Tag Archives: Rebuilding a broken stem

Gifting My Dear Friend, Dal Stanton, an Alexander Zavvos Hygrosystem Pipe

Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Steve, his brother, Jeff and Dal Stanton, The Pipe Steward, were on a visit to India in early May 2019. It was a fun filled week and also a great learning. I have always admired the finish that Dal imparts to the pipes he restores while I am amazed at the speed, the measured quantum of work that Steve puts in his restoration processes and also the profound knowledge that he has on all things pipes!! I was fortunate to see and learn these nuances first hand. I had a desire that there should be a unique pipe which all three of us should have (Jeff being a non smoker) and had laid down for myself, the following parameters for identifying THAT PIPE!

(a) Both should not be having this pipe in their personal collection (knowing well that this would be a very tall order!!)

(b) The pipe must have some historical significance and should have made a contribution to the world’s pipe history.

(c) It must come from a well known carver or manufacturer.

The pipe selected is an ALEXANDER ZAVVOS HYGROSYSTEM, PAT.No 87033, made in the 1970s-80s. What followed was an extensive and prolonged hunt for two such pipes of which the first one was purchased from one seller on Pinterest and the second was on eBay. These pipes were received separately and the last delivery materialized a couple of days prior to the arrival of these esteemed guests. Here are both the pipes as I received them.Since Mr. Dal was the first to arrive in India, he was given a choice between the two. He selected one with an Apple shape and the remaining willy-nilly came to Steve. At that point in time, both Dal and I discussed that it would be the Apple shape that Steve would have selected but… It’s Dal’s pipe now. The stamping on the Apple is crisp and easy to make out. It reads on the left of the shank as “ALEXANDER” over “HYGROSYSTEM” over a square with letter “Zb” over “GREECE”. The right side of the shank is marked as “EX # 207- *”, denoting the shape code, size and grade (?). The bottom of the shank bears the stamping “PAT No. 87033” over “06/ 89”, which I believe is the date code indicating that the pipe was made in June of 1989. I re-searched this pipe on pipedia.org and reproduce excerpts of information on this pipe carver, in his own words, and his immense contributions to the Greek pipe industry in particular and entire world’s pipe community.

I am Alexandros Zavvos, born in Molos, Thermopylae, near Lamia. Since I was a child I had an inclination for art, starting with painting. I studied Radio-electronics, and at age 23 I got involved with commerce with a capital of 150.000 drs. in 1962.

I entered the pipe business where I met, by total chance, with Mr. Libero G. Albanese, first technician and producer of briar-wood models in Kalabria, Italy. When I told him that I am Greek, he almost prayed, saying that we Greeks have the best briar in the world for pipe-making! From that moment on I understood that this fellow is in love with his work – and he transmitted that to me instantly!

From mid-1962 to 1963 I searched all over the world for a college or a school in order to be taught the art of pipe-making, but in vain – there were none. Moreover, I wasn’t able to make it through the big European pipe-makers of that time (British, Italian, Danish). I was convinced that only through experience there was a chance of me becoming what I wanted.

In 1964 I started the commercial briar-wood model production, in 1965 I constructed empirically my first pipe and in 1967 I started the vertical production (this is from the briar Greek woods to the consumer) – maybe there is no other factory in the world producing smoking pipes vertically.

In 1970 I started the research, which was accomplished in 1984, on the 1st generation hygrostatic system. In that same period we founded, my brother and I, our factory in Lamia for the production of ebony epistomes.

Today, 40 years later, I have successfully arrived at the production of the 5th generation hygrostatic pipe. I will finish by saying that this pipe, to what concerns the pleasure it provides, has nothing to do with that pipe for peace, offered by American Indians.        

Update:Today I am saddened by the news that Alexander passed away on February 10th, 2015. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. We are very thankful for his contributions to the World of pipes. —sethile (talk) 21:00, 12 February 2015 (UTC). 

The description given by the seller on eBay was equally informative and I reproduce the same for the readers to get a fair idea of the famed Hygrosystem that has been incorporated into the construction of this pipe.

A patented Hygro-system pipe by the greatest and most known (now deceased) Greek pipe manufacturer Alexander (Zabos / Zavvos). His old pieces are by now becoming rare and sought after, as his son who took over the business is not equal to the father. His stamp (Z with a B lower) comes from the two consonants in his name the way it is spelled in Greek. Very big and well known European pipe makers have purchased top briars from Alexander Zavvos, since the Greek briars are among the best in the world.

A few things about Alexader Zabos’s patent : The hygrostatic system  is the result of 35 years research and experience. It is based on the Bernoulli principle, has been allowed to be patterned (No 87833) by the Greek Ministry of Industry and Energy. Unlike most filter or no-filter pipes, the Alexander Hygrostatic Pipe reduces drastically moisture and other heavy residue (such as tar etc), which otherwise could be inhaled into our lungs and extinguishes a bitterness and a burning on the tongue.

Alexander Zavvos’s Hygrosystem pipes were quite expensive if bought new (the cheapest had a value of 160-170 euros) and have become highly collectible after the death of the manufacturer.

