Tag Archives: polishing a Lucite stem

Bringing a Savinelli Estella Non Pareil  9128 Billiard Back to Life


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on my work table is a Savinelli made Estella that my brother purchased 2 years ago at an antique shop in Pocatello, Idaho, USA. It is stamped on the heel of the bowl on a smooth patch – Estella over Non Pareil over 9128 with the Savinelli S shield next to that and Italy to the left of that very faintly stamped. There was also an upper case E on the top of the stem. The rugged rustication on the bowl and shank looked to be dirty or at least had darkening where the hand of the previous owner had wrapped around the bowl. The thick cake in the bowl had overflowed on to the rim top and left behind a thick black mess. It was hard to know what the inner edge of the bowl looked like because of the thickness of the cake and lava. The outer edge of the bowl looked very good. The Lucite shank extension and the matching Lucite stem in grey, brown and ivory tones looked really good – from the side view. The stem had light tooth chatter on both the top and underside near the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. The close up photos of the rim top and bowl show the condition of the pipe. You can see the thick cake in the bowl and the thick lava on the rim top. The stem is in decent condition with light tooth marks and chatter on both sides and the button surface. The next photo shows the stamping on the bottom of the bowl and the shank extension. Other than the S shield logo pointing to a link between Estella and Savinelli the stamping on the Lucite shank extension certified the connection.  There was also an uppercase E on the top of the stem. My brother did his usual thorough clean up on the pipe. He reamed the bowl and scrubbed the externals with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a soft tooth brush. He was able to remove all of the buildup on the rim top. It looked better but there was some burn damage on the inner edge of the rim all the way around the bowl as well as some darkening on the top of the rim. He cleaned the internals of the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol. He wiped down the stem so that when the pipe came to me it was ready to restore. The next four photos show the pipe when I brought it to my work table. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the damage on the inner edge of the bowl and the rim top. I took close up photos of the stem. It was in decent condition with light marks on both sides.   I took a photo of the stamping on the heel of the bowl and the underside of the shank extension. They were readable as noted above.I removed the stem from the pipe and took a photo of the parts to show the overall look of the pipe before I started my work on it.I started my work on the bowl by addressing the issues with the rim top and inner edge of the bowl. I reshaped the inner edge and cleaned up the rim top with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to minimize the damage to the edge by giving it a slight bevel and the top by smoothing it out and removing the burn marks.   Once the top and edge were clean I polished them with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim down after each pad to remove the debris. By the last sanding pad the rim top looked very good.  I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to get into the rusticated grooves and channels. The product works well 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.  I set aside the bowl and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks and chatter on both sides with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. You will note some darkening on the tenon end that would not come off with scrubbing and sanding would reduce the diameter of the tenon and affect the fit in the shank. I touched up the stamp on the top of the stem with Rub’n Buff Antique Gold. I rubbed it on the stem surface and worked it into the stamp with a tooth pick. I buffed it off with a cotton pad. It looked better when it was finished.    I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. After each set of three pads I wiped the stem down with the damp cotton pad to check the progress. I had been able to blend in the tooth marks on both sides.  This Savinelli Estella Non Pareil Rusticated 9128 Billiard with a variegated brown, grey and ivory Lucite stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. There is some great grain on the rim top that really shines and the Caminetto Style rustication is exceptionally well done. I gave the bowl a coat of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a shoe brush. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the wheel to see if I could further smooth and blend the repairs. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad and then once again by hand with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The bowl and rim look really good and the finish is clean and as good as new. The stem and shank extension have a rich glow and they look amazing. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 51gr/1.80oz. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Restoring an English Made Hadley Park 213 Lovat


