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

Gifting My Dear Friend, Dal Stanton, an Alexander Zavvos Hygrosystem Pipe

Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Steve, his brother, Jeff and Dal Stanton, The Pipe Steward, were on a visit to India in early May 2019. It was a fun filled week and also a great learning. I have always admired the finish that Dal imparts to the pipes he restores while I am amazed at the speed, the measured quantum of work that Steve puts in his restoration processes and also the profound knowledge that he has on all things pipes!! I was fortunate to see and learn these nuances first hand. I had a desire that there should be a unique pipe which all three of us should have (Jeff being a non smoker) and had laid down for myself, the following parameters for identifying THAT PIPE!

(a) Both should not be having this pipe in their personal collection (knowing well that this would be a very tall order!!)

(b) The pipe must have some historical significance and should have made a contribution to the world’s pipe history.

(c) It must come from a well known carver or manufacturer.

The pipe selected is an ALEXANDER ZAVVOS HYGROSYSTEM, PAT.No 87033, made in the 1970s-80s. What followed was an extensive and prolonged hunt for two such pipes of which the first one was purchased from one seller on Pinterest and the second was on eBay. These pipes were received separately and the last delivery materialized a couple of days prior to the arrival of these esteemed guests. Here are both the pipes as I received them.Since Mr. Dal was the first to arrive in India, he was given a choice between the two. He selected one with an Apple shape and the remaining willy-nilly came to Steve. At that point in time, both Dal and I discussed that it would be the Apple shape that Steve would have selected but… It’s Dal’s pipe now. The stamping on the Apple is crisp and easy to make out. It reads on the left of the shank as “ALEXANDER” over “HYGROSYSTEM” over a square with letter “Zb” over “GREECE”. The right side of the shank is marked as “EX # 207- *”, denoting the shape code, size and grade (?). The bottom of the shank bears the stamping “PAT No. 87033” over “06/ 89”, which I believe is the date code indicating that the pipe was made in June of 1989. I re-searched this pipe on pipedia.org and reproduce excerpts of information on this pipe carver, in his own words, and his immense contributions to the Greek pipe industry in particular and entire world’s pipe community.

I am Alexandros Zavvos, born in Molos, Thermopylae, near Lamia. Since I was a child I had an inclination for art, starting with painting. I studied Radio-electronics, and at age 23 I got involved with commerce with a capital of 150.000 drs. in 1962.

I entered the pipe business where I met, by total chance, with Mr. Libero G. Albanese, first technician and producer of briar-wood models in Kalabria, Italy. When I told him that I am Greek, he almost prayed, saying that we Greeks have the best briar in the world for pipe-making! From that moment on I understood that this fellow is in love with his work – and he transmitted that to me instantly!

From mid-1962 to 1963 I searched all over the world for a college or a school in order to be taught the art of pipe-making, but in vain – there were none. Moreover, I wasn’t able to make it through the big European pipe-makers of that time (British, Italian, Danish). I was convinced that only through experience there was a chance of me becoming what I wanted.

In 1964 I started the commercial briar-wood model production, in 1965 I constructed empirically my first pipe and in 1967 I started the vertical production (this is from the briar Greek woods to the consumer) – maybe there is no other factory in the world producing smoking pipes vertically.

In 1970 I started the research, which was accomplished in 1984, on the 1st generation hygrostatic system. In that same period we founded, my brother and I, our factory in Lamia for the production of ebony epistomes.

Today, 40 years later, I have successfully arrived at the production of the 5th generation hygrostatic pipe. I will finish by saying that this pipe, to what concerns the pleasure it provides, has nothing to do with that pipe for peace, offered by American Indians.        

Update:Today I am saddened by the news that Alexander passed away on February 10th, 2015. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. We are very thankful for his contributions to the World of pipes. —sethile (talk) 21:00, 12 February 2015 (UTC). 

The description given by the seller on eBay was equally informative and I reproduce the same for the readers to get a fair idea of the famed Hygrosystem that has been incorporated into the construction of this pipe.

A patented Hygro-system pipe by the greatest and most known (now deceased) Greek pipe manufacturer Alexander (Zabos / Zavvos). His old pieces are by now becoming rare and sought after, as his son who took over the business is not equal to the father. His stamp (Z with a B lower) comes from the two consonants in his name the way it is spelled in Greek. Very big and well known European pipe makers have purchased top briars from Alexander Zavvos, since the Greek briars are among the best in the world.

A few things about Alexader Zabos’s patent : The hygrostatic system  is the result of 35 years research and experience. It is based on the Bernoulli principle, has been allowed to be patterned (No 87833) by the Greek Ministry of Industry and Energy. Unlike most filter or no-filter pipes, the Alexander Hygrostatic Pipe reduces drastically moisture and other heavy residue (such as tar etc), which otherwise could be inhaled into our lungs and extinguishes a bitterness and a burning on the tongue.

Alexander Zavvos’s Hygrosystem pipes were quite expensive if bought new (the cheapest had a value of 160-170 euros) and have become highly collectible after the death of the manufacturer.

