Tag Archives: salt and alcohol treatment

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS – How do I “De-ghost” a pipe?

Blog by Steve Laug

Another of the questions that I am frequently asked is about how to remove a tobacco ghost from a pipe. For some folks it is a matter of removing the ghost of Latakia from an estate pipe so they can smoke a favourite Virginia or aromatic without the smoky overtones coming through from the past. For others it is the opposite – how to remove the sweet, candy-like ghost from a past pipe man. However, one I hear about most often involves the left over smells and tastes left behind in a pipe from Lakeland tobaccos. Folks want to remove that ghost of “grandma’s perfume”, the floral scent that stubbornly clings to a pipe even after a thorough cleaning. I thought it was worth devoting an Answers to Questions Blog to addressing some of the different methods that can be used to address the ghost in the pipe.

All of the methods that I will write about assume that the pipe has been thoroughly cleaned before using them. It is easier to work on a pipe that is not filthy with tars, oils and debris than otherwise. I am sure that others may think that this pre-clean is not necessary but I have found that it is not only necessary but also essential to getting the best deep clean possible. I will summarize the way I do this cleanup in the form of a checklist.

___ Remove the stem and clean out the airway in the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. Repeat the process until the pipe cleaners come out clean.

___ Clean out the mortise area in the shank with cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the obvious buildup in that area.  Check the walls of the mortise to see if there is any hardened buildup on the walls. If so, scrape it out with a thin blade – I use a penknife or a dental spatula to scrape the walls. Be careful to not cut into the briar in the walls.

___ Clean out the airway between the end of the mortise and the bowl. You can use pipe cleaners and alcohol to begin this process however; I have found that the airway is often quite constricted with tars and oils. I use the drill bit that comes with the KleenReem pipe tool and twist it into the airway in the mortise carefully until the tip comes out in the bowl.

___ Clean off the drill bit and wrap a pipe cleaner up the grooves of the bit. Dip the bit in alcohol and twist it into the airway once again. It will remove the grime and open the airway. I repeat that until the pipe cleaners come out clean.

___ Finish the process by running pipe cleaners and alcohol into the shank – mortise and airway to remove any remaining debris.

When that process of “pre-cleaning” is complete the pipe is ready for the deep cleaning of “ghost busting” methods I will describe next. I have used the all of the methods for over 20 years now and I have found that they all work far better after a thorough pre-clean as I have described above. I will cover the three methods that I use in the order that I use them. In most cases, one method can bust the ghost from a pipe. However, as usual in this hobby there are exceptions. I have found that there are some very stubborn ghosts that do not leave the pipe until I have used all of the methods.

Pipe Retort System

I have written several blogs on the use of a pipe retort covering how it is used and an instructional sheet included with the retort I purchased on eBay. I am including those links here if you want to read in more detail about the use of a retort system. https://rebornpipes.com/2012/10/17/what-is-a-pipe-retort-and-how-it-is-used/
https://rebornpipes.com/2015/03/02/an-instruction-sheet-for-using-a-pipe-retort/  A short explanation of the system is that it involves boiling alcohol through the pipe and then removing the heat and letting the dirty alcohol exit the pipe back into the attached test tube. I will use a checklist once again to spell out the process.

___ Materials needed are cotton balls, isopropyl alcohol, surgical tubing, a pipet or metal tube, a rubber stopper that will hold the tube, a Pyrex heat resistant test tube and a heat source. The surgical tubing is attached to the pipet/tube and then the tube is put through the stopper. The open end of the surgical tube is fit over the end of the stem.

___ Pour alcohol into the test tube until it is half-full. Put the stopper in the test tube to keep the alcohol in place.

___ Fit the open end of the surgical tube over the button end of the mouthpiece (leave the mouth piece attached to the shank).

___ Gently stuff one or two cotton balls in the bowl of the pipe to keep the alcohol inside when it is heated.

___ Hold the end of the test tube over the heat source and the heat will bring the alcohol to a rolling boil. The stem will warm up as the alcohol moves through it. Hold the tube by the rubber stopper at about a 33-degree angle – enough to encourage the heating alcohol to move through the pipe.

___ The alcohol boil through the pipe for 5 minutes or more then remove the tube from the heat source. As the alcohol cools, it flows back into the test tube bringing the tars, oils and debris with it.

___ Remove the stopper from the test tube and dispose of the dirty alcohol. Refill and repeat the process until the boiled alcohol comes back clean.

___ Remove the retort from the pipe and run clean pipe cleaners through the airways and cotton swabs through the mortise to remove any remaining debris.

Once the pipe has dried out, smell it and see if the ghost remains. Take a couple of draws on the stem to see if there is any remaining flavor from the ghost. If the ghost has been “exorcised” you can do a simple wipe down, buff the bowl and stem with either a buffer or by hand to raise a shine and remove any signs of the retort. I give my pipe a day to dry out then load a bowl and enjoy the first smoke in this refreshed bowl. However, if it still reeks of the ghost’s presence there are several more options that we can use.

Salt and Alcohol/Cotton Ball and Alcohol Treatment

I have written several blogs regarding the use of the salt and alcohol treatment already and have compared it with using cotton balls in place of the kosher salt. Both work equally well in pulling the tars and oils out of the briar bowl and shank. I have moved away from using the kosher salt with the alcohol to cotton balls because it is less of a mess and for me removes some of the threat that others have mentioned regarding the salt splitting the briar. The cotton balls and alcohol are just as effective in removing the tars and oils from the briar as the salt. The concept is simple in that the surface of the cotton or salt provides somewhere for the tars to rest once the alcohol draws them out of the briar. Here are the links to two of the blogs I have written on this treatment previously on rebornpipes. Give them a read if you want more details of either treatment or a comparison of the two.
https://rebornpipes.com/2013/02/10/sweetening-a-pipe-an-alternative-to-the-salt-and-alcohol-treatment/  I will use a checklist once again to spell out the process.

