Tag Archives: Shalom Pipe Factory Israel

Cleaning up a Shalom Israel Pencil Shank Bing Crosby


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I have chosen is a pencil shank Bing Crosby like Billiard that was very dirty and worn. There was grime ground into the finish around the bowl sides and rim top. The medium brown stain was pretty but the grime obscured real look of the grain. This one also came to me in a box of parts that were part of an estate I purchased here in Vancouver. It was stamped on the sides of the shank. The stamping was very readable. It read Shalom in script on the left side mid shank. On the right side it is stamped Briar Israel in a rugby ball shaped COM stamp. The finish had a coat of varnish over the bowl that was thick and shiny. It was peeling on the rim top and heel of the bowl as well in some spots on the front of the bowl. There were a few small fills and pits in the briar but none were obnoxious. There was a moderate cake in the bowl and an overflow of lava on the rim top. The stem had light tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside on and near the button. I took photos of the pipe before I started my cleanup work. They tell the story and give a glimpse of the promise that I see in this pipe.  I took photos of the rim top and stem to show the condition of the bowl and stem. The interior the bowl had a moderate cake that overflowed like lava onto the rim top. The stem has light tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button.     I took photos of the sides of the shank to show the stamping. The stamping is very readable in the photos below and is as noted above.       I took the stem off the shank and took a photo. The stem has a long spiral stinger apparatus that is pressure fit into the tenon. It really constricts the air flow so I will leave it out once restored and if someone wants it they can reinsert it.I am including the information from Pipedia’s article on Shalom Pipe Factory pipes. It is a great read in terms of the history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Shalom_Pipe_Factory). I have included a bit of the pertinent history here.

Not much is known about Israel’s sole pipe factory though it’s reported to have operated quite successfully on international markets.

Beside the brand “Shalom” the mainstay brand was Alpha – especially well known in the USA. Alpha was popular for a range of fresh and unusual shapes. Series (afaik): Caprice (s), Citation (s), Classic (b), Pedestal (s), Regent, Region (b), Rex (s). (1)

Alpha also produced at least one of its Citation forms for Carey’s “Magic Inch” series.

Mentioned in context with Shalom Pipe Factory was a Danish pipemaker named ‘Muki Liebermann’, who later lived and worked in the USA. Muki is known for his unique briar bending technique and his original shapes that gave inspiration to many of the most praised Danish pipemakers.

Shalom was taken over by Robert L. Marx of New York City, later Sparta, NC, then of Mastercraft. Mastercraft continued the Alpha pipes introducing new lines.

The article also included a flyer page on the brand that gave some more helpful information (https://pipedia.org/wiki/File:ShalomAlpha.jpg). The page came courtesy of Doug Valitchka.Now it was time to work on the pipe. I reamed the moderate cake back with a PipNet pipe reamer using the smallest cutting head on this petite pipe. The cake was thick and crumbly and came out easily. I followed that by cleaning up the remnants of cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and finished by sanding the chamber walls with a piece of dowel wrapped with 220 grit sandpaper. I scraped the lava off the rim top with the Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. Along with the lava some of the varnish on the rim top came off as well. I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to clean up the grime in the finish. I rinsed off the debris and the soap with running water and dried the pipe off with a soft towel. I wiped the varnish coat off the bowl with acetone to remove the peeling spots and to have a look at what was underneath the shiny polish. It came off easily. There were a few small fill that showed up but also some amazing grain came up. With the exterior clean it was time to deal with the interior. I scrubbed out the shank and the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pads with a damp cloth.   I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. With that done the bowl was finished other than a final buffing. I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I used a lighter to heat up the gunk holding the stinger in the tenon. I wiggled it out of place with a pair of pliers.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine.   I am excited to finish this pencil shank Shalom Pipe Factory Israel Briar Bing Crosby. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and followed that with a quick hand buff with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like grain popping through on the bowl sides and rim top. Added to that the polished black vulcanite stem is a great contrast of colour. This light weight Shalom Bing Crosby style pipe is a great looking pipe and it feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 5/8 of an inch. It is a beautiful pipe. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman. 

