Tag Archives: restaining

Restemming & Restoring a “Malaga” Canadian from Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes


Blog by Steve Laug

I have been working on a lot of different estate pipes and selling them for different families. This morning I was looking through the bag of pipes that I have left from George Koch’s estate. There are only three of them and all were in pretty rough shape. The rims were well knocked about and the stems were either chewed off or through and really would need to be carefully worked over and have new stems fit to them. The first of these three Malaga pipes that need a lot of attention was the one I picked up this morning. It is a Canadian with a broken or chewed off stem. The rim top was used as a hammer or at least spent a lot of time being knocked against hard surface. But sides of the bowl had a mix of grain styles that was fascinating. It is one of the last three Malaga pipes that came to my brother and me in several shipments of pipes from George’s daughter Kathy. Alex had gone through the bag in essence had passed on these three. Jeff unwrapped the pipes when they came to him and took the following photo to give an idea of the volume of the pipes that we purchased. This Malaga is actually shown in the photo of the box of pipes below. I have drawn a red box around it so you can see it clearly.In each of the previous blogs that I have written on the restoration of George’s pipes I have told his story. If you have followed the restorations you will have read the information and the background piece that Kathy did on her father. Here is a link to one of the previous blogs on his Malaga pipes where I included her tribute in full (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/01/26/back-to-kathys-dads-pipes-restoring-a-%c2%bc-bent-malaga-author/). You can also read the bio on her Dad, George Koch. It is an interesting read and one that shows just how far our pipe collecting passion can go when we find a brand of pipes that we enjoy. I am going to only include the portion on the Malagas at this point. If you wish to read the rest follow the link above.

Kathy writes…We lived in Livonia, and that’s where his love for Malaga pipes began. After a few years he returned to Allis Chalmers and we moved back to Springfield. I remember that when we went back to Michigan to visit friends, Dad had to go to the Malaga store and acquire a few new pipes. Many a year I wrote to Malaga and they picked out a pipe for me to purchase that I could give Dad for a Christmas or birthday present. He was always pleased. His favorites were the straight stemmed medium sized bowl pipes, but he liked them all. 

He had some other pipes, but the Malagas were his favorites. I remember him smoking them sitting in his easy chair after work, with feet up on the ledge by the fire burning in the fireplace.  Growing up it was my job to clean them and he liked the inner bowl and stem coated with Watkins vanilla, leaving a little of that liquid in the bowl to soak in when I put them back on the rack…I’m very happy they are being restored by you and your brother and hope they find homes who enjoy them as much as Dad did. Thank-you for your care and interest. — Kathy, the oldest daughter

The “Malaga” Canadian on the table is in rough condition. But even under the damage and dirt I can see that the carver did a great job of shaping the pipe to follow the grain on the briar. The large bowl, oval shank and short broken stem give a clear picture of what the pipe must have looked like when George bought it at the shop. I did not bother Jeff for the pre-cleanup photos because really it was obvious what the pipe must have looked like. From the condition of the bowl and rim post cleanup I could see that it originally had a thick cake that overflowed with lava onto the rim so that there was damage on the inner edges. The rim top had been knocked hard against rough surfaces to knock out the dottle and left damage. The sides of the bowl and shank are very dirty with grime and oils from prolonged use. The stamping on the left side of the shank read “MALAGA”. On the right side it read Imported Briar. There was a burn mark on the underside of the shank near the stem/shank junction that looked like the pipe had been set down in an ashtray. The acrylic stem had been broken or gnawed off leaving a useless stem that would need to be replaced. Since Paresh is not here in Canada it will be replaced rather than rebuilt! 😉 I took photos of the pipe before I started my work. Somehow the rest of the before photos of the pipe as a whole were out of focus. The condition of the pipe will be shown in the remaining photos however.I took a photo of the  rim top and bowl to show the condition of the pipe. You can see why I said it was used as a hammer. The surface of the rim is very rough. The outer and inner edges fo the rim are  also in very bad condition. There is some darkening on the back edge and surface of the rim top. I think that this pipe must have been kind of shop pipe or knock about pipe for George as it was very well smoked! I took photos of the stem to show the broken and chewed condition it was in. Remember this is hard acrylic so it took some real gnawing to do this to it!I took a photo of the burn mark on the underside of the shank. It was not a deep mark and the wood was still solid so it was not badly damaged.I took a photo to capture the stamping on each side of the shank. The photos show the stamping “MALAGA” on the left side of the shank and Imported Briar on the right side. The stamping is faint but still readable. I am also including the link to a blog that I wrote that gives some of the history of the Malaga brand and the Malaga Pipe Shop in Royal Oak, Michigan in the USA. I have written an earlier blog to give a little history of the Malaga Brand and the pipemaker, George Khoubesser. Here is the link – https://rebornpipes.com/tag/malaga-pipes/.That blog also includes links to a catalogue and the history of the pipemaker George Khoubesser. Follow the link to get a feel for the brand and the pipemaker.

Jeff had gone to the trouble to ream the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. All of his work gave me a clean pipe to work on to say the least. I decided to start with the new stem. I went through my collection of stems to find one that was the same dimensions as the broken stem. I found one in my can that would fit the bill. I set up my cordless drill with the PIMO Tenon Turning Tool in the chuck and started turning the tenon on the new stem back to match the broken one. I usually do the turning in several passes, adjusting the depth of the blade between each cut. In this case I did it in three passes. I got it close and finished the fit with my Dremel and sanding drum.I sanded off the castings on the sides and slot end of the stem with the Dremel and sanding drum and did a few turns on the tenon with the sanding drum. You can see from the first photo below that it was very close. I took it back to the Dremel and did a few more passes on the tenon and cleaned it up with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. You can see the fit in the second photo. There was some gap where it did not sit flush against the shank. The issue was not the fit of the tenon but rather the shank end. I could see that it was uneven and rough so I would need to make a few decisions on how to address that issue.I decided that the best way to address the fit and give the pipe a little pizzazz would be to use a nickel band. They come from the maker quite thick – ½ of an inch and I wanted something about ¼ of an inch thick. I used the topping board and the Dremel to thin down the height of the band. It took a bit of time but I like the way it looks once it is finished. Once I had the band done I set it aside and cleaned the briar. The third photo shows the finished band glued in place on the shank using Weldbond all-purpose glue. The ¼ of an inch thick band works for me!I topped the bowl on a new piece of 220 grit sandpaper on the topping board. Once I had the top smooth I filled in the deeper nicks and chips in the outer edge of the rim with clear Krazy Glue. Once the repairs cured I sanded them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and retopped the bowl to remove the excess glue. I used a folded piece of sandpaper to sand out some of the burn damage on the underside of the shank. I scrubbed the briar with Before & After Briar Cleaner and a tooth brush. I rubbed it into the surface of the briar with my finger tips and let it sit for about 10 minutes then rinsed it off with running water. I dried it off with a soft cloth. I polished the bowl with micromesh sanding pads to smooth out the rim top repairs and the nicks in the bowl sides. I wet sanded with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. The photos show the progress. I used an Oak Stain Pen to blend in a few of the spots on the rim top and edges that were lighter than the bowl. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad. You can see from the photo below that I was able to blend it into the rest of the bowl.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I am very happy with the results. I turned to the stem and started by sanding the surface. I wanted to smooth out the surface of the vulcanite to remove the castings and the sanding marks. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper and 400 grit sandpaper to clean up the stem.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad Obsidian Oil. I finished by polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish both Fine and Extra Fine and then wiped it down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil. This is a restemmed and restored “Malaga” Canadian with a vulcanite tapered stem. The nickel band adds a touch of class that truly makes the pipe stand out from the other Malaga pipes that I have worked on. It has a great look and feel. The shape of the bowl, the reshaped and repaired rim top and the cut of the briar work well to highlight the grain around the bowl sides. I polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The grain took on life with the buffing. The rich oil cured colour works well with the polished vulcanite stem. The finished pipe has a rich look that is quite catching. Have a look at it with the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I will be adding the pipe to the finished Malaga pipes that I have completed. I am looking forward to a new pipeman picking up this pipe and will carry on the trust for George Koch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another one of Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes.

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A Nightmare Resurrecting from ‘Pipe Dreamers ONLY!’ – Comoy’s The Lumberman Special Canadian


Blog by Dal Stanton

There is no other way to describe this Canadian – a Nightmare.  I created the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” ONLY!’ section on ThePipeSteward site to encourage people to see the hidden potential of a sad, neglected pipe BEFORE the restoration process.  So much of life and relationships we have are shaped by our ability to see what people can become and treat them in this manner.  Jim saw The Lumberman and commissioned him along with a very attractive Butz Choquin Supermate Panel.  In corresponding with Jim, I learned that he’s from Pennsylvania and an engineer by trade working at Pennsylvania State University as a research staff assistant writing software for all kinds of research efforts.  What interested me also was that he, like me, enjoys working with his hands – models, woodworking and Jim has his own shop where he works.  He also builds dioramas – models representing a scene with three-dimensional figures, usually in miniature or as a large-scale museum exhibit (had to look this up!).  In his initial email, Jim assessed The Lumberman that he said he wanted me to restore:

I realize that restoring the Canadian is going to be quite a tall order — it’s former owner seeming to have smoked it hard and hung it up wet — but I can’t help but look at the hints of cross-grain on the shank and think that there is still a solid pipe left underneath all of that dirty exterior.

My response to Jim was a bit more realistic and, let me be honest, skeptical(!):

Oh my.  The Lumberman is in bad shape.  I showed my wife the pipe and that someone had requested to restore it and her response was, ‘Why?’  Your description is an understatement.  He needs a lot of TLC.  The shank chip will probably need to be planed off to reseat the stem/tenon – losing about 1/16 inch of the shank length – doable.  The rim is an ICU inhabitant.  There’s no pretty way to deal with this.  I would clean the chamber to make sure all the briar is exposed.  I would then build up the rim as much as possible with briar dust putty and then sand/top it down until it looked acceptable.  Honestly, Jim, I can’t say how much top I’ll need to remove from the bowl – as little as possible, but he’s not in good shape.  I understand what you see in the grain underneath the years of dirt and grime.  Without a doubt, you are awarded the Pipe Dreamer of the Year award!  It’s difficult for me to put an estimate on it at this point because it will definitely qualify as a resurrection and not a restoration.  I’m game if you are game.  I love the challenge and with this guy, I’m not sure how I’ll value him, but the same applies.  If you’re not satisfied, you’re not obligated to purchase.  As I said before, the sale of these pipes benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria and I appreciate your desire to support that.

