I am just about finished cleaning up and restoring the pipes my brother and I picked up on our Virtual Pipe Hunt in Montana. The next pipe that I brought to my work table was from that hunt. I think I may have two or three left two work on but this is one that I have picked up and put back several times since they arrived in Vancouver. As I mentioned in my last blog I have written several blogs about that hunt as it was one of those once it a life time finds. It contained a lot of late 1890s and early 1900 era pipes. These included C.P.F., W.D.C. and some no name pipes from the same era. Again if you are interested in reading about any of the restorations, a quick search on the blog for “Virtual Pipe Hunt” will give you the links to a blog about the hunt and to other pipes that were included. This particular little Bulldog shaped pipe had something about it that caught my eye. It combined some interesting grain (birdseye, swirled and cross grain) on the bowl and a diamond shaped taper stem with an orific button. The finish was worn and the stem was glued onto the shank. At this point in the process the stem would not move as the glue held it tightly in place. The top of the shank was stamped ITALIAN BRIAR in block print and no other stamping on the pipe on either side. The stem had a red dot on the left top side of the diamond. There were tooth marks and the stem was really dirty with an overflow of glue that was on both sides. My brother took photos of the pipe before he started the cleanup process.The next two photos show the pipe from the top side and the underside of the pipe. The topside shows the wear and tear to the finish. There were a lot of scratches and nicks in the briar and a cake in the bowl with lava overflow on the rim top. The underside of the bowl showed the nicks and scratches that went down both sides and the bottom of the bowl and shank.He took some photos of the rim top and bowl. Both photos show the thick cake in the bowl and a thick lava coat on the rim top. It is hard to know if there was any damage to the inner edge of the bowl or on the top surface of the rim.The close up of the underside of the bowl and shank shows the glue buildup in the gap between the shank and the stem.The stem looked like it was in rough shape. There were some peeling flakes on the surface of the stem. They could either be glue or damage to the stem.I was really surprised that my brother was able to get the stem off the shank. It turned out that the broken tenon was glued in the shank and a piece of inner tube was glued into the broken tenon. About an inch of the tube extended beyond the shank and the stem fit on the tube. The glue was painted onto the end of the shank and the end of the stem and the two parts were held together until the glue set. Jeff used some acetone to eat through the glue in the gap between the stem and the shank and was able to pry the pieces apart.The next photos show the damaged stem. It looked like the repair had also included painting the surface of the stem with glue. The glue had bubbled, cracked and peeled leaving behind a messy chipped finish. The orific button on the rounded stem end was in good shape. It appeared that the glue mixture had protected the stem from a lot of tooth marks and chatter.Jeff did his usual thorough cleanup of the pipe. I am coming to expect nothing less when he sends me pipes that have gone through his cleaning process. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer, scraped the bowl and the rim top with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to clear off the lava build up. He cleaned out the internals in the airway in the shank as much as possible with the broken glued in tenon in the way. He used alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He cleaned out the airway in the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the briar and the stem with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove all of the grime on the briar and the hardened, chipped glue on the finish of the stem. He rinsed the parts under running water and dried it with a soft cloth. He soaked the stem in OxyClean to clean off the glue on the surface. When the pipe arrived in Vancouver it looked different than it did when we picked it up in Montana. I forgot to take photos of the pipe before I started on it because I was excited to pull the broken tenon from the shank. You can see the clean bowl and stem in the photos.
I put a drill bit in the chuck of my cordless drill and turned the bowl as the bit went into the airway on the broken tenon. I used one that was slightly larger than the airway and worked my way up to the one in the second photo. Some of the tenon crumbled away and the remainder stuck on the drill bit. I pulled it out of the shank and that part of the process was complete. The shank was clear.I used a Dremel and sanding drum to smooth out the broken edges of the tenon on the end of the stem. I smoothed it out until the broken tenon was smooth against the end of the stem. I put a drill bit in the chuck of my cordless drill and turned the stem onto the bit to open the airway for the new threaded Delrin tenon. I increased the size of the bit until it was the same size as the threaded tenon end. I cleaned up the newly drilled airway with a dental burr on the Dremel.I took the stem back to the work table and took pictures of the process of inserting the new tenon in the stem. The photos show the progress. I turned the tenon into the stem and put glue on the final few threads and use a pair of pliers to turn it into the stem until it was seated against the flush end.I put the stem in the shank and took some photos. The alignment is always a little off when the stem is first inserted. In this case the fit against the shank was perfect. The sides on the old stem and shank were just a little bit off. The left and top side aligned almost perfectly but the right and underside of the stem need some minor adjustments to fit properly.I sanded the stem/shank connection with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the transition and make it smooth to touch. I wiped the bowl down with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the remaining finish from the bowl. When I was finished I took photos of the fit and it was looking really good.I topped the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board. I topped it until the surface was smooth and the damaged areas were removed. I used a folded piece of sandpaper to smooth out the inner edge of the bowl.I sanded the stem surface to remove the scratches and damage to the flat sides of the diamond and also the flat angle to the button. I wiped the stem down with alcohol on a cotton pad and removed the debris left behind by the sanding. I filled in the tooth marks with clear super glue and when the glue dried I sanded the repairs smooth with 220 grit sandpaper. I put some clear super glue on the tenon to build it up so that the fit in the shank would not be too loose. When the glue dried I sanded the surface of the tenon until it was smooth.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 each pad and after the final pad I gave it a final coat of oil. I set it aside to let it dry.I scraped out the inside of the mortise with a pen knife to remove the glue build up on the walls. I cleaned up the bevel with the blade of the knife at the same time to make sure that it did not interfere with the fit of the stem against the shank. I cleaned out the airway and mortise with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the debris that remained once I pulled the old tenon. It took a few pipe cleaners and swabs but it did not take too long to clean it up.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads. I worked around the stamping so I would not damage it in the process.I decided to stain the bowl with a medium brown stain pen rather than my regular aniline stain. I covered the sanded rim top, bowl sides and the shank with the stain.I continued to polish the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each pad with a damp cotton pad. The briar began to really shine as I worked through the micromesh sanding pads.I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed it with a carnauba wax buffing pad. I gave the stem and bowl multiple coats of wax. I buffed the completed pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfibre cloth to deepen the polish. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It turned out to be a pretty pipe. The black vulcanite stem with the red dot works well with the reddish colour of the briar. The grain stands out well with the colours of the stain. I like the look of finished pipe a lot. This one will probably stay in my own collection. Thanks for following along with me on this refurbishing journey.
