Tag Archives: staining

Restoring a Beautiful Parker Super Bruyere Cherrywood 287


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table comes from the estate lot that I received from a local pipe shop. It originally belonged to an old customer whose wife brought them back to the shop after his death. I am cleaning them up and selling them for the shop. This one is a beautiful little Parker Cherrywood. It is significantly more petite than the sandblast version that I restored earlier (https://rebornpipes.com/2017/06/17/parker-super-briarbark-cherrywood-809/). The stamping on the left side of the shank reads Parker over Super in a diamond over Bruyere.To the left of that is the shape number 287. On the right side of the shank the stamping reads Made in London over England and the number 4 in a circle denoting the group size.There is no date stamp next to the D in England.When I brought the pipe to the table it was obviously one of the old pipeman’s favourite smokers. The finish was dull and dirty and the stem oxidized with some calcification and buildup around the button area forward and a few minor tooth marks.I took a close up photo of the rim top and bowl to show the lava overflow onto the rim top and the thickness of the cake in the bowl. I find that the cake in these older pipes is like concrete. It is very hard and takes a lot of effort to break it down when reaming the bowl. I also took some photos of the stem to show the condition of the end near the button before my work began. The hard cake in the bowl demanded a bit different reaming strategy. I needed to use multiple pipe reamers to remove it. I started the reaming process with a PipNet reamer using the smallest head and working my way up to the largest one that could take the cake back to bare briar walls. I finished the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife and a KleenReem pipe reamer. I used the drill bit from the end of the KleenReem reamer to clear out the airway between the mortise and the bowl. It was almost clogged with a buildup of tars and oils that had hardened there. The pipe had been smoked to a point where it must have been like sucking on a coffee stirrer and having a thimble of tobacco in the chamber. It was definitely a favourite and obviously a good smoking pipe.With the bowl reamed, I turned my attention to working on the stem. I sanded the stem to remove the calcification around the button and smooth out some of the tooth marks. I also broke up some of the oxidation on the rest of the stem with the 220 grit sandpaper.I “painted” the stem end with a Bic lighter to raise the tooth dents on the surface of the stem. It did not take too much work to raise all but one of them. What remained of the sole dent was a small divot. I wiped down the stem with alcohol and filled in the divot with a drop of black super glue. I set the stem aside so that the glue would cure.I scrubbed the rim top with cotton pads and saliva to remove the tarry buildup there. It took a lot of elbow grease but I was able to remove all of it. There was some burn damage to the front inner rim edge from consistently lighting it in the same place. I remove the damage by blending it into the rest of the rim bevel with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I restained the edge and the rim top to blend in with the rest of the bowl using a medium and a dark brown stain pen. I mixed the stains on the rim surface and rubbed it in with a soft cloth. I gave it a light coat of Conservator’s Wax to further blend in the stain on the rim. The photos below show the rim top after the stain and after the waxing.With the pipe’s externals cleaned and polished I turned my attention to the internals of the mortise and airway in the shank and the stem. I scrubbed them with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners until they were clean.I decided to work on the oxidation on the stem using a combination of the Before & After Stem Deoxidizer and Polish and Brebbia Mouthpiece Polish. I applied the Deoxidizer and Polishes with cotton pads to scrub the surface of the stem. I was able to remove the oxidation without doing any damage to the Parker Diamond stamp on the top of the stem. I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and then gave the entire pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a beautiful pipe that fits well in the hand. The dimensions of the pipe are; Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. It will soon be available on the rebornpipes store. If you are interested in adding it to your collection email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a private message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

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Stem Button TIME SAVER on a 1940’s Dunhill LB


Blog by Henry Ramirez

I was ghosting through Ebay listings looking for a cracked shank to experiment with when this old classic appeared.  The auction was won for a song because in addition to a cracked shank, the year stamping had been buffed off the shank. The usual whole lotta cake and dented stem story.I started with the stem, which was really in great shape.  I have come to love the stumpy profile of the patent LB’s with their constricted contour button.  An Oxyclean bath was followed by an isopropyl alcohol scrubbing with a shank brush and pipe cleaners. I wanted to use heat to raise the bite marks as much as possible to not only decrease my work load but to minimize the inclusion of foreign filler. To this end I also wanted to learn the proper temperature needed to reproduce my results consistently.

Using a heat gun, I took my time and warmed up the vulcanite until my nose told me it was getting close to burning.  If that happens the surface becomes a porous charred stinky mess!  I quickly used a laser temperature gun to obtain a surface reading of 275 degrees F.  Amazing how quickly the surface cooled off once the heat was removed.I was not impressed by the amount of rebound and it looked like filling and filing was in my future.

Having nothing to lose, I pressed my wife’s oven into service, knowing that I could set the temperature substantially higher than previous attempts without fear of ruination. I set the oven temperature at 265 degrees F to have a 10 degree safety zone and watched as the whole stem “stretched out”.  This was more like it! The dents were now depressions that needed the light to shine just so to be seen.  Little CA and polishing was needed.

