Tag Archives: refinishing

Chacom Churchwarden Resurrected


Blog by Joshua Fairweather

I received an email from Joshua about one of the Gourd Calabashes and a grab bag of pipes for refurbishing that I was selling. We made a deal on the pipes. At the end of his email he included some photos of some of the pipes he had already refurbished. His work looked really good so I invited him to submit a write up of some of his work to rebornpipes. Here is the first of those pieces that he submitted. A warm welcome and a thank you Joshua for your contribution to the blog. – Steve

I came across this pipe at an antique mall in London, Ontario. I almost passed it by had it not been for the vendor who was cleaning his case, he was kind enough to say ‘hi’ and ask what I was looking for. He just so happened to have a few pipes hiding in a glass case in the back of his store.

As you can see from the picture the pipe is heavily oxidized with little to no chatter marks. The bowl has a thick cake and tar on the bowl rim. Overall the bowl was in great condition with a small white mark on the bottom of the bowl (I think it was glue). The wood grain of the bowl also had nice appeal.

The brand of the pipe was marked on the bowl – ‘Chacom coin osseu’.

Now, I want to walk you through how I cleaned and restored this pipe. Step 1
When a pipe has a heavy cake inside the bowl, I like to put it through a salt and alcohol treatment. This method does a great job at cleaning the pipe, softening the hardened cake making it easier to remove from the bowl. It also, freshens up the bowl and gets ride of any ghosting left from prior tobaccos smoked.

I fill the bowl to the brim with larger grained salt. Using the syringe, I add the alcohol to the salt, topping it up to the bowl brim. I usually leave this treatment in the bowl overnight.Step 2
I prefer to use my old trusty friend (pocket knife) to clean the cake from the bowl. It has a more rounded tip and I find it a perfect tool to clean out most pipes without damaging the bowl.Step 3
With the same alcohol I use cotton pads to remove the finish off the pipe. Alcohol also does a great job at removing tar from the bowl rim. If the tar is heavy then a light sanding works better.Step 4
I don’t know what it is about sanding that brings so much satisfaction; I think it is the results you get on the pipe finish; it looks like glass. I use these foam padded Micro-Mesh pads to bring out the best finish on the briar wood. Step 5
Two of my favourite household products that do a fantastic job at cleaning pipe stems are OxiClean and Vim. Soak the stem in an OxiClean bath for about an hour maybe two hours. It will depend on how oxidized the pipe stem is, a heavy oxidized stem, leave in the solution for longer. This stem needed a longer soak.

After the bath I use Vim and a dry clean rag to wipe clean. Vim has a corrosive component that acts like a sand paper to buff the pipe stem back to a clean black colour again.

I will say, if the pipe stem is heavily oxidized it will take more than just Vim to bring out that black finish. I refer back to the Micro-Mesh foam sanding pads, which also do an amazing job at bringing out that preferred finish. I use alcohol and pipe cleaners to remove left behind tar inside the pipe stem. I repeat this process until the pipe cleaners come out clean.Step 6
To bring out the beauty of the natural grains of the wood, I use a variety of products and natural substances to do this. For this pipe I used an extra virgin olive oil.

With the combination of the sanded finish, adding the olive oil turns the pipe a darker colour. Well you can see the finished results for yourself!Conclusion:
Overall, I am pleased with the results. This pipe I will probably put into my private collection, as I do not have a churchwarden styled pipe as of yet.

Hope you have enjoyed my process.

Just a few minor details – a Broken Tenon and a Cracked Shank on a Hardcastle Special Selection 7 Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