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from one of Jeff’s pipe hunts a few years ago and to be honest we don’t remember where we got it. This morning as I was going through my box of what I have to work on this one caught my eye. It is a nicely grained small Lovat with an acrylic stem that is almost butterscotch coloured. The stem reminds me of butterscotch candies that I used to have as a kid. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Hadley Park. On the right side it is stamped Made in London England and to the left of that, near the stem is the shape number 213. The finish had a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the bowl and some darkening around the sides of the bowl. The bowl was heavily caked and there was a lava coat and darkening on the rim top and inner edge. The edges looked okay but we would know more after the cleanup. There were a few fills that had shrunken around the sides of the bowl. The stem was dirty and had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There were not markings or a logo on the saddle stem. The pipe showed promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took a photo of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the condition of the rim top and edges. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the chatter and tooth marks.    Jeff took a photo of the side and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some great grain under the grime.     He took photos of the stamping on the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable.   I could not find any information on the brand. I thought the shape number might point the way but it did not give the clues I was hoping. The Made in London England stamp is similar to those used by a variety of English pipemakers so that is not definitive either. So I am left not knowing who made the pipe. Now it was time to work on this pipe.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it. The rim top and inner edge of the rim showed some damage. The inner edge of the bowl was roughened and showed some darkening. The rim top also showed some damage. The stem surface looked good with some remaining oxidation and tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.    I took a photo of the stamping on the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is a short acrylic saddle.   I decided to start my work on the pipe by cleaning up the damaged inner edge of the bowl. I reworked the edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. Once I finished the rim and edge looked much better.    I moved next to repairing the damaged fills on the front left of the bowl. I filled them in with clear super glue and briar dust. Once it cured I sanded them smooth and blended them into the surrounding briar.   With the repaired fills being lighter than the surrounding briar I decided to restain the bowl with a light brown aniline stain. I applied the stain and flamed it with a lighter to set it in the grain. I repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage on the bowl. Once the stain had cured I removed it from the cork and took photos of the new look before I buffed or polished it at all.  I buffed the bowl with red Tripoli and then wiped it down with a cotton pad and isopropyl alcohol to make the stain a bit more transparent and show the grain around the bowl sides. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth.      I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank 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.  I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter and marks with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the acrylic stem 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.    This Hadley Park 213 Lovat with an orange/butterscotch acrylic stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. There is some great grain around the bowl and shank. 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 and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and 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 Hadley Park Lovat is petite but fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 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 34gr/1.23oz. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Restoring a Mauro Series II Bent 517 System Style Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from a pipe hunt that Jeff and his wife recently did in Utah, USA. The pipe is an interesting pipe that looks like an Italian take on a Peterson’s System pipe. The pipe is well shaped and has nice grain around the bowl. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Mauro [over] Series II. On the right side it reads Italy along the ferrule edge and the shape number 517. There was a lot of grime ground into the smooth and finish on the briar. The bowl was heavily caked with a light overflow of lava on the top and inner edge of the rim. The inside edges looks like it may have burn damage on the front right. The variegated brown/gold/yellow acrylic stem had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button and on the button edge. There was a circle on the topside of the saddle stem that had a brass outer ring and an inner white acrylic insert. The stem did not seat all the way in the shank and would need to be addressed. It had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and tobacco debris as well as the lava on the inner edge of the rim. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the chatter and tooth marks.   Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar looked like. It truly has some nice grain – birdseye and cross grain around the bowl and shank. The nickel ferrule is oxidized and dull.   The stamping on the shank sides is clear and readable and read as noted above. I turned to Pipephil (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-m4.html) to get a quick view of the brand once again. The site definitively links the brand to Mauro Armellini. The screen capture I included below shows a brief history of the brand. There was a link on the section to a page comparing the Peterson P-lip with its Armellini variant (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/infos/p-lip-en.html). I included the section on the pipe stem below as a screen capture. It is fascinating to compare the stem to the many Peterson’s System pipes that I have worked on.I turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Armellini) for a quick read. The site referred me automatically from the Italian Makers list to Mauro Armellini. The write up is very well done and gives a great amount of history. It is worth a read.

What I learned from the research is that the Mauro pipe was Mauro Armellini’s second line and in many ways was his take on a Peterson’s System pipe.

Armed with that information I turned to work on the pipe itself.  Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub cleanser and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration work. The rim top cleaned up really well. The rim top and inner edge of the bowl show some damage. The stem surface looked very good with a few tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.     The stamping on the shank sides is clear and readable. It is stamped as noted above.  I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The saddle stem is nice and the photo gives a sense of what the pipe looks like. The fit of the stem in the shank was impeded by the thickness of the tenon on the stem. I used a piece of folded 220 grit sandpaper to reduce the diameter of the tenon. I polished the tenon with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I put the stem in the shank and took photos of the fit in the shank. Now that the stem fit I turned my attention to the damage on the inner edge of the rim. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give the inner edge a slight bevel to minimize the burn damage.  I polished the briar and the nickel ferrule with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth.  I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for about 10-15 minutes and buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The grain came alive and the fills while visible look better than when I began.   I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter and marks on both sides with 220 grit sandpaper. I started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.   I polished the acrylic stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.    This Mauro Series II 517 Bent System Style Billiard is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The shape is a lot like a Peterson’s System pipe with the nickel ferrule and the P-lip style acrylic 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 and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and 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 Mauro Series II pipe fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. 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. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Restoring a Large Preben Holm Regal Freehand Sitter


