Tag Archives: repairing a cracked shank

Banding and Restoring a Radford Ravel Rhodesian


Blog by Steve Laug

I am working on the second pipe I chose to work on in the lot of nine pipes I am restoring for the pipe smoker who dropped by a box of pipes that badly needed attention. This one was stamped Radford Ravel and had a mixed finish of smooth top and sandblasted shank and bottom part of the bowl. It is a Rhodesian and the cap is smooth and the rest is sandblast. It was finished in a dark brown stain. The finish was very dirty and there were quite a few sandpits and nicks in the smooth portion of the bowl cap. The shank was crack on the lower right side and extended from the shank end up the shank about a ¼ inch. The stem was a replacement and had a brass washer on the tenon and glued against the shank. When the new stem was made the maker put a space on the tenon to add colour to the stem. I figure that the new stem is what cracked the shank. When I received the pipe the stem did not fit tightly. There were tooth marks, tooth chatter and a lot of oxidation on the stem. There was also a bead of glue around the washer on the tenon.

There was something about the brand on the pipe that rang a bell for me. I have a tin of their Sunday’s Fantasy Tobacco in my cellar and I wondered if they might have made pipes as well.

I did a bit of digging and found the picture on the left that showed some of the tobaccos made by the company and also a great figurine with the name Thomas Radford mild premium pipe tobacco on the base. On Pipedia I found that Radford’s Private Label Pipes were crafted by Chacom for the Pöschl Tabak GmbH & Co. in Germany. This information was from “Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks”, by José Manuel Lopes. The pipes were mass produced with ebonite and acrylic stems and were introduced by Butz-Choquin, Chacom, and Nording. On the stem there is generally an embossed logo that was a stylized R. The pipes were made to use 9mm filters and are moderately priced and very attractive. The following three links were the sources I used for this information.

https://pipedia.org/wiki/Radford%27s

http://www.poeschl-tobacco.com/en/products/

http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-r1.html

I also looked on another website and got a little more information on the brand. The Radford’s pipe appears in 6 models in 3 variations 1x time a year in autumn. The so called Radford’s Depot contains a minimum of 1 dozen pipes of the actual running collection. Connected to the depot is a listing of the depot holder in Radford’s News.

This particular brand RADFORD’S SERIE RAVEL was a series of 6 elegant models within Radford’s Collection. They are made from good briar wood, sandblast, black/brown with a polished head’s border in dark-red shade. Very nice rich-in-contrast ring at the shaft’s finish. Mouthpiece from Acryl for 9 mm filter. http://cigar.supersmokers.biz/radfords/

