Tag Archives: restaining rims

Rejuvenating an American Bentley Apple


Guest Blog by Robert M. Boughton
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors
http://www.naspc.org
http://www.roadrunnerpipes.com
http://about.me/boughtonrobert
Photos © the Author

“I don’t want to be pretty. I want to be better. I want to be perfect.”
― Kimber Henry (Kelly Carlson), in “Nip/Tuck,” Season 1, Ep. 1

INTRODUCTION
A nip and tuck is a minor plastic surgery procedure. “Nip/Tuck” (FX channel, 2003-2010) is a racy drama/dark comedy about the realities and sometimes horrors of the cosmetic surgery profession, with some truly grisly moments. Although this restoration involved only normal and accepted methods of pipe fixing, some of them resulted in drastic improvements of the U.S. Bentley apple that needed a full makeover. And so I flashed back on the bawdy TV series.

I bought the pipe on eBay for $6 when I tracked down its nomenclature that identified it as a Kaywoodie second. The seller, who is more into oddball collectibles than tobacco pipes and therefore knows nothing about the latter, had sold me a genuine white briar Kaywoodie 12B bulldog for $10.00, but then had the unfortunate duty to inform me he lost it somewhere in the clutter of his home. He promptly refunded my payment and assured me that both he and his wife would continue searching for the misplaced bulldog and forward it to me free of charge when it was located.

Why I chose to give this fellow a second chance is anyone’s guess, but it paid off. Both the Bentley and the full Kaywoodie white bulldog arrived soon after in the same package. Grateful for my business and true to his word, the seller charged me only for the Bentley. It just goes to show there are good folks everywhere, even some in Ohio who don’t enjoy or collect smoking pipes. Appreciating the excellent fortune I had in acquiring these two pipes for the normal shipping fee of one, I nevertheless suggested that the good gentleman in the Midwest begin checking the pipes he stumbled upon now and then at http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/index-en.html, or at least a browser search, before choosing such low prices. However, his response indicated he hadn’t a clue what I meant. Sadly, I had to let the urge to be helpful go, and look forward to taking advantage of his generosity more and more in the future.
When I opened the box in my car outside of my Post Office and saw the white briar bulldog first, I smiled as I turned it in my hands and concluded a little work would make it whole and vital once more.Bentley1 Then my attention turned to the Bentley, and I laughed hard enough to draw attention from the occupants of the car next to mine. The chamber was so full of built-up cake, in such a uniform circle leaving only a virtual pinpoint of space to load tobacco, that I ignored the other Postal customers and continued guffawing. So amused and excited was I by the challenge of restoring the Bentley, I had to resist the impulse to get out of my car and show it to the complete strangers next to me.

RESTORATIONBentley2

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Bentley5 This one was going to take some work, to be sure. The chamber – well, I needed to think about how even to start that. The rim, I knew, would be no problem. The bit was slightly off its mark when tightened. The old polish and stain was worn away in areas, in particular the sides. And of course, there were scratches everywhere. All in all, I was exhilarated.

Having decided to bore my way through the huge blockade of years of determined and, I must admit, evenly-executed accretion of chamber char in increments, I chose a 17mm fixed reamer and went at it. With just enough room at the top to insert the reamer – I was even grateful the single user of the pipe had somewhat obsessively filled it to the same exact point about an eighth of an inch below the rim – I slowly cranked away, emptying the carbon dust and checking the progress as I moved deeper. I used to document the height of the pile of carbon with each restoration, but I gave up on that long ago. Suffice it to say there would have been a small hill of it in this case. Just getting to the bottom took about a half-hour. Here are pictures of the halfway point and the first strike of gold at the bottom.Bentley6 I gave the bit, which was in pretty good shape, an OxiClean wash, for the most part to help clean out what had to be an ugly mess of ignored old saliva and tobacco juice.Bentley7 While the bath was doing its magic, I sanded off all of the old wax and stain using 500-grit paper and took off the rim char with super fine steel wool.Bentley8

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Bentley10 Removing the bit from the wash, I rinsed it and tried micromesh from 1500-4000, but there was still a small area on both sides of the lip end that needed more attention with 320-grit paper, then another progression of the micromesh.Bentley11

Bentley12 I worked on the briar with a micromesh progression from 1500-4000, as usual, and it did the trick for most of the outer area. I also used 200-grit paper followed by 320 and 500 on the chamber to smooth it out.Bentley13

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Bentley15 Clearly, the sides and rim still had small scratches, and so I used 800 micromesh to remove those blemishes before working my way up the scale again.

The stem was off just a tad. I heated the tenon with my Bic, threw a small rag over it and used clamped the pliers down. I had to use all of my might to make it budge, but it was straight. Below are the before and after shots, which are barely different.Bentley16 After a pre-scrub of the shank with wire cleaners dipped in Everclear, which removed quite a bit of nasty old gunk, I retorted the pipe. Then I chose, after careful consideration of whether or not to let it go with the natural finish, to darken the wood just a little using Lincoln Medium Brown stain, which is lighter than the regular brown, and flamed it.Bentley17 A gentle rub with 4000 micromesh took off the char, and I rubbed it with a soft cotton cloth.Bentley18

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Bentley20 Time for the buffer wheels, I applied red and white Tripoli to the stem, using the clean wheel after each. I did the same to the wood, adding White Diamond and carnauba.Bentley21

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Bentley23 And this time I remembered not to over-do the sanding on the nomenclature.

