Tag Archives: staining

Beauty or the Beast?


Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

This is the story of a pipe – possibly damaged beyond reasonable limits – which I really liked and decided (against my better judgement) to revivify. I need to make clear from the outset that this is not a pipe like many you see from Steve, Dal, Paresh, Charles, et al, which begin their restoration as the proverbial sow’s ear and naturally end up as the silk purse. No, this is a pipe that came to me as a damaged ‘beast’ and ended up much improved – but a ‘beast’ it remains. There is damage to the pipe which is, despite my best efforts, a permanent attribute. I leave it to your collective judgement on whether it will ever attain the rank of ‘beauty’.

This pipe came from a lot from Sudbury, Ontario. There were literally no marks of any kind on the stummel, stem, or ferrule. In the absence of a name, Steve and I dubbed it ‘The Sudbury’ and that is the name that stuck. Steve thinks that the Sudbury could be of Italian origin, and I have no reason to question that assessment. So let us pretend that it is an Italian ‘scoop’ pipe that arrived from Northern Ontario. If you have any insight into the pipe’s origin, I would love to hear from you. The photos do not quite convey just how bad this pipe looked when it arrived. The stummel was filthy, scratched, dented, cracked, and burned. The bowl was out-of-round, had lots of lava, cake and burns. The stem was oxidized, calcified, and badly pitted (more about the pitting later). The ferrule was dirty, torn, dented, and cheap-looking – it had obviously been put there to address the cracks in the shank. Where to even begin with this mess?

Well, the start came with removing the sorry-looking ferrule, which, quite frankly, inspired more pathos than confidence. This allowed me to have a good look at the cracks (plural) in the shank. As you can plainly see, the cracks were a mess. I removed what I could of lose debris and glue from these fissures, with the intention of refilling them later.Next was reaming out the bowl. This pipe has quite a wide and curved bowl and it required both the PipNet Reamer and the KleenReem. I took it down to bare briar, as I wanted to ensure there were no hidden flaws in the walls of the bowl. Fortunately, there were none. I then proceeded to clean out the insides of the shank with Q-tips, pipe cleaners, and isopropyl alcohol. This is a pipe that really could have used the services of a retort system, but – alas – I do not have one. If anyone has a spare, please let me know. The fellow on eBay who sells them is out of commission for a while. A quick wipe of the outside revealed that there is really some beautiful wood grain in this pipe.A de-ghosting session seemed in order to rid this pipe of the foul smells of the past. This de-ghosting consisted of thrusting cotton balls in the bowl and the shank, and saturating them with 99% isopropyl alcohol. This caused the oils, tars and smells to leech out into the cotton. Finally, a relatively clean and fresh-smelling bowl emerged.While all of that was going on, I cleaned out the insides of the stem with pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. Then the stem went for an overnight soak in the Before & After Hard Rubber Deoxidizer. I knew the stem was going to require a lot of work, but even I did not know what I was getting myself into. The following day, I cleaned all of the de-oxidizing goop (technical term) off with alcohol, pipe cleaners, et cetera. The oxidation had migrated to the surface and would be fairly straightforward to remove.Back to the stummel – and this required addressing two key issues: the badly out-of-round bowl opening and the cracks in the shank that needed to be re-mended. In order to address the out-of-round issue, I took a solid wooden sphere, wrapped sandpaper around it, and sanded thoroughly – until such time as the bowl was returned to round. This process was not difficult, but it was time consuming. I had to ensure that I was sanding down the correct parts that needed it and that I was not removing too much. In the end, I think I got the balance just right.Meanwhile, I had to figure out what could be done with the very noticeable cracks in the shank. The previous ferrule had done a passable job of hiding them, but that ferrule was a non-starter. It was ugly and trashed. Anyway, an application of briar dust and cyanoacrylate adhesive seemed to be the way to go in addressing the cracks. I also had to concede that, no matter what, the cracks were always going to be a visible part of this pipe from now on. There was just no way around it. I sanded down the repairs and left them for a bit later.There was a small burn on the underside of the stummel that also needed to be addressed. I took some oxalic acid on a Q-tip and rubbed and rubbed. The burn did improve but never fully disappeared. I took solace from the fact that the burn was very superficial and did not affect the integrity of the wood at all.After this, I used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to sand everything smooth. A light application of Before & After Restoration Balm brought out the best in the stummel’s grain.Steve was kind enough to find me a new ferrule that we could bend to correctly fit the oval shank. This was not as easy as it sounds because the shank’s width tapered away from the end. I used a combination of heat, glue and elbow grease to fit it. I then used metal sandpaper to even out the edge. A quick polish with my cloth made it look pretty good.Now on too the stem. Oh boy – this was a struggle. All the usual things were fine. As I mentioned, the deoxidizing went well; the cleaning of the internals went well; the sanding of the stem with the Micromesh pads went well; the buffing and polishing went well; BUT the pitting was very difficult. In the first place, the pits were all filled with filth and/or oxidation and/or debris from the many years of neglect. In order to dislodge this, I soaked the pitted part of the stem overnight in a lemon-infused, isopropyl alcohol solution. This worked surprisingly well. The debris either dissolved or was easy to scrub out.Now, how to fill these properly so as to create a smooth and (hopefully) invisible repair? Steve assured me that he had successfully filled pits in the past with cyanoacrylate adhesive. Perfect – I set about carefully smearing the adhesive all over the pitting. I left it to set and came back later to sand it down. So far, so good, but some of the pits did not fill (no idea how that happened) and others just looked terrible after sanding. I obviously did something wrong. Steve suggested that we used some black cyanoacrylate adhesive. He very kindly did his own smearing of the black adhesive on my stem. We let it set, did all the right things, and it still looked lousy. I even tried using a black Sharpie to see if that would help – it didn’t. Suffice it to say that I went through this process a total of FOUR times before I had to admit defeat. I will say that the stem looks so much better than when I started, but those pits were *ahem* the pits.I applied more Before & After Restoration Balm, then some wax. I polished it by hand with a microfibre cloth and I was pleased with the results! This pipe was clearly a great beauty on the day it was made. Over the years, abuse, neglect, and the ravages of time turned this charming pipe into a beast. I worked harder on this pipe than I have on any other, but I am proud of it and I am adding it to my collection. I look forward to smoking it for many years to come.

The dimensions of the pipe are as follows: length 164 mm; height 42 mm; bowl diameter 149 × 44 mm; chamber diameter 23 mm. The mass of the pipe is 46 grams. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.

Breathing Life into a 1950 Dunhill Shell Briar R Pot


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is the second one that came to me from a friend up the British Columbia Coast. It is the second of two Dunhill pipes that he found in a shop along the coast. It is a Shell Briar Pot that is worn and has a lot of damage to the rim top. It is the pipe in the front of the photo below. You can see the damage to the rim top and how the rim top is damaged at the back and the front of the rim top and the outer edge of the bowl. The photo was sent to me by Chris. When the pipe arrived I took photos of what it looked like. Chris had done some preliminary cleaning of the pipe before he sent it to me and it look quite clean. It is stamped on a smooth panel on the underside of the shank. On the heel of the bowl it is stamped with the shape number R followed by Dunhill [over] Shell Briar followed by Made in England with a superscript underlined 0. That is followed by 4 in a circle followed by S for Shell. Interpreting that stamp follows: The R is the shape for a straight stem Pot. The Dunhill Shell Briar is the finish which is corroborated the S in the circle. The underlined 0 following the D of England dates the pipe. The stamping is clear and readable. The age of the pipe and the oils in the sandblast finish has given the pipe a rich medium brown finish. There is also some interesting grain shows through the blast finish. There was still a thin cake in the bowl and a light overflow of lava on the rim top. The rim top had a lot of damage and wear on the top and outer edges.  The top was no longer flat. The vulcanite stem was lightly oxidized and had tooth marks and chatter ahead of the button. I took photos of the pipe to show what it looked like before I started working on it. I took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the thickness of the cake and the damages. The rim top and edges are a mess with lots of damage caused by beating it against a hard surface. The photos of the stem show the light oxidation and tooth marks and chatter on the surface on both sides. The stamping on the underside of the shank is shown in the photo below. It looks very good and readable. It reads as noted and explained above.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe parts to show what I was working with. It has potential to be a great looking pipe.  I turned to Pipedia’s section on Dunhill Shell Briar Pipes to get a bit of background on the Dunhill finishes (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill#Root_Briar). I quote:

Shell

A deep craggy sandblast with a black stain finish (usually made using Algerian briar) – the color of the stain used has varied over the years. Although there is some doubt as to them being the first to sandblast pipes, Dunhill’s Shell pipes, and the sandblasting techniques developed to create them are considered one of Dunhill’s greatest and most lasting contributions to the art of pipe making.