The ’Nightmare’ Canadian that Jim commissioned will be a challenge!  Here are pictures of The Lumberman before he reached my worktable as I took pictures to post in the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” ONLY!’ online collection: The nomenclature found on the left flank of the long Canadian shank is THE [over an arched] LUMBERMAN.  Not until later, after starting the research, did I discover that on the shank’s right side is stamped, SPECIAL.I acquired The Lumberman in what I have called, ‘The Lot of 66’ which has produced many pipes for new stewards benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria.  Honestly, in every ‘lot’ purchase, there are always pipes that are considered ‘throw aways’ and this pipe was included in that category!  Doing a quick search in Pipephil.eu, I find The Lumberman Special listed as a Comoy’s second.  Here is the panel:The ‘The Lumberman’ lettering is identical to the Canadian on my worktable.  What is distinctly different is that the SPECIAL stamping is not joined as in the example above.  The pipe on my table has the stamping separated on the right shank side.  Another difference is the COM – the example is stamped ‘Made in London England’.  I find no COM on our pipe, nor do I find the same three bar stem logo shown, which is also on other Comoy’s second brands.  A quick look at Pipedia’s Comoy’s article confirms that The Lumberman Special is a Comoy’s second.  Also included is a picture (Second examples, details, and nomenclature, courtesy Doug Valitchka) of a pristine example – a very attractive pipe.  This example of The Lumberman also seems to be without the three bar stem logo.Looking at the example of this pipe in pristine condition above and then gazing at the ‘Nightmare’ version on my table now, lets me know that this will be a grand challenge!  Yet, there’s absolutely nothing to lose.  This pipe was done.  He was no longer the object of anyone’s love or attention.  Now, with the challenge to see what it can become with some TLC (OK, LOTS of TLC) makes me thankful for the challenge Jim has made possible.  My approach generally will be to clean, patch and sand.  The chamber and the rim are the most daunting challenges.  I’ll be surprised if I don’t find heating issues in the chamber after clearing away the thick cake.  The rim is a total mess – charring has deteriorated most of the rim.  The chamber wall has eroded, and the rim plane is wobbled and uneven.  The outer edge of the rim is chipped and gouged.  The bowl is full of scratches and a few fills here and there with pitting as well.  A huge chip has taken almost a quarter of the shank facing.  The good news is that the Canadian short stem has heavy oxidation and nominal tooth and clamping compressions on the upper and lower bit.  I add a few more pictures now from my worktable complimenting the pictures above. To begin the restoration (or, resurrection?) of this Comoy’s The Lumberman Special, after cleaning the airway with a pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95%, the stem joins other stems in the queue for a soak in Mark Hoover’s product (ibepen.com) Before & After Deoxidizer to address the thick, scaly oxidation. I just communicated with Mark to order more Deoxidizer and Restoration Balm which I’ll pick up on a trip to the US I will be leaving for soon.  I leave the stem in the soak for a few hours.  I include pictures from above to mark the starting point. After soaking for a few hours, I fish the stem out and run a pipe cleaner through the airway to remove the liquid.  I then wipe the oxidation off the stem using a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  The B&A Deoxidizer has done a good job removing oxidation. Paraffin oil is then applied to the stem to revitalize and hydrate the vulcanite.  I put the stem on the side to absorb the oil.The starting point for working on the hurting stummel is simple cleaning to unmask as much as possible the plethora of issues underneath the cake in the chamber and the grime on the stummel surface.  To clear the chamber of cake, the Pipnet Reaming kit is used.  I take a picture of the chamber to mark the starting point. Not a happy view!After putting paper towel down to save on clean up, using the smallest of the Pipnet blade heads I go to work.  I use 2 of the 4 blade heads available to me and then transition to using the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to scrape the chamber walls further.  Finally, I finish by sanding the chamber with 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen and then wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clear the carbon dust. The inspection of the now cleaned chamber shows the chamber wall proper to be in great condition!  This indeed was good news.  The briar is healthy and now it has a fresh start.Next, using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap the rim and external briar surface is cleaned using a cotton pad. A brass wire brush also proves useful in cleaning the charred rim.  After cleaning the surface, the stummel is transferred to the kitchen sink where it is rinsed in warm water and using wired shank brushes and anti-oil dish soap, I clean the internal mortise and airway. After rinsing thoroughly, I bring the stummel back to the worktable and clean the internals further using pipe cleaners and cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 95%.  I use a dental spoon to scrape the sides of the mortise as well as using shank brushes to work on the long Canadian shank. After a good bit of effort, progress has been made and since the hour is late, I will continue the cleaning using kosher salt and isopropyl 95% to soak through the night.  This methodology not only continues the internal cleaning but freshens the pipe for a new steward.  First, a cotton ball is pulled and twisted to form a wick that is used to push down the mortise and airway to serve as a ‘wick’ to draw out the residual tars and oils.  Using a stiff wire, the cotton wick is guided down the airway and after the stummel is placed in an egg carton to provide stability.  I then fill the bowl with kosher salt, which leaves no aftertaste unlike iodized salt.  Using a large eyedropper, I fill the bowl with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt.  With the longer Canadian shank, it takes longer for the alcohol to seep into the longer airway.  After topping it off with alcohol one last time, I turn out the lights and call it a day. The next morning, the salt is mildly soiled showing that it did its job through the night.  When I tug on the cotton wick, unfortunately, it doesn’t come out whole.  I must employ the use of a dental probe and tweezers to pull the remainder out.  Finally, I was able to push the rest through to the bowl with the help of the pointed needle file. To be sure the internals are finally cleaned, I deploy a few more pipe cleaners and cotton buds wetted with isopropyl 95% to clean up any residue.  After a short time, it is apparent that things look good and I move on.With the internal cleaning completed, my attention shifts now to the primary issue – the rim re-build.  From the picture below looking down on the rim, the remnants of the rim top are at 4 to 5 o’clock and at 9 to 1 o’clock.  These surfaces give me an idea of where the rim was and provide a target for a re-built rim – at least in an ideal world.  The inner rim edge is out of round from charring and…, who knows.  One thing for sure, this Canadian was loved and used, but rode into the ground! Looking now from the side, from both directions, the uneven plane is evident.  The challenge is how to save as much briar as possible off the top of the bowl to have a flat plane?  To top it until this happens will turn the Canadian into a long shank Pot! My path forward, after considering the options, is to start with a very minimal topping to even out the remaining rim plane to see more clearly the areas that will be targeted for patching.  The default option is to lose briar through topping, but I will seek to build the rim up with the patch material – briar dust putty, and top, shape and sand the rebuilt rim until it has a semblance of normality!  At least, this is the hope.  I take out the chopping board which becomes my topping board after placing a sheet of 240 grade paper on it.  The goal is to lightly top to establish the boundaries.Instead of rotating the first round, I drag the stummel across the board.  I do this because I want to stay on top of the remnant rim surface and not dip down into the damaged areas which will be softer.  Keeping the pressure on the high wood was easier this way.  The result shows the emerging boundaries.Next, this time, after rotating the stummel a few more times on the board, I come to the place of diminishing returns for topping.  I’ll apply briar dust putty to the damaged areas – on the rim and along the internal and external edges to fill in the gaps.  It will require a lot of patching, but the patch areas will provide the excess for sanding and shaping.The next area to prep for briar dust patch material is the large chip of the shank facing.  I insert a drill bit into the mortise which forms the boundary for the patch.  I’ll apply a bit of petroleum jelly to the bit to assure the briar putty patch will not stick to the bit.  Earlier, when communicating with Jim, my thinking was that I would simply plane the facing to remove the damage.  With this always being an option, my thinking now is to start with a patch, sand and shape – go from this point with the value on keeping as much briar as possible.The final prep area is a few small pits on the stummel surface that have old fill material in them.  I dig the old material out with a dental probe which will be refilled with briar putty.I clean all the patch areas with a cotton pad and alcohol in preparation for applying the briar putty.Using BSI Maxi Cure Extra Thick CA glue, I mix it with briar dust to form the putty.  I use a plastic disc as a mixing palette and place Scotch Tape on that simply to aid in cleaning.  I’m not sure if I can apply patch to the 3 areas in one batch, but I’ll start with the rim – the largest project.  I place a pile of briar dust on the palette and then a larger dollop of Extra Thick CA glue next to it.Using a toothpick, I gradually mix the briar dust into the glue until it thickens.  When it reaches the viscosity of molasses, I use the toothpick to apply the putty to the rim allowing for excess to be sanded and shaped later. What the following pictures show is that I was only able to address the rim patching with the first batch of briar dust putty.  As I applied the briar dust putty to the rim, I went in stages using an accelerator to quicken the curing and to hold the putty in place. I mix another batch of briar dust putty on the palette and again apply the putty to the shank facing and the pits.  As before, the use of an accelerator quickens the curing and holds the patch material in place. With a little nudge and twist the bit comes out easily with the help of some petroleum jelly.  The mortise circumference looks good though the patch needs to be sanded and shaped.The obvious next step is a lot of filing and sanding.  I start with filing.  I use both a flat and half circle pointed needle files to work on the excess putty.  I start with the rim by first filing down on the rim top to flatten the plane.  The pictures chronicle the progress. With the top rough filing completed, I move to the outer edge of the rim.The repairs are starting to show some promise!  Now to the inner rim edge.  This is critical in seeking to establish an even circumference.  I start with the slow approach of filing to get it right.  I finish up by loading a sanding drum onto the Dremel and fine-tune the edge and to smooth the transitions in the chamber from the patch material to the chamber wall.  I don’t want to leave ridges. Wow!  I showed this finished rough of the rim to my wife and she said with lessening skepticism that this pipe might just come back to life!Next, I quickly dispatch the two small fills under one glob of putty patch with the flat needle file.Finally, the filing is almost finished.  The flat needle file also goes to work on the shank facing and on the outer edge.  I’m very careful with filing the shank facing because too much removed can offset the proper seating of the tenon and create gaps between shank and stem. I also use the half-rounded needle file to create the sharp bevel on the edge of the mortise which accommodates the tenon’s base. After filing, I join the stem with the stummel to see how well the stem seats.  With some gaps, I do a bit more filing and finally I have the fit as good as I can get it.  It looks good!Now, back to the rim.  To even the rim, I take the stummel back to the topping board with 240 grade paper and give the stummel a few more rotations.  This helps blend the filing.The speckling of the putty patches is expected.  I’ll address this later when applying stain to the stummel which should take care of the contrast.  I want to smooth the inner and outer edges of the rim by applying a bevel. For the internal bevel, a hard bevel is the aim so a hard surface is used behind the 240 grade paper to provide a uniform edge.The internal bevel looks great.In addition to the internal bevel, I do a light sanding of the external rim edge simply to soften the edge and to remove any nicks and cuts.Next, I take the stummel back to the topping board covered now with 600 grade paper and rotate the stummel several times.Using both 240 and 600 grade papers, I sand both patches – the two fills and the shank facing.Now, to address the cuts, nicks and small pits of the very worn stummel surface, I’m hopeful that sanding sponges will be adequate to clean and smooth the briar surface so that I won’t need to employ more coarse sanding papers. I take the first 2 pictures to mark the start for comparison. I use first the coarse grade sponge followed by medium and light grades.  I’m careful throughout to guard the nomenclature on both sides of the shank.  Wow!  The grain underneath the old dark finish starts to make an appearance! On a roll, I continue the stummel sanding with the full regimen of 9 micromesh pads.  To begin, using pads 1500 to 2400, wet sanding is employed.  Following this, I dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  I’m amazed at the emergence of very nice grain – a horizontal grain on the fore of the bowl with large swirls of bird’s eye grain occupying the flanks.  Nice! There is no question regarding the next step.  Applying Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye to the stummel should do a good job of masking the rather large patches on the rim and shank facing.  Another benefit of using dye is to utilize the technique I’ve developed with the use of the Dremel using felt cloth buffing wheels to bring out the grain in striking ways.  I assemble the desktop staining station.After wiping the stummel down with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean the surface, I heat the stummel with the use of a hot air gun.  This step is important as it expands the briar grain as the bowl heats, and this helps the wood to be more receptive to the dye.After the stummel is warmed, I use a folded over pipe cleaner to apply the dye which I’ve poured into a shot glass.  As I paint sections of the stummel with the dye-saturated pipe cleaner, I immediately ‘flame’ the dye with the lit candle.  This immediately combusts the alcohol in the aniline dye leaving behind the hue.  I work over the entire stummel thoroughly by applying dye and firing until the surface is fully covered.  I then put the stummel aside to ‘rest’ for several hours – till tomorrow in this case.  This ‘resting’ helps the dye to set more securely in the briar with less chance of the dye coming off on the hands of the new steward who fires the pipe up for the inauguration.With the newly stained bowl ‘resting’ I turn to the stem.  I take a closer look at the upper and lower bit.  There are bite compressions on both sides that need to be addressed.I first use the heating method.  Using a Bic lighter, I paint the upper and lower bit with flame to heat the vulcanite.  As the vulcanite heats it expands and hopefully the compressions will expand to the original condition – or closer to it.  The flame method did help but the compressions are still visible but lessened.Next, I utilize a flat needle file to freshen the button and with 240 paper sand out the compressions.Following the 240 sanding, with the help of a plastic disk to prevent shouldering, I wet sand the entire stem with 600 grade paper and follow with 000 grade steel wool.Next, the full set of nine micromesh pads are used.  With pads 1500 to 2400, wet sanding is applied.  Then dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads, Obsidian Oil is applied to rejuvenate the vulcanite.  I like the pop of newly micromeshed stems! The morning has come, and the dye has set in the grain of the Comoy’s The Lumberman.  Time to ‘unwrap’ the crusted shell that now encases the pipe.  To do this, a felt cloth buffing wheel is mounted on the Dremel with the speed reduced to the lowest.  The decreases the heating factor of the rougher felt material. To unwrap I use Tripoli compound applying it with the felt wheel methodically over the stummel surface. The felt buffing wheel needs purging often to remove the ‘crust’ buildup.  I take a picture to show the unwrapping process which reveals a beautiful grain underneath! – and yes, during the staining and unwrapping process I wear surgical gloves! After completing the stummel proper with the felt wheel, I briefly change to a cotton cloth wheel to reach into the crook of the bowl and shank junction with Tripoli which the felt wheel was not able to reach.After the unwrapping process is completed, a very light wipe with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol helps to blend the newly stained surface.  With the aniline dye, if I wanted to lighten the finish, I could have applied more wiping.  This I do not do because I’m liking the dark brown finish very much and how well it is masking the repairs!With the Tripoli completed, another cotton cloth buffing wheel is mounted onto the Dremel, the speed is increased to about 40% full power, and after reuniting the Canadian stem and stummel, Blue Diamond compound is applied to the entire pipe.To clean the surface of leftover compound dust, which tends to cake up, I give the pipe a buffing with a felt cloth preparing the surface for the application of wax.After replacing the cotton buffing wheel used for applying Blue Diamond, another is mounted dedicated to the application of carnauba wax.  With the speed remaining the same at about 40% full power, carnauba wax is applied to both stem and stummel.  After completed, using a microfiber cloth, the shine is raised through a rigorous buffing.One more step and this Comoy’s The Lumberman Special will be completed.  To provide a ‘cake-starter’ for the new chamber and to provide a buffer for the patch repair work, which is on the upper rim level, a layer of a mixture of natural, non-flavored Bulgarian yogurt and charcoal dust does the job.  This mixture hardens like a rock providing a surface to start a new protective layer of carbon cake.  The thickness of this cake should be no more than the thickness of a US dime to provide optimal performance.  After placing a dollop of yogurt in a small Chinese rice cup, some charcoal dust is added until it thickens somewhat – not running off the pipe nail.  After pushing a pipe cleaner through the draft hole to protect it from being blocked, using the pipe nail as a trowel, I very carefully apply the mixture evenly over the chamber walls – avoiding drippage on the freshly waxed external surface!  It looks good! I am amazed.  I initially described this sorry pipe as a Nightmare without any expectations that it could again be described as hedging on pristine.  Yet, that is exactly what I am seeing – a very attractive Comoy’s The Lumberman Special Canadian.  What are also amazing to witness, even if I’m watching the work of my own hands, are the step by step logical, mechanical and artistic processes woven together toward certain micro outcomes resulting in a restored pipe.  Yet, this pipe wasn’t restored, but resurrected to be sure.  The rim repair, both with the fills and the reconstruction of a round presentation, is satisfying to behold. The grain now revealed from underneath the grime and years of use is striking.  Jim commissioned the ‘Nightmare’ from the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” ONLY! collection and that itself was pretty amazing that he could see the potential.  As the commissioner, Jim will have the first opportunity to claim the Comoy’s The Lumberman Special from The Pipe Steward Store benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Lest we forget, I start with a few ‘before’ pictures. Thanks for joining me!

