Tag Archives: repairing a bite through with black super glue and charcoal powder

New Life for a Brigham Can. Pat. 372982 Select Club (Lovat) 299


Blog by Steve Laug

I have been working on Peterson’s pipes from my friend’s estate for the last little while and I needed a break from them for a while. I chose to work a Canadian Made Brigham Mixed Grain Lovat for a change of pace. The Lovat was stamped on the underside of the shank with faint stamping visible with a lens under light. It reads Can. Pat. 372982 followed by Brigham underlined and in script. On the heel of the bowl it was stamped with the shape number 299. There was a thick cake in the bowl with remnants of tobacco stuck on the walls. There was a lava overflow on the rim. The top and edges of the rim appear to have some damage. There is damage all the way around the outside edges of the bowl. The grain on the smooth portion of the bowl was a combination of grains. Once again, I think that there was a beautiful pipe underneath all of the buildup of years of use. The stem was oxidized and calcified toward the end with some tooth chatter. There were also some tooth marks on both sides of the stem ahead of the button and on the button surface itself. There was a pattern of two brass dots on the left side of the saddle stem. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work on it. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the thick, hard cake in the bowl with remnants of tobacco stuck on the walls of the bowl. There was a lava build up on the top of the rim and the edges of the bowl. The rim top had a lot of scratching and damage on the top and around the inner and outer edges. It looked like it had been used for a hammer. He took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth chatter, scratching and oxidation on the stem surface and wear on the edges of the button. Jeff took a photo of the side and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish. You can see the beautiful grain around the smooth portions on the top half of the bowl. The rustication is well done and rugged. Even under the dirt and debris of the years it looked very good. The stamping is very faint and cannot be captured very well even with a flash. What you can see reads as noted above. He included a pic of the two brass dots on the stem. For the needed background I am including the information from Pipedia on Brigham pipes. It is a great read in terms of the history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Brigham_Pipes). Charles Lemon (Dadspipes) is currently working on a book on the history of the brand. Until that is complete this article is a good summary. I have included it below.

Roy Brigham, after serving an apprenticeship under an Austrian pipesmith, started his own pipe repair shop in Toronto, in 1906. By 1918 the business had grown to include five other craftsmen and had developed a reputation across Canada for the high quality of workmanship. After repairing many different brands of pipes over the years, Roy noted certain recurring complaints by pipe smokers, the most common referred to as “tongue bite”. Tongue bite is a burning sensation on the smoker’s tongue, previously thought to be due to the heat of the smoke (i.e. a “hot smoking pipe”).

He soon began manufacturing his own pipes, which were lightweight, yet featured a more rugged construction, strengthening the weak points observed in other pipes. The problem of tongue bite intrigued him, and he decided to make overcoming it a future goal.

About 1938, Roy’s son Herb joined him to assist in the business. The business barely survived the great depression because pipes were considered to be a luxury, not a necessity, and selling pipes was difficult indeed. In approximately 1937 [1], after some experimentation, Roy and Herb discovered that tongue bite was in fact a form of mild chemical burn to the tongue, caused by tars and acids in the smoke. They found that by filtering the smoke, it was possible to retain the flavour of the tobacco and yet remove these impurities and thereby stop the tongue bite.

Just as Thomas Edison had searched far and wide for the perfect material from which to make the first electric light bulb filaments, Roy & Herb began experimenting with many materials, both common and exotic, in the quest for the perfect pipe filter. Results varied wildly. Most of the materials didn’t work at all and some actually imparted their own flavour into the smoke. They eventually found just two materials that were satisfactory in pipes: bamboo and rock maple. As bamboo was obviously not as readily available, rock maple then became the logical choice.

They were able to manufacture a replaceable hollow wooden tube made from rock maple dowelling, which when inserted into a specially made pipe, caused absolutely no restriction to the draw of the pipe, yet extracted many of the impurities which had caused tongue bite. The result was indeed a truly better smoking pipe…

I have written to Charles Lemon (Dadspipes) previously about Patent Number pipes and since this was another one I referred to a previous blog I had written about the stamping on a 2199 Lovat shaped pipe. He responded with information that I am including in part below.

Hey Steve! Good to hear from you.

Shape 2199 is what most would call a Lovat. Brigham called it a Club for whatever reason- just to be different, perhaps!…As these are all Patent pipes, it’s more accurate to refer to their grade by name (the post 1980 grading scheme refers to Dots). Here is the original scheme: With the information from Charles’ message and the chart above that he included I knew what I was dealing with in terms of the stamping and the age of this pipe. I learned that this Patent Era 299 (the 2XX shape number) is a Brigham Select (2-Dot) Lovat or what they call a Club. It was made between 1938 and 1955. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

I am really happy to have Jeff’s help on cleaning up the pipes that we pick up along the way. He cleaned this filthy pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with great looking grain around the top half of the bowl and great rustication on the rest of the bowl and shank. Jeff soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. He scrubbed it with Soft Scrub All Purpose Cleaner to remove the majority of the oxidation. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour I was amazed it looked so good. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. I wanted to show how well it had cleaned up. The rim top and edges show a darkening and the damage on the inner and outer edges of the rim. I took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks on the surface and on the button.   I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. You can see that it is stamped as noted above. It is faint but readable. I took the pipe apart and took a photo of the pipe. It is a good looking pipe and has some great grain around the bowl and shank.I decided to start my restoration work on this one by dealing with the damaged rim top and edges. I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the darkening and damage. I worked over the inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. The rim top and edges looked much better at this point.I polished the smooth portions of the bowl and the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. After each pad I wiped the briar down with a damp cloth. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. With that done the bowl was finished other than the final buffing. I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the tooth damage with CA glue and rebuilt the button edge on the topside. Once the repairs had cured I used a file to recut the button edge and flatten out the repaired spots. I sanded out the repaired tooth marks and chatter with 220 grit sand paper to blend them into the rest of the stem surface. I started to polish it with a folded piece of 400 wet dry sandpaper. Once it was finished it had begun to shine.  Before I finished the polishing stem I decided to fit the clean stem with a new Rock Maple Distillator.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I am excited to finish this first of the Brighams that I have on the table – a nice looking Lovat, or as Brigham calls it a Club. It has a combined finish with a smooth top half of the bowl and the rest of the bowl and shank were rusticated with the normal Brigham rustication. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the grain popping through on the top half of the bowl and the rustication on the rest of the bowl and shank. Added to that the polished black vulcanite stem with two shining brass pins was beautiful. This mixed grain finish Brigham 2 Dot Lovat/Club is nice looking and the pipe feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 43grams/1.52ounces. It is a beautiful pipe and one that will be on the rebornpipes store soon. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman. 

New Life for a Bessai Special X JB Diamond Shank Pot


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from an online auction in Kingman, Arizona, USA.  The pipe is an interesting looking piece – a smooth oil finished Diamond Shank Bent Pot pipe with some nice grain around the bowl. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Bessai [over] Special (over) X and a subscript JB. There was a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the briar. The bowl was heavily caked with a thick lava coat on the top of the beveled rim. The inside edges looked to be in good condition. The overall look of the rim appears to be good under the thick lava coat. The stem had tooth chatter and marks on the top and a bite through on the underside near the button. There was a JB in a circle logo on the saddle stem. It had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work.    He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and tobacco debris as well as thick lava coat on the top. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the oxidation and the chatter and tooth marks on the topside and the bite through on the underside near the button.    Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar looked like. There is some nice grain around the sides. You can also see the damage to the rim edges and the heel of the bowl in the photos below.    The stamping on the left side of the shank is clear and readable and read as noted above.     I have worked on quite a few Bessai pipes over the years and back in 2014 I restemmed a bowl. I wrote a blog on the pipe and did quite an extensive amount of research on the brand (https://rebornpipes.com/2014/07/14/restemming-and-restoring-a-john-bessai-special-diamond-shank-bent-brandy/). I am including that information here for ease of reference. If you have read it before feel free to skip ahead to the work on the pipe.

