Tag Archives: replacing putty fills with briar dust and super glue

The Third Pipe of a Foursome – A 2nd JR Handmade Canadian


Blog by Steve Laug

My brother Jeff picked up four pipes in classic shapes at an auction in Nampa, Idaho. All four pipes are stamped JR Handmade. Beside the Bulldog there were two Canadians and an Apple. All were stamped the same on the shank JR over Handmade and the opposite side Algerian Briar. I have been researching the brand on the web. I came across a potential pipemaker with the JR initials on Pipedia named J. Rinaldi but from what I can see he did not make classic shaped pipes. He pipes are very well made and have more of a freehand/freeform shape with shank adornments so it makes me wonder if these are his. I enlarged each photo on the Pipedia article but I was unable to see the stamping on his pipes for comparison sake. This leaves me with a lot of questions about the brand. The foursome came from the Boise, Idaho area like the House of Robertson pipes that I worked on last year. Those came from a pipe shop in Boise, Idaho and I wonder if it is not possible that the JR Handmade brand was also a pipe shop brand from a small shop in that area or even somehow connected with the House of Robertson brand. Perhaps I will never know… if any of you readers have any idea about the brand your help would be greatly appreciated.The above photo shows the foursome after Jeff had cleaned them. But before he cleaned each of them he took photos of the pipes as they came to him. I already wrote about the restoration of the Bulldog (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/01/28/the-first-of-a-foursome-a-jr-handmade-bulldog/) and the first Canadian (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/01/30/the-second-of-a-foursome-a-jr-handmade-canadian/). The next pipe is the second pipe down on the left side of the above photo – a classic Canadian with a flat rim top. It is longer than the previous Canadian and also has a longer stem. I have included the photos of the Canadian before cleanup. The pipe is very well made and follows the classic shape of an oval shank Canadian perfectly. The bowl was stained with a slightly different looking finish to the other pipes in the lot. It was more of a medium brown with no black undercoat. Because of that the grain showed up differently on this one. It is a well-shaped pipe that captures the mixture of flame and cross and birdseye grain around the bowl sides and shank. The top of the bowl had some damage on the top and inner edge. The inner edge had some knife marks on the right side at the top that left damage. The bowl had a very thick cake in the bowl. There was a light overflow of lava onto the rim top. The stamping on the top side of the oval shank read JR over HAND MADE. The stamping on the underside read Algerian Briar. The black vulcanite stem had light tooth dents and chatter on the top and the underside of the stem. Otherwise it was in very good condition. It was the most oxidized of the foursome and also had some calcification. Jeff took a close-up photo of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe pre-cleanup work. The rim top had some lava overflow and a lot of damage to the inner and outer edges of the bowl. The pipe is dirty with thick cake and damage around the rim.He also took a photo of the bottom of the bowl and shank to show the various grains on the pipe. Even though the photo is a bit blurry it show the finish of the bowl and that it is lighter in colour than the other pipes in the foursome. The finish is very dirty but this is another beautiful pipe.

