Tag Archives: Paresh Deshpande article

An Easy Refurbishing of a Charatan’s Make “Belvedere” # 2655 From Mumbai Bonanza Lot


Blog by Paresh

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

I had recently completed the refurbishing of a Peterson’s System 3 # 367 that had the “Made in England” COM stamp from my Mumbai Bonanza. Here is the link to this 19th pipe from this lot.

https://rebornpipes.com/2020/08/26/restoring-a-made-in-england-petersons-system-3-367-from-mumbai-bonanza-lot/

The 20th pipe that I decided to work on from this find is a thick walled CHARATAN’S MAKE “BELVEDERE” # 2655X Pot shaped pipe and is indicated by a gold cross.This pipe is stamped on the left of the shank towards the shank end as “CHARATAN’S MAKE” over “LONDON ENGLAND” over “BELVEDERE”, all in block capital letters. The right side of the shank surface bears the shape number “2655 X”. The high quality vulcanite saddle stem bears the trademark logo “CP” with the lower part of the C penetrating the P. All the stampings are crisp and easily readable save for the stem logo which is faint and the worn out.   In my earlier restoration of my inherited CHARATAN’S pipes, I had extensively researched the dating of these old pipes and I can say with certainty that this pipe is from the period post 1960s. However, to document and establish credibility to my understanding and also to refresh my memory of the brand, I visited pipedia.org. Here is the link for the readers interested in history of Charatan’s and also in viewing a 1951 catalog;

https://pipedia.org/wiki/Charatan

“In 1863 Frederick Charatan, a Russian / Jewish immigrant, opened a shop in Mansell Street, located in the borough of Tower Hamlets, London E1, where he began to carve Meerschaum pipes.

Charatan was the first brand to make entirely hand-made briars from the rough block to the finished pipe including the stems. The nomenclature “Charatan’s make” refers to this method of production and was meant to differ Charatan from other brands who “assembled” pipes from pre-drilled bowls and delivered mouthpieces.

Charatan used 4 basic grades prior to 1950: Supreme, Selected, Executive, and Belvedere. After 1950 Herman Lane’s influence began, and the grades started to expand. In 1955 Lane took over sole distributorship of Charatan in the US. In 1957 he introduced the Supreme S. Most of his other introductions were from the 60’s and early 70’s…

Here is another link from the same page which takes the readers to an absolutely well researched page on Dating of Charatan’s;

https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dating_of_Charatans

I have reproduced the relevant portions which had helped me in dating this pipe.

The first step on dating a Charatan is to carefully look to some details:

a) Shape of the mouthpiece

b) Marking on the mouthpiece

c) Engraving on the shank

d) Shape and position of shank engraving/writing

This is because you can make the following conclusions:

a) From 1863 to 1960 the mouthpieces have a normal shape, saddle or tapered. From 1961 they use the ‘Double Comfort’ style still used today. By the way there are some saddle bits (without the double comfort) used in pipes that date after 1960 but these models are always characterized by an X (in the place of the DC) engraved after the shape number on the shank. This means that if a pipe has a tapered mouthpiece instead of a double comfort one, it is definitely a pre-Lane pipe before 1960. While if a pipe has a normal saddle bit stem, it could belong to every era. Nevertheless the pipe is pre 1961 if the shape code does not include an X, and is a pipe from after 1960 if the X is engraved.
Finally any pipe with the double comfort stem is definitely after 1960.

b) The CP logo on the stem is stamped in a different shape according the era it was used. Some differences are less obvious than others, however the glaring differences are detectable in 4 phases. The CP till the 1960 is very fine, the C penetrates the P.

Identification of a third era pipe (First Lane era, 1961-1965)

Pipes of this period are quite common.

1) The mouthpiece is frequently double comfort, rarely saddle without the double comfort, never tapered. If the stem is not a double comfort but a saddle one, it is characterized by the letter X on the right of the shape code (e.g. 2502X), naturally in this case the letters DC are not displayed.

2) In the CP logo, the C enters the P

3) Presence of £ on the shank (note that from 1955 all the pipe imported in the USA by Lane has it, however that stamping is not synonymous of the Lane era)

4)Presence of the letter DC just after the shape number (e.g. 2502 DC) or of the letter X only if the stem is not a double comfort one

5) Presence in some models of the stamp “MADE BY HAND” on the shank (introduced for the first time in 1958)

6) Presence of the writing “CHARATAN’S MAKE LONDON ENGLAND” on 2 lines

7) The CP logo is thicker then in previous eras

Identification of a fourth era pipe (Second Lane era, 1965-76)

Pipes belonging to this period are quite common. Their characteristics are close to the one of the previous era, the distinctive element is that the writing on the shank changes from 2 to 3 lines.

I visited Reborn Pipes for more information and there is a very informative article that Steve had re-blogged on Charatan’s Models & Shape Information for the Collector. Here is the link for this article;

https://rebornpipes.com/2018/08/22/charatan-models-shape-information-for-the-collector/

I earnestly urge all the readers to go through this article on rebornpipes.

Thus I can conclusively say that the Charatan’s Make “BELVEDERE” pipe on my work table is from the First Lane Era and dates from the period 1961- 1965.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The Charatan’s pipe that is currently on my work table has a classic Pot shape with thick walls. It has a chamber depth of about 1 inch, bowl height of about 1.4 inches, chamber inner diameter of 1 inch and overall pipe length of approximately 5.5 inches. The stummel has rich dark and medium contrasting reddish brown stains and is covered in dirt and grime through which beautiful straight grains can be seen around the sides, front, back and over the shank surface while Bird’s eye adorns the rim top and the foot of the stummel. There is a thin layer of cake in the chamber with lava overflow over the rim top surface. The inner rim edge has few dents and dings and a suspected char in 8 o’clock direction. The chamber appears out of round due to the inner rim edge damage. The vulcanite saddle stem is heavily oxidized with no damage to the bite zone on either surface. The buttons on both surfaces are in pristine condition. The following pictures will give the Readers an idea of the overall condition of the pipe as it sits on my work table. Overall, the thin layer of cake and excellent condition of the stem are pointers to the fact that the pipe seems to be well looked after. It should be an easy restoration project, unless some gremlins pop up during the process. DETAILED VISUAL INSPECTION
A thin and even layer of cake is seen in the chamber. The rim top surface is covered in overflow of lava, dirt, dust and grime. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber and rim top surface will be known once the cake has been taken down to bare briar and the rim top crud has been scraped off completely. The inner rim is uneven with a couple of dents (indicated with green arrows) and a suspected burn/ charred surface in 8 ‘O’ clock (marked in yellow circle). The bowl appears out of round. Only once the stummel has been thoroughly cleaned that I can be sure of my initial appreciation. The outer rim edge is in sans any damage. In spite of the thin cake, the chamber odor is strong and should be addressed to some extent once the cake has been taken down to the bare briar and the shank internals have been thoroughly cleaned. The stummel feels solid to the touch and I do not foresee any major issues with the condition of the chamber walls. The pristine condition of the rim top means that no topping is necessary. A thin delicate bevel to the inner edge should be sufficient to address the damage and get the bowl in perfect round. To be honest with you, this being a Belvedere pipe and the lowest grade in the Charatan’s line up, I had expected to find a few fills and some non-descript grain on the stummel briar. However, I was surprised to note that there is not a single fill in the stummel surface and the surface boasts of some beautiful straight grains around the sides, front, back and over the shank surface while loosely packed Bird’s eye adorns the foot of the stummel. The stummel surface is covered in dirt and grime giving the stummel a dull and dirty appearance. The stummel surface shows a few dents and dings. It does have a quality which is seen on vintage pipes, but difficult to explain in words. And not to forget, this is nearly 50 plus year old pipe!! The mortise shows accumulation of old oils and tars which would need to be cleaned. The dents and dings to the stummel surface is one issue that I am not sure about dealing with since I absolutely love the old dark reddish brown color and the patina that has developed over time that needs to be preserved. A nice polish with micromesh grit pads will bring a nice shine to the stummel and highlight the grain. The vulcanite saddle stem is heavily oxidized, but otherwise in a decent condition. The bite zone on either surface shows some minor tooth indentations with a small amount of calcification at the base of the button edge. The horizontal slot and tenon opening shows accumulation of dried oils and tars. All in all, the stem presents no major damage and should be an easy clean up.THE PROCESS
I started the restoration with cleaning of the stummel as I was keen to know the condition of the walls of the chamber. With my sharp fabricated knife, I removed the cake from the chamber and thereafter, using a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper, I sand out the last traces of cake and expose the walls of the chamber. I wiped the chamber with a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol to remove the carbon dust left behind by all the reaming and sanding process. Once the chamber walls were cleaned out, I was pleased to note a pristine chamber with no signs of heat fissures/ lines/ pits. With the same sharp knife, I gently scraped off the lava overflow from the rim top surface. The charred and uneven inner rim surface (encircled in red) and the dents/ dings to the rim edges (major ones indicated with blue arrows) are now clearly seen and should be easily addressed by creating a thin delicate inner edge bevel. The ghosting is still prevalent and will, in all probability, be addressed/ reduced once the shank internals are cleaned. Next, I cleaned out the internals of the shank and mortise. Using my dental tool, I scraped out all the dried oils, tars and gunk that had accumulated in the draught hole and on the walls of the mortise. The amount of crud that was scrapped out and the condition of the pipe cleaners that were used points to how dirt the shank internals were. I continued further cleaning of the mortise and the shank with shank brushes and dish washing soap. I have resorted to this process as it helps me save on to a ton of pipe cleaners as these are not available and which are very expensive for me to get here in India from US or the UK. I finished the cleaning by running a few pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol through the mortise. I usually clean the mortise with dish soap/ shank brushes and rinsing under warm water when I clean the external stummel surface. However this time around, in order to preserve the old patina and the original stain over the stummel surface, I shall be avoiding the external cleaning of the stummel with warm water and Murphy’s Oil soap and resort to only wiping it clean with the oil soap on a cotton swab followed by a wipe with a moist soft cotton cloth. The old smells are still strong and would require more invasive methods to completely eliminate the ghosting.I continued the cleaning of the chamber and shank internals with a salt and alcohol bath. I usually use cotton balls which is an at par substitute to Kosher salt as I have realized over the years. However, this time around, I used kosher salt which had been lying around for some time now and I wanted to empty the container. I draw out a wick from the cotton and along with a folded regular pipe cleaner; insert it in to the mortise and through the draught hole in to the chamber. Thereafter, I packed the chamber with kosher salt to about quarter of an inch below the inner rim edge and filled it with isopropyl alcohol up to the brim. About half an hour later, the level of alcohol had gone down, having being absorbed by the salts. I topped it up once again with isopropyl alcohol and set it aside overnight. By next afternoon, the salt is dark colored and the kosher salt and alcohol had drawn out all the remaining oils and tars from the chamber and mortise, fulfilling its intended task. I removed the salts from the chamber and the pipe cleaner with cotton balls from the shank and ran pipe cleaners through the mortise to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk and further cleaned it by scarping the walls with a dental tool to completely remove the gunk. I blew through the draught hole to dislodge the trapped salts and wiped the bowl clean and dried the shank and bowl with paper napkins and set it aside to dry for an entire day. By next day, the pipe was nice and dry and all the smells were history.  With the stummel set aside for drying, I turned to address the stem issues. I addressed the deeper oxidation by sanding the entire stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. Once the oxidation was completely removed, I wiped the surface clean with Murphy’s oil soap on a cotton swab. I followed it up with cleaning the internals of the stem using hard and normal bristled pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. The gunk that came out with the pipe cleaners tells the sordid tale of the stem condition. To save on to the requirement of number of pipe cleaners, I have resorted to cleaning the stem internals using thin shank brushes with anti-oil dish washing soap and finally rinsing the stem with warm water to clean and freshen up the stem internals. With a pointed dental tool, I scraped out the entire dried gunk from the tenon end and the horizontal slot. I rubbed a little Extra Virgin Olive oil to hydrate the stem and kept it aside. I used a tightly folded piece of 180 grit sand paper to shape and re-define the button edge on either surface. The stem at this point in restoration is shown below. Continuing with the stem refurbishing, I followed it up by further dry sanding the stem with 320, 600, 800 and wet sanding with 1000 grit sand papers to completely rid the surface of the oxidation and bring out the shine in the vulcanite. The stem should polish up nicely.  Using micromesh pads, I completed the polishing of the stem by wet sanding the stem surface with 1500 to 12000 girt pads. I gave a final rub with “Before and After Extra Fine” stem polish compound from Mark to remove fine scratches from the stem surface. I rub a little quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil in to the stem surface and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite. The stem polished up nicely and appears as good as when new.  Next, I cleaned the external surface of the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap on a cotton swab. As brought out earlier, in this project, I intended to preserve the patina and the original stain on the stummel and hence, the deviation from the usual process of scrubbing the surface with oil soap and dishing cleaning soap followed with rinsing under warm water. The external cleaning of the stummel has brought to the fore a few more scratches over the surface. I shall polish the stummel by dry sanding with micromesh pads to bring a nice shine to the stummel and highlighting the grains. Now that the rim top surface is clean and free of the entire lava overflow, the extent of the charring and dents and dings to the inner rim edge is fairly apparent. I addressed the out of round inner edge and the slight charring to the inner rim edge in 8 o’clock direction by creating a thin delicate bevel to inner edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and index finger. I addressed the issue of darkened rim surface by lightly sanding the rim top and polished the freshly created inner rim edge bevel with a piece of 600 grit sandpaper. I agree with the Readers who have observed that the issues of scratches/ dings/ dents to the stummel have not been addressed. However, I am ready to accept minor blemishes if I am able to preserve the old acquired patina of the briar. I am very happy at the way the chamber and rim top surface appears at this in restoration.I subjected the stummel to a complete cycle of micromesh polish, dry sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I paid greater attention to polish the rim top surface and the bevel created on the inner rim edge. I wiped the stummel with a moist cloth after every grit pad to remove the sanding dust left behind by the pads. This also helps in monitoring the progress being made and provides an opportunity to take early corrective action, if required. I am happy with the progress being made till now. The briar has taken on a nice deep shine with the original reddish brown of the stummel and the darker brown stains to the grains contrasting beautifully. I really like the dark reddish brown coloration and the patina that is seen over the stummel surface. Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips and 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 straight and Bird’s eye grain patterns on full display. The contrast of the dark browns of the grain with the light reddish brown hues of the rest of the stummel adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush to further deepen the shine.   To refresh the stem logo, I coat the stem logo with white correction ink and let it dry out completely while I polished the pipe with Blue Diamond. Once the ink had dried out, with a toothpick, I gently removed the excess ink from the surrounding surface. Though the logo is not very crisp, this is the best that was possible given how worn out the stamping was to start with.To put the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding.   Next, I mount another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe with the aged patina to the briar looks amazingly beautiful and is now ready for its long second innings with me. P.S. I had attempted to preserve the aged patina which had developed over the stummel surface with passage of time. I did accept the minor dents and scratches that were seen over the stummel surface and let them be. It would a good to know your approach in this project and the methods that you resort to while maintaining the patina over the stummel surface.