With all of this information I now knew that the pipe was originally made for a 9mm filter. The mortise was drilled deep in the shank to contain the 9mm filter. The replacement stem was a regular push stem without a filter tenon. I took some photos of the pipe before I started working on it. The finish was in really rough shape. You can see the glue and sticky material on the stem near the shank band. I took a photo of the inside of the shank to show the thick tars that had built up on the walls of the shank. The space in the mortise between the end of the tenon and the extra depth for the end of the original filters was filled with tar and oils. It was thick and sticky.I took a close up photo of the bowl to show the thick cake that lined the walls of the tapered bowl. The photo also shows the damage to the front of the bowl where the pipe had been tapped out against a hard surface. The second photo below shows the crack on the right underside of the shank. It appeared to me from the smooth area and the look of the stain that someone had tried to glue the crack and do a repair but it was not done well.The next two photos show the damage to the stem. The calcium build up on the button end of the stem, the oxidation and glue that is globbed on the stem to hold the washer in place on the tenon and the deep tooth marks on both sides near the button show in the photos.I scrubbed down the surface of the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to remove the damaged finish and the grime and oils in the grooves and crevices of the sandblast. I wanted the surface clean so that I could drill a hole to stop the crack before binding it together with glue and a nickel band on the shank. I drilled two pin holes at the end of the shank with a microdrill bit on a Dremel. The first one was slightly short of the end of the crack so I had to drill a second one.I heated the band to make the fit easier on the shank. I painted the shank end with some slow drying super glue and pressed the band in place against the topping board.I scrubbed the bowl with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove that last of the dust. I took pictures of the bowl with the new bling addition. I reamed the bowl with the PipNet reamer to take back the cake to the bare walls of the bowl. I finished the reaming using a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to scrape the inside of the bowl smooth. I rolled some 180 grit sandpaper around the end of my finger and sanded the walls of the bowl smooth.To remove the damage to the top of the bowl and to clean up the rough front edge of the bowl cap I lightly topped it on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper.With the bowl exterior cleaned and the damaged rim top repaired I worked on the inside of the mortise and the airway from the mortise end into the bowl. I used the drill bit that is in the handle of the KleenReem pipe reamer to ream out the airway into the bowl. I turned the bit into the bowl using the knurled end to press it through. I cleaned off the drill bit and used the dental spatula to scrape the walls of the mortise all the way to the end where the airway entered the bowl. The amount of grit and oils that came out with the scraping was phenomenal.I wiped the bowl cap down with alcohol and filled in the sandpits around the outer walls of the cap with clear super glue.I cleaned out the shank and mortise once again with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners until I had removed all of the loose debris left in the shank.I sanded the repaired patches on the cap with 220 grit sandpaper until the repairs were blended into the surface of the briar. I used a black Sharpie Pen to darken the spots and then wiped the bowl and cap down with alcohol to blend in the black. I scraped the area around the washer and the tenon with a sharp knife and funneled the end of the tenon to facilitate better airflow in the stem. I cleaned out the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners, alcohol and cotton swabs.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the stem surface and wiped the tooth marks down with alcohol. I filled in the tooth marks with black super glue and set the stem aside to let the glue cure.I stuffed a cotton ball into the bowl and rolled a cotton pad into the shank. I set the pipe in an ice cube tray and used an ear syringe to fill the bowl with alcohol and let it sit during the day. I left it sitting all day while I worked on the slot in the stem. At the end of the day the cotton had yellowed the cotton and the alcohol had pulled out tar and oil from the bowl walls.I used needle files to open up the slot in the button. I used a flat, flattened oval and regular oval file to open the slot. I folded a piece of sandpaper and sanded out the inside of the newly opened slot. After sanding it the slot was open enough to easily take a pipe cleaner. By this time the alcohol/cotton ball soak in the bowl was finished. I pulled the cotton balls out of the bowl and the pad out of the shank and threw them away. I cleaned out the shank and airway once again with cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. Once it was clean I stained the bowl with dark brown aniline stain cut 50/50 with alcohol. I flamed the stain to set it in the grain. I repeated the process until the coverage was what I was looking for.I rubbed bowl down with olive oil on a cloth and hand buffed the bowl with a rough cotton cloth. I took some photos of the new look of this old Radford Ravel pipe. The bowl is starting to look really good and shows some promise. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratches and raise a shine on the vulcanite. I removed the brass washer on the stem and polished it with sandpaper. I reglued it onto the tenon with super glue. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit pads and rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. There were still scratches and also some oxidation. I repeated the sanding with those pads and then moved on to dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed it down with the oil after each set of three pads. After the final pad I gave it a final coat of the oil and set it aside to dry. I buffed the stem with Red Tripoli to try to remove the remaining oxidation and then buffed the entire pipe and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I polished the metal band with a jeweler’s polishing cloth. I gave the stem and bowl multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine on the briar. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It has come a long way from the way it looked when I received it to work on. I really like the looks and the shape of the pipe. I have now finished two of pipes that the pipe smoker dropped off for me to restore before he left on holiday. I look forward to seeing what he thinks of his pipes.

Easy Cleanup of a M&T Bent Horn Bulldog


Aaron Henson – 7/23/16

I have not been very good at documenting my last few restorations. Once I get into a project I tend to get so focused I forget to take pictures, especially if it’s a repair that is technically challenging or that I have not done before. The most recent example of this was an unsmoked M&T bent bulldog with a horn stem.  Even though it had never been used (it still had the factory purple putty bowl coating) it had a few issues to be addressed from its 40+ years of tumbling around in a drawer.M1When I saw the pipe in the case at the antique store the first thing that caught my eye was the horn stem and I knew I wanted it. In all honesty, I wasn’t one hundred percent sure that it was horn until I got it home. A couple of passes with a 2400 micro mesh pad and a sniff test confirmed my suspicions – it’s the same smell as when you use an emery board on a finger nail. M2I started with a little research into the brand.  The only M&T that I could find was the German pipe maker Müllenbach & Thewald.  They made pipes from 1830 until the 1972.  The company still exists but is solely devoted to mineral mining.  You might think this strange but M&T was known originally for clay pipes. In 1860 they branched into making wood pipes.  A short article on M&T can be found on Pipedia.

I began the restoration by performing triage of the issues to be addressed. The bowl was clean but had a dull finish that was marred with some dents and minor scratches. The factory bowl coating was starting to chip and a there were three small fills on the outside of the bowl that needed to be repaired. A close inspection of the shank revealed a small crack where the aluminum tenon inserted (seen in the picture below). I had assumed the narrow band was original to the pipe but perhaps it had been added to reinforce the shank?  I may never know the answer to that.  All in all the bowl was very good condition.M3The stem too was in almost “like new” condition.   A few scratches but the button was well define and, of course, no tooth chatter. The aluminum tenon was a little rough around the edges but the fit to the shank was fine.