Refurbishing a Tired Looking Oom Paul from Steve’s Grab Box


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Steve, my friend and mentor, had sent me a pipe lot of 15 pipes for restoration. These assorted pipes were sent to me with an intent that these would provide me with an opportunity to further hone my skills and gain experience in tackling varied issues that one may come across during restoration. Each of these pipes has its own set of issues to address and I look forward to work on each one of this pipe lot. Here is the picture of the pipes as I received it, less the one marked with a cross in red which is a Dunhill Root and restored by Steve for my personal collection.I had worked on a no name straight billiard (marked number 1) from this lot and it turned out to be a beautiful pipe. The next pipe from this lot that I selected to work on is an Oom Paul and is marked with a yellow arrow and numeral 2.This pipe has a nice heft to it and the classic Oom Paul shape lends itself to be clenched comfortably while having your hands free. The stummel is combination of islands of smooth surface formed due to stitches-like rustications crisscrossing the length and breadth of the stummel. It is stamped on the left side of the shank as “Oom Paul” in block capital, increasing in letter size towards the shank end. On the bottom of the shank and very close to the shank end it is stamped as “Israel” in sentence case. There is no stamping on the vulcanite full bent stem.This is the first pipe that I am working on coming from Israel and so to learn more about it, I visited pipedia.org. I searched the link for Israel in Pipe Brands/ Makers and found that Israel has only one pipe factory, The Shalom Pipe factory. Thus it is highly probable that this pipe too came from this factory. No other information was available on the internet that I could research. It does appear to be an ol’ timer though.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
There is a thick layer of cake in the huge chamber pointing to the fact that this was the previous owner’s favorite pipe. The stitch-like rustications on the rim top surface are filled with dust and dirt and yes, surprisingly without overflowing lava accumulation. The inner and outer rim edges are in decent shape. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be only ascertained once the cake has been taken down to bare briar. Thankfully, the chamber has very mild odor which should be eliminated once the chamber and shank internals have been cleaned.The stummel is covered in dirt and grime that gives it a dull and tired appearance. The large smooth paneled surface on the right side of the stummel is considerably darker in appearance as compared to the right side. However, the entire stummel has a solid feel to it. The stitch-like rustications that crisscross the entire stummel are filled with dust and dirt and appear lighter than the smooth surfaces. There are patches of dried oils and grime which has attracted a lot of dust. Through all this dirt and grime, beautiful Bird’s eye and cross grains peek out from the smooth surface. Once the stummel is cleaned and polished, these grains will pop out in all their refined glory. All in all as it stands now, this is one dull and tired looking stummel that requires a lot of TLC!! The mortise has a sump at the bottom that is similar to the Peterson’s System pipes, with the opening for the draught hole well above this sump. The mortise and the sump are clogged with oils and tars. This will need to be thoroughly cleaned.The stem, to put it mildly, is a mess!! Apart from being heavily oxidized, it has deep bite marks on both upper and lower stem surface. Heavy tooth chatter is seen all over the bite zone on both sides of the stem surface. The button has been badly chewed with deep tooth indentations on both sides of the stem. The aluminum stinger is surrounded by a thick layer of accumulated dried oils and tars and could not be dislodged from the tenon end. The tenon end and slot shows heavy accumulation of gunk, making air flow very laborious. All these issues need to be addressed. INITIAL CLEANING BY ABHA……….
Ever since we had an on-the-job learning on initial cleaning and restoration when Jeff and Steve visited us, Abha is enjoying her part of work in restoring pipes (read that as initial cleaning) and is getting better and faster in her chosen field. She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She scrubbed out the dried oils, tars and gunk from the mortise with a fabricated dental spatula and further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