From the above information, it is safe to infer that this pipe is from the first generation of the hygrosystem pipes from Alexander Zavvos and made in March 1989.

I have given a detailed description on deconstructing this line of pipes and also a detailed explanation, as I understood it, on the application of the principle employed in the hygrosystem for which these pipes became famous, in my previous write up on a similar pipe which is on its way to Steve in Vancouver, Canada. Here is the link to that article, https://rebornpipes.com/2019/08/02/gifting-my-mentor-and-dear-friend-steve-an-alexander-zavvos-hygrosystem-pipe/

This is a very ornate and beautiful pipe with a perfect shape, size and hand feel with a delicate and a smallish stem. The forward heavy weight of the pipe does not lend itself to clenching and would best be enjoyed while being held in the hand. The brass band at the shank end, the vulcanite band at the shank end of the aluminum shank extension and again a brass band at the tenon end of this shank extension should add a nice classy touch to the pipe’s appearance once polished and it also helps to break the monotony of the briar. The stummel has beautiful mixed grain with a combination of straight on the sides and front with bird’s eye and swirls over the heel and shank. All this beauty is hidden under the accumulation of dirt and grime over the years. The stummel has numerous dents and ding over the entire surface. However, save for one large fill (marked in yellow arrow) and unlike the pipe which will be going to Steve, there are no major issues of fills or cracks that I foresee on this stummel. The outer rim edge curves inwards to form a narrow rim top surface  and shows a slight overflow of lava on the rim top and the surface itself is peppered with numerous dents and dings which should be easy to sort out by sanding the rim top with a piece of 220 grit sand paper.The chamber has a thick and even layer of cake which shrouds the condition of the walls of the chamber. However, the feel of the bowl is solid and I hope there are no major surprises here. There is a brass ring at the shank end which extends inside the shank with threads on to which the aluminum shank extension is screwed in. This brass ring should add a bit of glitz to the pipe appearance once polished. The mortise is clogged and heavy crust of dried oils and tars are clearly visible. This will take some effort to clean out.The screw-in aluminum shank extension that houses a filter is covered in oils and tars. Also the smaller aperture pipe protrusion at the stem end is covered in gunk and tars. The vulcanite band at the shank end and the brass band at the tenon end will need to be polished. The briar at the tenon end is nice and solid with no damage, and that’s a big relief having experienced the challenges firsthand with Steve’s pipe, how difficult it is to address issues on this part of the pipe. The wood gasket which is housed in the tenon end of the shank extension has been dislodged from its place and is stuck on to the tenon. The vulcanite stem with its fused briar at the tenon end is generally in good shape, save for the broken and missing nearly half of the stem. The break is at an angle and only a tiny portion of the button end on one side is available to me as a reference. This should be more than sufficient for me to undertake a complete rebuild of the missing portion of the stem. The stem is very lightly oxidized and the fused and decorative briar saddle, though covered in oils, tars and grime, is intact. The tenon is dirty and clogged with all the gunk and dried oils and tars left behind by the previous owner of this pipe. I took a few close-up pictures of the stem and broken edge of the stem for the readers to better assimilate what I would be dealing with during the stem rebuild. I have the option of cutting off the stem at the point of break and thereafter rebuild and shape a new button on either side, but this would drastically shorten the already short stem and toss the symmetry of this beautiful pipe right through the window. And remember, my dear readers, that this pipe is being sent to my dear friend and a pipe restorer par excellence, Dal!! He is a perfectionist, to say the least. I intend to use the intact part of the stem as a guide for determining the length of the stem, the flare at the button end and the length of the slot and I would be attempting all this by eyeballing all the measurements as I do not have any Vernier calipers for exact measurements. I know, that’s hell of a lot of eyeballing that I would be doing during the restoration.THE PROCESS
It is the stem reconstruction that takes the most amount of time what with all the curing, sanding, refilling if needed, shaping and polishing and, therefore, I always prefer to start with repairs to the stem. Firstly, I sand off the area of intended fill with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. This not only evens out the surface for the fill but also gets rid of the oxidation which would otherwise show itself through the fills as a brown patch after polishing. This was followed by cleaning up the internals of the stem and the tenon with regular and bristled pipe cleaners dipped in 99% pure isopropyl alcohol. With a dental pick, I scrubbed out the dried gunk from the tenon and from along the broken button end edges. I had seen Dal use a folded triangular index card while reconstructing a broken button end whereas I always used a petroleum jelly (Vaseline) coated pipe cleaner inserted in to the air way to keep it open. My method, though effective, was time consuming as I had to completely reshape the slot thereafter. However, in this instance, since there was nothing to support or hold the folded index card on the other side, I perforce had to fall back on my time tested method of using a pipe cleaner coated with petroleum jelly (Vaseline). I prepared a slightly thin (just thick enough to form a drop but not runny enough to fall down) mix of CA superglue and food grade activated charcoal and applied it over the broken stem area. I also applied this mix over the intact side lip edge to make it even. To get the flare which was evident on the intact side of the stem, I applied a thick blob of this mix and held it sideways so that the mix forms a droplet. Thereafter I maneuvered the drop to the desired shape till it hardens and harden it does so quite rapidly. Once this layer had cured, I applied another layer of the mix. The trick here is that this type of reconstruction needs to be done in layers to a thickness more than the adjoining stem surface. This, thereafter, can be filed and sanded down to match the stem surface. I did exactly as described above and set the stem aside to cure. The following pictures will