Tag Archives: Paresh Deshpande article

A Challenging Restoration of a Peterson’s System 3, Irish Free State Stamped Pipe


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

This pipe had been on my ‘to do list’ for long but since it came without a stem and as I did not have one, this project was kept pending since long. Now that I have received my large consignment of estate vulcanite and bone/ horn stems, including one Pete System P-lip stem, I couldn’t help but fish out the Pete stummel again to work on.

Most of my fellow pipe restorers would have turned away from this project that I had decided to work on next. To be honest, I would have led the pack in just consigning this pipe to history, but for the provenance of this Peterson’s System pipe. This pipe had once belonged to my grandfather and from the condition that it was in; it was apparently one of his favorite pipes!!

Well, the pipe that is now on my work table is in a pretty badly battered condition and came without a stem. There are ample signs of this pipe having been repaired earlier and extensively smoked thereafter. The stampings are all but worn out and can be seen under a bright light and under a magnifying glass. The left side of the shank bears the stamp “PETERSON’S” over “SYSTEM” over an encircled # 3. The pipe bears the COM stamp of “IRISH” over “FREE STATE” that is stamped perpendicular to the shank axis in two lines and very close to the shank end. 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” and is stamped below as “PETERSON’S” over “DUBLIN”. Having worked on quite a few old Peterson pipes from my inheritance and few from my Mumbai Bonanza, I was pretty sure that this pipe dates to 1920- 30 time period. To confirm this and also refresh my memory, I turned to my favorite site rebornpipes.com and to a write up “A Peterson Dating Guide; a Rule of Thumb” by Mike Leverette, here is the link (https://rebornpipes.com/2013/08/11/a-peterson-dating-guide-a-rule-of-thumb-mike-leverette/)

Here is what I have found and I reproduce it verbatim from the write up:-

The Irish Free State was formed on 15 January 1922. So the Free State Era will be from 1922 through 1937. Peterson followed with a COM stamp of “Irish Free State” in either one or two lines, either parallel or perpendicular to the shank axis and extremely close to the stem.

Thus, it is confirmed that this pipe is from the period 1922 to 1937 and this has to be one of the earliest Peterson’s pipes that was in my grandfather’s rotation and probably one that was his favorite.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The stummel is covered in dirt and grime. All that catches your eyes is the dirty darkened upper portion of the stummel something like a flume, but not quite like it!!! Closer examination confirmed my worst fears….. CRACKS!! Yes, crack with an ‘s’. There are a couple of major cracks, one to the front of the stummel in 11 o’clock direction and the second major crack is at the back of the stummel. It is from the end of this big crack that three smaller and fine lined cracks emanate creating a web of cracks at the back and extending to the sides of the stummel. These cracks appear to have been repaired at some point in the past, definitely more than 40 years back, and these repairs have been camouflaged under a blotchy coat of black stain. The exact extent of damage can be assessed only after the external surface of the stummel had been completely cleaned and under magnification. The foot of the stummel has a number of dents and dings which needs to be addressed. In spite of all the cracks and its subsequent repairs, this pipe had been in continuous use as is evidenced by the thick layer of cake in the chamber. It seems that my grandfather even took the efforts to keep the thickness of the cake to a dime, not successfully though and so unlike him!! The rim top surface is completely out of round with the cracks extending over the rim top in to the chamber. The extent of these cracks in to the chamber and damage to the walls will be ascertained only after the chamber is cleaned off the complete cake. The rim top is covered in a thick layer of lava overflow. The ghost smells are ultra-strong, I say.The mortise, shank and especially the sump are chock-a-block with old oils, tars, grime and residual flecks of tobacco. The air flow through the draught hole is laborious and will require a thorough cleaning.There being no stem with this pipe, the biggest challenge will be to find one that fits. Nonetheless, this particular pipe, though I desire to restore and preserve, I am not sure what the real condition of the stummel would be under all the dirt and grime and even if it’s worth the efforts that would be needed.

THE PROCESS
The first obvious issue that I wanted to address was to find a correct stem, preferably original P-lip stem, for the pipe. I rummaged through the parcel of estate pipe stems that had only recently reached me and I knew it contained a Pete System P-lip stem. I fished it out and tried the fit of the stem in to the mortise. Here is what I saw. Though the fit appears to be good in pictures, that is not so!! There are these following issues which are difficult to gauge from the pictures:

(a) The stem does not seat firmly into the mortise. There is a play between the tenon and the walls of the mortise; this, in spite of the rubber packing that the tenon came with. Or is this play a result of the rubber packing?

(b) The seating of the stem is too high. The tenon end does not reach anywhere near the draught hole, let alone reach slightly below it for the system to work.

(c) The stem, if pushed further in to the mortise would put additional pressure on the walls of the mortise, subsequently resulting in cracks at the shank end.

(d) The plane of the bowl and the bend of the stem are not aligned. The stem is too straight making for an awkward appearance.

With certain modifications to the stem, I feel confident that I could make the stem work efficiently in a system pipe. The saddle is deeply gouged all around. The upper and lower surface of the stem has significantly deep tooth indentations in the bite zone. The button edges are badly deformed with deep bite marks. Following pictures show the condition of the stem as I received it. The tenon is clogged with heavy accumulation of oils and tars which is seen through the tenon opening. The rubber packing cap is also covered in dirt and grime.With a sharp knife, I removed the rubber cap by separating it from the tenon end, expecting to find a chipped or badly damaged tenon. However, the tenon is intact and apart from being clogged the stem is in decent condition. After I had removed the rubber cap, I rechecked the seating of the stem in to the mortise. The seating was still loose and too high!! Next I moved ahead and reamed the chamber with a Castleford reamer head size 2 followed by size 3. With my sharp fabricated knife, I removed the cake from the chamber where the reamer head could not reach and gently scrapped away the lava overflow from the rim top surface. Thereafter, using a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper, I sanded out the last traces of cake and exposed the walls of the chamber and 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. Even though there are no heat fissures/ lines along the chamber walls where the cracks do not extend (a big solace, I say!!), the stummel cracks are a different story which I shall come to subsequently. The chamber ghosting is still significantly strong which may further reduce once I clean the sump/ reservoir and the mortise. The two major cracks (marked in red arrows) that were observed in the external stummel surface extend well in to the chamber with the old repair fills in these cracks in plain view. Further sanding and close scrutiny of the walls confirmed my gut feeling that the minor cracks originating from the major cracks will also be seen as heat fissures in the chamber walls. These have been marked in yellow arrows. As I was contemplating my further course of action to address the chamber issues, I set the stummel aside and decided to work on the stem. I cleaned the internals of the stem using hard and normal bristled pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. With a pointed dental tool, I scraped out the entire dried gunk from the tenon end.I decided that I would first undertake the cleaning, both internal and external, of the stummel before proceeding with further repairs. This cleaning will not only give me a clear picture of the extent of damage but also the efforts that would be needed are justified or otherwise.

