Tag Archives: repairing a broken shank

A Badly Broken Butz-Choquin Pipe makes its way back to me for Repair and Restoration

Blog by Steve Laug

Back in August of 2018 I worked through the pipes in the estate of George Koch and one of them was an interesting Butz-Choquin Simour Pot that had a piece of copper inlaid into the back of the bowl on the left side. The stamping on the left side of the shank read Butz-Choquin and underneath it is a bit more faint but looks to read Simour. On the right side it was stamped St. Claude over France and a shape number 1507 beneath that. I was a great looking pipe when I finished. Here is the link to the blog on the pipe (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/08/16/bringing-a-butz-choquin-simour-1507-back-to-life/). I have included a photo of the pipe when I finished it and when it was sold to a fellow named Randy in North Carolina.Randy loved the pipe and thoroughly enjoyed smoking it. Here is where the story shifts to the journey of the pipe back to Canada.

I received an email from Randy early in December about the pipe he had purchased. It was in need of a repair. I include his email below.

Steve, I bought a pipe from you about a year ago. I think l paid around $60 for it. I dropped it off my deck and broke the shank. Is that something that can normally be fixed and would it be worth it when comparing the original cost vs whatever your repair is. generally speaking? I know you haven’t seen the it, just trying to get a general idea if you think it might be worth the expense.

I had Randy send me some photos of the pipe which due to computer issues on my old computer I know longer have but it was broken at the shank with a nasty break. We talked a bit back and forth by email and after the holidays he put it in the mail to me. I received it on Thursday late in the day and opened the package to see it up close and personal. The pipe was obviously a favourite of Randy’s and had been well smoked. The bowl had a thick cake and I needed to be able to see what was happening where the airway entered the bowl. I reamed it back with a PipNet pipe reamed so I could see it clearly. The shank had a thick build up of tars in the airway that made it hard to know what was happening with the airway from the break to bowl. I cleaned out the airway with a pick, knife and a lot of pipe cleaners and alcohol until was clean.I scrubbed down the externals of the bowl and the cracked shank area with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners to remove the grime so that  I could work on the fit of the shank pieces together. The next photos show the cleaned bowl and shank pieces. It was a large chunk of briar that had broken off. I studied it for a while trying to figure out how I was going to repair it for him. Finally I figured out a plan. I would cut a piece of Delrin tubing and use it on the inside of the shank to provide a base to fuse the two parts together. The next photo shows the piece of Delrin. I needed to shorten the piece but it fit nicely in the shank and the broken piece.I roughed up the surface of the Delrin tube and glued it in the bowl half of the broken shank with black CA glue. I let it cure for a short period until the tube was solidly anchored in the bowl end.Once the tube was solidly in place. I gave the other end of the tube a coat of the black super glue and also coated the ends of the crack with clear super glue. The clear dries faster and that is what I wanted when I pressed the two halves together. I held them together until the glue cured and when it was finished I took the following photos. The depth of the crack for the shank end and the feather like rustications on the shank complicated the work a bit for me. I filled them in with clear CA glue so that the fit of the band would be solid. I filled in the crack with briar dust and clear CA glue until the surface of the crack was even with the surrounding briar on the shank.I sanded the shank repairs smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to prepare it for fitting the nickel band on the shank. My thinking was that the internal Delrin tube would stabilize the shank and the band on the outside would bind it together. Once it was cleaned off I knew I would need to do a bit more filling with briar dust but it was definitely getting there.   I fit the band on the end of the shank. It was snug so I heated the band with a lighter flame and pressed it onto the shank by pushing the shank end down on a piece of padding on my desk top. I pressed into place so that the edge of the band was at the edge of the shank. It was a tight fit and held the pieces of the repair in place from the outside. I sanded the repaired area above the band with a folded piece of sandpaper and then with micromesh sanding pads until it was smooth. I cleaned off the rim top with a pen knife to scrape away the lava build up. I polished it with 1500-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I cleaned up the beveled edge and the top until it was smooth. I restained the rim top and the shank repair with a Cherry and Walnut stain pen to match the rest of the pipe.   I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my finger tips to clean, enrich and enliven the briar. I let it sit on the briar for 15 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth. I used a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to take some of the vulcanite off of the tenon to refit it to the shank of the pipe. Once a shank has been banded it compresses the diameter of the shank enough that the original tenon was too large to fit in the mortise. I slightly reduced it and the fit was perfect. I put it in place in the shank and took photos of the pipe at this point. 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. With the stem done it was time to put the pipe back together. From where it was when it arrived to where it is now is a long hard push and it is definitely a different looking pipe. While it is not flawless it should now give Randy a good smoking pipe that looks very good. The finish and even the band looks really quite good with the rest of the pipe. The finish hides the repair quite a bit and it is solid. I will send it back to Randy later this week. I am looking forward to what he thinks of the restoration. Thanks for walking through this with me.

Emergency Repair for a Friend – Repairing a Broken Shank on a Thompson Dublin

Blog by Steve Laug

Probably some time early in the past year Al purchased this pipe from Jeff and me. It quickly became his favourite pipe and he enjoyed smoking it. He wrote me a quick email a few weeks ago which I include here

Steve, I purchased a Thompson Freehand in red stain some time ago. It has become my most favorite pipe. However, the pipe suffered catastrophic damage as the stem broke cleanly at the base of the bowl, the result of a slip of the grip while at the buffing wheel despite my vise like grip.

I’ve included a photo of my favorite pipe in hopes that you can perform a miracle of craftsmanship.

Help me Steve, you’re my only hope!

Sincerely, Al — newly retired and heartbroken…He had cleaned it and was buffing it and the pipe got away from him (pipe restorer’s and repairman’s nightmare). It hit the floor or wall or something hard anyway and the shank snapped off at the bowl. It was a clean break and looked repairable. It arrived on Tuesday this week. I opened the box and I found the stem and shank carefully wrapped in bubble wrap and tissue and the bowl separately wrapped the same way. Both had been packed in a pipe box and carefully cushioned with paper and bubble wrap in a larger box. I always wonder what the Customs Inspectors must think when they open these carefully wrapped packages and find a broken, used tobacco pipe. They must shake their heads in disbelief that such care would go into packing such “debris”. I took the pipe from the boxes, unwrapped it and took the following photo. The shank was indeed snapped at the bowl and the stem was still in the shank!I took the stem off the shank and checked the fit. It was a pretty clean break – just a few small piece of briar chipped and missing. I went through my collection of tubes and found one that was close to the length I needed and was a perfect fit in the airway in the two sections. I roughed up the tubing with a file to give the glue a good surface to bind with. I coated the end of the tube that fit in the shank portion with a two part epoxy and put it in place in the shank. Once the glue had hardened I could adjust the length of the tube however much I needed on a topping board of with the Dremel and sanding drum.Once the glue cured and I had adjusted the length of the tube I spread the epoxy on the tube and on the surfaces of the snapped briar and pressed them together. I used an epoxy that hardened fairly quickly so I adjusted the fit and pressed the two parts together and held them until the glue had hardened. Once the repair had cured I took pictures of the repaired pipe. You can still see the cracked area on the right and underside of the bowl but the fit is quite tight. I needed to do a bit more work on those areas to get a good blend to the repair. I used my Dremel and a steel burr to replicate the rustication pattern around the bowl. I set the Dremel as the lowest speed and worked the burr to connect both vertical and horizontal patterns. It blended well. The first set of 3 photos shows the cut patterns and the second set of 3 shows the finished carving. I used a Black Sharpie and a Red Sharpie pen to stain the freshly carved rustication. The black went into the carving while the red was applied to the high spots. I covered the whole repaired area with some Mahogany stain to blend the colours into the rest of the finish. I gave the repaired area a coat of Danish Oil and Cherry stain to give it a shine that would match the shine on the rest of the bowl. I set it aside to dry.Once the Danish Oil coat had dried I lightly buffed the pipe with microfibre cloth to polish the repaired area. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I am happy with the repair and the finishing on the shank. The repair blends in very well. It is ready to send it back to Al. I will get it packed up and get it in the mail. I hope that he continues to enjoy this beauty. Thanks for following the blog and reading about the repair. Cheers.

