Tag Archives: Paresh Deshpande article

A Challenging Restoration of Vintage Era First Choquin “A Metz”


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I had been on a short leave to my home town last month and that is where this happened!!!!! Even though there are still a number of pipes from the two of the three inherited boxes of pipes waiting their turn for restoration, curiosity got the better of me and I could not resist the temptations of opening the third box. What happened thereafter is that I had to unpack all the pipes earmarked to accompany me to my work place for restoration in my free time which in turn invited the wrath of my wife who had helped in packing in the first place, and repack the newly selected pipes from the third box!!!!!! In addition to the regular collection of Barling’s, Charatan’s, Comoy’s and other assorted collection, I came across two pipes which caught my fancy!!!!!The pipe on the left bears a football stamp that reads “CHOQUIN” over “A METZ” and the one on the right side simply reads “GBD”  (there are other stampings on the silver ferrule, details of which will be highlighted when it comes up for restoration). Both these pipes looked vintage and unique enough that I immediately Facetimed with Mr. Steve of rebornpipes. His admission that he is willing for a trade with me for these two pipes was an indication enough for me to know and understand their uniqueness!!! Thus these two pipes moved to the top of my unorganized and chaotic list of restoration.

The pipe first on my work table is the CHOQUIN. It is a huge pipe with a humongous acorn shaped smooth briar bowl with a steeply raking shank, the end of which is adorned by a fixed sterling silver ornamented ferrule. This similarly designed sterling silver also masks the tenon of the horn stem.The shank and the horn stem are connected by a push-fit type bone extension. The huge acorn bowl shows beautiful, large and loosely packed birdseye grain on the right side while mixed grain adorns the left side. The stummel on the front, back and the shank displays densely packed straight grains. The only stamping that is seen on this pipe is the football stamp on the left side of the shank and reads “CHOQUIN” over “A METZ”. For its age, the stamping is crisp and clear.This time around, before commencing the restoration process, I posted the pictures of this pipe on the Tobacco Pipe Restorers group on Facebook as my next project. In addition to input from my mentor, Mr. Steve, I collected a lot of valuable information from all the knowledgeable stalwarts. From all the input that I have gathered, the flat bottom bowl, the stamping, the sterling silver adornments, the bone shank extension and horn stem, I can safely place this piece as being one of the first A Metz pipes from the 1858 era!!!!!

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
Well, even before I could start my initial visual inspection, I faced the first of the many numerous hurdles that I had to overcome during the restoration of this pipe. The shank extension and the stem would not budge even a millimeter to separate from the shank and the bone extension respectively. I remembered Mr. Steve referring to the technique of freezing the stuck parts in the freezer for a couple of hours for easy separation. I followed his advice and had to put the complete pipe in the freezer for a couple of hours as it could not be dismantled. True enough, the horn stem separated from the shank extension with the application of a little force, but the extension would not budge from the shank!!!! So I went back to Mr. Steve to tap in to his wealth of knowledge and experience. He suggested that I should apply the method of “Hot and Cold” shock treatment in which you gently and carefully heat the stuck part using a heat gun and then get it back in to the freezer. This process may need to be repeated a number of times before the parts separate. Well, I did exactly that, albeit heating with a hair dryer as I did not have a heat gun, and after 3/4 attempts, the extension finally separated from the shank!!!!The first thing that I noticed was that the shank extension and the mortise were completely filled with oils, tars and grime. The shank extension was filled to an extent that a pipe cleaner would not pass through!!!! How very much typical of my Old Man!!!!!!! Through all this muck, just a swipe of the bone extension with a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol revealed no apparent damage to the shank extension. Cleaning this would need to be a very careful, meticulous, time consuming and a tedious process given the delicate structure of such a vintage bone. Likewise, the tenon also was filled with oils and grime. Air flow through the stem was laborious to say the least!!! Both the upper and lower surface of the horn stem shows significant damage. The lower surface is peppered with 3-4 worm holes with one significantly larger than the other. Thankfully, it had not migrated through the upper surface!!!! The tenon is completely and permanently encased in the sterling silver ornament. The condition of the stummel was an equally horrendous story. Firstly, the rim top is heavily covered in overflowing lava. The overflow is so heavy that it has accumulated over the rim surface in blobs of dried tar and tobacco oil which can be seen in the subsequent pictures. This overflow had not restricted itself to accumulation on the rim top, but has spilled on to the stummel surface covering the stummel in sticky grime which has attracted more dirt and dust giving the stummel a dull and lackluster appearance. The overflowing lava has even accumulated in the junction where the shank and bowl are joined.  Some dents and dings are seen on the surface through the overflow and I do not envisage any major issue like the ones I faced while working on an Imperial Yello-Bole Carburetor that I had I restored. However through all this dirt, tar, oil, grime and damage, lovely grains can be seen on the sides and the shank. It will be a challenge to address these issues and make the grains to reveal themselves in all glory. The chamber is no different story!!! There is a thick build up of cake in the chamber. The inner edge of the rim is covered under the thick cake and as such, its condition can be commented upon only after the cake has been scrapped. The outer edge of the rim, however, shows significant damage in the form of dents, dings and deep scratches to the front in 12 o’clock direction. The cause for this damage is….. Oh, forget it, let’s not even go there!!!! The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be ascertained only after the chamber has been completely reamed devoid of any cake, but I do not foresee any major damages here as the stummel feels solid to the touch and this huge solid piece of briar can sustain some serious damage. You have to feel the stummel in your hand to understand what I am trying to write. It is one heavy and handful of a pipe!!!!The sterling silver ferrule and tenon ornament was black as is typically seen in heavily oxidized silver. However through all this discoloration, delicate, intricate decorative design can be appreciated. This is another pointer towards the vintage of this pipe.THE PROCESS
I started the process of restoration by polishing the sterling silver ornaments at the shank end and tenon with pipe ash as suggested by Mr. Steve. This was followed by reaming the chamber with size two of the PipNet reamer head and progressing through to size four. Yes Sirs, there is no typo error!!! It is indeed PipNet and not a Kleen Reem reamer as you have gotten used to reading in my write ups !!!!!! Mr. Steve has sent me a set along with some beautiful pipes that I had got from him. I followed up the reaming with scrapping the remnants of the cake from the walls, flat bottom of the chamber and the rim top surface with my fabricated knife (Oh, how I long for a Sav Fitsall reaming knife!!! Hope you are reading this Steve Sir). The cake was so hard, that I invariably ended up scratching the flat bottom surface while scraping. 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 the inner walls of the chamber surface. Finally, to remove the carbon dust, I wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 99%. I gently scrapped the rim top surface with a sharp knife. Removing all the cake from the chamber and rim top revealed that firstly, the rim was out of round and secondly was a web of fissures along the internal walls. There was one crack, which showed prominently after a cleanup with Murphy’s oil soap, bothered me and can be seen in the pictures below which has been highlighted by a red circle. I shared these images with Mr. Steve and Mr. Dal Stanton for their opinion as to the extent of damage and further repairs. They too expressed fears that the crack may have migrated through the stummel. Mr. Steve suggested picking the crack on the top of the rim using a toothpick and filling it with CA superglue. I decided that I would address this issue later after further investigations. I cleaned the internals of the shank, shank extension and the stem using hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners, q-tips, shank brushes, all generously dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I had never used such drastic measures like initially cleaning the bone shank extension by carefully inserting a round needle file for creating an opening through which pipe cleaners could pass through for subsequent cleaning. The heap of pipe cleaners and q-tips that are seen in these pictures are just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. I must have gone through an entire packet of 50 of both types of pipe cleaners, in addition to the q-tips and brush cleaning!!!!! To further deep clean and refresh the internals, I used cotton and alcohol soaks. Using a cotton ball to create a wick, I inserted it through the mortise and into the airway. I then stuffed the bowl with tightly packed cotton balls and placed it in bowl filled with rice grains to provide stability. Similarly I made a tight cotton wick and inserted it through the bone shank extension to further remove all the oils, tars and smells. With a large eye dropper, I then filled the bowl and the bone shank extension with isopropyl 99% until it surfaced over the cotton. I refilled the alcohol in a few minutes after it was absorbed into the cotton balls. I put the stummel and the bone shank extension aside for several hours to soak. After some time, the cotton and the wick were soiled. I discarded the expended cotton and wiped the bowl and the bone shank extension with paper towel. To make sure all was clean, I used a cotton bud and pipe cleaner dipped in isopropyl 99% and they came out clean. I cleaned the stummel with undiluted Murphy’s oil soap and Scotch- Brite pad and rinsed the stummel under running tap water. This cleaning helps in bringing to the fore any other damage which could be hidden under all the dirt and grime. Fortunately, there were no major dents, dings or gouges to the stummel. There were a few minor ones which I think would be addressed when I would sand the stummel surface and subsequent micromesh polish. I dried the bowl with a paper towel and soft cotton cloth. Initially I had decided that I would not be topping the rim top and maintain its original profile. However, in order to ascertain if the crack had migrated through the stummel, I decided to top the rim surface. This would also help to address the numerous dents, dings and scratches on the rim’s top surface and also to remove traces of lava overflow. I topped the rim surface on a 220 grit sand paper. Though it is recommended to have a wooden board with the 220 grit sand paper firmly fixed over it, I just keep the sand paper on a flat table top, holding it firmly with my left hand and rotating the stummel rim top over it with my right hand. I have come to realize that this set up gives me lot more freedom of movement, better control and convenience of storage. Fortunately, it was revealed that the supposed crack was superficial and had not migrated through. Staying with the rim, the next issue that I addressed was the inner rim edge. With a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and fore finger, I created a light bevel on the inner edge. This addressed the issue of uneven and out of round inner edge. The damage to the outer edge was addressed to a great extent when I had topped the rim top surface. Whatever little dents and nicks that remained on the outer edge were very minor, though visible, and I decided to let them be.I sand the stummel surface with a 220, 320, 600 and 1000 grit sand paper, in that order, to remove the minor scratches and marks on the rim and stummel surface. I frequently wiped the sanded surface with a moist cloth to remove the briar dust and also to check the progress of my work. Once I was satisfied with the match, I followed it up by micromesh polishing pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads. Again, I wiped the bowl with a moist cotton cloth after each pad. I used the 3200 to 12000 grit pads to dry sand the stummel to a nice shine. I was disappointed when after all my efforts up to this stage; there were some very minute chips that were visible in pictures. But overall, at this stage of restoration, the entire bowl, rim top surface and shank is looking fresh and clean. Even though some of the dents and chips could not be completely addressed and are visible only on very close visual scrutiny, in my view, they lend this pipe a battle scarred warrior like a character. I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” with my fingers deep in to the stummel surface. What this balm does is it revitalizes the briar wood and breathes a new life in to the briar. It’s amazing to see the transformation as the balm works its magic on the briar wood. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. Turning my attention to the horn stem, I cleaned the stem surface, including the worm holes, with q-tips dipped in isopropyl alcohol to remove all the dirt and dust before the fill. I filled the worm hole on the bottom and top surface with clear CA superglue and set it aside to cure.  Once the superglue had cured, I sanded the fills with a flat head needle file. To further match the fills with the surface of the stem, I sanded it with 220, 320, 600 and 1000 grit sand paper. I wiped the stem with cotton pad dipped in alcohol to remove the resultant dust. I rubbed some extra virgin olive oil in to the stem and set it aside to be absorbed in to stem. A few minutes later, I polished the stem and also the bone shank extension with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000. I rubbed a little extra virgin olive oil in to both after every three pads. The stem is now nice, smooth and shiny while the extension though smooth and shiny, still had the golden brownish hues of the tobacco oils and tars. I was wondering as to next course of action, Mr. David Goostree, an experienced member from The Tobacco Pipe Restorer group on FB, provided valuable information that the bone is similar to a Meer and absorbs oils from the tobacco and colours just like a meerschaum. Another issue taken care of!!! To finish the restoration, I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel (actually it is not the brand machine, but a local machine which is similar).  I set the speed at about 40% full power and applied White Diamond compound to the entire pipe.  Afterwards, 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 to the polishing machine, maintaining 40% speed 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. In my excitement mixed with apprehension in using the polishing and waxes for the first time, I completely missed out on taking any pictures. The completed pipe looks lovely, fresh and vibrant. Thank you for having the patience to reach this far while reading the write up. Your comments are of utmost importance to me for improving my skills in restoration process as well as writing about it. Cheers!!!!!

