Tag Archives: polishing a Cumberland stem

Restoring a GiGi Castagna 1988 Collezion 721 Rusticated Brandy with a Cumberland Stem

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe was another surprise to Jeff and me when  it came in a lot of pipes that we bought it from the fellow in Copenhagen, Denmark on January 26, 2023. Most of what we have picked up from him are Danish Pipes and few interesting exceptions. However, this Italian Made rusticated Brandy was a unique addition. It is a rusticated oval shank Pot with a smooth rim top and band at the shank end. The pipe is stamped on the underside of the shank and reads GiGi [over] Castagna. To the left is the shape number 721 and to the right is the line – Collezion [over] 1988. The bowl appeared to be lightly smoked with raw briar on the lower half. The smooth rim top was clean and the edges undamaged. The finish on the rusticated bowl was dull looking with dust in the grooves of the rustication. The Cumberland saddle stem is oxidized and dirty but otherwise undamaged. It came with a flannel bag stamped The Danish Pipe Shop in a circular logo. Jeff took these photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work.He took photos of the rim and bowl to show how clean the inside was and the lightly smoked condition. The bowl and the rim top and edges were in flawless condition. He also took photos of the stem surfaces to show its overall condition when it arrived. It was lightly oxidized and dirty but did not have any tooth marks or chatter. The photos of the sides and heel of the bowl show the rugged rustication around the bowl and shank sides. The rich tan stain adds depth to the finish. He also took a photo of the stamping on the smooth panel on the underside of the oval shank. The stamping was clear and read as noted above.I turned to Pipephil’s site to see what I could learn about the GIGI brand and the carver who had made the pipe (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-g3.html). I have included a screen capture of the pertinent section from the site. The information I found was as follows:

Artisan: Luigi “Gigi” Crugnola made at Gigi Pipe Via Rovera, 40 21026 Gavirate Oltrona al Lago (VA).

Now I knew that the pipe was made by Luigi “GIGI” Crugnola. That was the extent of the information on that site. I turned to Pipedia to see if I could gain a bit more information on the brand as it generally has a great digest of the history of the brand and maker (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Gigi). I quote the article in full below:

Luigi “Gigi” Crugnola was born in 1934, the same year Giorgio Rovera founded a company in his own name in Varese, Italy along with partners Angelo and Adele Bianchi, who also happened to be Luigi Crugnola’s Uncle and Mother, respectively. The company produced pipes for 30 years, largely exported to America and elsewhere in the world. Crugnola took over the company in 1964 with the death of Angelo Bianchi, changing the name soon after to his own nickname Gigi, and continues to run the company today. The vast majority of Gigi pipes continue to be made for export.

What I learned is that the pipe was made post 1964 and was in all likelihood made for export. We purchased this pipe from our Copenhagen, Denmark connection so indeed it was exported. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

Jeff cleaned up the pipe for me. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to clean off the grime and dust off the finish. The cleaning had removed the debris and left the pipe looking very good. He cleaned up the internals of the shank, mortise and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove any remnant of oils and tars in the lightly used pipe. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and was able to remove much of the oxidation, calcification. When it arrived here in Vancouver it was a clean pipe and I knew what I had to work with. I took photos of it before I started my part of the restoration. I took a photo of the rim top and the stem to show their condition once it arrived in Canada. Jeff was able to clean up the rim and bowl sides as shown in the photos below. He was also able to get rid of the grime and grit in the surface of the briar. The Cumberland stem was quite clean and just needed a good polishing. I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It reads as noted above.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the parts to give a sense of what the pipe looks like. It is a proportionally pleasing pipe with classic dimensions and an oval shank with a Cumberland stem.I started my work on the pipe by polishing the smooth rim top with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding debris. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm and a horsehair shoe brush to deep clean them. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I worked it in with my fingers and the brush to get it into the rustication of the briar. I let it sit for 10 minutes then I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I set aside the bowl and turned my attention to the stem. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I gave it a further polish with Before & After Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I finished by wiping the stem down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I put the Cumberland stem back on the GiGi Castagna 1988 Collezion 721 Brandy and took the pipe to the buffer. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to lightly buff the briar and the Cumberland. Blue Diamond does a great job on the smaller scratches that remain in both. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. I am amazed at how well it turned out. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is a beautiful GiGi Castagna 1988 Collezion – the Cumberland saddle stem and the rusticated finish combine to give this Brandy pipe a great look. The polished Cumberland stem looks really good with the deeply rusticated bowl and shank. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.62 ounces/46 grams. This beautiful pipe will soon be added to the rebornpipes store in the Pipes By Italian Pipe Making Companies section of the store. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this beauty!

