encircled in red. I discussed with Steve and he advised that drilling of counter holes to arrest the spread of these cracks should be avoided as the Bakelite could shatter due to the impact of the drill machine. The best way to ensure a robust and lasting repair would be to lay a fine bead of CA superglue along the crack. The glue would seep into the crack and once hardened, would form a strong joint along the seam. I did just that and set the shank aside for the glue to cure.By next day afternoon, the fills had completely hardened. With a flat head needle file, I sand the fills to achieve a rough match with the rest of the shank surface. To further fine tune the match, I sand the fill with a 320 followed by 600 grit sandpapers. I sand the fill inside the Bakelite trough with the sandpapers only as it was not possible to use the needle file. I am quite happy with these repairs at this junction. The Redmanol stem fills too had hardened and I worked the fills with a needle file to match it with the rest of the stem surface. I fine tuned this match further by sanding it with a 320 followed by 600 grit sandpapers. The fills have blended in perfectly with the stem surface. Thereafter, I handed the stem over to Abha to polish it to a high gloss. After the stem was handed over to Abha, I polished the Bakelite base/ shank by wet sanding the surface with 800, 1000, 1500 and 2000 grit sandpapers. The Bakelite is now beginning to take on a nice shine.  Before moving on to final polish using micromesh pads, I decided to reattach the brass cap first. I polished the brass cap with a polishing compound that we get in India here. I rubbed the compound over the rim cap and wiped it using a soft cloth. I applied a small quantity of superglue along the rim top surface and pressed the rim cap over the rim top. I wiped the excess glue with a cotton swab wetted with alcohol.Next I polished the shank by dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil to the surface just to enhance the shine. All this while, Abha was quietly busy polishing the stem. She wet sanded the entire stem with 800, 1000, 1500 and 2000 grit sandpapers and followed it up by dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. The stem looks fabulous and I cannot thank Abha enough for the help and support she extends in this hobby of mine. Next I gave a beeswax polish to the meerschaum bowl. The process that I followed for this polish has been explained in Part- I and not being repeated here. The following pictures will give you an idea of the process and also of the end results. It was here that I had swapped the Meerschaum bowls and correctly matched them with their original pipes. While the Meerschaum bowl was soaking in the beeswax, I cleaned the external surface of the Presentation Box with Murphy’s Oil soap and cotton swab. I wiped the surface with a moist cloth to remove any residual soap from the surface. Next I applied some “Before and After” Restoration balm to the surface to rehydrate the wood and polished it with a microfiber cloth. To finish, I re-attach the Redmanol stem with the Bakelite shank. I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and setting the speed at 50% RPM, applied Blue Diamond compound over the shank and the stem surface. I wiped/ buffed the parts with a soft cotton cloth to clear it of any leftover compound dust. I then mounted another cotton cloth wheel on to the polishing machine and applied several coats of carnauba wax over the shank and the stem of the pipe. I finished the restoration by giving the pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. Have a look at the completed pipe below. And here are a couple of pictures of both the pipes in their Presentation Case. Thank you all for joining me on this path as I repaired and restored this fabulous piece of pipe history to its former glory and functionality.

Freshening Up A Pair Of WDC Meerschaum Bowl, Bakelite Base And Redmanol Stem Pipes In A Presentation Case


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

It’s been a while since I have sent Steve any write ups for posting on rebornpipes and it’s not because I have not been working on any. As a matter of fact, I had completed re-stemming and refurbishing of 4 un-smoked vintage bowls. These were c.1897 BBB OWN MAKE Billiard with long pencil shank that came with its original shop stickers on it, the second was a c.1901 A.D.P (Adolph Posener), the third was a c.1904 Imperial ITC bent billiard and the fourth was c.1911 A.O KEYSTONE (Adolphe Oppenheimer & Co). Unfortunately, I lost the photographs that I had taken of all the pipes during their refurbishing process and as such there was nothing for me to base my write ups on (yeah…I know even Steve has been suggesting that I do the write up simultaneously as I work!!).

Moving ahead, the next project that I selected to lift up my spirits was a pair of WDC Meerschaum bowled Bulldog pipes that came in its beautiful Presentation case. Both pipes appeared to be in a very good condition and should clean up well. Here are a few pictures of the pair and its case as it sat on my work table. This pair of pipes has three different materials used in its manufacture and that is what makes it unique and interesting. The chamber/bowl are made from Meerschaum which threads in to a Bakelite shank that has a brass (?) band at its end and bears its trademark inverted triangle stamped with as “WDC”. The stems are made of Redmanol, a beautiful translucent material that was widely used in the early part of the 20th century. I have worked on a few WDCs earlier and am pretty familiar with the brand’s history. I revisited rebornpipes where I had posted my previous WDC projects. Here is the link to the write up which will give readers a fairly detailed idea about the brand and a rough estimate as to the vintage of the pair of pipes on my work table.

https://rebornpipes.com/2019/04/05/sprucing-up-another-wdc-a-cased-bakelite-briar-dublin/

I visited rebornpipes.com and came across an interesting article on materials used in pipe making (https://rebornpipes.com/2014/08/09/hard-rubber-and-other-early-plastic-used-in-pipes-ronald-j-de-haan/)

It is here that I found the following information on “BAKELITE”:

These qualities made Bakelite the most successful synthetic material in the first half of the 20th century. From 1928 it was also produced as molded resin. Both the pressed and the molded forms were suitable for the pipe making industry. Pipes were made from Bakelite and molded phenol-resin. Complete pipes of Bakelite are very rare because of its lack of heat resistance. Phenol-resin however was frequently used for pipe mouthpieces and cigarette holders because it imitated amber.

Further search on rebornpipes got me to a write up that Steve had done on a Redmanol WDC pipe. Given below is the link to the referenced article.

https://rebornpipes.com/2020/05/26/life-for-a-wdc-redmanol-dublin-with-a-removable-redmanol-bowl/

I quote from the article…..

“I turned to Wikipedia for an article on Bakelite and Redmanol to remind myself of the connection between the companies (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakelite).

As the sales figures also show, the Bakelite Company produced “transparent” cast resin (which did not include filler) “artificial amber”, were machined and carved to create items such as pipe stems, cigarette holders and jewelry.[11][12] However, the demand for molded plastics led the Bakelite company to concentrate on molding, rather than concentrating on cast solid resins.[11]:172–174…

…The Bakelite Corporation was formed in 1922 after patent litigation favorable to Baekeland, from a merger of three companies: Baekeland’s General Bakelite Company; the Condensite Company, founded by J.W. Aylesworth; and the Redmanol Chemical Products Company, founded by Lawrence V. Redman.[13] Under director of advertising and public relations Allan Brown, who came to Bakelite from Condensite, Bakelite was aggressively marketed as “the material of a thousand uses”.[7]:58–59[14] A filing for a trademark featuring the letter B above the mathematical symbol for infinity was made August 25, 1925, and claimed the mark was in use as of December 1, 1924. A wide variety of uses were listed in their trademark applications.[15]

I also read a brief article on Redmanol on Wikipedia and the link was clear as the companies joined in 1922 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redmanol_Chemical_Products_Company).

