Tag Archives: repairing fills

French Made Bruyere Garantie Bent Billiard from Burgas


Blog by Dal Stanton

I received Gary’s email when he and his wife were visiting the Bulgarian city of Burgas on the Black Sea coast. Ever since I started restoring pipes, Gary, my colleague living and working in Plovdiv, has kept his eyes open during his travels. He’s found some very nice pipes for me. The two he found at the antique shop on the main walking street in Burgas were possibilities so he landed them for me. The larger bent billiard in the pictures he sent is on my work table now. I chose it because I’m hoping for a project that doesn’t appear to be in too much need!The only marking on the pipe is stamped on the left shank and it says, “BRUYERE” over “GARANTIE” which I’ve understood as a rather generic marking used by several manufacturers from different continental countries in Europe.  On a hunch, I looked up the generic marking in Wilczak and Colwell’s manual, “Who Made That Pipe?” and was surprised to find a semi specific listing: UNK France.  With an ‘unknown’ maker, but because of the spelling, they identify the French origins.  Odds are, if from France, then most likely the place of origin is Saint-Claude.  After receiving the pipes from Gary, I put the French made, 3/4 Bent Billiard on my work table in Sofia, and take these pictures to fill in the gaps. The grain on this larger stummel is outstanding – much motion and flow.  Standing out is the bull’s eye wraparound knot grain perfectly situated to highlight the elbow where shank and stummel meet and blend (pictured above).  The stummel surface has several dents and some cuts from normal wear and grime collection.  The rim has some oil residues but like the stummel surface, has its share of normal wear dents.  The cake in the chamber is very light and the remnants of the last smoke are still evident – a blend of sorts (pictured below)!  The stem shows light oxidation and tooth chatter primarily on the lower bit.  The button and slot look good.  To start the restoration and cleanup of the Bruyere Garantie Bent Billiard, after inserting a pipe cleaner through the stem, I put the stem in the Oxi-Clean solution to soak, working on the oxidation.  With stummel in hand, I clean out the old tobacco from the chamber with the pipe nail tool.With the Pipnet kit, I ream the cake to the briar for a fresh start.  I use the two smaller of the 4 blades available in the kit and follow this by using the Savinelli pipe knife to fine tune the ream by strategically scraping the chamber wall.  To clean the chamber wall, I wrap 240 grit paper around a Sharpie Pen and sand the chamber and then use a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to remove the carbon dust.  Looking at the cleaned chamber, it looks good. With the chamber finished, I turn to cleaning the internals of the stummel with cotton swabs and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%.  It does not take long and pipe cleaners and swabs are coming out clean. Now turning to the cleanup of the surface of the stummel, I use undiluted Murphy’s Soap with cotton pads and a bristled toothbrush to clean the grime off the briar surface.  Murphy’s does a good job cleaning wood of grime and old finish.  I rinse the stummel with tap water careful not to flood the internals with water.  I inspect the rim and surface with things cleaned up and take some close-ups of dents and marks showing signs of wear – a well-smoked and liked pipe.  The pictures show the cleaning and surface inspection. To address the stummel rim and surface, I use a medium grade sanding sponge to remove as many of the imperfections as possible.  I use this sanding sponge to perform a gentle topping of the rim to remove the dents.  I follow with a light grade sanding sponge and I also freshen the internal rim bevel using first 240 grit paper followed by 600.  The clear majority of the nicks and dents have been removed.  Those that remain will be an ongoing testimony of the years this pipe has spent serving his steward! The pictures show the progress. I’m ready now to fine-tune the stummel by sanding with micromesh pads 1500 to 1200.  I first wet sand using pads 1500 to 2400.  After completing the wet sanding, I detect some fills that have softened.  This probably resulted from the water on the stummel and the fill material was only water based.  Two were on the rim and a few more on the side of the stummel.  Using a sharp dental probe, I dig out the old fill that at this point has the texture of wet clay.  Pictured is the completion of the first 3 micromesh pads and the beginning of a small detour – such as life!  The detour requires that I mix briar dust and super glue to make a more durable fill than what I just removed.  After filling the holes, I’ll then need strategically to re-sand the patches and return to the micromesh pads.  