Tag Archives: repairing bite marks

Working on the First of Two Ropp Pipes – A Ropp Make S Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

It seems like just a few weeks ago I was contacted by an older gentleman about purchasing his pipe collection. He sent me the photos and I was amazed at what I saw. He had Dunhill pipes, BBB pipes, a Barling’s Make “Ye Olde Wood” Fossil, Orlik pipes, Barclay Rex Pipes, a couple of Meerschaums and a whole lot of other pipes. All I could say as I looked at the pipes was what a collection it was. We negotiated a deal and I think we both walked away quite happy with the exchange.

You have seen the work we have done on the Dunhills, Hardcastles, H. Simmons all briar billiard and BBB pipes from the lot but there are still more. The above photo shows the two Ropp pipes. I am working the smaller one first – the bent billiard.

I have worked on several Ropp pipes in the past but this one was unique in many ways that will become evident in the photos below. This pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads ROPP in an oval [over] MAKE and above the oval is an upper case ‘S. The stamping is clear and readable and there is no shape number evident. There is a silver plated band on the shank that is stamped the same was as the shank. It also has an EP in a Diamond (electroplated) and an E and an R each in a circle over three hallmarks. I spent time looking up hallmarks on French sites and was not able to clearly identify them as they were blurry.

Jeff took some photos of the Ropp Make S Bent Billiard before he worked his magic in cleaning up the pipe. It is a an interesting pipe with a lot of potential and what appears to be some great grain under the grime and debris of the years. Jeff took photos of the bowl, rim top to show the thickness of the cake in the bowl and the thick lava on the rim top. There were also large chips or nicks on the front of the bowl on the outer edge. He took photos of the top and underside of the vulcanite stem showing the oxidation, tooth marks,chatter and wear on the stem and button. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the briar. You can see the beautiful shape and the grain on the bowl even through the dirt and debris of many years. Jeff took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. You can see that it is clear and readable as noted above.I turned to Pipephil’s site to see what I could learn about the Ropp brand and particularly the Ropp Make S line that I was working on (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-ropp.html). I quote from the introduction to the brand on the site and include a screen capture of a poster that was on the site.

Brand created by Eugène-Léon Ropp (1830 – 1907) and continued throughout 3 generations. “GBA Synergie” run by Bernard Amiel (†2008) bought back Ropp in 1988 and owned it until 1991. The company was taken over by Cuty-Fort Entreprises (Chacom, Vuillard, Jean Lacroix…) in 1994.

I quote from the sidebar on the site below as it gives a good summary of information.

Brand created in 1910. The shop was situated on Maiden Lane. Three addresses now (2010): 75 Broad Street, 70 East 42nd Street, 570 Lexington Avenue. See also: André
I turned to Pipedia to try and place this pipe in the timeline of the brand and was able find some helpful information which I have included below (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Ropp). I quote the information below. Ropp is well known for its Cherrywood pipes which were patented in1869. Besides that Eugene Ropp also made beautiful briar pipes.

Eugène-Léon Ropp (1830 – 1907) had acquired a patent for a cherrywood pipe (wild cherry, lat.: Prunus avium) in 1869. In 1870 he established a workshop to manufacture such pipes in Büssingen (Bussang, Vosges mountains). Around 1893 the business moved into the former mill of Sicard (part of the community of Baume-les-Dames – Département Doubs, Upper Burgundy – from 1895 on).

The pipes were a big success in the export as well. Shortly before 1914 Ropp designated A. Frankau & Co. (BBB) in to be the exclusive distributor in the UK and it’s colonies.

Probably in 1917 a workshop in Saint-Claude in the Rue du Plan du Moulin 8 was acquired to start the fabrication of briar pipes. In 1923 a small building in the environment of Saint-Claude, serving as a workshop for polishing, was added.

Even though cherrywood pipes were the mainstay of Ropp until the company finally closed down in September 1991. The company was taken over by Cuty-Fort Entreprises (Chacom, Jeantet, Vuillard, Jean Lacroix…) in 1994.

I have included three photos from the site of a pipe that was stamped exactly like the one that I am working on. It is stamped with Ropp in an oval with Make stamped below that. Like the one that I am working it also has an S above and to the right of the oval logo. The silver band is stamped the same way. The stepped down tenon on the stem is the same. With the information from Pipedia I knew that I was working on an older pipe from the Eugene Ropp Workshop. It is a great piece of briar with chunky nicely made shape. The fellow we bought them from said that he had had this pipe for a very long time. I could not set a date for certain but my guess was early 30s or 40s like some of the earlier pipes. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

Jeff carefully cleaned the pipe. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and then cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals of the shank, stem and shank extension 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 lava on the rim top. The finish looks much better and has a deep richness in the colour that highlights grain of the briar. The rim top looked good with some darkening on the top and light damage to the inner edge of the bowl. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver I was amazed it looked so good. Here are some photos of what I saw.   I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. The inner edge of the rim was in rough condition, the outer edge was damaged on the front and the right side and the rim top had a lot of damage all around. I took close up photos of the stem to show the condition of the surface and button. I took a picture of the stamping on the underside of the shank and it was clear and readable as noted above.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the parts of the pipe. The metal tenon is in excellent condition and the threaded shank also looks very good.I started my work on the pipe by addressing the darkening on the rim top and the damage on the inner and outer edges of the bowl. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to work over the inner and outer edge to smooth out the damage and to remove the darkening on the rim top as well.Jeff sent a photo of a crack in the shank on the underside under the band. After he had cleaned it up it was hard to see clearly but it was still present. I decided to drill a small pin hole at the end of the crack. This was one of those cases where I was certain I had it pinned down and drilled a hole with a microdrill bit. Once would have been horrible but it took 4 tries to finally hit the hidden hairline crack! The two to the right of the photo hit the crack. The first was too low and the second nailed the end of it. The two on the left totally missed. Arggh…I finally got it. I filled in the small holes with CA glue and briar dust. Once the repairs cured I sanded the repair smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and wiped it off with a damp cloth. Other than the new freckles the shank is fixed! Sheesh I feel like a real amateur! I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. It really began to take on a shine. I stained the repairs on the bottom of the shank with an oak stain pen to blend them into the finish.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the bowl and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” it with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the tooth dents in the surface of the vulcanite. I was able to lift the majority of them. I filled in the remaining marks with clear CA glue. Once the repairs cured I used a file to flatten out the repairs and recut the sharp edge of the button. I sanded them smooth with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to blend them in the rest of the stem surface. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I used some Rub’n Buff Antique Gold to touch up the Ropp logo on the left side of the stem. The stamp was worn so though it is better it is not perfect.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. With the bowl and the stem finished I put the beautiful Eugene Ropp Make Bent Billiard back together and buffed it on the wheel using Blue Diamond to give it a shine. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. It really is a great looking sandblast. The dimensions of the pipe are – Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of this large pipe is 1.66 ounces /47 grams. This older Ropp Bent Billiard is another great find in this collection. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store soon. If you would like to add it to your collection let me know. This is another pipe that has the possibility of transporting the pipe man or woman back to a slower paced time in history where you can enjoy a respite. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

 

Refreshing a Dr. Grabow Sculptura Blasted Bulldog while Testing a New Deoxidizer Product


Blog by Dal Stanton

My friend and fellow pipe man restorer, Dave Shane (see: The Pipery.com) donated the pipe now on the worktable, the Dr. Grabow Sculptura, along with 12 other pipes.  Dave and I worked together several years ago in Ukraine.  Our paths met again in January of 2018 when I was in the US from Bulgaria and went to his home in the Atlanta area to catch up.  After much talk, some adult beverages and of course, sharing a few bowls together, Dave gifted me these pipes to benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria.  Some have already found their way to new stewards and the Dr. Grabow (in the picture on the far right) caught the attention of another friend and fellow pipe man, Todd.

Todd has already commissioned several pipes from The Pipe Steward and is an active contributor on several Facebook groups dedicated to pipe men and women and their pipes and tobaccos.  I became aware that Todd was an attorney specializing in international issues and especially China when he commissioned his first pipes in September of 2018 while I was still living in Bulgaria.  I had written to him asking for more patience to ‘bump him’ a bit in the queue so I could restore a special pipe commissioned by Chrystal, who was visiting us in Sofia from China. Chrystal had chosen a pipe to take back to China as a special gift for her grandfather (see: A Special Gift for Her Grandfather in the People’s Republic of China – A Sculpted Rose Billiard of Italy).  It was a special visit and write up where I was able to include great pictures of Chrystal with her grandfather and his new pipe that she had sent upon her return to the People’s Republic of China.

When Todd found out why he was being ‘bumped’ I then found out about his work and special focus and devotion to China as a country and culture.  Over time I have appreciated getting to know Todd more and we have made commitments to have bowls together when our paths ever get close enough!  I have restored some nice, collectable pipes for Todd and when he wrote me about commissioning the Dr. Grabow, along with a few other ‘low-end’ pipes, as he described them, I was intrigued.  Through our communications about commissioning the Dr. Grabow, I discovered that Todd and I share a similar view on the cost of a pipe not necessarily an accurate indicator of a better smoking experience.  Todd wrote:

I recently acquired a couple of Dr. Grabow and Kaywoodie and other older, “low-end” pipes in good condition from eBay and found the old briar to be very tasty.  As you may know, I try to reject the snobbery inherent in every aspect of so much of life; I enjoy a $10 Wrangler shirt from Walmart as much as a $100 shirt from Brooks Brothers, if not more; it fits and looks great, and that’s my major concern; the lower price is also a big help.  Snobbery is present in this hobby also.  Pipe making at $750.00 a pop is certainly good work if you can find it.  However, in my humble experience, there seems to be negligible equivalency between price and briar quality of smoking, unless of course, Covid19 has deadened my faculty of taste. Enough of my useless pontificating.  Please take a look at those six pipes and let me know your ideas. And please remember that your fine work is well appreciated by me and, I believe, many others in our hobby.

My response to Todd’s comments expressed my agreement:

Todd, I’m in total alignment with you about named pipes vs. basket pipes not being an indicator of how well a pipe smokes.  And I think you would agree, that so many ‘low end’ pipes are only ‘low end’ because they were on more of a conveyor line when they were manufactured.  Many of my restorations show that TLC with a no name throw away can produce an absolute treasure.

I know that there are many Dr. Grabow enthusiasts out there and to call a pipe a low-end pipe does not mean a ‘cheap’ pipe!  Sometimes of course, this IS the case, but my experience has shown that with a little help, pipes that do not cost an arm and leg can look like a million and smoke just as well as the more expensive pipes out there.  This is the first Dr. Grabow that I’ve worked on that is not upgrading an Omega – Dr. Grabow’s version of a system pipe.  Here are some pictures of the Dr. Grabow Sculptura Blasted Bulldog which whispered Todd’s name in the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection which he commissioned: The nomenclature is found in a smooth briar panel on the lower right panel of the Bulldog’s characteristic diamond shank.  Stamped there is, SCULPTURA [over] DR. GRABOW.  I could find no other markings.The classic Bulldog is a fun shape and always seems to rustle up images of a bulldog smoking a pipe – but not necessarily a Bulldog shape!  The blasted Sculptura looks like Grabow’s attempt at a value pipe and it’s not half bad.  The diamond shank nickel cap/extender is interesting giving this Bulldog more of an ‘elegant’ reach than the normal short, stubby reach of the classic Bulldog.  The blasted finish is not bad too and has somewhat of a ‘Dunhill’ hue going for it with the deeper reddish tones nuancing the dark finish.

Pipedia’s short comment about the Sculptura line of Dr. Grabow in the History Timeline article states that the line was introduced in 1967 and registered by HL&T in 1972 (See  Henry Leonard & Thomas Inc. for more information about company acquisitions when Linkman sold to HL&T in 1955 and operations were moved from Chicago to Greensboro, NC).  More specific information is uncovered in the Pipedia Dr. Grabow article focusing on the myriad of Grabow models, series and lines through the years:

SCULPTURA (c1967-69?) — Newest of the RJR special offer pipes. These were sandblasted in a “big” blast. The operator stood with his hands in heavy rubber gloves and blasted away grain. He could only do about 50 pieces an hour. Prior to this, most “sandblasted” pipes were tumbled in a contraption like a cement mixer using walnut shells as the media. Dr. Grabow really never got into that but waited until they could do it “right” using glass shot.