Not too long ago I received an email from a reader of rebornpipes regarding a pipe he was restoring. It was a beautiful little Hardcastle Bulldog that is stamped on the left underside Hardcastle over Special Selection over the number 7. He had finished cleaning and restoring it and it was looking good. He had done a thorough job, as I would see later in this post. He went on to tell me about how he had repeated my misadventure when buffing the pipe. Not long ago I posted about having finished a pipe and having the buffer snatch it from my hands and fling it against the floor. I snapped the tenon off a pipe I had finished while doing the final buffing. He wrote that he had done the same thing exactly. He wanted to know if I would be willing to put a new tenon on the stem. He noted a hairline crack at the shank/bowl junction and wondered if I would be willing to deal with that at the same time. We wrote back and forth and he sent me the following photos. The first one shows the cleaned up pipe ready for buffing.The next photo he sent shows the crack at the top of the shank on both topsides of the diamond. It stopped on both sides before it got to the edge of the diamond.The third photo shows the stem with the snapped tenon. He did a far better job snapping it off than I had done on mine. My broken tenon was jagged and needed to be sanded smooth before I could replace the tenon.He sent the pipe to me Vancouver for me to work on. It is funny in that it took a longer time to arrive from Idaho than pipes I have received from the east coast. But when it arrived I took photos of it.I have a container of threaded tenons here that I use for replacement tenons on pipes. I like the way they grip in the drilled out stem. Once they are anchored in place with glue on the threads, there is little chance that they will come out. I went through my tenons and found one that would fit the mortise with a little adjustment – the fit was tight and it was a little long for the shank.I set up my cordless drill and chose a bit that was close to the size of the airway in the stem. I have learned to work my way gradually through bits until I get to the size of the threaded portion of the new tenon. Doing it this way keeps the stem material from chipping or breaking away with the pressure of the drill bit. I turn the stem onto the stationary drill by hand so that I can control the depth of the bit. I mark the bit with scotch tape ahead of time to measure the depth of the drilled out airway that I need to have when I am finished.Once I had the airway opened enough to take the threaded end I used a tap to cut threads on inside of the newly opened airway. I turned the tenon in place on the stem to check the fit against the face of the stem.I checked the fit against the end of the mortise and found that the tenon was too long. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to bring it down to the correct length and cleaned up the end of the tenon with the topping board.I glued the new tenon in place in the stem with medium viscosity black superglue. It allows me time to adjust and align it so that it fits the mortise well and leaves no gaps.I set the stem aside overnight to allow the glue to cure. In the morning, I fine-tuned the fit so that it sat well in the shank. I chamfered/beveled the airway in the end of the new tenon to maximize the airflow into the stem.I put the stem in place in the shank and took photos of the newly repaired stem. This little Hardcastle Bulldog is a really beauty and extremely lightweight. The Cumberland stem looks good with the briar and gives the pipe an elegant appearance.I polished the stem and the tenon with micromesh sanding pads to remove any remaining scratches. I set the stem aside and turned my attention to the crack on the shank/bowl junction. I examined the crack with a bright light and a lens to make sure I could see the ends of the crack on both sides of the shank. It was a tight hairline crack so I just needed to stop it from spreading further. I drilled the end of the crack on both sides of the top of the shank using my Dremel and a microdrill bit. I slow the Dremel down to a speed of 10 so that I can carefully put the holes at the crack ends without it either going too deep in the shank or bouncing across the surface of the shank. It did not take too long to drill the holes.I took it back to the work table and took photos showing the two drill holes. The plan now was to use a dental pick to see if I could open the crack at all. I wanted to be able to put superglue into the crack to seal the two sides. It did not budge so I scratched it with the pick to provide a rough surface for the glue to adhere.I ran a bead of clear super glue the length of the crack from drill hole to drill hole. I put a drop of glue into each drill hole to fill them in. Since they are so tiny, I don’t bother with briar dust. I used the end of the dental pick to push the glue deep into the drill hole and refilled it to a bubble.Once the glue hardened I sanded it smooth to match the surface of the shank using 220 and 320 grit sandpaper folded to fit the angle of the junction. I sanded the area until the repair was smooth with the surface of the shank. I wanted the transition to be seamless. I took a close up photo of the repair on both sides of the shank to show what I had to deal with in terms of blending it into the finish of the bowl and shank.I sanded the repair with micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratches left behind by the sand paper. I worked through 1500-4000 grit pads to polish the shank. I polished the gold band with the higher grades of micromesh as well to give them a richer gleam. The repairs were slightly lighter in colour than the rest of the shank and the bowl so they would need to be restained. I restained the repaired area with a medium brown stain pen to blend it into the colour of the bowl and shank. I buffed the stained areas by hand with a microfibre cloth.I wrote to the pipeman who owned it and told him I had finished the repair to the shank and the stem and was touching up the stain. He wrote back to say that I had carte blanche to finish the pipe in any stain I