Tag Archives: Polishing a meerschaum bowl

Paresh’s Grandfather’s Pipe #4 – An Antique Kalmasch Meerschaum Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

I have repaired three of the pipes from the seven of his Grandfather’s pipes that Paresh sent me. It is an interesting assortment of older pipes that come from the period of 1937-1950s. His Grandfather worked for the Indian Railroad and was a pipeman. Paresh is also a pipeman and only recently learned that his Grandfather smoked a pipe. The fourth pipe is an antique Meerschaum pipe with a Cherrywood shank and vulcanite stem. It is what is known as a Kalmasch Meerschaum pipe. It is a large pipe – 12 inches long and 2 ½ inches tall. I took the following photos of the pipe before I stated to work on it. It was in excellent condition, very clean with just a thin bit of lava and tar on the top of the rim. The inner and outer edge of the bowl was in excellent condition. I took some photos below show the pipe as it arrived.

The photos of the pipe show the parts. Abha, Paresh’s wife had cleaned it up and sent the parts of the pipe individually packaged for safe shipping. The bowl was a heavy piece of meerschaum that had already begun to take on colour in the shank and up the sides of the bowl. The Cherrywood shank had one end threaded and the other end carved into a cone shape. The cone shaped end had the same angles as the mortise in the meerschaum bowl. The vulcanite stem was threaded and was made to be turned onto the threaded end of the cherry wood shank. You can see in the photos below how far down the threads the stem could be turned as they are darkened. There is about a ½ in gap between the stem and the shank when the stem is turned onto the shank. That will need to be addressed in the restoration. The rim top has some lava that had overflowed from the bowl and darkened the gouges in the surface and was built up around the back side of the bowl. It is not too thick and hard. It will need to be scraped off when I started the cleaning. The outer edge of the bowl looks pretty good with a little wear on the front edge and back right side. The bowl was very clean and smooth on the inside. I also took a close up photos of both sides of the stem. You can see that there is light tooth chatter on the top and underside of the stem just in front of the button. The surface of the stem is lightly oxidized and pitted.I took close up photos of both ends of the Cherrywood shank. The first photo shows the threaded end where the stem is screwed onto the shank. The first portion is threaded and the bottom half is partly threaded. It appears to me that there was originally a space between the stem and the rest of the shank end. The other end of the shank shows the conical shaping that matches the taper of the inside of the mortise in the bowl portion of the pipe.  I put the pieces back together and took photos of the pipe to show what it looked like. You can see the fit of the shank to the bowl. It is snug and it will not need to be changed. The stem is screwed in place on the shank and you can see the ½ inch gap between the stem and the shank. As I have mentioned in the previous three restorations, I always enjoy getting some background information on the pipeman whose pipes I am restoring when I am working estate pipes from the family members. If you have followed rebornpipes for a while you have read a few of these summaries from estates like Kathy’s Dad, Barry’s Dad and Farida’s Dad. Each of them did a great job summarizing their fathers’ estates. Since the next group of seven pipes that I will be working came to from India and belonged to the Grandfather of Paresh, I asked him to write a short tribute to his Grandfather. What follows is his writeup.

Respected Sir,

Now that the first batch of my Grandfather’s pipes has reached you, I would like to share my memories of him with you, the aim being to provide you with an insight to his personality, the era in which he lived, and a brief history associated with the pipes that I have inherited from him.

My Grandfather, Ananta (named after an exotic seasonal white flower having lovely fragrance), was born in a small coastal town of Konkan region of Maharashtra, India, in 1918. These were very turbulent times when India’s freedom struggle against British rule was gathering momentum and the atmosphere was charged with “Quit India Movement”. Having completed his graduation from Bombay, he joined Railways in 1937. This also marked the beginning of his journey into the world of pipe smoking!!!!!

Having seen his potential, in 1945, he was sponsored by the Government to visit England, for gaining further experience and expertise in his profession. This was a period when India’s Independence was round the corner and efforts were being made to train Indians for various administrative appointments in future Independent India. He returned back to India after a year, in 1946 and with him came some pipes that he had purchased in England. I believe a few of his Petes, Barlings, Charatans and GBDs are from this visit.

