Tag Archives: Paresh Deshpande article

A Fresh Lease On Life For a Castello Sea Rock ‘A’


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I had restored a Castello Sea Rock from my inherited pipe lot, my first Castello pipe, last year while Steve, Jeff and Dal Stanton had visited me in Pune, India (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/06/07/a-simple-restoration-of-a-castello-sea-rock-briar-56-f-pipe-with-steve-and-jeff-laug/)

Since then after I had smoked this pipe, I always wanted to lay my hands on another Castello. They are fantastic smokers, I say. However, the prices of Castello pipes had gone through the roof and to some extent, beyond reach. During one of my search on eBay for estate pipes, I came across this Castello Sea Rock pipe that was being sold for a considerably lesser price and it had the option for Best Offer. The long and short of it is that my best offer was accepted by the seller and the pipe made its way to Abha, my wife. That this pipe was being sold for such a low price was a pointer that there were issues with this pipe, but what exact issues and the extent of these issues was neither described by the seller nor were they visible in the pictures provided by the seller.

The pipe with its large Billiard bowl and a triangular shank looks beautiful. The stummel has deep and craggy rustications that feel tactile in the hand. The shank end is adorned with a gold/ brass band that add a touch of classy bling to the appearance of the pipe. The flat lower surface of the stummel is smooth and bears the stampings on this pipe. It is stamped as “CASTELLO” over “SEA ROCK BRIAR” followed by the letter “A”. Towards the shank end, it is stamped as “MADE IN CANTU” over “ITALY” over “HAND MADE”. Stamped at the very end of the shank and partially covered by the gold/ brass band is “CARLO SCOTTI” in an oval.  The triangular Lucite stem is stamped on the lower flat surface as “HAND MADE” over “CASTELLO” over code “# 3”.  The trademark WHITE BAR adorns the upper surface of the stem.    I had researched this brand extensively when I had worked on my first Castello, link for which I have provided at the very beginning of this write up. In order to establish the provenance of this pipe, I revisited the Briar Blues site where a detailed history and dating guide is available for the discerning reader. I have reproduced the entire article here for posterity as the external link provided on pipedia.org did not work.

https://briarblues.com/castello/

CASTELLO – DATING & INFORMATION GUIDE

NEW INFORMATION JUST IN – The very first pipes made by Carlo Scotti were in 1936 in Switzerland!!!

1947 – Carlo Scotti begins the company. In the beginning (1947 – 1949, maybe 1950 ) the pipes were stamped Mi Reserva ( my reserve ). Later the Reg No was added. This Reg No has nothing to do with shape numbers, but is merely the Castello company trademark.

Vulcanite stems used until? This is an interesting question. From early Castello pipe advertising from the Wally Frank and later Hollco Rohr companies it says the pipe comes with Vulcanite stems. However the photos appear to have pipes with Lucite stems. To our knowledge no one has yet seen a Vulcanite stemmed Castello with the faux diamond logo inset.

The Old Sea Rock and the Sea Rock co-existed. As far as I know, the OSR was US only, imported by Hollco Rohr, and sported the rhinestone. The Sea Rock goes back to the early days.

There was an Antiquari (not Old Antiquari) that was also a Hollco import, and was fume top and rusticated. I think it was only around for a couple of years.

Stem logo’s. White bar, black dot, and faux diamond. The first stem logo was the white bar. However once Castello began it’s working relationship with The Wally Frank Co a different stem logo was required, as The Wally Frank Co had a line of pipes named White Bar.

The faux diamond logo was created and used primarily for the US market for many years.

Castello still occasionally put rhinestones in the mouthpieces, just to maintain it’s value as a trademark. It’s not on many pieces. The black dot logo is used on Castello pipes with white Lucite stems.

Shape numbers. Shape numbers are all 2 digits. A 2 in front indicates a “fancy” interpretation, a 3 in front means that the carving is somehow unique. I don’t know when the change was made, but currently, a π symbol is used instead of the 3xx.  It may be seen on a variety of finishes, that may have a unique carved section or some other interesting feature.

Hollco Rohr begins distribution in the mid to late 1960’s when they take over the Wally Frank Company.

Big Line – stamp used from 1968 – 1972. Replaced by Great Line, although still used on huge pipes.

Colored Lucite stems – used in the 1970’s and on occasion today although the material is difficult to find.

Pre K grading. Late 1950’s to mid 1960’s the pipe carried stamps which indicted sizes. These were as follows; SA, SB, SC, and SS. SA being the smallest and SS the largest.

K grading begins. In 1969 Franco ( Kino ) Coppo joins the firm. In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s the company began the use of the K grading. The upper case large K, was used for non smooth pipes to designate size. For smooth pipes to indicate a combination of grain quality and size. These are also the years that Castello switched from machine made pipes that were hand finished to completely hand made pipes.

Switch from large K to small k in an oval. In 1982 the company changed from the use of the large upper case K grading to a small lower case k within an oval ( 2 k or greater ) or circle for single k grades.

1984 – 1985 Franco ( Kino ) Coppo takes over the running of the firm. The Kino “knickname” given to Franco by Carlo Scotti, and is a shortened version of his full birth name, Franchino.

The Natural Vergin were issued in 1967 first but only in 1985 they started to be produced in series only on the natural carved pipes.

1987 – the 40th anniversary Castello begins the number within a castle stamp. The number added to 1947 gives the year of pipe creation. ie 50 within a castle = 1947 + 50 = 1997.

1992 – Carlo Scotti passes away.

US stamp begin in 1997

KINO stamp begin in 2007 – 60th anniversary. Kino is Franco Coppo’s nick name.

X – stamped on pipe. This stamp is added to pipes that are picked up directly at the factory by customers. Indicates a “friendship” pipe.

Ever wonder where your pipe came from? Which shop had it first? If so, read below;

N1 = Novelli ( Italy )
N = Noli ( Italy )
F = Fincato ( Italy )
LO = Lorenzi ( Italy ) ( this shop has closed and they used to add a * on every pipe )
B = Bonfiglioli ( Italy )
BO = Bollito ( Italy )
B15 = Bollito ( Italy )
V = Agide ( Italy )
SO = Tabaccheria Scarafioffi ( Italy )
JO = Osstermann ( Austria )
R3 = Ruocco Raffaella of Savona ( Italy )
L – Lanzola ( Italy )
US = sold into the US via the US Castello agent
A = “Amicizia” or friendship. That is the stamping for the pipes given for free to friends. It is quite rare.
LOB = is part of a large collection that the factory just re-purchased and they stamped with LOB (Legendary old briar)

The information gathered on this page comes from a variety of sources on the internet and through emails and conversations. I’d like to Thank these gentlemen for their help; Marco Parascenzo, Franco Coppo ( via Marco ), Greg Pease, Mike Penix, Bob Hamlin, Chris Jones, Mike McCain, and Mike Davis

Current finishes, grades, & SRP in US dollars;

Castello US prices have not increased since 2012!!
Sea Rock Briar – carved finish – various stains
k 380.00, kk 395.00, kkk 405.00, kkkk 425.00, G 450.00, GG 550.00, GL 615.00 & GGG 615.00
Old Antiquari – sand blast – various stains
k 415.00, kk 415.00, kkk 450.00, kkkk 450.00, G 530.00, GG 675.00, & GL 675.00
Trademark – smooth – various stains
k 430.00, kk 430.00, kkk 480.00, kkkk 480.00, G 500.00, GG 660.00, & GL 660.00
“Castello” – smooth – various stains
kk 550.00, kkkk 590.00, G 600.00, GG 690.00, & GL 690.00
Perla Nera – smooth polished black
k 560.00 & kk 590.00
Collection – smooth – various stains
k 595.00, kk 655.00, kkk 750.00, kkkk 825.00
Occho di Pernice – smooth – graded birds eye
k 685.00, kk 750.00, kkk 800.00, kkkk 855.00
Aristocratica – smooth – fumed rim
Trade Mark – 595.00, “Castello” – 690.00, Collection – 865.00, Collection Great Line – 910.00
Castello Collection Fiammata – 1090.00, Collect Great Line Fiammata – 1545.00
Dune – carved
k – ???.00, kk – ???.00
Big Line – various grades
Sea Rock – ???.00 Old Antiquari – 900.00, “Castello” – ???.00, Collection, ???.00
Collection Great Line – smooth – free style
k 780.00, kk 850.00, kkk 1000.00, kkkk 1270.00
Collection Fiammata – smooth – graded straight grains
k 970.00, kk 1150.00, kkkk 1270.00, kkkk 1600.00
Collection Great Line Fiammata – smooth straight grain free style
k 1660.00, kk 2300.00, kkk 3100.00, kkkk 3780.00
Special Series – Cavallo, Riso, etc
Sea Rock 765.00, Old Antiquari 810.00, Trademark 950.00, Castello 1050.00,
Collection 13000.00, Occhio di pernice 1300.00, Fiammata 1455.00
Preziosa ( semi precious stone floc )
Perla Nera 950.00, Castello 980.00, Collection 1180.00, Collection GL 1390.00,
Madreperla 1545.00, Fiammata 1700.00

Options

briar shank or stem application + 75.00
silver floc or band + 90.00
18 k gold band + 500.00 – now a very rare addition, due to gold cost
18k gold band with lacquer inlay + 500.00
silver pin / nail + 160.00
common stone inlay + 105.00
special pi trim + 55.00

From the above, it is evident that the pipe currently on my work table is from an early time period of Castello pipe making as evidenced by the stamp of SEA ROCK and WHITE BAR. That this pipe is stamped with the letter “A” is indicative that it was given for free to friends and IT IS VERY RARE. Lady luck smiled upon me during this purchase for sure!!

Initial Visual Inspection
This pipe has a large bowl with a depth of 2 ¾ inch. The chamber has an even layer of thick hard cake. There is a heavy overflow of lava over the rim top surface. The rim top has darkened considerably. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber and the inner edge can be commented upon after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. The ghost smells in the chamber are not very strong.The deeply rusticated stummel surface has a very beautiful texture and is covered in dust and grime. The fact that 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 smooth bottomed shank that bears all the stummel stampings, has deep scratches akin to road rash marks.The mortise was full of oils, tars and gunk and air flow was restricted. The shank end gold band made me wonder if it was a shank repair band or otherwise. However, the shank has no cracks and hence it is definitely an original adornment. The seating of the stem in to the mortise is not flush. This could be either a result of the accumulated gunk and grime in the mortise or incorrect drilling of the mortise (unlikely on a Castello though!) or a bent stem tenon.The high quality Lucite stem is nice and shiny. Some minor tooth chatter and a couple of deeper bite marks are seen on both the upper and lower stem surfaces in the bite zone. The tenon end had accumulated oils/ tars that had dried out on the inside as well as on the outside. The horizontal slot is filled with grime that will have to be addressed.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.

The Process
Finally back at my work place… After enjoying a compulsory extended leave of three months with family and having honed my culinary and domestic chores skill set, I was happy to rejoin my duty and get back to completing the pending pipe restorations.

I start this project by addressing the tooth chatter and bite marks on both the surfaces in the bite zone. Since this was a Lucite stem, heating the bite zone with the flame of a lighter would have damaged the stem further; hence, I filled the deeper bite marks with a mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal and set it aside to cure.Once the fills had cured, using a flat needle file, I reshaped the button and roughly matched the fills with the rest of the stem surface. I further fine tuned the match by sanding the filled area with a folded piece of 320 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger. I followed it up by sanding the entire stem surface using 400, 600, 800 and finally with a piece of 1000 grit sand papers. This serves to reduce 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 sanding dust from the surface. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil over the stem to impart a shine.To bring a deep shine to the Lucite stem, I polished it by wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. I wiped the stem with a moist cloth and rubbed it down with “Before and After Extra Fine Polish” to remove the minor scratches left behind by the sand paper while polishing the stem to a nice black glossy shine. The finished stem is shown below. I took a closer look at the walls of the chamber to ascertain the condition of the chamber. To my chagrin, I noticed a distinct line (marked with yellow arrows) extending for about an inch from the inner rim edge in to the chamber. It was the beginning of a heat fissure and from the point of origin (circled in green), there were other two heat lines (marked with blue arrows) extending roughly perpendicular to the first. However, these heat lines were very minor and extremely superficial while the one that moved up towards the rim was slightly deeper. I checked the external stummel surface under bright light and magnification for any corresponding crack. It was heartening to note that there were none! I thoroughly checked the rim top surface and was relieved to note that there is no damage.With my sharp dental pick, I probed and removed all the charred briar wood from the crack. It was a big relief to note that the crack did not go all the way to the outside of the stummel. Here are a couple of close up pictures of the crack to the chamber wall. I conferred with my Guru and mentor, Steve, over Face Time video call and after seeing the crack, he concurred that it was best to fill just the crack inside the chamber with J B Weld followed by a coating of activated charcoal and yogurt to the entire chamber for further protection. Before proceeding with further repairs, I thoroughly cleaned the rim top to completely remove the lava overflow from the rim top surface Murphy’s Oil soap and a brass wired brush. To protect the crack from coming in to direct contact with the burning tobacco and also to prevent the heat from reaching the external crack to the stummel and causing a burnout, I plan, firstly, to fill only the crack of the chamber with J B Weld followed by a second coat of activated charcoal and yogurt to the entire chamber which would assist in faster cake formation. J B Weld is a two-part epoxy Cold Weld that consists of two parts; hardener and steel which are mixed in equal parts in a ratio of 1:1 with hardening time of 5-6 minutes and complete curing time of 6-8 hours. I poured the contents of the two tubes and mixed it well. With a flat bamboo frond, I applied this mix and filled the intended crack. I worked fast to ensure a complete and even filling of the crack and set the stummel aside for the J B Weld to harden.By the next afternoon when I got back to working on this pipe, the J B Weld coat had completely cured and hardened completely. With a folded piece of 150 grit sandpaper, I sand the weld coating to a smooth surface till I had as thin a coat as was essential to protect and insulate the crack from the direct heat of the burning tobacco. The Weld coat has completely covered only the crack and the point of origin which can be seen as a thin line. I am very pleased with the repairs at this stage. Next issue to be addressed was that of the numerous deep road rash marks that were seen to the flat lower surface of the stummel. With a folded piece of 180 followed by 600 and 800 grit sand paper, I diligently sand away the road rash marks from the lower flat surface of the stummel taking care that the stampings are preserved in total. I followed it up by polishing the surface by wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. Though the road rash marks are not completely eliminated, they are greatly reduced. The road rash marks to the gold band are now distinctly visible in the last picture. The last issue that needed to be addressed before final polishing was that of the seating of the stem tenon in to mortise. The pictures below will give the readers an idea of the issue that I needed to address.    I checked the drilling of the mortise and it was perfect as expected. Next I checked the shank face and the gold band for unevenness but it was nice even and the band sat flush with the shank face. But yes, the seated stem in the mortise had some play in the fitting. I conferred with Steve on Face Time and he asked me to hold the stem upright with tenon side up. Immediately, it was apparent to both of us that the tenon had bent a little and was off center. To address this, I heated the tenon with the flame of a lighter till it was slightly pliable and carefully seated the tenon in to the mortise. Once completely seated, I adjusted the alignment and held the stem in place till the tenon had cooled down sufficiently. Again, though the seating is not perfectly flushed, the alignment of the stem and shank is near perfect. It has to be understood that we pipe restorers are undertaking repairs to the existing damages to make them functional again and not making new pipes, though we do strive for that kind of perfection. All said, I am quite pleased with this repair.  I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The dark browns of the raised portions of the sandblast contrasts beautifully with the rest of the dark stummel and makes for a visual treat. It really is a nice piece of briar. To protect the J B Weld coated crack from the direct heat of the burning tobacco, I coat the complete chamber walls with a mix of activated charcoal and yogurt and set it aside to harden naturally.To put the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding.    Next, I mount another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax to impart a nice gloss to the finish. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. Lastly, I polish the gold band with a jeweler’s cloth to a nice and radiant shine.  The rustications on this finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and coupled with the brand, vintage, rarity and the contrast that the gold band imparts, makes it quite a desirable pipe. This pipe shall be joining my small collection of Castellos to be admired and be happy that I have restored it to its former beauty and functionality. P.S. Just out of curiosity, I took the stummel to my family goldsmith to check if at all the band at the shank end was gold or a brass made band. I was pleasantly surprised to be told that it was indeed an 18 carat gold band!! I am sure whoever the “FRIEND” was that received a Castello pipe with an 18 carat gold band had to be someone very dear to Carlo Scotti!! If only the pipe could tell me all about this friend…      

I wish to thank each one for sparing their valuable time to read through this write up and each one is always in my prayers. Stay home…stay safe!!

