Tag Archives: polishing stems

A Gift for My Good Friend in India – An Italian Savinelli Punto Oro 413KS Woodstock


Blog by Dal Stanton

As I begin this restoration, my mind is replaying the plethora of experiences that were shaped and riveted into my memory of my visit last year to India.  Not many ‘good’ experiences in life can be described as ‘life changing’.  These kinds of changes are usually reserved for the difficult times – like now, as the world is navigating a pandemic that creates confusion and uncertainty about life and the future.  Yet, Paresh’s invitation to me, along with the rebornpipes’ trust, Steve and Jeff Laug, to visit his home and family was an experience that was life changing for me.  It wasn’t just the sights and sounds of a different cultural context or the different foods the pallet experienced tasting Indian cuisine.  What was so profoundly and wonderfully life changing was the depth of loving hospitality Paresh and his wife, Abha, provided to us during the visit.  Meeting and enjoying his family, along with their two daughters, Mudra and Pavni, was truly an experience that will walk with me in the life I continue to enjoy by God’s grace.  Of course, I cannot fail to mention the ‘reason’ for our travels where West met East!  Paresh asked that we collaborate in the restoration of one of his heirloom pipes, an unbelievably fun and enriching experience that produced this story, perhaps my favorite:  West Meets East in India to Restore a Grandson’s Treasure – an 1846 BBBHow does an Italian Savinelli Punto Oro heading to India enter this story?  It has to do with an Italian American L. J. Peretti pipe that I noticed in India – basking nonchalantly among the historic pipes of Paresh’s unbelievable heirloom collection he received from his grandfather.  The Peretti that got my attention was not from his grandfather’s collection, but a pipe that Paresh had acquired himself.  Since doing my first restoration of a L. J. Peretti, I have become somewhat of a collector of these blue collar ‘shop pipes’ from the second oldest tobacconist shop located in downtown Boston.  I had never seen a Peretti Cutty shape before and hence, the Savinelli Punto Oro makes his debut on the stage.One of the great things about ‘Pipedom’s’ smaller subset, pipe restorers, is that it is special and an honor to have pipes in your personal collection that have come from other restorers who you’ve learned from and appreciated.  I have pipes in my rotation from Steve, who introduced me to the world of pipe restoration and is a good friend who has visited me here in Sofia and I’ve had the privilege of visiting his home terrain, Vancouver.  When I enjoy fellowship with one of his pipes with my favorite blend stoked in the bowl, the relationship is always the focus of the reflection during those paused moments.  I managed to secure one very special pipe for my collection from Charles Lemon of Dad’sPipes, who I’ve also learned much from in his restorations and appreciated that his health has allowed him to come back from hiatus.

When Paresh became aware of my attraction to his L. J. Peretti Cutty, the accord we ratified between us was to do a reciprocal gifting from our personal collections.  Paresh gifted me his Peretti Cutty which I brought home to Bulgaria from India.  After getting back to Bulgaria, I chose a pipe from my personal collection for him.  The special pipe I chose for Paresh was a Savinelli Punto Oro that was in my personal restoration queue – for a LONG time.  The problem of restoring pipes primarily for others is that sometimes it’s difficult to work on your own trove of treasures!  When I saw the Punto Oro on German eBay located in Bühl, I was drawn by the elegant lines of this Savinelli offering. The shape is unique with the Dublin-esque bowl, but not quite.  In my initially assessment of the pipe, I was calling it an oval shank, slightly Bent Billiard – but not quite. The shank was not actually a true oval but a compressed oval – an American football or rugby ball shape.  The unique shape created a lined definition running down the sides of the shank transitioning into and through the stem – flow and balance!  With so much attention on focused the shape, the fact of the striking fire grain showcased throughout the pipe – was reminiscent for me of a tiger’s fur, flowing even through the shank composition.  This only added frosting on this Savinelli Punto Oro cake!  Very nice! Unfortunately, it has taken me a few years to get to this beautiful pipe, but it was waiting.  It was patiently waiting in the ‘Help Me!’ basket and when it came to mind as a comparable reciprocal gift for Paresh, his debut on the worktable became a reality.  Here are more pictures of a very nice Savinelli Punto Oro yet having some daunting issues. The nomenclature is on the upper shank and it reads, SAVINELLI [over] PUNTO ORO, (Gold Point).  ‘Gold Point’ may also be referencing the single gold point brass dot embedded on the upper stem panel.The lower panel section is stamped with the encased ‘S’ in Savinelli’s well known and recognized symbol.  The Savinelli symbol is to the left of the shape number, 413KS [over] the COM, ITALY.  The shape is found in the Savinelli shapes chart found in the Pipedia article on Savinelli,  but the chart offers no names for the shapes, only numbers.  This 413 is designated as a ‘King Size’ by the KS.   Whatever the shape is, I like it!Not satisfied with my lack of definition on what to call this shape, I sent a note off to Steve asking for his opinion – Calabash, Dublin, fancy Billiard?  Steve’s response settled the question directing me to Savinelli’s website – my first thought, why didn’t I think of that?  In the Savinelli line up of shapes or models, the 413KS is described as a Woodstock (pictured below).  Nice!  Bill Burney’s description of the Woodstock in his Pipedia shapes discussion is helpful and includes all the variations I was contemplating!

Zulu/Woodstock – The Zulu shape combines the canted bowl of the Dublin with an 1/8 bent stem.  The shape is sometimes referred to as a Woodstock, Yacht or Yachtsman.  The gentle bend makes the pipe more comfortable to hold in the teeth than a straight pipe.  This popular style is made by most pipemakers and is widely available on the estate market.My first restoration with the Italian name of Savinelli stamped on the pipe was a Tortuga, which was a very sharp looking pipe.  During that initial exposure to the name Savinelli, I learned that before and after WW II, when Italian pipe production was known more for volume than for quality, and not considered by many in the same league with other European pipe makers, Achille Savinelli Jr.’s ambition took shape to make Savinelli one of the premier names in pipe making today.  This clip from the Pipedia Savinelli article summarizes this well:

Savinelli Pipes began production in 1948 and, although the pipes were of a superior quality and unique in their aesthetic, the brand wasn’t an immediate success. Few new brands are. It takes time for the public to catch on. Retailers were skeptical of placing Italian pipes alongside their best sellers from England or France, and customers, in turn, were hesitant to purchase a Savinelli over pipes by already established, foreign brands. Achille Jr. stood by his product, however; he knew it was only a matter of time before the world realized that these pipes were of a far superior quality, capable of competing with even the most well-established pipe manufacturers in the world. As it turns out, he was right. In less than a year, Savinelli pipes gained prestige in markets all across the world—heralded for their delicate balance of innovation and tradition, of form and function. Savinelli pipes were placed alongside the likes of Dunhill and Comoy’s in tobacconists from the United States to Europe, and, in time, this exposure modified Italy’s reputation; it was not only the premier exporter of briar, but now a premium source of fine briar pipes.

The Punto Oro line is considered a top shelf Savinelli offering.  When I first acquired this pipe, wishing to know more especially about the Punto Oro line, I emailed rebornpipes contributor, Al Jones, for his input.  His response was helpful.

Dal:

I’m sorry to say that I have very little expertise in the Savinelli world, save the Guibileo d’Oro or Autograph lines (and only cursory in those).

Here’s an interesting thread about that line on the Pipesmagazine.com forums (I’m a moderator there) http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/opinions-sought-savinelli-punto-oro.  Older ones, like yours appears to be, were a pretty high grade, from what I can gather. 