In 1947, when the British finally left India for good, my Grandfather was gifted pipes by his British peers, subordinates and Superior Officers as a parting gift. He stayed in touch with a few of them over all these years, even visiting them in 1959-60. Some of his later era Charatans and Barlings and Petes are from this trip. He quit smoking in early 1970s (before I was even born!!!!) and his pipes were packed up. There were a number of pipes which were used as TINDER for lighting fires (CAN’T BELIEVE IT…… I have not overcome my grief of this loss till date!!!!!) due to ignorance!!!!!!

My Grandfather was a very strict disciplinarian and temperamental (I did not know this as he was neither when dealing with me as I am the youngest of all his grandchildren!!!!!! He was always the most understanding and loving person in my life). I later learned that in his office, he was not to be disturbed when his pipe was lit, as he would be in his thinking/ contemplating mode while it was just the opposite as he lit his pipe in the evening while at home, when he would be at his relaxed best!!!!.

The interesting part is that neither of us knew that we each smoked a pipe until after his demise in Jan 2018!!!! In our culture, to this day, smoking or alcohol consumption is socially never talked about (mute acceptance!!!). It was during his last rites that absent mindedly I lighted my pipe and looking into the flickering flames of his funeral pyre, remembered and recollected all the wonderful memories and talks that we had shared. No one said a word to me about my lighting up a pipe!!!!!! Immediately thereafter, I rejoined my duty station. A few days later, my wife, Abha, received a box from my Uncle with a note that said “Grandfather would have loved Paresh to have these”. This box contained a collection of his fountain pens and 8-10 of his pipes (since then as my folks are winding up his belongings, I have received 2-3 packets and a large number of pipes, some in decent condition and some in unspeakable state). Abha immediately messaged me with pictures of these pipes and pens. I had been collecting and restoring (no major repairs, though) fountain pens since long and immediately recognized some of them as highly collectibles, however, pipes were a totally different ball game! I was inexperienced with no knowledge/ information regarding various brands/ pipe makers, shapes and materials. I knew nothing about the value of these pipes, nothing about pipe restorations, nothing about caring for them; I mean zero knowledge about collecting pipes. I smoked some real cheap Chinese pipes which were readily and unfortunately, the only ones, available in India and some inexpensive pipes from eBay India!!!!! Also regular pipe cleaning, pipe rotation, pipe cleaners and such things were unknown to me.

Thus, to know more about the REAL pipes, I embarked upon the journey of exploring finer nuances of pipe brands/ makers, their history and watching “How to videos” on packing a pipe, cleaning, repairing and caring for ones pipes. I found it extremely interesting and satisfying. It was while meandering through this confusing quagmire of pipe world that I came across rebornpipes.com website and eventually established contact with you, Mr Steve, who has since been my mentor, guide and GURU, making this journey a wonderful and satisfying experience.

Sir, there is one more thing that I need to thank you for and that is when you asked me to write a brief about my grandfather and his pipes, I realized how little I knew about him, in fact, knew nothing, as I was not even aware that he was a “pipeman” as no one in my family ever spoke about it being taboo subject and since he had quit a long time before I was even born!!!! This led me to ask the elders in my family, questions on the subject and came to know the above details. I cannot thank you enough for prodding me to get to know my grandfather and his pipes a lot better. Sir, these pipes of his, with your help and guidance, will remain with me forever in mint condition……

Thanks Paresh for this great descriptive take of your Grandfather. It really gives me a sense of the pipes that you have sent me and what they meant to him. It is obvious from the variety of pipes that you sent and the overall condition that he knew how to choose good quality pipes and obviously enjoyed smoking them throughout most of his life.

Paresh’s wife Abha cleaned all of the pipes before she sent them to me here in Canada and did an amazing job cleaning them up. She reamed the bowls, cleaned the rims and scrubbed the exterior of the pipes and the stems with Murphy’s Oil Soap and cleaned off the buildup on the stems. On this pipe she had removed the cake in the bowl and done a great job cleaning the exterior of the bowl. The cherrywood shank had also been cleaned. The stem was lightly oxidized on both sides and had light chatter and pitting.