From the above information, it is safe to infer that this pipe is from the first generation of the hygrosystem pipes from Alexander Zavvos and made in March 1989.

I have given a detailed description on deconstructing this line of pipes and also a detailed explanation, as I understood it, on the application of the principle employed in the hygrosystem for which these pipes became famous, in my previous write up on a similar pipe which is on its way to Steve in Vancouver, Canada. Here is the link to that article, https://rebornpipes.com/2019/08/02/gifting-my-mentor-and-dear-friend-steve-an-alexander-zavvos-hygrosystem-pipe/

This is a very ornate and beautiful pipe with a perfect shape, size and hand feel with a delicate and a smallish stem. The forward heavy weight of the pipe does not lend itself to clenching and would best be enjoyed while being held in the hand. The brass band at the shank end, the vulcanite band at the shank end of the aluminum shank extension and again a brass band at the tenon end of this shank extension should add a nice classy touch to the pipe’s appearance once polished and it also helps to break the monotony of the briar. The stummel has beautiful mixed grain with a combination of straight on the sides and front with bird’s eye and swirls over the heel and shank. All this beauty is hidden under the accumulation of dirt and grime over the years. The stummel has numerous dents and ding over the entire surface. However, save for one large fill (marked in yellow arrow) and unlike the pipe which will be going to Steve, there are no major issues of fills or cracks that I foresee on this stummel. The outer rim edge curves inwards to form a narrow rim top surface  and shows a slight overflow of lava on the rim top and the surface itself is peppered with numerous dents and dings which should be easy to sort out by sanding the rim top with a piece of 220 grit sand paper.The chamber has a thick and even layer of cake which shrouds the condition of the walls of the chamber. However, the feel of the bowl is solid and I hope there are no major surprises here. There is a brass ring at the shank end which extends inside the shank with threads on to which the aluminum shank extension is screwed in. This brass ring should add a bit of glitz to the pipe appearance once polished. The mortise is clogged and heavy crust of dried oils and tars are clearly visible. This will take some effort to clean out.The screw-in aluminum shank extension that houses a filter is covered in oils and tars. Also the smaller aperture pipe protrusion at the stem end is covered in gunk and tars. The vulcanite band at the shank end and the brass band at the tenon end will need to be polished. The briar at the tenon end is nice and solid with no damage, and that’s a big relief having experienced the challenges firsthand with Steve’s pipe, how difficult it is to address issues on this part of the pipe. The wood gasket which is housed in the tenon end of the shank extension has been dislodged from its place and is stuck on to the tenon. The vulcanite stem with its fused briar at the tenon end is generally in good shape, save for the broken and missing nearly half of the stem. The break is at an angle and only a tiny portion of the button end on one side is available to me as a reference. This should be more than sufficient for me to undertake a complete rebuild of the missing portion of the stem. The stem is very lightly oxidized and the fused and decorative briar saddle, though covered in oils, tars and grime, is intact. The tenon is dirty and clogged with all the gunk and dried oils and tars left behind by the previous owner of this pipe. I took a few close-up pictures of the stem and broken edge of the stem for the readers to better assimilate what I would be dealing with during the stem rebuild. I have the option of cutting off the stem at the point of break and thereafter rebuild and shape a new button on either side, but this would drastically shorten the already short stem and toss the symmetry of this beautiful pipe right through the window. And remember, my dear readers, that this pipe is being sent to my dear friend and a pipe restorer par excellence, Dal!! He is a perfectionist, to say the least. I intend to use the intact part of the stem as a guide for determining the length of the stem, the flare at the button end and the length of the slot and I would be attempting all this by eyeballing all the measurements as I do not have any Vernier calipers for exact measurements. I know, that’s hell of a lot of eyeballing that I would be doing during the restoration.THE PROCESS
It is the stem reconstruction that takes the most amount of time what with all the curing, sanding, refilling if needed, shaping and polishing and, therefore, I always prefer to start with repairs to the stem. Firstly, I sand off the area of intended fill with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. This not only evens out the surface for the fill but also gets rid of the oxidation which would otherwise show itself through the fills as a brown patch after polishing. This was followed by cleaning up the internals of the stem and the tenon with regular and bristled pipe cleaners dipped in 99% pure isopropyl alcohol. With a dental pick, I scrubbed out the dried gunk from the tenon and from along the broken button end edges. I had seen Dal use a folded triangular index card while reconstructing a broken button end whereas I always used a petroleum jelly (Vaseline) coated pipe cleaner inserted in to the air way to keep it open. My method, though effective, was time consuming as I had to completely reshape the slot thereafter. However, in this instance, since there was nothing to support or hold the folded index card on the other side, I perforce had to fall back on my time tested method of using a pipe cleaner coated with petroleum jelly (Vaseline). I prepared a slightly thin (just thick enough to form a drop but not runny enough to fall down) mix of CA superglue and food grade activated charcoal and applied it over the broken stem area. I also applied this mix over the intact side lip edge to make it even. To get the flare which was evident on the intact side of the stem, I applied a thick blob of this mix and held it sideways so that the mix forms a droplet. Thereafter I maneuvered the drop to the desired shape till it hardens and harden it does so quite rapidly. Once this layer had cured, I applied another layer of the mix. The trick here is that this type of reconstruction needs to be done in layers to a thickness more than the adjoining stem surface. This, thereafter, can be filed and sanded down to match the stem surface. I did exactly as described above and set the stem aside to cure. The following pictures will give you a general idea of what I have described above. Once the mix had cured hard, I went about shaping these fills to match the overall profile of the stem, with a flat head needle file. I was very careful with my use of the needle file, eyeballing the profile frequently. An hour later and I had achieved a rough match profile to the original stem as it would have been before the break. I even had a rough button profile shaped out in conjunction with the intact button edge. Eager to use my newly acquired slot shaping tool, this was an ideal candidate to use it for the first time. Well, this tool is much more effective than using a tightly folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to shape the slot. I am very happy with the progress being made. From my experience (and I have done many!!) it usually takes a week to reach this stage and here I was on only my third day of working on the stem!!And then a set back! As I was shaping the slot, a chunk of the fill did not feel like staying and just left its place, leaving behind a gaping hole. It is marked in yellow arrow.Such chipping is to be expected and undaunted I again prepared a mix of superglue and activated charcoal, this time more glue and lesser of charcoal. Since I now had both the edges of the slot, I decided to use the folded index card. Once the index card was in place, I applied this mix over the chipped area and set it aside to cure. I also took this opportunity to fill in a few air pockets which were beginning to show as well as increase the button edges on either side.A curing time of nearly 12 hours later, the fill was nicely set and hard enough to start reshaping the slot and the button edge and further fine tune the stem profile and finish. Using a flat head needle file, I file away at the fill and roughly shape the button edge on either side of the stem. I am comfortably placed with the progress being made so far, so to say. As expected, I observed a couple of air pockets and also that one of the lip edge had been filed down more than the other and was dotted with many air pockets. I addressed these issues with a layer of superglue and charcoal powder mix. However, in this mix, the percentage of superglue was higher than the charcoal powder. I set the stem aside to cure. I would have ideally applied black CA glue, but…don’t have it.Moving ahead, I reamed the chamber with size 2 head of the PipNet reamer. Using my smaller sized fabricated knife, I further reamed out the cake from places where the PipNet reamer could not reach. I gently scrapped out the lava overflow from the thin rim top surface and followed it with sanding the chamber walls with a 220 grit sand paper. How I miss my younger daughter, Pavni, who specializes in smoothing the chamber walls and removing every trace of the old cake. Dal, I know you would have loved to have a pipe that your “Bollywood Queen” had worked on, but hope I have come close to her finesse!! Once the cake was taken down to bare briar, the walls of the chamber were found to be smooth and flawless. The draught hole is dead center and at the bottom of the chamber. I am sure that this will be a nice smoker! Removing the overflow of lava from the rim top revealed a thin surface that is peppered with numerous dents and dings. I continued with cleaning of the stummel and worked the mortise using the smaller fabricated knife first to scrap