If your stem is vulcanite and non-filter, it should have been made before 1981 (looks that way to me).   In ’81, they switched to filter pipes.

I’ll look forward to your restoration!

Al

The thread from PipesMagazine.com Forum was helpful.  The general impression from the thread was that the older Punto Oro pipes were on the upper shelves of Savinelli offerings, just under the Guibileo D’Oro and older Autographs.  The Punto Oro catalog ad on Pipedia describes the quality of this Savinelli line and the processes involved in the producing the quality finish.  I found interesting that the ad describes the two finishes available with the Punto Oro line – “Rich Mahogany and genuine Sandblast”.  With the smooth surfaces, the hue is mahogany – the pipe on my table fits this described hue with flare!

I like this pipe – a Woodstock (!) a lot and I think it will be a good addition Paresh’s collection although a lesser, humbler cousin in that collection to be sure!  Looking at the state of the Punto Oro’s condition, the briar landscape is beautiful – no issues that I can see.  The chamber has very light cake – the appropriate dime-width that is recommended.  I’ll remove it for the briar to have a fresh start and to inspect the chamber condition.  The rim reveals the lighting practices of the former steward – over the aft rim surface where it’s darkened and caked with crusted lava flow.  The picture below looks at the chamber and rim.The major issues with the restoration of this Punto Oro are with the stem.  The upper bit has tooth compressions on the bit and button.The lower bit is where all the fun is hiding!  The lower button has broken off and the break migrates down the stem – it will be no small button rebuild to address this moon crater!  There is also tooth chatter evident on the lower bit.  To restore the usefulness of this original Savinelli ‘Gold Point’ stem, which to me is critical, requires a button rebuild.  Rebuilds are never as strong as the original stem, of course, but I’m hopeful of building in some strength as I do this rebuild. I begin the restoration of this gift for Paresh by cleaning the Savinelli stem airway with a pipe cleaner wetted in isopropyl 95%.  It takes one cleaner to do the job.The oxidation on the stem is deep.  I use grade 000 steel wool with CIT, a product like SoftScrub, to work on the oxidation before putting it into the soak of Before & After Deoxidizer.  I like this product but when the oxidation is deep I’ve found that the soak alone is not sufficient to remove the oxidation.  The steel wool gives a head start for the Deoxidizer to break up the oxidation.The stem is then added to the soak of Before & After Deoxidizer along with several other pipes in the queue and their stems.  I let the stem soak for a few hours.When I fish out the stem after a few hours, I let the Deoxidizer fluid drain off the stem and I also squeegee the stem with my fingers.  Using a pipe cleaner wetted with isoproypl 95%, the airway is cleaned of the Deoxidizer.  I also wipe off raised oxidation from the stem with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  To help to rejuvenate the vulcanite stem, I also apply paraffin oil and set the stem aside to soak in the oil.Turning now to the stummel, I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit to begin the removal of carbon cake from the chamber.  After taking a picture showing the starting point, I use 3 of the 4 blade heads available in the kit. The chamber narrows at the bottom, consistent with a conical shape of the Woodstock crafted stummel.  I use the Kleen Reem Tool that more easily reaches to the floor of the tapered chamber.  The Savinelli Fitsall tool continues the scraping and finally the chamber is sanded with 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  After wiping the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clear the carbon dust, an inspection reveals heat veins in the chamber briar.  These are fissures that form from overheating the stummel.  The veins are not substantial enough to repair, but I will complete the restoration by applying a coating of yogurt and activated charcoal mixture to the chamber that will protect the chamber wall and encourage the formation of a protective cake. Switching now to the external briar surface, undiluted Murphy’s Oil soap is used with a cotton pad to scrub the stummel.  The thick, crusted area on the aft of the rim is stubborn.  With the solvent working, I also carefully scrape with my thumb nail, with the edge of my Winchester pocketknife, and with a brass wired brush.  After working on the scrubbing of the external briar surface, I then transfer the stummel to the kitchen sink and using warm water, I scrub the internal mortise and airway with shank brushes and anti-oil liquid dish soap.  After a thorough rinsing, I take a picture back on the worktable.  The stummel cleaned nicely, but the darkened area remains on the stummel’s rim.  I’ll continue to work on that with minor sanding later.I turn now to focus on the internal cleaning.  With only one cotton bud and one pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95%, the fact of the internal cleaned condition is established.  Nice!With the stummel cleaning completed, I turn now to the stem.  The daunting aspect of the restoration is the button rebuild.  Before starting on this, I first focus on the tooth chatter and compressions on upper and lower bit.  I go in this order because the approach in rebuilding the button introduces the CA glue and activated charcoal patch which has a different composition from the vulcanite stem. Since I’m beginning with the heating method to erase as much as possible the chatter and compressions, this involves the heating and expanding of the vulcanite.  This is better done before the patch is applied in the button rebuild.  Using a Bic lighter, I paint the upper and lower bit to heat the vulcanite and through heating the rubber compound expands to reclaim its original disposition – or closer to it.  After going through the painting procedure and comparing the before and after pictures, the heating method did not help a great deal with the composition of this vulcanite stem. It helped some, but not a great deal it seems to me.With pictures showing the starting point for the upper and lower bit, it’s interesting to me to see where the tooth chatter is on the lower bit.  It extends about a quarter of the way down the stem!  I think what this indicates is that a frustrated steward, after he crunched the button, refused to put one of his favorite pipes aside!  Just like in American baseball, he ‘choked up’ on the stem, to keep using his pipe even though the button had endured catastrophic failure.  Now I turn my attention to the button rebuilding procedure.  First, I fashion a cone that inserts into the airway having a pipe cleaner running through the cone into the airway.  The cone is covered with scotch tape and then petroleum jelly is put on the tape.  This helps the cone not to get stuck after the patch material is applied. The patch material is a mixture of activated charcoal that is in capsule form and CA glue.After placing the charcoal in a small pile from the capsule, the glue is placed in a small puddle next to it.  The toothpick is used to mix the charcoal and glue by gradually pulling charcoal into the CA glue while mixing.  As the charcoal is mixed in, the patch material thickens.  After it reaches the consistency like molasses, I apply the charcoal putty to the button using the toothpick as a trowel. I intentionally use a mixture that is a bit thinner at the beginning so that is will seep down around the cone filling in the open spaces.  This is important to create as much strength as possible in the rebuild.  I apply more than is needed to build a mound that will later be filed and sanded to shape the new button. After enough patch material has been applied, I put the stem aside overnight allowing the button build to cure.  The lights go out!Well, the next morning held some surprises!  When I examine the button rebuild, looking forward to starting the process of filing and shaping, I discover that the new CA glue that I used did not cure to a solid state!  The patch was reminiscent of a bite guard – pliable rubber.  With some tugging and peeling, the repair came off in two pieces….  Interestingly, nowhere that I can find on the labeling that this glue does not harden, unless the “Extra Durable and Versatile” on the front label implies this?The good news is that the cone was removed without trouble and is ready to go again for button rebuild patch attempt number two!  I’ll spare the reader of all the pictures to record this second process but will jump forward.  What I did do differently after examining the large area of the patch, was to better engineer and strengthen the resulting rebuild.  I carefully applied rounded and flat needle files to the edge of the break.  I filed to taper downwardly the edge toward the break. My thinking is that this small innovation perhaps will strengthen the patch by providing more of a shelf or footing upon which the patch material can rest.  It seems that this engineering would inherently provide better buttressing than a straight vertical edge drop.  I’m thinking also that this will help in the sanding and blending of the patch. The sketching below illustrates my thinking.  I also file and clean out the entire button cavity and clean it with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% in preparation for the new patch.  Before starting on the button patch, I decide to do a quick fill of the upper bit and button lip where there were compressions.  I use medium-thick black CA glue to do the filling.  To quicken the curing and to hold the patch in place I use an accelerator.The next pictures show the second finished button rebuild patch with the engineering changes beginning the curing process.After the second button rebuild patch is cured, using the flat needle file, the patch on the upper bit and button lip are filed down flush with the vulcanite stem surface.Switching to the underside, filing and shaping begin on the button rebuild.  I start with the slot facing to flatten it by removing the excess patch material.  Then, cutting the line shaping the button lip is next.Filing continues with the main bit patch and button shaping.  I’m careful to allow a rounded patch and not filing straight across horizontally.  This would weaken the patch – thinking of the difference between an arched bridge’s symmetry rather than that of a flat bridge’s.  Maintaining the patch thickness is critical to its strength.With the filing phase completed I transition to using 240 grade paper starting first on the upper bit and button lip fills.The 240 grade sanding fine tunes the button rebuild further. I’m careful not to sand too much on the patch and continue to round it to maintain thickness.  A slightly thicker lower button lip purchases some strength as well. I focus on sanding the seams of the patch so that they are flush with the vulcanite surface.  The patch is still rough but making progress!I use the flat needle file to shape and smooth the slot as well.  It’s almost a given that air pockets will emerge as the sanding continues to shape the button.A careful examination of this cross-section view of the slot facing shows the added buttressing effect of the earlier tapered filing.  Arrows help to show this.With the 240 grade sanding paper still in play, I sand the entire stem to remove any residual oxidation.  Deep oxidation always seems to appear during the fine sanding and polishing phases.  Sanding the stem with 240 now will hopefully address this as well as the remnants of tooth chatter remaining on the bit.  I use a plastic disk that I fabricated to be able to sand the stem facing without shouldering the edges.Next, I sand the entire stem by wet sanding with 600 grade paper and following this, 000 grade steel wool is applied.The upper bit and button repairs are looking great – the sanding is erasing the contours of the patch and blending nicely.Work on the lower stem side is a bit more of a challenge with the huge button rebuild patch material.  The stem is looking great, but the challenge is to blend the large patch area.Air pockets are the most common side effects of patching.  Air bubbles are trapped in the CA glue and activated charcoal as it is mixed and these air bubbles become visible as sanding dissects and reveal the pockets.The many microscopic air pockets are not easy to remove.  I use a clear acrylic nail polish to try to fill and erase the pockets.  CA glue can be used to do the same. I use the brush provided by the nail polish and I paint over the pockets almost covering the entire patch.  I let it dry and repeat the process for a second coating.After the acrylic polish cures, I apply 000 steel wool to the patch and the picture below shows the results.  The nail polish does an amazing job but there remain some pockets.  These are very small and I’m doubtful that more coating will erase them.  I’m satisfied now with leaving them and moving on!  They remain as a testament to the catastrophic button failure and this noble attempt to recommission this beautiful Savinelli Punto Oro Woodstock!  Moving on!I move on to applying the full regimen of micromesh pads to the Woodstock stem.  I begin with wet sanding using pads 1500 to 2400 and follow by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads, Obsidian Oil is applied to condition the stem and to protect it from oxidizing.  The stem is looking great. With the stem sanding completed, looking now to the stummel, I focus first in cleaning up the rim.  There remains darkened briar from the lava flow earlier cleaned on the aft quadrant of the rim.  The inner rim edge is also darkened at places with the normal nicks from wear and tear.  The outer edge of the rim is also with some normal nicks and dents – all very small. To clean the rim, I first start by using 240 sanding paper and doing a very light inner and outer rim bevel – just enough to clean the edge of the rim.  After this, I also use the 240 paper to lightly ‘feather sand’ the aft part of the rim to clean the darkened surface.  I run the sandpaper lightly around the full rim plane surface to clean the briar, not to remove it.I follow the same procedure with the rim edges and the rim plane with 600 grade sanding paper.  The rim is shaping up very nicely.Next, I use micromesh pads to do fine sanding on the Savinelli Gold Point stummel.  I begin by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400 and then dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 120000.  The fine sanding brings out the grain and restores the mahogany finish for which the Punto Oro line is known.  Very nice indeed! To deepen the natural hues of the briar, Mark Hoover’s Before & After Restoration Balm (www.ibepen.com) does a great job.  I put some of the Balm on my finger and work it into the briar surface.  The Balm begins with a cream consistency and then thickens into a waxy consistency as it is worked into the stummel.  After working the Balm thoroughly into the surface, I put the stummel aside for about 20 to 30 minutes as the Balm is absorbed into the briar.  The picture below was during this period.  Afterwards, I wipe off the Balm with a cloth dedicated to this, and then the stummel is buffed up using a microfiber cloth.  The stem also is a beneficiary of Before & After Fine Polish and Extra Fine Polish.  The polish helps further to condition the vulcanite and to rid the stem of oxidation.  Starting with the B&A Fine Polish, I work the black oily liquid into the stem – the liquid has a gritty texture.  Afterwards, I let the stem absorb the polish for 15 minutes and then wipe the excess off with a paper towel.  I follow by applying the Extra Fine Polish in the same manner.  Again after 15 or so minutes, the excess is wiped off and the stem is buffed with a microfiber cloth.Now, the homestretch.  After reuniting stem and stummel and mounting a cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel setting it at about 40% full power, Blue Diamond compound, a fine abrasive, is applied to the pipe.  After this, the pipe is wiped down with a felt cloth to clean it of compound dust before application of the wax.  Next, after mounting another cotton cloth buffing wheel onto the Dremel at the same speed, carnauba wax is applied to the pipe.  Following the wax application, the pipe is given a vigorous hand buffing to further raise the shine.

