Tag Archives: restaining a bowl and rim

A Tiny 2 Star BBB 8881 Apple/Globe Provided An Interesting Challenge

Blog by Steve Laug

When I spoke with a fellow here in Vancouver who had a pipe that he wanted me to fix it sounded like a simple repair. He said that it had a very loosely fitting stem. He asked if he could drop by to show it to me and see if I could fix it. From past experience I have learned to never jump to conclusions about what sounded like an easy repair. When he arrived he showed me his GBD Faux Spigot. It turned out to need far more work than just tightening a loose stem. I wrote about that restoration in a previous blog (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/11/03/redoing-a-poorly-restored-ebay-gbd-super-q-9436/). We talked about his GBD for a bit and he made the decision to have me do a restoration on it. Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small plastic bag with a little BBB 2 Star apple of globe shaped pipe. It was stamped BBB in a diamond on the left side of the shank with two ** – one on either side of the diamond. ON the right side it was stamped Made in England over the shape number 8881. He said that he had found it at his parents’ house and really no one there knew where it came from.

Here is what I saw. Starting with externals. The pipe was small – kind of a pocket pipe. The grain on the bowl was quite stunning – a mix of flame and birdseye all around the bowl and shank. The rim top was coated with a thick lava coat and it went into the bowl. The inner edge of the bowl was in rough shape having been hacked clean with a knife. There was a crack on the right side of the shank curving to the underside. It looked to me it was made by the poorly made stem being shoved into the shank. The stem was larger in diameter than the shank and had been rounded over with a file. There were deep bite marks on the surface ahead of the button on both sides. Moving to the internals. The end of the tenon was carved with a knife to make it fit the mortise in the small shank. The inside of the shank was dirty but less so than I expected. The inside of the bowl had a light cake but most of that was gone from the knife job that had left a wounded inner edge on the rim. Looking at the pipe I explained what I would have to do to bring it back to life and restore it to use. It would need, cleaning, reshaping on the rim, a band on the cracked shank that would leave the stamping readable, and a reworking of the stem to make it a fitting addition to the lovely briar of the bowl. The pipe was going to be a fun challenge. I took these photos to give you an idea of what I saw. The previous pipeman who had fit a new stem to an old favourite pipe had done a functional job but it looked rough. It was pretty clean on the inside so it was cared for. It must have been a great smoking pipe for him to fit a new stem and not give up on it when the previous one broke or was lost. It was smokable. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the condition. It is hard to see but the rim top was not smooth. The lava build up was pretty thick and there were some deep nicks and chips in the flat top. The close up photos of the stem reveal the scratches in the vulcanite, the tooth marks and the worn and ill-defined button.  The oversized diameter – prettified to look nice is clear in the photos. I took photos from the side of the pipe to show the stamping on the shank and the prettified stem. In the second photo you can see the crack in the shank curving downward to the underside.I decided to address the cracked shank first. With the crack as large as it was and movable I did not want to further damage it when I worked on the stem and fit of the tenon. I knew that it needed to be banded but that would cover the stamping on the shank so adjustments would have to be made. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to reduce the size of the shank to fit the band I had chosen. I did not take of too much briar and I only damaged the M in Made In England as part of it would end up being covered by the band.I repaired the crack in the shank with super glue and pressure fit the band onto the shank to the point of the end of the sanded portion. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to cut back the band to the width that I wanted. Compare the photos above with the one below to see how much I took off of the band. I topped the band on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper and smooth out the sharp edge with 1500 grit micromesh. I decided that since I was already working with the Dremel and sanding drum that I would take down the excess diameter on the stem as well. I reduced it to sit snugly against the band giving the pipe a classy look.I cleaned up around the inside edge of the band and edge on the shank with a folded piece of 2220 grit sandpaper to smooth things out and make the fit and transition smooth. I lightly sanded the blade portion of the stem and the area of the tooth marks next to the button with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and clean it up. I fit the stem in the shank and took a photo of the pipe at this point in the process. It was beginning to look like a classic BBB to my eye. With the stem roughly fit to the shank it was time to address the bowl top. I topped it on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. At that point I called it a night. I had to catch a train down to the southern part of Washington from Vancouver in the morning so I thought I would bag up a couple of pipes I was working on and take them with me.I caught the train south from Vancouver, BC at 6:30am. Once we had our seats we were in for an 8 hour train ride. I figure it would be a good opportunity to work on these two pipes. You can see my work table in the photo below. I used the fold down table. It had a lip around it so I spread out a couple of napkins for the dust and went to work on the pipes.I started working on the BBB by addressing the damage to the inner edge of the rim. It was significant with cuts and burns. My topping worked had helped with the top damage and smoothed that out but I need to work on the rim edge. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the sharp edges and bring the bowl back to round. Once I had the rim as round as I could get it and smoothed out the damaged edge I polished it with micromesh sanding pads. I polished the bowl and the rim at the same time. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp napkin after each pad. I touched up the stain around the front of the band and stained the rim top and inner edge with Maple and Cherry stain pens. Together the two stains matched the rest of the bowl.I rubbed down the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it 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 rim matches well but still needs to be polished and buffed to raise a shine on it. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to reshape the button and also to smooth out the marks left by the Dremel when reducing the diameter of the stem. I sanded the tooth marks near the button on each side of the stem to smooth them out.I polished the stem, tenon and metal work with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I was able to remove the damage on the tenon and polish out the dripping varnish on the metal adornment. The stem looked much better at this point in the process. I the polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches and raise the shine. I gave the bowl and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. This turned out to be a beautiful little pocket pipe in terms of shape and finish. The new nickel band adds a touch of class in my opinion and gives the pipe a new elegance. I look forward to hearing what the fellow who dropped it off for repair thinks of it once he has it in hand and is smoking it. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 4 inches, Height: 1 3/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 inch, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.


Salvaging a ‘Really’ Poor Richard’s of Italy Giant Billiard

Blog by Dal Stanton

Let’s be honest. When I saw this Poor Richard’s on the eBay auction block I thought the name was a joke by the seller.  He WAS huge (L: 6 3/4”, H: 2 1/8”, Rim W: 1 1/2″, Chamber W: 7/8”, Chamber D: 1 7/8”, Weight: 74gr), no doubt, but his condition could qualify him for the title: King of the Basket Pipe Realm.  His condition was indeed poor and adding to the ‘joke’ was that he was displayed on satiny royal purple material.  But the clincher was coming. Adding insult to injury, the seller’s byline description under Poor Richard’s picture was: Poor Richard’s Classic Bulldog Large Estate Pipe Beautiful !!!  Nice  !!!  Bulldog?  I felt sorry for him.  I placed a bid and when the auction ended, it was no surprise that mine was the only bid seeking a new life for Poor Richard’s.  My wife’s response when she first saw Poor Richard’s was that Poor Richard’s dog got a hold of him!  Here are the pictures I saw. After bringing Poor Richard’s back to Bulgaria, I put him on my website in the For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only! section where my friend and fellow Pipe Dreamer from India, Paresh, saw him.  Poor Richard’s became the fourth pipe Paresh commissioned – all of them on the larger side and each one of them advancing our work here in Bulgaria benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria, helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.

Taking more pictures on my worktable on the 10th floor of a formerly Communist ‘Block’ apartment building, the nomenclature on the left shank is ‘PoorRichard’s’ in what I call an ‘Old World’ script.  There are no other markings on the shank.  The stem is stamped with an interlocking ‘PR’.  The bottom of the stem is stamped with the COM, Italy.When I began doing the research on this Poor Richard’s, I recalled that rebornpipes’ contributor, Al Jones (aka: Upshallfan), had recently posted a restoration of a Poor Richards 9438 Cordovan Rhodesian shape.  Reading Al’s write-up was helpful because it clued me into the ‘mystery’ surrounding the origins of the Poor Richard’s name.  I noticed that our pipes shared the ‘Old World’ script nomenclature as well as the interlocking ‘PR’ stem stamp.  The obvious difference was the COMs – his, London, England and mine, Italy and his included a shape number, and mine, without.As I’ve done in the past with much benefit, I wrote to Al asking about the differences between our Poor Richard’s and what to make of the differing COMs?  His response was helpful:


Unfortunately, there is nothing but speculation about these Poor Richard pipes.  The one shop here, with that name, can’t even conclusively determine if they had shop pipes.

I suspect it was a shop pipe, made by various makers for this shop.  But a shop in Montana having shop pipes doesn’t exactly make sense either.  Usually shops with their own pipes were larger, and in metro areas, not out in the wilderness of Montana.

