Tag Archives: repairing bite marks

New Life for a Dark “Malaga” Canadian


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe in the queue is yet another pipe from the batch of pipes I am cleaning up for Alex – this one is another “Malaga” –a Canadian it is a stained version of the pipe and has some interesting grain around the oil cured bowl and shank. The classic Canadian shape is carved to highlight the grain around the bowl. The pipe is stamped on the top side of the shank. It reads “MALAGA”. On the underside it is stamped IMPORTED BRIAR. The tapered stem is vulcanite and has no marking or stamping. It is a nice looking piece much like many of the pipes Alex is picking up. The bowl had a light cake in the chamber and the rim top and edges were in rough condition. There were dents and nicks and some darkening on the rim top. The outer edges had nicks and there was a chip in the back side of the bowl. The exterior of the briar was dusty with grime and dust. The stem has a lot of tooth marks and some very deep dents in the surface of the stem and button.. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of the pipe before clean up. I took a photo of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before I started my cleanup work. The bowl had a thin cake and the rim top significant damage to the top and edges of the bowl. The inner edge of the rim seemed to be slightly out of round and showed some burn damage. The outer edge had chips and dents and was rounded. The stem was a mess. There was some deep tooth marks on the stem and the button on both sides.I also took a photo of top side of the shank to show the stamping. The stamping is readable in the photo below and is as noted above – “MALAGA”. The stamping on the underside reads IMPORTED BRIAR very visible in the second photo below.For those of you who are unfamiliar with the brand, I am also including the link to a blog that I wrote that gives some of the history of the Malaga brand and the Malaga Pipe Shop in Royal Oak, Michigan in the USA. Here is the link – https://rebornpipes.com/tag/malaga-pipes/. That blog also includes links to a catalogue and the history of the pipemaker George Khoubesser. If you are interested to learn more then I invite you to follow the link to get a feel for the brand and the pipemaker.

The bowl had a thin cake so I reamed it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to get rid of remnants of cake. I finished by sanding the bowl with a dowel wrapped with 220 grit sandpaper until the inside of the bowl was smooth.I decided to address the damage to the rim top and edges first. I topped the bowl on a topping board using 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damaged portions of the rim surface.I filled in the damaged around rim and the bowl with clear super glue. The photos below show the extent of the damaged areas.When the repairs had cured I sanded the briar with a folded piece of 220 followed by 400 grit sandpaper. I used the sandpaper to blend the repairs into the surface of the briar and to smooth out the inner edge of the bowl at the same time.I scrubbed the bowl with a cotton pad and undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap. I rinsed the bowl under running water to wash off the soap and the grime that had been loosened. I cleaned up the inside of the shank and mortise with a dental spatula to remove the tar build up. I ran some cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol through the shank to remove the tars and oils. I also cleaned out the airway in the stem using pipe cleaners and alcohol. I polished the rim and the outside of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding debris. I started the process of matching the stain on the bowl to the repaired and sanded areas I had worked on. I used a Walnut and a Cherry stain to begin the match.I polished the bowl further, wet sanding it with 3200-4000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on a cotton pad to further blend the stain into the surrounding finish on the rest of the bowl and shank. I used Black stain pen to further blend the stain into the surface of the surrounding briar. I wiped it off with the alcohol dampened cotton pad. The photos below tell the story. I finished polishing the bowl and shank with 6000-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads and wiped the bowl and shank down after each pad with a damp cloth. The photos show the stain blend on the newly repaired areas. I am pretty happy with the results. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I buffed the bowl with a microfiber cloth to polish the briar. I took photos of the pipe at this point to show what it looked like. With the bowl finished I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the deep tooth marks and rebuilt the surface of the button with clear super glue. Once the repair had cured I used a needle file to smooth out the repairs to the surface of the vulcanite. I sanded the repairs on the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the repairs into the surface of the stem. I am happy with the stem surface once that was done. I started the polishing of the surface with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cloth after each pad. I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I wiped it down with a coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I put the pipe back together and polished both the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The oil cured finish and the grain came alive with the buffing. The grain really stands out against the dark finish providing a rich contrast. The finish on the briar works well with the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is a well-proportioned, nicely grained Canadian. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 3/4 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This Malaga Canadian will be going back to Alex to add to his rack of Malaga pipes that are in his collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on another of Alex’s Malaga collection.

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Breathing Life into a “Malaga” Carved Ball


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe in the queue is another pipe from the batch of pipes I am cleaning up for Alex – this one is another “Malaga” –a Ball or Apple with some interesting grain around the oil cured bowl and shank and some carved “feathers” around the bowl bottom. There is some beautiful grain around the bowl – almost a flame grain pattern. The pipe has not been stained but sports the usual Malaga oil cured look. The carver did a great job utilizing the block of briar to maximize the grain. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank. It reads “MALAGA”. The tapered stem is vulcanite and has no marking or stamping. This is the first Malaga Ball/Apple that I have worked on. It is a nice looking piece much like many of the pipes Alex is picking up. The bowl had a light cake in the chamber but the edges appeared to be in good condition. There was some lava on the rim top and some darkening on the rim top. The exterior of the briar and the carved areas were dusty with grime and dust. The stem is lightly oxidized and there was some tooth chatter on the top and underside near the button. The stem was in good condition under the grime. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of the pipe before clean up. I took a photo of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before I started my cleanup work. The bowl had a thin cake and the rim top had a lava overflow on the front and back side. The inner edge of the rim seemed to be undamaged but the lava made it hard to know for sure. The stem was in decent condition. There was some light pitting and deep oxidation on the stem. There was also some light tooth chatter on the top and underside of the stem at the button. I also took a photo of left side of the shank to show the stamping. The stamping is readable in the photo below and is as noted above – “MALAGA”.For those of you who are unfamiliar with the brand, I am also including the link to a blog that I wrote that gives some of the history of the Malaga brand and the Malaga Pipe Shop in Royal Oak, Michigan in the USA. Here is the link – https://rebornpipes.com/tag/malaga-pipes/. That blog also includes links to a catalogue and the history of the pipemaker George Khoubesser. If you are interested to learn more then I invite you to follow the link to get a feel for the brand and the pipemaker.

I reamed bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer using the third cutting head. I  took the cake back to bare briar so I could check out the walls of the chamber. I cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to get rid of remnants of cake. I finished by sanding the bowl with a dowel wrapped with 220 grit sandpaper until the inside of the bowl was smooth. I scrubbed the bowl with a cotton pad and undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap. I rinsed the bowl under running water to wash off the soap and the grime that had been loosened. I then turned to address the damage to the inner edge and top of the rim by carefully sanding it with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove the darkening to the rim top. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the inner edge of the bowl.I polished the rim and the outside of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad to remove the sanding debris. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I had forgotten to clean up the inside of the shank and mortise. So I went back to clean up the internals. I scraped the mortise with a dental spatula to remove the tar build up. I ran some cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol through the shank to remove the tars and oils. I also cleaned out the airway in the stem using pipe cleaners and alcohol. With the bowl finished I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and the tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. I am happy with the stem surface once that was done. I started the polishing of the surface with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cloth after each pad. I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I wiped it down with a coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I put the pipe back together and polished both the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The oil cured finish and the grain came alive with the buffing. The dark feather/leaf like carvings stand out dark against the grain providing a rich contrast. The rich finish on the briar works well with the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is a well-proportioned, nicely grained Apple. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This apple shaped Malaga with its unique carved surface is a new shape and carving design for me. The Apple/Ball will be going back to Alex to add to his rack of Malaga pipes that are in his collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on another of Alex’s Malaga collection.