 

 

Restoring my Inherited Huge KBB Yello-bole “Imperial” # 68c


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

The next pipe on my work table had all the traits/ signs of it being used by my grand old man; it was huge, it was solid with a nice hand fill, it was heavily caked with severe signs of being knocked around the rim edges, blocked shank and stem airways and the likes!! From the number of pipes that I have inherited from him, it appears that regular pipe cleaning and maintenance was an alien concept to him and whence a pipe fouled up, he just chucked it and got a new one- a very simple concept, to say the least!

The pipe that I decided to work on is a large full bent billiards with a P-lip stem. It is stamped on the left side of the shank as “YELLO-BOLE” over “REG. U.S. PAT. OFF” (Registered U.S. Patent Office) in block capital letters over “Imperial” in cursive script over “CURED WITH REAL HONEY”. To the left of these stampings towards the bowl, KBB is stamped in the clover leaf. The right of the shank bears the stamp of “ALGERIAN BRUYERE” over shape code “68C”. The shank end is adorned with a ferrule that bears the stamping of K B & B in a clover leaf over “NICKLE PLATED”. The stem bears the Yello-Bole logo in bright yellow circle. All the stampings are crisp and clear and is definitely surprising that it has survived over all these years!! Researching a pipe is always an enriching learning and I look forward to the same on every pipe that I work. Having worked on a few Kaywoodies and also on Yello-Bole, I knew about the connection between the two. However, what intrigued me during the research is that both the brands also have shared the shape codes along the way, albeit at different points in time. Given below are extracts of the most relevant details from pipedia.com, specifically pertaining to this pipe on my work table, wherein I have highlighted information which merits attention:-

Tips for Dating Yello-Bole Pipes (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Yello-Bole#Tips_for_Dating_Yello-Bole_Pipes)

  • KBB stamped in the clover leaf indicates it was made in 1955 or earlier as they stopped this stamping after being acquired by M. Frank.
  • Pipes from 1933-1936 they were stamped “Honey Cured Briar”
  • Post 1936 pipes were stamped “Cured with Real Honey”
  • Pipe stems stamped with the propeller logo were made in the 1930’s or 1940’s – no propellers were used after the 1940’s.
  • Yello-Bole used a 4 digit code stamped on the pipe in the 1930’s.
  • Pipes with the Yello-Bole circle stamped on the shank it were made in the 1930’s, this stopped after 1939.
  • Pipes stamped BRUYERE rather than BRIAR it was made in the 1930’s.

Thus, from the above tips it is evident that I am dealing with a pipe from the 1930s. However, when I visited the pipedia.com page on Collector’s Guide on Kaywoodie (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Collector%27s_Guide_to_Kaywoodie_Pipes#HINTS_ON_COLLECTING.2C_DATING_AND_PRICING_KAYWOODIES), under the heading 1947 Kaywoodie Shape Numbers and Descriptions”, I found the shape # 68C with the description as Extra Large Billiard, Full Bent which perfectly matched with the size and shape of the pipe on my work table.

