Tag Archives: restaining

Restoring a Sad, Old MLC Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

This older MLC bent billiard is a turn of the 20th century pipe. The initials stand for Mary Linkman Company. The company was named for the mother of the same Linkman who eventually branded pipes under that same name and then eventually became the Dr. Grabow pipe manufacturer with which we are familiar. If you have followed this blog for a while you have come to know that I love really old pipes and this one fits the bill. It is stamped MLC in an oval with no other stamping on the shank. The ferrule is brass and has faux hallmarks on the left side. They are worn but still readable with a bright light and a lens. It is another small pipe, slightly under 4 inches long and 1 ½ inches tall. The stem is Bakelite or Redmanol and has a lot of small spidering cracks in the flat portions of the stem on both sides. Both sides of the saddle are split the entire length of the saddle. There is very little tooth chatter or and minor tooth marks on both sides near the button. Jeff took the photos that follow before started the cleanup. (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-m6.html)The pipe was in really rough shape. The finish was worn and spotted with paint specks, grime and nicks in the briar. The stem was split and worn. The bone tenon looked good but the band on the shank was loose and spun around the shank. The wear and tear on the brass band and the tarnish left is a mottled mess. The bowl had been reamed somewhere in the process so the cake was not thick. The lava on the rim was light. The inner and outer edge of the bowl was undamaged. The rim close up shows the cake and the peeling lava on the surface of the bowl.Jeff took photos of the sides of the bowl and the bottom side to show the wear and tear on the finish. There were some deep gouges in the briar and a lot of paint speckles on the briar. The stamping on the left side of the shank is quite clear – MLC in an oval. It had originally been gold leaf but it was worn. The stamping on right side of the oval was lighter than the rest of the stamping.I did some digging on the net to see what I could find out about the MLC brand. I knew that it was a Linkman pipe but could not remember much about it. I turned to my go to site for quick information – Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/M._Linkman_%26_Co). The information did not add much to my understanding other than pin down the date to the late 1890s or early 1900s. Included in the article was a photo of Mary Linkman, her son Louis and August Fisher at their Chicago Office. The photo is from Mary’s obituary and is a fascinating piece of history. The scan of the photo and obituary are courtesy of August Fisher’s granddaughter.Jeff took some photos of the stem. The right side of the saddle stem was split from the end up to the transition to the blade of the stem. The right side also had a crack. It looked to me that someone had turned the bone tenon too deep into the stem and split the saddle. The flat surfaces of the top and bottom of the stem were filled with a series of small spidering cracks. The stem, like the bowl was covered with paint flecks or spray. You can see from the first photo that the band has been turned all the way around so that the worn faux hallmarks are upside down and on the wrong side. Jeff cleaned the exterior of the pipe with some Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush and rinsed it off under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth and the soap had removed the paint flecks and the deeply ground in grime on the finish. He ran pipe cleaners and alcohol through the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem to remove dust and debris that had collected there. He carefully scrubbed out the cracks and splits in the sides of the saddle stem using a tooth brush and rinsing it in water. Once the pipe was clean, he packed it up and sent it my way for the repair and restoration work. I took photos of the pipe when I unwrapped it on my worktable. It is an intriguing little pipe that caught my attention. When I unscrewed the stem the ferrule fell off in my hand. I laid out the parts of the pipe and took the following photo. It shows the nicks, dents, sandpits and flaws in the briar. The band looked as if it was never glued to the shank. The briar is clean and the inside of the ferrule had no remnants of glue. It was clean.I took some close up photos of the stem to show the cracks and splits in the saddle portion. The stem was worn and battered. The bone tenon was darkened from tobacco smoke and tars. The edges on the tenon were worn down and when the stem was on the pipe it was over turned or over clocked.  I cleaned out the cracks in the side of the saddle stem with a dental pick and a damp cotton swab until the inside of the crack was clear of debris that would cause the stem repair to be very visible. I dried the stem off with a cotton pad. I filled in the cracks on both sides of the stem with amber super glue and set the stem aside to dry.When the repair had cured I sanded it smooth to blend it into the rest of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I sanded all of tooth chatter and marks out of the surface of the stem as well to smooth out all of the damage. I wanted it to disappear into the amber Bakelite. After I had smoothed out the repair I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil and set the stem aside to dry. (I almost forgot to add this piece of information. Just before I polished the stem I painted the threads on the tenon with clear fingernail polish to build them up so the stem would align properly when I put it in place.) The bowl needed a lot of work. I wiped the bowl down with acetone and filled in the nicks, dents, flaws and sandpits in the briar with clear super glue. I sanded the fills smooth with 220 grit sandpaper until they blended into the surface of the briar. I wiped the bowl down again with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the sanding debris. I gave the shank end a coat of white all-purpose glue and put the ferrule in place with the faux hallmarks aligned with the stamping on the shank side. I left it to dry and worked on another pipe for a while. Once the glue had set I sanded the bowl and the ferrule with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to smooth out the scratches left behind from sanding with the 220 grit paper. The photos below show the bowl at this point in the process of the restoration. I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain and flamed it to set it in the grain. I figured that the dark brown stain would hide the repairs and give the bowl the original rich colour. I set it aside to cure while I went to work for the day.I buffed the bowl with red Tripoli on the buffing wheel to remove some of the heavy coat of stain. I sanded the bowl with 2400-6000 grit micromesh sanding pads to make the finish more translucent so the grain would stand out when it was polished. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and set it aside to dry. I touched up the gold filled MLC Oval with Rub’n Buff European Gold. I applied it with a cotton swab and hand buffed the excess off with a cotton pad.I carefully buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The photos of the finished pipe are shown below. It has come a long way from what it looked like when I started. It turned out to be a beautiful pipe that has served pipe men well for well over 100 years. Thanks for looking.

Restoring a French made Horn Stem Folk Art Rhodesian


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe to the worktable was one my brother picked up on EBay. I think the folk art carving in the shank and bowl drew him to this one. It has what looks like a poppy on each side of the bowl with leaves on the front and back as well as on the shank and the bottom of the bowl. The left side of the shank has the word CANNES carved into the briar and contained in rectangle with a thin box carved around it. I believe this is the French city of Cannes which is located on the French Riviera. I wonder if the pipe man who carved the pipe might have come from there or at least dreamed of that place. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Vielle Bruyer over Corse which translates from the French as Old Briar Corsica. The horn stem makes me wonder about the possibility of the pipe being a trench art piece carved in the trenches of WWI. I am not sure I will ever know for certain but I think that it would be an interesting addition to the story of this old pipe. It would be great to be able to add the information about the carver to the story of the carving and why he chose what he did – poppies and leaves with the word CANNES on the shank side.The pipe was dirty with grit and grime deep into the petals and centre of each flower and lines and grooves of the leaves. The horn stem was dried and was rough and dirty as well. It was also well gnawed leaving behind deep tooth gouges on the top of the stem and a bite through on the underside of the stem. The button was worn down and the slot in the end was almost filled in with tars and oils. It made me wonder how air was pulled through the shank through the stem.The photo below shows the dirt and stains from the smoker’s hands on the shank and the bowl and the stem itself. It was an oily dark substance that had coloured the briar and the horn stem.Jeff took the above photos and the ones that follow to show the condition of the pipe before he began to do his magic on them cleaning them up. The bowl had a thick cake in it that had overflowed like lava to the top of the bowl. The inner edge of the bowl had nicks and cuts in it that looked like it had been damaged somewhere along its long life by a reaming with a knife. The next two photos show the bowl and the rim. The exterior of the bowl also had spots of paint on the briar that had been either dripped or smeared on the bowl sides. Jeff took some photos of the sides and the bottom of the bowl to give a clear picture of the carving on the pipe – the flowers and the leaves. The anonymous carver had carved a rectangle around the stamping on the right side of the shank. The stamping is clear and readable and as mentioned above translates as Old Briar Corsica. You can also see all the debris in the grooves of the carving. At the shank/stem junction you can see a small crack opening in the horn stem.The next two photos show the bowl with the stem removed. The stem had a spiral stinger screwed into the metal tenon on the stem. The tenon itself was also threaded and screwed into the horn of the stem.The next two photos show the damage to the stem surface. Not only were there tooth marks on both sides of the stem and a bite through on the underside near the button there was also a lot of damage to the button itself. The horn was very dirty and was rough and worn feeling. The horn had dried out and was close to delaminating. The first two photos give an overview look at the stem  and the second set of photos show a close up view of the damage at the button end. Jeff carried out his usual detailed cleanup on the pipe. He reamed the bowl with his PipNet and Savinelli Fitsall Reamer and took the cake all the way back to bare briar. He scraped and scrubbed the rim and the bowl with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap until he had cleaned off all of the oils and debris from the bowl. He scrubbed the horn stem with the soap as well until it was clean. He rinsed the pipe and stem under running water to remove the grime and the soap. He cleaned the internals of the pipe with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. He unscrewed the spiral stinger and cleaned out the airway in the stem with alcohol and cotton swabs. Once the pipe was clean it joined a shipment to me in Canada. I took photos of it before I started my part of the work. It is a pleasure to work on clean pipes. I just had a thought about the pipe. There is something about the shape and the French stamping that makes me think it may well be an old Butz Choquin 1025 Rhodesian. I have a BC Rhodesian 1025 on my work table so I have included it below. You can see the similarity of the shapes. He cleaned the rim top and in doing so revealed the damage to the top of the bowl. The rim top has some deep gouges from the flat surface and the inner edge has some large nicks as well. Fortunately none of these go too deep into the briar so it should clean up well. The walls of the bowl look very good.The stem looks better than it did in the pre-clean photos but it is still in very rough condition. The ground in grease and grime in the surface of the horn has been removed. I am hoping that it will polish up better once I have repaired the damage on the stem.I sanded the areas around the damaged spots near the button and on the button with 220 grit sandpaper in preparation for repairing it with amber super glue. I also recut the edge of the button to give the button area definition before I repaired the button top and bottom as well.I pushed my wedge of cardboard covered with packing tape into the slot in the button so that I could repair the hole in the underside of the stem. This usually is a very simple repair. This time it got complicated. The wedge allowed the amber glue to slip past it into the airway in the stem. I was able to remove the wedge but the airway itself was sealed closed. Arghhhhh… just what I needed, more work on this old stem. I slipped a pipe cleaner into the stem from the tenon end and measuring it could see that the clog was not thick. I could put a pipe cleaner into the slot as well. From this I surmised that the blockage was about ¼ inch thick and it was hardened super glue. I decided to use a 1/16 inch drill bit and using my Dremel on the slowest speed carefully redrilled the airway. It is easy to go too far when drilling so I chucked it deep in the Dremel leaving only enough bit to penetrate the clog. I went straight in and broke through easily. I went in from each side of the slot as well to clean out the Y of the slot. I let out a deep breath – I had repaired my faux pas. I apologize for the fact that the whole process flustered me enough that I did not take any photos of this part of the process.