I cleaned out the internals of the shank and mortise. Using my dental tool, fabricated knife and specifically modified 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 the 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 gave a final cleaning to the sump with a paper napkin moistened with isopropyl alcohol. This, however, did not address the issue of ghost smells in the stummel.I decided to address the issue of old odors in the chamber and shank by subjecting it to a cotton and alcohol bath. I wrapped some cotton around a folded pipe cleaner, keeping the tip of the pipe cleaner free of wrapped cotton as this would be inserted through the draught hole in to the chamber. This would form the wick for the shank. I tightly packed the chamber with cotton balls and filled it with 99% pure isopropyl alcohol using a syringe and set it aside. By next day, the cotton and alcohol had drawn out the all the old tars and oils from the chamber and max from the shank. With my dental tool, I further scrapped out the loosened gunk from the sump and mortise. 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. Fortunately for me, the blotchy coat of black stain that was applied to mask the repairs came off with use of Murphy’s Oil Soap and dish washing soap. Had this not worked, an alternative method of removing this coat would be to wipe the stummel with pure acetone and/or isopropyl alcohol on cotton swabs. With the stummel nice and clean, the damage is now all too apparent and it did not present an encouraging picture. The major cracks are quite deep and the secondary minor cracks emanating from the major crack are restricted at the back of the stummel. Here is what I saw. I shared these images with Steve and sought his opinion if this project was even worth the effort. A few minutes later, Steve responded in his characteristic manner. I reproduce the exact exchange that took place between us

Steve: What a mess

Me: What is the best way ahead? Worth the effort? Grandpa collection…

Steve: That was my question… is it worth it? With the Grandpa connection, I would probably work on it. I would thoroughly clean the inside and outside. Once that is done, I would line the bowl with J B Weld to completely bind the inside together. Once that is done, then fill and repair the outside with glue and briar dust.

Me: This is the condition of the shank and stummel joint…emotions dictate restoration while practical experience says it’s a gonner…

Steve: I have been there…go with emotions on this one…it will take time and be a real resurrection!!

Now that clarity has been established and hints for the way ahead have been spelt, I decided to complete this project.

I decided to address the stem issues first.

As noted earlier, the seating of the stem in to the mortise was loose and too high for the Pete’s famed system to work efficiently. I inserted a pipe cleaner in to the mortise and up to just below the draught hole, bending the pipe cleaner at this point to mark the depth that I desired. Next, I mark the same depth on to the saddle of the stem with a white correction pen. I wound a scotch tape along the marked white line extending towards the button end. This gave me a reference line beyond which sanding needs to be avoided. With this initial preparation completed, I next mount a 180 grit sanding drum on to my hand held rotary tool, set the speed at half of the full speed and proceeded to sand down the portion of the stem towards the tenon end. I frequently checked the fit of the stem in to the mortise to ensure a snug fit and avoid excessive sanding of the stem. Making steady progress, I was satisfied with the stem modifications at this stage. The tenon was just below the draught hole and there was no play in the seating of the stem in to the mortise. Next, using 150 grit sandpaper, I sanded the entire stem, especially being diligent around the saddle portion that was shaved off to achieve a snug fit of the stem into the mortise. Though I had to spend a considerable time, I was happy with the blending to a smooth transition at the edge which was sanded down. I wiped the stem with Murphy’s oil soap on a cotton swab to remove the sanding dust and oxidation. The stem looked good and should function as it is supposed to, making me very pleased with the fruits of my efforts at this stage.Just a word of caution here for all the first timers using the sanding drum and rotary tool; firstly, ensure that the rotary tool is set at 1/3 or ½ of the full rpm of the tool as too high a speed will fling the stem away from your grip and may result in excessive sanding of the stem surface. Secondly, keep the stem turning evenly at all times to achieve as evenly sanded surface as possible and avoid deep gouges. Thirdly, frequently check the progress being made and remember the mantra “LESS IS MORE”! Fine tuning is best achieved by eyeballing and working with hands and sandpapers.

Staying with the stem repairs, I mixed CA superglue and activated charcoal, filled all the deep tooth chatter and indentations and also over the button edges and set the stem aside for the fills to cure. I shall blend these fills and also sharpen the button edges once the fill has hardened considerably.Now with the stem set aside for the fills to cure, it was time for me to work the stummel. I topped 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. The repairs to the cracks, marked with red arrows, are all too apparent now as can be seen in the following pictures. The rim top surface is charred and thin in 10 o’clock direction which have been marked in blue circle. The rim top repair towards the front of the bowl has resulted in thinning of the rim top. This is marked in a yellow circle. This stummel has some serious issues that need to be addressed. I preceded the stummel repairs first by coating the walls of the chamber with a slightly thick layer of J B Weld. J B Weld is a two-part epoxy Cold Weld in two tubes; hardener and steel which are mixed in two equal parts (ratio of 1:1) with hardening time of 5-6 minutes and complete curing time of 6-8 hours. I poured the contents of the two tubes and mixed it well. I applied this mix, as evenly as possible, over the entire chamber wall surface. I worked fast to ensure an even coat over the chamber walls before the weld could harden. I set the stummel aside for the application to harden and cure overnight. By the next afternoon, the J B Weld had cured and hardened considerably and will now be able to hold the stummel together as I move along with drilling counter holes, refreshing the fills in the cracks and further sanding and polishing processes. I gouged out the old fills from the cracks. I was careful not to apply too much pressure or dig deeper than absolutely necessary to remove the old fills. Using a magnifying glass and a white correction pen, I marked the points for the counter holes at the start, the turning and the end points along the extent of all the cracks seen on the stummel, and mark my words all Readers, there were plenty and then some more!! After I was done with my markings, the stummel appeared more like a mosaic of white dots!! Next, I drilled counter holes with a 1mm drill bit mounted on to my hand held rotary tool deep enough to serve as a counter hole while taking care that I did not drill a through and through hole. These counter holes arrest and prevent the spread of the cracks further. The importance of these counter holes cannot be underestimated. In fact, this pipe had been repaired previously and the repairs were solid enough, though without counter holes, that the pipe was smoked by my grandfather for many years. However, in my scant experience in pipe restoration I have seen that the extensive spread of the cracks towards the back of the stummel is a result of lack of drilling a counter hole to arrest the spread!!

