Tag Archives: sanding a stem

Bringing a Drake Double Guard System Pipe Back to Life


Blog by Steve Laug

Knowing my predilection for strange and different pipes my brother keeps an eye open for that kind of thing in all of his meanderings about the Northwest and through the pages of eBay. One he came across really captured me. It was in a box that read Drake Double Guard Pipe on the lid. The box was in decent shape, dirty but unshaken. On the end of the box it read Drake Pipe Co. over Merchandise Mart over Chicago, Ill. It was a brand that I knew nothing about. I have never seen a pipe like this before or since he found this one. It has a Bakelite base and shank that has a threaded metal end cap. The cap was stuck in place. The pipe had a briar bowl with a drilled centre screw. The stem is amberlike Bakelite – harder than plastic and older. There were some tooth marks on both sides of the stem next to the button. There are some crazing marks around the sides of the stem. There is a polished silver ring on the end of the stem. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he did his initial clean up. The exterior of the pipe was very dirty. There was dirt and grime in all of the grooves in the Bakelite base. The stem was also very dirty and the inside of the airway was lined with tars and oils. The briar was very dirty and oily feeling. It was a tired old pipe.The grimy bowl can be seen in the photo below. There was a fairly thick cake in the bowl and the lava had overflowed onto the bowl top and over the sides. There were some nicks on the outer edge of the bowl while the inside edge was quite clean and undamaged.Jeff took the photo below to show the wear and tear on the pipe. It shows the end cap that is stuck in the end of the base. The bowl had a lot of junk filling in between the bowl and the base. There was a lot of stuff in the grooves of the Bakelite base.The next two photos show the stem condition. There was some crazing in the material of the stem. There were tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem surface.When Jeff removed the stem there was an interesting condenser that was an integral part of the Bakelite base. It was a metal cap and was connected to a centre post. It was thickly clogged with tars and oils and the cap was overflowing over the edges of the cap.Once Jeff sent me the pictures I was hooked. I was looking forward to getting it and working on it. While I waited I did a bit of research on the brand. The printing on the end of the box that read Drake Pipe Co. over Merchandise Mart over Chicago, Ill. may have held a clue for me. I looked on the smoking metal website which is my normal go to site for these pipes and was unable to find anything about the brand. I did a general Google search on the brand and found nothing. I then focused the search on Merchandise Mart, Chicago, Ill. and found a bit of information that gave me a little help in my quest. The first was a postcard for the Merchandise Mart, in Chicago, Ill. It was a huge building that housed many floors of merchandise. There were household products, clothing for men, women and children, restaurants and specialty shops. There was also a tobacco shop in the Mart called Bernard Tobacco Shop. I found a listing of tobacco shops in Chicago in 1959 and it included this shop. It is long gone today but at least in 1959 it was there. (https://books.google.ca/books?id=xR4EAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA42&lpg=PA42&dq=Bernard+Tobacco+Shop+Chicago&source=bl&ots=AddsXvGdl8&sig=YVdTT5dpfwtnIiene6nUXBBpgNs&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj2ua7p4v_XAhVJ52MKHSHQDDIQ6AEIkQEwCQ#v=onepage&q=Bernard%20Tobacco%20Shop%20Chicago&f=false). 

