Tag Archives: sanding a stem

Bringing an older 1890s Era Spiral Shank Horn Stem Billiard back to Life.


Blog by Steve Laug

My brother Jeff visited an antique mall in Montana on one of his recent trips and found a lot of older pipes from the 1890s era. There were CPF, WDC and other older brand pipes with amber and horn stems. I wrote about how we used Apple Facetime so that I could be present on the hunt. It was an amazing time “in the shop” for me. The link to the blog on this hunt follows: https://rebornpipes.com/2017/04/26/a-virtual-pipe-hunt-a-new-way-to-experience-the-joy-of-a-pipe-hunt/. The first pipe that I chose to work on from the hunt was the one picture below. My brother took the following pictures of the pipe before he cleaned it up to send to me for finishing. It is a unique and interesting old pipe. The spiral shank continues through the horn stem. The finish on the bowl was worn and tired but the spiral shank and stem were undamaged. There was one deep “worm hole” in the left side of the stem in the bottom of a spiral that would need to be repaired but otherwise it was in pretty decent shape.The photos show the overall condition and look of the pipe. Whoever carved it remains a mystery as there is no stamping on the shank or bottom of the bowl. It is unmarked so it is one of those unknown pipes. The difference is that this is not a homemade pipe it has the marks of a good pipemaker and the drilling is perfect from the stem forward. The bowl was lightly caked and the rim had a tarry overflow on the top. The inside edge of the bowl was in great shape as far as I could see from the photos. The outer edge of the top had been knocked about enough that there was some damage and wear to it. The next two photos show the rim top and bowl. The finish on the outside of the bowl is worn and there are a lot of dents and dings in the surface of the wood. The photos lead me to wonder what kind of wood the pipe is made of because of the way the damaged rim looks. The next photos show the condition of the stem and the drilling in the button. The spiral continues from the shank through the stem seamlessly. The second photo shows the worm hole in the horn stem. It is deep but clean and the areas around it are undamaged. The junction of the stem and the shank is very tight and clean. The transition from wood to horn is smooth to the touch. The last photo shows the orific button on the end of the stem. It is clean, round and centered in the end of the crowned button. This older style button helps me date this pipe as early as I do above. My brother did his usual job reaming and cleaning the pipe. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and cleaned it with a Savinell Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the internals with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners to remove the grime in the mortise, shank and airway in the stem and shank. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and was able to remove all of the grime on the bowl sides and rim. The pipe came to me in great condition. I took a close up photo of the rim top and stem to show their condition more closely. The rim top was worn and there were some spots on the edges that had slivered. The rim would need to be topped to smooth things out and remove the damage.The stem photos show the tooth damage on the top and underside at the button and the “worm hole” in the left side near the shank.I wiped down the area around the hole in the left side of the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol and dried it off. I layered in several fills of clear super glue into the hole. As each layer dried I added more glue to the top of the hole repair. I continued until the file was slightly overfilled then sanded the areas smooth.Billiard16While waiting for each layer of glue to dry I worked on the rim top. I topped it lightly with 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board to smooth out the damage to the rim. I took enough of the damage off to leave the rim top smooth to the touch.I wiped down the bowl with acetone on a cotton pad to remove all of the finish that remained on the bowl. I kept wiping it down until no more stain would come off and the bowl was clean. I could see once it was clean of the stain that the wood was not briar. I was dealing with what appeared to be walnut. It was extremely light weight and the grain was very different from what I expected once the stain was gone. I restained the pipe with dark brown aniline stain and flamed it to set the stain deep in the grain of the wood. I repeated the process until the coverage is acceptable.I put the stem back on the shank and hand buffed the stain with a soft cloth to show what the pipe looked like at this point in the process. The first photo and the last show the repair to the hole in the stem. It is smooth once again. I polished the bowl with 1500-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. Each successive grit made the walnut bowl shine more and made the stain more and more transparent. I polished the horn stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad and when I finished the last pad I gave it a final coat of oil and let it sit and dry. I turned the bone tenon on the stem into the threaded mortise on the shank. I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to raise a shine. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. In the first photo you can see the repair on the lower portion of the horn stem. It is a slightly darkened spot but it is smooth to the touch. Do any of you recognize the style or work on this old pipe? Can you tell me any information regarding the maker or the era? Do you think I am in the ball park with a late 1890s date? What do you think? Thanks for the help ahead of time and thanks for walking with me through this restoration.

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A Brigham One Dot Dublin with a Back Story


Blog by Steve Laug

This old Brigham was the next pipe I brought to my work table. I got a message from Greg on Facebook saying he had been reading one of my posts about a box of estate pipes I had received and he was interested in adding this one to his rack. The pipe was a Brigham One Dot Dublin with a slight bend in the stem. It was an older one made before the manufacture of the pipes was moved to Italy. It has the standard aluminum tenon and filter mechanism of the Canadian made pipes. The finish is rusticated with the classic Brigham rustication on the bowl, rim top and shank. It has one smooth patch on the underside of the shank that is stamped Brigham in script over Canada. There is no shape number or other stamping on the shank.