I filled these cracks and counter holes with a mix of briar dust and CA superglue using the layering method (layer of superglue followed by sprinkling of briar dust and repeated it till desired thickness of fill was achieved) and set it aside for the fills to cure. I ensured that I filled the thin outer edge of rim top surface that I will subsequently sand down to match with the rest of the rim surface.While the stummel was set aside for curing, I decided to correct the geometry of the stem in relation to the plane of the bowl. The stem was too straight and was awkward to clench. After inserting a pipe cleaner through the stem, I heated the stem with a heat gun till the vulcanite became a little pliable. Holding the tip of the pipe cleaner, I gave the stem a bend, eyeballing it to suit the bowl. Once I had achieved the desired bend, I held it in place under cold running water till the stem had cooled down sufficiently to retain the shape. The stem was now comfortable to clench. Here are the pictures of the stem before (on the left side) and after (on the right side) the bend. Now that the seating of the stem into the mortise and the bend to the stem had been sorted out, I proceeded to sand/ blend the fills and impart a nice black glossy shine to the stem. With a flat head needle file, I sanded these fills to achieve a rough match. I further fine tuned the match by sanding the filled area with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger. I followed it up by sanding the entire stem surface using 400, 600, 800 grit sand papers and finally with a piece of 0000 grade steel wool. This serves to remove the deep seated oxidation and also reduces the sanding marks of the more abrasive sand papers. I also sharpened the button edges while sanding. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the oxidation and sanding dust from the surface. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil over the stem and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite. The stem has turned out amazing and now I felt upbeat about completing this project.I wet sand the stem with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. Next I rubbed 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 rubbed a small quantity of olive oil in to the stem surface to hydrate it and set it aside. The stem now had a nice deep black and glossy shine.With the stem completed, I turned my attention to the stummel. In the intervening time when I worked the stem, the stummel crack fills had hardened and cured well. Using a flat head needle file, I sanded these fills to achieve a rough match with the rest of the stummel surface. I further fine tuned the fills by sanding the entire stummel surface with folded pieces of 220, 400 and 600 grit sandpapers. The stummel was now clean and even. On close scrutiny of the cleaned stummel surface, I observed a small crack which I had missed out earlier. I will need to drill counter holes to arrest the spread and extending of these cracks. Under a magnifying glass and bright light, I marked the ends of the now observed cracks with a white correction pen. I mounted a 1mm drill bit on to my hand held rotary tool and drilled counter holes. I filled these counter holes and cracks with a mix of briar dust and superglue. I also took this opportunity to touch up and refill those areas which required further fills and set the stummel aside to cure. Once the fills had cured, I went through the complete cycle of sanding with a flat head needle file followed with 220 grits sandpaper. The fills are all solid and have naturally blended in quite nicely with the entire briar surface. The rim top surface is now evenly thick and with folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper, I created a slight bevel to inner and outer edges of the rim top. I am happy with the appearance of the stummel at this stage of restoration. I polished the stummel with micromesh pads, wet 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 looked amazing with a deep shine and beautiful grains popping over the stummel surface. I was surprised that the rim top surface has the same deep brown coloration as the rest of the stummel surface even though the repairs to the cracks were still sticking out like sore thumbs through the shining stummel surface, I was not overly perturbed having made peace with myself regarding the repairs showing, still I shall attempt to mask them by staining the stummel subsequently. 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 looked fresh and attractive with the grains popping out any which way you look at the briar. Even the repairs to the stummel are a lot less visible what with the briar taking up a deep dark and vibrant brown hues. I polished off the balm with a soft cloth to a lovely shine. Next, with a folded piece of 150 grit sandpaper, I sanded the coat of J B Weld from the internal walls of the chamber keeping just a thin layer of coat along the walls. The coat appeared uneven at this stage but once it was coated with pipe mud, the chamber walls would become even and smooth. I decided on giving the stummel a stain wash with a Feibing’s Dark Brown leather dye. I diluted the Feibing’s Dark Brown leather dye in 99.9% isopropyl alcohol in approximate ratio of 1:4 and with a cotton swab, I dabbed the diluted stain over the stummel surface, letting it set for a few moments and thereafter wiping it off with a dry clean cotton swab. I repeated the process till I had achieved the desired coloration. I was pleased with the color of the stummel which highlighted the grains while the stummel repairs were masked nicely. This time around, even the fills had absorbed the stain and blended in nicely with the rest of the stummel. In order to ensure that the stain wash sets in to the briar, I warmed the stummel with a heat gun while being careful that I did not overheat the crack repairs/ fills.Now on to the home stretch… To complete the restoration, I re-attached the stem with the stummel. I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel to my hand held rotary tool, set the speed at about half of the full power and applied Blue Diamond compound to the entire pipe to remove all the minor scratches that remained. I wiped/ buffed the pipe with a soft cotton cloth to clear it of any leftover compound dust. With a cotton buffing wheel earmarked for carnauba wax, I applied several coats of carnauba wax. I worked the complete pipe till the time all the wax was absorbed by the briar. The pipe now boasted of a beautiful and lustrous shine. I vigorously rubbed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine and also clean away any residual wax that had been left behind. I vigorously buffed the nickel ferrule with a jeweler’s cloth and brought it to a nice shine. I was very happy with the way this beauty had turned out. The following pictures speak of the transformation that the pipe has undergone. There was only one more issue that needed to be addressed and one that could not be ignored, being a functional issue. After I had lined the walls of the chamber with a thin coat of J. B. Weld, it was necessary to prevent the walls from coming in to direct contact with the burning tobacco. I addressed this issue by mixing activated charcoal and plain yogurt to a thicker consistency, just enough that it would spread easily and thereafter applied it evenly all along the chamber walls after inserting a folded pipe cleaner through the draught hole to keep it open. Once dry and set, this will not only protect the walls but also aid in faster buildup of cake.P.S.: This project was one with many challenging issues that needed to be addressed, the first and biggest being finding an original Peterson’s system P-lip pipe stem, ensuring a snug fit in to the mortise, modifying the stem to function as it is supposed to and finally addressing, fixing and masking all those cracks. But now that the project is completed and the pipe is definitely smoke-able and gorgeous looking, I cannot but thank Steve who goaded me in to working on this pipe in the first place and for all the input/ suggestions rendered during the process to help me preserve memories of ancestor.

I wish to thank each one for sparing their valuable time to read through this write up and sharing this journey with me while I enjoyed working on this treasured inheritance.

 

Back to Working on my Inheritance; a Large Stanwell # 82R Billiard with Regd No.


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Having completed the Dunhill Bruyere that once was in the trust of Farida’s Dad; I wanted to work on something easy as I was to proceed on leave to my home in the next 15 days leaving behind my tools and paraphernalia that I use for restoring pipes. I rummaged through the pile of 50 odd pipes that Abha, my wife, had cleaned up and sent me and from that lot, I chose this inherited Stanwell as my next project on the premise that it would be a simple ‘refurbishing only’ task.