Redmanol Chemical Products Company was an early plastics manufacturer formed in 1913. Lawrence V. Redman was its president. In 1922, the Redmanol Company, the Condensite Company of America, and General Bakelite were consolidated into the Bakelite Corporation.[1]” ….unquote.

From the above gleaned information, it is safe to conclude that the pipe now on my worktable is of 1920s and early 1930s vintage.

Though I had simultaneously worked on this pair, I have divided the write up in two parts where I have dealt with each pipe separately. In PART I, I shall deal with the straight Bulldog of the pair and in PART II, I shall describe the process on the bent Bulldog.

PART I:- STRAIGHT BULLDOG

Initial Visual Inspection
The straight bulldog pipe is in great condition given its 90 odd year age. It appears to have been well smoked given the decent layer of cake in the chamber. The rim top is clean without any lava overflow. The meerschaum bowl has a few superficial scratches from being used. The Bakelite diamond base and shank is dull in appearance, but intact. The translucent Redmanol stem is slightly oxidized and appears dull and lackluster. There is a deep tooth indentation over the upper surface and a chipped surface near the round orifice. The pictures below give a fair idea of the condition of the pipe in its present state. Detailed Inspection
The pipe consists of three parts, a Meerschaum bowl, Bakelite base and shank and the Redmanol straight stem with a round orifice. These three parts come together as an instrument of smoking by means of threads at the bowl and stem ends.The meerschaum bowl is in very good condition with just a few scratches over the sides. The chamber has a thick layer of dried and crumbling cake. The rim top is in pristine condition and does not have any overflow of carbon deposits. The thread on the cup is slightly worn only at a small section and the attaches securely with the Bakelite shank. The bottom of the meerschaum cup has three draught holes and shows a couple of dents/ dings. The draw on the pipe was not very smooth and open. Close observation of the depth of the meerschaum cup made me realize that it touched the heel of the Bakelite base and constricted the air flow. I shall deal with this issue subsequently. The Bakelite base is clean with no traces of old oils and tars in the trough that houses the meerschaum cup. The brass rim cap at the top of the Bakelite base is firmly fixed and is nicely clean and shining. The mortise shows some traces of gunk but should clean up nicely. There are a couple of minute chipped spots over the right side of the diamond shank edge (encircled in yellow). The brass band at the shank end shows some signs of brassing and should polish up to nice shine. The brass rim cap and the shank band coupled with the translucent Redmanol stem add a nice bling to the appearance of the pipes. The diamond Redmanol stem has a rounded orifice which also points to its vintage. It has a rich translucent red color and the light really plays through. I cannot wait to see the stem clean up. Minor tooth chatter is seen on the upper and lower surface. The pointed corner edge of the lip on the left is broken (encircled in green) and will either have to be reconstructed or filed away to a straight profile. The stem airway has darkened due to accumulation of saliva, oils and tars and would need to be thoroughly cleaned. The screw-in tenon is of the same Redmanol material and is covered with dried oils and tars.   The Process
I started this project by reaming the chamber with my smaller fabricated knife and scraped out all the carbon from chamber. I used a 220 grit sand paper, pinched between my thumb and forefinger, to sand the inner walls of the chamber of the pipe. Once I had reached the bare walls, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This removed all the residual carbon dust and also rid the chamber of all ghost smells. The walls of the chamber are nice and solid with no signs of cracks.I cleaned the external surface of the Meerschaum cup with Murphy’s Oil soap and cotton swabs. I also cleaned the threads at the foot of the cup with tooth brush and oil soap. I wiped the bowl surface with a moist cloth to remove the soap and grime that remained on the surface. The stummel surface cleaned up nicely. The scratches and dents and dings over the stummel surface are now clearly visible.Once I was done with cleaning the external surface of the meerschaum cup, I handed over the cup to Abha, my wife, to work her magic in polishing the cup. She polished the rim top surface and rim edges with micromesh pads. She then went on to dry sand the entire stummel with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth to remove the dust that was left behind by the sanding. I had requested her to minimize the scratches but not necessarily remove them. These lacerations and dings must have had a history and I wanted to preserve it. She did a fantastic job of polishing the meerschaum cup to a nice deep shine.While Abha was busy with polishing the meerschaum bowl, I addressed the stem repairs. I first cleaned the stem surface and the stem airway using anti-oil dish cleaning soap and thin shank brush and rinsed it under warm running water to remove the entire gunk from the airway. I also cleaned up the threaded tenon with a tooth brush and soap. To finish the cleaning, I ran a few bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol to remove the residual gunk from the airway and dry it out.To address the minor tooth chatter on both upper and lower surfaces, I sand the bite zone with a folded piece of 320 grit sandpaper. However, there was one tooth indentation in the bite zone and the chipped corner of the lip still remained an eyesore. I spot filled these with clear CA superglue and set the stem aside for the glue to cure. I cleaned the mortise by scraping out the dried gunk using my fabricated tool. Next, I cleaned the Bakelite shank with anti oil dish soap and tooth brush. I cleaned the shank internals and mortise with shank brush and anti oil soap and rinsed it under warm water. The shank is now clean both from the inside and the outside. Once the stem fills had cured, I sand the fills with a flat head needle file to roughly match the fill with the rest of the stem surface. I further fine tune the match by sanding the bite zone with 320 grit sandpaper followed by 600 grit sandpaper.  Following the sanding with a piece of 600 grit sandpaper, I began the process of polishing by wet sanding the entire stem with 800, 1000, 1500 and 2000 grit sandpapers. I completed the polishing of the stem by dry sanding the stem with 3200 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. The translucent red of the Redmanol stem just shines through.   With the Meerschaum bowl and the Redmanol stem polished, I turned my attention to the Bakelite shank. I polished the shank by wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 followed by dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. Next I gave a beeswax polish to the meerschaum bowl. I assembled the equipment and materials that would be needed during the process viz heat gun, paper towels, q-tips and a Katori, a steel container graciously lent by Abha from the kitchen and of course, beeswax. I stuffed the chamber with cork to prevent inadvertent seepage of the melted beeswax into either. Next, I melted a sufficient quantity of beeswax in the katori using my heat gun and thereafter heated the stummel. Using the a folded pipe cleaner, I completely coated the stummel with the wax and continued the application till the surface was saturated and set the stummel aside to absorb the wax. I reheated the stummel with the heat gun about 20 minutes later and let the excess wax either be absorbed or drip off from the stummel surface. I rubbed off the excess wax with a soft cotton cloth and brought a deep shine to the surface with a microfiber cloth. To finish, I re-attach the Redmanol stem with the Bakelite shank. I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and setting the speed at 50% RPM, applied Blue Diamond compound over the shank and the stem surface. I wiped/ buffed the parts with a soft cotton cloth to clear it of any leftover compound dust. I then mounted another cotton cloth wheel on to the polishing machine and applied several coats of carnauba wax over the shank and the stem of the pipe. I finished the restoration by giving the pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. Have a look at the completed pipe below. P.S. – Readers must have noticed that the meerschaum bowl has been changed from three holed one to one hole. Well, if you recollect I had made a mention of draw on this pipe being constricted. It turns out that the meerschaum bowl on this pipe was a long neck one and the one on the bent bulldog had a shorter neck. The Bakelite base of the straight pipe is shallow as compared to the bent bulldog and accommodated the short neck meerschaum bowl better than the long neck bowl. Once the switch was made, the draw on both the pipes was open, full and smooth as silk.

