Tag Archives: polishing horn stems

Breathing Fresh Life into an Inherited Ben Wade “The Gem” from the Year 1900!


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

It’s been a while since I have worked on any of my grandfather’s pipe collection that I have inherited after his demise a few years ago. Amongst the collection, this small quaint Ben Wade was beckoning me for a long time. It is now that I decided to work on it. I had one Ben Wade without a stem, that Steve had taken back to Canada from his visit to India to fashion a stem from his bag of spares. This prompted me to fish out this Ben Wade and work towards its restoration.

This small sized straight Bulldog is typically classic British shape, with a diamond shank and a horn stem with a threaded bone tenon. The shank end is decorated with a sterling silver ferrule with embossed leaves, which is loose and came off easily. On this ferrule are the stamp details which will help in determining the vintage of this pipe. The silver shank ferrule is stamped as “A & Co” over a series of three hallmarks running from the left near the bowl end to the end of the shank on the right.The first hallmark is an “Anchor” in a shield shaped cartouche and identifies the city of Birmingham in England where the silver was crafted. The second hallmark is a passant Lion in a cartouche which signifies that the band is silver and that it was crafted by a British silversmith. The third hallmark is a square cartouche with the small letter “a” in the box which is a date letter that will give the year of the making of the pipe. Steve had recommended a site which he frequents while dating silver hallmarked pipes. Here is the link which helped me identify the city mark as Birmingham and further following the link on Birmingham date letter chart on the same page brought me to a separate page with all the letters along with the period in which they were stamped. I found the letter which matched to the one seen on the pipe in my hand and I can now say with authority that this silver ferrule is from the year of manufacture1900!! Unfortunately, the site did not allow me to copy/ edit and reproduce the relevant charts for including in this write up.

https://www.925-1000.com/british_marks.html

The next stamp which I researched was the “A & Co” stamp over the three hallmarks. I conferred with The-Beard-of-Knowledge on all things pipe, Steve and he suggested that I visit http://www.silvercollection.it and sure enough I got the information that I was looking for. I reproduce the relevant information from the site and also the link for those who may need to refer when researching their pipes.

http://www.silvercollection.it/englishsilvermarksXA.html

A business which is supposed to have been established in 1781 at Mitcham, Surrey, by William Asprey (died 1827).

CHRONOLOGY:
Francis Kennedy, c. 1804-c. 1841
Kennedy & Asprey, c. 1841-1843
Charles Asprey, 1843-c.1872
purchased the business of Charles Edwards, c.1857
Charles Asprey & Son, c.1872-c.1879
Charles Asprey & Sons, c.1879-c.1888
acquired Leuchars & Sons
C.& G.E. Asprey, c.1888-c.1900
Asprey (& Co), c.1900-1909
acquired Houghton & Gunn, 1906
acquired William Payne & Co, 1908
Asprey & Co Ltd, 1909- 1998
Asprey & Garrard, 1998-2002
Asprey & Co Ltd, 2002

The relevant stamping is highlighted in blue. The period/ vintage of the ferrule now perfectly matches and confirmed that it is from the year 1900.

With the year of make of the ferrule established as 1900, I wanted to confirm if this matched with the year of manufacture of the pipe itself. This is essential since the makers did stock up on such silver ferrule before they even made pipes for them. The stampings on the pipe itself should provide some clues to the link with the vintage of the pipe. The pipe is stamped as “B W” in a rectangle over “THE GEM”, all in golden block capital letters. There are no other markings on this pipe, not even COM stamp.I searched pipedia.org for information on this brand and further confirmation on dating this pipe. There are some interesting details on this brand and makes for an interesting read. I have reproduced some snippets of the information from pipedia.org which are relevant to dating this Ben Wade.

The company was founded by Benjamin Wade in 1860 in Leeds, Yorkshire, where it was located for over a century. Ben Wade started as a pipe trader, but yet in the 1860’s he established a workshop to produce briar pipes. The pipes were made in very many standard shapes – always extensively classic and “very British”. Many models tended to be of smaller dimensions. Ben Wade offered a very high standard of craftsmanship and quality without any fills. Thus the pipes were considered to be high grade and a major competitor to other famous English brands.

In the second World War the factory was destroyed by German air raids on Leeds. But the Ben Wade family decided to re-build it immediately after the war and pipe production was re-started soon and successfully linked to the fame from the pre-war years.

Before the second war Ben Wade clustered their offerings into three price points: “Ben Wade” included the higher end pipes (eg the Larnix, Super Grain, Selected Grain, etc), “BW” included the mid-level pipes (eg Statesman, Natural Grain, County, etc), and “BWL” were the least expensive (eg Hurlingham, Adelphi, Tense Grain). Champion was in the last group, and in the 1930s at least retailed for 2/6.

Even though the owner family decided to leave pipe business and sell off the firm. The family went into negotiations with Herman G. Lane, president of Lane Ltd. in New York at about the same time as the Charatan family. Lane Ltd. bought both firms in 1962.