Repairing a Broken Shank on a Sandblast Kriswill Golden Clipper 1803 Apple

Blog by Lee Neville

Over the past few months I have been in correspondence with Lee via email. He picked up a couple of pipes for me at a local antique shop in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and sent them to me. We have fired emails back and forth on restoration questions and issues. He also included Charles Lemon of Dad’s Pipes in the conversations and we had a great time. Earlier this week he sent Charles and me an email about a restoration of a pipe that he did using the internal tube to repair a broken shank. He did a great job on the restoration and the description of the work so I asked him if I could post it on rebornpipes. He was glad to have me do so. Thanks Lee for your work and write up welcome to rebornpipes as a contributor! – Steve

Thought I would share my latest pipe rehabilitation effort of a Kriswill Golden Clipper – Model 1803.  This is the sandblast variant of the 03 shape. It showed up in the Winnipeg EBay lot I purchased and was in two pieces – stem (still attached to its snapped off shank) and the bowl itself.  I tried to remove the stem from the snapped off shank – without luck –  stuck tight. The bowl and shank had broken crookedly transversely across the shank – the break measured between 4mm and 8mm from the bowl body. I’m thinking it occurred when someone tried to pry and twist the stem out of the shank while holding on to the bowl.  The tars holding the stem fast held while the shank and bowl parted ways. In all, a stark example why one cannot use the bowl for leverage when trying to removing a reluctant stem from a shank.  Cue Yosemite Sam screaming “Whoa Mule! Whoooooahhh!!!”.There is also a crusty / gummy residue on the broken bowl and shank surfaces indicating a previous failed glue repair. I’m excited and eager to try my hand at a hidden brass tubing reinforcement glued up inside the shank & bowl as part of this repair.

Bowl Rehab
The bowl was packed full of foul smelling crust. The bowl edge is quite ragged – burned and charred in one area, a bit of a gouge just below the rim in another, damage/wear from dottle banging etc. around the periphery. As I could get to the bottom of the bowl from the exterior of the bowl,  I gently used a dental pick to pry manky tars, oils and burgey from the smoke channel. No doubt this build-up led to the welded-on stem and the situation at hand.

I scraped the carbon out of the bowl with a flexible knife blade, then removed the rest of the crust with some twists with a dowel covered with 220 grit sandpaper to work back to briar. I then used 320 / 400 grits over the dowel to finish the bowl interior to smooth. Luckily, there are no cracks, burnouts in this bowl.

I filled the gouge below rim edge at the 11 o’clock position with CA glue and briar dust to build this rim area up – this minimized the following topping effort. I didn’t want to significantly alter the geometry of the bowl.  Minimal is the key word here. Re-topping was followed by polishing the rim up to 4000 grit with micro mesh pads. I re-stained the rim with a stain marker to bring it back into line with the existing stain value.

I finished up the bowl exterior by scrubbing it gently with cotton pads moistened with water, then repeated with pads wetted with alcohol. Looking good.

Re-attaching the shank to the bowl
I soaked the stuck-together shank and stem in isopropyl alcohol overnight.  They easily pulled apart between the jaws of two pairs of padded pliers. Solvents 1 – Evil 0! The shank remnant stunk with old badness. I hit it with brushes and q-tips and was able to clean it out in 15 minutes of vigorous action.  I’ve cleaned dirty shotguns stem to stern quicker than this 25mm length of broken briar shank!

I used a dental pick to remove most of the remnants of dried glue from the shank and the bowl so they’d fit as closely possible when re-glued.  I then used the CA + spray accelerator product from Inoteca to glue the bowl to the shank. Applying a very thin layer of medium viscosity CA glue to both surfaces, I pressed them together, then hit the assembly with the spray accelerator.  Instant activation and hold. I left this overnight to cure, then the following evening removed the squeeze out from the joint with needle files.  This was followed with filling gaps in the glue line with briar dust and CA glue, needle filing and light sanding.

I applied random dabs of stain marker pen (dark oak and mahogany) to colour match the briar dust/CA fills around the glue line, then I blended these re-stained areas into the stummel with a q-tip moistened with alcohol.

Now for the hidden brass tubing reinforcement.  I bought a length of 5/32″ OD brass tube from a local hobby shop as its ID would be close to the stock diameter of the draught hole post repair. I measured approximately 14mm of briar body between the opening of the draught hole in the bowl bottom to the edge of the broken shank still attached to the bowl.  This meant I could use 20mm of tubing to span the break between the bowl body through the shank to the bottom of the stem mortise. The tube reinforcement will span the break area 10mm each way.

I cut a 20mm length of tubing and roughed up its external surface with needle files to provide additional physical bonding for the epoxy.  Inserting the bowl into my small Dremel bench vise with shank pointing to the sky, I drilled out the shank using a 11/64” bit to the desired depth. This 11/64” hole will allow room for the epoxy to fix the reinforcing length of tubing to the shank wall.

I gently flared one end of the brass tubing using a center punch. This flared end will drop and seat against the stem end of the 11/64” hole drilled in the shank.  I then mixed up a bit of JBWeld, generously smeared the exterior of the tubing with it, then threaded a vaselined pipe cleaner through the tube/glue mess.  The pipe cleaner functions as a guide for the tube to slide into the shank and will prevent epoxy from sealing the draught hole at the end of the tubing through to its opening at the bottom of the bowl.

I pressed everything home with a length of Q-tip stick and was gratified to feel the tubing seat its flared end at the top of the 11/64” hole drilled through the shank mortise.  I pulled the pipe cleaner through the tubing from the bowl end – ensuring any epoxy squeeze-out was cleared from the bottom of the bowl. I used Q-tips to remove any epoxy squeeze-out in the stem tenon area of the shank and left the epoxy to set overnight.

The picture below shows the flared end of the hidden tubing snugly glued below the bottom of the shank mortise in the stummel.Cleaning up the stem
The stem was horribly packed full – poking and prodding with brushes, pipe cleaners and picks, I worked both ends of the stem until it was clear. Then it went into an oxyclean bath to lift the oxidation.  Luckily, the Kriswill stamp was in good shape.  The next day, I removed the lifted oxidation with soft toothbrushes, 400 grit wet n’ dry and then moved quickly through the micro mesh pads through to 12000 grit, it came up bright and shiny.

Finishing the pipe
I slathered on a thick coating of Howards Feed and Wax (beeswax, carnauba and citrus oils) and rubbed it into the stummel to feed the thirsty briar. Gently buffed with a microfibre cloth.  I also treated the bowl to a coating of maple syrup + activated charcoal. I dabbed a bit of Testors white enamel into the stamping on the stem, then wiped the excess away – the Kriswill stamp is now very noticeable.

The stem married up to the stummel with little fuss – It looks good.  It’s a lovely pipe – a small rusticated apple with a delicate shank and stem. It’s a feather-light lovely example of Danish pipe making from the late 1960’s – early 1970s. I’m really looking forward to sparking it up.Again, thank you both (Charles Lemon of Dad’s Pipes Blog and Steve Laug of rebornpipes blog) for your exhaustive documentation around this procedure – I would have been in quite the pickle without your guidance. (I wish you both the very best in your adventures.)

