Tag Archives: reaming a bowl

Royal Danish Acorn Shape 971 Reborn

Blog by Steve Laug

This is another pipe from the lot I picked up on Ebay not long ago. The lot is pictured in the photo below and this one is the third pipe down on the first column, left side. It is stamped Royal Danish in script over MADE IN DENMARK on the underside of the shank. It is also stamped 971. To me the shape is an oval shanked acorn. It has a sandblast finish with a smooth area on each side of the bowl and on the area that bears the stamping on the shank. The bowl was heavily caked as can be seen in the second photo. The finish was not in bad shape just dirty and the smooth areas had small scratches on the surface. The rim was caked with spill over from the bowl and would need to be scrubbed to remove the build up and make the sand blasted rim visible again. The bowl came without a stem.



I sorted through my box of stems to see if I had one that was suitable for this pipe and found an estate stem that would work with a little cleanup. It was heavily oxidized and had some tooth chatter on the surface of the stem that became very visible as I cleaned it. The stem was clogged with tar and oils and I would have to unclog it to make it work. I used a paper clip that I straightened out to clean out the build up in the stem then sanded the tenon until the stem fit the pipe. I lined it up with the curves on the shank. Because of the sandblast on the shank the stem would not line up perfectly so I decided to sand a smooth band around the shank for the stem to line up with. I used a Dremel with a sanding drum to smooth out the edge of the shank. The next four photos show the finished band around the shank. Once it was stained I thought it would be a good contrast with the stem and the finish of the sandblast.





I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer. I began with the smallest cutting head and worked my way up to the second cutting head (first photo below). Once I had the bowl cleaned out I worked on the stem to clean up the oxidation and work on the tooth marks. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper and then with a fine grit sanding sponge (photos 2 and 3 below). I also sanded the banded area that I cut with the sanding drum.




I wiped the bowl and shank down with acetone and a cotton pad. I wanted to remove the grime in the crevices of the blast on the shank and bowl. I used a soft bristle tooth brush and acetone to clean up the rim of the pipe. I scrubbed it until the finish was clean. Photos 1 and 2 below show the finish after the cleaning. The grey is the finish after it broke down with the acetone. I continued to scrub it until the finish was clean.



I set up the heat gun and heated the stem and bent it over the rolling pin that I use to get a good straight bend in the stem. I also buffed the stem and bowl with White Diamond. I used a light touch on the stem as I intended to keep sanding it with the micromesh sanding pads. I took it back to the work table and restained it with a dark brown aniline stain thinned with isopropyl alcohol. The mix was my attempt to match it to the original stain. I wanted the dark stain in the grooves of the blast to stand out against the brown over stain. The next three photos show the bend in the stem and the restained bowl. The band that I sanded in the shank is a nice contrast to the sandblast and the black of the vulcanite stem.




I sanded the stem with micromesh sanding pads from 1500-12,000 grit. I wet sanded with the 1500-2400 grit pads and then dry sanded with the 3200-12,000 grit pads. The next series of four photos show how each progressive grit of sanding pads bring a deeper shine to the stem.





I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil to protect the new shine against oxidation and then once it was dry took it to the buffer and buffed the stem with White Diamond. I finished by buffing the bowl and stem lightly with White Diamond a second time. It took the pipe back to my work table and gave it several coats of Halcyon II Wax. I have found that it does a great job on sandblast and rusticated finishes. When it was dry I hand buffed it with a shoe brush until it had a rich shine. The next series of photos show the finished pipe. I like the new look to the shank and bowl and the new stem looks like it came with the pipe!





A Surprise in this Lot of Pipe Bowls – a BBB Virgin Own Make Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

This package of pipe bowls to restem arrived this week. There were several surprises in the lot but one that the seller had listed as London Made turned out to be a BBB Virgin Own Make. The stamping had been buffed and was fairly faint but it indeed read BBB under the loupe. The left side of the shank is stamped London Made and the shape number 638. In the photo below it is in the center column the third pipe in the column. It came with a heavy cake and tar buildup on the rim. The bowl had been reamed in the past with a knife but was still fairly round. The chamfer/bevel on the inner rim is what had suffered the damage. The finish was dirty but would clean up fairly easily. Under the grime it appeared to be a beautiful cross grain – birdseye on the front and back of the bowl, on the top and bottom of the shank and cross grain on the sides of the bowl and the shank. It was going to be a beauty once it was cleaned up. The edges on the shank end were clean and undamaged and there were no cracks in the shank. The inside of the shank was also very tarry and caked.