The good news was that the hole in the underside of the stem was closed off. I filled it with some more of the amber super glue and also added some more to the tooth marks and the split on the left side of the stem at the shank end. I have a piece of ebony that I have drilled out the size of a tenon so I stuck the stem in that to allow the glue to cure. The drilled block allows me to repair both sides of the stem and let them cure at the same time.Once the glue had cured I used a needle file to recut and reshape the edge of the button on both sides of the stem. I also reshaped the button surface on both sides at the same time. I used a round needle file to shape the slot in the end of the button and smooth it out. I set the stem aside for a while and turned to address the damage to the rim top. I topped the bowl on a sanding board with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage surface of the rim. I used a folded piece of 180 and 220 grit sandpaper to give the inner edge of the rim a slight bevel. This bevel took care of the damage to the inside edge of the bowl. I wiped the bowl down with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the remaining finish and the grime from the sanding process. I set the bowl aside to let the acetone evaporate and worked on the stem again. I sanded the repaired areas with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the surrounding horn. While they are shinier than the rest of the stem at this point they have filled in the surfaces and the hole and the stem is smooth once again.I worked on the slot in the button with a folded piece of sandpaper to smooth it out. I will need to do more work on that area but the shape is correct. That was the last remnant of the clogged airway that had to go. The flow of air through the stem is even and smooth now.The stem was loose in the shank so I painted the tenon with some clear fingernail polish to give it enough bite that it would sit snug in the shank. Once the polish had dried I pushed the stem into the shank to check out the fit. I took a picture of the pipe as it stood at this point in the process. I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain and flamed it with a Bic lighter set the stain in the grain of the briar. I repeated the process until the coverage was even all the way around the bowl. I flamed it and set it aside to dry.When the stain had dried for an hour I took it off the stand and took photos of the bowl at this point. The scratches in the briar are very clear in the photos. I was going to need to do more work on the bevel of the inner edge of the rim as the damage was very evident in the top down view of the bowl. Before I worked on that though I wiped the bowl down with acetone on cotton pads to lighten the stain and make it more transparent. At this point I paused on the finish of the bowl and reworked the bevel of the inner edge of the rim with 220 grit sandpaper. I made the bevel a bit steeper to smooth out the damage on right and the left side.I wiped the rim down with alcohol on a cotton pad and restained the area with the dark brown aniline stain. I repeated the wipe down with alcohol to get the finish on the rim to match the bowl colours. I sanded the smooth surfaces of the briar with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and wiped the bowl down with alcohol after each pad. I wanted to lighten the high spots on the carving while leaving the grooves and deeper marks on the leaves dark. I polished it further with 3200-4000 grit micromesh sanding pads to remove more of the brown stain and polish the briar further.  I finished polishing the bowl with 6000-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. Each grit pad brought more shine to the briar. The scratches in the smooth parts of the bowl add character to the old pipe and probably tell tales of pockets and packs that the pipe was carried in those many years ago. With the bowl  polished I turned to polishing the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiped it down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and wiped it down with the oil after each pad. I screwed the spiral stinger into the tenon before doing the final polishing. I finished the polishing with the 6000-12000 grit pads and I gave it a coat after each pad. The rubdown with oil was finished and I set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond. I used a light touch on the briar so as not to get the polish in the grooves of the carving. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth and it really deepened the shine. What started as a tired looking piece of memorabilia has turned into a beautiful looking pipe that is ready to load with a favourite tobacco and be enjoyed. The horn stem just shines with a new translucence that was long lost when I startd the process. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. If you can add any information to the brand or to the carving leave a message in the comments below. Thanks for your help. Thanks for journeying with my on this old timer.