Rebirthing another Schoenleber Hand Made – A 31 Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe in the queue is another pipe from the batch of pipes I am cleaning up for Alex – this one is another Schoenleber Hand Made – a ¼ Bent Bulldog with some beautiful grain around what appears to be an oil cured bowl and shank. The entire pipe has some beautiful mixed birdseye, cross and swirled grain around the bowl and shank. The pipe does not appear to have been stained but sports the same look as the Malaga pipes that I have been working on. The carver did a great job utilizing the block of briar to maximize the grain. The pipe is stamped on the top left side of the diamond shank. It reads Schoenleber over Hand Made. On the top right side of the shank it is stamped Imported Briar. On the right side next to the bowl/shank junction there is a number 31 which is either a shape number or size designation. The saddle stem is vulcanite and has no marking or stamping. This is another nice looking piece much like many of the pipes Alex is picking up. The bowl has been reamed and cleaned to all appearances. There some darkening on the rim top. The exterior of the briar was dirty with grime and dust. The stem deep tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of the pipe before clean up. I took a photo of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before I started my cleanup work. There was significant darkening on the top of the inwardly beveled rim at the back of the bowl. The bowl was quite clean. The outer edge of the bowl appeared to be in excellent condition. The stem was in decent condition. There was also some tooth chatter and two deep tooth marks on both sides of the stem near the button.I also took a photo of top, right side of the diamond shank to show the stamping. The stamping is readable in the photo below and is as noted above – Schoenleber Hand Made. On the opposite side it reads Imported Briar. There is also a 31 at the shank/bowl junction on the right side.I remember working on a Schoenleber pipe in the past and had a memory of the pipe being made for a shop in the New York area but could not remember much more than that. I quickly googled the brand to see what I could learn and found a link on Pipedia. Here is that link. I quote the article in full (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Schoenleber).

Louis Schoenleber lived in North Arlington N.J. and was an Austrian immigrant and skilled artisan in pipe making. His hand carved pipes were available in his shop, ‘Schoenleber’s Newark Pipe Shop’, at 26 Branford Pl., Newark NJ, thought to open in the 1920’s. Schoenleber’s carried a full line of tobaccos as well as related pipe smoking accessories. It’s thought the shop operated until the late 1960’s, and Louis Schoenleber died in 1976. It’s also fairly certain they may have sold to other brands such as Jelling, also in Newark and are very similar in design and finish.

There was also an advertising card on the site that I have included below. It speaks to my assumptions about the curing process and the finishing process on the pipe. It also connects the pipe to Schoenleber’s Newark Pipe Shop in Newark, N.J. It also has a comment on the fact that pipes were made to order.I started the restoration by working on the darkening to the rear bevel of the rim top rim by lightly sanding the top with 220 and 400 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove the darkening and maintain the patina on the pipe.The mortise and the airway in the shank were very clean and there was even bare uncoloured briar showing on the walls and the end of the mortise. No internal cleaning was necessary in this beautifully clean pipe. I turned to polishing the bowl and rim with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad to remove the sanding debris. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. With the bowl finished I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I painted the tooth marks in the stem with a Bic lighter to try to raise the deep marks. Once the stem had cooled I filled in the remaining tooth marks with clear super glue. Once the repairs cured, I filed the repaired areas with a needle file to blend them into the surface of the stem. The filing made the sanding a bit simpler as it took the excess material down to the surface. I sanded the filed stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the filing marks on both sides of the stem. I am happy with the stem surface once that was done. I started the polishing of the surface with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cloth after each pad. I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I wiped it down with a coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. With both parts of the pipe finished, I polished the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The rich oil cured finish and the grain came alive with the buffing. The finish on the briar works well with the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is a well-proportioned, nicely grained ¼ bent Bulldog. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This Schoenleber Hand Made Bulldog will be going back to Alex soon to join his growing collection of American made pipes. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on another of Alex’s pipes.

Restoring your own Peterson Pipe – Part 2


Blog by Steve Laug

I originally wrote this blog for the Peterson’s Pipe book that Mark Irwin and Gary Malmberg coauthored and just published. Parts of it have been included in the Peterson book but I am including it here so that it can be kept with the blogs of other pipes that I have restored. Part of the reason for rebornpipes is a repository for my learning of this restoration art. It is a beautiful pipe that I am enjoying today after my work on it. Thanks Mark for including it in the book. – Steve

The second Peterson pipe that is up for restoration is a Deluxe 11S. As I did with the first pipe, I detail Mark’s comments below in italics and follow that with my own observations once the pipe arrived on my work table. Before I begin any restoration or refurbishing of a pipe I take time to look it over and get an idea of what the work will entail. I do a thorough analysis of the pipe to determine both the time it will take to restore it and what challenges I will face in the process. This old Peterson came with some interesting challenges on the stem and very few on the bowl.

Preliminary Observations:
Pipe #2. An 11S System billiard from 1973, hand cut stem, really tired. Interesting stem and button problems—none too severe. The sterling band has been removed and reglued (old glue marks still plainly visible) slightly higher; band top bent down all around mortise to allow stem to appear closer to stummel—a bit of “retro” nostalgia, perhaps. Carbon build up on rim and in bowl commensurate with pipe’s age. Bowl dark from long use and little care.

Pipe #2.The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank Peterson’s Deluxe. On the right side it is stamped Made in the Republic of Ireland and the shape number 11S. The silver band is stamped Peterson’s over Dublin on the left side. Next to that is the stamp Sterling over Silver. On the underside it bears the three hallmarks, the last of which is a lower case “d” which dates the pipe as having been made in 1971 as opposed to the date of 1973 Mark noted above. A first pass over the pipe showed that the finish was in quite good shape. I was dirty and a thin coat of grime and oily dirt had dulled the finish of the bowl. The stain looked to be in excellent shape under the grime. There were no serious dents or scratches on the bowl or rim (Photos 1 – 2). As Mark noted the silver band had been removed and reglued. Not only the old glue marks showed that but also the spillage of over filled glue and the gap between the folded shank end of the silver and the briar inside the band. The gap accounted for the difference between the old glue and the new. In examining the band it appears to be beveled inward rather than bent inward to appear closer to the stummel. The band had also been put on incorrectly in terms of the alignment of the stamping. It was turned to the right about a 1/8 turn so that the Peterson’s stamp was not aligned as it was in the pictures that I looked at for comparison. The silver had one significant dent in it on the right top edge – a slight pucker outward on the side and inward on the top of the shank. I was also very tarnished, a blue black in colour making it hard to read the hallmarks. Moving to the rim I was pleased to see that it had been well cared for. The inner and the outer edge of the rim were both undamaged. The slight chamfer on the inner rim was also undamaged. The cake was broken and full of pits and holes. The back edge of the rim had a build up on it that was not too thick and would quite easily be remedied.