saw fit. That was the go ahead I needed. I wanted to highlight the red hues in the briar that stood out in the bright light. I also knew that a red stain would allow me to blend in the repaired areas on the shank/bowl junction better. So I chose to stain the pipe with Danish Oil with Cherry stain. I am really happy with how the red of the stain works to highlight the grain. It also goes really well with the Cumberland stem and its red striations.I warmed the briar and applied the stain with a cotton pad. The nature of Danish Oil stain is that it highlights grain and breathes life into the wood. I let it sit for 10 minutes and hand buffed it off the bowl and shank. I took the next four photos of the finished bowl once I had hand buffed it.I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel to polish out any remaining scratches in the finish of the briar or the Cumberland. I gave them multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect the finish and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. I hand buffed the gold band on the shank with a jeweler’ cloth to polish and shine it. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I really like the finished look of the pipe. It is a beautiful and well executed Bulldog and it should serve its owner well. I plan on letting him know that if it does not fit his collection it will always have a home here. Thanks for looking.
I have worked on and collected many GBD pipes over the past 20 years. I have some great resources that I use to identify the nomenclature, shape and date of the various lines that GBD issued. However, all of my sources and resources regarding GBD are from the time prior to the merger (Cadogan) or shortly thereafter. The Rainbow Line is not mentioned in any of them. I also looked on the pipephil Logos and Stampings site and Pipedia and again there is no mention of the line. In my online research, I found several people who think that it is probable that the pipe was made during the 70’s through 90’s. Several things point to this – the chunky Lucite stem, the name of the line itself and the brightly coloured stems used. One fellow on Pipes Magazine’s online forum had a great quote that caught my attention. He said, “If you’re old enough you might remember that Rainbow was a popular theme in the late 70’s to early 90’s due to Sesame Street, “The Rainbow Connection,” The Rainbow Reading Room, etc.” http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/help-with-info-on-a-gbd-pipe I think this is as close as I am going to get to a time period when the pipe was made.
The pipe I picked up on a recent trip to Idaho is a nicely shape apple that was in pretty decent shape. I figured it would be an easy clean up. But things happened along the way and I made more work for myself. It is stamped GBD in an oval over Rainbow on the left side of the shank. On the right side stamped London, England in a straight line over 347 (shape number). On the underside of the shank near the stem/shank junction it is stamped D. The faint painted GBD in an Oval on the left side of the stem also suggests a later GBD. The nomenclature is consistent with usual smooth GBD markings (GBD over Grade (left side) and London England over style number on the right side.) The photos below came from the person I purchased the pipe from and show the general condition.He provided some close up photos of the bowl and rim. He said that the pipe had been reamed and clean. However, it was not reamed and clean to my liking. The bowl had a thick cake that I will need to remove, some rim darkening and some dents in the rim. My guess was that like the bowl, the shank and mortise would need some attention.The stamping on the shank was very clear. The first photo below shows that. Next to the shank/stem junction in the first photo, there is also the remnant of the GBD oval logo that had been originally painted on the stem. The stem had a lot of tooth chatter and some shallow tooth marks in the Lucite.While I was staying with my brother, I cleaned and reamed the pipe. I used the PipeNet reamer and took it back to the walls. I would need to clean it up more once I got home but it was better than when I started. Last evening I took the pipe out of the box to finish the clean up and restoration. I took some photos of it before I started to have a benchmark.I took a close up of the bowl and rim. It was better than when I started but still needed to be cleaned up some more. The rim had some darkening that I could reduce some more as well.I used the Savinelli Fitsall Reamer to scrape the remaining thin cake from the walls of the bowl. I personally like to remove all of the cake when cleaning up a bowl. I will sand a bowl interior a bit later to smooth things out. Little did I know at this point that the decision to sand the bowl would send me on a repair detour.I scrubbed out the mortise, airway in the bowl and in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I used the dental spatula to scrape the walls of the shank and remove the hard tars that had built up there. The airway in the stem was also dirty and had some darkening at the button and in the first few inches of the stem. I cleaned it with bristle pipe cleaners and picked the debris out of the button and from around the stem down tenon with a dental pick.The stem not only had tooth chatter but also some stickiness from a price tag on the top surface. The edge of the button also had some chatter. I sanded the tooth marks out with 220 grit sandpaper and reshaped the button at the same time. The stem was smooth when I finished. It was dull and needed a good polishing.I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cotton pad to remove the dust after each pad.I was finished with the stem at this point so I set it aside to work on the bowl. I had decided to use a dark brown aniline stain thinned by 50% with alcohol to darken the grain on the pipe and hide a couple of small fills. I applied the stain, flamed it and repeated the process until the bowl was covered evenly.I wiped the bowl down with cotton pads and alcohol to make it more transparent. I hand buffed it and took the following photos. It was still