HISTORY & BACKGROUND

I started out with what I had found previously and written about on the blog. I quote the following paragraph from Pipedia http://pipedia.org/index.php?title=Bessai

John Bessai was a long time pipemaker, repairman and tobacco shop owner who operated his pipe shop at the “Old Arcade” in Cleveland, Ohio. The shop was opened in approximately 1898. It was a small 2-room shop where he hand-crafted his own pipes in the back room and could work when customers were not there. Like so many other shop made brand, John Bessai’s limited production was quickly acquired by regular customers and thus his craftsmanship remained little known outside of Ohio and the Midwest. While his name is known by pipe collectors in the Midwest, his work is seldom seen elsewhere! He died before 1969. Nevertheless, John Bessai left behind a small number of classic shaped pipes; all were made on-site. They are praised worthy of collecting and reflecting skills well beyond most American pipe makers. John Bessai’s logo “JB” appeared as one letter as the “back” of the “J” and the “back” of the “B” share a single line. The logo was stamped on the stem and on the left side of the shank. His son Herb Bessai took over the business and also continued making pipes. He closed the shop in about 1978.

I suspected that there would be more information three years later. I did some further research and came across the information found in the paragraph below on one of the pipe forums.

John Bessai was located in the Colonial Arcade at least into the late 1980s. After his death, his son Herb ran the shop. It was taken over after Herb’s retirement by a male and then name was changed to “Old Erie Pipes”. This was then located in the Erieview Plaza and when that mall closed, taken over by Cousin’s Cigars which has a store on Euclid Avenue near CSU, and a store on Chagrin Boulevard in Woodmere Village.

Finally my digging paid off. On one of the pipe forums I came across a link that led me to a gold mine of information gathered by a man after my own heart, Andrew Hross. He has a blog called Classic Pipe Shop on Blogspot. I have included the link below for those who want more information. Andrew has done an amazing job of gathering information on the Bessai Brand so rather than rewrite the history I am quoting portions of Andrew’s work on The John Bessai Pipe Clinic. (http://classicpipeshop.blogspot.ca/2014/04/the-john-bessai-pipe-clinic-information.html)

The John Bessai Pipe Clinic, 35 Colonial Arcade, Cleveland, OH 44115 – by Andrew HrossOwner(s):

**John Bessai 1920s until his passing in 1969, **Herb Bessai ~1962-1983, **Daniel Gottschall 1984-~1993, **Purchased by Dad’s Smoke Shop / Cousin’s Smoke Shop and rolled into the Old Erie Smoke Shop about 1993. Cousin’s Cigars purchased the remaining stock of Bessai pipes near after Herb Bessai passed away in 2002.

Years of Operation: 1920s (unkown specific date at this time) – 1983. After 1983 the business was sold to Daniel Gottschall who later sold it to Cousin’s Cigar (Euclid Ave) around 1993. The name was changed to “Old Erie Tobacco Company”. They were forced to move to the Galleria when all the tenants of the Old Arcade were cleared out to make room for renovations. Their new address was The Galleria at Erieview, 1301 East 9th Street in Cleveland…

…John’s son Herb took over the shop in the early 60s after he graduated from Cleveland State University / Fenn College (unclear) as he is listed as having played Basketball for CSU. Herb was also a helpful, informative and friendly individual.

Pipes offered by John Bessai Pipe Clinic: Most of the pipes that were offered by the John Bessai Pipe Clinic were fairly standard in shape… I would say most of the pipes Bessai offered were smooth pipes. My assessment would be 90% smooth and 10% rusticated / sandblasted…

…The story is that John crafted pipes in the back room or off site and finished them in house while the store wasn’t busy. Very little information is available on the accuracy of this statement. Some of his pipes from the late 1960s through the 1970s (John passed away in 1969) I feel were left over stock from previous turnings and sometimes showed fills or sand pits. Some of these pipes even carry Herb’s markings (see below). These pipes still smoke very well but are not as eye-appealing as other earlier pipes from the store’s career.

Stampings and rough dating of John Bessai Pipe Clinic Pipes: Which pipes did John make and which ones did Herb make/finish? All Bessai pipes carry his standard large JB stamp either on the stem or shank or both. Typically the JB on the stem is within a circle.

All pipes created by John Bessai’s hands reportedly contain the miniscule ‘jb’ stamp on the shank or body of the pipe. I have older pipes in my possession that do not contain this stamp (condenser, old stamps, etc) that were clearly shop made pipes. I feel he started using the tiny ‘jb’ stamp in the 50s to early 60s.

An interesting note about John Bessai’s stems – they always clean very nicely and aren’t prone to as much oxidation (that brownish / green color) as most Dunhill and Charatan pipes tend to oxidize. His cuts to his stems were very impressive and often transitioned from diamond-shaped shanks almost architecturally. Very comfortable to smoke.

John Bessai Special Pipes:

… I have a couple Bessai Special pipes. These stand out either by large size, graining or possibly shape. Most Specials are unique pipes and are rare to find in comparison to his regular issue pipes.

John Bessai Special X pipes:

I only have one of these and it’s a beauty. This one is a larger bowl (around a group 4 Dunhill) with deep colored grain and a hefty substantial shank. Special X pipes are probably the rarest of John Bessai pipes and should be sought out if possible. I’ve smoke mine roughly 4 or 5 times and it performs with the best of my pipes…

Herb Bessai Pipes:

Unfortunately none of these pipes that I’ve seen have astounded me with grain or general appearance. Having said this, these pipes smoke nicely and are a great value if you can find them. I have one that my father found at an Antique Show in the South. There’s another author shape on reborn pipe’s blog that someone refinished because of the amount of fills in the pipe. He also states it’s a wonderful smoker (Editor’s note: This is my pipe and the write up I did on the blog). These pipes are likely from the late 60s through the early 70s. I believe many pipes after this period were created en masse at a factory in the US. It is unclear what stamp was used on these later pipes…

Dating / Circa era Bessai Pipes: If the pipe carries a stamp stating Cleveland, O U.S.A. it’s considered an older production pipe (pre1960s). I’ve not seen any newer pipes with that stamp.

Bullseye stamping usually indicates an earlier pipe as that stamp seems to have been abandoned pre1960 as well.

Most of the earlier Bessai pipes have an unusual ‘stinger’ or condenser at the end of the tenon which is unique to Bessai pipes. They are either a hard plastic or created out of wood. They are typically easy to remove and could have been easily lost if misplaced. These pipes I would consider pre-1960 and possibly 1940s-early 1950s production based on their stamps and patina of the pipes.