I should mention that these values are for older Dunhill vulcanite only.  The composition of vulcanite has changed over the years, according to some posts I’ve read, and I’ve noticed it in the depth of polish ability.Now it was the time to clean and evaluate the briar. While I ream the mortise and bowl I am wishing that I had Steve’s magical Savinelli Pipe knife. Boy, those things are rarer than hen’s teeth and this old cake is super hard. That is followed by total immersion in an isopropyl bath with various scrub brushes stripping the briar. I couldn’t save the original finish because the shank crack needed to be clean and open as much as possible for the bonding. One of the perks of the alcohol bath is that after the bowl dries out, if there is any residual cake stuck to the chamber walls, it shrivels up and is easily removed.The shank crack was now very evident but the year stamping was not.Getting back to the stem, I wanted to know if the alcohol retort was worth the hassle.  I had been as meticulous as possible with the pipe cleaners and cold alcohol.  The color of the used alcohol in the distillation flask tells the story, close but no banana! I could now address the cracked shank.  I had previously repaired such a problem using a micro-screw and bonded dental composite resin.  I was concerned that threading the screw into old dry briar could start micro-fractures and crazing.

This time I elected to drill a channel spanning the crack and passively bond a post fabricated from longitudinal glass fibers encompassed in a strong composite resin matrix.  This would also provide some flex in the repair to accommodate the dimensional changes that briar goes through because of temperature changes during smoking.

At this time I also drilled a post hole at the end of the crack to prevent further spidering.  Because the crack was significantly wide I made sure to introduce my resin with a size 06 endodontic file.  I had planned to use a C clamp to close the gap but I chickened out when finger pressure did nothing.  Not sure how to make briar temporarily more flexible….

After filling the post hole and cementing the fiber post with dual cure composite resin, I trimmed off the post and blacked out the white resin with black CA.

Before beginning to start the staining process I wanted to open the pores of the cellulose to not only gain greater absorption of the dye but also improve the briar’s capacity to absorb tars for a sweeter smoke.  I had noticed such a phenomenon with the Missouri Meerschaum corn cob pipes.

I found that this particular wheel had already been invented by the folks who refinish wooden decks.  I tracked down some relatively non-toxic materials which did the job and whose run off wouldn’t hurt plants.

Sodium percarbonate does the cleaning and oxalic acid removes the smear layer, thus opening up the wood’s pores.  Looking around online for a source I realized that I already had both chemicals in the laundry room!  Oxyclean is the percarbonate and states on the container that it’s great for wood decks, siding and lawn furniture.  Bar Keeper’s Friend has oxalic acid as its active ingredient and states on the container that it works on teak wood.Indeed after scrubbing with both and rinsing with water, I noticed that the chamber’s surface looked and felt less dense.Now it was time to stain the briar with Oxblood diluted 50% with isopropyl alcohol in two coats, both flamed with the micro-torch.I was lucky that the original black stain in the depths of the blast remained.An overlay stain of light brown was applied in 2 coats.After a rub down with an old t-shirt to remove any xs dye, I applied 2 coats of Halcyon wax.  A quick buff on the lathe and then a hand strapping with a shoe bristle brush brought the shine up.  I want to mention that my wife gifted me her silver brush which is narrow and has long soft bristles which easily accesses the crotch of the pipe without fear of collision. This has proved most useful on bent pipes.Another very helpful tip came from a pipe maker’s blog about dead-faced files to add crispness to the button area.  They are the dead faced nut seating file by Stewart MacDonald, a luthier’s supply house and the pillar files which have the dead side on the edge from OttoFrei, a clock makers source.Well I’m now satisfied with the pipe but not finished. They say we abandon these projects because we reach a point where better becomes an enemy of good. Boy that was fun and I hope to share more adventures with these fabulous old pipes!  Regards, Henry

 

A difficult trust: Gift of a Grandfather – A BBB Double Star Made in England


Blog by Dal Stanton

When I study the venerable pipe on my work table, it is not a glamorous display of briar and silver bands.  Some might call it a basket pipe.  The two stars imprinted on the shank were an indication of a working man’s pipe – not high quality, but among those pipes accessible to normal, if not common, people who work, live, love and as is the case with us all, die.  This unremarkable Apple shaped, BBB [diamond over] Double Star, MADE IN ENGLAND [over] 152, is remarkable because of the story it represents.   I enjoy restoring ‘estate’ pipes because they were left to others and these pipes carry with them stories and memories of loved ones who once befriended and valued them.  Greg heard from my son, Josiah, who are college buddies, that Josiah’s old man (my words not theirs!) restored ‘old’ pipes.   This ‘old’ pipe came to Greg from his grandfather through his mother.  Josiah’s email came to me asking what I could do with these pictures from Greg. My understanding is that Greg was a bit reluctant at first to send his pipe off to Bulgaria to be restored, but after Josiah directed him to some of the restorations I’ve done, he felt he could trust me with the heirloom that had come to him.  Knowing that this pipe was from his grandfather I asked that Greg send me information about his grandfather so that I not only could place the pipe better in history, but Greg’s grandfather as well.  This is the letter he sent me:

Hi Mr. Stanton,

Thank you so much for agreeing to restore my grandfather’s pipe. I am sorry for the delay in getting you the below information, but it’s been a crazy couple of weeks.

My mother inherited the pipe from my grandfather when he passed away in 1998. I saw it in the china cabinet one day and asked her if I could have it, since I had taken up pipe smoking. She kindly agreed. She doesn’t really know when my grandfather got the pipe, but she said he must have bought it in Hong Kong.

My grandfather was from Hong Kong, and only emigrated to the United States in the 1980s. He was a malaria inspector for the Hong Kong government for his entire working career. He must have gotten the pipe at the latest in the late 1940s or early 1950s, as my mother remembers him having it when she was a child. He never smoked the pipe when I knew him, but from its condition, I assume it was well used at an earlier period in his life.