___ Whether you use cotton balls or Kosher salt (coarse grind) the beginning step is the same. Remove the stem from the pipe. Fill the bowl of the pipe with either one leaving some room at the top of the bowl. The idea is to leave enough room that once the bowl is filled with alcohol it does not splash onto the rim top or down the sides and damage the bowl.

___ Insert a twisted piece of paper towel or a pipe cleaner into the shank of the pipe to keep the mixture in the bowl from flowing out the mortise.

___ Use an ice cube tray or a bowl of uncooked rice to hold the pipe upright with the shank elevated enough that the mixture does not wick out of the bowl.

___ Use an ear syringe or some other simple tool to fill the packed bowl with alcohol. I use isopropyl alcohol (99%) because of the low water content of the alcohol and I find that by the time I empty the bowl most if not all of the alcohol has evaporated.

___ Leave the bowl sitting overnight to maximize the draw of the mixture on the oils and tars in the bowl. I find that typically in the morning, after the mix has sat all night, the cotton balls or salt are very dark brown and smell awful.

___ Remove the cotton balls or salt and dispose of them. Dry out the inside of the bowl with paper towels of cotton swabs, run several pipe cleaners through the shank to dry out the briar and remove any debris.

___Let the pipe dry thoroughly before putting the stem on the shank. I usually let it sit for 2-3 days to ensure that it is dry.

Once it has dried out smell the bowl to check if you have eradicated the ghost using this procedure. You may have to repeat the process several times to remove all of the oils and tars from the briar. (Because of the repetition, I find that the cotton balls work better and do not leave any salty residue in the briar of the bowl or shank.) After the pipe has been sitting and it has dried out then load a bowl and enjoy the first smoke in this refreshed bowl. However, if it still reeks of the ghost’s presence there one more trick that we can use.

Activated Charcoal Treatment

(I have yet to have this final method fail.) You might think that you can short cut to this method first and avoid all of the other methods. I do not do that as I find that the majority of ghosts are “exorcised” with the first two methods spelled out above. I leave this final method as my last resort. It is simple but many folks find it a bit intimidating. It was first spelled out in an article by Greg Pease that he originally wrote in for the now out of print Pipe Friendly Magazine (it appeared in Vol. 5 No. 4). He has since added it to his Briar & Leaf Chronicles (GLP Blog). It is a well-written piece that gives the results of his experimenting with the method and the results he achieved. What he has written should allay your fears about trying out his method. Here is the link to the blog: http://www.glpease.com/Articles/Spot.html. I will use a checklist to summarize the process of his method.

___ Heat the oven (electric is what Greg used though I use a gas stove) setting the thermostat to 180°F. (Greg’s experimental tests had shown him that the temperature in an empty oven would vary between about 180°F and a bit over 200°F, which well below the temperature at which the briar would scorch.

___ Remove the stem, place the empty bowl on a towel in the oven, on the upper rack, far away from the source of radiant heat, and let it sit for three hours.

___ Remove the now hot pipe and fill the bowl with the activated charcoal.

___ Place the bowl back in the oven for an additional three hours.

___ After three more hours remove the pipe and empty the charcoal.

___ Smell the bowl and see if there is any trace of ghost.

Allow the pipe to cool overnight before putting the stem on it. I run pipe cleaners through the bowl to remove any of the carbon bits that might be in the shank then load a bowl and enjoy the refreshed bowl. Give Greg’s article a read if you want more detail on this method along with a couple of disclaimers he gives. The method works well.

Those are the three methods I use to de-ghost a pipe. Each of them is used after a thorough cleaning of the pipe to make the method more effective. I would encourage you to give them a try if you want to remove a ghost of past tobaccos from your pipe or even just sweeten a pipe that has grown sour. With that I bring this Answers to Questions blog to a close. I hope that it has given you some insight the methodology for the process of de-ghosting. Thank you for taking time to read this blog. Cheers.

Marxman Jumbo Lovat

Blog by Aaron Henson

Several years ago when I was first getting into our hobby, I stopped into a local antique store looking for practice pipes.  This particular store did not have much and what few they did were dirty, heavily caked and $25 each. The dirt and the heavy cake didn’t bother me but dropping 25 clams on an old briar pipe for practice was not going to happen.

A few weeks ago, one of my jobs happened to take me past this same store. It had been two years since I had been in so I thought it might be time for another look.  After my last visit I wasn’t expecting much.  When I asked the gentleman behind the counter about pipes he directed me to the same old display case at the back of the store.  The same pipes were on display but this time the price tag had been changed.  Clearly the pipes had been in inventory too long and he wanted to move them because now they were two for $10.   Not one to pass on a deal this good, I selected four large bowl pipes including the Marxman below (shown second from the top) as well as a large caliber Emperor and an unmarked Custombilt look-alike. L1The Marxman is a truly large pipe (and not the largest of the three) with a bowl diameter of 1 1/2”, chamber diameter of 1” and a depth of 1 5/8”.  The shank is a whopping 7/8” in diameter and the bit is that same width. The following page from a 1946 ad for Marxman calls the large size a “Jumbo” but I do not have any way of telling what letter size it might be.L2For background, Marxman only made pipes from 1934 until 1953 before being bought out by Mastercraft.  But Bob Marx’s short run made an impact on Hollywood and on US pipe makers in general. Pipedia has a short article on Marxman.L3Taking the pipe to the work bench I started by cataloging the things that needed to be done.  The bowl had a thick cake built up. So much so that I had to start with the smallest head on my Castleford reamer (and the largest head was too small to be effective to finish reaming the bowl).  The rim had a significant buildup of tars and a couple burn marks.  The outside of the stummel was grimy and had some dents but nothing too devastating.  On the bottom of the bowl there were two dark burn marks.  They were located on the bottom side of the shank which made me think they were not burn-outs but with the bowl cake so thick I could not be sure.  When I removed the stem, I could see that the end of the tenon, the stinger and the inside of the shank were all coated with a heavy tar.  This was going to be an arduous cleaning job. L4 L5For as much build up as there was in the stummel there was little in the way of tooth chatter or marks on the stem.  One small tooth dent on the top side of the stem was all. The button was quite small but the slot was nicely formed. Aside from some oxidation, all in all the stem was in great shape.

