Tag Archives: Ropp Pipes

Restoring a Ropp Standard Cherrywood Poker from Bob Kerr’s Estate


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I have chosen from Bob Kerr’s Estate is a Ropp Cherrywood Poker.Apple with a slender stem. (his 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. Be sure to check out some of the recent Dunhill restoration blog (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/01/restoring-the-last-of-bob-kerrs-dunhills-a-1962-dunhill-bruyere-656-f-t-bent-billiard/).

This Cherrywood Poker is stamped Ropp in an oval [over] Standard [over] Made in France on the heel of the bowl. The tapered stem does not have the typical Ropp brass logo so I am not sure if it is an original. It is oxidized and has light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. There is some calcification on the stem with damage to the button. The bark on the exterior of the bowl is grimy and dirty. There is a thick cake and lava overflow on the rim top. There is some damage on top & edges. Jeff took photos of the pipe to show its general condition before he did his cleanup. The bark on the pipe was very dirty – grime and grit from years of use and sitting. The rim top was covered with a coat of thick lava that overflowed the bowl. There was also some darkening on the rim top and inner edge 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 bark around the bowl.The next photo shows the stamping on the heel of the bowl and it is very readable. It reads as noted above. The stem was dirty and extremely oxidized. Once again the stem appeared to be a replacement as I have learned Bob was a chewer and his stems seemed to have been replaced often. This one at least fit well to the shank and did not yet have the chew marks that were a norm on Bob’s pipes.I wanted to refresh my memory on the brand so I turned for a short, quick summary to Pipephil (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-ropp.html). I have included the pertinent information from that site below:

Brand created by Eugène-Léon Ropp (1830 – 1907) and continued throughout 3 generations. “GBA Synergie” run by Bernard Amiel (†2008) bought back Ropp in 1988 and owned it until 1991. The company was taken over by Cuty-Fort Entreprises (Chacom, Vuillard, Jean Lacroix…) in 1994.

I also turned to Pipedia to see if there was any additional information that would be helpful (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Ropp). I quote the portion of the article on the Cherrywood pipes.

Eugène-Léon Ropp (1830 – 1907) had acquired a patent for a cherrywood pipe (wild cherry, lat.: Prunus avium) in 1869. In 1870 he established a workshop to manufacture such pipes in Büssingen (Bussang, Vosges mountains). Around 1893 the business moved into the former mill of Sicard (part of the community of Baume-les-Dames – Département Doubs, Upper Burgundy – from 1895 on)… Even though cherrywood pipes were the mainstay of Ropp until the company finally closed down in September 1991. The company was taken over by Cuty-Fort Entreprises (Chacom, Jeantet, Vuillard, Jean Lacroix…) in 1994.

The pipe thus was made in France sometime prior to the closure in 1991. It is made from wild cherry and was a specialty of Ropp. I have worked on quite a few over the years but I had forgotten all the dates and information. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

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 briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff scrubbed it 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 some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show what cleaned bowl and rim top looked like. The rim top shows damage and charring on the inner edge of the bowl. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the light tooth marks and the remaining oxidation on the stem surface.I took a photo of the stamping on the heel of the bowl and it is clear and readable. It is stamped as noted above. Now, on to my part of the restoration of this Ropp Standard Cherrywood. I decided to start by dealing with the damage to the inner edge of the rim. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the edge and give it a slight bevel to remove the damaged area and bring the bowl back into round.I polished the top of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the briar down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bark on the bowl sides and shank as well as the smooth heel and rim top 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 and shoe brush to raise the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. 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 rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after the last sanding pad. The shine was perfect. This Ropp Standard Cherrywood French made pipe from Bob Kerr’s estate turned out to be a great looking pipe. The natural bark finish and the polished smooth Cherry top and heel of the bowl look very good. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and works well with the polished vulcanite taper stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the cherrywood. 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. The finished Ropp Standard Cherrywood 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: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ 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 a Ropp Deluxe 803 Cherrywood Bent Octagonal Poker