Figure 1 Assorted pipe bowls for restemming

Figure 1 Assorted pipe bowls for restemming

I used a PipNet reamer to ream the bowl and remove the heavy cake build up. I reamed it with a smaller cutting head first and then used the correct size to finish. I wanted to ream it back to bare briar so I patiently worked with the cutting heads until the bowl was clean. The next series of three photos show the reamer in place and the result of the reaming. Look closely at the top of the bowl in the third photo and you will see the damage to the chamfer/bevel on the inner edge of the rim. Also in the photos is the stem I picked out of my can of stems for this pipe. The great thing is that I had a BBB stem in the can that fit well with minimal work on the tenon.

BBB Virgin bowl




The next photo shows a side view of the pipe. I took this photo because of the great cross grain that is visible on the bowl.


I sanded the tenon with 220 grit sandpaper to remove a thin layer of the vulcanite and make a good fit on the stem. The next two photos show the fit of the stem. I was unable to push it into the shank due to the tar buildup in the shank. Once I cleaned out the shank I would be able to tell if I needed to do a bit more sanding on the tenon.



I cleaned out the shank with cotton swabs and Everclear. While I worked on that I also swabbed out the inside of the bowl and the rim with Everclear as well. It took many cotton swabs and pipe cleaners to get the shank clean and ready for the new stem.



When the shank was clean I tried to fit the stem again. It was still a little tight so I set it aside to work on when it was thoroughly dry. I have learned that if I fit it when the shank is wet the fit will be too loose once it dries out. The photo below shows how the stem fit after the cleaning of the shank.


When I returned from work the stem fit perfectly. I did not need to do any more sanding on the tenon. I wiped down the exterior of the bowl and shank with acetone on cotton pads to remove the finish and grime from the top of the bowl. I also did some minor adjustments to the shank/stem union as the shank was slightly out of round and needed to have briar removed on the top and left edges to smooth out the union. I used 220 grit sandpaper and a medium grit sanding sponge to even out the fit of the stem. The next three photos show the fit of the stem and shank after the work.




I sanded the chamfer/bevel on the inner rim of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I wanted to repair and minimize the damage to the rim from the reaming that had been done with a knife. I have found that I can set the folded sandpaper at a set angle and work my way around the inner rim of the bowl repairing the bevel. It takes careful work to get the angles to even out and give a finished look to the repair. The photo below shows the finished chamfer/bevel.


Once the bevel was completed and the shank/stem fit fine-tuned I needed to remove the rest of the finish from the pipe so that I could easily restain it and have a good match on the sanded areas. I sanded the rim and the shank with a fine grit sanding sponge and also with 1500-2400 micromesh. I then wiped the bowl down with acetone wetted cotton pads to remove the finish. The next three photos show the pipe after the wash with acetone. The finish stained acetone cotton pads are in the background.




I sanded the stem and the bowl with a fine grit sanding sponge after the wash to even out the look of the finish and to prepare it for staining. The next three photos show how the sanded portions now blend in with the finish of the bowl and shank. The scratches have been removed and the bowl and shank are ready to be stained.




I decided to begin working on the stem before I stained the bowl. I wet sanded the stem with micromesh sanding pads from 1500-1800 grit. Once I had it started as pictured in the first photo below I changed my mind about sanding the stem further at this point. I restained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain thinned 2:1 with isopropyl alcohol. I applied the stain with a cotton swab and then flamed it with my lighter, reapplied the stain and reflamed it until I had the colour and coverage I wanted. Photos 2-4 below show the pipe after staining. I am happy with the blend of the stain on the rim and the sanded area of the shank. The coverage is heavy enough to give a good colour and yet it is not too heavy so that the grain really shines through. I had not buffed the pipe at this point merely stained it and let it sit while I went back to working on the stem.