I set the stem to soak in an Oxiclean bath to loosen the oxidation and the tar build up in the air way and turned my attention to the stummel. First I reamed the cake out of the bowl. I could not believe just how much there was!  I took it back to clean briar to make sure there was no burn through. After the largest reaming head, I still needed to finished off the chamber with 80 grit sand paper wrapped around a dowel. There was a slight loss of briar about half way down the bowl but no burn through. If I had to guess, the previous owner may have been in the habit of half loading the pipe early in its life.

I shaped a soft wood stir stick into a narrow spatula shape and used it to clean out the caked gunk in the shank. I also need a short piece of wire coat hanger to open the air way. I finished scrubbing the internals of the shank with bristled pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol and cotton swabs until they came out clean.

Now that the insides were clean I turned to the outside of the pipe.  The rim was heavily coated with crusted tar/lava.  I had hoped to clean up the rim without needing to top the bowl but that was not the case. There were some burn marks in the rim under the tar build up that were best removed at the topping board. When topping a bowl, I use 100 grit paper on a smooth flat surface and work the bowl in a circular motion. I have recently started rotating the bowl a quarter turn every 10 passes. This helps me keep the topped bowl level by ensuring I don’t put too much pressure on one side of the bowl all the time.L6I started cleaning the outside of the pipe by wiping down the briar with acetone. This removed the wax and grime build up. I had hoped that the burn marks on the bottom of the shank were superficial and would be removed with a light sanding but I was mistaken.  I am not sure what happens to the pipe but it appeared to have been exposed to a significant heat source because the burns were deep. The wood was not damaged, that is to say there was no charring.  After a significant amount of sanding with 220 grit I had removed as much of the burn as possible without significantly impacting the shape of the pipe. I was careful to sand the entire area around the burn to blend, or feather, the repair.  Even so, it did not completely remove all of the burn mark.L7Next I steamed out dents by wrapping the bowl with a wet terrycloth rag and applying a clothes iron. The important thing here is to keep your fingers away from the steam and the iron away from any stamping.

I finished the bowl by sanding the outside with 1500 – 3200 micro mesh pads. I also took the liberty of beveling the inside of the rim which I thought gave the large bowl some visual character.L8Even though I sanded the chamber back I could still smell some ghosts of the old tobacco so thought I would give the pipe a salt and alcohol soak. I let sit for 24 hours but there was still a residual odor.  Before I was done with the restoration, I had to run three tubes of grain alcohol in a retort through the pipe before the pipe was truly clean (sorry no pictures). L9

The original finish was very light colored, almost a natural. To hide the remnants of the burn I decided to go with a light brown stain and contract the worm grooves with a slightly darker stain to make them stand out.  This would also help hide the burn.L10The stem was an easy clean for a saddle bit. The Oxiclean bath had loosened the crud in the airway and a few passes with bristled than soft pipe cleaners took care of the internals. The outside I sanded with 1500 grit micro mesh then added a small drop of black super glue to the one small tooth mark and a another dent that I didn’t want to sand out. I had tried to raise both with heat first but with little success hence the super glue.  Continued sanding with micro mesh pads up through 12,000 grit. I kept the pipe assembled during this process in order to keep the shank-stem connection flush.L11

With sanding and polishing complete I coated the entire pipe in mineral oil and let sit overnight. The mineral oil seems to help hydrate the briar and vulcanite of the stem.L12After 12 hours I wiped off any remaining oil and took the pipe to the buffer.  I went over the whole pipe with red diamond then applied multiple coats of carnauba wax.  As a finishing touch I decided to apply a bowl coating to the chamber.  I wiped the inside with maple syrup then add a table spoon of charcoal powder.  Placing the heel of my palm over the rim I shake the pipe until the charcoal evenly coats the inside.  I let the pipe dry for a week before dumping out the excess charcoal.

Now it’s time to “Relax with a Marxman”.  Thank you for taking the time to look.L13 L14 L15


Rejuvenating a Caminetto Business Long Shank Stack

Blog by Steve Laug

I just finished working on a long shank Caminetto Stack. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Caminetto Business. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Ascorti over Radice over Cucciago over Cantu Italy. Next to it is a shield. The finish is a rustication that looks very much like the older Castello Sea Rock finish. The bowl needed a thorough reaming to clean out the remnants of the old cake. The internals of the shank will also need a thorough cleaning. The pipe has a strong English smelling ghost that would need to be exorcised by a retort treatment. If that did not kill it then it would need to be given a cotton ball and alcohol treatment to further remove the ghost. The inner and out rim edges look really good. There is a build up tars and oils in the rustication on the top of the rim that will need to be scrubbed out. The deep rustication is also harbouring a lot of dust in the crevices that will also need to be scrubbed as well. Cam1



Cam4 The stem needs some work. It is loose in the shank and I will need to see what the fit is like once the shank is cleaned. There is a deep tooth mark on the underside of the stem next to the button. It is not quite broken through the surface of the stem but it is deep. There are also marks on the topside of the stem in the same place though nowhere near as deep. The stem was almost clogged and will need to be cleared. The slot is tight and hard to get a pipe cleaner through easily. It will need to be opened to make cleaning the pipe a simpler procedure. Between the semi-clogged stem and the tight slot the draw is constricted. Once the repairs are made to the stem it will need to be polished.Cam5