Can this one be brought back to life? A Butz-Choquin Rocamar 1319 Bent Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is French made Bent Billiard with rugged sandblast that looks like it was helped along by a guided hand. Jeff purchased it on eBay on 04/14/17 from a seller in New Tripoli, Pennsylvania, USA. The shape of it fits well in the hand and has a tactile feel as well. The pipe is stamped on the underside of the shank and reads Butz-Choquin [over] Rocamar. That is followed by St. Claude France [over] the shape number 1319. Rocamar in Spanish means Rocklike and that applies well to the finish on this one. The finish appears to be a rugged sandblast but I am not sure if it is as it appears. The finish is a rich reddish brown colour and it is dirty with grime ground into the grooves of the finish. The bowl had a thick cake in it and a thick overflow of lava spills over the rim top. It is thick enough to make assessing the edges hard to do. The bent taper Cumberland stem was oxidized, calcified and had deep tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button and on the button surface itself. There was a BC logo encased in a circular, clear acrylic inlay on the left side of the stem. There was a band on the end of the stem composed of twin brass rings and a wafer of briar between them. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his work on the clean up. The exterior of the pipe was very dirty – grime and grit ground into the blasted/carved finish from years of use and sitting. The rim top was covered with a coat of thick lava that overflowed from the thick cake in the bowl. It was hard to know what the rim edges looked like because of the lava. The stem was dirty, calcified and oxidized with tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside of the stem ahead of the button and on the button surface. Jeff took a photo of the side and the heel of the bowl to give a better feel for the condition of the briar around the bowl. It is an interesting finish that has the look of a sandblast but also seems to look like some rustication/carving as well. The next photos show the stamping on the underside of the shank and it is very readable. It reads as noted above.  Jeff also took a photo of the chipped edge of the shank on the right side where it met the stem band. It appeared that someone had tried to pry off the stem from the shank and damaged the shank end in the process.I turned to Pipephil’s site (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-butzchoquin.html) to see if I could find any information on the Rocamar line. There was nothing there on the line itself to help me understand more about it. There was a good summary of the history of the brand that I have included below.

The origin of the brand reaches back to 1858 when Jean-Baptiste Choquin in collaboration with his son-in-law Gustave Butz created their first pipe in Metz (France). Since 1951 Butz-Choquin Site officiel Butz Choquin, pipes de Saint-Claude jura. BC pipe de bruyere luxe is a brand of the Berrod-Regad group (Saint-Claude, France).

Jean Paul Berrod managed the company from 1969 to 2002 when he retired and sold the corporate to Mr Fabien Gichon. Denis Blanc, already owner of EWA, took over the S.A. Berrod-Regad in 2006.

I then turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Butz-Choquin) to see if I could find any info on the Rocamar line. There was nothing there either but there was further information on the brand itself. I have included it below.

The pipe, from Metz to Saint-Claude.

Jean-Baptiste Choquin of Metz started out as a tobacconist. This enterprise was prosperous; he had several employees. Among those, there was a certain Gustave Butz who was its first workman and who became his son-in-law by marrying Choquin’s daughter Marie in 1858.

In 1858 Jean-Baptiste Choquin created, in collaboration with Gustave Butz, the Choquin pipe. This bent pipe with a flat-bottomed bowl was finished with an albatross-bone mouthpiece, fixed with silver rings.

In 1858, still in Metz, Gustave Butz built an establishment for the manufacture of the Choquin pipe which took the name of . In 1951, the Berrod-Regad company bought the trademark, continuing manufacture until 2002. Departing from Metz, the workshop was relocated to Saint-Claude, then also called “the world capital of the briar pipe”, under the Berrod-Regad group. The Berrod-Regad group would go on to completely rebuild the network of representatives until finally entering the export market in 1960 and has since won several prizes, as well as the Gold Cup of French good taste.

In a few years, the brand’s collection increased from ten to seventy series. 135 years after it was founded, the pipe is still well-known not only in France but throughout the world. In 2002, the Berrod family, wishing to preserve manufacture of pipes in Saint-Claude, handed over the company to Fabien Guichon, a native of the area, who will continue to develop the brand during the 21st century.