After the buffing, one project came to mind that I had almost forgotten.  Earlier, after inspecting the chamber and finding some heating veins, I had decided to apply a coating of natural yogurt and activated charcoal powder mixture to the chamber wall.  This mixture, after applied to the chamber, hardens into a protective layer to help protect the briar as well as encourage the formation of a protective cake.  I mix some charcoal powder with a small amount of natural yogurt.After the yogurt and charcoal are mixed and is somewhat thickened – not running but with the consistency of mud, and after inserting a pipe cleaner to keep the draft hole cleared, I use the pipe nail and spread the ‘mud’ over the chamber wall.  After it is covered, since it is late, I put the pipe aside to allow the mud to dry through the night and the lights go out!The next morning, after applying the pipe mud mixture to the chamber, I give the pipe one more rigorous hand buffing to raise the shine and my gift to Paresh is complete.

The button rebuild was, without doubt, the most technically demanding part of the restoration of this striking Savinelli Punto Oro Woodstock.  The grain is beautiful, and I am especially drawn to the Woodstock shape with the lines guiding the eyes down the sides of the pipe, taking in the movement of grain and shape.  I’m thankful for my L. J. Peretti Cutty that I received from Paresh when I was in India.  I have yet to put the Cutty into service here in Bulgaria – it has been waiting for my gift to Paresh to make it to India.  It still needs to be refreshed and a little polishing work, and my plan and hope is that Paresh and I will share our first bowls together with our gifted pipes to each other, perhaps not in person, but via video conferencing, today’s miracle bringing people together throughout our ever shrinking world.  After the pandemic issues are behind us, I’ll be mailing the Savinelli Punto Oro Woodstock to India.  Thank you for the Peretti Cutty, my friend!