Blog by Steve Laug

Not too long ago I received an email from a fellow in Kitchener, Ontario regarding some pipes he needed cleaned up. He had been referred to me by my local pipe and cigar shop. While I am not currently adding more pipes to my queue of repairs I have made a commitment to the shop to work on pipes for their customers. Generally they have one or two pipes that need a bit of work. This fellow sent me the following email:

I just came across my smoking pipes that I’ve had in storage for about 40 years. I’m wondering what you’d charge to have them refurbished. There are 17 in total (11 are Brighams and 6 are various).

It turns out he said he had 17 pipes. That was certainly more than I expected but I communicated that there was a large queue ahead of him and I would have to fit them in as I could. He was fine with whatever time it took. He sent me the following photos of his collection that he wanted restored. The first photo shows his eleven Brigham pipes – all very interesting shapes. The second photo shows the six various pipes in the collection – A Republic Era Peterson’s System 1312 (Canadian Import), A Bjarne Hand Carved Freehand, a Comoy’s Everyman London smooth billiard, a GBD Popular Dublin 12, an English made Kaywoodie Rustica 72B, a Kriswill Bernadotte 60 with a broken tenon. When the box arrived there were two additional pipes included for a total of 19 – a Ropp 803 Deluxe Cherrywood Poker and a Comoy’s Sandblast Everyman Canadian 296. It was a lot of pipes! I decided to start with the first pipe I pulled out of his box – when I unwrapped it the pipe was the Ropp Cherrywood. It was stamped on the heel and read ROPP in an oval over DeLuxe over France with a shape number 803. It was dirty. The exterior of the octagonal pipe was dirty with grime and dust. The rim top had some lava overflow and darkening on the smooth bevel. The bowl had a thick cake that was crumbling. The bark on the shank and bowl was in excellent condition. The end of the threaded portion of the shank that screwed into the bowl had a metal insert as did the area around the side of the bowl where the shank screwed in. The stem had an inlaid Ropp emblem on the left side of the taper stem. It was a push stem and was stuck in the Cherrywood shank. It was oxidized and had tooth chatter and marks on both sides just ahead of the button. I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top to show the condition of the bowl and rim as well as the cake. I also took close up photos of the stem to show its condition as mentioned above. I took a photo of the stamping on the heel of the bowl to show what I was speaking about above. It is very clear and readable. The 803 is clearly the shape number for the octoganal Cherrywood.I carefully took the pipe apart. The shank and stem unscrewed as a single unit from the bowl. I checked the fit of the stem in the shank and from my memory of other Ropp pipes I was pretty certain it was a push stem. I held the shank firmly as close to the shank end as possible to prevent inadvertently cracking it when I twisted the stem. I carefully applied pressure to the stem and sure enough it came loose. There was some bits of wood stuck on the tenon but otherwise everything looked good both inside the mortise and on the tenon.I wanted to refresh my memory on the brand so I turned for a short, quick summary to Pipephil (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-ropp.html). I have included the pertinent information from that site below:

Brand created by Eugène-Léon Ropp (1830 – 1907) and continued throughout 3 generations. “GBA Synergie” run by Bernard Amiel (†2008) bought back Ropp in 1988 and owned it until 1991. The company was taken over by Cuty-Fort Entreprises (Chacom, Vuillard, Jean Lacroix…) in 1994.

I also turned to Pipedia to see if there was any additional information that would be helpful (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Ropp). I quote the portion of the article on the Cherrywood pipes.

Eugène-Léon Ropp (1830 – 1907) had acquired a patent for a cherrywood pipe (wild cherry, lat.: Prunus avium) in 1869. In 1870 he established a workshop to manufacture such pipes in Büssingen (Bussang, Vosges mountains). Around 1893 the business moved into the former mill of Sicard (part of the community of Baume-les-Dames – Département Doubs, Upper Burgundy – from 1895 on)… Even though cherrywood pipes were the mainstay of Ropp until the company finally closed down in September 1991. The company was taken over by Cuty-Fort Entreprises (Chacom, Jeantet, Vuillard, Jean Lacroix…) in 1994.