There were also photos of a metal token for the shop that was good for Trade. I have included these two photos below. On the one side it reads Bernard Tobacco Shop Merchandise Mart. On the other side it reads Good for 5₵ in trade.Jeff cleaned it up as best he could. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and took it back to bare briar. The screw in the bottom of the bowl was stripped and also stuck. He was able to clean off the rim removing all of the tars and lava. He was able to remove the stem but not the end cap from the Bakelite base. Thus the internals of the pipe base were very dirty. He cleaned out the stem internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs and was able to remove all of the grime there. When it arrived I opened the box and found clipped tobacco labels that the previous pipeman must have smoked in this pipe. There was Stratford Smoking Mixture, Mapleton Smoking Mixture, Shannon Irish Smoking Mixture and Blue Heaven Triple Bokay Smoking Mixture. The only blend I had heard of was the Mapleton, all the rest were new ones to me.I worked on the pipe for several months. I soaked the bowl and screw with alcohol and cleaned around the screw with cotton swabs and acetone trying to let it penetrate the threads. It did not work. I used penetrating oil to try to loosen the stem but again it did not work. The stripped slot in the screw made it impossible to simply unscrew the bowl. I finally used a bit on the drill that was for removing tripped screws and I was able to get the screw out of the bowl. It is badly damaged and will take work to make it reusable but it is free. I wrapped the jaws on a pair of pliers with tape and carefully removed the end cap from the end of the base. I took photos of the pipe after I had taken it apart. I cleaned out the threads in the end cap and the base where the bowl was held in place. I used alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners and worked on it until the interior was clean. I cleaned the condenser cap with pipe cleaners and alcohol until all of the grime was gone. I could blow air through the base with no interference. It took time to clean it all out but once it was clean it was fresh and it was ready to smoke again.I rubbed the threads on the end cap down with Vaseline and threaded it into the shank end. I polished the aluminum cap with micromesh sanding pads.I rubbed the Bakelite base down with Before & After Restoration Balm to give life back to the base. I scrubbed it down using cotton swabs and pads. I buffed it with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine. I cleaned out the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners and warm water. I sanded out the scratches and tooth marks with 220 grit sandpaper. I polished the stem material with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped down the stem with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I gave it a final coat of oil after the last pad. The stem material seemed to absorb the Obsidian Oil and it worked well. The polished stem looked really good. The tooth marks and chatter were gone and the amber look of the stem was really good. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to clean and enliven the briar. The product pulls grit and grime out of the briar and brought life back to the wood. I polished it with a soft cloth to clean off the grime that the balm brought up. I buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish out the scratches. I gave the bowl multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the bowl with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. I put the stem back on the base and gave it several coats of Conservator’s Wax to protect and give it a shine. I did not want to risk buffing the stem as the material appeared to be quite soft and would easily melt and damage with the heat of the buffing wheel. I hand buffed the base and stem with a shoe brush and a microfiber cloth. The finished base and stem look really good at this point in the process. It was time to put the bowl back in place on the base. I put the bowl on the base and turned the screw into it to hold it tightly in place. I gave the bowl and stem a final coat of Conservator’s Wax.  I hand buffed the entire pipe with a microfiber cloth to polish it and raise a shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It looks better than it did in the beginning. It is the first Drake Double Guard Pipe that I have ever seen and worked on. It is well made and combines a beautiful piece of briar with Bakelite and amber acrylic/Bakelite for the stem material. The finished pipe looks really good with all the parts in place and polished. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Diameter of the chamber: 3/4 inches. Do any of you have any more background information or history on the brand or on the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, Illinois? Send me a message, email or leave a response on the blog. Thanks for looking.

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Repairing a Broken Tenon on a Birks Savinelli “Lollo”


Blog by Steve Laug

I received a call from a local pipeman who said he had broken the stem off of his favourite pocket pipe. He had been given my name by a local pipe shop. He stopped by and dropped off a small bag with the parts of his pipe in it. He had dropped the pipe down the stairs and it had bounced down to the bottom in two pieces. He was able to remove the broken tenon but the damage was done. The pipe was stamped Birks and next to that it was stamped “Lollo” over Savinelli over Italy. The pipe was actually in really good shape. The bowl was clean and the briar had some nice grain all around the sides, top and bottom. The rim was clean and there was a very light cake inside. The broken tenon had a stinger in the tenon that he wanted to preserve. The stem was oxidized and showed some tooth chatter on both sides near the button. I told him I would have a look at the pipe and decide whether to replace the tenon or the stem. He was fine either way as long as the pipe was the same when he picked it up. I put the parts of the pipe on my work table and took photos of the pipe before I started working on it. I went through my box of tenons and found one that was the proper size for the mortise. I use threaded replacement tenons on stems like this. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to smooth out the rough edges of the broken tenon left on the stem. I used a sharp knife to bevel the edge of the airway in the end of the stem. Beveling it keeps the drill bit centred when I drill out the airway for the threaded end of the tenon.I chucked a drill bit the same diameter as the threaded end of the replacement tenon.  The photo below shows the tenon on the end of the drill bit. I lined it up before drilling it so that the stem was straight and the airway would not be curved. I drilled the airway to the same depth as the threaded end of the tenon. Once the airway was straight I used tap to cut threads in the airway in the stem so that I could turn the new tenon in place. I put a drop of glue on the threads of the tenon and quickly turned it into the stem until it sat flush against the face of the stem. I pushed the stinger into the tenon end and aligned it so that the slot in it was facing the top of the stem. I checked the alignment on the new tenon and all was straight and ready.The oxidation on the stem really showed up under the bright light of the flash. I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I brought it back to the table and sanded it with the final three 6000-12000 grit pads. After the final pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and gently worked the pipe over on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond to polish the bowl and shank. I used a gentle touch on the pipe when I was buffing to polish the bowl. I buffed the stem with a harder touch to raise the gloss on the rubber. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It looks better than it did in the beginning. It is the first little Savinelli “Lollo” I have worked on. It is well made and a beautiful piece of briar. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 4 inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Diameter of the bowl: 3/4 inches. I will be calling the pipeman who dropped it off for repair. I think he will enjoy his pipe!

