Tag Archives: repairing tooth marks

Restoring a Sad, Old MLC Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

This older MLC bent billiard is a turn of the 20th century pipe. The initials stand for Mary Linkman Company. The company was named for the mother of the same Linkman who eventually branded pipes under that same name and then eventually became the Dr. Grabow pipe manufacturer with which we are familiar. If you have followed this blog for a while you have come to know that I love really old pipes and this one fits the bill. It is stamped MLC in an oval with no other stamping on the shank. The ferrule is brass and has faux hallmarks on the left side. They are worn but still readable with a bright light and a lens. It is another small pipe, slightly under 4 inches long and 1 ½ inches tall. The stem is Bakelite or Redmanol and has a lot of small spidering cracks in the flat portions of the stem on both sides. Both sides of the saddle are split the entire length of the saddle. There is very little tooth chatter or and minor tooth marks on both sides near the button. Jeff took the photos that follow before started the cleanup. (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-m6.html)The pipe was in really rough shape. The finish was worn and spotted with paint specks, grime and nicks in the briar. The stem was split and worn. The bone tenon looked good but the band on the shank was loose and spun around the shank. The wear and tear on the brass band and the tarnish left is a mottled mess. The bowl had been reamed somewhere in the process so the cake was not thick. The lava on the rim was light. The inner and outer edge of the bowl was undamaged. The rim close up shows the cake and the peeling lava on the surface of the bowl.Jeff took photos of the sides of the bowl and the bottom side to show the wear and tear on the finish. There were some deep gouges in the briar and a lot of paint speckles on the briar. The stamping on the left side of the shank is quite clear – MLC in an oval. It had originally been gold leaf but it was worn. The stamping on right side of the oval was lighter than the rest of the stamping.I did some digging on the net to see what I could find out about the MLC brand. I knew that it was a Linkman pipe but could not remember much about it. I turned to my go to site for quick information – Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/M._Linkman_%26_Co). The information did not add much to my understanding other than pin down the date to the late 1890s or early 1900s. Included in the article was a photo of Mary Linkman, her son Louis and August Fisher at their Chicago Office. The photo is from Mary’s obituary and is a fascinating piece of history. The scan of the photo and obituary are courtesy of August Fisher’s granddaughter.Jeff took some photos of the stem. The right side of the saddle stem was split from the end up to the transition to the blade of the stem. The right side also had a crack. It looked to me that someone had turned the bone tenon too deep into the stem and split the saddle. The flat surfaces of the top and bottom of the stem were filled with a series of small spidering cracks. The stem, like the bowl was covered with paint flecks or spray. You can see from the first photo that the band has been turned all the way around so that the worn faux hallmarks are upside down and on the wrong side. Jeff cleaned the exterior of the pipe with some Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush and rinsed it off under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth and the soap had removed the paint flecks and the deeply ground in grime on the finish. He ran pipe cleaners and alcohol through the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem to remove dust and debris that had collected there. He carefully scrubbed out the cracks and splits in the sides of the saddle stem using a tooth brush and rinsing it in water. Once the pipe was clean, he packed it up and sent it my way for the repair and restoration work. I took photos of the pipe when I unwrapped it on my worktable. It is an intriguing little pipe that caught my attention. When I unscrewed the stem the ferrule fell off in my hand. I laid out the parts of the pipe and took the following photo. It shows the nicks, dents, sandpits and flaws in the briar. The band looked as if it was never glued to the shank. The briar is clean and the inside of the ferrule had no remnants of glue. It was clean.I took some close up photos of the stem to show the cracks and splits in the saddle portion. The stem was worn and battered. The bone tenon was darkened from tobacco smoke and tars. The edges on the tenon were worn down and when the stem was on the pipe it was over turned or over clocked.  I cleaned out the cracks in the side of the saddle stem with a dental pick and a damp cotton swab until the inside of the crack was clear of debris that would cause the stem repair to be very visible. I dried the stem off with a cotton pad. I filled in the cracks on both sides of the stem with amber super glue and set the stem aside to dry.When the repair had cured I sanded it smooth to blend it into the rest of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I sanded all of tooth chatter and marks out of the surface of the stem as well to smooth out all of the damage. I wanted it to disappear into the amber Bakelite. After I had smoothed out the repair I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil and set the stem aside to dry. (I almost forgot to add this piece of information. Just before I polished the stem I painted the threads on the tenon with clear fingernail polish to build them up so the stem would align properly when I put it in place.) The bowl needed a lot of work. I wiped the bowl down with acetone and filled in the nicks, dents, flaws and sandpits in the briar with clear super glue. I sanded the fills smooth with 220 grit sandpaper until they blended into the surface of the briar. I wiped the bowl down again with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the sanding debris. I gave the shank end a coat of white all-purpose glue and put the ferrule in place with the faux hallmarks aligned with the stamping on the shank side. I left it to dry and worked on another pipe for a while. Once the glue had set I sanded the bowl and the ferrule with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to smooth out the scratches left behind from sanding with the 220 grit paper. The photos below show the bowl at this point in the process of the restoration. I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain and flamed it to set it in the grain. I figured that the dark brown stain would hide the repairs and give the bowl the original rich colour. I set it aside to cure while I went to work for the day.I buffed the bowl with red Tripoli on the buffing wheel to remove some of the heavy coat of stain. I sanded the bowl with 2400-6000 grit micromesh sanding pads to make the finish more translucent so the grain would stand out when it was polished. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and set it aside to dry. I touched up the gold filled MLC Oval with Rub’n Buff European Gold. I applied it with a cotton swab and hand buffed the excess off with a cotton pad.I carefully buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The photos of the finished pipe are shown below. It has come a long way from what it looked like when I started. It turned out to be a beautiful pipe that has served pipe men well for well over 100 years. Thanks for looking.