From the above it is confirmed that the Ben Wade that I have inherited is from the family era and from the era before the second war, placing it before 1939. Now, I had read somewhere that it was common for pipe makers not stamp the pipe with the COM stamp in early 1900s and this was confirmed by Steve. Thus, to sum up all the information researched to date this particular piece, it is safe to conclude that this pipe is likely to have been made in the year 1900!! My inheritance indeed has some very nice and very old pipes.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
In the month of January this year, I had restored a Loewe Kenton from my inherited pipes that was nicely reamed with no overflowing lava over the rim top (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/01/17/restoring-a-classic-british-billiard-loewe-co-pipe/) and now this is the second pipe which is without a layer of cake in the chamber. However, the rim top surface is darkened and covered with lava overflow. I searched through the remaining large carton of inherited pipe for another pipe which is sans cake, but did not find any. Coming back to the pipe on my work table, the rim inner edge is mighty uneven, most probably a result of using a knife blade and shows signs of darkening due to charring. However, the outer edge is without any damage. The walls of the chamber are in excellent condition with no signs of heat fissures/ lines, but slightly uneven. A little magical touch from Pavni, my daughter who specializes in making the chamber smooth should address this issue. The stummel surface has developed a nice patina over 119 years of its existence and I have no intentions of destroying it during the restoration. Therefore, the few dents and dings that are visible shall stay and be a part of the pipes history through the years. Maybe, micromesh polishing will address a few of these dents and scratches. I wouldn’t say that this pipe has beautiful grains all round because it does not!! But yes, there is a smattering of some straight grains in the cap of the stummel and few on the shank while rest of the stummel has just some swirls of grains here and there. Even though the stummel is covered in dust, dirt and grime from years of uncared for storage, through it all the pipe still has a feel of quality maybe because of the shape or the proportions, I am not able to pin point exact reasons, but the pipe shouts vintage and quality!! The double ring separating the cap from the rest of the stummel is filled with dirt and dust, but is intact with no chipping or unevenness, which is surprising. At this stage of my initial inspection, in order to see the condition of the shank end and mortise, I tried to separate the bone stem from the shank end. The stem would not budge. I had no desire of applying more force for the fear of breaking the bone tenon inside the mortise and this would have really complicated the restoration for me as well as the originality of the pipe would have been compromised. I wanted neither and so in went the entire pipe in to freezer for a chill. A few hours later, I took the pipe out from the freezer and slightly heated the shank end. Once satisfied, I gingerly turned the stem with success. A little coaxing and finally the stem and shank were separated. Whew! What a relief. However, when I tried to reattach the two, there was a slight gap between the stem and the shank end and indicated with red arrows. I am sure that with the cleaning of the shank/ mortise of the entire gunk, the fit should improve. After the stem was separated from the shank end, the sterling silver ferrule too fell out easily. I will have to fix it with superglue. A closer examination of the mortise confirmed that it is clogged with accumulation of oils, tars and gunk of yesteryear. The threads too are covered in the gunk and most probably the cause of the incorrect seating of the stem in the mortise.The horn stem itself appears dull and lifeless and has tooth chatter on both the surfaces of the stem. The slot is perfectly round and correct for the time period of the pipe and shows accumulation of dried tars and dirt. The button edges, however, are sharp and sans any damage with a little dirt embedded at the bottom of the edges. I could make out one crack emanating from the right bottom edge of the diamond saddle and extending to more than half the length of the saddle panel. This crack is shown by a yellow arrow. The dark and light hues taken on by the stem over the years should polish out nicely and will add an additional touch of class to this classy pipe. THE PROCESS
Pavni, my youngest daughter loves to help me in pipe restoration in her free time and her forte is getting the walls of the chamber as smooth as a baby’s bottom. With a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper she completely evened out the wall surface. Once she was through with her sanding regime, I cleaned out the internals of the shank and the mortise with a few hard and regular pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I also cleaned out the threads in the shank end with cotton buds and alcohol. With a sharp knife, I gently scraped away the lava overflow from the rim top surface. I followed it up by cleaning the external surface of the stummel with hard bristled tooth brush and Murphy’s oil soap. I rinsed it under running tap water and dried it with paper towels and a soft cotton cloth. I diligently scrubbed the rim top surface with a scotch-brite pad and Murphy’s oil soap to remove the remaining lava overflow. With this step on this particular project, I achieved two results; firstly, the gold lettered stamping on the shank was consigned to past tense and secondly, a couple of fills were revealed (marked in yellow arrows) at the front of the bowl and in the bottom left panel of the diamond shank. Thankfully, there is no charring over the inner and outer edge or the rim surface. I removed the old and loosened fills from the front of the bowl and one on the shank that was closer to the bowl. The old fill at the shank end; I let it be as it would be covered with superglue while attaching the silver ferrule. Next, I decided to address the issue of darkened rim top surface and uneven inner edge by topping the rim on a piece of 220 grit sand paper. The progress being made was frequently checked as I had no desire to lose any briar estate than absolutely necessary. Once satisfied with the result, I wiped the rim top surface with a moist cloth. The darkened rim top has been addressed completely, however, the inner rim edge is still uneven (though greatly reduced) with slight charred edges. I address these issues by simply running a piece of 220 grit sand paper along the inner rim edge without creating a bevel, but a nice rounded even surface.Next issue to be addressed was the fills. As mentioned above, I had cleaned out the old and loose fills using my sharp dental tool. I filled these with a mix of superglue and briar dust using the layering technique. Using a toothpick, I first spot fill superglue in to the surface of the intended fill and press briar dust over it. I repeat this process, if need be, till the fill is slightly above the rest of the surface. Once all the fills are covered, I set the stummel aside to cure. Once the fills are sufficiently hardened, which is quite rapid, I sand it with a flat head needle file to achieve a rough match with the rest of the stummel surface. I follow it up by sanding with a piece of 220, 600 and 800 grit sand papers to a perfect match. Discerning readers must have noted that I did not sand the entire stummel surface. This was because, as I had decided earlier that I would maintain the aged patina that the briar had taken on over the 119 years.At this stage, I decided that I would tackle the stem repairs as addressing the crack observed on the diamond saddle would require curing time and while the stem repair is curing, I could get back to the stummel, saving on time. I began by first cleaning the bone tenon and the stem surface with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the dirt and gunk from the surface. I was contemplating whether or not to drill a counter hole to prevent the crack from progressing further and after weighing the cons, I decided not to do so. The probability of the stem chipping or the crack developing further was reason enough for me to avoid this drilling. I filled this crack with plain superglue and set it aside to cure. The CA superglue would seep and spread inside and stabilize the crack. During his visit, while discussing various aspects of pipe restorations, Steve had made a passing comment that in his experience the best way to preserve the patina on a briar if you need to sand it is to dry sand the stummel with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. I followed his advice and went ahead and dry sanded the entire stummel surface with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. The results are amazing. The stummel has now a deep and rich dark brown coloration and this will further deepen once I go through the polishing and wax application regimen. Most of the readers would have noticed that the double ring separating the cap from the rest of the stummel shows accumulation of briar dust and grime. Also the fills are darker than the rest of the stummel surface. I have noticed it too and will clean the rings at the end as the polish and wax would also be accumulating in these gaps subsequently. The issue of the fills was addressed by staining the fills and surrounding surface with a dark brown stain pen. I set the stummel aside overnight for the stain to set. The blend is near perfect and should blend further after application of balm and carnauba wax polish.The superglue applied over the crack was by now well cured and had seeped in to the crack as well. I sand the entire stem and the fill in particular, with a worn piece of 220 grit sand paper. This helped to address the tooth chatter seen in the bite zone as well as blend the fill with the rest of the stem surface. I followed it up with dry sanding the stem with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. I wiped the stem with a moist cloth after every three pads to remove the resulting bone dust. To finish, I applied a liberal coat of Extra Virgin Olive oil and set it aside to be absorbed by the porous bone. I am very pleased with the way the contrasting dark browns and lighter grains in the bone are now highlighted. Once polished further, this will further add a touch of class to an already chic looking Bulldog!! I applied petroleum jelly over the bone tenon and tried the fit of it in to the mortise after temporarily attaching the silver ferrule over the shank end. The alignment and seating of the two was spot on. I separated all the parts again and continued further. While the stem was being hydrated with olive oil, I went back to work the stummel. The stain had set well by this time. I applied a little “Before and After Restoration” balm with my fingers and rubbed it deep in to the stummel surface. This balm rejuvenates the briar and the transformation in the appearance of the stummel is almost immediate. The fills are now so well blended in to the briar that it is difficult to spot them. The only part that needs TLC is the sterling silver ferrule. I polish the ferrule with a very soft powder specifically available locally, and widely used by jewelers, for polishing of silver. I align the ferrule stampings with the stummel stamping on the shank and fix it over the shank with a little superglue. The contrast that this shiny ferrule provides against the dark brown of the stummel looks fantastic.Next, I ran a thin and sharp knife through the double cap ring and cleaned it. To finish, I re-attach the stem with the stummel and mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my rotary tool. I set the speed at about half of the full power and applied several coats of carnauba wax over the stummel and the stem of the pipe. I finished the restoration by giving the pipe a rigorous hand buff using a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine further. The completed pipe, with dark brown hues of the stummel contrasting with silver ferrule and the shiny dark browns and lighter grains in the bone stem makes for a visual treat. The pipe looks lovely, fresh and vibrant; the photographs speak for themselves. Thank you for your valuable time. P.S. This was the last pipe that I had restored during my leave from my work. The following write ups are now on pipes that I have already restored after returning to my work place. I shall sorely miss the help that Pavni, my 10 year youngest daughter and Abha, wifey dear, extend in my work. There are about 40 odd pipes that I have carried with me and which have been cleaned by Abha. So the next couple of months are going to be interesting. Keep following rebornpipes.com for some nice, unique and interesting pipes from here in India in the near future.

Oh, missed out on one aspect!! I tried to repaint the shank stamp with a gold glitter pen towards the end, but it would just not stay. Any suggestion would definitely help me mark this oldie as well as for future.

 

Recommissioning a Classic Pocket Pipe:  A Fun Sport Horn Stem Sculpted Stubby Paneled Tomato


Blog by Dal Stanton

I’m calling this Sport Horn Stem “fun” because it’s a whimsical pipe.  As a ‘stubby’ he looks like he wanted to grow larger but didn’t.  He’s diminutive in stature and really qualifies as a ‘Pocket Pipe’ because he will be comfy in a pocket waiting for his steward to pack his bowl and spend some time together.  The dimensions are: Length: 4 1/4 inches, Height: 1 1/8 inches, Rim width: 1 inch, Chamber width: 11/16 inches, Chamber depth: 1 1/8 inches.  His paneled bowl has also been shaped with a sculpting that appears to be leaves, vines and a basket on his heel.  When you put this pipe’s characteristics together, whimsical comes to my mind.  He came to me as a part of the French Lot of 50 that I acquired from France’s eBay auction block.  This French Lot of 50 has been an amazing collection of pipes many of which are now with new stewards after they commissioned them from For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! online collection and many of which bearing names that are unknown to me.  This lot was also characterized by several pipes sporting horn stems – pointing in many cases to earlier French origins.  Here’s a picture of the Lot and the Sport is bowl down on the lower right.Peter was among those who trolled through the virtual ‘Help Me!’ baskets in Pipe Dreamers Only! and reached out to me about commissioning the Sport which benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – our work here in Bulgaria helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Now on my worktable, here are more pictures of the Sport. The left side of the shank holds the slanted, cursive, ’Sport’ framed in a sculpted panel.  On the right side of the shank, is the French rendering of ‘BRUYERE’ [over] ‘DELUXE’.  As I’ve done several times before with this Lot, I’m assuming that the Sport is of French origin – the horn stem helps in this conviction as horn was a common stem material for pipe manufacturing in the earlier part of the 1900s. As I was half expecting, I found very little at my normal first stops at Pipedia and Pipephil.  ‘Sportsman’ is a popular name I saw in Pipephil but nothing with the simple, ‘Sport’.  Pipedia dangled some possibilities.

Pipedia listed in the Savinelli article (LINK) the Savinelli made sub-brands, seconds & order productions and had this listing: “Sport – About 1960’s – Chubby shape with very short stem or mouthpiece”.  Interesting, but the Sport just doesn’t have the Savinelli Italian feel with the horn stem and sculpting.  Pipedia provided two more leads – one of French origin and the other English.  Again, Pipedia only contributes in the English listing section and not with an article: “Sport: Brand of J. Cohen & Son. Also a Salvatella series, and a model by Chacom.”  I looked up the link given for Salvatella because I hadn’t heard of this name.  The short paragraph was interesting:

Salvatella was a pipe company founded in 1883 by Enric Moulines Giralt in Catalonia, Spain, long the center both of briar production and pipemaking in Spain. Giralt started the company after training with French pipemakers, and primarily dedicated himself to the development of briar. It was not until Giralt’s nephew, the third to take over the company, that Salvatella began producing pipes as well as briar. While at their height the company produced as many as 150,000 pipes per year and exported pipes worldwide, the factory closed in 2001.

Interesting, but nothing that helps me move forward.  The listing for ‘Sport’ in the Pipedia French manufacturers list was even less demonstrable: “Bristol Sport” followed by: “???”  Each piece of information is like a thread in the wind.  Nothing to get ahold of or to tie to!

In a last ditch effort to find something, I recalled the restoration of another petite French beauty that came from this French Lot of 50 that I had already researched and restored (See: Discovering the History with the Reclamation of this Petite EPC Majestic Bent Horn Stem Billiard).  The EPC Majestic I discovered dated in the 1920s and was produced by now defunct, A. Pandevant & Roy Co. near Paris.  The research of the EPC Majestic led me to old catalogs that helped me put the pieces of the mystery of its origins together.  The similarities between the Sport and the EPC Majestic gave me the idea that maybe the name ‘Sport’ might show up in the old catalog.  With a certain amount of hope I poured through the Catalogue only to find nothing.  One last thread in the wind of little use: Also, in the same French Lot of 50 was another pipe marked with “Sport” on its shank.  An attractive Bullmoose which is still in the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! online collection waiting to be adopted!  A quick comparison of the markings leaves little hope that they are related….While I cannot corroborate this, I believe that the Sport before me is of French origin and that the horn stem gives it some vintage – how much, I cannot say.  Even so, it is an attractive and interesting pipe even though his origins will remain shrouded in mystery for now.