While I’m at it, I detect a few more fills and clean them out.  These ‘factory fills’ are normal and reveal that one seldom finds a perfect block of briar without some imperfections.  The most challenging patch will be the rim.  I begin by wetting a cotton pad with isopropyl 95% and wipe down the stummel – I want it clean and free of residue fill material.  I then use a pipe nail and scoop out an enough briar dust on an index card that serves as my mixing pallet.  I then add a small puddle of regular superglue next to the briar dust and use a toothpick to begin mixing the putty by drawing dust into the puddle of glue.  When the consistency of the putty is about like molasses, I use a flat dental spatula to apply the briar dust putty to the holes.  I leave excess putty over each patch in anticipation of sanding it down flush to the briar surface.  I use an accelerator spray to shorten the curing time for the patches.  It takes me two batches to fill the holes.  The pictures show the progress. I decide to let the stummel rest a bit as the patches cure and work on the stem.  I remove the stem from the Oxi-Clean bath that it’s been soaking in for several hours.  The oxidation has ‘surfaced’ on the vulcanite stem and I use 600 grit paper and wet sand the stem to remove the oxidation after remounting the stem and stummel with the plastic disc separator.  This helps avoid shouldering the stem.  After completing the sweep with 600 grit, I look at the lower bit where there was tooth chatter and some dents.  I use 240 grit paper to sand these out.  One dent was refusing so I dropped a bit of Black CA glue on it and applied some accelerator spray to cure it quickly.  After a bit, I returned to the patch with 240 grit paper to smooth it and blend it with the vulcanite.  I follow using 600 grit sanding paper and then finish this phase by buffing the entire stem with 0000 steel wool.  The pictures show the progress. With the stem in front of me, I decide to move it to the micromesh phase.  Using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stem. When I complete this first cycle I realize that I forgot the clean the internals of the stem!  Call me anxious….  Holding the stem with paper towel, I gingerly use pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol 95% and then with cotton swabs I clean out the filter cavity.  Thankfully, the stem was in pretty good shape.  Back to the micromesh process.  I follow this by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and then 6000 to 12000.  I follow each cycle of 3 pads with an application of Obsidian Oil which deepens the color and revitalizes the vulcanite.  The pictures show the progress – looking good! With the stem restoration complete, I turn to the stummel again.  I use a flat needle file to begin the process of bringing the excess briar dust putty down to the briar surface.  I start with the rim patches and move around the stummel.  After using the flat needle file, I use 240 grit paper on each patch to bring it down to the surface.  I finish the sanding and blending with 600 grit paper.  At this point, I notice some air pockets in some of the patches.  I spot drop a small bit of superglue in each and spray it with accelerator.  After a few minutes, I sand down the superglue fills very quickly with the flat needle file, then 240, then 600.  I take pictures along the way. With my day ending, I want to clean the stummel internals further using a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  I fill the stummel with kosher salt and I cover the bowl and give it a shake to displace the salt.  I use kosher salt and not iodized salt as it does not leave an iodine aftertaste.  I stretch/twist a cotton ball and feed it into the mortise acting as a wick to draw out the oils during the soak.  I situate the stummel in an egg carton and using a large squeeze dropper, I fill the bowl with isopropyl 95% until filled.  I wait a few minutes as the alcohol is quickly drawn down.  I top it off again with alcohol.  I turn out the lights – another day complete. The next morning, the kosher salt and alcohol soak did its job.  The salt and cotton wick are discolored indicating a not too dirty stummel giving up more gunk.  I thumped the stummel on my palm (not table!) and the expended salt goes into the waste.  I wipe the chamber with a paper towel and run bristle brushes of differing sizes in the chamber, through the mortise and draft hole to remove all the salt.  It’s looking good and the new steward of this Bent Billiard will enjoy a sweeter taste as a result.  To get a bird’s eye view of the project, I rejoin the finished stem with the now patched stummel.  The more I study the grain on this pipe, the more I like it – especially the lower horizontal grain encompassing the stummel’s heel then transitioning through the elbow of the shank merger.  