The bowl also has a few fills on the back side of bow and lower right side.Jeff took a photo to capture the stamping on the topside of the oval shank. The photo shows stamping JR over HAND MADE. On the underside it reads Algerian Briar.  The next two photos show the stem surface. There are tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. There is also some wear on the sharp edge of the button. There is a thick oxidation and accost of calcification.As mentioned before, Jeff and I have developed a pattern of working on the pipes that has become habit to both Jeff and me. I include it here so you have a sense of that pattern. Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove the lava build up on the rim top and the rim top damage and the damage around the edges – both inner and outer is quite extensive. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it.   I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem. You can see the condition of the rim top and bowl in the first photo. Jeff was able to remove all of the tar and oils but you can now see the burn damage to the back inner edge of the bowl. The vulcanite stem had light tooth chatter and some tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem near and on the button surface.I took photos of the stamping on both sides of the oval shank. You can see that the stamping on both sides was light toward the front of the pipe. It was still readable but faint nonetheless.I decided to address the rim top damage first. I topped the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board to remove the damage to the top and the outer edges of the rim top. I was also able to reduce the damage to the back inner edge of the rim.I also needed to take care of the inner edge so I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the burn marks and darkening around the edge. I gave the edge a very slight bevel to minimize the damage. The pink putty fills bugged me! I used a dental pick to remove them as much as possible and wiped the briar down with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the dust and debris. I filled in the holes with clear super glue and briar dust to repair the fills.When the repairs had cured I sanded them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the into the surface of the briar.I sanded the repairs smooth and blended them into the rest of the bowl. It took a bit of work but soon they were blended in. I would need to stain the bowl repairs but first I want to polish the sanding marks out. I polished the rim top, the edge and exterior of the bowl and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim off after each sanding pad to remove the dust. The damage on the rim edges and top looked really good after polishing. I decided to stain the entire pipe with a tan stain. I heated the briar, applied the stain and flamed it to set it in the grain. I repeated the process until I was satisfied with the coverage of the stain.I set the bowl aside overnight to let the stain cure and set in the briar.I buffed the bowl the next evening after work with red Tripoli and Blue Diamond to remove the crust coat of the stain and bring the briar to life. I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on a cotton pad to make it more transparent. Once I finished the cleanup of the stain I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the smooth surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little wall and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The reworked rim top looks really good and matches the colour of the rest of the pipe. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. There were some tooth marks on the top and underside at the button that needed to be addressed. I also needed to do some work on the surface of the button on both sides. I also sanded away some of the surface oxidation.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish and wiped it down with a last coat of Obsidian Oil. With this third JR Hand Made pipes from the Nampa, Idaho auction I am even more certain that there is some connection to the House of Robertson Pipe Shop in Boise, Idaho. I wonder if it is a seconds line for House of Robertson. Even with the fills and the repairs to the pipe this is another nice pipe. The three of the four JR Hand Made pipes that I have to restore are really well made and shaped. The stain job was done to highlight the mix of grain on the bowl. I polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The contrasting grain really began to stand out; it seemed to take on life with the buffing. The rich contrasting brown colour works well with the polished black vulcanite stem. This finished pipe has a rich look just like the Bulldog and the other Canadian and it is also quite catching. Have a look at it in the photos below. It is a longer and slimmer looking pipe. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 6 1/2 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. I will be putting this newly finished JR Hand Made Canadian on the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over the third of the foursome from JR Hand Made pipes.