The pipe thus was made in France sometime prior to the closure in 1991. It is made from wild cherry and was a specialty of Ropp. I have worked on quite a few over the years but I had forgotten all the dates and information. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

I reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife, scraping the cake back to bare wood so that I could check on the integrity of the bowl walls. After scraping the cake out of the bow I used the edge to also scrape off the inner beveled edge of the rim top. I sanded the bowl walls with 220 grit sandpaper on a piece of dowel to smooth them out and further examine them. I was happy that the walls looked very good. I cleaned up the rim edge further with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I cleaned out the threaded mortise area on the bowl and the interior of the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. With the bowl and shank cleaned it was time to put those parts back together. I have learned that the threaded tenons on the Cherrywood work better when lubricated with some Vaseline Petroleum Jelly. It makes it easy to turn them together without damaging or cracking the shank or bowl.I wet sanded the rim top and the smooth portions on the bowl sides with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the bowl surface down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad to remove the sanding dust. Once I finished the bowl looked good. I rubbed the Cherrywood bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the gourd 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. Mark Hoover’s Balm is a product that I have come to appreciate and one I use on every pipe I have been working on. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter, marks and oxidation with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I rubbed down the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish and a cotton pad to remove the remnants of oxidation and to blend in the sanding. The stem is starting to show promise at this point in the process. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I finished by wiping it down with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil and buffing it to a shine.  I always look forward to this part of the restoration when all the pieces are put back together. I put the pipe back together and buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservators Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the smooth Cherrywood set off by the strips of bark contrasting well and finally the black vulcanite stem almost glowing. This Ropp Cherrywood is nice looking and feels great in my hand. It is one that could be clenched and smoked while doing other things as it is very light weight and well balanced. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when I received it. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This is the first of the pipes sent to me from Eastern Canada for restoration. I am looking forward to what the pipeman who sent it thinks of this first restoration. Lots more to do in this lot! Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.

An Interesting Pipe to Work On- “Ropp Reporter”


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Even though the work on my last project which I had mentioned in all my previous couple of blogs as one that I was keen to work on, has been more or less completed, the write up is pending for one simple reason, there was an issue which was pointed out by Steve when I shared pictures of the finished pipe with him. To address the issue, I need to travel back to my home town where services of a very special artisan are needed to be sought. Well, unraveling of this mysterious pipe will happen only in October 2019 and in the meanwhile I move ahead with my other restorations!!

The next pipe on my work table is a French pipe, makers of which trace back their history to 1870s!! Most of the learned readers would have guessed it right, it’s indeed a ROPP!

The pipe is a large bowl straight billiards with shiny golden colored shank end band with a bright burnt orange cherry wood (?) shank extension. The stem end of this extension too has the golden colored thin metal ring. The vulcanite stem has a corn cob shaped aluminum stinger. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank as “ROPP” in an oval over “REPORTER”, all in block capital letters. The right side of the shank bears the stamp “L 83” probably denotes the size (L- large) with shape code # 83. The vulcanite saddle stem has the logo “ROPP” in white letters, embedded deep in to the saddle and covered in a transparent high quality plastic cover.I searched pipedia.org to know about the brand as it is a first for me. The site has very scant information about the brand, but what is available makes it an interesting read (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Ropp)

Eugène-Léon Ropp (1830 – 1907) had acquired a patent for a cherrywood pipe (wild cherry, lat.: Prunus avium) in 1869. In 1870 he established a workshop to manufacture such pipes in Büssingen (Bussang, Vosges mountains). Around 1893 the business moved into the former mill of Sicard (part of the community of Baume-les-Dames – Département Doubs, Upper Burgundy – from 1895 on).