too dark to my liking.I sanded the bowl with micromesh sanding pads to make it more transparent and to see if I could make the grain pop. I sanded it with 1500-2400 and took these photos.It was getting there. I continued to sand it with 3200-12000 grit pads to polish it and give it a shine. The next photos tell the story.The bowl was looking better and better. It is at this point that I made a decision that would inevitably cost me. That results of that decision turned out to be a mistake that made a lot more work for me! I put the stem on and decided to work on sanding out the inside of the bowl to remove the polishing compound and remnants of cake. Stupidly, I put the stem on the pipe to enjoy the look of the combination while I worked. Wrong thing to do! Understand, I was sitting at my work table, the top of which is a meter above the floor. I was carefully sanding the bowl interior so as not to damage the nice stain on the rim. Somehow, the pipe wiggled free from my hands and fell to the floor. If you could have watched it and my face at the same time you would have seen the look of horror on my face as it dropped to the floor. That horror changed to a moment of dread as I watched it bounce and heard a snap and watched as the bowl and stem went in opposite directions. I quietly picked up the bowl and stem. The tenon had snapped off in the mortise. It was a clean break. I don’t know about you but I find Lucite is much less forgiving than vulcanite. I have had pipes with vulcanite stem hit the floor with not breakage but not so with Lucite. It seems that the tenon inevitably snaps. Well this one certainly did.I sat and looked at it for a long time just sick at the thought that a pipe I was basically finished with was in pieces on my table. I know how to replace a tenon; that is not a problem. I just did not want to have to do that on this pipe. However, my own stupidity and carelessness had successfully sent me back to work on this pipe. Ahh well… just as well call it a night. Perhaps a good night’s sleep would give me better perspective on this new problem!
I woke up early this morning and dragged my feet about going back to work on the pipe. I think I was hoping at some level that it had not actually happened. I sipped my coffee as long as possible postponing the inevitable. I talked with my eldest daughter who is in Kathmandu for work. I took the dog for a walk around the yard… but finally I made to the basement and the work table. It was not a dream the tenonless stem and the bowl was sitting waiting for me.
I used the Dremel to remove the remnants of the old tenon that were on the face of the stem. I flattened it against the topping board. I went through my assortment of threaded Delrin tenons until I found one that was slightly larger than the broken one. I needed to reduce the diameter slightly to make it work but it would do!I set up my cordless drill and put in a bit slightly larger than the airway and turned the stem onto it by hand. The first photo below shows the bits I used as I repeated the process until the hole was large enough for me to use a tap to thread it to match the tenon. The second photo below shows the last drill bit I used the piece of tape on the bit is to show me how deep I needed to go with the bit to accommodate the new tenon threads.I roughened the tenon surface so I could grip it enough to turn it into the newly drilled stem end. It was a good fit. I painted the end with some epoxy and turned it back in place and set it aside to cure and harden.Once the tenon was set firmly in place I used the Dremel and sanding drum to reduce the diameter to a close fit. I finished the fitting with 180 and 220 grit sandpaper. I polished the new tenon with micromesh sanding pads. Now came the telling moment. Would the stem match up with the shank? Would the fit be tight against the shank end? Even though I have done this many times I always have the same questions. I placed the new tenon in the mortise and carefully pushed the stem against the shank end. It was a very close fit and all I would need to do was sand the left side and top a little bit to make the fit even better. I was relieved and happy. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and cleaned up the fit. I was almost back to where I was last night before the pipe dropped and the tenon broke. I have to polish the stem once again but the stem fits well. I took photos of the pipe at this point to check it out. The newly fit stem and the stain on the pipe worked well together. Now to polish it all and get it finished.I polished the bowl and stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads to raise the shine.I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen that shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I am pretty happy with the way it turned out – even with the detour. The stain accomplished what I hope it would in making the grain pop. The grain stands out like it never did in the pipe when I received it. Now it is visible. It is a nice looking pipe that feels good in the hand. Thanks for looking.
I got a call from a customer of a local pipe shop about a possible pipe repair. He had dropped his L’Anatra dalle Uova d’Oro pipe and the stem had snapped at the tenon. He wanted to know if I could repair it for him. He stopped by yesterday afternoon for me to have a look at it and today I had the time to work on it. This kind of break is actually a nice one if you are going to have them. It snapped off pretty close to the stem end and he was able to pull it out of the shank. This is actually the first L’Anatra pipe that I have worked on and one I could easily have added to my collection. It is my kind of shape. I have looked at them in various pipe shops and always like the look and the feel but this is the first one that has crossed the work table. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank with the name of the brand L’Anatra, under that it read dalle Uova d’Oro. Underneath it reads Made in Italy. L’Anatra dalle Uova d’Oro in English means “The Duck that Lays Golden Eggs”. On the underside of the shank it is stamped with three eggs which refers to the grade of the pipe.