CONCLUSION
Some say pride is a sin, but I am happy with the results. After all of that work, I’d love to keep this beautiful, elegant Bentley apple. But I’m going to have to sell her. Oh, well. My P.A.D. is so bad, I’m sure I’ll find something else to keep – like the Kaywoodie 12B bulldog.

A Classic Rework of A Royal Duke Supreme


Blog by Steve Laug

I had this old Royal Duke bowl in my box. It had some promise to my eye but it needed some work. The first thing I did was drill out the metal mortise that took a threaded tenon. I did not have any stems that fit it anyway and I wanted to try something new. The issue that remained once it was gone was the fact that the mortise rough inside and the end of the shank was not square so that there was no way to get a new stem to fit it seamlessly. The finish was very rough as can be seen in the photos below. The varnish on the outside of the bowl had bubbled and blistered. The front edge of the bowl was actually darkened as the varnish seemed to have burned or at least coloured. There were dents in the bowl and the rim was rough. I turned a precast stem with my tenon turner and got it close. I had to custom fit it as the shank was a little tapered toward the end.

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The stem fit fairly well but would take a bit of customizing to get a good tight fit to the shank. It would also need a good cleanup to trim off the castings on the stem. The vulcanite was fairly decent quality as I have had it a long time but it showed no oxidation.

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I decided to work on the bowl first to clean up the remaining finish and remove the varnish from the bowl. I also wanted to see if I could remove the darkening around the front and back of the bowl. I washed the bowl with acetone on a cotton pad and cleaned off the finish. It took repeated washing to break through the varnish coat and also the burned and bubble finish. The next two photos show the pads after the wash. You can begin to see the grain coming out on this beauty. That is what drew me to the pipe in the first place and I was glad to see that it was truly there.

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I repeated the washing until the pipe was clean and had no remaining finish coat. The dark undercoat of stain still remained and light brown topcoat also was still present. This is clearly seen in the photos below. I worked on the fit of the stem and tapered the tenon enough to get a good snug fit to the bowl. I also used my Dremel to remove excess vulcanite from the top and the sides of the stem so that it lined up smoothly with the shank of the pipe. It was at that point I decided to pressure fit a nickel band to the shank to square things up a bit. There was no way that the stem and the shank would meet squarely as the shank was a bit angled and dented from the metal inserted mortise. The previous mortise had been threaded in and it had a thin band or flat top on it that sat against the briar. It was also patched a bit with putty to make the flow from the shank to the insert smooth. I fit the nickel band with heat and pressed it into place. I liked the finished look of the band and it gave me a straight edge to work with on the new stem. I again used the Dremel with a sanding drum to shave off more of the vulcanite and make the stem fit against the band inside edge. The next two pictures below show the stem after the fit and the shaving with the Dremel. You can see the rough surface on the saddle and the cleaned up edges of the cast stem and the button.

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I then sanded the bowl and the stem with 240 grit sandpaper to remove the scratches in the briar and also on the vulcanite stem. It took quite a bit of sanding to smooth out the saddle of the stem. The next five photos show the progress of the sanding on the stem. I also sanded the bowl to remove the remaining finish and scratches. I topped the bowl and smooth out the inner and outer rim to remove the damages to them both. I also used my heat gun to put the bend in the stem. I have a curbed dowel here that I put the heated stem on to ensure that the bend is straight and that I do not crimp or bend the stem unevenly.

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Once the sanding was at this point I wiped the bowl down with Isopropyl alcohol. I find that it removes any sanding dust and also the wet look shows me places where I still need to sand the bowl and stem. Once that was done I sanded the bowl again with 400 and 600 grit wet dry sand paper and water. I progressed through micromesh sanding pads 1500-12,000 grit – the first four pads with water and the remaining ones dry sanding. Once it was completed and smooth I wiped it down a final time before staining it.

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While I was sanding the pipe and working on the stem I tried to visualize what stain I wanted to use on this pipe. At this point remember I was not trying to restore the original Royal Duke colouration. I was working a new pipe out of this piece of briar even though I left the stamping. I decided to go with an oxblood aniline stain. I applied it with a cotton swab, flamed it and then took it to my buffer and buffed it with White Diamond.

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The next three photos show the pipe after the buffing with White Diamond. I had not applied any wax at this point nor was I finished working on the stem. The colour came out better than I imagined. The dark under notes of the grain come through nicely in the finished pipe. The light areas have a reddish brown hue that is a bit lighter as the pipe has been waxed and buffed.

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Once the pipe was stained I coated the bowl with multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect the new stain while I worked on the band and the stem. The nickel bands shine up really well with the higher grit micromesh sanding pads. I sanded the band with the 6000-12,000 grit pads and then polished it with some wax as well. I moved on to the stem. I sanded it some more with 240 grit sandpaper to remove some more of the scratches in the saddle area left by the Dremel. I then sanded it again with the 400 and 600 grit wet dry and water to smooth out the lesser scratches left behind by the 240 grit sandpaper. I went on to use 1500-3200 wet micromesh sanding pads to polish up the stem some more. These early grits of micromesh leave behind a matte finish as they sand out the scratches. It takes the grits above 4000 to really see the depth and polish that is there when finished. Once I used the lower grits I then polished the stem using Maguiar’s Scratch X2.0 polish and rubbed it on with a cotton pad and polished it off. I buffed the stem with White Diamond following this to see what I needed to work on.