1970s 1980s and beyond: My feeling on these pipes after John’s passing is that they purchased finished pipes from a large manufacturer and stamped them with the John Bessai or Bessai stamp (on shank and/or stem). Most of these shapes are standard among many stores from that period and offer less than spectacular grain (and sometimes fills). Stamps on these pipes are probably fairly plain and don’t have the tiny ‘jb’ stamp on the shank indicating it was produced by John Bessai…

The pipe in hand was a John Bessai Special X pipe so it is a rare one. It has a larger bowl (around a group 4 Dunhill) with deep colored grain and a hefty substantial shank. It has an excellent transition between a large bowl and a diamond shank and stem flowing into a flat blade. Special X pipes are probably the rarest of John Bessai pipes and should be sought out if possible. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.   The rim top cleaned up really well. The rim top and outer edge of the bowl show some darkening more prevalent toward the back of the bowl. The stem surface looked very good with tooth marks and chatter on the top side and a bite through on the underside near the button.  The stamping on the left side of the shank is clear and readable. It reads as noted above.    I removed the saddle stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. I worked on the rim top and edges with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the darkening and damage. Once I was done sanding it looked much better and it was ready to polish.   I polished the repaired areas and the rest of the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth.  Once I had polished the rim top I used a Maple stain pen to touch up the rim top. I knew that once it was polished it would blend in very well. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The grain came alive. I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I mixed a batch of charcoal powder and Loctite Black CA glue on piece of cardboard and cellotape. I stirred the mixture until I had a putty-like substance. I greased a folded pipe cleaner with Vaseline and inserted it in the slot in the airway under the bite through. I used a dental spatula to fill in the bite through on the underside and the deep tooth mark on the topside. I sprayed it with an accelerator to harden it and then removed the pipe cleaner.  Once the repairs cured I used a file and a rasp to smooth out the repair. Once I had it smoothed as much as possible with the files. I filed in the air pockets in the repair with black super glue. Once it cured I used 220 grit sandpaper to further smooth the finish.   I touched up the gold circle JB stamp with Rub’n Buff Antique Gold. I pressed it into the stamp with a tooth pick then buffed it off with a soft cloth.    I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.   This Bessai Special X JB stamped Diamond Shank Bent Pot is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The smooth oil cured finish around the bowl is quite beautiful and highlights the grain and works well with the polished rebuilt vulcanite saddle stem. The repaired bite through on the underside of the stem looks much better and is now smooth to touch. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Bessai Special X JB Bent Pot fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 48g/1.69oz. I am not sure what I am doing with this one yet. It may well end up on the store. Keep an eye open for it. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

A Tale of the Rebirth of 3 Pipes – Pipe #1 – a Comoy’s Grand Slam Pipe 64 Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

Last week I received an email from a fellow named Stanley who had gotten my info from the local Pipe and Cigar shop. He wrote that he had a trio of Comoy’s pipes that needed to be worked on. Two of them were Grand Slam Pipes and one was a Tradition. We connected via email and he said he would drop them off this week for me to work on. I am including part of his email so you have a sense of what I would be working on. I am also including the two photos that he attached to the email for me to see.

Hey Steve,

I had recently the chance to talk to a very kind and excellent gentleman over at City Cigar, I unfortunately was never able to get his name. However I mentioned I was looking for some replacement stems and he gave me your info…

…The pipes in question are attached in photos, I’ve never done any sort of pipe restoration in my life but I have attempted to take the cake down with a pocket knife. If you’d do it, would you be able to do a ream/clean on the three, as well as deal with the stems?

If possible, I’d prefer to save the original stems by repairing them, but it seems to me that most people remedy this problem with a replacement stem. Whatever you think is best I will go with.

If you think that I’d be better off without the stinger insert in the shape 64, then would you be able to remove it? I’m afraid I’d break the stem if I tried haha.

The 484b also seems to have a crack starting near the “Comoy’s Grand Slam” part of the shank, where it meets the stem. Is it possible to deal with this?

That is all! Please let me know what you think!

Thanks!  Stanley Last night Stanley stopped by and dropped off the three pipes. I took photos of pipes as there were when I opened the bag they were in. All three pipes were very dirty but the reaming had been started as noted in his email. The stems all had bite throughs on the underside. The bottom pipe in the photo below is a Grand Slam Pipe shape 64 Billiard. The stem has a 3 part C on the left side. The middle pipe is a Tradition 3591 Prince with 8 flattened panels on the bowl near the top. The stem also has a bite through and a missing divot. It also has a 3 part C on the left side. The top pipe in the photo is also Grand Slam Pipe 484B with a replacement stem that also has a bite through. The shank is also cracked on the left side.I decided to work on the Grand Slam Pipe 64 Billiard. It is a beautifully grained Comoy’s Billiard that really is a pipe of Pipe Smoking History. The stamping is the significant marker that points this out for me. It is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads COMOY’S [over] Grand Slam [over] Pipe. On the right side it has the shape number 64 next to the bowl/shank junction and that is followed by a Comoy’s COM stamp that reads Made in London in a circle [over] England. On the underside there was a *6 stamped at the stem/shank junction. The finish had a lot of grime ground into the smooth finish on the bowl and some darkening around the sides of the bowl. The bowl had been scraped but there was still a moderately heavy cake. There was an overflow of thick lava on the top of the rim and on the inner bevel of the bowl. It was hard to know what the rim top and inner edge of the bowl looked like under the grime. The stem was lightly oxidized and there was a large bite through on the underside. There was a three part inlaid C on the left of the taper stem. When the pipe arrived it had a Softee Bit over the damaged stem. The pipe had promise but it was very dirty. I took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. I took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the overflow of lava on the rim top. It is hard to know if there is damage to the inner edge of the bowl because of the lava coat. I also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the condition of the stem surface and the bite through on the underside.I took photos of the stamping on both sides and underside of the shank. They read as noted above. I also included a photo of the 3 part C logo on the left side of the taper stem.   I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. It is a well shaped billiard. Once the stem was off I noted that tenon had a Comoy’s Grand Slam metallic stinger threaded in the stem. It was missing the cap on the end that held the leather washer in place the apparatus was damaged and I would not be able to fit a new cap on the end. I would remove it from the tenon so that I could clean the stem and do the repairs.I looked on Pipephil’s site for information on the Comoy’s Grand Slam Pipe and found the following information I have included a screen capture (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-comoy.html). The one I am working on is like the second one in the screen capture below. It has the three part C which dated it to 1946 and following. The stamping is the same as the one I am working on. The *6 is the size of the washer on the end of the stinger.I turned to the article on Pipedia about dating Comoy’s pipes but the style of the stamping (https://pipedia.org/index.php?title=Comoy%27s_Dating_Guide#1917_to_the_end_of_the_1930.27s_.28at_least_1938.29). I have include the section in the screen capture below that date this pipe to the 1950s.

Now the Comoy’s stamp can be found in three variants in the 1950s

  1. A simple block-letter style without serifs but with the C larger than the other letters and the apostrophe before the “S”.
  2. A return to the slightly more fancy block letters with serifs and the apostrophe. (It seems that some grades carried different stamps, or at least that the stamping changed in different years for some grades.)
  3. A simple block-letter style without serifs and without the apostrophe and with the “C” the same size as the rest of the letters. This stamp was probably not used very long.
  4. A simple block-letter style without serifs but with the apostrophe before the “S” and with the “C” the same size as the rest of the letters.

Made in London England

Appears in two versions. This is again stamped in a circle with “MADE” at the top, “IN” in the middle, and “LONDON” at the bottom, with “ENGLAND” in a straight line beneath. It can be assumed that this stamp was first used in the export drive in the early 1950s. On a Bulldog Sandblast from the early 50s the Comoy name no. 2 above was used together with “MADE IN LONDON” over “ENGLAND”. There are no known examples of pre-WW II Comoy’s stamped in this way. The second version is the same as above but in a “rugby ball ” shape. This shape is verified on Comoy´s “Extraordinaire” pipes.

Inlaid “C”

C” was first inlaid in the side of the mouthpiece around 1919. This was a complex inlay needing three drillings. First, a round white inlay was inserted, then the centre of the white was drilled out, and a smaller round black inlay was inserted. Finally, another drilling was made to remove the open part of the “C,” and an even smaller black inlay was inserted. This inlaid “C,” known as the “three-piece C,” was continued until the Cadogan era in the 1980s. However, the “C” in the 1920s and early 30s is much thinner and more delicate than the one post-WW II.

That article gave me some helpful information regarding the pipe that I was working on. I knew that the stamping and logos identified the pipe as having been made in following WW2 and from what I can see from the above information it is a 1950s era pipe.