Restoring a Lovely Carved Pine Cone Bent Meerschaum


Blog by Steve Laug

I think Jeff was drawn to this one because of the interesting carving on the bowl and shank, the developing colour on the meerschaum, and the colour and patterns of the acrylic stem. I think he knew I would be interested in it as well. It came in a case that was a bit large for the pipe so I think it may not have been the original case for this meerschaum. Even though it is too large, it does protect it and holds it firmly in place. The shank and the bottom of the bowl have darkened nicely. The rest of the pipe is also darkening with the colour moving from the dark bowl bottom and lightening as you move up the bowl. The rim was dirty with tars and oils and there was a cake in the bowl. The stem has tooth marks and chatter on the top and the underside near the button. The first five photos were the ones that the EBay seller posted with the description of the pipe. To me the pipe showed a lot of potential and I was looking forward to hearing from Jeff if he thought it was a nice as it looked once it arrived in Idaho. We talked and he was pleased with the overall look of the pipe. There was one of the ends of a pinecone “leaf” that was cracked and poorly repaired but otherwise it just needed a cleanup.

Jeff took photos of the pipe when it arrived in Idaho before he started his cleanup work. It looked pretty good – the seller’s photos and description matched what he saw when he had it in hand. When he opened the case the left side of the pipe looked really good. There were no chips of cracks, not damaged areas on the bowl side. The fit of the stem to the shank was perfect.He took this photo of the pipe when he took it out of the case and I was hooked. I really liked the sense of how the pipe captured the pine cone. The shank and base are the stalk and branch that the pine cone hangs on. The sides of the bowl curving over the rim gave the clear picture of a pine cone. It is well carved.The grooves and small crevices on the rim top were filled in with tars and oils. The deep open areas of the rim were not visible under the grime. There was also a lot of dust deep in the grooves of the carving. The underside of the shank and the bottom of the bowl also formed the cluster that held the cone. The bottom of the bowl had darkened significantly to a rich brown patina. The shank had darkened to a dark brown with shades of the rich brown peeking through the grooves. The swirls of colour in the Lucite stem match those in the patterns of the bowl. The close up photo of the rim top shows the cake that had formed in the bowl and the thick lava that was filling in the grooves of the carved rim top. The rich browns of the underside of the bowl are really beautiful and give the pipe character. The transition from the bowl to shank shows the various shades of colour that were developing in the meerschaum. The only flaw if you will, or damage that I could find in the carving was one of the “leafs” of the cone was cracked on the bottom third of the bowl on the right side. It had been repaired with a black rubber cement like substance but there was a lot of seepage from the glue below the repair and the crack had never fully sealed. At least the broken portion was not lost as is often the case in pipes that we purchase as estates.Jeff removed the stem from the shank and exposed the Delrin push tenon on the end of the stem and the fitting that was in the shank itself. The amber portions of the stem were very translucent.The turned stem looked good with the pipe bowl and with a little imagination you can envision a tree branch holding the pine cone in place. The third and fourth photo below are close up photos of the stem surface and show the damage to the button surface and the tooth chatter on both sides of the stem. I love the swirling patterns in the stem material as they remind me of the colours of pine sap that I used to get all over my hands when I was a kid cleaning up our yard. I feel like there is a certain redundancy to this section of the blogs that I do on my restoration projects. But I write it each time to keep the cleaning process focused for those of you who read the blogs to learn our methods. So here it is again. Jeff cleaned the pipe with his usual thoroughness – he reamed the bowl and cleaned out the internals with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush and rinsed it under running water to remove the soap. He focused his work on the rim top to remove the cake and lava on the grooves and crevices of carving there. He cleaned up the stem surface and the internals in the stem to remove the tars and oils in the airway. When the pipe arrived in Vancouver it was in clean shape and ready to be restored. I took some photos of the before I started to work on it to show its condition. Jeff was able to remove the grime and build up from the grooves of the rim top. When I received it the lava was gone from the rim and it was clean. His cleaning had still left behind the patina on the meerschaum so it still showed some colour. The bowl was spotless and the cake was gone leaving behind bare meerschaum walls.The close up photos of the stem show the tooth marks on the top and underside of the button. They are the only deep marks on the stem. I have circled them in red in the photos below. The rest of the stem has tooth chatter but no deep tooth marks.I decided to repair the broken/chipped piece of meerschaum on the right side of the bowl. It was loose so I removed it and cleaned off the black epoxy that held the piece to the bowl. I scraped off the glue and cleaned the piece with a cotton swab and alcohol. I was able to remove much of the brown/black glue overflow between the pieces. Some still remained but it was not nearly as thick as before. I put drops of clear super glue on the chip itself and on the area where it fit and slid it in  place with the point of a dental pick. I aligned the two parts and set the bowl aside to dry. The fit looks far better, though there is still a thin black line between the two parts. It is shown in the photo below.I filled in the tooth marks on the top and underside of the button with amber super glue. Once the glue had dried I sanded the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the repairs in to the button surface. I sanded out the tooth chatter on the stem surface until it was smooth. I used a needle file to recut, shape and clean up the sharp edge of the button. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiping the stem down with damp cotton pads to remove the sanding dust. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads to polish it further and wiped it down after each pad. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. A soft touch is critical when polishing acrylic – a heavy hand and you overheat the acrylic and it melts and makes a mess. Melt it and it makes more work for you. I buff gently to keep from making more work. I gave the bowl a light coat of Clapham’s Beeswax Polish. The polish needs to be heated and put on lightly to ensure that it does not fill in the grooves in the meer. I hand buffed it with a shoe brush and a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. I put the stem back on the bowl and hand buffed the pipe a final time to give it a deeper shine. The colouration that is beginning to work up the shank toward the bowl is beautiful. The colours on the bowl are progressively darker as you work your way up the bowl. The rim colour once it was cleaned is getting darker as well but is no longer coloured with tars and oils. The acrylic stem goes really well with the colouring meer bringing out some of the same colours in both as the stem darkens. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Bowl diameter: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. I think this is a pipe that will join my collection. I really like the stem and bowl and how they work together – the pine cone shape and the variegated stem work together like a branch and a pine cone. Thanks for looking.