PS: – During this journey of restoring this beauty, I had, on occasions felt low and demoralized as issues kept cropping up like the supposed crack to the stummel, the shank extension not supposedly cleaning up as I had incorrectly anticipated and the 2/3 occasions when the my polishing machine slipped on the surface and caused very minor scratches on the stummel. However, my Guru and mentor, Mr. Steve was always around with his words of wisdom and encouragement to egg me on towards completing this project. Thank you once again, Mr. Steve. I would like to thank all the esteemed members of “The Tobacco Pipe Restorer” group on FB for their interest and valuable inputs, which made this project interesting.

Advertisements

Reclaiming a Yello-Bole “Imperial Carburator” Vest Pipe


Blog by Paresh Despande

Having worked on the four Free Hand pipes that I had purchased on eBay, it was time again to work on one of my grandfather’s pipe from my inheritance. I chose to work on the second “Imperial Yello-Bole Carburetor” from his collection. The first had a cracked shank and was restored by my Guru and mentor, Mr. Steve of rebornpipes, here is the link for the write up (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/04/15/pareshs-grandfathers-pipe-2-a-yello-bole-carburetor-4522-billiard/).

This particular pipe was in a battered condition with significant damage to the inner and outer edges of the rim, a large number of chips, dents and dings to the bowl and shank, two deep gouges to the bowl and a heavily oxidized stem. I was not very sure if at all I should attempt at its restoration as I knew that to mask the repairs/ fills to the gouges and chips on the bowl and the shank, I would need to stain it with a darker stain followed by a delicate polish to make the grains pop and here I was, with neither materials nor experience to carry out staining and subsequent polishing. However, Mr. Steve encouraged me to go ahead and restore it nevertheless and keep the natural finish of the pipe and the scars of the repairs as a testimony of the pipe’s journey till date!!!! Well, it always pays to follow the advice of your mentor and I embarked upon this journey to give a fresh lease of life to this old and battered war-horse!!!