Cleaning up a Whitecross Real Cherrywood Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

On one of my brother’s visits to an antique shop near his home he picked up a batch of pipes. The owner of the shop through in this little one as a freebie. It is a Ropp like cherry wood pipe. It has the cherry bark on the bowl and the remnants of bark on the shank. The stem is lightly oxidized but otherwise is in decent shape. There were not any tooth marks or chatter on it. The shank is screwed into the bowl and the fit is tight and aligned. The rim top has some burn and peeling on it but otherwise it is clean. The inner and outer edge of the bowl is very clean. The pipe has been lightly smoked but there is no cake in the bowl. It is stamped on the smooth underside of the bowl as follows: Whitecross over Real Cherry over Made in France. Jeff figured it was not worth cleaning up but there is something about these folksy Cherry wood pipes that intrigues me and I am a sucker for them. I took these photos before I worked on the pipe. The next photo shows the stamping on the underside of the pipe. The Made in France stamping makes me fairly certain that this is a Ropp brand pipe. It has all the components of a Ropp and the cherry wood look of the pipe is all Ropp.I unscrewed the shank from the bowl to clean up the interior of the shank and open area under the air hole in the bottom of the bowl. I cleaned it with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. I was surprised at how little dirt, tar and oil had built up there. I cleaned the airway in the shank and stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol.I cleaned up the rim top and edges with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pad and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I was able to remove all of the lava on the rim edge and the peeling edges of varnish. When I was finished the bowl looked really good. I rubbed the Cherry wood down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I used my fingers to rub it into the bark and the bare parts of the pipe. I wiped it down with a soft cloth and hand buffed it with a shoe brush. I rubbed the shank down with the Balm and buffed it with the shoe brush as well. I put the shank on the pipe and buffed it again with the shoe brush. I polished out the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I brought it back to the table and sanded it with the final three 6000-12000 grit pads. After the final pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and gently worked the pipe over on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond to polish the bowl and shank. I used a gentle touch on the pipe when I was buffing it so that the bark would remain intact on the bowl and shank. I buffed the stem with a harder touch to raise the gloss on the rubber. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a shoe brush to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It looks better than it did in the beginning. It is a neat little Ropp style Cherrywood  pipe. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Diameter of the bowl: 1 5/8 inches, Diameter of the bowl: 3/4 inches. I will be adding this one to the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. It will make a fine addition to the rack. If you are interested email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

 

Breathing new life into a SON Freehand – an early pipe by Eric Nording


Blog by Steve Laug

When my brother Jeff saw this pipe he went for it. I am not sure if he bought it on one of his travels or on EBay but it is the kind of pipe that catches his attention. The grain on the bowl is a mix of flame, straight and swirled patterns. The stain on the bowl is dark from the top of the bowl down about ½ inch all around the bowl. It similar to other pipes from the 60s that had a bit of a flume finish on the top edges of the bowl. The plateau on the top of the rim and the end of the shank are blackened and the dark rough plateau in those spots works well with the reddish brown stain on the bowl. The pipe was dirty with a thick cake in the bowl and an overflow of lava on the rim top filling in much of the plateau top. The stem was dirty with some built up calcification on the tenon and around the rings on part way up the stem. This is visible in the photo below. The stem was heavily oxidized and was a brownish green colour. There was tooth chatter and tooth marks on both sides of the stem near the button. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he did his cleanup. The next photo shows the rim top. You can see the cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava and grime that filled in some of the ridges and grooves in the plateau.The grain on the bowl though dirty, showed promising patterns – straight grains and flame. There were also some swirls in the grain. The photos below show what the finish looked like and under the grime it looked good. There was a flaw in the grain on the right side of the bowl (shown in the second photo below). I have circled it in red. The stamping on the underside of the shank is very readable. It reads SON over DANMARK over the number 5. At this point I had no idea who the maker of the SON brand was. I would need to do a bit of research to figure out who the maker was. The style though was very 1960s era but I had no proof of that at the moment.Jeff took some photos of the insert stem showing the calcification on the tenon and in some of the rings on the vulcanite stem. The oxidation is also very visible in the vulcanite. You can also see the grime in the grooves of the plateau on the end of the shank.The photos of the stem show a lot of tooth chatter on both sides of the stems. There are also some tooth marks on the button top and bottom.I decided to do a bit of research on the brand to see who made the SON brand. I looked first on Pipephil’s site http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-s10.html. I quote from a note on the site next to photos of the stamping on the pipes of that brand.

