Tag Archives: polishing meerschaum pipes with micromesh

Changing things up a bit and restoring a Block Meerschaum from Bob Kerr’s Estate

Blog by Steve Laug

I am continuing to work on the pipes in Bob Kerr’s estate for a while. I am getting closer to finishing restoring this large estate with only about 27 more pipes to do. This is one of three meerschaum pipes that I am working on. I decided to work on it as a change of pace. I am cleaning them for the family and moving them out into the hands of pipemen and women who will carry on the trust that began with Bob and in some pipes was carried on by Bob. In the collection there were 19 Peterson’s pipes along with a bevy of Dunhills, some Comoy’s and Barlings as well as a lot of other pipes – a total of 125 pipes along with a box of parts. This is the largest estate that I have had the opportunity to work on. I put together a spread sheet of the pipes and stampings to create an invoice. I was taking on what would take me a fair amount of time to clean up. I could not pass up the opportunity to work on these pipes though. They were just too tempting. This is a mottled and flumed bent billiard Block Meerschaum and was another fun one to work on. It is a classic shaped pipe with a medium sized bent billiard shape. It will go on the rebornpipes store.

This Block Meerschaum 8 Bent Billiard has a smooth finish with some colour around the top half of the bowl and a flumed top with black! The pipe is stamped on the underside of the shank and reads 8 Genuine Block Meerschaum. The grime and dirt ground into the meerschaum bowl. It had rich finish that was fading from plain meer to darkening toward the rim top. There was a thick cake in the bowl with remnants of tobacco stuck on the walls. There was a thick lava overflow sitting on the total rim top. The inner edge of the rim is dirty and may have some damage under the grime. It was interesting looking meerschaum that was dirty and tired looking. The stem was oxidized and calcified toward the end. It had the characteristic tooth marks that I have come to expect from Bob’s pipes. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work on it.  He took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the edges of the bowl. It was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim top and edges from damage. It was hard to know for sure from the photos. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish. You can see the beautiful grain under the grime and grit ground into the finish. He took photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank. The stamping was readable as you can see from the photos and read as noted above.Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth chatter, scratching and oxidation on the stem surface and wear on the edges of the button.The stamping on this pipe was not enough information to go on in terms of trying to find a pipe maker. With over 125 pipes to clean from Bob’s estate I took a batch of them to the states with me when I visited and left them with Jeff so he could help me out. Jeff cleaned the pipes with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. Once he finished he shipped them back to me. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the meerschaum and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff scrubbed it with Soft Scrub and soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked a lot better. The stem still had a lot of deep oxidation. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show what cleaned bowl and rim top looked like. There was some serious damage to the inner edge of the rim top. It was chipped and nicked on the left side and the right. It was a bit of a mess. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the light tooth marks and the remaining oxidation on the stem surface.  I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank and it is clear and readable. It is stamped as noted above.   I took the stem off the shank and took some photos to give a clear picture of the pipe from the left side profile. The metal tenon is set permanently in the shank of the meerschaum. The stem was drilled to sit over the top of the tenon.Since this is another pipe Bob’s estate I am sure that some of you have read at least some of the other restoration work that has been done on the previous pipes. You have also read what I have included about Bob Kerr, the pipeman who held these pipes in trust before I came to work on them (see photo to the left). Also, if you have followed the blog for long you will already know that I like to include background information on the pipeman whose pipes I am restoring. For me, when I am working on an estate I really like to have a sense of the person who held the pipes in trust before I worked on them. It gives me another dimension of the restoration work. I asked Brian if he or his wife would like to write a brief biographical tribute to her father, Bob. His daughter worked on it and I received the following short write up on him and some pictures to go along with the words including one of Bob’s carvings. Once again I thank you Brian and tell your wife thank you as well.

I am delighted to pass on these beloved pipes of my father’s. I hope each user gets many hours of contemplative pleasure as he did. I remember the aroma of tobacco in the rec room, as he put up his feet on his lazy boy. He’d be first at the paper then, no one could touch it before him. Maybe there would be a movie on with an actor smoking a pipe. He would have very definite opinions on whether the performer was a ‘real’ smoker or not, a distinction which I could never see but it would be very clear to him. He worked by day as a sales manager of a paper products company, a job he hated. What he longed for was the life of an artist, so on the weekends and sometimes mid-week evenings he would journey to his workshop and come out with wood sculptures, all of which he declared as crap but every one of them treasured by my sister and myself. Enjoy the pipes, and maybe a little of his creative spirit will enter you!