I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer using the 2nd and 3rd cutting head to remove the remaining cake back to briar. I followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the remnants of cake. I sanded the walls of the bowl with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. I scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. I rinsed it under running water and dried it off with a soft cloth.    I was able to remove some of the lava build up on the rim top and finished by scraping it with the Fitsall knife and then a piece of 220 grit sandpaper. There were some deep cuts on the bottom right side of the bowl and on the top right side near the edge. I filled these in with a spot of clear super glue.   I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth. I carefully avoided the stamping on the shank so as not to damage the stamping.   I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.    I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I heated the stinger with a Bic lighter and unscrewed it with a pair of pliers.I set aside the bowl and turned my attention to the stem repairs. I cut a piece of cardboard for a pallet, put aside two charcoal capsules, and set out the spatula and the Loctite 380 black CA glue. I greased a pipe cleaner with Vaseline and inserted it in the stem. I filled in the hole in the stem with a mixture of charcoal powder and Loctite. I used the spatula to fill in the bite throughs on all of the stems. I sprayed the repair with an accelerator to set the glue and removed the pipe cleaners from the stems.  I filled in the deep tooth marks on the top side of the stem with black super glue and set the stems aside to let the repairs cure. I took a photo of the three pipes at this point to give a feel for where things stood.   I smoothed out the repairs with a needle file and started blending them into the surface of the stem. I sanded the remaining repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to further blend it into the stem surface. I started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I took photos of both sides of the stem to show the repair work on both sides.     This 50s era Comoy’s Grand Slam Pipe 64 Billiard with a vulcanite taper stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. I did a lot of work on the bowl and repaired the bite through on the stem. The rich browns and blacks of the contrasting stains came alive with the polishing and waxing. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Comoy’s Medium Billiard is a beauty and fits nicely in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I am looking forward to what Stanley thinks of his repaired pipe. He had said the threesome were his favourite pipes. This is the first of  the three. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

A Brigham Patent Era Select 2199 Club (Lovat) from Bob Kerr’s Estate


Blog by Steve Laug

As I continue to work through the pipes in Bob Kerr’s Estate I am enjoying choosing different brands that he had to focus on for a bit. He had six different pipes from Brigham in his collection so I decided to work my way through that sub collection of the estate. Out of the 6 pipes, #5 has a ruined bowl with a crack all the way around it as well as a cut off aluminum tenon. #6 went to Paresh Deshpande in India for his collection. That left behind four pipes for me to restore – #1, #2, #3 and #4. Here is the list of what I saw when I examined the 6 pipes.

  1. Brigham 503T Can. Pat. 372982 5 Dot Stack. Stem is oxidized, tooth marks and chatter near the button, some calcification with damage to the button. Finish is dirty, thick cake and lava overflow on the rim top. Rim top has is worn and damage on the back edge. I have finished restoring this one. Here is the link: (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/12/21/a-brigham-patent-era-special-grain-stack-from-bob-kerrs-estate/).
  2. Brigham Made In Canada 691 3 Dot Canadian. Stem is oxidized, tooth marks and chatter near the button, some calcification with damage to the button. Finish is dirty, thick cake and lava overflow on the rim top. Rim top is worn and damaged.
  3. Brigham Made In Canada 2199 2 Dot Lovat. Stem is oxidized, tooth marks and chatter near the button, some calcification with damage to the button. Finish is dirty and worn. Stamping is worn. There is a thick cake and lava overflow on the rim top. Rim top is worn and damaged.
  4. Brigham Made In Canada 1 Dot Bing Crosby Style Pipe. Stem is oxidized, tooth marks and chatter near the button, some calcification with damage to the button. Finish is dirty, thick cake and lava overflow on the rim top. Rim top is worn and damage on the back edge.
  5. Brigham Made In Canada 6 Dot Bent Billiard. Stem is oxidized, tooth marks and chatter near the button, some calcification with damage to the button. The aluminum tenon has been cut off. Finish is dirty and worn with paint on the bowl. There is a thick cake and lava overflow on the rim top. Rim top has a crack on the right side.
  6. Brigham Made In Canada 4 Dot Canadian. Stem is oxidized, tooth marks and chatter near the button, some calcification with damage to the button. Finish is dirty and stamping is worn. There is a thick cake and lava overflow on the rim top. Rim top is worn and edges are damaged.

I chose to work on #3 next because of the issue with the stem. It is a Brigham Mixed Grain Lovat. It was stamped on the left side of the shank with faint stamping visible with a lens under light. It reads Brigham over Can. Pat. 372982. On the right side of the shank it was stamped with the shape number 2199. There was a thick cake in the bowl with remnants of tobacco stuck on the walls. There was a lava overflow on the rim. The top and edges of the rim appear to have some damage all the way around the bowl. The grain on the shank and bowl was a combination of grains. Once again, I think that there was a beautiful pipe underneath all of the buildup of years of use. The stem was oxidized and calcified toward the end with some tooth chatter. There were also some tooth marks on both sides of the stem ahead of the button. There was a bite through in the underside of the stem next to the button. There was a pattern of two brass dots on the left side of the saddle stem. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work on it. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the thick, hard cake in the bowl with remnants of tobacco stuck on the walls of the bowl. There was a lava build up on the top of the rim and the edges of the bowl. The rim top looked pretty good but it was hard to know for sure but it appeared that there was damage all around the inner edge. The outer edges of the rim looked to be in decent condition.  Jeff took a photo of the side and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish. You can see the beautiful grain around the side of the bowl and shank. Even under the dirt and debris of the years it looked very good. The stamping is very faint and cannot be captured even with a flash. He included a pic of the two brass dots on the stem and a few nicks in the shank edge.Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth chatter, scratching and oxidation on the stem surface and wear on the edges of the button. The second photo also shows the bite through on the underside near the button.  The third photo shows a close-up of the hole. I am also including the information from Pipedia’s article on Brigham pipes. It is a great read in terms of the history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Brigham_Pipes). Charles Lemon (Dadspipes) is currently working on a book on the history of the brand. Until that is complete this article is a good summary. I have included it below.

Roy Brigham, after serving an apprenticeship under an Austrian pipesmith, started his own pipe repair shop in Toronto, in 1906. By 1918 the business had grown to include five other craftsmen and had developed a reputation across Canada for the high quality of workmanship. After repairing many different brands of pipes over the years, Roy noted certain recurring complaints by pipe smokers, the most common referred to as “tongue bite”. Tongue bite is a burning sensation on the smoker’s tongue, previously thought to be due to the heat of the smoke (i.e. a “hot smoking pipe”).

He soon began manufacturing his own pipes, which were lightweight, yet featured a more rugged construction, strengthening the weak points observed in other pipes. The problem of tongue bite intrigued him, and he decided to make overcoming it a future goal.

About 1938, Roy’s son Herb joined him to assist in the business. The business barely survived the great depression because pipes were considered to be a luxury, not a necessity, and selling pipes was difficult indeed. In approximately 1937 [1], after some experimentation, Roy and Herb discovered that tongue bite was in fact a form of mild chemical burn to the tongue, caused by tars and acids in the smoke. They found that by filtering the smoke, it was possible to retain the flavour of the tobacco and yet remove these impurities and thereby stop the tongue bite.

Just as Thomas Edison had searched far and wide for the perfect material from which to make the first electric light bulb filaments, Roy & Herb began experimenting with many materials, both common and exotic, in the quest for the perfect pipe filter. Results varied wildly. Most of the materials didn’t work at all and some actually imparted their own flavour into the smoke. They eventually found just two materials that were satisfactory in pipes: bamboo and rock maple. As bamboo was obviously not as readily available, rock maple then became the logical choice.