“The brand’s name stems from a partnership between Soren Skovbo and Erik Nording. It lasted for two years in the mid-1960s before the partnership ended and the brand ceased. That dates this pipe to the 1960s.”

I looked on Pipedia for further information: https://pipedia.org/wiki/N%C3%B8rding. In the listing of pipemakers by country the entry for SON linked back to Nording pipes. I went to that page and read the following information. I have included a portion of that article below that gives the pertinent connections.

Long before he graduated from engineering school at age 25 he was a more experienced pipe smoker than most men his age. He frequented a pipe shop in Copenhagen and often had his pipes repaired there. “The guy who did the repairs in that shop” says Nording. “could see that it was a good business, and he wanted to start his own pipe making shop.” That repairman’s name was Skovbo. One day he approached the young Erik Nording with a proposition. “You are a blacksmith and an engineer,” Skovbo said to Nording. “You must know a lot about machinery. Can you make me some pipe making machinery?”

“I told him I could make anything he wanted,” says Nording. “But I didn’t have any money. So I borrowed S200 to buy some bearings, and I scoured junkyards for old broken machinery. I bought inexpensive housings and put in new bearings and new shafts.” It was Nording’s first contract and he wanted to get a good start, so he took great care in making the best possible tools for the pipe maker. “I made him a little polishing machine, and a lathe, and a sander for shaping pipes.” When he had everything put together and running perfectly, he called Skovbo and told him his machinery was finished.

“He came out and looked it over,” says Nording. “He turned on the electricity and watched everything run. He had some blocks of wood with him, and he tried everything out. Finally he looked at me and said, ‘It’s exactly as I wanted. Perfect. How much do I owe you?’ I told him the price—I don’t remember how much it was, but it was very inexpensive.”

Skovbo thought the price was very good. “That’s fantastic,” he said. “The price is right. Now I’ll start out for myself, make some pipes and when I earn some money I’ll pay you.”

It must have been a terrifically discouraging moment for a young man who had just completed what he thought was his first paying job in a new career. As Erik Nording now remembers that moment, sitting in a beautiful home that contains a pipe making shop large enough for 20 workers making tens of thousands of world-famous pipes, his face exhibits amusement at that memory. But back then, as a youngster trying to get a foothold in the world, his expression must have been more akin to horror.

“I told him that was not good enough,” says Nording. “I told him I was a poor man, I didn’t have any money, I needed to be paid for my work.” But Skovbo told Nording that he couldn’t pay him.

“Then I will keep the machinery,” said Nording. “I’ll make pipes myself.”

“You don’t know how to use this machinery,” said Skovbo. “You know nothing of pipe making.”

“Well, you’re not getting it. You should have told me before I did all this work that you didn’t have the money to pay for it.”

Skovbo thought it over. “Why don’t we start together?” he said.

That’s how Erik Nording became a pipe maker.

There are still a few of those early pipes around. “I saw some at a shop I visited a while back,” says Nording. “The shop owner offered to give them to me as mementos but I refused. They may be worth quite a bit of money to collectors. You never know”…

Those first pipes carried the name SON”, which was an acronym for the combination of the names Skovbo and Nording. Each of the partners borrowed $5,500 to get the business going, to rent a space and get the electricity turned on and to buy two bags of briar. Skovbo taught Nording how to make pipes, “but I didn’t have much time because I was still studying,” says Nording. “And I never got the chance to learn much from him, because shortly after we started he said that I would never be a pipe maker, he said that my hands had no skill for the craft, that I could never learn. I never understood how he could make such a judgment, but he did.”

To his credit, Nording shows no sign of triumph in the fact that he has proved Skovbo wrong by becoming one of the best-known pipe makers in the world. “He said that he would continue with SON pipes alone, that he no longer needed me,” says Nording. However, the partners had a legal agreement that whoever wished to dissolve the partnership first would leave the company to the remaining partner and be paid off without interest over five years. So Nording became the one to keep the company…

…Nording continued with SON pipes for only a year or two before changing the company name to Nording in the mid-’60s. “I figured nobody could ever take that name away from me,” he says. Nording’s were exclusively freehand shapes, graded from A, B, C, D, up to its highest grade, extra. Later an “F” grade was added—less expensive than the “A.”