The site also had some catalogue pages showing the various shape numbers thanks to Doug Valitchka (https://pipedia.org/images/0/03/BC_Shape02.jpg). I am including a screen capture of the page that shows the shape 1319 Bent Billiard. I have circled it in red in the chart below.Jeff had reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals of the shank and stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks much better but there is still some darkening on the rim top and edges of the bowl. Jeff scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the vulcanite. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked a lot better. It has been sitting here for 5 years so it is about time I worked on it. I took photos this morning before I started my part of the work.  I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. I wanted to show the cleaned bowl and rim top. The rim top and the inner and outer edges of the bowl were in good condition. The top of the bowl had some darkening in the grooves of the carved surface of the rim top and the inner edge of the bowl. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks on the stem surface. I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank and it is faint but readable. It is stamped as noted above.   I removed the stem for the shank and took a photo of the bowl and stem to give a picture of what it looked like. The Rocamar finish is totally unique.I started my work on the pipe by addressing the chip on the right end side of the shank where it met the stem. I used a dental spatula to rebuild the chip with clear CA glue and briar dust. Once it cured I sanded the repair smooth. With the repair finished I turned my attention to the darkening on the rim top and inner edge. I wiped the rim top and edge down with some acetone on a cotton pad. I used a brass bristle wire brush to clean up the grooves in the carving on the rim top. I also used the wire brush on the rest of the bowl as well to clean up the debris of time in the box here. The bowl and the rim top came out looking much better.I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine.  I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I used the flame of a Bic lighter to “paint” the surface of the stem to lift the tooth marks on both sides of the stem. The heat lifted many of the marks. I filled in what remained with clear CA glue and set it aside to harden.  Once the repairs cured on the top and underside of the stem I filed them flat and recut the button edge with a small file. I sanded them with a folded piece of 220 sandpaper. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.   I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.  I left a little oxidation around the stamp so as not to damage it more.   This Butz-Choquin Rocamar 1319 Bent Billiard was a fun one to work on. Did we achieve our goal of bringing it back to life? In the end, you have to decide. To my mind it cleaned up really well and looks very good. The Before & After Restoration Balm brought the colours and grain out in the sandblast/carve finish on the pipe. It works well with the polished Cumberland taper stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Butz-Choquin Rocamar Bent Billiard fits nicely in the hand and I think it will feel great as it heats up with a good tobacco. The tactile finish will add to the experience. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 2.15 ounces/61 grams. If you are interested in carrying the previous pipeman’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store in the French Pipe Makers Section. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

Pipe Gods Smiled And I Got Not One But Three Les Wood Pipes… Restoring a Les Wood Poker

Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Les Wood pipes are on every collector’s either wish list or in personal collection and I am no exception, though I was in the former category up until now. These pipes are as rare as hen’s teeth and very rarely make an appearance on the estate pipe market and whenever they do, the stratospheric prices made them beyond my reach. After waiting for years on end, I came across a gentleman desirous of parting with his Les Wood pipes collection. We discussed the price and I discussed with Abha, my wife, discussed some more with the gentleman, again discussed a lot more with my wife and thereafter again discussed some with the gentleman and after all these discussions, three Les Wood pipes made their way from the European Union to India.

The first of the three Les Wood pipes that I decided to work on is a rusticated large, stout classic poker with a beautiful Cumberland stem. The large rusticated chunky stummel feels great in the hand and given its size, it is definitely not a light weight. The pipe is stamped on the smooth surface of the foot of the stummel as “FERNDOWN” in a slight arc over “BARK” over “HAND MADE IN” over “ENGLAND” over “LES WOOD”. Running oblique to the FERNDOWN BARK on the left side are three stars one below the other. The Sterling silver band bears the stamp “L & JS” in a rectangular cartouche over “.925”. The Cumberland stem is stamped on the left side as “L J S”I had read about Leslie John Wood sometime back when I read an article on English pipes and pipe carvers. I remembered that he worked for Dunhill’s as a silversmith. Just to refresh my memory, I visited Reborn Pipes and sure enough, Steve had indeed worked on and researched Les Wood. It’s very comprehensive and is recommended as a read. Here is the link to the write up.


From the article, I know I am working on a ‘BARK’ grade pipe (ca. 90%, rusticated, dark brown and black) in size 3 from Les Wood.

Initial Visual Inspection
The pipe is actually in quite a good condition. The chamber has a very thin layer of cake that is even all around and is rock hard. The stummel surface feels solid to the touch and thus, I don’t anticipate any serious issues with the chamber walls. The rim top surface is smooth and devoid of any cake build up or darkening over the surface. The rim edges are in pretty good condition too. The stummel finish has faded more towards the foot of the stummel and has a lot of dirt and grime ground into the rusticated finish. This makes the stummel appear dull, lifeless and lackluster. The silver band at the shank end is deeply oxidized and appears blackened. The Cumberland stem is deeply oxidized with a couple of minor tooth indentations in the bite zone. Here are a few pictures of the pipe as it sits on my worktable. It’s a nice solid pipe with a robust construction yet elegant in its huge size and shape. This one will take your breath away once it is restored, I think.