out the dried out gunk, oils and tars left behind by the previous steward. The amount of grime scrapped out is a testimony to the efficacy of this Hygrosystem, I say. A few pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol later, the shank is clean. Now that the chamber and shank internals are clean, I move ahead with the external cleaning of the stummel.I cleaned the externals of the stummel with Murphy’s oil soap and toothbrush. Rinsing under tap water (remember, I am in India and its hot here and even the tap water is equally warm!!) revealed just a few fills in the briar on left back side of the stummel and nearer to the rim top and these have been marked by yellow arrows. To be honest, I feared a rerun of the nightmare that I just went through while restoring Steve’s Alexander Zavvos Hygrosystem pipe! Not the case this time around, Thank God for such mercies!!! The stummel has a number of small dents and dings, which should be addressed when I sand the stummel with a piece of 220 grit sand paper followed by complete micromesh pad polishing cycle. I do not intend to be overly aggressive with the 220 grit sandpaper as I wish to preserve as much of the old patina as I can. Beautiful straight and mixed grains are now clearly visible. This should turn out to be a beautiful looking pipe, I think. I began removing the old fills and preparing the stummel for a fresh fill. Using my dental tools, I progressed to removing the fills. The fill on the left back side of the stummel was large and deep while the two on the rim top were smaller in size but deep.At this point in the restoration, I decided to address the issue of old odors in the chamber and shank by subjecting it to a cotton and alcohol bath. I wrapped some cotton around a folded pipe cleaner, keeping the tip of the pipe cleaner free of wrapped cotton as this would be inserted through the draught hole in to the chamber. This would form the wick for the shank. I tightly packed the chamber with cotton balls and filled it with 99% pure isopropyl alcohol using a syringe and set it aside. By next day, the cotton and alcohol had drawn out the all the old tars and oils from the chamber and max from the shank. I let the stummel fills dry out completely and after all the alcohol had evaporated, proceeded to fill the deep gouges with CA superglue and briar dust using the layering technique where I put down a thin layer of superglue in to the fill and press briar dust in to this fill over the glue. I continue with this till the fill rises above rest of the stummel surface. Once all the gouges were filled up, I set the stummel aside to cure for the next 24 hours.I file the raised mounds of the patched fills with a flat needle file. The only drawback of the layering technique is that a number of air pockets are revealed after the filing. This time was no exception and I refilled the exposed air pockets only with superglue and set it aside to cure.Since there was still time before I hit the bed, I decided to address the stem. I sand the fill with a needle file to a rough match with the surface of the stem. For a better match, I further sand the entire stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. I topped the slot on a piece of 220 grit sand paper to even it out. The repairs looked good at this stage.With the stummel fills nicely cured, it was time again to work on it. Using a flat head needle file, I sanded the fills and followed it by sanding with worn out folded piece of 150 grit sand paper. The fill has blended in quite well. However, I shall strive to further achieve a near perfect blend during further sanding and polishing with micromesh pads.I again worked on the stem, filing with a needle file and followed with sanding with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. With my slot tool, I carved out and shaped the slot. Here, the intact part of the stem gave me an idea of the extent of the spread of the slot from the edge. I achieved the desired shape and size by just visual estimations. I sand the slot end on a piece of 220 grit sand paper. I am happy with the way the stem reconstruction including the buttons and the slot, has shaped up till this point. I rubbed a little Extra Virgin Olive oil in to the stem surface for it to be absorbed and hydrate the vulcanite and set it aside. With the stem repairs well under control and progressing steadily, I turn my attention to the stummel once again. I address the dents and dings with further sanding of the entire stummel and the thin rim top using a worn out piece of folded 150 grit sand paper followed by a 220 grit paper. The dents and dings on the stummel and rim top are addressed to a large extent. What dents and dings remained, I let them be as a part of the history associated with the pipe and its previous owner. While going through with the micromesh polishing cycle, I extend this care to the brass band at the shank end. The now nicely shining brass band adds a touch of class to the pipe and helps in breaking the monotony of the pipe.I rubbed some “Before and After” restoration balm. This product has been developed by Mark Hoover and it helps to enrich and enliven the briar. For me it is an absolute “must have” item in my list of items for pipe restorations. I rub this balm in to the briar and set it aside for some time. I turned my attention back to the stem. I sanded the stem, including the briar insert at the tenon end with a 220 grit paper and progressively moving to 600 and 800 grit sand papers. As expected, a clean and neat looking stem stared back at me. I rubbed a little Extra Virgin Olive oil in to the stem surface to hydrate it and set it aside to be absorbed in to the vulcanite.I was satisfied with the way the stem has now turned out. I finished the stem reconstruction by polishing the stem with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I applied a small quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil to the vulcanite stem and rubbed some “Before and After” restoration balm before setting it aside.I had undertaken restoration of two of the three parts of this pipe, the stem and the stummel, and now turned my attention to the third and last part, the aluminum shank extension. This part was in pristine condition, save for the accumulated oils, tars and gunk which I had already cleaned out from the aluminum tube, the smaller aperture tube and the wide shank extension at the stem end, and yes, I had missed out on taking pictures and documenting this step. I went through sanding the vulcanite band and the briar insert with a folded piece of 220, 400 and 600 grit sand papers in that order. I cleaned the aluminum tube protrusion and the threading with a brass wire brush. I further polished it with a 0000 grade steel wool followed by dry sanding with all the nine pads of micromesh. The aluminum tube is now clean and shining. I finished the cleaning regime of the tube and threads in the shank extension by polishing it with a multipurpose liquid polish.This was followed by micromesh polishing cycle, wet sanding these components of the shank extension, including the brass band, with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I rubbed some “Before and After” restoration balm and set it aside. This part definitely adds some nice class to the overall appearance of the pipe.I cleaned out the wood gasket which makes the fit of the tenon in to the shank extension airtight with cotton buds dipped in alcohol. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil to this gasket, inside and outer surface to hydrate the wood and set it aside to be absorbed by the wood. When I had initially dismantled the pipe, this gasket came out attached to the tenon. However, close observation of the outer surface of the gasket points to the fact that the gasket was stuck inside the shank extension towards the stem end. I did not sand the outer surface to a smooth finish as I wanted to keep the surface rough when I applied superglue and reaffixed it inside the shank extension.Nearing the home run, I decided to stain the stummel and the rim top surface with a dark brown stain in the hope that it would help in a nice blending of the one and only major stummel fill. I heated the stummel surface with my heat gun to open up the pores on the stummel so that the stain is well set while being careful that I do not overheat the fill, a lesson learned while restoring Steve’s Alexander Zavvos pipe. I dipped a folded pipe cleaner in Feibing’s Dark Brown leather dye and liberally applied it over the heated surface, flaming it with the flame of a lighter as I went ahead to different self designated zones of the surface. This helps in the setting of the stain in the grain of the briar.I was not very comfortable in heating the aluminum shank extension and the briar insert on the stem as this could result in warping of the vulcanite band and the briar inserts on the shank extension and stem. I decided to use a dark brown stain pen instead. I applied the dark brown stain over the briar inserts of the shank extension and stem. I set both the stummel and shank extension aside for the stain to dry and get completely absorbed in the surface.The next evening, approximately 18 hours later, as Dal describes, I began to unwrap the stain in the hope to see beautiful grains. I mount a felt cloth buffing wheel on my hand held rotary tool and setting the tool at its slowest speed, again my recent experience while working on Steve’s pipe came in handy and the damage that can be caused due to heating while using the felt buffing wheel still fresh in my memory; I began to peel off the stain from the stummel surface first. The stain was peeled out gradually. This was followed with wiping the stummel with a cotton swab and alcohol to lighten the stain a little as it was too dark for my liking. This also helps in cleaning the surface of all the residual stain and highlighting the grain. Now, the fear that besieged me was the stain running down Dal’s hand as he smoked the pipe and so I set the stain by again heating the stummel surface with the heat gun. Unfortunately in my exuberance, I missed out on taking pictures of this step.