Jeff worked his magic in cleaning up this pipe. He reamed it with a PipNet reamer and smoothed the walls of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim and shank with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to the oils and tars on the bowl, rim and shank. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. The cleaning of the stem raised more oxidation in the vulcanite. The tooth marks and chatter was clean but visible. I took the stem off and put it in a bath of Before & After Stem Deoxidizer and totally forgot to take pictures of the pipe before I started.I did however; remember to take photos of the bowl to show its condition before I started my work on it. While the stem sat in the deoxidizer bath I worked on the bowl. I decided to start by addressing the flaw and the nick in the briar on the right side of the bowl. I wiped down the area around the damaged and flawed spot with cotton pad and alcohol. I filled in the flaw with clear super glue. Once it had cured I sanded the filled in area with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repair and blend it into the rest of the briar. I decided to scrub the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I rubbed it into the briar with my finger working it into the plateau on the rim top and shank end. The product worked to lift the grime and debris out of the grooves of the briar. I rubbed it down and scrubbed it deeper into the grooves of the briar with a shoe brush. I polished the briar with a soft cloth to remove the balm from the briar. The photos below show what the pipe looked like after scrubbing the briar with the product. The balm helped to blend in the repaired area with the surrounding briar. The briar had a new life and the plateau on the rim top and shank end also looked alive. I set the bowl aside and turned back to the stem. I removed it from the soak in the Before & After Deoxidizer and wiped it down. I cleaned out the inside of the airway with alcohol to remove the product from the stem. I polished the stem with a soft cloth to remove all of the deoxidizer and give it a bit of a shine. It had removed much of the light oxidation though there were remnants in the rings and grooves above the tenon. There were still some spots of oxidation that needed to be addressed and the button needed to be reshaped on both sides to remove the tooth marks and chatter. The photos below show what it looked like at this point.I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to work on the tooth chatter and to reshape the edges and surface of the button.  I worked over the spots of oxidation on the flat portions and on the rings and grooves in the turned stem with the sandpaper at the same time to remove it from the surface of the hard rubber stem.I polished out the sanding scratches and marks in the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I brought it back to the table and sanded it with the final three 6000-12000 grit pads. After the final pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and worked the pipe over on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond to polish the bowl and shank. I used a gentle touch on the briar when I was buffing it so that the grooves of the rustication would not be filled in and make more work for me. I buffed the stem with a harder touch to raise the gloss on the rubber. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It looks better than it did in the beginning. It is a beautiful pipe. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 7 inches, Height: 3 1/4 inches, Diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Diameter of the tapered chamber at the top of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches. I will be adding this one to the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. It will make a fine addition to the rack. If you are interested email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

 

A Simple Restore – A Rich’s Cigar Store Italian Made Oom Paul


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on my work table is a nice looking Oom Paul sandblast that is stamped Rich’s Cigar Store on the underside of the shank and Italy below that next to the stem shank union. The pipe was in decent shape with some minor nicks on the outer edge of the bowl and some darkening in the bowl. I am not sure whether the bowl was even smoked at all as the darkening could well be a bowl coating. Either way it is either NOS (New Old Stock) or lightly smoked. The stem was lightly oxidized and had some price sticker residue on the underside near the button. The R stamp on the right side of the saddle stem is clean and undamaged. It would be an easy cleanup for Jeff and me when it finally arrived in Vancouver.

I did a bit of quick research and found that Rich’s Cigar Store is a Cigar and Magazine shop in Portland, Oregon. It is located at 820 SW Alder Street – Portland OR and can be reached by phone at 503.228.1700 or 800.669.1527. I looked up the website and scrolled through the various pages on the site (https://www.richscigarstore.com/).As I scrolled through the website I spent time on their history page. I read through the background material to the shop. I enjoyed reading about the company and how it came to be and what it looks like now. They call themselves, “Portland’s Mecca for smokers…”. They have existed for over 100 years. I quote in full from the History section of their website and have included a few photos as well. It is fascinating that the page does not give much history but more of a full blown advertisement for the shop.

“In our store located at 820 S.W. Alder St. in the heart of Downtown Portland, we have expanded our extensive inventory of over 2500 periodicals, 1500 facings of cigars, hundreds of pipes, and over 200 blends of Tobacco on display. Our increased humidor storage areas allow us to keep thousands of boxes of cigars on hand for immediate in-store purchases.

An essential element for pipe smoking is the right tobacco blend. With this in mind we have brought in a master tobacco blender with over 30 years experience. Has your favorite Tobacco become increasingly difficult to find? Then put him in use to create a new blend to suit your needs. He has already created a new blend to fill the void of a popular Balkan blend, and we age all blends so that their full richness and taste come through each time you light up a bowl. Click here to see our extensive custom tobacco blends.