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table came to us from a recent pipe hunt Jeff and his wife Sherry did in Utah. They picked this beauty up at an Antique Mall along the way of the hunt. Even though the finish was dull and lifeless it showed promise under the grit and grime of the years. On the underside of the shank it was clearly stamped Ben Wade in script [over] Martinique [over] Hand Made [over] In [over] Denmark. The finish is filthy with grime and oil ground into the smooth briar of the bowl and shank sides. There were flecks of white paint on the sides as well. The bowl had a thick cake that overflowed in lava on the plateau rim top filling in the grooves and valleys of the finish. The acrylic stem was dirty and had some tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. Jeff took some photos of the pipe to show its overall condition before he started his cleanup work.He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the lava on the plateau finish of the rim top. There is dust and debris stuck to the walls of the bowl clearly visible in the photos. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the chatter and tooth marks.   Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some stunning grain under the grime.    He took photos of the stamping on the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable. I turned Pipephil’s section on Preben Holm pipes and found the brand listed there with and an example of the stamping on the underside of the shank and the stem. The stamping matches the one that I am working on (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-p5.html). It is like the stamping and logo that is shown in the second pipe below.I turned to the article on Preben Holm pipes on Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Holm,_Preben). The article is worth a read in the detailed history of the brand written by Preben Holm himself. Give it a read. I quote the introductory portion of the article that summarizes the Danish period of the history of the brand:

Preben Holm (1947 – 1989) has set some marks in pipe history. Just before his 16th birthday in 1963 he sold pipes to the legendary Pipe-Dan shop and at the age of only 22 he headed 45 employees. He was among the first Danish artisans who made “Danish pipe design” famous in the USA in the 1960’s. More than that he was one of the very first carvers who exceeded this moderate Danish design which based on the classical shapes. “Chasing the grain” they turned out wild and dramatic fancy pipes. Combining smooth with blasted surfaces, showing big areas of the original bark at the top of the bowl and at the end of the stem, these pipes were quite shocking to many elder and more conservative pipesmokers.

With that information my initial thoughts were confirmed. This pipe was a Preben Holm made Freehand distributed in the US by Lane Ltd. The freehand rage occurred in the late 70s and the pipes were made until Preben’s death in 1989. My guess would be that this pipe was made sometime during that time period and potentially in the late 70s.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and cotton pads to remove the debris and oils on the stem. He rinsed it with warm water and dried it off. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.    The rim top had some darkening on the back of the bowl. The beveled inner edge of the rim looked very good with some darkening. The stem surface looked very good with a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It read clearly as noted above.  I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is turned fancy acrylic. I started my work on the pipe by cleaning up the darkening on the inner bevel of the plateau rim top with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove the darkening and I like the looks of the rim top.  I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth.    I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and into the plateau rim top and shank end with a horsehair shoe brush. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 10 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I filled in the deep tooth marks on both sides of the stem with clear super glue. Once the repairs cured I sanded the repairs to blend them into the surface of the acrylic with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing of the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.     I polished the vulcanite stem 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.      This Preben Holm Regal Hand Made Freehand Sitter with a fancy, turned acrylic stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. 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 and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and 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 Preben Holm Regal Freehand fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 ¾ inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Restoring a Large Ben Wade Martinique Freehand Sitter


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table came to us from a recent pipe hunt Jeff and his wife Sherry did in Utah. They picked this beauty up at an Antique Mall along the way of the hunt. Even though the finish was dull and lifeless it showed promise under the grit and grime of the years. On the underside of the shank it was clearly stamped Ben Wade in script [over] Martinique [over] Hand Made [over] In [over] Denmark. The finish is filthy with grime and oil ground into the smooth briar of the bowl and shank sides. There were flecks of white paint on the sides as well. The bowl had a thick cake that overflowed in lava on the plateau rim top filling in the grooves and valleys of the finish. The acrylic stem was dirty and had some tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. Jeff took some photos of the pipe to show its overall condition before he started his cleanup work.He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the lava on the plateau finish of the rim top. There is dust and debris stuck to the walls of the bowl clearly visible in the photos. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the chatter and tooth marks. Otherwise the stem is quite clean. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some stunning grain under the grime.    He took photos of the stamping on the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable. I remembered a bit of history on the brand that thought that the Preben Holm pipes were marketed under the Ben Wade label in the US and imported through Lane Ltd. I turned to Pipedia and read the listing on the brand to refresh my memory and flesh out the knowledge of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Wade). I have included a photo from that site that was taken from a Tinderbox advertisement.

Ben Wade Ad in a Tinder Box catalog, courtesy Doug Valitchka

I quote the portion of the article that summarizes the Danish period of the history of the brand:

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

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

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

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

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

Up to now Preben Holm made Ben Wade pipes are cult and highly sought for on the estate markets.