Photo 1 Left Side View

Photo 2 Right Side View

Removing the stem I could see a gap between the top of the shank and the folded top edge of the silver band. It matched the distance between the bottom of the band and the glue line on the shank. That explained the gap. The band had been reglued higher on the shank, possibly to accomplish what Mark noted above – to bring the stem closer to the shank. The interior of the mortise and the sump was actually pretty clean. There was no grime or tarry buildup in the shank or sump. I was quite surprised. It looked as if it had been recently cleaned. The bowl smelled of latakia and strong English tobacco (Photo 3 – 4). The stem itself was good at the insert end. The screw in plastic tip that is on the Deluxe Peterson pipes was in place and in good shape. There was one flattened spot on it but it easily unscrewed from the tenon. The top side and underside of the stem near the button were dented with tooth marks. The ones on the underside were quite shallow. On the top surface there were 6 dents and several were quite deep, several actually had broken the surface of the vulcanite rather than denting it. The 90 degree top edge of the button had been flattened by tooth marks. There was a large piece missing. It was no longer sharp and distinct. There were also several tooth marks cutting into the edges of the air hole in the button. The stem was not too badly oxidized and should clean up quite easily (Photo 5 – 6). The underside of the stem is stamped Hand Cut. The photos below highlight the areas of concern that would need to be addressed in a restoration/refurbishment.

Photo 3 Top view of the bowl and the metal cap/band

Photo 4 Bottom view showing the inner chamfering of the end of the band/cap

Photo 5 Top view of stem damage

Photo 6 Underside view of the stem

I began the restoration, as has become a natural rhythm, by cleaning the internals of the pipe. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer. It is pictured in Photo 7 as a T handle and 4 different cutting heads. I generally start with the smallest head or the one that fits most easily into the bowl. I am careful to hold the head straight up and down while I am working on the bowl as it is easy to misalign the reamer and cut the bowl out of round. I work from the smallest head that fits until I get to the one that takes the cake back until the briar is bare. When I am working on a pipe that I intend to keep for myself I like to remove the cake and start over. Photos 8 – 10 show the process of the reaming with the PipNet and the finished bowl after reaming.

Photo 7 Pip Net set and Peterson 11S before reaming

Photo 8 Peterson Bowl with #1 Pip Net head inserted

Photo 9 Peterson Bowl with #2 Pip Net head inserted

Photo 10 Peterson Bowl after reaming

Sometimes at this point I will clean the internals but the band bothered me so I decided to address that issue next. It was not only lifted about a 1/8 inch leaving a gap between the end of the shank and the end of the cap, it was also turned in such a way that the stamping was not aligned as it originally had been (Photos 11 – 12). The band was turned about a 1/8 turn to the right. I found photos of the 11S on the internet that showed the original position of the band and I wanted to bring this band back to match the position shown in the photos.  I heated the band with my heat gun to soften the glue so that I could turn the band to the correct position and also press it back into place on the end of the shank (Photos 13 – 17). Eventually I wanted to flatten he beveled edge of the band to make the surface flush once again but would do that a little later in the process.

Photo 11 Gap between end cap/band and the end of the shank

Photo 12 Heating the band to adjust and reset it

Photo 13 Heating the band

Photo 14 pressing the band into place

Photo 15 Adjusting the stamping on the band – putting it in place

Photo 16 The gap is closed

Photo 17 End view of the closed gap

I decided to clean up the band with silver polish and remove the tarnish from the surface. All of this was preparatory for the work I would do later to flatten the end of the band against the shank. In order to do that correctly I needed to clean off any of the build up so that as I flattened the band it would not have ripples or added dents in the surface (Photos 18 – 21). I use Hagerty Tarnish Preventive and Silver Polish to clean up a band as badly tarnished as this one. The jeweler’s cloth is far more labour intensive and this polish really cuts the tarnish and raises a shine. I apply it with a finer and rub it into the surface and then scrub it off with a cotton pad. Once I have removed the tarnish I finish by wiping down the band with the jeweler’s cloth.

Photo 18 Polishing the silver

Photo 19 Polishing the silver

Photo 20 Polishing the silver

Photo 21 Polishing the silver

To clean up the exterior of the bowl I use Everclear on a cotton pad. I wetted the pad with Everclear and wiped down the exterior of the bowl to remove the grime and build up. I have found that the alcohol removes the grit and grime as well as the wax that has been used on the bowl but does not damage the stain like an acetone wipe would. For the rim I scrubbed it down with the Everclear and then used a fine grit sanding sponge to loosen the hard tars that remained. I scrubbed, sanded and scrubbed until the rim was smooth and clean. This scrub down gives a clean surface to work with when doing the repair on the band (Photos 22 –27). When I had finished the cleaning both the bowl and the band the dents in the band were very visible and I knew clearly what I was working with in the upcoming repair.

Photo 22 Wiping down the rim with Everclear

Photo 23 Wiping down the rim with Everclear

Photo 24 Bowl after cleaning with Everclear

Photo 25 Bowl after cleaning with Everclear

Photo 26 Rim after cleaning with Everclear

Photo 27 Rim after cleaning with Everclear

I then cleaned out the shank and sump area to remove the tars and oils. I wanted to do this prior to heating the end of the band/cap with the heat gun. I have found that if I do not clean it prior to heating the oils and tars melt with the heat and make a huge mess of the work area. I used Everclear and cotton swabs to clean the shank and sump. It generally takes many swabs before the shank is clean (Photos 28 – 29).

Photo 28 Cleaning the shank and reservoir prior to heating

Photo 29 Shank and reservoir cleaned and ready

I took the pipe bowl to my heat gun and held the bowl shank down over the heat source. At this point I wanted to both soften the glue a second time and also soften the silver in order to be able to press it flat (Photo 30). I held it in position as long as I was able, took a break to cool the fingers and then did it a second and third time. I wanted silver very pliable. Once it was heated I pressed hard against a steel plate that I use for pressure fitting bands into place (Photo 31). I repeated the heating and the pressing until the end of the band was once again flat against the end of the shank. Photos 32 and 33 show the end of the band/cap after pressing it flat the first time.

Photo 30 Heating the end of the cap

Photo 31 pressing the cap on a steel plate to flatten it

Photo 32 After pressing it flat the first time

Photo 33 End view after pressing it flat

I then sanded the band surface with micromesh sanding pads. I started with 1800 grit and then polished the end with each successive grit of micromesh from 2400-12,000 (Photos 34 – 35). By the end of the sanding and polishing process the surface of the band is flat and relatively smooth. I was able to remove many of the dents with the repeated heating and pressing against the steel surface. In Photo 35 you can still see the few remaining dents that I was not able to remove. The overall look is greatly improved and with the stem in place the pipe looks as it supposed to in terms of the gap between the end cap and the stem.

Photo 34 Polishing the silver end cap with micromesh

Photo 35 End view after polishing

With the work on the bowl finished to this point, I gave the silver band a quick polish with the jeweler’s cloth and rubbed down the bowl with some Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed it. I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. The condition of the stem would make it necessary to use several of the tricks I have learned over the years to deal with dents, tooth marks and bite marks. Dents are always relatively easy and can be dealt with by heating the stem surface with either a Bic lighter or a heat gun to lift the vulcanite back into place. Vulcanite has memory so heat causes the surface to expand back to fill the dents and some of the shallow tooth marks. Bite marks are another problem all together. The surface of the stem has actually been cut and no amount of heat will lift the surface. A different method needs to be used to repair this kind of damage. This stem had both problems (Photos 36 – 37). There were also some divots or missing parts of vulcanite on the top edge of the button and around the opening into the airway on the button. This would need to be addressed in a different way.

Photo 36 View of the tooth mark on the underside of the stem

Photo 37 View of the tooth damage on the top side of the stem

I heated the top and underside of the stem with a Bic lighter. The key in this process is moving the flame of the lighter quickly across the surface of the vulcanite. Never leave it in one place as it will burn the vulcanite and cause more damage. Move the flame across the surface until it is heated. The lesser damaged areas will lift with this kind of heat very easily and then will need to be lightly sanded to remove the damage (Photos 38 – 39). A heat gun will be used to lift the larger dents.

