Tag Archives: restaining

Restemming and Transforming a “Hialeah” Pipe From My Inherited Lot

Blog by Paresh Deshpande

After I had completed the Butz- Choquin A Metz No. 2 pipe (Restoring An Early Butz Choquin “A Metz” No. 2 | rebornpipes), I rummaged through the fast dwindling pile of 40 odd pipes that Abha, my wife, had cleaned up for me to complete my part of further repairs and restoration work.

The pipe that I have selected is one from the huge lot of my grandfather’s pipes that I had inherited. This pipe had always caught my fancy on account of the wonderfully thin, tightly packed straight grains that are seen all around the stummel and shank and also due to its peculiar shape, a rather tall bowl (but not a stack!) with a longish shank and an equally long saddle stem. Overall, it definitely looked quirky to say the least, it’s a LOVAT shape on account of the round shank and a saddle bit but not a classic LOVAT since the stem is as long as the shank!! It’s the carver’s take on a classic shape, I guess. However, there was something about the stem that seemed wrong at the first glance. It was for this reason that the pipe always fell out of favor in the lineup of pipes for restoration. Here are a couple of pictures of the pipe that shows the pipe before Abha, my wife, had done the initial cleaning. From the pictures below, it is amply evident that the stem is not aligned straight in reference to the shank, but is skewed more towards the left (evidenced in the second picture).This pipe has some beautiful densely packed thin straight, also referred to as “Angel hair” grains all around the tall bowl and over the long shank surface. The only stampings seen on this pipe are over the left shank surface and is stamped as “HIALEAH” over “ALGERIAN BRIAR”. These stampings are crisp and clear. The long saddle vulcanite stem is devoid of any stampings.I looked for information on this brand on rebornpipes.com. Unfortunately the search yielded no results (a surprise for sure!!). Next I turned to pipedia.org to understand and establish the provenance of the pipe brand. There is not much information that was noted in the article, but was sufficient to give me an idea of the brand and period of operations. Here is the link to the webpage:-

Hialeah – Pipedia  I quote from the article; “From what I’ve found on the web HIALEAH pipes were sold by Whitehall Products Co. (a division of Helme Products) prior to 1975. Whitehall was in Wheeling, West Virginia, and Helme somewhere in New Jersey. All I’ve seen have been made of Algerian Briar and are reported to be great smokers”.

Thus, this pipe definitely dates to pre-1975

Initial Visual Inspection
Abha, in a deviation from her thumb rule of not taking any “BEFORE” pictures, had taken a few pictures of the pipe to highlight the condition of the pipe before she commenced her initial clean up for me.

The chamber had a thick layer of cake with heavy overflow of lava over the rim top surface. The inner rim edge appears to be uneven while the outer rim edge appears sans any damage. The exact condition of the edges will be ascertained once the lava overflow from the rim top surface is removed and the surface is cleaned up. The draught hole is in the dead center and at the bottom of the chamber and this construction should make it a great smoke.The stummel surface was covered in dust and grime of years of usage and subsequent storage. The stummel has developed dark hues of browns and has scratches and dings over the surface, most notably to the heel and front of the stummel. However under all the dust and grime, beautiful tight Angel hair grains are awaiting to be brought to the fore. There are a couple of fills, one to the front of the stummel and another to the shank very close to the stampings. The mortise has traces of old oils and tars, restricting the air flow through the mortise. Whether to refresh the fills or let them be will be decided once the stummel is cleaned and the fills are checked for softness thereafter.  The long vulcanite saddle stem is heavily oxidized with minor tooth chatter in the bite zone. The stem is skewed to the left immediately after the saddle portion of the stem. This flaw makes me believe it to be a shaping issue more than anything and further points to the likelihood of the stem to be handmade. Steve also concurred with my assumptions when we discussed the restoration during one of our video calls. He also pointed out that there was no way to right this wrong other than replacing the stem.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…
The cleaned up pipes presents a very clear picture of what needs to be done to restore this pipe to a decent and smokable condition. I really cannot thank Abha enough for all the help and support that she extends me in my pursuance of this hobby. I proceed to carry out my appreciation of the work that needs to be done on this pipe to restore it.

As with all the cleaned pipes that Abha packs, there was a note in the zip lock pouch with issues that she had observed in the pipe. The first point was that the chamber has developed heat fissures. The second point was that she was not happy with the shape of the stem and it appeared odd. Also the seating of the stem in to the mortise was very loose. Here are the pictures of the pipe as I had received. The chamber does appear to have developed heat fissures (indicated with red arrows). The rim top surface is darkened all around, more so at the back of the rim surface. The inner rim edge is uneven while the outer edge is slightly charred in 1 o’clock direction and is encircled in yellow. Close scrutiny of the chamber walls made me realize that there is still a very thin layer of cake in the chamber and it is my experience that this gives an appearance of heat fissures! Only after the cake has been completely removed will I be able to confirm presence of heat fissures or otherwise.The stummel is nice and clean but would benefit from polishing to rejuvenate and bring a nice shine over the briar surface. There is a large fill over the left shank surface and very close to the stampings (encircled in yellow). The fill is solid and I wouldn’t take the risk of refreshing it due to its proximity to the stampings. There are a few dings to the front of the bowl (encircled in red) that would need to be addressed. The mortise has no chips or cracks to the shank face/ shank. There are a few minor pockets of old oils and tars that are seen on the walls of the mortise and would require some invasive measures to eliminate completely.Since the stem would be replaced, I shall not dwell in detail about the stem condition, but am including a few pictures of the stem to show its condition as well as give the readers a perspective about the incorrect shape imparted to the stem at the time it was crafted.The Process
The first issue to be addressed in this project was to replace the original poorly crafted stem. Steve and I went through my small stash of spare stems and selected a small bent saddle stem that was stamped on the left as “ROPP” on a steel roundel. This stem would impart a classic Lovat shape to the pipe and vastly improve the aesthetics of the pipe, or so we thought. Here is how the pipe looks with this bent saddle stem. The tenon would need to be sanded down for it to seat in to the mortise and this would be the trickiest part of this stem replacement. I would have to be very careful to sand the tenon evenly and equally from all around, frequently checking for a snug fit in to the mortise. The replacement vulcanite saddle stem is in perfect condition with no damage to the button or in the bite zone, save for some minor oxidation and very light tooth chatter. I would need to first straighten out the stem followed by sanding the tenon for a snug fit in to the mortise. Only once these issues are addressed would I be progressing to removing the “ROPP” stamped steel plate and filling the area left behind by the removal of the steel plate.

I began the restoration of this pipe by first addressing the suspected heat fissures in the chamber walls. I worked on the stummel by reaming the chamber with a PipNet pipe reamer using the size 3 head. With my fabricated knife, I removed the remaining carbon deposit. Once the cake was reamed back to the bare briar, I used a 150 grit sand paper followed by 220 grit sand paper to remove all the traces of remaining cake and also to smooth out the inner walls of the chamber surface. Finally, to remove the residual carbon dust, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. I was very pleased to note that the chamber walls are sans any damage.With the bowl internals clean, I move to clean the exterior of the stummel, specially the rim top surface. I used a hard bristled tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil soap to scrub the stummel and rim top. After the scrub with oil soap, I washed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the stummel surface was clean and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. The smooth stummel surface has cleaned up nicely with the beautiful Angel hair grain patterns on full display. There are two major fills that are now plainly visible (encircled in green), but they are solid and I shall avoid refreshing them. The darkening and unevenness of the inner rim edge is evident and over reamed in the 1 o’clock direction (encircled in yellow). The ghost smells are completely eliminated and the pipe now smells fresh, odorless and clean. The shank air way is nice and open. I am sure that the pipe will turn out to be a fantastic smoker with a full wide and open draw. Now that I had a fair idea of the extent of topping required to the rim surface, I top the rim on a piece of 220 grit sand paper to address the rim surface darkening, dents and dings. I addressed the uneven inner edge by creating a light bevel to inner edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and index finger. To further smooth out the scratches left behind by the abrasive 220 girt sand paper, I top the rim surface on a piece of 400 grit sand paper. I am very happy at the way the chamber and rim top surface appears at this point in restoration. Next, I decided to address the dents and dings on the stummel surface, notably to the front of the bowl (encircled in pastel blue). Using a whitener pen, I marked all the major areas with dents and dings as I had decided to leave the minor ones as they were. I heated my fabricated knife over the flame of a candle, placed a wet Turkish hand towel over the marked areas and steamed out the dents by placing the heated knife over the towel. The steam generated by placing a hot knife on the wet towel helps the briar to expand within these dents and dings, making for a smooth and even surface. To further even out the remaining dings, I lightly sand the entire stummel with a folded piece of worn out 180 grit sand paper. The stummel appears much better and smooth at this juncture. With the stummel repairs completed, I turned my attention to the replacement stem. The first thing that needed to be done was to straighten the stem. I cleaned the stem internals first and inserted a regular pipe cleaner through the stem airway. This prevents the airway from collapsing when the stem is heated to straighten it. With a heat gun, I heated the stem at the point where the stem was bent, rotating the stem frequently to ensure even heating. Once the stem was pliable, I straightened the stem with my hands by placing it on the flat table. After the stem had cooled down sufficiently, I held it under cold running water to set the straightened shape. Now that the stem was straightened, the next step was to ensure a snug fit of the tenon in to the mortise. Since the tenon was not too large as compared to the mortise, I got down to the arduous and time consuming task of manually sanding down the tenon with a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper till I had achieved a perfect seating of the tenon in to the mortise. My previous experience had taught me an invaluable lesson; “SAND ONCE AND CHECK TWICE”!! Here I was extra careful and vigilant while sanding the sides of the tenon and frequently checked the alignment of the stem airway, the shank airway and finally, the draught hole. Excess sanding of any one side of the tenon disturbs this alignment even though the seating may appear to be snug and seamless. I gave a final check to the progress being made and the seating was perfectly snug with all the airways perfectly aligned. I am very happy with the progress up to this point!!Close scrutiny of the seating of the tenon in to the mortise under camera magnification revealed a slight gap at the stem and shank face junction. With a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper, I sand the base of the tenon until I had achieved a seamless and flushed seating of the stem. Discerning Readers must have noticed a dark line starting from the shank end and extending for about an inch and a half towards the bowl (indicated with green arrows). I too thought (with a cringe) that the shank had cracked in the process, but let me assure you that the shank is not cracked and is in fact a dark strand of straight grain…that was really a big relief!!Once I had achieved a snug fit of the tenon in to the mortise, I checked for the flush seating of the stem face with that of the shank and realized that the stem diameter is larger than that of the shank and the extent of sanding that would be required. This would need to be addressed.   But before I could address this issue, it was necessary that the metal plate bearing the ROPP stamping be removed and the cavity created, be filled out. Once this was done, matching the entire saddle portion with the shank face would be accurate and time saving. Using dental pick and a sharp, thin paper cutter, I removed the steel plate and cleaned the gouged out surface with a cotton pad and isopropyl alcohol. I evened out the surrounding area with a worn out piece of 180 grit sand paper and filled the cavity with a mix of CA superglue and black charcoal powder. I set the fill to cure overnight.The next day, I sand the filled cavity with a piece of 180 grit sand paper till I had achieved a rough match with the surrounding saddle surface of the stem. The filled area would be perfectly matched when I sand the entire saddle portion to match the shank face.Now, to match the stem face with the shank face, I unite the stem and the shank. With a sanding drum mounted on to my hand held rotary tool, I sand the saddle portion of the stem till I had achieved a near perfect matching of the stem face with that of the shank face. I further fine tune the match perfectly by sanding it with a 220 followed by 400 grit sand paper. The match is perfect and the pipe as a whole is now looking very nice with the new stem. It still looks very plain and would need a dash of a little bling to complete the transformation!! Also, there is a need to refill the cavity left behind by the steel plate as I noticed a few ugly air pockets. I refilled it with CA superglue and charcoal powder and set it aside for the fill to cure. To add a little bling to the appearance of the pipe, I decided to attach a brass band at the shank end. I selected a band that was a perfect fit and glued it over the shank end with CA superglue and set it aside to cure.I subjected the stummel to a complete cycle of micromesh polish, dry sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I paid greater attention to polish the rim top surface and the bevel created on the inner rim edge. I wiped the stummel with a moist cloth after every grit pad to remove the sanding dust left behind by the pads. I am happy with the progress being made till now. Just look at the beautiful grain on this piece of briar!! The briar has taken on a nice deep shine with brown of the stummel and the darker brown stains to the grain contrasting beautifully. I really like the patina that is seen over the stummel surface. However, the rim top surface appears lighter than the rest of the stummel due to the topping. I stained the lighter hued rim top surface with a combination of Dark Brown over Chestnut stain pens. I set the stummel aside for the stain to set. The stain combination has helped in perfect blending of the rim top with the rest of the stummel.Next, I turned my attention back to the stem. I began the process of final fine tuning of matching the stem face with the shank face, shaping the saddle for a sharper match with the shank flow, sanding the refill in the saddle and bringing a nice shine to the stem surface by sanding with 320, 400, 600, 800 and 1000 grit sandpapers. I had attached the stem to the shank during the entire sanding job so that I do not end up shouldering the stem face. The closer I came to the perfect match, the higher grit sand paper I used. A lot of patient and diligent work, I reached the point where I felt “no more sanding… this is the perfect seating and perfect Lovat profile!!”. My mantra “LESS IS MORE” was also playing at the back of my mind. I was very pleased with my efforts of transforming the stem as I had achieved a perfect snug seating of the stem in to the mortise and a perfectly matching shank and stem face!!

