Tag Archives: restaining

Resurrection for a Hand Made Pipa Croci Bent that was dropped


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe up for repairs and restoration (from nine from the fellow who brought them for repair) is a Hand Made Pipa Croci. It is stamped on the left side and continuing to the underside of the shank with the words Pipa Croci (long-tailed P) over fatta a mano over Mantova, Italia and dal 1983. On the right side is stamped PC in a circle with a tail over A3 (shape number for a bent billiard). Next to that is stamped *True*. Fatta a mano means Hand Made. It would have been a great looking pipe when purchased. I am pretty sure that it is the nicest one that he left for me to work on and the one with the most issues. Somewhere along the way he dropped the pipe on concrete and the tenon snapped. If that had been all then that was a simple fix. It was not all! The bowl cracked two places on the bottom, not deep cracks but cracks nonetheless. There was a crack on the left side mid bowl that ran from close to the bottom up to a ½ inch below the rim and a small one on the top of the rim on the left toward the front of the bowl. I took a close up photo of the rim and bowl to show the condition. The cake is thick and the rim has a lava overflow from the bowl and some damage on the outer edge near the front.The next two photos, though a little out of focus show the crack in the bowl bottom circled in red. I will continue to show them in the photos as I clean up the bowl.The Lucite/acrylic stem was rough. There were tooth marks on both the top and underside of the stem in front of the button and a deep bit mark on the top of the button. The broken tenon would need to be replaced and there were some nicks in the sides of the stem close to the button end.I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and took the cake back to bare briar. I cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. There would still need to be more work done to smooth things out but the bowl was clean and I could see that the cracks did not go all the way through to the inside walls.I topped the bowl to remove the rim damage, particularly that on the outer edge. I also wanted to expose the crack on the rim top and see how bad it was. This pipe really took a beating when it was dropped – fissures all over the place in the briar. I have circled the crack on the bottom to show the largest one. There is a small one next to it that is hard to see in this picture though it will show in later pictures.I scrubbed the bowl down with acetone to remove the finish and reveal more clearly the cracks on the bowl. I have circled them in the next set of photos and drawn arrows to the points of origin that will need to be drilled. The number of cracks is amazing to me – all from a drop on concrete. This briar is quite stunning with some birdseye and cross grain. I drilled with a microdrill bit in the Dremel at each terminus of the cracks. Some of them had spidered a bit so they took multiple holes. I clean out the cracks with a dental pick and wiped the bowl down with alcohol on a cotton pad. I filled in the holes with briar dust and clear super glue. I sanded the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the repairs into the rest of the bowl. I sanded them with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge to polish the scratches away. I set the bowl aside for a while and worked on the stem. I flattened out the broken tenon on the face of the stem with a Dremel and sanding drum. Once it was smooth I used a drill bit about the same size as the airway in the stem to start the process of opening the airway to take the new tenon. I put the drill bit in a stationary drill and turned the stem on to the bit by hand. I increased the size of the bit incrementally so as not to split the stem and to keep things aligned. I put a tape on the bit that marked the depth of the threaded tenon. Once the airway was opened to the diameter of the tenon I used a tap to thread the inside walls of the newly drilled opening. I turned the stem onto the tap carefully to keep it straight and aligned.The next two photos show the newly tapped stem and the new tenon that was going to be turned into the stem. The tenon was slightly larger than the mortise so I used the Dremel and sanding drum to take it down to the right size. I dabbed some slow drying glue on the threads of the new tenon and turned it into the stem until it sat tight against the face of the stem. With that done the stem repair was complete. There were some nicks and scratches in the stem around the junction area with the shank that needed to be sanded and cleaned up. I used some 220 grit sandpaper to do that. The stem was ready for the fit and all that remained was to push it into the mortise and check it out once the glue set.I put the stem in place in the mortise to check the alignment and was happy with the overall results. As normal there were some slight adjustments that needed to make to the stem and shank but nothing radical so I was happy with the fit. Now all I had to do was finish the fit and repair the stem. I noticed in the photos below that there was some roughness to the inside of the bowl so I would also need to sand that smooth. I wrapped a piece of 220 sandpaper around my finger and sanded the inside walls of the bowl until I had smoothed them out.I cleaned out the airway in the stem and the bowl as well as the mortise with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they were all clean. I also scrubbed the darkened end of the shank to remove the stain that was there.I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain thinned 50/50 with alcohol and flamed it to set it in the grain. I repeated the process until the coverage was even around the bowl.  I wanted it to be dark enough to blend the repairs into the sides and bottom of the bowl and hide the drill holes and cracks. I set the bowl aside to let the stain dry overnight and called it a day.In the morning I started the polishing process on the bowl. I sanded it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh and a small amount of olive oil to help the grit cut into the briar. I wiped it down afterwards and inserted the stem to see what was happening. The alignment of the stem was slightly off to the left in the photos so it appears not to fit. However, the fit is actually quite good. I still need to polish and clean up the stem. I continued polishing the bowl with the micromesh pads using 3200-12000 grit pads to really add to the shine of the briar. Each successive grit of micromesh raised the shine more on the briar. The grain really pops on this one… I turned back to the stem. I adjusted the fit with 220 grit sandpaper until the transition was smooth. When the fit was correct I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each grit of pad to clean off the sanding debris and gave it a final wiped down after the 12000 grit pad. I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to remove any remaining scratches or marks and raise a shine. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The cracks are all sealed and since they do not go all the way through into the interior of the bowl I think that they will hold up well. The pipe has a lot of life in it still and I know that the owner will be glad to get it back in far better nick than it was when he left it here. Thanks for journeying with me on this resurrection.

 

 

Banding and Restoring a Radford Ravel Rhodesian


Blog by Steve Laug

I am working on the second pipe I chose to work on in the lot of nine pipes I am restoring for the pipe smoker who dropped by a box of pipes that badly needed attention. This one was stamped Radford Ravel and had a mixed finish of smooth top and sandblasted shank and bottom part of the bowl. It is a Rhodesian and the cap is smooth and the rest is sandblast. It was finished in a dark brown stain. The finish was very dirty and there were quite a few sandpits and nicks in the smooth portion of the bowl cap. The shank was crack on the lower right side and extended from the shank end up the shank about a ¼ inch. The stem was a replacement and had a brass washer on the tenon and glued against the shank. When the new stem was made the maker put a space on the tenon to add colour to the stem. I figure that the new stem is what cracked the shank. When I received the pipe the stem did not fit tightly. There were tooth marks, tooth chatter and a lot of oxidation on the stem. There was also a bead of glue around the washer on the tenon.

There was something about the brand on the pipe that rang a bell for me. I have a tin of their Sunday’s Fantasy Tobacco in my cellar and I wondered if they might have made pipes as well.

I did a bit of digging and found the picture on the left that showed some of the tobaccos made by the company and also a great figurine with the name Thomas Radford mild premium pipe tobacco on the base. On Pipedia I found that Radford’s Private Label Pipes were crafted by Chacom for the Pöschl Tabak GmbH & Co. in Germany. This information was from “Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks”, by José Manuel Lopes. The pipes were mass produced with ebonite and acrylic stems and were introduced by Butz-Choquin, Chacom, and Nording. On the stem there is generally an embossed logo that was a stylized R. The pipes were made to use 9mm filters and are moderately priced and very attractive. The following three links were the sources I used for this information.

https://pipedia.org/wiki/Radford%27s

http://www.poeschl-tobacco.com/en/products/

http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-r1.html

I also looked on another website and got a little more information on the brand. The Radford’s pipe appears in 6 models in 3 variations 1x time a year in autumn. The so called Radford’s Depot contains a minimum of 1 dozen pipes of the actual running collection. Connected to the depot is a listing of the depot holder in Radford’s News.