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

ONCE THE PIPE IS ON MY WORK TABLE……
The cleaned up pipes presents a very clear picture of what needs to be done to restore this pipe to a pristine and smokable condition. I really cannot thank Abha, my wife, enough for all the help and support that she extends me in my pursuance of this hobby. A clean pipe also helps in clearly identifying the work that would be required to restore a pipe. The pictures shows the condition of the pipe when it reached me after being cleaned. The stummel is nice and clean with the stitch-like rustications now appearing considerably lighter than the rest of the stummel surface. With the dirt and dust that covered the surface cleaned out, the smooth surfaces on the stummel presents an array of beautiful cross and Bird’s eye grains. The smooth surface on right side of the stummel is considerably darker (circled in red) than the left and will need to be examined closely. However, the stummel is solid to the touch, thereby ruling out a total burn out. I am sanguine that after a nice polish with micromesh pads followed by further wax polish, the stummel would look beautiful and stately. The large deep chamber is nice clean and odorless with minor heat fissures all around the walls. These fissures on the right side (marked in red circle) are likely to be more severe as the outer surface is considerably darkened than the left side of the stummel. I need to explore these heat fissures further to determine the extent of the depth of these fissures. However, I am certain that these are not an all out burn through, but mostly like the beginnings of one. The mortise and sump is spotlessly clean, thanks to a stupendous job done by Abha. As spelled out in my initial appreciation, prima facie it is the stem that has suffered the most damage at the hands of the previous owner. I say prima facie since at this stage, I am not sure about the hidden gremlins in the form of heat fissures which necessitates detailed exploration. The bite zone is peppered with tooth chatter and deep tooth indentations on both sides of the stem. The buttons on both the sides are badly deformed with deep bite marks and signs of presence of deep seated oxidation. I would need to sharpen the edges of the buttons also. I intend to first raise these indentations to the surface by heating and sanding followed by filling it with a mix of activated charcoal and superglue. By sanding to even out the stem fill and remove the deeper oxidation followed by micromesh polishing cycle should add a nice shine to the stem. The aluminum stinger, tenon and slot are nice and clean. THE PROCESS
Firstly, I heat the surface of the stem with the flame of a lighter to raise the tooth indentations to the surface and follow it up with a sanding with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. This helped to even out the raised surface, address the tooth chatter and also remove the deep seated oxidation to some extent. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove the raised oxidation and the resulting sanding dust. However, the tooth indentations are still prominent. A bite through on the top stem surface is reveled which extends in to the stem airway. I need to address this issue. After this abrasive sanding and alcohol wipe, the stem appears dried out and so I apply a small quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil to hydrate it.To address the deep tooth marks in the bite zone, button surface and the bite through on the top stem surface, I decided to use a mix of activated charcoal and CA superglue and apply it over the damaged areas. But before that, I insert a regular pipe cleaner smeared in petroleum jelly in to the stem air way. This prevents the mix from seeping in to the air way and blocking it when hardened. I apply a generous coat of the above mix over the damaged surface, including the buttons on either sides of the stem and set it aside overnight to cure. Next, while the stem fills are curing, I sand the entire stummel surface with a piece of 220 grit sand paper. I also work the inner rim edge with the sandpaper to even out the rim edge. This sanding helps in addressing all the minor dents, if any, from the surface while providing a smooth surface for the next stage which is polishing cycle using complete set of micromesh pads. I was especially very careful while sanding the side and bottom of the shank around the stampings, as it is very easy to miss out the stamp and one swipe of the sand paper is enough to ruin/ damage the stampings and it is the stampings on any pipe that I always strive to preserve. The next afternoon, I work the stem as the fills had hardened nicely. With a flat head needle file, I sand these fills to achieve a rough match. I further fine tuned the match by sanding the filled area with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger. I followed it up by sanding the entire stem surface using 400, 600 and 800 grit sand papers. This serves to remove the deep seated oxidation and also reduces the sanding marks of the more abrasive sand papers. I also sharpened the button edges with a flat head needle file and the sand papers. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the oxidation and sanding dust from the surface. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil over the stem and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite.I followed up the sanding regime with micromesh polishing to bring a shine on the stem surface. Since my hand held rotary tool is out for repairs, I could not continue with my experimentation on use of Red Tripoli and White Diamond during the polishing regime. I wet sand the stem with 1500 to 12000 girt micromesh pads. I rub a small quantity of olive oil in to the stem surface to hydrate it and set it aside. The stem looks nice and shinning black.Now that the stem repairs are nearly complete save for final polish with Blue diamond and wax, I could now move ahead with polishing the stummel. To remove the sanding marks and bring a deeper shine, I polished the stummel with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 pads. I wiped the surface with a soft cloth at the end of the micromesh cycle. The stummel looks amazing with a deep dark maroon coloration and shine with beautiful grains popping over the stummel surface. The only aspect that stood out like a sore thumb was the light brown surfaces within the stitch-like rustications and the sand dust of micromesh pad has not helped, rather worsened the look. I carefully wipe the rustications with a moistened q-tip. Next, I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. I was diligent while applying the balm in to the stitch-like rustication as this may darken the inside of the rustications. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful darkened grain patterns on full display. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. However, my attempt at darkening the insides of the rustications was met with limited success and a few sore spots still stand out. I decided to darken the insides of the stitch-like rustications by using a mahogany stain pen. I diligently ran the stain pen through each and every stitch-like rustication. It was a painstaking work but I am very happy with the results. Now, on to the home stretch!! I very excited to see the result of the final polishing cycle with Blue Diamond and carnauba wax.

