Tag Archives: restemming

I was Gifted an LB Stem for my Dunhill Shell Briar LB F/T Chunky Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

When I restored this Dunhill Shell Briar LB F/T Chunky Billiard I closed the blog asking that if anyone came across a stem for an LB that they would be willing to part with to contact me as I really wanted a Dunhill stem on this pipe (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/07/26/breathing-life-into-a-1968-dunhill-shell-briar-lb-f-t-group-4-billiard/). The pipe is a beautiful sandblasted Billiard with the unique Dunhill Sandblast finish made in 1968 (since that time I am leaning toward a 1958 date for the pipe). It is a great looking pipe that is in almost new condition. The dark finish that is identified as a black stain highlights some great grain around the bowl sides and the heel. It has some great rugged sandblast that Dunhill specialized in making. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and the repaired area on the front outer edge of the rim top looks very good. The mix of stains works well to highlight the grain. The polished black replacement vulcanite taper replacement stem adds to the mix. I had drilled and inserted a blue dot on the top of the stem to get by while I hunted for a proper stem. Here are some photos of the pipe once I had finished the restoration of both the bowl and stem. Not too long ago I was on one of the Facebook pipe groups and David Andrew Goostree of Banjo Bob’s Fine Pipes posted a picture of a Dunhill LB with a ruined bowl – vertical cracks all around the bowl that he was willing to part with. I quickly wrote him a note to see what he wanted for it as I had the above LB that needed the stem from his ruined bowl. We exchanged a few messages back and forth and he sent the pipe to me. It arrived in Canada yesterday (Monday) and David had included a small sample of Old Gowrie in the box.  Here are a few pictures that David sent me of the pipe before he sent it.   I took a photo of the new stem next the pipe and replacement stem and then of the two stems side by side. The look and shape is similar. I tried the stem on the shank of the LB bowl that I had and the fit was perfect in the shank. The bowl I have has a flat bottom so I would need to flatten the bottom of the stem to match the shank but other than that the fit was good. I took some photos of the fit to send to David. I had already started the shaping of the underside because I was impatient to see what it would look like. I am including those photos below so you can see the fit in the shank. I used a rasp/flat file to flatten the bottom of the stem to match the flow of the shank. I smoothed out the flattened area with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the file marks in the vulcanite.The stem had some tooth marks in the surface on both sides ahead of the button. I “painted” the surface with the flame of a Bic lighter and the tooth marks lifted. I would easily be able to sand the remnants out with micromesh. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine.     With the stem fitting work finished I put the new stem on the Dunhill LB and gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem several coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. I took photos of the LB with the stem I received from David and I really like the look of an original Dunhill stem. Have a look! I am looking forward to loading the bowl with some of the Old Gowrie that David sent along and taking it for its initial smoke. Thanks David for the stem and thank you all for reading this update.

Restemming and Rebirthing a Burl King Freehand Bowl


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe in the queue came to us from a recent pipe hunt that Jeff and his wife did in Utah. It is an interesting Freehand bowl that has a bridge over the top of the shank that forms a hole for the thumb when smoking. It has a smooth finish with a plateau on the top of the shank and bowl. I would need to find a fancy turned stem that would work with the bowl. The pipe is stamped on the left corner of the shank and clearly reads Burl King. On the underside of the shank it is stamped Israel. I think that this will be another nice looking piece once it is cleaned up and restemmed. The bowl is thickly caked with an overflow of lava on the rim top. There were some rustications or blasted areas on the left heel of the bowl and the top right side toward the front of the bowl. The top and edges of the bowl look good but I would be more certain once I reamed and cleaned it. The exterior of the briar was dirty with grime and dust. Jeff took photos of the pipe before my cleanup work. They tell the story and give a glimpse of the promise that we see in this pipe. He took a photo of the plateau rim top to show the cake in the bowl, the lava on the rim top and the inner edge.  There was also a varnish coat on the briar around the bowl and rim top.The next photos show the rustication/blasted portions of the bowl. There seems to be some putty in the rustication on the right side of the bowl top.    He took photos of the stamping on the left corner of the shank and the underside. It is faint but readable in the photo below and is as noted above.I turned to Pipedia to read about Burl King pipes (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Burl_King). I quote the entirety of the article and have included the advertisement that connects the pipe to Borkum Riff tobacco.

We need more information about Burl King. We can confirm that it was at one time a pipe used for promotion of Borkum Riff tobacco, as reported by Bob Taylor of the Seattle Pipe Club, who mailed in a coupon and received the pipe with a Postmark of Jan. 11, ’78, and a return address of Sparta, N. C., which indicates it may have come from the Dr. Grabow/Sparta Industries plant.

Bob recently noticed his “Burl King” was also marked, made in Israel, so it was likely made by the Shalom Pipe Factory, though apparently distributed through Sparta Industries. The box shipped for 50 cents and the return address said “After 5 days return to P. O. Box 21882 Greensboro, N. CC. 27240.” So apparently these pipes were made by Shalom, but distributed for Borkum Riff by Sparta Industries.

Others have indicated Burl King pipes were also made by Wally Frank.

I love the description as it truly captures the shape and beauty of this freehand pipe. The article above stated that the pipe is handcrafted by artists so that each one is a unique piece. It is cut from the plateau to leave that exposed on the top of the rim and down the shank to the end. It has a thumb hole cut for comfort in holding it while smoking. It is suggested that pipe sold for $60. Now to work on the pipe.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.     I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the general condition. You can see the darkening around the inner edge but otherwise it looks good. The plateau extends all the way down the shank bridge and ends at the mortise end.I found two different fancy stems in my stem can that were potential candidates for the pipe. The first one had a tenon that was too small. The second was a bit larger and would need to be turned to sit in the mortise properly. I drilled out the airway to hold the pin on the PIMO tool and then used the PIMO tenon turning tool and took the tenon down until it had a snug fit in the mortise. Once I had the tenon turned I inserted it in the mortise and took photos of the pipe at this point. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads to clean up the finish and give it a shine. I wet sanded with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cotton cloth. The photos tell the story. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.   I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter on the stem surface and the light oxidation with 220 grit sandpaper and then started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. The tenon is still rough at this point. I sanded out the ridges and bumps left behind when I turned it but there is still work to do on it.I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.     With both parts of this unique Burl King Freehand finished, I polished the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The mix of grain on the bowl came alive with the buffing. The finish on the briar works well with the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is a well-proportioned, nicely grained Burl King Freehand. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 7 inches, Height: 2 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This interestingly made Freehand will be going onto the rebornpipes store very soon. If you would like to purchase it and carry on the legacy of the previous pipe smoke send a message or an email to me. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this older Shalom Pipe Factory, Israel pipe.

Restemming a Mr. Brog Pear Wood No. 48 Chochla Squashed Tomato


Blog by Steve Laug

Last week I received an email from a friend in Calgary who I had lost track of over time. We knew each other on Smokers Forum UK and had emailed back and forth for a while but I bet it has been over 8-9 year since I had heard from him. He wrote reminding me of who he was and asking me if I would be willing to put a new stem on his brother in-law’s Mr. Brog pipe. I really am trying to not take on more work and get caught up on the backlog of pipes that Jeff and I have picked up along the way but I did not feel like I could say no so the pipe is now on the desk top. The pipe was not briar but was made out of pear wood. I have smoked a few pear wood pipes in the past and they have been good smoking pipes. The broken stem was made for a filter but the owner wanted it replaced with a regular stem so that was going to be simpler for me. I took some photos of the pipe showing the remnant of the broken stem. Before I started working on the pipe I wanted to see what the original stem looked like and I wanted some background information on the Pear Wood Pipes. I decided to check on the Mr. Brog Website (https://mrbrog.com/collections/pear-wood-pipes) to see what I could find out.

The first information that I found was the following information on the wood the pipe was made of. I quote

Pear wood is a great alternative to briar wood. Pear wood is very dense and a hard wood which is great for a pipe you can have for the years to come. Also pear wood gives off a very pleasant smell and taste while smoking.

I then turned to the catalogue of pipes and shapes that were available in pear wood and looked specifically for the Chochla No. 48. I found the shape and the pipe listed but it was in a sandblast finish. The shape and the original stem were clearly visible (https://mrbrog.com/collections/pear-wood-pipes/products/smoke-pipe-chochla-no-48-pear-wood-root-hand-made-by-chochla?variant=32087227597). I have included a picture from the website. Now I knew what the stem length and shape were for the broken piece that I had.I decided to do a bit of digging on the history of the brand. I turned first to Pipephil’s site to get a quick overview (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-m8.html). From there I learned that the brand started in Poland in 1991 in the area known as the “St. Claude of Poland’. It was started by Zbigniew Bednarczyk along with Kazimierz Rog. Zbigniew kept the name after Kazimierz died in 2006.I turned to Pipedia for a bit more detail of the history (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Br%C3%B3g).