Poor Richard pipes are not listed in “Who Made That PIpe”, so my guess is still a shop pipe.  Perhaps that Montana shop was bigger than I presumed. 

I suspect Italian companies, like GBD made shop pipes as well.  Perhaps that one was made by Savinelli or other?  Without a shape number, it’s impossible to determine.

Have fun restoring it!


Al referenced the pipe shop in Montana that in a subsequent email he referenced that Steve had also worked on a Poor Richard’s attributed to the ‘Poor Richard’s’ pipe and tobacco shop in Bozeman, Montana. However, Al said that Steve’s Poor Richard’s pipe had a totally different nomenclature with Montana stamped on the pipe.  I found this write up on Rebornpipes and what a write up!  It was one of Steve’s and Charles Lemon’s classic collaborations including a pinning tutorial.  When these two masters get together, its fun to see the wonders happen!  (See this post which is worth the read:  A Humpty Dumpty Cross Canada Project – Could this Poor Richards Select Square Shank Billiard 9489 ever be whole again?)  Steve’s research on the Montana shop is good and saved me time and steps.  Since Steve’s write up in 2016, the website had changed and a description of Poor Richard’s history beginning in 1962 can be found here: History.  The following pictures show the shop early on and what it is today.Even with the mystery and the discrepancies with the nomenclatures, in researching different pipe shop pipes in the past (L. J. Peretti, Pipe Pub), I found that it’s common to have pipes manufactured in various places.  Another indicator that the Poor Richard’s nomenclature refers to a shop is simply because it is possessive – Richard’s, pointing to something else.  Whether there’s another Poor Richard’s shop other than the one in Bozeman, I don’t know.  This question has been lost to history.

The condition of the giant Poor Richard’s before me now is poor. I take more pictures to take a closer look. The chamber has moderate cake build up that needs to be removed to inspect the condition of the chamber.  The lava flow on the rim is thick.  The stummel surface reminds one of a moonscape with all the craters in need of attention!  Along with the pits and holes there are dents and scrapes.  The oxidation on the stem is joined by bites and compressions on the lower and upper bit.  With a better understanding of the Poor Richard’s name, I begin the salvage of the giant Billiard by running pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% through the stem and then adding it to a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer along with several other commissioned pipes in the queue.  The Poor Richard’s stummel and stem are first on the left.  After letting it soak overnight, I fish out the Poor Richard’s stem and let the fluid drain off.  I then push a pipe cleaner through it to help remove the Deoxidizer.  I then wipe the stem with cotton pads wetted with isopropyl 95% to remove the raised oxidation from the vulcanite stem.  After wiping off with the alcohol, I then wipe again using a cotton pad and light paraffin oil (mineral oil) to clean and condition the stem further.  Finally, I run another pipe cleaner through the stem dipped in isopropyl 95%.  The pictures show the process. Taking the stummel, I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit to clean the chamber.  After putting paper towel down on the table for easier clean up, I start reaming using the third largest blade head since the chamber is so large.  I also use the fourth and largest blade to ream.  Following the reaming, I use the Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Tool to scrape the chamber walls removing additional carbon cake – especially down in the floor of the chamber with the difficult angles.  Then, after wrapping 240 grit paper around a Sharpie Pen, I sand the chamber walls removing additional carbon and smoothing the chamber surface.  I clean the chamber next using a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  While inspecting the chamber, I do see some hairline heat cracks that are very small, but not serious enough to warrant repair.  Next, using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap I work on the external briar surface using a cotton pad.  I also use a brass wire brush on the rim to remove the lava and follow by carefully scraping the rim surface with a flat knife edge.  After scrubbing, I rinse the stummel in the sink with cool tap water.Turning to the internals, I use pipe cleaners and cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 95% to clean the mortise and airway. I also use a small dental spatula tool to scrape tars and oils off the mortise walls.  The cleaning wasn’t too bad. Later, I’ll continue cleaning the internals with a kosher salt and alcohol soak.With the internals cleaned, I now look at the stummel surface.  I have several fills to dig out and to fill.  My main tool in doing this is a sharp dental probe.  The goal is to only have a solid base in the holes – either old filler material or briar.  It takes quite a bit of time, but I move from fill to fill doing the needed excavation work. With the holes excavated, I prepare a batch of briar dust and CA glue patch to apply to the problem areas.  I scoop briar dust in a small mound on an index card and put a glob of thick CA glue next to the briar dust.  Using a dental spatula, I mix briar dust into the CA glue until I reach a thicker consistency, like molasses.  I then trowel the patch mixture into each of the holes leaving excess to be sanded down after cured.  The pictures show the process. With the Briar Dust patches curing, I turn to the stem.  After the soak in the Before & After Deoxidizer, much of the oxidation was removed.  But looking more closely, there remains oxidation but it’s much subdued. I decide to place the stem in another soak – this time with OxiClean.  I put a pipe cleaner through the stem and put it in the OxiClean to let it soak overnight.With the day ending, I continue the cleaning and refreshing of the stummel internals.  To do this I employ a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  First, I form a wick by stretching and twisting a cotton ball and with a stiff piece of wire, I stuff it down the mortise and airway.  It will serve to draw out tars and oils.  Then I fill the bowl with kosher salt and place the stummel in an egg crate to keep it stable.  With a large eyedropper, I fill the bowl with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes, I top off the alcohol as it is absorbed and turn out the lights.The next morning, there isn’t too much discoloration of the salt which means I didn’t put in enough alcohol or that the internals are clean.  The wick is darker.  I toss the expended salt into the waste, wipe the bowl with paper towel and blow through the mortise to remove remaining salt crystal.  I then use a shank brush on both the bowl and the mortise – blowing again.  Finally, to make sure all is clean and ready to go, I wet a cotton bud and pipe cleaner with isopropyl 95% and run them through the mortise and airway.  They come out clean and it’s time to move on. I put the stem in an OxiClean soak through the night and it’s time to fish it out.  I take a picture of the additional oxidation that has been raised and I take the stem to the sink and wet sand the stem with 600 grade paper to remove the oxidation.  It looks cleaner now after sanding.Looking more closely now at the bit area, there are good sized compressions.  The button also has some bite marks.  The first step is to use the heating method to see if it will expand the vulcanite reducing the severity of the compressions.  I use a Bic lighter and paint the upper- and lower-bit areas. The areas were lessoned, but not erased by heating the vulcanite. I then use 240 grade paper and sand the upper- and lower-bit areas as well as redefine the button with a flat needle file.  I take pictures of each step. First, the upper bit progress:After heating:After 240 sanding and filing:Progression of the lower bit area:After heating:After 240 sanding and filing: I’ve sanded out as much as will sand and now I will patch the areas that did not sand out.  I first wipe the stem with alcohol to clean the area.  I then apply black CA glue to the areas.  And I wait, and wait, and wait….  Well, I just discovered that Black CA glue can go flat and lose its ability to bond.  Reading the directions, is says to refrigerate to prolong shelf life.  Well, the shelf life must have been reached.  I wipe the old CA glue off and thankfully, I had purchased another bottle of Hyper Bond Black Rubber Reinforced CA glue.  I discover that the bottle mouth is larger than the squirt spouts that I have so I end up troweling a small bit of the glue on the end of a pointed dental spatula and apply it to the spot.  It works!  To advance the curing time I spray the upper and lower patches with an accelerator which does the trick.  The first picture, upper that didn’t cure and the new glue on the lower.  New bottle of glue is heading for the fridge! Next, taking a flat needle file I start filing the black CA patches staying on top of the glue mounds.  I then follow by using 240 grade sanding paper to bring the excess CA glue to flush with the vulcanite surface.  First, pictures showing the upper bit: The next step with the stem is to wet sand it with 600 grade paper then I follow by buffing the stem with 0000 steel wool to prepare the vulcanite surface for the micromesh pad phase of sanding.  The patches on the bit blended very nicely.I put the stem aside because I’m anxious to get started on the Poor Richard’s stummel.  I decide to start from the top and work down.  I will establish fresh lines for the rim and remove the surface scratches by topping the stummel.  I first use 240 grade paper on the chopping board and invert the stummel and rotate the stummel over the paper. After the 240 paper, I use 600 grade paper for another few rotations.  It looks good. To dress this Poor Richard’s up a bit, I create an internal bevel.  To me, an internal bevel softens the rim lines and is a classy touch.  I cut the bevel initially using a rolled piece of coarse 120 grade paper then follow with 240 and 600.  I simply pinch the rolls of sand paper under my thumb and rotate around the internal circumference of the rim.  I like it. Now, time to work on filing and sanding all the briar dust putty patches all over the stummel surface.  I use the flat needle file to work the mounds down to near the briar surface then I finish off with 240 grit paper, bringing the patch flush with the surface.  The pictures show the process.  Lots of filing and sanding! With the patches all repaired, I use sanding sponges to sand the entire stummel to remove additional nicks and scratches and to blend the patch areas.  I start with a coarse sponge, follow with a medium then light sponges. I like the way sponge sanding cleans up a rough bowl.Moving on to the micromesh stage, I wet sand the stummel with pads 1500 to 2400 then dry sand with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  I love the way the micromesh process teases out the briar grain. This Poor Richard’s is looking good! To mask the plethora of fills scattered on this Italian Poor Richard’s stummel, I will give him a dark stain.  I use Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye to do the job.  With it being an aniline based dye, later I can wipe the bowl with alcohol to blend and lighten as I choose.  I assemble the components used in applying dye on my worktable.  I mount a cork in the mortise to act as a handle and I pour the dye into a shot glass.  I use a folded pipe cleaner to apply the dye and a lit candle to flame the aniline dye.  I begin by wiping the stummel with alcohol to clean the surface.  I then warm the stummel using a hot air grain. This expands the briar grain aiding in it being more receptive to the dye.  Using the pipe cleaner, I then apply dye liberally to the entire stummel making sure to cover the rim well.  I then ‘flame’ the stummel with the lit candle and the alcohol immediately combusts leaving the pigment sealed in the grain.  After letting the stummel ‘rest’ a few minutes, I repeat the process of applying dye and flaming.  I then put the stummel aside to rest for several hours helping to assure that the dye is set and will not rub off later on hands when the pipe is put back into service.  The pictures show the process. With the flamed stummel resting, I turn again to the stem.  Using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand the stummel.  Following this, I dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 1200.  After each set of three micromesh pads, I apply a coat of Obsidian Oil to the stem to revitalize the vulcanite.  The stem is looking good. The stained stummel has rested for about 24 hours and it’s time to unwrap the flame crust. After mounting a 1 inch felt buffing wheel on the Dremel, I set the speed to the lowest RPM and apply the more abrasive compound, Tripoli, to remove the crust revealing the newly stained briar surface.  As I have refined my technique using the Dremel during the compound phases, I’ve learned that using a felt buffing wheel and Tripoli allows me to have more control over the degree of opaqueness allowed through the stain, especially when using darker stains like with this Poor Richard’s.  When I begin removing the crust with the felt wheel and the coarser Tripoli compound, the initial pass of the buffing process removes the top crusty layer, but thick, ‘blotched’ stain remains.  These blotches, or darker patches of stain hide the grain underneath.  After this first pass, my practice is to purge the wheel quickly on the side of the chopping board that is on my lap, providing the work platform for all the buffing.  After I purge the wheel of the thick stain residue from the flaming, I load more Tripoli to the felt wheel and then begin additional passes over the same area – frequently purging and reloading the felt wheel with Tripoli.  Through this process I can determine how the grain is presented.  More Tripoli buffing, the lighter hues are raised in the grain, giving more definition.  When I’m working an area where a patch is located, I tend to allow it to remain darker to enhance the masking.  After staining, I would say that this phase applying the Tripoli is the most critical for the finished look of the grain.  Why?  The coarse Tripoli combined with the coarser felt wheel does the heavy lifting by increasing the opaqueness of the stain when desired which sets the stage for the finished look.  The following less coarse compounds, such as Blue Diamond, and using the cotton wheel, provides more buffing of what is there rather than remove it.  The pictures below give a hint of what I’m describing.  For those who use a Dremel, I hope this is helpful. To blend the stained finish, I lightly wipe the stummel with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  I don’t need to lighten the stummel, only blend.After wiping down the stummel with the cotton pad, the Tripoli with felt wheel had lightened more than I wanted in order to provide a darker shading to blend and to mask the fills.  I decide to stain the stummel again, but the second time around, I use a cotton cloth buffing wheel and Tripoli instead of the more aggressive felt wheel.  Saving on pictures repeating the same process, here is the stummel after the second staining and flaming.  Again, I wait several hours allowing the stain to rest.Following the Tripoli compound, I mount another cotton cloth buffing wheel in the Dremel, increase the speed to about 40% full power, and apply Blue Diamond compound to both the stem and stummel which I reunite.  After completing the application of Blue Diamond, I wipe/buff the pipe with a felt cloth to remove the residual compound dust in preparation for the wax application.Before applying wax, I refresh the Poor Richard’s stem stamping, the interlocking ‘PR’ and the country of manufacturing stamp, ‘Italy’.  Using white acrylic paint, I use a pointed cotton tip to apply paint to the stamps.  While still wet I lightly wipe the excess paint off leaving the stamps filled.  It works well, and the Poor Richard’s is shaping up well! To finish the buffing stage, I mount another cotton cloth wheel to the Dremel, leaving the speed at 40%, and I apply carnauba wax to stem and stummel.  I follow by giving the pipe a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth.