This particular brand RADFORD’S SERIE RAVEL was a series of 6 elegant models within Radford’s Collection. They are made from good briar wood, sandblast, black/brown with a polished head’s border in dark-red shade. Very nice rich-in-contrast ring at the shaft’s finish. Mouthpiece from Acryl for 9 mm filter. http://cigar.supersmokers.biz/radfords/

With all of this information I now knew that the pipe was originally made for a 9mm filter. The mortise was drilled deep in the shank to contain the 9mm filter. The replacement stem was a regular push stem without a filter tenon. I took some photos of the pipe before I started working on it. The finish was in really rough shape. You can see the glue and sticky material on the stem near the shank band. I took a photo of the inside of the shank to show the thick tars that had built up on the walls of the shank. The space in the mortise between the end of the tenon and the extra depth for the end of the original filters was filled with tar and oils. It was thick and sticky.I took a close up photo of the bowl to show the thick cake that lined the walls of the tapered bowl. The photo also shows the damage to the front of the bowl where the pipe had been tapped out against a hard surface. The second photo below shows the crack on the right underside of the shank. It appeared to me from the smooth area and the look of the stain that someone had tried to glue the crack and do a repair but it was not done well.The next two photos show the damage to the stem. The calcium build up on the button end of the stem, the oxidation and glue that is globbed on the stem to hold the washer in place on the tenon and the deep tooth marks on both sides near the button show in the photos.I scrubbed down the surface of the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to remove the damaged finish and the grime and oils in the grooves and crevices of the sandblast. I wanted the surface clean so that I could drill a hole to stop the crack before binding it together with glue and a nickel band on the shank. I drilled two pin holes at the end of the shank with a microdrill bit on a Dremel. The first one was slightly short of the end of the crack so I had to drill a second one.I heated the band to make the fit easier on the shank. I painted the shank end with some slow drying super glue and pressed the band in place against the topping board.I scrubbed the bowl with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove that last of the dust. I took pictures of the bowl with the new bling addition. I reamed the bowl with the PipNet reamer to take back the cake to the bare walls of the bowl. I finished the reaming using a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to scrape the inside of the bowl smooth. I rolled some 180 grit sandpaper around the end of my finger and sanded the walls of the bowl smooth.To remove the damage to the top of the bowl and to clean up the rough front edge of the bowl cap I lightly topped it on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper.With the bowl exterior cleaned and the damaged rim top repaired I worked on the inside of the mortise and the airway from the mortise end into the bowl. I used the drill bit that is in the handle of the KleenReem pipe reamer to ream out the airway into the bowl. I turned the bit into the bowl using the knurled end to press it through. I cleaned off the drill bit and used the dental spatula to scrape the walls of the mortise all the way to the end where the airway entered the bowl. The amount of grit and oils that came out with the scraping was phenomenal.I wiped the bowl cap down with alcohol and filled in the sandpits around the outer walls of the cap with clear super glue.I cleaned out the shank and mortise once again with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners until I had removed all of the loose debris left in the shank.I sanded the repaired patches on the cap with 220 grit sandpaper until the repairs were blended into the surface of the briar. I used a black Sharpie Pen to darken the spots and then wiped the bowl and cap down with alcohol to blend in the black. I scraped the area around the washer and the tenon with a sharp knife and funneled the end of the tenon to facilitate better airflow in the stem. I cleaned out the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners, alcohol and cotton swabs.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the stem surface and wiped the tooth marks down with alcohol. I filled in the tooth marks with black super glue and set the stem aside to let the glue cure.I stuffed a cotton ball into the bowl and rolled a cotton pad into the shank. I set the pipe in an ice cube tray and used an ear syringe to fill the bowl with alcohol and let it sit during the day. I left it sitting all day while I worked on the slot in the stem. At the end of the day the cotton had yellowed the cotton and the alcohol had pulled out tar and oil from the bowl walls.I used needle files to open up the slot in the button. I used a flat, flattened oval and regular oval file to open the slot. I folded a piece of sandpaper and sanded out the inside of the newly opened slot. After sanding it the slot was open enough to easily take a pipe cleaner. By this time the alcohol/cotton ball soak in the bowl was finished. I pulled the cotton balls out of the bowl and the pad out of the shank and threw them away. I cleaned out the shank and airway once again with cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. Once it was clean I stained the bowl with dark brown aniline stain cut 50/50 with alcohol. I flamed the stain to set it in the grain. I repeated the process until the coverage was what I was looking for.I rubbed bowl down with olive oil on a cloth and hand buffed the bowl with a rough cotton cloth. I took some photos of the new look of this old Radford Ravel pipe. The bowl is starting to look really good and shows some promise. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratches and raise a shine on the vulcanite. I removed the brass washer on the stem and polished it with sandpaper. I reglued it onto the tenon with super glue. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit pads and rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. There were still scratches and also some oxidation. I repeated the sanding with those pads and then moved on to dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed it down with the oil after each set of three pads. After the final pad I gave it a final coat of the oil and set it aside to dry. I buffed the stem with Red Tripoli to try to remove the remaining oxidation and then buffed the entire pipe and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I polished the metal band with a jeweler’s polishing cloth. I gave the stem and bowl multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine on the briar. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It has come a long way from the way it looked when I received it to work on. I really like the looks and the shape of the pipe. I have now finished two of pipes that the pipe smoker dropped off for me to restore before he left on holiday. I look forward to seeing what he thinks of his pipes.