I polished the top of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads to remove all of the tar and lava that was on the surface. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth to remove the dust that was left behind by the sanding. While I was working on the bowl top I also worked over the sides and bottom of the bowl to polish them as well. I went through my box of bands and ferrules and found a brass ferrule that would work well to fill the gap between the shank and the stem when it was put in place. I put it on the end of the shank and screwed the stem in place. I took photos of the shank with the stem in place. It still needed to be polished and the edge below the ferrule will need to be smoothed out and touched up with stain to blend in the edge. However, you can see what it will look like when it is finished. I polished the ferrule with micromesh sanding pads to polish off the tarnish. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I polished it with a jeweler’s cloth and the shine really stood out. I took photos of the band after polishing.I worked Before & After Restoration Balm deep into the Cherrywood shank to clean, enliven and protect it. I worked it into the finish with my fingertips. I worked it into the threaded and conical end. I set it aside for a few minutes to let the balm work. I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth to polish it. The bark on the shank really began to have a deep shine. I took a photo of the shank with the polish ferrule and polished Cherrywood at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. The shank is really beginning to look good.I sanded out the tooth chatter and pitting on both sides of the stem at the button with 220 grit sand paper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad and set it aside to dry. With the stem polished I put it back on the pipe and lightly buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond. I gave the Cherrywood shank and the stem several coats of carnauba wax. I gave the bowl a coat of beeswax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I have three more of Paresh’s Grandfather’s pipes to finish and then I will pack them up and send across the sea to India where he can carry on the legacy. I know that he is looking forward to having them in hand and enjoying a bowl of his favourite tobacco in memory of his Grandfather. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked this pipe over.

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Restoring the last of three Jobey Gourd Calabashes with a Briar Shank Extension


Blog by Steve Laug

As I have mentioned before my brother Jeff has really gotten good at finding Gourd Calabash pipes when he is pipe hunting. He picked up this batch recently. I posted about the large calabash in the middle of the right hand column recently and it is available on the rebornpipes store. It is by far the largest of the five calabash pipes that he found. The second one I am working on is the pipe at the bottom right of the photo. It is another unique looking Calabash to me in that it is a nicely shaped gourd with a briar shank extension on the end of the gourd. It bears the Jobey brass oval logo on the side of the briar extension. The third of the calabash pipes that I worked on was a second Jobey calabash. It is the one on the bottom left of the photo below. As I mentioned before, when I first looked these Jobey calabashes I wondered if any of them had the Jobey system tenon that I have come to expect on Jobey pipes. However, this was not the case on any of the three Jobey Gourd Calabashes in the bunch. All of them have the mortise drilled in the briar extension and is made for a push stem. Once again, I had never seen Jobey Gourd Calabashes before learned that they were probably made by Wally Frank. Here is the link to the first of the pipes I worked on – the one circled in red in the photos below:  https://rebornpipes.com/2018/01/09/restoring-a-full-bent-jobey-gourd-calabash-with-a-briar-shank-extension/. Here is the link to the second of the three circled in blue: https://rebornpipes.com/2018/01/28/restoring-the-second-of-three-jobey-gourd-calabashes-with-a-briar-shank-extension/. Today I am working on the third of the Jobey Calabash pipes and the fourth of the lot. It is the pipe on the top left of the photo below.