Also on the same page, there is a picture of an advertisement flyer for CHESTERFIELD KAYWOODIE from 1947. The similarities between this Kaywoodie (read P-lip stem, large sump, massive size and shape) and the Yello-Bole that I am working on is striking.

Thus, the pipe that I am working on is from 1930s, specifically after 1936 as per the stampings seen on the pipe, however, the shape number and description matches with the Kaywoodie catalogue from 1947. Thus it is an interesting conflict as Yello- Bole was designed as an outlet for lower grade briars not used in Kaywoodie production, but the shape code and Chesterfield similarities were incorporated in Yello-Bole earlier than its introduction in Kaywoodie pipes!! I would be happy if anyone reader can clarify this conflict.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The chamber is heavily caked with lava overflow on the rim top surface. The inner edge of the rim is severely damaged. Nicks and dings are also seen along the outer rim edge and chamber appears out of round. Chamber has strong odors of sweet smelling tobaccos. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be commented upon once the cake has been reamed down to the bare briar, but going by the solid feel of the external surface, I do not foresee any serious issues/ surprises with the chamber walls. The stummel surface is covered in dust, dirt and grime of years of use and uncared for storage for the last 45 years when my grandfather quit smoking in the late 1970s. Oils and tars have overflowed over the stummel and have attracted dust giving a dull and lackluster appearance to the stummel. A number of minor dents and scratches are seen over the stummel, notably towards the front, foot and the bottom of the shank. Through all the dirt, some really stunning straight and bird’s eye grains are waiting to be exposed. The mortise is, well mildly put, clogged to hell and back!! That the sump is overflowing and overfilled with accumulated gunk is a fact that could be seen with the naked eyes. Believe you me readers, the pipe smells are too strong. The large bent vulcanite stem exudes high quality and is heavily oxidized. The tenon is covered in a very thick coat of dried gunk and blobs of accumulated dried tars are seen inside the wide tenon opening. This also indicates the extreme clogging that can be expected in the expanded portion of the stem and in the stem air way. The lower button edge has a deep tooth indentation and tooth chatter in the bite zone. The button edge on the upper surface has worn down and would need to be sharpened. The lower end of the stem at the tenon end which enters the mortise shows severe scratch marks and chipped surface, the result of rubbing against the sharp edges of the ferrule at the shank end. INITIAL CLEANING BY ABHA…
The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 40-50 pipes and these have now reached me for further restoration). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

Unfortunately, this time around, she could not clean the stem as it was too large to fit in to the container of the stem deoxidizer solution.

ONCE THE PIPE IS ON MY WORK TABLE…
The chamber is massive, that is what I noticed first when I got the cleaned up pipe on my work table. The wall of the chamber shows insignificant beginnings of heat fissure on the left and back of the chamber walls. Though insignificant now, if not addressed at this stage, these heat fissures may further lead to burn outs. I need to address this issue. The rim top surface is uneven and pock marked with dents and dings. The inner edge is severely damaged with dents and dings, some of them quite large. The chamber is significantly out of round, most notably on the left side in 10 o’clock direction. The rim repairs required are extensive.The nicely cleaned stummel looks exciting with beautiful transverse flowing straight grains on the sides of the stummel and shank and bird’s eye on the front of the stummel and extending to the bottom of the shank. Patches of old lacquer coat can still be seen in the fold between the bowl and shank and also along the bottom of the stummel. The dents and scratches to the front and at the foot of the stummel are now clearly visible. I intend to let them be as they are part of the pipe’s past and also since I wish to preserve the patina. Abha has painstakingly cleaned out the mortise and the sump. However, I could still see remnants of the gunk in the sump and the still strong odor is a pointer to the requirement of further sanitizing the internals of the stummel. The ferrule at the end of the shank end came loose as I was inspecting the stummel. This gave me an opportunity to closely inspect the shank end for cracks or any damage. Lucky me, there are no such hidden gremlins here!! I did notice a fill at the base where the ferrule sat on the shank end (circled in yellow) that would need to be refreshed. The edges of the ferrule at the shank end have become very sharp (I did manage a nick during inspection) that had caused the damage observed on the tenon end of the stem. I need to address this issue. The unclean stem that came to me shows heavy scratches to the tenon end which seats in to the mortise and caused due to the sharp edges of the ferrule. I will address this issue by sanding the surface followed by a fill, if required. The upper surface and button edge of the P-lip shows damage and will have to sharpen the button while sanding and filling the surface. Similarly, the lower button edge has a deep tooth indentation and will need a fill to repair. The heavy oxidation will be a bear to get rid off given the size of the stem. The tenon is covered in a thick coat of dried gunk, not to mention the clogged the stem air way. THE PROCESS
As is my norm, I started the process with stem cleaning and repairs. I cleaned the accumulated dried gunk from the insides of the tenon by scrapping it out with my dental tools followed by q-tips, pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. I soon realized that no matter how many pipe cleaners and q-tips I used, the insides of the wide tenon will still keep throwing out dirty pipe cleaners. I would need to use a more invasive method. Using a shank brush and dish washing soap, I thoroughly cleaned out the gunk. I rinsed it under running warm water. Once satisfied with the internal cleaning, with my fabricated knife I scrapped off the dried oils and tars from the tenon surface. I wiped the tenon end with cotton swab and alcohol till clean. I also cleaned the stem air way and the slot end with pipe cleaners and alcohol.While I was working on the stem, a colleague had come visiting and was amazed at the patience and care being exhibited, traits which I am usually not associated with. He did crack a joke on this and clicked a couple of pictures which I have included here for posterity.I cleaned the stem surface with isopropyl alcohol on a cotton swab and followed it with a scrub using Murphy’s Oil soap and cotton swab. I also smooth the sharp edges of the ferrule with a folded piece of 150 grit sand paper. I mix clear superglue and activated charcoal and paint the damaged tenon end surface and also applied it over the both button edges, upper P-lip surface and lower surface of the P-lip. I set the stem aside for the fills to cure. I cleaned the stummel surface with acetone on a cotton swab to remove the patches of old lacquer. This cleaning further highlighted the beautiful grains on this pipe. This is sure going to be beautiful pipe in my collection. Next I decided to address the issue of strong odor in the chamber. To eliminate the ghost smells from the pipe, I decided to treat it with salt and alcohol. I do not use Kosher salt as it is not readily available here and if available, it’s very expensive. I use cotton balls which is an at par substitute as I have realized over a period of time. I pack the sump with cotton and draw out a wick from the cotton and along with a folded regular pipe cleaner; insert it in to the mortise and through the draught hole in the chamber. I pack cotton balls in to the remaining portion of the mortise. Thereafter, I pack the chamber with cotton balls to about quarter of an inch below the rim inner edge. I soak the cotton balls with isopropyl alcohol up to the brim. About half an hour later, the level of alcohol has gone down, having being absorbed by the cotton. I top it up once again and set it aside overnight. By next afternoon, the cotton and alcohol has drawn out all the remaining oils and tars from the chamber, sump and mortise and the cotton and alcohol had fulfilled its intended task. I removed the cotton balls and the dirt can be gauged by the appearance and coloration of the cotton balls. With my fabricated knife and dental tools, I spent the next hour scrapping out the entire loosened gunk. I ran pipe cleaners through the mortise to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk that had lodged when I cleaned the sump and mortise. The chamber now smells clean, fresh and looks it too. I set the stummel to dry out naturally. By this time the stem fills had cured and with a flat head needle file, I sand these fills to achieve a rough match. I further fine tuned the match by sanding the filled area with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger. I followed it up by sanding the entire stem surface using 400, 600, 800 grit sand papers and finally with a piece of 0000 grade steel wool. This serves to remove the deep seated oxidation and also reduces the sanding marks of the more abrasive sand papers. I also sharpened the button edges while sanding. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the oxidation and sanding dust from the surface. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil over the stem and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite.The next stummel issue to be addressed was that of the rim top surface damage. I topped the rim on a piece of 220 grit sand paper, checking frequently till I was satisfied that the charred surface was addressed to a great extent and the rim top surface is nice, smooth and even. The inner edge is still uneven, though much better than before topping, and shall be addressed next. With a folded piece of a 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger, I created a slight bevel on the inner edge of the rim top surface. This helped to mask the out of round chamber and address the sever dents that had remained on the inner rim edge. It can never be perfect, it’s a repair after all, but the repairs sure looks great. I know I have scrapped the shank end while topping the rim, I should have been careful, but I noticed it early and will be under the ferrule, so no sweat!! The one fill which was seen and readied for a fresh fill was patched up with a mix of briar dust and superglue and set aside to cure. Once the fill had hardened, and it was very quick indeed, I matched the fill with the rest of the stummel surface by sanding the fill with a flat head needle file followed by sanding the fill with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper.To preserve the patina and bring a deeper shine, I polished the stummel with micromesh pads, dry sanding with 1500 to 12000 pads. I wiped the surface with a soft cloth at the end of the micromesh cycle. The stummel looks amazing with a deep shine and beautiful grains popping over the stummel surface. The massive size of the stummel helps accentuate these grains further. The result of all the topping and subsequent micromesh polishing was that the rim top surface had a lighter hue as compared to the rest of the stummel surface. I matched the rim top surface with the rest of the stummel by staining the surface with a dark brown stain pen. I set it aside for the stain to cure.Turning my attention back to the stem, I decided to polish and shine up the stem surface. I wet sand the stem with 1500 to 12000 girt micromesh pads. Next I rub a small quantity of extra fine stem polish that I had got from Mark and set it aside to let the balm work its magic. After about 10 minutes, I hand buffed the stem with a microfiber cloth to a nice shine. I rub a small quantity of olive oil in to the stem surface to hydrate it and set it aside. After the rim top surface stain had cured for about 6 hours, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. I applied the balm over the rim top surface also. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful darkened grain patterns on full display. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. I wiped it with a microfiber cloth. The rim top is now perfectly matched with the rest of the stummel dark coloration. I am very pleased with the blend. I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. It was at this point in the process of restoration that I realized that I am yet to attach the ferrule at the shank end. I rub a small quantity of ‘Colgate’ toothpowder over the ferrule surface. Those who have not tried out this trick, you must try it out at least once, it works like magic and imparts a nice shine to the nickel plated (it works even better on Sterling Silver) ferrule. I apply superglue over the shank end, align the ferrule stamp with that on the shank and attach the ferrule over it. I press it down firmly for a couple of minutes to let the glue set. After the glue had completely cured, I tried the seating of the stem in to the mortise and realized that the stem surface still brushed against the sharp ferrule edge. With a needle file I sand the edges, frequently feeling for the sharpness with my fingers and checking the seating of the stem in to the mortise. Once the edges and seating were smooth, I applied a little petroleum jelly on the walls of the mortise as this reduces friction and moisturizes the briar and moved on to the home stretch.With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks beautiful. Having addressed the cosmetic aspect of this pipe, I move on to address the functionality aspect by addressing the ridges and re-entrant formed at the draught hole as well as the minor/ insignificant heat fissures. I insert a petroleum jelly coated pipe cleaner in to the draught hole. I mix a small quantity of the contents from the two tubes of J B Weld in equal proportions and apply it evenly only over the damaged area near the draught hole with my fingers. I had to work deftly and fast as the compound starts to harden within 4 minutes. I set the stummel aside for the JB Weld coat to completely harden.The next day, the compound had completely hardened. With a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper, I sanded the fill to as thin a layer as I thought would be just sufficient to protect the heel and ensure a smooth even surface for the pipe mud coating.Next I mixed activated charcoal and yogurt to a thick consistency and evenly applied it over the chamber walls and set it aside to dry out naturally. Once the coating had dried I buffed the pipe again with a microfiber cloth to a nice deep shine. P.S. This was a fun project and I absolutely loved and enjoyed working on it. It has some stunning grains and beats me that even though Yello-Bole was designed as an outlet for lower grade briars not used in Kaywoodie production, this beauty is anything but lower grade!! This would be joining my collection and I shall get to admire the beauty whenever I so desire.