To apply the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax had been polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks fantastic, the beauty of which is accentuated by its classic shape, size and feel in the mouth. This pipe is all set for a new home and will definitely provide the new owner pipe man/ lady hours of blissful smoke. P.S. At this point, I always share pictures of the completed pipe with Abha, my wife just so she can appreciate the end results of all her hard work put in during her initial cleaning. She loved the natural deep dark brown coloration taken by the stummel. However, she reminded me that I had not addressed the issue of heat fissures in the walls of the chamber which she had brought to my notice.

Hell!!! How did I miss out on this vital functional aspect of a pipe, but miss out, I did!! Thus, I set about addressing this issue.

First and foremost, I took some real close ups of the heat fissures on the right side of the walls. I could definitely see dried and burnt briar in these fissures even though they appeared insignificant. But the darkened stummel surface on the right side pointed to otherwise. To further determine the extent of depth and width of these heat fissures, with a sharp dental probe I scraped out the dead and burnt briar from within these fissures. As anticipated, these fissures were not very deep but deep enough to lead to a burn out sooner than later. Furthermore, my probing the left side fissures also revealed deeper than appearing fissures. This important functional aspect needs to be addressed. I decided to use a coat of JB Weld first followed by a bowl coat of activated charcoal and yogurt. The coat of JB Weld would protect the briar from coming in to direct contact with the burning tobacco while the charcoal and yogurt would insulate the JB Weld from direct contact with the lit tobacco while accelerating the formation of cake which subsequently adds a further protective layer. This was essential for furthering the briar life while providing a lifetime of contentment to the new pipe man/ lady. Now, JB Weld comes in two parts – the ‘Steel’ and the ‘Hardener’ in separate tubes.  As per the directions both are to be mixed in 1:1 ratio and that one has about 4 minutes before the mixture sets.  Before applying the mixture, I insert a petroleum jelly coated pipe cleaner through draught hole to prevent the draught from being smeared with the mix and blocking it when the mix is hardened. I mix JB Weld at 50/50 (eyeballing the quantities, of course) on an index card, mix it well, and apply it as evenly as possible over the complete chamber wall with a sliver of a bamboo frond – it was a bit messy, but mission accomplished successfully.  I set the stummel aside and let it cure overnight.The next afternoon, the mix had hardened and I realized how unevenly the mix was applied!! I did not want the layer of the mix to be too thick, but only as a thin layer. I mounted a 180 grit sanding drum on to my hand held rotary tool and carefully sand down the hardened mix to an acceptable thickness. To be honest, I do not know of any scientific method to determine the thickness and neither do I know of any instrument that would help me in doing so, it was just by touch and feel. Once satisfied, I cleaned the chamber of all the sanding dust and readied it for the next coat of activated charcoal and yogurt.Next, I mixed activated charcoal and yogurt to a thick consistency, neither too runny that it would run down the surface nor too thick that it would not spread out evenly. Again, this was all by feel!! Once I was satisfied with the consistency, I applied it evenly over the layer of JB Weld mixture and set it aside to dry out naturally. Once the bowl coat had dried out and hardened, I cleaned the rim top off all the dust and charcoal yogurt mix with a q-tip. I wiped the stummel with a clean soft cotton cloth and rubbed a small quantity of balm to enliven the briar and hand buffed the stummel with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine.

The pipe is now truly ready for a long hiatus with a new piper, providing years of service in future. I cannot thank Abha enough for reminding me to address this most important functional aspect.

Thank you all for reading through this longish write up and for the valuable time you have invested in doing so. If any reader is interested in enjoying this pipe as his/ her rotation pipe, feel free to let us know.