I took the stem back to my work table and used the higher grits of micromesh. I started with 3600 and worked through 4000, 6000, 8000 and 12,000. Once I finished I buffed it again with the White Diamond and then coated the stem with Obsidian Oil and let it sit while the oil soaked the stem. I hand buffed the oil with a soft cotton cloth and then polished it with some carnauba wax paste and then buffed the entire pipe with several coats of carnauba. I buffed it with a clean cotton buff between coats of wax. The final photos are of the pipe as it stands now.

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Cleaning up a Swedish Bromma Dollar System Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Refurbished – A Stunning New Look for a Butz Choquin Billiard


I picked up this old Butz Choquin in a lot I was given by a friend and it was in very rough shape. I somehow neglected to take any pictures of what the pipe looked like when it arrived. But it came stem less and the rim was ruined. It had been hammered on concrete or something like that as it was stippled and rough. The inner rim was ruined as it seemed to have been reamed with a pocket knife and it was cut and grooved at all different angles. To have topped it I would have had to lose almost a half an inch on the pipe. In my opinion that would have ruined the billiard profile and created a pot shape. I decided to try something different on this one. The finish was shot as well and the stain was gone. It was a dull brown with much dirt and grime ground into the surface of the briar.

I reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer (like a Castleford T handle reamer) to even the sides of the bowl and smooth out the inner surface. I wiped the bowl down with acetone to clean off the grime and grit. Once it was clean I hunted down a stem blank that would work on a pipe with this sized shank. I cut the tenon with my Pimo tenon turner and shaped the stem to a clean fit with my Dremel. Then I took the bowl and dropped it in the alcohol bath while I worked on the stem. I sanded the stem to remove the scratches left by the Dremel. I also shaped the button a bit to change the shape and open up the slot to an oval.

I took the bowl out of the bath and dried it off. I gave it another wipe down with the acetone to give me a clean surface to work on. I then went to work on the rim. I wanted to chamfer the rim inward toward the bowl to remove the damaged material and give it a different look. I topped the bowl first to get a smooth and even surface. From there I sanded the inner edge of the rim with a folded piece of sandpaper (280 grit). I use a one inch square piece of sandpaper folded into quarters. Then I set the angle I want to have on the chamfer by the way I hold the paper. I sanded it until I got it at the angle I wanted and removed the damaged material. Once I had the angle right I then changed the grade of sandpaper sanding it with 400 and 600 grit wet dry and then with the micromesh sanding pads from 1500 to 6000 grit.

At that point I put the stem back on the pipe and sanded it until the transition between the shank and the stem was smooth. I wanted it to be a fit that appeared to be seamless. Once I had that done and had sanded the stem smooth with the various grades of micromesh sanding pads I took it to the buffer to give the stem a shine. I brought it back to my work table and sanded the bowl and shank until they were also smooth. I did not sand around the nomenclature as I wanted that to be intact.

I decided that I would give the bowl a contrasting stain finish. I heated the briar with a blow dryer to warm it up and open the grain on the bowl. Once it was warm I stained it with a black aniline stain. I flamed the stain and let it dry. I took it to the buffer and buffed it with Red Tripoli to remove the black stain from the surface of the briar. This takes off the extra black and leaves it in the softer grain of the briar. I sanded it again with 600 and 800 grit wet dry sandpaper and then buffed it again with White Diamond. I wanted contrast between the black that was deeply set in the grain and the harder smooth surfaces. Once that was done I wiped the bowl down with acetone to tone down the blacks and to clean off the surfaces that did not have the stain set in them. I restained the pipe with a Medium Brown aniline stain and flamed it as well. Once it was dry I buffed it with White Diamond to polish it. The whole pipe was then given multiple coats of carnauba wax and a finish buff with a soft, clean, flannel buffing pad.

While I liked the look of the pipe at this point I decided that it needed a bit of bling to finish it off. I have a box of bands here and found one the correct size – a nickel band that would add just the touch I was looking for. I heated the band with my heat gun and pressure fit it on the shank of the pipe. The finished product is in the photos below. This pipe found a new home with a friend on one of the online forums. I am sure he has enjoyed it as it was a great smoking machine.

The verdict is yours is the new look stunning or not?
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A Frustrating Brigham 1 Dot Rehabilitation


This old Brigham came to me in a box pass here in Canada. Brigham pipes were made in Canada in the old days and had an aluminum tenon/filter holder. When I took it out of the pass I thought it would be an easy clean up and I could put it back in the box on the next pass through. The other day I took it out to clean it up and this is what I found when I took the stem out. The aluminum tenon/filter holder had literally been eaten away. The hard rock maple filter must have been the original and it too had been eaten away. It was stuck in the corroded and rough tenon and I could not get it off. I used a light to shine down the mortise and the aluminum end of the filter was stuck in the airway. It was perfectly situated to not block the airway at all but it was there. The stem also had some thick white build up all around the button end. The only good part of the mess was that there were just a few small tooth dents on the stem. The bowl exterior was in good shape. The inside of the bowl was caked with a very tarry and oily aromatic smelling stuff. The rim was thick with the same tars as the bowl.