The documented history of Dunhill’s inception of the Shell is largely limited to patent applications — there are no catalog pages or advertisements promoting blasted pipes at the time. The preliminary work on the English patent (No. 1484/17) was submitted on October 13, 1917. The patent submission was completed half a year later, on April 12, 1918, followed by the granting of the English patent on October 14, 1918. This was less than a month before the end of The Great War on November 11th.

In 1986 Dunhill released a line of premium Shell finish pipes – “RING GRAIN”. These are high-quality straight grain pipes which are sandblasted. Initially only Ring Grain, but now in two different finishes. In 1995 the “Shilling” was introduced with Cumberland finish – it is an extremely rare series. These pipes exhibit a deeper blast characteristic of that of the 1930’s – mid-1960’s (and the limited ‘deep blast’ pipes of the early 1980s) and show a fine graining pattern. These are considered the best new Dunhills by many enthusiasts today and are very rare. The finish is sometimes described as tasting like vanilla at first, with the taste becoming more normal or good as the pipe breaks in.

I have also included a chart from the site from Dunhill spelling out the Standard Pipe Finishes and giving short information and a timeline.

I turned to Pipephil to establish a date for a Dunhill with the stamping that was on this pipe. The date stamp 0  (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/cledat-en1b.html) I have marked the box below with a red box around the part of the date key that is applicable. The pipe dates to 1950.I decided to start the restoration on this one by working on the damaged rim top. I started the process by topping the bowl on a topping board and a piece of 240 grit sandpaper. My main concern was to flatten the top and remove some of the gouges and damages. I then built up the damaged areas on the front and back outer edges of the bowl with briar dust and CA glue. I wanted to raise the profile of the edge in those areas. I would rusticate them so I was not overly concerned with what it looked like at this point. I used various burrs on the Dremel to approximated the sandblast finish on the rim top and bring it back to reflect the sandblast and nooks and crannies on the sides of the bowl and shank. I stained the newly shaped rim top with an Oak and a Maple stain pen to match the colour of the bowl. I was pretty happy with the newly stained rim. It look a lot better than when I started and worked with the finish.I figured I should clean up the bowl after that work. I reamed it with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and took back the remaining cake to briar so I could check out the condition of the bowl walls. I cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I also cleaned out the inner tube at the same time. With the repair completed I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to work it into the nooks and crannies of the sandblast finish. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 15 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The briar really comes alive with the balm. I cleaned out the tooth marks with alcohol and filled them in with black super glue. I set the stem aside to allow the glue to cure. Once it cured I recut the edge of the button with a file and then sanded the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth them out and blend them into the rest of the stem surface. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. This Dunhill Shell Briar R Pot is a beautiful sandblast that came out looking very good. The Shell Briar finish has a great rugged sandblast that Dunhill specialized in making. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition. The oils off the smoker’s hands and the tan stain on the bowl works well to highlight the grain. The polished black vulcanite taper stem adds to the mix. With the dust gone from the finish and the bowl it was a beauty and is eye-catching. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel being careful to not buff the stamping. 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 it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Shell Briar R Pot is quite nice and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that like the other pipes I am working that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 36grams/1.27oz. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next generation.

Resurrecting an old Bulldog with a Bakelite Stem


Blog by Steve Laug

I have finished restoring quite a few of the pipes in this collection that we purchased from the older gentleman. He sent me the photos and I was amazed at what I saw. You have seen many of the pipes that he had. These included Dunhill, BBB, Orlik, Barclay Rex, a cased Ben Wade, an H. Simmons all briar, Hardcastles and some Meerschaums. There were also some assorted others that I will get to in the days ahead. It was a great collection.

The next pipe I have chosen is a tired and worn looking older style Bulldog with a Bakelite stem with a bone tenon. I don’t know what it is about this pipe that caught my eye but something did. It certainly was not the condition of pipe. The bowl was in very rough shape. There was a thick cake in the bowl and the rim top and edges were told buried under a thick coat of lava. The pipe was really a stranger to pipe cleaners. It was filthy both inside and out. The shape probably caught my eye because it is quite lovely even under the grime and wear. The stem is Bakelite and it was a complete mess. It had the end gnawed off  leaving behind a chipped and chewed end that was not eve square. I am not sure how much longer it was when it was made but it must have been longer than what we saw when we got. This was one well loved pipe that had been “ridden hard and put away wet”! It would be a challenge to see what I could do with it! In the end that is probably what drew me to the pipe!

Jeff took some photos of the Bakelite Stemmed Bulldog before he worked his magic in cleaning up the pipe. It is a an interesting pipe with a lot of potential and what appears to be some great grain under the grime and debris of the years.Jeff took photos of the bowl, rim top to show the thickness of the cake in the bowl and the thick lava on the rim top. The rim top and both inner and outer edges are so thickly covered that it is hard to know their condition. It appears that there were nicks and chips on the outer edge at the back of the bowl that will require a bit of attention. All of the issues will become clearer after the clean up. He took photos of the top and underside of the Bakelite stem showing the gnawed end of the stem and the broken and missing chunks from the stem end. It appears that there were button remnants on both sides. Jeff also took some photos of the bone tenon and the shank end to show the appearance and condition of both.Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the briar. You can see the beautiful shape of the bowl and some interesting grain even through the dirt and debris of many years.   Jeff took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank to show the lack of a stamping. It appears that both sides had some sort of stamp on them but it was worn away.This unstamped Bulldog is an interesting looking pipe. Because the old gentleman that we bought the pipes from intimated that he purchased his pipes at the Manhattan Barclay-Rex store I would imagine that he may have purchased this one from them as well. I was unable to pin down any information regarding the date this pipe was made but the fact that it is among the old timers I have been working on and the older Bakelite stem make me think it is older as well.

Jeff carefully cleaned the pipe. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and then cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals of the shank, stem and shank extension with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and lava on the rim top. The finish looks much better and has a deep richness in the colour that highlights the dimensions of the grain. The edges looked good otherwise. He scrubbed the Bakelite stem with Soft Scrub to remove the grime and oils on the stem and chewed stem end. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver I was amazed that it looked so good. Here are some photos of what I saw. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. The top and inner and outer edge of the rim showed damage. There was serious damage back outer edge of the bowl. The stem was gnawed and that damage is very visible in the photos. I took photos of the shank sides to show that the stamping was worn away.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the parts of the pipe. I started my work on the pipe by dealing with the chewed end of the stem. I used a file/rasp that I have here to flatten the chewed off end. I squared it off to have a fresh surface to work on a new button. I propped the stem up on the shank to take a picture of the squared end of the stem.I used a triangular file to recut the sharp edge of a button on the newly shaped stem end. I used 220 grit sandpaper to shape the top of the stem and shape the angles.I spread a coat of clear CA glue on top of the button to seal the new edge and top of the button and set it aside to cure. I followed up on that by layering glue on the top of the button to build it up and give it some shape. Once the button repair cured I used the triangle file and 180 grit sandpaper to shape the button surface.There was still more shaping to do but the  stem was taking form. I took profile pictures of it to give a sense of the shape. There is much more sanding to do but it was coming along.I set the stem aside and turned my attention to the bowl. I used a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper to bring the inner edges of the bowl back into round. I topped the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper to minimize the damage on the rim top and particularly the back of the bowl. I took a photo of the rim top after the topping. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding debris. I stained the rim top with an Oak stain pen to match the surrounding briar. Once it is buffed the match should be perfect.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the bowl and shank 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. With stem reshaped and built earlier in the process all that remained was to polish it. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry 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 gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. With the bowl and the stem finished I put the beautiful No Name Bulldog back together and buffed it on the wheel using Blue Diamond to give it a shine. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The grain on this pipe really is a great looking. The dimensions of the pipe are – Length: 4 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inch, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of this large pipe is 1.16 ounces /33 grams. This Old Bakelite Stemmed Bulldog is another great find from this collection. It is much more beautiful in person than these photos can capture. This is another pipe that has the possibility of transporting the pipe man or woman back to a slower paced time in history where you can enjoy a respite. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

Restemming a Dunhill Pipe – A Patent Era 1936 Dunhill Bruyere 35 Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

This Dunhill Billiard was one of five other Billiards that came to us in the same lot as the 1922 Dunhill Bruyere Reading Pipe, a cracked shank 1962 Dunhill Shell Briar Pot and the 1905 BBB Calabash Reading Pipe and 1911 BBB Glokar Poker. It was a great looking Bruyere Billiard that had a Yello-Bole stem instead of the original Dunhill stem. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank with the letter A next to the bowl and the was followed by DUNHILL [over] LONDON. On the right side of the shank it was stamped MADE IN ENGLAND [over] PAT. NO 41757416 that is followed by the shape number 35.