Looking at the pipe’s condition, it is in very good shape.  The chamber has a light cake build-up but the lava flow over the rim has some grit to it.  The sculpted surface needs cleaning and polishing.  The horn stem is beautiful and shows almost no bit wear.  It will shine up very nicely.  I start the recommissioning of this Sport Horn Stem Sculpted Paneled Tomato by starting with the stummel.  Using the Pipnet Reaming Kit I use only the first, smallest of the blade heads to ream the 11/16-inch-wide chamber.  I follow this by employing the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to scrape the chamber walls and clean out around the draft hole.  Finally, I sand the chamber using 240 grade paper wrapped around the Sharpie Pen and finish by wiping the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean away the carbon dust.  With the chamber cleaned, I give it a quick inspection, and all looks good – no problems with overheating, cracks or fissures. Next, using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a cotton pad, I scrub the external sculpted briar surface.  I also use a bristled toothbrush to get into the crevasses of the sculpting as well as a brass wire brush to work on the rim.  After scrubbing the surface, I take the stummel to the sink and using warm water I clean the internals using shank brushes and anti-oil dish soap.  While I’m at it, I use the brass brush on the nickel shank facing.After rinsing, and inspecting the now clean stummel, I discover 2 things.  First, there is a huge fill on the left shank near the ‘Sport’ nomenclature.  I’m not sure how I missed it before, so I look at a ‘before’ picture and discover that the fill had been part of the sculpting in a very effective way.  The fill was almost fully masked because it was blended with the contours.  Now, I’ll have to work on doing the same!  The second thing I discovered is that the mortise has a cork layer which grips the metal tenon.  Thankfully, I discover this before digging in the mortise to clean it!  As I inspect the mortise, I also see what appears to be a metal tubing beyond the cork down to the draft hole.  I use a sharp dental probe to test it and it does feel like metal or a hard lining of some sort.  The presence of the cork could possibly add more weight to this Sport having some vintage to it.  Cork was often used on older pipes to grip the tenon – the EPC Majestic included. Just to make sure, I remount the horn stem to see if the grip was still good – it was.  I’ll treat the cork later with some petroleum jelly to hydrate it.  Wow – I can’t believe I missed that fill!!I continue cleaning the internals by using isopropyl 95% and cotton buds reaching over the cork as much as possible. I also scrape the sides of the mortise, beyond the cork to help excavate tars and oils.  After a lot of cotton buds and pipe cleaners, the buds begin to emerge lighter and cleaner and I’m able to move on!The huge fill on the left shank side needs to be addressed.  The fill is solid but eroded so that it falls beneath the surface level of the briar.  I first dig out the old fill material using a sharp dental probe. My, the hole is deep!  After removing the fill, I clean the area with a cotton pad and alcohol. I then mix thick CA glue with briar dust to form a putty to refill the hole. Before mixing the CA glue and briar dust, I put scotch tape down on a plastic disk that serves as a mixing pallet.  The tape helps to facilitate cleaning – I simply peel the tape up afterwards.  I place a small pile of briar dust on the disk and put some thick CA glue in a small puddle next to the dust.  Using a toothpick, I gradually pull some briar dust into the edge of the thick CA glue and mix it as I go.  When it gets to a thickness that it doesn’t run too much, I dollop some into the crevasse with the toothpick and knead the putty down into the recesses using the toothpick.  When the hole is filled and a bit higher than the surface, I put the stummel aside to cure.  Since the putty is so thick – the hole so large, I’ll let the curing go through the night.  I put the stummel aside and turn to the horn stem.I start by cleaning the airway with pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%.  After one attempt with the pipe cleaner I discover that the airway is closed.  Looking at the button, I can see that the slot is totally plugged with gunk.  I use a dental probe with a hook point to excavate the gunk out of the slot.  Eventually, I’m able to work a thin shank brush wetted with isopropyl 95% through the airway.  After several pipe cleaners and assistance from shank brushes, the airway started cleaning up and I move on.To clean the external surface of the horn stem I take it to the sink with a bristled toothbrush and scrub the stem with warm water and dish soap.  First, I take a pair of pictures to mark the start.After the scrubbing, the horn composition starts to show its subtle shadows.  Very nice.After cleaning the nickel tenon with soap and water and clearing the gunk buildup on the stem facing, I use 000 steel wool to clean the tenon further bringing out the shine.With the stem now clean, I study the horn stem.  It’s a beautiful piece of horn and the only thing I can do is simply spruce it up.  In the past, I benefited greatly by Steve’s essay on horn stem repair working on my first horn stem, A First Horn Stem on a Throw Away Pipe.  The key thing in repairing horn is to fill the gaps to keep the horn from drying and splintering as horn is very porous.  This stem needs no repairs, but looking closely, I do see normal minuscule porous texture.  The tighter or smoother the horn surface is, helps to guard against the decay of the horn.  I take a few closeups to show this.I treat the horn stem like a vulcanite stem but with greater gentleness.  I run the stem through the micromesh regimen, and I will apply compounds afterward.  I wet sand with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 and follow by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  After each set of three pads, I apply Obsidian Oil to the horn and the horn drinks it up! I’m pleased with the results – even more gloss!  My day comes to an end. The next day, the briar dust putty fill has fully cured, and I go to work on it using a flat needle file to bring the fill mound down to briar level.I then use a piece of 240 grade sanding paper to smooth it further and to begin giving some shape to the patch to blend it.When the sandpaper did what it could do, I used a pointed needle file to sculpt through the patch to blend the patch with the surrounding area.  The good news is that the area is rough and busy which helps in blending the patch.With a combination of filing and sanding, I like the results.  The briar putty patch is darker than the surrounding area but I’m hopeful that the surrounding briar will also darken through the micromesh sanding/polishing process and with the application afterwards of Before & After Restoration Balm.After the external briar cleaning, the rim is looking good but still has some minor discoloration from charring on the internal rim edge and well as some roughness on the rim.  I gently sand the rim and the internal edge with a piece of 240 grade paper to dispatch the issues.  The rim looks good. Next, I apply the full regimen of nine micromesh pads starting with wet sanding using pads 1500 to 2400.  After this, wet sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000 finishes the process.  Wow, it is amazing how this process brings out the grain! From the picture above, the sculpting lines are lighter, and the hue is uneven with the darkening hue of the surrounding smooth briar.  The micromesh has helped with the blending of the briar dust putty patch, but it’s still noticeable.  Applying Before & After Restoration Balm will address both these issues and I’m looking forward to seeing the results.  I put some Balm on my fingers and work the Balm well into the sculpting and briar.  It starts with a cream-like consistency and then thickens to feel more like wax.  I place the stummel aside for 30 minutes for the Balm to be absorbed (pictured) and then I wipe off the excess Balm with a clean cloth then I buff the stummel to bring out the grain.  The briar looks great!As I noted before, the presence of the cork in the shank to grip the tenon possibly helps place this pipe in an older vintage.  To treat the cork, I use petroleum jelly to condition the cork.  I apply a light coat with a cotton bud and work it in.  This will hydrate the cork and hopefully add much time to the cork’s continued life.With the horn stem and Sport sculpted stummel reunited, I apply Blue Diamond compound.  After mounting a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel, and setting the speed to 40% full power, the compound does the job of applying the fine abrasive to the briar surface removing fine imperfections and distinguishing further the sculpted crevasses.  After applying Blue Diamond to the stummel and stem, I change to another cotton cloth buffing wheel dedicated to applying Blue Diamond on nickel.  I give the nickel shank cap a quick buffing with the compound to raise the shine.  I use a different buffing wheel for each different kind of application. While polishing the cap, I’m careful not to run the wheel over the briar as the nickel will stain the wood with the black resulting from the polishing the nickel.Following the compound, I change cotton buffing wheels to a wheel dedicated to wax, maintain speed at 40% and apply carnauba wax to both horn stem and stummel.  Afterwards, the restoration is completed with a rigorous hand buffing to remove excess wax as well as to raise the shine.I cannot place with certainty the exact vintage of this Sport Bruyere Deluxe, but it has characteristics of an older pipe.  I believe it to have a French COM and the horn stem seated with cork, is a distinctive part of this ensemble.  The sculpted bowl is attractive, and the stubby, pocket-sized ease translates into a very fun pipe put back into service for a new steward.  Since Peter commissioned the Sport from the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! online collection, he will have the first opportunity to acquire it from The Pipe Steward Store which benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – our work here in Bulgaria helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

Repairing, Renewing and Rejuvenating a Removable Bowl C.P.F. Pullman Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