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

 

Refurbishing The Second Charatan’s Make “Belvedere” # 1 From Mumbai Bonanza Lot


Blog by Paresh

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

The 21th pipe that I decided to work on from this find is a beautiful small sized petite Dublin shaped CHARATAN’S MAKE “BELVEDERE” # 1 pipe and is indicated by a green cross.This pipe is stamped on the left of the shank towards the shank end as “CHARATAN’S MAKE” over “LONDON ENGLAND” over “BELVEDERE”, all in block capital letters. The right side of the shank surface bears the shape number “1”. The high quality vulcanite saddle stem bears the trademark logo “CP” with the lower part of the C penetrating the P. All the stampings are crisp and easily readable save for the stem logo which is faint and the worn out. In my earlier restorations of CHARATAN’S pipes, I had extensively researched the dating of these old pipes and I can say with certainty that this pipe is from the period post 1960s. However, to document and establish credibility to my understanding and also to refresh my memory of the brand, I visited pipedia.org. Here is the link for the readers interested in history of Charatan’s and also in viewing a 1951 catalog;

https://pipedia.org/wiki/Charatan

“In 1863 Frederick Charatan, a Russian / Jewish immigrant, opened a shop in Mansell Street, located in the borough of Tower Hamlets, London E1, where he began to carve Meerschaum pipes.

Charatan was the first brand to make entirely hand-made briars from the rough block to the finished pipe including the stems. The nomenclature “Charatan’s make” refers to this method of production and was meant to differ Charatan from other brands who “assembled” pipes from pre-drilled bowls and delivered mouthpieces.

Charatan used 4 basic grades prior to 1950: Supreme, Selected, Executive, and Belvedere. After 1950 Herman Lane’s influence began, and the grades started to expand. In 1955 Lane took over sole distributorship of Charatan in the US. In 1957 he introduced the Supreme S. Most of his other introductions were from the 60’s and early 70’s…

Here is another link from the same page which takes the readers to an absolutely well researched page on Dating of Charatan’s;

https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dating_of_Charatans

I have reproduced the relevant portions which had helped me in dating this pipe.

The first step on dating a Charatan is to carefully look to some details:

  1. a) Shape of the mouthpiece
  2. b) Marking on the mouthpiece
  3. c) Engraving on the shank
  4. d) Shape and position of shank engraving/writing

This is because you can make the following conclusions:

a) From 1863 to 1960 the mouthpieces have a normal shape, saddle or tapered. From 1961 they use the ‘Double Comfort’ style still used today. By the way there are some saddle bits (without the double comfort) used in pipes that date after 1960 but these models are always characterized by an X (in the place of the DC) engraved after the shape number on the shank. This means that if a pipe has a tapered mouthpiece instead of a double comfort one, it is definitely a pre-Lane pipe before 1960. While if a pipe has a normal saddle bit stem, it could belong to every era. Nevertheless the pipe is pre 1961 if the shape code does not include an X, and is a pipe from after 1960 if the X is engraved. Finally any pipe with the double comfort stem is definitely after 1960.

b) The CP logo on the stem is stamped in a different shape according the era it was used. Some differences are less obvious than others; however the glaring differences are detectable in 4 phases. The CP till the 1960 is very fine, the C penetrates the P.

Identification of a first era pipe (Frederick’s era, 1863-1910)

I immediately point out that pipes of this era are very rare and it is very unlikely to come across a pipe from this time.

Moreover these pipes are indiscernible from those of the second era, the only clue is that pipes of this era are, in 99% of the cases, are quite small in size.

1) Pipes are no larger than a Dunhill group 1 or max group 2

2) Saddle or tapered mouthpiece

3) No double comfort stems

4) The CP logo is engraved so that the C enters the P (not always present)

5) Absence of £ on the pipe shank

6) Absence of the letter X on the pipe shape code engraved on the shank (for ex. 2502 and not 2502X)

7) Absence of letters DC after the shape number (for ex. 2502 and not 2505DC)

8) Absence of the engraving “MADE BY HAND” on the shank

9) Presence of the writing “CHARATAN’S MAKE LONDON ENGLAND” on 2 lines

10) The CP logo is finer than in following eras

11) The stems are usually made by different material than ebonite (mostly amber, if they have not been replaced)

Identification of a second era pipe (Rueben’s era, 1910-1960)

Pipes belonging to this period are rare; however is it possible to come across one. They can be distinguished from a pipe of the first era mainly because their larger size.

Their characteristics are similar to the ones of the previous era.

1) Pipes can be larger, up to the dimension of a Dunhill group 5

2) The mouthpiece is tapered or saddle.

3) No double comfort

4) The CP logo is engraved so that the C enters the P

5) Absence of £ on the pipe shank (note that from 1955 all the pipe imported in the USA by Lane has it, however that stamping is not synonymous of the Lane era).

6) Absence of the letter X on the shape code engraved on the shank (for ex. 2502 and not 2502X)

7) Absence of letters DC after the shape number (for ex. 2502 and not 2505DC)

8) Absence of the engraving “MADE BY HAND” on the shank (introduced for the first time in 1958)

9) Presence of the writing “CHARATAN’S MAKE LONDON ENGLAND” on 2 lines

10) The CP logo is finer than in following eras

I visited rebornpipes for more information and there is a very informative article that Steve had re-blogged on Charatan’s Models & Shape Information for the Collector. Here is the link for this article;

https://rebornpipes.com/2018/08/22/charatan-models-shape-information-for-the-collector/

I earnestly urge all the readers to go through this article on Reborn pipes.

Thus I can say that the small petite Charatan’s Make “BELVEDERE” pipe on my work table is, in all probability, from the Rueben’s Era and dates from the period 1910- 1960. Here is a picture of the two Charatan’s Belvedere, # 2655 X that I had restored earlier and # 1 currently on my work table, for size comparison. This would give the readers an idea why my heart skipped a beat when I read that the “Frederick’s era, 1863-1910” pipes are no larger than a Dunhill group 1 or max group 2!! Initial Visual Inspection
The Charatan’s pipe that is currently on my work table is a small petite pipe with a classic Dublin shape. It has a chamber depth of about 7/8 inch, bowl height of about 1 inch, chamber inner diameter of slightly less than 1 inch and overall pipe length of 5 inches. The stummel has rich dark and medium contrasting reddish brown stains and is covered in dirt and grime through which beautiful cross grains can be seen around the sides and over the shank surface while Bird’s eye adorns the front and back of the stummel. There is a very thin layer of cake in the chamber. The rim top is very clean and appears to have been scraped and is uneven. The inner rim edge has few dents and dings and the chamber is out of round due to the inner rim edge damage. The vulcanite saddle stem is heavily oxidized with no damage to the bite zone on either surface. The buttons on both surfaces are in pristine condition. The following pictures will give the Readers an idea of the overall condition of the pipe as it sits on my work table. The condition of the pipe gives me the impression that the pipe has been worked on earlier to address the damage to the rim top; however, the job is amateurish at the best. Overall, the thin layer of cake, clean rim top and excellent condition of the stem are pointers to the fact that the pipe seems to be well looked after. Detailed Visual Inspection
The pipe appears to have been smoked just two to three times after the chamber had been completely reamed and cleaned down to the bare briar sometime in the past. There is a just a sprinkling of carbon layer over the walls of the chamber. The inner walls of the chamber are in pristine condition with no signs of heat lines/ fissures. The rim top is clean and appears to have been unevenly scraped to remove the lava overflow resulting in an undulating rim top surface. Two prominent cracks are seen over the rim top surface; the larger crack in the 4 ‘O’ clock direction extends from the inner to the outer edge while the smaller crack in 11 ‘O’ clock direction extends about half way across the rim surface from the inner edge. These cracks are encircled in red. The inner rim edge appears to have been scraped with a pocket knife to remove any charring that would have been present in the past and is uneven with a couple of dents (indicated with green arrows) making the bowl appear out of round. The outer rim edge is scorched in three places; 10 ‘O’ clock, 3 ‘O’ clock and 7 ‘O’ clock directions (encircled in yellow). In spite of the thin cake, the chamber odor is strong and should be addressed to some extent once the cake has been taken down to the bare briar and the shank internals have been thoroughly cleaned. The undulating and cracks on the rim top surface, and the out of round chamber are the major issues that would need to be dealt with.  I was surprised to note that, in spite of being the lowest grade in Charatan’s line up, there is not a single fill in the stummel surface and the surface boasts of some beautiful cross grain around the sides and over the shank surface while Bird’s eye adorns the front and back of the stummel. The stummel surface is covered in dirt and grime giving the stummel a lifeless, dull and dirty appearance. The mortise shows accumulation of old oils and tars which would need to be cleaned. I absolutely love the old dark reddish brown color and the patina that has developed over time that I intend to preserve during the restoration. A nice polish with micromesh grit pads will bring a nice shine to the stummel and highlight the grains.   The vulcanite saddle stem is heavily oxidized, but otherwise in a decent condition. The bite zone and the button edge on either surface show some minor tooth indentations. The horizontal slot and tenon opening shows accumulation of dried oils and tars. All in all, the stem presents no major damage and should be an easy clean up. The Process
I started the restoration with cleaning of the stummel. With my sharp fabricated knife, I removed the little remaining cake from the chamber and thereafter, using a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper, I sand out the last traces of cake and expose the walls of the chamber. I wiped the chamber with a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol to remove the carbon dust left behind by all the reaming and sanding process. Once the chamber walls were cleaned out, I was could make out a couple of minor heat fissures (encircled in yellow). With the same sharp knife, I gently scraped off the minor charring from the inner rim edge. The ghosting is still prevalent and will, in all probability, be addressed/ reduced once the shank internals are cleaned. I took a closer look at the heat fissures and it was a big relief to note that the heat fissures are superficial save for the one in 4 o’clock direction (encircled in yellow) which would need to be addressed. I intend to remove the charred briar from the heat fissure and fill it with J B Weld and subsequently coat the bowl with activated charcoal and yogurt to protect it from coming in direct contact with the burning tobacco.   Next, I cleaned out the internals of the shank and mortise. Using my dental tool, I scraped out all the dried oils, tars and gunk that had accumulated in the draught hole and on the walls of the mortise. The amount of crud that was scrapped out and the condition of the pipe cleaners that were used points to how dirt the shank internals were. I continued further cleaning of the mortise and the shank with shank brushes and dish washing soap. I finished the cleaning by running a few pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol through the mortise. The old smells are still strong and would require more invasive methods to completely eliminate the ghosting.   I continued the cleaning of the chamber and shank internals with a salt and alcohol bath. I usually use cotton balls which is an at par substitute to Kosher salt as I have realized over the years. I draw out a wick from the cotton and along with a folded regular pipe cleaner; insert it in to the mortise and through the draught hole in to the chamber. Thereafter, I packed the chamber with cotton balls to about quarter of an inch below the inner rim edge and filled it with isopropyl alcohol up to the brim. About half an hour later, the level of alcohol had gone down, having being absorbed by the cotton. I topped it up once again with isopropyl alcohol and set it aside overnight. By next afternoon, the cotton balls are dark colored and along with alcohol, had drawn out all the remaining oils and tars from the chamber and mortise, fulfilling its intended task. I removed the cotton balls from the chamber and the pipe cleaner with cotton balls from the shank and ran pipe cleaners through the mortise to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk and further cleaned it by scarping the walls with a dental tool to completely remove the gunk. I wiped the bowl clean and dried the shank and bowl with paper napkins and set it aside to dry for an entire day. By next day, the pipe was nice and dry and all the smells were history. With the stummel set aside for drying, I turned to address the stem issues. I addressed the deeper oxidation by sanding the entire stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. Once the oxidation was completely removed, I wiped the surface clean with Murphy’s oil soap on a cotton swab. I followed it up with cleaning the internals of the stem using hard and normal bristled pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. The gunk that came out with the pipe cleaners tells the sordid tale of the stem condition. I further cleaned the stem internals using thin shank brushes with anti-oil dish washing soap and finally rinsing the stem with warm water to clean and freshen up the stem internals. With a pointed dental tool, I scraped out the entire dried gunk from the tenon end and the horizontal slot. I rubbed a little Extra Virgin Olive oil to hydrate the stem and kept it aside. I used a tightly folded piece of 180 grit sand paper to shape and re-define the button edge on either surface. The stem at this point in restoration is shown below. Continuing with the stem refurbishing, I followed it up by further dry sanding the stem with 320, 600, 800 and wet sanding with 1000 grit sand papers to completely rid the surface of the oxidation and bring out the shine in the vulcanite. The stem should polish up nicely.Using micromesh pads, I completed the polishing of the stem by wet sanding the stem surface with 1500 to 12000 girt pads. I gave a final rub with “Before and After Extra Fine” stem polish compound from Mark to remove fine scratches from the stem surface. I rub a little quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil in to the stem surface and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite. The stem polished up nicely and appears as good as when new.  Next, I cleaned the external surface of the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap on a cotton pad. As brought out earlier, in this project, I intended to preserve the patina and the original stain on the stummel and hence, the deviation from the usual process of scrubbing the surface with oil soap and dishing cleaning soap followed with rinsing under warm water. I shall polish the stummel by dry sanding with micromesh pads to bring a nice shine to the stummel and highlighting the grains. With the internal and external cleaning of the stummel completed, I turn to addressing the issues of rim damage. I topped the rim top over a piece of 220 grit sand paper till I had a smooth and even surface. The charred surface in the 2 o’clock direction has been greatly reduced but is still visible (encircled in red). I had anticipated that the crack would be addressed at this stage itself if it had been superficial. However, that was not to be. Both the cracks, larger one in 4 o’clock and the smaller one in 11 o’ clock direction are still visible and indicated with blue arrows. I shall drill counter holes to prevent the spread of these cracks.  I again checked the alignment of the crack on the rim surface with the heat fissures in the chamber walls. With a sharp dental tool, I probed the heat lines. The heat line that aligned with the smaller crack is just superficial and the surrounding briar was solid. However, the heat fissure that aligned with the larger crack did have soft charred briar in it and would need to be addressed. I also checked the stummel surface to see if the crack extended over the stummel and was mighty pleased to note that it did not. What a relief!!   I marked the end points of the two cracks with a sharp dental tool. These marks also help to guide the drill bit when drilling the counter hole. With my hand held rotary tool mounted with a 0.1 mm drill bit, I drill counter holes at the end points. These counter holes arrests the further spread of these cracks. I fill this crack and the counter holes with a mix of CA superglue and briar dust and set the stummel aside for the fills to harden.   Next, with a sharp dental tool, I completely removed the charred briar from the heat line that aligned with the larger crack in 4 o’clock direction. To protect the crack from coming in to direct contact with the burning tobacco 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 squeezed out 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 counter hole fills over the rim top and the J B Weld coat to the wall of the chamber had completely cured and hardened considerably. I sand the rim top fills with a flat needle file to achieve a rough match with the rest of the rim surface. I fine tune the match with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. Next, using a folded piece of 150 grit sandpaper, I sand the J B 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.With the repairs to the cracks and heat fissure completed, I addressed the out of round inner edge and the slight charring to the inner rim edge in 4 o’clock direction by creating a nice deep bevel to inner edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and index finger.  I subjected the stummel to a complete cycle of micromesh polish, dry sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I paid greater attention to polish the rim top surface and the bevel created on the inner rim edge. I wiped the stummel with a moist cloth after every grit pad to remove the sanding dust left behind by the pads. I am happy with the progress being made till now. The briar has taken on a nice deep shine with the original reddish brown of the stummel and the darker brown stains to the grains contrasting beautifully. I really like the dark reddish brown coloration and the patina that is seen over the stummel surface.     Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” into the briar with my finger tips and work 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 straight and Bird’s eye grain patterns on full display. The contrast of the dark browns of the grain with the light reddish brown hues of the rest of the stummel adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush to further deepen the shine. Now that the cosmetic aspects of this pipe have been dealt with, all that remained was the functional aspect that needed 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 refresh the stem logo, I coat the stem logo with white correction ink and let it dry out completely while I polished the pipe with Blue Diamond. Once the ink had dried out, with a toothpick, I gently removed the excess ink from the surrounding surface. Though the logo is not very crisp, this is the best that was possible given how worn out the stamping was to start with.  To put the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding.    Next, I mount another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe with a deep reddish brown and aged patina to the briar looks amazingly beautiful and is now ready for its long second inning with me. I would like to express my gratitude to all the readers of rebornpipes who have made the effort to walk through this journey with me and shared their words of encouragement through their comments and suggestions. This does help me gain experience and grow in this hobby about which I am very passionate.