The pipes were a big success in the export as well. Shortly before 1914 Ropp designated A. Frankau & Co. (BBB) in to be the exclusive distributor in the UK and it’s colonies.

Probably in 1917 a workshop in Saint-Claude in the Rue du Plan du Moulin 8 was acquired to start the fabrication of briar pipes. In 1923 a small building in the environment of Saint-Claude, serving as a workshop for polishing, was added.

Even though cherrywood pipes were the mainstay of Ropp until the company finally closed down in September 1991. The company was taken over by Cuty-Fort Entreprises (Chacom, Jeantet, Vuillard, Jean Lacroix…) in 1994.

There are some nice old flyers advertising these pipes which are always interesting to go through, but unfortunately my understanding of French is as good as that of the readers who can read, write and understand Devnagiri script (origins of which is Sanskrit), my mother tongue!! Admiring the pictures (but not understanding the text…LoL!!), the only conclusion I could draw was that this pipe is certainly post 1994 as it is more contemporary looking. The complete appearance of the pipe is that of desiring/ seeking attention! It really has that kind of appearance and bling.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
This pipe was received by Abha, my wife, and she liked the funky and bright looks of it. The first thing she noticed was the fit of both the stem tenon in to the shank extension and that of the shank extension in to the mortise was extremely loose. The stummel shows some nice mixed straight, cross and bird’s eye grains all across. The stummel had dirt and grime accumulated over the surface and appeared dull and lifeless. A couple of dents/ dings are visible on the foot of the stummel. I shall address this by steaming out these dents followed by sanding and micromesh polishing. The chamber had a thin even layer of cake in the lower half of the chamber and appeared to have been well looked after. The rim top surface is without any serious damage, save for some minor (and could have been ignored!!!) dents. The inner rim edge has a nice delicate bevel which has been made uneven with reaming with a knife. However, the outer edge has a few very minor dents and dings. The broad vulcanite saddle stem is oxidized and had a couple of minor tooth indentations and chatter on both the surfaces in the bite zone. The corn cob shaped aluminum stinger is covered in dried oils and tars. The button edges showed very slight deformation from tooth marks. The tenon was covered in a hard plastic cap to tighten the fit of the stem in to the shank extension. The burnt orange cherry wood (?) extension is in very good condition except that the ring has discolored in patches but not corroded. The fit of all these pieces of pipes in to each other was extremely loose and would be the biggest challenge to address on this pipe. INITIAL CLEANING BY ABHA…
The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 40-50 pipes and these have now reached me for further restoration). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

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

ONCE THE PIPE IS ON MY WORK TABLE…
Now that the cleaned pipe is on my work table, I proceed to carry out my appreciation of the work that needs to be done on this pipe to restore it.