I used a hack saw to cut off the aluminum filter holder/tenon. I cut it off the same length as a regular tenon and used a file sandpaper to clean up the rough edges after the cut. Once that was done the maple filter had to be coaxed out with a dental pick until it broke free and came out. I do not believe it was ever removed since the day it was purchased from Brigham. It was unbelievably tarred and oily. The end of the filter that was stuck in the airway was more of a problem. The aluminum seems to have bonded to the walls of the mortise. I tried the freezer method to see if it would break free – no luck. I went on to clean and restain the bowl as described below before filling the bowl with cotton bolls and alcohol to see if the tars will break free from around the aluminum. I am going to let it sit over night with the soak and see what happens. The soaking did not work. So I tried to drill it out I started with a bit the same size as the metal end of the filter. I worked my way up to larger bit to open it and see if I could back it out. The trouble is the situation of the insert is right against the opening into the bowl so I opened it as wide as I could without damaging the airway. So now there is a small metal tube in the end of the airway that is open to the bowl. It is probably ¼ inch deep so it will act like a sleeve in the airway. It looks to me that it will stay there!

I cleaned off the rim with acetone on a cotton pad while carefully keeping the acetone off the sides of the bowl. I also followed that with micromesh pads – sanding it with 1500-6000 grit pads. There were three dent marks at between one and two o’clock on the photo above. I steamed them out with a hot knife and wet cloth. These dents easily came out of the rim and the surface was smooth and after sanding they virtually disappeared. I reamed the bowl back to bare wood and sanded the remaining surface of the bowl.

I worked on the stem quite awhile. I used emery cloth, medium grit to remove the white build up and the tooth marks on the stem. They were not too deep but would not lift with heat. Once I had them removed I worked on the stem with 240 grit sandpaper and 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the scratches. Then I worked over the stem with 1500-12,000 grit micromesh pads. When the stem was shiny I took it to the buffer and buffed it with White Diamond. I gave it several coats of Obsidian Oil to bring the vulcanite some life. Then I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect it. The first picture below is of the underside of the stem and the second one is the topside of the stem. The tooth marks and scratches are gone.

I restained the rim of the bowl with medium brown aniline stain and wipe it on and off with a cotton pad. I was trying to match the smooth portions on the side of the shank. The finished stain was a perfect match to the rest of the bowl. I buffed the rim with White Diamond as well and waxed it with Halcyon II wax to give the bowl a shine. I buffed it with a clean flannel buff. The finished pipe is pictured in the last series of photos.

New Life for an Old Barling


I have often written on the blog that good refurbishing begins with observation of the work at hand. I never fail to spend time looking at a pipe and noting areas of concern before I work on it. That is probably why it is pretty simple to record the work I have done on the pipe after the fact. In the old Barling bent, who’s refurbishment is recorded in the following post, I chose to post the notes from my observations. Enjoy!

At Smokers Forums a friend and I have exchanged ideas and thoughts through pm’s, emails and phone calls for several years now. Our talks have covered much ground but seem to also involve at least a fair amount of chatting about refurbishing estate pipes. A couple of weeks ago he contacted me with an idea of somehow collaborating on a refurb. He had an old timer he wanted me to look at and talk over with him. It came in the mail and I gave him a call with what I saw as I handled the pipe and took it apart. The list below gives some of my observations about the pipe as I checked it out carefully.

  1. The band is crooked and turned on the shank. It may take heating the band to it to loosen it.
  2. The silver hallmarks are an anchor, lion and a shield. The shield should have a letter in it to identify the year but it is worn away. The band is made in Birmingham, England, and it is Sterling Silver. As for the year, the best I can do is estimate; it lies within a 20 year period – 1876-1895. We would need to check the dates on Barlings made in the 1800s, to see when it fits into their history. That could narrow it down. It also may be an aftermarket band that was added to repair the shank.
  3. The only stamping is Barling in script. I cannot see an “s” on it and certainly no apostrophe. That should also help date it. The tail on the “g” hooks or curls under several other letters.
  4. The divot in the bottom edge of the shank, for lack of a better word, is not a worn spot in the shank – interestingly once I cleaned the shank I lined up a pipe cleaner in the centre of the divot and it is perfectly aligned with the drilling of the airway. With the pipe cleaner in place (think drill bit) the divot is gone and the walls are all equal. I am thinking this is the divot that is often found in Oom Paul or bent shapes to drill the airway straight to the bowl. I am going to give that a bit more thought before I step in with a repair to the shank. I may get away with building up the tenon instead.
  5. The bowl is in very good shape. I cleaned it out and the walls are all sound and the bottom of the bowl is also sound – no sign of damage to the briar; though the airway comes out a little high on the side of the bowl. I may need to smoke a cigar to make some pipe mud to raise the bowl bottom a bit!
  6. There is a little damage to the front outer edge of the rim but it has been rounded with time.  The inner rim was damaged by a reaming with a knife and is slightly out of round. I have already remedied that with sandpaper.
  7. The design of the tenon is very interesting. It is almost a reverse funnel (think inside of a funnel). The curvature at the tenon and step down is such that it provides a bit of a cooling chamber in the sump of the pipe almost like those new fangled calabash things that are hitting the market now.
  8. The vulcanite is very hard and does not seem to show any oxidation. I have seen that before on these old timers – they use a very good quality of rubber and maybe less sulfur in the mix to vulcanize it. Not sure but for some reason they hold the black colour without any browning.
  9. The stem has a few tooth marks – 2 on top and two on the bottom. Some minor tooth chatter as well.
  10. The silver band is also angled like it was put on crooked after it was misaligned. The hallmarks should be on the side but seem to be on the top.
  11. It appears that there is a crack in the shank that was repaired and then banded.