Look at this beauty – a GBD Prodigy Sandflame 9696 Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the worktable is one I have been looking forward to working on. It came in its original box as can be seen in the next two photos. The pipe was in a GBD pipe sock. The box was in great condition and read London Made GBD Prodigy. On the end of the box it reads Prodigy Sandflame 9696 which is the model and shape number. It is a nicely grained sandblast freehand with a white acrylic stem. Jeff took pictures of it as he unpacked it from the box.The pipe was in very good condition when he took it from the box. There were not a lot of issues to deal with in the cleanup and restoration. It is stamped on the underside of the shank GBD in an oval over Prodigy over Sandflame over London England. There was some darkening around the inner edge of the bowl, heavier toward the back side with a bit of darkening on the plateau top. There was a thick cake in the bowl that had remnants of tobacco stuck in it. The finish was dirty and there were spots of grime and oils. The white acrylic fancy saddle stem had a brass GBD roundel on the left side of the saddle. There were tooth marks on the top and underside ahead of the button. There was tooth chatter on both sides of the stem. There was some darkening in the airway of the stem at the button. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the bowl and rim top to show their general condition. You can see the tars and darkening on the inner edge of the rim top. The cake in the bowl is thick and there is tobacco debris on the walls of the bowl. There were some shiny spots on the plateau rim top that would need to be cleaned off. The finish on the bowl is dull but still very stunning.Jeff took some photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give an idea of the sandblast grain on this particular piece of briar. It is quite stunning with the plateau rim and plateau shank end. I cannot wait to see what it looks like once it is polished and waxed. He took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank to capture it for me. It is clear and readable. The GBD oval and the Prodigy line is double stamped. The rest of the stamping is clear and reads SANDFLAME over London England. He included the side of the stem with the brass GBD roundel on the left side of the saddle stem. This pipe has a classic freehand saddle stem that has a great profile. The white acrylic stem is in good condition other than tooth marks and chatter on the stem at the button. There is some darkening in button and airway. The photos below show the condition of the stem. I turned to Pipephil’s site to see if I could find any direct information on the Prodigy line and sadly there was nothing there regarding this line. I turned to Pipedia listing under GBD Model Information (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD_Model_Information) and read through that information. I found a description of the line that I include below.

Prodigy — England, unknown if also made in France: According to the 1976 catalog these were a limited production “oversize” line available in just a few shapes. Natural finish…

There was also a note at the bottom of the page that had a description of the pipe that I have in hand.

I also have an interesting Prodigy Sandflame, half bent tan sandblast free form with plateau top. I think it’s an unusual shape for a GBD…

I am pretty sure the pipe was GBD’s response to the Freehand craze of the 70’s but cannot prove that for sure. I moved forward to work on the pipe itself and see what I had to do with it. I decided to take photos of the opening of the box so you can experience looking at this pipe the way I did when I received it from Jeff. I opened the box, took out the sock and removed the pipe. It really is quite stunning to look at the first time. I took the pipe out of the box and turned it over in my hands to see it from various angles. I always do that to get a feel for what I am going to have to do with the pipe in my part of the restoration process. In this case there was little to do. The pipe had come back looking amazing. Even the stem which had the most issues to work on when I looked at the photos above looked like new, with most of the tooth chatter gone. There was some darkening in the airway, the button and on the end of the tenon that would need to be looked at a bit but I was impressed. Jeff had done his normal thorough clean up – reaming, scrubbing, soaking and the result was evident in the pipe when I unpacked it. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. Just look at the sandblast grain on this Freehand pipe. It was quite beautiful! I took some photos of the rim top and stem. The rim top and bowl looked very good. The cake and lava overflow were gone and the inner rim looked better. Jeff had been able to get rid of most of the darkening and all of the lava and tars. The plateau rim top looked very good. The close up photos of the stem shows that it is a much cleaner. There was still some light tooth chatter and some darkening in the airway and button slot that I would try to minimize some more but it looked good.I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank to show the condition after the cleanup. Often the stamping takes a hit with the cleaning and is lessened in it clarity. Jeff does a great job in leaving the stamping looking very good.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe at this point. You can clearly see the plateau on the shank end in the photos below. It is in great condition.I started my restoration work on this pipe by addressing the darkening on the inner edge of the bowl. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the edge and followed that with a folded piece of 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. The finish rim top looked very good. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to get in the nooks and crannies of the blast and the plateau on the rim top and shank end. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for about ten minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I started by working on the tobacco staining on the white stem. I cleaned off the tenon end with a piece of folded sandpaper and was able to remove the majority of the stains. I worked on the inside of the button with a folded pipe cleaner and alcohol and remove all of the staining in the slot and button. I worked on the airway in the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners going both directions and scrubbing. I also used some Soft Scrub on a pipe cleaner and worked it back and forth in the airway. While it is definitely better there is still some remaining stain. I sanded out the tooth chatter and blended in the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper and started to polish it with a folded piece of 400 wet dry sandpaper. Once it was finished it was smooth.I used some Denicare Mouthpiece Polish that I have in my kit to start polishing out some of the scratches and remaining stains on the surface of the stem. I rubbed it in with a cotton pad and my finger tip and buffed it off with a cotton pad.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a cloth containing some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. Once again I love this part of the process when all of the parts come together and the pipe looks better than when we started the cleanup process. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe lightly with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I carefully avoided the stamping on the shank sides during the process. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad on the buffer. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is a real stunning example GBD’s response to the Freehand Craze of the 1970s. The sandblast grain and the way the shape follows it is very well done. This is the first Prodigy I have seen or worked on and I have worked on a lot of GBD pipes. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 2 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This Made In London England Prodigy Sandflame 9696 Freehand is a great looking pipe in excellent condition. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. I was having a FaceTime chat with Paresh while I was working on this one and it will soon be heading to India to join his collection of Freehand pipes. Thanks for your time.

 