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Breathing New Life into an Iwan Ries Jacques 169 Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table from the estate sale to be refurbished is a small apple that is stamped JACQUES on the left side of the shank and Iwan Ries & Co on the right side. It is also stamped 169 (Shape Number) on the underside of the shank at the stem/shank junction. The piece of briar is really a beauty with a mix of grains. The right side of the bowl has some beautiful birdseye grain that just pops. The combination of the yellow, cream coloured Lucite stem with the medium brown stain on the bowl works well and brings out the reds in the briar. Jeff took some photos of the pipe when he brought it home and before he worked his magic cleaning it up. He took some photos of the pipe to show the condition. The first of these shows the cake in the bowl and the lava overflow on the rim top. The rounded rim top looked like it was also darkened but I would know for sure once he had cleaned the top of the bowl.The next three photos show the stamping on the bowl. It is sharp and readable. There are also three stars on the left side of the taper stem as well. On the underside of the stem it is also stamped France. I am not sure if that is in reference to the entire pipe or just the stem being made in France. The next series of close up photos of the bowl show the overall condition of the pipe. The first photo shows the damaged fills on the left front of the bowl. These will need to be picked out and repaired to take care of the crumbling putty. The following photos show the now familiar tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem near the button. Unfortunately they are a bit hard to see as the colour of the Lucite obscures them. The top has tooth chatter and the underside has both chatter and a few deeper tooth marks.My brother worked his cleanup magic on the pipe and when it came to me the bowl had been reamed and cleaned. The airway in the shank and stem had been scrubbed with alcohol and pipe cleaners and the mortise cleaned with cotton swabs and alcohol. The pipe was in pristine condition internally. All I had to do was rework the fills and sand out the tooth marks on the stem. The next four photos show the pipe upon arrival in Vancouver. Jeff had been able to remove the cake in the bowl and all of the lava from the rim top. There was indeed some rim darkening that would need to be taken care of but it was very clean.  The second photo shows the ugly, damaged fills on the left front of the bowl.The stem looked really good and the tooth marks and chatter are even harder to see than in the previous photos but they are there.I picked out the damaged putty fills with a dental pick until they were clean. I wiped down the area with an alcohol dampened cloth to remove any remaining debris. I filled the areas with briar dust and clear super glue. It dries dark but that will work in these fills that follow the grain pattern of the bowl.Once the patch had dried I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the excess fill and then with 320 sandpaper to smooth that out a bit. I polished the repair with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit sanding pads to smooth out all the scratches. I touched up the repaired area with a dark brown stain pen. The colour of the stain matched the bowl perfectly and the fills blended in better than they were before.I hand buffed the bowl with a microfibre cloth to have a look at the rest of it and get a feel for the finished look. I ran a pipe cleaner through the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem to check for any debris that might have collected from my sanding. They were still very clean.Now it was time to take care of the tooth marks on the stem. I sanded them out with 220 grit sandpaper and smooth that out with 320 grit paper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down between each pad with a water dampened cotton pad to remove the sanding debris. I put the stem back on the pipe and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I am skittish about buffing Lucite as it can heat up quickly and then make a mess of the work that has been done. I used a gentle touch to buff the stem and powered through buffing the bowl and shank. I took care not to damage the stamping on the shank. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 5/8 inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It turned out to be a beautiful pipe and the repaired fills look better than when it left the factory. This one is available if you want to add it to your rack. Email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send a private message via Facebook if you are interested. Thanks for looking.