I’m pleased with the transformation of the Poor Richard’s.  The dark brown dye helped to mask the repairs done to the stummel and it looks great.  This straight Billiard is a classic shape and as large as this Poor Richard’s is, I believe it will serve its new steward well.  Paresh commissioned him from the For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only! section on The Pipe Steward site.  He will have first opportunity to acquire the Poor Richard’s from the The Pipe Steward Store which benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

Resurrecting a Tired and Worn 1937 Dr. Grabow Special 4914 Apple

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on my restoration table is an interesting older pipe that appears to be made out of walnut or some other hard wood. It was tired and worn looking with the remnants of what appeared to be an oxblood stain in the wood. The stamping was dirty and worn but readable nonetheless. On the left side the pipe is stamped Dr. Grabow over Special and on the right side it is stamped with the shape number 4914 near the shank stem junction. That is followed by Pre-Smoked over Reg. US Pat. Off. The rim top was dirty and had some tar ground into it. The bowl had a light cake in it and there was a small nick on the inner right edge of the bowl. It had a hard rubber vulcanite stem with the white Linkman style propeller inset on the top of the stem. The rubber was quite hard and did not show signs of oxidation. There were tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem at the button. I took some photos of the pipe before I started my cleanup. I took some close up photos of the rim top and bowl to show its condition. The tar spots are on the surface. The nick is visible on the right side of the bowl. I also took photos of the stem to show the bite marks and wear on the stem.I took a photo of the stamping on both sides of the shank to show the condition. Interestingly once I cleaned the shank up and removed the stain the stamping was very readable.I looked up information on the Dr. Grabow Special 4914 pipe on Pipedia to see if I could identify the time period that the pipe came from. I had a hunch that it came out during the war years due to the alternative wood that had been used in its manufacture in place of the normal briar (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Grabow_Models_(Series,Line)_Names_Through_the_Years). Here is what I found out:

SPECIAL (or Special Italian Briar) post-1937, begins with 43, 49, maybe no number at all; DOLLAR DR. GRABOW 1937 or previous, may not be marked as such, begins with 43, 44, 49 Series 43 = Natural Finish (DG), c1937. Series 44 = Dark Finish (DG), c1937. Series 49 = Walnut Finish (DG), c1937.

Thus I knew that the pipe came out post 1937. I still had not confirmed the date of the pipe other than knowing that it was made after 1937. I did some more digging on Pipedia and found the following information that also helped pin down the date (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Grabow).

The production of the pipes started in 1930/31. In 1937 Linkman began calling his pipes “Pre-Smoked”. An ad dating from 1946 celebrates it as “America’s Most Wanted Pipes” and the text announced that each Dr. Grabow was broken in on the Linkman’s Automatic Smoking Machine with fine Edgeworth tobacco, reducing the need for the new owner to spend time breaking in his pipe. In 1949 the official name read Dr. Grabow Pipe Company Inc. with seat at W. Fullerton Avenue 1150, Chicago 14, Illinois. (Thus the Linkman factory.) Series: Special, De Luxe, Supreme, Tru’ Grain, Select Grain.

That helped to pin down when the first Pre-Smoked Pipes came out on the market. I have included a couple of advertisements from the 1940s on the Pre-Smoked pipes. The advertisements were on Pipedia courtesy of Doug Valitchka. I found a similar pipe for sale on eBay (https://picclick.co.uk/Lovely-Vintage-Dr-Grabow-Special-4914-Smokers-Pipe-372388011756.html). It could very well be a twin of the pipe that I am working on. It is also made from an alternative wood, rather than briar.