The chamber show very minor and superficial heat lines all along the walls, however, the stummel appears to be solid to the feel. The rim top surface is in decent condition with the inner rim edge bevel in slightly worn out condition. The outer rim edge does show very minor dents and dings. I could either top the rim top to address this issue or let them be since these dents and dings are very minor and hardly noticeable. The stummel was clean and free of any accumulated grime. One fill that Abha had noticed, was picked clean with a thin sharp edged knife and would need to be filled. After I have polished the stummel with micromesh pads, would I be able to decide if I would stain it or let it be in its natural finish.The stem has only one deeper bite mark which would need to be repaired with a fill of activated charcoal and superglue mix. Whatever, little oxidation remains, will need to be removed by sanding with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper and follow it up with polishing with micromesh pads. The aluminum stinger is clean.The one major issue I need to sort out at the outset is to make the 3 pieces of this pipe stick together to be called a pipe!! The stummel, shank extension and the stem tenon are so loose that it does not fit in to each other and cleaning of all these parts has not helped the matters either.THE PROCESS
The first issue on the agenda that I decided to tackle was to get the pipe together by making the three parts of this pipe to affix firmly in their designated places. For the stem tenon fit, I had an option to either increase the tenon size by heating and thereafter enlarging it with a larger diameter drill bit and coating it with a clear nail polish. I decided against this process since firstly, this would make the seating of the stinger in to the tenon too loose and secondly, the gap between the tenon and shank extension seat was so large that it would not be possible to expand the tenon to this extent. Similarly, there was no way that I could ensure a snug fit of the shank extension in to the mortise other than by making a packing insert. This brought me to the only option of creating a packing insert using a cork and this is exactly what I proceed to do. Theoretically, I would measure the length that needed to be cut off from the cork to fit the stem tenon and the tenon of the shank extension and sand it down to achieve a snug fit, simple. Well, theoretically it sounds easy, practically not so much.I decided that I would address the shank extension first. I pried out a couple of corks from wine bottle caps (Oh my, I have plenty of them!!!) and measured the length that needed to be cut off from the cork to fit the tenon of the shank extension. With my hand held drilling tool and a smaller drill bit, I drilled a through hole. I progressively increased the diameter using progressively bigger drill bits till I had achieved a snug fit of the cork piece on the tenon. Once I was satisfied with the fit, I fixed the cork packing with superglue on to the tenon. I replaced the drill bit on my tool and mounted a sanding drum. Next, I sand the drilled cork with the sanding drum till I had achieved a rough fit of the shank extension tenon in to the mortise. I fine tuned the fit by hand sanding it with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. I decided on fixing this packing on to the tenon so that it will be easier to clean the mortise and shank extension in future after each use. It required a great deal of patience and diligent work to achieve a perfectly snug fit of the shank extension tenon in to the mortise.

However, the moment I started to fit the drilled out cork for the stem tenon, I noticed that the cork had started to split along the fault lines. I tried to stick them together with CA superglue, but to no avail. The more I tried to push, the more the cork disintegrated!! Finally I had to shelve this idea of a cork packing for the stem tenon. The following pictures will give a clearer picture of the steps, results and the failures of this process. While working on the shank extension, the metal band came loose and revealed all the corrosion on the insides of the band and patches of old glue on the shank extension itself. With a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper, I removed all the corrosion from the metal band and evened out the shank extension surface which seated the metal band. I stuck this band flushed with the shank extension stem end surface with CA superglue and set it aside.To address the fit of the stem tenon in to the shank extension, I decided to go the tried and tested path of increasing the girth of the tenon by using a mix of activated charcoal and superglue. I applied the same in layers, till I had achieved a snug fit. I had to set the stem aside after each layer for the mix to cure.In between all the layering and curing process on the stem tenon, I simultaneously worked on the stummel surface. The one fill which was seen and readied for a fresh fill was patched up with a mix of briar dust and superglue and set aside to cure.While, the stummel fill was set aside to cure, I started work on the stem tenon. Using a flat heat needle file, I lightly sand the rebuild tenon surface. As I started to sand with a piece of 220 grit sand paper, I frequently checked the seating of the tenon in to the shank extension. It was at this point in time that I observed that the seating was skewed. There was a prominent gap (indicated by a red arrow) towards the right side between the edges of the stem and the shank extension. On careful observation, I noticed that the fit of the tenon itself in the stem is not aligned straight!! It was this misaligned tenon that caused the stem to seat incorrectly in to the shank extension. To straighten the stem tenon, I inserted a pipe cleaner through the stem and heated the tenon with my heat gun till pliable. Pulling the tenon end of the pipe cleaner, I achieved a straight alignment of the tenon with the stem and cooled the tenon by holding it under cold running tap water. I checked the seating of the stem in to the shank extension and it was perfect. Turning my attention back to the stummel, I matched the fill with the rest of the stummel surface by sanding the fill with a flat head needle file followed by sanding the fill with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. For a perfectly smooth rim top surface, I top it on a piece of 220 grit sand paper. This also addressed the minor dings on the outer rim edge.  I sharpened the inner bevel with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper, pinched between my fingers. It was at this stage that a colleague of mine saw the pipe and wanted it for himself. He liked the grains and the overall aesthetics of this pipe. I explained to him the amount of work remaining that was required to restore this pipe, including the steaming out of the dents and dings at the foot of the stummel. He did not like the idea of steaming out the dents from the foot and vehemently opposed this process. No amount of persuasion on my part that this process will not cause any damage but on the contrary repair it, could convince him. Since he is the new owner of this pipe, with great reluctance, I gave in to his request.