Refreshing a Mastersen Burl Briar Made in France Freehand


Blog by Dal Stanton

My first restoration project of the new year is on my work table!  After visiting family in the US for the holidays, and putting in some overdue ‘Grandpa time’, I’m glad to be back to Sofia, Bulgaria, in our 10th floor flat of a formerly Communist Block apartment building.  I acquired the Mastersen Freehand before me in the Lot of 66 some time ago – an acquisition off eBay that has produced many newly commissioned pipes for stewards around the globe.  And what’s great about this is not only that these pipes were placed in the hands of stewards but that each pipe has benefited the work we do here in Bulgaria with the foundation, Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  I’m thankful for those pipe men and women who have commissioned the restoration of these pipes from the For ‘’Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection on the ThePipeSteward website.  This is where Paul debated over 4 pipes and in the end commissioned two pipes, this Mastersen Freehand and a very nice Kaywoodie Prime Grain Imported Briar ‘Fancy’ Bulldog, which will be next in the queue.  Now on my worktable, this is what got Paul’s attention. The nomenclature situated on the underside of the shank is worn and thin.  The stamp is MASTERSEN [over] BURL BRIAR [over] MADE IN FRANCE.  Pipedia’s information about Mastersen shows that it was a name originally belonging to the Shalom Pipe Co. of Israel.  The Pipedia article goes on to say, “Shalom was taken over by Robert L. Marx of New York City, later Sparta, NC, then of Mastercraft.”  Mastersen is mentioned also in the Pipedia description of Mastercraft, which was cited from a very interesting 2008 thread devoted to Dr. Grabow pipes from Tapatalk.com – the specific thread was named, Mastercraft Pipes, Grabow Parallel Universe.  The main contributor was Ted, who from 1974 till 1984 had several positions with Mastercraft including Executive Vice President.  Ted’s reminiscences were fun to read, but my main interest was to understand better what happened with the name Mastersen.  Mastersen’s original stamping with the Shalom Pipe Co., would be marked with Israel as the Country of Manufacturing (COM).  Yet, the Mastersen on my table shows a French COM.  Ted’s reflections on those years with the relationship of Mastercraft, the subsequent owner of the Mastersen name, gave some clues.  This short statement was helpful describing Mastercraft’s acquisition of pipes for sale:

It doesn’t appear it was ever a manufacturer and bought pipes from multiple factories — mostly French and English…. Freehand, For M/C Andersen and (a few Mastersen) ….

My guess based upon this scant information is that the original Shalom Mastersen Freehand style was later manufactured in France under Mastercraft ownership (1970s to 1980s?).  The style of the pipe before me is consistent with Pipephil’s example of the Mastersen Freehand produced in Israel.An interesting characteristic of this Freehand is it size.  For a Freehand it could be described as diminutive.  The length is 5 inches, height: 2 inches at the crest, plateau width: 1 1/2 inches, chamber width: 1 inch and chamber depth: 1 1/2 inches (at the middle of the slanted plateau).  I found this description of a similar Mastersen with an Israel COM described for sale on SmokingPipes.com.  Christophor Huff’s description nailed the Mastersen on my worktable as well regarding it size yet plenty of room for tobacco:The condition of the Mastersen on my worktable is good but needs the normal cleaning.  The plateau has minor darkening and the chamber has a very light cake.  I detect one small divot on the right side of the shank that needs attention.  Minor tooth chatter is evident on the bit and some oxidation in the stem.  Perhaps the most noticeable issue is the fancy stem fit – it is quite loose.  The tenon will need to be expanded to make the army style pressure fit snugger.

