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Restoring a Thorburn Clark XL Rusticated Pipe


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

The next pipe that I picked up for restoration is a massive sized classic full bent Billiards shaped pipe that feels robust in the hands with a nice and comfortable feel in the mouth when clenched. It has the classic British shape which oozes excellent craftsmanship, very high quality of briar and vulcanite and screamed “VINTAGE”. No wonder then that this beauty had found its way in my grandfather’s rotation (seeing the condition that it was in) in the past and now will surely be part of my rotation too!!

The stummel of this pipe appears to be a combination of rustication and sandblast!! It is unique and it sure does feel good to run your fingers over the surface of the stummel. There is a thin strip of smooth briar surface at the bottom of the shank which bears the stampings on this pipe. It is stamped as “THORBURN CLARK” over “MANCHESTER”. To the left of this stamp towards the foot of the stummel, it is stamped as “XL” at an angel and to the right towards the shank end it is stamped with the letter “R”. The set of stampings on this pipe are all crisp and in block capital letters. The vulcanite stem bears the logo “TC”, in separate capital letters.While researching any pipe, the first site that I visit is rebornpipes.com since this is one site where I usually find well researched information on any brand that has anything, even remotely related, to pipes!! Now, till the time I got this pipe on my work table, I had not heard or read anything on this pipe maker and now that I have decided to work on it, rebornpipes does have a write up by Steve on a similar shaped pipe, though considerably smaller and with same rustication pattern as the one on my work table, from this carver. He had thoroughly researched this pipe and makes for an interesting read. Here is the link to the write up: https://rebornpipes.com/2017/12/03/restoring-a-thorburn-clark-rusticated-bent-billiard/

From the information that I read and the fact that this pipe came from my grandfather’s collection, this one could be dated from the period 1930s to 1940s.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
As observed with maximum of my inherited pipes, this too has a thick layer of cake in the chamber with overflow of lava on the rim top. The inner rim edge appears sans any damage and would be confirmed once the chamber has been reamed. The condition of the walls of the chamber can be commented upon once the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. However, the external surface of the stummel feels and looks solid and hence I do not foresee any major issues surprising me later. The ghost smells are very strong in the chamber.The rim top surface on this pipe as also rusticated like the rest of the stummel. As is commonly seen on rusticated or sandblasted pipes with some serious age on them, the crevices in these are always filled with dust, dirt, oils, tars and grime from all the years of smoking and storage. This one is no exception to this observation. The grooves of the sandblast are filled with dust while the small smooth bottom of the shank which bears the stamping is covered in dust and grime. The fact that the textured patterns of the rustications are dusty and filled with dirt is accentuated more due to the contrast of dark and medium brown stains on the stummel and the shank. The briar is looking lifeless and bone dry and has taken on black dull hues. The mortise is full of oils, tars and gunk and air flow is restricted. As usual, it is the stem that has suffered the maximum damage. Heavy oxidation, calcification in the bite zone, chewed and deformed button edges, heavy tooth chatter and a large through hole near the button edge on the lower surface are some of the common issues I have observed on maximum pipes in my inheritance. This is no exception. The tenon and slot on this stem is clogged with dried gunk making for a very laborious draw. The following pictures speak for themselves. INITIAL CLEANING BY ABHA…
The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 40-50 pipes and these have now reached me for further restoration). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

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

ONCE THE PIPE IS ON MY WORK TABLE…
The cleaned up pipes presents a very clear picture of what needs to be done to restore this pipe to a decent and smokable condition. I really cannot thank Abha, my wife, enough for all the help and support that she extends me in my pursuance of this hobby. I proceed to carry out my appreciation of the work that needs to be done on this pipe to restore it.

As with all the cleaned pipes that Abha packs, there was a note in the zip lock pouch with issues that she had observed in the pipe. The first point was that she was not happy with the way the stummel had cleaned up. Here are the pictures of the pipe as I had received. To be honest, the pipe had cleaned up nicely. What she thought is grime in the rustications is in fact the old stain which had loosened up. A simple wipe with Murphy’s Oil soap will clear out the loosened stain leaving behind a well set coat of darkened stain.

The second point was that the chamber has developed heat fissures. Close scrutiny of the chamber walls made me realize that there is still a very thin layer of cake in the chamber and it is my experience that this gives an appearance of heat fissures! Only after the cake has been completely removed will I be able to confirm presence of heat fissures or otherwise. There are traces of lava overflow deeply embedded in the rustications of the rim top surface. I now know what I should be gifting Abha for our forthcoming Anniversary (of course, a soft brass bristled wire brush as she does not have one…LoL!!). The outer and inner rim edges are in good condition. However, the ghost smells are still all pervasive. This would necessitate a more invasive internal cleaning of the shank and the chamber. The draught hole is dead center and at the bottom of the heel and should be a fantastic smoker. The stummel is clean with no traces of dust or dirt embedded in the nooks and crannies of the rustications other than what I have explained earlier. The stummel surface is solid and robust without any issues. The contrast of dark and medium brown stains looks gorgeous and should polish up nicely. This is really a well made pipe and the craftsmanship is right up in the ally of some really expensive and renowned brands. The mortise is clean. As expected, the stem is where major repairs are required. The button on the upper surface has completely worn down with deep bite marks as seen. The lower surface has a large gaping through hole very close to the edge of the button, exposing the stem’s air way. The button is completely worn out on the right side. Though an easy repair, it is time consuming. THE PROCESS
I embarked on the journey of restoring this pipe by addressing the stem first since it was damaged the most and would take considerable time to repair. Abha had done a fantastic job of cleaning the stem both internally and externally and this facilitated me to straight away heat the stem surface with the flame of a lighter which helps to raise the tooth indentation to the surface.I sand the stem surface with a 220 grit sand paper to even out the raised tooth indentation and remove what little oxidation that had remained on the surface. I follow it up by cleaning the surface with a cotton swab and alcohol. I wipe the stem with a cotton swab and Murphy’s oil soap to deep clean the surface. The stem surface is now ready for a fill.I appropriately folded an index card and covered it with a transparent tape which prevents the superglue and charcoal mix from sticking to the card. This is how it appears and fits in to the broken stem.I mix activated charcoal and superglue and fill the hole and the tooth indentations on the buttons and in the bite zone. I prefer to paint the entire bite zone with the mix and always apply a thick layer. This helps me in subsequent better blending of the fill with the rest of the stem surface by sanding it down. I set the stem aside for the fill to cure overnight.While the stem fill was curing, I worked the stummel surface. With my fabricated knife, I scraped out all the remaining cake from the chamber walls and followed it up by sanding with a 180 grit sand paper. This ensured that the cake was taken down to bare briar. I wiped the chamber with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the fine cake dust that was left behind. The amount of cake that was reamed out and that was after Abha had reamed and sanded it was surprising. But I was happy to note that there are no heat fissures in the walls of the chamber.With this reaming of the chamber, I had expected the ghost smells to be eliminated or at the least, considerably reduced. But that was not to be. I decided to address the issue of old odors in the chamber and shank by subjecting it to a cotton and alcohol bath. I wrapped some cotton around a folded pipe cleaner, keeping the tip of the pipe cleaner free of wrapped cotton as this would be inserted through the draught hole in to the chamber. This would form the wick for the shank. I tightly packed the chamber with cotton balls and filled it with 99% pure isopropyl alcohol using a syringe and set it aside. By next day, the cotton and alcohol had drawn out the tars and oils from the chamber and max from the shank. With tools at my disposal, I scraped out the entire loosened gunk (second picture) from the mortise and the airway leading to the draught hole. Am I glad that Abha’s fears of heat fissures in the walls were unfounded!! Next, I scrub the rusticated rim top surface and the stummel, cleaning it with a brass wired brush. This helped to dislodge the little overflow lava from rim top and the dried and loosened stain particles which previously were visible. I wiped the stummel surface with a cotton swab and Murphy’s oil soap. Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the stummel surface with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. I worked the restoration balm deep in to the textured rustications. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance. The stummel looks very handsome with the contrasting dark and light brown hues. Now that the stummel was nearly complete, I turned my attention to the stem refurbishing. The stem fill had cured well. Using a flat head needle file, I reshaped the button and roughly matched the fills with the rest of the stem surface. However, things rarely happen as you want them to happen and in this case, a few air pockets were revealed on both surfaces as I was sanding the fill with 220 grit sand paper. This is one phenomenon that I never want to see as it is involves a refill (time penalty) and still it is not always possible to address them completely!!I cleaned the surface with cotton swab and alcohol again and applied a fresh mix of activated charcoal and superglue. I set the stem fill aside to cure.Second round of sanding the stem and the end results… The air pockets are still visible in all their ugliness!! This was revealed when I had reached the end of my routine of sanding with ascending grit of sandpapers. Third round of fill and later sanding with 220, 400, 600, 800 and finishing with 0000 grade steel wool, I am happy with the results.I completed the polishing cycle of the stem by wet sanding the surface with 1500 to 12000 girt pads. The stem looks great with the fills nicely matched with the rest of the surface. I gave a final rub with “Before and After Extra Fine” stem polish compound to remove fine scratches from the stem surface. I rub a little quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil in to the stem surface and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite. The stem polished up nicely and the repairs appear good.To complete the restoration, I mount 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.I refreshed the stem logo with a white correction pen and a tooth pick. The letter C appears slightly worn at the ends.With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The completed pipe looks fresh, vibrant and ready for its next innings with me. This piece of briar feels fantastic in hands with its textured rustications, classic size and will find a place of pride in my collection as a part of the memories left behind by my grand old man. If only it could tell me stories it had witnessed and what tobacco did my grandfather smoke in this pipe!! Thank you to all esteemed readers for joining me and walking with me through this restoration. Cheers!!