The Sculptura line was without shape numbers and was a Grabow line which was exclusively sand blasted pipes of various shapes.  We know from this article that Sculpturas were produced ‘properly’ using the processes pioneered by London’s Dunhill.  The Sculptura was considered a ‘newer’ line of pipes because they were introduced after the acquisition that moved the Grabow production from Chicago to North Carolina.  The history of the Dr. Grabow pipe name can be explored further at Pipedia’s main Dr. Grabow article (See: LINK) which is a good read describing the history.  I would be remiss if I didn’t refresh the memory of how the Dr. Grabow name started for a line of pipes and continues to be a much-loved pipe by many which can be evidenced in a quick look at The Dr. Grabow’s Collector’s Forum.   I repeat in its entirety a Pipedia article written by the grandson of the ‘original’ Dr. Grabow, entitled, The Legend of Dr. Grabow (Written October, 2005, by Paul W. Grabow, and courtesy of DrGrabow-pipe-info.com [now defunct]):

Dr. Grabow Pipes are named after Dr. Paul E. Grabow (my deceased Grandfather), a general-practitioner physician formerly with an office on the northeast corner of Fullerton and Halsted in Chicago. His youngest son was Mr. Milford P. Grabow (my Uncle) who passed away January, 2005 in Chicago. Dr. Grabow’s other son (my Father, deceased in 1979) was Dr. William S. Grabow, a dentist who practiced in Chicago and Evanston, IL.

Milford Grabow recently recounted details of the Dr. Grabow Pipe legend in a letter to me as follows:

“To start from the beginning, the old homestead was on 2348 Seminary Ave. (Chicago) before the De Paul University bought and tore down the whole area to expand the campus. Three doors north on 2400 Seminary Ave. (corner of Fullerton) was Brown’s Drug Store, one of the old fashion community Drug stores that was popular of that area and was owned by Brown the Druggist. It had the usual ice cream counter and wire chairs and tables to serve sodas and sundaes. My Father became fast friends with his fishing buddy the Druggist. Most every weeknight after dinner while Mom did the dishes, Pop would visit Mr. Brown in the back room of the store and they would have weighty discussions about world events, fishing, politics, sports, etc. while smoking their pipes. One block west on Fullerton on the corner of Racine was the large pipe factory owned by Mr. Linkman. Mr. Linkman, when he wasn’t too busy, would join the other two in their bull sessions and the three became fast friends.

It was during one of their nightly sessions that Mr. Linkman mentioned that he was coming out with a new pipe containing some innovated improvements and was looking for a name for it. He thought if it contained a Doctor’s name it would probably sell well so he asked my Father if he would mind if he could use the Dr. Grabow name as he liked the sound of it. My Father liked the idea and was flattered to have a pipe named after him. So Mr. Linkman used the Dr. Grabow name without any formal agreement but just a “friendly understanding.”

As a child in the 1940’s and 1950’s, I remember how Grandpa loved to smoke his Dr. Grabow pipes. The pipes were generously provided to him at no cost by Mr. Linkman, apparently part of the friendly understanding. Dr. Paul E. Grabow died of natural causes in 1965 at the ripe age of 97. He had a very rich and full life and I believe pipe smoking was good to him. Through the years I’ve enjoyed watching the growth of the Dr. Grabow Pipes and sharing Grandpa’s legend with the curious.

Anyone personally familiar with additional details of this legend is requested to forward input to the undersigned.

Paul W. Grabow

With a renewed appreciation for the Dr. Grabow name, I look more closely at the Blasted Sculptura Bulldog on the worktable which shows no major issues and which is why I’m calling it a ‘refresh’.  The chamber has little cake build up and the rim has grime.  What I see that is interesting is that the draft hole at the floor of the chamber looks to be a larger opening than usual. The blasted surface has had its share of nicks, cuts and dents.  Raw briar is visible here and there over the blasted surface.The nickel shank cap has a high gloss – like it was plated.  The surface is pitted, and small scratching is visible.  This should shine up nicely.The stem has significant and what I would call, deep oxidation.  The vulcanite surface is rough, and the bit has a few compressions that need addressing.  To see more clearly the oxidation, I’ve lightened the following pictures to reveal the dreaded, greenish murk of the oxidation.  Oxidation happens to rubber mostly when overly exposed to UV lighting – sunlight.  There is no way to totally protect a stem except to keep it in a UV free environment.  Saliva also encourages oxidation.As I begin the refreshing of this Dr. Grabow, I will start with the oxidation in the stem.  I’m using this write up to test a new product that I heard about on one of the Facebook groups where I post my work and converse with fellow pipe men.  In the process of restoring pipes, the issue of oxidation in vulcanite stems is always an issue and is one of the most time-consuming parts of the process of restoration.  Finding and using products that can naturally or chemically remove the oxidation is the holy grail that is sought.  When oxidation is removed like this, it reduces sanding, time spent and can guard the stem logos stamped into the stems.  The product that I’m trying for the first time comes from www.Briarville.com and is called, ‘Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover’.  The product that I have been using is Mark Hoover’s, ‘Before & After Deoxidizer’ (www.Lbpen.com) which has in my experience had mixed reviews.  What I have found with Mark’s product is that it does great with stems having minor oxidation.  However, stems with what I call ‘deep’ oxidation, seem always to need additional sanding and prep work to remove the oxidation even with use of the product.  In fairness to Mark’s Before & After Deoxidizer, in talking with pipe man, Chris from the Netherlands, who was part of the FB discussion about deoxidizer products, he shared with me that he just acquired an ‘extra strength’ version of the Before & After product that Chris said worked much better in his experience than the ‘normal’ strength.  I’ll need to reach out to Mark to find out about this!

When I decided to order the Briarville Deoxidizer product, I had already started working on the Dr. Grabow stem using Before & After Deoxidizer.  I followed the same process steps as I normally do by starting with cleaning the airway.Knowing that the oxidation is deep, I employ 0000 grade steel wool with Soft Scrub to begin the process of breaking down the oxidation.  I do this to give a ‘head start’ on the oxidation removal before putting it through the Before & After Deoxidizer paces.After thoroughly rinsing the stem, the Grabow stem is added to the Before & After Deoxidizer along with two other pipes’ stems which have already been claimed by other stewards.After allowing the stems to soak through the night, the Dr. Grabow stem is drained of the Deoxidizer fluid.  I squeegee with my fingers and using pipe cleaners and alcohol clear the liquid from the airway.I discover that the nickel stinger thankfully, can be removed from the nickel tenon.  The vulcanite is wiped down with cotton pads wetted with alcohol to remove raised oxidation.  Following this, to start conditioning the stem, paraffin oil is applied to the vulcanite stem. The results:  After the entire process using steel wool and Soft Scrub, soaking 24 hours in the Before & After Deoxidizer, the lightened pictures detect what I can see with the naked eye – the oxidation has been mitigated some, but continues to be visible predominantly around the saddle stem. block and in the bit area.  Ugh! The Briarville Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover arrived from Briarville in Florida and the only directions were on the front label stating, “Soak Stem for 2 to 24 hours as needed for oxidation removal.”  When I opened the bottle for the first time, on impulse I decided to smell the contents to see if I could discover through olfactory investigation clues to the secret mixture which was billed to add to my pipe restoration happiness.  Mark Hoover’s Before & After secrets are only described as being fully organic – made with natural ingredients.  As I sniffed Briarville’s Deoxidizer, the first thing that struck me was that it smelled like the side-chair mouth rinse my dentist provides to remove the debris of his work.  It was interesting too, that pipe man, Chris, in the Netherlands said later when texting with him, that his first impression of the product when he gave it a whiff, was that it reminded him of Listerine!  Two similar responses to the question of the secret ingredients of Briarville’s mixture.  Chris said he would test this hypothesis of mouthwash by soaking stems in Listerine to see if the results were similar.  He said he would let me know how it turned out.I decide to put the Dr. Grabow through the paces again using the Briarville Oxidation Remover even though it had been through the Before & After process.  The bottle is shaped nicely so that most stems will fit in the bottle and be covered with the solution.  The Dr. Grabow goes into the solution and I decide to give it the maximum exposure from the outset – 24 hours.  As I do with Before & After, I add two additional stems of pipes that are in the queue after cleaning their airways alone, to join the 24-hour experiment.  I decided not to ‘prep’ the stems by scrubbing with steel wool and Soft Scrub. I considered one of the two stems as having deep oxidation.  The pristine yellow color of the fluid changed gradually during the oxidation removal process.After 24 hours, the stems were removed from the Briarville Oxidation Remover including the Dr. Grabow stem.  First, using a dry cotton pad, the stem is wiped to remove raised oxidation from the stem.  A distinctive brown color is left on the pad.  Following the initial wipe with a dry pad, the stem is additionally wiped with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean thoroughly. Afterwards, as I did with the Before & After evaluation, I lighten the photo to show what I also am not now seeing with my eye – residual oxidation.  I’m not seeing the oxidation compared with the second ‘before’ picture – where the oxidation was still presenting after the Before & After Deoxidation process. As usual, I then treat the stem with paraffin oil to further condition the vulcanite and put the stem aside.I know this testing is not scientific and it could be reasoned that the more positive result with the Grabow stem with the Briarville product could have been made possible because it first had been through the Before & After process.  This is true and this method of testing is experiential and open to subjective results.  However, the other stems had similar results even though they received no prep or did they first go through the Before & After process.  The set of three pictures of each stem includes in this order: 1) Enhanced picture before treatment, 2) After treatment showing the cotton pad results, and 3) After applying paraffin oil with enhanced picture to show latent oxidation.  First, the St. Regis DeLuxe stem.Next, the stem of the Bennington Supreme:Based upon these results, I have found no reason not to continue testing and using Briarville.com’s Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover and see how it goes in the long run. Generally, I’m seeing positive results where oxidation seems significantly reduced.  Again, this was not a scientific test but my desire to see how different products work!   The cost of the 8 oz. bottle was $26.98, which included mailing to Colorado.