When he dropped the pipe off, I took some photos of the broken tenon. The first three photos show the pipe before I started the repair.I used the Dremel and sanding drum to flatten out the end of the stem and finished it on the topping board to make a flat surface for the new tenon to sit against. I started drilling out the airway with a drill bit slightly larger than the airway and worked my way up to the same size as the threaded end on the new tenon. I do not use the power on the drill but rather carefully turn the stem onto the drill bit slowly making sure to hold the stem straight against the bit.Once the airway is opened to the length of the threaded portion of the new tenon I used a tapping tool to thread the sides of the newly drilled airway so that I could screw in the new tenon.Once the airway was tapped I used a knife to cut a small bevel in the end of the stem so that the new tenon would sit tight against the face of the stem. I used the knife to also bevel the end of the tenon to match the original tenon that had broken off. With all the preparations done I screwed the tenon in place to check the fit. Once I knew that the fit was correct I unscrewed it from the stem, brushed the threads with some slow drying epoxy and turned the new tenon into the stem. This was a case of a perfect fit. The photo below shows the newly replaced tenon.I noticed there was some light tooth chatter on the stem so I polished it out with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust.I polished the tenon with micromesh sanding pads to remove the sanding marks and scratches in the Delrin. I put the stem in place in the shank and buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and then gave the stem and bowl several coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to give it a deep shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The owner will soon pick up his pipe and fire it up again with his favourite tobacco. Thanks for looking.
The Charatan pipe also had a replacement stem as there was no sign of a CP logo stamp on the top side. The stamping was on the smooth underside of the shank and it read Charatan’s Make and underneath it read London, England. At the end of the brand stamping was the number 0120 which is the shape number of a Canadian. I did some searching online and read the Charatan’s entry in Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dating_of_Charatans). I quote from there: “Pipes that belong to eras till the 1960 have the engraving ‘CHARATAN’S MAKE LONDON, ENGLAND’ in two lines, the shape code is composed by numbers only. The X and the DC appear only on pipes after 1960.”
My brother had found another good one. The stamping gave me information about the time frame it was made. I knew that it was made prior to 1960 by the style of the stamping. It came from what the article identified as the Reuben era of Charatans that went from 1910-1960. Like the Dunhill the only thing that would have been better was if it had come with the original stem. My brother took the photos that follow. They show the pipe before he cleaned it up and sent it to me. It had a nice sandblast that deep and craggy on the bowl and shank. From mid shank back to the stem it appeared that the pipe had been rusticated to match the blast pattern. He took some photos of the pipe to give a feel for the overall look of it when he received it. These photos show the pipe before he cleaned and reamed it.He took some close up photos of the bowl and sandblast on the bottom of the bowl. The bowl had a thick cake that had flowed over the top of the rim in hard tarry lava. It was thick but it appeared that the outer rim was undamaged and with any luck the inner one would be as well. The blast is interesting in that it also has a rustication pattern on the bowl bottom and also on the shank. It follows the pattern of the grain on the bowl.The next photo shows the clear and sharp stamping on smooth underside of the shank. It reads as noted above – Charatan’s Make over London England with the shape number 0120 on the stem end of the shank.The stem had a lot of tooth chatter and some shallow tooth dents. There was oxidation and also calcification.My brother did his normal thorough job of cleaning the pipe. He scrubbed it with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap. He cleaned out all of the dust and debris in the grooves and crevices of the “blastication”. The stem does not fit tightly against the shank at this point. The next photos below show the pipe as it looked when I brought it to my work table.I took some close up photos of the rim to show how well it cleaned up. My brother was able to get the lava out of the grooves on the rim and also on the underside of the shank. The stamping was still very clear.He cleaned out a lot of the gunk in the shank but the stem still did fit tightly against the shank end. He did get the calcification and some of the oxidation off the stem. You can clearly see the tooth chatter and the tooth dents now that the stem was clean.I scraped out the inside of the mortise with a dental pick with a flattened blade end. I scraped the stepped down area of the mortise as it entered the airway in the shank. I took a lot of tar and gunk out the shank area.I scrubbed the mortise, the airway in the shank and the stem with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol. Once it was clean the stem fit more closely against the end of the shank.I scrubbed down the bowl and shank with acetone on cotton pads to remove the finish that remained on the pipe.I restained the pipe with a dark brown aniline stain thinned 50/50 with isopropyl alcohol. I flamed the stain and repeated the process until the coverage was even.I put the stem in the shank and took the pipe to the buffer. I buffed it to polish the stain. When I was just about finished I could not believe what happened. It is that moment when you are buffing a pipe where you get a sick feeling. The wheel grabbed the pipe out of my hand, off my finger and threw it against the table top under the buffer. It was not far – a mere 2 inches but I heard the snap as the tenon broke. I was sick to my stomach. I was almost finished with the pipe and then this had to happen. I took a photo of the broken tenon once I had pulled it from the shank. It was almost a clean break at the end of the stem. Oh the frustration.