It was another filthy pipe with a thick cake in the bowl and a heavy lava overflow on the rim top. It looked like it had a shiny coat of varnish or shellac on the bowl that would need to be removed so I could work on the rim top and nicks in the bowl sides. The stem would need to be replaced so Jeff and I would look over what he had there in terms of stems we had set aside. Perhaps there would be one in the lot that would work. Jeff removed the Yello-Bole stem from the shank and took photos of the bowl before he did his clean up work.  He took photos of the bowl and rim to give a picture of the thickness of the cake and lava on the rim top. This must have been a favourite pipe to have gone through a Dunhill stem and then pressing a Yello-Bole stem into service. I would need to find a Dunhill stem for it but it had promise even under the thick cake in the bowl.  Jeff took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank but they are quite blurry because of the refection of the shiny varnish/shellac coat. I am including them anyway here as the give a sense of where the stamp was on the shank sides.I turned to Pipedia’s section on Dunhill Root Briar Pipes to get a bit of background on the Dunhill finishes (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill#Root_Briar). I quote:

Bruyere

The original finish produced (usually made using Calabrian briar), and a big part of developing and marketing the brand. It was the only finish from 1910 until 1917. A dark reddish-brown stain. Before the 1950s, there were three possible finishes for Dunhill pipes. The Bruyere was a smooth finish with a deep red stain, obtained through two coats, a brown understain followed by a deep red.

There was a link on the above site to a section specifically written regarding the Bruyere finish (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dunhill_Bruyere). I turned there and have included the information from that short article below.

Initially, made from over century-old briar burls, classified by a “B” (denoted highest quality pipe); “DR” (denoted straight-grained) and an “A” (denoted first quality), until early 1915. After that, they became a high-end subset to the Dunhill ‘Bruyere’. The DR and B pipes, a limited production, they should be distinguished as hand-cut in London from burls as opposed to the Bruyere line which was generally finished from French turned bowls until 1917, when the Calabrian briar started to be used, but not completely. Only in 1920 Dunhill took the final step in its pipe making operation and began sourcing and cutting all of its own bowls, proudly announcing thereafter that “no French briar was employed”.

Bruyere pipes were usually made using Calabrian briar, a very dense and hardy briar that has a modest grain but does very well with the deep red stain.

“Before the 1950s, there were three possible finishes for Dunhill pipes. The Bruyere was a smooth finish with a deep red stain, obtained through two coats, a brown understain followed by a deep red. The Shell finish was the original sandblast with a near-black stain (though the degree to which it is truly black has varied over the years). Lastly, the Root finish was smooth also but with a light brown finish. Early Dunhill used different briars with different stains, resulting in more distinct and identifiable creations… Over the years, to these traditional styles were added four new finishes: Cumberland, Dress, Chestnut and Amber Root, plus some now-defunct finishes, such as County, Russet and Red Bark.”

There was also a link to a catalogue page that gave examples and dates that the various finishes were introduced (https://pipedia.org/wiki/File:Dunnypipescatalog-1.png).I turned to Pipephil’s dating guide to show how I arrived at the date of manufacture for this pipe (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/cledat-en1.html). I am including two charts that are provided there for the dating a pipe. I have drawn a red box around the pertinent section in each chart. Since the pipe I am working on has a suffix 16 that is raised superscript it points to 1920+ 16 for a date of 1936 on the charts below. I now knew that I was working on a Bruyere that came out in 1936 because of the date stamp 16. The shape of the pipe was one of many Billiards that Dunhill put out and the #35 was a normal billiard shape with a taper stem. That helped me figure out the kind of stem I would need to restem the pipe.

I turned to work on the pipe itself. Jeff had carried out his usual thorough cleanup of the pipe. He had reamed it with a PipNet reamer to remove the cake and cleaned the reaming up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the internals of the bowl and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the externals with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed the bowl off with running water. He had included a stem that we thought could work with the pipe and had soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer and once it had soaked rinsed it off with warm water to remove the residual solution. He dried it off and scrubbed it down with Soft Scrub All-Purpose cleaner to remove any oxidation that was still on the stem. The biggest issue with the stem was the large chunk of vulcanite missing on the button on the underside but I thought we could make it work. The stem was from the wrong era and the button was the wrong shape but it would work until the proper stem was located. The pipe looked very clean when I received it. I took a photo of the bowl and the stem I was planning on using. I sanded the tenon to slightly reduce the diameter and leave a snug fit in the shank. It did not take too much to get a nice fit. Note that the diameter of the stem is slightly larger than the shank and it is flattened on the bottom. Since it is larger the flatten portion will not be an issue and with a little work the stem will be a perfect fit.  The fourth photo of the underside of the stem shows the damage to the button that will need to be repaired. I took a photo of the rim top to show the condition. You can see the darkening, scratches and damage on the rim top. It is roughened and slightly out of round. The varnish/shellac coat is peeling on the top. The stem came out looking quite good. There are tooth marks and chatter on the top side near the button and a large chunk of the button missing on the underside. 

I took photos of the stamping on both sides of the shank to try to capture it better than the photos above. It is better and is readable it reads as noted above. Also not the variation in the diameter of the stem that will need to be addressed.It was time to work on the stem. I decided to tackle the repair to the missing part of the button on the underside of the stem first. I would also need to work on the diameter of the stem at the shank and the shape of the stem to match the year it was made. There was a lot of work to do on the stem.

I got the repair station set up. I use a piece of cardboard with two strips of packing tape to mix the putty. I used Loctite 380 rubberized Black CA glue and three capsules of charcoal powder. I made a cardboard wedge covered in packing tape to fit in the slot and keep me from filling the slot in with the mixture.  I put a pool of the glue on the middle of the cardboard base so I could mix the charcoal powder into it.I mixed the powder and the glue together with a dental spatula. I stirred it until I got a thick putty like paste. I used the spatula to place the mixture on the top of the stem and fill in the missing chunk. I always overfill the area as I can easily remove the excess with the Dremel and files. I sprayed the repair with accelerator to harden the surface so I could remove the cardboard wedge. I took out the wedge and took a photo of the stem at this point in the process.I let the repair cure overnight and in the morning I used a rasp and file to begin to shape the stem surface and flatten the repair. It was a good solid repair and with a lot of shaping and sanding it would work well.I continued to shape the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to the button and stem surface smooth. I also worked on the diameter of the stem and removed the flattened bottom. Lots more work to do but it is getting there.I knew that the 1936 stem would not have had the flared fishtail look but probably would have been more of a straight taper. I did a search on Google for a 1936 Dunhill Bruyere in a shape 35 to see if I could find one that would provide a pattern for the shaping of this replacement stem. I found one (https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/1936-dunhill-bruyere-grade-billiard-490781280). I copied several of the photos to get a pattern to work with.

You can see from the photos to the left that the stem was significantly different in shape than the fishtail stem that I was working with. The taper on the sides from the shank to the button was far more gentle and almost straight. The taper on the top and bottom the stem is very similar to what I have. The biggest difference was in the last half inch of the stem and button. I would need to remove the horns or fish tail edges from the button and smooth out the transition on the button end so that it is not flared.

It took some work but I used the Dremel to roughly shape the stem like the sides of the stem and the button edges. I took off a lot of vulcanite and when I was done it was very close. I think the rest of the work would be done with sandpaper.I continued shaping it with 220 grit sandpaper. It is looking very good at this point. I still have work to do on the repair to take care of air bubbles but I am happy with how it is coming out so far.I filled in the air bubbles on the stem and button surfaces with black super glue and set the stem aside for the repairs to cure.I turned my attention to the bowl. I decided to start the restoration on it by working on the damage on the inner edge of the bowl. It had darkening and some damage to the edge. There were burn and reaming damage marks on the edge. I worked it over with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give the edge a light bevel and remove and minimize the damage on the edge. When I finished with it, the bowl and the rim top looked much better.I wiped down the bowl with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the shellac/varnish coat. It removed a lot of the shiny coat but the polishing with micromesh will remove the rest of it. I polished the rim top and bowl 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. The briar began to take on a shine.    I paused the sanding with the micromesh to stain the rim top with a Mahogany Stain pen to match the colour around the bowl. Afterwards I picked up the micromesh pads 3200-12000 and completed the cycle to polish the bowl. I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 15 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The briar really comes alive with the balm. I was excited to be finishing this pipe. I still had work to do but thought I would take a look at the stem and pipe together. I put the stem in place and tried I tried to blow through it and only got read in the face. I tried to put a pipe cleaner through the button and it went into the area of the repair and stopped. I tried to push a wire through the blockage and it would not budge. My stem repair had sealed off the airway!!!!. I usually do a stem repair with a folded greased pipe cleaner in the airway. This time I tried the cardboard wedge that both Dal and Paresh have used many times with no issues, thinking this stem would be a great candidate for that. I made a wedge and fit it in place but it must have had a small opening at the end that allowed the repair material to go past it. The airway was sealed tight and hard as a rock! I set the stem aside and went to the Post Office to mail a package. While I waited for the clerk I had an idea. When I got home I tried it. I put the smallest drill bit I had in the chuck of my cordless drill and carefully drilled it through. I up the bit to the second smallest one and the airway was clear! Whew… but even more amazing is that with all the drilling and fussing at the button lip the repair did not chip or loosen. The repair was solid. That at least was very good news in the midst of this mess.I worked on the stem some more fine tuning the fit against the shank and the shape of the button and stem to get as close as possible to the pictures that I found and included above. I sanded and shaped and sanded and shaped… did I say sanded and shaped?? It seemed almost endless. I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.  This Dunhill A Bruyere 35 Patent Billiard from 1936 is a beautiful looking piece of briar that has a shape that follows grain. It is a great looking pipe that came out looking even better after the cleanup and restemming. The Bruyere is an early finish that Dunhill specialized in making. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition. The red and brown stain on the bowl works well to highlight the grain. The polished black vulcanite taper stem that I repurposed to replace the Yello-Bole stem adds to the mix. It is not the 1936 stem but I reshaped it to a close approximation. It will work until I find the proper era stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel being careful to not buff the stamping. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine.