Chuck and I talked through this list a bit on the phone and then through pms on Smokers Forums and he left it to me to see what I could do with the old pipe. Here are some pictures of the pipe when it arrived. The finish was pretty much gone but there was some great looking grain underneath. The issues I pointed out above will be clearly visible by looking at the photos in the first series of three. All of the external issues are visible in these photos.

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Once the stem was removed from the pipe several other issues became apparent. The biggest one that we discussed was the way the mortise was worn and out of round. You can see the dip or divot in the bottom of the shank that makes the mortise almost oval. Inside the mortise you can also see the tar buildup where the step down end of the tenon sat. It has the reverse of the shape of the step down. Where it had a curved shoulder between the tenon and the step down, the mortise had the reverse. The tars were built up to the point that the tenon step down sat firmly in place. The rest of the tenon was loose in the mortise as years of use had worn away a part of the mortise. The question we were left with once the pipe was cleaned was how to address the wear in the mortise and tighten up the fit of the tenon. The options were two:

  1. Build up the inside diameter of the mortise – this could be done by inserting briar and redrilling it or by using a build-up of glue and briar dust.
  2. Build up the outer diameter of the tenon – there are several ways of doing this including the use of clear nail polish or superglue applied to the tenon and then sanded to fit correctly.

Each method had a few issues involved in using them.

–          To build up the mortise with an inserted piece of briar would be difficult in that the mortise was no longer round and once the mortise was redrilled the walls of the briar plug would be very thin. Also the stem itself was cut to fit the out of round shape of the shank and mortise so it would have to be reshaped.

–          To build it up with glue and briar dust would work but be a bit hard to control the amounts and if it was built up too much removing it and sanding it would be difficult to control.

–          To build up the tenon with nail polish is a temporary fix and would need to be repeated over time and use. To use the superglue is more permanent but are there any long term effects from the use of the glue on the inside of the pipe. Even if, as in this case the tenon is not in contact with the mouth. The glue would only be used on the upper portion of the tenon and not on the step down portion.

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Chuck and I discussed these options and issues and he left it to my judgment to choose one. I thought about it and laid aside the pipe for the night and came back to it in the morning. I examined the tenon and mortise once again to get another view of the problem before I worked on it. I inserted a pipe cleaner at the angle of a drill bit from the shank through the airway to the bottom of the bowl to see where the edge would land. The drilling of the shank matched the notch in the bottom of the mortise. It had been enlarged due to the age of the pipe and its use but it matched exactly. This influenced my decision where to go with the repair. Once that was decided it was time to work on the finish of the pipe and the internals. I dropped the bowl in the alcohol bath to let it soak and remove the grit, grime and old finish. I was hoping that the soak would also loosen the glue on the band so that I could turn it into the correct position on the shank. It soaked for about an hour and a half while I did other things. I removed it from the bath and laid it on my work table. The pictures below show it before I dried it off.

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I steamed the dents on the top and also sanded out the remnants of them on the surface. I wiped down the bowl with acetone to remove any remaining finish on the bowl. I picked the thick tars in the sump of the shank and tapped out the crud that came loose. It took a lot of detailed picking to get the surface free of the build up. I then cleaned out the sump of the shank with many cotton swabs until they were clean. The picture below shows the pipe after the cleaning and wiping down with acetone. The second picture shows the rim with the dents removed and the roundness of the bowl restored.

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After thinking through the options on the shank and the mortise situation I decided that the best way of dealing with this old war horse was not to build up the mortise and cause problems with the fit of the stem and shank but to work on the tenon on the stem. I had read elsewhere of the use of super glue to build up the tenon so I gave it a coating. The best way I have found it to work for me is to drip it on the tenon and turn it as it drips. The fluid thus gives the entire tenon an even coating. The first two pictures below show the tenon after the application of the layer. Once it was dry the tenon was obviously too big so I sanded it, while repeatedly checking for the fit. The third picture shows the tenon as it is now – a perfect snug fitting stem on the Barling this morning!

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To highlight the beautiful grain in the pipe I used a brush dipped in black stain to follow the grain patterns on the bowl. I applied it with an art brush to give it a good coverage. Before applying the stain to the bowl I warmed the briar to open the pores in the wood to receive the stain deeply. The pictures below show the bowl after staining with the brush. It looks odd and actually less than charming but the process works as will be seen in the next series of photos.

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After stain dried I sanded it with a fine grit sanding foam that allows me to follow the curves. I was careful around the faint stamping on the shank. Here is the pipe after it has been wiped cleaned with Isopropyl alcohol after sanding. The grain is highlighted well. The final picture below shows the grain on the front of the bowl.

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I set aside the bowl for awhile and dealt with the tooth marks on the stem. After steaming them to raise them I sanded with 240 grit sandpaper to remove the remaining signs of the tooth marks and the tooth chatter. I then sanded with fine grit foam sanding pads to work out some of the scratches in the surface.