Pracownie Fajek Bróg was founded as Mr Bróg in Przemysl, “the Saint-Claude of Poland”, in 1991. Master craftsman Kazimierz Rog, the senior partner, had been a pipemaker since 1947, starting as an apprentice and later partner of Wiktor Winiarski and Zbigniew Mazuryk, followers of legendary Ludwik Walat. Zbigniew Bednarczyk was completely new to pipemaking, but as a non-professional sculptor, painter and poet he surely had pretty enough artistic disposition.

Mr Brog started out offering 10 models of briar pipes and 10 models made of wild pear, wild cherry and other unexpected materials, available both smooth and rusticated and polished with natural waxes only. The experience of the old master and the dynamic passion of his young friend made the brand soon well-known in Poland. Little by little they enlarged their program turning towards a more artistically minded way of pipemaking. This was the bedrock for success on international markets.

Kazimierz Róg, highly honored, passed away after a lengthy illness on June, 26th 2006. The firm is continued by Zbigniew Bednarczyk and his wife Renata.

From the article as well as time spent on the Mr. Brog website I learned that the brand included both briar and pear wood pipes. That was new information for me. Now I had the background information I needed and it was time to work on the pipe. I started by taking a few close up photos of the pipe with the broken stem to give an idea of the condition of the pipe. It was well smoked and a bit dirty but in decent condition. Before I sent it back I would clean up the bowl and rejuvenate the finish. I went through my stem until I found one that was approximately the same length as the one in the photo. It was a vulcanite taper stem and would need to be fit to the shank and mortise but I think it would look good when finished. I used the PIMO tenon turning tool to clean up the tenon and the flat edge of the stem so that it would seat right in the shank.I put the stem on the shank and took photos of the look at this point. The length of the stem will work well with the pipe. It will need to be given a bend but the look works.  I used a Dremel and sanding drum to take down most of the excess diameter of the stem. I get it as close as I can and do the rest of fitting by hand. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove more of the excess diameter of the stem. Still more work to go on it but it is getting there. I used a heat gun to bend the stem to fit the flow of the bowl and shank.  I gave the fellow a call in Calgary because I had an idea to add a decorative brass band on the shank end. I sent him a photo of it before I set it in place on the shank end. He was excited about it because his brother in law is a hobby machinist who loves working with brass. I pressed the band onto the shank end and polished it.    With the band in place I put the stem in the shank and took some photos. I needed to do a bit of adjusting to the stem diameter at the topside. But the stem was looking very good at this point and the band was a great touch.   I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm and worked it into the surface of the pear wood with my finger tips. I let it sit on the bowl for 10 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth to raise a shine.   I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I polished out the scratching left behind by the shaping of the stem. With each progressive sanding pad – 1500-12000 grit pads – the stem began to take on a shine. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I finished the stem with Before & After Fine and Extra Fine Polish. I buffed the stem with a soft cloth to raise the shine.   The Mr. Brog Pear Wood Chochia No. 48 Squashed Tomato turned out really well with its new stem. The brass band that I put on the shank for decorative purposes gave a splash of bling to flow of the pipe. I put the stem back on the shank and buffed it lightly with Blue Diamond to raise the shine. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the bowl with a soft cloth to deepen the shine. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Diameter of the Chamber: ¾ of an inch. I will be packing it up and sending it back to Calgary. I am looking forward to hearing from the pipeman there what he thinks of his new pipe. Thanks for reading through my thoughts and reflections as I worked on this pear wood pipe.

Righting a Wrong- Restemming a Hilson “Viva” # 278 Freehand Pipe


Blog by Paresh

This pipe had been purchased by me on eBay many eons ago and was the first pipe for me from the web store. I had this pipe in my rotation when it fell out of favor after I got a few pipes from Steve and I had commenced my journey in to the world of restoring my huge cache of inherited pipes. I felt that this pipe just did not smoke right, but what was the issue never crossed my mind and neither did I put my mind to it since I now had other pipes to enjoy!!

When Steve had visited me last year, we went through the entire pipe collection and this particular pipe caught Steve’s attention. He immediately remarked that the stem was not the right one for this pipe!! It was a replacement stem and a poorly executed job. With the problem diagnosed in a jiffy, we went about identifying a suitable stem for replacing the one currently on the pipe, which was by the way, also in a jiffy!! We found one and the pipe was soon consigned to oblivion. However, this time around after having recently worked on a stem replacement project, I decided to complete the replacement on this Hilson pipe as well. Here are a few pictures of the pipe with the stem that was replaced by the Seller. This pipe has Cutty-like foot, a Dublin like taper from the top of the rim to the foot of the stummel and the front rim top has a pronounced backward rake towards the shank. These features and for the lack of a defined shape, I rather prefer to call it a freehand. The stummel has very shallow sandblasted surface all around with a smooth shank bottom which bears the stampings seen on this pipe. It is stamped on bottom smooth surface of the shank as “HILSON” over “VIVA” in block letters with the shape number “# 278” stamped towards the stummel. The right side of the shank is stamped with COM stamp “BELGIUM” towards the shank end. The stampings are crisp and clear.I looked for information on this brand on rebornpipes.com. The information contained therein is both informative and an interesting read. Given below is the link to the write up;

https://rebornpipes.com/2016/06/11/restoring-my-paris-finds-a-pair-of-hilson-double-ecume-sandblast-pipes/

I visited pipedia.org to see if could learn more about this brand. I learned that this pipe was well respected brand in 1960s- 70s as makers of good quality pipes at very moderate prices which traced it’s roots way back to 1846 in the City of Bree!!! The brand faced financial crisis in the 1980s and was brought over by Elbert Gubbels & Zonen B.V. in the Netherlands. Here is the link to the web page;

https://pipedia.org/wiki/Hilson

The information gleaned from the two write ups makes me certain that the Hilson VIVA pipe that I am working on is Pre 1980s.