Refreshing an Unsmoked NOS Wally Frank Ltd. Rhodesian


Blog by Steve Laug

In the next box of pipes Jeff sent me there was an interesting Rhodesian that ticked all the boxes for me. He had picked it up on an auction from Louisiana. On top of that it was a New Old Stock (NOS) Unsmoked Bulldog with a black vulcanite stem. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Wally Frank Ltd. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Imported Briar over Made in Italy. It has some stunning grain around the sides of the bowl with birdseye on the top of the rim cap and the heel of the bowl. It really is a beautiful pipe. The bowl was clean and unsmoked with a little dust on the walls and the bottom of the bowl. The finish seemed to have a varnish or shellac coat and it was very clean. The twin rings around the bowl had some debris in them that would need to be removed. The vulcanite stem looked good and showed no tooth marks of chatter. It did have some nicks on the topside of the button and just ahead of the button on the left topside. The saddle stem had something on the topside near the stem shank junction. It was a great looking pipe and one that should be an easy refresh. I took photos of the bowl and rim top to show their unsmoked condition. You can see unblemished, unused bowl and the pristine rim top. I took photos of the stem at the same time to show how clean it was. You can see the mark of what appears to be either varnish or shellac on the top of the saddle stem at the junction with the shank.I took photos of the stamping on both sides of the shank. They read as noted above.It was at this moment that I faced the first issue with the pipe. When I tried to remove the stem I found that it was absolutely stuck in the shank and would not turn. I put the pipe in the freezer this morning and left it there by accident for several hours. I got busy working on other pipes. Once I removed it from the freezer I was able to slowly and carefully turn the stem. It was still very tight in the shank but I could remove it. I took photos of it after I removed the stem. It had a small aluminum stinger in the tenon. It was pressure fit so I removed it from the tenon.Now that I had removed the stem I examined the mortise area and could see that it seemed that some of the shellac had gone inside the shank of the pipe. It had locked with the vulcanite tenon and formed a seal. The temperature change loosened it but ultimately it took some careful working of the stem back and forth to break the seal free. I used alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners to clean out the varnish coat on the inside of the mortise. It took a bit of work but I was able remove all of it from the surface of the briar.I wiped the tenon down with alcohol to try to soften the shellac coat. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to sand the shellac off the tenon. It took a fair bit of sanding to get the tenon back to raw vulcanite. Once it was clear it fit snugly in the mortise without sticking.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The repair looks really good. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the blue acrylic stem. I sanded out the remaining tooth chatter with 220 grit sandpaper and started to polish it with a folded piece of 400 wet dry sandpaper. Once it was finished it was smooth.  I used some Denicare Mouthpiece Polish that I have in my kit to start polishing out some of the scratches on the stem. I rubbed it in with a cotton pad and my finger tip and buffed it off with a cotton pad.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a cloth containing some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. I love the end of a restoration project like this one that needed more than first appeared. It is the moment when all of the parts come together and the pipe looks better than when we started the cleanup process. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I carefully avoided the stamping on the shank sides during the process. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad on the buffer. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is a really beautiful smooth grained bowl with a saddle stem. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 7/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This Italian Made Wally Frank Ltd Rhodesian is a great looking pipe. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. I will be putting this pipe on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you want to add it to your collection let me know. Thanks for your time.

Cleaning up a Unique Savinelli Made Antique Shell 623 Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

In the next box of pipes Jeff sent me there was an interesting Bulldog with a blue acrylic stem that I wanted to restore. It is stamped on the left underside of the diamond shank Antique Shell and the shape number 623 over Italy. The shape number is definitely a Savinelli shape number so I am safe to assume that this is a Savinelli Product. I have not seen one with a blue acrylic stem before so I was looking forward to the restoration. It was a dirty pipe when we received it. There was a coat of lava and dust in the rusticated finish of the rim top. The inner edge and outer edges of the rim looked very good. There was a thick cake in the bowl that had remnants of tobacco stuck in it. The finish was dirty and there dust and debris in the rusticated finish around the bowl. There also appeared to be what looked like either a crack or a fissure in the right side of the bowl toward the bottom. The blue acrylic stem looked good but there were tooth marks on the top and underside ahead of the button. There was tooth chatter on both sides of the stem. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the bowl and rim top to show their general condition. You can see the tars and debris in the rustication of the rim top. The cake in the bowl is quite thick and there is tobacco debris on the walls of the bowl. The finish on the bowl is dirty but looks good. Jeff took some photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give an idea of the finish on this particular piece of briar. It is different and tactile looking. I cannot wait to see what it looks like once it is polished and waxed.Jeff took a photo of the heel of the bowl. On the right side of the photo (also right side of the bowl) there is an area that looks like a crevice or possibly a crack in the bowl. I have circled it in red for easy identification. I will need to check that out once I am working on the pipe.He took a photo of the stamping on left underside of the diamond shank. There was a smooth panel with the stamping on it. It reads as it is stated above.This pipe has a very unique clear blue acrylic stem that goes really well with the contrasting browns of the bowl and shank. It is in very good condition with light tooth marks and chatter near the button.  I have worked on Savinelli Antique Shell pipes in the past but this was the first one with the blue acrylic stem. There are no stampings on the stem so it may be a replacement but it fits the shank very well. I moved forward to work on the pipe itself and see what I had to do with it. It had come back looking amazingly clean. The bowl looked very good and the crevice on the bottom of bowl, though still visible was even more obviously a crevice rather than a crack. I would need to probe it more once I started to clean up the pipe. The stem looked like new, with most of the tooth chatter gone. I was impressed. Jeff had done his normal thorough clean up – reaming, scrubbing, soaking and the result was evident in the pipe when I unpacked it. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I took some photos of the rim top and stem. The rim top and bowl looked very good. The cake and lava overflow were gone and the rim was very clean. Jeff had been able to get rid of the lava and tars. The close up photos of the stem shows that it is a much cleaner and better looking stem. The light tooth chatter was greatly reduced and the stem looked really good.I took a photo of the stamping on the left underside of the shank to show the condition after the cleanup. Often the stamping takes a hit with the cleaning and is lessened in it clarity. Jeff does a great job in leaving the stamping looking very good.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe at this point. It really is quite a stunning pipe with the clear blue acrylic stem.I started my restoration work on this pipe by addressing the crevice or potential crack on the lover right side of the bowl. I probed it with a dental pick to see how deep it went and if it was a crack or just a natural flaw in the surface of the briar. It did not appear to go very deep into the briar but my examination with the probe using a lens were inconclusive. I used a light and lens to check out the inside of the bowl and it was flawless – whew! I was glad to see that. It added credence to my thinking that it was a crevice. However, I decided to address it as a cosmetic crack and do the repair accordingly.I used a microdrill bit on my Dremel to drill a small pilot hole at what I ascertained were the ends of the crevice/crack. These are tiny holes shown in the next two photos. I have circled them in red below. The first photo has two and the second has one hole.I filled in the holes and the crevice on the heel and side of the bowl with clear super glue. I pressed briar dust into the holes and the crevice with a dental spatula. I cleaned off the debris with a brass bristle wire brush. It removes the loose debris but leaves the repairs in the crevice and holes intact.I was happy with the coverage of the repair but as is often the case a super glue and briar dust repair leaves smooth shiny spots on the finish. I dislike these shiny tells! I used a small round burr on the Dremel to create the same kind of rustication that was on the rest of the bowl. Once it was stained I was pretty sure it would look great.I used a Walnut stain pen to restain the newly rusticated surface of the repair. I like the way it looks and it will look even better as the bowl is polished and waxed.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The repair looks really good. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the blue acrylic stem. I sanded out the remaining tooth chatter with 220 grit sandpaper and started to polish it with a folded piece of 400 wet dry sandpaper. Once it was finished it was smooth.I used some Denicare Mouthpiece Polish that I have in my kit to start polishing out some of the scratches and remaining oxidation on the stem. I rubbed it in with a cotton pad and my finger tip and buffed it off with a cotton pad.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a cloth containing some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. I love the end of a restoration project like this one that needed more than first appeared. It is the moment when all of the parts come together and the pipe looks better than when we started the cleanup process. I put the stem back on the bowl and lightly buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I carefully avoided the stamping on the shank sides during the process. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad on the buffer. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is a really beautiful rusticated bowl with a stunning blue acrylic stem. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This Savinelli Made Antique Shell Bulldog shape 623 is a great looking pipe. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. I will be putting this pipe on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you want to add it to your collection let me know. Thanks for your time.

My First Ever Tenon Replacement and it’s on a Preben Holm # 7 Freehand Pickaxe Pipe!!


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

The first ever Preben Holm in my collection was from eBay about two years back. It came to me with a broken stem and the tenon stuck in to the mortise. This pipe received a new lease on life in the month of May last year when Steve, Jeff and Dal Stanton visited me here in India. I learned the process of tenon replacement along with many other tips and processes in pipe restoration. Here is the link to the informative write up by Steve on this pipe; (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/05/14/restoring-a-preben-holm-hand-cut-sandblast-freehand-in-pune-india/).