Not too long ago I received an email from a reader of rebornpipes regarding a pipe he was restoring. It was a beautiful little Hardcastle Bulldog that is stamped on the left underside Hardcastle over Special Selection over the number 7. He had finished cleaning and restoring it and it was looking good. He had done a thorough job, as I would see later in this post. He went on to tell me about how he had repeated my misadventure when buffing the pipe. Not long ago I posted about having finished a pipe and having the buffer snatch it from my hands and fling it against the floor. I snapped the tenon off a pipe I had finished while doing the final buffing. He wrote that he had done the same thing exactly. He wanted to know if I would be willing to put a new tenon on the stem. He noted a hairline crack at the shank/bowl junction and wondered if I would be willing to deal with that at the same time. We wrote back and forth and he sent me the following photos. The first one shows the cleaned up pipe ready for buffing.The next photo he sent shows the crack at the top of the shank on both topsides of the diamond. It stopped on both sides before it got to the edge of the diamond.The third photo shows the stem with the snapped tenon. He did a far better job snapping it off than I had done on mine. My broken tenon was jagged and needed to be sanded smooth before I could replace the tenon.He sent the pipe to me Vancouver for me to work on. It is funny in that it took a longer time to arrive from Idaho than pipes I have received from the east coast. But when it arrived I took photos of it. I have a container of threaded tenons here that I use for replacement tenons on pipes. I like the way they grip in the drilled out stem. Once they are anchored in place with glue on the threads, there is little chance that they will come out. I went through my tenons and found one that would fit the mortise with a little adjustment – the fit was tight and it was a little long for the shank.I set up my cordless drill and chose a bit that was close to the size of the airway in the stem. I have learned to work my way gradually through bits until I get to the size of the threaded portion of the new tenon. Doing it this way keeps the stem material from chipping or breaking away with the pressure of the drill bit. I turn the stem onto the stationary drill by hand so that I can control the depth of the bit. I mark the bit with scotch tape ahead of time to measure the depth of the drilled out airway that I need to have when I am finished.Once I had the airway opened enough to take the threaded end I used a tap to cut threads on inside of the newly opened airway. I turned the tenon in place on the stem to check the fit against the face of the stem.I checked the fit against the end of the mortise and found that the tenon was too long. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to bring it down to the correct length and cleaned up the end of the tenon with the topping board.I glued the new tenon in place in the stem with medium viscosity black superglue. It allows me time to adjust and align it so that it fits the mortise well and leaves no gaps.I set the stem aside overnight to allow the glue to cure. In the morning, I fine-tuned the fit so that it sat well in the shank. I chamfered/beveled the airway in the end of the new tenon to maximize the airflow into the stem.I put the stem in place in the shank and took photos of the newly repaired stem. This little Hardcastle Bulldog is a really beauty and extremely lightweight. The Cumberland stem looks good with the briar and gives the pipe an elegant appearance. I polished the stem and the tenon with micromesh sanding pads to remove any remaining scratches. I set the stem aside and turned my attention to the crack on the shank/bowl junction. I examined the crack with a bright light and a lens to make sure I could see the ends of the crack on both sides of the shank. It was a tight hairline crack so I just needed to stop it from spreading further. I drilled the end of the crack on both sides of the top of the shank using my Dremel and a microdrill bit. I slow the Dremel down to a speed of 10 so that I can carefully put the holes at the crack ends without it either going too deep in the shank or bouncing across the surface of the shank. It did not take too long to drill the holes.I took it back to the work table and took photos showing the two drill holes. The plan now was to use a dental pick to see if I could open the crack at all. I wanted to be able to put superglue into the crack to seal the two sides. It did not budge so I scratched it with the pick to provide a rough surface for the glue to adhere.I ran a bead of clear super glue the length of the crack from drill hole to drill hole. I put a drop of glue into each drill hole to fill them in. Since they are so tiny, I don’t bother with briar dust. I used the end of the dental pick to push the glue deep into the drill hole and refilled it to a bubble.Once the glue hardened I sanded it smooth to match the surface of the shank using 220 and 320 grit sandpaper folded to fit the angle of the junction. I sanded the area until the repair was smooth with the surface of the shank. I wanted the transition to be seamless. I took a close up photo of the repair on both sides of the shank to show what I had to deal with in terms of blending it into the finish of the bowl and shank.I sanded the repair with micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratches left behind by the sand paper. I worked through 1500-4000 grit pads to polish the shank. I polished the gold band with the higher grades of micromesh as well to give them a richer gleam. The repairs were slightly lighter in colour than the rest of the shank and the bowl so they would need to be restained. I restained the repaired area with a medium brown stain pen to blend it into the colour of the bowl and shank. I buffed the stained areas by hand with a microfibre cloth.I wrote to the pipeman who owned it and told him I had finished the repair to the shank and the stem and was touching up the stain. He wrote back to say that I had carte blanche to finish the pipe in any stain I saw fit. That was the go ahead I needed. I wanted to highlight the red hues in the briar that stood out in the bright light. I also knew that a red stain would allow me to blend in the repaired areas on the shank/bowl junction better. So I chose to stain the pipe with Danish Oil with Cherry stain. I am really happy with how the red of the stain works to highlight the grain. It also goes really well with the Cumberland stem and its red striations.I warmed the briar and applied the stain with a cotton pad. The nature of Danish Oil stain is that it highlights grain and breathes life into the wood. I let it sit for 10 minutes and hand buffed it off the bowl and shank. I took the next four photos of the finished bowl once I had hand buffed it. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel to polish out any remaining scratches in the finish of the briar or the Cumberland. I gave them multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect the finish and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. I hand buffed the gold band on the shank with a jeweler’ cloth to polish and shine it. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I really like the finished look of the pipe. It is a beautiful and well executed Bulldog and it should serve its owner well. I plan on letting him know that if it does not fit his collection it will always have a home here. Thanks for looking.

A difficult trust: Gift of a Grandfather – A BBB Double Star Made in England


Blog by Dal Stanton

When I study the venerable pipe on my work table, it is not a glamorous display of briar and silver bands.  Some might call it a basket pipe.  The two stars imprinted on the shank were an indication of a working man’s pipe – not high quality, but among those pipes accessible to normal, if not common, people who work, live, love and as is the case with us all, die.  This unremarkable Apple shaped, BBB [diamond over] Double Star, MADE IN ENGLAND [over] 152, is remarkable because of the story it represents.   I enjoy restoring ‘estate’ pipes because they were left to others and these pipes carry with them stories and memories of loved ones who once befriended and valued them.  Greg heard from my son, Josiah, who are college buddies, that Josiah’s old man (my words not theirs!) restored ‘old’ pipes.   This ‘old’ pipe came to Greg from his grandfather through his mother.  Josiah’s email came to me asking what I could do with these pictures from Greg. My understanding is that Greg was a bit reluctant at first to send his pipe off to Bulgaria to be restored, but after Josiah directed him to some of the restorations I’ve done, he felt he could trust me with the heirloom that had come to him.  Knowing that this pipe was from his grandfather I asked that Greg send me information about his grandfather so that I not only could place the pipe better in history, but Greg’s grandfather as well.  This is the letter he sent me:

Hi Mr. Stanton,

Thank you so much for agreeing to restore my grandfather’s pipe. I am sorry for the delay in getting you the below information, but it’s been a crazy couple of weeks.

My mother inherited the pipe from my grandfather when he passed away in 1998. I saw it in the china cabinet one day and asked her if I could have it, since I had taken up pipe smoking. She kindly agreed. She doesn’t really know when my grandfather got the pipe, but she said he must have bought it in Hong Kong.