Please call us at 800.699.1527 for further information on availability and prices, or e-mail us at info@richscigarstore.com. Our sales staff is happy to assist with recommendations, product information and alternatives to guide you with your purchases. They are not merely order takers, so please put them to use. This could be the most important service we offer.”

Jeff took some photos of the pipe when it arrived in Idaho before he cleaned it up. It was a beautiful full bent pipe with a nice tactile finish. The seller’s photos were very accurate and the wear on the pipe was visible around the out edge of the bowl. The fit of the stem to the pipe is very well done. It fit snug in the shank and tight against the shank end. The next photo shows the bowl and the inner and outer edge. The outer edge had some worn spots along the edges. The finish was worn but the briar was undamaged. The inner beveled edge is clean and undamaged.The next two photos show the stamping on the smooth underside of the shank. It is deeply stamped and very readable. The third photo shows that stamped R on the left side of the saddle stem is in excellent condition.The stem was lightly oxidized as mentioned above. There was some residue on the underside of the stem near the button. It was the rubberized glue from a price tag. When the tag was peeled from the stem it left behind the residue. I wonder if it was not from the price tag that was put on at Rich’s Cigar Shop in Portland when the pipe was first sold. This would also lend to the theory that the pipe was NOS. I would be able to prove that it was unsmoked more adequately once the pipe arrived in Vancouver and I had a chance to look at it. Jeff cleaned of the dust by a quick scrub with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush. He was able to get all of the grime off the sandblast finish – even in the nooks and crannies the dust came off. He rinsed the pipe in running water to remove the soap and dried the pipe off with a soft cloth. He soaked the stem in Oxyclean to raise the oxidation to the surface of the rubber. The bowl was clean inside as was the shank. The pipe was indeed unsmoked. It still had the original bowl coating intact and it was unblemished. I took photos of the pipe before I did the finishing touches on it. It had a great sandblast and the finish was very nice. What had appeared to be wear on the outer edge of the rim must have been dust in the grooves of the finish. When Jeff scrubbed the pipe the marks disappeared and the rim looked very good. Other than the stem oxidation the pipe looked new. The close up photo shows the rim and bowl. I also included photos of the stem to show its condition as well – no tooth chatter or marks. All that was present was light oxidation of the rubber.I put the stem in a bath of Before & After Stem Deoxidizer to soak while I worked on the bowl. I figured it would not take to long as it was not badly oxidized. I also put a second more oxidized stem in at the same time.I turned my attention back to the bowl or stummel to finish it while the stem soaked. I scrubbed the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm to enliven and deep clean the sandblast finish. I worked it into the grain with my finger and a tooth brush. I rubbed it in and then buffed it with a horsehair bristle shoe brush. I put aside the bowl and turned back to the stem. I removed it from the deoxidizer soak and dried it off with a cloth. I rubbed off the remaining oxidation and then cleaned out the airway with alcohol and pipe cleaners. The stem looked really good at this point. It would not take too much work to bring it back to a rich shine. I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I brought it back to the table and sanded it with the final three 6000-12000 grit pads. After the final pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and worked the pipe over on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond to polish the bowl and shank. I used a gentle touch on the briar when I was buffing it so that the nooks and crannies of the sandblast finish would not be filled in and make more work for me. I buffed the stem with a harder touch to raise the gloss on the rubber. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The oxidation and dust from sitting on a shelf somewhere was gone and the pipe looks like new again – very fitting for a unsmoked, NOS pipe. It is truly a beautiful pipe. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 5 inches, Height: 2 inches, Diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inch, Diameter of the chamber: 3/4 inches. I will be adding this one to the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding this NOS, unsmoked pipe to your collection. It will make a fine addition to the rack. If you are interested email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

 

Refreshing a Damaged CAO Lattice Meerschaum Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