The stem tenon had completely cooled off by now and was perfectly straight. I flamed both the stem surfaces with a lighter to raise the deep bite mark and followed it up with sanding the surface with a 220 grit sand paper followed by 0000 grade steel wool. This helps to remove what little oxidation remained on the stem surface and at the same time addresses minor tooth chatter in the bite zone. I fill the deeper bite area and the button edges with a mix of superglue and activated charcoal powder and set it aside to cure. While the stem fill was curing, I moved ahead with micromesh polishing of the stummel surface. Now, here is a slight departure from the usual polishing process that I have followed on all previous restorations. I had read that White diamond polish falls between 3400 to 4000 grit micromesh pads and so to experiment, I polished the stummel with white diamond after wet sanding with 1500 to 3400 micromesh pads. I finished the polishing cycle by wet sanding with remaining grit micromesh pads. In all honesty, I found the finish not much different from the routine polishing of wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 micromesh pads. I shall continue with this experiment on a few more pipes and then decide to continue with this process or revert back to only micromesh pads. I followed up the polishing by applying “Before and After Restoration” balm. This balm protects and enriches the briar surface and is highly recommended for use in any restoration of briar pipe. I rubbed it deep in to the stummel surface and also in to the shank extension and set it aside to be absorbed for 20 minutes. I also applied petroleum jelly to the cork on the tenon of the shank extension to hydrate and moisten it. I am pleased by the appearance of the stummel (less the dents and dings on the foot of the stummel) and the deep burnt orange hue of the shank extension. At this point in restoration the only other issue, other than the dents and dings on the foot of the stummel, that I need to address is that the burnt orange color of the shank extension merges with the coloration of the stummel. I would love to impart a bit of a contrast between the stummel, shank extension and the shining black of the vulcanite. Well, I shall see to it when I get there!! The following pictures will bring better clarity to what I am commenting on.With the stummel nice and clean and attractive, I worked the stem of the pipe. The fill on the stem had cured nicely and I sand it down with a flat head needle file. I sharpened the lip edges using a needle file and sand the entire stem with 220 followed by 400, 800 and 1000 grit sand paper. This helps to reduce the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem and the tenon, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with a moist cloth after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil. The pictures of the final results are shown below. I applied a small quantity of “Before and After Extra Fine” stem polish and rubbed it deep in to the vulcanite stem. This polish, purportedly, is supposed to remove the fine sanding marks left behind by the abrasive grit papers.This is how the pipe appears at this stage. The shank extension completely merges with the stummel and looks out of sync with the overall appearance of the pipe. The shank extension was most likely meant to provide a contrast between the stummel and in the process, add some bling to it. At this stage my colleague again interfered and wanted the natural finish. He is one person who loves natural finish of the briar with the grains being seen. However, I was not ready to compromise this time around. We struck an understanding between us that if the finished pipe is not liked by him, I would get it back to the natural finish. Now with this stalemate sorted out, I contemplated my next step.