I went back to sanding the stem with the micromesh sanding pads. I worked through the remaining grits of pad from 2400-12,000. Each successive grit of pad deepened the shine on the stem and progressed to a deep black look. I also sanded the bowl with the micromesh pads. The hardest area to remove the oxidation was around the brass BBB diamond insert. To clean that up I used a Bic lighter and passed the flame over the stem surface quickly and the oxidation burned. I also wet sanded the area with the edge of the sanding pads. To finish that area I also used the Scratch X2.0 plastic polish and then rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and let it dry. The next three photos show the stem after sanding with the pads.




The final four photos show the finished pipe. There are some dents remaining in the side of the bowl that I steamed to lift but they still show. I tend to leave these on older pipes as signs of their age and character. I love the way the grain stands out on this pipe. The sides show the cross grain. I did not take photos of the ends of the bowl to show the birdseye grain that is situated on them but you can imagine the look from the straight lines of the cross grain. The rim and sanded areas on the shank look well blended in and the bowl smells fresh and ready to use. I am well pleased with how this old beauty turned out and know that it is ready for a life of service.





One of my favourite refurbs – 1919 BBB Bent Calabash

I was going through some old pictures on my hard drive the other day and found this one that I bought on EBay for a very reasonable price early in 2008. I finished refurbishing it in March of 2008. It was and is one of my favourites. You can see from the picture below what kind of shape it was in when I got it. In the pictures on EBay it looked worse than it does in the picture below. I opened the box when it arrive expecting far worse. I bid on it because I liked the shape of the pipe and I figured it would be a challenge.

The stem was oxidized to the brown white coloration that appears below. It almost appeared to be a horn stem – but it was not. When I removed it from the shank – which took a bit as it was stuck by the goop in the shank and the oxidation that portion was black. I put it in the freezer for a short period of time to cause some expansion and contraction in the stem that would loosen it from the shank. When I took it out of the freezer it was easily removed. I went to work on the inside of the stem with shank brushes and pipe cleaners, both bristle and fluffy dipped in alcohol. I worked on the stem until the cleaners came out white and clean.

I then mixed a batch Oxyclean and soaked it in the solution overnight to soften the oxidation. I find that the Oxyclean solution (warm water and a half scoop of Oxy in a pint jar) works wonders in softening the oxidation. It does not remove it but it made it easier to remove. Once I took it out of the solution the next morning to work on it I used 240 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation. It worked well to take off the brownish white coating on the stem. Once that was finished it was a dull brown and I continued to work on it with the 400 grit wet dry sandpaper until it was a dull black. I then progressed to 600 grit wet dry sandpaper to further remove the grime. I used both of these sandpapers with water as I find it gives the grit more bite on the stem. I had not discovered micromesh at this time so I used 800 and 1000 grit sand paper and continued to sand the stem clean. By the time I used the 1200 grit wet dry sandpaper the stem was looking like new. I took it to my buffer and used the Tripoli and White Diamond to finish the job.

While the stem was soaking in the oxy I reamed and cleaned the pipe bowl and shank. I worked on it until the pipe cleaners came out clean. It took many bristle cleaners and many fluffy one to get it clean. I also used cotton swabs in the shank to remove the tars and build up there. I scrubbed the outside of the bowl and rim with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime and deep seated dirt on the bowl. After I finished the scrub and clean I put the bowl in a bath of Isopropyl alcohol to remove any remaining dirt and grime and the badly damaged finish on the bowl. That was the first night of my working on the pipe. I went to bed that evening with both the bowl and the stem soaking in their separate baths.