They were able to manufacture a replaceable hollow wooden tube made from rock maple dowelling, which when inserted into a specially made pipe, caused absolutely no restriction to the draw of the pipe, yet extracted many of the impurities which had caused tongue bite. The result was indeed a truly better smoking pipe…

I wrote to Charles Lemon (Dadspipes) and asked him about the stamping on the pipe. He responded with information on all of the foursome. I am including the information on this particular pipe.

Hey Steve! Good to hear from you.

Shape 2199 is what most would call a Lovat. Brigham called it a Club for whatever reason- just to be different, perhaps!…As these are all Patent pipes, it’s more accurate to refer to their grade by name (the post 1980 grading scheme refers to Dots). Here is the original scheme:With the information from Charles’ message and the chart above that he included I knew what I was dealing with in terms of the stamping and the age of this pipe. I learned that this Patent Era 2199 is a Brigham Select (2-Dot) 01 Lovat or what they call a Club. It was made between 1938 and 1955. Most of Bob’s pipes were purchased in the 50s and 60s so my guess is that this is fits that time frame well. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

I am really happy to have Jeff’s help on cleaning up the pipes from Bob’s estate as the 125+ pipes were taking me a long time to do alone. He cleaned this filthy pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with great looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour I was amazed it looked so good. I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show what an amazing job Jeff did in the cleanup of the rim top. The rim top was darkened with nicks and notches around the top and inner edge. There is a deep scratch in the rim top that looks almost like a crack. I have drawn an arrow to the spot on the rim top. The inner edge was a little rough and looked like the bowl had burned at some time in its life. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks and chatter on the stem surface. There was a bite through on the underside of the stem near the button.  I took the stem off the shank to show the aluminum tenon/tube that was used to hold the Brigham Rock Maple Distillator. The original Distillator (filter) had been filthy so after Jeff had cleaned the pipe up he threw it away. I will replace it once I have finished with the restoration.This was a tough pipe to photograph the stamping on because it was very faint. When it starts out faint it is very easy to lose even that remnant of a stamp. But one of the things I appreciate about Jeff’s cleanup is that he works to protect and preserve the nomenclature on the shank of the pipes that he works on. I took some photos to show the stamping. In the first photo the arrow on the left is pointed to where Brigham is stamped and the arrow on the right is pointing to the Can. Pat. Number. In the second photo the arrow points at the shape number.  Thanks Jeff for being so careful in the cleanup. Much appreciated.Since this is another pipe Bob’s estate I am sure that some of you have read at least some of the other restoration work that has been done on the previous pipes. You have also read what I have included about Bob Kerr, the pipeman who held these pipes in trust before I came to work on them (see photo to the left). Also, if you have followed the blog for long you will already know that I like to include background information on the pipeman whose pipes I am restoring. For me, when I am working on an estate I really like to have a sense of the person who held the pipes in trust before I worked on them. It gives me another dimension of the restoration work. Bob’s daughter wrote a short tribute to her father. I thank you Brian and tell your wife thank you as well.

I am delighted to pass on these beloved pipes of my father’s. I hope each user gets many hours of contemplative pleasure as he did. I remember the aroma of tobacco in the rec room, as he put up his feet on his lazy boy. He’d be first at the paper then, no one could touch it before him. Maybe there would be a movie on with an actor smoking a pipe. He would have very definite opinions on whether the performer was a ‘real’ smoker or not, a distinction which I could never see but it would be very clear to him. He worked by day as a sales manager of a paper products company, a job he hated. What he longed for was the life of an artist, so on the weekends and sometimes mid-week evenings he would journey to his workshop and come out with wood sculptures, all of which he declared as crap but every one of them treasured by my sister and myself. Enjoy the pipes, and maybe a little of his creative spirit will enter you!

Now with all of the background on the line and the background on Bob Kerr it was time to get on with the restoration of this next mixed grain Brigham Select Lovat or Club as they call the shape. I am really coming to appreciate the hard cleanup work that Jeff did on these pipes. They were a real mess when I sent them to Jeff and I have to tell you it was great that I did not need to clean this pipe. I decided to start the process by dealing with the damage to the rim top and edges of the bowl. I topped it on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I topped it to remove the deep scratch on the surface of the rim at the front. I was able to remove the scratch. What was left behind was a dark mark on the rim top. Once I stained the rim top that should disappear. I worked on the inner edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper and gave it a very slight bevel so that it took care of the damage on the inner edge. The photos show the progress. I stained the rim top and edges with a Walnut Stain pen to blend in the colour with the rest of the bowl. It is a good match and once it is polished it will work well!I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads and I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth.  The grain progressively stood out as I polished the pipe with the pads. I rubbed the bowl and rim down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I really like watching the Balm do its magic and bring the briar alive.  With the bowl done it was time to address the issues with the stem. The deep dents in the top and underside with a bite through in the middle of the underside would make this a stem with multiple issues to deal with. The first photo shows the bite through. I “painted” the surface of the vulcanite to soften the rubber and then used the tip of a needle file to lift the deepest tooth marks and seek to flatten the stem surface (second and third photos). I was able to lift the tooth dents quite a bit on both sides but I would need to build up the stem surface on both sides.To prepare for the repair I wiped down the surface with alcohol on a cotton pad. I folded a pipe cleaner in half and coated it with Vaseline to make sure that the repair would not fill in the airway in the stem. I inserted it in the slot and slid it under the bit through.I mixed batch of charcoal powder and black superglue putty together on a piece of card. I learned from Dal to put a patch of tape on the card first so that the mix would not harden as quickly. It works like a charm by the way. I mixed the powder and black glue together with a dental spatula to get a thick putty/paste. I applied the putty to the top of the stem on both sides and pressed it into the bite through area. I sprayed the repaired areas on both sides of the stem with an accelerator so that the surface of the repair would be hard.  I slid the pipe cleaner out of the airway and set the stem aside to let the glue cure. When the repair had cured I used a needle file to reshape the button and smooth out the repair. More work would need to be done for it to be correct but the bite through was gone!   I sanded the repaired areas smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the rest of the stem surface. As I sanded some small air bubbles appeared in the surface of the repair. I filled them in with clear Krazy Glue and once it had cured sanded the surface again. I started the polishing process with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. It is starting to look pretty good!  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it a coat of a new product I am experimenting with from Briarville Pipe Repair. It is called “No Oxy Oil” and it is made to protect the stem from oxidizing. I set it aside to dry. With the pipe cleaned and ready to polish I put a new Brigham Distillator filter in the stem. The photos show the Distillator out of the tenon and in place in the tenon. It is a Maplewood tube that collects the moisture from the smoke and delivering a dry, cool smoke sans tongue bite. Once again at this point in the restoration process I am excited to be on the homestretch. This is the second Brigham from the four that are in Bob’s estate so I look forward to the final look when it is put back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The grain is quite stunning and really pops with the wax and polish. The repair to the stem surface looked really good and blended into the shiny black vulcanite stem. The black of the vulcanite stem along with the two brass pins is a beautiful contrast to the browns of the bowl and shank. This was another fun pipe to work on thanks to Jeff’s cleanup work. It really is a quite stunning piece of mixed grained briar whose shape follows the flow of the briar. The pipe is comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This beautiful pipe will be going on the rebornpipes store in the near future. I have a lot more of Bob’s estate to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