Cam6 I took a close-up photo of the rim for you to see clearly the build up on the rim. There were tars and oils deep in the grooves of the rustication on the surface of the rim. There was also a thin cake on the walls of the bowl that would need to be removed to address the heavy Latakia smell that was in the pipe.Cam7 I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer using the smallest cutting head and working up to the third head that was the same diameter as the bowl. I then scraped the inside lightly with a sharp pen knife.Cam8

Cam9 I scrubbed the inside of the shank with pipe cleaners and cotton swabs and isopropyl 99% alcohol before setting up a retort to boil alcohol through the inside of the pipe. I stuffed a cotton ball in the top of the bowl and then fit the rubber end of the test tube stopper over the stem. I place the bowl in a pipe rest and held the test tube over a candle. As the alcohol heated and boiled in the test tube it circulated into the bowl and when removed from the flame the alcohol would carry the tars and oils back to the test tube. I continued to boil the alcohol and remove it from the flame until the alcohol turned amber from the inside of the pipe.Cam10



Cam13 I changed the alcohol and boiled it through the pipe again. This second time the alcohol came out clean. I kept it boiling through for about 15 minutes and then removed it from the flame. The photo below shows the relatively clean alcohol after this retort.Cam14 Once I had removed the retort I cleaned out the bowl and the shank with isopropyl alcohol on cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. This time they came out relatively clean.Cam15 The problem was that the pipe still smelled strongly of Latakia. The ghost was stubborn and persistent. I decided to use a cotton ball and alcohol soak to see if I could draw out some more of the oils and smell. I stuff two cotton balls into the bowl and plugged the shank. I used an ear syringe to fill the bowl with alcohol and tipped it back and forth to run the alcohol through the shank. I unplugged the shank and set the bowl in an old ice cube tray over night to draw out the oils. The next three photos were taken over a 12 hour period and show what happened with the soak.Cam16


Cam18 When I removed the cotton balls and let the pipe dry out the ghost still persisted. I cleaned out the bowl and shank again, then put some white vinegar and cotton in the bowl and shank and let it sit for 3 hours. I cleaned out the shank and the ghost still remained. I was beating it but it was still present. I then filled the bowl with Kosher rock salt and then used an ear syringe to fill it with alcohol. I set it aside in the ice cube tray to let the salt do its magic.Cam19


Cam21 Once I removed the salt and alcohol and cleaned out the shank and bowl a final time the ghost is pretty well exorcised. There is a faint tobacco smell but the overpowering smell is gone.

I scrubbed the top of the rim with a brass bristle tire brush and then rescrubbed it with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap. I scrubbed it hard enough to remove the dust and grime from the crevices of the rusticated finish.Cam22

Cam23 I rinsed the bowl under running water to remove the soap from the finish, being careful to not get any water in the bowl. I dried it off with a cotton cloth. The photos below show the cleaned bowl. The finish was dull and had lightened slightly.Cam24


Cam26 I used a wash of brown aniline stain mixed 4 parts alcohol and one part stain to restain the bowl and shank. The next four photos show the pipe after it had been restained and buffed with Blue Diamond. I buffed it with a light touch and then rebuffed it with a shoe brush.Cam27



Cam30 With the bowl finished it was time to work on the stem. I decided to start with the narrow slot and airway on the end of the stem. I used three different needle files to open it up. I started with a flat file to widen the gap on the top and the bottom edge of the slot. I needed it open enough that I could use a flat oval file to smooth out the slot and open both the top, bottom and sides of the slot. I finished with a round file to taper the edges of the slot at an angle to the airway in the stem. While this was done to a slight degree I increased the angle and also opened up the end of the airway. I used the round file to also enter from the tenon end of the stem and smooth out what appeared to be rough transitions from the airway to the slot. I finished by sanding the inside of the slot with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper and then finishing with a bristle pipe cleaner and a little scrubbing powder.Cam31



Cam34 I still needed to clean up the end of the stem when I worked on the stem surface itself but the basic shape was finished and the slot was wide enough to easily handle a pipe cleaner. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and also with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge to remove the tooth chatter on the top side of the stem and to clean up around the deep tooth mark on the surface of the stem. I picked out the debris from the tooth mark and then filled it with black super glue. I set the stem aside overnight to let the glue repair cure.Cam35

Cam36 The next morning I sanded the repaired area with 220 grit sandpaper and then the sanding sponges to remove the excess patch and to blend it into the surface of the stem.Cam37 Once the repair was smoothed out it was time to sand the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. Once it had dried I gave it a quick buff with White Diamond.Cam38 The tooth chatter was gone on the top of the stem and the repair on the underside blended in quite well. At this stage in the sanding it still showed but would begin to disappear into the stem with further sanding with micromesh. I dry sanded the stem with 3200-4000 grit pads and then rubbed it down again with Obsidian Oil. The first photo below shows the topside of the stem. The tooth chatter is gone. The second shows the underside of the stem. The tooth mark is repaired and the repair no longer shows. The next three grits of micromesh will make the patch disappear in the shine of the stem.Cam39

Cam40 I dry sanded with 6000-12,000 grit pads and then gave it a final buff with Blue Diamond. I rubbed in a final coat of Obsidian Oil and let it dry.Cam41

Cam42 The next two photos show the finished stem. The repair is blended into the vulcanite and it is polished and clean.Cam43

Cam44 I gave the pipe a light buff with Blue Diamond Plastic polish and then gave the stem several coats of carnauba wax. I lightly buffed the bowl with carnauba and then buffed the entire pipe with a clean flannel buff to raise the shine. Here is the finished pipe. Thanks for looking.Cam45





Sasieni “Viscount Lascelles” XS Restoration

Blog by Al Jones

I picked up this Sasieni Four Dot Natural at the NYC show yesterday. It looked to be in very good condition, requiring only a mild clean-up. I knew from the “Four Dot” “London Made” stamping that it was made between 1946 and 1979. The pipe has the football shaped “Made In London” stamp on the other side and “XS”. Curiously, it was missing the name of a London town. At home, I could see some additional stamping and with a magnifying glass, I could read “Viscount Lascelles”. I googled that name and discovered that according to the Stephen Smith article, the Viscount Lascelles was the model name and a rare model.