The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank as “Imperial” in fancy cursive hand over “YELLO-BOLE” in block letters while the right side of the shank bears the stamp of “MADE IN FRANCE” starting from the shank end towards the bowl and followed by the model(?) number “648” or is it “64 B”? I have this doubt since I could find a match to this shape and size during my research as per the latter stamp, but the stamp appears as former to my eyes!!!! The center bottom of the pipe has a single hole, lined by an aluminum cone, open at both ends, which protrudes into the chamber. This is followed by “carburetor” in fancy cursive small letters. The stem is devoid of any stampings or logo. Before commencing the restoration, I decided to refresh my memory about Yello-Bole pipe brand and in particular, the Carburetor model, by visiting the blog written by Mr. Steve while restoring my first Yello-Bole. The first thing that struck me as odd was the difference in stampings seen on the pipe which is on my work table!!! The pipe currently on my work table is sans the stamp of KBB in clover leaf, U.S. patent number details, Cured with real honey, stem logo of a yellow circular ring and has shape number in three digits as against four on the one restored by Mr. Steve. However, the biggest and most significant difference which has me flummoxed was the stamping “MADE IN FRANCE”!!!!!!! No amount of research and surfing the internet provided me any clue as regards the origin and dating of this piece of briar.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The first and foremost significant visual damage is seen to the rim top, inner and outer edges. It appears that the rim has been repeatedly banged against a hard surface to remove residual dottle over a prolonged period of time!!!! The damage to the rim top is in the form of dings and scratches while significant chipping and cinching is seen on the outer edge. The inner edge of the rim is out of round, apparently caused by use of a knife to remove the carbon cake. The overflow of lava from the rim top appears to be removed by scrapping the surface with a knife and in the process causing all the scratches and dings to the surface. There is a thin layer of cake on the bottom half of the chamber and appears to be a victim of over reamed chamber. The carburetor hole at the bottom of the chamber is clogged and will require to be cleaned. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber will be ascertained only after the chamber has been stripped completely of the existing cake layer.The second most significantly damaged part of the pipe is the stummel. It is covered in oils, dirt and grime of all these years of smoking and subsequent uncared for storage. The stummel surface is sticky to the touch, giving the stummel a dull, lifeless and lackluster appearance. It is peppered with a large number of chips, dents and dings. There are two significant gouges on the stummel; one on the left hand side towards the bottom and the second one is one the right hand side about an inch below the rim top. Overall, the stummel has sustained massive damage over the years due to both, rough usage and careless storage. However through all this dirt, tar, oil, grime and damage, lovely densely packed straight grains can be seen on the sides and shank. It will be a challenge to address these issues and make the grains to reveal themselves in all glory. The shank too is peppered with numerous minor dents and chips on the bottom surface as well as on the right side of the shank. The mortise is clogged and the air flow is constricted and the draw is laborious. This will need to be addressed by thorough cleaning of the same. The saddle stem is heavily oxidized with bite marks on both upper and lower surface of the stem. The lip too shows bite marks and will need to be redefined. The aluminum stinger is firmly attached inside the tenon and could not be removed. It is covered in oils, tars and grime from all the years of smoking and it appears that it has hardened, fixing the stinger inside the tenon.THE PROCESS
I started the process of restoration by reaming the chamber with my fabricated knife as the protruding aluminum cone of the carburetor prevented use of the Kleen Reem pipe reamer. 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 the inner walls of the chamber surface. It was a big relief to note that there was no issue of heat fissures or cracks seen on the surface.To address the numerous dents, dings and scratches on the rim’s top surface and also to remove traces of lava overflow, I topped the rim surface on a 220 grit sand paper. Since the damage to the rim top was significant, I had applied more pressure than usual. Though it is recommended to have a wooden board with the 220 grit sand paper firmly fixed over it, I just keep the sand paper on a flat table top, holding it firmly with my left hand and rotating the stummel rim top over it with my right hand. I have come to realize that this set up gives me lot more freedom of movement, better control and convenience of storage.Staying with the rim, the next issue that I addressed was the rim edges, both inner and outer. With a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and fore finger, I created a bevel on the inner edge. This addressed the issue of uneven and out of round inner edge. For addressing the outer edge, I had two options; first was to top the rim surface till the entire damaged outer rim surface was sanded out, maintaining the straight rim edge profile of the stummel. The disadvantage of this would be a significant loss of briar estate!!! The second (and easier too!!!) option was to create a bevel on the outer edge, sacrificing the original profile of the stummel. However, I envisaged that the bevel to the outer edge would add a new depth and dimension to the profile of the pipe while saving loss of briar. That decided, I created a bevel on the outer edge. Both the inner and outer edges now look much better and add a new dimension to the otherwise plain-Jane billiard shape of the bowl. I cleaned the stummel with Murphy’s oil soap and hard bristled toothbrush and rinsed the stummel under running tap water. This cleaning helps in bringing to the fore any other damage which could be hidden under all the dirt and grime. I dried the bowl with a paper towel and soft cotton cloth. With a thin, sharp and pointed knife, I cleaned out all the fills and gouges. I scrubbed the stummel surface clean with isopropyl alcohol to have a clean surface for a fresh fill. I decided to move ahead with only CA superglue for filling the chips and gouges. I spot filled these chips and gouges with superglue and set it aside for curing. Turning my attention to the stem, I flamed the surface with a Bic lighter to raise the tooth chatter and deeper bite marks to the surface as much as is possible. I followed it up with sanding the stem surface with a 220 grit sand paper to match the raised bite marks with the stem surface and also remove the oxidation before the fill. The deeper bite marks were filled with CA superglue and set aside to cure. After the fills on the stummel had completely cured, I sanded these with a flat head needle file to match them with the stummel surface. This was followed by sanding the fills and the stummel surface to achieve a match as well as remove the minor scratches and cinches on the surface. I frequently wiped the sanded surface with a moist cloth to remove the briar dust and also to check the progress of my work. Once I was satisfied with the match, I followed it up by micromesh polishing pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads. Again, I wiped the bowl with a moist cotton cloth after each pad. I used the 3200 to 12000 grit pads to dry sand the stummel to a nice shine. At this stage of restoration, the entire bowl, rim top surface and shank is now looking fresh and clean with beautiful densely packed straight grains popping out in all their glory!!!! Even though the fills are prominently visible, in my view, they lend a battle scarred warrior like character to the pipe. While I worked the stummel, the fillings in the stem had cured. I sanded the fills with a flat head needle file. To further match the fills with the surface of the stem, I sanded it with 220, 400 and 800 grit sand paper. I wiped the stem with cotton pad dipped in alcohol to remove the resultant dust. I rubbed some extra virgin olive oil in to the stem and set it aside to be absorbed in to stem. I polished the stem with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000. I rub a little extra virgin olive oil in to the stem after every three pads. I finish the polishing of the stem by rubbing a small quantity of Paragon wax and giving it a final polish with a soft cotton cloth. The stem is now nice, smooth and shiny. Now with the external restoration and cleaning of both the stummel and the stem completed, I proceeded to cleaning the internals of the stem and the shank. As I had observed during my initial visual inspection, the stinger was very firmly attached inside the tenon. To clean the stem air way, I had to separate the stinger from the tenon. I was certain that the stinger was a push-fit type and much easy to deal with. I carefully heated the stinger with the flame of a Bic lighter and wrapping a cloth on the stinger, with careful anti-clock wise rotations, dislodged the stinger from the tenon. I cleaned the internals of the shank with cue-tips, regular and bristled pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol. The mortise was cleaned using a shank brush. With a fabricated dental spatula, I scrapped the walls of the mortise and further cleaned with pipe cleaners till they came out white. Similarly, I cleaned the air way in the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol. I cleaned the stinger of all the accumulated oils and tars with paper towels after soaking the stinger in isopropyl alcohol and reattached it in the tenon. The internals are now clean and the draw is full, easy and open. I was really not surprised at how dirty were the internals of the shank and stem as can be seen from the condition of the pipe cleaners in these pictures. To finish the restoration, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to briar and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. Using a cotton cloth and brute muscle power, I gave it a final polish. I re-attach the stem with the stummel. The completed pipe looks lovely, fresh and vibrant; the photographs speak for themselves. Thank you for having the patience to reach this far while reading the write up. Your comments are of utmost importance to me for improving my skills in restoration process as well as writing about it. Cheers!!!!!

Restoring a Soren Hand- Carved Sitter Pipe


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

This Soren is the last of the freehand pipes that I had purchased on eBay. Well, this pipe is definitely the smallest of all the four, but it is also the only sitter of this lot!!!!! The medium size of the bowl, angle between the stummel and shank with a fancy stem, lends this pipe a look which is both very attractive and functional at the same time.

The pipe has a combination of smooth surface and sandblast finishes.  These sandblast portions are seen along the entire length of the shank, save for a small smooth portion on the lower surface at the shank end. This smooth portion bears the only stamping seen on this pipe, “Soren” over “HAND-CARVED” over “MADE IN DENMARK”. The upper portion of the stummel shows irregularly designed straight grained smooth surface while the lower portion and the shank, less the stamped portion,  is sandblasted which give this pipe its unique appearance!!! The plateau rim top has a smooth thin surface very close to the inner edge. I absolutely loved this pipe. I searched the internet for information on this pipe. Pipedia has some interesting snippet of information on the carver of this pipe, which I have reproduced below:

“Søren Refbjerg Rasmussen founded a company in 1969, which employed an average of 8 – 12 craftsmen in the 1970’s. The semi-freehands they produced were traded under his prename Søren. Rasmussen himself finished only the very best pipes. So his way of pipemaking closely resembled the ways of Preben Holm, Karl Erik Ottendahl or Erik Nørding. Altogether more than 1,000,000 pipes were sold.

Today he works alone as Refbjerg and manufactures only a small number of pipes in his workshop in DK-2860 Søborg, which are considered to be tremendously precisely executed. The dimensions mostly range from small to medium sized, corresponding to his personal preferences. The shapes adhere to the classical models, but often he gives them a touch of Danish flair. Refbjerg accepts minor faults but never uses any fillings. “Straight Grain” is the only grading, used for his very best pieces. He likes stem decorations made of exotic woods or metal rings.

As Rainer Barbi once stated “Refbjerg uses only briar from Corsica and more than that, he’s the one and only to import it from there, at least in Europe. He’s supplier to the vast majority of the Danish makers”.