Initial Visual Inspection
This pipe has been with me for many years and at one point in time was an integral part of my pipe rotation. However the lure of new got the better of me and in my exuberance to try out the newer additions to my pipe collection, this pipe kept falling further and further down the pile. So when Steve suggested replacing the stem, I got this pipe out of oblivion. The stummel has a shallow sandblasted surface that has accumulated a little dust and dirt in the crevices of the sandblast. The left side of the stummel has a few fills and probably, I think, is the reason for the stummel to be sandblasted. Once the stummel surface has been thoroughly cleaned and the fills exposed, will I decided to refresh these fills or let them be. Before being stowed away, the chamber and the mortise had been completely reamed and cleaned. However, with passage of time, the mortise and the chamber walls are covered in dust and coupled with the high moisture content in the atmosphere, has coated the walls in a thin layer of grime. There is an even layer of thin coat of dust that has hardened over the thick chamber walls. The rim top surface shows very shallow sandblast and was cleaned earlier by me. It is now that I have observed a fill on the left side that runs from the inner to outer edge (indicated by indigo arrows). Both the inner and the outer rim edges are sans damage. The inner walls of the chamber are solid and thick. The chamber odors are mild. The draught hole is dead center and at the bottom of the chamber and coupled with the new stem that would replace the old one, makes me believe that the smoking quality of this pipe should improve manifolds. Further cleaning of the chamber and mortise should completely eliminate the ghost smells from the chamber.The Process
The first issue to be addressed in this project was to replace the previously poorly executed stem replacement job. The whistling sound emanating from the shank when air was drawn from the stem was a pointer that the alignment of the stem air way and mortise/ draught hole was skewed. I tried the pipe cleaner test and it was with great effort and maneuvering that the pipe cleaner came out through the draught hole. Steve and I had selected a pearly variegated acrylic saddle stem with swirls of light browns and grays as a replacement stem for this pipe. It was decided that this saddle stem be modified in to a military mount stem with the tenon seating as close to the walls of the mortise as possible. Here is how the pipe looks with this pearly saddle stem. The tenon would need to be sanded down for it to seat in to the mortise and this would be the trickiest part of this stem replacement. I would have to be very careful to sand it evenly and equally from all around and ensuring this while sanding down manually and eyeballing the evenness is not as easy as it would be while using a tenon turning tool (which I am still on a lookout for at a good price!!).   The replacement pearly variegated acrylic saddle stem too came with its own set of damages. The stem was badly damaged with heavy and deep tooth indentations in the bite zone over the upper stem surface. The button edge on the upper stem surface is also deformed with heavy tooth indentations. The lower stem surface, in addition to the tooth chatter, had a large chunk of the surface chewed off from the bite zone including the button. The bite zone on either surface is covered in a thick layer of calcification, probably a result of using a rubber bit. The stem airway appears BLACK and completely clogged with accumulated saliva, oils and tars. The tenon end and horizontal slot are clogged with gunk. The bite zone and buttons on either surfaces will have to be reconstructed and reshaped. The airway will be a bear to clean. Only after the stem has been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, the issue of seating of the stem in to the mortise will be dealt with. I cleaned the external surface of the stem with a Scotch Brite pad and liquid dish washing soap. Once the external surfaces were clean, I cleaned the stem internals with a small shank brush and liquid dish soap. I gently scraped out the gunk and grime from the tenon and slot openings with my fabricated knife and dental tools. I thoroughly rinsed the stem surface and internals under warm running water till the stem was sparkling clean. I have realized that using small shank brush and liquid soap reduces consumption of pipe cleaners by about 85%. This is considerable savings considering that I pay thrice the cost of pipe cleaners on cost of shipping!! Next, I ran a couple of dry pipe cleaners through the stem to clean and dry it out. I avoid using isopropyl alcohol in cleaning stem air way just to guard it against crazing (call it my paranoia to use alcohol on an acrylic or Perspex stem!!). The stem surface, tenon end, slot and the air way is now clean. After about an hour of cleaning and ton of elbow grease, I can now handle this stem without any disgust!! I shall first adjust the tenon to achieve a snug seating in to the mortise and thereafter manipulate the saddle portion of the stem to achieve the taper for a military mount style stem. I mounted a 150 grit sanding drum on to my hand held rotary tool and sand down the tenon till I had achieved a rough seating of the tenon in to the mortise. My previous experience has taught me an invaluable lesson; “SAND ONCE AND CHECK TWICE”!! Once I had achieved a rough seating, I got down to the arduous and time consuming task of manually sanding down the tenon with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper till I had achieved a perfect seating of the tenon in to the mortise. Here I was extra careful and vigilant while sanding the sides of the tenon and frequently checked the alignment of the stem airway with the shank airway and finally the draught hole. Excess sanding of any one side of the tenon disturbs this alignment even though the seating may appear to be snug and seamless. I gave final check to progress being made and the seating was perfectly snug and seamless with all the airways perfectly aligned. I am very happy with the progress until now!!Next step was to shape the saddle portion to resemble a military mount style stem profile. Continuing with the same assembly of sanding drum and rotary tool used for tenon turning, I gradually start sanding the saddle portion from the tenon end and progressively working my way upwards. I frequently checked the profile of the stem with the stummel. Here is how the pipe appears at this stage. Getting there, but not close yet!! I continued with sanding down the saddle further till I had a nice taper with the saddle edge merging with the tenon. The profile of the pipe has drastically improved and as per my mantra “LESS IS MORE”, I decided to proceed with manual sanding and shaping with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to match the surfaces and fine tune the seating of the stem in the mortise.  However, contrary to my mantra, I was still not very pleased with the stem profile. Unable to identify what exactly was amiss, I shot off a couple of pictures of the progress made to Steve and sought his advice. He suggested that I should give a bit more taper to the tenon end and it would be good. Ah…. The stem was a bit broad at the shoulders and that’s what was wrong!! I re-profiled the saddle shoulders with the 150 grit sanding drum. This now looks and feels much better and the flow of the stummel in to the stem is about perfect. Here are a couple of pictures that will give the Readers an idea of the seamless merging of the flow of the stummel in to the flow of the stem. With the profiling and seating adjustments to the stem now completed, I can turn my attention to the stem repairs. Next I inserted a pipe cleaner smeared with petroleum jelly in to the stem airway through the slot end. The coating of petroleum jelly on the pipe cleaner prevents the superglue from sticking to the pipe cleaner and seeping in to the air way and blocking it. I applied a generous coat of superglue over the bite zone, including over the buttons, on the lower surface which had a through hole and set it aside to cure. Once the fill had hardened to an extent that it was not runny, I applied a coat of superglue over the upper surface and set the stem aside for the fills to harden completely. Once the fill has hardened, I shall file and sand the fills to match the surface of the stem and sharpen the button edges on either surface.  While the stem fills and repairs were curing, I worked on the stummel by reaming the chamber with my fabricated knife to remove the remaining carbon deposit and the hardened coat of dust and grime. Once the cake was reamed back to the bare briar, I used a 150 grit sand paper followed by 220 grit sand paper to remove all the traces of remaining cake and also to smooth out the inner walls of the chamber surface. Finally, to remove the residual carbon dust, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. The chamber walls are sans any damage. The outer and inner rim edge is in great shape. The rim top surface is in decent condition, save for the fill on the left side. The ghost smells are greatly reduced and may be eliminated after the shank/ mortise are thoroughly cleaned. With the bowl internals clean, I move to clean the exterior of the stummel. I used a hard bristled tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil soap to scrub the stummel and rim top. After the scrub with oil soap, I washed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the stummel surface was clean and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. The stummel surface has cleaned up nicely with the beautiful shallow sandblast patterns on full display. There are two major fills that would need to be refreshed; one on the rim top surface and the other on the left stummel surface. The ghost smells are completely eliminated and the pipe now smells fresh, odorless and clean. The shank air way is nice and open. I am sure that the pipe will turn out to be a fantastic smoker with a full wide and open draw. Next I addressed the issues of the two fills in the stummel surface. With a sharp dental tool, I gouged out the fill to the left side and one on the rim surface. Using the layering method, I filled these gouges with a mix of briar dust and CA superglue till the mound of the mix was slightly above the rest of the stummel surface. This helps in a better blending of the fill with the rest of the stummel surface while sanding and reduces the scratches caused by the use of a needle file as you have a correct perspective of the sanding that is required. I set the stummel aside for the fills to cure. While the stummel fills were set aside to cure, the next afternoon, I worked on the stem fills which had cured completely. With a flat head needle file, I worked on the filling till I had achieved a rough match with the surrounding surface and had sufficiently sharpened the button edges. I further sand the fills with a piece of 180 grit sand paper to achieve a better match. I used a slot file to even out the horizontal slot edges and widen it a bit. I am very happy with the stem profiling and repairs at this stage in restoration and also the buttons now have a nice crisp edge to them.   Thereafter, I began the process of final fine tuning of the seating of the stem in to the mortise, shaping the saddle for a sharper military mount look and bringing a nice shine to the surface by sanding with 320, 600, 800 and 1000 grit sandpapers. The technique that I used is very simple; sand one side, check the seating and if the seating is not snug, sand the relevant side and continue to do so till I achieved a snug airtight fit. The closer I came to the perfect fit, the higher grit sand paper I used. A lot of patient and diligent work, I reached the point where I felt “ no more sanding… this is the perfect seating and perfect military mount profile!!”. My mantra “LESS IS MORE” was also playing at the back of my mind. I had simultaneously sanded the entire stem surface through all the above mentioned grit sand papers. I was very pleased with my efforts as I had achieved a perfect snug seating of the stem in to the mortise while being able to maintain the semblance of a military mount stem!! To bring a deep shine to the acrylic stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit sandpapers. I wiped the stem with moist cloth after each pad. At the end of micromesh cycle, I polished the stem with “Before and After Fine & Extra Fine” paste. The finished stem is shown below.With the stem re-profiling and repairs completed, I turned to the stummel repairs. The fills had cured nicely and using a flat head needle file, I sand the fill till I had achieved a rough match with the surrounding stummel surface. I sand the fills with a piece of 220 grit sand paper to further blend in the fills with the stummel surface. Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar and in to the crevices of the sandblast with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful sandblast patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The contrast of the lighter browns of the sandblast with the natural patina of the rest of the stummel adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel.  To check and verify the correctness of the alignment of the stem airway, the tenon opening, shank/ mortise airway and finally through the draught hole, I did the PIPE CLEANER TEST.  The pipe cleaner passed through cleanly and without any obstruction from the slot end right through the draught hole.   I have now reached the homestretch in this restoration project. To complete the restoration, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks from the stem surface that remain from the sanding. I mounted another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and is ready to move on to another piper to be enjoyed for a long time. P.S. The finished pipe really looks amazing and with the thick chamber walls, a perfect wide open draw with perfectly aligned airway, this will definitely be a fantastic smoker. The pearly variegated acrylic saddle stem has a nice pearly sheen to it and the swirls of browns and grays add to the visual drama. The rebuilt lower bite zone does show sign of repairs, but it always does with acrylic stems. The beautiful pearl white of the stem appears yellowish in the above pictures and also the background does change in couple of photographs. This is so because of the reflection of light from the prop that is being used. I still need to work on my photography skill set in order to highlight the beauty of the finished pipes!!

Any reader interested to add this beauty to their collection, may please let Steve know and this pipe can be shipped to you from across the seas to be enjoyed for years to come.

A note of thanks to all the readers who have joined me in this journey that has been such a pleasure! You and your loved ones are always in our prayers…

Replacing The Military Mount Stem Of a Beautiful “Selected Briar” Billiard


Blog by Paresh

I had been procrastinating restoration work on this pipe for long, primarily for want of spares. This was one of my inherited pipes that had its horn stem completely shot!! I had been waiting for a suitable replacement stem, preferably a horn stem and so when I received my stash of around 40 vulcanite and 20 horn stems (a mix of used and new stems), this pipe moved up the queue for refurbishing.