give you a general idea of what I have described above. Once the mix had cured hard, I went about shaping these fills to match the overall profile of the stem, with a flat head needle file. I was very careful with my use of the needle file, eyeballing the profile frequently. An hour later and I had achieved a rough match profile to the original stem as it would have been before the break. I even had a rough button profile shaped out in conjunction with the intact button edge. Eager to use my newly acquired slot shaping tool, this was an ideal candidate to use it for the first time. Well, this tool is much more effective than using a tightly folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to shape the slot. I am very happy with the progress being made. From my experience (and I have done many!!) it usually takes a week to reach this stage and here I was on only my third day of working on the stem!!And then a set back! As I was shaping the slot, a chunk of the fill did not feel like staying and just left its place, leaving behind a gaping hole. It is marked in yellow arrow.Such chipping is to be expected and undaunted I again prepared a mix of superglue and activated charcoal, this time more glue and lesser of charcoal. Since I now had both the edges of the slot, I decided to use the folded index card. Once the index card was in place, I applied this mix over the chipped area and set it aside to cure. I also took this opportunity to fill in a few air pockets which were beginning to show as well as increase the button edges on either side.A curing time of nearly 12 hours later, the fill was nicely set and hard enough to start reshaping the slot and the button edge and further fine tune the stem profile and finish. Using a flat head needle file, I file away at the fill and roughly shape the button edge on either side of the stem. I am comfortably placed with the progress being made so far, so to say. As expected, I observed a couple of air pockets and also that one of the lip edge had been filed down more than the other and was dotted with many air pockets. I addressed these issues with a layer of superglue and charcoal powder mix. However, in this mix, the percentage of superglue was higher than the charcoal powder. I set the stem aside to cure. I would have ideally applied black CA glue, but…don’t have it.Moving ahead, I reamed the chamber with size 2 head of the PipNet reamer. Using my smaller sized fabricated knife, I further reamed out the cake from places where the PipNet reamer could not reach. I gently scrapped out the lava overflow from the thin rim top surface and followed it with sanding the chamber walls with a 220 grit sand paper. How I miss my younger daughter, Pavni, who specializes in smoothing the chamber walls and removing every trace of the old cake. Dal, I know you would have loved to have a pipe that your “Bollywood Queen” had worked on, but hope I have come close to her finesse!! Once the cake was taken down to bare briar, the walls of the chamber were found to be smooth and flawless. The draught hole is dead center and at the bottom of the chamber. I am sure that this will be a nice smoker! Removing the overflow of lava from the rim top revealed a thin surface that is peppered with numerous dents and dings. I continued with cleaning of the stummel and worked the mortise using the smaller fabricated knife first to scrap out the dried out gunk, oils and tars left behind by the previous steward. The amount of grime scrapped out is a testimony to the efficacy of this Hygrosystem, I say. A few pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol later, the shank is clean. Now that the chamber and shank internals are clean, I move ahead with the external cleaning of the stummel.I cleaned the externals of the stummel with Murphy’s oil soap and toothbrush. Rinsing under tap water (remember, I am in India and its hot here and even the tap water is equally warm!!) revealed just a few fills in the briar on left back side of the stummel and nearer to the rim top and these have been marked by yellow arrows. To be honest, I feared a rerun of the nightmare that I just went through while restoring Steve’s Alexander Zavvos Hygrosystem pipe! Not the case this time around, Thank God for such mercies!!! The stummel has a number of small dents and dings, which should be addressed when I sand the stummel with a piece of 220 grit sand paper followed by complete micromesh pad polishing cycle. I do not intend to be overly aggressive with the 220 grit sandpaper as I wish to preserve as much of the old patina as I can. Beautiful straight and mixed grains are now clearly visible. This should turn out to be a beautiful looking pipe, I think. I began removing the old fills and preparing the stummel for a fresh fill. Using my dental tools, I progressed to removing the fills. The fill on the left back side of the stummel was large and deep while the two on the rim top were smaller in size but deep.At this point in the restoration, I decided to address the issue of old odors in the chamber and shank by subjecting it to a cotton and alcohol bath. I wrapped some cotton around a folded pipe cleaner, keeping the tip of the pipe cleaner free of wrapped cotton as this would be inserted through the draught hole in to the chamber. This would form the wick for the shank. I tightly packed the chamber with cotton balls and filled it with 99% pure isopropyl alcohol using a syringe and set it aside. By next day, the cotton and alcohol had drawn out the all the old tars and oils from the chamber and max from the shank. I let the stummel fills dry out completely and after all the alcohol had evaporated, proceeded to fill the deep gouges with CA superglue and briar dust using the layering technique where I put down a thin layer of superglue in to the fill and press briar dust in to this fill over the glue. I continue with this till the fill rises above rest of the stummel surface. Once all the gouges were filled up, I set the stummel aside to cure for the next 24 hours.I file the raised mounds of the patched fills with a flat needle file. The only drawback of the layering technique is that a number of air pockets are revealed after the filing. This time was no exception and I refilled the exposed air pockets only with superglue and set it aside to cure.Since there was still time before I hit the bed, I decided to address the stem. I sand the fill with a needle file to a rough match with the surface of the stem. For a better match, I further sand the entire stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. I topped the slot on a piece of 220 grit sand paper to even it out. The repairs looked good at this stage.With the stummel fills nicely cured, it was time again to work on it. Using a flat head