Tag Archives: shaping a stem

Cleaning up a Fascinating KBB Yello-Bole Premier Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

I am not sure where Jeff found this old pipe but I like it. Once again he showed that he has an eye for old and unique pipes. This one is a ¼ bent bulldog with a large bowl and a unique rustication pattern on the underside of the bowl and on the shank. The pattern on the shank was framed with smooth frames. The cap on the bulldog was also smooth above the twin rings. The bowl was coated with varnish or some shine coat that was worn off of the smooth part of the pipe but remained in the grooves. The rim top had a lot of dents and damage but that will become evident in the following photos. It was stamped on the left underside of the diamond shank on a smooth panel. It has the KBB in a cloverleaf and next to that it reads Yello-Bole over Cured with Real Honey. Next to that is the symbol for a registered trademark ® (R in a circle). Underneath it reads Premier over Imported Briar. On the stem is the propeller inset logo that appeared on older Yello-Bole pipes. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. Jeff took some close up photos of the rim top to show the condition of the bowl and rim. The bowl interestingly, still had some of the Yello-Bole Honey Cured coating on the top edge and the bottom half of the bowl. The rim and cap had been knocked hard on surfaces to empty the bowl. There was some lava and dirt on the rim top and the sides of the cap but there was very little cake in the bowl and the edges looked to be in good condition.Jeff also took photos of the bowl from various angles to show the condition of the finish. You can see the crackling varnish and dust in the grooves of the rustication. The varnish is worn off the smooth portions and high spots on the rustication. There is also dust and crackling varnish filling in the twin rings that separate the smooth cap from the rusticated lower portion. The stamping on the left underside of the diamond shank is clear and readable. The KBB in the cloverleaf has more wear than the rest of the stamping. You can also see the grime on the finish in the photo below. The second photo shows the propeller logo on the top left side of the diamond saddle stem.The stem was in decent condition. It was oxidized on both sides of the stem. There were some nicks and tooth marks on both sides near the button and on the top and underside of the button itself. There were no deep tooth marks which is really a relief.I went back to a previous blog about the various Yello-Bole logos in my collection of these pipes. I reread that blog to try to narrow down a date for the pipe. Here is the link to the post and the comments on the blog: https://rebornpipes.com/2013/01/25/yello-bole-logos-from-my-collection-of-old-yello-bole-pipes/. There was a comment on that blog that came from Troy who I consider my go to guy for Yello-Bole information (who has written on rebornpipes and also has a blog of his own). Troy wrote as follows on dating Yello-Bole pipes by the stamping and logos.

“I have a large KBB Yello-Bole collection. They are some of my most favorite pipes and the best smokers for the money (briar wise) you can find in my opinion. I have restored and researched them quite a bit. I have several listed on my blog that I have cleaned or restored. I own about 30-40 KBB Yello-Boles now.”

“Here is a little guide to dating KBB Yello-Boles. If it has the KBB stamped in the clover leaf it was made 1955 or earlier as they stopped the stamping after being acquired by S.M. Frank. From 1933-1936 they were stamped Honey Cured Briar. Pipes stems stamped with the propeller logo they were made in the 30s or 40s no propellers were used after the 40s. Yello-Bole also used a 4 digit code stamped on the pipe in the 30s. If the pipe had the Yello-Bole circle stamped on the shank it was made in the 30s this stopped after 1939. If the pipe was stamped BRUYERE rather than briar it was made in the 30s.” (NB. The portions above in bold and underlined were highlighted as they pertain to the present pipe.)

From that information I ascertained the following. The rusticated Premier Bulldog I had was stamped with KBB in the cloverleaf on the left underside of the shank which told me that the pipe was made before 1955. It had a propeller logo on the stem which further placed it in the period of the 30s and 40s. With all of that collected I knew the pipe was made between 1930 and 1949 which means that this old Bulldog has seen a lot of life. I wish it could tell its story.

Ah well… I don’t know for sure where it came from or what previous pipeman carried the trust of this pipe before it came to me. It still needed to be cleaned up. I turned my attention to the restoration of the Bulldog.

Jeff had worked his magic in cleaning up this pipe. It is nice to work on pipes that he has cleaned up once again. He reamed it with a PipNet reamer and smoothed the walls of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim and shank with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to the oils and tars on the bowl, rim and shank. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove much of the crackling varnish in the grooves of the rustication and the briar beneath was in good condition. The cleaning of the stem left a light oxidation in the vulcanite. The tooth marks were clean but visible. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. I took some photos of the rim top and cap to show what it looked like after Jeff had cleaned off the grime and tars. The briar was in good condition but there were some deep gouges and scratches in the flat top and there were knock marks all around the cap surface. The stem was oxidized and showed tooth chatter and wear but it was otherwise in good condition. There were no deep tooth marks.I started my work on this pipe by lightly topping the bowl to remove the damage to the surface of the rim. It did not take too much topping to remove the damaged areas.I wiped the bowl down with acetone on cotton pads to remove the varnish that remained. I worked it into the grooves of the rustication with a brass bristle wire brush. Once I was finished the finish was clean and the grain looked really good on the cap and the rim top. The rustication was clean. I took photos of the bowl after the clean up to show the condition of the bowl at this time. It is beginning to look really good. In the third photo below you can see the Yello-Bole Honey Coat still present on the walls of much of the bowl. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to sand out the nicks in the surface of the cap and to smooth out the small nicks around the outer edge of the flat rim top. I polished the rim top and the smooth portions of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. I rubbed some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar to enliven, clean and preserve it. I rubbed it in with my fingertips working it into the briar. I worked it into the nooks and crannies in the rustication on the bowl and the shank a shoe brush. I set it aside for a little while to let the balm do its work. I buffed it off with a cotton cloth and then buffed it with a microfiber cloth. The photos below show the pipe at this point in the restoration process. I set aside the bowl and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the tooth chatter and the oxidation off the surface of the vulcanite. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil and took some photos of the stem at this point.I polished the stem using micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and then buffing on the wheel with red Tripoli. I dry sanded the stem with 3200-12000 grit pads to further polish it. After each pad I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil to protect and enliven the stem. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. When I finished with the polish I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. This older rusticated KBB Yello-Bole Premier Bulldog is an interesting and unusual piece. The rustication on the bowl is really unusual and the framing of it on the shank is quite unique. The smooth rim and cap is quite nice and has some birdseye and swirled grain undulating in the briar. The reddish brown of the bowl and the black of diamond vulcanite stem contrast well together. I buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond polish to raise the shine on the briar and the vulcanite. I lightly buffed the rim top and shank end as well. I was careful to not buff the stamping and damage it. I gave the smooth parts bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand waxed the rustication with several coats of Conservator’s wax. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside Diameter: 2 inches, Diameter of the chamber: ¾ of an inch. It is an interesting old pipe and should make a great collectible piece. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

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Restoring a Second Bari De Luxe Mahogany Freehand…