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I did some more sanding with the micromesh sanding pads on the pipe bowl to get the black stain tamed a bit so that when I put the overstain on it would show through but not dominate. I wanted to get a stain on the pipe that fits the older Barling pipes that I have here so I thinned down some oxblood stain for the overstain. I applied it and flamed it. Then I took it to the buffer and with a light touch removed the excess and left a nice top coat of rich reddish brown stain with the black shining through to highlight the amazing grain on this old pipe. The three pictures below show the pipe with the stem on but the stem was not finished as it still showed some of the browning of oxidation.

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From there I removed the stem again and sanded it with 400 and 600 grit wet dry sand paper and water. I finished the stem with 1500-6000 grit micromesh pads dipped in water to give bite to the sanding disks as I polished it. The way I use the micromesh is to dip it in water and then sand, dip again and sand again through the various grits until I am finished and the stem has some depth to its blackness. I coated the stem with several coats of Obsidian Oil and then a coating of wax by hand.

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I put the stem back on the pipe and took it to the buffer. I buffed the whole thing with White Diamond and then cleaned the silver band with silver polish and polished the entire pipe with multiple coats of carnauba wax.

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Keyser Hygienic Patent Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

Over the past year I have been picking up these Keyser Hygienic pipes on EBay. This one makes the third one I have picked up at a reasonable price. They are made in England and sold exclusively in South Africa. The word is that they were designed to be virtually indestructible for farmer pipe smokers in SA. All versions of the pipe have the same stem – one size fits all. They seem to be made of nylon and rubber or some combination. They are tough and take tooth wear very well. Two of the three I picked up are older and both had the original stems on them. They had tooth chatter and minor dents. Steaming would not raise the dents at all. I had to deal with them with sandpaper and micromesh sanding pads.

The photo below came from the web and pictures a cutaway picture of the pipe and the unique condensing chamber that makes up the patented portion of the pipe. The shank has an aluminum condensing chamber with a tube in the centre that lines up with the tube inside the stem. It is pointing downward so air swirls around in the chamber formed by the military bit stem and the shank. Moisture is trapped and the smoke is cool and dry without loss of flavour.

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The pipe I am working on this time is a pot shaped sand blasted pipe. The aluminum was oxidized and dull the blast was dirty and the crevices filled with dirt and grime. The stem was in pretty clean shape other than the tooth chatter near the button. The rim of the bowl was tarred and caked. The cake was uneven and tapering in the bowl – almost as if the bowl was only half filled and smoked that way the majority of the time. The upper portion of the bowl had a very thin layer of cake and the lower portion a thick uneven cake. The condenser in both the stem and the shank were filled with a dark brown tar and the airway was constricted in the shank and clogged in the stem. The photo below shows the condition of the bowl and the stem and highlight where the work would be needed to clean up the exterior of this pipe.

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I reamed the bowl back to bare briar and scrubbed the blast surface with a brass tire brush to clean out the crevices. I also used a soft bristle tooth brush to finish cleaning the surface off. Once that was done I put the bowl in the alcohol bath to soak while I worked on the stem. The next two photos below show the stem after I used 240 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth marks and slight dents. I then used micromesh pads from 1500-6000 grit to polish the stem and work out the scratches. I have learned the hard way that you cannot buff these stems on the buffer as a little bit of surface heat from the buffing pads melts and distorts the surface. So these stems are totally buffed and polished by hand.

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The next two photos show the stem after it has been sanded up to the 3200 grit micromesh pad. The stem is beginning to get a shine and the scratches are disappearing with the sanding. From this point I went on the sand the stem through the remaining micromesh grits and when finished I gave it a coating of Obsidian Oil to penetrate the surface and give it a deep polish. Once that dried I buffed it by hand with some carnauba wax in paste form that I purchased from Walker Briar Works.ImageImage

From the next series of photos you can see that I interrupted my work on the stem to remove the bowl from the alcohol bath. I did that because I was curious to see how it was cleaning up. You will notice in these photos the brownish grey sludge in the grooves of the blast. I used the tooth brush once again to scrub the surface with Isopropyl from the alcohol bath. Once the grime was removed I washed the bowl down with clean Isopropyl and dried it off.

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The next series of photos show the dried bowl. The grime is gone and the finish is now down to the stain. Even some of the top coat of stain has been removed and you can see the briar. I laid the bowl aside and finished up the stem as I described it above.

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The aluminum condensing chamber on the shank and the chamber in the stem needed much work. I used cotton swabs that I flattened to clean the area inside the shank around the airway extension and the same in the stem. Once that was clean I polished the oxidized aluminum with the micromesh pads to burnish the aluminum and get the shine back.

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I then restained the bowl with a dark brown stain, knowing that when I buffed it the reddish brown undercoat would shine through on the high spots and the dark would fill the crevices and give the pipe a contrast stain. The next series of three photos show the staining and the way the various grains took the stain. The right side of the bowl has a great ring blast that is fairly deep and craggy. The left side is more of a blast on birdseye. It is an interesting looking blast. The bowl rim came out clean as well and shows an interesting contrast in the light of the flash.