needle file, I sanded the fills and followed it by sanding with worn out folded piece of 150 grit sand paper. The fill has blended in quite well. However, I shall strive to further achieve a near perfect blend during further sanding and polishing with micromesh pads.I again worked on the stem, filing with a needle file and followed with sanding with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. With my slot tool, I carved out and shaped the slot. Here, the intact part of the stem gave me an idea of the extent of the spread of the slot from the edge. I achieved the desired shape and size by just visual estimations. I sand the slot end on a piece of 220 grit sand paper. I am happy with the way the stem reconstruction including the buttons and the slot, has shaped up till this point. I rubbed a little Extra Virgin Olive oil in to the stem surface for it to be absorbed and hydrate the vulcanite and set it aside. With the stem repairs well under control and progressing steadily, I turn my attention to the stummel once again. I address the dents and dings with further sanding of the entire stummel and the thin rim top using a worn out piece of folded 150 grit sand paper followed by a 220 grit paper. The dents and dings on the stummel and rim top are addressed to a large extent. What dents and dings remained, I let them be as a part of the history associated with the pipe and its previous owner. While going through with the micromesh polishing cycle, I extend this care to the brass band at the shank end. The now nicely shining brass band adds a touch of class to the pipe and helps in breaking the monotony of the pipe.I rubbed some “Before and After” restoration balm. This product has been developed by Mark Hoover and it helps to enrich and enliven the briar. For me it is an absolute “must have” item in my list of items for pipe restorations. I rub this balm in to the briar and set it aside for some time. I turned my attention back to the stem. I sanded the stem, including the briar insert at the tenon end with a 220 grit paper and progressively moving to 600 and 800 grit sand papers. As expected, a clean and neat looking stem stared back at me. I rubbed a little Extra Virgin Olive oil in to the stem surface to hydrate it and set it aside to be absorbed in to the vulcanite.I was satisfied with the way the stem has now turned out. I finished the stem reconstruction by polishing the stem with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I applied a small quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil to the vulcanite stem and rubbed some “Before and After” restoration balm before setting it aside.I had undertaken restoration of two of the three parts of this pipe, the stem and the stummel, and now turned my attention to the third and last part, the aluminum shank extension. This part was in pristine condition, save for the accumulated oils, tars and gunk which I had already cleaned out from the aluminum tube, the smaller aperture tube and the wide shank extension at the stem end, and yes, I had missed out on taking pictures and documenting this step. I went through sanding the vulcanite band and the briar insert with a folded piece of 220, 400 and 600 grit sand papers in that order. I cleaned the aluminum tube protrusion and the threading with a brass wire brush. I further polished it with a 0000 grade steel wool followed by dry sanding with all the nine pads of micromesh. The aluminum tube is now clean and shining. I finished the cleaning regime of the tube and threads in the shank extension by polishing it with a multipurpose liquid polish.This was followed by micromesh polishing cycle, wet sanding these components of the shank extension, including the brass band, with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I rubbed some “Before and After” restoration balm and set it aside. This part definitely adds some nice class to the overall appearance of the pipe.I cleaned out the wood gasket which makes the fit of the tenon in to the shank extension airtight with cotton buds dipped in alcohol. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil to this gasket, inside and outer surface to hydrate the wood and set it aside to be absorbed by the wood. When I had initially dismantled the pipe, this gasket came out attached to the tenon. However, close observation of the outer surface of the gasket points to the fact that the gasket was stuck inside the shank extension towards the stem end. I did not sand the outer surface to a smooth finish as I wanted to keep the surface rough when I applied superglue and reaffixed it inside the shank extension.Nearing the home run, I decided to stain the stummel and the rim top surface with a dark brown stain in the hope that it would help in a nice blending of the one and only major stummel fill. I heated the stummel surface with my heat gun to open up the pores on the stummel so that the stain is well set while being careful that I do not overheat the fill, a lesson learned while restoring Steve’s Alexander Zavvos pipe. I dipped a folded pipe cleaner in Feibing’s Dark Brown leather dye and liberally applied it over the heated surface, flaming it with the flame of a lighter as I went ahead to different self designated zones of the surface. This helps in the setting of the stain in the grain of the briar.I was not very comfortable in heating the aluminum shank extension and the briar insert on the stem as this could result in warping of the vulcanite band and the briar inserts on the shank extension and stem. I decided to use a dark brown stain pen instead. I applied the dark brown stain over the briar inserts of the shank extension and stem. I set both the stummel and shank extension aside for the stain to dry and get completely absorbed in the surface.The next evening, approximately 18 hours later, as Dal describes, I began to unwrap the stain in the hope to see beautiful grains. I mount a felt cloth buffing wheel on my hand held rotary tool and setting the tool at its slowest speed, again my recent experience while working on Steve’s pipe came in handy and the damage that can be caused due to heating while using the felt buffing wheel still fresh in my memory; I began to peel off the stain from the stummel surface first. The stain was peeled out gradually. This was followed with wiping the stummel with a cotton swab and alcohol to lighten the stain a little as it was too dark for my liking. This also helps in cleaning the surface of all the residual stain and highlighting the grain. Now, the fear that besieged me was the stain running down Dal’s hand as he smoked the pipe and so I set the stain by again heating the stummel surface with the heat gun. Unfortunately in my exuberance, I missed out on taking pictures of this step.