A very pleasing visual as one cradles the ample Billiard bowl in his (or her!) palm. Imagination aside, time to get back to the stummel micromesh process.  Since I  had already completed the first 3 micromesh pads, I wet sand with these again, but focus on the rim and stummel patched areas.  After wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400, I apply a stain stick to the patch on the stummel.  Because of the sanding, this area is lighter than the surrounding patch of briar.  I apply some stain, let it dry, and wipe it with a bit of alcohol on a cotton pad to blend.  Then, I continue with dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and then finishing with pads 6000 to 12000.  I am amazed at how a natural grain can achieve such a gloss through this process – wax is not needed!  To me, the difference between the character of this gloss and the ‘gloss’ of an acrylic finish is the difference between a high-end HD flat screen and a so, so TV – color, but not the same sharpness or reality.  When one looks at grain through an acrylic finish, you’re looking through a film creating the shine not the grain itself, as is with a natural grain gloss – the real deal.  The stains we apply then, do not create a film over the wood but colors it to help hide imperfections, etc., – a big difference.  The pictures show the source of my amazement and reflections. With the micromesh pad cycles completed, I confer with my wife about the finish.  Yes, I often ask my wife’s opinion at this point because of her eye for beauty and colors.  Originally, I had been thinking of keeping with the original color bent – toward more reddish tones.  After our conference, because of the beauty of this grain as is, I will stay with brown, leather tones consistent with the natural grain.  I had avoided the nomenclature during the sanding processes and there was still residue of the older color.  I use acetone (yes, the yellow label is acetone in Bulgarian!) with a cotton pad and work on removing the reddish finish.  I’m not totally successful, but I don’t think what is left will make a difference. To stay in the brown/leather tones, I decide to mix 3 parts Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye with 1 part alcohol with a large bulb dropper.  I want the finish on the darker brown side to blend the briar dust putty patches, but light enough so that the grain is showcased.  To prepare the stummel, I first wipe it down with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to clean the surface.  After mounting a narrowed cork into the shank as a handle, I warm the stummel with a heat gun to expand and open the briar allowing it to absorb the dye more efficiently.  I then liberally apply the dye mixture to the stummel with a folded pipe cleaner seeking full coverage.  With a lit candle, I then ‘fire’ the stummel, igniting the alcohol in the dye which sets the stain.  After a few minutes, I repeat the process concluding with firing the stummel.  I then put the stummel aside to rest for several hours before continuing.  The pictures show the progress. After several hours, I’m ready to unwrap the crust encasing the stummel resulting from the fired dye.  I mount a felt buffing wheel on the Dremel, set the speed of the Dremel at the lowest, and use Tripoli compound’s abrasive characteristic to remove the crust.  I first purge the wheel with a tightening wrench, to remove old compound and to soften the felt wheel.  I rotate the felt buffing wheel over the surface without a lot of downward pressure.  The speed of the Dremel and the compound do the work.  To reach the difficult angle between the shank and bowl, I switch to a smaller felt wheel.  After finishing with the Tripoli compound, I wet a cotton cloth with alcohol and wipe down the stummel to both lighten the aniline stain and to blend it.  Following this, I switch to a cloth buffing wheel and turn the speed up from 1 to 2, approximately 40% of full speed, the fastest being 5, and apply Blue Diamond compound in the same manner as the Tripoli.  I notice a few bright spots on the surface as well as around the nomenclature where the stain did not set consistently.  I applied a bit of black Fine Point Sharpie Pen and darker stain sticks to blend the areas.  I go over these areas again with the Blue Diamond buffing wheel to blend the spot staining.  It looks good. I then buff the stummel with a flannel cloth to clean it of compound dust before applying the carnauba wax.  Switching to another cotton cloth buffing wheel dedicated to carnauba wax, I reattach the stem to the stummel and apply the wax at the same 40% speed.  I apply 2 cycles of carnauba to the surface and stem, then I switch to a clean Dremel buffing wheel and buff the pipe yet again.  Finally, I give the pipe a rigorous hand-buffing with a micromesh cloth.