Photos of the finished restoration are shown below. I am happy with the finished pipe and enjoying the fruit of my work.

The pipe dimensions are as follows:
Kriswill Golden Clipper – Model 1803
Bowl Height: 40mm
Bowl opening: 22mm
Max depth of bowl: 35mm
Max Bowl diameter: 38mm
Length of stummel: 65.28 mm
Diameter of shank: 11mm
Length of stem: 89 mm
Over all length of pipe: 155mm

Top View – showing the topping and stain blend.  I did radius the inside of bowl ever so slightly to bring it back into round.Right side of bowl – Detail. Bottom of bowl – showing rustication.Pipe in profile (the near side or right side) – love the proportions of this pipe – gee whiz they made them graceful back in the day!Pipe in profile (the far side or left side).

Putting Humpty Dumpty Back Together Again

Blog by Steve Laug

I was contacted by Mike, reader of rebornpipes about fixing two of his pipes. It was probably over a month ago when he emailed me. The first one was a gift from a friend and when he tried to take of the stem the shank broke away from the bowl. This sounds awful but it is not as bad as it sounds. He sent me photos of the pipe so I could have a look at it. It is made out of pear wood I believe and is a Chinese made pipe (at least it appears to be). He packed it up with another pipe, an old Custombilt that needed a new stem and mailed them to me. When it came the pipe was in a bag – it looked much liked the first series of photos below. It looked like Mike had been loading a bowl for a smoke when it broke. The shank and bowl were held together by an inner tube that appears to be plastic but even that is not overly clear at this point. Whatever it was it was brittle and broke neatly apart. The brass washer that was used for decoration was loose, having been held in place by the joint. The pipe was very dirty on the outside and the inside and needed some work. I would soon find out why it was not cleaned.The stem was tight in the shank and was hard to remove. Mike had said that the pipe was a filter pipe but I am not certain of that. Certainly the tube looked like it could hold a paper filter but the inside of the tube had been stepped down several times. There was a thick cake in the bowl and an overflow of lava on the rim top and some darkening around the edges and top.I took a photo of the end of the shank to give a bit of an idea of what that portion looked like. It was a tube within a tube with something stuffed in between the two tubes.I scraped out the load of tobacco in the bowl to begin my cleaning process. I reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and took the cake back to bare wood. I wanted to be able to see what was going on under the cake. Everything looked good once I had removed the cake.I cleaned out the internals of the pipe and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. Cleaning out the airway into the bowl proved to be a difficult proposition. It was hard to work a pipe cleaner through and blowing air through it seemed really constricted. I worked on it quite a while and was able to work the pipe cleaner through. It seemed like there was some kind of fitting in the bottom where the airway entered the bowl that dissipated the smoke. It felt like some kind of nipple with multiple air holes. Cleaning the shank was simpler but even there I ran into several step downs along the inside of the shank piece.I took a photo looking down into the airway and you can see the broken tube that held the shank to the bowl just inside the shank walls. Deeper down the shank is another tube that appears to be aluminum. Inside that tube at the bottom is a centered hole that descends into the bowl and to the nipple with multiple air holes at the bottom where it enters the bowl bottom.I cleaned the end of the short shank entering the bowl and flattened the broken tube that held the shank and bowl together on both. It was ragged and crooked. I cleaned up the brass washer that acted as an ornamental space with 1500-2400 micromesh sanding pads. I used all-purpose glue and reset the washer in place on the bowl end of things.I had a piece of steel tubing that was the right size to insert in both the shank and the bowl end of the broken tube. I roughed it up with a file to give the glue something to anchor too on the smooth steel. I mixed a batch of JB Weld to bind the metal tube in the shank first. I packed the mixture in around the broken tube and the outside of the wooden shank with a dental spatula and set it aside to dry.  I joined the family for dinner and afterwards the glue was cured enough to connect the bowl end. I applied another coat of the JB Weld mixture to the tube and to the edge of the two sides that would be pressed together. I aligned the two parts and held it tightly until the glue had set enough for it to be stable when I laid it down. I set it aside to let the glue harden. After a short time I took photos of the newly joined bowl and shank. I set the bowl aside for the evening to let the glue cure overnight and turned to work on the stem. I cleaned the inside with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. Once more I was in for a surprise. There was a brass grate inside the airway at the place the saddle portion is on the outside of the stem. It was very dirty but the cotton swabs and alcohol cleaned the grate. I was able to work the pipe cleaner through each section of the grate until the grate and stem was very clean. The tenon was wide open like it was made for a paper filter. A 9mm filter would work well in this tenon. My only issue is that with all of the brass pieces in the airway in the bowl, shank and stem the filter would further constrict the flow of the smoke through the airway into the mouth of the smoker. I don’t think it is worth smoking with a filter.I sanded out the tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside of the stem next to the button to remove the damage in those areas. I used 220 grit sandpaper and was able to smooth out all of the damage. The stem is not vulcanite but seems to be a soft plastic that is similar to the tube that runs through the entire shank and that broke at the joint of the bowl and shank. I polished it with 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper to polish out the scratches in the soft plastic. I continued to polish the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped down the stem after each pad with Obsidian Oil. After the final 12000 grit pad I gave it a final wipe with Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. The oil is not absorbed like it is with the vulcanite but it did clean up the remaining dust and grime from the polishing. I set the stem aside and wiped the bowl down with alcohol. I cleaned up the excess glue that has squeezed out at the bowl shank joint. I removed all of the oils, grime and dirt that were ground into the pear wood. I worked on the rim top with alcohol and micromesh sanding pads until the wood was clean. With the wood clean I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth between each pad. When I finished with the 12000 grit pad I wiped it down a final time and hand buffed it with a soft cloth. I waxed the bowl and shank with multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax. I buffed the stem with carnauba wax. I buffed bowl and stem with a clean buffing wheel to raise a shine in the pear wood. The photos below show the finished pipe. It is actually quite unique in terms of shape and design the multiple brass grates in the bowl, shank and stem constrict the air flow but the draw is ok. It definitely should be smoked without a filter. Once I finish the second of Mike’s pipes they will wing their way back to New York where I am sure he is waiting to fire them up and enjoy them once again. Thanks for looking.

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS – Is this pipe repairable?

Blog by Steve Laug

In this next installment of the Answers to Questions blogs, I want to address a question that comes to me via email, the contact button on the blog or through Facebook. I receive photos and descriptions of pipes in a variety of conditions asking if I think the pipe is repairable. I have learned over time that the question has a variety of possible answers. I think that questioner thinks it will be a yes or no question. Really, I suppose that is what they want to hear. Yes I think it can be repaired or No, it cannot be repaired. Often when I answer yes, they want me to do the work, and sometimes when I answer, no they want to send it me to “dispose” of properly. But really the question is not a yes or no question. Every pipe gives multiple options for how to proceed.

I think the right question to ask is, “How badly do you want to keep this pipe?” or “How much work are you willing to put into this pipe?” These questions determine what a person will do and what lengths they will go to in order to keep or return the pipe to smokable condition. If the question is merely a simple yes or no then many pipes will end up in the tinderbox destined for the fire. However, if the question is as I have spelled it out above then the answer will lead to the next steps of restoration. Let’s talk about some of the pipes that have come across my desk or my email address that can illustrate this variation on the question.