With that information my initial thoughts were confirmed. This pipe was a Preben Holm made Freehand distributed in the US by Lane Ltd under the name Ben Wade. The freehand rage occurred in the late 70s and the pipes were made until Preben’s death in 1989. My guess would be that this pipe was made sometime during that time period and potentially in the late 70s.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and cotton pads to remove the debris and oils on the stem. He rinsed it with warm water and dried it off. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.   The rim top had some darkening on the back of the bowl. The beveled inner edge of the rim looked very good with some darkening. The stem surface looked very good with a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.    I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It read clearly as noted above.  I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is turned fancy acrylic. I started my work on the pipe by cleaning up the darkening on the inner bevel of the plateau rim top with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove the darkening and I like the looks of the rim top.  I touched up the black stain in the valleys of the plateau on the rim top and shank end with a Black stain pen. I would use the micromesh pads to knock off any of the black on the high spots when I polished it.    I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth.   I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and into the plateau rim top with a horsehair shoe brush. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 10 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.   I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks from the surface of the acrylic with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing of the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.   I polished the acrylic stem 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.      This Ben Wade Martinique Freehand Sitter with a fancy, turned acrylic stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. 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 and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and 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 Martinique Freehand fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

New Life for a Carlo Scotti Castello Natural Vergin KKK 16  Saddle Stem Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

Summer is pretty much over in Vancouver and today was another rainy, cold fall day. It is a day off so I had time to work on a few pipes. My wife and kids are convinced it is an illness but at least it keeps me out of their way! This next pipe on the table is one that I may have a hard time letting go of when I am finished. It is a Castello Natural Vergin and it is a saddle stem billiard two pluses in my book. My brother Jeff picked this pipe up from an antique mall in Utah, USA. It is stamped on the smooth heel of the bowl and the shank bottom and reads Castello [over] Natural Vergin. Next to that is stamped KKK 16. That is followed by Made in Cantu [over] Italy followed by an oval containing the name Carlo Scotti next to the stem shank union. The Castello “diamond” inset is on the left side of the saddle stem. On the underside of the stem it is stamped Hand Made [over] Castello [over] 5 It was in pretty filthy looking condition with oils ground into the briar around the bowl side leaving dark patches when he got it but still showed promise. He took the following photos of the pipe before he worked his magic on them. The pipe must have been another terrific smoker because the bowl was heavily caked with lava flowing over the rim top. In its condition it was going to take some work to clean out that bowl and be able to see what the rim looked like underneath the layer of lava. The acrylic/Lucite stem was in good condition. It was dirty and had light tooth chatter a deep tooth marks in the top and underside of the stem just ahead of the button.  The rest of the bowl looked dirty but the photos give an idea of what Jeff saw before his cleanup revealed the condition of the pipe. The next photos try to capture the stamping on the flat panel on the underside of the shank. It read as I have noted above. The stem also bears a Hand Made Castello 5 stamp on the underside. Jeff cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness – reaming the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaning up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the internals of the bowl, shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean off the dust and grime on the rusticated Natural Vergin finish. The rusticated rim top looked very good under the thick lava coat. The inside of the bowl itself looked great. The finish had darkened with the cleaning but the dark oily spots on the bowl sides were gone. The stem was in great shape other than the tooth marks on both sides. I took photos of the pipe when it arrived here. I took some close up photos of the rim top, bowl and stem to show what they looked like after Jeff’s cleanup. It is a startling difference. The rim top looks very good. The stem will take a bit of work to remove the deep tooth marks on both sides and give it a deep shine.    The stamping on the shank looked very good. It is clear and readable as noted above. I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe to show the proportions of the bowl/shank and the stem length.As usual I cannot seem to retain the details on Castello pipes in my head for long for some reason. The stamping on them – Castello and the Reg. No. and the Carlo Scotti stamp left me with some questions that I need to answer before I began to work on the pipe. I turned first to the Pipephil site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-castello.html) because of the general quick summary of information I get there. I quote:

Castello PIPA CASTELLO di Carlo Scotti & C. was founded in 1947 by Carlo Scotti († 1988). Franco Coppo (AKA “Kino”) who married Carlo Scotti’s daughter Savina, manages (2012) the corporate since 1985.

The site also gave a good summary of the grading and sizes of the pipes. I quote that in full.