Having graduated from the University of Georgia Law School in Athens, Georgia, passed his bars and currently serves as a law clerk to a federal magistrate judge in Augusta, Georgia, AND as a young married man, I can understand why Greg “took up” smoking pipes!  Pipes are wonderful companions for blooming attorneys!  His letter concluded with an agreement to the cost of the restoration would benefit our work with the Daughters of Bulgaria!  Thank you, Greg!

The information Greg received from his mother was invaluable for placing this BBB in time and space.  Pipedia’s article about BBB is helpful.  BBB in the mid-1800s originally stood for “Blumfeld’s Best Briars”, but after the death of Blumfeld, the Adolph Frankau Company took over the company and BBB gradually became “Britain’s Best Briars”.

The “BBB Two Star” rating also is referenced in the same article in a discussion of quality descriptors for BBB pipes:

In the Thirties, the top-of-the-range one becomes “BBB Best Make” with alternatives like “Super Stopping” and “Ultonia Thule”. The BBB Carlton, sold with the detail with 8/6 in 1938, is equipped with a system complicated out of metal, system which equipped the BBB London Dry too. Blue Peter was not estampillées BBB but BBB Ultonia, and the BBB Two Star (* *) become the bottom-of-the-range one. 

When Greg’s pipe arrived in Bulgaria, thanks to a visitor’s willingness to carry it across the Atlantic and European continent, I unwrapped it and put it on my work desk and took these pictures to fill in the gaps. At PipePhil.eu an example of the BBB Two Star marking is pictured along with the stinger/tube style extending into the chamber as Greg’s grandfather’s BBB does ( as seen above).In Pipes Magazine, I found a thread discussing the dating of the BBB Two Star.  One threader’s opinion, ‘jguss’ corroborates Greg’s mother’s recollections:

My guess is that the Two Star line started at the end of WWII; the first mention I’ve found so far is dated 1945, which at least gives a tpq (that is, an approximate dating). I know the line lasted at least into the early sixties.

It is not too difficult to speculate about the provenance of Greg’s pipe.  During WW2, briar became a scarce commodity throughout Europe and pipe manufacturing companies made do with what they could acquire.  Two Star BBBs would be lower end but more than likely during this time, a very close second when rations were short.  Added to this backdrop is the origin of our story in Hong Kong.  Hong Kong, a British holding since 1841 (see LINK), lost control of Hong Kong during WW2 to Japan in 1941 during the Battle of Hong Kong.  Undoubtedly, Greg’s grandfather would have experienced this first hand.  When Japan unconditionally surrendered in 1945, the British regained control of Hong Kong, but to counter Chinese pressures to control Hong Kong, reforms were introduced that broadened and increased the stake of local inhabitants of Hong Kong:

Sir Mark Young, upon his return as Governor in early May 1946, pursued political reform known as the “Young Plan“, believing that, to counter the Chinese government’s determination to recover Hong Kong, it was necessary to give local inhabitants a greater stake in the territory by widening the political franchise to include them.[19] (Link)

During the years following the Second World War, the same article describes unprecedented economic development which resulted in the economic powerhouse that Hong Kong became.  This period would have been while Greg’s grandfather was working as a malaria inspector for the government of Hong Kong and during which he acquired this BBB Two Star.  The smaller Apple shape would have served him well as he performed his inspection duties but given the ‘stem forensics’ pictured above, he probably chewed on it a bit as well while he worked!

With a greater sense of the story that this BBB Two Star tells, from England, to Hong Kong, to America, and now to Bulgaria, I’m anxious to restore this precious family gift from Greg’s grandfather.  At Greg’s request, he’s hoping for a pipe that is as good as new and ready for a new lifetime of service.  Yet, with all restorations, undoubtedly there will be some marks and blemishes remaining – these an ongoing testament to the memory of those who those who went before.

The first order of approach is with the stinger.  When the pipe arrived, the stinger was already separated from the stem.  The stinger extends from the stem through the mortise into the chamber itself through a metal tube air draft hole.  Using a pair of plyers, I wrap a piece of cloth around the end to pull gently to dislodge the stinger from the mortise.  I can see in the mortise that there appears to be a metal sheath that the stinger is lodged in – at least, that is what it appears to be.  The stinger is not budging and I do not want to break the stinger off.  To try to loosen things up, I pour some isopropyl 95% in the chamber to allow it to soak into the draft hole.  Hopefully, in time, this will loosen the stinger. The alcohol soak did not work.  In fact, a few weeks have transpired since writing the words above.  This stinger has given me quite the challenge.  In the back of my mind constantly, is the concern that I not leverage too much pressure pulling on the stinger.  I’m concerned about damaging the shank.  After soaking the internals for some time with alcohol, I pulled with plyers hoping to break the grip.  I also attempt heating the stummel with a heat gun in hope of dislodging the stinger.  I also heat the protruding part of the stinger with a candle, hoping that this would break the bond.  It did not.   I also was concerned about the candle flame close to the briar while trying to heat the stinger.  I craft a tinfoil shield, but this was not successful.  Unfortunately, I singed the end of the shank and had to remove the damage by ‘topping’ the shank end, which leads to a bit of work lining up the stem and shank later.  As you might expect, the protruding end of the stinger did not hold up under the pressure and eventually broke off. After the stinger protrusion broke off, and after a second email to Steve for input, I’m at the point of using a drill bit in another attempt to remove the bonded stinger.  Starting with a very small bit, I hand turn the bit to allow the drill to find the center of the stinger and gradually, remove the stinger introducing the next larger drill bit.  The end of the broken stinger begins at about 1/4-inch-deep into the mortise.  Unfortunately, this method is not working either because the drill bit will not bite into the metal and remain straight.  At the end of the stinger slot that I’m boring into with the drill bit, my efforts are flummoxed by the stinger’s design.  It has a slanted metal airflow deflector that causes the drill bit to veer off mark.  After breaking the end of the drill bit in the slot (ugh!), and digging it out with needle nose pliers, I sit and begin to think I was facing failure.  Nothing was working.  I’m introducing more problems to the restoration as I try unsuccessfully to solve the stuck stinger problem.  I can’t move forward and I’m stuck and begin to compose an apology letter to Greg in my mind.  UNTIL, on a fancy, I insert a small flat head screw driver into the slot at the end of the broken stinger 1/4-inch-deep in the mortise and I twist it gently counter-clockwise, and it snaps.  Suddenly, it was loose and I easily extract the ‘middle’ of Grandpa’s old stinger – I’m sure he was the last one to see this artifact!  I see daylight through the mortise and I’m hoping that it might also be a metaphoric ‘light at the end of the tunnel’!  I’ve not forgotten that the other end of the stinger remains lodged in the draft hole tube at the foot of the chamber.  Thankfully, a larger drill bit was the perfect size and it reaches into the mortise and hand turning the bit, it clears the rest of the stinger shrapnel.  Finally!  Oh my….  I’ll be saving the stinger debris for Greg.  This BBB will continue without difficulty stingerless.  The pictures show the results. In the interest of full disclosure, these words are coming weeks after.  Why the hiatus?  Life’s normal twists and turns, work, some wonderful travel to Crete for an organizational conference, to Athens (not in Georgia) for a consultation on the Eastern Orthodox Church, AND my growing frustration with Greg’s grandfather’s pipe’s restoration as more complications arrived!  I’ll try to catch you up to the present:

With the stinger removed, I was anxious to continue the restoration with a ‘normal’ pattern – the stem goes into the Oxi-Clean bath to deal with the oxidation in the stem.  After some hours, the stem is removed from the bath and I wet sand with 600 grade sanding paper removing the raised oxidation followed by 0000 steel wool. To clean and protect the BBB stamping on the stem, I use a non-abrasive Mr. Clean ‘Magic Eraser’ sponge.  The pictures show the progress.The next step is to re-seat the tenon into the mortise.  After the arduous process of removing the stinger, and after singing the shank end with a candle flame, and after ‘topping’ the shank to remove the damaged briar, the tenon and mortise needed to be re-wedded with the new realities.  The tenon was too large for full insertion into the shank.  Using a combination of reducing the tenon size with sanding paper and steel wool, sanding and filing the throat of the mortise, and using a rounded needle file to cut a new internal mortise openning bevel to accommodate the broader tenon base, I patiently, slowly, methodically worked to re-seat the tenon in the mortise which included working and then testing the new fit – GENTLY!  I suppose the fact that I said to myself, ‘Dal, careful, don’t crack the shank’, at least a 1000 times only made the sinking feeling more intense when I heard the sickening sound during what proved to be my last, ‘gentle testing’ of the tenon inserted into the mortise.  The hairline crack is pictured below that I took only a day ago – I couldn’t bear to take it then, when it happened.  I was sickened and put Greg’s pipe aside.  I needed some time to work through my own sense of failure of the trust given me to restore this family heirloom.  Now, after several weeks, I’ve regrouped and have taken up Greg’s pipe again.  The travels that I described above during this time in some ways felt more like Jonah running from Nineveh not wanting to face the scene of his calling and his sense of failure!  Though, my trip did prove beneficial – I sold some of my finished pipes to colleagues to benefit and raise the awareness of the Daughters of Bulgaria that The Pipe Steward supports.  I’ve included my Nineveh travels below for you who may not be familiar with ‘my world’, the Balkans – Sofia to Crete to Athens and back. Before moving forward, I needed to repair the cracked shank.  With the help of a magnifying glass, I locate the terminus of the crack and mark it by creating an indentation with a sharp dental probe.  The arrow to the left below marks this.  Using the Dremel tool, I mount a 1mm sized bit and drill a hole at that point – but not going through!  This hole acts like a controlled back-fire to stop the progress of a forest fire.  This will not allow the crack to continue creeping.  With the use of a toothpick, I spot-drop Hot Stuff CA Instant Glue in the hole and along the line of the crack which I expanded microscopically by partially inserting the tenon into the mortise.  This allows the CA glue better penetration to seal the crack.  I remove the stem immediately after the application of CA.  With the CA glue still wet, I apply briar dust to/in the hole and along the crack to encourage better blending.  The pictures show the progress. After some hours allowing the CA glue to cure on the shank repair, using a round grinding stone bit mounted on the Dremel, I reestablish an adequate and uniform internal bevel on the end of the shank to accommodate the base of the tenon when it is fully inserted into the mortise.  My theory is this is what caused the crack – lack of a sufficient internal bevel giving room for the slightly enlarged tenon as it merges with the stem proper.  With the Dremel engaged at the slowest setting, I’m careful to apply minimal pressure as I rotate the ball a bit to make sure it’s centered.  It looks good – the pictures show the progress.Due to a lapse of sorts and the intensity of my focus on re-seating the stem again without re-cracking the shank, I failed (or perhaps, had little desire) to take any pictures.  The short of it is, the stem and stummel have been reunited after some difficult times.  Also, not pictured are some of the basic steps: reaming the fire chamber of carbon cake buildup, cleaning the internals of the stummel and stem with cotton swabs and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95%, and cleaning the externals of the stummel with Murphy’s Soap.  Again, picking up the trail, pictured below is the micromesh pad process with the stem.  Using pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand the stem, followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and then 6000 to 12000.  I follow each cycle with an application of Obsidian Oil to revitalize the vulcanite.  The stummel surface shows quite a bit of pitting in the first picture shown again below.  The rim also shows nicks. On the larger pits shown below on the heel of the stummel, I spot-fill with a toothpick using CA glue and shorten the curing time by using an accelerator spray on the fills.  After filing and sanding the fills to the briar surface, using a progression of 3 sanding sponges from coarse, medium to light, I work out most the remaining pitting over the stummel surface.  Using 600 grit paper on the chopping block, I also give a light topping to the rim to remove nicks and create fresh lines for the rim.  Following the topping, I introduce an internal bevel to the rim, first using a coarse 120 paper rolled tightly, then with 240 and 600.  The internal rim bevel to me, always adds a touch of class but also helps create softer lines which enhances this Apples shape.  The pictures show the unhindered progress! I now take micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 and wet sand the stummel followed by dry sanding with micromesh pads 3200 to 4000 and then 6000 to 12000 taking a picture after each set to mark the progress.  I am careful to guard the BBB nomenclature on the shank sides.  As I move through these cycles, I realize that I have been so wrapped up in the technical aspects of this restoration for Greg, that I failed to see the beauty of this diminutive Apple shape.  The grain that emerges from Grandpa’s old timer is truly beautiful. Flame grain and swirls, with a few bird’s eyes accenting the whole – totally eye-catching for a Two Star sub-mark BBB I would say! To see the big picture to help determine the next steps, I reunite stem and stummel and stand back and take a good look.  This BBB Made in England is looking real good – in spite of everything!  I can see by the way the BBB Apple naturally sits on the surface, leaning slightly like a listing ship, but remaining upright, provides some clues regarding the significant pitting on the heel of the stummel – just off center. Greg’s grandfather undoubtedly and conveniently placed his pipe on a table or counter surface, or perhaps on a nearby crate, as he made his rounds as a malaria inspector for the province of Hong Kong.  The original BBB coloring leaned toward the favored darker hues of English pipe makers and client proclivities. I decide not to go that dark, but to stain the stummel using a light brown base with a touch of dark brown to tint it down that track a bit.  This will make for better blending, especially for the darker briar around the nomenclature on the shank.  Using Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye as the base, I add a touch of Fiebing’s Dark Brown.  Using a folded pipe cleaner in the shank as a handle, I begin by warming the stummel with a hot air gun to expand the briar making it more receptive to the dye.  After heated, I apply the dye mixture to the stummel generously aiming for total coverage.  I then fire the wet stummel with a lit candle igniting the aniline dye, burning off the alcohol and setting the pigment in the grain.  After a few minutes, I repeat the process concluding with firing the stummel.  I put the stummel aside to rest for several hours.  The pictures show the staining process – yes, you can see my blue fingers – I’ve started wearing latex gloves when I’m staining. After some hours, I’m looking forward to ‘unwrapping’ the fired stummel to reveal the stained briar beneath.  Using a felt buffing wheel mounted on the Dremel, set at the slowest speed, I use Tripoli compound to remove the initial layer.  Moving in a methodical, rotating pattern, I work my way around the stummel not apply a great deal of down-pressure on the wheel, but allowing the RPMs of the felt wheel and the compound to do the work. After removing the crusted layer with Tripoli, I wipe the surface with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  I do this not so much to lighten the finish, but to blend and even out the stain over the surface.  Following this, I mount a cotton cloth wheel on the Dremel, increase the speed slightly, and apply Blue Diamond – a slightly less abrasive compound.  After both compounds, I use a clean towel to hand buff the stummel to remove excess compound dust before applying the wax.  Pictures show the progress. Reattaching the stem and stummel, I apply several coats of carnauba wax to both.  Using a cotton cloth wheel, I set the speed of the Dremel to 2 with 5 being the fastest, I apply the carnauba and I like what I see.  With the carnauba wax applied, I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel and again buff the stummel and stem.  Finally, I apply a rigorous hand buff using a micromesh cloth to raise the shine more.

