Tag Archives: polishing

A Very Tired, Very Dirty Stanwell Bent Volcano with a cracked bowl

Blog by Steve Laug

Sometimes when I take in pipes for repair and restoration I am pretty stunned by the condition. This one obviously was an old favourite of the pipesmoker who brought it to me with 8 others in need of some TLC. I sat with him in my living room and went over the repair list of what needed to be done to bring it back to life. It had been restemmed before and the stem was good and heavy so it did not need to be replaced. There were tooth marks near the button on both sides of the stem. It had some deep oxidation that needed attention. Sometime in its life it had been buffed to the point that the stamping was all but gone on the underside of the shank. With a lens I could read Stanwell over Made in Denmark but all but one number of the shape number (1) was buffed away. The finish was sticky to touch from all the waxes and oils on the bowl. The sand blast was pretty worn away and now was shallow. The angled, tapered bowl had a thick cake and it had been reamed into almost an hour-glass shape. The rim top had an overflow of the tars on it and the blast was smooth. There was some damage on the front of the bowl from knocking the pipe out on something hard. There was a small crack on the left side of the bowl from the rim down about a 1/8 of an inch that would need to be repaired. From memory I knew that the bowl was drilled to follow the angle of the exterior of the bowl.When I turned the bowl over the bottom side was covered with cracks. There were four cracks of various sizes that did not go into the interior but rather sat on the surface of heel. They were all different in terms of depth and tended to follow the blast and cut across the ring grain. They were filled with grime and wax. The bottom of the bowl was a real mess.I took a close up photo of the rim to show the damage that had been done to it by reaming it with a knife rather than with a reamer. The cake was sticky and soft and what appeared to be an hourglass shape actually was not it followed the angled bowl walls. I was concerned that the inside of the bowl would also have cracks once the cake was removed. I recommended that we remove entire cake to assess the interior of the bowl. I also took a close up photo of the heel of the bowl to show the cracks.The stem was a replacement that was thick and well made. The fit against the shank was not too bad and there was little gap between the two parts. The stem was oxidized and there was come calcium build up on the first inch on both sides. There were tooth marks and tooth chatter on both sides of the stem near the button.The shank end shows how thick the buildup was inside of the shank. The tars and oils overflow the shank and show up on the end and walls. There were also two small holes drilled to the left and right of the mortise.I reamed the bowl with the PipNet reamer using the largest cutting head. Notice the angle of the cutting head as it shows the angle of the drilling of the bowl. I cleaned up the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall reaming knife.  I sanded the bowl with 180 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. The third photo below shows the bowl after it has been sanded. I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to remove the grime and the finish. The grime and oils came off the walls of the bowl and bowl sides and bottom to prepare the bowl for the repairs to the cracks. I drilled each end of all of the cracks with a microdrill bit on a Dremel. There were about 9 holes in the bottom of the bowl and two on the left side at the end of the shank.I put clear super glue into the cracks and pressed it down with a dental pick. I pressed briar dust into the glue and then put more dust in the glue and then more glue on top of the repair to seal it.I used a dental burr on the Dremel to rusticated the repaired areas on the bottom of the bowl and side to match them to the sand blast finish. I knocked off the rough areas of the rustication with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it into the surrounding finish. The photos show the progress of this process. With the exterior cracks repaired and sealed I turned to work on the internals. The airway in the shank and the mortise was absolutely a mess. I used the drill bit from the KleenReem pipe reamer to clean out the airway into the bowl from the mortise. It was almost closed off with the tars and oils. I turned the bit into the airway until it was smooth. I used a dental spatula to scrape out the inside of the mortise. The scraped tars and oils can be seen in the photos below.There were two small drilled holes in the end of the shank on both sides of the mortise. I filled them in with super glue and briar dust. I cleaned out the inside the mortise and shank with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until they came out clean.The bowl smelled strongly of old tobacco and there were oils in the briar walls. I wanted to remove that smell as much as possible. I stuffed two cotton balls into the bowl, set it in the ice cube tray and used an ear syringe to fill it with alcohol. I left it standing overnight while it pulled the oils out of the briar bowl. In the morning the cotton was stained a yellow brown.I recleaned the mortise and airways after it had soaked using alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners.I stained the repaired areas on the bowl with a dark brown stain. I used a black Sharpie Pen to fill in some of the grooves in the briar and then restained it. I flamed it with a lighter to set the stain.I buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to raise a shine on the bowl. The photos below show the repaired areas and the blending into the surrounding briar. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I cleaned out the slot with a dental pick and pulled a lot of built up tars from there. I used a sharp knife to bevel the end of the tenon to open the air flow to the slot. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to break up the oxidation and to also remove the tooth chatter and some of the tooth marks. Some of them were too deep and they would need to be repaired later. I cleaned out the inside of the stem with alcohol and cotton swabs to remove the buildup in the airway. The slot was very narrow and it was hard to push pipe cleaners through the airway. I decided to open up the slot with needle files to facilitate easier cleaning with pipe cleaners. I did not want to change the shape of the slot, but merely wanted to make it wider and tapered smoothly into the airway. I used both large and small round, oval and flattened oval files to shape the slot. Once I had it large enough for a pipe cleaner to pass through easily I folded a piece of sandpaper and sanded the inside of the slot. I sanded the stem around the button with 220 grit sandpaper and filled in the remaining tooth marks with black super glue. I set the stem aside to dry overnight. In the morning I sanded the stem with more 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repairs and blend them into the surface of the stem. I also reshaped the button and smoothed out the repairs I had made there. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil on a cloth to have a better look at where things were at. I noticed a small bubble in the patch on the underside of the stem once I had cleaned it so I put another drop of black superglue on it to fill it in. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads. After the final set of pads I set the stem aside and let the oil dry. I mixed up a batch of pipe mud – water and cigar ash – and applied it to the inside of the bowl to provide protection to the bare walls while a new cake is formed. When it dried I put the stem on the bowl and buffed it with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. Blue Diamond is a plastic polish that comes in a block. I load the buffing pad with it and polish the stem and the bowl. I use a light touch on the bowl so that I don’t load up the grooves and crevices with the polish. I gave the stem and bowl multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine to the finish. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The repairs on the bottom of the bowl blended in very well and those on the stem did also. This is the first of nine pipes that I am repairing for a guy who dropped them off at the house. It is ready for more years of service. Thanks for looking.




Refreshing a Tiny L&Co. Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

loewe1This is the final pipe of the lot of pipes I received from the pipe man in Eastern Canada who picked up an amazing lot an auction. The kind of price he paid makes me envious! This one is an older Loewe and Company graceful and diminutive pipe. It is stamped on the left side of the shank with L&Co. in an oval. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Loewe over England W.

When I received the pipe I took the following photos of it to give you the big picture of this tiny pipe. The stem was in good shape but had the most oxidation of the lot that was sent to me. There were small tooth marks and chatter on the stem near the button on both sides. The finish was dirty but in decent shape. The rim was worn and there were some dents and dings on the top surface. The inner edge of the bowl was slightly out of round. Someone had reamed the pipe back to bare wood but the internals were very dirty. loewe2 loewe3I took a close up photo of the rim to show its condition. The finish was worn on the rim as well as darkened and dented. You can see the damage to the inner edge of the bowl as well.loewe4The next two photos show the oxidation on the stem. It is hard to see the tooth chatter and marks but they are present and will need to be dealt with.loewe5I also took some photos of the stamping. While not perfect you can read the stamps quite well and see the details that I mentioned above.loewe6Knowing that the rest of the pipes that I have cleaned up from this lot came from the 1930’s there is a good chance that this one did as well. While I have a few Loewe’s in my own collection I have never done any research on the brand and know very little about them. I figured now was a good time to learn. I Googled and found the cakeanddottle website listed below. It has some amazing information on Loewe pipes and I have included that information here for ease of use.