I used a Dremel to flatten the broken edge of the tenon against the face of the shank. It took a few moments to smooth out the broken part. I used the topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to face the end of the stem. I went through my box of threaded tenons and actually had one left in the box that was not a Jobey Link system tenon. It was the same diameter as the broken tenon.I chucked a drill bit in the cordless drill that was just a little larger than the air way in the stem. I turned the stem onto the drill bit the length of the threaded portion of the replacement tenon. I put two more drill bits in the drill and turned the stem onto the bits. Once it was the same diameter as the threaded portion I shortened the threaded end slightly so that it would fit tight against the stem. I roughed up the threads with the Dremel and a sanding drum. I left the threads in place so that I could turn it into the stem.I screwed it into the stem as far as it would go by hand and then used a pair of pliers to finish turning it tight against the stem face.I put the stem in place in the shank and the fit was tight against the shank. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads. After the final set I rubbed it down with a last coat of oil. I set the stem aside to dry. (In the photos below of the shank and stem I did not push the stem in against the shank so it shows a small gap at that point. You will notice in the final photos that I pushed it back in place.)With fear and trepidation I took the pipe back to the buffer. I did not want to repeat the broken tenon so I was very careful. I worked the pipe against the buffing wheel that had been charged with Blue Diamond polish. I buffed it until the stem shone. I lightly buffed the bowl with the polish as well – being careful to not let it build up in the grooves. I polished the stem with carnauba wax and put Conservator’s Wax on the sandblast finish of the bowl and shank. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The fit of the stem against the shank was better than when I started. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me and also through the frustrating need to replace the tenon.
Charles Lemon of Dadspipes blog picked up a batch of pipes that included a lot of Danish made ones from an estate not long ago. He has been writing about their restoration on his blog. He sent me some photos of the pipes and offered to sell some to me. I chose two of them. The first one was the Larsen that is pictured below. The description of the pipe said that it was stamped on the underside of the shank 11 over W.O. LARSEN over Handmade over Made in Denmark. On the topside of the shank next to the stem/shank junction it was stamped SUPER. The stem had a broken tenon and it was stuck in the shank. Charles had mentioned that he thought it looked like it had been glued in so it would take a bit of work. When I saw the grain on it I decided that it would be a fun piece to work on for my own rack. It has some stunning flame grain on all around the bowl sides and birdseye grain on the rim and the bottom of the bowl and shank.I looked up some background on W.O. Larsen and found a great summary on this site. It was helpful and brief so I quote it in full below: https://www.finepipes.com/pipes/danish/w-o-larsen?sort=20a&page=1&zenid=debcdee8f415c1977fb5c359652d6aebW.O. Larsen was one of the most famous tobacco shops in Copenhagen, with a beautiful store located on Copenhagen’s famous “Walking Street.” During the flowering of the Danish pipe in the ’60’s, they first began retailing pipes by such carvers as Sixten Ivarsson, Sven Knudsen, Poul Rasmussen, and Brakner. Urged on by his store manager Sven Bang, the owner, Ole Larsen, decided to begin making pipes in the basement of the shop. He first hired Sven Knudsen as the pipe maker, who soon passed the job to his protégé Hans “Former” Nielsen. Larsen’s fortunes rose along with the rest of the Danish pipe business and Former was soon managing a group of carvers in the old Larsen cigar factory. Among these were Teddy Knudsen, Tonni Nielsen, Jess Chonowitch, Peter Hedegaard and others, who were responsible for the Select and Straight Grain series before they branched out on their own. After Former left to start Bentley pipes in Switzerland, his duties were taken over by Soren Refbjerg Rasmussen, while the straight grains were made by Teddy’s student Benni Jorgenson. As Ole’s health began to fail, the reins were taken over by his son Nils. Nils became convinced that the way for Larsen to prosper was by entering the low-end market, and acquired the Georg Jensen pipe factory to make an array of less expensive pipes. This turned out to be a fatal error, and Larsen was recently sold to Stanwell, who continue to produce so-called “Larsen” pipes in their huge factory. Thus ended an important part of Danish pipe history.