Cannes46Cannes47 Cannes50

Revitalizing a Distinctive L J Peretti of Boston – Large Full Bent Egg


Blog by Dal Stanton

I’ve grown to like L J Peretti pipes and I guess you could say, that I’ve started collecting them.  Why?  My son gave me my first Peretti for Christmas which I restored by splicing the missing part of the stem by cannibalizing another:  A Christmas Gift in need of a stem splice – L J Peretti Squared Shank Billiard.  It turned out to be a great smoker and I like the stout squared shank.It was my research with this pipe that I discovered the mystique of the Boston-based, L. J. Peretti name and its place in Americana pipe history as the second oldest US Tobacconist started in 1870 (Quoted from Lopes in Pipedia).  The L J Peretti Co. continues to serve patrons today in their Boston shop on 2 ½ Park Square by being one of the few places where one can bring his/her pipe and be guided by experienced tobacconists and test several selections before deciding to purchase!  I was also attracted to the Peretti story because Boston is a cool city – my son lived there and I enjoyed my visits.The next Peretti I serendipitously received was from a colleague working in Ukraine – a square shanked Rhodesian.  He brought it to me when we met last winter in Oslo, Norway, to watch a world-class Biathlon event (skiing and shooting).  He wasn’t utilizing him anymore and asked me if I would.  Yes!  It’s a smaller pipe and good for a shorter smoke.  Suddenly, I had two Perettis of Boston!  Both, strong, squared shanks – I liked them.Then I drank the Peretti Kool Aid.  I bought my own Peretti – well, that’s not the whole truth.  I bought 10 pipes of Peretti in a lot for sale on eBay from a seller located in Everett, Massachusetts, just north of Boston.  I guess you could say that I’m now a Peretti collector!  Of the 10 pictured from the eBay seller below, I chose 4 to add to my personal collection – one of the Oom Paul’s (many to choose from!), the Calabash (top left), the Billiard EX (bottom), and the massive Full Bent Egg in the center of the picture. The remaining Peretti cousins will eventually be restored and put up for adoption in The Pipe Steward Store Front to benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria.  I’m pressing to restore and ready the Peretti Full Bent Egg for service because my wife and I will be returning to the US from Bulgaria for a few months and I was hoping to bring this new Peretti along!  Now on my worktable, on the 10th floor of a former Communist block apartment building, I take some pictures of the L J Peretti Full Bent Egg in the condition he arrived from Everett, Mass. The pipe is generally in good shape.  It shows normal wear and usage.  The briar surface is grimy.  The narrow, cylindrical bowl is laden with cake which needs removal.  The stem is heavily oxidized with tooth chatter and some compressions present.  This L J Peretti has enjoyed a lot of use showing that the former steward enjoyed his company.  The nomenclature is situated on the left-side of the shank and simply reads, ‘LJ PERETTI CO’ and is very worn.  I’ll be careful to preserve it.  There are no other markings that I can tell.  I take a magnifying glass to the left side of the full bent saddle stem to see if there might be a Peretti ‘P’ stamp hiding in the oxidation, but I see no sign.  I’m anxious to recommission this newest of my L J Perretti collection – an extra-large Full Bent Egg.  The first step is to put the full bent stem into the OxiClean bath to raise the serious oxidation on the stem.  I leave it in the bath overnight. Then, using the Pipnet Reaming Kit (minus blade #3 which broke during the last restoration), I attack the cake in the chamber.  I use only the smallest two blades, and the cake easily surrenders.  The carbon cake was crusty – like hard toast, and it comes out readily.  I finetune the reaming with the Savinelli Fitsall Reaming Knife which can reach down the long, deep chamber.  To clean the walls further and to reveal fresh briar for a new start, I wrap 240 grade paper around a Sharpie Pen and sand the chamber.  Finally, I wipe out the chamber with a cotton pad and alcohol – ridding the chamber of the carbon dust resulting from the reaming.  The chamber condition looks good.  The pictures show the progress. Next, I clean the external briar surface.  I do this using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a cotton pad.  I also employ the use of a brass wire brush to work on the tight rim of the Egg shape as well as my thumb nail to scrape the crusted briar and lava.  Grimy was an understatement.  The stummel was dirty and the rim came clean through the process, but revealed some burn damage to the slender, vulnerable rim.  I’ll need to top the rim gently to remove the scorched, ‘charcoaly’ wood.  The cleaning also reveals a beautiful piece of briar – inspecting the surface I find no fills.  The large Egg bowl shows a lot of grain movement – very nice!  My day is ending and I will let the internals of the stummel clean through the night using a kosher salt/alcohol soak.  I’ve never started with the soak before.  I’ve always worked first on the internals with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and isopropyl 95% and then followed with a soak.  I’ll do the soak and see how it does.  I fill the chamber with the kosher salt, that does not leave an aftertaste as does the iodized variety.  Then I fashion a cotton wick by stretching and twisting a cotton ball and then stuffing it down the mortise.  Its purpose is to draw the tars and oils out during the soak.  I then fill the chamber with alcohol using a large eye dropper until it surfaces over the salt.  I wait a few minutes and top off the alcohol once more.   Then I set the stummel in an egg cart and turn off the lights. Morning has arrived and I check out the progress with the salt/alcohol soak.  Both the kosher salt and the cotton wick have darkened indicating the nocturnal stealth activities of cleaning.  I remove the expended salt and wipe the chamber with a paper towel and run long-wired bristled brushes in the bowl and through the mortise to remove salt crystals.  I then use pipe cleaners and cotton swabs dipped in isopropyl 95% to clean up the leftover gunk from the soak.  There were additional oils and tars in the mortise – in the moisture trap underneath the airway drilling, but all clean up quickly and well.  I also scrape the mortise walls with dental probes and a pointed needle file to augment the cleaning.  Internals clean!It’s time to take the stem out of the OxiClean bath and clean it up.  The oxidation has surfaced well during the soak and using 600 grit sanding paper I wet sand the stem to remove the top layer of oxidation and tooth damage to the bit.  I follow with 0000 steel wool to reduce the oxidation further and buff up the vulcanite. I now take a closer look at the bit to see what tooth chatter remains.  Using 240 grit paper I sand the areas where tooth dents remain on the top and bottom bit.  There also remains a dent on the lower button lip. At this point I use the heat method to help minimize the dents that remain.  With a lighter, I pass the flame over the bit area and ‘paint’ the vulcanite surface.  I don’t want to ‘cook’ the vulcanite but warm it sufficiently to expand the rubber.  When this happens, the dents seek their original pre-dental positions.  This works very well and the dent on the lower button lip has all but disappeared.  I return to using 240 grit paper, followed by 600 then steel wool and the damaged bit areas look great.  This time around I will not need to use CA glue to repair the dents.With the stem in hand I turn to cleaning the internal airway.  Using only a few pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol and the stem is good to go!Looking now at the scorched rim, I need to remove the charred briar at the 1 to 2 o’clock position on the rim in the picture below.  The Egg shape bowl sets off the rim as the shape tightens as it moves toward the rim.  It creates a very tight look with the top.  The rim appears originally to have been crowned – a gently rounded rim.  I will aim toward restoring the crowned rim.  First, I top the rim very little – it’s not easy as the shank extends further than the plane of the rim so it will not sit on the topping board.  I must hang the shank over the topping board edge to allow the rim to sit flat.  I then gently rotate the stummel in a limited fashion.  I don’t take much off and then switch to 600 grit paper on the board and rotate the stummel more. Now, using 240 grit paper rolled, I sand the inside of the rim creating a beveling effect and removing the remaining damaged briar.  After beveling and cleaning the internal rim lip, I gently bevel the outer lip of the rim.  This is sharpening and restoring a rounding of the tight rim.  I follow using 600 grit paper which smooth the rim more and enhances the crowned effect I want.  The pictures show the results – I like the look of the rim – it enhances the Egg shape.Looking at this large block of briar, the Bird’s Eye grains are wonderfully portrayed in the first 2 pictures below – large landscapes of grain movement – I like that!  From my original Peretti research I emailed the L J Peretti Tobacconist Shop in Boston with a question about where their pipes were manufactured.   Tom was kind enough to respond, saying that over the years they had used many different sources, but most had been produced by Arlington Briars.  I found this about Arlington in Pipedia:

Arlington Briar Pipes Corporation was founded in 1919 in Brooklyn, New York, and produced the Arlington, Briarlee, Firethorn, Krona and Olde London brands among dozens of others, primarily acting as a subcontractor making pipes to be sold under other brand names. Among others, in the 1950’s, Arlington turned pipes for the famed Wilke Pipe Shop in New York City. The corporation was dissolved by the State of New York as inactive on December 6, 1978. 

Where ever this L J Peretti Full Bent Egg was birthed, the block of briar used was an excellent specimen and it is now showcased in this striking pipe.  I see no fills on this stummel, only minor nicks which is normal for any pipe’s experience.  I use a two grades of light sanding sponges to remove these small imperfections. I continue with the grain’s emergence using micromesh pads.  I begin by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400, followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000, then 6000 to 12000.  There is nothing quite like the natural briar shine that emerges during the micromesh process.  The pictures show the transformation. I will stain the bowl keeping it on the lighter side by using Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye and adding alcohol to it.  I use a 2 to 1 ratio of Light Brown to alcohol.  I first clean the stummel with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  I mix the ratio of dye/alcohol in a shot glass and insert a cork into the shank to serve as a handle.  I heat the stummel with a hot air gun to expand the briar better to receive the dye.  After warmed, I use a folded pipe cleaner to apply the dye to the bowl.  After fully covered with dye, I fire the aniline dye using a lit candle.  The alcohol burns off setting the pigment in the grain.  I wait a few minutes then repeat the process.  I then put the stummel aside to rest. With the stummel resting, I turn again to the stem and wet sand it using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000, then 6000 to 12000.  After each cycle, I apply Obsidian Oil to restore vitality to the vulcanite.  The full bent saddle stem was a chore to hang on to and sand with the tight angles, but the stem looks good and has that new vulcanite pop! It is finally time to unwrap the stained and fired stummel to see what we have underneath!  I enjoy this part of the restoration process primarily to see the grain emerge – this large Egg shaped stummel holds great promise.  I mount a felt buffing wheel onto the Dremel and set the speed at the lowest which is 20% of its power.  I apply the more abrasive Tripoli compound to the stummel to do the unwrapping of the crusted shell.  To reach into the crook between the shank and stummel, I switch to an angled felt buffing wheel to remove the wrapper from the hard to reach place. To lighten the stain and to blend the dye, using a cotton pad wetted with alcohol, I wipe the stummel.  This is an advantage of using aniline dyes for staining.  The alcohol wipe clouds the finish but this is normal.  I follow now by mounting a cotton cloth buffing wheel onto the Dremel and set at 40% speed, I apply the less abrasive Blue Diamond compound to buff-sand the stummel, as well as the full bent saddle stem which I remount. After completing the application of Blue Diamond compound on stem and stummel, to remove compound dust before waxing, I buff the pipe with a felt cloth.  Then, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel and maintain the speed at 40% and apply several coats of carnauba wax to the Egg shape stummel and full bent saddle stem.  The wax protects the surfaces but it also causes the shine and natural gloss of the briar to shine – I don’t know how to describe the natural beauty of briar when it shines through – and this L J Peretti is making a statement!  After completing the application of carnauba wax I give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing and I’m enjoying the view.This L J Peretti Full Bent Egg is a beautiful example of briar grain coming and going.  The size and the feel of the large Egg stummel in my hand fits like a glove.  The tight, cylindrical bowl’s apex with the thin, crowned rim is classy.  I’m happy to add this Peretti to my Peretti collection and I look forward to trying him out with a bowl of my favorite blend, Lane BC.  The pipes I restore and don’t adopt myself, are put in The Pipe Steward Store Front which benefits our work with the Daughters of Bulgaria, women and girls who have been sexually exploited and trafficked.  Thanks for joining me!