Thank you all for sparing your valuable time in reading thus far and I would be happy to hear comments on the conflict that I find between Yello-Bole and Kaywoodie.

COMPLICATING A SIMPLE RESTORATION OF A CUTTY MEERSCHAUM!!


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Truth be told, this project which started while my friend and mentor Steve, Jeff and Dal Stanton were visiting us here in May of 2019, had become a mental block for me to work on. I had this meerschaum pipe that came without a stem and I had requested Steve if he could get me one when he came visiting. He brought along a potential stem for either the meerschaum currently on my work table or for an early Ben Wade Fancy cutty, again from my inheritance. In the course of our time here we looked over the stem that he had brought along and tried it on the meerschaum and the Ben Wade. We chose not to use the stem on the meerschaum and it was too large in diameter for the Ben Wade. It was decided that Steve would take the Ben Wade back home to find a suitable stem from his bag of spares (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/05/20/restoring-restemming-an-1851-ben-wade-silver-clad-cutty/) while an amber stem from my spares of odds and ends would be used for the meerschaum. The selected replacement amber stem is shown below.This meerschaum pipe in a Cutty shape, with a forward canted bowl that flows in to the shank, is in its original leather case. In looks alone, it has unparalleled beauty with nice deep egg yolk yellow coloration to the stummel and shank with a black flume to the rim top which extends ½ inch down. The shank is devoid of any stampings and the only stamp seen is on the case. The leather covered wood case is stamped on the inside of the top lid in an oval as “Alfred MASSIN” over “LIEGE” over “R. DELA CATHEDRALE, 56”. On the lower lid, on the outer edge, it is stamped as “A MASSIN, LIEGE”Other than a known fact that Liege is an important economic hub of Belgium, there was no information found on the internet to establish the provenance of this pipe. The only guess that I can afford is that Alfred Massin was/is a tobacconist in Liege, Belgium who either made or bought pipes to be sold under his name. In all probability, the later holds true and this could be a Vienna made meer (famous for making meerschaum pipes).

PART I
Since my esteemed guests were to leave in next couple of days, we prioritized the work that would need to be done while Steve was in town and thus I have departed from my usual process of initial visual inspection. This, I shall be carrying out before I start the Part II of the process.

As brought out earlier, the chosen replacement amber stem, though not a perfect fit, had a nice flowing profile that matched the flow of the meerschaum cutty.  More importantly, it sat over the threaded bone tenon in the mortise with an acceptable flawed flush which could be addressed during the course of restoring this beauty. There was a slight difference in the shoulder size of this stem as compared to that of the shank end. It was shorter too, but nothing could be done about it!! The least we could attempt was to make it smoke worthy again and that is what we set about to achieve.Steve suggested that a sterling silver ring should help masking this gap while adding a nice bling to the monotonous profile of the pipe (which by itself is eye catching!!). Steve, Jeff, Abha and I visited many of our city jewelers on a hunt for one such sterling silver ring without any success. At one of the jeweler’s shop, we got a lead to a person who would fabricate one such ring for us and when we reached this shop, it was primitive, small, dingy and not confidence inspiring for sure. But when we saw him work, it was amazing and he excelled in his work. He did not have any complicated and sophisticated instruments for measurements or for fabricating or welding, but he sure made us the perfect ring for the oval shank end at an astonishingly low cost!! And the fit was excellent. His workmanship and skills did leave Steve and Jeff highly impressed. Here are some pictures of the Silversmith in action and the end result. At this stage, Steve and Jeff had to bid farewell to us as their stay had come to an end and I would have to continue this restoration alone.

DISASTER STRIKES AND HOW!!
After we had dropped Steve and Jeff at the airport, I came back to a void as suddenly there was nothing to do, nothing to look forward to!! I decided to continue my work on this pipe by cleaning the internals of the replacement amber stem. But the moment I started to clean, DISASTER struck! I dropped the amber stem to the floor. Everyone in my house looked on with stunned silence as it hit the tiled floor…the stem chipped at the slot end!! Luckily, even though the chip was a large chunk of amber, the stem had not shattered!! It could still be repaired by gluing the piece back. I took a deep breath and tried to insert a pipe cleaner to clean the air way. And lo!! I managed to drop the stem again on the hard floor!! There was a moment of silence followed by a pandemonium with every member in the family contributing to my agony with their barbed comments and advice!! The damage was still controllable with another large chip to the button end, the stem still being intact. I could work on the stem no further and set it aside and called it a day, carefully packing the chipped chunks in a zip lock pouch. I am sure that none of the readers of rebornpipes.com expected me to take pictures of this disaster and if any one does, I am sorry, I did not take any!!

I did not touch the stem or pipe the entire next day.

A new dawn and I did think of working the stem again deciding to glue all the chipped chunks back together. Steve had brought me a few tubes of superglue that he uses and I was looking forward to using it. I requested Abha, my wife, to work her magic and clean out the chamber and shank internals. While she was at it, I carefully removed the chunks from the pouch and got the stem out and laid it out on the dining table. I opened the container and removed the glue. As I was unscrewing the tube cap, my hand slipped, pushed the stem over the table and further crashing down to the floor!! Not a single word from anyone at the table as they simply left save for Pavni, my youngest daughter’s remark, “BUTTER FINGERS!!” She is not the one who would let such a golden opportunity pass by!! I too sat in stunned silence as I couldn’t vent my anger on anyone, but me!! There was nothing that I could do, but assess the damage. The stem was still intact; the damage was again localized to the slot end, albeit this time the breakage was akin to shattering and I could see the beginnings of a fault line on the top surface near the tenon end!! Another crash and the stem will most likely shatter along this fault line. I picked up the stem and the pieces of broken amber (as many as I could collect) and packed them in a zip lock bag and put the pouch away with no further desire to work on this pipe!! Abha, on her part, flatly refused to even touch the pipe and so back it went in to its case where it would be safer than in our hands (read that as my hands!!)

I DID NOT TOUCH THIS PIPE THEREAFTER FOR THE ENTIRE DURATION OF MY LEAVE, TO THE EXTENT, THAT I DID NOT EVEN GET IT BACK TO MY PLACE OF WORK ALONG WITH THE OTHER PIPES!!

PART II

In the month of July 2019, Abha had sent me a huge lot of 40 pipes that she had cleaned up and there at right at the top of the pile was this meerschaum pipe in its case!! I further procrastinated for another 3 months before working on this pipe.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION

This is how the pipe was received by me. Oh my!! Do I really want to work on it, not really!! My expert workmanship is gloriously on display if you observe closely at the slot end of the stem….LOL!, me and my butter fingers!! Before the above disaster struck and we finally put the pipe aside, Abha had partially reamed out the thick layer of cake from the chamber. Now on my work table, I would need to completely ream the chamber and clean out the little remaining cake. Unfortunately the rim of this pipe too appears to have been subjected to being banged on the edge of the table to remove the dottle, albeit with a little gentleness, as can be seen from the damage to the inner edge of the rim. The chamber is out-of-round towards the left side in 9 o’clock direction. Overflow of lava can be seen on the rim top surface. In my appreciation, these are not major issues to address.  The stummel surface has developed a glorious patina over the years of smoking and I need to preserve it. However, the surface is covered in dust and grime. Numerous scratches can be seen to the front, back and sides of the stummel. The shank top and bottom surface too has numerous scratches. The bottom of the shank appears to have a small fill which has been circled in red. This fill/flaw in meerschaum felt solid on light probing with my pointed dental pick. The threaded bone tenon is fixed in to the shank end over which the replaced Amber stem will get attached. This bone tenon is covered in oils and tars and the shank internals are heavily clogged with accumulation of old and dried gunk making airflow through it laborious and restricted. The stem is where my patience, diligence and skills are going to be tested. The following pictures tell the story themselves. The reader will now get a picture as to why this project has been kept pending for the last 5 months! The fault line or beginnings of a crack that I had mentioned earlier are marked in blue circle. Amber stem repair is the most delicate and difficult of all stem repairs and is sure to test my patience and mental robustness. I need to arm myself with as much information on these repairs as possible. The air way can be seen through the broken portion of the stem surface is covered in dried gunk. This will have to be cleaned. The leather covered wooden case is solid with all the hinges and locking mechanism in excellent working condition. The dark brown lining along the edges has come off at certain places and at some places has been completely torn off. The leather covering is in excellent condition, save for heavy accumulation of dust, dirt and grime. The leather has dulled under all this grime and dirt. This should clean up nicely. The satin lining inside the box lid cover has become dirty and stained over the years. However, the markings are still crisp and shining. The gold velvet lining which houses the pipe too has dulled and covered in dirt and grime. The insides and outside of this case should clean up nicely. THE PROCESS PART II
I decided to restart this restoration with the stem repairs. Actually, I wanted to fight the demons in my head as far as this stem repair is concerned. I first discussed this repair with Steve and read all the write ups on Amber stem repairs on rebornpipes.com. This helped me get a fair idea as to how I should be generally going about this project. I carefully removed all the broken bits and pieces of the stem from the zip lock pouch and meticulously laid them out over the broken stem surface, something akin to solving a jigsaw puzzle. I made a mental map of all the pieces and also of the pieces that were missing. The second picture shows the placement of broken pieces of amber, the missing parts and overall intended repairs required.Once this mental map was ready, I moved ahead with first cleaning out the internals of the stem airway. Now, I was cautioned by Steve not to use alcohol to clean the amber stem and so I used plain warm water with pipe cleaners and shank brush. I was cautious when I cleaned tenon end of the stem so as not to stress the developing crack. Steve also had given me a Mantra of going about this project; LESS IS MORE!! Well, this shall be my guideline as I go about repairing the stem and further restoring this pipe. With the stem internals as clean as I could possibly get, I insert a petroleum jelly smeared pipe cleaner in to the stem airway. This prevents the CA superglue from flowing in to it and subsequently clogging the airway. I applied CA superglue over the broken surface of the stem with a toothpick and stuck the broken portions of the stem making sure that they are aligned perfectly. The portion that had missing parts was filled with clear CA superglue. I applied the superglue over the developing crack at the tenon end so it would permeate in to the crack and stabilize it. I set the stem aside for the repairs to cure.Next I worked on the stummel clearing out all the remaining cake from the chamber using PipNet reamer size head 1 and 2. I used my fabricated smaller knife to remove the cake from areas not reached by the reamer head. To remove the last traces of old cake and even out the chamber walls, I sand the entire chamber with folded piece of 180 grit sand paper. I gently scraped off the lava overflow from the rim top surface with my fabricated knife.

Continuing with internal cleaning, I cleaned out the shank internals and the mortise using hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in 99.9% isopropyl alcohol. The shank internals were so clogged and dirty that while cleaning at one point I thought that I would never get a pipe cleaner to come out clean!! But eventually I did manage to get a few pipe cleaners to come clean and the shank internals are now nice and clean and fresh. I wiped the threaded bone tenon with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove the dried gunk from the surface. Slowly and surely, progress is being made and I am happy with it.The stem repairs had cured nicely by the next afternoon and so I decided to work the stem. I sand the repairs with a flat head needle file, huge mistake that was!! A small chunk came off the stem. The demons came back to haunt me again. Muttering a prayer for divine intervention, I set about gluing the chunk back on to the stem surface. I again aligned the broken chunk with the surface and applied generous coat of super glue over the complete repairs, including the tenon end repairs and set it aside.  While the stem repairs were set aside to cure, I wiped the stummel surface with a cotton swab and Murphy’s Oil soap. The stummel surface is now free of all the dust and grime. I also cleaned out the last traces of lava from the rim top surface. The stummel and rim top surface now looks dull, but it is clean. I shall bring back the rich shine when I polish it further.    I followed up the external cleaning of the stummel with addressing the issue of uneven and out of round inner rim edge. I created a bevel to the inner edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. This helps to mask the out of round chamber while addressing the uneven inner rim edge. I could still see one major dent within this freshly created bevel and the only way to address this without further compromising the thickness of the rim was to sand it down at the cost of altering the profile of the beautifully shaped stummel. This was not acceptable to me and I decided to let it be. It shall remain as part of this pipe’s journey till date! Back to the stem repairs!! The glue had shrunk while curing and not wanting to take any more chances, I apply another coat of superglue over the repairs on both upper and lower surfaces of the stem. I set it aside for the night to cure.Reaching back for the stummel, I was caught in a conflict; should I sand the stummel with 220 grit sand paper to remove all the scratches to make it look pristine and loose the patina that has developed over the years or preserve the coloration and patina. I decided on the later, after all it is the coloration taken on by the meer over the years which is more important and the existing scratches are a part of its journey through the years, is how I convinced myself!! I polished the stummel surface by dry sanding it with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. Some minor scratches were also addressed while imparting a nice deep shine to the stummel. The patina was also preserved. All in all, I am pleased with the appearance of the stummel at this stage. Even though the black flume has been lost at places from the rim top surface, it is an easy fix and I shall address it next. I painted the discolored flume from the rim top surface and adjoining areas with a permanent marker and shall blend it further subsequently.Other than final polish using Blue Diamond followed by Wax, the stummel work is complete. I need to concentrate only on the stem repair now. What followed over next two days and nights is fill, cure and thereafter sand!! I did not get a needle file anywhere near the stem. For sanding, I used 400, 600 and 800 grit sand papers only and completely avoided the coarser grades.   I still found the repairs did show themselves in all their ugliness and sought Steve’s advice on the same. He put my mind to rest by appreciating the repairs while commenting that it’s a repair and can never look like original!! He also suggested I take a look at all the amber stem repairs he had done so far and that in all cases the repairs do show. Such is the humility of this gentleman!! Well, truth be told, I too had no heart to work any further on the repairs and moved ahead with polishing the stem. I wet sand the stem with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, frequently wiping it with a moist cloth to monitor the progress made. I am satisfied with the appearance of the stem at this stage. Remember the mantra for this restoration…Less is more!! Stummel done, stem done!! All that remained was the original case that housed this pipe. Firstly, I reattached all the dark brown linings that had come loose with superglue. I wiped the brown leather cover with Murphy’s Oil soap on a cotton swab. The color on the swabs should give the readers an idea of how dirty the surface was!! I wanted to further scrub the leather surface, but unsure that I was as to how the leather would hold up to all the scrubbing, I left it at that (remember my mantra… Less is more!!). I cleaned the inner satin and velvet linings of the lid and bottom respectively, with a mild soap in warm water and a soft bristled tooth brush. I was very gentle with this as I had no intention of either tearing the lining or messing up the stampings. I completely dried the lining using paper towels. It now does look nice and rich. With the externals and internals of the case all cleaned up, it remained to rejuvenate the leather. I applied a generous coat of neutral color shoe polish (it is basically wax!) on either surfaces and kept it aside to be absorbed by the leather. Prevalent heat in my part of the country also kept the polish in a semi-liquid state which further helped in absorption. I polished it with a horse hair shoe brush to a nice shine and gave a final buffing with a microfiber cloth.This project was finally nearing completion!! When I attached the stem to the stummel, I realized that the fit is overturned due to all the cleaning of the tenon and the stem. I applied a thick coat of clear nail polish over the threaded tenon and after it had dried, I turned the stem over the tenon. The fit was snug and aligned perfectly. Thank God for such mercies!!To finish, I re-attach the stem with the stummel. I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool.  I set the speed at lowest power and applied Blue Diamond compound over the stummel and the stem surface. I wiped/ buffed the pipe with a soft cotton cloth to clear it of any leftover compound dust. I then mounted another cotton cloth wheel on to the polishing machine and applied several coats of carnauba wax over the stummel and the stem of the pipe. I finished the restoration by giving the pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The completed pipe, with its golden hues and aged patina and a dark egg yolk colored amber stem, looks lovely, fresh and vibrant; the photographs speak for themselves. The beauty, size and shape of this pipe, not to mention the challenges and time it took me to get around restoring it, make it one of my favorites and will find a place of pride in my modest collection. If only the pipe could tell some of the stories of its provenance and experiences gathered on the way as it found me…Cheers!! P.S. I did smoke this pipe and enjoyed the fruits of my labor. It’s a fantastic smoke to say the least.

Redeeming an English Made Flumed Meerschaum Author


Blog by Steve Laug

Over the past two weeks I was traveling in Alberta with my brother Jeff and his wife, Sherry. In between work appointments and presentations we took some time to visit local antique shops and malls. We found quite a few pipes. In a small Antique Shop in Lethbridge we found a few interesting pipes. The first of the ones that I am working from that find is an oval shank meerschaum Author. It has a flumed top and some colouring happening around the bowl and the shank. The saddle stem has a ribbon shaped/bookmark stamped logo on the top of the saddle. The pipe was dirty and caked when we picked it up. The rim top had a little lava and some small scratches in the edges of the bowl. The bowl had a thin cake in it that was hard and dense. The exterior of the bowl and shank are very dirty with grime and oils from prolonged use. The stamping on the underside of the shank below the shank/stem junction was faint but readable and read Genuine Block Meerschaum with an arched Gt. Britain at the stem shank joint. The vulcanite stem was had tooth chatter on the top and the underside of the stem. There were tooth marks on both sides and on the button. I took photos of the pipe before I started the cleanup. I took close up photos of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before I started my cleanup work. The rim top had some lava and a few nicks on the inner edge. Other than being so dirty it appeared to be in great condition. The stem was dirty and there was tooth chatter on the top and underside near the button and on the button surface itself. The stem was lightly oxidized.I took a photo to capture the stamping on the underside of the shank near the stem/shank joint. The photo shows the stamping Genuine Block over Meerschaum. Next to that there was an arched stamp that read GT BRITAIN. There was a small nick in the underside of the meerschaum next to the vulcanite stem.While we were traveling I decided to do a bit of work on some of the pipes that we had found. I scraped the inside of the bowl with a sharp knife. I scraped the tars and lava off the top of the rim with the same knife. I took the stem off and you can see the metal tenon set in the shank of the pipe. It is anchored firmly and the stem pressure fit over the top of the tenon.I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with warm water and some Dawn Dish Soap to remove the buildup of grime around the bowl and on the rim top. I rinsed it well and wiped the bowl down with a clean paper towel to polish the finish on the bowl. I decided to follow up on my initial cleaning of the bowl and shank. I reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the remnants of the cake in the bowl. I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel to smooth out the inside walls of the bowl.I scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank, the metal mortise and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners.I polished the meerschaum with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding the bowl walls and rim top with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth to wipe of the dust. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the meerschaum with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter with 220 grit sand paper and started to polish it with a folded piece of 400 wet dry sandpaper. Once it was finished it began to shine.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. This is a beautiful Flumed top Block Meerschaum Oval Shank Author with a black saddle vulcanite stem. It has a great look and feel. The shape is very tactile and is a beauty. I polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The meerschaum had already begun to take on a patina and it came alive with the buffing. The rich mottled browns of the meerschaum colour works well with the polished vulcanite stem. The finished pipe has a rich look that is quite catching. Have a look at it with the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I will be adding the pipe to the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding this block meerschaum, English made Author to your collection let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over the first of the finds of Jeff and my Alberta pipe hunt.