The finished Bruyere 35 Billiard is quite nice and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that like the other pipes I am working that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 5/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 31grams/1.06oz. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next generation.

 

The Volkswagen Beetle of Pipes


Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

I was very flattered by all the attention that the first restoration of my grandfather’s Dunhill received on this blog. Your kind words gave me the encouragement to carry on publishing the stories of my pipe restorations. Indeed, I will be posting restorations of my grandfather’s other pipes in the weeks ahead. Today’s pipe is not from my grandfather, but from eBay. This Brigham Two-Dot Algonquin (254) is a straight-stemmed pot billiard. It is much more modest than my grandfather’s Dunhill, but it is a charming pipe with its own story to tell. As usual, Steve’s advice was invaluable and – also as usual – any compliments on this restoration are for him; any criticisms are for me. I gave this story the title that I did because this pipe reminds me of the old Volkswagen Beetle: solid, hard-working, reliable, practical – but not very pretty. The very first lot of pipes that I purchased on eBay came from Sudbury, Ontario – the nickel capital of the world. This group of pipes had a little bit of everything in it (you will see some others in the coming weeks), but the one thing these pipes had in common was their filth. Perhaps they all sat at the bottom of a nickel mine and accumulated this filth over the years. Who knows? I started with this pipe because it was the least dirty and least blemished of the bunch. I figured this might be a relatively straightforward restoration – and so it was. The pictures you see here do not do justice to the filth. I may have wiped this pipe down a bit before starting, so you will just have to take my word for it. Fortunately, there were no major structural problems with this pipe. There were scratches on the stummel, some lava on the rim, plenty of cake in the bowl, lots of tooth marks on the stem, and an overall sense of fatigue. The pipe just felt lethargic somehow. By the way, I apologize for the lack of variety of photographs on this pipe. It was being restored while my mind was on other things and I did not snap the pictures quite as often as I should have.

Anyway, to work! Naturally, the first steps involved reaming out the pipe. This pipe has quite a wide bowl and it required both the PipNet Reamer and the KleenReem. I took it down to bare briar, as I wanted to ensure there were no hidden flaws in the walls of the bowl. Fortunately, there were none. I then proceeded to clean out the insides of both the shank and stem with Q-tips, pipe cleaners, and a lemon-infused isopropyl alcohol. Now, I know that sounds more like something you would find in a ladies’ beauty salon, but, in fact, it is a pretty impressive cleaner (more about that perhaps in a future post). I took a BIC lighter and (to quote Steve) ‘painted’ the stem with its flame. This was fairly successful in raising some of the dents. One dent remained, but I dealt with that later. Once this process was done, the stem went for an overnight soak in the Before & After Hard Rubber Deoxidizer. I then moved on to cleaning the outside of the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap and an old toothbrush. My father is a dentist, so I know I have a good place from which to source my dental supplies! Actually, that cleaning with the brush tipped the balance of this pipe from a sorry, Sudbury sojourner to a pipe with character and purpose. I followed that up with a smear of Before & After Restoration Balm. That always makes everything look better – even a Volkswagen Beetle pipe. Perhaps applying some on my ugly mug would help, but I digress… The time had come to deal with this pipe’s biggest problem – a problem that pictures will not convey: the stench. The previous owner had clearly enjoyed a very floral, perfumy aromatic tobacco. How shall I put this delicately? It was not to my taste. It took four (or maybe even five) de-ghosting sessions to rid this pipe of the aromatic fetor. This de-ghosting consisted of thrusting cotton balls in the bowl and the shank, and saturating them with 99% isopropyl alcohol. This causes the tars and dreadful smells to leech out into the cotton. Finally, a relatively clean and fresh-smelling bowl emerged. I went back to the stem and cleaned all of the de-oxidizing goop (technical term) off with alcohol, pipe cleaners, et cetera. The oxidation had migrated to the surface and would be fairly easy to remove. Following in the footsteps of Steve the Master, I used 220, 400, and 600 grit sandpapers to address this issue. Before I moved on to the Micromesh pads, I filled the remaining tooth dent in the stem with cyanoacrylate adhesive, let it fully cure, and then sanded it down to meld seamlessly into the stem. Once complete, I used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to bring out the lovely lustre on the stem. Naturally, I used Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad. I was particularly pleased with how nicely the two Brigham dots gleamed after the Micromesh pads. Back to the stummel. The three patches of rustication (on the rim and the outside) needed a little attention. They did not look quite like Brigham rustication would have looked. I took some stain and applied it to the crevasses of the rustication, carefully avoiding the high spots wherever possible. I also applied some Before & After Restoration Balm to help blend everything together. This looked a lot better and restored a real ‘Brigham’ look to the stummel. The Before & After Restoration Balm had really brought out the best of the wood, but the little nicks and scratches that occur over time had removed some of the charm from this pipe. Lazy Me was hoping that I could get away with just buffing the thing and leaving it at that, but Perfectionist Me knew that that was not going to happen. So, I pulled out all nine Micromesh pads again and went from proverbial stem to stern over the stummel to try and coax some beauty out of this Volkswagen Beetle. It worked! Some beauty was found! I applied more Before & After Restoration Balm and Paragon II Wax. I polished it by hand with a microfibre cloth (deliberately avoiding an electric buffer) and voilà! I now have a Brigham pipe of my very own. This Algonquin Two-Dot pot billiard is never going to win a swimsuit competition, but that does not matter. It is a good, solid pipe that does what it is supposed to do. What more can you ask for? The dimensions of the pipe are as follows: length 6 inches (15.5 cm); height 1¾ inches (4.2 cm); bowl diameter 1½ inches (4 cm); chamber diameter: ⅞ of an inch (2.3 cm). The weight of the pipe is 1⅝ ounces (or 48 grams of mass).

Thank you very much for reading and, once again, I welcome and encourage your comments.

New Life for a Brigham Can. Pat. 372982 Select Club (Lovat) 299


Blog by Steve Laug

I have been working on Peterson’s pipes from my friend’s estate for the last little while and I needed a break from them for a while. I chose to work a Canadian Made Brigham Mixed Grain Lovat for a change of pace. The Lovat was stamped on the underside of the shank with faint stamping visible with a lens under light. It reads Can. Pat. 372982 followed by Brigham underlined and in script. On the heel of the bowl it was stamped with the shape number 299. There was a thick cake in the bowl with remnants of tobacco stuck on the walls. There was a lava overflow on the rim. The top and edges of the rim appear to have some damage. There is damage all the way around the outside edges of the bowl. The grain on the smooth portion of the bowl was a combination of grains. Once again, I think that there was a beautiful pipe underneath all of the buildup of years of use. The stem was oxidized and calcified toward the end with some tooth chatter. There were also some tooth marks on both sides of the stem ahead of the button and on the button surface itself. There was a pattern of two brass dots on the left side of the saddle stem. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work on it. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the thick, hard cake in the bowl with remnants of tobacco stuck on the walls of the bowl. There was a lava build up on the top of the rim and the edges of the bowl. The rim top had a lot of scratching and damage on the top and around the inner and outer edges. It looked like it had been used for a hammer. He took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth chatter, scratching and oxidation on the stem surface and wear on the edges of the button. Jeff took a photo of the side and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish. You can see the beautiful grain around the smooth portions on the top half of the bowl. The rustication is well done and rugged. Even under the dirt and debris of the years it looked very good. The stamping is very faint and cannot be captured very well even with a flash. What you can see reads as noted above. He included a pic of the two brass dots on the stem. For the needed background I am including the information from Pipedia on Brigham pipes. It is a great read in terms of the history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Brigham_Pipes). Charles Lemon (Dadspipes) is currently working on a book on the history of the brand. Until that is complete this article is a good summary. I have included it below.