This French, probably Saint-Claude, made Bruyere Garantie Bent Billiard is stunning – the grain is beautiful.  As I mentioned before, I am drawn to the heel of the stummel, at the elbow where stummel and stem meet – the knot grain perfectly situated there is amazing and says something about the eyes and judgment of the pipe maker who chose the briar block and could see what it would become.  I’m very pleased with the results of this pipe.  If you would like to adopt this classic Bent Billiard, look at my store front at The Pipe Steward.  The sale of pipes benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria, an organization we work with helping women (and their children) who have been sexually exploited and trafficked.  Thanks for joining me!  

 

Banding and Restoring a Radford Ravel Rhodesian


Blog by Steve Laug

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peterson Kildare Marathon Restoration


This year has been a roller coaster ride for me; between added responsibilities of watching our new grandson, health issues, and a flair up of my spinal stenosis that put me down for almost two months, I have been unable to do any of my hobbies. Unfortunately this has put a couple of friends that I have pipes to work on in a state of limbo waiting on me. They are not easy clean-ups and they knew going in I am slow – but still I feel badly about it.

This Peterson Kildare 106 billiard had been in my possession for ages it seems to me at least. I have worked on it off and on, loosing track if my progress (and many of my notes and photos) of the process. It went out in the mail today I am happy to say (and the owner is probably happier to hear!).

I knew the pipe needed stem work mostly but when it arrived at my home it was in worse condition than I had anticipated. The stem was really badly gnawed on, with an extra hole bitten through on the bottom. The pipe was very dirty and there was a fill that had partly fallen out; that didn’t really bother the owner, as I recall, but it made me nuts! Here is a look at what the pipe looked like when I got it.

I began cleaning the internals which weren’t bad as it turns out. I cleaned the stummel with alcohol and cotton pads, removing the grime, exposing the missing fill even worse; I knew I had to deal with that as I went along. But first I began to ream the bowl while the stem soaked in an OxiClean bath. img_5027

The OxiClean bath and a scrubbing in clean, warm water with a green Scotch pad left the stem clean and free of oxidation. The amount of work the stem needed was even more apparent now; not only did the bit need a lot of work, there were some very large dents in the stem. I tried to raise the dents with heat but that really made no difference. So I decided to start the process of building the bit up (P-lip, a new for me repair) and filling in the dents with black CA glue and charcoal powder. This took many layers over many days (which turned into months); I had to raise, shape, repeat, over and over to get the P-lip back and to fill the extra hole in the bottom of the stem and the deep divots.

During the interim times I worked on the fill that was partly gone and one other dent that stream wouldn’t raise. I used coarse briar dust from filing not sanding (which I think takes dye better and is less apt to just be a black spot) and CA glue to fill the two spots (the worst one is visible in the very first photo in this post). I accidentally over did the fill, costing myself a lot of extra time. However the patch ended up blending in great in the end. After a lot of working the patch to blend I stained the pipe with a diluted Brown Fiebing’s leather dye, two coats, flamed on, if I remember right. After buffing with brown-Tripoli the stummel looked nice but too dark to see the really nice grain (birds eye and flame) so I wiped it down with alcohol on a cotton pad until it let the gain show through and re-buffed with brown-Tripoli. Now the stummel looked good to me. Back to the stem…

This P-lip drove me to the brink of insanity! Not having a P-lip on hand to compare it to made it more difficult. Filling the bottom hole (that wasn’t supposed to be there) was easy but shaping that top and bottom lip/ridge was a chore. The deep divot just did not want to be filled; the patch shrunk over and over. The huge, dented  draft hole on the top of the stem was a bother, too; I can’t tell you how many times I glued it shut trying to get that button rebuilt! In the end it came out pretty good; there are some tiny scratches visible if you look real close. But all things given, the owner was happy with that, especially since with the holidays and even more babysitting duties for me on the horizon, who knows when I would be able to finish it (again).

After finally getting the work done I finished the pipe off with a few coats of carnauba wax. I want to mention that I followed the instructions, more or less, for Dremel buffing for the stem and the waxing of the stummel. I currently can’t use my buffer so I wanted to give this option a try and am very pleased with the results. Mine is a variable speed Dremel and I used 5,000 RPM for the compounds and 10,000 RPM for the wax.

Hopefully with the new Dremel techniques I’ve learned (thanks again, Dal and Steve) and with some luck (and no small amount of “okay” from my wife) I will find a way to down size my work-needs to be able to work from my kitchen instead of my basement workshop, allowing me to work more when my mobility issues keep me from the stairs.

A Handmade Denmark Dublin Reborn


Blog by Greg Wolford

A week or so ago I went into a local antique shop that houses a variety of vendors. In the past I have found a few decent pipes here so I always have high hopes when I go there. This trip yielded a nice little haul of four pipes which I plan to restore over the next few weeks as i have time. The first two have already been started one: one completed and one still in the process. This post will mainly focus on a Dublin shape that is stamped on the shank Handmade over Denmark, with no other information on the pipe or stem. This is the pipe as it looked when I got it home:

Image

ImageImageImage

As you can see, it was heavily caked and had what I thought were some deep scratches on it, the rim was charred and damaged from knocking out the dottle, the finish was gone, and the stem was oxidized but had little chatter on it. I decided to start with reaming the back the cake. This bowl is a tapered one, as many Dublins are, and required the use of all four of the bits on my Castleford reamer. After reaming the cake back considerably, to an even, thin layer, I decided to sanitize it with my retort. And since one of the other of the lot I picked up needed very little work other than cleaning (or so I thought at the time) I decided to go ahead and retort it (no reaming needed on this one) while I had the equipment out and also do both stems at this time, too. The Dublin took several “runs” with the retort to produce a clean tube of alcohol at the end; the cherrywood that I was also doing only took two tubes, but I knew it hadn’t been used much and wouldn’t be very dirty.