The second Preben Holm in my collection came from my Mumbai Bonanza, which I really enjoyed working on; (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/08/12/refurbishing-a-tired-preben-holm-1-from-the-mumbai-bonanza-lot/).

The next two Preben Holm pipes came to me from a seller on eBay. Both these pipes had some serious stem issues which really kept other buyers away from placing their bids and lucky me, I got both these pipes for a really good price. Even though both pipes came to me together, I shall be working on them separately since they each have a different set of issues involved.

The first of these two PH pipes was restored a couple of weeks ago and it really turned out to be a gorgeous pipe. Here is the link to the write up that has been posted on rebornpipes.com (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/03/10/refurbishing-a-preben-holm-3-freehand-pipe/).

The second PH currently on my work table, is a beautiful pickaxe freehand with beautiful flame grain all around the stummel and shank and birdseye at the foot of the stummel. The rim top has remnants of plateau along the front left side and extending to the right up to half the length of the rim top. The shank end is sleek and smooth with a slight flare at the shank end, a complete contrast to the earlier PH I had worked on that had a large flare at the shank end. Here are the pictures of the pipe as it sits on my work table. The pipe is stamped on the bottom of the flared shank end as “PREBEN HOLM” in block capital letters over “Hand Cut” in a cursive artistic hand over “COPENHAGEN” over “DENMARK”, all in block capitals. The left side of the shank bears the encircled numeral “7”. All the stampings are crisp and easily readable. The fancy vulcanite stem is devoid of any stampings.There is a lot of interesting information on the carver, Preben Holm, on pipedia.org (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Holm,_Preben) which makes for an interesting read. However, there was no information or guidelines to help understand the grading and dating of these pipes from the carver. In my previous write ups on Preben Holm pipes, I had sought input on these specific aspects and was honored by studied information from esteemed readers of rebornpipes. Here is some of the information that was shared by the readers;

Roland Borchers March 10, 2020 at 8:21 am

Hi Paresh,

What a wonderful pipe and a great job (again) on the restoration. The PH pipes were 1968-1970 graded from 1 (lowest) to 8 (unicorn) .
This page from smokingpipes.com might be of interest, but there is more to be found on the www.
https://www.smokingpipes.com/pipes/estate/denmark/moreinfo.cfm?product_id=136933

So a 3 is not bad at all…

Best wishes,

Roland

I followed the link forwarded by Mr. Roland Borchers and reproduce the information gleaned;

“Now that my pulse has returned to (vaguely) normal. Preben Holm pipes which bear a single grading number in a circle, represent Holm’s earliest ‘Hand Cuts’, a period that most estimate between 1968 and 1970. Prior to handling this amazing jewel, the highest grade that I had encountered was a ‘5’. Once (just once) I saw a smoked ‘7’ offered across the pond for a price that could feed a decent sized village for a month (mild exaggeration, but you get the idea). Here we have a ‘6’, featuring both the conservancy of shape that one would expect from the earliest days, as well as a grain worthy of such a lofty grade designation. Forty (plus) years young, utterly unsmoked and it comes with both the original presentation box and sleeve. For Pete’s sake, don’t let this one get away”.

–R. ‘Bear’ Graves

borman August 15, 2019 at 5:44 pm

Not sure how correct I am but… pipes 1-4 as such are lower to higher quality rating as A-E is low to high. The bone extensions that I have had and others I have seen appear to be from the 60’s. Hope I am not far off and also I hope it helps you.

Thus from the above information, it’s evident that this beautiful Preben Holm pipe in my hand is a very rare # 7, top grade and very expensive pipe from 1960s…

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The first and foremost issue that I noticed and was aware of from the description given by the seller is that of the broken tenon. Most of the readers must be wondering as to the rational of buying a pipe, even a Preben Holm, with a broken tenon and it’s a logical question. However, there are two main reasons why I went in for this purchase; firstly my friend and guru, Steve had demonstrated how to replace a broken tenon and I was keen to try my hand at it and secondly was the economic consideration!! Pray tell me if it is possible to get a grade 7 early hand-cut Preben Holm from the 1960s at USD $65, including shipping!! Never, I say. Below are the pictures of the broken tenon stuck in to the mortise. This is going to be a challenging repair being my first tenon replacement.The chamber has a very thin layer of dry and hard cake with the slightly outward flared inner rim edge showing darkening in the 6 o’clock direction. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be checked and ascertained only after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. However, I do not envisage any damage to the chamber walls. There is negligible lava overflow and debris embedded in the plateau of the rim top surface. It is my guess that this pipe suffered said catastrophic damage very early in its existence and had since been languishing in a box with the previous piper before he decided to get rid of it. The stummel boasts of beautiful straight grain all around and extends over the shank surface too!! The surface is relatively clean and without any fills save for a few very minor scratches that could have been caused during routine use. The slightly flared smooth end of the shank is clean. The foot of the stummel shows beautiful bird’s eye grains and is sans any damage. Overall, the stummel presents a sparingly used and a well-cared for pipe. The mortise has the broken tenon stuck in to it. However, given the condition of the chamber and the overall pristine appearance of the stummel, I think the mortise should be clean too!!

The fancy vulcanite stem shows traces of oxidation and is otherwise sans any major damage. The horizontal slot end of the stem is heavily oxidized to a dark brown coloration. The broken tenon end is jagged and sharp at the place where the tenon has snapped. The fancy stem, though it looks beautiful when black and shiny, is a bear to clean with all the dips and narrow gaps between the beads and rings etc.THE PROCESS
I began the process of refurbishing this pipe with cleaning the internals of the stem using pipe cleaners with isopropyl alcohol (99.9% pure) and dunking the stem in to “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution developed by my friend Mark Hoover. The solution helps to draw out heavy oxidation to the surface making its further removal a breeze, while the minor oxidation is eliminated to a very great extent. I usually dunk stems of 5-7 pipes that are in-line for restoration and this pipe is marked in green arrow. I generally allow the stems to soak in this solution overnight for the solution to do its work.With the stem soaking in the deoxidizer solution, I worked the stummel starting with reaming the chamber with my fabricated knife as the layer of cake was too thin and did not warrant the use of a reamer. It was at this stage that I realized that the pipe has been so sparingly smoked that what I was assuming to be a layer of cake, is in fact a layer of bowl coating!! The walls of the chamber are smooth and solid. I tried to wriggle out the broken tenon that was stuck in to the mortise. Lucky me, it came out without any resistance!! That’s a big relief. Next, I cleaned the mortise with hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I scrubbed the external surface of the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I carefully cleaned the plateau rim top with a soft brass wire brush to remove the accumulated dirt and debris from the surface. Thereafter, I cleaned the mortise, plateau rim top and stummel surface with anti-oil dish washing soap on shank brush and tooth brush. The entire stummel, including the platue rim top, cleaned up nicely. I set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. Staying with the stummel restoration, I polished the stummel with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 pads. This time around, I did not repeat the mistake of polishing the plateau rim top as I had done with the PH # 3 earlier! I wiped the surface with a soft cloth at the end of the micromesh cycle. The stummel looks amazing with a deep shine and beautiful straight grains popping over the stummel surface. I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to briar. I rubbed this balm deep in to the nooks and crannies of the plateau rim top surface with my fingers and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the dark brown hues of the grain contrasting with the rest of the stummel surface. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. As mentioned in the previous write up on refurbishing of pipe PH # 3, I had worked on all the stems that had been soaking in the deoxidizer solution overnight. I fished out all the stems and cleaned them under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using Scotch Brite pad. I further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stems with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stems and set them aside for the oil to be absorbed. Complete oxidation was removed on this stem by the process described above. Unfortunately, I did not click any pictures of these stems at this stage.