Loewe is my favorite pipe maker. How to rank them in terms of the many great London made pipes of their era? For me in the simplest of subjective terms, Loewe pipes from before the Civic era are like Comoy’s, but even better. After Civic took over in 1964 I suppose the quality of Loewe was very comparable to a lower end GBD, which means they were still ok pipes but not up to previous standards. But those earlier pipes…to me they’re just as good as it gets.

A shape catalog that is very, very English, outdated by today’s standards for all but the most ardent Anglophile. Stems that mirrored the fantastic cut of a Comoy’s hand cut stem, with the added bonus that the earlier pipes had stems using a softer vulcanite. Almost rubbery, like Charatan Double Comfort stems, or for a modern comparison, like the very soft ebonite Dolly Wood cuts Ferndown stems from. The one modern Dunhill I have that doesn’t have a Cumberland stem has a similarly nice, soft vulcanite stem. Just a joy to clamp between your teeth.

There is not a ton of material around on these great old pipes, and there aren’t too many of them to be had compared to the other English marques from the period. One thing I’ve noticed is most of the old Loewes you see look rode hard and put up wet, which tells me that their owners loved them and smoked them, which is the highest praise any brand can gain.

The following is an outline for placing your Loewe pipe within an approximate range of years, gained from what little I’ve found on the web and the experience I’ve gained from buying them.

1856-1920 early Haymarket era

dating via hallmarks on pipes with silver

1920-1955 middle Haymarket era

left shank

L&Co. (in oval)

right shank

Loewe London W.

underside of shank

shape name Made in England (encircled) this may just have been on export pipes

*Prior to 1955 Loewe had no series, stamping only the shape name on the underside of the shank. I have seen one Military marked with the series name Haymarket, which does not appear in any Loewe literature I’ve seen and could have preceded the introduction of series names for a brief period.

**Loewe had three special grades, in descending order, Extra Grain, Straight Grain and Special Grain. These grades superseded the shape name on the underside of the shank. These were Loewe’s finest pipes and produced in very limited numbers. These grades continued either up til or into the Civic era. They are the Loewe equivalent of Comoy’s Specimen, Selected Straight Grain and Blue Riband series. I do not know whether these pipes were made prior to 1955 or only from 1955 and on.

1955-1964 late Haymarket era

left shank

L&Co. (in oval)

***series name

right shank

Loewe London W.

underside of shank

shape name

***the original three series are introduced in 1955; Centurion, Original and Old English.

I’ve seen Haymarket era Loewes with and without a bevel on the rim. Similarly, the tenon of Haymarket era Loewes can have a step in it or be straight. It does seem that all later pipes have a step in the tenon, but I have seen pipes that were clearly Haymarket era both ways.

In the case of Extra Grain, Straight Grain and Special Grain pipes, there was no shape name on the underside of the shank. These pipes featured the grade and an encircled Made in England underneath instead.

1964-1967 early Civic era

left shank

L&Co. (in oval)

series name

right shank

Loewe London W.

Tricky because the stamping is exactly as late Haymarket era pipes. We have to look for the new series names on these pipes to know they’re from this period, but that doesn’t always work because Civic continued to produce Originals and Centurions during this time.

Civic era Originals and Centurions can be identified by the step in their tenons.

Sometime during the Civic era, the three series were expanded to six, with the addition of Standard, Spigot and Mounted series. I have also seen several Civic era Loewes stamped with the series Great Britain, but I’ve never seen it mentioned elsewhere. I do not know how long the original three series continued to be stamped on shanks and it’s possible there are Civic examples but I haven’t seen one.

In addition, the collector familiar with Haymarket era pipes will instantly see and feel the difference in quality these early Civic era pipes present. Think of these pipes as transition period Barlings, ok but nowhere near up to previous standards.

1967-1978 late Civic era

three digit shape numbers instead of shape names

1978-present Cadogan era

****dating via hallmarks on pipes with silver

three digit shape numbers instead of shape names as with late Civic era pipes

The Lucite and Filigree series were introduced during the Cadogan era.

These pipes also have the Comoy’s encircled Made in England, a dead giveaway for Cadogan Loewes.

****Les Wood did all of the silver work for Cadogan from 1979 to 2007, and Loewes with silver bands made during this period received hallmarks, facilitating easy dating . The inclusion of hallmarks was at the request of Cadogan, as Les does not hallmark his own pipes or the work he’s done for Dunhill, Ashton and Upshall.


During the Haymarket era Loewe produced seconds under the stamping Haymarket pipes. These had two digit shape numbers and look to be a nice quality second, comparable to how close Royal Sovereigns were to the Orlik propers they were second to.

Later, I believe during the Civic stewardship, Loewe produced seconds under the Beefeater stamp. These turn up more frequently and you see them on eBay from time to time.

As more or better info becomes available, I will edit this post, and please, if you note anything incorrect contact me so I can make the necessary changes.

I also read a thread on the Pipes Magazine forum regarding Loewe’s pipes. I quote a section of the discussion that was written by Al Jones who writes on rebornpipes.


Capt: check with Mike (CakeandDottle) over on the SmokersForums, he is the Lowe expert. From what I’ve read on his posts about Loewe the Haymarket era pipes are the most desirable. Here are some Loewe tidbits Mike passed to me. Your two-digit pipe shape is consistent with a Haymarket pipe.

  • Haymarket era pipes do not have three digit shape numbers.
  • Will have L&Co on right side of shank, or underneath on blasts.
  • Will have Loewe London W on left side of shank.
  • Will have L&Co stamped on right side of stem.
  • Can have Original, Centurion or Old English stamped under the L&Co.
  • Can have Extra Grain or Special Grain stamped on underside of shank, along with Made in England encircled.
  • Can have straight or beveled rims.
  • Will have a “feel” to them that lets you know you are holding a pipe that is way above average, even by London made standards. Grain is generally even better than Comoy’s equivalent grades.
  • Will have substantial looking and feeling stem work.
  • Will not have fills.

Another site is http://pipepages.com/loewedan1.html

From the collected information above, I can safely say that I am dealing with a Haymarket Era pipe. It has the L&Co logo in an oval on the left side of the shank. It has Loewe over London W stamped on the right side of the shank. There is not a shape name or line stamped on the underside of the shank. The stamping matches the description that given by CakeandDottle under the 1920-1955 Middle Haymarket Era. This would put it in the same time frame as the other pipes that I have restored for the Eastern Canada pipe man.

I reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to clean up the inside of the bowl. The bowl had already been reamed and there were only slight remnants of a cake in the bowl.loewe7With the bowl clean I used a 1500 grit micromesh sanding pad to smooth out the rim and take off the carbon buildup on top. It also worked to take off the scratches in the briar.loewe8I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the out of round rim and bevel that were present. It did not take too much sanding and it looked as good as new.loewe9I used a dark brown stain pen to touch up the rim. The colour of the stain was a perfect match to the colour of the stain on the bowl. I stained the bevel and the top of the rim.loewe10I cleaned out the inside of the mortise and the airways in the shank and the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. The pipe was quite dirty in these areas and took a bit of scrubbing to get the grit out of the airways.loewe11I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and the tooth marks and chatter. Several of them were quite deep so I “painted” the tooth marks with the flame of the lighter to lift them to the surface of the stem. They all raised to the surface and a bit of sanding smoothed out the damage.loewe12I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads. I set the stem aside to dry.loewe13 loewe14 loewe15I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the minute scratches that still remained in the vulcanite and the finish of the briar. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and then hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This evening I packed the pipes and sent them Express Post back to the pipe man in Eastern Canada. I am hoping he enjoys his “new” pipes and adds them to his rotation. Cheers. Thanks for looking.loewe16 loewe17 loewe18 loewe19 loewe20 loewe21 loewe22 loewe23 loewe24


An old Sasieni Sashar London Made 901 Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

The third pipe I worked on from the pipe man in Eastern Canada who picked up that old lot at an auction is one that is stamped on the left side of shank with the name Sashar over London Made. On the right side of the shank it is stamped with the shape number 901. The rim was worn and whoever cleaned the pipe before I got it removed a lot of the finish. The inner bevel of the rim had a burned area on the right front side. The outer edges of the bowl were worn. The stem was good quality vulcanite and had light oxidation and tome tooth marks on both sides of the stem near the button. The inside of the shank and the stem was very dirty with tars and oils. There was a stinger in the tenon that extended into the bottom of the bowl. There was a light cake in the bowl that would need to be cleaned up as well.sas1 sas2I remembered that the Sashar line was made by Sasieni. I could not remember any other information on the brand. I did a Google search and found that there was a write up on rebornpipes – go figure. I looked and it was a blog that Al Jones wrote on a Sashar pipe that he worked on. Here is the link https://rebornpipes.com/2016/12/19/sasieni-sashar-restoration/.