I started my restoration on the pipe by wiping down the bowl with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the remnants of the oxblood finish. I took photos of the bowl after the cleanup. I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the remaining stain. I sanded the rim top to remove the stain and tars there. I worked over the inner edge of the rim with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damaged area on the right side. It did not take too much work to remove it. I polished the rim and bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1200-2400 grit pads. The bowl began to have a rich shine.When I sanded the bowl a small red putty fill showed up on the back right side of the bowl. It was slightly pitted. I filled in the pits with clear super glue to remove the damage. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper and then with a 1200 grit micromesh pad.I polished the bowl with red Tripoli on the buffing wheel to smooth out the wood. I heated it and stained it with the “red” tan aniline stain. I flamed it with a lighter and repeated the process until the finish had good coverage. I also gave the bowl a coat of Danish Oil with Cherry stain to highlight the grain. I cleaned out the internals in the stem and the bowl with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. The shank was dirty and the debris and grime that came out made fit of the stem in the shank much tighter.I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I sanded the surface of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter and the lighter tooth marks. I cleaned it up a soft cotton pad to remove the debris. I filled in the deeper tooth marks with clear super glue to repair them. I set the stem aside to let the repairs cure. I sanded the hardened repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the vulcanite.I polished 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 with Obsidian Oil after each pad. When I had finished polishing with the last pad, I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. This small war era Dr. Grabow Pre-smoked apple is a unique alternative wood pipe. It has interesting swirled grain around the bowl and cross grain across the shank. The grain really is interesting. The rim top looks much better. The vulcanite stem is high quality and shined up well. I buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond polish to raise the shine on the briar and the vulcanite. I was careful to not buff the stamping and damage it. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The rich oxblood stain allows the grain to really stand out while hiding the fill in the bowl side of this little pipe and it works well with the rich black of the vulcanite stem. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 5 1/4 inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Outside Diameter: 1 inch, Diameter of the chamber: ¾ of an inch. This little Linkman’s Grabow apple fits nicely in the hand and makes a great pocket pipe. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

A Hardcastle Bulldog Run Roughshod over: The Original Restoration

Blog by Robert M. Boughton

Copyright © Reborn Pipes and the Author except as cited

Grace is neither gentleness nor fragility.  Grace is treating yourself, others and even inanimate objects with respect.
— Kamand Kojouri, Iranian-born novelist and poet

A former roommate, one of Stephen King’s Constant Readers, once remarked with ridicule-tainted respect that I have always been attracted to needful things.  He was speaking of someone I met not long before then whose tragic life had left him wounded to the core, one of the results being his over-demanding, often verbally corrosive and manipulative treatment of me.  The roommate, who like almost everyone had plenty of his own flaws if less obvious and abusive, said my other acquaintance was no friend of mine.

“That may be true,” I replied, “but I’m his friend and the only one he seems to have, and I just can’t give up on him because that’s not what friends do.”

The physically and emotionally damaged person I undertook to help ended up becoming and remaining my genuine though stormy friend until he died at home 14 years later from an unusual and excruciating autoimmune disorder for which there is no cure.  He was 46.

My affinity for care-challenged pipes, therefore, should come as no surprise.  I try to avoid those with fatal flaws such as bad cracks or burnouts and for the most part reject any with serious holes in the stem, but as a restorer I prefer estate pipes that need some real attention to rehabilitate as opposed to the few I find ready to sell or to keep in my collection with minimal effort on my part.

I don’t even remember how the Hardcastle Special Selection #7 smooth bulldog came into my custody or why I chose to ignore the obvious void of vulcanite below the lip on the underside of the stem.  Other than that handicap, the pipe was nowhere near as mistreated as I’ve seen but was plagued enough by dings, scratches and other problems to keep me happy.

One final initial note: I repaired this bulldog to almost like-new condition more than a year ago but failed to blog it because of personal distractions that have left me with a large backlog.  I sold it for next to nothing to one of my present housemates who decided he wanted me to refinish it as a black dress pipe.  The same pipe is the subject of Part 2 of my series on that subject, and so I was going to include this original restoration in that blog.  But anyone who reads my harrowing account of the experience that could be called too much of a bad thing will understand why I broke the overall work into two blogs.

Intrigued by the atypical presence of a stinger in the Hardcastle, and an unusual one at that, I searched online for such phenomena with a faint hope of dating the bulldog.  Of course, at the top of the list was one of Steve’s blogs from 2014.  No other road I found led anywhere close to Rome, as it were.  Steve’s pipe is a Dental Briar brandy, bearing the Registered Design Number 857327, with a unique – or bizarre – dental stem, a system-type metal rod in the shank extending to the mortise hole, and a different short stubby little stinger of its own.  Here is the Dental Briar stinger before Steve’s restoration and the pipe after his usual fantastic work.Steve narrowed the date of manufacture to the Family Era and concluded his pipe was created from 1949-1967 using the National Registry link below.  However, looking at the same link, I see in Table 6.5 that designs numbered 548920-861679 were registered between 1909 and 1950 and suspect the 857327 might have been pre-1949 – no disrespect intended to the master!  Besides, he’s right to note that his Dental Briar could have been made at any time between its registration and 1967 when the family lost all control of the brand.  His pipe is also stamped MADE IN LONDON ENGLAND on the right shank.

I am not so fortunate.  The bulldog has no Registered Design Number or even the usual right shank nomenclature (London Made, British Made, Made in London England, Made in England).  This nomenclature is not faded, it’s just not there.  Only the left shank identifies it as a HARDCASTLE/SPECIAL SELECTION/7.  All I know for sure is that I tried it out after a basic sanitization, and it was quite good.

For a great synopsis of Hardcastle’s history, see Steve’s blog below.  Details are in the Pipedia link.

RESTORATION I would have removed the stinger anyway as useless, but it was also bent and more fragile than usual, and so I experienced even less than usual emotional distress heating the pointless thing with a Bic and twisting it out.Considering the appreciable grime, I started by swabbing the stummel first with purified water and then alcohol.  In hindsight, I should have skipped the water method that had little effect.  The blemishes stand out even more after the cleansing with alcohol.  The one shot below showing the minor rim damage, an unevenness being the only bad part, and decent chamber condition was taken with a flash and therefore looks pre-water and -alcohol cleaning.  I’m still having to do the best I can with a cell phone cam.  I used 150-, 220-, 320- and 400-grit papers to start shaping up those areas.After that I re-addressed the chamber and unevenness of the rim with a Senior Reamer and the blade from my Peterson’s Pipe Tool and made them a little better with 150-400-grit paper.I gave the shank a preliminary alcohol cleaning and retorted the pipe with a meerschaum stem that wasn’t crippled by a hole but somehow forgot to snap a pic of the latter.With 220- and 320-grit papers I was able to remove the dings and scratches as well as giving the chamber a semi-final what-fer.For some reason, the band popped off, and I still wasn’t happy with the color.  I decided to go at it once more with the 220.A full micro mesh buff made the old pipe begin to shine as it should.By now I should be somewhat known for fancying two-tones with bulldogs and Rhodesians where the top of the bowl above the two lines curves upward to the rim.  For the most part, at least, I’ve left this area lighter than the rest of the stummel, although on occasion I’ve dabbled in darkening it with, say, maroon stain.  This one screamed at me to lighten the top of the bowl as usual under these circumstances.  And so I stained the stummel below the lines with Lincoln brown leather dye, flamed it and after letting it cool took off the char and a little of the darker color with 8000 and 12000 micro mesh pads.  By the way, I was alarmed when I got a look at the first pic below and noticed what to every appearance seems to be a wicked and poorly repaired crack in the shank.  I assure everyone it’s a trick of the light or whatever, as the other pics prove. Gluing the band on again was a formality after buffing it on the electric wheel.Okeydokey, then.  There could be no more avoiding the chomped and degraded stem with its hole on the underside and other shortcomings. I had already given it an OxiClean soak, and it wanted repair.  Just to get an idea of what the stem would look like when finished, I gave it a quickie micro mesh rub.   I cut a little strip of card stock from the business leftover of someone with whom I didn’t care to do any more business and lubed it and a very small tweezers with a dab of petroleum jelly.  I inserted both into the mouth opening of the stem, with the cleaner behind the paper, until they were firmly in place inside the airway to a point just below the hole.  Finding my trusty old vulcanite stem that was long ago destroyed by another stem abuser, I shaved some fine flakes onto a small piece of paper with one side of a narrow, relatively smooth triangle rasp.

