Tag Archives: shaping a new stem

Another Interesting Clean – a Yello-Bole Imperial 642 Carburetor Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on my table is the third and final pipe from threesome sent to for work from a fellow in Eastern Canada. This one is a smooth Dublin/Billiard. I found that it is stamped on the left side and read Imperial in script [over] Yello-Bole. On the right side it has the shape number 642 and on the heel it is stamped Carburetor next to the small aluminum tube in the heel. On the shank end where the stem and shank meet it is stamped Made in France. The bowl was hardly used and has a tube extending from the bottom of the bowl upward about 1/8 of an inch. Though there was some darkening in the bottom of the bowl the walls were still lined with the famous Yello-Bole honey coating and looked untouched. The bowl edges and rim top looked very good. The smooth finish was still shiny and new looking. The stem is probably vulcanite with a yellow circle on the left side of the taper and a huge chunk of vulcanite missing from the underside extending from the button forward about ½ inch. There were tooth marks and tooth chatter on both sides of the stem ahead of the button and on the surface. There was a Yello-Bole scoop stinger in the tenon that was also clean and undamaged. In looking at it I figured it would need a new stem. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I took photos of the bowl and rim top to show what they looked like before I started my clean up. I also took some of the stem to show the condition of both sides and the large chunk of vulcanite missing on the underside. The stamping on the sides of the shank are shown in the photos below. They are clear and readable as noted above. I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of them to show the perspective on the pipe. You can see the burn marks on the bowl and shank and the scratches and fills in the briar.I turned my attention to the clean up of the pipe itself. The obvious place to start on this pipe was to find a stem that would fit in the shank and if possible be a Yello-Bole logoed stem. I found one in my collection of stems that had the length and tenon dimensions. It was a little larger in diameter than the original but with adjustments it would look good. The replace was not new and had tooth marks and dents on the button end but otherwise looked good.I fit it in the shank and worked on the diameter of the stem with a flat file to remove the excess material on the aluminum band and the vulcanite. It took some work and careful filing but it worked fairly well. I took the following photos of the stem after I had filed it down. It looked quite good at this point in the process. I would need to fine tune the fit with sandpaper but I liked the direction it was going. I filled in the marks that remained with clear CA glue. When the repairs cured I used a small file to reshape the button edge and flatten out the repairs. I sanded the repairs 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface. I started the polishing process with 600 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. I cleaned out the internals of the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol. Since the bowl exterior was so clean I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each  pad to remove the grit. The bowl began to take on a rich shine. The briar took on a newer, richer look.   I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my finger tips and into the rusticated portion with a shoe brush. I let it sit for 10 minutes and the Balm did its magic. It enlivens, cleans and preserves the briar. It certainly brought this bowl back to life. I buffed it off with a clean cloth and took the following photos. This Yello-Bole Imperial 642 Dublin is a great looking pipe with its replacement stem and restoration. The smooth, rich red finish highlights the grain of the pipe. I put the new stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Yello-Bole Dublin fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 50 grams/1.76 ounces. I have one more pipe for this Eastern Canada Pipeman to work on. Once I have finished all three I will be sending them back to him to enjoy. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

Restoring and Restemming a Made in Ireland Shamrock 106 Prince


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe was a mess and one that obviously had been “ridden hard and put away wet”. The finish and condition was abysmal. It was definitely a stranger to any cleaning! This one is a smooth Prince that has a rich coloured finish around the bowl sides and shank under the grit and grime of years. This pipe was purchased from an antique mall on 08/27/21 in Bozeman, Montana, USA. The finish is almost bland looking it is so dirty it was hard to know what to expect once it was cleaned. It was stamped on the  left side of the shank and read SHAMROCK. It was stamped to the right of the shank and reads MADE IN IRELAND (in a circle) with the shape number 106 lower and next to the bowl. It was filthy when Jeff brought it to the table. There was a thick cake in the bowl and lava on the rim top and the inner edge of the bowl. There were nicks in the outer edge all the way around. The replacement stem was chewed and damaged on the top and underside on and near the button. It did not appear to be vulcanite. Jeff took photos of the pipe before his cleanup work. Jeff took photos of the rim top and stem to show the general condition of the pipe. The bowl is heavily caked so it is hard to know the condition of the edges under the lava overflow. The stem was a replacement and had been heavily gnawed. The way the bit marks are on the surface of the stem makes me think that it is not vulcanite. The pipe is a real mess and I would probably have to restem the bowl. Jeff took photos of the bowl sides and heel to show the grain that was around this bowl. You can see the sandpits and nicks in the briar in the photos below. Even so, it is a nice looking pipe. He took a photo of the left side of the shank to show the stamping. The stamping is faint but readable in the photo below and is as noted above. He did not take a photo of the circular stamp Made In Ireland and the shape number on the right side of the shank. I will try to capture that later in the blog.I am including the link to the Pipedia’s article on Peterson pipes. It is a great read in terms of the history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Peterson).