I did some more searching and found a short writeup on Wesley’s – a pipe shop in South Africa about the pipe brand. It was under a heading there entitled SASIENI. I quote from that site the following: “Joel Sasieni started as an apprentice with Charatan, moved to Dunhill when it opened in 1910, and started his own company in London in 1918 making high grade pipes largely for the US market. They also manufactured pipes under the brand name Sashar (specifically for South Africa) for pipes a little down the line. The company was sold in 1979 and the pipes are now made by a completely different firm.” http://www.wesleys.co.za/refurb04.html

Now I had a bit of information on the brand. It was a Sasieni made pipe manufactured under the Sashar brand name for South Africa. Armed with that information I turned to working on the pipe. I took close up photos of the rim top and inner edge as well as the tooth marks on the stem. In the photo of the bowl you can see the damage on the inner edge of the bowl. The bowl was slightly out of round and there was a burn mark evident mid rim on the right side of the bowl.sas3 sas4In order to clean out the airway in the stem I needed to remove the inner tube from the tenon. I heated it with a lighter until the oils and tars holding it in place warmed up. I wrapped the jaws on a pair of pliers and used it to turn the inner tube out of the tenon. With the tube removed I was able to clean out the airway without impediment.sas5I used a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper to rework a bevel on the inner edge of the bowl. Once I had the bevel cut I worked on it again with 220 grit sandpaper and 1500 grit micromesh sanding pads. I rolled a piece of 220 grit sandpaper into a tube and wrapped it around a dowel and then my finger to sand the inside of the bowl and clean up the remaining cake on the walls.sas6 sas7I used a dark brown stain pen to restain the top of the rim and the inner and outer edge of the bowl. I spot coloured it with a black Sharpie pen and blended the two together to get the finish to match the rest of the bowl.sas8I used a wet cloth and a butter knife to steam out the dents in the back side of the bowl. I heated the knife in the flame of the burners on my kitchen stove. When hot, I folded a wet towel against the dents in the briar and laid the hot knife on the wet cloth. It generated a fair amount of steam. I repeated the process until the dents were lifted.sas9 sas10I used 99% isopropyl alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners to clean out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem. They were not too dirty so it took very few cleaners to clean it. Once the stem was clean I put the inner tube back in place in the tenon.sas11I sanded the tooth chatter on the stem at the button with 220 grit sandpaper to remove it and the few tooth marks that were also present on both sides of the stem near the button.sas12I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads. After the last set of pads I gave it a final coat of oil and let it sit and dry.sas13 sas14 sas15I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the briar and the vulcanite. I gave them both multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is ready to go back to its owner in Eastern Canada. Thanks for looking.sas16 sas17 sas18 sas19 sas20 sas21 sas22 sas23

Another Wedding Trip Pick: A 1961 DUNHILL EK Shell Briar Made in England 1 4S

Blog by Dal Stanton

Unbelievably, I found this classic Dunhill EK Shell Briar at Madeline’s Antiques & Uniques during the trip for our daughter’s wedding in the US last November. Madeline’s was one of those picker paradises waiting on the I 24 Exit near Manchester, TN, that thankfully, we did not drive past! I had pleasure restoring and gifting our youngest son on Christmas in Denver, the Aged Imported Briar Poker (Red Dot) pictured below on the bottom (See: Link) and the restored Poker’s picture following. Now, shift two pipes above the Poker in the picture below, and you’ll see the Dunhill EK Shell Briar that now has my attention after rescuing him from my ‘Help Me!’ basket here in Sofia, Bulgaria.dal1 dal2At 5 3/4 inches in length, it is a nicely sized square shanked paneled billiard – a very nicely blasted Dunhill Shell pipe.  The stampings are worn but legible on the lower panel of the squared shank.  On the left quadrant, it reads, “Dunhill” over “EK Shell Briar”.  The right reads, “Made In” over “England 1”. Then, to the extreme right on the shank’s edge is 4 ensconced in a circle followed by S.  On the top panel of the squared, tapered stem is embedded the well-known Dunhill white dot – a mark of excellence since 1915.

In 1915, the famous white spot was introduced for very practical concerns. With straight pipes, customers had trouble knowing which way to insert the handmade vulcanite mouthpieces. So, Alfred Dunhill ordered white spots to be placed on the upper side of the stem. This very practical solution would become a definitive trademark of Dunhill pipes. The “white spot” soon became known as a symbol of quality. (Link to Pipedia’s history for Dunhill)

This is my first opportunity to research Dunhill to understand better the heritage of the pipe on my work table.  There is much information about Dunhill on the internet, which is nidal3ce change.  My impressions of the founder, Alfred Dunhill, are that he was a talented and creative businessman, who understood well that a quality product would create a financial boon along with understanding the ‘needs’ of a market.  Per Pipedia, in 1893, he inherited a harness business at only age 21, but was savvy enough to see the approaching reality of the automobile and he leveraged his company to prepare for it. He started, “Dunhill Motorities” to capitalize on this new industry. His first experiment in pipe making was to accessorize for the ‘new’ and sophisticated needs of those now driving cars which were faster than horse and carriage.  To me, this epitomizes Alfred Dunhill’s approach to business and perhaps, to life as well. With wind in the faces of potential customers, he birthed the idea of marketing a pipe with a windshield! We laugh, but this says something about the man who guided his company through the Great Depression when many pipe manufacturers were closing their door.  Dunhill expanded.  The Pipedia synopsis describes the world-wide growth of Dunhill Pipes and their association with quality – the preferred pipe of the rich and famous and the aristocracy.  This ‘market share’ was due in part to Alfred Dunhill’s practice of giving pipes to the English military officers during WW1.  Altruism or good marketing?  During that time the aristocracy of England was awarded military commissions by birth-right.  Dunhill was a smart businessman, there’s little doubt of this.  I also read that it was Alfred Dunhill who kept Winston Churchill well-supplied in cigars.  Another interesting thing I saw as I did my research was threads and discussions arguing why Dunhill pipes are more expensive than most?  Quality or overrating based upon a name?  This Pipe Magazine thread is one example.

The largest part of my curiosity regarding Dunhill is to understand better the creation of the ‘Sand Blast’ finish, or as it’s called in Dunhill Land, Shell.  In my diminutive time rescuing and restoring pipes, I’ve never had clarity in my mind about the differences between blasted and rustified surfaces – and variations therein.  These distinctions are clear to most enthusiasts in pipe collecting and restoration but I’ve been a bit slow on the uptake!  I’m looking at the Dunhill Shell Briar – my first thought had been that it must have something to do with shells on a sea shore….  This small article was especially helpful from the same Pipedia page:


A deep craggy sandblast with a black stain finish. Dunhill patented the sandblast finish in England in 1917 (Patent No. 1484/17) and the U.S. in 1920 (Patent No. 1,341,418). See The Art of Sandblasting, by R.D. Field, for in depth look at Dunhill’s revolutionary new finish. The deepest and craggiest finishes were from Algerian briar, which is softer and yields more to the blasting. These are found in circa 1920’s, 1940’s, and 1960’s Shells. The pipes were double blasted until the 1960’s, and then the double blast technique resumed in the 1980’s calling it the “Deep Shell” finish. During the 1960’s and 70’s Dunhill could not acquire the Algerian briar. Consequently, the company’s sandblast pipes were much shallower and less distinct. Once again Dunhill showed itself to be innovative, inventing the “double blast” technique to bring about a deeper blast even with harder briar. The black shell sandblast finish uses a stain the was developed for the color, not the taste. They have a more bitter taste, even when well smoked.