A Very Tired, Very Dirty Stanwell Bent Volcano with a cracked bowl


Blog by Steve Laug

Sometimes when I take in pipes for repair and restoration I am pretty stunned by the condition. This one obviously was an old favourite of the pipesmoker who brought it to me with 8 others in need of some TLC. I sat with him in my living room and went over the repair list of what needed to be done to bring it back to life. It had been restemmed before and the stem was good and heavy so it did not need to be replaced. There were tooth marks near the button on both sides of the stem. It had some deep oxidation that needed attention. Sometime in its life it had been buffed to the point that the stamping was all but gone on the underside of the shank. With a lens I could read Stanwell over Made in Denmark but all but one number of the shape number (1) was buffed away. The finish was sticky to touch from all the waxes and oils on the bowl. The sand blast was pretty worn away and now was shallow. The angled, tapered bowl had a thick cake and it had been reamed into almost an hour-glass shape. The rim top had an overflow of the tars on it and the blast was smooth. There was some damage on the front of the bowl from knocking the pipe out on something hard. There was a small crack on the left side of the bowl from the rim down about a 1/8 of an inch that would need to be repaired. From memory I knew that the bowl was drilled to follow the angle of the exterior of the bowl.When I turned the bowl over the bottom side was covered with cracks. There were four cracks of various sizes that did not go into the interior but rather sat on the surface of heel. They were all different in terms of depth and tended to follow the blast and cut across the ring grain. They were filled with grime and wax. The bottom of the bowl was a real mess.I took a close up photo of the rim to show the damage that had been done to it by reaming it with a knife rather than with a reamer. The cake was sticky and soft and what appeared to be an hourglass shape actually was not it followed the angled bowl walls. I was concerned that the inside of the bowl would also have cracks once the cake was removed. I recommended that we remove entire cake to assess the interior of the bowl. I also took a close up photo of the heel of the bowl to show the cracks.The stem was a replacement that was thick and well made. The fit against the shank was not too bad and there was little gap between the two parts. The stem was oxidized and there was come calcium build up on the first inch on both sides. There were tooth marks and tooth chatter on both sides of the stem near the button.The shank end shows how thick the buildup was inside of the shank. The tars and oils overflow the shank and show up on the end and walls. There were also two small holes drilled to the left and right of the mortise.I reamed the bowl with the PipNet reamer using the largest cutting head. Notice the angle of the cutting head as it shows the angle of the drilling of the bowl. I cleaned up the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall reaming knife.  I sanded the bowl with 180 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. The third photo below shows the bowl after it has been sanded. I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to remove the grime and the finish. The grime and oils came off the walls of the bowl and bowl sides and bottom to prepare the bowl for the repairs to the cracks. I drilled each end of all of the cracks with a microdrill bit on a Dremel. There were about 9 holes in the bottom of the bowl and two on the left side at the end of the shank.I put clear super glue into the cracks and pressed it down with a dental pick. I pressed briar dust into the glue and then put more dust in the glue and then more glue on top of the repair to seal it.I used a dental burr on the Dremel to rusticated the repaired areas on the bottom of the bowl and side to match them to the sand blast finish. I knocked off the rough areas of the rustication with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it into the surrounding finish. The photos show the progress of this process. With the exterior cracks repaired and sealed I turned to work on the internals. The airway in the shank and the mortise was absolutely a mess. I used the drill bit from the KleenReem pipe reamer to clean out the airway into the bowl from the mortise. It was almost closed off with the tars and oils. I turned the bit into the airway until it was smooth. I used a dental spatula to scrape out the inside of the mortise. The scraped tars and oils can be seen in the photos below.There were two small drilled holes in the end of the shank on both sides of the mortise. I filled them in with super glue and briar dust. I cleaned out the inside the mortise and shank with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until they came out clean.The bowl smelled strongly of old tobacco and there were oils in the briar walls. I wanted to remove that smell as much as possible. I stuffed two cotton balls into the bowl, set it in the ice cube tray and used an ear syringe to fill it with alcohol. I left it standing overnight while it pulled the oils out of the briar bowl. In the morning the cotton was stained a yellow brown.I recleaned the mortise and airways after it had soaked using alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners.I stained the repaired areas on the bowl with a dark brown stain. I used a black Sharpie Pen to fill in some of the grooves in the briar and then restained it. I flamed it with a lighter to set the stain.I buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to raise a shine on the bowl. The photos below show the repaired areas and the blending into the surrounding briar. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I cleaned out the slot with a dental pick and pulled a lot of built up tars from there. I used a sharp knife to bevel the end of the tenon to open the air flow to the slot. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to break up the oxidation and to also remove the tooth chatter and some of the tooth marks. Some of them were too deep and they would need to be repaired later. I cleaned out the inside of the stem with alcohol and cotton swabs to remove the buildup in the airway. The slot was very narrow and it was hard to push pipe cleaners through the airway. I decided to open up the slot with needle files to facilitate easier cleaning with pipe cleaners. I did not want to change the shape of the slot, but merely wanted to make it wider and tapered smoothly into the airway. I used both large and small round, oval and flattened oval files to shape the slot. Once I had it large enough for a pipe cleaner to pass through easily I folded a piece of sandpaper and sanded the inside of the slot. I sanded the stem around the button with 220 grit sandpaper and filled in the remaining tooth marks with black super glue. I set the stem aside to dry overnight. In the morning I sanded the stem with more 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repairs and blend them into the surface of the stem. I also reshaped the button and smoothed out the repairs I had made there. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil on a cloth to have a better look at where things were at. I noticed a small bubble in the patch on the underside of the stem once I had cleaned it so I put another drop of black superglue on it to fill it in. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads. After the final set of pads I set the stem aside and let the oil dry. I mixed up a batch of pipe mud – water and cigar ash – and applied it to the inside of the bowl to provide protection to the bare walls while a new cake is formed. When it dried I put the stem on the bowl and buffed it with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. Blue Diamond is a plastic polish that comes in a block. I load the buffing pad with it and polish the stem and the bowl. I use a light touch on the bowl so that I don’t load up the grooves and crevices with the polish. I gave the stem and bowl multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine to the finish. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The repairs on the bottom of the bowl blended in very well and those on the stem did also. This is the first of nine pipes that I am repairing for a guy who dropped them off at the house. It is ready for more years of service. Thanks for looking.

 

 

 

Comoy’s Royal Falcon Bent Bulldog


Blog by Dal Stanton

The eBay seller from UK gave a decent, though brief, accounting of the origins of Comoy from Saint-Claude, France, and started in the 1820s by Francois Comoy.  His son, Henri, started the London extension of the Comoy name in 1879 with not much more than the tools of his trade – making pipes.  He is cited by Pipedia as being the author of the appellation, “London Made”.  In 1929 the company merged with the macro-concern, Oppenheimer Pipes.  With this, albeit brief history, Pipedia’s describes the present summation:

Comoy’s remained a family owned company until it was finally taken over by Cadogan Investments during the early 1980’s. Cadogan have continued to manufacture Comoy pipes to the present day and, under Michael Adler, the Comoy brand is their flagship and efforts are being made to once more re-instate the well known quality of the brand.

The half-bent Bulldog I rescued from my “Help Me!” basket is marked on the left shank, “Royal” over “Falcon” (curved).  The right shank is marked, “Made In London” (circled) over “England”.  The eBay seller’s listing indicated there was a shape number “13” which I cannot see.  The stem is stamped with the image of a falcon perched on a branch.  Here are the pictures of the Royal Falcon on my worktable: A quick trip to the Pipe Phil site confirms that Royal Falcon appears to be a prominent second of Comoy’s showing an example of the interesting stem stamping of a falcon perched on a branch – much busier than most stamps.