My grandfather was from Hong Kong, and only emigrated to the United States in the 1980s. He was a malaria inspector for the Hong Kong government for his entire working career. He must have gotten the pipe at the latest in the late 1940s or early 1950s, as my mother remembers him having it when she was a child. He never smoked the pipe when I knew him, but from its condition, I assume it was well used at an earlier period in his life.

Having graduated from the University of Georgia Law School in Athens, Georgia, passed his bars and currently serves as a law clerk to a federal magistrate judge in Augusta, Georgia, AND as a young married man, I can understand why Greg “took up” smoking pipes!  Pipes are wonderful companions for blooming attorneys!  His letter concluded with an agreement to the cost of the restoration would benefit our work with the Daughters of Bulgaria!  Thank you, Greg!

The information Greg received from his mother was invaluable for placing this BBB in time and space.  Pipedia’s article about BBB is helpful.  BBB in the mid-1800s originally stood for “Blumfeld’s Best Briars”, but after the death of Blumfeld, the Adolph Frankau Company took over the company and BBB gradually became “Britain’s Best Briars”.

The “BBB Two Star” rating also is referenced in the same article in a discussion of quality descriptors for BBB pipes:

In the Thirties, the top-of-the-range one becomes “BBB Best Make” with alternatives like “Super Stopping” and “Ultonia Thule”. The BBB Carlton, sold with the detail with 8/6 in 1938, is equipped with a system complicated out of metal, system which equipped the BBB London Dry too. Blue Peter was not estampillées BBB but BBB Ultonia, and the BBB Two Star (* *) become the bottom-of-the-range one. 

When Greg’s pipe arrived in Bulgaria, thanks to a visitor’s willingness to carry it across the Atlantic and European continent, I unwrapped it and put it on my work desk and took these pictures to fill in the gaps. At PipePhil.eu an example of the BBB Two Star marking is pictured along with the stinger/tube style extending into the chamber as Greg’s grandfather’s BBB does ( as seen above).In Pipes Magazine, I found a thread discussing the dating of the BBB Two Star.  One threader’s opinion, ‘jguss’ corroborates Greg’s mother’s recollections:

My guess is that the Two Star line started at the end of WWII; the first mention I’ve found so far is dated 1945, which at least gives a tpq (that is, an approximate dating). I know the line lasted at least into the early sixties.

It is not too difficult to speculate about the provenance of Greg’s pipe.  During WW2, briar became a scarce commodity throughout Europe and pipe manufacturing companies made do with what they could acquire.  Two Star BBBs would be lower end but more than likely during this time, a very close second when rations were short.  Added to this backdrop is the origin of our story in Hong Kong.  Hong Kong, a British holding since 1841 (see LINK), lost control of Hong Kong during WW2 to Japan in 1941 during the Battle of Hong Kong.  Undoubtedly, Greg’s grandfather would have experienced this first hand.  When Japan unconditionally surrendered in 1945, the British regained control of Hong Kong, but to counter Chinese pressures to control Hong Kong, reforms were introduced that broadened and increased the stake of local inhabitants of Hong Kong:

Sir Mark Young, upon his return as Governor in early May 1946, pursued political reform known as the “Young Plan“, believing that, to counter the Chinese government’s determination to recover Hong Kong, it was necessary to give local inhabitants a greater stake in the territory by widening the political franchise to include them.[19] (Link)

During the years following the Second World War, the same article describes unprecedented economic development which resulted in the economic powerhouse that Hong Kong became.  This period would have been while Greg’s grandfather was working as a malaria inspector for the government of Hong Kong and during which he acquired this BBB Two Star.  The smaller Apple shape would have served him well as he performed his inspection duties but given the ‘stem forensics’ pictured above, he probably chewed on it a bit as well while he worked!

With a greater sense of the story that this BBB Two Star tells, from England, to Hong Kong, to America, and now to Bulgaria, I’m anxious to restore this precious family gift from Greg’s grandfather.  At Greg’s request, he’s hoping for a pipe that is as good as new and ready for a new lifetime of service.  Yet, with all restorations, undoubtedly there will be some marks and blemishes remaining – these an ongoing testament to the memory of those who those who went before.