Now, why the bowls were switched in the first place? The answer to this intriguing question will be given in the next part…

Thank you all for being with me as I walk the path of learning nuances of pipe restoration.

Restoring A Beautiful Older Butz-Choquin ‘A Metz’ Pipe


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

The next project that I selected to work on is a beautiful Horn shaped pipe with a horn stem and nickel ferrule. This pipe came to be in my possession as a part of 40 odd estate pipes that I had purchased from a French Seller a few years ago. Unfortunately, I had neither chronicled nor taken pictures of this lot when it reached us, as at that point in time I had no intention of passing these restored pipes in to the trust (as my Mentor Steve points out) of fellow Pipers.

This beautiful elegantly shaped pipe on my work table has stunning cross grains and swirls over the sides and back of the stummel while the front and lower surface boasts of distinct bird’s eye grains. It is stamped as “BUTZ- CHOQUIN” over “A” over “METZ”. The nickel ferrule bears three faux hallmark stampings and a rhombus with two letters. All these markings on the ferrule are severely worn out and do not contribute in any which way in establishing the provenance of this pipe.I have previously worked on Butz- Choquin pipes with A METZ stamping and from what I recollect; this stamp was used when BC pipes were made out of the French town of A Metz, i.e. prior to 1950s. To refresh my memory, I visited the write up that I had posted on rebornpipes. Here is the link to the write up (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/10/19/restoring-an-early-butz-choquin-a-metz-no-2/).

I have reproduced some of the information from the write up and also arrive at an approximate date based on this information.

I searched pipedia.org to see if it contained the details that I sought. The site has very scant information about the brand with lots of pictures, but what is available makes it an interesting read and I quote;

“The pipe, from Metz to Saint-Claude. Jean-Baptiste Choquin of Metz started out as a tobacconist. This enterprise was prosperous; he had several employees. Among those, there was a certain Gustave Butz who was its first workman and who became his son-in-law by marrying Choquin’s daughter Marie in 1858.

In 1858 Jean-Baptiste Choquin created, in collaboration with Gustave Butz, the Choquin pipe. This bent pipe with a flat-bottomed bowl was finished with an albatross-bone mouthpiece, fixed with silver rings. (The above describes the CHOQUIN A METZ pipe I had worked on earlier dating it to 1858)

In 1858, still in Metz, Gustave Butz built an establishment for the manufacture of the Choquin pipe which took the name of Butz-Choquin. In 1951, the Berrod-Regad company bought the trademark, continuing manufacture until 2002. Departing from Metz, the workshop was relocated to Saint-Claude, then also called “the world capital of the briar pipe,” under the Berrod-Regad group. The Berrod-Regad group would go on to completely rebuild the network of representatives until finally entering the export market in 1960 and has since won several prizes, as well as the Gold Cup of French good taste.

In a few years, the brand’s collection increased from ten to seventy series. 135 years after it was founded, the pipe is still well-known not only in France but throughout the world. In 2002, the Berrod family, wishing to preserve manufacture of pipes in Saint-Claude, handed over the company to Fabien Guichon, a native of the area, who will continue to develop the brand during the 21st century.”

From the above reading, this pipe is pre-1951 when Berrod- Regad purchased the trademark and relocated the workshop to Saint- Claude. The stampings of A METZ is the proof pointing towards pre-1951, the birth town of Butz- Choquin pipes. Secondly, the horn stem with the round orifice points towards the early 1920s when vulcanite was the preferred choice of material for making stems. However, it is equally true that during World War II, since rubber was an essential war material and was difficult to obtain it for making stems, horns/ bone stem came in to favor again till the end of the Great War. Thus I think that this pipe is either from the period 1939 to 1945 (higher probability) or from between the era 1910 to 1920s.