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Restoring One of the Smallest Pipes in My Collection: A Peterson’s System 3 # 367, Eire


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

While going through the second box of my inherited pipes, I came across the smallest pipe in the entire collection and it was a Pete!! Given my grandfather’s love for large sized pipes, this was surprising and in all probability was a gift given to him by his departing British colleagues when we got our independence in 1947.

I have researched and worked on a few vintage as well as new Peterson’s and in first glance of this pipe I knew it to be a very old Peterson’s. The stummel has a nice spread of mixed grains all around and a nice feel in the hand despite its size. It is stamped vertically on the left side of the shank as “PETERSON’S” with a forked ‘P’ over “SYSTEM” over an encircled numeral “3”. The bottom of the shank close to the edge of the ferrule bears the COM stamp “EIRE” while model/ shape code “# 367” is stamped on the right side of the shank close to the bowl. The nickel ferrule bears the trademark Kapp & Peterson’s official logo of “K&P,” each in a shield shaped escutcheon.While dating a Peterson’s pipe, I always fall back to my under mentioned favorite site; http://thepetersonpipeproject.blogspot.com/2007/07/dating-peterons-pipes.html

I quote from the above site

Eire was formed on 29 December 1937. The Made in Eire Era will be from 1938 through roughly 1940(?) or 1941 (?).

The “Made in Ireland” block format (above) can be another headache in dating Peterson pipes since this stamp was used in the late Patent Era as well as the late 1940s. So for a guide we must take into consideration the style of lettering Peterson used on their pipes. From the start of the Patent Era until somewhere in the early 1930s, Peterson used the “Old Style” lettering that used a forked tail “P” in Peterson.

Thus from the above, it can be concluded that the pipe on my work table dates from 1930s.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The chamber has a decent layer of cake signifying limited usage. This is not surprising given the small size of the pipe. The rim top surface has several scratch marks forming a squared pattern, probably caused by scraping against abrasive surface during years of uncared for storage. The inner edge of the rim is severely damaged. Nicks and dings are also seen along the outer rim edge and the chamber appears out of round. Chamber has strong odors of sweet smelling tobaccos. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be commented upon once the cake has been reamed down to the bare briar, but going by the solid feel of the external surface, I do not foresee any serious issues/ surprises with the chamber walls.The stummel surface is covered in dust, dirt and grime of years of disuse and uncared for storage. Oils and tars have overflowed over the stummel and have attracted dust giving a dull and lackluster appearance to the stummel. A number of minor dents and scratches are seen over the stummel, notably towards the front, foot and the bottom of the shank. There are two fills clearly visible in front of the stummel. The mortise is clogged with accumulated dried gunk and so is the sump. The pipe smells are too strong. The full bent P-lip vulcanite stem is in a relatively good condition with light tooth chatter on either surfaces of the stem. The lower end of the stem at the tenon end which enters the mortise shows severe scratch marks and chipped surface, the result of rubbing against the sharp edges of the ferrule at the shank end. The button edges on both surfaces will need to be sharpened. The upper surface of the P-lip has bite marks and the slot edges have deformed due to bite marks. The tenon end has accumulated dried gunk and grime, both inside and outside. The stem is oxidized and the air way is not clear as the draw is laborious.INITIAL CLEANING BY ABHA…
The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 40-50 pipes and these have now reached me for further restoration). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

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

ONCE THE PIPE IS ON MY WORK TABLE…
The cleaned up pipes presents a very clear picture of what needs to be done to restore this pipe to a pristine and smokable condition. I really cannot thank Abha, my wife, enough for all the help and support that she extends me in my pursuance of this hobby. I proceed to carry out my appreciation of the work that needs to be done on this pipe to restore it.

Abha had told me that this is a very small pipe, but how small the chamber was, is what I noticed first when I got the cleaned up pipe on my work table. The wall of the chamber shows insignificant beginnings of heat fissure on the front right and back of the chamber walls. Though insignificant now, if not addressed at this stage, these heat fissures may further lead to burn outs. I need to address this issue. The rim top surface is uneven and pock marked with dents and dings. The inner edge is peppered with dents and dings. The chamber is significantly out of round, most notably on the right side in 1o’clock direction and charred inner rim edge on the left side in 3 o’clock direction. It is one of the major repairs on this pipe. The chamber, in spite of all the thorough cleaning by Abha, still has a strong ghost smells.The nicely cleaned stummel looks solid with nice mixed grains and swirls all around. The two fill at the front of the stummel are now clearly visible. I shall refresh this fill with a mix of briar dust and superglue. Abha had painstakingly cleaned out the mortise and the sump. However, I could still see remnants of the gunk in the sump and the still strong odor is a pointer to the requirement of further sanitizing the internals of the stummel. The ferrule at the end of the shank end came loose as I was inspecting the stummel. This gave me an opportunity to closely inspect the shank end for cracks or any damage. I scrapped out the dried old glue from the shank end. I did notice a small crack at the top where the ferrule sat on the shank end (circled in red) that would need to be repaired. The edges of the ferrule at the shank end have become very sharp and had caused the damage observed on the tenon end of the stem. I need to address this issue.The cleaned up stem that came to me shows few scratches to the tenon end where it seats in to the mortise and was caused due to the sharp edges of the ferrule. I will address this issue by sanding the surface followed by a fill, if required. The upper surface and button edge of the P-lip shows damage and will have to sharpen the button while sanding and filling the surface. Similarly, the lower button edge has a few tooth indentations and will need a fill to repair. The edges around the slot has bite marks (marked in yellow), deforming the shape of the slot. I shall need to reshape the slot end. THE PROCESS
I started this project by sanding the stem surface with a 220 grit sand paper to address the issue of ferrule damage to the tenon end of the stem. Fortunately, the scratches were completely eliminated by sanding alone, obviating the need for a fill. I wiped the stem with alcohol on a cotton swab to remove all the vulcanite dust from the stem surface. I followed it up by wiping the surface with Murphy’s Oil soap.The next stem issue to be addressed was that of the damage at the slot end of the stem. The first two pictures below shows the extent of damage to the slot, upper surface button edge and lower button edge. I heat both the surfaces with the flame of a lighter to raise the tooth chatter and bite marks to the surface and sand it with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to even out the surface. The next set of pictures show the efficacy of this method in raising the damage to the surface. I mix clear superglue and activated charcoal and applied it over the both button edges, upper P-lip surface and lower surface of the P-lip. I set the stem aside for the fills to cure.Next I decided to address the issue of strong ghost smells in the chamber. To eliminate the ghost smells from the pipe, I decided to treat it with salt and alcohol. I pack the sump with cotton and draw out a wick from the cotton and along with a folded regular pipe cleaner; insert it in to the mortise and through the draught hole in the chamber. I pack cotton balls in to the remaining portion of the mortise. Thereafter, I pack the chamber with cotton balls to about quarter of an inch below the rim inner edge. I soak the cotton balls with isopropyl alcohol up to the brim. About half an hour later, the level of alcohol has gone down, having being absorbed by the cotton. I top 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, sump and mortise. I removed the cotton balls and the dirt can be gauged by the appearance and coloration of the cotton balls and the pipe cleaner. With my fabricated knife and dental tools, I spent the next hour scrapping out the entire loosened gunk from the mortise and the sump. I ran pipe cleaners through the mortise to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk that had lodged when I cleaned the sump and mortise. The chamber now smells clean, fresh and looks it too. I set the stummel to dry out naturally. I sand the walls of the chamber with 180 grit sand paper and removed the little carbon cake that had loosened out. This also eliminated what I had thought to be heat fissures, which in effect was carbon cake. I heaved a sigh of relief at this development.