What drew me to bid on this Bulldog was the stem.  Within the Bulldog classification, is seems that most Bulldogs sport straight saddle stems, where the diamond shaped shank culminates in the saddle and the stem is then flat from the saddle to the button.  Rarer still, it seems are the bent Bulldogs which most often are fitted with a saddle stem as above.  Most rare, it seems is what I see now with this Comoy’s Royal Falcon – a half-bent stem that carries the characteristic diamond shaped shank into the stem and then gradually tapers out along the stem – giving the impression that the stem is much longer than perhaps it is with the bow of the diamond shaped shank/stem.  The tapered diamond stem is very nice and will look nice restored with the Falcon perched on his branch!  The chamber as a lite cake residue which I will remove down to the briar for a fresh start.  The rim has hardened crusted lava needing attention.  The front upper dome of the stummel has a nice dent along with several dents and cuts marking both sides of curved part of the stummel transitioning into the diamond shaped shank – an obvious result of the natural placement of the Bulldog on the table or counter.  There are several fills that have lightened and are showing through the old clouded finish.  The stem is heavily oxidized with moderate teeth chatter on the upper and lower bit.  The first thing I do to restore and recommission the Royal Falcon Bulldog is to place the stem in an Oxi-Clean bath after putting petroleum jelly over the falcon stamp.With the paper towel, down to catch the carbon dust and fragments, I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit to ream the chamber.  I use only the smallest blade in the Bulldog chamber and remove the lion-share of carbon.  I follow the reaming blade using the Savinelli Pipe Knife to scrape the chamber wall and remove more carbon. Using a piece of 240 grit paper I fold it over a Sharpie Pen and sand the chamber wall and finish by wiping the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  The chamber looks good.  The pictures show the progress. Turning directly to the internals of the stummel, using cotton swabs and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95%, I work on cleaning the stummel.  I also utilize a spade dental tool to scrape the mortise walls to stir up the old tars and oils.  There was a good bit of gunk, but the swabs and pipe cleaners started coming clean.  Later I’ll use a salt and alcohol soak to clean further.Now, I clean the external surface of the stummel using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a cotton pad and bristled tooth brush I work on the crusted rim as well as the grime on the stummel surface.  Using a tooth pick I scape the grooves circling the stummel. The crust on the rim is not moving so I use a brass bristled brush which removes most of the hard lava crust, but not all.  Using my pin knife, I carefully scrape the rim removing the last crusted carbon holdouts.  After cleaning, I then rinse the stummel in warm tap water to rinse off the grime.  The Murphy’s Soap well removed the thin finish and I’m looking a bare briar for the most part.  Doing a quick inspection of the surface, there are several cuts and some fills in the briar surface.  The pictures show the progress and the inspection. I use a medium grade sanding sponge to sand out the nicks and cuts.  I focus especially on the ‘keel’ of the Bulldog where most thumps and bumps occurred.  On some deeper cuts, I strategically use a rolled piece of 240 grit paper where more abrasion was needed. I also give the rim a ‘semi-topping’ with the firmer coarser sponge.  I follow by sanding with a lite grade sanding sponge to smooth more.  The inner ring of the rim has a bevel and it is darkened.  Using a piece of 120 grit paper I clear out the damaged briar and reestablish a crisp inner bevel.  I follow this with 240 grit paper and finish with sanding sponges.  The pictures show the progress.I put the stummel aside and pluck the stem out of the Oxi-Clean bath.  I start by wet sanding with 600 grit paper to work on the raised oxidation but soon switch to 240 grit paper.  The oxidation is stiff.  I’m careful to avoid abrasion on the Falcon stem stamping.  I’m hopeful that there is enough definition left in the stamping to restore it later with white acrylic paint.  After using 240 grit paper, I then wet sand 600 grit paper then 0000 steel wool.  The oxidation is left over the falcon stamping and I hope that Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser will help remove the oxidation without damage to the stem stamp.  I think it helped, but there is still discoloration over the area but the stamping is still intact.  The pictures show the progress dealing with the oxidation. Before I forget it, I now turn to the stem internals cleaning it with pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%.  Without too much resistance, the pipe cleaner come through clean without too much effort.Moving ahead straight away with the stem, I use micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 and wet sand the stem.  Following this I dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000.  Following each set of 3 I apply Obsidian Oil to the stem to revitalize the vulcanite.  With the last cycle, I set the stem aside to dry.  The pictures show the progress. With the stem completed except for the final polishing phase and repainting the Falcon stem marking, I turn to the stummel using micromesh pads 1500 to 12000.  With the first set of three, 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stummel, then with the following sets, 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000 I dry sand.  Throughout, I avoided the markings on the shank panels. The pictures show the progress. With the original color leaning toward the darker brown side, I will use Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye and then lighten as I see need using a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.   To prepare the stummel, I use a sharp dental probe to trace the twin grooves to remove any leftover briar dust from the sanding.  Then I wipe the stummel with a cotton pad and isopropyl to clean away any dust. Placing my ‘stain board’ down on my work station I put a cork in the shank to act as a handle and then heat up the stummel with a heat gun.  This expands the briar and allows for a better absorption of the dye.  I use a folded over pipe cleaner to apply the dye liberally over the surface.  I fire the aniline dye and the alcohol burns off immediately, setting the hue in the briar.  To make sure the coverage is complete, I repeat the process above including the firing of the dye.  I then set the stummel aside to rest.  The pictures show the fire crusted stummel. With the stummel on the sidelines a while, I look at the falcon stem marking.  Pipe Phil’s example shows a lot of lines and contours shaping the bird and his perch.  I’m not sure my falcon has that much detail left after wear and sanding over the years.  After a closer look, it appears that the imprinted falcons are slightly different – my falcon appears that he’s looking up more than the other.  For comparison, I’ve placed the two together below.  I’ll see what I can do with white acrylic paint. The first approach was to apply paint and then, before drying, to carefully wipe it away, leaving paint in the grooves.  This did not work – seems like there was not enough groove to hold the paint.  Next, I applied more paint and let it dry. That did not work either.  I’m not sure if this is usually done in pipe restorations, but the problem is that the lines of the falcon stamping are too thin and will not hold the acrylic paint.  I decide to take the point of my pocket knife and attempt to sculpt the lines that are there to deepen them.  It took several iterations of sculpting, then applying paint, drying and scraping off with a toothpick, before I arrive at the best I can do at this point!  The pictures show some of the process. With the falcon stem marking completed, it’s time to ‘unwrap’ the fire crusted stummel.  I use Tripoli compound with a felt buffing wheel mounted on the Dremel and use the slowest speed available and rotate the wheel over the surface, without too much down pressure on the briar, but allowing the RPMs of the Dremel and the compound to do the work.  I take a picture into this process.  When completed with the Tripoli, I use a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to wipe down the stummel to lighten the dark brown dye as well as to blend the dye.  When satisfied (forgot to take a picture!) with the shade, next I mount a cotton cloth wheel and turn the speed up half a notch, to 1.5 and apply Blue Diamond compound in the same manner as with Tripoli.  After the Blue Diamond I give the stummel a good buffing with a flannel cloth to remove the compound dust from the stummel before application of the wax.  After joining stem and stummel, I then mount a cotton cloth wheel on the Dremel and apply carnauba wax to the stummel.  I give the stummel 3 coats of carnauba and then finish by giving the stummel and stem a hand-buff with a micromesh cloth.I’m very pleased with the results.  The Comoy’s Royal Falcon is an attractive Bent Bulldog.  I like the lines of the diamond shank flowing into the tapered stem.  The Royal Falcon looks good re-perched on his branch.  The briar grain is rich and deep.  I sell my restorations with the profits helping the work we do with the Daughters of Bulgaria – those sexually exploited and trafficked.  This Bulldog is ready to serve a new steward.  If you’re interested in adopting him and helping the Daughters, check out The Pipe Steward Store.  Thanks for joining me!

‘Gramps’ – A Redonian Deluxe London Made 26 Rescued


Blog by Dal Stanton

I know exactly where I was when Charles Lemon, of Dad’s Pipes, posted his blog Family Heirloom Comes in from the Cold on December 22.  I was dutifully, pushing the shopping cart at the Target in Golden, Colorado, while my wife and I were engaged in last-minute Christmas shopping.  Well, my wife was shopping and I was catching up on pipe blog reading with my iPhone 6s.  The story Charles told was of a pipe (without a stem) discovered on a stroll in a pasture, how it arrived there was a mystery, which, after some research looking at old photos, was determined to belong to a great-great uncle.  The restoration was to be a Christmas gift for the great-great nephew, the pipe finder’s step-father….  It was an excellent restoration on Charles’ part, but the story itself, the condition of the pipe, the fact that it was found after how many years – contributed to one of the core reasons I love restoring pipes.  As I read Charles’ heart-warming story, I found myself rooting for the pipe to make it and to again be restored to the lineage of the steward.  While I continued faithfully to keep pace with the shopping cart, dodging frantic shoppers and kids on too much sugar and reading Charles’s post, ‘Gramps’ came to mind.  The first time I saw the pictures of ‘Gramps’ and read the eBay seller’s comments, I determined to place my bid to rescue the old, worn out, tossed aside, pipe.  Why did I immediately name him ‘Gramps’?  Here is what the eBay seller said:

Vary rare REDONIAN Pipe.  Found at the Estate Auction of a 98-year-old man.  (Who said smoking will kill ya?…no way). So the pipe has some ware marks up by the mouth piece, see pictures.  Pipe is marked bowl piece is marked 26 on one side and SARDINIAN de Luxe Made in London on the other.  It is a used pipe.  Ready to be Enjoyed, Gifted or Resold…ENJOY!  