Examples and nomenclature, courtesy Doug Valitchka Initial inspection of the pipe revealed the following
There is a thick layer of cake in the bowl. The external surface of the stummel feels solid to the touch and I think there are no issues with the condition of the chamber. However, there are always surprises when you least expect them!!! I have learnt my lessons!!! Thus, condition of the inner walls of the chamber will be ascertained once the chamber has been reamed and the cake is taken back to the bare briar. The plateau rim top and shank end is covered in the overflow of lava, dirt and grime. This will have to be cleaned. The condition of the inner edge will be determined only after removing the cake. The air way in the shank is clogged with oils and tars and will require a thorough cleaning.The stem is firmly stuck to the shank and will not budge. However, other than heavy oxidation, there are no other issues noticed on the stem. The stummel is covered in dust, dirt, oils and grime. The stummel looks dull and lackluster. The grains on the smooth surface and the sandblast are all covered in tars, oils and grime. To be able to appreciate these grains and sandblast, the stummel will have to be cleaned. THE PROCESS
Before I could start the work of cleaning the pipe, I kept it in the freezer for a couple of hours so as to separate the stem from the shank. I removed the pipe from the freezer and tried to remove the stem, but it still did not budge! I let it rest outside for an hour and after applying considerable force, the stem came free. I had followed a YouTube video where the stem was soaked in a solution of hot water and Hydrogen Peroxide in the ratio of 2:1. The stem oxidation had risen to the surface and was much easier to remove. I cleaned the insides of the stem with pipe cleaners and hard bristled pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol. Once the internals were clean and dry, I wiped the stem surface with magic clean sponge and followed it with polishing with micromesh pads. I applied extra virgin olive oil on the stem surface and set it aside to be absorbed by the stem. I am afraid, in my enthusiasm to try out new technique of using Hydrogen Peroxide; I just missed out on taking pictures of each step. Using a Kleen Reem pipe reamer, I removed all the carbon cake from the chamber. This was followed by sanding the inner walls of the chamber with 220 grit sand paper. The internal walls of the chamber were flawless and solid. Thereafter, using Murphy’s oil soap ( undiluted ) and a hard bristled toothbrush on the exterior of the bowl, shank and rim, the pipe was thoroughly cleaned and rinsed under running tap water. I immediately wiped it down with a soft cloth. The sandblast and the smooth surface were now clean and the briar looked clean and solid. I then left the briar to dry out. Once the briar had dried out completely, I rubbed in Before and After Restoration Balm deep into the sandblast as well as the rim top. The bowl was then wiped vigorously with a soft cloth and buffed with a horse hair shoe brush. The result is very pleasing and satisfying to the eyes! I am happy with this progress. This balm is a fantastic product for infusing a nice shine into the briar and giving it a new lease of life.The finished pipe is as shown below. I enjoyed working on this lot of four freehand pipes and each of these pipes has its own individuality and each is beautiful in its own way. I hope you too enjoyed joining me on this wondrous journey of exploring the freehand pipes!!!!!  Thank you for your patience and as always, any suggestions and/ or improvements will help me in learning this art of restoration.

RESTORING A BEN WADE “SPIRAL”


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

The third of the four freehand pipes purchased on eBay and currently on my work table is the BEN WADE “SPIRAL”. This is a huge sized pipe and fills the hand nicely with its size, weight and heft. I was attracted to this pipe because of its size and the unique spiraled shank. Another factor was the fact that my inherited collection had quite a few numbers of Danish pipes like the Stanwells, Amphoras, Kriswells and SONs. Thus, when I first saw the pipe on eBay, the name Ben Wade sounded so British and when I read the description and the stampings of Made In Denmark, I was immediately interested and intrigued at the same time!!! I got this pipe fairly cheap and the excellent condition it was in when it arrived, further sweetened the deal. This appears to be a simple and straight forward cleaning job from the looks of it.

The stummel shows a combination of sandblasted and smooth surfaces. It shows smooth surface on the left side extending 2/3 way down from rim top towards the heel of the bowl and on the right side it extends from the base of the bowl to 1/3 way upwards towards the rim top.The shank has beautiful and evenly spaced 5 spirals, first half from the bowl end is sandblasted while the remaining half towards the shank end is smooth and bears the stampings “Ben Wade” over “SPIRAL” over “SANDBLAST” over “HAND MADE” over “IN” over “DENMARK”. These stampings are seen in the first and third spiral of the shank. The stem bears the Ben Wade logo of the initials in capital letters ensconced within a crown on the top surface of the stem near the tenon end. All the stampings are clear and crisp. There is some very interesting history on Ben Wade pipes which I got from pipedia.org. Some interesting snippets of information are reproduced below:-

The company was founded by Benjamin Wade in 1860 in Leeds, Yorkshire, where it was located for over a century. Ben Wade started as a pipe trader, but  in the 1860’s he established a workshop to produce briar pipes. The pipes were made in very many standard shapes – always extensively classic and “very British”. Many models tended to be of smaller dimensions. Ben Wade offered a very high standard of craftsmanship and quality without any fills. Thus the pipes were considered to be high grade and a major competitor to other famous English brands.

In the second World War the factory was destroyed by German air raids on Leeds. But the Ben Wade family decided to re-build it immediately after the war and pipe production was re-started soon and successfully linked to the fame from the pre-war years.

Before the second war Ben Wade clustered their offerings into three price points: “Ben Wade” included the higher end pipes (eg the Larnix, Super Grain, Selected Grain, etc), “BW” included the mid-level pipes (eg Statesman, Natural Grain, County, etc), and “BWL” were the least expensive (eg Hurlingham, Adelphi, Tense Grain). Champion was in the last group, and in the 1930s at least retailed for 2/6.

Ben Wade turns Danish

Young Copenhagen master pipemaker Preben Holm had made a meteoric career heading a pipe manufacture employing 45 people at the age of 22! But around the turn of 1970/71 he was in major financial difficulties. His US distributor, Snug Harbour Ltd. in New York City, left him in the lurch. Holm had three unpaid invoices on his desk and another large shipment was ready for the USA, when Snug Harbour’s manager told him on the phone that there was no money at all on the account to pay him.

So the Dane went to New York for an almost desparate search for a new distribution partner. He made contacts with Lane Ltd. and met Herman G. Lane in February 1971. Lane Ltd. had no interest in Holm’s serial pipes produced at that time but so much the more in the hand-carved freehands because the hype for Danish freehands and fancies in the States was still on its way to the climax then. The meeting resulted in an agreement to start cooperation. Lane insisted to improve the quality considerably and in return he assured to be able to sell essentially larger quantities.

Holm went back home to work on new samples with all-new designs and altered finishes for Lane. Both, Lane and Holm, agreed that it would be unwise to sell the pipes under Preben Holm’s name as long as Snug Harbour had a considerable stock of Preben Holm pipes and might sell them pipes at very low prices just to bring in some money.

So on Mr. Lane’s proposal it was determined to use the name Ben Wade belonging to Lane Ltd. Lane spend considerable amounts of money for advertising the new brand in the big magazines– the centerpiece being whole-page ads showing a very exclusive Seven Day’s Set.

The cooperation with Lane Ltd. proved to be an eminent business success for both partners. Within a very short time Ben Wade Handmade Denmark sold in much larger quantities and at higher prices than they had ever dreamed of. And the hype these freehands and fancy pipes caused went on unbroken long after Herman G. Lane deceased. Preben Holm – obviously much more brilliant in pipe making than in pipe business – was in major troubles again in 1986 and had to sack most of his staff. The Ben Wade production was significantly lowered but continued until his untimely death in June of 1989. Up to now Preben Holm made Ben Wade pipes are cult and highly sought for on the estate markets.