I decided to go back to the older pipes that my brother and I picked up on our virtual pipe hunt in Montana. This old timer was a briar base with a removable bowl pipe. It had a brass separator between the bowl and the base. It had a brass band on the shank and horn stem. It is stamped Pullman in a Germanic Script over C.P.F. in an oval on the left side of the shank. This one is a classic bent billiard shaped pipe but the removable bowl on the briar base is unique. I have had other C.P.F. pipes that had a Bakelite base with a briar bowl but never one with a briar base. It is delicate in terms of size (5 inches long and 1 7/8 inches tall) and feels light weight in hand. Like the other banded pipes in this lot the band on the shank is loose and the same faux hall marks over the C.P.F. oval logo. The finish is very dirty and the rim is damaged around the inner and outer edges of the bowl. The threads on the bowl bottom and the base were worn and the bowl no longer stayed in place. The horn stem is worn and there is tooth chatter on the top and underside of the stem near the button. The stem is underturned in the shank. The photos below show what it looked like before my brother did his clean up on it. If you would like to read about some of the other C.P.F. pipes I have restored I have written about them in individual blogs. They include a C.P.F. French Briar Horn, C.P.F. horn stem bulldog, a C.P.F. French Briar bent billiard, a C.P.F. Remington French Briar military mount billiard and a C.P.F. French Briar Rhodesian. Just a reminder – C.P.F. stands for Colossus Pipe Factory. The pipe was made during the same time period as the other pipes of this brand that I have been working on – the late 1880s and 1890s.Jeff took some close up photos base and the bowl sides and bottom. It shows the crack in the base and the cracked and damaged brass separator plate between the bowl and base. The bowl has a lot of deep nicks and scratches in the outer rim edge and the base has some deep nicks around the crack. The bowl had a thick cake that had run over the top of the rim and formed a thick cake on the rim top. It was rock hard and very thick.The next photos show the faux hallmarks on the ferrule and the C.P.F. oval on the left side of the metal. It was oxidized and worn. The stamping on the shank read Pullman over the C.P.F. oval and both were filled in with gold leaf.Once the bowl was removed from the base you can see the cord that is wrapped around the threads on the bottom of the bowl. The brass separator plate was split and was missing a piece of the folded over portion of the plate. There was a thick cake of tars and oils on the bottom of the bowl and in the base. The threads were worn in the base as well. The ferrule was loose and came off when the stem was removed. The bone tenon was threaded into the shank and was not removable. The stem was underturned and with the grime and build up in the shank as well as the stem it would not align. I had a hunch that the loose ferrule also contributed to that. The dried glue did not allow the ferrule to sit snug and against the end of the shank. The horn stem was in good shape other than the tooth chatter and marks on both the top and underside at the button. When we looked at this pipe during our pipe hunt I wondered if it would even hold together once Jeff had cleaned the briar. The cracked spacer looked delicate as well. I was really curious what it would look like when it arrived in Vancouver. Jeff did his usual regimen of cleaning but proceeded carefully through each step. He reamed bowl with a PipNet Reamer and took the cake back to bare briar. He cleaned up the little remnants of cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the inside of the base and the threads on the bottom of the bowl. He removed all of the cord that had been used to attach the bowl to the base. He cleaned out the internals of the pipe – the airways in the shank, mortise and stem using alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl and base with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove all of the thick grime. He scrubbed the overflow of lava on the rim top and edges with the soap and tooth brush. He rinsed the pieces under tap water and dried them off with a towel. He scrubbed the exterior of the horn stem with the oil soap and tooth brush as well as it works well with horn.

When the pipe arrived I was excited to have a look at it. Here is what I saw once it arrived. It was clean and everything was loose – the separator plate, the bowl and the ferrule all moved freely. The cracks and the sandpits in the base were visible and the nicks and damage to the outer edge of the bowl were also very visible. I took photos of the pieces before I began to work on the pipe. The horn stem looked really good and the striations that run the length of the stem will polish up well giving the stem a unique appearance. The variations in horn stems are part of the allure to me and keep me looking for them.The next photo shows the missing piece of the separator plate and the damage to the rim top and the outer edge of the bowl.I put the pieces together enough to take a picture of what the pipe would look like as a whole. Nothing was permanent in these photos as just picking the pipe up would cause a jumble of parts on the work table. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the condition of the edge of the bowl. Interestingly the photo does not show the damage to the outer edge. It does show the nicks and scratches on the inner edge of the bowl and some of the nicks in the rim top.The next series of photos show the process of the repairs of the sandpits and the nicks on the base. I also scratched out the crack with a dental pick and filled it in with super glue while I did the same with the sandpits. Once I had sanded the repaired areas on both sides of the base I reglued the brass plate on the top with the cracked and damaged portion facing the back side toward the bend in the shank. It would not show as much once the bowl was in place. Once the repairs had been done on the base I used clear fingernail polish to build up the threads in both the base and on the bottom of the bowl. It took several coats to build it up enough to give them enough material to connect.I removed the ferrule from the shank and cleaned the dried glue on the shank and inside the ferrule with acetone on a cotton swab. I sanded the area under the band with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface so that the ferrule would seat correctly on the shank. I painted the shank end with a folded pipe cleaner and all-purpose glue. I aligned the faux hallmarks and the C.P.F. oval with the stamping on the side of the shank and pressed the ferrule in place on the shank. I screwed the stem on the shank to check if things aligned now and everything was perfect. The repair to the ferrule had taken care of the underturned stem.I set the base aside to let the glue harden. I turned my attention to the bowl itself. I cleaned off the damaged outer edge of the rim with acetone on a cotton pad. I circled the damaged area in the photo below for ease of reference. I filled the damaged area in with clear super glue and let it dry. Once the glue had cured I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surrounding briar.I topped the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper on a hard board to remove the damage to the rim top, inner and outer edge from the top view. It did not take too much to get things smooth again. I polished the bowl sides and top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. The bowl began to show some very nice grain patterns as the polishing made them stand out. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cotton pad after each micromesh sanding pad and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth before moving on to the next step of the refurb. I polished the brass separator plate between the bowl and base and the ferrule with micromesh sanding pads and wiped them down with a jeweler’s cloth to bring out a smooth shine.I polished the briar base with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the base down with a damp cotton pad after each micromesh pad. With the work on the bowl and base finished I set them aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks on the surface of the stem on both sides at the button with 220 grit sandpaper. I polished the horn with micromesh sanding pads – we wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem with Obsidian Oil after each micromesh pad and after the final rubdown I set it aside to dry. I polished each part of the pipe separately with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave each part multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect the briar and the horn and help the brass from oxidizing. With all the parts cleaned and polished it was time to put the pipe back together again. I thread the bowl onto the base and screwed the stem onto the shank. I aligned everything and carefully hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. For a pipe over 125 years old it looks pretty good. It is cleaned and ready for its first smoke post restoration. It should work well and should last a lot longer than this old refurbisher will. It will pass on into the hands of another pipeman who enjoys the unique qualities of old briar and horn stems. Thanks for looking.

 

 

 

 

Another interesting piece of pipe history Manhattan Canted Dublin with a Horn Stem


Blog by Steve Laug

I have worked on at least two other pipes that I wrote about that bore the Manhattan stamp on the shank in the past few years. One of them was a cased, bent Bakelite Bulldog with a Lockrite Stem. It had a Bakelite Manhattan stamp on the left side of the shank. When I wrote that blog I could find no information on the brand. The second one was a cased Manhattan Bakelite Billiard. The shank and the case on this one both had the same identifying information. The inside cover of the case read Manhattan over French Briar over Bakelite. The shank read Manhattan De Luxe stamped on the left side. In researching the blog on that pipe, I found that a company in the US called the Manhattan Pipe Company made the pipe. There was no other information that I could find at that time.

We found the next Manhattan on the virtual pipe hunt that my brother and I did in Montana. It was an older pipe than the others I had worked on. It also had a horn stem. I would call it a canted Dublin shape (others may differ on that). It is a very lightweight pipe and was in fair condition. The finish was worn and peeling but the briar had very interesting straight/flame grain that flowed on an angle on both sides of the bowl and horizontally along the shank. The back and front of the bowl had a mix of birdseye and flame grain. I have included the photos that Jeff took of the pipe before he worked his magic on it. I thought it would be interesting to see if there was any new information online regarding the brand. Of course, I checked on the Pipes, Logos and Stampings – PipePhil’s site. There was a listing for Manhattan pipes but there was not any new information and what was there was inconclusive. I turned to Pipedia to see if there was a new article. I was surprised to find that there was one, I do not know if it was new or not, but I do not recall seeing it before. The article was called The Manhattan Briar Pipe Company. It is an interesting read so I have included the article in its entirety as well as the advertisement from 1913 that showed a Manhattan pipe. The interesting thing for me is that the pipe is the same shape and style as the one I have in hand. The difference of course is that mine does not have a silver band and there is a horn stem rather than a vulcanite stem.

1913 Manhattan Advertisement

The Manhattan Briar Pipe Co. was organized in October, 1902 by the American Tobacco Company, under an agreement with the owners of the Brunswick Briar Pipe Company, as a New York corporation. Its initial address was 111 5th Avenue, New York City, and the value of its stock in 1902 was $350,000.00. American Tobacco Company had itself been founded in 1890 by J. B. Duke through a merger between a number of U.S. tobacco companies, and was one of the original twelve members of the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1896. It was commonly called the “Tobacco Trust”.

The majority of the stock in Manhattan Briar Pipe Company was immediately acquired by the American Tobacco Company after the company was organized, but the prior owners retained a controlling minority interest for some years. In October, 1906, however, the American Tobacco Company acquired the remaining shares of stock, and from that point on Manhattan Briar was the pipe making branch of American Tobacco. By 1911, however, American Tobacco had been dissolved in anti-trust litigation, and Manhattan Briar Pipe Co. became a separate concern.