The pipe came to me in a box of pipes that I inherited from a friend in Ontario. He was an old Anglican priest and we had shared a lot about pipes and mutual calling over the 15 years that I knew him. I repaired, restored and sold many pipes for him and have a few of his previous pipes in my current collection. He was a great guy and he is alive in my memory each time I smoke one of his pipes. When the box came I found that there were 70+ pipes in the box and his daughter included a note that said her dad wanted me to restore them pass some of them on to others. This is the first from that lot that I have restored.The finish was very worn and the outer edges of the rim showed wear and damage. The inner edge worn as well but the bowl was still in round. The rim had a thick buildup of tars and oils that filled in the grooves and ridges of the rim top. The rim had some darkening of the finish as well. The stem was oxidized and had a sticky residue left behind by a price sticker. There were no tooth marks on the stem surface on either side next to the button.The stamping on the underside of the shank was clear but slightly worn. It reads Brigham in script at an angle from left to right and block letters, CANADA underneath. Charles Lemon of Dadspipes has written a helpful blog about dating Brigham Pipes by the style of the stamping on the shank. I turned to that blog to look up information on this particular pipe and see if I could identify the time period. Here is the link; https://dadspipes.com/2016/10/03/brigham-pipes-a-closer-look-at-dots-dates-and-markings//. According to that info this pipe comes from the late Canadian Era 1980-2000. The second close up photo below shows the rim and the cake in the bowl. The end of the Brigham system can be seen poking out of the airway in the photo as well.The next photo shows the tenon and system tube. It was incredibly dirty with a lot of tar and oil on the inside. The pipe had been smoked a long time without the filter in place and there was a lot of buildup in the tube and stem. The shank was also very dirty.The next two photos show the condition of the stem. The oxidation pattern and the sticky label gum on the surface are very visible on the stem. The stem is also clear of tooth marks or chatter on the surface near the button.I reamed back the cake with a PipNet reamer and a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. I used a brass bristle brush to knock off the tarry buildup on the rim top and clean out the crevices and grooves in the rustication.I decided to clean out the interior of the mortise, shank and airway in the shank and stem before going any further with the exterior. I used alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs to scrub out those areas and scrubbed until the pipe was clean. I wiped down the surface of the stem to remove the sticky gum left behind by a label on the top side of the stem.I scrubbed the surface of the briar with Murphy’s Oil Soap, toothbrush and a brass bristle brush to clean out the grooves and cleaning off the dirt, oil and debris on the briar. The bowl and the rim looked significantly better once I had rinsed it off with running water. It was dry and the stain was lightened but it was clean. I decided to work on the stem first so while I did I stuffed the bowl with cotton balls and used an ear syringe to fill the bowl with alcohol. I folded a pipe cleaner and plugged the airway so that the alcohol could draw out the oils in the briar. The second photo shows the cotton after it had been sitting for four hours. When I took the cotton balls out at the 6 hour mark they were exactly as they looked at the 4 hour mark. I was a bit surprised that they were not darker. But then again my old friend smoked primarily Virginias – in fact I don’t think he ever smoked aromatics in the time I knew him.I took out a new maple wood Brigham filter for the system and took a photo of the pipe at this point in the process. I still need to stain the bowl but it was looking better and it smelled and looked clean.I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain and flamed it to set it in the grain. The characteristic blue flame that burns the alcohol out of the stain setting it deep in the grain is a beautiful site to my eyes. I repeated the process several times until the coverage was correct.I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on cotton pads to make a bit more transparent. I wanted the contrast that had originally been on these old Brighams to show through. There was enough dark stain in the deep grooves of the finish to contrast nicely with the new stain coats I gave the pipe. I rubbed the stem down with Brebbia Pipe and Mouthpiece Polish and some Before & After Pipe Stem Polish to remove the oxidation in the vulcanite. It lifted a lot of the oxidation and what was left behind was minor.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad and gave it a final coat of oil after the 12000 grit pad. I set the stem aside to dry. When I finished there still appeared to be a little oxidation at the tenon end of the stem. I was not sure if it was the light from the flash or reality so I took it to the buffer and buffed that area with red Tripoli and repeated the last three micromesh pad grits. I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond to further polish it. I buffed the stem with carnauba wax and gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and with a microfibre cloth to deepen it. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a beautiful pipe and even better in person. Thanks for looking.

 

Repairing a shattered stem on a Comoy’s Grand Slam Lovat Patent 210


Blog by Steve Laug

I received an email from Pat about a pipe he had that he wanted to know if I would have a look at and see if I could do anything with it. Here is his first email.

Hello Steve, I have a 1930’s Comoy,s grand slam 210 Lovat with the old bar logo on the stem. The stem however is broken in three or four places. I have all the pieces but one. Is it possible to join the pieces back together again and fill the remaining hole from the missing piece? I visit your site often and you truly have done some amazing things. I don’t know if you typically do repairs but if you do would you consider taking on a repair like this. It’s a lovely old Comoy’s and I’d really like to bring it back to its former glory. Can you help? Thanks for your consideration. — Pat

I wrote him back saying that I would like to see photos of the pipe before I committed to trying a repair. He sent the following two photos of the pipe for me to look at. The piece of briar was a typically beautiful specimen of a Comoy’s pipe. It had some excellent grain and the finish was in very good shape for a pipe this old. The stem however, was another issue. It had shattered.The first photo above showed the bowl and stem together. I had been a really nice looking Lovat and with the bar logo on the stem it was indeed an old one. He wanted to see if I could somehow piece the stem back together preserving the old logo. Looking at the photos I was pretty amazed at the condition. It was obvious to me that the stem must have been stuck in the shank and when someone torqued on it to remove it the stem had shattered into pieces. It looked to me that there were some pieces missing but maybe I could do something with it. I had him ship it to me with all of the parts included.It did not take too long to arrive in Canada and when it did, I opened the box with some trepidation. I was expecting the worst and what I found inside was pretty close to what I had expected. There were two broken pieces in a small baggy, the rest of the stem with the stinger in another baggy and the bowl wrapped in bubble wrap. I laid out the pieces to get a feel for what was missing. The two broken pieces fit well together and together they fit well with the saddle portion. The underside of the stem looked pretty good with the parts connected. However the top side was another story – there was a large chunk of vulcanite missing virtually the length of the stem. Now I knew what I was dealing with.