The bowl had some build-up on the top which I thought might be some scorching. The stem had the faintest of teeth marks and was in overall excellent shape and only lightly oxidized.


Sasieni_Four_Dot_XS_Before (1)

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Sasieni_Four_Dot_XS_Before (2)

I reamed the cake from the bowl and I could see despite the thick cake, the bowl was in very good condition. Most of the build-up on the bowl top rubbed off with some distilled water and a soft cloth. I soaked the bowl with some 91 proof alcohol and sea salt. The shank was cleaned with a bristle brush and alcohol.

Sasieni_Four_Dot_XS_Before (7)

The bowl didn’t need much else and was buffed lightly with White Diamond and then carnuba wax. I stayed away from the nomenclature to preserve it.

The stem was sanded with 1500 and 2000 grit paper, then 8000 and 12,000 grade micromesh sheets. I buffed it lightly with white diamond and then a plastic polish.

I hand waxed the briar with some Paragon wax.

Here is the finished pipe.


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Sasieni_Four_Dot_XS_Finished (1)

1938 Parker Bulldog Restored

Blog by Al Jones

One of my pipe buddies, Dave, sent me this 1938 Parker bulldog to restore. I had not yet worked on a Parker yet, but know they have a loyal following of collectors. Dave always seems to chose interesting pipes to send me and this one was no exception.

Dave had determined the pipe was made in 1938 but after looking over the Parker page in Pipepedia, I wasn’t sure. This pipe was stamped “Parker” and not the possesive “Parker’s”. Pipepedia says this about the stamping:

Prior to World War II, the possessive PARKER’S stamp was used. However, at least some pipes were stamped with the non-possessive as early as 1936.

I confirmed with a Parker collector that the singular “Parker” was indeed used before WWII. The pipe is stamped 15, which is added to 1925 (starting with 2), so the date of manufacture is indeed 1938.

The briar was a bit worn but some heavy tar build-up on the bowl top. The stem had some curious striations and the button looked odd.

Parker_109_Restore (3)


Parker_109_Restore (2)

I reamed the bowl and filled it with isopropyl alcohol and sea salt. After soaking for several hours, I cleaned the build-up off the bowl top, which was quite stubborn. Some of the stain on the bowl edge was lightened in this process, but the bowl top was relative undamaged by use. I used some Medium Brown stain to darken the lightened areas and it blended in quite well. I applied some carnuba wax with a loose cotton wheel, then a coat of Halycon wax by hand.

When working on the stem, I discovered someone had “colored” it black with a permanent marker or similar. Thankfully, they worked around the “P” stem logo. I used 600 and then 800 grit paper to remove the black and some of the rough marks and scrapes on the stem. The button looks very odd and has been carved a little. Perhaps it was damaged and someone cut out the damaged areas? Or, are older Parker buttons shaped this way? Surprisingly, I did not find much Parker information on the web. The pipe also appears to be drilled for a filter or possibly a Dunhill-like innertube? The stem has a Patent Number stamped on it: 116989/17

Parker_109_Restore (5)

A member on the PipesMagazine.com forum, MisterLowerCase, posted this picture of a Parker innertube, which matches the Patent Number.



After the wet sandpaper, I used 8,000 and then 12,000 grit paper to bring up the shine. The stem was then buffed lightly with white diamond.

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Dorset “Genuine Briar” Rhodesian

By Al Jones (aka “Upshallfan”)

I found this unknown to me pipe on Ebay. It looked to be in decent condition and it is a shape that I love (tapered stem Rhodesian). The pipe had a dark red finish, with a few fills but they were covered up nicely. The stem fitment was excellent and also in overall very good condition. I was hoping that this would be a relatively easy restoration.

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I reamed the light cake from the bowl and soaked it for several hours with isopropyl alcohol and sea salt. The bowl only required a light buff with white diamond to bring back the shine, after which I applied several coats of carnuba wax. The bowl had some scuff marks but they came out nicely. The beading around the bowl was in excellent condition.

The stem was badly oxidized, but in great shape. I soaked it in a mild oxyclean solution, then used first 800 then 1500 and 2000 grit wet sandpaper to remove the oxidation. After which I sanded it with 8000 and 12000 grade micromesh paper. The stem was inserted back onto the bowl for work around the shank end and I was careful not to damage the “D” stem stamp. I then buffed the stem with white diamond and red rouge, followed by a buff using automotive plastic polish. The stem came back quite nicely. Here is the stem before moving to the buffing wheel.

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Overall, I was very pleased with the finish of the pipe. It was delivered to the new owner this weekend, and they were also pleased with the appearance and how it smoked.

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’63 Dunhill 552 Restoration

Blog by Al Jones

I found this 1963 Dunhill shape 552 on Ebay last week. The auction ended early in the week at an odd time and it went largely unnoticed. It looked to be in pretty decent shape, but with some bite marks on the bottom of the stem. It is a Group 4 pipe in Bruyere finish (A = Bruyere) At first, I thought it was a Rhodesian, then later thought it looked more like a tomato. Neill Archer Roan commented that it had some Diplomat DNA.

The pipe was delivered today. It was pretty much as pictured, but I also discovered it is a 6 mm filter pipe. The briar was in great shape, with a little tar and rim darkening. There were no dings or bruises to deal with. The stem was also in decent shape and only lightly oxidized. There were a few light teeth marks on both sides of the stem, and all but one lifted out with some heat from a lighter flame.

Dunhill_522_Before (1)

Dunhill_522_Before (3)


dunhill_rhodesian-5dunhill_rhodesian-4Dunhill_522_Before (2)

The bowl had a fairly thick cake and I reamed it with my Castleford bit set. The bowl was then soaked with Everclear and sea salt.