An Italian Croc Skin Zulu and a Bear of a Meer Lining Repair


Blog by Dal Stanton

This Zulu caught my eye along with a striking, Comoy’s Royal Falcon bent Bulldog on the UK eBay auction block.  I have always been attracted to the canted stummels of both Dublin and Zulu shapes.  They strike me as pipes with a bit of attitude!  The second thing that caught my attention was the exquisite, tight crocodile skin-like texture of the rustification.  When I first took the Zulu out of the ‘Help Me!’ basket, I wasn’t quite sure how to best describe the pattern. Initially, I was thinking maybe, pine cone – mainly because of the tight, uniform design.  I showed it to my wife for her first impressions.  Without hesitation she said that it was iguana or crocodile skin…  I chose the croc description because it seems to go better with the Zulu motif!  Of course, the final selling point was the Meer lining.  That is always cool not only because of the aesthetics but also because of the special attributes of Meerschaum.  The seller provided some helpful information on both pipes.  After sealing the eBay deal in pounds, it did not take long for the Zulu and Bulldog to arrive in my box here in Sofia, Bulgaria.  I restored the Royal Falcon already and if you’re interested, you can take a look at it HERE.  Here are pictures I took on my worktable of the Zulu.  The Zulu is clearly marked on the bottom of the shank, on the left side Ariston [over] Rustic, and to the right, Veritable [over] Ecume, a French reference which means, “Real Foam”, referencing the Meerschaum lining.  “Meerschaum” means, ‘sea foam’ in German.  The other identifying mark is a gold rondel with a tilted ‘R’ ensconced in it. When I went to all my usual places to identify the origins of this Ariston Rustic, what I found was not a lot, and what I did find did not seem to line up.  My first stop was Wilczak & Colwell (3/3/97) ‘Who Made That Pipe?’ listed ‘Ariston L’ as coming from the Lane Tobacco Co. Importer 1942 – ENG/USA.  However, subsequent searches for Lane Tobacco Co., didn’t turn up anything.  The seller on eBay provided information saying that the Zulu was made by “Empire State” and referenced this link to Pipephil.eu (See: LINK).  The gold stem rondel with the tilted ‘R’ was the common connector.  I had wondered before why an ‘R’ on the stem with a name, ‘Ariston’?  But this link pointed to ‘Regis’ bearing the same logo – probably the source of the ‘R’.  ‘Empire State’ below also states an Italian connection.Going to the ‘Regis’ link in Pipephil brings you to the listing below with the connecting stem rondel.  A seller of another Regis on eBay gave more information which is helpful, but I’ve not been able to substantiate it.

Aristons were originally made in Italy under the trade name “Empire State” (go figure) for a niche market in France that catered to dignitaries in the French Government, somewhat like Bertram pipes were for the US Government dignitaries.  Who knows – this pipe might have been smoked by French President Charles DeGaulle !  Well, maybe….As I look at the Italian, perhaps, Regis Ariston Rustic Zulu with a critical eye to the issues it has, the rusticated surface appears to be in good condition.  It needs to be cleaned.  The Meerschaum lining has carbon cake buildup and the rim shows lava flow which has formed a caked layer on the top of the Meer lining and has flowed over the rim briar. I will not know the condition of the Meer until I carefully remove the cake in the chamber.  Meerschaum, a stone, needs no cake to protect it like briar pipes.  When carbon cake forms on a Meerschaum surface, it can crack and damage the Meer as the carbon heats up and expands and contracts.  The stem has little oxidation as I can see.  The larger issue is the bit.  The former steward of this Zulu was a clincher and there are significant bites on the top of the bit and the lower lip of the button is compressed and the bit suffers from a hole. That was probably when the Zulu was retired. The bit needs some TLC.

Beginning the restoration, I will deal with oxidation in the stem.  I decided to use the Before and After Hard Rubber Oxidizer that Steve ran through the paces several months ago to test the product put out at www.iberen.com.  Steve published his findings on Rebornpipes (A Review – Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and Fine and Extra Fine Polishes) which is very helpful.  So, I picked up some of the Before & After product while I was in the US and decided to try it.  As Steve discovered in his review, its important to read the directions 😊!  I did, and Steve’s input was beneficial.  One of the things I learned was that the Deoxidizer isn’t aggressive toward stem stampings and marks – that is a big plus.  The other, which is impacting how I restore pipes, is that the solution is geared to deoxidize several stems in one soaking.  My usual practice is one pipe at a time – I’m not thinking too far ahead what’s next or working on more than one pipe at a time.  So, with that in mind, I decide to move forward with a project restoring several L. J. Peretti pipes I purchased in a Lot from a seller near Boston – this Lot contained several Oom Paul’s which will be sold to benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria, helping women, girls (and their children) who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  So, I fish those pipes out of the ‘Help Me!’ basket and clean the internals of each Oom Paul stem with pipe cleaners and a long bristle brush dipped in Isopropyl alcohol 95% before putting them into the Before & After Deoxidizer. I pour the Before & After Deoxidizer in a plastic container that can be sealed up and airtight.  The liquid reminds me of slime products out there for people’s morbid entertainment!  It has an odor too, that’s not too pleasant.I lay out the full Lot of L. J. Peretti boys that are destined for the worktable eventually!  I’m choosing the 4 Oom Paul’s to serve as both an experiment to test the new deoxidizer product which is more beneficial to soak several stems at once and to give me a jump start for the next restoration projects!  I pull 4 of the Perretti Oom Paul stems and clean the internals. Then I take a picture to show the ‘before’ condition.  Along with the Ariston Zulu’s stem, which has minor oxidation, 2 of the 4 Perretti stems, I would say also have minor oxidation.  The other 2, one stamped with the Peretti “P”, are heavily oxidized. I slip the stems into the slime goo, careful not to mix the order of the stems so they make it back to the correct Oom Pauls! Pictues of the Peretti Lot and the deoxidation in process: The instructions indicate that even for the most oxidized stems, the process takes less time than with my usual OxiClean bath, but I leave them in the solution overnight because its late and I need some sleep! The next morning, I take one stem at a time, hooking it with a tooth pick and allowing the goo to run off the stem as much as possible to save the product.  I finally found Bulgaria’s version of mineral oil to use to clean off the goo – staying away from water.  A pharmacist friend here looked it up and she provided me with a bottle of Paraffin Light Liquid – used in Bulgaria for ingestion for certain lower abdominal blockages 😊.   With a cotton pad I use paraffin oil to remove the deoxidizer.  With each stem I follow the same procedure by scrubbing off the oxidized layer with the cotton pad to then buffing with the cotton pad.  Then with each, I apply Before & After Polish, first Fine and Extra Fine, by putting a dab on my finger and working the polish in, which has a gritty oily feel (Fine) and then smoother (Extra Fine).  With each application I work it in then, with cotton pad, I wipe the polish off but buffing at the same time. I have to say, I’m impressed.  The more oxidized of the Peretti stems came out looking good, apart from one oxidation shadow in the first stem to the left.  But overall, the vulcanite appears darker, blacker, rejuvenated.  I take the ‘after’ pictures and I think this product is working as advertised. Back to the Ariston Rustic Zulu, here are shots of the stem after the Deoxidizer and then after each Before & After polish regimen.  From above’s ‘P’ Peretti marked stem and the ‘R’ gold rondel mark in the Zulu, it also appears that the B&A Deoxidizer is not harmful as reported and acted to polish and bring out the stamps.I put stems aside for the time and turn to the croc skin rustification, rim and the Meerschaum lined chamber and take a closer look.  Two-thirds of the rim is hidden by a thick lava flow, but the forward third, shows the briar rim.  I like the lighter smooth briar that provides the border between the Meer and the external surface.  When cleaned up, that will look good.  Before working on the Meerschaum chamber, I want to clean the rim and get a better look at the condition of the Meerschaum’s topside.  While I’m doing this, I will clean the Zulu’s surface.  First, using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap, I use cotton pads and a bristled tooth brush to do the scrubbing in the nooks and crannies.  I also lightly utilize a brass brush to work on the rim. I then rinse the Murphy’s with cool tap water, careful to keep water out of the internals.  The croc skin stummel’s surface is in good shape dirt-wise.  I see nice attractive, minute reddish flecks on the peaks of the black rustification which brings out some contrast to the croc texture. The cleaning did not make a dent on the hard, caked lava over the rim.  The pictures show the progress. To clean the rim and reestablish crisp lines, I take out the topping board, which for me is a small chopping board with a piece of 240 grade sanding paper on top.  I lightly top the Zulu’s rim first with 240 grade paper then 600 to smooth things up.  It didn’t take much to remove the lava build-up and to reintroduce the crisp lines – the rim will look great contrasted to the black croc rustification. Now to clean the fire chamber.  Working on the Meerschaum requires care and most of all, patience.  I’ll first start on the chamber proper to remove the thickest carbon cake buildup.  I use my Savinelli Fitsall pipe tool to scrape the cake from the Meer gently and slowly! The trick is to know when the Savinelli Fitsall starts meeting the Meer surface.  The sound and feel of the carbon cake a crunchiness.  When the crunch stops, and the feel is more solid on the surface, this lets me know that I’m on the Meerschaum. When I remove what I can with the Savinelli Fitsall, I then wrap a piece of 240 grit paper around a dowel rod and sand the Meer surface – removing more of the carbon from the Meerschaum surface. With the carbon cake removed, I can inspect the Meer surface revealing some minor perforations, but no threatening cracks, that I see!Now, to remove the lava from the beveled top and smooth out some nicks on the Meerschaum lining, I again use a rolled piece 240 grade sanding paper.  I first pinch the paper with my thumb and run it around the circumference of the Meerschaum bevel.  To get more of an edge in contact with the bevel, I then wrap the paper around the dowel rod and work methodically around the rim to remove the cake and scratches.  After the 240 grit paper, I switch to 600 and repeat the movement around the rim.  During this process, the sanding of the Meer bevel causes a slight rounding of the rim’s briar in contact with the Meer.  I take the stummel back to the topping block and lightly top again using 600 grit paper.  This does the trick restoring the crisp lines of the rim which I like. To remove the dust in the chamber, I wet a cotton pad with alcohol and wipe the chamber, using tweezers to grip the pad as I pushed it into the chamber.  That cleaned things up but also revealed a crack in the Meer lining starting at the front of the stummel and going down about halfway into the chamber – where there is some wearing in the Meer surface – a bit craggy.  I take some closeups to get a better look at the culprit and try to assess the seriousness of what I’m seeing. In the second picture below, I lighten the exposure to enable seeing in the darker chamber – the crack starts at the 9PM position in that picture.  Wanting to be sure of my next steps and not wanting to miss something, I decide to send the following pictures to Steve, with his vast RebornPipes restoring experience he is usually able to give some help.  His response came quickly from Vancouver – 10-time zones away!  His assessment agreed with mine, that the Meerschaum was most likely OK, that it seemed solid.  He also agreed that I could utilize Troy’s (of Baccy Pipes) method of using chalk and egg whites to repair Meer surfaces.  Steve had reposted Troy’s blog on the methodology and I had saved it as a keeper in my resource bucket.  Steve’s repost can be found here: Old Time Meer Lining Repair Method On a Kaywoodie Shellcraft #5651 | Baccy Pipes