I put the pieces back in the bag and put the bag and bowl back into the box. I laid it aside and took some time to think through the best course of action for putting it back together again. It was a true Humpty Dumpty project and I did not know if all the kings’ men or even this king’s man could put it back together again. I let it sit while I repaired pipes that were in the queue ahead of it.

Several weeks went by, at least it seemed that way to me and I did not look at the pipe again. I knew it was there but I was not ready to commit to a repair. Today, Saturday arrived and I finished the repairs that were ahead of it. I decided that today was the day. I unpacked the pieces and put them together again to have a look. The tenon/saddle end had a clean break away from the rest of the pieces. The airway inside was oval shaped as was the airway in the button and in the gap between the pieces. Whatever I used to repair this one would have to take that into account. I would need to give an adequate interior base for the rebuild of the stem. If I could glue the pieces together and then insert a tube of some sort I could then rebuild the gap of the missing pieces of vulcanite. It seemed like the plan would work. The first step was to glue to two parts of the button end together. I cleaned the surface with alcohol and ran a bead of clear super glue along the edges of each piece. I put them together and ran a bead of glue along the surface of the crack on the underside of the stem.I took some photos of the bowl and rest of the broken stem just to give an idea of the beauty of the pipe and the magnitude of the issue at hand. The bowl and the finish on the pipe were in excellent condition. It really did not need any work. I don’t know if Pat cleaned the briar or not but it was looking really good. To encourage myself a bit I took some photos of the bowl. The grain is beautiful and the stamping is very sharp and clear. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Comoy’s over Grand Slam over Patent. On the right side it is stamped British over Patent No. over 40574.I flattened the first two inches of the inner tube to make it oval. The trick was not to collapse the tube but merely change its shape from round to oval. It worked really well. I slid the oval tube into the repaired pieces of stem. I aligned it so that it was centred looking at it from the slot in the button. I took photos of the tube in place from the top and the bottom sides.It was now time to proceed. I prepared my charcoal powder and black super glue putty mixture on a folded piece of paper. Because the super glue cures slowly I stir the two components together until I get a thick paste. I double checked the alignment of the tube in the stem end and then applied the mixture to both sides of the stem with a dental spatula. I pressed it into the area on the top side where the stem pieces were missing first then applied a thick coat over the top of the repaired area. The photos below show the progress and the filled repair once I had smoothed it out with the spatula. The flattened tube is anchored solidly in place and the area around it is filled in with the putty. The putty is purposely thick so I have a good base to work with once it dries. I will need to flatten it out and reshape the edges of the button. So far I was happy with the progress of the repair. Once the repair had dried it was time to work on shortening the tube to fit into the other half of the stem. I cut it off with a hacksaw until the length such that when I slid the two parts together it would allow them to match.I applied super glue to the edges of both pieces of the stem and slid the two parts together. I filled in the low spots on the connection with clear super glue to begin with and set the stem aside to cure some more.When the repair had cured I sanded the patch with 180 grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface and begin to blend it into the rest of the stem. I wanted the two parts of the stem to flow together naturally. I continued to sand it with 220 grit sandpaper to further smooth out the surface. In the process air bubbles showed up in the repair surface. This is a normal occurrence and would need to be patched further once I finished this stage of sanding. I also lightly sanded the tenon as the fit in the shank was too tight and I was pretty certain that the stem had shattered because of that. I used black super glue to fill in the air bubbles and pits in the surface of the stem and set the stem aside to cure overnight. In the morning I would sand out those repairs and continue to shape the stem.In the morning the repaired had cured well and the stem was solid. It was a unit once more. The touch up repairs to the air bubbles had also cured so I began the long process of sanding the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth things out. The next two photos show the beginning of the progress. The stem is starting to look pretty good. Still a lot more sanding to do before it is finished but I like what I see so far.In talking to Patrick he wanted to have the stinger apparatus removed and cleaned up so that he could put it back in place should he want it but he wanted the more open draught of the stem without the stinger. These older style Comoy’s stingers were usually threaded and screwed into the tenon of the stem. In all of the ones that I have cleaned up the stingers were locked in place by the lacquer like tobacco juices that had dried and caused it to be frozen in place.

I rubbed the tenon end down with a cotton swab and alcohol and let it soak into the tenon itself. I wanted to soften the tars and oils there and the alcohol would do that without damaging the rest of my repair. Once it had soaked for a while I dried off the area to make sure there was no residual alcohol and heated the stinger repeatedly with the flame of a Bic lighter. Heat would further loosen the lacquers on the threads so that I could unscrew it without damaging the tenon. I used the flat sides of the diamond on the stinger as anchor spots for a pair of needle nose pliers and unscrewed it from the tenon. It was threaded on the end and sat at the bottom of the tenon.The tenon was slightly enlarged and would not seat easily in the mortise. I wonder if this may not have been part of the reason the stem had shattered. Even before I heated the stinger the fit in the mortise had been tight and it would not sit snug against the shank. I cleaned out the inside of the mortise and shank with cotton swabs, alcohol and pipe cleaners to remove any residue that lined the walls. I wanted to be sure that the fit was not hampered by the shank itself. In examining the tenon I could see that the it was slightly thicker at the tenon/saddle junction. I used a needle file to smooth out the thickness and sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper.The fit of the tenon now was snug and the stem could be easily removed and put in place without being tight. I sanded the stem with 220, 320 and 400 wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each pad and gave it a final coat after the 12000 grit pad. The photos show some white flecks on the top surface of the stem. These needed to be sanded out and polished. I gave the stem multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed the stem and pipe with a shoe brush to polish it. I buffed it with a microfibre cloth to raise and deepen a shine on the briar and the vulcanite. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I am sending the original stinger back with the finished pipe to Patrick. He has the option of using it or not as he chooses. The finished stem looks better than the three parts and missing chunks that arrived. It should work for him but I am wondering about the fragileness of the old vulcanite. We shall see. Care will need to be exercised when smoking this pipe and taking it apart for cleaning. The briar is absolutely beautiful and the age and patina of the pipe is stunning. I will send it back soon Patrick. Can’t wait to hear what you think.