Initial Visual Inspection
The pipe currently on my work table is an excellent example of quality craftsmanship using equally high quality briar wood. It appears that the carver followed the grains in the briar to decide on the shape and not the other way round. There is a thin layer of cake in the chamber with no overflowing lava over the rim top, in fact, the rim top is clean. The stummel surface is dull and lackluster and would benefit from a nice cleaning and polishing regime. The cross grains and the bird’s eye grains will come to the fore once the stummel is polished. The inner rim edge is beveled and is smooth and even. The outer rim edge is uneven with a couple of deeper dents and dings along the edge. The tapered horn stem has bite marks on both surfaces in the bite zone. The seating of the longish wood tenon in to the mortise is loose but otherwise in good condition. The nickel band is oxidized and sans any damage. Below are pictures of the pipe before I started my restoration work. Detailed Inspection
The chamber has a very thin layer of even and crumbly cake. It seems that the chamber was reamed prior to the pipe being put away. The rim top surface is clean with no signs of lava overflow or charring. The inner edge has a slight bevel which I think is not original to the pipe. However it has been well carved and does not detract from the beauty of the pipe. The outer rim edge has a number of dents and ding most likely caused due to striking the rim edge against a hard edge. The rim top surface has circular scratches akin to sanding marks left behind after topping the surface. The chamber has very little odor and the little ghost smells that remain will be eliminated once the stummel internals are cleaned. The stummel is covered in oils that have attracted dust and grime and the stummel appears dull and lackluster. The cross grains and bird’s eye and swirls across the briar surface that can be seen through from under all the grime. The stummel surface does show a few scratches, noticeably to the front and foot of the stummel. There is a small chip off from the upper shank surface near the nickel band. The mortise shows remnants of old oils, tars and ash, but not stinking stuff!! The nickel shank band itself is oxidized and all the faux markings are well rubbed and worn out. I am especially not too worried about the worn out stampings of the band as these are just for decorative purpose only. The tapered horn stem has tooth marks on both the upper and lower surface of the stem in the bite zone. The button lips, however, are sans any damage. I was unsure, from the appearance, if the tenon was a bone or made of wood. To confirm, I ran a sharp thin blade over the surface. The movement was smooth and easy without any bite. This confirmed that the hard surface could only be bone!! The round slot and tenon end opening has old residual oils and tars. The seating of the stem in to the mortise is not flush and very loose. The Process
I started the process of refurbishing by reaming the chamber first. Using reamer head sizes from 1 to 3 of the PipeNet pipe reamer, I took the cake down to the bare briar. The amount of carbon that was dislodged from the chamber was really surprising as I had appreciated a thin layer of carbon and the quantity of carbon that was removed was anything but a thin layer. With my fabricated knife, I removed all the cake and took it down to the bare briar. I further sand the chamber wall with a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper to smooth out the wall and remove the last bit of stubborn carbon that remained stuck to the chamber. To finish the reaming process, I wiped the chamber walls with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol to clean the last traces of residual carbon dust. I was happy to note a clean and well seasoned solid chamber. Next I cleaned out the shank internals. Early on, I realized that I could not pass a pipe cleaner trough the draught hole due to blockages in the shank airway. I used the drill bit of a Kleen Ream reamer to dislodge this block of dried oils and gunk. I further scraped out all the dried and crumbly oils and tars from the walls of the mortise with my fabricated tool. I cleaned out the mortise and shank walls with q-tips and pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol. I shall continue further cleaning of the shank and mortise while going through the other processes.I kept the stummel aside and cleaned the internals of the stem with a thin shank brush and anti-oil dish washing soap. This ensures a thorough cleaning of the stem airway while saving me number of pipe cleaners, elbow grease and most importantly, time. With the stem internals cleaned, I scrubbed the external surface with the dish soap and Scotch Brit pad. I was particularly careful while cleaning the tenon surface as the old residual oils and tars were deeply embedded in to the surface. I rinsed the stem under warm running water and wiped it with a paper napkin to dry it.I addressed the tooth chatter in the bite zone by sanding the bite zone with a folded piece of 150 grit sand paper followed by 220 grit sand paper. I could have filled the tooth indentation with clear superglue, sanded and polished the stem, but decided against this since the stem was thick and the tooth chatter was superficial enough to be addressed just by sanding it out.Next, I cleaned the exterior of the stummel. I used a hard bristled tooth brush, Scotch Brit pad and Murphy’s Oil soap to scrub the stummel. After the scrub with oil soap, I washed the stummel, stem and shank extension under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the surface was clean and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I simultaneously cleaned the internals of the shank with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. The stummel surface has cleaned up nicely with the beautiful grain patterns on full display. Following the external clean up of the stummel, I spot filled the small chipped off surface from the shank’s upper surface near the nickel band and also the dings that were seen over the outer edge of the rim with CA superglue. I set the stummel aside for the glue to cure.While the stummel repair was curing, I dry sand the horn stem with 220, 320, 400 and 600 grit sandpapers followed by wet sanding with 800 and 1000 grit sandpapers. I applied a small quantity of EVO to the stem and set it aside to be absorbed by surface.With the stem set aside, using a flat head needle file, I sand the repairs over the upper shank surface and the outer rim edge to achieve a rough match with the rest of the stummel surface. I further blend in the repairs by sanding the entire stummel surface with 220 grit sandpaper.To bring a nice shine and eliminate the scratch marks left behind by the abrasive sandpaper, I wet sand the entire stummel with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, wiping frequently with a moist cloth to check the progress. 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 grains with the natural patina of the rest of the stummel adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel. I completed the mundane but equally important task of polishing the nickel band. I used a local product that is available only in India to polish the band. The liquid polish was applied to the band and wiped it out after a few seconds. The polish completely removed the oxidation and gave a nice shine to the band by polishing it with a jeweler’s cloth.This brings me to the most important process indicating the completion of this restoration which is imparting a high gloss finish to the pipe by polishing. 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. P.S.: Astute readers must have noticed that there were two issues that I had brought out during my detailed visual inspection, first was the loose seating of the stem in to the shank and the second was that this seating was not flush, but does not find a mention in the entire process of repairs/ restoration. Well, truth be told, I had not addressed these issues specifically. However, somewhere along the way these issues resolved themselves.

Let me explain. The reason for loose seating of the stem in to the mortise was primarily due to drying up of the briar wood and the bone tenon from years of disuse. When the internal and external surfaces of the stummel were cleaned and rinsed using warm water, the briar absorbed some moisture causing the briar to swell and ultimately resulting in a snug fit of the stem in to the mortise.

The reason for the stem face not seating flush with the shank face was the old oils and gunk that had accumulated in the mortise and along the shank walls. Once the mortise and shank internals were thoroughly cleaned and the shank briar wood was adequately moistened, the seating was flush and snug.

This pipe had caught the fancy of a fellow piper here in India and has now reached him. I wish him many happy and blissful smokes in the years ahead.

I wish to thank all esteemed readers for your time in reading through the write up and being a part of this project. Looking forward to your comments…

Refurbishing A Vintage Cased “Karoo” Gourd Calabash With Elephant Ivory Shank Extension


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

About two years back, I had worked on the only Gourd Calabash pipe that I had inherited, a 1912 William Harrison, and posted it on rebornpipes. I had smoked this pipe after it was restored and was amazed at how different the smoking characteristics of a gourd are when compared to a briar or a meerschaum pipe. Since then I was on a lookout for some good quality and condition gourd calabash estates and snagged a couple at very competitive rates. This is the first of the two gourd calabash pipes that is now on my work table.

This medium sized gourd calabash came in its original case. The case and the pipe it housed are in good shape and appears to have been well looked after. There is a beautiful ivory colored band with argyle patterns at the shank end that lends it a classy high end feel. It is stamped on the left side of the gourd as “KAROO” in an oval. There is no other stamping seen on the gourd. The vulcanite stem with a threaded bone tenon is stamped on the upper surface as “LONDON” over MADE”. There are no other stampings seen on either the gourd or the stem. The only knowledge about the pipe I had was that KAROO was an arid region of South Africa where these gourds were grown. However, there was no information on the brand KAROO that was available either on Pipedia.org or pipephil.eu. I couldn’t find any information on this brand even on rebornpipes!!