We probably paid too much for this beautiful meerschaum pipe but the shape and the carving are so unique that we had to buy it. It is made by CAO and is a shape I would call a Grecian urn. It has lattice carving around the bowl side and the rim is smooth. The shank has a pattern that looks a lot like scales and swirls. There was some very nice colouring happening on the shank and lightly on the bowl sides and rim. There was a cake in the bowl and some lava overflow on the rim top. There were some missing separators between two of the lattice windows but otherwise the bowl was undamaged. The stem was Lucite and had a round brass CAO logo on the top left side of the saddle. The stem had metallic gold flecks mixed in with the Lucite so that it had a natural sparkle to the reddish amberlike stem. There were not any tooth marks or dents on the stem surface but there were small scratches in the Lucite. There was also some wear and tear to the sharp edge of the button that would need to be cleaned up. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started the cleanup. The next series of close up photos show the condition of the bowl and rim and the overall condition of the bowl sides. You can see the bowl and cake with the overflow of lava on the rim top. There is also some fuzz that has attached to the cake. It was a dirty bowl. The sides of the bowl look very good other than the damage to the separators between three of the tear drops in the lattice work on the front of the bowl. The second, third and fourth photos below show the damaged portion circled in red. Other than that damage to the front of the bowl the rest of the carving is in excellent condition. The pipe, though imperfect will nonetheless be a beautiful addition to someone’s collection. They will just have to overlook the damaged area and enjoy the pipe.The connector between the shank and stem is a push tenon. There is a Delrin insert in the shank of the pipe and a Delrin tenon threaded into the end of the stem. It is dirty and stained but is undamaged.The round brass logo is dirty but it is undamaged. It is inset into the left topside of the saddle stem. The surrounding stem is quite dirty but there is no damage.The next two photos show the condition of the top and underside of the stem. You can see the metallic sparkles in the saddle portion and the scratches in the Lucite.Jeff carefully reamed out the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and took it back to the bare meerschaum walls. He scrubbed the rim top and scraped off the lava on the surface with a knife. He carefully cleaned the exterior of the bowl with a damp cloth to avoid further damage to the front of the bowl. He cleaned out the shank and airway in the bowl and stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He cleaned out the recessed area around the inset tenon in the stem with alcohol and cotton swabs. He washed the exterior of the stem with clean water. I took photos of the pipe when I brought it to my work table to show the condition of the pipe after Jeff’s work and before I polished it. I took a photo of the rim top to show how well it cleaned up. Jeff did a great job getting rid of the lava overflow. I also took a photo of the cleaned up damaged area of the bowl.The stem cleaned up really nicely. The gold flecks in the Lucite really stand out now and the gold/brass logo inset looks really good now. The stem should polish up nicely.The mortise insert in the shank had a ragged edge to it. I used a sharp knife and a pen knife to clean up the ragged end. I wanted a smooth fit in the shank. Once I had finished that part of the shank and sanded it down I worked on polishing the rim and ring on the top of the bowl. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim down after each pad with a damp cotton pad. I polished out the scratches and marks in the metallic Lucite stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cotton pad after each sanding pad. I lightly buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. After the final pad I wiped it down with a damp pad and rubbed it down with a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully worked the pipe on the buffing wheel with a clean pad. I used a gentle touch on both the meerschaum and the Lucite stem so as not to damage either of them. I gave the meerschaum bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed it with a shoe brush and a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. Even with the damaged area on the front of the bowl it still looks better than it did in the beginning. The unique shape and lattice work carving work together to make this a beautiful pipe. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inch, Diameter of the chamber: 3/4 inches. I will be adding this one to the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. It will make a fine addition to the rack. If you are interested email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

Restoring a Thorburn Clark Rusticated Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

This is another pipe from one of the eBay sellers that I follow and check out their shops regularly. Yet again this favourite seller in England put up a pipe that I really like. I don’t have any idea how many of them I have purchased from him but this one caught my eye. This one is a small rusticated bent billiard that is another featherweight. Its diminutive size and delicate shape are a lot like the Orlik Dugout I bought from him as well. The rusticated finish has a textured and almost sandblast look to it. The contrast of dark and medium brown stains really worked well with the shape of the pipe. The pipe was stamped in a smooth box on the underside of the shank and reads THORBURN CLARK over MANCHESTER with the letter R at the shank end of the smooth portion. The photos below are the seller’s photos. They show the overall condition of the pipe and what it was that caught my eye. I looked up the brand on Pipephil’s site – http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-t5.html. I found out that the brand was carved by a tobacconist in Manchester, England. The owner of the shop used to carve his own pipes. The shop closed in the 1970s. I clipped the pertinent section from the site and included it below. The stamping on the stem of the one I have is the same as the pipe in the second photo below.I did some more digging into the brand to see what I could find out and found a link to a blog about the brand. I quote in part from the blog: https://pipesmokersjournal.wordpress.com/tag/thorburn-clark/

“This is an intriguing pipe, and a little piece of obscure British pipe making history. Thorburn Clark was, from what I can deduce, from my extensive online Sherlocking, Manchester-based tobacconists from the 1920s until the 1980s/90s. Behind their shop was a small pipe workshop, where a tiny workforce of craftsmen toiled to create a range of beautiful handmade pipes, each stamped upon the stem with their distinctive logo of an intertwining T and C.”

Another link brought a bit more information and some confirmation to the puzzle http://pipesmokerunlimited.com/archive/index.php/t-3749.html

“Thorburn Clark was a tobacconist based in Bridge Street, Manchester, a side street off Deansgate for those who know the area. Unlike most outlets of its kind, which shipped in pipes from outside makers and then branded them with the shop name, it seems that they had a small workshop attached to the premises where they crafted their own pipes.”