Restoring a Beautiful Parker Super Bruyere Cherrywood 287


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table comes from the estate lot that I received from a local pipe shop. It originally belonged to an old customer whose wife brought them back to the shop after his death. I am cleaning them up and selling them for the shop. This one is a beautiful little Parker Cherrywood. It is significantly more petite than the sandblast version that I restored earlier (https://rebornpipes.com/2017/06/17/parker-super-briarbark-cherrywood-809/). The stamping on the left side of the shank reads Parker over Super in a diamond over Bruyere.To the left of that is the shape number 287. On the right side of the shank the stamping reads Made in London over England and the number 4 in a circle denoting the group size.There is no date stamp next to the D in England.When I brought the pipe to the table it was obviously one of the old pipeman’s favourite smokers. The finish was dull and dirty and the stem oxidized with some calcification and buildup around the button area forward and a few minor tooth marks.I took a close up photo of the rim top and bowl to show the lava overflow onto the rim top and the thickness of the cake in the bowl. I find that the cake in these older pipes is like concrete. It is very hard and takes a lot of effort to break it down when reaming the bowl. I also took some photos of the stem to show the condition of the end near the button before my work began. The hard cake in the bowl demanded a bit different reaming strategy. I needed to use multiple pipe reamers to remove it. I started the reaming process with a PipNet reamer using the smallest head and working my way up to the largest one that could take the cake back to bare briar walls. I finished the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife and a KleenReem pipe reamer. I used the drill bit from the end of the KleenReem reamer to clear out the airway between the mortise and the bowl. It was almost clogged with a buildup of tars and oils that had hardened there. The pipe had been smoked to a point where it must have been like sucking on a coffee stirrer and having a thimble of tobacco in the chamber. It was definitely a favourite and obviously a good smoking pipe.With the bowl reamed, I turned my attention to working on the stem. I sanded the stem to remove the calcification around the button and smooth out some of the tooth marks. I also broke up some of the oxidation on the rest of the stem with the 220 grit sandpaper.I “painted” the stem end with a Bic lighter to raise the tooth dents on the surface of the stem. It did not take too much work to raise all but one of them. What remained of the sole dent was a small divot. I wiped down the stem with alcohol and filled in the divot with a drop of black super glue. I set the stem aside so that the glue would cure.I scrubbed the rim top with cotton pads and saliva to remove the tarry buildup there. It took a lot of elbow grease but I was able to remove all of it. There was some burn damage to the front inner rim edge from consistently lighting it in the same place. I remove the damage by blending it into the rest of the rim bevel with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I restained the edge and the rim top to blend in with the rest of the bowl using a medium and a dark brown stain pen. I mixed the stains on the rim surface and rubbed it in with a soft cloth. I gave it a light coat of Conservator’s Wax to further blend in the stain on the rim. The photos below show the rim top after the stain and after the waxing.With the pipe’s externals cleaned and polished I turned my attention to the internals of the mortise and airway in the shank and the stem. I scrubbed them with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners until they were clean.I decided to work on the oxidation on the stem using a combination of the Before & After Stem Deoxidizer and Polish and Brebbia Mouthpiece Polish. I applied the Deoxidizer and Polishes with cotton pads to scrub the surface of the stem. I was able to remove the oxidation without doing any damage to the Parker Diamond stamp on the top of the stem. I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and then gave the entire pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a beautiful pipe that fits well in the hand. The dimensions of the pipe are; Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. It will soon be available on the rebornpipes store. If you are interested in adding it to your collection email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a private message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

Stem Button TIME SAVER on a 1940’s Dunhill LB


Blog by Henry Ramirez

I was ghosting through Ebay listings looking for a cracked shank to experiment with when this old classic appeared.  The auction was won for a song because in addition to a cracked shank, the year stamping had been buffed off the shank. The usual whole lotta cake and dented stem story.I started with the stem, which was really in great shape.  I have come to love the stumpy profile of the patent LB’s with their constricted contour button.  An Oxyclean bath was followed by an isopropyl alcohol scrubbing with a shank brush and pipe cleaners. I wanted to use heat to raise the bite marks as much as possible to not only decrease my work load but to minimize the inclusion of foreign filler. To this end I also wanted to learn the proper temperature needed to reproduce my results consistently.

Using a heat gun, I took my time and warmed up the vulcanite until my nose told me it was getting close to burning.  If that happens the surface becomes a porous charred stinky mess!  I quickly used a laser temperature gun to obtain a surface reading of 275 degrees F.  Amazing how quickly the surface cooled off once the heat was removed.I was not impressed by the amount of rebound and it looked like filling and filing was in my future.