This large straight sandblasted Billiard pipe is stamped on the smooth underside of the shank from the foot towards the shank end as “STANWELL” in an arch over “REGD. No 969-48” followed on the right by “HAND MADE” over “MADE IN DENMARK” in block capital letters followed by shape code/ model number “82R” towards the shank end. The Silver Crowned S adorns the left side of the vulcanite stem.There is adequately detailed and informative material available on both pipedia.org and pipephil.eu on the brand; however, I was keener to know the exact dating and correlate the pipe details with the shape code. The late Basil Stevens was considered an authority on all things Stanwell and on surfing the net, I came across this site which gives out pointers to dating a Stanwell pipe; here is the link https://www.scribd.com/document/45022903/Stanwell-Dating-Pricing-Information-by-Basil-D-Stevens.

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

Dating Information:

1) Regd. No. stamping discontinued in late 1960s to very early 1970s. This is the Stanwell trade mark registration. The “48” indicates that the registration was made in 1948. (info rec’d from Jorgen Grundtvig, Managing Director, Stanwell A/S).

2) Up until the early 1960s only the top pipes, e.g. “Hand Cut” had the stem/mouth pieces stamped with the Stanwell logo of a crown over “S”.

Next I wanted to ascertain if I could pinpoint this particular shape and model numbered pipe in any catalogs and sure enough, pipedia.org, in one of its offsite links to the catalog from the period 1960-70 does have this same pipe on page 18 under STANWELL GIANTS, here is the link; http://files.homepagemodules.de/b169807/f122t2510p9193n1.pdf

The last bit of curiosity in my mind was to link the model number on my Stanwell to the description of the shape and designer, if possible. Again pipedia.org has a section on “Stanwell Shape Numbers and Designers” and sure enough, 82R finds a mention as large billiard, taper bit, but no mention of designer! (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Stanwell_Shape_Numbers_and_Designers).

Thus from the above, it is amply evident that the pipe now on my work table is from the 1960s and is from the “GIANT” line offering from Stanwell!!

Now on to restoring this Stanwell Giant billiard with a taper bit……..

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
This large sandblasted billiard pipe has a nice heft and nicely fills the hand and like most of the pipes from my inheritance; this too has a thick layer of cake in the chamber with overflow of lava on the rim top. The inner rim edge appears sans any damage and would be confirmed once the chamber has been reamed. The condition of the walls of the chamber can be commented upon once the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. However, the external surface of the stummel feels and looks solid and hence I do not foresee any major issues surprising me later. The ghost smells are very strong in the chamber.As is commonly seen on sandblasted pipes with some serious age on them, the crevices are always filled with dust, dirt, oils, tars and grime from all the years of smoking and storage. This one is no exception to this observation. The grooves of the sandblast are filled with dust while the small smooth bottom of the shank which bears the stamping is covered in dust and grime. The fact that the textured patterns of the rustications are dusty and filled with dirt is accentuated more due to the contrast of dark and medium brown stains on the stummel and the shank. The briar looks lifeless and bone dry and has taken on black dull hues. The mortise is full of oils, tars and gunk and air flow is restricted. The stem is heavily oxidized with a couple of deep tooth indentations on both the upper and lower stem surface in the bite zone. The lip edges on either surface are without any serious damage. The stem logo of the letter ‘S’ with a crown on top is crisp and deep.INITIAL CLEANING BY ABHA…
The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 40-50 pipes and this is one of the lot that had reached me for further restoration). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners, 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 pipe presents a very clear picture of what needs to be done to restore this pipe to a decent and smoke worthy condition. I really cannot thank my wife, Abha, enough for all the help and support that she extends me in my pursuance of this hobby. I proceed to carry out my appreciation of the work that needs to be done on this pipe to restore it.

As with all the cleaned pipes that Abha packs, there was a note in the zip lock pouch with issues that she had observed in the pipe. The first point was that she was not happy with the way the stummel had cleaned up and that the inner rim edge appears to be charred in the 6 o’clock direction. She also mentioned about heat fissures along the walls of the chamber. Here are the pictures of the pipe as I had received. To be honest, the pipe had cleaned up nicely. The sandblasted rim top surface does show some accumulation of hardened overflowed lava which should be easy to dislodge with the use of brass wired brush and Murphy’s Oil soap.