From the above information, I can say with some certainty that this line of pipes was made between the years 1971 to 1986.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
This Ben Wade has a huge size and fills the hand nicely and has a combination of smooth and sandblasted surfaces. The sandblasted areas are filled with dust and grime which can be easily seen in the crevices of the blast. The smooth surface is also covered in the tobacco oils and oils secreted by sweating palms giving it a dull and lackluster appearance. There are no blemishes in the briar of the stummel or the shank that can be seen. I surmise that a nice scrub with Murphy’s oil soap and a hard bristled toothbrush should suffice to clean the stummel and the shank. The rim top is sandblasted and is covered in overflow of lava, tars and grime. There is no apparent damage to the inner and outer edge of the rim that can be seen, like a charred rim or an out of round bowl or chips and dents. However, the condition will be ascertained once the chamber has been reamed and the overflow of lava is removed from the rim surface. The chamber shows uneven cake build up with a thicker build up at the bottom and progressively reducing towards the rim top. The condition of the walls will be ascertained once the chamber has been reamed and the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. However, the stummel feels solid to the touch with no soft briar anywhere which is indicative of the likelihood of a burnout or major heat fissures.The beautiful and unique spiral shank has crisp edges to the spirals and just needs to be cleaned for the straight grains to pop out in their complete splendor. The plateau shank end is filled with dirt, grime and will need to be cleaned. The airway in the shank shows a blockage during the blow test and should be an easy clean up.The high quality vulcanite fancy stem is oxidized and the “BW WITH CROWN” logo appears faded as it is covered in oxidation. This needs to be addressed and the preservation of the stem logo attempted.Deeper tooth chatter peppers both the upper and lower surfaces of the stem. However, the bite marks are more pronounced and numerous on the lower surface. I shall try to raise these to the surface by flaming with Bic lighter and the deeper ones will be filled with CA superglue. Buttons show light deformation due to bite marks and will need to be sharpened. It is interesting to observe that these tooth indentations are slightly more forward towards the tenon end rather than the button end!!! Probably, the huge size and the front heavy bowl necessitate clenching it forward for better balance.THE PROCESS
I started the restoration process by reaming the chamber with a Kleen Reem pipe reamer followed by scrapping the remaining cake from the chamber with my fabricated knife. The cake was hard and dry. I further removed the cake using a 220 grit sand paper and sanded the walls till the solid bare briar was reached. I wiped down the interiors of the chamber with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol to clean the chamber of all the carbon dust and inspect the inner wall condition. And there it was, a sight which every restorer, experienced or a novice silently prays is not seen…… the beginnings of a crack/ heat fissures!!!!! The following pictures show the extent of these fissures. I shall address this issue later after I have cleaned the stummel and the stem, both internally and externally. This was followed by cleaning the internals of the shank and the airway. I attempted to insert a hard bristled pipe cleaner dipped in isopropyl alcohol through the airway in the shank and realized that there was no give for the pipe cleaner half way through the mortise. The blockage called for a more aggressive method of cleaning!!! Using a fabricated (again…. I have modified and fabricated a number of tools which I find useful in my restoration processes as the sophisticated and designated tools are not easily available to me and those available are too expensive!!!) Dental spatula, I scraped all the grunge, oils and tars from the mortise. However, a pipe cleaner would still not pass through!! I shone a torch light in to the chamber and looking through the shank, I realized that the blockage was nearer to the draught hole as the light did not pass through. I addressed this issue by inserting a rounded needle file and dislodging the blockage. I further scrubbed the walls of the draught hole and the mortise with the rounded needle file. Once I was satisfied with the filing, I thoroughly cleaned the mortise and the airway using a shank brush, q-tips and pipe cleaners, all dipped in isopropyl alcohol, till the pipe cleaners and q-tips came out clean. I checked the draw and it was nice, smooth and full. With the insides of the stummel and shank cleaned and freshened up, I turned my attention to the exterior of the bowl. Using Murphy’s oil soap and a toothbrush, I cleaned the exterior of the bowl. I gave a very deliberate scrub to the bowl and into the rustications to remove all the dust, dirt and grime that had accumulated over the years. I purposefully avoided brass brush/ steel wool while cleaning so as not to damage the sandblast. Once the cleaning with the oil soap was done, I rinsed it under running tap water and wiped it dry with a soft cotton cloth. I took care that the water does not enter into the chamber and the shank. I wiped and dried the stummel with a paper napkin and a soft cotton cloth. The bowl now has a nice, beautiful, clean and robust look to it. I kept the bowl aside to dry out and turned my attention to the stem. Turning my attention to the stem, I cleaned the stem surface with Magic Clean sponge and followed it up by flaming the surface of the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to raise the minor tooth chatter and bite marks to the surface. This was followed by the sanding with a 220 grit sand paper. This serves two purposes; firstly, it reduces the size of the fills as well as evens out the surface of the stem for the fill and secondly, it has been my experience that if the stem oxidation is removed before the fill, the end result is a nice black and shining finish and not the dirty brown spots wherever the stem has been filled. I followed it up with sanding the stem surface with a 600 grit sand paper. I spot filled the deeper bite marks with clear CA superglue and set it aside to cure overnight. I had covered the stem logo with a whitener in order to highlight the stem logo. The extent of highlight will depend on the depth remaining in the stamping. While the fills in the stem were curing, I decided to address the beginnings of the very minor issues of heat fissures in the chamber. I mixed an adequate quantity of pipe ash, activated charcoal with yogurt to form a thick slurry and applied it as evenly as possible all along the inner walls of the chamber. This too, was set aside to cure/ dry along with the stem.  The next day, once I was satisfied with the cure, using a flat head needle file, I sanded the fill to match it with the stem surface and also to sharpen the edges of the buttons on either surface. I further matched the fills and sharpened the buttons by sanding with 220, 600 and 800 grit sand paper. The stem was polished with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads followed by dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I rubbed a little extra virgin olive oil with my fingers in to the stem. After I was through with the last grit pad, I gave a final rub of extra virgin olive oil and set it aside to be absorbed by the stem. It had taken a couple of days for the coating of pipe mud to completely cure and dry out. I very lightly sanded the chamber coating with a 600 grit sand paper to even and smooth out the surface of the chamber.Once I was done with the chamber, I gave the external surface of the stummel a good clean up with a dry soft cloth to remove any dust/dirt that might have settled on the bowl overnight. Thereafter, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” into the bowl ensuring that it reaches the rustication also. I am truly amazed at the spread of this balm!  Just a small quantity quickly spreads and is sufficient to coat the entire bowl when rubbed with the fingers. The product was further rubbed into the rustication when buffed, using a horsehair shoe brush. I let it rest for a few minutes to let the balm work its magic on the briar. The transformation is amazing!! Once this was done, it was back to using muscle power to enhance the shine and beauty of the sandblast and the smooth surfaces by prolonged rubbing with a soft cloth followed by a microfiber cloth. I finished the pipe restoration by attaching the stem with the stummel and giving it a nice rub with a microfiber cloth. The pipe now has a nice and deep shine to it. The finished pipe is shown below. Thank you for sparing your valuable time in going through this write up.

Restoring a Nording “Pick Axe” Freehand Pipe


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I had just finished restoring a 1940s-1960s Kaywoodie Bent Billiard with a 4 holed stinger, also from my grandfather’s collection. I am always fascinated by “Free Hand” pipes. I feel these freehand shapes let the creativity and imaginations of a carver run riot without the bindings of the exacting demands of a classical shapes and finish.

Over a period of time, I have collected a number of freehand pipes during my not-so-long journey in to the pipe world and have realized that these freehand pipes invariably have a nice hand fit, sitting snugly in to the hands of the smoker with a nice heft to them. The most fascinating aspect of a freehand, I feel, is the carver’s desire to highlight the grains in the briar block and shape the pipe accordingly to highlight these grains.

I was fortunate to come across four estate freehand pipes, one Soren, one Ben Wade Spiral, one Nording #4 and one Nording Pick Axe shaped pipe. I discussed with my mentor and guide, Mr. Steve Laug, and after his approval on the aspects of collectability and the price point at which they were available, I purchased them about a year back!!!! Since then, these were waiting for me to work on and now that I feel slightly more confident in doing justice to these lovely pipes, I decided to work on them. The first of these pipes that is now on my work table is the Nording Pick Axe shaped freehand.