I polished the stem with some 800 grit wet paper, followed by 1500 and 2000 grade. Then I moved to the micromesh, 8000 and 12000 grades were used. I gave the stem a light buff (mounted to the briar) with some White Diamond. I have a bar of jewelers “Red” rouge on order and I’m curious to see how it compares to the White Diamond for finish work. The stem has some odd marks in the vulcanite, almost like an imperfection. I could not remove them by sanding or buffing.

I polished briar lightly with some 8000 grade micromesh, keeping away from the weak nomenclature. I then buffed the bowl, again lightly with White diamond and then several coats of carnuba wax.

After searching online for several days, I couldn’t find out much about this shape. I found only one other shape 552, a shell finish pipe sold at an Ebay auction in 2007. The 552 is also not on any Dunhill shape chart (Loring, etc.). On the SmokersForums.uk in the “Streets of London” social group, one member there, dmcmtk (Dave) said he has a shape 556 from 1963. He had heard Dunhill was experimenting with shape variations at this time and perhaps my 552 was part of that experimentation. I have emails out to several Dunhill collectors, but haven’t yet received a reply. If you know anything about this shape number, please comment.

Here’s the finished pipe.


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Charatan’s Make 109 Rhodesian Restoration

Blog by Al Jones

I have been a fan of the Charatan Shape 109, but rarely see them become available. This one was recently posted on Ebay. It is a Lane era pipe, with the L stamp, but it has a tapered stem versus the more common Double Comfort. I think the Double Comfort stem on Chartan Bulldog or Rhodesian stems look a little ungainly, so this one was very appealing. The pipes small size was a definite appeal. It is similar to a Group 4 Dunhill or XX Ashton. The pipe weighs approximately 45 grams, which is my right in my sweet spot.

The Ebay pictures for the pipe weren’t very detailed and there were some pretty deep teeth marks on the bottom of the stem. The pips is stamped:
Charatan’s Make
London England
109 and the L stamp

I’ve learned that Charatan pipes stamped in this manner were known as having the “Rough” grade. From a somewhat controversial web article by Ivy Ryan, I’ve learned that:
“Sandblasted pipes stamped Charatan’s Make over London England and a number are one version of the famous “Rough” grade. These were apprentice pipes that didn’t come out well
enough to be graded but were still eminently smokable. To save the wood and give the
less-well-off a quality smoke, Charatan would first hand rusticate the pipe gently, then sandblast
it. (Due to Dunhill’s patent, they couldn’t simply blast the pipe, and the rustication made for a very
different blast.)”

The “L” in circle stamp denotes a pipe imported into USA by Lane Ltd between 1955 and 1988. If anyone has information to narrow down that range, please chime in.

Here is the pipe as it was delivered. The nomenclature on the stem was in decent shape but it had some heavy tooth waves on top and heavy indention’s underneath.


Charatan_109_Before (1)

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Once again, I employed the Stew-Mac black superglue to repair the teeth marks on the bottom of stem. The first photo shows the application of the superglue and the second shows it sanded smooth with 800 grit sandpaper.


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I reamed the bowl and soaked it with alcohol and sea salt. There was some tar build up on the bowl top, but that was removed with a very mild oxy-clean solution and a cloth.

I removed the oxidation on the stem with 800 grit wet sandpaper, then progressed thru the 1500 and 2000 grade paper. Most of the waves came off the top of the stem and the marks underneath blended in nicely with the superglue. The button was in good shape. I stayed away from the CP stem logo. The stem was then buffed lightly with white diamond rouge.

I finished the bowl with some Halycon wax, worked into the bowl with an old toothbrush polished by hand

Here is the finished pipe.

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GBD Oval-Shank Pot “Seventy-Six” Restoration

In 1976 GBD introduced a series called the “Seventy-Six” to commemorate the United States Bicentennial.  I was in Sophomore in high school during 1976 and the year-long celebration had a big impact on me.  The Seventy-Six model remained in the GBD catalog until 1981.  From the 1976 Catalog:

“The GBD “Seventy-Six” is our contribution to the Bicentennial celebrations.  We have really pushed out the boats for “the colonies” in launching this new series that will be remembered by its proud owner long after the celebrations are forgotten.”

My first “Seventy-Six” model was a 1976 Coloussus and I’ve since added three more, including this Shape 1353.  I would call this a banker, but in a Smokers Haven sales ad, it is referred to as a “bent oval-shank pot”.

The pipe was in decent shape, with a moderate coating tars on the bowl top, along with a few nicks and dents.  The stem, while heavily oxidized still had the brass rondell.  The rondell along with the “London, England” stamp indicated a pre-Cadogan era GBD.  The stem was also free of any serious teeth marks.  Several of the nicks were very noticeable and I wasn’t sure they could be removed or hidden easily.

GBD_1353_76_Before GBD_1353_76_Before (1) GBD_1353_76_Before (2) GBD_1353_76_Before (3)

I reamed the bowl and soaked it for six hours with some Everclear and sea salt.  Prior to soaking, I buffed the pipe lightly with some Tripoli and White diamond followed by a buff with carnuba wax.  I like to leave the wax on the pipe during the soaking process in the event some alcohol is splashed on the briar bowl top and I believe the wax gives it some protection from lifting the stain.  While the bowl was soaking, the stem was also soaked in a mild solution of Oxy-clean.  I put a dab of grease on the brass rondell.  The oxidation was so heavy, part of the rondell was obscured and at first I thought it was just worn heavily.   That turned out not to be the case.

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After the bowl was soaked, I emptied the salt and alcohol solution.   I heated a kitchen knife with a torch and applied that to the dents with a wet towel.  The steam generated allows the dents to pop back out most of the time.  In this case, the dents did spring back to shape and I was able to reduce the depth of some of the nicks.  Next I buffed the briar bowl again, using separate wheels of Tripoli, White Diamond and several coats of carnuba wax.  I was able to diminish all of the nicks, in particular the one on the right side of the oval stem.