This pipe has an old world charm about it what with its classic billiard shape and military mount horn stem. The stummel has a mix of Bird’s eye grain on the front, back and at the foot of the stummel with cross grains to the sides of the bowl. The shank has beautiful cross grains that run the entire length of the shank. It appears as if these straight grains emanates from the shank end and move up towards the bowl shank junction. It is stamped on the left side of the shank as “SELECTED” in block with letter S being larger than rest of the letters, over “Briar” in artistic hand. The shank end nickel ferrule is stamped as “EP” in a rhombus over three American faux hallmarks. The stampings are crisp and clear. The lack of COM stamp or brand name makes me believe this pipe to be a BASKET PIPE and the faux American hallmarks points to the probability of this pipe being made for the American market. The stamp “EP” stands for ELECTRO PLATED nickel ferrule as I know.

The horn stem points to the vintage of this pipe as being from prior to 1920s when vulcanite rubber gained prominence as a stem material.

The dating of this pipe as prior to 1920s is my guesstimate based primarily due to fitment of a horn stem. Any concrete and substantiated information on this pipe and its dating will be a huge learning for me and fellow readers of rebornpipes!!

Initial Visual Inspection
This pipe has the classic straight Billiard shape with a medium sized bowl. The stummel boasts of a mix of Bird’s eye grain on the front, back and at the foot of the stummel with cross grains to the side of the bowl. The shank has beautiful straight grains all round. The stummel surface is covered in a lot of dust and dirt. There are a couple of fills in the briar but that does not mean that the quality of the briar is sub standard. The carving, hands feel and appearance of the pipe, even in this condition, screams high quality and excellent craftsmanship. There is a decent layer of cake in the chamber. The stem has been cut short before and is heavily damaged with a through hole on one of the stem surface and few deep bite marks in the bite zone. Here is how the pipe appears as it sits on my work table. Detailed Visual Inspection
The chamber has an even layer of thin cake and appears to have been reamed and never smoked thereafter. The smooth rim top surface is scratched and it seems that the rim top has been scrapped to remove overflowed lava. Both the inner and the outer rim edges are beveled and appear sans damage. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be commented upon after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. The chamber odors are mild. The draught hole is dead center and at the bottom of the chamber and that makes me believe that it should great smoke. The stummel appears solid to the touch all around and hence I do not foresee any serious damage to the walls in the form of burnout/ deep heat fissures/ lines or pits. To address the damage to the rim top, I shall top the surface on 220 grit sand paper. The reaming and subsequent cleaning of the chamber and mortise should completely eliminate the ghost smells from the chamber.The smooth stummel surface has taken on a layer of aged patina, through which one can make out the beautiful mix of Bird’s eye grain on the sides and at the foot of the stummel with cross grains to the front and back of the bowl. The shank displays tightly packed lovely cross grains that run the entire length. There are two fills in the entire stummel (encircled in yellow), one on the right side and another in the shank, adjacent to the stamping and close to the edge of the ferrule. The vintage of the pipe and years of uncared for storage has added layers of grime and dust over the stummel surface giving the briar a lifeless and bone dry look. Thorough cleaning of the stummel surface and rinsing it under warm water should highlight the grain patterns while preserving the patina. I shall refresh the fills with a mix of briar dust and superglue. The fill near the stampings on the shank will need to be worked on very carefully, if I have to preserve the stamping and which I always ensure!! It will be easy job if the ferrule can be separated from the shank end. The mortise shows accumulation of oils, tars and gunk and will need to be cleaned up. However, I have to admit that it is not as clogged as I am used to on my grandfather’s pipes. The horn stem in military mount style is completely shot!! You name an issue that a restorer is likely to come across in a stem, it is present and how!! Though personally I feel that every stem is repairable to an acceptable standard, however, in this case I feel that a stem replacement is in order to improve both the aesthetics as well as functionality of this pipe. Have a look at the pictures below to get an idea of the issues that this stem brought to the table…The Process
The first step in this restoration was to identify a suitable stem that would replace the old and chewed up horn stem. I FaceTimed with Steve and we went through the lot of horn stems that I had received. We shortlisted a straight military mount style specimen of brand new horn stem with a round orifice. It would suit the pipe both functionally and aesthetically. However, it did not have a taper and the slight belly swell that the original horn stem had. We ended the conversation with a few tips that Steve gave to help me work through this project. On a hunch, I got the slightly bent vulcanite stem that I had earmarked for another project, an early 1900s BEN WADE, and checked it out against the stummel. The extreme flare at the slot end, the taper and the size made me reconsider the horn stem that Steve and I had shortlisted. This vulcanite stem had the Castello like military mount stem and it really looked fantastic. I shared the pictures (shown below) of all the three stems, including the original and the vulcanite stem with Steve and promptly received the characteristic response from Steve, “Ohhh! The vulcanite stem looks like it was made for this pipe…I would definitely go with the vulcanite”. Decision made, the slightly bent vulcanite stem would be the one replacing the horn stem. I am definitely being ambitious to achieve Castello like shape to the stem, but there is no harm in trying!! The replacement vulcanite stem too came with its own set of damages. The stem was deeply oxidized with heavy and deep tooth indentations in the bite zone over the upper stem surface. The lower stem surface had a large chunk of vulcanite chewed off from the bite zone, including the button. The button edge on the upper stem surface is also deformed with heavy tooth indentations. The tenon has been unevenly sawed off, definitely an amateurish job, but it would save me some work nevertheless!! The stem would need to be straightened out first. The bite zone and buttons on either surfaces will have to be reconstructed and reshaped. Thereafter, the issue of seating of the stem in to the mortise will have to be dealt with. Before progressing to stem repairs proper, I decided to straighten out the stem first. I inserted a pipe cleaner through the stem prior to heating as the pipe cleaner prevents the collapse of the air way. With my heat gun, I gently heat the stem till it was pliable. I gently pressed the stem against the flat table surface and held it in place till the stem had sufficiently cooled and retained the straightened shape. I further cool it down under running cold water and set the straight shape. This heating also raised the tooth chatter and bite marks to the surface in the bite zone. The stem has been perfectly straightened out and some of the tooth chatter has been raised to the surface. The quality of vulcanite on this stem is top class.Next I inserted a triangulated index card covered in scotch tape in to the slot. The tape prevents the mix of superglue and charcoal from sticking to the index card/ seeping in to the air way and blocking it. I mixed superglue and activated charcoal powder and generously applied it over the bite zone, including over the buttons, on either surfaces of the stem and set it aside to cure. Once the fill has hardened, I shall file and sand the fills to match the surface of the stem and sharpen the button edges on either surface. I have been using CA wood superglue and this glue hardens immediately and allowed me only a few seconds of application whereas the all purpose CA superglue allowed me enough time to get an even spread over the damaged surface.   While the stem fills and repairs were curing, I worked on the stummel by reaming the chamber with size 2 PipNet reamer head. With my fabricated knife, I further scraped the chamber walls to remove the remaining carbon deposits. Once the cake was reamed back to the bare briar, I used a 150 grit sand paper followed by 220 grit sand paper to remove all the traces of remaining cake and also to smooth out the inner walls of the chamber surface. Finally, to remove the residual carbon dust, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. The chamber walls are sans any damage. The outer and inner rim edge is in great shape. The rim top surface itself is peppered with dents/ dings and scratches which will be addressed by topping. The ghost smells are greatly reduced and may be eliminated after the shank/ mortise are thoroughly cleaned. This was followed by cleaning the mortise with cue tips, pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I scraped the walls of the mortise with my dental tool to remove the dried oils and tars. The mortise was pretty clean and it did not take too much effort and pipe cleaners to get it nice and clean.  With the bowl internals clean, I move to clean the exterior of the stummel. I used a hard bristled tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil soap to scrub the stummel and rim top. For this stummel cleaning, l I used Murphy’s Oil soap as I wanted to preserve the old patina that had developed on the stummel and was not sure how the Briar cleaner product would affect it. After the scrub with oil soap, I washed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the stummel surface was clean and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. The stummel surface has cleaned up nicely with the beautiful grain patterns on full display. The ghost smells are completely eliminated and the pipe now smells fresh, odorless and clean. The shank air way is nice and open. I am sure that the pipe will turn out to be a fantastic smoker with a full wide and open drew. I also noticed that the shank has a distinct taper towards the walls of the mortise. I prefer to have my tenon as close to the walls of the mortise as possible to ensure minimum gap between the air openings and the taper on this pipe means that the military mount stem tenon end will have to be shaped so. Next I addressed the issues of the two fills in the stummel surface. With a sharp dental tool, I gouged out the fill to the right side and one at edge of the ferrule on the left side of the shank. I covered the stampings on the left side of the shank with a scotch tape to prevent the briar dust and superglue glue mix from spreading over and ruining the stampings. Using the layering method, I filled these gouges with a mix of briar dust and CA superglue till the mound of the mix was slightly above the rest of the stummel surface. This helps in a better blending of the fill with the rest of the stummel surface while sanding and reduces the scratches caused by the use of a needle file as you have a correct perspective of the sanding that is required. I set the stummel aside for the fills to cure. While the stummel fills were set aside to cure, the next afternoon, I worked on the stem fills which had cured completely. With a flat head needle file, I worked on the filling till I had achieved a rough match with the surrounding surface and had sufficiently sharpened the button edges. I further sand the fills with a piece of 180 grit sand paper to achieve a better match. I used a slot file to even out the horizontal slot edges and widen it a bit. The reconstructed button over the lower surface needed to be refilled to make the button and the slot end face even. I spread the mix of charcoal and superglue over the button edge and slot end face on either sides again and set the stem aside for the refill to cure. With further stem repairs being on hold, I turned back to the stummel repairs. Using a flat head needle file, I sand the fill till I had achieved a rough match with the surrounding stummel surface. I sand the entire stummel with a piece of 220 grit sand paper to further blend in the fills with the stummel surface. I topped the rim top surface on a piece of 220 grit sand paper, checking frequently for the progress being made as I hate to loose briar estate any more than absolutely necessary. The scratches over the rim top have now been completely addressed. The inner rim edge bevel appeared to be slightly uneven at the front and at the back end of the rim top (encircled in blue) and I decided to freshen and even out the bevel. With a folded piece of a 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger, I create a slight bevel on the inner edge of the rim top surface. I am careful so as not to alter the profile of the stummel by excessive topping or creation of the bevel. I am pretty pleased with the appearance of the rim top and edges at this stage. The following pictures show the progress being made and improvements to the inner and outer rim edges. With the stummel repairs almost complete, save for the micromesh and wax polish, I worked the stem. The fill had cured and with a flat head needle file I sand the fills and reshape the buttons. I further sand the fill and buttons with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. I am pretty happy with the way the stem repairs have shaped up and also the buttons now have a nice crisp edge to them.   I followed up the repairs to the bite zone by addressing the issues at the tenon end of the stem. I sand the tenon end over a piece of 180 grit sandpaper to a smooth and even face.  I marked the approximate length of the mortise over the stem from the tenon end with permanent marker. This would give me a reference point from where I would need to turn the tenon. I mounted a 150 grit sanding drum on to my hand held rotary tool and sand the tenon end. While sanding the tenon end, I always had the profile of the Castello stem at the back of my mind. I checked for the seating of the stem in to the mortise frequently and stopped once I had an approximate seating. I fine tuned the seating by further sanding of the tenon end with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper. When I checked the seating, I realized with a cringe that there is a substantial vertical gap (indicated with yellow arrows) between the stem and the shank end on either surface while the sides are a perfect fit. Another FaceTime consultation with Steve and we both reached a conclusion that there was no option but to rebuild the upper and lower stem surface afresh to cover the gap between the stem and shank end since other shortlisted stems would not do justice to the pipe’s complete appearance. So what followed was a tedious, laborious and time consuming process of filling with a mix of activated charcoal & superglue, curing, sanding, checking the seating and repeating the process till I achieved a snug fit of the stem in to the mortise. I have explained the entire process in just two lines, but in reality it took me 4 complete days to achieve the desired results. The pictures below will give the readers an idea of the process that was involved. At this stage of restoration, I had achieved a rough seating of the stem in to the  mortise and discerning Readers would have noticed minor gaps between the stem and shank end. I too had observed this gap but am not perturbed by this as this issue will be addressed when I fine tune the seating by sanding with higher grit sandpapers. Also, if the issue persists, I can always resort to rebuilding and readjusting as necessary.    Thereafter, again began the process of fine tuning the seating of the stem in to the mortise by sanding with 320, 600, 800 and 1000 grit sandpapers. The technique that I used is very simple; sand one side, check the seating and if the seating is not snug, sand the relevant side and continue to do so till I achieved a snug airtight fit. The closer I came to the perfect fit, the higher grit sand paper I used. A lot of patient and diligent work of 7 hours, I reached the point where I felt “no more sanding… this is the perfect seating!!”. My mantra “LESS IS MORE” was also playing at the back of my mind. I had simultaneously sanded the entire stem surface through all the above mentioned grit sand papers. I was very pleased with my efforts as I had achieved a perfect snug seating of the stem in to the mortise while being able to maintain the semblance of a Castello like stem!!To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit sandpapers. I wiped the stem with moist cloth after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rejuvenate the vulcanite. At the end of micromesh cycle, I polished the stem with “Before and After Fine & Extra Fine” paste. The finished stem is shown below.  For the readers to get a perspective of the stem transformation I am including the pictures below of the stem before the modifications to fit the shank were started. The gentle and seamless flare to the stem at the tenon end on both surfaces looks cool, akin to a Whale back!To check and verify the correctness of the alignment of the stem airway, the tenon opening, shank/ mortise airway and finally through the draught hole, I did the PIPE CLEANER test.  The pipe cleaner passed through cleanly and without any obstruction from the slot end right through the draught hole.With the stem repairs, transformations and micromesh polishing complete, I turned my attention back to the stummel which was yet to be polished with the micromesh grit pads. I wet sand the entire stummel with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, wiping frequently with a moist cloth to check the progress. I really like the looks of the stummel at this point in restoration. The grain and the clean lines of this piece of briar is really appreciable. The few scratches that were noticed over the stummel surface too have been addressed at this stage. Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The contrast of the dark browns of the Bird’s eye and cross grains with the natural patina of the rest of the stummel adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel. I have now reached the homestretch in this restoration project. To complete the restoration, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding.    I mounted another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. With a jeweler’s cloth, I cleaned the nickel ferrule to a nice deep shine. The finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and is ready to join my collection. I only wish it could share with me its life story of the past years while I enjoy smoking my favorite Virginia blend in it or maybe an English blend or maybe just keep admiring it!! Big thank you to all the readers who have joined me on this path by reading this write up as I restored and completed this project.