The next morning I finished up the stem and set it aside as I described above. I turned my attention to the pipe bowl. I removed it from the alcohol bath and dried it off. I used a wet cloth and a butter knife heated over a flame to raise the dents in the outer rim of the pipe and the sides of the bowl. The process is quite simple. You wet a cloth, wring it out so it is not dripping wet yet still wet. Then fold it and put it over a dent. Heat the knife (I use our gas stove to do it but have also used an alcohol lamp). I then lay the flat blade of the knife on the dent. You will hear a hiss as the heat causes steam to rise from around the blade. The steam causes the dent to rise. I applied the blade repeatedly until the dents were minimized. Then I took it to my work table and used a flat board and a piece of sandpaper to top the pipe just enough to remove the remaining dents and damage. I do that on a flat surface to maintain the flatness of the rim without changing the angle. When that was finished I wiped down both the bowl and rim with an alcohol damp cloth to remove any residual sanding dust.

I then used an aniline stain, in this case medium brown as I had researched and found that the colour matched the colour of the pipe when it was new. I used the dauber that came with the stain and applied it to the rim and the body of the pipe. I started at the bottom of the bowl and worked my way up to the rim. The rim always the last part I do. Once it was completely covered with stain I ignited it with my lighter to set the stain. The process is called flaming the stain (at least that is what I call it.) I let it dry while I put a coat of wax on the stem.

When the stain was dry I took the bowl to my buffer and gave it a buff with Tripoli and White Diamond to remove the top coat of the stain and the opacity of the stain. The result can be seen in the picture below. I also used some silver polishing compound applied with a soft cloth to remove the tarnish on the end cap. I finished that process with a silver polishing cloth to give it a good shine. When that was completed I gave the bowl and cap a good buff with carnauba wax then reinserted the stem and gave the entire pipe an extra coat of wax for a finish.


I still smoke it today and it delivers proudly! The last two pictures below show what the pipe looks like today after 4 years of use. It has developed a deep patina to the bowl and the warmth of the medium brown stain has mellowed into a richness that is really nice. Repeated waxings over the years have helped mellow the finish and also deepen the black of the vulcanite stem. This is one of my favourite old pipes. It truly is a reborn pipe. In 7 years it will be 100 years old. Some days I wish it could talk because I can’t even begin to imagine the stories it could tell.


KBB Yello-Bole Premier – Stem repair and refurbishing

Just received that old propeller KBB Yello Bole pipe that I picked up off ebay. The bowl is in better shape than the pictures on ebay showed it. The burned spot on the Bakelite stem on the right side bottom was actually very deep. I cleaned it with alcohol and a dental pick to take out the affected material. It was a sizeable dent. I then cleaned and dried it and used a clear epoxy to build it back up. I am sanding it now to make sure the transition is smooth but at least it is gone. The hole is filed and a bit dark but the stem has black/grey streaks in it anyway so it is functional. Here are the photos from ebay showing the before.


In examining the pipe it is clear that it is an old timer – propeller logo on the stem, bakelite stem, and the stamping. It is stamped KBB in a clover and Yello-Bole Honey Cured Premier over Imported Briar. Once I had repaired the stem with the epoxy as described above I scrubbed the top to remove the tars and grime. The shank and inside the stem was clogged with tars and took a lot of bristle cleaners and alcohol to get it to come out clear. The finished stem came out smooth and solid. It still shows some of the shape of the burn but the affected part was removed. The bowl was cleaned with oil soap and then hit with a quick coat of medium brown stain, polished and waxed. This time I did it all by hand without a buffer. I used the micromesh pads and I really love the way they work.

Along with the pictures above here are some shots that show the state of the bowl before cleaning.


Here are pictures of the finished pipe in all of its beauty.



My choices in Pipe Reamers – a review

Blog by Steve Laug

In the process of refurbishing estate pipes, a thing that I enjoy doing, I use two pipe reamers almost every time I begin the work. Both of them have different strengths or advantages that I have come to count on in the process of using them. They work on the thickest and hardest cake that I have found in these old work horse pipes. I have written of the advantages and weaknesses of both in the review that follows.  