This beautiful pipe has the classical pick-axe shape with a plateau rim top. The stummel has a smooth surface with densely flame grains extending from the mid way on right side and extending mid way on left side while the remaining surface on the stummel has beautiful rustication. The smooth portions extend to the sides such that when held in the palm, all the fingers are holding the stummel along the smooth surface and one can admire the fine delicate rustications on the back while sipping your favorite tobacco. Blissful!!!!!!!!! Similarly, the top surface of the shank is rusticated extending half way through on either side while the bottom is smooth with straight grains extending from the tip of the axe towards the end of the shank.  The only stamping, “NORDING” in block capital letters, is seen on the smooth portion of the shank. The stamping is clear, crisp and easily readable. The fancy stem has a slight bent towards the lip and helps the pipe to balance straight on a table. There is the letter “N” in block capital letter, stamped on the top surface. But it is faint and hidden under the heavy oxidation.I searched the internet for detailed information on Nording pipes and this pipe shape in particular shape. Though I did not find anything particularly about this pipe, it was interesting to read how young Mr. Nording got in to the business of pipe making. It makes for a very interesting read. We must not forget to thank one Mr. Skovbo, who had a major contribution in introducing Mr. Nording in to this business!!!!!!  I have a couple of SON pipes in my grandfather’s collection which I will restore at a later date since I now know about the historical importance of these pipes!!!!!!!!!!! Here is the link for easy reference of those interested: https://pipedia.org/wiki/Nørding 

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The stummel is covered in dust, oils and grime giving a dull and lackluster appearance to the bowl. The rustications on the back of the stummel are, likewise, filled with dust, dirt and grime. This will need to be thoroughly cleaned. On close scrutiny, I saw some minor superficial dents and dings on the smooth surface. Will I address it or keep it as it is as a characteristic feature of this pipe’s past life? Hell yes, I will address it!!!!! I want it to be as perfect as I can make it for its next innings with me!!!!!! The chamber is clean with a very uneven and thin layer of cake. The plateau rim top is covered with overflow of lava. The inner rim edge is crisp, even and intact. The chamber is odorless and dry to the touch. The inner wall condition of the chamber will be ascertained once the chamber has been completely reamed. However, I foresee no issues at all as the bowl feels solid to the touch.The fancy stem is heavily oxidized with tooth chatter and bite marks on both surfaces and some calcification can be seen towards the lip. There is a significant damage to the lip end in the form of a bite through hole on the upper surface and some deep bite marks on both upper and lower surface of the stem. The airway in the stem is slightly blocked. These issues will have to be addressed. On close observation, the upper surface of the stem bears the stamp “N” in block capital letter. However, this stamp is very faint and covered in thick layer of oxidation. I will attempt to restore and save this stamp.The shank, mortise and the airway is relatively clean and will only need to be sanitized.THE PROCESS
The first step that I usually follow is the reaming of the bowl. However, in this project, since the only significant damage appreciated is to the stem and would be a time consuming process to repair, I started this restoration by addressing the stem first by sanding the stem surface with a 220 grit sand paper followed by 1500 grit micromesh pad. This serves two purposes. Firstly, it evens out the surface for a fresh fill during stem repairs and secondly, I have experienced that any fill in a stem repair turns distinctly brown after micromesh sanding if the oxidation from the stem surface was not removed prior to the application of the fill. Once I was through with the sanding, I wiped the stem clean with cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This was followed by flaming both the surfaces of the stem with a Bic lighter, concentrating more around the hole on the upper surface and the deeper bite marks on the lower surface. This helps in raising all the tooth chatter and dents to the surface.I inserted a pipe cleaner coated with Vaseline in to the stem airway before applying the fill. This helps in preventing the fill from entering and blocking the airway. I prepared a mixture of superglue and activated charcoal and applied it as evenly as possible over the hole and deep bite marks and set it aside to cure for 48 hours since the climate here is very wet and humid. While the glue was curing, I worked on the stummel, reaming out the cake with a Kleen Reem reamer, followed by a pipe reaming knife that I had fabricated. I brought the cake down to the bare briar. To further remove any traces of old cake and smooth the inner walls of the chamber, I sanded the inner wall surface with a 220 grit sand paper. As observed during initial visual inspection, I had decided to remove all the dents and dings in the stummel. I cleaned the stummel with Murphy’s oil soap, paying special attention to the plateau rim which was scrubbed with 000 grade steel wool to remove all the overflow of lava. Thereafter I sanded the smooth surfaces of the bowl with a 220 grit sand paper. Once all the dings and dents were evened out and the surface made smooth, this was followed by micromesh polishing pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads. Again, I wiped the bowl with a moist cotton cloth after each pad. Thankfully there were no fills in the stummel. Once I was through with the wet sanding pads, I used the 3200 to 12000 grit pads to dry sand the stummel to a nice shine. I set the stummel aside to let it dry out naturally. I rubbed some “Before and After Restoration” balm deeply in to the stummel with my fingers. This balm helps in rejuvenating and protecting the briar wood. The immediate and incredible transformation that takes place is a worthy reward for all the efforts!!! The mixed grain can now be clearly appreciated. I let the balm be absorbed by the briar for about 15-20 minutes and then polished it with a soft cotton cloth. The bowl now looks fresh and attractive with the grains popping out any which way you look at the briar. Turning my attention to the stem, using a flat head needle file I sanded out all the fills to match the surface of the stem. I further matched the fills by sanding it with a 220 grit sand paper. I had to spot fill clear superglue into small fills which were exposed during the sanding and repeat the entire process twice. To finish the stem I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol after each pad and rubbed olive oil into the stem after every three pads. The stem looks crisp, shiny and like new. Having addressed the “appearance” aspects of this beauty, I turned my attention to the “performance” aspects to ensure that this beauty smokes as well as it looks. I thoroughly cleaned the shank internals using shank brush, pipe cleaners, qtips and isopropyl alcohol. The stem airway was cleaned using regular pipe cleaners and also bristled ones dipped in alcohol. The airway is now clean and the draw is full and open.To complete the restoration, I rubbed a minute quantity of PARAGON WAX on the smooth stummel and the stem and HALCYON WAX II on the rusticated surface. After a few seconds, using muscle power and a microfiber cloth, I polished the entire pipe to a lovely shine. The finished pipe is shown below. This one shall soon find a place in my rotation. Thank you for your valuable time spent in reading this chronicle of my journey.

Restoring a Nording # 4 Freehand


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I had purchased four freehand pipes about a year back, and now after having worked on 30 plus pipes, and restored them to acceptable standards, I feel confident of tackling restoration of these pipes. Along the way, I learned a few techniques and honed and practiced my skills in these processes, made a few good friends and acquaintances and most importantly, have been able to preserve and restore memories of my Grand Old Man, which I cherish the most.

This Nording #4 now on my table is a large pipe with beautiful straight grains extending from the base of the bowl to the rim top on left 1/3 portion of the stummel and the rest 2/3 is sandblasted. The rim top curves upwards in 11 ‘O’ clock and 5 ‘O’ clock direction and forms plateau on the rim top. There is a smooth ring of briar on the bowl just below the rim top. The ring is asymmetrical and follows the shape of the rim top. The square shank is rusticated on three sides and smooth on the left side. This smooth surface bears the stamp “NORDING” over “MADE IN DENMARK” followed by a prominent number “4”. The fancy stem bears the stamp “N” in a fancy decorative and cursive hand.I was surfing the net for some additional information on this particular Nording and found that this piece closely resembles the NORDING’S RUSTIC pipe. Here is the link to Nording shapes and finishes on Tobacco Pipes. (https://www.tobaccopipes.com/nording-history/)  

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The plateau on the rim was dirty with dust and tars in the grooves of the plateau. The grooves of the sandblast were also dusty and dirty. The inside of the bowl appeared to be in good condition under the thin cake. There is an uneven build up of cake with bottom half having more cake as compared to the upper half of the bowl.The rustications on the shank and stummel is also dusty and filled with dirt and grime. The smooth portion of the stummel appears dull and lackluster due to dust and grime coating the stummel. The plateau shank end was also dirty with tars and dirt. Air does not flow freely through the shank and the mortise appears to be clogged. The stem does not seat completely in to the mortise. This will have to be cleaned.The stem is vulcanite and was oxidized and had some calcification on each side of the stem for the first inch ahead of the button. Apparently at some point in its life, it had a rubber Softee bit on the stem to protect it from tooth marks and chatter. It had done its job and there were no tooth marks or chatter on the surface of the stem. The stamping on the stem, though faded and covered under heavy oxidation, is visible and it will be my attempt to restore and highlight it to the extent possible.All in all, this appears to be a simple and straight forward clean up and polishing project, unless some gremlins and demons are unearthed during the process!!!!