Blog by Steve Laug

I was emailing back and forth with a pipeman in Edmonton who wanted to sell of his pipes. He was cleaning up things and thought he would see if I was interested in them. He said that he had several Bari’s that were in the lot and he wanted to move those out. He sent me photos of the pipes he had and we soon struck a deal. Since we were both in Canada it did not take long for the package to make its way to me. I opened it and went through his pipes to see what I had to work on. There were some pipe racks and accessories in the box as well. I went through the pipes and set them aside. Today I decided it was time to start working on them. I chose a second Bari De Luxe Mahogany Freehand as the second of those Bari’s that I would work on. I have included two of the photos of the pipe that he sent to me before I purchased the lot. You can see that it was a well-loved pipe and one that he smoked often. The finish on the sides and shank was in good condition but dirty. The shank end was a nice natural plateau but not as craggy as the previous one. The rim top had an over flow of lava on the top and there was a burn mark on the back inner edge of the rim. Under the tar and lava it looked like the rim top was in good condition. The stain highlighted the beautiful grain on the briar and the plateau was stained black in stark contrast to the reddish brown of the bowl. The bowl was caked and would need to be reamed but otherwise good condition. The stem was cleaner than the previous one and did not have any sticky substance on it. There was some oxidation under the oil but there were not any tooth marks or chatter on the surface. Tenon end was chipped and broken and would need to be repaired. I took the following photos of the pipe before I began the cleanup. (The pipe came in an original Bari pipe sock.) I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem to show the condition of the pipe when I started. The rim top shows damage at the back inner edge of the bowl and on the rim top at that point as well. Other than general darkening and tar around the inner edge of the bowl the rim shows some nice grain. The plateau on the shank end is in excellent condition. The stem surface is in good condition other than some oxidation. When I took the stem out to examine the tenon and shank I found a surprise. When I spoke with John he was unaware of the issue as well and was surprised. The tenon had a large chunk out of the top side. There was almost half of the tenon missing.I took photos of the stamping on both sides of the shank. On the left it was stamped Bari over De Luxe over Mahogany and on the right side it was stamped Hand Made in Denmark. The stamping was faint toward the bowl on both sides of the shank but was still readable.In the previous blog on the Bari De Luxe Freehand I quoted a section from Pipedia on Bari pipes. Here is the link to the article on Pipedia: https://pipedia.org/wiki/Bari. I summarize the material that I found there as it gives a clear picture of the brand. I have been working on several pipes by Viggo Nielsen recently so it was a good reminder.

Pipedia states that Bari Piber was founded by Viggo Nielsen in Kolding, Denmark around the turn of 1950/51. His sons Kai and Jørgen both grew into their father’s business from a very young age and worked there till 1975. Both have become successful pipe makers.

Bari successfully adapted the new Danish design that had been started mainly by Stanwell for its own models. Bari was sold in 1978 to Van Eicken Tobaccos in Hamburg, Germany though the pipes were still made in Denmark. From 1978 to 1993 Åge Bogelund and Helmer Thomsen headed Bari’s pipe production.

Helmer Thomson bought the company in 1993 re-naming it to “Bari Piber Helmer Thomsen”. The workshop moved to more convenient buildings in Vejen. Bogelund, who created very respectable freehands of his own during the time at Bari got lost somehow after 1993. Bari’s basic conception fundamentally stayed the same for decades: series pipes pre-worked by machines and carefully finished by hand – thus no spectacular highgrades but solid, reliable every day’s companions were what they turned out. The most famous series are the smooth “Classic Diamond” and the blasted “Wiking”.

I started my cleanup of this pipe by working on the internals. I reamed out the cake with a PipNet pipe reamer and took the cake back to the bare briar. I scraped out the remnants in the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I sanded the walls in the bowl with a piece of dowel wrapped with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth the walls. I sanded the rim top with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove the burn damage on the back side of the bowl. I polished the sanded area with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the surface down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. The first photo is a reminder of where things were at when I started the cleanup. While the burn mark was not totally removed it looked much better than when I started the cleanup. I used an Oak stain pen to restain the entire rim top. I used a Mahogany stain pen to touch up the inner edge of the bowl to try to blend in the darkening around the edges. Once the stain dried I rubbed it lightly with an alcohol dampened cotton pad to blend the colours together.I rubbed some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar to enliven, clean and preserve it. I rubbed it in with my fingertips working it into the briar. I worked it into the nooks and crannies in the plateau on the rim and the shank end using a cotton swab. I brushed those areas with a shoe brush to work it in more deeply and spread it out. I set it aside for a little while to let the balm do its work. I buffed it off with a cotton cloth and then buffed it with a microfiber cloth. The photos below show the pipe at this point in the restoration process. I scraped the mortise walls with a sharp pen knife to remove the lacquer build up from tobacco juices and oils. It was thickly coated. Once I had that finished I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol. It was dirty but I was surprised it was as clean as it was all things considered. I cleaned the airway in the stem the same way as the shank.I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I reshaped the button with a needle file and sharpened the edge against the surface of the stem. I sanded the surface of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the light tooth chatter on the surface of the stem and to break up the oxidation that was prevalent in the grooves and spindles of the stem.  I started the process of rebuilding chipped tenon. I have done this on one other pipe and was quite happy with the results. I mixed a batch of charcoal powder and super glue to make a putty to start the rebuild. I applied it to the edge of the tenon with the sharp tip of a sanding stick. I wanted to layer the edge until the tenon was sharp and smooth. It would be a process of layering and shaping to get what was needed. The process was quite simple – set a base of the superglue and charcoal and shape the repair. Add more of the mix to the tenon and shape it again. The process would be repeated until the tenon was even all the way around. The pictures tell the story of the rebuild process. I applied another coat of the glue to fill in the airspaces left from the charcoal powder. I sanded the rebuilt tenon smooth with 220 grit sandpaper. I wiped the end down with Obsidian Oil after sanding it smooth. It is starting to look really good and once the repair cures it will be durable.I set the stem aside and let it cure overnight and worked on other pipes. When I picked it up again this morning I polished it using micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and then buffing on the wheel with red Tripoli. I dry sanded the stem with 3200-12000 grit pads to further polish it. After each pad I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil to protect and enliven the stem. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. When I finished with the polish I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. This second Bari De Luxe Mahogany Freehand is another beauty with swirling, straight and flame grain all around the bowl. The shank end has some interesting looking plateau that is deep and craggy. The smooth rim is quite nice and has some swirls of grain undulating in the briar. The brown of the bowl and the black of the plateau look really good with the black of the turned vulcanite stem. I buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond polish to raise the shine on the briar and the vulcanite. I lightly buffed the rim top and shank end as well. I was careful to not buff the stamping and damage it. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 1/8 inches, Outside Diameter: 1 3/4 inches, Diameter of the chamber: ¾ of an inch. This is the second Bari De Luxe that I have worked on and it more average or medium in size. The combination of smooth and rugged looking plateau on the shank end makes it an interesting pipe. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

Restoring a Kriswill “Golden Clipper”


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

“………. and now make me handsome and desirable too!!!!!” This is what the sibling of the Kriswill “CHIEF”, the “GOLDEN CLIPPER” appeared to be demanding of me and who am I to refuse this lovely pipe. So here I am with all my enthusiasm to work on this beautiful pipe with mixed grains.

This was one of the pair of Kriswill pipes which was dug out by my younger daughter from the large pile of pipes, the other being Kriswill “CHIEF”. Both these beauties had an issue with their stems. The stem of the “CHIEF” did not sit flush with the shank and appeared smaller in diameter compared to the shank, while the stem of the “GOLDEN CLIPPER” sat flushed with the shank but was larger in diameter than the shank. I addressed this issue in an ingenious way and completed the restoration of the “CHIEF”. For those interested in knowing the issue of stem in detail, process to address it and the complete restoration, please follow the link https://rebornpipes.com/2018/08/04/breathing-new-life-into-a-kriswill-chief-20/. I am sure you will find it an interesting read.