Cleaning up an Echt Bernstein Dublin Shaped Meerschaum


Blog by Steve Laug

Something about the shape of this old meerschaum canted Dublin or Zulu that caught my brother’s eye so he picked it up and added it to the lot he was cleaning up to send my way. The worn red leather case had gold letters embossed on the edge just above and below the latch. At first I thought Echt Bernstein was the brand name but after a bit my high school German kicked in and I realised that it was not. The name was German and it read on the top edge of the case Echt Bernstein which means Genuine Amber and on the lower edge read Echt Naturmeerschaum which translates as Genuine Natural (Block) Meerschaum. The pipe is quite probably of Austrian origin and could have been made by Strambach. That is not provable because the pipe is not marked at all. But the German stamping on the fitted case lends itself to that idea.I looked up Strambach on Pipedia to see if there were any hints about the pipe I had in hand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Strambach). I quote from that article some of the pertinent information.

In 1904 Edmund Jolitschke founded a company that, at the begining, produced cigar and cigarette mouthpieces and later meerschaum pipes. In 1922, Robert Strambach became the leader of the company and he expanded the business. He produced meerschaum pipes and Calabash pipes, and he developed a system to produce the meerschaum mass (this is a convolute of small sepiolite pieces, grinded down, and pressed together with a bonding agent). In 1974, Edith Corrieri succeeded to her father. She is a master-turner, and today, she is the only producing high quality calabashes and meerschaum pipes in Europe…

…(ed. quoting Edith Corrieri, current owner) My company was started in 1904 by my uncle Edmund, and in 1922 my father Robert took over the firm. In the following fifty years my father expanded the firm with many ideas e.g. he developed a special technique to transform raw meerschaum into workable material (so-called meerschaum masse), the secret formula to which he revealed to me shortly before his death. As I was the only child I had the chance in 1974 to become one of the first females in the field of pipe making. After three years of training I received a diploma as Master of Pipemaking. Today we are the only manufacturer of Meerschaum and Calabash Pipes in the European Union and are still making our pipes according the same age-old formula. In 1981 STRAMBACH PIPE CO. was awarded the Austrian “State Seal” for exceptional quality.”

Jeff took photos of the pipe as he opened it and removed it from the case. All of the previous and the following photos were taken before he cleaned up the pipe. Inside the lid of the case it read in English the same thing that had been stamped on the exterior of the case – Real Block Meerschaum in an arc over a six point star and Genuine Amber in an arc under the star.Jeff removed the pipe from the case and took some photos of it fresh from the case. The shape of the bowl was quite beautiful and there was colour beginning to happen on spots on the bowl and rim edge. The rim was exceptional dirty with a lava overflow from the cake that had formed in the bowl. The stem appeared to be a replacement – not genuine amber but an acrylic amber that obviously had been added later in the life of the pipe. The stem showed tooth marks and chatter on both the top and underside near the button. The slot in the button was not smooth but looked to be much like the slot cut in stem blanks that I purchase currently. The shape and the colour seem older but I cannot be certain of that. I know that it is not Bakelite as the colour goes all the way down into the bite marks and does not lighten as it goes deeper. Jeff took a close up photo of the rim top to show the build up and the darkening – not colouration of the meerschaum but burn and tars that was on the surface of the meer. The second photo below shows the shape of the bottom of the bowl. The meerschaum is quite clean and shows little scratching and damage. The smooth and gentle curves show a quality of carving that is not seen too much in more current production meers.The tenon on the pipe is a metal threaded tenon that screws directly into the mortise of the meerschaum and directly into the stem. The tenon has the same threads on both ends so it is reversible and interchangeable. It was incredibly dirty and caked with tars, oils and debris. The airway in the tenon was quite plugged with the tars.The stem itself had tooth chatter and marks on both the top and the underside near the button. In the photos it appears to be white but in reality as the stem is cleaned up the acrylic material is the same colour all the way through the bite marks. Jeff cleaned the pipe with his usual thoroughness – he reamed the bowl and cleaned out the internals with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap. And worked over the rim top to remove the cake and lava on the surface of the meerschaum. He also removed the marks and grime that was on the exterior of the bowl and shank. When it arrived in Vancouver it was in clean shape and ready to be restored. I took some photos of the before I started to work on it to show its condition. While Jeff was able to remove the tars and lava buildup on the rim top there was still some debris and buildup on the surface. As I examined it I could see that it sat on top of the rim surface rather than down in the meerschaum itself. The surface of the meer was smooth and undamaged so cleaning off the layer on the rim top should come off easily.Jeff was also able to remove the debris around the bite marks in the top and underside of the stem surface. You can see from the photos that the stem material remains the same deep into the marks.I used a fine grit sanding sponge to gently top the bowl. It is a flat surface and I turned the bowl into the sanding sponge. I carefully kept the rim flat against the surface of the sanding block. I worked it on the sanding block until all of the remaining buildup was gone. I polished the bowl and rim with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads. I wiped the meer down with a damp cotton pad. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with the damp cotton pad after each micromesh pad. The photos below tell the story. I lightly sanded the area around the tooth marks to provide a rough surface to provide a surface for the repair to bond to the stem material. I cleaned out the tooth marks with a dental pick and alcohol on a cotton swab to remove any debris on the surface. I repaired both sides of the stem with amber super glue and set the stem aside to dry in the block of ebony.When the glue had cured I filed the repairs close to the surface of the stem and sanded them with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface. The repair on the underside of the stem still showed some damage so I refilled it with amber superglue and smoothed out the repair. When it dried I sanded it with 220 grit sand paper. The third photo below shows the underside after the touch up repair was blended into the stem surface.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and continued to wipe it down after each pad. When I had finished polishing it with the 12000 grit pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the pipe and buffed the bowl and stem lightly with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba and the bowl several coats of Clapham’s Beeswax Polish. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The dimensions on this pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Bowl diameter: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 inches. The photos below show the finished pipe. It looks far better in person than in these photos. If you are interested in adding the pipe to your collection contact me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. It will be going on the rebornpipes store shortly. Thanks for looking.