Another addition to the oddities collection: an Unsmoked Sterilizator Pipe Deposee


Blog by Steve Laug

When my brother sent me the photo of this pipe it was one that I wanted to see close up. It was one of those oddities that seem to catch my attention. It is yet another attempt at finding the elusive perfect smoke. This one appeared to be unsmoked. He had the winning bid on eBay and soon it was on its way to Idaho. When it arrived it was indeed unsmoked and in very good shape. The shank was stamped Sterilizator Pipe in an arc over Deposee. The stamping was filled in with gold leaf. The name Sterilizator is catchy and the word Deposee in French is translated Registered. I looked online for any information on the pipe and came up empty. I will continue to dig but at this point it is not hopeful. From the photos that he took I can see a thin line around the shank end next to the stem. It obviously had a band originally but that was missing. I could also see from his photos that there were several large fills in the side of the bowl and the base. bowl1 Bowl2 Bowl3My brother scrubbed the bowl to remove the grime on the finish before he sent it to me. He is getting really good at the cleanup of the pipes that he sends me. Generally there is little for me to do. In this case he removed all of the grime from the finish which appears to have been a medium brown stain and lots of wax from the above photos. I took the next four photos to show the way the pipe looked when I brought it to my work table.bowl4 Bowl5I removed the stem and unscrewed the bowl from the base. The metal spacer ring was loose and came off the bowl once I removed it. The bowl had three holes in the bottom of the threaded neck that screwed into the base cup. The cup had an interesting clay tablet in the hollow bowl. It had a single hole in the top of the tablet and was like a spool. The inside of the ring in the middle of the spool had holes in it as well. The idea was that the smoke was drawn into the base and it goes through the top hole and out the holes in the ring. The base cup has twin holes that enter the airway in the shank. The fills in the bowl and base are visible in the photos below. The stem was in great shape with no tooth marks. The tenon was unique and I had not seen anything like it in any of the pipes I have restored.Bowl6The front of the bowl had a large pink putty fill in it that really bothered me. I know that the pipe was unsmoked before and was new old stock and really did not to be removed and repaired. But it bothered me. In the photo below it is the shiny spot on the bowl.Bowl7I used a dental pick to remove the fill. It was surprisingly soft and porous so it came out easily. The hole in the side of the bowl was quite large and deep. I also picked out a fill in the base on the left side near the bottom.Bowl8I used the dental spatula to press briar dust into the hole in both the bowl and the base. I dripped clear super glue into the briar dust and pressed more briar dust into the glue.Bowl9The next two photos show the repairs on the bowl and base. The glue had a slight bulge that I would sand down to match the surface of the briar. The second photo shows the stamping on the shank.Bowl10I sanded the bowl and the base with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the patch in with the rest of the surface area. Once I was finished it needed to be refilled to get all of the tiny air holes in the repair but I would do that a bit later.Bowl11I sanded the entire bowl and base with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I used a dental pick to smear all purpose glue on the inside of the brass spacer and then pressed it onto the bottom of the bowl.Bowl12I wiped out the bowl in the base of the pipe with a few cotton swabs and alcohol and then put the clay spool back into the base.Bowl13I put the base and bowl back together. I touched up the repairs and sanded them smooth. After that I sanded it with 3200-4000 grit micromesh sanding pads to polish it.Bowl14 Bowl15I sanded the bowl with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to further polish it.Bowl16 Bowl17I stained the bowl and base with a dark brown stain thinned by 50% to reduce the darkness of the stain. (Earlier Mark asked why I did this and my reply was that I am out of a lighter colour stain so I improvised.)Bowl18I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down between each set of three pads with Obsidian Oil.Bowl19 Bowl20 Bowl21With the pipe restored and the stem polished I put it back together and carefully buffed it with Blue Diamond. I worked around the gold stamping so as not to damage it. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I finished by buffing it by hand with a microfibre cloth. This one will grace my collection of oddities that have been invented in the passionate search for the perfect smoke. It is a beauty. Thanks for looking.Bowl22 Bowl23 Bowl24 Bowl25 Bowl26 Bowl27 Bowl28 Bowl29 Bowl30 Bowl31 Bowl32