Roy Brigham, after serving an apprenticeship under an Austrian pipesmith, started his own pipe repair shop in Toronto, in 1906. By 1918 the business had grown to include five other craftsmen and had developed a reputation across Canada for the high quality of workmanship. After repairing many different brands of pipes over the years, Roy noted certain recurring complaints by pipe smokers, the most common referred to as “tongue bite”. Tongue bite is a burning sensation on the smoker’s tongue, previously thought to be due to the heat of the smoke (i.e. a “hot smoking pipe”).

He soon began manufacturing his own pipes, which were lightweight, yet featured a more rugged construction, strengthening the weak points observed in other pipes. The problem of tongue bite intrigued him, and he decided to make overcoming it a future goal.

About 1938, Roy’s son Herb joined him to assist in the business. The business barely survived the great depression because pipes were considered to be a luxury, not a necessity, and selling pipes was difficult indeed. In approximately 1937 [1], after some experimentation, Roy and Herb discovered that tongue bite was in fact a form of mild chemical burn to the tongue, caused by tars and acids in the smoke. They found that by filtering the smoke, it was possible to retain the flavour of the tobacco and yet remove these impurities and thereby stop the tongue bite.

Just as Thomas Edison had searched far and wide for the perfect material from which to make the first electric light bulb filaments, Roy & Herb began experimenting with many materials, both common and exotic, in the quest for the perfect pipe filter. Results varied wildly. Most of the materials didn’t work at all and some actually imparted their own flavour into the smoke. They eventually found just two materials that were satisfactory in pipes: bamboo and rock maple. As bamboo was obviously not as readily available, rock maple then became the logical choice.

They were able to manufacture a replaceable hollow wooden tube made from rock maple dowelling, which when inserted into a specially made pipe, caused absolutely no restriction to the draw of the pipe, yet extracted many of the impurities which had caused tongue bite. The result was indeed a truly better smoking pipe…

I have written to Charles Lemon (Dadspipes) previously about Patent Number pipes and since this was another one I referred to a previous blog I had written about the stamping on a 2199 Lovat shaped pipe. He responded with information that I am including in part below.

Hey Steve! Good to hear from you.

Shape 2199 is what most would call a Lovat. Brigham called it a Club for whatever reason- just to be different, perhaps!…As these are all Patent pipes, it’s more accurate to refer to their grade by name (the post 1980 grading scheme refers to Dots). Here is the original scheme: With the information from Charles’ message and the chart above that he included I knew what I was dealing with in terms of the stamping and the age of this pipe. I learned that this Patent Era 299 (the 2XX shape number) is a Brigham Select (2-Dot) Lovat or what they call a Club. It was made between 1938 and 1955. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

I am really happy to have Jeff’s help on cleaning up the pipes that we pick up along the way. He cleaned this filthy pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with great looking grain around the top half of the bowl and great rustication on the rest of the bowl and shank. Jeff soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. He scrubbed it with Soft Scrub All Purpose Cleaner to remove the majority of the oxidation. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour I was amazed it looked so good. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. I wanted to show how well it had cleaned up. The rim top and edges show a darkening and the damage on the inner and outer edges of the rim. I took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks on the surface and on the button.   I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. You can see that it is stamped as noted above. It is faint but readable. I took the pipe apart and took a photo of the pipe. It is a good looking pipe and has some great grain around the bowl and shank.I decided to start my restoration work on this one by dealing with the damaged rim top and edges. I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the darkening and damage. I worked over the inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. The rim top and edges looked much better at this point.I polished the smooth portions of the bowl and the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. After each pad I wiped the briar down with a damp cloth. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush 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. With that done the bowl was finished other than the final buffing. I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the tooth damage with CA glue and rebuilt the button edge on the topside. Once the repairs had cured I used a file to recut the button edge and flatten out the repaired spots. I sanded out the repaired tooth marks and chatter with 220 grit sand paper to blend them into the rest of the stem surface. I started to polish it with a folded piece of 400 wet dry sandpaper. Once it was finished it had begun to shine.  Before I finished the polishing stem I decided to fit the clean stem with a new Rock Maple Distillator.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I am excited to finish this first of the Brighams that I have on the table – a nice looking Lovat, or as Brigham calls it a Club. It has a combined finish with a smooth top half of the bowl and the rest of the bowl and shank were rusticated with the normal Brigham rustication. 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 the grain popping through on the top half of the bowl and the rustication on the rest of the bowl and shank. Added to that the polished black vulcanite stem with two shining brass pins was beautiful. This mixed grain finish Brigham 2 Dot Lovat/Club is nice 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: 5 ¼ 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 43grams/1.52ounces. It is a beautiful pipe and one that will be on the rebornpipes store soon. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman. 

Breathing New Life into a Peterson’s “Kapruf” 122 Sandblast Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I have chosen is another sandblasted Peterson’s Kapruf. This Dublin shaped pipe has a medium brown finish around the bowl sides and shank and a nice looking shallow sandblast finish. It also came to us from the estate of Anglican minister that was a great friend of mine here in Canada. The smooth rim top and edges were in good condition. The finish on the bowl sides was dirty. It was stamped on the underside of the shank and read 122 on the heel of the bowl followed by Peterson’s [over] Kapruf. That is followed by Made in [over] Ireland. There was a heavy cake in the bowl and thick lava on the rim top. The edges of the bowl seemed to be ok but I would know more once it was cleaned. The was oxidized, calcified and there were heavy tooth marks on the top and underside and on the button. The “P” stamp on the left side of the taper stem looks good. Jeff took photos of the pipe before his cleanup work. They tell the story and give a glimpse of the promise that we see in this pipe. Jeff took photos of the rim top and stem to show the general condition of the pipe. The bowl is heavily caked and the rim top and edges have some lava overflow. The stem is oxidized, calcified has tooth marks on the top and underside near the button.     Jeff took a photo of the bowl side and heel to show the look of the sandblast that on this bowl. It is an interesting looking pipe.    He took photos of the underside of the bowl and shank to show the stamping. The stamping is readable in the photos below and is as noted above.   I am including the information from 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 Kapruf line. On page 306 it had the following information.

Kapruf and “Kapruf” (c.1922-87) Sandblast (hence the name, Kapp-rough) P-lip or fishtail mouthpiece, in catalogs from 1940-87. Early documented specimens stamped IRISH over FREE STATE, no Eire specimens documented. Mid-century specimens may be stamped LONDON MADE [over] ENGLAND or MADE IN ENGLAND forming a circle or MADE IN [over] IRELAND, all dating no later than 1970. Those of recent vintage stamped MADE IN THE[over] REPUBLIC [over]OF IRELAND.

I knew that I was dealing with a KAPRUF made before 1970 (or as they say in the book above “Mid-Century” as it is stamped MADE IN [over] IRELAND as noted above. That fit with the majority of his pipes so I was clear what I was working on. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

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. 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 with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer. He washed it off with warm water to remove the Deoxidizer. The pipe looked far better when it arrived. I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show how thin the back of the inner edge of the bowl is. You can see the out of round bowl is on the sides and rear of the bowl. There was some darkening on the back of the rim top but the edges looked very good. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks on the surface of the stem and button. I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. You can see that it is stamped as noted above. It is faint but very readable. I took the pipe apart and took a photo of the pipe. It is a good looking pipe and has a great looking sandblast. I decided to start by addressing the issue of the darkened rim top and edges of the bowl. I cleaned up both with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I was happy with the results.    I blended a Maple and a Walnut stain pen to match the colour around the bowl sides and the smooth, flat bottom of the shank.I polished the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding it with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the briar down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush 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 turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the tooth mark on the underside of the stem next to the button with clear super glue. Once the repair had cured I flattened it out with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the vulcanite. I started polishing the stem by wet sanding it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.   I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine.   I am excited to finish this Peterson’s “Kapruf” 122 Made in Ireland Sandblast Dublin. I am really happy with how the bowl turned out when I consider the damage that needed to be addressed. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the colours popping through the sandblast. Added to that the polished  black vulcanite taper stem was beautiful. This shapely Classic Peterson’s Made in Ireland Dublin is nice 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: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inch, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 29grams/1.02oz. It is a beautiful pipe and one that I soon put on the rebornpipes store I you are interested in carrying on the pipeman’s legacy. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog.