I started by applying a thin coat of mineral oil on the stem. This seemed to ‘hydrate’ the horn and give some bite to the micro mesh pads. I worked through the 1500 to 12000 pads stopping to apply oil as the horn dried out. The button was quite large and the edges sharp, a bit more than I like. But I kept it original and only slightly smoothed the corners while polishing. I smoothed up the edges of the tenon and set the stem aside.

The first order of business was the cracked shank. Using a 1/64 drill bit, I drilled a hole at the end of the crack to stop its spread then filled the crack with clear supper glue.  Then I picked out the three putty fills and using a super glue and briar dust mixture, refilled the pits. Once cured I sanded the repair smooth.M4I steamed the dents out of the briar with a clothes iron applied to a wet cloth wrapped around the stummel – keeping away from the stampings and fingers.  I sanded the entire stummel up to the 3200 micro mesh then wipe down with alcohol before I stained.  In this case I tried to match the original color with several coats of different browns aniline dyes.

Before reassembling I decide to remove the factory bowl coat and leave it bare briar. Then I wiped the whole outside of the pipe with mineral oil and set it aside for twelve hours before taking to the buffer.  The oil seems to hydrate the briar and brings out a nice shine when waxed.  I first buff with red diamond, wipe off the residue with a soft cotton cloth then apply three coats of carnauba wax giving the pipe a little rest between each coat.

The bent bulldog is one of my favorite shapes and I love the horn stem.  I’m not sure when I will get around to breaking it in.  It might just stay unsmoked for a while.M5 M6 M7 M8

An Interesting Antique Store Stummel


Blog by Steve Laug

I have a routine when I visit in Bellingham. I take the ladies in my life to the mall and leave them to shop and I set out on my circuit of pipe haunts to see if I can find some likely object of my attention to repair. I rarely come home empty handed, though I don’t know if that is because I will work on many kinds of pipes or if it is because I generally find something. It may be hard for the observer to discern the difference, I know it is for my wife and daughters. I visited several of my haunts and finally in the last one I did a quick walk through and found nothing… this time it looked like I would come home empty handed. Just to make sure I asked at the counter if there were any old pipes in the shop. The seller pointed directly behind me and there in a case that I had totally missed were four pipes. I bought them all. They had a look of age about them so I jumped and paid the price. It turned out that one of them had a cracked bowl but I was able to cannibalize a sterling silver band for an old KBB Yello Bole from the 20s. Two of them were also older – one a GBD and one a Dr. Plumb. The fourth, a Canadian had a gold coloured band and was missing the stem. It looked pretty dirty and the finish was gone. I figured that it too might be one I cannibalized for parts. I paid for them and went out to my car. I went through them and looked them over. The first three showed no surprises. But the stemless bowl was a real surprise. There on the shank was the arced Barlings stamping and under that was the stamping Ye Olde Wood over 237 on the left top side of the shank and Made in England on the right top side. There is also a remnant of the word EXEL. Boy was I surprised. Suddenly it went from a potential victim for cannibalization to one that had some interest for me. It turned out to be the best of the lot.Barling1 Barling2 Barling3 Barling4I took a close-up photo of the rim to show the extent of the damage to that area. The cake in the bowl had flown over the top of the rim. There were also dings and dents that were quite deep. The outer edge was compromised and rounded over and the inner edge was out of round. I also included a photo of the stamping and the crack in the shank. This is the stamping that I saw in the bright daylight when I left the basement antique shop.Barling5I went through my can of stems and found one that would work on this shank. I had to go with a bit of an oversized stem in terms of diameter as the shank was thinner on the top than on the bottom. I would have to hand fit the stem to accommodate that idiosyncrasy.Barling6I used a microdrill bit to put a tiny pin hole at the end of the crack and then filled in the crack with super glue. The drilled hole would keep the crack from spreading and the glue would fill it in. The integrity of the shank was stabilized by the band as well.Barling7Once I had a good fit of the stem to the shank I used the Dremel and sanding drum to remove the excess vulcanite on the diameter of the stem. The fine tuning and flow of the stem would be done by files and hand sanding.Barling8 Barling9I reamed the bowl with the PipNet reamer and took out the majority of the cake. I cleaned it up and took it back to briar with the Savinelli Pipe Knife.Barling10 Barling11I topped the bowl on a topping board using 220 grit sandpaper. I removed the damaged surface of the rim until the outer edges were sharp and there was no rounding.Barling12I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to remove the grime and wax that had built up and made the exterior dull and lifeless.Barling13 Barling14I reworked the inner edge of the bowl to bevel it and bring it back to round using a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper and then a piece of 220 grit sandpaper.Barling15I wiped the bowl down again with acetone to remove any remaining grit and also the sanding dust from the rim repairs.Barling16I put the stem in place and took some photos to be able to see what still remained to remove from the diameter of the stem and what shaping still needed to be done. There was some width to be removed from the top and bottom sides at the band and then the taper needed to be reduced as well to remove the slight hip. The width on the right and left side also needed a bit more work to make the flow seamless.Barling17 Barling18I sanded the stem with 180 grit sandpaper to further shape it and clean up the flow from the shank to the button. It took a lot of sanding to get the angles and flow just right.Barling19I scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the stem and the shank with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners.Barling20I sanded the rim with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches left behind by the topping and then stained it with a light brown stain pen to match the colour of the bowl.Barling21I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and gave it a coat of Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished the sanding with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it a final coat of oil. I set it aside to dry.Barling22 Barling23 Barling24I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond and gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. The colour darkened slightly with the wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad and then by hand with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown below. I am pleased with the way the fit and finish of the stem came out and also the overall look of the pipe. Thanks for looking.Barling25 Barling26 Barling27 Barling28 Barling29 Barling30 Barling31