I felt as though the stummel, shank extension and the stem appeared patchy, though when I shared pictures with Abha, my wife, she found them to be nice, smooth and shiny. However, I decided to go with my instinct and dry sanded the entire pipe with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, aluminum tubing and brass bands included. Now I am satisfied by the appearance of the pipe at this stage and ready to move on to the final stage of polishing. Next, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel and setting the speed to ¼ of the full power, I applied a thick coat of carnauba wax over the stummel, aluminum shank extension and the stem. I worked the complete pipe till the time all the wax was absorbed by the briar. The pipe now boasts of a beautiful and lustrous shine. I vigorously rubbed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine and also clean away any residual wax that had been left behind. I am very happy with the way this beauty has turned out.Before re-assembling the pipe, I once again thoroughly cleaned the internals of the shank, aluminum shank extension and the stem airway with pipe cleaners and ear buds dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I also fixed the wooden gasket with superglue in to the stem end of the shank extension. I checked the draw to make sure that the airways in the shank, extension and stem are open. The draw is nice, smooth and open and somewhat similar to the draw experienced on a Peterson’s P-lip stem. I also applied a little Vaseline over the threads of the aluminum shank extension and the wood gasket to protect and keep it soft.To finish, I reassembled the complete pipe and gave it a final buff with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. This dude has come a long way when it started its journey in June 1989 and now 30 years later, it shall soon be traveling all the way to Bulgaria to serve my dear friend and fellow pipe restorer, Dal Stanton while he reminisces about his visit to me, Abha, Mudra and his Bollywood Queen!! I sincerely thank all the readers to have spared their valuable time in going through this write up. P.S. This project has been very close to my heart as this pipe is intended to be with my friend and guide, Dal as a memento of his visit to my family in India, fond memories of which will always stay with me. I hope that whenever he sits down with this pipe, packs it with his favorite tobacco, LANE BCA and fires it up, the first whiff reminds him of us here in India.