Restemming and Restoring a Bill Lator Handmade Bent Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

A fellow Vancouver Pipeman named Alex has been keeping me busy with working on the pipes he is picking up. He has picked up some interesting American and English made pipes. One of those is this Dublin that is engraved on the left side and underside of the shank. On the left side it reads Crafted Expressly for Roy Garrett. On the underside it reads Lator Handcrafted. It is a nice piece but has some unique features that are visible in the photos that follow. It has a sculpted/rusticated portion on the left side of the bowl and a crowned rim top. There was a thick cake in the bowl and lava overflowing onto the rim top. The rim top has some scratching and dents that will be more visible once the lava coat is gone. It appears that the edges of the bowl are in good shape – both inner and outer. The finish was very dirty with grime and oils ground into the smooth and rusticated portions. The stem did not fit well in the shank and appeared to be a replacement stem. The diameter of the stem was less than that of the bowl and left a large edge exposed on the shank end. I believe that the pipe originally had a taper stem rather than the fancy, damaged turned one that was on it when I received it. To my mind it would need to have a new stem fit to the shank. Here are some photos of the pipe when I first received it.I took a close-up photo of the rim to show the condition of the rim top and the inner edge of the bowl. The rim top had some dents and damage to it and the inner edge appeared to have some charring and darkening. The stem was an obvious replacement of necessity. It did not fit the shank and it was actually quite worn out with a chip out of the button and stem on the top side. I would need to fit a replacement.  The engraving on the left side and the underside of the shank are shown in the photos below. It reads as noted above.    I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the flow of the pipe. When I crafted a new stem for it I would work with the same angles to get the same look.When Alex dropped it off the first of the Lator pipes that he wanted me to work on I asked him to do a bit of research on the brand and see what he could find out about the pipemaker and the brand. He said he would and over the next couple of days sent me several emails with information that he had found out about the pipe. Here is a link to the first blog on the Canadian that is referred to in the following information (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/02/07/removing-an-annoying-whistle-from-a-handmade-canadian-by-bill-lator/).

The first email was the description given of the pipe on the SATX Pipes site – the company he purchased it from. They gave a pretty detailed description of the pipe and the stamping on the pipe.

This is a very rare handmade Canadian by Bill Lator. In addition, it bears the customer’s name on it that it was commissioned for. Bill Lator was a pipe maker from Indiana who operated two small pipe shops with his family. This particular Lator is in fine shape. Stem is shiny black and free from any chatter. Beautiful grain and color is offset by a sterling silver band. This is a non-filtered pipe. Pipe has been sanitized, polished and waxed, and comes ready to smoke. Pipe Dimensions: Length Overall: 6 1/8″ Height Overall: 1 3/4″ Width Overall: 1 1/4″ Chamber Width: 7/8″ Chamber Depth: 1 5/8″ Weight: 1.1 oz

Alex also sent along picture of a Magazine cover showing …Bing with a BL Canadian on the cover of a magazine.He also included an excerpt from a local newspaper article about the Lators from 1976:

Pipemaking is a family affair for the Bill Lator family. The family owns and operates “The Pipemaker,” 109 N. Broad. Father Bill, Sr. and all three sons, Paul, 28, Bill, Jr., 20 and Kurt, 14 have taken up the rare trade of pipemaking. According to Lator, there are only about 20 pipemakers in the United States. “And three of them are in Griffith,” he quipped. Lator said his pipe making started as a hobby, “a way to relax after a busy day as an executive.” Lator also began doing extensive research into pipe making going through a number of west coast libraries and learning everything he could. About a year ago, his friends started suggesting he open a pipe shop and after more urging by his son Paul, Lator moved to Griffith. The fame of his handmade briar pipes combined with the skills of his wife, Hellen, in blending pipe tobacco made the shop an instant success. Lator said his oldest son turns out artistic pipes, “he is the artist in the family-Son, Bill is the “perfectionist.” His creations have a machined perfection according to his father, “which appeals to certain customers.” The youngest, Kurt, is still an apprentice, learning the trade of pipemaking with the discards and making tampers. Mrs. Lator has gained a reputation as a master tobacco blender.