To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I went through the complete set of sand papers and micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. I wiped the stem with moist cloth after each pad. At the end of micromesh cycle, I polished the stem with “Before and After Fine & Extra Fine” paste. The finished stem is shown below.Turning back to the stummel, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep 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 with the Angel hair grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The contrast of the natural lighter brown patina of the stummel with the dark browns of the grain adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel. To check and verify the correctness of the alignment of the stem airway, the tenon opening, shank/mortise airway and finally through the draught hole, I did the PIPE CLEANER TEST.  The pipe cleaner passed through cleanly and without any obstruction from the slot end right through the draught hole. I checked the draw and though it was smooth, it felt a tad bit constricted. I further opened the draw by funneling the tenon end with a thin sanding drum mounted on the hand held rotary tool. The draw is now silky smooth and effortless!! Unfortunately, I missed out on taking pictures of the process, but I am sure the readers have a general idea of what had been done.I have now reached the homestretch in this restoration project. To complete the restoration, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks from the stem surface that remain from the sanding. I mounted another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. 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 with a new brass band looks amazingly beautiful and is ready for its new innings with me and be enjoyed for a long time.

Rebirthing a Republic Era Peterson’s Kapruf 62 Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

Today is rainy, chilly day in Vancouver. I know in comparison to where many of you live it is not cold but to us it is. It is also the kind of day that my old friend Spencer would have been next to my work table begging for a treat and keeping company. I can’t believe that he died almost four months ago now. I miss him a lot on days like today. The next pipe I have chosen is another Peterson’s Billiard. It is a chunky sandblast pipe but it also was a very dirty pipe. It also came to us from Garson, Ontario, Canada. The grime was ground into the light grooves of the sandblast finish on the bowl sides. I love the way the contrast of the brown and black stains gave the shallow blast a sense of depth. The stain is almost tiger striped. It was faintly stamped on the flat underside of the shank and read Peterson’s [over] Kapruf. To the left of that on the heel was the shape number 62. To the right of the Kapruf stamp it read Made in the Republic of Ireland (three lines). This pipe must have been another favourite as it had been well smoked. There was a thick cake in the bowl and an overflow of lava and darkening on the rim top. The inner edge of the bowl was badly damaged with a chunk missing on the front and the right side. The stem was oxidized, calcified and had deep tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside on and near the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before his cleanup work. Jeff took photos of the rim top and stem to show the general condition of the pipe. The bowl is badly damaged and heavily caked. The rim top and edges have a lava overflow does little to obscure the damage to the inner edge. The photos of the stem show that it was oxidized, calcified and has deep tooth marks on the top and underside near the button.   Jeff took a photo of the bowl sides and heel to show the blast that was around this bowl. It is a shallow sandblast but the choice of stain adds depth to the appearance of the bowl. He took photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It is clear and readable and reads as noted above.I turned to “The Peterson Pipe” by Mark Irwin and Gary Malmberg to get some background on the Kapruf line. On page 306 it had the following information.

Kapruf and “Kapruf” (c.1922-87) Sandblast (hence the name, Kapp-rough) P-lip or fishtail mouthpiece, in catalogs from 1940-87. Early documented specimens stamped IRISH over FREE STATE, no Eire specimens documented. Mid-century specimens may be stamped LONDON MADE [over] ENGLAND or MADE IN ENGLAND forming a circle or MADE IN [over] IRELAND, all dating no later than 1970. Those of recent vintage stamped MADE IN THE[over] REPUBLIC [over]OF IRELAND.

I knew that I was working on a KAPRUF that was made between 1970-1987 as it is stamped MADE IN THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND as noted above. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

Jeff had done a great job cleaning up the pipe as usual. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and cut back the cake back to the bare briar. He cleaned up the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the finish. He worked on the rim top lava and darkening with the soap and tooth brush. He scrubbed the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer. He washed it off with warm water to remove the deoxidizer. The pipe looked far better when it arrived.    I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show how well it had cleaned up. The rim top photo shows some heavy damage on the right top and inner edge. There is also damage on the front inner edge. The sandblast on the rim top is virtually destroyed. It will take some work to rebuild and refinish it. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the deep tooth marks on the surface near the button.I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. You can see that it is stamped as noted above. It is faint but readable.I took the pipe apart and took a photo of the pipe. It is a good looking pipe and has an interesting shallow sandblast on the bowl.I started my work on the pipe by repairing the damage on the inner edge and rim top. I rebuilt the inner edge and the rim top damage with clear CA glue and briar dust. I put the glue in place and used a dental spatula to apply the briar dust on top of the glue. I layered it on until I was looking far better.  I wrapped a dowel with 220 grit sandpaper (virtually the same diameter as the chamber of the bowl). I inserted it in the bowl and turned it until the edge was round again. I worked on the inner edge itself with a folded piece of sandpaper to give the rim edge a slight bevel. That took care of the damaged edge very well. The photos below tell the story.  With the edge and top cleaned up it was time to try to match the rim top to the sandblast finish on the bowl. I used my Dremel with the two dental burs shown in the photo below. I carefully attempted to make it look like a light blast. When I got it to the point I was happy I stained it with an Oak and a Cherry stain pen. I intermix the streaks of both pens to approximate the colour of the briar on the bowl sides. I touched up some of the spots that showed up in the photo above with a Black Sharpie Pen to further blend it in. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes 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 “painted” the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the dents. I forgot to take photos of the process. However it worked very well and I was able to lift them significantly. What remained I filled in with Black Super Glue and sprayed with an accelerator to keep it from running everywhere. I set the stem aside to cure. Once the repair cured I smooth out the repair and recut the edge of the button with a small file. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the repairs into the rest of the stem. I started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.    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 Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine.      I am excited to finish this Peterson’s Kapruf 62 Billiard, Made in Ireland. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. It is fun to see what the polished smooth rim top and the sandblast bowl looks like with the black vulcanite taper stem. This Classic looking Peterson’s Kapruf Sandblast Billiard feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼  inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 36grams/1.27oz. It is a beautiful pipe and one that is already sold, or as Dal calls it “commissioned”. The gentleman who asked for it has the first right of refusal. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog.

A True Test – A Cracked Acrylic Ferrule and Shank Break to Restore a Rusticated Butz-Choquin Costaud 1597

Blog by Dal Stanton

This Butz-Choquin Costaud came to me from the auction block in January of 2017 as one in a Lot of 13 pipes from a seller in Nevada.  Several of these pipes have already found their way to new stewards who found them in online ‘Help Me!’ baskets in the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’ collection.  It was in the ‘Dreamers’ section that Craig spied the BC Costaud 1597 and reached out to me about commissioning the BC.  The BC Costaud is at the 12 o’clock position in the picture below.

I was interested to find out from Craig later that he lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where I also met a young woman at Covenant College atop Lookout Mountain, who in time, became my wife – I married up!  Few in the US haven’t seen signs, bird houses and barn sides with the famous, ‘See Rock City’ or ‘Ruby Falls’ both of which are located on Lookout Mountain overlooking Chattanooga.  I was interested to hear that Craig was also an automotive engineer at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga and along with enjoying pipes he races cars on the weekends!  I appreciate Craig’s patience and the pipe he commissioned is now on the worktable.  Here are some pictures of the attractive Butz-Choquin Costaud:   The nomenclature is stamped on the underside shank panel.  The chiseled cursive, ‘Butz-Choquin’ is stamped over ‘Costaud’.  Below this is stamped a very ghosted, ‘ST. CLAUDE-FRANCE’.  A quick look in Google Translate renders ‘Costaud’ as ‘Strong’ in English.  I liked the other adjectival renderings offered: beefy, hefty, husky, and strapping.  The pipe’s deep, rustic, carved style fits this name.If one does a quick search of the BC Costaud line, one discovers quickly that this line was offered by the French pipe maker in many different shapes and each with the very distinctive carved rustication and the same acrylic shank cap.  Here are a few examples from the search results.  The shape number is listed in a picture of BC pipes in the Pipedia Butz-Choquin article.  The 1597 is an attractive, stout square shanked paneled Billiard with a saddle stem friction mounted.  The only difference in the general 1597 shape with the Costaud is that the Costaud’s stem is a friction mounted fishtail.Looking at the condition of the BC Costaud, the obvious elephant in the room is the cracked acrylic ferrule or shank cap.  The crack appears to be a trauma that opened on the left side of the cap and followed the bottom of the ‘BC’ stamping perfectly.  My guess is that the break was caused by the stem hanging on something and the force on the acrylic snapped it.  It is only on the left side and I want to keep it that way!Craig commissioned a striking pipe.  The cracked acrylic ferrule gets the attention quickly and overshadows other issues.  The chamber needs to be cleaned of the cake buildup and the rusticated rim has blackened lava overflow that needs cleaning.  The rusticated stummel is eye catching but needs cleaning in the deep crooks and crevasses of the briar surface.  The fishtail stem has light oxidation and tooth chatter on the upper and lower bit. To begin the restoration of this Butz-Choquin Costaud, I start with the fishtail stem.  The airway is cleaned using a pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 99%.To begin working on the light oxidation in the vulcanite stem, 0000 grade steel wool scrubs the surface with Soft Scrub.  I do this in preparation of putting the stem in a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer.Next, after rinsing the stem with water, the Fishtail is put in the Deoxidizer with other pipes in the queue.  The stem is left in the Deoxidizer for several hours.After the stem has soaked for some time, a stiff wire helps to fish out the Fishtail stem and drain the excess Deoxidizer.  I also squeegee the fluid off the stem using my fingers.A pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 99% is run through the airway to push out the fluid and to clean.  I cotton pad wetted with alcohol is used to wipe off the raised oxidation from the stem surface.Finally, to help condition the vulcanite, paraffin oil, a mineral oil, is applied to the vulcanite rubber stem.  The stem is then put to the side to absorb the oil.Before going through the process of cleaning the stummel, I decide to move forward with repairing the acrylic ferrule.  I’m doing this first because what often is the case is that during the cleaning process, which uses water, the briar wood in the mortise expands.  I don’t know for certain if this would be the case with the shank during the cleaning process, but I would rather repair the shank cap now than risk a more difficult fix because of a changed environment.  The cap has separated or moved down the shank.  The result is that there is a large gap between the external shank edge and the acrylic shank cap. The first thing needed is to remove the shank cap from the shank.  I need to be careful because I don’t want to put too much pressure on the acrylic as I’m trying to remove it.  I don’t know if old glue used when the cap was originally seated may be hindering an easy removal.  My first attempts to pull and then hand-twist the cap off were unsuccessful.  It feels like it’s glued – no movement at all.  The next thing I try is to wedge first a flat dental spoon into the gap and gingerly try to pry loose the acrylic cap.  Next, the sharp edge of a pocketknife was wedged into the gap to apply gentle even pressure to break the cap loose.  This was not easy avoiding damage to the briar shank and further carnage to the shank cap!As I puzzle and pull and puzzle more, another mystery is birthed.  With the gap between the briar and acrylic, my assumption is that the cap has partially become unseated – perhaps someone was trying to remove it and that caused the acrylic to break?  I would guess that there would also be a gap internally – between the acrylic and the beginning of the briar mortise.  To test my assumption on a second gap, a sharp dental probe is inserted into the mortise and the internal surface is scraped with the point I am expecting to detect another gap indicating that the ferrule had shifted down.  I find no internal gap.  The surface between briar and acrylic is smooth.  This is important because I had been thinking, if I’m unable safely to remove the shank cap then I could try to reseat the shank cap by pressing it back into place on the shank and doing my best to close the gap from the acrylic break.  Yet, if there is no internal gap, there’s no room for any movement of the shank cap to be reseated flush with the shank.  It’s hard to believe a BC pipe left the Saint Claude workshop with a gap that large between the cap and the briar shank….  Three ideas begin to float in my mind  regarding removal of the ferrule.  First, to put the stummel in the freezer.  This is a general method of unsticking things that are stuck.  When the material cools, it contracts and often loosens stuck things.  The second idea, if the freezer method doesn’t help, is to drip some acetone in the gap and the crack.  If the shank cap is stuck because of being glued, acetone can help break down the glue.  This might help, but I’m doubtful.  The third idea is that the acrylic could be heated with a hot air gun and made more pliable – like vulcanite.  This might avoid another break.