The first order of approach is with the stinger.  When the pipe arrived, the stinger was already separated from the stem.  The stinger extends from the stem through the mortise into the chamber itself through a metal tube air draft hole.  Using a pair of plyers, I wrap a piece of cloth around the end to pull gently to dislodge the stinger from the mortise.  I can see in the mortise that there appears to be a metal sheath that the stinger is lodged in – at least, that is what it appears to be.  The stinger is not budging and I do not want to break the stinger off.  To try to loosen things up, I pour some isopropyl 95% in the chamber to allow it to soak into the draft hole.  Hopefully, in time, this will loosen the stinger. The alcohol soak did not work.  In fact, a few weeks have transpired since writing the words above.  This stinger has given me quite the challenge.  In the back of my mind constantly, is the concern that I not leverage too much pressure pulling on the stinger.  I’m concerned about damaging the shank.  After soaking the internals for some time with alcohol, I pulled with plyers hoping to break the grip.  I also attempt heating the stummel with a heat gun in hope of dislodging the stinger.  I also heat the protruding part of the stinger with a candle, hoping that this would break the bond.  It did not.   I also was concerned about the candle flame close to the briar while trying to heat the stinger.  I craft a tinfoil shield, but this was not successful.  Unfortunately, I singed the end of the shank and had to remove the damage by ‘topping’ the shank end, which leads to a bit of work lining up the stem and shank later.  As you might expect, the protruding end of the stinger did not hold up under the pressure and eventually broke off. After the stinger protrusion broke off, and after a second email to Steve for input, I’m at the point of using a drill bit in another attempt to remove the bonded stinger.  Starting with a very small bit, I hand turn the bit to allow the drill to find the center of the stinger and gradually, remove the stinger introducing the next larger drill bit.  The end of the broken stinger begins at about 1/4-inch-deep into the mortise.  Unfortunately, this method is not working either because the drill bit will not bite into the metal and remain straight.  At the end of the stinger slot that I’m boring into with the drill bit, my efforts are flummoxed by the stinger’s design.  It has a slanted metal airflow deflector that causes the drill bit to veer off mark.  After breaking the end of the drill bit in the slot (ugh!), and digging it out with needle nose pliers, I sit and begin to think I was facing failure.  Nothing was working.  I’m introducing more problems to the restoration as I try unsuccessfully to solve the stuck stinger problem.  I can’t move forward and I’m stuck and begin to compose an apology letter to Greg in my mind.  UNTIL, on a fancy, I insert a small flat head screw driver into the slot at the end of the broken stinger 1/4-inch-deep in the mortise and I twist it gently counter-clockwise, and it snaps.  Suddenly, it was loose and I easily extract the ‘middle’ of Grandpa’s old stinger – I’m sure he was the last one to see this artifact!  I see daylight through the mortise and I’m hoping that it might also be a metaphoric ‘light at the end of the tunnel’!  I’ve not forgotten that the other end of the stinger remains lodged in the draft hole tube at the foot of the chamber.  Thankfully, a larger drill bit was the perfect size and it reaches into the mortise and hand turning the bit, it clears the rest of the stinger shrapnel.  Finally!  Oh my….  I’ll be saving the stinger debris for Greg.  This BBB will continue without difficulty stingerless.  The pictures show the results. In the interest of full disclosure, these words are coming weeks after.  Why the hiatus?  Life’s normal twists and turns, work, some wonderful travel to Crete for an organizational conference, to Athens (not in Georgia) for a consultation on the Eastern Orthodox Church, AND my growing frustration with Greg’s grandfather’s pipe’s restoration as more complications arrived!  I’ll try to catch you up to the present:

With the stinger removed, I was anxious to continue the restoration with a ‘normal’ pattern – the stem goes into the Oxi-Clean bath to deal with the oxidation in the stem.  After some hours, the stem is removed from the bath and I wet sand with 600 grade sanding paper removing the raised oxidation followed by 0000 steel wool. To clean and protect the BBB stamping on the stem, I use a non-abrasive Mr. Clean ‘Magic Eraser’ sponge.  The pictures show the progress.The next step is to re-seat the tenon into the mortise.  After the arduous process of removing the stinger, and after singing the shank end with a candle flame, and after ‘topping’ the shank to remove the damaged briar, the tenon and mortise needed to be re-wedded with the new realities.  The tenon was too large for full insertion into the shank.  Using a combination of reducing the tenon size with sanding paper and steel wool, sanding and filing the throat of the mortise, and using a rounded needle file to cut a new internal mortise openning bevel to accommodate the broader tenon base, I patiently, slowly, methodically worked to re-seat the tenon in the mortise which included working and then testing the new fit – GENTLY!  I suppose the fact that I said to myself, ‘Dal, careful, don’t crack the shank’, at least a 1000 times only made the sinking feeling more intense when I heard the sickening sound during what proved to be my last, ‘gentle testing’ of the tenon inserted into the mortise.  The hairline crack is pictured below that I took only a day ago – I couldn’t bear to take it then, when it happened.  I was sickened and put Greg’s pipe aside.  I needed some time to work through my own sense of failure of the trust given me to restore this family heirloom.  Now, after several weeks, I’ve regrouped and have taken up Greg’s pipe again.  The travels that I described above during this time in some ways felt more like Jonah running from Nineveh not wanting to face the scene of his calling and his sense of failure!  Though, my trip did prove beneficial – I sold some of my finished pipes to colleagues to benefit and raise the awareness of the Daughters of Bulgaria that The Pipe Steward supports.  I’ve included my Nineveh travels below for you who may not be familiar with ‘my world’, the Balkans – Sofia to Crete to Athens and back. Before moving forward, I needed to repair the cracked shank.  With the help of a magnifying glass, I locate the terminus of the crack and mark it by creating an indentation with a sharp dental probe.  The arrow to the left below marks this.  Using the Dremel tool, I mount a 1mm sized bit and drill a hole at that point – but not going through!  This hole acts like a controlled back-fire to stop the progress of a forest fire.  This will not allow the crack to continue creeping.  With the use of a toothpick, I spot-drop Hot Stuff CA Instant Glue in the hole and along the line of the crack which I expanded microscopically by partially inserting the tenon into the mortise.  This allows the CA glue better penetration to seal the crack.  I remove the stem immediately after the application of CA.  With the CA glue still wet, I apply briar dust to/in the hole and along the crack to encourage better blending.  The pictures show the progress. After some hours allowing the CA glue to cure on the shank repair, using a round grinding stone bit mounted on the Dremel, I reestablish an adequate and uniform internal bevel on the end of the shank to accommodate the base of the tenon when it is fully inserted into the mortise.  My theory is this is what caused the crack – lack of a sufficient internal bevel giving room for the slightly enlarged tenon as it merges with the stem proper.  With the Dremel engaged at the slowest setting, I’m careful to apply minimal pressure as I rotate the ball a bit to make sure it’s centered.  It looks good – the pictures show the progress.Due to a lapse of sorts and the intensity of my focus on re-seating the stem again without re-cracking the shank, I failed (or perhaps, had little desire) to take any pictures.  The short of it is, the stem and stummel have been reunited after some difficult times.  Also, not pictured are some of the basic steps: reaming the fire chamber of carbon cake buildup, cleaning the internals of the stummel and stem with cotton swabs and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95%, and cleaning the externals of the stummel with Murphy’s Soap.  Again, picking up the trail, pictured below is the micromesh pad process with the stem.  Using pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand the stem, followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and then 6000 to 12000.  I follow each cycle with an application of Obsidian Oil to revitalize the vulcanite.  The stummel surface shows quite a bit of pitting in the first picture shown again below.  The rim also shows nicks. On the larger pits shown below on the heel of the stummel, I spot-fill with a toothpick using CA glue and shorten the curing time by using an accelerator spray on the fills.  After filing and sanding the fills to the briar surface, using a progression of 3 sanding sponges from coarse, medium to light, I work out most the remaining pitting over the stummel surface.  Using 600 grit paper on the chopping block, I also give a light topping to the rim to remove nicks and create fresh lines for the rim.  Following the topping, I introduce an internal bevel to the rim, first using a coarse 120 paper rolled tightly, then with 240 and 600.  The internal rim bevel to me, always adds a touch of class but also helps create softer lines which enhances this Apples shape.  The pictures show the unhindered progress! I now take micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 and wet sand the stummel followed by dry sanding with micromesh pads 3200 to 4000 and then 6000 to 12000 taking a picture after each set to mark the progress.  I am careful to guard the BBB nomenclature on the shank sides.  As I move through these cycles, I realize that I have been so wrapped up in the technical aspects of this restoration for Greg, that I failed to see the beauty of this diminutive Apple shape.  The grain that emerges from Grandpa’s old timer is truly beautiful. Flame grain and swirls, with a few bird’s eyes accenting the whole – totally eye-catching for a Two Star sub-mark BBB I would say! To see the big picture to help determine the next steps, I reunite stem and stummel and stand back and take a good look.  This BBB Made in England is looking real good – in spite of everything!  I can see by the way the BBB Apple naturally sits on the surface, leaning slightly like a listing ship, but remaining upright, provides some clues regarding the significant pitting on the heel of the stummel – just off center. Greg’s grandfather undoubtedly and conveniently placed his pipe on a table or counter surface, or perhaps on a nearby crate, as he made his rounds as a malaria inspector for the province of Hong Kong.  The original BBB coloring leaned toward the favored darker hues of English pipe makers and client proclivities. I decide not to go that dark, but to stain the stummel using a light brown base with a touch of dark brown to tint it down that track a bit.  This will make for better blending, especially for the darker briar around the nomenclature on the shank.  Using Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye as the base, I add a touch of Fiebing’s Dark Brown.  Using a folded pipe cleaner in the shank as a handle, I begin by warming the stummel with a hot air gun to expand the briar making it more receptive to the dye.  After heated, I apply the dye mixture to the stummel generously aiming for total coverage.  I then fire the wet stummel with a lit candle igniting the aniline dye, burning off the alcohol and setting the pigment in the grain.  After a few minutes, I repeat the process concluding with firing the stummel.  I put the stummel aside to rest for several hours.  The pictures show the staining process – yes, you can see my blue fingers – I’ve started wearing latex gloves when I’m staining. After some hours, I’m looking forward to ‘unwrapping’ the fired stummel to reveal the stained briar beneath.  Using a felt buffing wheel mounted on the Dremel, set at the slowest speed, I use Tripoli compound to remove the initial layer.  Moving in a methodical, rotating pattern, I work my way around the stummel not apply a great deal of down-pressure on the wheel, but allowing the RPMs of the felt wheel and the compound to do the work. After removing the crusted layer with Tripoli, I wipe the surface with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  I do this not so much to lighten the finish, but to blend and even out the stain over the surface.  Following this, I mount a cotton cloth wheel on the Dremel, increase the speed slightly, and apply Blue Diamond – a slightly less abrasive compound.  After both compounds, I use a clean towel to hand buff the stummel to remove excess compound dust before applying the wax.  Pictures show the progress. Reattaching the stem and stummel, I apply several coats of carnauba wax to both.  Using a cotton cloth wheel, I set the speed of the Dremel to 2 with 5 being the fastest, I apply the carnauba and I like what I see.  With the carnauba wax applied, I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel and again buff the stummel and stem.  Finally, I apply a rigorous hand buff using a micromesh cloth to raise the shine more.

This BBB Double Star Apple has come a long way from England to Hong Kong to the US to Bulgaria, and now it’s ready to return to its new steward.  This restoration was a bit bumpy, but then, so is life.  I’m glad to help give this pipe a new lifetime and I hope Greg not only enjoys it, but that it provides a special connection with his past.  I’m sure Grandpa would be proud.  Thanks for joining me!