Turning now to the stummel, the chamber has a light cake – it appears as though it had recently been reamed but I start again with a clean slate.  The chamber is reamed with the Pipnet Reaming Kit using 2 smaller of the 4 blades available.  This is followed by scraping the walls of the chamber with the Savinelli Fitsall Tool.  Finally, the chamber is sanded with 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.After wiping the bowl, the inspection shows a healthy chamber with no heating problems.Transitioning to the external blasted surface, the stummel is scrubbed with a cotton pad and undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap.  A bristled toothbrush is also used to scrub the surface, the dual dome grooves, and the rim.The stummel then goes to the sink with warm to hottish water and the internal mortise is scrubbed with shank brushes using liquid anti-oil dishwashing soap.  After the stummel is scrubbed and thoroughly rinsed, it goes back to the worktable to continue the cleaning process.The internals are fine cleaned next using cotton buds and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 99%.  A small dental spoon is also helpful in scraping and excavating old oil and tar buildup on the mortise wall. After some effort, the buds emerge lighter and I stop the cleaning for now. I plan later to give the stummel a kosher salt and alcohol soak to continue to freshen the internals for a new steward.With the surface cleaning completed, an inspection shows what I saw earlier.  The finish is old and worn.  There are lightened spots showing bare briar.  The rim cleaned up nicely. It doesn’t take much consideration to give the nicely blasted Grabow Bulldog a fresh finish.  To clean the surface further, a cotton pad wetted with alcohol wipes the surface and reveals what I mentioned earlier.  The dark finish has a reddish tone which is reminiscent of the Dunhill branded color that my good friend and pipe man in India, Paresh, has almost perfected in his restorations of Dunhill pipes and shared in his blogs on rebornpipes.  This Dr. Grabow will get a dark undercoat of dark brown with just a touch of black dye added. I add the black to deepen the hue a bit.  Over this primary undercoat, a red dye will be washed.  With the components needed assembled on the worktable, after wrapping the nickel shank cap with painter’s tape, I begin by heating the stummel with the hot air gun.  The warming of the briar expands it and helps it to be more receptive to the dyes.  Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye is used and with it is mixed only a drop of Fiebing’s Black.  With a cork in the chamber to act as a handle and stand, the dye mixture is applied with a folded pipe cleaner.  After application of the dye over a small patch of the briar surface, the aniline dye is flamed with a lit candle.  The alcohol combusts in the dye burning off leaving behind in the grain the dye pigment.  After thoroughly applying the dye and flaming it, the stummel is set aside to allow the newly dyed stummel to rest letting the dye settle.Next, the stem needs some attention.  The bit has some roughness and tooth chatter.  The upper button lip has a significant compression which I’m hopeful of minimizing.  To minimize or remove the biting damage to the bit the heating method is used.  Using a Bic lighter, the bit is painted with the flame back and forth. As the flame heats the vulcanite, physics takes over and the rubber expands recapturing its former shape – at least partially.  I take before pictures and the after-heating process. The large compression on the upper button is still there but I’m hopeful that sanding alone will take care of it. Next, a flat needle file is used to refresh the button lips to improve the bite hang. The filing is followed by sanding with 240 grade sanding paper focusing first on smoothing the compressions in the bit and button and then expanded to include the entire stem.  A plastic disk is used on the tenon side of the stem to prevent shouldering – keeping the edges crisp forming of the shank union. Next, moving to less abrasive sanding, wet sanding with 600 grade paper is followed by applying 0000 grade steel wool.Following the steel wool, the full regimen of micromesh pads is used starting with wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400.  This is followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads, Obsidian Oil is applied to condition the vulcanite and to guard against oxidation.  I love the pop of freshly micromeshed stems! Putting the stem to the side, the stummel has rested several hours after applying the dye undercoat.  Next, after a felt buffing wheel is mounted to the rotary tool set at about 30% full power, the flamed crust is removed from the Grabow blasted surface. Following this, a cotton pad wetted with alcohol is used to wipe the newly dyed stummel surface.  This helps to blend the dye and to remove overt, excess dye.As before, in preparation of applying the red dye overcoat, the stummel is warmed using the hot air gun.I use a red dye concentrate called TransTint which can be mixed with either water or alcohol to form the base.  I mix a small amount of alcohol with the red concentrate.  With the stummel warmed, a pipe cleaner is used to ‘wash’ the red dye over the dark undercoat.  When the blasted surface is thoroughly covered with the overcoat of red, the stummel is put aside to rest again for several hours allowing the dye to settle.After a few hours, the dye has dried enough to handle the stummel.  Before turning the lights out for the night, I continue the internal stummel cleaning with a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  Being careful not to disturb the resting dye, a cotton ball is stretched and twisted to form a ‘wick’ which is guided down the mortise to the draft hole with the help of a stiff wire.  The cotton wick helps to draw the oils and tars from the internal briar walls. After the wick is in the mortise, the bowl is filled with the kosher salt and set in an egg crate to maintain stability.  Kosher salt does not leave an aftertaste like iodized salt. The bowl is then filled with isopropyl 99% until it surfaces over the salt. After about 15 minutes, after the initial alcohol has been absorbed, additional alcohol is used to top it off.  The lights are turned off allowing the soak to do its thing through the night and the dye to continue to settle in.The next morning reveals soiling in the salt and the cotton wick indicating that the process has worked.  After removing the expended salt and wiping the bowl with a paper towel I blow through the mortise to assure that the salt crystals are removed.To make sure the internals are clean and to remove any remaining debris, a few cotton buds wetted with isopropyl 99% confirm the internals are clean and refreshed.  I move on.The red overcoat wash of red dye rested through the night.  To continue the refinishing process, a cotton cloth buffing wheel is mounted on the rotary tool and set to about 40% full power.  Using Blue Diamond compound, the buffing is applied to the blasted briar. I’m waiting to attach the stem and to apply Blue Diamond to it because this phase of Blue Diamond is for the purpose of removing excess dye.  While applying the Blue Diamond, I am also careful not to overrun onto the nickel shank cap.  Polishing the metal is reserved for another buffing wheel dedicated to this purpose.  Polishing metals with Blue Diamond compound produce a black residue that can stain the briar if one is not careful.  This is the reason for dedicated buffing wheels for different materials.After the initial application of Blue Diamond compound, the surface is wiped with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  The purpose of this is to reduce excess dye and to help prevent dye leeching on the hands when the pipe is put into service. After the wipe down, the stummel is again buffed with Blue Diamond compound.One final measure to minimize the possibility of the dye leeching onto the hands of the new steward when the pipe is put into service.  To emulate the heating of the pipe during its initial times put into service, the stummel is warmed with the hot air gun.While the stummel is hot, an old cotton cloth is used rigorously to hand buff the stummel picking up the final vestiges of excess dye – hopefully!  Next, another cleaner cotton buffing wheel is mounted onto the rotary tool and Blue Diamond compound is applied to the waiting stem.  The nickel stinger is also reunited to the threaded tenon after being cleaned and polished with 0000 grade steel wool. With both the stummel and stem buffed with Blue Diamond, next is buffing the nickel shank cap and stinger/tenon.  Another cotton cloth buffing wheel dedicated to metals is mounted on the rotary tool.  The speed remains at about 40% full power and the nickel is shined up using the mildly abrasive compound.After completing all the applications of Blue Diamond, a felt cloth is used to wipe/buff the entire pipe including the nickel fitments.  This is done to make sure compound dust is removed before application of the wax to the stem and stummel.The last step is to mount another cotton cloth wheel to the rotary tool maintaining the same speed.  Carnauba wax is applied to the stem and stummel avoiding the nickel shank cap.  When the wax has been applied, a microfiber cloth is used to give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing to raise the shine and to disperse excess wax.The classic Bulldog shape looks great.  The Dr. Grabow Sculptura dates to the 1960s and this one looks brand new.  The extended nickel shank cap gives the Bulldog a bit of class and the renewed blasted surface is pleasing to the eye and touch.  Todd commissioned this classic Dr. Grabow and will have the first opportunity to claim him in The Pipe Steward Store benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria.  Thanks for joining me!

 

Finding a Surprise Among the 7 Barclay-Rex Pipes – A Barling’s Make “Ye Olde Wood” Fossil EXEL 406 Bent Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

It seems like just a few weeks ago I was contacted by an older gentleman about purchasing his pipe collection. He sent me the photos and I was amazed at what I saw. He had Dunhill pipes, BBB pipes, Orlik pipes, Barclay Rex Pipes, a couple of Meerschaums and a whole lot of other pipes. All I could say as I looked at the pipes was what a collection it was. We negotiated a deal and I think we both walked away quite happy with the exchange.

You have seen the work we have done on the Dunhills, Hardcastles, H. Simmons all briar billiard and BBB pipes from the lot but there are still more. The above photo shows all of the Barclay-Rex pipes that were purchased from the New York City shop by the fellow we bought the collection from. It is one of two sandblast pipes that he had and it is a Canadian shaped pipe.

I have worked on several Barclay-Rex pipes in the past but this one was unique in many ways that will become evident in the photos below. When I looked at the various Barclay-Rex Pipes I decided to work on this apple. You can imagine the surprise that I had when I took it out of the box and look at the stamping expecting to see BARCLAY-REX New York and saw something totally different. This pipe is stamped on a smooth panel on the underside of the shank and reads Barling’s [arched over] Make [over] “Ye Olde Wood” [over]406 on the heel of the bowl. To the right of that it is stamped EXEL [over] Fossil. That is followed by Made in England (two lines) followed by T.V.F. (The Very Finest). The stamping is clear and readable and I was utterly surprised. The stem is stamped with remnants of the Barling Cross on the top of the taper stem.

Jeff took some photos of the Barling’s Make Ye Olde Wood Fossil EXEL 406 before he worked his magic in cleaning up the pipe. It is a an interesting pipe with a lot of potential and what appears to be a great sandblast under the grime and debris of the years. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the thickness of the cake in the bowl and the thick lava on the rim top. The rim looks to be heavily damaged under the lava on the top and the inner and outer edges. It really is a mess. He took photos of the top and underside of the vulcanite stem showing the tooth marks, chatter and wear on the stem and button. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the briar. You can see the beautiful shape and the sandblast grain on the bowl even through the dirt and debris of many years. Jeff took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. You can see that it is clear and readable as noted above. I turned to Pipedia to try and place this pipe in the timeline of the brand and was able find some helpful information which I have included below (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Barling). I believe that the pipe is a Family Era pipe so I read the article with interest and gleaned some information on the stamping on the pipe.

The first section I quote below is with regard to the nomenclature on the pipe. The one I am working on bears the stamping “Ye Olde Wood” and T.V.F. and the style name Fossil. I have highlighted the pertinent section in red.

Family Era Nomenclature:

Before discussing the nomenclature of the Family Era pipes it is important to note that there are no absolutes. Barling pipes from this period show a remarkable degree of variation when it comes to nomenclature. The following information can be applied in a general fashion.

According to Tad Gage, Pre-1946 stampings are minimal. Pre WW2 pipes rarely have size, shape or grading. But pipes have surfaced, hallmarked as early as 1925 with size marks, and as early as 1926 with model numbers. There may be earlier examples, and when we see them we will revise the dates.

Examples with silver hallmarks illustrate that a distinct change in nomenclature occurred around 1938-40, although clearly the war and London bombings impacted production of silver-mounted and of all English pipes. A George Yale catalog from 1941 features the familiar stampings such as “YE OLDE WOOD”, “TVF”, and style names like “Fossil”, and these were not generally found on pre-1940 pipes, although “YE OLDE WOOD” did inconsistently appear on some earlier examples. (Gage)…

The next section I am quoting is with regard to the Logo nomenclature. The Barling’s Make stamp is explained below. Following that I have included some information ont eh “Ye Olde Wood” stamp and the Barling Cross stem logo.

Logo Nomenclature:

…The “BARLING’S MAKE” has the word “BARLING’S” arched over the word “MAKE” in capital block letters. Barling used this block letter logo until late 1962…

During the 1930’s and early 1940’s the BARLING’S MAKE logo appeared in a small version with a simpler letter style. Following the War, the small “BARLING’S MAKE” logo was discontinued and a larger logo was used. The larger logo would continue to be in use until 1962, when the 1930’s style logo was reintroduced along with the new numbering system…

Ye Olde Wood Stamp:

Sometime around 1913, the “Ye Olde Wood” stamp made its appearance on selected pipes. An example exists stamped on a 1913 date hallmarked pipe.

This logo will continue to be used in the decades to come. Initially it was used to designate a higher grade than the average, much as the “Special” grade would after the Second World War. Price lists show the “Ye Olde Wood” pipes as a separate grade from the basic BARLING’S MAKE pipe. Eventually, “Ye Olde Wood” came to represent the company to the world. The use of “YE OLD WOOD” as a stamp prior to 1940 was haphazard, at best, although the company used the slogan in advertising materials from the early teens onward. (Gage)

Crossed Barling Stem Logo:

It is not known when the crossed Barling stem logo first appeared, but an example exists on a pipe with a 1923 date hallmark. And several of the mid 1920’s pipes added in this update also feature the crossed Barling stem logo.

Lastly, I have included information on the shape number and the size stamping on this pipe all of which help to date it.

Model Numbers:

Model numbers were occasionally stamped below the logo as early as the late 1920’s.

Nichols Numbers:

Pipes intended for the US Market have a 3 digit model number. However, Family Era Barlings may have two numbers, not just three, and they may also have a letter following the model numbers. For example, the letter “M” following a model number would indicate that the bowl is meerschaum lined.

Stamping model numbers on the pipes became much more common after WW2, though like all Barling nomenclature their appearance is a bit haphazard…

Other Nomenclature:

The “MADE IN ENGLAND.” stamp was in use in the 1930’s thru 1962. As with all things related to Barling nomenclature there are variations. Sometimes there is no “MADE IN ENGLAND.” stamp. Examples exist with a “MADE IN LONDON” over “ENGLAND” stamp. And, there are examples with “MADE IN ENGLAND” with no period after the word “ENGLAND”.

Size Stampings:

Up to 1926 and possibly beyond, Barling used specific, completely unrelated, model numbers to designate the various sizes of a specific shape. They produced pipes in three sizes, small, medium, and large.

Barling’s published price lists show that they continued to offer pipes in only three sizes, small, medium, and large until 1941. That’s it, small, medium, and large. So when someone claims that they have a 1930’s EL, EXEL, or other size, they are mistaken.

In 1941 the published range of sizes expanded. Going from the smallest to the largest, they are SS, S, S-M, L, EL, EXEL, and EXEXEL. There is no “G” for giant. Giant pipes, or magnums, which are oversized standard billiards, were not stamped “G” but are commonly identified by collectors as such because they are obviously large relative to even EXEXEL pipes, and carried no size stampings (Gage)…

With the information from Pipedia I knew that I was working a Barling’s Make “Ye Olde Wood” Fossil from the time period between 1941 and 1962. It is a beautifully sandblasted pipe that has some great grain. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

Jeff carefully cleaned the pipe. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and then cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals of the shank, stem and shank extension 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 lava on the rim top. The finish looks much better and has a deep sandblast that is quite beautiful. The rim top is in rough condition with chips out of the top and inner edge of the bowl making it out of round.. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver I was amazed it looked so good. Here are some photos of what I saw.   I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. The inner edge of the rim was in rough condition with chips and nicks in the sandblast of the rim top and the inner edge of the bowl out of round. I would take some work to straighten out the issues. I took close up photos of the stem end of the pipe to show the condition of the surface and button.  I took a picture of the stamping on the underside of the shank and it was faint but readable as noted above.I started my work on the pipe by addressing the damage on the rim top and the inner edges of the bowl. The first photo shows the condition of the rim after I had lightly topped it and what the edge looked like before I started. I decided to rebuild the chipped areas on the rim top and edges with briar dust and CA glue. I layered the CA glue on the edge and top and used a dental spatula to press briar dust on top of it. It took multiple layers on the rear and back edge and rim top before I was happy with it.When I finished the repairs I used a Dremel and burrs to reproduce the sandblast finish on the rim top to match the bowl sides. I stained the rim top and edges with a combination of Black, Walnut and Cherry stain pens to match the colour of the rest of the bowl. I took pictures of the finished rim top to give an idea of the completed look of the repair.