The first for 2021 – A Resurrection of a Peterson’s “Kapruf” 132 Sandblast Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I have chosen is sandblasted Peterson’s Kapruf. This Apple has a medium brown finish around the bowl sides and shank and a very nice looking sandblast finish. It also came to us from the estate of Anglican minister that was a great friend of mine here in Canada. The rim top and top of the apple were in very rough condition. The condition caused me to pause. I talked with Jeff about taking the part from this and scrapping the bowl but I find that hard to do! After spending time chatting about it and turning it over in my hands for a bit I decided to give it a go and see what I could do with it. The finish on the bowl sides was dirty. It was stamped on the underside of the shank and read 132 on the heel of the bowl followed by Peterson’s [over] “Kapruf”. That is followed by London Made [over] England. There was a heavy cake in the bowl and lava filling in the sandblast on the rim top. The back inner edge of the bowl was badly damaged and appeared to be quite thin. I would know more once it was cleaned. The was oxidized, calcified and there were heavy tooth marks on the top and underside and on the button. The “P” stamp on the left side of the taper stem was worn off. Jeff took photos of the pipe before his cleanup work. They tell the story and give a glimpse of the promise that we see in this pipe. Jeff took photos of the rim top and stem to show the general condition of the pipe. The bowl is heavily caked and the rim top and edges have some lava overflow. There is some major damage on the back of the inner edge of the bowl. The bowl is really out of round and thin on the back side. The stem is oxidized, calcified has tooth marks on the top and underside near the button.  Jeff took some photos of the bowl sides and heel to show the look of the sandblast that was around this bowl. It is an interesting looking pipe.  He took photos of the underside of the bowl and shank to show the stamping. The stamping is readable in the photos below and is as noted above.    I am including the information from 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 Kapruf line. On page 306 it had the following information.

Kapruf and “Kapruf” (c.1922-87) Sandblast (hence the name, Kapp-rough) P-lip or fishtail mouthpiece, in catalogs from 1940-87. Early documented specimens stamped IRISH over FREE STATE, no Eire specimens documented. Mid-century specimens may be stamped LONDON MADE [over] ENGLAND or MADE IN ENGLAND forming a circle or MADE IN [over] IRELAND, all dating no later than 1970. Those of recent vintage stamped MADE IN THE[over] REPUBLIC [over]OF IRELAND.

I knew that I was dealing with a KAPRUF made before 1970 (or as they say in the book above “Mid-Century” as it is stamped LONDON MADE [over] ENGLAND as noted above. That fit with the majority of his pipes so I was clear what I was working on. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

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. 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 with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer. He washed it off with warm water to remove the Deoxidizer. The pipe looked far better when it arrived.   I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show how thin the back of the inner edge of the bowl is. You can see the out of round bowl is on the sides and rear of the bowl. There was some darkening on the back of the rim top but the edges looked very good. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks on the surface of the stem and button.      I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. You can see that it is stamped as noted above. It is faint but very readable. I took the pipe apart and took a photo of the pipe. It is a good looking pipe and has a great looking sandblast. I decided to start by addressing the issue of the thin rim top and edge at the back of the bowl. I took a photo of the bowl to show the damage that needed to be addressed. I measured the thickness of the walls at the back of the bowl and found that the damage was actually not too deep in the bowl. I figured I could top the bowl and gain some thickness back and then use a Dremel to put a sandblast like finish on the rim top.I topped the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board to remove the damaged areas. Once that was finished I had some solid rim top and edge to work with on the back of the bowl. The second photo below shows the starting point of the bowl after the topping. I used the Dremel and sanding drum running at a low speed to bring the bowl back into round. Of course I forgot to take photos of that part of the process. You can see the results in the photo below. I used a Dremel and dental burrs to rusticate the top of the bowl to give it a rusticated finish that approximates the style of the sandblast on the rest of the bowl. I stained the rim to with a dark Walnut stain pen to lay an undercoat of colour to the rusticated rim top. I used a Cherry stain pen to give a top coat on the rim top. I am pleased with the over all look and feel of the newly rusticated rim top.    I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush 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 turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the stem and button surface with the flame of a lighter to lift the tooth marks. It worked amazingly well and the majority of them lifted completely or significantly. I filled in the remaining marks with clear super glue. Once the repairs had cured I flattened them out with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the vulcanite. I started polishing the stem by wet sanding it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.   I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine.  I am excited to finish this Peterson’s “Kapruf” 132 London Made Sandblast Apple. I am really happy with how the bowl turned out when I consider the damage that needed to be addressed. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the colours popping through the sandblast. Added to that the polished  black vulcanite taper stem was beautiful. This shapely Classic English Peterson’s Sandblast Apple is nice 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: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inch, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 32grams/1.13oz. It is a beautiful pipe and one that I soon put on the rebornpipes store I you are interested in carrying on the pipeman’s legacy. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog.

Unleashing the Bling of an Aldo Velani Trio 51 Pot of Italy


Blog by Dal Stanton

With 4 of 7 of Daniel’s commissioned pipes completed, the pipes remaining are the last 2 Aldo Velani Trios that remained in the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection and what I have called a, ‘Spotted Bent Billiard’ or perhaps, dragon skin!  This pipe is a ‘specialty pipe’ where the stummel was wrapped with a carbon resin material.  The ‘skin’ almost looks like dragon hide to me. The 2 Aldo Velani Trios remaining were acquired in 2018 in what I have called the St. Louis Lot of 26 that my son, Josiah, found in an antique shop. He was impressed by the quality of pipes in the Lot and emailed me in Bulgaria with a proposition of going in together for the Lot of 26.  His part in the purchase would be his Christmas present to me – that I would choose a pipe for my own from the Lot.  My part of the purchase would be to restore the pipes to benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria.  It was a proposal hard to refuse and some weeks later I unwrapped the St. Louis Lot of 26 in Denver where our family had gathered for Christmas.  The original 4 Aldo Velani ‘brothers’ stand out among the St. Louis Lot of 26 below.  The upper Bent Apple and the lower Rusticated Volcano have already found homes with new stewards. The Pot and Billiard are next on the worktable.All the Aldo Velani pipes have in common the bling of nickel gold-plated shank rings and acrylic stems.  The Billiard’s stem is a clear acrylic, but the Pot shows off an eye-catching ruby/burgundy stem complementing the characteristic red burgundy Aldo Velani stummel.  With the Pot first in line, some pictures provide a closer look.  The nomenclature on the left shank side is cursive script, ‘Aldo Velani’ [over] ‘TRIO’.  On the shank underside, the COM, ‘ITALY’ is followed by the shape number ‘51’.   The Aldo Velani stem stamp is interesting and in the previous research discovered what it was.  I found in Pipedia’s Aldo Velani article, an example and details of the stamping on an original Aldo Velani box (courtesy of Doug Valitchka).  The stamp depicts a pipe as the front leg of the ‘A’ for Aldo and the back leg of the ‘A’ forms the front riser of the ‘V’ of Velani. As a good refresher, I repeat the previous research here:  The article cited from Pipedia provides helpful information understanding the provenance of the Aldo Velani name:

Most Aldo Velani pipes are made in Livorno, Italy, for the USA market by Cesare Barontini. They were previously imported by Lane Limited. Lane spokesman Frank Blews once described Velani’s stylish, intrinsically Italian designs as “Billiards with more ball, bulldogs with more jaw.” The name “Aldo Velani” is actually fictional.

Another Barontini 2nd is named “Cesare”.

I learn two interesting things from this information.  First, Aldo Velani is a faux name that does not describe an Italian pipe house but a specific line of pipes.  Secondly, the Aldo Velani is made by the Casare Barontini name based in Livorno, Italy.   Further information is available cross referencing to Casare Barontini in Pipedia:

In 1890 Turildo Barontini opened a factory for the production of briar. In 1925 his son Bruno began to produce the first pipes. Cesare Barontini, son of Bruno, started direction of the factory in 1955, and still runs it together with his daughters Barbara and Silvia.