Bringing a Stanwell Jubilee Sixten Ivarrson Design 10M back to life


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe in the lot that my brother brought back from the recent estate sale was a beautiful little Stanwell Acorn with a vulcanite shank extension. The pipe had some nice birdseye on the left side of the bowl and shank and a mix of grain around the rest of the bowl. The point at the bottom of the bowl has a ring of grain with a centre at the bottom and turning around the bowl up the front and back of the underside of the shank. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank Stanwell over Regd. No. (an illegible number) over Jubilee. On the right side it is stamped 10M which is the shape number. The shape is a design by Sixten Ivarrson that was done for Stanwell. It has a military mount stem. The Stanwell Crown S in on the shank extension rather than on the stem. The photos that follow are one that Jeff took of the pipe before he cleaned up to send to me.Jeff took close up photos of the rim and the bowl to show the condition. There was a light cake in the bowl with an overflow of lava on the crowned rim top. The next two photos show the grain on the sides of the bowl. The third photo shows the ring at the bottom of the bowl radiating up the bowl sides. It is a beautifully grain piece of briar that the shape fits very well. The next two photos show the stamping on the sides of the shank. The left side shows the Stanwell stamp clearly as well as the Jubilee stamp. It also shows the Crown S on the shank extension. There is a Regd. No. that is very faint and unreadable.The stem had the now familiar tooth chatter and marks the top and underside near the stem. The dents/marks on the underside were worse than those on the top side.My brother cleaned up the pipe as he usually does before he sends it to me. He did an amazing job cleaning up the interior and the exterior. When the pipe arrived in Vancouver it was absolutely clean on the inside. He had cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until it was spotless. He had scrubbed exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and removed all of the grime on the bowl sides and the lava build up on the rim. I took the next four photos to show what the pipe looked like when it arrived here. The finish looked really good. The shank extension and stem were lightly oxidized. I took a close up photo of the rim to show how well it cleaned up. There was some darkening on the rim top. The grain really stood out well on the crowned rim. The inner edge of the rim was in excellent condition.I took some photos of the stem top and underside to show the oxidation and the tooth chatter and marks on the surface near the button.I sanded the shank extension with micromesh sanding pads to remove the oxidation. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. I buffed the shank extension and the bowl with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the vulcanite. I use an acrylic paint to fill in the Crown S on the left side of the shank extension. Once the paint dried I buffed it off with Blue Diamond to remove the excess paint and leave some in the stamped impression in the vulcanite. There is still some oxidation in the vulcanite of the extension that needed to be polished out but the buffing would take care of that. The photos tell the story.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation on the surface. I followed that by sanding with 320 grit sandpaper to remove the scratches. I polished the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and gave it a rub down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I buffed it with Blue Diamond between the 2400 and 3200 grit pads and between the 4000 and the 6000 grit pads. I gave it a final buff after the 12000 grit pad and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set the stem aside to dry. I put the stem back in the shank extension and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I buffed it until the remaining scratches and oxidation were gone. The grain really began to stand out as I buffed the pipe. I gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect the briar and the vulcanite. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a beautifully grained pipe that is laid out well with the piece of briar. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside bowl diameter: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. It is a pipe that I would normally hang on to for my own collection but I have a similar one already so I am going to put it on the rebornpipes store. It is available to anyone who wants to add it to their collection, their pipe rack. Just let me know if you are interested. Email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a private message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

Breathing New Life into an Iwan Ries Jacques 169 Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table from the estate sale to be refurbished is a small apple that is stamped JACQUES on the left side of the shank and Iwan Ries & Co on the right side. It is also stamped 169 (Shape Number) on the underside of the shank at the stem/shank junction. The piece of briar is really a beauty with a mix of grains. The right side of the bowl has some beautiful birdseye grain that just pops. The combination of the yellow, cream coloured Lucite stem with the medium brown stain on the bowl works well and brings out the reds in the briar. Jeff took some photos of the pipe when he brought it home and before he worked his magic cleaning it up. He took some photos of the pipe to show the condition. The first of these shows the cake in the bowl and the lava overflow on the rim top. The rounded rim top looked like it was also darkened but I would know for sure once he had cleaned the top of the bowl.The next three photos show the stamping on the bowl. It is sharp and readable. There are also three stars on the left side of the taper stem as well. On the underside of the stem it is also stamped France. I am not sure if that is in reference to the entire pipe or just the stem being made in France. The next series of close up photos of the bowl show the overall condition of the pipe. The first photo shows the damaged fills on the left front of the bowl. These will need to be picked out and repaired to take care of the crumbling putty. The following photos show the now familiar tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem near the button. Unfortunately they are a bit hard to see as the colour of the Lucite obscures them. The top has tooth chatter and the underside has both chatter and a few deeper tooth marks.My brother worked his cleanup magic on the pipe and when it came to me the bowl had been reamed and cleaned. The airway in the shank and stem had been scrubbed with alcohol and pipe cleaners and the mortise cleaned with cotton swabs and alcohol. The pipe was in pristine condition internally. All I had to do was rework the fills and sand out the tooth marks on the stem. The next four photos show the pipe upon arrival in Vancouver. Jeff had been able to remove the cake in the bowl and all of the lava from the rim top. There was indeed some rim darkening that would need to be taken care of but it was very clean.  The second photo shows the ugly, damaged fills on the left front of the bowl.The stem looked really good and the tooth marks and chatter are even harder to see than in the previous photos but they are there.I picked out the damaged putty fills with a dental pick until they were clean. I wiped down the area with an alcohol dampened cloth to remove any remaining debris. I filled the areas with briar dust and clear super glue. It dries dark but that will work in these fills that follow the grain pattern of the bowl.Once the patch had dried I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the excess fill and then with 320 sandpaper to smooth that out a bit. I polished the repair with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit sanding pads to smooth out all the scratches. I touched up the repaired area with a dark brown stain pen. The colour of the stain matched the bowl perfectly and the fills blended in better than they were before.I hand buffed the bowl with a microfibre cloth to have a look at the rest of it and get a feel for the finished look. I ran a pipe cleaner through the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem to check for any debris that might have collected from my sanding. They were still very clean.Now it was time to take care of the tooth marks on the stem. I sanded them out with 220 grit sandpaper and smooth that out with 320 grit paper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down between each pad with a water dampened cotton pad to remove the sanding debris. I put the stem back on the pipe and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I am skittish about buffing Lucite as it can heat up quickly and then make a mess of the work that has been done. I used a gentle touch to buff the stem and powered through buffing the bowl and shank. I took care not to damage the stamping on the shank. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 5/8 inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It turned out to be a beautiful pipe and the repaired fills look better than when it left the factory. This one is available if you want to add it to your rack. Email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send a private message via Facebook if you are interested. Thanks for looking.