Having nothing to lose, I pressed my wife’s oven into service, knowing that I could set the temperature substantially higher than previous attempts without fear of ruination. I set the oven temperature at 265 degrees F to have a 10 degree safety zone and watched as the whole stem “stretched out”.  This was more like it! The dents were now depressions that needed the light to shine just so to be seen.  Little CA and polishing was needed.

I should mention that these values are for older Dunhill vulcanite only.  The composition of vulcanite has changed over the years, according to some posts I’ve read, and I’ve noticed it in the depth of polish ability.Now it was the time to clean and evaluate the briar. While I ream the mortise and bowl I am wishing that I had Steve’s magical Savinelli Pipe knife. Boy, those things are rarer than hen’s teeth and this old cake is super hard. That is followed by total immersion in an isopropyl bath with various scrub brushes stripping the briar. I couldn’t save the original finish because the shank crack needed to be clean and open as much as possible for the bonding. One of the perks of the alcohol bath is that after the bowl dries out, if there is any residual cake stuck to the chamber walls, it shrivels up and is easily removed.The shank crack was now very evident but the year stamping was not.Getting back to the stem, I wanted to know if the alcohol retort was worth the hassle.  I had been as meticulous as possible with the pipe cleaners and cold alcohol.  The color of the used alcohol in the distillation flask tells the story, close but no banana! I could now address the cracked shank.  I had previously repaired such a problem using a micro-screw and bonded dental composite resin.  I was concerned that threading the screw into old dry briar could start micro-fractures and crazing.

This time I elected to drill a channel spanning the crack and passively bond a post fabricated from longitudinal glass fibers encompassed in a strong composite resin matrix.  This would also provide some flex in the repair to accommodate the dimensional changes that briar goes through because of temperature changes during smoking.

At this time I also drilled a post hole at the end of the crack to prevent further spidering.  Because the crack was significantly wide I made sure to introduce my resin with a size 06 endodontic file.  I had planned to use a C clamp to close the gap but I chickened out when finger pressure did nothing.  Not sure how to make briar temporarily more flexible….

After filling the post hole and cementing the fiber post with dual cure composite resin, I trimmed off the post and blacked out the white resin with black CA.

Before beginning to start the staining process I wanted to open the pores of the cellulose to not only gain greater absorption of the dye but also improve the briar’s capacity to absorb tars for a sweeter smoke.  I had noticed such a phenomenon with the Missouri Meerschaum corn cob pipes.

I found that this particular wheel had already been invented by the folks who refinish wooden decks.  I tracked down some relatively non-toxic materials which did the job and whose run off wouldn’t hurt plants.

Sodium percarbonate does the cleaning and oxalic acid removes the smear layer, thus opening up the wood’s pores.  Looking around online for a source I realized that I already had both chemicals in the laundry room!  Oxyclean is the percarbonate and states on the container that it’s great for wood decks, siding and lawn furniture.  Bar Keeper’s Friend has oxalic acid as its active ingredient and states on the container that it works on teak wood.Indeed after scrubbing with both and rinsing with water, I noticed that the chamber’s surface looked and felt less dense.Now it was time to stain the briar with Oxblood diluted 50% with isopropyl alcohol in two coats, both flamed with the micro-torch.I was lucky that the original black stain in the depths of the blast remained.An overlay stain of light brown was applied in 2 coats.After a rub down with an old t-shirt to remove any xs dye, I applied 2 coats of Halcyon wax.  A quick buff on the lathe and then a hand strapping with a shoe bristle brush brought the shine up.  I want to mention that my wife gifted me her silver brush which is narrow and has long soft bristles which easily accesses the crotch of the pipe without fear of collision. This has proved most useful on bent pipes.Another very helpful tip came from a pipe maker’s blog about dead-faced files to add crispness to the button area.  They are the dead faced nut seating file by Stewart MacDonald, a luthier’s supply house and the pillar files which have the dead side on the edge from OttoFrei, a clock makers source.Well I’m now satisfied with the pipe but not finished. They say we abandon these projects because we reach a point where better becomes an enemy of good. Boy that was fun and I hope to share more adventures with these fabulous old pipes!  Regards, Henry

 