This BBB Double Star Apple has come a long way from England to Hong Kong to the US to Bulgaria, and now it’s ready to return to its new steward.  This restoration was a bit bumpy, but then, so is life.  I’m glad to help give this pipe a new lifetime and I hope Greg not only enjoys it, but that it provides a special connection with his past.  I’m sure Grandpa would be proud.  Thanks for joining me!

Breathing Life into an Antique Imported Briar Bull Moose


Blog by Steve Laug

There is something about these older Mincer style pipes that grabs my attention. I am drawn to their rustic appearance and feel in the hand. This one was a Bullmoose shape – though the “nose” on it is much more conservative than many of these that I have seen. The stamping on the left side of the shank is a standing lion inside of a shield and next to that ANTIQUE over Imported Briar. I have searched on the web and in my books for this logo and cannot find it but I did find a listing for the ANTIQUE in Who Made That Pipe for a company called Heritage Pipes Inc. NYC. The company is to be distinguished from the Heritage line made by Kaywoodie as a high end alternative to Dunhill pipes. I have looked for information on the company online but so far have not found any. Anyone have any information on the brand?

My brother took photos of the pipe before he cleaned it up. I have included those photos below. It is an interesting pipe.The next photos of the pipe show the damage on the rim top. The three different photos show the damaged areas from different angles. The rim top looked like it was damaged on the inner and outer edges of the bowl. The top looked like the finish was peeling but I would know more about it once I had it in hand. He took photos of the rusticated bowl sides. The smooth portions show grain. The double rings around the bowl cap have nicks and chips out of the top and bottom edges of the rims as well as the centre spacer. The next photo shows the stamping on the left hand side of the shank. Metal shank insert that separates the stem from the shank is oxidized.The stem is oxidized and has tooth chatter and tooth marks on both sides near the button. It is also overclocked making the stem sit crooked in the shank.My brother reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and cleaned out the insides. Pipes with the threaded metal mortise hold a lot of grime and tars so I will need to clean it further. The exterior was scrubbed with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush and the grime and deteriorating finish was removed completely. The stem oxidation came to the surface in the cleaning. The next four photos show the condition of the pipe when I received it. I took a close up photo of the rim to show what it looked like when it arrived. Fortunately the areas on the rim that looked like flaking in the early photos was only lava buildup and it was gone. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that.The next two photos show the stem. The tooth chatter was lighter on the top of the stem than the underside. There were two deep tooth marks on the underside. The button edge on the topside was dented from teeth as well.I took the stem off the shank and was surprised that the conical stinger apparatus was gone. I heated the metal tenon with a lighter until the glue softened and twisted the stem around in the mortise until it lined up straight on the shank.I sanded the rim top and the inner beveled edge of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage and the darkening. It did not take too much work to smooth out the dents and nicks and clean out the darkened inner edge of the bowl.To repair the chip out of the ring around the cap on the bowl on the right side I filled in the gap with briar dust and put drops of clear super glue on top of the dust. I used a dental spatula and a knife to recut the twin rings around the cap. Once it dried I sanded the repaired area on the ring and the rim top with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge and with 1500-6000 grit micromesh sanding pads to smooth out the scratches left behind by the paper.I cleaned out the inside of the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until the cleaners came out white.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and then used black super glue to fill in the tooth marks on the top edge of the button and the underside of the stem.When the glue dried I sanded the stem with 320 grit sand paper and polished it with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. After sanding it with the 4000 grit pad I buffed it with red Tripoli on the buffing wheel then finished polishing it with the final three grits of micromesh. I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I stained the bowl with Cherry Danish Oil and wiped it down to give it a shine. I wanted to highlight the red colours in the briar. The colour came out really well and the grain shines through on the rim and the smooth portions of the bowl and shank. I buffed it lightly with a shoe brush. The photos below show the staining and the finished bowl. I buffed the stem some more with red Tripoli and with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish out the oxidation that still remained at the junction of the stem and shank. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax. I buffed the bowl with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The dimensions on the pipe are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Outer diameter: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It really is a nice looking older piece of pipe history and should make a great addition to someone’s pipe rack. It will go on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you would like to purchase it contact me via private message on Facebook or through my email at slaug@uniserve.com. Thanks for looking.

 