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

Righting a Wrong- Restemming a Hilson “Viva” # 278 Freehand Pipe


Blog by Paresh

This pipe had been purchased by me on eBay many eons ago and was the first pipe for me from the web store. I had this pipe in my rotation when it fell out of favor after I got a few pipes from Steve and I had commenced my journey in to the world of restoring my huge cache of inherited pipes. I felt that this pipe just did not smoke right, but what was the issue never crossed my mind and neither did I put my mind to it since I now had other pipes to enjoy!!

When Steve had visited me last year, we went through the entire pipe collection and this particular pipe caught Steve’s attention. He immediately remarked that the stem was not the right one for this pipe!! It was a replacement stem and a poorly executed job. With the problem diagnosed in a jiffy, we went about identifying a suitable stem for replacing the one currently on the pipe, which was by the way, also in a jiffy!! We found one and the pipe was soon consigned to oblivion. However, this time around after having recently worked on a stem replacement project, I decided to complete the replacement on this Hilson pipe as well. Here are a few pictures of the pipe with the stem that was replaced by the Seller. This pipe has Cutty-like foot, a Dublin like taper from the top of the rim to the foot of the stummel and the front rim top has a pronounced backward rake towards the shank. These features and for the lack of a defined shape, I rather prefer to call it a freehand. The stummel has very shallow sandblasted surface all around with a smooth shank bottom which bears the stampings seen on this pipe. It is stamped on bottom smooth surface of the shank as “HILSON” over “VIVA” in block letters with the shape number “# 278” stamped towards the stummel. The right side of the shank is stamped with COM stamp “BELGIUM” towards the shank end. The stampings are crisp and clear.I looked for information on this brand on rebornpipes.com. The information contained therein is both informative and an interesting read. Given below is the link to the write up;

https://rebornpipes.com/2016/06/11/restoring-my-paris-finds-a-pair-of-hilson-double-ecume-sandblast-pipes/

I visited pipedia.org to see if could learn more about this brand. I learned that this pipe was well respected brand in 1960s- 70s as makers of good quality pipes at very moderate prices which traced it’s roots way back to 1846 in the City of Bree!!! The brand faced financial crisis in the 1980s and was brought over by Elbert Gubbels & Zonen B.V. in the Netherlands. Here is the link to the web page;

https://pipedia.org/wiki/Hilson

The information gleaned from the two write ups makes me certain that the Hilson VIVA pipe that I am working on is Pre 1980s.

Initial Visual Inspection
This pipe has been with me for many years and at one point in time was an integral part of my pipe rotation. However the lure of new got the better of me and in my exuberance to try out the newer additions to my pipe collection, this pipe kept falling further and further down the pile. So when Steve suggested replacing the stem, I got this pipe out of oblivion. The stummel has a shallow sandblasted surface that has accumulated a little dust and dirt in the crevices of the sandblast. The left side of the stummel has a few fills and probably, I think, is the reason for the stummel to be sandblasted. Once the stummel surface has been thoroughly cleaned and the fills exposed, will I decided to refresh these fills or let them be. Before being stowed away, the chamber and the mortise had been completely reamed and cleaned. However, with passage of time, the mortise and the chamber walls are covered in dust and coupled with the high moisture content in the atmosphere, has coated the walls in a thin layer of grime. There is an even layer of thin coat of dust that has hardened over the thick chamber walls. The rim top surface shows very shallow sandblast and was cleaned earlier by me. It is now that I have observed a fill on the left side that runs from the inner to outer edge (indicated by indigo arrows). Both the inner and the outer rim edges are sans damage. The inner walls of the chamber are solid and thick. The chamber odors are mild. The draught hole is dead center and at the bottom of the chamber and coupled with the new stem that would replace the old one, makes me believe that the smoking quality of this pipe should improve manifolds. Further cleaning of the chamber and mortise should completely eliminate the ghost smells from the chamber.The Process
The first issue to be addressed in this project was to replace the previously poorly executed stem replacement job. The whistling sound emanating from the shank when air was drawn from the stem was a pointer that the alignment of the stem air way and mortise/ draught hole was skewed. I tried the pipe cleaner test and it was with great effort and maneuvering that the pipe cleaner came out through the draught hole. Steve and I had selected a pearly variegated acrylic saddle stem with swirls of light browns and grays as a replacement stem for this pipe. It was decided that this saddle stem be modified in to a military mount stem with the tenon seating as close to the walls of the mortise as possible. Here is how the pipe looks with this pearly saddle stem. The tenon would need to be sanded down for it to seat in to the mortise and this would be the trickiest part of this stem replacement. I would have to be very careful to sand it evenly and equally from all around and ensuring this while sanding down manually and eyeballing the evenness is not as easy as it would be while using a tenon turning tool (which I am still on a lookout for at a good price!!).   The replacement pearly variegated acrylic saddle stem too came with its own set of damages. The stem was badly damaged with heavy and deep tooth indentations in the bite zone over the upper stem surface. The button edge on the upper stem surface is also deformed with heavy tooth indentations. The lower stem surface, in addition to the tooth chatter, had a large chunk of the surface chewed off from the bite zone including the button. The bite zone on either surface is covered in a thick layer of calcification, probably a result of using a rubber bit. The stem airway appears BLACK and completely clogged with accumulated saliva, oils and tars. The tenon end and horizontal slot are clogged with gunk. The bite zone and buttons on either surfaces will have to be reconstructed and reshaped. The airway will be a bear to clean. Only after the stem has been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, the issue of seating of the stem in to the mortise will be dealt with. I cleaned the external surface of the stem with a Scotch Brite pad 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 gently scraped out the gunk and grime from the tenon and slot openings with my fabricated knife and dental tools. I thoroughly rinsed the stem surface and internals under warm running water till the stem was sparkling clean. I have realized that using small shank brush and liquid soap reduces consumption of pipe cleaners by about 85%. 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 stem surface, tenon end, slot and the air way is now clean. After about an hour of cleaning and ton of elbow grease, I can now handle this stem without any disgust!! I shall first adjust the tenon to achieve a snug seating in to the mortise and thereafter manipulate the saddle portion of the stem to achieve the taper for a military mount style stem. I mounted a 150 grit sanding drum on to my hand held rotary tool and sand down the tenon till I had achieved a rough seating of the tenon in to the mortise. My previous experience has taught me an invaluable lesson; “SAND ONCE AND CHECK TWICE”!! Once I had achieved a rough seating, I got down to the arduous and time consuming task of manually sanding down the tenon with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper till I had achieved a perfect seating of the tenon in to the mortise. Here I was extra careful and vigilant while sanding the sides of the tenon and frequently checked the alignment of the stem airway with the shank airway and finally the draught hole. Excess sanding of any one side of the tenon disturbs this alignment even though the seating may appear to be snug and seamless. I gave final check to progress being made and the seating was perfectly snug and seamless with all the airways perfectly aligned. I am very happy with the progress until now!!Next step was to shape the saddle portion to resemble a military mount style stem profile. Continuing with the same assembly of sanding drum and rotary tool used for tenon turning, I gradually start sanding the saddle portion from the tenon end and progressively working my way upwards. I frequently checked the profile of the stem with the stummel. Here is how the pipe appears at this stage. Getting there, but not close yet!! I continued with sanding down the saddle further till I had a nice taper with the saddle edge merging with the tenon. The profile of the pipe has drastically improved and as per my mantra “LESS IS MORE”, I decided to proceed with manual sanding and shaping with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to match the surfaces and fine tune the seating of the stem in the mortise.  However, contrary to my mantra, I was still not very pleased with the stem profile. Unable to identify what exactly was amiss, I shot off a couple of pictures of the progress made to Steve and sought his advice. He suggested that I should give a bit more taper to the tenon end and it would be good. Ah…. The stem was a bit broad at the shoulders and that’s what was wrong!! I re-profiled the saddle shoulders with the 150 grit sanding drum. This now looks and feels much better and the flow of the stummel in to the stem is about perfect. Here are a couple of pictures that will give the Readers an idea of the seamless merging of the flow of the stummel in to the flow of the stem. With the profiling and seating adjustments to the stem now completed, I can turn my attention to the stem repairs. Next I inserted a pipe cleaner smeared with petroleum jelly in to the stem airway through the slot end. The coating of petroleum jelly on the pipe cleaner prevents the superglue from sticking to the pipe cleaner and seeping in to the air way and blocking it. I applied a generous coat of superglue over the bite zone, including over the buttons, on the lower surface which had a through hole and set it aside to cure. Once the fill had hardened to an extent that it was not runny, I applied a coat of superglue over the upper surface and set the stem aside for the fills to harden completely. 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.  While the stem fills and repairs were curing, I worked on the stummel by reaming the chamber with my fabricated knife to remove the remaining carbon deposit and the hardened coat of dust and grime. 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 outer and inner rim edge is in great shape. The rim top surface is in decent condition, save for the fill on the left side. The ghost smells are greatly reduced and may be eliminated 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 Murphy’s Oil soap to scrub the stummel and rim top. After the scrub with oil soap, I washed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the stummel surface was clean and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. The stummel surface has cleaned up nicely with the beautiful shallow sandblast patterns on full display. There are two major fills that would need to be refreshed; one on the rim top surface and the other on the left stummel surface. The ghost smells are completely eliminated and the pipe now smells fresh, odorless and clean. The shank air way is nice and open. I am sure that the pipe will turn out to be a fantastic smoker with a full wide and open draw. Next I addressed the issues of the two fills in the stummel surface. With a sharp dental tool, I gouged out the fill to the left side and one on the rim surface. Using the layering method, I filled these gouges with a mix of briar dust and CA superglue till the mound of the mix was slightly above the rest of the stummel surface. This helps in a better blending of the fill with the rest of the stummel surface while sanding and reduces the scratches caused by the use of a needle file as you have a correct perspective of the sanding that is required. I set the stummel aside for the fills to cure. While the stummel fills were set aside to cure, the next afternoon, I worked on the stem fills which had cured completely. With a flat head needle file, I worked on the filling till I had achieved a rough match with the surrounding surface and had sufficiently sharpened the button edges. I further sand the fills with a piece of 180 grit sand paper to achieve a better match. I used a slot file to even out the horizontal slot edges and widen it a bit. I am very happy with the stem profiling and repairs at this stage in restoration and also the buttons now have a nice crisp edge to them.   Thereafter, I began the process of final fine tuning of the seating of the stem in to the mortise, shaping the saddle for a sharper military mount look and bringing a nice shine to the surface by sanding with 320, 600, 800 and 1000 grit sandpapers. The technique that I used is very simple; sand one side, check the seating and if the seating is not snug, sand the relevant side and continue to do so till I achieved a snug airtight fit. The closer I came to the perfect fit, the higher grit sand paper I used. A lot of patient and diligent work, I reached the point where I felt “ no more sanding… this is the perfect seating and perfect military mount profile!!”. My mantra “LESS IS MORE” was also playing at the back of my mind. I had simultaneously sanded the entire stem surface through all the above mentioned grit sand papers. I was very pleased with my efforts as I had achieved a perfect snug seating of the stem in to the mortise while being able to maintain the semblance of a military mount stem!! To bring a deep shine to the acrylic stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit sandpapers. I wiped the stem with moist cloth after each pad. At the end of micromesh cycle, I polished the stem with “Before and After Fine & Extra Fine” paste. The finished stem is shown below.With the stem re-profiling and repairs completed, I turned to the stummel repairs. The fills had cured nicely and using a flat head needle file, I sand the fill till I had achieved a rough match with the surrounding stummel surface. I sand the fills with a piece of 220 grit sand paper to further blend in the fills with the stummel surface. Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar and in to the crevices of the sandblast 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 sandblast patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The contrast of the lighter browns of the sandblast with the natural patina of the rest of the stummel adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel.  To check and verify the correctness of the alignment of the stem airway, the tenon opening, shank/ mortise airway and finally through the draught hole, I did the PIPE CLEANER TEST.  The pipe cleaner passed through cleanly and without any obstruction from the slot end right through the draught hole.   I have now reached the homestretch in this restoration project. To complete the restoration, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks from the stem surface that remain from the sanding. I mounted another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and is ready to move on to another piper to be enjoyed for a long time. P.S. The finished pipe really looks amazing and with the thick chamber walls, a perfect wide open draw with perfectly aligned airway, this will definitely be a fantastic smoker. The pearly variegated acrylic saddle stem has a nice pearly sheen to it and the swirls of browns and grays add to the visual drama. The rebuilt lower bite zone does show sign of repairs, but it always does with acrylic stems. The beautiful pearl white of the stem appears yellowish in the above pictures and also the background does change in couple of photographs. This is so because of the reflection of light from the prop that is being used. I still need to work on my photography skill set in order to highlight the beauty of the finished pipes!!

Any reader interested to add this beauty to their collection, may please let Steve know and this pipe can be shipped to you from across the seas to be enjoyed for years to come.

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

Readying a Beautiful Vintage London Made Peterson’s Of Dublin Calabash For It’s Second Inning


Blog by Paresh

While going through the second box of my inherited pipes, I came across a beautiful delicate Calabash shaped pipe which called out to me for restoration. That this would be a Peterson’s pipe came as a surprise since it did not have the patented Peterson’s P-lip and obviously, it was not a System pipe. I remembered that one of the first pipes from my inheritance that I had sent to Steve for restoration had been a Peterson’s rusticated petite Calabash pipe. I revisited the blog and memories of my early association with Steve, the gentleman, a great friend and now my Guru and constant companion on my journey in to the beautiful world of pipe restorations, came flooding back. I cherish his friendship and our association. Here is the link to the write up he had done on that rusticated tiny Calabash pipe (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/04/22/pareshs-grandfathers-pipe-5-a-tiny-peterson-bent-calabash-pipe/).

I have researched and worked on a few vintage as well as new Peterson’s and seeing the stampings on this calabash, I knew this had to be an old Peterson’s. The stummel has a nice spread of mixed grains all around and a nice feel in the hand. It is stamped on the left side of the shank as “PETERSON’S” in an arch with a forked ‘P’ over “OF DUBLIN”. The right of the shank bears the COM stamp “LONDON MADE” over “ENGLAND”. The familiar script “P” on the saddle adorns the left side of the saddle stem.  While dating a Peterson’s pipe, I always fall back to my under mentioned favorite site; http://thepetersonpipeproject.blogspot.com/2007/07/dating-peterons-pipes.html

I quote from the above site

“English made Peterson pipes actually span between the pre-Republic and Republic eras. In 1895, Peterson opened a shop in London England that lasted until the late 1950s or early 1960s. So the English Era, for a simplified date, will be from 1895 through 1959. The stamps Peterson used in London and that we have seen are:

Made in England – block format

Made in England – circle format

Made in London

Made in London England

Simply, London England

Great Britain

Though there are a couple of more, the above will give one the general idea. We believe the earliest stamp of this era was the “Made in England” in a block format since Peterson was using the “Made in Ireland” block format at about the same time on their Irish production pipes. The “Made in England” circle format was used during the same time frame as the “Made in Eire” and “Made in Ireland” circle formats.

From the start of the Patent Era until somewhere in the early 1930s, Peterson used the “Old Style” lettering that used a forked tail “P” in Peterson.

Thus from the above, it can be concluded that the pipe on my work table is from the English Era and dates from the period 1895 to1930s.