Manhattan Briar Pipe Co. had started operations in 1905 in Jersey City, New Jersey, having taken on a lease for a ten year period in 1905, and maintained a factory at Marion, New Jersey, where the pipes were made. By 1913, former American Tobacco pipe department chair John Glossinger was the president of Manhattan Briar Pipe Company, and began a significant advertising push for high grade pipes, using the slogan “Don’t spoil good tobacco by using a poor pipe”. It appears from cases having appeared on the estate market that Manhattan also sold meerschaum pipes, most likely rebranded articles originally made by European craftsmen.

After the expiration of the Jersey City lease the Manhattan Briar Pipe Company maintained offices and a factory at 415-425 Greenpoint Avenue, Brooklyn, New York beginning in 1915, evidently under the direction of W. C. Bastian, who had been granted a patent for a chambered pipe stem otherwise seemingly identical to a Peterson P-Lip in 1910. An employee of the company, one J. Gianninoto, was granted a patent for a device meant to permit the emptying of a cuspidor without the mess in early 1918, and the company continues to be listed in local directories through 1921. In 1922 Manhattan Briar was purchased by S.M. Frank and merged into that company. https://pipedia.org/wiki/Manhattan_Briar_Pipe_Co.

Further digging led me to a link on the S.M. Frank Co. & Inc. history page. Reading through the history of the company I found that S.M. Frank not only purchased the Manhattan Briar Pipe Company but also purchased WDC or William DeMuth & Company – two of the older brands that I enjoy working on. Here is the relevant section from the link: In the year 1900 Sam Frank Sr. started his own business, selling pipes and other tobacco items. His original office was located at 20 W. 17th Street, NYC. He was also closely associated with the sales staff of Wm. DeMuth & Co., selling their line of pipes. It was at this time that Mr. Frank first met Ferdinand Feuerbach and formed what would be a lifelong friendship. Mr. Feuerbach started working for the DeMuth Company in 1897 and by 1903 had become the production manager. In 1919, when Mr. Frank needed an experienced pipe man to run his pipe factory, located at 168 Southern Blvd., in the Bronx, he persuaded his old friend Ferdinand to join him. Mr. Feuerbach is credited with developing DeMuth’s popular Royal DeMuth and Hesson Guard Milano pipelines. In 1922, when S. M. Frank purchased the Manhattan Briar Pipe Co. the company incorporated.  http://www.smfrankcoinc.com/home/?page_id=2

That link led me to me to some further information including an advertisement and a shape chart on Chris Keene’s Pipe Pages http://pipepages.com/mbpc2.htm. I have included them here with acknowledgement to Chris Keene. I always enjoy reading the old copy of these advertisements as they take me back to place where the pipe was an acceptable part of the life. Of course, this influx of information makes me wonder what I was looking for the last time I did a search for this brand. It seems some days you put in the right search parameters and hit the jackpot and other days the wrong ones leave you with nothing. I now knew more about the brand than I ever imagined when I began the hunt. I am pretty sure that my pipe was made in the era between 1900-1910. It is roughly from the same time period as the C.P.F. pipes that were in that lot.The bowl had a thick cake that had flowed out of the bowl and on the rim top. The inner edge of the rim appeared to be damaged but I would know more once I had it in hand. The next series of photos show the bowl from a variety of angles to show the condition of the finish and the grain around the bowl sides and bottom. The pipe was stamped on the left side of the shank MANHATTAN and there was no other stamping on the pipe.The horn stem was in decent condition with tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There was also a small hole that was on the underside of the stem – it did not go all the way through the stem into the airway but it was present. The bone tenon was in good condition and the alignment of the stem to the shank was perfect.My brother Jeff has established his own process of thoroughly cleaning the pipes that he works on for me. This one was no exception, it was cleaned thoroughly. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and tidied it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol and cleaned the exterior of the threaded bone tenon with a cotton swab and alcohol. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime and grit on the bowl. He scrubbed the rim top with a tooth brush and the oil soap and was able to clean off the lava overflow. I took photos of the pipe to show the condition it was in when it arrived in Vancouver. The grain really was quite stunning. While the MANHATTAN stamp is legible on the left side of the shank it is quite faint. I took a close up photo of the bowl and rim top after my brother had clean it up. The rim top was in good condition, the bowl was clean but the inner edge of the bowl showed a lot of damage and looked like the same knife that had been used to ream the other pipes in this lot had done its work here as well.His clean up on the horn stem had revealed that the small hole I had noted on the photos above was indeed present and was a small separation between the fibres of the horn. Fortunately this is a simple repair but the repair always shows.Since the stem was clean, the repair was simple. I filled in the tooth dent on the top side of the stem near the button with clear super glue. I sprayed the repair with accelerator so that I could repair the split on the other side. I filled that split in with the same clear super glue, sprayed it with accelerator and took the following photos.I sanded the repaired areas with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the excess and blend it into the surface of the horn. I worked over the entire stem at the same time to smooth it out and remove some of the nicks and marks on the surface of the horn.Since I was already working on it, I decided to continue and polish the stem before moving on to 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 rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad to give more life to the horn. I gave it a final coat of oil after the last pad and set it aside to dry. The repair on the top of the stem disappeared into the horn while the larger split on the backside was smooth but more visible. I set the stem aside for its final polish on the buffing wheel once I finished the work on the bowl. I began by polishing the rim of the bowl with a 1500 grit micromesh pad. My purpose was to see if I could remove some of the darkening or if I would need to top the bowl. I was happy to see that the pad cleaned it up and no topping was necessary. I used a folded piece of 180 and 220 grit sandpaper to work over the inner edge of the rim and smooth out the rough spots. It did not take too much sanding to even things out and bring the bowl back into round. The next three photos show the process of the rim repair. I decided not to stain this pipe because the briar was so nice in its original form. I chose instead to polish the rim and bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad to remove the sanding dust. The briar really began to shine as each successive grit of sanding pad was used. With the bowl finished, I put the pipe back together and took it to the buffing wheel. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond, being careful not to damage the already faint stamping on the left side of the shank. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine and give depth to the finish. The completed pipe is shown in the photos below. I love the way the rich striations of the stem play against the red of the buffed and polished briar. This is a beautiful pipe. Thanks for walking with me through the process.

 

Restoring a Unique Alternative Wood C.P.F. Tulip


Blog by Steve Laug

This is yet another unique older C.P.F. pipe find from our Virtual Pipe Hunt in Montana. It is amazing the number of older C.P.F. and other brands we found in that antique shop. Even more amazing is the sheer number of shapes that I have never seen or worked on before. This one is a C.P.F. that is made in two parts – a bowl that is screwed onto a base. The wood is not briar. The bowl is olivewood and the base is cherry. The pipe has the C.P.F. in an oval stamp on the left side of the shank. It is also stamped on the band with the faux hallmarks from that era and the logo. The stem is made of horn. It is a graceful and elegant looking pipe and one that I look forward to working on. My brother took quite a few photos of the pipe before he cleaned it up to show the details of the carving and the wood. I have included them at the beginning of the blog. My guess is that this pipe also comes from the mid-1880s to the early 1890s like the other C.P.F. pipes in the lot.The pipe was in pretty rough shape. The bowl had a thick cake with lava overflowing the rim. The finish was very dirty though appeared to look good underneath the grime. The screw in bowl was stuck in place on the base and we were uncertain that it would even come off. It looked like it originally was a separate piece but the grime and grit had locked it in place. The grooves in the base were filled with grime and the silver band was tarnished. The gold C.P.F. logo on the shank was faint. The horn stem had the usual tooth chatter and marks but other than that was in decent condition. With a little work this would be a beautiful pipe.