It was interesting to know that the pipe I had in hand was a pipe shop made pipe that came from Manchester. It was made in the small workshop in the back of the shop. I had learned that there were several carvers that worked there so I would not be able to know who made it. The pipe was obviously carved between the 1920s and the time the shop closed in the 1970s. Judging from the shape of the pipe and stem and the fact that it came with the Orlik made me put its date in the late 20s to early 30s.

I had the seller ship this pipe with the Orlik Dugout. When the pipes arrived I brought them to my worktable. I completed work on the Dugout then turned my attention to this pipe. I took photos of it to show its condition before I began to work on it. The finish looked to be in good repair under the grime and dust that was in the grooves of the rustication. The rim top was covered with lava that had overflowed from the cake in the bowl. The cake was quite thick and the bowl choked with carbon. The packing material from the shipping box was jammed into the bowl. The stem was lightly oxidized and it still bore the TC stamp on the left side. The fit of the stem to the shank was tight and it did not sit against the shank end. That told me that the interior of the shank must be quite dirty with tars and oils. I wonder if both of these pipes came from the same pipeman. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the thickness of the cake in the bowl and overflow of lava on the rim. There were some worn spots on the rim where the finish was damaged. It looked like the inner and outer edges of the bowl were undamaged but I would know for sure once I had reamed it.While the stem was lightly oxidized the only damage to it was on the top and underside edge of the button and some light tooth chatter on both sides. The TC stamp was readable and the stamping was deep enough to be cleaned without damage.I reamed the bowl with the smallest cutting head on the PipNet pipe reamer. I took the cake slowly back to the bare briar. I wanted to see if there was cracking in the inside of the bowl. The cake was thick and hard so it took some steady and careful work to cut the cake back. I touched up the reaming of the bowl with t a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Reaming Knife. I took what remained of the cake back to smooth, bare walls. I used a brass bristle wire brush to loosen the debris from the rim top. It was thick enough that it would take some work to get it off and clean out the grooves of the rustication.I scrubbed the briar with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the dust and grime on the surface of the bowl and the grit that I had loosened on the rim top. I rinsed the bowl under warm water to remove the dust and scrubbed it with the brush under water. The results are shown in the photo below.I used a finer bristle brass brush to work over the grooves on the rim top. This extra step took more of the grime off the surface and left the rim top very clean.I cleaned out the inside of the shank with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol to remove all of the tars and oils on the inside walls of the mortise. I cleaned out the airways in the shank and in the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol.I put the stem in a soak of Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer. I left it to soak for several hours while I worked on the bowl.I turned my attention back to the bowl. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. The product worked to lift the grime and debris out of the grooves of the briar. I rubbed it down and scrubbed it deeper into the grooves of the briar with a shoe brush. I polished the briar with a soft cloth to remove the balm from the briar. I took a photo of the stamping on the shank because it was so clear and with the balm really stood out.I touched up the worn spots on the rim top and edge with a dark brown stain pen. I buffed the rim top with a soft cloth to even out the stain coverage.I rubbed the bowl down with several coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a shoe brush. The briar began to take on rich warmth. The feel of the bowl in the hand was comfortable and tactile. I think this would be a good smoking pipe. I set the bowl aside and turned back to the stem. I removed it from the soak in the Before & After Deoxidizer and wiped it down. I cleaned out the inside of the airway with alcohol to remove the product from the stem. I polished the stem with a soft cloth to remove all of the deoxidizer and give it a bit of a shine. It had removed much of the light oxidation and left the stamping intact on the stem side. There was still some spots of oxidation that needed to be addressed and the button needed to be reshaped on both sides. The photos below show what it looked like at this point.I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to work on the tooth chatter and to reshape the edge and surface of the button.  I worked over the spots of oxidation with the sandpaper at the same time to remove it from the surface of the hard rubber stem.I polished out the sanding scratches and marks in the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I brought it back to the table and sanded it with the final three 6000-12000 grit pads. After the final pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and worked the pipe over on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond to polish the bowl and shank. I used a gentle touch on the briar when I was buffing it so that the grooves of the rustication would not be filled in and make more work for me. I buffed the stem with a harder touch to raise the gloss on the rubber. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It looks better than it did in the beginning. It is a beautiful pipe. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Diameter of the bowl: 1 inch, Diameter of the chamber: 5/8 inches. I will be adding this one to the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. It will make a fine addition to the rack. If you are interested email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.