First, into the freezer and we’ll see what happens.  Well, the next morning arrived and I was hopeful that the shank cap would break free after cooling and contracting.  To keep the cap stable, I wrap it in a felt cloth and put it in the vice with a gentle snugness.  With the stummel extended, I very gingerly apply a twisting pressure on the shank with hope that the acrylic cap will break free.  Much to my chagrin, the cap did not break free but instead the wood shank insert broke off.  Oh my….  I look at the following pictures of the carnage as one is often drawn to look at a car crash on the interstate…. What to do?  After recovering from the initial nauseated feeling, my first thoughts were to drill out the wood inside the now freed shank cap, to repair the acrylic crack and then figure out the next step.  It did not take long after these initial thoughts to realize I needed to reach out to Steve with pictures to get his feedback and direction – the Sage of rebornpipes!  I recall writing a few years ago in the ‘Helps for Newbies’ section of The Pipe Steward website, that mistakes often are the best way to learn and recording mistakes or mishaps in the writeups helps others and expands one’s abilities in the pipe restoration world.  I have not tackled anything like this before, so the opportunities are there to learn!  Recording the troubleshooting thought processes I believe, are helpful to learn as well.  Here is my initial email to Steve with the above pictures outlining the challenges as I saw it:

Hey Steve,

Ran into a bit of a snag and need your advice.  This pipe came to me with the cracked acrylic shank cap.  My attempts to remove it from the shank obviously failed with me breaking off the briar portion inserted into the cap.  Now I’m looking at cleaning out the wood glued in the cap and setting an insert into the shank that will form the new ‘post’ for the cap.  This is something I’ve not done before and reaching out to you and Charles was the first step.  Of course, I need to clean the wood out of the cap and close and repair the cap.  To connect –  I have the acrylic or Delrin(?) push/pull tenons on hand, but that doesn’t seem like the right configuration.  I know that you and Charles have used Delrin – but I’m not sure what this process is.  Another thought is to take an old stem and flatten the shank facing and counter sink holes in the briar to seat a new mount of sorts for the cap….  Any thoughts to steer me in the right direction – an old write up?  Thanks!


Steve’s response came quickly:

Not sure what Charles would do but my process is simple.

  1. DO NOT Clean out the wood from the shank extension.
  2. I would take one of your tenons and shape it with your dremel to provide a tube or you can use stainless.
  3. Once you have that glue it in the shank end and let it set.
  4. Give the extending end a coat of glue (epoxy probably is best.)
  5. Put glue on the cracked ends and clamp it together and let it cure
  6. Fill in the split in the extension with super glue. Once it is filled in smooth out the shank extension and reshape it


My response and further questions to hone in on a path forward:

Thanks, Steve.  So, you would NOT remove the wood in the shank cap to try to close the acrylic crack gap?  Also, there’s a gap between the extension and the shank before I broke it.  You would leave that??  Essentially, you would not have tried removing the cap to do these repairs.  I’m not sure how the cap would have come off cleanly having been glued on.  Fill the acrylic crack and leave the gap?


I appreciate Steve’s experience which provides an important component in dealing with the myriad of problems and possibilities that are ‘part and parcel’ of pipe restoration: improvisation.  With more information and thought, Steve was able to help me bring into focus the options:

Dal…. one thought since you mentioned the gap is to flatten out the broken piece on the shank and extension to smooth out the fit to the shank.

If you want to try to bind the crack in the shank extension since it is already off you could drill out the wood and try gluing and clamping the cracked shank extension.

On the Danish ones with the joint is typically done with a threaded tenon in the shank and the piece can be wiggled free and unscrewed… This did not allow for that.

As something completely different you could take a nice piece of smooth hardwood (walnut) and make a similar piece drill and anchor it to the shank as noted before. That would look really good and be your own touch.

My thought processes continue – I had already contemplated flattening the shank facing to remove that gap as Steve suggests.  The last option that Steve put forward of fashioning a piece of walnut or another hardwood and seating it into the shank would probably be the classiest repair but I’m not sure my tools are precision enough to drill out the shank to create the counter sink space for the hardwood ‘plug’.  Steve also mentioned removing the wood from the cap and repairing the acrylic gap, which was my first inclination.  This approach would also necessitate then, fashioning a wood plug to then seat the friction mounted Fishtail stem.

The bottom line is that I cannot suffer leaving the acrylic break there and not try to repair it! – especially since this was the primary reason for trying to remove the cap in the first place.  With Steve’s input, the course that I will follow is to fashion a hardwood joint.  Whether I simply drill a counter-sink hole in the shank or attempt the Danish method of threading the joint, I will continue to consider.   I do have a tap & die set that I’ve never used, and this would be a great opportunity perhaps!  The question between these two approaches – counter-sink hole along or threaded – has to do with how much wiggle room there will be when cementing the joint in the shank making sure the cap seats flush against the shank facing and not again, leave gaps.  Whichever way I end up proceeding, the first step is to drill out the briar wood that remains in the cap.

To remove the briar remains from the shank cap, I begin the process with drill bits.  Using a bit just larger than will freely pass through the airway, I hand turn the bit to ream out the wood a little at a time.  I then graduate to two larger bits, hand turning and expanding the bite each time and removing a little more briar.I also used different burrs mounted on the rotary tool to fine tune the clearing.  The following picture is after quite a bit of time of gradually removing the briar without further damaging the shank cap.  You can see just a small amount of wood left against the acrylic lip marking the beginning of the mortise where the stem is seated.These next pictures show all the tools used for the mini-project and the finished job.  Success with the first phase. Next, the crack in the acrylic needs to be glued.  The acrylic shank cap is placed in a small desk vice cradled by two cotton pads to protect the acrylic. The vice will provide constant pressure to allow the CA glue to cure fully through the night.The cap is situated lower in the grips.  I do this so that the press of the vice will focus on the top of the cap to close the gap and not put pressure on the entire cap.I  use Loctite Precision Pen semi-gel CA glue to lay a line down the crack to avoid too much excess on the acrylic.  Then a toothpick is used to push down and spread the CA glue on the crack edge to get maximum coverage and hopefully, effect.The vice is then gently closed to close the gap.  I’m careful not to put too much pressure on the cap with the vice – I don’t want it to crack again!  The day has come to an end and the lights go out allowing the glue to fully cure through the night. The next morning, I am anxious to release the vice and hopefully, the acrylic cap won’t snap open!  As hoped, the cap repair is successful – yes! Next, 240 sanding paper is used to surgically remove the excess glue from the acrylic surface.  My caution is to do hopefully little damage to the ‘BC’ cap stamp removing the glue.  After beginning to remove the excess patch material sanding with 240 paper, I noticed a separation in the crack.  It seems that the extended time the acrylic cap was cracked, the acrylic was memorizing the expanded orientation.  The excess glue over the crack was serving as reinforcement for the patch and when removed, the patch faltered.I may need to transition from CA glue to using an epoxy.  While the patch is still half-way holding, the thought came to mind about possibly relieving the expanded memorized orientation by heating the acrylic.  The cap is positioned in the vice with the crack away from the hot air gun.  The opposite side of the crack needs to relax.  With the vice gently closed on the crack side, the opposite side is heated.  If the theory is correct, as the tight side of the cap heats, the acrylic becomes more supple and relax and hopefully will un-memorize the broken condition – like a splint.  After heating for some minutes, the cap cools.Amazingly, this works like a charm!  The gap has closed, and the expansion torque has been released.  I wish I had thought of this before applying the patch.  Now, I may need to redo the patch but the complication with that is cleaning away the old patch material.  I’ll continue sanding with 240 to remove the excess and see how it looks.I continue to remove the old patch material with 240 grade paper trying to salvage as much of the BC stamping as possible – though I know that it will not remain unscathed.  The good news now is that with the torque issue resolved, when the cap is mounted on a newly fashioned briar plug later, there should be no stress on the acrylic.  The cap will simply go over the plug like a glove and glued in place.  The mounting and the glue on the inside will again reinforce the patch.  So, the crack repair doesn’t necessarily need to be uber strong but becomes more of a cosmetic issue – in theory!The sanding with 240 paper is complete and I continue sanding over the patch with 600 grade paper and then 0000 grade steel wool.Next, the entire acrylic ferrule is sanded with the full regimen of micromesh pads – from 1500 to 12000.Putting the cap aside for now, I use a sanding drum mounted on the rotary tool to remove the excess briar protruding out of the shank after the break. Even though it’s a bit anti-climactic, before continuing with the shank repair, I want to clean the stummel first.  After the shank cap is remounted, the last thing I’ll want to do is backtrack and start cleaning!  The chamber has carbon cake build up and to give the briar a fresh start, the chamber is reamed with the Pipnet Reaming Kit.  After taking a fresh picture of the chamber, reaming starts with the smallest of the blade heads and then the next larger one.  After this, the chamber walls are scraped with the Savinelli Fitsall Tool and then sanded with 240 sanding paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen for leverage. After wiping the bowl, and inspection of the chamber reveals healthy briar.Next, undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap is used to scrub the rusticated stummel and rim surface.  The rim has some lava flow and the distinctively carved BC Costaud stummel will undoubtedly have grime and dirt in the cracks and crevasses. A bristled toothbrush is used to get in the nooks and crannies and a brass bristled brush also assists with cleaning the rim. The stummel then goes to the sink where shank brushes continue the cleaning in the mortise with warm to hot water using anti-oil liquid dishwashing soap.  After the stummel is thoroughly rinsed the results of the cleaning are examined.The rim cleaned to a degree.  There remains dark charring on the internal rim edge.The briar seems parched throughout the rusticated surface.  With this much carving, it’s difficult to tell if the finish has disappeared for the most part.  It does look a bit ragged.  The third picture below of the nomenclature on the underside of the stummel seems to indicate this is true with the splotchiness.  Before contemplating adding dye to the mix, I decide to apply Mark Hoover’s Before & After Restoration Balm to the stummel to see how the dry briar responds.  The Balm does amazing things to smooth briar and the rough surface on the Costaud bowl may perk up nicely.  To apply the Balm, I put Balm on my finger and work it into the crevasses.  I think this pipe has won the award for the most Balm needed to do the job!  After the Balm is thoroughly applied, I allow the stummel to sit for a time to allow the Balm to do its thing (pictured below).  When I have this ‘liquid gold’ (Mark’s price isn’t cheap 😊), none is wasted.  I grab a blasted billiard off my own pipe rack and work the excess Balm in.  There seems to be a smile on the Billiard’s face!After 15 minutes or so, the stummel is buffed with a microfiber cloth to remove the excess Balm.  It takes a bit of work, but the bowl looks better; and for now, I will think about adding any additional coloring.  I move on. Earlier, the Fishtail stem went through a Before & After Deoxidizer soak.  The stem looks good with no apparent residual oxidation.  The upper and lower bit have tooth chatter, and the vulcanite surface is rough.  To address the chatter, I use a Bic lighter and paint the bit with the flame to heat and expand the rubber compound.  As the vulcanite heats, it also expands reclaiming its original disposition or at least in part.   The before and after pictures show the results.  This stem responded well which means that sanding will now be less. Next, the entire stem is sanded with 240 grade paper with a special focus on removing any residual roughness on the bit from tooth chatter.The 240 sanding is followed by wet sanding with 600 grade sanding paper and then 0000 grade steel wool is applied.Next, the full regimen of 9 micromesh pads is used starting with wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400.  Following the wet sanding is dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  I apply Obsidian Oil between each set of 3 pads to further condition the stem and to guard the vulcanite from developing oxidation. While restoring the stem, I’ve had more time to consider the next steps in the shank cap repair.  Since this is my maiden voyage doing this kind of repair, the brain has been ticking through the process one step at a time weighing the logical sequential steps. To get a frame of reference, I measure the width of the former joint or ‘plug’ and the corresponding internal width of the shank cap with the result of 7/16 inches or 11mm.  The standard airway is 3/16 inches, and this airway corresponds.The depth of the internal cavity of the shank cap where the joint plug would be seated is 9/16 inches or 15mm.  If this length were to be generally doubled to the depth of the countersink hole to be drilled into the shank, the total length of the joint would be about 1 1/8 inch or 30mm.In Steve’s earlier email, he suggested using walnut as the joint material or a hardwood of some sort.  I do not have walnut on hand, but I do have another hardwood – cherry.  The cherry wood is a flat piece serving as a shelf end on my worktable!  It used to be an extender of a cherry wood table that became my worktable!I cut a piece off the end of the piece which should give me enough ‘meat on the bone’ for a small margin of error in drilling the airway through the center.  I set the block of cherry in the table vice, and eyeball the drill hoping for the best!The exit hole is about 1/16 inch off center, but I think there’s enough margin to make this work.With the airway drilling ‘good enough’ for now, with enough excess cherry to make it work, the next step is to sand off the corners of the block to form the rough cylinder that will more easily mount on the PIMO Tenon Turning Tool.  To do this I use a sanding drum on the rotary tool.The following pictures show the corner-by-corner progression of rounding the block. This should do!  Progress! The closest thing in my tool chest to a lathe is the PIMO Tenon Turning Tool I acquired from Vermont Freehand.  I have only used the tool to fashion vulcanite tenons mainly for fashioning Churchwarden stems for repurposed bowls.  I’m hopeful that I can make the PIMO work for this application on cherry wood.  The challenge will be holding the wood firmly and having to do a flip-flop in order to cut both ends.  The reach of the carbide cutting arm is only 5/8 of an inch which means the joint for the Costaud will need to be reversed and cut from both sides to do the job.  The length of the joint now will mean that as I cut, a ‘donut’ of uncut wood will be left in the middle.  My thinking is that as I cut both sides to establish the drilled airway as the center axis point, then I can shorten the joint a bit to be able to remove the ‘donut’.  The key, as in most everything about pipe restoration, is patience in the shaping process.  The picture shows the flip-flop issue – the short reach of the cutting arm.The carbide cutter arm is adjusted to barely contact the cherry wood and tightened.  The target diameter is about 7/16 inches or 11mm – the diameter of the acrylic shank caps interior.After a few cuts and flip-flops, the anticipated donut is forming.I discovered that using a pair of pliers to hold the end of the joint work better than with my hand.After several more flip-flop cuts the donut is fully formed and the airway now is the center axis point. The ‘meat on the bone’ cherry wood, has equalized the slightly off centered airway drilling.  You can see in the picture below that the donut is almost flat/flush on the bottom side, but the top side is fat.  The cutting from the PIMO Tool stayed true to the center axis point and removed the uneven wood (or meat on the bones!) around it.As I mentioned above, at some point I would shorten the joint so that the donut could be removed.  That time is now.  30mm or 1 1/8 inches is about the target length of the needed joint (sorry for going back and forth between the metric and the standard systems! After living in Europe over 25 years the metric is more usable and precise to me!). With the mark made and after mounting the cutting blade onto the rotary tool, the excess is removed.  A few more cuts with the PIMO Tool and the donut is removed and now I am working with a uniform dimension.Flip-flop cuts continue until I’m down close to the width of 11mm.  I cut a test cut and measure.  The measurement is right at 11mm. I finish the cut after measuring and the fit is perfect in the shank cap.  It has a slight amount of wiggle room which is what I want to not put outward pressure on the repaired acrylic and to allow a little fudge factor when it is permanently attached later.The next step is to expand the joint airway to match the airway diameter of the Costaud.  That diameter measures 3/16 inches. I hand turn the drilling by gripping the drill bit end in the vice and turning the joint plug.  I start with a drill bit slightly larger than the current hole and turn.  It takes a bit of time to hand turn the drilling.  I carefully used pliers when the drill bit was advanced in the hole and became difficult to turn. It took 3 drill bits to arrive at the 3/16 inches.  Using metric drill bits too gave a half-step between sizes that made it a little easier between steps. The length of the joint is long now.  I’ll deal with that later after drilling the counter sink hole in the shank.  I’m nervous about this next step.  The diameter of the joint is a bit less than the diameter of the original looking at the shank, but I’m ok with this.  The picture below shows the narrowness of the outer shank structure.  I’ll stay a little bit more on the safe side as I drill a counter-sink hole.Starting with a drill bit that is a bit larger than the airway, the end of the bit is clamped in the vice and the stummel is rotated.  I hand turn the stummel allowing the bit to follow the airway’s path of least resistance.  The depth I’m aiming for is about 1/2 inch and I mark off drill bit with tape.  The most difficult part is starting the drill bit making sure it’s as straight as possible and avoiding wobbles.  Once the bit starts tracking down the airway it becomes easier.  Ten drill bits later, I reach a comfortable diameter as the counter-sink hole moves closer to the outer shank edge.  I haven’t cracked the shank yet and I want to keep it that way!  The hole is a bit small, but I transition to sanding the joint for custom fit. To sand down the shank side of the joint, a coarse 120 grade paper is used.  The paper is pinched around the joint and rotated.  This keeps the joint in round. In time the joint begins to make its way into the shank and finally about 1/2 inch is inserted.  Success!  The pipe cleaner confirms continuity through the airway. What a relief.The next step is to sand down the stem side of the joint so that the acrylic shank cap fits over the joint and is flush with the shank.  With the joint seated a half-inch in the shank, the picture shows the excess length – about 1/16 inch.A sanding drum is used to do this.  After mounting the sanding drum on the rotary tool, the end of the joint is gradually sanded down to a good length. The progress is checked along the way to make sure too much isn’t removed. The pictures show the alignment of the joint airway.  As I’m looking at the airway, I begin to think about how the military mount fishtail stem will fit into the shank cap.I size up the stem’s tenon with the now repaired shank cap opening and another puzzle unfolds but another puzzle is possibly solved.  The tenon simply does not fit.  Nor did it ever fit this shank cap.  The opening of the cap is 1/4 inch wide.  The tenon is 1/16 inch larger. I don’t believe the stem is the original BC Costaud stem but apparently a replacement stem that’s a good match, but had been previously used.  A quick look at the internet shows that this replacement stem looks BC authentic by comparing with other Costauds (LINK).  This is good news indeed.  The puzzle that is possibly solved now is the cause of the acrylic cap’s break – the original stem was lost, and the replacement stem was forced into the shank cap mortise without proper sizing and there just wasn’t enough room to accommodate the oversized tenon and the acrylic gave way.  After this possible scenario played out fully in my cerebral cinema the question that came to mind was, ‘Why didn’t I catch this earlier?’  The answer followed – when the acrylic crack was wide open, of course it fit!  After fixing the crack and closing the gap, my assumption of the stem fit was grandfathered in.   But looking back at earlier pictures, the stem was not fitting – the tenon was not fully engaged seated in the mortise.  This I HAD assumed, too.  This earlier picture shows that the tenon was simply hanging out on the entry lip of the acrylic cap, not seated in the briar mortise inside the cap.The pathway forward is to glue the joint in the shank making sure that it lines up with the acrylic cap.  After this the acrylic cap is permanently attached.  The mortise needs to be drilled out to be flush with the cap opening and deep enough to receive the tenon.  The tenon of the stem then needs to be custom resized to be able to friction mount the mortise so that the tenon facing is flush with the shank cap opening.