Sub-brands & Seconds: Aldo Velani. Cesare, L’artigiana, Stuart, Cortina

 Pipephil’s site has several examples of the Aldo Velani line depicted which tend to be very stylish and nice-looking pipes which confirms the Pipedia assertion that Casare Brontini produced the Aldo Velani lines primarily for export.  It is evident that there was not a consistency in the stem stamping or name style for Aldo Velani as different examples are given.  Here are the stem stamping variations provided by Pipephil:Looking now to the condition of the Aldo Velani Trio Pot, the chamber has some cake build up as well as a crusted layer of lava flow over the broad Pot rim.  Taking a close look, I can see fissures on the back side of the chamber wall.  This could be an indication of burning problems with the Pot.  He’s been well used and when I ream the chamber, I’ll be able to see if the fissures are only the cake or if it goes deeper into the chamber wall briar – not something I’m hoping for!The ruby/burgundy stummel is sharp but covered with grunge.  The challenge in restoring these two Aldo Velani Trio brothers together, first the Pot then the Billiard, is to maintain the consistency of hue.  The ruby/burgundy is a unique, eye catching hue that sets the entire line apart in a classy way.  They strike me as ‘after dinner pipes’ when the pipe is packed with one’s favorite blend and the glass is poured with one’s favorite adult beverage!  It is possible that during cleaning and possible repairs to the stummel that the hue can change a bit or a lot.  With the previous Aldo Velani Apple, all the stummel needed was a cleaning.  I’m hopeful of the same for the most part with the Pot and Billiard.  A few pictures show some closer looks at the surface’s need of cleaning. The ruby red acrylic stem has amazing ‘fire’ and presents a spectrum of colors which will be beautiful when the stem is cleaned.  The chatter on the bit is more severe on the lower side with a characteristic, singular tooth compression which is consistent with all the Aldo Velani pipes I’ve worked on.  This indicates a common steward of all. To begin with the cleanup of this Aldo Velani Trio Pot, the Pipnet Reaming Kit is employed to begin the process of clearing the chamber of the cake build up which hopefully reveals a healthy chamber. I take a few more pictures to mark the starting point. Working on a piece of paper towel to help cleanup, starting first with the smallest blade head and moving toward the larger from the Pipnet Reaming Kit, I use 3 of the 4 blade heads available.  Next, the Savinelli Fitsall Tool is employed to scrape the walls.  This is followed by sanding the chamber with 240 sanding paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  Finally, a cotton pad wetted with alcohol is used to wipe the chamber to clean the carbon dust residue.   An inspection of the chamber shows some chamber damage from heating where fissures have developed.  The thickness of the carbon cake buildup was deeper toward the backside of the chamber where the damage is located.  It’s important to remove all the charred wood and in doing this, the contour of the chamber is wider or ‘bowed out’ where more char was removed toward the shank-side.Another result of this damage is shown in the next picture.  The shank-side of the rim is thinner just a bit and this has created a flatness on the back of the rim lip.  The result is that the chamber mouth is out of round.  This can be seen in the next picture with a downward perspective.  As I continue to clean the rim and stummel, it will give me time to consider how to approach the chamber repair.Next, I work on scraping the lava caked on the rim.  Both a Winchester pocketknife and the Savinelli Fitsall tool are used to gently scrape the buildup off the rim. I don’t scrape too much to risk scratching or gouging the briar.  Next, I transition to cleaning the rim and stummel using undiluted Murphy’s Oil.  A cotton pad is used to scrub the stummel and a brass wire brush is used to help break up the remaining lava clinging to the rim.Transitioning from the worktable, the next stop is to the sink to continue the cleaning.  Using shank brushes and anti-oil dish washing soap, the mortise is scrubbed with warm water.  The stummel is then rinsed thoroughly with warm tap water.  Back on the worktable, I take another picture.The stummel cleaned up well.  The rim reveals places where the finish has thinned and is absent.  This picture also continues to show the issue of the ‘out-of-round’ chamber.  The challenge in restoring the rim will be to continue to clean the rim and to match the burgundy color of the rim after the repairs are done.While I think about this approach, I continue to fine tune the internal cleaning by using pipe cleaners and cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 99%.  After several buds and pipe cleaners they start emerging lighter.  I move on!With the stummel cleaned, I decide to address the rim issues before going on to the stem work.  I take a fresh picture of the rim to shape out the issues.  First, the reaming of the chamber revealed some heating problems resulting in some smaller fissures on the shank-side of the chamber.  The picture below is facing toward the back or shank-side of the chamber.  You can see the heating cracks.  They are not serious enough to take extraordinary measures to repair – using a product like J-B Weld, a heat resistant epoxy which I’ve used with success with past projects.  To address these heating veins, later I will apply ‘pipe mud’ to the chamber which is made of water and cigar ash.  This mixture will provide a protective layer to help enhance the natural development of a protective carbon cake of about a dime’s width.   The following picture also shows, though not easy to see, the chamber bowing toward the shank because of the charred briar removed.  The rim is also out of shape above this – flattened, throwing the entire rim out of round.  The second picture shows this as well.My plan is to sand the upper chamber on the shank-side (right side below) and transition the sanding up toward the rim.  My goal is to ease the chamber bowing and ‘re-round’ the chamber mouth.  I’m considering after the sanding, creating a sharp, internal rim bevel which should help the rounding and appearance.The next issue is the rim itself – the finish is shot and needs help.  I’ll start by lightly sanding the rim with micromesh pads to see if this cleans things while retaining a measure of the hue. I’ll seek to match the hue with bottle dyes or dye sticks.Starting on the chamber sanding, I use 240 paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  This not only gives me some leverage but helps with the rounded shaping needed on the flattened portion of the rim. After sanding with the 240 Sharpie, trying to regain as much rounding as possible, I use a round hard backing behind 240 paper to cut a bevel.  I hope to gain more rounding doing this.  The picture below shows the result of this approach.  There is a sacrifice of the narrowing of the shank-side rim surface as the sanding and rounding is achieved to some degree.  There is no perfection, but I like the progress made.Next, I sand the rim top, or almost a plateau, to clean and smooth the surface instead of a full topping of the stummel.I follow by applying the full regimen of micromesh pads to smooth the rim – pads 1500 to 12000.The next challenge is to color the rim to match, as closely as possible, the ruby/burgundy stummel finish. The closest color that I have to matching the stummel, after testing several candidates on a cotton pad, is Oxblood.  Yet, I’m concerned that Oxblood hue by itself might not be dark or deep enough.  I decide to use Fiebing’s Oxblood Leather Dye as the base, but I add a drop of Black Leather Dye to deepen the hue a few degrees.  I use a shot glass to mix the dyes.  I use a large eye dropper to draw out a small portion of the Oxblood and place it in the shot glass.  After cleaning the dropper with alcohol, I then draw some Black Dye and allow one drop to join the Oxblood. I use a cotton bud to place some of the mixture on a cotton pad and compare.  Well, this isn’t rocket science and it looks good to me.I then use a cotton bud to apply the dye mixture carefully to the rim.  The next picture shows the result.  It looks good, but I decide to add another drop of Fiebing’s Black Leather Dye to the mixture and give the rim another application.This mixture was hitting the bull’s eye a bit more it seemed to me.  As I apply the dye with the cotton bud, I’m careful to apply dye to the small inner rim lip bevel but not to drift into the chamber.  After applying a few coats of dye, I put the stummel aside to allow the dye to settle.  I also save the mixture in case it’s needed for the next pipe on my table, the Aldo Velani Trio Billiard.  In this way I’ll have consistency of color between the brothers!With the stummel now in the wings, I turn to the acrylic stem and use pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 99% to clean the airway.  It does not take a lot of effort and I move on.The stem is dirty, but the main issues are the tooth chatter and a singular tooth depression that has been consistent with all the Aldo Velani Pipes that came from the St. Louis Lot.  The steward who had these pipes was consistent in his clenching habits!    The button has also experienced some clenching and will need to be addressed. I begin with the lower bit looking at the lone tooth compression, most likely from the steward’s eyetooth.  Before sanding, I use regular clear CA glue to fill the compression. I first clean the bit with alcohol and then, using a toothpick, I spot-drop CA glue in the compression.  I also apply some CA on a compression on the button lip.  I set the stem aside for the CA patches to cure.After a time, the patches are cured and using a flat needle file, the patches are filed down to the acrylic surface.  I also refresh the button lips with the file. Next, I continue to sand with 240 paper on first, the lower side then the upper bit.  The patch looks good.On the upper side, along with sanding out the tooth chatter with 240, the button lip is refreshed with the flat needle file.Next, using 600 grade paper, the entire stem is wet sanded.  This is followed by applying 0000 grade steel wool. Moving next to applying the full regimen of micromesh pads, the stem first is wet sanded with pads 1500 to 2400.  After this, the stem is dry sanded with pads 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of thee pads, Obsidian Oil is applied to the acrylic stem.  The stem’s swirls emerged nicely during the process.  Before rejoining the stem and Pot stummel, I refresh the nickel gold shank ring.  This ring is one of the aspects of the Aldo Velani Trio line that augments the ‘bling factor’.  I use a product called Tarn-X Tarnish Remover that works well with several metals to remove the tarnish and increase the shine.I take a closeup to provide a comparison of before and after application.  Using a cotton pad, I carefully apply some of the Tarn-X to the ring and rub in it in well avoiding the briar.  Per the directions, I then immediately use another cotton pad wetted with water to rinse off the remover.I buff up the ring with a cotton cloth and the bling factor has increased!After reuniting the acrylic stem and Pot stummel, a cotton cloth buffing wheel is mounted onto the extender arm of the rotary tool.  With speed set at about 40% full power, Blue Diamond compound is applied to the stem and stummel.  In the picture below you can see that the rim is still dull from the dye that was applied earlier after having plenty of time to settle.  I start with the rim and remove the excess and continue with the rest of the stummel and stem with the mildly abrasive Blue Diamond.After applying the Blue Diamond, I use a felt cloth to wipe and buff the stummel and stem to remove compound dust.  I do this before applying wax.  The compound is an abrasive and is the final sanding phase in a restoration to sand out fine blemishes and scratches.  It leaves abrasive particles behind which would not be good to mix with a carnauba wax application – which is not an abrasive.