 

Repairing and Restoring a KBB Yello-Bole 2070B Cutty


Blog by Steve Laug

I was contacted by Robb, a reader of the blog about working on an old Yello-Bole Cutty that he had picked up. He said it was in decent shape but had a cracked shank that someone had already done a repair on. They had glued the shank with wood glue but when the stem was inserted it cracked again. He wanted the shank reglued and banded. We talked about different options for repairing the pipe and the costs of doing it. Finally, in an email he offered to trade me the pipe in exchange for one that I had for sale on the blog – a Kaywoodie Signature Bulldog. The deal was done and the pipe was now mine.

As with many of the pipes I repair and restore I want to learn as much about them as I can. I did some work on the internet trying to find the shape number of the pipe and information on the stamping. After a pretty fruitless search I wrote to Troy Wilburn of the Baccypipes Blog to get some information on dating the pipe. Troy has become my go to guy when I want to learn information on this particular brand of American pipes. He wrote back quickly with a reply which I summarize below. In it he walked me through the meaning of the stamping and how that helped with the dating of the pipe. His quick first answer stated that the pipe was made between 1933-1936. Here is the main portion of what he wrote to me:

“I’ll break down the stamping and numbers for you. Starting with the left side of the shank the pipe is stamped with KBB in a clover leaf and next to that it says Yello-Bole. Underneath it is stamped Honey Cured Briar. Yello-Bole pipes that come from 1933-1936 bore the stamp Honey Cured Briar. On the right side of the shank it is stamped 2070B. The meaning of the numbers breaks down as follows. The number 20 tells us that the stem is black vulcanite with a push tenon made between 1932-1940s. The next two numbers, 70 gives the shape – a long Belgian and that it was made between 1928/9 and 1935. They made a regular 70 (it’s just called Belgian), a large Belgian 70B, and a long Dublin Belgian 70B.”