This was where I had to be prepared to act fast: I moved the flakes into a pile and added a few drops of black Super Glue, stirred the two into a gritty paste and scooped up a gob with the part of a three-piece pipe tool made for clearing tobacco from the chamber.  As fast as possible without making a mess, I slapped the goop liberally over the hole and set it aside to dry, removing the card stock and tweezers when the vulcanite mixture was dry on the inside but still a little wet on the outside.It’s a good thing I have an excellent recall of what I did in a particular restoration because the photographs I took of this project were more jumbled and duplicated than those from any other pipe on which I’ve worked.  I had so many of the same thing from alternate angles and differing clarity, for example, that I had to delete quite a few to make sense of it.  I concluded this was because of two things, trying different ways to get a good shot with my poor cell phone camera at the time and lack of sleep during the process.  It’s clear, excuse the pun, that some of the “best” are quite indistinct.  The following photos, as a result, are incomplete, but I always have the words to describe what I did.

For example, after the previous step, I started sanding with 150-grit paper and then smoothed it up with 220-, 320- and 400.  A common, less serious groove resulted, and I added more of the black Super Glue/vulcanite mix and let it dry again.  The mixture settled in well.That’s when I got serious with the sanding, using 150-, 220-, 320- and 400-grit paper and super fine “0000” steel wool.There’s still a small lump visible under the lip that I handled with as little abrasion as possible before the stem was done.  And that was it – for the bottom side.  I still had the top to do.  In every way other than the hole in the bottom, the top was worse, although it only needed a dab of black Super Glue/vulcanite solution to fill a small divot following the same initial OxiClean soak and a more vigorous sanding before filling a small divot with.  Considering again the top of the stem when I received it, close up, notice the wear below the square shank fitting before the rest of the work. The stem never quite fit the shank, which had been given a replacement band somewhere along the way, not to mention the band was damaged. After beginning to re-sand the bottom of the stem, the original hole caved in again.  Accepting defeat, I chose a new bulldog stem I had that needed serious filing at first and then sanding of the 9mm tenon to fit the shank. I bent the stem.  That required heating the stem – with a pipe cleaner inserted through the airhole – at 210° F. for about 15 minutes and bending the nice and pliant material over a complex tool.

Remembering the cell phone photos were atrocious and I had to edit them using every halfway adequate means of adjustment available with my so-called photo editor to show any similarity whatsoever to the actual result, here one last time is the stummel as it in fact looked when it was one step from completion before electric buffing.And these are the final photos of the pipe.  The most offensive discrepancies to me are the obscurity of the two-tone and the lack of shine the pipe had.  The bad twist on the stem in the fifth shot of the rear is all on me!

This blog being the occasion of my official announcement in this forum of my new webstore on  my own site, https://www.roadrunnerpipes2k.com/, is unfortunate in that the depictive presentation almost convinced me to give up any idea of writing the blog.  The poor quality and lack of photographs, as well as other stated reasons, were overwhelmingly opposed to the idea of even trying.  Then I thought of the work I put into the briar and the stem alone. In the end, I know how smooth, golden brown and at least hardly blemished the Hardcastle bulldog looked when I was done with it.  Whether anyone else does is of no importance to me.


Restoring my Grandfather’s…what the…A Kaywoodie?????

Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Yes!! That is what exactly my thought was, when I looked closely at the small pipe in my hand that I had selected as my next project for restoration. Those who have read my previous write ups on pipe restoration would know that I have inherited a large number of pipes from my grandfather dating between the periods from 1940s to 1970s. I had not come across a single Kaywoodie pipe in the two boxes I had opened, one box still remaining unopened!!!

I have restored two Custom-Bilt pipes from this collection to date, one from 1938-41 era (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/06/02/restoring-my-grandfathers-custom-bilt-pipe/) and second from the Wally Frank era(https://rebornpipes.com/2018/07/20/restoring-a-wally-frank-era-custombilt-sitter-633/), the third Custom-Bilt billiard from 1938-41 era was sent to Mr. Steve of rebornpipes fame to sort out tenon issues and have fallen in love with Custom-Bilt pipes since thereafter!!!! I had picked this pipe assuming it to be a Custom-Bilt and it was only on close scrutiny was it reveled that this was a Kaywoodie!!!!! I deliberately rummaged through the pile again and sure enough, there was another Kaywoodie Bent Billiard with 4 holed stinger in relatively unsmoked condition. It seems my grandfather never took a liking for these Kaywoodie pipes!!!!!

This Kaywoodie Pocket Pipe, now on my work table, has similar large finger like vertical rustications with very thin horizontal lines ensconced within these large vertical rustications. These thick vertical rustications extend upwards and end short of the rim top, giving the rim top a flat smooth surface. These rustications can be seen extending all around the shank on top and bottom, save for smooth surfaces on either sides of the shank. The smooth surface on the left side of the shank bears the stamping “Handmade” over “Super Grain” in cursive hand, over “KAYWOODIE” in block capital letters. The right side of the shank bears the stamp “IMPORTED BRIAR”. All these stampings are thin, worn out but readable under bright light with a magnifying glass. The ¾ bent saddle stem bears the trade mark “Clover leaf” symbol.This pipe comes with a four-holed threaded stinger which screws into the shank. This stinger is stamped with “DRINKLESS”. There is an aluminum spacer ring separating the shank end from the stem end when threaded in. On closer observation, it can be seen that a portion of this spacer, closer to the mortise opening, extends into the mortise and is threaded which matches with the stinger threads.I took all these observation and searched pipedia.com for history of this brand, models and attempt at dating this pipe. This site has detailed information on Kaywoodie pipes, including the history of origin, about the owners of the brand and also various important links to “Collector’s Guide to Kaywoodie Pipes” and “Kaywoodie’s Logos and Markings: Clover variations since 1919”. Here is what was revealed as extracted from pipedia.com:-

Kaywoodie was the name a pipe offered by Kaufman Brothers & Bondy Company (KBB), first appearing in February of 1919. The Dinwoodie pipe, also by KBB, appeared in November of 1919. Sometime before 1924, the Dinwoodie had been discontinued and the Kaywoodie name was beginning to be used on an extensive line of pipes that ultimately would be the name of the company. The origin of the name Kaywoodie is a combination of the K from Kaufman and wood, as in briar. Not much is known of the original KBB company other than it was started in 1851 by the German born Kaufman brothers when they opened a small pipe shop in the Bowery section of New York City. In the back room of this shop, they made their first pipes. From this meager beginning, the Kaywoodie name and organization was to emerge.

When one of the men from the New York office got “gold fever”, he carried a large supply of pipes with him to California that he sold along the way. This early “national distribution” did much to build the reputation of KBB. By the late 1800’s, branches of KBB were opened in Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco and St. Louis with family and friends acting as agents. The trademarks, for the inlaid cloverleaf and the cloverleaf with the KBB initials inside, were issued in 1881. KBB’s pipes became more popular and were in constant demand by the end of the century. Orders were streaming back east and KBB needed to move to larger manufacturing facilities. By 1915 the move was made to larger facilities in the old Union Hill section of Union City, New Jersey. The salesroom offices were located at 33 East 17th. Street, New York. When the Kaywoodie pipe was first introduced by KBB it came with a hand cut rubber mouthpiece fitted with an aluminum Inbore Tube. This device was to “assure a clean, cool smoke.” Other KBB pipes such as Ambassador, Heatherby and Melrose also had the Inbore tube. The early Drinkless Kaywoodies from 1924 through 1931 had push bit stems. In 1931, after three years of research, the new Drinkless Kaywoodies with the synchro-stem, (threaded drinkless screw-in mouthpiece) were introduced. The drinkless attachment was advertised as cooling the smoke from 850 degrees in the bowl to 82 degrees when it entered the mouth. By the mid 1930’s, all Kaywoodie’s came with the screw mounted Drinkless attachment. (Export Kaywoodies, available briefly from 1950-1955, had push bit stems and were available in all the same shapes and finishes as the drinkless versions.)

Throughout much of the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s, the Kaywoodie family of pipes consisted of 11 basic grades of briar pipes; though new grades were frequently added to the line and some older grades were discontinued or downgraded. These 11 basic grades of pipes, listed in ascending order of quality, were:

  1. Drinkless
  2. Hand-made Super Grain
  3. Super Grain
  4. Relief Grain
  5. Flame Grain
  6. Silhouette
  7. Oversize Kaywoodies
  8. Meerschaum Inlaid Kaywoodies
  9. Connoisseur
  10. Ninety-fiver
  11. Centennial

Thus from the above, I can safely infer that this pipe was a higher grade Kaywoodie from the 1940s to 1960s.