While the chamber was soaking in the alcohol bath, I worked the stem fills which had hardened considerably. With a flat head needle file, I sand these fills to achieve a rough match. I further fine tuned the match by sanding the filled area with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger. I followed it up by sanding the entire stem surface using 400, 600, 800 grit sand papers and finally with a piece of 0000 grade steel wool. This serves to remove the deep seated oxidation and also reduces the sanding marks of the more abrasive sand papers. I also sharpened the button edges while sanding. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the oxidation and sanding dust from the surface. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil over the stem and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite.The two fills that Abha had noticed, was picked clean with a thin sharp edged dental tools and would need to be filled. I refreshed the fills with a mix of briar dust and superglue and set the stummel aside for the fill to cure.Turning my attention back to the stem, I decided to polish and shine up the stem surface. I wet sand the stem with 1500 to 12000 girt micromesh pads. Next I rub a small quantity of extra fine stem polish that I had got from Mark and set it aside to let the balm work its magic. After about 10 minutes, I hand buffed the stem with a microfiber cloth to a nice shine. I rub a small quantity of olive oil in to the stem surface to hydrate it and set it aside. Turning my attention back to the stummel, I matched the fill with the rest of the stummel surface by sanding the fill with a flat head needle file followed by sanding the fill and the entire stummel with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. I was especially very careful around the stummel stampings, least I obliterate it by sanding. This also helped to remove much of the old glue from the shank end and provide a smooth surface. The next stummel issue that I addressed was that of the rim top surface damage. I topped the rim on a piece of 220 grit sand paper, checking frequently till I was satisfied that the charred inner rim edge on the left side in 3 ‘O’ clock direction was addressed to a great extent and the rim top surface is nice, smooth and even. The inner edge is still uneven, though much better than before topping, and shall be addressed next. With a folded piece of a 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger, I created a slight bevel on the inner edge of the rim top surface. This helped to mask the out of round chamber and address the minor dents that had remained on the inner rim edge. It can never be perfect, it’s a repair after all, but the repairs sure looks great. I polished the stummel with micromesh pads, dry sanding with 1500 to 12000 pads. I polished the freshly topped rim surface and the newly created inner rim bevel. I wiped the surface with a soft cloth at the end of the micromesh cycle. The stummel looks amazing with a deep shine and beautiful grains popping over the stummel surface. I am surprised that the rim top surface has the same deep brown coloration as the rest of the stummel surface and use of stain pen was not required. I massaged a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” with my fingers into the briar. The immediate and incredible transformation that takes place is a worthy reward for all the efforts!!! I let the balm sit on the surface to be absorbed in to the briar for about 20 minutes. The bowl now looks fresh and attractive with the grains popping out any which way you look at the briar; it feels somewhat like DIWALI, festival of lights celebrated here in India. I polished off the balm with a soft cloth to a lovely shine. I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches.Before I could move on to polishing with carnauba wax, there was one issue yet to be addressed. It was the small crack that was seen at the lip of the shank end over which the ferrule was to be glued back. The crack had developed in the thinnest part of the shank end. If I were to drill a counter hole at the end of the crack, there was a possibility that the resulting vibrations of the drill bit and rotary tool would cause the surrounding surface to break/ shatter or I could end up with a through hole. The best course thus, was to stabilize the crack with superglue and the ferrule would protect the crack from further external damage.

With the repair of the shank end crack sorted out, I move to polishing the ferrule. I rub a small quantity of ‘Colgate’ toothpowder over the ferrule surface. Those who have not tried out this trick, must try it out at least once, it works like magic and imparts a nice shine to the nickel plated (it works even better on Sterling Silver) ferrule. I apply superglue over the shank end, adding an extra dollop of glue over the crack, align the ferrule stamp with that on the shank and attach the ferrule over it. I press it down firmly for a couple of minutes to let the glue set. After the glue had completely cured, I tried the seating of the stem in to the mortise. It was perfect with no brushing against the edges of the ferrule. I applied a little petroleum jelly on the walls of the mortise with a q-tip as this reduces friction and moisturizes the briar and moved on to the final polishing with carnauba wax. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks beautiful and will be an addition to my collection of Peterson’s pipes!! P.S. The two refreshed fills have naturally blended in so well with the rest of the stummel that I did not feel it necessary to stain the stummel to mask them. This has to be one of the tiniest Peterson’s pipes or may be any pipes that I have worked on till date. I had just recently worked on a massive Yello-Bole “Imperial” # 68 C pipe and then this small pipe. It was fun though!! Here is a picture for size comparison between the two!Sincere gratitude to all the readers who have shared this part of my journey in to the world of pipe restoration…Cheers!!

 

Restoring 16th Pipe from the Mumbai Bonanza Lot; an Amphora X-tra # 726


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

The next pipe that I had selected to work on was dictated by my desire to work on something that would be a simple and an easy project. I went through the lot that Abha, my wife, had sent me duly cleaned and selected one that came to us in a lot which I prefer to call as my Mumbai Bonanza!!

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

This 16th pipe that I decided to work on from this find is a medium sized straight billiards and is indicated in yellow color arrow. It has a very solid feel in the hand with top quality briar. The pipe in fact oozes of very high quality of craftsmanship with perfect proportions and classic design!! It is stamped on the left of the shank as “AMPHORA” in block capital letters over “X-tra – 726” in sentence form. The right side of the shank is stamped as “GENUINE BRIAR” over COM stamp “AMPHORA – Holland”. All the stampings are crisp and easily readable. The logo seen on this stem is letter ‘A’ embossed in a circle.Since this is the first Amphora pipe that I am working on, I was keen to know more about this brand and if possible, dating this pipe. I first turned to pipedia.org for information and the little information that I gained is reproduced below:-

Amphora pipes are made in Holland by the Jos. Gubbels organization, the same company which makes the very well known and loved Amphora Pipe Tobaccos. The pipes are produced in relatively small numbers to a high standard and not commonly found. They were used primarily in promotions and incentives for Amphora tobacco.

The Royal Dutch Pipe Factory Elbert Gubbels & Sons B.V. is the only manufacturer of briarroot tobacco pipes in the Benelux countries where pipes of high quality are made under the brands Big Ben, Hilson, Royal Dutch and Amphora. They also supply numerous smokers’ accessories of high quality.

I came across this shape chart posted on this site courtesy Doug Valitchka, which shows the shape # 726 as being a medium billiard and similar to the one on my table.Next I turned to pipephil.eu and the only additional information I learned was that its mother company, The Royal Dutch Pipe Factory went bankrupt in 2012.

Still not satisfied with the information gained so far, I turned to rebornpipes.com and sure enough, I came across this addendum by Robert M. Boughton which points to a connection of Amphora pipes to Dr. Grabow!! This does make for a very interesting read and is highly recommended. Here is the link to the write up:-

https://rebornpipes.com/2016/08/24/about-the-winner-of-an-amphora-bent-billiard-and-more-information-on-the-brand/

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The pipe came to us in a very well smoked state and a thick layer of cake build up is observed in the chamber. The rim top surface is covered in the thick overflow of lava and several dents and dings to the inner and outer rim edges can be seen, probably caused due to tapping it must have received at the hands of the previous owner to remove the dottle. This will need to be addressed.The smooth stummel surface has beautiful grain patterns with a mix of Bird’s eye, cross grains and nice swirls. The stummel surface has dulled a bit and appears lifeless due to accumulation of dust and dirt. The mortise and the draught hole are clogged with accumulation of oils and tars making the draw laborious.The straight vulcanite saddle stem has a slight flair out towards the slot end and is deeply oxidized with bite marks and tooth chatter on either surface in the bite zone, more so on the upper surface of the stem. The insides of the slot and tenon have heavy accumulation of oils and tars. The stem has calcification deposits towards the button end. The button edges also have bite marks; in fact, they are worn out at places. The embossed logo of ‘A’ has faded a bit.INITIAL CLEANING BY ABHA…
The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 40-50 pipes and these have now reached me for further restoration). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

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

ONCE THE PIPE IS ON MY WORK TABLE…
The cleaned up pipes presents a very clear picture of what needs to be done to restore this pipe to a pristine and smokable condition. I really cannot thank Abha, my wife, enough for all the help and support that she extends me in my pursuance of this hobby. I proceed to carry out my appreciation of the work that needs to be done on this pipe to restore it.