 

Worn and Tired No Name Pot Given a New Look


The next pipe I decided to work on from the gift box was a no name pot shaped bowl without a stem. There was a stem in the box that fit well in the threaded metal shank. The problem with the stem was that it was worn out. There was a large dent on the top of the stem and a large hole in the underside of the stem that also had much damage around the hole. The stem was also over turned. The shape was unique in that the bowl had a slight cant to it. The finish was ruined and the grit and grime on the bowl was heavy. There were four fills using pink putty that stood out on the bowl left side, front and bottom. The rim was thickly tarred and oiled. The outer edge was damaged all the way around the bowl. The cake was quite thick and was crumbling at the bottom of the bowl. The shank was thick with tars as well. The aluminum was oxidized. IMG_1745 IMG_1746 IMG_1747 IMG_1748 I used a lighter and a heat gun to heat the metal tenon and was able to adjust the stem to a proper fit on the shank. It softened the glue and lined up nicely but when I heated the top side of the stem to try to raise the dent it bubbled even at a distance of three inches plus above the heat source. Yet another reason I don’t like nylon stems. IMG_1749 IMG_1750 IMG_1751 IMG_1757 Looking at it carefully after I had straightened it out I could see that the stem was really worn out and would be better used on a different pipe after it had been cut down. I heated the tenon once again and was able to remove the stem from the tenon. The tenon itself was threaded and screwed into the stem. I had a taper stem in my can of stems that had a broken tenon. I sanded the remainder of the broken tenon until it was smooth. Noname The new stem was the slightly longer than the original stem and it was vulcanite. I drilled out the airway until the metal tenon end fit the in the stem. I held the drill firmly and turned the stem onto the drill bit by hand. I used a tap to cut threads in the freshly drilled hole. IMG_1759 IMG_1761 I beveled the drilled hole to accommodate the lip on the threaded tenon so that it would sit flush with the face of the stem. I mixed a batch of two part quick dry epoxy and coated the threaded end of the tenon before threading it into the hole in the stem. IMG_1762 IMG_1763 I set the stem aside to let the epoxy cure and turned to work on the bowl. The bowl needed to be reamed so I used a PipNet reamer to do the work. I started with the smallest cutting head and continued until I used one the same size as the bowl of the pipe. I scrubbed out the shank and bowl with alcohol and pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the shank and bowl were clean. IMG_1764 IMG_1765 I set up my topping board and a piece of 220 grit sandpaper and topped the bowl to remove the out rim damage and sharpen the edges of the bowl. I folded a piece of sandpaper and sanded the outer edge once it had been topped. I smoothed out the rough edges until the damage was minimized. IMG_1766 IMG_1767 I used a dental pick to remove the pink putty fills. I cleaned the surface with acetone to remove the dust and the remaining putty in the holes after I had picked them out. IMG_1768 IMG_1769 IMG_1770 IMG_1771 I packed briar dust into the holes in the briar and then dripped super glue into the briar dust to mix with the dust and make a hard fill. I over filled the holes in the briar with the dust and glue so that when it shrunk as it dried it would not leave dips in the surface of the briar. IMG_1772 IMG_1773 IMG_1774 I sanded the filled areas with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the excess and smooth out the fill until it was even with the surface of the briar. I sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge and a fine grit sanding block. The new fills were black instead of the bright pink that was previously used in the repairs. Once stained they would be less obvious in the surface of the bowl than the previous ones. IMG_1775 IMG_1776 IMG_1777 I stained the bowl with Danish Oil and walnut stain and set the bowl aside to dry. IMG_1778 IMG_1779 IMG_1780 IMG_1781 The next morning I checked the fit of the stem as the epoxy had plenty of time to set and cure. I sanded the stem to reduce the diameter at the shank. I used 150 grit sandpaper to remove the excess while repeatedly screwing it into the shank to check that I had removed enough but not too much. IMG_1782 IMG_1783 IMG_1784 IMG_1785 I sanded the stem further with 220 grit sandpaper to remove more of the excess and to also reduce the scratches left behind by the 150 grit paper. I polished the aluminum with a fine grit sanding sponge and removed the oxidation and the scratches. When I had finished sanding the fit of the stem was exactly what I wanted and it only needed to be polished with micromesh sanding pads. IMG_1786 IMG_1787 IMG_1789 IMG_1790 I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit sanding pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each set of three grits. I buffed the stem with White Diamond to give it a final polish and then rubbed it down a final time with the Obsidian Oil. Once it was dry I hand buffed it and fit it on the pipe. IMG_1797 IMG_1798 IMG_1799 I buffed whole pipe with White Diamond and gave it several coats of carnauba wax to raise a shine. I wanted to protect and shine the bowl and stem. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The new stem with the retrofitted metal tenon fit extremely well. I like the overall look of the pipe far better than the original look with the saddle stem. The pipe is ready to give many more years of service to the next pipeman whose rack it graces. The end of the stinger is removable so that the pipe can be smoked with or without the stinger. 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A New Look for an Italian Made Billiard – Restemmed and Reworked