A Beautiful older Peterson 999 with a huge burned out hole in the lower left side of the bowl. Many would have simply said good-bye to this old friend because you could put your index finger through the side of the bowl. It appeared to be a goner. When I looked at it I remembered an old Blatter and Blatter pipe that I had picked up on eBay that had a burn out on the back side of the bowl. I had talked to the shop in Montreal and they had me send it back to them. They drilled out the burned out area until they had solid briar. Then they cut a chunk of new briar and fit it into the drilled out hole. They glued it in place and once it had set, they rusticated the patch to match the rest of the bowl. They gave the inside of the bowl a bowl coating to protect it until a cake had formed and sent it back to me. I have had that pipe for over 20 years now and it is still going strong. You would be hard pressed to find the repaired area.

With that living memory I said yes to the burned out Peterson. In days past, I would have walked away and left it for firewood but I had learned. I drilled out the burned out area with a drill bit until the surrounding briar was solid. I cut a plug from a piece of briar and adjusted it to fit into the hole. I glued it in place and rusticated the area around the plug and lower part of the bowl until it blended in well. I stained the lower half of the bowl with a dark brown stain and the upper half with a medium brown stain. The finished exterior looked very good. I coated the inside of the bowl with bowl coating to protect it. The fellow still smokes the pipe I believe and the repair has held up well. Here is the link to the blog: https://rebornpipes.com/2014/02/06/plugging-a-burnout-on-a-petersons-irish-whiskey-999/

You can see from that example that a simple yes or no question would have probably sacrificed what turned out to be a repairable bowl. The question was whether I wanted to take the time and invest the work to make it smokable again. In this case the invested work was worth the results in my opinion.

An Ardor Urano Fancy with a ½ inch deep chunk broken out of the right side edge of the rim. This is one that caught my eye on Ebay. Many would have simply passed it up and said it was not worth repairing. The large broken out chunk of briar from the back right side of the bowl near the top and the general wear and tear on the bowl would have easily made it a pass. But to me something about the rugged rustication and the blue of the shank end and stem just caught my eye and made me want to give it a try. So I put in the only bid on the pipe – no surprise there and picked it up for a decent price. This was a pipe that would go in my collection and not be sold and it was a pipe that would provide more schooling for me in the art of pipe repair.

I had it shipped to Idaho and my brother cleaned it up for me. When it finally came to Canada I was excited to see what could be done with it. I cleaned out the damaged area with alcohol and cotton swabs until the surface was clear. I smoothed out the edges of the break to make fitting a new piece of briar a little easier. I cut a piece of briar from the side of one of my sacrificial briar bowls that I keep just for this purpose. I shaped the piece of briar with my Dremel and a sanding drum until I had it close to fitting. I used the Dremel to give the inner edge a bit of a curve that would match the wall of the pipe around it. Once I was close I used a file and 80 grit sandpaper to bring to the size that I could press it into the damaged area. I coated the edges with epoxy and pressed the chunk in place. I filled in around the patch with clear super glue to ensure that the seal was tight. I set it aside to cure.

The next day I used the Dremel with various burrs to rusticate the repaired area to match the surround bowl sides. There was an uneven smooth area around the rim top so I left that smooth on the repair as well. Once the rustication was complete and I was satisfied with the match I washed the area down with a cotton pad and alcohol. I mixed a batch of JB Weld and coated the wall of the repaired area. Once it dried I used the Dremel and sanding drum to carefully smooth out the inside of the bowl. I gave it a thick coat of pipe mud and let it dry. I stained it with a dark brown aniline stain and washed it lightly with alcohol to blend it in. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I have had the pipe now for almost a year and it smokes really well and looks pretty good for a repair. Here is a link to the full blog: (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/02/26/with-just-a-little-work-i-now-have-a-dr-ardor-urano-fantasy-apple/) The next three examples show very different repairs and issues with old pipes that I have dealt with. I decided to use two of them as examples in this blog. https://rebornpipes.com/2016/09/03/what-to-do-with-a-cracked-bowl-options-for-their-repair/. The first was cut off and the job was done very poorly. It had originally been a GBD 9438 in a previous life and someone had cut off the entire top half of the bowl. They had restained the bowl but had not sanded it so there were saw marks and file marks and a very rough look to the pipe. This is another pipe that could easily have been relegated to the dust bin. My brother Jeff picked it up in a bunch of pipe from a fellow on Ebay who called himself a refurbisher. This pipe came as one that had been restored. It had a lot of problems. Not only had he cut the bowl off he had also used a Dremel and took it straight down the bowl leaving a mess in the bottom of the bowl. I figured that maybe there was something redeemable in the pipe. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to reshape the top and round it over giving some form to the damaged bowl. I decided to round it over leaving a rounded top edge to the rim. It took a lot of sanding and shaping but I think in the end I had a smokable pipe with a bit of charm that previously had been severely lacking. You be the judge. Was it worth the effort to do the work on the bowl?

The second pipe in the lot was an Alpha freehand rusticated shape that someone had done the same hack job to the bowl was very short and held a mere thimble full of tobacco. It had thick walls on the portion of the bowl that was left so I decided to experiment. If the experiment did not work there would be no loss. I had a bowl with the shank missing and damage to the bottom side that could easily be salvaged and the two parts connected to make a new pipe. I cut off the damaged (cracked) bottom of the sacrificial bowl in preparation for the new union. I drill small holes in the top of the bowl and the base that matched each other and cut some stainless pins that would join the two parts. I glued the pins in the base and coated the surface of each part with epoxy and pressed them together until the surfaces joined. I filled in the gaps and crevices joining the two bowls with briar dust and super glue. Once everything had set I reshaped the bowl so that the joint was less visible and then rusticated the new top half to match the base. I coated the inside of the bowl sealing the area where they joined with JB Weld and when dry sanded it out with my Dremel leaving the JB Weld only in the joint. I coated the bowl with a bowl coating of sour cream and charcoal powder. I restained the bowl with a dark brown stain. Once the pipe was finished I had an interesting chimney pipe that would give many more years of service. Was this worth it? To me it was worth the education for me. GBD Made Square Shank Poor Richards Pipe Shop with a lot of cracks around the bowl. This one was a challenge that Charles Lemon of Dad’s Pipes Blog and I took on together. We were experimenting with the question, “When was a pipe no longer redeemable.” https://rebornpipes.com/2016/03/06/a-humpty-dumpty-cross-canada-project-could-this-poor-richards-select-square-shank-billiard-9489-ever-be-whole-again/. The pipe was one my brother had picked up that was stemless. The bowl was a mess with cracks on all sides of the bowl. Charles and I had been chatting on Skype about repairing pipes and I told him about it and we decided to make it a joint effort. Charles was experimenting with using rods to stitch a cracked bowl back together again and this was just the one to do that on. He drilled angled holes on each side of the crack and pushed a rod through. The angles of each set of holes was drilled in opposition to the previous one so that it acted to pull the crack together. The next series of photos show the process of stitching the bowl together, filling in the holes and refinishing the bowl. Putting the shank back on a broken LHS Park Lane DeLuxe — Lovat 12. The next one was a fun pipe to work on. It was one that I would have thrown in the bin for parts in the past. The shank was completely broken off leaving a short section on the bowl. I liked the look of the Cumberland stem and the Lovat is one of my favourite shapes so I figured it was worth a try. You can read the details on the blog here: https://rebornpipes.com/2015/09/29/repairing-a-broken-shank-on-an-lhs-park-lane-de-luxe-lovat-12/ I cleaned up the broken ends of the shank and bowl and used a brass tube to insert, glue and bind the two parts together. I filled in the gaps in the crack with clear super glue and briar dust to make things smooth. The crack virtually disappeared into the grain once I stained the pipe with a dark brown stain. The finished pipe is shown in the last two photos. The repair has held up for several years now without any sign of the joint failing. Crafting a Frankenpipe from a cut off Brebbia Lido Bowl and a piece of bamboo. The next example is a Brebbia Lido that my brother picked up on one of his trips. Someone had glued a stem in the shank and the shank itself had been cut off crooked so the entire pipe curved toward the right. The short shank also did not work well with the stem that had been put on the bowl. We removed the stem during the cleanup process and cleaned off the glue and crud in the shank. It looked like another broken pipe but I thought that the shank had enough length that a piece of shank could be added. I checked out the look with a piece of briar, acrylic and bamboo. The bamboo worked for me the best. I used a topping board to square up the shank end on the Lido and both ends of the piece of bamboo. When I put the two together the junction was smooth and tight. I joined the bamboo to the shank of the pipe using a piece of Delrin tenon that I glued into the shank first and then into the bamboo. I filled in the small gaps around the joint with super glue to seal it tight. Once it had cured, I glued a drilled out acrylic button on the end of the bamboo to keep it from fraying or splitting when the stem was in put in and taken out repeatedly. The longer stem worked well with the rustication and the bamboo the contrast of finishes and colours made the pipe a beautiful addition to my rack. What had been a throwaway was rescued and given a new look. It is now a pipe that I enjoy smoking. If you wish to read more about the process, I have included the link to the blog on the restoration of the pipe. https://rebornpipes.com/2017/10/09/another-frankenpipe-salvaging-a-lido-root-briar-dublin-bowl/