A Goliath Among Giants – Releasing a Savinelli Goliath 619EX Italy


Blog by Dal Stanton

Have you ever trolled through the 1000s of “Vintage Estate Pipe” offerings on eBay’s auction block and then, one pipe seizes your attention, and you know that you will be bringing it home?  When I saw the Savinelli Goliath, I saw the pipe – not the Savinelli name, nor the condition information offered by the seller.  I could tell it was a huge pipe – I like big pipes not just sitting in my palm, but occupying it.  I also saw the rustification beautifully textured across the paneled (octagon shaped) Billiard landscape.  Lastly, but not with waning attention, I saw the Cumberland vulcanite swirl – not just the stem but also the shank extension.  The Cumberland display was like frosting on the cake.  Here are a few pictures I saw from the seller in California.This Savinelli Goliath 619EX of Italy may represent my last restoration for several months as my wife and I return to the US from Bulgaria to reconnect with family and friends. Our organization here in Bulgaria, is a ‘not-for-profit’ so we also spend time reconnecting with the generous, dedicated people who provide their resources to enable our efforts in Bulgaria to happen.  Before my wife and I head to the US, we will spend one last bit of time on the Black Sea coast enjoying the sun and sand, and I wanted to restore a pipe from my own personal collection’s “Help Me!” basket.  So, this big boy will not be going into The Pipe Steward’s Store Front for a new steward to adopt and hence, benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria, one of our important activities, helping women and girls who have been sexually exploited and often trafficked.

The Savinelli name needs almost no introduction as one of the most well-known Italian pipe houses and whose pipes are highly sought after (See the TobaccoPipes Link for Savinelli’s History).    The Goliath line is no longer produced by Savinelli.  Eric Squires, from SmokingPipes.com, observes,

I’ve only seen a few Savinelli Goliaths, but between the name and the fact that those few I’ve seen have all been “EX” sized pipes, I would presume the entire series was all-EX. Finish-wise they look much like the Hercules line, with the significant difference being the presence of Cumberland ferrules and stems.

The Savinelli Hercules line is still produced and examples of the differences between the former Goliaths and current Hercules offerings can be seen in the Hercules shape 619EX also from Smoking Pipes.  It looks like my Goliath without the Cumberland stem and shank extension.The following now defunct Smoking Pipes ad for the Savinelli Goliath 619EX does all the work for me regarding description of this massive pipe.  I find Andrew Wike’s description spot on.

Savinelli’s Goliath line is aptly named, presented some of their classic shapes in extra-large, EX proportions and topped them with Cumberland mounts and stems. Here we see the “619” bent Foursquare rendered positively massive. It’s finished in a crisp, uniform rustication, offering plenty of texture in hand, without compromising the paneled shape’s clean lines. Length: 6.19 in./157.23 mm.

Weight: 2.50 oz./70.87 g.

Bowl Height: 2.12 in./53.85 mm.

Chamber Depth: 1.80 in./45.72 mm.

Chamber Diameter: 0.89 in./22.61 mm.

Outside Diameter: 1.65 in./41.91 mm.