Now I have it.  The knowledge that blasting highlights briar grain by removing softer wood through the process has changed how I now look at the surface of a blasted pipe or with Dunhill, a Shell pipe.  ‘Shell’ reportedly came from observations of the earliest experiments with sand blasting briar shapes – they were shriveled and looked like a ‘shell’ – that is, a shadow of their former states.  Even with the limited number of restorations I’ve done to date, it is obvious that I thoroughly love and enjoy working on smooth briars, simply for the challenge and delight of witnessing the beauty of briar grain appear.  Now, I study the Dunhill EK Shell Briar with a new appreciation for a different perspective on the same beautiful grains but revealed via blasting.  So much for my reflections!  Here are pictures of the Dunhill I’ve been reflecting upon!dal4 dal5 dal6 dal7 dal8 dal9Before I begin the restoration work, one last tick on the research list – the nomenclature.  The two pictures above show the markings on the lower shank panel.  I admit, when I first started trying to make sense of the plethora of information on Dunhill dating, it was daunting and a bit confusing, but as I looked at R.D. Fields’ A Dunhill Pipe Dating Guide published in Pipedia, Pipephil’s unbelievable charts, and tooling through all the examples of Dunhill nomenclature exemplified year-by-year, and also Pipephil’s, Dunhill Dating Key – pieces started coming together.  Reborn Pipe’s reposting of Eric Boehm’s Dunhill Shapes Collated was helpful as well.  When I first looked at the pictures above, I had missed the ‘E’ of the EK Shell Briar which is barely legible due to the wear next to the heel of the stummel.  Boehm’s information about ‘EK’ shape was: “Quaint Shape” Hexagonal panel billiard, square shank, angled tapered bit “Stand-up” 1928.  The EK Hexagonal panel is interesting in that a hexagon has 6 sides.  Over the years, this shape may have added more angled variety.  This EK is either squared if you only count the 4 major panels, but it is possible when including the tapered, smaller panels creating the corners, 8 panels are encircling this stummel.  The Pipephil Dunhill Shape Code chart calls the EK a square panel and provides an example of an EK 1958.  The markings are:

EK = Square Panel (shape letters)

4 (in circle) = Bowl Size

S – material: Shell or sand blasted

The dating of this pipe is 1961, based upon the suffix number ‘1’ following ‘England 1’.  Clear? Starting in 1955, Dunhill stopped including the full patent number in the nomenclature.  So, for Dunhills without the patent number, if the number following the ‘England’ is 5-0 (underlined or a subscript) then it would be the year 1950 + X = Year.  So, a Dunhill having ‘England 5’ is from 1955.  With the 1960s the system changed to 1960 being the base starting point with suffix numbers added to ‘England’ that were not underlined or subscripted, but the same size as the D in England.  Are you confused – I was, but it finally became clear.  The dating suffix in the picture above is ‘England 1’ which indicates a dating of 1960 +1 = a 1961 dating!  If I had an ‘England 24’ it would be dated 1984.  I found another EK Shell Briar on this finished eBay listing which was “London 8” – 1968.dal10

Pipe Pages had this example of an Owl Catalogue of 1962 with a picture of the same EK shape in the center but its dating would look like this: “England 2”.  I don’t know if this makes it clearer, but I am thankful for Dunhill dating his pipes!