Detailed Inspection
There is a thin layer of cake in the chamber that is even all around. The cake is hard and compact and this makes me believe that it has been regularly reamed to maintain the correct cake thickness in the chamber. The condition of the chamber walls can be ascertained only once the cake has been taken down to the bare briar; however, I do not foresee any major issues with the chamber walls. The smooth rim top has no dents and dings and overflowing lava. The condition of the inner rim edge will be known once the complete cake has been removed and the surface thoroughly cleaned. The chamber does have smells of old tobaccos and would need to be addressed.The rustication on the stummel surface are very fine and shallow. It is a very uniquely rusticated stummel for sure. The stain has faded from the lower half of the bowl and lower surface of the shank. The surface looks tired and lifeless and would benefit from a nice thorough TLC routine. The shank is quite clean and has no signs of accumulated old oils and gunk. The draw is nice and smooth. The Cumberland stem is deeply oxidized with minor tooth chatter in the bite zone on either surface. The horizontal slot opening is clean and the tenon shows accumulation of old dried oils and gunk. The airflow through the stem is smooth and easy. That my detailed appreciation of the condition of this pipe was completely off the mark became amply evident as I went through the process of refurbishing this pipe.

The Process
I started the process of refurbishing this pipe with internal cleaning of the stem and this is where my initial appreciation of the stem condition faulted. Using thin shank brushes and anti-oil dish washing soap, I cleaned the stem airway. I have modified this process of cleaning the stem airway by doing away with pipe cleaners and alcohol as it saves me a ton of pipe cleaners, which is a precious commodity for me here in India. To say that the airway was filthy, would be an understatement as is evidenced by the following pictures. The dark smelly and sticky goo that was being dislodged with each passing of the shank brush was never-ending. However, I persevered with my efforts till only white clean foam came out of the stem airway, indicating that the airway was nice and clean. I ran a couple of pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol through the airway to dry it out and make sure that there are no traces of soap and gunk hidden in the airway.With the stem internals now clean, I moved to external cleaning of the stem surface by dunking the stem into “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution developed by my friend Mark Hoover. The solution helps to draw out heavy oxidation to the surface making it’s further removal a breeze, while the minor oxidation is eliminated to a very great extent. I usually dunk stems of 5-7 pipes that are in-line for restoration and the FERNDOWN BARK is marked in red arrow. I generally allow the stems to soak in this solution overnight for the solution to do its work.While the stem was set aside to soak in the deoxidizer solution, I moved on to removing the thin (????) layer of cake from the chamber walls. Boy was I wrong in my assessment of thin layer and how! I started the reaming process with head size 2 of the PipNet reamer blade and progressed through head sizes 3 and 4. The blades kept cutting through the layers of cake and there seemed no end to it. Finally, I resorted to using my Kleen Reem pipe tool extended to its max width to divest the chamber walls of its entire carbon layer. The chamber is huge ! I used my fabricated knife to remove cake from areas inaccessible to the reamer blades and completed the process of removing the cake by sanding the walls smooth with a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper. I wiped the chamber with a cotton swab wetted with alcohol to clean the residual carbon dust. The chamber walls are solid and the minor thin veins that are visible over the walls are not heat fissures but an ultra thin layer of carbon which will be addressed once the cake is loosened up after a salt and alcohol bath, or at least that is what I hope for. Next, I cleaned the mortise by scraping out all the dried oils and tars from the walls. My assessment of the mortise being clean was proved wrong by the amount of crud that was scraped out. The icing on the cake was when I tried to clean the airway with a folded pipe cleaner dipped in alcohol and it just wouldn’t pass through. I realized that the airway was clogged to some extent. Using the drill bit attachment from the Kleen Reem pipe tool, I cleaned out the accumulated oils and tars from the airway and ran a folded bristled pipe cleaner dipped in alcohol through the airway. I checked the draw and if earlier I felt the draw was smooth and open, after the cleaning, it was surreal! The draw was something I had not experienced earlier. The air literally gushed through the airway. This one is a sure fire excellent smoker.Continuing with the internal cleaning of the chamber and shank, I subjected it to a salt and alcohol bath. I used cotton balls which is an at par substitute as I have realized over the years. I drew out a wick from the cotton and along with a folded regular pipe cleaner; inserted it into the mortise and through the draught hole and further into the chamber. Thereafter, I packed the chamber with cotton balls to about quarter of an inch below the rim inner edge and soaked the cotton balls with isopropyl alcohol up to the brim. About half an hour later, the level of alcohol had gone down, having being absorbed by the cotton. I topped it up once again and set it aside overnight. By next afternoon, the cotton and alcohol had drawn out all the remaining oils/ tars from the chamber and mortise and loosened out any residual cake and tar build up, fulfilling its intended task. I removed the cotton balls and ran pipe cleaners through the mortise to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk. Using my fabricated tool, I scraped out the entire loosed gunk from the mortise and further cleaned it with alcohol and q-tips. I also scraped the moist cake from the chamber using my knife and sanding it smooth with 180 grit sandpaper. The chamber now smelled clean and fresh and the tiny veins observed in the chamber were eliminated. I set the stummel to dry out naturally. I cleaned the external surface of the stummel with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a hard bristled toothbrush. I cleaned the smooth rim top surface with the soap and Scotch Brite pad. I thoroughly cleaned the mortise with shank brush and anti-oil dish washing soap. I polished the smooth rim top surface by dry sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads.  Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” into the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works it’s magic and the briar now had a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful rustication patterns on full display. I have been using this balm ever since I embarked on this journey and it is this part of restoration that I always look forward to. I further buffed it with a horse hair shoe brush. This pipe really oozes of a very high quality, in fact one of the best that I have come across. Now that the stummel refurbishing was nearly done and also the stem had now been soaking for more than 24 hours, I removed the stem from the solution. I first scrubbed the stem surface with a Scotch Brite pad, always being mindful of the stem logo on the left side. I followed this scrubbing with a nice cleaning of the surface using a 0000 grade steel wool. I rinsed the stem under running water to rid the stem of the thick solution. I ran a couple of pipe cleaners to remove the deoxidizer solution from the airway. The beauty of a Cumberland stem with swirls of red and black can now be appreciated once the heavy oxidation has been eliminated.The above cleaning also gave a clearer picture of the tooth chatter on either surface in the bite zone. This tooth chatter was very minor and would be easily addressed during the sanding process using various grit sandpapers followed by micromesh pads. I dry sanded the entire stem with 320, 400, 600 and 800 grit sand papers followed by wet sanding using 1000, 1500 and 2000 grit sand papers. This progressive use of higher grit sandpapers helps to, firstly,  reduce the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive ones, secondly, completely eliminate the oxidation and imparting a clean shine to the stem surface. Thirdly, this also helped to even out the minor tooth chatter from the bite zone. I applied a little EVO and set the stem aside for a few minutes. This stem, as the rest of the pipe, is a real beauty.I went through the 3200 to 12000 grit micromesh pads to dry sand the stem. The stem now has a nice deep shine with the swirls coming to life as they dance around the entire stem surface. I rubbed a small quantity of EVO and set the stem aside for the oil to hydrate the stem surface. This is a beautiful stem and I cannot refrain from constant admiration of it. Have a look for yourself….I painted the stem logo L J S using a Gold paint glitter pen and wiped off the excess paint. The stem logo is now nice and prominently visible. I completed this project by hand polishing the stummel with Halcyon II wax. I rubbed this polish deep into the rustication and after a couple of minutes, vigorously hand buffed the stummel with a microfiber cloth to a deep shine. I polished the stem with Blue Diamond compound and subsequently with carnauba wax using my hand held rotary tool. This is a gorgeous looking pipe and will be an integral part of my collection of contemporary Pipe Carvers. I wish to thank each one for sparing their valuable time to read through this write up and praying for the health and safety of you and your loved ones.