My joys knew no bounds when the “CHIEF’S” stem fit perfectly like a glove in the shank of the “CLIPPER” (the time-consuming, cautious, accurate and nerve-wracking but enjoyable work of matching the stem and shank of the “CHIEF” still fresh in my mind!!!!!!). Here are the pictures of a perfectly matching stem and shank on the CLIPPER.This KRISWILL “GOLDEN CLIPPER” has a medium sized bowl with mixed grain. It is stamped “KRISWILL” over “GOLDEN CLIPPER” over “HANDMADE IN DENMARK” on the left side of the shank. At the bottom of the shank and close to the edge of the shank where it takes the stem, is stamped with number “54”.As I had determined the dating of this pipe, while searching information for the “CHIEF”, from 1970s (the snowflakes stamp on the stem and block letters on the shank were adopted post 1970), I proceeded to carry out a visual inspection of the condition of the pipe in my hand. This helps me map the road to restoring the pipe by identifying the issues involved and identify methods/ options to address the same.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION

The bowl is covered in dust, oils, tars and grime of yesteryear. It is filled with a thick cake and the lava has overflowed on to the rim. I would still say that this bowl is not as heavily caked as I have gotten used to with my grand old man’s pipes. The cake has completely dried out.The rim surface is pock-marked with few minor dents and dings of being banged around. Exact extent of damage, there appears to be some, to the inner edge will be known after the bowl has been reamed down to its bare briar. The outer edge of the rim appears to be in decent condition.The interchanging of stem with the CHIEF ensured a perfect fit of the stem on this pipe and required no matching the fit to the shank end. The stem is, again comparatively to what I have dealt with before, lightly oxidized with light tooth chatter. The lip has been bitten off at one place and will need to be rebuilt and reshaped. There is some calcification seen around the lip on either surface. As I have come to expect, the airway in the stem is blocked and the mortise is clogged with gunk, debris and tars. I will need to clean both to ensure an open draw.The stummel needs to be cleaned. I will have to decide if I should retain the stain finish or polish it to its natural look and match it to its bigger sibling, the “CHIEF”.
THE PROCESS
Abha, my wife, dealt with the cake by reaming the chamber with a Kleen Reem pipe tool and a British Buttner pipe tool. Using the fabricated pipe knife, she further scraped the cake from the bottom of the bowl and also the walls of the chamber. She was especially very careful while reaming with the knife so as not to damage the inner edge of the rim. Once the solid briar was exposed, she further smoothed the walls and removed remaining cake by sanding with a 180 followed by 220 and 600 grit sand paper. Another advantage of this process is the elimination of traces of ghosting to a great extent. She gently scraped the rim top with the sharp edge of the knife and removed the accumulated overflow of lava. Abha followed this by scrubbing the chamber walls with cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This removed the fine cake dust, leaving the chamber clean, fresh and smooth. As can be seen from the picture, after the cleaning, the dents and dings are more pronounced and will need to be addressed. Further, if observed closely, there is a small chip to the inner edge which can be seen on the right side in the 3 o’clock direction. I had the following two courses of action to choose from to address these issues:-
(a)        Create a slight bevel on the inner edge to eliminate the inner edge chip.
(b)        Topping the rim on a topping board.

Abha suggested proceeding with the second option since the “CHIEF” was without a bevel and as these were together, she wanted to maintain the similarities as far as possible. I concurred with her since topping will also address the minor dents and dings seen on the rim top. I gently topped the stummel on a 220 grit sand paper, frequently checking the progress.  This is very important since you do not want to lose too much briar and there is always a fear of distorting the proportions of the pipe due to excessive sanding. How much sanding is sufficient, is a question to which the answer can never be quantified. For me the mantra is, topping or sanding should be kept to the minimum and preserve maximum briar even at the cost of very minute dents/ chips being visible.

I topped the bowl just enough to address the dents and dings on the rim surface. The small nick to the inner edge of the rim has also been addressed to a great extent, but not completely. It is barely perceptible in person and acceptable to me. Hence, I left it at that!!I cleaned out the internals of the shank/ mortise and airway using pipe cleaners, cue tips and isopropyl alcohol. Thereafter using undiluted Murphy’s oil soap and tooth brush, I cleaned all the tars, oils, dust and grime from the bowl and washed it under running water. I wiped it down with paper towels and a soft cotton cloth.

Using a brown stain pen (Yes!!! I finally have them, thanks to my guru, Mr. Steve who had diligently packed them with the pipes that he had sent me after repairs, when he learnt that I was unable lay my hands on them), I stained the rim to match the rest of the bowl and set it aside to dry out. In my haste to finish the restoration, I forgot to click pictures of the above mentioned process and the look of the pipe at this stage.

While the stummel was kept aside for drying, I turned my attention to the stem. Starting with the use of Bic lighter, I painted the surface with its flame to raise the tooth chatter and bite marks as much as possible. I scrubbed the stem with a piece of moist Mr. Magic Clean sponge to clean the stem of the calcification. Minor tooth chatter was addressed to a great extent, however, some stubborn and deep bite marks and the bitten off lip stood out like sore thumb!!! Having learnt my lessons and working around the handicap of glue, I spot applied clear CA superglue with a tooth pick and set it aside to cure over night. The next morning, I applied another layer of the superglue and set it aside to cure. The reason I decided to adopt this technique is because the glue I have and available to me is of very thin consistency and hence the layering technique. After 24 hours, I checked the fills and proceeded to sand down the fills and reshape the edge of the button with a flat head needle file to match the surface of the stem. Using a 220 grit sand paper followed by wet 320 grit sand paper, I evened out the fill and removed oxidation from the stem surface. Thereafter, I used micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 pads. I deeply rubbed a very small quantity of Extra Virgin Olive oil after every three pads. I am pleased with the way the stem has turned out. It is now smooth and shiny.Using normal and bristled pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol, I completely cleaned out the airway in the stem till the pipe cleaners came out nice and clean from the other end. However, when I checked the draw, I found it to be constricted and laborious. It was not a free flowing and open draw. I checked the alignment of the airway in the stem and shank and realized that the airway was not aligned. With a rounded needle file, I file down the tenon hole and the mortise opening in the shank to the point where there are perfectly aligned. Now the draw is full and open.

By this time, the stain on the rim top has dried out and I applied a small quantity of Before and After Restoration balm to the entire surface of the stummel, including the rim top. This product is absolutely fantastic as it freshens up the briar and makes the grain to pop out. Using a horse hair shoe brush, I buffed the bowl. Later, with a soft cotton cloth, I polished it to a nice shine. As a final touch, I rubbed a very small quantity of PARAGON wax on to the stem and the stummel. A few seconds later, using muscle power and a microfiber cloth, I polished the entire pipe to a lovely shine. Here are the pictures of the finished pipe. Hope you enjoyed reading the write up and yes, my apologies for the lack of pictures since I had to catch a flight late in the evening to rejoin my duty station, I forgot to take pictures at this stage as completing the restoration was priority task.