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The final series of four photos show the finished pipe. The entirety has been given a coat of wax. I used Halcyon II on the blast to polish it without leaving the white residue in the grain of the blast when it dried. I buffed it by hand. The stem received another hand applied coat of carnauba wax and a buff by hand. The pipe pictured is clean and ready to smoke.

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I have included pictures below of the other two Keyser pipes that I picked up and refurbished. The top one is an apple with really nice grain. I have been smoking this one and enjoying the dry and cool smoke that it gives. The second is a smaller prince shape that is no longer available. It had some burns on the rim that are still visible but it too smokes very well. One day will rework the rim a bit and minimize the burn marks. Till then I will smoke these Keyser’s and keep an eye for more of them.

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Refinished Rims and Touch-Ups


Blog by Alan Chestnutt

Alan, aka Castana on SF, posted this recently and I found it extremely helpful so I asked and received his permission to post it here as well. I am ordering some of these as I speak. Nicely done Alan. I look forward to gving them a try. They are available on Ebay and also on Amazon.

When restoring pipes, I nearly always like to refinish the rim. I think a nice clean sharp rim always sets a pipe off. As well as this it is just as easy to sand and refinish a rim as to try to remove tar and staining to the old rim. One of the problems though in refinishing a rim is trying to match the stain to the rest of the bowl. I always shied away from getting leather dyes, simply because you would need to be artist to be able to correctly mix all the differing shades.

I always remember my grandfather staining shoes and the smell of the dye always lingered in my brain. In more recent times that memory was triggered when smelling a sharpie marker, so my thoughts were that it must contain a similar alcohol based dye. I used a sharpie a few years ago to restain a black sandblast bowl and it worked a treat. “If only they were available in shades of brown” I thought to myself.

So while walking through a local discount store a few months ago, I spied furniture repair markers. Exactly what I had been thinking of.

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They come in 5 shades of brown plus black and cost £2 (about 3 bucks). I couldn’t wait to get home and try them. They are a chisel shape marker and apply a translucent stain exactly like an alcohol dye. Perfect! With the variety of shades a match can be made 99% of the time by application of a couple of coats or moving to the next darker shade. Simply cover the rim by wiping the marker over it and a few seconds later remove the excess with a soft cloth.

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A refinished Tilshead rim.

They are excellent for touch ups on other areas of the pipe and I often use them to just refinish the whole pipe to brighten up the grain. Needless to say I acquired a few more packs, but I have refinished literally hundreds of pipes and I am still on my first pack. Simple to use, no mess, a variety of shades and cheap. I class them as my best purchase ever for restoring pipes, so keep your eyes open for them. Available on eBay too, but at a premium.

Alan

A Tiny Pair – Refurbishing and repairing an old couple


Blog by Steve Laug

This morning I decided to work on these two old timers – a little mini bulldog and a mini bent billiard. Both are old as is clear from the orific button on the stems and the shape of button on both (the round hole in a crowned surface of the button – see the photo below).

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The first is a no name bulldog with a gold band on it. It has EP on the band which I believe means Electro Plated. The stem was in pretty fair shape though the previous owner had cut a small groove in the stem about a 1/8 inch ahead of the button on the top and the bottom. The bowl was in pretty good shape though it was darkened near the band and there was a deep cut on the shank about mid way along toward the bowl and on the bowl side – both on the right side and visible below. The photo with a penny (1 cent piece) gives a good picture of the size of this little dog. The bowl was pretty clean so all I needed to do was wipe it out with a cotton swab and isopropyl alcohol. I did the same with the shank and the stem as well. It was pretty black and tarry on the inside of the stem and shank. I had to use a paper clip to break through the clog that was in the shank about mid way to the bowl and also in the stem.

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I worked on the bowl and shank exterior with sand paper to remove the finish around the two cuts in that I was going to work on. I washed off the surface after sanding with acetone to clean off the briar dust and the remaining finish. Once it dried I decided to fill the cuts with clear super glue. The process is pretty straight forward – I drip a drop in both holes and lay it aside until it dries. Then I add another drop, lay it aside and repeat until the cut is filled. I find that the clear super glue is a great way to fill the cuts or pits as it allows the briar to show through clearly and once it is stained it virtually disappears. Once the super glue dried I sanded the spots with 240 grit sandpaper and then with 400 and 600 grit wet dry and water to smooth off the spots and remove any of the over flow around the spots. I want the super glue to fill only the spot and not carry over onto the clean briar so I sand it down level with the surface it is filling. I then sanded the entire bowl with micromesh pads from 1500-6000 grit and then wiped the bowl down with isopropyl alcohol on a soft cloth.

I then worked on the stem and sanded down the grooves to make the stem smooth once again. I used the same pattern of sanding – 240, 400, 600 grit sandpaper and micromesh – 1500, 1800, 2400, 3200, 4000 and 6000 grit. Once I had the grooves and the stem clean and pretty polished I took it to the buffer and used White Diamond on both the stem and bowl. I took it back to the work table and gave it a coat of Obsidian Oil and set the stem aside while I stained the bowl. I wanted to keep a lighter look to the bowl so I used some oxblood stain and wiped it on and off before it had time to dry. I gave it two coats and then flamed it. I buffed the bowl with White Diamond and then gave it a coat of carnauba wax. I also polished the band and gave it a coat of wax. Here is the finished pipe. The two cuts or pits have disappeared on the right side of the bowl (top picture).