I turned to “The Peterson Pipe” by Mark Irwin and Gary Malmberg to get some background on the Peterson’s Shamrock Pipe. On page 312 it had the following information.

Shamrock (c1941-2009) Originally stamped SHAMROCK with no brand name, an inexpensive line first described in George Yale (New York) mail order booklet in 1941, imported by Rogers Import. The line was actively promoted beginning in ’45, aggressively promoted in US by Rogers from early ‘50s when they registered the Shamrock logo with US Patent Office, claiming propriety since ’38. Over the years offered with P-lip or fishtail mouthpiece, with or without nickel band, with or without Shamrock logo on the band, with or without S stamped in white or later in gold on mouthpiece. Appearing in 2008 as unstained smooth and rustic, fishtail mouthpiece with gold impressed P on the stem. COMS of MADE IN over IRELAND (C1945-1965), MADE IN IRELAND forming a circle (c1945-1965), “A PETERSON’S PRODUCT” over MADE IN IRELAND (c1945-1965), MADE IN THE over REPUBLIC over OF IRELAND9c1948-1998). Model is always difficult or impossible to date.

Judging from the description above, the pipe I am working on is stamped with the stamp noted in red above. Made in Ireland in a circle which narrows the date to between approximately 1945-1965. It is just stamped SHAMROCK with no brand name and no stamping on the stem.

I was utterly surprised when I took this pipe out of the box and compared it to the before photos. Jeff had done a great job cleaning up the pipe as usual. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and cut back the cake back to the bare briar. He cleaned up the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. Surprisingly the walls looked unscathed from the heavy cake. He scrubbed the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the finish. He worked on the rim top lava and darkening with the soap and tooth brush. He scrubbed the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the stem with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Briarville’s Deoxidizer. He washed it off with warm water to remove the Deoxidizer. When I examined the stem I knew it would need to be replaced. The pipe looked far better when it arrived. The cleaned up rim top revealed very damaged inner and outer edges and the top. There were nicks in the surface of the rim and the edges. I took some close up photos of the rim top and edges to show how well it had cleaned up and the damage to the edges around the bowl. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks on the surface near and on the button itself. The stem would be replaced. You can see the deep tooth marks and damage to the button edges on both sides. The diameter of the stem is smaller than that of the shank as can be seen in the photos.I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It is faint but still readable. It reads as noted above.I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to have a look at the parts and overall look.I removed the stem from the shank and went through my stems to find one that matched the length and shape of the previous stem. I was pleased to see that it was slightly larger in diameter than the previous one. The tenon was almost the same size as the other one. It was bent more than the previous one but once straightened out it was only 1/8 of an inch shorter. I thought it would look very good.I used a small folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to reduce the tenon enough that it would fit the mortise on the bowl. It did not take too much work and it fit perfectly. The diameter of the stem was slightly larger than the shank and would need some work to fit it properly. I took photos of the pipe with its new stem. I needed to reduce the diameter of the stem and also straighten it a bit to fit correctly. I used a flat file to take off as much of the excess as I could without damaging the briar ahead of it.I cleaned up the fit of the stem to the shank with folded 220 grit sandpaper. I worked over the flow of the stem into the shank to make the transition smooth. It was looking very good. I also heated the stem with the flame of a lighter to soften the vulcanite and straighten it. I repaired the damaged spots on the rim top with briar dust and clear superglue. Once it cured I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the inside edge of the bowl and smooth out the damage. I gave it a slight bevel to minimize the damage. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I restained the rim top with a Walnut and a Maple stain pen to match it to the surrounding bowl colour. It looked pretty good. It will blend well once the pipe is polished and buffed. 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 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside and 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 Older Made in Ireland Shamrock 106 Prince. 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 hand buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with beautiful mixed grain all around it, looks great with the new black vulcanite stem. This smooth Classic Shamrock 106 Prince is great looking and the pipe 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 ¼ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 36 grams/1.27 ounces. It turned out to be a beautiful pipe. I will be putting on the rebornpipes store in the Irish Pipe Makers Section. Thanks for your time and as Paresh says each time – Stay Safe.