I took some photos of the pipe with the stem in the shank to highlight the issues that I saw with the pipe. Not only was the shank cracked but the tenon was also cracked and set at an angle to the stem making alignment in the shank impossible. The dimensions of the pipe to give some perspective to the photos are: Length – 8 inches, bowl height – 2inches, outer bowl diameter – 1 ¼ inches, inner bowl diameter – ¾ inches. You can see that it is a large pipe. The finish was crackled and dirty – almost opaque to the point that the grain was hidden. The rim had a lava buildup and the bowl had a thin, uneven cake that covered it top to bottom. The stem was oxidized and yellow. The stinger was glued in place in the tenon with the broken tenon anchored firmly to the metal insert on the stinger. It was also glued in sideways instead of upright.YB1 YB2 YB3I took a close up photo of the tenon and stinger repair that had been done to show the cracked and glue pieces of the tenon on the stinger. You can see in the photo where pieces of the tenon had broken free when I removed the stem from the pipe.YB4The crack in the shank arced from one side of the pipe to the other forming a closed crack. The chunk of briar had been glued in place by what appeared to be wood glue. The repair was not strong enough to protect the shank when the angled tenon was inserted in the mortise. Each time the stem was inserted the crack opened wide. Because it had a start and an end point there was no threat in the crack spreading upward along the shank. I had two options for repairing this. I could either insert a tube inside the shank thus internally banding the pieces in place or I could use a band on the exterior to the same effect. As I worked on the i decided to band the shank rather than do an internal repair. The thinness of the tenon with the stinger in place would make it impractical to reduce the size of the tenon further to fit in the inner tube repair.YB5I removed the stinger from the stem and broke away the pieces of the rubber tenon from the metal insert. The stinger was exceptionally long and once I replaced the tenon I would make a decision what to do with it.YB6I have an assortment of threaded replacement tenons that I use to repair broken tenons. I went through my container and found one that was a good fit in the shank.YB7I used the Dremel and sanding drum to flatten out the broken pieces of the old tenon on the end of the stem. I used the topping board to square up the end. I set up a cordless drill and a drill bit approximately the size of the threaded portion of the new tenon. I turned the stem onto the drill bit and slowly opened the airway to fit the new tenon. Once I had the airway open and deep enough to accommodate the threaded end I used a tap to cut threads into the inside of the stem. YB8I turned the new tenon into the threaded airway in the stem to check the fit. When it was correct I gave the threads a coat of slow drying black super glue and turned the tenon into the stem until it was tight against the face of the stem.YB9 YB10I set the stem aside to let the glue cure and began to work on the crack in the shank. It did not matter which way I chose to repair the shank I needed to clean up the previous repair and remove the dried wood glue. I needed a clean surface to reglue with super glue. Once I had the surface clean I pried open the crack and used a dental pick to push clear super glue into the crack. Once the glue was in place I clamped the shank until the glue set.YB11I sanded the glued shank with 180 grit sandpaper to remove the finish and the over flow of glue from the repair. I wanted to make the surface smooth so that I could either band it externally or do it internally and then refinish the shank.YB12 YB13The next two photos show the gold/yellow colour of the paint in the stamping of the shank on both sides. Once I stripped the bowl of the varnish coat this would disappear and I would need to recreate it.YB14I cleaned out the inside of the shank and the mortise with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. It was dirty but cleaned up easily. I repeated the same process on the airway in the stem. It too was easy to clean. I reamed out the bowl with the Savinelli Pipe Knife to take the cake back. Underneath the light cake I found that they original Yello-Bole coating was still in place.YB15Once the glue on the shank had cured overnight I carefully put the stem in the shank to check the alignment of the stem and shank. I took the following photos of the pipe at this point in the process.YB16 YB17I wiped the bowl down with acetone on cotton pads to remove the varnish coat that was crackling. It took some scrubbing but the finish came off quite easily and left the colour in the briar.YB18I was careful to not wipe around the repaired shank as the acetone will dissolve super glue and I would be back to square one. I sanded the bowl with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to further remove the finish.YB19I wiped the bowl down with a light coat of olive oil to see what the grain looked like.YB20 YB21I cleaned the shank and used European Gold Rub N’ Buff to restore the gold in the stamping. I really like how Yello-Bole and some of the older American pipes utilized the gold leaf in the stamping to make it highly readable.YB22I scrubbed the stem with Meguiar’s Scratch X2.0 to remove the majority of the oxidation and polish the stem. The residue of the oxidation is shown on the cotton pad under the stem.YB23I sanded the remaining oxidation with 220 grit sandpaper to remove it from the surface of the stem. There were some small tooth marks on the top and bottom sides of the stem as well that I sanded out with the sandpaper.YB24I wetsanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and gave the stem a coat of Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it a final rubdown with Obsidian Oil.YB25 YB26I drilled out the tenon to the diameter of the stinger apparatus that had originally come with the old tenon. I made it large enough that the stinger was removable in order that the pipe could be smoked with or without the stinger.YB27The band that Charles shipped me came on Friday and it was a good fit on the shank. I coated the shank with some white glue and pressed the band onto the shank. I wiped away the excess glue with a damp cotton pad.YB28 YB29I used a dark brown stain pen to touch up the area around the shank repair that extended beyond the band. The colour worked well with the brown/red colour of the stain on the rest of the shank.YB30I buffed the area around the band with White Diamond on the wheel to blend in the stain colour with the rest of the pipe. I buffed the entire pipe with Blue Diamond, being careful to avoid the nickel band. I have found that when I buff the band at the same time as the rest of the pipe the black from the nickel on the buffing pad is transferred to the shank and stem. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and gave the stem and bowl multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad and then with a microfibre cloth to deepen and raise the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I really like the way it turned out and I am sure glad that I was able to work a trade with Robb for the pipe.YB31 YB32 YB33 YB34 YB35 YB36 YB37 YB38I took some final photos of the pipe. The first photo shows the stinger next to the bowl and stem go give an idea of the size of the stinger and the second photo shows the stinger in place in the stem. Thanks for looking. YB39 YB40