Restoring a Thompson Freehand 529 with Cumberland Stem


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the worktable is a freehand with a plateau rim. It has a contrast black and red stain – red on the high spots of the rustication and black in the nooks and crannies. The rim shows the same pattern or reds and black. The shank has a band on it that is briar with brass on either side of it. The pipe was very dirty on the rim and the inside when my brother picked it up at an estate sale in Idaho. The rim had an overflow of the thick cake that filled the bowl. It had a Cumberland style acrylic saddle stem. The stem was in pretty rough shape with deep tooth marks on both the top and underside near the button and tooth marks on the button itself. There was also a bite through on the top side of the stem – mid stem just ahead of the button. It was not a large hole but it was a hole nonetheless. My brother took the following photos before he cleaned up the pipe for me.From a previous blog I wrote and one that Robert Boughton wrote I remembered that Thompson pipes were made for Thompson Cigar Company. This particular pipe was stamped on the left side of the shank with the words Thompson in script over the shape number 529 and Italy. I know that Thompson Cigar Company had pipes made in Italy, the Netherlands (Big Ben), and Turkey (the Meerschaum). Many of their Italian pipes were made by Savinelli. In checking the shape numbers of Savinelli pipes I did not find a listing for a 529 but there were others around that shape number.The photo Jeff took of the rim top and bowl shows the thick cake in the bowl and the lava overflow on the rim top. The insides of the pipe looked as if they had never been cleaned before. The beauty of the mess was that it probably protected the plateau top from damage.The underside of the bowl shows the rustication pattern on the briar and the cleanness of the exterior of the pipe.The next photo, though a little out of focus shows the stamping on the shank. It is very readable and clear.The Cumberland acrylic stem looks very good with the red and black of the stain on the rusticated bowl. The shank band or twin brass bands separated by a briar insert makes a stunning separator for the shank and the stem.The stem was in rough condition as mentioned above. The top of the stem had a lot of tooth chatter and the button was chewed down. There was a small hole in the middle of the stem just below the button. The underside of the stem also showed a lot of tooth chatter and bite marks.The rim top looked really good once he had removed all the built up tar and lava. The high spots and the valleys in contrasts of red and black.The stem was clean but the topside showed a lot of damage. There were tooth marks and the hole to deal with and the large dent in the top of the button edge on the stem top. The underside had some deep tooth marks and some chatter.I sanded the damaged areas on the top and underside of the stem to prepare for the repairs to the tooth marks and dents. I was able to remove much of the chatter and only left behind the deep marks in the surface of the stem.I coated a pipe cleaner with Vaseline and inserted it in the stem below the hole in the stem surface. The greased pipe cleaner would prevent the super glue repair from sticking to the pipe cleaner or clogging the airway. I filled in the hole and the deep tooth marks on both sides of the stem with clear super glue. I used my drilled block to hold the stem so both sides of the stem would dry without interference from my work surface. While the repair cured I buffed the bowl with a soft cotton buffing pad to bring up a shine. Once the repair had cured I used a needle file on both sides of the stem to bring the repair even with the surface of the stem. I sanded the repaired areas with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth them out and blend them into the surface of the stem. The photos below tell the story. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed it with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I buffed lightly to keep the polish from getting in the grooves of the rustication. I buffed the stem to polish out the remaining scratches. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I gave the rusticated bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a shoe brush. I buffed the entire pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Diameter of the chamber: ¾ inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store soon. If you are interested in adding this one to your collection email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