Alex sent a follow-up email and included a paragraph from Bill Lator’s obituary: “Bill was very artistic and in 1973 found he could make beautiful smoking pipes carved of briar. In 1975 he along with his 2 sons, Paul and Bill, opened The Pipemaker Pipe and Tobacco Shop in Griffith, Indiana. He loved that shop and all the customers. He made a very successful business that lasted 13 years. In 1986 he decided it was time for him to retire…”

From this I know that the pipe came from Bill Lator’s Griffith, Indiana Shop – The Pipemaker Pipe and Tobacco Shop. It had been made between 1975 and 1986 when Bill retired.

Now it was time to work on the pipe itself. I reamed the thick cake back to the walls with a PipNet pipe reamer using the first two cutting heads. I followed up – cleaning the remnants of cake on the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. The final step for me to assess the condition of the walls of the bowl is to sand it with 220 grit sandpaper on a piece of dowel. I sanded the walls smooth. I was happy with the condition of the inside walls of the chamber.  I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with a tooth brush and undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap to get the grime and debris out of the briar. I rinsed it with running water and dried it off with a towel. With that the outside was clean… progress!   I worked on the damage to the rim top to remove the darkening, charring and dents and nicks. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing it with 400 grit sandpaper. The top is looking much better at this point.I cleaned out the shank and airway in the bowl with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and 99% isopropyl alcohol. I would do the stem once had the replacement shaped and fit.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. The grain is really beginning to stand out and the rim top is blending in quite well.     I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I am very happy with the results.      I set the bowl aside and went through my stems to find one that would fit well. There was a nice acrylic stem without a tenon that was the right diameter as the shank end. I took a photo of the new stem with the one that came with the pipe. I took a photo of the tenon that would work on the stem and in the shank.  I repaired the tooth marks in the acrylic with the new Black Loctite 380 Adhesive. I set the stem aside to let the repairs cure.      I glued the new tenon in place in the stem with clear super glue. The tenon looks long but it is the same length as the mortise.I used a needle file to recut the edges of the button and flatten out the repairs. I sanded them with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth them out and blend them into the surface. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.Bending this stem was a challenge! I heated it with a heat gun and was unable to bend it. I heated it in boiling water for over 5 minutes and the bend I was able to achieve was not as much as I wanted. I repeated the process multiple times and the photo below shows what I accomplished.I am not happy with the bend. It had taken a lot of work to get to this point but I did not like what I was seeing. I went back through my can of stems to find a different stem that would work better. I found one that would work, it had the correct bend  but needed to be cleaned up and polished.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and 340 grit sandpaper paying particular attention to the tenon and the curve of the saddle stem.       I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth.   This Lator Bent Dublin with a new fit acrylic saddle stem turned out to be a real beauty. It has a unique carved rustication on the left side of the bowl and a crowned rim top that rolls from the outer edge into the bowl. Lator really maximized the grain with the shape of the pipe. Everything about the pipe – the rustication on the side, the crowned rim top and the cut of the briar work well to highlight the shape of the bowl. I polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel and the finish just popped and came alive. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The pipe took on life with the buffing. The rich brown finish works well with the polished acrylic stem. The finished pipe has a rich look that is quite catching. Have a look at it with the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The pipe will back in the box of pipes that I am working on fro Alex. I am looking forward to what he will think of this one. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another estate pipe.

Restemming and Rejuvenating a NOS Unsmoked Calabria Billiard Made by W&R Diehl Munchen, Germany


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to me from one of the estates that Jeff and I purchased in 2019. Jeff and I pick up many together at estates and on pipe hunts. Between us we pick up quite a few pipes for restoration. I try to work them into the restoration queue so that I can keep them moving. This next one is an interesting unsmoked NOS Billard bowl without a stem. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the bowl and reads Calabria in a gold stamped oval. On the right side of the bowl it is stamped Bruyere [over] Garantie. On the underside of the shank it reads W&R Diehl in an oval over Munchen. The stamping was readable and clear. The bowl was dusty and dirty but unsmoked. The rim top and edges of the bowl looked to be in good condition. When Jeff sent me photos before he purchased it I was interested in it. The bowl showed promise once it had a new stem. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started the cleanup work. He took a photo of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the condition of the bowl and rim top. The top is beveled inward but it is very clean.Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar looked like around the pipe. The grain is mixed and there are a few fills in the bowl around the sides.    He took photos of the stamping around the shank sides. It is clear and reads as noted above.  I had not heard of the brand before so I did a bit of research to see what I could find. I googled the pipe assuming the brand was W&R Diehl from Munchen, Germany. I found the following listing on Google that took me to a bagged pipe from the Wilh and Rich Diehl Company. Here is the link to the site: (https://www.sportscards.com/item/superb-rare-hand-made-wr-diehl-vintage-naturell-estate-pipe-pipa-pfeife-tuyau/163334880617/). I am including the information on the site as well as a copy of a photo with the pipe bag included.

Here we have a superb and rare vintage “Naturell” briar estate pipe in the ‘bent billiard’ style, with an excellent grain to the briar. The pipe is branded “W&R Diehl” over “Munchen” on one side of the shank, with “Made by Hand”on the reverse, and “Naturell” on the underside. It comes complete in its original “Diehl” branded pipe pouch. I believe this pipe would have been custom made for W&R Diehl (a famous Munich pipe retailer)The second site it took me to was the company website of Pfeifen Diehl in Munich, Germany (http://www.pfeifen-diehl.de/pfeifen-diehl_english/philosophy.htm). I am including a picture of the Company workshop and a few screen shots of information on the site. Jeff had cleaned up the pipe to remove the dust grit. The bowl had a coat of varnish that gave it a shine. The bowl was raw briar on the inside and was clean. Jeff polished the band on the shank and it took on rich shine.  I went through my collection of assorted stem to see what I could find that would work with the bowl. It had a slightly bigger diameter than the shank but it would work with a bit of adjustment. It was unused but the tenon had been turned previously and would still need to be turned down a bit more for a snug fit. I used a PIMO tenon turning tool to take the stem down. I did the first pass to get closer to the adjustment. The second pass cleaned it up for snug fit.   The tenon fit perfectly in the shank of the pipe. The stem was not round with decidedly more vulcanite on the top and right side of the stem. I took the top and the right side down with a Dremel and sanding drum to match the underside and the left side. Once I was finished it was round again. The fit against the shank end was perfect. It was going to look really good once I finished sanding out the scratches left behind by the Dremel.    I sanded the tooth marks and scratches out of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.   I polished the newly fitted vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.  This beautifully grained German Made W&R Diehl gold banded billiard with the newly fit taper stem is a great looking pipe. I buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond on the wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished W&R Diehl Calabria Billiard fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼   inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Restoring & Restemming a Celtic Craft Block Meerschaum from Bob Kerr’s Estate


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I have chosen from the four remaining pipes from Bob Kerr’s Estate is a Genuine Block Meerschaum with a damaged stem. This is the last of Bob’s Block Meerschaum pipes that I have to work on. (Bob’s photo is to the left). If you have not “met” the man and would like to read a bit of the history of the pipeman, his daughter has written a great tribute that is worth a read. Because I have included it in most of the restorations of the estate to date I thought that I would leave it out this time. Check out some of the recent Dunhill restoration blogs (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/01/restoring-the-last-of-bob-kerrs-dunhills-a-1962-dunhill-bruyere-656-f-t-bent-billiard/).