Some readers must have observed that the fill still stands out as a sore thumb, but I would like to assure you that it’s the smooth glossy surface of the highly polished superglue that reflects more light than the surrounding and hence is more prominent. To the naked eye, however, it is not so evident. Any inputs and suggestions are always valuable to me and most appreciated as they help me grow and improve.

Lastly, I thank everyone for sharing the joy that I experienced while working on this pipe.




Bringing a Silver Match Toronto 115 Squat Lumberman Back to Life

Blog by Dal Stanton

I acquired this Silver Match Toronto from what I have called, the ‘French Lot of 50’.  It was on the French eBay auction block and I was fortunate enough to have the winning bid.  When the Lot arrived here in Bulgaria from France, I unpacked it, took pictures of each pipe and posted them in the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’ collection for potential new stewards to find and commission.  I have already restored many treasures in this French Lot of 50 for new stewards.  Robert saw the Silver Match Toronto 115 Squat Lumberman in the ‘Dreamers Only!’ collection and wrote me about commissioning it.  In my interchanges with Robert describing the pipe and what was involved in commissioning it, he wrote this in response:

Dal I’m still interested in commissioning the lumberman pipe and I’m in no rush. My wife and I just had a baby he just turned 1 week old! I found out about your restorations on Facebook on The Gentleman’s Pipe Smoking Society.  Thanks for returning my email and I can’t wait to see the outcome of this little pipe!