There is still one more cosmetic project before applying wax.  I use European Gold Run ‘n Buff to refresh the Aldo Velani stem stamp.  The gold of the metallic paint will match nicely the gold shank ring.I place a small amount of the Rub ‘n Buff on the end of a toothpick and rub it over the stamp imprint.  After making sure that the paint has found all the crevasses of the lettering, I first lightly scrape the excess paint over the stamping with the flat edge of the toothpick then rub the area with a cotton pad.  The results are great!Next, after mounting another cotton cloth buffing wheel onto the Dremel, set at 40% full power, I apply carnauba wax to the stem and stummel.  Little wax is needed on the highly glossed surface of both the bowl and the acrylic stem.  After applying the wax over the entire pipe, I give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth.  This not only raises the shine but removes excess wax from the surface.After completing the application of wax, one mini project remains.  Earlier during the chamber repair of the heating issues, I decided I would apply ‘pipe mud’ to the chamber walls to provide a starter for a protective cake.  In the picture below, not only am I giving a close up of the now beautiful rim, but also visible are remnants of cracks in the chamber wall.  Earlier sanding almost erased the cracking.  I decide to do a mini tutorial on making pipe mud to conclude the restoration of this Aldo Velani Trio Pot.Pipe mud consists of cigar ash and water.  If you have cigar smoking friends, ask them to save the ash of the cigars they enjoy!  Often, cigars will come in heavy duty plastic tubes or flutes, with caps.  They can use these tubes to store the ash.  When I collect cigar ash, seldom is it ‘clean’.  Often it as chunks of debris left that isn’t great for making pipe mud.  I have my ash in a ‘throw-away’ salt grinder that you can buy at the supermarket with salt in it.  When the salt is used, the grinder works well with grinding up cigar ash!I also have a strainer that I use to catch big stuff that comes through the grinder.  Placing the grinder on a paper plate I grind the ash into the strainer.  When I have enough ash ground, I then sift the ash onto the paper plate.  The picture below shows the ‘big stuff’ caught in the strainer and the finer ‘gold’ on the paper plate.The paper plate is helpful because it then becomes a funnel by bending the plate.  Then with the plate folded and functioning as a funnel or a chute, I transfer the ash to the mixing glass.Using a large eye dropper, I then add a small amount of water into the ash and stir it with a pipe nail tool.  CAUTION!  Go slowly on the water.  If too much water is added, then the resulting concoction will be more like an ash slurry rather than a mud that will hold its shape and adhere to the chamber wall.  If too much water is added, then more ash must be added to again thicken the consistency.The mud below is looking good.  It’s holding its shape as I press it against the glass.I place a pipe cleaner through the draft hole to guard against blockage.  Then, using the pipe nail, mud is troweled into the chamber and spread over the wall.  I start at the floor of the chamber and work my way up to the rim.  The flat side of the nail is good to use as a trowel and the round side is good to spread.  The picture below shows the finished job. When the mud dries, it hardens.  During the curing time, I place the pipe with the bowl down so that leaching water won’t settle in the bottom of the chamber but spread out toward the mouth of the chamber.  It seems to dry better this way.  The hour is late, so I’ll let the pipe mud cure through the night.  The next morning in Golden, Colorado, I’m up with coffee in hand.  The pipe mud has cured, the protective layer is in place and this pipe is ready to go.  I give it one more hand buffing with a microfiber cloth for good measure.This is the 5th of the pipes that Daniel has commissioned – the first of the Aldo Velani Trio brothers.  This Aldo Velani Trio Pot had some chamber and rim issues that had to be addressed and I think the results are great.  The style of this Pot stummel brings attention to the broad Pot rim – could almost be described as a plateau.  The characteristic that predominates on the Trio line though, is the ruby red/burgundy finish.  It catches the eye very quickly.  The gold shank ring dials up the bling factor as it transitions from the bowl to the kaleidoscopic acrylic stem alive with all shades of reds, ruby, burgundy and colors that I don’t have a name for!  This pipe, packed with one’s favorite blend, is an after-dinner player which looks good next to a glass of one’s favorite adult beverage – for me, a single malt.  Daniel will have the first opportunity to claim this pipe in The Pipe Steward Store benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria.  Thanks for joining me!

 

Restoring a Gorgeous Ben Wade Martinique Freehand Sitter


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table came to us in a group of pipes that we picked up from a fellow in Los Angeles, California, USA. Even though the finish was a bit dull and lifeless it showed promise under the grit and grime of the years. On the underside of the shank it was clearly stamped Ben Wade in script [over] Martinique [over] Hand Made [over] In [over] Denmark. The finish is filthy with grime and oil ground into the smooth briar of the bowl and shank sides. The bowl had a moderate cake that overflowed in lava on the plateau rim top filling in some of the grooves and valleys of the finish. The same was true of the plateau on the shank end. It had a lot of dust and debris in the grooves. The acrylic stem was dirty but the Ben Wade Crown logo was in good condition. The pipe had some tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. Jeff took some photos of the pipe to show its overall condition before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the lava on the plateau finish of the rim top. There is dust and debris stuck to the walls of the bowl clearly visible in the photos. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the chatter and tooth marks. Otherwise the stem is quite clean.     Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There are a lot of angles on this pipe and there is some stunning grain under the grime.    He took photos of the stamping on the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable. I remembered that the Preben Holm pipes were marketed under the Ben Wade label in the US and imported through Lane Ltd. I turned to Pipedia and read the listing on the brand to refresh my memory and flesh out the knowledge of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Wade). I have included a photo from that site that was taken from a Tinderbox advertisement.

I quote the portion of the article that summarizes the Danish period of the history of the brand:

Young Copenhagen master pipemaker Preben Holm had made a meteoric career heading a pipe manufacture employing 45 people at the age of 22! But around the turn of 1970/71 he was in major financial difficulties. His US distributor, Snug Harbour Ltd. in New York City, left him in the lurch. Holm had three unpaid invoices on his desk and another large shipment was ready for the USA, when Snug Harbour’s manager told him on the phone that there was no money at all on the account to pay him.

So the Dane went to New York for an almost desperate search for a new distribution partner. He made contacts with Lane Ltd. and met Herman G. Lane in February 1971. Lane Ltd. had no interest in Holm’s serial pipes produced at that time but so much the more in the hand-carved freehands because the hype for Danish freehands and fancies in the States was still on its way to the climax then. The meeting resulted in an agreement to start a cooperation. Lane insisted to improve the quality considerably and in return he assured to be able to sell essentially larger quantities.

Holm went back home to work on new samples with all-new designs and altered finishes for Lane. Both, Lane and Holm, agreed that it would be unwise to sell the pipes under Preben Holm’s name as long as Snug Harbour had a considerable stock of Preben Holm pipes and might sell them pipes at very low prices just to bring in some money.

So on Mr. Lane’s proposal it was determined to use the name Ben Wade belonging to Lane Ltd. Lane spent considerable amounts of money for advertising the new brand in the big magazines– the centerpiece being whole-page ads showing a very exclusive Seven Day’s Set.

The cooperation with Lane Ltd. proved to be an eminent business success for both partners. Within a very short time Ben Wade Handmade Denmark sold in much larger quantities and at higher prices than they had ever dreamed of. And the hype these freehands and fancy pipes caused went on unbroken long after Herman G. Lane deceased. Preben Holm – obviously much more brilliant in pipe making than in pipe business – was in major troubles again in 1986 and had to sack most of his staff. The Ben Wade production was significantly lowered but continued until his untimely death in June of 1989.

Up to now Preben Holm made Ben Wade pipes are cult and highly sought for on the estate markets.

With that information my initial thoughts were confirmed. This pipe was a Preben Holm made Freehand distributed in the US by Lane Ltd under the name Ben Wade. The freehand rage occurred in the late 70s and the pipes were made until Preben’s death in 1989. My guess would be that this pipe was made sometime during that time period and potentially in the late 70s.

Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He worked over the debris in the plateau on the rim top and shank end and was able to remove it. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and cotton pads to remove the debris and oils on the stem. He rinsed it with warm water and dried it off. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.  It really looked good. The rim top had some darkening on the back of the bowl. The inner edge of the rim looked very good with slight darkening. The stem surface looked very good with a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.    I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It read clearly as noted above. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The stem is turned fancy acrylic. I polished the bowl and the smooth portions on the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth.  I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and into the plateau rim top with a horsehair shoe brush. The product works 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.   I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks from the surface of the acrylic with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing of the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.   I polished the vulcanite 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.  This beautiful Ben Wade Martinique Freehand Sitter with a fancy, turned acrylic stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. 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 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 Martinique Freehand 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: 6 inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. The weight of the pipe is 71grams/2.50oz.If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!