An Interesting Pipe To Work On – a GBD Prehistoric Xtra Horn


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

This pipe has attracted the attention of my wife, Abha, since the time I had received three huge boxes of pipes that once belonged to my Grandfather. So when she took the plunge of helping me in restoring all these inherited pipes, this was one of the first she had earmarked for cleaning up. After she had done the initial cleaning up, this pipe languished at the bottom of the pile of around 50 plus pipes that she had cleaned up. And it was during the period of my stay at home on compulsory leave due to the countrywide lockdown to contain the spread of CORONA VIRUS (COVID-19) that this pipe came up for restoration.

The pipe with its forward canted Horn shape with a long military mount vulcanite stem has a delicate feel and look to it. It has beautiful and deep sandblast with some astonishing grain patterns that are seen over the stummel surface. The shank end is adorned with a gold ferrule that adds a touch of classy bling to the appearance of the pipe. It is stamped at the foot of the stummel as “PREHISTORIC” in Gothic hand followed by “GBD” in an oval over “XTRA”. The gold ferrule is stamped as “GBD” in an oval over four different shaped cartouches bearing the stampings, from left to right, numeral “6 (or is it 9 ?) in a rhombus followed by purity grade number “.375” in a rectangle followed by date code letter “F” and lastly the symbol of the city Assay Office that has worn out but I guess it appears like a LION HEAD with protruding lines from the four corners. The vulcanite stem is stamped, not very deeply, on the left side as “GBD” in an oval over “XTRA” in a slight upturned arch. The stampings, save for the Assay Office, is crisp and clear. There is plenty of material available on pipedia.org on the brand GBD that makes for an interesting read. The link below should take you to the relevant page on pipedia.org. For the sake of brevity, I have reproduced only the relevant portions that are related and of interest with respect to the pipe that I am working on (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD).

Early GBDs were made only in one single grade concerning the wood’s quality, later supplemented by a second one, and there was only a very limited number of finishes. But toward the end of the 19th century, the demand changed. For example the Britons preferred darker stainings. More differentiated customer’s wishes made the introduction of additional markings necessary. GBD Xtra and GBD Special were very early models who’s names indicated special final treatments and / or fitments. The standard quality was stamped simply with GBD.

There is a very simple explanation for GBD’s program to turn more “British”: GBD became a British company soon after the turn of the century! In 1902 Marechal and Ruchon sold GBD to A. Oppenheimer & Co. in London.

The claims after the 1st World War demanded further distinctions. First of all was the London Made, which became the Standard London Made, followed by the New Era— in 1931 the top model asking 12½ Shilling. The Pedigree, although sketched around 1926, was not produced until the later 1930s. The New Standard was introduced in order to give the popular Standard of the 20s a higher rank in value. The Prehistoric, a deeply sandblasted black pipe, that still carried the small GBD Xtra stamp, was entirely new and unusual.

Dating GBDs
Xtras haven’t been made since the 1930’s.

That this pipe currently on my work table was made from 1918 to 1930s can be inferred from the information gleaned above:

(a) GBD Xtra and GBD Special were very early models whose names indicated special final treatments and / or fitments.

(b) The ferrule stamping of AO points to the fact that the pipe is post 1902 as Marechal and Ruchon sold GBD to A. Oppenheimer & Co. in London in 1902.

(c) The Prehistoric, an entirely new and unusual line that still carried the small GBD Xtra stamp, was introduced after WW I.

(d) Xtra hasn’t been made since 1930s.

To pinpoint the year of make of this pipe, I decided to follow the stampings on the ferrule. Here, I was not very sure about the Assay Office hallmark as it was pretty buffed out and the numeral could have been a 6 or a 9. But having worked and researched a few silver hallmarked pipes, I guessed that the Assay Office hallmark should be a lion head. I visited https://www.gold-traders.co.uk/hallmarks/

This site is a step-by-step guide to help identify the carat/ purity, Assay Office and year of hallmark on all things gold. All things matched up perfectly and I have included a screen shot of the final result.From the above, it can be conclusively indentified that this GBD Prehistoric Xtra was made in England (London Assay Office) in 1921, give or take a year as the ferrules were always sent to the Assay Office in bulk to be used over a period of time, usually a year.

Initial Visual Inspection
As I have mentioned above, this pipe was initially handled by Abha and she is not in a habit of taking many pictures as she works on each piece of briar. There are not many pictures to give the readers an idea about the condition of the pipe before she had worked her magic and presented me with a nice clean canvas to carry forward my repair and refurbishing tasks. I have included a description of the initial condition of the pipe as documented by her.

This pipe has a rather small and narrow bowl in a classic Dublin shape with a pronounced forward cant. The chamber tapers towards the foot and has a chamber depth of about 1 ¼ inches. The chamber had an even layer of thick hard cake. There was a heavy overflow of lava over the rim top surface. Through this thick layer of lava, a crack is clearly visible over the rim top (marked with yellow arrows) that extends over both the inner and outer stummel surface on the right side in the 5 o’clock direction. The rim top was darkened considerably and I had suspected a charred inner rim edge in 6 o’clock direction (marked in green). The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be commented upon after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. The ghost smells in the chamber are not very strong.The deeply sandblasted stummel surface has very beautiful grain patterns and is covered in dust and grime. The fact that the sandblasted patterns 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 was looking lifeless and bone dry and had taken on black dull hues. The mortise was full of oils, tars and gunk and air flow was restricted.

The high quality vulcanite stem was deeply oxidized. Some minor tooth chatter and calcified deposit were seen on both the upper and lower stem surfaces in the bite zone and at the bottom of the button edge respectively. The tenon end had accumulated ash and oils/ tars that had dried out on the inside as well as on the outside. The horizontal slot has scratch marks which will have to be addressed.    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 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.

The Process
The stummel crack was something that would essentially require materials and equipment that are available to me at my work place; therefore, I had no option but to relegate the stummel repairs to a later date.

I start this project by addressing the tooth chatter on either surface in the bite zone. Since vulcanite has a property to expand and regain its original shape when heated, I heat the bite zone with a candle flame to raise the tooth chatter to the surface. The deeper bite marks were filled with a mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal and set aside to cure. Once the fills had cured, using a flat needle file, I reshaped the button and roughly matched the fills with the rest of the stem surface. 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. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, Abha polished it by wet sanding with 1500 to 2000 grit sandpapers followed by further wet sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. She wiped the stem with a moist cloth after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rejuvenate the vulcanite. The finished stem is shown below.  Further repair and refurbishing work would have to be put on hold till I rejoin my work place.

Part II
Finally back at my work place…… After enjoying a compulsorily extended leave of three months with family and having honed my culinary and domestic chores skill set, I was happy to rejoin my duty and get back to completing the pending pipe restorations.

I took a closer look at the crack on the right side of the stummel in the 5 ‘O’ clock direction. This crack extends over the rim top surface and in to the chamber. With my sharp dental pick, I probed and removed all the charred briar wood from the crack and also dislodged the entire lava overflow that had embedded itself in to the crack over the rim top. It was a big relief to note that the crack did not go all the way to the outside of the stummel. Here are a couple of close up pictures of the crack to the chamber wall and outer stummel surface at this stage. I conferred with my Guru and mentor, Steve, over Face Time video call and after seeing the crack, he concurred that it was best to fill just the crack inside the chamber with J B Weld followed by a coating of activated charcoal and yogurt to the entire chamber for further protection. Before proceeding with further repairs, I decided to thoroughly clean the rim top and the stummel again to remove all the dirt and dust that had accumulated since last one year and also to completely remove the lava overflow from the rim top surface. I cleaned the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and a hard bristled tooth brush. With a brass wired brush, I cleaned the rim top to remove the lava overflow. The stummel and the rim top have cleaned up nicely.   Next I decided to address the crack to the stummel surface. I marked the end point of the crack on with a sharp dental tool under magnification. This helps to identify the end point later with naked eye and also provides initial traction for the drill bit to bite in. With a 1 mm drill bit mounted on to my hand held rotary machine, I drilled a counter hole at the end of the crack, taking care not to go too deep and end up drilling a through-hole. I had to mark and drill a second counter hole as I later realized that the crack extended slightly below the first one that I had drilled. I ran the sharp dental tool along the crack to remove the dirt and debris that may have been lodged in the crack. I filled the drilled holes and the crack to the stummel surface with a mix of CA superglue and briar dust. I also filled the crack at the rim top surface with the mix of superglue and briar dust and set the stummel aside for the fills to cure. A few hours later, the fills had hardened completely. I sand them down with a flat head needle file to achieve a rough match with the rest of the stummel. I fine tuned the match with the rest of the surface by further sanding with a piece of 180 grit sandpaper. I used a tightly folded 180 grit sand paper to sand the fills and had carefully moved along the ridges of the sandblast to achieve a near perfect match. I vigorously brushed the rim top with a hard bristled brass wired brush to further blend the fill with the rest of the rim top surface.    Now that the external repairs are done, I decided to address the crack to the wall of the chamber. To protect the crack from coming in to direct contact with the burning tobacco and also to prevent the heat from reaching the external crack to the stummel and causing a burnout, I plan, firstly, to fill only the crack of the chamber with J B Weld followed by a second coat of activated charcoal and yogurt to the entire chamber which would assist in faster cake formation. J B Weld is a two-part epoxy Cold Weld that consists of two parts; hardener and steel which are mixed in equal parts in a ratio of 1:1 with hardening time of 5-6 minutes and complete curing time of 6-8 hours. I poured the contents of the two tubes and mixed it well. With a flat bamboo frond, I applied this mix and filled the intended crack. I worked fast to ensure a complete and even filling of the crack and set the stummel aside for the J B Weld to harden.By the next afternoon when I got back to working on this pipe, the J B Weld coat had completely cured and hardened considerably. With a folded piece of 150 grit sandpaper, I sand the weld coating to a smooth surface till I had as thin a coat as was essential to protect and insulate the crack from the direct heat of the burning tobacco. The Weld coat has completely covered only the crack which can be seen as a thin line. I am very pleased with the repairs at this stage.I refreshed the stem logo by first coating the logo with a white correction liquid and once it had dried, I wiped it lightly with a cloth. I polished the stem surface with “Before and After Extra fine” stem polish developed by Mark Hoover. This polish helps in removing the minor scratches left behind due to sanding while imparting a nice shine to the stem.   Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The dark browns of the raised portions of the sandblast contrasts beautifully with the rest of the dark stummel and makes for a visual treat. It really is a nice piece of briar. Now that the cosmetic aspects of this pipe have been dealt with, all that remained was the functional aspect that needs to be taken care of. The J B Weld coated crack needs to be protected from the direct heat of the burning tobacco and for this; I coat the complete chamber walls with a mix of activated charcoal and yogurt and set it aside to harden naturally. The mix has to be of the right consistency; neither too thick nor too runny. It should be of a consistency that is thick enough to spread easily, evenly and stick to the walls. Also the coating should not be very thick. A thin film is all that is required. Another important aspect to remember is that it is essential to insert a pipe cleaner in to the mortise and through the draught hole for two reasons; first is obviously to keep the draught hole from getting clogged and secondly, the pipe cleaner absorbs all the moisture from the mix and helps in faster and even drying of the coat.To put the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding.  Next, I mount another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. Lastly, I polish the 9 carat gold ferrule with a jeweler’s cloth to a nice and radiant shine. The blast pattern on this finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and coupled with the vintage, shape rarity and the contrast that the gold ferrule imparts, makes it quite a desirable pipe. This pipe shall be joining my small collection of GBDs to be admired and be happy that I have restored it to its former beauty and functionality. P.S. In one of my previous blogs, I wrote that the question “Why do I enjoy bringing these old battered and discarded pipes back to life?” had popped up in my mind. I gave my third reason in my last write up and in all my subsequent write ups I intend to share with you, my readers my reasons as to why I really love this hobby.

The fourth reason is that every restoration project that I undertake is a new challenge for me. It sets my adrenaline pumping as I see the beauty of the pipe being unraveled before my eyes as I progress through each process of restoration. It helps me keep myself motivated and I wake up to each morning with enthusiasm to address the challenges that any project throws at me. Upon successful completion of repairs and refurbishing of a pipe to make it beautiful and most importantly FUNCTIONAL, gets me to a nice peaceful sleep at night… isn’t that what we all strive for?     

I wish to thank each one for sparing their valuable time to read through this write up and each one is in my prayers. Stay home…stay safe!!

 

Refurbishing a Second Bertram From the Lot Of 13 – a Bent Egg # 25


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Last year while on a Face Time chat with my Guru, Mentor and friend, Steve Laug, we got talking about the Bertram lot that he had been working on at that point in time. He spoke about how overwhelming it was just to look at the large lot of about 200 plus pipes that he and Jeff had acquired. Never to miss an opportunity to add to my meager pipe lot that was available for me to work on, I suggested that if it was okay with him I would be more than willing to take a few of them off his hands. We worked out the details and soon a job lot of 12 pipes traveled all the way from US to Canada and then on to India!! That was one long journey undertaken by this lot of Bertram pipes. Here is the lot of Bertram pipes that I received. This lot contained a variety of nicely shaped and grained pipes which I had been looking forward to work on.The second pipe that I decided to work on from this lot is a Full Bent Egg shaped pipe, marked in green arrow, with swirls to the front and cross grains to the sides and over the shank surfaces. This pipe is stamped on the left shank surface as “Bertram” in running hand over “WASHINGTON D C” in block letters in a straight line. The grade code “25” is stamped on the bottom surface at the shank end. The stampings are slightly worn out but still readable by naked eye. The bent vulcanite saddle stem is sans any stamping. The size and feel of the pipe is solid in hand. This pipe has been well researched and chronicled by Steve when he worked on many of the Bertram pipes in his possession and thus, shall not waste time in proverbial “reinventing the wheel”. Interested readers may like to follow the link given below to get to know the brand better. https://rebornpipes.com/2019/04/10/the-4th-of-a-collection-of-bertrams-a-bertram-dublin-70s/