With a smile on my face while looking at Gramps’ pictures, notwithstanding the ‘mild’ exaggeration of the seller’s sales bravado, “Ready to be Enjoyed, Gifted or Resold…ENJOY!”, this is what I saw:red1 red2 red3I have no idea if I can bring Gramps to drink of the Fountain of Youth or not, but I’m now looking at him on my worktable here in Sofia, Bulgaria.  The markings on the left shank are Redonian Deluxe over London Made.  The right side of the shank bears the mark, 26, which I assume is the shape number.  Surprisingly, the stem stamping is legible – a red ‘R’ ensconced in a circle.  A look at Pipedia and I discover that the Redonian was made by the John Redman Ltd./British Empire Pipe Co. in London, the same company that was a possible manufacturer of the L. J. Perretti I restored not long ago – the Perretti Co. is based in Boston and the second oldest Tobacconist in the United States.  According to the Pipedia article, John Redman Co. pipe lines, along with Redonian, include Aristocrat, Buckingham, Buckingham Palace, Canberra, Captain Fortune, Dr John, Golden Square, Richmond (not Sasieni),  and Twin Bore.   I take some additional pictures of ‘Gramps’ for a fresh look.red4 red5 red6 red7 red8 red9Like Charles’ patient, this pipe looks to have been left outside or exposed in a barn or something, as half of it seems to be colored differently – laying on its side for some time.  The stem has the heaviest oxidation I’ve seen to date – perhaps something else is going on – it appears to be leprous!  The surface is so soiled and the cake so thick – there appears to be a spider web in the fire chamber – I really can’t determine the condition of either the stummel or stem, so after taking some pictures from my work table, I plop the stem in Oxi-Clean to start dealing with the stem leprosy and I plop the stummel along with spider web, in an alcohol bath – isopropyl 95% to soften the ages of crud clinging to the stummel – inside and out.red10About 24 hours later, I retrieve the stem from the Oxi-Clean bath and the oxidation was raised to the vulcanite surface as hoped and expected.  I first attack the oxidation by wet standing the stem with 600 grit sanding paper.  I’m very careful to stay clear of the Redonian ‘R’ stamping and work around it.  I sand for quite some time.  After making some progress, I switch to using 0000 steel wool to take off more oxidation and smooth in the process.  Again, I’m steering clear of the ‘R’ stamping.  I wish I would have taken a picture at this point.  The stem is looking much improved except for the circle ‘R’ stamping – still encased in thick oxidation.  I know that taking anything abrasive to the stamping will erode it and for me, this is anathema.  I try another tack – I think I remember reading somewhere about using Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  I brought it to Bulgaria from the US and hadn’t used it yet.  The sponge that emerges from the box would not be abrasive – I hope.  So, I wet the sponge and start working on the area of the stamping. I start very cautiously and gingerly apply pressure with the sponge Magic Eraser.  When I discover that it is not eating away at the stamping I apply more pressure.  Before long I was working on the area aggressively.  Very gradually, and without perceptible damage to the ‘R’, the oxidation disappeared – or at least, in very large measure.  The last picture in the set below shows the magic brought by the Magic Eraser! I’m pleased with the progress cleaning up a once, leprous stem!red11 red12Satisfied with the progress on the stem, I fish the stummel out of the alcohol bath.  I use several pipe cleaners attempting to open the airway between the mortise and draft hole – unsuccessfully.  I then use about a 6-inch length of hanger wire as a probe and to ream the airway gently.  After a while, I finally push through the ancient muck and reconnect the mortise and bowl.  After this, I put the stummel back in the alcohol bath to soak further after stirring up and opening the internals.red13 red14 red15Out of the bath again, I take Q-tip cotton swabs and pipe cleaners and clean the gunk out of the mortise and draft airway while it is still loosened.  It’s cleaning up well, but I need to ream the bowl to remove the softened cake and the old residues.  I want Gramps to have a new start down to the fresh briar.  I use the Pipnet reaming kit using the two smaller blades of the four available.  The cake comes easily.  I fine tune the reaming more using the Savinelli pipe knife.  I then take 240 grit sanding paper, wrapped around a Sharpie Pen and sand the chamber walls to remove the remaining carbon.  I finish by cleaning the bowl using cotton pads wetted with isopropyl 95%.  The fire chamber looks good – no problems, no burn throughs detected visually. The pictures mark the progress.red16 red17 red18With the bowl reamed and cleaned, I now turn to the stummel externals.  I take another critical look at the stummel surface and lava flow on the rim and take a few pictures to show the condition of the briar before I use Murphy’s Oil Soap.  I want to mark the progress moving from the desperate condition in which the Redonian Deluxe started.  I use undiluted Murphy’s Soap and scrub the rim and stummel surface with cotton pads. I also use a bristled tooth brush to scrub the surface.  After cleaning, I rinse the stummel with warm tap water careful not to allow water into the stummel internals.  The rim cleans nicely and it looks good.  Looking at the briar surface, not surprising I detect several pits which need to be either sanded or filled.  What is emerging from underneath the gunk, grime and grunge is a piece of briar holding much potential to shine with the gradual appearance of some nice-looking grain.  With my work day ending, I decide to apply olive oil to the stummel to hydrate the very dry wood – letting it absorb the oil through the night. The pictures show the progress.red19 red20 red22 red23The next morning, I decide to further clean and purify the stummel using the salt/alcohol soak.  I fill the bowl with Kosher Salt and cover the opening with my palm and shake the stummel to distribute the salt.  I then place the stummel in an egg carton to give stability, and fill the stummel with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt.  I then cork the mortise and let it sit and do its thing – letting the salt absorb the crud.  I then turn to the stem.  I clean the stem internals using pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol.  Using a sharp dental probe, I dig gunk out of the slot to clean it.  It takes a while to work a pipe cleaner all the way through the stem.  Once I do accomplish this, I use a bristled pipe cleaner with alcohol to run it back and forth several times to clear and clean the airway – hopefully allowing a pipe cleaner easier passage.red24 red25After cleaning the internals of the stem, I now look at the condition of the button area.  The 98-year-old grandpa that owned the Redonian did not leave teeth marks (is that a clue to his dental condition??) but the upper and lower bits are almost flush with the stem surface. This is not good – the button edges are necessary to hang the pipe properly on the teeth so that one does not bite the stem leaving the teeth chatter and dents one must remove when restoring a pipe!  I will use charcoal/superglue putty to build up the button area.  I form a wedge made of index card and fit it into the slot of the stem to keep putty from covering the opening.  I open a capsule of activated charcoal and pour the powder on an index card.  I then put a small puddle of Hot Stuff Special ‘T’ CA glue (extra thick glue) next to the charcoal powder.  With a toothpick, I draw charcoal into the glue, mixing it as I go.  I continue to add charcoal powder until I reach a thickness like molasses.  When I reach this viscosity, I then dollop the putty around the button area – more than is needed to provide excess to sand down to the proper button proportions.  I use an accelerator to set the putty.  I then remove the wedge from the slot and put the stem aside to cure.  The pictures show the process.red26 red27 red28Several hours have passed since the stummel began its salt/alcohol soak.  The salt has darkened some, so I assume it’s done its work!  I dump the used salt from the stummel and thump it on my palm to remove lodged salt crystals.  I take a paper towel and wipe out the bowl.  Using a bristle brush, I clean the mortise to remove any salt lodged in the internals. I want to be sure all the salt is purged.  I then return to using Q-tip cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and isopropyl 95% to complete cleaning the internals.  With 2 Q-tips, the verdict is in – the Kosher Salt and alcohol soak did a great job drawing out the muck and freshening the mortise.  I complete the job by wiping the chamber with a cotton pad with isopropyl 95%.  Done.  The pictures show the result!red29With the stummel now clean, I take a close look at the stummel surface to be reminded of the question areas.  I take a few pictures to show these. The stummel is in surprisingly good condition for what it looked like when I started.  I find some pitting on the surface that I will fill with superglue.  I also detect a rim ‘skin’ on the front end of the stummel.  There are also other nicks around the rim from normal wear and tear. I start preparing the stummel surface by sanding with a medium grade sanding sponge to remove a layer off the finish – to determine where fills are needed.  After using the medium grade sanding sponge, I apply super glue to the 3 places on the stummel I detected earlier to fill the larger pits and a small crevasse and put the stummel aside for the superglue fills to cure.  The pictures show the progress.red30 red31 red32Now to return to the stem’s button rebuild.  The charcoal superglue putty has fully cured and ready for shaping.  I take pictures of the upper and lower bit to mark the progress.red33The technique I’ve developed for button shaping is to start at the end of the stem, using a flat needle file I file to establish the vertical – perpendicular slot area – that it’s flat.  This establishes a base-line for the end of the button and shaping the rest (I forgot to document this in a picture!).  I then start with the upper button area with the flat needle and begin filing from the stummel-side toward the end to establish the straight edge of the button’s ‘lip’.  I gradually file this toward the stem’s end until it appears a good depth for the upper button. I then file top of the bit’s lip to shape in further.  When I’m satisfied with the upper button shaping, I then flip the stem over doing the same with the lower button seeking to match the upper. When the basic filing is completed, I use a pointed needle file to enlarge the slot.  The pictures show the button rebuild process.red34 red35 red36To remove the roughness of the files, I then use 240 then 600 and finally 0000 steel wool to further perfect the shape and to cover the treads left by the files. Which often is the case, air pockets encased in the charcoal/superglue are exposed during the shaping and sanding process. I apply some CA glue to the button surface and paint it with a toothpick to cover the pin-sized air pocket holes and then spray an accelerator on the glue to cure it more rapidly.  After a while, I return with 240, 6000 paper and then 0000 steel wool to remove the excess CA glue on the button and complete the button rebuild.  The pictures show the completion of the button rebuild.red37 red38 red39With stem internals cleaned, and new button completed, I transition to the externals.  Using micromesh sanding pads 1500 to 2400, careful to guard the Redonian ‘R’ stamping, I wet sand the stem and follow the set by applying Obsidian Oil.  I then use micromesh pads 3200 to 4000 and after, pads 6000 to 12000 following each set with an application of Obsidian Oil.  I set Gramps aside to soak in the Obsidian Oil.   All I can do is to say, ‘Oh, my!’  Gramps is responding well to the TLC. The pictures tell the story – I can’t but help to throw in a reminder of how far we’ve come! red40 red41With a reborn stem waiting, I turn to the stummel.  The 3 pit-holes that were filled with superglue are cured.  Using 240 grit paper I sand the excess glue to the surface and blend the patches. red42 red43I take a close-up picture of the rim and inspect the rim more closely.  Along with nicks, I can see that rim lines are not sharp.  There is evidence of a bevel on the inside ring of the rim which is scorched.  I decide to mildly top the stummel and reestablish a crisp bevel. The bevel will also remove the scorching I see.  I use 240 grit paper on a chopping board and rotate the inverted stummel in an even, circular motion to remove old briar.  I stop and check things after every couple of revolutions to make sure I’m staying level.  I only take off enough to leave the former bevel more distinct.  To recut the inner bevel, I use 120 grit paper rolled very tightly to create a hard-sanding surface.  I want the bevel to be straight and uniform.  I follow the 120 using 240 grit also tightly rolled to remove the coarser lines.  The topping and bevel look good.  The bowl is in-round.red43 red44 red45After completing the rim and bevel, I take a medium grade sanding sponge and then a light grade sanding sponge and sand the stummel to blend the superglue fills – careful to work around the Redonian Deluxe London Made markings on the stummel.  Then, using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stummel, followed by dry sanding using micromesh pads 3200 to 4000 and then 6000 to 12000.  I never tire seeing the grain emerge during this process.  After I complete the micromesh cycles, I unite stummel and stem to get a look at where we are.  Gramps is looking good. The pictures show the progress – woops, I forgot to take a picture after the first micromesh cycle!red46 red47 red48I’m liking very much the progress of the Redonian Deluxe London Made – aka, Gramps.  I decide to use Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye with Gramps.  I think the rich depth of the leather dye will create the subtle expression of the straight grain hugging the bottom of the stummel as it expands into horizontal patterns and scattered bird’s eye on top.  I give the surface a quick wipe with a cotton pad to clean and remove any leftover briar dust.  I use my wife’s hair dryer to warm the stummel to expand the wood to help the grain to be more receptive to the dye.  I use a cork in the shank as a handle and I then take a folded over pipe cleaner and apply the dark brown dye over the entire surface.  After this, I fire the wet dye which immediately burns the alcohol and sets the dye in the grain.  In a few minutes, I repeat the process concluding with firing the wet dye.  I put the crusted stummel aside to rest.  I decide to do the same and call it a day.  The pictures show the progress.red49The next day, after a full day’s work, I’m anxious to look at Gramps, and with the Dremel I begin unwrapping the fired dye crust.  After mounting a dedicated felt wheel for applying Tripoli, I set the Dremel’s speed for 1, the slowest possible, and first purge the wheel with the sharp edge of the Dremel’s tightening wrench – to rid it of old compound and to soften the felt wheel.  I apply very little pressure on the briar surface, allowing the RPMs and compound to do the work for me.  To reach the inside of the bent shank elbow with the Tripoli compound, I switch to a smaller, pointed felt wheel to get in the tight angles.  With the Tripoli finished, I rejoin the stem to the stummel and I mount a Blue Diamond dedicated felt wheel and again buff stem and stummel.  When completed, I hand buff the pipe with a cotton cloth to remove the compound dust left over.  The pictures show the progress.red50 red52With the abrasive application of the compounds finished, before I apply carnauba wax to the stummel and stem, I want to dress up Gramps’ stem stamping.  The original appears to have been red so I take red acrylic paint and apply a dab over the Redonian ‘R’ and circle and let it dry thoroughly – overnight.  When dry, I gently rub/scrape off the excess with the flat side of a toothpick which protects the paint in the indentations.  After this, I rub it well with a cotton pad to clean the remainder of the excess – gently leaving a rebranded stem – very nice, a refreshed stem stamping.  The pictures show the results.red53 red54With the Redonian stem stamp completed, I reunite stem and stummel and mount the cotton cloth Dremel wheel and apply several coats of carnauba wax to the pipe. I increase the speed of the Dremel to 2.  I follow the carnauba wax with a vigorous hand-buff using a micromesh cloth to dissipate wax that was not spread evenly and to deepen the gloss of the shine.