I also found out that he and his family reside in central Virginia and when we were writing, it was getting ready to snow where he lived!  Well, that was last November, and it has taken this long for Robert’s Lumberman to work its way up the queue and I’m thankful for Robert’s patience! – As well as all the stewards who commission pipes which benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Here’s a picture of the original Lot of 50 in the ‘wild’ that I saw on eBay – the Lumberman it identified with an arrow.Now with Robert’s commission on my worktable, I take more pictures to show this smart squat Lumberman – I call it ‘Squat’ but the bowl is large and will handle a nice packing of one’s favorite blend. The nomenclature is stamped on the upper and lower sides of the oval stem.  On the upper is stamped ‘SILVER MATCH’ [over] ‘TORONTO’.  The lower shank bears what I’m assuming to be a shape number: ‘115’.  The stem is also stamped with a design which I assume is the flame of a match being depicted – my best guess at this point, but I’m not sure! The information about the Silver Match name is thin.  A quick search on the internet shows that Silver Match has been the name of tobacco accessories manufacturer since the 1800s, but mainly of lighters.  Silver Match lighters seem to be highly collectable with vintage lighters dating back to the 1800s but most listed that I saw have a French origin.  The only information in Pipedia refers to Silver Match in the list of British pipe makers as an inexpensive brand sold by Roy Tallent Ltd., and marked with the stamping SM (LINK).  This is confirmed in my copy of Wilczak & Colwell’s, ‘Who Made That Pipe?’ that Silver Match has English origins and manufactured by Roy Tallent LTD/S’Elite LTD – both of which seem more to be in the accessories market than focusing on the manufacturing of pipes.  Pipephil.eu (LINK) brings these two together in the following panel.  It pictures pipes distributed by the famous lighter brand, Silver Match, but shows the two different stem stampings that may indicate either French or British manufacturing – the flame (French) and the SM (England).  If this is correct, the Silver Match Toronto 115 has a French origin, but I found no other information to corroborate this.  Arriving from France in my ‘French Lot of 50’ is anecdotal evidence perhaps supporting this.I’m calling this Silver Match a ‘Squat’ Lumberman because he meets all the qualifications of his place in the Canadian family with the oval shank, but he’s on the shorter side but I’m impressed with the nice ample bowl. I did look at both French and British made shape charts to see if I could discover a lead on who produced the Silver Match but found no matches with 115 that provided this information.