To begin the restoration of the Mastersen, I run some pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95% through the fancy bent stem to clean the airway and then place it in a bath of Before & After Deoxidizer.  It joins a few other pipes and their stems that are in queue for restoration.  After several hours soaking, I fish out the Mastersen’s stem and drain the Deoxidizer fluid.  I then wipe off the stem removing much oxidation using a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  I also run pipe cleaners through the airway to remove Deoxidizer from the internals.  After wiping with alcohol, I then apply paraffin oil (a mineral oil) to condition the vulcanite and set the stem aside.  The Before & After did a good job with the oxidation. The pictures show the progress. Turning now to the Freehand bowl, I begin the cleaning process my reaming the chamber using the Pipnet Reaming Kit.  I use the two smaller blade heads of four and then quickly remove the remaining carbon using the Savinelli Fitsall Tool.  I sand the chamber wrapping 240 grit paper around a Sharpie pen and then wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to clear out the remaining carbon dust.  The chamber looks good except that I detect a pit near the top of the chamber – just below the plateau.  I take a couple pictures to get a close look.  My thoughts are that this blemish in the briar is too high to be impacted in a large way by the fire in the chamber.  Just to be on the safe side of things, I will fill it, but will CA do the job, or do I need to apply a touch of the heat resistant J-B Weld putty since it is in the chamber?  I’ll give some thought to this and I decide to send a note to Steve with all his rebornpipes experience to get his input.  The pictures show the progress. From the chamber, I now clean the externals using undiluted Murphy’s Soap.  I scrub with cotton pads on the smooth briar and utilize a bristled tooth brush to clean the plateau – getting into the crevices. The cleaning reveals a very nice piece of briar.  The dimple on the bowl’s left side is attractive as it is in relief to the smooth briar.  Three pictures before and two after the cleaning showing the lightening of the surface. Now to the internals using pipe cleaners and cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 95%.  It did not take too much, and buds and pipe cleaners were coming out clean.Turning now to the stem, the Before & After Deoxidation soak did a good job.  The upper bit has some bite compressions and chatter on both upper and lower.  The button lip has some biting as well.  I start passively by using the heating method to expand the vulcanite compressions.  Using a Bic lighter, I paint the upper- and lower-bit areas.  As the vulcanite heats, physics takes over – it expands and naturally reclaims its original shaping – or at least partially.  This method works well, and I follow easily with sanding out the remaining tooth damage using 240 and then 470 grit papers.  I took before and after pictures and I’ll let you be the judge how effective the heating method often is.