I felt that the burnt orange of the shank extension would provide a nice contrast between the shining black vulcanite and a light black stained stummel. I shared this thought with Steve, my mentor, and he concurred with my view. He suggested that I should give the stummel a light black stain wash and thereafter bring it up to a nice high gloss finish. I mixed a small quantity of black stain powder with isopropyl alcohol to a very watery consistency and applied it to the stummel with a cotton swab. I let this stain wash set for a minute and vigorously wiped it down with a clean cotton swab. I repeated this process a couple of times till I was satisfied with coloration of the stummel. Here are the pictures and the end result of this stain wash. I liked it immensely. To complete the restoration, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel, shank extension and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. I buffed the gold colored band/ ring at the shank end and at the stem end of the shank extension with a jeweler’s cloth and bring it to a nice shine. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. Boy, am I happy with the look of this pipe. The burnt orange provides a striking contrast with the darker hues of the stummel and shining black of the highly polished vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is shown below. Cheers!! P.S. The completed pipe actually looks more stunning in person than in pictures. Even my colleague loved the finished pipe and he is all set to enjoy this beauty with his favorite tobacco, Autumn Evening, from 4noggins!! Thank you all for walking with me through this restoration which was a combination of some new processes and experiments.

 

A Ropp La Montagnarde Deposee 298 Horn-Cherrywood-Briar


Blog by Steve Laug

I have been cleaning up a lot of pretty standard pipes lately, whether metal, meerschaum or briar. It has been a while since I took on a unique looking piece that captured my interest. In the current box of pipes my brother sent there are some great one of a kind pipes that I have not seen before so I turned my attention to one of them. The first one that I decided to work on just called out my name. The combination of rustic cherrywood with the bark on, really nicely striated horn and beautifully grained briar just called out to see what I could do with a restoration. I have no idea of the age of the pipe but the horn stem with the orific button speaks of some age. The pipe is stamped on the left side La Montagnarde over Deposee and on the right side it is stamped with Ropp in an oval with the 298 shape number next to it. The brass band on the shank and the small wedding ring brass band on the cherrywood extension give the pipe a touch of class. The next two photos were the seller’s photos. The pipe looked to be in really good condition.Cherry1 Cherry2When the pipe arrived at my brother’s house it was not nearly as clean as it appeared. The finish was spotty and worn. It had been waxed or maybe shellacked to give it a shine. The stem screws into the cherrywood and then the wood end is pressure fit into the shank of the pipe. It was very loose and would not stay in place. My brother cleaned the internals and scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap. It took off the soiled finish and the remnants of the polish. When I got it the pipe was very clean. The brass bands were tarnished and the horn was dull.Cherry3 Cherry4I took some close up photos of the rim and the stamping to have a better look. The top of the rim had a burn mark on the inner edge of the right side. It did not go deep into the surface of the briar so a light topping would remove the damaged area.Cherry5The second close up shows the stamping on the shank. La Montagnarde Deposee is what it reads. La Montagnarde translates from French as “The Mountain” and Deposee translates as “Filed” or “Registered”.Cherry6I topped the bowl with 220 grit sand paper on a topping board. Once the bowl was topped I used a rolled piece of sand paper to sand out the bowl and smooth out the inner edge of the rim.Cherry7 Cherry8The internals were pretty clean. My brother had done a good job scrubbing out the mortise and shank. I used a few cotton swabs and pipe cleaners and alcohol to remove and of the dust left behind by my sanding.Cherry9I stained the bowl with dark brown aniline stain and flamed it. I repeated the process until the bowl was covered.Cherry10I wiped the bowl down with a cotton pad and alcohol to thin the stain and make the grain stand out better.Cherry11I buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond and gave it a light coat of olive oil. I rubbed down the cherrywood bark with oil as well to bring some life to it. In the photo below you can see the way in which the pipe is held together.Cherry12The cherrywood insert has a threaded wooden tenon on the outer side which the horn stem threads onto. The other end is a wooden stinger apparatus that fits into the shank of the pipe and holds the stem in place on the bowl.Cherry12aI polished the brass bands with a tarnish polish to bring back the shine.Cherry13I cleaned out the threads in the end of the stem with cotton swabs and alcohol.Cherry14I sanded the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each set of three pads. What appears to be chips along the end of the stem are not actually chips but striations that run through the rest of the stem.Cherry15 Cherry16 Cherry17I sanded the bowl with 1500-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. As I sanded it the grain really began to pop and some of the scratches in the briar disappeared.Cherry18 Cherry19 Cherry20I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond. I avoided buffing the cherrywood insert as I did not want to risk peeling the bark. The finish began to take on a rich glow. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The first four photos show the pipe as a whole. The rest of the photos show the various pipe parts. Thanks for looking.Cherry21 Cherry22 Cherry23 Cherry24 Cherry25 Cherry26 Cherry27 Cherry28 Cherry29 Cherry30