The first of these is readily available on EBay as Kleen Reem pipe reamers. There is also a similar reamer available going under the label of the Senior Reamer which can be purchased at most of the online pipe vendors. The reamer I have is pictured below. It is an adjustable three blade hardened steel reamer. The top is the adjustment knob and as it is turned it opens the blades wider or narrower. The utility of this reamer is that it is able to be adjusted to multiple bowl sizes. The blades remain vertical so that the bowl does not taper. It works very well for cylindrical shaped bowls. The hardened steel does a great job cutting back the carbon of the cake and can be adjusted to allow for different cake depths. The one draw back of this reamer is that it does not do a great job on the heel of the bowl in rounded or U shaped bowls. It is perfect for the conical bowl or V shaped bowl that tapers to a point. In the U shaped bowls I have to finish the reaming by using the second tool below or a piece of sand paper wrapped on a dowel.


The case that the reamer came in is functional and strong. In the bottom edge of the case there is a banded group of cut pipe cleaners.

A brilliant part of this tool is found under the adjustment knob on the top. The knob can be turned to unscrew it from the main unit. Once it is removed it reveals a drill bit attached to the knob that is designed to clean out the airway in the shank. It can be twisted into the shank to reopened clogged and restricted airways without damaging the pipe. I use the drill bit by itself the first few times through the shank to remove the grime and tars. I then follow up with the pipe cleaners inserted and wrapped up the bit then dipped in alcohol to remove the loosened grime from the shank of the pipe. I have replaced the original ones that came with the kit many times with cut pieces of regular or fluffy pipe cleaners. The diagram below shows the bit inserted in the shank. It also shows the winding of the pipe cleaners on the drill bit that I referred to above.


The picture below shows the reamer as diagrammed with the instruction manual that came with the Kleen Reem kit. The numerals on the diagram are explained in the instructions on the right side of the picture. I use the reamer as a regular part of the cleaning routine I have established for working on estate pipes.


I would recommend either the Senior Reamer or the Kleen Reem Reamer for all those who clean and work on their own pipe and those who do refurbishing of estate pipes. When you purchase it know that you will need another tool or have to use sandpaper and dowel to maintain the heel of the bowl.

The second reamer that is in my refurbishing tool kit is called a Pipnet Reamer. I found this reamer when the one above left me with work to do at the bottom of the bowl. I was searching for a tool that did a better job in that part of the bowl. This reamer has also been packaged and sold in North America under the Castleford name. From my experience while these two versions of the reamer look the same, the Castleford set is not as well made as the Pipnet set. I will comment on that later in this article. Both sets come in a cardboard storage case and include a foam insert with cut spaces for the “T” handle and four heads of different diameters. To use the reamer the heads (tenons) are inserted into a square slot (mortise) on the bottom of the handle and then can be turned into the bowls for a thorough reaming. The picture below shows the Pipnet set that I have. I have reboxed it in an old wooden box that my kids had around. I found that it is a perfect fit and keeps the parts together.


The greatest asset of this tool in my opinion is that the interchangeable heads make it possible to work with a variety of bowl sizes and with various cake thicknesses. On older heavily caked bowls the reaming can be done in stages until it is the cake thickness matches the desired depth chosen by the refurbisher. This also makes it very easy to ream the cake all the way back to the wood or to leave any amount of cake you chooses. The size and shape of the combined handle and heads make it easy to keep the tool vertical in the bowl and avoid over reaming or ruining the roundness of the bowl by reaming at an angle.

Often when I am refurbishing older pipes I use both reamers mentioned in this article to complete the reaming to my satisfaction. I start reaming with the Pipnet and end with the KleenReem or the reverse depending on the bowl shape. I find that the design of the tool allows me to have a good grip on the handle as I turn the blades to cut the cake. I begin with the smallest head and work my way up to the size that brings the bowl to a place where I then use the KleenReem to finish the work.

Each cutting head of the Pipnet tool has four blades inserted into a hard plastic head. They are basically hardened steel “U” shapes that meet at the bottom of the head and go up the length of the head. The cutting head, though obviously designed for “U” shaped bowls, also can be used in conical bowls. Again the reaming process should begin with the smallest head that fits into the bottom of the bowl and then working up the varying sizes of heads until the bowl is completely reamed. The design and shape of the heads is visible in the picture of the Castleford Set below.