The Last of Boston’s Peretti Oom Paul Sitter Recommissioned


Blog by Dal Stanton

I’ve enjoyed restoring a Lot of 10 Peretti pipes and recommissioning them for new stewards.  All the Oom Pauls in the picture below, except for one which I added to my collection, are in the hands of new stewards except for the one on my worktable now.  I have been pleased to hear back from stewards who have these Oom Pauls and often I’ve heard that they have become favorites in their rotation lineups! I like Perettis myself and have a healthy collection of them.  They are great smokers in my experience and my Peretti Oom Paul is a favorite for me too – he hangs on the chin perfectly, like a good lap dog!  When I began my research on the L J Peretti name, I was surprised to discover that it is not an Italian pipe as one might expect with such a name!  In fact, I discovered the genesis of a significant story of Americana pipe history with the establishment of the L. J. Peretti Company of Boston in 1870 (Pipedia citing: Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks, by José Manuel Lopes), the second oldest tobacco shop in the US, second only to Iwan Ries & Co. of Chicago established in 1857 (See: Link).  The Peretti family originally comes from Switzerland, but the Italian name is explained by the fact that they originated from the southern slopes of the Swiss Alps which flows south toward Italy more easily than to the north – the heart of Switzerland.  The Calabash (upper left) and the Goliath Billiard (bottom) are waiting to be restored to be added to my collection of Perettis.  The hefty Egg in the middle is already in my lineup!Brian commissioned two pipes (See: For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only), a nice looking Jobey Hand Rubbed Dublin (next on the worktable) and the Oom Paul Sitter before me – both pipes benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks Brian!  For a close-up look at the Oom Paul Sitter, I take several pictures on my worktable.  The nomenclature is the simple L.J. PERETTI stamp on the left shank.  This Oom Paul shares every single challenge that his former brothers had – the former steward seemed to have a scorched earth policy.  The chamber is heavily caked, and the rim scorched.  The rim challenges are the most daunting for this restoration.  The stummel has a build up of grime and minor nicks from usual wear.  The stem has significant oxidation and bit clenching and chewing which needs addressing.  To begin the restoration of this, the last Peretti Oom Paul Sitter in need of a new steward, after cleaning the internal airway with a pipe cleaner dipped in isopropyl 95%, I put the stem in a soak with Before & After Deoxidizer along with 5 other stems.  After some hours soaking, I fish out the Peretti stem and wipe off the raised oxidation with a cotton pad wetted with light paraffin oil (mineral oil in Bulgaria).  The Deoxidizer seems to have done an adequate job. Next, I attack the chamber carbon cake build up using the Pipnet Reaming Tool.  Putting paper towel down to minimize clean up, starting with the smallest blade head, I use 3 of the 4 blades available to me. I follow the blade heads by using the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to reach down into the chamber to scrape more carbon off the wall.  Then, to clean the chamber and to bring out fresher briar, I sand the chamber using a piece of 240 grit paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  To remove the thick carbon dust left behind, I wipe the chamber with cotton pads wetted with alcohol.  After clearing the cake away, a look into the chamber reveals no problems – no heat cracks or fissures.  Good! Now to scrub the stummel surface and the rim with its thick lava I start with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and cotton pads.  I also use a brass brush on the rim to break up the lava crust.  To scrape the rim, I use a pin knife as well as the straight edge of the Savinelli Fitsall tool.  As I scrape the crust off, I also remove the scorched charcoal that is on the inside of the rim mainly on the left side of the stummel – the area where the former steward damaged all his pipes.  The result is that the left side of the rim is narrower after the cleaning.  The stummel is in great condition – the rim is the challenge. Before moving on with the rim repairs I continue with the internal cleaning of the stummel.  Using pipe cleaners and cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 95% I go to work. I also employ a dental scalpel to scrape the internal wall.  I’m pleased that there wasn’t too much resistance.  At the end of my work day I’ll continue the cleaning process by giving the stummel a kosher salt and alcohol soak.Turning now to the stem, I begin addressing the tooth dents and chatter on the bit.  With his brother Oom Pauls, there usually was some button damage too, but this guy’s in better shape in that regard.  I first use the heat method to raise the vulcanite dents to make them less severe.  By heating the vulcanite, it expands, and the dented vulcanite naturally seeks its original positioning.  I use a Bic lighter and paint the upper and lower bit and after heating several passes, I do see a lessening of the severity of the dents as the vulcanite expands.  As a result, I can sand the remaining dents out with both the upper and lower bit.  Before the heating:After the heating:I sand out the damage using 240 grit paper.I move on to using 600 grit paper by wet sanding the entire stem.  I follow this with 0000 steel wool sanding/buffing the entire stem.Moving forward with the stem, I wet sand using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  To revitalize the vulcanite, I apply a coat of Obsidian Oil after each set of 3 pads.  I love the glossy pop! Looking now to the stummel, I see a few very small, nicely camouflaged fills which are in good shape, but I see one significant cut into the briar that needs attention.  To address it, using a toothpick, I lay a line of thick CA glue over the cut.  I set the stummel aside to allow the patch to cure.After a while, the patch has set enough for me to work on the rim.  The bad news is that the loss of briar on the left side of the internal rim from scorching is gone – it can’t be replaced.  The good news is that the aesthetic imbalance of the rim as a result can be mitigated somewhat by creating a bevel around the entire rim.  The bad news – there is additional loss of briar.  In restoring a pipe there’s always this tension between loss and gain.  With this Peretti, as with all his Oom Paul brothers, I did the same thing and they turned out well.  I start the process by taking the stummel to the topping board to remove the damaged wood on the top. Topping an Oom Paul can be a challenge because the shank extends beyond the plane of the rim.  So, to top the rim, the shank needs to hang off the side, so it isn’t unintentionally topped!  I take a picture to mark the start. I turn some rotations on the board and check out the progress.  I also utilize a small sanding block which allow me to focus on a certain area of the rim.  After the 240 paper, I put 600 grit paper on the board and do a few more rotations.  The pictures show this progress. Now, using a tightly rolled piece of coarse 120 grit paper, I begin beveling the internal rim edge – hoping to bring more balance to it.  I take a bird’s eye picture first to mark the progress.  I pinch the paper under my thumb as I move it in the areas of the rim to be reduced.  While I work on equalizing the rim diameter, I’m also sanding down the chamber to taper the walls as they move downwardly.  I’m looking for greater aesthetic balance.  I come to the point where I’ve done all I can do.  I think it looks much better.  I do another bird’s eye shot for comparison. I take the stummel one more time to the topping board using 600 grade paper.  I do this simply to reestablish the lines after the sanding. One more thing I want to do with the rim.  I’ve worked on the inside balance, now I also introduce a very gentle bevel on the outside of the rim.  I do this to soften the edge which is sharp after the topping.  I use 120 grit paper then 240 and finish with 600 – each rolled tightly.  With the rim repair done, I take the flat needle file and begin to file down the patch on the side of the stummel.  When I bring the patch down close to the surface, I switch to using 240 grit paper to remove the excess patch to the briar surface, making the patch area flush with the surface.  I then finish the sanding with 600 grit paper.  The patch will blend well later.My day has ended and I will continue the cleaning process of the stummel with a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  This freshens the briar and draws out more latent tars and oils from the briar.  I fashion a wick from a cotton ball by pulling and twisting it.  I insert it down the mortise and airway.  I then fill the bowl with kosher salt, which has no aftertaste, and then put isopropyl 95% into the bowl until it surfaces over the salt.  I wait a few minutes and top off the alcohol and turn out the lights. The next morning the soak has done the job through the night.  The salt and wick show soiling from the tars and oils.  I clean the stummel of residue salt with paper towel, blowing through the stummel, and to be on the safe side, I run a cotton bud with alcohol through the mortise to clean up any leftover remnants – after a couple of cotton buds I move on. The next step is to address the external briar surface of the Peretti Oom Paul Sitter.  I filled the one cut I saw on the surface that stood out.  There are other nicks and scratches that are normal from use.  To address these, I use micromesh pads.  I first wet sand using pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sanding 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  The grain looks good as the micromesh pads coaxed it out.  The one bummer is the darkened wood from the scorching damage around the inner edge of the rim.  That will not go away because it would sacrifice too much briar to accomplish it. Since the rim had been topped and sanded, it is a shade lighter than the rest of the stummel.  To remedy this, I apply a maple color dye stick around the rim.  I forgot to take a starting picture for comparison but here is the aftermath.  It looks good and matches well.As I’ve done with all the other Peretti Oom Pauls (and one Bent Billiard!) I restored, I kept the color true to the original as much as possible.  To do this I used Before & After Restoration Balm on the briar and it does a great job deepening and enriching the color already there.  I do the same with this Sitter.  I squeeze some of the Balm on my fingers and work it into the surface.  The Balm starts with the consistency of light oil but as it is worked into the briar it gradually thickens to a wax-like feel.  After applying it fully and working it in, I set the stummel aside for a while, about 30 minutes to allow the Balm to do its thing and take a picture.After about 30 minutes I use a clean cloth to wipe and buff off the Balm.  I’m pleased with the results.  Turning now to the application of Blue Diamond compound, I rejoin stem and stummel, mount a cotton cloth wheel onto the Dremel, set the speed at 40%, and methodically apply the compound.  After finished, I wipe the pipe with a felt cloth to remove compound dust in preparation for the wax.  I mount a different cotton cloth wheel to the Dremel dedicated to applying carnauba wax, leave the speed at 40% and again, methodically apply a few coats of wax to stem and stummel.  I finish the restoration of the Oom Paul Sitter by giving the pipe a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine.