Once again Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he did his cleanup work on it. The photos below show it in the condition he found it in on one of his hunts. The gourd was dull looking and generally dirty. It had spots of sticky label material on the sides of the bowl. The briar shank extension was also dull and lifeless looking and there was a gummy substance in the brass logo on the shank extension. The meerschaum bowl on this pipe was light weight and appeared to be block meerschaum. There was a thick cake in the bowl and the rim had a coat of lava that went almost all the way around the inner edge of the chamber onto the rim top. The chair leg style stem was oxidized and dirty. There were tooth marks and tooth chatter on both sides of the stem at the button. The next photo shows the condition of the meerschaum cup. The cup of the meer was had some lava overflow from the bowl on the inner edge and top. There is also darkening around the inner edge of the bowl and cake in the bowl.The next two pictures show the condition of the underside of the bowl and the tars and oils on the walls of the gourd. The underside of the meerschaum cup was dirty but in good condition. The cork gasket on the inside edges of the gourd was in good condition but dried out. It needed some grease to liven it up.The briar shank extension was dirty and there was debris around the outside of the oval and in the letters stamped in the brass.The stem had light oxidation and tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. It also had the same price tag glue on the top and underside of the stem.Jeff did a thorough cleanup on the meerschaum bowl, the inside of the gourd and the stem. He carefully scraped the cake in the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He cleaned the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs – scrubbing out the mortise as it was dirty. He scrubbed the exterior of the meerschaum cup and the gourd with Murphy’s Oil soap and a tooth brush and was able to remove all of the oils and dust ground into the gourd. He was able to remove all of the lava and overflow from the top of the meerschaum bowl and left it looking very clean. Once he had removed the lava on the rim top and inner edge they were cleaner than I expected. The scratches in the meerschaum were quite shallow and would be easy to polish out. He cleaned internals of the stem with alcohol. When it arrived I took some photos of it to show how it looked before I did the restoration.   He did a great job of cleaning up the rim top including the tars and lava. The bowl is clean and smooth with all cake removed. The photo below shows the condition of the bowl and rim at this point. The inner edge of the bowl is clean but there is some wear and damage to the edge. The stem had cleaned up nicely with relatively little oxidation. The tooth marks on the top and underside along with the chatter were still present.I took the bowl off the gourd to have a look at the inside of the pipe. The gourd was very clean. The cork gasket was dry but that could be remedied easily enough. The mottled appearance carried through to the inside of the meerschaum bowl and can be seen in the photos.I used my fingers to rub the gourd and briar extension down with Before & After Restoration Balm to bring life to both and to remove any residual dust or dirt in the surface of the calabash. I wiped it off with a cotton cloth and buffed it with a shoe brush. The next few photos show the gourd at this point in the process. I used some Vaseline petroleum jelly to lubricate the cork gasket and soften it. I have done this for years and I really like the effect of the jelly on the cork. I used 1500 grit micromesh sanded off the spots along the surface of the meerschaum cup where it sat against the cork and the top of the gourd to ensure a smooth fit.I checked the pliability of the cork gasket, rubbed a little more Vaseline into it and put the bowl back on the gourd. The fit of the cup against the gasket was snug but not hard to insert. It was perfect. The pipe was beginning to look finished. The shine on the gourd and the rim looked good. The briar extension had its own shine as well. I took the cup off the gourd and polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I buffed the cup with a microfiber cloth to polish it. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button. The rest of the stem was in decent condition. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil at this point and let it sit for a little while.I cleaned out the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol to remove any residual bath and also the sanding dust from the work on the stem surface and tooth chatter.I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each sanding pad. After using the 12000 grit pad I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond to give a deep and rich shine. I polished the stem with Before & After Pipe Polish using both the fine and the extra fine product. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. Normally at this point I put the stem back on the bowl and take the pipe to the buffing wheel to work it over. This time I took the parts to the buffing wheel. I gently buffed the meerschaum cup and rim with Blue Diamond to lightly polish the meer. I carefully buffed the gourd base and briar shank extension with Blue Diamond being cautious about the pressure I put on the gourd. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond to raise the gloss on the vulcanite. I took the pipe back to the work table and gave the gourd multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax. I gave the stem several coats carnauba wax. I buffed the parts of the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are, Length: 9 inches, Height: 3 ½ inches, Diameter of the cup: 2 ½ inches, Diameter of the chamber: 7/8 inches. I will be adding this one to the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for looking.