The chamber is odorless and the walls are solid without any signs of damage. The smooth rim top surface with nicks and uneven surface is where all the action is on this pipe with an equally damaged inner and outer rim edge. This should be addressed to some extent when I top the rim surface.The stummel surface is without any fills or dents and dings. The only issue that I can figure is the dull and dry appearance of the stummel. This stummel will turn out beautiful and the grains will stand out once I have sanded and polished the surface. The mortise and shank internals are nice and clean.The oxidation on the vulcanite stem has been greatly reduced, thanks to all the efforts put in by Abha, clearly defining the deeper bite marks and the damage to the button edges on both surfaces of the stem. These tooth marks would be required to be filled with a mix of activated charcoal and superglue. A bit of sanding to match the fill and remove the deeper oxidation followed by micromesh polishing cycle should add a nice shine to the stem. The stem logo, unfortunately, appears to have worn out during the initial cleaning. I shall try and highlight it to the extent possible.THE PROCESS
The first issue I addressed was that of the stem repairs as this would take the maximum of my time to clean, repair and subsequently spruce up the stem. I flamed the damaged button edge and the tooth indentations with the flame of a lighter. This helps the vulcanite to rise to the surface as it has an inherent property to regain its original shape when heated. Once the vulcanite had risen to the surface, a few linear pits were observed right at the bottom of the button edge on both sides of the stem surface (marked in red semi circle). It appears as if the stem surface would break and cave in along these linear pits. To address this issue and also to sharpen the button edges, I mixed superglue and activated charcoal powder and diligently applied it over the pits in the bite zone on both upper and lower stem surface and over both the button edges and set it aside to cure.With the stem fill set aside to cure, I started with cleaning of the stummel surface. With a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper, I sand the entire stummel surface. This not only removes the stubborn dirt and grime that remained on the stummel but also evens out the minor dents and dings from the surface. I followed it up with sanding using a piece of 0000 grade steel wool. This helps reduce the sanding marks left behind by the coarser grit sand paper. These sanding marks will be completely eliminated once I am through with micromesh and Blue Diamond polish.Now that I had a fair idea of the extent of topping required to the rim surface, I top the rim on a piece of 220 grit sand paper to even out the rim surface dents and dings. I addressed the uneven inner edge by creating a light bevel to inner edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and index finger. To further smooth out the scratches left behind by the abrasive 220 girt sand paper, I top the rim surface on a piece of 400 grit sand paper. I had hoped that further sanding with a 400 grit paper will address the minor dings that remained on the outer edge, but that was not to be. Thus, with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and index finger, I created a light bevel over the outer edge. I am very happy at the way the chamber and rim top surface appears at this point in restoration.I subjected the stummel to a complete cycle of micromesh polish, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I paid greater attention to polish the rim top surface and the bevels created on the inner and outer rim edges. I wiped the stummel with a moist cloth after every grit pad to remove the sanding dust left behind by the pads. This also helps in monitoring the progress being made and provides an opportunity to take early corrective action, if required. I am happy with the progress being made till now. Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips and worked it deep in to the surface and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful swirl grain patterns on full display. The contrast of the dark browns of the grain with the light hues of the rest of the stummel adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush to further deepen the shine. Turning my attention to the stem repairs in my home stretch, using a flat head needle file, I reshaped the button and roughly matched the fills with the rest of the stem surface. I sand the fills with a piece of folded 220 grit sand paper and followed it up by further sanding the stem with 320, 600, 800 grit sand papers and finally with a piece of 0000 grade steel wool to achieve a perfect blending of the fills with the stem surface and a build a crisp button edge on either surface of the stem. The repairs look good and the stem should polish up nicely.I completed the polishing cycle of the stem by wet sanding the surface with 1500 to 12000 girt pads. The stem looks great with the fills nicely matched with the rest of the surface. I gave a final rub with “Before and After Extra Fine” stem polish compound from Mark to remove fine scratches from the stem surface. I rub a little quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil in to the stem surface and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite. The stem polished up nicely and appears as good as when new. To complete the restoration, I mount 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 apply a coat of carnauba wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe with a natural finish to the briar looks amazingly beautiful and is now ready for a change of guard with a new piper. The pipe feels really light in the hand and has such a perfect balance in the mouth if you like to smoke your pipe clenched. I really appreciate your valuable time spent in walking the distance with me on this restoration.

COMPLICATING A SIMPLE RESTORATION OF A CUTTY MEERSCHAUM!!


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Truth be told, this project which started while my friend and mentor Steve, Jeff and Dal Stanton were visiting us here in May of 2019, had become a mental block for me to work on. I had this meerschaum pipe that came without a stem and I had requested Steve if he could get me one when he came visiting. He brought along a potential stem for either the meerschaum currently on my work table or for an early Ben Wade Fancy cutty, again from my inheritance. In the course of our time here we looked over the stem that he had brought along and tried it on the meerschaum and the Ben Wade. We chose not to use the stem on the meerschaum and it was too large in diameter for the Ben Wade. It was decided that Steve would take the Ben Wade back home to find a suitable stem from his bag of spares (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/05/20/restoring-restemming-an-1851-ben-wade-silver-clad-cutty/) while an amber stem from my spares of odds and ends would be used for the meerschaum. The selected replacement amber stem is shown below.This meerschaum pipe in a Cutty shape, with a forward canted bowl that flows in to the shank, is in its original leather case. In looks alone, it has unparalleled beauty with nice deep egg yolk yellow coloration to the stummel and shank with a black flume to the rim top which extends ½ inch down. The shank is devoid of any stampings and the only stamp seen is on the case. The leather covered wood case is stamped on the inside of the top lid in an oval as “Alfred MASSIN” over “LIEGE” over “R. DELA CATHEDRALE, 56”. On the lower lid, on the outer edge, it is stamped as “A MASSIN, LIEGE”Other than a known fact that Liege is an important economic hub of Belgium, there was no information found on the internet to establish the provenance of this pipe. The only guess that I can afford is that Alfred Massin was/is a tobacconist in Liege, Belgium who either made or bought pipes to be sold under his name. In all probability, the later holds true and this could be a Vienna made meer (famous for making meerschaum pipes).

PART I
Since my esteemed guests were to leave in next couple of days, we prioritized the work that would need to be done while Steve was in town and thus I have departed from my usual process of initial visual inspection. This, I shall be carrying out before I start the Part II of the process.

As brought out earlier, the chosen replacement amber stem, though not a perfect fit, had a nice flowing profile that matched the flow of the meerschaum cutty.  More importantly, it sat over the threaded bone tenon in the mortise with an acceptable flawed flush which could be addressed during the course of restoring this beauty. There was a slight difference in the shoulder size of this stem as compared to that of the shank end. It was shorter too, but nothing could be done about it!! The least we could attempt was to make it smoke worthy again and that is what we set about to achieve.Steve suggested that a sterling silver ring should help masking this gap while adding a nice bling to the monotonous profile of the pipe (which by itself is eye catching!!). Steve, Jeff, Abha and I visited many of our city jewelers on a hunt for one such sterling silver ring without any success. At one of the jeweler’s shop, we got a lead to a person who would fabricate one such ring for us and when we reached this shop, it was primitive, small, dingy and not confidence inspiring for sure. But when we saw him work, it was amazing and he excelled in his work. He did not have any complicated and sophisticated instruments for measurements or for fabricating or welding, but he sure made us the perfect ring for the oval shank end at an astonishingly low cost!! And the fit was excellent. His workmanship and skills did leave Steve and Jeff highly impressed. Here are some pictures of the Silversmith in action and the end result. At this stage, Steve and Jeff had to bid farewell to us as their stay had come to an end and I would have to continue this restoration alone.

DISASTER STRIKES AND HOW!!
After we had dropped Steve and Jeff at the airport, I came back to a void as suddenly there was nothing to do, nothing to look forward to!! I decided to continue my work on this pipe by cleaning the internals of the replacement amber stem. But the moment I started to clean, DISASTER struck! I dropped the amber stem to the floor. Everyone in my house looked on with stunned silence as it hit the tiled floor…the stem chipped at the slot end!! Luckily, even though the chip was a large chunk of amber, the stem had not shattered!! It could still be repaired by gluing the piece back. I took a deep breath and tried to insert a pipe cleaner to clean the air way. And lo!! I managed to drop the stem again on the hard floor!! There was a moment of silence followed by a pandemonium with every member in the family contributing to my agony with their barbed comments and advice!! The damage was still controllable with another large chip to the button end, the stem still being intact. I could work on the stem no further and set it aside and called it a day, carefully packing the chipped chunks in a zip lock pouch. I am sure that none of the readers of rebornpipes.com expected me to take pictures of this disaster and if any one does, I am sorry, I did not take any!!

I did not touch the stem or pipe the entire next day.

A new dawn and I did think of working the stem again deciding to glue all the chipped chunks back together. Steve had brought me a few tubes of superglue that he uses and I was looking forward to using it. I requested Abha, my wife, to work her magic and clean out the chamber and shank internals. While she was at it, I carefully removed the chunks from the pouch and got the stem out and laid it out on the dining table. I opened the container and removed the glue. As I was unscrewing the tube cap, my hand slipped, pushed the stem over the table and further crashing down to the floor!! Not a single word from anyone at the table as they simply left save for Pavni, my youngest daughter’s remark, “BUTTER FINGERS!!” She is not the one who would let such a golden opportunity pass by!! I too sat in stunned silence as I couldn’t vent my anger on anyone, but me!! There was nothing that I could do, but assess the damage. The stem was still intact; the damage was again localized to the slot end, albeit this time the breakage was akin to shattering and I could see the beginnings of a fault line on the top surface near the tenon end!! Another crash and the stem will most likely shatter along this fault line. I picked up the stem and the pieces of broken amber (as many as I could collect) and packed them in a zip lock bag and put the pouch away with no further desire to work on this pipe!! Abha, on her part, flatly refused to even touch the pipe and so back it went in to its case where it would be safer than in our hands (read that as my hands!!)

I DID NOT TOUCH THIS PIPE THEREAFTER FOR THE ENTIRE DURATION OF MY LEAVE, TO THE EXTENT, THAT I DID NOT EVEN GET IT BACK TO MY PLACE OF WORK ALONG WITH THE OTHER PIPES!!