I felt as though the stummel, shank extension and the stem appeared patchy, though when I shared pictures with Abha, my wife, she found them to be nice, smooth and shiny. However, I decided to go with my instinct and dry sanded the entire pipe with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, aluminum tubing and brass bands included. Now I am satisfied by the appearance of the pipe at this stage and ready to move on to the final stage of polishing. Next, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel and setting the speed to ¼ of the full power, I applied a thick coat of carnauba wax over the stummel, aluminum shank extension and the stem. I worked the complete pipe till the time all the wax was absorbed by the briar. The pipe now boasts of a beautiful and lustrous shine. I vigorously rubbed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine and also clean away any residual wax that had been left behind. I am very happy with the way this beauty has turned out.Before re-assembling the pipe, I once again thoroughly cleaned the internals of the shank, aluminum shank extension and the stem airway with pipe cleaners and ear buds dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I also fixed the wooden gasket with superglue in to the stem end of the shank extension. I checked the draw to make sure that the airways in the shank, extension and stem are open. The draw is nice, smooth and open and somewhat similar to the draw experienced on a Peterson’s P-lip stem. I also applied a little Vaseline over the threads of the aluminum shank extension and the wood gasket to protect and keep it soft.To finish, I reassembled the complete pipe and gave it a final buff with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. This dude has come a long way when it started its journey in June 1989 and now 30 years later, it shall soon be traveling all the way to Bulgaria to serve my dear friend and fellow pipe restorer, Dal Stanton while he reminisces about his visit to me, Abha, Mudra and his Bollywood Queen!! I sincerely thank all the readers to have spared their valuable time in going through this write up. P.S. This project has been very close to my heart as this pipe is intended to be with my friend and guide, Dal as a memento of his visit to my family in India, fond memories of which will always stay with me. I hope that whenever he sits down with this pipe, packs it with his favorite tobacco, LANE BCA and fires it up, the first whiff reminds him of us here in India.