With a new appreciation for Dunhill, and the EK Shell Briar, Made in England 1, 4S, before me, I hope that I can recommission this pipe for another lifetime and to serve another steward!  The stummel generally looks good – it needs to be cleaned thoroughly – the internals and the blasting.  The cake in the chamber needs to be removed to the briar to allow a fresh start and to examine the chamber wall.  The rim is seriously caked with oils and lava flow and the rim has a small chip on the shank-side panel which will need coloring and blending.  The lower shank panel with the Dunhill nomenclature is already worn – I will clean the area but stay clear of any abrasives.  I thought I detected a crack in at the 4 o’clock mark looking at the shank, but with a closer look, thankfully it is grain and not a crack!  The stem is the challenge.  The oxidation is heavy and needs to be removed.  The button has a bite-through on the lower side that breaches the lip.  The button will need rebuilding and the hole patched.  I remove the stem from the shank and put a pipe cleaner through the airway and plop it in an Oxi-Clean bath to start addressing the heavy oxidation.dal11With the stummel, I take the Pipnet Reaming Kit to address the cake build-up in the chamber. I take another picture of the cake to mark the progress.  For easier clean-up, I always put down a double layer of paper towel to catch the exorcised carbon.  I use the two smallest blades of the 4 available to me to ream the chamber.  Starting with the smallest, then the next larger size.  After this, to fine tune the reaming, I use the Savinelli Pipe Knife by scraping the walls further.  Then, wrapping 240 grit paper around a Sharpie Pen, I sand the walls to remove the smallest traces of carbon and to bring the chamber again to briar.  I finish by using a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% and wipe the chamber to remove the carbon dust. After inspection, the chamber walls show no sign of burning through though I do detect heat fissures that are not serious, but need attention in the last stages of the restoration.  The pictures show the reaming process and inspection questions.dal12 dal13 dal14 dal15Before moving to the external cleaning, I tackle the internals – using cotton swabs and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% I clean the inside airway.  The resistance is significant so I take a drill bit, the size of the airway, and ream and scrape it – trying to dislodge the gunk and bring it out.  I continue with cotton swabs and pipe for some time – also utilizing sharp and spaded dental probes to reach and scrape into the mortise.  After some time, the pipe cleaners started returning less soiled.  I’m calling the frontal siege completed, but at the close of the day, I will commence the Trojan Horse attack to further clean the internals with a Salt and Alcohol soak.   The pictures show the progress.dal16Now to the externals.  Using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap, I scrub the rim and blast surface using cotton pads and a bristled tooth brush to get into the crags and crevices.  I also use a brass wire brush on the rim to loosen the crusting.  The brass wire will not harm the briar. dal17Ridding the rim of the lava crust reveals several nicks and bare briar around the rim panels.  I also note that there are several places along the shank/stem junction that have lightened because of wear.  I use furniture repair markers starting with the lightest hue (Maple) and methodically start touching the rim spots as well as around the shank.  When the ‘scarring’ or lightened areas are still evident, I graduate to the next darker brown hue, then a third stick darker still.  Looking for the blending to occur.  As I go, I have a cotton pad lightly dampened with alcohol to wipe the areas gently to create more blending of the dyed areas along the rim and shank.  The first 3 pictures show the problems (forgot to picture the shank!) and the last 3 after using the dye sticks.dal18 dal19 dal20 dal21With the stummel repairs completed, I give the internals more cleaning and freshening.  I put the stummel in the egg carton and fill the bowl with Kosher Salt and twist a cotton ball and stuff it down the mortise, to help draw out the left-over gunk.  I then fill the bowl slowly with isopropyl 95% until it reaches the level of the salt.  I put it stummel aside and let the salt/alcohol soak to do its thing.dal22With the stummel soaking, I fish the stem out of the Oxi-clean bath.  The bath did a good job causing the olive greenish oxidation to rise to the surface.  Using 600 grit paper, I wet sand the stem taking off the raised oxidation.  I follow this with using 0000 steel wool – removing more oxidation and shining and smoothing the vulcanite stem.  I’m careful to avoid sanding over the shoulders of the stem to round off the squared shank.  The pictures show the progress.dal23I turn now to the internal stem airway using pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%.  As hoped, the resistance was little and the pipe cleaners were coming through the airway and emerging clean. dal24With clean internals, what remains is to rebuild the button and patch the bite-through hole from the former stewards clinching.  I create a slot insert using an index card cut to fit and then covered with slick scotch tape – the plastic looking kind.  This will keep the charcoal-superglue putty from sticking to the insert.  The insert serves two purposes.  First, it protects the airway from putty dripping down and plugging things which would add significantly to the work load!  It also provides the form underneath the hole to shape the fill.  I open a capsule of activated charcoal on an index card and I mix it with Hot Stuff Special ‘T’ CA glue – after I place a puddle of it next to the charcoal.  Gradually, I pull charcoal into the puddle of CA glue using a toothpick until I reach a viscosity of molasses and then strategically I dollop the putty in to the tooth hole and around the button – more than needed so that during the sanding phase there’s enough material to shape the button adequately.  Just as an experiment, I’m putting the putty on a bit wetter than usual and use an accelerator to cure it more rapidly.  I want to see if the result might be fewer air pockets in the patch material.  The pictures show the progress with the button patch and rebuild.dal25 dal26 dal27After a fruitful day at work, I’m anxious to return to the worktable.  The Kosher Salt and alcohol bath has run the course and as expected, the salt has darkened and the cotton stuffed into the mortise has acted as a ‘wick’ drawing out the oils and tars – thank you Charles Lemon of Dad’s Pipes for the suggestion of using cotton rather than a cork.  It worked well.  After dumping the salt, I wipe the chamber with a paper towel to remove all the residue salt.  I also employ bristle brushes to clean out the mortise to remove all the old used salt.  Then I return to using some cotton swabs and pipe cleaners down the mortise and they came out clean. Job done.  The pictures show the progress.dal28Many of the pipes I’ve been restoring have had significant stem issues – splicing the L J Peretti, and several button rebuilds have come my way.  I like to think I’m getting more practice resulting in better results!  So is the hope.  I take fresh pictures, top and bottom, of the patched area using activated charcoal dust and Special ‘T’ CA glue to mark the progress.  Beginning from the slot-side, I use a sanding drum with the Dremel to remove quickly the large hunk of runover.   Then, using a flat needle file, I work toward bringing the new edge of the button to where the original slot is.  After this is accomplished, I carefully file inside the slot to shape it. Care is given because the lower slot lip in the center, is 100% patch fill from the tooth hole breaching the slot.  The patch material tends to be softer than the vulcanite so the center – lower area of the slot may be soft and give up too much territory as I file.  I gently (and patiently!) use the small circular part of a pointed needle file to shape the inner part of the slot.  It looks good.  Pictures show the progress to establishing the new rough slot.dal29 dal30 dal31Now I establish the upper edge of the shank-side of the button lip.  I do this by eyeballing a logical place to have the lip – maybe giving me a little more lip than needed now – I can always file it down, but can’t file it up! I place a score in the patch bulge with the corner edge of the flat needle then gradually file the score across the button and moving downward toward the original stem surface.  As I file with the flat needle file, I keep the left edge of the file off the stem and lean into the patch area. I don’t want to scar up the stem for no reason!  Pictures show the gradual, patient shaping process with the file.dal32 dal33With the top shape-out completed with the file, I flip the stem and repeat the process on the bottom side.  I follow the button line from the top to the bottom by continuing to score the line around the excess on the stem edges, filing and rounding the button on the left and right.  I use the stem’s lines on the left and right sides, coming from the shank-side to create the line through the left and right side of the button.  At the end, it’s a smooth transition on the sides from the stem’s sides to/though the button’s sides. I picture what I’m attempting to explain in the last picture in this set below.  I’m also careful to uncover gradually the tooth hole patched area in the center bottom.  I expect the patch area to be softer than the vulcanite and I want the patch to blend.  The pictures show the progress on the lower side of the button.dal34 dal35The last two pictures show the completion of the button shaping upper then lower, using 240 grit paper followed by 600 grit paper and 0000 grade steel wool to catch the button repair area with the rest of the stem.  The button rebuild looks great and the hole patch is blending well.dal36 dal37At this point I take a close look at the patch area and I see some air pockets – not many, but some.  That cannot stand for the recommissioning of this 1961 Dunhill.  What comes to your mind when you reflect on 1961?  This is what I see, a ’61 Chevy with this Dunhill along for the ride!  Perhaps I need to acquire one of Alfred Dunhill’s Patent Shield Pipe too!dal38This Dunhill might be a good Birth Year Pipe for someone if I can give it up.  I take regular superglue and make a small puddle and use a toothpick to hole drop glue and paint some areas to fill the air pockets and I follow by spraying the fills with accelerator.  Following this, I sand the fill areas with 600 grit paper and then 0000 grade steel wool.  I declare button repair consummatum est! dal39 dal40 dal41I take the Dremel and finally fabricate a plastic washer to guard against sanding down the shoulders of the stem.  Using the washer with the stummel providing the resistance, I wet sand with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sand using the next set of 3200 to 4000, then 6000 to 12000.  I follow each set of three with an application of Obsidian Oil to revitalize the vulcanite.  My, this stem and Dunhill White dot are ready for the ’61 Chevy convertible!dal42 dal43I may have created a problem showing the ’61 Chevy paired with a British-born pipe.  So, I suppose this British made ’61 MGA Roadster would do OK in a pinch 🙂dal44With the micromesh phase completed, I turn again to the stummel.  Previously, I applied dye sticks to lightened wear areas to give a fresher look.  I look at the rim a little closer and it still appears crusty and black – lacking the light reddish speckling present in the rest of the stummel.  I lightly sand the rim with the 1500 micromesh pad and then use my pen knife and gently scrape the top.  I only remove the crust on the sand blasted surface.  After scraping, I return to Murphy’s Oil Soap and with a brass brush, scrub the rim again and rinse with tap water.  I’m seeing a better contrast of hues now in the blast textured surface. I then take the darker hue stain stick and randomly paint portions of the rim to add more contrast and interplay and then lightly dab and wipe with a slightly wetted cotton pad with isopropyl 95% to blend.  I want to keep the original color of the EK Shell Briar and the look of a classic 1961 Dunhill.  The pictures show the progress.dal45 dal46Using a cotton cloth wheel, I apply Blue Diamond compound to the stummel.  I set the Dremel speed to 1, the slowest possible.  With the Dremel’s wheel, as small and concise as it is, I can rotate the stummel and guide the wheel so it’s going with grains – maneuvering in the peaks and valley of the Shell moonscape surface.  I don’t overload the wheel with compound and press with too much force downward, but allow the RPMs of the Dremel and the compound to do the work.  After completing the compound application, I hand-buff the stummel with a flannel cloth to remove the loose compound residue before applying the wax.   With the stem and stummel reunited, I give both several coats of carnauba wax.  I use a separate cotton cloth Dremel wheel dedicated to carnauba, I set the speed at 2, with 5 being the fastest setting.  As I did with the Blue Diamond, I utilize the strategic smallness of the Dremel’s wheel as I maneuver to distribute the carnauba wax without gunking up in the Shell textured surface.  Following the wax, I give the Dunhill a brisk hand-buff with a micromesh cloth.

One last need on the check-list before recommissioning this 56-year-old Dunhill.  After this many years of active service, heat fissures had developed in the chamber. I want to coat the chamber with a mixture that helps protect the briar while at the same time provides a temporary foundation for the cake to develop which will provide the long-term protection of the chamber briar.  I have heard, and repeat here, proper cake depth to be maintained is about the thickness of a US dime.  It would have been easier to do this before polishing the stummel, but I forgot until now.  No problem. dal47In the past, I’ve used a coating mixture of activated charcoal dust and sour cream (here on Reborn Pipes) – which works wonderfully and leaves no taste or smell – it is inert.  Since I don’t see any sour cream in the refrigerator, I decide to use the method that Charles Lemon uses which he described here on Dad’s Pipes using maple syrup and activated charcoal as the main ingredients.  Since we do not have maple syrup in Bulgaria (bummer!), Charles assured me after an emailed question, that honey, plentiful in Bulgaria, would serve well as a substitute.  Charles’ directions are straight forward, which I follow:

  1. Insert a pipe cleaner in the stem of the pipe to keep the airway open.
  2. Wipe maple syrup around the inside surfaces of the bowl. Try for a nice even layer.
  3. Pour activated charcoal powder into the bowl right up to the rim.
  4. Allow the pipe to sit for an hour or more. This gives time for a layer of charcoal powder to be absorbed by the syrup.
  5. Dump out the excess charcoal powder, remove the pipe cleaner from the stem.
  6. Now the hard part. LET THE PIPE SIT FOR 5-7 DAYS. The bowl coating will cure smooth and hard.
  7. After curing, your pipe is ready to go!