In terms of durability I have used the Pipnet set for five years without any damage to the handle or heads. I was concerned when the tool arrived that the stress on the handle head connection (tenon/mortise) when turning it into the bowl would be problematic. When twisted or turned I can feel the give or strain in the plastic junction. In the 5 years I have used the Pipnet set I have not had any problems with this concern. Last year I was given a Castleford set to use as a backup. It looked like it was the same tool at a glance. I broke the handle mortise connection after the first couple of uses. In comparing the two sets I can see that the Pipnet set is made of a heavier/thicker plastic in the handle connection than the Castleford. That is probably the reason that it has outlasted the Castleford.

I purchased my Pipnet on EBay and continue to see sets show up there regularly. It is also available through various pipe and tobacco shops on the web. One or both of these reamers will serve the refurbisher well in the quest for a clean, restored pipe. Take into consideration the strengths and limitations of both and make your choices from an informed position. Enjoy your restoration work.

A Pipe Refurbishing Journal

I have worked out a process of refurbishing old pipes as a hobbyist that has worked for me with ongoing improvements and learning being added almost every pipe I work on. That is not to say that I am even a wannabe professional because I am not. For me it is a way of doing something that I find relaxing and rewarding as well as something that I can actually finish. With my work I am involved in ongoing dealings with people and issues that seem never to really come to closure so to take a pipe and bring it back to life and enjoy a good smoke in it is something I take great pleasure in. I thought I would write a bit about my process using and old pipe that came in the mail that I picked up off of ebay as an example.

… I got home from Budapest, Hungary last week to find a package of pipes had arrived that I bought on EBay before I left. I opened the box to find a real mess waiting for me. The photos on eBay were not good and I was in no way prepared for what awaited when I opened the box. There were four pipes there – two Dr. Plumbs, a Stanwell with a broken tenon and a White Cliff meer-lined pear. The two Dr. Plumbs were what interested me in the lot and why I had initially bid. Dr. Plumb was an older second’s line of GBD and these two interested me. The first was a 9438 – GBD Rhodesian shape that I find is an all time favourite of mine. The second was a silver spigot Oom Paul – a shape that I have wanted to try for a long time.  I figured the Oom Paul would be one I kept – not sure of the others in the lot. The White Cliff and Stanwell went back in the box and I turned my attention first to the Oom Paul.

I took it out of the crumpled newspaper that wrapped it, being careful not to spill the ash and crumbling cake all over the place. It really was an ugly mess. I wanted to assess what needed to be done with it and whether it would be worth the effort. Sometimes even if it is really not worth it I will still clean it to practice methods and the use of new tools. This one was in desperate shape. The bowl was filled with crumbling cake and torn remnants of tobacco. The top was covered with a sticky and thick tar or lava that was about the thickness of a dime. The outside of the bowl had dark grime deeply embedded in the finish. It was muddy and dark enough that I could not see the grain at all. Now before you think it was an old patina finish – I assure that it was not. There was no way of even seeing the finish. It looked just like one of my dogs when he has been playing in the mud on a rainy day. I know somewhere underneath he has a black coat but it is not visible at all under the dirt and grime. This pipe was just unbelievably dirty.












Working my way back along the shank of the pipe I came to the silver shank cap which was loose and very tarnished. It appeared to be sterling or at least silver plated under the tarnish. It had pulled away from the shank and was turned to one side. It appeared to have something engraved in it at about 1 o’clock but it was not clear under the tarnish and grime. The stem, a faux spigot, no long fit in the shank as it sat among the grime and crumbling build up of tars and a yellowish residue that erupted around the edges of the union of shank and stem. It was solidly embedded in this mess and was immoveable. The stem was an oxidized brown colour at the saddle and the curve. It had a silver cap at the end of the stem before it disappeared into the grime. That union of vulcanite and metal was a mottled edge of tarnish and grime. The button end of the stem was grimy and oxidized but it did not appear to have tooth marks or pits in it. It was merely encircled by that hard, white coloured material that can collect under a rubber bit protector. I moved to the lip of the pipe and looked at the slot. Unbelievable!! The airway was gone. The slot was filled and all that was left was a tiny hole the size of a pencil lead. The tar was erupting out of the slot and was a hard black semi circle that enclosed the button end.