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
This pipe has a compact bowl size that narrows slightly towards the rim with a sharply raked round shank and a bent saddle stem that lends itself nicely to clenching. The stummel boasts of some beautiful cross grains to the sides and all around the shank. The stummel is covered in dirt and dust. The entire stummel is peppered with a number of fills, both large and small. There is a thick layer of cake in the chamber and some damage is likely to the back of the rim top surface. The stem is lightly oxidized with tooth chatter in the bite zone. The pipe, as it sits on my work table, presents an encouraging picture. DETAILED INSPECTION OF THE PIPE AND OBSERVATIONS
The chamber has a slight taper towards the rim top and a chamber depth of about 1 ¼ inches. The outer edge of the rim towards the shank is slightly flattened while the rest of it is perfectly rounded. The chamber has an even layer of thick hard cake with remnants of un-burnt tobacco seen at the heel of the chamber. The rim surface has light traces of lava overflow over the rim surface. Through this layer of lava, a few dings can be seen over the rim top surface. The outer rim edge is sans any damage. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be commented upon after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. The ghost smells in the chamber are not very strong. The stummel appears solid to the touch all around and hence I do not foresee any serious damage to the walls in the form of burnout/ deep heat fissures/ lines or pits. The ghost smells should reduce once the cake from the chamber is removed and the shank has been cleaned. The smooth stummel surface is covered in dust and grime through which one can make out the beautiful cross grains over the sides of the bowl and shank. The stummel surface is shows a couple of large and small fills. These fills stand out like flesh wounds against the briar surface. The briar is looking lifeless and bone dry. Thorough cleaning and rising of the stummel under warm water should loosen old fills while also serving to highlight the grain patterns. Once the stummel has been thoroughly cleaned, these fills will be more apparent and I intend to refresh only those fills which have loosened out with a fresh fill of briar dust and superglue. Micromesh polishing will help in blending these fills while imparting a nice shine to the briar. The mortise has a reservoir at the bottom that has accumulated oils, tars and gunk. The walls of the shank are filthy and covered in grime and dust. The mortise appears to be clogged as a pipe cleaner did not easily pass through it. I have worked on many Pete System pipes and cleaning the sump had always been a chore. Fervently hoping that is not the case this time around! The fit of the stem in to the mortise is slightly tight. However, once the shank walls are cleaned, this issue should be resolved.The high quality vulcanite saddle stem is lightly oxidized. Some minor tooth chatter and calcified deposit is seen on both the upper and lower stem surfaces in the bite zone and at the bottom of the button edge respectively. The tenon has accumulated ash and oils/ tars that have dried out on the inside as well as on the outside. The horizontal slot has scratch marks which will have to be addressed. The tooth chatter and the calcified deposits will be removed by sanding with a piece of 220 grit sand paper.THE PROCESS
I started the restoration of this pipe by first cleaning the internals of the stem with bristled pipe cleaners and 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. I scraped out the dried oils and tars from the tenon end with my fabricated knife and also removed the dried oils and tars from the slot end. I followed it up by sanding the entire stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to remove the surface oxidation. It has been our (Abha, my wife and self) experience that sanding a stem before dunking it in to the deoxidizer solution helps in bringing the deep seated oxidation to the surface which in turn make further cleaning a breeze with fantastic result.I dropped the stem in to “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution developed by my friend Mark Hoover. The solution helps to draw out heavy oxidation to the surface, making its further removal a breeze, while the minor oxidation is eliminated to a very great extent. The initial sanding helps to draw out the complete oxidation as the sanding opens up the stem surface that has been initially covered with oxidation. I usually dunk stems of 4-5 pipes that are in-line for restoration and this pipe is marked in pastel blue arrow. I generally allow the stems to soak in this solution overnight to do its work.While the stem was soaking in the deoxidizer solution, I worked on the stummel by first reaming the chamber with size 2 Castleford reamer head. I further scraped the chamber walls with my fabricated knife to remove the remaining carbon deposits where the reamer head could not reach. I scraped out the lava overflow from the rim top surface. Once the cake was reamed back to the bare briar, I used a 150 grit sand paper followed by 220 grit sand paper to remove all the traces of remaining cake and also to smooth out the inner walls of the chamber surface. Finally, to remove the residual carbon dust, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. And it was at this stage that I got the first (and hopefully the last) inkling of the likely damage to the heel of the chamber. The mortise and draught hole had been over zealously cleaned with pipe cleaners/ shank brush by the previous piper and which had resulted in a deep trough from the draught hole to the center of the heel with raised edges on the sides. This trough is indicated with red arrows. If or not the damage has extended to the foot of the stummel will be confirmed once the stummel surface has been cleaned. The chamber walls, inner and outer rim edges are pristine and without any damage. I followed up the reaming with cleaning the mortise using cue tips, pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I scraped the walls of the mortise with my fabricated knife to remove the dried oils and tars. The ghost smells have been eliminated and the chamber smells clean.With the bowl internals clean, I move to clean the exterior of the stummel. I used a hard bristled tooth brush and Briar Cleaner, a product that has been developed by Mark Hoover, to scrub the stummel and rim top. I set the stummel aside for 10 minutes for the product to draw out all the grime from the briar surface. After 10 minutes, I washed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the stummel surface was clean. I dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. The stummel surface has cleaned up nicely and the beautiful grain patterns are now on full display. The fills, even the smallest ones, are now clearly discernible. I probed each fill with a sharp dental tool to check for solidity and thankfully, each fill was nice and solid without any give, save for the fills at the foot of the stummel. I took a closer look at the foot of the stummel and the worst of my fears was staring right back at me with a smile!!! There is a small smiley crack right in the centre of the foot. Truth be told, looking at the heel, I had inkling that the foot may have some such damage, but now to be sure that the damage does exist, is painful. Desperately seeking some positives, I was relieved to note that the damage has not progressed to an extent that would be termed as a burnout. I did the tap test over and around the damaged foot (with the back of a spoon or any hard instrument gently tap the damaged area) and was relieved to hear a crisp sharp note signifying that nothing is lost. The briar around still feels solid over and around the damaged foot. The pipe still has many years of life left in it and with the repairs that I plan, this will last even longer. I plan to drill a counter hole at either ends of the crack and seal it with briar dust and super glue. This will prevent further spread of the crack in either direction. The trough formed at the heel of the chamber will be spot filled with J B Weld which will prevent the burning tobacco from coming in to direct contact with the now weak spot in the heal.While the stummel was drying, the next morning, Abha removed the stem that had been soaking in the deoxidizer solution overnight. She cleaned the stem under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using a scotch brite pad and cleaned the airway with a thin shank brush. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little EVO to rehydrate the stem. There is a need to further sand the stem to completely remove the oxidation.My significant half, Abha, used a 220 grit sand paper to sand the stem and remove all the oxidation that was raised to the surface. This step further reduced the tooth chatter and bite marks present on the stem. She wiped the stem with Murphy’s Oil soap on a cotton swab. This helps in cleaning the stem surface while removing the loosened oxidation. As is the norm, whenever she works on a pipe, taking pictures NEVER EVER crosses her otherwise sharp mind!!! No exceptions here…

To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, she polished it by wet sanding with 1500 to 2000 grit sandpapers followed by further wet sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. She wiped the stem with a moist cloth after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rejuvenate the vulcanite. The finished stem is shown below. I checked the fit of the stem in to the mortise of the stummel and realized that the fit is very loose. This may happen when the mortise has been cleaned of the entire accumulated gunk and the briar has dried out completely. I shall address this issue by moistening the mortise with water and if that does not work, I shall use more invasive methods. RESTORATION ON THIS PIPE WAS PUT ON HOLD AS ALL THE NECESSARY TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT REQUIRED FOR FURTHER REPAIRS ARE AT MY PLACE OF WORK AND I WAS ON LEAVE INITIALLY AND THEREAFTER IN A NATION WIDE LOCKDOWN TO CONTAIN THE SPREAD OF THE DEADLY CORONA VIRUS!!!

PART II
Finally back at my work place…… After enjoying a compulsorily extended leave of three months with family and having honed my culinary and domestic chores skill set, I was happy to rejoin my duty and get back to completing the pending pipe restorations. The first in line was this Bertram Bent Egg # 25.

I decided to address the crack to the foot of the stummel. I marked the end points of the crack on either ends with a sharp dental tool under magnification. This helps to identify these end points later with naked eye and also provides initial traction for the drill bit to bite in. With a 1 mm drill bit mounted on to my hand held rotary machine, I drilled a hole each on either ends of the crack, taking care not to go too deep and end up drilling a through-hole.Simultaneously, I gouged out a few old fills that had loosened out from the foot of the stummel. I cleaned the stummel with isopropyl alcohol and cotton swab as I prepared the surface for the fill.I filled the gouges and the drilled holes with a mix of CA superglue and briar dust and set the stummel aside for the fill to cure. A few hours later, the fills had hardened completely. I sand them down with a flat head needle file to achieve a rough match with the rest of the stummel. I fine tuned the match with the rest of the surface by further sanding with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I shall decide to stain the stummel or otherwise after I have finished with the polishing with micromesh pads.I evened out the dents and dings from the rim top surface by sanding it with a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper. It was a tricky job since the rim top surface is not flat but slopes outwards from the inner to the outer edge. This peculiar shape ruled out topping the rim top. Now that the external repairs are done, I decided to address the trough that was formed at the heel of the chamber. To protect the heel from coming in to direct contact with the burning tobacco and also to prevent the heat from reaching the foot of the stummel causing a burnout, I plan, firstly, to coat only the heel of the chamber with J B Weld followed by a second coat of activated charcoal and yogurt to the entire chamber which would assist in faster cake formation. J B Weld is a two-part epoxy Cold Weld that consists of two parts; hardener and steel which are mixed in equal parts in a ratio of 1:1 with hardening time of 5-6 minutes and complete curing time of 6-8 hours. I poured the contents of the two tubes and mixed it well. With a flat bamboo frond, I applied this mix, as evenly as possible, over the intended areas. I worked fast to ensure a complete and even coating of the trough in the heel and set the stummel aside for the J B Weld to harden.By the next afternoon when I got back to working on this pipe, the J B Weld coat had completely cured and hardened considerably. With a folded piece of 150 grit sandpaper, I tried to sand the weld coating to a smooth surface. However, I could not sand the Weld as there was no space for maneuvering my finger with the sand paper. I decided to use a conical grinding stone which I had received along with my DIY hand held rotary tool kit and accessories. I mounted the conical grinding stone on to the rotary tool, set the speed at its lowest RPM and sanded the J B Weld coat till I had as thin a coat as was essential to protect and insulate the heel from the direct heat of the burning tobacco. I did not apply any downward pressure while sanding and let the rotary tool use the motor rpm to sand the weld to desired thickness.I followed it by wet sanding the stummel with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, wiping frequently with a moist cloth to check the progress. I really like the looks of the stummel at this point in restoration. The grains and the clean lines of this piece of briar are worthy of appreciation. Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The dark browns of the bird’s eye and cross grains spread across the stummel makes for a visual treat. It really is a nice piece of briar. With the stummel rejuvenation almost complete, save for the final wax polish, I worked the stem. I moistened the shank with a q-tip dipped in water. I checked the seating of the tenon in to the mortise after an hour. It was still very loose. This called for stretching the tenon to improve the seating of the stem in to the shank. I selected a drill bit that was slightly larger in diameter than the tenon air hole. I heated the tenon with the flame of a lighter till it was slightly pliable and inserted the back of the drill bit in to the opening to enlarge it. I cooled the tenon under cold running water to set the increased diameter of the tenon. I checked the fit and it was much better, though not very snug. I remedied this issue by applying a coat of clear nail polish and set it aside for the nail polish to dry out. Now that the cosmetic aspects of this pipe have dealt with, all that remained was the functional aspect that needs to be taken care of. The J B Weld coated surface needs to be protected from the direct heat of the burning tobacco and for this; I coat the complete chamber walls with a mix of activated charcoal and yogurt and set it aside to harden naturally. The mix has to be of the right consistency; neither too thick nor too runny. It should be of a consistency that is thick enough to spread easily, evenly and stick to the walls. Also the coating should not be very thick. A thin film is all that is required. Another important aspect to remember is that it is essential to insert a pipe cleaner in to the mortise and through the draught hole for two reasons; first is obviously to keep the draught hole from getting clogged and secondly, the pipe cleaner absorbs all the moisture from the mix and helps in faster and even drying of the coat.To put the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding.Next, I mount another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The grains on this finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and coupled with the size, heft and the hand feel, makes it quite a desirable pipe. If you are interested to enjoy this pipe for years to come, please let Steve know and we shall make arrangements for it to reach you. P.S. In one of my previous write up, a question “Why do I enjoy bringing these old battered and discarded pipes back to life?” had popped up in my mind. I had given my second reason in my last write up and in all my subsequent write ups I intend to share with the readers my reasons as to why I really love this hobby.

The third reason is that every pipe has a HISTORY attached to it. That history, in part, is about the maker/ carver of the pipe and the other part is the person who had posed faith in this piece of briar during his life time. Take the case of a Dunhill pipe that I had restored that once belonged to Late Mr. John Barber, an explorer who had been to Arctic and the Antarctic in the 1950s- 60s and an avid pipe smoker! His favored pipes were DUNHILL. His daughter, Farida had passed on his pipes to Steve to restore and trade these pipes for the family. Well, one of the Dunhill pipes was sent to me by Steve to let me test my skills in pipe restoration with the rider that “if I could restore it, I get to keep it!” This pipe had all the challenges that a pipe restorer usually faces while restoring a pipe and then some more. However, it was successfully repaired and restored and now is a part of my daily rotation (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/12/06/a-project-close-to-my-heart-restoring-a-dunhill-from-faridas-dads-collection/)

The point I want to convey is that whenever I smoke this pipe, it reminds me of Late Mr. John Barber and images of him smoking this pipe in the cold snow desert and the warmth, peace and comfort it must have provided him in that desolate environment…AND NOW I GET TO BE A PART OF THAT HISTORY/ LEGACY OF THE PIPE and this is what I just love!

I wish to thank each one for sparing their valuable time to read through this write up and each one is in my prayers. Stay home…stay safe!!

Refurbishing a Bertram Lovat # 25 Pipe From a Lot of 13 Bertrams


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Last year while on a Face Time chat with my Guru, Mentor and friend, Steve Laug, we got talking about the Bertram lot that he had been working on at that point in time. He spoke about how overwhelming it was just to look at the large lot of about 200 plus pipes that he and Jeff had acquired. Never to miss an opportunity to add to my meager pipe lot that was available for me to work on, I suggested that if it was okay with him I would be more than willing to take a few of them off his hands. We worked out the details and soon a job lot of 12 pipes traveled all the way from US to Canada and then on to India!!! That was one long journey undertaken by this lot of Bertram pipes. Here is the lot of Bertram pipes that I received. This lot contained a variety of nicely shaped and grained pipes which I had been looking forward to work on. Here is the picture of the Bertram lot as it came to me.The first pipe that I decided to work on from this lot is a classic Lovat, marked in yellow arrow, with beautiful loosely packed bird’s eyes to the sides of the stummel and cross grains to the front, back and over the shank surfaces. This pipe is stamped on the left shank surface as “Bertram” in running hand over “WASHINGTON D.C” in block capital letters, font size reducing from left to right. The grade code “25” is stamped below the letter W. The stampings are all crisp and deep. The short vulcanite saddle stem is sans any stampings. The size and feel of the pipe is solid in hand. This pipe has been well researched and chronicled by Steve when he worked on many of the Bertram pipes in his possession and thus, shall not waste time in proverbial “reinventing the wheel”. Interested readers may like to follow the link given below to get to know the brand better (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/04/10/the-4th-of-a-collection-of-bertrams-a-bertram-dublin-70s/).