Resurrecting an Abdulla Dribaccy Shark Skin Chubby Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to me from friend who picked it up because of the name and the description. He liked the look of the pipe and sent me an email to see what I thought of it. He included a link to the eBay sale so I could check it out myself.

Steve, I’m asking if you would take a look at this listing and tell me what you think, as it certainly needs stem work. https://www.ebay.com/itm/RARE-Early-Vintage-ABDULLA-DRIBACCY-SHARK-SKIN-Briar-Pipe-London-Made-/193674187402?_trksid=p2349624.m46890.l49292

I’m a storyteller by profession (a business writer) and this one just has a great story to tell. I keep going back to it. And I’d be sorry to see it with a replacement stem. Is it salvageable? And is it something you’d be willing to do? Just let me know what you think. Any advice is appreciated.

(I think the asking price is high, but I think he’ll budge.)

Best regards, Baker

I clicked on the link and followed it to the listing. The seller described the pipe and its stamping as follows:

RARE Early Vintage ABDULLA DRIBACCY SHARK SKIN Briar Pipe. This early Shark Skin model is early vintage, my research while not conclusive would put it at 1940s or earlier and made in London. An old French ad in the photos suggests it is Shark Skin #2418. The pipe is in very good condition limited darkening of the rim or tar build up in the bowl. Stem has no visible chatter with rubber tip, see photo of tip with a minor chip of the vulcanite under the rubber tip. (I have included that old French Ad below).I went through all of the photos that were included in the listing on eBay and saved them. They tell the story of the current state of the pipe. It is a chubby billiard with a nice sandblast finish. As I looked it over it was clear to me that the stem was a replacement and a bit more oval than the shank. Whoever had replaced the stem had reduced the diameter of the shank and shouldered it down in size to match the stem. They had then rusticated the shank end coning to look better than a smooth finish. The stem itself was rustic to say the least with file marks on the top and underside that left it rough. There was a rubber Softee Bit on the end of the stem to cover up something that was not clear to me. As you scroll through the photos you can see the  poor shaping to the shank end that was done to fit a smaller stem.  The seller also included photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the condition of the rim top and bowl. It was in very good condition with a light cake in the bowl. He also took photos of the stem that was on the pipe. You can see that the shank and stem have different diameters. You can also see the chip off the end of the stem in rubber Softee Bit. The seller included photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar looked like. There is some nice grain showing through the sandblast around the sides. You can also see the way the shank has been sanded to meet the stem… it is quite obviously a poor fit. The stamping on the underside of the shank was also shown in the seller’s photos. It was clear and readable – ABDULLA [over] Dribaccy Pipe [over] Shank Skin.He also took a photo of the bowl with the stem removed. The stem has a very short filter tenon that has been cut down and shortened to fit. I sent Baker my assessment of the pipe. I let him know what I saw in terms of the bowl and the stem and my thoughts about it being a poorly fit replacement. I also told him about the way that I thought the stem was reshaped and tapered to match the stem diameter. I also mentioned what I thought about the button being broken off and the rubber Softee Bit covering the damaged stem. Baker thanked me and said he was reconsidering about the pipe. Not long after that I received another email from him that I have included below.

Hey Steve…

I received the Abdulla pipe today and have enclosed a few additional photos that may give you a closer look at the suspect areas. The bowl is in good shape but doesn’t show much of a cake. I’m wondering if the original stem wasn’t lost or broken. It’s a filter pipe, which I hadn’t realized but that doesn’t surprise me either.

Are you willing to tackle it? I don’t have a lot invested here. I’d just like to give it a rescue and spend some enjoyable time with it if I can.

Best regards, Baker I wrote back and told him I would take it on and see what I could do. Before it arrived I did a bit of research on the brand and have included that below.

I turned to Pipephil (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-a1.html) to find if there as any information included on the brand. There was very little information listed. It states that it is a brand of the Abdulla & Co. Ltd. I have included a screen capture of the listing for the brand.I turned then to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/British_Pipe_Brands_%26_Makers_A_-_D).   There was limited information there on the brand. It stated that it was “A brand of Abdulla & Co Ltd.”