Restoring a Jobey Gourd Calabash with a Briar Shank Extension


Blog by Steve Laug

My brother Jeff has really gotten good at finding Gourd Calabash pipes on his recent “treasure” hunts. He picked up this batch recently. I posted about the large calabash in the middle of the right hand column recently and it is available on the rebornpipes store. It is by far the largest of the five calabash pipes that he found. The one I have chosen to work on it the one on the left side at the bottom circled in red. It is a unique looking Calabash to me in that it is a well bent and shaped gourd with a briar shank extension on the end of the gourd. It bears the Jobey brass oval logo on the side of the briar extension. When I first looked at it I wondered if it had the Jobey system tenon that I have come to expect on the Jobeys that I have in my own collection and the ones that I have worked on. However, this was not the case on this or the other two Jobey Gourd Calabashes in the bunch. All of them have the mortise drilled in the briar extension and is made for a push stem. I have never seen Jobey Gourd Calabashes before and frankly had no idea that the company even made them.Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he did his cleanup work on it. The photos below show it in the condition he found it in on one of his hunts. The gourd was dull looking and generally dirty. It had spots of sticky label material on the sides of the bowl. The briar shank extension was also dull and lifeless looking and there was a gummy substance in the brass logo on the shank extension. The meerschaum bowl was quite unique it is light weight and appeared to be block meerschaum but I am not certain as it had flecks of colour shot throughout the entirety of the bowl. There was a thick cake in the bowl and the rim had a coat of lava that went almost all the way around the inner edge of the chamber onto the rim top. The stem was oxidized and dirty. There were tooth marks and tooth chatter on both sides of the stem at the button.  The next two photos give a clear picture of the sticky label glue on the gourd and the dirty condition of the gourd. It also shows the flecks of colour throughout the meerschaum cup. The colour in the meerschaum matches the colour of the gourd. The next photo shows the condition of the meerschaum cup. The rim top of the meer had scratches in the surface and a heavy overflow of tars on the top of the rim. There is also darkening around the inner edge of the bowl and a thick cake in the bowl itself. It was hard to know if there was damage to the rim but once it was clean that would be clear. The two pictures following that show the condition of the inside of the bowl and the tars and oils on the walls of the gourd. The underside of the meerschaum cup is in good condition. There is some darkening on the underside of the bowl. There were some tars and oils spotted on the underside of the bowl. The cork gasket on the inside edges of the gourd was in good condition but dried out. It needed some grease to liven it up. The briar shank extension is dried out and has water spots. The next photo shows the brass Jobey oval insert inset in the left side of the briar shank extension. There is grime and a gummy substance in the lettering and around the edges of the insert. The briar was dirty and in need of a deep cleaning.The stem had light oxidation and tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. It also had the same price tag glue on the top and underside of the stem.I did some digging to see if I could find out about the connection between the calabash maker and Jobey. I found a bit of history of the brand on the Pipedia website at the following link. https://pipedia.org/wiki/Jobey . The section I am quoting is entitled Possible Jobey Origin. I quote it in its entirety.

Possible Jobey Origin

…the origins of this company seem to be shrouded in mystery, and most people claim that the origins were in England, followed by American production, and then a later move to St. Claude. There is another possible origin for the company, however, and it would suggest that Jobey was in Brooklyn, New York long before the 1969 patent of the Jobey “link”.

There’s not a lot of chatter about it, but if you can lay your hands on a copy of “The Tobacco World”, Volume 61, from 1941, there is a brief mention that reads “Norwalk Pipe Expands” and in the body states that Norwalk Pipe Corporation, “manufacturers of Jobey and Shellmoor pipes”, is moving to larger offices at 218 East Twenty-Sixth Street, NYC, as announced by Louis Jobey, president of that company. Norwalk is listed as one of the alternate distributors for Jobey on this page but apparently Louis Jobey was also actually working there at the time.

Before that, the first mention of Jobey seems to be back in 1915, when two brothers named Ulysses and Louis Jobey of Brooklyn, New York obtained a patent for an odd sort of cavalierish pipe in 1915, here’s the link: http://www.google.com/patents/USD46998

But less than four years later, in 1918, there’s a notice in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on November 6th to the effect that Louis Jobey declared bankruptcy in the District Court, with final hearing scheduled for December 1918. And in an even sadder turn, that same month sees a funeral notice for Lorraine Jobey, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Jobey, formerly of Brooklyn but now living in Moline Illinois at the home of Mr. and Mrs. George E. Hutchinson. The little girl evidently died in a fall.

There’s little else on Ulysses Jobey except that he evidently had a “junior” after his name or a son by the same name. Because Ulysses Jobey, Jr. was listed as the vice president in New Jersey of Lakewood Pipe Company Inc., a maker of smoker’s articles, in the 1922 New York Co-partnership and Corporation Directory for Brooklyn. Given the timing it’s likely this was the brother.