Breathing New Life into a Wally Frank Wine Root Bruyere De Luxe Selected Grain Squat Bulldog

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table was purchased on 05/08/19 from an online auction in Cedar Springs, Michigan, USA. Jeff picked it up because we both like Cumberland stems and this little Bulldog had that and some great grain. The pipe is stamped Wine Root [over] Bruyere on the top left side of the shank and  Wally Frank  [over] Limited on the bottom left side. On the top right side it read De Luxe [over] Selected Grain and on the bottom right side it was stamped ITALY. The bowl was heavily caked with a heavy overflow of lava on the beveled rim top. There was some darkening on the outer edge of the rim down the side of the cap toward the back of the bowl. The finish was dirty and oily from the heavy use it had seen. It had a Cumberland push stem and an interesting/odd stinger apparatus in the tenon. The stem was oxidized to the point that the Cumberland was almost hidden. There were tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his clean up work. The a photo of the rim top show the thick lava coat that flows out of the bowl and over the edge of the bowl. It is hard to know what the edges of the bowl – inner and outer – look like because of the lava and cake. The photos of the stem show the heavy oxidation and tooth marks and chatter on both sides. Jeff took a photo of the stinger apparatus that shows how packed full of debris and tars that the fins around the stinger really are.The next three photos show the grain around the sides of the bowl and heel as well as the placement of the fills on the sides of the bowl. It is a pretty neat looking pipe. The next photo shows the stamping on the top left side of the shank. It was clear and readable. Jeff did not take photos of the other sides of the shank.I turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Wally_Frank) to refresh my sense of the history of the brand. I quote below the history that is noted there.

Wally Frank, Ltd. was one of America’s oldest and most respected names in pipes and tobaccos, beginning in the early 1930’s. Wally Frank operated a chain of tobacco stores in New York City (the flagship store was in Lexington Avenue) and had a vast catalog business for pipes and pipe tobaccos. Their numerous private-label pipes were made by many makers, including Charatan, Sasieni, Weber, and many others. Wally Frank, Ltd. also owned the Pioneer brand of meerschaum pipes, made from both Turkish and African meerschaum. In addition to importing pipes, he had many pipes made in his own name and also employed pipemakers like Peter Stokkebye, Svend Bang, and Ed Burak (who later became the owner of Connoisseur). As a result, each Wally Frank pipe must be individually evaluated on its own merit.