I googled Abdulla & Company Ltd to see what I could find. There were several links that gave some interesting information. The first of these includes some information on the company. It seems to have existed from 1917-1927 when it was purchased by Godfrey Phillips which kept the company name. (http://www.cigarettespedia.com/index.php/ManufacturerAbdulla_&_Co._Ltd).

Abdulla & Company, Ltd. — The company was founded in London, England, in 1902, and were most famous for their eponymous cigarette brand, which they made in various blends (Egyptian, Virginian, and Turkish). In 1917, Abdulla moved their headquarters to 173 New Bond Street in Mayfair (formerly the location of the Fabergé shop, and currently home to Chanel), and opened a branch in the Netherlands in 1923.

Around 1927, Abdulla & Company was purchased by a larger competitor, Godfrey Phillips, which kept the company name and brands going. In 1968, Godfrey Phillips U.K. was purchased by Philip Morris International.

I also found a short listing from the UK National Archives stating that the brand was known as Cigarette Specialists and was at 173 New Bond Street in London, England. (https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/ae36e330-54d9-4988-bd5a-ffc87ab77e20).

Abdulla & Co. Ltd. (cigarette-specialists; 173, New Bond St., London, W.1).

Reference:       PA/101/12/680

Title:   Abdulla & Co. Ltd. (cigarette-specialists; 173, New Bond St., London, W.1).

Date:   28th June, 1929

Finally I found an interesting photo of one of their cigarette boxes that say it is and always has been an Entirely British Firm (https://collection.sciencemuseumgroup.org.uk/objects/co8102857/packet-of-ten-abdulla-cigarettes-cigarette-packet).

Now it was time to work on the pipe itself. The pipe arrived this week. It was quite clean on the outside but smelled strongly of English tobaccos (which I think smells good!). The bowl had a light cake in it and the fit of stem was even more obviously wrong when I examined it. The coned end of the shank was odd for this pipe. The stem was in rough condition with a lot of file marks on the flat sides and scratching around the sides. I am always suspicious of rubber Softee Bits as they tend to be a quick fix to a bigger problem underneath. Once I removed it I would have a better idea. I took photos of the pipe when I received it.  I took a close up of the bowl and rim top to give a picture of the condition and the light cake in the bowl. I also included photos of the stem that came with it for reference as I was planning on replacing it.    I took a photo of the stamping on the shank that also showed the sanded shank end.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the short tenon and the poor cut that left it at an angle.I decided to address the coned shank end but applying a thin brass band that would square it up again and get rid of that damage. I went through my bands and had a perfect one that was brass and thin profile. I went through my stems for a stem that was chunky and tapered and would work with this pipe. I took a photo of the new parts.Now it was time to set the new band on the shank. I used a dental spatula to apply all purpose glue to the end of the shank and spread it around. I pressed the band in place and wiped off the excess glue. Once the glue cured I took photos of the banded shank to show the change. The coned end had disappeared and the line of the shank was now flat once again from the back of the bowl to the shank end.  Now it was time to clean the bowl and shank. I reamed out the light cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and took it back to bare briar. I cleaned out the shank and airway to the bowl with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils.   With the internals finished I turned to the exterior of the bowl and shank. I worked Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush 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 grain came alive and the fills while visible look better than when I began.    I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I decided that before I started on the new stem I wanted to see what was hidden under the Softee Bit. I slipped it off the end of the stem and low and behold I found a broken off stem. No telling if the seller knew this or not but it was clearly not the original stem and definitely needed to be replaced.The news stem was definitely going to take a bit of work to get a smooth transition between the shank and the stem. The stem is significantly bigger in diameter than the shank (first picture below). I used a Dremel and sanding drum to start the process of removing the excess diameter of the stem. I also did a bit of step down on the tenon so it would fit the end of the mortise more smoothly (second and third photo below). It was getting there but there was still a lot of work to do to get the fit right! I used a file to further remove the excess diameter and to shape the stem for smooth flow down the length of the sides. It is too easy to get a great fit at the shank end and then have the stem balloon out on the length of the sides… I was aiming to avoid that. Once I had the transition smooth with the file I finished shaping it with 150 grit sandpaper. Once I had finished the pipe was looking very good. I sent Baker a message with photos asking about the bend in the stem suggesting that we leave it and he was fine with that.I took some photos of the pipe as it stood before I polished the stem. I liked what I saw and the fit was perfect. The transition was smooth and flawless. I polished the brass band on the shank end with micromesh sanding pads. I used 1500-2400 to remove the scratching in the brass. Once I buffed the pipe it would polish the band the rest of the way. At this point it is looking very good.  I moved on to polishing the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I dry sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads to polish it and bring out a shine in the rubber. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Fine and Extra Fine polishes and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil at the end. I was pleased with the look of the stem.   This Abdulla British Made Drybaccy Shark Skin Billiard is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored, restemmed and banded. It really is a piece of pipe history of a little known brand that was quite well known in its day. The shark skin finish (sandblast) around the bowl is quite beautiful and highlights the grain and works well with the new polished hard rubber taper stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Abdulla Billiard fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 57 grams/ 2.01 ounces. I have one more pipe to restore for Baker and then will be sending them back to him to enjoy! Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