I messaged Steve and shared pictures of this gourd calabash pipe with him. He sent me this link to Pipe Club of London which had information on this brand and the same is being reproduced further down in this write up. There was an interesting discussion on the band that was at the shank end. The possibilities ranged from the band being made of hardened plastic or Bakelite or bone or even African Ivory. However, it was the evenly arranged argyle patterns that made us think on the lines of the band being of some high grade and quality material. Abha, my wife, took close up pictures of the band and patterns and she got on the task of researching the material of the band on the internet. Her research conclusively proved that the band is an Elephant Ivory. Here is the link to a site that was particularly helpful in supporting her conclusions. (https://www.realorrepro.com/article/Ivory-genuine-fake–confusing).

The argyle patterns that I had been mentioning all through are, in fact, Schreger Lines and the patterns perfectly match the ones seen on the shank end band. Having confirmed that the shank extension is elephant ivory, it was time to search for the brand KAROO.

I searched the net as suggested by Steve and found this snippet of information on Pipe Club of London (http://pipecluboflondon.com/members-pipes/calabashes/karoo-calabash/) and reproduce the same information for the benefit of the larger pipe community.

Calabash gourds (“bottle gourds” – were grown on the Little Karoo River in South Africa by Boer farmers who exported them – cut & dried – to England for fitting with bowls and mouthpieces. The heyday of the calabash was 1905 to 1915 after which the briar began to steal the spotlight.

From the Johnny Long collection PCoL #UK603F – pictured on a handmade South African tapestry. Below – the Karoo brand & hallmarks.

There was no further information lead that was worth following that would establish the provenance of this pipe. All that I can say with certainty based on the threaded bone tenon, oval slot at the stem end, Elephant Ivory shank extension and the information reproduced above, this pipe has to be from the early 20th Century, maybe prior to 1920s.

This time period is just a ”guesstimation” and any input from the knowledgeable Readers on this brand and dating is most welcome.

Initial Visual Inspection
The case and the pipe appear to be well cared for. The case has functional hinges and clasp and closes with a reassuring click. The surface leather on the case is also intact and in good condition. The red velvet internal lining of the case is stained at the place where the rim and mouthpiece rests inside the pipe. There is a lot of debris in the nooks and corners of the case. The pipe sits perfectly inside the case. The gourd has taken on a dark color and its surface is dust covered and dirty. The meerschaum cup has a decent layer of even cake with a darkened rim top that has traces of lava overflow. There are a few minor superficial scratches over the meerschaum cup. The stem is oxidized, has tooth chatter/ bites marks in the bite zone and is under turned to the right. Overall, this old timer has been well looked after and is in great shape considering its perceived age. Dimensions Of The Pipe
Length: 5.6 inches

Height: 2.8 inches.

Diameter of the porcelain cup: 1.8 inches.

Diameter of the chamber: 0.9 inch.

Depth of the chamber: 1.3 inches.

Detailed Visual Inspection
I first dismantled the pipe in to its various components; the Gourd, the meerschaum cup and the threaded bone tenon stem. Here are a couple of pictures.

The meerschaum cup is medium sized and has a moderate layer of even cake. The inner rim edge has a thin layer of lava overflow on an otherwise clean rim top surface. There are minor scratches over the rim surface which will be addressed when the meerschaum cup is cleaned and polished. There are no breakages or chipped surfaces or cracks in the cup which is a big relief. The draught hole at the center bottom of the cup is clogged with oils/ tars and gunk. The outer surface of the cup is covered in dried oils, tars and gunk and towards the rim top; there are traces of cork lining which has stuck to the cup (this is actually mysterious!) at the base of the rim. The gourd surface has colored beautiful and it will be my endeavor to preserve the patina that has developed on the surface due to smoking. The surface is covered in old oils, tars, grime and dirt from all these years. There is no damage to the gourd surface and that’s a big relief. This piece of gourd will look stunningly beautiful and rich once it has been cleaned and polished. The meerschaum bowl is held in place inside the gourd with a cork gasket. This cork gasket was dry with a thin outer surface layer stuck to the meerschaum. This is not a major issue as the bowl still sits firmly in the gourd. The inside of the gourd has depositions of oils and tars and ash and would benefit from a thorough cleaning. The ivory shank extension has yellowed a fraction but is sans any damage. The full bent tapered vulcanite stem is oxidized with tooth chatter on either surface in the bite zone. The threaded long bone tenon is covered in grime and oils and could be a contributing factor for the misaligned seating of the stem in to the shank. The oval opening of the slot and the tenon opening is constricted due to accumulation of old and dried oils/ tars. The Process
I started the process with reaming the meerschaum cup with PipNet reamer heads 1, 2 and 3. I further cleaned the bowl with my fabricated knife to completely rid the chamber of carbon that couldn’t be reached by the reamer heads. I used a 220 grit sand paper, pinched between my thumb and forefinger, to sand the inner walls of the chamber of the pipe. Once I had reached the bare walls, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This removed all the residual carbon dust and also rid the chamber of all ghost smells. The walls of the chamber are nice and solid with no signs of heat fissures or cracks.I gently scraped off the dried gunk and remnants of the cork with my sharp fabricated knife. I further cleaned the surface with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol. I cleaned the external surface of the meerschaum cup with a cotton swab and Murphy’s Oil Soap. I further wiped the surface with a moist soft cloth and rid the surface of the soap. I ran a couple of hard bristled pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol through the draught hole and thoroughly cleaned it. I set the bowl aside to dry out completely.I cleaned the stem airway using thin shank brushes and anti oil dish soap. I also cleaned the tenon surface with the soap and wiped it dry with a paper towel. The tenon opening and the oval slot is now clean.Since the tooth chatter on upper and lower surface was superficial, I decided to address this issue by sanding down the tooth chatter rather than resorting to the filling method. I sand the bite zone with a 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter. I followed it up by further sanding the stem with 320, 600 and 800 grit sand papers. Once I was satisfied that the tooth chatter had perfectly matched the rest of the stem surface, I completed the polishing cycle by wet sanding the surface with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. The stem looks great with the tooth chatter nicely matched with the rest of the surface. I rub a little quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil into the stem surface and set it aside to rehydrate the vulcanite. While I was working on the stem, Abha went about the task of polishing the meerschaum cup. She polished the bowl by dry sanding it with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. She applied a little Before and After Balm, though it does not affect the meerschaum in any which way, and set it aside. A few minutes later, she buffed it with a microfiber cloth.Next in the process was the cleaning and refurbishing of the gourd itself. Using my fabricated dental tool and sharp knife, I carefully, read that as very (2x) carefully, scraped out all the dried gunk and grime from the inner walls of the gourd. I ran a couple of pipe cleaners and q-tips dipped in alcohol through the shank end. I wiped the inner walls with a cotton swab moistened with alcohol. At this point in restoration, the internal cleaning of the stem, mortise and gourd is completed. The stem repairs and polishing is also completed and so is the refurbishing of the meerschaum cup. Next I decided to clean and polish the external surface of the gourd. I cleaned the external surface of the gourd with Murphy’s Oil soap on cotton swabs. I wiped the surface with a moist cloth and set the gourd aside to dry out completely. After the gourd had dried out, I polished the gourd surface with micromesh pads. I wanted to preserve the patina and deep coloration that has developed on the gourd surface and so I dry sand the stummel surface with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. This is starting to look really nice. I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the gourd with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the gourd now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful darkened colors on full display. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. All that remained was the original case that housed this pipe. Firstly, I reattached all the black linings that had come loose with superglue. I wiped the leather cover with Murphy’s Oil soap on a cotton swab. The color on the swabs should give the readers an idea of how dirty the surface was!! I wanted to further scrub the leather surface, but unsure that I was as to how the leather would hold up to all the scrubbing, I left it at that (remember my mantra… Less is more!!). I cleaned the inner satin and velvet linings of the lid and bottom respectively, with a mild soap in warm water and a soft bristled tooth brush. I was very gentle with this as I had no intention of tearing the lining. I completely dried the lining using paper towels. It now does look nice and rich. To apply the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the gourd 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 the 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 finish the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks beautiful and is ready to be added to my restored pipe collection. When, or if at all I will, smoke this pipe only time will tell!! Here are the pictures of the refurbished pipe. P.S.: The alignment of the stem with the gourd stummel was restored to perfection once the threads of the bone tenon, threads at the shank end and the internals of the gourd was thoroughly cleaned. I rejuvenated and hydrated the cork gasket by applying a generous layer of natural Petroleum Jelly.