These pictures show the progress with the final picture a few hours after clearing the excess charcoal.  I will need to let the pipe sit now for 5 to 7 days for the bowl coating to fully cure, which will not be a problem! dal48 dal49 dal50I’m very pleased with the outcome of the stem/button repair.  There is no perceptible indication that there was a hole that breached the lower button lip.  The Shell Briar cleaned up well and shines with a rich, deep, brown/burgandyish textured shade.  When restoration began, I did not realize how I would grow to appreciate the name, “Dunhill” and the pipes bearing this respected name.  The debate will remain regarding Dunhill’s higher pricing – whether one is paying for only a name or for advanced excellence in a pipe.  I suspect that both are true.  After seeing the beauty of this 1961 Dunhill EK Shell Briar emerge, especially as he responded to the carnauba treatment, coupled with the solid feel of the 4-paneled, square billiard bowl, and the strong bearing of the squared shank transitioning into a squared stem that gracefully tapers to the button –  and, all is crowned with Alfred Dunhill’s happenstance white dot mark of excellence – and I agree, I am looking at a quality pipe.  I’m conflicted whether to keep this Dunhill, my first, or to put him up for adoption???  Oh well…. I sell my restorations with a special purpose.  The profits help the work we do with the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and children sexually exploited and trafficked.  This vintage 1961, Dunhill EK Shell Briar, Made in England 1, is ready to serve a new steward.  If you’re interested in adopting him and helping the Daughters, go to my blog site at The Pipe Steward Store and check it out.  Thanks for joining me!dal51 dal52 dal53 dal54 dal55 dal56


Renewing and restemming a La Strada Staccato Bent Pot

Blog by Steve Laug

This tired old La Strada came to me for repairs. It was in rough shape. The stem had been gnawed, broken and gnawed again. The finish was shot and covered in oils and grease to the point that it was hard to see the rope rustication around the bowl. The bowl had a thick crumbling cake and smelled heavily or aromatics. The lava from the bowl had flowed over the top of the rim and darkened the finish there. The outer edge of the rim was heavily damaged on the front left side and looked as if the bowl had been dropped. There were dents on the underside of the bowl as well from a similar event. The shank was so dirty that the stem would not fit into the mortise. I was able to get it in but the fit was not tight against the shank. The shank is slightly off round so the stem was slightly different.la1 la2The next photo is out of focus but the road rash on the bowl bottom is visible.la3I took a series of close up photos of the bowl and rim and the stem to show the condition of the pipe when I started. In the first photo you can see the thick crumbly cake and the damage to the rim surface and edges. It was hard to tell if the inner edge of the bowl was damaged and only after reaming would I be able to know for certain. The stem was a write off as the damage was too extensive to repair. The fit against the shank also warranted a new stem.la4 la5I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and went through the various cutting heads. I cleaned up the remaining cake in the bowl bottom with the Savinelli Pipe Knife. I took the cake completely out of the bowl and reamed it back to bare briar.la6I wiped down the surface of the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to remove the finish. It came off with a bit of scrubbing but there were places where it did not come off with the acetone. It would take some sanding to remove the totality of the finish.la7 la8The damage to the bowl top and outer edges required that I top the bowl. I gently topped it on the topping board so as not to remove too much and remove the smooth portion above the rope rustication on the top edge.la9I sanded the bowl and rim top with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge and took the following photos.la10 la11I cleaned out the internals of the shank and the replacement stem that I fit to the shank with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. It took a lot of scrubbing to get the mortise and the airway clean in the shank. The stem was in decent shape so it did not take too much work on it.la12I took some photos of the pipe at this point to get a feel for the look with the new stem in place.la13 la14I wrapped some sandpaper around a dowel and sanded the walls and bottom of the bowl. There was a ring at the bowl bottom that was grooved and needed to be smoothed out. It did not take a lot of sanding before the inside walls were smooth.la15I restained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain mixed 50/50 with isopropyl alcohol to approximate the original colour of the pipe and to highlight the grain on the pipe. I flamed the stain and repeated the process until the coverage was even around the bowl and rim.la16I buffed the bowl with White Diamond on the buffing wheel to even out the new finish and give it a bit of a shine. I took photos of the bowl at this point to give a clear picture of the new look.la17 la18Now all that remained was to finish the fit and polishing of the stem. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper until it fit the shank well. It took some adjusting of the diameter of the stem to match the slightly out of round shank. In the end it fit well. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads to give it a deep shine.la19 la20 la21I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the minute scratches on the vulcanite and on the briar. I buffed them both until the stem and briar glowed. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the bowl and stem with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is ready to go back to the pipe man who sent it to me for restemming and refurbishing. I think he will enjoy it and it will deliver a life time of good smokes to him. la22 la23 la24 la25 la26 la27 la28 la29 la30

Another Hole in the Wall find! Stanwell Silver Mount 85

Blog by Dal Stanton

I first laid my eyes on the Danish made, Stanwell Silver Mount a couple of weeks ago, not really knowing what I was seeing.  I was giving a tour to a new team member who had just arrived in Bulgaria.  As part of orientation I take ‘newbies’ on a tour of the center of Sofia – I sprinkle in a bit of history, architecture, politics, religion and culture as we stroll through the streets and boulevards.  The tour was also the perfect opportunity to showcase a ‘typical’ Bulgarian antique shop – I’m always looking for a way to drop by the ‘Hole in the Wall’ where I’ve landed several great pipes in past visits.  As my guest surveyed the shelves of stuff stacked on stuff, I went directly to THE basket, stuffed up into one area among the artifacts, where I started plucking through the newer offerings of pipes added since my last visit – since before Christmas.  I did spy a very nice unmarked Brandy shape with a hearty stummel.  When the shop owner diverted my attention, conspiratorially confiding that there was something he wanted me to see – my curiosity heightened.  He pulled the Stanwell out from a closed cabinet which always is an indicator of a treasure of greater value.  I left the Hole in the Wall with the pipe on my mind but not in my pocket. A week later, I returned to the Hole in the Wall with two other people as part of another tour.  This time, however, I wanted to see the Stanwell again – hoping it was still there.  It was.  This time I took pictures and dickered a bit, but again, left without a pipe.  I wanted to do some research on this Stanwell and send a note off to Steve to get his feedback, including some of the pictures I took at the Hole in the Wall.dress1dress2 dress3

His response was to the point: “That line of Stannies is a pricey one.  Nice find.”  Added to this was confirmation that the asking price was indeed very reasonable! That sealed the deal for me and with resolve (after receiving my wife’s blessings) I returned to the Hole in the Wall the next day and negotiated a favorable deal. Sweetening the transaction of the Stanwell was bundling the Brandy Unmarked I saw in the basket.  I’m a good customer and he agreed to a “good customer” price.  He was happy and I walked out of the Hole in the Wall this time with two nice pipes – but the Stanwell was the find pipe pickers place their hopes!