This is yet another bowl from the bottom of the box of pipes for refurbishing. This one is an Italian made no name basket pipe. The stamping merely says Imported Briar Italy. The finish was spotty and peeling from the bowl. It almost looked like a dark brown opaque stain coat and then a thick varnish coat over that. The bowl was badly caked, the shank was filthy and the rim caked and peeling. There were some large fills on the left side of the bowl that were coming out of the holes and were peeling around the edges. The bowl did not have a stem so I found one in my box of stems that fit with a little adjustment to the tenon.
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I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer to take the cake back to bare briar. The bowl and shank smelled heavily of aromatics with a fruity overtone and I wanted to remove that so that the new owner could form a cake of his/her own choice.
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The stem was too large in diameter at the stem shank junction. So I sanded it back with a sanding drum on a Dremel. I have found that a Dremel run a medium speed can be carefully used to take back the diameter of a stem to almost match the shank with the stem in the shank. Care must be exercised so as not to nick the briar of the shank with the sanding drum.
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I took the pipe back to the work table and sanded it until it fit well with 220 grit sandpaper. I also decided to sand the shank with the sandpaper as well to achieve a good flow from shank to stem. I also wanted to remove the heavy black/brown finish on the pipe so removing it from the shank was not problematic.
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Once I had sanded the transition smooth I wiped the bowl down with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the remainder of the finish on the bowl.
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After wiping it down I gave it a buff with red Tripoli on the buffing wheel to remove the remainder of the finish and give me an idea of what would still need to be done with the bowl.
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I sanded the bowl with a medium grit sanding sponge and then picked out the large broken fills on the left side of the bowl. I wiped it with acetone to clean it one more time before packing the fills with briar dust. I packed in the briar dust with a dental pick and then tamped it down with flat head tamper to make sure the pack was good and tight. I dripped some superglue gel into the briar dust and then more briar dust on top of the glue. I tamped it another time to get a good solid fill. I sanded the excess briar dust superglue mixture with 220 grit sandpaper and then a medium grit sanding sponge.
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I stained the pipe with a dark brown aniline stain thinned 2:1 with isopropyl alcohol as the undercoat on the pipe. I stained and flamed the stain repeatedly until the coverage was even and solid over the entire pipe. The patch on the side is still visible but in no longer flaking and falling out the fill. The surface remains slightly rough but I will continue to sand it before giving it another coat of stain.
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I buffed the bowl with Red Tripoli and then with White Diamond in preparation for the next coat of stain. I sanded the fill area with a fine grit sanding sponge and then sanded the bowl with micromesh sanding pads 1500-2400 grit. I then restained the bowl with a oxblood stain as the second coat on the bowl. I applied it and flamed it until the coverage was even. Then buffed it with White Diamond.
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During this second staining I removed the stem and examined the end of the shank and saw small hairline cracks in several places. They did not go through to the surface of the shank but they were troublesome enough to me that I decided to band the pipe. There were also several nicks in the outer edge of the shank that made a tight fit relatively impossible to attain. I heated a nickel band with a heat gun and pressure fit it in place on the shank. I had to reduce the tenon slightly to get a good fit on the stem. I also sanded the stem around the junction so that it would fit properly against the banded shank.
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The fills still needed more work but for the time being I worked on the stem some more. I sanded it with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and I took it to the buffer and buffed it with White Diamond and gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax.
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I decided to do some more work on the areas of the fills. I sanded the areas of the fills down with 220 grit sandpaper and then a medium grit sanding sponge. I then sanded the entire bowl and shank with a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the finish. I wiped it down with a cotton pad and Everclear to remove the last of the finish and also the sanding grit. I used superglue to refill the fills and even out the surface and dips that still remained after the first reworking. I then sanded the spots with 220 grit sandpaper, a medium grit and a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches and blend the fills into the surface of the bowl.
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I stained the bowl with a 2:1 mixture of aniline dark brown stain and isopropyl alcohol. I applied the stain with a cotton swab and flamed it. I reapplied and reflamed it several times until I had a good even coverage on the bowl and shank.
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I buffed the pipe with White Diamond to smooth out the surface of the bowl and then gave it a top coat of oxblood stain. I wiped the stain on with a cotton pad and flamed it repeating the process until I was happy with the coverage on the bowl. I was much happier now with the fills as they were smooth to the touch and there were no more pits or divots in them.
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I took the pipe to the buffer and buffed the bowl and stem with White Diamond one more time. It brought a deep rich shine to the bowl and the stem. I then gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect and polish the pipe. The four photos below show the finished pipe. It is ready for someone to load it and fire it up. It should provide a reliable and lightweight pipe for someone’s rack.
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Rejuvenating A Nicely Grained Merchants Service Apple


