Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe I am working on was purchased on 11/14/2022 as part of a group of pipes from a fellow in Copenhagen, Denmark. This was a horribly tired and dirty pipe with a lot of wear and tear and obviously it had been someone’s favourite smoker. The pipe has an identifying plate on the left side of the shank that reads Stanwell [over] 1986. There was no other stamping on the shank and the silver plate confirmed for me that it was a Stanwell Pipe of the Year. The dirty sandblast finish on this was worn and tired looking. There were tars and oils ground into the surface of the briar. The silver band on the shank was an later addition to address a crack in the shank on the underside. one showed some nice grain around the bowl and shank and though it was a little dirty it was a nice looking pipe. The bowl had a thick cake that flowed over the top of the lightly crowned rim in a thick coat of a lava and showed potential damage on the top and the inner edge. The stem was a black vulcanite saddle stem with a silver Crown S on the left side of the saddle. It had some deep and wide tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. There was also some oxidation and calcification on both sides of the stem. For me the question was would it clean up well enough to make it worth doing a thorough restoration. Time would tell once it was cleaned up and I had a chance to look it over. Jeff took photos of the pipes before he started his clean up work. He took photos of the rim and bowl to show the heavy cake and thick lava coat covering the rim top. It really was filthy and a mess. He also took photos of the stem surfaces to show its overall condition when it arrived. The photos of the sides and heel of the bowls show beautiful grain around the bowl and shank sides. The sandblast is nicely done and highlights the grain. The brown stain on the briar adds depth finish on the pipe and makes the grain really stand out. It shows some promise. He took a photo of the crack in the underside of the shank. It had been repaired before but the band had slipped off a bit and the crack had opened up. He also took a photo of the stamped silver plate on the left underside of the shanks. It reads as noted above. Jeff cleaned up the pipe for me. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to clean off the grime off the finish and the heavy overflow of lava on the rim top. The cleaning had removed the thick coat 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. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and was able to remove much of the oxidation, calcification. When it arrived here in Vancouver it was a clean pipe and I knew what I had to work with. I took photos of it before I started my part of the restoration. I took a photo of the rim top and the stem to show their condition once it arrived in Canada. Jeff was able to clean up the incredibly thick cake and the lava overflow that was shown in the rim and bowl photos above. The rim top showed damage on the surface and the inner edge of the bowl was in rough condition. It was chipped and out of round. He was also able to get rid of the grime and grit in the surface of the briar around the sandblast. The last photo of the three below shows the crack in the shank. The stem looked better, though there were deep tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. I took a photo of the stamping on the silver plate on the left side of the shank to show that it was readable and undamaged by the cleanup work.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the parts to give a sense of what the pipe looks like.I started my work on the inner edge and rim top with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove that damage on the rim top and bring the inner edge back into round. It looked much better. (I also filled in the remnants of the crack on the underside of the shank with clear CA glue to further strengthen the previous repair. I forgot to take pictures of this step.)I started polishing the smooth rim top with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. The crowned rim top began to take on a rich shine and grain was beginning to stand out. I wet sanded with all of the pads and wiped the bowl down after each pad with a soft cloth. I used an oak stain pen to touch up the stain on the rim top to match the other smooth portions of the bowl and shank.I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the finish on the bowl and shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I worked it in with my fingers to get it into the briar. I used a horsehair shoe brush to work it into the sand blast. I let it sit for 10 minutes then I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. It is a beautiful bowl. I polished the silver band and plaque on the side of the shank with a jewelers cloth to remove the slight remaining oxidation and to protect and preserve it. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem at this point in the process. The stem sat straight in the shank but the fit was thicker on the right side of the shank rather than the left side. I would need to reduce the diameter of the stem on the right side to get a more centered fit. I sanded the side with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to reduce the diameter on that side. At the same time I filled in the deep tooth marks with clear CA glue. I flattened the repairs with a small file. And sanded the smooth with 220 grit. I started polishing the whole stem with 600 grit sandpaper until the sanding marks were gone. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I gave it a further polish with Before & After Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I finished by wiping the stem down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the Stanwell Pipe of the Year 1986 Dublin Calabash pipe and took the pipe to the buffer. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish the briar and the acrylic. Blue Diamond does a great job on the smaller scratches that remain in both. 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. Considering the mess the pipe was when we received it I am amazed at how well it turned out. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is a beautiful Stanwell POY 1986 – the vulcanite saddle stem and crowned rim top and sandblast finish combine to give the pipe a great look. The polished black, vulcanite stem looks really good with the rich browns standing out in the sandblast. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.34 ounces/38 grams. This is another pipe that I will be putting on the rebornpipes online store in the Danish Pipe Pipemaking Companies Section shortly, if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this beauty!