The finish looked a lot like the classic Kaywoodie take on Tracy Mincer’s Custom-Bilt pipes. The carved worm trails seen on the stummel and shank is filled with dust, dirt and grime of years of smoking and thereafter years of uncared for storage. The grime and dirt is so strongly entrenched in to these carved worm trails that it appears black and solidly smooth to the touch. I could see 3-4 small dings and dents on one of the fingers of the raised portion of the stummel. This will need to be addressed. There is a decent layer of cake inside the bowl which is dry and hard to the touch. The smooth rim top is clean and devoid of any apparent damage. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be ascertained after the cake has been reamed out. The inner edge of the rim shows minor uneven surface, however, the outer edge of the rim is clean and without dents or dings. The short ¾ bent saddle stem has smooth upper and lower surfaces without any tooth chatter or bite marks. This is unlike any other pipe stem I have seen that had belonged to my grand old man. The four holed stinger is clean, however, the holes appear to be clogged. This was confirmed as air did not flow when I tried to blow through the stem. May be that has been the reason that this pipe was not as extensively used by him. The inlaid white clover leaf is clean and prominent with a tiny portion of the top of the leaf missing!! But it is so tiny chip that it is not immediately visible. The lips are worn out and may need to be reconstructed; again I am not sure about this as there is no damage as such. There is an aluminum spacer between the stem and the shank which breaks the monotony of the pipe. However, it is broken on the right side leaving an ugly gap between the shank and stem. The remaining portion of the aluminum spacer was crumbling and breaks merely to the touch. This needs to be addressed. There is a circular band of white tape or some such material at the end of the stinger where it meets the stem. This is something which is not correct and the reason for it having been placed needs to be checked. THE PROCESS
First and foremost in any restoration of pipe, I start with reaming the chamber with a Kleen Reem pipe reamer. However, in this instance, the cake was dry, tightly packed and very hard. I feared breaking the reamer and resorted to the use of my fabricated knife. After a struggle, I was able to take the cake down to the bare briar. I sanded the inner walls of the chamber with 150, 220 and 600 grit sand paper to completely remove the remaining cake and smooth out the walls. Alas, I observed some superficial gouges on the wall surface due to the use of knife. I would need to address this by coating the chamber walls with pipe mud at a later stage. I cleaned the mortise and internals of the shank with cue tips, pipe cleaners and alcohol. Since the major challenge appreciated in this restoration project was the construction of a new aluminum spacer, I decided that is where I would start!!!! To address this issue, I identified three options, as under, which were available to me:

(a) Coat the entire spacer, including the broken portion, with superglue, building it up in layers and then sanding it to flatten it on a topping board. This coat of superglue will also stabilize the remaining original spacer.

(b) Fabricate an aluminum spacer out of a regular aluminum washer and replace only the broken portion of the spacer.

(c) Replace the entire spacer with the new fabricated aluminum spacer.

I discussed these options with my mentor, Mr. Steve Laug. As is his trademark style of tutoring, his suggestion was, “I would go with the first option”!!!!! He further clarified that the spacer also enters the mortise and has threads for the “synchro-stem” (threaded drinkless screw-in mouthpiece). Thus, I concluded that exercising the third option was best avoided if I wished to avoid ruining the pipe!!! That left me with following either first option or the second option. Any other sane student would have followed the advice of his mentor (which I had been doing up to this point!!!). However, I, for some reason, was convinced that the end result of exercising the second option would result in a better finish and thus embarked on the arduous journey of replacing only the broken portion of the original spacer with the fabricated aluminum washer.

I began the process by shaping the new aluminum washer to match the size, shape and thickness of the original spacer. I was not very meticulous about the size and thickness as the same would, in any case, have to be perfectly matched by sanding it down with needle files. The following pictures will tell the story of the entire process of constructing this spacer. However, what these pictures do not tell you is the long back breaking hours involved, the strain to which eyes were subjected, precise and controlled movements of the needle files and agony experienced whenever the needle file inadvertently scraped the crumbling original spacer, causing it to chip. When I was satisfied with the fit and finish of the new spacer, I applied an even coat of superglue over the entire surface and very painstakingly re-aligned all the broken pieces of the original spacer and also the new fabricated spacer over the coat of the superglue and set it aside to cure overnight. Next day I evenly applied another coat of superglue over the entire spacer and again set it aside to cure so as to stabilize the spacer repairs and even out the surface. Once the glue had sufficiently cured, I topped the surface on a topping board to even out the glue. To further smooth out the surface and ensure a transparent, even and smooth surface, I polished the surface with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I frequently wiped the surface with a moist cloth to remove the glue dust. I was able to maintain just sufficient thickness of the coat so as not to disturb the alignment of the stem with the shank while stabilizing and protecting the spacer. I was very satisfied with the results. Now with the spacer taken care of, I start working on the stummel. I thoroughly clean the stummel with undiluted Murphy’s oil soap and a hard bristled tooth brush scrubbing the rustications clean of all the lodged dirt, dust and grime. I had seen a few dents and dings on one of the fingers of the stummel rustication and wanted to address it. I began by sanding the stummel and raised portion of the rustications with a 600 grit sand paper followed by 800 grit sand paper. I had used very light hand so as not to lose too much briar (though at the end I realized that I should have used a bit more force since at the end of the process, these dents and dings were still very much visible!!!!!!). This sanding was followed by polishing with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a moist cloth after each pad to remove all the sanding dust. As I was going through the micromesh pads, I was thinking of adding some twist to the finish and remembered that Mr. Dal Stanton, a gentleman I often turn to for some interesting pipe related conversations and advice, had refurbished a Tom Howard rusticated tomato pipe for me. He had darkened the crevices of the rustications with a dark stain pen and the contrast was eye catching, to say the least. I wanted to have a pair of pipes with this finish and decided to give this Kaywoodie the same treatment. I discussed with Mr. Dal Stanton who wholeheartedly explained the technique of achieving this finish and also gave me some very fine and pragmatic advice which I shall cherish on this journey. I stained the crevices in the rustications with a dark brown stain pen and set it aside for the stain to set in to the crevices. After the stain had set, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After” restoration balm in to stummel and set it aside for a few minutes to let the balm work its magic on the briar wood. The balm works to bring back the shine and pours life in to the briar. I buff the stummel with a horse hair shoe brush followed by a nice hand polish with a soft cotton cloth. I liked the way the stummel has finished. To address the superficial gouges in the chamber created by use of knife during reaming, I prepared a mixture of pipe ash and yogurt of putty consistency and applied a coat to the inner walls of the chamber. Once the coating had cured, I gently sand the walls with a 220 grit sand paper to a smooth and even surface. With this, the stummel is all completed. Once the stummel had been finished and set aside, I turned my attention to the stem. There was not much work on this stem since it was sparingly used with only light signs of oxidation and no bite marks or tooth chatter. I start by sanding with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol to remove the sand dust and rub a small quantity of Extra Virgin olive oil and allow it to be absorbed in to the stem. The stem is now nice and shiny. The next thing to address was the blocked stem. I tried cleaning the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol, but the pipe cleaner would not go in the complete distance. There was gunk and tars which had accumulated inside the airway and in the holes too!!!! Using a straightened paper clip, I probed and cleaned all the holes on the stinger. I tried to blow through the stem, but I realized that it was still blocked. I tried pushing the paper clip through the airway and then there was this small sound of a crack!!!!!! Aargh……..the upper lip now has a chip!!!!! Undaunted by this temporary setback, I continue with the clearing of the blocked stem. Finally, I am able to dislodge the block and now the air flows freely through the stem.To address this chip, I firstly insert a regular pipe cleaner coated with Vaseline in to the air way. This prevents the charcoal and glue mix from dribbling in to the air way blocking it. I mix a small quantity of activated charcoal and CA superglue and spot apply it over the chipped surface. Once I have ensured that the complete surface is coated with the mix, I set it aside to cure overnight. The next evening, I file the filling with a needle file and match it to the surface of the stem. To further match the filling with the rest of the stem surface, I sand the fill with a 220 grit sand paper followed by micromesh polish pads. The stem is now nice and shiny again with a free flow of air through the airway. I finished this restoration by applying a small quantity of Halcyon II wax and rubbed it deeply in to the stummel with my fingers. A few minutes later, I polished it with a soft cotton cloth using muscle power. The stummel now has a nice deep shine to it and the grains on the rim top and raise portion of the rustication can be seen in its full glory. I re-attach the stem and then relies that the stem is off center to the shank!!!! My God, this one was giving me a hard time. I removed the white sticky tape that was stuck around the stinger at the stem end and tried the fit. The fit had improved but it was still off centre. Again, to address this issue, I was presented with two options of either sanding the coating of superglue over the spacer till the off center was corrected or heat the stinger till the glue fixing the stinger in the stem was loosened and turn the stinger in to the mortise till the issue was addressed. I decided to go with the second option as I feared losing the coating of superglue over the spacer and thus exposing the brittle original to further chipping. I heated the stinger with the flame of a Bic lighter so that the glue holding the stinger would loosen a bit and fitted the stem in to the mortise, tightening it till the stem and shank were perfectly aligned. I let the stinger sit in this position till it had cooled down and the glue had hardened again. Now the fit of the stem and the shank is perfectly aligned. Here are the pictures of the finished pipe and hope that this long write up has been an enjoyable read. Thank you for walking with me through this restoration as I attempt to preserve the legacy of my beloved grand old man!!!!!