Restemming and Restoring a Potpouri Author


Blog by Steve Laug

I have a growing box of bowls that came to me without stems. It seems each time I clean it out and restem the pipes I inherit more of them. This is not a complaint as I actually enjoy restemming pipe bowls. It is always a challenge to get a new stem to align properly with the shank and to deal with cracks or damages to the bowl or the shank. This bowl came to me and I immediately fell for the rustic rocklike features of the rustication. It was gnarled and rough looking and felt great in the hand. The bowl was dirty and the deep grooves of the rustication had a lot of dirt and grime build up in them. The rim was caked and the rustication pretty much filled in the grooves making the rim surface smooth. The bowl had a rough cake in it and looked as if someone had started reaming the bowl but did not finish. There were some small fissures like cracks in the sides of the bowl near the entrance of the airway and on the bottom and the top of the airway. Someone had cleaned out the shank so it was not too dirty. There was a small crack on the top of the shank that was about 1/8 long. I could open it slightly with a wedge so it would need to be glued and banded. The pipe showed a lot of promise though and I could see it come alive if I had the correct stem for it.Pot1 Pot2In the photo below there is a small crack barely visible in the middle of the shank end between my fingers. I have circled it with red to focus your eye on it. The tip of the red arrow is on top of the crack in the shank. It extends about 1/8 to ¼ inch.Pot3 Pot4I took a close-up photo of the bowl and rim to give you an idea of the state of things when I started. It is hard to see but at this point I could see some small cracks around the entrance of the airway to the bowl.Pot5I went through my can of stems and found a green acrylic stem that would do the trick on this pipe. It would go well with the rustication and the length and width of the stem would carry through the thickness of the bowl. I sanded the tenon with the Dremel and sanding drum until it was a close fit to the shank. I finished sanding by hand with 220 grit sandpaper. It fit well in terms of the width of the shank but it was slightly thicker on the top and the bottom where it met the shank. I was careful inserting it as I did not want to crack the shank further.Pot6 Pot7 Pot8I used the Dremel and sanding drum to remove much of the excess thickness on the top and the bottom of the stem at the shank junction. I do this carefully with the stem in place in the shank so that I can get it as close as possible without damaging the finish on the shank. You can see in the next two photos that the junction is pretty smooth now and the thickness is almost a match.Pot9 Pot10I finished the fit with a file and took off the remaining thickness that had to go. I also used the file to remove the tooth indentations on both sides of the stem near the button.Pot11 Pot12With the fit nearly perfect it was time to sand out the filing marks and smooth out the stem. I have a medium grit sanding stick that works perfect for this application and I sanded with it until all of the file marks were gone and the transition between the shank and the stem was smooth.Pot13 Pot14With the stem fit roughed in I turned my attention to the bowl and shank. I wanted to have the shank and bowl clean so I could deal with the repairs to the airway in the bowl and the crack on the top of the shank. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer using the largest cutting head. I cleaned up the remaining cake with the Savinelli Pipe Knife.Pot15 Pot16I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush on the sides, shank and the bowl of the bowl. I scrubbed the rim with a brass bristle brush until all of the lava that filled the rustication was gone.Pot17I rinsed off the soap with warm water and dried the bowl with a soft towel. The cleaned and reamed pipe is shown in the photo below.Pot18With the bowl reamed and the finish clean I turned to the internals. I cleaned out the mortise and airway into the bowl with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. It did not take too much to clean out the pipe. I cleaned the stem the same way and used a dental pick to clean up the slot in the end of the button.Pot19 Pot20I lightly sanded the crack on the top of the shank and spread it open with a dental pick. I used a tooth pick to push super glue into the crack and then held the crack together until the glue set. Once it was dry I found a round band that had the right circumference to fit the shank and heated it with a lighter and pressed it onto the shank of the pipe.Pot21 Pot22With shank repair complete and the bowl cleaned and ready I put the stem in place in the shank and took some photos of the pipe. I really liked the look of the band breaking up the rustic bowl and the smooth green stem. The band fit perfectly and did not cover the stamping on the underside of the shank. I still needed to sand the stem some more to get a shine but you can see what the pipe will look like at this point. Pot23 Pot24I mixed a batch of pipe mud (cigar ash and water) and used a dental spatula to apply it to the bottom of the bowl. I inserted a pipe cleaner in the airway and used the spatula to apply the mud to the small cracks and fissures around the airway. Once the mud cured the pipe bowl would be in good shape until a new cake was built.Pot25I heated the stem in a cup of water in the microwave until it was pliable and then put a gentle bend in it to give it a more elegant look and comfortable feel.Pot26 Pot27I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratches. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and then finished with 6000-12000 grit pads. I rubbed away the sanding dust with a damp cloth.Pot28 Pot29 Pot30I gave the pipe a light buff with Blue Diamond on the wheel to bring some deep shine to the stem. I then gave the stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I finished by hand buffing it with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The green acrylic stem works well with the rough finish on the bowl. I like the finished look. What do think? Thanks for looking.Pot31 Pot32 Pot33 Pot34

Replacing a Broken Tenon & Repairing a Cracked Shank on a Radice Brown Canadian


Blog by Steve Laug

A friend on Facebook messaged me not long ago with a proposition. I had repaired a pipe for a friend of his before Christmas and now he had one for me. He would send it up with some pipes to add to my refurbishing box. The one he had for me to repair was a Radice Brown Canadian with a gold band. The pipe arrived with the broken tenon stuck in the shank. In looking it over I could also see a small crack coming out from under the band that would need to be addressed. I used my usual tenon pulling method and was able to wiggle it free of the shank. The tenon was Delrin and was threaded so that it screwed into the stem. It had broken off leaving two full threads remaining on the end of the tenon. The second photo below shows the pulled tenon and the broken remainder of the tenon in the stem.Radice1