After I finished the work with the retort I dropped the stems in a OxyClean bath and left them to soak while I cleaned the shanks out. The retort had done a nice job of taking out most of the gunk in the shank of the Dublin; it took comparatively fewer pipe cleaners and cotton swabs than most restorations. I expected the shank from the cherrywood to be all but clean with one or two passes and it sort of was; instead of tar I found the alcohol had “raised” a mahogany-like stain inside the shank – and a lot of it. I then noticed that there was some of this same color on the outside, bottom edge of the shank. The pipe itself wasn’t a reddish color but a more maple, orange-ish one and I hadn’t planned on refinishing it since the color was nice and I didn’t really see a need – until now. Once I noticed the red color it had to come off the outside and out of the shank. Now the entire finish was going to have to be removed so both pipes got wiped down several time with acetone and then put into the alcohol bath overnight.

Several hours later I removed the stems from their soak to begin to make them look new again. I was disappointed to see that the thin layer of petroleum jelly I’d put over the logo on the cherrywood’s stem had washed away and the “white” which had been there was now gone; the stem logo had only been about 60% colored and I’d have had to apply more white anyway so I suppose it wasn’t that big of a deal. I washed the stem well with dish soap and then sprayed them with some liquid Bar Keeper’s Friend, a new product to me (I’ve tried the powdered form before but not the spray). I scrubbed them off with a Miracle Eraser hoping for the good results I had gotten last time I used the eraser but they weren’t as good, though a lot of the oxidation had softened and been removed.

ImageImage

I now moved onto using the micro mesh pads, wet sanding them with 1500 & 1800 grit. At this point I noticed there was some oxidation that hadn’t come out well so I took some 400 grit wet/dry paper to the stems, then “painted” them with a Bic lighter, and then back to the 400 grit paper until the oxidation spots were gone. I then went back to wet sanding with the micro mesh 1500-3200 grits. After the 3200 grit I polished the stems with plastic polish and then dry sanded with the remaining grits through 12,000. Here are a few photos of the shine progression:

IMG_7744  IMG_7745IMG_7746

I now set the stems aside until the next day when the stummels would come out of their bath.

After removing the stummels from the alcohol bath I wiped them down and them dry a bit. Then I began cleaning the shanks again to make sure all the tar, gunk, and stain were gone.  I also cleaned as much gunk off the rims as I could so I could see what their condition really was; fair on the cherrywood and poor on the Dublin.  I decided to top the bowl of the Dublin and set the cherrywood aside to finish later. This what the Dublin looked like at this point:

IMG_7748 IMG_7749 IMG_7750 IMG_7751

You can see much better the condition of the rim here. You can also see that the “scratches” I referred to earlier are in reality fills that have fallen out; I scraped them with my dental pick to be 100% certain. These would have to be dealt with after I topped the bowl.

I used 400 girt wet.dry paper to top the bowl, checking it often to see how it progressed. The char marks wouldn’t come out completely but were reduced substantially. And the dings in the rim were nearly sanded out, in good enough shape that I was happy with them; the one on the outside edge would require me to sand at least another 1/16″ off the entire bowl and I didn’t want to remove anymore material than I already had.

IMG_7752

Now I turned my attention back to the fills. Taking the dental pick, I picked out the remaining fill material. I recently picked up a new product that I wanted to try on fills made by DAP and I thought this would be a good opportunity.IMG_7757

These sticks are a wax-like substance that softens with heat/friction. I chose the darkest of the four sticks and rubbed it into the two largest fill areas. The sticks worked easily into the areas that needed filled:

IMG_7758 IMG_7759

I buffed the excess off lightly with an old cotton rag, getting it into the fill well and just below the surface. I then put a bit of super glue over the new fills and let it dry. After it dried I sanded the fills back down to flush. There were also some areas that needed small scratches/marks sanded out on the bottom of the stummel so I did that at this time, too.