Now on to my part of the restoration of this Genuine Block Meerschaum 8 Bent Billiard. I decided to start by dealing with the damage to the inner edge of the rim. It was in very rough condition as can be seen in the first photo below. I started the cleanup process by using a piece of dowel wrapped with 220 sandpaper to smooth out and round out the bowl edge.I used a spot of clear super glue to fill in the slight divot on the edge and rim top and blended it in with the sandpaper. Once that was finished I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper give a light bevel to the inner edge to minimize the damage.The next two photos show the rim top after my work on it. While it is far from perfect it is much better than when I started working on it.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the briar down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. With the bowl polished it was time to rewax it. I have been using a product called Clapham’s Beeswax Polish – a white beeswax paste wax. I apply it to the meerschaum and then heat the meerschaum with a flame to open the pores in the meer. I let is cool then buff it with a cotton cloth. The photos below show the pipe after the buffing. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the tooth marks on the vulcanite with the flame of a Bic lighter and was able to lift the tooth marks to the surface. They were now small enough that sanding them would remove them.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the oxidation remaining on the stem and the remaining tooth marks on the surface.The stem was in great condition with light tooth marks and oxidation. I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. This Genuine Block Meerschaum 8 Bent Billiard turned out to be a great looking pipe. The flumed top and the developing patina in the meer makes this a pretty pipe. The polished finish on the pipe works well with the polished vulcanite taper stem. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Block Meerschaum Bent Billiard fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in carrying on Bob’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. I have more to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

I Really Love the form and shape of Older C.P.F. Meerschaum Pipes

Blog by Steve Laug

Not too long ago Jeff was contacted by a fellow who we have bought pipes from in the past. He has always been a good source of pipes for us and sold us some great pipes including a few C.P.F. pipes. He wrote to say that he had a few more pipes to sell and wondered if we were interested. He said that one of them was a small cased meerschaum pipe with a Redmanol stem. The pipe had been smoked and was worn but in otherwise good condition. The case had a stamp in the cover that read Warranted Genuine Meerschaum in and oval with a star. The shank had a silver band with the C.P.F. in an oval logo over Sterling. Jeff had him send us some photos of the pipe so we could have a look at it before making an offer. I have included a collage of those photos to give a general idea of what the pipe looked like and what attracted us to it. We made a deal – need you have doubted when you saw the C.P.F. oval logo on the Sterling shank band. We had the pipes shipped to Jeff in Idaho. When it arrived Jeff unpacked the pipe and did a quick examination of the pipe before he cleaned it up. He took photos of the case and the pipe. The logo on the inside of the case shows that it is a Meerschaum and warranted as such. The Star on the case is similar to others we have seen on C.P.F. pipes. The photos of the pipe in the case show the general external condition of the bowl. Jeff took the pipe out of the case and took a photo of the exterior of the pipe from above. It shows the cake in the bowl and the wear on the rim top as well as the slight darkening on the rim.Jeff took a close up photo of the rim top and bowl to show the cake and the darkening in the meerschaum. He also took a photo of the underside of the bowl and though it is a bit out of focus it is nonetheless clear enough to show the general condition of the pipe. He took a photo of the stamping on the band showing the C.P.F. oval logo over the Sterling stamp. You can also see the chipping on the Redmanol stem next to the shank band. The alignment of the stem to the shank is perfect so that we can assume that the tenon is in very good condition.The next photos show the condition of the Redmanol stem. There is tooth chatter on both sides near the button and some chipping in the surface of the button.This afternoon I was going through one of the bags of pipes I brought back from Idaho with me on my last trip. It was the same group of pipes that had contained the unsmoked and smoked C.P.F. pipes. In the bag I found a small brown leather covered case. I had forgotten what was in it so I took it to my desk and opened it up. Inside the case was the small C.P.F. pipe that I had seen when I was visiting with Jeff. It was time for me to work on it.I took the pipe out of the case and examined it. Jeff had done his usual thorough work in cleaning up this pipe. He had reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to scrape out the cake. He scrubbed the exterior and interior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime filth on the meerschaum. He cleaned the internals with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners until the inside was clean. The pipe looked very good and other than a little rim colouring was in excellent condition. The stem was in good shape other than the chips along the shank band and the tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem that would need to be dealt with in the restoration. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration work. I took a close up photo of the meerschaum rim top and bowl to show the condition of the meer bowl after Jeff had cleaned it. The finish looked really good and there was only a very little colouration on the rim top. The silver band looked really good and the C.P.F. Logo and the Sterling stamp were very readable. The photos of the Redmanol/Bakelite stem show its general condition. It was very clean but had some chipping on stem at the junction of the band and the stem. There were tooth marks on both sides on button edges. The bone tenon was in very good condition and just a little darkening.The next photo shows the stamping on the left side of the band. It is clear and readable. The stamping reads as noted above. The band is stamped with the C.P.F. in an oval logo over STERLING.I have included the following information with each of the blogs on C.P.F. pipes because I always want to keep the historical context in mind as I work on these. The link to the blog follows (https://rebornpipes.com/2013/04/14/some-reflection-on-the-historical-background-on-cpf-pipes/). I quote a pertinent part of the blog below:

From my reading and research it seems to me that C.P.F. brand was discontinued sometime in the 1910-1920 range. Again, turning to Bill Feuerbach I found that he notes the following, which pins down the time frame of the discontinuation of the brand more specifically, “I have a C.P.F. Chesterfield in our office display that has a nametag from way before my time that says 1900 C.P.F. Chesterfield. It looks like most other Chesterfields you’ve seen, including the military type push stem, except this stem is horn and not vulcanite. As far as I have gathered the C.P.F. brand was phased out sometime around 1915.” Interestingly, he noted that the Chesterfield name and style was later introduced in the KB&B, Kaywoodie and Yello-Bole lines. He says that the 1924 KB&B catalog shows KB&B Chesterfields…

… From my research I believe that we can definitively assert that the C.P.F. logo stands for Colossus Pipe Factory. The brand was purchased by KB&B sometime between 1884 and 1898 and that it continued until 1915. That time frame gives help in dating some of the older C.P.F. pipes you or I might find. It can be said that prior to the dual stamping it is fairly certain that the pipe is pre-1884 to 1898. After the dual stamping it can be placed post 1898 until the closure of the brand line in 1915. C.P.F. made beautiful pipes.

From that information I can tentatively date the pipe to the period prior to 1884-1898 when KB&B bought the brand because of the single C.P.F. stamp on the band. At any rate it is another old meerschaum pipe that is lightly smoked. The story of its journey to Jeff and me this long after the date it was made is another mystery. This is another of those pipes that makes me wish that it could share its story with us. I can only imagine the journey it has had even minimally from the bits that I do know. It traveled from the Colossal Pipe Factory in New York City to Florida and then on to Idaho Falls in journey that began in the 1880s and ended in 2019. Now it is has further traveled by air to Vancouver, Canada, as far west as it can go and remain on the same continent… what a well-traveled pipe. Armed with that information it was not time to work on the pipe.

I decided to begin with the stem damage at the junction of the band and stem. There was chipping in the Redmanol/Bakelite at that point that needed attention. The first photo below shows the chipping. I built up the edge with clear super glue. At the same time I filled in the tooth marks on the button with super glue. I set the stem aside to let the glue cure. I polished the meerschaum bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the bowl down after each pad. The bowl began to take on a real shine after each set of pads. I set the bowl aside and went to work on the stem. The repairs had cured so I sanded them with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface of the repairs and blend them into the stem material – Bakelite or Redmanol. I polished it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to smooth out the scratches and begin the polishing process.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 it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil after the final sanding pad and set it aside to dry. By now if you have read rebornpipes for very long you will have figured out that I love these old C.P.F. pipes. There is some serious thought that they were carved by European trained craftsman who were skilled pipemakers. These pipemakers were brought to the US by the Colossal Pipe Factory to make pipes. Many of the shapes, bands and stems have such high quality workmanship involved that I really think there is truth to this story. This is little bent Meerschaum with a Redmanol/Bakelite stem is a real beauty.

I screwed the bowl back on the base and carefully polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel carefully avoiding the stamping on the shank. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand rubbed the bowl with some beeswax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The pipe really alive with the buffing. The rich contrasting white of the meerschaum on the bowl works well with the polished red of the stem. The finished pipe has a rich look that is quite catching. Have a look at it with the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 3 3/4 inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 5/8 of an inch. This is another one that I will be adding to my collection. It fits in the C.P.F. niche group that I have been building. The shape and feel in the hand is perfect. Since this one is already well smoked it will be an easy pipe to load and fire up. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I restored and reworked this old bent meerschaum from 1884-1898. It is always a treat for me to work on a piece of pipe history especially when I have learned a bit of the story behind it.

Cleaning a Turkish SMS Meerschaum Churchwarden

Blog by Steve Laug

This long stemmed Meerschaum Churchwarden is another one of my brother’s finds at the estate sale in the Boise, Idaho area. He found the case sitting on the table of pipes and pipe racks and has been hunting long enough that I think he must have expected it to be empty when he picked it up to have a look.chu1Those of you who have gone pipe hunting enough know the rush that goes with opening an old leather covered pipe case like this and finding the Churchwarden that the case was made for still resident inside. There are a lot of empty pipe cases selling on eBay daily that give witness to the fact that the case and the pipe that should be inside often have parted company. In this case though when he opened the case I think he was surprised. I certainly was when he sent me a text with the photo. Inside was a smooth block meerschaum pipe with a long stem that was in relatively decent shape. The stem was intact and there were no large nicks or bumps on the bowl sides or shank. The stem aligned correctly with the shank and the whole thing appeared to be functional. These are the kinds of finds right up there with finding that illusive $10 Dunhill that keep me always looking inside cans, boxes and even pipe cases to see if something has been overlooked. You never know what kind of treasure might be hidden awaiting your discovery.