Thanks to all readers of rebornpipes who have spared a moment of their invaluable time in reading through this write up and as is always, your suggestions and advice are always welcome as this would not only help me but  also help the new pursuers of this art.

Praying for the safety and well being of all the readers and their loved ones …

Repairing A Worm Hole Ridden Horn Stem And Refurbishing A c.1908 T.C.G Bent Billiard


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

This pipe had caught my eye for a long time. However, the extensive damage to the horn stem was a big challenge and was always relegated to ‘will- deal- with- later’ category of pipes. This time around, I decided to pick up the gauntlet and got the pipe to my work table.

The pipe currently on my table is as elegant and understated as the British and as compact as any English pipes of yore. The briar stummel has mixed grains and is sans any fills. The right side of the shank is stamped as “T.C.G” in an oval. There is no COM stamp. The only pointer to this pipe being English is the stamping on the Sterling Silver ferrule at the shank end. It is stamped “T.C.G” without frame over three sterling silver hallmarks. From left to right the first cartouche is with a LION PASSANT certifying silver quality followed by a cartouche with symbol for Chester Assay Office and the last cartouche contains the date code letter “H”. This was an English brand that I had neither seen before nor ever heard of. My first instinct to search for any new-to-me pipe brand is to visit rebornpipes and very rarely have I returned empty handed. This was one such rare instance where I came up empty handed. Pipedia.org and pipephil.eu, other popular sites that I visit for pipe related information, too did not have any mention of this pipe manufacturer.

The only clue to unravel the mystery of this pipe was in the stampings seen in the hallmarked silver band. I visited www.silvercollection.it and upon searching through the index, I came across a maker’s mark that was as seen on the pipe in my hands. The maker’s mark was described as Thomas Claud GOODING Edward Ryan GOODING – London. Here is the link and screen shot of the details and relevant details are highlighted in red.

http://www.silvercollection.it/DICTIONARYTOBACCONISTT.htmlThe next step was to date this pipe with the help of the hallmarks as seen on the silver band at the shank end. The Chester City mark was easy to identify. The letter “H” perfectly matched up with the letter that identified it as being assayed by the Chester Assay office in 1908. Given below is the link that will take the readers to the relevant section of dating and the picture that I have taken with the date code letter.

http://www.silvercollection.it/englishsilverhallmarksCHE.html

I further Google searched for Thomas Claud Gooding and other than an address for the said tobacconist at Farringdon Street, London, I could not glean much information.

It is my informed guess that TC Gooding got pipes made from other manufacturers like Barling’s, Comoy’s etc and got them stamped from manufacturers with their own registered name, T.C.G and sold these pipes from their shops. This was a very common practice in those days.

To summarize, the pipe that I am working on was from a tobacconist shop run by T C Gooding at Farringdon Street that was made in c1908 by some of the more established pipe manufacturers in London and sold under their own name T.C.G.

Initial Visual Inspection
This pipe is a beautiful smaller sized bent billiards, a classic English shape. The stummel has beautiful mixed grains all around without a single fill. The rim top surface is uneven with dents and dings to the inner rim edge. There is a very thin and even layer of cake (which was proved otherwise once I reamed the chamber) in the chamber. The stummel surface is dull and dirty. The bone tenon is threaded and locks in to place with a perfectly aligned shank and horn stem. It is the horn stem that has the most damage. Worm holes at the upper surface at the button end exposing the air way and at the shank end lower surface the threaded bone tenon remains exposed. The following pictures present a general idea of the condition of this pipe. Dimensions Of The Pipe
(a) Overall length of the pipe: –          4.5 inches.

(b) Bowl height: –                               1.5 inches.

(c) Inner diameter of chamber: –         0.7 inches.

(d) Outer diameter of chamber: –        1.1 inches.