Restoring a French made Horn Stem Folk Art Rhodesian


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe to the worktable was one my brother picked up on EBay. I think the folk art carving in the shank and bowl drew him to this one. It has what looks like a poppy on each side of the bowl with leaves on the front and back as well as on the shank and the bottom of the bowl. The left side of the shank has the word CANNES carved into the briar and contained in rectangle with a thin box carved around it. I believe this is the French city of Cannes which is located on the French Riviera. I wonder if the pipe man who carved the pipe might have come from there or at least dreamed of that place. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Vielle Bruyer over Corse which translates from the French as Old Briar Corsica. The horn stem makes me wonder about the possibility of the pipe being a trench art piece carved in the trenches of WWI. I am not sure I will ever know for certain but I think that it would be an interesting addition to the story of this old pipe. It would be great to be able to add the information about the carver to the story of the carving and why he chose what he did – poppies and leaves with the word CANNES on the shank side.The pipe was dirty with grit and grime deep into the petals and centre of each flower and lines and grooves of the leaves. The horn stem was dried and was rough and dirty as well. It was also well gnawed leaving behind deep tooth gouges on the top of the stem and a bite through on the underside of the stem. The button was worn down and the slot in the end was almost filled in with tars and oils. It made me wonder how air was pulled through the shank through the stem.The photo below shows the dirt and stains from the smoker’s hands on the shank and the bowl and the stem itself. It was an oily dark substance that had coloured the briar and the horn stem.Jeff took the above photos and the ones that follow to show the condition of the pipe before he began to do his magic on them cleaning them up. The bowl had a thick cake in it that had overflowed like lava to the top of the bowl. The inner edge of the bowl had nicks and cuts in it that looked like it had been damaged somewhere along its long life by a reaming with a knife. The next two photos show the bowl and the rim. The exterior of the bowl also had spots of paint on the briar that had been either dripped or smeared on the bowl sides. Jeff took some photos of the sides and the bottom of the bowl to give a clear picture of the carving on the pipe – the flowers and the leaves. The anonymous carver had carved a rectangle around the stamping on the right side of the shank. The stamping is clear and readable and as mentioned above translates as Old Briar Corsica. You can also see all the debris in the grooves of the carving. At the shank/stem junction you can see a small crack opening in the horn stem.The next two photos show the bowl with the stem removed. The stem had a spiral stinger screwed into the metal tenon on the stem. The tenon itself was also threaded and screwed into the horn of the stem.The next two photos show the damage to the stem surface. Not only were there tooth marks on both sides of the stem and a bite through on the underside near the button there was also a lot of damage to the button itself. The horn was very dirty and was rough and worn feeling. The horn had dried out and was close to delaminating. The first two photos give an overview look at the stem  and the second set of photos show a close up view of the damage at the button end. Jeff carried out his usual detailed cleanup on the pipe. He reamed the bowl with his PipNet and Savinelli Fitsall Reamer and took the cake all the way back to bare briar. He scraped and scrubbed the rim and the bowl with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap until he had cleaned off all of the oils and debris from the bowl. He scrubbed the horn stem with the soap as well until it was clean. He rinsed the pipe and stem under running water to remove the grime and the soap. He cleaned the internals of the pipe with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. He unscrewed the spiral stinger and cleaned out the airway in the stem with alcohol and cotton swabs. Once the pipe was clean it joined a shipment to me in Canada. I took photos of it before I started my part of the work. It is a pleasure to work on clean pipes. I just had a thought about the pipe. There is something about the shape and the French stamping that makes me think it may well be an old Butz Choquin 1025 Rhodesian. I have a BC Rhodesian 1025 on my work table so I have included it below. You can see the similarity of the shapes. He cleaned the rim top and in doing so revealed the damage to the top of the bowl. The rim top has some deep gouges from the flat surface and the inner edge has some large nicks as well. Fortunately none of these go too deep into the briar so it should clean up well. The walls of the bowl look very good.The stem looks better than it did in the pre-clean photos but it is still in very rough condition. The ground in grease and grime in the surface of the horn has been removed. I am hoping that it will polish up better once I have repaired the damage on the stem.I sanded the areas around the damaged spots near the button and on the button with 220 grit sandpaper in preparation for repairing it with amber super glue. I also recut the edge of the button to give the button area definition before I repaired the button top and bottom as well.I pushed my wedge of cardboard covered with packing tape into the slot in the button so that I could repair the hole in the underside of the stem. This usually is a very simple repair. This time it got complicated. The wedge allowed the amber glue to slip past it into the airway in the stem. I was able to remove the wedge but the airway itself was sealed closed. Arghhhhh… just what I needed, more work on this old stem. I slipped a pipe cleaner into the stem from the tenon end and measuring it could see that the clog was not thick. I could put a pipe cleaner into the slot as well. From this I surmised that the blockage was about ¼ inch thick and it was hardened super glue. I decided to use a 1/16 inch drill bit and using my Dremel on the slowest speed carefully redrilled the airway. It is easy to go too far when drilling so I chucked it deep in the Dremel leaving only enough bit to penetrate the clog. I went straight in and broke through easily. I went in from each side of the slot as well to clean out the Y of the slot. I let out a deep breath – I had repaired my faux pas. I apologize for the fact that the whole process flustered me enough that I did not take any photos of this part of the process.