The next photos show what the pipe looked like when he found it and before he cleaned it up a bit to send my way. It is an elegant looking pipe in the photos and even more so in hand.chu2The leather (probably a leather like vinyl) covered case was in great shape. The exterior was not even worn. The polished brass hinges and clasps looked good with the shiny leather. The front of the case had two clasps and next to the left one is the tag reading Made in Turkey. On the back side there are two hinges that are hidden beneath the leather. Four small brass brads hold each hinge in place. The hinges are not sprung or damaged in any way.chu3My brother took a few photos of the pipe in the case to give an idea of what he saw when he opened the lid. The inside was lined with a rich golden coloured soft fabric that protected the meerschaum and held the pipe firmly in place. In the inside top cover there was the SMS logo that reads Handcarved Block Meerschaum Turkey around the stylised SMS. On the left side of the stem is the same logo inset in clear acrylic in the vulcanite.chu4 chu5He removed the pipe from the case and you can see the beauty and simplicity of the shape. The shank and the rim edge are starting show some colour with a faint brown hue.chu6He took some close up photos to show the condition of the rim. The bowl had a cake developing in it that went about half way down the bowl sides. The tars had darkened the rim on the back side and the outer edges of the rim had a few nicks and scratches. It would be interesting to see how much of this was surface damage once I had the pipe in hand in Vancouver.chu7He took photos of the underside of the bowl and the sides as well to show some of the spotty dirt and debris that were there. It was hard to tell from the photos if these were merely on the surface or had penetrated the surface and left scratches on the bowl sides and bottom. I would see once I had it in hand.chu8 chu9The stem appeared to be in pretty decent shape but the first inch on both sides of the stem at the button had some tooth marks, chatter and calcification. It appeared that the previous owner had smoked the pipe with a Softee Bit to protect the stem from his bite but even that had not kept all the tooth marks off the stem. Perhaps he or she had smoked it, seen the damage and put the rubber Softee on to protect it from further damage.chu10My brother did a great clean up on the stem and shank internals and cleaned out the cake in the bowl with his Savinelli Fitsall Knife. He had removed some of the tars and oils on the top of the bowl and scrubbed the exterior with a soft cloth and Murphy’s Oil Soap. When it arrived in Vancouver it looked far better than it had in the earlier photos. I took the next five photos to record my first look at the pipe as I opened the case and removed it from its nest.chu11 chu12 chu13I took some close up photos of the bowl, rim and stem to show what it looked like after my brother’s work on it. He had been able to get a lot of the tars and oils off the rim top and had cleaned the sides of the bowl. The second photo shows the SMS logo in acrylic on the left side. The stem showed some oxidation spots and a spot where obviously a label had been glued. He had been able to get the calcification off the stem at the button and also had managed to lift out some of the tooth chatter. The top edge of the button on both sides showed some wear.chu14 chu15I started cleaning the exterior of bowl and stem with a green nylon scrubber. It is a great tool that I learned the use of through Troy (one of the contributors to the blog). I scrubbed the exterior of the stem and was able to remove much of the oxidation. I also used it to scrub the rim. I wet the scrubber with tap water to help with the scrubbing and it did a great job on the rim and stem.chu16I continued to scrub the rim with the pad and then shifted to polishing the bowl and rim with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded the entirety of the pipe with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. The finished bowl and rim are shown in the next four photos. I was able to remove the tars and the scratches from the bowl and rim and leave behind a polished bowl that still maintained the patina that had begun to develop.chu17 chu18I ran a pipe cleaner with alcohol through the stem and the shank of the pipe and as usual my brother had done a thorough job removing the oils and tars from those places.chu19I sanded the tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem at the button with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damaged areas. I was fortunate that none of the tooth marks were deep enough to warrant repairs. I removed all of them by sanding the stem.chu20I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads. After the final rub down I set the stem aside to dry.chu21 chu22 chu23I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and gave the stem several coats of carnauba wax. I gave the bowl a few coats of Clapham’s Beeswax Polish (a white beeswax polish) and buffed bowl and stem with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfibre cloth to put the final touches on it. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It really is a nicely made meerschaum and the fact that it is a Churchwarden is bonus. The weight of the pipe and the feel of it in the hand will make this pipe a winner. Thanks for looking.chu24 chu25 chu26 chu27 chu28 chu29 chu30 chu31 chu32