Members of Wally Frank’s “The Pipe of the Month Club” received a new pipe in the mail once a month.

In 1952, Wally Frank was on a buying trip in Italy and “discovered” pipe maker Carlo Scotti. Frank liked Scotti’s pipes, but there was the small problem of Scotti’s pipes bearing the same trademark or logo as one of Wally Frank’s pipe lines, the White Bar. The two men decided on creating a new logo for pipes sold in the U.S.: a hole drilled in the stem and with a piece of silver foil inserted in the hole and covered with clear Lucite.

There was no specific information on the line I was working on but the history of the brand was good to be reminded of. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

It may seem that I praise Jeff’s work in cleaning up the pipes I work on a lot! I know I do but he is an indispensable part of the restoration work for me. He has developed a system of cleaning that is quite remarkable and leaves the pipes very clean. It saves me a lot of time so I have no issues saying that! Jeff did a great job cleaning up the pipe as usual. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and cut back the cake back to the bare briar. He cleaned up the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the finish. He worked on the rim top lava and darkening with the soap and tooth brush. He scrubbed the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer. He washed it off with warm water to remove the Deoxidizer. The pipe looked far better when it arrived.    I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show how well it had cleaned up but also to show the damage. The rim top photo looks good but there are some nicks and damage on the top and the beveled inner rim edge. The outer edge is also nicked. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the light tooth marks and chatter on the surface near the button on both sides. The next series of photos show the stamping on the shank sides. The stamping is clear and readable as noted above.I took the pipe apart and took a photo of the pipe. It is a good looking pipe and has some great grain on the side of the bowl. The stinger is very unique and is stained red from the stain on the bowl that has permeated the aluminum.I decided to address the rim top damage first. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to the beveled inner edge to minimize the damage to the rim. I think that it is definitely better once I finished. I would polish the flat top of the rim with micromesh and try to minimize the scratching there. The angle of the stem makes topping the bowl seem impractical.   I polished the briar rim top and edges along with the rest of the briar with micromesh sanding pads –dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and using a damp cloth after each pad. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks and chatter with 220 grit sandpaper and was able to remove them from the surface. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I wiped it down with some Obsidian Oil.I decided to try and clean up the stinger next. I used a brass bristle brush to try to clean off the stain on the aluminum. It did very little so I put it in a small alcohol bath for about an hour to see if it works. I worked on it with a cotton pads and alcohol to remove more of the stain. It did not do too much. I then scrubbed the stinger with acetone and removed some more. It did not remove any more so there is a pink tinge that remove. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Afterwards I rubbed it down with another coat of Obsidian Oil and let it dry. I am excited to finish restoration of this Wally Frank Wine Root Bruyere De Luxe Selected Grain Squat Bulldog. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the polished Cumberland saddle stem. This squat Wally Frank Wine Root Bruyere Bulldog feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¼ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 31 grams/ 1.09 oz. It is a beautiful pipe and one that will be on the American Pipe Makers section of the rebornpipes store soon. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog.

A Danish Borge Mortensen Handmade Brandy Recommissioned

Blog by Dal Stanton

This attractive Bent Brandy got my attention on the European side of eBay.  The seller in Germany posted several pictures.  The name, Borge Mortensen, was new to me, but my experience with Danish pipes had been good.  I was attracted as well to the Cumberland stem, but the lack of bend on it struck me as awkward – not the best orientation, but perhaps that was a Danish characteristic?  When the time ended my bid was enough and the pipe soon arrived here in Bulgaria for me to take a closer look.  I also posted it in the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! online collection to be commissioned by another pipe man or woman benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.The Mortensen also got the attention of Todd, who has commissioned other pipes from me in the past.  Todd is an avid pipe man and contributor to several discussion groups online.  Through our communications, I’ve discovered his love and concern for China in his professional work.  I’ve appreciated our growing relationship cultivated by our common appreciation for pipes.  This relationship developed when I had asked Todd if he minded being ‘bumped’ in the queue line to allow me to restore a very special pipe for a very special guest visiting with us here in Bulgaria for a few weeks.  Chrystal’s visit from China was a special time and resulted in a memorable blog posting for me:  A Special Gift for Her Grandfather in the People’s Republic of China – A Sculpted Rose Billiard of Italy.  Chrystal presented her grandfather the pipe for Chinese New Year and sent pictures to commemorate that special event.