PART II

In the month of July 2019, Abha had sent me a huge lot of 40 pipes that she had cleaned up and there at right at the top of the pile was this meerschaum pipe in its case!! I further procrastinated for another 3 months before working on this pipe.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION

This is how the pipe was received by me. Oh my!! Do I really want to work on it, not really!! My expert workmanship is gloriously on display if you observe closely at the slot end of the stem….LOL!, me and my butter fingers!! Before the above disaster struck and we finally put the pipe aside, Abha had partially reamed out the thick layer of cake from the chamber. Now on my work table, I would need to completely ream the chamber and clean out the little remaining cake. Unfortunately the rim of this pipe too appears to have been subjected to being banged on the edge of the table to remove the dottle, albeit with a little gentleness, as can be seen from the damage to the inner edge of the rim. The chamber is out-of-round towards the left side in 9 o’clock direction. Overflow of lava can be seen on the rim top surface. In my appreciation, these are not major issues to address.  The stummel surface has developed a glorious patina over the years of smoking and I need to preserve it. However, the surface is covered in dust and grime. Numerous scratches can be seen to the front, back and sides of the stummel. The shank top and bottom surface too has numerous scratches. The bottom of the shank appears to have a small fill which has been circled in red. This fill/flaw in meerschaum felt solid on light probing with my pointed dental pick. The threaded bone tenon is fixed in to the shank end over which the replaced Amber stem will get attached. This bone tenon is covered in oils and tars and the shank internals are heavily clogged with accumulation of old and dried gunk making airflow through it laborious and restricted. The stem is where my patience, diligence and skills are going to be tested. The following pictures tell the story themselves. The reader will now get a picture as to why this project has been kept pending for the last 5 months! The fault line or beginnings of a crack that I had mentioned earlier are marked in blue circle. Amber stem repair is the most delicate and difficult of all stem repairs and is sure to test my patience and mental robustness. I need to arm myself with as much information on these repairs as possible. The air way can be seen through the broken portion of the stem surface is covered in dried gunk. This will have to be cleaned. The leather covered wooden case is solid with all the hinges and locking mechanism in excellent working condition. The dark brown lining along the edges has come off at certain places and at some places has been completely torn off. The leather covering is in excellent condition, save for heavy accumulation of dust, dirt and grime. The leather has dulled under all this grime and dirt. This should clean up nicely. The satin lining inside the box lid cover has become dirty and stained over the years. However, the markings are still crisp and shining. The gold velvet lining which houses the pipe too has dulled and covered in dirt and grime. The insides and outside of this case should clean up nicely. THE PROCESS PART II
I decided to restart this restoration with the stem repairs. Actually, I wanted to fight the demons in my head as far as this stem repair is concerned. I first discussed this repair with Steve and read all the write ups on Amber stem repairs on rebornpipes.com. This helped me get a fair idea as to how I should be generally going about this project. I carefully removed all the broken bits and pieces of the stem from the zip lock pouch and meticulously laid them out over the broken stem surface, something akin to solving a jigsaw puzzle. I made a mental map of all the pieces and also of the pieces that were missing. The second picture shows the placement of broken pieces of amber, the missing parts and overall intended repairs required.Once this mental map was ready, I moved ahead with first cleaning out the internals of the stem airway. Now, I was cautioned by Steve not to use alcohol to clean the amber stem and so I used plain warm water with pipe cleaners and shank brush. I was cautious when I cleaned tenon end of the stem so as not to stress the developing crack. Steve also had given me a Mantra of going about this project; LESS IS MORE!! Well, this shall be my guideline as I go about repairing the stem and further restoring this pipe. With the stem internals as clean as I could possibly get, I insert a petroleum jelly smeared pipe cleaner in to the stem airway. This prevents the CA superglue from flowing in to it and subsequently clogging the airway. I applied CA superglue over the broken surface of the stem with a toothpick and stuck the broken portions of the stem making sure that they are aligned perfectly. The portion that had missing parts was filled with clear CA superglue. I applied the superglue over the developing crack at the tenon end so it would permeate in to the crack and stabilize it. I set the stem aside for the repairs to cure.Next I worked on the stummel clearing out all the remaining cake from the chamber using PipNet reamer size head 1 and 2. I used my fabricated smaller knife to remove the cake from areas not reached by the reamer head. To remove the last traces of old cake and even out the chamber walls, I sand the entire chamber with folded piece of 180 grit sand paper. I gently scraped off the lava overflow from the rim top surface with my fabricated knife.

Continuing with internal cleaning, I cleaned out the shank internals and the mortise using hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in 99.9% isopropyl alcohol. The shank internals were so clogged and dirty that while cleaning at one point I thought that I would never get a pipe cleaner to come out clean!! But eventually I did manage to get a few pipe cleaners to come clean and the shank internals are now nice and clean and fresh. I wiped the threaded bone tenon with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove the dried gunk from the surface. Slowly and surely, progress is being made and I am happy with it.The stem repairs had cured nicely by the next afternoon and so I decided to work the stem. I sand the repairs with a flat head needle file, huge mistake that was!! A small chunk came off the stem. The demons came back to haunt me again. Muttering a prayer for divine intervention, I set about gluing the chunk back on to the stem surface. I again aligned the broken chunk with the surface and applied generous coat of super glue over the complete repairs, including the tenon end repairs and set it aside.  While the stem repairs were set aside to cure, I wiped the stummel surface with a cotton swab and Murphy’s Oil soap. The stummel surface is now free of all the dust and grime. I also cleaned out the last traces of lava from the rim top surface. The stummel and rim top surface now looks dull, but it is clean. I shall bring back the rich shine when I polish it further.    I followed up the external cleaning of the stummel with addressing the issue of uneven and out of round inner rim edge. I created a bevel to the inner edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. This helps to mask the out of round chamber while addressing the uneven inner rim edge. I could still see one major dent within this freshly created bevel and the only way to address this without further compromising the thickness of the rim was to sand it down at the cost of altering the profile of the beautifully shaped stummel. This was not acceptable to me and I decided to let it be. It shall remain as part of this pipe’s journey till date! Back to the stem repairs!! The glue had shrunk while curing and not wanting to take any more chances, I apply another coat of superglue over the repairs on both upper and lower surfaces of the stem. I set it aside for the night to cure.Reaching back for the stummel, I was caught in a conflict; should I sand the stummel with 220 grit sand paper to remove all the scratches to make it look pristine and loose the patina that has developed over the years or preserve the coloration and patina. I decided on the later, after all it is the coloration taken on by the meer over the years which is more important and the existing scratches are a part of its journey through the years, is how I convinced myself!! I polished the stummel surface by dry sanding it with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. Some minor scratches were also addressed while imparting a nice deep shine to the stummel. The patina was also preserved. All in all, I am pleased with the appearance of the stummel at this stage. Even though the black flume has been lost at places from the rim top surface, it is an easy fix and I shall address it next. I painted the discolored flume from the rim top surface and adjoining areas with a permanent marker and shall blend it further subsequently.Other than final polish using Blue Diamond followed by Wax, the stummel work is complete. I need to concentrate only on the stem repair now. What followed over next two days and nights is fill, cure and thereafter sand!! I did not get a needle file anywhere near the stem. For sanding, I used 400, 600 and 800 grit sand papers only and completely avoided the coarser grades.   I still found the repairs did show themselves in all their ugliness and sought Steve’s advice on the same. He put my mind to rest by appreciating the repairs while commenting that it’s a repair and can never look like original!! He also suggested I take a look at all the amber stem repairs he had done so far and that in all cases the repairs do show. Such is the humility of this gentleman!! Well, truth be told, I too had no heart to work any further on the repairs and moved ahead with polishing the stem. I wet sand the stem with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, frequently wiping it with a moist cloth to monitor the progress made. I am satisfied with the appearance of the stem at this stage. Remember the mantra for this restoration…Less is more!! Stummel done, stem done!! All that remained was the original case that housed this pipe. Firstly, I reattached all the dark brown linings that had come loose with superglue. I wiped the brown 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 either tearing the lining or messing up the stampings. I completely dried the lining using paper towels. It now does look nice and rich. With the externals and internals of the case all cleaned up, it remained to rejuvenate the leather. I applied a generous coat of neutral color shoe polish (it is basically wax!) on either surfaces and kept it aside to be absorbed by the leather. Prevalent heat in my part of the country also kept the polish in a semi-liquid state which further helped in absorption. I polished it with a horse hair shoe brush to a nice shine and gave a final buffing with a microfiber cloth.This project was finally nearing completion!! When I attached the stem to the stummel, I realized that the fit is overturned due to all the cleaning of the tenon and the stem. I applied a thick coat of clear nail polish over the threaded tenon and after it had dried, I turned the stem over the tenon. The fit was snug and aligned perfectly. Thank God for such mercies!!To finish, I re-attach the stem with the stummel. I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool.  I set the speed at lowest power and applied Blue Diamond compound over the stummel and the stem surface. I wiped/ buffed the pipe 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 stummel 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. The completed pipe, with its golden hues and aged patina and a dark egg yolk colored amber stem, looks lovely, fresh and vibrant; the photographs speak for themselves. The beauty, size and shape of this pipe, not to mention the challenges and time it took me to get around restoring it, make it one of my favorites and will find a place of pride in my modest collection. If only the pipe could tell some of the stories of its provenance and experiences gathered on the way as it found me…Cheers!! P.S. I did smoke this pipe and enjoyed the fruits of my labor. It’s a fantastic smoke to say the least.