New Life or an Oval Shank Whitehall Saratoga Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

Not long ago I received and email from Dave, a reader of the blog, asking about a couple of pipes that he had picked up. This is the second of the two pipes – the Whitehall Saratoga. I have included part of his email below. He gives his assessment regarding the pipes and what he wanted done.

Steve… I have recently been gifted 2 estate pipes that I would love to have reincarnated by your hands? I am not sure of the cost and wanted to speak with you first… The 2 pipes in question are not in bad shape, just have some age, cake and minimal wear; one is a Whitehall rusticated with saddle stem and the other a Pear shaped Dr. Grabow Westbrook… I have attached some images with this email so that you have some idea of how they look. If you need additional images please let me know. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Regards, Dave The pipe was in pretty decent shape over all. The rim was dirty but the inner and outer edges were in good shape. The finish was worn and dirty but the carved striations looked good. The smooth patches around the shank, the underside and the two panels on the bowl sides were scratched but otherwise clean. The stem was oxidized and had some deep tooth marks on both the top and underside near the button. The W stamp on the top of the saddle was faint and worn. I would need to be careful in cleaning the oxidation not to damage the logo stamp. The photos below show the condition of the pipe when I received it. I took a close up photo of the stamping on the shank. The stamp is clearly legible and reads Whitehall over Saratoga over Briar Italy. The second photo shows the rim and bowl condition. There was still a light cake that would need to be scraped out but it was really quite nice.I took photos of the stem. It is hard to see the tooth dents in the photos below but they are present. There was a W on the top of the saddle stem that was a decal and it was coming off. The button is worn from use. The oxidation is quite deep.When I took the stem out there was a small stinger in the tenon. It was dirty but was easily removed and would be polished and put back in place.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to break up the oxidation on the stem and reshape the button. I sanded out the shallower tooth marks to remove them. I wiped down the stem and repaired the deeper marks with black super glue. I set the stem aside to let the repairs cure. I turned my attention to the bowl. I scrubbed it with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime from the grooves in the briar on the bowl and rim. I rinsed the bowl down with warm water and dried it off with a towel. The freshened pipe is shown in the photos below. I reamed out the bowl to remove the last of the cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. It did not take too long to smooth out the remnants of the cake in the bowl. I scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. I went through a lot of pipe cleaners and cotton swabs before they came out clean.I restained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain and flamed it with a lighter. I repeated the process until the coverage was even and I was happy with the results. I wiped down the bowl with alcohol on cotton pads to lighten the stain and make the contrast between the rusticated part and the smooth ones more obvious. I gave the pipe a coat of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a shoe brush to give it a shine and check out what the colour looked like. I took some photos of the polished bowl to show how it looked at this point in the process. The pipe is beginning to look really good. I sanded the top of the shank to remove the dark colour and make it more transparent at the stem shank junction. Note the nicks in the smooth portions of the bowl and shank. They are deep so I will not be able to sand them out. They actually act like marks of history of the journey of this pipe. It was not quite right. I wanted a little more red in the finished briar. I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the wax so I could do a bit of a contrast stain. For the second coat I rubbed down the bowl with a coat of Cherry Danish Oil to highlight the red colour in the briar. The combination of stains gives a nice contrast look to the pipe. I polished it with a soft cloth and took photos of the finished bowl. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I talked with Dave regarding the W decal on the saddle and we decided to remove it as it was worn and kept me from removing the oxidaiton on the saddle while trying to protect it. I resanded the with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and the remnants of the decal. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil between each pad. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and repeated the oil treatments. I buffed the stem with red Tripoli on the buffing wheel and followed that with Blue Diamond polish. I gave the stem several coats of carnauba wax and polished it by hand. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond to polish out some of the minute scratches in the surface. I gave the stem several coats of carnauba wax to protect and give it a shine. I hand waxed the bowl with Conservators Wax and buffed the bowl and stem with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I will be packing it up soon and sending it back to Dave so he can fire up a bowl and give this beauty a smoke. Thanks for looking.