Initial Visual Inspection
This pipe has a decent medium bowl size with a longish round shank and short saddle stem rendering it a classic Lovat shape. The stummel boasts of some beautiful cross grains to the front and back of the bowl and all around the shank. The stummel is covered in dirt and grime of the overflowed lava. The entire stummel is peppered with a number of fills, both large and small. There is a thick layer of cake in the chamber and some damage is likely to the back of the rim top surface. The stem is lightly oxidized with no bite marks to the button edge or tooth chatter in the bite zone. The pipe appears as it sits on my work table presents an encouraging picture. Detailed Inspection Of The Pipe And Observations
The bowl appears round with a wide rim and a depth of about 2 ¼ inches. The draught hole is in the center and at the bottom of the chamber. The chamber has an even layer of thick hard cake with remnants of un-burnt tobacco seen at the heel of the chamber. A fill (?) can be seen to the left in the 8 o’clock direction (indicated with a yellow arrow) over the smooth rim top surface. The rim surface is covered with lava overflow and has max accumulation in the 6 o’clock direction. Through this layer of lava, a few dings can be seen over the rim top surface. The inner rim edge in the 6 o’clock direction appears dark and worn out. The outer rim edge is sans any damage. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be commented upon after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. There is a sweet smell in the chamber which is not very strong.  The suspected fill over the rim top surface appears just that…. A fill! However, once the lava overflow from the rim top is removed that can I say, with any certainty, if it is a crack or otherwise. The stummel appears solid to the touch all around and hence I do not foresee any serious damage to the walls in the form of burnout/ deep heat fissures/ lines or pits. The dark inner rim edge, in the 6 o’clock direction, may be charred further than anticipated and the same will be confirmed after the surface has been thoroughly cleaned. I need to resort to topping the rim top in order to address the damage to the surface. The ghost smells should reduce once the cake from the chamber is removed and the shank has been cleaned. The smooth stummel surface is covered in dust and grime through which one can make out the beautiful cross grains to the front and back of the bowl and shank. The stummel surface is peppered with numerous small fills. These fills stand out like flesh wounds against the briar surface. The briar is looking lifeless and bone dry. Once the stummel has been thoroughly cleaned, these fills will be more apparent. I intend to refresh only those fills which have loosened out with a fresh fill of briar dust and superglue. Thorough cleaning and rising of the stummel under warm water should loosen old fills while also serving to highlight the grain patterns. Micromesh polishing will help in blending these fills while imparting a nice shine to the briar.   The mortise shows accumulation of oils, tars and gunk and the air flow is not full and smooth. The shank end rim surface has a chipped edge which is encircled in red. Along with the rim top fill/ chipped surface, I shall fill this gouge with briar dust and superglue mix. The high quality vulcanite saddle stem is lightly oxidized. Some minor tooth chatter and calcified deposit is seen on both the upper and lower stem surfaces in the bite zone and at the bottom of the button edge respectively. The tenon has accumulated ash and oils/ tars that have dried out on the inside as well as on the outside. The horizontal slot has scratch marks which will have to be addressed. The tooth chatter and the calcified deposits will be removed by sanding with a piece of 220 grit sand paper.     The Process
I started the restoration of this pipe by first cleaning the internals of the stem with bristled pipe cleaners and 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. I scraped out the dried oils and tars from the tenon end with my fabricated knife and also removed the dried oils and tars from the slot end. I followed it up by sanding the entire stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to remove the surface oxidation. It has been our (Abha, my wife and self) experience that sanding a stem before dunking it in to the deoxidizer solution helps in bringing the deep seated oxidation to the surface which in turn make further cleaning a breeze with fantastic result.I dropped the stem in to “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution developed by my friend Mark Hoover. The solution helps to draw out heavy oxidation to the surface, making its further removal a breeze, while the minor oxidation is eliminated to a very great extent. The initial sanding helps to draw out the complete oxidation as the sanding opens up the stem surface that has been initially covered with oxidation. I usually dunk stems of 4-5 pipes that are in-line for restoration and this pipe is marked in green arrow. I generally allow the stems to soak in this solution overnight to do its work.While the stem was soaking in the deoxidizer solution, I worked on the stummel by first reaming the chamber with size 2 followed by size 3 Castleford reamer head. I further scraped the chamber walls with my fabricated knife to remove the remaining carbon deposits where the reamer head could not reach. I scraped out the lava overflow from the rim top surface, especially from the area in the 6 ‘O’ clock direction. Once the cake was reamed back to the bare briar, I used a 150 grit sand paper followed by 220 grit sand paper to remove all the traces of remaining cake and also to smooth out the inner walls of the chamber surface. Finally, to remove the residual carbon dust, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. The chamber walls are pristine without any damage. Thankfully the inner rim was not charred under the lava overflow. The ghost smells are negligible and should further reduce after the shank/ mortise are thoroughly cleaned. The scraping of lava from the rim top has confirmed that the damage on the left side is indeed a fill and it would need to be refreshed. I followed up the reaming with cleaning the mortise using cue tips, pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I scraped the walls of the mortise with my fabricated knife to remove the dried oils and tars. The ghost smells are history and the chamber now smells clean.   With the bowl internals clean, I move to clean the exterior of the stummel. I used a hard bristled tooth brush and Briar Cleaner, a product that has been developed by Mark Hoover, to scrub the stummel and rim top. I set the stummel aside for 10 minutes for the product to draw out all the grime from the briar surface. After 10 minutes, I washed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the stummel surface was clean and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. The stummel surface has cleaned up nicely and the beautiful grain patterns are now on full display. The fills, even the smallest ones, are now clearly discernible. I probed each fill with a sharp dental tool to check for solidity and thankfully, each fill was nice and solid without any give. While the stummel was drying, the next morning, Abha removed the stem that had been soaking in the deoxidizer solution overnight. She cleaned the stem under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using a scotch brite pad and cleaned the airway with a thin shank brush. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little EVO to rehydrate the stem. I need to further sand the stem to completely remove the oxidation.    My significant half, Abha, used a 220 grit sand paper to sand the stem and remove all the oxidation that was raised to the surface. This step further reduced the tooth chatter and bite marks present on the stem. She wiped the stem with Murphy’s Oil soap on a cotton swab. This helps in cleaning the stem surface while removing the loosened oxidation. As is the norm, whenever she works on a pipe, taking pictures NEVER EVER crosses her otherwise sharp mind!! No exceptions here…

While Abha was working on the stem, I worked on the stummel. It was time to address the fill over the rim top and the gouge over the shank end surface. I filled both these gouges with a mix of briar dust and superglue. I always use the layering method for such repairs (layer of glue is first applied over the target area and briar dust is pressed over the layer of glue). I repeated the process till the desired coverage and thickness was achieved. I set the stummel aside for the fills to cure. I shall have to be extremely careful while sanding the shank end surface as any uneveness will cause an uneven seating of the stem in to the mortise.Once the fills had cured, I topped the rim top over a piece of 220 grit sand paper till I had a smooth and even surface. With a folded piece of worn out 180 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger, I carefully sand the shank end fill. With the same grit sand paper, I cleaned the bevel to the inner edge of the shank end of all the dripped mix of briar dust and glue. The reason I did not top the shank end was that any loss of briar from the shank end would result in shortening of the shank and a gap would be seen between the stem and shank end. The rim top surface and the edges look very neat at this stage. I followed it by wet sanding the stummel with 1500 to 2000 wet & dry sand paper and further with 3200 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, wiping frequently with a moist cloth to check the progress. I really like the looks of the stummel at this point in restoration. The grains and the clean lines of this piece of briar are worthy of appreciation.   Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The dark browns of the bird’s eye and cross grains spread across the stummel makes for a visual treat. It really is a nice piece of briar.  With the stummel rejuvenation almost complete, save for the final wax polish, I worked the stem. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I polished the stem, wet sanding with 1500 to 2000 grit sandpapers followed by further wet sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with moist cloth after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rejuvenate the vulcanite. The finished stem is shown below.  I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding. I mount another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and coupled with the size, heft and the hand feel, makes it quite a desirable pipe. If you feel that this pipe calls out your name, please let Steve know and we shall make arrangements for it to reach you. P.S. In one of my previous write up, a question “Why do I enjoy bringing these old battered and discarded pipes back to life?” had popped up in my mind. I had given one reason in my last write up and in all my subsequent write ups I intend to share with the readers my reasons as to why I really love this hobby.

The second reason is that this pipe that is now discarded by the piper as being SPENT and has fallen out of favor, actually still has (mostly do!) potential to provide many more years of smoking pleasures to any piper. Just because it has fouled up or does not smoke as good as when it was new or has been damaged, does not mean that the piece of briar is at fault. It is just that it was not well looked after by the piper and it is he and he alone who is responsible. It provides me with immense pleasure and joy to work on such out of favor and discarded pipes and bringing them back to their real beauty and full functional potential for years ahead. I consider it my honor to work on such pipes that find their way on to my work table.

I wish to thank each one for sparing their valuable time to read through this write up and each one is my prayers. Stay home…stay safe!!

 

Ready For a Second Inning – Georg Jensen 72 Ekstra # 130 Compact Lumberman


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I had randomly selected four pipes to work on since I prefer to put a few pipe stems together in the “Before And After” Deoxidizer solution that has been developed by Mark Hoover. I have completed the restoration of two of these pipes, a Wally Frank “BLACKTHORNE” sandblast billiard and another also a Wally Frank stamped Natural Unvarnished Bulldog with two dots.

The third pipe that I decided to work on is not a classic Lovat or its variants, a Lumberman or a Canadian, but I would prefer to call it short compact Lumberman. This pipe is stamped on the upper smooth oval shank surface as “GEORG JENSEN” over “made in Denmark PIPES” and on the bottom of the shank surface as “72 EKSTRA” followed by shape code “130” towards the shank end. The stampings are all crisp and deep. The high quality vulcanite diamond saddle stem bears the logo of interlinked letters “GJ”. The smooth briar, shape and quality of the stem all oozed high quality. This would be the first Georg Jensen pipe that I have worked on and thus my curiosity was piqued as I have worked on and handled pipes from Denmark made by carvers like Preben Holms, Nording, Soren etc, but never a Georg Jensen pipe. I first searched rebornpipes and came across a catalogue uploaded by Jacek A. Rochacki. However, the pipe on my work table finds no mention of it in the brochure. The article has an interesting snippet of information that is reproduced below.

* “our” Georg Jensen – the pipe maker is not this famous Georg Jensen – Danish designer, silversmith and sculptor.

Here is the link to the article

https://rebornpipes.com/2014/04/13/georg-jensen-pipe-brochure-jacek-a-rochacki/

Having hit a wall here, I turned my attention to pipedia.org to gather background information about the carver and his work. Here is the link to the write up on Georg Jensen and a brief of the carver that I have reproduced from the site.

https://pipedia.org/wiki/Georg_Jensen

The Georg Jensen pipe factory was founded by Per Georg Jensen and his wife in 1954, in Kopenhagen, Denmark. Since the 80s the company is under the management of his daughter Lis, and his son with the same name, Per Georg Jensen. The company manufactured around 2,000 factory pipes per year. Among the top of the line pipes are hand carved special editions and free hands.

Top of the Line models of Georg Jensen have vulcanite or ebonite stems, factory pipes usually have acrylic stems.

Factory pipes (in increasing quality) were marked:

Danish Sand Achat / Amber Red Flame / Red Skin Sunrise / Orange extra / Starline Contrast / Bicolour / Harmon Excellent / Masterpiece

Pipes were commonly marked (in increasing quality) with: MODEL + MODEL NUMBER + “Made in Denmark”, GJ stamp in red on the stem. MODEL NUMBER + “Georg Jensen” in italic or fancy font.

Extremely rare and collectible freehands were marked with:

“Straight Grain” and a number that discerns the grading from 1 (lowest) to 13 (highest).

Special edition pipes were marked with: MODEL + MODEL NUMBER + “Handmade in Denmark” + GJ stamp in white on the stem.

The factory closed down in 2001 when Per Georg Jensen (jr) became “Tobacco Professor” for MacBaren Tobacco house.

Well, again there are no matching grades for the factory pipes or similarity in commonly marked pipes and it definitely is not a freehand pipe!!

I surf the net and visited Smokingpipes.com which has been some excellent source of information on pipe brands and found an exact same pipe as that is currently on my work table with the shape and stampings matching to the T. However, the details that were available were similar to that I had read on pipedia.org. Given below is the link to the site.

https://www.smokingpipes.com/pipes/estate/denmark/moreinfo.cfm?product_id=284941

I have not been able to accurately pinpoint the period that this pipe was made in or the grading of this pipe in Georg Jensen line up, so any assistance in this regard is welcome and highly appreciated.