Stem Material: Vulcanite

Filter: 9mm

Shape: Panel

Finish: Rusticated

Material: Briar

Country: Italy

These pictures that I take of the Savinelli Goliath 619EX from the worktable here in Sofia, Bulgaria, form the starting planks of rebuilding the bridge from where this massive pipe is now and the pristine picture depicted above.  I don’t have huge hands, but just to give a sense of the size of the stummel, I conclude with a ‘palm shot’ where I’m imagining this Goliath in my rotation! The nomenclature is located on the underside of the shank.  To the left is stamped ‘SAVINELLI’ [over] GOLIATH.  To the right of this, is stamped the Savinelli logo followed by ‘619EX’.  Without success, I look through several catalogues featuring Savinelli lines and I am unable to unearth the Goliath to try to date the production history.  I sent the question to Savinelli’s current ‘Contact’ page in their website to see if someone might fill in those details – I’m not holding my breath.  I find this nice example of a Goliath, slightly different shape, at Chris’ Pipe Pages and I discover something that I had totally overlooked.This example provides pictures of a stem stamping on the topside of the Cumberland stem!  Looking more closely at my Goliath’s stem, I discover the faintest shadows of the stamping.  Now that I know it’s there, I’ll do my utmost to protect it!  I take a picture of the phantom.I’m anxious to recommission this Savinelli Goliath and introduce him to the other pipes in my rotation!  He needs some work.  The stummel has plenty of grime in the rustified surface.  The cake in the chamber is thick and it needs to be removed to expose fresh briar.  The rim has lava flow and crusting.  The Cumberland stem has heavy oxidation and the former steward of this Goliath was a definite clencher – the bit/button area is pocketed with chatter and dents.  The button lip also has damage.  We have some goliath challenges, but I’m glad to start the restoration.  The first thing I do is cover the phantom stem mark with petroleum jelly and put the Cumberland stem in the OxiClean bath to soak and to raise the oxidation. With stummel in hand, the first thing is to ream the ample chamber removing the thick accumulation of cake on the chamber wall.  Using the Pipnet Reaming Kit, I use the full array of 4 blades available to me, starting with the smallest blade. After putting paper towel down to minimize clean up I go to work.  The cake is hard as a brick and it takes more effort than normal.  I wonder if this bowl has ever seen the likes of a reaming blade before.  As I continue to work with the first, smallest blade, images of oil drilling come to my mind….  I’ve never taken a progress picture of a reaming project before, but I do drilling down into the deep recesses of this Goliath.  The first picture shows the starting point.  The second picture shows the shape of the smaller blade as it makes progress down the throat of the carbon cake – maybe just past the halfway point.  The cavern beyond is visible.  The last picture shows the break-through to the floor of the chamber.  Now, the next larger blade, blade number 2.  That blade worked through to the floor and then to blade #3, the next larger. I was just thinking that I seldom worked on a pipe requiring blade #3, let alone #4.  I was also just thinking, “Let the blade do the work, and don’t put a lot of torque on it.  The Pipnet system is made of heavy duty plastic.  Not long after those fleeting thoughts, blade #3 had a major failure and the extending blade part broke off from the insert part, stuck in the hand turning tool.  Ugh!  I gently coax the parts out of the stummel and tool, and put them aside for potential repair! Unyielding, I mount blade #4 and coax it gently down the chamber, overtaking the short-comings of blade #3.  I record the completion of the Pipnet progress, clean the carbon dust which is much.  The chamber looks good, but I’ve yet to finish. I finish up the reaming, which is no perfunctory job this time, using the Savinelli Pipe Knife, which more accurately is the Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Reamer (See: Savinelli site).  I found it on eBay sometime back after Steve bragged so much about his during many of his restorations on Reborn Pipes!  It did not come cheap, but I have enjoyed its talent to finetune a reaming project. After using the Fitsall Pipe Reamer to remove more carbon in hard to reach places, I take 240 grit paper, wrap it around a Sharpie Pen and sand the chamber wall clearing out the last remaining deposits of carbon cake and presenting fresh briar for a new start.  To finish the internal cleanup, I use cotton swabs and pipe cleaners wetted with alcohol to clean the mortise.  I also employ the long, wired bristle brushes for the cleaning.  The mortise is cleaning up well.  Later, I will give the bowl a Kosher Salt/alcohol soak to clean further and freshen it. I let the stem soak overnight in the OxiClean bath.  I take it out and with thumb firmly over the phantom stem stamp, I work on removing the oxidation by wet sanding with 600 grit paper then with a buffing with 0000 grade steel wool. I like working on clean stems.  I use pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% to work on the internal airway of the stem. I use cotton swabs to clean the filter bay. With the condition of the chamber, bit and grime on the stummel, I expected some gunk deposits in the stem and filter bay.  I was not disappointed, but after several courses of pipe cleaners and cotton swabs and alcohol, the gunk gave way to a state of cleanliness.Turning now to the rustified surface of the Goliath, I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with cotton pads and a bristled tooth brush to scrub the grime off the surface as well as the rim.  After scrubbing, I rinse the stummel with warm tap water without flooding the inside with water.  The grime has come off, but the finish has as well for the most part.  The rim is still a bit dark, but that’s not a problem.  I want to reestablish a very smooth and perhaps a bit lightened rim, as I’ve seen exemplified with newer Goliaths and the Hercules series.  To reestablish a crisp rim and remove the dings, scratches and darkened briar, I will lightly top it.  There is already an internal rim bevel which will be re-sharpened as well.  With the chopping block serving as my topping board, I put a sheet of 240 grit paper on it and rotate the stummel in circles over the paper.  I don’t need to remove much – my goal is cleaning and crisper lines and to remove the scorched briar on the internal ring.  After the 240 grit paper, I put 600 grit paper down and repeat the process.  The rim plateau looks good, but the black ring is now more distinct.  To address the blackened ring, I use a piece of rolled 120 grit paper and recut the bevel.  After this, I smooth the bevel more with 240 grit paper rolled tightly and then with 600 grit paper.  After the beveling, I again put the stummel on the topping board with 600 grit paper to give a finishing touch to the bevel lines.  I still see a hint of the dark ring but I’m satisfied with where the rim is.Switching from the rim, I now want to work on the Cumberland shank extension.  To break up oxidation and remove scratching, I lightly sand the surface with 240 grit sanding paper.  I follow this using 600 grit paper then 0000 grade steel wool.  The Cumberland shank extension looks good. Now, back to the stem and to address the bit repairs needed.  Up to this point, I’ve only dealt with the oxidation in the stem.  Next, I will use the heating method to expand the vulcanite to minimize the dents on the upper and lower bit.  There are dent compressions on the button lips as well.  I take fresh pictures of the upper and lower bit area to mark the starting point.  It is apparent, based upon how far forward the tooth dents are on the stem, the former steward smoked the Goliath without hands at times.  To counter the weight of the stummel, one would have to clench the stem toward the center. Using a butane lighter, I pass the stem through the flame, ‘painting’ the damaged areas with the heat.  I do this several times until it appears that I’ve reached maximum benefit of the heating method.  The deepest dents and compression points remain, but are tighter and more defined by the expansion of the vulcanite. Now, I use 240 grit paper and a flat needle file to sand down the area more.  I work primarily on the lower button lip area with the flat needle file to redefine the edge of the lip.  After sanding and filing, I’m left with the areas needing patching. I wipe and clean the bit, upper and lower, with a cotton pad and alcohol to prepare it for the drop-filling with CA Glue.  I use transparent Hot Stuff Special ‘T’ to do the filling, by applying it with a toothpick. For the deep fills on the lower bit, I allow ample glue to fill the area. I spray the patches with an accelerator to shorten the curing time.  Starting with a flat needle file I remove the excess CA glue to bring the mounds down close to the stem surface as well as shape the buttons working off the excess glue.  After the file, I use 240 grit paper to sand the patch mounds down to the vulcanite surface, removing the excess CA and blending as much as 240 paper allows.  Then, I follow the 240 with 600 grit paper which fine tunes the patch surfaces and blends further.  At this point, I used a method for the first time.  Note the first picture below – this is the upper bit and what transpired which I didn’t picture, I’ve pictured in the second picture, of the lower bit.  As often is the case, CA glue patches after curing will have air pockets which are addressed by painting the patch area with thin CA glue which fills the small pocket holes and after dried, removing the film of excess glue with sanding.  I notice that the patch areas, where the air pockets emerge, were whiteish.  Often this is vulcanite dust lodged in the pockets.  I wipe off the patch areas with a cotton pad and alcohol but pockets remained white as in the second picture.  The white is the cured CA glue itself which I’ve seen before.  What I also have seen before is that if you paint the white again with CA to fill the air pockets, the white spot is also sealed by the transparent CA glue and will show.  What I do, for both the upper (which is not shown above) and the lower bit (which is shown below) is to darken the whitened patch material using a black fine point Sharpie Pen.  After this, I paint with the thin CA glue to fill the pockets.  Black blends much better than white does on vulcanite – or in this case, a black/red swirl of a Cumberland stem.  After the CA glue cures, I will file/sand it down in the same manner as the upper bit.Turning again to the stummel, before I stain the stummel, I continue sanding the rim plateau with the full array (9) of micromesh pads 1500 to 12000.  Since I forgot to take a start picture, I brought this picture forward again for comparison.Now, also using the micromesh pads, I work on the Cumberland shank extension first using pads 1500 to 2400, then 3200 to 4000, then finally, 6000 to 12000.  After each set of 3, I apply Obsidian Oil to the shank to revitalize the vulcanite.  What can I say?  I love Cumberland vulcanite!  With each iteration of micromesh pads and Obsidian Oil, my anticipation of recommissioning this Savinelli Goliath with a bowl full of my favorite blend, Lane BC, is growing!  For the last 6 micromesh pads, I also polished the smooth briar on the lower shank that holds the Savinelli nomenclature – pictured below.  Since I cleaned the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap (a few days ago!) and the finish dulled significantly, I have been thinking about how to finish this Savinelli Goliath keeping it within the original Savinelli framework when it was initially commissioned.  For a ‘tenderfoot’ (former Boy Scouts will understand) restorer, here are the questions that come to my mind.  The color – there is a subtle reddish lean to the rustified surface.  How do I emulate it?  The rustification – the texture of the rustification in the picture below shows the rising and falling definition of the color tones over the contoured rustified landscape.  How do I emulate this so that the stummel color doesn’t turn out one dimensional?  And finally, the Rim Plateau.  I call it a plateau – it’s too massive simply to be a rim!  Goliath’s Plateau!  I’ve seen pictures of Goliaths and the cousin series, Hercules, that leave the rim ‘plateau’ lighter or perhaps, left natural – leaving a striking relief between stummel and rim.  An example from Worth Point in pictures 2 and 3 below – though the rounded rim is not wanted for the Goliath.  Should I stain the plateau or leave it as is?  Questions. Question 1 – Color of stain. After consulting with my wife, and a lot of going back and forth, I’ve settled on a dye mixture of 3 to 1 – 3-parts Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye to 1-part Fiebing’s Oxblood.  Question 2 – Rustification contouring.  After I apply the stain and unwrap it after firing, I will experiment with lightly applying a 1500 grit micromesh pad to the ‘peaks’ of the rustification which creates the different tones in the color – peaks and valleys.  I did this once before when I restored another Italian – a rustified Lorenzo Rialto full bent Egg.  And, question 3: Goliath’s Plateau.  I’ve decided to leave as is initially but TRYING to avoid applying dye to the rim.  I’ll look at the results and then decide whether to go ahead and apply the dye afterwards.  Thinking done – time for action!