Photo 38 Tooth marks after heating with a Bic lighter to lift the dents

Photo 39 Underside of the stem after heating with a Bic lighter to lift the dents

I followed up the heating with the lighter by sanding the surface of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. Sanding has a dual purpose – it removes the signs of the small dents and at the same time highlights the areas that will need to be addressed with other methods. Photo 40 shows the top of the stem after sanding. There are three large spots that are actually both dents and cuts in the surface. The divot on the button is also very clear in this photo. Photo 41 shows the underside of the stem and the two remaining shallow dents that more heat will lift and remove.

Photo 40 Tooth marks after sanding with 220 grit sandpaper

Photo 41 Tooth marks on the underside of the stem after sanding with 220 grit sandpaper

To further work on the tooth marks I took the stem to the heat gun. I held the stem surface1-2 inches above the tip of the gun (Photo 42). Again the idea is to keep the stem moving over the heat. If it is held still in one place too long the vulcanite burns and the damage that occurs is worse than the dents. The heat lifted the remaining small dents on the underside of the stem and they were invisible after sanding. The dents on the top of the stem lifted considerably but not totally. The smaller ones only needed a little sanding to disappear. The large cut area I filled in with black super glue. I used black super glue to also build up the divot area on the button and the deeper dents and divots around the airhole (Photos 43 – 44). Once the glue was in place I set the stem aside in an upright position so that the super glue would dry and not run off the surface. Drying generally takes 6-8 hours to dry to touch. Once it is dry to touch I sand the excess away and add a second coat in the places that need more building up (Photos 45 – 46). Photo 47 shows the side profile of the button after the superglue has dried and the surface has been sanded.

Photo 42 Heating the dents with a heat gun

Photo 43 Building up the divot on the button with black superglue

Photo 44 Black super glue build up on the button

Photo 45 Super glue cleaned up with sand paper. Second coat applied to the divot area

Photo 46 second coat of superglue on the divot on the button

Photo 47 Stem profile after building up with black super glue

After I have reshaped the button and repaired the divots and cut areas on the stem it was time to sand the whole stem with the micromesh sanding pads. The sanding process blends in the repaired areas with the rest of the stem surface. I started sanding the stem with 1500 grit micromesh and worked on the edges of the button on the top side and also the ridge on the underside. I wanted these sharp edges to be clearly defined so I spent extra time with the coarser grit in order to sharpen these edges (Photos 48 – 49). I sanded with 1800 grit micromesh and further defined the edges and blended the patches into the stem surface (Photos 50 – 51).

Photo 48 Superglue repair after sanding with 220 grit sandpaper and 1500 grit micromesh. Tooth marks are also gone

Photo 49 the underside of the stem – sans tooth marks

Photo 50 – sanding the top of the stem with 1800 grit micromesh

Photo 51 sanding the underside of the stem with 1800 grit micromesh

The next series of photos (Photos 52 – 58) shows the progressive shine that the micromesh sanding pads bring to the surface of the vulcanite. Each of the successive grits of micromesh gives a deeper polish and a higher sheen. It always is amazing to me to see the difference in shine between the last four grits – 4000, 6000, 8000 and 12,000. Each one takes the shine to another level. When the sanding is completed all that remains is to buff the stem with White Diamond on the buffing wheel and then give it multiple coats of wax to protect the shine and prevent oxidation.

Photo 52 Sanding with 3200 and 3600 grit micromesh

Photo 53 sanding with 3200 and 3600 grit micromesh

Photo 54 sanding with 4000 and 6000 grit micromesh

Photo 55 sanding with 4000 and 6000 grit micromesh

Photo 56 sanding with 8000 and 12,000 grit micromesh

Photo 57 sanding with 8000 and 12,000 grit micromesh

Photo 58 End view of the button after sanding

I rubbed down the pipe with the Conservationist’s Wax and set it aside to dry for a few moments while I cleaned up the sanding pads. Once it was dry I hand buffed it with a soft cotton cloth to give it an initial shine and to highlight any areas that had scratches that I needed to sand some more before buffing it on the buffer (Photo 59).

Photo 59 Coated with Conservationist’s Wax

After hand buffing, I took the pipe to the buffing wheel and buffed it with White Diamond. The next series of photos shows the pipe after buffing with White Diamond (Photos 60 –65).

Photo 60 right side after buffing with White Diamond

Photo 61 left side after buffing with White Diamond

Photo 62 top view after buffing with White Diamond. Note how the patch on the stem surface is blended into the shine

Photo 63 bottom view after buffing with White Diamond

Photo 64 pipe in pieces after buffing with White Diamond

Photo 65 pipe in pieces after buffing with White Diamond

The next five photos show the finished pipe after several coats of carnauba wax and a buff with a clean flannel buffing pad on the buffer. The stem looks new and the shine is deep and rich. The silver has a warm glow and the briar is clean and fresh looking. The top of the band on the shank is smooth with just a few small dents that could not be removed. The rim has been cleaned and restored. It is polished but it is not flawless, it does show its age but it shows it well.

Photo 66 The finished view of the left side of the pipe

Photo 67 The finished view of the right side of the pipe

Photo 68 Bottom side view of the finished pipe. The stem is undented and looks new

Photo 69 Top side view of the finished pipe

Photo 70 Another top side view of the finished pipe

Doing Some Cosmetic Work on a National Pipes Rhodesian


Blog by Steve Laug

Rather than repeat myself and give the blog readers grief with the repetition please refer to the previous blog posts on the Bertrams to learn about how my brother and I picked up this pipe collection. Just know that we have a collection of Bertrams and a smattering of other brands that when they were unwrapped filled three boxes. The photo below is included to show the size of the collection we had purchased. To be honest it was a bit overwhelming to see all of the collection in boxes. We were looking at a lot of work to bring these back to life.I cannot tell you how glad I am that Jeff is working through the clean up on this lot as they are really quite dirty and there are so many! It would be a more daunting task than it already is if I had to clean and restore all of them. I am leaving it to him to choose which pipes to work on. He has chosen some interesting shaped ones to restore. Here is how we are working out the transfer from him to me. As he finishes a batch of them he boxes them up and sends them to me. I have received two boxes so far. From the first box he sent, I chose a beautifully shaped and grained Rhodesian that is stamped National over Washington D.C. to be the next pipe that I would work on. This pipe was another very dirty one! The smooth finish was grimy and dusty but some interesting grain shone through showing me that this was a beautiful pipe. There were a few rough fills and nicks on the right and left backside of the bowl. It was a large thick shank bent Rhodesian shaped pipe with a saddle stem. There was a thick cake in the bowl and some lava overflowing on to the rim top. The condition of the edges appeared to be pretty good but reaming would give an definitive clue on that. There was one small flaw on the smooth rim top on the rear right side that would need attention. The stem was dirty and showed some light oxidation but there were not any deep tooth marks. There were some flaws on the sides of the saddle stem that needed to be addressed. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of the pipe.  Jeff took close-up photos of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe when it arrived. The rim top had a thick coat of lava and the bowl had a thick cake.Jeff took pictures of the bowl sides and the heel to show the marvelous grain on the bowl. It really is quite stunning and very dirty!The next three photos show the stamping on the sides of the bowl. The left side is stamped with the shape number 35 followed by National over Washington, D.C. The right side is stamped Imported Briar. The second photo also shows a deep flaw in the surface of the briar. Jeff did not take photos of the stem to show its condition. By and large it was in good condition with some manufacturing flaws on both sides of the stem where the saddle met the blade of the stem. Before I started my restoration work I wanted to refresh my memory about the brand. I remembered from previous National Pipes that I had worked on that there was a tie to the Bertram Pipe Company in Washington, D.C. I also knew that it was a very different company than the National Briar Pipe Company of Jersey City, New Jersey but that is where all the trails let in terms of Pipedia and Pipephil’s site. I turned back to a previous blog that I had written on the brand when I restored a pipe with the same stampings to review the history and connection of the brand to Bertram. https://rebornpipes.com/tag/national-washington-d-c-pipes/. I knew that the fact that there were several of these included with the large lot of Bertram pipes that Jeff and I purchased was not accidental. Here is the link to that previous blog. I quote in part:

I had a gut feeling that the pipe had some connection to Bertram Pipe Company of Washington DC but only the vaguest memory of that connection. I could not remember where I picked that up but just had the memory. I did some searching on the Internet and found a National Briar Pipe Company of Jersey City, New Jersey with no clear ties to Washington DC on the Pipedia site. This was the company that purchased the Doodler after Tracy Mincer died. I could see that the Jersey City pipes were stamped differently and all had line names stamped on them. On the Pipephil site I found an English version that had very different stamping on the left side of the shank as well as Made in England on the right side of the shank.

Thus I was reminded of the non-connection to the New Jersey Pipe Company. The blog went on to record some information that tied the National Washington, D.C. company to Bertram more definitively. I quote

I…posted a question on Smokers Forum (SF) and Pipe Smokers Unlimited regarding the brand. I received several responses that gave me information. One of them on SF came from Ed Klang and provided me with some confirmation regarding my memory of the connection with Bertram. I quote him in full, “In the history of the Bertram company, after the fire at the Washington, D.C. facility and the decision was made to discontinue Bertram production a group of employees and a few investors wanted to buy the rights to the Bertram name, which was turned down and it was then proposed that they would rebrand the pipes as National, no mention was made whether anything ever came of that proposal. Supposedly this group did produce pipes for a while but the effort was finally abandoned and I have never been able to reliably confirm this. Just bits and pieces here and there.” Thanks Ed. This is the random memory that I was trying to dig up.

I also received a reply on SF from Radiobob that read as follows: “National Pipe and Tobacco was located on the 1700 block of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., just about a block from where I worked. I still have two Canadians that I bought there, as well as a Comoy’s Patina Apple. In my recollection, it closed down–much to my regret–in the mid to late 1980s.”

Those responses gave me the kind of details that I always find helpful in my restoration work. I will continue to do some digging on the company and see what I can find but that bit confirmed the visual tie to the Bertram Company of DC. Thank you for your help Ed and Bob.

Once more I had the confirmation I needed to link the two brands – Bertrams and National! On with the cleanup and restoration on this Rhodesian.

When I received the pipe Jeff had already reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He had scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He had scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He had rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove lava build up on the rim top and you could see the great condition of the bowl top and edges of the rim. There was still some darkening to the rim top toward the back of the bowl. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the condition of the bowl and rim after Jeff had cleaned up the grime and lava and in doing so revealed the flaw on the right side of the rim. I have circled it in red. Both the inner edge and the outer edge of the rim look good. The stem photos show that the oxidation is gone. The surface of the vulcanite looked very good. There were some casting marks on both sides of the stem where the blade flowed from the saddle.I also took a photo of the stamping on the left and right side of the shank showing how the stamping was laid out. I repaired the flaws on the sides and top of the bowl with clear super glue. I used a small drop of the clear glue to fill in the spots. You can see them in the photos below. There were two on the right side, one on the left near the shank/bowl junction and one on the rim top on the right side. Once the repairs cured I blended them into the surface of the surrounding briar with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. The photos below show the sanded repairs. I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding debris. After the final sanding pad I hand buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise a shine. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into finish of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Restoration Balm really makes the grain stands out beautifully. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. The first two photos show the damage to the stem sides – the casting marks on both sides of the stem. I have circled them in red to highlight the damaged areas that needed to be repaired. I filled in the damaged areas with clear super glue and set the stem aside until the repairs cured. I used a folded piece of 240 grit sandpaper to blend the tooth marks and chatter into the surface of the stem. Once the surface was smooth I sanded out the scratch marks and started the polishing of the stem with a folded piece of 400 grit sandpaper. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and gave it a final coat and set it aside to dry.  I put the stem and bowl back together and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I polished the briar and the minute scratches still in the vulcanite of the stem until there was a rich shine. This National is another Washington, D.C. pipe that has a classic bent Rhodesian shape with a natural finish that highlights some amazing grain on a proportionally well carved pipe. Once I buffed the pipe the briar came alive and the mixture of grain – straight, cross, flame and birdseye – popped with polishing. The black vulcanite stem had a rich glow. The finished pipe is a beautiful grained Rhodesian. Like the other pipes I have worked on from this lot this one fits well in the hand and sits right in the mouth. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as it was a pleasure to work on.

Restoring Another of Jennifer’s Dad’s Pipes – A Tinder Box Unique English Made


Once again time to get back to Jennifer’s Dad’s pipes. The next pipe on the worktable is from the estate of George Rex Leghorn. You may not have read about this estate before, so I will retell the story. I received an email from Jennifer who is a little older than my 64+ years about whether I would be interested in her Dad’s pipes. My brother Jeff and I have been picking up a few estates here and there, so I was interested. Here is the catch – she did not want to sell them to me but to give them to me to clean up, restore and resell. The only requirement she had was that we give a portion of the sales of the pipes to a charity serving women and children. We talked about the organization I work for that deals with trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and their children and she decided that would be a great way to carry on the charitable aspect of her Dad’s character. With some great conversation back and forth she sent the pipes to Jeff and he started the cleanup process on them. Once he had finished cleaning them all he sent them to me to do my work on them.

The next pipe I chose to work on from the lot was an interesting Calabash Shaped sandblast pipe stamped The Tinderbox Unique over Made in England pipe with a saddle stem. It has some beautiful mixed grain on the bowl sides and shank. It had a rich reddish brown stain but it was dirty and hard to see the colour well. The stem was badly oxidized with tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button. The button was in excellent condition. There was a thick cake in the bowl and it had overflowed with lava was dirty and tired looking. It had been sitting in boxes for a lot of years and it was time to move ahead with the restoration. Jennifer took photos of the pipes she was sending. I have included two she included from this pipe.When the box arrived from Jennifer, Jeff opened it and took photos of each pipe before he started his cleanup work on them. This petite looking Tinderbox Unique Calabash with a flat rim top appeared to be in good condition underneath the grime and oxidation on the bowl and stem. The finish looked intact under the grime. The bowl had a thick cake that had hardened with time. The lava overflow on the rim but it could very well have protected the rim from damage. We won’t know what is under it until Jeff had cleaned it off. The stem was worn looking with a lot of deep oxidation and scratches in the vulcanite on both surfaces. There was some tooth chatter and bite marks on both sides at the button. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the edges of the bowl. It was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. The third photo shows the lava flowing down the outside of the bowl leaving a thick dark ring around the outside of the bowl. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish – the grime and grit in the grooves of the sandblast. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank. The stamping was very readable. On the underside of the shank on a smooth panel it read The Tinder Box arched over Unique. Under that it was stamped Made in England. Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the scratching, oxidation and light tooth damage to the stem surface and slight wear to the edges of the button. When I looked on the Pipedia website there was a tie between Charatan and the Tinderbox Unique brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Charatan). It appears that the brand was carved by Charatan for Tinderbox. The pipe that I am working on is clearly a Charatan shape and the Made in England stamp is also a Charatan stamp.