Through this initial encounter with Chrystal, I learned of Todd’s connection with China through his professional pursuits and since then we’ve shared more of each other’s life and family through our emailing….  We’ve decided to share a bowl in the future when our paths can merge on the same continent!  Todd saw this Borge Mortensen Handmade and commissioned it, along with two others that are next in the queue.  Now on the worktable, I take more pictures to get a closer look at the Danish Borge Mortensen. The nomenclature condition is good.  On the top of the Cumberland stem, ‘Mortensen’ is stamped but is thin.  The markings on the underside of the bent shank are impressive. A tilted hammer is ensconced in a shield shaped outline.  Underneath the hammer shield is HANDARBEJDE [over] DANMARK.  A quick trip to Google Translate renders “Handmade”. Scant information is available online about Borge Mortensen.  A quick search on the internet will show a few examples having been sold at different sites.  A small article is found on Pipedia with accompanying pictures ‘courtesy of Doug Valitchka’.

Borge Mortensen of Denmark

In the following example, the name is stamped very small on the top of the turned part of a Cumberland stem. The side has a unique symbol ” the hammer (Mjolnir) of Thor, the god of thunder “. There is also limited stamping on the wood: HANDARBEJDE, DANMARK.  From the examples online of Borge Mortensen pipes and from the Pipedia article (with the same information mirrored in Pipephil.eu) it seems that Mortensen pipes are standard with a Cumberland stem.  The additional information also describes the origin of the Mortensen symbol – the hammer of Thor, of Norse mythology. I would say that this is a distinctive Dane symbol and is cool.

