Tag Archives: shaping a button on a horn stem

Restoring a Unique Horn Stem W.E. Hooker System Pipe

Blog by Steve Laug

Another one of the pipes found on the Virtual Pipe Hunt in Montana was this interesting old piece. It is an oddity and I was sure when we found it that it was another example of the eternal hunt for the dry, perfect smoke. I joking call it a camel pipe for the humps it has from a side view. This old timer is stamped on the left side of the shank with the words W.E. Hooker and on the right side of the shank it is stamped Patented over May 17, 1910. The pipe was in pretty rough shape at first glance with wear and tear to the finish and the rim caked with lava flowing over to the top. The inner edge of the bowl was out of round and there was some damage to the surface. There were some small sandpits on the right side of the bowl and on the top of the shank. The vulcanite cap in the middle of the shank perplexed me a bit so I was curious what we would find beneath the cap. The stem was horn and it had a lot of tooth damage to the top and underside at the button as well as some significant damage to the button itself and the edges around it. It looked as if someone had taken a knife to it and done some whittling on the horn. It had originally had what looked like a faux P-lip as the airway left the button on the end rather than the top. It was going to be a fun one to clean up.My brother Jeff took quite a few photos of the bow from various angles to give an idea of the overall condition of the pipe.The function of the cap on the top of the shank intrigued me and the overall airflow of the pipe was a mystery. When I put a pipe cleaner in the shank it came out in the sump under the cap. There were two other holes in the sump – one at the top front that connected to the airway as it entered the bowl and one at the top back that went back into the shank and the stem. When I pushed a pipe cleaner through the stem it stopped at the bottom of the sump under the cap. Now I really wanted to know how this worked. I Googled W.E. Hooker tobacco smoking pipe and came up with a patent number 958,398. The inventor was a William E. Hooker of Buffalo, New York. He filed the patent October 13, 1909 and it was patented on May 17, 1910 (just like the stamping on the right side of the shank). I have copied that information below. Note the airflow in the diagram accompanying the patent, I have inserted red arrows how it flowed through the pipe.

I have included the complete text of the patent below. It explains the letters A-H in the above diagram.



Patented May 17, 1910.




Specification of Letters Patent.

Application filed October 13, 1909. Serial No. 522,496.

To all whom it may concern:

Be it known that I, WILLIAM E. HOOKER, a citizen of the United States, residing at the city of Buffalo, in the county of Erie and State of New York, have invented a new and useful Tobacco-Smoking Pipe, of which the following is a specification.

My invention relates to certain improvements in a tobacco smoking pipe and I do hereby declare the following to be a full, clear, and exact description of my invention such as will enable others skilled in the art to which it appertains to make and use the same, reference being had to the accompanying drawings and to figures and letters of reference marked thereon, which form a part of this specification.

The objects of my improvements are: First: To provide a chamber or receptacle wherein can be collected all the moisture, nicotine and other foul secretions usually present in a tobacco smoking pipe and prevent the said moisture, nicotine and foul secretions from reaching the mouth of the smoker by means of the aforesaid chamber or receptacle and smoke channels, thereby insuring a clean and sanitary smoke. Second: By means of this chamber or receptacle and smoke channels and drainage channels, to prevent all moisture or saliva that might collect in the pipe stem from flowing into the pipe bowl. Third: To provide ample and easy facilities and means for cleaning the pipe. I attain these results by the position and location in which the nicotine receptacle or chamber and the smoke and drainage channels, are constructed or drilled in the pipe bowl, as illustrated in the accompanying drawings and which forms a part of this specification.

The accompanying drawing is a central vertical longitudinal section of my pipe embodying my invention.

A is an ordinary pipe bowl. B is a chamber or receptacle, for the purpose of collecting nicotine, moisture and other foul secretions, situated between the pipe bowl A and the pipe stem H, in a vertical position and parallel with the pipe bowl A, with an opening at the top. I prefer to have said chamber or receptacle in a vertical position as indicated and parallel with the pipe bowl, to insure the best results with my invention, although it is not absolutely essential that the chamber or receptacle aforesaid, should be nearer to the pipe bowl than to the pipe stem, but the vertical position and location of the chamber or receptacle is essential and necessary. This chamber or receptacle in the position or location described, serves as a collector of all moisture, nicotine and foul secretions which might flow through channels D and E and also has for its purpose the conveying of smoke from channel D to channel E. The opening at top of the aforesaid chamber permits of the easy cleaning of the nicotine and moisture chamber B, and the smoke channels D and E.

C is the well or socket, into which the mouth-piece or stem H fits and also serves as a smoke conductor from channel E, to stem H and as a conductor of any moisture or nicotine which might collect in said well, to the bottom of chamber or receptacle B, through channel F.

D is a smoke channel leading from the bottom of pipe bowl A to the top of chamber or receptacle B and serves as a smoke passage to convey the smoke from the bottom of pipe bowl A to the top of chamber B, thence across said chamber B into and through smoke channel E into the well C and thence to the mouth of the smoker through stem H.

E is a smoke channel leading from the top of chamber B into well or socket C and terminating midway between the end of well or socket C and where the pipe stem or mouth piece H enters said well or socket, and is a conductor of smoke from top of chamber B to the well.