With the rim repair completed I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the bowl and shank with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” it with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the tooth dents in the surface of the vulcanite. I was able to lift the majority of them and interestingly the small pin hole on the topside sealed off. I filled in the remaining marks with clear CA glue. Once the repairs cured I used two files to flatten out the repairs and recut the sharp edge of the button. I sanded them smooth with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to blend them in the rest of the stem surface. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I touched up the faint stamping on the top of the stem with PaperMate Liquid Paper White. I worked it into the surface of the stamping with a tooth pick. When it cured I scraped off the excess with a tooth pick and a sanding pad. The stamping was faint on in the middle but more readable on the edges.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. With the bowl and the stem finished I put the beautiful Sandblast Barling’s Make Fossil 406 EXEL Bent Apple back together and buffed it on the wheel using Blue Diamond to give it a shine. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. It really is a great looking sandblast. The dimensions of the pipe are – Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of this large pipe is 1.55ounces /44grams. This Barling’s Make Fossil Bent Apple is another great find in this collection. It is a shape that touches all of my buttons. It is one that I am still trying to figure out what to do with. This is another pipe that has the possibility of transporting the pipe man or woman back to a slower paced time in history where you can enjoy a respite. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

 

Working on the First of Seven Barclay-Rex Pipes – A Sandblast Canadian


Blog by Steve Laug

It seems like just a few weeks ago I was contacted by an older gentleman about purchasing his pipe collection. He sent me the photos and I was amazed at what I saw. He had Dunhill pipes, BBB pipes, Orlik pipes, Barclay Rex Pipes, a couple of Meerschaums and a whole lot of other pipes. All I could say as I looked at the pipes was what a collection it was. We negotiated a deal and I think we both walked away quite happy with the exchange.

You have seen the work we have done on the Dunhills, Hardcastles, H. Simmons all briar billiard and BBB pipes from the lot but there are still more. The above photo shows all of the Barclay-Rex pipes that were purchased from the New York City shop by the fellow we bought the collection from. It is one of two sandblast pipes that he had and it is a Canadian shaped pipe.

I have worked on several Barclay-Rex pipes in the past but this one was unique in many ways that will become evident in the photos below. This pipe is stamped on a smooth panel on the underside of the shank and reads BARCLAY-REX [over] New York. The stamping is clear and readable and there is no shape number evident.

Jeff took some photos of the BARCLAY-REX sandblast Canadian before he worked his magic in cleaning up the pipe. It is a an interesting pipe with a lot of potential and what appears to be some great grain under the grime and debris of the years.Jeff took photos of the bowl, rim top to show the thickness of the cake in the bowl and the thick lava on the rim top. He took photos of the top and underside of the vulcanite stem showing the tooth marks, chatter and wear on the stem and button. Jeff removed the stem from the shank and it turned out to be a threaded metal tenon that appears to have been original. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the briar. You can see the beautiful shape and the grain on the bowl even through the dirt and debris of many years. Jeff took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. You can see that it is clear and readable as noted above. I turned to Pipephil’s site to see what I could learn about the Barclay-Rex brand and particularly the sandblast one I was working on (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-b1.html). I have included a screen capture of the information that is shown there.I quote from the sidebar on the site below as it gives a good summary of information.

Brand created in 1910. The shop was situated on Maiden Lane. Three addresses now (2010): 75 Broad Street, 70 East 42nd Street, 570 Lexington Avenue. See also: André

I turned to Pipedia to try and place this pipe in the timeline of the brand and was able find some helpful information which I have included below (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Barclay_Rex). I quote the information below.

Barclay-Rex, a downtown Manhattan tobacconist, was founded in 1910 by Vincent Nastri, a pipemaker from Salerno, Italy. The store was originally located at Barclay and Church Street, and the name was taken from that location and Nastri’s beloved Great Dane, Rex. The business is still run by Vincent Nastri, III and owned by Vincent Nastri, Jr.. They have several locations in New York City. The store has carried pipes from all fine makers, and the Barclay-Rex line of pipes is also much sought after, in that pipes were made in a range from the very inexpensive into the several hundreds of dollars. The pipes were, at least into the 1960’s, made of Algerian briar.

In addition to pipes made by Mr. Nastri over the years, Mr. Nastri, III, has been quoted as stating that a pipemaker just leaving Dunhill made pipes with a small off-white dot on the stem for a time for the shop. As was discovered by Steve Laug of Reborn Pipes, they were evidently made by a pipemaker whose initials were HGP, and stamped on the pipe as such. These pipes were made for a single run only, and then never made again.

In addition, Sasieni at least for a time made private label pipes stamped with the Barclay-Rex name, but with their own shapes and shape numbers.

Locations: (Flagship Store) 75 Broad Street, New York, New York 10004 Telephone: (212) 962-3355

70 East 42nd Street, New York, New York 10165 Telephone: (212) 692-9680

570 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York 10022 Telephone: (212) 888-1015

Email: info@barclayrex.com Website: http://www.barclayrex.com Toll Free: (888) 278-6222 Fax: (212) 962-3372

With the information from Pipedia I knew that I was working on a pipe from the Barclay-Rex Tobacconist in New York City. The fellow we bought them from intimated that he purchased them at the Manhattan store. I was unable to pin down any information regarding the date this pipe was made. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

Jeff carefully cleaned the pipe. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and then cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals of the shank, stem and shank extension 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 lava on the rim top. The finish looks much better and has a deep richness in the colour that highlights grain of the briar. The rim top looked good with some darkening on the top and light damage to the inner edge of the bowl. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver I was amazed it looked so good. Here are some photos of what I saw.   I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. The inner edge of the rim was in decent condition and there was some darkening in the sandblast of the rim top that would need to be cleaned up. I took close up photos of the stem end of the pipe to show the condition of the surface and button. I took a picture of the stamping on the underside of the shank and it was clear and readable as noted above. I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the parts of the pipe. The metal tenon is in excellent condition and the threaded shank also looks very good.I started my work on the pipe by addressing the darkening on the rim top and the damage on the inner edges of the bowl. I used a brass bristle brush to scrub the surface of the rim and the edges. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the bowl and shank with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” it with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the tooth dents in the surface of the vulcanite. I was able to lift the majority of them and interestingly the small pin hole on the topside sealed off. I filled in the remaining marks with clear CA glue. Once the repairs cured I used two files to flatten out the repairs and recut the sharp edge of the button. I sanded them smooth with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to blend them in the rest of the stem surface. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. With the bowl and the stem finished I put the beautiful Sandblast Barclay-Rex Canadian back together and buffed it on the wheel using Blue Diamond to give it a shine. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. It really is a great looking sandblast. The dimensions of the pipe are – Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of this large pipe is .95ounces /27 grams. This Barclay-Rex Sandblast is another great find in this collection. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store soon. If you would like to add it to your collection let me know. This is another pipe that has the possibility of transporting the pipe man or woman back to a slower paced time in history where you can enjoy a respite. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

Working on the second of two Hardcastle’s  Straight Grain Selection No. 1 Pipes


Blog by Steve Laug

It seems like just a few weeks ago I was contacted by an older gentleman about purchasing his pipe collection. He sent me the photos and I was amazed at what I saw. He had Dunhill pipes, BBB pipes, Orlik pipes, Barclay Rex Pipes, a couple of Meerschaums and a whole lot of other pipes. All I could say as I looked at the pipes was what a collection it was. We negotiated a deal and I think we both walked away quite happy with the exchange.

You have seen the work we have done on the Dunhills and BBB pipes from the lot but there are still more. The above photo shows a pair of Hardcastle’s pipes – the top one a Liverpool and the bottom one an oval shank billiard. Both are stamped Hardcastle’s Straight Grain Selection No. 1 and both are beautiful. I have chosen to work on the first pipe pictured above – the round shank, short stemmed Liverpool.

I have worked on a lot of Hardcastle’s over the years but most of them have been Jack’O London and other lower end ones. These are the first two of this quality I have worked on – both of them are Hardcastle’s Straight Grain pipes. This pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads HARDCASTLE’S (arched over) STRAIGHT GRAIN. On the underside of the shank it is stamped SELECTION No. 1 and on the right side it reads Made in London [over] England. The stamping is clear and readable and there is no shape number evident. The taper stem also bears the Hardcastle’s “H” logo on the left side.

Jeff took some photos of the Hardcastle’s Straight Grain Liverpool before he worked his magic in cleaning up the pipe. It is a an interesting pipe with a lot of potential and what appears to be some great grain under the grime and debris of the years.Jeff took photos of the bowl, rim top to show the thickness of the cake in the bowl and the lava on the rim top. The bowl had a thick cake that overflowed in lava on the inner edge and rim top of the bowl. I am hoping that the thick lava coat protected things underneath it from damage to the edges and top. The outer edge appeared to have some significant damage that would need to be dealt with. Cleaning the pipe would make the extent of the damage clear! He took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth chatter, scratching, calcification and oxidation on the stem surface and wear on the edges of the button.    Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the briar. You can see the beautiful shape and the grain on the bowl even through the dirt and debris of many years. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. You can see that it is clear and readable.I turned to Pipedia to try and place this pipe in the timeline of the brand and was able find some helpful information which I have included below (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Hardcastle).

Hardcastle was founded in 1908 by Edmund Hardcastle and built itself a good reputation among the numerous British mid-graders. In 1935 Dunhill started to build a factory next door to Hardcastle in Forest Road, Walthamstow, London E17. The family owned Hardcastle Pipes Limited sold 49% of its equity to Dunhill In 1936.

Along with closing down its pipe factory in Notting Hill in 1946 Dunhill bought the remaining shares, turning Hardcastle into a 100% Dunhill subsidiary. As members of the Hardcastle family continued as executives in the company’s management Hardcastle retained a certain independence.

This ended in 1967. Dunhill merged Hardcastle with Parker (100% Dunhill as well). The new Parker Hardcastle Limited also absorbed the former Masta Patent Pipe Company. Hardcastle’s Forest Road plant was immediately given up and the production of Hardcastle pipes was shifted to Parker’s nearby St. Andrews Road factory – now consequently called Parker-Hardcastle factory.

In fact this put a definite end to Hardcastle as an own-standing pipe brand, and none other than Edwin Hardcastle, the last of the family executives, spoke frankly and loudly of Hardcastle pipes being degenerated to an inferior Dunhill second.

Today Hardcastle pipes use funneled down bowls that are not deemed suitable to bear the Dunhill or even the Parker name (as well as obtaining briar from other sources).

Timeline

Jack O London (Forrest Rd. factory era) sheet, courtesy Doug Valitchka

  • 1903: Edmund Hardcastle establishes the brand
  • 1936: Family sells 49% of the Hardcastle Pipes Limited shares to Dunhill
  • 1946: Dunhill buys the remaining shares, but the family continues to manage the company
  • 1967: Dunhill merges Hardcastle with Parker. The new Parker-Hardcastle Limited company absorbs the Masta Patent Pipe Company also.
  • After 1967 it is speculated that Hardcastle became the brand for “Parker Seconds”

John Loring states in “The Dunhill Briar Pipe – ‘the patent years and after'” that in the absence of sales receipts, or other items of provenance, Hardcastles cannot be accurately dated. Loring further states that he knows of no way to distinguish the briar source when looking at Hardcastle, Parker, or Parker-Hardcastle pipes. We should not expect to find any actual Dunhill production in these lines, and while one might be there, it is doubtful we will ever be able to determine it [1].