Restoring a beautiful Barling Vintage 6279 Pot


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe from the estate lot my brother found and sent to me was a Barling Pot. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Barling over London England there is a thin line and under that it reads Vintage. On the underside of the shank it is stamped 6279 which is the shape number. My brother took the following photos of the pipe when he got home from the estate sale. These document the state of the pipe before he started his cleanup.Jeff took some photos of the rim top and the condition of the bowl. The bowl had a thick cake in it and it had overflowed onto the beveled rim top with a thick coat of lava.The next two photos show the grain on the pipe. There was one small sandpit on the bottom front of the bowl and another on the right side of the bowl. Both have been filled with tan putty that blends in really well with the stain on the briar.The next two photos show the stamping on the pipe. The first shows the left side and the second shows the underside of the shank. My brother had also turned the stem over to show the Barling cross on the stem. It had faded and the white paint that is usually in it was gone.The last two photos showed the now familiar tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside of the stem next to the button. Fortunately these were not too deep in the vulcanite either and should be able to be cleaned up quite easily.Dating Barling pipes always proves interesting to me. I get all of the eras confused and find that pinning down some dates is difficult if not nigh on impossible (at least for me). The four digit shape number was the first thing I checked out. I found a catalogue page from a 1962 Barling Catalogue on Pipedia’s post on Barling Pipes that gave me a listing of shape numbers. The 6279 shape is a Pot Bevel with a flat stem according to the chart. The pipe I have indeed a Pot shape with a beveled rim top. However, it did not have a flat stem. It had a taper stem. That was the first anomaly I found regarding this pipe. I like the taper stem on this one. It works well with the shape. (I have outlined the shape of this pipe with a blue box in the photo below.)I did some more work on the internet to try to figure out when the Vintage finish pipes were made and sold. I read several articles but found nothing specific until I found another article on Pipedia under the following heading. I quote that section of the article in full.

Lines and Nomenclature (https://pipedia.org/index.php?title=Barling)

During the late 1970’s additional lines of pipes were introduced and the Company was restyled as Barling of England. In the late 1970’s production of Barling pipes was shifted to Denmark where Eric Nording manufactured Barling pipes for Imperial. There may have been other factories, but as of this writing, none has been identified. Nording stated that he made approximately 100.000 pipes for Imperial.

It was at this point that Ronald Harden, general manager of Barling, stepped in to attempt to save the brand from extinction. Through the efforts of Mr. Harden, Bucktrout and Company bought the rights to the Barling name and at this point operations were moved to the Isle of Man with Mr. Harden as chairman. The company was renamed Barling Pipes Ltd. From that point on, the goal was to restore the old tradition of pipemaking from the family era. New equipment was installed and pipes were made following the Pre-Transition patterns. In 1980, rather than becoming a footnote in pipemaking history, the new line of Barling pipes was introduced.

Some of the Pre-Transition nomenclature was restored, such as the old SS thru EXEXEL size system even though the pipes continued to be stamped with a 4-digit number that also included a size designation. The use of a “Barling’s Make” block letter logo was reintroduced on the 1978 series of pipes, though the logo is on one line with no arched lettering. And both the “Ye Olde Wood” and “TVF” stamping was brought back.

Barling was established as a mid market level pipe and remained such through a portion of the 1990’s. Most recently inexpensive pipes bearing the Barling name, but made by Peterson have been available for sale in the US.

The first highlighted box above gives the information on the Vintage finish Barling in the part of the quoted article that notes the four ranges. The one I had was found in Number 2 above. The information included there gave me a starting date of the late 1970’s for the manufacture of the Barling that I was working on. In the second highlighted box I found a date of 1980 when Imperial closed down Barling operations entirely. This gives a 5-7 year window when the pipe could have been made. So I am working on either a 40-42 year old pipe or a 30-32 year old pipe. I was actually successful in finding the information on the little Barling Vintage Pot that was on my work table. Better informed than when I began, I could turn my attention to working on the pipe itself.