I bought a pair of older pipes on EBay for a good price. I have written about the refurbishment of the first – the ¾ bent Royal Falcon in an earlier blog post. This particular post is about the second pipe. It is pictured at the top of the first two photos below and on the left in the third photo. It is stamped on the left side of the shank with the words, Merchants over Service in block capital letters over London Made also in block caps though smaller stamp. There is a shape number stamped next to the above stamping and just prior to the stem – 519. The photos below were supplied by the seller in the EBay sale. The seller said that the finish on the pipe looked very good in the photos and the stem was in good shape without cracks, dents or tooth chatter. They also said that the bowl was clean but previously smoked.
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While I waited for its arrival I did a bit of hunting on the web to find out what I could about the brand. There was not much information available and what was there was attached to Bing Crosby. What I found out about the brand on the internet turns out to have originally come from Jose Manuel Lopes great work called Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks. The Merchant Service Pipe was a former English brand of pipe made by Merchant Service Ltd. It was a firm created by Herbert Merchant (d.1944) and which later belonged to Holland Penny Limited. It turns out that the company was a favourite of the North American Entertainer Bing Crosby. That is not a lot of information and I would love to find some more. If anyone who reads this has more information please do not hesitate to post it in the response boxes below.

I took the pipe to my worktable this morning and worked on the stem. It was pretty clean though it had some oxidation on the left side next to the shank and some tooth chatter on the top and bottom of the stem next to the button. I sanded the stem with 1500 grit micromesh to remove the oxidation and to sand away the tooth chatter next to the button. I wet sanded with the micromesh pad until the finish was a matte black and free of oxidation and marks. The next four photos show the stem after this initial sanding.
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The underside of the bowl was covered with many fills of a pinkish coloured putty that showed through the finish.
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I decided to remove the largest of the putty fills and rework them with briar dust and superglue. To prepare the surface of the briar for reworking the fills I wiped down the surface of the bowl with acetone on a cotton pad. As I removed the grime and some of the dark buildup on the bowl a beautiful grain began to pop out on the briar. This one was going to be a beauty when I finished refurbishing it.
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I cleaned out the inside of the pipe and stem before working on the fills. It took many pipe cleaners and cotton swabs to remove the buildup inside the stem and shank. The shank had a reservoir area below the airway and it had collected a lot of tars and build up. The stem was also dirty on the inside.
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When I had finished cleaning it I removed the stem and turned the bowl over on the worktable to begin to pick out the putty in the fills. Once I had the putty picked out I wiped the surface down with acetone once again to remove the debris that might be left behind in the flaws. I packed briar dust into the cleaned areas and tamped it down into the grooves. Once it was tightly packed I dripped clear superglue into the repaired area and pushed some more briar dust into the superglue surface. When it was dry, which takes very little time, I would sand down the surface to make it match the bowl surface.
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I sanded the superglue/briar dust fill with 220 grit sandpaper and a medium grit sanding sponge to remove the excess of the patch (I always overfill them as they tend to shrink as the glue dries). The third photo below shows the patch after the sanding has blended it into the surface of the bowl. I sanded it with micromesh sanding pads 1500-3200 grit to prepare the surface for the restaining. I wiped it down a final time with acetone on a cotton pad to remove all grit from the sanding. It was ready for a restaining.
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I applied a dark brown aniline stain mixed with two parts isopropyl alcohol to one part dark brown stain. I used a cotton swab to apply it to the newly sanded area of the repair and flamed it and restained until it matched the rest of the bowl. When that was finished I gave a light coat of stain and flamed it to the entire bowl to blend in the restain on the bottom even more. The next five photos show the restained bowl bottom and then the retouched remainder of the bowl.
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With the bowl finished and ready to go it was time to tackle the stem. I sanded it with micromesh sanding pads from 1500-12,000 grit. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit and dry sanded with the remaining grits. The next three photos below show the progressive shine building on the stem. Once it was finished I buffed it with White Diamond and then rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil to protect it. When it had dried I put it back on the pipe and took it to the buffer.
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I buffed the entirety (carefully around the stamping) with White Diamond a final time and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean flannel buffing pad. Once it was finished I loaded up a bowl of Balkan Sobranie Virginian No. 10 and went for a long walk on a cool and dry fall day in Vancouver. It is a great smoking pipe and one that is one of my favourite shapes.
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Cleaning up a Swedish Bromma Dollar System Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

I picked up this old Swedish Pipe in a little town in Northern Alberta, Canada. It was an antique mall, the only one in town and I was able to pick up this one for about $10 so I did not feel too bad about it. I had not seen one of these pipes before. It is stamped BROMMA over Sweden on one side of the shank. On the other there is an Elephant logo in a circle and inside the circle is the word DOLLAR. The bowl is briar and the rest of the pipe seems to be either plastic or Bakelite. It is interesting. I was able to take the stem out when I picked it up but the bowl would not budge. It was definitely a screw on bowl as it was on crooked and at somewhat of an angle. The stem had tooth chatter on the top and bottom but no tooth dents. I sprayed some solvent on the bowl stem connection to try to loosen it. I twisted it carefully but it would not budge so I set it in my box of pipes for repair.

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Today was my day to work on it. I took it out of the box and gave the bowl a twist and it would not budge. I used the sanding board to top the bowl and once it was smooth and clean I wiped the entire bowl with acetone. I was careful not to get any on the shank or bottom of the part. I then used Isopropyl and a cotton swab to swab alcohol around the bowl and the bottom portion of the pipe – the keeper for lack of a better word. I repeated this several times and tried to carefully twist the bowl off the keeper. I repeated the swab and alcohol until finally I was able to twist it off the keeper. The next two photos below show what I found inside the keeper portion of the pipe. This is amazingly like the stem portion of the Falcon pipes. The difference is the material it is made of. It is incredibly lightweight and resilient. The base was absolutely full of hardened tars and sludge. My guess is that it had never been taken apart after the initial purchase and after the bowl was put on and misaligned. This would take some work to be sure. The stuff was as hard as rock and would not budge with a pipe cleaner.