Refurbishing an Yves St. Claude Glacier 80 Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I chose to work on today was one that came from the friend of mine who has the pipe shop. He had been given a large number of pipes from a customer’s estate to sell and he had given them to me to clean up. This one is a rusticated billiard that has a slight upward bend to the shank and a Lucite stem with a ¼ bend. It was stamped on the underside of the shank Yves St. Claude in script over Glacier. Next to that it was stamped with a COM circle that read Made in France. At the end of the shank near the stem/shank junction it is stamped with the shape number 80. The finish was very dirty and almost lifeless looking. The striated rustication was well done but the grooves were all filled with grit and grime. The bowl had a light cake and the rim had some darkening and tar on the back side. The stem had some light tooth chatter but no deep tooth marks. The variegated yellow/gold stem went well with the rustication.In searching the web I found several references to Yves Grenard, trained in Comoy’s England factory, purchasing the Chacom plant in St. Claude. He managed the factory and it passed on to his son afterward. I am pretty certain that this Yves St. Claude pipes was made by Chacom in France with the stamping bearing Yves name.I took a close up photo from the top looking into the bowl to show the light cake in the bowl and the darkening to the back side of the rim. The rim top is a bit oddly shaped in that the back outer edge of the bowl slightly flattened and then rusticated over the top of the shape. I also took photos of the chatter on both sides of the stem at the button. I sanded out the tooth chatter with 220 grit sandpaper and it did not take much to smooth out the marks. There were also some marks left behind from when the stem had originally been bent that sanded out quite easily.I scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime. I used a brass bristle brush with the soap on the rim surface to remove the darkening and tars. I rinsed the bowl under warm water to remove the soap and grime. I took photos of the cleaned bowl and included them below. I decided to use a dark brown aniline stain thinned with isopropyl by 50% to make it more of a translucent medium brown. The colour once it was dried, buffed and polished would really look good with the yellow stem. I applied the stain, flamed it and repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage.There were some thick, hard tars on the inside of the mortise walls so I scraped them out with a dental spatula. Afterwards I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I worked on the stepped tenon with alcohol and cotton swabs to remove the darkening at that point. I wiped down the outside of the stem with a damp pad. I used white acrylic paint to fill in the YSC stamp on the left side of the saddle. Once the paint dried I scraped the excess off and polished it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads.I polished the Lucite stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with the damp pad between each set of three pads. I put the stem on the pipe before taking the photo of the stem after I had finished sanding with the last three pads. The new stain looked really good with the yellow Lucite stem. The contrast worked really well on my opinion.I buffed the stem and bowl lightly with Blue Diamond polish on the buffer. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a shoe brush. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine and finished by hand buffing it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are, Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 5/8 inches, Outer bowl diameter: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. The pipe has been thoroughly cleaned and prepared for the next pipeman who wants to add it to their rack. I will be putting on the rebornpipes store shortly but if you want it email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

 

 

Fanfare for the Everyman Pretender


Blog by Robert M. Boughton

Member, International Society of Codgers
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors
Member, Facebook Gentlemen’s Pipe Smoking Society
Website Roadrunner Restored Pipes
Blog RRP
Falderal About Me
Photos © the Author except as noted

From their inception, Kapp & Peterson’s goal was to make a good smoking pipe that the ordinary, common working man could afford and we believe they have, very admirably, lived up to this.
— From A Peterson Dating Guide: A Rule of Thumb, by Mike Leverette

INTRODUCTION

The restoration this blog recounts has nothing to do with Peterson’s pipes.  Still, the litany of near fabled proportions in pipe lore, that Charles Peterson and the Brothers Kapp, Friedrich and Heinrich, experienced a mutual epiphany of good will toward all, even the less fortunate commoners, still rings forth in perfect, ever-flowing three-part harmony.  The more probable truth, after all – that the good men of K&P had a capital brainstorm in the form of a simple but revolutionary merchandising notion to market early designs of Peterson’s System pipes starting sometime in the last quarter of the 19th century – lacks a certain universal, perpetual attraction, as it were.

Now, I should at least attempt mitigation of the foregoing critique I ’am sure will be perceived by some as an unwarranted attack on one of the last bastions of master pipe craftsmanship, as some readers may misinterpret the kind of remarks I’m prone to make after I’ve spent a good deal of time thinking a matter through.  No kind of disrespect on my part for Peterson of Dublin could be farther from the truth.  One fellow on the Smokers Forums UK who had never met me other than a few cursory cyber comments back and forth once made me the butt of a snarky but harmless jab after I posted a brief description of my restoration of a nice though common System Pipe that I decided to offer for sale given the number of finer samples in my collection.  So far, I’ve bought about 33 Petes I kept, not counting those I passed on to others with the gleam of love in their eyes I know so well.  As I recall the unhappy SF member’s words in typed reply, they were: “Wonders never cease!  I didn’t think I’d live to see the day you would say you could have enough Petersons!”  The member in question warmed up quite a bit after I began flooding his posts with compliments, and they were even genuine.

The real mystery of this blog is the single mark of nomenclature on the entire pipe, even counting the original black Vulcanite/Ebonite bit of the style called “fancy,” but which proved to be broken beyond my time and patience if not ability to repair.  Even the relative ease of the kind of work needed by the likes of Steve to mend a gap in the upper lip of the mouthpiece as gaping as that shown below requires, as our host notes in the blog cited under Sources, much practice.  Also – and this is an important factor, not an excuse – I intend to sell the pipe, not keep it for the shop, and at times have different standards for the two choices.See the date and time stamps?  I worked on the infernal bit from then until a couple of weeks ago before settling on the better part of valor.  As can be seen from the stummel, the pipe is called, with somewhat disingenuous simplicity and similarity to the well-known The Everyman London Pipe by Comoy’s of London (with all of that and more stamping packed onto even the sandblasted versions of the latter).  From the beginning, when I acquired the bedraggled waif in an estate lot at least two years ago and sat on it until late September last year, I had one of those uneasy feelings in my stomach at the mere idea of committing myself in print to the conclusion that it was in fact somehow part of the Comoy’s brood.

Before I snapped my habitual first seven shots of the pipe as it presented in O.R.  with more worthy candidates ahead of it in triage, I began my online search that only further clogged the veritable obstruction in my intestines.  Having made some genuinely heroic efforts on real Everyman and Guildhall London Pipes in my limited time learning this wonderful tradecraft, in the combined senses of the words as well as the more clandestine meaning of the singular, I knew just what to expect from Pipephil and Pipedia but visited both once again anyway.  Variations on this theme continued off and on during the interim period until a few days ago when I took the

Google approach of “I’m feeling lucky” and again entered the terms “Everyman Pipes.”  I swear I typed the same simplest of many search terms I had tried for two years, but this time, in one of those inexplicable flashes of serendipity, the top listing was for P&K Everyman Pipes at JR Cigar!