The good news was that the hole in the underside of the stem was closed off. I filled it with some more of the amber super glue and also added some more to the tooth marks and the split on the left side of the stem at the shank end. I have a piece of ebony that I have drilled out the size of a tenon so I stuck the stem in that to allow the glue to cure. The drilled block allows me to repair both sides of the stem and let them cure at the same time.Once the glue had cured I used a needle file to recut and reshape the edge of the button on both sides of the stem. I also reshaped the button surface on both sides at the same time. I used a round needle file to shape the slot in the end of the button and smooth it out. I set the stem aside for a while and turned to address the damage to the rim top. I topped the bowl on a sanding board with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage surface of the rim. I used a folded piece of 180 and 220 grit sandpaper to give the inner edge of the rim a slight bevel. This bevel took care of the damage to the inside edge of the bowl. I wiped the bowl down with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the remaining finish and the grime from the sanding process. I set the bowl aside to let the acetone evaporate and worked on the stem again. I sanded the repaired areas with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the surrounding horn. While they are shinier than the rest of the stem at this point they have filled in the surfaces and the hole and the stem is smooth once again.I worked on the slot in the button with a folded piece of sandpaper to smooth it out. I will need to do more work on that area but the shape is correct. That was the last remnant of the clogged airway that had to go. The flow of air through the stem is even and smooth now.The stem was loose in the shank so I painted the tenon with some clear fingernail polish to give it enough bite that it would sit snug in the shank. Once the polish had dried I pushed the stem into the shank to check out the fit. I took a picture of the pipe as it stood at this point in the process. I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain and flamed it with a Bic lighter set the stain in the grain of the briar. I repeated the process until the coverage was even all the way around the bowl. I flamed it and set it aside to dry.When the stain had dried for an hour I took it off the stand and took photos of the bowl at this point. The scratches in the briar are very clear in the photos. I was going to need to do more work on the bevel of the inner edge of the rim as the damage was very evident in the top down view of the bowl. Before I worked on that though I wiped the bowl down with acetone on cotton pads to lighten the stain and make it more transparent. At this point I paused on the finish of the bowl and reworked the bevel of the inner edge of the rim with 220 grit sandpaper. I made the bevel a bit steeper to smooth out the damage on right and the left side.I wiped the rim down with alcohol on a cotton pad and restained the area with the dark brown aniline stain. I repeated the wipe down with alcohol to get the finish on the rim to match the bowl colours. I sanded the smooth surfaces of the briar with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and wiped the bowl down with alcohol after each pad. I wanted to lighten the high spots on the carving while leaving the grooves and deeper marks on the leaves dark. I polished it further with 3200-4000 grit micromesh sanding pads to remove more of the brown stain and polish the briar further.  I finished polishing the bowl with 6000-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. Each grit pad brought more shine to the briar. The scratches in the smooth parts of the bowl add character to the old pipe and probably tell tales of pockets and packs that the pipe was carried in those many years ago. With the bowl  polished I turned to polishing the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiped it down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and wiped it down with the oil after each pad. I screwed the spiral stinger into the tenon before doing the final polishing. I finished the polishing with the 6000-12000 grit pads and I gave it a coat after each pad. The rubdown with oil was finished and I set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond. I used a light touch on the briar so as not to get the polish in the grooves of the carving. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth and it really deepened the shine. What started as a tired looking piece of memorabilia has turned into a beautiful looking pipe that is ready to load with a favourite tobacco and be enjoyed. The horn stem just shines with a new translucence that was long lost when I startd the process. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. If you can add any information to the brand or to the carving leave a message in the comments below. Thanks for your help. Thanks for journeying with my on this old timer.

Cannes46Cannes47 Cannes50

Breathing life into a Superior Real Briar Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