While I’m mulling over this new challenge to restore this Ariston Rustic Zulu, and how I’m going to find white chalk here in Bulgaria (I asked my wife and neither of us have seen old fashion chalk for sale here), I decide to finish the cleanup of the stummel by taking cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 95% and working on the buildup in the mortise.  I also utilize a shank brush (thanks to Charles Lemon of DadsPipes.com for giving me a name for what I was calling a ‘long bristled brush’ foever!) which does the job.I reread Troy’s blog describing his Meer lining repair and the basic concept is simple – a mixture of ground white chalk and egg whites creates a surface that, when it cures, is very durable and emulates amazingly the composition of Meerschaum.  If you’re new to Meerschaum, here is a quick easy read about how Meerschaum is mined (See: LINK) which I found interesting.  Chalk!  On a recent two-day trip to Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second largest city where we have colleagues working, I put out the appeal for ‘Chalk!’ and Tammy, a Kindergarten teacher by profession, had some in store!  So, unloading the small paper bag of my precious chalk from Tammy onto my work desk, I follow Troy’s direction to pulverize the chalk, getting it as fine as possible.  I use an old fashion mortar and pestle to do the job.  I have absolutely no idea how much powdered chalk is necessary for the applications Troy’s method utilizes.  If too much, then I’ll have some on queue for the next Meerschaum lining repair project! Troy described in his blog how he came upon this strategy as he approached repairing his first Meer lining:

I had read and heard from other pipe restores that an old late 19th-early 20th century druggist recipe for fixing broken meerschaum was egg whites and finely ground chalk, so that was what I was going to try and fix the meer lined rim with. It is said to have about the same porous properties of meerschaum and imparts no taste to the tobacco. 