Growing breathless, I clicked on the link and saw, more or less, my pipe in two other shapes but with the same distinctive fancy bits and rugged vertical striations around the bowls, and both were straight.  One was a billiard, the other a pot, and both, marked down $10, were still, to me, listed at an outrageous $31.95.  Despite all that, I was quite pleased with myself to read the blurb at the top of the page:

“A true example of eye-catching yet economical handcrafted tobacco pipes, the P&K Everyman selection by the famed Comoy’s of London promises a premium pipe-smoking experience at prices that can’t be beat.”

 I scanned further down the search result page, spotting a listing for the same pipe brand at Santa Clara Cigar, possessed of a remarkable resemblance to JR but with the Comoy’s blurb, ahem, omitted.  Nevertheless, at the fourth of five shapes down, there was my pipe, the P&K Straight Rustic #9, a Dublin.  Better later than never, the idea of looking up P&K Everyman pipe images occurred to me and at the top I saw the following, being the perfect factory image of my pipe.

OK, then.  As supremely pleased with myself as I was at this morsel of intel, even if some faiths that consider pride a sin could be right, I am not now nor have I ever been a member of the Nitwit Party, whose followers believe everything they read on the Internet or hear on TV is the truth.  There are many reasons for my worldview, not the least of which being my years as a newspaper journalist and photographer, as opposed to a photojournalist.  I sold my first news article when I was 15, and when I was 17 became credentialed by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office as an official police and justice beat reporter for a community paper.  My publisher, editor and I tried the year before, and although there was no real age clause at the time (1978), the powers-that-were in the L.A.S.O. were too – well – pig-headed to relent until I gave everyone in the issuing bureau a major headache re-applying on the first of every month.

I try, no joke, not to pester Steve with questions to which I can find or – OMG! – figure out on my own using the brain that was between my ears at birth and, operating best on the right side of it, form a working plan to press on.  One of my best qualities is the willingness to admit at once when I am wrong, which in fact is a very good thing because I have had much more experience with that than, say, repairing bits with outlandish holes gnawed through them by people with Intermittent Explosive Disorder or tardive dyskinesia.  And no, I’m not making fun of people with disabilities, in particular schizophrenics, who seem to have been drawn to me all of my life, other than most of those in my family for some reason.  It’s sort of Cole Seer’s dramatic need in The Sixth Sense, having to be like a shrink to dead people. At any rate, Steve is one of the busiest, most productive persons I know, traveling the world almost non-stop, it seems at times,  doing good works while never letting on that his constant other full-time “job” writing and publishing mostly his own pipe restoration adventures and posting those of other contributors online.  All of this last part is by way of a drum roll of sorts.

You see, had I not called and left a brief message on Steve’s phone before emailing him more than the full details, as par for the course, I never would have received back the following concise words of wisdom as to the possibilities of who really made the Everyman Rustic Dublin on which I’m so very close now to describing all of the work I did!  Yes, I am!  Steve’s reply, in pertinent part, read:

I got your message when I got home late last evening and then read the email this morning.  I have not heard of the P&K brand and Everyman pipe does not at all look English to me. I am wondering if it could  possibly be from one of two original makers.

1. Alpha pipes Israel made for the cigar shop – the finish, style of the bowl and the stem make it look very much like many Alpha Israel pipes ) pre-Grabow ownership.

2. Lorenzo pipes Italy as they made many basket pipes for different shops.

That is as much as I would hazard to guess.

If I’ve ever needed Steve’s direction in research for a restore, this was it!  There is no way I would have reached those conclusions with such apparent ease and speed, in fact not ever, no how, no way, because I just don’t have his experience.  I mean, if there were a way I could get him to donate me a spare kidney or maybe his spleen so I could, like, grow all of his knowledge, why, I’d lie down on the table and do it in a heartbeat.  For now I guess I just need to get busy buying up and devouring and going back to again and again all of the great reference books out there, such as Who Made That Pipe?  The bottom line here is that Steve’s tip came back so fast my head spun like Linda Blair’s in The Exorcist, not to overdo the whole movie thing.

All I had to do was figure out how to look up the Lorenzo and Alpha possibilities, which I knew I could manage, and I did a few minutes after reading Steve’s email.  The funniest place the Lorenzo idea led me was to some images of my own restoration of a gigantic Spitfire by Lorenzo Mille I restored and blogged just before Hallowe’en 2014.  The money card turned out to be with the pre-DrG Alphas made in Israel.  I found the following oddly familiar-appearing Burl Briar Freehand Pipes on eBay, complete with the same fancy bits curved just so.

Case closed.

RESTORATION

The bit aside, the only real problem with the pipe, and it was a real problem to be sure, was the rim.  Char and even the worst blistering from a close call with full-blown combustion, which so far I’ve had the opportunity to witness only with homemade corncobs, have often occasioned rise to heated anger but never cold feet.  (I – tender my apologies for all three puns.)  My mother for many years rose in the nursing world and enriched my vocabulary with terms the likes of crispy critter, with all of their brio, and sometimes spread cat cadavers across the dining room table, both extenders in place, on a single large thermo scientific wrap-around cover.  Thus I looked at the “easy” heat damage and the acute and problematic jagged rim edge and unequal width of the bowl’s peak with a logical, methodical approach that began to form.