The first thing I do to prepare the stummel is to clean it thoroughly with isopropyl 95% and a cotton pad.  Then, to protect the vulcanite Cumberland shank extension from the dye, I tape off the shank with masking tape.  I mix the dyes, 1-part Oxblood to 3-parts Light Brown.  I use a large eye dropper to do the mixing.  At the last minute, before I added the Oxblood to the Light Brown, I decide to add a small bit of alcohol to the Light Brown – to lighten it.  We’ll see how that works!  Using the hot air gun, I warm the stummel to expand the briar to help its receptivity to the dye.  After warmed, I use a folded over pipe cleaner to apply the dye mixture.  Instead of covering the whole stummel and then firing it, I did a portion of the stummel at a time – panel by panel, firing it, and moving on.  This seems to have worked well for this large stummel and for the fact that the rustified surface was absorbing the dye quickly.  After applying 2 coats of dye, I set the stummel aside to rest.  The pictures show the progress. With the stummel resting, I finish the repairs to the Cumberland stem.  Now on the lower bit, I file down the patch mounds with a flat needle file, further sanding with 240 grit paper to bring the patch flush with the vulcanite surface.  Then finally, I finish the sanding and blending with 600 grit paper and 0000 grade steel wool over the entire surface (but protecting the Savinelli stem logo). The patches on the lower bit are still visible to the informed eye, but I’m hoping that micromesh process will continue to blend and hide the patches.  I finish by cleaning up the slot with 600 grit paper. With my day closing, while the stummel is resting, I’ll give it a bath, or rather a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  The work order of this soak is not ideal with the new stain, but I’m careful to pour the salt into the bowl, and insert into the shank a stretched and twisted cotton ball to act as a wick to draw the oils out of the mortise. I then add isopropyl 95% to the bowl with a large eye dropper until it surfaces over the kosher salt.  I then put the stummel aside to continue its rest and soak for several hours.  Again, careful not to disturb the externals, the next morning, I dump the expended salt and wick which had darkened somewhat, and finish cleaning the mortise with cotton swabs and pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol.  The internals are now declared cleansed! Time to continue work on the Cumberland stem.  I begin by wet sanding using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sand with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  After each set of 3 I apply Obsidian Oil which revitalizes the vulcanite.  The swirling colors of the Cumberland stem are revitalized!  I’m liking what I see! I’m now ready to unwrap the fired crust on the rustified stummel to see what we have.  I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel, speed set at 40%, and apply Tripoli compound, a more abrasive compound, to the surface.  The cotton cloth buffing wheel is better able to work the crevices of the rustification than the felt wheel, which I use for smooth briar during the Tripoli phase. After unwrapping the stummel with the Tripoli compound, I want to lighten the stain some so I use a cotton pad and alcohol and wipe it down.  After wiping the stummel with alcohol, I load another cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel, at the same speed, and apply Blue Diamond compound not only to the stummel, but to the Cumberland shank extension and stem.  I attempt to rejoin the stem but discover that during the restoration process, the stem loosened up a bit and I’ll need to tighten the fit with the mortise.  After I complete the application of the Blue Diamond compound, I give the stummel, stem and shank extension a buffing with a felt cloth to remove the compound dust from it. At this point, as I mentioned before, I hope to create more color texture in the rustified surface.  I do this by using a 1500 grit micromesh pad and rubbing it gently over the surface of the rustification – aiming to nip the peaks of the contoured rustified briar.  This will remove the finish on the peaks and lighten them.  After I do a few runs at gently applying the micromesh pad to the peaks, I then do a follow-up buffing with the Blue Diamond wheel on the Dremel.  I am very pleased with what I’m seeing emerge.  I’m seeing the color texturing but what I didn’t anticipate, but has happened, is that the lightened peaks are tying in the unstained rim – I had decided to leave the rim plateau the bare, natural briar to form (I had hoped) an appealing, eye catching, contrast with the rustified stummel.  With the smooth grain-showing rim plateau and the rustified bowl – the best of both worlds is captured.  I’m liking the decision not to stain the rim so I will leave it the natural briar.  As I look at the rim, I notice just a few places where the staining did veer a very small bit onto the rim plateau.  I remedy this by wetting a cotton pad with acetone and carefully wiping the rim and removing the stain.  It looks good – no, looks great!My day is coming to an end, but I want to do one more thing.  To tighten the tenon insert in the Cumberland shank extension, I paint the tenon/filter sleeve with thick CA glue applying it around the base of the tenon with a manicure brush.  I let it cure overnight and I will see how it fits tomorrow.  Tomorrow arrived and I work further on fitting the stem.  I sand the CA glue that I painted around the base of the tenon with 240 grit paper.  I follow with 600 to smooth and blend it.  I try the fit several times, sanding slowly – not wanting to sand too much.  With patience, the stem is fitting much more snugly and the repair is invisible! For the final push, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel dedicated to carnauba wax and I apply several coats of the wax to the rustified stummel, rim plateau, Cumberland shank extension and stem.  After applying the wax, I give the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to bring out the shine even more.

What can I say?  I am proud of the results of this Savinelli Goliath 619EX.  The interplay of the natural briar of the rim plateau with the rustification flecks on the peaks and the deep red tones of the briar pulling at the swirls in the Cumberland shank extension and stem – all coalescing together are striking.  Then, when one adds the staggering size and presence of the bowl….  Oh my.  I can say that this Pipe Steward is happy that this Sav is going to the Black Sea coast in a few weeks to enjoy the sand, surf and yes, a few bowls of my favorite blend!  Even though this Savinelli Goliath will be joining my personal collection, check out my blog, The Pipe Steward for other pipes available in the store.  These pipes benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria, our work with women and girls who have been sexually exploited and trafficked.  Thanks for joining me!

Giving New Life to a KBB Yello Bole Imperial 3068C


Blog by Mike Rochford

In the last two weeks, I have been corresponding with Mike about a pipe he had. He wrote and sent photos of it and asked if I thought it was repairable. Those of you who have been reading the blog for a while know that I rarely put a pipe in the bin to burn. We wrote back and forth as he did the work and he sent photos along the way. I asked if he would mind doing a blog on the refurb job he did. He sent me the following. Without further introduction, I will let Mike tell you about himself and then share his work with us. Welcome Mike.

First a bit about me. I am a retired FBI Special Agent of 30 years. My grandfather had a wood pattern shop in downtown Chicago. I always enjoyed woodworking projects, but never had much time for complicated projects. This project was pretty easy as long as I did not hurry each step. Patience and your guidance helped me a lot. I am now pretty confident that I can handle another project if one comes along. – Mike

My brother Tim bought me a very worn out KBB YELLO Bole Imperial 3068C pipe. He knew I loved its look. But its issues were many: gaping hole in bowl, rotting wood on ferrule, bite marks on stem, and a slight tool mark on the crowned our area of the stem below the Yellow circle.

I was prepared to throw the pipe out or just relegate it to a shelf. But I found Steve Laug on rebornpipes. He advised me step by step how to restore and make my pipe smokeable again.

First, I completely cleaned out the inside of bowl down to the briar in order to relieve pressure on the crack in the bowl. Then I used a 1/32 drill bit to drill out the bottom of the crack.  I stripped and cleaned the outside of the pipe and combined briar dust with super glue and filled in the crack on the outside of the bowl. I was surprised that the chemical reaction caused a flash fire on my first try. But I worked through that. The paste dries very fast so I had to apply it to the crack quickly, using a Popsicle stick.  I then let it set. Then I applied JBWeld for wood to the cracked area inside of the bowl. I put a pipe cleaner inside the opening to ensure no weld found its way into the airway blocking up my smoking end of the bowl. I let that dry and set it aside for the evening. Then I used 500 grit sand paper on the outside and inside of my bowl. Once I was satisfied, I applied Aniline dye stain to the outside of the bowl and painted the inside of my bowl with a charcoal powder/ sour cream paste.Next, I worked on the cracked and damaged shank end using the 1/32nd inch bit on the end of the cracks in wood and my super glue briar dust paste to fix the damaged areas. Sanding it after it set.I then used the charcoal powder and super glue paste to patch up the bite marks on my stem, using a pipe cleaner with Vaseline on it to ensure it did not super glue my stem closed. I used some 800 grit sand paper to buff the entire stem clean of oxidation and to clean off excess super glue charcoal powder once it dried. I also used the 800 grit sand paper to clean up the tool marks on my stem below the Yellow circle. I did not have any obsidian oil, so I used some sesame seed oil on my stem to slick it up. I also super glued the silver metal ferrule on the end of the shank as it was much too loose. I then resanded and repasted the inside of my pipe bowl.

I sent before and after pictures to Steve. I am very pleased and thankful to Steve Laug for guiding me through this process. My pipe is truly “Reborn!” Thanks!

Refreshing a French Jeantet D’Orsay Billiard Found in Burgas


Blog by Dal Stanton

The first time I saw the Jeantet D’Orsay was looking at a picture of it on my iPhone 6s.  My fellow colleague, Gary, who also lives and works here in Bulgaria, was with his wife on the Black Sea coast strolling down the main walking street of Burgas.  Gary has previously culled pipes for me during his travels as he keeps his eyes open and sends pictures of possibilities.  Gary also is my main supplier of ‘quality’ cigar ash which is the main ingredient in making ‘Pipe Mud’ to coat the inside of bowls.  The picture he sent was of two pipes, the Jeantet (top in picture below) and a nice hefty bent Billiard marked only with Bruyere [over] Garantie.  My primary interest was the product of Saint Claude, France, the Jeantet, but I encouraged him to do a bundle deal which landed both in my ‘Help Me!’ basket.  Thank you, Gary!I’ve not been restoring pipes long, but among my earliest restorations were French made and I enjoyed those initial forages of discovery of a pipe’s heritage and the geopolitical significance of the name.  My first restoration of a Jeantet was a Fleuron and it was discovered at my favorite antique shop, dubbed, The Hole in the Wall, here in Sofia.  It was then I discovered the historical importance of Saint Claude, the pipe production center in Europe for much of the 1800 and in the 1900s until pipe production peaked in the 1960s, causing many corporate closings and consolidations (See Pipedia’s article on Jeantet).  Saint Claude became the a center for pipe production and the place many prominent pipe houses called home, not because of the accessibility of briar, but it was where industrious monks and artisans turned their abilities from making toys and religious paraphernalia to pipe making after briar pipes first started being mass produced (See: fumerchic.com) when briar was discovered to have heat resistant qualities.   The Jeantet D’Orsay now on my worktable enjoys a part of this heritage, though most likely produced toward the closing chapters of Jeantet’s history.  On my worktable, I take more pictures of the Jeantet D’Orsay to fill in the gaps. The nomenclature is stamped on the left side of the shank, with ‘Jeantet’ (in fancy script) [over] ‘BRUYERE’, and to the right of this is ‘D’Orsay’ (in diagonal fancy script).  The stem bears the ‘J’ ensconced in a heptagon.  As I research the D’Orsay line, I have found a dearth of information as I’ve looked for and through catalogues trying not only to ID the D’Orsay, but even finding any systematic information on Jeantet pipes in general is a challenge.  If there is any clue in the name ‘D’Orsay’, I’m not sure what it is.  Today, Orsay is a smaller suburb of Paris, primarily known as a center in the development of technology with different educational institutions based there.  Historically, this Wiki article is informative:

There has been a village called Orsay on this site since 999, and the first church there was consecrated in 1157. From the sixteenth century, the town and surrounding area were owned by the Boucher family, and it was in honour of this family that Louis XIV gave the quai d’Orsay its name. This is the reason that the Musée d’Orsay is not in Orsay. In the eighteenth century, the family of Grimod du Fort bought the land and received the title of comte d’Orsay. In 1870, during the Franco-Prussian war, Orsay was occupied by the Prussian army. 88 young “Orcéens” were killed in the First World War.