Models & Grades – Family Period

Straight Grain, Supergrain, Leweard, Nut Bruyere, De Luxe, Royal Windsor Sandhewn, Royal Crown, The Crown, Phito Dental, Old Bruyere, Jack O’London, Dental Briar, Phito, Dental, Dryconomy, Drawel, Phithu, Telebirar, Camden, Lightweight, The Table, Dovetail, Dental, Crescent Extra, Lonsdale, Welard De Luxe

With the information from Pipedia I knew that I was working on a Family Period Pipe and it was the top grade. It appears that it can be dated between 1903-1946 when the company was sold in full to Dunhill. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

Jeff carefully cleaned the pipe. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and then cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals of the shank, stem and shank extension 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 lava on the rim top. The finish looks much better and has a deep richness in the colour that highlights grain of the briar. The rim top looked good with some darkening on the top and damage to the inner edge of the bowl. The briar on the outer edge seems to have swollen and repaired some of the damage during the scrubbing and cleaning procedure. It looked much better than it did in the previous photos.  Jeff soaked the stem in bath of Briarville’s Pipe Stem Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. He worked it over with Soft Scrub All Purpose Cleaner to remove any remnants of oxidation. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver I was amazed it looked so good. Here are some photos of what I saw.  I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. The inner edge of the rim was darkened and damaged. The outer rim showed some nicks and chipping. I took close up photos of the stem to show the condition of the surface and button. I took a picture of the stamping on the shank sides and it was all clear and readable as noted above.I took the pipe apart and took a photo of the pipe with the stem. It is a good looking pipe and very unique.I started my work on the pipe by addressing the darkening on the rim top and the damage on the inner and outer edges of the bowl. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to work over the inner and outer edge to smooth out the damage and to remove the darkening on the rim top as well.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. After each pad I wiped the briar down with a damp cloth.  I was able to give a shine to the bowl and remove some of the surface scratches in the process. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the bowl and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” it with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the tooth dents in the surface of the vulcanite. I was able to lift the majority of them. I filled in the remaining marks with clear CA glue. Once the repairs cured I sanded them smooth with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to blend them in the rest of the stem surface. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I used Liquid Paper White to touch up the white stamped “H” on the top of the stem. I rubbed it into the stamp with a tooth pick and buffed it off with a cotton pad and a 1500 grit micromesh pad.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. With the bowl and the stem finished I put the beautiful Hardcastle’s Straight Grain back together and buffed it on the wheel using Blue Diamond to give it a shine. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel and then buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. It really is an amazing piece of briar with stunning grain. The dimensions of the pipe are – Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of this large pipe is .99ounces /28 grams. This Hardcastle’s Straight Grain Selection No. 1 is another great find in this collection. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store soon. If you would like to add it to your collection let me know. This is another pipe that has the possibility of transporting the pipe man or woman back to a slower paced time in history where you can enjoy a respite. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

 

Working on the first of two Hardcastle’s Straight Grain Selection No. 1 Pipes


Blog by Steve Laug

It seems like just a few weeks ago I was contacted by an older gentleman about purchasing his pipe collection. He sent me the photos and I was amazed at what I saw. He had Dunhill pipes, BBB pipes, Orlik pipes, Barclay Rex Pipes, a couple of Meerschaums and a whole lot of other pipes. All I could say as I looked at the pipes was what a collection it was. We negotiated a deal and I think we both walked away quite happy with the exchange.

You have seen the work we have done on the Dunhills and BBB pipes from the lot but there are still more. The above photo shows a pair of Hardcastle’s pipes – the top one a Liverpool and the bottom one an oval shank billiard. Both are stamped Hardcastle’s Straight Grain Selection No. 1 and both are beautiful. I have chosen to work on the second pipe pictured above – the oval shank billiard.

I have worked on a lot of Hardcastle’s over the years but most of them have been Jack’O London and other lower end ones. These are the first two of this quality I have worked on – both of them are Hardcastle’s Straight Grain pipes. This pipe is stamped on the top of the oval shank and reads HARDCASTLE’S (arched over) STRAIGHT GRAIN. On the underside of the shank it is stamped SELECTION No. 1 [over] Made in London [over] England. The stamping is clear and readable and there is no shape number evident. The oval taper stem also bears the Hardcastle’s “H” logo on the top side.

Jeff took some photos of the Hardcastle’s Straight Grain oval billiard before he worked his magic in cleaning up the pipe. It is a an interesting pipe with a lot of potential and what appears to be some great grain under the grime and debris of the years.Jeff took photos of the bowl, rim top to show the thickness of the cake in the bowl and the lava on the rim top. The bowl had a thick cake that overflowed in lava on the inner edge and rim top of the bowl. I am hoping that the thick lava coat protected things underneath it from damage to the edges and top. Cleaning it would make that clear! He took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth chatter, scratching and oxidation on the stem surface and wear on the edges of the button.    Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the briar. You can see the beautiful shape and the grain on the bowl even through the dirt and debris of many years. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the top and underside of the shank. You can see that it is clear and readable. He also captured the white “H” logo on the top of the stem.I turned to Pipedia to try and place this pipe in the timeline of the brand and was able find some helpful information which I have included below (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Hardcastle).

Hardcastle was founded in 1908 by Edmund Hardcastle and built itself a good reputation among the numerous British mid-graders. In 1935 Dunhill started to build a factory next door to Hardcastle in Forest Road, Walthamstow, London E17. The family owned Hardcastle Pipes Limited sold 49% of its equity to Dunhill In 1936.

Along with closing down its pipe factory in Notting Hill in 1946 Dunhill bought the remaining shares, turning Hardcastle into a 100% Dunhill subsidiary. As members of the Hardcastle family continued as executives in the company’s management Hardcastle retained a certain independence.

This ended in 1967. Dunhill merged Hardcastle with Parker (100% Dunhill as well). The new Parker Hardcastle Limited also absorbed the former Masta Patent Pipe Company. Hardcastle’s Forest Road plant was immediately given up and the production of Hardcastle pipes was shifted to Parker’s nearby St. Andrews Road factory – now consequently called Parker-Hardcastle factory.

In fact this put a definite end to Hardcastle as an own-standing pipe brand, and none other than Edwin Hardcastle, the last of the family executives, spoke frankly and loudly of Hardcastle pipes being degenerated to an inferior Dunhill second.

Today Hardcastle pipes use funneled down bowls that are not deemed suitable to bear the Dunhill or even the Parker name (as well as obtaining briar from other sources).

Timeline

Jack O London (Forrest Rd. factory era) sheet, courtesy Doug Valitchka

  • 1903: Edmund Hardcastle establishes the brand
  • 1936: Family sells 49% of the Hardcastle Pipes Limited shares to Dunhill
  • 1946: Dunhill buys the remaining shares, but the family continues to manage the company
  • 1967: Dunhill merges Hardcastle with Parker. The new Parker-Hardcastle Limited company absorbs the Masta Patent Pipe Company also.
  • After 1967 it is speculated that Hardcastle became the brand for “Parker Seconds”

John Loring states in “The Dunhill Briar Pipe – ‘the patent years and after'” that in the absence of sales receipts, or other items of provenance, Hardcastles cannot be accurately dated. Loring further states that he knows of no way to distinguish the briar source when looking at Hardcastle, Parker, or Parker-Hardcastle pipes. We should not expect to find any actual Dunhill production in these lines, and while one might be there, it is doubtful we will ever be able to determine it [1].

Models & Grades – Family Period

Straight Grain, Supergrain, Leweard, Nut Bruyere, De Luxe, Royal Windsor Sandhewn, Royal Crown, The Crown, Phito Dental, Old Bruyere, Jack O’London, Dental Briar, Phito, Dental, Dryconomy, Drawel, Phithu, Telebirar, Camden, Lightweight, The Table, Dovetail, Dental, Crescent Extra, Lonsdale, Welard De Luxe

With the information from Pipedia I knew that I was working on a Family Period Pipe and it was the top grade. It appears that it can be dated between 1903-1946 when the company was sold in full to Dunhill. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

Jeff carefully cleaned the pipe. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and then cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals of the shank, stem and shank extension 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 tarnish and lava on the rim top. The finish looks much better and has a deep richness in the colour that highlights grain of the briar. The rim top looked good with some darkening on the top and inner edge of the bowl. Jeff soaked the stem in bath of Briarville’s Pipe Stem Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. He worked it over with Soft Scrub All Purpose Cleaner to remove any remnants of oxidation. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver I was amazed it looked so good. Here are some photos of what I saw.  I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. The inner edge of the rim was darkened and lightly damaged. I took close up photos of the stem to show the condition of the surface and button. I took a picture of the stamping on the shank. The reflection on the silver did not capture the clarity of the stamping on the band but it was all clear and readable as noted above.I took the pipe apart and took a photo of the pipe with the stem. It is a good looking pipe and very unique. I started my work on the pipe by addressing the darkening on the edges and rim top. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to work over the inner edge to smooth out the damage and to remove the darkening. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. After each pad I wiped the briar down with a damp cloth.  I was able to give a shine to the bowl and remove some of the surface scratches in the process. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the bowl and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” it with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the tooth dents in the surface of the vulcanite. I was able to lift the majority of them. I filled in the remaining marks with clear CA glue. Once the repairs cured I sanded them smooth with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to blend them in the rest of the stem surface. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I used Liquid Paper White to touch up the white stamped “H” on the top of the stem. I rubbed it into the stamp with a tooth pick and buffed it off with a cotton pad and a 1500 grit micromesh pad.   I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. With the bowl and the stem finished I put the beautiful Hardcastle’s Straight Grain back together and buffed it on the wheel using Blue Diamond to give it a shine. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel and then buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. It really is an amazing piece of briar with stunning grain. The dimensions of the pipe are – Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of this large pipe is 1.02ounces /29 grams. This Hardcastle’s Straight Grain Selection No. 1 is another great find in this collection. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store soon. If you would like to add it to your collection let me know. This is another pipe that has the possibility of transporting the pipe man or woman back to a slower paced time in history where you can enjoy a respite. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

Restoring a Made in Ireland Shamrock 120 Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I have chosen is another smooth finished Peterson’s Bulldog Dublin. This one is a smooth straight Bulldog that has a rich coloured finish around the bowl sides and shank. It came to us from an auction in Norway, Maine, USA. The finish is dark and dirty but there is some great grain around the bowl sides and shank. There are fills on the right side of the bowl and nicks around the other sides. It was stamped on the  left side of the shank and read SHAMROCK. It was stamped to the right of the shank and read “A PETERSON” [over] “PRODUCT” [over] MADE IN IRELAND (three lines) with the shape number 120 next to the bowl. It was filthy when Jeff brought it to the table. There was a thick cake in the bowl and a thick overflow of lava on the rim top and the inner edge of the bowl. It was hard to know what the condition of the rim top and bowl were under that thick lava coat. The nickel band is tarnished. The unstamped stem was lightly oxidized and had tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside on and near the button. The stem does not fit in the shank and will need work to cause it to sit correctly into the shank. Jeff took photos of the pipe before his cleanup work. Jeff took photos of the rim top and stem to show the general condition of the pipe. The bowl is heavily caked and the rim top and edges have some lava overflow. The stem is lightly oxidized and has tooth marks on the top and underside near the button.   Jeff took photos of the bowl sides and heel to show the grain that was around this bowl. It is a nice looking pipe. The fills on the right side are shrunken and obvious.   Jeff took a the heel and underside of the shank to capture the deep scratching and gouging in the briar. He took photos of the sides of the shank to show the stamping. The stamping is readable in the photos below and is as noted above.     I am including the link to the Pipedia’s article on Peterson pipes. It is a great read in terms of the history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Peterson).

I turned to “The Peterson Pipe” by Mark Irwin and Gary Malmberg to get some background on the Peterson’s Shamrock Pipe. On page 312 it had the following information.

Shamrock (c1941-2009) Originally stamped SHAMROCK with no brand name, an inexpensive line first described in George Yale (New York) mail order booklet in 1941, imported by Rogers Import. The line was actively promoted beginning in ’45, aggressively promoted in US by Rogers from early ‘50s when they registered the Shamrock logo with US Patent Office, claiming propriety since ’38. Over the years offered with P-lip or fishtail mouthpiece, with or without nickel band, with or without shamrock logo on the band, with or without S stamped in white or later in gold on mouthpiece. Appearing in 2008 as unstained smooth and rustic, fishtail mouthpiece with gold impressed P on the stem. COMS of MADE IN over IRELAND (C1945-1965), MADE IN IRELAND forming a circle (c1945-1965), “A PETERSON’S PRODUCT” over MADE IN IRELAND (c1945-1965), MADE IN THE over REPUBLIC over OF IRELAND9c1948-1998). Model is always difficult or impossible to date.