This Meerschaum is stamped Celtic [over] Craft on the left side of the shank. On the underside it is stamped Genuine Block Meerschaum. Over that on the shank end was stamp GT at the top and below the stamp read N14 which is probably the shape number. The fancy vulcanite stem is oxidized, calcified and has a large chunk missing from the underside of the button and stem. From the damage it looked to me like it needed to be replaced. The exterior of the bowl is grimy and dirty. The black flumed top was worn and tired looking on both the rim top and the shank end. There is a thick cake and lava overflow on the rim top. It is thick enough that it is hard to know if there is any damage on top and edges but it looked like there was some damage. Jeff took photos of the pipe to show its general condition before he did his cleanup.   The exterior of the pipe was very dirty – grime and grit ground in from years of use and sitting. This one was obviously one of Bob’s favourites. The rim top was covered with a coat of thick lava that overflowed the bowl. There was also some damage on the rim top and edges of the bowl. The bowl itself had a thick cake with flecks of tobacco stuck in the cake on the sides.  Jeff took photos of the sides and the heel of the bowl to give a better feel for the condition of the bowl. It is dirty but the rustication is interesting. The next photos show the stamping on the sides of the shank. The left side is clear and readable and reads as noted above. The stamping on the underside of the shank was also clear and readable as noted above. Jeff also took photos of the stem shank connection with the stem in place and the stem removed. The tenon was metal and inset in the end of the stem. The shank end was filthy and worn.  The stem was dirty and extremely oxidized, calcified and had tooth marks on both sides ahead of the button. It was missing a large chunk of vulcanite from the underside of the stem and button.   I have not heard of the Celtic Craft brand but the way it was made and the stamping style and placement on the pipe and the finish on the pipe was identical to the look and feel of the block meerschaum pipe that restored earlier – a BELT (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/06/11/restoring-a-heavily-smoked-belt-meerschaum-peterson-like-pipe/). I turned to that blog to check if it was possible that the CELTIC CRAFT pipe was made by the same company. While there was nothing definite I am convinced that it is made by the same company. I quote from that blog:

The BELT brand is not one that I am familiar with. I have never heard of the brand in my years of doing this work. I decided to pause before I started my part of the work on the pipe and see what I could learn on the web. I looked on Pipephil’s site and could find nothing listed. I did the same on Pipedia and initially found nothing either. I did a google search for the brand and low and behold the brand came up under Danish Pipe Making Companies under the heading London Meerschaum (https://pipedia.org/wiki/London_Meerschaum). I quote the brief article below as taken from Jose Manuel Lopes book.

“London Meerschaum made some pipes under the name of BELT or THE BELT, I had this confirmed by Bonds of Oxford St. who have 5 smooth bowl versions in stock at the time of writing, these look very similar to standard system full bent Peterson Meerschaums, the smooth versions have silverware stamped L&JS {Les & Dolly Wood, Ferndown} and has Belt and Genuine Block Meerschaum stamped on the bowl. I have seen 1 rusticated version with the same silverware and 2 of which I own 1, have gold plated ware with no hallmarks and are also stamped Belt and Genuine Block Meerschaum. Both smooth and rusticated have P-Lip type stems though the air hole is not on top but at the end as with most non Peterson P-Lips that I have come across. I do not know when London Meerschaum ceased trading but I can say from the one Belt that I own, it’s a very fine pipe and not cheap, well over the £100 mark when new.”

These pipes were evidently sold at least as early as the 1950’s. These may have been made by, or are affiliated with Pomeroy & Cooke Ltd., (Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks, by José Manuel Lopes).

One of the readers of that blog responded with the following information. It cleared up the information above and called the information that it was a Danish Company called London Meerschaum into question.

Jambo/Belt was based in Nothhamptonshire, a small town north of London.

In my mind it was a Manx Made African Meer and now the information trail was twisted. It is now purported to have been made in Denmark, or in Nothhamptonshire near London or on the Isle of Man. Confusing and strange provenance for this old meer but I personally lean toward the Manx Pipes Connection. Now it was time to work on the pipe itself.

With over 125 pipes to clean from Bob’s estate I took a batch of them to the states with me when I visited and left them with Jeff so he could help me out. Jeff cleaned the pipes with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. Once he finished he shipped them back to me. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the meerschaum and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with an interesting rustic finish around the bowl and shank. Jeff scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked a lot better. I took photos before I started my part of the work.  I took close up photos of the rim top and the stem surfaces. The rim top looked better but was rough. Some of the surface had been worn smooth. It was clean however and the flumed colour on the rim and shank end had faded with the cleanup work. The stem was another story all together. The metal tenon was good but the threads in the shank were worn so that it would not align. The issue for me was that the metal would continue to wear down the meer and make the fit looser over time. There were deep nicks on all the sharp edges of the diamond stem. The large chip out of the underside of the button and stem was bigger and rougher than I expected. Even though I could rebuild the damaged area I decided that the stem would need to be replaced on this one.    I took photos of the stamping on the shank of the pipe. It is readable and clear. The text reads as noted above.   I took the stem off the shank and took a photo to give a sense of the flow of the pipe. The stem is a bit of a turned freehand stem so I pretty much could use any other turned freehand stem as a replacement.I started my work on the pipe by dealing with the rim top. I used a brass bristle brush to clean up the rim top. I wanted to check out damage to the rim top so the brass bristle brush would remove any remaining grit in the rustication.I used a black stain pen to touch up the flumed top of the bowl, edges and the shank end. The rim top and shank end looked much better.   I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to replacing the stem. I went through my can of stems and found one that would look interesting with the shape of the pipe. It was a new cast stem. I would need to cut off the tenon and drill out the stem for a new tenon.I used the Dremel and sanding drum to cut off the tenon. I had a Delrin tenon that was made to screw into the stem. I found that reversing it and turning it into the shank was a perfect fit. I used a series of drill bits to drill out the end of the stem to receive the smooth end of the tenon. I used the Dremel and sanding drum to remove the excess vulcanite from the stem so that when the tenon was screwed into the shank the stem sat flush in the shank. I glued the tenon in place in the stem with clear super glue and set it aside to let the glue cure.Once the glue cured I turned the stem into the shank and took photos of the pipe as a whole. Still lots of sanding to do but I like the fit of the stem to the shank.   I cleaned up the stepped down stem area on the end of the stem with a needle file to fit in the inset shank end. I also used the file to reduce the thickness of the button. I then heated the stem with a lighter flame to soften the vulcanite. Once it was soft I bent the end of the stem to match the stem that I was replacing. I screwed the stem into the shank and took a photo of the pipe at this point in the process. I am starting to like the looks of this pipe.   I removed the stem from the shank and sanded out the file marks and shaped the button with 220 grit sandpaper and followed that with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to start the polishing.   I used a potter cutting tool to open up the slot in the end of the button. I wanted to reshape it and open it enough that a pipe cleaner would easily move through the airway.   I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.    I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine. This interestingly finished rusticated Celtic Craft Genuine Block Meerschaum Freehand/Poker from Bob Kerr’s estate looks very good. Even though it is not my personal favourite it must be a great smoking pipe. The finish cleaned up well on the pipe is in great condition and works well with the polished vulcanite taper replacement stem. I carefully buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Clapham’s Beeswax Polish and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Meerschaum fits nicely in the hand and I think the rustication will feel great when it heats up during smoking. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in carrying on Bob’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. I have more to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

Restoring and Restemming a Beautiful L’Anatra dalle Uova d’Oro Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

I am doing periodic repairs for a local pipe/cigar shop. They called in February about a pipe that one of their customers had dropped off for repairs. He was hoping for another L’Anatra stem but he had either lost or thrown away the original after the tenon had snapped off in the shank. That was too bad as it would have been fairly straight forward to put a new tenon on the stem and fit it in the shank. We spoke a bit about it and as I do not have access to L’Anatra stems with the goose head on the top that are hand turned acrylic I figured the repair had been dropped. Fast forward to June! On Friday evening they called and said that one of them would drop a pipe by for restemming with a vulcanite stem as the customer just wanted to be able to smoke it and enjoy it again. We arranged for the drop off at my house on that evening after the shop closed. Friday evening there was no pipe. All day Saturday and into the evening there was no pipe so I figured they had changed their minds. Then this morning around 9am the doorbell rang and there was a fellow with a City Cigar Bag in hand with a large box. We chatted and he handed me the bag.

I don’t know what I was expecting but it certainly was not what I found inside the box. It is a large box like others I have seen with L’Anatra pipes. Inside were a note and a draw string pipe bag. With the box, the bag and all I was expecting a large Italian pipe sans stem. I had no idea what shape it would be and no idea what size pipe it was. You can imagine my surprise when I open the bag and removed the pipe pictured below. It was absolutely smooth and quite stunningly grained. The shape was very nice and the condition was better than I expected. I examined the bowl for dings and nicks from the fall that snapped the tenon and found none. It was stamped L’Anatra [over] dalle Uova d’Oro [over] Fiuma and 2 eggs for the grade of the pipe. Underneath that it was stamped Hand Made in Italy. So far you see what I saw. Now let me tell you the size of the pipe. The bowl is 2 ½ inches long, 1 ½ inches tall, the outer diameter of the bowl is 1 ¼ inches and the chamber diameter is ¾ of an inch. It is a lot smaller and petite than I expected from the box and bag.  I took a photo of the stamping on the left and underside of the shank. It was very clear and readable. It was stamped as noted above – L’Anatra [over] dalle Uova d’Oro [over] Fiuma and 2 eggs [over] Hand Made in Italy.      I looked up the L’Anatra brand on PipePhil’s site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-l1.html). It gives a great brief history of the brand that is a quick overview of the Company. The pipes are carved by Massimo Palazzi and Andrea Pascucci and graded 1, 2, or 3 eggs. The brand also had a goose head standing on the top of the stem.I looked up the brand on Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/L%27anatra). The article there was very informative about the background and history of the brand. Give the article a read if you are interested in a great article. Now it was time to begin the process of the restoration on this pipe. I quote in part:

L’Anatra pipes feature a cast silver goose head on the stem! This is demonstrative not only of their playfulness, but also of their willingness and desire to be different from the norm. They do not strive to impress, they strive to make a truly delightful and pleasing pipe. Perhaps it is this attitude that makes L’Anatra pipes so superb that pipes should first be a joy to make, to smoke and to peruse and then, only once those most important attributes are satisfied, the true artistry of the maker will shine through.