Crafting another Frankenpipe from a broken shanked apple, a piece of briar and a metal tube. The final example is another broken shanked apple. It was a no name pipe with a nice shape on the bowl and a jagged broken shank. I decided to take a totally different tack on this one. I had an old metal flashlight tube that had a cross hatch pattern on the metal. It was an open tube. I had a sacrificial pipe that had a long shank that I cut off and used to make this more of a Lovat style apple. I wanted a pretty indestructible pipe to use while I was working in the yard or the garden. I cut off the broken shank on the apple and topped it to square it up. I turned the other shank that I was using so that it would fit into the metal tube and allow me to use the mortise for a new shorter stem. I joined the bowl and the shank with a piece of stainless tubing. I scored the tubing and epoxied it in the bowl end first then added the shank end to it. Once it cured I used a file to step down the end of the shank on the bowl end so that the tube would fit closer to the bowl staggering the new joint and giving it more stability. I pressed the metal tube on the shank piece until the end was flush with the briar of the bowl. I filled in the gaps with clear super glue to make the transition seamless. I wanted the transition between the metal and the stem to be seamless so I stepped down the end of the stem just past the tenon to sit inside the metal tube. I restained the bowl and polished the vulcanite and the pipe was ready to smoke and it was pretty indestructible. This is yet another example of the lengths that I will go to salvage a pipe that I like or that I see promise in. Here is the link to the blog if you would like to read about the process in detail. https://rebornpipes.com/2015/02/07/pipe-resurrection-from-a-broken-shank-to-another-frankenpipe/

Looking at the various examples above of pipes that have crossed my worktable you can see how I chose to answer the question, “How badly do you want to keep this pipe?” or “How much work are you willing to put into this pipe?” In each case, my decision was that the pipe was worth saving and investing time in whether it was for the sake of repairing a beautiful old pipe or for learning new skills that I could use on other pipes that came to my desk. The decision was not quick or foolish it was made with full awareness of the extent to which I would have to go to bring the pipe back to useable condition. With that I bring this Answers to Questions blog to a close. I hope that this installment has been helpful to you. Have fun crafting what you can out of the broken pieces of the pipes that come your way. Think hard before you throw the pipe in the fire and look beyond the pieces and see if you can imagine a way to make it work. Thanks for reading.

Repairing a Broken Shank on an LHS Park Lane DeLuxe — Lovat 12

Blog by Steve Laug

I came home from a two-week work trip to Berlin and Budapest to find a package from Troy Wilburn waiting for me. It contained a beautiful little LHS Park Lane De Luxe Lovat shape 12 that we had been speaking about before the trip. I am a sucker for LHS pipes and really like the Park Lane series as they have a quiet elegance about them. The shank on this one had broken near the bowl. Fortunately it was a clean break and not splintered or chipped. The repair on these has become pretty straight forward for me. I have learned a few tricks in joining the parts of a broken shank together from the Frankenpipes that I have crafted. That was their purpose and their schooling has paid off on quite a few of these shank repairs for me. The Park Lane had a Bakelite stem (at least I think it is Bakelite as it feels and acts different from Cumberland). The next two photos show the snapped shank.LHS1

LHS2 Just as I suspected I had a piece of brass tubing that was the perfect size and fit for the repair. I used a file to cut grooves into the tube and to roughen the surface for the glue to have something to hold onto when I glued it in the shank.LHS3

LHS4 I cleaned out the airway on both sides of the broken shank to remove debris and to give a good clean surface for the glue to bond with. To check the size and the fit of the tube in the two parts of the shank I inserted it in the bowl end of the break and then twisted the shank end onto it. The fit was perfect and once glued the repair should be solid.LHS5 I mixed some epoxy and applied it to the metal tube being careful to not get any inside of the airway. I inserted it into the bowl side of the break. I left slightly over half of the tube extending so that when I put the shank piece in place there would be enough of the metal tube to strengthen the repair on that end.LHS6

LHS7 When the epoxy set and the tube was solidly in place I painted some more of the epoxy on the opposite end of the tube and a little on the briar surface of each side of the break. I have learned not to overdo the glue on the briar as it is a pain to remove from the wood when it dries. I twisted the shank piece in place, lined it up and pressed it in place against the bowl side. I held it firmly until the quick set epoxy set and that portion of the repair was finished.LHS8



LHS11 I pushed some fine briar dust into the small space that remained around the surface of the crack and then filled it with clear super glue. I applied it with the point of a dental pick so as not to get too much glue on the briar.LHS12



LHS15 I sanded the repaired area carefully with a folded piece of worn 220 grit sandpaper to remove the excess glue and briar dust from the patch. Then I sanded with a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches. I used a medium brown coloured stain pen to touch up the sanded area around the patch. I cleaned out the shank with a pipe cleaner to make sure that there was no glue in the tube.LHS16



LHS19 The stem was slightly under clocked. I heated the stinger with a lighter until the glue in the stem softened and then carefully screwed it into the shank while holding the shank. I was able to align it perfectly with the shank.LHS20 With that completed, the repairs to the pipe were finished. The stem was in the right position. The cracked shank repaired and strengthened with an inner tube. All that remained was to clean up the surface of the pipe and give it a coat of stain to blend in the sanded areas around the repairs. I also needed to do some work on the stem with micromesh to raise the shine and polish the Bakelite. (I rarely use the buffer on these older LHS stems as I do not want to risk it. I would rather polish them by hand than damage them.)LHS21

LHS22 I wiped the bowl and shank down with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the grit and grime on the surface of the bowl and to remove the remaining finish.LHS23

LHS24 I cleaned off the tars on the stinger with 0000 steel wool. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and then rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I continued to dry sand the stem with 3200-4000 grit pads and then gave it another coat of oil. I finished with the final three grits of micromesh – 6000-12000 – and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. Once the oil dried I gave the stem some coats of Paragon Wax and hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth.LHS25


LHS27 I gave the bowl a rubdown with some olive oil and then buffed it out. I touched up the light areas of the stain on the repaired shank with a dark stain pen and then rubbed a little more oil onto the shank. I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond and then gave it several coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean flannel buff and then hand buffed it with the microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown below. I am hoping to put it in the mail later today or tomorrow to get it back to Troy.LHS28

LHS29 There was some light damage to the rim surface. I decided to leave it alone as it was not enough to top the bowl. It gives character to this old pipe.