In seating the joint in the shank, it’s important that there’s a bit of play in the fitting so that the joint can be adjusted after the glue is applied.  To increase the hold of the CA glue, I use a burr to cut some channels in the joint. Thick CA glue is then applied around the base of the joint and then inserted into the shank counter-sink hole.  I use thick glue because thin CA glue is absorbed while thick spreads. I want the glue to spread fully around the joint.  While the glue is still pliable, the cap is mounted onto the joint to guide the orientation for the joint so that the airway is centered, and the shank cap is flush with the shank facing. I let the stummel sit for several hours to allow the joint’s position to become permanent as the CA glue fully cures. With the glue fully cured, seating the joint into the shank, the next step is to attach the acrylic cap.  Again, the joint is scored several times with the burr to increase the gripping of the CA glue.Thick CA glue is then applied around the joint and the shank cap is mounted onto the joint and while the glue is still pliable, I make sure the cap is lined up with the shank. Thankfully, the airway is centered in as well! To complete the structural issues, the replacement fishtail stem’s tenon needs to be properly sized to navigate safely the mortise.  To do this, the tenon diameter is decreased and the mortise is expanded to accommodate the resized tenon.  I use a coarse 120 grade sanding paper to sand down the tenon.  I do this by pinching the paper around the tenon and rotating the stem.The mortise is also expanded to match the diameter of the acrylic shank cap’s diameter.  A burr is carefully used to expand the mortise. To deepen the briar mortise – gradually, a drill bit is hand turned.The process was a dance between sanding the tenon to shape it and drill and smooth the mortise – testing a lot!  The goal is to seat the tenon so that the tenon facing is almost flush with the acrylic ferrule.  This picture shows a large gap between the tenon facing and the acrylic.After a lot of slow work, the tenon is seated without placing too much stress on the repaired acrylic shank cap.  The structural repair to the BC Costaud is done – I move on!What remains is now the cosmetic restoration – I am not finished yet!  The charred inner ring of the chamber needs to be cleaned. To do this, 240 sanding paper is used to sand the upper chamber edge. Looking again at the condition of the rusticated surface of the bowl, after applying the Before & After Restoration Balm earlier, I had hoped that that would be sufficient.  Looking now at the briar’s condition, it is apparent the finish is gone in places giving a light dried look.  The nomenclature panel on the underside shows an uneven splotched finish. The decision comes easily to apply a dye to refresh the stummel hue.  After wrapping the acrylic shank cap with painter’s tape, Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye is used.  To begin, the stummel is heated to help to absorb the dye.With the deep rusticated surface, I do not fire the aniline dye as I would with a smooth briar pipe because it would be difficult to remove the resulting crusted shell and the Red Tripoli compound used to remove the crust.  Instead, the stummel is simply painted with the dye using a pipe cleaner.  After the dye is thoroughly applied to the rough, crevassed surface, I let the stummel to rest through the night to set the dye.The next morning, a cotton pad wetted with alcohol and used to wipe down the newly dyed stummel to remove excess dye and to blend.   A microfiber cloth in then used to hand buff the stummel rigorously to remove additional excess dye.Next, with a clean felt wheel mounted on the rotary set at about 40% full power, the rustication is further buffed and cleaned of fresh dye.  The reason for all this buffing is to prevent dye from leaching after it’s put into service.  It’s difficult not to have some dye on the hand when the stummel is fired up the first time, but these steps help to minimize this leaching. Next, to create an attractive contrasting in the rusticated surface, the 1500 grade micromesh pad is employed to sand the peaks of the rusticated peaks.  This creates a reddish fleck contrasting that I like in a rusticated surface.Again, the surface is buffed up with the felt buffing wheel.One last effort to avoid dye leaching.  To emulate a bowl in service, the stummel is heated with the hot air gun and again buffed with the microfiber cloth to remove the leached dye.The home stretch – Using a cotton cloth buffing wheel on the rotary tool set at 49% full power, Blue Diamond compound is applied to the stem, acrylic ferrule, and smooth briar shank underside.  Compound is not applied to the rusticated surface because it would clog the wood crevasses and be a bear to clean.  A felt cloth is used to wipe off the compound dust where applied.  Not pictured, after applying the Blue Diamond compound, another cotton cloth wheel is mounted on the rotary tool and carnauba wax is applied to the pipe.  The wax is very lightly applied to the rusticated surface with the speed of the rotary tool a bit faster – at about 60 full power.  I do this to create more heat which helps the wax to dissolve and not get stuck in the crevasses.  Using the rotary tool buffing wheel helps as well as the bowl is rotated around to allow the wheel to go with the valleys and contours. Wow!  This was perhaps the most involved restoration that I’ve done to date.  There were a lot of moving parts, processes and structural issues to resolve to put this pipe back into service.  I’m pleased with the results and the opportunity to learn some new techniques.  The rusticated surface of the Butz-Choquin Costaud is now the focus of this handsome, stout pipe – as it should be.  The rustic feel of the bowl looks great with the bright contrasting of the acrylic ferrule. The slightly bent stem adds a gentle class to the overall bold appearance of a gentlmen’s pipe. As the commissioner, Craig will have the first opportunity to acquire the Costaud from The Pipe Steward Store which benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

Nelson Got Gouged

Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

Sometimes, the most satisfying restorations are the ones that have the most dramatic difference between start and finish. This is the story of one of those. A friend, knowing of my new pipe-restoration hobby, contacted me recently to see if I could ‘clean up’ a family pipe for him. I told him that I would be happy to. He explained that perhaps the pipe once belonged to his grandfather, perhaps to an uncle – he was not really sure. Imagine my shock when he dropped off this little paneled Nelson apple.Oof! My immediate thought was ‘Nelson got gouged’! You want me to clean up this pipe? How about raise this pipe from the dead? Actually, my first order of business was ascertaining the actual brand name. At first, I thought it was ‘Delson’ (or something similar), but, after rubbing chalk on the shank, I could see that it was, in fact, ‘Nelson’.So, I set about disassembling the pipe to see what needed to be done – beyond dealing with the obvious gouges. The insides of the bowl and stem were actually quite clean, but I set about giving them a thorough cleaning nonetheless. Using isopropyl alcohol in combination with Q-tips and pipe cleaners, I then proceeded to clean out the insides of both the shank and stem. I also added some Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the external grime, just for good measure.