A Restemming Job with Memories of the Past


The third pipe I worked on in the lot below is the second one down in the third column. It is a Dublin like shape but probably properly is a freehand. It has a shallow sandblast finish with a two-tone stain. The undercoat is black and the top coat is brown. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Racine & Laramie in an arch over OLD TOWN SAN DIEGO over Banza in a script and then a line stamped Made in Italy. The look and feel of it says to me it is made by Lorenzo but I am not sure. When I read the stamping is when the memory came back. I have been in the Racine & Laramie tobacco shop in Old Town San Diego, California. It is a museum like tobacco shop that has a wide range of tobaccos and pipes in an old California mission style village setting. You can almost imagine cowboys riding up and tying up their horse to go in and get a pouch of fixin’s. The picture below is what I remember of the shop. It is from the website http://www.racineandlaramie.com/

Racine & Laramie

The following excerpt on the history of the shop comes from the website as well. I find it incredibly interesting reading.

History of Racine & Laramie
In 1868 Racine & Laramie became San Diego’s first Cigar Store. Having come from eastern Canada in the prosperity following the War Between the States, Messrs. Racine and Laramée sold cigars, tobacco, stationery, pipes, cutlery and gentlemen’s furnishings. The adobe they rented had been built in the 1820’s as the retirement home for leather-jacket soldier, Juan Rodriguez of the Royal Presidio. It was one of the first six buildings in the small pueblo, 500 registered voters, thousands of Kumeyaay. The Rodriguez family held ownership through periods of depression and Gold Rush boom, and their son, Ramon, was on the City Council. The widow Rodriguez had the building remodeled in 1867 and rented to Racine & Laramie and the Bank Exchange saloon. All was lost in the fire of 1872.

Using archeology, historic research and photographs this building has been reconstructed with the interior furnished and stocked as it may have been in that remote, frontier Pacific port. This picture gives a panoramic view of the interior of the shop looking at the cigar humidor.

Humidore

It was this shop that I visited many times over the years. It is like stepping back in time to enter the old town and then to walk into the shop itself. I think the last time I was there was about six years ago now. I took the train from the downtown harbor area to the old town site. I walked through the reconstructed village. I must have spent 3 or 4 hours wandering around the site and ending up in the old tobacco shop. I looked at pipes and tobaccos before settling on a couple of tins. I think I picked up some Dunhill EMP and maybe a tin of McClelland Dark Star before catching the train back into town.

Needless to say when I found this pipe bowl among the lot pictured below I restemmed it and while working on it relived my visits to the pipe shop in Old Town San Diego.

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The finish on the pipe was in pretty good shape – slight wear on the shank area and on the rim left the stain spotty in those areas. The bowl was caked – but differently than most of the pipes I work on. Its cake was primarily in the bottom half of the bowl. The bottom half was thickly caked while the top was not as bad. The photo below shows the bowl as it was when I took it to the work table. The sandblast is either worn from use or it is a lightly blasted finish. The shank was in very good shape and there were no cracks of damage to the inside. The drilling is a bit funny on this as well. It is drilled with a relatively deep mortise and the airway is drilled at the top of the arc of the mortise. It then drops at a sharp angle into the bowl coming out just left of centre in the bottom of the bowl. Because of the high drilling the mortise acts as a sump similar to the Peterson sump in the shank of the system pipes. It was dirty but not with any aromatic residue. Rather the pipe smelled of Virginias and would take little to clean it up.

