Blog by Al Jones (aka “upshallfan”)
We had some glorious weather in the Maryland/Virgina area in September and one beautiful Sunday, the wife and I drove down to Winchester, VA in the MGB. We toured Patsy Cline’s home (that has been on our list). Winchester is also home to JB Hayes Tobacconist, a fine pipe shop. I didn’t find anything there, but we also made several antique/junk shop stops as I was on the hunt for an old cabinet to re-purpose for my pipe collection. I didn’t have any luck with a cabinet, but did spy this old Falcon in a case. For a few bucks, it was mine ($3 from memory).
The bowl top was pretty beat up and scorched, but the rest of the pipe and stem looked in decent shape. I had never seen a metal pipe in person to this point and was curious as to how it was assembled or if it held any restoration challenges. Here are some pictures of the pipe as I found it.
The pipe broke down without drama and the bowl top screwed off nicely, but the threads were just about perfect. I reamed the bowl, which has a fairly thick cake. The bowl was quite tall and I thought it would look best topped and refinished. I sanded the bowl top smooth with some 320 grit paper flat on my workbench, followed by 800 grit wet paper, using water. I immersed the bowl in a shot glass full of isopropyl alcohol, you can’t do that with a briar pipe!
While the pipe bowl was soaking, I turned my attention to the metal bowl and stem. The stem had some teeth abrasions but no real dents. To me, the stem was somewhat “plasticky” but the fellow who ended up purchasing this one said they are quite durable and clenching doesn’t seem to harm them. The bottom of the metal bowl had some mild build-up, which I removed with some fine steel wool. I buffed the metal parts with white diamond and then red rouge. The metal shined up nicely, but I suspect will dull quickly over time.
I used 1500 and then 2000 grit wet sandpaper on the stem and was able to remove most of the abrasions. I then polished it with 8000 and 12000 grit micromesh cloth. It was also buffed with white diamond.
Once the bowl was soaked, the stain sanded off nicely with 800 grit paper. This revealed a number of fills. I decided a two-stage stain would cover up those fills nicely. I warmed the bowl with a hair dryer, then applied a full coat of black stain. I lit the stain with flame to “set” it into the grain. After it dried, I sanded the stain off with alcohol and 800 grit paper. I then removed more of the black stain with tripoli on the buffer. A very light, almost transparent coat of brown stain was applied over the black.
Once dry, the bowl was buffed with white diamond and then several coats of carnuba wax. I’m very pleased with the finish and the two stage stain hid the fills nicely.
And finally the finished pipe.