I removed the metal band around the shank to discover that, not only had the band corroded, but it had also leached into the wood at the end of the shank.Using oxalic acid, I carefully scrubbed the shank end to remove as much of the staining as possible – and I think it worked quite well.I feared the prospect of having to deal with the scratches, holes, gouges, etc. on the bowl, so I thought I would move on to the stem first. I took a BIC lighter and ‘painted’ the stem with its flame in order to remove the light tooth marks. This was quite successful in raising the dents. Once this process was done, the stem went for a soak in the Before & After Hard Rubber Deoxidizer. This soak caused the oxidation to migrate to the surface. I used 220, 400, and 600 grit wet/dry sandpapers to remove the oxidation from the stem. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to bring out the lovely black lustre on the stem. I also used Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing. Now, on to the biggest problem of all: the bowl. What were we going to do? No matter what, the wood needed to be stripped and sanded down, and so I set myself to the task. I had a long discussion with Steve about what to do and he suggested that this pipe was a perfect candidate for rustication. I agreed and thought it would be a good experiment for me to try out the process of rusticating a stummel. I approached my friend with the idea and, although he was open to it, I sensed that he would prefer to keep the pipe as close to its original form as possible. So, going back to Steve for advice, he proposed using an iron and a damp cloth to try and raise the scratches. I expected some limited success, but I was stunned at how well it worked. The vast majority of the gouges were lifted. The small number that were not, were easily filled with cyanoacrylate adhesive. Just like the stem, I used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to sand everything smooth. A light application of Before & After Restoration Balm brought out the best in the stummel’s grain.

A new metal band was also needed for this pipe. Although I considered the idea of trying to remove the corrosion from the existing band, ultimately this was an exercise in futility. I went to my jar of bands and found one that was less wide than the original, but actually looked better than the original. I sanded and polished the band until it shone like the sun.

Now I had to do something about the distinct lack of rich colour in this pipe. The solution, as always, came from Steve: aniline dye. I cautiously applied a wee bit of Fiebing’s Medium Brown Leather Dye and then applied flame in order to set the colour. Since it is an alcohol-based dye, I as able to lighten the colour by applying my own isopropyl alcohol to the colour.I applied more Before & After Restoration Balm and some Paragon Wax. I polished it by hand with a microfibre cloth and I could not believe how good it looked! This modest pipe had started its time with me as a candidate for the fireplace and ended up as a lovely pipe whose owner will be able to enjoy it for many years to come. The dimensions of the pipe are as follows: length 5¾ inches (14.6 cm); height 1⅜ inches (3.5 cm); bowl diameter 1¼ inches (3.2 cm); chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch (1.9 cm). The weight of the pipe is ¾ of an ounce (or 24 grams of mass).

Thank you very much for reading and, once again, I welcome and encourage your comments.

New Life for a Sasieni Berkley Club 755SR Lovat

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table is a Sasieni Made Rusticated Lovat that we purchased in 2016 from an antique store on the Oregon Coast, USA. It is a rusticated pipe a shape that I would call a Lovat from the  flow of the stem and shank. It is stamped on the underside of the shank and reads 755SR [over] Berkley Club [over] London Made. Toward the heel it is stamped Made in England in a Rugby Ball shaped stamp. The bowl had a thick cake and lava overflow on the rim. It was hard to estimate the condition of the rim top with the cake and lava coat but I was hoping it had been protected from damage. It appeared that there was a lot of damage on the outer edge with the heaviest damage on the back and left side. The finish was a classic Sasieni rustication. The finish was dusty and tired but had some nice grain under the grime and the finish appeared to be in good condition. A lot would be revealed once Jeff had worked his magic on it. The stem was dirty, oxidized, calcified and had tooth chatter and tooth marks near the button on both sides. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. Jeff captured the condition of the bowl and rim top with the next series of photos. You can see the work that is ahead of us in the photos. The cake is very thick and heavy. The next two photos of the stem show the top and underside of the stem. It is oxidized and calcified an you can see the tooth marks and chatter on the surface of both sides. Jeff took a photo of the side of the bowl and heel showing the worn finish and what is underneath the grime and debris of time and use. It will be interesting to see what happens as the pipe is cleaned and restored. He captured the stamping on the underside of the shank. They are clear and readable. It reads as noted above.I have worked on Berkley Club pipes in the past. The most recent Berkley Club I worked on was a billiard. I turned to the blog on that pipe (https://rebornpipes.com/tag/berkeley-club-pipes/) that was written in July 31, 2016. I quote the information on the brand from that blog below.

I went online to Pipephil’s site Logos and Stampings (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-b4.html) and found the brand and the reminder that had niggled at the back of mind. The Berkeley Club with this stamping was made by Sasieni. The photo below came from that website and shows the same finish and the same stamping on both the shank and the stem.The pipe has been here for a few years now so it is about time I worked on it. I took it out of the box where I had stored it and looked it over. It was amazingly clean and looked like a different pipe. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The bowl looked very good. The rim top showed a lot of darkening but the inner bevel was in good condition. Jeff scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub to remove the grime and soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer. When he took it out of the soak it came out looking far better. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some photos of the rim top and stem. The rim top is clean but there is a lot of darkening around the top and edges. The bowl itself looks very clean. The close up photos of the stem show that is it very clean and the deep tooth marks are very visible.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the bowl and to give a sense of the proportion of the pipe. It is a nice looking Lovat.I decided to take care of the damage on the rim top and inner edge first. I topped the bowl to give it a smooth surface. I built up the damaged areas on the outer edge with super glue and briar dust to take care of the damage. I cleaned up the inner edge of the rim with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. The second photo below show the inner edge of the rim after the work.I topped it on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to prepare the surface for the rustication I planned to do to bring it back to what it looked like originally.I then used my Dremel and a series of burrs and dental burrs to replicate the original rustication on the rim surface from photos I found online of a similar rim top. I worked through each burr carving a patter in the smooth rim surface and blending in the damaged areas on the front left and the repaired back of the bowl. I was very happy with the rustication once I finished.I stained the rim top with a combination of Walnut, Maple and Cherry stain pens to match the colour around the sides of the bowl and shank.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the smooth briar with my fingertips. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for fifteen minutes 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 to deal with the stem. The stem had an inner tube that was bound in the shank and when I heated and carefully pulled on it to remove it the tube snapped. I flattened on the tenon end with sandpaper to make the break smooth. I sanded out the oxidation and tooth marks on the stem surface with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. Once I had smoothed them out and broken up the remaining oxidation I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a cloth containing some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. I gave the stem a final coat of Obsidian Oil to preserve and protect it. This Sasieni Made Berkley Club 755SR London Made Lovat was another fun pipe to work on and I really was looking forward to seeing it come back together again. With the grime and debris gone from the finish and the rim top cleaned up and rusticated it was a beauty and the colours in the rustication are beautiful. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I carefully avoided the stamping on the shank during the process. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad on the buffer. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The rich natural finish on the bowl looks really good with the polished black vulcanite stem. It is very well done. Give the finished Lovat a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 49grams/1.73oz. This is truly a great looking Sasieni Made Berkley Club London Lovat. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. I will be adding it to the Italian Pipe Makers section of the rebornpipes store soon. If you want to add it to your collection send me an email or a message! Thanks for your time.

Help for what looked like a hopeless 1956 Dunhill Shell Briar LBS Long Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

A friend of mine, Scott picked up this deeply sandblasted Dunhill LBS in a shape I would call a Liverpool but Dunhill called a long billiard. He bought it off eBay and when it arrived it had a lot of surprises for him under the thick build up of cake and grime. He has purchased enough estate pipes know what he was getting into but this one had even more issues than he reckoned it would have. He sent me the eBay sellers photos and I have included them below. This is what he saw and honestly if I had seen the pipe I would have sprung for it immediately. The sandblast though dirty, is quite rugged and stunning. The seller dated the pipe as a 1956 based on the following stamping. On the heel of the bowl it was stamped with the shape designation – LBS followed by DUNHILL [over] SHELL BRIAR (Sandblast finish) on the shank. That was followed by MADE IN ENGLAND6 . Next to the shank/stem junction it was stamped with a Circle 4S – the group 4 size designation and the S for Shell Briar.  I turned to PipePhil’s Site and looked up the shape letters that Dunhill used on the helpful chart that is included there (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/shapes-l.html). I did a screen capture of the pertinent part of the chart to show the shape letters noted above.   I have included that below.The bowl had a very thick cake and the rim top had a heavy lava  buildup. The bowl had a crack running down the back side of the bowl. It was hard to know how bad it was because of the filth of the dirty pipe. It was a good bet that it would be messy inside the bowl under the cake! The stem was oxidized, calcified and had deep tooth dents on both sides at the button as well as wear on the button surface itself. It would be a challenge.When the pipe arrived at Scott’s place it was in rougher condition than he had expected. Nonetheless he went to work on it. He knew that he needed to ream the cake back to bare briar and clean up the exterior of the bowl to know for sure how bad the damage was on the inside and outside of the bowl. He did a great job cleaning up the exterior and reaming and cleaning out the bowl so the damage on the inside and out were incredibly visible. This pipe was in serious trouble. Scott and I share and affinity for these older craggy Dunhills so he sent me an email. I have included that below.

Hi Steve, Great job on that 1936 Dunhill.  Are you going to be putting it up for sale?  If so, I’m interested.  Also, I have a large 1956 shell briar Dunhill billiard that has a great blast and good stem, but has a crack in the front and a bad interior.  It’s out of my comfort zone – will you do such work for pay?

Thanks,  Scott

We sent several emails back and forth regarding the pipe discussing what needed to be done. I asked him to send me some pics of the pipe after his clean up. He did so along with the email below.

Hi  Steve, Here are pics of the Dunhill.  The crack is on the shank side, straight above the shank – it’s splits to form two cracks (hard to see).  I cleaned the bowl (inside and out) then put a clamp around the bowl to see if it would push together, and it moved a lot, but not all the way, so the next step would have been to use compressed air to get any slivers/dust out  of the crack.  That’s where I stopped, figuring it had waited for 30 or so years, so it would be okay.

There also seems to be some rot on the rim of the bowl and there is a small chunk out at the top of the crack.  My plan had been to sand down the top after the repair was done.

Thanks, Scott When I saw the pipe in his pictures I fell in love with the shape and the rich, rugged looking blast. I could see at once why Scott had been drawn to it. We chatted back and forth and the long and short of it is that it is now on my work desk to see what I can do with it. I will give it a shot and then send it back to Scott once it is finished. I took photos of when I received it. The rim top looked rough. It was beat up and missing a chunk over the crack on the back of the bowl. The finish was pretty much removed. The bowl was clean and the damage on the inside was extensive. The stem had cleaned up well. The tooth marks are visible in the photos of the stem that I have included below.I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It is faint in spots but is still very readable.I removed the stem from the shank to prepare to work on the bowl. I put the stem aside and took pictures of the bowl to just savor the rugged sandblast. Even the rim top, as damaged as it was still has a bit of the sandblast finish that I thought would be redeemable. I cleaned out the cracks on the exterior with alcohol to remove the remaining debris. I checked the entire bowl with a bright light and lens to make sure I could see all the cracks and not be surprised with ones I had missed. Sure enough they were all around the back side of the bowl. They ran from the rim down and then turned to the left and then down once again. I layered briar dust and clear CA glue in the cracks. I repaired the chip out of the back side of the rim top at the same time in the same manner. Before it completely dried I used a brass bristle brush to clean up the repairs and blend them into the nooks and crannies of the sandblast finish. I find that if you do not do this you end up with flat spots where the repair occurredOnce the repair cured I wiped the areas down with alcohol on a cotton pad and stained the areas with a walnut stain pen. I would use a combination of stains later to further blend them in. I just wanted to see what the repair looked like and be able to send photos to Scott.With the exterior finished it was time to work on the inside of the bowl and deal with all of the spidering cracks and large cracks around the interior walls. They were not just confined to the back of the bowl but covered the majority of the bowl and heel surface. I mixed a batch of JB Weld with a dental spatula and applied it to the walls of the bowl with a folded pipe cleaner to act like a paint brush. I pushed the JB Weld into the cracks in the bowl walls and gave the entire interior a coat of the product. I have checked out the research on the product and find that it dries inert and does not gas off when heated. I have used it on my own pipes and smoked them for over 10 or more years with no issues. With that finished I called it a night and set the bowl aside for the repairs on the interior to cure overnight. In the morning I sanded inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out that area. I wrapped a dowel with 220 grit sandpaper extending it just below the dowel so that it would form a cone on the end and allow me to sand the bottom of the bowl. I worked on it to smooth the repairs and remove as much of the JB Weld as possible while leaving it in the cracks and fissures of the walls. With the bowl repair finished I stained the bowl and rim with Mahogany, Walnut and Black stain pens to match the combination of stains used on the bowl that was not repaired. I was happy with the overall look of the pipe. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to get into the nooks and crannies of the blast. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth  and shoe brush to raise the shine.      I cleaned the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol to remove my sanding debris and residual tars and oils in the mortise and airway. I cleaned the internals of the stem the same way. Once finished the pipe was clean and repaired inside and out.Now it was time to mix a bowl coating. Different folks used different things for this. I use a mix of sour cream and charcoal powder. I learned this from a pipe maker friend. I use it on a bowl that I have repaired with JB Weld because when I sand the bowl it is very smooth and I want to facilitate the building of a carbon cake. The bowl coating does that. Surprisingly it cures neutral in taste and imparts no flavour to the tobacco when smoked. Within a few bowls it is basically covered with the developing cake. It works for me!I applied the mixture to the bottom and walls of the bowl with a folded pipe cleaner. I paint it on and smooth it out with the pipe cleaner. I am not looking for a thick coating of the product but merely a top coat. Too thick a coat will just peel off when the pipe is smoked. I want it to stay put for a few bowls anyway! I set the bowl aside for the bowl coating to cure and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the tooth marks. The method worked extremely well and I was able to lift the majority of them. There were two marks – one on each side that lifted but needed to be filled. I filled them in with clear CA glue. Once it cured I sanded them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and reshaped the button edges. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.     This really is a beautiful Dunhill Shell Briar LBS Long Billiard.  The relatively short vulcanite taper stem just adds to an already great looking pipe. If you did not know where the cracks were you would never be able to find them now. The rich combination of Mahogany, Black and Walnut stains on the bowl give depth and dimension to the sandblast. It came alive with the polishing and waxing. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax as I did not want to fill in the valleys. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Dunhill Shell Briar LBS Group 4 pipe is a beauty and fits nicely in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 3/4 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. . The weight of the pipe is 40grams/1.41oz. Once the bowl coating completely cures I will be packing it up and sending it back to Scott. I can’t wait to hear what he thinks of it when he has it in hand. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