Sizes (ascending):

1K to 4K, G (Giant) and GG (Extra large)

Rusticated grading: SEA ROCK, OLD SEA ROCK, NATURAL VERGIN,

Sandblasted grading: ANTIQUARI, OLD ANTIQUARI

Smooth grading (ascending): TRADEMARK, CASTELLO, COLLECTION

Other stampings: Great Line (Non-standard or freestyle) Fiammata (Straight grain)

Production (2012): ~4000 pipes / year

I also found a note on the page that the Rhinestone logo was originally on pipes for the US market. It is occasionally used now.

I turned then to Pipedia for more information on the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Castello). The majority of the information was what was already quoted above in abbreviated form. However there was a link to an article by Bob Hamlin that gave some interesting bits of information that I found helpful (http://www.pipes.org/BURST/FORMATTED/196.016.html). I quote in part from that article.

SEA ROCK [Carved Black or dark brown]:  This is the lowest grade of the Castello line and is the most common in the USA.  Sea Rocks are produced by taking a smooth bowl that has not been “final finished” and surface carving the finish with tools. This “carved” finish is then evened out using a steel wire brush, stained and then waxed. The Natural Vergin carved finish is left unstained and unwaxed as a rule, although we have seen waxed and partially waxed “Vergins”.

All carved Castello pipes are graded by the number of K’s that are stamped on each piece and are K-graded by SIZE.  1K is the smallest and fairly rare, 2K is small to medium, with 3K or 4K being the most common and ranges from medium to medium large. Large pieces are stamped “G” for giant and extra-large pieces are stamped “GG” for double giant.  In addition to the number of K’s on a carved Sea Rock piece the shape number is almost always added.  As a rule a Sea Rock Castello is stained Black, although recently there have been quite a few coming in stained deep brown and still stamped “Sea Rock”.  American Logo’d Sea Rocks are all priced the same to the consumer, although most are 2 or 3 K’ed models.  G/GG models are charged at a higher price on American pieces and are basically the same as their European counterparts.

The Castello Natural Vergin KKK 16 I was working on was definitely made for the American Market with the Rhinestone in the stem. It had the natural finish that darkened with cleaning.

Pipedia also gave a link to Mike’s Briar Blues site for help in dating and determining shapes (http://www.briarblues.com/castello.htm).

Shape numbers. Shape numbers are all 2 digits. A 2 in front indicates a “fancy” interpretation, a 3 in front means that the carving is somehow unique. I don’t know when the change was made, but currently, a π symbol is used instead of the 3xx. I’ve only seen this on Sea Rocks, but that doesn’t mean anything…

Now I had more information to work with. The Castello Natural Vergin in my hands was 3K graded. That told me that it is a mid-sized pipe. The number 16 makes it a straight billiard.

The bowl was in such good condition that I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the rusticated Sea Rock finish on the bowl and the rim top. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the wood. I used a horse hair shoe brush to work it into the crevices and keep from building up in the valleys and crevices of the finish. Once the bowl was covered with the balm I let it sit for about 20 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth and the shoe brush. I polished it with a microfiber cloth. It is definitely darker than the dirty raw briar look but it is pretty close to the oil finish that was sometimes used. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl looked like at this point.   I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I filled in the tooth marks with black super glue and set it aside to cure. Once it cured I flattened the repairs with a file and sanded them with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.   I continued to polish the stem with 1500-12000 grit pads. I dry sanded it with the pads and wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I finished polishing the stem with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine polishes. I wiped the stem down with a damp cotton pad afterwards and buffed it with a soft microfiber cloth. I put the bowl and stem back together on this beautiful Castello Natural Vergin KKK 16 Saddle Billiard. I polished the stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the Lucite. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The contrast of the oil treated briar with the polished black acrylic/Lucite is quite stunning. The coral like rustication around the bowl and shank is quite remarkable and gives the pipe an incredible tactile presence that only improve as it heated from a smoke. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This Natural Vergin Billiard will soon be on the rebornpipes store if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me. I always enjoy working on Castello pipes. Cheers. 