Initial Input By Abha About The Condition Of The Pipe
As is her habit, Abha my wife, had not taken any pictures of the pipe before she carried out her initial cleaning of the pipe and the only remembrance about this pipe she had was that there was a very heavy build up of cake in the chamber that had spilled over the rim top and over the stummel surface. The mortise was choked and the stem did not sit flush with the shank end. The stem was deeply oxidized.

Initial Cleaning By Abha…
The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 60 pipes for my further restoration and I am gradually inching forward completing these pipes). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

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

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

The chamber is of a decent size with a depth of about 1.8 inches. The wide flared out mouth of the chamber tapers down towards the heel, giving the pipe its classic calabash shape. The walls of the chamber are in pristine condition with no signs of heat lines or fissures. The rim top surface is uneven, scratched and darkened. The inner edge has a couple of minor dents and dings and is slightly charred on the left side in 7 o’clock direction. Close observation of the outer edge under magnification shows what appears to be a hairline crack in the 12 o’clock direction (encircled in red). The chamber smells clean and fresh, thanks to the thorough cleaning by Abha. The hairline crack, hopefully, is superficial and may be addressed when the rim is topped on a sandpaper to remove the scratches, dings to the inner edge and the darkening over the rim surface.The nicely cleaned stummel looks solid with nice mixed grains and swirls all around. There is not a single fill in the entire stummel surface, signifying excellent briar selection by Peterson’s carvers. Abha had painstakingly cleaned out the mortise and the sump. The briar looks dark, dull and lifeless. A nice polish and revitalizing the briar with “Before and After” restoration balm will rejuvenate the briar and make things interesting!! The cleaned up stem that came to me shows bite marks to the upper surface and button edge and there is a need to sharpen the button first by filling and then sanding the surface. Similarly, the lower button edge has a few tooth chatter and indentations and will need a fill to repair. The Process
I started this project by sanding the stem surface with a 220 grit sand paper to address the issue of tooth chatter. I wiped the stem with alcohol on a cotton swab to remove all the sanding dust from the stem surface. I followed it up by wiping the surface with Murphy’s Oil soap. This step also helps to remove the oxidation from the stem’s surface. The tooth chatter and the tooth indentations from both the upper and lower surface have been greatly reduced. The remaining tooth indentations and the button edges will need to be filled with charcoal and superglue. I mix clear superglue and activated charcoal and applied it over the both button edges, upper P-lip surface and lower surface of the P-lip. I set the stem aside for the fills to cure.Once the stem fills had hardened considerably, with a flat head needle file, I sand these fills to achieve a rough match. I further fine tuned the match by sanding the filled area with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger. I followed it up by sanding the entire stem surface using 320, 600, 800 grit sand papers and finally with a piece of 1000 grit sandpaper. This serves to remove the deep seated oxidation and also reduces the sanding marks of the more abrasive sand papers. I also sharpened the button edges while sanding. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the oxidation and sanding dust from the surface. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil over the stem and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite. The next issue that I addressed was that of the rim top surface damage. I topped the rim on a piece of 220 grit sand paper, checking frequently till I was satisfied that the charred inner rim edge on the left side in 7 o’clock direction was addressed to a great extent and the rim top surface is nice, smooth and even. The inner edge is still uneven, though much better than before topping, and shall be addressed next. With a folded piece of a 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger, I created a slight bevel on the inner edge of the rim top surface. This helped to mask the out of round chamber and address the minor dents that had remained on the inner rim edge. It can never be perfect; it’s a repair after all, but the repairs sure looks good.   I was very happy by the way the rim surface appeared at this stage in restoration. The crack that was observed under camera magnification, is neither visible to the naked eye nor in the pictures that I had clicked of the rim surface after topping. However, I wanted to be doubly sure that the hairline crack was only superficial and had been addressed with topping the rim surface. I increased the magnification of my mobile phone camera to 5x and sure enough, I could make out the crack (indicated with blue arrow). Just on a haunch, I traced the path of the crack over the stummel surface and sure enough, it extended below the outer rim edge for about ¼ of an inch, though very thin (indicated with blue arrow). Ahhhhh… What a pain that revelation was!! Though it’s a very fine hairline crack, I would address it to prevent it from enlarging and expanding over the rest of the stummel surface and /or the rim top. Just to be sure that the crack had not penetrated inside the chamber, I double checked and traced the extent of the crack over the inner edge and in to the chamber. Thankfully, the corresponding inner edge and chamber walls are sans any damage (enclosed in green). I now address the crack that is seen to the front of the stummel in 12 o’clock direction. Firstly, I clean off all the dirt from the stummel surface by sanding it to reveal the extent of the crack. I follow up this cleaning of the crack by marking the end points and turning points of the crack with a sharp dental pick. These marks also help to guide the drill bit when drilling the counter hole. I take care that the drill is just sufficiently deep enough to arrest the further spread of the crack and not a through hole. I generally drill two counter holes; first at the exact end point of the crack and second at the suspected/ likely progression end of the crack.  I fill this crack and the counter holes with a mix of CA superglue and briar dust. Once the fill has cured for couple of hours, I sand it down with a flat needle file to achieve a rough match with the rest of the stummel surface. I fine tune the match with a piece of 220 sand paper.   I continued the stummel repairs by sanding the fill and the entire stummel with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. I was especially very careful around the stummel stampings, least I obliterate it by sanding.   Turning my attention back to the stem, I decided to polish and shine up the stem surface. I wet sand the stem with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. Next I rub a small quantity of extra fine stem polish that I had got from Mark and set it aside to let the balm work its magic. After about 10 minutes, I hand buffed the stem with a microfiber cloth to a nice shine. I rub a small quantity of olive oil in to the stem surface to hydrate it and set it aside.   Next, I polished the stummel with micromesh pads, dry sanding with 1500 to 12000 pads. I polished the freshly topped rim surface and the newly created inner rim bevel. I wiped the surface with a soft cloth at the end of the micromesh cycle. The stummel looks amazing with a deep shine and beautiful grains popping over the stummel surface. I am surprised that the rim top surface has the same deep brown coloration as the rest of the stummel surface and use of stain pen was not required.   I massaged a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” with my fingers into the briar. The immediate and incredible transformation that takes place is a worthy reward for all the efforts!! I let the balm sit on the surface to be absorbed in to the briar for about 20 minutes. The bowl now looks fresh and attractive with the grains popping out any which way you look at the briar; it feels somewhat like DIWALI, the festival of lights celebrated here in India. I polished off the balm with a soft cloth to a lovely shine.    Before I could move on to polishing with Blue Diamond and carnauba wax, there was one issue yet to be addressed; that of refreshing the stem logo. I coated the stem logo with the ink of white correction pen and set it to dry out.I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks beautiful and will be an addition to my collection of Peterson’s pipes!! P.S. The stem logo did not turn out to be as crisp as it usually does!! Maybe, the stamping was not as deep as I thought it would be.

This project presented me with an unexpected repair work. The crack, even though a fine hairline crack it may have been, has the potential for developing in to a much more serious issue of a burnout. The counter holes stand out against the highly polished stummel surface and I have let them be. The only way to mask these was to resort to staining the entire stummel which would be at the cost of the beautiful natural briar color and not to mention the grains.

Sincere gratitude to all the readers who have shared this part of my journey in to the world of pipe restoration…Cheers!!

 

Restoring a “Made In England” Peterson’s System 3 # 367 From Mumbai Bonanza Lot


Blog by Paresh

I have quite a few inherited Peterson’s System pipes ranging from the period 1915 to 1947 to present!! I also have these pipes in System Standard, System 0 and System 3. So when Abha, my wife, sent me pictures of pipes that I had purchased from a Mumbai trash collector, I saw two distinct Peterson’s System pipes, one large and the other very small!! When Abha confirmed the COM stamping on both these pipes, I knew that I had Peterson’s System pipes from the 1930s-40s. Another two vintage Peterson’s System pipes added to my collection, I say. And I am not complaining, mind you readers!!

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

I had recently completed the refurbishing of a Savinelli seconds, a “ROYAL OAK” with a twin bore or a bite proof stem from my Mumbai Bonanza. Here is the link to this 18th pipe from this lot (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/08/17/refurbishing-an-interesting-royal-oak-207-apple/).

The 19th pipe that I decided to work on from this find is a petite Peterson’s System 3 pipe with a nickel ferrule and is indicated by a red cross.This pipe is stamped on the left of the shank towards the shank end as “PETERSON’S” in an arched block capital letters over arched “SYSTEM” in block capital over grade “# 3” over the shape number “357”. The tail of the P in Peterson’s is forked. The right side of the shank is stamped with football shaped COM stamp “MADE IN ENGLAND” with centered “in”. The ferrule has the usual three cartouche with first having Shamrock, the second a Prone Fox and lastly a Stone Tower. Stamped above the cartouche are the letters “K & P” followed by “PETERSON’S” all in a straight line. The stem is devoid of any logo. All the stampings are crisp and easily readable. In my earlier restoration of my inherited Peterson’s System pipes, I had extensively researched the dating of these old Peterson’s and I can say with certainty that this pipe is from the period 1938 to 1940/ 41. Also the forked tail of “P” in Peterson’s with the inward coiling upper part corroborates the vintage of this pipe.

I reconfirmed and refreshed my learning by visiting my favored site (link given below) and my memory has served me right. Here is the link to dating Peterson’s pipes (http://thepetersonpipeproject.blogspot.com/2007/07/dating-peterons-pipes.html).

I quote the relevant portions extracted from the site that would help in understanding the dating of this pipe

Peterson now stamped their pipes with “Made in Eire” in a circle format with “Made” and “Eire” in a circle with the “in” located in the center of the circle. This COM was used during the years of 1938 – 1940? /41?

English made Peterson pipes actually spans between the pre-Republic and Republic eras. In 1895, Peterson opened a shop in London England that lasted until the late 1950s or early 1960s. So the English Era, for a simplified date, will be from 1895 through 1959. The stamps Peterson used in London and that we have seen are:

Made inEngland – block format

Made in England – circle format

Made in London

Made in London England

Simply, London England

Great Britain

Though there are a couple of more, the above will give one the general idea. We believe the earliest stamp of this era was the “Made in England” in a block format since Peterson was using the “Made in Ireland” block format at about the same time on their Irish production pipes. The “Made in England” circle format was used during the same time frame as the “Made in Eire” and “Made in Ireland” circle formats.

From the start of the Patent Era until somewhere in the early 1930s, Peterson used the “Old Style” lettering that used a forked tail “P” in Peterson.

Thus I can conclusively say that the Peterson’s System pipe on my work table is from the English Era and dates from the period 1930s to 1940/41 when the “Made in Eire” football stamp had been in use.

