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.
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).