Restoring an Interesting Israeli Made Balsa System Bent Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from a friend in Maryland, USA. It has been around for a while waiting to be worked on. Jeff did the original photographs of the pipe in December 2019. It is a Bent Apple with an acrylic shank extension and stem and some nice grain around the bowl. There are two rings on the shank before the extension – one is black acrylic and one is brass. It makes for a pretty pipe. The stamping is the clear and readable. It is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads the Balsa [over] System. On the underside of the shank it is stamped with Israel next to the shank extension. The varnished finish had a lot of grime ground into the bowl and some darkening around the sides of the bowl. There was some damage on the outer edge of the rim at the front of the bowl caused by knocking out the bowl. The bowl was moderately caked and the varnish was peeling on the top of the rim. The rim top and inner edge of the bowl looked quite good under the grime. The fancy variegated gold and brown acrylic stem matched the shank extension. It had tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the P-lip style stem. The top showed more damage ahead of the button than the underside. The stem had no identifying logo or markings. The pipe had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work.  He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the condition of the rim top and edges. You can see the damage on the front outer edge of the bowl and the peeling varnish on the top. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the chatter and tooth marks. The variations in colour on the stem are visible.  Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some interesting grain under the grime and smoky looking varnish. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the left and underside of the shank. It read as noted above.His final pre-cleanup photo shows the pipe taken apart. You can see from the drilling on the stem that it was made for a filter and in this case the Savinelli Balsa System Filter.I searched on Pipephil and Pipedia for information on the brand and did not find anything on either site. I Googled the Balsa System Israel brand and did not come up with anything either. I knew from previous work on Israeli made pipes that they came from the Shalom Pipe Company and were made for a variety of shops and makers around the world. Perhaps I was dealing with one of their pipes crafted to accept the Savinelli Balsa System.

I  did a search for the Balsa System and found a great review and explanation of the way that it works (https://www.tobaccopipes.com/blog/filtered-pipes-savinelli-balsa-system/). I quote from that article in part below.

Savinelli’s Convertible Balsa System

One of the many things that sets Savinelli apart from other pipe makers is the signature convertible balsa system. Most Savinelli pipes have this feature, although not all, so check your chosen pipe’s product description first.

Convertible refers to the ability to use the filter or remove it and use a spacer piece to smoke your pipe unfiltered.

Why balsa wood filters?When you hear the word “balsa”, your first thought is probably not about pipes. It’s the same material used to make small airplanes. Balsa is naturally porous, which allows it to absorb the majority of the moisture and smoke impurities from the tobacco, without the need to use chemical elements or paper. This unique wood can do this without altering the aroma or flavor of the tobacco, which sets balsa filters apart from other pipe filters like charcoal.

Popularly hailed as the most absorbent wood Mother Nature has to offer, Achille Savinelli and his team were clearly inspired in creating the convertible balsa system. The use of this unique material can’t be underestimated. No matter how hot you smoke, the tongue bite is eliminated (although we can’t help you with the hole you might burn in your beautiful Italian pipe). In addition, the gurgle caused by moisture build up many new smokers grapple with is no longer an issue. Another benefit of balsa wood is it’s apparent ability to help reduce toxins inherent in smoking tobacco. According to tests by the EURATOM Research Center of Ispra, Italy, the filter has the ability to absorb up to 77% of the nicotine and 91% of the tar contained in the pipe tobacco, without altering flavor. This makes Savinelli’s convertible balsa system ideal for smokers who want to cut down on nicotine and tar, without sacrificing the experience they love.

I knew that the pipe I was working came from an Israeli Pipemaker and was made to use the Savinelli Balsa 6mm Filter System. Now it was time to work on the pipe itself.

Since Jeff follows the same pattern of work in his cleanup we do not include photos but rather just a simple summary. Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove much of the varnish coat from the rim top and you could see the damages to the front edge of the rim. He cleaned the internals and externals of the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. The stem was clean and you could clearly see the damage on the top and underside. I took photos of what the pipe looked like when I brought to my worktable. The rim top cleaned up really well with the peeling varnish coat removed. The rim top and outer edges of the rim showed some damage. The stem surface looked very good the tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button very visible.       I took a photo of the stamping on the side of the shank. It read as noted above.   I removed the stem and took photos of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. It is a well shaped apple with great grain. I also captured the mortise and tenon ends to show the 6mm Balsa Filter drilling. Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. To remove the damage to the rim top and the edges of the bowl I topped it on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove the  damage on the rim top but the damage on the front outer edge would take more work.    I gave the outer edge of the rim a slight bevel with 220 grit sandpaper to get rid of the damage on the front of the bowl and blend it into the overall look of the outer edge. I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth. I carefully avoided the stamping on the top and underside of the shank so as not to damage the stamping. I stained the rim top with a Maple  Stain Pen and set it aside to let the stain cure for a while.I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.  It helped to blend the stain into the rest of the bowl.  The final buffing would bring the pipe alive and further blend the stain. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the tooth marks on the topside and the damage to the button edge on the underside of the stem with clear super glue.  Once the repairs cured I used a needle file to flatten the repairs and recut the button. I used 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repairs further and blend them into the stem surface. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.    I polished the acrylic stem 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 have some Savinelli Balsa System filters here in the work shop so I put one in the tenon of the stem. The fit was perfect.   This unique Balsa System Bent Apple with a fancy gold and brown variegated acrylic stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The rich brown finish came alive with the polishing and waxing. The grain really popped. 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 and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and 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 Balsa System is a beauty and fits nicely in the hand and looks very good. 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 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