When I think about the 98-year-old steward from whose estate this Redonian Deluxe London Made came, I cannot believe he would have dreamt his pipe would one day start a new lifetime serving another steward.  I gave this old, worn pipe the nickname, ‘Gramps.’  Bear with me one more time to put a picture of ‘Gramps’ in front of the younger man he has now become.  I’m amazed at the transformation and it is why I love this hobby – the pictures speak for themselves.  I sell my restorations with the profits helping the work we do with the Daughters of Bulgaria – those sexually exploited and trafficked.  This Redonian Deluxe London Made is ready to serve a new steward.  If you’re interested in adopting him and helping the Daughters, check out ‘Gramps’ at The Pipe Steward Store.  Thanks for joining me!red55 red56 red57 red58 red59 red60

Renewing and restemming a La Strada Staccato Bent Pot


Blog by Steve Laug

This tired old La Strada came to me for repairs. It was in rough shape. The stem had been gnawed, broken and gnawed again. The finish was shot and covered in oils and grease to the point that it was hard to see the rope rustication around the bowl. The bowl had a thick crumbling cake and smelled heavily or aromatics. The lava from the bowl had flowed over the top of the rim and darkened the finish there. The outer edge of the rim was heavily damaged on the front left side and looked as if the bowl had been dropped. There were dents on the underside of the bowl as well from a similar event. The shank was so dirty that the stem would not fit into the mortise. I was able to get it in but the fit was not tight against the shank. The shank is slightly off round so the stem was slightly different.la1 la2The next photo is out of focus but the road rash on the bowl bottom is visible.la3I took a series of close up photos of the bowl and rim and the stem to show the condition of the pipe when I started. In the first photo you can see the thick crumbly cake and the damage to the rim surface and edges. It was hard to tell if the inner edge of the bowl was damaged and only after reaming would I be able to know for certain. The stem was a write off as the damage was too extensive to repair. The fit against the shank also warranted a new stem.la4 la5I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and went through the various cutting heads. I cleaned up the remaining cake in the bowl bottom with the Savinelli Pipe Knife. I took the cake completely out of the bowl and reamed it back to bare briar.la6I wiped down the surface of the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to remove the finish. It came off with a bit of scrubbing but there were places where it did not come off with the acetone. It would take some sanding to remove the totality of the finish.la7 la8The damage to the bowl top and outer edges required that I top the bowl. I gently topped it on the topping board so as not to remove too much and remove the smooth portion above the rope rustication on the top edge.la9I sanded the bowl and rim top with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge and took the following photos.la10 la11I cleaned out the internals of the shank and the replacement stem that I fit to the shank with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. It took a lot of scrubbing to get the mortise and the airway clean in the shank. The stem was in decent shape so it did not take too much work on it.la12I took some photos of the pipe at this point to get a feel for the look with the new stem in place.la13 la14I wrapped some sandpaper around a dowel and sanded the walls and bottom of the bowl. There was a ring at the bowl bottom that was grooved and needed to be smoothed out. It did not take a lot of sanding before the inside walls were smooth.la15I restained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain mixed 50/50 with isopropyl alcohol to approximate the original colour of the pipe and to highlight the grain on the pipe. I flamed the stain and repeated the process until the coverage was even around the bowl and rim.la16I buffed the bowl with White Diamond on the buffing wheel to even out the new finish and give it a bit of a shine. I took photos of the bowl at this point to give a clear picture of the new look.la17 la18Now all that remained was to finish the fit and polishing of the stem. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper until it fit the shank well. It took some adjusting of the diameter of the stem to match the slightly out of round shank. In the end it fit well. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads to give it a deep shine.la19 la20 la21I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the minute scratches on the vulcanite and on the briar. I buffed them both until the stem and briar glowed. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the bowl and stem with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is ready to go back to the pipe man who sent it to me for restemming and refurbishing. I think he will enjoy it and it will deliver a life time of good smokes to him. la22 la23 la24 la25 la26 la27 la28 la29 la30