The issue that brought the pipe to me in the first place was the missing stem. Before I could fit a new stem I needed to pull the broken tenon. I tried with my usual method of turning a large screw into the airway and wiggling the tenon piece free. The tenon was stuck and did not move at all. I wrapped the bowl in a paper towel and put it in the freezer for 20 minutes. I took it out and turned the screw into the airway in the tenon. It took very little effort for the broken tenon to easily come out of the shank.    I decided to see what kind of stem I had to replace the missing stem. I had a vulcanite stem that was a close fit. The diameter of the stem was slightly larger than that of the shank. I forgot to take pictures of the stem before I worked on it. I used a Dremel and sanding drum and took the diameter down to as close to the shank diameter as I could. The rest of the work would be by hand. I took photos of the pipe with the initial fit of the stem to the shank. It is looking pretty good at this point.   I continued to reduce the diameter of the stem with 220 sandpaper to remove the excess. It took a lot of sanding to get it to have a proper fit. I followed that up sanding it with 400 grit sandpaper.   The stem was looking much better. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine.    I set the new stem aside and turned my attention to the bowl. I needed to clean out the bowl and shank before I fit the new stem on it. I reamed it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and wiped the bowl out with a piece of paper towel to remove the dust. I polished the darkened area on the back of the rim top and the rest of the bowl with 1500-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp paper towel after each pad. I rubbed the bowl and rim down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I really like watching the Balm do its magic and bring the briar alive. The pipe looked good – the natural finish allowed me to blend in the sanded and polished areas.    As usual at this point in the restoration process I am excited to be on the homestretch. I look forward to the final look when it is put back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The grain really pops with the wax and polish. The shiny black vulcanite stem is a beautiful contrast natural browns of the bowl and shank. This L’Anatra dalle Uova d’Oro Bent Billiard was another fun pipe to work on thanks the fact that I could in essence start over with it. The thin taper stem looks really good with the natural finish of the bowl and shank. The pipe is a quite stunning piece of briar with great grain around the bowl. The pipe is comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This newly restemmed pipe will soon be going back to City Cigar to pass on to the customer who dropped it off. I hope that he soon can enjoy a few bowls in this newly stemmed pipe. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an pipe to bring back to life.

New Life for a Comoy’s Second – A Town Hall Made in England 136 Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

I am getting to the bottom of the current box of pipes for restoration. I think there were probably 40+ pipes in the box when I started. I am down to the last two. I took out an interesting older billiard that Jeff and I had picked up on our Oregon Coast Pipe Hunt. It was a well-shaped billiard that was absolutely filthy but there was something about it that ticked the boxes for me. The exterior of the bowl was coated with sticky oils and grime around the walls. The rim top was beat up pretty badly and there was a thick coat of lava and burn marks on the rim top and inner edge. There was a thick cake in the bowl. Between the lava and the cake overflowing the bowl it was hard to know what the inner edges looked like. The exterior edge was nicked and chipped with quite a bit of damage. The stem was oxidized and had tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. There was also a large hole in the underside of the stem – a large bite through that covered about half of the area ahead of the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his work on it. Jeff took some photos of the rim top from various angles to show the condition. You can see the thick lava on the top and the dust and debris as well as some damage on the rim. There is a thick cake in the bowl and lava on the inner edge. The next photos show the bowl sides and heel. The finish around the bowl was very worn and tired looking. There were spots of paint on the briar as well as quite a few fills on the heel and the front of the bowl. There was some amazing grain showing through the thick grime on the finish. The next photos capture the stamping around the shank and band. Jeff did not get a good photo of the shape number and worn stamp on the right side of the shank so I have not included that. The stamping read as noted above and they are faint but readable with a light and lens. The silver band is also stamped Sterling London.The stem was oxidized and calcified and the photos below show the tooth marks and chatter on the surface. The second photo shows the large bite through on the stem surface ahead of the button. This stem will need to be replaced.  I turned to Pipephil to try and figure out any information regarding the Town Hall brand. I was not familiar with and was hoping I would get some info (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-t7.html). I did indeed find out that it was a Comoy’s Second. The photo of the stamping looks like what I have. The stamp on the right side of the shank in the photo below is very faint on the pipe I am working on. I have included the screen capture of the section on the brand below. I then turned to the Pipedia article on Comoy’s pipes (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Comoy%27s). I read through the article until I came to the section entitles “Seconds made by Comoy’s”. I scrolled through the list of brands and the Town Hall was listed. (There is a typo in the name in the list as it runs the two words together.) I have emboldened and underlined the name in the list below.

Ace of spades, Ancestor, Astor, Ayres, Britannia, Carlyle, Charles Cross, Claridge, Coronet?, Cromwell, Dorchester, Dunbar, Drury Lane, Emerson, Everyman, Festival of Britain, Golden Arrow, Grand Master, Gresham, Guildhall, Hamilton (according to Who Made That Pipe), Kingsway, Lion’s Head, Lord Clive, Lumberman, Hyde Park, Lloyds, Mc Gahey, Moorgate, Newcastle, Oxford, O’Gorman, Rosebery Extra, Royal Falcon, Royal Guard, Royal Lane, Scotland Yard, St James, Sunrise, Super Sports, Sussex, The Academy Award, The Golden Arrow, The Mansion House, The Exmoor Pipe, Throgmorton, Tinder Box Royal Coachman, Townhall, Trident, Trocadero, Westminster, Wilshire

I knew that I was working on a Comoy’s Made pipe and once I read that I could see the classic Comoy’s Billiard shape and the shape number confirmed that. Armed with that information and a clearer picture of the original pipe I turned to work on the pipe on my work table. Jeff had done a great job cleaning up the pipe as usual. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and cut back the cake back to the bare briar. He cleaned up the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the finish. He worked on the rim top lava and darkening with the soap and tooth brush but it was in rough condition. He scrubbed the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer. He washed it off with warm water to remove the Deoxidizer. The pipe looked far better. I took photos of the pipe when I received it before I started working on it.  I took a photo of the rim top showing the damage to the rim top and the damage on the inner edge of the bowl. It was in rough condition. There was some darkening and nicks around the outer edge of the bowl and some burn areas on the inner edge. The stem was also in rough condition with a large bite through on the underside.I took a photo of the stamping on the shank. The stamping is clean and still readable.I decided to start with finding a new stem for the pipe. I took the stem off and looked for a replacement. I have so many pipes to work on that I am not bothering with filling in bite throughs at this point. I am leaving this to the master Paresh Deshpande to do! I found a suitable estate stem that was the right diameter and right tenon size. It is slightly shorter and a bit less tapered than the one that was on the bowl but it would work. I cleaned the airway in it with alcohol and pipe cleaners to get a good start on it then put it in place on the shank and took some pictures of the new stem. I decided to address the damage to the rim and the edges of the bowl – both outer and inner. I topped the bowl with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I sanded the inner and outer edges with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove them and to remove the damages. Once it was finished it looked a lot better. There were a lot of fills around the sides and heel of the bowl. I checked them for soundness and filled in some of the more damaged ones with clear super glue. Once the repairs cured I sanded them with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth them and blend them into the surrounding briar.I polished the rim top and bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad. The fills were very obvious on this pipe and to me they were just ugly enough to bother me. I could have stained just the rim top to match but figured I would try to mask the fills a bit with a darker stain. I used what is labeled as a Light Brown stain to cover the bowl and rim. I applied the stain and then flamed it to set it in the grain of the bowl. It was dark but I think it will look good once I am finished. I let it sit for several hours then buffed it off with Red Tripoli on the buffing wheel to get a feel for what it looked like at this point. I wiped the bowl down with isopropyl alcohol to make the stain coat a little more transparent and show the grain on the bowl. I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 10 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The briar really comes alive with the balm. I set the bowl aside and turn to address the issues with the stem. The stem was in decent condition with no bite marks. It was dirty and oxidized as could be seen in the photos above. I sanded out the oxidation with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down after each pad with some Obsidian Oil to preserve the stem and to give some bite to the sanding. I finished the polishing with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine polishes. I rubbed the stem down with the polishes and buffed it with a cotton pad. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. This Comoy’s made Town Hall 136 Billiard was one I was looking forward to seeing come together. The new light brown stain hides the fills nicely while still highlighting the grain around the bowl – sides, top and heel. The polished black vulcanite taper stem that I fit to the shank works very well with the look of the pipe. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. I polished the silver band with a jeweller’s cloth. The finished Billiard is quite nice and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. This pipe will be added to the British Pipe Makers section of the rebornpipes store soon. If you want to add it to your collection send me an email or a message! Thanks for your time.