Tag Archives: Polishing a meerschaum bowl

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