 

Restoring an Alpha Hand Made Pipe from Israel


Blog by Steve Laug

It was time to turn back to a couple of pipes that Jeff and I purchased recently. We had picked up some pipes from a guy in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I pulled one of those pipes out of my “to be restored” bin and brought it to my worktable. This one is a large freehand with beautiful grain and a plateau rim top. It has some smooth beveled areas on the inner edge of the rim and a flush mount acrylic stem. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Alpha over Hand Made and there is an A logo stamped in the left side of the tapered, acrylic stem. We seem to pick up some really dirty pipes and this pipe was no exception. It was very dirty with a thick cake in the bowl and a heavy layer of lava overflowing on to the rim top filling in the crevice of the plateau. It was hard to know what the inner edge of the rim looked like because of the lava and cake. From the photos it appeared that the inner edge was in good condition. Other than being dirty the finish also appeared to look very good. The gold variegated acrylic saddle stem was in excellent condition with some light tooth chatter on both sides at the button. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started working on it so I could see what he was dealing with. I am including those now. He took photos of the rim top to show the thick cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava. The cake is thick and hard and the lava overflow is a thick band around the bowl. The bowl is a real mess. This must have been a great smoking pipe.The next photo shows the right side of the bowl and shank to give a clear picture of the beauty of the straight and flame grain around the bowl of the pipe. It is a beauty.Jeff took a photo of the stamping and logo on the stem to capture the clarity of it even under the grime. The acrylic stem looked very good and though the photos are a little out of focus the stem appeared to be in good condition. There looked like there were some light tooth marks and chatter on the stem was light that should not take too much work to remedy.Before I started my work on the pipe I wanted to refresh my memory of the Alpha brand I remembered that somewhere along the line it was sold to Grabow in the US. Since Alpha was the first good pipe I owned I was interested in revisiting the history a bit. I turned first to Pipephil’s site and the information was brief so I went to Pipedia hoping to find more. I looked up the brand there (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Alpha). I was reminded that the brand was made by the Shalom Pipe Factory. I quote in full:

Alpha was originally a brand of the Shalom Pipe Factory in Israel, owned by Bernard Hochstein, former CEO of Mastercraft. The Alpha line was made exclusively for export to the United States. They were made in Israel from the 1970s into the 1980s, at which point the name was sold to Mastercraft, and later to Lane, Ltd., who produced very few Lane Alpha pipes at the end of the 1990’s. Lane Alphas were sold in five finishes, each denoted with a Greek letter. After Lane, Mastercraft again marketed the Alpha, under the name Alpha USA, with finishes named Sierra, Delta, Mark V, Blue Ridge, Sabre, and Big Boy, some of which were not stamped with the Alpha name. Among others, the Israeli made Alpha pipes were available in a line marketed as “Citation”.

So I now had a date for the pipe – 1970s and into the 80s at which point the brand was sold to Mastercraft (not Grabow as I remembered). I also knew that it was made in Israel for the US market.

Armed with that information I turned to address the pipe itself. Jeff had already cleaned up the pipe before sending it to me. He had 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 off the finish and the heavy overflow of lava on the rim top. He cleaned up the internals of the shank, mortise and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove all of the oils and tars in the pipe. 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 photos of the rim top and the stem to show their condition. Jeff was able to clean up the incredibly thick cake and lava overflow that was shown in the rim and bowl in the earlier photos. He was also able to get rid of the grime and grit in the surface of the briar. The rim top looked really good. The inner edge of the bowl was in good condition and there was a smooth bevel on the surface of the rim edge.I took a photo of the left side of the shank to show the stamping on the pipe. It read as noted above – Alpha Hand Made. You can also see the A stamp on the left side of the saddle stem. The second photo below shows the ISRAEL stamping at the stem/shank junction.The bowl was in excellent condition. I touched up the edges of the plateau briar with a black Sharpie pen. It blended those areas into the rest of the plateau finish. After it was finished I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the finish on the bowl and shank. I worked it into the plateau surface with my finger tips and buffed it in with a horsehair shoe brush. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. After it sat for a little while I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. It is a beautiful bowl. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem at this point in the  process. I sanded tooth chatter and the remaining oxidation on the stem with folded pieces of 220 to remove the marks and the light brown colouration on the stem surface. I sanded them with 400 grit sandpaper until the marks were gone and the oxidation was gone.I polished the Lucite stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. The stamped A on the left side of the stem was originally white in colour but the colour had been faded or wiped away. I used a white correction pen and pipe cleaner to work the white into the stamp. Once it had dried I scraped it off with my nail and buffed the area with an 8000 and 12000 grit micromesh sanding pad.I put the stem back on the pipe and the pipe to the buffer. I worked it over with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl 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. The pipe polished up really well and the beveled rim top looked good. I was happy with the look of the finished pipe. The photos below show what the pipe looks like after the restoration. The freehand shape reminds me of some of the American made freehand pipes that I have restored. It was a bit of a blast from the past for me to pick up and Alpha again and work on it – taking me back to one of my first pipes a little Alpha author. The polished variegated, gold Lucite stem looks really good with the browns of the briar and the darker plateau on the rim top. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This is another pipe that I will be putting it on the rebornpipes online store shortly, if you are interested in adding it to your collection. The thick shank and tall bowl look and feel great in the hand. This one should be a great smoker. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this beauty!

