Blog by Steve Laug
I have been refreshing some pipes for a friend of mine who used to own a pipe shop and putting them on the rebornpipes store. I have worked on some higher end silver capped Peterson’s and a Peterson’s 2012 Pipe of the Year. All of them were beautiful pipes and all had some measure of attraction for me, but I was able to let them go and put them up for sale on the store. When I opened the next box to look over the pipe inside and see what I needed to do with it before posting it on the store, I was surprised. The labeling on the box could not have been clearer. It said it was a Stanwell Pipe on the lid and on the end it said it was a Stanwell Rhodesian 170. I have seen photos of the Stanwell Rhodesian but had never seen one up close and personal. I was excited to open this box and see what it contained. I took photos of the box before I opened it and also of the process of taking the pipe out and assessing its condition and the work I would need to do with it.It was a beautiful pipe even though it was dirty. As I looked at in the box I did a quick overview of its condition. The stem was oxidized and there was some calcification on the first half-inch of the stem at the button. There was light tooth chatter. The brass band was oxidized on the shank but looked solid. The sandblast portion of the bowl was dirty but the finish looked good underneath the grime. The twin rings around the bowl were dirty and filled in a bit with debris. The rim cap was smooth and dull looking. The top of the rim had a light coat of lava and some darkening. The bowl had a light cake and the pipe smelled like Lane’s 1Q – a sweet vanilla overtone pervaded the entire pipe and box.Just looking at it in the box I could see that this pipe was going to be a hard one to let go of, I can tell you that even before I start working on it. I took it out of the box and put it on the work table and took photos of it before I started to clean it up. You can see all of the points I made above regarding it s condition as you look at the following photos. I took close up photos of the rim top to show the lava and darkening and well as the thickness of the cake in the bowl. The second photo shows the stamping on the lower left side of the shank. It reads Stanwell over Rhodesian over Made in Denmark. The last two photos show the stem condition and the oxidation and tooth chatter on both sides near the button. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer using the second cutting head first then progressing to the third head as it was the same size as the bowl. I wanted to trim the cake back to bare briar and clean the bowl completely. I followed up with using a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to clean up the remnants of cake. I rolled a piece of 220 grit sandpaper around my index finger and sanded the inside of the bowl smooth. With the bowl clean inside it was time to address the lava overflow on the rim top. You can see from the first photo that the inner edge of the bowl is in good condition as is the surface of the rim top. There are no dents or nicks in the briar. I lightly sanded the rim with a worn piece of 220 grit sandpaper and wiped it clean with a damp cotton pad. I was able to clean off the rim top and remove the lava and darkening. I polished the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim top off after each sanding pad to remove the sanding dust. I touched up the polished rim top with a Cherry stain pen to match the colour of the rest of the smooth cap on the bowl. I let it dry and repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage. It still needed to be buffed but it matched well.I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Before & After Restoration Balm to clean, enliven and protect the finish of the briar. I worked it into the surface with my finger tips and buffed it with a horsehair shoe brush to work it into all the nooks and crannies of the sandblast. I buffed if off with a soft cloth and hand buffed it with the shoe brush. The photos below show the finish at this point in the process. With the outside cleaned it was time to work on the internals. I scrubbed the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. I worked over the inside of the mortise and the airway into the bowl until the pipe cleaners and cotton swabs came out clean. I did the same with the slot and the airway in the stem. I wiped down the outside of the stem to remove the calcification with a cotton pad and alcohol.I sanded out the tooth chatter and remnants of calcification with 220 grit sandpaper and also worked on the oxidation on the surface of the stem. It was light so it did not take too much work to remove the majority of it with the sandpaper.I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 to remove the scratching left behind by the sandpaper and also more of the oxidation on the stem. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads to polish the vulcanite and give it a real shine. When I finished I polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both fine and extra fine polishes. I wiped it down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I the polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the 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 microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I am sure that this one is staying with me. I look forward to carrying on the trust from the previous pipeman. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 inches. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this beautiful Stanwell Rhodesian.