Refurbishing a Tired Looking Oom Paul from Steve’s Grab Box


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Steve, my friend and mentor, had sent me a pipe lot of 15 pipes for restoration. These assorted pipes were sent to me with an intent that these would provide me with an opportunity to further hone my skills and gain experience in tackling varied issues that one may come across during restoration. Each of these pipes has its own set of issues to address and I look forward to work on each one of this pipe lot. Here is the picture of the pipes as I received it, less the one marked with a cross in red which is a Dunhill Root and restored by Steve for my personal collection.I had worked on a no name straight billiard (marked number 1) from this lot and it turned out to be a beautiful pipe. The next pipe from this lot that I selected to work on is an Oom Paul and is marked with a yellow arrow and numeral 2.This pipe has a nice heft to it and the classic Oom Paul shape lends itself to be clenched comfortably while having your hands free. The stummel is combination of islands of smooth surface formed due to stitches-like rustications crisscrossing the length and breadth of the stummel. It is stamped on the left side of the shank as “Oom Paul” in block capital, increasing in letter size towards the shank end. On the bottom of the shank and very close to the shank end it is stamped as “Israel” in sentence case. There is no stamping on the vulcanite full bent stem.This is the first pipe that I am working on coming from Israel and so to learn more about it, I visited pipedia.org. I searched the link for Israel in Pipe Brands/ Makers and found that Israel has only one pipe factory, The Shalom Pipe factory. Thus it is highly probable that this pipe too came from this factory. No other information was available on the internet that I could research. It does appear to be an ol’ timer though.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
There is a thick layer of cake in the huge chamber pointing to the fact that this was the previous owner’s favorite pipe. The stitch-like rustications on the rim top surface are filled with dust and dirt and yes, surprisingly without overflowing lava accumulation. The inner and outer rim edges are in decent shape. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be only ascertained once the cake has been taken down to bare briar. Thankfully, the chamber has very mild odor which should be eliminated once the chamber and shank internals have been cleaned.The stummel is covered in dirt and grime that gives it a dull and tired appearance. The large smooth paneled surface on the right side of the stummel is considerably darker in appearance as compared to the right side. However, the entire stummel has a solid feel to it. The stitch-like rustications that crisscross the entire stummel are filled with dust and dirt and appear lighter than the smooth surfaces. There are patches of dried oils and grime which has attracted a lot of dust. Through all this dirt and grime, beautiful Bird’s eye and cross grains peek out from the smooth surface. Once the stummel is cleaned and polished, these grains will pop out in all their refined glory. All in all as it stands now, this is one dull and tired looking stummel that requires a lot of TLC!! The mortise has a sump at the bottom that is similar to the Peterson’s System pipes, with the opening for the draught hole well above this sump. The mortise and the sump are clogged with oils and tars. This will need to be thoroughly cleaned.The stem, to put it mildly, is a mess!! Apart from being heavily oxidized, it has deep bite marks on both upper and lower stem surface. Heavy tooth chatter is seen all over the bite zone on both sides of the stem surface. The button has been badly chewed with deep tooth indentations on both sides of the stem. The aluminum stinger is surrounded by a thick layer of accumulated dried oils and tars and could not be dislodged from the tenon end. The tenon end and slot shows heavy accumulation of gunk, making air flow very laborious. All these issues need to be addressed. INITIAL CLEANING BY ABHA……….
Ever since we had an on-the-job learning on initial cleaning and restoration when Jeff and Steve visited us, Abha is enjoying her part of work in restoring pipes (read that as initial cleaning) and is getting better and faster in her chosen field. She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She scrubbed out the dried oils, tars and gunk from the mortise with a fabricated dental spatula and further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

Next she lightly heated the stinger, carefully pulled it out with nose pliers and cleaned out the internals of the stem air way and immersed it in “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution along with the stem of other pipes in line for restoration. Once the stem had soaked overnight, she cleaned the stem under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using Scotch Brite pad. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stem.

ONCE THE PIPE IS ON MY WORK TABLE……
The cleaned up pipes presents a very clear picture of what needs to be done to restore this pipe to a pristine and smokable condition. I really cannot thank Abha, my wife, enough for all the help and support that she extends me in my pursuance of this hobby. A clean pipe also helps in clearly identifying the work that would be required to restore a pipe. The pictures shows the condition of the pipe when it reached me after being cleaned. The stummel is nice and clean with the stitch-like rustications now appearing considerably lighter than the rest of the stummel surface. With the dirt and dust that covered the surface cleaned out, the smooth surfaces on the stummel presents an array of beautiful cross and Bird’s eye grains. The smooth surface on right side of the stummel is considerably darker (circled in red) than the left and will need to be examined closely. However, the stummel is solid to the touch, thereby ruling out a total burn out. I am sanguine that after a nice polish with micromesh pads followed by further wax polish, the stummel would look beautiful and stately. The large deep chamber is nice clean and odorless with minor heat fissures all around the walls. These fissures on the right side (marked in red circle) are likely to be more severe as the outer surface is considerably darkened than the left side of the stummel. I need to explore these heat fissures further to determine the extent of the depth of these fissures. However, I am certain that these are not an all out burn through, but mostly like the beginnings of one. The mortise and sump is spotlessly clean, thanks to a stupendous job done by Abha. As spelled out in my initial appreciation, prima facie it is the stem that has suffered the most damage at the hands of the previous owner. I say prima facie since at this stage, I am not sure about the hidden gremlins in the form of heat fissures which necessitates detailed exploration. The bite zone is peppered with tooth chatter and deep tooth indentations on both sides of the stem. The buttons on both the sides are badly deformed with deep bite marks and signs of presence of deep seated oxidation. I would need to sharpen the edges of the buttons also. I intend to first raise these indentations to the surface by heating and sanding followed by filling it with a mix of activated charcoal and superglue. By sanding to even out the stem fill and remove the deeper oxidation followed by micromesh polishing cycle should add a nice shine to the stem. The aluminum stinger, tenon and slot are nice and clean. THE PROCESS
Firstly, I heat the surface of the stem with the flame of a lighter to raise the tooth indentations to the surface and follow it up with a sanding with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. This helped to even out the raised surface, address the tooth chatter and also remove the deep seated oxidation to some extent. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove the raised oxidation and the resulting sanding dust. However, the tooth indentations are still prominent. A bite through on the top stem surface is reveled which extends in to the stem airway. I need to address this issue. After this abrasive sanding and alcohol wipe, the stem appears dried out and so I apply a small quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil to hydrate it.To address the deep tooth marks in the bite zone, button surface and the bite through on the top stem surface, I decided to use a mix of activated charcoal and CA superglue and apply it over the damaged areas. But before that, I insert a regular pipe cleaner smeared in petroleum jelly in to the stem air way. This prevents the mix from seeping in to the air way and blocking it when hardened. I apply a generous coat of the above mix over the damaged surface, including the buttons on either sides of the stem and set it aside overnight to cure. Next, while the stem fills are curing, I sand the entire stummel surface with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. I also work the inner rim edge with the sandpaper to even out the rim edge. This sanding helps in addressing all the minor dents, if any, from the surface while providing a smooth surface for the next stage which is polishing cycle using complete set of micromesh pads. I was especially very careful while sanding the side and bottom of the shank around the stampings, as it is very easy to miss out the stamp and one swipe of the sand paper is enough to ruin/ damage the stampings and it is the stampings on any pipe that I always strive to preserve. The next afternoon, I work the stem as the fills had hardened nicely. With a flat head needle file, I sand these fills to achieve a rough match. I further fine tuned the match by sanding the filled area with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger. I followed it up by sanding the entire stem surface using 400, 600 and 800 grit sand papers. This serves to remove the deep seated oxidation and also reduces the sanding marks of the more abrasive sand papers. I also sharpened the button edges with a flat head needle file and the sand papers. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the oxidation and sanding dust from the surface. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil over the stem and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite.I followed up the sanding regime with micromesh polishing to bring a shine on the stem surface. Since my hand held rotary tool is out for repairs, I could not continue with my experimentation on use of Red Tripoli and White Diamond during the polishing regime. I wet sand the stem with 1500 to 12000 girt micromesh pads. I rub a small quantity of olive oil in to the stem surface to hydrate it and set it aside. The stem looks nice and shinning black.Now that the stem repairs are nearly complete save for final polish with Blue diamond and wax, I could now move ahead with polishing the stummel. To remove the sanding marks and bring a deeper shine, I polished the stummel with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 pads. I wiped the surface with a soft cloth at the end of the micromesh cycle. The stummel looks amazing with a deep dark maroon coloration and shine with beautiful grains popping over the stummel surface. The only aspect that stood out like a sore thumb was the light brown surfaces within the stitch-like rustications and the sand dust of micromesh pad has not helped, rather worsened the look. I carefully wipe the rustications with a moistened q-tip. Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. I was diligent while applying the balm in to the stitch-like rustication as this may darken the inside of the rustications. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful darkened grain patterns on full display. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. However, my attempt at darkening the insides of the rustications was met with limited success and a few sore spots still stand out. I decided to darken the insides of the stitch-like rustications by using a mahogany stain pen. I diligently ran the stain pen through each and every stitch-like rustication. It was a painstaking work but I am very happy with the results. Now, on to the home stretch!! I very excited to see the result of the final polishing cycle with Blue Diamond and carnauba wax.