THE PROCESS
I reamed the bowl with a Kleen Reem pipe reamer to take the cake back to bare briar. I cleaned up the remnants of cake in the bowl with my fabricated knife. I was careful not to be over zealous using the knife in order to prevent the walls from being gouged. I finished the cleaning of the inside of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around my finger. I turned it in the bowl until the bowl was smooth and clean.I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap. I scrubbed the plateau rim top with a brass bristle brush to remove the tars and oil in the grooves. I rinsed the bowl with water in the sink while scrubbing the finish with the tooth brush to remove the dust and grime. I scrubbed out the mortise with a dental spatula. I cleaned the airway in the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs dipped in alcohol. Once the grime was removed the pipe smelled good and looked good.I rubbed some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar to enliven, clean and preserve it. I rubbed it in with my fingertips working it into the briar. I worked it into the plateau rim, shank end, smooth portion of the stummel and the sandblast on the sides of the shank and the bowl. I buffed it into the finish with a horsehair shoe brush. I set it aside for a little while to let the balm do its work. I buffed it off with a cotton cloth and a shoe brush. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I flamed the surfaces of the stem with a Bic lighter to raise very minor tooth chatter to the surface as well loosen the oxidation from the stem surface. This was followed by sanding the oxidation and the calcification on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove the oxidation and the calcification.

I polished the stem using micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and then dry sanded the stem with 3200-12000 grit pads to further polish it. After each pad I wiped it down with Extra Virgin Olive Oil to protect and enliven the stem. When I finished with the final pad I gave it the stem another coat of oil and set it aside to dry. These fancy stems, though looks fabulous and helps in accentuating overall look and shape of a freehand, are a pain to clean up and remove all the oxidation!!!! I finished this restoration by applying a small quantity of PARAGON Wax on the stem and smooth briar surface and HALCYON II wax on the rusticated surface. I let it set for a few seconds and thereafter polished it with a soft cotton cloth. The finished pipe looks nice and with the shiny black fancy vulcanite stem, the red and dark hues of the pipe are further accentuated. The finished pipe is shown below.

Restoring my Grandfather’s…what the…A Kaywoodie?????


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Yes!! That is what exactly my thought was, when I looked closely at the small pipe in my hand that I had selected as my next project for restoration. Those who have read my previous write ups on pipe restoration would know that I have inherited a large number of pipes from my grandfather dating between the periods from 1940s to 1970s. I had not come across a single Kaywoodie pipe in the two boxes I had opened, one box still remaining unopened!!!

I have restored two Custom-Bilt pipes from this collection to date, one from 1938-41 era (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/06/02/restoring-my-grandfathers-custom-bilt-pipe/) and second from the Wally Frank era(https://rebornpipes.com/2018/07/20/restoring-a-wally-frank-era-custombilt-sitter-633/), the third Custom-Bilt billiard from 1938-41 era was sent to Mr. Steve of rebornpipes fame to sort out tenon issues and have fallen in love with Custom-Bilt pipes since thereafter!!!! I had picked this pipe assuming it to be a Custom-Bilt and it was only on close scrutiny was it reveled that this was a Kaywoodie!!!!! I deliberately rummaged through the pile again and sure enough, there was another Kaywoodie Bent Billiard with 4 holed stinger in relatively unsmoked condition. It seems my grandfather never took a liking for these Kaywoodie pipes!!!!!

This Kaywoodie Pocket Pipe, now on my work table, has similar large finger like vertical rustications with very thin horizontal lines ensconced within these large vertical rustications. These thick vertical rustications extend upwards and end short of the rim top, giving the rim top a flat smooth surface. These rustications can be seen extending all around the shank on top and bottom, save for smooth surfaces on either sides of the shank. The smooth surface on the left side of the shank bears the stamping “Handmade” over “Super Grain” in cursive hand, over “KAYWOODIE” in block capital letters. The right side of the shank bears the stamp “IMPORTED BRIAR”. All these stampings are thin, worn out but readable under bright light with a magnifying glass. The ¾ bent saddle stem bears the trade mark “Clover leaf” symbol.This pipe comes with a four-holed threaded stinger which screws into the shank. This stinger is stamped with “DRINKLESS”. There is an aluminum spacer ring separating the shank end from the stem end when threaded in. On closer observation, it can be seen that a portion of this spacer, closer to the mortise opening, extends into the mortise and is threaded which matches with the stinger threads.I took all these observation and searched pipedia.com for history of this brand, models and attempt at dating this pipe. This site has detailed information on Kaywoodie pipes, including the history of origin, about the owners of the brand and also various important links to “Collector’s Guide to Kaywoodie Pipes” and “Kaywoodie’s Logos and Markings: Clover variations since 1919”. Here is what was revealed as extracted from pipedia.com:-

Kaywoodie was the name a pipe offered by Kaufman Brothers & Bondy Company (KBB), first appearing in February of 1919. The Dinwoodie pipe, also by KBB, appeared in November of 1919. Sometime before 1924, the Dinwoodie had been discontinued and the Kaywoodie name was beginning to be used on an extensive line of pipes that ultimately would be the name of the company. The origin of the name Kaywoodie is a combination of the K from Kaufman and wood, as in briar. Not much is known of the original KBB company other than it was started in 1851 by the German born Kaufman brothers when they opened a small pipe shop in the Bowery section of New York City. In the back room of this shop, they made their first pipes. From this meager beginning, the Kaywoodie name and organization was to emerge.

When one of the men from the New York office got “gold fever”, he carried a large supply of pipes with him to California that he sold along the way. This early “national distribution” did much to build the reputation of KBB. By the late 1800’s, branches of KBB were opened in Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco and St. Louis with family and friends acting as agents. The trademarks, for the inlaid cloverleaf and the cloverleaf with the KBB initials inside, were issued in 1881. KBB’s pipes became more popular and were in constant demand by the end of the century. Orders were streaming back east and KBB needed to move to larger manufacturing facilities. By 1915 the move was made to larger facilities in the old Union Hill section of Union City, New Jersey. The salesroom offices were located at 33 East 17th. Street, New York. When the Kaywoodie pipe was first introduced by KBB it came with a hand cut rubber mouthpiece fitted with an aluminum Inbore Tube. This device was to “assure a clean, cool smoke.” Other KBB pipes such as Ambassador, Heatherby and Melrose also had the Inbore tube. The early Drinkless Kaywoodies from 1924 through 1931 had push bit stems. In 1931, after three years of research, the new Drinkless Kaywoodies with the synchro-stem, (threaded drinkless screw-in mouthpiece) were introduced. The drinkless attachment was advertised as cooling the smoke from 850 degrees in the bowl to 82 degrees when it entered the mouth. By the mid 1930’s, all Kaywoodie’s came with the screw mounted Drinkless attachment. (Export Kaywoodies, available briefly from 1950-1955, had push bit stems and were available in all the same shapes and finishes as the drinkless versions.)

Throughout much of the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s, the Kaywoodie family of pipes consisted of 11 basic grades of briar pipes; though new grades were frequently added to the line and some older grades were discontinued or downgraded. These 11 basic grades of pipes, listed in ascending order of quality, were:

  1. Drinkless
  2. Hand-made Super Grain
  3. Super Grain
  4. Relief Grain
  5. Flame Grain
  6. Silhouette
  7. Oversize Kaywoodies
  8. Meerschaum Inlaid Kaywoodies
  9. Connoisseur
  10. Ninety-fiver
  11. Centennial