Initial Visual Inspection
This pipe has a compact size with an oval shank and short saddle stem akin to a Lumberman. However the compact size of the pipe with a shorter shank length compels me to designate this shape as a short Lumberman. The stummel boasts of some beautiful cross grains to the front and back of the bowl and shank. The stummel is covered in dirt and grime of the overflowed lava. There is not a single fill in the briar which speaks of high quality selection of the briar. There is a decent layer of cake in the chamber and some damage is seen to the rim top surface. The stem is heavily oxidized with a few deep bite marks to the button edge in the bite zone. Here is how the pipe appears as it sits on my work table. Detailed Inspection Of The Pipe And Observations
The bowl is slightly off round with a decently wide rim and a depth of about 1 7/8 inches. The draught hole is in the center and at the bottom of the chamber. The chamber has an uneven layer of thick crumbly cake. The smooth outward sloping rim top surface is severely damaged with dents/ dings and covered in lava overflow, dirt and grime. The inner front rim edge has suffered a few blows on a hard surface resulting in a dented and chipped edge surfaces to the between 12 o’clock and 2 o’clock direction and the same in enclosed in a yellow circle. The outer rim edge too has some minor dents in the 6 o’clock direction. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be commented upon after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. There is a sweet smell in the chamber which is not very strong. The stummel appears solid to the touch all around and hence I do not foresee any serious damage to the walls in the form of burnout/ deep heat fissures/ lines or pits. The darkened inner rim edge may be charred further than anticipated and the same will be confirmed after the surface has been thoroughly cleaned. I need to resort to topping the rim top in order to address the damage to the surface. The ghost smells should reduce once the cake from the chamber is removed and the shank has been cleaned. The smooth stummel surface is covered in dust and grime through which one can make out the beautiful cross grains to the front and back of the bowl and shank. The stummel surface is peppered with scratches, dents and dings on the either sides of the stummel, over the foot and to the front and back of the stummel, probably due to likely falls during its time with the previous piper. However, there is not a single fill in the entire stummel, signifying very high quality of briar used in carving this pipe. The briar is looking lifeless and bone dry. I shall need to sand the stummel surface with sand papers to remove and minimize the scratches, dents and dings. Once the stummel has been thoroughly cleaned, these damages will be more apparent. Thorough cleaning and rising under warm water of the stummel surface should highlight the grain patterns. Micromesh polishing will further help minimize these dents and scratches to some extent. The mortise shows accumulation of oils, tars and gunk and the air flow is not full and smooth.The high quality vulcanite saddle stem is so heavily oxidized that it appears brownish green in color! Some minor tooth chatter and light tooth marks over the button edge is seen on the upper surface of the stem. There are a couple of very deep bite marks on the lower stem surface that have completely damaged the button edge. These issues are nothing serious to address. The lip edge on both sides is damaged and would necessitate a rebuild followed by reshaping. The tenon has accumulated ash and oils/ tars that have dried out on the inside as well as on the outside. The horizontal slot has scratch marks which will have to be addressed. The bite marks will be raised to the surface by heating to the extent possible and further will be filled using charcoal and CA superglue mix.   The Process
I started the restoration of this pipe by first cleaning the internals of the stem with bristled pipe cleaners and 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. I scraped out the dried oils and tars from the tenon end with my fabricated knife and also removed the dried oils and tars from the slot end. I followed it up by sanding the entire stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to remove the surface oxidation. It has been our (Abha, my wife and self) experience that sanding a stem before dunking it in to the deoxidizer solution helps in bringing the deep seated oxidation to the surface which in turn make further cleaning a breeze with fantastic result.    I dropped the stem in to “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution developed by my friend Mark Hoover. The solution helps to draw out heavy oxidation to the surface, making its further removal a breeze, while the minor oxidation is eliminated to a very great extent. The initial sanding helps to draw out the complete oxidation as the sanding opens up the stem surface that has been initially covered with oxidation. I usually dunk stems of 4-5 pipes that are in-line for restoration and this pipe is marked in pastel blue arrow. I generally allow the stems to soak in this solution overnight to do its work.While the stem was soaking in the deoxidizer solution, I worked on the stummel by first reaming the chamber with size 3 Castleford reamer head. I further scraped the chamber walls with my fabricated knife to remove the remaining carbon deposits where the reamer head could not reach. I scraped out the lava overflow from the rim top surface, especially from the area in the 12 o’clock direction. Once the cake was reamed back to the bare briar, I used a 150 grit sand paper followed by 220 grit sand paper to remove all the traces of remaining cake and also to smooth out the inner walls of the chamber surface. Finally, to remove the residual carbon dust, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. The chamber walls are sans any damage. The inner rim edge has a number of nicks which were revealed after the lava overflow was removed from the rim top. Thankfully the inner rim was not charred under the lava overflow. The ghost smells are negligible and may further reduce after the shank/ mortise are thoroughly cleaned.  With the bowl internals clean, I move to clean the exterior of the stummel. I used a hard bristled tooth brush and Briar Cleaner, a product that has been developed by Mark Hoover, to scrub the stummel and rim top. I set the stummel aside for 10 minutes for the product to draw out all the grime from the briar surface. After 10 minutes, I washed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the stummel surface was clean and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. The stummel surface has cleaned up nicely with the beautiful grain patterns on full display.  While the stummel was drying, the next morning, Abha removed the stems (stem indicated with pastel bue arrow is the one being worked on) that had been soaking in the deoxidizer solution overnight. She cleaned the stem and the stem airway under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using a scotch brite pad and the airway with a thin shank brush. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little EVO to rehydrate the stem. This now gives a clearer picture of the extent of depth of the bite marks as can be seen in the pictures below. These will definitely require a fill. The oxidation is deep and stubborn and can be seen over the stem surface and in the concave of the saddle, as dirty brown coloration. I need to further sand the stem to completely remove the oxidation.I used a 220 grit sand paper to sand the stem and remove all the oxidation that was raised to the surface. This step further reduced the tooth chatter and bite marks present on the stem. I wiped the stem with Murphy’s Oil soap on a cotton swab. This helps in cleaning the stem surface while removing the loosened oxidation. Using a lighter, I flamed the surface of the stem. This helped in raising some of the tooth chatter and bite marks to the surface as vulcanite has a property to regain its original shape on heating. I used a white correction pen to highlight the stem logo. I smeared the correction ink over the logo and once dried, I shall gently wipe out the excess ink. The remaining tooth chatter and bite marks would be addressed subsequently by filling it with a charcoal and superglue mix.I addressed the deeper tooth chatter and bite marks by filling them up with a mix of activated charcoal and CA superglue. Once I had applied the mix, I set it aside to cure overnight. Once the fill has hardened, I shall file and sand the fills to match the surface of the stem and sharpen the button edges on either surface.  With the fills in the stem set aside to cure, I turned my attention back to the stummel. It was time to address the nicks, dents/ dings over the rim top and uneven inner rim edge. I decided to top the rim top surface, a process for which I have an aversion. However, it is a necessary evil if the rim top and rim edges are heavily damaged. I top the rim on a square piece of 220 grit sand paper, frequently checking for the progress. Once I was satisfied that the rim top is evenly smooth and also the damage to the inner (in 12 o’clock and 2 o’clock direction) and outer (dents in the 6 o’clock direction) rim edge has been reduced, I stopped the process of topping. Here is how the rim top surface appears at this point in restoration. The process of topping has flattened the rim top which originally had a slight OUTWARD slant from the inner rim edge. A few minor nicks to the inner and dings to the outer edge are still visible. I shall address these issues by hand sanding the edges to create a slight bevel to both the inner and outer edges.With a folded piece of worn out 180 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger, I create a very slight bevel to the inner edge. This helped to remove the remaining nicks from the inner edge. With the same grit sand paper, I created a bevel to the outer edge while at the same time with outward movement of the sand paper, gave a slight outward slope from the inner edge. The rim top surface and the edges look very neat at this stage. Next I addressed the numerous scratches and dings to the stummel surface. I sand the stummel surface with a piece of 220 grit sand paper to remove/ minimize the scratches over the stummel surface. Though 95% of the scratches and dings have been eliminated, there still remains few very minor dings that are remnants of the deeper ones. I accept these dings as part of this pipe’s journey till date.  I followed it by wet sanding the stummel with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, wiping frequently with a moist cloth to check the progress. I really like the looks of the stummel at this point in restoration. The grains and the clean lines of this piece of briar is really appreciable. Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The contrast of the dark browns of the flame and cross grains with the natural finish of the rest of the stummel adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel which may be insufficiently described in words and be rather seen in person.  With the stummel rejuvenation almost complete, save for the final wax polish, I worked the stem. The fill had hardened and with a flat head needle file, I worked on the filling till I had achieved a rough match with the surrounding surface and had sufficiently sharpened the button edges. For a better blending, I further sand the entire stem with 220 followed by 400, 600 and 800 grit sand paper. This helps to reduce the scratch marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I polished the stem, wet sanding with 1500 to 2000 grit sandpapers followed by further wet sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with moist cloth after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rejuvenate the vulcanite. The finished stem is shown below. The oxidation on this stem was the deepest and the most difficult to remove of all the pipes that I have worked on till date and I have worked on quite a few disastrous stems!! At one point in time, I had to resort to a 150 grit sand paper, the most abrasive one that I have in my inventory. The scratch marks left behind by the sand paper are still visible in the pictures but not noticeable in person (if that’s any consolation…) I have now reached the homestretch in this restoration project. To complete the restoration, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding. I mount another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful. The finished pipe is as shown below. P.S. In my last write up a question “Why do I enjoy bringing these old battered and discarded pipes back to life?” had popped up in my mind.

Well, the first and foremost reason that I enjoy this hobby is because I enjoy smoking a pipe and it being an instrument of joy for me, is of utmost importance. Thus, bringing these instruments of enjoyment back to life from obscurity to function as it was intended to be gives me immense pleasures. I am sure the readers will understand this reasoning.

I wish to thank each one for sparing their valuable time to read through this write up and each one is my prayers. Stay home…stay safe!!

An Inherited Pipe Thought To Be Sasieni, Turned Out To Be A Wally Frank “Natural Unvarnished” Bulldog.


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I had randomly selected four pipes to work on since I prefer to put a few pipe stems together in the “Before And After” Deoxidizer solution that has been developed by Mark Hoover. I have completed the restoration of one of these pipes, a Wally Frank “BLACKTHORNE” sandblast billiard.

The moment I had picked up this pipe, as had happened with the BLACKTHORNE, I thought this pipe to be a Family era Sasieni what with the two dots that peered back at me and the classic Bulldog shape. However, when I saw the stampings, again for the second time on the trot it turned out to be a US brand. The smooth briar, shape and quality of the stem all oozed high quality.

The pipe is a Bulldog with a diamond shank and a straight diamond saddle stem. It is a medium sized pipe with a nice hand feel and the light weight makes it easy for clenching. This pipe is stamped on the upper left smooth surface of the shank as “WALLY FRANK” over “LTD” and on the upper right shank surface as “NATURAL UNVARNISHED” over “IMPORTED BRIAR”, all in block capital letters. The stampings appear faint due to accumulation of dirt and grime over the surface. The high quality vulcanite diamond saddle stem has two Blue Dots. I had read about Wally Frank, while researching a Wally Frank Blackthorne, as being an old Tobacconist from around New York City in US who also sold English made pipes under his name since 1930s. The NATURAL UNVARNISHED was one of the lines/styles of pipes that was offered by Wally Frank. For the readers who wish to acquaint themselves with the Tobacconist and the brand, given below is the link to the write up on pipedia.org.

https://pipedia.org/wiki/Wally_Frank

To unravel the mystery of the two dots, I searched the internet and came across a forum Pipe Smokers Dens where there was thread on Wally Frank. Here is the link to the discussion;

https://pipesmokersdens.com/threads/show-us-your-wally-franks.3139/page-2

I reproduce the relevant part of the discussion which references the TWO DOTs seen on my pipe that makes for an interesting read.

Deadfrog said:

No, it’s just a standard push tenon. It’s a “Wally Frank Limited” & “Made in England”. I never delved too deep into who in England made pipes for them, but if I recall correctly, Sasieni and Charatan supplied them with pipes over the years. Regardless, this was a good buy. Some beautiful grain without a single fill. It’s a nice, classically shaped pipe.

Piffyr Replied

Comoy was their primary British supplier. If the pipe has a shape number, it likely matches the Comoy chart. They also bought pipes from Charatan and (maybe/likely) GBD. Also, a few smaller manufacturers in England that are mostly forgotten today. I think the Sasieni thing started because of the pale blue dots used on the Natural Unvarnished stems coupled with some wishful thinking, but it doesn’t hold up. The pipes aren’t COM stamped and the shapes don’t match. Sometimes, a pale blue dot is just a pale blue dot.

I have not been able to accurately pinpoint the period that this pipe was made in, so any assistance in this regard is welcome and highly appreciated.

Initial Visual Inspection
This pipe has the classic Bulldog shape with the rim cap separated from the rest of the stummel by two rings. The stummel boasts of some beautiful flame and cross grains all over the bowl and shank and is covered in dirt and grime of the overflowed lava. There is not a single fill in the briar which speaks of high quality selection of the briar. There is a decent layer of cake in the chamber. The stem is heavily oxidized with a few deep bite marks in the bite zone. Here is how the pipe appears as it sits on my work table. Detailed Inspection Of The Pipe And Observations
The bowl is in perfect round with a decently wide rim and a depth of about 1 7/8 inches. The chamber has an uneven layer of thick cake. The smooth rim top surface is covered in lava overflow and dirt and grime from previous usage and subsequent storage. The maximum deposition of lava is seen in the 6 o’clock direction (enclosed in blue circle). The inner rim appears to be in pristine condition and the outer rim has suffered a few blows on a hard surface resulting in a few minor chipped edge surfaces. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be commented upon after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. The draught hole is dead center and at the bottom of the chamber and that makes me believe that it should great smoke and the thick cake in the chamber lends credence to this observation. The stummel appears solid to the touch all around and hence I do not foresee any serious damage to the walls in the form of burnout/ deep heat fissures/ lines or pits. The darkened inner rim edge may present a surprise in the form of charred rim edge making the chamber out of round. The smooth stummel surface has taken on a layer of aged patina, through which one can make out the beautiful flame grains all around interspersed with tightly packed cross grains. There are a few minor dents and dings on the lower edge of the diamond shank, probably due to likely falls and or rubbing against other pipes while being stored for more than 40 years. However, there is not a single fill in the entire stummel, signifying very high quality of briar used in carving this pipe. The two rings demarcating the rim cap is intact and the grooves are filled with grime and dust. The briar is looking lifeless and bone dry and has taken on dirty grey hues. I need to be careful while cleaning the paneled shank surfaces to preserve the stampings on this pipe. Thorough cleaning and rising under warm water of the stummel surface should highlight the grain patterns while preserving the patina. In all probability, I shall let these minor dents and dings to the lower edge of the shank remain and avoid the process of sanding the stummel with sand paper in order to preserve the beautiful patina. Maybe, micromesh polishing will address a few of these dents and scratches to some extent. The mortise shows accumulation of oils, tars and gunk and the air flow is not full and smooth. The high quality vulcanite diamond saddle stem is so heavily oxidized that it appears brownish green in color! It is evident that the pipe was used with a softie rubber bite as can be seen from the difference between the area covered by the rubber bite and rest of the stem surface. Some minor tooth chatter and one deep gouge mark is seen on the lower surface of the stem. There are a couple of not very deep bite marks on the upper stem surface. This issue should not be a major headache to address. The lip edge on both sides is in good shape requiring nothing more than minor reshaping. The tenon has accumulated ash and oils/ tars that have dried out on the inside as well as on the outside. The horizontal slot has grime deposits which will have to be cleaned. The tooth chatter and the bite marks will be raised to the surface by heating and the deeper tooth indentations will be filled using charcoal and CA superglue mix. The Process
I started the restoration of this pipe by first cleaning the internals of the stem with bristled pipe cleaners and 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. I scraped out the dried oils and tars from the tenon end with my fabricated knife and also removed the dried oils and tars from the slot end. I followed it up by sanding the entire stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to remove the surface oxidation. It has been our (Abha, my wife and self) experience that sanding a stem before dunking it in to the deoxidizer solution helps in bringing the deep seated oxidation to the surface which in turn make further cleaning a breeze with fantastic result. I dropped the stem in to “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution developed by my friend Mark Hoover. The solution helps to draw out heavy oxidation to the surface, making its further removal a breeze, while the minor oxidation is eliminated to a very great extent. The initial sanding helps to draw out the complete oxidation as the sanding opens up the stem surface that has been initially covered with oxidation. I usually dunk stems of 4-5 pipes that are in-line for restoration and this pipe is marked in yellow arrow. I generally allow the stems to soak in this solution overnight to do its work.While the stem was soaking in the deoxidizer solution, I worked on the stummel by first reaming the chamber with size 1 and 2 Castleford reamer heads. I further scraped the chamber walls with my fabricated knife to remove the remaining carbon deposits. I scraped out the lava overflow from the rim top surface, especially from the area in the 6 o’clock direction. Once the cake was reamed back to the bare briar, I used a 150 grit sand paper followed by 220 grit sand paper to remove all the traces of remaining cake and also to smooth out the inner walls of the chamber surface. Finally, to remove the residual carbon dust, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. The chamber walls are sans any damage. There are a couple of minor chips to the inner edge of the inner rim which revealed themselves after the lava overflow was removed from the rim top in 7 o’clock direction. Thankfully the inner rim was not charred under the lava overflow. The ghost smells are negligible and may further reduce after the shank/ mortise are thoroughly cleaned. This was followed by cleaning the mortise with q-tips, pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I scraped the walls of the mortise with my fabricated knife to remove the dried oils and tars. I was surprised to find the shank a bit cleaner than I had anticipated from my detailed inspection. The ghost smells are history and the chamber now smells clean.With the bowl internals clean, I move to clean the exterior of the stummel. I used a hard bristled tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil soap to scrub the stummel and rim top. For this stummel cleaning, l I used Murphy’s Oil soap as I wanted to preserve the old patina that had developed on the stummel and was not sure how the Briar cleaner product would affect it. After the scrub with oil soap, I washed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the stummel surface was clean and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. The stummel surface has cleaned up nicely with the beautiful grain patterns on full display. While the stummel was drying, the next morning, Abha removed the stems (stem indicated with yellow arrow is the one being worked on) that had been soaking in the deoxidizer solution overnight. She cleaned the stem and the stem airway under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using a Scotch Brite pad and the airway with a thin shank brush. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little EVO to rehydrate the stem. This now gives a clearer picture of the extent of depth of the bite marks as can be seen in the pictures below. These will definitely require a fill. The oxidation is deep and stubborn and can be seen over the stem surface and in the concave of the diamond shape, as dirty green coloration. I need to further sand the stem to completely remove the oxidation.I used a 220 grit sand paper to sand the stem and remove all the oxidation that was raised to the surface. This step further reduced the tooth chatter and bite marks present on the stem. I wiped the stem with Murphy’s Oil soap on a cotton swab. This helps in cleaning the stem surface while removing the loosened oxidation. Using a lighter, I flamed the surface of the stem. This helped in raising some of the tooth chatter and bite marks to the surface as vulcanite has a property to regain its original shape on heating. The remaining tooth chatter and bite marks would be addressed subsequently.I addressed the deeper tooth chatter and bite marks by filling them up with a mix of activated charcoal and CA superglue. Once I had applied the mix, I set it aside to cure overnight. Once the fill has hardened, I shall file and sand the fills to match the surface of the stem and sharpen the button edges on either surface.With the fills in the stem set aside to cure, I turned my attention back to the stummel. The minor dents to the lower edge of the diamond shank was bothering me as I wanted it to be as pristine as was possible. I decided to sand it down with a higher grade sandpaper. With a folded piece of 600 grit sandpaper I sand dents along the either sides of the shank edge till the dents are not easily discernible. I followed it by wet sanding the stummel with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, wiping frequently with a moist cloth to check the progress. I really like the looks of the stummel at this point in restoration. The grains and the clean lines of this piece of briar is really appreciable.  Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The contrast of the dark browns of the flame and cross grains with the natural unvarnished finish of the rest of the stummel adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel which may be insufficiently described in words and be rather seen in person. With the stummel rejuvenation almost complete, save for the final wax polish, I worked the stem. The fill had cured and with a flat head needle file, I worked on the filling till I had achieved a rough match with the surrounding surface and had sufficiently sharpened the button edges. For a better blending, I further sand the entire stem with 220 followed by 400, 600 and 800 grit sand paper. This helps to reduce the scratch marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2000 grit sandpapers followed by further wet sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with moist cloth after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rejuvenate the vulcanite. The finished stem is shown below. I have now reached the homestretch in this restoration project. To complete the restoration, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding. I mounted another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and is ready to join my collection. I only wish it could share with me its life story of the past years while I enjoy smoking my favorite Virginia blend in it or maybe an English blend or maybe just keep admiring it!! The finished pipe is as shown below. P.S. As I was working this pipe, a fleeting question “Why do I enjoy bringing these old battered and discarded pipes back to life?” crossed my mind…

I wish to thank each one for sparing their valuable time to read through this write up and each one is my prayers. Stay home…stay safe!!