Refurbishing a Tired Looking Oom Paul from Steve’s Grab Box


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Steve, my friend and mentor, had sent me a pipe lot of 15 pipes for restoration. These assorted pipes were sent to me with an intent that these would provide me with an opportunity to further hone my skills and gain experience in tackling varied issues that one may come across during restoration. Each of these pipes has its own set of issues to address and I look forward to work on each one of this pipe lot. Here is the picture of the pipes as I received it, less the one marked with a cross in red which is a Dunhill Root and restored by Steve for my personal collection.I had worked on a no name straight billiard (marked number 1) from this lot and it turned out to be a beautiful pipe. The next pipe from this lot that I selected to work on is an Oom Paul and is marked with a yellow arrow and numeral 2.This pipe has a nice heft to it and the classic Oom Paul shape lends itself to be clenched comfortably while having your hands free. The stummel is combination of islands of smooth surface formed due to stitches-like rustications crisscrossing the length and breadth of the stummel. It is stamped on the left side of the shank as “Oom Paul” in block capital, increasing in letter size towards the shank end. On the bottom of the shank and very close to the shank end it is stamped as “Israel” in sentence case. There is no stamping on the vulcanite full bent stem.This is the first pipe that I am working on coming from Israel and so to learn more about it, I visited pipedia.org. I searched the link for Israel in Pipe Brands/ Makers and found that Israel has only one pipe factory, The Shalom Pipe factory. Thus it is highly probable that this pipe too came from this factory. No other information was available on the internet that I could research. It does appear to be an ol’ timer though.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
There is a thick layer of cake in the huge chamber pointing to the fact that this was the previous owner’s favorite pipe. The stitch-like rustications on the rim top surface are filled with dust and dirt and yes, surprisingly without overflowing lava accumulation. The inner and outer rim edges are in decent shape. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be only ascertained once the cake has been taken down to bare briar. Thankfully, the chamber has very mild odor which should be eliminated once the chamber and shank internals have been cleaned.The stummel is covered in dirt and grime that gives it a dull and tired appearance. The large smooth paneled surface on the right side of the stummel is considerably darker in appearance as compared to the right side. However, the entire stummel has a solid feel to it. The stitch-like rustications that crisscross the entire stummel are filled with dust and dirt and appear lighter than the smooth surfaces. There are patches of dried oils and grime which has attracted a lot of dust. Through all this dirt and grime, beautiful Bird’s eye and cross grains peek out from the smooth surface. Once the stummel is cleaned and polished, these grains will pop out in all their refined glory. All in all as it stands now, this is one dull and tired looking stummel that requires a lot of TLC!! The mortise has a sump at the bottom that is similar to the Peterson’s System pipes, with the opening for the draught hole well above this sump. The mortise and the sump are clogged with oils and tars. This will need to be thoroughly cleaned.The stem, to put it mildly, is a mess!! Apart from being heavily oxidized, it has deep bite marks on both upper and lower stem surface. Heavy tooth chatter is seen all over the bite zone on both sides of the stem surface. The button has been badly chewed with deep tooth indentations on both sides of the stem. The aluminum stinger is surrounded by a thick layer of accumulated dried oils and tars and could not be dislodged from the tenon end. The tenon end and slot shows heavy accumulation of gunk, making air flow very laborious. All these issues need to be addressed. INITIAL CLEANING BY ABHA……….
Ever since we had an on-the-job learning on initial cleaning and restoration when Jeff and Steve visited us, Abha is enjoying her part of work in restoring pipes (read that as initial cleaning) and is getting better and faster in her chosen field. She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She scrubbed out the dried oils, tars and gunk from the mortise with a fabricated dental spatula and further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

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

ONCE THE PIPE IS ON MY WORK TABLE……
The cleaned up pipes presents a very clear picture of what needs to be done to restore this pipe to a pristine and smokable condition. I really cannot thank Abha, my wife, enough for all the help and support that she extends me in my pursuance of this hobby. A clean pipe also helps in clearly identifying the work that would be required to restore a pipe. The pictures shows the condition of the pipe when it reached me after being cleaned. The stummel is nice and clean with the stitch-like rustications now appearing considerably lighter than the rest of the stummel surface. With the dirt and dust that covered the surface cleaned out, the smooth surfaces on the stummel presents an array of beautiful cross and Bird’s eye grains. The smooth surface on right side of the stummel is considerably darker (circled in red) than the left and will need to be examined closely. However, the stummel is solid to the touch, thereby ruling out a total burn out. I am sanguine that after a nice polish with micromesh pads followed by further wax polish, the stummel would look beautiful and stately. The large deep chamber is nice clean and odorless with minor heat fissures all around the walls. These fissures on the right side (marked in red circle) are likely to be more severe as the outer surface is considerably darkened than the left side of the stummel. I need to explore these heat fissures further to determine the extent of the depth of these fissures. However, I am certain that these are not an all out burn through, but mostly like the beginnings of one. The mortise and sump is spotlessly clean, thanks to a stupendous job done by Abha. As spelled out in my initial appreciation, prima facie it is the stem that has suffered the most damage at the hands of the previous owner. I say prima facie since at this stage, I am not sure about the hidden gremlins in the form of heat fissures which necessitates detailed exploration. The bite zone is peppered with tooth chatter and deep tooth indentations on both sides of the stem. The buttons on both the sides are badly deformed with deep bite marks and signs of presence of deep seated oxidation. I would need to sharpen the edges of the buttons also. I intend to first raise these indentations to the surface by heating and sanding followed by filling it with a mix of activated charcoal and superglue. By sanding to even out the stem fill and remove the deeper oxidation followed by micromesh polishing cycle should add a nice shine to the stem. The aluminum stinger, tenon and slot are nice and clean. THE PROCESS
Firstly, I heat the surface of the stem with the flame of a lighter to raise the tooth indentations to the surface and follow it up with a sanding with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. This helped to even out the raised surface, address the tooth chatter and also remove the deep seated oxidation to some extent. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove the raised oxidation and the resulting sanding dust. However, the tooth indentations are still prominent. A bite through on the top stem surface is reveled which extends in to the stem airway. I need to address this issue. After this abrasive sanding and alcohol wipe, the stem appears dried out and so I apply a small quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil to hydrate it.To address the deep tooth marks in the bite zone, button surface and the bite through on the top stem surface, I decided to use a mix of activated charcoal and CA superglue and apply it over the damaged areas. But before that, I insert a regular pipe cleaner smeared in petroleum jelly in to the stem air way. This prevents the mix from seeping in to the air way and blocking it when hardened. I apply a generous coat of the above mix over the damaged surface, including the buttons on either sides of the stem and set it aside overnight to cure. Next, while the stem fills are curing, I sand the entire stummel surface with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. I also work the inner rim edge with the sandpaper to even out the rim edge. This sanding helps in addressing all the minor dents, if any, from the surface while providing a smooth surface for the next stage which is polishing cycle using complete set of micromesh pads. I was especially very careful while sanding the side and bottom of the shank around the stampings, as it is very easy to miss out the stamp and one swipe of the sand paper is enough to ruin/ damage the stampings and it is the stampings on any pipe that I always strive to preserve. The next afternoon, I work the stem as the fills had hardened nicely. With a flat head needle file, I sand these fills to achieve a rough match. I further fine tuned the match by sanding the filled area with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger. I followed it up by sanding the entire stem surface using 400, 600 and 800 grit sand papers. This serves to remove the deep seated oxidation and also reduces the sanding marks of the more abrasive sand papers. I also sharpened the button edges with a flat head needle file and the sand papers. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the oxidation and sanding dust from the surface. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil over the stem and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite.I followed up the sanding regime with micromesh polishing to bring a shine on the stem surface. Since my hand held rotary tool is out for repairs, I could not continue with my experimentation on use of Red Tripoli and White Diamond during the polishing regime. I wet sand the stem with 1500 to 12000 girt micromesh pads. I rub a small quantity of olive oil in to the stem surface to hydrate it and set it aside. The stem looks nice and shinning black.Now that the stem repairs are nearly complete save for final polish with Blue diamond and wax, I could now move ahead with polishing the stummel. To remove the sanding marks and bring a deeper shine, I polished the stummel with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 pads. I wiped the surface with a soft cloth at the end of the micromesh cycle. The stummel looks amazing with a deep dark maroon coloration and shine with beautiful grains popping over the stummel surface. The only aspect that stood out like a sore thumb was the light brown surfaces within the stitch-like rustications and the sand dust of micromesh pad has not helped, rather worsened the look. I carefully wipe the rustications with a moistened q-tip. Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. I was diligent while applying the balm in to the stitch-like rustication as this may darken the inside of the rustications. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful darkened grain patterns on full display. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. However, my attempt at darkening the insides of the rustications was met with limited success and a few sore spots still stand out. I decided to darken the insides of the stitch-like rustications by using a mahogany stain pen. I diligently ran the stain pen through each and every stitch-like rustication. It was a painstaking work but I am very happy with the results. Now, on to the home stretch!! I very excited to see the result of the final polishing cycle with Blue Diamond and carnauba wax.

To apply the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks fantastic, the beauty of which is accentuated by its classic shape, size and feel in the mouth. This pipe is all set for a new home and will definitely provide the new owner pipe man/ lady hours of blissful smoke. P.S. At this point, I always share pictures of the completed pipe with Abha, my wife just so she can appreciate the end results of all her hard work put in during her initial cleaning. She loved the natural deep dark brown coloration taken by the stummel. However, she reminded me that I had not addressed the issue of heat fissures in the walls of the chamber which she had brought to my notice.

Hell!!! How did I miss out on this vital functional aspect of a pipe, but miss out, I did!! Thus, I set about addressing this issue.