The second point was that the chamber has developed heat fissures (marked in red arrows). Close scrutiny of the chamber walls made me realize that there is still a very thin layer of cake in the chamber and it is my experience that this gives an appearance of heat fissures! Only after the cake has been completely removed will I be able to confirm presence of heat fissures or otherwise. The outer rim edge is in good condition. I concur with Abha’s assessment of a likely charred inner edge in the 6 o’clock direction (marked in yellow circle). The ghost smells are still all pervasive. This would necessitate a more invasive internal cleaning of the shank and the chamber. The draught hole is dead center and at the bottom of the heel and leads me to believe that this pipe should be a fantastic smoke. The stummel surface has cleaned up nicely with the intricate sandblast patterns on full display. While Jeff and Steve had been to my place, the importance of preserving stampings on a pipe was discussed in detail and Abha diligently works to preserve the same on all the pipes that she cleans up. This pipe is no exception with stampings clear and crisply preserved. The dark brown hues intermingled with black lends this pipe an attractive appearance which will be further enhanced after a nice polish. The mortise is nice and clean with the airway completely cleaned out and with a full and smooth draw.Now that Abha had rid the stem of all oxidation, the damage to the stem was all too apparent, not severe in this case. A couple of deep tooth marks could be seen on upper stem surface while minor bite marks are seen on the lower surface. The button edge on either surface is in decent condition with a clean airway and horizontal slot opening! These should be easy to address.THE PROCESS
Firstly, I heat the surface of the stem with the flame of a lighter to raise the tooth indentations to the surface and follow it up with a sanding with a piece of folded 220 grit sand paper. This helps to even out the raised surface, address minor tooth chatter and also remove the deep seated oxidation. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove the raised oxidation and the resulting sanding dust. The tooth indentations, though greatly reduced, are still prominent. I need to address this issue. Next I spot fill in these tooth indentations with clear superglue and set the stem aside to cure.While the stem fills were curing, I moved ahead with addressing the issue of heat fissures to the chamber walls. With my fabricated small knife, I scrap the walls and removed all the remaining cake from the chamber and followed it up by sanding the walls with a folded piece of 180 grade sandpaper. Once I had reached the bare briar wood, I wiped the chamber walls with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the residual carbon dust. I was pleased that the chamber walls are sans any heat lines/ fissures.I gently scraped away the charred briar from the rim inner edge till I reached solid briar. Even though the rim deformation is not as pronounced as seen on Farida’s Dad’s Dunhill, it is still a eyesore. I need to address this issue.Prior to moving ahead with the rim repairs, I decided to address the strong ghost smells from the chamber. To eliminate the ghost smells from the pipe, I decided to treat it with salt and alcohol. I do not use Kosher salt as it is not readily available here and if available, it’s very expensive. I use cotton balls which is an at par substitute as I have realized over the last year or so. I draw out a wick from the cotton and along with a folded regular pipe cleaner; insert it in to the mortise and through the draught hole in the chamber. Thereafter, I pack the chamber with cotton balls to about quarter of an inch below the rim inner edge. I soak the cotton balls with isopropyl alcohol up to the brim. About half an hour later, the level of alcohol has gone down, having being absorbed by the cotton. I top it up once again and set it aside overnight. By next afternoon, the cotton and alcohol has drawn out all the remaining oils and tars from the chamber and mortise and the cotton and alcohol had fulfilled its intended task. I removed the cotton balls and ran pipe cleaners through the mortise to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk. The chamber now smells clean and fresh. I set the stummel to dry out naturally. With the internals of the stummel now clean, I cleaned the external surface using a hard bristled toothbrush and Murphy’s Oil Soap. I diligently scrubbed the stummel to remove all the dust and dirt that was embedded in the crevices of the sandblast. 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. With the rim top cleaned of all the overflowing lava, the extent of damage can now be clearly appreciated. I had reached that point in restoration where I had to decide on the way ahead for rim repairs. I could either just let it be as topping would eliminate the sandblast patterns from the rim top (would be very tedious to replicate) or I could go for a complete rebuild. I decided on the latter as topping would significantly increase my work. Using a worn out piece of 150 grit sand paper, I completely remove the charred briar from the outer and inner rim edges in preparation for rebuilding the rim top. Using the layering technique (layer of glue followed by briar dust pressed on to this layer and repeating till the fill is over and above the intact rim surface), I completely rebuild the rim top and set the stummel aside for the fills to harden. Once the rim top surface fill had hardened, I mounted a coarse 150 grit sanding drum on to my hand held rotary tool and setting a speed at half, I carefully sanded off the excess fill from the rim top surface and the rim inner edge till I had achieved a rough match with the intact portion of the rim top and inner edge. With a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper, I worked the inner rim to a crisp and perfectly rounded edge. I gently scrubbed the rim top surface with a brass bristled brush to clean the surface as well as create patterns on the rim top. I further stained the rim repairs with a dark brown stain pen. I was very pleased with the rim surface rebuild at this stage in restoration. I set the stummel aside and worked the stem. The stem fills had cured nicely and using a flat head needle file, I sanded the fill to achieve a rough match with the surrounding stem surface. I further sanded the stem surface with a folded piece of 220 and 320 grit sand papers to further blend in the repairs and followed it with wet sanding the entire stem with 1500 to 12000 grade micromesh pads. I wiped the stem with a moist cloth to remove the dust and monitored the progress being made after every three grit pads. The stem polished up nicely and had a rich deep black shine to it. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil to rehydrate the vulcanite and set the stem aside.Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips, working it deep in to the sandblasts and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful sandblast patterns on full display. The contrast of the dark browns of the raised sandblast with the dark black of the rest of the stummel added an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The last picture is of the rim top that had the refreshed fill and even the most discerning reader will be hard pressed to accurately pin point the fill. I refreshed the stem stamping with a white correction pen. The end result shows a perfectly refreshed stem logo.To complete the restoration, I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and applied several coats of carnauba wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further and remove any residual wax from in between the sandblasts. The finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and is now ready for its long second innings with me. I only wish it could share with me its life story of the past years while I enjoy smoking my favorite Virginia blend in it or maybe an English blend!! P.S. There was only one more issue that needed to be addressed and one that could not be ignored, being a functional issue. After I had rebuild the small portion of the rim inner edge, it was necessary to prevent this part (though very unlikely being too high on the rim edge) from coming in to contact with the burning tobacco. I addressed this by mixing activated charcoal and plain yogurt to a thicker consistency, just enough that it would spread easily and applied it evenly all along the chamber walls after inserting a folded pipe cleaner through the draught hole to keep it open. Once dry and set, this will not only protect the walls but also aid in faster build up of cake.I wish to thank each one for sparing their valuable time to read through this write up.

 

A Project  Close to My Heart;  Restoring a Dunhill from Farida’s Dad’s Collection


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

The next pipe that I have selected as my new project is a very special pipe for the following reasons:-

(a) Firstly, this pipe was in the trust of an adventurer who has been on expeditions to Antarctica, the Arctic and loved Dunhill pipes (and I happen to carry forward that trust with one of his Dunhill pipes).

(b) Secondly, is the reason why and how this pipe came to me. During one of the many Face Time chats with Steve more than a year ago, I remarked that in spite of the huge collection of British, American and Danish pipes that I had inherited, there was not a single Dunhill pipe in it and that how expensive it was to own one. Steve had then only recently acquired an estate lot that contained, amongst other pipes, seven Dunhills. We discussed each of the Dunhill and I zeroed in on one. A few days later, I received a parcel from Steve that contained the Dunhill pipe that I had selected and along with it came another Dunhill in classic Billiard shape. A call to Steve confirmed that the second pipe was not an error, but a surprise for me. He conveyed that should I decide to and thereafter be able to restore it; I could keep it!!

(c) Thirdly and most importantly, I treat this restoration as a tribute to the daughter who loves her father and desired to share that love and those memories with other pipers who wished to carry forward her father’s trust.

Well, with this as a background, the pipe on my work table once belonged to Late Mr. John Barber. His daughter, Farida had requested Steve to restore her Dad’s pipe and pass them on to others for her. Here is the link to the pipe that I had selected for carrying forward the trust of John Barber:-

https://rebornpipes.com/2018/07/07/faridas-dads-pipes-5-restoring-a-dunhill-root-briar-56-bent-billiard/

The above blog makes for a very interesting read to know the personality of Late Mr. John Barber and his adventures as conveyed by his daughter, Farida. The below picture has been picked from the above blog which Steve had done and the pipe that I had selected from Farida’s Dad collection (indicated with a yellow arrow) and the one now on my work table has been marked in blue circle.As with few other pipes from John Barber’s collection, this pipe too has very worn out and faint stampings. Under magnifying glass and bright light one is able to make out the very faint stamping on the left of the shank as “# 197” followed by “DUNHILL” over “BRUYERE”. On the right side the very faint stamping that is visible is “ENGLAND” and a circled “4” followed by the letter “A”. The high quality vulcanite stem bears the trademark Dunhill white dot.To be very honest, I am not very keen to ascertain the vintage of this pipe and lack of stampings don’t help either, since I know that all the pipes that belonged to Farida’s father are from 1950s to 1970s. Having worked on eight Dunhill pipes from my Mumbai Bonanza and researched each one, I roughly know that a Dunhill Billiard with long tapered bit with shape code # 197, similar to what I have on my work table, is from the period 1950 and 1969. This corresponds with other pipes that Steve had worked on from this collection.