With my newest Hole in the Wall find now in front of me, I take more pictures for evaluation.  On the lower side of the shank is stamped Stanwell over Made in Denmark over Silver over Mount. Unfortunately, through wear or over-aggressive buffing, the ‘S’ of Stanwell and the “Ma” in Made in Denmark are very thin.  There is a shape number on the right side of the shank stamped 85 – I’ll need to research this to see if I can place this pipe with the plethora of information about Stanwell pipes on the internet.  Both the shank’s ferrule and the military or spigot mounted stem’s band, have 925 stamped – the world-wide authentication of sterling silver (.925).  What I did not see in the poor lighting of the Hole in the Wall, was that the mortise ferrule also had Stanwell stamped in the sterling.  The silver inlaid crowned “S” stem cartouche is in good shape.  The acrylic stem has many scuffs and nicks and tooth chatter near the button.  The rim and bowl surfaces also are nicked and dented a good bit.  As a matter of personal taste, I am not too partial to the black finish that hides the briar grain.  These pictures fill in the gaps.dress4 dress5 dress6 dress7 dress8 dress9 dress10My first time dealing with a Stanwell pipe was with a second – a Danske Club Vario, a very nice pipe also landed at the Hole in the Wall.  Pipedia’s article describes the beginning of the well-known Danish pipe making company, Stanwell:

At the end of the war, briar became available again, so Nielsen began importing his own briar and started making briar pipes to compete with the English manufacturers. It must be remembered that in 1948, England was the single great center for pipe making. Therefore, Nielsen changed the name of his pipes to “Stanwell”, which sounded much more like a proper English name than “Nielsen”. He also created the horse-drawn carriage logo for its English connotations. He later changed his own last name from Nielsen to Stanwell, a testament to his devotion to the pipes he made. Stanwell’s relationships with Danish pipe makers goes back to Sixten Ivarsson, who is considered the originator of modern Danish pipe making. Ivarsson was commissioned to design Stanwell shapes. In 1969, the factory was moved to a town called Borup, just outside of Copenhagen to be closer to Ivarsson.

To establish the date of this Stanwell Silver Mount style, thanks to Bas Stevens’ extensive compilation of Stanwell pipe shapes posted on Rebornpipes, the shape number 85 is listed as a bent billiard which was discontinued in 2006 (changed to shape number 246).  I also found the Silver Mount style featured in two Stanwell catalogs listed in Pipedia’s collection.  One ‘Brochure by the Lorup Group’ displayed samplings of the Silver Mount style but I could not establish the date of the brochure.  The other was a Russian catalog of Stanwell offerings including Silver Mounts dated 2001.  This pipe could predate 2001 but the latest possible dating would be 2006 when the shape number was discontinued.  Since Stanwell closed the doors of their manufacturing operations in Denmark and moved it to Italy in 2009 (link above), this confirms the Danish origin of the pipe.  The Silver Mount style is unique, not only because it provides two large sterling silver adornments to the classic bent billiard shape – a shank ferrule and stem band insert, but it creatively immolates a military or spigot stem mount.  I found two different comments on SmokingPipes.com about Stanwell’s Silver Mount line.  The first highlighted Stanwell’s Silver Mount shape 85:

If you like the look of a military or spigot mount but prefer a more conventional tenon/mortise arrangement, this Stanwell offers both — along with an elegant, graceful silhouette and plenty of chamber to boot.

Of the stem style itself, there was this comment, that even though not a true military mount, since it has a tenon instead of a tapered fit, it nonetheless is one of the best faux-military mounts this observer had seen.  The sense I have of the pipe’s design is that it is an interesting mixture of higher class elegance with the ample showcase of sterling silver, but with the military/spigot stem style a ruggedness is also introduced.  My challenge now is to help this Stanwell, a ‘knight in shining armor’, regain its former glory!  The sterling silver ferule mounted on the shank is easily removed.  This will help the ease of the stummel’s cleanup.  The chamber in this billiard is large with a depth measurement of 1 3/4 inches and width of 7/8 inches – a good long smoker able to pack a bowl of one’s favorite blend.  The chamber is lightly caked but I want to clean it down to fresh briar.  I do this with my Savinelli pipe knife working over a paper towel for easy disposal of the carbon.  The reaming did not take long. Then I take a rolled piece of 240 grit sanding paper wrapped around both my index finger and then a Sharpie pen and sand the chamber wall.  I finish the bowl cleaning by using a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% and wash the chamber.  The fire chamber looks good – I see no problems.  The pictures show the progress.dress11 dress12 dress13With isopropyl 95% on the work table, I turn directly to cleaning the stummel internals.  Using pipe cleaners, Q-tips dipped in alcohol, I work cleaning the mortise.  Using the flat edge of a dental spade, I scrape the sides of the mortise walls cleaning the tars and gunk.  The Q-tips and pipe cleaners are doing the job.  Later, I will also give the stummel a Kosher salt and alcohol soak to freshen the internals even more.  On a roll, I take the acrylic stem and clean the internals with pipe cleaners and Q-tips in the 9mm tenon area with alcohol.  There was little resistance.  With a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl, I also give the stem’s and mortise’s sterling silver an initial cleaning and polishing.  The progress is shown.dress14 dress15With internals finished, I take another look at the stummel and take a few close-ups looking closely at the surface and rim.  As I said earlier, personally, I’m not a fan of the solid black finish.  My standing ovations are roused by gazing upon natural briar grains!  In my research looking into the Silver Mount line of Stanwell in catalogs, I came across a similar Stanwell line called the, ‘Silhouette Pipe’, featuring several different shapes with the same black finish.dress16 dress17 dress18 dress19My plan is to remove the black finish and repair the stummel and rim surfaces, then apply a darker stain that is essentially black, but allowing the grain to be seen.  This will maintain the sleek, dark look of the bent billiard and continue to set it off in sharp contrast to the sterling silver ferrule and band along with the classic silver crowned ‘S’ Stanwell inlaid silver cartouche. With this plan before me, I use acetone to remove the finish.  Not knowing how tough the finish will stand, I start with a cotton pad wetted with acetone and see how the work progresses.  The cotton pads wetted with acetone are not making much progress so I add the gentle abrasion of 0000 steel wool.  I am careful to avoid the nomenclature on the lower part of the shank as well as the shape number.  With these areas, I only use cotton pads and a bristled tooth brush, acetone and a lot of elbow grease.  I do not want to erode the stampings!  As the black finish gradually gives way, I’m amazed that Stanwell covered such a beautiful piece of briar!  The straight grains travel vertically up the bowl from the heel of the stummel which holds a nest of bird’s eye grain – the whole effect is like a camp fire flowing upward from the fire pit. dress20 dress21 dress22With the black finish removed, I’m able to see some small pin hole pitting exposed on the surface.  To address this, I use a medium grade sanding sponge followed by a light grade sanding sponge to remove most of the pitting as well as nicks that remained on the rim.  The pictures show the progress.dress23 dress24With the initial stummel prep complete, I decide to use the Kosher Salt and alcohol soak to clean the internal airway and mortise more fully.  Using Kosher salt (versus iodized which can leave an after-taste) I fill the bowl and then after corking the shank opening, I hold my palm over the bowl and give the stummel a shake.  This displaces the salt a bit into the mortise. I then pour isopropyl 95% into the bowl until it fills just over the level of the salt.  I put the stummel in an egg crate for stability and put it aside for 4 to 5 hours to let the salt and alcohol draw out the tars and oils residing in the briar.  The pictures show this process.dress25With the stummel is ‘cooking’ with the salt/alcohol soak, I turn my attention to the stem.  The question and concern that comes to mind is the care in cleaning the stem while protecting the sterling silver band that is attached to the stem?  Will sanding the stem damage the band if the sanding runs over the edge?  Unlike the sterling silver shank ferrule that came off easily, the stem band is not going anywhere.  Just to get an idea how well the silver will clean up before I start on the stem clean up, I take the shank ferrule and apply Weiman Silver Cream to it. As the directions describe, using the sponge in the container, applying the compound, rubbing then rinsing off with tap water.  Wow! It works well.  The pictures show the result!dress26I move forward with caution with the acrylic stem by protecting both the crowned ‘S’ stem mark and the sterling silver band.   I do this by holding my thumb over the areas to keep the sanding instruments at bay.  After taking a few ‘before’ pictures to mark progress, I begin addressing the rough scratches in the acrylic with 240 grit paper to do the heavy lifting.  I also work out the teeth chatter in the bit area – upper and lower.  Following the 240 grit paper, I use 600 grit paper and then 0000 steel wool, taking a picture at each step to mark the progress.  Following the steel wool, I run the stem through the complete 1500 to 12000 micromesh pad treatment, taking a picture at the customary sets of 3.  In the final set, I also apply Weiman Silver Cream to the sterling silver band to spruce it up.  I discovered along the way, that the finer grade micromesh pads were not a problem for either the band or Stanwell stem mark – they shine up quite nicely!  I’m pleased with the progress.dress27 dress28 dress29 dress30With stem completed, I again look to the stummel which is benefiting from a Kosher Salt and alcohol soak.  The salt has darkened somewhat indicating the success of the process.  I dump out the old salt, thumping it on my palm to rid the stummel of the expended salt.  I use a paper towel to clean the bowl and I also utilize bristle brushes and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% to further clean the airway and mortise.   dress31 dress32Time to address the finish of the stummel.  I use an Italian stain which is called Wenge’ – it appears to have a black base.  After I heat the stummel with my wife’s hair dryer, I liberally apply the stain to the stummel with a folded over pipe cleaner.  I fire the dye and the alcohol immediately burns off.  After a few minutes, I repeat the process and fire the stain.  Then, within a few minutes, I use a cotton pad and wipe the stummel with isopropyl 95% to blend the stain in the wood.  After wiping the stummel down with alcohol, I decide to switch and use a black water based dye and mix it 50 to 50 with isopropyl 95%.  I apply the mixture to the stummel with a folded over pipe cleaner and fire the stummel again.  With this mixture, it did not ‘fire’ the way an aniline dye will but it did evaporate as I passed it over a lit candle.  This helped to set the dye in the grain.  I set the stummel aside to rest.  The pictures show the progression.dress33 dress34Well, in the interest of full disclosure, what is not pictured are the several iterations of applying ‘black’ stain to this stummel.  When I first ‘unwrapped’ the stummel from the fired crust, buffing with my Dremel using Tripoli and then Blue Diamond compounds with a cotton cloth wheel, I was not satisfied with the hue of black I saw emerge.  I wanted the finish to be a translucent black, allowing grain to show through, but in black spectrum hues.  What I was seeing was the brown of the grain emerging giving more of a dark chocolate brown look.  I repeated the staining several times, changing up the black dye content and alcohol, flaming and then wiping the stummel with a cotton pad wetted in isopropyl 95% to blend the stain with the briar and each time repeated buffing with Blue Diamond with the Dremel cotton cloth wheel.  I finally started seeing emerge a stummel that correlated with the image in my mind – a black stummel, in keeping with the original Stanwell intent, but with subtle grains showing through.  Satisfied finally with the result, I move on and apply several coats of carnauba wax to the stummel and to the acrylic stem with the Dremel’s cotton cloth wheel set to speed 2 (one notch up from the slowest speed).  I also attach the sterling shank ferrule with a bit of super glue to keep it in place and finish with a rigorous hand-buffing of stummel, sterling, and stem with a micromesh cloth.