I turned the pipe over in my hands to look at the underside of the bowl. I always like to check and see if I am going to be surprised by a burnout or a blackening spot that could signal an impending burnout. I scraped some of the grime off the bottom of the bowl and found a spot that appeared to be the size of a pencil eraser on the bottom. It was black but did not appear to be burned or soft in anyway. I used saliva to clean away the grime a bit for a better look at this spot. It cleaned up slowly and with a soft cloth and a bit of spit it showed that what I was dealing with was a repair in the bowl bottom – a plug of briar that had been inserted. It was a bit darker than the briar around it but it was a good solid repair and did not appear to be loose or damaged. That was a good sign.

I laid the old pipe down and gave it a good hard look. Would this be worth the effort or would I end up pitching it at some point in the cleaning process? That is always a question I ask before I get everything out to do the cleaning. I picked up and turned it over in my hands again. I checked it over one more time and figured I would start and see what happened in the process. I set up my desk top work bench with newspaper as a base and then laid out the tools of the craft! I put out a variety of reamers and brushes of different sizes. I put out the dental picks that I knew would be needed in the stem and the shank. I put out the pipe cleaners – bristle, thin and fuzzy, the alcohol and the alcohol bath that I keep handy for bowls that need a soak. I drizzled some clean alcohol around the shank stem union and with a bit of wiggling and more dripping the stem came free. I use an ear syringe for that part of the work as it allows me to control the placement of the alcohol.

I set the stem aside and turned my attention to the bowl. I wiped down the outside with a soft cloth and Murphy’s Oil Soap (undiluted) to get the grime off and get some idea of what was underneath the mess. It took several applications and wipes with the cloth to get through the grime. I also wiped it down with an alcohol wipe to get the last of it off. As I was planning on refinishing the pipe anyway I was not concerned with the finish. Underneath the grime the briar was actually quite nice – birdseye on one side and a variety of grains the rest of the way around the bowl. The shank was flame grain. It looked promising. I took a sanding block that is fine grit and sanded the top of the bowl to get the grime off. It was rock hard and since I was refinishing the pipe anyway it was the preferred method of removing the grime. Once that was done I reamed the inside of the bowl and the inside of the shank. I used my Senior Reamer to start with and then the T reamer with the four different cutting heads. The bowl was lined with a crumbling cake that needed to be taken back to the bare wood as it kept letting go and falling apart. Once it had been cleaned out I was able to inspect the bowl for cracks and burned out areas. Fortunately it was clean and uncracked.  The bottom of the bowl was below the airway so once it was cleaned I would need to use some pipe mud to build it up to the proper height.

The shank was really a mess. I could not fit a standard pipe cleaner through it and had to use a dental pick to open it up. Because it is a full bent a drill bit was unworkable past about the middle of the shank. I have a dental pick that have I straightened out a bit and it worked like a champ. The pipe had a sump in it like the Peterson system pipes and it was absolutely jammed packed with tars. The stem would not even fit in the shank it was so full of junk. I used a small brass battery terminal brush to work over the inside of the shank and the sump area once I had opened it up. I blew air through to make sure it was open. I used pipe cleaners and q-tips to clean it up. I kept at it until the airway and shank were clean. Once I finished with the interior of the pipe I put the bowl in an alcohol bath over night. I have found that this takes off all the grime that is rubbed into the finish and any remaining interior grime.