Thus from the above, I can safely infer that this pipe was a higher grade Kaywoodie from the 1940s to 1960s.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The finish looked a lot like the classic Kaywoodie take on Tracy Mincer’s Custom-Bilt pipes. The carved worm trails seen on the stummel and shank is filled with dust, dirt and grime of years of smoking and thereafter years of uncared for storage. The grime and dirt is so strongly entrenched in to these carved worm trails that it appears black and solidly smooth to the touch. I could see 3-4 small dings and dents on one of the fingers of the raised portion of the stummel. This will need to be addressed. There is a decent layer of cake inside the bowl which is dry and hard to the touch. The smooth rim top is clean and devoid of any apparent damage. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be ascertained after the cake has been reamed out. The inner edge of the rim shows minor uneven surface, however, the outer edge of the rim is clean and without dents or dings. The short ¾ bent saddle stem has smooth upper and lower surfaces without any tooth chatter or bite marks. This is unlike any other pipe stem I have seen that had belonged to my grand old man. The four holed stinger is clean, however, the holes appear to be clogged. This was confirmed as air did not flow when I tried to blow through the stem. May be that has been the reason that this pipe was not as extensively used by him. The inlaid white clover leaf is clean and prominent with a tiny portion of the top of the leaf missing!! But it is so tiny chip that it is not immediately visible. The lips are worn out and may need to be reconstructed; again I am not sure about this as there is no damage as such. There is an aluminum spacer between the stem and the shank which breaks the monotony of the pipe. However, it is broken on the right side leaving an ugly gap between the shank and stem. The remaining portion of the aluminum spacer was crumbling and breaks merely to the touch. This needs to be addressed. There is a circular band of white tape or some such material at the end of the stinger where it meets the stem. This is something which is not correct and the reason for it having been placed needs to be checked. THE PROCESS
First and foremost in any restoration of pipe, I start with reaming the chamber with a Kleen Reem pipe reamer. However, in this instance, the cake was dry, tightly packed and very hard. I feared breaking the reamer and resorted to the use of my fabricated knife. After a struggle, I was able to take the cake down to the bare briar. I sanded the inner walls of the chamber with 150, 220 and 600 grit sand paper to completely remove the remaining cake and smooth out the walls. Alas, I observed some superficial gouges on the wall surface due to the use of knife. I would need to address this by coating the chamber walls with pipe mud at a later stage. I cleaned the mortise and internals of the shank with cue tips, pipe cleaners and alcohol. Since the major challenge appreciated in this restoration project was the construction of a new aluminum spacer, I decided that is where I would start!!!! To address this issue, I identified three options, as under, which were available to me:

(a) Coat the entire spacer, including the broken portion, with superglue, building it up in layers and then sanding it to flatten it on a topping board. This coat of superglue will also stabilize the remaining original spacer.

(b) Fabricate an aluminum spacer out of a regular aluminum washer and replace only the broken portion of the spacer.

(c) Replace the entire spacer with the new fabricated aluminum spacer.

I discussed these options with my mentor, Mr. Steve Laug. As is his trademark style of tutoring, his suggestion was, “I would go with the first option”!!!!! He further clarified that the spacer also enters the mortise and has threads for the “synchro-stem” (threaded drinkless screw-in mouthpiece). Thus, I concluded that exercising the third option was best avoided if I wished to avoid ruining the pipe!!! That left me with following either first option or the second option. Any other sane student would have followed the advice of his mentor (which I had been doing up to this point!!!). However, I, for some reason, was convinced that the end result of exercising the second option would result in a better finish and thus embarked on the arduous journey of replacing only the broken portion of the original spacer with the fabricated aluminum washer.

I began the process by shaping the new aluminum washer to match the size, shape and thickness of the original spacer. I was not very meticulous about the size and thickness as the same would, in any case, have to be perfectly matched by sanding it down with needle files. The following pictures will tell the story of the entire process of constructing this spacer. However, what these pictures do not tell you is the long back breaking hours involved, the strain to which eyes were subjected, precise and controlled movements of the needle files and agony experienced whenever the needle file inadvertently scraped the crumbling original spacer, causing it to chip. When I was satisfied with the fit and finish of the new spacer, I applied an even coat of superglue over the entire surface and very painstakingly re-aligned all the broken pieces of the original spacer and also the new fabricated spacer over the coat of the superglue and set it aside to cure overnight. Next day I evenly applied another coat of superglue over the entire spacer and again set it aside to cure so as to stabilize the spacer repairs and even out the surface. Once the glue had sufficiently cured, I topped the surface on a topping board to even out the glue. To further smooth out the surface and ensure a transparent, even and smooth surface, I polished the surface with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I frequently wiped the surface with a moist cloth to remove the glue dust. I was able to maintain just sufficient thickness of the coat so as not to disturb the alignment of the stem with the shank while stabilizing and protecting the spacer. I was very satisfied with the results. Now with the spacer taken care of, I start working on the stummel. I thoroughly clean the stummel with undiluted Murphy’s oil soap and a hard bristled tooth brush scrubbing the rustications clean of all the lodged dirt, dust and grime. I had seen a few dents and dings on one of the fingers of the stummel rustication and wanted to address it. I began by sanding the stummel and raised portion of the rustications with a 600 grit sand paper followed by 800 grit sand paper. I had used very light hand so as not to lose too much briar (though at the end I realized that I should have used a bit more force since at the end of the process, these dents and dings were still very much visible!!!!!!). This sanding was followed by polishing with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a moist cloth after each pad to remove all the sanding dust. As I was going through the micromesh pads, I was thinking of adding some twist to the finish and remembered that Mr. Dal Stanton, a gentleman I often turn to for some interesting pipe related conversations and advice, had refurbished a Tom Howard rusticated tomato pipe for me. He had darkened the crevices of the rustications with a dark stain pen and the contrast was eye catching, to say the least. I wanted to have a pair of pipes with this finish and decided to give this Kaywoodie the same treatment. I discussed with Mr. Dal Stanton who wholeheartedly explained the technique of achieving this finish and also gave me some very fine and pragmatic advice which I shall cherish on this journey. I stained the crevices in the rustications with a dark brown stain pen and set it aside for the stain to set in to the crevices. After the stain had set, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After” restoration balm in to stummel and set it aside for a few minutes to let the balm work its magic on the briar wood. The balm works to bring back the shine and pours life in to the briar. I buff the stummel with a horse hair shoe brush followed by a nice hand polish with a soft cotton cloth. I liked the way the stummel has finished. To address the superficial gouges in the chamber created by use of knife during reaming, I prepared a mixture of pipe ash and yogurt of putty consistency and applied a coat to the inner walls of the chamber. Once the coating had cured, I gently sand the walls with a 220 grit sand paper to a smooth and even surface. With this, the stummel is all completed. Once the stummel had been finished and set aside, I turned my attention to the stem. There was not much work on this stem since it was sparingly used with only light signs of oxidation and no bite marks or tooth chatter. I start by sanding with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol to remove the sand dust and rub a small quantity of Extra Virgin olive oil and allow it to be absorbed in to the stem. The stem is now nice and shiny. The next thing to address was the blocked stem. I tried cleaning the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol, but the pipe cleaner would not go in the complete distance. There was gunk and tars which had accumulated inside the airway and in the holes too!!!! Using a straightened paper clip, I probed and cleaned all the holes on the stinger. I tried to blow through the stem, but I realized that it was still blocked. I tried pushing the paper clip through the airway and then there was this small sound of a crack!!!!!! Aargh……..the upper lip now has a chip!!!!! Undaunted by this temporary setback, I continue with the clearing of the blocked stem. Finally, I am able to dislodge the block and now the air flows freely through the stem.To address this chip, I firstly insert a regular pipe cleaner coated with Vaseline in to the air way. This prevents the charcoal and glue mix from dribbling in to the air way blocking it. I mix a small quantity of activated charcoal and CA superglue and spot apply it over the chipped surface. Once I have ensured that the complete surface is coated with the mix, I set it aside to cure overnight. The next evening, I file the filling with a needle file and match it to the surface of the stem. To further match the filling with the rest of the stem surface, I sand the fill with a 220 grit sand paper followed by micromesh polish pads. The stem is now nice and shiny again with a free flow of air through the airway. I finished this restoration by applying a small quantity of Halcyon II wax and rubbed it deeply in to the stummel with my fingers. A few minutes later, I polished it with a soft cotton cloth using muscle power. The stummel now has a nice deep shine to it and the grains on the rim top and raise portion of the rustication can be seen in its full glory. I re-attach the stem and then relies that the stem is off center to the shank!!!! My God, this one was giving me a hard time. I removed the white sticky tape that was stuck around the stinger at the stem end and tried the fit. The fit had improved but it was still off centre. Again, to address this issue, I was presented with two options of either sanding the coating of superglue over the spacer till the off center was corrected or heat the stinger till the glue fixing the stinger in the stem was loosened and turn the stinger in to the mortise till the issue was addressed. I decided to go with the second option as I feared losing the coating of superglue over the spacer and thus exposing the brittle original to further chipping. I heated the stinger with the flame of a Bic lighter so that the glue holding the stinger would loosen a bit and fitted the stem in to the mortise, tightening it till the stem and shank were perfectly aligned. I let the stinger sit in this position till it had cooled down and the glue had hardened again. Now the fit of the stem and the shank is perfectly aligned. Here are the pictures of the finished pipe and hope that this long write up has been an enjoyable read. Thank you for walking with me through this restoration as I attempt to preserve the legacy of my beloved grand old man!!!!!