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I decided to drop the bowl into the alcohol bath and let it soak away while I worked on the stem and base portion. I used my dental pick and Isopropyl alcohol to work at the rocklike tar in the base. I soaked the tarry stuff with alcohol and picked at it with the dental pick. Once I had some of it loose I would use the cotton swabs to daub out the gunk and alcohol and then repeat the process. The next series of three photos show the process of picking away the tar and the results after wiping it clean with the swabs. I probably used about 60 or more swabs and removed a lot of the gunk from the bottom of the base. I soaked it and kept at it. I used 0000 steel wool to scrub the tars once I had the majority of the material picked free. Then I took it to the sink and used a microfiber cloth to scrub the base with hot water and degreaser.

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The next two photos show the inside of the base after it has been thoroughly cleaned. The shank itself was almost like a Kirsten barrel and need lots of soft tissue and cloth run through it until it was clean and shiny on the inside. The photos are slightly out of focus but the cleanness of the base is very visible.

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I then removed the bowl from the alcohol bath and went to work on it. I picked out the two putty fills with my dental pick. I also followed the threads with the dental pick to remove the grime and grit that filled the threads and did not allow the bowl to be threaded on correctly. I also used a bristle tooth brush and alcohol to scrub the bottom of the bowl from the threads down to the nipple like structure on the bottom. The next four photos show the bottom of the bowl and the threads after cleaning them. There is an inset portion of the bowl bottom that is like a moat around an island that has the moutainlike nipple in the centre. This took quite a few cotton swabs to clean the grime out of the channel. Once it was clean there is a patent stamp on it. It reads Pat. S. I am guessing it is a Swedish Patent mark. The portion of the bowl that is threaded seems like it is made of the same kind of material as the base of the pipe. The mountain in the middle is briar. It is an interesting and unique design. I am looking forward to firing it up and giving it a smoke once it is finished.

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Once the bowl was clean I decided to replace the fills with briar dust and super glue. The next series of photos show that process. I had already picked out the putty fill. I used a dental pick to tamp briar dust into the pits on the bowl. The first picture shows the briar dust before I wiped it smooth and added a few drops of super glue to the mix. The second and third photo are a bit out of focus but show the repaired fills after I sanded them down with sandpaper to smooth the surface to match the surface of the bowl.

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The bowl was now ready to be stained with an oxblood coloured aniline stain. I applied the stain with a cotton swab and then flamed it and buffed it off. The first two photos below show the stain applied and ready to be flamed with a match. I held the bowl with a dauber so that I could manipulate it to apply the stain.

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The next two photos show the bowl after a buff with Tripoli. I had not polished them at all at this point I merely buffed off the stain to get an even coat on the bowl sides and rim. The great thing with the briar and super glue fill is that it takes the stain and darkens with the finish coat. It is far more attractive to me than the pink putty fills that were originally present.

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The next two photos show the pipe taken apart. There is the bowl base and long shank that is made of the plastic or Bakelite material, the bowl itself. It has a small burn mark on the top of the rim but I left it rather than take it down any deeper into the surface. The third portion is the stem unit with a four finned stinger apparatus. The airflow is straight through from the bottom of the bowl to the slot in the button. The stinger with cooling fins is designed to cool the smoke and trap the tar and oils along the fins. This portion and the inside of the stem took work to clean. It is open enough to take a pipe cleaner through it with no problem.

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The final four photos are of the complete pipe reassembled and ready to smoke. I coated the bowl base and stem with Obsidian Oil and then hand waxed it with Halcyon II wax and buffed it to a shine by hand as I did not want to risk it on the buffer. I have had this kind of material melt when buffed so I am shy to try it on this pipe. The stem was sanded with micromesh sanding pads from 1500-12,000 grit and then polished with Maguiar’s Plastic polish as I have been doing on all of the pipes lately. I put some carnauba wax on the threads of the bowl to lubricate make the threads as I screwed on the bowl.

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