Before I get on to cleaning up the pipe I thought I would once again include the tribute that Jennifer wrote to her Dad for the blog. She also sent some photos and an article that her Dad wrote for Jeff and me to be able to get a feel for him. I have included those below. Note in each of them that he is holding a pipe in his left hand. I asked her to also send me an email with a brief tribute to her Dad. Here is her tribute from an email to me.

Steve, I want to thank you again for accepting my dad’s pipes.  They were so much a part of my dad’s life that I could not simply discard them. But as his daughter, I was not about to take up smoking them either. *laughing* I think my dad would like knowing that they will bring pleasure to others.  I know that I do.

I’m not sure what to say about his pipes. I always remember Daddy smoking pipes and cigars.

First a bit about my dad. Though my father, George Rex Leghorn, was American (growing up in Alaska), he managed to join the Canadian Army at the beginning of WWII, but in doing so lost his American citizenship.  He was fortunate to meet a Canadian recruiting officer who told him the alphabet began with “A” and ended with “Zed” not “Zee”, and also told him to say that he was born in a specific town that had all its records destroyed in a fire.  When the US joined the war my dad, and thousands of other Americans who had made the same choice*(see the link below for the article), were given the opportunity to transfer to the US military, and regain their citizenship.

After WWII, my dad, earned his degree at the University of California Berkeley and became a metallurgist. There is even a bit about him on the internet.

He loved taking the family out for a drive, and he smoked his cigars on those trips. (As a child, those were troubling times for my stomach.)

I most remember my father relaxing in his favorite chair with a science fiction book in one hand and a pipe in the other… Sir Walter Raleigh being his favorite tobacco… and the pipes themselves remind me of him in that contented way.  If I interrupted his repose, he’d look up, with a smile on his face, to answer me.

It seemed he smoked his Briarwood pipes the most, though he had others.  At the time, it was only the Briarwood I knew by name because of its distinctive rough shaped bowl.  And it was the Anderson Free Hand Burl Briar, made in Israel, which I chose for his birthday one year, because I thought he might like that particular texture in his hand.

At least two of his pipes, he inherited from his son-in-law, Joe Marino, a retired medical laboratory researcher (my sister Lesley’s late husband)… the long stemmed Jarl (made in Denmark), and the large, white-bowled, Sherlock Holmes style pipe.  I believe Joe had others that went to my dad, but Lesley was only sure about those two.

The Buescher, corncob pipe my older sister Lesley bought for Daddy while on one of her travels around the States.

A note on the spelling of my sister’s name…

My dad met my mother, Regina, during WWII and they married in Omagh, Ireland.  My mother was English and in the military herself.  The English spelling of Lesley is feminine, and Leslie masculine, in the UK… just the opposite of here in the United States.  I guess my mom won out when it came to the spelling of the name.

I’ll send you photos of my dad soon, along with his WWII experience story.

Jennifer

*https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2013/10/22/the_americans_who_died_for_canada_in_wwii.html

Once again Jeff cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with mixed grain around the bowl and shank. There was still some darkening on the right side of the outer edge of the rim toward the back of the bowl (I have circled the spot in red in the second photo below). He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the carved blackened rim top and stem surface. I wanted to show what an amazing job Jeff did in the cleanup of the rim top. It looked almost flawless. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the light tooth marks and chatter in front of the button on both sides. I also took photos of the stamping on the pipe on the underside of the shank. It read as noted above.There was some rim top darkening that needed to be dealt with. I scrubbed it with a brass bristle wire brush to remove the darkening and some of the debris that was still in the grooves of the finish. It did not take too much to make it clean.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the sandblast finish of the bowl and the rim top with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I worked it deep into the finish with a horsehair shoe brush. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point. I am very happy with the results. I painted the surface of the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to raise the tooth marks in the surface of the stem on both sides. I was able to raise the ones on the underside more than the ones on the topside.  I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the tooth marks and chatter in and to remove some of the oxidation. I was able to remove much of the damage to the surface. What remained I filled in with clear super glue. I set the stem aside to let the repairs cure.  Once the glue had cured I sanded the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the vulcanite. I followed that by sanding with 400 grit sandpaper to start the polishing process.  I shaped the button and polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I finished by wiping it down with Obsidian Oil after each pad and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The multi coloured stained finish on this briar is quite beautiful and the shine on it makes the variations of colour really pop. The pipe polished up really well. The wax and the contrasting stain on the bowl made the grain just pop on the briar. The polished black vulcanite seemed to truly come alive with the buffing. The petite pipe feels great in my hand and when it warms with smoking I think it will be about perfect. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it from Jennifer. There should be a lot of life left in this Charatan made pipe. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This is one that will go on the rebornpipes online store shortly. If you want to carry on the pipe trust of George Leghorn let me know. Thank you Jennifer for trusting us with his pipes. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners, we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.

Restoring your own Petersons Pipes – Part 1


Mark Irwin sent me two pipes from the late Mike Leverette’s estate. He had been tasked with selling some of Mike’s pipes for his wife Jeanette. I asked him to pick out a pipe or pipes for restoration that covered the gamut of restoration issues for this article. Mark chose well – a reproduction 1910 Straight Bulldog and Deluxe 11S. He emailed me the descriptions of the pipes (Mark’s description of Pipe #1 is included in italics below and the description of Pipe #2 is in italics in Part 2 of this article) before I actually had the pipes in hand.

Pipe #1 –A Reproduction 1910 straight Bulldog (from the Antique Collection) that looks like it has either been left out in the sun or someone has attempted to remove the original stain. In addition, it has been poorly reamed, with what looks like a pocket knife. Stem and ferrule oxidation, no real dental damage to button.

When the pipes arrived I was excited to open the box and see them in person. It is my habit to spend time looking over a pipe very carefully before I start working on them. In this case I wanted to see the issues that Mark noted firsthand and to note others as well. I decided to work on the two pipes separately. I began with the little Reproduction 1910 Straight Bulldog.  I recorded my observations to give a clear idea of the work that needed to be done. They were as follows:

Photo 1 Bottom side of the pipe and stem

Pipe #1. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank Peterson’s over Dublin. On the right side it is stamped Made in Ireland. The stamp has classic Pre-Republic era stampings (the forked tail on the P and “Made in Ireland”). The silver ferrule/end cap is stamped K&P over three hallmarks, the last is a cursive capital “J” which dates the pipe as having been made in 1995. These are stamped above Peterson’s of Dublin on the left side and on the right side of the cap it is stamped 1910 which indicates the year this Bulldog shape first appeared in Peterson’s offer. A first pass over the pipe showed that the finish was as Mark had noted – very faded. The stain was virtually gone and the briar was a dull grey brown in colour. The silver was dented and tarnished; so much so that it was hard to read the hallmarks. The double ring around the bowl was packed with grit and grime as well as some older stain that had bunched up in balls in the grooves. Moving to the rim I could see what Mark had noted regarding the poor reaming. It was very roughly reamed and the nicks from the knife blade were many. This left the bowl out of round. The cake was hard and the surface of the rim had a build up on it that was also quite thick. Removing the stem I could see that the upper right edge of the mortise had a large crack/gap in it where a chunk of briar was missing. The mortise was tarry and dark. The chamber/sump region in the mortise was also quite full of tarry build up and grit. The stem itself was good at the insert end. There were no cracks or missing pieces, which I expected after the chip in the shank. The top side and underside of the stem were dented with tooth marks that had been worked on. The surface had deep scratches and pits in it from the previous work. It looked like the stem had been treated with bleach to deal with the oxidation which leaves the surface pitted. The top 90 degree edge of the button had a divot taken out of it. The hole in the top also was out of round with several small divots removed from the surface. On the underside of the button the ridge/shelf that goes across the bottom of the P-lip had a divot missing as well – a tooth dent that was very evident. The portion of the tenon that sat in the shank was dark and black while the rest of the stem was oxidized and had slight brown tints. The five photos below highlight the areas of concern that would need to be addressed in a restoration/refurbishment.