A Difficult To Identify But Simple Restoration Of “Ornsby” Pipe


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I had recently completed a challenging restoration of an ORLIK MEERSCHAUM LINED pipe that had broken meerschaum lining. I considered it to be a challenging project because I had never undertaken repairs of a meerschaum as a material and trespassing in to uncharted territories is always challenging. However, thanks to all the detailed and informative write ups on the subject that is available on rebornpipes.com, I was successful in restoring the pipe and making it smoke worthy!!

For my next project, I wanted something simple to work on and after rummaging through the huge pile of pipes awaiting restoration; I selected this interesting but different looking pipe that was in my grandfather’s collection. I say it is different since this pipe does not have a shank but the stem directly fits in to the bowl beneath the vertically placed draught hole on the heel. In addition to the vintage classic pipes, there are quite a few such different looking and unique pipes that I have been fortunate to inherit.

Beneath all the dust and grime, beautiful Bird’s eye grains to the sides and bold cross grains to front and back that extends to nearly half the width of the bowl on the left side can be seen over the stummel. Once the stummel has been cleaned and polished these grains will pop out and look more beautiful. The stummel is sans any stampings while the vulcanite stem with a conical aluminum tenon end has a symbol that is hard to describe. It’s an interlocked OP with a straight line from the base of the letter P. The lack of any Maker’s stamp and COM stamp makes the identification of this pipe very difficult.Lack of Maker’s stampings and COM stamp made research of this pipe very difficult. There was no point visiting rebornpipes.com as I did not have any name to search for. Similarly, visiting pipedia.org would not help as I did not have COM stamp to follow. Finally I turned to pipephil.eu and searched the Logos with a geometrical pattern and Logos with miscellaneous symbols sections. Again I came up with nothing matching the stem logo on the pipe in front of me. As a last resort, I just typed “pictures of unusual tobacco pipes” in to the Google search bar and there before me were a plethora of pictures. As I was scrolling through these images, after a couple of hours, I finally found a picture that was an exact replica of the pipe on my work table. A click on to this image took me to the site smokingmetals.co.uk. Here is the link to the web page; http://www.smokingmetal.co.uk/pipe.php?page=106

From the read I understood that this design was a part of the piper’s eternal quest for a cool and dry smoke. I reproduce a part of the information that should provide the readers with an insight in to the designer of the pipe and the Company that manufactured these pipes.

Invented by Chief Marine Officer, William Edward Ornsby in an attempt to create a cooler smoke and a dry bowl. Marketed by the Ornsby Pipe Company Ltd, Pennywell, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear, England, predominately in the North of England, this pipe is virtually a stem direct to bowl.
The push fit stem/bit can be rotated to clear any shreds of tobacco that may be blocking the airway. A half turn of the stem will cut any trapped leaf in the airway and a quick blow will eject the offending particle. As the centre photo shows, the metal part of the stem goes right through the bowl. The packaging was also unusual in that it was a tube.
The pipe came with two choices of stem, straight or curved and there was a choice of six bowls: Natural, Brown Sandblast, Black Sandblast, Smooth Mahogany Finish, Deep Cut Horizontal Carved or the Deep Cut Vertical Carved.
Overall length 5 3/4 inches (146 m/m)

My thanks to Richard Adamek for the following:
“ORNSBY PIPE COMPANY LIMITED At an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Members of the above-named Company, duly convened, and held at 7 Benton Terrace, Sandyford Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, on 27th October 1980, the following Extraordinary Resolution was duly passed:
“That it has been proved to the satisfaction of this Meeting that the Company cannot, by reason of its liabilities, continue its business, and that it is advisable to wind up the same, and accordingly that the Company be wound up voluntarily and that Brian Leslie Wilson, of Wilson Johnson, 7 Benton Terrace, Sandyford Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, be and he is hereby nominated Liquidator for the purposes of the winding-up.”
(803) Brian Dobinson, Director”
Richard also found the patent number… US patent 242261 of 1976

Thus from the above, it is now established that the pipe that I am dealing with is an ORNSBY with a Natural smooth finish and a straight vulcanite stem. The pipe was awarded a US Patent in 1976 and the company was liquidated in 1980. This places the pipe in between the period from 1970s to 1980 making it 40 plus years old!!

Initial Visual Inspection
The pipe has beautiful Bird’s eye and cross grain across the stummel that can be seen through all the dirt and grime from years of use and uncared for storage. The chamber has a thick layer of cake with lava overflow over the rim top surface. The vulcanite stem is heavily oxidized and the aluminum tenon contraption appears to be dull and lackluster. The bite zone is peppered with minor tooth chatter. I think this should be an easy refurbishing project. Here is how the pipe appears as it sits on my work table. The smooth stummel has some beautiful Bird’s eye grain on the sides with cross grains on the front and back of the stummel. At the bottom on either side of the stummel, is a sharply contoured cut that merges and forms a gap between the either sides of the stummel that houses the aluminum tenon end of the stem. The stummel surface is covered in dirt and grime giving the stummel a dull and lackluster appearance. There is not a single fill in the briar and the stummel just oozes out high quality. There are a few dents and dings on either side of the stummel. The gap at the foot of the stummel that houses the aluminum tenon is covered in oils, tars and grime from years of usage and storage. The housing for the tenon needs to be cleaned. The minor dents and dings will be addressed once the stummel is sanded down with a sand paper. A nice cleaning and polishing should highlight the beautiful grain on the briar. A thick layer of cake is seen in the chamber. The rim top surface has a few dings and is covered in thick overflow of lava, dirt, dust and grime. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber and rim top surface will be known once the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. The inner rim condition appears to be good with no burn/ charred surfaces. However, the outer rim edge is damaged most probably due to striking against a hard surface. In spite of the thick cake, the chamber odor is surprisingly not strong and should be addressed once the cake has been taken down to the bare briar and the shank internals have been thoroughly cleaned. The draught hole is in the dead center of the heel of the chamber and is constricted due to accumulation of the thick cake. Only once the stummel has been thoroughly cleaned that I can be sure of my initial appreciation. The dings over the rim surface will be addressed by topping while the damage to the outer rim edge will be taken care of by sanding or, if need be, by creating a bevel. The draught hole needs to be thoroughly cleaned for a full and smooth draw. The tapered vulcanite stem is unique and nothing like I had seen before. The tenon end is a conical aluminum extension and has a horizontal slot that is closed at the bottom, cut across the mid section which opens in to the stem airway. This slot is aligned with the draught hole. For a better understanding of the construction and functioning, shown below are a few pictures which shows the complete set up. The stem is heavily oxidized with minor tooth chatter in the bite zone. The aluminum tenon is stained with dried oils and tars and has a lackluster appearance. Deposits/ accumulation of gunk is seen in the horizontal slot in the conical tenon, clogging the air way. Apart from slight calcium deposition at the edge of the both the buttons, there is no damage to the button per se on either surface and no deep bite marks in the bite zone. I shall clean the stem internals and get rid of the surface oxidation. This internal cleaning will improve the air flow and external cleaning will help in aesthetics of the stem. The minor tooth chatter in the bite zone will be addressed by sanding the area. The Process
I decided to address the stem first for this restoration. There is no fixed routine that I follow during any restoration and I prefer to address first that part which requires maximum repairs or that what requires maximum time. I cleaned the internals of the stem with thin shank brush dipped in liquid dish washing soap and further cleaned it with regular and bristled pipe cleaners and 99.9% isopropyl alcohol. It has been my experience that initial cleaning with shank brush greatly reduces the subsequent requirement of pipe cleaners.Next, I reamed the chamber with size 2 followed by size 3 head of the Castleford reamer. I further sand the walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper and took the cake down to the bare briar. I wiped the chamber with a cotton swab and isopropyl alcohol. It was a great relief to find a solid chamber with no heat fissures/ lines/ pits. The lava overflow from the rim top surface was gently scrapped off with my fabricated knife. I cleared the draught hole of all the obstructing cake and gunk with hard bristled pipe cleaners and alcohol. The gap at the foot of the stummel that houses the tenon was cleaned using shank brush, pipe cleaners and alcohol. The rim top surface needs to be scrubbed clean. This cleaning has revealed an uneven inner rim with chips to the edge, especially one in 12 o’clock direction. The damaged areas of the inner rim edge are marked in yellow circles. Further external cleaning of the stummel will present a clearer picture of the extent of damage. The chamber now smells fresh and clean.    The time that I was working on cleaning up of the stummel, Abha my wife worked on the stem. Since there was no requirement of any repairs to the stem, she volunteered to clean it up. With a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper she rid the stem of the deep seated oxidation. She followed the 180 grit sandpaper with sanding the stem with progressively finer grit sandpapers of 220, 400, 600 and 1000 grit. The use of progressively finer grit sandpapers helps in removing complete oxidation from the stem surface while eliminating the sanding marks left behind by the coarser grit sandpapers. She cleaned up to the aluminum tenon end and the stem with 0000 grit steel wool and Murphy’s Oil soap and rubbed a little EVO deep in to the vulcanite. What fantastic results she has produced! The stem already looks polished and yet micromesh cycle is yet to be completed. Here is how the stem appears at this stage.With the internals of the stummel now clean, I cleaned the external surface of the stummel. I applied “Briar Cleaner”, a product that has been developed by my friend Mark Hoover, to the external surface of the bowl. It works similar to Murphy’s oil soap and needs to be applied to the stummel surface and set aside for 5- 10 minutes. The product pulls out all the dirt and grime to the surface making further cleaning easy. I am quite happy with this product. I used a hard bristled tooth brush to scrub the stummel with the gel like product, wiped it clean with a moist cloth and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I deliberately cleaned the rim and the shank end by inverting the stummel and rotating it on a piece of Scotch Brite. I cleaned the gap that houses the conical aluminum tenon with a shank brush and dish washing soap to remove what little crud remained in the gap. I set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. The stummel is now nice and clean with the grains showing a lot of promise. The rim top surface has many dents and dings while the outer rim edge has many small divots carved, probably as a result of knocking against a hard surface to remove the dottle. The inner rim too has few dings and chipped edge. I shall resort to topping and creating a bevel over the edges to address these issues. Now that the stummel was clean, I could make out the exact extent of damage to the rim top surface and also to both inner and outer rim edges. I topped the bowl on a piece of 220 grit sand paper, checking ever so frequently the progress being made. One of the things that I prefer to avoid is topping a bowl as it compromises the shape of the bowl while also loosing briar estate. In case it is unavoidable, I prefer to keep it to the minimum. In this case, a few rotations later, I am at that point where the rim top surface damage has been addressed while the inner and outer rim edge damage has been addressed to a great extent. I need to create a slight bevel over both the edges to fully address the damage to the rim edges. To address the remaining dents and chips to the inner and outer rim edges, with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my forefinger and thumb, I created a slight bevel over both these edges. I am quite pleased with the way the rim top and the edges appear at this stage in restoration.    I subjected the stummel to a complete cycle of micromesh polish, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads, the only variation being that since 1500 and 2400 grit micromesh pads have completely worn out and due to lockdown couldn’t order on line, I wet sand using 1500 and 2000 grit sand papers. I wiped the stummel with a moist cloth after every three grit pads to remove the sanding dust left behind by the pads. This also helps in monitoring the progress being made and ensures early corrective action. 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 and the rim top surface 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 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. Simultaneously as I was carrying out repairs and polishing of the stummel, Abha was busy silently polishing the stem. She wet sanded the stem with 1500 and 2000 grit sand papers and followed it up with wet sanding using remaining micromesh grit pads 2400 to 12000. She even polished the conical aluminum tenon to a pristine smooth shining finish. Readers who have been following my write ups for some time now are aware of Abha’s penchant for not taking any pictures……and she has stayed true to this habit of hers. Sincere apologies as there are no pictures for this stage!!

To complete the restoration, 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 amazingly beautiful and is now ready for its long second innings with me. I only wish it could share with me its life story of the past years while I enjoy smoking my favorite Virginia blend in it or maybe an English blend!! P.S. This pipe was an interesting project, the most difficult part being the research on the maker and brand of this pipe. This task was made difficult due to lack of any stampings on the stummel. However, once the provenance of this pipe was established, it was a simple straight forward restoration project.

This pipe too shall be joining the few pipes in my collection that are a milestone in pipe smoker’s eternal quest for a cool and dry smoke.

A big thank you to all the readers who have thus far walked with me on this journey…

Praying for safety and well being of all readers of rebornpipes.com. Stay home, stay safe.

A Second Inning For A Meerschaum Lined Orlik Bent Brandy


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I had recently worked on a long Albatross wing bone stemmed Corn Cob which was both rustic and delicate from an estate lot of 40 pipes that I had acquired about six months ago. This was the second pipe from the lot that I had refurbished, the first being a huge Real Cherry wood pipe. Here is the link to both the write ups which will provide background information as to how I came to acquire this lot and the condition of the pipes that I had received;

https://rebornpipes.com/2020/03/08/refurbishing-a-real-cherry-foreign-pipe-from-estate-lot-of-40/

https://rebornpipes.com/2020/05/10/refurbishing-a-vintage-corn-cob-pipe-with-an-albatross-wing-bone/

The third pipe from this lot and currently on my work table is beautiful Bent Brandy with a pearly variegated stem with swirls of light browns and grays. The first two pipes that I had worked on are marked with yellow and green arrows while the third pipe that is currently on my work table is shown in the second picture marked in indigo colored arrow. The pipe feels heavy and solid in hand. It is stamped on the bottom surface towards the shank end as “ORLIK” over “MEERSCHAUM” over “LINED”. There is no shape code or COM stamp on the stummel. The acrylic stem too is devoid of any stamping.I referred to pipedia.org for information on the firm ORLIK, my interest being piqued since I remember having seen a few Orlik pipes in my inherited pipe collection (unfortunately, I have never gotten around to work on any of them as yet!!). From what I have learned, the company was started in 1899 by Louis Orlik in London, Bond Street to produce HIGH QUALITY pipes for a RELATIVELY LOW PRICE. In 1980 the company was acquired by Cadogan. Like many of London’s other pipe manufacturers they moved to a new built factory in Southend-on-Sea. As all current brands in the Cadogan group, Orlik was being produced in those factories. In the same article, at the end is an onsite link to Dating Orlik Pipes by Michael Lankton, which makes for an interesting read. I reproduce the relevant portion which points to the pipe currently on my table;

  • Virgin(Series Letter:Without letters)
  • Old Bond Street(Series Letter:A)
  • Old Bond Street Sandblast(Series Letter:AX)
  • Supreme(Series Letter:T)
  • Supreme Sandblast(Series Letter:TX)
  • Meerschaum Lined(Series Letter:M)
  • Corona(Series Letter:C)
  • Old Root(Series Letter:R)

Here is the pipedia link to the article on Orlik pipes;

https://pipedia.org/wiki/Orlik

Since the pipe currently on my table is sans the series letter M and also the stem is neither Hand cut nor molded vulcanite but variegated acrylic stem, I assume that it is a Post Cadogan era pipe that is Post 1980s.