While it soaked I turned my attention to the stem. I opened the airway in the stem with my dental pick from the button end. I was able to remove the stinger apparatus in the tenon and then began to work on the interior of the stem. The stem itself was a mess on the inside – a pipe cleaner would not fit through so again the dental pick did the trick. I opened it up a bit then used over a 100 pipe cleaners and a bunch of q-tips to clean out the gunk. I also used a bristle shank brush to loosen things up. Once I cleaned it with lots of alcohol and many cleaners the inside was clean. The outside needed lots of attention. The Dr. Plumb painted logo (not stamped at all just a surface paint) was sacrificed to cleanliness.  I sanded the stem with 1200 and 1500 grit sandpaper to get the brown out that even the buffer did not remove. After that was done I polished it on the buffer with red Tripoli and White Diamond. The stem was actually in very good shape once the grime and oxidation was removed. I cleaned the silver portion of the stem and the faux military mount with silver cleaner and then polished that and buffed it with a soft cloth. I also used steel wool on the stinger apparatus until the roughness and grime was gone from it and it shone. I inserted it back in the pipe for the first smoke to see if it would remain. The stem was in great shape and ready to be inserted in the shank of the pipe once it was done. It still needed to be buffed with Tripoli and White Diamond before a good coating of Carnuba was applied to keep the oxidation at bay.












I removed the bowl from the alcohol bath and found that bath had done its magic. All the grime was off and the finish as well. What remained was a soft reddish briar that was clean and smooth to the touch. After bowl dried I sanded it with 1500 and 1800 grit sandpaper, being careful of the stamping that showed up on the bottom of the shank once the grime was gone. I finished the sanding with micro mesh pads in 1800, 2400 and 4000 grit. The top had some minor burned areas and the bowl was out of round so I bevelled the bowl top into the bowl to take care of the unevenness. When I finished sanding it I washed the outside down with a damp alcohol soaked rag to remove any dust and show any scratches that needed a bit more attention. Once those were taken care of I filled the bowl with cotton boles and using the ear syringe filled the bowl and shank with clean alcohol to remove any ghosts and residual tars in the bowl. I let it sit over night while the leaching process did its work.







While bowl was undergoing that treatment I took silver polish and a soft cloth and worked on the stem metal work. For the stinger apparatus I used some 0000 steel wool to clean off the staining. I buffed the stem with Tripoli and white Diamond and laid it next to the bowl.

The next day I removed the cotton boles and let the bowl dry out. I opened a can of cherry stain that I use on these old timers that matches the original colour really well. I shook the alcohol based stain until it was well mixed and then using a soft rag and a folded pipe cleaner I applied it to the whole bowl. Once it was well coated in the stain I lit it on fire with a lighter to set the stain. Once that was done I set it aside to dry well.

In the afternoon when the stain was dry I took it to the buffer and lightly buffed the stummel until it was smooth and shining. The finish looked really good. I gave it a good coat of wax and then polished the silver on the shank cap. I was able to turn the cap a slight bit and the initials that were engraved in it became visible – WGW. I took it back to the desk and inserted the mouth piece. It fit snugly into the shank and the look was as it should have been.






















(In the last picture on the bottom right the plug in the bottom of the bowl is visible. I re-stained that area of the bowl and the plug is a little less visible.)

I then turned my attention to the inside of the bowl. I needed to raise the bottom of the bowl to meet the bottom of the draught hole and protect the plugged bottom of the bowl. I mixed a batch of pipe mud – cigar ash and water mixed to a pasty thick consistency and painted it with a folded pipe cleaner and packed it in place with a pipe tamper to raise the bottom of the bowl to the bottom of the airway. I let it dry for a day until it was hard and then prepared a bowl coating with activated charcoal and my secret ingredient and painted the inside of the bowl with it. I wanted this old timer to have a chance and with the cake gone I did not want to take a chance on burnout with it. I wanted it to have a fighting chance for a long life ahead. I set it aside to dry for two days and waited for the initial smoke once it was dry.

Two days went by and the bowl coating was dry and the mud was hard in the bottom of the bowl. I had packed the pipe in my brief case and took it to work with me for the ride home that evening. After work I packed the Dr. Plumb Oom Paul with Doc Piedmont and lit it with the Zippo. Wow what a clean, dry smoke. It was smooth and full of flavour. It is a great smoker and did not heat up at all during the smoke. I carefully knocked out the ash and inspected my bowl coating and the bottom of the bowl. It looked undisturbed and solid.

When I got home I removed the stinger that was in it to give it a go without the stinger to see what that does for it…my gut feel is that this pipe will be one of my go to pipes in the future.