IMG_7764 IMG_7765 IMG_7766

I avoided sanding around the nomenclature and the shank in general. As you can see, the spot sanding left some obvious differences in the finish. But I didn’t want to sand any more than I needed to and knew that as it was I’d have to blend the stain. I decided to use the new-to-me wood stain markers for this job as well as the bowl’s rim. I applied the stain from the marker in small sections and blended it immediately with my finger after I put it on; I did this with all of the fills, spot sanding and the rim. The stain from the markers is very easy to apply in just the area you want it and blending by “finger” was very smooth and didn’t take long at all. I think that the pens did a great job and they have earned a permanent place in my restoration arsenal!

IMG_7767 IMG_7768 IMG_7773

I know took the entire pipe to the buffer and buffed the stummel with Tripoli and then the pipe with white diamond and carnauba wax, finishing with a few passes on a clean soft buff. This is the finished pipe:

20131023-160821.jpg20131023-160835.jpg

20131023-160848.jpg  20131023-160901.jpg

The DAP fill sticks did a pretty good job I think. In retrospect, I should have, perhaps, used a lighter color; the fills were so near the grain I thought darker would be better. I do think that they are something that I will explore using further and believe they have potential for some good results.

Using Super Glue to Repair or Replace Putty Fills


Blog by Steve Laug

On one of the forums another member and I were chatting bemoaning the red putty fills that so often are a part of old time pipes. I have no idea why they choose to use the red putty but as the pipe ages and the stain mellows with age the putty sticks out in all of its awfulness! I really do not like the look of red putty fills. They have a look like pink/reddish bubble gum. On smaller ones I used to pick them out and refill them with briar dust and wood glue. I always over filled them a bit as the glue shrunk as it dried and I found that the wood glue did not take the colour of the stain well. I left that discussion behind and went to work the next day with other things on my mind. I came home that evening and a PM was waiting for me. Another member remembered that an old pipe repairman friend of his used to use superglue and briar dust to repair fills. He asserted that once the glue was dry it was invisible and the stains would cover it as well.

I had this old bulldog in my pipes to be repaired box. There were two large fills on it that had more or less fallen out over time. What remained were two rather large holes or divots in the right side of this old pipe. The top arrow points to the one on the shank about mid way between the bowl and the band. The lower arrow points to the on the lower portion of the bowl.

Image

I used a dental pick to clean out the remaining red putty from the pits. I wanted the holes to be clean of any remnant of the putty. I also used cotton swabs and Isopropyl alcohol to wash out the areas where there was any putty left. Between the pick and the swabs the holes were cleaned out and open as they appear in the picture above.

I then took a tin of briar dust I have saved from pipes I have worked on over the past months. I keep some on hand for patches like these. I wet the end of the dental pick and dipped it into the briar dust and move it around to form a ball of the dust on the end of the pick. I used my finger to move the dust ball into the hole on the shank and the bowl. I patted the dust into the hole with the tip of a knife blade as I wanted a good tight fill. I then squeezed a few drops of super glue into the dust in the hole. As I did this the dust would shrink a bit and I added more dust and more super glue. When I was done the holes were filled and both had a small bump over where they used to be. I always over fill the holes so that when I sand them down they are smooth and I can feather in the fills with the rest of the briar. I was fortunate in this case that the holes were lined up with the grain marking around them. Once the glue dried (very quickly by the way) I sanded and checked to see if I had missed any spots. I wanted the entire surface smooth to the touch and under a jewelers loop. I sanded the spots down and blended them into the bowl surface. Once that was done I wiped the bowl down with a cotton cloth dampened with Isopropyl alcohol to remove any remaining dust.

I then set up my stain area and stained the pipe with an oxblood aniline stain. In this case I did not let it dry but wiped it on and wiped it off. I wanted to make sure that I was getting good coverage on the fills. I repeated the staining until the colour was what I was aiming for. The picture below is of the same pipe after staining and buffing with White Diamond. It was finished with several coats of carnauba wax. Can you see the fills that were evident above? I assure you that in person it is just as hard to see them.

Image

A Tiny Pair – Refurbishing and repairing an old couple


Blog by Steve Laug

This morning I decided to work on these two old timers – a little mini bulldog and a mini bent billiard. Both are old as is clear from the orific button on the stems and the shape of button on both (the round hole in a crowned surface of the button – see the photo below).