Initial Visual Inspection
The pipe, as it appears, is shown in the pictures below. There is thick layer of cake in the chamber with equally heavy overflow of lava over the rim top surface. The stummel is dirty with a number of dents/ dings and minute fills that are visible. The stem is filthy with heavy tooth chatter and deep bite marks in the bite zone and button edges on either surface. All in all, this was a very well loved pipe that has the classic signs of poor care and rough use. The chamber has a thick even layer of hard cake. There are copious amounts of old oils, tars and grime that have overflown the rim top surface and further down the stummel surface. The thick cake and heavy lava overflow over the rim top masks the condition of the chamber walls and the rim surface. The condition of these surfaces will be determined only once the cake and lava overflow has been cleaned up. The rim top surface is highly uneven as evinced by the uneven accumulation of lava overflow, again, this is just speculation as what surprises are hidden beneath will be revealed only once the overflow has been removed.  There are signs of charring along the outer rim edge and one prominent charred portion is at 1 o’clock direction to the front of the bowl. The smells from the chamber are very strong (very strong is actually an understatement) and all pervading. This issue of old smells will have to be addressed. I shall top the rim to make it perfectly even and also address the charred outer rim edges. It has been my experience that such thick layer of cake invariably hides some kind of wall damage, either heat fissures or beginnings of a burnout. Being meerschaum lined, I just don’t want a broken/ cracked meerschaum surface. The golden walnut stained stummel with dark brown stained grains makes for an alluring visual display. The surface is fraught with numerous minor dents, dings and is covered in dust, dirt and grime of the overflowed lava. A charred spot is seen to the front of the bowl in 1 o’clock direction (encircled in red). The shank end has patches all around, akin to water marks and my guess, looking at the condition of the chamber and stummel, is that the oils and tars from the mortise had leaked from the tenon- mortise junction and dried over the surface. The heavily clogged mortise is an indication of the oils and tars having nowhere to go but escape from the stem shank junction. I intend to sand the stummel surface to remove as much of the dents and dings as is possible while making the stummel surface smooth. I need to be careful while sanding the shank end to remove the patches so as not to shoulder the shank end. Major dents and fills that are revealed, if any, will be filled with clear superglue as briar dust and glue would leave ugly dark spots. The pearly variegated stem with swirls of light browns and grays is filthy to say the least. The stem surface is covered in grime and dirt with heavy tooth indentations over the button edges on either surface. The bite zone is peppered with deep tooth chatter. The tenon end, horizontal slot and the air way is covered and clogged with gunk. Air way over the surface appears darkened and flow through the stem is laborious and heavy. The stem surface and internal first needs to be cleaned. The tooth chatter will be sanded out with 220 grit sandpaper and if need be, will be filled with glue. The button edges on either surface needs re-building using clear CA superglue. The Process
I began the process of refurbishing this pipe first by working on the stem. I cleaned the external surface of the stem with a Scotch Brite gauze and liquid dish washing soap. Once the external surfaces were clean, I cleaned the stem internals with a small shank brush and liquid dish soap. I have realized that using small shank brush and liquid soap reduces consumption of pipe cleaners by about 75%. This is considerable savings considering that I pay thrice the cost of pipe cleaners on cost of shipping!! Next, I ran a couple of dry pipe cleaners through the stem to clean and dry it out. I avoid using isopropyl alcohol in cleaning stem air way just to guard it against crazing (call it my paranoia to use alcohol on an acrylic or Perspex stem!!). The tenon end, slot and the air way is now clean. I sand the bite zone with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to address the tooth chatter. Though the tooth chatter has been addressed to a great extent, the button edges are yet to be addressed. I wiped the stem with a moist cloth to remove the sanding dust. Thereafter, I applied clear CA superglue over the button edges and filled the deep tooth indentations and the minor tooth chatter in the bite zone. I set the stem aside for the fill to cure.I reamed the chamber with a Castleford reamer tool, using the smallest (size one) head of the tool. Reaming a meerschaum lined bowl is fraught with challenges, most notably being exerting of excess pressure with the reamer heads on the thin meerschaum wall lining causing the lining to break in chunks. I was very gentle and careful while using the reamer head. Thereafter I moved on to using my fabricated knife to further take the cake down to the meerschaum lining. Truth be told, the use of the knife was restricted only to scraping the surface in an attempt to dislodge the cake. With a 150 grit sand paper, the walls of the chamber were rid of all the remnants of the cake and it was at this stage that the first large chunk of meerschaum lining came loose. Subsequently a few smaller bits loosened out and came apart from the meerschaum lining. The area of damaged meerschaum lining can be seen in the enclosed red area. It seemed that the thick layer of cake was holding the meerschaum lining together. The rim top is not even and the lava overflow has hardened considerably over the surface to form a mound all along the rim top surface. To get a better understanding of the condition of the meerschaum lining, I wiped the walls of the chamber with isopropyl alcohol on a cotton swab. Now the extent of repairs required is amply evident. The entire lower meerschaum lining on the left half of the chamber has broken down in a jagged manner and the same is marked with yellow arrows. The fourth picture gives out a very clear idea of the break in the lining and the thickness of the lining that needs to be repaired. Also the hardened lava overflow over the rim top is clearly discernible. This issue needs to be addressed first. With my fabricated sharp edged knife, I gently scrapped and dislodged the complete mound of overflowed lava from all around the rim top surface. After the lava overflow has been removed, the damage to the rim top is now clearly visible. The meerschaum lining is uneven and has been completely blackened due to absorbing all the oils and tars from such heavy usage.I topped the rim on a piece of 220 grit sand paper, frequently (every couple of turns) checking for the progress being made and was careful with topping as I had no desire to break the meerschaum lining from the rim top area. Though the rim top, after topping was smooth and even, the distinct white meerschaum lining edge is still a dirty dark color and is, in fact, darker than the rest of the briar surface. A closer look inside the chamber revealed a highly uneven and heavily gouged looking chamber walls. The ghost smells are still very strong and not even reduced with all the cleaning and removal of the cake. Since the meerschaum lining along the chamber walls are broken and gouged out, salt and alcohol treatment to get rid of the smell is NOT RECOMMENDED. I need to figure a way out. This is how the rim top and the chamber walls appear at this stage. I was so caught up with the condition of the chamber, I completely forgot to clean the mortise and shank air way. Maybe with this cleaning the ghost smells may greatly reduce and or miraculously disappear altogether. I cleaned the mortise and the airway using regular/ bristled pipe cleaners and q-tips dipped in 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. I also scraped out the entire gunk from the shank with my fabricated knife. While I was cleaning the air way, two more chunks of the meerschaum linings came loose from around the draught hole. As expected, the mortise was filthy and clogged with oils, tars and gunk and the number of pipe cleaners and q-tips that were used to get the mortise and shank cleaned up is an indication enough. I applied “Briar Cleaner”, a product that has been developed by my friend Mark Hoover, to the external surface of the bowl. It works similar to Murphy’s oil soap and needs to be applied to the stummel surface and set aside for 5- 10 minutes. The product pulls out all the dirt and grime to the surface making further cleaning easy. I am quite happy with this product. I used a hard bristled tooth brush to scrub the stummel with the gel like product, wiped it clean with a moist cloth and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I deliberately cleaned the rim and the shank end by inverting the stummel and rotating it on a piece of Scotch Brite. I set the stummel aside to dry out naturally.    With the external cleaning, the stummel looks clean with the beautiful Bird’s eye grains at the foot now clearly visible. This scrubbing and cleaning also removed the thin layer of lacquer in patches on the stummel (layer of lacquer had missed my notice before). A few minor dot-like fills were also now visible. I first need to remove the entire lacquer coat from the stummel to further revel any other imperfections in the briar surface of the stummel.To remove the coat of lacquer from the stummel, I wiped the entire surface with pure Acetone on a cotton swab. I was relieved that the lacquer coat did not hide any more flaws in the briar than what was noted after the external cleaning. I must admit that the tiny spots of fills are something which needs no refilling and should be further reduced once the stummel has been sanded and polished. With the external cleaning of the stummel surface complete, I turned my attention to the most challenging part of this restoration, the repairs to the meerschaum lining along the walls of the chamber! I have never attempted this repair though I had earlier read about the process of repairing meerschaum lining on rebornpipes.com using egg whites and finely powdered chalk. However, attempting it for the first time is always a challenging prospect.

I had been gifted a Meerschaum lined gargantuan Kilimanjaro Made in Tanganyika bent billiard by my good friend Dal Stanton, aka The Pipe Steward that had several complications, the most significant being repairing meerschaum lining. Dal has the gift of penning down thoughts and actions in to words on paper and his essays are very detailed and descriptive. I went through his write up, understood the process, followed the useful links in his blog and formulated my own strategy to execute the repairs on the meerschaum lining on the pipe in front of me. Here is the link to the write up that Dal has posted on rebornpipes.com.

https://rebornpipes.com/2019/07/12/a-meer-lining-and-crack-repair-to-rescue-a-doomed-gargantuan-kilimanjaro-made-in-tanganyika-bent-billiard/

In his write up, Dal had referenced another article on rebornpipes.com which he had followed in his restoration of the Kilimanjaro pipe. I read through the article which was indeed a very useful step by step guide to build up the repairs to the meer lining using the mixture. Here is the link to the write up.

https://baccypipes.wordpress.com/2017/06/10/old-time-meer-lining-repair-method-on-a-1930s-kaywoodie-shellcraft-5651/

With my ideas crystallized as regards tackling this repairs, I first made a chalk powder using a mortar and pestle. I strained this powder through a very fine mesh sieve and obtained sufficient quantities of very fine chalk powder. I separated egg white from one egg. Next, I made a thin mix of egg white and chalk powder and with a flat bamboo frond; inserted a folded pipe cleaner to keep the draught hole open and applied a layer all along the walls of the chamber and over the meerschaum lining. No sooner had I applied the mixture, it ran down the sides and accumulated at the heel of the stummel forming a dark dirty yellow puddle. Apparently the mix was too thin. I cleaned this puddle using absorbent kitchen napkins. The unexpected benefit of this failed first layer was that the old oils and tars were pulled out from the walls of the chamber by this mixture. I wiped the chamber with a cotton swab and isopropyl alcohol. Once the chamber walls had dried out, I made a slightly more thick mix of the old timers mix and applied a layer. I kept the stummel left side down as I wanted the mix to fill and harden over the damaged meer lining over the left side. I kept the stummel aside to dry out naturally. While the meerschaum repairs were set aside to cure, I worked the stem. The stem fills had cured nicely. Using a flat head needle file, I sand the fills to achieve a rough match with the rest of the stem surface and also reshaped the buttons on both the surfaces. I further fine tuned the match with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper.Staying with the stem restoration, I polished the stem surface 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 rim top surface looks nice with a deep shine. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil to the stem, though it does not help much, and set it aside. Though I am not a big fan of acrylic stems, I am happy with the way the stem appears at this stage.  The layer of egg white and chalk powder mix had hardened considerably after an overnight curing time. I made a slightly thicker mix and applied another layer and set it aside to cure. I continued to apply a gradually thicker layer of the mix till I was satisfied that the broken meer lining was completely covered. I set the stummel aside for the mix to harden. The mix appears to be too thick, but the same can be sanded down subsequently to the desired thickness.  Once the mix had completely cured, I topped the rim top to even out the excess of the mix from the rim. I expected to find a perfect white ring of the mixture within the briar rim surface. However, that was not to be!! Though not perfect ring, it’s a lot better than before. One maxim that I follow during restoration is “LESS IS MORE” and thus, I did not further repeat the process of adding a layer of the mix and topping it again once the mix had cured. It’s not perfect but it is definitely functional. I followed the topping by sanding the walls with a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper. If observed closely, the left side lining is thicker than the rest of the chamber giving the chamber an out of round appearance. I need to sand the left side layer more to achieve the desired symmetry.   I further sand the chamber walls with a 220 grit sand paper to even out the thickness of the left side wall and also reduce the thickness from the bottom half of the chamber. Again the uneven appearance of the white mixture was an eye sore but I resisted the temptation of rebuilding it all over again. But that’s for now…..never know maybe a couple of months down the line, as I look at it again, maybe I would attempt the rebuild! However, for now the chamber is nice round and the repairs appear solid and the pipe is definitely ready for a smoke. The ghost smells are also completely eliminated and the chamber is now odorless. I am quite happy with the progress till now. With the meerschaum lining repairs sorted out for now, I turned my attention to the external surface of the stummel. I sand the entire stummel with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. This served four purposes; firstly the coating of lacquer was completely rid off, secondly, the minor dents and dings and fills were evened out to a great extent and thirdly the water marks at the shank end were completely eliminated. The fourth issue that was addressed was the charred spot on the rim outer edge in 1 o’clock direction. The stummel is now ready for a nice polish.   Now it was time to polish and impart a nice shine to the stummel. I wet sand the stummel with a 1500 and 2000 grit sand paper followed by wet sanding with 2400 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. Even though the tiny fills are clearly seen in the following pictures, in person, they merely appear as tiny dots and not easily discernible. I really liked that the mixed grains on the sides and Bird’s eye grain on the foot are now visibly resplendent in all their glory. I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the stummel to enliven and protect it. I rubbed this balm deep in to the briar of the stummel and smooth rim top with my fingers and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the stummel now has a nice vibrant appearance. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush.  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 to the stummel and stem and continued to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and gave the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine further. The finished pipe is shown below. The pearly variegated stem with swirls of light browns and grays contrasts beautifully with the dark brown hues of the stummel and is very appealing to the eye. The repairs and transformation of this pipe to its present functionality and beauty was indeed worth the efforts that were put in. P.S. This pipe, when it came to my work table, presented a daunting task to restore. It was surely greatly loved by someone in the past as was evident from the thick cake, overflowing lava over the rim top and the stem damage, but I say in the same breath that it was also the most abused pipe. The broken meerschaum lining added to my agony while presenting me with an opportunity to put in to practice what I had read and learned about meerschaum repairs on Reborn Pipes.

A big THANK YOU to my good friend, Dal Stanton aka The Pipe Steward for the detailed and graphic description of the technique to repair Meerschaum and also to my Guru, Steve, for creating and regularly updating rebornpipes.com, a one stop site for everything that one wants to know and learn about pipe restoration!!

Appreciate all the efforts of readers who have had the patience to read this write up thus far!

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

 

Restoring a Kriswill “Golden Clipper” Freehand Chimney


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

The next pipe selected for refurbishing is a uniquely shaped Danish pipe. I say unique because it has a tall chamber, rounded shank with a rim cap, a slight bent to the stem and is a sitter! It’s a shape that I had never come across and was unable to classify its shape. I shared pictures of the pipe with my Guru, Steve and he opined that it could be called a Rhodesian, stack, sitter or Bulldog as it has characteristics of all these shapes but looks like neither. Thus, we concurred that it’s most appropriate to call this pipe a freehand!!!! The bowl shape reminds me of the chimney of early steam locomotive engines with their bellowing huge plumes of smoke as they rush forward.This pipe has shallow sandblast and a natural finish (I guess) that has darkened over a period of time. For a pipe with a length of 5 ½ inches and bowl height of 2 inches and chamber depth of 1 ¾ inches, it’s pretty much ultra light weight, making it a perfect smoker to clench. The vulcanite saddle stem is thin and delicate. The shallow sandblast form the asymmetric patterns look interesting. The foot of the stummel is flat and elongated, making it a perfect sitter. A smooth briar band at the shank end breaks the monotony of the blasted surface and also provides a surface for stamping the model number. The pipe is stamped on the bottom smooth surface of the shank as “Kriswill” in script hand over “GOLDEN CLIPPER”. Further to the right towards the shank end on the smooth briar band is stamped the shape (?) code “1894”. Truth be told, the shape code stamping of the numeral 8 appears smudged. Having worked earlier on Kriswill pipes, I realized that the stamp “HAND MADE IN DENMARK” is conspicuous by its absence. The thin delicate vulcanite saddle stem is devoid of any stampings.A couple of years back I had worked on a Kriswill Golden Clipper and on a Chief. Here is the link for the Kriswill Chief write up…

https://rebornpipes.com/2018/08/04/breathing-new-life-into-a-kriswill-chief-20/. I am sure you will find it an interesting read.