I follow Troy’s lead in masking the stummel to protect it from the chalk/egg white mixture because it sets up very hard – not something I want on the croc skin rustified surface! My plan is to apply an initial thin coating of the Meer patch mixture to fill in the cracks in the fire chamber and over the cracked area originating from the rim.  I would like to build up the lining toward the rim so that it will cover the crack as well as provide a new platform for an internal bevel or rounding.  For the first application, I mix about 1 tablespoon of white to 1 tablespoon of chalk to create a thinner mixture to get into and fill the cracks for the first two applications. After mixing the chalk and whites well, I used my finger to apply the mixture to the Meer surface.  I’ll let it sit for a few hours then apply another coat.The first thin coat.After a couple of hours, I apply another thin coat which I leave to cure overnight. To be on the safe side, I insert a pipe cleaner into the airway to be sure that it remains open. I made enough of the egg white/chalk mixture to apply the next coats.  I put the Meer patch mixture in the fridge, sealed in a small plastic container for use tomorrow.The next morning, I jiggle the pipe cleaner to make sure its keeping the airway open.  I take the mix out of the fridge, pour some of it into a smaller mixing cup and I add more chalk to thicken it.  Troy described a more methodical ‘parts to parts’ ratio.  I simply added more so that it would provide a somewhat thicker application.  After it looks right, after thoroughly mixing with a pipe nail tool, I apply it to the chamber walls with my finger as Troy describes.  Using the finger enables me to feel the foundation and spread the mixture evenly.  I leave it until I return tonight after my workday!  It should have about 7 to 8 hours to cure before I apply another coat.Seven hours later, I return to the worktable.  I decide the next coat of Troy’s Meer Recipe mixture will be my final and thickest application.  I take the mixture out of the fridge and add a portion to a smaller mixing cup.  I add more chalk until it looks right – thicker than before but not too thick it sets up in the mixing cup!  I take a picture of the finished mixture and the final application.  I’ll set the stummel aside now for 24 hours to assure that the Meerschaum coating has cured thoroughly and ready for sanding.With the Meer Recipe curing, I now turn to the stem work.  The former steward of this Zulu liked his pipe.  Zulus or Yachtsmen, being lighter weight, usually ride very well hands free.  Yet, without a bit protector, over time the teeth work as God created them, furrowing in the vulcanite to achieve a tight, comfortable grip.  Eventually, as this Zulu bears witness, the bite breaks through under the pressures and a hole is the result.  I take pictures to show the forensics of this bit.  There is a long, elongated tooth dent on the top, and some chatter, the breakthrough on the bottom, and the button has a cut of sorts – not sure how that happened.  All are pictured – I insert a pipe cleaner to highlight the hole.  To work on the dents, I first use heat to expand the vulcanite.  With a cheap bic lighter, I paint the top dent first with the flame – moving the flame back and forth without scorching the surface.  This method helps some, but not enough to avoid the next step, mixing up Special T CA glue and activated charcoal to patch the hole and fill the dents.  After forming a point with an index card, covering it with scotch tape to keep the glue from sticking, I insert it into the button to form a backing for the patch material.  I then empty one capsule of activated charcoal with a bit of the glue and mix it with a tooth pick.  When it arrives at a molasses-like consistency, I apply it to both hole and the upper dent, applying more than needed to build a mound to file down to shape a button later.  To quicken the curing process, I use an accelerator. Pictures show the progress.    I also apply a drop of Starbond Black Medium KE-150 glue to the cut on the button and let it sit to cure until tomorrow.  Another day has come and gone in Sofia, Bulgaria.The next day, after a LONG day on the job, I’m thankful to return to the worktable with both stummel, with cured Meerschaum lining repair and stem bit/button reconstruction waiting for my attention.  I decide to work on the stem.  To establish a button baseline, I use a topping board with 240 grit paper to remove the excess patch glue.Next, using a flat needle file, I score a working starting point to establish a new upper, button lip.  The score is intentionally leaving a large ‘button real estate’ to enable a patient, methodically sculpting of the button from large to normal sizing.  After the scoring, I file toward the stem’s vulcanite surface, removing the patch mound.  Of all the mini-projects in restoring pipes, stem work as I’m doing now, is probably the most time consuming. So, I put on my favorite Spotify jazz station, set back, and enjoy the moment.  I take pictures to chronicle the upper bit progress. After the top is roughed in, I turn to the lower bit. The initial shaping with files is completed! It’s normal to uncover small pockets where air was trapped in the glue as I can see.  I’ll fill those in later.Now, continuing the removal of excess patch material and shaping with 240 grit sanding paper, I also remove the marks left over from the filing.  I also work on the tooth chatter left over on the upper side of the bit.  After 240, I  use 320 grit, then 600.  Pictures show the progress. Now to address the air pockets that have emerged in the charcoal/superglue patch.  I clean the area with alcohol and cotton pad, even using a dental probe to make sure the pockets and surface are free of dust and leftover sanded vulcanite.  When it’s clean, I paint the surface of the button with a thin film of regular, clear super glue, filling the pockets.  I use the tip of a toothpick to spread the glue evenly over the surface.  I do both sides and set the stem aside to allow the glue to cure. Finally – in the interest of full blog disclosure – I had several iterations of filling the air pockets with thin glue and sanding.  I think I’m finally satisfied with the button/bit repairs!  Moving on.I turn to the Zulu’s Meer lined stummel.  The egg white/chalk layering has cured thoroughly.  I unmask the stummel to get a closer look at the results.  I am careful to peel away the masking tape at the rim.  I’m not sure how the Meer mixture will respond – will it crumble away?  It doesn’t, and I find that my fingernail is a good tool to remove excess Meer Recipe from the rim surface showing me the general lay of the land. My priority is to clear away the excess Meer Recipe from rim plateau.  I first use a flat needle file reaching across the chamber to remove material.  When near the briar surface, I top the stummel very lightly using 600 grade sanding paper.  As I have my first experience working with Troy’s Meer Recipe, I’m pleased with how durable it is.  It doesn’t feel fragile. After a gentle topping, I am VERY pleased at the appearance and composition of the Meer Recipe and the rim, now with clean briar, looks great. The pictures show the rim’s emergence.  Next, after wrapping a piece of 240 grit paper around a sharpie pen, I carefully start smoothing the chamber walls, removing the rough Meer Recipe and expanding the chamber, marching it back towards the original Meerschaum surface.  The method that emerges is that I rotate the stummel in my hand and allow the natural shape of the cylinder to emerge.  I do this with 240, followed by 320, then finally with 600 grit papers.  I leave enough of a layer of the Meer Recipe to cover the old Meerschaum and do not expose it. Now to cut a gentle bevel to remove the rough Meer Recipe on the rim and to lower the threshold of greater vulnerability of the surface where pipe tools go in and out.  I roll a tight piece of 240 paper to shape the bevel.  I do a combination of sawing it vertically to smooth rougher rises and pinching the paper with my thumb over the top of the rim.  I follow with 600 grit paper doing the same.  Here are pictures showing the progress.I notice that there are a few pockets around the circumference of where the Meer Recipe and briar meet.  I decide to bring out the unused Meer Recipe and apply a thin coating on the surface of the rim to fill these gaps.  I’ll give it a few hours and then clean off the residue.  I think this bit of improvisation works.  It looks good.  The lining will require TLC as any Meerschaum deserves.  Troy’s Meerschaum Recipe looks like Meerschaum and has essentially the same composition characteristics.  I think the Meer Recipe repair is now completed!  Thanks for your pioneering and sharing, Troy!Now to the Zulu’s croc skin surface.  I clean the stummel using mineral water, which in Bulgaria is light paraffin oil.  I remove the dust from all the Meer Recipe sanding and I am again reminded why I was attracted to this sharp looking Zulu – the Croc Skin rustification is striking.  I take a black dye pen and darken many of the valleys of the rustification to freshen the black pop of the croc skin.  Earlier I noticed that the texture of the croc skin rustification was enhanced and given depth by lighter, reddish flecks on the peaks of the rustification.  To further enhance this, I use an 1800 grade micromesh sponge pad and randomly sand on the Croc Skin surface – nipping the ridges to lighten them here and there allowing more briar to peek through.  These are subtle enhancements to the Zulu and I think they look good.Back to the final stages of the stem’s refurbishment. I reunite the Zulu bowl with the stem to give me a bird’s eye view of the progress.  I like what I’m seeing!Now to the final stage of the stem restoration.  I use 0000 grade steel wool and buff the entire stem, including the Regis ‘R’ gold rondel.  The steel wool removes the final scratches and tracks left from sanding and buffs the stem up.  I then do a complete cycle of micromesh pads from 1500 to 12000.  I wet sand using 1500 to 2400, then dry sanding with 3200 to 4000 and then 6000 to 12000.  Between each cycle the stem receives a coating of Obsidian Oil which refreshes the vulcanite.  At the end of the process, the stem is looking great – including the bit and button repairs. Now, looking at the rim, I will buff up the bare briar ring forming the rim.  I use the full 9 entourage of micromesh pads from 1500 to 12000 to shine and deepen the briar ring.  I think this bare briar ring is one of the attractive features of a Meer lined pipe.  The contrasts enhance the overall attractiveness of the pipe.  This Zulu surrounds the rim with the dark, craggy croc skin rustification – the center is the light Meer and the rich, butterscotch bare briar pops in contrast.  I like it. The first picture is before the micromesh sanding – then after.  On the home stretch, I use a Dremel with cotton cloth wheels and I go over the stummel applying Tripoli and Blue Diamond compounds.  These compounds bring out more the bare briar flecks in the rustification.  I also apply the compounds to the rim and lower shank nomenclature area where the briar is smooth.  Then, with another cotton cloth wheel, I apply coats of carnauba wax to the stem and stummel.  I find that by using the high speed and compact Dremel, I’m able to effectively apply wax even to most rustified and blasted finishes without the wax gunking up. I’m pleased with the restoration and recommissioning of this Italian (perhaps) Meerschaum lined Ariston Rustic croc skin rustified Zulu.  The use of Troy’s Meer Lining Recipe worked well and looks good.  I’m also pleased with the stem button/bit hole repair and button rebuild.  The Zulu is 5 ¾” long, 2” in height, bowl depth: 1 ½”, internal chamber diameter: ¾”, and full rim diameter: 1 ¼”.  If you would like to add this Meerschaum lined, croc skin rustified Zulu to your collection, go to The Pipe Steward Store and leave a comment or send me a note at ThePipeSteward@gmail.com.  This Zulu will benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria, our work here in Bulgaria helping women and girls (and their children) who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!