Initial Visual Inspection
The Peterson’s system pipe that is currently on my work table has a small bowl with a chamber depth of about 1.1 inch, bowl height of about 1.2 inches, chamber inner diameter of 0.7 inches and overall pipe length of 4.5 inches. The stummel is covered in dirt and grime through which beautiful flame grains can be seen around the sides, front, back and over the shank surface while Bird’s eye adorns the foot of the stummel. There are a couple of small fills in the stummel. There is a thick layer of cake in the chamber with lava overflow over the rim top surface. The inner rim edge has many dents and dings and appears charred in 8 ‘O’ clock direction. The chamber is out of round due to the inner rim edge damage. The nickel ferrule is oxidized and without any dents or dings. The vulcanite P-lip stem is heavily oxidized with the bite zone on either surface peppered with deep tooth chatter. The buttons on both surfaces are deformed due to the bite marks. The following pictures will give the Readers an idea of the overall condition of the pipe as it sits on my work table. Detailed Visual Inspection
A thick and uneven layer of cake is seen in the chamber. The rim top surface has suffered the maximum damage and is uneven. It 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 bare briar and the rim top crud has been scraped off completely. The inner rim is uneven with suspected burn/ charred surfaces in 8 ‘O’ clock and 12 ‘O’ clock direction (marked in yellow circle). Only once the stummel has been thoroughly cleaned that I can be sure of my initial appreciation. The outer rim edge too has dents, chips and dings (encircled in green), but not very severe, likely caused due to knocking against the 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 bowl is out of round with the lower left half being thinner than the rest of the rim top. The stummel feels solid to the touch and I do not foresee any major issues with the condition of the chamber walls. The bowl is, to start with, is small in size and to top it will further reduce the size. I need to be very careful while I top the rim and keep it to bare minimum. A few blemishes to the rim are very much acceptable if I am able to preserve the size and profile of the stummel. To be honest with you, being a grade 3 System pipe, there is nothing much to boast about the grains on the stummel. It has a smattering of beautiful flame grains that can be seen around the sides, front, back and over the shank surface while Bird’s eye adorns the foot of the stummel. The stummel surface is covered in lava overflow and grime giving the stummel a dirty appearance. The stummel surface is peppered with a number of dents and ding. A couple of fills are noticeable on the right side near the shank- stummel junction, rim outer edge and the foot of the stummel (shown with yellow arrows). These will be clear when the stummel is cleaned of all the grime. In spite of all these flaws, the pipe has a nice look and feel to it. It does have a quality which is seen on vintage pipes, but difficult to explain in words. And not to forget, this is nearly an 80 year old pipe!! The fills will need to be refreshed and the dents and dings will be addressed to a great extent once the stummel is sanded with sandpaper. A nice polish with micromesh grit pads will bring a nice shine to the stummel and highlight the grains.  The shank end is adorned with a nickel ferrule that is covered in old oils and grime. The ferrule has oxidized a fair bit but should polish up nicely. The sump shows a heavy deposition of accumulated dried gunk. The sump will need to be cleaned to get the pipe fresh and ready for its new innings. I intend to polish the nickel ferrule with micromesh pads. This will be the first time that I would be doing so and keen to see if it is any better than the usual methods of polishing. I need to be careful with the faux hallmarking and stampings on the ferrule when I polish it. The P-lip vulcanite stem is heavily oxidized and has calcification deposits towards the button end. There are deep tooth marks on the lower and upper stem surface in the bite zone and appears that the previous owner has literally chomped on the bite zone of the stem. The button edges also have bite marks, in fact, they are badly worn out. The bite marks are deep enough to cause significant thinning of the surface and complete disfigurement of the button edges. The tenon end shows heavy accumulation of oils and tars. The part of the stem that seats in to the mortise is heavily scratched. I shall try to raise the tooth chatter and bite marks to the surface by heating and the deeper ones will be filled with activated charcoal and superglue.    The Process
I started the restoration with the stem repairs as this would take the maximum of my time to clean, repair and spruce up. I flamed the damaged button edge and the nicks and dents with the flame of a lighter. This helps the vulcanite to rise to the surface as it has an inherent property to regain its original shape when heated. At this stage, I could clearly make out the extent of damage on either surface in the bite zone. I further sand bite zone to even out the raised bite marks and further eliminate the minor ones. I addressed the deeper oxidation by sanding the entire stem with a folded piece of 150 and followed by 220 grit sand paper. This also helps to prevent the fills turning brown once polished. Once the oxidation was completely removed, I wiped the surface clean with Murphy’s oil soap on a cotton swab and rubbed a little Extra Virgin Olive oil to hydrate the stem. I cleaned the internals of the stem using hard and normal bristled pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. The gunk that came out with the pipe cleaners tells the sordid tale of the stem condition. To save on to the requirement of number of pipe cleaners, I have resorted to cleaning the stem internals using thin shank brushes with anti-oil dish washing soap and finally rinsing the stem with warm water to clean and freshen up the stem internals. With a pointed dental tool, I scraped out the entire dried gunk from the tenon end.   Continuing with the stem repair, I tightly wrapped a scotch tape around the thin tapered end of a pipe cleaner so that I had achieved a snug fit of the pipe cleaner in the small rounded slot of the P-lip stem. The scotch tape prevents the mix of charcoal and superglue from sticking over the pipe cleaners and keeps the slot end open. Thereafter, I mixed superglue and activated charcoal powder and generously applied it over the bite zone on either side, including over the button and set it aside to cure.  Using a flat head needle file, I reshaped the button and roughly matched the fills in the bite zone with the rest of the stem surface. I sand the entire stem surface with a piece of folded 220 grit sandpaper to even out the fills as well as remove the oxidation from the stem surface. I followed it up by further dry sanding the stem with 320, 600, 800 and wet sanding with 1000 grit sand papers to achieve a perfect blending of the fills with the stem surface and build a crisp button edge on either side of the P-lip. The repairs look good and the stem should polish up nicely. With the stem repairs and refurbishing nearly complete, save for the final micromesh polishing, I started with cleaning of the stummel as I was keen to know the condition of the walls of the chamber. With size 1 head of a PipNet pipe reamer, I took the cake down to bare briar. With my sharp fabricated knife, I removed the cake from the chamber where the reamer head could not reach and thereafter, using a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper, I sand out the last traces of cake and expose the walls of the chamber. I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol to remove the carbon dust left behind by all the reaming and sanding process. Once the chamber walls were cleaned out, I was pleased to note a pristine chamber with no signs of heat fissures/ lines/ pits. With the same sharp knife, I gently scraped off the lava overflow from the rim top surface. The charred and uneven rim surface (encircled in red) and damaged outer rim edges (major damage is encircled in blue) are now clearly seen and should be easily addressed with simple topping of the bowl. Next, I cleaned out the internals of the shank and mortise. Using my dental tool, I scraped out all the dried oils, tars and gunk that had accumulated in the draught hole, airway and sump. The amount of crud that was scrapped out and the condition of the pipe cleaners that were used leaves no surprise why air flow through it was restricted. I finished the cleaning by running a few pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I also wiped the sump with cotton buds and alcohol. I shall continue further cleaning of the mortise and the sump with shank brushes and dish washing soap while cleaning the external stummel surface.Next, I cleaned the external surface using a hard bristled toothbrush and Murphy’s Oil Soap. With a soft bristled brass wired brush, I removed the overflowing lava from the rim top surface and cleaned the internals of the shank with a shank brush and dish washing soap to remove what little crud remained in the shank. I rinsed it under running tap water and wiped the stummel dry with an absorbent soft cotton cloth. The external cleaning of the stummel has brought to the fore a few more scratches over the surface. The cleaning of the chamber and shank internals with the dish washing soap has completely eliminated all the ghost smells and the internals now smell and look clean and fresh. Now that the rim top surface is clean and free of the entire lava overflow, the extent of the charring and dents and dings to the inner rim edge is fairly apparent. The charring at 8 o’clock and 12 o’clock direction (marked in red) is far deeper than I had expected and also the dents and dings to the inner and outer rim edges are far more severe than what it had appeared to me during the detailed inspection. However, topping and creating bevels will address these issues. Now that I had a fair idea of the requirement of the extent of topping the rim surface, I top the rim on a piece of 220 grit sand paper to even out the rim surface dents and dings and also to reduce the charred rim surface. I addressed the out of round inner edge by creating a bevel to inner edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and index finger. I agree with the Readers who are of the opinion that the issue of charred rim has not been addressed completely. However, I am ready to accept minor blemishes as against losing too much of briar estate. I am very happy at the way the chamber and rim top surface appears at this in restoration.   The old fills observed earlier during initial inspection were addressed next. Very carefully and painstakingly, I completely removed the old fill with a pointed dental pick. I cleaned the fill of all the debris of old fill material, wiped it with alcohol and refreshed the pits by spot filling with CA superglue in each fill and set it aside to cure overnight.   By next day, the fill was nice, hard and well set. Using a flat head needle file, I sand these fills to achieve a rough match with the stummel surface. With a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper, I worked the fill till I had achieved a nice blend with the rest of the stummel surface. It turned out much better than I had anticipated. I further sand the entire stummel surface with the same grit sand paper to further smooth the stummel surface in preparation for a polish by micromesh pads. I subjected the stummel to a complete cycle of micromesh polishing, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I paid greater attention to polish the rim top surface and the bevels created on the inner and outer rim edges. I wiped the stummel with a moist cloth after every grit pad to remove the sanding dust left behind by the pads. This also helps in monitoring the progress being made and provides an opportunity to take early corrective action, if required. I am happy with the progress being made till now. As decided earlier, I polished the ferrule with each of the micromesh pads and I am very pleased with the appearance of the ferrule.   Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips and worked it deep in to the surface and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful flame and Bird’s eye 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.   With the stummel repairs and polishing completed, I turned to polishing the stem before I move on to final polishing the entire pipe with Blue Diamond and Carnauba wax. Using the micromesh pads, I completed the polishing cycle by wet sanding the surface with 1500 to 12000 girt pads. The stem looks great with the fills nicely matched with the rest of the surface. I gave a final rub with “Before and After Extra Fine” stem polish compound from Mark to remove fine scratches from the stem surface. I rub a little quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil in to the stem surface and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite. The stem polished up nicely and appears as good as when new.     To put the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding.    Next, I mount another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. I gave a final polish to the ferrule with a jeweler’s cloth and worked up a nice deep shine to the ferrule. The finished pipe with a natural finish to the briar looks amazingly beautiful and is now ready for its long second innings with me. P.S. I had a thought of staining the stummel with a Dark Brown stain and vacillated a long time on trying to reach a decision. Though the fills are discernible in the pictures, in person, these have blended in quite well and the natural finish of the briar against the dark grain makes for a visual treat, in my opinion. However, I am open to the valuable suggestions from the esteemed readers of rebornpipes on the issue of staining the stummel or leave it be.

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

Refurbishing An Interesting “Royal Oak” # 207 Apple


Blog by Paresh

I love classic shaped pipes and one such pipe is now on my work table. It’s a classic tapered stem Apple with an interesting rustication style on the stummel surface. I feel that the stummel was subjected to shallow rustication making for an interesting finish to the stummel surface. The first thought that came to my mind was that this pipe was British, what with the classic shape, nomenclature and the twin bore tapered stem that pointed me in that direction. The unique finish on the stummel, quality of the twin bore stem and the briar all oozed quality.

The pipe is a classic Apple shaped sitter with nice rusticated stummel that feels tactile in the hand. This pipe is stamped on the bottom smooth surface of the shank at the foot “ROYAL OAK” in block capital letters followed with shape code # 207. The stampings are crisp and clear. The high quality vulcanite twin bore tapered stem is bears the logo of two white bars on the left side towards the tenon end. The second white bar stamping has faded and is only about discernible.  I searched rebornpipes to see if I could find any information on this pipe, as I invariably do, to save time in digging out information about the brand. But this time around, though I came up with many brands/ lines of pipes that started with ROYAL, there was nothing on ROYAL OAK!!

My next go to site is pipedia.org and sure enough, I found what I had been looking for. The Royal Oak finds a mention under Savinelli! That did come as a surprise as all along till this point, I was thinking this pipe had to have a British connection. I visited Savinelli page on pipedia.org and went through the entire information on the brand. Along the way, I picked up snippets of information that pertains to the pipe on my table that I have reproduced below.

https://pipedia.org/wiki/Savinelli

1876 was a year of breakthroughs: Thomas Edison patented the mimeograph, Julius Wolff-Eastport canned sardines for the first time, Alexander Graham Bell made the first telephone call,

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky completed Swan Lake, Melville Bissel patented the first carpet sweeper, Mark Twain published Tom Sawyer, and in Milan, Italy, Achille Savinelli opened one of the first shops exclusively focused on tobacco and smoking accessories.

It may not have been obvious in 1876, but Achille Savinelli’s commitment to briar pipes would prove to be visionary.

He soon began designing his own pipes (different from the styling we associate with Savinelli today) and arranged their manufacture by local pipemakers in the Varese district of north-west Italy. The pipes became so popular that some were exhibited at the 1881 Esposizione Industriale Italiana (Italian Industrial Exposition)—the precursor to today’s Milan Fair, one of the largest trade fairs in the world.

Achille Sr. spent 14 years cultivating the company and building a strong customer base before passing the reigns to his son, Carlo, who ran the store for the next 50 years.

The store’s success kept Carlo and his wife occupied during business hours, leaving their son, Achille, to his own devices. Much like his father, and his grandfather before him, his “own devices,” as it turned out, were pipes.

As the Second World War began to sweep across Europe, however, Achille Jr.’s experimentation was cut short: he left his beloved workshop for five years of military service, and the experience provided him a new perspective on the role of Italy in the world marketplace. At the time the best-selling pipes in Italy were made abroad, despite the country’s steadfast reputation for producing the finest quality briar. There were Italian pipe makers, make no mistake, but these workshops and factories seemed to focus on maintaining high production numbers rather than on the quality of the product.

He knew it would take more than sheer customer loyalty and rapport to shift the pipe making reputation of his country. It would take a superior product, with a unique aesthetic and the capability to withstand high levels of production without sacrificing quality, to shatter the mold. With this in mind, he decided not to return to his father’s shop. He needed to make his own pipes.

With his two best friends, Amleto Pomé and Mario Vettoruzzo, he assembled a team of fifteen employees to start a new business in the Varese region—the same area of northwest Italy in which his grandfather, Achille Sr., commissioned his own designs more than 60 years before.

Savinelli Pipes began production in 1948 and, although the pipes were of a superior quality and unique in their aesthetic, the brand wasn’t an immediate success.

Aesthetics

Savinelli’s aesthetic is unique. When Achille Jr. first started the company, the best-selling pipes in Italy were made abroad, mostly in England and France. Rather than trying to generate an entirely new style, he capitalized on this trend by following a classical approach to shaping similar to the English style, only tweaking the proportions slightly to produce designs that at once could both satisfy customers looking for classical shapes and be readily recognizable as a Savinelli. As such, a number of designs within Savinelli’s lineup hold closer to this tradition than others. The 207 straight Apple and the 106 straight Billiard both feature classical lines and shank and stem proportions, with just a touch of extra visual weight lent to the bowl.

Savinelli made sub-brands, seconds & order productions

  • Riviera– Made for the international market only in the 9mm version
  • Roley– Vest pocket pipe; almost identic to “Rolex” by Brebbia
  • Roma
  • Royal Oak– Distributed in US

I visited pipephil.eu to find if there was any other additional information on this sub-brand from Savinelli. There is no additional information on this site other than that the same two bar logo is also found on Bent Bob’s and King’s Cross pipe, both Savinelli sub-brands. Here is the link to the web page.

http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/motifs/mo-nbarres.html#2b

From the above, it is safe to assume that this pipe was made during the era of Achille Jr. for the American markets. This, then, is definitely an older pipe to come out of Savinelli Pipe Factory!!

With the provenance of this pipe established, I move ahead with my visual inspection of the pipe.

Initial Visual Inspection
The interestingly rusticated tapered stem sitter is covered in dirt, dust and grime. There is a decent layer of cake in the chamber and the flow of air through the mortise is not very smooth and full. The twin bore stem is heavily oxidized and the bite zone is peppered with deep bite marks and tooth chatter on both the surfaces. Here is how the pipe appears as it sits on my work table.Detailed Inspection Of The Pipe And Observations
The bowl is a nicely round typical Apple shape with a slight narrow at the rim with a depth of about 1 2/3 inches. The chamber has an even layer of medium cake. The rusticated rim top surface is covered in lava overflow and dirt and grime from previous usage and subsequent storage. The inner and outer rim is in pristine condition. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be commented upon after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. The chamber has strong smells from the old tobaccos. The draught hole is dead center and at the bottom of the chamber and that makes me believe that it should smoke smooth. The stummel all around appears solid to the touch and hence I do not foresee any serious damage to the walls in the form of burnout/ deep heat fissures/ lines or pits. I may have to resort to the salt and alcohol treatment of the chamber if the ghost smells are not reduced after the cake has been removed and the shank internals are thoroughly cleaned. As is commonly seen on rusticated or sandblasted pipes with some serious age on them, the crevices in such surfaces 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 rusticated stummel surface are filled with dust while the smooth bottom shank which bears the stamping is covered in dust and grime. The fact that the grooved patterns are dusty and filled with dirt is accentuated more due to the light brown and black hues on the stummel and the shank. The briar is looking lifeless and bone dry and has taken on dirty grey hues. I need to be careful while cleaning the shank bottom surface to preserve the stampings on this pipe. Thorough cleaning and rising under warm water of the stummel surface should highlight the beauty of the shallow blasticated patterns.  The mortise shows accumulation of oils, tars and gunk and the air flow is not full and smooth. The high quality twin bore tapered vulcanite stem is so heavily oxidized that it appears brownish green in color! Some minor tooth chatter and deep bite marks are seen on both surfaces of the stem. This issue should not be a major headache to address. The lip edge on both sides has bite marks and would need to be reconstructed and reshaped. The tenon has accumulated ash and oils/ tars that have dried out on the inside as well as on the outside. The twin orifice has calcium 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 reaming the chamber with with my fabricated knife to remove the carbon deposits. Once the cake was scraped 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 smells from the chamber have greatly reduced. The walls are nice and stout and should provide a cool smoke.   This was followed by cleaning the mortise with pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I scraped the walls of the mortise with my dental tool to remove the dried oils and tars. The mortise was not very dirty and I further clean it with anti-oil dish washing detergent and shank brush. This helps me in saving a heap of pipe cleaners, which is a very precious commodity here in India. This further eliminated trace of old smells from previous usage, however, I must admit that I was still not very happy with the internal cleaning of the stummel and shank. With the bowl internals clean, I move to clean the exterior of the stummel. I generously applied Murphy’s oil soap with a hard bristled tooth brush and scrubbed the stummel and rim top with the 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 deliberately cleaned the rusticated rim top with a bristled brass wired brush 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 rusticated patterns on full display. The brown hues of the raised portions of the rustications contrast beautifully with the black of the rest of the stummel. These brown hues will darken considerably once the stummel briar is rehydrated and rejuvenated using the balm and subsequent wax polishing. The ghosting is completely eliminated and the pipe now smells fresh and clean. A closer examination of the stummel revealed the reason for this pipe to be designated as a sub brand/ seconds of Savinelli. There is a fill on the right side of the stummel (encircled in yellow), right at the bowl and shank junction which was revealed once the stummel surface was thoroughly cleaned.   The fill had loosened up and there was a necessity to refresh the fill. With my sharp dental tool, I gouged out the old fill and cleaned the area with isopropyl alcohol on a cotton swab. I filled the gouged out spot with a mix of briar dust and superglue. I was ultra careful not to allow the mix from spilling over the stampings on the bottom smooth surface of the shank. I set the stummel aside for the fill to cure.   With the stummel fill set aside for curing, I turned to address the stem issues. 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 220 grit sand paper to sand the stem and removed all the oxidation from 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. The remaining deeper 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. I applied a slightly thick layer over the lip which I will later sand down to create a defined edge. 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. By next afternoon, the stummel fill had hardened nicely. I used the edge of a flat head needle file to sand the fill and match it to the rest of the stummel surface. With a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper, I further sand the fill to achieve a perfect blending of the fill with the rest of the stummel surface.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 rustications and let it rest for a few minutes. I generously rubbed the balm in to the rim top surface. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful rusticated patterns displayed in their complete splendor. The contrast of the dark browns of the raised rustications with the dark black of the rest of the stummel adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel which may be insufficiently described in words and be rather seen in person. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. 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, 800 and 1000 grit sand paper. This helps to reduce the scratch marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2000 grit sandpapers and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. At the end of micromesh cycle, I polished the stem with “Before and After Fine & Extra Fine” paste. The finished stem is shown below. In my exuberance to complete the restoration and see the finished look of this pipe, I completely forgot to clean the stem internals. I ran a couple of hard bristled / regular pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol. Lucky me, the stem internals were clean and just a couple of cleaners were required freshen up the stem airway.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 rustications. 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!! The finished pipe is as shown below. P.S. I wish to thank each one for sparing their valuable time to read through this write up while also praying for the health and safety of entire mankind. Stay home…stay safe!!