 Judging from the description above, the pipe I am working on is stamped with the stamp noted in red above. It reads “A PETERSON’S PRODUCT” over MADE IN IRELAND which narrows the date to between approximately 1945-1965. It is just stamped SHAMROCK with no brand name. It has an unmarked/unstamped P-Lip stem. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

Jeff had done a great job cleaning up the pipe as usual. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and cut back the cake back to the bare briar. He cleaned up the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the finish. He worked on the rim top lava and darkening with the soap and tooth brush. He scrubbed the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Briarville’s Pipe Stem Deoxidizer. He washed it off with warm water to remove the deoxidizer. The pipe looked far better when it arrived. I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show how well it had cleaned up. The rim top showed some darkening on the top and inner edges around the bowl. There was also a significant burn mark on the back right outer edge of the bowl. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks on the surface near the button. The stem also did not fit easily into the shank.  I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It reads as noted above.    I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to have a look at the parts and overall look.I decided to address the poorly fitting stem first. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to reduce the diameter of the tenon – particularly to the front. It seemed that the front of the tenon was actually larger than the middle and centre. I needed to work at evening up the diameter of the tenon from the front to the back. It took work but I was able to make it work. I decided to work on the damage to the top of the bowl first. I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the rim top. I wanted to flatten out the rim top and try to remove some of the burn damage on the back outer edge. I then used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the inner edge of the bowl.   Next I turned to address the shrunken fills on the right side of the shank. I also worked on the deep nicks on the left side and the front of the bowl. I filled them in with clear super glue. I steamed out the dents on the heel of the bowl with a hot knife and a damp cloth. Once the glue cured I sanded the repairs smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surrounding briar. I sanded the burn mark on the outer edge of the rim top and top with the sandpaper and was able to minimize it to some degree.     I sanded the bowl with a medium and fine grit sanding sponges to smooth out the sanded bowl. I forgot to take photos of it. Once it was smooth I stained the bowl with a Light Brown aniline stain. I applied it, flamed it and repeated the process until the coverage was even. I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on cotton pads to make it more transparent. I was able to blend the stain coat around the bowl and the coverage looked much better.    I sanded the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads to further make the stain more transparent and make the grain stand out. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad.   I used a black Sharpie pen to mark the fills that stood out. Once the stain dried I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I filled in the deep tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem next to the button edge with clear CA glue. Once the repairs cured I sanded them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. It was starting to look good. I set the bowl aside and polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine.  I am excited to finish this Older Peterson’s Shamrock 120 Straight Dublin. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with beautiful straight and flame grain all around it. Added to that the polished black vulcanite stem was beautiful. This smooth Classic Shamrock 120 Dublin is great looking and the pipe feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 33grams/1.23oz. It is a beautiful pipe and one that will soon be on the rebornpipes store in the Irish Pipe Makers Section of the store. If you want to add it to your collection let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog.

New Life for a Ratos of Sweden 93 Prima Made for Ehrlich


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table is a an interesting pipe in many ways – shape, style and stamping. We purchased it in 2018 from an online auction in Barbourville, Kentucky, USA and we are just getting to work on it. It is a shape that is hard to define – a cross between a Poker and a Stack. The angle of the stem and the forward cant of the bowl make it quite unique. It is stamped on all three sides of the triangular shank and the stamping is clear. On the left side it reads RATOS [over] Of Sweden. On the right side it reads EHRLICH and on the underside it reads 93 followed by PRIMA [over] Design: [over] Sigvard Bernadotte. The bowl had a thick cake and lava overflow on the inner edge of the rim. It was hard to estimate the condition of the edges with the cake and lava coat but I was hoping it had been protected from damage. The outer edge appeared to be in good condition. The finish was dull and dirty but had some nice grain under the grime and the finish appeared to be in good condition. A lot would be revealed once Jeff had worked his magic on it. The stem was dirty, oxidized, calcified and had tooth chatter and tooth marks near the button on both sides. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. Jeff captured the condition of the bowl, rim top and stem with the next series of photos. You can see the work that is ahead of us in the photos. The cake is very thick and heavy. The next two photos of the stem show the top and underside of the stem. It is oxidized and calcified an you can see the tooth marks and chatter on the surface of both sides. The stem was also stamped France mid stem on the underside. Jeff took a photo of the side of the bowl and heel showing the condition of the finish and what is underneath the grime and debris of time and use. It will be interesting to see what happens as the pipe is cleaned and restored. He captured the stamping on the sides of the triangular shank. They are clear and readable. It reads as noted above. There is not a photo of the right side at this point.The stamping on the pipe made this one stand out. I decided to do a bit of work on the names that were stamped on the shank. I turned to Pipedia to see what I could find out what I could on the Ratos brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Ratos). There was a short article on the brand that I have included it below.

Ratos is a Swedish classic that has been on the Swedish market for more than 40 years. Pipe smokers know Ratos as an affordable quality pipe in many different shapes. Quality are all equally high, only genuine ‘Old’ briar root may be used. Some of the pipes have meerschaum lined bowls. In 2009, all Ratos pipes are fitted with filters. Some of these pipes are distributed by the Borkum Riff tobacco brand at pipe smoking contests. Ratos pipes are today (2009) manufactured in France, in the oldest factory still operating.

I then did a bit of searching on the web for pipes designed by Sigvard Bernadotte. The path led to and article on Pipedia on a company called “Svenska Rökpipfabriken” (the Swedish Smoking Pipe Factory) (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Svenska_R%C3%B6kpipfabriken). In that article was a section on Bernadotte that I have highlighted in red in the article below.

“Svenska Rökpipfabriken” (the Swedish Smoking Pipe Factory), or just “SRF”, was founded in 1931 in Lerum by father and son Hjalmar and Gösta Eliason. It was the first briar pipe factory in Sweden and for a long time also the only one.

Gösta designed the SRF branded pipes. Large customers such as Pibe Dan in Copenhagen had their own models that SRF produced. SRF also met the demands of individual customers and made pipes one-off according to these clients’ custom designs. Sigvard Bernadotte, Prince of Sweden, has designed a number of one-off models made by SRF.

Among the largest customers in later years were the Tobacco Dealers Sanden, Broberg and Pipcenter in Gothenburg and Pibe DAN in Copenhagen. At that time, with 5 employees, SRF produced 7 200-8 400 pipes per year. In total, around a million pipes were produced.

The briar were in the beginning purchased from Algeria and Corsica but later mostly from Spain. The blocks came in 100-liter jute bags and were transported to Gothenburg by boat. During the Second World War, when briar was difficult to get by, pear tree was used as a substitute instead. The pear tree was however not as heat resistant as those produced from briar.

There were 32 different steps to making a pipe, could differ depending on model. It started at the lathe, then the milling machine and after that followed 11 steps of grind and polish. The first lathe used, which Gösta brought home from Switzerland, was hand driven. The lathes used after that were manufactured by local smiths.

Surface treatment, such as paint and surface texture, was chosen based on the quality of wood. Wood of finer quality was just polished with wax. The lesser quality of the wood, the more colour bets and surface treatment were applied. The colours used were brown, maroon or black. The most common surface treatments were:

  • Hunter, polished with wax.
  • Rex, a smooth polished surface where small cavities / defects in the wood are repaired with putty. The cavities were so small and the reparation were so good that they were hard to detect. (In the beginning Rex was a name for a model).
  • Shell, a blasted surface made with a rotating steel brush blade.
  • Rustic, a roughed surface in straight lines or in wavy patterns. The surface was treated with a special steel and was created by hand.

Before delivery, the pipes had a first smoke by a machine to give the customer a good smoking experience right away. The walls of the pipe chamber were treated with a batter of sugar, tobacco ash and tobacco. They were then stuffed with tobacco mixed with some kitchen paper and smoked by a suction machine.

Repairs were sent from near and far and also collected at stores in Gothenburg and Lerum. The repairs were registered on Monday and processed during the week to be mailed or personally delivered on Friday. In 1977, there were about 1000 repairs per month.

Svenska Rökpipfabriken closed in 1979 when Gösta and the employees retired. Some machines were sold to craftsmen, but the SRF activities were not passed on.

I have included a picture below of a pipe designed by Sigvard Bernadotte, Swedish prince and brother to the late Queen Ingrid of Denmark. It is pretty close to the one that I am working currently though it is taller.I then turned to Pipedia to do a bit of research connecting of the brand with Ehrlich in Boston (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Ehrlich%27s). There was an interesting history of the company but there was nothing attaching it to the pipe in hand.

The David P. Ehrlich Company has remained solely in the hands of one family during its century of business, yet it has had several firm names and locations. David P. Ehrlich went to work in 1881 at the age of twenty for Ferdinand Abraham, who dealt in cigars and tobacco and who had begun business in 1868 at 1188 Washington Street in the South End, but in 1880 moved to the center of the city, where the firm has been ever since. David Ehrlich married the boss’s daughter. In 1916 the name became the David P. Ehrlich Company and Mr. Ehrlich devoted the rest of his life to this business. Since David’s death in 1912 it has been owned by – his nieces and nephews including Richard A. and William Ehrlich.

Ehrlich shop has since 1880 had a predilection for historic sites. 25 Court Street was close to the spot where from 1721-1726 James Franklin had, with the assistance of his brother Benjamin, published The New-England Courant. In 1908 the firm moved a few doors up Court Street to number 37, on the opposite corner of the alley that is grandiloquently named Franklin Avenue. This new locution was on the site of the one-time printing office of Edes and Gill, publishers of the Boston Gazette, in whose back room some of the “Indians” of the Boston Tea Party assumed their disguises. Soon after the end of World War II at which time the store was located at 33 Court Street a move around the corner to 207 Washington Street brought the shop diagonally across from the Old State House and onto the site occupied from 1610-1808 by the First Church of Boston. The demolition of 207 Washington Street in 1967 caused still another move to 32 Tremont Street, adjoining King’s Chapel burying Ground, which is the oldest cemetery in Boston.

The David P. Ehrlich Co. has not just occupied sites intimately associated with Boston history and institutions; it has in the past century become a Boston institution in its own right. It has specialized in fine cigars, pipes, and pipe tobacco. In addition to the retail business, the firm has long specialized in the manufacture of pipes, both from Algerian briar root and from meerschaum, a beautiful white fossilized substance, mined from the earth in Turkish Asia Minor. Meerschaum lends itself to carving, and in the nineteenth century there developed in Austria a fashion for carving pipes from it with formidably intricate decoration.

To summarize what I have found: I believe that the RATOS brand could well have been made by “Svenska Rökpipfabriken” (the Swedish Smoking Pipe Factory). It is fascinating that the sub brands and lines made by them all start with an “R” so it is not a far stretch to connect the RATOS name to them. The fact that they made a pipe designed by Sigvard Bernadotte that was virtually identical to this one also makes the connection. Ehrlich imported quite a few pipes from various makers in countries from Europe.

Now it was time to work on the pipe. The pipe has been here for a few years now so it is about time I worked on it. I took it out of the box where I had stored it and looked it over. It was amazingly clean and looked like a different pipe. 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 bowl looked very good. The rim top showed a lot of darkening but the inner bevel was in good condition. Jeff scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub to remove the grime and soaked it in Briarville’s Stem Deoxidizer. When he took it out of the soak it came outlooking far better. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some photos of the rim top and stem. The rim top and the bowl are very clean. There was some darkening around in the inner edge. The close up photos of the stem show that is it very clean and the deep tooth marks are very visible.I took photos of the stamping around the sides of the shank. They are as noted above and are clear and readable.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe. It is an interesting pipe with some great grain around the bowl.I started by cleaning up the darkening around the rim. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper and carefully worked it around the rim edge.I polished the rim top and bowl with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the smooth briar with my fingertips. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for fifteen minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside and turned to deal with the stem. I “painted” the stem surface with a flame of a Bic lighter to try and lift the tooth indentations. I was able to lift the majority of them. There were to larger ones that I filled in with clear CA glue. Once it cured I smooth out the repairs and recut the edge of the button with files. I sanded the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the vulcanite. Once I had smoothed them out and broken up the remaining oxidation I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a cloth containing some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. I gave the stem a final coat of Obsidian Oil to preserve and protect it. This RATOS of Sweden (EHRLICH) 93 PRIMA Design: Sigvard Bernadotte. was another fun pipe to work on and I really was looking forward to seeing it come back together again. With the grime and debris gone from the finish and the rim top the birdseye grain is beautiful. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I carefully avoided the stamping on the shank during the process. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad on the buffer. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The rich finish on the bowl looks really good with the black vulcanite stem. It is very well done. Give the finished RATOS 93 PRIMA a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 36grams/1.27oz. This is truly a great looking Bernadotte Design Tall Canted Stack. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store soon. If you want to add it to your collection send me an email or a message! Thanks for your time.