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I finished it and put it aside to work on the bent billiard. It was in a bit rougher shape than the bulldog. It is also a no name old timer with a gold band – very tarnished. The bowl was very grimy on the outside and the finish was cloudy and dark. The stem was grooved in the same manner as the bulldog – probably same owner making his own comfort bit to enable him to clench these little guys.

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I scrubbed the bowl down with acetone on a cotton boll and removed the finish and the grime. The top was a bit dented so I gave it a very light topping and then sanded out the inside of the bowl and worked on the roundness of the inner rim as it was a bit out of round.  I used a small piece of sandpaper to bevel the edge enough to repair the roundness. I cleaned out the shank and the stem. This pipe was also clogged in both the stem and the shank so I use a paper clip in the shank and to open the end of the stem from each end. I then used small pipe cleaners soaked with alcohol until they came out clean. I set the bowl aside to work on the stem.

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The stem needed the same treatment as the one on the bulldog to remove the grooves from the previous owner. Fortunately on both pipes they were not very deep so it did not change the profile of the stem. I sanded the entirety of the stem down and used the same pattern of sandpaper and micromesh as above. I buffed this one with Tripoli before finishing with the micromesh. I gave it a coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to stain the bowl.

I cleaned the bowl exterior one last time and then stained it with oxblood stain – wipe on and wiped off pretty quickly several times to get good coverage. I polished the gold band with the highest grit micromesh pad (6000) and then gave the bowl and band a coat of wax by hand and once it dried buffed it by hand with a soft cloth. I put the stem back on and took it to the buffer and buffed the entirety with White Diamond followed by carnauba wax.

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Here is a picture of the pair together so their diminutive size is clearly seen. They are incredibly light with group one sized bowls. They are clean and ready to smoke.

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A Trio of BBB’s in need of topping!


Blog by Steve Laug

Tonight I went to work on a trio of BBB’s I just purchased. Two of them, those stamped BBB Tortoise (with the ivory stem) looked to have come from the same pipe smoker wielding the same torch lighter. He had in essence cut a trough across the top of the rim from front right to back middle. In the three photos below you can see the damages to the rims. The top photo shows the oval shank Canadian and the second shows the round shank Liverpool. The third one is a BBB Silver Grain and it looked to have been used as a hammer. The outer edges of the rim were rough and beaten and the rim itself was marred with dents. Besides the damage to the rim the Tortoise Liverpool had a cracked shank that I needed to repair. That repair will be the subject of another blog post.  

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I have a board on my desk that I attach a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to and use that to top the bowls. In the picture below it is to the right of the two Tortoise pipes. I hold the bowl flat against the sandpaper and rotate it to remove the damaged portions of the briar. It is important to keep the bowl perfectly flat against the board and paper so that the top remains flat. It is very easy to sand an angle to the bowl if you are not careful with this process. In the picture the two bowls have been sanded to remove the finish and the top layers of the darkening. Both bowls have a slight trench burned into the surface that moves from the front right to the rear centre. The topping will need to be deep enough to remove the damage yet not too deep to change the profile of the two pipes.

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In the next series of two pictures you can begin to see that the rims are returning to a normal and the troughs are disappearing under the sanding. The top photo is of the Canadian and it is pretty close to being finished in this photo. The second photo shows that the trough in the Liverpool is also disappearing though it will take a bit more sanding.

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The Silver Grain Liverpool also was topped using the same process to remove the damage to the outer rim and the top of the rim. The nicks and dents on the tops and the damage to the edges made it necessary to top this bowl as well. It was a much simpler process as the rim did not have a deep trough across it but rather rough edges on the outer edge of the rim. The picture below shows the final result of the topping on that pipe. Once it was topped with the 220 grit sandpaper I moved to a fine grit sanding block – 400 grit and then on to the micromesh pads to polish the sanding marks out of the rim. I finished the sanding by buffing it with Tripoli and White Diamond to remove any remnant of the sanding marks.

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I then used a small one inch square piece of sandpaper folded in half and held at an angle to sand a slight bevel into the inner rim of the two Tortoise pipes. This took care of the inner damage that remained after topping the bowl. I then sanded the two pipes in the same manner as described for the Silver Grain above. Finishing with 6000 grit micromesh and then buffing with Tripoli and White diamond. I stained the trio with a medium brown aniline stain applied to the surface with a dauber. It took two coats to cover the fresh briar of the repairs. The stain was wiped off and the pipes were taken to the buffer when dry.

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The three pictures below of the three pipes show the buffed rims before waxing. The stain matched exceptionally well. The inner bevel took care of the inner rim damage and the topping took care of the trough that went across the bowl. In both of the Tortoise pipes below the damage is virtually removed and the rim surface and edges look new. The rim on the Silver Grain also came out very well and is smooth and looks as good as new. The outer rim damage and the nicks on the top of the rim are gone and a smooth shiny surface is what remains.

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The final three pictures show the rims after they have been given several coats of carnauba wax and buffed to a sheen. The pipes are ready to smoke and look renewed and reborn. You can see from the process that is spelled out above that it is not difficult to do and the results are worth the effort. Take your time and proceed with caution, checking to make sure that enough of the damage surface has been removed but not too much. Once that is done it is a simple matter of sanding, staining and polishing.

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