Refreshing a Beautiful Aldo Velani Bent Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

This is the second pipe from the lot my brother Jeff picked up an estate sale a few weekends ago. He had received a call from the auction house that was running the sale to let him know that there were going to be some pipes in the sale. They said that many of the pipes were what they called higher end pipes. They talked a bit and he asked if they would mind sending him a list of the pipes that were coming up. They went one step better and sent him the two photos to the left of the pipes as a preview of what was going on sale. Using FaceBook Messenger we went through the pipes and picked the ones that we wanted to purchase. He would go to the sale the next day and see what he could find. It is times like this that I wish I lived close so I could go with him to these sales.

Friday morning he went into the sale and they handed him a bucket and the box of pipes that they had set back behind the counter for him. There were indeed some nice pipes in the batch and certainly pricier than the average lot we usually find at estate or antique sales and malls. There were quite a few Savinelli pipes as well as Stanwell, GBD, Aldo Velani, Nording, Il Ceppo, Barlings, DiMonte and a Chacom Sahara. They made him a proposition for the entire lot of pipes and he went for it. He came home with all of the pipes in the photos to the left.

When he got home he called me on FaceTime and went through the pipes he had picked up. We were both pretty excited by the lot. As we went through them we noted the names, brands and the stamping on the shank of each pipe. I got more excited as we noted each pipe and its condition. We realized that these pipes were in pretty decent shape other than the usual dirtiness and grime from smoking. There was not any significant damage to rims or bowls. Almost all the stems had tooth marks near the button on both sides that would need to be cleaned up. But other than that, it was a very nice lot of pipes. We had done well with the purchase.

I chose to work on the Aldo Velani Italian Dublin next. It is a beautiful Dublin shaped pipe that was in pretty good shape. It was stamped on the left side of the shank with the brand ALDO VELANI. On the underside of the shank next to the stem shank junction it bore the stamp ITALY. The saddle stem was Lucite and had not stamping or logo on it. My brother took the following photos before he worked on the pipes.The finish on the bowl was in pretty decent shape. The rim surface was dirty and had some tars and oil build up. Around the inner edge of the bowl some of varnish coat was peeling off and the briar was showing through. There were some dents and nicks in the surface. On the front right of the bowl there was a spot where the varnish was damaged like the bowl had been rubbed against a rough surface (it is visible in the second photo below). I would need to smooth out those areas and stain and give them a top coat to replace the shine. The finish on the sides and the  bottom of the bowl was in excellent shape. The next two photos show the stamping on the pipe – the brand on the left side and the country of origin on the underside next to the silver band.The stem had tooth chatter on the top side next to the button and on top of it. On the underside there were tooth marks and chatter that would need to be sanded out. Fortunately none of them were too deep.Once again Jeff did his usual thorough cleanup of the pipe. He scrubbed the interior and exterior and sent me a very clean pipe that I only needed to put the finishing touches on. The next four photos show the pipe when I brought it to my work table. The pipe looked really good. The finish on the bowl sides, bottom and shank were in excellent condition. The scrape on the front of the bowl and the rim scrapes where the varnish coat was missing were clean and ready to repair. The stem was clean as well other than the light oxidation and the tooth chatter. I took a photo of the rim top to show the damage on the inner edge. You can see the area on the right side of the inner edge and the back side. There was also some damage on the front inner edge of the bowl. These would need to be sanded and repaired.The stem was very clean other than the tooth chatter and tooth marks.When I removed the stem the silver band fell off in my hands. The glue that had held it in place had dried and cracked. I used a tooth pick to spread all purpose glue around the end of the shank and pressed the band in place.I sanded the inner edge of the rim to remove the damaged finish. I used 1500-6000 grit micromesh sanding pads to smooth out the damaged areas. I wet sanded the areas to minimize the damage. I touched up the sanded areas with a dark brown stain pen. It matched the stain on the surrounding bowl. I ran a pipe cleaner and alcohol through the mortise and airway in the shank and stem. The pipe cleaner came out very clean and showed that the pipe was spotless.I sanded out the tooth chatter and tooth marks with 220 grit sandpaper until the surface of the stem was smooth. Once I had it sanded smooth I polished it with micromesh sanding pad – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cotton pad to remove the sanding dust after each pad so that I could see how it was polishing. To give the repaired areas on the rim top a shine like the rest of the bowl I buffed it with Blue Diamond and then applied some Cherry Danish Oil to the rim top with a cotton swab. I repeated the process until the top of the rim shone. It looked like the rest of the bowl once again. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. It polished out all of the minute scratches in the surface of the Lucite and the briar. It does a great job with a soft touch when polishing briar and the shine that the Blue Diamond gives Lucite is glassy. I gave the bowl and stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It really is a beautiful looking pipe. The Dublin shape is perfectly laid out to maximize the grain. This one will soon be for sale on the rebornpipes store. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know either by email to slaug@uniserve.com or a private message on FaceBook. Thanks for looking.