I am very pleased with the restoration of this, my last for now, Peretti Oom Paul Sitter.  The grain is rich on the huge, ample bowl which is the reason many pipe men and women desire an Oom Paul in their collections. The added benefit to this Oom Paul is that it is a Sitter.  He can comfortably join his steward at a table playing cards or board games!  Brian commissioned (see For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only) this Peretti Oom Paul Sitter and will have the first opportunity to acquire it in 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!

Fashioning a Churchwarden from a Forlorn, Throw away Billiard – a story of the Phoenix


Blog by Dal Stanton

The Greek mythological Phoenix is a long-lived bird that cyclically regenerates or is otherwise born again, according to Wikipedia.  It is regenerated out of its own demise, from its own ashes.  The images that come to mind are Harry Potter-esque – the Phoenix’s name is Fawkes and “as stated by Dumbledore, they are extremely loyal creatures, and are capable of arriving to the aid of beings who share a similar devotion. This was how Fawkes arrived to assist Harry in slaying the Basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets during his second year at Hogwarts” (LINK).  The tear of the Phoenix could also bring healing and recovery from near death.

What does the Phoenix have to do with pipes and Billiards?  True confession: I enjoy immensely working on vintage pipes with well-known and sought names like Dunhill, Savinelli, Comoy’s, Stanwell, GBD, Jeantet and BBB.  But truth be known, I LOVE taking the throwaways, the discarded, the ‘only good for the waste heap’ pipes – that make most people cringe and reach for latex gloves – to take these pipes and see what I can do to help.  There is a satisfaction at the end of such projects that translates into, ‘Wow! Who could have imagined…!”  The discovery of hidden beauty that was always there, but no one took the time to help it emerge.   I guess, at the core of it is the sense that sometimes people are treated in such a way or may view themselves in such a way that does not reflect the often hidden value that people intrinsically have.  Helping is seeking to bring new life out of the ashes of the past.