If you would like to read a bit of history on the brand you can have a look at a blog I wrote concerning C.P.F. or the Colossus Pipe Company https://rebornpipes.com/2013/04/14/some-reflection-on-the-historical-background-on-cpf-pipes/.The next series of photos show the condition of the bowl before cleaning. It was very dirty and there appeared to be cracks in the backside of the bowl. I would not be certain until it was cleaned and I had it in hand. The next photos show some of the detail on the base of the pipe. It is an interesting piece of carving. I have never seen one like it in either the old C.P.F. catalogues or in my online research regarding the brand. The bottom of the base shows the grain on this portion. Notice how well the carver centered the grain pattern on the base. It is a beautiful piece of wood. I am guessing cherry but I am not certain. You can see from the unique vertical grain on the bowl portion of the pipe that it is not briar. My thoughts are that it is olivewood but I could be wrong. Note also the buildup of grime around where the bowl sits on the base.The C.P.F. oval logo can be seen on the left side of the shank and also on the silver band. You can see from the photo that the band appears to be loose. Later photos reveal that it was indeed loose and could be slipped on and off the pipe.The next two photos show the shank with the band sitting under it and the threaded bone tenon on the horn stem. It is really dirty looking in the shank and mortise.The stem was probably in the best condition of the entire pipe. The graceful curve of the horn was undamaged. The striations were not separating and the variation in colour was stunning. The overall condition was really good. There was some light tooth chatter and marks near the button on each side but otherwise it was clean. The button was not chewed and the orific airhole in the centre of the button looked good. Jeff cleaned up the pipe – reaming the bowl with a PipNet reamer and cleaning up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Reamer. He took the cake back to bare wood. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed the soap and grime off the pipe. He removed the band and scrubbed under that as well with the soap. He cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. He cleaned the horn stem with some oil soap as well. I took these pictures when the pipe arrived in Vancouver. It was in better shape than when we picked it up. Jeff had not been able to unscrew the bowl from the base as it was stuck with the goop that had covered the bowl and base. The rim top still had some darkening and spotty damage to the surface. Jeff and I were talking last evening on FaceTime and I decided that I would tackle the restoration on this old timer next. While we were chatting I held the base in one hand and wiggled the bowl with the other. After a few moments I was able to turn it from the base. What was underneath was absolutely gross. It looked like someone had packed the base with some kind of coarse material to act as a filter to trap any moisture that came from the combustion of the tobacco above. I also noticed that the bowl bottom had three airholes and one was entirely plugged and could not be seen from the inside of the bowl. The bowl had some dark staining and build up on the bottom of the bowl. I put the junk back in the bowl and set the pipe aside for the night.In the morning I took the pipe apart again to clean out the bowl base. I used a dental pick and a spatula to clear out the debris and hard build up in the base. I scraped out the threads on the bowl and the base to remove the debris. I scraped out the rounded base bottom to also remove the debris. I twisted the tip of a dental pick through the clogged third hole in the bottom of the bowl. I worked it from both the inside and the outside of the bowl until I had cleaned out the blockage. Once again the bowl had three holes that worked.I scrubbed the base and the bottom of the bowl with alcohol and cotton swabs. I scrubbed until it was absolutely clean. I scraped out the ledges on the inside of the base to remove the buildup that was there as well.I painted the shank end with Weldbond white glue so that I could put the band back in place. The band had a split on the right side that would need to be worked on as well. I put the band on the glue and held it in place until the glue had dried. I sanded the split in the band with 220 grit sandpaper and filled it in with clear super glue. There were also cracks in the bottom of the base just below the threads that matched the grooves carved on the outside of the shank. Once the glue dried I sanded the inside of the base smooth. With the repairs done to the base I turned to what had appeared to be cracks in the bowl sides and base. I sanded the stained and dirty base and the part of the bowl that had been seated in the base behind the leaves. I used clear super glue to fill in the small cracks on the bowl sides and bottom. They were very tight and did not move when I worked them with a dental pick. When the glue dried I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper until they were smooth and blended in well with the surface of the olivewood. I lightly topped the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board until all of the damaged areas were removed and the rim top was smooth once again. I polished the olivewood with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each of the micromesh sanding pads with a damp cotton pad to remove the sanding dust. The photos below show the progress of the polishing. I sanded the stem to remove the tooth chatter on the top and underside near the button. There was one deep tooth mark on the underside that I could not remove by sanding. I filled it in with clear super glue and let it dry. Once it had cured I sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the rest of the stem surface. It was smooth but a bit lighter in colour than the surrounding area. Thankfully it was on the underside.When the stem was turned on to the shank it was slightly underclocked and there was no give in the stem to get the alignment correct. I carefully heated the bone tenon without burning it to soften the glue that held it in place. While it was still warm I was able to screw it in and align the stem properly.Now that things were aligned it was time to polish the stem. I polished the 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 after each of the micromesh sanding pads with Obsidian Oil to remove the sanding dust and give it more life. The photos below show the progress of the polishing. I love polishing horn stems because as you work them over they seem to take on a life of their own with a deep and resilient sheen. I took the pipe apart and buffed the parts. I buffed the bowl and the bottom and sides with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond as well to polish out the tiny scratches that were left behind by the micromesh. I gave the parts multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed them with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed all of the parts with a microfiber cloth and put the pipe back together. I hand buffed it once again to finish the restoration. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a remarkable example of pipe making at the end of the 19th Century. The wood and the shape work well with the beautifully striated and gracefully bent horn stem. The silver band with the hallmarks and C.P.F. logo is a nice transition between the stem and the cherry wood base. Thanks for walking with me through this restoration.

A Ropp La Montagnarde Deposee 298 Horn-Cherrywood-Briar


Blog by Steve Laug

I have been cleaning up a lot of pretty standard pipes lately, whether metal, meerschaum or briar. It has been a while since I took on a unique looking piece that captured my interest. In the current box of pipes my brother sent there are some great one of a kind pipes that I have not seen before so I turned my attention to one of them. The first one that I decided to work on just called out my name. The combination of rustic cherrywood with the bark on, really nicely striated horn and beautifully grained briar just called out to see what I could do with a restoration. I have no idea of the age of the pipe but the horn stem with the orific button speaks of some age. The pipe is stamped on the left side La Montagnarde over Deposee and on the right side it is stamped with Ropp in an oval with the 298 shape number next to it. The brass band on the shank and the small wedding ring brass band on the cherrywood extension give the pipe a touch of class. The next two photos were the seller’s photos. The pipe looked to be in really good condition.Cherry1 Cherry2When the pipe arrived at my brother’s house it was not nearly as clean as it appeared. The finish was spotty and worn. It had been waxed or maybe shellacked to give it a shine. The stem screws into the cherrywood and then the wood end is pressure fit into the shank of the pipe. It was very loose and would not stay in place. My brother cleaned the internals and scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap. It took off the soiled finish and the remnants of the polish. When I got it the pipe was very clean. The brass bands were tarnished and the horn was dull.Cherry3 Cherry4I took some close up photos of the rim and the stamping to have a better look. The top of the rim had a burn mark on the inner edge of the right side. It did not go deep into the surface of the briar so a light topping would remove the damaged area.Cherry5The second close up shows the stamping on the shank. La Montagnarde Deposee is what it reads. La Montagnarde translates from French as “The Mountain” and Deposee translates as “Filed” or “Registered”.Cherry6I topped the bowl with 220 grit sand paper on a topping board. Once the bowl was topped I used a rolled piece of sand paper to sand out the bowl and smooth out the inner edge of the rim.Cherry7 Cherry8The internals were pretty clean. My brother had done a good job scrubbing out the mortise and shank. I used a few cotton swabs and pipe cleaners and alcohol to remove and of the dust left behind by my sanding.Cherry9I stained the bowl with dark brown aniline stain and flamed it. I repeated the process until the bowl was covered.Cherry10I wiped the bowl down with a cotton pad and alcohol to thin the stain and make the grain stand out better.Cherry11I buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond and gave it a light coat of olive oil. I rubbed down the cherrywood bark with oil as well to bring some life to it. In the photo below you can see the way in which the pipe is held together.Cherry12The cherrywood insert has a threaded wooden tenon on the outer side which the horn stem threads onto. The other end is a wooden stinger apparatus that fits into the shank of the pipe and holds the stem in place on the bowl.Cherry12aI polished the brass bands with a tarnish polish to bring back the shine.Cherry13I cleaned out the threads in the end of the stem with cotton swabs and alcohol.Cherry14I sanded the 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 set of three pads. What appears to be chips along the end of the stem are not actually chips but striations that run through the rest of the stem.Cherry15 Cherry16 Cherry17I sanded the bowl with 1500-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. As I sanded it the grain really began to pop and some of the scratches in the briar disappeared.Cherry18 Cherry19 Cherry20I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond. I avoided buffing the cherrywood insert as I did not want to risk peeling the bark. The finish began to take on a rich glow. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The first four photos show the pipe as a whole. The rest of the photos show the various pipe parts. Thanks for looking.Cherry21 Cherry22 Cherry23 Cherry24 Cherry25 Cherry26 Cherry27 Cherry28 Cherry29 Cherry30

Easy Cleanup of a M&T Bent Horn Bulldog


Aaron Henson – 7/23/16

I have not been very good at documenting my last few restorations. Once I get into a project I tend to get so focused I forget to take pictures, especially if it’s a repair that is technically challenging or that I have not done before. The most recent example of this was an unsmoked M&T bent bulldog with a horn stem.  Even though it had never been used (it still had the factory purple putty bowl coating) it had a few issues to be addressed from its 40+ years of tumbling around in a drawer.M1When I saw the pipe in the case at the antique store the first thing that caught my eye was the horn stem and I knew I wanted it. In all honesty, I wasn’t one hundred percent sure that it was horn until I got it home. A couple of passes with a 2400 micro mesh pad and a sniff test confirmed my suspicions – it’s the same smell as when you use an emery board on a finger nail. M2I started with a little research into the brand.  The only M&T that I could find was the German pipe maker Müllenbach & Thewald.  They made pipes from 1830 until the 1972.  The company still exists but is solely devoted to mineral mining.  You might think this strange but M&T was known originally for clay pipes. In 1860 they branched into making wood pipes.  A short article on M&T can be found on Pipedia.

I began the restoration by performing triage of the issues to be addressed. The bowl was clean but had a dull finish that was marred with some dents and minor scratches. The factory bowl coating was starting to chip and a there were three small fills on the outside of the bowl that needed to be repaired. A close inspection of the shank revealed a small crack where the aluminum tenon inserted (seen in the picture below). I had assumed the narrow band was original to the pipe but perhaps it had been added to reinforce the shank?  I may never know the answer to that.  All in all the bowl was very good condition.M3The stem too was in almost “like new” condition.   A few scratches but the button was well define and, of course, no tooth chatter. The aluminum tenon was a little rough around the edges but the fit to the shank was fine.

I started by applying a thin coat of mineral oil on the stem. This seemed to ‘hydrate’ the horn and give some bite to the micro mesh pads. I worked through the 1500 to 12000 pads stopping to apply oil as the horn dried out. The button was quite large and the edges sharp, a bit more than I like. But I kept it original and only slightly smoothed the corners while polishing. I smoothed up the edges of the tenon and set the stem aside.