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This pipe that took me several tries to get a stem that would work. This was not due to the look or feel of the stem but due to unforeseen troubles. The first was a nice saddle stem. I turned the tenon and had a great fit on it. I heated it with my heat gun and tried to bend it over my rolling pin to aid in getting the right angles on it. The heat made it very flexible and as I bent it to the correct angle it just snapped in two parts. Those things happen and in this case it was a frustration to be sure – so back to the drawing board. This time I chose a tapered stem. I turned the tenon and fit it to the mortise. I then used the Dremel with the sanding drum to remove the excess material and fit it to the diameter of the shank. I then sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to finish the fit of the stem. The next three photos show the newly fit stem.

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I reamed the pipe with the PipNet reamer and cleaned out cake from the bottom of the bowl. I had to use two different cutting heads on the reamer to get it to remove the cake. The smallest head fit into the bottom half of the bowl and I was able to cut it back until the third head fit and removed cake from the top half and the remaining cake on the bottom half.

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I wiped down the bowl and shank with acetone on a cotton pad to remove some of the top coat of stain and even out the lighter areas and the darker areas where the stain was still present. My goal was not to remove all of the stain present but merely even out the top coat so that I could more easily blend in the new stain coat.

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Then with a bit of fear and trepidation, after breaking the first stem, I took the stem to the heat gun and heated it so that I could bend it into shape. I inserted a pipe cleaner in the airway as the bend would be quite significant and I did not want to risk having the airway collapse or kink. I heated it a high heat setting until the stem was flexible. I want the bend to be quite high up the stem toward the shank and not just on the thin portion of the stem so it took some time over the heat to make the stem bendable. I kept the stem moving over the heat as I did not want to burn the vulcanite. Once it was pliable I bend it over an old rolling pin that I have absconded with for that purpose. I have a heavy cardboard tube over the pin so that the surface is very smooth for the bend. Any cracks or rough spots on the rolling pin translate into wrinkles in the hot vulcanite.

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In the first photo below the bend in the stem can be seen after the first heating. I took it back to my worktable and took the photo below so that I could have a clear look at the bend in comparison with the curves in the bowl. It was not bent enough so I took it back to the heat gun, reheated it and bent it further. The second and third photos below show the final bend that I was aiming for. The bend in the stem reflects the curve of the bottom of the bowl and gives the pipe a pleasant flow. It is also bent perfectly for the pipe to sit well in the mouth.

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With the stem bent to the proper angle I worked on its finish with the micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded the stem with 1500 grit until the major surface flaws were no longer present. The scratches left behind by the sandpaper were gone when I had finished wet sanding it.

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I restained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain thinned to 2 parts stain to 1 part isopropyl alcohol to match the existing stain on the bowl. I applied the stain with a cotton swab, flamed it with a lighter, reapplied more stain and then flamed it again to get the match correct. When finished I took the pipe to the buffer and buffed the pipe and the stem with White Diamond. The next three photos below show the pipe as it stood at this point in the process. The finished shape is very clear in these photos.

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I brought it back to the worktable and continued sanding with the micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded the stem with 1800 and 2400 grit sanding pads. I wiped the stem down between sanding to see how it was progressing. Then I dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit sanding pads to finish polishing the stem. The next series of four photos show the progressive shine on the stem.

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Once the stem was polished I buffed it a second time with White Diamond and then coated the stem with a rub down of Obsidian Oil and let that soak in. After it was dry I rubbed down the stem with a clean cotton rag to bring out the shine even more.

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The final four photos show the finished pipe with its new stem. The old Racine & Laramie pipe was back in action and ready to smoke. The back story to this one is as interesting as the old pipe. I wonder the path it took from San Diego to Chicago area and then up to Vancouver, British Columbia. I wonder where it lost its stem along the path it travelled. I only wish it could tell the stories of its travels and the pipemen who smoked it along that journey. I will probably never know the story but at least my imagination can create a suitable tale for the pipe before I too send it on its way, for I am sure it will outlive me as it passes into the hands of future pipemen who come after me.

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Italian Made Pot Refurbished and Reborn with a New Look


This was one of the stummels from a box of pipes without stems that are all that are left of a big lot of pipes I was gifted by a friend. There are about 30 left, I have restemmed many of them over the past year and given away many more. This one is a no name Italian Made that is stamped Real Briar in italics and stamped on the left side of the shank. It is a rusticated bowl and as can be seen in the picture below had a cracked shank. The stem that is in the pipe is one that I recycled from my can of stems. It needed to be cut down to make the diameter of the shank match the diameter of the stem. I also needed to band the shank to do a repair to the crack.