I want you to meet my forlorn Billiard stummel.  I’m sure that one past day he enjoyed the attention of a steward.  He proudly was settled on the rack with other proud pipes of The Rotation.  One day something happened, and he lost that favored position, and everything changed.  I found him in a bag of a second-hand/antique vendor in Sofia, Bulgaria’s ‘Antique Market’ in the city-center.  The bag was full of broken and discarded stems, stummels and other things unrecognizable.  He had no stem.  I plucked him out of the bag along with a few other pieces, paid the vendor a very small sum for what had no value to the vendor or to anyone else.  The small Billiard stummel was marked with the most generic of all markings, ‘Real Briar’.  Absolutely nothing special.  Here are pictures of the redeemed Billiard on my worktable. I just completed the restoration of a Monarch Pat. 1989069 – 1074H Bent Ball  for Andy, a pipe man living in Maryland, who attends the church where I was formerly the pastor on the Eastern Shore – the peninsula created by the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean east of Washington DC.  Andy commissioned the Monarch from the ‘For Pipe Dreamers Only!’ section on my blog.  He told me he was also hoping to land a Peretti Oom Paul and a Churchwarden someday.  He had seen several of the Peretti Lot of Oom Pauls that I had already restored and recommissioned for new stewards and was hopeful.  I had no more Perettis to share, but I proposed that I could fashion a Churchwarden from repurposed stummels.  I also had one 8-inch Warden stem left in my stores.  Not long ago, I completed a fun restoration I called ‘A Tale of 3 Church Wardens’ – where I fashioned 3 Churchwardens that all found new stewards in Germany.  I directed Andy to check out the post to decide what he wanted to do.  It didn’t take long and he decided to add a Churchwarden to his Monarch Bent Ball – each of these pipes benefit the work we do here in Bulgaria with the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited to find a new life and hope.  The next question for Andy was what stummel would mast the Warden stem and rise from the ashes like the Phoenix?  Here were the options I sent to Andy with a warning not to be distracted by the color or condition – to look only at the shape.  Here’s what he saw.From the top, his choices were a Rhodesian, a Panel, a carved Apple and the forlorn Billiard.  Andy chose the classic Billiard shape, influenced mainly by the longer shank which will add a bit of flow to the Churchwarden he would become when transformed.  The interesting factoid that I reported before, in my writeup of the 3 Churchwardens, was from Bill Burney’s Pipedia Pipe Chart. It provides the framework for forlorn bowls to rise as the Phoenixes.  What brings this power?  A Churchwarden stem:As you would expect, our Billiard that Andy chose has many challenges.  The worst of his obvious problems is the rim which has been chewed and gnarled! It has a large divot on the internal lip over the shank.  Also, on the shank side, the rim slopes away having endured a ‘skinned knee’ experience.   The old finish is totally old and the stummel has some small fills that need checking.  Yet, underneath the grime and tired finish – where there is finish, is briar grain with potential.  I begin the story of this Billiard hoping to rise as a Phoenix by doing the basic cleaning of the stummel before fashioning the precast Churchwarden stem.  To mark the beginning of the restoration, I take a picture of the Billiard stummel with the Warden stem – the place where Pipe Dreamers begin!I take a picture of the chamber and see that there is very little cake build up, but I also see that it appears someone took a pocket knife to the chamber in the past – with little care.  I take the Savinelli Fitsall Tool and I ream the bowl of residue carbon.  Following this, I sand the chamber with 240 grit paper by wrapping the paper around a Sharpie Pen seeking to clean it but also to smooth the top of the chamber where knife marks were.  I then clean the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl to rid it of carbon dust.  The chamber wall seems to be in good shape – no cracks or heat fissures are visible, but I will need to do a bit more sanding – I’ll wait to do this along with the rim repair. Now I turn to internal cleaning of the stummel.  Using cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 95%, I realize very quickly that the grunge in this mortise and airway was thick.  I put the cotton buds down for a time and start scraping the mortise walls with dental spatulas.  I also insert a drill bit the size of the airway and hand turn it to excavate the tar and oil buildup.  In time the cotton buds started coming out less soiled.  I plan to give the stummel a kosher salt and alcohol soak through the night to clean the internals further and freshen the stummel for the new steward.  The pictures show the grunge warfare!With the stummel cleaned, I now turn to the precast Churchwarden stem.  I begin by pulling out my new electronic caliper that I acquired when I fashioned the 3 Churchwarden stems before.  I take an internal measurement of the Billiard’s mortise, which is the target.  The reading is 8.13 mm.  For a conservative target in shaping the new tenon on the precast Warden stem, I add .40 mm to the 8.13 which gives me a conservative target of 8.53 mm.  I now mount the drill bit to drill the tenon’s airway enlarging it to receive the guide pin for the Pimo Tenon Turning Tool, which I also just added to my tools.  I mount the Pimp Tenon Turning Tool into the drill chuck and cut a conservative practice cut on the tenon to get an initial measurement.  The practice cut measurement is 8.96 mm which means I need to remove around .43 mm to arrive at the conservative target of 8.53 mm.  The purpose of the conservative target is to get close to the exact size of the mortise, but not quite.  This leaves room to sand the tenon to fashion the custom size because every mortise is different.  The fit between the newly fashioned tenon and the mortise must be snug but not too tight. I crank down the blade on the Tenon Turning Tool a bit and make another practice cut and remeasure.  Now, I have a perfect example of why doing practice cuts is a good idea!  The next measurement was 8.23 – only .10 mm off the actual mortise size – too close for comfort.  I don’t want to risk taking off too much.  I back the blade off a little and recut.  I come to an 8.49 mm which is good.  Using a flat needle file, 120 and 240 grit papers I gradually bring the size of the tenon down.  After MANY filings/sanding and testing the fit in the mortise, I can seat the tenon snugly into the mortise.  The shank is slightly larger than the diameter of the stem when the stem is inserted into the mortise.  The picture below shows how the briar is extending at this point, but as I look around the shank, the amount of overhand is not the same.  I use the flat needle file to start bringing the briar overhang flush with the Warden stem. The picture below shows the shank having that ‘stuff pants look’ as the taper of the shank to the stem is not gradual.  To address this, I file and sand around the shank to create a more gradual tapering from the bowl through the shank to the Warden stem.  Most of the briar bulging was on the shank sides not on the upper and lower areas which look pretty good. After a lot of sanding with a flat needle file, 120 and 240 papers, I arrive at a nicer tapering from shank to stem.  I sacrificed the ‘Real Briar’ stamping on the left side of the shank for the more balanced look on both sides of the shank.  I thought about it for a few minutes, and sanded away in favor of a reborn Phoenix!  The shank overhang has been sanded out and the shank/stem junction is flush.  I like the flow from bowl, through the shank, and into the stem.  Before bending the stem, while still in the same customized position, I also file and sand down the sides of the precast stem to remove the seams created by the casting halves.  I aim for rounding the stem. With the Billiard’s straight shank, the bend will be very small and subtle.  Last time I fashioned Churchwarden stems I found that I was consistently overbending the stem and then I would need to back off the bend for the best look.  I place pipe cleaners in the stem at both ends to maintain the integrity of the airway during the heating and bending process.  I use a hot air gun and warm the vulcanite in the area where I make the bend.  As it warms, the vulcanite, a rubber compound, becomes supple and is fashioned easily.  After making the bend, by simply eyeballing it, I take the heated stem to the sink and cool it with tap water to set the bend.  I remount the bent stem and I like it.  It has a gentle bend, not too much.  The Phoenix is coming to life!Looking now to the stummel, I use a sharp dental probe to test the very small fills on the stummel.  They seem to be solid.  I then look at the gnarly rim.  The next step is to remove the damage by utilizing the topping board.  Using a chopping block, I place a sheet of 240 grade paper on it.  After inverting the stummel on the board, I begin to rotate the stummel over the paper.  I’m thankful for the fact that Churchwardens typically have smaller bowls.  That’s good news because I’m taking a bit of briar off the top.  After a while, there is still a divot on the inside of the rim over the shank which I will address by creating a bevel.  After the 240 grade rotation, I then use 600 for a bit and finish the topping. Using 120 grit paper, I start carving a bevel on the inside lip of the rim.  I follow by moving to the outside edge of the rim.  I create the bevel by pinching the rolled piece of sanding paper under my thumb and then methodically move it around the rim putting pressure on the paper.  The continuous movement is what keeps the bevel consistent.  I then follow with 240 paper for both the inside and outside edges of the rim.  I think it looks good – what an improvement!To address the stummel surface to remove the top surface and scratches and old finish, I start by using a coarse sanding sponge on the entire stummel.  I follow the coarse sponge with medium and then light sanding sponges.I decide now to continue working on the stem.  Using a flat needle file and 240 grit sanding paper I continue smoothing and shaping the stem.  I work on the rough button with the file to shape it with the file.  I sand the entire stem with 240 grit because, even though the stem is new, the vulcanite contains ripples and ribs from the casting process.  I work the stem with sand paper so that it’s smooth and the stem is rounded.  From filing and 240 grit, I sand the entire stem with 600 grade paper.  I finish this sanding phase by sanding/buffing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool.  The pictures show the progress. My day is ending and I finish at the worktable with a kosher salt and alcohol soak to further clean and refresh the stummel.  I create a wick from a cotton ball by stretching and twisting the cotton.  I then insert/stuff the wick in the mortise and airway.  I then put the stummel in an egg crate to stabilize it and fill the bowl with kosher salt which leaves no after taste as does iodized salt.  I then use a large eye dropper to fill the bowl with alcohol until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes I top off the alcohol.  I set the stummel aside and turn out the lights.The next morning the kosher salt and alcohol soak did the job – the salt and wick are soiled by drawing out more tars and oils from the mortise and airway.  After dumping the expended salt, I wipe the chamber with paper towel to remove the old salt.  I blow through the stummel as well to clear out the left overs. To make sure all is clean, I run a few more cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 95% through mortise.  Moving on.Time to micromesh the Churchwarden stem.  Using pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stem.  Following this, I dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 and then, 6000 to 12000.  After each set of 3 pads, I apply Obsidian Oil to the stem to enrich the new precast Warden stem.  I take only one picture at the end because it’s difficult enough to see the detail of black vulcanite with regular sized stems, with the Churchwarden stem, the picture is from orbit!With the stem drying, it’s time to begin the micromesh sanding of the stummel.  Using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stummel.  As has happened on previous restorations, the wetting of the stummel during the wet sanding process spelled the end of the once solid fills that I saw before.  The fill material must be made of a water-soluble material – not sure what it is, but it isn’t anymore! The fills fully disintegrated.The detour means that I need to apply patches to the pits – I mix briar dust and thick CA glue to form a putty that I apply to the holes.  I first use a sharp dental probe to make sure the pits are free of debris.  I use an index card to do the mixing by placing some dust in a pile. I then place some of the CA glue next to the briar dust.  Using a toothpick, I gradually draw a bit of the dust into the glue while mixing it with the toothpick.  I continue to do this until the putty reaches a molasses-like consistency. I then apply the putty to the places needed – there are a few. After applying the briar dust putty, I spray the patches with an accelerator to cure the patches more rapidly.  Then, using a flat needle file, I begin filing down the patches to near the briar surface.  Then I use 240 grit paper to remove the remaining excess patch material bringing the fill flush with the briar surface.  Following the 240 paper, I use 600 grit paper on each of the patch areas.  Finally, I return to the initial micromesh pads and sand the patches with 1500 to 2400 grade pads.  The detour is complete, back on track.  The pictures show the patch repairs.  These patches will blend very well. I pick up again by dry sanding using pads 3200 to 4000 and then 6000 to 12000.  The pictures show the finished result.  I enjoy so much watching the grain emerge during the micromesh process.  This lonely stummel just may be a Phoenix after all!At this point, aiming for the color preferences Andy described when he commissioned the Billiard, I will stain the stummel using the base as Fiebing’s Saddle Tan Pro Dye but add to it just a bit of Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye to darken it a bit.  I believe this will add more depth to the grain contrast – or I hope!  After mixing the dyes in a shot glass, and inserting a cork into the shank to act as a handle, I then warm the stummel using a hot air gun.  This expands the briar making the wood more receptive to the dye.  After warmed I apply the stain using a folded pipe cleaner.  After the stummel is completely covered, I flame the aniline stain using a candle.  The alcohol in the dye immediately combusts leaving the dye set in the grain.  After a few minutes, I repeat the same regimen including flaming.  I then set the stummel aside to rest and settle through the night.  The next morning, after an early 5AM trip to the Sofia Airport to drop off a summer intern who was returning to the US, I returned to the worktable ready to ‘unwrap’ the Billiard that had been dyed the night before.  I enjoy this a lot!  I mount a felt wheel on the Dremel, set to the lowest speed, and begin removing the flamed crust encasing the stummel.  I use the coarser Tripoli compound to do this.  As I work the buffing wheel methodically over the surface, I avoid applying too much downward pressure but allow the felt wheel, speed and compound to do the work. During the process, I purge the wheel often to clean it and keep it soft. After finishing with the felt wheel, I switch to a cotton cloth wheel and apply Tripoli to the crook between shank and stummel which the felt wheel is unable to reach.  After the Tripoli, I wet a cotton pad with alcohol and wipe down the stummel to blend the new stain and to lighten it a bit.In the same manner as the Tripoli compound, I apply Blue Diamond, a finer compound.  I mount another cotton cloth wheel on the Dremel, increase the speed to about 40% of full power.  I apply the compound to both stem and stummel.  After I finish, I wipe down both stem and stummel with a felt cloth to remove compound dust in preparation for applying the carnauba wax.  Before applying the wax, I want to add a special touch to this reborn Phoenix Billiard Churchwarden.  I decide to band the shank – always a nice touch.  I pull out my collection nickel bands and find one that fits over the shank but leaves about a 1/4 inch slack between the end of the shank and the end of the band.  To slide the band safely up the shank I heat the band with a hot air gun while on the shank at the tension point.  As the band heats, it will expand microscopically.  After a time of heating, I turn the shank downward and gently but firmly press down against a thick cloth on the hard wood surface.  This pressure moves the band up the shank a few millimeters and the cloth cushions the end of the band so it doesn’t bend with the pressure.  If one presses too hard and tries to expand the band too quickly, the nickel can rip – that is not good.  I got through the heating and pressing cycle a few times and the band is seated well.  I remount the stem and eyeball the band placement.  It looks good and I think the new steward will like this touch of class a lot for this Phoenix Billiard Churchwarden. Before I wax the pipe, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel that I use exclusively on nickel.  I want to shine the band up before applying wax.  I set the speed at 40% and apply White Diamond compound to the band.  I’m careful not to run the buffing wheel over the band to the briar as it can discolor the wood. I learned this the hard way in the past.  I’m not sure what the chemical process is, but when polished at high speed, a dark residue is produced.  You can see it on the White Diamond bar as well as on the wheel.  This is another reason why each compound and use have a dedicated wheel.  After finishing with the White Diamond buffing, I buff the band with a microfiber cloth and, oh my!  How it shines!Now, the home stretch.  Time to wax the pipe.  Again, I change to another cotton cloth wheel dedicated to carnauba, maintain a 40% speed on the Dremel, and apply a few applications of the wax to the stem and stummel.  I finish the polishing by hand buffing the Churchwarden with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine.