Ropp Cherrywood Everest Oom Paul Restored


Yet another one of the pipe bowls that came to me in the gift box was a Ropp Cherrywood. It is stamped on the bottom of the bowl on a polished smooth portion, Ropp over Everest over Made in France. The wood was dirty and tired looking but still solid. The bowl was caked but not burned. The rim had a carbon buildup on it but was not burned or scorched. The drilling on the pipe was perfect. At first I thought that only the bowl had been included and I was scheming about the kind of stem to put on this one. But in the bottom of the box I found the original stem. It had a vulcanite 90 degree angle portion attached to the end of a cherrywood branch that fit snug in the hole in the bowl. At the other end of the cherrywood branch/shank was the stem. It bore the Ropp emblem and was badly oxidized. There was some tooth chatter on the stem near the button on the top and the bottom. The tenon on the stem had been coated with a brown wax to ensure a snug fit in the shank.
IMG_7443
I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl and rim with Murphy’s Oil Soap and cotton pads to remove the dirt and grime that had built up on the bark and wood. There were several places where the bark had a pitch build up on the outside that had hardened and was black. I was able to scrub away all of the carbon buildup on the rim and bring it back to the natural colour.
IMG_7419

IMG_7420

IMG_7421
I scrubbed the shank carefully with oil soap on cotton pads so as not to damage the leather wrapping that was on it. There were two cords – one red and one green that were interlaced around the length of the shank. A plastic ring was glued on the shank on both ends to anchor the leather cords. On the bowl end of the shank there were two roundels of leather that acted as tassels.
IMG_7425
I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer. I find that the heads of this reamer fit most of the bowls that I work on. I cleaned out the ash from the bowl and then swabbed the bowl out with cotton swabs and alcohol. I also cleaned the airway on the bowl with cotton swabs.
IMG_7426
The 90 degree angle vulcanite connector between the bowl and shank was oxidized. It was hard to sand with micromesh pads or sanding sticks so I used a fine grit sanding sponge to break up the oxidation and then scrubbed it with Meguiar’s Scratch X2.0 – a plastic polish to remove the oxidation. It took a lot of scrubbing to get through the oxidation. I applied the polish with my finger and when it had dried scrubbed it off with cotton pads. While I worked on the connector I also applied the Scratch X2.0 to the stem and let it sit.
IMG_7427
I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper, medium and fine grit sanding sponges and then with the usual array of micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. I buffed the stem with White Diamond. I left some of the wax buildup on the stem once I found that to remove it made the stem very loose.
IMG_7428

IMG_7431

IMG_7432
I buffed the bowl and stem with White Diamond and then gave it several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a soft flannel buff. I hand waxed the shank with Halcyon II and then a shoe brush. The finished pipe is shown below. I am looking forward to experiencing a smoke in a Ropp Cherrywood Oom Paul.
IMG_7439

IMG_7440

IMG_7441

IMG_7442
The final two photos were taken with my cell phone to show my Ropp Threesome – a Volcano, the Oom Paul and the newest Frankenpipe that I wrote about earlier. They make an interesting subset of my pipe collection and now they occupy shelves in my study. I think in the long run at least the two larger pipes will be primarily display items (though I plan to try them all out at least once).
photo 2

photo 4