Finishing up a Stanwell de Luxe Regd No. 969-48 Shape 482 for Paresh

Blog by Steve Laug

Not long ago I was speaking with Paresh and Abha on Facetime and they showed me a Stanwell de Luxe 482 that they had been working on. It was cleaned and ready for restoration. Paresh had filled in the multitude of nicks and dents in the briar with super glue and briar dust. He was not happy with the freckled appearance of the briar once he had finished his repairs. The super glue was very runny and had gone all over the bowl leaving darkened patches where ever it ran all around the bowl. Kind of a mess. There were also some fine pin hole nicks in the shank that were around the stamping. He wanted me to pick up where he had left off and finish the pipe for him. The pipe was stamped on the left side of the shank Stanwell over Regd. No. 969-48 over de Luxe. ON the right side it was stamped Fine Briar over the shape number 482. Working on this pipe was truly not a bad deal for me as it was completely cleaned up by Abha and the stem was cleaned and partially finished as well. It would be interesting to see what I could do with it. When the pipe arrived this is what it looked like. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the bowl from various angles to show the freckled appearance that Paresh was speaking about. I carefully wiped the bowl down with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the excess glue that had run and also the stain that remains in the briar without damaging the repairs. The repair spots begin to show clearly. There are still spots on the shank that need to be dealt with. I sanded the surface of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repairs and remove the marks from the runny glue. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-4000 grit pads. I wiped it down after each pad with a damp cloth. I also used the tip of a dental pick to fill in the many tiny sandpits in the sides of the shank. Once the glue cured I sanded them smooth with the tip of a sanding stick and folded sandpaper. Once the fills were blended into the surface of the shank I polish the shank portion again with the micromesh sanding pads. I stained the bowl with Fiebing’s Tan Aniline stain. The stain is a brownish red colour and should help to hide the many repairs to the bowl.Once the stain had dried to touch I wiped the bowl down with a cotton pad and alcohol. I wanted the stain to be transparent and allow the grain to shine through but still be opaque enough to hide the repairs that both Paresh and I had done. I rubbed down the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the smooth 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 the bowl with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The grain is really starting to stand out. There were still some grooves near the button that needed to be dealt with before I would be happy with the stem. I sanded the grooves out with 220 grit sandpaper until they were smooth.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratches. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. 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 rich reds of the tan stain work well to blend in the majority of the fills in the briar. The pin hole nicks in the finish have almost all been repaired and blended in with the stain coat. The grain really stands on the finished bowl and shank. The polished black vulcanite stem works together with the beautiful grain in the briar to give the pipe a rich look. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 inches. The pipe is ready to head back to Paresh in India once I have finished a few more projects for him. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this beautiful little Stanwell.  There were two larger factory fills in the bowl that were rock hard and not workable. I could not pick them out or get the stain to permeate the putty. They are visible in the next two photos. Ah well they will remain in the finished pipe.

The Vintage Notoriety of Tom Howard and his Jumbo Squat Rustified Tomato

Blog by Dal Stanton

I’ve never restored a pipe where the person who made it had more notoriety than the pipe name itself.  The Tom Howard Jumbo Squat Rustified Tomato came to me along with several others from a good friend I worked with in Ukraine several years ago.  Dave Shain is also a fellow pipe man and restores pipes and has a great website, www.ThePipery.com.  In 2017, Dave won the Master of Pipes award from the Chicago Pipe Collectors Club for his work and charitable activities through The Free Pipe Project where Dave spearheads a program to send quality restored pipes to servicemen serving their country.  I visited Dave where he lives near Atlanta, Georgia, and we had a great time renewing our relationship.  He showed me his workshop, pipe and tobacco collections, and of course, we settled down in the ‘Barn’ flanked by a vintage Ford pickup – his Man Cave, to share a bowl or two.  It was a fun reunion!  I left with a tin of his aged Escudo and several pipes he wanted me to restore for the Daughters of Bulgaria, which I was more than happy to do.  Thanks Dave!The Tom Howard is now on my worktable because another pipe man, Paresh, saw it on The Pipe Steward site in my section, For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only!  This is where I post pipes that are in my electronic ‘Help Me!’ basket that others can commission to add to their collections.  Like me, through rebornpipes’ Steve Laug’s encouragement and tutelage, Paresh started restoring some of his own pipes in India, where he lives, and publishing his write ups on rebornpipes.  This LINK will take you to his restorations published on rebornpipes – he does a great job!   After seeing some of my restorations online, Paresh visited The Pipe Steward and saw some pipes that chose him – like Harry Potter and the wizard’s wands!  One thing I’ve learned in my growing relationship with Paresh as we’ve communicated back and forth between Bulgaria and India, is that he doesn’t like large pipes – he LOVES large pipes!  And this Tom Howard Jumbo Squat Rustified Tomato got his attention – here are the pictures he saw in For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only!The pipe is marked on the left shank with ‘Tom Howard’ in cursive script and ‘Imported Briar’ on the right shank side in the same script.  For a Squat Tomato, I’ve labeled it a ‘Jumbo’ because it has a definite stout presence in the palm.  The dimensions of the bowl give you an understanding of Tom Howard’s presence: Length: 5 5/16 inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Bowl width: 2 1/8 inches, Rim width: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber width: 7/8 inches, Chamber depth: 1 1/4 inches.I had never heard of a Tom Howard stamp on a pipe and after I put the name in search tool on Pipedia I was surprised to find what I found.  Tom Howard was a vintage celebrity in America during the 1940s and 50s.  Here’s the Pipedia said about Tom Howard the man:

Tom Howard was a popular comedian and personality in the 1940s/50s, known for vaudeville stage and radio work. But he also was a skilled pipe maker. In a Popular Mechanic article from 1947 he is written up as the “Hobbyist of the Month, Tom Howard.” He made pipes in his workshop outside his home in Red Bank, NJ. starting about 1939 and looks like into the late 1940’s or later. He purchased briar blocks by the bag as well as stem blanks, and in his well-equipped shop he handcrafted his pipes, in about three hours on average. He was a true craftsman, also specializing is intricate model boats, trains and brass canons, all built to scale.

I was intrigued – this vaudeville and stage comedian made pipes and this pipe came from his workshop made by his hands.  How cool is that?  Desiring to find out more about Tom Howard the man, I searched Wikipedia and found a fun and informative article about his professional life and how he hosted a I was intrigued – this vaudeville and stage comedian made pipes and this pipe came from his workshop made by his hands.  How cool is that?  Desiring to find out more about Tom Howard the man, I searched Wikipedia and found a fun and informative article about his professional life and how he hosted a zany Q&A game show that was spoofing the ‘serious’ Q&A game shows.  It was called “It Pays to Be Ignorant”.   Here is what the Wikipedia article said:

It Pays to Be Ignorant was a radio comedy show which maintained its popularity during a nine-year run on three networks for such sponsors as Philip MorrisChrysler, and  DeSoto. The series was a spoof on the authoritative, academic discourse evident on such authoritative panel series as Quiz Kids and Information Please, while the beginning of the program parodied the popular quiz show, Doctor I.Q. With announcers Ken Roberts and Dick Stark, the program was broadcast on Mutual from June 25, 1942 to February 28, 1944, on CBS from February 25, 1944 to September 27, 1950 and finally on NBC from July 4, 1951 to September 26, 1951. The series typically aired as a summer replacement.

Snooping a bit more, I found an online site that had the July 5, 1951 episode of ‘It pays to Be Ignorant’ available for viewing.  I watched it and it was like I was in a time machine!  The video also included period advertising for cars and tobacco and Tom Howard in form, dawning a professorial gown and a gravelly 1950s vaudeville tin can voice.  It’s great! I clipped a picture of the episode.  If you want to see it yourself, here’s the link:  The Internet Archive.