Doing an interior shank repair and restemming a KBB Yello Bole Lovat

Blog by Troy Wilburn

I got this pipe from a member of Dr. Grabows Collector Forum, John McP. He hails from across the pond in Scotland. He had contacted me about a old KBB Yello Bole pipe that he had picked up that did not have a stem and wanted to know a little about it and what kind of stem it originally had. He also informed me it had an old repair of a cracked shank.

It is stamped 2079 and had the “Honey Cured Briar” under the KBB Yello Bole, which made it a pre 1936 model. I then checked my Kaywoodie charts. It’s a large bowl, long shank Lovat saddle bit. Even though the KW shape charts call it a Canadian I don’t think so because of its round shank. I’ll never consider a round shank as a Canadian.K1 I informed him that it was a nice pipe and should be a good smoker once cleaned up and a replacement stem found. Unfortunately for John the old repair was not a good one and it had made the shank weak. When John tried to fit some stems to it, a piece broke out of the shank. He asked me if I wanted it free of charge as he did not want to tackle repairing the pipe.

The pipe as John showed me before he sent it.K2 I agreed that I would see what I could do with it. Well after over a month in the mail it finally arrived and I got a good look at it and found a donor saddle bit from another Yello Bole.K3

K4 The bowl had some black scorch marks from smoking hot.K5 I was going to get this pipe blasted after repairs to help hide them and cover some dark burn marks on the bowl. After much thought I decided to restore it close as factory as I could. The possible history of this pipe was just too good to alter it. In the short time of my possession of this pipe it had already been half way around the globe. That’s just a fraction of the long life that this pipe has had over it’s at least 80-year-old life. Maybe it was taken over by an allied soldier and left behind as a gift of friendship? Maybe it was carried by an OSS agent behind German lines during the war? Maybe not but its fun to think of the possibilities.

So all the sand pits and small fills were left as is and not covered or filled. After all it’s a Yello Bole if it did not have these imperfections it would have been a Kaywoodie. The old war horse has some scars from repairs and wear. The stamping’s are quite worn but it’s a pipe someone had thought enough of to repair it once before. Hopefully it has many more years left in it.

I decided to do an inner band like Steve did on a YB I sent him for repair. I found an old metal tenon from a Grabow filter stem I had.K6 I filed out the inner shank and broken shank piece to clean up and to give the glue something to grab too.K7 After grinding the metal tenon to fit inside the shank. I cleaned up the shank and broken piece with some 91% alcohol and marked the best way it fit with a black sharpie so I know where to place it when glued.K8 I mixed up some two part epoxy and then set the inner band in the shank.K9 After it set up I got ready for the broken piece and cleaned off the Sharpie from the metal band to ensure a good bond. I put two part epoxy on the metal band then super glue on the briar edges and set the broken piece. Then I applied briar dust before the glue set. I had to work fast so no pics during this process, only before and after.K10


K12 I then sanded the repairs; the old repair had a bad high spot and took some filing.K13 I had to build up the bottom from making the old repair flush again. It was a bit lower than the stem.K14 I then filed the stem to match the shank.K15 After cleaning out the shank and bowl I noticed that all the old YB coating was gone from wear or scraped out over time. I decided to remove all the cake and address this later.K16 I then stripped off the old finish with warm water and Oxy Clean bath. I did some light scrubbing with a toothbrush and a Scotch Brite pad used on the stubborn spots. I then wet sanded repairs and bowl with various grits of wet dry paper from 600 – 2500.K17 After this I wiped the pipe several times with household bleach to lighten the dark spots and repairs so it would be harder to spot with the dye.K18 After bleach bath the pipe is ready for dye.K19 I then mixed up some dye close to original stain but slightly darker to help cover the repairs and black marks. I applied three coats.K20 Pipe dry and ready for some base wax.K21 After applying three coats of wax to lock in the dye I mixed up some homemade Yello Bole bowl coating.K22 I applied the bowl coating and found a Yello Bole paper cover from a NOS pipe I have. The cover is from an Imperial but I thought it would look nice for the pictures.K23

K24 After several more coats of wax the pipe is done. First off the repairs are not perfect and I wish I could have gotten a tighter fit with the stem. This was my first inner banding so I didn’t get the band quite as square as I should have making the stem fitting a bit difficult .The more I tried to get a tight fit the more gap I would get on one side, so I settled for a uniform gap. I’ll know better next time and should get a better fit. Here are some pics of the finished repairs.

As Steve pointed out to me on the Dr. Grabow Collectors Forum, if you flare the tube it will make it fit more squarely. I think showing your mistakes is as important as showing your successes for the next person trying to do a similar repair. So if you are doing an inner band repair soon I suggest you flare the end before you set it with epoxy.K25



K28 I did manage to save what little of the stamping’s were left.K29

K30 Pictures of whole completed pipe K31










K41 Even though this was a tough and time consuming refurbish it was quite fun and wish to thank John for sending me this old soldier to be used and enjoyed again.

Repairing a Broken Shank Acorn Shaped Pipe and giving it a New Look

Blog by Steve Laug

I have had this broken Acorn shaped bowl in my box of parts for a long time now. I remember breaking it. There were several fills around the shank at that point. The stem was absolutely stuck in the shank and no matter what I did I could not get it out. Heat, cold, alcohol bath or any other means would not work. Finally after I had dunked it in boiling water hoping to loosen things I twisted on the stem and the shank snapped. Then I could see the problem. The stem had an aluminum tenon that had basically begun to disintegrated and had bonded to the shank. It had a long aluminum stinger that extended virtually to the air hole. It was a mess. I clean up the shank and the bowl to remove all of the corroded aluminum and scraped it clean. I was undecided whether to fix it or just part it out so I put it in the box and left it there.

Yesterday I decided to take it out and have a look at it. I put the two parts back together and saw that the fit was actually quite clean. There were just two small places where the briar actually had chipped. I had a polished aluminum tenon that I had extracted from a broken stem and saved for just such a repair. I sanded it and used a file to score the surface of the metal tube so that the glue would have something to grab hold on in the shank. I mixed a batch of two part epoxy and a painted it on the tube with the mixing stick. I liberally coated the tube with epoxy and let it sit until it got a little tacky and then inserted it in the shank end of the break. I inserted the stem in the mortise end so that I did not set the tube too deeply in the shank. Once I had it positioned I let it cure for 30 minutes until the epoxy set and the tube was solidly in place in the shank.Broke1 I put epoxy on both sides of the exposed briar and then on the other end of the extended tube. I carefully pressed the two parts together and worked to make sure that I had them aligned correctly. The excess epoxy squeezed out and bulged around the enter repair. I used a dental pick and scraped away the excess leaving a smooth top coat of epoxy in the cracked area.Broke2


Broke4 The top surface of the rim was quite damaged and the bowl was out of round. I topped the bowl on a topping board to remove the damage and burn marks that were present on the surface. I sanded it with a sanding block to remove the scratches and smooth out the finish.Broke5