Radice2 I drilled out the broken tenon using a drill bit slightly smaller than the diameter of the hole in the stem. As I drilled it the broken tenon stuck on the drill bit and I was able to unscrew it from the stem. The photo below shows the freshly drilled stem. There was a lot of clutter left behind by the drill that I would need to clean out. I used a dental pick and pipe cleaners to remove all the debris and open up the airway in the stem. I noticed that there was a ridge on the inside of the bowl toward the bottom from whoever had reamed it before I received it.Radice3 Once I had the tenon out of the shank and the stem drilled and cleaned I examined the pipe carefully. From experience I have seen that when a tenon snaps there can also be collateral damage such as a cracked shank. The band on the pipe was loose so I slid it off and examined the shank. From the end view photo below you can see a crack at about 11 o’clock. It ran up the shank for about ¼ inch and then turned downward along the side of the shank. It extended for almost an inch along the side of the shank. There was a slight crack that split off of it and headed backward toward the end of the shank as well. I used a microdrill bit on the Dremel and drilled a small pin hole at the end of each branch of the crack.Radice4

Radice5 I put a light line of white all purpose glue around the shank and pressed the band in place. I cleaned up the overage of the white glue.Radice6 I used a dental pick to guide super glue drops into the drill holes and along the crack.Radice7

Radice8 I sanded the repair I had made to the cracked shank with 220 grit sandpaper and then with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge.Radice9 I sanded the repair area with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and then stained it with a light coloured stain touch up pen. The colour matched the rest of the bowl and shank and once it was polished blended in well. The two dark spots on the side of the shank were the filled drill holes. They are smooth to touch.Radice10 I used a needle file to smooth out the ridge at the bottom of the bowl and blended it in with the sides of the bowl as much as possible. I cleaned out the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I used a dental pick to clean out the slot on the stem and then ran pipe cleaners and cotton swabs through it to clean up the threads in the tenon end and the airway throughout the pipe.Radice11 I set the bowl aside and began to work on the stem. I decided to fill the missing dot on the top of the stem before I replaced the tenon. I screwed the broken tenon in to give me something to hold onto while I worked on the stem. I used a knitting needle that was ivory coloured and cut it down with the Dremel until I had a piece that would fit in the hole in the stem. I glued it in place with super glue and then cut off the body of the needle leaving just a small piece in the hole. I sanded it with the sanding drum on the Dremel and brought it as close to flush with the surface of the stem as possible without damaging the stem.Radice12

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Radice14 I sanded the dot flush with the surface of the stem with sandpaper and then with the sanding sponges and micromesh pads. I removed the broken tenon and prepared to cut a new tenon. For the material I used a small stem that I have been cannibalizing for tenon repairs.Radice15 I cut off a piece of the stem that would give me material to work with using a hacksaw.Radice16 I used the Dremel and sanding drum and two different rasps to reduce the diameter of the end of the newly cut tenon that would insert into the stem. It had to be the same diameter as the threaded end of the old tenon.Radice17 When I had the tenon fit I cut the length back to match the length of the previous tenon. I put some clear super glue on the small end of the tenon and pressed it into the stem. I ran a bead of clear super glue around the insertion point of the new tenon to make an air tight fit. The photo below shows the new tenon in place in the stem sitting next to the broken one.Radice18 I sanded the new tenon with micromesh sanding pads to polish it and readied it for the shank. Once it was clean I pushed the stem into the shank and took a series of photos to show the newly stemmed pipe. I quickly sanded the gold band with 6000-12000 grit micromesh pads to remove the scratching and grooves that had been present when I received the pipe.Radice19

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Radice23 I sanded the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiping down the stem with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and then gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding with 6000-12000 grit pads and then gave it a final coat to wipe off the sanding dust.Radice24

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Radice25a I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the wheel and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean flannel buff. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth and then set it aside for photographs. I hand polished the band with a jeweler’s cloth to give it a shine to match the stem.Radice26

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What a Mess – A Vanguard Reg’d. Lumberman with a Bit of History