Reworking Rustication on a Savinelli Extra Lumberman


Blog by Steve Laug

My brother and I picked up this long shanked Canadian when I was in Idaho. We bought it from the same seller that had all of the Calabash pipes. It is a wire wheel rustication that follows the bowl at an angle and runs almost chevron like on the top and bottom of the shank. It is a large pipe. The dimensions are: length – 7 ½ inches, height – 2 inches, external diameter – 1 ½ inches, inner bowl diameter – ¾ inches. There were some obvious issues with the pipe that I will point out through the following photos. First of all the big picture look at the pipe. It is stamped Savinelli Extra Lumberman on the underside of the shank. Next to that it is stamped Italy. In the second photo below you can see the line where the two sections of shank are joined. The next two photos of the rim top and the underside of the bowl and shank show some of the other issues. The rim top was worn smooth in places and the front right outer edge was rough from knocking the pipe out on hard objects. There was also some cake on the wall that needed to come out on the front right of the inner edge. The underside of the shank shows a hairline crack above the Lumberman and Italy stamping and another at the edge of the bowl just above my thumb. There was also a hard patch of something stuck to the bottom front of the bowl that was hard and rough. I am not sure if it is a repair or what but it will need to be addressed.The band on the shank is part of a shank repair that had been done on the pipe. The shank had been smoothed out and most of the rustication removed under and in front of the band. There was a repaired crack on the underside of the shank. The band was loose on the shank as the glue had dried. The band is an aftermarket repair band and not original. The replacement stem has been poorly fitted to the shank end. The diameter of the oval stem does not match that of the shank and band.There were definitely a lot of little issues that needed to be addressed on this long shanked Canadian but there was something about it that attracted me to its potential. I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper and removed the damage to the outer and inner edges of the rim.I pressed some briar dust into the small crack on the right side of the bowl toward the bottom and added some clear superglue. I repaired the hairline crack on the shank and on the lower left side of the bowl – drilling the ends carefully with a microdrill and then filling in the crack with briar dust and super glue. I circled the small cracks in red in the photos below.I used a series of dental burrs and drill bits on the Dremel to replicate the striated pattern of the wire rustication on the bowl and shank. It took some slow and careful handwork. I ran the Dremel at a speed of 5 so that I could easily maneuver it around the bowl and shank to match the pattern of the rustication. I used it to remove most of the thick, hard spot on the front of the bowl and match the rustication pattern surrounding it. I reworked the rustication on the rim of the pipe. I repaired the rustication under and against the band on the end of the shank and the repair on the underside of the shank. The first go at it I used the dental burrs but would later have to use files and rasps to cut the proper pattern in the briar. The next photos show the progress of the rustication. I slid the band off the shank, put the stem in place and shaped the stem to fit the curvature of the shank. I worked on it with 220 grit sandpaper until the flow of the shank and the stem matched. I personally like a smooth junction between the stem and the shank and the only way to do that correctly is to remove the band and rework that area before gluing the band back in place. The next two photos show the fit of the stem to the band and also the striated rustication pattern. Progress is being made.I slid the band off and put white all-purpose glue around the shank where the band would go. I pressed the band in place and wiped away the excess glue. I let the glue under the band set until the band was tight against the shank.I gave the bowl and shank an under stain of dark brown aniline based stain. I applied it and flamed it to set it in the briar. I repeated the process until the coverage was what I wanted.I hand buffed the pipe with a cotton cloth to give it a basic polish. I wanted to see what the coverage looked like once the stain had dried. I took photos to show how the pipe looked once I had gotten to this point in the restoration. The rim did not look right to me so I used a file to cut lines into the rim top. I used a large rasp and also a set of needle files to hand cut the lines. The photo below shows the lines after I used the wood rasp. I stained the rim top again with dark brown stain to have a look.I used some smaller needle files to cut lines between the lines that were already on the rim from the rasp. I wanted the pattern to look more like the patterns on the bowl sides and shank. I restained it with a dark brown stain. Once the stain was flamed and dried I gave the bowl a coat of cherry Danish Oil as a top coat that would add some contrast to the look of the briar and blend the all the repairs and the joint of the two parts of the shank into one cohesive looking piece. I hand buffed the bowl and shank with a soft cloth and then gave it a light buff with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. The contrast looks really good and the coverage makes the repairs blend in really well with the rest of the bowl and shank. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I buffed the stem between the 2400-3200 grit pads and then finished with the pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each grit of pad and then a final time after the 12000 grit pad. I set the stem aside to dry. There were still some faint sanding marks on the stem showing so I buffed the stem with Red Tripoli and then carefully buffed out the scratches with Blue Diamond on the wheel. I was able to polish the stem and it shone nicely. I buffed the nickel band and then lightly buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and gave the bowl and shank several coats of Conservator’s wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine and hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a beauty and should provide a cool smoke to whoever wants to add it to their collection. I will be posting it in the rebornpipes store soon. Thanks for looking.