Refreshing a Damaged CAO Lattice Meerschaum Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

We probably paid too much for this beautiful meerschaum pipe but the shape and the carving are so unique that we had to buy it. It is made by CAO and is a shape I would call a Grecian urn. It has lattice carving around the bowl side and the rim is smooth. The shank has a pattern that looks a lot like scales and swirls. There was some very nice colouring happening on the shank and lightly on the bowl sides and rim. There was a cake in the bowl and some lava overflow on the rim top. There were some missing separators between two of the lattice windows but otherwise the bowl was undamaged. The stem was Lucite and had a round brass CAO logo on the top left side of the saddle. The stem had metallic gold flecks mixed in with the Lucite so that it had a natural sparkle to the reddish amberlike stem. There were not any tooth marks or dents on the stem surface but there were small scratches in the Lucite. There was also some wear and tear to the sharp edge of the button that would need to be cleaned up. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started the cleanup. The next series of close up photos show the condition of the bowl and rim and the overall condition of the bowl sides. You can see the bowl and cake with the overflow of lava on the rim top. There is also some fuzz that has attached to the cake. It was a dirty bowl. The sides of the bowl look very good other than the damage to the separators between three of the tear drops in the lattice work on the front of the bowl. The second, third and fourth photos below show the damaged portion circled in red. Other than that damage to the front of the bowl the rest of the carving is in excellent condition. The pipe, though imperfect will nonetheless be a beautiful addition to someone’s collection. They will just have to overlook the damaged area and enjoy the pipe.The connector between the shank and stem is a push tenon. There is a Delrin insert in the shank of the pipe and a Delrin tenon threaded into the end of the stem. It is dirty and stained but is undamaged.The round brass logo is dirty but it is undamaged. It is inset into the left topside of the saddle stem. The surrounding stem is quite dirty but there is no damage.The next two photos show the condition of the top and underside of the stem. You can see the metallic sparkles in the saddle portion and the scratches in the Lucite.Jeff carefully reamed out the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and took it back to the bare meerschaum walls. He scrubbed the rim top and scraped off the lava on the surface with a knife. He carefully cleaned the exterior of the bowl with a damp cloth to avoid further damage to the front of the bowl. He cleaned out the shank and airway in the bowl and stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He cleaned out the recessed area around the inset tenon in the stem with alcohol and cotton swabs. He washed the exterior of the stem with clean water. I took photos of the pipe when I brought it to my work table to show the condition of the pipe after Jeff’s work and before I polished it. I took a photo of the rim top to show how well it cleaned up. Jeff did a great job getting rid of the lava overflow. I also took a photo of the cleaned up damaged area of the bowl.The stem cleaned up really nicely. The gold flecks in the Lucite really stand out now and the gold/brass logo inset looks really good now. The stem should polish up nicely.The mortise insert in the shank had a ragged edge to it. I used a sharp knife and a pen knife to clean up the ragged end. I wanted a smooth fit in the shank. Once I had finished that part of the shank and sanded it down I worked on polishing the rim and ring on the top of the bowl. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim down after each pad with a damp cotton pad. I polished out the scratches and marks in the metallic Lucite stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cotton pad after each sanding pad. I lightly buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. After the final pad I wiped it down with a damp pad and rubbed it down with a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully worked the pipe on the buffing wheel with a clean pad. I used a gentle touch on both the meerschaum and the Lucite stem so as not to damage either of them. I gave the meerschaum bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed it with a shoe brush and a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. Even with the damaged area on the front of the bowl it still looks better than it did in the beginning. The unique shape and lattice work carving work together to make this a beautiful pipe. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inch, Diameter of the chamber: 3/4 inches. I will be adding this one to the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. It will make a fine addition to the rack. If you are interested email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.