Interesting, but not too helpful regarding the heritage of this French made pipe.  Generally, the pipe is in great condition.  The chamber has moderate cake.  The rim has trace amounts of lava and grime – not too much to clean.  The stummel has nice grain, but many very small fills to be examined. Not much in the way of oxidation or tooth chatter on the stem.  Of interest to me is the long stinger system which reaches all the way to the draft hole – visible looking down the chamber.  I will keep the stinger since it’s such a goliath.  Perhaps it does help deliver the dryer, cooler smoke which has been the holy grail in pipe technological innovations.  The cleanup and recommissioning of this Jeantet begins with placing the stem in the OxiClean bath after covering the ‘J’ stamp with petroleum jelly to protect it.  Even though it has little oxidation, I’ll let it soak.  I also easily remove the stinger as I discover that it is threaded and unscrews with a little help.  The nickel divider band also comes off. I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit to address the moderate cake.  Starting with the smallest blade, I remove the cake, bringing the fire chamber to fresh briar.  I use two of the four blades available.  To fine tune the reaming, I switch to the Savinelli Pipe Knife and scrape the chamber wall further.  Then, wrapping a piece of 240 grit paper around a Sharpie Pen, I sand the bowl removing the vestiges of carbon.  Finally, I wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  The chamber looks good – no problems that I see. Next, using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a cotton pad, I scrub the external briar surface and rim.  I also use my pin knife to scrape the crusting on the rim.  I do this by dragging the blade over the surface rather than pushing the blade to not cut into the briar.  Afterwards, I rinse the stummel in tap water.  Examining the stummel more closely, the cleaning reveals a gouge on the internal rim lip.  I also picture several of the small fills in the surface.  I use a sharp dental probe to test the strength of the fills to see if they need replacing.  What I discover is mixed news – some need more attention than others.  I dig out the weaker fills and will need to refill them.  I will simply use clear CA glue to fill them, but first I will darken the pits with a dye pen to improve blending.  I use Special ‘T’ CA glue and spot drop on each pitted fill using a toothpick.  I place a bit of glue on the toothpick and gravity pulls it to the tip and I apply it to the pit.  I spray them with an accelerator to quicken the curing time.  In all, 6 fills were patched.  The pictures show the progress. Using a flat needle file, I bring each of the CA glue patches down near to the briar surface.  Then I use 240 grit sanding paper to bring the patch flush with the briar surface.  I try as much as possible with both the file and sand paper to file/sand only on the patch footprint.  The second picture below shows a ‘slip’ off the footprint by the lower patch – ugh.  The pictures show the progress. Turning now to the rim gouge mentioned earlier.  There was already an internal bevel on the rim.  To erase the damage, using 240 grit paper then 600 grit paper, I recut the bevel.  That does the job. With the stummel repairs completed, I take a medium grade sanding sponge and apply it to the surface to remove surface nicks and to start blending the fill patches.  I follow with a light grade sponge.Before I proceed further on the external surface, I need to address the internal unpleasantness.  I’m curious what collects in the mortise with the tenon extending right to the draft hole?  Unless, its design is to bypass all the sludge.  Well, it didn’t take long to discern the latter to be the case!  With cotton swabs, alcohol and a bit of scraping the edge with a needle file the mortise started cleaning up.  Later, I will still utilize a Salt/Alcohol soak to clean and freshen further for the new steward of this classic Billiard.The stem has been soaking in the OxiClean bath and I take it out to start removing the light oxidation on the vulcanite.  After reattaching the stem with the stummel, divided by my separation disk, I wet sand using 600 grit paper followed by 0000 grade steel wool.  I’m not sure how I did it but it looks like I nicked the Jeantet ‘J’ circle during the sanding – that is a grand bummer.  I’ll try to fix it later.  The tooth chatter was removed by the 600 grit and steel wool.  The pictures tell the story. Before moving further on the external sanding, I need to clean the internals.  Using bristled and smooth pipe cleaners and isopropyl 95%, I do the job – the internals take more effort than I was expecting.  I also use a long, wired, bristled brush to work on the stinger.  In the end, I soak it in alcohol to make sure it’s clean. Turning back to the stummel, I plunge into the micromesh sanding by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sanding with 3200 to 4000, finishing with 6000 to 12000.  With the completion of the micromesh process on the stummel, my work-day here in Bulgaria will soon demand my full attention.  Before heading out the door, I want to give the bowl a Salt/Alcohol soak through the day.  I pour kosher salt, leaving no aftertaste, into the bowl until almost full.  Then I twist and stretch a cotton ball to act as a wick in the mortise – drawing out the remaining tars and oils.  I palm the top of the bowl and shake it causing the salt to settle into the internals and set the stummel in the egg carton.  Then, with a large eye dropper I fill the bowl with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the kosher salt.  I wait a few minutes as alcohol is absorbed, and then I top the bowl off again.  I set the egg carton aside and let the alcohol and salt do their thing – off to work!  Back from work!  The salt has darkened a bit, but not much.  This means that the job of cleaning was well along the way. After cleaning away the expended salt with paper towel and a bristled bush in the mortise, I put a cotton swab into the mortise to make sure and it came out clean.  Clean as a whistle – nice! After the salt/alcohol soak, I see a fill on the inner rim lip that I did not see earlier.  After digging it a bit with a dental probe, I drop fill it with ‘T’ CA glue, let it cure, file it down with a half-circle needle file, sand it with 240, 600 and then the full spectrum of micromesh pads – all these focused on bringing this patch up to the speed with the rest of the stummel! The Jeantet D’Orsay Billiard’s stinger was soaking in alcohol.  I take it out and the alcohol had cleaned it up.  I buff it with 0000 grade steel wool.  While I was at it with the steel wool, I also buffed up the nickel band divider to clean and shine it.I love the classic leather brown look on work-horse Billiards.  To blend the fills overall, I use Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye to do the job.  I set up my staining workstation and take a picture of it.  I wipe the stummel down with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean dust off the surface.  I use a whittled cork in the stummel as a handle and I warm the stummel using a hot air gun to expand the grain helping it to be more receptive to the dye.  When warm, I use a folded-over pipe cleaner to apply liberally the dye to the stummel – I want full coverage.  Then, with a lit candle, I fire the stummel – burning off the alcohol in the dye which sets the pigment in the grain.  I repeat this process after a few minutes, then I put the fired stummel aside to rest for several hours. With the dyed stummel resting, I turn to the stem.  Earlier, I was using MagicEraser on the Jeantet’s ‘J’ stem stamp and I noted then that the paint was readily coming off because of it.  I decide to go ahead and remove the paint and clean the stamp with the MagicEraser with the view to refreshing the ‘J’ stamp later.  I then wet sand the stem – mindful of the ‘J’ stem stamp, with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400.  Then I follow successively with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000, and applying Obsidian Oil after each set to revitalize the vulcanite stem.  I’m hoping that there is enough tread left in the Jeantet ‘J’ stem stamp to hold new paint.  Using white acrylic paint, I dab paint onto the area of the stamp.  Instead of waiting for it to dry, I gently wipe the excess off while wet.  Then I dab a little more wet where it is thin, and gently wipe off the excess. After some time has elapsed, it’s time to ‘unwrap’ the fired, dyed stummel.  After mounting the felt buffing wheel on the Dremel, setting the speed to slow – 20%, I buff off the crust by applying Tripoli compound.  The second picture below shows the contrast and progress. After the application of the more abrasive, Tripoli compound is completed (1st picture), I wipe down the stummel using a cotton pad and isopropyl 95% to both lighten the stain and blend it.  The alcohol wipe leaves a cloudy film on the stummel.  I remove this by going to the next compound, Blue Diamond.  I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel and increase the speed to 40% and buff the briar surface.  During this buffing, the grain starts to come out more distinctly and I like the deep rivers of grain that divide the stummel like a watermelon rind. I use a little CA glue and reattach the nickel band divider to the shank.  I then use the Blue Diamond compound on the stem and band as well.  The pictures show the progress. After completing the Blue Diamond buffing, I hand buff the stummel and stem with a felt cloth to remove the compound dust before waxing.  I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel, also at 40% speed, and apply a few coats of carnauba wax to both the bowl and stem.  Completing the restoration, I give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to heighten the shine and distinctiveness of the briar grain.