I had researched the brand at that time and all that was now needed was to refresh the memory. I went through the above write up and also through the material that was available on pipedia.org and pipephil.eu. There are two facts which I wish to highlight, firstly, Prior to 1970 the stampings are in script letters on the shank and on the mouthpiece. The star on the stem and block letters on the shank were introduced from that date on”

Second, is deciphering the four digit model coding system adopted by Kriswill. The last two numerals are the model numbers for smooth finish and all sandblasted have numeral 18 preceding the model number. Thus the pipe currently on my table is a model #94 and since it is a sandblast variant, the number is 1894.

Thus from the above, the pipe that I am now working on dates to pre 1970s since the stamping is in script and the stem is sans the star.

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

Initial Visual Inspection
The chamber is so filled with cake that I am unable to reach the bottom of the bowl with my little finger. The build-up of the cake is heavier on the bottom half of the bowl, but overall well maintained. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be commented upon after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. The rim top is thin and has the same shallow sandblast surface as the rest of the stummel, has darkened and is covered with dust, lava and grime. I don’t think that there is any charring to either of the rim edges and they appear to be in pristine condition. The chamber odors are not very strong and should be completely eliminated once the cake has been removed and the shank has been thoroughly cleaned.The stummel surface appears dull and lackluster due to the accumulated dirt, dust and grime of years of usage and subsequent uncared for storage. There are no fills or chips or nicks over the stummel surface. There are no other stummel issues that I have to deal with on this pipe. The mortise is relatively clean with small amount of oils and tars accumulated on the walls of the mortise. This should be an easy clean up job. The delicate vulcanite saddle stem is heavily oxidized. The lip has some minor bite marks on both surfaces and will need to be rebuilt and reshaped. There is some calcification seen around the lip on both the surfaces. The airway in the stem is blocked and the draw is restricted. I will need to clean it to ensure a full and open draw. The tenon and the horizontal slot show accumulation of dried oils, tars and gunk on the inside as well as on the outside, this will have to be cleaned. The Process
The process of refurbishing this pipe started with the cleaning of the stem. Abha, my wife, cleaned the stem air way with regular and bristled pipe cleaners dipped in 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. She further cleaned the stem internals with thin shank brushes and dish soap to remove the stubborn and thick gunk from within the airway. The heap of pipe cleaners and their appearance tells a sordid story. With a sharp fabricated knife, she scraped off all the dried tars and gunk from the tenon end.The stem surface was sanded down with a worn out piece of 180 grit sand paper. I have realized that following this step prior to immersion into the “Before and After Stem Deoxidizer” solution has two advantages, firstly, the stem surface oxidation gets loosened and the solution works deeper and more efficiently in pulling the deep seated oxidation from the stem surface. Secondly, the minor tooth chatter and calcium depositions are taken care of prior to the immersion. I immersed it in “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution along with the stem of other pipes in line for restoration. This solution has been developed by Mark Hoover and works to draw out all the deep seated oxidation from the surface making its subsequent cleaning and polishing a breeze. I would definitely recommend this product as it saves on to time and efforts. The pipe has been marked with a red arrow for easy identification.Abha, my wife, dealt with the cake by reaming the chamber with a Castleford pipe tool using size 1 followed by size 2 head of the reamer. Using the fabricated knife, she further scraped the cake from the bottom of the bowl and also the walls of the chamber. She was especially very careful while reaming with the knife so as not to damage the inner edge of the rim. Once the solid briar was exposed, she further smoothed the walls and removed remaining cake by sanding with a 180 followed by 220 grit sand paper. Another advantage of this process is the elimination of traces of ghosting to a great extent. She wiped the chamber with a cotton swab wetted with 99.9% isopropyl alcohol. The chamber walls are pristine and solid with no heat fissures or pits. Simultaneously I cleaned out the internals of the shank/ mortise and airway using q- tips, pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. I scraped the walls of the mortise with my fabricated knife till the accumulated gunk was removed. Further cleaning of the shank internals will ensue during the external cleaning of the stummel.Thereafter, I generously rubbed “Briar Cleaner”, a product that has been developed by my friend Mark Hoover, into the external surface of the bowl and the rim top surface. It works similar to Murphy’s oil soap and needs to be applied to the stummel surface and set aside for 5- 10 minutes. The product pulls out all the dirt and grime to the surface making further cleaning easy. I am quite happy with this product. I used a hard bristled tooth brush to scrub the stummel and rim top with the solution. After the scrub with Briar cleaner solution, I washed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till clean and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush. The stummel surface has cleaned up nicely with the intricate sandblast patterns on full display. The stummel now looks and smells fresh and the old smells are all gone. I set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. The next morning, Abha removed the stems that had been soaking in the deoxidizer solution overnight. She cleaned the stem and the stem airway under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using a Scotch Brite pad and the airway with thin shank brush. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stem.I further sanded the stem surface with a folded piece of 220 and 320 grit sand papers to further remove the traces of oxidation and reduce the sanding marks and followed it with wet sanding the entire stem with 1500 to 12000 grade micromesh pads (1500 to 2400 grit micromesh pads have completely worn out and unable to order a set due to lock down and so had used 1500 and 2000 grit wet or dry sand paper). I wiped the stem with a moist cloth to remove the dust and monitored the progress being made after every three grit pads. The stem polished up nicely and had a rich deep black shine to it. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil to rehydrate the vulcanite and set the stem aside.Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips, working it deep in to the sandblasts and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful sandblast patterns displayed in their complete splendor. The contrast of the light brown of the raised sandblast portion with the dark brown 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. On to the home stretch!! I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and applied several coats of carnauba wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further and remove any residual wax from in between the sandblasts. The finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and is now ready for its long second innings with me. P.S. I am not really pleased with the restoration projects that I can choose due to paucity of equipment and materials that are required. Today I realized that I have run out of the medium superglue I use and that the spare one has mysteriously hardened within the tube. With my country under lock down to arrest the spread of the COVID- 19 virus, no delivery can take place. So I am being forced to improvise and that I shall continue to do!!

The next project that I have earmarked is interesting in that it is the very first time that I shall be undertaking repairs of this nature. Be sure to read that write up and help me improve my skill sets.

I wish to thank each one for sparing their valuable time to read through this write up and praying for the health and safety of entire mankind. Stay home…stay safe!!

Back To Working On My Inheritance; A Stanwell # 62 Freehand


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Being on leave that has been compulsorily extended by 40 days due to the virus pandemic being rampant and the country under a lock down was a blessing in disguise. I have enough time to spend with my daughters, catch up on some reading and most importantly, get working on some pipes!! The only downside to the last activity was that I have left behind at my place of work, most of my tools and paraphernalia that I use for restoring pipes. This greatly restricts the types of repairs that I can undertake at the moment. With these limitations, I rummaged through the pile and chose this inherited Stanwell as my next project on the premise that it would be a simple ‘refurbishing only’ task.

This large sandblasted freehand pipe with plateau rim top is stamped on the smooth underside of the shank from the foot towards the shank end as “HAND MADE” over “MADE IN DENMARK” in block capital letters followed by “STANWELL” in an inverted arch. Towards the shank end is the shape code/ model number “62”. The silver “Crowned S” adorns the left side of the vulcanite stem. The stampings on the stummel have worn off in the first half from the foot towards the shank end and can be seen in bright light and under magnification.There is adequately detailed and informative material available on both pipedia.org and pipephil.eu on the brand; however, I was keener to know the exact dating and correlate the pipe details with the shape code. Basil Stevens is considered an authority on all things Stanwell and on surfing the net, I came across this site which gives out pointers to dating a Stanwell pipe; here is the link https://www.scribd.com/document/45022903/Stanwell-Dating-Pricing-Information-by-Basil-D-Stevens.

I reproduce the relevant pointers which help in dating the Stanwell on my work table:-

Dating Information:

  1. Block letter stamp “Silver S” used until late 1960s and then changed to script.
  2. Up until the early 1960s only the top pipes, e.g. “Hand Cut” had the stem/mouth pieces stamped with the Stanwell logo of a crown over “S”.

The last bit of curiosity in my mind was to link the model number on my Stanwell to the description of the shape and designer, if possible. Again pipedia.org has a section on “Stanwell Shape Numbers and Designers” and sure enough, 62 finds a mention, here is the link

(https://pipedia.org/wiki/Stanwell_Shape_Numbers_and_Designers).

I quote and reproduce the relevant information:-

  • Two versions of this shape number
  1. a) Liverpool, medium size.
  2. b) Freehand, Plateau top, saddle mouthpiece, by Sixten Ivarsson.

Thus from the above, it is amply evident that the pipe now on my work table is a Freehand pipe from the late 1960s designed by Sixten Ivarsson!!

Now on to restoring this Stanwell Freehand pipe with a delicate vulcanite saddle stem……..

Initial Visual Inspection
This medium sized sandblasted freehand pipe has a good heft and nicely fills the hand. Like most of the pipes from my inheritance; this too has a thick layer of cake in the chamber with overflow of lava on the plateau rim top. The cake is dry and hard. The inner rim edge appears sans any damage and this would only 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 in the course of restoration. The ghost smells are very strong in the chamber. As is commonly seen on sandblasted pipes with some age on them, the crevices 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 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 looks lifeless and bone dry and has taken on black dull hues. The mortise is full of oils, tars and gunk and the air flow is restricted. Through all the dirt, dust and grime, beautiful sandblast patterns can be seen and appreciated. The delicate vulcanite saddle stem is beautifully contoured to match the flow of the pipe with a smooth surface at the bottom of the saddle contiguous with that of the shank. The stem is heavily oxidized with a couple of deep tooth indentations on both the upper and lower stem surface in the bite zone. The lip edge on either surface has bite marks. These repairs should be easy. The tenon and horizontal slot is covered in dried oils, tars and gunk. The stem air way too appears to be clogged as the air flow through the stem is laborious to say the least. The stem logo of the letter ‘S’ with a crown on top is crisp and deep.The Process
The process of refurbishing this pipe started with the cleaning of the stem. Abha, my wife, cleaned the stem air way with regular and bristled pipe cleaners dipped in 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. She further cleaned the stem internals with thin shank brushes and dish soap to remove the stubborn and thick gunk from within the airway. The heap of pipe cleaners and their appearance tells a sordid story. With my sharp fabricated knife, she scraped off all the dried tars and gunk from the tenon end.Once the stem internals had been cleaned, I gently sand the stem surface with a used piece of 220 grit sand paper and immersed it in “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution along with the stem of other pipes in line for restoration. This solution has been developed by Mark Hoover and works to draw out all the deep seated oxidation from the surface making it’s subsequent cleaning and polishing a breeze. I would definitely recommend this product as it saves on to time and efforts. It has been our experience that before immersing the stem in to the stem deoxidizer, light sanding of the stem with a folded piece of 220 grits sand paper loosens the oxidation a bit and helps get fantastic end results. The pipe has been marked with a green arrow for easy identification.Simultaneously, while Abha was working on the stem, I reamed the bowl with a Castleford pipe reamer using the first three head sizes. Using my fabricated knife, I cleaned the cake from areas which could not be reached by the reamer heads. I used a 220 grit sand paper, pinched between my thumb and forefinger, to sand the inner walls of the chamber. Once I had reached the bare walls, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This removed all the residual carbon dust and also allowed a clear inspection of the walls. The walls of the chamber are nice and solid with no signs of heat fissures or cracks. The inner rim edge shows no charring or chipping. The ghost smells are still strong and all pervading. Hopefully these smells will be exorcised once the shank and mortise are thoroughly cleaned! I cleaned the mortise and shank walls using q-tips, shank brush, regular and hard bristled pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I scraped the walls with a dental tool and removed the entire accumulated gunk. I shall further clean it with a shank brush and liquid dish soap once I clean the stummel surface. The strong smells still persist though the mortise is nice and clean as can be seen in pictures.With the bowl internals clean, I move to clean the exterior of the stummel. I generously applied “Briar Cleaner”, a product that has been developed by my friend Mark Hoover, to the external surface of the bowl and the plateau rim top surface. It works similar to Murphy’s oil soap and needs to be applied to the stummel surface and set aside for 5- 10 minutes. The product pulls out all the dirt and grime to the surface making further cleaning easy. I am quite happy with this product. I used a hard bristled tooth brush to scrub the stummel and rim top with the solution. After the scrub with Briar cleaner solution, I washed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till clean and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I deliberately cleaned the plateau rim top with Scotch Brite pad and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush. The stummel surface has cleaned up nicely with the intricate sandblast patterns on full display. The ghost smells in the chamber were still quite strong and hence I decided to address this issue. 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 a cotton ball 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 into the mortise and through the draught hole into the chamber. Thereafter, I pack the chamber with cotton balls to about quarter of an inch below the rim’s inner edge. I soak the cotton balls with isopropyl alcohol up to the brim. About half an hour later, the level of alcohol goes down, having been absorbed by the cotton. I top it up once again and set it aside overnight. By next morning, the cotton and alcohol has drawn out all the remaining oils and tars from the chamber and mortise, fulfilling its intended task. I removed the cotton ball 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.The next morning, Abha removed the stems that had been soaking in the deoxidizer solution overnight. She cleaned the stem and the stem airway under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using a Scotch Brite pad and the airway with thin shank brush. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stem.The deep tooth indentations are now clearly visible. Since I did not have a lighter to heat and raise these indentations to the surface (my preference to use it for this purpose), I used a lit match stick instead. I have experimented with a lit candle also and the results of both these alternatives are equally good; however, one has to be doubly careful as the heat from a candle flame is more intense as compared to a match stick or a lighter. These tooth indentations were raised to the surface to some extent due to the heating; however, it would require a fill to complete the repairs.I prepared a mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal and carefully applied it over the damaged bite zone on both surfaces and lip and set it aside for curing overnight. I had applied this mix in sufficient thickness which would help during the filing and sanding to match the fills with the stem surface.While the stem was set aside for the fills to cure, I decided to polish the raised portions of the plateau rim top surface. The polished lightened and shining raised portion should be a nice contrast to the surrounding rim surface. I dry sand the raised portions with 1500 and 2000 grit sand papers (1500 to 2400 grit pads have worn out) followed by dry polishing with 3200 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. I like the appearance of the rim top at this stage. Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my fingertips, working it deep in to the sandblasts and let it rest for a few minutes. I generously rubbed the balm in to the plateau rim top surface. The balm almost immediately works it’s magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful sandblast patterns displayed in their complete splendor. The contrast of the dark browns of the raised sandblast with the dark black of the rest of the stummel added an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel. The most interesting aspect was the appearance of the plateau rim top which may be insufficiently described in words and be rather seen in person. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. I set the stummel aside and worked on the stem. The stem fills had cured nicely and using a flat head needle file, I sanded the fill to achieve a rough match with the surrounding stem surface. I further sanded the stem surface with a folded piece of 220 and 320 grit sand papers to further blend in the repairs and followed it with wet sanding the entire stem with 1500 to 12000 grade micromesh pads. I wiped the stem with a moist cloth to remove the dust and monitored the progress being made after every three grit pads. The stem polished up nicely and had a rich deep black shine to it. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil to rehydrate the vulcanite and set the stem aside. I refreshed the stem stamping with a white correction pen. The end result shows a perfectly refreshed stem logo.To complete the restoration, I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and applied several coats of carnauba wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further and remove any residual wax from in between the sandblasts. The finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and is now ready for its long second innings with me. I only wish it could share with me it’s life story of the past years while I enjoy smoking my favorite Virginia blend in it or maybe an English blend or maybe just keep admiring it!! P.S. This and the subsequent restoration that I have lined up are all simple and straight forward projects, however, I would assure the readers that each one is unique and each project is interesting.

In these troubled times when at one point in time the world wide call was for mankind to come closer, it is now necessary to maintain and observe social distancing. I wish that we maintain physical distance to prevent the spread of the virus but let’s bond together mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

I wish to thank each one for sparing their valuable time to read through this write up and praying for the health and safety of entire mankind. Stay home…stay safe!!