I now move ahead with my initial visual inspection as it helps me chalk out a rough path or sequence that I would follow during restoration and also the processes that I would have to employ at each stage of restoration.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
This is indeed one pipe which I would have not have selected and worked on in the first place, even though it is a Dunhill, but for the provenance of this pipe and for the reasons mentioned above. The stummel is covered in dirt and grime of decades of uncared for use and storage. The stummel is very sticky to the touch and appears to be smothered in some kind of lard, could it be whale fat or fish oils from the Arctic or Antarctic expeditions that it had accompanied the previous owner? I would not know, but it is all prevalent over the stummel surface. Underneath all this lard, dirt and grime, the highest quality of the briar and solid feel in hand for which Dunhill pipes are renowned, can be seen and be felt. Beautiful cross grains along the shank bottom, front and back of the stummel await to be revealed in all their glory. Similarly, lovely bird’s eye grains on both the sides of the stummel should show up nicely when the surface is cleaned. A distinct patch on the left and right side of the stummel is prominently seen which could have been caused due melting of the lard (?) from the warmth and holding of the stummel while smoking. There is a prominent crack on either sides of the stummel extending downwards from the rim outer edge towards the heel for a few millimeters and is marked in red circle. The front and foot of the stummel is peppered with dents and dings. These should be addressed to a great extent when I sand the stummel surface to get rid of all the sticky substance and grime. Coming on to the assessment of the rim top surface and the chamber, it is immediately apparent that this is where the maximum damage lies!!!! There is an even layer of thick cake and appears to have been partially reamed before being stowed away. The rim top surface also appears to have been topped to address the severe charring to the inner edge of the rim at 6 o’clock and 12 o’clock direction (marked in red circle) and at the outer edge towards the front and back end of the stummel (marked in green semi circle). The inner edge is completely out of round and is at its thinnest in the 6 o’clock direction and along the left side of the chamber. A crack (marked with yellow arrow) is clearly visible on the left side atop the rim top surface in 9 o’clock direction which extend in to the chamber as well as to the outside as described in stummel condition above. The topped rim surface is considerably darkened and appears to have absorbed copious amounts of oils and tars. I plan to extract these oils through a salt and alcohol soaking of the chamber. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber will be ascertained only after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. However, I envisage heat lines and fissures all over the inner walls what with the pipe being subjected to some serious use! And the smell of St. Bruno tobacco, Farida’s Dad’s favorite tobacco, is all pervading and super strong. The shank and mortise is completely clogged with accumulated oils, tars and grime and air flow is laborious to say the least. The edges of the shank end are out of round resulting in shouldering effect once the stem is seated in to the shank. The seating of the stem also appears to be a bit skewed towards the right side by a minuscule margin though not easily noticeable.The vulcanite stem has calcium depositions on either sides about an inch and a half from the button edge towards the tenon end. There are deeper bite marks on the upper and lower stem surface near the buttons in the bite zone. However, the buttons on either surface is undamaged. The tenon and horizontal slot show heavy deposition of dirt, oils and tars, adversely affecting the air flow.THE PROCESS
The restoration process started with sanding the bite zone of the stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to remove the calcium deposition and followed by internal cleaning of the tenon, stem air way and the slot with pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. This was followed by cleaning the stem surface of all the oxidation by immersing the stem in “Before and After Stem Deoxidizer” bath overnight. This solution developed by Mark, pulls all the oxidation to the surface and makes the subsequent cleaning a breeze.The next morning, Abha my wife, took the stem out and cleaned all the thick sticky solution from the surface under running warm water. She blew out the solution that had clogged the airway and scrubbed out the raised oxidation with cotton pads and a piece of 0000 grade steel wool. She applied a little quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil in to the stem to hydrate the vulcanite and set it aside. The initial sanding with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper had evened out the minor tooth chatter and now that the stem is free of the heavy oxidation, I have a clear understanding of the damage that needs to be addressed, which by the way, is very minimal. I am pleased with the stem appearance at this stage.To raise the deeper bite marks from the upper and lower surface of the stem, I flamed the surface with a lighter flame. I went ahead and sand the raised bite mark with a 220 grit sand paper and sharpened the button edges. With a cotton swab and isopropyl alcohol, I wiped the stem surface to clean it of all the dust. I mixed superglue and activated charcoal powder and filled the bite marks and set it aside to cure. While the stem fill was set aside to cure, I worked the stummel and reamed the chamber with size 3 blade head of PipNet pipe reamer. Using my smaller sized fabricated knife, I removed all the cake from the areas which could not be reached by the reamer head. Very carefully, I removed all the charred briar from the outer and inner edges till I reached solid briar wood. With a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper, I sand the chamber walls to remove the last remaining traces of cake and wiped it with a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I am not very enthusiastic about the way the chamber appears at this stage. The inner edge at the rear has been pushed back significantly thinning the rim top surface. Also, the walls are peppered with numerous minor heat fissures/ lines making a web pattern. The crack, it is now clear, extends in to the chamber over the rim surface and on to the outer stummel surface. Another crack is now evident on the right side of the rim surface, but it’s superficial and not deep. Here is how the chamber appears at this stage, though not very encouraging, I say. Continuing with internal cleaning, I cleaned out the mortise, first by scrapping out the entire dried accumulated gunk with a dental tool. I further cleaned the shank internals with hard and regular pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol. Even after removing the cake from the chamber and cleaning the shank internals, the smells in the chamber are still very strong; in fact, my entire room smells of it!!Before I moved to the next stage in the process, I wanted to access the extent of charring over the outer rim edge. I gently scraped the charred briar from the outer rim edge with a sharp knife. Again not a very encouraging sight as the gaping saddle that was formed at the front and back of the stummel was anything that could be addressed by simply creating a bevel over the outer rim edge. Sad!! I have the option of addressing this issue either by topping the rim top surface or by the way of rebuilding the outer rim edge. I shall decide on the best course of action when I reach that stage.Next I decided to address the copious amounts of oils and tars that have been absorbed by the stummel giving it a considerably darkened appearance and a sticky feel in the hand. I stretched a cotton ball into a thick wick, wound it around a folded pipe cleaner and inserted it in to the shank and pushed it till it came out of the draught hole and packed the chamber, just below the rim, with Kosher salt. I topped the bowl with isopropyl alcohol using a syringe. I topped the bowl with alcohol again after 20 minutes when the alcohol level had gone down and set it aside overnight for the salt and alcohol to do its intended job. The next morning, the salt had turned a dirty and smelly brown and so was the wick and pipe cleaner in the shank. The ghost smells, the rim top dark coloration and the stickiness in the surface were still strong and hence I decided to give it a second salt and alcohol bath. This time around I used cotton balls in place of Kosher salt what with Kosher salt being more expensive and not readily available. I repeated the entire process described above and set the bowl aside overnight. By the next afternoon, the alcohol had drawn out maximum of the remaining oils and tars from the stummel surface and trapped it in the cotton balls. I am satisfied with the condition of the bowl internals with this cleaning.With the internals of the pipe cleaned and sorted, it was time to move to the external cleaning of the stummel. Using a hard bristled tooth brush dipped in undiluted Murphy’s oil soap, I very deliberately scrubbed the stummel, cleaning the surface thoroughly. I was very deliberate on the surface areas which were covered in fat-like sticky substance over which dirt and grime had accumulated over the years. I also cleaned the mortise with a shank brush and dish washing soap. I scrubbed the surface with a pad of Scotch-Brite to rid the surface of the slime. I was surprised to observe the stummel turning greasy white. This would need resorting to some heavy duty and abrasive methods to get rid of this grease from the stummel surface. Here is how the stummel appeared at this stage. I am happy that the salt and alcohol treatment had drawn out all the oils from the pores of the briar as can be seen from the cleaned up rim top surface. Next, I decided to stabilize the cracks that were observed prominently on either sides of the stummel extending downwards from the rim outer edge for a few millimeters. Under a magnifying glass, I marked the end point of the cracks and using a 1 mm drill bit, I drilled a counter hole at the base of the crack taking care that I did not drill a through hole. This ensures that the crack is stabilized and does not spread any further. With a heat gun, I warm the stummel and this expands the crack minutely. I fill this crack with clear CA superglue and firmly press the sides together. Once the superglue had sufficiently hardened, I apply a little superglue along the entire crack (rim top and side of the stummel) and press briar dust over it. This further stabilizes, strengthens and masks the fill in the cracks. I had reached that point in restoration where I had to decide on the way ahead for rim repairs. I could either top the bowl till I had a perfectly even round rim top, compromising on the shape and size or I could go for a complete rebuild. I decided on the latter as topping would significantly reduce the bowl size. Using a worn out piece of 150 grit sand paper, I completely remove the charred briar from the outer and inner rim