Tag Archives: reclocking an overclocked stem

Breathing Life into an Antique Imported Briar Bull Moose

Blog by Steve Laug

There is something about these older Mincer style pipes that grabs my attention. I am drawn to their rustic appearance and feel in the hand. This one was a Bullmoose shape – though the “nose” on it is much more conservative than many of these that I have seen. The stamping on the left side of the shank is a standing lion inside of a shield and next to that ANTIQUE over Imported Briar. I have searched on the web and in my books for this logo and cannot find it but I did find a listing for the ANTIQUE in Who Made That Pipe for a company called Heritage Pipes Inc. NYC. The company is to be distinguished from the Heritage line made by Kaywoodie as a high end alternative to Dunhill pipes. I have looked for information on the company online but so far have not found any. Anyone have any information on the brand?

My brother took photos of the pipe before he cleaned it up. I have included those photos below. It is an interesting pipe.The next photos of the pipe show the damage on the rim top. The three different photos show the damaged areas from different angles. The rim top looked like it was damaged on the inner and outer edges of the bowl. The top looked like the finish was peeling but I would know more about it once I had it in hand. He took photos of the rusticated bowl sides. The smooth portions show grain. The double rings around the bowl cap have nicks and chips out of the top and bottom edges of the rims as well as the centre spacer. The next photo shows the stamping on the left hand side of the shank. Metal shank insert that separates the stem from the shank is oxidized.The stem is oxidized and has tooth chatter and tooth marks on both sides near the button. It is also overclocked making the stem sit crooked in the shank.My brother reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and cleaned out the insides. Pipes with the threaded metal mortise hold a lot of grime and tars so I will need to clean it further. The exterior was scrubbed with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush and the grime and deteriorating finish was removed completely. The stem oxidation came to the surface in the cleaning. The next four photos show the condition of the pipe when I received it. I took a close up photo of the rim to show what it looked like when it arrived. Fortunately the areas on the rim that looked like flaking in the early photos was only lava buildup and it was gone. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that.The next two photos show the stem. The tooth chatter was lighter on the top of the stem than the underside. There were two deep tooth marks on the underside. The button edge on the topside was dented from teeth as well.I took the stem off the shank and was surprised that the conical stinger apparatus was gone. I heated the metal tenon with a lighter until the glue softened and twisted the stem around in the mortise until it lined up straight on the shank.I sanded the rim top and the inner beveled edge of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage and the darkening. It did not take too much work to smooth out the dents and nicks and clean out the darkened inner edge of the bowl.To repair the chip out of the ring around the cap on the bowl on the right side I filled in the gap with briar dust and put drops of clear super glue on top of the dust. I used a dental spatula and a knife to recut the twin rings around the cap. Once it dried I sanded the repaired area on the ring and the rim top with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge and with 1500-6000 grit micromesh sanding pads to smooth out the scratches left behind by the paper.I cleaned out the inside of the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until the cleaners came out white.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and then used black super glue to fill in the tooth marks on the top edge of the button and the underside of the stem.When the glue dried I sanded the stem with 320 grit sand paper and polished it with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. After sanding it with the 4000 grit pad I buffed it with red Tripoli on the buffing wheel then finished polishing it with the final three grits of micromesh. I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I stained the bowl with Cherry Danish Oil and wiped it down to give it a shine. I wanted to highlight the red colours in the briar. The colour came out really well and the grain shines through on the rim and the smooth portions of the bowl and shank. I buffed it lightly with a shoe brush. The photos below show the staining and the finished bowl. I buffed the stem some more with red Tripoli and with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish out the oxidation that still remained at the junction of the stem and shank. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax. I buffed the bowl with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The dimensions on the pipe are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Outer diameter: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It really is a nice looking older piece of pipe history and should make a great addition to someone’s pipe rack. It will go on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you would like to purchase it contact me via private message on Facebook or through my email at slaug@uniserve.com. Thanks for looking.


Easy Restoration of a 3-Star Pipes by Lee Rhodesian

Blog by Aaron Henson – 2/20/16

Aaron1I have found that writing up my pipe restorations is handicapped by my in-ability to remember to take pictures as I am working. On this Pipes by Lee Rhodesian I did a little better job at taking pictures. Although this was a simple restoration I thought I would take the opportunity to share my experience.