Next I went to work on the stem, which I re-attached to the bowl in order not to round off the crisp edge.  I removed the oxidation with 1500 grade wet paper (dipped in my oxy-clean solution) followed by 2000 grade paper.  Next I moved to the Micromesh sheets, using 8000 and finally 12000 grade paper.  I then buffed the stem with white diamond and Blue Magic brand plastic polish.

A wire bristle brush dipped in Everclear was used to clean the shank.  It took approximately 25 swabs with the bristle cleaner until the brush came out clean.    I’ll let the briar dry out for a few days before smoking the pipe.   Below are some pictures of the finished pipe.

GBD_1353_Gallery2 GBD_1353_Finished (1) GBD_1353_Finished2 (3) GBD_1353_Finished (3) GBD_1353_Finished (5) GBD_1353_Finished (4)

Reworking a Mastercraft Custom Deluxe Billiard and Removing Mold

Blog by Steve Laug

This old Mastercraft billiard is the second pipe of the threesome that was sent to me last week as a gift. In his email asking if I wanted them he said they were either going to the rubbish bin or to me so I was not surprised when I opened the box and unpacked them. It had some nice looking grain underneath all of the grime and peeling varnish. But this one was in very rough shape. The stem was chewed in half so there was not enough to save. The inner tube apparatus inserted into the stem looked like it had been destroyed and then somebody bent it close to shape and cut a X cut in the end of the tenon so that it would fit into the stem. The shank was grimy and dark with a white mold residing inside both the bowl and the shank. The pipe reeked of mold. The bowl itself had a heavy but broken cake underneath the mold. It had a coat of varnish that was spotty and peeling where it was worn off the briar. In those worn spots the briar was almost black. The rim was also in very bad shape. The front was burned down from repeatedly lighting the pipe in the same spot with a torch. The back side of the rim looked like it had been scraped on concrete or hammered out on concrete because it was worn and broken down. The three photos below (I apologize for the poor quality – still getting used to this new camera!) show the state of the bowl and stem.




I sorted through my stems and found two options that I thought might work on the pipe. The first one was an acrylic saddle stem that I thought might look good with the bowl (pictured in the first photo below). I turned the tenon and fit it to the pipe but did not like the proportion of the stem and shank length. I then took the second stem – a shorter, straight tapered stem and fit it to the pipe (pictured in the second – fourth photo below). It looked like it belonged on the pipe so my choice was made. It was an old previously used vulcanite stem from my collection of old pre-used stems that I collect. This one would take some work as it was oxidized and had a calcified buildup around the button area. It was also clogged and the slot was plugged to a small pin hole. But it had the right look so it would be worth cleaning up.





I set the stem aside and worked on the bowl. I reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer to get rid of the cake and the mold. I cleaned the reamer with alcohol before putting it away. I cleaned the bowl and the shank with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and Everclear to remove as much of the tars and oils and moldy smell as possible.




When I finished it still smelled moldy, but I had several plans in mind for addressing that. But first I topped the bowl with my usual flat board and 220 grit sandpaper. I place the bowl rim down flat against the sandpaper and work in it a circle to remove the damage on the rim. This one took quite a bit of work to even out the top and get rid of the damage from the burn on the front side of the rim and the roughened back edge done by beating the pipe against concrete. I sanded it, repeatedly checking to see if I was removing enough of the damage to get a sharp edge on the bowl. On the outer rim next to the shank there was a chunk of briar missing that I would try to minimize after topping the bowl. I was able to remove all of the damage of the burned area and most of the damage of the battering the old pipe had taken. The rim looked good. I used a folded piece of sand paper to work on the inside edge of the rim and clean up the damage that was done there and keep the bowl in round.







I wiped the exterior of the bowl down with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the grime and the finish that remained. I repeated this until I could not remove any more finish or grime. The next two photos show the wipe downed bowl.



I placed the bowl in an alcohol bath for several hours while I worked on the stem and worked on several other old pipes that I have on the go. When I took it out of the bath, I dried it off with a cotton cloth and scrubbed it with a tooth-brush dipped in alcohol from the bath. I dried it again to check on the finish. There were still several spots where the varnish remained – the shank and the bottom of the bowl. One benefit of the bath was that the glue softened on the over pressed band and I was able to remove it from the shank. I sanded and scrubbed the old glue off the shank and sanded the bowl with a fine grit sanding sponge. I wiped it down with another acetone cotton pad. It still needed to soak a bit longer to finish breaking down the varnish that remained. While it soaked I cleaned up the silver band with silver polish and the jeweler’s polishing cloth. Under all the tarnish I found that the band was stamped Sterling.
I removed the bowl from the alcohol soak and dried it off. I used a lighter to burn off the alcohol from inside the bowl and the shank. I then recleaned the inside of the bowl and the shank with Everclear and many more pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. The amount of tars and sticky oils and grit that came out of the shank was incredible. It was no wonder that the pipe still reeked like mold. The next series of three photos show the pipe after soaking and sanding.




I scoured the shank until it was fairly clean and then set up a retort to do a more thorough clean. The retort sends vaporized alcohol into the bowl and shank and in essence boils out the grime with hot alcohol. As the alcohol cools it returns to the tube and with it the grime and oils from the pipe. I repeated the retort three times on the pipe until the alcohol came out clean. I then took apart the pipe and cleaned out the shank with pipe cleaners and cotton swabs a third time. There was even more oil and grime that came out of the shank. I cleaned off the surface with an acetone wipe and then reset the silver band with Weldbond glue. I turned it so that the Sterling stamp was on the top of the shank and pressed it on to the shank until it was even with the edge of the shank. Weldbond dries fairly quickly to touch so that the band would not be loosened when I went on to the next step in my cleaning process.