I was looking forward to seeing it firsthand so I paid Charles and he shipped it on Friday. Wonder of wonders, Canada Post delivered it on Monday. I came home from work to find the awaited box on the table. I opened it and found the Larsen in a bag with the label printed on the outside enumerating it’s stamping. I took it out of the bag and immediately took it to the work table. The photos below show the pipe as it looked when it arrived. It was much lighter in colour than the photo had led me to believe.The bowl was dirty and there were some dents and marks in the briar. The rim had a thick coating of tars and the back edge of the rim was worn down from knocking the pipe out to empty it. There was an uneven cake in the bowl. The tenon was stuck in the shank and there were dried bits of glue on the end of the shank and around the end of the stem where someone had glued the stem onto the end of the shank. Fortunately the stem did not stick to the briar but the tenon certainly did. The stem was clean of bite or tooth marks and was lightly oxidized.I took a photo of the end of the shank to show the glue spots on the briar and around the broken tenon.When I had looked at the initial photo I was uncertain that the stem was original as it looked to be bigger in diameter than the shank. I lined up the broken tenon in the shank with the rough end on the stem and took some photos to see if it actually fit the pipe.I decided to try pulling the tenon with my normal screw and it did not budge. It began to shatter and break apart.Thus I knew that I would have to resort to drilling out the broken tenon. I set up my cordless drill and put a drill bit slightly larger than the airway in the chuck. I slowly drilled out the tenon, increasing the size of the drill bit until it was the just slightly smaller than the mortise. The last bit I used broke the tenon piece free from the shank and the mortise was clear.While I had the drill out I also drilled out the broken tenon in the stem in preparation for the replacement tenon I would use.Once the airway was drilled out on the stem I used a tap to thread the newly drilled airway to accommodate the threaded replacement Delrin tenon.I used the topping board and 220 grit sandpaper to clean off the glue residue on the end of the stem before I put the new tenon in place. I want a clean, flat surface to work with against the shank when I was finished.I used some clear super glue on the new tenon and twisted it into the stem. I put it in the shank to check the alignment several times before putting a few more drops of super glue around the tenon stem union.Once the glue dried I put the stem in place in the pipe and took some photos to evaluate the fit.With the tenon repair completed it was time to address the bowl. I took some close up photos of the bowl/rim and the stamping on the shank.I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer using the third cutting head and took the cake back to bare briar. I cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Pipe Knife.I sanded the inside of the bowl with a tube of sandpaper. This smoothed out the walls of the bowl and began to clean up the damage on the inner edge of the rim.The rim damage on the back side needed to be dealt with so I topped the bowl to remove the damaged area.I scrubbed the briar with acetone on cotton pads to remove the wax, grime and oils in the wood. The grain is really beautiful in the photos below.I scrubbed out the mortise and airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners until they came out clean.I mixed three of the stain pens together to get the correct brown on the rim. Once it was blended and sanded I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain and flamed it. I repeated the process until the coverage was even on the bowl.I wiped down the bowl with alcohol on cotton pads to make it more transparent and make the grain show through. It still needed more work but it was definitely getting there.The inner edge of the rim needed more work to remove the damage but the colour was correct.I used a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper to bevel the inner rim of the bowl to remove the damaged areas. I followed up by sanding it with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper and continued to sand the inner edge. I sanded the inner edge and rim with 1800-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I restained the inner bevel with a dark brown stain pen to match the finish on the bowl.With the bowl finished I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil and dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I gave it another coat of oil and sanded it with 6000-12000 grit pads. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and let it dry.I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and then gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. By now you are all probably very familiar with my process. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine and then hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to add depth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is one I plan on hanging onto for my own rack and I am happy with how it turned out. Thanks for looking.
I was contacted by Robb, a reader of the blog about working on an old Yello-Bole Cutty that he had picked up. He said it was in decent shape but had a cracked shank that someone had already done a repair on. They had glued the shank with wood glue but when the stem was inserted it cracked again. He wanted the shank reglued and banded. We talked about different options for repairing the pipe and the costs of doing it. Finally, in an email he offered to trade me the pipe in exchange for one that I had for sale on the blog – a Kaywoodie Signature Bulldog. The deal was done and the pipe was now mine.
As with many of the pipes I repair and restore I want to learn as much about them as I can. I did some work on the internet trying to find the shape number of the pipe and information on the stamping. After a pretty fruitless search I wrote to Troy Wilburn of the Baccypipes Blog to get some information on dating the pipe. Troy has become my go to guy when I want to learn information on this particular brand of American pipes. He wrote back quickly with a reply which I summarize below. In it he walked me through the meaning of the stamping and how that helped with the dating of the pipe. His quick first answer stated that the pipe was made between 1933-1936. Here is the main portion of what he wrote to me:
“I’ll break down the stamping and numbers for you. Starting with the left side of the shank the pipe is stamped with KBB in a clover leaf and next to that it says Yello-Bole. Underneath it is stamped Honey Cured Briar. Yello-Bole pipes that come from 1933-1936 bore the stamp Honey Cured Briar. On the right side of the shank it is stamped 2070B. The meaning of the numbers breaks down as follows. The number 20 tells us that the stem is black vulcanite with a push tenon made between 1932-1940s. The next two numbers, 70 gives the shape – a long Belgian and that it was made between 1928/9 and 1935. They made a regular 70 (it’s just called Belgian), a large Belgian 70B, and a long Dublin Belgian 70B.”