A Challenging Old BBK Marte-Rosa Reporter with a Cherrywood Shank and Horn Stem


Blog by Steve Laug

We picked up the next pipe from a fellow in Los Angeles, California, USA. This BBK pipe is a lot like a pipe I have worked on before called a Ropp  La Montagnarde Deposee Reporter (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/08/08/a-ropp-la-montagnarde-deposee-298-horn-cherrywood-briar/). The bowl is an interesting piece of briar with a mix of grain around the bowl and shank. The end of the briar shank has a brass shank cap/ferrule that is dented and dirty. The shank extension is cherry wood and is pressure fit into the mortise with a cherry wood tenon. The top of the cherry wood extension has another brass ring on the end of the extension and a threaded cherry wood tenon that the stem screws onto. The stem is horn and is rough condition. There is a large area on the left side of the stem and half of the underside that has been decimated by worms. The top side has a lot of chewing damage. The pipe is stamped on the left side with the words Marte–Rosa (it is hard to read as there is a flaw through the first word). Underneath that is an oval with the letter B.B.K. stamped in it. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Racine de Bruyere at an angle. The pipe is a real mess. There is a thick cake in the bowl and a thick overflow of lava on the rim top. The inner edge of the rim appears to have some damage but we won’t know for sure until it is cleaned. Jeff took photos of the pipe at this point to capture the condition of the briar and parts. Jeff took photos of the bowl, rim top to show the thickness of the cake in the bowl and the lava on the rim top. This pipe was obviously a great smoking pipe and a favourite. I am hoping that the thick lava coat protected things underneath it from damage to the edges and top. Cleaning it would make that clear! The cherry wood insert was damaged as well with scratches in the bark. He took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the damage and worm holes in the horn stem material on the left side of the button. The horn stem was a mess. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the briar. You can see the beautiful shape and the grain on the bowl even through the dirt and debris of many years. The brass bands on the shank end and the cherry extension end. At this point in the process it certainly looks its age.   Jeff took photos of the bands and the damaged cherry wood extension. It is a bark covered piece of cherry. The end that fits in the shank of the briar is made of cherry just like the extension. The tenon end that the stem fits on is threaded to receive the threaded stem. The stamping on the left side of the shank read Marte-Rosa and underneath that it is stamped with an oval with the letters B.B. [over] K. On the right side it was stamped The stamping is hard to read on the left side as it has a fill in the middle of the brand name and is faint underneath. The right side is stamped Racine de Bruyere diagonally on the shank which translates as Root Briar or Briar Root.Through the years I have cleaned up several BBK pipes. One of them was a reporter/hunter pipe like this one (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/08/26/an-old-timer-horn-stem-cherrywood-shank-and-briar-bowl-bbk-bosshardt-luzern/). It had a windcap that is a difference from the current pipe I am working on. I quote from that blog below:

When I worked on the BBK Hunter I researched the brand. The BBK was a Swiss made brand as the shanks of all the pipes I had cleaned up and restored were stamped that way. Pipedia was my primary reference in that blog. Here is the link: http://pipedia.org/index.php?title=Bru-Bu. I have included the material from the previous blog below.

“Josef Brunner, oldest son of the farmer Konstantin Brunner from the hamlet Nieder-Huggerwald, belonging to the community of Kleinlützel (Canton Solothurn), was sent in 1871 to a pipe turner in Winkel/Alsace for his apprenticeship. As was usual at that time, Brunner wandered as a journeyman after ending the apprenticeship. Eventually, he went to Saint-Claude, France which was then the world’s stronghold of briar pipe manufacturing. There, Brunner was able to increase and deepen his knowledge in the field of industrial pipe making. When he returned home in 1878, he installed a small turner’s workshop in the house of his father. With the energetic support of his two younger brothers, he began to produce tobacco pipes of his own calculation, taking them to the markets in the surrounding area. In 1893, Bernhard Brunner’s wife inherited the mill in Kleinlützel. At this point, the pipe fabrication was transferred to an annex belonging to the mill. Now it was possible to drive the machines by water power – an important relief to the workers and a considerable innovation compared to the previous pedal-driven system.”

“The business developed so well after the turn of the century even when a lack of workers in Kleinlützel occurred. The problem was solved by founding a subsidiary company in the small nearby town Laufen an der Birs in the Canton of Bern. This plant didn’t exist too long. The disastrous economic crisis in the 1920’s and early 1930’s forced the Brunner family to restrict the fabrication of pipes dramatically. In addition the big French pipe factories in Saint-Claude – although suffering from the same circumstances – flooded the Swiss market with pipes at prices that couldn’t be matched by Swiss producers. By 1931 approximately 150 of 180 Brunner employees had been sacked – the rest remained in Kleinlützel, where the cheap electric energy ensured a meager survival.”

“In 1932, Mr. Buhofer joined the Brunner family. The company was named Brunner-Buhofer-Kompagnie, and, shortly thereafter, Bru-Bu. Buhofer had made his fortune in the United States but, homesick, returned to Switzerland to search for a new challenge. Bru-Bu’s fabrication program was expanded with many handcrafted wooden art articles: carved family coats of arms, bread plates, fruit scarves, and – more and more – souvenir articles for the expanding Swiss tourism industry. Pipes remained in the program continuously, but the offerings changed from traditional Swiss pipes to the more standard European shaped pipes. Bru Bu is widely known as BBK.”

The last paragraph of the Pipedia article linked BBK pipes to Former Nielsen. I have two of Former’s pipes so this stood out to me. “At some point in the late 1970’s, Bru-Bu went out of business. Some of the Brunners, as far as known, continued as timber traders. But in 1986 new life filled the old Bru-Bu pipe workshop, when Dr. Horst Wiethüchter and “Former” Nielsen started to produce the high-grade Bentley pipes there.”

Jeff cleaned up the pipe and reamed the bowl with a Pipnet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He cleaned out the shank and the airways in the stem, shank extension and the mortise with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. He scrubbed the briar with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and the build up on the rim top. He carefully scrubbed the cherry wood the same way. He cleaned out the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol to remove the grime and tars. The horn stem was clean but had on the topside and had a huge worm hole on the left side and left underside of the stem. The brass bands on the shank and the cherry wood were dented and worn but still looked very good. The glue that held them in place on the shank and cherry had given way and they were loose. I took some photos of the pipe when it arrived in Vancouver to show its condition after Jeff had cleaned it. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the condition of the rim top. It had a few nicks in it and the inner edge of the rim had damage and darkening. I took photos of the stem to show the damage to surface on both sides.I took the pipe apart to show the various components of the pipe. The cherry wood extension in the centre of the photo has a tapered end that fits into the shank and a threaded end that the stem screws onto. The cherry extension has some damage on the sides. There is also a fill that is shrunken on the left side of the shank and in the middle of the stamping. I took photos of the stamping on both sides of the shank. You can see it is readable but damaged.  I cleaned up the inner edge of the rim with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I brought the bowl back to round. I did not take a photo of the rim top but it is visible in the polishing  photos that follow.I glued the band on the shank but the glue did not hold so I removed it. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad to remove the dust. I spread white all-purpose glue on the shank end and pressed the band on the shank. This time I used more than the first time and set it aside to cure. Once it cured I took photos of the pipe with the band on the shank. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the cherry wood shank extension. I filled in the splits in the bark with clear CA glue. Once the repairs had cured I sanded them smooth with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads.I used a dental spatula to spread the white all-purpose glue on the end of the extension and pressed the brass band onto the extension. I set it aside to allow the glue to cure. I took a photo of the band on the shank end and on the cherry wood shank extension. The bands look very good. I rubbed the cherry wood down with some Before & After Restoration Balm to protect, clean and enliven the wood. It worked very well. I let it sit for 15 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cloth. I greased the end of the wooden tenon on the cherry wood shank extension with Vaseline. It made the fit in the shank smooth and snug.I put the extension back in the shank and rubbed the bowl down with some Before & After Restoration Balm to protect, clean and enliven the wood. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips. I set the bowl aside and let it sit for 15 minutes. After it had been sitting I buffed it off with a soft cloth. I set the bowl and shank extension aside and turned my attention to the stem. I greased a pipe cleaner with Vaseline and inserted it in the shank. I wanted to protect the airway when I filled in the damaged area with super glue. I filled in the worm damage with clear super glue. I layered it in with several fills. While it was curing I read Dal Stanton’s blog on mixing in a sprinkling of charcoal powder with the glue to help blend the repair into the horn. I mixed some in and layered more and more glue on top of it. The black of the charcoal did not really blend in well. It migrated together and left a black spot on the top of the stem and a black ring on the underside. In the past I did not use the charcoal and certainly will not do so again. I sprayed the repairs with accelerator to speed the hardening process of the repair. I used a pair of files to flatten out the repairs and to reshape the button on both sides of the stem. Once I had reshaped the button I sanded the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the horn stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each set of three pads. I polished it with Before & After Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it  a final rubdown with Obsidian Oil to protect it. I gave the threads on the shank end tenon a coat of Vaseline to make it easier to turn the threaded stem onto the end of the shank.With everything finished I put the BBK Marte–Rosa Racine de Bruyere Reporter Pipe back together and buffed it by hand with a microfibre cloth and polished the metal with a jeweler’s cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I love the way the grain just pops on this old pipe. The cherry wood shank extension adds not only length but also a touch of rustic to the pipe, though this particular piece of cherry wood has bark that is quite smooth. The dark striations of the horn stem also go well with the wood. The brass bands at the stem and the shank give this old timer a real look of class. The finished pipe is shown in the photos that follow. The repair to the button while not invisible is smooth and solid and should last a long time. It is a beautiful pipe to my eyes. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼  inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 70grams/2.47oz. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog.

Salvaging a Sculpted Edelweiss – A Challenging Button Rebuild of a Horn Stem


Blog by Dal Stanton

I remember well when I received this beautifully sculpted ‘Edelweiss’ in 2017.  Kari, a gifted young Bulgarian lady who is a fellow colleague working with the Daughters of Bulgaria in Sofia, Bulgaria, saw the pipe in a second-hand shop on a visit to London while visiting her parents who lived and worked there.  Among colleagues of Daughters of Bulgaria, my pipe restoration exploits benefiting the daughters, is well-known.  Kari purchased the pipe and gifted it to The Pipe Steward for the Daughters on her return to Sofia.  Kari’s support did not end there!  She ALSO commissioned a pipe for herself which also benefited the Daughters.  That pipe was a graceful beauty which joined our fellowship during a break at work (pictured below) in Sofia a few years ago (See: A Lady’s Choice – WDC Milano Swan Neck Billiard).   Kari, along with several other staff and volunteers, are the courageous ones who go where few go to help women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thank you, Kari, not only for the pipe but for all you do!

When I received the pipe from Kari, I found that it had no branding, but the sculpting whispered ‘Edelweiss’ very clearly.  A Wikipedia article gives the Latin name, Leontopodium nivale, and describes the small, delicate flower with noteworthy characteristics – several reminiscent of those working to combat human trafficking and exploitation world-wide:The Edelweiss was put in the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection and eventually, it caught one pipe man’s eyes.  Bob is retired in a small town near Keene, New Hampshire, where my wife and I have some family connections.  Even though Bob described himself as ‘retired’ in our communications, he also has a hand at restoring pipes specializing in what I would describe as ‘truly vintage pipes’ – Viennese coffeehouse pipes, Turkish and Kenyan pipes.  What I found fascinating as well was that Bob collects clays and has found a niche providing reed pipes to Civil War reenactors.  After looking at the pipes he has posted on Estsy (See: GlenwrightPipes), I was doubly impressed that the Edelweiss caught his discerning eye.  Here are a few pictures of the Sculpted Edelweiss with a diamond shank and horn stem: The only marking on the Edelweiss is on the upper left panel of the diamond shank.  ‘Bruyere’ is stamped inside a rhombus trapezoid for those of you who are geometric fans!  Underneath the trapezoid is stamped, EXTRA.  I am guessing that the pipe has French origins – it has that feel and appearance.  It could possibly date from the 1940s, probably a post-WW2 pipe when Europe was going through the shortages with rubber and horn came to the forefront, especially in France. The ‘Bruyere’ spelling lends toward France as well but not exclusively.  These are guesses at this point and probably will remain guesses because the nomenclature is not detailed. Looking at the condition of the pipe itself, the chamber needs reaming with a thick cake buildup.  Reaming will give the briar a fresh start and allow me to inspect the chamber walls.  The rim has lava flow and needs cleaning.  It is a given that the sculpted briar surface needs scrubbing.  The smooth panels of the sculpted briar surface will come out looking good.  The challenging issue with this pipe is the horn stem.  The short, bent horn stem is nice – I like horn stems and the rustic look they offer.  The challenge for this horn stem is that the button is totally obliterated. It looks as though it was chewed off.  If there is a silver lining, it is that there is a remnant of the slot facing remaining.  This will help guide rebuilding the button.