Another Hole in the Wall find! Stanwell Silver Mount 85


Blog by Dal Stanton

I first laid my eyes on the Danish made, Stanwell Silver Mount a couple of weeks ago, not really knowing what I was seeing.  I was giving a tour to a new team member who had just arrived in Bulgaria.  As part of orientation I take ‘newbies’ on a tour of the center of Sofia – I sprinkle in a bit of history, architecture, politics, religion and culture as we stroll through the streets and boulevards.  The tour was also the perfect opportunity to showcase a ‘typical’ Bulgarian antique shop – I’m always looking for a way to drop by the ‘Hole in the Wall’ where I’ve landed several great pipes in past visits.  As my guest surveyed the shelves of stuff stacked on stuff, I went directly to THE basket, stuffed up into one area among the artifacts, where I started plucking through the newer offerings of pipes added since my last visit – since before Christmas.  I did spy a very nice unmarked Brandy shape with a hearty stummel.  When the shop owner diverted my attention, conspiratorially confiding that there was something he wanted me to see – my curiosity heightened.  He pulled the Stanwell out from a closed cabinet which always is an indicator of a treasure of greater value.  I left the Hole in the Wall with the pipe on my mind but not in my pocket. A week later, I returned to the Hole in the Wall with two other people as part of another tour.  This time, however, I wanted to see the Stanwell again – hoping it was still there.  It was.  This time I took pictures and dickered a bit, but again, left without a pipe.  I wanted to do some research on this Stanwell and send a note off to Steve to get his feedback, including some of the pictures I took at the Hole in the Wall.dress1dress2 dress3

His response was to the point: “That line of Stannies is a pricey one.  Nice find.”  Added to this was confirmation that the asking price was indeed very reasonable! That sealed the deal for me and with resolve (after receiving my wife’s blessings) I returned to the Hole in the Wall the next day and negotiated a favorable deal. Sweetening the transaction of the Stanwell was bundling the Brandy Unmarked I saw in the basket.  I’m a good customer and he agreed to a “good customer” price.  He was happy and I walked out of the Hole in the Wall this time with two nice pipes – but the Stanwell was the find pipe pickers place their hopes!

With my newest Hole in the Wall find now in front of me, I take more pictures for evaluation.  On the lower side of the shank is stamped Stanwell over Made in Denmark over Silver over Mount. Unfortunately, through wear or over-aggressive buffing, the ‘S’ of Stanwell and the “Ma” in Made in Denmark are very thin.  There is a shape number on the right side of the shank stamped 85 – I’ll need to research this to see if I can place this pipe with the plethora of information about Stanwell pipes on the internet.  Both the shank’s ferrule and the military or spigot mounted stem’s band, have 925 stamped – the world-wide authentication of sterling silver (.925).  What I did not see in the poor lighting of the Hole in the Wall, was that the mortise ferrule also had Stanwell stamped in the sterling.  The silver inlaid crowned “S” stem cartouche is in good shape.  The acrylic stem has many scuffs and nicks and tooth chatter near the button.  The rim and bowl surfaces also are nicked and dented a good bit.  As a matter of personal taste, I am not too partial to the black finish that hides the briar grain.  These pictures fill in the gaps.dress4 dress5 dress6 dress7 dress8 dress9 dress10My first time dealing with a Stanwell pipe was with a second – a Danske Club Vario, a very nice pipe also landed at the Hole in the Wall.  Pipedia’s article describes the beginning of the well-known Danish pipe making company, Stanwell:

At the end of the war, briar became available again, so Nielsen began importing his own briar and started making briar pipes to compete with the English manufacturers. It must be remembered that in 1948, England was the single great center for pipe making. Therefore, Nielsen changed the name of his pipes to “Stanwell”, which sounded much more like a proper English name than “Nielsen”. He also created the horse-drawn carriage logo for its English connotations. He later changed his own last name from Nielsen to Stanwell, a testament to his devotion to the pipes he made. Stanwell’s relationships with Danish pipe makers goes back to Sixten Ivarsson, who is considered the originator of modern Danish pipe making. Ivarsson was commissioned to design Stanwell shapes. In 1969, the factory was moved to a town called Borup, just outside of Copenhagen to be closer to Ivarsson.

To establish the date of this Stanwell Silver Mount style, thanks to Bas Stevens’ extensive compilation of Stanwell pipe shapes posted on Rebornpipes, the shape number 85 is listed as a bent billiard which was discontinued in 2006 (changed to shape number 246).  I also found the Silver Mount style featured in two Stanwell catalogs listed in Pipedia’s collection.  One ‘Brochure by the Lorup Group’ displayed samplings of the Silver Mount style but I could not establish the date of the brochure.  The other was a Russian catalog of Stanwell offerings including Silver Mounts dated 2001.  This pipe could predate 2001 but the latest possible dating would be 2006 when the shape number was discontinued.  Since Stanwell closed the doors of their manufacturing operations in Denmark and moved it to Italy in 2009 (link above), this confirms the Danish origin of the pipe.  The Silver Mount style is unique, not only because it provides two large sterling silver adornments to the classic bent billiard shape – a shank ferrule and stem band insert, but it creatively immolates a military or spigot stem mount.  I found two different comments on SmokingPipes.com about Stanwell’s Silver Mount line.  The first highlighted Stanwell’s Silver Mount shape 85:

If you like the look of a military or spigot mount but prefer a more conventional tenon/mortise arrangement, this Stanwell offers both — along with an elegant, graceful silhouette and plenty of chamber to boot.