First and foremost, I took some real close ups of the heat fissures on the right side of the walls. I could definitely see dried and burnt briar in these fissures even though they appeared insignificant. But the darkened stummel surface on the right side pointed to otherwise. To further determine the extent of depth and width of these heat fissures, with a sharp dental probe I scraped out the dead and burnt briar from within these fissures. As anticipated, these fissures were not very deep but deep enough to lead to a burn out sooner than later. Furthermore, my probing the left side fissures also revealed deeper than appearing fissures. This important functional aspect needs to be addressed. I decided to use a coat of JB Weld first followed by a bowl coat of activated charcoal and yogurt. The coat of JB Weld would protect the briar from coming in to direct contact with the burning tobacco while the charcoal and yogurt would insulate the JB Weld from direct contact with the lit tobacco while accelerating the formation of cake which subsequently adds a further protective layer. This was essential for furthering the briar life while providing a lifetime of contentment to the new pipe man/ lady. Now, JB Weld comes in two parts – the ‘Steel’ and the ‘Hardener’ in separate tubes.  As per the directions both are to be mixed in 1:1 ratio and that one has about 4 minutes before the mixture sets.  Before applying the mixture, I insert a petroleum jelly coated pipe cleaner through draught hole to prevent the draught from being smeared with the mix and blocking it when the mix is hardened. I mix JB Weld at 50/50 (eyeballing the quantities, of course) on an index card, mix it well, and apply it as evenly as possible over the complete chamber wall with a sliver of a bamboo frond – it was a bit messy, but mission accomplished successfully.  I set the stummel aside and let it cure overnight.The next afternoon, the mix had hardened and I realized how unevenly the mix was applied!! I did not want the layer of the mix to be too thick, but only as a thin layer. I mounted a 180 grit sanding drum on to my hand held rotary tool and carefully sand down the hardened mix to an acceptable thickness. To be honest, I do not know of any scientific method to determine the thickness and neither do I know of any instrument that would help me in doing so, it was just by touch and feel. Once satisfied, I cleaned the chamber of all the sanding dust and readied it for the next coat of activated charcoal and yogurt.Next, I mixed activated charcoal and yogurt to a thick consistency, neither too runny that it would run down the surface nor too thick that it would not spread out evenly. Again, this was all by feel!! Once I was satisfied with the consistency, I applied it evenly over the layer of JB Weld mixture and set it aside to dry out naturally. Once the bowl coat had dried out and hardened, I cleaned the rim top off all the dust and charcoal yogurt mix with a q-tip. I wiped the stummel with a clean soft cotton cloth and rubbed a small quantity of balm to enliven the briar and hand buffed the stummel with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine.

The pipe is now truly ready for a long hiatus with a new piper, providing years of service in future. I cannot thank Abha enough for reminding me to address this most important functional aspect.

Thank you all for reading through this longish write up and for the valuable time you have invested in doing so. If any reader is interested in enjoying this pipe as his/ her rotation pipe, feel free to let us know.

Restoring a Beautiful Danish Pipe “MELBY” Acorn


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

This pipe had attracted my attention way back in 2017 when I first saw it on eBay and finally made it to me with a very small price tag, shipping included!! Subsequently as I started working on my inherited pipes under Steve’s guidance, the Barling’s, Dunhills, Peterson’s, Ben Wades, Nordings, Stanwells, Danish FH et al took center stage and the Melby got buried deeper and deeper down in the box. During his visit to India in May this year, Steve, Abha and I went through two of the three big cartons of pipes that I had inherited including a few pipes that I had purchased on eBay in earlier years. The aim of this exercise was to sort out pipes that could be sold and those that are to be added to personal collection. The Melby figured in the list of pipes “TO BE SOLD”!!

Well, after lying in wait for more than two years, the Melby has finally found its way on to my work table now.

This is a beautiful Acorn shaped pipe with a very subtle and delicate upturned bend to an equally delicate and thin shank. The stummel narrows down towards the foot from a nice broad and wide rim top. The pipe ends with a thin fancy vulcanite stem that has a slight bend at the slot end that carries forward the overall delicate profile of the pipe as a whole. The second aspect that struck me was how light the pipe was!!The pipe is stamped vertically towards the shank end bottom as “MELBY” over “MADE IN” over “DENMARK”. There is no other stamping on the stummel. The stem is also devoid of any stampings.The top notch quality of the briar, beautiful shape and overall high quality of finish and design screamed that this pipe had to be work of some really gifted artisan. To know more about this pipe, I visited pipedia.org. Sure enough, there was a mention of this brand under Danish pipes, but sadly nothing more than a mere mention. In my quest to unravel this mysterious brand, I surf the internet and the only reference that I could find out was on an aptly named site “VERY KEEN ON PIPES”. Here is the link to this interesting site; https://vkpipes.com/

Within this site I searched for Melby and here is what I learned; https://vkpipes.com/pipeline/melby/

An extraordinary Danish work! As every proper Danish pipe it’s made of a good briar, shows nice grain and has skillfully designed freehand shape. But the most of all we’re absolutely amazed with its sense of equilibrium – the pipe can surely balance just on its heel (back side of its bottom). Some signs (such as kind of briar) hint it might be a Karl Erik pipe but we don’t have a 100% proof so far.

With this information, I move ahead with my initial visual inspection.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The pipe came to us in a very well smoked state, but, I have to admit that it was well taken care of by the previous owner. An even layer of heavy cake build up is observed in the chamber with overflow of lava on the rim top surface, notably at the back. Otherwise, the rim top surface and both inner and outer rim edges are in fairly good condition with slight darkening and unevenness to the inner rim edge. It is pretty strong sweet smelling pipe, I say!! I am not sure if by mere cleaning of the chamber and shank internals that these smells will be eliminated. The smooth stummel surface has beautiful Bird’s eye grain patterns on either sides of the stummel with beautiful densely packed cross grains on the front, back and the shank. The stummel surface has a dirty yellowish orange like stain to the briar that has darkened and dulled out due to accumulation of grime. Once it has been cleaned up, the grains should pop out after a nice polish. The mortise with shank internals is clogged and shows heavy accumulation of oils and tars. The chamber emanates a very strong sweet odor from previous usage. The draught hole is right at the bottom center and should be a great smoker!! The light weight and perfect shape make it a beautiful pipe to clench while you read your favorite book or while tending to your garden!! Reclaiming this piece of briar should be a fun project. The delicate fancy vulcanite stem is deeply oxidized, especially in the nooks and crannies. There are a few deep tooth indentations on either surface of the stem in the bite zone and over the upper button edge. The button edges would need to be sharpened and made crisp. The tenon and the slot show heavy accumulation of dried oils and gunk and the airflow through the stem is laborious.INITIAL CLEANING BY ABHA…
The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 40-50 pipes and these have now reached me for further restoration). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She scrubbed out the dried oils, tars and gunk from the mortise with a fabricated dental spatula and further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

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

ONCE THE PIPE IS ON MY WORK TABLE…
The cleaned up pipes presents a very clear picture of what needs to be done to restore this pipe to a pristine and smokable condition. I really cannot thank Abha, my wife, enough for all the help and support that she extends me in my pursuance of this hobby. A clean pipe also helps in clearly identifying the work that would be required to restore a pipe. The pictures shows the condition of the pipe when it reached me after being cleaned. The chamber stills has the strong old odor and would need further intrusive methods to address this issue. The walls are solid without any signs of damage. The inward curving wide rim top surface has a flat smooth ring towards the chamber. The flat inner rim edge is slightly darkened towards the front and left of the stummel and would need to be addressed. The rounded outer rim surface is in perfect condition but shows signs of overzealous cleaning by Abha to remove the overflow of lava from the right and extending to the back side of the rim top. I am amazed at the cavernous size of the chamber. The stummel surface is sans any fills or flaws. A nice polish and the beautiful grains will pop out and will be on display in all their glory. The stummel has lost its old stain and further sanding followed with micromesh pad polishing will further bring out the natural finish of the bowl. Whether to stain it to accentuate the grains or to let it be, I shall decide once the micromesh cycle is complete. I think as the pipe is smoked, over a period of time, the briar will take on some nice dark coloration and patina. I am really looking forward to see the stummel after polish. The mortise and shank internals are also nice and clean now. The seating of the stem tenon in to the mortise is snug and flush with the shank end. The oxidation on the vulcanite stem has been removed, thanks to all the efforts put in by Abha. The slot and stem internals are all clean and fresh. The deeper tooth indentations on the upper and lower surface and on the upper button edge are now clearly visible. I intend to first raise these indentations to the surface by heating and sanding followed, if necessary, by filling it with a mix of activated charcoal and superglue. A bit of sanding to remove the deeper oxidation followed by micromesh polishing cycle should add a nice shine to the stem. THE PROCESS
Firstly, I heat the surface of the stem with the flame of a lighter to raise the tooth indentations to the surface and follow it up with a 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, though greatly reduced, are still prominent. I need to address this issue. I mix a small quantity of activated charcoal and CA superglue and spot apply it over the visible bite marks. I set the stem aside for the fill to cure overnight. If I had black CA superglue, that is what I would have used in this instance. Next, I start by sanding the entire stummel surface, including the rim top, with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. I also work the inner rim edge with the sandpaper to remove the darkened briar and even out the rim edge. This sanding helps in addressing all the minor dents, if any, from the surface while providing a smooth surface for the next stage which is polishing cycle using complete set of micromesh pads. I was especially very careful while sanding the bottom of the shank around the stampings, as it is very easy to miss out the stamp and one swipe of the sand paper is enough to ruin/ damage the stampings. Before I move to the next stage of polishing the stummel, I decided to address the issue of strong odor in the chamber. To eliminate the ghost smells from the pipe, I decided to treat it with salt and alcohol. I do not use Kosher salt as it is not readily available here and if available, it’s very expensive. I use cotton balls which is an at par substitute as I have realized over the last year or so. I draw out a wick from the cotton and along with a folded regular pipe cleaner; insert it in to the mortise and through the draught hole in the chamber. Thereafter, I pack the chamber with cotton balls to about quarter of an inch below the rim inner edge. I soak the cotton balls with isopropyl alcohol up to the brim. About half an hour later, the level of alcohol has gone down, having being absorbed by the cotton. I top 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 smells clean and fresh. I set the stummel to dry out naturally.While the chamber was soaking in the salt and alcohol bath, I worked the stem. The stem fills had cured and with a flat head needle file, I sand these fills to achieve a rough match. I further fine tuned the match by sanding the filled area with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger. I followed it up by sanding the entire stem surface using 400, 600, 800 grit sand papers and finally with a piece of 0000 grade steel wool. This serves to remove the deep seated oxidation and also reduces the sanding marks of the more abrasive sand papers. I also sharpened the button edges while sanding. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the oxidation and sanding dust from the surface. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil over the stem and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite. I followed up the sanding regime with micromesh polishing to bring a shine on the stem surface. Since my hand held rotary tool is out for repairs, I could not continue with my experimentation on use of Red Tripoli and White Diamond during the polishing regime. I wet sand the stem with 1500 to 12000 girt micromesh pads. I rub a small quantity of olive oil in to the stem surface to hydrate it and set it aside. The stem looks nice and shinning black.The stummel had dried out completely and I could now move ahead with polishing the stummel. To remove the sanding marks and bring a deeper shine, I polished the stummel with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 pads. I wiped the surface with a soft cloth at the end of the micromesh cycle. The stummel looks amazing with a deep shine and beautiful grains popping over the stummel surface. I shared pictures of the stummel at this stage in restoration with Abha for her opinion as to whether stain it in dark brown or otherwise. Prompt came the response to let it be. She really liked the patterns of grain and the look of the pipe. Also as the pipe is smoked, it will turn dark and develop a nice patina. So, natural finish to the stummel it is!! Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful darkened grain patterns on full display. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. Unfortunately I just missed out on taking pictures of the stummel at this point in restoration process. But it looks beautiful, I say!!