Few words describe the transformation of this lonely Billiard into a Phoenix.  Again, I’m amazed at the beauty in what God has created, even that which we often pass by with the shrug of the shoulders.  The gain revealed in the Billiard is beautiful.  The rim, gnarled as it was, looks great and is not diminished by the briar I was forced to take off.  As I look at it, the slightly squatter bowl works very well as the mast of the long, flowing Churchwarden stem.  The band mounted on the shank simply rocks, what can I say.  Andy commissioned this Billiard now Phoenix Churchwarden and he will have the first opportunity to acquire it in The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thank you for joining me in the telling of the story of the Phoenix!

Repairing a Chipped Button on a ≠ Ago Hand Made In Italy


Blog by Steve Laug

I received an email from Dave, a reader of rebornpipes about a pipe he had purchased recently. It seemed that he had dropped it after just a few smokes and chipped the top edge of the button. I told him I would have a look at the pipe and see what I could do with the chip in the button edge. It would be hard to know until I received the pipe to have a plan of repair but it was worth a shot. When the pipe arrived it was actually a beautiful pipe – well made, beautiful grain, handmade with a black Lucite stem that fit snuggly on the shank. The chip was small but very visible and had sharp edges. I have circled it in red in the second photo. This was the first ≠Ago pipe that I worked on. It was quite impressive. I can see why Dave wanted me to repair it for him. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem. The rim top and the bottom of the bowl had some beautiful birdseye grain. The bottom is stamped ≠Ago over Hand Made over Italy. The Lucite stem is well made. The ≠ logo is inset on the top side of the stem. The topside of the button has a chip out of it. I have circled it in red as is shown in the second photo below.I tried to take a close up photo of the chip in the topside of the button. It came out a little blurry but the chipped area is still visible.Once I had looked the pipe over and examined the chipped area I wrote Dave back to let him know that I would be glad to give the repair a try. I also asked him about the brand as it was a new brand to me. He wrote back the following email…

Steve:

Thanks so much. It is a terrific pipe.‎ The guy who makes them — actually he and his staff — is Gianmarco Ago. You won’t find his pipes in any stores. He’s made his name via the Internet, specifically Facebook. If you go online on Facebook, he has 2 pages:

* Gianmarco Ago‎
* Pipe ≠ Ago Hand Made In Italy Lifetime Guarantee

Go to either — or both — and click on “photos” so you can see a couple of years’ worth of his pipes. I have several and they are all very good smokers.

I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate your doing your “Lucite” thing and fixing the stem… Again, my thanks.

Best regards, Dave

I went to the Pipe≠Ago page on Facebook to get some background and history on the brand. Here is the link to the page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/gianmarcoagopipe/about/?ref=page_internal. I have included a section from the page that they entitled “Our Story”. I quote:

Pipe ≠ Ago, came into being due to a lucky meeting between Gianmarco Ago and skillful craftsmen. From this meeting ≠ Ago was born, a unique line, devoted and reserved, consisting of few refined items.

The ≠ Ago line has not wished to participate in an already saturated market, but desires to be an emblem, a philosophy of this article is limited to the requirements of friends who embrace the art of pipe smoking and have become enamoured of these small masterpieces reaching out with their shapes, colours and materials to one’s inner depths.

Pipe ≠ Ago is a hymn to the skill of the craftsmen who produce them. The aim of ≠ Ago is to make these works of art a moment of thought and aggregation for all, an area of research and of an opportunity to share… the symbol “different from” is intended as a synonym of a search for values in a congenial essence in becoming, an expression of diversity in the sense, as it were of a spiritual and intellectual enrichment.