With this, I have now reached the most critical and challenging part of this restoration; replacing the broken tenon. While Steve, Dal and Jeff were here in India, Steve had replaced a tenon on a Preben Holm which had come to me with a broken tenon. I had minutely observed the procedure, made detailed notes and read the relevant blogs that Steve has written on rebornpipes.com.

The process starts with sanding the broken tenon end of the stem till a smooth and even stem face is available for the new tenon. This step also reveals and opens up the stem airway for drilling to accommodate the new tenon. I did this by topping the tenon end of the stem face on a piece of 220 grit sandpaper till smooth.Next, I selected a Delrin tenon that was the closest fit in to the mortise. I mounted a sanding drum on to my hand held rotary tool and setting the speed at its lowest, I shaped the tenon to a perfect fit in to the mortise. I was very slow, deliberate and frequently checked the progress being made. Once I had achieved a snug fit, I kept the tenon aside and worked the stem.The one and most important aspect that has to be kept in mind while replacing a tenon is to keep the new tenon and stem airway straight and aligned. To ensure this, with a sharp knife I gave a slight inward bevel to the stem’s airway opening which will serve as a guide to the drill bit when drilling. I use the length of the end of the tenon to determine the depth of the drilling. I marked off this length with a rubber band wound tightly on each and every drill bit that I used. I started the drilling with a bit that was slightly larger than the existing airway. I proceed through a series of bits starting with a 3 mm bit until I had drilled the airway with the final bit of 5.5 mm, the same size as the end of the replacement tenon that I had shaped earlier. I proceed with caution as I wanted to make sure that I kept the airway straight for a good fit of the new tenon.I used a file to knock off the threads on the tenon end just enough to pressure fit it in place in the stem. I carefully checked the alignment to make sure the tenon was straight on the stem before setting it aside to cure. I subjected the stem with the replaced tenon to the pipe cleaner test. The pipe cleaner passed through the air way smoothly and without any obstruction. Once satisfied that the alignment is perfect, I put some super glue on the tenon end and pressed it into the airway and set it aside to cure. I am very pleased with my first attempt at a tenon replacement. I further sand the stem with 600 and 800 grit sand paper and wiped the stem with cotton pad dipped in alcohol to remove the resultant dust and rubbed some extra virgin olive oil in to the stem and set it aside to be absorbed in to stem. I polished the stem with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I rubbed a little extra virgin olive oil in to the stem at the end of the micromesh pads polishing cycle. I completed the polishing regime of the stem by rubbing a small quantity of Extra Fine Stem polish developed by my friend Mark Hoover, and giving it a final polish with a soft cotton cloth. The stem is now nice, smooth and shiny.To apply the finishing touches, I first mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches.With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax to the stummel and stem and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax has been polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finish the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine further. The finished pipe is shown below. P.S. – First things first; tenon replacement, now that I have personally worked on it, is definitely not a very difficult procedure. All it takes is a lot of patience and I strongly recommend that before attempting it, one should go through as many write ups on tenon replacement as possible. Steve has some nice, simple and informative step by step write ups on this procedure which is strongly recommended.

I am really fortunate to be in the process of learning the nuances of pipe restoration and cannot thank Steve enough for his support and guidance.

I wish to thank Mr. Roland Borchers and Mr. Borman who have explained the numbering system followed on Preben Holm pipes and also on dating these pipes for the larger good of our fraternity.

Thanks for your patience and looking forward to inputs about the write up. Cheers…

 

One I have not seen before: A Coloured Basket Weave Meerschaum pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

Jeff and I picked up this Egg shape Basket Weave Meerschaum with a red acrylic stem from a recent trip we took together. It came in a black vinyl covered case lined with rich brown velour in the cover and lower portion of the case. The case was in very good condition with brass hinges on the back and a brass clasp on the front. There were no identifying marks in the case or on the pipe itself. Jeff opened the case and this was the meerschaum pipe that was inside. It was a nice looking basket weave carved egg shaped bowl that had a colouration that neither of us had ever seen before. We both wondered if somewhere along the way it had come in contact with a cloth that had bled stain on the pipe. But the pattern and intensity of the colour was bowl wide and deep in the meerschaum. Looking at the shank end we also saw that it seemed to go even into the internals of the pipe. The exterior of the bowl was very dirty and had tars and oils ground into the finish and was dull. Looking at the top of the bowl you can see the light lava that had overflowed onto the rim top. You can also see the darkening on the inner and outer edge of the bowl. There was a thin cake in the bowl. The stem looked to be in good condition with a little chatter but no tooth marks. Jeff took photos of the pipe to show its condition before he started his clean-up.Jeff took close-up photos of the bowl and rim top from various angles to capture the condition of the bowl and rim top edges. There was a very thick cake in the bowl that was hard and uneven.  There was thin overflowing lava coming up from the cake onto the rim top. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the carving and colour around the bowl as well as the darkening that had occurred on the outer edge of the bowl. Jeff took the stem off the shank and took a photo. It appears to be a threaded tenon that unscrewed from the stem. This was the first sign of a problem with the tenon being stuck in the shank. It was not clear what kind of tenon we were dealing with here. I expected a push tenon and that could well be the case.  I would know more about that once I had it in hand. The stem was dusty and dirty.  The internals of the pipe looked quite dirty judging from the tenon end. Notice the colours that permeate deep into the meerschaum on the shank end.Jeff took photos of the stem to show the general condition of the fancy stem shape. The curve is graceful and gentle. The photo shows the profile of the stem. He took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the light tooth chatter on both sides near the button. Having seen the pipe I did before his cleanup I did not know what to expect when I unpacked the most recent box Jeff sent to me. The pipe was present in the box with other cased pipes so as I took each one out and opened it I waited to see this one. When I finally opened a case and this pipe was there I did not know what to expect. The colours left me wondering what to expect so I opened the case with a bit of fear and trepidation at what awaited me inside. I put the case on my desk and opened it to see what was there. I opened the case and took a photo of the pipe inside.I was astonished to see how clean the pipe was. The bowl was definitely coloured with the bubblegum speckles all around the pipe. It actually looked very good at first glance.Now it was time to take it out of the case and have a look at it up close and personal. Jeff had done an incredible job in cleaning up this meerschaum. He had carefully reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife, scraping away the thick cake on the walls of the bowl. He also scraped off the lava on the rim top. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime on the bowl and rim and was able to remove much of the darkening. He cleaned out the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they came out clean. The rim top looked incredible when you compare it with where it started. There is some slight darkening on the inside edge of the bowl. He cleaned the stem with Soft Scrub to remove the grime on the exterior and cleaned out the airway with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I took some photos of the pipe as I saw it. To show how clean the rim top and stem really was I took a close-up photo of the rim. The bowl was clean and cake free. The rim top is quite clean and the inner edge of the bowl has all of the lava removed. There is still some general darkening to the rim top that I would like to remove but it is very clean. The rich Redmanol coloured stem looks very good. The surface and the button edge look really good. There are no issues that are there to address.I removed the stem from the bowl and took photos of the parts. When I first unscrewed it the stem came off the tenon. I looked it over and could see that I was dealing with a push stem system. I screwed it back in place and twisted in the opposite direction and I was able to twist the push stem off the mortise insert. I would clean it up and it should be easy to work with in the future. I decided to address the darkening on the rim top and edges first. I polished the rim top and edges with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads to remove the blackened spots on the rim top and clean up the top. I wiped it down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. The polishing of the rim top and edges had removed the darkening and left behind a light patina. I took photos of the top, sides and heel of the bowl to show what it looked like at this point. Note the carved flower on the heel of the bowl. It is well done and a unique touch on this basket weave style bowl. The bowl was basically finished so I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. Since it was quite clean I decided to polish it with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I also worked over the staining of the push tenon at the same time. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with a cloth containing some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. Even though the stem is acrylic I decided to give it a coat of Briarville’s No Oxy Oil to preserve and protect it. I put the bowl and stem back together again and buffed it with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine on the meerschaum and the acrylic stem. The hand buffing adds depth to the shine. I gave the stem several coats of carnauba wax and the bowl multiple coats of Clapham’s Beeswax Polish. The Beeswax Polish is a soft wax that I can apply with a soft cotton pad and buff with a microfiber cloth. The colours of the pipe came alive and looked great to me. It has a great feel in the hand that is very tactile and an interesting patina should develop as the pipe is smoked. The finished pipe is shown 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: 5/8 of an inch. This Coloured Basket Meerschaum is a beauty whose colours make it interesting. When I first saw it I was dubious about the flecks of colour but as I have worked on it I have come to appreciate them. It should make someone a great pipe. It is one that will be on the rebornpipes store very soon. If you are interested let me know. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