Upper, before and after: I follow the bit sanding by wet sanding the entire stem with 600 grit paper followed by 0000 steel wool.Giving the stem a respite, I look again to the pits that need repair on the stummel.  A very small pit on the right side of the stummel and the larger pit on the upper area of the chamber – just under the edge of the plateau.  After getting a note back from Steve with his input, I will use briar dust and CA glue putty to fill the pits in both places.  With the upper chamber fill, I will follow this later by applying a coat of activated charcoal and sour cream mix to the entire chamber.  This will protect the fill as well as encourage the growth of a new protective cake.  I take a few pictures to get a close-up of each pit and then I mix a batch of briar dust and CA glue.  I mix it gradually until the mixture reaches a thickness or viscosity like molasses.  I then use a tooth pick as a trowel and apply the filler to the pits.  For the upper chamber pit, I give the area an extra tamping to assure that the cavity is filled.  I put the stummel aside for the night, allowing the briar dust putty to fully cure.  The pictures show the process. The next morning, before the demands of the day come, I return to the stummel with the briar dust patches fully cured.  I use a flat needle file and begin removing the excess filler on the smaller patch.  I use the file until nearly to the briar surface then I switch to sanding with a piece of 240 grit paper bringing the patch down flush with the briar surface.  I do the same with the larger fill in the upper chamber, except using a half-rounded needle file I’m able to sand with the contour of the chamber.  I then finish the upper chamber sanding by using 240 grit paper wrapped around a Sharpie pen.  I like the results. With the stummel repair completed, I turn to the revitalization of the fancy stem by wet sanding with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 and then dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  I apply Obsidian Oil to the stem between each set of three pads to enrich the vulcanite.  I love the pop of that freshly sanded vulcanite – it looks great! Now we’re close to the homestretch.  Using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stummel.  Following this I dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  I enjoy watching the grain surfacing through the micromesh process. I had written Steve before to get his input regarding the chamber pit repair.  The other question I asked was regarding darkening the plateau or leaving it natural and allowing the natural forces of burning tobacco and lava to color the rim surface? His advice was good and something I try to do when restoring pipes that have nomenclature and historical markers.  It is good to restore pipes according to the original intent when the pipe was manufactured.  Most of the examples of Mastersen pipes I have seen online predate the acquisition of the Shalom Pipe Co., by Mastercraft which were manufactured in Israel.  I’ve seen both natural and darkened plateaus – here are a few examples I found.It is difficult to tell by looking at the original picture I took of the plateau before starting the restoration to know what the original was – yet, if I had to guess, originally the inner part of the plateau was darkened some, but not fully.  That is, much natural briar was exposed.  The second picture is the current status of the plateau during this restoration process. Well, decision time has come and gone.  Using a black Sharpie Pen I introduce highlights to the plateau by coloring the crevices.  I start conservatively to get a feel for how it’s looking.  I begin with a fine point Sharpie to draw down the narrow crevices then I use a larger one to stroke the larger areas. After applying what looks like an adequate amount of black, I then fan wipe the rim surface with a cotton pad with only a hint of alcohol.  This has the effect of blending and soften the black hues over the contours of the landscape.Finally, I start with about a mid-range grit micromesh pad, 3600, and I proceed to sand the plateau.  I move from 3600 to the finest grit pad, 12000.  This serves to further blend and to uncover the ridges of the briar.  This gives the look more contrast which I like – the black and the brown briar.  Overall, I think it looks good.Before moving on, I need to take care of the stem fit that I noticed earlier was too loose.  I retry the fit and it remains too loose for comfort.  To remedy this, I find a drill bit that is just the next size larger than what will fit in the airway.  Using a Bic lighter, I fan a flame around the end of the tenon to heat the vulcanite to make it pliable.  My first attempt to push the smooth end of the bit into the hole was not successful – it was still too tight.  I then use a pointed Dremel sculpting bit to help open the hole a bit so that the larger drill bit could be inserted into the airway.  I heated the tenon again and press the pointed Dremel tool into the hole to expand it slightly – which is enough.  I heat the tenon again and when it becomes supple I gradually and gently insert the bit in the airway as far as it will go without great effort.  Leaving the bit in the tenon, I again reheat the tenon as well as the metal of the bit to help the internal movement.  Again, when the vulcanite softens, I push the bit in a little further into the airway.  With this movement of the bit, the tenon is gradually expanding to close the gap making the fit with the shank snugger.  With the last heating and movement of the tenon, without withdrawing the bit, I run the tenon under cool tap water to set the vulcanite to assure that it will remain expanded.  I then heat only the metal of the bit to loosen the vulcanite’s grip on it and withdraw it with the help of pliers.  I try the stem fit again and success!  A very nice, comfortable, snug fit with the tenon inserted into the shank.Next, before moving to the Dremel polishing and waxing phases, I apply Before & After Restoration Balm to the Freehand stummel that is looking very nice.  I like this Restoration Balm because it subtly brings out deeper, richer tones of the natural briar presentation.  I squirt a little of the Balm on my finger and then simply work it into the briar grain.  It starts as a thinner texture and then thickens as the Balm works into the surface.  I apply the Balm on the rim as well.  After letting it set for several minutes to absorb the Balm, I wipe/buff the excess Balm with a microfiber cloth.  I like it. The pictures I take, I’m not sure are able to pick up on the subtle deepening that I perceive with the naked eye.  The pictures are before, during Balm absorbing and then after buffed off. Next, I reunite stem and stummel and mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel and set the speed to about 40%.  I then apply Blue Diamond compound to the entire pipe. To remove compound dust from the surface, I buff the pipe with a flannel rag.  I then mount another cotton cloth wheel to the Dremel, remaining at the same speed, and apply carnauba wax to the entire pipe – stummel and stem.  Completing this, I give the pipe a good hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine.  Yet, one more task and this Mastersen Burl Briar Freehand will be completed.  To protect the upper chamber patch and to introduce a starter for the development of a cake to protect the briar surface, I mix a batch of sour cream, or in this case, natural yogurt, and activated charcoal to spread on the chamber walls.  I don’t mix too much sour cream, so the mixture isn’t too liquid and runny.  I insert a pipe cleaner through the draft hole to keep the airway open.  After spreading the mixture over the chamber with a flat dental spatula, I set it aside allowing the charcoal/yogurt mixture to cure and harden.  With this chamber surface, the new steward should not scrape the chamber after use, but use a doubled over pipe cleaner to ‘rub’ the chamber walls to remove ash and remains until a cake develops.   The pictures show this final task.Wow!  This Mastersen Burl Briar Freehand – Made in France is a keeper!  I’m pleased with the presentation of the plateau and the blending of the natural and darkened briar hues.  The flame grain is beautiful as it encompasses the conical Freehand stummel.  As a smaller Freehand, it is light enough to function easily as a ‘hands free’ pipe which is nice – but please use a rubber bite guard! This Mastersen caught Paul’s eye and since he commissioned it, he has the first opportunity to acquire the Mastersen Freehand from The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!