This older C.P.F. style bulldog with an ornate rim cap and shank end cap was another pipe that my brother and I found in our pipe hunt in Montana. That hunt yielded a lot of older C.P.F. and WDC pipes from between the late 1890s and the early 1900s. This one is certainly from that time period. The briar is very worn and the finish is gone. The metal rim cap and shank cap or ferrule are brass coloured but blackened with oxidation. The top of the rim is thickly caked with the lava overflow from the heavy cake in the bowl itself. The stem is either Redmanol or Bakelite and has some cracking near the shank/stem junction but nothing that affects the fit of the stem to the shank. There is some tooth chatter and tooth marks near the button on the top and underside of the stem. My brother took the photos that follow before he did his clean up.The pipe has some faint stamping on the left side of the shank. The photo below shows the condition of the stamping. It clearly reads SUPERIOR in a diamond. There seems to be other stamping that is faint underneath SUPERIOR in the diamond but I am unable to read it. On the outside of the diamond there is stamping on either side. It is faint but to the left under the edge of the diamond is faint stamping Real and under the right edge of the diamond it reads Briar. There appears to be something underneath the diamond going across the shank but it is not clear enough for me to be able to read.The next two photos show the pipe from two different angles to give an idea of what the pipe looked like in its entirety. There is some real promise with this old pipe.The rings around the cap on the bowl are in excellent condition. There is some debris lodged in them but there are no chips or cracks in the ring. The finish on the briar is spotty with small remnants of the original finish in place. The grain on the pipe is quite nice underneath the grime. The bowl has a thick cake in it and the lava has flowed over on top of the rim top. The metal rim top is blackened and has a thick cake of lava on it. It is hard to know what the inner edge of the rim will look like at this point because of the cake in the bowl. The carvings/castings in the metal rim cap and the shank end are dirty and have a lot of grime built up in the grooves and crannies. The Bakelite/Redmanol stem had tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem from the button forward about an inch. There were some small cracks in the shank end of the stem that would need to be addressed in the repair.Jeff did an amazing job of reaming out the bowl on this one and revealed that the metal cap was folded over and lined the inner edge of the rim thus protecting the rim from damage. He was able to ream the bowl back to bare briar without damaging this inner rim edge. He cleaned out the internals of the pipe with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they were clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl and the metal with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap. This removed the grime in the nooks and crannies of the metal work and also cleaned the briar. He was careful around the already damaged stamping so as not to damage it further. When the pipe arrived in Canada it was clean and ready for restoration. I took photos of the pipe before I began my work to show what it looked like cleaned and ready for me. I love working on clean pipes! He was able to get all of the buildup off the rim cap but the surface was pitted and worn from all of the years of grime sitting on the brass. The bowl looked really good and the brass folded over the inside edge was darkened but undamaged.The stem was cleaned of the tars that were on the inside of the airways. The photos show the cracking at the shank end near the band. While the cracks were not rough to touch they were present. There were also many tiny little spidering cracks on the inside of the airway.I polished the metal rim cap and inner edge with micromesh sanding pads, wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads. I was able to remove much of the pitting and scratching on the surface and the blackening of the inner edge of the cap. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads to further polish the cap and edge.I laid the bowl aside for the time being and turned my attention to the stem repairs. I cleaned the surface of the stem around the largest and roughest feeling crack with a water dampened cotton pad. I sanded it with 1500 micromesh and wiped it another time to remove the sanding residue. I filled in the cracked surface with clear super glue and let it cure. When it dried I sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and also sanded the tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem at the button.I cleaned out the interior of the stem with pipe cleaners and water to remove more of the debris from the airway.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after sanding with each micromesh sanding pad, gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I turned back to the bowl to finish my work on it. I wiped the briar down with a cotton pad and alcohol being careful around the faint stamping on the shank. I was hoping that when it was wet it would be more readable. Sadly it was not. The SUPERIOR stamp was all that I could read. The briar has some nice grain. I decided to leave the nicks and scratches alone as they were well earned character marks on this 100+ year old pipe. I really like the look of the raw briar on this one so I decided to rub it down with olive oil to make the grain stand out and give the briar some life. The next photos show the grain on the oiled bowl. It looks really good to my eye. I gave the bowl a coat of Conservator’s Wax to protect the briar and when the wax dried I buffed it with a flannel cloth to give it a shine. I put the stem back on the shank and in doing so remembered that it was slightly overturned. The lines of the shank and the diamond stem did not align. I have found that on these old bone tenon and threaded mortises that they wear down slightly over time. A little trick I use to address the wear is to paint the tenon with a thin coat of clear fingernail polish that I swiped from my daughters years ago. It dries clear and just one thin coat was enough to align the stem perfectly when I screwed it into the mortise.I lightly buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to remove the tiny scratches that remained on the brass and the briar. I gave the briar portion of the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and polished them with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I polished the brass with a jeweler’s cloth and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the entire pipe with a microfiber cloth to put on the finishing touches. The pipe is shown in the photos below in all of its beauty. I love the look of these older pipes with all of the bling and the Redmanol/Bakelite stems. They really look elegant and show their era well. Thanks for coming with me on this refurb.

 

 

The Other Half of the Pair – a Wally Frank Sandblast Lovat


Blog by Steve Laug

I purchased this little Lovat from Josh (misterzippo), a reader of the blog earlier this year. He sent me an email and photos some pipes that he thought I might want. As usual when you have incurable PAD there is always something that catches my eye. We fired some emails back and forth about the pipes and it did not take long to make a deal. I bought a Malaga Bulldog with a twist in the carving and a scoop in the top of the bowl that I restored earlier. I bought a pair of sandblast Wally Frank pipes shown in the photo below. Josh sent this photo and it shows the overall condition and appearance of both pipes. As I noted in the restoration of the bent billiard the deep ridges of the sandblast finishes intrigued me. Both pipes were dirty but that is never really a problem. The grooves in the sandblast on both were filled in with grit and grime and almost sticky to touch. The rims were caked with overflow of tars from the bowl and the grooves were filled in to the point that they almost were invisible. The stem on the bent billiard was in good shape with light oxidation and some tooth marks on both sides near the button. The stem on the Lovat was missing a large chunk out of the underside that would need repairing. The tape measure in the photo shows that the billiard is about 5 ½ inches long with a taper stem and the Lovat is 5 inches long with a saddle stem.Josh sent me a photo of the major issue with this pipe. There was a large portion of the stem and button missing on the underside. This issue would make me think through my options on this pipe. Should I repair the stem or should I restem the pipe? If I repaired it I could keep the Wally Frank original filter tenon. If I restemmed it I could get rid of that feature and give the pipe a regular push tenon. I would need to think through that issue as I worked on it.I asked Josh to send the pipes to my brother instead of too me in Canada. Jeff would do the cleanup work on it so it made sense to have it go directly to him. He took the following photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup. As I looked at these photos I was really taken with the way the sandblast had revealed interesting grain patterns in the briar.You can see from the photos the overall condition of the pipe. The briar is dirty but still stunning. There was less cake in this little pipe than there was in the other Wally Frank that I worked on. There was light overflow and lava on the rim top but the inner and outer edge of the bowl was in excellent condition. The finish though dirty was not in bad condition under the grime.The next photos show the grain patterns around the bowl from various angles. The circles, starbursts, ring grain and birdseye make the sandblast finish one that really holds my interest as I turn in my hands. The rim top definitely has less tar and oil build up on the surface. The close up photo of the rim shows light cake in the bowl and the lava that is unevenly disperse across the surface of the bowl.There is a smooth, flat band on the bottom of the shank and the bowl that make pipe a sitter. It is where the pipe is stamped. It reads Wally Frank over Filter. The Wally Frank stamp is not as deep as the Filter stamp but it is still readable. The Wally Frank WF circle logo on the left side of the saddle portion of the stem was very lightly stamped. It is readable but there is no tactile sense of it left on the stem. It will be hard to preserve. The fit of the stem to the shank is very good. The aluminum band that separates the stem from the shank is an integral part of the aluminum tenon that is on the Filter pipes. The tenon is made to hold a paper filter. It is split so that it can be adjusted should it become loose in the shank. The stem shows wear on the topside with tooth marks and chatter on both the stem surface and on the button itself. The underside is where the problem lies. You can see from the photo the large missing portion of the stem from the button forward to the saddle. The third photos shows the surface of the top of the stem. You can see the pitting in the surface and the wear that is on the stem. Will it be a candidate for a repair or should I restem the pipe? Jeff cleaned the pipe once he received it. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet and a Savinelli Fitsall reamer taking the cake back to bare wood. He cleaned out the internals of the airway in the shank, mortise and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove all of the ancient build up. He scrubbed the externals with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to clean out the grooves and crevices of the sandblast finish. He rinsed off the soap with running water and dried off the bowl. He soaked the stem in OxyClean to break up the oxidation on the surface and remove some of the scaling that was present. When the pipe arrived in Vancouver I took photos of the pipe as it was when I first brought it to the work table. Jeff really did a good job on the bowl and rim clean up leaving the grain on the surface very visible. Like the bent billiard that I worked on the blast on the rim is unique. It has swirls and smooth spots as well as some grooves. It is an interesting blast.The OxyClean soak had really brought the oxidation to the surface and made the damaged stem really visible. It looks to me like someone either broke loose a piece of the stem while cleaning the pipe or possible bit through it and then broke it. Before I could work on the repair to the stem I needed to deal with the oxidation. I decided to use the Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer that I have been trying out. I keep the mixture in a flat plastic tray with a cover. I dropped the stem into the mixture and made sure that it was completely covered. I put the lid on the tray and set it aside to soak overnight. I called it a day.