Of the stem style itself, there was this comment, that even though not a true military mount, since it has a tenon instead of a tapered fit, it nonetheless is one of the best faux-military mounts this observer had seen.  The sense I have of the pipe’s design is that it is an interesting mixture of higher class elegance with the ample showcase of sterling silver, but with the military/spigot stem style a ruggedness is also introduced.  My challenge now is to help this Stanwell, a ‘knight in shining armor’, regain its former glory!  The sterling silver ferule mounted on the shank is easily removed.  This will help the ease of the stummel’s cleanup.  The chamber in this billiard is large with a depth measurement of 1 3/4 inches and width of 7/8 inches – a good long smoker able to pack a bowl of one’s favorite blend.  The chamber is lightly caked but I want to clean it down to fresh briar.  I do this with my Savinelli pipe knife working over a paper towel for easy disposal of the carbon.  The reaming did not take long. Then I take a rolled piece of 240 grit sanding paper wrapped around both my index finger and then a Sharpie pen and sand the chamber wall.  I finish the bowl cleaning by using a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% and wash the chamber.  The fire chamber looks good – I see no problems.  The pictures show the progress.dress11 dress12 dress13With isopropyl 95% on the work table, I turn directly to cleaning the stummel internals.  Using pipe cleaners, Q-tips dipped in alcohol, I work cleaning the mortise.  Using the flat edge of a dental spade, I scrape the sides of the mortise walls cleaning the tars and gunk.  The Q-tips and pipe cleaners are doing the job.  Later, I will also give the stummel a Kosher salt and alcohol soak to freshen the internals even more.  On a roll, I take the acrylic stem and clean the internals with pipe cleaners and Q-tips in the 9mm tenon area with alcohol.  There was little resistance.  With a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl, I also give the stem’s and mortise’s sterling silver an initial cleaning and polishing.  The progress is shown.dress14 dress15With internals finished, I take another look at the stummel and take a few close-ups looking closely at the surface and rim.  As I said earlier, personally, I’m not a fan of the solid black finish.  My standing ovations are roused by gazing upon natural briar grains!  In my research looking into the Silver Mount line of Stanwell in catalogs, I came across a similar Stanwell line called the, ‘Silhouette Pipe’, featuring several different shapes with the same black finish.dress16 dress17 dress18 dress19My plan is to remove the black finish and repair the stummel and rim surfaces, then apply a darker stain that is essentially black, but allowing the grain to be seen.  This will maintain the sleek, dark look of the bent billiard and continue to set it off in sharp contrast to the sterling silver ferrule and band along with the classic silver crowned ‘S’ Stanwell inlaid silver cartouche. With this plan before me, I use acetone to remove the finish.  Not knowing how tough the finish will stand, I start with a cotton pad wetted with acetone and see how the work progresses.  The cotton pads wetted with acetone are not making much progress so I add the gentle abrasion of 0000 steel wool.  I am careful to avoid the nomenclature on the lower part of the shank as well as the shape number.  With these areas, I only use cotton pads and a bristled tooth brush, acetone and a lot of elbow grease.  I do not want to erode the stampings!  As the black finish gradually gives way, I’m amazed that Stanwell covered such a beautiful piece of briar!  The straight grains travel vertically up the bowl from the heel of the stummel which holds a nest of bird’s eye grain – the whole effect is like a camp fire flowing upward from the fire pit. dress20 dress21 dress22With the black finish removed, I’m able to see some small pin hole pitting exposed on the surface.  To address this, I use a medium grade sanding sponge followed by a light grade sanding sponge to remove most of the pitting as well as nicks that remained on the rim.  The pictures show the progress.dress23 dress24With the initial stummel prep complete, I decide to use the Kosher Salt and alcohol soak to clean the internal airway and mortise more fully.  Using Kosher salt (versus iodized which can leave an after-taste) I fill the bowl and then after corking the shank opening, I hold my palm over the bowl and give the stummel a shake.  This displaces the salt a bit into the mortise. I then pour isopropyl 95% into the bowl until it fills just over the level of the salt.  I put the stummel in an egg crate for stability and put it aside for 4 to 5 hours to let the salt and alcohol draw out the tars and oils residing in the briar.  The pictures show this process.dress25With the stummel is ‘cooking’ with the salt/alcohol soak, I turn my attention to the stem.  The question and concern that comes to mind is the care in cleaning the stem while protecting the sterling silver band that is attached to the stem?  Will sanding the stem damage the band if the sanding runs over the edge?  Unlike the sterling silver shank ferrule that came off easily, the stem band is not going anywhere.  Just to get an idea how well the silver will clean up before I start on the stem clean up, I take the shank ferrule and apply Weiman Silver Cream to it. As the directions describe, using the sponge in the container, applying the compound, rubbing then rinsing off with tap water.  Wow! It works well.  The pictures show the result!dress26I move forward with caution with the acrylic stem by protecting both the crowned ‘S’ stem mark and the sterling silver band.   I do this by holding my thumb over the areas to keep the sanding instruments at bay.  After taking a few ‘before’ pictures to mark progress, I begin addressing the rough scratches in the acrylic with 240 grit paper to do the heavy lifting.  I also work out the teeth chatter in the bit area – upper and lower.  Following the 240 grit paper, I use 600 grit paper and then 0000 steel wool, taking a picture at each step to mark the progress.  Following the steel wool, I run the stem through the complete 1500 to 12000 micromesh pad treatment, taking a picture at the customary sets of 3.  In the final set, I also apply Weiman Silver Cream to the sterling silver band to spruce it up.  I discovered along the way, that the finer grade micromesh pads were not a problem for either the band or Stanwell stem mark – they shine up quite nicely!  I’m pleased with the progress.dress27 dress28 dress29 dress30With stem completed, I again look to the stummel which is benefiting from a Kosher Salt and alcohol soak.  The salt has darkened somewhat indicating the success of the process.  I dump out the old salt, thumping it on my palm to rid the stummel of the expended salt.  I use a paper towel to clean the bowl and I also utilize bristle brushes and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% to further clean the airway and mortise.   dress31 dress32Time to address the finish of the stummel.  I use an Italian stain which is called Wenge’ – it appears to have a black base.  After I heat the stummel with my wife’s hair dryer, I liberally apply the stain to the stummel with a folded over pipe cleaner.  I fire the dye and the alcohol immediately burns off.  After a few minutes, I repeat the process and fire the stain.  Then, within a few minutes, I use a cotton pad and wipe the stummel with isopropyl 95% to blend the stain in the wood.  After wiping the stummel down with alcohol, I decide to switch and use a black water based dye and mix it 50 to 50 with isopropyl 95%.  I apply the mixture to the stummel with a folded over pipe cleaner and fire the stummel again.  With this mixture, it did not ‘fire’ the way an aniline dye will but it did evaporate as I passed it over a lit candle.  This helped to set the dye in the grain.  I set the stummel aside to rest.  The pictures show the progression.dress33 dress34Well, in the interest of full disclosure, what is not pictured are the several iterations of applying ‘black’ stain to this stummel.  When I first ‘unwrapped’ the stummel from the fired crust, buffing with my Dremel using Tripoli and then Blue Diamond compounds with a cotton cloth wheel, I was not satisfied with the hue of black I saw emerge.  I wanted the finish to be a translucent black, allowing grain to show through, but in black spectrum hues.  What I was seeing was the brown of the grain emerging giving more of a dark chocolate brown look.  I repeated the staining several times, changing up the black dye content and alcohol, flaming and then wiping the stummel with a cotton pad wetted in isopropyl 95% to blend the stain with the briar and each time repeated buffing with Blue Diamond with the Dremel cotton cloth wheel.  I finally started seeing emerge a stummel that correlated with the image in my mind – a black stummel, in keeping with the original Stanwell intent, but with subtle grains showing through.  Satisfied finally with the result, I move on and apply several coats of carnauba wax to the stummel and to the acrylic stem with the Dremel’s cotton cloth wheel set to speed 2 (one notch up from the slowest speed).  I also attach the sterling shank ferrule with a bit of super glue to keep it in place and finish with a rigorous hand-buffing of stummel, sterling, and stem with a micromesh cloth.

It is true, personal tastes are subjective, but my sense is that I’ve improved this dressy Stanwell Silver Mount bent billiard by transforming the solid black to a translucent finish allowing the natural grains to show through.  This presentation of grain pattern is subtle and I believe it is in keeping with this special line of Stanwell pipes, the Silver Mount.  You’ll notice at the end of the presentation pictures below, I’ve included two pictures taken on a dark surface which enables the grain to be seen more clearly.  Stanwell’s retired shape number 85 is a larger bent billiard with a pleasing feel in the palm. The faux military stem mount brings a rugged look to the pipe but the twin sterling silver adornments, uniting the shank and acrylic stem, places this Stanwell a touch of class.  This Stanwell Silver Mount bent billiard is ready to serve a new steward.  If you’re interested in this pipe, check out the store at my new site, The Pipe Steward. The profits of all pipe sales go to the Daughters of Bulgaria, an organization my wife and I work with helping women and children who have been sexually exploited and trafficked.  Thanks for joining me!dress35 dress36 dress37 dress38 dress39 dress40 dress41 dress42 dress43 dress44