F is a drainage channel to convey saliva, moisture, nicotine and foul secretions which might form in the well or socket C, from said well to the bottom of chamber or receptacle B. By the particular position and location of this drainage channel F, any moisture, saliva, nicotine or secretions, which might form and collect in said well or socket C, pass through this drainage channel and into the bottom of the chamber or receptacle B, and a free and unobstructed draft is thus obtained.

G is a cap which can be removed and it screws into the top of chamber B, to close opening of said chamber and can be easily removed for the purpose of cleaning chamber B and smoke channels D and E.

H is a pipe-stem or mouth piece.

I am aware that prior to my invention, Patented May 17, 1910. tobacco smoking pipes have been made with nicotine chambers or receptacles. I therefore do not claim the invention of a nicotine receptacle; but having thus fully described my invention, I claim: In a tobacco smoking pipe, a moisture or nicotine receptacle, situated or located between the pipe bowl and pipe stem

 or mouth piece, in a vertical position and parallel with the pipe bowl, having an opening at the top of said moisture or nicotine receptacle or chamber, with two smoke channels entering said receptacle or chamber at the top and a drainage channel entering said receptacle or chamber at the bottom as substantially set forth herein and for the purposes specified. In testimony whereof, I have hereunto subscribed my name in the presence of two witnesses, this 11th day of October, 1909. WILLIAM E. HOOKER. Witnesses: Himmler BOWEN, CHAUNCY W. ABBOTT.

Now, I had it in the words of the inventor himself – he designed a different kind of sump vertically in line between the bowl and the stem. That made his invention different from the sump in a Peterson System pipe designed to accomplish the same thing. This is truly a complicated piece of tobaciana.

My brother took close up photos of various angles showing the grain of the pipe, the structure and the pipe taken apart. These give a clear picture of what we would have to deal with in the restoration process. The rim top photo shows the cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava on to the rim top. You can also see the damage to the inner edge of the bowl at the back of the pipe.The next series of photos show the hard rubber cap on top of the entrance to the sump on the shank. It is threaded and can be removed by unscrewing it from the briar shank. The horn stem was held onto the shank by a threaded bone tenon that screwed into the threaded mortise in the briar. Both threaded portions were in excellent condition. The second photo below shows the view of the pipe with the three openings showing from the shank to the bowl.The stamping on both sides of the were faint but readable. As mentioned above the left side read W.E. Hooker and the right side read Patented over May 17,1910. I was dealing with an old pipe.The horn stem had tooth chatter and tooth marks as well as some nicks from a knife that had been used to try and reshape the stem. The next photos tell the story. Jeff did a pretty thorough job cleaning this old timer up. The finish was really rough and dirty and the cake in the bowl foretold a very dirty interior. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and took the cake back to briar. He cleaned the interior of the bowl with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He worked through the various channels and airways in the shank and the stem until they were clean. I took the photos below to show the condition of the pipe when it arrived in Vancouver, clean and ready for me to work on. I took a close up photo of the bowl with the sump cap on and off. Note the nicks out of the inside edge of the bowl leaving it out of round.I took some photos of the stem to show the cleanness of the horn and the damage to the various parts – sides near the button, the button surface and the stem next to the button on the top and underside.I worked on the inner edge of the bowl to smooth out the damaged areas and even out the rim top. I wanted to work as much as possible to bring the bowl back into round. Once I had sanded the edge I mixed some putty of clear super glue and briar dust to build up the back edge of the rim. Fortunately the damage did not go deep into the bowl but was concentrated at the top.I sanded the repaired area with 180 and 220 grit sandpaper and took the following photo. I still needed to do more sanding but the rim top is taking shape.I wiped down the bowl and rim with cotton pads and alcohol to remove the sanding debris and any remaining finish on the bowl. I did that in preparation for repairing the filled areas on the right side of the bowl and the top of the shank. I put drops of clear super glue in the fills and sandpit areas on the bottom of the bowl and right side. Once they had dried I put some in the sandpits on the top of the shank near the stem shank junction. I sanded the repairs smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and blended them into the surface of the surrounding briar. I wet sanded the areas with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I used the needle file to reshape the stem edges and button and smooth out the damage that had been caused by the knife. I smoothed out the flow of the P-lip style button and recut the ledge on the underside of the stem.I cleaned the airways in of the pipe and stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol. I cleaned out the sump area with cotton swabs and alcohol. There was still some sludge in the bottom of the sump that came out with coaxing. I cleaned out the mortise as well for good measure.I continued to reshape the stem some more with 220 grit sandpaper. I really wanted to have it smooth to touch and closer in appearance to what it must have looked like when it left the factory. When I was done with the sanding the shape was looking much better.I touched up the repaired areas of the bowl and rim with a dark brown aniline stain pen. The colour matched perfectly with the existing stain. I wiped the bowl down with a light coat of olive oil and took the following photos to show where things stood at this point in the process. With the bowl finished I went to work polishing the stem with micromesh sanding pads – I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. It is always amazing to me to see the horn begin to develop a deep glow and shine. I polished the hard rubber sump cap with the micromesh once I finished the stem. I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to remove any minute scratches that remained in the stem and the briar. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine on the briar and horn. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I am really having a bit of a dilemma with these old pipes – in all of my time refurbishing and restoring old pipe I have never seen pipes like these… I am so tempted to hang on to the lot of the old C.P.F. pipes and the rest that come from that era as I probably will never see them again… ah well definitely a first world problem. Time will tell. Thanks for coming with me on this interesting old restoration. It was a fun one to work on.