edges in preparation for rebuilding the rim top. Using the layering technique (layer of glue followed by briar dust pressed on to this layer and repeating till the fill is over and above the intact rim surface), I completely rebuild the rim top and set the stummel aside for the fills to harden. While the rim top rebuild was curing, I decided to address the stem repairs. The stem fills had cured nicely and using a flat head needle file, I sand the fill to achieve a rough match with the surrounding stem surface. I further sand the stem surface with a folded piece of 220 and 320 grit sand papers to further blend in the repairs. However, a minor air pocket was revealed on the lower surface of the stem and I spot filled it with clear superglue and set it aside to cure and turned my attention to the stummel repairs again.The rim rebuilt surface had cured nicely. I could now proceed with reshaping the rim top and the inner rim edge to an even round. I mount a coarse 150 grit sanding drum on to my hand held rotary tool and setting a speed at half, I carefully sand off the excess fill from the rim top surface and the rim inner edge till I had achieved a rough match with the intact portion of the rim top and inner edge. I further top the rim on a 220 grit sand paper to achieve a seamless rim top surface. With a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper, I worked the inner rim to a crisp and perfectly rounded edge. I am very pleased with the rim surface rebuild at this stage in restoration. Staying with the stummel, I next decide to address the greasy white coating of whale fat or blubber or whatever fats that covered the stummel surface (remember all the Arctic and Antarctic expeditions on which this pipe must have accompanied Late Mr. John Barber!!). I sand the entire stummel surface with a piece of 180 grit sand paper. I frequently wiped the stummel with a cloth wetted in hot water to get rid of the loosened fat coating. A lot of elbow grease and few grueling hours later, beautiful bird’s eye grains and swirls began to make an appearance over the stummel surface. With renewed vigor, I completely remove the greasy white coat of fat from the stummel. I was careful not to sand the sides of the shank, but only wiping with hot water in an attempt to preserve the worn out stampings on this pipe. Though the surface has been cleaned up nicely, it appears dry and lackluster. I rub a small quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil in to stummel to hydrate the briar and set it aside for the oil to be absorbed by the briar. The grains in the stummel now pop out and appear resplendent in their beauty. All the hard work up to this stage was well worth the effort and much more. The following pictures speak for themselves! To further smooth out the rim top, I topped the rim surface over piece of 320 grit followed by 420, 600 and 800 grit sand papers. Even though the cracks have now been exposed as a result of this topping, I am not overly worried as I am confident that the cracks have been solidly filled and stabilized.At this point I decided to work on the inner walls of the chamber. There are heat lines seen on the walls of the chamber and add to that the rebuilt inner edge using superglue and briar dust. To protect the walls and prevent the superglue and briar dust from coming in to direct contact with the burning tobacco, I plan to first coat the rebuilt part and the heat lined surface of the chamber walls 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 two equal parts (ratio of 1:1) with hardening time of 5-6 minutes and complete curing time of 6-8 hours. I poured the contents of the two tubes and mixed it well. With a flat bamboo frond, I applied this mix, as evenly as possible, over the intended areas. I worked fast to ensure an even coat over the chamber walls before the weld could harden. I set the stummel aside for the application to harden and cure overnight. By next afternoon when I got back to working on this pipe, the J B Weld coat had completely cured and hardened considerably. With a folded piece of 150 grit sandpaper, I sand the weld coating to a smooth surface and continued till I had as thin a coat as was essential to protect and insulate the walls from the direct heat of the burning tobacco. Here are pictures of the process and the progress at this stage. Wanting a change, I decided to now tackle the stem fill which had been left curing for the last couple of days. Little did I know at this point that I was still some days away from completing the stem repairs!! I followed the golden rule of pipe restoration; “Less is more” and move ahead with sanding the fill with a piece of 220 grit sand paper without first using a flat head needle file. I followed it up with sanding the entire stem surface with 400, 600 and 800 grit sand papers. I finished the sanding regime with a 0000 grade steel wool. It was at this stage that I noticed the same dreaded air pocket and the fill was peeling out. With a dental pick, I completely removed the old fill and refilled it with a fresh mix of activated charcoal and superglue. I set the stem aside to cure overnight, third fill for the same spot!! With time still on my side before I hit the bed for the night, I decided to work on the stummel which had been set aside to absorb the olive oil. I thoroughly wiped the bowl with an absorbent paper towel to remove all the excess oils from the bowl surface. I polished the stummel, including the newly rebuilt rim top surface, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. I wiped the surface with a moist cloth to remove all the sanding dust left behind by the pads. I was very careful with the stamping as I desired to preserve as much of the worn out stampings as was possible. Though the rebuilt rim surface and outer rim edges stand out as sore thumb at this stage, I intend to mask the same with a dark stain. The stummel surface appears promising and I am absolutely in love the bird’s eye grains on this pipe. Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful darkened grain patterns on full display. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. While the stummel was set aside for the balm to be absorbed, I worked the stem fill which had cured over 24 hours. I sand the fill with a used and worn piece of 180 grits sandpaper and followed it with wet sanding the entire stem with 1500 to 12000 grade micromesh pads. I wiped the stem with a moist cloth to remove the dust and monitor the progress being made after every three grit pads. The stem polished up nicely and has a rich deep black shine to it. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil to rehydrate the vulcanite and set the stem aside.Though the stummel had cleaned up nicely with a deep color to the briar, it was nowhere near the deep reddish brown coloration associated with the Bruyere line of Dunhill pipes; in fact it was much lighter. While restoring a Dunhill Bruyere from my Mumbai Bonanza (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/03/13/reconstructing-a-broken-stem-on-dunhill-bruyere-51671/), I had stained the stummel in cherry red stain and though the end results were great, it was not the original color associated with a Bruyere. The comments and suggestions received from esteemed readers of the write up pointed me in the direction of achieving this color!!! I decided to first apply a coat of DB followed by a final coat of red stain. However, when I went through my stains, I realized that I did not have Dark brown stain; the Feibing’s stain bottle had mysteriously dried out!!!!! The next best option available was the Cordovan. I consulted Steve and though he was not sure about the color, he encouraged me to go ahead and that is exactly what I did. I heated the stummel surface with my heat gun to open up the pores on the stummel so that the stain is well set while being careful that I do not overheat the fill, a lesson learned while restoring Steve’s Alexander Zavvos pipe. I dipped a folded pipe cleaner in Feibing’s Cordovan leather dye and liberally applied it over the heated surface of the stummel, flaming it with a lighter as I progressed. This helps in the setting of the stain in the grain of the briar. I set the stummel aside overnight for the stain to set. The next afternoon, I mounted a felt cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and proceed, as my dear friend Dal Stanton likes to say “unwrap the coat of stain to reveal the grains” on the stummel surface. Alas, there was no revelation of any sorts!! All that I saw was a dark stummel. You must understand my disappointment at this stage. I realized that the stain coat was too thick. I needed to lighten it up a bit and hence, with a cotton swab wetted in isopropyl alcohol, I wiped the entire stummel surface. Though the stain has lightened a bit, it was not the result that I desired. Here is how the stummel appeared at this stage. To further lighten the stain and “reveal” the stummel grains, I dry sand the entire stummel with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. The grains are now clearly visible. However, the trademark color of Bruyere line is still an illusion……it was browner than the reddish brown stain that I was looking for. I decided on giving the stummel a stain wash with a Cherry Red stain as suggested by Steve. I diluted the Cherry Red stain powder in 99.9% isopropyl alcohol in approx ratio of 1:4. With a cotton swab, I dabbed the diluted stain over the stummel surface, letting it set for a few moments and thereafter wiping it off with a dry clean cotton swab. I repeated the process till I had achieved the desired coloration. I am pleased with the color of the stummel which is as close as I could achieve, to the original Bruyere color. This time around, even the fills had absorbed the stain and blended in nicely with the rest of the stummel. To complete the restoration, I reattach the stem with the stummel. I mount 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. This dude has definitely come a long way from the condition it was in at the start.Now that the cosmetic aspects of this pipe have dealt with, all that remained was the functional aspect that needs to be taken care of. The minor heat lines and the J B Weld coated surface needs to be protected from the direct heat of the burning tobacco and for this; I coat the complete chamber walls with a mix of activated charcoal and yogurt and set it aside to harden naturally.I shared a few pictures of the pipe with my mentor, Steve, expecting some hearty praises on this restoration!! However, his keen eyes noticed an issue which had missed mine. He very gently pointed that a sterling silver band at the shank end would mask the shouldering that was inadvertently created!! This remark of his left me shocked!! Not at the remark as such, but at the fact that I had shouldered the shank end during the restoration process. Still smarting at being chided by my teacher, I revisited all the pictures and true enough, this issue already existed and I had missed out mentioning it in my initial inspection in the write up and hence missed it out during the entire process. I made necessary amendments to the post and had to keep the pipe aside till I reached back home during my leave where my local silversmith would fabricate one such ring for me.