The first order of business was the cracked shank. Using a 1/64 drill bit, I drilled a hole at the end of the crack to stop its spread then filled the crack with clear supper glue.  Then I picked out the three putty fills and using a super glue and briar dust mixture, refilled the pits. Once cured I sanded the repair smooth.M4I steamed the dents out of the briar with a clothes iron applied to a wet cloth wrapped around the stummel – keeping away from the stampings and fingers.  I sanded the entire stummel up to the 3200 micro mesh then wipe down with alcohol before I stained.  In this case I tried to match the original color with several coats of different browns aniline dyes.

Before reassembling I decide to remove the factory bowl coat and leave it bare briar. Then I wiped the whole outside of the pipe with mineral oil and set it aside for twelve hours before taking to the buffer.  The oil seems to hydrate the briar and brings out a nice shine when waxed.  I first buff with red diamond, wipe off the residue with a soft cotton cloth then apply three coats of carnauba wax giving the pipe a little rest between each coat.

The bent bulldog is one of my favorite shapes and I love the horn stem.  I’m not sure when I will get around to breaking it in.  It might just stay unsmoked for a while.M5 M6 M7 M8

My Process for Repairing and Polishing Horn Stems


Blog by Steve Laug

I recently worked on repairing a horn stem and thought I would document the process. I have found that when working with horn a conservative approach is the best. I do not change the profile of the stem or thin the button. I do not change the taper or thin the bit at all. I only want to bring it back to its original shine and gloss and make it look as close as possible to what it was like when the original owner purchased the pipe that carried it. I also want to make the surface smooth and unbroken again so that it does not soften with further use.

The horn stems I have worked on have all had tooth chatter and bite marks for up to an inch from the button. Unlike tooth chatter on vulcanite or Lucite the chatter on a horn tends to splinter or break through the soft surface of the material. It leaves a rough feeling behind and if not taken care of will splinter away from the marks. It will also soften as the shine and polished surface has been broken and it can become spongy. The trouble with a stem that has worn that far is it is very difficult to bring back. In the case of this stem the surface was broken and in the centre of each rough area there was a deep tooth mark – only one that was almost round in shape.Terminus12

Terminus13 My first step in the repair process and the eventual polishing is to sand the rough area smooth and clean up the area around the tooth marks. I sand with 220 grit sandpaper folded and minimally work over the area to its furthest reaches. In this case I worked the area into a rectangular shaped pattern. I feathered the rough surface into the surrounding stem. Then I wiped off the surface with tepid water on a soft cotton pad.

With the stem surface smoothed and the roughness removed and blended into the surface it was time to repair the two tooth marks – one on each side of the stem. Over the years I have used clear super glue to make these repairs in horn stems. I find that the translucency works well with the warmth of a polished stem and though the repair is visible it is smooth and seals the surface around the roughened tooth marks. The fact that it is sealed keeps the horn from further splintering and softening. The high ridge on the button allowed me to patch both sides simultaneously without the glue sticking to the worktable while it dried.Terminus14

Terminus15 When the super glue has hardened/cured I sand the patches with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the small bump that is made by the patch. I work the sandpaper to smooth out the patch with the surface of the stem. In this case I sanded both sides. In the photo below you can see the two rectangular spots on the stem surface. These are the spots where the patches were placed. The tooth marks are gone. All that remains is to do some more sanding to blend the rectangle into the stem.Terminus16

Terminus17 The next step involved sanding the stem with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge to further feather in the patch to the stem surface. I wanted the patch to be seamless with the horn so that when I ran my tongue or finger across the repair it would be unnoticeable to touch. Once I had finished with the sanding sponges the surface was smooth. The scratches left behind by the 220 grit sandpaper were gone. The rectangular patches were disappearing.Terminus18

Terminus19 The next step involved sanding the stem and polishing it with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads. In between each set of three pads I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. The oil was absorbed into the surface of the horn stem and lubricated the surface and provided a bite for the sanding pads. The repairs have ceased to be rectangles and now were small patches over the tooth marks in the stem. The surface was smooth even though the damage could be seen through the clear patch at this stage in the process.Terminus25

Terminus26 Each successive grit of micromesh smooth out the surface, deepened the shine and feathered the patch into the finish.Terminus27

Terminus28 The final set of three pads really brought a deep shine to the stem. The patch though visible is smaller than any of the previous pictures.Terminus29

Terminus30 When I had finished with the 12,000 grit pad I gave the stem a light buff with White Diamond on the buffing wheel and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. Buffing a horn stem takes a light touch. You do not want to press the stem into the wheel too hard as the heat generated will cause the horn to separate. (I speak this from experience after having done it and having to start over with my sanding process.) The finished stem is shown below. It is smooth and the variations in colour of the stem make it really look living. The colours and stripes almost undulated as it is turned over under a bright light or outside in the sunshine (uncommon in Vancouver in January).Stem1

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Stem4 I really enjoy working on horn stems and also smoking them. They have a feeling in the mouth that no other stem material even approximates. They are not for a clencher or a biter that is for certain. They need to be cared for – wiped down after each smoke and given new coats of wax regularly. But this one and others in my collection have survived far more years and in better shape that I have. I am always on the lookout for another horn stem to work on. If you have not restored one or smoked one – you really need to give it a try.

An Interesting Challenge – Restoring a Horn Stemmed Austrian Silver Capped Briar Sitter


Blog by Steve Laug

This is the second pipe that was given to me by Chuck Richards. It was a real challenge and it was actually an enjoyable restoration project. This particular pipe is stamped Algerian Briar over Austria on the left side of the shank and on the right side of the bowl below the cap it is stamped EL in an oval. It is actually a nice piece of briar. It is capped by a silver rim cap that goes down the bowl a 1/2 inch. It is rounded over the edges of the rim and flattens in towards the inner rim leaving a briar edge of 1/8 inch. It is topped by a silver wind cap that is hinged a little off centre toward the right side from the back of the bowl. The front of the cap has a folded ornate flap stamped with curls and swirls on the surface. This flap acts as a catch for the lid on the outer lip of the bowl. The cap has a small ball-shaped handle on the top that is for decoration. The cap also has two half circle opening for air. The bowl was heavily caked with a crumbly and soft cake. The stem was horn and was nicely carved. It had also been repaired at least once in its life. At the junction of the smaller part of the stem to the saddle there had been a repair done. It looked at first as if it was copper wire that was used to band the horn which seemed to have splintered and been repaired. Upon closer examination I am almost certain it is a small copper band that was set into the horn stem to secure the break. It is solid. The upper portion of the stem had also splintered and not been repaired. The round end of the button had been worn down on the top and bottom edges to where it was almost squared off. The splinter on the bottom of the stem was loose. The horn was also covered with a shiny lacquer like substance that hid the beauty of the horn. I wonder if it was part of the original repair. The next series of three photos show the pipe as it appeared when I took it out of the shipping box and bubble wrap. I was really interested in seeing what I could do with this one – a worthy challenge that would be enjoyable to work on.
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I took it to my work table and removed the stem. I examined the shank and the bowl as well as the stem. I have noted above what I saw in my examination. The interior of the shank was in good shape, there was little wear on the inside from the insertion of the horn stem. The drilling was similar to a Peterson in that it had a sump area with the airway drilled above that. It allowed for condensation of the tobacco juices to settle into that well. It was full and dark and the stain of the juices had migrated up the stem and stained the bottom edge. You can also see the repairs that had been made to the stem in the three photos below. The bowl cap was tarnished and the brass shank cap was also tarnished. The stamping is also clearly visible in the photos. At this point I sat and examined the stem to make a decision whether to seek and revive it or to replace it with a newer Peterson style fish tail stem. After some time examining it I decided to see what I could do with the existing stem and left the other stem idea in reserve should I need to do that.
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The first of the next two photos shows the bottom of the bowl and give a clear idea of the nice piece of briar that I was dealing with. The second photo shows the inside of the bowl and the wind cap. The cake and build up of lava like tar on the lid is prominent.
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I decided to begin with cleaning the bowl. I used a PipNet reamer set with different sized cutting blades. I used the first two heads on this bowl. The first one, the smallest opened up the cake and cut off the broken edges. I followed that up with the second cutting head and took the cake back to the briar so that I could give it a thorough cleaning. The next four photos show the reaming process. I also cleaned out the sump and the airway in the shank with folded pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and Everclear. Once that was done I also scraped out the inside of the cap with the head of the cutting blades on the PipNet set.
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I took a break from the work on the cap and bowl to work on the stem. I cleaned of the surface with a damp cloth and then used superglue to fill the openings in the surface of the stem left from the previous repaired splits. I also used it to repair the splintered part on the bottom of the stem. Once the glue was dry I used 240 grit sandpaper to sand off the excess glue and also the clear coat of varnish or lacquer on the stem. I tried to put a pipe cleaner through the stem and was not successful. I blew through it and found that it was open but that the draw was tight. I would work on that later. The main purpose at the moment was to see what was underneath the clear coat. The next photos show the grain pattern on the horn stem underneath the clear coat. That gave me hope to see if I could restore that unique pattern in the horn stem and bring it back to life. The entire stem from tip to the bottom of the tenon was all horn so it would have a unique look if I was able to restore it. Several of the photos below are out of focus, I apologize for that, however they help to see the pattern and colours of the horn stem. You can also see the repairs on the side of the stem toward the button and the copper band around the lower part of the stem.
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I worked on the inside of the cap and the rim with 0000 steel wool to remove the build up and tars. I worked on that until the surface of the inside shined and the rim was clean. I then polished the silver with a silver cloth to bring back some of the shine to the bling. The next three photos show that process. (You might have the impression from the photos that I bounced back and forth between the stem and the bowl in this refurbishing. While it appears that way in the photos it actually happened over the period of several days and hours. Each time I set the pipe aside to go and do something else I would come back and pick up at whatever point struck my fancy at the moment.)
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The next time I came back to work on the pipe I decided to open up the stem and improve the draw. I was able to ascertain that the tenon end of the stem was much more constricted than the button end. I could easily fit a pipe cleaner in the button and down about half way but was unable to do the same from the tenon end. Even the thinnest pipe cleaner would not go through from the tenon end. I measured the length of the tenon portion of the stem and then used a small drill bit to drill the depth of the larger portion of the tenon. I did this with a cordless drill and proceeded slowly. I was careful to keep the drill bit at the same angle as the airway as I did not want to make the problem worse by slanting the airway or overdrilling the stem. The next two photos show the drilling. The third photo below shows the newly opened end of the stem. The draw was now quite open and the airway clear for a pipe cleaner to easily pass all the way through the stem.
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I redefined the button area using needle files. The top edge and the bottom edge next to the button were not sharp and distinct. As the top and the bottom of the button had been flattened, it was almost parallel with the stem. I used the needle files to sharpen the edge and to round the button surface as well. The next two photos show the process and picture the results. Note also that the stem is shaping up nicely with the various sandpaper and the colours and definition of the horn are coming out beautifully.
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The next series of four photos shows the progress of sanding the stem with 240, 320 grit sandpaper and a fine grit sanding sponge. The thick, shiny coat that hid the horn is pretty well gone at this point. The sanding has also smoothed out the shape of the stem and removed the overfills of the previous repair. The stem is beginning to take shape and the grain of the horn is visible. I think that the repair will work well and when I am done I will have a stem that will work quite well.
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I continued to sand the stem with micromesh sanding pads from 1500-12,000 grit. I wet sanded with the 1500, 1800 and the 2400 grit pads. My goal was to remove the scratches in the horn and begin to bring out the natural shine of the material. The next series of four photos show the effects after sanding with the 1500 grit pads. The next four that follow show the finished stem after sanding with all of the micromesh pads. Once it was finished I coated it with Obsidian Oil to add some life to the horn stem. I have found that it soaks into the horn material and builds some luster over time. You can now see the variations in colour, almost striations in the horn stem. This pearlescence is what I love about the old horn stems and what made me want to try to redeem this old-timer.
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I took the stem to my buffer and carefully buffed it with White Diamond. I was careful to have a light touch on the wheel as I did not want to damage the horn. The material is sensitive to pressure on the wheel so care must be exercised when buffing it. I gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax and hand buffed with a shoe brush and a soft cotton cloth. The next four photos show the rejuvenated stem ready to be put back on the pipe.
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I reinserted the stem in the pipe, polished the entirety with another coat of carnauba and buffed it by hand to give it a shine. The next five photos show the finished pipe. This old-timer is ready to be loaded with a bowl of aged tobacco, fitting to the age of the pipe and given its reintroduction to its original purpose. This restoration was a pleasure to do and one that gave me a sense of accomplishment in bringing back the old horn stem. The variations in colour and the striations in the horn really give life to this old pipe. The copper repair in the stem actually adds a flair of uniqueness and mystery to the pipe – it makes me wonder who did it and where it was done. Thanks for the challenge Chuck.
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Restoring Horn Stems