Photo 1 Bottom side of the pipe and stem

Photo 2 Right side view

Photo 3 Top view

Photo 4 Looking into the shank

Photo 5 Top view of the bowl and shank

After completing my observation of the pipe, I decided to begin the work by cleaning up the inside before dealing with the externals. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer – a T handle with four different sized cutting heads (Photo 6). I started with the smallest head and worked up to the size that fit the internals of the bowl (Photos 8 – 10). My objective was to take the cake out completely bringing the bowl back to briar so that I could reshape the inner edge of the rim and clean up the mess left by the knife reaming job.

Photo 6 PipNet Reamer set

Photo 7 Reaming with the second cutting head

Photo 8 Second Cutting head

Photo 9 Reaming with the third cutting head

Photo 10 Third cutting head

The finished bowl, after reaming with the various cutting heads, is shown in Photo 11 below. Once the cake was gone from the inside of the bowl I could clearly see what needed to be done to bring the bowl back into round and repair the damage to the inner rim. It was at this point I decided to top the bowl. Photo 12 below shows the process of setting up a piece of sandpaper on a hard, flat surface and sanding the bowl top by pressing it into the sandpaper and rotating it to slowly remove damaged briar from the top of the bowl. For this particular bowl I used 220 grit sandpaper. I did not want to leave deep scratches in the rim, but I wanted to smooth out the surface and remove the damaged material. Photo 13 shows the finished bowl top. I removed enough of the surface to get rid of the knife cut angles on the inner edge. Photos14 – 16 show how I sanded the inside edge of the rim using a folded piece of medium grit emery paper. The idea was to work on the inner edge and slowly and carefully bring it back to round and remove the remaining damage left by the knife. After the cleanup I used a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the remaining scratch marks left in the surface of the rim (Photo 17).

Photo 11 After reaming

Photo 12 Topping the bowl

Photo 13 Topped bowl

Photo 14 Smoothing the inner edge

Photo 15 Inner edge after smoothing

Photo 16 Close up of the inner edge

Photo 17 Sanding with a fine sanding sponge

With the bowl back in shape and the rim cleaned and sanded it was time to remove the remnants of the finish on the bowl. I wiped the bowl down with acetone on a soft cotton makeup removal pad (Photos 18 – 20). For the acetone I use fingernail polish remover. I have found that it removes the grit and oils that have ground into the bowl as well as the finish. I wiped the bowl down until I was satisfied that I had removed the finish. The best way to tell this is when the pads come back clean and fresh after wiping the bowl down.

Photo 18 Acetone and cotton pads

Photo 19 Acetone and cotton pads

Photo 20 The bowl and cotton pads after being wiped down

In Photo 21 below, the bowl is dry and clean. The finish is gone. At this point I used the drill bit in the handle of the KleenReem tool to clean out the airway in the shank and bowl. I find that this tool quickly removes the buildup in the airway and is the best way to minimize the number of pipe cleaners used to clean out the shank. I carefully twist the bit into the airway making sure not to twist it through the airway and into the other side of the bowl bottom (Photos 22 – 23).

Photo 21 Clean bowl with KleenReem Pipe Cleaner

Photo 22 Drill bit from the handle

Photo 23 Drill bit inserted into the airway

I cleaned out the double rings around the bowl using a dental pick. I wiped the bowl down with Everclear as I ran the dental pick in the grooves on the bowl. The amount of dried stain and grit that comes out of the rings makes me always take this step when I am cleaning a bulldog or Rhodesian shaped bowl (Photos 24 – 25).

Photo 24 Cleaning the rings

Photo 25 Rings cleaned

Now it was time to turn my attention to the internals of the shank – both the airway and the condensation chamber in the Peterson pipes. In the bents this is the area I call the sump. It collects a lot of tar and oils from the smoke that is drawn through it. It takes detailed work to remove all of the grime. In this case I used many pipe cleaners – both bristle and fluffy as well as cotton swabs to clean out the area. I folded the pipe cleaners in half to give me the area needed to clean out the walls of the shank. Photos 26 – 28 show the work and the resultant pile of cleaners. I cleaned out the area until the pipe cleaners came out clean and the pipe smelled clean.

Photo 26 Time to clean the shank

Photo 27 Folded and inserted

Photo 28 Many pipe cleaners later

For the silver ferrule/cap on the shank I used a jeweler’s cloth that I purchased at a local jewelry shop. It is impregnated with a cleaning solution that effectively removes the level of tarnish found on this cap. I wiped down the cap with the cloth repeatedly until the tarnish was gone and the silver gleamed. Photos 29 – 31 show the polished cap and the cleaned bowl.

Photo 29 Polished cap

Photo 30 Polished cap

Photo 31 Polished cap

With the bowl ready to restain, it was time to turn my attention to the stem. As mentioned above there were some dents and divots in the stem and button area. These would take some work. There are several different procedures that I used in addressing the issues in this stem. I always begin by sanding the area around the dents with 220 grit sandpaper to better assess the damaged areas. If the dents are merely dents then heat will lift them and the stem will return to its smooth surface. If however the dents have edges that are cut then no amount of heat will lift the areas and other methods will need to be employed. In this case the dents were indeed just dents and heat would lift those (Photos 32 – 33). The divots out of the top side of the button and the underside ridge were another matter. To reshape the 90 degree angle on the top side of the button I used a square needle file. I cleaned up the edge of the button and the place it met the surface of the stem (Photos 34 – 35). I used the same file on the bottom side of the button ridge/shelf as well. Again the idea was to clean up the edges and sharpen them the angles (Photo 36). These areas needed to be redefined in order to have the sharp and distinct edges that were originally there.

Photo 32 Topside after sanding

Photo 33 Bottom side after sanding

Photo 34 Reshaping the angles on the button topside

Photo 35 Angles reshaped with files

Photo 36 Reshaping the angles on the button bottom side

I used a Bic lighter to heat the stem surface. The key to this is to quickly move the flame across the surface of the dented areas. Do not leave it in one place too long as it will burn the vulcanite. Quickly passing it over the surface repeatedly and checking often I was able to lift the dents from both the topside and underside of the stem (Photos 37 – 39).

Photo 37 Using a Bic Lighter to lift the dents on the underside of the stem

Photo 39 Underside of the stem after heating

Photo 38 Using a Bic Lighter to lift the dents on the top side of the stem

I sanded the newly smoothed surface with a medium grit sanding sponge. When I finish heating a stem, whether I use a Bic lighter or a heat gun, I sand it to ensure that I have finished lifting the dents. It is easy to be fooled when removing it from the heat. If it needs a bit more heat after the sanding it is a simple task and best done before progressing to the next steps of sanding the stems (Photos 40-41).