Blog by Steve Laug

I recently came across an EBay lot of bowls without stems and broken tenons still in the shanks. In the lot was one that intrigued me. It was the only one with a stem. The stem was short and tapered. It was very narrow and the button and slot made me think that it was old. The lot had the look of older English pipes but there was no information on the stamping. When the lot arrived in Vancouver, the stemmed pipe was stamped Vanguard over Reg’d on the left side of the shank. All other stamping, if there had been any, was lost.lot1 The bowls finish was gone. The colour was almost grey and there were spots all over this bowl and the others as can be seen in the photo below.lot3 From the third and fourth photo provided by the seller I could see that the shank was cracked and would need to be addressed. The rim appeared to be very thickly covered with lava and the outer edge had been damaged and rounded.Lot5 The next photo shows the large crack that was present in the shank of the pipe. It had started to open and the edge of the shank where it met the stem had some nicks.lot8 When the box arrived the pipe was actually in worse shape than the photos had shown. The bowl rim was not all that was caked with tars. The bowl itself was almost 1/3 full of half burned tobacco, dottle that was rock hard and filled the bottom of the bowl. The cake on the rest of the bowl was not thick but was very hard. The finish was not only grey and spotty but was dented and rough to the touch. I could feel the ridge where the sides of the crack in the shank had separated. The rim edges were not only damaged and rounded but were also rough from banging out the burnt tobacco against something hard. The stem had tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem at the button. The button and slot were intact. The stem appeared to be as old as or older than I first thought. This was going to be a challenge to bring back to life but the age of it made it something I could not wait to tackle.Van5

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Van8 I took some close up photos of the state of the rim and cracked shank once the pipe arrived. It was a mess that is for sure. The rim and bowl were in bad shape and smelled awful. The shank crack was worse than I had imagined. The first photo of the cracked shank is from the top and the second photo is from the side.Van9

Van10 I looked up the Vanguard name in Who Made That Pipe and found that there were two makers. There was a French maker and an English maker. The French pipe was made by Marchal, Rouchon 1907 and the English one was made by A. Oppenheimer/Bernhardt & Meyers. Given that I cannot be definitive as to which maker crafted this pipe. But the interesting thing is that the Marchal & Rouchon Cie which later became GBD France came under control of Oppenheimer in Great Britain. So you can see that though I may not know which one ultimately made the pipe the fact is that the two brands came together in 1902 when Marchal & Rouchon Cie sold out to Oppenheimer. I now have in my collection a pipe which may well have bridged the union of the two companies. The Vanguard thus could easily bear both the French and the English stamping. The lack of a “Made in…” stamp may well signify the years that the companies joined. That in itself made cleaning up and restoring this old-timer interesting for me.

I decided to start the clean up by reaming back the cake and cleaning out the dottle from the bowl. I used a PipNet reamer and started with the smallest head and worked up to the one that fit the bowl. I took the cake back to bare wood to check for damage to the inside walls of the bowl. With a pipe this worn I find that this is extremely necessary. I do not want any surprises after I have cleaned it up.Van11

Van12 To repair the damaged shank I opened the crack as much as possible without making it worse and used a dental pick to push super glue into the crack. I pressed it together until it dried. I then used the sanding drum on the Dremel to take down the shank slightly so that a band would fit snugly on the shank and hold the crack tightly together. I pressed the band onto the end of the shank and took the picture below before I heated the band and pressed it into place.Van13 I heated the band with a heat gun and then pressed it against a flat surface until the band was in place on the shank. I pressed it onto the shank and then used a folded piece of sandpaper to clean up the edge of the band and shank. I left about 1/8th of an inch of the band extending past the shank to deal with the chipped and damage shank end. The stem would not have had a clean fit against the shank because of the damage. When the stem was in place it fit inside of the band against he shank and looked great.Van14

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Van16 With the band in place the shank was repaired and the tenon would no longer fit in the mortise. The contraction of the briar by the band cleaned up the crack and tightened up the loose fitting stem. I lightly sanded the tenon with a sanding drum on the Dremel and then by hand to get a snug fit in the shank.Van17

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Van21 I scrubbed the surface of the briar with acetone and cotton pads to remove the grime, spotting and remaining finish. There was some interesting grain under the grime.Van22

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Van25 The damaged rim surface and outer edge required that the bowl be topped. I used the topping board and 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damaged surface and sharpen the edge of the bowl.Van26

Van27 I scrubbed the surface of the bowl down again with acetone and cotton pads to remove the dust and grime from topping.Van28

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Van30 I cleaned the inside of the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I used the drill bit from the Kleen Reem pipe reamer to clean out the airway from the mortise to the bowl. When I was finished I swabbed out the bowl with cotton swabs and alcohol and was pleased to find that the rank smell was gone.Van31 I sanded the bowl and stem with 220 grit sandpaper and a medium and fine grit sanding sponge to remove the tooth marks on the stem and scratches in the briar. I steamed the dents in the briar with a knife blade and wet cloth.Van32

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Van35 I sanded the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each grit and then continued sanding until I had worked through the lot of pads.Van36

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Van38 I wiped the bowl down with a light coat of olive oil and then sanded it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads and then continued through the rest of the grits of pads. I continued to polish the bowl with the remaining grits of micromesh.Van39

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Van42 I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond polish on the wheel and then gave it several coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean flannel buff and then hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It came out well for a pipe that potentially was made 108 years ago. Thanks for looking.Van43

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