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The picture below show the bowl as it came to me. It had been reamed with something that scored the bottom of the bowl and left marks. It was however very clean. The rim had slight darkening but was otherwise clean as well. The inside of the shank was clean and fresh. The pipe took very little prep other than repairing the cracked shank to ready it for the new stem.

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To prepare it for banding I checked through my box of bands to find one that would give a good tight fit when pressure fit to the shank. I found one that would work but also found that the carved grooves in the finish of the pipe made a tight fit to the shank virtually impossible to obtain. I used my dremel to remove some of the grooves to the depth of the band width. I checked the band fit several times and took off enough of the briar to obtain a tight fit. I was able to step down one size in bands and got a perfect fit. The next two photos show the shank prepared for the fitting of the band. I also used some superglue to repair the crack in the shank. I pried it open with a dental pick inserted in the shank and applied pressure to open the crack enough for the superglue. I dripped the glue into the crack and squeezed it shut until it dried. IMG_9869

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I slid the band on to start the fitting and then took it to my heat gun. I heated the band on the shank and then pressed it into place. I repeated the process until the band was properly placed on the shank. The next two photos show that process – I heat the band and then press it on using the piece of carpet on my work table.

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Once the band was in place I used my Dremel on the stem to remove the excess material on the diameter of the stem. I have found that if I run it at a medium speed I can control the sanding drum and not cut gouges in the vulcanite. It requires a steady hand and patience to get the work done without cutting too deeply into the stem and causing gouging that takes a lot of sanding to remove. After I cut away the necessary excess I also sanded the tenon for a proper fit in the shank. Once I had banded the pipe it no longer fit as easily. I wanted a smooth and snug fit but not one that would damage the shank. The picture below shows the stem after I have started sanding the stem with medium grit emery cloth to sand out the scratches and fine tune the fit against the band.

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I continued sanding with the emery cloth until the fit was what I wanted. The next two photos show the pipe with its new look. The band is in place and the stem fits. It is a nice chunky stem that I think matches the shape and flow of the bowl and shank nicely. I still had a lot of sanding to go. I continued with the emery cloth to remove the build up and oxidation around the button area. I decided to rework the entire stem and then polish it to a shine.

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The next series of two photos show the progressive work on the stem. In the background of the pictures are some of the tools that I used in the work – a flat file, emery cloth and some 280 grit sandpaper. When I had finished the stem to this point all that remained was to work on it with some 320 grit and some 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper before moving on to sanding it with the micromesh sanding pads.

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At this point I decided to take a break from sanding – the old fingers were getting a bit sore. I used a brass tire brush to clean off the remnant of tars on the rim and then restained the pipe with a dark brown aniline stain thinned 2:1 with isopropyl alcohol. I applied it with a dauber and then flamed it and restained a second time and flamed it again. I then took it to the buffer and buffed it with Tripoli and White Diamond to give it a shine and remove the excess stain from the high spots on the briar and lend a little contrast to the darkened grooves. The next two photos show the restained bowl.

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I filled my water bowl with warm water and took out the micromesh pads and began to sand the stem. I began by wet sanding with 1500, 1800 and 2400 grit micromesh pads that I wet with water and then sanded the stem. Between each pass on the stem I would wipe it dry to see how the scratch removal was progressing. The next three photos show the stem after sanding with the 1500 grit micromesh. The scratches are beginning to disappear. Before moving on to sanding with the 1800 grit I decided to polish the stem with Maguiars Scratch X2.0 I applied it by hand and the scrubbed it off with a cotton pad. The next four photos show that process with the applied polish and then the stem after wiping it off.

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After wiping the stem down a final time I wet sanded it with 2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wanted to continue to remove the surface scratches from the vulcanite and begin to move toward a polish.

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The next photo shows the stem after dry sanding with 3200 grit micromesh. The shine is deepening in the finish of the stem.

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I then shifted to dry sanding with 3600, 4000 and 6000, 8000 and 12,000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I sanded and wiped them down between each grit change. By the time I got to the 6000 the shine was visible and the finish was very smooth. The difference after sanding with the 8000 and 12,000 is remarkable.

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The final four photos below show the finished pipe. Once I had finished sanding it I gave it a final polish with the Maguiars and then took it to the buffer for a buff with White Diamond. I then rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil and finally gave it several coats of carnauba wax and a buff with a soft flannel buffing pad. The newly born Italian pot is ready to smoke and has a new streamlined look that I really like.

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