So while it is speculative, one possible origin story for Jobey is that the company was started by two brothers in Brooklyn in the teens with a new idea for a pipe, and failed amidst terrible tragedy. One brother went to one company and another to the other, but it was Louis who continued making Jobey pipes through the 40s under that name, despite evidently no longer owning the company. It would appear to be the Norwalk Company that was bought out by Wally Frank in the pre-link days. This would suggest that Jobey was always American.

From this I surmise that the Gourd calabash pipes were probably made by the Wally Frank Company or at least for them. I don’t know the dates of the manufacture of the pipes but my guess is that it is in the 60s.

Jeff did a thorough cleanup on the meerschaum bowl, the inside of the gourd and the stem. He carefully scraped the cake in the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He cleaned the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs – scrubbing out the mortise as it was dirty. He scrubbed the exterior of the meerschaum cup and the gourd with Murphy’s Oil soap and a tooth brush and was able to remove all of the oils and dust ground into the gourd. He was able to remove all of the lava and overflow from the top of the meerschaum bowl and left it looking very clean. Once he had removed the lava on the rim top and inner edge they were cleaner than I expected. The scratches in the meerschaum were quite shallow and would be easy to polish out. He cleaned internals of the stem with alcohol. When it arrived I took some photos of it to show how it looked before I did the restoration. I took the bowl off the gourd to have a look at the inside of the pipe. The gourd was very clean. The cork gasket was dry but that could be remedied easily enough. The mottle appearance of the meerschaum bowl can also be seen in the photos.The stem had cleaned up nicely with relatively little oxidation. The tooth marks on the top and underside along with the chatter were still present.The wooden shank extension (which looks like briar to me) is very clean and ready for polishing. I used some Vaseline petroleum jelly to lubricate the cork gasket and soften it. I have done this for years and I really like the effect of the jelly on the cork. I used 1500 grit micromesh sanded off the spots along the surface of the meerschaum cup where it sat against the cork and the top of the gourd to ensure a smooth fit.I used my fingers to rub the gourd and briar extension down with Before & After Restoration Balm to bring life to both and to remove any residual dust or dirt in the surface of the calabash. I wiped it off with a cotton cloth and buffed it with a shoe brush. The next few photos show the gourd at this point in the process. I polished the rim top, inner edge and underside of the meerschaum bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the surface of the cup down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. When I finished sanding with the last pad I wiped it down again and set it aside. I checked the pliability of the cork gasket, rubbed a little more Vaseline into it and put the bowl back on the gourd. The fit of the cup against the gasket was snug but not hard to insert. It was perfect. The pipe was beginning to look finished. The shine on the gourd and the rim looked good. The briar extension had its own shine as well. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter on the top and underside near the button. I also found as I examined the underside that there was a strange rippling to the vulcanite almost like it had some heat damage. I sanded that area to clean up the ripples and smooth them out.I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each sanding pad. After using the 12000 grit pad I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond to give a deep and rich shine. Normally at this point I put the stem back on the bowl and take the pipe to the buffing wheel to work it over. This time I took the parts to the buffing wheel. I gently buffed the meerschaum cup and rim with Blue Diamond to polish the meer. I carefully buffed the gourd base and briar shank extension with Blue Diamond being cautious about the pressure I put on the gourd. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond to raise the gloss on the vulcanite. I took the pipe back to the work table and gave the gourd multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax. I gave the stem several coats carnauba wax. I buffed the parts of the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This one is already spoken for and I think that the pipeman that it is going out to will really enjoy the unique look of his new pipe. Thanks for looking.

 

Replacing a Threaded Mortise/Tenon system with a Push Mortise/Tenon System in a Meerschaum Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