To begin, I focus first on the stem.  Before beginning the repair on the button, I clean the airway.  I’m hopeful that the nickel stinger can be removed to help.  I’m not concerned whether the stinger is threaded or not.  Either way, I’m not able to easily remove it gently using pliers.  To try to loosen it, the nickel tenon is heated with a Bic lighter and that does the job.  I discover that the stinger is threaded.  The stinger goes into a little dish with alcohol to soak to clean.Next, after one pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 99%, the airway is cleaned.  Steel wool also removes the staining on the end of the nickel tenon.Next, the button rebuild.  Knowing that the Edelweiss with the button rebuild was coming up in the queue, I have given thought to how to approach this repair.  I am confident that CA glue will provide a good, sturdy rebuild of the button.  The challenge leans more on the cosmetic side of the rebuild – matching as close as possible the translucent, wavy, horn hues.  I know it will be difficult to reproduce the shade patterns in the horn, but I can try to get in the ballpark.  I take some fresh pictures to get a closer look.  In the next two pictures looking down onto the top of the stem and then the lower side, the shades of the horn are clear.  The upper button is totally bisected exposing the airway.  The second picture shows the gnawed condition in progress.  The airway is not yet compromised. The lateral view in the next picture shows the sideline of the diamond shank as it runs down the side of the stem and disappears into the carnage.  The sideline will dictate the width of the button contouring.As I said before, the silver lining is that there remains some of the original slot facing.  The single hole slot will make it easier fashioning the button without having to craft a slot inset which is true for most vulcanite stems. I use an amber medium thickness CA glue to nuance the coloring I want to match the horn.  After covering a piece of paper with clear packing tape to serve as the mixing palette, I put a small dab of the amber glue on the palette to test the color and how it acts when I add to it.  To the amber CA is added just a small amount of activated charcoal and mixed to see how it reacts.  Only a small amount of the charcoal is used because too much and it will turn black.  I want there to be a lighter hue in the mixture with darker hints mingling with the amber.I like the look of the color of the glue – it has potential.  Before mixing more CA, to fashion the button and to protect the airway, a pipe cleaner wrapped with scotch tape and with petroleum jelly dabbed on the tape is inserted in the airway.  This forms the airway channel and protects it from being filled with glue.  The petroleum jelly helps to keep the pipe cleaner from adhering permanently to the CA glue – that would be problematic.Now, to thicken the CA/slight charcoal mixture, I add extra thick CA glue and mix with a toothpick.  Thickening the mixture helps when it is applied to the stem to not be as runny.With the pipe cleaner inserted, I put an initial layer of the CA mixture over the pipe cleaner to form the initial airway channel.  The glue is immediately sprayed with an accelerator which quickly cures the glue and holds the pipe cleaner  in place. Rebuilding the button was a repetitive dance of adding a bit more charcoal, amber CA and extra thick CA and mixing and applying to the button area with the toothpick – wrapping the glue around the toothpick as one wraps pasta around a fork.  After each application of the CA mixture, the button is sprayed with the accelerator.  The following pictures show the progress in gradually adding layers to rebuild the button.After sufficient layers have been laid, as hoped, with a bit of wiggling, the pipe cleaner comes out without problem.  The excess rebuild patch material that has been applied was intended.  From the excess the filing process whittles down the excess to shape the button as needed. The airway formed around the taped pipe cleaner as hoped.  My only concern at this point is that the patch material above the airway is not sufficiently thick as I begin filing.  I’ll be cognizant of this later.  I set the stem aside to allow the button rebuild patch to thoroughly cure.With the stem on the side, I take a closer look at the stummel before starting the cleaning process.  The rim has thick lava flow.  The grime on the bowl also is evident. The clean up of the stummel starts with reaming the chamber using the Pipnet Reaming Kit. The reaming required 3 of the 4 blade heads available.  This is followed with the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to further scrape the chamber removing the carbon buildup.  Finally, the chamber is sanded using 240 sanding paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  An inspection of the chamber after the reaming process shows healthy briar.Moving now to the sculpted briar surface, undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap is used on a cotton pad to scrub.  A bristled toothbrush is also used to get into the grooves of the sculpting and a brass bristled brush helps with the lava buildup on the rim surface.  The lava on the rim proved to be stubborn.  The sharp edge of the pocketknife was also used to carefully scrape the surface.   The stummel is next taken to the sink where the cleaning continues with shank brushes.  Using the brushes and anti-oil liquid dishwashing soap, the mortise is cleaned using warm to hot water.  The bristled toothbrush is used again to clean the external surface.  After a thorough rinsing, the bowl is taken back to the worktable.Next, to fine tune the internal cleaning, pipe cleaners and cotton buds wetted with isopropyl 99% scrub the mortise and airway.  From the picture below, the number of buds and pipe cleaners used was quite a bit.  A dental spoon also was useful in scraping the sides of the mortise.  I discovered at the beginning of the cleaning that the mortise has what appears to be cork lining affixed to the sides to keep the metal tenon snug.  During the cleaning process, I cleaned over the cork not wanting to damage it more than it was.  I call a truce on the cleaning for now and will plan to do a kosher salt and alcohol soak through the night to further clean and freshen the internals.After the cleaning of the stummel I look back at the results.  There persist some darkened, scorched areas on the rim and just inside the chamber on the left-hand side – the lighting side.  I will need to do some remedial sanding to clean this. The stummel has cleaned up well.  I’m looking forward to the sanding phase when the grain in the smooth briar sections of the sculpting will emerge.  This will look good.  The finish, what there was of one, seems to be non-existent after the cleaning. I begin to address the issues with the rim by topping the stummel to reestablish fresh lines and to remove the darkened areas. Using 240 paper on the chopping board, the stummel in inverted and rotated on the flat surface.  I expect the progress often not wanting to remove more briar than is necessary.At this point, I am satisfied with the progress even though the burn spot on the left side of the stummel (the bottom in the picture) is still evident.  I will try to address this by cutting a smart bevel on the inner lip of the rim.  I am hopeful this will remove more charring.To complete the topping, the paper is changed to 600 grade paper and the stummel is rotated several more times to smooth the rim surface further.Next, a bevel is cut using 240 paper then 600 paper by pinching the rolled paper with a hard surface backing the paper.  This removes the dark ring nicely and I’m satisfied with the results even though a small dark spot remains.Next, sanding sponges are applied to the sculpted briar surface.  Three sponges are used, first a coarser grade, then medium and finishing with a light grade.  The sponges do a great job cleaning the briar surface. With my workday closing, the internal cleaning is continued using a kosher salt and alcohol soak through the night.  This helps to draw the oils out of the internal briar and freshen the stummel.  First, a cotton ball is stretched and twisted to form a ‘wick’ which is then pushed/guided down the mortise with the help of a stiff wire.  The wick helps to draw the oils out. The bowl is then filled with kosher salt which does not leave an aftertaste.  After putting the stummel in the egg crate for stability, the chamber is filled with isopropyl 99% until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes, the alcohol is absorbed into the salt and a little more alcohol is added to top it off.  The lights are then switched off. The next morning, the soak had continued the cleaning through the night as evidenced by the salt and cotton wick being soiled.  After clearing the salt crystals from the bowl and wiping with a paper towel, I also blow through the mortise just to make sure that the salt was removed.  To make sure the cleaning was successful, a few pipe cleaners and cotton buds wetted with isopropyl 99% reveal that more cleaning is necessary.  After a good bit of work, the buds emerged lighter and I declare the job done! Next, I’m anxious to work on shaping the new button.  The patch rebuild material has cured through the night and I begin by filing the end of the stem to shape the button facing.  I flat needle file begins the process of removing the excess patch material to flatten it.It does not take long filing to discover I have some problems.  I mentioned earlier I was concerned about the thickness of the top bit area.  The reason for my concern was that I did not realize until after the initial CA glue application to establish a solid airway, that the tape-wrapped pipe cleaner, the airway template, had popped up just a little when the attention was on troweling the glue mixture to the rebuild with a toothpick.  The form was set when I quickly sprayed the CA with the accelerator.  The picture below shows the form of the airway pushing too far upward.  The problem with this therefore, results in a cavity where there should be hardened CA glue.  Looking through the slot you can see daylight – the translucent light coming through the hardened CA.  The second picture shows this area looking down on the upper bit.   Undeterred, I believe the best approach is to file down the upper bit as I would normally do – shaping it as it should be. As I file, I expect the cavity will be breached providing the means to add more CA mixture to fill the cavity.  The pipe cleaner with the scotch tape wrap will also again be in place when more CA is added.  On we go!  Using the flat needle file, I work on the upper bit forming the button lip.  A few pictures show the gradual progress.As I file close to being flush with the horn surface, filing is transitioned to sanding with 240 grade sanding paper to shape the button further.  I am surprised when there are no breaches exposing a cavity in the button.I transition to filing the lower button.  Instead of a flat needle file, a squared filed is used.  It doesn’t take long, and 240 grade sandpaper continues the sanding process. Next, the flat needle file is used to shape the button itself.  The general approach is to follow the curvature of the horn stem on the upper and lower button lip.  In addition, the button is filed to taper toward the sides of the stem so that the upper and lower button meet flush with the side of stem.  This results in a uniform edge running down from the diamond shank sides through the stem/button.  Sanding and shaping the button continues with 240 grade paper and is expanded to sand the entire stem to clean small nicks and smooth.  A plastic disk is used to prevent shouldering the edges while sanding.The button is looking good but still in a rough state.  As is often the case when working with CA glue patches, pits appear from air pockets caught in the glue when it solidifies.   I take a few pictures to show the progress. Even though filing and sanding did not open a cavity as I was expecting, there is a gap where there shouldn’t be a gap and there is a small cavity behind the gap where  there shouldn’t be and this concerns me.  The approach that came to mind was again to wrap a pipe cleaner in scotch tape.  After applying petroleum jelly to the tape to reduce the CA glue sticking to it, the pipe cleaner was again placed in the airhole and into the airway.  If I had three hands, I could have taken pictures of the following process, but with the picture below serving as the starting point, it shows the gap created earlier is exposed while filling the accurate airway with the pipe cleaner. A precision spout is then attached to the Black CA glue bottle and reinforced with tape.  With the tip of the precision spout being small, I am able to insert it into the gap hole and ‘inject’ the Black CA glue into the cavity.  This was done very slowly because it was difficult pushing the CA through the small exit and I did not want to blow the spout off with the pressure – therefore the spout is reinforced with tape!  When the glue emerges out of the gap, I spray accelerator on it to solidify in place the excess black CA emerging from the cavity assuring that the slot hole remains firm.  After about 5 minutes, I gave the pipe cleaner a slight twist to see if the petroleum jelly prevented the sticking.  It snapped and moved, but I left it in place as the black CA glue injected in the cavity fully cures.  I put the stem aside again to let the CA glue fully cure. With the stem on the sideline, the sanding process with the stummel is continued following the sponges.  The full regimen of micromesh pads is applied by first wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400.  Dry sanding follows with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  I enjoyed watching the emergence of the smooth briar grain during the micromesh process.  It’s looking great!

While sanding with micromesh pads, I had more of a focus on the beautiful carving design of the Edelweiss.  Both sides of the bowl display an Edelweiss flower in full bloom, but more subtle is the leafy branch design holding up the flowers from below.  The leafy branch extends from the shank into the bowl’s heel and then flowering upward encompassing the bowl – amazing!  To bring more relief to the sculpted leaf and flower panels I decide to apply Fiebing’s Tan Leather Dye to the stummel.  My thinking is this – the tan will freshen the overall color, but it will not be distinctively different from the lighter briar surface.  The main effect I am looking for will be on the ‘unnoticed’ rough, sculpted cuts, which surround and define the leaves and flowers.  The fresh dye will absorb and should darken the rough briar, I believe, and provide more of a contrast pop for the overall briar canvas.  At least, this is what I think will happen!  As can be seen in the above pictures, there is compacted briar dust lodged in the cut lines and edges.  Using a sharp dental probe, I carefully scrape and blow the debris out of the cracks and cuts. After assembling the materials and tools on the worktable, in preparation for the dye, I first wipe the bowl with alcohol to further clean the surface.  Next, the bowl is warmed with the hot air gun to heat and expand the briar.  I believe this helps the wood to receive the dye. After the stummel was warmed, a pipe cleaner is used to apply Fiebing’s Tan Leather Dye to a portion of the bowl and then it is ‘flamed’.  The aniline dye is combusted with a lit candle and when the alcohol quickly burns off, the pigment is set into the briar.  I debated whether I should fire the dye given that it will be more difficult to remove the resulting crusted surface. I decide that the cuts and crevasses are accessible enough that it should clean up with the rotary tool and buffing wheels.  After thoroughly applying the dye and firing it, the bowl is put aside to rest allowing the dye to settle in.