By the weekend, my rotary tool stabilizer came back after repairs and I could finally move ahead with finishing the pipe. 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 stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. This is truly a beautifully crafted pipe with gorgeous grains all around and the feather weight coupled with a large bowl will surely provide a long and leisurely smoke allowing ample time to admire the construction and grains on this pipe. P.S. This pipe was earmarked not for addition to my personal collection but for sale. However, the beautiful grains, the exquisite carving and very light weight coupled with a large chamber for a long and peaceful smoke has me enticed to an extent that I have decided to add it to my rotation. Such is the beauty of this pipe. Now all that remains is to load this bowl with my favorite G.L. Pease Virginia blend and puff contentedly for some time!!

Thanks to all readers of Reborn pipes 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.

Restoring a Barling & Sons # 4899, Made in Denmark


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I had finished refurbishing a Barling Brandy bowl in a smooth finish and it has found a new piper to carry forward the legacy. The next pipe that I decided to work on is a lovely Brandy bowl shaped Barling pipe in a sandblast finish which was purchased together with the smooth finish that I have mentioned above. The pipe boasts of shallow blasts on the stummel with beautiful patterns. The pipe is stamped on the surface at the bottom of the shank as “B.BARLINGS & SONS” in block capitals over “MADE IN DENMARK” over shape code numeral “4899”. The top of the saddle stem has the trademark BARLING in a cross stem logo. The stampings are all deep and crisp.Having just recently worked on a Barling pipe that bore the COM stamp of Denmark, I was aware of the provenance of this pipe. I reproduce the relevant part of the information gleaned from pipedia.org.

In the late 1970’s production of Barling pipes was shifted to Denmark where Eric Nording manufactured Barling pipes for Imperial. There may have been other factories, but as of this writing, none has been identified. Nording stated that he made approximately 100.000 pipes for Imperial.

Despite these attempts to diversify the line, Barling lost its market. These pipes just weren’t equivalent to the family era pipes.
Finally, Imperial decided to close down the Barling operations entirely by 1980.

Thus from the above, it is safely concluded that the pipe currently on my work table is from the period between late 1970’s to 1980 and given the quality of sandblast, most likely manufactured by other factories in Denmark!!

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The pipe came to us in a very nice condition having being smoked maybe only a few times. It was lightly smoked and with a thin layer of cake build up in the chamber. The rim top is covered in a minimal overflow of lava with inner and outer rim edges in pristine condition. The chamber has minimum odor and should be addressed once the chamber and shank internals are cleaned up. A simple scrub with a brass bristled brush should suffice to clean the rim top surface.The sandblasted stummel surface has a shallow sandblast with beautiful patterns of mix of Bird’s eye, cross grains and nice swirls to the sides, front and bottom of the bowl respectively. The front of the stummel has a deep pit, likely caused during the sandblasting process where the soft briar was chipped off by the sand particles. The stummel surface is stained black and has a dark lacquer coat that has dulled a bit. The mortise is relatively clean with an easy draw. Running a few pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol should clean up the shank internals. The straight vulcanite saddle stem gradually flares out towards the slot end and is deeply oxidized. Thankfully the stem surface is free of any bite marks or tooth chatter on either surface in the bite zone. The insides of the slot and tenon have very little signs of accumulated gunk. The crossed Barling logo on the saddle top of the stem is crisp and deep.INITIAL CLEANING BY ABHA…
The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 40-50 pipes and these have now reached me for further restoration). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

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

ONCE THE PIPE IS ON MY WORK TABLE…
I cannot thank my wife, Abha, enough for all the help and support that she extends me in my pursuance of this hobby. With the initial pipe cleaning at her hands, allows me to move at a nice click with my restoration and repair work on the pipes.

The chamber is odorless and the walls are solid without any signs of damage. The sandblasted rim top surface is intact with an equally undamaged inner and outer rim edge. The chamber and rim top has been nicely cleaned up by Abha. With a draught hole right at the bottom and dead center, this should be a fantastic smoker!! Even though most of the lacquer coat was removed when the stummel was cleaned up by Abha, I could still see remnants of the peeling lacquer coat over some parts of the stummel and the stain has been washed away at a two places. I shall have to remove this coat and thereafter decide on my further course of action. The mortise and shank internals are clean and fresh. This should turn out to be an easy project requiring just a rub down with restoration balm followed by wax polish to bring life back in to the stummel. The oxidation on the vulcanite stem has been greatly reduced thanks to all the efforts put in by Abha. A bit of sanding to remove the deeper oxidation followed by micromesh polishing cycle should add a nice shine to the stem. The stem internals are nice and clean with a free airflow. I would need to refresh the stem logo to make it pop out on the shining black stem once done.THE PROCESS
The first thing I addressed was the lacquer coating that remained on the stummel surface. I wiped the stummel surface with cotton swabs and alcohol. However, the coating persisted. Next I decided to use a stronger solvent. With cotton swabs and acetone, I cleaned the stummel surface. I was able to remove the lacquer coating completely from the surface.Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance. However, I noticed that my finger tips had blackened with stain which was coming off. I thought that I would let it rest and dry out and thereafter check again. A couple of hours later, I wiped the stummel with a soft cotton cloth and to my chagrin, I noticed that the cloth had blackened at the spots which had come in contact with the stummel surface and the stain had come off from the surface too. I decided to heat the stummel surface with a heat gun and reset the stain. Should this trick fail, I had made up my mind to go the “full Monty” way. I would completely remove the old stain and apply a fresh coat of stain and the works!! And this was supposed to be a simple restoration!!I heat the stummel surface with my heat gun and set it aside to cool down naturally. Half an hour later, the stummel had cooled and I reapplied the “Before and After Restoration Balm”. This time there were no blackened finger tips. What a relief this revelation was!! Now that the stummel was nearly complete, I turned my attention to the stem refurbishing. With a folded piece of a 220 grit sand paper, I sand down the stem surface. I followed it up by sanding it with 400, 600, 800 grit sand papers and finally with a piece of 0000 grade steel wool. This serves to remove the deep seated oxidation and also reduces the sanding marks of the more abrasive sand papers. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the oxidation and sanding dust from the surface. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil over the stem and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite.I followed up the sanding regime with micromesh polishing to bring a shine on the stem surface. I wet sand the stem with 1500 to 12000 girt micromesh pads. This time around I could not continue with my experimentation that I had spelled out in my previous posts, as due to voltage fluctuations, my hand held rotary tool stabilizer had a burn out and had to be sent for repairs. I rub a small quantity of olive oil in to the stem surface to hydrate it and set it aside.The stem looks nice and shinning black, however, the stem logo is yet to be refreshed and highlighted. With a white fine tipped correction pen, I filled the crossed Barling stamping and once it had dried a bit, with a toothpick, I scrapped off excess of the correction ink. The stamping is now completely refreshed and sits proudly on the top of the saddle.With three pipes on the home stretch and a week long wait later, my rotary tool came back from repairs. I was held up just for this piece of equipment!! 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 stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks beautiful and is waiting for a new home!!