The condition of the pipe is generally good.  The chamber appears to have been reamed but I will clean it further.  The bowl shows nice grain and is generally in clean condition and the grain on the Brandy shape is very nice showing no fills.  The Cumberland stem shows almost no tooth chatter.  One issue is that the 9mm filter holder has separated from the stem and is stuck in the shank.  Care is needed in dislodging the plastic tube – breaking it will not be good.  The lighting is a bit different with the picture below since I’m using natural light while on my ‘Man Cave’ balcony enjoying spring weather on the 10 floor – with a great view!  A cameo appearance enjoying my L. J. Peretti Giant Egg loaded with Peretti Tobacconist of Boston’s, Black Virginia. A delightful time! To dislodge the filter holder from the shank, I put the bowl in the freezer with the hope that the cooling of the wood might help loosen it. While in the freezer, I turn to the Cumberland stem and clean the internals with pipe cleaners and cotton buds wetted with isopropyl 95%.  A small dental spoon tool is used to scrape the internal cavity of tars and oils. The upper and lower bit shows roughness which needs to be removed. Using 240 grade paper, I sand the upper and lower bit area as well as the button.Following the 240 paper, I wet sand the entire stem with 600 grade paper and follow with applying 000 steel wool.  I avoid the ‘Mortensen’ stamping on the top of the stem saddle section.Next, using the full regimen of 9 micromesh pads, I wet sand the stem with pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sand with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads, Obsidian Oil is applied to rejuvenate and protect the stem from oxidation. Moving back to the stummel – I had placed the stummel in the freezer in hopes that it would enable me to extract the plastic filter sheath.  After taking the bowl out of the freezer, I am able to hand turn the sheath and it comes out easily.  After taking another look at the chamber, the reaming job that had been done on it was not enough.  There remained carbon residue.  Using the Pipnet Reaming kit, I use 2 of the 4 blades available – starting with the smallest.  I follow this by using the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to scrape the chamber walls further.  To finish, I use 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen to sand the chamber to remove what carbon cake remained to expose fresher briar. After cleaning the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%, I inspect the chamber, and all looks good – no signs of heating problems.Next, moving to the external cleaning, using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap on a cotton pad, I scrub the briar surface.  Following this, I take the bowl to the kitchen sink and clean the mortise and airway with shank brushes and anti-oil liquid dish soap.  After scrubbing the internals well with hot water, I rinse the bowl thoroughly and transfer it back to the worktable and take a few pictures of the now cleaned surface – it looks good. Using pipe cleaners and cotton buds wetted with isopropyl 95%, I continue cleaning the internals.  A small dental spoon also works well to scrape old tars and oils off the mortise walls.  In time, the buds and pipe cleaners begin to emerge lighter and I call this phase of the internal cleaning finished.With the hour being late, I continue the internal cleaning using a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  After twisting and pulling a cotton ball to form a mortise ‘wick’, I use a stiff wire to help guide it down the mortise toward the draft hole.  The wick helps to draw out the old tars and oils to clean and refresh the bowl. Kosher salt is then used to fill the bowl which leaves no after taste and helps to freshen the briar.  With the bowl stabilized in an egg carton, a large eye dropper fills the chamber with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes, the alcohol is drawn into the salt and cotton wick, and I top it off one more time and turn out the lights.The next morning, I was surprised to see almost no soiling of the salt and cotton wick.  This means that the internals are clean indeed!  After removing the expended salt, wiping the chamber with paper towel, and forcefully blowing through the mortise, the expended salt residue is removed. I follow with a pipe cleaner and cotton bud dipped in isopropyl 95% to be sure all is clean.Before bending the Cumberland stem, the filter sheath needs to be reattached so that the stem can be seated correctly in the mortise.  The ribbing on the heavy plastic sheath clearly defines the correct orientation.  Using thick CA glue, a small amount of glue is applied around the ribbing of the sheath and a toothpick helps to spread it.  The sheath is then inserted firmly into the stem cavity and allowed to cure.With the sheath firmly in place, the filter sheath tenon seats well into the mortise.Next on the project list – to provide the Cumberland stem with a bend.  Ideally, the stem orientation should roughly parallel the plane of the rim.  The shortness of this stem creates a challenge for such a tight bend.  The diagram below shows the estimated bend and orientation that is the goal.  To be on the safe side, I insert two pipe cleaners into the airway to safeguard the integrity of the airway with the tight bend.  Using the hot air gun, I gradually and patiently warm the stem where the bend is to occur.  The pipe cleaners extending out from the stem are useful as a handle as the hot air warms the Cumberland blend of black and red vulcanite and becomes supple.When the stem becomes sufficiently supple from the heating, I gently bend the stem over a block of wood tightened in the vice.  The rounded curve on corner of the block acts as the mold to provide a tight even bend.After the stem is bent over the block, I hold it steady to allow the rubber to cool by itself.  After the stem firms up in its bend, I then take it to the sink and run cool water over the stem to solidify the bend.  The first attempt is good.  After taking it back to the worktable and placing it on the template I drew, I’m satisfied with the orientation of the bend.  The pipe cleaners do the job and they come out with a little tugging.The bend is good, but after a quick inspection, the underside of the stem has rippled.  This affect can happen with a sharp bend and I probably should have bent the stem sooner in the process before the stem sanding.  We learn with each restoration! To remove the rippling on the underside of the stem resulting from bending the stem, I do a quick detour with 240 grain paper, followed by 600 grade and 000 steel wool.  A quick run through all 9 micromesh pads, 1500 to 12000 with Obsidian Oil between each set of 3, bring the stem back to an acceptable state!  I move on. With the stem now on the sidelines, I focus on the Borge Mortensen stummel.  Not wishing to contribute to the erosion of the Thor’s Hammer Shield nomenclature, I cover the area with masking tape.  Beginning with the rim, there is residual darkened briar from the former steward’s lighting the chamber.  To address this, I use 240 grade sanding paper to sand very gently to clean the rim.  I also sand the interior rim edge to clean and freshen.Following the 240 sanding, I provide a gentle topping using medium and light grade sanding sponges.  This cleans the rim up well.Next, taking the bowl to the sink, I wet sand the stummel with pads 1500 to 2400 and dry sand with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Wow!  I think for the first time in this restoration I’m taking note of the beautiful use of the grain in this Danish Bent Brandy shape. Mark Hoover’s Before and After Restoration Balm works wonders.  After putting a small amount on my fingers, I work the Balm into the briar surface.  The Balm brings out the more subtle tones of the briar hue.  After applying the Balm and letting it set for about 10 minutes, I use a microfiber cloth to wipe off the excess Balm and then buff up the briar surface.While I was waiting for the Restoration Balm to do its thing on the stummel, I apply Before & After Fine and Extra Fine Polish to the Cumberland stem. I start with the Fine Polish applying it to my finger and then rubbing it into the stem.  After rubbing it in, I leave it for about 10 minutes then wipe off the excess with a cloth.  The next stage is applying the Extra Fine Polish in the same way.  Mark’s claim for this product is that it not only rejuvenates but it continues the process of removing oxidation.  After the stem sets for about 10 minutes with Extra Fine Polish on it, again the excess is wiped off with a cloth and the stem is buffed.Now in the home stretch.  After rejoining the stem and stummel, a cotton cloth buffing wheel is mounted to the Dremel to apply Blue Diamond compound to stem and stummel.  With the speed set at about 40% full power the fine abrasive is applied to the surface.Following the application of the compound, after changing to another cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel, maintaining the same speed, carnauba wax is applied to the entire pipe.  After the wax it applied, using a microfiber cloth, I give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing to raise the shine.The grain on this Borge Mortensen Handmade in Denmark is stunning.  The Bent Brandy shape uses the flow of the grain as it moves upwardly toward the top of the Brandy rim – the distinctive bird’s eye grain on the heel of the Brandy corresponds to the vertical grain.  The Cumberland stem is nice and the bend sets the right balance.  Todd commissioned this Borge Mortensen benefitting the Daughters of Bulgaria and he will have the first opportunity to acquire it in The Pipe Steward Store.  Thanks for joining me!