Image

The first is a no name bulldog with a gold band on it. It has EP on the band which I believe means Electro Plated. The stem was in pretty fair shape though the previous owner had cut a small groove in the stem about a 1/8 inch ahead of the button on the top and the bottom. The bowl was in pretty good shape though it was darkened near the band and there was a deep cut on the shank about mid way along toward the bowl and on the bowl side – both on the right side and visible below. The photo with a penny (1 cent piece) gives a good picture of the size of this little dog. The bowl was pretty clean so all I needed to do was wipe it out with a cotton swab and isopropyl alcohol. I did the same with the shank and the stem as well. It was pretty black and tarry on the inside of the stem and shank. I had to use a paper clip to break through the clog that was in the shank about mid way to the bowl and also in the stem.

ImageImageImage

I worked on the bowl and shank exterior with sand paper to remove the finish around the two cuts in that I was going to work on. I washed off the surface after sanding with acetone to clean off the briar dust and the remaining finish. Once it dried I decided to fill the cuts with clear super glue. The process is pretty straight forward – I drip a drop in both holes and lay it aside until it dries. Then I add another drop, lay it aside and repeat until the cut is filled. I find that the clear super glue is a great way to fill the cuts or pits as it allows the briar to show through clearly and once it is stained it virtually disappears. Once the super glue dried I sanded the spots with 240 grit sandpaper and then with 400 and 600 grit wet dry and water to smooth off the spots and remove any of the over flow around the spots. I want the super glue to fill only the spot and not carry over onto the clean briar so I sand it down level with the surface it is filling. I then sanded the entire bowl with micromesh pads from 1500-6000 grit and then wiped the bowl down with isopropyl alcohol on a soft cloth.

I then worked on the stem and sanded down the grooves to make the stem smooth once again. I used the same pattern of sanding – 240, 400, 600 grit sandpaper and micromesh – 1500, 1800, 2400, 3200, 4000 and 6000 grit. Once I had the grooves and the stem clean and pretty polished I took it to the buffer and used White Diamond on both the stem and bowl. I took it back to the work table and gave it a coat of Obsidian Oil and set the stem aside while I stained the bowl. I wanted to keep a lighter look to the bowl so I used some oxblood stain and wiped it on and off before it had time to dry. I gave it two coats and then flamed it. I buffed the bowl with White Diamond and then gave it a coat of carnauba wax. I also polished the band and gave it a coat of wax. Here is the finished pipe. The two cuts or pits have disappeared on the right side of the bowl (top picture).

ImageImageImageImage

I finished it and put it aside to work on the bent billiard. It was in a bit rougher shape than the bulldog. It is also a no name old timer with a gold band – very tarnished. The bowl was very grimy on the outside and the finish was cloudy and dark. The stem was grooved in the same manner as the bulldog – probably same owner making his own comfort bit to enable him to clench these little guys.

ImageImage

I scrubbed the bowl down with acetone on a cotton boll and removed the finish and the grime. The top was a bit dented so I gave it a very light topping and then sanded out the inside of the bowl and worked on the roundness of the inner rim as it was a bit out of round.  I used a small piece of sandpaper to bevel the edge enough to repair the roundness. I cleaned out the shank and the stem. This pipe was also clogged in both the stem and the shank so I use a paper clip in the shank and to open the end of the stem from each end. I then used small pipe cleaners soaked with alcohol until they came out clean. I set the bowl aside to work on the stem.

Image

The stem needed the same treatment as the one on the bulldog to remove the grooves from the previous owner. Fortunately on both pipes they were not very deep so it did not change the profile of the stem. I sanded the entirety of the stem down and used the same pattern of sandpaper and micromesh as above. I buffed this one with Tripoli before finishing with the micromesh. I gave it a coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to stain the bowl.

I cleaned the bowl exterior one last time and then stained it with oxblood stain – wipe on and wiped off pretty quickly several times to get good coverage. I polished the gold band with the highest grit micromesh pad (6000) and then gave the bowl and band a coat of wax by hand and once it dried buffed it by hand with a soft cloth. I put the stem back on and took it to the buffer and buffed the entirety with White Diamond followed by carnauba wax.

ImageImageImageImage

Here is a picture of the pair together so their diminutive size is clearly seen. They are incredibly light with group one sized bowls. They are clean and ready to smoke.

Image