Detailed Visual Inspection
The chamber has a thin layer of even cake and appears to have been lightly reamed before being stowed away. The condition of the chamber walls will be ascertained once the cake is completely taken down to the bare briar. The inner rim edge is lightly charred on the right side in the 4 ‘O’ clock direction (encircled in green) while the left inner edge is uneven (indicated with yellow arrows). The outer rim edge shows damage to the left and front (encircled in red) due to knocking the edge against a hard surface. The rim top is sans any lava overflow but is peppered with scratches, dents and dings. The stummel surface is covered in a layer of dust and grime giving the surface a dull and lackluster appearance. From underneath this grime, a mix of bird’s eye swirls and cross grains can be seen that waits to be brought to the fore. There are a number of scratches, dents and dings over the stummel surface but predominantly over the foot of the bowl (encircled in pastel blue). The mortise is clean with small traces of remnants of old oils and tars.The stem is where maximum damage can be seen. The bone stem is riddled with worm holes in the bite zone and towards the tenon end. The following pictures will give the readers a clear idea of the extent of damage to the stem and what I would be dealing with during its repairs. At the rounded slot end, the damage is deep enough to expose the air way (encircled in yellow) but thankfully; the air way is undamaged and intact. At the tenon end, the worm hole is deep and exposes the threaded bone tenon (encircled in green). The round slot and the bone tenon opening shows residues of dried oils and tars. The silver lining to all this damage is that the button edge surface and the tenon end flat base surface is still intact and will serve as a guide while I build up the damaged surface. The Process
I started the repairs with the stem first as it would be the most tedious work and take the longest time. I cleaned the internals of the stem with thin shank brushes and anti-oil dish washing soap. This helps reduce the number of pipe cleaners that I would otherwise use for the cleaning of the airway.I ran a couple of bristled pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol to thoroughly clean the airway. I followed it by cleaning the stem surface with cotton swabs wetted with alcohol in preparation for rebuilding the damaged horn surface with clear CA superglue.With the internal and external surface of the stem cleaned up, I moved ahead with reconstruction of the worm hole ridden bite zone and the tenon end of the stem with high viscosity clear CA superglue. I started the repair work at the tenon end. To hasten the process of curing, I sprayed the fill with accelerator. I followed the layering technique to rebuild the damaged surface, that is, first drop a blob of superglue over the surface to be rebuilt and spray the accelerator. Once the glue has hardened, drop superglue over the same area and spray the accelerator to harden the glue. I continued with this method at both the ends of the stem till I had completely covered the area to be rebuilt and then some more. The purpose of excessive build up of the damaged stem surface was that it would be sanded down to perfect or near perfect match with the rest of the stem surface. Following pictures will give the readers a general idea of the process explained above. Once the tenon end of the stem was filled with superglue and set using the accelerator, I followed the same procedure to rebuild the slot end of the stem. Thereafter, I set the stem aside for the fills to cure overnight. While the stem was set aside for the fills to cure, I reamed the chamber with size 1 and 2 heads of the PipNet pipe reamer. I removed the carbon from the areas where the reamer head could not reach with my fabricated knife. To completely remove the residual carbon from the walls of the chamber and even out the walls, I sand the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper followed by cleaning the chamber with a cotton swab wetted with isopropyl alcohol. The chamber walls are in pristine condition. The quantity of carbon that was removed did surprise me as I had anticipated a far less build up of cake in the chamber. I also cleaned the mortise with pipe cleaners and alcohol. Continuing with internal cleaning of the bowl, I decided to subject the chamber and mortise to cotton and alcohol bath. I packed the chamber with cotton balls and 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. I tightly packed cotton balls in to the remaining portion of the mortise. Thereafter, I 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 next afternoon, the cotton and alcohol had drawn out all the remaining oils and tars from the chamber and mortise. I removed the cotton balls and the filth can be gauged by the appearance and coloration of the cotton balls and the pipe cleaner. I ran pipe cleaners through the mortise and draught hole to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk that was lodged in the draught hole and mortise. The chamber and mortise now smelled clean, fresh and looked it too. I set the stummel to dry out naturally.With the internal cleaning done, it was time for the external cleaning of the stummel surface. I used a hard bristled tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap, to scrub the stummel and rim top. 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.Next, I addressed the various stummel repairs that I have mentioned above. First issue that I addressed was that of the rim top surface dents/ dings, charred inner rim edge and chipped outer rim edge. To address the rim top damage, I topped the rim surface on 220 grit sandpaper till the surface was nice and even. I hate losing any briar and prefer to restrict topping to the barest minimum that is required. The damage to the outer rim edge, though greatly eliminated, can still be seen to the left side. This would be taken care of by creating a slight bevel to the outer edge. The charring to the inner rim edge is still visible (encircled in green). These issues could be completely addressed by the process of topping but the extent of topping that would be required to do so would alter the bowl height and also the entire stummel profile.With a folded piece of worn out 180 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger, I carefully created a bevel over the inner and outer rim edge and addressed the issue of charred inner rim edge. The rim edges appear much better at this stage and should further improve the aesthetics of the stummel when the bevel and stummel is polished using the micromesh pads. While I was working on the stummel, the stem fills had cured completely and as I was keen to shape the stem fills, I kept the stummel aside and worked on the stem repairs. I used a flat needle file to roughly match the fills with the rest of the stem surface. I further evened out the fills by sanding the stem surface with a folded piece of 150 grit sandpaper. All this filing and sanding had exposed a few air pockets (indicated with green arrows) and a portion of the upper button edge (encircled in indigo) that would need to be further rebuilt.Since I had rebuilt the stem face at the tenon end, it was imperative for me to check the alignment of the stem against the shank face when seated. My expected fears came true and how! The stem was grossly overturned to the right.The general rule of thumb is that if the overturn is to the right, one needs to sand the left side so that the threads could complete the turn and achieve a perfect alignment. However, this need to be done extremely carefully as any excess sanding of the left side could result in a left overturn. Using needle files and a 220 grit sandpaper, I sand the excess fill from the left side, checking very frequently for the alignment. A few hours and numerous checks later, I achieved a perfect alignment of the stem and shank face. My mantra of “less is more” was always playing at the back of my mind as I worked on the stem face. Now I could move ahead with addressing the air pockets and rebuild of the button edge over the upper stem surface. I filled the air pockets and rebuilt the button edge over the upper surface with CA superglue and once the glue had cured, with a needle file and sandpaper, I reshaped and evened out the fills to match the rest of the stem surface. Next, I decided to address the dents and dings on the stummel surface, notably at the foot and lower sides of the bowl. Using a marker 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. The stummel appears much better and smooth at this juncture.To further even out the remaining minor dings, I lightly sand the entire stummel with a folded piece of worn out 180 grit sand paper. I followed it by wet sanding the stummel with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, wiping frequently with a moist cloth to check the progress. I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep into 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 microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. Now I needed to work on the stem again. I had completed the refilling/ rough reshaping of the damaged stem and now proceed to fine tune the reshaped button edge, rebuilt surfaces and polishing of the stem. I sand the stem with 220, 320, 600, 800 and 1000 grit sandpapers. The coarser grade sandpapers help in achieving exactness of shape and removing excess repair material to match rest of the surface while 600, 800 and 1000 grit sandpapers help in eliminating the sanding marks left behind by the coarse grit papers and imparting a shine to the stem surface. I rubbed a small quantity of EVO in to the bone to hydrate it.To bring a deep shine to the horn stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 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 bone stem. I am pretty happy with the way the stem repairs have shaped up and also the button has a nice delicate shape. The finished stem is shown below. I cleaned the sterling silver ferrule at the shank end with “Pitambari”, a powder that is available all across India that is used to clean and shine brass and silver ware. Even Abha uses it to polish her silver and gold jewelry and cutlery. This compound is a very fine powder and is least abrasive with fantastic results. The band is now a nice shining piece of sterling silver and will provide a nice contrast between the shining horn stem and the dark brown stummel.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 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. I only wish it could share with me its life 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!! I wish to thank all the esteemed readers for reading through this write up and thereby being a companion in my journey.