I can see some nice briar underneath the thick layer of grime over the briar surface, but I see one large fill that will need attention on the lower shank near the shape number.  The cake is thick in the chamber with corresponding lava covering the rim.  The stem has oxidation and the button is chipped and will need to be rebuilt.  With this inventory of the challenges this Silver Match Toronto Lumberman faces, I start the restoration by adding the oxidized stem to a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer along with other pipes in the queue.  I first clean the airway with a pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95%. After several hours I fish the Silver Match stem out of the Deoxidizer and use a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to wipe off the raised oxidation. I also run another pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95% through the stem to clean the Deoxidizer remaining in the airway.The Before & After Deoxidizer does a good job and it preserves the white in the Silver Match stem stamp logo – I still can’t figure out for sure what it’s depicting!  I follow by applying paraffin oil to the stem to begin the rejuvenation process.  I put the stem aside to dry and absorb the oil. Next, I address the very thick cake in the chamber.  The chamber is almost closed off as the cake angles down the chamber.  Using the Pipnet Reaming Kit, starting with the smallest blade head, I use 2 blades of the 4 available to me.  I follow the reaming by using the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to further scrape and clean out the carbon build-up.  Finally, I sand the chamber after wrapping a piece of 240 grade paper around a sharpie pen to give me reach and leverage.  To remove the carbon dust, I wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%. After the cleaning, I inspect the chamber and it doesn’t have any cracks and fissures from heating damage.  It looks good!Next, I continue the cleaning by using undiluted Murphy’s Soap on the external surface using a cotton pad to scrub.  I also use a Winchester blade to scrape the rim addressing the thick lava you can see in the picture above. I also use a brass wire brush on the rim which doesn’t damage the briar.  After being in India, I learned about some of Jeff Laug’s (Steve’s brother) cleaning techniques and I decide to employ some of them.  After cleaning the stummel with Murphy’s, I take the stummel to the sink and clean the external surface with a bristled toothbrush with regular dish soap – the kind that is anti-oil.  I also use shank brushes to clean the mortise with the dish soap and warm water. After rinsing well, I dry the stummel with a cloth.  It came out well.As I observed earlier, there is a very large fill on the underside of the shank.  As expected, the cleaning of the stummel softens the old fill material and most of it fell out with the cleaning.  Using a sharp dental probe, I continued to excavate the material from the hole to clean it.Addressing the internals, I now use cotton buds, pipe cleaners, shank brushes and a dental spatula to scrape the mortise wall.  Using my tools to clean takes a bit of effort, but after some time, the buds started coming out lighter.  Later I will give the internals a further cleaning using a kosher salt and alcohol soak.Next, I patch the huge crater on the shank.  After I make sure all the old fill material has been removed, I clean the hole with alcohol. In the recent trip to India I discovered that there was some mild controversy around my method for filling holes using a putty created by mixing CA glue and briar dust.  Both Steve and Paresh said that they could not duplicate what I’ve been doing for some time – mixing the two components and creating a putty that remained supple.  What they experienced was the CA glue instantaneously solidifying when it touched the briar dust.  We discussed many different possible factors that would cause this difference in results – elevation, kind of glue, etc.  Another possible difference I suggested was that when I used an index card as a mixing platform, I would first cover the card with a strip of packing tape so that the glue would not be absorbed into the paper – which may, if it did absorb, cause the CA to solidify more rapidly.  Both Steve and Paresh were mixing on an index card surface without the tape.  I don’t know if they’ve had better results yet!  I decide to use a plastic lid as my new mixing platform.  You can see that I also put some scotch tape down so that I can clean easily.  I place briar dust on the tape and add BSI Extra Thick Max-Cure CA glue.I gradually pull briar dust into the puddle of CA glue and mix it with a toothpick.  I don’t overwhelm the glue with a lot of briar dust but gradually mix more in.As you can see, the CA is not solidifying as I add more.When the resulting mixture thickens to that of molasses, I use the toothpick and trowel the putty to the shank and fill the huge hole.  After filled, I put the stummel aside to allow the briar dust putty to cure.With the hour becoming late, I further advance the internal cleaning with a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  The patch on the shank has set up sufficiently.  I fashion a ‘mortise wick’ using a cotton ball. I stretch and twist the cotton until it creates a wick that will serve to draw out the tars and oils from the mortise.  I stuff the wick down the mortise with the help of a stiff wire.  After placing the stummel in a egg carton for stability, I fill the bowl with kosher salt which doesn’t leave an aftertaste as does iodized salt.  I then add isopropyl 95% to the bowl until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes, the alcohol absorbs, and I top off with some additional alcohol and then put the stummel aside to soak through the night.   The next morning, I see what I was hoping to see.  The salt has soiled and after I draw out the wick it shows that it has continued the internal cleaning process of drawing out the tars and oils. After thumping and dumping the expended salt in the waste, I wipe the bowl with a paper towel and blow through the mortise to remove the salt crystals.I follow with a pipe cleaner and cotton bud wetted with isopropyl 95% to clean residue left behind after the soak.  I find that the internals are clean and refreshed for the new steward.  I move on!The crater fill on the lower side of the Lumberman shank has cured, and I begin the process of removing the excess briar putty using a flat needle file.  I file the mound down almost to the briar surface and then I switch to sanding with 240 grade paper to bring the patch flush with the briar surface. As is often the case, from the picture above, you can see the air pockets left in the sanded patch material.  To blend this, I touch up the patch with a dye stick after sanding the patch further using 600 grade paper.Turning now to the rim, the front and sides of the rounded rim have been skinned up a good bit which the following two pictures show. I use 240 grade paper on the rim and go with the rounded rim flow and sand out the roughened areas around the rim. I follow the rim sanding using sanding sponges over the entire stummel, including the rim.  I use a coarse sponge, followed by a medium sponge and finish with a fine sanding sponge.  The briar on this Silver Match Toronto is expressive and It’s coming out nicely with the sanding. After the sponge sanding, I identify a pit on the lower left side of the bowl. I decide to apply a clear CA glue patch to fill this pit.  After cleaning this area with alcohol, I blacken in the pit using a fine point Sharpie Pen then apply a drop of regular clear CA glue and set the stummel aside for the glue to cure. Not long after, the CA glue cures and I file the patch with a flat needle file followed by 240 and 600 grade papers. The result of this quick patch looks good.Waiting in the wings is the short stem of the Lumberman which sports a chipped button.  The button will need to be rebuilt using a mixture of activated charcoal powder and CA glue.I form an initial triangular insert from index card stock which fits into the slot of the button fully.  I had covered the inserted part with a layer of scotch tape to serve as a barrier to the patch material – to easily be able to remove the insert after the charcoal powder and CA mixture cures.  