Broke6 I sanded the epoxy on the shank back until it was smooth with 220 grit sandpaper. In the photo below you can still see the slight bulge of epoxy that needed to be removed but since I was planning on rusticating the bowl and shank I did not spend a lot of time sanding that out.Broke7


Broke9 I sanded it a little bit smoother and then used the rustication tool that Chris Chopin made for me to do a deep rustication on the bowl and shank. As I rusticated it I then used the brass bristle wire brush to knock off the loose briar chips. (I collected the briar chips as I plan on using them as Joe suggested in fill repairs to see if I can get them to stay light). I left the rim smooth and would later top it lightly to smooth it out.Broke10






Broke16 When I finished the bowl I wrapped a piece of cello-tape around the end of the shank to make a smooth area that I would later install a band on. The shank end was not straight so I would need to clean it up a bit and then band it to get a clean fit of the stem in the shank.Broke17




Broke21 Once I finished rusticating the shank I removed the tape to show the smooth shank end.Broke22



Broke25 I slid the band on the shank slightly and then heated it with a lighter until the metal expanded enough to press the band into place. I left about 1/8 of an inch extended to allow for the stem to fit properly in the shank and sit inside the band. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper until the diameter was a close fit in the band. I slid it in place and took the pictures below to show the look of the pipe at this point. I knew that there was a lot more sanding to do to get a snug fit in the band but I wanted to see a picture to look at the fit a bit removed from the pipe I held in my hands. I purposely chose a longer stem to give it a subtle elegance and length bordering on a mini-churchwarden pipe.Broke26



Broke29 I lightly topped the bowl some more to take care of the burn marks on the right side of the rim top. Then I took a set of close-up photos of the bowl with the band to look at the rustication and figure out where I needed to do some touch up work on it. The shank was where I was the most concerned. I wanted it to match as much as possible with the bowl rustication. I could see that overall it looked good but that the left side of the shank would need some adjusting before it was finished.Broke30



Broke33 I touched up the rustication on the left side of the shank and then wire brushed the entire bowl and shank with the brass bristle brush to knock of loose particles.Broke34



Broke37 I brushed of the dust with a shoe brush and then took out some black aniline stain to give the rustication and undercoat of black. I applied the stain with the dauber and then flamed it with the lighter to set the stain in the bottom of the rustication.Broke38



Broke41 I sanded the stem with a medium and a fine grit sanding pad and put it back in the shank to get a feel for the appearance of the pipe after staining.Broke42



Broke45 I took the stem back out and worked on it with the micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each of the three grits.Broke46

Broke47 Between the 4000 and the 6000 grit pads I buffed it with White Diamond on the wheel and then finished with the higher grit micromesh pads.Broke48 I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond and gave it a coat of carnauba wax. The next two photos show the polished stem in place on the pipe.Broke49

Broke50 I sanded the surface of the rustication to knock off some of the high points and smooth it out slightly using a sanding block. The sanding made the rustication a bit more pebble like in appearance and once I had finished the sanding I gave the bowl a coat of oxblood aniline stain as a top coat. It added some red highlights to the rustication – particularly on the high spots. I then buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the wheel and gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I polished the band with silver polish and hand buffed it with a soft jeweler’s cloth. The finished pipe is shown below. It has a delicate look that gives it an air of elegance and class. I am looking forward to firing it up and enjoying a bowl soon.Broke51



Broke54 Thanks for looking.

The One That Got Away – Robert M. Boughton

Guest Blog by Robert M. Boughton
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors
Photos © the Author

“Love bravely, live bravely, be courageous, there’s really nothing to lose.”
— Jewel (Jewel Kilcher), singer-songwriter, guitarist, actress, author and poet

Indeed, I endeavor to live life to the fullest and take calculated risks. But be advised, the good lady, Jewel, is not altogether correct. This, therefore, is a cautionary account of a wonderful Gilpin, being the product of a maker called Salisbury.

Because of its humble background that defies my concerted attempts to trace the brand even to a country of origin, the 5-1/2″ long pipe (from the front of the small, flat, rounded base to the lip of the stem) with a 1-7/8″ bowl height, though an uneven mix of birds-eye and erratic lines, is nevertheless a fine example of engineering, briar quality and the ultimate smoking pleasure that results. I believe Salisbury is or was a small, independent pipe shop, or perhaps just the name of the town where a modest craftsman who created the Gilpin lived.

For anyone who has read my other recent blogs, the beginning of this part will come as a given. More for the benefit of others, I have to say this unfortunate pipe, which came as part of a lot I purchased online because I could see through the beast to the beauty inside, was not treated well by its former owner. Exercising the utmost restraint, I will forego any judgment calls as to the personality of that ignorant individual and just get to proof of where I started. The only redeeming factor is that there was nothing wrong with the interior structural character of the Gilpin.Robert1 Robert2 Robert3 Robert4Needless to say, the pipe was as thrashed as the others in its lot, to my benefit since, taken as a whole, the collection did not appear to be worth my overbid that succeeded in scaring off the other contenders, and I won for next to nothing.

When I finished with my reamer and 150-grit paper on the chamber, I had removed enough cake both to fill three bowls and to rest my softened case against the previous individual who had possession of this pipe.
Robert5For the rim I started with 220-grit paper and then, as the wood began to peek through, finished the removal of the serious burning with 1500 micromesh.Robert6The uniform scratches all around the rim indicated a need for slow work with 400-grit paper and 2400 micromesh to achieve smoothness.Robert7I re-stained the rim a light brown and hand-buffed it with 2400 micromesh.

The stem on the Gilpin was so roughed-up and discolored that it proved to be the most difficult part of the restoration. Beginning with vigorous sanding using more 220-grit paper, I spent close to a half-hour removing the blemishes that must have contributed to the collectors who also bid on this lot giving up after my one max offer of $40. I paid $22.50 for the four pipes. I finished my labor on the stem with 1500 micromesh, then 3200.

After cleaning and sanitizing the near-finished Gilpin, I had only to polish the stem and wood on my twin fixed-speed buffers. I know, I know! I can’t count the times my friend and mentor, Chuck Richards, and other restorers more experienced than I have admonished me to have a firm grip on the material being buffed when using this type of inexpensive tool. And I swear to all that is holy to me that I did just that. Read on, and I shall tell you the tale.

Starting with the stem, using red Tripoli and White Diamond, the result was perfect. I moved on to the bowl and shank, buffing them to a beautiful sheen with white Tripoli, White Diamond and the last touch of carnauba. I was, in fact, in the act of removing the beautiful briar from the carnauba wheel.

And that was when…

Well, that was when the unthinkable happened. You know by now where this is going. The precious piece of wood got away from me and, thanks to my not having set up a soft net for such contingencies, flew at warp speed straight into the wall a mere few inches behind the buffer.

I actually heard the sound of the snap, although I could not see where the consequence of my mistake came to rest. As a nauseating, heartbroken sickness spread from my stomach to the rest of my body and mind in one breathless heartbeat, I switched off the second buffer and leaned over the edge of the stand and spotted the bowl on the carpet – with a jagged break in the shank near the draught hole.

Of all the accursed luck! Right before the frigging draught hole! (That, for your information, was not the adjective I in fact shouted out loud in a maelstrom of horror and self-flagellation.) Even through the mental fog that swirled inside my addled head and made my sight blur, I had a good idea of the significance of that location, more or less the hottest place on a pipe, as opposed to the stem end, where I might have had a fighting chance to Super Glue it back together and band the sorry, mortally wounded Gilpin.