Some readers must have observed that the fill still stands out as a sore thumb, but I would like to assure you that it’s the smooth glossy surface of the highly polished superglue that reflects more light than the surrounding and hence is more prominent. To the naked eye, however, it is not so evident. Any inputs and suggestions are always valuable to me and most appreciated as they help me grow and improve.

Lastly, I thank everyone for sharing the joy that I experienced while working on this pipe.





Restoring a Cased Camelia 515 Bent Billiard with Two Stems – Horn and Amber

Blog by Steve Laug

Jeff picked up this clam shell cased pipe from an online auction out of Virginia and I brought it back to Vancouver to work on. It is an interesting pipe that came in a nice case with a pair of stems included. One of the stems is golden amber with some interesting swirls and patterns and the other one is a horn stem. Both stems appear to be in excellent condition with minimal tooth chatter. The bowl itself had a cake and some darkening and lava overflow on the rim top. The finish was in decent condition though there was one medium sized fill on the left side mid bowl. Otherwise it is a nice piece of briar with a mixture of grains around the bowl and shank. The stamping on the pipe reads Camelia on the left side of the shank and 515 on the right side of the shank. The brand is not one that I had heard of before but shape number reminded me of some of the GBD numbers. Regardless who made it, it is hard to pass up older pipes with either horn or amber stems and impossible to pass up one that came with both. Jeff took the following photos of the pipe in its case from closed to opened showing the pipe and stems. Jeff took a photo of the pipe with each of the stems in place in the shank. The top one is a very nice amber stem and the lower one is the pipe with a nice horn stem.He took the pipe and stems out of the case to show the look of the parts of this old timer. The pipe has some good grain on the sides.Jeff took a photo of the rim top to show the condition. The photo shows the tarry buildup on the top and the damage to the inner and outer edge of the rim. You can see the cut like marks on the front of the bowl. The thick cake is also visible on the inside of the bowl. The second and third photo shows the grain around the bowl sides. Even under the grime you can see the interesting grain on the bowl sides. There is also a fill very visible on the left side of the bowl toward the rear top. The next photo is a close up of the fill on the left side. It is a bit shrunken but still and ugly pink putty.Jeff also took photos of the stamping on the pipe. On the left side it was stamped with Camelia in an oval and on the right side it was stamped with the number 515. I assume the number is the shape number for a bent billiard. The third photo shows the stamping on the silver band. It has the letters SLV in a rectangle. Under that are three hallmarks – each one has a letter in in a cartouche. The first letter appears to be a J, the second letter looks like a Y and the third looks like an M. All three letters are in a square shaped cartouche with the corners cut off. Jeff also took photos of the tenon on each of the stems.  Both are bone push tenons rather than the older style threaded bone tenons. The tenon on the amber stem has more of a taper to the end before the nipple. The tenon on the horn stem is more even from the end of the stem to the end of the nipple.Jeff took photos of the two stems together. There seems to be a variation in length between the two stems. The horn stem has more of a bent and makes it appear to be slightly shorter than the amber one. In reality they are the same length. Jeff also took photos of both sides of each stem to show their condition. I searched online using Google. Several of the links I found took me to Smokingpipes.com where they had a Camelia pipe listed in their estate area. They listed the brand in the French Made Pipe section. Here is the link to the billiard that they were selling (it has since sold but the connection is interesting to me here it is https://www.smokingpipes.com/pipes/estate/france/moreinfo.cfm?product_id=307863). I am not sure how they arrived at the brand being French as there are no clues on the pipe itself other than what they identify as a classic French billiard shape.

I also found a link to a blog on rebornpipes that Robert M. Boughton had done on a Camelia pipe that he restored also commenting that it was French made (https://rebornpipes.com/tag/camelia-pipes/). I had forgotten about this blog.  In it Robert pointed the way to the GBD connection for me in this quote: “this lovely example of the elegant Camelia straight smooth bulldog #699, originating in France of excellent lineage, being, according to Pipedia, an obsolete line of pipes once made by GBD.”

I did some digging on the Pipephil website (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-c1.html) and found a listing there that also associated the brand with a French pipe manufacturer. I have included a screen capture from the site on the brand showing the French connection. However I am not able to link the brand to a larger pipe manufacturer in France. This always makes me want to dig a bit deeper so the search continues.I turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/French_Pipe_Brands_%26_Makers_A_-_D) under the Pipe Brands and Makers section and clicked on French Made pipemakers in the A-D section and sure enough I found a note there that read as follows – Obsolete brand by GBD in Paris. With that I clicked on the link and was taken to a page where there was a very brief write up on the brand itself (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Camelia). Here is what it said:

Camelia is thought to be a GBD second, and was one of many brands owned by the Oppenheimer Pipe Group, as evidenced in the following catalog page from a Circa 1950s Oppenheimer Pipes Catalog.

The page makes the GBD connection very clear and says the pipe is LONDON Made. It also states that the pipes would not be released for sale until 1952. I am getting closer to what I am looking for – a post 1954 London Made pipe with a GBD connection.Now that the connection to GBD was established I decided to go back and read the connection between GBD and Oppenheimer. The pipe catalogue page for the 1950s Oppenheimer catalogue was good but I am not clear about the age of the pipe that I have in hand. So I went to the Pipedia section on GBD (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD). I quote in part the section spelling out the details on Marechal and Ruchon’s sale of GBD to Oppenheimer.

There is a very simple explanation for GBD’s program to turn more “British”: GBD became a British company soon after the turn of the century! In 1902 Marechal and Ruchon sold GBD to A. Oppenheimer & Co. in London. Charles Oppenheimer had founded this successful trade business in 1860 as an import-/export house. His brothers David and Adolphe and brother-in-law Louis Adler soon joined him. Adolphe took over when Charles went to Germany as British ambassador. Briar pipes were among the first products traded. The business relation to GBD in Paris began as early as 1870. Being the most important customer in the English speaking world, Oppenheimer & Co. were designated as sole distributor for Great Britain, the USA and Canada in 1897. Especially Adolphe Oppenheimer had a burning interest in the pipe business, and Louis’ son James Adler shared that. He should play the most important role in the amicable merger of GBD. A. Marechal, Ruchon and Cie. in Paris was now Marechal, Ruchon & Co. Ltd. (see Marechal Ruchon & Cie. page) – a British firm with four directors: Adolphe Oppenheimer and James Adler had their seat in the head office in London while Auguste Marechal and Ferdinand Ruchon went on leading the GBD factory in the Rue des Balkan in Paris, which was considerably extended and modernised. Ruchon acted as CEO.

Simultaneously Oppenheimer started to build a pipe factory in London. It was opened in 1903, but the forecasts had been over-optimistic for it’s capacity could not be utilized to the full until World War I. Things changed as the French pipe factories lacked more and more workers who were called to the front. In 1916 the ledgers registered that 18,000 of 27,000 dozens bowls manufactured in Saint-Claude were determined via GBD Paris for GBD London. Wherewith London had become the more important location.