The Pipedia article I included above, referenced one more source to learn a bit more about Tom Howard.  In a 1947 Popular Mechanics edition he was named ‘Hobbyist of the Month’ – but it didn’t say which month!  With a little bit of help from Google, I found Archive.org that housed old editions of many periodicals including Popular Mechanics.  I started in January and started searching – thankfully they had a search tool I utilized for each month.  Finally, I found the article in the Popular Mechanic 1947 June’s edition.   For the absolute nostalgia of it, and for the interesting information it adds about Tom Howard and especially his pipe production, I’m including the pages here for you to read – including the cover page!  I couldn’t pass it up!   With a greater appreciation for the pipe man, Tom Howard, I take another look at the Jumbo Squat Rustified Tomato before me and based upon the articles above the dating of this pipe could range from the late 1930s to the early 50s as Tom Howard died in 1955 at the age of 70 according to Wikipedia.  The chamber has very little cake buildup.  The rim is worn and the rustification on the rim is filled or simply worn down – I’ll need to clean this to see.  The inner lip of the rim is darkened by scorching.  The rustified stummel is attractive – it has scratches and blemishes from use.  The smooth briar around the rustification is nice looking – I think it will look very nice after cleaned and spruced up some.  The stem has some oxidation and the bit shows minor tooth chatter.  I notice too, that Tom Howard but a subtle bend on the saddle stem to give the stem a definite orientation – nice touch and it looks good too.I begin the restoration by cleaning the internal airway of the stem using a pipe cleaner dipped in isopropyl 95% and then adding it to a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer along with other stems of pipes in queue to be restored.  After a few hours I remove the stem from the bath and wipe it down with a cotton pad wetted with light paraffin oil (mineral oil) removing the light oxidation that was raised from the vulcanite.Turning now to the stummel, to remove the light cake in the chamber I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit.  Even though the cake is light, I want to give the chamber a fresh start.  I jump right to the 3rd largest blade head and finish using the largest.  I follow the reaming blades by using the Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Tool to scrape the chamber wall further, then finish by sanding the chamber with 240 grit paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  To clean the carbon dust, I wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  I inspect the chamber wall and it looks good – no cracks or heat fissures.  The pictures show the process. To clean the external surface of the stummel, I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and cotton pads.  I also utilize a bristled tooth brush to clean the rustification as well as a brass bristled brush to work on the rim and the dark scorching on the inner lip. Turning to the internals, I use cotton buds and pipe cleaners with isopropyl 95% to clean. I also employ dental spatulas to scrape the mortise walls as well as a drill bit to clean the airway.  I sized a bit just large enough to fit the airway and hand-turn the bit to clean the tars off the walls.  After some time, the cotton buds and pipe cleaners start coming out cleaner.  Later, I will continue the internal cleaning by giving the internals a kosher salt and alcohol soak.Turning to the stem, I use 240 grit paper to sand out the roughness and tooth dent in the bit area – upper and lower.  I follow this by wet sanding the entire stem with 600 grit paper.  I then use 0000 grade steel wool to sand/buff the stem.  The pictures show the progress. While I was sanding, I notice that the draft hole in the button is not shaped well – a bite compression or something.  I use a sharp needle file to even the opening and I repeat the sanding process for the button end – 240, 600 and 0000 steel wool.With my day ending, I continue the cleaning of the stummel internals by utilizing a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  I create a ‘wick’ by pulling and twisting a cotton ball.  I then insert it and stuff it down the mortise into the airway as much as it will allow.  I then fill the chamber with kosher salt – why kosher?  It will not leave a residue taste as iodized salt.  I place the stummel in an egg cart to keep it steady and fill the bowl with alcohol using a large eye dropper until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes I top it off once more – and turn off the lights. The next morning, the kosher salt/alcohol soak had done its job.  The salt and wick are soiled by drawing out more tars and oils.  I throw the used salt in the waste and wipe the bowl with paper towel and blow through the mortise to dislodge any remaining salt.  I then use a few more cotton buds and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% to make sure.  All is good – clean – and I move on! Looking at the stummel, I see several scratches on the smooth briar surrounding the rustification.  The rim isn’t even and it is worn.  I decide to freshen the rim by topping the stummel but only lightly – I don’t want to erase the rustification that Tom Howard placed there many years ago!  Using 240 grade paper on a chopping board, I invert the stummel and give it a few rotations and look.  I do this a few times and decide I’ve taken off enough.  It looks good and the rustification remains intact.  I then switch to 600 grade paper on the topping board and give the stummel a few more rotations.  This erases the rougher 240 scratches and smooths the rim surface.  The pictures show the topping process from the start to finish. Darkened briar remains on the inner ring of the rim from scorching (picture above).  To address this, I introduce a gentle internal bevel using 120 grade paper, followed by 240, then 600.  With each paper grade, I roll the piece of sanding paper into a tight roll and rotate it around the circumference of the internal lip by pinching the paper with my thumb.  This allows a uniform beveling to emerge.  The pictures show the progression. Now to the briar surface.  The smooth briar has a lot of small scratches and rough places throughout.  The first picture below also shows an example of Tom Howard’s rustification processes not contained to the rustification areas. I will spot sand these areas. First, I sand out the overrun rustification marks with 240 and 600 paper.  And then, to address the smooth briar of the entire stummel, I use a rough grade sanding sponge to remove the scratches and blemishes.  I then follow with a medium grade sponge then a light grade sponge.  Taking the stummel to the next step, I wet sand it with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sand with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  All I can say is, ‘Wow!’  I love watching the grain emerge through the micromesh pad regimen.  Each pad teases out the grain a bit more.  The pictures show the progression. I put the stummel aside and pick up the Tom Howard stem and using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand.  Then I dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of three pads, I apply a generous coating of Obsidian Oil that revitalizes the vulcanite stem.  The result is the glossy pop we all expect! Looking again at the stummel, there are some pinhead fills on the left shank side that need to be addressed as well as the worn rustification cuts that have fill material visible and generally, is lighter than desired.  I take some pictures of the different things I see.In the Pipedia article of Tom Howard, there were several pictures of his pipes that were provided courtesy of Doug Valitchka, which give an idea of the original motif used when Tom Howard rustified his pipes.  The picture below shows a dark shaded rustification, though it appears that Mr. Howard put a dye on this stummel to give it a more reddish hue.  Using this picture as a guide, I use a walnut dye stick to color and blend the pinhead fills and to redefine the rustification, yet I prefer the natural briar hue of this Tom Howard Squat Tomato and will not stain the stummel. Now, to ‘rough up’ the rustification, I mount the Dremel with a more abrasive felt buffing wheel set at 40% full power and apply Tripoli compound to the rustification.  The effect is that this softens the hue – blends it more so that it doesn’t look painted.  I think it does the job and I like the blending!I buff the stummel with a felt cloth to remove leftover compound and I apply Before & After Restoration Balm to the stummel.  This Balm works well to bring out the deep hues of the natural briar.  I squeeze some Balm on my finger and I work it into the stummel and rustification.  The Balm begins as a light oil texture then thickens as it’s works into the briar.  I let is set for several minutes then I wipe/buff the Balm residue off with a microfiber cloth. I then reunite stem and stummel and mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the stummel, maintain a 40% full power speed, and apply Blue Diamond compound to both stem and stummel.  As before, using a felt cloth, I buff the pipe to remove compound dust left behind before waxing.  I then mount another cotton cloth buffing wheel onto the Dremel, maintain the same speed, and apply carnauba wax to the entire pipe.  I finish by giving the pipe a good hand-buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine of the briar even more.

I’m pleased with the results of the Tom Howard Jumbo Rustified Squat Tomato.  I’m pleased with the textured blending of the rustification with the backdrop of beautiful smooth briar.  The contrast between the two is attractive.  I’m thankful to Dave Shain for giving me this Tom Howard to restore for the Daughters.  I’m also thankful for having discovered through the research the story of an interesting man.  Tom Howard was an accomplished comedian and stage person during his time.  But most interesting to me was his pursuits at home – in his workshop making quality pipes – not on a factory production line, but one pipe at a time with his own hands.  His love of pipes and placing them in other’s hands reminds me somewhat of my own worktable – the love of restoration and passing pipes on to others.  Paresh commissioned this Tom Howard and he will have the first opportunity to acquire him in The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe will also benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – our work helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!