Upgrading a ‘Lowly Drugstore Pipe’: A Dr. Grabow Omega Billiard

Blog by Dal Stanton

Ryan described his Dr. Grabow Omega as a lowly drugstore pipe – not me! 😊 He emailed me several months ago about his Dr. Grabow Omega and which set the table for what followed:

Dear Mr. Stanton, I recently came across one of your blog posts from 2017 detailing a restoration you performed on a Dr. Grabow Omega billiard. The final product was stunning and made me wonder whether you allow customers to send pipes in for restoration or whether commissions are limited to the pipes listed on your website. I ask because I also own a Dr. Grabow Omega and have always been bothered by the heavy red finish that completely obscures the grain. I wanted to ask (if outside commissions are accepted) whether you could perform the same sort of restoration on my pipe and about how much it might cost.  Thanks for any information you can provide!

Part of my response to Ryan shortly followed:

Ryan, Great to hear from you!  Thanks for your kind words regarding the restoration of the Omega I did. I think the Omega is a nice-looking pipe.  Dr. Grabow’s ‘Peterson’ and you share my problem with Dr. Grabow’s production of Omegas with the ‘candy apple’ finish.  It’s a quicker way to finish a factory pipe and it’s always a question about what lurks beneath the artificial gloss.  The Omega I did surprised me with a nice patch of briar beneath and left me with the question, why would anyone cover this grain with a finish like that?  I’m sure economics is a partial answer.  So, for your Omega, I would examine it closely to see if you can see some huge fills in the briar beneath the finish.  Even if it has fills, natural briar just beats candy apple even with sub-par blocks of briar, in my opinion. 

In our emailing back and forth, I discovered that Ryan too, was living in Europe at the time.  He had finished up his graduate work in Scotland and was teaching in the Black Forest region of Germany for the past 10 years and was also in the process of transitioning back to the US.  When he said he was in the Black Forest region of Germany, I perked up.  Several years ago two of our five children attended Black Forest Academy in Kandern, Germany – a very beautiful part of Europe which we enjoyed visiting several times.  Ryan sent me some pictures of his Omega from Germany, which he had used only a few times.  Here are the pictures Ryan sent: My impression of his pictures was that the Omega was practically new and not beat up at all.  Since we both were in the process of transitioning to the US, he from Germany and we from Bulgaria, the decision was made to wait till we both were settled on the other side of the pond and he would send the Omega to me.   Which brings us to the present – Ryan’s Dr. Grabow Omega is now on my worktable.  I am in Golden, Colorado, and Ryan is in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  We both are adjusting to our new realities!

The primary desire Ryan expressed was to allow the natural briar to emerge by removing the candy apple, thick factory finish.  He referenced seeing a restoration for another Omega I had done for Jenny, a former intern we had with us in Bulgaria.  She had commissioned several pipes from the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection to give as gifts to the special men in her family and she kept one for herself too! (See: Jen’s Trove No. 8 – Restore & Upgrade of a Dr. Grabow Omega Smooth Billiard)  The Dr. Grabow Omega she chose for one fortunate person turned out well – before and after results were striking!This was the result that Ryan compared to his Dr. Grabow factory fresh Omega finish which shrouded the natural grain.  Ryan’s Omega appears to me to be a newer pipe off the production line and differs in the nomenclature from the former older Omega I restored.  In common is that both are stamped on the left shank flank: OMEGA [over] DR. GRABOW.  The right was stamped on Jen’s Omega, IMPORTED BRIAR, which is not present on Ryan’s Omega.

In the former Omega restoration, the biggest problem that I expressed was the finish.  I did not like it!  In my research for that Omega, I found these two comments from bloggers on a Pipes Magazine Forum discussion about Dr. Grabow Omegas’ cost, quality, and appeal, which resonated with my own thoughts regarding the positives and negative:

Positives: An Omega was the first briar pipe that I ever owned. It still gets regular use and like Brewshooter, I have no complaints with it. Bowl size is a little bit smaller than I like, but it makes for a nice quick smoke, and the military mount makes it really easy to clean. I have Savinellis that I have easily paid four times more for, and sure, they smoke a little bit better, but in terms of a good smoking instrument, the Omega will do you well as long as it is smoked properly and maintained properly.

Negative: One thing I noticed about my Omega is that it had a heavy varnish or clear coat. I sanded it and gave it a nice wax. It seems to breathe a little better now and I like seeing more of the grain. I also gave the band a bit of a brushed look with some fine grain sandpaper. It’s a nice little pipe for that quick smoke.

Ryan’s desire for his Omega is to remove the ‘candy apple’ or heavy varnish finish.  He is also hopeful that there is a nice patch of briar beneath it.  I am hopeful, too!  The second issue that Ryan expressed about his Omega was that the factory stem was made of a plastic material and not rubber or vulcanite.  I could not recall that the former Omega’s stem I had restored was plastic – I believe it was indeed vulcanite because of the way it spruced up.  Ryan shared with me that his research uncovered that Dr. Grabow started using plastic stems along the way.  Ryan said he could live with the factory plastic stem but did not like it.

When Ryan’s Omega arrived, I was curious to check out the stem as well.  The seam is different from a normal precast rubber stem – the factory seam is vertically dissecting the stem rather than a horizontal seam – the norm for rubber precast stems.  The picture below shows the vertical seam that splits the P-Lip and runs up the stem.  I would say that I agree with Ryan’s assessment.  The stem is plastic.I decided to investigate whether I could find a rubber stem that would match the Omega’s Military Mount, fancy P-Lip stem.  I sent a note to Tim West at J. H. Lowe (www.jhlowe.com) where I acquire pipe supplies and included pictures for Tim to see if I could find a non-factory match for the Omega.  Ryan had indicated to me that a factory stem with the Dr. Grabow ‘Spade’ logo was not critically important to him.  Tim’s email came saying that he had a Greek rubber stem that had similar style and shape to the Dr. Grabow Wellington stems for a few dollars. He said that they were rough and needed bending and polishing – plain with no logo on the stem. I asked Tim to send it along with 5 additional Churchwarden stems.  When the stems arrived a few days ago from Tim, I was pleased with the match he provided with the Wellington stem.  The pictures below show the comparison.  The Wellington stem is precast with rough horizontal seams running down the sides of the stem rather than vertically in comparison to the factory stem.Before beginning on the upgrade of Ryan’s Omega, I take a few fresh pictures of the stummel on my worktable.  The finish is not as ‘candy apple’ acrylic as was the first Omega I restored but the finish is thick and obstructive.  In addition to the finish, the stummel has some minor dents from normal wear.  There appears to be a round fill on the right shank side.  When the stummel is cleaned, I will need to see if this apparent fill needs attention. Because I like working on clean pipes, I first use the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to scrape the chamber.  Ryan had said that he had used the pipe only a few times – the lack of carbon cake buildup confirms this.A quick spin with one pipe cleaner and one cotton bud confirms that the internals are clean.My general approach will be to emulate what I did with the first Omega I restored that Ryan noticed.  The goal is to provide a briar canvas that will produce more natural grain pop.  To do this I start the upgrade of this Dr. Grabow Omega by using acetone on a cotton pad to see if this will be sufficient to remove the finish.  The acetone cuts through the finish efficiently.  The cotton pad shows a purple-ish or dark burgundy/Oxblood hue of the factory finish.  As I did before, I decide to put the stummel in a soak of acetone to remove the old finish more fully.With the stummel soaking in acetone, I turn to the precast Wellington stem.  Even though the stem is new, it is in a rough state.  The seam is rough from the excess rubber during the fashioning process.   Around the P-Lip button the edge is also rough as is the rubber surface itself.To begin, a small sanding drum is mounted onto the rotary tool and with care the seam edges are smoothed off.  I’m careful because the rotary tool can easily dig a wedge into the rubber if I’m too impatient!After the sanding drum, 240 sanding paper is used to sand the entire stem.  Special attention is given to the seam lines to make sure there are no factory divots remaining in the vulcanite.  The precast factory surface is not even and has ribs and small gaps.  Sanding with 240 takes some time but helps to smooth out the surface.   After 240, the entire stem is first wet sanded with 600 grade paper then 0000 grade steel wool is applied to smooth the surface further.Next, the full regimen of micromesh pads is applied starting with wet sanding using pads 1500 to 2400.  Next, the stem is dry sanded with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 micromesh pads, Obsidian Oil is applied to the stem to help guard against oxidation. Wow!  The Greek rubber Wellington stem shined up with that pop I like. After several hours of soaking in the acetone, the stummel is fished out and I take a closer look at the results.  The briar is a salmon color.  Interesting!  An inspection of the briar surface shows the minor dents I saw previously.  The round fill on the right shank is solid – second picture. To clean the surface of minor dents and scratches, sanding sponges are used.  The sanding sponges are good for not being invasive but sanding enough to clean the surface.  I start with a coarser sponge and then transition to a medium, then light grade sanding sponge.  I avoid the nomenclature on the shank during the first two sponges. Before moving on with the application of micromesh pads, I dress up the bland rim a bit.  To do this, a small internal bevel is cut in the rim to give it some additional contour.  To me, this adds a touch of class to the Omega and that’s what ‘upgrading’ is all about. Using 240 paper, a hard surface is pressed behind the sanding paper to create the fresh lines of the bevel.  This is followed again using 600 grade paper.  I like the results.Next, the stummel is sanded with the full regimen of micromesh pads to coax out the tight, compact grain.  Starting the process by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400, this is followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  I stay clear of the nomenclature on the shank during the wet sanding phase.  The grain emerges through the micromesh process of sanding.  The pictures show the progression.The grain is subtle on this Omega which is different from the Omega I worked on before.  That Omega had more expressive and turbulent grain patterns.  My reading about briar grains suggests that Ryan’s Omega was fashioned from a briar block that was more toward the center of the briar bole and not the edge.  The ‘edge’ blocks tend to be more twirly, expressive, and distinct but also contain more imperfections which require patching.  Whereas, blocks cut closer toward the center of the bole, have more subtle grain patterns but fewer imperfections – the wood seems to be tighter or compressed.  The grain is there but lacks distinction at this point.At this juncture, I can’t resist uniting the stummel with the unbent Wellington stem to get a sense of the progress.  I also take a picture of the factory Grabow stem.  Not bad!  Ryan will have his pick whether he’s in the mood for the factory Dr. Grabow stem or the Greek rubber Wellington stem – as far as I can see, a perfect match. As I think about the next step in coloring the stummel, I decide to bend the Wellington replacement stem.  To do this the stem is threaded with a pipe cleaner to guard the integrity of the airway during the bend.  Using the hot air gun, the vulcanite is gently warmed at the mid-stem where the bend is to happen.  To heat gradually, I rotate the stem to balance the heating and not scorch the stem.I use a small shot glass which is about 1 1/2 inches across to serve as the bending template.  As I’m heating the stem, I gently bend the stem a bit with my hands as it become supple.  When it has heated enough and the rubber has softened, the stem is placed over the glass and bent over it to form the shape.I hold the stem in place while it is taken to the sink where cool water is run over the stem, thus solidifying the bend in place. When the stem is taken back to the work table to compare with the factory stem, it looks like a match to me the first time around!  The great thing about bending rubber stems is that if you do not get it right the first time, the process is easily repeated until the bend is on target.I have given some thought to the finish to apply to the Dr. Grabow Omega bowl.  With my last Omega I applied a mixture of 2/3s-part Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye with 1/3-part Fiebing’s Black Leather Dye with the lightening option available by wiping down the bowl with alcohol later.  With this Omega, I will do the same for the dark brown/black undercoat.  However, following this, an additional step will be tried.  A wash dye with red I believe will deepen the tones and bend the finish toward a reddish palette and not toward the purplish/burgundy of the original Omega motif.  I believe this will give the pipe more eye-catching pop in the end – or this is my hope!  Applying dyes often feels like a roll of the dice – different woods absorb dyes differently and one never knows for sure what the exact results will be!  My goal is to bring out the grain distinctiveness with the undercoat and then to get in the ballpark of the right color template with the overcoat washing.  To begin, after assembling all the components on the worktable, Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye and Fiebing’s Black Leather Dye are mixed at a 2 to 1 ratio to use as the undercoat. After wiping the bowl with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol, the stummel is heated with the hot gun.  This heating expands the briar and makes the wood grain more receptive to the dye.When the stummel is heated sufficiently, the aniline dye mixture is applied to the stummel in sections with a folded pipe cleaner and then ‘flamed’ using a lighted candle.  The alcohol in the aniline dye combusts setting the dye pigment in the briar grain.  This flaming process continues as dye is applied in sections until the entire stummel is covered.The stummel is then put aside to rest for several hours.  This helps the dye to ‘settle’ and be absorbed into the wood. After several hours, the time to ‘unwrap’ the stummel has arrived – one of my favorite parts of a restoration when new dye has been applied to a stummel.  I call this phase unwrapping because the fired dye is crusted around the stummel like a shell.  The shell is unwrapped using more abrasive Tripoli compound and a felt buffing wheel mounted onto the rotary tool.  The speed of the rotary tool is set to about 25 to 30% full power – slower than usual guarding against too much heat buildup from friction generated by the more abrasive combination of compound and felt wheel.  This combination is like a bulldozer!As the crusted dye is removed, I purge the felt wheel repeatedly with the edge of the metal rotary tool wrench.  This keeps the felt wheel softer and cleaner.  As hoped, as the Tripoli compound is applied to the crusted surface, an eye-catching landscape of grain is now more distinctive.  The pictures below show the unwrapping in process.  I love to watch this unveiling! The dye process darkens and accents the grain patterns. After the crusted dye is removed, the bowl is gently wiped with a cotton pad and alcohol.  This is done not to lighten the stummel but to blend the dye.  Little dye is removed on the cotton pad which seems to indicate that the undercoat of dye is well established.The next step, to deepen the hue and bend it more to a rich red tone, the stummel is dye washed with red dye.  The stummel is again heated, but this time the dye is washed on with a pipe cleaner without firing because the alcohol content in the red dye is not as great.  After the red dye is applied thoroughly, the lesser abrasive, Blue Diamond compound is applied to the stummel with a cotton cloth buffing wheel on the rotary tool set at about 40% full power. This removes the excess dye.  Not pictured is that I wiped the stummel a number time with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to blend the red dye with the dark brown/black under coat.  Afterwards, Blue Diamond was again applied until the hue looked good.  Also not shown is that the Wellington stem was also polished with Blue Diamond compound with a cotton cloth buffing wheel.To refresh the Omega’s nickel shank cap, another cotton cloth buffing wheel dedicated to applying compound on metal is mounted on the rotary tool.  Blue Diamond is applied, and the bling factor of the shank cap went up a few notches! The final step is to apply carnauba wax to the entire pipe.  After mounting another cotton cloth buffing wheel, with the speed set at about 40% full power, the wax is applied to the stummel and Wellington stem – not to the nickel shank cap.  After application of the wax, the Omega is given a rigorous hand buffing to raise the shine and to remove any excess wax that may have collected on the surface.Wow, what a change!  And then the next thought, ‘Wow, maybe too much change!’  At this point I was ready to send the write up to Steve to publish on rebornpipes, but my concern continued to grow, and that small voice was gnawing inside – the finish may have gone a little too far from the original Dr. Grabow Omega motif which was bent more to the burgundy pallet than what I did, going more toward the red.  I decided to send a pre-published PDF of the write up with final presentation pictures to receive his assessment.  I expressed to Ryan that I could take the Omega back to the worktable and bend the hue back to more of a burgundy palette – that working with dyes is like a dance.  After sending that email and PDF, I waited to find out if the Dr. Grabow Omega was finished or whether I was headed back to the worktable.  Ryan’s response did not take long:

Hi Dal, I think we can definitely call it finished (and then some)! I couldn’t stop smiling as I read through your write-up because every time I thought the pipe must be nearly finalized (I was already amazed at how much better it looked after unwrapping the initial coat of dye), there would be another step in the process that made it look even better. I’m genuinely awestruck at how well it turned out. That a lowly drugstore pipe can be transformed to such a degree is a testament to the tremendous skill and care you put into your work. As far as the color is concerned, I think you chose the ideal shade: not too dark, not too light, and a perfect showcase for the more subtle grain patterns of this pipe. I wouldn’t change it one bit. The stem came out looking like a million bucks, as well, which is quite a feat considering how (literally) rough around the edges it was at the beginning. Just extraordinary work all around. I can’t thank you enough!…. Once again, thanks very much for doing such a wonderful job and taking the trouble to document each individual step. I really enjoyed reading about the restoration process and I can’t wait to see the pipe in person!

Best regards,


The upgrade of Ryan’s Dr. Grabow Omega ‘drugstore pipe’ is an amazing transformation and a grain popping display.  The transition from the finish that clouded the grain has been replaced with a sharp, distinctive cornucopia of grain patterns.  The Wellington stem is a perfect replacement for the Dr. Grabow factory stem.  This Omega upgrade, as with all my restorations, benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks, Ryan!  Thank you for joining me!

Restoring a Badly Burned Kaywoodie Super Grain 86B

Blog by Alex Heidenreich

Earlier this week I received and email with an attachment from Alex about a Kaywoodie pipe he had restored for a friend. He wanted my opinion on the restoration and on the piece he had written about it. I took time this weekend to read over the piece and study the photos and I have to say I was quite impressed with his work. I wrote him back with some questions and asked if I could post his piece on the blog. He said he was thrilled and honoured to be asked so without further ado I introduce you to Alex Heidenreich’s Kaywoodie Super Grain 86B restoration.


Kaywoodies are some of my favorite pipes. I love the history of the company and the amazing quality briar used in the older pipes. So, when I saw this poor Kaywoodie on eBay, I was quick to bid on it. When it arrived in the mail, I took a closer look at it. It was in even worse shape than the pictures had led me to believe. It was dented and dinged on the outside of the bowl. The rim was badly chewed up and then caked over with a thick coating of lava that had spilled all the way down onto the shank. The stem was badly oxidized, and I couldn’t get a pipe cleaner through the stem or the shank. This pipe looked like a lot of work. So, I ended up setting it aside for a while. Later, a friend of mine from our pipe group on PipeTobaccoDiscord said he was looking to add a Kaywoodie to his collection. I sent him some pictures of the ones in my restoration pile and despite the damage, he fell in love with this one, and thus the work began.

Acquisition Pictures: History:

As Steve has talked about many times, finding the exact date of a pipe can be difficult. Kaywoodie has a rich history, and a good amount of it is documented over on https://pipedia.org/wiki/Collector%27s_Guide_to_Kaywoodie_Pipes. The first thing I did was head over to their documentation on the shape numbers: https://pipedia.org/wiki/Kaywoodie_Shape_Numbers. This told me that the 86B shape number was a Large Apple with a flat top bowl and was produced from 1947-1971. For many shapes of Kaywoodies, the logo was printed on top of the stem until the late 1940s or early 1950s. Since this logo was on the side of the stem, I surmised it was probably a post-1955 model. Just after this time (somewhere in the mid-50s or 60s), Kaywoodie also moved from a 4-hole stinger to a 3-hole stinger. Since this pipe has the logo on the side, but still had a 4-hole stinger, it was likely made in that interim period from 1959-1965.

Picture from a 1955 Catalog showing the 86B (notice the logo is on the top of the stem)Picture from: https://pipedia.org/wiki/Collector%27s_Guide_to_Kaywoodie_Pipes courtesy ChrisKeene.com


I took the pipe apart to see how bad it was. It was extremely dirty, and the finish was badly damaged. There were burn marks and lava all over the rim and shank.

I started by reaming the pipe. The bowl is large. So, it took a lot of reaming to get clean. The outside was extremely dirty. So, I cleaned the pipe 4 or 5 times with Murphy’s Oil Soap. I really soaked the rim well to try to soften the lava. It took a ton of scrubbing and a little work with a knife, but I was able to get most of it off and remove a lot of the burn marks on the shank. Unfortunately, this revealed a great deal of damage to the rim. There were also multiple fills, and I even had to remove a protruding grain of sand from the briar. To repair the damage to the rim, I carefully sanded back the damaged areas on a topping board, careful not to change the shape of the rim. I put a dab of Vaseline on the logo to protect it, then soaked the stem in an oxyclean bath. This would help loosen up all the gunk inside and make it easier to clean the oxidation off the outside. I also filled the bowl with cotton balls, stuck pipe cleaners in the shank, and then used a syringe to fill the bowl with alcohol to help remove any ghosting in the pipe, as well as loosen up any remaining cake inside the bowl to make it easier to clean.   After I got the stem out of the oxy bath, it revealed a lot of oxidation that would need to be cleaned up. The internals of the stem were also gooped up, but I was able to now force a pipe cleaner through it. I cleaned much of the surface oxidation with a Magic Eraser, then moved on to the internals.I sanded the stem with 600, 800, 1000, then moved into micro mesh pads from 1200 – 12000. Once finished, I oiled the stem with Obsidian Stem Oil and let it soak in. I turned my attention back to the bowl and did my best to clean out the inside of the shank and bowl with Q Tips and Pipe Cleaners soaked in alcohol. Then I set it aside for day 1.

Cleaning the shank and the stem took A LOT of pipe cleaners and Q Tips… After letting the pipe dry over night, I was able to see more clearly the inside and outside of the pipe. No surprise with how burned the outside of the pipe was that there were also heat fissures inside the bowl. I inspected them carefully and gauged their depth with dental picks. They, luckily, were not too deep. I was also now able to see some of the fills, scratches, and sand pits better on the outside of the bowl. I used a wet rag and a hot iron to try to raise them a bit. Then I carefully cleaned them out with my dental picks. At this point, I got a little ahead of myself as I focused on cleaning out the pits. I moved on to filling the pits and scratches with CA glue before fully stripping the finish. After the glue cured, I sanded down the glue spots. Then I wiped the entire stummel down with high-proof alcohol followed by acetone to really remove the finish. Since I did my steps slightly out of order, the CA glue had softened in a couple of the fills. So, I picked it out and refilled it. I let the glue cure and then sanded the entire stummel. I had to be very careful over the stamping to preserve it. With the finish removed and the stummel sanded, I placed a wine cork in the bowl and coated it with dye.It’s hard to tell in the pictures, but the dye came out a little too dark, more similar to a Flame Grain. To keep it authentic with a Super Grain, I needed to lighten it back up a bit. I lightly sanded it with my sequence of micromesh pads which also brought the shine back. After the stummel was sanded, the color was nearly perfect. I then buffed it using Tripoli, followed by White Diamond, and finally Carnauba. Now that the outside was finished, I moved on to the inside. After really inspecting the fissures, some of them were deeper than I would like. If it was my pipe, I would have done a bowl coating and just kept an eye on them to address later, but since this pipe was for someone else, I wanted to address it now. This way they won’t have to deal with it down the road. I mixed up some JB Weld, which dries inert and can handle the heat. I carefully stuck it only into the fissures, using as little as possible so as not to coat the briar, since JB Weld won’t breathe like briar.After it cured, I sanded down the JB Weld to make the bowl smooth and flush, as well as to remove any that was not inside the fissures.Then I coated the bowl with activated charcoal in a great method I learned from Dad’s Pipes. (https://dadspipes.com/2015/08/12/a-simple-effective-bowl-coating/)After cleaning the charcoal off the rim, I noticed it had dulled a little bit. So, I threw the buffing wheel back on and gave it another coat of Carnauba. The pipe was now complete! I hope it will bring its new owner joy for many years!