I took some photos of the pipe with the stem in the shank to highlight the issues that I saw with the pipe. Not only was the shank cracked but the tenon was also cracked and set at an angle to the stem making alignment in the shank impossible. The dimensions of the pipe to give some perspective to the photos are: Length – 8 inches, bowl height – 2inches, outer bowl diameter – 1 ¼ inches, inner bowl diameter – ¾ inches. You can see that it is a large pipe. The finish was crackled and dirty – almost opaque to the point that the grain was hidden. The rim had a lava buildup and the bowl had a thin, uneven cake that covered it top to bottom. The stem was oxidized and yellow. The stinger was glued in place in the tenon with the broken tenon anchored firmly to the metal insert on the stinger. It was also glued in sideways instead of upright.I took a close up photo of the tenon and stinger repair that had been done to show the cracked and glue pieces of the tenon on the stinger. You can see in the photo where pieces of the tenon had broken free when I removed the stem from the pipe.The crack in the shank arced from one side of the pipe to the other forming a closed crack. The chunk of briar had been glued in place by what appeared to be wood glue. The repair was not strong enough to protect the shank when the angled tenon was inserted in the mortise. Each time the stem was inserted the crack opened wide. Because it had a start and an end point there was no threat in the crack spreading upward along the shank. I had two options for repairing this. I could either insert a tube inside the shank thus internally banding the pieces in place or I could use a band on the exterior to the same effect. As I worked on the i decided to band the shank rather than do an internal repair. The thinness of the tenon with the stinger in place would make it impractical to reduce the size of the tenon further to fit in the inner tube repair.I removed the stinger from the stem and broke away the pieces of the rubber tenon from the metal insert. The stinger was exceptionally long and once I replaced the tenon I would make a decision what to do with it.I have an assortment of threaded replacement tenons that I use to repair broken tenons. I went through my container and found one that was a good fit in the shank.I used the Dremel and sanding drum to flatten out the broken pieces of the old tenon on the end of the stem. I used the topping board to square up the end. I set up a cordless drill and a drill bit approximately the size of the threaded portion of the new tenon. I turned the stem onto the drill bit and slowly opened the airway to fit the new tenon. Once I had the airway open and deep enough to accommodate the threaded end I used a tap to cut threads into the inside of the stem. I turned the new tenon into the threaded airway in the stem to check the fit. When it was correct I gave the threads a coat of slow drying black super glue and turned the tenon into the stem until it was tight against the face of the stem.I set the stem aside to let the glue cure and began to work on the crack in the shank. It did not matter which way I chose to repair the shank I needed to clean up the previous repair and remove the dried wood glue. I needed a clean surface to reglue with super glue. Once I had the surface clean I pried open the crack and used a dental pick to push clear super glue into the crack. Once the glue was in place I clamped the shank until the glue set.I sanded the glued shank with 180 grit sandpaper to remove the finish and the over flow of glue from the repair. I wanted to make the surface smooth so that I could either band it externally or do it internally and then refinish the shank.The next two photos show the gold/yellow colour of the paint in the stamping of the shank on both sides. Once I stripped the bowl of the varnish coat this would disappear and I would need to recreate it.I cleaned out the inside of the shank and the mortise with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. It was dirty but cleaned up easily. I repeated the same process on the airway in the stem. It too was easy to clean. I reamed out the bowl with the Savinelli Pipe Knife to take the cake back. Underneath the light cake I found that they original Yello-Bole coating was still in place.Once the glue on the shank had cured overnight I carefully put the stem in the shank to check the alignment of the stem and shank. I took the following photos of the pipe at this point in the process.I wiped the bowl down with acetone on cotton pads to remove the varnish coat that was crackling. It took some scrubbing but the finish came off quite easily and left the colour in the briar.I was careful to not wipe around the repaired shank as the acetone will dissolve super glue and I would be back to square one. I sanded the bowl with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to further remove the finish.I wiped the bowl down with a light coat of olive oil to see what the grain looked like.I cleaned the shank and used European Gold Rub N’ Buff to restore the gold in the stamping. I really like how Yello-Bole and some of the older American pipes utilized the gold leaf in the stamping to make it highly readable.I scrubbed the stem with Meguiar’s Scratch X2.0 to remove the majority of the oxidation and polish the stem. The residue of the oxidation is shown on the cotton pad under the stem.I sanded the remaining oxidation with 220 grit sandpaper to remove it from the surface of the stem. There were some small tooth marks on the top and bottom sides of the stem as well that I sanded out with the sandpaper.I wetsanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and gave the stem a coat of Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it a final rubdown with Obsidian Oil.I drilled out the tenon to the diameter of the stinger apparatus that had originally come with the old tenon. I made it large enough that the stinger was removable in order that the pipe could be smoked with or without the stinger.The band that Charles shipped me came on Friday and it was a good fit on the shank. I coated the shank with some white glue and pressed the band onto the shank. I wiped away the excess glue with a damp cotton pad.I used a dark brown stain pen to touch up the area around the shank repair that extended beyond the band. The colour worked well with the brown/red colour of the stain on the rest of the shank.I buffed the area around the band with White Diamond on the wheel to blend in the stain colour with the rest of the pipe. I buffed the entire pipe with Blue Diamond, being careful to avoid the nickel band. I have found that when I buff the band at the same time as the rest of the pipe the black from the nickel on the buffing pad is transferred to the shank and stem. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and gave the stem and bowl multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad and then with a microfibre cloth to deepen and raise the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I really like the way it turned out and I am sure glad that I was able to work a trade with Robb for the pipe.I took some final photos of the pipe. The first photo shows the stinger next to the bowl and stem go give an idea of the size of the stinger and the second photo shows the stinger in place in the stem. Thanks for looking.