I took the next four photos of the pipe when it arrived in Vancouver. My brother had done an exceptional job cleaning it up. The pipe looked really good. The finish was clean and the rim was spotless. I took a close up photo of the rim to show the condition it was in when it came. Jeff had reamed it really well and had cleaned off all of the lava on the rim. Somehow the lava had protected the beveled rim from damage or burn marks. It was in excellent shape.The stem showed oxidation as well as tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. The Barling cross on the stem was faded but it was well stamped and could be repainted.I ran a pipe cleaner and alcohol through the airway in the stem and the shank and cleaned out the mortise with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove any remaining tars or oils in those areas. The pipe was really clean as I expected.I buffed the stem with red Tripoli and wiped it down with a damp cotton pad to remove the dust and grit that remained in the Barling Cross. I painted that area on the stem with white acrylic paint to fill in the vertical and horizontal Barling name that was crossed on the top side of the stem near the tenon end. I pushed the paint into the letters and wiped off the excess with a soft, dry cotton pad.I buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the briar. You can see the three small filled sandpits in the first photo and the one toward the bottom of the bowl in the second photo. The fourth photo shows three small fills on the bottom of the bowl. I circled the fills in red in the photos. These fills showed me what I was expecting in a pipe from this era. In the second highlighted portion of the Pipedia article that spoke of closing the pipe, it noted that:“Despite these attempts to diversify the line, Barling lost its market. These pipes just weren’t equivalent to the family era pipes.” I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to working on the stem. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I buffed the stem with red Tripoli to further remove the oxidation on the stem. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads to polish it further. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad to enliven the vulcanite. I gave it a final coat after the 12000 grit pad and set it aside to dry. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads as well. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and wiped it down with a damp cotton pad. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and wiped it down after each set of three sanding pads. The more I polished the briar the more the fills on the right side and the front began to blend into the briar. Notice how they are disappearing in the following photos. After polishing with the final three pads (6000-12000 grit) the briar really shined and the fills though still present did not stick out so much. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave both multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a beautiful pipe. Even the small fills that are around the sides and bottom of the bowl do not detract from the great shape and look of the pipe. This Barling Vintage pipe will soon be on sale on the rebornpipes store. It will make a great addition to someone’s rack and should be a good smoker as the mechanics are really well done. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside bowl diameter: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. Check it out there and if you are interested email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook and the pipe can be yours. Thanks for looking.

Restoring a Savinelli Extra 606KS with an Accidental Stem


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe from the estate lot that I brought to my work table was a Savinelli Extra Bent Billiard. It is stamped Savinelli in an oval over Extra on the left side of the shank and on the right side was the Savinelli shield with an S inside and to the left of that was the shape number 606KS over Italy. It was a great looking piece of briar with swirled grain on the left side of the bowl and birdseye on the right side and cross grain and mixed grain around the shank and the front and back of the bowl. Even the rim has some nice grain.

The odd thing was that the stem that was on the pipe was obviously not the right one. The diameter of the shank and the stem did not match. It was a saddle stem and was a little shorter than the original one. It was obvious that the estate owner had put the stem in place on the shank and used it on this pipe because it had the same tooth chatter and marks as the rest of the lot.

My brother took photos of the pipe before he cleaned it up. I have included those here. There was a cake in the bowl and the lava had overflowed onto the rim top. The lava was heavier on the back side of the rim top. The inner bevel and the outer edge of the bowl were protected and they looked to be in good shape under the grime.He took some close up photos of the bowl sides and bottom of the bowl to show the grain and the condition of the pipe. The next photos show the tooth chatter and tooth marks on both sides of the stem near the button. Even though it was the incorrect stem it was definitely the one that had been used by the owner of the rest of the pipes.My brother did a thorough cleaning of the pipe – the bowl had been reamed and the finish scrubbed with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime and the tarry build up on the rim top and beveled inner edge. The inside had been scrubbed clean as well. When the pipe arrived in Vancouver it was very clean. I took the next four photos to show the condition of the pipe when it arrived here. I took a close up photo of the rim and the inside of the bowl to show how clean both were. He had really done a great job on the bowl and rim.The next two photos show the condition of the stem but what you should notice is how the diameter of the shank and the stem do not match. The stem is slightly smaller in diameter than the shank. The joint is circled in red in both photos below. Look at the difference in the shank and the stem diameter inside the red circle.My brother has picked up my habit of picking up loose stems along with pipes and he saw a stem sitting at the sale. It was priced high so he left it and went back the next day to pick it up half price. He bought it, cleaned it and put it in the box of cleaned pipes that he sent to Vancouver. When I unpacked the box I put the stem on the top of my work table. When I was working on this pipe I happened to glance at the stem on the table. It looked like it was the correct diameter stem for the Savinelli. There was a faint Savinelli Crown stamp on the left side of the stem. I was pretty sure that this was the right stem for the pipe. I removed the incorrect stem from the shank and put the new stem in place there. The fit was perfect and it looked really good. The new stem also had the characteristic tooth chatter and marks as all of the other stems. They are on both sides of the stem near the button. The stem was also lightly oxidized.I sanded the tooth marks and chatter with 320 grit sandpaper to remove them from the surface of the vulcanite. Fortunately like the other stems the tooth marks and chatter were not too deep in the stem surface.I ran a pipe cleaner and alcohol through the airway in the shank and stem and folded it and wiped the inside of the mortise clean. The pipe was spotless on the inside.I cleaned up the remnants of cake in the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I scraped the cake back to bare briar and smoothed out the bowl walls.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. At this point the light of the flash revealed more oxidation on the stem.I put the stem in the shank and buffed the pipe with red Tripoli to remove more of the oxidation from the stem surface. I polished it again with 3200-4000 grit micromesh pads and rubbed it down with another coat of Obsidian Oil. It is definitely improving but there is still oxidation that is showing through in the flash.I buffed it hard with Blue Diamond with the stem in the shank and was able to remove the remaining oxidation. I polished it with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it another coat of Obsidian Oil.I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond a final time to polish it and remove the small minute scratches. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine in the stem and briar. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a beautiful grained piece of briar and with the correct stem it looks much like it must have looked the day it left the factory. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outer bowl diameter: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. This beauty will also be going on the rebornpipes store and can be added to your collection. If it interests you contact me by email at slaug@uniserve.com or by private message on Facebook.