Replacing The Military Mount Stem Of a Beautiful “Selected Briar” Billiard


Blog by Paresh

I had been procrastinating restoration work on this pipe for long, primarily for want of spares. This was one of my inherited pipes that had its horn stem completely shot!! I had been waiting for a suitable replacement stem, preferably a horn stem and so when I received my stash of around 40 vulcanite and 20 horn stems (a mix of used and new stems), this pipe moved up the queue for refurbishing.

This pipe has an old world charm about it what with its classic billiard shape and military mount horn stem. The stummel has a mix of Bird’s eye grain on the front, back and at the foot of the stummel with cross grains to the sides of the bowl. The shank has beautiful cross grains that run the entire length of the shank. It appears as if these straight grains emanates from the shank end and move up towards the bowl shank junction. It is stamped on the left side of the shank as “SELECTED” in block with letter S being larger than rest of the letters, over “Briar” in artistic hand. The shank end nickel ferrule is stamped as “EP” in a rhombus over three American faux hallmarks. The stampings are crisp and clear. The lack of COM stamp or brand name makes me believe this pipe to be a BASKET PIPE and the faux American hallmarks points to the probability of this pipe being made for the American market. The stamp “EP” stands for ELECTRO PLATED nickel ferrule as I know.

The horn stem points to the vintage of this pipe as being from prior to 1920s when vulcanite rubber gained prominence as a stem material.

The dating of this pipe as prior to 1920s is my guesstimate based primarily due to fitment of a horn stem. Any concrete and substantiated information on this pipe and its dating will be a huge learning for me and fellow readers of rebornpipes!!

Initial Visual Inspection
This pipe has the classic straight Billiard shape with a medium sized bowl. The stummel boasts of a mix of Bird’s eye grain on the front, back and at the foot of the stummel with cross grains to the side of the bowl. The shank has beautiful straight grains all round. The stummel surface is covered in a lot of dust and dirt. There are a couple of fills in the briar but that does not mean that the quality of the briar is sub standard. The carving, hands feel and appearance of the pipe, even in this condition, screams high quality and excellent craftsmanship. There is a decent layer of cake in the chamber. The stem has been cut short before and is heavily damaged with a through hole on one of the stem surface and few deep bite marks in the bite zone. Here is how the pipe appears as it sits on my work table. Detailed Visual Inspection
The chamber has an even layer of thin cake and appears to have been reamed and never smoked thereafter. The smooth rim top surface is scratched and it seems that the rim top has been scrapped to remove overflowed lava. Both the inner and the outer rim edges are beveled and appear sans 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 chamber odors are mild. The draught hole is dead center and at the bottom of the chamber and that makes me believe that it should great smoke. 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. To address the damage to the rim top, I shall top the surface on 220 grit sand paper. The reaming and subsequent cleaning of the chamber and mortise should completely eliminate the ghost smells from the chamber.The smooth stummel surface has taken on a layer of aged patina, through which one can make out the beautiful mix of Bird’s eye grain on the sides and at the foot of the stummel with cross grains to the front and back of the bowl. The shank displays tightly packed lovely cross grains that run the entire length. There are two fills in the entire stummel (encircled in yellow), one on the right side and another in the shank, adjacent to the stamping and close to the edge of the ferrule. The vintage of the pipe and years of uncared for storage has added layers of grime and dust over the stummel surface giving the briar a lifeless and bone dry look. Thorough cleaning of the stummel surface and rinsing it under warm water should highlight the grain patterns while preserving the patina. I shall refresh the fills with a mix of briar dust and superglue. The fill near the stampings on the shank will need to be worked on very carefully, if I have to preserve the stamping and which I always ensure!! It will be easy job if the ferrule can be separated from the shank end. The mortise shows accumulation of oils, tars and gunk and will need to be cleaned up. However, I have to admit that it is not as clogged as I am used to on my grandfather’s pipes. The horn stem in military mount style is completely shot!! You name an issue that a restorer is likely to come across in a stem, it is present and how!! Though personally I feel that every stem is repairable to an acceptable standard, however, in this case I feel that a stem replacement is in order to improve both the aesthetics as well as functionality of this pipe. Have a look at the pictures below to get an idea of the issues that this stem brought to the table…The Process
The first step in this restoration was to identify a suitable stem that would replace the old and chewed up horn stem. I FaceTimed with Steve and we went through the lot of horn stems that I had received. We shortlisted a straight military mount style specimen of brand new horn stem with a round orifice. It would suit the pipe both functionally and aesthetically. However, it did not have a taper and the slight belly swell that the original horn stem had. We ended the conversation with a few tips that Steve gave to help me work through this project. On a hunch, I got the slightly bent vulcanite stem that I had earmarked for another project, an early 1900s BEN WADE, and checked it out against the stummel. The extreme flare at the slot end, the taper and the size made me reconsider the horn stem that Steve and I had shortlisted. This vulcanite stem had the Castello like military mount stem and it really looked fantastic. I shared the pictures (shown below) of all the three stems, including the original and the vulcanite stem with Steve and promptly received the characteristic response from Steve, “Ohhh! The vulcanite stem looks like it was made for this pipe…I would definitely go with the vulcanite”. Decision made, the slightly bent vulcanite stem would be the one replacing the horn stem. I am definitely being ambitious to achieve Castello like shape to the stem, but there is no harm in trying!! The replacement vulcanite stem too came with its own set of damages. The stem was deeply oxidized with heavy and deep tooth indentations in the bite zone over the upper stem surface. The lower stem surface had a large chunk of vulcanite chewed off from the bite zone, including the button. The button edge on the upper stem surface is also deformed with heavy tooth indentations. The tenon has been unevenly sawed off, definitely an amateurish job, but it would save me some work nevertheless!! The stem would need to be straightened out first. The bite zone and buttons on either surfaces will have to be reconstructed and reshaped. Thereafter, the issue of seating of the stem in to the mortise will have to be dealt with. Before progressing to stem repairs proper, I decided to straighten out the stem first. I inserted a pipe cleaner through the stem prior to heating as the pipe cleaner prevents the collapse of the air way. With my heat gun, I gently heat the stem till it was pliable. I gently pressed the stem against the flat table surface and held it in place till the stem had sufficiently cooled and retained the straightened shape. I further cool it down under running cold water and set the straight shape. This heating also raised the tooth chatter and bite marks to the surface in the bite zone. The stem has been perfectly straightened out and some of the tooth chatter has been raised to the surface. The quality of vulcanite on this stem is top class.Next I inserted a triangulated index card covered in scotch tape in to the slot. The tape prevents the mix of superglue and charcoal from sticking to the index card/ seeping in to the air way and blocking it. I mixed superglue and activated charcoal powder and generously applied it over the bite zone, including over the buttons, on either surfaces of the stem and set it aside to cure. 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. I have been using CA wood superglue and this glue hardens immediately and allowed me only a few seconds of application whereas the all purpose CA superglue allowed me enough time to get an even spread over the damaged surface.   While the stem fills and repairs were curing, I worked on the stummel by reaming the chamber with size 2 PipNet reamer head. With my fabricated knife, I further scraped the chamber walls to remove the remaining carbon deposits. Once the cake was reamed back to the bare briar, I used a 150 grit sand paper followed by 220 grit sand paper to remove all the traces of 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 outer and inner rim edge is in great shape. The rim top surface itself is peppered with dents/ dings and scratches which will be addressed by topping. The ghost smells are greatly reduced and may be eliminated after the shank/ mortise are thoroughly cleaned. This was followed by cleaning the mortise with cue tips, pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I scraped the walls of the mortise with my dental tool to remove the dried oils and tars. The mortise was pretty clean and it did not take too much effort and pipe cleaners to get it nice and 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. The ghost smells are completely eliminated and the pipe now smells fresh, odorless and clean. The shank air way is nice and open. I am sure that the pipe will turn out to be a fantastic smoker with a full wide and open drew. I also noticed that the shank has a distinct taper towards the walls of the mortise. I prefer to have my tenon as close to the walls of the mortise as possible to ensure minimum gap between the air openings and the taper on this pipe means that the military mount stem tenon end will have to be shaped so. Next I addressed the issues of the two fills in the stummel surface. With a sharp dental tool, I gouged out the fill to the right side and one at edge of the ferrule on the left side of the shank. I covered the stampings on the left side of the shank with a scotch tape to prevent the briar dust and superglue glue mix from spreading over and ruining the stampings. Using the layering method, I filled these gouges with a mix of briar dust and CA superglue till the mound of the mix was slightly above the rest of the stummel surface. This helps in a better blending of the fill with the rest of the stummel surface while sanding and reduces the scratches caused by the use of a needle file as you have a correct perspective of the sanding that is required. I set the stummel aside for the fills to cure. While the stummel fills were set aside to cure, the next afternoon, I worked on the stem fills which had cured completely. With a flat head needle file, I worked on the filling till I had achieved a rough match with the surrounding surface and had sufficiently sharpened the button edges. I further sand the fills with a piece of 180 grit sand paper to achieve a better match. I used a slot file to even out the horizontal slot edges and widen it a bit. The reconstructed button over the lower surface needed to be refilled to make the button and the slot end face even. I spread the mix of charcoal and superglue over the button edge and slot end face on either sides again and set the stem aside for the refill to cure. With further stem repairs being on hold, I turned back to the stummel repairs. Using a flat head needle file, I sand the fill till I had achieved a rough match with the surrounding stummel surface. I sand the entire stummel with a piece of 220 grit sand paper to further blend in the fills with the stummel surface. I topped the rim top surface on a piece of 220 grit sand paper, checking frequently for the progress being made as I hate to loose briar estate any more than absolutely necessary. The scratches over the rim top have now been completely addressed. The inner rim edge bevel appeared to be slightly uneven at the front and at the back end of the rim top (encircled in blue) and I decided to freshen and even out the bevel. With a folded piece of a 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger, I create a slight bevel on the inner edge of the rim top surface. I am careful so as not to alter the profile of the stummel by excessive topping or creation of the bevel. I am pretty pleased with the appearance of the rim top and edges at this stage. The following pictures show the progress being made and improvements to the inner and outer rim edges. With the stummel repairs almost complete, save for the micromesh and wax polish, I worked the stem. The fill had cured and with a flat head needle file I sand the fills and reshape the buttons. I further sand the fill and buttons with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. I am pretty happy with the way the stem repairs have shaped up and also the buttons now have a nice crisp edge to them.   I followed up the repairs to the bite zone by addressing the issues at the tenon end of the stem. I sand the tenon end over a piece of 180 grit sandpaper to a smooth and even face.  I marked the approximate length of the mortise over the stem from the tenon end with permanent marker. This would give me a reference point from where I would need to turn the tenon. I mounted a 150 grit sanding drum on to my hand held rotary tool and sand the tenon end. While sanding the tenon end, I always had the profile of the Castello stem at the back of my mind. I checked for the seating of the stem in to the mortise frequently and stopped once I had an approximate seating. I fine tuned the seating by further sanding of the tenon end with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper. When I checked the seating, I realized with a cringe that there is a substantial vertical gap (indicated with yellow arrows) between the stem and the shank end on either surface while the sides are a perfect fit. Another FaceTime consultation with Steve and we both reached a conclusion that there was no option but to rebuild the upper and lower stem surface afresh to cover the gap between the stem and shank end since other shortlisted stems would not do justice to the pipe’s complete appearance. So what followed was a tedious, laborious and time consuming process of filling with a mix of activated charcoal & superglue, curing, sanding, checking the seating and repeating the process till I achieved a snug fit of the stem in to the mortise. I have explained the entire process in just two lines, but in reality it took me 4 complete days to achieve the desired results. The pictures below will give the readers an idea of the process that was involved. At this stage of restoration, I had achieved a rough seating of the stem in to the  mortise and discerning Readers would have noticed minor gaps between the stem and shank end. I too had observed this gap but am not perturbed by this as this issue will be addressed when I fine tune the seating by sanding with higher grit sandpapers. Also, if the issue persists, I can always resort to rebuilding and readjusting as necessary.    Thereafter, again began the process of fine tuning the seating of the stem in to the mortise by sanding with 320, 600, 800 and 1000 grit sandpapers. The technique that I used is very simple; sand one side, check the seating and if the seating is not snug, sand the relevant side and continue to do so till I achieved a snug airtight fit. The closer I came to the perfect fit, the higher grit sand paper I used. A lot of patient and diligent work of 7 hours, I reached the point where I felt “no more sanding… this is the perfect seating!!”. My mantra “LESS IS MORE” was also playing at the back of my mind. I had simultaneously sanded the entire stem surface through all the above mentioned grit sand papers. I was very pleased with my efforts as I had achieved a perfect snug seating of the stem in to the mortise while being able to maintain the semblance of a Castello like stem!!To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit sandpapers. I wiped the stem with moist cloth after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rejuvenate the vulcanite. At the end of micromesh cycle, I polished the stem with “Before and After Fine & Extra Fine” paste. The finished stem is shown below.  For the readers to get a perspective of the stem transformation I am including the pictures below of the stem before the modifications to fit the shank were started. The gentle and seamless flare to the stem at the tenon end on both surfaces looks cool, akin to a Whale back!To check and verify the correctness of the alignment of the stem airway, the tenon opening, shank/ mortise airway and finally through the draught hole, I did the PIPE CLEANER test.  The pipe cleaner passed through cleanly and without any obstruction from the slot end right through the draught hole.With the stem repairs, transformations and micromesh polishing complete, I turned my attention back to the stummel which was yet to be polished with the micromesh grit pads. I wet sand the entire 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 grain and the clean lines of this piece of briar is really appreciable. The few scratches that were noticed over the stummel surface too have been addressed at this stage. Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The contrast of the dark browns of the Bird’s eye and cross grains with the natural patina of the rest of the stummel adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel. 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. With a jeweler’s cloth, I cleaned the nickel ferrule to a nice deep shine. 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!! Big thank you to all the readers who have joined me on this path by reading this write up as I restored and completed this project.

Refurbishing And Replacing an Aluminum Tenon on a Barling # 4809, T.V.F Zulu Pipe


Blog by Paresh

The next pipe that I decided to work on is a classic Zulu shaped pipe with beautiful bird’s eye grain 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 “Barling” in running hand over “4809” over “LONDON ENGLAND” in block capital letters. On the flat top right side of the shank is stamped “T.V.F”. The stampings are all crisp and deep. The trademark Barling cross has been completely buffed off from the saddle top of the Barling styled vulcanite stem. The size, shape and feel of the pipe is solid to the touch.  Barling’s pipe brand has been well researched and chronicled on pipedia.org and by Steve when he worked on many of Barling’s pipes over decades and thus, shall not waste time in repeating the information that is available. I too have carefully read and researched this brand as I do have many pipes that I have inherited and tentatively date this pipe as being an Early Corporate Era pipe. I have based my conclusions based on the following facts that I have read on pipedia.org (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Barling)

Early Corporate Era Nomenclature
A script Barling logo replaces the block “Barling’s Make” logo. Makes sense, no Barlings are making pipes.

The pipes retain the 4 digit model number introduced in mid 1962, but they also introduce a size 1, which means that there are 4 digit numbers beginning with a 1. The model number is placed right below the Barling logo.

The words LONDON ENGLAND are stamped below the model number. The “MADE IN ENGLAND.” Stamp is discontinued. Ye Olde Wood and TVF have both been discontinued. They will return in the mid 1960’s.