A Beautiful Lattice Meerschaum Lay Underneath the Thick Cake and Lava


Blog by Steve Laug

Jeff picked up this Calabash Lattice Meerschaum with an acrylic stem from somewhere on his travels. It came in a black vinyl covered case lined with Satin in the cover and white fur in the lower portion of the case. The case appeared to have had a sticker on the cover that was long gone. There were no identifying marks in the case or on the pipe itself. It has a brass clasp on the front and brass hinges on the back. It was obviously custom made for this pipe.Jeff opened the case and this was the meerschaum pipe that was inside. It was a nice looking lattice carved calabash bowl that had begun to take on some nice colour. The base and shank were almost amber coloured. The exterior of the bowl was very dirty and had tars and oils ground into the finish. Looking at the top of the bowl you can see how much lava had overflowed onto the rim top. It had filled in most of the fine carvings in the top of the rim around the inner edges of the bowl. I am sure once it was out of the case it would become clear how dirty it really was.Jeff took it out of the case to have a better look at the condition of the pipe. It was a beautifully shaped calabash with lots of promise. It looked like it would cleanup really well and look great when finished. The meerschaum was developing some really nice colour around the lower part of the bowl and shank. Jeff took a close-up photo of the bowl and rim top. There was a very thick cake in the bowl that was hard and uneven.  There was thick overflowing lava coming up from the cake over the rim top and filling in the tiny spot and carving on the rim.Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the carving and colour around the bowl. Jeff took the stem off the shank and took a photo. It appears to be a threaded tenon that screwed into the shank. The first sign of another possibility for me was the thin lip around the end of the tenon. I would know more about that once I had it in hand. The shank end and the tenon were filthy with oils and tars. The internals of the pipe were in as bad a condition as the inside of the bowl and airway.Jeff took photos of the stem to show the general condition of the stem shape. The curve is graceful and the curve great. The photo shows the profile of the stem. He took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the damage and bite marks on both sides near the button and on the surface of the button itself. It almost looked like it had been wrapped in tape. Having seen the before pictures on this pipe I did not know what to expect when I unpacked the most recent box Jeff sent to me. The pipe was present in the box and I took it out of the box with a bit of fear and trepidation at the amount of work that would await me when I removed it from the case. I put the case on my desk and opened it to see what was there. I opened the case and took a photo of the pipe inside.I was astonished to see how clean the pipe was. The bowl nicely coloured – Jeff had lost none of the patina in clean-up process. Now it was time to take it out of the case and have a look at it up close and personal.Jeff had done an incredible job in cleaning up this meerschaum. He had carefully reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife, scraping away the thick cake on the walls of the bowl. He also scraped the thick lava on the rim top. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime on the bowl and rim. He cleaned out the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they came out clean. The rim top looked incredible when you compare it with where it started. There is some slight darkening on the inside edge of the bowl and a dark spot on the back topside. He cleaned the stem with Soft Scrub to remove the grime on the exterior and cleaned out the airway with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. To show how clean the rim top and stem really was I took a close-up photo of the rim. The bowl was clean and cake free. The rim top is quite clean and the inner edge of the bowl has all of the lava removed. The stem looks better with the tape removed. The stem looks very good. There are a few deep tooth marks in the surface and the button edge is thin and blackened.I unscrewed the stem from the bowl and took photos of the parts. The tenon appeared to be threaded but I was not sure of that. I would need to do a bit more work on it to be sure.I examined the tenon and decided to unscrew it from the stem. I locked a pair of pliers on the tenon and twisted it to unscrew it. As I did this the friction was not like threads, rather it was like a friction fit. Then it dawned on me what I was dealing with. The threaded portion was the female part of the push tenon that was normally anchored in the shank of the pipe. I pulled it free of the push tenon itself and took a photo of the parts. I breathed a sigh of relief as this was by far an easier repair to make. I would clean up the female portion and anchor it in the shank them clean up the push tenon and that part of the repair would be finished.I set the parts of the stem and push tenon assembly aside and turned my attention to the bowl itself. I cleaned up the inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper.I polished the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads to remove the blackened spots on the rim top and clean up the top. I wiped it down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. The top looked considerably better. With the rim top cleaned up I turned my attention to the shank and the stem. Once I had removed threaded insert from the stem it opened up an area underneath that was filled with a lot of tars and oils. I cleaned out that area with pipe cleaners, swabs and alcohol. I cleaned up the inside of the shank and the mortise insert at the same time. I was able to get all of the grime removed. I then turned to the stem where there were also some tars and oils still in the airway and in the slot so I cleaned them as well.With everything cleaned it was time to reconstruct the push tenon system. I coated the threads on the mortise insert with all-purpose white glue and threaded the insert into the mortise. I wiped off the excess glue that came out as the insert seated in the shank. I set the bowl aside to let the glue cure and turned my attention to the stem. I started by using a topping board to remove the thin darkened edge of the button. It was quite thick to start with so I knew that to remove a little would not do damage but actually would make the stem stronger.I used a clear CA (Krazy) glue to fill in the deep tooth marks on both the top and underside of the stem as well as to build up the surface of the button to thicken it and smooth out the tooth damage.I reshaped the button surface and smoothed out the repairs with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I started the polishing with a folded piece of 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish. It is a gritty, red paste with the consistency of red Tripoli. I find that it works well to polish out scratches and light marks in the surface of the stem. I polished it off with a cotton pad to raise the shine.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a cloth containing some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. I gave it a coat of Briarville’s No Oxy Oil to preserve and protect it. I put the bowl and stem back together again and buffed it with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine on the meerschaum and the acrylic stem. The buffing also removes minute scratches in the two materials and adds depth to the shine. I gave the stem several coats of carnauba wax and the bowl multiple coats of Clapham’s Beeswax Polish. The Beeswax Polish is a soft wax that I can apply with a soft cotton pad and buff with a microfiber cloth. The pipe was alive now and looked great to me. It has a great feel in the hand that is very tactile and the patina should develop more deeply as the pipe is smoked. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This Lattice Meerschaum Calabash is a beauty that has great patina already. It should only deepen with time. It should make someone a great pipe. It is one that will be on the rebornpipes store very soon. If you are interested let me know. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.