To apply the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks fantastic, the beauty of which is accentuated by its classic shape, size and feel in the mouth. This pipe is all set for a new home and will definitely provide the new owner pipe man/ lady hours of blissful smoke. P.S. At this point, I always share pictures of the completed pipe with Abha, my wife just so she can appreciate the end results of all her hard work put in during her initial cleaning. She loved the natural deep dark brown coloration taken by the stummel. However, she reminded me that I had not addressed the issue of heat fissures in the walls of the chamber which she had brought to my notice.

Hell!!! How did I miss out on this vital functional aspect of a pipe, but miss out, I did!! Thus, I set about addressing this issue.

First and foremost, I took some real close ups of the heat fissures on the right side of the walls. I could definitely see dried and burnt briar in these fissures even though they appeared insignificant. But the darkened stummel surface on the right side pointed to otherwise. To further determine the extent of depth and width of these heat fissures, with a sharp dental probe I scraped out the dead and burnt briar from within these fissures. As anticipated, these fissures were not very deep but deep enough to lead to a burn out sooner than later. Furthermore, my probing the left side fissures also revealed deeper than appearing fissures. This important functional aspect needs to be addressed. I decided to use a coat of JB Weld first followed by a bowl coat of activated charcoal and yogurt. The coat of JB Weld would protect the briar from coming in to direct contact with the burning tobacco while the charcoal and yogurt would insulate the JB Weld from direct contact with the lit tobacco while accelerating the formation of cake which subsequently adds a further protective layer. This was essential for furthering the briar life while providing a lifetime of contentment to the new pipe man/ lady. Now, JB Weld comes in two parts – the ‘Steel’ and the ‘Hardener’ in separate tubes.  As per the directions both are to be mixed in 1:1 ratio and that one has about 4 minutes before the mixture sets.  Before applying the mixture, I insert a petroleum jelly coated pipe cleaner through draught hole to prevent the draught from being smeared with the mix and blocking it when the mix is hardened. I mix JB Weld at 50/50 (eyeballing the quantities, of course) on an index card, mix it well, and apply it as evenly as possible over the complete chamber wall with a sliver of a bamboo frond – it was a bit messy, but mission accomplished successfully.  I set the stummel aside and let it cure overnight.The next afternoon, the mix had hardened and I realized how unevenly the mix was applied!! I did not want the layer of the mix to be too thick, but only as a thin layer. I mounted a 180 grit sanding drum on to my hand held rotary tool and carefully sand down the hardened mix to an acceptable thickness. To be honest, I do not know of any scientific method to determine the thickness and neither do I know of any instrument that would help me in doing so, it was just by touch and feel. Once satisfied, I cleaned the chamber of all the sanding dust and readied it for the next coat of activated charcoal and yogurt.Next, I mixed activated charcoal and yogurt to a thick consistency, neither too runny that it would run down the surface nor too thick that it would not spread out evenly. Again, this was all by feel!! Once I was satisfied with the consistency, I applied it evenly over the layer of JB Weld mixture and set it aside to dry out naturally. Once the bowl coat had dried out and hardened, I cleaned the rim top off all the dust and charcoal yogurt mix with a q-tip. I wiped the stummel with a clean soft cotton cloth and rubbed a small quantity of balm to enliven the briar and hand buffed the stummel with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine.

The pipe is now truly ready for a long hiatus with a new piper, providing years of service in future. I cannot thank Abha enough for reminding me to address this most important functional aspect.

Thank you all for reading through this longish write up and for the valuable time you have invested in doing so. If any reader is interested in enjoying this pipe as his/ her rotation pipe, feel free to let us know.

Restoring a Barling & Sons # 4899, Made in Denmark


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I had finished refurbishing a Barling Brandy bowl in a smooth finish and it has found a new piper to carry forward the legacy. The next pipe that I decided to work on is a lovely Brandy bowl shaped Barling pipe in a sandblast finish which was purchased together with the smooth finish that I have mentioned above. The pipe boasts of shallow blasts on the stummel with beautiful patterns. The pipe is stamped on the surface at the bottom of the shank as “B.BARLINGS & SONS” in block capitals over “MADE IN DENMARK” over shape code numeral “4899”. The top of the saddle stem has the trademark BARLING in a cross stem logo. The stampings are all deep and crisp.Having just recently worked on a Barling pipe that bore the COM stamp of Denmark, I was aware of the provenance of this pipe. I reproduce the relevant part of the information gleaned from pipedia.org.

In the late 1970’s production of Barling pipes was shifted to Denmark where Eric Nording manufactured Barling pipes for Imperial. There may have been other factories, but as of this writing, none has been identified. Nording stated that he made approximately 100.000 pipes for Imperial.

Despite these attempts to diversify the line, Barling lost its market. These pipes just weren’t equivalent to the family era pipes.
Finally, Imperial decided to close down the Barling operations entirely by 1980.

Thus from the above, it is safely concluded that the pipe currently on my work table is from the period between late 1970’s to 1980 and given the quality of sandblast, most likely manufactured by other factories in Denmark!!

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The pipe came to us in a very nice condition having being smoked maybe only a few times. It was lightly smoked and with a thin layer of cake build up in the chamber. The rim top is covered in a minimal overflow of lava with inner and outer rim edges in pristine condition. The chamber has minimum odor and should be addressed once the chamber and shank internals are cleaned up. A simple scrub with a brass bristled brush should suffice to clean the rim top surface.The sandblasted stummel surface has a shallow sandblast with beautiful patterns of mix of Bird’s eye, cross grains and nice swirls to the sides, front and bottom of the bowl respectively. The front of the stummel has a deep pit, likely caused during the sandblasting process where the soft briar was chipped off by the sand particles. The stummel surface is stained black and has a dark lacquer coat that has dulled a bit. The mortise is relatively clean with an easy draw. Running a few pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol should clean up the shank internals. The straight vulcanite saddle stem gradually flares out towards the slot end and is deeply oxidized. Thankfully the stem surface is free of any bite marks or tooth chatter on either surface in the bite zone. The insides of the slot and tenon have very little signs of accumulated gunk. The crossed Barling logo on the saddle top of the stem is crisp and deep.INITIAL CLEANING BY ABHA…
The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 40-50 pipes and these have now reached me for further restoration). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

Next she cleaned out the internals of the stem air way and immersed it in “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution along with the stem of other pipes in line for restoration. Once the stem had soaked overnight, she cleaned the stem under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using Scotch Brite pad. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stem.

ONCE THE PIPE IS ON MY WORK TABLE…
I cannot thank my wife, Abha, enough for all the help and support that she extends me in my pursuance of this hobby. With the initial pipe cleaning at her hands, allows me to move at a nice click with my restoration and repair work on the pipes.

The chamber is odorless and the walls are solid without any signs of damage. The sandblasted rim top surface is intact with an equally undamaged inner and outer rim edge. The chamber and rim top has been nicely cleaned up by Abha. With a draught hole right at the bottom and dead center, this should be a fantastic smoker!! Even though most of the lacquer coat was removed when the stummel was cleaned up by Abha, I could still see remnants of the peeling lacquer coat over some parts of the stummel and the stain has been washed away at a two places. I shall have to remove this coat and thereafter decide on my further course of action. The mortise and shank internals are clean and fresh. This should turn out to be an easy project requiring just a rub down with restoration balm followed by wax polish to bring life back in to the stummel. The oxidation on the vulcanite stem has been greatly reduced thanks to all the efforts put in by Abha. A bit of sanding to remove the deeper oxidation followed by micromesh polishing cycle should add a nice shine to the stem. The stem internals are nice and clean with a free airflow. I would need to refresh the stem logo to make it pop out on the shining black stem once done.THE PROCESS
The first thing I addressed was the lacquer coating that remained on the stummel surface. I wiped the stummel surface with cotton swabs and alcohol. However, the coating persisted. Next I decided to use a stronger solvent. With cotton swabs and acetone, I cleaned the stummel surface. I was able to remove the lacquer coating completely from the surface.Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance. However, I noticed that my finger tips had blackened with stain which was coming off. I thought that I would let it rest and dry out and thereafter check again. A couple of hours later, I wiped the stummel with a soft cotton cloth and to my chagrin, I noticed that the cloth had blackened at the spots which had come in contact with the stummel surface and the stain had come off from the surface too. I decided to heat the stummel surface with a heat gun and reset the stain. Should this trick fail, I had made up my mind to go the “full Monty” way. I would completely remove the old stain and apply a fresh coat of stain and the works!! And this was supposed to be a simple restoration!!I heat the stummel surface with my heat gun and set it aside to cool down naturally. Half an hour later, the stummel had cooled and I reapplied the “Before and After Restoration Balm”. This time there were no blackened finger tips. What a relief this revelation was!! Now that the stummel was nearly complete, I turned my attention to the stem refurbishing. With a folded piece of a 220 grit sand paper, I sand down the stem surface. I followed it up by sanding it with 400, 600, 800 grit sand papers and finally with a piece of 0000 grade steel wool. This serves to remove the deep seated oxidation and also reduces the sanding marks of the more abrasive sand papers. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the oxidation and sanding dust from the surface. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil over the stem and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite.I followed up the sanding regime with micromesh polishing to bring a shine on the stem surface. I wet sand the stem with 1500 to 12000 girt micromesh pads. This time around I could not continue with my experimentation that I had spelled out in my previous posts, as due to voltage fluctuations, my hand held rotary tool stabilizer had a burn out and had to be sent for repairs. I rub a small quantity of olive oil in to the stem surface to hydrate it and set it aside.The stem looks nice and shinning black, however, the stem logo is yet to be refreshed and highlighted. With a white fine tipped correction pen, I filled the crossed Barling stamping and once it had dried a bit, with a toothpick, I scrapped off excess of the correction ink. The stamping is now completely refreshed and sits proudly on the top of the saddle.With three pipes on the home stretch and a week long wait later, my rotary tool came back from repairs. I was held up just for this piece of equipment!! To apply the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks beautiful and is waiting for a new home!!