Thus, even though it is not a pre-transition piece, this pipe from after mid 1960s, still has the classic shape, draw and feels nice in the hand that Barling’s pipes are so famous for.

Initial Visual Inspection
This pipe has a decent medium bowl size with chamber depth of about 1 7/8 inches. The stummel boasts of some beautiful cross grains to the front and back of the bowl and all around the shank and loosely packed Bird’s Eye to the right side of the stummel. The stummel is covered in dirt and grime of the overflowed lava and dirt accumulated over the years of heavy smoking and uncared for attention to cleaning and maintenance. There is a thick layer of cake in the chamber and few severe chips and dings to the rim edges. The stem is heavily oxidized with a perceptible gap between the stem and shank end face. The pipe’s appearance, as it sits on my work table, does not present an encouraging picture. Detailed Inspection Of The Pipe And Observations
The first thing I noticed was the perceptible gap (indicated with red arrows) between the stem and the shank end face with the stem completely seated in the mortise. I attempted to separate the stem from the shank, but the stem wouldn’t budge. I chucked the pipe in the freezer for about four hours. I tried again and this time the stem turned but with a sinking feeling, I realized that it was not the tenon that was turning but it was the rest of the stem that turned. It dawned on me that the original tenon had been replaced with a threaded one. After a few careful turns, the stem separated from the shank end. The original tenon had been replaced with an aluminum one and the tenon remained firmly embedded in to the shank.A closer look at the embedded tenon showed prominent outwards protruding shoulders (indicated with yellow arrows) while a matching bevel (indicated with green arrows) had been carved in the saddle at the tenon end of the stem face to accommodate the tenon shoulders. Threads had been tapped in to the saddle for seating the threaded tenon. The gap between the aluminum tenon and the shank face (indicated by pastel pink arrows) is too large. These repairs are well done and have been done by a professional. However, even though the repairs are solid and neatly done, I would rather prefer to have a Delrin tenon over a metal tenon for the reasons of hygiene and ease of maintenance, not to mention the aesthetics of the pipe. The bowl has a wide rim that slightly tapers down towards the heel and has a chamber depth of about 1 7/8 inches. The draught hole is at the bottom and center of the chamber and this construction should make it a great smoke. The chamber has an even layer of thick hard cake with a strong ghost smell. The rim top surface is covered with thick lava overflow and has max accumulation in the lower half of the rim top. Through this layer of lava, a few dings can be seen over the rim top surface. The inner rim edge appears dark and worn out all around, however the damage seems to be severe in 8 o’clock and 3 o’clock directions (encircled in blue). The outer rim edge is equally damaged all along the periphery. There are a number of dents/ dings and chipped areas over the outer rim edge but most severe in 6 o’clock, 12 o’clock and 10 o’clock direction (encircled in yellow). 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 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 8 o’ clock and 3 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 rim top surface. The ghost smells should reduce once the cake from the chamber is removed and the shank has been cleaned. The smooth stummel has a forward cant in a classic Dublin shape that is broad at the rim that narrows at the bottom/ foot. The shank is oval making it a Zulu shaped pipe. The surface is covered in dust, lava overflow and grime through which one can make out the beautiful cross grains to the front and back of the bowl and shank. There is not a single fill in the briar surface and points to high quality of briar selection for which Barling is renowned. The briar is looking lifeless and bone dry. For a pipe that has been so heavily smoked, there are surprisingly no dents and ding over the stummel surface. Once the stummel has been thoroughly cleaned, any other damage or flaws (which I think there will be none) will come to the fore. Thorough cleaning and rising of the stummel under warm water will highlight the grain patterns. Micromesh polishing will help in imparting a nice shine to the briar. The entrenched aluminum tenon makes it impossible to observe the insides of the shank and the mortise. However, the overall condition of the pipe in general and the chamber in particular, makes me believe the shank internals will be filthy with dried oils, tars and gunk. The restricted airflow is another pointer to a messy shank internals.

The high quality vulcanite tapered saddle stem is typical Barling with a narrow saddle at the end of a proportionately broad stem. The stem is so heavily oxidized that it appears brownish green in color! The saddle has been widened to house the threaded end of the tenon, is blocked with accumulated ash and oils/ tars that have dried out on the inside. The horizontal slot end is chock-a-block with gunk. The trademark stem logo of BARLING CROSS is completely buffed out. For a pipe that has seen such heavy usage, the stem is in pristine condition with no tooth chatter or bite marks or deformed button edges. Replacing the aluminum tenon with a Delrin tenon is one challenge that will have to be dealt with great care and caution. The Process
The first issue that I decided to address was that of the tenon replacement. I heated the tenon with the flame of a lighter and thereafter, with nose pliers I carefully dislodged the aluminum tenon from the shank. I selected a Delrin tenon that roughly matched the shank and stem opening. I cleaned the stem opening that housed the threaded end of the tenon using shank brush, pipe cleaners, q- tips and alcohol. With a sharp dental tool, I scraped out all the dried oils and tars and gunk from the stem opening. With the stem opening cleaned up nicely, I shall next check the seating of the new tenon in to the stem. I tried the seating of the new tenon by threading it in to the widened saddle of the stem and, as rarely as it happens, the fitting was perfect. The tenon, however, would need a bit of work for achieving a snug fit in to the shank. The gap (indicated with blue arrows) between the replacement tenon and the stem face bevel will have to be filled and sealed with CA superglue.Next I wound a piece of scotch tape around the tapered end of a pipe cleaner and insert it through the tenon in to the stem airway. I applied clear CA superglue to the threaded end of the replacement Delrin tenon and also over the threaded stem opening and turned the tenon in to the stem. I lightly tapped the tenon to seat flush with the base of the wide saddle end wall. I applied superglue in to the gap that was formed between the stem bevel and the tenon and set the stem aside for the glue to cure. The scotch tape wound pipe cleaner prevents the superglue from seeping in to the stem airway and clogging it and also helps in guiding and aligning the airway of the new tenon with that of the stem. While the stem repairs were set aside to cure, I worked on the stummel by first reaming the chamber with size 1 followed by size 2 head of a PipNet pipe reamer. 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. The inner rim edge was charred in 8 o’clock and 3 o’clock direction which have been encircled in red. I scrapped off the charred briar from these areas and now the chamber is out of round. The chamber walls show a web of minor heat lines which would need to be protected from developing in to major heat fissures that would eventually lead to a burnout. I shall give the inner rim edge a slight bevel to get the bowl back to a perfect round and mask the damage. The ghost smells are considerably reduced and should be eliminated once the shank and mortise internals are cleaned. The rim top surface is still considerably darkened and would need to be thoroughly cleaned to know the exact damage to the surface.   I followed up the reaming of the chamber with cleaning the mortise using cue tips, pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I scraped the walls of the mortise with dental tool to remove the dried oils and tars. The ghost smells are further reduced and should be eliminated completely when the shank internals are cleaned with shank brush and dish washing soap. 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. I washed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the stummel surface was clean. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. As anticipated, this thorough cleaning of the shank eliminated the strong ghost smells from the chamber and now the pipe smells clean and fresh. The stummel surface has cleaned up nicely and the beautiful grain patterns are now on full display. The charring over the rim top surface in 8 o’ clock and 3 o’ clock direction (encircled in red) is significantly deeper than anticipated and the chipped areas (encircled in blue) are far deeper than I thought them to be. I shall have to resort to topping to address these damages. With the stem repairs still set aside to cure, I continued with the stummel repairs. I topped the rim top over a piece of 220 grit sand paper till I had a smooth even surface and the charred surface in 8 o’clock and  3 o’clock direction as well as the chipped areas on the outer rim edge (encircled in red) were greatly reduced. I am very happy with the appearance of the rim top and rim edges at this stage of restoration. The chipped surfaces over the outer edges that still remain will be filled with a mix of superglue and briar dust. The charred surfaces will be addressed by creating a nice bevel over the inner rim edge.   With a folded piece of worn out 180 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger, I carefully gave a bevel to the inner rim edge and addressed the issue of charred inner rim edge. After I was done with the inner rim edge repairs, I filled up the chipped areas on the outer rim edge with a mix of superglue and briar dust and set the stummel aside for the fills to cure and harden. The rim top surface and the edges look very neat at this stage with the bowl in a nice round shape. Once the fills over the outer edges are completely cured, I shall sand and match them with the rest of the edge and if need be, create a slight bevel to further even out these repairs. While the rim edge fills were set aside to cure, I turned my attention back to the stem. The new tenon was firmly attached with the stem and the glue had hardened completely. With a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper, I sand the excess glue from the stem face. With the same piece of sandpaper, I sand the tenon till I had achieved a snug fit of the tenon in to the mortise. One of the important lessons that I have learned in tenon replacement is that one should sand less and check more frequently!! I did just that and checked the seating after every circular cycle of sanding the tenon. Once the seating was snug and perfect, I seated the tenon inside the mortise and realized that the length of the tenon was more than the depth of the mortise. Thus back to sanding board, but this time I sand the tenon face on a piece of 180 grit sandpaper. Checking ever so frequently, I stopped the sanding process when I had a neat and seamless seating of the tenon in to the mortise. I am really very happy with this tenon replacement and the seating is as flush as when it was new!! With the tenon replacement completed to my satisfaction, I moved on to the cosmetic refurbishing of the stem. I wiped the stem surface with Murphy’s Oil soap and a cotton swab. The oil soap removes the loose surface oxidation and leaves behind the deep seated oxidation over the stem surface. Thereafter began the arduous and time consuming process of sanding the stem with 220, 400, 600 and finally 800 grit sandpapers. I rubbed a generous quantity of EVO deep in to the vulcanite and set the stem aside for the oil to be absorbed in to the surface. Did I mention the tons of elbow grease that I had to spend on getting the stem to the state that is seen below? Well, the long and short of removal of oxidation from the stem is that I had to invest about 7 long back breaking hours of efforts. How I miss Abha’s help and the magic of Mark Hoover’s stem oxidation removing solution!! While I cleaned up the stem, the outer rim edge had cured and with a flat head needle file I sand the fills to achieve a rough match with the rest of the rim edge. I further blend in the fills with a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper. To address the minor dings that remained over the outer rim edge, I created a slight bevel to the outer rim edge with a folded piece of worn out 180 grit sand paper. The repairs have blended in nicely with the outer edge and the the outer rim edge looks nice.Next, I sand the entire stummel with a piece of 220 grit sand paper to address the minor scratches and dings that would otherwise show after micromesh polishing cycle. 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. 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 and gave a vigorous buff with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. 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. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I polished the stem by wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. I wiped the stem with moist cloth after each pad. I rubbed a little quantity of “Before and After Fine/ Extra Fine” stem polish. This product developed by Mark Hoover helps to remove minor scratches from the stem surface while further eliminating what little oxidation that remained on the stem surface. I rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rejuvenate the vulcanite. The finished stem is shown below. I am pretty pleased with this appearance of the stem.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 finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and coupled with the size, heft and the hand feel, makes it quite a desirable pipe. P.S. I sincerely apologize for the poor quality of pictures that I have clicked of the finished pipe. I am still experimenting with my props, light setting and camera settings to take better quality of pictures to highlight the grains and finish of the completed pipe.

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 Simple Clean Up of a Double Walled GoedeWaagen Apple Bowl Pipe


Blog by Paresh

About two months ago, I had worked on a battered and abused, but well loved meerschaum line Orlik Bent Brandy pipe from an estate lot of 40 pipes that I had acquired about eight/ nine months ago. That was the third pipe from the lot that I had refurbished, the first being a huge Real Cherry wood pipe and the second was a Corn Cob with a long Albatross wing bone. Here is the link to the three 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/

https://rebornpipes.com/2020/06/11/a-second-inning-for-a-meerschaum-lined-orlik-bent-brandy/

The fourth pipe from this lot and currently on my work table is beautiful brightly colored straight Apple with a tapered yellow variegated stem with swirls of black. The first three pipes that I had worked on are marked with yellow, green and indigo arrows while the fourth pipe that is currently on my work table is shown in the third picture marked in pastel blue colored arrow. The eye catching candy colored attractively Apple shaped pipe screams “PARTY” and feels ultra light in hand. The shank end is adorned with a brass band. It is stamped on the brass band as “GOEDEWAAGEN” over “MADE IN HOLLAND”. There is no shape code or stamping on either the stummel or the acrylic stem.   The stamping on the brass band gave me a definitive direction to my quest to know about this brand. I turned to my favorite site, rebornpipes.com, to know more about the brand and sure enough, Steve had worked on a couple of GoedeWaagen pipes and researched it in detail. Given below is the link for the readers who are interested in knowing about this pipe from Holland.

https://rebornpipes.com/2017/10/21/cleaning-up-a-pair-of-goedewaagen-delft-ceramic-pipes/

Steve has included a picture of these pipes that gives out the construction and functioning of the pipe which I have reproduced below.I searched pipedia.org for more information on the Maker and brand of GoedeWaagen. I have reproduced the information contained on the site and also the link to the webpage.  https://pipedia.org/wiki/GoedeWaagen

Dirck GoedeWaagen became a master pipemaker on January 1, 1779 and took on his first assistant the following month. Soon after Dirck’s grandson fell in love with and married a girl from the illustrious De Jong family, legendary in the ceramic pipemakers guild in Gouda. He built a workshop in the Keizerstraat in Gouda, which continued for two generations until his grandson Abraham GoedeWaagen moved the company to a new location.

In 1853, Pieter Goedewaagen purchased his father-in-law’s factory “De Star”, which becomes the basis of the modern GoedeWaagen Company. In approximately 1880, Abraham’s grandson Aart GoedeWaagen persuaded his father Pieter to expand the business with an eye towards more models of pipes, and P. GoedeWaagen & Sons was founded in response. Within ten years the firm had hundreds of models and P. GoedeWaagen & Son was exporting pipes around the globe.

GoedeWaagen continued to make pipes, but also began acquiring other ceramics firms, including ‘De Distel’ in 1923, and in so doing acquiring the expertise to make decorated ceramics other than clay pipes. It is at this time that the company is granted a Royal charter and by the 1930’s Royal Goedewaagen is one of the top names in Dutch ceramics.

While Goedewaagen pipes were originally traditional and figural clays, after the invention of the double walled clay pipe by Zenith, also a Gouda company, Goedewaagen began producing pipes in that commonly seen style, which they marketed as The Baronite Pipe, advertised for its clean smoking and health benefits. Since the company’s bankruptcy in 1982, however, they have made only the occasional souvenir pipe, including a line commemorating Holland’s monarchs.

There is a mention of “Zenith” pipes and visited the page that contained information on this brand related to GoedeWaagen pipes. The article makes for an interesting read.  https://pipedia.org/wiki/Zenith

Correlating the above two, it can be safely established that the pipe is from in between the period 1920s when the double walled ceramic pipes were invented by Zenith to 1982 when GoedeWagen filed bankruptcy.

With the provenance of the pipe established and firm in my knowledge and understanding of the GoedeWaagen Brand, I move ahead with my initial visual inspection.