It is true, personal tastes are subjective, but my sense is that I’ve improved this dressy Stanwell Silver Mount bent billiard by transforming the solid black to a translucent finish allowing the natural grains to show through.  This presentation of grain pattern is subtle and I believe it is in keeping with this special line of Stanwell pipes, the Silver Mount.  You’ll notice at the end of the presentation pictures below, I’ve included two pictures taken on a dark surface which enables the grain to be seen more clearly.  Stanwell’s retired shape number 85 is a larger bent billiard with a pleasing feel in the palm. The faux military stem mount brings a rugged look to the pipe but the twin sterling silver adornments, uniting the shank and acrylic stem, places this Stanwell a touch of class.  This Stanwell Silver Mount bent billiard is ready to serve a new steward.  If you’re interested in this pipe, check out the store at my new site, The Pipe Steward. The profits of all pipe sales go to the Daughters of Bulgaria, an organization my wife and I work with helping women and children who have been sexually exploited and trafficked.  Thanks for joining me!dress35 dress36 dress37 dress38 dress39 dress40 dress41 dress42 dress43 dress44




Love the shape of this Savinelli Classica 904KS Horn

Blog by Steve Laug

I have been cleaning up and restoring quite a few pipes over the holidays. I have had some free time and needed the space to relax and pipe refurbishing has always done that for me. Tomorrow I go back to the normal work week and then do some more traveling so my pipe work time will slow down considerably. I am hoping to finish a couple of more pipes this afternoon but we shall see. My brother picked up another interesting pipe for me to work on. The box he sent me before Christmas had a lot of unique and interesting pipes. This one is no exception to the pipes he sent me. I would call the shape of this Savinelli pipe a horn. It is a sandblast version that had a dirty finish and some overflow of cake and darkening on the rim. The pipe is stamped on a smooth part of the underside of the shank. It reads Savinelli in an oval over Classica. Next to that is the Savinelli S in a shield and next to that it is stamped 904KS over Italy. The stem is oxidized and there are tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button. There is a crown logo stamped on the left side of the saddle shank. My brother took photos of the pipe when it arrived in Idaho Falls and before he cleaned it. The first four photos show the overall condition of the pipe.  class1class2He took a close up photo of the bowl and rim. Note the light cake in the bowl and the tars and oils built up on the back side of the rim top. The crevices of the sandblast are filled in but the inner and outer edge of the bowl look to be in good condition.class3The next three close up photos, show the stamping on the underside of the shank. The stamping is clear and readable. The S shield and the Italy stamp are the most hard to read but they are still readable. The fourth photo shows the gold crown on the side of the stem is also very clear.class4 class5The last two photos he sent to me show the tooth marks and chatter on the stem near the button. The oxidation is light but in the curves of the saddle they are darker.class6My brother scrubbed the exterior of the pipe and stem with Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed it with running water. He scrubbed the rim top to remove the oils and tars from the grooves and crevices. He reamed the bowl, cleaned out the inside of the shank, mortise and airway in the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. When I received the pipe in Vancouver I took photos of what it looked like. The oxidation came to the surface of the stem and the finish looked washed out.class7 class8I took a close up of the rim top and the bowl. The bowl was very clean and my brother had been able to clean up the crevices in the sandblast. The stain was worn on the sides and top of the rim.class9I took close up photos of the stem. There are some dents in the top edge of the button and along the sharp edge of the button. There were tooth marks on both sides of the stem and some tooth chatter.class10I started the restoration process by working on the bowl. I wiped it down with alcohol and cotton pads to remove and dirt or grime. After it was cleaned off I restained it with brown aniline stain, flamed it and repeated the process until the coverage and colour were even and what I was looking for on this particular blast.class11 class12When the finish was dry I lightly buffed it with a shoe brush. I took photos of the bowl after the staining.class13 class14I hand waxed the bowl with Conservator’s Wax and buffed it harder with a shoe brush. I was able to raise the shine on the bowl and it was beginning to look better and better.class15 class16I sanded out the tooth marks and chatter with 220 grit sandpaper. I sanded the remainder of the stem at the same time to break up the oxidation. I was careful around the crown logo on the stem side. While the gold stamp was light the stamping itself was deep in the vulcanite and would be easy to restore once the stem was clean.class17I decided to scrub the stem with the Before & After Stem Deoxidizer and pipe stem polish starting with gritty DeniCare polish and then using Before & After’s Fine and Extra Fine Stem polish. While it cut through the oxidation on the flat and round portion of the stem it did not work as well in the curves of the saddle. I took photos of the stem after spending about an hour scrubbing the stem with the polishes. You can see the shadows of oxidation that still needed to be dealt with.class18 class19I used Rub’n Buff European Gold to rework the stamping in the crown on the side of the stem.class20I worked over the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads. After the last set of pads I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry.class21 class22 class23I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and gave the stem several coats of carnauba wax. I gave the bowl another coat of Conservator’s Wax and buffed the bowl and stem with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a great looking pipe that has a lot of life in it. It should be a good addition to someone’s rack and provide years of good smokes. Thanks for looking.class24 class25 class26 class27 class28 class29 class30 class31 class32