Photo 40 Top side sanded with a sanding sponge

Photo 41 Underside sanded with a sanding sponge

To repair the missing chunk of briar from the inside of the shank I used some Weldbond wood glue and briar dust. It is water soluble until it dries and then is hard and impermeable. I cleaned the surface area of the shank and then put the glue in place. I moved it around the area, pressed briar dust into the glue and cleaned up the surrounding area with a dental pick (Photo 42). I set it aside to dry while I returned to the stem cleanup.

Photo 42 Shank repair

For several years now I have been using black superglue (cyanoacrylate) to repair divots from the button and stem areas. It is glue that has been used medically in the field by medics to repair tears in the skin so I believe it is safe. It dries very hard and shiny black and does not disintegrate with cleaning once it is cured. Once the stem is buffed and polished the repair is virtually invisible. On this pipe I needed to build up the divots on the edge of the button on the topside and the ridge on the underside. I purchased the black superglue from Stewart Macdonald, a supplier of repair products for musical instruments (http://www.stewmac.com/). It is slow drying so you may want to consider purchasing an accelerator product from them as well. I apply the glue to the areas I am repairing and set it aside overnight (Photos 43 – 45). It dries hard in about 6-8 hours and cures in just over twelve hours. I find that once it is dry to touch I can sand the surface and blend it into the stem.

Photo 43 Black Superglue on the ridge of the button

Photo 44 Black Superglue on the topside divot on the button

Photo 46 Superglue dried on the underside ridge

Photo 47 Glue dried on the topside

The next series of photos show the progressive sanding of the stem with 1500-12,000 grit micromesh sanding pads (Photos 48 – 59). These are also available through Steward Macdonald as well as other fine woodworking stores or can be ordered online.

Photo 48 Sanding the topside with 1500 grit micromesh

Photo 49 Sanding the underside with 1500 grit micromesh

Photo 50 Sanding the topside with 1800 grit micromesh

Photo 51 sanding the underside with 1800 grit micromesh

Photo 52 Sanding the topside with 2400 grit micromesh

Photo 53 Sanding the underside with 2400 grit micromesh

Photo 54 Sanding the topside with 3200 and 3600 grit micromesh

Photo 55 Sanding the underside with 3200 and 3600 grit micromesh

Photo 56 Sanding the topside with 4000 and 6000 grit micromesh

Photo 57 Sanding the underside with 4000 and 6000 grit micromesh

Photo 58 Sanding the topside with 8000 and 12,000 grit micromesh

Photo 59 Sanding the underside with 8000 and 12,000 grit micromesh

By this time the shank repair was dry. Photos 60 and 61 show the dried and finished repair. I used a small piece of folded 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repaired area.

Photo 60 Finished shank repair

Photo 61 Finished shank repair

I wanted to match the stain on the pipe to the original stain on this line of pipes so I researched the line on the internet and found the picture below (Photo 62) that gave me a good idea of what the stain colour should be. In studying the photo I could see both brown and red stains were used to bring out this colouration. For me this would be a two step staining process.

Photo 62 Correct stain colour

I started with a dark brown aniline stain. I have used Feibing’s Leather Dye for years as it is an aniline based stain and works very well. I thinned it 2:1 with Isopropyl alcohol to get the brown I wanted in the undercoat (2 parts stain to 1 part alcohol). I remove the stem for the staining and insert a dental pick in the shank for a handle to hold while I turn the bowl in my hands during the staining. I applied it to the bowl with a folded pipe cleaner. Once the bowl was covered with stain and while it is wet I light it on fire with a lighter. This is called flaming. It burns off the alcohol and sets the stain more deeply into the grain of the briar. Generally I start by staining the bottom of the pipe first as the stain runs toward the top naturally and then follow up with the side, back and front of the bowl. I stain the rim last and am careful to not get stain inside the bowl. I repeat the process of staining and flaming the bowl until I am happy with the coverage. Photos 63 – 66 show the bowl after it has been stained, flamed, and stained and flamed again.

Photo 63 Stained bowl topside view

Photo 64 Stained bowl right side

Photo 65 Stained bowl left side

Photo 66 Stained bowl underside

I hand buffed the newly stained pipe with a soft cotton terry cloth (old piece of bath towel) until the finish had a shine. I do this to check the coverage of the undercoat. I want to make sure that the coverage is even and that there are no heavy spots or weak spots before I give the pipe the next coat of stain (Photos 67-68).

Photo 67 Right side after hand buffing

Photo 68 Left side after hand buffing

I applied the second stain to the bowl. For this I used an oxblood coloured aniline paste stain. I don’t worry about getting it on the stem as it is thicker and does not run when applied. I start at the bottom of the bowl out of habit with this stain. I work my way around the bowl, making sure to get an even coverage of stain and finish the process by carefully staining the rim (Photos 69 – 70). Once it is applied I let it dry for about 3 minutes and then wipe it off with a soft cloth and cotton pads. I want the colour to stay in the briar but not be wet on the surface (Photos 71 – 73). Again I check for coverage to make sure I have an even colour over the entire bowl. I reapply stain to weak spots to blend them into the colour. I want an even stain coat on the entire bowl. I hand buffed the bowl a second time to check on the colour and compare it against the photograph that I had found online (Photos 74 – 77).

Photo 69 Oxblood stain applied

Photo 70 Oxblood stain applied

Photo 71 Right side after being wiped down

Photo 72 Leftside after being wiped down

Photo 73 Top side after being wiped down.

Photo 74 Right side after hand buffing

Photo 75 Leftside after hand buffing

Photo 76 Top side after hand buffing

Photo 77 Underside after hand buffing

While I liked the colour of the bowl I found that it was too dark to really match the photo colour. I wet a cotton pad with acetone and wiped the bowl down to reduce the opacity of the stain and lighten it slightly. I only wiped it down once and carefully covered the whole bowl in one detailed wipe down to keep the coverage even. The new colour look lighter and almost appears to be too light but I have learned that after I buff it and give it several coats of wax it will be a match.

Photo 78 Right side after being wiped down with acetone

Photo 79 Leftside after being wiped down with acetone

Photo 80 Underside after being wiped down with acetone

Photo 81 Topside after being wiped down with acetone

I took the bowl to the buffer and gave it a quick buff with White Diamond on the buffing wheel. It gave the bowl a good shine. I brought it back to my work table and applied a coat of Conservator’s Wax which is a microcrystalline wax and cleaner. I have found that this gives the bowl a deeper polish and shine. After that I generally take it to the buffing wheel and give it multiple coats of carnauba wax (Photos 82 – 83).

Photo 82 After buffing and waxing

Photo 83 After buffing and waxing

At this point in the process of refurbishing the work is just about finished. The cleanup and restoration work is done and all that remains is to apply the final coats of carnauba wax to polish and protect the “new” look of your pipe.

The final photos show the finished pipe. It has had several coats of carnauba wax and was buffed with a clean flannel buffing pad on the buffer. The shine is deep and rich. The stem looks new and the rich dark shine reflects light well.The tooth marks are gone and there is no sign of their earlier presence. The bowl is back in round and ready to load up and smoke.

Photo 84 Right side view of the finished pipe.

Photo 85 Left side view of the finished pipe

Photo 86 Bottom side view of the finished pipe

Photo 87 Top view of the finished pipe

Photo 88 Top view of the finished pipe