After removing the retort I cleaned the bowl and shank. Yet even more grime came out. I put the stem back on and took the four photos below to show the state of the pipe at this point. I did this more for an encouragement to me as this one was proving a difficult rework. The photos gave me a picture of what I was aiming for in cleaning this one up. If I lose sight of that it will end up in the bin as rubbish.





When the alcohol dried in the bowl and the visual showed a clean bowl and shank I took a sniff of the bowl. After all of this work the moldy smell still was present in the bowl and shank. This called for more drastic measures. I used the Dremel with a sanding drum on it and sanded the inside of the bowl until the briar was bare and clean. Then I filled the bowl with salt and alcohol to leach out the oil from the inside of the bowl and shank. My hope was that in doing this I would also kill the stench. I plugged the shank with a cork, filled the bowl with kosher rock salt (I was out of my normal cotton bolls) and set it up on an old ice-cube tray. I used an ear syringe to fill the bowl with 99% isopropyl alcohol. I set it aside and went to bed to let the treatment do its work while I was sleeping. The two photos below show the bowl after filling with alcohol.



In the morning the salt was a dark brown as pictured below. I emptied the now darkened salt and dried out the inside of the bowl by flaming the alcohol with my lighter. It still smelled like mold though the smell was definitely losing strength.


I cleaned out the button area of the stem with the dental pick and then ran several bristle pipe cleaners through it and then followed up with regular pipe cleaners. I soak both in Everclear to clean out the stem. I then sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the calcification that was all over the stem. I also gave the stem a quick sand all over with the 220 grit to remove the top oxidation. I ran the flame from the Bic lighter over the surface to burn off the oxidation. It did a great job of removing what I had loosened with the sandpaper. I continued sanding it with a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the remaining oxidation. I rubbed down with Obsidian Oil and set it aside with the bowl while I went off to work. The Obsidian Oil sat on the stem and soaked in for the 9 hours I was at work.





I refilled the bowl with salt and put a cork in the shank. I again used the ear syringe to fill the bowl with alcohol and set it aside to work on the stem. It too sat for the nine hours I was at work.


When I got home from work the stem looked quite good. It was significantly more black and the oxidation was gone except around the stem shank union. More work to do there. The salt was a dark brown, but slightly lighter than the first treatment. I dumped out the salt and cleaned out the bowl and shank with cotton swabs again. When I finished the smell was better but present nonetheless. I cleaned out the bowl with alcohol and cotton swabs again.


I needed another bit of encouragement at this point so I decided to stain the pipe with a dark brown aniline stain cut 2:1 with isopropyl alcohol. I applied the stain, flamed it and then buffed it on with Tripoli and White Diamond (photos 1-4 below). The brown did a fair job of coverage but I would need to give it a second coat of stain using a oxblood colour to do some blending with the dark areas on the bowl.





I worked on the stem with fine grit sanding sponges and 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. There were some minor tooth dents that still showed up so I passed over them with a Bic lighter and was able to raise them. More sanding was needed and I repeated the sanding described above.





Once the bowl dried out it still smelled so I decided to repeat the salt and alcohol treatment a third time. I filled the bowl with salt and isopropyl and set it aside over night (photo 1 below). In the morning the salt was little lighter brown this time (photos 2-3 below). I dumped the salt out and cleaned the bowl and shank again. This time the cotton swabs came out fairly clean. I flamed the inside of the bowl. Once the bowl dried out it still smelled so I decided to repeat the salt and alcohol treatment again. I filled the bowl with salt and isopropyl and set it aside over night. In the morning the salt was once again a dark brown. I dumped the salt out and cleaned the bowl and shank again. This time the cotton swabs came out fairly clean. I flamed the inside of the bowl. Though the inside of the bowl and the shank was very clean the musty smell still remained, though less prevalent. This was one stubborn pipe bowl to clean.




While the inside of the bowl dried out I decided to restain the bowl. For the second/top coat I used a oxblood stain. I applied it and wiped it off (first photo below). The coverage this time was much better. The dark reddish stain blended well and covered the dark areas of the bowl. The finished colour is a nice older deep reddish brown look (second-fourth photos below).





I decided to sand back the inside of the bowl yet again. I used the Dremel with the sanding drum a second time. When I was finished the inside of the bowl was very clean and fresh looking. The smell was still there. I stuffed the bowl with cotton bolls and then used an ear syringe to fill it with white vinegar and set it in the ice-cube tray to let it work. I have used that in the past to remove stubborn ghosts so I thought I would give it a try on this one.


While the bowl soaked I worked on the stem with the remaining grits of micromesh sanding pads – 3200-12,000 to bring back the deep shine on the stem. Sanding them with the higher grits of micromesh really gives a deep shine to the stem. It is amazing to see the difference between each of the successive grits of micromesh. I did not take photos of the steps as almost all of my refurbishing posts have shown the polishing process with the micromesh. The next two photos show the finished stem. Once the bowl is finished I will buff the bowl and stem with White Diamond and then give the whole a buff with multiple coats of carnauba wax to polish.



Once the vinegar had soaked in the bowl for several hours I removed the cotton boll and dried out the bowl. I then used a Dremel with a sanding drum to sand back the sides of the bowl yet again. This time I extended the diameter of the bowl to get rid of the surface area of the bowl interior. Once I was finished with the Dremel I hand sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the small ridges left behind by the drum sanding. The last two photos in this sequence show the newly sanded bowl.





I took the bowl outside and put it in the bright sun on my patio. I wanted to let the heat and the UV rays from the sun do more work on the potential mold in the bowl. The evening is cooling down and the sun is no longer as warm. I brought in the bowl and wiped down the inside of the bowl and shank with an alcohol based anti bacterial wipe. I took it to the buffer and gave the whole pipe a buff with White Diamond. I then gave it several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean flannel buff. The pipe is like new and it SMELLS GREAT. I finally beat the moldy smell. The final four photos show the finished pipe.