After the war, GBD continued production both in London and in Paris. London GBDs mainly went into the national trade and as well into the British Empire and the USA. Paris on the other hand served the French and the other European markets. The location of the factories influenced the GBD history furthermore in the future although later on the products of both countries occasionally were marketed side to side to match special market requests.

I decided to follow the trail on the Marechal Ruchon and Cie  name and see if I could read a bit more about the sale to Oppenheimer (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Marechal_Ruchon_%26_Cie). I quote  piece of that article to cross reference the information on GBD.

Marechal Ruchon & Cie. was a company owned by Auguste Marechal and Ferdinand Ruchon (“& Cie” is the French equivalent of “& Co”) which owned the GBD brand from the end of the 19th century until 1902 when they sold Marechal, Ruchon & Cie. to Oppenheimer Pipe, which in turn changed the name of the company to Marechal, Ruchon & Co., Ltd.. Upon the creation of Cadogan, however, the brand was no more, remembered only in the name of the GBD Marcee pipes made until just after the Second World War.

Now I knew the connection to Oppenheimer but I still wanted to understand the birth and life of the Camelia Brand. I went back to the Pipedia article on GBD (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD) and read further to see if there was any mention of the Camelia line of pipes. Low and behold there was a reference to the brand just below the 1950s Oppenheimer Catalogue pages and just above the photos of GBD pipes. I quote the pertinent part of the article below and have highlighted the section on the brand.

The claims after the 1st World War demanded further distinctions. First of all was the London Made, which became the Standard London Made, followed by the New Era– in 1931 the top model asking 12½ Shilling. The Pedigree, although sketched around 1926, was not produced until the later 1930s. The New Standard was introduced in order to give the popular Standard of the 20s a higher rank in value. The Prehistoric, a deeply sandblasted black pipe, that still carried the small GBD Xtra stamp, was entirely new and unusual.

The French GBDs more or less followed the same developments, although Xtra and Speciale very longly used there. In the late 1920s a GBD with a metal filter system was introduced under the name Extra Dry. Also from Paris came another important new feature: the introduction of the inserted metal plate with the GBD initials on the stems. That insert added a further “touch of class” to the pipes and in London it was attached immediately.

The solid demand for GBD pipes also encouraged the management to introduce a number of sub brands designed to win new buyers. We can list such sub brands as follows:

  1. The City de Luxe (1921) had an inserted star on the stem as trademark and were marketed in England and in France. These pipes were the bestseller of the 5½ Shilling class in the 1930s in Great Britain.
  2. Reserved for the French market remained the even more favorable GBD brand Marcee, a derivative of Marechal Ruchon & Co. Ltd. that was offered until the 2nd World War and for another one or two years afterwards.
  3. The Camelia – made in London as a 2½ Shilling line – was only around for a few years.
  4. Important to mention is also the Riseagle—completely produced in Paris before the wartime for England’s smokers who wanted “a cheap but dependable British made pipe”… one of the most successful 1 Shilling pipes until 1939! The introduction of the luxury impact on the excise tax for pipes after the war put an end to this cheap brand.

Other brands of this time were marketed with even larger independence. The Dr. Plumb’s had been developed by the Parisian sales manager J.B. Rubinovich in 1925 when GBD France needed “a cheap line of pipes” especially for the Canadian market. In fact, the new brand was nicknamed for Mr. Rubinovich’s secretary Leslie W. Plumb, whose most important business was “to doctor figure” the ledgers. Dr. Plumb’s made their way not only in Canada. – The Peter Piper, as well as the Dr. Plumb’s produced in Saint-Claude, is another great example that stampings like “London made” or “London England” are not always totally trustworthy also on older pipes! Not only today numberless brands are made in Saint Claude and stamped with whatever the buyer wants to be stamped.

Here is a link to the full GBD Oppenheimer catalogue from the 1950’s if you would like to check it out further (https://pipedia.org/images/2/2f/1950s%3FGBDcatalog.pdf).

Now I could honestly say that while many thought this was a French brand it is actually only French by association with GBD in its early days. However, the quote above unequivocally asserts that it is a London Made Pipe that was made as a 2 ½ Shilling Line of pipes for a short time. The catalogue from the 1950s Oppenheimer Group pushes the date to post WWII and potentially the early 1950s (there is a note on the catalogue page saying that the pipe was not available for Home Trade until 1952) for a very short time and then it was gone. The only thing that leaves me with a bit of a question is the twin stems – a horn one and an amber one. Were those made for pipes in the 1950s? 