But where was the other piece? I grew frantic in a way I had not experienced in years. Standing there where I had frozen, without moving my feet, I searched everywhere around the stand until at last, turning only my head, I found the missing piece of the shank. It was behind me by a box near the middle of the room.Robert8And so it came to pass, the next day at my tobacconist, that I took the all but ruined pipe, in its three clean and sparkling pieces that seemed to mock me, and at least having calmed down enough to smile for Chuck as I handed him the violated parts said:

“The one that got away.”

“What’s this?” Chuck said with his grin of curious amusement.

“The one that got away,” I said again. “You know how often you’ve told me to be extra careful holding pipes on the buffers I have. Well, one finally got away.”

Recounting my story to him, I saw his big, warm smile emerge and felt so much better, even though I knew in my heart that he would confirm that the hapless Gilpin was beyond repair for purposes of selling.

Chuck and Chad

Chuck and Chad

As luck would have it, though, if such a phrase could even be conceived to apply to this calamity, the fractured pipe was not beyond repair for what Chuck called a shop pipe, or one to be enjoyed by myself while restoring others. All I needed to do was find some sort of short rod to anchor the two parts of the shank in place and Super Glue them together without letting any of the glue seep inside.

I can do that, I thought, and a local hardware store where I could find such a thing came to mind. The next day I visited the store and searched through the limited possibilities. I spotted a 315-piece box of assorted sizes of spring steel, black oxidized roll pins, and after much thought decided what the heck. One of the two smallest pins, I concluded, would fit the bill.Robert10Choosing the smallest, which was 1/16×3/16″ in size, I inserted one end of the roll pin into the bowl end of the shank, as is obvious in the photo above. With great care, I applied Super Glue around the exposed wood of the same end and fitted the other piece of the shank, without the stem, over the pin and into place, lined up in a perfect match.Robert11The next step I chose, after letting the glue set, was to use 400-grit paper to smooth the dried scab of glue as well as I could. In the process, of course, some of the finish came with it, but that was easy to fix with a small amount of brown boot stain around the lighter area.

I flamed it and used 2400 micromesh to remove the char. At that point, the dreaded time to return to the buffers had arrived, and so there I went. Taking a deep breath and telling myself whatever happened was okay, I felt a calmness come over me. I turned on the two buffers and re-did the entire bowl and shank with red and white Tripoli, White Diamond and carnaubaRobert12 Robert13 Robert14Only the knowledge that I would be smoking the finished pipe alone in my little shop and thinking of this black experience every time consoled me.

I have been smoking a bowl of Cornell & Diehl Sunday Picnic in my new shop pipe as I finish up this most excellent example of how not to restore a pipe. The Gilpin is every bit as good as I expected, but of course I remain unhappy with the end. I would much rather have concluded on a happy note with the Salisbury whole and rejuvenated and ready to sell, but life sometimes takes cruel turns.

Then again, maybe the beautiful, aptly named Jewel had it right.

Kaywoodie Rustica Repaired and Refurbished

When I first saw this pipe it was on Pipe Smokers Unlimited online forum and Bill was lamenting the fact that when he was trying to unscrew the stem the shank had broken. The stinger was welded in place in the aluminum mortise insert and in twisting the stem it broke. What was odd was that the stem freely spun around on the stinger so evidently the glue had loosened enough to allow it to turn without it coming off. Bill posted these two photos on-line and asked for help.

It looked to me that there was darkening around the area of the break which suggest from the photos that a potential burn through was happening. The break was clean and the two pieces lent themselves to a potential repair. The metal shank insert would serve to strengthen the repair from the inside so I suggested that Bill put a silver band on the pipe and the combination of the internal metal tube and the band would provide stability to the repaired shank.

Bill thanked me for the suggestion and then shortly sent a message that the pipe was on its way to me and it was now mine.

When the pipe arrived it was indeed a clean break. The darkening on the shank near the break was not a burn through waiting to happening it was merely darkening. There were other spots on the pipe that makes me think that it was part of the finish. I took the pipe to the work table and tried to remove the stem from the piece of the shank. It did indeed freely twist in the mortise but the stem would not turn. The stinger stayed stationary while the stem turned. I used some WD40 to try to loosen the tarry build up on the stinger and penetrate into the joint. I let it sit and it still did not move. I thought about what to do next so I cleaned up the stinger and then used a Bic lighter to heat up the end of the stinger. My thinking was that the heat on the metal would also warm the tars that bound the stinger to the mortise. It worked better than I expected and in short order the stem was free. The bonus was that the glue that held the stinger in place in the stem also heated and when it cooled the stem no longer spun on the stinger.
I cleaned up the broken ends of the shank and the visible end of the metal insert with acetone and qtips (cotton swabs) and then dried it and cleaned it again with isopropyl alcohol. I mixed up a two part epoxy and applied it to both sides of the broken shank and around the end of the inserted mortise. When the glue was tacky I pressed the two parts into place and held them tightly until the epoxy was initially set. That usually takes 3-5 minutes with the brand of epoxy that I am using so it is not a terribly long wait. I keep the pressure firm so that there is no give in the bond. I need to pick up some clamps that allow me the freedom to press it together and set it aside but I do not have them at the present. Before the epoxy dried hard I cleaned up the slight seepage at the joint with a soft cloth.
After the epoxy had cured several hours I put wood glue on the outside of the shank and pressure fit a nickel band in place on the shank. The band was not overly deep so it did not obscure the stamping on the underside of the shank and also did not go too deeply into the rustication on the shank. It extended just beyond the deepest point of the break. The combination of the band and the internal mortise would strengthen the repair. The next series of photos show the repaired shank with the band in place.




With the shank repair finished it was time to clean up the rest of the pipe. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer to take the cake back to the briar. I wanted to examine the walls of the bowl for potential damage so this was my means of doing so. There was a slight burned area on the inside edge of the rim at the back of the bowl that would need some attention. I used a brass tire brush to scrub the top of the rim as well as the inner edge to clean off the tars and carbon buildup. The soft brass bristles work very well with a rusticated finish. I was able to clean up the rim quite nicely with the brush.

The exterior of the bowl had a thick coat of urethane on it that gave it a permanent shine. I tried to remove it with acetone but it did not even scratch the surface of the finish. I used several solvents and was not able to remove any of the finish so I decided to leave it alone. I used a lighter to brush flame over the rest of the bowl to further darken the crevices and grooves in the finish to highlight them. This seemed to work very well. I restained the rim with a dark brown aniline stain and repeated it until the surface was well covered. I wiped it down with alcohol on a cotton pad to thin it to match the colour of the bowl and then flamed the surface to darken it slightly. I finished by taking the bowl to the buffer and buffing it lightly with red Tripoli and White Diamond to polish and give the rim the same shine as the bowl.


With the work on the bowl finished it was time to address some of the issues with the stem. There was light tooth chatter on the top and bottom of the stem next to the button and there was a slight oxidation to the overall stem. I cleaned out the internals of the stem and the stinger with isopropyl alcohol and pipe cleaners until I had removed all of the buildup inside. Then I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and a medium and fine grit sanding sponge to remove the tooth chatter and then followed that with my usual regimen of micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with the 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanded with the 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil.


When the stem was dry I buffed it with White Diamond. I polished the nickel band with the higher grades of micromesh sanding pads and then silver polish. I put the pipe back together and gave it a light buff with White Diamond. I applied carnauba to the bowl and stem to protect and preserve the stem and rim. I was pretty certain that the hard finish on the bowl would last longer than I would so it did not need a lot of wax. The finished pipe is shown below. The shank repair is very stable and solid so I think the pipe will provide many more years of service. Thanks Bill for the challenge and the gift you sent my way. It is greatly appreciated.