When I received this meerschaum pipe the sender said that it needed to have the tenon replaced. It looked like it would be a simple repair so I left it until last. I restemmed the other little meerschaum that I posted earlier and put a new tenon on an Italian pipe for him and figured that this would be an easy fix. I unscrewed the stem from the broken tenon – it was split and half of it was missing. The stem came off with no problem. I had a perfect replacement tenon available to me so I screwed it into the stem and then looked at the broken tenon in the shank. Still the problem seemed quite simple. I used my wood screw and threaded it into the airway and tried to pull the tenon – either unscrewing it or at least wiggling it free. It did not move at all. I looked at it with a lens and saw that there were remnants of epoxy around the portion of the tenon that showed. Now I was in trouble. What had originally been an easy fix now was complicated.Meer1Meer2Meer3 Meer4Before I drilled out the tenon I took a few photos of the bowl to show the condition of the meer. It was worn and scratched but had some beauty that shown through the grime and the scratches. The rim was dirty and pitted but the edges were sharp. The bowl interior was lightly caked and the pipe smelled of strong aromatics.Meer5 Meer6 Meer7 Meer8I drilled out the tenon in the shank of the pipe starting with a bit slightly larger than the airway. No problem with that first step. I increased the size of the bit and drilled it again. It was my hope to have the glued tenon break free with the drilling. I increased the size of the bit yet again, this time to almost the same size as the threaded tenon. No luck. The tenon was absolutely stuck to the insert in the shank. I increased the bit size once more and this time the tenon broke. I tried to pick out the remaining pieces but they were solidly glued in place. I looked at the insert with a lens and could see that the glue and tenon had damaged the internal threads on the insert. This was turning into a real pain. I would have to drill out the entire insert and replace it. Once I had the tenon free I figured this would be easy as well. Again I was wrong. The insert was also glued in place. I increased the size of the bit several times until I had removed the insert itself. This old pipe was turning into a head ache.

I finally was able to remove the insert. I examined the inside of the shank. The original drilling of this pipe was fascinating. It was obviously drilled in several stages stepping down the mortise to the airway. I wrote to the owner and asked if it would be okay to replace the threaded tenon and mortise set up with a push tenon. I figured why complicate things. He confirmed that he was okay with that replacement. I started work on the stem and shank for that set up. I drilled the airway on the stem slightly bigger to take the push tenon. I cleaned out the inside of the stem to remove the debris and the tars. I checked the fit of the tenon in the stem and it was a good fit. I would need to countersink the airway to accommodate the rim on the tenon.Meer9 Meer10 Meer11I cleaned out the shank and airway on the bowl as well. I fit the insert in the shank. The fit was good but I would also need to countersink it to make a flat surface for the stem to sit against.Meer12I used a slightly larger drill bit to create the countersink on the shank and pushed the insert in place. The fit was perfect. Due to the damage on the shank from all of the glue I would need to use glue to hold the insert in place but I wanted to clean up the fit before I set the glue in place. In the photo below the new system can be seen. The mortise insert is in place and the push tenon is on the stem.Meer13I cleaned out the shank one more time and then mixed a two part epoxy for the insert. I applied the mixture to the insert and pressed it into place. I aligned the airway and the stem so that things would be straight once it dried and set the bowl aside so the epoxy could cure.Meer14I used a drill bit to countersink the rim on the tenon into the stem. I threaded it in place to make sure the fit was correct.

I sanded the bowl with micromesh sanding pads to smooth out the roughness and bring back some of the shine of polished meer. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and was able to bring back a lot of the life in the meerschaum. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads to polish it further. The photos below show the pipe after I had sanded it. When I am working on an older meerschaum I do not like to remove all of nicks and scratches as they add character to an old pipe. They are like battle scars and each of them has a story to tell. I clean up the surface damage and highlight the patina but leave the pipe clean but looking its age.Meer15 Meer16 Meer17I let the epoxy set over night and then this morning pushed the stem into the new mortise. The fit was a little tight and I could see some light between the stem and the shank end. I needed to finesse the fit of the stem and shank.Meer18 Meer19 Meer20 Meer21I carefully sanded the end of the mortise with the Dremel to make sure the insert was flush against the meerschaum end of the shank. I also worked on the countersink of the tenon in the stem with a sharp knife to give it a wider and sharper bevel to accommodate the rim around the middle of the tenon. I polished the newly sanded and cut areas with micromesh sanding pads to smooth out the fresh work. I polished the stem and the bowl lightly with some soft white Beeswax and then buffed the pipe by hand with a microfibre cloth to raise the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. Soon I will pack up the threesome of pipes and send them back to the pipe man who sent them to me. They are all functional now and to me actually look and work better than they did before. Thanks for looking.Meer22 Meer23 Meer24 Meer25 Meer26 Meer27 Meer28 Meer29