Now that I knew some background on the pipe and the philosophy of the ≠Ago Company it was time to work on the repair and see what I could do with it. I used the sharp end of a sanding stick to start layering the black super glue onto the chipped area. I knew that this would be a process of building layers up until the chipped area had disappeared into the surface of the button area. It took time to build it up because I let the repair cure between each layer. As they cured I would add another layer of the glue.When the repair hardened I shaped the sharp edge of the button with a needle fill to clean up the edge and remove the overflow of glue on the surface. The second photo shows the repair at this point in the process. I still needed to fill in a few spots and to reshape the slot to accommodate the repair.I sanded out the file marks in the surface of the Lucite stem with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surface of the stem. I still need to shape the button a bit more. I started the process with a round and a knife blade needle file.I filled in the damaged areas a bit more with the glue and continued shaping the button with the needle files. I reshaped the repaired areas on the top and underside of the button.I continued to work on the shape of the slot. It was getting close and certainly looking better than when I started the repair.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads to polish out the scratches from the sandpaper. I wiped it down with a damp cotton pad after each sanding pad. I continued shaping the slot with files and folded sandpaper. The repair is smooth with the face of the button. The edge is clean on the inside of the slot.I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing wheel. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. Soon I will pack it up and ship it back to Dave. Thanks for reading the blog. It was an interesting challenge.

 

An email from France brought me another SINA pipe – a Horn Stemmed Chubby Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from Jean Paul in France asking if I was interested in purchasing an old pipe he had. It was stamped SINA on the left side of the shank and on the stem. I asked him to send me some photos of the pipe to show me what he was offering. He sent me the following photos – a left side view, a top view and a photo of the pipe taken apart. The pipe was definitely an old one. The stamping on the left side of the thick shank and on the horn stem had remnants of gold stamping and reads SINA. The rim top was dirty and had a thick looking overflow but it was hard to see what the cake looked like. The inner and outer edges of the bowl looked to be in good condition. The horn stem was in excellent condition with some light tooth chatter on both sides of the stem at the button. There was an inner tube that ran from the tenon end into the bowl. It was heavily lacquered with tobacco oils and tars but otherwise in good condition. I sent another email and a payment via Paypal and the pipe was mine. The pipe was soon on its way across the Atlantic. The SINA brand was not uncommon to me as I have previously worked on another older SINA – a Rhodesian with a hard rubber stem. If you are interested in reading about the restoration of that old pipe the link will take you to the blog (https://rebornpipes.com/2014/08/28/giving-new-life-to-a-sina-rhodesian/). I have included two photos of the other SINA pipe in my collection. It is also an old timer from the same time period. When I worked on that pipe I did a bit of research to find out about the maker of the SINA pipe. I have included the information I found for that blog below. I figured it would be good to have it here as well as in the earlier blog. I quote:

I looked on Pipephil’s site and was able to find out that there was indeed a connection to GBD. The connection was with the French branch of GBD.From the screen capture above you can see the two links under the photo on the left. The first connects the pipe to the Marechal Ruchon & Co. factory that made GBD pipes. They eventually sold out to the Oppenheimer group. The French brand was also connected to C.J. Verguet Freres and to Sina & Cie which were sold to Oppenheimer in 1903-1904. In 1905-1906 Oppenheimer merged the two companies. The accompanying chart gives an overview of the twisted trail of the GBD brand and its mergers and sales. The chart also comes from the Pipephil site and was the second link under the above photo. Once I had refreshed my memory on the SINA brand I knew that this second pipe was made before the 1905-1906 mergers as well. It fits well with the thick horn stem and the shape of the button and narrow slot opening. The thick shank also fits well with the period. I really like the shape and style of this era of pipe history so this one would be a pleasure to clean up. I took the following photos of the pipe when I took it out of the box. It was really dirty as I had guessed from the presale photos. It was in good condition underneath it looked like but it was a mess. The outside of the bowl was very dirty grime and tars covering the front and right side of the bowl. The rim top had a thick coat of lava and tars and there was a thick cake in the bowl. The stem looked pretty decent other than tooth marks on the top and underside near the button. I took close up photos of the rim top and both sides of the stem to show its condition. You can see from the photo the thick cake in the bowl and the overflow on the rim top. The second and third photos show the tooth marks chatter on both sides of the stem at the button. The final photo shows the SINA in a logo stamped on the left side of the shank.I took photos of the bowl from a variety of angles to show the ground in grime and dirt in the briar on the exterior. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer starting with the smallest cutting head and working up to the third cutting head. I took the cake back to the walls of the bowl. I cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to remove the cake that remained behind on the walls and on the bottom of the bowl. I sanded the inside of the bowl smooth with 180 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. I scraped the rim top with the Savinelli Fitsall Knife to remove the thick lava that had overflowed onto the rim. I wiped it down with acetone on cotton pads to remove the residual grime on the rim and around the bowl and shank.I took photos of the bowl after I had wiped it down with the acetone. The bowl looked quite good. There was some deep pits and nicks on the rim top and bowl edges as well as some burn marks toward the front of the bowl. I lightly topped the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board. I worked over the inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper.I polished the rim top and the rest of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth. I touched up the stain on the rim top with an Oak coloured stain pen to match the rest of the bowl. I would blend in the stain later in the process.I rubbed some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar to enliven, clean and preserve it. I rubbed it in with my fingertips working it into the briar. I set it aside for a little while to let the balm do its work. I buffed it off with a cotton cloth and then buffed it with a microfiber cloth. The photos below show the pipe at this point in the restoration process. I touched up the gold leaf in the oval SINA logo on the left side of the shank using Rub’n Buff Antique Gold. I rubbed it into the stamping on the shank side and pressed it into the stamp with the sharp point of a sanding stick. Once the gold had dried I buffed it off with a cotton cloth. The second photo shows the stamp after the touch up. It does not look too bad for a pipe made before 1905-06.I scraped out the inside of the shank with a dental spatula to remove the lacquered tars and oils that had hardened in the mortise. I don’t think this pipe had been cleaned since it was first smoked in the early 1900’s.I turned the inner tube in the metal tenon in the stem to remove it. It was pressure fit and the tars and oils had it held tightly in place. With it removed and the shank scraped clean the pipe was ready to be cleaned up.I cleaned out the inside of the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol.I used clear super glue to repair the tooth marks on the stem. I sanded the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the chatter and wiped it down with alcohol on a cotton swab. I filled in the tooth marks with clear glue and set it aside to cure.When the repair had cured, I sanded the surface of the repairs on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repairs and blend them into the surface of the horn stem. I forgot to take photos of this part of the process as I was anxious to see what the stem looked like polished. I quickly move on to polish the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil and after the final sanding pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. The horn stem was beginning to look really good for a pipe of this age. I put the cleaned inner tube in the tenon and aligned the angle of the spear end so that it would sit on the bottom of the bowl when inserted in the shank. I took photos of stem at this point to show the inner tube.I used the sharp point of a sanding stick to apply Rub’n Buff Antique Gold to the stamping on the left side of the stem. I worked it into the grooves. I let the gold dry and then buffed it off with a soft cloth.This SINA, GBD predecessor is a beautiful pipe with mixed grain all around the bowl sides, top and bottom. The grain really is quite stunning. The rim top looks much better. The horn stem repaired easily and shined up well. I buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond polish to raise the shine on the briar and the vulcanite. I was careful to not buff the stamping and damage it. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The rich patina of the original finish allows the grain to really stand out on this pipe and it works well with the rich lustre of the polished horn stem. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 5 1/4 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside Diameter: 1 3/8 inches, Diameter of the chamber: 3/4 of an inch. This old and beautiful SINA Chubby Billiard will sit next to the other SINA pipe in my personal collection. I am looking forward to enjoying my first bowl in it soon. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.