Final Pictures:

Restemming and Restoring a Gepetto 303 Rusticated Bowl

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I chose to work on came to us from an antique shop in Houston, Texas, USA that Jeff visited in 2018. It has been sitting in my box of bowls since that time. Jeff cleaned it up and mailed it to me. I have been postponing restemming any of the pipes for a while now but after restemming that little gourd calabash a couple of days ago I was ready to do a few more. I pulled this one out of the box first and set aside to be the next pipe to work on. It has a very craggy rustication that is quite stunning and it has a smooth rim cap and ring  that make me call it a Rhodesian. It also has a smooth band on the shank end. Overall it is a pretty pipe. The bowl had been reamed before Jeff purchased it and was pretty clean. The rim top had a coat of lava that covered the majority of the cap. The finish had a lot of dust and debris in the valleys of the rustication. The stamping on the smooth panel on the underside of the shank was clear and readable. It had a J in circle [over] the shape number 303. That is followed by Gepetto [arched over] Italy [over] Hand Made. The J stamp made me immediately think of a connection to Ser Jacopo but I would look into that later in the blog. The next two close up photos show the condition of the bowl and rim top. You can see the thick lava coat on the top and you can see the reamed bowl sides on the left rear. It would need to be cleaned up but it was surprisingly clean for the condition of the rim top. Jeff took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It read as noted above and is clear and readable.I decided to confirm my thinking that the pipe was connected with Ser Jacopo. I turned to Pipephil’s site to get a read on the brand (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-g2.html). Sure enough the Gepetto line is called a second of Ser Jacopo. I did a screen capture of the section on Pipephil on both the Gepetto line and the informative side bar from the Ser Jacopo section that also states that the line is a second. I have included them below.  There were also photos that were included on Pipephil of what this particular pipe looked like when it had left Italy. The rustication around the bowl and shank is very similar though the stain on this one is darker and the grain on the smooth rim cap much more prominent. The pipe originally had an acrylic saddle stem with a silver inlaid Pinnochio on the top of the stem. The stem was long gone when Jeff picked it up so I had some decisions to make about the stem I would use to restem it. I turned to work on the pipe itself. Jeff had carried out his usual thorough cleanup of the pipe. He had reamed it with a PipNet reamer to remove the cake and cleaned the reaming up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the internals of the bowl and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the externals with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed the bowl off with running water. The pipe looked very clean when I received it. The rim top looked better but still needed a lot of work. I went through my can of stems and found an acrylic one that had the right colour combination of browns and golds to work with the finish on the bowl. It was a little too bent but that would not be an issue. There were also tooth marks in the top and underside of the stem at the button that would need to be dealt with in the restoration. I fit the stem in the shank and took a picture of the pipe. The stem is a little larger in diameter than the shank. I will need to sand it down to match the shank. I will also need to straighten the stem. I took a close up photo of the rim top. You can see the cleanness of the bowl and rim. There is darkening around inner edge of the rim and crown top. You can also see the stem is a little larger in diameter than the shank in the photos below. You can also see the tooth marks in the second and third photos below.I straightened the stem over my heat gun. I put a pipe cleaner in the shank and heated it until the stem was flexible and I was able to straighten it to match the bend in the stem. I took photos of the pipe and stem after the straightening.I set the stem aside and worked on the rim edges and top with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove the damage to the rim edges and top.I polished the rim top with micromesh sanding pads and wiped it down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. The crown took on a rich shine. I stained the rim top with a Maple and Cherry stain pen to match the finish on the smooth portions on the bowl.With the repair completed I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 15 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The briar really comes alive with the balm.   In the process of rubbing the bowl down with Before & After Balm I noticed a hairline crack in the underside of shank that needed to be addressed. I don’t know if it was present or if it cracked when I fitted the new stem. Either way it needed to be repaired. I sanded the smooth area on the shank end down with 220 grit sandpaper in  preparation for the band I wanted to put on it. I found a nice brass band that was grooved to look like a double band. I heated the band and pressed it in place. The band looked very good on the shank. I filled in the tooth marks on the stem with clear super glue and set it aside to cure. Once it had cured I sanded it down with 220 grit sandpaper. I also sanded the diameter of the stem to match the diameter of the shank. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I polished the acrylic stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.   This restemmed, rusticated Gepetto 303 Rhodesian is a beautiful looking pipe that combines a smooth rim cap and rusticated bowl and shank. The brown stains on the bowl work well to highlight the grain. The polished variegated brown/gold half saddle acrylic stem adds to the mix. I put the finished stem on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel being careful to not buff the stamping. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The rusticated pipe is quite nice and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that like the other pipes I am working that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 57grams/2.05oz. It will soon be added to the Italian Pipe Makers section on the rebornpipes store. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next generation.



Restemming a Dunhill Pipe – A Patent Era 1936 Dunhill Bruyere 35 Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

This Dunhill Billiard was one of five other Billiards that came to us in the same lot as the 1922 Dunhill Bruyere Reading Pipe, a cracked shank 1962 Dunhill Shell Briar Pot and the 1905 BBB Calabash Reading Pipe and 1911 BBB Glokar Poker. It was a great looking Bruyere Billiard that had a Yello-Bole stem instead of the original Dunhill stem. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank with the letter A next to the bowl and the was followed by DUNHILL [over] LONDON. On the right side of the shank it was stamped MADE IN ENGLAND [over] PAT. NO 41757416 that is followed by the shape number 35.

It was another filthy pipe with a thick cake in the bowl and a heavy lava overflow on the rim top. It looked like it had a shiny coat of varnish or shellac on the bowl that would need to be removed so I could work on the rim top and nicks in the bowl sides. The stem would need to be replaced so Jeff and I would look over what he had there in terms of stems we had set aside. Perhaps there would be one in the lot that would work. Jeff removed the Yello-Bole stem from the shank and took photos of the bowl before he did his clean up work.  He took photos of the bowl and rim to give a picture of the thickness of the cake and lava on the rim top. This must have been a favourite pipe to have gone through a Dunhill stem and then pressing a Yello-Bole stem into service. I would need to find a Dunhill stem for it but it had promise even under the thick cake in the bowl.  Jeff took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank but they are quite blurry because of the refection of the shiny varnish/shellac coat. I am including them anyway here as the give a sense of where the stamp was on the shank sides.I turned to Pipedia’s section on Dunhill Root Briar Pipes to get a bit of background on the Dunhill finishes (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill#Root_Briar). I quote:


The original finish produced (usually made using Calabrian briar), and a big part of developing and marketing the brand. It was the only finish from 1910 until 1917. A dark reddish-brown stain. Before the 1950s, there were three possible finishes for Dunhill pipes. The Bruyere was a smooth finish with a deep red stain, obtained through two coats, a brown understain followed by a deep red.

There was a link on the above site to a section specifically written regarding the Bruyere finish (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill_Bruyere). I turned there and have included the information from that short article below.

Initially, made from over century-old briar burls, classified by a “B” (denoted highest quality pipe); “DR” (denoted straight-grained) and an “A” (denoted first quality), until early 1915. After that, they became a high-end subset to the Dunhill ‘Bruyere’. The DR and B pipes, a limited production, they should be distinguished as hand-cut in London from burls as opposed to the Bruyere line which was generally finished from French turned bowls until 1917, when the Calabrian briar started to be used, but not completely. Only in 1920 Dunhill took the final step in its pipe making operation and began sourcing and cutting all of its own bowls, proudly announcing thereafter that “no French briar was employed”.

Bruyere pipes were usually made using Calabrian briar, a very dense and hardy briar that has a modest grain but does very well with the deep red stain.

“Before the 1950s, there were three possible finishes for Dunhill pipes. The Bruyere was a smooth finish with a deep red stain, obtained through two coats, a brown understain followed by a deep red. The Shell finish was the original sandblast with a near-black stain (though the degree to which it is truly black has varied over the years). Lastly, the Root finish was smooth also but with a light brown finish. Early Dunhill used different briars with different stains, resulting in more distinct and identifiable creations… Over the years, to these traditional styles were added four new finishes: Cumberland, Dress, Chestnut and Amber Root, plus some now-defunct finishes, such as County, Russet and Red Bark.”

There was also a link to a catalogue page that gave examples and dates that the various finishes were introduced (https://pipedia.org/wiki/File:Dunnypipescatalog-1.png).I turned to Pipephil’s dating guide to show how I arrived at the date of manufacture for this pipe (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/cledat-en1.html). I am including two charts that are provided there for the dating a pipe. I have drawn a red box around the pertinent section in each chart. Since the pipe I am working on has a suffix 16 that is raised superscript it points to 1920+ 16 for a date of 1936 on the charts below. I now knew that I was working on a Bruyere that came out in 1936 because of the date stamp 16. The shape of the pipe was one of many Billiards that Dunhill put out and the #35 was a normal billiard shape with a taper stem. That helped me figure out the kind of stem I would need to restem the pipe.

I turned to work on the pipe itself. Jeff had carried out his usual thorough cleanup of the pipe. He had reamed it with a PipNet reamer to remove the cake and cleaned the reaming up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the internals of the bowl and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the externals with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed the bowl off with running water. He had included a stem that we thought could work with the pipe and had soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer and once it had soaked rinsed it off with warm water to remove the residual solution. He dried it off and scrubbed it down with Soft Scrub All-Purpose cleaner to remove any oxidation that was still on the stem. The biggest issue with the stem was the large chunk of vulcanite missing on the button on the underside but I thought we could make it work. The stem was from the wrong era and the button was the wrong shape but it would work until the proper stem was located. The pipe looked very clean when I received it. I took a photo of the bowl and the stem I was planning on using. I sanded the tenon to slightly reduce the diameter and leave a snug fit in the shank. It did not take too much to get a nice fit. Note that the diameter of the stem is slightly larger than the shank and it is flattened on the bottom. Since it is larger the flatten portion will not be an issue and with a little work the stem will be a perfect fit.  The fourth photo of the underside of the stem shows the damage to the button that will need to be repaired. I took a photo of the rim top to show the condition. You can see the darkening, scratches and damage on the rim top. It is roughened and slightly out of round. The varnish/shellac coat is peeling on the top. The stem came out looking quite good. There are tooth marks and chatter on the top side near the button and a large chunk of the button missing on the underside. 

I took photos of the stamping on both sides of the shank to try to capture it better than the photos above. It is better and is readable it reads as noted above. Also not the variation in the diameter of the stem that will need to be addressed.It was time to work on the stem. I decided to tackle the repair to the missing part of the button on the underside of the stem first. I would also need to work on the diameter of the stem at the shank and the shape of the stem to match the year it was made. There was a lot of work to do on the stem.

I got the repair station set up. I use a piece of cardboard with two strips of packing tape to mix the putty. I used Loctite 380 rubberized Black CA glue and three capsules of charcoal powder. I made a cardboard wedge covered in packing tape to fit in the slot and keep me from filling the slot in with the mixture.  I put a pool of the glue on the middle of the cardboard base so I could mix the charcoal powder into it.I mixed the powder and the glue together with a dental spatula. I stirred it until I got a thick putty like paste. I used the spatula to place the mixture on the top of the stem and fill in the missing chunk. I always overfill the area as I can easily remove the excess with the Dremel and files. I sprayed the repair with accelerator to harden the surface so I could remove the cardboard wedge. I took out the wedge and took a photo of the stem at this point in the process.I let the repair cure overnight and in the morning I used a rasp and file to begin to shape the stem surface and flatten the repair. It was a good solid repair and with a lot of shaping and sanding it would work well.I continued to shape the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to the button and stem surface smooth. I also worked on the diameter of the stem and removed the flattened bottom. Lots more work to do but it is getting there.I knew that the 1936 stem would not have had the flared fishtail look but probably would have been more of a straight taper. I did a search on Google for a 1936 Dunhill Bruyere in a shape 35 to see if I could find one that would provide a pattern for the shaping of this replacement stem. I found one (https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/1936-dunhill-bruyere-grade-billiard-490781280). I copied several of the photos to get a pattern to work with.

You can see from the photos to the left that the stem was significantly different in shape than the fishtail stem that I was working with. The taper on the sides from the shank to the button was far more gentle and almost straight. The taper on the top and bottom the stem is very similar to what I have. The biggest difference was in the last half inch of the stem and button. I would need to remove the horns or fish tail edges from the button and smooth out the transition on the button end so that it is not flared.

It took some work but I used the Dremel to roughly shape the stem like the sides of the stem and the button edges. I took off a lot of vulcanite and when I was done it was very close. I think the rest of the work would be done with sandpaper.I continued shaping it with 220 grit sandpaper. It is looking very good at this point. I still have work to do on the repair to take care of air bubbles but I am happy with how it is coming out so far.I filled in the air bubbles on the stem and button surfaces with black super glue and set the stem aside for the repairs to cure.I turned my attention to the bowl. I decided to start the restoration on it by working on the damage on the inner edge of the bowl. It had darkening and some damage to the edge. There were burn and reaming damage marks on the edge. I worked it over with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give the edge a light bevel and remove and minimize the damage on the edge. When I finished with it, the bowl and the rim top looked much better.I wiped down the bowl with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the shellac/varnish coat. It removed a lot of the shiny coat but the polishing with micromesh will remove the rest of it. I polished the rim top and bowl with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. The briar began to take on a shine.    I paused the sanding with the micromesh to stain the rim top with a Mahogany Stain pen to match the colour around the bowl. Afterwards I picked up the micromesh pads 3200-12000 and completed the cycle to polish the bowl.