Last night I took the pipe out of the box of pipes for restoration. I took a photo of the case it was in to show the condition it was in. The leather was in very good shape for a pipe of this age. The outside of the case is stamped in gold PWS in an oval followed by Echt Bruyere & Bernstain. That translates as follows. Echt = Genuine, Bruyere = Briar and Bernstain = Amber. The description fits the pipe that is in the case. It states that the pipe in the case is Genuine Briar and Amber. I am not sure of what the PWS means on the case or how it connects to GBD.On opening the case I was once more stunned by the beauty of the pipe. It really was a beautiful billiard. The only visible flaw was the fill on the left side of the bowl. The fill had shrunken and was rough to touch. You can see it in the photo below. Other than the damage to the rim top it is a stunning pipe. Jeff did his usual thorough cleanup of the pipe and stems. He cleaned the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush. He scrubbed it and rinsed it off with warm water. He scrubbed out the internals with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol.I took photos of the pipe bowl with each of the stems in place. The first set of photos show the bowl with the amber stem. The fill is very visible in the left side of the bowl and the damage to the rim top is also visible in the photos. The second set of photos show the bowl with the horn stem in place. The tenon on the horn stem had some shrinkage, I believe due to age and not being used. It was loose in the shank and would need to be taken care of in the restoration. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the cuts in the rim top on the front outer edge of the bowl. The scratches and cuts were deep. I also took close up photos of the stem surfaces to show their condition.I set the stems aside and turned my attention to the bowl. I used a dental pick to remove the large fill on the left side of the bowl. I cleaned it up with alcohol on a cotton swab to remove the dust and debris from the crevice. I used clear super glue and briar dust to fill in the cleaned out hole in the bowl side and clear super glue to fill in the cuts and nicks on the rim top. When repairs had cured I sanded them with 220 grit sandpaper and polished it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I sanded and resanded until the surface was smooth. I polished it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each pad.Once the surface was smooth I used a cherry stain pen to touch up the repaired areas on the rim top and the left side of the bowl. The colour of the pen was a good match to the rest of the bowl. The repaired areas on the front of the bowl and the repaired fill look very good with the stain coat. To further blend the stain into the rest of the bowl colour I decided to continue experimenting with a new product from Mark Hoover of Before & After Products. This one is a product he labels briar cleaner and it has the capacity of absorbing grime and dirt from the surface of briar. I rubbed the bowl down with some of his Briar Cleaner to see how it would work in this setting. In speaking to Mark he noted that the product is completely safe to use. The main product is even FDA approved edible. I rubbed it onto the bowl and rim top with my finger tips and worked it into the grime and grit on the bowl. I let it sit on the pipe for about 5 minutes before I rubbed it off with a microfibre cloth. I rinsed it under warm running water to remove the residue. I was pleasantly surprised by how clean the surface on the bowl looked when I was finished. I could see remnants of gold leaf in the Camelia logo as well in the catalogue illustration above. I used some Antique Gold Rub’n Buff to give the stamping a new coat of gold leaf. The finished bowl looked really good at this point in the process.I touched up the repaired fill on the left side of the bowl with a black Sharpie Pen to assure that it blended into the finish. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. Mark Hoover’s Balm is a product that I have come to appreciate and one I use on every pipe I have been working on. I hand buffed the bowl with a microfiber cloth to raise a shine in the briar and the silver. I took photos to show what the pipe looked like at this point in the restoration process. I really like the look of the bowl and after this I set it aside to work on the pair of stems. The bowl had the lion’s share of the restoration work needed on this pipe. So with that virtually completed other than the final polishing I set it aside and turned my attention to the stems. I painted the bone push tenon with clear fingernail polish to build it up and tighten the fit in the shank.I polished the horn stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down with some Obsidian Oil after each pad. I repeated that with the amber stem as well. I polished it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Polish – Fine and Extra Fine and rubbing it down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth. With the parts finished it was time to polish up this interesting piece of GBD post WWII pipe history. It is a great clam shell cased pipe with both a beautiful striated horn stem and a swirled genuine amber stem. It was time to finish this pipe. I put the horn stem and bowl back together first and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I polished the briar and the minute scratches still in the horn stem until there was a rich shine. The horn stem looks really good with the rich red/browns of the bowl. The Gold Leaf in the logo stamp goes well with the older look of the horn stemmed pipe. The finish really highlights some amazing grain and hides the fill on a proportionally well carved pipe. Once I buffed the pipe the briar came alive and the mixture of grain popped with polishing. The horn stem had a rich glow. The finished pipe is a beautiful grained Bent Billiard. It fits well in the hand and sits right in the mouth. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe with the horn stem are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The dimensions of the same pipe with the amber stem are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This is an interesting piece of GBD history having been made only for a short time from 1952 onward. It is mentioned in the Oppenheimer 1950 Catalogue and it clearly states that it did not come out for sale until 1952. The horn and amber stems could well be a re-introduction of older stem materials when vulcanite was scarce in post war Europe. The push style bone tenon rather than a threaded older style bone tenon also makes this very feasible. However you view it I have to say that is a beautiful pipe with options for each smoke that will give a very unique experience each in their own right. Thanks for taking time to work through the whole blog. It was a  pleasure to work on. Sorry for the length!

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.

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. IMG_1800 IMG_1801 IMG_1803 IMG_1804

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.




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.

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.




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.





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.



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.




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.



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.




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.




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.




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.



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.



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.


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.





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.