I have referred to the latest use of this product in previous blogs because I am putting it through its paces to see how the product delivers. I was skeptical when I first started using it but I have to admit that with each stem I soak in the product I am becoming less skeptical. I am including information on how to get ahold of the product if you are interested. I purchased the Deoxidizer and some Fine and Extras Fine Pipe Polish from a guy on Facebook named Mark Hoover and he is a member of the group there called The Gentlemen’s Pipe Smoking Society. He has a pen making and restoration site where you can email and order the deoxidizer and the polishes (http://www.lbepen.com/).In the morning I took the pipe out of the bath and dried it off. I was not too worried about the remaining oxidation at this point as I had significant repair to do before I addressed the left over remnants of oxidation. I was pleased to see that the edges of the damaged area were clean and ready for me to work on. The circle WF was gone from the left side of the stem. In preparation for the repair to the stem I cut a triangle of thin cardboard and wrapped it with clear packing tape. I have found that the repair mixture of super glue and charcoal powder will not stick to the packing tape. The triangle preserves the slot and airway in the stem once the patch is applied. I adjusted the fit of the triangle and inserted it into the slot of the stem. I laid out a piece of newsprint and the components of the repair mixture – clear super glue and food grade charcoal powder capsules. I opened two capsules and made a mound on the paper. I used a dental spatula to put a small dip in the top of the mound. I mixed in drops of super glue into the charcoal powder and stirred them together with a dental spatula. I made the repair thick enough that it would hold and give me enough material to reshape both the stem surface and the button. The photos below tell the story. I reshaped the button edges and surface with needle files to blend the repair into the surface of the stem and to make the transition to the button clean and sharp. I filled in some of the expected air bubbles with a coat of clear super glue. I will need to repeat this as I shape and sand the stem.I sanded the repaired area of the stem and button with 180 grit sandpaper to rough shape them.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to further smooth and shape the repaired stem. The repair is solid at this point. The area that I repaired shows air bubble pits in the surface of the stem and the button.I reshaped the slot in the end of the stem with a needle file to smooth out the repaired surface. I still need to sand it to remove scratches and nicks but it is taking shape. I filled in the air bubble holes with clear super glue and set the stem aside to dry.I sanded the patch with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it in with the surface of the stem and then began to polish it with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad to give life to the vulcanite. It is fun to watch the stem begin to shine with the work of each micromesh pad. The photos below are arranged with the top photo first and the repaired underside of the stem second. The last two photos show the shine in the rubber of the stem. The last one shows that there are still some scratches remaining in the rubber that will need to be shined some more. I polished the stem some more with the last three grits of micromesh sanding pad to remove more of the scratches. When I was happy with it I set it aside and turned my attention to the stummel. Because of the diverse colours that came through on the briar I decided not to stain this pipe. I decided to leave it natural with the existing stain and try to maximize the contrasts in the grain and stain. I rubbed it down with a light coat of olive oil to bring life back into the dry briar. The colours of the stain in the briar began to shine through and the patterns in the grain really stood out with clarity. This was a beautiful piece of wood. I buffed the bowl with a clean buffing pad after the oil had dried into the briar. The key is to not push the briar too hard into the buffing pad. Doing so flattens the sandblast and ruins some of the definition in the grain patterns. The photos below show the contrast in stains that were originally used on the pipe. I put the stem on the stummel and buffed the pipe lightly with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand waxed the bowl with Conservator’s wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and hand buffed it with a shoe brush as well with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a well-made, beautiful pipe that has a tactile feeling that is really nice in the hand. I think as it heats up during a smoke that sensation will only increase. Thanks for coming with me on this one.