I found this 3-star Lee with two other pipes (a Mastercraft and a Grabow) in a lot at a local antique shop. I wanted to know more about the Lee brand but I found there is not much out there. But here is what I found:

The Pipes by Lee brand was distributed by Stewart-Allen Co, Inc., NY. The pipes were graded by stars: 1 to 5 stars (5 being the high end). Early pipes have seven pointed stars; the middle run have five pointed stars and later pipes are stamped with colored gold stars. (the preceding content from the “Pipes: Logos & Markings” website and the 1947 Ad, courtesy Doug Valitchka).

This pipe has three 7-point gold/brass stars set in a line in the top of the stem. I could not find the dates of the different runs/eras mention above but based on the ad I would have to guess my pipe dates to the late 1940’s to 1950’s.

The Pipe
The outside of the pipe was in very good condition. The briar was clean and the stem was moderately oxidized. The stamps on the shank were very clear: left side read ‘Pipe by Lee’ over ‘Limited Edition’. The right side of the shank is stamped ‘An Authentic’ over ‘Imported Briar’.Aaron2 Aaron3The stem was slightly over-clocked and the previous owner had placed a couple of sheets of paper between the stem and shank to act as a spacer. There was one divot in the bottom stem near the button but otherwise was free from tooth chatter.

The internals were a different story; the chamber had a healthy cake buildup and good amount of tar on the rim. The shank was full of tar and the stinger was coated in dried tar. The internals of the stem itself were not as bad as the shank and I will attribute this to the removable filter/stinger. Aaron4I began the restoration by cleaning the rim. I moistened a little powdered Oxyclean and placed it on a damp green-pad. I laid the pad on a flat surface and worked the bowl much like I was topping it. I don’t have a picture of the result but this worked very well.

The cake was very hard and resisted my attempts with the reamer so set the bowl to soak in alcohol overnight. I also set the stem to soak in an Oxyclean bath using a pipe cleaner to hold the stinger out of the solution.Aaron5With the cake nice and soft, I reamed the bowl back to bare wood with little difficulty. An inspection of the inside of the chamber showed that the briar to be sound and without burnouts or cracks. The airway was clear and located precisely at the bottom center of the chamber. The alcohol soak also removed much of the stain and revealed three small pink fills that would have to be addressed.Aaron6I finished up the internals by cleaning the shank with cotton swabs and pipe cleaners until they came out as clean as they went in.

I neglected the pictures during this next part but in summary I used a dental pick to remove fills and packed the voids with briar dust. A dab of clear CA (cyanoacrylate) glue set the dust in place. After drying, the fills were sanded smooth. I also sanded the entire bowl (except around the stamps) with 1500-3200 micromesh pads.

Returning to the stem, I removed the aluminum ‘filter’ and cleaned it and the threads with 0000 steel wool and alcohol. Then I tried to raise the divot out of the stem with flame from a lighter. I didn’t expect to completely eliminate the divot but wanted to reduce it as much as possible before filling it. The fill was made with black CA glue and charcoal powder then sanded smooth when cured.

I polished the stem by wet sanding with 1500-4000 micromesh pads, rubbing down with mineral oil after each group of the three pads. A plastic washer was placed between the stem and the stummel at this stage to prevent damaging the wood and to keep from rounding the shoulder of the stem.Aaron7 Aaron8At this point I set up the alcohol retort. It took three test tubes until the alcohol was clean; note that I left the filter off during the retort. I won’t describe the retort process because that can be found in other posts but I do want to comment on one point. I have found that heating the alcohol often time lead to an explosive boiling – not a very controlled process. The smooth surface of the test tube and purity of the alcohol does not provide a surface for bubble to form on. However, if I add a small foreign object to the bottom of the tube the boil is much more controlled. I small piece of cake or charred candle wick gives the bubbles a place to form and eliminate the possibility of super-heating the alcohol.Aaron9Now that the pipe was cleaned and sanitized I finished the stummel by applying two coats of Feibing’s light brown aniline stain. I flamed the stain to set it and then wiped off the excess with a cotton pad and alcohol. While reassembling the pipe I heated the threaded tenon and re-align the stem. Then I coated the entire pipe with mineral oil and set it aside to soak in before applying three coats of carnauba wax.

Thanks for reading and please let me know what you think.Aaron10 Aaron11 Aaron12 Aaron13 Aaron14 Aaron15