I expect to blog my restores with the methods fresh in my mind.  There are even some of the jobs I hold special from the past few years that I’m sure I’ll never forget a single detail.  Not to suggest this was common or insignificant, but after nine months I can’t remember the specifics of how I accomplished the result of the first shot below.  The chamber had to be reamed, and when I do that I always follow up with 150-, 220- and 320-grit paper, so that’s a given.  I’m guessing I started with micro mesh on the rim just for the sake of trying and found it ineffective.  Then I would have turned to sandpaper and chosen 220 with the same rationale as the micro mesh but opted for 180 with the usual progression up to 400 before starting in on micro mesh and stopping when I realized I would have to solve the other obvious problems with more drastic steps.  Here are the results I just described, and after the drastic measure of a file.Healing the wounds of a procedure I consider radical enough that I have only used it less than the number of fingers I have on a hand (or, rather, considering the thumb is not technically a finger, the same number), in fact is not all that difficult in most cases, and seeing the result of the steps is always a great pleasure.  I used 180-, 220-, 320- and 400-grit paper, and then 1500-12000 micromesh on the rim.Then, I began the rest of the outer stummel.  Starting with super fine “0000” steel wool to lighten the color of the wood and easily get between the grooves, I switched to the full micro mesh.It was time for the retort.  As always, I was glad I did it, because this little stummel was filthy!  I have done as many as six retorts on a single pipe, and this one “only” needed three, all of them clearer.  I had no bit to connect to the shank and therefore had to stretch the rubber connector over the opening.  I show only the first round below.  I also followed the final retort with three cleaners dipped in alcohol alternated with three dry, all of which came out clean.Applying alcohol-based leather stain and flaming it is always fun, and I used Fiebings Medium Brown on all but the rim to leave a definite two-tone.  When it cooled, I wiped away the char and a little extra darkness with 8000 micro mesh. I hand-rubbed a sparing amount of Halcyon II Wax into the wood and crevices of the rusticated pipe for which it is made, not to be frugal but because a little goes a long way.  In most cases, I let it dry or set or whatever as much as it can, in general 20 minutes or so but sometimes a considerable time longer, and wiped the excess off with a soft cotton rag while rubbing more into the pores of the wood.  Other times, I let the setting process go on for a considerable time longer, but not often.  I was then almost finished with the long project and was more than prepared to accomplish the final main task,  filled with joy to tackle (thinking of football) the key part of the  experience: fitting one of two fancy Lucite stems, an orange and a yellow, that arrived in the mail – eight months after I finished the stummel.  In case anyone wondered at my persnickety comments regarding the amount of time I spent on a certain bit of work trying to repair a part of the original Everyman that I will now leave unnamed, in my own way, that’s why.

I went with the golden bit to the right.  As a point of interest, the popular online site where I bought a total of three bits in one order listed these two as gold, but the system is a touch odd, to me at least, and also the viewing system for the product you in fact get wasn’t working that day for all items, including the yellow bit.  But I can use it, and it was inexpensive!  Having none of the finer and more expensive equipment for tenon cutting, I hand-sanded the shank insert end down to where it had a nice, tentative fit for the time being.  That task took another day.  Making use /of another of Steve’s blogs, on bending stems, I chose the oven method because it had worked so well on several occasions in the past with Vulcanite.  BTW, I doubt the Lucite was the problem.  I always take a look in the mirror before pointing a finger lest I see three others pointed right back at me.  I say, go figure!  After that mishap, I switched to the boiling water method that worked better but I’m sure was spoiled by already having baked the bit. I repeated the boiling method and achieved the desired bend.  Halcyon II was is meant to be used in place of regular buffing wheel waxes and compounds, but I wanted a slightly brighter finish, and so I ended with spins of Red Tripoli and carnauba.

CONCLUSION

Even regardless of its look, and by that I mean nothing rude, the likelihood of this pipe being of British make – lacking any indication of such origin, whether the city or country of manufacture, a line name, or the often top secret coded markings of which our friends across the Pond are so fond – is so paltry as to end any further debate lacking official admissible documentary evidence.  WikiLeaks might suffice, in particular if the disseminator were to flee his country or be arrested or renditioned or still more conclusively, become the subject of cover page stories of the world’s tabloid toilet wipes.  On the other hand, and here I am not being facetious, if my already stated conclusion that the simple but honorable Everyman is a blast from the past of the pre-Dr. Grabow Alpha days of Israel, made by the Shalom Pipe Factory, and I am in fact wrong, I would as always appreciate input from any authorities or scholars among us.

SOURCES

https://www.jrcigars.com/brand/pipes-accessories/p-k-everyman-pipes

https://www.santaclaracigars.com/brand/pipes-accessories/p-k-everyman-pipes

https://rebornpipes.com/2015/07/18/bringing-new-life-to-a-gift-pipe-a-gasparini-mgm-elegante-brandy/comment-page-1/#comment-21243

https://pipedia.org/wiki/Stanwell_Shape_Numbers_and_Designers

http://www.ebay.com/itm/ALPHA-Burl-Briar-Freehand-Estate-Tobacco-Pipe-Made-In-Israel/332252221412?_trksid=p2047675.c100011.m1850&_trkparms=aid%3D222007%26algo%3DSIC.MBE%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D41376%26meid%3D0c2217f15e5f4850ad0061cb84cc5850%26pid%3D100011%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D12%26sd%3D121269666970

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Shalom-Select-Imported-Tobacco-Pipe-Vintage-smoking/322513288986?_trksid=p2047675.c100011.m1850&_trkparms=aid%3D222007%26algo%3DSIC.MBE%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D41376%26meid%3D0c2217f15e5f4850ad0061cb84cc5850%26pid%3D100011%26rk%3D5%26rkt%3D12%26sd%3D121269666970\

https://rebornpipes.com/2012/07/15/bending-vulcanite-stems/