When I started this restoration, I saw a classic straight Billiard that had potential.  The Jeantet D’Orsay that Gary found for me in the antique store in Burgas, on the Black Sea, has proven to be a very attractive pipe with the light brown leather-look finish.  The grain pops.  I like the band divider – it’s not a precious metal but it provides a nice accent.  This Jeantet D’Orsay is ready for a new steward!  If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection you can check it out in The Pipe Steward ‘Store Front’.  All the pipes I restore benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls we work with here in Bulgaria who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

Restoring a Long Stem Mini Churchwarden Imperial 15 Prince


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the worktable is a mini churchwarden prince shaped pipe. It has a delicate look to it and is very lightweight. It is petite with a length of 6 ¾ inches, height of 1 1/8 inches, bowl diameter of 1 ½ inches and a chamber diameter of 7/8 inches. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank Imperial in script with a flourish underneath. Below the flourish it reads De Luxe. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Made in London over England with a shape number 15. The next photos of the pipe show what it looked like before my brother did his clean up work.The pipe was in rough shape. The finish was worn and crumbling. There were some small sandpits on the bottom left and right sides. The underside of the bowl had a spot of glue and the remnants of something that the pipe had been glued to. I wonder if it had not been in a display box of some sort before being liberated and sold. The bowl had a thick cake but the rim had an overflow of lava on the top and the inner edge was damaged to the point that the bowl was no longer in round. There was an inner tube extending into the bottom of the bowl. The original slant on the tube was ruined and the end of the tube was chewed and damaged. The stem was oxidized and there were deep tooth marks on the top and underside near the button. The underside tooth marks had a small hole that broke through into the airway in the stem. Jeff took some photos of the bowl and rim to show the condition of both. You can see the cake in the bowl and the lava overflow down the sides of the bowl from the surface of the rim. The fact that the bowl did not have a flat rip to but a rather rounded/thin rim top allowed the flow downward on the bowl.The next photo shows the bottom of the stummel and the thick glue/paper coat that is stuck to that part of the bowl. It appears to me that someone had the pipe stuck to some fibre board in a display case of pipe shapes. Possibly, it was a shadow box of “dad’s” or “grandpa’s” and this one was a centerpiece. Following that photo are three different pictures of the inner tube that sat in the bottom of the bowl. The end on these is usually slanted with the longer edge sitting on the bottom of the bowl and the shorter edge ending at the entrance of the airway into the bowl.The bowl has some amazing grain running up the sides of the bowl and I am sure that underneath the debris that is glued to the bottom there will be some nice bird’s eye grain. The finish was worn but the grain popping through the grime.The stamping was readable but it was faint. Care would need to be taken in the clean up so as not to damage it further.The stem had some issues – there were deep tooth marks on both sides from the button forward. On the topside there were nicks mid stem and near the shank/stem junction. The button also seemed worn and there was a possible crack on the underside mid button.I have read different bits of history on the Imperial pipes and trying to put them together is an interesting puzzle. From Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks, by Jose Manuel Lopés’ I found that t he Imperial Tobacco Co. (Imperial Tobacco Ltd.) was founded in 1901 through the merger of several British tobacco companies. In 1902 it went into partnership with the American Tobacco Company to found the British American Tobacco Company. This information was also cited on https://pipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_Tobacco_Co.

I looked further on Pipedia under The Civic Company https://pipedia.org/wiki/Civic. This lead came from a price list/catalogue that I had found in researching information on an earlier Imperial pipe I was working on. Here is the link https://rebornpipes.com/2014/05/11/civic-company-1921-trade-list/. The Pipedia article says Civic was formed in 1921out of the Imperial Tobacco Co. (Fancy Goods Department) Ltd which was located in Fulham Palace Road Hammersmith. The article went on to give a bit more information on the The Imperial Company itself. It repeat that it was formed in 1901 but that it was formed in response to an aggressive take over raid in Britain by American Tobacco and involved the pooling of tobacco retail outlets including closely related items such as briar pipes. Here is the additional information that was not included in Lopés’ – in 1902 Imperial purchased the Salmon & Gluckstein retail empire, which included a section that finished briar pipes, originally made in France, for sale in Britain. It was this unit that became the fancy goods department within Imperial and, ultimately in 1921, the Civic Company. In 1928 Civic was a key element in the merger with other producers and retailers that formed Cadogan Investments, which still trades today.

I did some further searching on Google to try to pin down more information on the brand. I found lots of repetitive information in bits and pieces but nothing that added to what I already knew. I did find confirmation of the above information in a discussion on the pipesmagazine online pipe forum. It contained no new information but it gave the same data I had quoted above.  http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/need-help-to-identify-this-pipe-1.

Jeff has established his own process of thoroughly cleaning pipes for me and he did not vary in his procedure here. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and tidied it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol and cleaned the exterior of the threaded bone tenon with a cotton swab and alcohol. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime and grit on the bowl. The top took some special work because of the heavy lava overflow. He scrubbed it with a tooth brush and the oil soap until he removed the majority of the build up. There was still some minor buildup that would need to be dealt with when I worked on the out of round bowl. I took photos of the pipe to show the condition it was in when it arrived in Vancouver. The grain really was quite stunning. I took a close up photo of the rim top and bowl, to show how well he was able to remove the buildup around those areas and down the bowl sides.He had soaked the stem in OxyClean so when it arrived it was clean and the oxidation sat on the surface of the stem. The tooth marks were very evident.The damage to the inner tube was visible and it was ragged and torn. I would need to rework it to smooth things out and restore the angle.I used a Dremel and sanding drum on low speed to sand and shape the angled end of the inner tube and remove the damaged areas. I put a slot on the tube end to match other inner tubes I have on hand and fit the bottom of the bowl once the stem was in place.The next series of photos show the process of repairing the out of round bowl. I used a folded piece of 180 and 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the inner edges of the bowl and repair the top edge. Once I sanded it smooth I wiped it down with a cotton pad and alcohol to clean off the sanding debris and darkening on the surface. There was still polishing to do but the major portion of the repair was finished. I repaired the two small sandpits on the bottom sides of the bowl with super glue and sanded them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper once the repairs had cured.With all the repairs and reshaping on the rim and bowl finished it was time to stain the pipe. I decided to use a dark brown aniline stain that I mixed 50/50 with isopropyl alcohol to make it more transparent. It will still have the dark stain in the grains but once I wipe it down and sand it with micromesh it will be a rich brown tranparent overcoat with dark highlights. I applied the stain with a dauber and flamed it with a lighter to set it in the briar. I repeated the process until I was pleased with the coverage on the bowl and shank.Once the stain dried I wiped the pipe down with alcohol on cotton pads to remove the thick topcoat and make the stain more transparent. It significantly lightens the colour at this point but the grain won’t stand out until I polish it with micromesh pads. I polished the briar, being careful around the stamping on the shank, with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each girt with alcohol and cotton pads. With the bowl finished I directed my attention to the stem. I cleaned out the damaged areas with a dental pick and sandpaper and filled them in with black super glue. The photos below show the repairs on both sides of the stem. The third photo shows the repairs further up the topside of the stem.When the glue had cured I used a file to bring the thickness of the repairs down to the surface of the stem. I used to do all this with sandpaper but figured out that the file actually sped things up a bit. I sanded the stem surface and repairs with 180 grit sandpaper after the file to smooth out the surface and remove more of the oxidation. I would need to sand it with higher grits to remove the scratching but it was at least getting better. I used a needle file to reshape the edge of the button and the top and underside surfaces of the button. I sanded the repairs smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and then polished them with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I took a photo of the stem at that point in the process and the oxidation showed up clearly in the bright light of the flash. I poured the Before & After Stem Deoxidizer into a flat container and put the stem in to soak while I worked on other pipes. I removed it from the soak after about 2 hours and polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish. It looked much better than it did when I put it in the bath. I decided to continue polishing it with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and rubbed it down again with the oil after each pad. I gave it a final rub down with the oil and set it aside to dry. I polished the bowl and stem on the buffing wheel with Blue Diamond to take out the last minute scratches in the briar and vulcanite. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The pipe looks far better than it did when I started. The bowl looks round, the finish looks far better and the repairs on the stem though visible up close blend in well with the black of the vulcanite stem. The aluminum inner tube is shine and smooth with the reshaped angle of the tube looks like it must have when it left the factory. Thanks for walking with me through this refurbishing it was a fun one to work on. Cheers.