Just A Little TLC And This Amazing Harcourt ‘S’ Came Back Alive Again


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I was and still am a big fan of Preben Holm and never miss an opportunity to own one of his creations, specially the older ones. His early pipes were graded from 1 to 8 in ascending order and I have grades 1, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8 in my collection. These are all stunning pipes without doubts. Thus when this pipe came up for auction on eBay in 2018, I had to bid on it. Waiting for the last opportune moment to place my bid is always the longest wait and the timing has to be just right, too late and your bid may not be accepted and too early gives reaction time to other buyers. In this case, everything went just right and I landed being the highest bidder. A month and a half later, the pipe was received by Abha in Pune.

This ruggedly beautiful free hand pipe is unsmoked with pristine bowl coating, save for the dust that has accumulated on the coat. The aggressively rusticated stummel is large and fits snugly in the palm with a tactile hand feel. It is stamped on the lower smooth surface at the shank end as “S” over “HARCOURT” over “HAND CARVED” over “MADE IN DENMARK”. The vulcanite fancy stem is devoid of any stem logo. All the stampings are crisp and easily readable.Dimensions Of The Pipe
(a) Overall length of the pipe:          5.2 inches.

(b) Bowl height:                                  2 inches.

(c) Inner diameter of chamber:       0.8 inches.

(d) Outer diameter of chamber:      1.7 inches.

While researching Dunhill pipes that I have restored, I remembered that to cater to the Danish Free Hand pipe craze in the 1960s Dunhill had engaged Preben Holm to carve pipes for them and this line was named as HARCOURT. However, this being the first Harcourt pipe that I would be working on, I searched my first ‘go to’ site, rebornpipes and the very first search result was this pipe that has identical stamping including the grade stamp ‘S’. For interested readers, here is the link to the write up which provides all the information on these pipes.

https://rebornpipes.com/2019/09/07/replacing-a-broken-tenon-and-restoring-a-harcourt-hand-carved-s-freehand/

The only additional piece of information that I would like to add here is the grading system adopted by Preben Holm for Harcourt line of pipes. This information is reproduced from pipedia.org (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Harcourt)

And I quote:-

The stamping includes a letter, and seems to adhere to the Preben Holm grading scale with grades of A, B, C and D in ascending order.

The grade lettering on the pipe that I am working on is “S” and finds no mention in the above grading scale by Preben Holm. Since the grading system is in ascending order starting with A, I safely assume that the letter S denotes the highest grade or even Special grade. Any informed input on this issue is most welcome, in fact, solicited.

Initial Inspection
This pipe has one of the most aggressive rustication that I have seen on pipes and it looks and feels fantastic. The reddish brown hues, the Acorn shaped bowl and the talon shaped shank adds to the visual appeal of the pipe. The pipe is unsmoked and thus the chamber, the platueau rim top and the rim edges are all pristine. The stummel surface has accumulated dust in the crevices of the rustication, giving it a dull and tired appearance. The vulcanite fancy stem is undamaged but oxidized. Given below are a few pictures of the pipe before I started working on it. Detailed Inspection
As mentioned above, this is seems to be an unsmoked pipe. The plateau rim top is as good as new with no lava overflow or charring or chipped surfaces. The bowl coating is still intact with no signs of being smoked. The only cleaning that is required is for removing the dust that has lodged itself in to the nooks and crannies of the plateau surface. There are no odors of old tobacco and oils and gunk and that is a refreshing change from the last project. The large rusticated stummel with thick walls are in excellent condition with no damage. The gnarly high points in the rustication are a pleasure to hold in the hand. The Acorn shaped bowl nicely fills up the hand making for a very comfortable grip. Dust has covered the crevices in the rustication giving a lifeless and dull look to the pipe and would need to be cleaned. The plateau shank end is also dusty and would benefit for a nice scrub. The mortise is clean. The fancy vulcanite stem is sans any logo or tooth chatter, bite marks. The only issue that requires to be dealt with is the minor oxidation over the surface. Running a couple of pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol will be sufficient to clean the air way of all the dust that may have been lodged inside.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 followed it up by sanding the entire stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to remove the surface oxidation and cleaned the surface with a cotton swab and Murphy’s Oil Soap.
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 its further removal a breeze, while the minor oxidation is eliminated to a very great extent. The initial sanding also 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 4-5 pipes that are in-line for restoration and this pipe is marked with blue arrow. I generally allow the stems to soak in this solution overnight to do its work.The next morning, Abha removed the stem that had been soaking in the deoxidizer solution overnight. She cleaned the stem under warm running water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using a Scotch Brite pad and cleaned 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.Abha, thereafter, continued the sanding cycle by dry sanding the stem using 320, 400, 600 and 800 grit sand papers followed by wet sanding the entire stem with 1000, 1500 and 2000 grit sand papers. This not only ensured a nice even and smooth stem surface, but also removed the oxidation from the surface. I rubbed the stem surface with some EVO and set it aside to be absorbed in to stem surface. Thereafter, she launched a second determined assault on the stem, subjecting it to the complete cycle of micromesh polish. The end result is a gorgeous, smooth and shiny looking black of the vulcanite stem. The time that Abha was working on the stem, I ran a pipe cleaner dipped in alcohol through the mortise and airway to clean out the dust that had gathered over time. The shank internals were all clean save for a little stain that had made its way into the shank while staining.Once the internals of the shank were cleaned, I cleaned the external surface of the stummel with Murphy’s Oil soap and cotton swabs followed by scrubbing the rusticated surface with a toothbrush and dish washing soap. This rid the nooks and crevices of all the accumulated dust, dirt and grime from the rusticated stummel. I also cleaned the shank internals with dish washing soap and shank brush. To enliven the briar wood and further enhance the contrast of the dark reddish browns of the high points of the rustication with the black of the rest of the stummel surface, I rubbed a little quantity of “Before and After” balm in to surface and set it aside for 20 minutes for the balm to be absorbed in to the briar. Thereafter I hand buffed it with a microfiber to deepen the shine. The stummel looks nice and vibrant. This was followed by the routine regime of polish with carnauba wax using my hand held rotary tool. This Preben Holm carved Harcourt looks unique and oozes quality. To deepen the shine, I gave a vigorous rub to the entire pipe with a microfiber cloth. This is truly a beautiful pipe and will be joining my now increasing personal collection. Here are a few pictures that should give you a fair idea about the end results… Thank you all for being a part of this journey and support extended.