Blog by Steve Laug

I have had the pleasure of working on over a half dozen horn stems on some old pipes I have purchased and been given. Each of them presented a different challenge in terms of restoration. Several had the normal tooth dents and chatter that come as a normal part of the stems of many old pipes while other stems had been gnawed to the point of changing the profile of the stem forever. Horn is significantly different to work with than vulcanite or Lucite stems. In many ways it is softer and more pliant than either of the other materials. When it is in good order the sheen is almost translucent and there is deep almost internal warmth to them. In this article I want to talk about the process of reworking horn stems and restoring them to their former glory.

The first issue with horn stems I had to learn to work on was the tooth dents and tooth chatter that often covers the last half inch or more of the stem just ahead of the button. When I first attacked this I did it with a bit of fear and trepidation as I had all kinds of concerns about the laminate of the horn separating or delaminating. However, through the help of several of the folks on Smokers Forums, an online pipe smoking community, many of my concerns were alleviated. Here are some pictures of this first issue with horn stems. I took pictures of the top/side profile and the bottom/side profile of this particular stem as it highlights the issue.

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Looking closely at the stems above you will see the tooth marks along the button area of the stem. This area was rough to the touch and was dry and almost flakey feeling. I was concerned that the horn had softened from the breakdown of the outer coating and wondered if it could be brought back. They were shallow though so I went to work on them with multiple grits of sandpaper to smooth out the surface. I used 240 grit to smooth out the roughness and then worked my way through 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper. The trick with the latter two was to wet them as I sanded the stem. Each progressively higher grit smoothed out the roughness until it was smooth to touch. The wetness of the sandpaper made the grit really bite into the surface of the horn. I then used micro-mesh pads beginning with 1500 grit followed by 1800, 2400, 3200, 4000 and 6000. By the time I got to the 3200 the scratches in the surface were virtually gone – even under a bright light. Again the trick is to work with a bowl of water near at hand to wet the pads as you sand the stem. When I finished with the 4000 and 6000 there was a good sheen to the stems.

At that point in the process I took them to my buffer to finish the work. I used White Diamond polishing compound on the buffing wheel to give it a deep gloss finish. Then I gave a polish with carnauba wax and buffed to a glassy finish.

Here are some pictures of the finished stem minus the tooth chatter. The original issue had been addressed and the stem returned to its former beauty.

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One quick note that I should mention is that horn will stink as you work it. Its smell has been likened to the smell of a tooth getting drilled by the dentist or burning hair. I found though, that as I worked with it I got used to it.

The second issue with horn stems that I had to learn to deal with was more serious. It involved deep tooth dents and a chewed stem. The stem pictured below was a real mess. The previous owner obviously gnawed it and clenched it so the horn was dented and chewed with the profile changed. The question for me was whether I would be able to raise the tooth dents and smooth the surface while reworking the profile of the old stem to make it look as much as possible like it did when it came out of production. Here are three pictures to give you a look at the stem in its state of disarray.

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Looking closely at the stem pictured above you will see the depth of the tooth dents in the second and third picture and the serious loss of shape in the stem profile in the first picture. The profile shows the pinched look of the stem in front of the button and how thin the stem had been squeezed by chewing. My concern was whether there would be enough meat on the stem at that point to restore it without breaking through into the airway. The second and third pictures show the stem from the top and the bottom. In those two pictures you can see how deep the dents are in the surface of the stem. Also notice the virtual loss of the lip on the edge of the button. The stem appeared to be a loss.

From Chris Askwith, a talented young British pipe maker I learned a few tricks that I was anxious to try out on the stem (http://www.askwithpipes.com/). I had used the same tricks to lift dents out of the rims and sides of briar bowls so I was looking forward to seeing the process work as described by Chris. I steamed the dents and lifted the major depth of them by using a damp cloth laid on the surface of the dents and then heating a butter knife on the gas stove and applying the hot blade to the wet surface of the cloth on the stem. The gentle hiss and the presence of steam assured me that the steaming was working. You have to be careful as you work this process, checking repeatedly as you apply the knife and steam to make sure not to scorch or split the horn. Most of the deeper dents rose significantly and the more shallow ones came out completely.

I sanded the stem and cleaned up the chewed part starting with 240 grit sandpaper as I did with the stem above. I gradually worked my way through 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper clean up and even out the surface. I worked on the profile and cleaned up the sharp edges of the button with a set of needle files to restore the right angles of the button and stem surface. There were still a few remaining spots on the stem where the tooth dents had cut the surface of the horn and would not lift with the steam. I addressed these by filling them with a few drops of clear super glue. The glue dried quickly and left a small bump in place of the dent. I sanded these with the sandpaper combo mentioned above until the surface was even and smooth. Once I had a clean and smooth surface to work with I then moved on to Micro-mesh pads beginning with 1500 grit followed by 1800, 2400, 3200, 4000 and 6000. By the time I got to the 3200 the scratches in the surface were virtually gone – even under a bright light. Again the trick was to work with a bowl of water near at hand to wet the pads as you sand the stem. When I finished with the 4000 and 6000 there was a good sheen to the stems. They were beginning to shine like glass.

I took the stem to my buffer and used White Diamond polishing compound to  buff the surface smooth and shiny. It was truly glassy in terms of look and feel. I finished the stem by applying a good coat of carnauba wax and buffing to polish the wax.

Here are some pictures of the finished stem minus the tooth dents and with a restored profile. Notice the restored profile of the stem in the first and second picture below. Notice the functional button and lip that has been restored. The third and the fourth picture show the top and bottom of the stem and show the way the super glue patch and the work with the steam and sandpaper restored the deep pits in the surface of the stem.

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Because of the success I experienced with these two different issues with horn stems I have gone on to bid on others that need work. I have found those that only needed a buff and polish to restore them to their pristine condition and I have found others with similar problems to those shown above. The challenge of restoring them to the original beauty always is a draw to me. To smoke one of these old horn stem pipes is an experience that all pipemen should have. The work to restore them is worth the effort when you put the newly restored stem in your mouth for the first time. There is nothing quite like the feel of a “new” horn stem on your lips as you puff a favourite tobacco. And that is to say nothing of the good aged briar that is on the other end of the stem. Give restoring a horn stem a try. It is a pleasure! Won’t you join me for a bowl full in one of these old timers?

Steve Laug

June 8, 2012