I revisited the small, dingy and unsophisticated shop with rudimentary tools where the craftsman had built me a Sterling Silver ring for an Alfred Massin Meerschaum cutty that I had restored two months ago (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/10/09/complicating-a-simple-restoration-of-a-cutty-meerschaum/). The craftsman at the shop made me a perfect ring for the Dunhill shank end. This ring not only masks the shouldering, it also adds a touch of class while breaking the monotony of the pipe. I refreshed the bowl coating with activated charcoal yogurt mix and completed this project with a vigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth. How I wish I had carried my hand held rotary tool and some carnauba wax for a final polish while on leave!!! Nevertheless, the finished pipe has received a fresh lease on life and is now all set to stay with me for the rest of my time on this earth as part of my Dunhill rotation. The repairs are solid and blended in well with the surrounding surfaces. All that now remains is to load a nice English blend and enjoy a quite peaceful smoke… P.S. This perhaps would be the longest write up that I ever have posted on rebornpipes.com!! Apart from the Alfred Massin Meerschaum pipe that I have mentioned above, this project extended over a period of two months, just for the want of sterling silver band. Nonetheless, it was one project that I enjoyed working on and hope that my Guru and mentor Steve gives me passing marks on this test project (remember that it was a sort of test put forth by Steve for me!).

The most important aspect of this restoration was being able to live up to the belief and faith that Farida had entrusted in Steve and through him, in me, to carry forth the trust of her Father. It is while working on this project that I fully comprehend and understand what and why Dal Stanton calls himself Pipe Steward!! A perfect term coined by this well read gentleman, I say.

Farida, if at all you read this write up, I wish to let you know that it has been a privilege to have been afforded an opportunity to carry forward the trust of your father. As I puffed on this Dunhill, I could conjure up images of your father and his dogs amidst all the snow and loneliness…. A MAN, HIS FAITHFUL PIPE AND HIS BELOVED DOGS!! Thank you Steve and Farida…… and the pipe has a new friend!!

Restoring a Thorburn Clark XL Rusticated Pipe


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

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

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

I quote from the above site

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COMPLICATING A SIMPLE RESTORATION OF A CUTTY MEERSCHAUM!!


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PART II

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

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION

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

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