Initial Visual Inspection
The pipe, as it appears, is shown in the pictures below. The pipe must have hardly been smoked as the layer of cake in the chamber is very thin with very minor traces of overflow of lava over the rim top surface. The stummel is covered in clear glaze and is covered in dust and fingerprints. The stem airway is dark with dried oils and tars. Heavy tooth chatter and deep bite marks in the bite zone and button edges on either surface can be seen on the stem surface. All in all, this is a lovely pipe and should stand out in any gathering once cleaned and polished. Detailed Inspection
The chamber has an even layer of hard cake. There are traces of old oils, tars and grime that can be seen over the inner rim edge. The cake masks the condition of the chamber walls and condition of chamber walls will be determined only once the cake and lava overflow has been cleaned up. The rim top surface is in pristine condition with no dents or dings or chipped areas. The smells from the chamber are very strong. This issue of old smells will have to be addressed. A simple reaming and cleaning should make this chamber as good as new, unless we have a cracked wall or any such surprise underneath the cake.   The clear glazed double walled ceramic stummel is covered in dust and oily fingerprints and appears dull. There are no cracks, dents/ dings on the stummel surface… Not even a scratch!! The mortise is nice and clean with no traces of accumulated gunk. A simple wash and polish should get the stummel nice and shining like new.   The yellow acrylic variegated stem with dark swirls perfectly matches the candy color of the stummel and rather elevates it further. The tenon end has a cork stopper that helps in snug fit of the tenon in to the mortise. The cork stopper has a small piece that has broken off and the cork itself appears dry. The bite zone is peppered with deep tooth chatter and heavy tooth indentations over the button edges on either surface. The tenon and the air way is covered and clogged with gunk. Air way over the surface appears darkened and flow through the stem is not full and clear. The stem surface and internal first needs to be cleaned. The tooth chatter will be sanded out with 220 grit sandpaper and 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. As I was handling the stem, I realized that the tenon turned in my hand. I completely unscrewed and realized that what I thought to be a tenon was in fact a tenon extension that was screwed on to the threaded tenon. The threaded tenon and the tenon extension were covered in dried gunk and grime. The front edges of the tenon extension are up turned and sharp and I shall address them subsequently.The threaded tenon and the tenon extension were cleaned with soft brass wired brush and cotton swabs wetted with alcohol. 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 cleaned the external surface of the stem with a Scotch Brite gauze and liquid dish washing soap. Next I addressed the issue of broken cork piece. I cut a piece of wine cork and roughly shaped it to match the missing cork piece. I stuck the new piece in place with clear CA superglue taking care that I did not foul up the threads on the tenon. I set the repairs aside for the glue to harden.  I wiped the stem with a cotton pad and alcohol. 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 had completely forgotten about the tenon extension amidst the other processes. The tenon extension was covered in oils and tars that had dried out and set hard over the surface. I cleaned it with shank brush, hard bristled toothbrush and dish washing soap. Once the tenon extension was cleaned, I observed that the tenon extension also bears the stamp “GoedeWaagen”. I still have to address the up turned and sharp front edges in the tenon extension.    Next, I reamed the chamber with my fabricated knife to take the cake down to the ceramic walls. Truth be told, the use of the knife was restricted only to scraping the surface in an attempt to dislodge the cake as I did not want to subject the ceramic to excessive force of a reamer head. With a 150 grit sand paper, the walls of the chamber were rid of all the remnants of the cake. I further wiped the chamber with a cotton swab wetted with alcohol to remove the carbon dust that remained. I wiped the traces of lava overflow from the rim edges with cotton swab and alcohol. The chamber walls are pristine with no damage and the rim top also cleaned up nicely.  I cleaned the shank internals first with hard and regular pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol. Thereafter, I rinsed the areas between the double walled chamber and the shank with warm water. The shank internals are now clean and fresh.    As I was wiping the stummel after the internal wash of the shank, the brass band came loose. The thick white ceramic paste that held the brass band over the shank end had dried up completely. I scraped the dried ceramic paste from the shank end surface and also from the insides of the brass band.   With the stummel internals clean and fresh, I moved ahead with cleaning the external surface of the stummel. I wiped the stummel surface with Murphy’s Oils soap on a cotton swab. I rinsed the stummel under warm running water and wiped it dry with a soft cotton cloth.   I cleaned the brass band with an all purpose liquid polish and worked up a nice shine to the brass band.   The cork repair had cured completely. With a flat head needle file, I sand the excess cork to match the rest of the cork surface. I further sand the cork to achieve a perfect match.  Next 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 and sand the entire stem with 400, 600 and 800 grit sandpapers. 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. 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.   With the stem repairs and polishing completed, I turn my attention back to the stummel. I stuck the brass band to the shank end with all purpose glue and set it aside for the glue to set completely.    I evened out the sharp and up turned edges of the tenon extension by rolling them out with the middle round potion of a screw driver. I further smooth out the edges by sanding it down with a piece of 180 grit sandpaper. To bring a nice shine to the tenon extension, I polish it further by dry sanding it with 12000 grit micromesh pad. All through the process, I was careful to preserve the stamping on the surface of the tenon extension.   I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the stummel 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. Though the balm works best over the briar wood, it has been my experience that it works nicely on other stummel surfaces like Meerschaums and now ceramic. The balm imparts a nice sheen over this alternative stummel material which is as good as that over briar wood.    I applied a generous quantity of petroleum jelly over the cork stopper to rejuvenate and moisten the cork.    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 yellow variegated stem with dark swirls elevates the fun quotient of the pipe and is very appealing to the eye. P.S. The next time once this pandemic is over and things return to normal, I shall take this attractive pipe to one of the gatherings, just to check out the reactions of the gathered people.

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…

 

Refurbishing an Intricately Carved Old Meerschaum Eagle Claw Holding an Egg


Blog by Paresh

The next pipe on my work table is an old intricately carved meerschaum Eagle claw holding an egg in its talons. The stummel has an intricately carved shape of an eagle claw complete with perfectly carved scales and claw knuckles. The shank extension is a beautiful colored amber hexagonal block with copper end adornments. The delicate thin horn stem has a threaded bone tenon with orifice slot. There is no stamping whatsoever anywhere on this pipe. The lack of stamping makes it impossible to establish the origins of this pipe. However, the intricate carvings and eye for details on this pipe makes me believe this pipe to be Vienna made. Here is the pipe as it sits on my work table. Initial Visual Inspection
The pipe comes apart in three sections. The first is the meerschaum stummel carved to resemble an eagle’s claw that holds an egg; the second is a block of beautifully colored amber with six chiseled sides. The shank end and the stem end of this hexagonal amber block are adorned with decorated copper end adornments. The airway through the amber shank extension appears to be made of bone which extends out and seats into the mortise. Lastly is the delicate thin bent horn stem with matching threaded tenon end face and the orifice slot end face and appears akin to the triangular head of a grasshopper.There is a light build up of cake in the chamber that has dried and is crumbly due to prolonged storage. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be ascertained only after the cake has been removed completely. No apparent cracks or damage to the stummel surface is seen from the outside. The rim top has darkened due to overflow of lava and burn marks. There are a large number of dings and chips to the rim top which are visible through the lava overflow. The right side of the outer edge of the rim is severely damaged (enclosed in red), the result of striking the edge against a hard surface to remove dottle, presenting lop sided appearance to the rim on to the right. The inner edge of the rim on the left side appears thin in 8 o’clock direction (enclosed in blue) and combined with the damaged left outer edge gives the appearance of out of round chamber. The inner rim edge is dented and chipped in few places. Topping the rim surface and creating bevels should address these issues satisfactorily. The stummel is exquisitely carved with intricate details of the scales and knuckles replicated real like!! The four talons are all intact and perfectly shaped. The stummel had developed a nice patina from years of usage. Every nook and cranny of the carvings is filled with dirt and dust from years of uncared for storage giving a very dull and dirty appearance to the stummel. The short shank is a flared round and flumed and there are a few scratches on the surface. The mortise is lined with cork and is intact all around. The mortise has strong odors akin to some sort of soap smell (?), a smell that I have not come across as yet. Cleaning of the stummel to dislodge all the grime and dust from the carving will have to be a deliberate effort. Preserving the old cork lining at the shank end while cleaning the shank and mortise will be a challenge as the cork is susceptible to easy crumbling.   The hexagonal large block of Amber shank extension has developed a crack towards the tenon end (indicated with yellow arrow). This crack is deep but thankfully has not progressed all the way down to the airway. The amber is also chipped (indicated with green arrow) in one place just above the crack. The decorative copper end pieces are decoratively cast and serve the dual purpose of protecting the amber end face while adding a very classic bling to the appearance of the pipe. The copper adornments and the block amber piece are joined by a hollow bone that extends out as tenon. The amber is loose with gap in between the copper adornments and would need to be fixed. The threaded stem end copper adornment is full of old oils and tar accumulations. The tenon end of the copper adornment appears to have had some sort of packing/ separator between the metal and meerschaum shank end that has now worn out and disintegrated.  The horn stem is very delicate and thin that is full bent. The profile of the stem lends the entire pipe a tapered profile that is both delicate and attractive. The peculiarity of this stem is that the tenon end and the slot are identical in shape and size. The bite zone on either surface of the stem has been chewed up and with the horn fibers exposed. The thin delicate buttons on upper and lower stem surface have deep tooth indentations. The tenon end of the stem is heavily scratched. The threaded bone tenon is covered in oils and tars. One of the challenges in this project would be to match the tenon end and orifice slot end profile.The Process
I started this project by reaming the chamber with my smaller fabricated knife and scraped out all the carbon from chamber. I used a 220 grit sand paper, pinched between my thumb and forefinger, to sand the inner walls of the chamber of the pipe. Once I had reached the bare walls, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This removed all the residual carbon dust and also rid the chamber of all ghost smells. The walls of the chamber are nice and solid with no signs of cracks. Using a sharp knife, I gently scraped out the overflow of lava from the rim top. The dents and chips on the rim surface are now clearly visible and so is the extent of damage to the outer edge of the rim. The inner rim edge too shows a few chipped spots along the edge. I followed up the reaming of the chamber with cleaning of the mortise and air way of the pipe using hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners, q-tips dipped in alcohol. The mortise and the draught hole were given a final clean with shank brushes dipped in alcohol. The shank internals and the draught hole are now nice and clean with an open and full draw. This was easier said than done. The pipe cleaners would not pass through the draught hole for the love of money!! A great deal of poking and prodding with a straightened paper clip got me there.Next I cleaned the internals of the stem and shank extension with pipe cleaners and alcohol. I followed up the internal cleaning of the stummel, shank extension and the stem with external cleaning. I cleaned the external surface of all the three parts with Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush/ shank brush. The stummel surface cleaned up nicely. The scratches and dents and dings over the stummel and shank extension surface are now clearly visible. The crack in the block amber in the shank extension is wider and deeper than I had anticipated since the dirt and grime which was embedded in the crack has now been cleaned. The external cleaning was followed by carefully removing old and now moistened wax and gunk that remained embedded in the many nooks and crannies of the intricate carvings over the stummel surface using sharp dental tools. The stummel is now truly cleaned and prepared for the next step in restoration.   I scraped off the old remnants of the packing from the tenon end of the shank extension. This would provide a fresh and clean surface for a new packing between the shank extension and the shank end to protect and provide an airtight seal between the shank end cork lining and the copper adornment at the shank extension end. I intend to use a leather gasket (if I can find one!) to seal the joint between the shank extension and the shank end. It was at this stage that while cleaning the tenon of the shank extension that realization dawned on me that the tenon is not bone as I had appreciated but WOOD!! The wood tenon even has part of the old bark covering the tenon (encircled in green). I decided to let the piece of bark remain on the tenon to preserve the originality of the pipe. Next, I decided to address the crack, chipped surface in the amber and also the gaps between the amber block and copper adornments. I filled the crack, chipped portion and the gaps with clear superglue and set the amber shank extension aside for the glue to cure.  With the amber shank extension set aside to cure, I addressed the bit marks on the horn stem. I start by sanding the bite zone with a piece of 180 grit sand paper. I filled the bite marks on both lower and upper surfaces of the horn stem with clear superglue. Once the glue had set, I layered superglue over the button in the bite zone as well as over the tenon end and set the stem aside for the glue to completely cure. Once the glue at the either ends of the stem has cured, I shall sand the fill to match the button in the bite zone and at the tenon end.   Now that the amber shank extension and horn stem had been set aside for the superglue fill to cure, I turned my attention to address the stummel issues. To address the darkened and out-of-round rim as well as the dings to the rim edges,, I first top the rim surface on a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper. Once the darkened areas were addressed, with a folded piece of worn out 180 grit sandpaper pinched between my forefinger and thumb, I create a slight bevel over the inner and outer rim edges till all the dings were removed and the out of round issue was reduced to a large extent.   I set the stummel aside and checked the stem fills. The glue had hardened completely. With a flat head needle file, I sand the fills on upper and lower surface and reconstruct the button edges at either ends of the horn stem. With a folded piece of 320 grit sandpaper, I sand the entire stem surface, including the button edges, to blend and smooth out the repaired surfaces. I rubbed a generous amount of EVO in to the stem to rehydrate it and set the stem aside for the oil to be absorbed.    All the while that I was working on the stummel and the stem, the repairs to the amber shank extension were curing nicely. Once the glue had completely hardened, with a flat needle file, I sand off the excess fill to achieve a rough match with the surrounding amber surface. I further blend in the repairs by sanding the entire amber block with a folded piece of 320 grit sandpaper. Now moving on to the most tedious and time consuming process of polishing the three parts of the pipe with micromesh pads. I wet sand the entire stem and the block amber shank extension with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. I wiped these parts with a moist cloth to note the progress being made. Once I was done polishing with all the pads, I rubbed a small quantity of EVO in to the stem to rehydrate it. I am happy with the progress being made thus far.    I polished the top of the bowl and rim edges with micromesh pads to remove the dark surface that still remained on the surface. I wet sand the entire stummel with 1500-12000 grit pads. I diligently worked around the intricately carved scales and knuckles of the claw to polish these carvings. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth to remove the dust that was left behind by the sanding. I wanted to minimize the scratching but not necessarily remove them. These lacerations and dings must have had a history and I wanted to preserve it.   I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the meerschaum stummel. I rubbed this balm deep in to the nooks and crannies of the carvings with my fingers and let it rest for a few minutes. Though I use the balm on briars, I have seen Steve use it on meerschaums as well and it really helps to bring out the patina that has developed on the meerschaum!! I am very pleased with the way the meer bowl appears at this stage.   Next, I polish the copper adornments at either ends of the block amber shank extension with a multi-purpose polishing liquid. I wiped it clean with a soft cotton cloth and gave a final polish with a jeweler’s cloth. Wow!! These copper adornments are now looking fantabulous and add a very chic and classy look to the appearance of the pipe.The only aspect, and functional aspect at that, to remain unaddressed was the gasket at the tenon end of the shank extension. I had thought of using a soft leather gasket as it is easy to shape and would provide an air tight seal. However, I could not lay my hands on one and neither could fabricate one. I discussed this with Abha, my wife, about the non availability of leather gasket. Always the problem solver, she promptly suggested using cork!! This solution was both practical and most likely original to the pipe. I selected a piece of cork that comes from wine bottle/ whiskey cap. With a sharp paper cutter, I carefully cut a couple of very thin round rings. I cut a hole of the size of tenon in the middle and stuck it to the end of the tenon end face of the copper adornment with superglue. I tried the seating of the tenon in to the mortise. It was snug and a perfect fit.   To complete the restoration of this pipe, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and applied White Diamond compound to each of the three pipe parts. I wiped/ buffed the pipe with a soft cotton cloth to clear it of any leftover compound dust.   I then mounted another cotton cloth wheel on to the polishing machine and applied several coats of carnauba wax over the stummel, amber shank extension and the stem. I finished the restoration by giving the pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. Admiring the pipe, it made me wonder, did he really have a spirit which kept him ticking after having suffered the kind of abuse which was evident from all the lacerations, dents and dings and chips. But he has survived his past nonetheless and will continue on his warpath with me…Cheers!! P.S. I wish to thank all the esteemed readers for being a part of my journey as I walked through this project.

Praying for you and your loved ones in these troubled pandemic spread. Stay Home and Stay Safe!!