I then insert another triangular piece of card stock into the initial insert.  This serves to expand and tighten the insert.I open one capsule of activated charcoal dust on the plastic disc (also put a few strips of tape down for easier cleaning) and add BSI Maxi-Cure Extra Thick CA glue in a small puddle next to the charcoal powder and mix in gradually using the toothpick.  As with the briar dust putty, I draw charcoal powder into the CA glue until it reaches the viscosity of molasses and then trowel the putty to the stem to fill the missing button cavity. I trowel enough to fully over-coat the area.As hoped, after the charcoal patch sets up after a few minutes, with a bit of wiggling, the insert comes out leaving the slot and airway clear of the patch material.After several hours, the patch material has fully cured, and I go to work using a flat needle file.  I first work on clearing the excess patch material on the end of the stem.To more rapidly remove the mound of excess patch over the button I employ a small sanding drum mounted on the Dremel.  This removes the patch material very easily. I follow using the flat needle file to bring about the fine shaping of the button repair. I follow the filing and shaping of the button with 240 grade sanding paper to further smooth and shape.  I notice significant air bubbles being revealed by the sanding – ugh…Following the 240 paper, sanding with 600 grade paper and 0000 grade steel wool – upper and lower stem, brings out the air pockets even more distinctly. To address the significant presence of air pockets in this button repair, I first darken the pockets with a fine point Sharpie Pen then I paint thin CA glue over the button lip.  I put the stem aside for the CA to cure.Putting the stem aside for the time, I turn back to the stummel sanding it with the full regimen of micromesh pads.  Beginning with pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand the stummel.  Following this, I dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Wow!  The grain on this Silver Match Lumberman is nice.  You can tell that when the grain patterns in the briar are random, as in this stummel, it is usually a good indication that it was cut from the upper part of the burl which is called the ‘branch wood’ section where the branches of the briar shrub form.  This article I’ve found helpful in understanding better the nature of briar grain – Published in Pipes & Tobaccos, Fall 1999, GRAIN: The first of an infrequent series of articles concerning THE BRIAR PIPE By R. D. Field (See: LINK).  The grain that emerges through the micromesh process is very nice – the Silver Match Toronto is shaping up well. The thing that bothers me like a burr under a saddle is the huge crater fill on the underside of the shank. Even with a darkened stain to mask the fill, it will still be there.  Yet, the light briar surrounding it in the current state is too much contrast for me to swallow!  I come to a decision to stain the stummel a dark brown to provide as much blending as possible and to use the staining process to tease out in greater contrast of the grain. I assemble on the worktable all the needed components for applying stain to the stummel.  I will use Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye with the possibility of lightening the dye because it’s an aniline dye – alcohol based.  I can wipe it with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to lighten the finish and blend it.  I first clean the surface using isopropyl 95% and a cotton pad and using a cork inserted into the shank as a handle, I heat the stummel with a hot air gun.  This expands the briar and helps the grain to be more receptive to the dye.  I then use a folded over pipe cleaner to apply dye in swatches and then I flame the wet dye using a lit candle.  This immediately combusts the alcohol in the dye and it sets the dye pigment into the surface.  I methodically apply dye to the surface and flame as I go.  I then set the newly dyed stummel aside to allow the dye to rest – I’ll let it sit through the night.  This helps setting the new stain so that it will not come off on the hands when the stummel is first fired up when it goes into service. With the stummel resting, I return to the patched button addressing the air pockets.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures during this process, but the result is shown.  I use a flat file to remove the some of excess patch material and then gently sand with 240 grade paper and 600 paper.  I finish this phase using 0000 steel wool over the entire stem.  I’m not 100% satisfied with the button rebuild, but the stem is structurally ready to return to service.I move straightaway to using micromesh pads on the stem.  I begin wet sanding with pads 1500, 1800, and 2400 and follow with dry sanding with pads 3200, 3600, and 4000 and finish with pads 6000, 8000 and 12000.  Between each set of three I apply Obsidian Oil to the stem to help rejuvenate the vulcanite and the expected high-level gloss of the stem makes an appearance.  Nice.  I put the stem aside to dry and absorb the oil. The newly stained stummel rested through the night and it’s time to unwrap the stummel from the flamed crust residue revealing the grain below.  To do this I mount a new felt cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel and set the speed to the slowest possible to reduce the possibility of overheating with the friction.  I then apply Tripoli compound to the entire stummel.  I have been asked how long this process takes as I ‘plow off’ the crust and ‘clean’ the residue dye revealing the grain detail.  I timed it this time and the Tripoli compound application took me one hour and 10 minutes – yep, that long. When the help of my wife, she takes a picture of the process of removing the crust and revealing the hue of the newly stained briar underneath.  I’m pleased with the results.  The crater fill on the underside of the shank almost disappears as it blends with Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dyed grain.  After I complete the application of Tripoli with the felt cloth wheel, I switch to a cotton cloth wheel, increase the speed to about 40% full power, and again apply Tripoli to the stummel.  I do this for two reasons.  First, with the cotton cloth wheel I’m able to reach into the crook of the bowl and shank which the felt cloth wheel cannot reach.  Secondly, I find that it sharpens the grain presentation as additional excess dye is taken away.  The result is almost like a luminescent effect. After applying the Tripoli, I give the stummel a gentle wipe with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  This lightens the hue a bit and helps blend the new dye.Next, I mount another cotton cloth buffing wheel and maintain speed at 40% and apply Blue Diamond compound, less coarse than Tripoli, to both stummel and stem.Next, I again detach the stem and I want to freshen the Silver Match ‘flame’ stamping.  It took me a while to figure out that was what it was – at least that’s what I think it is!  I apply white acrylic paint over the stamp and then gently wipe it off while still wet using the flat side of a toothpick. I use a cotton bud and the point of the toothpick to clean off the excess. The result is about 80% success.  The upper part of the flame wasn’t deep enough to catch the paint.  The result still looks good.After reuniting the stem and stummel, I mount another cotton cloth wheel to the Dremel, maintaining 40% full power, and apply carnauba wax to the entire pipe.  I give the pipe a few coats of wax then I give it a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine and complete the restoration of this nice looking pipe.

This Silver Match Toronto Squat Lumberman came out well.  The grain is striking with a smattering of swirls, waves, bird’s eye, and flame…, it’s an expressive piece of briar!  The darkened stain works great and masked the fill on the underside of the shank almost to perfection.  I’m pleased with the button rebuild, though I want to work more on reducing the air pockets in the process.  Overall, this stout Lumberman is ready for service.  Robert commissioned him and has the first opportunity to purchase this pipe from The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!